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Two killed as heavy rain lashes Bengal

Kolkata: Two persons were killed in rain-related incidents in Bankura district of West Bengal as heavy rain continued to lash the state since Thursday, officials said on Friday.

The Met department forecast more downpour in the state owing to a low pressure area in south Odisha and West Central Bay of Bengal.

The weatherman, however, held out a ray of hope for good weather on Kali Puja and Diwali to be celebrated in the weekend, forecasting a clear sky from Saturday afternoon. In Indpur block of Bankura district, an elderly man and a woman died because of drowning and wall collapse respectively on Thursday, District Magistrate Umashankar S said.

The Met department forecast heavy to very heavy rain in East and West Midnapore, South 24 Parganas districts of Gangetic West Bengal.

Heavy rain is likely at one or two places over districts of Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and in Howrah, North 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, Nadia, Birbhum, Hooghly and East Burdwan districts of Gangetic West Bengal, the weatherman said. The seaside resort town of Digha on Bay of Bengal coast recorded the highest rainfall in the state in 24 hours till 8.30 am on Friday at 226 mm.

The East Midnapore district administration has advised the fishermen not to venture into the deep sea, district officials said. The state capital Kolkata (41.4 mm) experienced continuous rain throughout the night and it continued in the morning.Normal life was affected in the metropolis as incessant downpour forced people to remain indoors, while many schools declared a holiday owing to the weather conditions.

The other places that experienced heavy rain were Contai (116 mm), Diamond Harbour (69 mm), Asansol (63 mm), Bankura (63 mm) and Barrackpore (49 mm).

Rain played spoilsport as shopkeepers claimed sale of crackers dipped due to bad weather at Bazi Bazar at Shahid Minar Maidan two days ahead of Diwali on Friday.

"The fair, exhibiting an array of firecrackers, is wearing deserted look with a few customers this year. The sale is 95 percent down. To be frank, the customers have started coming in the late evening today," said Omar Mukhtar, owner of Babu Bhai stall.

While the Bazi Bazar at Shahid Minar Maidan was thrown open to the public on Wednesday, the total number of stalls in the fair is 39.

However, the traders hinted that the restrictions on firecrackers are increasing each year. Due to this the customer footfall is decreasing.

"Every year, I buy crackers from Bazi Bazaar. This year, I dropped the plan to buy it due from there due to rain. I will buy it from the nearby shop," said Rakesh Kumar Rakesh Kumar Thar, an advocate and resident of Picnic Garden.

"West Bengal has Rs 6,000 crore cracker business during Diwali. Last year, we incurred 40 percent loss because the venue was shifted from Shahid Minar to Vivekananda Park in Southern Avenue. This year, we are worried that cracker market is likely to be effected due to bad weather. However, I am hopeful that the situation will be better at the last moment," said Babla Ray, chairman of Sara Bangla Atasbazi Unnayan Samity.

While a low-pressure area over South Odisha headed towards north-north-westwards, the Met department predicted heavy rain in some places of Bengal till Saturday morning.

"In comparison to last year's price, the cost of each

cracker has hiked by at least by 15 percent due to GST and hike in stall rent. Sales of Diwali crackers will peak after Dhanteras with only two days remaining for festival of light," said Mukhtar.

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