US couple alleges adopted child assaulted at Gaya centre, 5 held


PATNA: The Bihar government on Saturday closed an adoption centre in Gaya after a US-based couple complained that a child adopted by them from there in August this year was physically abused.

A case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act has also been lodged and five persons have been arrested, officials said on Sunday. They said all 13 children from the centre have been shifted to other centres.

“Following the allegations made by the US couple, we have been asked by the CARA [Central Adoption Resource Authority] to get the medical examinations done of all other children at the Gaya adoption centre and submit a report by end of September,” said Rajkumar, the director of Bihar’s social welfare department.

CARA works under the Union women and child welfare ministry and deals with inter-country adoption.

The US-based couple had adopted the five-year-old girl on August 17 from the social welfare department centre being run by a non-government organisation in Gaya. All the 13 children who lived there are all below six.

“After completing the formalities in Gaya, the couple left for Patna to get the passport of the adopted girl. They returned to the US on August 30,” said another social welfare department official, who is aware to the adoption case but not authorised to speak to the media.

CARA, in the first week of September, received a letter from the couple alleging that the child may have been mistreated at the Centre on basis of “discomfort in walking” and her “uneasiness” in seeing the pictures of the adoption centre in Gaya.

The official said that the allegations made by the couple were surprising as the girl underwent a medical test at a leading hospital in Delhi and was issued a fitness certificate before leaving for the US.

“Soon after the receiving the letter, the matter was reported to Mufassil police station, Gaya, by assistant director, child protection unit, and an FIR for offences under various sections of POCSO Act was lodged against the adoption centre. Five persons were arrested on Saturday,” the official said and added that the centre has been sealed.

Rupesh Kumar Sinha, station house officer of Mufassil police station, Gaya, said the case was registered on the basis of the complaint by assistant director, child protection unit, Gaya. “It was alleged in the letter that the baby girl might have gone through some physical abuse at the [adoption] centre. Five persons from the NGO, which used to run this Centre, have been arrested in this connection. The accused have been sent to the jail and adoption centre has been closed,” he said.

Centre issues Ebola advisory, asks Bihar to remain alert


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%. 

Odisha urges Centre not to shift CWC office to Patna


Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has urged the Centre to rescind its decision to shift the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) office to Patna, saying the move will jeopardise the state’s interests.

State Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain conveyed Odisha’s concerns in a letter to Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday.

“The recent decision to merge Bhubaneswar and Patna regions (of CWC) into a single entity and renaming it as Patna region with headquarters at Patna will seriously jeopardise the interest of the people of Odisha,” Swain said.

Noting that monitoring of scientific storage from Patna will be difficult, he said warehousing operations in Odisha will be hampered as a result of the proposed relocation. The minister also pointed out that members of the Odisha Assembly, cutting across party lines, have raised their concerns over the issue in the House.

“The regional office of CWC at Bhubaneswar has been playing a vital role in storage and warehousing of various commodities including foodgrains and notified commodities of the Food Corporation of India as well as the Odisha state Civil Supplies Corporation,” Swain said.

Established in 1990, the Bhubaneswar regional office now has an operational capacity of 3.48 lakh MT and caters to the storage needs of 15 districts of the state, he said. Swain said that the Bhubaneswar regional office has been making profit over the past five years.

 “In this backdrop, I would like to request your (Paswan’s) personal intervention for allowing the regional office at Bhubaneswar to continue as such in modification of the earlier decision of its merger with Patna region,” he said.

After 8 years! India’s 1st dolphin research centre to come up in Patna


he foundation stone of India’s first dolphin research centre will be laid here on October 5, after an eight-year delay since it was first mooted, an officer confirmed.

DK Shukla, the senior officer from Bihar’s Department of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said: “It was announced by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi in state Assembly that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar would lay the foundation stone of the National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC) on October 5 on the bank of river Ganga in the premises of Patna University.”

Shukla said the development was a good news for conservation of the endangered Gangetic river dolphins in the country.

According to Gopal Sharma, a senior scientist at the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), the population of the endangered Gangetic river dolphins was stable along nearly 1,000 km stretch of the Ganga and its two major tributaries, Gandak and Ghaghra.

More than 1,500 dolphins were spotted by three teams of experts and scientists who undertook the exercise of enumeration of the species earlier this year. The NDRC will play an important role to strengthen conservation efforts and help in research to save the endangered mammal.

Another officer of the Department SAID the NDRC remained stuck for over four years due to refusal of Patna University to part with its land for it.

Unhappy over the delay, Nitish Kumar threatened last year that the NDRC might be shifted to Bhagalpur. After this, the varsity finally gave its clearance.

A well reputed expert on the Gangetic river dolphins, RK Sinha, who is also the current Vice Chancellor of the Nalanda Open University in Patna said the NDRC will prove a boon for research and conservation of dolphin.

It was Sinha’s idea to set up the NDRC in Patna and a proposal was approved by then Planning Commission Chairman Montek Singh Ahulwalia during his visit here in mid 2011 and early 2012.

Within a year, the commission had sanctioned Rs 28.06 crore for the NDRC in 2013 followed by the state government that also released Rs 18,16 crore to the Infrastructure Development Authority in 2014. But till July 2018, the NDRC remained a non-starter.

Sinha, known as the ‘Dolphin Man’ for his research of the Gangetic dolphins, said the species habitat has been threatened and disturbed in the river.

He said the Gangetic river dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal but frequently falls prey to poachers and sometimes killed without intention after being trapped in fishs net and hit by machines.

The mammals are killed at an alarming rate with wildlife officials saying poachers kill them for their flesh, fat and oil.

Sinha, who was conferred the Padma Shri for his research on dolphin, said dolphin presence is the sign of a healthy river ecosystem. Dolphins prefer water that is at least 5ft to 8ft deep. They are usually found in turbulent waters, where there are enough fish for them to feed on.

Gangetic dolphins live in a zone where there is little or no current, which helps them save energy. If they sense danger, they can dive into deeper waters. The dolphins swim from the no-current zone to the edges to hunt for fish and return, Sinha added.

Gangetic river dolphins fall under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, and have been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Weak monsoon accounts for 30% rain deficit


The rain fall statistics released by the Meteorological Centre Ranchi on July 11 States that Jharkhand is facing a rain deficit of 30 per cent. From June 1 to July 11, the State has received a total of 218.2 mm of rain against the ideal amount of rain which should have been 310 mm.

“During the last week monsoon has been in an active phase in the entire state. In June the rain deficit in Jharkhand was recorded at 55 per cent and as of on July 11 it has come to 30 per cent showing an improvement of 25 per cent. In the next two weeks, it is expected that there are chances of further improvement in the rainfall statistics in the State,” said Senior Scientist, MET Observatory Centre- Ranchi, Dr. RS Sharma.

In the next few days normal rainfall activity is expected over northern parts of Jharkhand. However, in central and south Jharkhand there are not many chances of monsoon showers in the coming dew days. Thereafter another system is likely to form and monsoon might again be active.

“The monsoon trough is shifting towards the foothills of the Himalayas. Therefore from July 12 to July 15, reduced rain fall activity is likely to occur over Jharkhand and not all the stations but few places will receive light to moderate rainfall. However, the northern districts in the state will continue to receive rain,” the scientist further added.

Overall in Jharkhand, out of the 24 districts only five districts have received normal rainfall so far-Dumka, East Singhbhum, Lohardaga, Palamu and Sahibganj. The maximum deficit level- 59 percent was recorded at Pakur which has only received 148.3 mm of rain against the normal 358.5 mm. The State capital has a rain deficit of 35 percent and has received 214.1 mm of rain while the normal amount should be 331 mm.

As per the weather bulletin released by the MET Observatory Centre-Ranchi, on July 11, for the next four days July 12 to July 15, it is going to be cloudy in Ranchi and its surrounding areas.

The maximum temperature will be between 32- 34 degree Celsius while the minimum temperature will be 24 degree Celsius.

Centre’s Proposed List of World-Class Tourism Sites Has None from Odisha, Stakeholders Unhappy


Bhubaneswar: The Union government’s decision to develop 17 “iconic tourism sites” in the country into world-class destinations has disappointed many here as none of the world-famous sites in the state has found a place in the list.

Sites of cultural and national heritage with significant global appeal abound in Odisha drawing millions of tourists every year.

The sun temple of Konark, a 13th Century architectural and sculptural marvel that keeps attracting foreign tourists, is among the 38 world heritage sites in the country identified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The 10th Century temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri is another preeminent tourist destination in the state.

“The government is developing 17 iconic tourism sites into world-class tourist destinations to serve as a model for other tourism sites. The sites would enhance visitor experience which would lead to increased visits of both domestic and international tourists at these destinations,” said Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech on July 5.

The sites identified by the Ministry of Tourism include Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, Hampi in Karnataka, Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, Mahabodhi temple in Bihar, Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar in New Delhi, Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh, Amer Fort in Rajasthan, Somnath and Dholavira in Gujarat and Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra.

Since all of these selected sites are not UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the exclusion of Konark’s sun temple, a massive sandstone structure counted as one of the seven wonders of India, came as a rude shock to many in Odisha.

While other sites such as the Colva beach in Goa and Kaziranga National Park in Assam are among the 17 selected sites, similar sites of unique natural environment in Odisha were given a miss.

“It is disappointing. The selection process certainly raises questions. We will raise the issue with the Centre. Our MPs will raise it during the budget discussions in parliament,” said Minister for Tourism and Culture Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi.

The state, with its wealth of ancient sites of tourist importance, registered 1.5 crore tourist footfalls in 2018.