- Bihar attracting major investments these days
- AC buses touched the roads of Patna from today
- Bihar to provide govt employees loans at the cheapest rate in country
- Bihar Govt plans to recruit about 1500 lady homegurads
Posted: 06 Aug 2011 08:17 AM PDT
Bihar is now attracting private funds for investment on major projects, a complete turnaround after six years of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s rule.
These investments are even more remarkable because two of these projects will be toll roads, where the operator has to be confident of his ability to collect toll, a confidence that was lacking during Lalu Yadav-led RJD’s 15-year reign.
That’s not all. Officials of the Bihar State Road Development Corporation now keep tabs on how projects are progressing using smartphones running Google’s Android OS, from their offices in district headquarters. Bihar is the first state in India to put mobile technology to this use.
Of the two private road projects, the first is a Rs 1,602-crore project to build a 5.5-km bridge across the river Ganga, connecting Bakhtiyarpur with Shahpur along with a four-lane 45.5 km approach road. The second is a Rs 917-crore project to widen the twolane road between Ara and Mohania into a four-lane one.
“These two projects will substantially improve connectivity in the state,” Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said.
“Bihar isn’t what it used to be,” said Ullhas N Bhole, vicepresident, Atlanta Infrastructure, which has bagged the Ara-Mohania project.
Bihar has constructed 23,606 km of roads since 2006-07, apart from augmenting and repairing 1,657 km of national highways. All these projects involved annuity payments because private builders were not ready to build toll roads, fearing they wouldn’t be able to collect fees from users. “The law and order situation is good and we do not see any problems in collecting toll,” said Bhole.
“The Public-Private Partnership Approval Committee under the finance ministry has given its nod to the Ganga project,” a finance ministry official said. The project had to be approved by the finance ministry as it needed some viability gap funds from the Centre.
North Block will cough up Rs 277 crore for the Ganga bridge project. The request for quotation floated by the Bihar State Road Development Corp had received just four proposals in 2008. But this time, 16 private companies were willing to take up the project.
Posted: 06 Aug 2011 06:16 AM PDT
Now Patnites Can boast of travelling by AC buses, a bonanza for tourists and the daily travelers.From today a fleet of seven AC buses have started plying on a number of routes in the city. Eden Transport Private Limited, a Calcutta-based company, is operating operate these buses.
The service was earlier supposed to start on July 7 but was postponed because of delay in the issuance of permits.
"At present, we will start the service with seven buses. All of these vehicles are air-conditioned and have seating capacity for 36 passengers," said Kunal Sharma, chief operations officer, Eden Transport Private Limited.
The buses will ply on the longer routes like Gandhi Maidan to Khagaul, Bailey Road or Danapur. You can recognise them easily as they will be coloured maroon and white.
The tickets for rides on these buses are priced at Rs 10, Rs 15 and Rs 20.
"Passengers will have to pay Rs 20 for a trip from Gandhi Maidan to Danapur. An intricate fare chart has been drawn up. The details will be announced tomorrow. These will be the first air-conditioned passenger buses in Patna," Sharma said.
He added: "The buses will start operating from 5.30am and will be available every half-an-hour. The state transport department has approved the permits. We are also discussing the possibility to run 200 buses in the state capital."
Passengers who wish to travel between the airport and Patna Junction will, however, have to wait, as the service on this route would be started later.
Sharma said: "Talks are on with the airport authorities. Operations on this route will start soon."
Sachidanand Rai, the managing director of Eden City Group, told The Telegraph that the buses on the airport route could start operating in two to three days.
"There is no problem to start operations on this particular route. Initially, we had applied for permit for seven routes only. The plan to operate buses on the airport route was tabled a little later. The plan is in its final stage. The route will be finalised in a short time. The fare for the airport route could be Rs 25, as it is a premium course," he said.
Posted: 06 Aug 2011 06:11 AM PDT
Bihar government in association with Central Bank of India , will now provide housing loans up to Rs 30 lakh at base rates — the lowest rate of interest on loan offered by any bank in the country that is regulated by the Reserve Bank of India.
Both parties today signed the memorandum of understanding during the launch of the scheme in the state capital in the presence of chief minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi.
"I would like to congratulate Central Bank of India for starting this scheme wherein all employees of the state government are given the opportunity to avail housing loans up to Rs 30 lakh. However, the existing scheme of the state government to give housing loans up to Rs. 7.5 lakh would run concurrently. Under the new scheme, the equated monthly instalments (EMI) would be deducted from the salary of the employees. Central Bank has also been the partner of the state government in the payment of wages through the E- Shakti card scheme under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act," said Nitish.
Nitish, however, criticised the banks on their role in partnering the state in development schemes.
"Since our first term, the state government has tried their best to execute various development schemes where contributions from banks were not as expected. Earlier, we had started giving free school uniforms to students from standard six and above and bicycles to high school girls. The uniforms cost Rs 750 and the bicycles cost Rs 2,000, all of which were borne by the state government. Also, we had given agriculture input subsidy during the floods in 2007. The contribution of banks in many similar schemes was not satisfactory. Moreover, even today there are many blocks in the state which do not have banks. But I am happy with the assurance of Central Bank of India that they would open branches in many such blocks. I hope more banks would come up and maintain this spirit," the chief minister said.
Deputy chief minister Sushil Modi urged the bank to start similar low interest housing loan schemes for legislators of the state and vehicle loan schemes for government employees in the future.
Modi also raised concerns on the distribution of differential rate of interest (DRI) loans to economically backward people.
"The DRI loans are offered at four per cent interest rate. While in other states banks distribute one per cent of the total loan amount as DRI to economically backward people in a financial year, in Bihar the banks have distributed only 0.17 per cent of the total loan amount in the previous year. The banks need to pay heed in this regard," Modi said.
Rameshwar Singh, principal secretary, finance, lauded the new housing loan scheme for government employees. "The scheme would not only provide easy finance options for government employees but also boost the housing sector in the state. Moreover, I would request Central Bank to start a helpline for these loans in the district headquarters," the officer said.
Mihir Kumar Singh, the secretary of the state finance department, informed that three more banks are also in the pipeline for providing lower interest rate housing loans and they have also received the approval from the cabinet. He also informed that Central Bank would not levy any penalty for early payment of EMI.
Ten state government employees were issued these loans today during the launch of the scheme. State government employees are upbeat. "This is a good move as now we would be getting much bigger loans at lower rate of interest. Moreover, the terms of availing this loan are simpler and the EMI would be directly deducted from the salaries. Thus there would be no hassle in repayment," said Om Prakash Yadav, an employee in the state secretariat.
Posted: 06 Aug 2011 06:09 AM PDT
Government will soon recruit women home guards who will be deployed in rural areas. The process of recruitment has begun and forms are being submitted in each district.
A total of 15,820 home guard jawans will be recruited. “We have reserved 10% posts for women,” principal secretary, home, Amir Subhani, told TOI.
Under the plan, 1,582 women home guards will be recruited, of which 1,364 will be posted in rural areas and 218 in urban areas. DGP Neelmani said earlier some women home guards used to be deployed in urban areas. “But this will be the first time when women home guards will be posted in the countryside,” he added.
In Patna district alone, there are 2,772 vacancies of home guards. As many as 277 of these posts will be reserved for women. While 215 of them will be sent to rural areas, 62 will be posted in urban areas.
A large number of young women are swarming the district collectorates and police lines to submit their forms. At several places, the rush of applicants was so high last Saturday that several candidates fainted due to heat. Subhani said in view of the big crowd of applicants, the last date for submission of forms has been extended.
It is expected that the qualifying examination, including various physical tests, would be conducted in September. The candidates, including women, will have to pass the preliminary sprint test to qualify for another set of physical tests. No recruitment of home guards has been made in the state since 2008. In 2009, there was 4,698 vacancies, and though the recruitment process was initiated it could not be completed.
Police sources said the candidates who had submitted forms in 2009 and again this time would be given chance twice.
Neelmani said this exercise would help in women’s empowerment. He said Bihar was the first state which established all-woman police stations at several places and all of them were running smoothly. An all-woman battalion of Bihar Military Police has already been created which is stationed at Sasaram. It comprises 700 personnel, besides commandants and DSPs.
“By establishing police stations and creating separate battalion exclusively for women, and now by raising women home guard force, the police are helping in women empowerment,” said Neelmani while referring to greater empowerment of women through reservation in panchayat and local bodies. The DGP said extra facilities would be provided to the women home guard jawans.
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