Two railway engineers among a dozen people thrashed in Bihar on child-lifting rumours


In a worrying sign of mob attacks over rumours of child-lifting continuing unabated despite warning by the Bihar government to book the culprits under the Crime Control Act (CCA), a mob thrashed half-a-dozen people, including two railway engineers and a beggar woman, in two separate incidents on Tuesday.

In Samastipur, two engineers were thrashed in Munnichak-Sarsauna village under Bangra police station while they were busy conducting a survey for a new rail line project. The incident took place around 11.45 am when some villagers surrounded them, suspecting them to be child-lifters, and thrashed him.  The mob also damaged their vehicles and snatched mobile phones.

A police contingent was also called in to control the situation after villagers went on a rampage and attacked the policemen as well. “An FIR has been registered against named persons of the village and 15 unidentified for attempt to murder, rioting, criminal assault and criminal intimidation,” said local SHO Anil Kumar. Efforts are on to nab those named and others, he said.

Both engineers hail from Uttarakhand, the police said.  

In Begusarai also, a mob assaulted a mentally challenged woman at Khatopur village, suspecting her of being a child-lifter. The woman was rescued by police. 

Earlier, in Lakhisarai, a woman was mercilessly thrashed on similar rumours.

In Nalanda, a mob attacked a beggar, suspecting him to be a child lifter. Later, an investigation found him innocent.

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


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.

CM Yogi to reshuffle his cabinet today


Five ministers of the UP Cabinet, including Finance minister Rajesh Agarwal, resigned on Tuesday on eve of the first cabinet expansion in the state.

Also putting in their papers on Tuesday were cabinet minister for cooperative societies Mukut Bihari Verma, sports minister Chetan Chauhan, minister of state (independent charge) for basic education charge Anuradha Jaisawal and minister of state for agriculture marketing Swati Singh.

Mukut Bihari Verma had unsuccessfully contested the last Lok Sabha elections from Ambedkarnagar.

All five ministers have submitted their resignation to the chief minister Yogi Adityanath. 

The outgoing finance minister resigned citing health reasons while the other four ministers have quit as they anticipated their dismissal from the council of ministers. 

“Following the policy of my organisation, I have tendered my resignation from the state cabinet as I am 75 years of age. Now it is up to the party to accept it. I’ll carry out whatever responsibility will be given to me,” Rajesh Agarwal later said.

Speculations are rife that one more deputy chief minister from the Dalit community is likely to be inducted, thus taking the number of deputy CMs to three. 

The maximum strength of the council of ministers can be 61, including the Chief Minister, since the Uttar Pradesh Assembly has 403 seats.

“The oath-taking ceremony will be held on Wednesday at the Raj Bhavan at 11 am,” an official said.  

However, the official declined to state the number of ministers who may take oath on Wednesday. 

The much-awaited cabinet reshuffle of the Yogi Adityanath government is to fill slots that have fallen vacant, especially after some ministers were elected to the Lok Sabha. 

Yogi Adityanath took over the reins of the state in March 2017, and this will be the first expansion of his ministry. 

Three UP ministers were elected to the Lok Sabha in the recent polls, while disgruntled minister and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) leader O P Rajbhar was sacked by the chief minister for his repeated outbursts against the party.

The reshuffle was initially scheduled for Monday (August 19) but was postponed due to the deteriorating health of former Union minister Arun Jaitely in Delhi. 

Earlier on Sunday, the authorities had suddenly stopped the distribution of invitation cards after officials confirmed the postponement of the swearing-in ceremony.

Preparations had begun for the swearing-in ceremony, while legislators, who were slated to be sworn in, were asked to reach Lucknow. 

The Yogi government has a total of 43 ministers, including the Chief Minister. There are 18 Cabinet ministers, nine Ministers of State with Independent charge and 13 Ministers of State, including two Deputy Chief Ministers — Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma.

Worry within RJD as Tejashwi Yadav stays away from action


The meeting of RJD’s legislature party was cancelled on Saturday, reportedly because Leader of Opposition in Assembly Tejashwi Yadav was not going to attend it. This comes a day after former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi said on Friday that Tejashwi would attend the meeting on Saturday. On Friday, 66 of the party’s 81 MLAs attended the meeting.

Tejashwi has been mostly missing from the political scene after the Lok Sabha results in which the RJD drew a blank. He attended the just-concluded Assembly proceedings only for a couple of days, but did not take part in any debate. He also skipped the recent function of the RJD regarding its campaign to get new members.

He has, however, been active on Twitter. He recently criticised the state government for the deaths of children in Muzaffarpur and Vaishali because of the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome and over its handling of the flood situation.

A section of RJD leaders are concerned with Tejashwi’s “growing disinterest” in state politics. An RJD source said, “He wants to be in full control of the party but he is not being allowed to do so. He has been upset at his elder brother Tej Pratap Yadav’s intermittent acts of defiance. He is also unhappy with some senior leaders blaming him solely for the party’s defeat. He wants his family to set things in order before he takes over reins of the party with full interest.”

Tej Pratap, who has floated apolitical forum Lalu Rabri Morcha, has been constantly throwing a challenge to Tejashwi’s leadership. “Though Tej Pratap might not have much support beyond the youth wing leaders of the party, his actions can embarass the party,” said a senior RJD leader.

An RJD leader said the rout in the Lok Sabha polls has dampened the morale of the party. “Tejashwi is not being able to take senior leaders along and to inspire confidence in the workers at the grassroots. His current silence is harmful for the alliance too. Congress is already talking about going alone in the Assembly polls,” said the leader.

While Rabri Devi allayed apprehensions of any split in the party during the meeting on Friday, senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh spoke about how the alliance with RLSP, Vikasshil Insaan Party and Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) did not benefit the RJD.

Party spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewari said, “The party meeting on Saturday had to be cancelled because of unavoidable reasons. Not much should be read into it.”

Inspired by AAP, Jharkhand govt starts Atal Mohalla Clinics across 17 districts


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) may not see eye to eye but when it comes to policies, even the saffron party accepts and appreciates the ambitious health scheme of the Mohalla Clinics launched by the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi-NCR in 2015.

After Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana, and Karnataka, the Jharkhand government, too, adopted the concept of the Mohalla Clinics. The concept was launched by the Jharkhand government in a ceremony on August 16 on the first death anniversary of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Mohalla Clinic in Jharkhand has been renamed as Atal clinic.

The government has launched 25 clinics in 17 districts across the state. Chief Minister Raghubar Das was visibly pleased and said that this is the best way to pay tribute and rich homage to the departed leader on his death anniversary.

The clinic, which has already started operating, will facilitate the patients with consultancy, diagnostic tests, and dispensary. “When we were at the centre, at least 26 patients received consultancy and they were happy,” one of the doctors said.

Principal Secretary of the health department, Nitin Kulkarni had earlier said that the features of the clinic are more or less similar to the Mohalla Clinics operating in Delhi-NCR. The only hurdle is fewer doctors in Jharkhand. Jharkhand has a ratio of one doctor per 10,000 patients. While the WHO vision 2020 demands one doctor per 1,000 patients.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jharkhand ensuring last-mile public healthcare delivery


With healthcare becoming a focus point, as reflected through Narendra Modi Government’s game-changer Ayushman Bharat scheme, the Government of Jharkhand has gone out of its way to evolve the State’s healthcare delivery system, enabling people of all strata of the society better patient care in terms of accessibility and affordability.

One must have vivid memory of last year’s incident when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the scheme from the soil of Jharkhand, providing much needed succor to poor and vulnerable section of the society. Taking a leaf from the Centre, the Jharkhand Government is taking all measures to improve care delivery system to ensure wellbeing of each and every citizen of the State.

Our latest cover story titled ‘Jharkhand Making Giant Leap to Ensure Inclusive, Affordable Healthcare’ thus touches upon various aspects of this all-important healthcare sector.

It highlights how the State has come a long way since its inception in 2000 and has made tremendous progress in every sectors including healthcare.

Despite having lots of challenges in terms of hilly terrain and a large swathe of tribal population, the State has improved its rank in healthcare index and recent Niti Aayog report vouches for the same. The story encapsulates how the State Government has leveraged Public Private Partnership (PPP) model to fill infrastructural gaps on many fronts.

The latest issue also features insightful interview of Dr Nitin Madan Kulkarni, Secretary, Department of Health, Medical Education & Family Welfare, Government of Jharkhand, who sheds lights on various initiatives of the Government undertaken to improve healthcare delivery to the last mile.

We also have a special feature on Emergency Medical Services which takes into account various aspect of emergency care and its significance in providing immediate care in critical situations.

The magazine has also insightful articles on Public Private Partnership model which plays a pivotal role to resuscitate healthcare infrastructure.

The articles on behalf of Medall, Ziqitza HealthCare, Apollo Tele Health Services, Healthmap, and Tata Motors present comparative accounts of their contribution to bolster patient care across length and breadth of India. With such a bouquet of articles, interviews and stories, we hope this edition will evoke an invaluable response from our esteemed readers.

17 towns along Ganga declared open-defecation free: Bihar government to NGT


NEW DELHI: The Bihar government told the National Green Tribunal on Wednesday that 17 towns along the Ganga river in the state have been declared open-defecation free (ODF).

Five towns are currently in the process of being declared ODF, it said.

In an affidavit filed before NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, the state government said that 17 towns have been declared ODF.

They are: Barh, Hajipur, Sonepur, Mokama, Bakhtiyarpur, Teghra, Maner, Barhiya, Manihari, Buxar, Naugachia, Danapur, Dighwara, Jamalpur, Munger, Begusarai and Bhagalpur It said the work was in process in Patna, Chhapra, Sultanganj, Khagariya and Kahalgaon.

With regard to liquid waste management, the state government informed the tribunal that a total 26 sewerage infrastructure projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs 5,089.82 crore which are at different stages of implementation in various towns — Patna (11 projects), Begusarai, Munger, Hajipur, Mokama, Sultanganj, Naugachia, Barh, Bhagalpur, Sonepur, Chhapra, Khagaria, Bakhtiyarpur, Maner, Danapur and Phulwarishariff.

These projects will facilitate in treatment of 616.5 MLD of sewage through creation/rehabilitation of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), sewerage network and allied Interception and diversion works, it said.

The affidavit was filed after NGT’s May 29 order directing Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand to monitor Ganga cleaning and file report.

The report said 14 projects are being implemented include Beur STP, Beur Sewerage Network, Saidpur STP & Adjoining Network, Saidpur Sewerage Network, Karmalichak STP, Karmalichak Sewerage Network, Pahari STP, Pahari Zone-IV A (South), Pahari Zone V, Sultanganj, Mokama, Sonepur, Barh and Naugachhiya.

Letter of acceptance has been issued for four projects — Digha, Kankarbagh, Bakhtiyarpur and Maner while seven projects — Hajipur, Bhagalpur, Begusarai, Chhapra, Danapur, Phulwarishariff and Khagaria — are under tendering stages.

Tender for 1 project (Munger) has been floated and a revised estimate of a project in Buxar is under process.

There are 118 ‘Nallas’ in the Ganga towns, of which 111 ‘Nallas’ have been screened and the remaining are in progress, said the report, filed through advocate Balendu Shekhar.

On the issue of plastic ban, it said that 100 per cent single use plastic (Plastic Carry Bags) have been banned in all the urban local bodies in state of Bihar.

“Penalty provisions have been made for involvement in production, distribution, trading, storage, sale of plastic carry bags irrespective of its thickness and sizes in the respective urban local bodies Plastic Waste Management Byelaws, 2018.

A total of 38,283 shops or establishment have been raided and fine for Rs 18,99,495 has been collected and 8,085.21 Kg of plastic carry bags were also seized,” the state government said.

The report said that in the context of Bihar, the polluted stretches are — Ganga, Punpun, Ramrekha, Sikrahana, Sirsa and Parmar.

It also told the tribunal that as per its direction an environmental compensation of Rs 25 lakh has been deposited.

Even a drop of pollution in Ganga is a matter of concern and the attitude of all authorities should be stringent to protect the river, the NGT had earlier said while seeking a concrete action plan on the issue.

The green panel had said people drank and bathed in the river with reverence, without knowing that it may adversely affect their health.

Inside Bihar’s crumbling health system, nothing has changed

Despite receiving the dubious distinction of being at the bottom over the last two years in the health index prepared by NITI Aayog, no efforts have been made to change the health systems in Bihar.

In 2019-20, the Bihar government drew up a demand and received close to ₹3,300 crore from the Centre under the National Health Mission (NHM). Last year, it utilised only close to fifty per cent of the NHM budget. It received an additional ₹300 crore under government-run cashless health insurance scheme Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) or Ayushman Bharat.

Promises to revamp health system are lofty, but little has changed close to two months after a spate of child deaths due to Chamki bukhaar or Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) that claimed 175 lives since the beginning of the year up to July 31.

Failing PHCs

Budhanidevi (60) is sitting in front of the X-ray machine at Kanti Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in Muzzafarpur to get her broken hand scanned. She meekly pays ₹70 for the service. She is oblivious of the fact she is supposed to get the service for free. She is handed over no receipt of her payment.

The State Health Society has released over ₹46 lakh to Muzzafarpur district in 2019-20 for providing radiology services free of cost to patients under the NHM.

However, PHC’s data entry operator Manjeet Kumar says, “After the contract of IGMS Medical Systems expired in April 2018, we were told to locally arrange for services until a time that new tenders are floated and implemented. So we are charging minimal fees, it is better than patients paying up to ₹200 in private set-ups.”

IAS officer Manoj Kumar who is the Executive Director, Bihar’s NHM, told BusinessLine that they were having extreme difficulties in tendering for X-ray services and had floated five back-to-back tenders but to no avail, and were in the process of repeating the process for the sixth time.

“Meanwhile, we have made funds available of over ₹14 crore across public health care systems for free radiological services under NHM,” Kumar says. He assures an inquiry into working of Kanthi PHC.

Poor infrastructure

While PHCs are over-burdened, the infrastructure at the lower rung of health sub-centres is non-functional.

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced building of 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres (HWC) with yoga facilities, diabetes, blood pressure and cancer screening, in Bihar this is far cry. Kumar noted that the State NHM has not been able to make even one HWC fully functional of the 598 designated ones, even one year after the announcement. Also, one step above the PHCs, the block level hospitals are ill-equipped leaving medical colleges to bear a huge burden of patients, notes Rajeev Kamal Kumar, Assistant Professor, Sociology of Patna-based AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies. A case in point is Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) spread over 160 acres in Muzaffarpur.

Every third patient in SKMCH sleeps on the floor in corridors ridden with fleas that reek of nauseating urine stench. There are only 600 beds against which close to 955 patients are admitted. Mounds of plastic and food waste accumulate inside and outside the building. The entire back of SKMCH is a dumping ground with over two dozen pigs rummaging through the waste in close quarters to corridors of the ward.

SKMCH superintendent Sunil Kumar Shahi is at his wit’s end managing cleaning in the hospital.

“Do you realise this hospital building has no drainage facilities? They forgot to build drainage outlets while conceptualising the structure,” says Shahi. The shoddy state of affairs only came to light when the hospital became a centre point of child deaths earlier in June.

“Only after June, ₹2.5 crore has been sanctioned to build a drain outlet which will carry excreta out of the campus, however there is no nullah for proper channeling of waste. We are figuring out that one,” said Shahi.

Aggrieved parties line up outside new secretariat waiting to meet the Health Minister and complain that model tender documents have not been followed while selecting security guards in Government Pharmacy Institute, Patna. “Because Nil charge tenders will not be accepted, the lowest bidder bid at ₹0.001 for services. This is the sad state of affairs,” alleged an aggrieved contractor.

“Our hands are bound. We have to award the tender to the lowest bidder,” Bihar’s Health Minister Mangal Pandey told BusinessLine.

Also, in light of crumbling public health systems and lack of interest of private facilities to join Ayushman Bharat — patients are taking the maximum hit. Of the 700 hospitals registered with, 560 (80 per cent) are government-run and 140 (20 per cent) private.

“We have taken action to proceed and disempanel at least six private hospitals from Ayushman for malpractice in providing services,” said a State health society official.

JMM holds youth rally against Govt policies


In an attempt to intensify its attack on ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its “wrong employment policy”, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) held a ‘Yuva Aakrosh Rally’ to demand jobs for local and tribal youths in all district head quarters across the State including the State Capital on Monday.

The party organised the march to catch attention of youths and students before the State Assembly Election which is scheduled in the end of this year. A large numbers of youths participated in the march.

The march led by JMM Executive president and former Chief Minister of the State, Hemant Soren and it started from Ranchi College Football Ground and crossing through Radium Road, Kutchery Chowk and finally ended at Raj Bhawan and culminated in a public meeting

Addressing the crowd at the Raj Bhawan during public meeting, Soren said that the party called ‘Yuva Aakrosh Rally’ against wrong job policies of the State Government, which resulted in employment of outsiders and forced the youths of the State to migrate to earn their living. “The State Government’s job policy is completely against the local and tribal of the State, during the tenure of present State Government the local and tribal of the State has not been given jobs in any of the State Government’s department and all the jobs were sold to outsiders,” he added.

Hitting hard on the government for its wrong job policies the former Chief Minister said that the government is playing with the future of the youths and the students to make a particular section happy. During the last five years the State Government has not been successfully completed a single recruitment through Jharkhand Public Service Commission, he added

Announcing the party’s stand if voted to power in the upcoming State Assembly Elections, Soren said that the party will constitute a special job policy for the local and tribal of the State. “The party will provide 75 per cent reservation to local and tribal to jobs of private companies which are settled in the State. The party will also make provision to give 50 per cent reservation to women in all State Government’s job,” he added.

“The party will start recruitment in mission mode in the first year of its tenure to fill all five lakhs vacant posts in the State Government’s various departments and those who are working as contractual employee of the State Government for a long time will also be regularised,” said Soren.

It has also been announced at the meeting that the local will get priority in tender of up to Rs 25 crore of all State Government’s contract.

Almost all senior leader of the party were present in the march.