The Telegraph
Tuesday , February 4 , 2014
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Bonfire, heater & tea relief in durbar chill

Severe cold conditions have forced chief minister Nitish Kumar to take the help of a bonfire while listening to people’s complaints at his weekly janata durbar.

The day cold condition prevailed in the city on Monday and the impact was quite visible at Nitish’s 1 Aney Marg residence where senior officials were also seen installing heaters near them.

Nitish himself was wearing a long coat with a muffler. “This kind of cold is usually found till the third and last week of January but not in February,” said Nitish on the sidelines of the durbar.

Even the numbers of complainants were less compared to other days when at least 1,000 people visit the durbar on first Monday of the month in which cases related to police and revenue departments are heard. Today, hardly 716, including 216 women, complainants came up on Monday.

Nitish also expressed his concern over the turn-up and said: “The number of complainants was less today because of cold. If the weather was normal, more people would have turned up.”

Normally, Nitish finishes his durbar at 5pm on other days but he finished it at 3.45pm on Monday after the 10.30am start.

Initially, he did not use bonfire but at 2.30pm he felt its need and the staff brought it and kept it near his chair. Since the beginning, one heater was kept near the chair of Nitish’s principal secretary Anjani Kumar Singh, secretary Atish Chandra and special secretary Sanjay Kumar Singh.

One heater was also kept near the chair of director-general of police Abhayanand. Other senior police officers tried to beat the bone chilling cold with hot tea served on every table for four times. Some even had to take more.

Patna district magistrate N. Saravana Kumar said: “The Celsius seems to have dipped further. If the situation persists, I think schools should be closed. Tuesday is already a holiday for Saraswati Puja.” While putting his signature on the application of one complainant, Saravana said: “It becomes difficult to even sign.”

Even the complainants were served tea on regular intervals and were found wrapped in shawls. Bijendra Singh of Supaul district, 270km northeast of Patna, said: “It was really tough for me to travel so far. The cold is killing me.”

The Met office has claimed that people would get respite from cold after two days.

Ashish Sen, director, India Meteorological Department (IMD), Patna, said: “One can expect better weather only after Thursday as day cold condition will continue till then. Layer of moisture above eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar has blocked sunrays and it will only enter once the moisture evaporates.”

On the other hand, this janata durbar would in all probability is the last one before the general elections as Nitish would be out of station the next Monday and the third Monday durbar would be cancelled because of the Assembly budget session. The fourth Monday is dedicated to party workers and after that the election model code of conduct would probably be in place.