Police rifles fail during gun salute to former Bihar CM, Nitish Kumar miffed

Source: indiatoday.in

In a major embarrassment to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, none of the 22 guns fired when former Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra was accorded a state funeral in his ancestral village Balua Bazar in Supaul on Wednesday.

According to the protocol, the former chief minister was to be given gun salutation by a guard of honour but none of the 22 guns fired during the funeral, which was attended by Nitish and senior ministers of the state government.

What was further shameful is the fact that the policemen tasked to fire the gunshots kept on trying repeatedly in front of the chief minister and other dignitaries, but failed.

It may be mentioned that the state government had decided that Jagannath Mishra would be accorded a state funeral as he was a three time Chief Minister but what transpired at the funeral only exposed the sloppiness of the state police.

RJD legislator Yaduvansh Yadav who was also present at the funeral has claimed that the incident was the insult to the former Bihar Chief Minister and demanded that a inquiry should be initiated in this case.

Jagannath Mishra’s funeral was also attended by Deputy Chief Minister receive Kumar Modi, Health Minister Mangal Pandey and Bihar assembly speaker Vijay Choudhary.

Nitish banks on Prashant Kishore’s Jharkhand groundwork for rich poll harvest

Source: hindustantimes.com

Janata Dal (United) national president and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is all set to launch party’s election campaign in poll-bound Jharkhand on August 25. Mega preparations are on in the state’s capital city by the party workers to welcome Kumar, who would be holding a meeting with around 2,000 leaders from across Bihar during his four hours stay on Sunday.

Assembly elections are due in Jharkhand later this year. The state carved out of Bihar in 2000 has remained a traditional BJP stronghold. The opposition led by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), however, has had its brief share of power on more than one occasion with the JMM patriarch Sibu Soren and his son Hemant Soren – currently the party’s executive head – serving as chief ministers of the state thrice and once respectively.

The JD(U) since its formation in 2003 had remained in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) across states including Jharkhand, expect from June 2013 to August 2017, when the party switched to Rashtriya Janta Dal-led Grand Alliance (GA) in Bihar. The party, which had won six out of the 81 assembly seats in 2005, doesn’t have any presence in the state legislature as of now and its organisational strength has been fading with each passing year.

However, buoyed by its recent successes in the Lok Sabha polls when it won 16 out of the 17 seats it had contested in Bihar followed by the triumph in Arunachal Pradesh – where JD(U) went on to become the second largest party winning seven seats, the JD-U is now striving hard for Jharkhand assembly polls to build up on its push to become a strong national party.

“Nitish Kumar’s scheduled visit on Sunday has already set eye-balls rolling in Jharkhand’s political circles. The state badly needs Kumar’s model of development and we are confident that we will make a difference with or without any alliance in the coming polls,” said JD-U Jharkhand president and former BJP parliamentarian, Salkhan Murmu.

JD-U had contested the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar in alliance with BJP and also intends to contest the 2020 assembly polls under the NDA. However, during the recently held party’s executive committee meeting in Patna, the party leaders announced that outside Bihar they would go solo in all polls.

In Jharkhand, if JD(U) fails or refuses to bridge an alliance with any party, it would be pitted against a strong NDA – comprising BJP and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) and a resolute Grand Alliance (GA) comprising JMM, Congress, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) and the left.

The party leaders, both in Patna and Ranchi, are unperturbed by the prevalent political combinations. Influenced from Rajya Sabha deputy speaker Harivansh in the state and backed by expertise of poll strategist Prashant Kishore, whose teams have been working clandestinely in all 24 districts for last six months, JD(U) leadership is confident of altering all the set poll equations.

“Our party vice-president, Prashant Kishore’s teams have done extensive ground work and have found out that there exists immense potential for JD(U) to make headway in the neighbouring state,” said a senior JD(U) leader requesting not to be quoted.

Though the party has announced to contest all 81 seats, it may scale down to 35 seats or even less after Kumar’s meeting with local leaders and office bearers, leaders, adding, they would field candidates in constituencies where they stand a chance to win or give a tough fight.

According to the insiders, the party would focus on constituencies with high Kurmi voters’ percentage. Several disgruntled Kurmi leaders associated with other parties are being lured to join JD(U).

Shailendra Mahato, vice-president of JD(U) unit in Jharkhand, said that among others, Kumar would be accompanied by Kishore, Member of Parliament Lallan Singh, Bihar welfare minister and Jharkhand in-charge Ram Sevak Singh and general secretary Arun Kumar Singh.

“Our national president would be in Gaya on August 24 where he would stay back overnight. Next morning after breakfast, he will leave for Ranchi by road and hold crucial meetings till 5 pm before he departs for Patna by the evening flight,” he said.

Nand Kishore Yadav, BJP’s Jharkhand co in-charge, said that JD(U)’s foray into Jharkhand assembly polls does not affect his party much as JD(U) has contested polls independently in several states. “Our alliance with them is only in Bihar. We do not have anything to do with their decisions,” he said.

Govt to set up committee to study corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board

Source: thehindu.com

The Government is set to form a high level committee to examine the aspects of corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and work out the modalities, defence sources said while rejecting apprehensions from employees that there is an attempt at privatisation.

“A high-level committee will study the issue and take a call on what needs to be done,” a senior source said. It will be a political call on how to go about.

The Kolkata-headquartered OFB with 41 factories spread across the country functions under the Department of Defence Production. Due to this every decision and action needs the approval of the Cabinet, officials said. For instance, in 2001 the OFB was to set up a plant at Nalanda in Bihar to manufacture bi-modular charges for the Army with initial investment of around ₹800 crore, which went up to ₹2,000 crore later. But the plant has not been set up till date, the source said.

On the contrary the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) do not have such hassles and have been establishing joint ventures and partnerships for technology development and other things. “At the current rate and in the present model OFB has no future,” the source said, and added that today there is “no accountability and result orientation” and the need is to move to a system of accountability on the lines of DPSUs. The total support to OFB is around ₹6,500 crore both from indents from the Army and direct budgetary support.

Alleging moves to privatise the OFB, three recognised Defence Federations under the OFB have launched a month-long strike from August 20. There are about 82,000 employees in OFB of which around 46,000 are industrial employees who went on strike, sources said. “As of now the strike is not worrisome. The Defence Ministry is in continuous discussions with them,” another official said.

In the last few years, several measures have been undertaken to augment capacity and increase production of the factories under the OFB. At least 20 cases of capital upgradation were cleared in last few years, the official added.

This is not for the first time, though, that corporatisation of ordnance factories is being considered. There have been recommendations by various committees and several attempts over the last two decades but there has been no progress.

Mob attacks scientists in Bihar suspecting them to be child kidnappers

Source: gulfnews.com

Patna: Two scientists were beaten up by an angry mob of villagers in Bihar on the suspicion of being child kidnappers.

As per media reports, around 20 incidents of mob attacks or lynchings have been reported in the past month in Bihar.

Reports quoting police officials said that two geologists were conducting a survey at Chafla village in Kaimur district on Monday when it started raining. They took shelter under a tree to avoid being drenched.

In the meanwhile, some children from the area also came there, after which the scientists offered them fruits. The children fled the scene and informed the villagers.

Instantly, a mob rushed to the spot and began assaulting them suspecting them to be kidnappers. The geologists managed to flee the scene and informed the local police, which registered a case against 100 unidentified people.

“We have registered a case and action was being taken against the attackers,” the local police station in-charge Kripa Shankar Sah told the media on Tuesday.

Police officials said the geologists were conducting a survey of the area about the presence of mineral resources but the villagers mistook them as kidnappers.

Incidents of mob attacks and lynchings have seen an alarming rise in Bihar and in the past one month alone, around 20 such attacks were reported in which at least four people were killed, media reports said.

The majority of incidents have been reported from Patna, the capital of Bihar, with the main reason behind the attacks being rumours of child kidnapping.

The police have regularly launched awareness campaigns while top officials, including the Bihar’s director general of police Gupteshwar Pandey, have appealed to the masses to maintain calm but this has failed to put a brake on such incidents.

As things fails to improve, the police department has now issued instructions to the heads of all police stations in the state asking them to take videos of the mob violence.

“You [police officials] are hereby instructed to make videos of mob violence so that the persons involved in the crime could be identified and action taken against them,” Bihar’s inspector general of police Sanjay Singh told the media.

According to Singh, from now on all the cases will be registered against named persons and action will also be taken against the villagers who make the video during the mob violence.

Remembering Jagannath Mishra, Doctor Sahib of Bihar politics

Source: indiatoday.in

Jagannath Mishra, three-time Bihar chief minister and a former Union minister — terms which earned him a mix of accolades and criticism — died on Monday at his home in New Delhi. He was 82. He was suffering from multiple medical ailments, including cancer. He will be cremated with full state honours. He was survived by three sons and three daughters.

Though Doctor Sahib, as he was fondly referred to, had stepped out of the spotlight while leading a retired life, Jagannath Mishra was never short of political wisdom and sharp analysis. Many in media and politics recall him as an affable man with a deep understanding of politics and abiding love for Bihar and all its people.

Dr Mishra, younger brother of former Railway Minister Lalit Narayan, was also the last Congress chief minister in Bihar. In December 1989, as Congress stared at an electoral setback following gruesome riots in Bhagalpur, Rajiv Gandhi had picked Mishra as Bihar chief minister in an attempt to salvage the state. Mishra ruled Bihar for 95 days in his last stint as Bihar chief minister but could not stop Janata Dal storm to power in Bihar in March 1990.

When the Congress lost power in Bihar, Jagannath was inducted as Union agriculture minister in the PV Narasimha Rao government in 1995. In 1999, he joins Sharad Pawar in opposing Sonia Gandhi on her foreign origin issue. Later, he left the Congress to join the Janata Dal (United) of Nitish Kumar, becoming the director of LN Mishra Institute of Management — a cabinet minister’s position.

His son Nitish Mishra became a cabinet colleague first of Nitish Kumar and later of Jitan Ram Manjhi. Mishra also broke away with Nitish Kumar by siding with his erstwhile disciple Jitan Ram Manjhi in the latter’s war with Nitish Kumar. But his move failed, leaving him to lose political significance.

For someone who began his career as a professor of economics in Bihar University, Jagannath Mishra touched many political peaks in his career. He took over as Bihar’s chief minister after the assassination of his brother in January 1975.

Lalit Narayan Mishra was attacked with a bomb while inaugurating a broad gauge railway track between Samastipur and Muzaffarpur in north Bihar on January 2, 1975. He was declared dead in Danapur railway hospital the next day. Jagannath Mishra, who too had been severely injured in the incident with multiple splinters piercing his legs and thighs, survived to achieve many political peaks in his career.

Remembering him as a “famous leader and educationist,” Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar paid tributes to Dr Mishra saying he made an invaluable contribution to the politics of Bihar and India. “His death is an irreparable loss in the field of politics, society, and education,” Nitish Kumar said in a statement.

In his heydays, Jagannath Mishra had emerged as the most powerful Congress leader in the late seventies and eighties. He was known as a very popular mass leader, with ears to the ground and hands of political pulse of Bihar. Prior to emergence of Lalu Prasad on the political landscape of Bihar, Jagannath Mishra was the most popular leader among the minorities for making Urdu as the second official language of the state in 1980.

A man with sharp intellect and a perfect practitioner of populism, Jagannath won over the hearts of lakhs of teachers by taking over hundreds of private primary, middle and high schools across the state in 1977.

Dr Mishra also had a fair share of controversies in his political careers. One of his most infamous actions was seen in July 1982, when his government pushed the Bihar Press Bill, which prohibited the publication, sale and possession of any printed matter that was “scurrilous” or “grossly indecent” or “intended for blackmail.”

Though Dr Mishra claimed he supported the free press, his moved was criticised as draconian and dictatorial and also an attempt to gag the press. The move was responded with unprecedented protests from newspapers, as journalists staged a protest on the streets. A year after, the then Bihar government withdrew the bill, which was not given the presidential assent till then.

Dr Mishra was also convicted in the infamous fodder scam case. He, however, was granted bail. Dr Mishra always blamed former Congress president Sitaram Kesri for having his name deliberately included in the scam.

While historians and political scientists will continue to debate whether he could have done better or rose higher, it is true that Dr Mishra has left a rich legacy and will always been remembered as someone who cared for Bihar.

Four-year BEd course finds few takers

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

PATNA: Even as the chancellor’s secretariat has come out with the statutes governing the conduct of the four-year integrated BEd course from the current academic session, there are few takers for this much-publicised academic programme in the state. Hardly six institutions are capable of introducing this teachers’ training course.

Uniform ordinance and regulations of the BEd course were assented to by the chancellor recently on the recommendation of a three-member committee comprising Nalanda Open University former vice-chancellor (VC) Rabindra Kumar Sinha, Munger University VC Ranjit Kumar Verma and B N Mandal University VC A K Roy. The committee was constituted following the Union HRD ministry’s decision to introduce four-year integrated BEd course in the universities from the current academic session.

In Bihar, Nalanda Open University (NOU) has once again been made the nodal agency to conduct state-level combined entrance test for admission to this new course. The test is likely to be conducted in September, NOU registrar (examination) S P Sinha said.

All the universities in the state have been directed to furnish the list of colleges imparting BEd course within a week. The course can be imparted only in regular degree colleges where it is being imparted along with three-year degree courses in arts and science. Teachers’ training colleges, in general, are not competent to run this course.

The four-year BA BEd and BSc BEd courses would be open to students who have passed their Intermediate examinations. “This programme will save one precious year of students as they will be able to complete the course in just four years instead of usual five years,” Sinha said.

The state government had asked the degree colleges in the state a few years back to introduce BEd course along with general undergraduate courses, but hardly any institution had then responded to this directive. Now, with the revised National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) regulations and also in the light of the provisions of the New Education Policy, all the training colleges along with general degree colleges are expected to introduce the four-year integrated BA BEd and BSc BEd courses, said the principal of a training college.

Centre issues Ebola advisory, asks Bihar to remain alert

Source: hindustantimes.com

The Bihar health department has readied guidelines to issue an advisory asking medical colleges and district hospitals to identify isolation facility for Ebola virus disease (EVD).

This follows an advisory by the Centre on July 18 urging states to keep vigil for EVD after its cases were reported from Congo. On July 17, the World Health Organisation declared the situation of Ebola in Congo as public health emergency of international concern.

The letter from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), ministry of health and family welfare (MoH&FW), New Delhi, advised state surveillance officer to keep constant vigil and raise awareness level and knowledge of surveillance officers and healthcare providers on basic standard precautions to be followed during the care and treatment of the suspected patients.

It also asked states and union territories to identify an isolation facility in each district and medical college.

“While asking our healthcare officials to stay alert and also ready isolation wards in their respective facilities, we will ask all districts and medical colleges to immediately notify us if they come across any case of Ebola. We will urge our health officials to keep themselves abreast with the Centre’s instructions on safe handling of human remains of Ebola patients, hospital infection control guidelines, guidelines for sample collection, storage and transportation, guidelines for healthcare provider and guidelines for clinical case management, available on the MoH&FW website,” said executive director of Bihar’s State Health Society, Manoj Kumar.

He said though hospitals did not have separate beds for different diseases, it did have a limited number of beds in isolation ward to cater to infectious diseases.

“We will reiterate the need to keep in readiness isolation wards in district hospitals and medical colleges that can also be used to treat Ebola cases,” added Kumar.

Director, NCDC, Dr Sujeet K Singh, in his letter, said, “If any suspect is admitted to their health facility or seen by health provider, (they should) include the basic level of infection control — hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment to avoid direct contact with blood and body fluids, prevention of needle stick and injuries from other sharp instruments, and a set of environmental control.”

Cases of Ebola are being reported from Congo since 2018. So far, 2,522 cases (2,428 confirmed and 94 probable) and 1,698 (1,604 confirmed and 94 probable) deaths have been reported since August 2018 till July 16, this year from Congo with case fatality rate of 70%. 

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

Source: news18.com

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.

No compromise on corruption, communalism: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on Independence Day

Source: indiatoday.in

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday asserted that there would be no compromise on “crime, corruption and communalism” under his rule, which has been characterized by “nyay ke saath vikas” (development with justice) and “sampradayik sauhardra” (communal harmony).

In his hour-long address at Gandhi Maidan here on the occasion of Independence Day, Kumar said a new system of policing was being introduced in the state for effective maintenance of law and order.

“We are never going to compromise on crime, corruption and communalism. ‘Nyay ke saath vikas and sampradayik sauhardra’ have been and will always remain our priority.

“From today, we have introduced a new system of policing wherein maintenance of law and order and investigation shall stand separated so that personnel engaged in either are not distracted by other demands of duty,” Kumar said after unfurling the tricolour.

The chief minister also inspected the tableaux depicting the various schemes launched and the measures taken during his 14-year-long rule in the state.

“Our crackdown on corruption will continue. Bribery, amassing of wealth disproportionate to assets and through misuse of public office will be severely dealt with. None of those who are involved in earning money through illegal and immoral means will be spared,” the chief minister said.

Kumar pointed out that a Public Service Grievances Redressal Act is in place which guarantees resolution of complaints in a transparent manner and a mechanism has been devised for deciding service-related issues of government servants in a time-bound manner.

“People must be made aware that ill-gotten wealth may bring momentary pleasure, but its long-term impact is perilous. We must always keep in mind the words of Mahatma Gandhi that we must consume only as much as we need, giving up greed in any form,” he maintained.

Recalling that he had ordered a complete ban on sale and consumption of alcohol three years ago, in line with the demand of women in the state, Kumar said it had evoked enthusiasm, with people forming a massive human chain on the theme of prohibition, though “many who think it is their right to drink, seem to be unhappy over this move.”

People must realize that consumption of alcohol cannot be a matter of rights, he asserted.

“I would also like to draw the attention of youth towards a report of World Health Organization which has done a study on the ill effects of consuming liquor,” he added.

The CM also spoke at length about the measures taken by his government to improve education scenario in the state, including the proposed launch of “Unnayan Bihar” programme next month which aims to emulate across the state a successful e-learning experiment carried out in Banka district.

He said that his government was committed to providing people with better health care facilities and that the expansion and upgrading of premier hospitals at Patna, Muzaffarpur and Gaya have been approved.

Kumar mentioned that his government was taking steps to boost agriculture, including the setting up of a separate power feeder for farmers.

He lamented that the effects of climate change are being felt in Bihar, where there has been a decline in average rainfall over the years, while untimely showers have caused flash floods.

“We are doing our bit to reverse the damage. Our Jal-Jeevan-Hariyali drive, launched recently, is a step in this direction”, he added.

The CM, after attending the Independence Day ceremony, visited the Rajdhani Vatika adventure park in the city where he tied a thread around a tree in presence of cabinet colleagues, including his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi.

The state government is observing the festival of “Rakshabandhan”, which falls on this date, as “Vriksh Suraksha Diwas” (Day for protection of trees).

Villagers Help to Declare Gogabeel as Bihar’s 1st Community Reserve

Source: newsclick.in

Patna: Ten days back, the Gogabeel lake in Katihar district was declared as Bihar’s first Community Reserve. Nearly 250 villagers including farmers and tribals expressed their happiness and said that they have offered 140 acres of land to develop it as a bird sanctuary.

A local environmentalist T N Tarak said local villagers are happy and upbeat following the Principal Secretary, Department of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dipak Kumar’s notification declaring Gogabeel part (140.29 acre) as a Community Reserve and another part (73.78 acre) as the Conservation Reserve on August 2 .

Jeet Narayan Yadav, a retired defence personnel, who is residing in village near the Gogabeel lake, told NewsClick that local villagers, mostly farmers, have contributed to turn it into a community reserve and to develop it as a bird sanctuary. “We have offered our land for it,” said Yadav, one of the 250 villagers who offered their land for the development of Gogabeel lake into a bird sanctuary.

Another villager Mahesh Rai said, “We are happy as our long struggle has finally born some fruit as the authorities have accepted our request to conserve the Gogabeel lake for birds and biodiversity and declared it as the first and only community reserve as well as a conservation reserve in the state.”

Gogabeel is an ox-bow lake formed by rivers Mahananda and Kankhar in the north and Ganga in its south and east. Despite being ignored by the concerned government agencies for a long time, the lake survived due to the awareness and motivation of local enthusiasts and friendly villagers in collaboration with the members of Mandar Nature Club. It has now become the 15th Protected Area (PA) of Bihar.

Ram Kripal Kumar of Goga Vikas Samiti of Sura Par praised and lauded the villagers, by saying, “They have set an example by donating land to develop the wetlands as a reserve for local and migratory birds.”

“It was not at all easy to convince the villagers that the rights and management of this community reserve will remain with the local community. For this, the members of different organisations Goga Vikas Samiti, Janlakshya (Katihar), Mandar Nature Club and Arnav from Bhagalpur worked together hard for years. Janlakshya has adopted a local tribal village ‘Marwa’ organising different camps and programmes for them for ensuring the protection of Gogabeel Lake and its biodiversity,” said Dr. Raj Aman Singh, who is the treasurer of Janlakshya.

Arvind Mishra, state coordinator of Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN), and a member of IUCN Species Survival Commission said, “We are overwhelmed to find the first community reserve and conservation reserve of Bihar with the help and support of local villagers.”

Mishra said the proposal for notifying Gogabeel and Baghar Beel as ‘Community Reserve’ and ‘Conservation Reserve’ was passed in the meeting of State Board for Wildlife held on November 2, 2018. “We will request the government to similarly notify the adjoining wetland Baghar Beel which is no less than the Gogabeel lake,” he added.

According to Mishra, Gogabeel was initially notified as a Closed Area by the state government in the year 1990 for 5 years and this status was extended in 1995 up to 2000. After the amendment of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 in 2002, the provision of closed area has been omitted and this site disappeared from the list of the Protected Areas (PAs) of the state government of Bihar having no legal status.

But this wonderful birding site, including Baghar Beel and Baldia Chaur, was given the international status of an IBA (Important Bird Area of India) in 2004 and again in 2017 by the IBCN, a network of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Bird Life International, UK and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), UK, on the recommendation of Mishra, who was a regular visitor to the area since the early 90s. He also recommended this site as having all potential for being declared as a Ramsar Site of India which found place in the book “Potential Ramsar Site of India” published by BNHS in 2008 in which eight wetlands of Bihar have been included. At present, there are 27 wetlands in India with global value and importance, which have been designated as Ramsar Sites.

Besides many scientific publications at national and international level Gogabeel finds mention in the book Ducks, Geese and Swans of India: Their status and Distribution published by BNHS and the bird count conducted by Mandar Nature Club, Bhagalpur has been recorded in the data zone of Asian Waterbird Census of Wetlands International since 1995.

Mishra said Gogabeel is a permanent water body, which shrinks to some extent in summer but never dries completely. “It may be a smaller water body of only 88 hectares but it supports unique assemblage off bird species both in count and diversity,” he said.

More than 90 bird species have been recorded from this site of which about 30 species are migratory. Among the threatened species, the Lesser Adjutant falls in the vulnerable category; and three species, the Black-necked Stork, White Ibis and White-eyed Pochard are under the near threatened category. Four of the Biom Restricted species are also found here. The site falls in Biome-12 (Indo-Gangetic plains) but many species of Biome 11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone) are also reported from this site. They include the Black Ibis, Ashy Swallow Shrike, Jungle Babbler and Bank Myna (Mishra, A. 2002). Some other bird species of interest are Red Munia, Northern Lapwing and Spotbill Duck which otherwise are not commonly seen in other wetlands of the state. The large flocks of Asian Openbill and White Ibis are the beauty of Gogabeel.