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TMC MP Tapas Paul’s bail denied, sent to 3-day CBI custody

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A special court here today rejected the bail plea of Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Paul, arrested for his alleged involvement in Rose Valley Chit Fund scam, and sent him to three-day CBI custody.Paul was produced in the court of Special CJM, CBI, P K Mishra.Against it plea for a five-day remand of Paul, the court allowed CBI to take him into custody for three days. The cine star-turned politician was one of the directors of the tainted chit fund group that allegedly duped investors in Odisha, West Bengal and some other states.Paul is also accused of promoting the company and “misleading” people to deposit money in the firm. He was also charged with giving senior posts to his family members in the company, a senior CBI official said.In its charge sheet submitted in the court on January 7, CBI had accused the ponzi firm of duping investors of Rs 17,000 crore, of which Rs 450 crore is from Odisha alone. The company was active in Odisha and had 28 branches in the state.Paul was brought from Kolkata in the morning and taken to the CBI state headquarters. From there, he was sent to the Capital Hospital for medical examination before being produced in the court.CBI sources said a special investigation team led by DIG N K Singh, CBI Superintendent of Police, Bhubaneswar, Rajeev Ranjan and investigating officer will interrogate Paul.

Red Corridor operations: CISF to get additional manpower for countering Maoist threat

April 2009: Eleven Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel were killed battling more than 200 armed Maoists while protecting Asia’s largest bauxite mine Nalco in Damanjodi, Odisha.

May 2012: Six CISF jawans were killed in a Maoist ambush, while on duty at the country’s largest NMDC iron ore mines at Kirandul in Bailadila, Chhattisgarh.

Between 2009 and 2012: Twenty CISF were personnel killed in 21 attacks in Naxal-infested zones in Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

The figures reflect gravity of the threat that the CISF personnel face while guarding the government’s economic installations in the Red Corridor spread across Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the control of which is vital for the economy of the region.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

A recent order of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that has increased the ceiling of CISF manpower to 1.8 lakh from the current 1.45 lakh is a shot in the arm for this industrial security force in their war against red terror. Besides, an increase in manpower, the two additional battalions — one of which is likely to be posted in the Maoist hotbed Bastar in Chhattisgarh, has been sanctioned.

Of the 49 CISF units across the country, 11 are in these hyper-sensitive Maoist zones, known as SRE (Security Related Expenditure) districts. While there are two units in Bastar, the CISF has an inspector-general (IG) rank official posted in Jharkhand, who oversees 19 units spread across Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha.

Following the Centre’s stand towards zero-tolerance against terrorism, the CISF has given a major thrust on countering Maoist attacks on economic activities. As a result, a chunk of the additional 35,000 CISF personnel will be deployed in Naxal areas.

The Naxal threat looming over the economic installations like mines, steel and power plants, gas pipelines, rail tracks, etc in the Red Corridor and on the CISF can be judged from the fact that the newly appointed director general, CISF, OP Singh immediately after assuming his office in September this year, made his first visit to Kirandul to take stock of the situation.

The Red Corridor is a region that experiences considerable Left Wing Extremists (LWE) or Maoist insurgency and is spread across 10 states. Over the years, the number of districts coming under the Red Corridor has increased.

Though securing airports and Metro rail stations are part of the CISF agenda, safeguarding the production units in Maoist-infested zones is of paramount importance for the force.

“This increase in manpower will help the CISF to strengthen its operations in Red Corridor, as we’re guarding the economic sector in this zone. Our men have risen to the occasion by not only providing security to installations against LWE but also in managing a big public domain — thousands of staff members working in the industrial sector, by proving safety and security to them,” Singh told Firstpost.

The CISF will strengthen its existing anti-terror operations, give specialised training to its jawans, track landmines and monitor mechanism. “Protecting all the industrial centres in the Red Corridor is one of the top priorities of the CISF. Chhattisgarh is one of the most important Naxal-infested states. It’s very difficult and challenging to monitor due to its large terrain and forest areas. Jharkhand is another state, where the CISF is protecting the uranium mines in Jadugoda and the coal mines of Central Coalfields Ltd,” he added.

Following frequent Maoist attacks on government and non-government establishments in the recent past, the importance of the CISF has become inevitable.

According to an MHA source, the central government has been monitoring the incidents of terror attacks and reviewing the threats to economic installations in the Red Corridor for over a long period. “Considering these factors, the Centre envisaged handing over the security arrangements of sensitive and major establishments to the CISF. Based on the request from the CISF, now the manpower ceiling has been increased and it’ll be a big boost to the force,” the source added.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 20:01 IST

IIMC faculty sacked for allegedly backing Dalit labourers, objecting to appointment of course director

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An academic associate at Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) was terminated by the institute allegedly for raising voice against the sacking of 25 Dalit labourers working at the campus and against the recent appointment of a course director. The institute has also debarred him from entering the campus premises, saying it would “vitiate” the peaceful atmosphere.According to Narendra Singh Rao, who was working as a contractual employee at the institute from 2012, he had been abruptly thrown out of the institute while he was on medical leaves. “I have been victimised for raising voice against the sacking of 25 Dalit employees working at the campus. Also, I objected the illegal appointment of a course director as she was neither qualified nor experienced for that post,” Rao told DNA.The institute, however, denied the allegations saying Rao’s termination was completely based on clause 1 of the service contract, which says that “services of the employee can be terminated at anytime without assigning any reason”.“Shri Rao while accepting appointment had duly put his endorsement on the terms and conditions of his appointment,” the institute said in a statement.A letter issued to Rao by the institute on December 21, said that his services were terminated with “immediate effect” under clause 1 of the contract signed by him on September 23, 2013. It, however, stated that he would be paid salary of one month in lieu of the notice period.According to sources at IIMC, the administration had received complaints against Rao, accusing him of propagating indiscipline at the campus. “As many as ten written complaints were received against Rao for misbehaving with his colleagues and trying to disturb the peaceful environment at the campus,” they said.This is the second incident of its kind in a year, where a faculty member has accused IIMC of curbing voices of dissent on campus. Earlier this year, an associate professor at IIMC, Amit Sengupta, had also resigned from the institute after he was transferred to Odisha, for allegedly supporting students of JNU, FTII and speaking about the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula at HCU.“IIMC has turned into a playground for right-wing forces where any voice other than that is being silenced,” Sengupta said. According to him, Rao has also become a victim for raising voice against the right-wing forces prevailing on campus. “Because of his academic qualification and his immense popularity among students, he had become a thorn in the flesh of an institute which is driven by the utter mediocrity,” he said.Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) is one of India’s premier institute for journalism. Besides Delhi, it has five other branches in Odisha, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala.

Election Commission announces Odisha panchayat polls dates

Tue, 27 Dec 2016-10:51pm , Bhubaneswar , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Odisha Election Commission on Tuesday announced dates for panchayat polls in the state. As per the notification issued by the commission, the elections will be held for the posts of 853 Zilla Parishad Members, 6802 Sarpanchs, 6801 Panchayat Samiti members and 92,052 ward members in five phases on February 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21 respectively.State Election Commissioner Rabi Narayan Senapati said aspiring candidates can file nominations between January 11 and 17 and the scrutiny of the papers will be done on January 18. He said casting of votes would take place from 7 AM to 12 noon and counting of votes will be done from 1 PM onwards on these days. Around 2, 60, 92, 507 voters will exercise their franchise in the elections.

Odisha: H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza Virus confirmed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fishries, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has informed the Odisha Government regarding the confirmation of H5 N1 strain of Avian Influenza virus in Keranga village of Khordha district of the state.The samples from the said epicenter were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal who confirmed on December 25 that the aforesaid samples were found positive in RT-PCR and Real time RT-PCR for H5 N1 strain of Avian Influenza virus.The state was intimated of the positive results on December 25. The state was requested to carry out the control and containment operations as per “Action Plan of Animal Husbandry for Preparedness, Control and Containment of Avian Influenza (2015)” which was circulated to the states by the Government of India in March, 2015.It is also available on Department website (www.dahd.nic.in) under link: Animal Health-Bird Flu. Therefore, control and containment measures as per above Action Plan on Avian Influenza needs to be carried out by the state. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was also intimated in the matter.

President Mukherjee, PM Modi congratulate DRDO scientists on Agni-V test

India successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable, inter-continental ballistic missile Agni 5, that has a range of over 5,000 km. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi today congratulated the DRDO scientists on the successful test-firing of nuclear-capable intercontinental missile Agni-V, saying it will add tremendous strength to the country’s strategic defence.”Congratulations DRDO for successfully test firing Agni V. It will enhance our strategic and deterrence capabilities,” Mukherjee tweeted after the test-firing of India’s most lethal missile from Abdul Kalam island off Odisha coast.The Prime Minister credited it to the hardwork of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and its scientists.”Successful test firing of Agni V makes every Indian very proud. It will add tremendous strength to our strategic defence,” he said.It is the fourth developmental and second canisterised trial of the missile, which has a range of over 5,000 km.

Odisha: One student killed, 10 injured in bus accident

Mon, 26 Dec 2016-01:40pm , Nayagarh , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least one person was killed and 10 others injured on Monday after a picnic bus carrying students met with an accident near Maichheli village of Odisha’s Nayagarh district.The untoward incident took place in the wee hours on Monday when the students of Binapani coaching centre were going for a picnic.The injured students have been rushed to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. As per the reports, three students, who were seriously injured were referred to Bhubaneswar.The deceased student has not been identified as yet.

Bhubaneswar: Eight traffickers get life in prison for torturing & chopping off labourers’ hands

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight human traffickers found guilty of torturing and chopping off the hands of two labourers have received life prison sentences and hefty fines, a prosecutor said on Sunday, hoping the severity of the punishment would deter others.Prosecutor Dhirendra Nath Patra said the court in Bhubaneswar heard how the traffickers chopped off the hands of Nilambar Dhangdamajhi and Dayalu Nial in Odisha state on December 15, 2013.The two men were among of a group of 12 labourers who had taken money from labour agent Parvesh Duni in exchange for working for him but quickly realised he had trapped them.When the men found out they were being taken to Andhra Pradesh in southeastern India instead of Chhattisgarh state in central India as expected they tried to escape but were caught and locked up for hours before their hands were chopped off.News of the torture and confinement triggered widespread outrage and made national headlines in India which is estimated to have the highest number of modern day slaves of any country.Dhangdamajhi died on September 21 this year after years of illness.”Under the sentence Parvesh Duni and other traffickers will serve a life term in prison. They will also have to pay fines,” the prosecutor told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “This is a lesson for all.”Amidst the publicity, in 2014 the Supreme Court intervened and asked the Odisha government to fast track charges against the traffickers and provide rehabilitation for the two men whose stories are typical of many trapped in debt bondage in India.Modern slavery has become a catch-all term to describe human trafficking, debt bondage, forced marriage and other slave-like exploitation with an estimated 46 million people in slavery around the world.Dhangdamajhi was 32 when he took a loan of 14,000 rupees ($209) from labour agent Duni and agreed to work at a brick kiln in 2013.But he was taken to a paddy field, kept under house arrest and made to work for his traffickers who demanded he pay back the advance taken by all 12 labourers if he wanted to go home.Dayalu, who was 17 years old at the time, earlier told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that they were asked if they would rather have their hands or legs chopped off not agreeing to the new terms of contract.Patra said nine men were accused of the abuse and eight of these were arrested and were now in jail.A ninth man absconded ahead of the hearing that started in October last year and finished in March this year but he had been arrested recently and would now face trial.Authorities have freed around 282,000 workers trapped in bonded labour in 18 states in India since 1978, according to government data, although non-government organisations question these figures and the real extent of debt bondage in India.

Odisha: Maoists kill one, torch seven vehicles in Koraput

Odisha: Maoists kill one, torch seven vehicles in Koraput

Dec 24, 2016 14:38 IST

#Koraput #Maoist #NewsTracker #Odisha

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Koraput (Odisha): Maoists murdered the husband of a naib sarpanch in Odisha’s Koraput district and torched at least seven vehicles engaged in road works, police said on Saturday.

A group of Maoists attacked G Appa Rao’s house at Kotubu village, bordering Andhra Pradesh in Pottangi area late on Thursday night and dragged him out charging him to be a police informer.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

They then reached the road construction and set seven vehicles on fire, the police said adding Rao’s body was found on Friday.

Police recovered few Maoist posters of Koraput-Malkangiri-Srikakulam division of CPI (Maoist) in Odia and Telegu from the site.

The Maoists through the posters opposed the construction of a 4.5 km PMGSY road from Upper Goloru to Pedapadu in the area and warned three villagers of dire consequences if they supported the work.

Brushing aside allegations that the killed person was an informer, Koraput SP Charan Singh said probe into the incident is on.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 14:38 IST

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Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik should listen to farmers or BJD’s poll calculations could go awry

Farmers’ protest never gained as much steam. Recently in Odisha, more than 4,000 farmers under the banner of NavaNirman Krushak Sangathan, tried to congregate in Bhubaneshwar on 14 December to press for their three-point charter of demands – price, prestige and pension. However, even before they arrived in the city, many of them were driven back and the rest were apprehended by the police. NKS is a farmers’ body that has no political affiliation.

Fifty platoons were on their toes not to allow the farmers enter the city precincts, leave alone reach the venue or agitate in front of the assembly that was in session. The DCP was so threatened to maintain discipline that he shot off a letter to the government that farmers’ behaviour during the protests could be embarrassing and lawlessness might rule the roost. His advisory worked and the farmers were hoarded into police vans as soon as they stepped into the city.

Through the year, these crop producers have been organising rallies in various district headquarters alleging raw deal from the government in assuring them proper pricing for their produce, security in the form of pension and recognition for their contribution to the state’s economy. Their demands included proper fixing of minimum support price, subsidy and sufficient mandis to keep their produce safe.

Stray incidents of farmers’ suicides have trickled in from some parts of the state over the years but because the situation has not been as bad as in other parts of the country, no heed was paid. The agriculture minister feigns ignorance about anything affecting the farmers and easily passes the buck saying these issues don’t come under his ministry’s purview answering a question in the recently concluded assembly session. The minister and the ministry are not even aware about the number of farmers in the state.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. PTI

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. PTI

While some surveys put the figure at more than 45 lakh, the agriculture census shows 32.79 in 2010-11. Add to it the Odisha Economic survey that puts the figure at 41 lakh. Going by the survey, the total number of cultivators is 67.4 lakh who make for 23.4 percent of the total workers.

At a time when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, too good at citing figures in interviews about his government’s “achievements”, leaves no opportunity to boast that the state that was recording -7.02 percent annual growth rate in the field of agriculture in 2000-2001 when he took over, has reached 13.24 percent by 2014-15. The state government, with pride, projects an average growth rate of agriculture and allied sectors in the state at 4.12 percent as against Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal which are at 4.11, 3.05 and 2.38 percent, respectively. Even the comparative productivity of foodgrains is shown to have grown 18.9 percent from 1950 till 2014, according to the Directorate of Agriculture and Food Production, Odisha.

Isn’t it imperative then for the government to look into the demands of the people who have made this “achievement” possible? Instead, it decided to throttle the same farmers who had come to the city to talk about their rights. The issue rocked the Assembly with the Opposition members staging walkout the same day. The House was adjourned and members protesting the decision of arresting scores of farmers including the advisor NKS, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, went to the governor to seek his intervention to release the farmers. Barring two leaders of the Sangathan, others were released the same evening.

It is shameful since the state that has been bagging the Krishi Karman award for productivity for consecutive years, does not allow the people behind the effort, into the capital city.

However, the members of the NKS have continued their agitation by wearing black badges and decided to be on a hunger strike on 3 January and intensify the stir it if the government still does not give them their due.

With the rural poll bugle sounded for February 2017, these incidents do not augur well for the Naveen Patnaik government. Calculated leniently, the 40-odd lakh farmers have the capacity to make the BJD’s poll calculations go awry.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 11:20 IST

‘Impossible’ to implement SC order on shifting liquor shops : Odisha govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Odisha government on Monday said it was “impossible” to implement the Supreme Court order to shift liquor shops to at least 500 m away from national and state highways.”It is impossible to move liquor shops 500 metre away from the highways. There are usually villages, temples, mutts located 500 m away from the highways. People will object to liquor shops there. How can one open liquor shops? These kind of issues will come up in large numbers,” Excise Minister Damodar Rout said. Rout, who had earlier said that total prohibition was an “impractical” idea, said, “It may so happen that most liquor shops won’t apply for licenses under such a condition,” he said. Meanwhile, Odisha Liquor Sellers’ Association decided to convene a meeting of its managing body to discuss the subject.”We will call a managing body meeting over this issue,” secretary of the association Prabhat Das said.Excise officials said the state’s excise revenue collection would be “severely hit” if liquor shops are shifted 500 m away from the highways. While the excise collection in 2015-16 was Rs 2,568 crore, the state government expected an additional Rs 800 crore in the ongoing fiscal. Besides, demonetization has already made a visible impact on liquor sales across the state, they said.Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha has said it will be difficult to shift the liquor shops.There are above 500 such liquor shops across the state located within 500 m from the highways, official sources said.

Atrocities against SC, ST: BJP-ruled Rajasthan tops list, UP follows

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP-ruled Rajasthan has reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against SCs and STs during 2013-15, followed by poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, a new government report said, even as the Centre today flagged the issue of poor conviction rates in such cases. Rajasthan has registered 23,861 cases under the amended Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, while UP and Bihar registered 23,556 and 21,061 cases respectively, according to the agenda papers for a meeting of a committee to review the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 held here today. Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil and Gujarat reported 14,016, 9,054, 8,084, 7,565, 6,546, 5,131 and 3,969 such crimes respectively during the years.The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment observed that during 2013-15, only 43.3% of the total cases registered (13,8077) were disposed of by courts and 25.7% of total cases disposed of by courts (59,779), ended in conviction. “In certain states, i.e. Andhra Pradesh (6.3%), Gujarat (3.1%), Karnataka (3.5%), Maharashtra (7.6%), Odisha (4.3%), Tamil Nadu (7.5%), Telangana (7.5%) and West Bengal (3%), the conviction rate was in single digit,” the agenda note read.The committee headed by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot sought action taken report from state governments to improve the disposal and conviction rates in such cases. During the meeting, Gehlot pointed out that only 14 states have set up exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases registered under the PoA Act.However, he rued there was no information about formation of such courts by 22 states and Union Territories including Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam etc and urged them to do the needful.Section 14 of the amended PoA Act provides for establishing of exclusive special courts for one or more districts and where number of cases under this Act is less, specification of Court of Session as a Special Court, with powers to take direct cognisance of the offences under the PoA Act.The Committee also wanted to know if the relief amount, that has been raised and made between Rs 85,000 to Rs 8,25,000 depending upon the nature of offence, is being given within seven days to the concerned persons as specified in the PoA Rules amended on April 14, 2016.

Indira Gandhi sold out India by ignoring Chavan’s call for demonetization in 1971: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said Indira Gandhi rejected suggestions for demonetization in 1971, saying she wanted to win elections, but that resulted in poor economic condition in the country. Alleging that Indira Gandhi sold out India by ignoring advice to demonetize, Prime Minister Modi said, ‘She told her finance minister Y.B. Chavan: are no more elections to be fought by Congress’’ Stressing that the implementation of demonetization policy was required in 1971, but it was implemented now, the Prime Minister, hitting out at the opposition at the BJP Parliamentary Party meet, said, ‘For the Congress, party is bigger than nation; but for us, the nation is above the party.’As the nation observed Vijay Diwas , offering respect to the soldiers, who laid down their lives during the 1971 India-Pakistan war that resulted in the birth of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Modi said ‘The opposition in 1971 did not ask for a proof of the army’s valour, but today’s opposition does.’ He criticised the opposition for demanding the proof of a Surgical Strike carried out by the Indian armed forces that dismantled seven terror launch pads across the border on September 28-29 as retaliation to the Uri terror attack. Stating that demonetization is the first step to curb black money and corruption, but not the last, the Prime Minister said, ‘Corruption is our main target and it will not be long before normalcy returns after the 50-day period.’ He also thanked Chief Ministers of Odisha and Bihar for supporting demonetization. PM Modi rips into Parliament logjam Prime Minister Narendera Modi ripped into the Opposition over Parliament logjam, saying unlike earlier when opposition parties stalled the House against scams, Congress-led parties are now doing so against government’s steps to curb black money and corruption. Modi’s remarks at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting came on the last day of the Winter Session, which has been a washout due to impasse over demonetization.Targeting Congress, the Prime Minister alleged that it has always put its interest over that of the country while for BJP the nation’s interests are supreme.He again pitched for digital economy as he appealed to the masses to adopt it as a “way of life” to rid the society of corruption and black money.Attacking former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been unsparing in his criticism of demonetization, Modi said he advocated strong measures against corruption and black money but did “nothing” during his rule of 10 years.He also cited late Left stalwart Harkishan Singh Surjeet to support his government’s action.”Earlier the ruling side, especially Congress, would commit scams like 2G, coal-gate, Bofors and the Opposition would then unite and fight against it on the principle of honesty.”But now the ruling side, the BJP-led NDA, has started a campaign again black money and corruption and opposition parties are standing against it,” he said.Modi also noted that the Wanchoo Committee in early 70s had recommended demonetization when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister, recalling that the then senior Left leader Jyotirmoy Basu had demanded its quick implementation, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters following the meeting.”The Wanchoo committee had said it will boost economy. Now after 45 years we have done demonetization but Congress is opposing it. The Left has also joined hands with Congress,” he said.Painting Congress as a “votary of corruption”, he said it had made a law against benami assets in 1988 but never notified it or framed rules and regulations, ensuring that the legislation never came into force.”For us, the country’s interests are always above the party’s. For Congress, party’s interests are above the country’s,” the PM said.On a day that marks the anniversary of Bangladesh’s liberation, Modi also targeted the opposition over its remarks on the army’s surgical strikes.The Opposition in 1971-72 did not seek evidence of the army’s valour unlike that of today, he said.With inputs from PTI and ANI

India’s landmark forest rights law hobbled by conflicting policies: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A landmark Indian forest rights law passed 10 years ago with the aim of protecting indigenous people has been crippled by conflicting legislation, and a lack of political will and funds to ensure its implementation, according to a report.More than a fifth of India’s population were expected to benefit from the 2006 Forest Rights Act covering vast areas of forest land roughly the size of Germany.Instead, only 3 percent of potential community forest rights have been granted so far, and conflicts between states and indigenous communities have been rising as demand for land increases in the world’s fastest growing major economy.”(The law) has the potential to conserve forests and biodiversity (and) improve local livelihoods,” Neema Pathak Broome, a researcher with rights group Kalpavriksh, said in the report released Tuesday by a citizens’ advocacy group.”Unfortunately, due to a lack of political will and intentional efforts to undermine the law, this vast potential for democratic forest governance remains unrealised.”In the decade since the law was passed, the federal government and several states have introduced other laws that sometimes run counter to the Forest Rights Act.For example, a new federal law introduced in July that compensates for deforestation ignores the rights of indigenous people and the requirement for consent of the village council for use of forest land, activists said.The Ministry of Tribal Affairs, which is charged with implementing the 2006 law, is “understaffed and under-resourced”, while state forest departments are largely “hostile, at best apathetic” in implementing it, the report said.The western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, the eastern state of Odisha and the southern state of Kerala lead in recognising community and individual forest rights, the report said.States including Assam, Bihar, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have lagged behind, it said.As well as conserving forests, the law has the potential to secure livelihoods, promote women’s rights and contain conflicts in areas hit by violent extremism, it said.The government needs to mobilise political support and funds for its implementation and strengthen the Tribal Affairs Ministry and state agencies, the report said.”The biggest stumbling block is that there’s very limited understanding of the Forest Rights Act, even within the government,” Tushar Dash, from advocacy group Vasundhara, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”They believe granting forest rights obstructs development, and are instead giving forest lands for industrial use. But it’s been established that protecting forest rights encourages development and helps conservation efforts far more.”

India’s landmark forest rights law hobbled by conflicting policies – report | Reuters

By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A landmark Indian forest rights law passed 10 years ago with the aim of protecting indigenous people has been crippled by conflicting legislation, and a lack of political will and funds to ensure its implementation, according to a report.More than a fifth of India’s population were expected to benefit from the 2006 Forest Rights Act covering vast areas of forest land roughly the size of Germany.Instead, only 3 percent of potential community forest rights have been granted so far, and conflicts between states and indigenous communities have been rising as demand for land increases in the world’s fastest growing major economy.”(The law) has the potential to conserve forests and biodiversity (and) improve local livelihoods,” Neema Pathak Broome, a researcher with rights group Kalpavriksh, said in the report released Tuesday by a citizens’ advocacy group.”Unfortunately, due to a lack of political will and intentional efforts to undermine the law, this vast potential for democratic forest governance remains unrealised.”

In the decade since the law was passed, the federal government and several states have introduced other laws that sometimes run counter to the Forest Rights Act.For example, a new federal law introduced in July that compensates for deforestation ignores the rights of indigenous people and the requirement for consent of the village council for use of forest land, activists said.The Ministry of Tribal Affairs, which is charged with implementing the 2006 law, is “understaffed and under-resourced”, while state forest departments are largely “hostile, at best apathetic” in implementing it, the report said.

The western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, the eastern state of Odisha and the southern state of Kerala lead in recognising community and individual forest rights, the report said.States including Assam, Bihar, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have lagged behind, it said.As well as conserving forests, the law has the potential to secure livelihoods, promote women’s rights and contain conflicts in areas hit by violent extremism, it said.

The government needs to mobilise political support and funds for its implementation and strengthen the Tribal Affairs Ministry and state agencies, the report said.”The biggest stumbling block is that there’s very limited understanding of the Forest Rights Act, even within the government,” Tushar Dash, from advocacy group Vasundhara, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”They believe granting forest rights obstructs development, and are instead giving forest lands for industrial use. But it’s been established that protecting forest rights encourages development and helps conservation efforts far more.” (Reporting by Rina Chandran, Editing by Ros Russell; @rinachandran, Editing by Ros Russell. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 00:03 IST

Odisha: 4 people, including 2 babies, dead as boat keels over

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least four people, including two babies, died, while around 25 others were rescued after a boat ferrying them capsized in the Chilika Lake in Odisha’s Ganjam district on Saturday. The incident occurred about two km from the shore when the motorised fishing boat on its way to Ghantasila from Sabulia, carrying 29 persons, sank in the lake after losing balance, a police officer said. Those onboard the boat were going to Ghantasila for a picnic after attending a wedding on Friday at Sabulia.Local fishermen and boatmen fished out the bodies of four persons, including two children, while almost rest of all on board the overloaded boat were brought to the shore by the rescuers and are being treated in hospitals, Ganjam District Collector PC Chaudhury said. While 15 persons are being treated at MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur, the rest are admitted to hospitals in Rambha and Khallikote, he said, adding their condition is stable.Teams from Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and fire brigade personnel were pressed into service for the rescue operation, Chaudhury said, adding local fishermen and police personnel were engaged in searching the missing people. Apart from the district collector, IG of police (Southern Range) Amitabh Thakur and senior officials rushed to the site to supervise the rescue operation.Expressing grief over the incident, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced Rs 4 lakh ex gratia for families of each of those killed and free treatment of those affected. The district collector said preliminary inquiry showed the motorised boat was meant for fishing and not to carry any tourist or passenger. “A probe will be conducted and action initiated against the guilty,” he said.The boat had the capacity to carry 10 to 12 persons, and had equipment for fishing in the lake fitted, a police officer said. Meanwhile, a case has been registered against two boatmen, Dutia Mallick and Bideshi Mallick, for illegally transporting people, Additional Superintendent of Police Gupt Mahakud said.

Odisha man nabbed for chopping up lover’s body

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a sickening tale of love gone wrong, a jealous lover is believed to have not only murdered his partner but severed her upper and lower body parts in order to avoid detection and dumped them in nearby drains. Delhi police officials say that the crime, committed in a fit of passion, took nearly a week of painstaking detective work to solve. On December 3, acting on a call to the PCR Police Control Room, police discovered a body of a 43-year-old woman dumped in a drain near Captain Gaur Marg in Amar Colony. On reaching the location, they found the upper body part of a woman chopped up an in an air bag. The next day, on December 4, another PCR call led police to another drain near a temple in Sriniwaspuri. The two body parts were matched up in an AIIMS mortuary and then a case was registered. Senior officials said that it was not easy going to nab the accused but their persistence paid off. The photograph of the woman, along with thousands of posters, was circulated in the south Delhi area, asking people to come forward with any information that they might have.A manhunt was then conducted which involved door-to-door searches in the south Delhi area. On December 5, police officials noticed a tea shop near the East of Kailash area which had been shut for the last three days. On further enquiry, they found the tea shop was owned by the murder victim who resided in a rented room at the Dasghara colony in Garhi.Further enquiries revealed that the victim had been in a live-in relationship with a man from Odisha identified as Balram. Police sources claim that they arrested Balram from a nearby park and that he had confessed to murdering the victim.Asked as to the motive for the murder, officials revealed that Balram had told interrogators that he had been living with the victim for the last eight years, and around three years back he had moved back to Odisha to be with his family. In October, he returned to Delhi and again started living with her. However, he suspected that she was having illicit relationships with other men as well.“On the intervening night of December 1, he quarrelled with her, and both of them started accusing each other of having illicit relationships. The following day, he hit her head and back with a hammer. He then cut her body in two parts, stuffed them in a bag, and threw them in different drains. He then told neighbours she had gone to her village in Chennai,” said DCP (South-East) Romil Baniya.The DCP added that a hammer and knives of three different sizes used in committing the crime had been recovered by the police. Further investigations revealed that Balram had used a saw (used for cutting pipes) to cut up her body.The victim has a son who works at a Reliance Fresh store in Chennai.

Odisha: Malta Fever detected in cows, one-third blood samples test positive

Odisha: With at least 66 out of the 200 blood samples of cows sent for laboratory tests testing positive for Brucellosis (Malta fever), the Koraput administration has taken steps to prevent spread of the disease in the district.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Random blood samples from cows were drawn for the laboratory tests and 33 percent of the total blood samples were detected with Brucella abortus bacterium,” CDVO (Koraput) SK Takri said.

“The disease was found from the blood samples mostly drawn from cows of Jeypore, Koraput, Damanjodi, Sunabeda and Semiliguda areas,” he added.

According to the CDVO, the disease caused by Brucella bacteria occurs as result of ingestion of unpasteurized milk or under-cooked meat from infected animals, or close contact with their secretions. Cattle are infected from polluted cattle feed or from other infected animals.

Sudden fever with shivering, joint pain, back pain, headache and inflammation of spleen are some of the symptoms of the disease which primarily infects livestock. Spread of the disease from cow to human is yet to be proved.

Ensuing hygiene in cattle sheds is one way to prevent infection in cattle.

Officials said they have been screening cows for the past few years for Brucellosis but there were very few cases.

But the recent laboratory tests of blood collected from 200 cows show that the disease is fast spreading in the district.

“While the affected animals will be kept isolated to stop spreading of the disease, female calves aged between 4 to 8 months will be vaccinated to ensure that they are not affected by the disease,” Takri said.

“Also, awareness will be spread among the cattle owners to take necessary steps to ensure that their animals are not affected by the disease,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 16:02 IST

Mahanadi water dispute: Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik moves Supreme Court

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday said the state has sought an injunction from the Supreme Court against Chhattisgarh’s “unilateral” constructions on the Mahanadi river. war-zone

The suit was filed under Article 131 of the Constitution on 2 December.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. PTI

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. PTI

The injunction sought was against the continuation of construction of ongoing projects and future projects in the upper catchment of the river, Patnaik informed the Odisha Assembly during the zero hour.

He said the “illegal actions” of the Chhattisgarh government in “unilaterally planning and constructing projects and barrages would spell socio-economic and ecological hazard” to Odisha and its inhabitants.

He also said that the state government would take all out action to protect the interest of Oriya people.

“We have claimed as part of our equitable share a minimum flow of 12.28 million acre feet of Mahanadi water at Hirakud dam as per the DPR of Hirakud project of 1947 and a further utilisation of 3.67 million acre feet in the surplus flows,” said Patnaik.

He said the state government had filed a statutory complaint on November 22, before the Centre under Section three of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956, for the constitution of Inter-State Tribunal to resolve the water dispute between the two states.

It had urged for the constitution of a tribunal to adjudicate the water disputes arising from unilaterally planned utilisation of 27.48 million acre feet of Mahanadi water by Chhattisgarh as against a total availability of minimum flow in Mahanadi river of 20.61 million acre feet.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 18:20 IST

Make in Odisha receives Rs 2 lakh crore investment intent

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government today said it has received investment intent of Rs 2,03,270 crore in ten diversified sectors during ‘Make in Odisha Conclave’, which has the potential to generate more than 1.38 lakh additional jobs in the state.

File photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTIFile photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTI

File photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTI

“We are delighted with the response for this first ever conclave that we have organised. I hope to have continued support of industry for the overall socio-economic development of our citizens and position Odisha as the manufacturing hub of the East.

“The state government has decided to organise this conclave biannually as a stepping stone towards realising our Vision 2025 for the industrial development of the state,” Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said.

The state has received investment intent worth Rs 2,03,270 crore in sectors including fertiliser, petro chemicals, food processing, health, infrastructure, IT and ESDM,, metal and minerals, manufacturing, textiles and tourism, during the event that concluded today.

The major investors in the state are NTPC, MCL, SAIL, Tata Steel, Adani, JSPL, PPL and IOCL.

“Odisha should look to becoming a manufacturing hub by producing value added products instead of supplying raw materials and it (will) generate employment,” Union Minister of state for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal said.

“When I took over as a minister, one of the first instructions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to look east. The focus of development has to be on eastern states
including Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, North East and Bihar.

“It is the considered view of the government that unless the eastern part of the country progress we cannot visualise a better India. It is very important that eastern states take rapid steps to make up for lost space in development,” Goyal added.

He further said that by 2018, every village in Odisha will have electricity.

“By May 2018, every village in Odisha will be connected with electricity. I am happy to say that things are in progress,” the minister said, adding that state will use coal cess to expand renewable energy.

“We will help Odisha to come in the map of major states to have renewable energy,” Goyal said.

Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said Eastern India, including Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal will be connected with natural gas pipeline.

The Centre is also planning an investment of Rs 13,000 crore in Odisha, he added.

Meanwhile, Odisha is expecting an overall investment of over Rs 30,000 crore in the urban development sector in next 5-7 years.

The state is planning to develop 86 projects, with a total investment of Rs 77,108 crore, over the next five years under the national smart city challenge for Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, G Mathi Vathanan, Commissioner-cum-Secretary said.

The Bhubaneswar Plan has 50 projects worth Rs 4,537 crore, of which Rs 2,725 crore are likely to be invested through PPP mode, while Rourkela Plan has 30 projects worth Rs 2,571 crore of which Rs 334 crore is expected to be invested through the PPP mode.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 20:24 IST

102 deaths in two months: What mystery disease is preying on children of Odisha’s Malkangiri?

“I will not go to medical,” said four-year-old Shanti in a feeble voice to her father. Shanti and her father are members of the Koya tribe, inhabitants of Odisha’s Malkangiri district. It’s a dreary time for the community; over a hundred children have died in the last two months, suffering from an unknown disease.

Image used for representational purposes only. ReutersImage used for representational purposes only. Reuters

Image used for representational purposes only. Reuters

But if it’s a tough time for the community, spare a thought for Shanti’s father, who has lost two of his children to the same disease, and now has a third daughter suffering. “Two of my children died in medical. What if the third one also meets the same fate?” he choked.

The child’s resistance against hospitalisation didn’t last long; District magistrate K Sudarshan Chakrabarty had the ailing child under medical care soon enough. It has become a part of his administration’s daily battle against the unknown disease, that is now spreading among the tribals.

“The district administration is dealing with the abrupt rise in child death cases in the tribal villages of Malkangiri for the last three months. Despite the administration’s efforts, however, fear still persists among the people,” says R Srinivasan Rao a social activist from the region. “The first child death was reported on 9 September. Though only 102 deaths have been reported till now, the actual toll could be higher,” said Debabrat Sana, a journalist from the region.

If there is a mismatch between the official government figures and actual deaths in the region, it’s because several tribals rely on traditional medicine to meet with their health requirements, said Rao. “Most of the people in the village don’t go to hospitals. Rather, they visit the local ojhas who purportedly treat them with mantras. Deaths occurring during such treatment are seldom reported,” he said.

Dr Kalyan Kumar Sarkar, additional district medical officer, added that several patients are being admitted with symptoms similar to Japanese Encephlitis. “Among patients admitted to the hospital, 36 were found to be Japanese Encephelitis positive,” Sarkar said. “But strangely, even patients who were not Japanese Encephalitis positive were showing similar symptoms. The cause of their ailments was not found,” the doctor added.

These patients who are suffering symptoms similar to Japanese Encephalitis are said to be ailing from the “Acute Encephalitis Syndrome”. Malkangiri has become the hotspot for Acute Encephalitis Syndrome as well. “Scientists from across the country and abroad as well visited the district to enquire into the new health condition,” Sana said.

But a team of scientists, led by Dr E Jacob James from a hospital in Tamil Nadu, came up with a novel interpretation of the riddle that said a seed that Malkangiri villagers pluck from the wilderness and eat might have caused the unexplained symptoms. “The seed is known as Chakunda among the people here, and is found to have toxic properties. Eating this may result in Japanese Encephalitis-like symptoms and also cause abrupt glucose deficiency, which could be fatal,” Sarkar said.

But very few villagers believe in this interpretation, instead saying that Chakunda seeds have been a part of the food habit of local tribes for a very long time and nobody ever discovered it to be lethal. “Chakunda seeds are used as pulses by the tribes here for a long time and are known to have medicinal properties. How can it be toxic all of a sudden?” Rao asked.

Rao said this explanation is only meant to cover up the government’s failure in providing health facilities to the poor tribals of the district. “If Chakunda seeds are indeed causing these deaths, then why are only malnourished tribal children dying?” he asked, adding that it’s actually a “classic case of the government’s neglect of Odisha’s tribals”.

Even Sana, himself a resident of the district, admitted that he’d never heard of people dying because they ate Chakunda seeds.

But Sarkar has a possible answer. “Chakunda seeds grow in the wilderness after September every year and people eat it. Deaths have been happening this time of the year for a long time. But this is the first time cause of these deaths have been ascertained,” he said.

Dalit Camera, a website that provides data about issues affecting villagers, said 7,493 children have died in the area since the year 2012, including 128 in the last two months. But locals take this figure with a pinch of salt.

Whatever be the interpretations of the spate of child deaths rocking this remote village in Odisha, fact remains that the district administration has taken two pronged approach to face this challenge. “Since Japanese Encephalitis has also been detected in a number of patients, we are trying our best to create awareness among the people to prevent spreading of this virus. Apart from that, other interventions have also been initiated. In the second approach, for instance, we have publicised the ills of Chakunda seeds, and warned people against ingesting them,” Sarkar said.

Moreover, there are many who refuse to have their children admitted to hospitals given a mistrust of medicine and also considering the many number of deaths that have taken place. However, for some, like four-year-old Shanti, who survived because of timely medical intervention, medicine can also be a boon.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 17:35 IST

Demonetisation day 21: SBI branch in Imphal vandalised; woman killed over dowry in Odisha

The Opposition observed Jan Aakrosh Divas to protest against the demonetisation move and the Left-dominated Tripura and Kerala went for Bharat Bandh, on Monday, affecting banking services in these two states. However, banks across the country stuck to normal banking hours.

Many ATMs are still running dry despite recalibration of more than 60 percent of such cash-dispensing machines. There are also reports that banks in major metros are getting less than their cash requirement leading to chaos at the branches. And though bank branches across the country reopened to very short queues after a two-day break on Monday, news updates of day 21 since the demonetisation of higher denomination notes show that there were more than reports of cash shortage at some locations.

Congress leader dies during protest march

Gwalior District unit chief of the Congress party Darshan Singh, 56, died of cardiac failure on Monday while taking part in the Jan Aakrosh march to protest the demonetisation decision of the central government.

Some Congress workers taking part in the protest march said the march began from Phoolbagh around noon. They walked up to the office of the Divisional Commissioner and submitted a memorandum there.

It was after this that Singh complained of chest pain. He was taken to the hospital where doctors declared him dead.

Currency exchange gang busted

Police have arrested seven members of a currency exchange gang and seized Rs 8.20 lakh in valid notes from them, a senior official said. Allegedly, the gang was involved in exchanging banned notes on commission basis for valid currencies in Peddapalli district.

Acting on a tip-off about the gang, a Police Sub-Inspector, G Vijender, was sent as a decoy customer looking to exchange old notes worth Rs 11.50 lakh for new ones to one of its members, Poorna Chandra Sekhar, said K Vijayender Reddy. Sekhar promised Vijender to give valid notes of Rs 8.20 lakh in exchange of banned currencies of Rs 11.50 lakh and asked him come to Peddapalli railway station to complete the deal, he said. But the moment Sekhar and six of his gang members reached the spot, they were apprehended.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Customers vandalise SBI branch

Angry customers vandalised an SBI branch on the campus of Manipur University in Imphal on Monday after the bank refused to let people withdraw Rs 24,000 each. Although police reinforcements rushed to the bank, no arrest was made. Normal bank work was disrupted, witnesses said.

The State Bank of India manager said the trouble started when two customers demanded Rs 24,000 each — the maximum a person can take out from the bank every week after demonetisation. When it was pointed out that senior bank officials had declared that such big amounts could not be withdrawn, they turned unruly and did not allow bank work to continue. However, an SBI customer, said people who had been queuing up from early in the morning became furious when they were informed they could take out only Rs 2,000 each from their savings accounts. Sensing the mood, the SBI said they could take out Rs 4,000 each. “But the bank will be closed once the cash runs out,” one officer told the crowd. On hearing this, the account holders started vandalising the office, the witnesses said.

Newly-wed Odisha woman killed

A newly-married woman was killed by her in-laws in Odisha’s Ganjam district as her father failed to give dowry of Rs 1.70 lakh in new currency, the state police said on Monday.

Prabhati of Rangipur village married Laxmi Nahak of the same village on 9 November, a day after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes was announced. Her family had earlier agreed to give Rs 1.70 lakh in cash as dowry. However, when her family offered the money in old demonetised notes on the marriage day, the groom’s family refused to accept the money and instead demanded new notes within stipulated time. Prabhati’s parents said her in-laws killed her on Sunday as they did not get the new notes in dowry, the police said. Inspector Alok Jena, who heads the Golanthara police station, said a case of dowry death has been registered.

Indian expats in UAE affected

Expatriates in the UAE are finding it difficult to send money to their families in India due to the continuing cash crunch caused by demonetisation, according to a media report, by Gulf News.

The cash crunch has badly hit rupee remittance transaction to India through bank transfers and instant cash transfers, according to the staff at some money exchanges in Abu Dhabi. Moreover, the situation has deprived Indian expatriates of an excellent opportunity to cash in on a record low exchange rate of rupees, it said. North Indian villages, especially where access to banking system is limited, mainly depend on instant cash transfers, have taken a hit.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 14:15 IST

Demonetisation: ICICI bank sets up mobile branches to reach out to unbanked villages

New Delhi: To reach out to unbanked villages, private lender ICICI Bank has deployed mobile branches in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Odisha to help customers meet their daily financial needs conveniently, post demonetisation.

A man walks past the ICICI's headquarter's in Bombay October 25, 2001. ICICI Ltd, the leading Indian financial services company and ICICI Bank, country's largest private bank annouced on Thursday they are merging, creating the nation's first universal bank, or one-stop provider of all types of financial services. REUTERS/Arko Datta AD/AA

Reuters.

“The deployment of the mobile branches is yet another step by the bank to expand its reach to villages which are devoid of banking facilities.

The mobile branches are catering to over 25,000 rural customers, helping them meet their daily financial needs in a convenient manner,” ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar said. “This initiative is in line with the bank’s commitment to extending banking services to the remote locations of the country.”

Taking the nation by surprise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 November announced the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes, making these notes invalid in a major assault on black money, fake currency and corruption.

Since 9 November, ICICI Bank has deployed mobile branches across 21 villages in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Over 90 per cent of the villages are unbanked. These mobile branches offer a wide range of banking products and services such as savings accounts, loans, cash deposit/withdrawal, account balance enquiries, statement printing and fund transfer, among others.

First Published On : Nov 27, 2016 16:18 IST

What has Naveen Patnaik done in last 17 years: Amit Shah attacks Odisha govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Holding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik responsible for the “backwardness” of Odisha, BJP chief Amit Shah on Friday called upon the party cadre to ensure the “end” of the BJD government in the state which had “failed to meet the basic needs of the people”.”While many states have developed in a few years, Naveen Babu’s government has failed to provide drinking water, electricity, health and education to the people. Odisha remains the same as it was a few years back. What has Naveen Babu done in the last 17 years for the development of Odisha,” he told the gathering at the BJP’s ‘Jana Jagaran Maha Samabesh’ here. Dubbing the plight of Dana Majhi, who carried his wife’s body on his shoulders for 10 kms from the hospital after being denied a hearse, as a “shame”, Shah said the youth from Odisha migrated to other big cities in search of work as the government had failed to give them employment. Rejecting the BJD’s allegation of Centre’s negligence towards the state, the BJP chief claimed that the Centre had given Rs 1.3 lakh crore to Odisha in the last two-and-a-half years.While the previous UPA government had given Rs 23,000 crore to Odisha in 2013, the NDA government has sanctioned Rs 63,000 crore in 2016. From Rs 764 crore in the 2013 rail budget, the amount has reached Rs 4,682 crore in 2016, he claimed. The Centre, Shah said, has announced to spend Rs 20,000 crore for the development of the national highways in Odisha of which, Rs 4,500 crore was meant for the coastal roads. A huge amount was given to the state for the development of rural roads, waterways, electrification, health, education and other sectors. The Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has planned investments of Rs 33,000 crore in Odisha, while Nalco was engaged in developing the peripheral areas of Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri, he said.”The BJD government is not letting the benefits of the Central schemes reach the common man,” Shah said and urged the people to “uproot” the state government in the next election. He also urged the people of Odisha to change the BJD government as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “for the development” of the eastern state. Development is certain wherever the BJP is in power, Shah said and cited the instances of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana. Union ministers Jual Oram, Dharmendra Pradhan, Odisha BJP chief Basanta Panda and BJPLP leader KV Singhdeo were among those who attended the programme.

Odisha added in Japanese Encephalitis high-burden states this year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After at least 31 of over 93 children that had contracted Encephalitis or brain fever in Odisha were confirmed to have died of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) virus, the Union Health Ministry has decided to roll out vaccination in four districts of the state. The vaccination drive for JE for children uptil fifteen years of age in Malkangiri, Kokrajhar, Jajpur and Mayurbhanj will occur after the state declares that the outbreak has ended. A team of officials from the Immunization department at the centre visited Orissa last month to assess the readiness of the state to conduct a vaccination drive. A population of up to 25 lakh children under the age of 15 years are slated to be immunized within two weeks, later this year, but only after Odisha declares that the outbreak has ended.India imports JE vaccine from National Biotech Group’s Chengdu Institute in China since 2006 after first cases surfaced in Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh. One vial of injectible JE vaccine costs upto Rs 150 and contains five doses. “This vaccine contains live virus. It cannot be administered during an outbreak as we do not know it’s mode of interaction with the wild virus that is dominant in the region currently. Only after the outbreak has subsided that we can inject the vaccine into the community,” said Dr Pradeep Haldar, Deputy Commissioner, Immunization at the Health Ministry. Once a person is vaccinated it takes up to 4 to 6 weeks for the immunity against JE to set in. “If a person contracts the virus during the month of being vaccinated, community will blame it on vaccination, saying the infection occured due to immunization. This has happened in the past,” Dr Haldar said. A person at any age can be vaccinated against JE, however the disease burden is high in children uptil 15 years, with 90% of cases being reported in children uptil five years. Children are being immunized against JE in 199 districts of 18 states currently. After the recent spate of deaths, Odisha is the 19th state to be added to the list of high-burded JE states, this year. In 2015, India saw 1609 cases of JE of which 279 (17.34%) patients died.According to National Health Profile between January to December in 2014, Odisha had recorded 990 cases and 116 deaths due to Encephalitis. In 2015, Odisha recorded the highest cases of Encephalitis at 1451 and up to 118 deaths. However, no cases were recorded under the category of JE. “Not all cases of Encephalitis necessarily turn out to be cases of JE. In Malkangiri, we are seeing an atypical presentation of cases post-monsoon, this year. This has never been seen before,” Dr Haldar said. “Given poor testing facilities for samples and limited period of survival it has been tough to confirm cases of Encephalitis as JE, but there was no harm in immunizing children in the past,” argued a state health official at Orissa. “We have been asking for vaccines since 2012, it is only now that we will recieve them. This is a huge medical debate. We cannot consider vaccination until state confirms cases of JE and reports to the centre,” said Haldar. An expert panel of doctors constituted by the state are probing other causes of death and said that five patients may have developed brain fever after consuming a plant – ‘bana chakunda,’ which is deemed to be toxic. Japanese Encephalitis in India: In 2015Cases – 1609Deaths – 279Case Fatality Ratio – 17.34%High burden states in 2015 Cases Deaths Assam 614 135West Bengal 342 75Uttar Pradesh 351 42(Source – National Health Profile, 2016)Pigs and wild birds are hosts of the virus. Japanese Encephalitis Virus is spread by infected mosquitoes of Culex species. It infects humans when an infected mosquito bites the humanSymptoms include rapid onset of high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, seizures, spastic paralysis and ultimately death. Of those who survive, 20%–30% suffer permanent intellectual, behavioural or neurological problems such as paralysis, recurrent seizures or the inability to speak.JE has no treatment, preventive vaccination can help

Odisha: 12 lakh seized from the house of recruitment agent

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In two separate incidents, Odisha Police arrested a youth on charge of circulating fake Rs 2,000 notes and recovered Rs 4.8 lakh stocked in the newly-introduced denomination post the Centre’s demonetization move.Madhusudan Meher of Jharsuguda was arrested while he was trying to use the fake currency at petrol pump in Sunarimunda, a senior police officer said. The petrol outlet staff handed him over to the cops. “The note is a colour photocopy of an original Rs 2,000 currency. A case has been registered at the Jharsuguda police station and investigation is underway,” Sub-divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Jharsuguda, Bijay Nanda said.Meanwhile in Bolangir district, police seized over Rs 12 lakh from the house of a recruitment agent of migrant labourers, popularly known as ‘dadan sardar’ on charge of stashing huge amount of cash. The police raided the house of Khirasagar Bag, a dadan sardar at Tingra village under Saintala police station limits last night and seized Rs 12,75,900, Bolangir SP Asish Singh said.
ALSO READ Demonetization | Businessman detained with Rs 12 lakh cash at Goa-Karnataka borderSingh said though they raided house of Bag on a tip-off about fake notes but the police could not find any. Out of the total amount recovered, Rs 2,000 notes were also stored which totaled upto Rs 4.8 lakh, he said. “The police were investigating as to how Bag could arrange so many Rs 2,000 notes while people stand in lines to get cash from banks and ATMs,” Singh said.Police suspected that the man was using local people to get demonetised notes exchanged for new the Rs 2,000 notes in different banks. Bag, however, he could not be arrested as he absconded before the raid took place, police said.

Japanese Encephalitis: Children death toll mounts to 96 as Odisha plans vaccination

Bhubaneswar/Malkangiri: Less than 24 hours after the Odisha government claimed that the Japanese Encephalitis was under control, three more children died of the disease in the tribal-dominated Malkangiri district, taking the death toll to 96.

Three children, including two girls, died while receiving treatment in the ICU of the District Headquarters Hospital at Malkangiri, additional district medical officer K K Sarkar said.

He said that the total number of children facing the risk of death in the tribal-dominated Malkangiri district had gone up to 96 within a span of two months.

Japanese Encephalitis has killed 98 children in Odisha. PTI

Japanese Encephalitis has killed 96 children in Odisha. PTI

Odisha’s health and family welfare minister Pradip Kumar Amat, however, refused to admit that the 96 children had died of JE. Amat insisted that the JE death toll remained at 32 because the children were dying because of other reasons like malaria. “The JE is well under the control,” Amat said.

Meanwhile, hospital sources at Malkangiri said that the condition of three more children admitted in the ICU of the district headquarters hospital was also critical.

The hospital received as many as 328 children during the last two months, of whom 222 have been cured, Sarkar said, adding that eight other children are receiving treatment in the JE ward.

The vaccination in the first phase will be done in the districts of Malkangiri, Jajapur, Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj. The children in the age group of one to 15 years will be vaccinated, Health and Family Welfare Secretary Arati Ahuja said.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 23:24 IST

Demonetisation: Lack of lower denomination notes affects farming, construction activities

Berhampur (Odisha): Demonetisation of high denomination currency notes has badly hit agricultural and construction activities across Odisha, as cash-starved farmers are finding it hard to pay agricultural labourers, who are demanding wages in advance, that too in Rs 100 denomination.

People in Ganjam district said that they do not have enough cash to give to daily wage labourers.

Sudhir Rout, a farmer from Baiganabadi on the outskirts of Berhampur city in Ganjam district, said that he failed to pay the wages to labourers engaged in cutting crops.

ATM_AFP

Rout is in a fix as labourers are refusing to accept old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and he does not have enough Rs 100 notes to distribute among them.

Rout is not the only farmer facing such a problem. Several of them across the state are struggling to purchase ration, pay dues to agriculture labourers and manage various other expenses.

Another farmer from the district is facing a tough time in convincing labourers to work in his field. Due to this problem, he could not even complete harvesting. He had gone to a nearby market to withdraw money from the ATM, but it was not functioning.

The farmer tried to exchange money from the bank, but it handed him a Rs 2,000 note.

“What will I do with the new note? I struggled to change even Rs 1,000 note,” he said.

“Now the paddy crop is in harvesting stage but no one is ready to come and work unless I pay the wages in advance and in Rs 100 denomination,” said Rout.

The demonetisation crisis also affected construction activities in different areas. With labourers reluctant to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, people are seen struggling to secure Rs 100 notes to continue the construction work.

Several house owners have been forced to stop such activities.

“I have stopped construction work for the last three days as I do not have notes of smaller denominations to pay daily wage labourers,” Manoj Padhy, an advocate from Brajanagara in Berhampur, said.

First Published On : Nov 15, 2016 16:58 IST

New Delhi: City welcomes specially-abled International artists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This is the first time that Australian national Joanna, 20, a visually challenged artist, is visiting India. And she is not alone. Artists from as many as 15 countries around the world have gathered in the Capital for Sambhav — a three-day festival dedicated to specially-abled artistes.“I’m both excited and nervous at the same time,” said Joanna, who had started learning music at the age of eight. Now, she and four other artists have brought a slice of Australian music to the national Capital.Organised by NGO Association for Learning, Performing Arts and Normative Action (ALPANA), Sambhav, an initiative to celebrate the artistic abilities of specially-abled people, kicked off at the India International Center on Sunday.“Sambhav was started in 2006. Initially, we invited participants from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations. Gradually, we started inviting participants from other nations as well,” said ALPANA president Alpana Nayak, adding that this year, the participating countries include Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and Kenya.The festival will comprise a variety of performances from multiple nations, right from Bhutanese music to unique dance forms of Myanmar. “We are performing different dances from Myanmar and Burma, with the music on guitar,” said Brant, 18, a visually challenged artist from Myanmar.A three-member team of artists has come from Vietnam as well. “We have prepared Vietnamese music and dance performances for Sambhav this year,” said Khinkh from the country.A painting exhibition is also a part of the offerings at the festival. “We have some really talented hearing-impaired and mentally challenged students at the NGO who made these extraordinary paintings,” said Alka Aggrawal, who teaches painting and crafts at the NGO.Abhinav Rana, a partially-blind artist said: “I love playing with watercolours, though I can’t see them clearly. My muses are sky, sea, trees and rain.” From inside the country, teams have come from Odisha, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, among other states. “On Monday, our artistes will perform a fusion dance form, portraying 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu,” said Sushmita Rautray, who has come with a team of six from Odisha.According to Sambhav organisers, they are are creating a space for the specially-abled people to present their views, ideas and experiences through the media of art and performances. “We don’t believe in ‘helping’ the specially-abled. They don’t need help. They are as much a part of society as we are. All we need to do is to hold their hands and walk along with them,” said ALPANA vice-president BK Das.All praises for the effort, Nitisha Sharma, a visitor said: “It was a wonderful experience to see the artists performing with such confidence and vigour.”

Odisha: Parents on hunger strike until third child recovers from Japanese Encephalitis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fearing that their third child would meet the same end after their other two children became victims to Japanese Encephalitis, the distraught parents in Odisha’s Malkangiri have been on a hunger strike ever since their child has been admitted to hospital.After their initial reluctance over admitting their child in the hospital, Sudrashan Padiyami and Sumitra finally agreed to Malkangiri’s District Magistrate Sudarshan Chakravarthy, who persuaded them to do so.”I have told to the District Magistrate that until my child returns safe and sound we will not eat and drink,” Sudrashan Padiyami told ANI.Following this, several women organisations met the parents to share their grievances.One of the local organisations named ‘Maa’ has started protesting outside the district administration demanding immediate preventive measures to tackle the rising menace.Odisha has been the worst victim of Japanese Encephalitis outbreak where more than 80 children have fell victim to the deadly virus.So far 505 villages in the tribal dominated Malkangiri have been affected due to Japanese Encephalitis.

Malkangiri encounter: Ill-fated peace talks in 2004 with Andhra govt reason behind recent bloodbath

The process of eliminating the agrarian uprising led by Left wing extremists in rural Andhra Pradesh that began in October 2004 has almost concluded 22 years later — on 24 October, 2016. The cold blooded encounter at Janti village of Malkangiri district of Odisha on the upper part of the Balimela reservoir had taken a toll of 30 armed Maoists, almost wiping out the rebels’ leadership in the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) region, termed as the last post of the CPI (Maoists). The location was just 30 kilometre north west of the region where Maoists had, eight years ago, blasted a boatload of Greyhound commandos on a combing operation with a rocket, killing 36 of them.

The revenge attack by anti-Naxal elite commandos in the last week of October in AOB, was more gruesome and cold blooded than the Maoist attack. The ultras were chased for over 12 hours in daylight and gunned down. Four fleeing Maoists, who were elderly and injured, were hacked mercilessly. ‘Show no mercy’ was the clear order of the Greyhound commander to his men before they began the raid in the wee hours of 24 October, catching most of them in their bed or while attending nature’s call in fields with their weapons an arm’s length away.

The Left wing extremists who began an agrarian revolution six decades ago, have lost over 4,000 cadre and the battle between them and the security forces has taken 9,000 civilian lives so far. The seeds for October’s bloodbath were sown on October 20, 2004, the day the ultras had come out of their hide-outs in forests to conduct ill-fated peace talks, an olive branch offered by the YS Rajasekhar Reddy-led Congress government in united Andhra Pradesh.

The interlocutors between the government and the People’s War Group of CPI (ML) were a band of human rights activists and journalists, who had no experience of dealing with such negotiations. A tragedy of errors unfolded. “It is a loss of a golden opportunity to bring peace in rural India,” popular civil rights activist and mathematics lecturer at Warangal, the late Dr K Balagopal had said at the time. Balagopal had kept himself aloof and watched the developments with a mixture of mistrust and hope.

The Congress government led by YS Rajasekhar Reddy had announced peace talks with Maoists as one of the poll promises in the election manifesto when it romped home to power in 2004 ending the decade-long Telugu Desam Party (TDP) hegemony in the state. YSR, as he was popularly known, had after a marathon padayatra of over 2,000 kms in 2003 had a whiff of ground realities of rural AP, the campaign of the armed rebels and also received support of some of these groups. He was also influenced by a report compiled by a CCC (Committee Of Concerned Citizens) led by respected retired IAS officer SR Sankaran, who, after touring Telangana districts and studying the status of farmers and rural development, had laid threadbare the need for peace in the Telangana districts. “We presented a copy of the report to Rajasekhar Reddy. The CCC report spoke volumes for ground realities and drove both sides to come to the negotiating table, even if it meant disagreement on many issues,” said Sankaran to this reporter in 2004.

After the electoral victory YSR invited the ultras of PWG – the People’s War Group – the biggest Maoist group in AP, for talks within months of taking charge. He set the ball rolling by declaring a ceasefire for three months against the rebels and directed state police forces to not harm them when they came face to face four times in the jungles of Nallamala, Visakhapatnam and AOB. “At least five top guns including Amar, Riyaaz, Sudhakar could not have made it to Hyderabad for talks if we had had our way in the combing operations,” said former DGP MV Bhaskar Rao.

Clumsy And confused beginnings

Neither the PWG leadership nor the Congress party was prepared for the “historic talks”. It took a lot of backroom manipulations by mediators and police officials that made the talks happen and also fail. Police officials wanted to use the situation for gaining reliable data on the Maoists, their hide-outs and also their strengths. The ageing extremist leadership was already losing ground wherever development and welfare activities in rural areas were on an upswing. The attempts of the ultras to stop connectivity – mobile towers, roads, bridges, schools and hostel buildings – was disliked and also protested by the rural populace.

Maoists rally at Uppal Ground in Hyderabad before the peace talks. Image sourced by GS Radhakrishna

Maoists rally at Uppal Ground in Hyderabad before the peace talks. Image sourced by GS Radhakrishna

The Maoists had, overtly or covertly, supported YSR over Chandrababu Naidu in the 2004 elections out of spite against the TDP supremo who had let loose a reign of terror in the jungles of Telangana and AP. Naidu had, in October 2003, survived an assassination attempt by the Maoists – a land mine blast near Tirupati and narrowly escaped.

Maoists had lost three Central Committee members Nalla Adi Reddy ‘Shyam’, Erram Reddy, Santosh Reddy ‘Mahesh’ and Seelam Naresh ‘Murali’ in 1999. A few Special Zonal Committee/State-level leaders such as Anupuram Komaraiah and some district-level leaders such as Polam Sudarshan Reddy, of Warangal and Nelakonda Rajitha of Karimnagar too had been killed during the TDP regime. The PWG had been wiped out from what they term is their flagship guerrilla zone – North Telangana Special Zone (NTSZ).

Then Congress Home Minister K Jana Reddy had told the state Assembly that he would never shake hands with extremists and that he had given freedom to state police to track and eliminate the “PWG menace”. But within two months, he signed an ordinance declaring ceasefire and also stood at the venue of the peace talks meeting to receive top PWG and Janashakti leaders with flower bouquets and garlands. Congress leaders, particularly Telangana leaders who had borne the brunt of extremist attacks, were wary of the YSR experiment. But the CM had convinced them that it would be a jackpot if the government pulled it through and resolve all land issues.

For the Congress party in Telangana, talks with Maoists was a good alternative as party cadres had turned extremist sympathisers in the battle against TDP. “We need to resolve issues with the extremists to bring peace in rural Telangana,” said Sridhar Babu of Warangal, a former minister and son of former Speaker Sripad Rao, who was killed by the PWG. The PWG had hoisted red flags in lands – private, forest and that belonging to the government Endowments Department – signalling that they stood occupied for redistribution among the landless.

However, the team of mediators led by SR Sankaran, KG Kannabiran, Gadar, G Kalyan Rao, and editor P Venkateswar Rao had tried to convince both sides that the peace talks would be in everyone’s best interests. A month ahead of the talks the mediators trekked to Nallamala forests and met Ramakrishna aka RK, secretary of the Maoists’ AP State Committee. “Maoists had a long list of complaints and were firm on keeping arms and countering state terror,” reminisced Pothuri Venkateswar Rao, senior editor who was part of the team of interlocutors.

Maoists come out of forests

Eleven Maoists who walked out of the Nallamala forest on 11 October were given a heroes’ welcome. Clad in camouflage fatigues, with rifles slung over their shoulders, they came out two hours behind schedule at 11.30 pm. Ramakrishna alias Akkiraju Hargopal had an AK47 hanging from his shoulder. A large contingent of police and plainclothesmen and electronic media besides some mediators had received them on the edge of the forest. In a ceremonial guard of honour presented by the Maoist cadre, the leaders returned their weapons to them and waited until the cadres disappeared into thick forests, as this reporter witnessed the proceedings.

With two police jeeps escorting them, the Maoist leaders travelled from Chinna Arutla in the Nallamala forests to Guttikonda near Guntur where they addressed a public meeting in the dead of night in the presence of local MLAs and police. Ramakrishna, who had been a legend for Telangana youth, had come out of the forests after 15 years. He was welcomed by villagers who raised slogans of ‘Lal Salam’ for him. RK spoke about jungle life, his commitment for land reforms and that power came only through the barrel of a gun. Later they were whisked away to Manjira guest house in Hyderabad which became their safe haven for the next four to five days. An entire floor was allocated to the Maoist leaders and mediators too stayed there. Later we were told that some of the 11-member team were actually the personal guards of Ramakrishna.

How the peace talks nosedived

Even before the talks began PWG leaders almost punctured the scope of talks. They released a press statement about the merger of the PWG with another group – MCC – now the CPI (Maoists) had become the largest armed rebel group in India with a presence in 14 states. The new outfit had set its goal to form a ‘Red Corridor from AP to Nepal’. Addressing the media, Ramakrishna also made the stand of the ultras clear — that they would not give up arms and also that they prioritised land reforms over everything. “The CPI (Maoists) would continue the protracted people’s war and the peace talks process would help in taking the movement forward,” he had said, making it clear that war against government was still the philosophy of the ultras.

The Maoists’ press conference took the spirit out of the peace talks and even mediators were speechless. They had hoped to bargain with government and somehow seal a peace treaty.

YSR too was peeved at the directions of Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to not sign any agreement with PWG leaders without approval from the Centre. “The PWG is not just a regional group now. After merger with MCC, they are a pan-Indian group,” Patil told YSR on phone and also sent a team of three Home Ministry officials, including a joint director of the Intelligence Bureau to “assist” the state government in negotiations.

YSR was further informed that the demands list of the Maoists had to be vetted at the Centre and not state level. The state home minister was told constantly to consult the emissaries from the Union Home Ministry. But Jana Reddy was shocked when he learnt that the central agencies had better information about happenings in the convention hall of the Manjira Guest House than his own officials.

This reporter, who interacted with mediators and also senior police officials, found that the outcome of the peace talks was already known to most participants including the negotiators and officials. A face-saving resolution was passed and both parties inked their consent to meet within three months and continue the effort to end violence in rural AP.

maoist-leader-meet-GSRADHAKRISHNAN

Ramakrishna aka RK, secretary of the Maoists’ AP State Committee, meeting with other PWG leaders. Image sourced by GS Radhakrishna

The agreement was violated within two months. “It is against our principle to give up arms,” said Maoist spokesperson Azad. “The Maoist condition that they carry arms but will not use it against police or innocents is hilarious and absurd,” retorted YSR.

Aftermath of peace talks 

The aftermath of peace talks has been cruel to Maoists and to this day they rue having come for negotiations. They curse the mediators, who suffered later and became victims of state terror. “We were riding a tiger, either way, with govt or the Maoists. We tried sincerely in the interests of the rural peace and landless poor who were sandwiched between both,” said Pothuri Venkateswar Rao. Though Venkateswar Rao was spared, others like P Vara Vara Rao and G Kalyan Rao were arrested later and let off after months at Chanchalguda jail over false cases.

Human rights activist and a former secretary of AP Civil Liberties Committee Dr K Balagopal squarely blamed Chief Minister YSR for the failure of peace talks between the government and Maoists. “Dr Reddy always strived to scuttle the process. It is meaningless to tell Maoists that talks are being held to work out modalities for their disarming,” he said.

YSR is said to have washed his hands of the issue after the Centre stepped in and party president Sonia Gandhi urged him to lie low. His loss was that he lost a golden opportunity to consolidate the gains of his welfare measures and gains from the Padayatra.

On 20 October, 2004, when Naxal leaders went back to the forests, they were shown the path into Nallamala forests from Chinna Arutla from the same place where they had come out. Though the talks failed, it was a windfall for police intelligence agencies. “We gathered a lot of information on them individually,” an official told this reporter.

Four months later, on 3 February, 2005, Greyhounds commandos surrounded top Maoist leaders like Ramakrishna in their hideout in the Nallamala forests. As commandos awaited shoot orders from then DGP Swaranjit Singh, the Maoists roped in negotiators and got the government to call off the ambush and allow the Maoists to escape. Escape they did to Chhattisgarh. But the commandos smashed all the dens, arms dumps and informer systems in AP.

The intelligence gathered by the AP police was of great help to the UPA in the campaign against ultras in the north, particularly Chhattisgarh, Jharkand, Bihar and West Bengal. “Since the CPI (Maoists) is dominated by the Telugu speaking cadre, the info provided by AP police was of great help to keep tabs on the ultras in not only Chhattisgarh but also in West Bengal and Jharkhand,” said SRC Kalluri, DG of Bastar.

The Green Hunt campaign in Chhattisgarh brought windfall gains to the state BJP government and also to the UPA. And now, with the Janti village encounter in AOB, the Maoists have been hit hard. “We have lost our AOB leadership and connections with the tribal leaders. But the movement is not dead as the battle for land and livelihood of tribals and Dalits still rages on in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and also Jharkhand, besides AP and Telangana in a big way,” said CPI (Maoists) spokesperson Shyam.

BJP leader Giriraj Singh blames Nehru’s ‘faulty’ education policy for nation’s unemployment woes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Stoking yet another controversy, BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh blamed the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru for “faulty” educational policy which “failed to create required skilled manpower” in the country. “It is unfortunate that policy makers of this country have not been able to create skilled manpower. I do not want to name Nehruji, but due to his faulty policy, the country has only 2.5 per cent of its population as skilled hands, while 96 per cent people are skilled in developed nations,” he told reporters at the sidelines of a function here.”As all of you know it is the education policy that shapes the future of a nation. His (Nehru’s) policies were faulty,” he said, adding the method only educated people but failed to make them skilled and employable.The youths of today need employment and this is the biggest challenge before the nation, the Union Minister of State for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises said.”This is the biggest problem today because India adds the population of Australia every year. Therefore, we need to create skilled manpower in order to make them employable,” he said and asked the people to have faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Modiji will take forward both Odisha and India,” Singh said. The Odisha Congress state unit was quick to criticise the minister’s remarks. “The Union Minister has no knowledge about the first prime minister of the country. This is BJP’s petty politics,” said Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra.

Top Maoist leader Ramakrishna’s wife tells Hyderabad HC he is ‘safe’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Top Naxalite leader Ramakrishna’s wife on Friday informed the Hyderabad High Court that her husband is “safe” and sought the court’s permission for withdrawal of the habeas corpus petition she filed earlier in this regard.”We informed the high court that Ramakrishna is safe and said we got information last night that he is safe. We requested to permit us to withdraw the habeas corpus which is posted after two weeks,” Kandula Sirisha told the court through her counsel V Raghunath.As the matter was not posted for Friday, the high court asked the petitioner to make an application through Registrar (Judicial) seeking to withdraw the petition. The matter is likely to come up for listing on Monday (November 7) and the court will pass an order in view of request by the petitioner.In the wake of an exchange of fire on Andhra-Odisha border on October 24 in which 24 Maoists were killed, doubts were expressed by the wife of Ramakrishna alias RK and relatives and party comrades that he might be in police custody. In the habeas corpus petition, Sirisha sought directions to the Andhra Pradesh government to produce the outlaw before the court and to record his statement for appropriate action.Andhra Pradesh Police on Thursday informed the high court that RK is not in their custody and following submission from the state police, the court had asked the petitioner, to produce before it any material with regard to him and posted the matter after two weeks.A division bench of justices C V Nagarjuna Reddy and M S K Jaiswal had earlier directed the Andhra Pradesh government to file counter affidavit informing the court whether RK was in police custody or not, while hearing the habeas corpus plea filed last week by Sirisha.Responding to the petition, Visakhapatnam Rural District Superintendent of Police Rahul Dev Sharma filed an affidavit before the court that RK, who is a member of the banned Central Committee of CPI (ML), is not in the custody of police. The senior police officer further submitted that the incident of exchange of fire has occurred in the territory of Odisha state and requested the court to dismiss the petition.On Thursday night, in a dramatic turn of events, a frontal organisation of the Maoists, the Revolutionary Writers Association (RWA) announced that RK was “safe”, barely hours after Sirisha alleged in the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad that her husband was in police custody.RWA leader Varavara Rao called Telugu television news channels over phone and announced that RK was “safe” but did not give any details about his whereabouts or condition. The late night announcement brought to an end the 10-day- old suspense and anxiety over RK’s state as there were allegations from Maoists’ frontal organisations and civil liberties groups that he might have been killed by the police in the October 24 encounter on the Andhra-Odisha border. Subsequently, these organisations alleged that RK was being held captive by the police and expressed apprehension that he too might be bumped off in a false encounter.

Naxal leader Rama Krishna not in custody: Andhra Police tells HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Top naxalite leader Rama Krishna is not in the custody of Andhra Pradesh Police, the Hyderabad High Court was, on Thursday, informed by the police.Following submission from the state police, the court asked the petitioner, who is Krishna alias RK’s wife, to produce before it any material with regard to him and gave her two weeks.A division bench of justices CV Nagarjuna Reddy and MSK Jaiswal had earlier directed the Andhra Pradesh government to file counter affidavit informing the court whether RK was in police custody or not, by Thursday while hearing a habeas corpus plea filed last week by RK’s wife Kandula Sirisha.In the wake of an exchange of fire on Andhra-Odisha border on October 24 in which 24 Maoists were killed, doubts were expressed by RK’s wife and relatives and party comrades that he might be in police custody.In the habeas corpus petition, RK s wife Sirisha sought directions to the state government to produce the outlaw before the court and to record his statement for appropriate action.Responding to the petition, Visakhapatnam Rural District Superintendent of Police Rahul Dev Sharma filed an affidavit before the court that the husband is not in the custody of police.”In fact the records reveal that the husband of the petitioner is a member of the Central Committee of CPI (ML), which is a banned Organisation and there are around 40 cases registered against RK at various police stations of Andhra Pradesh.”The police could not apprehend the husband of the petitioner till date in connection with those pending criminal cases,” the SP submitted.The senior police officer further submitted that the incident of exchange of fire has occurred in the territory of Odisha state and requested the court to dismiss the petition.Referring to the affidavit of AP Police that RK is not in their custody, the court told the petitioner, “In absence of material, if you (petitioner) have any material produce it,” after which the petitioner sought time to file reply.The court then posted the matter after two weeks to enable the petitioner to file material, if any with regard to RK.AP Police had on Wednesday informed the High Court that joint teams of AP and Odisha police had to “fire in self-defence”, which resulted in the death of 24 Maoists in Malkangiri district of Odisha area on October 24.

NSUI activists arrested for hurling egg at Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Activists of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) were arrested for allegedly hurling an egg at Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during his visit to Mayurbhanj district, police said on Friday.Four NSUI members, the student wing of Congress, who had shown black flags and hurled an egg at Patnaik during a function at Suliapada government high school on Wednesday, were arrested yesterday.Meanwhile, Congress leader Rakesh Singh condemned the arrests and alleged that NSUI members were beaten up and injured by the BJD workers and demanded action against the persons involved.

Odisha anti-Maoist operation: A look at the top Naxal leaders believed to be among the 24 killed

In one of the biggest and most successful operations against the Naxals conducted in India, at least 24 Maoists were killed in a fierce encounter with security forces in Odisha’s Malkangiri district on the border with Andhra Pradesh.

This was a major blow for the Naxals as some of their top leaders were killed in the operation.

According to The New Indian Express, at least 50 Maoists had gathered for what is believed to be a meeting of the dreaded Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) of the CPI (Maoist). This was clearly an important meeting because Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna was also reportedly present at the meeting but managed to escape.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

This also means that even though 24 Maoists were killed, an equal number of them managed to escape. Nevertheless, the impact of the death of top Naxal leaders will be huge on the Maoists, although the deaths of many of these leaders is yet to be confirmed because many of the bodies are yet to be identified.

According to The Indian Express, Ramakrishna’s son, Munna, was among those killed in the operation. Ramakrishna had made Malkangiri his base of operations earlier and had taken part in peace talks with the then Congress government headed by YS Rajasekhara Reddy in 2004.

Another top Naxal leader who was killed was Gajarla Ravi alias Uday alias Anand. 49-year-old Ravi has been associated with the Naxal movement for the past 26 years, according to The Hindu. He had also accompanied Ramakrishna during the 2004 peace talks.

Another report in The Times of India said that Ravi completed his high school in his native Velishala village of Chityala mandal in Jayashankar district, now in Telangana.

The report added that sources said that after he took admission into Industrial Training Institute in Hanamkonda, he hoisted the red flag in the college campus, after which he was arrested. This inspired his younger brother Azad alias Sariah to join the Naxal movement.

Chalapathi alias Appa Rao is also believed to be dead. He was the secretary of the East Division of the Naxals and carried a reward of Rs 20 lakh on his head. In June, a selfie had landed him into trouble when Vizag rural police managed to recover a photo showing him and his wife Aruna, deputy commander of the Koraput-Srikakulam Division Committee, from the laptop of slain Naxal Azad.

NDTV further reported that other top Naxal leaders killed in the operation were Venkatramana alias Ganesh, Aruna, Daya and Bengal Suresh. Ganesh and Daya had bounties of Rs 20 lakh on their heads. Eleven women Naxals were also among those killed.

The report also said that the number of Naxals killed in this operation is believed to be the biggest ever.

The New Indian Express report quoted a senior police official as saying that Maoists are now clearly “fighting a losing battle”. “What should be understood is that we are currently using the lowest rung of our response teams to tackle them. But if and when we decide to unleash our complete capabilities, they will be no match,” the senior officer said.

Another Firstpost article noted that “the biggest proof of the dwindling clout of the Red rebels in the area is the frenetic pace at which work on a 918 metre bridge over river Gurupriya, a project that has had to be abandoned repeatedly in the last few years due to stiff opposition from Maoists, has been progressing in recent months.”

It also noted that once Malkangiri is freed from the clutches of Naxals, Maoists would have a tough time finding a foothold in Odisha.

With inputs from PTI

As Greyhounds tackle Maoists on Odisha-Andhra border, government must push on

On 29 June, 2008 a team of 65 Greyhounds were on their way back to their base in Andhra Pradesh after an unsuccessful hunt for Maoists on the southern tip of Odisha. Their motorboat had entered the Balimela reservoir when it came under a barrage of fire from the Left ultras. Taking aim from a vantage position in the surrounding forests, they left little scope for the trapped personnel of the elite counter-insurgency to fight back. Finally, a grenade hurled from a launcher sank the boat. As many as 34 Greyhounds went missing.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

It took more than eight years for them to exact revenge. But the killing of at least 25 Maoists in a forest near Odisha’s Malkangiri district on Tuesday would have eased the pain of the long delay. Even sweeter would be the fact that they managed it in the Maoist stronghold where the state virtually ceases to exist. The dead Maoists included two of their top leaders, Chalapathi Rao and Gajarla Ravi, police sources say. The Odisha police too deserve credit for keeping the heat on the Red rebels and assisting the Greyhounds with actionable, pin-pointed intelligence.

However, it would be myopic to view the development as revenge play only. In the long-drawn battle between the Maoists and the state in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, it marks a significant achievement. It is possible that an entire ‘dalam’ – one of the several armed Maoists units operating in the area – has been wiped out in the operation. This means a severe blow to the ultra-Left movement in the region. In 2014, Sabyasachi Panda, one of their top leaders operating in Odisha was arrested in Ganjam district of the state. In 2013, the Odisha police had shot dead 13 Maoists in Malkangiri.

The latest killings suggest that the near impenetrable Red Corridor of the ultras maybe under threat of breach. Sustained pressure from the governments of Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh with active backing from the central government has started yielding results. Encouraged by the declining Maoist activity in the last couple of years, the government at the centre, according to media reports, has been mulling taking around a fifth of the 106 districts in the Red Corridor spanning 10 states out of its most affected list.

In Maharashtra there are signs of considerable weakening of the Maoist support base; it is similar in West Bengal, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. A combination of government initiatives — Rs 30 crore a year for development in Maoist-affected districts — and effective police action leading to the arrest of several top leaders of the outfit has left it debilitated. It does not help that there’s a general loss of sympathy for the Maoists. Not many are convinced that they are fighting a moral battle in the forests by stalling the state’s initiatives to improve the lot of tribals. They are increasingly viewed as criminals and anti-national elements making ideology the cover for nefarious activities.

The earlier government had already branded them as the biggest internal security threat and the current dispensation is known for its antipathy towards the rebels. Perhaps it’s time to press home the advantage. The chances of them finding new converts to ideology are rarer now. Since they won’t join the mainstream it’s a good idea to take them head on. The Greyhounds and the Odisha police have done a brilliant job; it should be carried forward with no lapse in seriousness.

Malkangiri: CM Patnaik congratulates Odisha Police over Maoist encounter

Malkangiri: CM Patnaik congratulates Odisha Police over Maoist encounter

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Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday congratulated the Odisha Police, a day after 24 Maoists, including their top leaders, were killed in a fierce gun-battle with security forces in Malkangiri district, giving a major blow to the ultras.

File photo of Naveen Patnaik. PTIFile photo of Naveen Patnaik. PTI

File photo of Naveen Patnaik. PTI

Patnaik, who earlier on the day called up Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra and congratulated him, also hailed the role of Odisha Police in the joint anti-Maoist operation with the Greyhound jawans of Andhra Pradesh.

“The chief minister congratulated Odisha Police on its success in containing naxal menace,” a communication received from the chief minister’s office said.

Earlier, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh took stock of the situation along the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border where 24 Maoists were killed by security forces.

The Home Minister has assured the Chief Minister of providing all the central assistance in its fight against the Naxals, officials said.

Monday’s encounter has come as a major setback to the red rebels as they have lost the three-decade old strong hold in the forests of the cut-off areas of Malkangiri district.

Alert sounded in Odisha districts after killing of Maoists

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A high alert has been sounded in the Maoist-affected southern Odisha districts, including Kandhamal and Gajapati, after the rebels suffered heavy casualty in an encounter with security forces along the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border. The alert has been sounded following the gunning down of 27 Maoists in a fierce gunbattle with a joint team of Greyhounds Force of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha police in the cut-off area along Andhra borders in Malkangiri district in the wee hours yesterday, officials said. “We have asked the forces to keep a strict vigil on the movements of the ultras in the region,” said Inspector General of Police, Southern Range, Amitabh Thakur. As the movement of guerrillas in some districts, including Gajapati, Kandhamal and Boudh, is frequently noticed, checking of vehicles has been intensified, another senior police official said. “Besides patrolling, combing is being intensified in some select Maoist-hit areas in the district as precautionary measures,” said Kandhamal Superintendent of Police Pinak Mishra. Similar operations have also been carried out in Gajapati and Boudh, officials said. No casualty was reported in the gunbattle between the Maoists and the forces in Gajapati district recently. But five civilians, mostly tribals, were killed in alleged cross-firing between rebels and forces near Gumudumaha village under Kandhamal district’s Baliguda police limits on July 8. Police officials said there was a possibility of ultras from neighbouring Chhattisgarh entering the tribal-dominated Kandhamal district. The rebels were desperately trying to regroup in the district after their top leader Sabyasachi Panda was arrested here on July 18, 2014. Security forces had recovered three improvised explosive devices, a claymore mine and some live ammunition, suspected to have been planted by Maoists, near Khandaba ghat in Gajapati district on September 9. PTI

Deep depression in Bay of Bengal intensified into cyclonic storm: IMD

Deep depression in Bay of Bengal intensified into cyclonic storm: IMD

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New Delhi: The deep depression in the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday further intensified into cyclonic storm ‘Kyant’, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

AP

Representational image. AP

“The deep depression over east central Bay of Bengal moved further west-northwestwards and has intensified into a cyclonic storm ‘Kyant’ and lay centred at 620 km north-northwest of Port Blair, 710 km south-southeast of Gopalpur and 850 km east of Vishakhapatnam,” the IMD said.

“The system will move initially west-northwestwards and then west to west-southwestwards towards west central Bay of Bengal during the next 72 hours,” the Cyclone Warning Division of the IMD said. However, there is a possibility that Kyant may not make a landfall.

The IMD has warned of squally winds speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph likely to commence along and off Odisha and north coastal Andhra Pradesh coasts from October 27 onwards.

Fishermen too are advised not to venture into sea along and off Odisha and north coastal Andhra Pradesh coasts.

Maoists lose three-decade-old ‘safe haven’ in Odisha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the killing of at least 24 Maoists, including seven of their top leaders, dealt a major psychological blow to the outlawed CPI(Maoist) in Odisha, it has boosted the morale of the security personnel as the Maoists have lost their “safe home” in Malkangiri district.The killings took place during a joint operation by Odisha and Andhra Pradesh police at Bejingi in the Panasput gram panchayat area under Chitrakonda police station in Malkangiri district, surrounded by hills and forests on three sides and Balimela reservoir on one.The ultras used to take shelter there after committing violence in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, said Nihar Nayak, a researcher of the Maoist movement in Odisha, adding that they used to take advantage of the geographical location of the area since they started operating from these parts in the 1980s.When the Maoists had started using the place as a “safe haven” in the 80s, the then Odisha government had taken little action because the ultras refrained from creating any disturbance in the state. Their activities were mostly confined to Andhra Pradesh, said a senior police officer.The Bejingi area, where today’s operation took place, had hosted a meeting of top Maoist trainers last night. The rebels did not think that the security personnel would launch an assault in the deep forests surrounded by hills and flanked by a reservoir, the officer said. The Maoists had eliminated at least 38 security personnel, including 35 members of Greyhound, Andhra Pradesh’s elite anti-Naxal force, while they were crossing the Balimela reservoir in a mechanised boat in 2008.At least 24 Maoists, including seven of their top leaders, were today gunned down in a fierce gun-battle with the security forces in Odisha’s Malkangiri district on the border with Andhra Pradesh.While using the place as a “safe haven”, the Maoists also used the carrot-and-stick policy for the locals. The villagers who opposed them were eliminated after being branded as “police informers” and those who supported them got praise from the rebels, said a panchayat level politician from Chitrokonda area.In their bid to keep the “cut-off area” safe and out of reach for the security personnel, the Maoists in the past had destroyed equipment used in road construction, mobile phone towers and government buildings. Now that the Odisha government has been constructing a major bridge (918-mtr) at Gurupriya to connect 151 villages in the “cut-off area”, the Maoists would further lose their “safe shelter”, said a local engineer, adding that the construction of the bridge was likely to be completed by the end of 2018.Meanwhile, the Maoists’ stronghold of Narayanpatna and Bandhugaon blocks in Koraput district are now “within the reach” of the administration after a series of police operations.”After today’s operation, the Maoists have suffered a major setback in the entire south Odisha, particularly in Koraput and Malkangiri districts,” a top police officer involved in anti-Maoist operations said.Earlier, the Maoist movement had suffered a setback when Sabyasachi Panda quit the CPI(Maoist) and formed his own group, ‘Odisha Maobadi Party’. Panda is in jail, leading to a decline in Maoist activities in Gajapati, Rayagada and Ganjam districts. However, the Maoists have re-grouped in Kalahandi, Boudh and Kandhamal. Naxal cadres, mostly from Chhattisgarh, operate in the western region of the state, while the guerrillas from Andhra Pradesh operate in south Odisha, the officer said.Today’s successful operation took place when the Maoists were threatening the people to boycott the three-tier panchayat polls slated for February next. Maoist leader Ramakrishna had reportedly addressed a meeting in the Jantri area in the “cut-off zone” earlier this month and asked the tribals to boycott the polls.

Major blow to Maoists, 24 including top leaders gunned down in encounter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> At least 24 Maoists, including their top leaders, were gunned down in a fierce gun-battle with security forces in Odisha’s Malkangiri district on the border with Andhra Pradesh, giving a major blow to the ultras.A senior commando of the elite anti-Naxal force, Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh was also killed, while another commando was injured in the encounter that took place in the cut-off area of remote Chitrakonda on Andhra-Odisha border, Malkangiri SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra said. “The bodies of 24 Maoists, including that of some women, were recovered from the site after the joint operation conducted by the Odisha police and Greyhounds, while a few of the rebels are suspected to have fled,” the SP said.He said two senior Greyhounds commandos, who were injured in the gun-battle in the wee hours, had been airlifted to Visakhapatnam for treatment and one of them, identified as Abubacker, succumbed to injuries in a hospital there. The other commando is undergoing treatment. Some high-ranking Maoist leaders, including Uday and Chalapati who carried heavy rewards on their heads, were suspected to be among those killed in the encounter that took place in a mountainous forest area between Bejing and Muchiputam under Panasput grampanchyat, the police said.Stating that the operation was launched on the basis of intelligence inputs, Odisha GDP K B Singh said 10 rifles, four AK-47 rifles, three SLRs, kit bags and huge ammunition have been recovered from the site and search operation was continuing. There was information about the presence of cadres of Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee in the area and Odisha police teams also got it verified that Naxal camps were operating there, the DGP said.”Since the area is located in the cut-off area on Andhra-Odisha border, the operation was launched from the other side and Greyhounds took the lead,” Singh said. Meanwhile, arrangements are being made to airlift the bodies of the slain Maoists to Malkangiri, the SP said adding that combing operation was also intensified in the forest in Andhra-Odisha border areas to locate bodies, if any, and the fleeing Maoists.Noting that the encounter site was located in a highly remote area which is accessible by road only through Andhra Pradesh, he said the bodies are to be airlifted by helicopter to Malkangiri.Malkangiri served as a major transit belt of the Naxals. In September 2013, as many as 13 Maoists were killed in an exchange of fire with the police in the Padia area of Malkangiri district. The operation is seen as a revenge of the attack on June 29, 2008 when Maoists had ambushed a boat carrying Greyhound jawans in the reservoir at Alampaka. Altogether 38 persons, including 35 Greyhound jawans from Andhra Pradesh, had been killed in the attack

Maoists encounter: Senior greyhounds commando dies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A senior commando of Andhra Pradesh greyhounds, who was injured in an exchange of fire with Maoists on the AP-Odisha border early on Monday, succumbed to injuries in Vishakhapatnam. Visakhapatnam (Rural) Superintendent of Police, Rahul Dev Sharma said that the commando succumbed at a hospital.The deceased Abubacker, along with another senior commando, was injured in the exchange of fire with ultras in Malkangiri district of Odisha on Monday morning. Both the injured were brought in a helicopter from the encounter site and admitted to the King George Hospital for treatment.Abubacker, who hails from Gajuwaka near Vishakhapatnam, died while undergoing treatment. Greyhounds is AP’s elite anti-Maoist force.Earlier in day, 21 Naxals lost their life in firing with troopers in a major operation launched by security forces on Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border.

Police attacked Maoist meeting near Andhra-Odisha border, killing over 20: Varavara Rao

Police attacked Maoist meeting near Andhra-Odisha border, killing over 20: Varavara Rao

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Hyderabad: Revolutionary poet Varavara Rao on Monday alleged that police killed Maoists after attacking one of their meetings near the Andhra-Odisha border.

Disputing police claim that Maoists were killed in an exchange of fire, he said it was deliberate attack on a Maoist meeting.

Representational image. CNN News 18Representational image. CNN News 18

Representational image. CNN News 18

Over 20 Maoists were killed in the alleged gunbattle in Malkangiri district of Odisha on Monday. The incident occurred during a joint search operation by police forces of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

Some top Maoist leaders are suspected to be among those killed. Most of the slain Maoist cadre hailed from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Varavara Rao demanded that a murder case be booked against the policemen involved in the attack.

“Did Maoists carry out any attack after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh? Then where was the need for this fake encounter?” asked Rao, a leader of Veerasam, a body of revolutionary writers.

Rao also demanded an inquiry into the incident by a sitting judge of the high court. He said the bodies of Maoists should be brought to Visakhapatnam.

Deep depression over Bay of Bengal near Odisha coast; likely to turn into cyclonic storm

Bhubaneswar: Fishermen were on Sunday asked by the IMD to be cautions while venturing into sea along the Odisha coast in view of a deep depression over the Bay of Bengal, with the system likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm.

Satellite images show a deep depression building around Indian coast near Orissa. IMD websiteSatellite images show a deep depression building around Indian coast near Orissa. IMD website

Satellite images show a deep depression building around Indian coast near Orissa. IMD website

A depression over east-central Bay of Bengal moved east-north-eastwards, intensified into a deep depression on Thursday and lay centered over east-central Bay of Bengal, about 950 km east-southeast of Gopalpur, the MeT Department in Bhubaneswar said.

The system is most likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm in 24 hours and move north-eastwards to reach close to north Myanmar coast shortly.

Thereafter, it will recurve initially north-northwestwards skirting Myanmar coast and then north-westwards towards the of north-west Bay of Bengal, it said. While sporadic rainfall may occur in 11 districts in the central and north Odisha on 26 and 27 October, weather elsewhere in the state would be generally dry during the next 24 hours, but the sky would be cloudy, Director of the Meteorological Centre here, Sarat Chandra Sahu said.

However, Distant Cautionary Signal Number One (DC-I) has been hoisted at all ports in Odisha and fishermen are advised to be cautious while venturing into interior and distant sea along Odisha coast during the period.

18 Maoists killed, two constables injured in encounter on Andhra-Odisha border

18 Maoists killed, two constables injured in encounter on Andhra-Odisha border

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Visakhapatnam: Eighteen Maoists were gunned down in an exchange of fire with the Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha Police in Malkangiri forest area on the AP-Odisha border in the wee hours on Monday, a top police official said.

Andhra Pradesh police. Reuters

Andhra Pradesh police. Reuters

According to Andhra Police, two constables of Greyhounds, an elite anti-Maoist force, were injured in the encounter that occurred during a routine combing operation being jointly carried out by police of both the states at Ramgurha in Malkangiri district of Odisha.

The face-off between the security personnel and the outlaws lasted for about an hour. The injured constables were shifted for treatment to the King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam by helicopter, the police official added.

Police have recovered four AK-47 rifles from the scene of the encounter. AP Director General of Police Nanduri Sambasiva Rao left for Visakhapatnam immediately upon receiving news of the encounter.

The DGP said combing operation was still continuing as there was information that there were some more Maoists roaming in the region.

Judicial, police custody deaths highest in UP; Chattisgarh leads in encounter cases: NHRC

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh has registered highest number of cases of custodial deaths in the country between October 2015 and September this year, with as many as 401 deaths taking place in judicial custody and 27 in policy custody, the National Human Rights Commission today said.

Uttar-Pradesh-police_380_AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Uttar Pradesh, with 401 cases topped the list of cases of judicial custody deaths as well as in the list of cases of deaths in police custody with 27 cases,” NHRC Chairperson Justice HL Dattu was quoted as saying in a statement.

Earlier, addressing a press conference to mark the foundation day of the rights watchdog, he said since its inception in 1993, the NHRC has come a long way by addressing several issues of human rights violations as well as giving inputs on key legislations impacting human rights.

The NHRC had faced criticism from a section of civil society and NGOs for it report on the on-spot inquiry of migration issue in Kairana in Uttar Pradesh which is going to polls next year.

Dattu said, the commission “has received the response of the Uttar Pradesh government on the Kairana issue, and the report would be placed before the full commission, which would discuss, deliberate and take the final decision in it”.

“Over a lakh complaints have been received in the commission which indicates not only the increasing faith of the people in its functioning but also their awareness about the importance of promotion and protection of human rights,” the statement said.

“During the period (October 2015 and September 2016), maximum 32,498 complaints were registered against police, out of which 206 cases were of encounter.

“Chhattisgarh with 66 encounter cases, topped the list followed by 43 in Assam, 15 in Jharkhand, 10 in Odisha, 7 each in Maharashtra and Meghalaya, 5 each in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur. West Bengal with 11 cases, topped the list of registered cases of encounter by Para-Military forces,” it said.

Between October 2015 and September 2016, the NHRC has registered 1,05,664 cases on the basis of complaints, intimation from police and prison authorities etc, and on suo motu basis. The number of cases registered during the period on suo motu basis is 133. During the corresponding period in 2014-15 and 2013-14, it registered 1,17,477 and 1,06,684 cases respectively, it said.

“Since October 2015 to September 2016, the commission has disposed 1,11,295 cases out of which 59,924 had to be dismissed in limine, as these were not in line with the provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act,” it added.

During the period, the commission recommended monetary relief to the tune of Rs 70,93,000 in 380 cases. The public authorities complying with the commission’s recommendations paid Rs 11,59,56,172 as monetary relief in 410 cases to the victims or their kin. These included cases of the previous year as well as the some cases wherein recommendations were made during 2015-2016.

An independent report was prepared and sent to the UN mandated Human Rights Council for the third Universal Periodic Review, the NHRC said.

Odisha SUM hospital fire: Death toll rises to 24 as one more person succumbs to injuries

Bhubaneswar: The death toll in Odisha’s SUM Hospital fire rose to 24, as one more person undergoing treatment succumbed to injuries on Friday, a health official said.

“While two other patients succumbed to their injuries in the Capital Hospital on Thursday night, one more died on Friday,” the official said.

Police carry out rescue work at the hospital. PTIPolice carry out rescue work at the hospital. PTI

A fire broke out at Odisha’s SUM Hospital killing 24 people so far. PTI

Sheikh Qurban of Khurda undergoing treatment at SCB Medical College and Hospital here succumbed four days after receiving extensive injuries in Monday’s blaze that initially claimed 19 lives.

On Thursday night, Biswanath Behera of Dumduma area in Bhubaneswar and Rashmita Swain of Balipada area in Puri also died. Two more injured persons had succumbed to injuries earlier during the week.

As many as 106 patients were shifted to different hospitals following the major fire that broke out in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the dialysis ward at SUM hospital on Monday evening.

The Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Commissionerate Police arrested four hospital officials on Tuesday, and the owner, Manoj Nayak, on Thursday and secured his two-day remand.

Nayak was to be grilled over the renewal of registration and the lack of fire safety measures in his hospital, the police said.

NHRC issues notice to Odisha government after hospital blaze

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed shock on how the state authorities allow hospitals to function without proper fire safety clearance. Following the death of 22 persons in Odisha on October 17 at SUM Hospital and Medical College in Bhubaneshwar, NHRC has issued a notice to the state government.The fire occurred due to a suspected short circuit. 40 patients in critical condition have been admitted to different hospitals. Reportedly, the hospital in question came under the scanner as early as 2013, for not adhering to the safety measures, but the hospital authorities ignored it. Shockingly, in Odisha, out of 568 hospitals, only 3 have clearance from the department of fire safety.The Commission has observed that callous attitude and lapses of the authorities, if any, amount to violation of right to life of the patients. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Government of Odisha through its Chief Secretary, calling for a report in the matter within six weeks including the relief and rehabilitation granted to the next of kin of the deceased and the injured. He has also been asked to inform about the steps or precautions taken or proposed to be taken by the state government to prevent recurrence of such mishaps.The fire reportedly started in the Operation Theatre of the Dialysis Ward and spread to ICU and nearby wards. The State Government has ordered a probe by the Director, Medical Education and Training, and has also declared free treatment to all injured persons.

Bhubaneswar SUM hospital had no fire clearance

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The SUM Hospital in Bhubaneswar, where a devastating blaze on Monday claimed 21 lives, was running without fire safety clearance, Union Health Minister JP Nadda said on Wednesday, even as the police issued a ‘Lookout Circular’ against two members of the trust that runs the facility. The Minister, who visited various hospitals to inquire about the condition of those injured, said the Centre would soon issue a fresh advisory to all states to avoid repeat of such incidents.”The hospital did not have fire safety measures in place. In spite of that, the hospital was running. It is a serious matter,” Nadda told reporters, terming the tragedy as “very serious, worrisome and shocking”.Under pressure for arresting the owner of the hospital, the the Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack issued a ‘Lookout Circular’ against two senior members of Sikshya O Anusandhan Charitable Trust which runs the hospital.PTICommisioner of Police Y B Khurania told reporters that the Circular (LOC) was issued against Manoj Nayak and Saswati Das who cannot leave the city without prior police permission as they needed to cooperate with the probe. The Union Home Ministry has been informed about the circular. Airport authorities have been asked not to let them leave the city in case they make an attempt.Meanwhile, in a startling claim, the National Human Rights Commission said only three of Odisha’s 568 hospitals have fire safety clearance and issued a notice to the state government over the hospital tragedy, the worst of its kind in the state.”In Odisha, out of 568 hospitals, only three have clearance of the department of fire safety,” the NHRC said in a statement on Wednesday and issued a notice to the Odisha Chief Secretary, seeking a report in the matter within six weeks, including on the relief and rehabilitation efforts for the next of kin of the deceased and the injured.”We have to see that such incidents do not repeat. I will ask the officials to make more stringent provisions. I will personally see which issues need to be revisited. A fresh advisory will be given to all the states so that such incidents do not take place anywhere,” Nadda told reporters before winding up his one-day visit to the state.Though fire safety is a matter related to Home department, Health department also has a responsibility to ensure safety of patients in hospitals, he said. Nadda held discussion with health officials and assured support to the state government for providing treatment to those injured in the fire.”I am not here for a blame game. Our priority is (providing) proper treatment to those injured in the fire at the medical facility two days ago,” he said.Nadda visited the injured undergoing treatment at AIIMS, Capital Hospital, AMRI Hospital and KIMS and enquired about their condition.

Bhubaneswar: NHRC issues notice to Odisha govt over fire at SUM hospital

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday issued notice to the Odisha government over the deaths of 20 persons in the 17 October fire that broke out in Bhubaneswar’s SUM Hospitals.

Police carry out rescue work at the hospital. PTI

Police carry out rescue work at the hospital. PTI

Taking cognisance of the issue, the commission observed that the SUM Hospitals was warned as early as 2013, for not adhering to safety norms but the hospital authorities ignored.

The commission also took note of the fact that out of 568 hospitals in Odisha, only three cleared the fire safety requirements. It also slammed the state government.

The commission said: “The callous attitude and lapses of the authorities, if any, amount to violation of right to life of the patients.”

“It is a matter of shock how the state authorities allowed such a large number of hospitals to function without proper fire safety clearance,” said the NHRC.

It issued a notice to the Odisha government through its Chief Secretary, and asked for a report on the incident within six weeks.

The report should include the relief and rehabilitation granted to the next of kin of the deceased and the injured.

The commission asked the state to include in the report the steps and precautions being taken or proposed to be taken by it that could prevent recurrence of such tragedy.

Twenty persons were killed, and 106 others were injured, in the Monday fire in the ICU of the Dialysis Ward of the SUM Hospitals, that has 750 beds and 25 intensive care units.

The fire reportedly started in the Operation Theatre of the dialysis ward and spread to the ICU and nearby units.

The state government has ordered a probe, while the Director of Medical Education and Training (DMET) had declared free treatment to all injured.

Four hospital officials have so far been arrested in the case, and the owner’s arrest is likely soon.

Union Health Minister JP Nadda on Wednesday visited the SUM Hospitals and met the injured. He called for strong action against those responsible for the tragedy.

Odisha fire: Sum hospital violates safety norms, action against owner likely

Bhubaneswar: The owner of the Odisha hospital where 20 people died in a tragic fire on Monday, might be arrested for negligence and blatant violation of fire safety norms in the premises, an official said on Wednesday.

Director of Medical Education and Training Prakash Chandra Mohapatra hinted that the owner of the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospitals could be arrested.

“The police is taking action against the hospital authorities. We have filed FIR against the hospital management. The owner also comes under the management. Police may take action against him,” said Mohapatra.

According to a note from the Director, Medical Education and Training (DMET), out of the 568 fully operational private hospitals and nursing homes in the state, only three corporate hospitals — in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri — have fire safety certificates.

The name of SUM hospital did not figure in the list at all. It has no fire safety certificate, the note showed.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The hospital also did not adhere to the 2013 audit on fire safety measures. It did not obtain any valid fire safety certificate, said a senior fire service official.

The SUM Hospitals neither had a 25,000 litre water tank nor a functional sprinkler system that could have been used to fight a fire on the premises.

“The fire detection system did not function as it was not integrated properly. As such, there were no alarms warning the people of the situation,” said the fire department in an FIR lodged by it.

It further said that there was no provision for an external fire escape staircase thereby hindering evacuation. Patients were evacuated through windows after breaking the glass panes.

The existing fire protection system available in the building — fire hydrant system — did not function during fire fighting and there was no water source available within the hospital premises.

The commissionerate police have arrested four persons so far in connection with the fire tragedy.

Medical Superintendent Pusparaj Samantasinghar, former Executive Engineer Amulya Kumar Sahu (electrical maintenance), Fire Safety Officer Santosh Das and retired Junior Engineer Malay Kumar Sahu (electrical maintenance) were arrested on Tuesday.

Bhubaneswar hospital inferno: NHRC issues notice to Odisha govt, says hospital ‘ignored warnings’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday issued a notice to the Odisha government over the massive at the SUM hospital in which at least 20 people were killed, adding that the hospital in question was reportedly warned as early as in 2013 for not keeping the safety measures but the hospital authorities ignored it.In a statement issued on Wednesday, the NHRC said that it had taken suo motu cognizance of reports that due to suspected short circuit, a major fire broke out in the SUM Hospital and Medical College.The Commission further stated that in Odisha, out of 568 hospitals, only three have clearance of the department of fire safety.”The Commission has observed that callous attitude and lapses of the authorities, if any, amount to violation of right to life of the patients. It has expressed shock how the State authorities allowed such a large number of hospitals to function without proper fire safety clearance,” the statement added.Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Government of Odisha through its Chief Secretary calling for a report in the matter within six weeks including the relief and rehabilitation granted to the next of kin of the deceased and the injured. He has also been asked to inform about the steps and precautions taken or proposed to be taken by the State Government to prevent recurrence of such mishaps.Meanwhile, after taking stock at the SUM hospital, Union Health Minister JP Nadda said that there were safety issues that needed to be addressed, adding that stringent action will be taken against the people responsible for the tragedy. Speaking to the media after interacting with the patients, Nadda said that he had been instructed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi the very moment the fire was reported, to ensure the safety of the patients at the hospital.”It is very saddening and shocking. It’s also painful and worrisome that such an incident has taken place. I’ve been told that an inquiry is going on, but prima facie I find that some safety issues are there which need to be addressed,” Nadda said. The Union Minister also called on the state government to take adequate steps and action so that the faith of the people is reposed, while adding that the people responsible should be punished.On the basis of the preliminary fact-finding report, Odisha government on Tuesday filed two criminal cases alleging negligence in conduct and safety against the hospital and initiated administrative inquiries into the mishap.The Bhubaneswar Commissionerate police have arrested four hospital staff on charges of negligence in conduct and safety.Some patients who were shifted from SUM Hospital to other hospitals in Bhubaneswar after the fire mishap, are said to be in critical condition and fighting for their life at the ICUs.

Bhubaneswar fire: Health Minister JP Nadda assures support to Odisha govt

Bhubaneswar: Assuring all support to the Odisha govenrment for the treatment of patients affected in the Sum Hospital fire, Health Minister J P Nadda on Wednesday said he was not here for any blame game over the incident which claimed 20 lives.

File photo of JP Nadda. AFP

File photo of JP Nadda. AFP

“I am not here for blame game. Our priority is proper treatment of patients who have been affected due to the fire at a medical facility two days ago,” Nadda told reporters in Bhubaneswar on his arrival at the state capital.

Stating that the Centre would take measures to ensure better treatment of the fire-hit patients, Nadda said the state govenrment had constituted panels for conducting inquiry into the mishap.

The state government should implement fire safety measures at hospitals, said Nadda who is slated to hold discussions with health officials.

The Health Minister and Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, met patients at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, AMRI Hospital and KIMS Hospital. The two ministers will also visit Sum Hospital where a fire had killed 20 people on Monday evening.

As many as 106 patients have been shifted from the fire-hit private hospital to different places including Capital Hospital, AIIMS, AMRI Hospital, Kalinga Hospital, KIIMS and Hitech Hospital in Bhubaneswar, while some were sent to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.

Meanwhile, Director General of Fire Service Binay Behera on Tuesday submitted a report to the state government on the fire that ravaged parts of the private hospital.

Behera in his report has mentioned that fire safety norms as per the 2013 guidelines were not followed by the hospital authorities, an official said.

Bhubaneswar fire: Health Minister JP Nadda to visit SUM Hospital to take stock of situation

New Delhi: Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda will reach Bhubaneswar on Wednesday and visit the hospital where 19 people were killed in a fire on Monday.

File photo of JP Nadda. AFP

File photo of JP Nadda. AFP

“Health Minister JP Nadda will visit SUM hospital in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday to take stock of the fire tragedy which claimed 19 lives,”a senior Health Ministry official told IANS.

Nineteen persons were killed in the Odisha fire in the Intensive Care Unit of the Dialysis Ward of SUM hospital on Monday evening. Another 106 were injured and are undergoing treatment.

The Fire Services Department lodged an FIR with the Khandagiri police alleging negligence of the hospital authorities in adhering to fire safety norms.

Four SUM Hospital officials were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the incident.

This comes after SUM Hospital authorities on Tuesday denied that there were lapses on the management’s part.

It, however, suspended four persons for the fire incident.

“We have put four officials under suspension following the fire incident. They have been suspended pending inquiry. However, the suspension does not mean that they are guilty. Only a thorough inquiry would reveal the actual cause of the incident,” said Amit Banerjee, Vice Chancellor of the SUM Hospital and Medical College.

Those put under suspension for reported dereliction of duty are the fire officer, manager and two others staffers.

He said the exact reason behind the unfortunate incident will be known only after the investigation committee submits its report.

Banerjee also announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kin of each deceased.

He said steps are being taken to provide free treatment to the injured.

Bhubaneswar fire: Odisha CM should make top hospital authorities accountable

Writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley once said, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

Before making an insensible and inhuman comment like “Our hospital is not at fault in the accident. It is all about bad luck…No single person can be blamed for it” on the cause of fire outbreak at SUM Hospital in Bhubaneswar that claimed 22 lives on 17 October, its associate dean JR Das should have thought twice before ignoring facts.

One of the senior authorities of the hospital who dares to call the tragedy “a result of bad luck,” is an epitome of the insensitivity that plagues India’s fragile healthcare system.

Rescue work underway at the Bhubaneswar hospital. File photo. PTI

Rescue work underway at the Bhubaneswar hospital. File photo. PTI

A similar statement was made almost five years ago on December 2011 by the authorities of Advanced Medicare and Research Institute (AMRI) Hospital in south Kolkata in defence of the fire that claimed 90 lives.

Setting an example, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had then stated the horrific incident as “an unforgivable crime” and vowed “the harshest punishment possible” for those found responsible. As a result, six board members of the hospital, including two prominent industrialists — also the owners — were arrested for culpable homicide.

Can Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik show the same courage as Mamata did and put the top authorities of SUM Hospital behind bars?

According to media reports, the two FIRs filed against the hospital management do not have names of any of the top authorities of SUM Hospital. Instead, losing no time the hospital management suspended its four employees for dereliction of duty, who have been arrested by Odisha police. None of them is the owner or a board member. The four arrested are mere employees — from a medical superintendent to a junior electrical engineer.

The name of the owner and chairperson of the hospital Manoj R Nayak has been conveniently avoided.

“How can be the deaths of so many patients in the ICU due to fire in the hospital just be due to bad luck? It’s such an irresponsible statement. It’s like a pilot forgetting to put on the switch while nosediving and putting the lives of passengers at risk. The first task should be to arrest the top authorities responsible for the tragedy like hospital’s chairperson, director general fire service, health secretary, etc,” Bejon Misra, consumer rights activist and a member on board of International Alliance of Patients’ Organisation (IAPO) told Firstpost.

The IAPO is a unique global alliance representing patients of all nations across all disease areas and promoting patient-centred healthcare across the world.

After the fire tragedy at AMRI Hospital, the West Bengal government cancelled the hospital’s licence and even today, the new hospital block where the fire took place is shut. The hospital management is fighting a legal battle in the court.

“Only the administrative block of AMRI Hospital that has only a few beds and an OPD is functional. The new block comprising the ICU, OTs and patients’ wards where the fire took place is still shut since the day of the accident. The licence was immediately cancelled by the government,” an AMRI Hospital employee said on condition of anonymity.

Despite lacking quality standards and no fire NoC, the SUM Hospital continued to function. There were reports that the water sprinklers in the hospital were dysfunctional.

“Hospital’s licence should immediately be cancelled for compromising the lives and safety of the patients. We need a strong regulatory mechanism to ensure that these private hospitals and nursing homes strictly adhere to mandatory norms and patients’ safety doesn’t get compromised. Private investors put money in hospitals and private medical colleges only for big returns. Anyone having ‘Dr’ prefixed with his or her name can start a hospital or nursing home in India. Who’s responsible for this? The role of fire department is also questionable. Why no follow-ups are made on whether hospitals following fire safety norms or not?” questioned Misra.

What needs to be in place?

– A strong regulatory mechanism at the national level.
– Accreditation should be given to only those following best global practices.
– Strict legal action including imprisonment and cancellation of licence should be taken against the hospital authorities showing cavalier disregard for patients’ safety.
– Before giving licence to operate, the government must ensure that the hospital promoters do comply with the mandatory norms and specified standards.
– Stricter norms for the fire department, ensuring proper implementation.
– Patients’ safety and security should be the paramount and callous attitude of regulators should sternly be dealt with.

Frequent extreme rain behind rising incidents of floods in 2016

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly 150 events of extremely heavy rainfall of more than 200mm each, occurred during this year’s southwest monsoon between June and September, indicating the high frequency of such events, a post-monsoon report of India Meteorological Department (IMD) revealed. These extremely heavy rainfall events triggered large-scale flooding and flash floods across the country, killing hundreds across the country. India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) categorizes rainfall between 64.5mm and 124.4mm as heavy rain while rainfall between 124.5 mm and 244.4mm is categorized as very heavy rainfall. The extreme rainfall events were concentrated in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, parts of Rajasthan, Konkan region and western Maharashtra. The trend of these events occurring in shorter durations is becoming more frequent and intense, leading to incidents such as the Mahad bridge collapse. In August this year, a colonial era bridge on the Mumbai-Goa bridge national highway collapsed as strong currents in Savitri river flowing beneath it shook its foundations and plunged two transport buses and private vehicles in it, killing over 20. This incident was triggered following intense downpour upstream in Mahabaleshwar, where Savitri river originates. In fact, the data that has come from IMD’s report shows that there were five extremely heavy rain events in the hill-town of Mahabaleshwar between July 29 and August 6. Meteorologists and weather scientists said that many recent studies have indicated that there has been a rise in heavy and extreme rain events in India and even globally. Anthropogenic climate change has been cited as one of the chief reasons behind this rising trend. “With rising temperatures, the water bearing capacity of atmosphere increases and more moisture is drawn from the oceans. The result is sudden precipitation and this phenomenon has been documented globally,” said KJ Ramesh, director-general, IMD.According to IMD’s analysis of rainfall data between 2009 and 2013, Odisha, Konkan, Goa, Coastal Karnataka, Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala have all witnessed heavy rainfall days for more than 20 days during the monsoon season. Odisha, Konkan, Coastal Karnataka Sikkim, Assam and Meghalaya recorded an average of 70 heavy rainfall events in that period.“The seasonal monsoon data has also shown that the number of light to moderate rainfall days is declining since 1980’s, compared to the years before that,” added Ramesh.In its report, the IMD has also reflected on its monsoon forecast, that was off-mark. The IMD had predicted that the monsoon will be 106% or above-normal in the June-September period, but the actual monsoon turned out to be 97% or normal. “Prior to June, most of the climate forecasting models were indicating high probability for the development of La Niña during the second half of the monsoon season, which was supposed to favour normal to above normal rainfall over India.However, that did not happen,” the report said. The opposite of El Nino weather phenomenon wherein warmer than usual Pacific waters trigger droughts in South Asia, La Niña usually brings heavy rainfall in South Asia. The report added that with La Niña not developing against the expectation of global El Niño/ La Niña forecast and below normal rainfall during June and August, due to unfavorable phases of intra-seasonal activity, caused the most of the operational forecasts to overestimate to the actual rainfalls.

Bhubaneswar fire: Odisha govt files FIR against Institute of Medical Sciences, SUM Hospital

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Tuesday lodged two FIRs against the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital authorities in connection with the hospital fire late on Monday evening.

Rescue work underway after the fire. PTI

Rescue work underway after the fire. PTI

The FIRs, filed by the Directorate of Medical Education & Training (DMET) and the Fire Services Department separately, allege negligence by the hospital management in taking adequate fire safety measures and ensuring safe evacuation of patients, leading to the death of 20 persons.

“We have filed an FIR with the police against the hospital management for negligence over fire safety measures, evacuation of patients and crowd management,” said Umakanta Satapathy, DMET Joint Director.

Fire Services DG Binay Behera said: “We have filed an FIR against the hospital authorities for negligence. Even though the hospital had been asked to comply with the fire safety norms in 2013, it did not follow the fire safety norms.”

The FIRs were filed with the Khandagiri police in Bhubaneswar.

According to a 2013 audit report, the SUM Hospital did not have adequate fire safety measures in place. The report found lapses in the fire safety norms followed by the hospital.

The hospital is yet to respond to the Fire Department audit.

Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak said his department has filed the FIR and legal action would be taken against the hospital management for the negligence of procedures laid down by the department.

Nayak said they have opened a control room to monitor the treatment of injured patients.

On their part, the hospital authorities denied lack of fire safety measures.

“We have put four officials under suspension following the fire incident. They have been suspended pending inquiry. However, the suspension does not mean that they are guilty. Only a thorough inquiry would reveal the actual cause of the incident,” said Amit Banerjee, Vice Chancellor of the SUM Hospital and Medical College.

Those put under suspension for reported dereliction of duty are the fire officer, manager and two others staffers.

He said the exact reason behind the unfortunate incident will be known only after the investigation committee submits its report.

Banerjee also announced Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia to the family of each deceased.

On the orders of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to hold a Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC)-led inquiry, Central RDC AB Ota has started investigating the fire incident.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Chief Minister and the Odisha Governor separately visited various hospitals to inquire about the health of patients.

Meanwhile, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) registered a suo motu case over the fire mishap and asked the Health Secretary and DG (Fire Services) to submit a report within three weeks.

A complaint has been filed with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking action against the hospital authorities and state government officials for their negligence in ensuring safety measures.

Human rights activist Subash Mohapatra, who filed the petition, urged the NHRC to direct the state government to conduct an impartial inquiry into the matter and submit the report within a week.

Bhubaneswar fire: SUM hospital authorities deny administrative lapses

Bhubaneswar: The SUM Hospital authorities on Tuesday denied that there were lapses on the management’s part that led to the loss of 20 lives.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

It, however, suspended four persons for the fire incident.

“We have put four officials under suspension following the fire incident. They have been suspended pending inquiry. However, the suspension does not mean that they are guilty. Only a thorough inquiry would reveal the actual cause of the incident,” said Amit Banerjee, Vice Chancellor of the SUM Hospital and Medical College.

Those put under suspension for reported dereliction of duty are the fire officer, manager and two others staffers.

He said the exact reason behind the unfortunate incident will be known only after the investigation committee submits its report.

Banerjee also announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kin of each deceased.

He said steps are being taken to provide free treatment to the injured.

Meanwhile, services have resumed at the hospital except in the ICU, dialysis and emergency wards, which were sealed by the state government for investigation, said the Vice Chancellor.

Fire Safety DG Binay Behera, who inspected the fire safety measures of the hospital, informed that a 2013 audit report had found lapses in the fire safety measures.

The audit report had warned the SUM Hospital of lapses and asked it to rectify those. But the hospital did not respond to the Fire Department, said a fire official.

“We will submit a detailed report to the government after the inquiry is done,” said Behera.