Kerala Government sanctions 99 new posts in three mental health centres


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K.P.M. Basheer
5-Apr-2013, The Hindu

KOCHI : The much-neglected mental healthcare sector in the State is likely to get a boost with the Cabinet sanctioning 99 posts of psychiatrists, nurses and supporting staff for the government mental health centres.

The Cabinet on Wednesday okayed creating these posts at Kozhikode, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram mental health centres. The posts include five psychiatrists (one senior consultant, two consultants, two junior consultants) one assistant surgeon and ten nurses at each centre. Each centre will also get ten nursing assistants and six Grade II employees.

This is in addition to the recently created posts of two junior consultants and 20 nurses for each centre. This would mean that each of the three mental health centres would get an additional eight doctors and 30 nurses, apart from the supporting staff.

Recommendations
There was widespread criticism that the 2013-14 State Budget had neglected the mental health care sector in spite of urgent measures sought by the Estimates Committee of the Assembly. The committee, headed by V.D. Satheesan, MLA, had called for substantially increasing the medical and paramedical staff at the three mental health centres, better infrastructure and security, a new master plan for their development, and a plan for mental health rehabilitation. It had also recommended decentralisation of mental healthcare with all the district hospitals providing care and the three mental health centres as referral centres.

Mr. Satheesan said a meeting of legislators and policymakers would held in the presence of the Chief Minister next month to address the issues in the mental healthcare sector. The government would be coming out with a mental healthcare policy soon. The infrastructure at the centres would be developed in two stages. Master plans for the buildings, with innovative architecture, would be formulated.

Decision hailed
Welcoming the sanctioning of the new posts, Dr. Jayaprakashan K.P., State general secretary of the Indian Psychiatric Society, told The Hindu that the increase in the staff strength would improve the mental health care in the State. He, however, said infrastructural needs of the three centres should be taken care of urgently, too.

A senior psychiatrist, however, said finding qualified psychiatrists for the new posts was a tough task as there was heavy shortage of psychiatrists in the country.

 

#Chhattisgarh – Brief report of events in the JK Laxmi Cement Factory : accident, arson and arrests


Official seal of Chhattisgarh

Official seal of Chhattisgarh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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April 7, 2013,

Note received from Sudha Bharadwaj

In the past year there had been several agitations by farmers of various villages in the Nandini-Ahiwara area of district Durg, affected by the under-construction JK Laxmi Cement Plant, against serious illegalities committed by the company including the fact that an irrigation canal and traditional easements had been obstructed, that farmers had been defrauded of their lands and were paid paltry compensation, and that the public hearing for environmental clearance had been held quietly in an obscure tehsil head quarters unknown to the affected villagers. Most of these movements petered out due to the adamant attitude of the administration and the company.

However the farmers of Malpuri village had, since 14th February 2013, been picketing lakhs worth of heavy machinery and materials stocked by the company in the open next to the company compound. Hundreds of villagers – women and men – had been taking turns day and night and were eating and sleeping on the site of the agitation. Their demand was of permanent jobs to the villagers and those whose lands had been lost to the plant. Only recently, on 25th March 2013, on an invitation of these villagers, some of the workers and peasants associated with Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee) had travelled 35 km to participate in their observation of Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom day. At that time we were surprised to note that no attention whatsoever was being given to this more than a month-long and obviously determined agitation and no efforts had been made either by the administration or the company to resolve the issues.

On 1st April 2013 a serious accident transpired in the JK Laxmi Cement Plant. Three newly employed and inexperienced contractual employees were made to work in a deep pit in which they slipped and two were seriously injured. The contractors and management’s people in a state of panic simply got the pit filled in, burying the third dead worker – a dalit youth Tarun Banjare, and absconded. It was only when the picketing villagers came to the spot and raised a hue and cry that the local administration dug out the body of the dead worker.

The company and police claim that, two days later, on 4th April 2013 the agitating villagers entered the factory premises in hundreds and set fire to vehicles and materials. Crores of losses have been claimed. However, what exactly transpired requires to be properly and independently investigated. Immediately following the incident of arson, the entire area was cordoned off by heavy deployment of police and a large number of fire brigades from the Bhilai Steel Plant were immediately pressed into service to control the fire.

After the incident, in the intervening night of 4th and 5th April, the police had brutally rounded up and arrested almost all the males in village Malpuri Khurd, as well as 3 women who had been leading the month long agitation. It was the spirited demonstration of the women of the village, who came with babies in arms and squatted the whole of the next day before the Police Station Nandini, that led to 50 of the 97 villagers originally rounded up being released.

The young dalit leader of the more than month long picketing agitation – Virendra Kurre, an ex employee of the Bhilai Steel Plant who was terminated for union activities, was picked up at about 3 am on the night of the incident. He has been produced before a Magistrate and remanded to police custody for 8 days. As per the reports of journalists he appears to have been severely beaten.

The clout of the cement companies in Chhattisgarh is not a new thing, and in this particular area apart from the JK Laxmi Cement Plant, a base for the Indian Air Force is also being planned. Hence it is not surprising that the police and administration have decided to ruthlessly suppress the villagers’ agitation.

A team of the Sanyukt Trade Union Manch – a joint front of various trade unions including the CMM, TUCI and AICCTU – which had also investigated the accident of 1st April – is trying to help the villagers get proper legal aid.

 

India, Russia close to deal on remaining N-reactors


Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times New Delhi, April 08, 2013

A nearly three-year-long tussle between India and Russia over the modalities of the remaining two nuclear reactors – to be set up at Kudankulam – may finally be close to a resolution. India is willing to pay more if Russia accepts India’s nuclear liability law, a government source told HT.

A technical team is now in Mumbai to tie the loose ends so that the pact for reactors 3 and 4 can be signed at the earliest. India and Russia had signed a protocol for funding two new units at Kudankulam last year. The protocol provides that Russia will extend an export credit of $3.4 billion to Russian organisations to help build the units at four per cent interest and the total cost is expected to be more than $11 billion now.

The Kudankulam reactor 1 is to be operationalsied this month and reactor 2 will be functional within this year. “The additional cost being incurred for adhering to Indian liability law can be loaded into the reactor price and that is our position as we are looking to seal the deal for reactors 3 and 4”, said a source.

Negotiations regarding the two reactors in Kudankulam had been stuck over Russia’s refusal to accept the provisions of India’s nuclear liability law that came into force in 2010. Russia says these two reactors are part of the 2008 agreement for four additional reactors, which stems from the comprehensive Inter-governmental agreement (IGA) signed between India and the former USSR in 1988 for cooperation in areas of peaceful uses of atomic energy. The IGA signed in 2008, makes only the Indian operator liable for any nuclear accidents.

Russia wanted the same terms of pact to be continued for the 3rd and 4th as well – a position that Indian government could not accept in the light of the new liability law. The Kudankulam site, also plagued by anti-nuclear protest, is also critical to the India’s nuclear sector targets. The government has to show that it moves ahead with the nuclear energy target of 63,000 MW of power from nuclear power by 2032.

 

Monsanto’s Dark History


MONSANTO CHEMICAL COMPANY AT NITRO ON THE KANA...

 

By EcoWatch

06 April 13

rom its beginnings as a small chemical company in 1901, Monsanto has grown into the largest biotechnology seed company in the world with net sales of $11.8 billion, 404 facilities in 66 countries across six continents and products grown on more than 282 million acres worldwide. Today, the consumer advocacy nonprofit Food & Water Watch released its report, Monsanto: A Corporate Profile.

“There is a growing movement of people around the country who want to take on Monsanto’s undue influence over lawmakers, regulators and the food supply,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and author of the book Foodopoly. “People need to know about Monsanto’s history as a heavy industrial chemical manufacturer; a reality at odds with the environmentally friendly, feed-the-world image that the company spends millions trying to convey.”

“At the end of March, the American public saw first hand the unjustifiable power that Monsanto holds over our elected officials when an unprecedented rider, dubbed the ‘Monsanto Protection Act,’ was tacked onto the spending bill to fund the federal government,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! “This is an outrageous interference with our courts and separation of powers and we cannot sit back and allow our elected officials to continue to take orders from Monsanto at the expense of family farmers and consumers.”

The report offers a timeline of milestones in the company’s history including chemical disasters, mergers and acquisitions, and the first genetically modified plant cell.

“Despite its various marketing incarnations over the years, Monsanto is a chemical company that got its start selling saccharin to Coca-Cola, then Agent Orange to the U.S. military, and, in recent years, seeds genetically engineered to contain and withstand massive amounts of Monsanto herbicides and pesticides,” said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of Organic Consumers Association. “Monsanto has become synonymous with the corporatization and industrialization of our food supply.”

The report concludes with recommended actions for the federal government to take to temper Monsanto’s anti-competitive practices and control over agricultural research and government policies. It also suggests steps that regulators should take to better protect consumers and the environment from the potentially harmful effects of genetically engineered (GE) crops.

“Even though you won’t find the Monsanto brand on a food or beverage container at your local grocery store, the company holds vast power over our food supply,” said Rebecca Spector, west coast director of Center for Food Safety. “This power is largely responsible for something else we cannot find on our grocery store shelves-labels on genetically engineered food. Not only has Monsanto’s and other agribusinesses’ efforts prevented the labeling of GE foods, but they spend millions to block grassroots efforts like California’s Prop 37 in order to keep consumers in the dark.”

“The chemical pesticide industry, with Monsanto leading the way, took over U.S. seed industry and engineered bacterial genes into food crops with the primary purpose of selling more weed killer that contaminates our food, water and bodies,” said David Bronner, the CEO of Dr. Bronner‘s Magic Soaps and leader in GE food labeling campaigns across the country.” Just like the citizens of Europe, Japan and China, Americans deserve the right to opt out of the genetically engineered food science experiment.”

 

 

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