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Overcoming the Dreaded Memories of ‘Jungle Raj’ – The Story of Building Bihar’s Infrastructure

building bihar’s infrastructure

Back in 2005, a ground report in Rediff portal started with this line- “The number of accidents in Bihar must be one of the lowest in the country.” Before you see it as a compliment to the administration, you need to savour the following paras of the report.

“…and the primary reason for that is that most of the times your speed will be not more than 2 km per hour, and at that speed, as all of you know, you can’t even kill a fly.”

“Imagine being stuck in a washing machine and you will know what it is to travel on Bihar’s roads. One RJD minister at the Centre told me that Lalu Yadav was a visionary. Now I know why he said that. Lalu Yadav wants to keep his people healthy and alive and what better way than this.”

In 2005, the Bihar assembly election mandate replaced the Lalu family rule and National Democratic Alliance formed the government. In the fifteen years after, NDA did break for a brief period, but now they are going for the election together once again.

With the change in guard, painful pictures from 2005 also made way for a remarkable change, and in many ways Bihar portrays the developing picture of infrastructure boom at present. These are the samples we get to see and read often in recent times.

Ensuring Overall Infrastructure Connectivity

The developments in Bihar are not just restricted to building roads. The infrastructure building that was absolutely neglected in the ‘Lalu Raj’, often referred to as ‘jungle raj’, got a facelift as soon as NDA took over the administration. In recent times, the collective effort by Modi government at the Centre and the Nitish government at State has conceived bigger things for Bihar, and the journey towards greater goal is evident in the sphere of infrastructure.

Energy infrastructure that eases lives

Recently three new projects related to petroleum sector offer a picture of seamless energy connectivity for the people of Bihar. The 193 km long Durgapur-Banka pipeline section, built by Indian Oil will make the distribution of gas for cooking purposes easier. It was an infrastructure challenge to build this part of pipeline since it required crossing several natural and manmade hurdles. A total of 154 crossings were bridged including 13 rivers (one of them being the Ajay river of 1077 m length), 5 national highways, and 3 railway crossings. The pipeline was laid under the riverbeds through state-of-the-art Horizontal Directional Drilling technique without disturbing the water flow. Also, an LPG Bottling Plant at Banka will meet the growing demand for LPG in the state by serving the districts like Bhagalpur, Banka, Jamui, Araria, Kishanganj & Katihar, while another LPG plant at Champaran will cater to the LPG requirement of East Champaran, West Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Siwan, Gopalganj & Sitamarhi districts in Bihar.

Digital Connectivity to Villages

In the previous decades, Bihar almost stood last when it came to receiving the benefits of development. The Modi government joining hands with the state government has reversed this trend for Bihar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech of August 2020 has announced that all the villages will be connected with Optical Fibre Cable (OFC). Now, the state of Bihar is gearing up to be the first state to connect all its villages with OFC internet. On September 21, 2020 PM Modi has lunched the programme for connecting all 45,945 villages of Bihar on Optical Fibre for providing high-speed internet. The villages of Bihar will enjoy various benefits like availing tele-medicine, e-education, digital transactions etc upon the completion of this programme. To put it in perspective, in the earlier decades of RJD rule infrastructure like roads and highways never marked by their absence in Bihar. In modern times, the Modi government is making sure that the digital highways should reach one of the populous states of India on priority.

Bihar- Main Beneficiary of Waterways

The Inland Waterway projects spearheaded by the Modi government promise to provide a great economic fillip to the state of Bihar in the days to come. The waterways hold the key to creating a huge trade opportunity for Bihar and employment generation along the way.

The signs of grand things for Bihar in the future can be foreseen in the event of Bihar’s capital Patna having a new landmark in India’s Inland Water Transport (IWT) sector when 16 TEUs of container cargo of food giants PepsiCo India and Emami Agrotech Ltd reached the city’s Gaighat IWT terminal on river Ganga  from Kolkata.

Namami Gange Giving Bihar a New Image

Cleaning river Ganga, an initiative dear to the Modi government, involves many projects along the states that have the river banks of Ganga. Natural that it is beneficial for the state of Bihar.

Recently, PM Modi inaugurated various projects under the ‘Namami Gange’ Yojana and the ‘AMRUT’ Yojana in Bihar. The four schemes inaugurated include sewerage treatment plants at Beur and Karam-Leechak in Patna city, as well as water-related projects in Siwan and Chhapra under the ‘AMRUT’ Yojana. Apart from this, foundation stones were also laid for water supply projects in Munger and Jamalpur and River Front Development Scheme under Namami Gange in Muzaffarpur.

Building Bihar’s Infrastructure – Other Initiatives

When NDA assumed power (in the year 2005), Bihar’s own power generation was nil but by 2018 it has reached to the capacity of 720 MW.

Further, under Make-in-India Projects Electric Locomotive Factory at Madhepura has been set up and first all-electric superfast engine made under make-in-India at this factory. The Diesel Locomotive Factory at Marhowrah in Saran district has become a flagship for Make in India in many ways. A revival plan of Barauni fertiliser plant in progress. Foundation stone laid for Patna Metro in 2019 at the cost of ₹13,000 crores. Buxar Thermal Power Plant is coming up at the cost of ₹10,000 crores.

Thus, the state of Bihar that once grappled for basic amenities under the infamous ‘jungle raj’ is today witnessing great momentum in each sphere of infrastructure building. In the coming election, people will decide whether they want to keep this momentum for grand Bihar or make way for the inheritors of jungle raj. Perhaps the choice is not that difficult to make.