Cabinet gives nod to Bihar Sand Mining Policy 2019


The Bihar Cabinet has approved the revised sand mining policy as per which an applicant can get licence for a maximum of two sand blocks.

The Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on August 13 gave its nod to the draft proposal of Bihar Sand Mining Policy 2019 with a view to regulate sand mining, conserve environment, ensure availability of sand, Cabinet Secretariat Department, principal secretary, Sanjay Kumar told reporters here.

As per the draft policy, now a single person or a registered company, partnership firm or a cooperative society can obtain license for a maximum two sand blocks/ghats or 200 hectares of sand mining area, whichever is lower, the principal secretary said.

Any person now can get maximum of two sand blocks allotted provided such mining area is not spread over 200 hectares of mining area either in one district or any other district, he said adding that now the government has set a limit for getting sand blocks.

The draft policy has also treated rivers in district as a separate unit for allotment of sand blocks, the principal secretary said.

Altogether 19 decisions were taken in the cabinet meeting.

The cabinet also decided to reserve one per cent of quota for people performing well on national and international sporting events in the selection of constables in Bihar Police, he said.It also sanctioned a revised estimate of Rs 108 crore for providing piped drinking water in arsenic affected villages of Maner in Patna district, he said.

OPINION | Amid Soaring Crime Graph, Bihar Police Officers Lock Horns Over State Govt’s Decision to Split Force in Two


Patna: Amid growing incidents of lynching and deteriorating law and order situation in the state, Bihar police officers are locked in a bitter war of words, reflecting the rot that has set in the state police force over the years.

The state police force has mainly two groups that are at loggerheads.

The reason for the ongoing tug of war is Bihar government’s decision to bifurcate the state police force into two separate wings — the law and order wing and crime investigation wing — down to the police station level from August 15. The Supreme Court had issued an order in 2006 for separating the law and order duty and crime investigation down to the police station level.

Now there have been allegations that a concerted attempt is on to post the patrons of sand and liquor mafia within the police force in the law and order wing, but they want to control the crime investigation wing so that they can run the cartel without any hindrance.

Recently, the state police headquarters had directed to remove at least 386 Station House Officers (SHOs) and Circle Inspectors (CIs) from their posts as they were facing different charges, including moral turpitude, and were accused in cases involving sand and liquor smuggling. Most of them want to get posted in the lucrative crime investigation wing.

A few of them, however, claimed that the charges against them were fabricated and the senior officers did not do justice with them before blacklisting them. In response to the Facebook posts of Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey, an SHO had observed that he had been punished due to personal vendetta of his seniors even though he performed his duty with full sincerity.

The DGP, however, said that the grievances of such officers would be heard and taken care of if found to be correct. But the decision to shift them has been taken at the instance of chief minister Nitish Kumar, who has ‘zero tolerance’ on crime and corruption, the DGP said.

The Bihar Policemen’s Association has also taken up the matter contending that some of the officers have been wrongly put in the tainted list. “We will talk to the top officers for rescinding the decision or the working committee will meet on August 25 to chalk out future course of action,” said association president Mrityunjay Kumar Singh.

Against the backdrop of deteriorating crime situation, the DGP had recently revealed on his Facebook that he is not being allowed to work the way he wants to as some of his colleagues are spreading all kind of canard against him, thereby demoralising the morale of the police force.

The anguish expressed by DGP Pandey is a tell-tale story of how policing system in Bihar has been afflicted with deep-rooted casteism, lobbies patronised by senior officers and overall corruption even though some officers stand out in terms of integrity and dutifulness.

Insiders in the police headquarters claimed that the incumbent DGP is opposed by a coterie of senior police officers. His orders on improving infrastructure in police stations and controlling crime were either not obeyed or buried in official files on one pretext or the other.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has reviewed the law and order situation twice last month in view of rising incidents of contract and political killings, rapes, abductions for ransom and bank loot in the recent past in Bihar. The leader of opposition, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav, had shot off a letter to the chief minister listing government’s alleged failure on the law and order front.

After coming to power in 2005, Nitish had demystified the myth that crime could not be kept on tight leash in Bihar. Within the framework of law, he focused on quick disposal of cases registered under the Arms Act since the witnesses in all such cases were primarily the policemen. This proved very effective in bringing down the number of pending cases under the Arms Act as scores of accused were convicted at the end of the trials.

Nitish appeared much aggrieved to know that nearly 1.4 lakh criminal cases are pending in the police stations across the state. The chief minister directed the DGP to dispose off pending cases at priority, upgrade the police stations and release the contingency funds.

The Bihar Police have been facing problems ever since the state government decided to introduce total prohibition and to regulate sand mining in the state. Most of the policemen have found smuggling of liquor and sand as lucrative trade and source of easy money.

Prior to his elevation to the post of DGP, Pandey had launched a personal campaign for implementing the liquor ban policy of the state government. He had addressed altogether 160 meetings in 35 districts in five months to make people aware about the liquor ban.

Policing in Bihar also grapples with the problem of poor police-public ratio as the state has one policeman for every 840 persons. According to the data of Bureau of Police Research and Development, a central agency keeping track of the state and central police forces, Bihar ranked 33rd among states and union territories in terms of police-public ratio as there is a huge shortage of manpower.

Having created investigation and law and order wings, the Bihar government has decided to recruit 24,000 constables, 4500 sub-inspectors and 2000 drivers to fill vacancies in the understaffed police force.

Communication gap: Bihar floods show why India, Nepal need to get their act together


Over 100 lives lost, 0.1 million displaced and 7.2 million people affected. That’s the human cost of the flood that deluged Bihar for close to two weeks this July.

Many lives could have been saved, losses averted, and people and livestock evacuated had the communities known beforehand that heavy rains were also lashing the Terai (lowland) region of the neighbouring Himalayan country, Nepal, and that the rivers flowing from across the border were in spate.

But weather-related information takes an average 48 hours to travel through the Indian and Nepalese bureaucratic circuit, say experts. And that’s way too long for a gushing river that can obliterate villages overnight.

Between July 7 and 13, heavy rainfall in Bihar caused flash floods in six districts. People started picking up their lives as the intensity of rainfall reduced by July 14.

But suddenly, the authorities of Koshi Barrage, located on the Kosi river just before it enters India, opened the floodgates. Though heavy rains in the state stopped by July 17, some 12 districts were declared flood-hit.

The delay of information sharing is alarming because every time Nepal has received heavy rains, Bihar has recorded flash floods. “In the recent past, this happened in 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017,” says Narayan Gyawali of Lutheran World Relief (LWR) foundation, a non-profit that runs a community-based project in India and Nepal on early flood warning systems.

The two countries have a circuitous communication channel that means the information is either critically delayed or unclear, and of little use to most riverbank communities in down-stream Bihar. This is when the Nepal government has a dedicated Water and Energy Commission Secretariat for trans-boundary water issues, established way back in 1981.

Both the countries have also constituted a Joint Committee on Inundation and Flood Management.

Talking to Down To Earth, C K L Das, a member of the joint committee and chairperson of the Ganga Flood Control Commission, Patna, said the committee members do interact with communities that live in flood-prone areas in both the countries on a regular basis to assess their concerns and address those. But they do not issue flood warnings to communities as “there is no official requirement for us to do this”.

Just like Nepal, India too has a body, the Central Water Commission, which monitors floods in the country. But it looks only at the rivers and does not take into account the rainfall data for flood predictions.

“Though bringing together rainfall data and river monitoring to do better flood forecasting has been talked about by both the countries, there is no specific plan put in place for this to happen,” says Das.

Poor transborder information sharing has been a long standing problem for India. Last year, Arunachal Pradesh got flooded due to heavy rainfall in China. There are also fears that the ongoing rains in China might soon affect Assam, where 4.4 million people have already been affected by floods due to incessant rainfall.

“With the past political crisis during the Doklam standoff (the 2017 India China border standoff), the data sharing (between the two countries) has been limited,” says Giriraj Amarnath of the International Water Management Institute, a non-profit research organisation based in Colombo, which works on sustainable use of water and land resources.

While the government has failed to create a system to warn the people, several community-level initiatives across India and Nepal are seamlessly sharing timely information. The people of Bihar’s Birpur village in Supaul district, for example, received a flood warning on July 13.

“I got a call from Nepal about the rising water levels in the Kosi. We immediately shifted our families and livestock to safer zones,” says Chandan Roy from the village which is just a few kilometres from the Indo-Nepal border. The village was drowned a day later when Koshi barrage was opened.

“We had zero casualties because of the timely warning. We even communicated the information to nearby communities,” says Roy, who is part of LWR’s transborder citizen forum, an initiative started in 2013 where comm unities across the border regularly meet to discuss flood mitigation measures. The non-profit claims that the initiative issued timely warnings to 48 communities in India that benefitted over 25,000 people in Supaul and Madhubani districts.

“Community-based flood early warn ing system utilises local resources to enhance the community’s resilience,” says Neera Shrestha Pradhan of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, which runs a similar initiative in the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

The upstream community generates the flood information using a low-cost transmitter-receiver unit and disseminates early warning to the communities. The transmitter is placed on the river bank, and the receiver is placed in a house of the nearest village.

The homeowner monitors the unit and disseminates information to communities, local government agencies, and other stakeholders through mobile messages and WhatsApp groups. 

Transborder information sharing is imperative because the frequency of extreme rainfall events is on the rise.

“Some of the most sophisticated forecasts with climate change models suggest that as the globe warms, more rains will fall in the form of severe, intermittent storms rather than in the kind of gentle soaking showers that can sustain crops,” says a report in the journal Nature. This trend was at play in July.

Till July 7, as many as 27 of the 38 districts in Bihar recorded over 40 per cent deficit rainfall. Over the next week, seven of these rainfall-deficit districts were under flash floods. Nepal too was waiting for the onset of monsoons till July 10, when its Department of Hydro logy and Meteorology issued a sudden warning of floods in the next 20-36 hours.

Over the next 24 hours, mid and eastern parts of Nepal received the heaviest rains in the past 30 years. The long term (1981-2010) precipitation data of Nepal highlights that Terai regions are becoming more prone to high-intensity rainfall events than the highland regions, according to a research paper published in the journal Climate in January 2017.

Given the climate pressures, Amarnath says India should bring an economic focus to its transborder flood warning policies.

“India allows Bhutan to use the Brahmaputra to ship goods to Bangladesh. Such economic associations help establish effective warning systems across international borders.” Political will along with community-driven initiatives is an effective way to prepare for such floods, he adds.

Security beefed-up in Bihar on Eid al-Adha, last Shravan


Security has been beefed-up across Bihar in the view of Eid-ul-Adha, also called Bakrid, coinciding with the last Monday of Shravan month, when devotees visit temples of Lord Shiva in large numbers, a senior police officer said.

He said the security forces have been deployed at sensitive areas in all the districts and central paramilitary forces have been kept on standby for any exigency.

“One company of Rapid Action Force and Sashastra Seema Bal have been stationed at Patna and Bhagalpur respectively to assist the local police in maintaining law and order in case any disturbance is reported,” Additional Director General of Police, Headquarters, Jeetendra Kumar told reporters.

The security beef-up comes after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, at a high-level meeting last week, asked officials to maintain law and order during the two festivals and lay emphasis on preventing rumour-mongering through social media.

DGP Gupteshwar Pandey, who was present at the meeting, has appealed the public through the social media to remain vigilant against attempts to disrupt peace during the festivals and warned of stern action against rumour mongers.

In his message on Eid-ul-Adha eve, the Chief Minister urged the people of the state to remember that “the festival symbolises sacrifice and its true joy can be found only in an atmosphere of peace, amity and brotherhood”.

Meanwhile, four teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been dispatched from here to neighbouring Jharkhand’s Baidyanath and Basukinath temples to prevent any untoward incident during the massive turnout of devotees there on the last Monday of Shravan.

NDRF’s Patna-headquartered ninth battalion commandant Vijay Sinha said,”Devotees visit the shrines after taking bath in the nearby ponds. Our personnel will be vigilant there with rescue boats to avert any untoward incident”.

1 dead, 14 injured after stampede in Bihar temple

Source: hindustantimes.comv

An unidentified devotee, in his sixties, died and at least 15 others fainted and were injured in a stampede at a popular temple of Lord Shiva in Bihar’s Lakhisarai district on Monday.

Thousands had gathered at Indramaneshwar Temple in Ashokdham to offer prayers on the last Monday of the holy Shravan month when the accident happened. However, the local district administration claimed there was no stampede and that the elderly man had died of ‘cardiac arrest’.

Locals and eyewitnesses countered the administration’s claim. They said it was a major stampede caused by lack of crowd management and claimed that the man suffocated during the rush of people.

Police said those who fainted were taken to the nearby medical camp but there was chaos due to the lack of a proper medical team.

“The crowd had started pouring at the temple premises from Sunday night. The queue stretched for over six kilometres. It took an average eight hours of wait for a pilgrim to get inside the temple,” said a police official.

Police had erected barricades but the swelling crowds resulted in piling up of people, some of whom even crossed over the lines.

Deputy inspector general of police (Munger range) Manu Maharaaj, who reached the spot after the incident, said that the old devotee has not been identified so far.

“No incident of stampede had been reported from the spot,” he said.

Maharaaj added that security personnel were keeping a strict vigil to regulate the heavy rush of devotees in the temple and the situation was under control.

ADG (headquarters) Jitendra Kumar said there were no injury marks on the deceased’s body, which was taken to the Sadar Hospital for a postmortem examination.

“One company of Rapid Action Force and Sashastra Seema Bal have been stationed at Patna and Bhagalpur respectively to assist the local police in maintaining law and order in case any disturbance is reported,” Kumar said.

Shiva temples across Bihar have been witnessing a surge of a crowd since morning.

Khattar may get notice from Bihar women panel Read


The Bihar Women Commission has taken umbrage at Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s statement wherein he referred to “Bihari girls” while speaking about Kashmir and Article 370. The woman panel is likely to send a notice to Khattar asking him to explain what he meant by “Bihari brides” and the rationale behind making such innuendoes while speaking about Kashmir.

The whole controversy arose after Khattar, while addressing a meet in Haryana on Saturday, said, “Earlier, OP Dhankarji, a Haryana minister, used to say that brides had to be brought from Bihar for the youths of Haryana. But now, as Kashmir is open, brides would be brought from there.”

Dhankar had earlier said so in reference to Haryana’s poor sex ratio.

However, the chairperson of the Bihar Women Commission Dilmani Mishra found the statement made by Haryana CM “highly objectionable and completely avoidable.”

“He will have to explain what he meant by Bihari brides,” said Mishra, adding that the women’s panel will soon send a condemnation notice to Khattar.

“When he was discussing Kashmir and Article 370, what was the necessity to argue that brides from Bihar were needed in Haryana for marriage. It’s an insult to all women and should be condemned by everyone,” said the panel chairperson.

The All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) too has castigated Khattar for his unsavoury remarks. “His statements about Kashmiri and Bihari girls should be condemned in the strongest words. The way he said how Kashmir was open and brides should be brought from there, shows the mindset of such leaders. These people (Haryana leaders) reportedly kill their daughters in the name of honour killing/social status and then talk of Bihari girls or Kashmiri bride. These statements were just not acceptable,” said Meena Tiwari, national general secretary of AIPWA.

Bihar police drive to stop mob violence


The Bihar police have launched a massive drive on social media and are conducting awareness programmes appealing to people to stay away from mob violence which has taken eight lives in the past two-weeks, mostly in Patna district. Over two dozen cases have reportedly been triggered by rumours of child lifting in past one month.

On Saturday, a man was beaten to death by a violent mob in Mohammadpur village under the Naubatpur police station in Patna district. The lynching took place on rumour that the man was a child lifter.

“As many as 43 people have been named and 150 are unidentified in the FIR…we have arrested 23 of those involved in the incident,” the officer-in-charge of the Naubatpur police station, Samrat Deepak Kumar, said.

He added that the local police have been appealing to people, while making announcement on loudspeakers, not to believe in such rumours.

Earlier, on August 3, two such incidents of mob violence took place in Rupaspur and Dhanarua villages.

Alarmed with the rising trends of mob violence over child-lifting rumours, the police headquarters has instructed all district police superintendents to launch a drive against such incidents and make people aware through social media and public interaction not to believe rumours.

‘Don’t believe rumours’

Patna Senior Superintended of Police Garima Mallik held public meetings in different locations in the capital and appealed to the people not to fall prey to such rumours. The Patna District Magistrate, Kumar Ravi, too has expressed concern over such incidents and asked people to remain vigilant about such rumour mongering.

In most of the incidents, the victims have been from weaker section of society. Apart from Patna, such incidents of mob lynching have also been reported from Kaimur and East Champaran districts. In Patna district, incidents of mob lynching were mainly reported from Sadisopur, Neora, Maner, Rupaspur, Fatuha and Naubatpur.

“Special drives have been launched to sensitise people against such rumours…special patrolling of police personnel too have been initiated in such rumour-prone areas”, State Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey told media persons on Saturday.

In 2018 as many as 19 incidents of mob lynching were reported from the State while in 2017 and 2016 the number of such incidents were 13 and 7 respectively.

Bihar Likely to Declare 22 Districts Drought-Hit After August 15


Patna: A long dry spell during the ongoing “shrawan” month is worrying Dinesh Mahto and Nagendra Yadav. Both the farmers are disappointed with the poor monsoon so far, as they are yet to transplant paddy saplings due to lack of water.  Both Mahto and Yadav are marginal farmers in Paliganj of Patna district and are fearing another drought this year. “We are certain of another sukha(drought) because the rain god is giving us sleepless nights this time like last year.”Mahto said.

Yadav said this has become an annual problem as farmlands turn dry due to lack adequate water for transplantation of paddy seedlings. “We are still hopeful of rainfall,” he added.

Mahto and Yadav are among millions of farmers, nearly two-thirds of Bihar’s population of 10.5 crore, who are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.

Not only that, nearly two-thirds of all agricultural activity in the state is dependent on the rains .For most of the state’s population, therefore, a good monsoon is often the difference between life and death.

The Bihar government has targeted paddy cultivation on 33 lakh hectares this year. But till date, paddy transplantation has been reported on less than half of the target.

Bihar Agriculture Minister Prem Kumar on Friday expressed concern over the drought like situation in 22 of 38 districts of the state. “The state government has so far not declared any district drought-hit. If the dry spell continues till August 15, the government will decide whether to declare the number of districts as drought-hit”, he said.

He said the government will hold a meeting on August 18 on the drought situation. “We are keeping a close watch on the drought-like situation this time like last year”, he added.

Kumar said “if there is no rainfall in next five to six days, the government will prepare to face drought and will declare the state drought-hit any time after August 15”.

An official in chief minister office told NewsClick that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had instructed top officials to prepare data to declare the number of districts drought-hit, as it has become a stark reality.

Bihar’s is facing a drought-like situation because of a peculiar situation, as monsoon rainfall has remained confined to 16 districts, resulting in floods, while there is deficit rainfall in 22 districts, according to officials.

Agriculture and weather experts have advised the government to wait till the end of second week of August for rainfall before declaring the state as drought-hit.

Like millions of farmers, the state agriculture minister is also hopeful that Bihar may receive rainfall in the next 48 hours in view of the cloudy weather and reports of light rains in few places in the past 24 hours.

According to officials of agriculture department, poor rainfall had affected paddy sowing and plantation, triggering fears of another drought.

Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar’s economy, employing 81% of the workforce and generating nearly 42% of the state’s domestic product, according to the state government’s figures. About 76% of Bihar’s population is dependent on agriculture for livelihood. 

Reports reaching in Patna said unlike in the past, there was no water for irrigation in the canals. A large part of central Bihar is irrigated by water from the Sone river, brought in through canals.

Meanwhile, a few farmers have managed to save paddy crops transplanted last month by pumping ground water and others, too, are trying this for now.

Forced to leave Srinagar, migrant workers from Bihar face uncertain times


Told to leave Srinagar by security forces and forced to go by local landlords and employers, a group of migrant workers from Bihar found themselves outside the Jammu railway station on Thursday facing an uncertain two-day journey back home.

Ahead of its announcement revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and carving the State into two Union Territories on Monday, the government had begun moving out tourists, pilgrims and outstation workers. With large parts of Jammu and Kashmir under curfew-like conditions since Monday, the group of workers from West Champaran district of Bihar said they were unsure of ever returning to collect their unpaid dues.

Lal Babu Shah went to Srinagar for the first time about a month ago, hoping to stay for four to five months working in construction.

“I used to sell vegetables back at home, but this time the crops had failed, so business was down. I thought I would be able to make some money by working in Srinagar for a few months. I was working in a mosque, laying tiles,” he said.

At 3 a.m. the previous morning, the group of about 30 men said they were all asked to leave their accommodation. They then made their way to the bus stand in Srinagar, where long lines for tickets awaited them.

“The bus tickets were being sold in black by the government officials for a higher amount. The private cab operators were demanding ₹2,000 per person for a trip to Jammu that is usually ₹700. Our employers did not even clear our dues because they said the work was incomplete. We were able to scrounge enough for bus tickets. Now, we don’t know how we will buy tickets to Bihar,” said Lalji Kumar.

Spending six months a year in Srinagar working construction jobs, Mr. Kumar said he was able to make ₹60,000 to ₹70,000 a season, the highest rate anywhere in north India. Now, he said he was leaving with ₹3,000 in unpaid wages.

Support to PM

Having gone through a harrowing few days, both men said they supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decisions on Jammu and Kashmir.

“In two years, the way life is in Jammu, that is how we will be able to live in Srinagar,” said Mr. Kumar, adding he was not sure if he would return.

For Mohammad Arif, who has been going to work in Srinagar for the past 10 years, this time was different. During the violence and curfew after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016, he said the situation for migrant workers was not as bad as now.

“They used to hurl insults at us, but now they are telling Biharis to leave. We heard that some people beat up a Bihari worker in Soura,” he said.

Another member of the group, Bhola, said locals would taunt him by saying “come back with a passport”.

While these workers and others like them worried about how they would be able to get back home, the government has announced special trains for them.

Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said in a tweet on Thursday that special trains and coaches had been arranged from Udhampur and Jammu “in view of large number of workers including those going home on Eid”, which is on August 12.

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.