Monsoon toll rises across South Asia


New Delhi: More than eight people were killed when a house collapsed in northern India following heavy monsoon rain which has left more than 85 dead across South Asia, officials said Monday.

Floods and landslides caused by torrential downpours have killed at least 67 people across Nepal while 30 more are missing, police said.

In overcrowded Rohingya refugee camps in southeast Bangladesh, 10 people have died and thousands of shanty homes have been destroyed since April.

In the latest monsoon-related tragedy, a four-storey building on a hillside in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh collapsed, killing 13 people.

The structure – located near popular tourist destination Shimla – came down on Sunday following days of heavy downpours.

Rescue workers searched the rubble for survivors, while heavy machinery removed heaps of mangled steel and wires from the muddied debris.

Earlier, local official K.C. Chaman said eight people had died in the collapse, adding that rescuers were looking “for at least seven other people” trapped in the debris.

One soldier – who was pulled out alive from the rubble – said they had gathered for a party in the building’s restaurant, “but suddenly the building shook and collapsed”.

Such incidents are common across the region during the monsoon because of dilapidated structures that buckle under the weight of continuous rain.

The June to September monsoon causes widespread death and destruction across South Asia each year.

Floods have devastated much of the northeastern Indian state of Assam where four people died on Sunday after being swept away by sudden torrents.

The state’s Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO-recognised reserve and home to two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhinos, has also been seriously affected by the weather.

In the eastern state of Bihar, five rivers were flowing over the danger levels with more rain forecast over the next few days.

The downpours have eased in Nepal but authorities still fear the death toll could rise, said police spokesman Bishwaraj Pokharel, who gave the latest number of dead and missing from floods and landslides.

“There are the challenges of resettlement of the displaced as many houses.. have been swept away. We are also cautious about the risk of epidemics due to polluted water,” Pokharel told AFP.

Bihar Public Service Commission blacklists teacher for question on the role of governor


The Bihar Public Service Commission on Monday said it has blacklisted a person who set a question for the mains exam asking if the governor was merely a puppet. The bilingual paper used the Hindi word ‘kathputili’, which means puppet, PTI reported.

“The person who put the question on a Constitutional post in BPSC Mains Exam, has been asked for an explanation, and has been barred from setting a question paper in future, thereby, putting him in a blacklist,” the commission said, according to ANI. “Express regret over it.”

NDTV reported that the question in Sunday’s paper on General Knowledge was, “Critically examine the role of the Governor in state politics of India, especially in the context of Bihar. Is he a mere puppet?” Lalji Tandon is the present governor of Bihar.

The commission laid the blame on the teacher who set the paper, The Indian Express reported. “There are several sets of papers prepared, and no members have the right to go through each one of them,” an unidentified official told the daily. “The board is scrutinising the incidents and will take actions against the teachers responsible for drafting that particular papers.”

However, the official added that the question will not be deleted. “The students will get marks as per the merit of their answers,” he said. “There is no provision to give full marks to a subjective question.” The question carried six marks.

Political outcry

The question caused disquiet across party lines, Republic TV reported. Bihar Education Minister KN Prasad Verma said it was unfortunate that such a question had been asked. He said an inquiry will be initiated into the matter.

“BPSC is an autonomous body and has its own procedures,” Bihar Water Resources Minister Sanjay Jha said. “It must take care in the future that such questions are not repeated. The government does not interfere in BPSC’s exam procedures. Autonomous does not mean that you can ask anything. They should have respected the post of the governor and not asked such a question.”

Bhai Virendra, a Rashtriya Janata Dal MLA, also condemned the incident. “It seems some illiterate has prepared the questions,” he said. “This has crossed all limits. The governor has been humiliated. The person who prepared the question should be taken to task.”

IIM Bodhgaya All Set To Get New, Green Campus Building


Patna: The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bodh Gaya in Bihar is all set to get a new look by 2020. The new IIM campus, located in the sacred and historic and city of Bodhgaya, will be spread over 73 acres. The concept for the campus takes inspiration from Buddhist ideologies, evolving into a design which promotes a search for progression in the field of management studies, an official said on Saturday.

Established in 2015, IIM Bodhgaya is the 16th such institute in the country. One of India’s leading architectural firms, C.P. Kukreja Architects have been selected through a national competition to design it. Speaking on the execution of this first-of-its-kind project, the C.P. Kukreja Architects Managing Principal Dikshu C. Kukreja said: “It is our endeavour to create a 21st century world class campus set in a city with deep-rooted historical significance.” The grandness in the campus architecture is translated through different design elements. Entering the campus, one is greeted with the Buddhist ‘toranas’ (ornamental gateways), the abstract demeanours of which are imposing and yet rooted to the ground. (IANS)

NHRC notice to Bihar DGP over suicide of man in Nalanda police station


New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday issued a notice to Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) over the suicide of a political party leader at Nalanda police station.

The commission took suo motu cognizance of media reports that a local leader of the ruling JD(U) in Bihar, who was detained by the Nalanda police in connection with a kidnapping case, allegedly hanged himself inside the station late on Thursday night.

The family of the leader, identified as Ganesh Ravidas, claimed that the police tortured him in custody. Three policemen were reportedly arrested in connection with the case.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true amount to the gross violation of right to life of the victim. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Director-General of Police, Bihar calling for a detailed report on the matter within 6 weeks including Inquest Report, Post-mortem Report, Magisterial Enquiry Report and report of any other investigation conducted in the matter.

The incident reportedly occurred on 12.07.2019. The police authorities are also directed to explain as to why intimation in this regard has not been sent to the Commission within 24 hours of the occurrence of the incident.

According to the media reports, carried today on 15.7.2019, the victim was detained by the police in the night of 11.07.2019 in connection with allegations of the kidnapping of a girl residing in his village. He was suspected to have helped the girl elope. When police interrogation was on, the deceased went to use the washroom, which was outside the lock-up where he reportedly hanged himself from a window.

The news report further reveals that the victim was killed by the Police Station In-Charge and chowkidar. It is also stated that there were cut marks on the body of the deceased suggesting it to be a case of torture in police custody.

15 armed jawans injured in bus accident in Jharkhand


Fifteen Jharkhand armed police personnel were injured when a bus carrying them to Deoghar from Ranchi lost control in Sikidiri valley under Rajrappa police station on Saturday morning, about 40-km from Ranchi.

Four personnel received serious injuries and were admitted to Medanta hospital in the state capital. The rest 11 jawans were admitted to Rajendra Institute of medical sciences (RIMS) where they were undergoing treatment.

The driver of the vehicle carrying lost control while taking steep turn in the valley and was about to turn turtle when it dashed against the sidewalls of the rock. The front side of the vehicle was badly damaged.

According to information, there were 52 armed jawans in the vehicle that was on its way to Deoghar. The security personnel were being transported from JAP-2 to assist the security arrangement of the month long Shravani mela to begin on July 17 in Deoghar.

The deputation of the police was made on the request of the Deoghar administration and the security personnel had left JAP-2 around 6:30 in the morning.



Moderate to heavy rains with one or two very heavy spells of Monsoon rains have been lashing the state of Bihar since the last two to three days. These rains have triggered some intense flooding in many districts of the state. The adjoining parts of Nepal too have been reeling under flooding rains for the last many days now. Also, these have resulted in swelling of many rivers.

Places right from Pashchim Champaran to Sitamarhi, including Araria, Kishanganj, Arwal, Aurangabad, Banka, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Bhojpur, Buxar, Darbhanga, Gaya, Gopalganj, Jamui, Jehanabad, Kaimur (Bhabua), Katihar, Khagaria, and Siwan are experiencing flooding rains at present. Moreover, no relief is expected from such conditions for at least next two to three days. In fact, flooding may worsen in some areas due to continuous heavy downpour.

For the next 48 hours, we expect moderate to heavy with a few very heavy spells of rain and thundershower activities in many parts of Bihar. Thereafter, rains will slightly taper over the region. This is because, the present Trough will start shifting south, thus initiating good rains over the southern districts of Bihar. By this time, rains will reduce in other districts of the state, thus leading to a marginal relief from the flood-like situation.

Skymet has been continuously tracking the weather activities going on over and across the state and thus has been giving weather alerts on a constant basis in order to help the residents, escape this danger. And as more heavy rains are expected to lash the state, localitesare advised to take due precautions.

Alcohol-abused ‘Vidhwa Gaon’ in Ranchi tries to shed the infamous tag


RANCHI: Neera Tigga, in her mid-30s, is one of the many widows living in Brambe village, Ranchi, now popular as ‘Vidhwa Gaon’. In the 600 households in the village, under Mandar Block, there are more than 250 widows. All these women have lost their husbands to alcoholism.

Recently, students of the Central University of Jharkhand (CUJ), located adjacent to the village, while conducting a survey discovered that the village had a significant number of widows.

Later, they released the findings on social media and soon the village gained infamy as “Vidhwa Gaon”.

Officials blamed a weekly market for the deaths. Money earned by the men from the market is spent on drinking leading to the deaths.

“My husband Patric Tigga died two years ago after falling ill. Despite the family’s objections, he continued drinking and ultimately died,” said Neera Tigga, who now works as a daily wage labourer.

Saba Tigga’s story, too, is similar. Her husband, Michael, in his 40s, died after falling into a well. He was inebriated and was sitting on the edge of the well and fell into it. Rajmuni Mahli’s husband Mukesh died of a damaged liver because of excessive alcohol intake.

Bishun Devi’s husband died in an accident while returning home intoxicated.

“Now, I work as a daily wage labourer to earn for my three daughters and two sons,” said Bishun Devi.

Officials blamed the weekly local market, held three days a week.

“Brambe is a tribal-dominated village where they consume ‘haria’. People earn extra money from the market and it is spent on alcohol,” said Mandar Block Development Officer Vishnu Deo Kacchap. The country made liquor is also available in the market, which adds to the problem, he said. According to Kacchap, awareness is the only solution to the problem.

“The administration can only facilitate, but the initiative has to come from the villagers. We organised awareness campaigns but more such campaigns are needed and active participation of the villagers is essential,” said the BDO.

Villagers agreed that extra money earned from the market is one of the main reasons behind the deaths. They, however, said that they are unhappy with the new name given to the village.

“It’s upsetting when people call our village ‘Vidhwa Gaon’. We have initiated awareness campaigns and have succeeded in reducing the number of such deaths,” said Mukhia (village chief) Jaiwant Tigga.

The younger generation is now getting high using the cough syrup Corex and marijuana. Regular campaigns against the two are being conducted in the village, he added.

“People involved in selling liquor are being warned or strict action will be taken against them,” said the Mukhia.

“People here consume country liquor made out of Mahua. Urea is used to make it, which is injurious to health,” said Jaiwant. Due to the regular consumption of this liquor, most die early.

The widows are being now being rehabilitated by the Gram Panchayat by providing employment in cattle and goat farming.

Kerala, Bihar science scores skyrocket


lass XII science-stream results from the Kerala and Bihar boards have shown a far higher rise in scoring rates this year compared with any other board.

Critics have alleged these boards deliberately awarded inflated marks to help their students compete with their peers from elsewhere during college admissions. A spokesperson for the Bihar board, contacted by The Telegraph, denied the charge.

The top 20 percentile score — above which 20 per cent candidates have scored —- among general candidates has increased by 18 per cent from last year for science students of the Bihar School Examination Board.

It’s risen 10 per cent among science students of Kerala’s Board of Vocational Higher Secondary Education. Compared with the 2017 scores, the figure has risen 18.5 per cent in Kerala. (See chart)

However, the absolute top 20 percentile scores among the Kerala and Bihar students remain on the low side compared with those from the CBSE or Andhra board or those taking the ICSE.

But for most other boards, the top 20 percentile score has remained more or less the same as last year, according to the Joint Seat Allocation Authority.

The Authority manages admissions to graduate engineering courses in the IITs, NITs and other centrally funded technical institutions. School boards provide it with their top 20 percentile scores so it can decide the eligibility of candidates who have cracked the JEE Advanced.

General category candidates need to score over 75 per cent in their board exams or make it to the top 20 percentile from their category within their school board to be eligible for admission to these engineering courses.

An IIT Bombay teacher said the board-wise top 20 percentile data indicated that the Bihar and Kerala boards had either awarded marks liberally from the outset or resorted to “moderation”.

“This suggests a mismatch between what the students have learnt and the marks they received,” he said.

“Moderation” refers to the practice of awarding extra marks in a subject across the board, barring the very high scorers. Ostensibly a way of making up for difficult questions or a general fall in performance, it is often resorted to by school boards to artificially inflate their students’ marks, critics say.

The CBSE has been carrying out moderation in several subjects every year. The human resource development ministry had written to all the school boards in 2017 to stop the practice from 2018.

Bihar board spokesperson Rajiv Ranjan Dwivedi said the results had improved because of several key initiatives adopted by board chairman Anand Kishore over the past two years. He denied any moderation by the board.

“The board focused on step-wise marking (awarding scores even for partial answers) and conducted an orientation programme. The number of objective-type questions is now 50 per cent of the total marks in all science subjects,” he said.

“Such questions accounted for 40 per cent marks in several science subjects till two years ago. Besides, more alternative questions were set. As a result, the scores improved.”

The topper from the science stream in Bihar secured 87 per cent marks last year, while this year’s topper secured 94 per cent.

A Delhi University official handing admissions said the boards appeared to be competing with each other in awarding high marks. The cut-off for admission to most colleges remains very high every year.

Green hope for Ranchi’s ‘dead river’


The state forest department on Sunday started planting trees along the banks of the Harmu rivulet in the capital to try and rejuvenate the water body that has been reduced to a dirty drain.

A part of the month-long Van Mahotsav-cum-Nadi Mahotsav inaugurated by chief minister Raghubar Das on July 7 near Jumar river, the rescue of Harmu rivulet was a stiff challenge, said people present at the site, as it was clogged by wastes from houses around it.

“The river is dead and looks even worse than a drain,” said Justice S.N. Pathak of Jharkhand High Court who was the chief guest on the occasion. He added that “oxygen or Coramine (the popular former trade name of nikethamide, a stimulant which mainly affects the respiratory cycle) can’t bring the dead back to life”, but also appreciated the forest department’s efforts to green the area. “Trees give us oxygen to survive,” the judge said.

State’s principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) Sanjay Kumar, who was present with over a 100 others comprising forest officials, NCC cadets and citizens, said he hoped that planting saplings would help improve the condition of the rivulet and its surroundings.

“About 6,000 saplings will be planted along a 2km stretch by the side of Harmu rivulet within the capital,” Ranchi divisional forest officer (DFO) Saba Alam Ansari said. “We will plant trees wherever space is available,” he said without going into the open secret of encroachment in the area. He added that as the area was beside a road in the city, they were planning on flowering trees such as gulmohar, peltophorum (copperpod or yellow flame tree) and night jasmine, saplings of which would be protected by cattle-guard and wire fencing.

“As per this year’s plan, 45,000 saplings will be planted alongside the 15km stretch beside the Subernarekha river and 15,000 saplings alongside the 5km stretch beside Jumar river,” Ansari added.

PCCF Kumar had earlier told the media that 8.26 lakh saplings would be planted on a total of 274km of banks along 44 rivers across the state during the Vanmahotsav-cum-Nadi Mahotsav that began on July 7 and will continue till August 6. The department had planted about 9 lakh saplings along the banks of 24 rivers in as many districts of Jharkhand last year of which about 80 per cent survived, he had added.

Scores of Harmu residents turned up at the planting event. “Harmu rivulet may be in bad shape but trees are the need of the hour and I will do my bit,” said Md Gafoor who stays nearby. “I’ll take a few saplings from the forest department to plant on the small plot that I own.”

Rains in North Bengal, Bihar continue to wreak havoc


Kolkata/Patna: Incessant rains in North Bengal and Bihar continue to wreak havoc with several areas in both the states reported to be inundated. However, what’s more worrying is the fact that the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a warning of “heavy to very heavy” rainfall in both the states in the next couple of days. 

While sub-Himalayan districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri, Coochbehar and Alipurduar in West Bengal are bearing the brunt of these continuous rains, people living near the banks of Koshi, Gandak, Budhi Gandak, Ganga and Bagmati in Bihar have started to flee from their homes. 

According to the IMD, Northern Bihar received a record rainfall during the last 24 hours with East Champaran reporting 214.92 mm rain, Sitamarhi 154.55 mm and Muzaffarpur 125.15 mm. Whereas in West Bengal,  Alipurduars recorded 150 mm rainfall, followed by Coochbehar at 110 mm, Siliguri at 105 mm, Kalimpong 60 mm and Darjeeling at 30 mm in the same period. 

In West Bengal, a 40-year-old man Bimal Sil has reportedly died after slipping into an open gutter while walking through a flooded street in Jalpaiguri district. As per the state weatherman, Jalpaiguri, Malda, North Dinajpur, and South Dinajpur will receive heavy rain in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile in Bihar, given the rising level of water in rivers – all engineers in the north Bihar district have been directed to be ready with the necessary equipment and boulders to face any situation and protect the embankments – reported IANS

In 2008, lakhs of people were rendered homeless after Kosi river breached embankments and caused one of the worst floods in Bihar in the state’s history. 

As for the national capital, private weather forecasting agency has said that Delhi will receive below-normal rainfall this year. “The national capital may receive less than normal rainfall this year. The area may get light showers on July 15 and 16. Monsoon is likely to remain weak over Delhi, Punjab and Haryana,” vice president of Skymet Weather Mahesh Palwat said.