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Nitish Kumar’s human chain programme in trouble as Opposition, teachers boycott

He has been making fervent appeals to the masses to conserve greenery and water while telling them to join in large numbers to ensure the next generation lives with peace and comfort.

Manoj Chaurasia | Patna |

The much-publicised human chain programme of the Nitish Kumar government for environment conservation appears to have run into deep trouble with around four lakh contractual teachers and the main opposition RJD announcing to boycott the programme even as the inclement weather has already put a big question mark over its success. The programme is to be organised on 19 January.

For the past one month, chief minister Nitsih Kumar has been making extensive tours of the state in this chilly winter to make the human chain programme over Jal-Jivan-Hariyali (JJH) campaign a grand success. He has been making fervent appeals to the masses to conserve greenery and water while telling them to join in large numbers to ensure the next generation lives with peace and comfort.

However, the programme, which is being billed as the biggest “show of strength” by the chief minister ahead of the coming assembly elections due later this year, appears to have come under troubles with a series of hurdles lined up on the way. The first setback came when the main opposition RJD headed by jailed leader Lalu Prasad announced total boycott of the programme.

“None of the RJD leaders will be joining the human chain of the Nitish Kumar government. The real purpose is not to the save environment but to divert the people’s attention from serious issues, such as the falling law and order situation, academic chaos and poor economy,” state RJD president Jagadanad Singh said.

He even alleged large-scale loot of funds in the name of the green campaign adding the plan had been timed to arrange funds for the ruling parties to fight elections. The state government has announced to spend Rs 24,500 crores on the implementation of JJH campaign.

The second biggest setback came from the striking contractual teachers who not only have announced a boycott of the programme but even moved the Patna High Court on Thursday over the issue. As such, the Education Department had issued a letter asking all schools—from Primary to Plus two level—to be open on 19 January which falls on Sunday, a weekly holiday, but the teachers have moved the court, challenging the education department’s order.

“We can’t be compelled to join the human chain,” a striking Bihar Teachers’ Association leader Anand Kaushal told the media on Thursday. The teachers are demanding equal salary for equal works in the state for long.

The pressures on the government to make this programme a success can be underlined from the fact that the government this time has issued a circular asking all students even from the primary sections to attend the human chain, though voluntarily. Previously, the schools from the primary section—Class One to Four— had been kept out of this programme. As per the government circular, the primary section children will join the human chain to be formed in the school premises whereas the students from the senior sections will go out of the schools to join the human chain.

This time, the human chain will be 16, 200 km long. The first human chain formed in 2017 against alcoholism was 11, 292 km long whereas the second human chain formed in 2018 against dowry and child marriages was 14, 000 km long. In the previous human chain programmes, the RJD had participated.