In new-look Bihar, herbs take over cowsheds at 1 Anne Marg

It's been over a year since the change of regime took place in Bihar. The change is nowhere more visible than at 1, Anne Marg, the official residence of its chief minister. The cowsheds reminiscent of the 15-year Lalu-Rabri regime are long gone and the sprawling fields surrounding the bungalow have been planted with herbal and aromatic plants.

"We have planted around 160 different varieties of herbal and aromatic pants in the compound," says AK Mishra, Nodal Officer (Medicinal and Aromatic plants). Mishra along with two other employees of the Agriculture Department have been specially deputed to cultivate these non-conventional plants and fulfil a long cherished desire of the new occupant: Nitish Kumar.

Though planted only in June last year, the fields are already in a stage where they can supply seeds to farmers, who can in turn take up commercial cultivation of the plants.

From 1990 to 2005, the fields of this bungalow used to house around 200 cows, apart from potato fields and other traditional crops planted by the family in power. A portion of the field was also used as playground by the children, especially a cricket pitch for the two sons.

But now the cows and dung mounds have disappeared. The cowsheds have been replaced by a new structure where the CM holds his Janta ka Darbar and the potato fields transformed into a herbal garden.

In the fields behind the bungalow, nameplates clearly indicate the plant species and the ailment it cures.

"We have got over 100 plants from states like Karnataka, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh," points out Mishra. It even has the prized American sunflower, obtained courtesy a bureaucrat's relative in the US. Sarwagandha (an ayurvedic replacement for sleeping pills), Kalmegh (for liver ailments) and Gurmar (medicine for diabetes) are

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