Monday, October 29, 2007

More Room for Tigers in Bihar Sanctuary

A large number of villagers will have to be rehabiliated and appropriate compensation be given to them. The only Tiger Reserve of Bihar Valmikinagar Tiger Project (VTP), situated in Bettiah, West Champaran has witnessed a sharp decline in the number of Big Cats. The Bihar government is taking the issue with great concern and drawing a plant to shift the human population from the area.

The planning to shift human population from 28 villages in the core area of Valmikinagar in Bettiah come into light following the CAG report. To provide more space to the tigers at the only Tiger Reserve in Bihar a possible relocation of human population is looming ahead. This move follows the Ministry of Forests and Environment’s decision to relocate 1,500 villages situated in the core area of 28 tiger reserves in the country. The office of CAG has sent report of 2005-2006 to the state government describing the number of tigers in the said tiger reserves to be only 33 in VTP as against 56 tigers were counted in 2002.

According to this report, the nearby human population is said to be the main reason behind the depleting numbers of tigers in the reserves.

Confirming this, Chief Wildlife Warden Murariji Mishra said that there had been large-scale human encroachment on the tiger reserve area. “In a bid to lessen human interference, the ministry decided to shift 1,500 villages from 28 tiger reserves in the country. In the VTP too human activities have badly affected the tiger population as well as their prey base,” Murariji Mishra said.

The latest census report on the wildlife in the Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve is still awaited. When asked about the approxiamte figure of big Cats in the forest the forest officials unwillingly said the number to be around 50. "It is on the basis of the daily reports filed by the field staff and the evidence gathered through the camera trap technique in the forests. The actual number might be greater than this" said a Project Tiger official.

Ludhiana blast an act of 'revenge'?

There are more reasons to believe, rather than disbelieve, that there is a Khalistani-ISI angle to the recent Ludhiana bomb blast. The ISI has been outsourcing many of its anti-Indian activities to Dhaka backed fundamentalist outfits. Off and on the Pak agency is also turning for help to some Indian outfits long patronised by it. So much so, the assignment of Shringar cinema blast to the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), a largely Pakistan-based terrorist group is in order.

With active help from the ISI, the BKI is believed to have acquired proficiency in making the kind of bomb that ripped through the Shringar cinema hall which was screening a Bhojpuri film. A Bhojpuri film in heartland of Punjab? Well, the state's farm lands are serviced by a large number of migrant workers from Bihar and eastern UP. And for them, a Bhojpuri film is a welcome diversion to the celluloid world of make believe. Many cinema halls across Punjab have stuck it rich with daily Bhojpuri offerings.

The Ludhiana bomb explosion looked like a copy of the two bomb explosions in Delhi at the Liberty and Satyam cinema halls in 2005. Ludhiana's Minerva cinema hall also was hit by a bomb explosion in 1995. BKI was the chief suspect in all these blasts.

After the Liberty cinema hall blast, the Delhi police recovered a cache of arms and explosives, unearthed finance and fake currency trails to Pakistan and discovered many sleeper cells in Punjab, all leading to the belief that there was a clear collusion between the ISI and the Khalistanis. The ISI was also found to have used Punjab, Jalandhar in particular, as one of its hubs for flooding India with fake currency notes.

Some people seem to think that the Ludhiana blast was only meant to scare away the migrant workers as the farming sector in Punjab is going through its own problems. Targeting them makes no sense because without these Biharis and east UPians Punjab will find it even more difficult to sustain farming.

Ludhiana blast could be an act of 'revenge' for the death sentence on one of the killers of the former chief minister of Punjab, Beant Singh. The sentence was awarded on July 7. If this indeed is the case, it confirms the belief that a clear attempt is being made to revive the Khalistani movement in Punjab.

Everybody in India knows that no matter what Islamabad says in public it has absolutely no intention of dismantling the considerable anti-Indian infrastructure operating from territories under its control in Kashmir and mainland Pakistan. That being the case, it was a mistake if anybody thought that the security forces and 'super cop' KPS Gill had effectively put down the separatist Khalistani movement by 1993. The Khalistanis were down but not out. Their main sources are intact - ISI in Pakistan and a few rich and influential pro-Khalistani NRIs in the UK and the US.

The Babbar Khalsa International group is the oldest of the Khalistani groups and also perhaps the most organised too. Its leader, Wadhawa Singh, continues to live and operate from Pakistan. Islamabad has stonewalled all efforts by India to get him back. Irrespective of the nature of rule in Pakistan-dictatorship or 'democracy'--men like him will never be extradited to India by the Pakistani rulers who thrive on overt and covert hatred and animus towards India.

Only a Pakistani leader 'foolish' enough to rewrite the fundamentals of his country's engagement with India would entertain the idea of sending back to India a man trained by the ISI so assiduously to create havoc in the 'enemy' country. Besides, the ISI can be assumed to have regained its 'freedom' to deal with India in the way it has done in the past-backing acts of subversion. Interestingly, the ISI chief has just been promoted to the most coveted job in Pakistan, the chief of army.

In order to deflect attention from the ISI, Pakistan has started dragging India's name in the tribal rebellion in its 'lawless' western provinces close to the Afghan border. At times, the shrieking spokesmen of Pakistan are petulant. If they are to be believed India committed a grave act of provocation by sending excursion teams to Kargil! Ditto, for a joint exercise by the Indian and British army in Ladakh. Neither activity is of recent origin.

Security analysts in India believe that under pressure from the ISI the BKI has become very active in the past six months in order to revive the Khalistani movement through propaganda in the West. Funds have generously flown from Pakistan even as the government there is engaged in its own battle of survival and feeling the heat from the fundamentalists groups.

Since the West has decided to wink at Pakistan's continuous support to militancy in Kashmir, Islamabad has had no trouble in maintaining its old ties with the separatists in both Kashmir and Punjab. ISI has been nurturing what is known as the K2 policy which seeks to have a common thread running between the Kashmiri and Khalistani militant groups so that India comes under that much more pressure.

The recent spate for troubles for the Pakistani president, Gen Parvez Musharraf, is said to have weakened his authority, which can only mean that in its relentless anti-Indian pursuit, the ISI will not receive any restraining instructions from whoever runs the government in the country. In any case, even when he was in 'absolute' control over the affairs of his country, Musharraf had only prevented the ISI-backed terrorist groups from launching big operations against India-like the attack on the Indian parliament. Reality is neither he nor anyone else in Pakistan is ready to give up the policy of 'bleeding' India, which essentially means killing innocent civilians on a regular basis.

India's toilet champion sees human liberation in loos for all

The International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi. For India'sThe theme of toilets for all will be taking centre stage in New Delhi, when the capital hosts the seventh International Toilet Summit this week

For India's low-cost toilet champion, each new loo means freedom not just from rampant disease, but one more chance to liberate someone from doing the awful job of disposing of someone else's waste.

In the centuries-old caste system, with its ingrained fear of "pollution," the deepest revulsion has traditionally been reserved for those who do India's dirty work, such as taking away human waste from homes in buckets.

"The entire community did a good excellent job for society -- without them people would have died of disease," Bindeshwar Pathak said of India's low-caste community.

"What did society do for them? It made them into 'untouchables.'"

For more than three decades Pathak, who founded the sanitation promotion organisation Sulabh (Convenience), has been promoting toilets that are cheap to build and don't require a sewer connection.

And from Wednesday, the theme of toilets for all will be taking centre stage in New Delhi, when the capital hosts the seventh International Toilet Summit.

Pathak, inspired by freedom icon Mahatma Gandhi, kicked off his lavatory mission after he lived with a community of "night soil scavengers" for a few months in the 1970s, and after a childhood incident.

Pathak, a Brahmin, remembers being severely reprimanded by his grandmother for once touching a low-caste woman in his village in Bihar state.

"She made a hue and cry," said Pathak, smiling as he recounted the event that he remembers as one of the most defining moments in his life. "She made me swallow cow dung, cow urine, sand and Ganges water to purify me."

The organisation he started has since built 1.2 million toilets in India that are used by 10.5 million people a day.

But that's just a drop in the bucket in a country where more than 700 million need proper toilets that dispose of waste without polluting soil or water.

Every year almost 400,000 Indian children die because of diarrhoea, according to Unicef, largely because of contaminated water.

Even in cities, about 100 million people don't have proper toilets, and many of these still rely on people to carry their feces away in buckets or to periodically unclog public drains into which the waste flows.

In capital New Delhi, official figures say a fifth of its 14 million residents are not connected to a sewage system. Some estimates say the figure is half.

Those in rural areas use their fields or, in what is a common sight for train travellers, head to railway tracks.

And women head in the early morning or night to hidden spots, leaving them vulnerable to sexual assault, development workers say.

The conference, with participants from 40 countries, will discuss how to remedy the lot of the 2.6 billion people globally who need sanitation, a number the UN hopes to halve by 2015 as part of its Millenium Development Goals.

But Pathak says western toilets based on sewage pipes and abundant water will never get the job done in the developing world, where more than 99 percent of the loos are needed.

"It is so costly in construction and the water it requires is so enormous. It is totally impossible for them," he said.

"It was designed for a city of three million or six million. In this city eight million have no facilities."

Pathak is promoting another environmentally-friendly toilet system that recycles human waste into biogas without releasing greenhouse gases. The gas can then be piped for electricity or cooking.

"We want others to know about this technology, which was recently installed at Kabul, Afghanistan, because it can help meet the Millennium Development Goals and reduce global warming," he said.

So far, the organisation has built 175 of these toilets, which are being used by 175,000 people.

But Pathak admits the system -- though odourless -- will take a little getting used to, recalling a party of Cambodians who went queasy upon finding out that the food they had eaten at Sulabh's offices was cooked with this gas.

The four-day conference is being jointly organised with the World Toilet Organisation, which was founded in 2001 and aims to make sanitation a key global issue and now says it has 55 member groups from 42 countries.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

200 villages around Nalanda varsity to be developed

Nearly 200 villages around the proposed Nalanda International University in Bihar will be developed soon. It will change the socio-economic conditions of thousands of families, eagerly waiting for development since the last several decades.

This was disclosed by none other than Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Patna on Friday.

"Nearly 50 villages around the proposed Nalanda International University have already been marked for the economic development and work is going on to identify other villages," Nitish said.

The Patna-based K P Jaiswal Reserach Institute was assigned the job by the state government early this year for identification of villages that were linked with the ancient Nalanda university.

Experts said that 200 villages used to be attached to the ancient Nalanda university.

Official sources in the Chief Minister's Office told that Nitish Kumar is taking keen interest to develop villages around the proposed university to establish linkages like the ancient Nalanda university.

Nalanda, about 100 km from Patna, is the famous Buddhist centre of learning in Bihar. Lord Buddha is known to have visited the town several times. So did Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainisim.

Nalanda is also the home district of Nitish Kumar. He won the last Lok Sabha election in 2004 from Nalanda seat.

"The state government has chalked out a special plan to develop these villages," an official said.

All the basic amenities including, schools, roads, safe drinking water and electricity will be provided in these villages and job opportunities will also be created for the villagers.

The government will take help of international funding agencies and Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Mauritius for the development of these villages around the proposed university.

According to official sources, the villages will be developed in such a way to ensure the daily requirements of the students of the proposed residential university spread in nearly 500 acres of land.

The state government has already acquired the land.

"It will provide the best package for rehabilitation of all displaced farmers for acquiring the land for the university," officials said.

The Bihar Assembly unanimously approved the University of Nalanda Bill 2007, in March 2007 for the setting up of an international university. The bill stated that the international university will strive to create a world free of war, terror and violence.

The government had appointed former president A P J Abdul Kalam as the first visitor to the proposed university.

The first meeting of the Nalanda Mentor Group, headed by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen to oversee the opening of the university was held in Singapore in July. Three more meetings will be held soon.

The idea of the university was first mooted in the late 1990s, but it was Kalam's initiative in 2006 that gave shape to the project.

Tibetan Spiritual leader Dalai Lama had offered to donate artifacts of Tibetan Buddhism to the proposed international university.

The detail project report was prepared by the Educational Consultants of India, a consulting company.

The DPR states that in its first phase the university will offer only post-graduate, research, doctoral and post-doctoral degrees. However, the DPR is also in favour of offering undergraduate courses in specific areas.

The university will impart courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along with other subjects. An internationally known scholar will be the chancellor of the university.

Some 1,137 students from both India and abroad will be enrolled in the first year. By the fifth year, the number will go up to 4,530.

In the second phase, the enrolment of students will increase to 5,812.

The university, on a sprawling 500 acre campus, will have a 1:10 faculty-student ratio.

The 46 international faculty members will receive an estimated $36,000 per annum as salaries.

The excavated remains at Nalanda are protected as a site of national importance. The university, a 5th century architectural marvel, was home to over 10,000 students and nearly 2,000 teachers.

Nalanda is the Sanskrit name for "giver of knowledge".

Nalanda University, which existed until 1197 AD, attracted students and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey, besides being a pedestal of higher education in India.

Though it was devoted to Buddhist studies, it also trained students in subjects like fine arts, medicine, mathematics.

Patna family seeks funds to treat son

A one-and-a-half year old child in Patna is fighting for life after he was diagnosed with blood cancer two months ago.

The boy is being treated at Mumbai's Tata Memorial Hospital and the doctors have advised a bone marrow transplant by December, which would cost around Rs 10 lakh. The family is now faced with the difficult task of raising the enormous amount for their son's surgery.

Krish's father works as an assistant at a pathology lab in Patna and earns just Rs 800 a month.

''After investigations it was diagnosed that my son is suffering from blood cancer. The doctors say it would require Rs 8-10 lakh for the treatment. I said that our family would not be able to meet the expense of the treatment since we are not well off,'' said Deepak Kumar, Krish's father.

Krish's family even met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Railway Minister Laloo Yadav, seeking help with treatment for their child. They even wrote a letter to the President and Prime Minister but none has responded.

''If the government helps us then we will go to Mumbai for the treatment otherwise we will not be able to go. We are a family of ten members. It is difficult to get my grandson treated at our own expense,'' said Rajendra Prasad, Krish's grandfather.

Krish's family urgently needs assistance. Only God can help the child unless somebody steps forth to bear the hospital expenses.

To help Krish:

* You can send in cheques/ demand drafts in favour of Krish's father, Deepak Kumar to the SBI A/C no- 30010712560, Kadam Kuan Branch, Patna-4

* Call Prakash Singh at 9934907200 / 9431016165 or email him at

* Get in touch with the family at: C/o Rajendra Prasad, Nala Road, Mahaveer Sthan, DR, V N singh lane Patna--4.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Corridor Whispers-Sonia's new "sights" in Bihar

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is not sitting idle. She has been eying elections 2007, 2008 and 2009 in various assemblies as well as lok Sabha. Bihar is under her watch list and its tally of 40-Lok Sabha seats is said to be prompting some loud thinking. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is seen as a potential ally on account of his track record and secular outlook. A former Congress leader now in Janata Dal (U) leader Sadanand Singh is said to be doing the spadework. If everything goes fine, Sonia would consider bringing JD (U) on board the UPA. This would however be possible if current ally and RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav is routed in 15th Lok Sabha.
BIHAR, India, 24 October 2007 – Sita Devi was the first woman to give birth at the newly established facility known as the ‘maternity hut’ at the Bargamaghachi camp in Samastipur. For over a month, Bargamaghachi has been home to more than 600 families from six villages as they wait for the floodwaters to recede so they can return to their homes.

In a unique initiative to ensure that pregnant women have access to proper medical care during that time, UNICEF and the Government of Bihar set up a maternity facility to provide care for expectant mothers.

As the first new mother in the camp, Sita was awarded $250 by the Chief Minister of Bihar, Janani Suraksha Yojana.

“It is already a blessing that my wife was in good hands during delivery. The $250 was a most fortunate surprise,” said Sita’s husband.

Floods' impact on maternal mortality

Since the opening of the ‘maternity hut’, six other women have had their babies delivered at the Bargamaghachi camp, where they have received professional care and cash incentives for using the facility. Another 76 pregnant women have also received antenatal care, including counselling, vaccinations, and vitamin and mineral supplements.

“I wasn’t as scared as my earlier deliveries at home with just the midwife and neighbours. I was much more relaxed this time,” said Manju Devi, 26, who delivered her third child at the maternity hut.

The maternal mortality rate for Bihar is among the highest in the country, with 371 deaths for every 100,000 live births. Only 34.1 per cent of pregnant women in the entire state receive any form of antenatal care.

“The population is susceptible to superstitions and taboos, which makes it even more urgent for pregnant women to receive maternal care,” noted UNICEF project officer Dr. Sherin Varkey. “Considering the low rates of antenatal care in Bihar, we were very concerned about how they would be further impacted during the floods.”

Relief for outpatients

Each maternity hut is staffed with four auxiliary nurse midwives, four paramedics and three doctors, and equipped with basic medical equipment and furniture. Electricity is provided by an onsite generator

“Our facility is very well maintained. We have all the supplies that are needed to ensure safe deliveries,” said auxiliary midwife Shakuntala Devi, who has assisted three births.

The maternity hut also has an outpatient department where health workers offer diagnoses and prescribe medications for everything ranging from diarrhoea to skin infections, which are common during floods. More than 1,160 patients have been treated at this camp alone.

“Being able to deliver in a hygienic environment, attended by a skilled birth attendant, could mean the difference between life and death for both the mother and the child,” said UNICEF Representative in Bihar Bijay Rajbhandari.

Nitish finds his muse in Sher Shah Suri

Patna, Oct 25 Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has found his inspiration in Sher Shah Suri, the 16th century founder of the Suri dynasty known for initiating path-breaking reforms.

'Sher Shah Suri is my idol. He is my inspiration,' said Nitish Kumar, who has been trying to put Bihar on the path of development, after visiting the Muslim ruler's tomb in Sasaram, about 150 km from here, Wednesday.

'We all respect and remember him for his developmental work,' he said.

Nitish Kumar has been widely described as 'Vikash Purush' or 'man for development' by leaders of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for initiating numerous development projects in Bihar.

Sher Shah Suri (1472-1545) is also known as Sher Khan or the Lion King. Although his empire was short-lived, from 1539 to 1545, he left a deep imprint on the minds of the people - and history - by carrying out infrastructure projects, like building long stretches of roads, bridges, wayside inns etc.

The chief minister promised help for preservation and protection of Suri's tomb, which is facing threats from pollution and encroachment.

The five-storey mausoleum stands on a tank whose water has turned acidic, posing a threat to its survival.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) two years back warned the state government about the ecological threat to the tomb. ASI officials said the tank's water had turned acidic and was polluted due to its use by local residents. Untreated sewage and effluents flow into the tank, which is spread over a large area. 'The tank's water is posing a serious threat to the mausoleum's life,' an ASI official said.

The ASI official also urged the state to ban immersion of idols in the tank and restrict any construction within a radius of 200 m of the mausoleum.

The district administration allowed the immersion of idols in the tank from 1980 after a pond in the neighbourhood dried up.

Encroachments have come up on the mausoleum's premises. Though the state government claims to have spent Rs.700,000 to Rs.800,000 on the tomb's maintenance, it appears to have been done only on paper.

The tomb was declared a national heritage under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (1958). The ASI took it over for preservation and protection in 1938.

Association of Bihar Cricket (ABC) to hold twenty-20 cricket match in Bihar- Azad

Patna: Association of Bihar Cricket (ABC) president Kirti Azad today announced to hold a twenty-20 cricket tournament in the state.

Speaking at the end of ABC's 5th Annual General Meeting, the former Indian star said the shorter version of cricket would help the district level cricket. He said the players would be selected on the basis of their last two-three performences in the current season.

The tournament may also feature some of the non-playing members from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh cricket team as he had approached some of them to play in the tournament, Azad added.

When asked about running a parallel cricket association in Bihar, he said he was only striving for promoting cricket in Bihar.

He said it was his association, ABC, which had been recognised in both Bihar and Jharkhand.

Regarding M S Dhoni he said the wicket-keeper batsman was doing a great job under tremendous pressure and for which the country was proud of him as he had brought the glory of ''World champion'' after about 24 years.

Buddha`s Ahimsa the only solution to growing extremism-Nitish

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said the theory of 'Ahimsa', originally propounded by Lord Buddha, is the only solution to growing extremism and terrorism across the globe.

Inaugurating a function in Rajgir to mark the 38th anniversary of 'Vishwa Shanti Stupa' at Ratnagiri peak, Mr Kumar said the United Nations' declaration of October 2, Gandhi Jayanti, as Non-Violence Day this year ''was an open testimony of the fact that its original propounder Lord Buddha`s ideologies had recognition of the world community.

Mr Kumar also said his Government was committed to revatilising the historical Nalanda University, the original seat of Buddhist learning. The Government, he said, was working on various aspects, including aims and objectives of reviving Buddhist learning.

''Some issues had been resolved. Like former president and eminent scientist APJ Abdul Kalam has agreed to be the `visitor` of the Nalanda International University while eminent economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and a Harvard University faculty Sugatha Bose are on the board of the advisory panel for completing the project at the earliest,'' he added.

Those accompanying Mr Kumar included Road Construction and Tourism Minister Nand Kishore Yadav,Energy Minister Vijender Yadav and Agriculture Minister Narender Singh.

Investment Proposal worth 37000 Crore ( USD 9 Billion)cleared

PATNA: Today in a measure decision taken by the Government, The state Govt. cleared an Investment for more more than USD 9 Billion.

As per the Govt. sources, the cleared investment proposals are in the filed of Power Generation,Sugar and Cement.

As per the State Govt. sources one realised, these investment would create direct 100,000 jobs.

Patnaites pledged with a difference.

For people across society chose to be the voice of those who spend their lives in oblivion and die incognito.
The pledge, taken for cause of the poor, was: "Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger from the face of the earth and achieve 8-point millennium development goals (MDGs) by 2015". Over a thousand people raised their hands when justice Mihir Kumar Jha of Patna High Court read out the pledge at a programme organised by the Bihar branch of Art of Living (AOL) at Bharatiya Nritya Kala Mandir . Delivering the inaugural speech, state health minister Chandramohan Rai praised the participants for showing concern for the deprived and promised every possible help from the state government to achieve the desired results. "It is really good that civil society is coming forward for causes hitherto supposed to be the responsibility of government alone," he said.
The AOL and the United Nations Millennium Campaign for "Stand Up & Speak Out" is a part of the worldwide campaign for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. Speaking to TOI on the sidelines of the programme, the AOL Bihar coordinator Ritesh Raj said the purpose of organising such programmes is to remind countries about their promises made in the UN in 2000 to build a safer, more prosperous and equitable world for all by the year 2015.

It may be recalled that AOL Founder Sri Sri Ravi Shanker has joined the UN Millennium Campaign and pledged to engage and mobilise four million people around the globe on the day in the UN Millennium Campaign to "Stand Up and Speak Out" against poverty and hunger.Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, universalisation of primary education, promoting gender equity and women's empowerment, reduction in child mortality rate, improving maternal health, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, to ensure environmental sustainability and to develop a global partnership for development, are the eight goals which the heads of 189 countries have taken pledge to fulfil.

PMCH's dept keen to be different

PATNA: A department in the Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) which chooses to stand out is the physiology department by implementing new schemes and learning methodology. The students during their course undergo computer training after which they are assessed by computer simulated problems.

The department has a physiology museum which is one of its kind in India. "The models put up for display in the museum have been made by students of the department under the guidance of their teachers," said head of physiology department, Dr Rajiv Ranjan Prasad.

The department runs four degree courses including MBBS, Bachelor of Dental Surgery, Bachelor of Physiotherapy and Bachelor of Occupational Therapy.

"Students are provided with adequate facilities in terms of classrooms, labs and equipments in the department," said Dr Prasad.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2nd largest Vishnu idol in Bihar

The largest idol of Lord Vishnu in North India has been spotted at Samas village in Sheikhpura district. The Bihar State Board of Religious Trusts has urged the state government to construct a mini-Tirupati temple in the village on the pattern of the one at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

The idol is made of black granite and measures 7.5 feet in length and 3.5 feet in width. It belongs to the Gupta period and was recovered during the excavation of an old village tank in 1992. Its four arms carry a "sankh (conch)", a "chakra (discus)", a "gada (club)" and a "padma (lotus)".

The idol has been installed in a makeshift temple on a sprawling 15-bigha campus of the tank. Samas village is located five km from Barbigha subdivision town and 25 km from Biharsharif. This village appears to be a great centre of iconography because a large number of idols have been recovered from here and its neighbouring regions in the recent years.

There are two figures — one masculine and another feminine — below the left and right arms of the idol. An idol of Goddess Laxmi was also recovered during the excavation but it was stolen about 40 years back.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

BITA Strives to Evolve Bihar into an IT Hub

Fresh from the recent change of guard, the Bihar IT Association (BITA) has set its sight on projecting Bihar as the new IT hub with some help from the government.

According to P.K.Sinha, treasurer of BITA, the government has launched project Vasudha in its bid to enhance the IT-sector. "Vasudha has paved the way for more than 7,450 computer centers to be set up in the state," he said.

The state government has also given its consent to be a part of a trade fair that the association is planning to organize by the end of this year. If everything goes according to plan, then 2 IT development parks - one announced by the state, and the other by the central government - will be set up by next year.

At the Annual General Meeting of the association on September 23, S.N. Prasad, a member of the previous 10-member executive committee replaced Ravi Prakash, as the new president of BITA. Besides a new secretary and treasurer were also elected.

Talking to media, Prasad said that the association will submit a memorandum to the state government in a few days, stating its expectations from the legislative body. "We're also hoping to participate in the future IT policy making process," he said.

Sinha lamented that despite having the necessary facilities, Bihar's potential as an IT hub hasn't been realized completely.

The association will elect zonal heads in the 5 different zones of the state, based on their (zonal heads) proximity to the region, and entrust them with the responsibility of handling IT related issues in their region.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bihar plans Rs 25 crore panchayat e-Gov project

Patna: The Government of Bihar has given its go ahead to implement an Rs 25.2 crore e-Governance project to cover all its 8,479 panchayats.

The proposal that was approved last week at a state cabinet meeting in Patna aims at setting up a panchayat information centres or panchayat portals called Vasudha Kendras that will enable villagers to connect with the outside world and provide affordable and easy access to information about the government and its policies.

These Vasudha Kendras would further be connected to all state departments through the Internet and the government will provide computers and Internet connections at the panchayat level centre. According to the plan, eight government departments, including the chief minister secretariat, will be linked to the State-wide Area Network (SWAN).

The project aims at establishing direct contact with villagers and making the functioning of the government more transparent.

According to reports, the project would be developed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) along with the Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation, a state-owned IT body, while Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) will monitor the implementation.

The state had provided top administrative officials and ministers with laptops as part of its e-Governance initiative only recently. Besides, it has also connected all its 38 district headquarters through video-conferencing link.

Bihar among top 10 states to spend on road

Ministry of road transport and highways allocates about Rs 1,500 crore annually on upgradation of state highways and roads to national highways.

While states like Goa, Haryana, Karnataka and Rajasthan have spent well over the national average, surprisingly Bihar has also been aggressive in road-building. It is one of the top 10 states, spending nearly 40% of funds, well above the national average, in both repair and highway upgradation.

The national average expenditure on projects under the Central Road Fund (CRF) is also a paltry 31% while expenditure on bridges (under the permanent bridge fee fund) is just about 23%.

Union transport secretary Brahm Dutt said delay in sanctioning funds had caused dissatisfaction amongst states.

However, in a recent review, Dutt has set up a central level task force to monitor the progress made by states.

"We have directed chief engineer-level officials to ...ensure the requisite sanctions are given by October-end," Dutt said.

The ministry itself will allocate 75% of the fund by December-end. "Project feasibility reports will be subject to a quarterly review by senior officials and I will also monitor the progress," Dutt said.

Yokogawa Receives Control System Contract for Supercritical Coal Fired argest thermal power plant in bihar ( Capacity 1,980 MW )

Yokogawa Electric (TSE: 6841; US: YOKEF), a global leader in the fields of measurement, control and information, announces that Yokogawa India Limited has received a contract from National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. (NTPC), India's largest power utility, to supply an automation and control system for a new supercritical coal fired power plant project in Bihar state. This contract is estimated to be worth 11.8 million US dollars.

When completed, the Barth Supercritical Coal-fired Power Plant will generate a total of 1,980 MW (3 units x 660 MW), making it the largest thermal power plant in Bihar. Unit 1 is planned to start operation in October 2009. India's power industry has been straining to keep up with the country's recent economic growth, and the expansion of power generation capacity has become a top priority. Consequently, NTPC plans to add 11 GW in capacity through the construction of new coal fired power plants by 2012. The Barth Power Plant is one of these planned facilities.

In this project, Yokogawa India is providing instrumentation systems for the boilers and other utilities of three power generators. These include the CENTUM CS 3000 R3 Distributed Control System, PRM Plant Resource Manager, DPharp EJA Pressure/Differential Pressure Transmitters, and IR8A Infrared Gas Analyzers. As part of its full turnkey project solution, Yokogawa India is also providing engineering, installation, and commissioning services.

NTPC selected Yokogawa for this project because of the extensive track record that Yokogawa India has acquired over the past 20 years in the installation of control systems for various kinds of coal-fired and captive power plants in the Indian power market. Yokogawa India's power plant automation experience, expertise, and engineering capability are very highly regarded by NTPC.

Yokogawa has set its sights on becoming the frontrunner in the global IA market and is making a strategic effort to strengthen its activities worldwide. Taking advantage of the momentum generated by the Barth power project success, Yokogawa will actively pursue further orders both for the growing market in India and for power plant automation systems.

National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPC)

NTTPC was incorporated in the year 1975 to accelerate power development of the country as a wholly owned company. . At present, the Government of India holds an 89.5% of the total equity shares of the company.

* Supercritical coal fired power plant

This type of plant employs a technology that causes fluids to evaporate before they reach the boiling point, thereby reducing the consumption of thermal energy. When water is pressurized beyond the critical pressure point, steam is produced to drive a turbine. Because this technology has good thermal efficiency, it is said that supercritical technology will be the wave of the future of the coal fired power plants.

"speedy trial campaign" launched by the state government restoring the people's faith in the judicial system

The court order awarding death and life imprisonment to Anand Mohan and Lovely Anand has sent shivers down the spines of many more politicians in Bihar against whom criminal cases are pending.

Some influential politicians, mainly MPs and MLAs, are facing trial and for some others verdicts could come any day. Those in the line of fire include MPs Prabhunath Singh (JD-U) and Surajbhan Singh (LJP), suspended JD(U) MLA Narendra Pandey alias Sunil Pandey and former MLA Rajan Tewary. Another MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav of RJD is also in the queue. Bihar principal home secretary Afzal Amanullah said bureaucracy, across the board, welcomed the verdict.

Though people were sceptical of the "speedy trial campaign" launched by the state government, the court's order has restored the people's faith in the judicial system, he added.

"The government is keen that whosoever and howsoever powerful he/she may be, without any favour, will face the consequences, if convicted by the court," Amanullah told TOI on Wednesday.

He also asserted that the court trials would be further accelerated and all the SPs had been ordered to monitor at least ten major cases in their districts. "There may be many elements who are hoping to get some relief once this speedy trial process slows down. But they should note that this will not happen and government is committed to see the law-breakers being adequately punished," he said.

RJD strongman and Siwan MP Mohammad Shahabuddin has been convicted and punished in four separate cases including life term in one of them. There is hardly any hope for him to come out of prison.

The trial of Prabhunath Singh, the vocal JD(U) MP from Maharajganj, is in the final stage and the verdict is awaited any day. The cases relate to abduction and murder. Against LJP MP Surajbhan Singh — an accused in over half-a-dozen criminal cases — the trial has already begun. Similarly, in the Brij Behari murder case, the hearing has been almost completed in the special CBI court and only some legal formalities need to be completed.

Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, the RJD MP from Madhepura, and former MLA Rajan Tewary are the accused in the case. Wednesday's sentence is enough to make those politicians with pending criminal cases against them, a scared lot.

Highest increase in collection from Direct taxes (up highest at 265 %) in Bihar

The booming economy helped the Centre collect 40 per cent more in direct taxes, comprising corporate and personal income taxes, at Rs 1,11,055 crore in the first half this fiscal from Rs 79,208 crore a year ago.

Corporate tax recorded a growth of 41 per cent to touch Rs 72,240 crore till September 30 this fiscal, up from Rs 49,813 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year, according to an official statement here.

Collections from this tax was the highest at 265 per cent in Bihar, not known for much industrialisation, along with Jharkhand. On the other hand, corporate tax collections fell 34 per cent in Vidarbha region.

Personal income tax, including Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT), Securities Transactions Tax (STT) and Banking Cash Transaction Tax (BCTT), rose by 39 per cent at Rs 40,744 crore from Rs 29,329 crore in the corresponding period of the last fiscal.

Vidarbha, which has been in the news for agricultural distress and farmers' suicides, witnessed the highest tax collection growth from this levy at 83 per cent.

Country's financial capital Mumbai recorded a growth of 96 per cent in corporate taxes and 40 per cent in personal income tax. In contrast, the Delhi region saw collections from corporate taxes growing by only eight per cent and from personal income tax by 29 per cent.

Bullish capital markets enabled the government to collect 48 per cent higher collections from STT, the statement said.

Collections from BCTT, which was levied to keep track of black money, grew by 17 per cent, while revenue from FBT recorded a growth of 103 per cent.

The government has set a target of collecting Rs 2,67,490 crore through direct taxes this year, which finance ministry officials said would be surpassed easily.

In fact, direct tax collections are now expected to cross Rs 300,000 crore and for the first time would exceed the revenue from indirect taxes, officials said.

According to the statement, advance tax payments increased by 30 per cent and tax deducted at source by 48 per cent during the first half. This indicates all-round buoyancy in taxes. Besides, self-assessment tax grew by 80 per cent, indicating better tax compliance, the statement said.

Bihar to revive eight sugar mills

Making a final call on the fate of the closed state-owned sugar mills, the Bihar government has formally decided to revive at least eight of them by handing them over to private players on a long-term lease basis. The government is expected to soon invite private bids for reviving the closed mills.

The government had engaged SBI Caps as a consultant to conduct a diagnostic study for their revival. SBI Caps in its report submitted to the government had recommended that of the 15 state-owned closed sugar mills, eight were viable units.

The remaining seven units were non-viable and could be used for any other purpose the government may deem fit. On the basis of SBI Caps’ feasibility report, the government has decided to go for private bids which will allow private players to seek control of the eight closed sugar mills on a lease for 60 years. SBI Caps will also assist the government in the private bid exercise.

The government could have gone for outright sale but it has instead preferred for the lease option to avoid any controversy. “The outright sale option could have raised some unwanted questions. The government obviously felt the lease offer would be a more safer and credible route for the revival of the sick units,” indicated an official of the sugarcane development department.

The eight sick units open for private bidding include Banmakhi, Goraul, Hathua, Lauriya, Motipur, Warsliganj, Lohat and Sugauli. All these mills along with seven other closed mills were one time the hot property of the Bihar State Sugar Development Corporation. However, gradually, one by one, all of them closed in the course of time.

Despite depressed sentiments in the sugar sector, the government is convinced the private players will be interested in the bid, seeking control of the closed companies on a long-term lease basis.

“Private players willing to set up greenfield projects have to contend with land acquisition problems. From this point of view, the players evincing interest in the take over of the closed mills will not have to encounter any such hassle. The closed mills are already in place and have their own lands,” sugarcane development minister Nitish Mishra told ET.

Some of the potential investors in the sugar sector who had even submitted their proposals to the government were of late not keen on pushing through with their investment plans keeping in view the prevailing downtrend cycle in the sugar sector.

Another reason why they may be putting on hold their investment plans could be because they now fancy investments in the closed sugar mills as a far more credible and prudent option.

Air cargo complex to come up at Patna airport soon

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA) for setting up a cargo complex at the Jai Prakash Narayan International Airport in Patna. A joint venture company would be floated which will undertake the development work of the complex. Both AAI and the
state government representatives would be members of the joint venture.

According to the AAI Patna director Atul Dikshit the immediate aim of developing the cargo complex was to provide better opportunity to the agricultural producers. Perishable items like fruits and vegetables cannot be sent to far off markets due to lack of fast mode of transportation. Now the cargo complex would help in overcoming this constraint as producers of such items would have an option to send
their produce to far-flung places using the air connectivity.

It needs to be mentioned that about six years back the then Union minister, (now late) Ramakrishna Hegde, made a similar announcement in this regard. The railways too decided to attach a refrigerated coach in Jan Sadharan Express to Delhi after Lalu Yadav took over as the railway minister in 2004. The purpose was to transport vegetables and fruits to Delhi. Bihar, it needs to be mentioned, comes in the list of first five top producer of vegetables and fruits in the country.

The proposed cargo complex at the airport, according to Dikshit, would have, apart from a cold storage to be used for storing perishable items, would also have modern facilities of handling the goods meant for shipment.