How a Tiny Bit of Indian Soil Might Have Found Its Way to the Moon


New Delhi: Even before India’s much-touted lunar missing, Chandrayaan-2, lands on the moon, a very small biological sample from the country may already be there.

According to The Hindu, this is because the only likely surviving payload onboard the Israeli lunar lander Beresheet, called the Lunar Library, contained a leaf and some soil from the Bodhi tree in Bihar.

Beresheet, whose name is Hebrew for the biblical phrase ‘In the beginning’, was launched on February 21 on board a SpaceX rocket. On April 11, it crash landed on the moon after a series of technical failures during its final descent. It was reported then that the Lunar Library, created by the Arch Mission Foundation (AMF), was likely the only payload that wasn’t destroyed in the crash.

But what is this Lunar Library, and why was it carrying Indian soil?

The Library, according to the AMF, “contains a 30 million page archive of human history and civilisation, covering all subjects, cultures, nations, languages, genres, and time periods”. It’s meant to be a “backup” of life on Earth, in case of human extinction.

It “is housed within a 100 gram nanotechnology device that resembles a 120mm DVD. However it is actually composed of 25 nickel discs, each only 40 microns thick,” AMF says.

Nova Spivack, co-founder of the AMF, told The Hindu in an email that a small sample from the Bodhi tree, along with material on learning Hindi, Urdu and information on music, were a part of the Lunar Library. He said:

“The management of Mahabodhi stupa (Bihar) privately gave me a leaf from the Bodhi tree and some soil from under the Bodhi seat. These were included. We mixed these with relics from saints and yogis, as well as earth from sacred caves and tiny bits of relics from India, China, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal and Tibet.”

This isn’t the startling revelation Spivack has made about what the Lunar Library contains. Last week, he revealed that thousands of tardigrades – microscopic creatures commonly known as “water bears” – are also a part of this backup. Tardigrades are known to be some of the most resilient creatures on Earth. As The Wire has reported before, they have been known to come back to life even after being exposed to radiation in space and being frozen for several years.

On the AMF website, the organisation had earlier revealed the some of the contents of four analogue layers and 21 “layers of 40 micron thick nickel foils, each containing a DVD master”. This included private archives on culture and music, thousands of PDFs of books, linguistic datasets and more.

Even then, though, the foundation had made it clear that there was more than it was saying. “But this is only the beginning of the story – there is in fact much more in the Lunar Library. This will be revealed in coming months and years,” it said.

Open hospitals in State: CM to investors


Riding on the recent health indicators portraying growth and betterment in the health services in the State, Chief Minister Raghubar Das today appealed to investors to help improve health facilities in Jharkhand by means of opening hospitals, especially in rural areas. The CM said that the government will provide subsidy and all facilities to the investors for the purpose.

Addressing people during the inaugural ceremony of Healthcare Summit Jharkhand-2019 here on Thursday the CM said that if any investor builds a hospital in a rural area, the government will give them 75 per cent subsidy on land value for the purchase, 50 per cent in the block headquarters and 25 per cent in the urban area. The investment (single door) will be through a single channel, he said.

“Jharkhand was ranked third in the NITI Aayog’s State index for incremental growth. It is the result of continuous growth of State in the field of health since 2014. In the year 2000, the maternal mortality rate in Jharkhand was 400 per lakh, which decreased to 165 per lakh, infant mortality rate was 72 per thousand, which decreased to 29 per thousand, institutional deliveries which were only 13.50 per cent which increased to 80 per cent and complete vaccination was 9 per cent which increased to 87 per cent. Jharkhand ranks third in providing OPD service in hospitals across the country. These facts indicate that the State is on the path of reform in the field of health,” said the CM.

Das said that till September 25, 2 crore 85 lakh people of the State will be covered by Golden Card under Ayushman Bharat Yojna. As many as 57 lakh families of Jharkhand will have benefit of this scheme. Golden cards have been made available to 39,13,000 families. A total of 2,26,000 beneficiaries have been taken advantage of the scheme. An amount of Rs 206 crores has been spent for this. To provide maximum benefit of the scheme to the poor, a 300-bed hospital has been arranged in Jamshedpur, where only patients coming under the Ayushman Bharat scheme will be treated. The State has 429 private and 219 government hospitals listed under the scheme. The government will also waive the fee being taken for the golden card in the Pragya Kendras from August 16, 2019, for the poor,” added he.

The CM said on death anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Atal Clinic will be opened in every ward.

Das said that the people of the state are getting 108 ambulance facilities. About 5,000 calls are being received every day. The treatment of 8,000 patients is being ensured by 108 ambulances. This service is more effective in tribal areas. Through CSR also, the government is providing the facility of bike ambulance to the poor in remote areas.

Health Minister Ramchandra Chandravanshi said that the government is working towards providing better health facilities. “We are committed to ensure that people get health care up to their doorstep. On September 25, 57 lakh families will be given a Golden Card. The government has added 32 lakh additional families in Ayushman Bharat Yojna. In the last 10 months, 2 crore 19 lakh patients have been treated under the scheme. The present government has established a medical college to provide healthcare,” he said.

RMC gauges footpath benefit


Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) on Thursday demarcated a four-metre wide area along the 400-metre stretch between Albert Ekka Chowk and Sarjana Chowk on Main Road for pedestrians on a trial basis to determine the benefit of a permanent footpath there.

Around 4 in the evening, The Telegraph witnessed pedestrians walking on the stretch demarcated by sliding road barriers without any hassle though some two-wheelers were parked there.

“Unlike other days, I did not have to negotiate moving vehicles on the stretch,” said Deepa Pradhan, a resident of Doranda, while entering in the Shastri Market.

Santosh Kumar, a resident of Kadru, agreed.

“It will be good if it continues like this,” Kumar said.

E-rickshaw operators were, however, not happy with the system.

“I will have problem parking my e-rickshaw at Albert Ekka Chowk as the width of the main road has been reduced to six metres from 10 metres,” e-rickshaw driver Samsher Ahmed said.

Deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya said very soon the stretch would be converted into a permanent footpath for the benefit of pedestrians.

“If it doesn’t rain tonight (Thursday), the stretch will be painted with colours to ensure that people recognise it a pedestrian path from far. Later, a four-metre wide footpath will be constructed at that place, which will be beautified with plants,” Vijayvargiya said.

Municipal commissioner Manoj Kumar said the entire exercise was aimed at ensurring hassle-free movement on Main Road. “We have declared the stretch between Kutchery to Sarjana Chowk as no-vending zone from July 1 and want to ensure that there is no unauthorised parking in the stretch. During the trial period, traffic personnel will help people understand the new system,” Kumar said.

Bihar Assembly recruitment scam: Charges to be filed against former speaker, 42 others


The Bihar Assembly secretariat on Thursday gave its nod to the Vigilance Investigation Bureau (VIB) to file a charge sheet against former Assembly speaker and senior Congress leader Sadanand Singh, former Assembly secretary JP Pal and 41 others in connection with irregularities in the appointment of 90 lower division clerks in the Assembly secretariat between 2000 and 2005.

Assembly secretary Bateshwar Nath issued the clearance to the VIB, which, sources said, is likely to file charges next week.

The VIB had initially lodged an FIR against Singh and 42 others on 9 May, 2011 under IPC sections of 420 (forgery), 467 (forgery of valuable security and will), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471(using a forged document as genuine), 477A (falsification of accounts), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and under provisions pf Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

In the FIR, it was alleged that Sadanand Singh had allegedly misinterpreted a Patna High Court order and called several candidates for an interview, while there was no provision to do so. It was alleged that several beneficiaries of the process were related to politicians across political parties. “The original appointment had made the results of written tests the sole criteria for final appointment,” said a VIB source.

During Sadanand’s bail plea hearing in the matter in September 2011, he had stated that “none of his relatives had got jobs and he had no role to play”. The vigilance bureau however, said the charge sheet would detail how the established procedure of appointment was bypassed.

Sushma Swaraj’s friendship with Lanka


Sushma Swaraj, former Minister of External Affairs of Indian passed away earlier this week and Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “A glorious chapter in Indian politics comes to an end. India grieves the demise of a remarkable leader who devoted her life to public service and bettering lives of the poor. Sushma Swaraj Ji was one of her kind, who was a source of inspiration.”

Sri Lanka shares the sentiments expressed by the Indian Prime Minister as Sushma Swaraj was a dear friend of this country. She had a special connection with Sri Lanka because she represented the Vidisha constituency in Madhya Pradesh, the birth place of Emperor Ashoka’s consort Vidisha Devi, mother of Arahath Mahinda and Princess Sanghamitta.

Sushma Swaraj, as MP for Vidisha as well as later as a senior minister visited Sanchi, which is 8 kilometres away from Vidisha on many occasions and she closely associated with late Ven. Hadigalle Pannatissa Nayake Thera and later Ven. Banagala Upatissa Nayake Thera. In fact Ms. Swaraj made it a point to pay homage at the Mahabodhi Temple in Maradana on every visit to Sri Lanka.

She was a popular minister in Narendra Modi’s first term as Prime Minister, but did not contest parliamentary elections earlier this year due to ill health. She was cremated with full state honours in the capital Delhi. Senior leaders across political parties and BJP lawmakers, including Prime Minster Narendra Modi, attended the funeral. The news of her death prompted an outpouring of grief and condolences both from fellow politicians and from Indians across the globe.

A strong woman

As External Affairs Minister she was always willing to help Indians facing difficulties in foreign countries. Her image for Indians abroad was ‘a person with quick wit and forever a helping hand.’ Her unique identity was ‘a strong woman with an assuring smile on her face, the red bindi, the low bun and the long trail of sindoor, along with her saree and jacket’. As an Indian writer described, she was ‘the figure of a woman who did not hesitate to wear her culture on herself.’

When Sushma Swaraj visited Sri Lanka as Minister of External Affairs, she clearly showed her sensitivity towards Sri Lanka and her perfect understanding about the internal and external issues of this country. At one discussion, she cut short her own official delegation’s persuasive attempts to push Sri Lanka to immediately decide about a certain infrastructure development. When a very senior officer said that they wanted an early decision as India cannot wait, Minister Sushma Swaraj silenced him with the words, “No. If His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena thinks this is not the best time for that project, let us wait. We have to understand his sensitivities”.

Sushma Swaraj’s association with Sri Lanka was not limited to the tenure as External Affairs Minister. In September 2012, as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Member of Parliament from Vidisha where Sanchi is situated, she unveiled a painting at the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi, in commemoration of the 2600th year of the Sambuddhatva Jayanti.

The painting depicts Emperor Asoka requesting his son Arhat Mahinda to set off to Sri Lanka from Sanchi in Vidisha with the message of Buddhism and Theri Sanghamitta and the sapling of the sacred Bodhi tree being received in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka in the 3rd Century BC. It was not merely an unveiling of an artist’s impression but much more than that as it was a celebration of the historic civilizational ties between India and Sri Lanka. It is the celebration of the life of Emperor Asoka who forged India into a single nation-State. Whose distinctive voice of peace, non-violence and conquest by moral force and good governance echo over time. In fact several Asokan ideals and symbols continue to resonate in post-colonial resurgent India.

It is the celebration of the strong relations between two neighbours that flourished 2300 years ago during the time of Emperor Asoka and King Devanampiyatissa of Sri Lanka – an Emperor of a strong India and the King of a much smaller country. This relationship, in its content, holds lessons that we could draw from even today, for fashioning partnerships of trust, friendship and cooperation not only between neighbours, but between all nation-States of the modern world.

India and Sri Lanka

It was also a celebration of the Enlightenment of Prince Siddhartha as Gautama Buddha 2600 years ago, that Great Teacher of peace and non-violence of India, who’s Message has traversed far beyond and brought solace to thousands in all corners of the world. Furthermore, it was a celebration of the vibrant and friendly relations which continue to exist between India and Sri Lanka. In fact, it is in this context that, in recognition of the shared cultural and civilisational links that provide the bedrock to bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka.

In her remarks following the ceremonial unveiling of the painting, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj stated that she is honoured to participate in this event as the Member of Parliament from Vidisha where Sanchi is situated. She recalled the important cultural and Buddhist links between India and Sri Lanka and reiterated India’s commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

Referring to her visit to Sri Lanka earlier this year, leading a multi-party Parliamentary delegation, the Leader of Opposition stated that she was impressed by the resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka, as well as the approaches made by all parties towards reconciliation. She expressed the hope that the reconciliation process would move swiftly ensuring peace, prosperity and a bright future for Sri Lanka.

The High Commissioner, welcoming Minister Sushma Swaraj said, “For us in Sri Lanka, you are a very special lady. Your Parliamentary constituency, Vidisha, where Sanchi is located, was home to Emperor Asoka’s children Arhat Mahinda and Theri Sanghamitta, thousands of years ago. The Buddha’s teaching, as we know, was based on equality among humans and was open to men and women equally. In Asokan India, it was a woman, Theri Sanghamitta, who was chosen to carry the sapling of the ‘tree of wisdom’ to Sri Lanka. We consider her as the first lady Ambassador to our country on an important Mission, and she is revered continuously through history even to this day, in my country.

It was another Lady, Princess Hemamala from ancient Kalinga who bequeathed the sacred Tooth-Relic of the Buddha to Sri Lanka in the year 371 AC. We in Sri Lanka see you in similar light, as a modern-day leader and an envoy of India promoting regional cooperation and peace. You toil with wisdom, to forge closer relations between the people of our two countries, following a long list of distinguished and inspirational ladies from our past. It is therefore an honour for us to have you unveil this painting which holds a deep, significant meaning for us, and in our view, for our two countries. It is an honour for us to have your name placed in this Mission in a lasting form as the Member of Parliament from Vidisha, a region with which we have a celebrated historical bond.”

Sushma Swaraj became the youngest BJP Cabinet minister in Haryana at the age of 25. She was also the first woman Chief Minister of Delhi and was a seven-time, very loved Member of Parliament.

Sushma Swaraj held the post of the Foreign Minister in the first Narendra Modi Cabinet, from 2014 to 2019, and her job took her all around the world. But not once did she leave her Indian identity behind. She stood tall and proud, well dressed in a minimally decorative saree showcasing to the world the Indian culture.

Deep depression weakens but heavy rains to stay


The deep depression over South Jharkhand had weakened into a depression on Thursday morning, but it shall hardly make a dent on its rain generating capacity.

The depression centred over north-east of Chhattisgarh this morning, about 90 km east-southeast of Ambikapur (Chhattisgarh) and about 140 km west-southwest of Ranchi (Jharkhand).

Heavy rain warning

India Met Department (IMD) has warned of strong winds with speed up to 40 km/her and gusting to 50 km/hr over interior areas of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand until Thursday night.

The depression may continue to move deeper into Central India and weaken gradually, but the IMD has given out a heavy to very heavy rain warning across a wide swathe of geography.

Widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy falls is likely over Odisha, Chhattisgarh, plains of Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Vidarbha and northern Andhra Pradesh and Telangana until Friday.

A similar outlook is valid over Madhya Pradesh for the next two days; over Madhya Maharashtra, Konkan, Goa, Kerala and Karnataka for next three days; and over Gujarat on Friday and Saturday.

Isolated extremely heavy falls are likely over the ghat areas of Madhya Maharashtra, Konkan, Goa, Kerala, and coastal and southern interiors of Karnataka during next two days.

The same forecast is for South Madhya Pradesh and East Rajasthan for today and over Gujarat for tomorrow.

Kerala has declared a holiday today for all schools and colleges across seven of its 14 districts given the threat of continuing heavy rain, especially in the northern districts.

Kerala on red alert

A red alert has been declared over the dam-bound Idukki, Kozhikode and Malappuram districts. Storage levels in reservoirs owned by the State Electricity Board was at 27 per cent as of Wednesday.

In detailed forecasts, the IMD said that light to moderate rainfall is likely at most places over Odisha and Chhattisgarh with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls till tonight.

Heavy to very heavy rain may persist over Chhattisgarh till Friday. Moderate rainfall is likely at most places over East Madhya Pradesh with isolated heavy to very heavy and extremely heavy falls.

Light to moderate rainfall is likely at most places over North Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Vidarbha until tomorrow with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places.

The subsequent onward movement of the depression will bring moderate rainfall over West Madhya Pradesh and East Rajasthan today with heavy to very heavy falls and isolated extremely heavy falls (above 20 cm).

Heavy to very heavy rainfall will persist at isolated places over West Madhya Pradesh and East Rajasthan until tomorrow. Moderate rainfall is likely over Gujarat tomorrow with heavy to very heavy and even isolated extremely heavy falls.

How a Jharkhand man duped Punjab CM’s wife Preneet Kaur by getting her ATM PIN, password


Jharkhand’s Jamtara has earned a name for being a notorious hub of cybercrime. This time, a group has managed to fraudulently withdraw over Rs 23 lakhs from the account of Punjab MP Preneet Kaur, wife of Punjab’s Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

Seven days ago, the mastermind Ataul Ansari, called up Preneet Kaur when she was attending the Parliament session. Masquerading as a State Bank of India (SBI) manager, Ataul asked for the ATM PIN and OTP number from Preneet Kaur.

He told Preneet that her salary has to be credited in the account and the vital information is needed immediately. After securing the PIN and OTP, Rs 23 lakh was withdrawn from Preneet Kaur’s account in three transactions. Sensing foul play, she lodged a complaint with the police.

This is when Punjab Police detected a connection with Jamtara. Jamtara SP Anshuman was contacted by Punjab Police. Jharkhand Police and a special team from Punjab acted in tandem and made a breakthrough. They nabbed Ataul Ansari on Tuesday from Karmatar village. Ataul Ansari has now been taken on remand by the Punjab Police.

Karmatar has its own tainted past. Few years ago it was a hamlet of a few huts. The cyber frauds in dreams of opulence resorted to means that would get them fast money. Now the once sleepy hamlet dotted with small huts has transformed into a town of palatial houses.

The cyber frauds of Narayanpur and Karmatar in last six years have fraudulently siphoned off hefty amounts from the bank accounts of innocent people from Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab and Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Police reports reveal that cyber crime started in 2013 in Jamtara. More than 110 criminals have been arrested from Jamtara over time by police of different states.

Around other 90 cyber criminals have been identified and are on the radar of ED for amassing wealth of more than Rs 50 crore.

Recently, Delhi Police picked up one Sitaram Mandal for allegedly hacking the account of Amitabh Bachhan and withdrawing a sum of Rs 5 lakh.

Similarly a Union minister lost Rs 1.80 lakh, an MP from Kerala suffered a blow of Rs 1.60 lakh and a BJP MLA from UP was cheated off Rs 5,000. The frauds were all found to be connected to Karmatar.

Jamtara in Jharkhand has carved out a name for being notorious and a hub of cybercrime. Located in the Santhal Pargna region, the district has been a crime-prone zone for a long time.

Frauds had earlier made a cottage industry out of breaking wagons and looting train passengers on board by duping them with spiked food. Over the years the modus of operandi might have changed but the tendencies to mint easy money from innocents by deceit continues.

All speeches of Lok Sabha since 1952 to be archived: Speaker Om Birla


New Delhi: In a historic move, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla initiated a process of archiving the speeches of all Lok Sabha members and ministers since 1952. When asked, the Speaker told the Millennium Post exclusively that the availability of the video footage and the audio discs were the main concern now.

However, this work is also time-consuming. The presiding officer of the Lower House (Lok Sabha Speaker) confirmed that the entire process would take three months.

Earlier only Prime Ministers’ speeches were archived. This move will create a real political history of our country. Reportedly nearly 500 MPs have passed away in the last fifteen years, 25 of them belonged to India’s first Lok Sabha.

In the earlier days, there used to be translators in the Parliament and they used to transcribe the speeches and publish in the Parliament proceedings. In those days there used to be only the audio recordings available and used to be preserved in the disc. Later on, Doordarshan was entrusted with the job of recording the both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha proceedings.

Much later, the Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV were launched. In 2006, DD Lok Sabha was replaced by LSTV, a 24-hour TV channel broadcasting in Hindi and English, which is owned and operated entirely by the Lower House itself. Former Lok Sabha Speaker and Left stalwart Somnath Chatterjee who launched it. Later in 2011, the Rajya Sabha TV started the coverage of the proceedings of the Upper House.

The archive will help in understanding the historic discussions on the floor of the Houses. Hence, once this archiving takes place, the entire political history since 1952 will be readily available to the common people. The audio and video recordings will further remove the confusion about what stand or the position different political leaders from different political parties have taken on different issues in our political history, whether the negotiations that took place between the treasury and opposition to build consensus on GST, right to education, land acquisition, or the recent insolvency and bankruptcy laws, triple talaq, rescinding of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and others.

However, the government has not communicated any official version yet. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a museum dedicated to all former Prime Ministers. The deadline to complete the ‘Museum on Prime Ministers of India’ is March 2020.

Sources said the iconic speeches, delivered by the former External Affairs Minister and an eloquent speaker of Bharatiya Janata Party, Sushma Swaraj, who passed away on Tuesday, is on the priority. The recent years saw the demise of several Indian political stalwarts. On August 13 in the last year, former Lok Sabha Speaker and Left veteran Somnath Chatterjee and three days later, on August 16, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away, who had served Parliament, both in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha twelve times.

This year, George Fernandez, the defence minister during the Kargil War and nine times MP in Lok Sabha, passed away in January. After that, the demise of Ram Chandra Paswan in the last month and Sheila Dikshit, the former Delhi chief minister and former LS MP from Kannauj passed away in the last week.

Gogabeel is Bihar’s first community reserve


Gogabeel, an ox-bow lake in Bihar’s Katihar district, has been declared as the state’s first ‘Community Reserve’.

The water body was notified as a 57 hectare Community Reserve and a 30 hectare ‘Conservation Reserve’ on August 2, 2019 by Deepak Kumar, principal secretary, department of environment, forest and climate change, Bihar.  

Gogabeel is formed from the flow of the rivers Mahananda and Kankhar in the north and the Ganga in the south and east. It is the fifteenth Protected Area (PA) in Bihar.

Long Journey

The notification marked the end of a long journey for conservation experts who had been trying to convince both, local residents as well as the authorities to declare the important birding site as a PA.

“Gogabeel was initially notified as a ‘Closed Area’ by the state government in the year 1990 for five years,” Arvind Mishra, state coordinator of the Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN), a network of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), BirdLife International, UK and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), UK, told Down To Earth.

Mishra, also a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, has been a visitor to the area since the early 1990s.

“This status was extended in 1995, up to 2000. After the amendment of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, in 2002, the provision of ‘Closed Area’ was omitted and this site disappeared from the list of the Bihar government’s PAs, having no legal status,” he added.

In 2004, Gogabeel, including the neighbouring Baghar Beel and Baldia Chaur, were given the status of an IBA (Important Bird Area of India) by the IBCN.

In 2017, on the recommendation of Arvind Mishra, IBCN again declared Gogabeel as an IBA. Mishra also recommended the site as having the potential to be declared as a Ramsar Site of India.

All through these years, members of different local non-profits such as Goga Vikas Samiti, Janlakshya (Katihar), Mandar Nature Club and Arnav from Bhagalpur worked hard to convince local people to have the area declared as a Community Reserve.

“It was not at all easy to convince them that the rights and management of this Community Reserve would remain with the local community,” Raj Aman Singh, treasurer of Janlakshya, said.

The non-profits took various measures. For instance, Janlakshya adopted a local tribal village ‘Marwa’, organising different camps and programmes for the residents to sensitise them about ensuring the protection of Gogabeel and its biodiversity.

“The local villagers were generous enough to have agreed for developing the Community Reserve on their land,” Ram Kripal Kumar of Goga Vikas Samiti, another non-profit, said.

The whole community around Gogabeel supported every move to declare it as a reserve for birds and biodiversity. “They wish this area be developed as a prime destination for the bird watchers in the country,” TN Tarak, eminent environmentalist and Janlakshya member, said.

On November 2, 2018, the State Board for Wildlife passed the proposal for notifying Gogabeel and Baghar Beel as ‘Community Reserve’ and ‘Conservation Reserve’.

Bird Paradise

“Gogabeel is a permanent waterbody, although it shrinks to some extent in the summer but never dries completely,” said Mishra.

In summers, the waterbody measures 88 hectares, but supports a unique assemblage of bird species, both in count and diversity.

More than 90 bird species have been recorded from this site, of which, about 30 are migratory.

Among the threatened species, the Lesser Adjutant Stork is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN while the Black Necked Stork, White Ibis and White-eyed Pochard are ‘Near Threatened’.

Other species reported from this site include Black Ibis, Ashy Swallow Shrike, Jungle Babbler, Bank Myna, Red Munia, Northern Lapwing and Spotbill Duck.

Robotics corner to pep up science centre in Ranchi


Ranchi Science Centre will soon boast of simulators, a robotics corner and open labs with the Union culture ministry having agreed in principle to help with major upgrades.

“We had a meeting with officials of National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), which is under the Union culture ministry. They have agreed in principle to upgrade and modernise the centre,” said its director GSP Gupta.

The meeting comes in the wake of the state higher and technical education department writing to NCSM in Calcutta about upgrading Ranchi Science City at Chiroundi in the Morabadi area of the state capital.

The department will now have to submit a concept letter with modernisation plans to NCSM along with Rs 10 lakh. Thereafter, NCSM will start preparing a detailed project report (DPR).

Spread over 13 acres within the science city, Ranchi Science Centre was built at a cost of Rs 12.2 crore. It already has three permanent thematic galleries, a science park with several interactive exhibits on simple machines, sound, optics, pendulum and static models of prehistoric animals, a 3-D projector, auditorium, conference room and a science library.

It also houses a planetarium which is scheduled to be inaugurated later this month.

Science centre director Gupta explained that as per norms, a state science centre was eligible for upgrades if it has completed close to 10 years. “We are eligible as the Ranchi centre has been operational since November 2010,” he said.

Ranchi Science Centre, designated category-I based on the city’s population, is eligible for upgrades to the tune of Rs 5 crore.

Gupta said they were in the process of sending a concept letter to NCSM along with the requisite fee of Rs 10 lakh. “After getting the concept letter, NCSM will prepare a DPR about the upgrades. The cost would be shared 50:50 by the state and Union governments,” he said.

The upgrades mean Ranchi Science Centre would be able to display digital panoramic thematic presentations based on scientific topics. It would also be able to host open labs on science and technology for residents and students to experience. It would have more exhibits, an outdoor amphitheatre, digitally recreated archaeological sites, simulators and interpretation centres with 3-D facility.

These additions, coupled with the planetarium that is coming up, is sure to make the centre a lively and interesting place for lovers of science to visit.

“The planetarium was completed last month by NCSM. It has a projector that uses latest hybrid technology for better viewing of planets in the solar system, galaxies, stars, nebulae and the Milky Way in the outer space. It will be inaugurated any day in August once state education minister Neera Yadav gives us time,” said a senior official of the centre.

Gupta claimed that work on the upgrades would start in a few months but refused to provide a timeline.

“We are determined to push things from our end. It won’t take much time for NCSM to prepare a DPR since it already has formats. We expect things to start soon,” he said.