5 crore people in Bihar form 18,000 km human chain; 2 die

Patna: A 55-year-old government teacher and a woman died in Bihar while taking part in a human chain organised by the Nitish Kumar government on Sunday, officials said.

Mohammad Daud died at Keoti area in Darbhanga district while a woman, whose identity is yet to be ascertained, died in Samastipur district. “Both died of heart attack,” Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar told reporters.

An ex-gratia amount of Rs 4 lakh each will be paid to the family of the two deceased. The human chain was led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan.

“In January 2017, a human chain was formed by 3.5 crore people for total prohibition and in January 2018, another chain to campaign against the dowry system and prevent child marriages was formed, which covered 14,000 kms. But today’s human chain extended to over 18,000 kms,” according to the chief secretary, Dipak Kumar.

Kumar said bad weather did not deter enthusiasts who started joining the human chain from early morning. Movement of vehicles on the bridges over Ganga was stopped at 6 am as the human chain extended to Mahatma Gandhi and Jayaprakash bridges on Ganga’s eastern and western banks.

He said the state government had requisitioned 15 helicopters and small planes from Mumbai for videography of the human chain, but only seven could be used as cloudy weather proved an obstacle. The administration used over 100 drones for aerial photography.

He claimed details of expenses on the human chain were not available, but  Rs 16 crore was spent on creating awareness for the campaign.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had addressed  public meetings at 16 places and visited all 38 districts since December 3 last year to January 10 this year seeking people’s support for the human chain for better environment called Jal, Jiwan Hariyali. Unofficial sources today claimed Rs 200 crore was spent for the human chain.

According to the chief secretary, Patna with a participation of  27/87 lakh people topped the list of  districts with higher participation. Next was Samastipur at 27.81 lakhs, Muzaffarpur 24.57  lakhs, Saran 24.33 lakhs and Rohtas at 23.24 lakhs.

Students and teachers of Patna University and Patliputra University joined the human chain outside their colleges and lawyers of Patna High Court on Bailey Road opposite the high court. All government officers, employees, village level employees too joined the human chain in their respective areas.