| Chief minister Nitish Kumar felicitates Gaya district magistrate Balamurugun D on Thursday. Picture by Suman |
Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday honoured 368 social activists, administrative and police officers for their “commendable” job during the 17-day Pitripaksh Mela and the 25-day Haj pilgrimage schedule.
At a function organised at Ekta Bhavan on the Gaya College premises, 180 personnel were honoured for their role during the Mela and 188 for their service during the Haj pilgrimage. Nitish said around eight lakh pilgrims arrived in Gaya this year to perform pinddaan rituals seeking peace for the souls of their ancestors, while 6,180 people went on the Haj pilgrimage from across the state.
It is for the first time that a chief minister honoured policemen for their commendable service during the Pitripaksh Mela and the Haj pilgrimage. Nitish presented a certificate and shawl to the personnel.
Those who were honoured include zonal inspector-general Sushil Khopde, Magadh division commissioner R.K. Khandelwal, deputy inspector-general of police Bachchu Singh Meena, district magistrate Balamurugan D., senior superintendent of police Nishant Kumar Tiwari and city superintendent of police Chandan Kushwaha.
The state government provided a grant of Rs 40 lakh this year to the state Haj committee for the Haj pilgrimage. Though demands have been made on several occasions in the past, Nitish has never inaugurated the Pitripaksh Mela. The government has initiated steps to ensure a permanent arrangement for the pilgrims arriving in Gaya to offer pinddaan throughout the year in general and during Pitripaksh in particular.
Under the plan, 17 ghats will be constructed along the Falgu. Also, beautification and cleaning of 16 ponds in Gaya town will be done. For drinking water facility in Gaya, the state government has sought a loan of Rs 160 crore from the Asian Development Bank. Apart from this, the twin cities — Gaya and Bodhgaya — will be developed in view of huge tourist and pilgrim inflow.
The chief minister also visited the world heritage, Mahabodhi Mahavihara, in Bodhgaya. He reviewed the ongoing work on the Mahavihara campus, including increasing the height of the boundary wall towards the western and the southern ends, the security arrangements that have been enhanced in the wake of July 7 serial blasts. He instructed officials to develop the southern portion of the Mahavihara into a park.
During the function organised at Ekta Bhavan, Nitish also laid the foundation stone for construction of 3,691 slum-housing units, including 1,691 in Gaya town and 2,000 in Bodhgaya. The housing units in Gaya will be constructed at a cost of Rs 44.59 crore under the integrated housing and slum development programme.
Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation, the construction agency of state urban development department, will construct the houses in Gaya town. In Bodhgaya, the housing units will be constructed at a cost of Rs 54.57 crore.