Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sugarcane fields burn in Bihar

Sugarcane production over one acre is estimated to cost at least Rs 10,000

Even as Bihar government claims and promises, farmers have been burning sugarcane for several months to protest the state’s failure to revive the sugar mills.

The protest that took place in Marhaura, in Chapra district, where one of the first sugar mills of the country came up. There was once a chocolate factory too.

Chapra parliamentary constituency, under which Marhaura falls, is represented by the Railway minister Lalu Prasad in the Lok Sabha yet the farmers anger is directed towards the BJP spokesman and former Union minister, Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

At the onset of the current session of the Bihar Assembly, three RJD MLAs barged into Assembly premises in sugarcane-loaded bullock carts. The farmers have decided to lodge a case against Rudi and the management of JHV Distillery and invade the Bihar capital with more sugarcane-loaded bullock carts.

Sugarcane production over one acre is estimated to cost at least Rs 10,000. Thus one can only estimate the loss the farmers suffered because of the false assurance, as per media reports. The Board of Industrial Finance and Restructuring settled the assets and liability of the closed factory to JHV Distillery in 2006.

The reports note that this is not the first case of the burning of sugarcane in Bihar. Earlier, farmers of East and West Champaran districts too burnt their crops and even tried to smuggle cart and truck-load of sugarcane to Nepal.

Farmers train guns on Rudi, Jaiswal

Patna, March 24: It’s a “sugary”, but not so sweet, fire that burns in fields around Marhowrah sugar factory in Chapra.

Hundreds of farmers in the area have been burning sugarcane to protest an NDA dispensation that promised to revive the factory by 2007. Marhowrah is one of the first sugar mills in the country.

Marhowrah falls in the constituency that railway minister Lalu Prasad represents in the Lok Sabha. But farmers’ ire is directed more towards who they see as the “real sinners” — the high-profile BJP spokesman and former Union minister for civil aviation Rajiv Pratap Rudi and chairman of the UP-based JHV Distillery and Sugar Ltd, Jawahar Jaiswal.

Rudi and Jaiswal working in collaboration with each other asked the farmers to grow sugarcane over an area of 65,000 acres while promising to revive the factory by the end of 2007. They promised to buy the crops at the rate of Rs 98 to Rs 110 per quintal.

They also roped in state sugarcane minister Nitish Mishra to join them at a revival function supporting their venture at the outset of 2007.

However, with the crops ready and no buyers in sight — the farmers are now desperate.

They recently barged into the Assembly premises in sugarcane-loaded bullock carts under the leadership of local MLA Lalbabu Rai. At present farmers have decided to lodge a case against Rudi and the management of JHV Distillery and invade the Bihar capital with more sugarcane-loaded bullock carts.

“We have decided to lodge a case against Rudi and JHV Distillery shortly and take a cart procession to Patna to highlight our plight,” said N.K. Singh, the president of the Marhaura Anumandal Ganna Krishi Vikas Manch.

The Manch is a forum that farmers formed to carry out agitation against what they see as “cheating”.

“I don’t know what to do with the sugarcane crop grown on the five acres of land I own. I am neck deep in loan,” said Mohan Singh, a farmer of Akuchak in Taraiya block. Bipin Singh of the same village shares a similar plight.

“Sugarcane production over one acre costs at least Rs 10,000. You can imagine the loss,” said the president of the sugarcane-growing farmer’s union.

The Board of Industrial Finance and Restructuring settled the assets and liability of the closed factory to JHV Distillery in 2006. The distillery, in co-operation with Rajiv Pratap Rudi, promised to start one of the oldest factories by the end of the 2007.

The state sugarcane minister, Nitish Mishra, told The Telegraph: “Yes, there the farmers are in genuine trouble. We have decided to summon the JHV management to find out what had gone wrong with the promise after the Assembly session ends.”

He, however, said that the state does not have a direct control over the factory, as it was handed over to private entrepreneurs.

Rudi on his part said: “Banks have delayed releasing funds due to glut in the sugar sector. Our claim for funds is lying with the Union Bank and the Punjab National Bank. We hope that the banks will release the funds soon.”

Jaiswal, too, said: “We will open the factory after banks release the money.”

The fact remains that there are no signs of the factory re-opening. And farmers who feel cheated and trapped in debt are up in arms.


The Telegraph

Five Rajya Sabha MPs elected from Bihar

In Bihar, actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wanted a third term but was denied it by his party. BJP general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy was also denied the ticket.

Leaders who were in the fray in Bihar included N.K Singh of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), C.P Thakur (BJP), central minister Prem Chand Gupta from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Sabir Ali of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), and Govind Pandey, Independent supported by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

The elections dented the Samajwadi Party in Bihar, which had only two members in the assembly. Both of them, Debnath Prasad Yadav and Gopal Agarwal, resigned from the party to protest against its decision to support candidates of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Bihar leaders including Janata Dal (U) national spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari, former State Planning Board Deputy Chairperson N. K. Singh, Central Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Premchand Gupta, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) candidate Sabir Ali, and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Dr. C. P. Thakur were elected for the Rajya Sabha seats following elections on 26 March.

Election official S. P. Sharma announced the results in the afternoon saying the most votes garnered by any of the candidates from Bihar went to the former Union Health Minister and BJP leader Dr. Thakur (55 votes) followed closely by Tiwari (48), Singh (47), Gupta (44), and Ali (40).

Independent candidate Govind Pandey managed to get only one vote. 235 out of 243 members of the Bihar Assembly took part in voting.

The three elected Rajya Sabha members from the NDA camp, Thakur, Tiwari, and Singh said they would take up Bihar's cause in the Parliament to demand for equal and fair treatment of the state and an end to the discriminatory attitude towards Bihar.

The three leaders then met with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in his chamber at Bihar Assembly who then congratulated them for their victories and wished them luck in their new avatar as the Rajya Sabha MPs.

Earlier, the JD(U) boycotted the informal daily National Democratic Alliance leaders’ meetings in the last 20 days of the first part of the budget session in March as it was annoyed that BJP was drawing its leaders into its fold.

Bihar Assembly’s 40 daylong session underway

Since 21 February, 2008, Bihar Assembly is in session

The state government presented a budget of Rs 38,574.12 crore with a surplus of Rs 4,613 crore in the Bihar Assembly for the next fiscal proposing a number of measures to improve the financial position of the state with thrust on key sectors like education, health, road, rural works, energy and phed, besides water resources department.

The Rs 4613 crore surplus budget for 2008-09 was placed on February 25 2008 by Deputy chief minister- cum-Finance Minister Sushil Kumar Modi amid a boycott by the entire Opposition. The first-ever gender budget which was presented in the Bihar assembly for 2008-09 identified the provisions that would improve the quality of the lives of women.

A roadmap is being prepared to make the state a 'foodgrain surplus state'. He informed the assembly that the state government had decided to observe the 2008-09 as 'agriculture year'. The state government would invest over Rs 4707 crore till 2012 to make farmers self-reliant. The state government has earmarked Rs 191.34 crore during the current fiscal against Rs 20.43 crore sanctioned in 2005-06 when the state was under RJD rule. It has also decided to set up 'seed villages' across the state to provide quality seeds and fertilsers to small and marginal farmers.

The state government has lowered transport tax and brought it on par with adjoining states including West Bengal, which witnessed rise in sale of chassis of trucks and buses in the state.

There are 10 key social sector departments covered this year, which are social welfare, SC and ST welfare, PHED, Minorities welfare, human resource development, health, rural development, urban development, panchayati raj and labour resource. The state government had made provision of Rs 2,247.80 crore for the 10 key social sector departments as total provisions of Rs 14,957.34 crore for the next fiscal, he said.

In the ten social sector departments which were covered, provision for women benefit-oriented schemes was 15 per cent of the total budget of the departments and was 5.83 per cent of the total budget size (Rs 38,574.12 crore) proposed for the next fiscal and 1.95 per cent of the state's gross state domestic product.

In Bihar women's population was 3.97 crore against 4.32 crore population of men but their literacy rate was just more than half than that of men. Under the gender budget, two categories were framed -- one making hundred per cent provision earmarked for women for Mahila Vidyalaya, Chief Minister's Kanya Vivah scheme, Naari Shakti Yojana, Kanya Suraksha Yojana, Indira Awas Yojana and another related to earmarking funds for women for scholarships and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan.

Earlier it was believed that public outlays were gender-neutral which was not correct. Although women constitute 50 per cent of the population, they were far behind in all aspects of human development indicators, he said.

The major gender sensitive provisions in the budget was Rs 72 crore for CM Balika Poshak (uniform) yojana, Rs 42.14 crore for CM Balika Cycle scheme and Rs 20 crore for CM Kanya Vivah scheme, he said.

Similary, Rs 26 crore was proposed for Kanya Suraksha yojana, Rs 22.50 crore for Nari Shakti yojana, Rs 5.15 crore for Swaymsidha, Rs 53.90 crore Laxhmibai Social Security scheme, Rs 13.80 crore for National Programme for Adolescent Girls Nutrition, Rs 105.89 crore for supplementary nutrition (pregnant and lactating mothers, Rs 486.98 crore for Indira Awas yojana, Rs 14.45 crore for dular strategy and Rs 1.40 crore for new ITI for women, he said.

Free textbooks would be provided to all girl students from class one to eight, while it has been proposed to provide uniforms to 10.29 lakh girl students between class six and eight and cycles to 2.11 lakh girl students between class nine and ten. The deputy chief minister said a separate cell would be set up in each of the ten departments which would monitor implementation of the schemes for women.

The state government had presented an outcome budget for 2008-09 for the third time in succession recognising that the outcome was more important than outlays. Stating that the outcome budget means estimates of outcome (physical achievement) from the budget outlays, he said that the achievement report against the outcome budget 2006-07 would be placed in July this year in the state legislature.

The surplus budget, presented for the third year in a row since 2006-07, had also indicated a healthy 14 per cent growth in terms of revenue generation from the last fiscal (2007-08) when the surplus was to the tune of Rs 3483 crore.
Placing his third budget as the Finance Minister, Modi said during the coming fiscal, the total planned and non-planned expenditure of the Government had been increased to Rs 38,574.11 crore from Rs 33,783.71 crore during the current fiscal.

Stating that the capital expenditure of the state Government during the period under review was proposed to be increased by 19.5 per cent from this year and four times from 2005-06, Modi said by following strict fiscal discipline, they had been able to restrict the fiscal deficit to only 2.89 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) during the coming financial year against the target of three per cent.

The state plan during the period under review had also been increased to Rs 13,500 crore, up by 32.35 per cent from the current fiscal, Modi said, adding among the non-plan oulays for major sectors, education, health and repair of roads had also been increased by 15 per cent, 25 per cent and 12 per cent to Rs 5267 crore, Rs 1278 crore and Rs 435 crore respectively.

Expressing concern that no Central assistance had been available to the state Government so far to deal with the devastating flood in the state last year, he told the House that between 2006-07 and 2008-09, the state Government had allocated Rs 9863 crore for this purpose. Moreover, he said in agriculture, irrigation and Animal Husbandry, the total budgetory allocation for 2008-09 was proposed to be increased by 43 per cent to Rs 191 crore, by 46 per cent to Rs 1600 crore and by 75 per cent from 12.5 crore to Rs 62 crore respectively.

Earlier, protesting the Speaker's refusal to admit their separate adjournment motions for discussions on the murder of their respective leaders, the entire opposition, including the RJD, Congress, Lok Janshakti Party, CPI (M), CPI and the CPI(ML), had boycotted the presentation of the budget.

The RJD leaders accused the ruling parties of deceiving the people of Bihar, not making any headway in the area of power supply and drinking water and letting the bureaucracy run over the state while encouraging corruption in all government offices.

The opposition leaders also took exceptions to the Governor's speech saying he left out many important issues that concerns Bihar including the plights of uncommitted teachers, implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, release of the BPL list, and the safety of Biharis in Maharashtra.

Earlier, the opposition leaders in the Bihar Assembly hooted Governor, R.S. Gavai, a Maharashtrian, during his customary inaugural. Bihar Governor was faced with an awkward situation in the state Assembly when some opposition and ruling party members drew his attention to the ongoing assault on people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in his home state Maharashtra and called for his intervention. The incident occurred when the Governor was exchanging pleasantries with the members after his joint address in the state Assembly on the first day of the Budget Session.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar criticized the opposition for making uncharitable remarks against Governor. The Chief Minister also appealed to the Center to impose Article 365 on Maharashtra government for its failure to protect people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the light of violence perpetrated against them by Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activists.

A CPI-ML (Liberation) legislator read out a parallel speech and urged the members to reject the Governor’s speech as it was a “bundle of lies”.
RJD claimed that it was only protesting against the Governor’s address to the joint session.

In his address to the joint session the Governor lauded the efforts of the Government to accelerate growth in the state and counted 29 new schemes.

The Governor had to make a hasty exit from the Assembly, but took time off to tell the media that it was regrettable that his work was being targeted because of the ethnic row.

Members of Legislative Assembly in Bihar

West Champaran
Dhanha - Rajesh Singh (RJD)
Bagaha - Purnamasi Ram (JDU)
Ramnagar -Chandra Mohan Rai (BJP)
Shikarpur -Bhagirathi Devi (BJP)
Sikta - -Khursheed Ahmed (INC)
Lauriya - -Pradip Singh (JDU)
Chanpatia -Satish Chandra Dubey (BJP)
Bettiah - Renu Devi (BJP)
Nautan - Baidyanath Pd Mahto (JDU)
East Champaran
Raxaul - Dr. Ajay Kumar Singh (BJP)
Sugauli - Ramchandra Sahni (RJD)
Motihari -Pramod Kumar (BJP)
Adapur - Shyam Bihari Prasad (JDU)
Dhaka - Avnis Singh (BJP)
Ghorasahan -Laxmi Narayan Yadav (RJD)
Madhuban -Shivaji Rai (JDU)
Pipra - Krishna Nandan Paswan (BJP)
Kesaria - Rajesh Raushan (RJD)
Harsiddhi -Maheshwar Singh (LJP)
Govindganj -Mina Devi (JDU)
Kataiya - Amrendra Pandey (BSP)
Bhore - Anil Ram (RJD)
Mirganj - Ram Sevak Singh (JDU)
Gopalganj -Subhash Singh (BJP)
Barauli - Rampravesh Rai (BJP)
Baikunthpur -Deodutt Prasad Yadav (RJD)
Basantpur -Manik Chandra Rai (RJD)
Goriakothi -Indradeo Prasad (RJD)
Siwan - Byasdeo Prasad (BJP)
Mairwa - Ramayan Manjhi (BJP)
Darauli - Amarnath Yadav (CPI ML)
Jiradei - Shyam Bahadur Singh (JDU)
Maharajganj -Damodar Singh (JDU)
Raghunathpur -Jagmato Devi (JDU)
Manjhi - Gautam Singh (JDU)
Baniapur -Manoranjan Singh (JDU)
Masrakh - Kedar Nath Singh (JDU)
Taraiya - Ramdas Rai (RJD)
Marhaura -Lal Babu Rai (IND)
Jalalpur -Janardan Singh Sigrewal (BJP)
Chapra - Ram Pravesh Rai (JDU)
Garkha - Gyan Chand Manjhi (BJP)
Parsa - Chotelal Rai (JDU)
Sonepur - Ramanuj Pd Yadav (RJD)
Hajipur - Nityanand Rai (BJP)
Raghopur -Rabri Devi (RJD)
Mahnar - Ramakishore Singh (LJP)
Jandaha - Dr. Achyutanand Singh (LJP)
Patepur - Prema Choudhry (RJD)
Mahua - Shivchandra Ram (RJD)
Lalganj - Vijay K Shukla (JDU)
Vaishali -Vrishna Patel (JDU)
Paru - Ashok Kumar Singh (BJP)
Sahebganj -Raju Kumar Singh (JDU)
Baruraj - Shashi Kumar Rai (JDU)
Kanti - Ajit Kumar (JDU)
Kurhani - Manoj Kumar Singh (JDU)
Sakara - Bilat Paswan (JDU)
Muzaffarpur -Vijendra Choudhary (IND)
Bochaha - Ramai Ram (RJD)
Gaighatti -Maheshwar Pd Yadav (RJD)
Aurai - Arjun Rai (JDU)
Minapur - Dinesh Prasad (JDU)
Runnisaidpur -Gudi Devi (JDU)
Belsand - Sanjay Kumar Gupta (RJD)
Sheohar - Ajit Kumar Jha (RJD)
Sitamarhi -Sunil Kumar Pintu (BJP)
Bathnaha -Nagina Devi (LJP)
Majorganj -Dinkar Ram (BJP)
Sonebersa -Dr. Ramchandra Purve (RJD)
Sursand - Jainandan Pd Yadav (RJD)
Pupri - Shahid Ali Khan (JDU)
Benipatti -Saligram Yadav (JDU)
Bisfi - Haribhushan Thakur (IND)
Harlakhi -Ramnaresh Pandey (CPI)
Khajauli -Ram Preet Paswan (BJP)
Babubarhi -Kapildeo Kamat (JDU)
Madhubani -Ram Deo Mahto (BJP)
Pandaul - Vinod Narayan Jha (BJP)
Jhanjharpur -Nitish Mishra (JDU)
Phulparas -Dev Nath Yadav (SP)
Laukaha - Hari Prasad Shah (JDU)
Madhepur -Jagat Narayan Singh (RJD)
Manigachi -Lalit Kumar Yadav (RJD)
Bahera - Abdul Bari Siddiqui (RJD)
Ghanshyampur -Izhar Ahmed (LJP)
Baherhi - Hari Krishna Yadav (RJD)
Darbhanga (R) -Pitambar Paswan (RJD)
Darbhanga (T) -Sanjay Sarogi (BJP)
Keoti - Ashok Kumar Yadav (BJP)
Jale - Ram Niwas Prasad (RJD)
Hayaghat -Hari Nandan Yadav (RJD)
Kalyanpur -Ashwamegh Devi (JDU)
Warisnagar -Maheshwar Hazari (LJP)
Samastipur -Ramnath Thakur (JDU)
Sarairanjan -Ramchandra Nishad (RJD)
Mohiuddin Nagar -Ajay K Bulganeen (RJD)
Dalsingh Sarai -Ramlakhan Mahto (RJD)
Vibhutipur -Ramdeo Verma (CPM)
Rosera - Gajendra Pd Singh (RJD)
Singhia - Dr. Ashok Kumar (INC)
Hasanpur -Sunil Kumar Pushpam (RJD)
Balia - Jamshed Ashraf (JDU)
Matihani -Narendra Kumar Singh (IND)
Begusarai -Bhola Pd Singh (BJP)
Barauni - Rajendra Pd Singh (CPI)
Bachwara -Ramdeo Rai (INC)
Cheria Bariyarpur- Anil Choudhary (LJP)
Bakhri - Ram Vinod Paswan (CPI)
Raghopur -Neeraj K Singh 'Babloo' (JDU)
Kishanpur -Aniruddh Pd Yadav (JDU)
Supaul - Vijendra Pd Yadav (JDU)
Triveniganj -Vishwa Mohan Kumar (JDU)
Chattapur -Vishwa Mohan Bharti (JDU)
Saharsa and Madhepura
Kumarkhand -Ramesh Shrideo (JDU)
Singheswar -Rameshwar Pd Yadav (JDU)
Saharsa - Sanjiv Kumar Jha (BJP)
Mahishi - Gunjeshwar Shao (JDU)
Simri-Bakhtiyarpur-Dinesh Chandra Yadav (JDU)
Madhepura -Manindra K Mandal (JDU)
Sonbarsa -Kishore Kumar 'Munna' (IND)
Kishanganj -Renu Kumari (JDU)
Alam Nagar -Narendra N Yadav (JDU)
Arwal - Dularchand Singh (LJP)
Kurtha - Suchitra Sinha (JDU)

Amour - Abdul Jalil Mastan (INC)
Baisi - Syed Ruknudin (IND)
Banmankhi -Krishna Kumar Rishi (BJP)
Dhamdaha -Dilip Kumar Yadav (RJD)
Kasba - Pradip Kumar Das (BJP)
Purnea - Raj Kishore Keshri (BJP)
Rupauli -Bima Bharati (RJD)
Araria - Pradeep Kumar Singh (BJP)
Forbesganj -Laxmi Narayan Mehta (BJP)
Jokihat - Manzar Alam (JDU)
Narpatganj -Janardan Yadav (BJP)
Raniganj -Ramji Das Rishidev (BJP)
Sikti - Murlidhar Mandal (JDU)
Bahadurganj -Md. Tousif Alam (INC)
Kishanganj -Akhatarul Iman (RJD)
Thakurganj -Gopal Kumar Agarwal (SP)
Korha - Sunita Devi (INC)
Barari - Bibhash Chandra Chaudhary (BJP)
Katihar - Tar Kishor Prasad (BJP)
Kadwa - Abdul Zalil (NCP)
Barsoi - Munnaf Alam (CPI-ML-L)
Pranpur - Mahendra Narayan Yadav (RJD)
Manihari -Mubarak Hussain (INC)
Pirpainti -Shobha Kant Mandal (RJD)
Colgong - Ajay Kumar Mandal (JDU)
Nathnagar -Sudha Shrivastav (JDU)
Bhagalpur -Ashwini Kumar Choubey (BJP)
Gopalpur -Narendra Kumar Niraj (JDU)
Bihpur - Shailesh Kumar (RJD)
Sultanganj -Sudhanshu Shekhar Bhaskar (JDU)
Amarpur - Surendra Prasad Singh (RJD)
Dhuraiya -Budheo Choudhary (JDU)
Banka - Ram Narayan Mandal (BJP)
Belhar - Janardan Manjhi (JDU)
Katoria - Raj Kishor Prasad (RJD)
Chakai - Phalguni Prasad Yadav (BJP)
Jamui - Abhay Singh (JDU)
Sikandra -Rameshwar Paswan (JDU)
Jhajha - Damodar Rawat (JDU)
Tarapur - Shakuni Chaudhury (RJD)
Kharagpur -Anant Kumar Satyarthi (JDU)
Parbatta -Ramanand Prasad Singh (JDU)
Chautham -Panna Lal Singh 'Patel' (JDU)
Khagaria -Poonam Devi (Yadav) (JDU)
Alauli - Pashupati Kumar Paras (LJP)
Monghyr - Monazir Hassan (JDU)
Jamalpur -Shailesh Kumar (JDU)
Surajgarha -Prem Ranjan Patel (BJP)
Lakhisarai -Phulena Singh (RJD)
Barbigha -Ramsundar Ram Kanaujia (JDU)
Shiekhpura -Sunila Devi (INC)
Asthawan -Jitendra Kumar (JDU)
Biharsharif -Dr. Sunil Kumar (JDU)
Rajgir - Satyadeo Narain Arya (BJP)
Nalanda - Shrawon Kumar (JDU)
Islampur -Ramswaroop Prasad (JDU)
Hilsa - Ramcharitra Pd Singh (JDU)
Chandi - Hari Narayan Singh (JDU)
Harnaut - Sunil Kumar (JDU)
Mokameh - Anant Kumar Singh (JDU)
Barh - Gyanendra Kumar Singh (JDU)
Bakhtiarpur -Vinode Yadav (BJP)
Fatuha - Saryug Paswan (JDU)
Masaurhi -Punam Devi (JDU)
Patna West -Nitin Navin Pd Sinha (BJP)
Patna Central -Arun Kumar Sinha (BJP)
Patna East -Nand Kishore Yadav (BJP)
Danapur - Asha Devi (BJP)
Maner - Shrikant Nirala (RJD)
Phulwari -Shyam Rajak (RJD)
Bikram - Anil Kumar (BJP)
Paliganj -Nand Kumar Nanda (CPI-ML-L)
Sandesh - Vijendra Yadav (RJD)
Barhara - Asha Devi (JDU)
Arrah - Amrendra Pratap Singh (BJP)
Shahpur - Munni Devi (BJP)
Jagdishpur -Sri Bhagwan Singh (JDU)
Piro - Narendra Kumar Pandey (JDU)
Sahar - Ram Naresh Ram (CPI-ML)
Brahmpur -Ajeet Chaudhari (RJD)
Buxar - Hriday Narayan Singh (BSP)
Rajpur - Shyam Payari Devi (JDU)
Dumraon - Dadan Singh (AJVD)
Karakat - Arun Singh (CPI-ML-L)
Bikramganj -Jai Kumar Singh (JDU)
Dinara - Sita Sundari Devi (BSP)
Sasaram - Jawahar Prasad (BJP)
Chenari - Lalan Paswan (JDU)
Nokha - Rameshwar Prasad (BJP)
Dehri - Pradip Kumar Joshi (IND)

Ramgarh - Jagadanand Singh (RJD)
Mohania - Chhedi Paswan (JDU)
Bhabhua - Ram Chandra Singh Yadav (BSP)
Chainpur -Mahabali Singh (RJD)
Nabinagar -Vijay Kumar Singh (LJP)
Deo - Renu Devi (JDU)
Aurangabad -Ramadhar Singh (BJP)
Rafiganj -Md. Nehaluddin (RJD)
Obra - Satya Narayan Singh (RJD)
Goh - Dr. Ran Vijay Kumar (JDU)
Makhdumpur -Krishnandan Pd Varma (RJD)
Jahanabad -Sachita Nand Yadav (RJD)
Ghosi - Jagdish Sharma (JDU)
Belaganj -Surendra Pd Yadav (RJD)
Konch - Dr. Anil Kumar (JDU)
Gaya Mufasil -Awadesh Kumar Singh (INC)
Gaya Town -Prem Kumar (BJP)
Imamganj -Uday Narayan Chaudhry (JDU)
Gurua - Shakeel Ahmad Khan (RJD)
Bodh Gaya -Hari Manjhi (BJP)
Barachatti -Jitan Ram Manjhi (JDU)
Fatehpur -Ajay Paswan (RJD)
Atri - Kunti Devi (RJD)
Nawada - Purnima Yadav (IND)
Rajauli - Banwari Ram (BJP)
Gobindpur -Kaushal Yadav (IND)
Warshaliganj -Pradip Kumar (IND)
Hisua - Anil Singh (BJP)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Row in Bihar Legislative Council over protocol violation

The Bihar Legislative Council witnessed noisy scenes on 3rd March as members cutting across party lines raised the issue of non-allocation of room in circuit house to council's acting chairman Arun Kumar during his recent visit to Ara.

Raising the issue, Dilip Choudhary (Congress) said the issue was related to violation of protocol. Choudhary was supported by party members Mahachandra Prasad Singh and Chandan Bagchi. Singh demanded stern action against the officer responsible for the "misconduct".

Joining the issue, Bhim Singh (RJD) said that a privilege motion should be brought against the erring official.

He was supported by senior party leaders Mundrika Singh Yadav and leader of Opposition Ghulam Gaus.Urging the members to maintain order in the House, the working chairman narrated the incident to the members and said that though he had no problems personally yet the matter should be looked into by the government.

Taking note of his observation, deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi informed the House that government would conduct an inquiry into the incident. He also sought guidelines from the Chair in the matter.

The matter cropped up again in the post-lunch session of the Upper House when minister of revenue and land reforms Ramnath Thakur informed the House that Bhojpur district magistrate appeared before the acting Chairman during lunch break and tendered an apology for the incident. The minister, quoting the DM, said that incident took place due to some communication gap. Thakur, reading out from a written reply, accepted that it was a clear case of violation of warrant of protocol. The Opposition, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the government reply and pressed for initiating a privilege move against the erring official.

Supporting Bhim Singh's move in this regard, leader of Opposition Ghulam Gaus said the Opposition still sticks to its demand of privilege motion.

However, energy minister Bijendra Yadav termed the Opposition demand as unjustified and assured the House that in future the government would ensure strict adherence to the warrant of protocol.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Unprecedented human migration and misery due to manmade floods

Preliminary findings of the Fact Finding Team

Nearly 73.06 per cent of the area of Bihar is prone to flooding. It is estimated that about half a million have migrated from the embanked Kosi region alone. In the face of mass exodus from the state, the resumption of flood control embankments aggravates the situation of countrywide condemnation and humiliation that migrant Biharis face. These structures have compelled them to migrate in search of livelihood.

A multidisciplinary 14 member Fact Finding Team has concluded its 8 daylong travel of the flood affected regions of North Bihar wherein it traversed along the embanked parts of Kosi, Kamala, Bhutahi Balan and Baghmati rivers. The visit from March 1-8, 2008, entailed visiting Khagaria, Saharsa, Supaul, Saptari, Kunauli, Kamalpur, Mahadeo Math, Nirmali, Ghoghardiha, Kosi barrage, Runni Saidpur, Sitamarhi, Vaishali and other places.

The manner in which floods have been amazingly sustained in this region despite over five decades of relentless efforts have been the core idea behind this voluntary mission.

Backed by volume of secondary literature but limited primary exposure of ground realities, this team is anguished to conclude that not only are these floods manmade but that the worse is yet to come should the political economy of flood control continue to pivot itself around `temporary embankment' as the only solution to the scourge of floods. The state pretends that it is afflicted by the colossal ignorance regarding the primary function of floodwater--draining out excess water and the fact that no embankment has yet been built or can be built in future that will not breach.

The team is outraged to report that the government's investment of over Rs 1600 crores since the early 1950's has helped increase the flood prone area from 25 lakh hectare during the pre-plan era to over 68.8 lakh hectare today, an unprecedented three-fold increase. Proposed as temporary measure to control floods in the 1950s and having had failed on all fronts, the team is bewildered to note that the business of embankment construction has resumed after a lapse of 17 years with a Rs 792 crores package to tame the Bagmati. There is another proposal to embank the tributaries of Mahananda at an estimated cost of Rs 850 crores. Clearly, the lessons in human misery have not been learnt.

That over 2 million people are permanently trapped between the flood control embankments and an equal number of people faced with acute water logging in the so-called flood protected areas, only exposes the stark failure of the state's democratic governance. The team observed the inevitability of migration due to loss of livelihood that is a consequence of state's benign intervention and its callousness. This exposes the migrant Bihari population to the wrath of perverted political monsters in Assam, Maharasthra, Punjab, and Delhi. Sporadic incidents across the country demonstrate state's collusive inaction. The team is astounded to observe that the state remains a mute spectator to the denial of basic rights of livelihood and instead it accentuates their misery by pretending ignorance about the outdated, tried, tested and failed technology of embankments as if it is caught in a time warp.

The team observed state's arrogance and misplaced faith in engineering that has stopped the natural process of `landbuilding' by these rivers, a process that had ushered in necessary socio-cultural conditions for emergence of `civilisation'. Need it be said that the marriage of natural capital and social capital had made Bihar the apex knowledge center. The total collapse of this knowledge culture within the state is a result of embankment of this capital.

The team notes that 8.36 lakh hectare of land in North Bihar is permanently waterlogged, which is nearly 16 per cent of the North Bihar's total area. Some 8 million people have been directly hit by water logging, earning the state the dubious distinction of being the leading claimant of this kind of manmade submergence. Draining vast stretches of waterlogged land is technologically and financially unfeasible. Can any welfare state afford to keep its most fertile lands under water?

The team witnessed how the poor and the powerless are obviously the main victims. It emerged from the narratives of the villagers that embankments are for the benefit of the contractor politicians and the technocratic development ideology to deal with flood suits them unmindful of the environmental and social mess.

As the embankment lobby has gained momentum once again, the fact that such interventions will raise river levels by several meters, making the land between the embankments uninhabitable for millions of people displacing them for good. The bitter experience of flood control embankments has given birth to a strong sentiment against it.

The team shockingly wondered about the land use change that has adversely affected the ecosystem of the region contributing to the rupture of its carrying capacity. It makes a classic case requiring urgent measures to undo the damages that appear beyond redemption.

The team examined the impact of flood control measures and the trends in consequent losses in the region. The team has inferred that migration is an indicator of the enormity of glaring state failure. Embanjavascript:void(0)
Publish Postkments remain the main loss-determining factor. The team calls for a white paper on the impact of existing embankments.

Those living today in the flood-affected region are promised other ecologically disastrous projects like Barahkshethra Dam and Interlinking of Rivers is like proposing one catastrophe to solve another a la devil and the deep sea.

The observations made by the team are its preliminary findings. The final and detailed report of the Fact Finding Team would be shared in due course.