Worry within RJD as Tejashwi Yadav stays away from action

Source: indianexpress.com

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.”

A cry for help from this Bihar’s city on the brink

Source: hindustantimes.com

Shakeela Khatoon, 60, poked into layers of mud for utensils sunk there by the recent floods that ravaged villages through Muzaffarpur district, including her own hutment in Bada Jagannath village in Musahari block.

Floods are an almost annual phenomenon in Muzaffarpur, which lies in the way of five Himalayan rivers that come down from Nepal. This year it was the Burhi Gandak river that spilled out in parts of the district because of heavy rains in the neighboring country.

“A similar flood had ravaged our village in 2017. Last year, we had drought. This year, the floods returned with a greater force and wreaked havoc,” Khatoon said, pointing at the rubble inside her house and craters outside. “But I have got used to the floods since my childhood and have learnt to live with them,” the woman said as her daughter-in-law and grandchildren continued the clean-up.

Some of the disasters that have affected Muzaffarpur over the past 16 months have seemed to border on extraordinary.

The floods this year affected around 400,000 people in 84 panchayats of nine out of the district’s 16 blocks. They were preceded by an outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in May and June. The disease claimed lives of the 162 children across Bihar, with 137 casualties reported from the city alone.

The damage went beyond devastating floods and dying children. This year, Muzaffarpur was categorised as one of the most polluted cities in India as per a World Health Organisation study. Calamities appear to strike back-to-back in Muzaffarpur — floods, disease outbreak, hazardous air—and some repeat every year.

But the city has also witnessed tragedies entirely man-made. In fact, its year of disasters began after a report last April by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) blew the lid off allegations of years of sexual abuse, rape, torture and murder of girl inmates at a shelter home run by a non-government organisation in the city. Put all these events together and you get the picture of a city hit by a combination of natural disasters, manmade calamities, and pure criminality. And beneath it all, the underlying message: apathy of different kinds.

What is it that makes Muzaffarpur synonymous with bad news; who is to blame for it; and what lies in the future?

Muzaffarpur is the undeclared capital of upper Ganges, also known as North Bihar. About 6.2 million people live in the district of Muzaffarpur, spread over 16 blocks, two sub-divisions. It accommodates 11 assembly and two Lok Sabha constituencies.

It is the biggest city in the state after the capital Patna. But despite its numerical and political significance, Muzaffarpur doesn’t offer an easy life to its residents.

“We don’t have communal riots here,” said Rajiv Tulsyan, 55, a cloth merchant, stressing that despite cultural and religious differences, the Hindus and Muslims in the city have lived in harmony. “We have bigger challenges to confront — some of them beyond human control.”

SHELTER HOME SHAME

The city made national headlines on April 26, 2018 when TISS submitted its fact-finding report on Balika Griha, a shelter home for girls run by influential businessman Brajesh Thakur’s NGO, Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti. The report submitted to the principal secretary of Bihar’s social welfare department pointed to sexual exploitation of inmates. The medical tests of all the 44 inmates confirmed rape and sexual abuse.

As investigations pointed to an entire chain of people in-charge of social welfare in Bihar — charity workers, bureaucrats, ministers — having enabled the exploitation, the state government asked for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe. Soon after, the Patna high court and the Supreme Court intervened and shifted the hearing of the case out of Bihar.

At present, the witnesses are deposing in a Delhi court. The kingpin of the scandal, Thakur, has been shifted to Patiala jail and 20 other accused to New Delhi’s Tihar jail. The 42 inmates have been rehabilitated to shelter homes in Patna and Madhubani under government supervision.

Thakur’s NGO, which was granted the contract to run the shelter home by Bihar government, has been blacklisted and the building, which was constructed on encroached land, has been demolished.

Through all of this, the city had to quietly bear the national and international disgrace. “The shelter home incident is a result of the complete collapse of administrative machinery. A syndicate comprising the land, sand and liquor mafia and powerful contractors are ruling the roost in Bihar and making big profits. One cannot expect sanity or respect for law from them,” said Arvind Varun, a member of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties.

He emphasised that Thakur could not have dared to carry out the heinous crimes without political and administrative backing.

“Not long back, even a ‘lal topi’ [constable] used to spread fear among the criminals. The administration today seems to be handcuffed. Ad-hoc-ism in government appointments is making matters worse. How can you expect a teacher or a health worker to perform if he lives in the fear of losing his job after 11 months,” said Dr Om Prakash Roy, principal of the 120-year-old LS College. Muzaffarpur, he said, was and remains one of the most academically advanced districts in Bihar. “It is also the cultural capital of Bihar,” he said.

Eminent Gandhian and activist from the Bihar Movement of the 1970s, Chandrika Sahu spoke of Muzaffarpur’s descent from a being a hub for resistance movements before and after Independence. “Once a land of doyens like Gandhian and socialist Acharya Kripalani, freedom fighter and socialist leader Rambriksh Benipuri, Bihar’s first speaker, Ram Dayalu Singh, Gandhian LN Agarwal and [socialist leader] George Fernandes, who fought for the people, from the streets to Parliament, is now a centre for the mafia and criminals,” said Sahu.

Following the Muzaffarpur shelter home expose, the Bihar government led by Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) has updated the guidelines for shelter homes and hostels for girls across the state.

District Magistrate (DM) Alok Ranjan Ghosh said that since the exposure, the government directly monitors the operation of shelter homes.

“At present, we do not have any shelter home for women in Muzaffarpur.

But there are quite a few hostels for girls. CCTV cameras have been installed at vantage points in all such hostels. The movement of strangers is closely monitored without hampering the privacy of the girls.”

Ghosh added that all vacant posts of guards and wardens in girls’ hostels are being filled up, inspections by administrative officials have been regularised, and social audits commissioned.

AES OUTBREAK

The shelter home scandal had barely been forgotten when Muzaffarpur hit the headlines again with the AES outbreak. Still considered a mystery disease, AES is a group of clinically similar neurologic manifestations caused by several viruses, bacteria, fungus, parasites, spirochetes, chemicals and toxins. The disease most commonly affects children and young adults.

Its prevalence in the region is attributed to people eating a high quantity of litchis empty stomach (the region falls in the litchi belt), and the toxin the fruit releases.

As AES spread like wildfire in the region, claiming lives of children mostly from the economically weaker sections, hundreds of patients from in and around Muzaffarpur came pouring into the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), the only government-run advanced medical facility equipped to treat AES cases.

Despite the outbreak being an annual affair, the hospital struggled to rise to the occasion with its 12-bed pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) shockingly insufficient for the incoming stream of patients.

Left with no option, the hospital made stopgap arrangements, accommodating children in every inch of empty space in the administrative building and the pediatric ward in the face of extremely hot and humid conditions.

The result was that while several lives were saved, many children died due to delay in getting medical attention. Once again, across India, people outraged at the slackness of the state and central government in dealing with the public health emergency.

SKMCH superintendent Sunil Kumar Sahi does not accept the blame. “A comparative study of casualties of last six years reveal that we have actually brought down the percentage of deaths this year,” he said.

“While in 2014, out of the 334 suspected AES patients admitted to our hospital 117 had died, this year against the total 465 admissions only 132 died.” On steps being taken to prevent such crisis in the future, Sahi said the union government has already sanctioned a 100-bed PICU on the campus, which should be ready by April next year. He hoped that it would suffice the requirement during any calamity of such magnitude.

The district magistrate said all public health centres in the district have been equipped to admit and treat AES patients, albeit the scarcity of doctors remains a worry.

“We are appointing ASHA workers, training them and equipping them with necessary kits to diagnose suspected AES cases at their homes and administer first aid before shifting them to nearby hospitals.” He said the plan is on to launch an AES awareness drive in villages from November and intensify it during the three months before the onset of the next summer.

DELUGE OF WOES

The summer led to the monsoon, which brings its own challenges.

This saucer shaped, low-centered city lies on the great Indo-Gangetic plains of Bihar. Every time it rains heavily in Nepal, the rivers flowing through Muzaffarpur get flooded, submerging several blocks and hundreds of villages and rendering lakhs of people homeless. For those affected by this year’s flood, life is still far from back to normal.

At work in the dingy lanes of Islampur’s Chudipatti, Mohammad Meraz Gouri, 25, pointed to the overflowing drains and broken roads that ring his renowned store, Baba Bangles, which has put Muzaffarpur’s bangle market on the fashion maps of Bihar, Nepal and even Bollywood.

Aishwarya Rai Bachhan and Anjali Tendulkar wore bangles sourced from the store at their wedding ceremonies. Islampur is largely a Muslim-dominated locality with most of its people engaged in bangle manufacture and its trading. Glittering bangle shops dot every inch of the congested lanes.

“I have grown up in Chudipatti, but I don’t recall the last time when the drains or roads were repaired. Water keeps overflowing from the drains and invariably spills on to the road, forcing people to wade through ankle-deep sludge. Monsoon only worsens the conditions,” he said while attending to his customers.

A few meters to the north of Islampur is the famous Sutapatti market, a predominantly Hindu locality and north Bihar’s biggest cloth trading center. Name any cloth manufacturer of the country, and a connection can perhaps be traced to Sutapatti.

The business adds up to several crores of rupees every day. Some of its cloth merchants, many of whom are migrants from Rajasthan and Gujarat, have lived in Muzaffarpur for more than 100 years.

Similar civic issues prevail here. The businessmen of Sutapatti market complained about poor garbage disposal, air and noise pollution and mismanaged traffic. But they have made their peace with the city’s problems.

It remains a land of opportunities for them and their future generations.

“It is one of Asia’s biggest textile hubs where clothes manufactured across the country are brought and traded from here across Bihar, north eastern states, parts of Uttar Pradesh and adjoining Nepal,” said North Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, Motilal Chaparia, adding that the annual turnover of Muzaffarpur’s textile market runs into thousands of crores. He refused to give a concrete figure, but he did note that the city’s textile trade gives direct and indirect employment to more than one lakh families and contributes immensely to the local economy.

Thousands of people are camping in makeshifts tents along the national highways, uplands and top of embankments. “We have lost everything in the floods,” said Mukund Yadav, pointing towards a vacant, undulating patch of land next to a breached embankment in Aurai’s Benibad village where his house and farmland existed. The water has receded, but it has left behind a thick deposit of sand and silt.

NOWHERE TO GO

Locals say that Muzaffarpur reels from the aftermath of floods for at least six months. “During this period, the entire village economy remains paralysed.

No crops, no schools and no business activities. Left with no options, scores of families migrate in search of livelihood every year.

Those who raise voices against the government’s failure in rehabilitating its own people find FIRs registered against their names,” District Congress president Bhagwan Das said.

“Water draining away from the upland districts, especially Sitamarhi, Sheohar and East and West Champaran, stagnates in Muzaffarpur, which is a plain area, and keeps spreading for days. Receding too takes a lot of time,” the DM explained.

Some allege that the relief and rehabilitation work is undermined by corruption. “Might sound strange to the uninitiated, but it’s an unconcealed truth that floods bring smiles to the government officials, especially those in the water resources department, as they make huge money from the earthwork that is carried out before and after the floods ever year.

Nobody thinks of a permanent solution to the crisis,” alleged Muzaffarpur’s Youth Congress spokesperson Ved Prakash. The district magistrate stressed that dams can’t be constructed on flat terrains. He said that safeguarding the hamlets by building embankments is the only solution to flash floods that come with high velocity and erosive value.

Water resources minister Sanjay Jha says a permanent solution to the perennial floods in north Bihar can only come from diplomatic talks between Indian and Nepalese governments.

Laxmeshwar Rai, minister of disaster management, also feels the same way. “The issue can be solved only through talks between the two countries,” he told a media gathering recently.

Not all of Muzaffarpur’s problems can apparently be solved in the near future, but for many of those who call it home there is nowhere else to go.

At Sadhana Bakery, Chudipatti’s lone baked-goods shop run by Mohammad Shakeel, 45, who grew up in the area and has seen the city stagnate over the years, said he wouldn’t consider relocating to a better place or a cleaner city.

“After all, my grandfather, parents, siblings, and all their children grew up here,” he said.

Dr Om Prakash Roy, principal of LS College, believes not much has been lost and the city can regain its old glory if the fear of the law returns and the local administration gets a free hand to do its work. “We love our city. Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan, Iske Siwa Jana Kahan [We live here and die here, where else can we go?].”

Class IX boy shot at coaching centre, 13-yr-old stabbed to death

Source: hindustantimes.com

A 13-year-old class IX student of Patna’s reputed St Dominik  High School was shot dead at a coaching centre in Danapur by a fellow student on Thursday evening while a class VII student of a government school in Muzaffarpur was stabbed to deaths by a group of teenagers earlier in the day.

In the first incident in the busy Bibiganj locality under Danapur police station limits, the victim, resident of nearby Nasriganj locality, died on the spot.

As panic-stricken students began fleeing from the classroom, the coaching institute teachers identified the shooter and nabbed him. A 9 mm pistol has been recovered from the school bag of the accused, whose identify has been withheld as he is also a minor. He was handed over to the police, which reached the spot and sent the victim’s body for autopsy.

The Bibiganj locality in Danapur is a hub of coaching institutes. As the news spread, all coaching institutes downed shutters and asked the students to rush back to their homes.

Danapur ASP Ashok Mishra said that a loaded pistol had been recovered from the accused.

In the second incident, four teenagers, brandishing knives and other sharp-edged weapons, barged into a government middle school in Muzaffarpur district  and stabbed to death a 13-year-old student in the presence of teachers and other students before escaping.

The incident occurred in the afternoon at the Bada Jagannath Middle School under Ahiyapur police station

The victim was son of a labourer. 

After the incident, residents of the village went on a rampage, damaging the school property.

Deputy SP (Town) Mukul Kumar Ranjan rushed to the spot after learning about the incident. However, by then, most of the students and teachers had fled to their homes out of fear.

The police, quoting eye-witnesses, said the armed teenagers barged into the school premises and called the victim out of the classroom on the pretext of some work. The moment the victim came out, they kept stabbing him in his abdomen till he collapsed and fell down. “The victim kept crying for help, but nobody came to his rescue,” the DSP said.

The teachers came out only after they realised that the killers had fled, he said. 

Soon, some locals arrived at the scene and rushed the boy to Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital where the doctors declared him brought dead.

Police suspect the student’s murder could be linked to an attempt to rob the victim’s mother on Wednesday. According to the police, a teenager from Ahiyapur had attempted to snatch money bag of the victim’s mother on Wednesday afternoon but was caught by locals, who brutally trashed him. The victim had also kicked the teenager, who could have planned his murder to avenge the assault. The DSP said the attackers had been identified and would be arrested soon.

Student caught with pistol at school 

Authorities of Begusarai’s Rajoura Middle School on Thursday nabbed a class VIII student who had come to school with a country-made pistol and handed him over to police.

Police had summoned the student’s parents and were interrogating them by the time of filing of this report.

Petition filed in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur court against 49 intellectuals who wrote to PM Modi on hate crimes

Source: indiatoday.in

A petition was filed in a Bihar court on Saturday against 49 eminent citizens, who had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on lynching of minorities and hate crimes, seeking slapping of sedition and other charges.

The petition was filed by an advocate before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate under different sections of the Indian Penal Code, relating to sedition, imputations and assertions prejudicial to national-integration and hurting religious feelings.

Petitioner Sudhir Kumar Ojha has also named actress Kangana Ranaut and directors Madhur Bhandarkar and Vivek Agnihotri, who were among 61 high-profile personalities to counter the letter, as “witnesses”.

Ojha alleged that the 49 signatories to the letter had, by their act, “tarnished the image of the country and undermining the impressive performance of the Prime Minister” and also charged them with “supporting secessionist tendencies”.

The matter is likely to come up for hearing on August 3.

On Tuesday, 49 personalities, including filmmakers Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Shyam Benegal and Aparna Sen as well as vocalist Shubha Mudgal and historian Ramchandra Guha, had expressed concern at the number of “religious identity-based hate crimes”.

They also noted that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ has become a provocative war cry with many lynching incidents taking place in its name.

Sixty-one intellectuals, including lyricist Prasoon Joshi and singer Malini Awasthi, responded with a counter statement on Friday against “selective outrage and false narratives”.

“It (the July 23 letter) is aimed at tarnishing India’s international standing and to negatively portray the prime minister’s untiring efforts to effectuate governance on the foundations of positive nationalism and humanism which is the core of Indianness,” the statement read.

SC Refrains from Continuing With Pleas on Encephalitis in Bihar, Says Steps Have Been Taken to Combat Menace

Source: news18.com

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday decided to refrain from hearing any further the petition relating to the outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district saying steps have already been taken to combat the menace.

The apex court took on record the affidavits filed by state government and the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in which the two said that they were cooperating and working together to combat the disease which has claimed more than 100 deaths.

The Bihar government had said that the state, in cooperation with the Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences and other agencies, has simultaneously provided all medical facilities to treat the affected children.

Similarly, the Centre had also said it was proactively providing all support to Bihar in containing the AES.

“Having perused the affidavit of Bihar and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, we are not inclined to continue to entertain these writ petitions any further in view of the steps which are stated to have been taken to combat the menace of the encephalitis disease that has struck the different parts of Bihar.

“If the petitioners have any further grievance, they are free to move the High Court of Patna. The writ petitions are disposed of accordingly. Intervention application(s) and other pending interlocutory applications, if any, shall stand disposed of,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta said.

During the hearing, the bench expressed displeasure that the petitioner has raised other issues like 57 per cent shortage of doctors etc.

“So you want us to exercise our jurisdiction for filling of vacancy of doctors. You go to Patna High Court.,” it said, adding that petitions would be filed relating to shortage of ministers, shortage of MPs in Rajya Sabha and shortage of water etc.

“We are not inclined to entertain,” the bench said.

The apex court on June 24 had taken note of the petition filed by an advocate, Manohar Pratap, who had said he was deeply “pained and saddened” by the deaths of more than 126 children, mostly in the age group of one to 10 years, in the past weeks.

It had asked the Centre and the state government to file their affidavits on the adequacy of medical facilities, nutrition and sanitation and the hygiene conditions in the state.

Litchi industry in Bihar faces huge loss after encephalitis outbreak

Source: hindustantimes.com

Unlike previous years, the summer this year initially brought wide smiles on the faces of farmers in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district as the region witnessed a bumper crop of litchi, the luscious fruit grown abundantly here. The joy, however, was short lived as the crop once again came under the scanner of researchers and medical experts following the death of 204 children and 938 cases in hospitals across the state due to the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).

The deaths dealt a severe blow to the litchi industry which has resulted in huge losses for the farmers and traders involved in the seasonal business that is a major source of revenue for the local economy.

Bihar is the top litchi producing state in India and according to figures provided by the former union agriculture minister to Lok Sabha last year, the state accounts for 300,000 metric tonnes of litchi, which is produced on 32,000 hectare areas. Bihar’s contribution in the production of litchi is about 40 percent

Mohammed Nizamauddin, a prominent litchi farmer and trader from Muzaffarpur, is yet to come to terms to the enormous loss. Nizam, as he is fondly called, has been in the business for more than a decade now. This year he suffered losses to the tune of around Rs 1.5 million.

The loss has put all his plans to visit a tourist destination in a quandary.

“Negative propaganda about the fruit, which has high protein and nutritional value, took a toll on its demand and supply,” lamented Nizam.

Other litchi growers across Muzaffarpur are facing a similar situation due to the negative publicity of the fruit following the AES deaths.

Traders said that the industry has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 100 billion. Last year the litchi traders did a business to the tune of Rs 60 billion and due to bumper crop this year, they had expected the business to rise to Rs 100 billion. Besides, export, supply of the fruit to various processing plants has been adversely hit. The litchi farmers and traders are worried as their crop has been blamed for a disease that still remains a mystery and there is no authentic proof of its connection with AES.

Their concerns found support from BJP MLC Sanjay Paswan, who had raised the matter in Bihar assembly while MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy also raised the matter in Parliament.

“Wrong propaganda that litchi was behind the cause of AES deaths has led to the enormous losses. Nearly 100 tonnes of fruit pulp of Rs 6.5 million market value is still lying unused after the false propaganda that litchi was the culprit behind the AES deaths,” said K P Thakur, one of the leading litchi traders and owner of Litchica International.

Thakur exports litchi juice to USA, Australia, New Zealand besides supplying the same to Mumbai and Delhi. “No orders came this year either from USA, Australia or New Zealand causing a loss of Rs 3 million,” said Thakur, who has an annual turnover of Rs 30 million.

Thakur is not alone. “There are close to one lakh people including producers, businessmen and labourers who are directly or indirectly involved in this litchi business in four major litchi producing areas of Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Samastipur and East Champaran,” said Bachcha Singh, president of Litchi Grower’s Association.

According to a report by the Bihar horticulture department, there are 45,000 litchi-growing farmers in Muzaffarpur alone.

“The AES false propaganda, though it came at later stages, must have caused a loss of more than Rs 1 billion alone in Muzaffarpur,” said Singh.

“Such was the impact that litchi, which usually disappears from the market by mid-june, had no takers till June 25 this year,” added Singh.

The Litchi Grower’s Association president cited that another reason for mounting loss has been the railway’s decision to discontinue the services of parcel van in Pawan Express for Mumbai forcing litchi traders to send their product by trucks. “We used to send 30 tonnes of litchis per day to Mumbai by Pawan Express. But after the railway’s withdrew the service in 2018, the fruit is sent by truck as a result of which, one-fourth of the total litchis get damaged and the fruit also doesn’t remain fresh, resulting in low price,” rued Singh.

Smelling a conspiracy, Thakur said that same litchis did not cause any problem in Uttar Pradesh.

“Litchis have high percentage of phosphorus and when poor kids eat rotten fruit empty stomach, it increases sugar levels and make kids vulnerable to sun stroke,” said Thakur.

Thakur and other traders have found support from BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy and BJP Bihar MLC Sanjay Paswan, who alleged that a campaign was launched against litchi under a conspiracy.

India is the second largest producer of litchi in the World after China. Other major litchi producing countries are Thailand, Australia, South Africa, Madagascar and Florida in US.

Among fruit crops, litchi ranks seventh in area and ninth in production but is sixth in terms of value in India. The national average productivity of litchi is 6.1 t/ha, which is much lower than the realizable yield of the crop under well managed condition.

Moderate to heavy rainfall in past 24 hours in Bihar

Source: newsonair.com

In Bihar, moderate to heavy rainfall occurred in western and eastern parts of the state in past 24 hours. 

Due to incessant rainfall in the catchment area of Nepal originating rivers for the last four days, Gandak, Bagmati and Budhi Gandak and their tributaries are swollen. 

Evacuation drive has been started in West Champaran from low-lying and riverine area of Gandak to shift people to safer places. 

East Champaran and Muzaffarpur. Traffic has been disrupted due to water-logging of Bagmati and Lalbakeya river on Sheohar-Motihari road. 

Extra vigil is being maintained on barrages, embankment and riverine area of Gandak, Budhi Gandak and Bagmati by engineers of water resource department. 

Flood relief & rescue teams have been put on standby by the Disaster Management Department. 

Heavy rains in Maharashtra’s Palghar district have disrupted traffic movement from Mokadha to neighbouring Nashik district. 

According to the Chief of Disaster Management Cell Vivekananda Kadam, a major portion of a bridge on a small river at Morchundi village washed away this morning. While no casualty has been reported, incidents of rainwater gushing inside villagers’ homes have come to light.

100-bed paediatric ICU to be set up in SKMCH, Muzaffarpur within a year: Centre to SC

Source: asianage.com

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday filed a reply in the Supreme Court on the AES outbreak in Bihar, saying that a decision has been taken to set up a 100-bedded paediatric ICU at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur in one year with funds from it.

Five virology labs were set up in different districts of the state and 10-bedded paediatric ICUs will also be established in different districts, it said.

The reply submitted that despite the fact that health is a state subject, the central government had taken all steps for giving necessary help and assistance to the Bihar government to contain the outbreak.

The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) mounted to 140 in Muzaffarpur district on Friday.

As per official data, 119 deaths have been reported at the government-run SKMCH, which is handling the largest number of patients in the district, while 21 deaths have been confirmed at Kejriwal Hospital.

The state has been battling with the vector-borne disease for the past several weeks.

AES is a viral disease that causes flu-like symptoms such as high fever, vomiting and in extreme cases, brain dysfunction, seizure, and inflammation of heart and kidney.

The Supreme Court had on June 24 expressed “serious concern” over the rising number of deaths due to the disease.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the children who died due to AES.

Free meals planned to fight ‘brain fever’ in India’s Bihar state

Source: gulfnews.com

Patna: Alarmed at the large number of deaths in the state due to encephalitis, the Bihar government is working on a plan to start free evening meals for children vulnerable to the deadly virus.

The idea is based on reports by health experts that most of the children who fell victim to the illness had gone to bed on empty stomachs or had suffered from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

According to an official report, the disease has claimed close to 2,000 lives in the past nine years.

“The government is planning to start free evening meals for children on the pattern of the mid-day meal from the next season and also shifting them to temporary shelter homes during the peak summer when such cases register a huge jump,” federal minister of state for home and family welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey told the media on Monday after holding a meeting with the experts.

However, the arrangement for free evening meal will be available only for two months during peak summer. Experts have found that the disease strikes the region once the summer starts and turns deadlier with the picking up of daytime temperatures.

Although some 20 districts are said to be in the grip of this disease, Muzaffarpur has been the worst-hit of all.

According to him, the government would also be making adequate arrangements of glucose, oral rehydration solution (ORS) and medicines.

“After meeting with the health experts, we have ordered the setting up of intensive care units (ICUs) in the affected areas from next year,” the minister said.

Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey on Monday said this year majority of children had died from hypoglycemia, which is one of the symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).

One of the main reasons behind disease outbreak this year was severe heat conditions and humidity. He advised the parents not to allow their children go out in the open sun.

“When the children play under the open sun, it causes dehydration and affects a child’s intake of food and water which leads to hypoglycemia,” the minister said.

In an official statement issued on Monday, the health minister said the disease has been occurring since 1995 after which various studies were conducted by the National Institute of Virology, Pune, National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, Rajendra Memorial Research Institute, Patna and Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta (USA) but no definitive causative agent has been found so far.

According to the minister, till June 28 this year a total of 720 cases of suspected encephalitis were reported of which 566 were cured whereas 154 children died.

Posters in Patna blame Nitish, Pandey for AES deaths

Source: nationalheraldindia.com

Hours ahead of the Monsoon session of the Bihar Assembly on Friday, posters appeared in Patna blaming the NDA government for the death of over 150 children in Muzaffarpur due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and the complete collapse of law and order in the state.

Dozens of posters in Hindi that were pasted on walls along the main roads in the state capital, also demanded resignations of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey on moral grounds for having failed to check the spread of AES.

The posters termed Bihar as “maut ka kuan” (death well) and mocked it leaders lack of concern for the suffering of the people of the state.

“Chief Minister Nitish Kumar found time to visit Muzaffarpur only after 100 children had died, while Mangal Pandey was more interested knowing the score of the India and Pakistan World Cup cricket match at his press conference with Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in Muzaffarpur,” it said.

The posters also expressed growing resentment among the people over the rising lawlessness in the state with daily reports of murder, kidnapping, extortion, loot, robbery and rape.

Ealier similar posters had come up in Muzaffarpur — the epicentre of AES epidemic — asking people to trace “missing” Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav.