#Mumbai- Inquiry indicts Hinduja’s Dr Jnanesh Thacker for removing organs from corpse


Probe was initiated after Mirror reported that Hinduja’s Dr Jnanesh Thacker had removed the heart and lung of a cadaver at KEM on the pretext that he was teaching students
By Lata Mishra
Posted On Thursday, December 06, 2012, Mumbai Mirror

 

An internal inquiry launched following a Mumbai Mirror report has indicted a senior cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon and transplant expert of trespassing and illegally removing organs from a corpse at the government-run KEM Hospital.

On November 12, Mirror reported how Dr Jnanesh Thacker, a consultant with Hinduja Hospital, entered the KEM mortuary, where government doctors were performing a post-mortem on a 40-year-old accident victim, and removed the heart and lung. When the government doctors protested, he told them he was there in his capacity as an honorary doctor with another government-run hospital and that he had taken authorisation from their superiors. Unconvinced, the doctors lodged aprotest and an inquiry was commissioned.

Dr Shubhangi Parkar, academic dean, KEM, who conducted the inquiry has now said in her report that had Dr Thacker had no business being in the mortuary, and that his claim that he was teaching students was a lie. Dr Parkar said Dr Thacker’s claim that he was passing by and some student had called him to demonstrate some procedure was not true. Her report said not a single under-graduate student was there as claimed by Dr Thacker.

While resident doctors from the pathology department were around, none of them asked Dr Thacker to teach them anything, the report added. However, it is still not clear why Dr Thacker removed the organs. While Dr Parkar said it was not in her brief to find that out, Dr Thacker did not answer his phone despite repeated calls. In the report submitted to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Hinduja Hospital, Dr Parkar rejected Dr Thacker’s claim that he had authorisation to enter the mortuary.

The report also said no student has come forward to testify that Dr Thacker was teaching them that day and eyewitnesses have corroborated that there were no students with Dr Thacker. “I have forwarded Dr Parkar’s inquiry report to Additional Municipal Commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar for further action,” said Dr Sandhya Kamat, dean, KEM. “Our enquiry finds Dr Thacker guilty. Eyewitnesses have stated that Dr Thacker was inside the mortuary and removed organs from a body on which a post-mortem was being conducted in a medico-legal case.”

Dr Kamat said the report also debunks Dr Thacker’s claim that Dr Amita Joshi, professor, pathology department, KEM, had given him oral permission to visit the mortuary. “In her statement, Dr Joshi has said that she asked Dr Thacker to approach me for permission and that she never authorised him to go and dissect the body,” said Dr Kamat. “Our report concluded that Dr Thacker entered the mortuary room without any permission when a medico-legal post-mortem was going on.

As per government rules, nobody apart from forensic doctors can enter the mortuary when a post-mortem is going on. And it is clear that he was there, without any permission.” Dr Parkar, in her report, also said that the two doctors conducting the post-mortem, Drs. Ravindra Devkar and Poonam Verma, have confirmed in their statements that he removed organs. Finally, the report said that while Dr Thacker claimed he was an honorary doctor at the Sewri tuberculosis hospital, his stint had in fact ended in September.

 

Top surgeon accused of illegal autopsy, he says he was ‘teaching’

Dr Jnanesh Thacker from Hinduja allegedly removed a lung and heart from the body of an accident victim at KEM; hospital authorities said he wasn’t even authorised to enter the mortuary

 

Posted On Tuesday, November 13, 2012  Mumbai Mirror

 

Monday afternoon saw plenty of drama at Parel’s KEM Hospital, where one of the city’s top surgeons has been accused of illegally entering the mortuary and removing organs from a corpse.

Dr Jnanesh Thacker, consulting cardio thoracic surgeon at Hinduja Hospital, has been accused of opening up the body of a 40-year-old accident victim, and removing a lung and the heart, before he was ‘caught’ around 2.30 pm.

The hospital has submitted a complaint against Thacker to the dean, Dr Sandhya Kamat, but there has been no police complaint. The hospital also said Thacker may have opened up the body for “personal research”.

In his defence, Thacker said he had a meeting with a friend working at the KEM mortuary, and a few students there requested him to teach them some aspects of human anatomy dissection. “I wasn’t aware that the body was of an accident victim and a medicolegal case. I was merely trying to help the students,” he told this newspaper.

The KEM officials, including the dean, said no permissions were granted to Thacker to enter the mortuary, leave alone access the body which is classified as a medico-legal case.

Dr Ravindra Devkar, assistant professor, KEM Forensic Department, said he and his colleague were scheduled to conduct the autopsy on the body. “I was shocked when I saw Thacker inside the room. He had already removed a lung and the heart, and had begun dissecting the body,” he said. Devkar asked the hospital security to ensure Thacker was not allowed to leave the premises, and alerted other officials. “He didn’t have a piece of paper on him to prove that he was authorised to touch the body, leave alone opening it up,” Devkar said, “The equipment he used to open up the body didn’t belong to KEM.” Thacker said he was authorised to enter the mortuary by Dr Amita Joshi, head of the hospital’s Pathology Department. However, Joshi denied having issuing any permission, saying she didn’t have the authority to issue such sanctions.

“It’s a clear case of trespass,” said the KEM Forensic Department head, Dr Harish Pathak, “Thacker is a senior doctor who is well aware that no-one can enter the mortuary without permissions. We all are deeply offended by his actions, and have urged the dean to take action.”

Kamat said she would speak to the Hinduja Hospital director before deciding on action against Thacker.

“Even if he had approached me, I wouldn’t have allowed him inside the mortuary,” she said. “We are recording the statements of the eyewitnesses, and those who granted him access to the mortuary will not be spared either.”

Regarding Thacker’s claim that the students at KEM had requested him to help with dissection, Pathak said Thacker was “lying”. He said, “The students learn at the anatomy department, not in the mortuary. Besides, why would they learn about dissection from a cardiovascular thoracic surgeon?“

 

A minor boy was throttled, tortured by police at Serampore, Hooghly


To

The Chairman

West Bengal Human Rights Commission

Bhabani Bhaban

Alipur

Kolkata 27

 

Respected Sir,

We lodge this present complaint in the matter of physical torture committed upon the victim Binayak Banerjee from District-Hooghly, West Bengal by the perpetrator police personnel of Serampore Police Station. Our attached fact finding report gives details of the incident. The victim’s father named Mr. Dipankar Banerjee lodged written complaint against the perpetrators before the Superintendent of Police, Hooghly and also before the Sub-Divisional Police Officer; Serampore for taking legal action but till date there is no action.  The victim is a minor one and he was subjected to torture by the perpetrator police personnel on the basis of asking the reason of the harassment by the perpetrators committed upon his father named Mr. Dipankar Banerjee.

We demand stern penal action against the perpetrators police personnel of Serampore Police Station. The whole matter must immediately be probed into by one independent investigating agency appoint ted by the Commission. We also demand adequate compensation and protection for the victim family.

We immediately seek your urgent intervention in this matter so that the perpetrator can be booked under the law immediately.

Thanking You

Yours truly,

 

Kirity Roy

Secretary, MASUM

&

National Convener, PACTI

Name of the victim:- Binayak Banerjee, Son of- Mr. Dipankar Banerjee, aged about- 15 years, residing at 30/A Barabagan Lane, Serampore, Post Office- Mallickpara, Police Station- Serampore, District- Hooghly, West Bengal.

 

Name of the perpetrators:-

Inspector-In-Charge of Serampore Police Station and four other involved police constables of Serampore Police Station

 

Place of the incident: – In the house of the victim.

 

Date and time of occurrence: – On 15.11.2012 at about 11 pm.

 

Case details:-

 

It is revealed during fact finding that the victim is a minor by age. He is going to appear for class-X examination from the West Bengal Board of Secondary examination in the year 2013.

Inline images 2

 

On 15.11.2012 at about 11 pm, the Inspector-In-Charge of Serampore Police Station, Hooghly came to Bani Sahitya Mandir under Serampore Police Station with other police personnel and he ordered to leave the area as early as possible where a number of people along with the victim’s father gathered there for observing Kali Puja.

 

The victim’s father left that place after getting the order from the aforesaid police officer and when he was about to enter into his house one policeman called him from behind and four other involved police constables of Serampore Police Station came at the gate of his house and tried to drag him forcibly without any reason saying that “Chol toke circus dekhiye Ani (we will show you circus)”. In the mean time, the victim named Binayak Banerjee came to that place inside from the house after seeing the harassment of his father on the hands of the perpetrator police personnel and he tried to protest against the same retorting “why are you doing this to my father?”. The perpetrators responded him saying “chol tokeo circus dekhiye ani”(we will also show you circus)”. The victim replied saying “why are you making circus? After hearing the victim the police personnel became furious and they instantly released the victim’s father and captured the victim by neck and tried to throttle him and kicked him with their knees on his upper waist. The victim’s father and the other family members requested the perpetrator police personnel to release the victim. At last they released the victim and left the place. The victim received medical treatment from WALSH (S.D.), Hospital, Serampore on the same day and the medical records of the victim speaks the injuries sustained by him as a result of the assault committed by the perpetrator police personnel.

 

On 20/11/2012 the victim’s father named Mr. Dipankar Banerjee lodged written complaints before the Superintendent of Police, Hooghly and the Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Serampore against the perpetrator police personnel disclosing the whole incident and he demanded for justice.

 

As usual, till date, there was no action from the police.

Inline images 1

 

 

 

Dalit kids get Muslim guru at temple


By , TNN | Dec 6, 2012, 03.54 AM IST

GODHRA: When chief minister Narendra Modi announced the Sadbhavana Mission in 2011, professor V K Tripathi could not avoid a wry smile sitting in his office in IIT, Delhi. After all, he has been running an organization with almost the same name for two decades before the poster-boy of Hindutva embraced Muslims under the glare of TV cameras.

Sadbhav Mission was started in 1990 after Tripathi, a professor of physics, and others were deeply moved by the Bhagalpur riots and wanted to find common ground between Hindus and Muslims. In December 2002, when Modi was still taking jibes at Muslims, the mission had organized special classes for 1,000 standard XII students of both communities.

Cut to 2012. Some 150 dalit children of different ages from a nearby slum gather at a Ram temple in Godhra and wait for their tutor. Enters Imran Pola, a young Muslim, and starts giving lessons even as idols of Ram, Sita and Laxman watch over this harmony. This is one of two classes the mission has been holding in the ground zero of the 2002 riots for the last few years. It is one of the rare bridges over the ever-widening rift between ghettoised Hindus and Muslims here.

The classes, running since 2008, were shut for a month recently after some people started harassing the Muslim teachers, but were restarted after parents of the children approached the Muslim teachers and promised them security. Don’t take away hope from the children, the parents insisted.

“A man who does not seem to believe in sadbhavana has started the Sadbhavana Mission,” Tripathi says sardonically. “I have been asking the state government to give access to central scholarships for minority children since 2008, but they insist they will not implement the scheme as it discriminates in the name of religion.” The children around Imran seem excited. “I could not even get 50% marks in standard VIII but then I came here and got 75% marks in standard IX,” says Priyanka Solanki, 15, one of the students. “Hopefully, I’ll get 85% in standard X this time and become a teacher one day.”

“I would fare badly until I came here,” says Kunal Garg. “This time, I know I will get good marks.” Parents of both children are daily wage earners. Well-known doctor Sujat Vali, who monitors Sadbhav Mission in Godhra, says, “Once a year, we take Hindu and Muslim children on a picnic around Godhra. It is moving to see kids of both communities together.”

Woman who married dalit knocks on HC door for cover


By A Subramani, TNN | Dec 6, 2012, 04.56 AM IST

CHENNAI: At a time when Tamil Nadu is gripped by debates on inter-caste marriages, a non-dalit girl who had married a dalit man against her family’s wishes has come knocking on the doors of the Madras high court saying she faced harassment by police and threats from her father.Kiruthika, hailing from Salem district, said in her petition she met D Vallal, a dalit, in college and fell in love. They were in love for about a year when her father came to know about the relationship. Meanwhile, Vallal completed his BBA course and joined a private company in Chennai as a sales executive. When her father kept her in confinement and made arrangements for marriage with someone else, Kiruthika fled her home and got married to Vallal on December 12, 2011. It was duly registered in Salem on December 19, 2011.

Kiruthika said her father Panneerselvam had disapproved of her marriage and even lodged a complaint with the all-woman police in Athur claiming that she was being harassed for dowry by Vallal and his father. She denied any harassment by her husband’s family and claimed that personnel from Yethapur and Ammapettai police stations harassed and threatened her. She wanted the court to direct the authorities not to harass her.

When the matter came up for hearing before Justice D Hariparanthaman, the special government pleader, however, denied any harassment from police and offered an undertaking that police would not interfere with Kiruthika or her husband.

Justice Hariparanthaman, recording the categorical undertaking by the government pleader, cited the Supreme Court rulings which noted that any form of harassment and threats issued to couples of inter-caste weddings a serious offence. Decrying brutal, feudal-minded persons perpetrating campaign against inter-caste marriages, the apex court had said such barbaric practice should be ruthlessly stamped out.

Noting that the judgment would squarely apply to Kiruthika’s case, the judge said no direction was required because the special government pleader had made a statement before the court that there would not be any interference by police in the married life of the young woman.

 

Tribals protest against #Vedanta refinery, demand complete eviction of plant


By Tariq Abdul Muhaimin 12/6/12, Newzfirst

Bhubaneswar – Hundreds of tribals and farmers belonging to several villages and a spectrum of grassroots movements across Odisha on Thursday demonstrated at Lanjigarh, demanding the expulsion of an aluminium refinery owned by British mining giant Vedanta, located at the foot of Niyamgiri Mountain.

Vedanta, a company which by its name symbolizes the sacred texts of Hindu mythology, has been accused of showing complete disregard and disrespect to the sentiments of Dongria Kondh tribesmen who dwell below the Niyamgiri Mountain and consider it as sacrosanct by associating their livelihood to the blessings received from the sacred forest housed by this mountain.

Located at a distance of 600 kms from the state capital Bhubaneswar, Niyamgiri is a place of quiet beauty as the lush green forest which grows on its bed only echoes the sound of chirping birds, winds that blow across the hills and the sound that originates from the Aluminium factory at Lanjigarh.

However, the sound from the Vedanta Alumina refinery (VAL) at Lanjigarh completely subsided on Wednesday as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) announced its closure citing lack of raw material availability.

Lanjigarh refinery shut-down on Wednesday, but tribals demand complete eviction

“We have already started the process of shutting down the alumina plant from the morning. By evening, the one million tonne per annum alumina refinery would completely come to standstill,” Mukesh Kumar, COO of VAL, told reporters on Wednesday.

The plant’s shutdown comes following a three-month closure notice which it had given to the Labour Department of Odisha government on September 5. The notice was served on the grounds of non-availability of raw materials. The refinery needs at least 10,000 tonnes of bauxite everyday to keep the plant operational.

The plant had already witnessed a temporary shutdown in the last three months but was reopened again after a few days, following the availability of bauxite from states like Jharkhand and Gujarat.

Nonetheless, hundreds of villagers from 17 hamlets around the Niyamgiri who marched from their homes towards Lanjigarh on Wednesday to join the demonstration against VAL, demanded the complete eviction of the refinery.

“We are demanding that the refinery must be dismantled completely. It should be locked up and shifted to any other place. Even if the Apex Court delivers a judgment against the mining of Bauxite at Niyamgiri, we doubt that the plant will be shifted” activist Prafulla Samantara from National Alliance of People’s Movements told Newzfirst.

“They will continue their operations by getting raw materials from other states. We cannot allow this. The waters, the forest which is considered sacred by the Dongria and the biodiversity of Niyamgiri are all being affected. They will soon be finished if the plant stays here,” he added.

Tribals and farmers of grassroots organizations such as Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti, Loka Sangram Mancha, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, and Sachetana Nagarika Mancha were part of this demonstration.

We are hopeful that SC will not allow mining here

In anticipation of the final Supreme Court decision which will decide the fate of the contest between the Aluminium refinery and the locals over the authorization to mine for bauxite in the hills, the ten thousand people who gathered at Lanjigarh to demand the lock-up of VAL, said “We are hopeful”.

The Apex Court’s decision on this ruling was repeatedly postponed and the final hearing took place on 3 December. The protestors were awaiting the decision, which they said would come out any time soon.

“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will give a judgment in people’s favor. The plan to mine bauxite on the Niyamgiri Mountain will not succeed. At least we won’t let it succeed” Prafulla said.

The tale of Lanjigarh refinery

The Lanjigargh refinery was built at the base of Niyamgiri and assessed for environmental and social impact without taking into account the intention to mine the hill above for bauxite required to run the plant.

The mineral wealth lying beneath the slopes of the mountain had drawn Vedanta to Niyamgiri. Now, it wants to turn the hillside into a giant bauxite mine to feed its refinery.

However, obtaining permission to mine the mountain has been very difficult for the British giant Vedanta.

The previous ruling by Environment and Forests minister Jairam Ramesh in August 2010 prevented Vedanta from mining the mountain due to violations of environment and forestry acts.

The challenge to this ruling was mounted by the Orissa Mining Corporation, a state owned company with 24% shares in the joint venture to mine Niyamgiri with Vedanta.

Now, the Supreme Court decision which will decide if mining can be done on the Niyamgiri, is awaited.

South Africa’s Sanitation Cesspools-Toilet Apartheid


by PATRICK BOND

Durban, South Africa.

This week’s World Toilet Summit offers an opportunity to contemplate how we curate our crap. Increasingly the calculus seems to be cash, generating contradictions ranging from local to global scales, across race, gender, generation and geography. Nowhere are they more evident than in the host city, my hometown of Durban. We’ve suffered an 18-year era of neoliberal-nationalist malgovernance including toilet apartheid, in the wake of more than 150 years of colonialism and straight racial-apartheid.

In central Durban, the mafia of the global water and sanitation sector – its corporate, NGO and state-bureaucratic elite – have gathered at the International Convention Centre, just a few blocks west of the Indian Ocean, into which far too much of our excrement already flows. They’re at the same scene of the crime as, exactly a year ago, negotiators dithered at the United Nations COP17 ‘Conference of Polluters’ summit.

Recall that the COP17 rebuffed anyone who fancifully hoped global elites might address the planet’s main 21st century crisis. The 1%-ers inside ignored outsider demands for climate justice: make airtight commitments to 50 percent emissions cuts by 2020; drop the ‘privatisation of the air’ strategy known as carbon trading and offsets; and cough up ‘climate debt’ payments from rich to poor countries.

Instead, that conference ended with a ‘Durban Platform’ that re-emphasized capitalist strategies, pleasing Washington especially. The COP17 deal eroded differences in responsibility between North and South, and moreover, as lead Bank of America Merrill Lynch carbon dealer Abyd Karmali told the Financial Times, the Durban Platform was “like a Viagra shot for the flailing carbon markets.” True, a tiny carbon price erection followed, but the effect soon wore off; the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme has been flaccid throughout 2012.

What the dog’s-breakfast Durban Platform confirms, then, was global-elite back-slapping generosity to each other, simultaneous with rank incompetence and utter disregard for the poor and environment, all of which are again on display this week at the COP18 in Doha, Qatar. Precedents matter, for lowering standards.

The commodification of crap

The World Toilet Organisation’s battle cry, ‘Scaling up – dignity for all!’, appears as a creative talk-left but turn-the-tap-right (i.e. off) strategy. The water mafia has long struggled to gain legitimacy for neoliberal cost-cutting strategies, and now does so by invoking dignity (and they also have tried colonising the ‘water rights’ discourse) – but naturally not genuine equal access and consumer affordability, neither of which are possible under neoliberalism.

Another version of this is micro-scale privatisation, where NGOs and community organisations are encouraged to build local toilets and charge poor people for their use, to cover construction, cleaning, maintenance, the water bill and a tiny salary.

Last month in Nairobi’s Kibera and Huruma slums, I spent a day dodging the ‘flying toilets’ (plastic bags filled with faeces), thankfully guided in walkabouts by two admirable popular organisations whose young men – often drawn from ex-gang members – construct these toilets after fighting the small-scale local water capitalists who physically sabotage state suppliers. These systems of desperation-commodification, priced at US$0.10 per use (including one piece of loo paper), are vast improvements on the flying-toilet status quo.

This travesty is the result of a more general neoliberal dogma that hit slums like Nairobi’s over the past quarter-century: cut-backs in state-subsidised water. The strong residue – both in World Bank techie talk and in populist-neoliberal micro-privatisation mode – is just as evident at the Durban Toilet Summit as it was at the World Water Forum in Marseilles nine months ago. That event reconfirmed the water-empire expansion of Paris mega-privatisers like Veolia and Suez, along with the likes of liquid-barons Coke and Nestle, all backed by the multilateral development banks.

Although for a dozen years, fierce anti-privatisation struggles have been waged in Cochabamba, Johannesburg, Accra, Argentina, Atlanta, Jakarta, Manila and many other urban water battlegrounds, it seems that recent US and European municipal fiscal crises offer a new opportunity for the water profiteers.

At the Durban summit, even more clever neoliberal stunts are being rehearsed. ‘Community-Led Total Sanitation’ (CLTS) popularized by NGOer Kamal Kar and academic Robert Chambers in Bangladesh passes yet more responsibilities for public hygiene downwards to poor people. The goal is to wean the lumpens off reliance upon state subsidies through social shaming.

Explains Petra Bongartz from Sussex University, “Through the tools employed by CLTS, a community comes to self-realization that their acts of open defecation are disgusting. In disgust, I have seen some people spit, others turn away from the direction of shit. Still others have vomited at the sight of shit. Disgust is one of the key elements of a CLTS trigger. Disgust is ignited by the unpleasant sight of shit, more so when the shit is still in its fresh and wet state.”

State funds to supply sanitation services are invariably in short supply, so such gimmicks allow smirking Finance Ministry technocrats in many countries to both decentralize the state and shrink it, and in the process, shift duties to municipalities and vulnerable people, in a process sometimes called ‘unfunded mandates’.

Durban’s dirty water 

In this context, Durban residents like myself are having a hard time separating good from bad arguments when it comes to water quality and sanitation. First is the rumour, fed by media hysteria, that drinking Durban’s increasingly grey water is bad for us. As the city begins to mix recycled city sewage with river supply from the mercury-contaminated Inanda Dam (where signs warn local Zulu fisherfolk against eating their catch) and other E.coli-infected streams, will we end up as ill and thirsty as several unfortunate neighbouring Mpumalanga Province towns’ citizens?

In many little ‘dorpies’ stretching from Johannesburg east through Mpumalanga to the Mozambique border at Kruger Park, Acid Mine Drainage and related toxic effluent from coal mining corporations flow prolifically. The national environment ministry turns a blind eye. Between worsening climate change, declining air quality and widespread water pollution, it is terrible but true – as even the African National Congress (ANC) government admits in obscure reports – that apartheid’s ecology was better than freedom’s. 

To illustrate, at the very tip of government’s free-market, fast-melting iceberg, Cyril Ramaphosa’s coal company was let off the prosecutorial hook last month for operating without a water license. Ramaphosa’s political clout was simply overwhelming, according to a leading Pretoria bureaucrat cited by The Mail & Guardian. Indeed it’s likely Ramaphosa will become the country’s second leader at an ANC conference in a fortnight’s time, notwithstanding his smoking-email role in the Marikana massacre, carried out by police 14 weeks ago at the behest of the multinational corporation, Lonmin, for which Ramaphosa serves as local frontman.

As for Durban’s tap-water quality, no, I don’t think there’s any worry, and still have no qualms about ordering my restaurant water straight from the tap. Much worse is the rise of plastic bottles – see http://www.storyofbottledwater.org for gory details – which clog landfills and whose petroleum inputs soil the air in South Durban, Africa’s largest refinery site.

There, children in the mainly Indian suburb of Merebank suffer the world’s worst recorded asthma rate. The Malaysian-owned Engen refinery and BP/Shell’s Sapref complex act like a massive pollution pincer on the kids’ young lungs. Last week, even the slobs at the US Environmental Protection Agency deemed BP – ‘Beyond Petroleum’ (hah) – such a filthy rogue that it may no longer bid for new oil leases there.

Durban’s dirty water policy

Other gossip making the rounds here concerns the world-famous water manager who runs Durban’s municipal system, Neil Macleod. Billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates blogged two years ago that Macleod “has been a leader in thinking through how to improve sanitation for the poor in Durban.” But last month Macleod was charged with corruption by his subordinates (whom he was investigating for the same crime).

This came just at the moment that former Durban city manager Mike Sutcliffe apparently intimidated his successor S’bu Sithole into out-of-court-settlement talks over corruption libel which may leave taxpayers shelling out as much as a million dollars to featherbed Sutcliffe’s supposedly injured ‘reputation’. Although the Manase Report into city corruption – from which Sithole made his claims that Sutcliffe should be jailed – remains a state secret, in both the Macleod and Sutcliffe cases, I’m convinced that they are being unfairly maligned.

How, then, might we more fairly malign these men, not personally of course, but for the society-corrupting, health-threatening, ecologically-destructive sanitation policies on their watch?

The most obvious evidence is the city’s repeated embarrassment at reports of high E.coli and toxin levels in the rivers feeding the ocean, especially after rains, leading to the loss of international ‘Blue Flag’ status at ten Durban beaches four years ago. This month is vital for attracting Johannesburg tourists, so the excessive recent storms make it doubly hard for our hospitality industry, given last week’s reports about unsafe beaches.

So why do long stretches of Durban’s beaches become unswimmable after rains? The primary cause is Macleod’s persistent failure to address the vast sanitation backlog in more than 100 shack settlements across the city. Here, Sutcliffe long refused to authorize standard municipal services – such as water mains and bulk sewage – because of their informal property-rights status, especially those near the traditionally white and Indian areas subject to forced-displacement pressure.

Most shack settlements, in which around a third of Durban’s 3.5 million people live, have only a few poorly- (or un-) maintained toilets, notwithstanding heroic efforts by their main social movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo – most notably at the Kennedy Road shack settlement of 4000 residents and 8 toilets (until ruling party thuggery forced them out) – to raise the profile of the problem.

As a result of loose excrement, E.coli flows into our streams at a rate far higher than the recommended ‘safe’ level of 100 parts per 100ml. The 2010 State of the Rivers Report found the E.coli count in the “uMngeni River at Kennedy Road up to 1,080,000. Cause: Informal Community on the banks of the Palmiet River.”

Power politics and toilet apartheid

Five years ago, Macleod predicted to Science magazine that by 2010, “everyone [would have] access to a proper toilet,” while in reality, hundreds of thousands do not, today.

Neoliberal sanitation experts visiting Durban for the Toilet Summit may rebut that the world cannot afford 12-liter flushes for everyone, and that we must embrace some version of low-water toilets here. (I agree that low-flush bio-gas digesters could be a fine compromise, supplying cooking gas to nearby houses.)

Yet community critics regularly tell us that Durban’s water-less ‘Ventilated Improved Pitlatrine’ (VIP) and ‘Urinary Diversion’ (‘UD’ – or ‘UnDignified’) strategies are failing. If the municipality possessed a genuinely green consciousness, then middle- and upper-class areas would have such pilot projects – not just tens of thousands provided in the city’s low-income periphery.

I flush a few times each day and pay a small premium: more than Durban’s poor can afford, but still not enough for the sake of equity. Many South African readers of this column could easily cross-subsidise their low-income fellow residents, by paying more for the privileges of filling swimming pools and bathtubs, watering gardens, running washing machines and all the other liquid luxuries we enjoy. This is, after all, the world’s most unequal major country, and it’s far worse now than even during apartheid.

If those of us above the 80th percentile paid more to deter our hedonistic water consumption, and if Macleod adjusted tariffs downwards accordingly for poor people, then Durban would not be South Africa’s second stingiest city for water, according to the University of the Witwatersrand Centre for Applied Legal Studies. (The worst is nearby Pietermaritzburg – both reflective of durable old-style Natal white settler-colonial mentality and latter-day Zulu managerial conservatism.)

If such logical reforms were made to water and sanitation prices, then better health and gender equity would result, and more funds could be raised for installing decent toilets across the city, as well as to repair sewage pipes whose cracks regularly infect our rivers and harbour.

After enormous herds of White Elephant infrastructure – underutilized stadiums, a fast train linking Pretoria and Joburg, and Durban’s new airport – were built across SA for the 2010 World Cup, no one in power can claim that construction capability or subsidized funding are lacking. What’s missing is a more favourable politics of and by the poor, and so what will continue to result is toilet-apartheid.

Patrick Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society.

source- http://www.counterpunch.org/

 

Draft Twelfth Five Year Plan 2012-17 Planning Commission GOI, can be downloaded


DRAFT  Twelfth Five Year Plan 2012-17 Planning Commission  Government of India, you can download now

NDC meeting on 12th plan on 27 Dec

Plan document says the govt’s cash transfer programme will be a major step towards improving efficiency
Kirthi Rao , livemint.com
First Published: Wed, Dec 05 2012. 

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The government envisages ‘adoption of a target to move major subsidies and major beneficiary payments to a cash basis linked to Aadhar by the end of the 12th Plan period. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi: The 12th Plan document moved a step closer to approval by the apex decision-making authority of the country, the National Development Council (NDC), with the draft being posted on the plan panel’s website for discussion.
The NDC meeting is to be held on 27 December, the link on the plan panel website said. Media reports had earlier said the document would be discussed on 29 December.
The document targets 8.2% growth in the five years from 2012 to 2017 based on the direct cash transfer programme that the government espouses that “adoption of a target to move major subsidies and major beneficiary payments to a cash basis linked to Aadhar by the end of the 12th Plan period would be a major step towards improving efficiency.”
With the draft 12th plan document titled Faster, Inclusive and More Sustainable Growth put up for discussion on the plan panel’s website, it has moved a step closer to approval by the apex decision-making authority of the country, the National Development Council.
The NDC meeting is to be held on 27 December, the link on the plan panel website said. Media reports had earlier said the document, which targets 8.2% growth in the five years from 2012 to 2017, would be discussed on 29 December.
Total resources for the central plan are estimated to be Rs.43.33 trillion, down from the Rs.47.69 trillion estimated at the time of the Full Planning Commission meeting in September as the resources of Public Sector Enterprises turned out to beRs.4.3 trillion lower than estimated then.
The share of rural development and panchayati raj sectors in the centre’s gross budgetary support has been lowered from the 25.01% realised in the 11th Plan to a projected 18.86%. Projected share of health and child development sector, however, has been raised from the 7.09% realised in the 11th Plan to 11.45%.
On direct cash transfers for subsidies, the draft document suggests setting 2017 as a target for implementation all over the country.
“Adoption of a target to move major subsidies and major beneficiary payments to a cash basis linked to Aadhar by the end of the 12th Plan Period would be a major step towards improving efficiency,’ the document said.

Odisha jail warders’ fast unto-death stir enters fourth day


Published: Thursday, Dec 6, 2012, 16:20 IST
Place: Cuttack | Agency: PTI

The fast-onto-death stir by jail wardens in Odisha entered the fourth day today even as over 50 striking warders were shifted to hospitals after falling ill during their hunger strike. The state government appealed to striking warders to call off their agitation saying the Chief secretary will hold a discussion with the State Anomaly Committee on December 15 vis-à-vis with the pay parity demand by them.

IG Jail S S Hansda also made a similar appeal on Wednesday saying the government is actively considering the demands of the striking warders and they should immediately call off their strike and join duties. He, however, maintained that jails across the state have made alternative arrangements to man the cells while the warders are on strike.

Nearly 1,500 warders in about 91 jails of the state launched indefinite hunger strike on Monday demanding better pay and cadre recognition. For over a decade now, the jail warders are demanding pay parity with police constables and status of class IV employees of state government. Warders pointed out that the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) in 2003 had ordered for pay parity of the jail warders with that of police constables immediately.

While 92 warders of Choudwar circle jail are on fast-onto-death strike, two of them were rushed to SCB medical college and hospital here on Tuesday night after they were taken ill. However on Tuesday, at least 16 other striking warders were shifted to various hospitals. Reports reaching here said that ailing warders from Berhampur, Bhubaneswar, Dhenkanal, Sambalpur, Kendrapara, Balaswar and many other places were shifted to hospitals as their condition deteriorated.

 

Government to implement Aadhaar in 43 districts from January 1, 2013 #UID


By PTI – NEW DELHI

06th December 2012 04:07 PM

  • Home Minister P Chidambaram said a decision on whether Aadhaar should be mandatory for getting benefits through direct cash transfer, would be taken by individual ministries/ departments with respect to their own schemes. (PTI photo/File)
    Home Minister P Chidambaram said a decision on whether Aadhaar should be mandatory for getting benefits through direct cash transfer, would be taken by individual ministries/ departments with respect to their own schemes. (PTI photo/File)

Within days of Election Commission issuing direction in the direct cash transfer scheme, the government today said it will be implemented in 43 districts, as against 51 announced earlier.

“As Aadhaar numbers are in the process of being issued, Aadhar enabled direct cash transfer is being implemented in a phase wise manner beginning with 43 districts from January 1, 2013,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

The government’s earlier announcement of implementing cash transfer in 29 welfare schemes in 51 districts from January 1 was objected to by BJP, in view of the state- elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

Following a complaint by the BJP, the Election Commission has asked the government to postpone implementation of the scheme in these two states.

Chidambaram, in his reply, said a decision on whether Aadhaar should be mandatory for getting benefits through direct cash transfer, would be taken by individual ministries/ departments with respect to their own schemes.

The electronic cash transfers will be based on Aadhar (Unique Identification Number) platform. The entire country is targeted to be covered by the end of next year.

“Since Aadhaar is based on unique identity of a person that includes finger print…, the proposed transfer will help in de-duplication and accurate targeting of the beneficiary,” Chidambaram said.

The schemes which would come under the purview of the cash transfer scheme from January 1 would include those of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Human Resources Development (HRD), Minority, Welfare, Women and Child Development, Health and Family and Labour and Employment.

Aadhaar, a 12-digit number, serves as a proof of identity and address anywhere in the country. The UIDAI has already issued 21 crore Aadhaar cards.