Pink autos lose shine on city roads
An ambitious project to train women in Patna to drive auto-rickshaws in order to provide them with an alternative source of livelihood has lost steam. The project, first launched in 2013 by Bihar State Autorickshaw Drivers’ Association (BSADA), has so far trained over 200 women to drive the three-wheelers. These vehicles, conspicuous by their pink exteriors, had generated a lot of buzz about women’s empowerment in the Bihar capital. But the latest count has found only about ten women driving autos in the city – five at Patna Junction railway station and five at the city airport. Lack of support from the city administration and the state government is one of the reasons behind trained women drivers giving up driving work, said BSADA general secretary Rajkumar Jha.
More girl students at PU colleges
College campuses in Patna these days are no longer the largely male bastions they used to be some fifteen years ago. With big dreams in higher education, girls have also bagged nearly all the top positions in the Patna University (PU) examinations. In the varsity’s postgraduate courses, nearly 70 per cent of students these days are girls. PU’s ten constituent colleges have more than 9,000 girl students compared to about 6,000 boys, according to a latest report. Unlike in the past, most faculties also now have several women teachers. Besides, colleges in Patna long considered ‘male bastions’ have converted into co-educational institutions over the past 15 years. “This is a welcome change. It reflects women’s rising desire to make greater socioeconomic contributions,” said PU registrar Rabindra Kumar.
Health hub faces queries from HC
Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), Bihar’s largest government-run super-speciality healthcare centre, has been in the news for the wrong reasons. Even as the number of patients seeking treatment keeps rising, PMCH authorities have failed to utilise critical resources provided by the state government. Three expensive ventilators imported from South Korea were found kept idle in the storage unit of the surgical ward for two years. Similarly, a TMT equipment used for cardiac patients was not put to use and kept in the medicine ward for two years. Patna High Court appeared stern while hearing a PIL on this matter. A division bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Rajeev Ranjan Prasad directed PMCH to explain the reasons for such acts in the next two weeks.
Crackdown on illegal brick kilns
With the banks of the Ganga, the brick production hub in Patna district, reeling under pollution for years, Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) has asked 17 brick kilns to stop production. The crackdown is part of the state government’s wide-ranging efforts to reduce industrial pollution. In the recently presented Budget for 2018-19, the state government said all brick kilns in Bihar have been asked to shift to cleaner technology by August this year. Brick kilns so far operating on the fixed chimney bull trench (FCBT) technology, which consumes more coal, are getting converted to zigzag kilns, which reduces the emission of suspended particulate matter (SPM) such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide particles. “This conversion will make a lot of difference,” said PCB chairman Ashok Kumar Ghosh.
Anand ST Das