Why religious tourism could be the next big bet for IndiGo

Source: cnbctv18.com

n 8th of August, IndiGo will launch services to Gaya – an in-significant thing to happen for an airline which has been growing at breakneck speed one may think. But Gaya does not feature in the top 50 airports in India by passengers and neither has it seen a sustained scheduled service in recent past. So what makes one look up to the flights to Gaya? It gives an indication of times to come for IndiGo and its focus on Kolkata as a gateway and connecting to India’s eastern neighbours and beyond.

Amidst the war of words in public and subsequent truce between the promoters of IndiGo , the airline seems to be silently pushing ahead with its renewed network plan with focus on religious tourism. IndiGo has time and again, in the last year, made its international ambitions public. Over 30 percent of its capacity growth in the last quarter has been on international routes. While the airline struggled to expand and maintain the Istanbul operations due to Pakistani airspace closure, the airline has tried making in-roads into markets of Jet Airways as the regulatory authorities initiated a re-allocation of seats to other carriers.

While the plan for flying to Gaya and connecting the city to Varanasi and Kolkata was announced a month ago, further phases of the plan seem to be taking shape – one flight at a time. The airline recently announced flights to Yangoon – the capital of Myanmar. Interestingly, the airline confirmed that the idea is to build a Buddhist circuit and attract traffic but it’s very first such connection is not seamless and would require a long layover at Kolkata both ways to travel between Gaya and Yangoon. The airline followed this with announcing the launch of flights to Hanoi from Kolkata.

Gaya is the gateway to Bodh Gaya — where Gautam Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. The temple complex is a world heritage site and attracts tourists from Japan, Mayanmar, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Japan. Buddhism has four main pilgrimage sites — Lumbini in Nepal, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kusinagara in India. With the launch of services to Gaya – IndiGo will operate to the nearest airports of all four — Kathmandu, Gaya, Varanasi and Gorakhpur respectively. Interestingly, except for Kathmandu — the other three have direct flights from Kolkata — its regional gateway.

How is it shaping out?

While numbers are hard to come by, anecdotal evidence suggests a large number of charters landing at Gaya for pilgrimage. Vietjet — the Vietnamese low cost carrier which has shied away from launching operations to India despite multiple announcements operates scheduled charter services to Gaya in pilgrimage season.

IndiGo already operates flights to Thailand from Kolkata and has announced flights to Myanmar, Vietnam and China. The only major market which is not yet announced from Kolkata is flights to Sri lanka. The current network will make Kolkata a transit hub for passengers who conglomerate there before proceeding to Gaya, Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Kathmandu.

Even if the airline does not launch services to Kathmandu from Kolkata, the open border between Gorakhpur and Lumbini, Nepal does the trick from tourism perspective, helping IndiGo build the Buddhist circuit.

Will IndiGo benefit?

While Air India and Jet Airways in the past have connected religious sites, hardly any airline in India has tried building a network around religious tourism. Connecting tourism centric places is one thing and a international to domestic connection – completely another.

The numbers will take time to shore up and the airline will have to tweak timings, equipment and operations for time to tell how successful this experiment has been. The prolonged closure of Pakistani airspace seems to have motivated the airline to look-east and reduce the dependence on its hub at New Delhi — which became prone to increased flying times due to the airspace closure.

The de-risking strategy will also help get domestic connections from major metros which are connected to Kolkata with multiple daily flights. The lack of non-stop flights to most of the countries in the east including Myanmar and Vietnam — which are becoming popular with Indian tourist, would see a steady traffic potential of Indian tourists flying IndiGo via Kolkata.

Who benefits?

Kolkata is a level 3 airport by IATA standards. This means that the airport is congested and additional movements may not be possible. However, new destinations get priorities when slots are limited and to add to that IndiGo has built a formidable hub at Kolkata over the years, allowing it to cancel its own flights on domestic sectors to utilise the slots for additional international flights.

With an integrated terminal at Kolkata — the transfer from domestic to international and vice versa is relatively simpler than New Delhi — the airline’s primary hub.

What next?

The results will be known in another year’s time. The airline has the cash to sustain that period, but one doesn’t know if it has the patience to sustain that long. With a growth which is as fast as no other, the airline has pulled the plug on few flights in the past in a short span of time.

Rarely has an airline tried something as innovative as a full circuit on religious tourism and rarely has an airline been in a position to try that. With IndiGo being cash rich at the moment, this could well be the turning time.

May be the blessings of Buddha is what the airline needs to solve its internal issues and maintain its courteous, hassle free and on-time operations.

After 33% Salary Hike, Bihar Lawmakers to Get Plush Bungalows at Govt Rate Ahead of Assembly Polls

Source: news18.com

Patna: As a pre-poll gift, the Bihar lawmakers will be entitled to purchase residential plots of two kathas each at a rate fixed by the state government. The Bihar State Cooperative Federation and Bihar Land Development Bank will be the nodal bodies to make available the required land in Ashiananagar area of the state capital to the Swablambi Grih Nirman Sahyog Samiti headed by state Parliamentary Affairs minister Shrawan Kumar. Bihar cooperative minister Rana Randhir is its secretary and BJP legislator Sachindra Kumar is its treasurer.

The former and present legislators having no house in Patna will be eligible for becoming members of the new legislators’ cooperative. There is a virtual scramble among the former and present legislators to fill the membership forms. “So far, 100 members have filled their membership forms. The other formalities will begin after registration of the cooperative society,” said Shrawan Kumar.

The rush among the lawmakers to get a house in Patna emanates from the fact that many of them are not sure to return to the state assembly in the changed political scenario after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Many of them may not be repeated as candidates by their respective political parties.

A residential colony of legislators of Bihar already exists near the veterinary college which is home to veteran leaders like Radhanandan Jha, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Rabri Devi, Ram Vilas Paswan, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Abdul Bari SIddiqui, Nand Kishore Yadav and others. But several plots in this cooperative were sold to other legislators, exchanged and put on rent in utter violation of the cooperative society’s rules.

The state government has recently constructed swanky duplex bungalows for sitting legislators with state-of-the-art facilities at an estimated cost of nearly Rs 600 crore. There are, at present, 318 lawmakers, including 243 members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) and 75 members of the legislative council (MLCs) in Bihar.

The plush government bungalows would be allotted according to constituency numbers of the members. Many legislators, who used to stay outside on rent ever since the old residential flats were demolished, would be given possession by December this year.

There was a windfall for legislators in November last year when the Nitish Kumar government had approved 33 per cent hike in their salary and substantial increase in their allowances, making their salary structure no less attractive than the industry’s Chief Executive Officers (CEOs).

At present, the Bihar lawmakers are entitled for a basic salary of Rs 40,000 per month, besides constituency allowance of Rs 50,000, stationary of Rs 10,000 and Rs 30,000 per month for keeping private secretaries. They are also entitled to travel coupons worth Rs 3 lakh per year and vehicle loan up to Rs 15 lakh.

The government had also enhanced the pension amount of former lawmakers. Former legislators with one year tenure in the legislature get monthly pension of Rs 35,000. Their pension amount increases at Rs 3,000 per month for every additional year served as legislators.

The salary and perks of the Bihar legislators were increased before this in 2014 when Jitan Ram Manjhi was the chief minister. The then government had also hiked the monthly salary of the chief minister and all its ministers. The government also decided to provide lifetime facilities of eight private staff to all former chief ministers benefitting all the former chief ministers, including Lalu Prasad Yadav, Rabri Devi and Jagannath Mishra.

The legislators continue to get monetary benefits despite the fact that quite many of them own huge assets running into several crores. According to a report by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), altogether 162 out of 243 MLAs of Bihar are crorepati. Of them, 14 have assets over Rs 10 crore.

Bihar Board 10th Time Table 2020 – BSEB Matric Time Table out

Source: telegraphstar.com

Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) has released the time table for its matric or 10th examination for 2020 at biharboardonline.bihar.gov.in. All students who are preparing to appear for their 10th finals can access the schedule on the official government website and also download it in PDF format.

The exams are scheduled to begin in February 2020 with English as the first paper, from 9:30 am to 12:45 pm, which is the first shift. The second shift will start from 2 pm to 5:15 pm. The BSEB Class 10 exams will continue till the end of the month.

Typically, each year Bihar School Examination Board carries out its annual secondary school examination in February or March on the basis of the syllabus or course as prescribed by the state government. Every year, students attempt to score outstanding marks in these examinations as the 10th matric results determine the initial bit of their career.

There are several government jobs, which are related to the secondary school exam results. Last year, many examinees received above-average scores in these exams. While most of the students opt for higher studies, there are a significant few who show interest in the available government jobs.

Bihar School Examination Board has released its schedule this soon so students can start preparing from beforehand. Last year, 15.47 lakh students appeared for the Class 10 examinations out of which 8.21 lakh students couldn’t clear them.

In the coming year, while the intermediate examinations will be conducted from February 6 to 16, they will be carried out in two shifts because of the increase in numbers. In totality, examinees have to appear for 3 hour 15 minutes, of which the first 15 minutes will be provided to read through the question paper and the remaining 3 hours will be allotted to write the answers for the examination.

Patna Metro project on fast-track! Bihar CM Nitish Kumar asks officials to start work at the earliest

Source: financialexpress.com

Patna Metro: Commuting across Patna to get easier with the upcoming metro project in the city! Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked officials to start the work on Patna Metro project at the earliest and also to ensure adequate action while carrying out the land acquisition for the proposed metro corridor. The Chief Minister directed the officials of the Urban Development and Housing department to start the work, following a presentation given by the Principal Secretary of Urban Development and Housing department on ‘Patna Metro Rail Project’. The Principal Secretary updated Kumar about the progress the Patna Metro project has made so far, according to a PTI report.

According to Nitish Kumar, the upcoming Patna Metro project, which is likely to be developed at a cost of around Rs 13,000 crore, will give “new speed” to Patna city. Last year on October 9, the state cabinet approved its Detailed Project Report (DPR) and sent it for the Centre’s approval. PM Narendra Modi-led Cabinet approved the Patna Metro project in February this year. The foundation stone for the big infrastructure project was laid by PM Modi in the same month.

Patna Metro route, stations

Under the first phase of the project, the Patna Metro will have two corridors. The first metro corridor will be between Saguna Mor-Bailey Road-Patna Junction- Mithapur bus stand. While the second corridor will be from Patna Junction to the proposed bus stand, located at Bairiya on Patna-Gaya road. Some of the major Patna Metro stations will be at Gandhi Maidan, Dakbungalow Chowk, Ashok Rajpath, Saguna More, Bailey More, Danapur.

It is being said that the Patna Metro project will provide an alternative mode of communication to a population of 26.23 lakh. The metro project will also focus on the last-mile connectivity as there will be multi-modal integration with railway stations as well as ISBT. Additionally, Patna Metro is also likely to run feeder network of bus, Intermediate Public Transport (IPT) and Non-Motorised Transport (NMT). The project is expected to be complete in the next five years.

Now, Mukhyamantri Tirath Yatra Yojana to cover 7 more destinations

Source: millenniumpost.in

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Cabinet in its meeting on Tuesday, chaired by the Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal approved seven new destinations for Mukhyamantri Tirath Yatra Yojana. “In addition to the already functional five routes approved by the council of ministers earlier, the following seven routes are to be added to this scheme: Rameshwaram- Madurai, Tirupati, Dwarkadhish, Jagannath Puri-Konark-Bhubaneshwar, Shirdi, Ujjain and Bodh Gaya,” noted a statement from the government.

It has also been decided that in the existing Ajmer-Pushkar tour, Haldi Ghati destination will be added. “In addition to Three Tier AC Train, AC accommodation may also be provided wherever possible. Further, wherever yatris are required to be transported through buses, the same may be by 2X2 AC coaches wherever possible,” noted the statement.

The statement added that apart from the area MLA, any of the ministers in the Delhi Government and chairman, Tirth Yatra Vikas Samiti, Delhi government, may issue such a certificate irrespective of the constituency in which the applicant resides.

Earlier, the cabinet approved the Revenue Department’s proposal to begin the scheme titled Mukhyamantri Tirth Yatra Yojana to enable 1,100 senior citizens from each Assembly Constituency per year to undertake free pilgrimages, the expenses for which will be borne by the government. It is proposed that a total of 77,000 pilgrims will be able to avail this facility every year. In case applicants won’t be able to undertake the pilgrimage, he/she has to provide intimation upto seven days before the travel date. Otherwise, he/she shall not be eligible to apply under this scheme again.

All application forms are available online and shall be filed online either through Office of Divisional Commissioner or office of respective MLA or office of Tirth Yatra Committee. The selection of pilgrims will be done through draw of lots and respective area MLA will have to certify the residents as belonging to Delhi. All other modalities will be specified in the final notification. “This son of yours will send you on at least one tirth yatra in your lifetime. Your government has done a lot of development work over the last four-and-a-half years, but sending our senior citizens on a tirth yatra is one of the closest things to my heart,” said Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal while launching the scheme earlier this month.

Jharkhand: 6 Congress workers expelled after protest against party unit chief

Source: indianexpress.com

The protesters raised slogans such as “Dr Ajoy Kumar, go back, go back”. A source in the party said Ranchi block presidents Sudhir Singh, Tinku Verma and Ashutosh Nath Pathak, among other leaders, have been expelled.

“It was a sponsored protest where some people raised slogans and were creating some objection while I was entering the premises. However, disciplinary action has been initiated,” said Ajoy Kumar after the meeting. Sources said workers are protesting as some of them want Assembly tickets, but the state leadership wants to give tickets to “energetic faces”.

The meeting was held to discuss the party’s alliance with the JMM and Left parties in the state. Sources said that 20 of the 24 district presidents showed their support for Kumar during the meeting. “Talks on alliance were discussed and various leaders discussed about the number of seats Congress is likely to contest. We discussed contesting 40 seats,” the source said. However, Kumar refrained from commenting further on the alliance talks and said “they are still in the deliberation mode”.

Leaders such as former Rajya Sabha MP Pradeep Balmuchu and former MP Subodh Kant Sahay have earlier openly criticised Kumar after the Congress’s Lok Sabha debacle.

Leaders said the trouble began when Kumar announced JMM’s Hemant Soren as the opposition alliance’s Chief Ministerial candidate for the Assembly elections, before the Lok Sabha polls. It was a strategic move for Kumar, but for the old guard this brought in resentment. Sources in the party said this infuriated Subodh Kant Sahay as he was not kept in the loop. “In a scenario when political coalitions change in 24 hours, how can a CM face be announced so much in advance. This completely lacked political acumen,” said one of the leaders.

Ranchi district president Sanjay Pandey said that Kumar induced “fresh air in the team” and had worked hard. “The problem now is that the old guard, who lost in the Lok Sabha elections, want to contest in Assembly. Kumar-ji will not let this happen and that is why roadblock has been created,” he said.

Sources in favour of Kumar also pointed to “indiscipline” in the party. Congress’s former minister and ex-MLA Banna Gupta had earlier criticised Kumar after which East Singhbhum district president Vijay Khan had issued Gupta a showcause notice. This move had also irked the old guard.

One CRPF jawan killed in IED blast triggered by Naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district

Source: firstpost.com

Raipur: A CRPF jawan was killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast triggered by Naxals in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh on Wednesday, officials said.

The blast took place around 6 am near a camp of 195th battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at Pushpal in Bastar when one of its patrolling teams was returning after an anti-Naxal operation, a senior police officer told PTI.

The force had launched the operation on Tuesday night in the forests along the border of Bastar and Dantewada districts, he said.

A constable-rank jawan, Raushan Kumar (23), a native of Bihar’s Nalanda district, was killed in the blast. It was triggered as he accidentally stepped on the IED when the team was passing through a road construction site near Bodli village, the officer said.

The constable’s body was taken to the Pushpal camp from where it will be shifted to his battalion headquarters in Dantewada’s Barsoor, he said.

A search operation is underway in the area where the blast took place, he said.

For the Times They Are a-Changin’: Sakyadhita and the Radicalism We Need to Save the World

Source: buddhistdoor.net

The 16th Sakyadhita Conference, held in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales in Australia, proved to be an uplifting and informative event. Held outside of Asia for the first time in its history this year, the conference drew 800 people from 29 countries under the theme “New Horizons in Buddhism.”

Since its inception 32 years ago under the Bodhi Tree, Sakyadhita has been a conference unlike any other: held by women for women (and non-binary people and women’s supporters). Sakyadhita is an international association of Buddhist women working for women’s issues and bringing women together to build support and mutual understanding about issues that are important to the empowerment and spiritual growth and well-being of Buddhist women.

This year’s conference  was very skilfully organised, with fewer academic papers and more workshops. The papers presented were educational, inspiring, and at times heartbreaking. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a senior Buddhist nun and teacher, described the difference between Sakyadhita and other—more male-dominated—Buddhist conferences she had attended by observing that at Sakyadhita there is no sectarianism, all traditions are given a voice, and more women are empowered to speak out and help one another.

Buddhist superstars including Roshi Joan Halifax, Ven. Lekshe Tsomo (for many years the main impetus and energy behind the conference and a champion of nuns in the Tibetan community and in developing countries), and Ven. Thubten Chodron (abbess of Shravasti Abbey) each gave inspiring Dharma talks.

There was extensive diversity in terms of both the papers and workshops. A beautiful montage of the history of Buddhism in Australia was given. Householder yoginis spoke of the power and embodiment of balancing motherhood and practice. Korean celebrity nuns presented Korean cooking. A married female Western Rinpoche spoke of the profound Tibetan lineages of marriedyoginis and dakinis. Bhutanese nuns and Australian ex-nuns both spoke on the devastating effects of sexual and spiritual abuse by teachers in Buddhism.

Other attendants presented workshops for people from the LGBTQIA community, and many people within this group expressed that they still felt prejudice and marginalization in society and within the Buddhist community. Korean laywomen joyfully shared their Buddhist choir, and women in traditional dress mindfully led a tea ceremony.  

After 16 conferences—gathering thousands of women from across the globe—one has to ask: has Sakyadhita achieved its objectives of empowering Buddhist women, creating gender equality, fostering an alliance of Buddhist women, engendering compassionate social action, and promoting the Buddhist teachings? 

On the positive side, Buddhist women now know a lot more about each other than they did when they were separated by borders and languages 100 years ago. Sakyadhita has fostered an international sisterhood. In particular, many more prosperous Buddhist women have become aware of female monastics and lay women living in poverty in developing Buddhist countries and have sought to help those women and nuns.

Examples of this include the Jamyang Project, founded by Ven. Lekshe Tsomo, which helps many nunneries throughout the Himalayas receive basic necessities; Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery for Drukpa Kagyu Himalayan nuns, founded by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo; and the many Sri Lankan and Thai bhikkhuni viharas that have been founded as the ideas of gender equality and the legality of full ordination for women have spread.

There are now hundreds of bhikkhunis (fully ordained nuns) in Thailand, and thousands in Sri Lanka. Although Sakyadhita may not be directly responsible for these ordinations, its members have done a great deal to promote and fund these women and their institutions. Nuns and lay women now have more access to information, opportunities for solidarity, occasional funding, and pathways to full ordination—in part due to the amazing work of Sakyadhita. At the meeting 32 years ago under the Bodhi tree, and at later gatherings, nuns from Ladakh admitted they had hardly any education or support. Now, decades later, there are many schools with nuns studying to be geshemas. Sakyadhita was one of the first Buddhist organisations to hold bhikkhuni ordination.

On the “challenges to grow from” side, only half an hour was dedicated to an issue that has rocked the Buddhist world: the sexual misconduct of many prominent Tibetan male lamas. This has damaged lives, traumatised numerous people, and caused them to lose faith. The whole issue has made many people question the efficacy of a system based on complete devotion to fallible human beings.

Additionally, looking around the conference, although there were so many wonderful women doing amazing work, I could not help but notice that most heads were grey. Like most Buddhist organizations, Sakyadhita is still dominated by the baby boomer generation. Millennial and Gen-Y women are often absent from many of the Buddhist events that I attend, or they are a minority. While Sakyadhita does a great deal to try to be inclusive, a generation gap exists—not just in terms of age, but in understanding the priorities of each generation. Because the boomers are such a large generation who made such radical shifts in culture and change, it is still quite normal for them to dominate and center on themselves. But the world in which Gen-Yers and millennials are growing up is radically different from the world that baby boomers knew.

We now need to question whether civilisation will last beyond the next 20–30 years because of previous generations’ reckless consumption of natural resources and the cumulative damage to the natural environment. Baby boomers are the most prosperous generation that have ever lived. Millennials are burdened by much higher university fees and housing prices, while earnings have not kept pace with the cost of living. Many millennials will never own their own home and question whether it’s ethical or responsible to bring a child into a world with the looming potential of social collapse due to the climate crisis.

When I spoke to one senior nun about the massive effect that the #metoo movement was having on my faith, leading me to question the whole system, and how I wished that they would let the audience discuss it more, she replied: “That’s a topic you personally want to hear, it’s not a topic many of us want to hear, we are sick of it.”

After 32 years, has enough changed for women? Western Tibetan Buddhist nuns still have little support and a 75 per cent disrobing rate, and many nuns and women in developing countries still lack resources and gender equality. Clearly we need to do more than give speeches and present PhD papers. We need to go back to our centers, question male dominance, and support nuns and women from our pockets, not just our mouths. 

There is no doubt about the beauty and potential of women coming together to share stories and pool resources. The legacy of Sakyadhita is groundbreaking, especially around rights for Buddhist women in developing countries, the geshema degree for Tibetan nuns and full ordination for Theravada nuns. But as someone sitting on the cusp of being a millennial, who may not grow old, who feels for the children alive today and worries if the society will survive, I can’t help but feel frustrated that patriarchy has not been more efficiently dis-assembled, that Buddhist women in so many places are still poor and not equal, that absolute power in Buddhism has not been abolished, that rapist/abuser teachers are still being defended and idolised. As someone who is losing their future, I am growing impatient with those who talk about using more efficient light bulbs and going vegan when what is needed is something much more radical as a collective. I appreciate the amazing work and solidarity of women from previous generations, but I am also frustrated when I see the world is on fire, yet women in Buddhism are still largely subservient to men.

Why do we go on supporting men whose only agenda is to support and perpetuate the power of other men from their own race? Why after all this horrible abuse and all these women disrobing and being exploited and raped is it considered taboo to question male authority? Why are those who dare to speak up considered too radical and faithless, and therefore sidelined?

Where are the male leaders who claim to love all beings equally? They are most noticeably absent from an international conference on the well-being of half the Buddhist population. The sad fact is that those most noticeably absent are those with the most power in Buddhism. Sakyadhita is groundbreaking and has made inroads that no other Buddhist organisation has been able to make.

In terms of “New Horizons in Buddhism,” I can’t help feeling that we need to be much more radical if we are going to end patriarchy and save the planet. Although the older generation has done some truly remarkable things, they don’t have their finger on the fault lines that my generation is living on, which go much deeper than we previously thought and could tear humanity apart. I hope my generation and those after us will have a future.

First phase of Harmu river revamp almost over, nothing to show for it

Source: telegraphindia.com

A woman rag-picker was picking plastic bottles, polythene packets and other trash from the sludgy riverbed of Harmu river in Kadru on Tuesday, the stink of the black water enveloping the busy road.

It is difficult to imagine that the state government has already spent Rs 81 crore out of Rs 85 crore earmarked for the first phase to renovate this river, a task undertaken by Jharkhand Urban Infrastructure Development Company (Juidco), an arm of the state urban development department. The river, a glorified drain, was dubbed “dead” by Jharkhand High Court Justice S.N. Pathak a fortnight ago.

But barely a kilometre away from Kadru, state urban development secretary Ajoy Kumar Singh on Tuesday along with officials of the department and Juidco took part in planting saplings at Tapovan, again on the banks of the Harmu river, and discussed the second phase of the rejuvenation project that’s likely to start in August.

Singh said the state government had decided to plant as many as 15,000 saplings on the 10.5km stretch of the river to protect the water and the environment. “Consulting and construction companies associated with the Harmu river project will be responsible to protect the saplings once they are planted,” Singh said and directed officials to hold regular meetings with residents who live near the river to ensure they are involved too and don’t pollute the river. He also directed Juidco to put iron nets on the flanks of the bridges so that garbage is not thrown in the river.

Amid the plethora of directives, it was not hard to miss Juidco had not even done Harmu’s basic clean-up till date. Team Telegraph on Tuesday morning found the river choked at several points with plastic bottles, thermocol plates and polythene bags.

Asked, a Juidco official said they surveyed 2,000 households close to the banks of the river and a number of nearby colonies, built seven sewerage treatment plants and diverted many drains directly flowing into the river.

“But over the years, the number of settlements increased and many more drains got linked to the river,” he said.

“The first phase of the work is complete a technical team comprising experts from BIT-Sindri, BIT-Mesra and state public health and works department have inspected it. Once we get the panel’s report, we will be able what else is further required and what we lacked,” the official said.

An Ranchi Municipal Corporation official told this paper that despite everything, the river was dirty. “Last month, RMC asked the state urban development department to clean the choked Harmu river. It is Juidco’s job. The situation is very bad and an urgent clean-up is needed. But we don’t know why Juidco is not interested,” the senior RMC official remarked.

Juidco had its own set of excuses. A senior official of Juidco associated with the river project said it was technically impossible to clean the entire stretch till a proper plan was worked out. “Removing garbage from a couple of places is no solution. The river has become Ranchi’s dustbin. People dump garbage in the river, drainwater flows into it, these are the bare facts.” An official on the condition of anonymity alleged that the river rejuvenation project conceptualised in 2015 had a hastily prepared DPR but did not elaborate.

In the second phase, more sewerage treatment plants are set to come up and more drains diverted from the river. A solid waste management plant is also expected. But the Juidco official, who’d claimed the DPR was made in a hurry, said: “It will take at least a decade to rejuvenate this river.”

Train Services Remain Suspended as Bihar Struggles to Recover from Monsoon Floods

Source: weather.com

As the floodwater recedes, daily life in the flood-affected Bihar is yet to regain normalcy. Train services on the Samastipur-Darbhanga section in Bihar remain suspended, as bridge number 16 between Hayaghat and Thalwar under Samastipur continues to face the floodwater threat.

Speaking to The Times of India, an East Central Railway official confirmed that 11 passenger trains have been cancelled so far, and at least eight more have been short-terminated. Safety staff members from the engineering and traffic wings have been deployed at multiple strategic points to keep tabs on the water levels at every bridge in Samastipur.

On Monday, the death toll in the state reached 127, while over 85 lakh people are estimated to be affected by the flooding. The massive deluge that hit Bihar earlier this month was caused by torrential rainfall in the northern parts of the state as well as the Terai region of Nepal. The Centre has continued to assist the state government, with PM Narendra Modi personally coordinating with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar.

The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) data shows that, despite the late arrival of monsoon, Bihar has received slightly more than average rainfall in this season. The seasonal normal for Bihar is 496.3 mm. However, the state has received 513.3 mm until July 29. The forecasts show that Bihar is likely to receive isolated rainfall and thunderstorms in one or two places for the next few days.