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Another week for rain onset
- Schools told to stay shut, power units revived

Students have been granted respite from the heat, with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee declaring that state-aided schools should stay shut till the monsoon arrives.

'Uff ki gorom! Ei gorome shobar abostha kharap hoye gyachhe (The heat is taking its toll on everyone),' he complained at Writers' Buildings, before Friday evening's squall.

'We have extended the summer vacation in all state-aided schools in the city and elsewhere,' said school education minister Kanti Biswas.

This was decided after the meteorological department ' which issued a heat-wave alert on Thursday ' confirmed that the monsoon was not expected for another week.

The mercury shot up to 39.9 degrees Celsius around 2.30 pm on Friday. Despite the Nor'wester which brought some relief, the heat warning will remain till Saturday, said G.C. Debnath, director of the weather section at the Alipore meteorological centre.

The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education sent out a circular to its affiliated institutions, instructing them to remain closed till the rains. Institutions where examinations are being held, however, will remain open.

'Parents have been requesting us to extend the summer vacation as children are falling ill,' said Gillian Rosemary Hart, principal, Welland Gouldsmith School.

The end may be in sight. 'Strong hot winds from the central Indian plains became weaker on Friday,' said Debnath. The monsoon progressed on Friday to Cooch Behar, parts of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, and the atmosphere is more conducive for the onset of monsoon in south Bengal.

The cyclonic circulation over the Bay of Bengal is intensifying. 'If it forms a low pressure, it will bring the monsoon here quicker,' Debnath added.

More Nor'westers and thunderstorms in Calcutta and in the districts could be expected over the next 24 hours, with 'cloud cells developing over Dumka in Bihar and parts of Birbhum and Burdwan'.

Thursday's power crunch improved on Friday, with the state electricity board supplying over 500 MW to the CESC grid through Friday. The 250 MW unit at CESC's Budge Budge unit, that collapsed on Thursday, is expected to be fired by Friday night.

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