Bihar Current Affairs

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Bihar’s ‘Project Jal Sanchay’ Chosen for National Award

‘Project Jal Sanchay’, a water conservation model which is successfully adopted in Nalanda district of south-central Bihar, has been chosen for the national award for excellence in the Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee programme (MGNREGP) by the Ministry of Rural Development. The award will be conferred on June 19 at a function held at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.

Salient Highlights

Nalanda being an agriculture-oriented district remained affected by drought-like conditions that hampered the farming activities in the district. Though the district receives flash floods during the monsoon, the water runoff in the district was very high so much so that the entire water got washed away in a span of 15 days. Under these circumstances, ‘project jal sanchay’ was launched under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (MGNREGP) to offset the water crisis in the district.

Under the project, check dams and traditional Aahar-Pyne irrigation systems were created. In addition, traditional water bodies were desilted and renovated. Campaigns about the usefulness of rainwater harvesting were also carried out. The project was a mix of modern day techniques and technologies with traditional knowledge and got evolved into a holistic program to conserve water.

As a result of the implementation of the project, availability of water got improved drastically which positively impacted the farm production in the district.

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1.04 crore people hit by arsenic contamination in Bengal: Report

According to recent report tabled in the Lok Sabha, West Bengal has the highest number of arsenic-affected people in the country. State’s 83 blocks in eight districts have ground water affected by arsenic contamination.

Despite the State government’s efforts to curb the Arsenic menace, there is still a lot to be done. So far, state government was able to provide safe drinking water to 52% of the arsenic-affected areas in Bengal.

Key Facts
  • The total number of arsenic-affected people in the country is about 1.48 crore (as of March 2017).
  • West Bengal has topped the list with more than 1.04 crore arsenic-affected persons.
  • Bihar is second with 16.88 lakh persons, with Assam is third with 14.48 lakh victims.
  • According to the WHO’s guidelines for drinking water quality (2011), the permissible limit of Arsenic in groundwater is .01 m/ litre.
  • However, in India the permissible limit in drinking water was only recently been revised from .05 mg/litre to .01 mg/litre.
  • West Bengal government recently had initiated a project to provide safe drinking water to more than six lakh people in the arsenic-affected blocks.
  • However, there is slow progress in setting up water treatment plants since the technology for removal of arsenic is new and expensive.

About Arsenic Contamination

  • Arsenic is a natural component in the earth’s crust. It is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form.
  • Contaminated water used for drinking, irrigation of food crops and food preparation poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic.
  • Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning. It can cause cancer, skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes.
  • The most important action in affected communities is the prevention of further exposure to arsenic by providing them of a safe water supply.
  • It is a high-profile problem in the Ganges Delta, due to the use of deep tubewells for water supply. The groundwater in these tubewells have high concentrations of arsenic in deeper levels .

Arsenic contamination

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India, ADB sign $500 million loan to build longest river bridge across Ganges River

The Union Government and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have inked a $500-million loan agreement to build a 9.8 km long road bridge across the Ganga River in Bihar.

It will be country’s longest river bridge and shall provide better connectivity between North and South Bihar and also Patna and its surrounding areas.

In addition to the loan, ADB will $900,000 in technical assistance. The state government will provide $215 million for the project. It is expected to be completed by end of December 2020.

Key Facts

  • The new Ganga Bridge will be located near Patna. It will span both channels of the Ganga River and serve as an alternate route to the existing Ganga Bridge, which has begun to deteriorate. The project will include building of embankments, viaducts and toll facilities.
  • The bridge will be constructed using the latest engineering techniques. It will serve as an alternative to the existing bridge and will be linked to the National Highway network.
  • It will be first of its kind in India with its height and length customized to deal with climate- related issues such as rise in water levels while ensuring minimum impact on the river.

About Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • The ADB is a regional development bank which aims to promote social and economic development in Asia.
  • It was established on 19 December 1966. It is headquartered in Manila, Philippines.
  • ADB now has 67 members, of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
  • The ADB has been modelled closely on the World Bank. It has similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions.
  • As of 2014, Japan is the largest shareholder (capital subscription) of ADB having 15.7% shares. US (15.6%), China (6.5%), India (6.4%), and Australia (5.8%).

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