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Bihar

Scourge of violence can be overcome with Buddhist philosophy: Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee addressing the closing ceremony of an international conference on “Buddhism in the 21st Century - perspectives and responses to Global Challenges and Crises”, at Rajgir, Nalanda, in Bihar on March 19, 2017.
President Pranab Mukherjee addressing the closing ceremony of an international conference on “Buddhism in the 21st Century - perspectives and responses to Global Challenges and Crises”, at Rajgir, Nalanda, in Bihar on March 19, 2017.
President Pranab Mukherjee today said no part of the world today is free from the scourge of violence and this all pervasive crisis can be overcome with the philosophy of Buddhism.
 
Addressng the closing ceremony of an international conference on “Buddhism in the 21st Century – perspectives and responses to Global Challenges and Crises” here, Mr Mukherjee said the basic question being raised today is how to stop this wanton destruction and come back to sanity. 
 
The philosophy of Buddhism is as relevant today as ever - especially as the world grapples with complex problems that seem intractable, he said.
 
"Buddhism has had a deep influence on human civilization. The mighty Emperor Ashoka who had the ambition of extending his empire as far as he could was converted into a missionary. Dhamma Ashoka is remembered in history rather than warrior Ashoka," he said.
 
The President said Nalanda reflected the country's ancient educational system which attracted mighty minds in the form of students and teachers.  Education means the development of mind and requires an atmosphere which is conducive to free exchange of ideas, he said.
 
The President said that, as they return to their respective areas of activity and influence, the delegates should redouble their efforts to promote the simple truths and the path of the Buddha that show people can be better citizens and contribute to making the country a better place to live in.
 
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He expressed happiness that the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara has published the entire Pali Tripitaka (texts or words of the Buddha) in 41 volumes in the Devanagari script. He congratulated the University for this achievement and for opening the first ever Department of Buddhist Sciences in the world.
 
Mr Mukherjee said he would encourage the texts to be further dispersed – like seeds by migrating birds – far beyond the institutions of Buddhist studies and the region – to Universities in all parts of the world – regardless of their academic specialization.
 
"These initiatives will go a long way in popularizing the tenets of Buddhism. They will help the coming generations to easily connect with the supreme ideals of humanity, forbearance, discipline and compassion. Once these values are adopted by more and more scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and leaders in letter and spirit, he said he had no doubt that they will work to gear up to address the scepticism and cynicism that ails modern societies," he added.
 
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Projects worth Rs. 1050 crore to arrest sewage pollution in Ganga from Patna

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In a major step to develop adequate sewage treatment infrastructure in Patna to keep the Ganga clean, projects worth Rs. 1,050 crore have been awarded under the Namami Gange programme.
 
An official press release said here yesterday that the amount would be spent on setting up two sewage treatment plants (STPs), renovation of one existing STP , construction of two pumping stations and laying of new underground sewage network of about 400 km.
 
Contracts to build STP of 60 MLD capacity and laying of new underground sewage network of 227 km in Saidpur zone of the city have been awarded to UEM India Pvt. Ltd and Jyoti Build Tech Pvt. Ltd at a total cost of Rs. 600 crore, it said.
 
Three other firms – Larsen & Toubro Ltd, Voltas Ltd and GAA Germany JV have been awarded separate projects in Beur zone of the city worth over Rs. 450 crore to build one STP of 23 MLD, renovate existing STP of 20 MLD and lay down new underground sewage network of about 180 km. The scope of work also includes creation of main pumping stations of 83 MLD and 50 MLD capacity in Saidpur and Beur zones, respectively.
 
The contracts include the cost of operation and maintenance of STPs and sewage networks for a period of 10 years.
 
The release said the projects aimed not only to treat the current sewage generation in respective zones of Patna but also take into account the sewage estimates of next one decade, considering the expected rise of population in the city. As per a survey by the World Bank, Patna is also one of the fastest growing city in the world in terms of infrastructural development.
 
After time-bound commissioning of these projects, no untreated water will go into the Ganga from these zones, saving the river from contamination and deterioration, it said.
 
The progress of the construction will be monitored by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) to ensure that deadlines are met, the release said.
 
Patna city, spread in an area of more than 100 square kilometers, is divided into six sewerage zones – Digha, Beur, Saidpur, Kankarbagh, Pahari and Karmali Chak. Contracts for sewage related projects in Karmali Chak zone are expected to be awarded shortly, he added.
 
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Cabinet approves transfer of 11.35 acres of land to AAI for expansion of Patna Airport

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The Union Cabinet today approved the transfer 11.35 acres of land at Patna airport to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by way of exchanging equivalent land of AAI at Anisabad.
 
The proposed land at Patna Airport will be used for expansion of the airport and construction of new terminal building along with other associated infrastructure, an official press release said. The Bihar Government has also agreed in principle for transfer of the land.
 
The new terminal building will have a capacity of 3 million passengers per annum. The existing terminal building at Patna Airport was built for a capacity of 0.5 million passengers per annum, against which 1.5 million passengers per annum are already using it, leading to  extreme crowding in the terminal building, the release added.
 
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Cabinet approves transfer of AAI land at Patna Airport

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The Union Cabinet today approved the transfer 11.35 acres of land at Patna airport to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by way of exchanging equivalent land of AAI at Anisabad.
 
The proposed land at Patna Airport will be used for expansion of the airport and construction of new terminal building along with other associated infrastructure, an official press release said. The Bihar Government has also agreed in principle for transfer of the land.
 
The new terminal building will have a capacity of 3 million passengers per annum. The existing terminal building at Patna Airport was built for a capacity of 0.5 million passengers per annum, against which 1.5 million passengers per annum are already using it, leading to  extreme crowding in the terminal building, the release added.
 
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24 dead as boat capsizes in Ganga at Patna in Bihar

As many as 24 people, including five children, died after a boat carrying them capsized in the river Ganga at Patna in Bihar on Saturday evening.
 
24 dead as boat capsizes in Ganga at Patna
As many as 24 people, including five children, died after a boat carrying them capsized in the river Ganga at Patna in Bihar yesterday evening.
 
Patna District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agarwal told NetIndian that the victims included 16 men, three women and five children.
 
He said about eight people had swum to safety and a similar number had been rescued by people who jumped into the river to save them.
 
Mr. Agarwal said the boat was carrying about 40 people and none of them are now reported missing. However, search and rescue teams were continuing their operations for some more time to ensure that all the passengers of the boat are accounted for, he said.
 
He said that two of the eight persons admitted to a local hospital had been discharged, while the other six were undergoing treatment and in a stable condition.
 
The search and rescue efforts had continued through the night last night, sources said.
 
The victims were among a large crowd that had gathered at the Ganga Diara here to witness a  kite festival held every year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. The boat, which had taken people for a free ride on the river, capsized around 6 pm, perhaps, due to overcrowding, the sources said.
 
Video footage shot by onlookers on the river banks showed rescuers making frantic efforts to save the people.
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked the District Magistrate to look into the lapses that led to the tragedy.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives in the incident and conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families.
 
He also approved an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 2 lakh for the next-of-kin of those killed and Rs. 50,000 for the seriously injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund, an official press release in Delhi added.
 
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Modi expresses grief over loss of lives in Bihar bus accident

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief over the loss of lives in Bihar today after a bus veered off the road and fell into a deep roadside pond in Madhubani district.
 
“Deeply saddened by the bus accident in Bihar’s Madhubani district. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief,” he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
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16 dead as bus plunges into pond in Madhubani district of Bihar

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At least 16 people died when a private bus they were travelling in veered off the road and fell into a deep roadside pond, Sundar Kund, in Madhubani district of Bihar today, official sources said.
 
District officials at the scene of the mishap told NetIndian over the telephone that about 12 passengers of the ill-fated bus had been rescued.
 
Search and rescue teams were searching the pond, said to be about 25 feet deep, to see if there were any more victims.
 
The officials said they had no exact figures for the number of passengers in the bus, which was completely submerged under water.
 
By late this evening, the search teams, including personnel of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), had managed to pull the bus out of the water and extricate several bodies from it.
 
The bus was on its way to Sitamarhi from Madhubani, 180 kms northeast of Patna, when the mishap occurred around 12.30 pm near Basaitha chowk in Benipatti police station area of the district.
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives in the accident and urged district officials to speed up the rescue and relief efforts.
 
He asked Revenue Minister Madan Mohan Jha and Panchayati Raj Minister Kapil Dev Kamat to rush to the scene of the tragedy.
 
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Universities must be bastions of free speech, expression: Mukherjee

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Universities must be the bastions of free speech and expression where there should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred, President Pranab Mukherjee said today.
 
Addressing the first convocation of Nalanda University after laying the foundations stone of its new campus here, he said universities must be the arena where diverse and conflicting schools of thought contend.
 
"There should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred within the spaces of this institution. Further, it must act as a flag bearer for the coexistence of multiple views, thoughts and philosophies.
 
"The lesson for modern Nalanda is to ensure that this great tradition finds new life and vigour within its precincts," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said the ancient Nalanda was a melting pot of civilizations and modern India should remain the same. 
 
“We should not close our windows and yet we should not be blown off by winds from outside. We should let the winds flow freely from all over the world and get enriched by them. We should embrace free discussion and debate leaving behind narrow mindsets and thoughts,” he added.
  
Mr Mukherjee said as Visitor to Nalanda University, it was his hope that it would truly attain the status of the Nalanda of yore. There are many practices of ancient Nalanda which are worthy of emulation by the new Nalanda. One of the most important characteristics of ancient Nalanda was that it was an international institution where inter-Asian connections, in particular, flourished, he said.
 
Chinese monks like Xuan Zang, Yijing and Huichao, among others, visited, lived, studied and taught in Nalanda. At a later period, scholars from Tibet kept coming to N?land? for studying Buddhism and other branches of knowledge, he said.
 
Monks from several other countries including Sri Lanka also came to N?landa, revealing the diversity of religious and cultural influences on the institution. And, the traffic was not just in one direction. Monks from N?land? spread their wisdom across the world and had reached China before Xuan Zang’s visit to India.
 
The President said ancient Nalanda was known for the high level of debate and discussion it nurtured. It was not a mere geographical expression but it reflected an idea and a culture.
 
Nalanda conveyed the message of friendship, cooperation, debate, discussion and argument. Discussion and debate are part of our ethos and life, he said.
 
Mr Mukherjee said though the main subjects of study were the Buddhist texts, importance was also given to critiques of Buddhism by various schools, study of Vedas and beyond.
 
“I am pleased to know that the Nalanda University has around 125 students including about 25 foreign students from countries such as China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Brazil,” he said.
 
“With students and faculty from many countries, modern day Nalanda is a novel institution pioneering a new model of learning. Its vision is to “be universalist in its outlook, open to currents of thought and practice from around the globe, and respond to the needs of a world.” It is a matter of satisfaction that within a short period of time, Nalanda has established linkages of various kinds with many leading educational institutions around the world,” he added.
 
The President said he personally witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Nalanda University and Peking University during his visit to China in May this year.
 
The new Nalanda University is envisioned as a non-state, non-profit, secular, and self-governing international institution. “Our goal is to bring together the brightest and the most dedicated students from all over the world, especially Asia - irrespective of gender, caste, creed, different abilities, ethnicity or social-economic background and enable them acquire a liberal education,” he added.
 
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“I am particularly happy to see the first batch of students from this University graduate today. I have often spoken of the time when India played a dominant role in the higher education system of the world. Renowned seats of learning like Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri were magnets which attracted scholars from all over the world. They stood at the crossroads of many civilizations and spread knowledge far and wide. Sadly, India’s modern day universities are yet to reach the top position in world rankings. We must work towards regaining that glory of the past,” he added.
 
The President said, as a result of his persistent efforts, Indian institutions for the first time secured ranks within the top 200 universities in the world in the QS world university rakings 2015. IISc, Bangalore at 147th and IIT, Delhi at 179th position have done exceedingly well, with IIT, Bombay close on the heels at the 202nd rank.
 
Three other IITs were within the top 300 institutions and they can come within the top 200 in the next one or two years. In the QS university rankings 2015 for the BRICS region, five Indian institutions came in the top 20, including IISc, Bangalore which was ranked fifth.
 
In the list of top 20 small universities (criteria: less than 5,000 students) by the Times Higher Education, there were two Indian institutions – IIT, Guwahati at 14th and Savitribai Phule, Pune University at the 18th position. Recently, in a ranking amongst Asian institutions, five Indian institutions are placed in the top fifty, he added.
 
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Mukherjee to visit Bihar, Karnataka from August 26-28

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President Pranab Mukherjee will visit Bihar and Karnataka from August 26-28, an official press release said here today.
 
On August 27, the President will address the first convocation of Nalanda University and lay the foundation stone of its campus at Rajgir, Nalanda, Bihar. 
 
He will also attend a function to commemorate the serving of two billion meals of the Akshaya Patra Foundation in Bangalore, Karnataka on the same day. 
 
On August 28, the President will address the 24th annual convocation of National Law School of India University, Bangalore before returning to New Delhi. 
 
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Former Bihar, West Bengal and Haryana Governor A R Kidwai passes away

A R Kidwai
A R Kidwai
Dr. Akhlaq Ur Rahman Kidwai, a distinguished scientist and educationist who also served as the Governor of Bihar, West Bengal and Haryana, passed away at a private hospital here today after a brief illness.
 
He was 96. He is survived by two sons and four daughters. His wife Jamila Kidwai had predeceased him. His funeral will be held tomorrow, sources said.
 
According to them, he was admitted to the Escorts Hospital here about ten days ago after complaining of breathing difficulties.
 
Dr. Kidwai served as Governor of Bihar from 1979 to 1985 and again from 1993 to 1998. He also served as Governor of West Bengal from 1998 to 1999 and Haryana from 2004 to 2009.
 
In between, he also held charge for some time as Governor of Punjab and of Rajasthan and Administrator of Delhi. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 2000 to 2004.
 
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Born on July 1, 1920 in Baragaon village of Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh, took a BA degree from Jamia Milia Islamia University here and went on to complete M. Sc. at the University of Illinois in the United States and Ph. D. from Cornell University, also in the US.
 
He worked as Professor and Head of the Department of Chemistry and the Dean of the Faculty of Science at the Aligarh Muslim University. He also served as Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) from 1974-77. He was Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University from 1983 to 1992.
 
Dr. Kidwai was associated with several bodies, incuding the National Committee on Science and Technology, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Central Advisory Board of Education and the Central Council of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
 
The Government honoured him with the Padma Vibhushan, the country's second highest civilian award, in 2011.
 
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Earthquake of magnitude 6.7 jolts Myanmar, tremors felt in eastern, NE India

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An earthquake of magnitude 6.7 jolted Myanmar this afternoon and the tremors were felt in several parts of eastern and north-eastern India.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 21.0 N and longitude 94.4 E, near Chauk town on the Irrawaddy river, occurred at 1604 hours IST at a focal depth of 58 km.
 
Reports reaching here said the tremors were felt in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal, Patna in Bihar, Guwahati in Assam and Tripura, among other places. They were also felt in Bangladesh and Thailand.
 
Residents of the affected areas ran out of their homes and offices as a precautionary measure.
 
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Fruitful exchanges on international, regional issues at BRICS Policy Planning Dialogue

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The BRICS Policy Planning Dialogue successfully concluded here today with "fruitful exchanges" on strategic assessments of international situation and the regional situation of each country and trends, going beyond immediate issues of customary diplomacy.
 
The delegations also discussed the role of BRICS in international governance, ongoing cooperation at BRICS Forum and reflected on areas of convergence among the member countries.
 
BRICS brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. India has assumed the Presidency of BRICS in February this year. 
 
The two-day dialogue gave an opportunity for sharing of best practices in foreign policy planning and assessment between the BRICS countries, an official press release said.
 
The quality and scope of discussions affirmed the significance of the voice of BRICS given that it is a grouping that brings together five major world economies that are home to 43% of the world population, it added.
 
The release said the discussions would contribute towards India’s objective as Chair of BRICS for 2016 to further consolidate Intra-BRICS cooperation by adopting a five-pronged approach – institution building to further deepen and sustain BRICS cooperation; implementation of the decisions of previous Summits including the Prime Minister’s announcements at the Fortaleza and Ufa Summits; integrating synergies among the existing cooperation mechanisms; innovation, that is, new cooperation mechanisms and continuation of mutually agreed existing BRICS cooperation mechanisms.
 
During their stay in Patna, the heads of delegations called on Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Some delegations also took the opportunity to visit historic places of interest in the vicinity of Patna such as Nalanda and Rajgir.
 
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Nalanda Mahavihara gets inscribed in World Heritage List

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The excavated remains at Nalanda of the great monastic-cum-scholastic establishment has got inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
 
Located around 88 km from Patna, the capital of Bihar, the site presents a key archaeological evidence of a truly international centre for organised learning.
 
Nalanda Mahavihara was founded by Kumargupta I of the Gupta dynasty in 5th century CE. It was patronized by various rulers including King Harshavardhana of Kannauj (7th century CE) and the Pala rulers (8th – 12th century CE) as well as various scholars.
 
Later, a number of factors spread over centuries caused the decline of this famed institution. The same region later saw emergence of a number of reputed educational institutions like Vikramshila and Odantpuri but the eminence of Nalanda remains unrivalled.
 
About six centuries after Nalanda’s decline, the site was first discovered and reported by Sir Francis Buchanan. The site was systematically excavated and consolidated by Archaeological Survey of India from 1915 to 1937 and again from 1974 to 1982.
 
Nalanda is a rare combination of outstanding achievements in institution-building, site-planning, art and architecture. It symbolized the multiplicity of knowledge production, the innovative processes of the organized transmission of ideas through education and a shared heritage of people living in multiple regions of Asia.
 
Nalanda distinguished itself as the earliest planned university of the Indian sub-continent. Thematic and iconographic assimilation of features from major art centres of the sub-continent with local practices is evident in art of Nalanda. While Nalanda stucco influenced practices in Thailand, its metal art influenced art of the Malayan archipelago, Nepal, Myanmar and Tibet travelling out through scholars.
 
Nalanda attracted scholars from the Indian sub-continent and beyond and received patronage of local rulers and foreign kings for an unbroken period of 800 years.
 
Students were admitted after rigorous evaluation only. Apart from teaching of topics related to Buddhism, contemporary texts and philosophies, logic, grammar, science, and medicine were also part of the knowledge imparted at Nalanda. Earning the title of ‘Medieval School of Discussion and Logic’, Nalanda`s scholars mastered the art and science of debate developing it into a critical tool for higher learning.
 
Today, the continuity of its systems is also evident in contemporary monasteries in Sri Lanka, Tibet and Nepal. In fact, the term Nalanda has become synonymous with aspired standard of education as evidenced in several 21st century namesake institutions all over the world.
 
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All surviving remains of Nalanda Mahavihara in the proposed property area demonstrate amply the attributes of the property such as its planning and layout, its architectural manifestation and extant building materials and applied ornamental embellishments.
 
Preserved in-situ is structural remains of viharas (residential-cum-scholastic structure) and chaityas (temple-like structure) whose layers of construction show evolution of the respective forms.
 
The positioning of these structures over the length of the site shows the planned layout unique to Nalanda. The viharas retain infrastructure for residential-cum-scholastic functions.
 
The quincuxial or five-fold plan-form characteristic of a Nalanda chaitya is evident in the temple within the property. The site also retains a corpus of moveable and immoveable artefacts and artistic embellishment that shows iconographic development reflecting changes in Buddhist belief system. While stucco and engraved art are conserved in-situ, metal and stone objects are exhibited today at the adjoining Site Museum.
 
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CCEA okays rehabilitation of Mahatma Gandhi Setu on Ganga at Patna

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved a project for the rehabilitation of the four-lane 5.575 km Mahatma Gandhi Setu on national highway (NH)-19 on the Ganga at Patna in Bihar. 
 
An official press release said the bridge would be constructed after dismantling the damaged pre-stressed cantilever arms superstructure and subsequent re-decking by steel truss.
 
The project will be implemented in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode. The cost is estimated to be Rs.1742.01 crore, it said.
 
The bridge was constructed in the 1980s by the Government of Bihar. The distressed bridge is very important link between North Bihar and South Bihar and is a route for several economic as well as socio-political activities. Business with Nepal and Bhutan also flow through this connection. 
 
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has made efforts to rehabilitate this bridge in the last 15 years but they were not successful. After a lot of studies through national and foreign experts, it has now been decided that the only remedy left is to dismantle the existing superstructure followed by subsequent re-decking by steel truss, the release added.
 
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Lightning claims 56 lives in Bihar, 24 suffer injuries

 
Lightning claims 56 lives in Bihar
At least 56 people died and 24 others suffered injuries when lightning struck several parts of Bihar during heavy rains in the state late last night, official sources said here today.
 
While six peope were killed in Patna, five died in Buxar and four each in  Aurangabad, Rohtas, Bhojpur and Nalanda districts, the sources told NetIndian. 
 
In all, deaths were reported from as many as 19 districts, including Gaya, Bhagalpur, Saran, Kaimur, Saharsa, Katihar, Samastipur, Monghyr, Madhepura and West Champaran.
 
Officials said the casualties could be higher with reports from some remote areas yet to come in. The victims included women and children.
 
Mr. Vyas Ji, Principal Secretary, Disaster Management in the Bihar Government, told newsmen that the state administration had received reports by late yesterday that several people had been killed due to lightning.
 
He urged people to avoid staying out in the open and remain indoors to minimise the risks.
 
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 4 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed in the incidents.
 
Lightning strikes are common during the monsoon in Bihar. The south-west monsoon advanced into the state earlier this week and yesterday's rains were among the first downpours of this season.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condoled the loss of lives due to lightning in Bihar as well as parts of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and other places over the last few days.
 
"Deeply anguished by loss of lives due to lightning in parts of UP, Bihar, Jharkhand & other parts of the nation over the last few days.
 
"My thoughts & prayers are with those who lost their near & dear ones due to the lightning. May the injured recover quickly," he said on microblogging site Twitter.
 
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BHEL commissions 195 MW thermal power unit in Bihar

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned another 195 MW thermal unit in Bihar.
 
This is the second 195 MW unit to be commissioned by BHEL at the 2x195 MW Muzaffarpur Thermal Power Station (TPS) Stage-II of Kanti Bijlee Utpadan Nigam Limited (KBUNL), a joint venture of NTPC Ltd. and BSPGCL, in Bihar. The first unit was commissioned in March, 2015, a press release from the company said.
 
BHEL’s scope of work in the project envisaged design, engineering, manufacture, supply, erection and commissioning of steam turbines, generators and boilers, along with associated auxiliaries and electricals, besides state-of-the-art controls & Instrumentation (C&I) and electrostatic precipitators (ESPs).
 
Earlier, in the 1980s, BHEL had executed two units of 110 MW each at this project, which are still operational. 
 
"The successful commissioning of these units has reinforced BHEL’s proven capabilities in execution of thermal power projects involving supply of state-of-the-art equipment, suited to Indian coal and Indian conditions," the release added.
 
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Cabinet nod for financial restructuring of Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation Limited

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for the financial restructuring of Hindustan Fertilizers Corporation Limited (HFCL). 
 
An official press release said the Cabinet, amongst other things, approved waiver of the Government of India (GoI) loan of Rs. 1916.14 crore (as on 31.03.2015) and the outstanding interest on GoI loan as on date (the interest amount was Rs. 7163.35 crores as on 31.3.2015). 
 
The Cabinet also approved transfer of 56 acres of Ash Dyke land of Barauni unit to Bihar State Power Generation Company Limited (BSPGCL) to settle dues of HFCL for faster revival of Barauni Unit, it said.
 
The release said the decision would facilitate de-registration of HFCL from BIFR by making its net worth positive. It will clear the way for faster revival of Barauni unit of HFCL, which is lying defunct and was not in operation since January 1999. Its associated facilities are also lying unutilized. 
 
The release pointed out that there is no functional urea unit in the Eastern part of the country except two small units at Namrup in Assam.
 
The annual consumption of urea in the country is approximately 320 LMT, out of which 245 LMT is produced indigenously and rest is imported. 
 
"The setting up of a new unit at Barauni will meet the growing demand of urea of Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand. It will also ease the pressure on railway and road infrastructure due to long distance transportation of urea from Western and Central Regions and thereby saving in govt. subsidy on freight. This unit will create opportunities for 400 direct and 1200 indirect employments. 
 
"Barauni unit will also serve as anchor unit to Jagdishpur- Haldia gas pipeline being laid by Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), which is critical for development and growth of economy and infrastructure in eastern India," the release added.
 
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OMCs to absorb six crore litres of ethanol from Bihar in wake of liquor ban

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The state-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) have told the Central Government that they would strive to absorb the entire quantityof about six crore litres of ethanol that may be produced in Bihar through the molasses route.
 
The Bihar government, which recently announced a new excise policy under which there is a total ban on liquor in the state, had written to the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG)requesting it to explore whether the OMCs would be able to lift the entire ethanol produced by distilleries in the state.
 
An official press release said here today that the Centre was keen to undertake developmental works, more specifically for the agriculture sector, in the State of Bihar. 
 
The release said the proposal had been considered by the Ministry in consultation with OMCs. It said the OMCs would strive to absorb the six crore litres of ethanol likely to be available for ethanol-blended petrol (EBP) to help Bihar.
 
This initiative is likely to give approximately Rs. 300 crore to the farmers of Bihar through sugar mills and distilleries and also ensure proper utilizatio of molasses.
 
"This Government is committed to promote alternate renewable source of energy such as bio-ethanol and bio-diesel which would reduce our dependency on import of crude oil, address growing environment issues and provide better remuneration to the farmers. As a step in this direction, Government of India is running Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme in 21 states and 4 UTs with immediate target to achieve 10% ethanol blending in petrol. In order to support the domestic industry, Government has also decided to source ethanol from domestic sources only," the release said.
 
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In the past, ethanol supplies were enough to meet only 30% of the blending requirement. During the sugar year 2013-14, only 38 crore litres of ethanol could be supplied for EBP programme. In order to give a stimulus to this programme, Government in December 2014 enhanced the ethanol procurement price and opened alternate route including lignocelluloses route for ethanol production. OMCs also eased the procurement process for the benefit of suppliers. 
 
The release said these steps had helped in doubling the ethanol supplies during the Sugar Year 2014-15 wherein 67.42 crore litres had been supplied for blending in petrol. This year, OMCs have floated tender for 266 crore litres of ethanol procurement to meet 10% blending target. There is considerable improvement in the response from the sugar Industry which has offered more than 135 crore litres for the current sugar year. 
 
Other plans by the Ministry specifically for Bihar include capacity expansion of IOCL Barauni Refinery from 6 MMTPA to 9 MMTPA, upgradation of the refinery to produce BS-VI quality products, integration of the refinery to produce other value-added options and specialty products and establishment of a petrochemical complex at Begusarai, the release added.
 
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High-level Central team reviews the PDS in Bihar

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A high-level Central team today urged the Bihar Government to ensure timely lifting of foodgrains from Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns so that they can reach fair price shops (FPS) in the beginning of the month.
 
All the States have also been asked to upload the data of all beneficiaries of National Food Security Act (NFSA) on State PDS portal, an official press release said.
 
A high-level Central team, deputed by Union Minister for Consumer, Food & Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan visited the Bihar capital to review the public distribution system (PDS) after the death of Jago Manjhi reportedly due to starvation.
 
After day-long discussions with senior officials of the State Government, the team led by Joint Secretary Deepak Kumar in the Department of Food, found that there was delay in lifting of foodgrains by the state in some districts which was the main reason for not getting ration allocations by the beneficiaries on time, the release said.
 
It was also observed by the team that the State had not uploaded the data of NFSA beneficiaries on the portal till now, which is one of the mandatory requirement for the allocation of highly subsidized foodgrains. It was depriving a number of beneficiaries from the allocation of wheat at Rs. 2 per kg and rice at Rs. 3 per kg.
 
During the visit, the Central was informed that problem of lifting of foodgrains was being faced only in districts of Patna, Araria, Bhojpur, Bhagalpur and Saharsa. On receiving complaints of irregularities in these districts, raids were conducted in godowns and licenses were suspended of some private transporters. Now, State Government was arranging transport of foodgrains through State Civil Supplies Corporation. 
 
Because of non-availability of FCI godowns in some districts, foodgrains were being lifted from neighbouring districts leading to delay in delivery. The Centre asked the FCI and state government agencies to find out ways to avoid this delay. 
 
During the discussion, computerization of targeted PDS was also reviewed. The State has digitized the data of NFSA beneficiaries but it has not been uploaded on States PDS portal. The committee was informed that a campaign, being conducted in each village and town to collect Aadhar number and other details of beneficiaries,  will be completed in three months. 
 
In order to check leakage in PDS, states should install ‘Point of Sale Device’ at FPS for biometric identification of beneficiaries at the earliest. State Food Secretary said that such devices were being installed at 56 FPS of Noor block of Nalanda district under system integrator model. 
 
Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) will also be introduced as pilot project next month in one of the blocks of Purnia district, he added.
 
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BHEL commissions 250 MW thermal plant in Bihar

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) tday said it had successfully commissioning a 250 MW coal-based thermal power plant (TPP) in Bihar.
 
A press release from the company said the 250 MW unit had been commissioned at the upcoming, greenfield 1,000 MW Nabinagar Thermal Power Project (4x250 MW), being set up by Bhartiya Rail Bijlee Company Limited (BRBCL), a joint venture of NTPC Limited and the Indian Railways.
 
This is the first 250 MW unit to be commissioned at Nabinagar TPP, located at Nabinagar in Aurangabad district of Bihar. Execution of the other three units is also in progress, the release said.
 
BHEL has a long-standing partnership with NTPC and has supplied over 30,000 MW of the coal-based power plants of NTPC and its JVs that account for around 80% of NTPC’s coal-based installed capacity, the release added.
 
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World Bank to provide assistance of $ 250 million for Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project

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India and the World Bank signed the financing agreement for International Development Association (IDA) assistance of $ 250 million for the Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project here today.
 
The financing agreement was signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of Government of India and Mr. Onno Ruhl, Country Director in India, on behalf of the World Bank. 
 
The project agreement was signed by Mr. Shishir Sinha, Development Commissioner, on behalf of Government of Bihar. 
 
An official press release said the objective of the project is to enhance resilience to floods and increase agricultural production and productivity in the targeted districts in the Kosi River Basin, and to enhance Bihar’s capacity to respond promptly and effectively to an eligible crisis or emergency. 
 
The primary beneficiaries will be rural producers and households in the Kosi River Basin who are regularly exposed to floods. They includes farmers who lost their agricultural lands due to the silt deposits brought by the 2008 Kosi river flood as well as farmers in the project area that are currently without access to irrigation and other technologies, improved agricultural practices and an adequate transport network. 
 
The project has five components: Improving Flood Risk Management; Enhancing Agricultural Productivity and Competitiveness; Augmenting Connectivity; Contingent Emergency Response; and Implementation Support. 
 
It is a loan for an implementation period of 5 years. Government of Bihar is the implementing agency, the release added.
 
IDA is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries. Established in 1960, it aims to reduce poverty by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for programs that boost economic growth, reduce inequalities, and improve people’s living conditions.
 
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CCEA okays six-laning of Aurangabad-Bihar/Jharkhand Border-BarwaAdda section of NH-2

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today gave its approval for the development of the six-laning of the Aurangabad-Bihar/Jharkhand Border-BarwaAdda section of National Highway-2 in Bihar and Jharkand.
 
An official press release said the work would be taken up under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase-V. 
 
The approval is in BOT (Toll) mode on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (BOT/DBFOT) basis, it said.
 
The cost of the project is estimated to be Rs. 4918.48 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road will be approximately 222 kms.
 
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L&T JV wins Rs 3115 crore new Ganga bridge project in Bihar

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its Heavy Civil Infrastructure Business of L&T Construction, along with its joint venture (JV) partner, Daewoo E&C of South Korea, had won a major order worth Rs. 3,115 crore from the Bihar State Road Development Corporation Limited (BSRDCL).
 
A press release from the company said the contract was for th  design and construction of a greenfield six-lane extra-dosed cable bridge over river Ganga near Kachchi Dargah in the district of Patna on National Highway (NH)-30, near Bidupur in the District of 
Vaishali on NH-103 (Bihar). 
 
The prestigious engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract involves construction of a 22- km road alignment including a 9.76 km long extra-dosed bridge spanning the Ganga. The project also includes viaducts, road overbridges (ROBs), major bridges and road works. 
 
"After completion, this will be the country’s longest extra-dosed bridge. The project is scheduled to be completed in four years," the release said.
 
“This is a significant win in the heavy civil infrastructure space and we hope that this is a sign for many such projects involving vital infrastructure that are in the offing to materialize,” said Mr. S.N. Subrahmanyan, Deputy Managing Director & President, L&T. 
 
“This mandate is truly representative of our expertise in building bridges as we are already building some major bridges in India: one across the Narmada, one in Goa, another near Delhi. With the support of our JV partners, we are confident of delivering as per the requirements of our clients,” he added.
 
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Bye-election to Bihar Legislative Council to be held on February 11

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The Election Commission today said it would hold a bye-election on February 11 to fill a casual vacancy in the Bihar Legislative Council caused by the resignation of a sitting member, Bhim Singh, elected by the members of Legislative Assembly.
 
Mr. Singh, whose term would have continued till May 6, 2018 in the normal course, had retired on October 23, an official press release said.
 
The notification for the bye-election will be issued on January 25, and the last date of making nominations is February 1.
 
Counting of votes will be taken up at 5 pm on February 11, an hour after polling ends at 4 pm that day, the release added.
 
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Seven coaches of Amrapali Express derail in Bihar, no casualties

 
Seven coaches of Amrapali Express derail near Khagaria
 
Seven coaches of the 15707 Katihar-Amritsar Amrapali Express derailed near Khagaria in Bihar in the early hours of today but none of the passengers was injured, officials said.
 
The mishap occurred around 1.15 am when the train had just left from a stop at Pasraha station in Sonepur division of East Central Railway (ECR) and was still moving at slow speed in the outer yard.
 
ECR spokesperson Arvind Kumar Rajak told NetIndian that the derailed coaches included five second class sleeper coaches, one AC 3-Tier coach and one AC 2-Tier coach.
 
He said all the passengers of the train, including those travelling by the affected coaches, were first taken to Barauni in the remaining coaches. At Barauni, all 1360 passengers of the train were accommodated in a new rake and sent on their onward journey this morning.
 
Mr. Rajak said that two accident relief trains were rushed to the scene and had managed to re-rail al the derailed coaches. Normal traffic was expected to be restored by early this afternoon, he said.
 
District administration and police officials as well as emergency personnel also rushed to the spot immediately.
 
Some trains were delayed and others diverted as a result of the accident.
 
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