26 Feb 2013
in Advocacy, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights
Tags: Amravati, Drinking water, Environment, Indian Standard Time, Maharashtra, Village, Water resources, Water tank
In a very strange case here at Amravati, a village
named Kovala Jateshwar, which is almost 50 km away from Amravati, the local villagers are facing a unique problem.
The locals have complained that the well in their village has gone missing. They claimed that their well has been stolen.
Under the National Drinking water policy, two years ago, the village was granted Rs 36 lakh to avail the supply of drinking water.
Under this policy a water hole and water tank was build. But in fact one cannot see any of these in the village. Later the villagers found out that the well showed by the Grampanchayat actually belonged to a peasant.
Apparently the locals are wondering where the well actually went.
According to the sources, the documents have record stating that the work of the water hole and water tank is completed. But the fact is, until now no well is built in this village, only a pit is formed to build the well. The process to build water tank has not even started.
The village has only one drinking water pool through which the local villagers use to fill water. The local people are blaming the Grampanchayat for this situation.
When the state is severely hit by the drought, one cannot believe the fact that funds raised from the government policies are being misused.
16 Dec 2012
in Advocacy, Announcements, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Political Prisoners, Prison
Tags: Adivasi, Amravati, Gadchiroli district, Human Right, Hungerstrike, Nagpur, Naxalite, Supreme Court
DNA, Mumbai- Yogesh Pawar- Dec 16, 2012
Around 50 adivasis of Gadchiroli district incarcerated at the Nagpur central prison as political prisoners have commenced a hunger strike from December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.
For the past two years, these undertrials have been protesting the failure of the judicial process and the high-handedness of the local district police. These tribals have not even been presented in court for as many as 23 months. Many have expressed shock and surprise that this is happening to people from a district which has home minister RR Patil himself as guardian minister.
Several of these adivasis have been repeatedly re-arrested after courts threw out earlier cases against them. “We have not even been able to come out of prison and even go home before the police arrest us again. Some of us have been in prison for nearly six years now,” says a handwritten letter written by one of the inmates, circulated by their lawyer Surendra Gadling. He told DNA: “When they find that many of the cases are being thrown out by courts, they simply stop presenting them.”
As expected, RR Patil says that these are “exaggerated” and “isolated cases”. “Our government is committed to justice.” Incidentally Patil’s assurances must leave many with a feeling of deja vu. In April 2011, replying to a question raised by MLC Shoba Fadnavis, Patil had promised the Legislative Council that he would review all cases of tribals arrested under Naxalism charges in Gadchiroli. “Its been 21 months since,” Fadnavis says. “If the government was serious about this, there would be at least some movement. In stead, more and more injustices are being heaped on the hapless tribals. This is a recipe for disaster as the state governement is going on alienating its own people.”
Fadnavis’ words ring true when one looks at the case of one and half-year-old Azad Kalmati, who was born in Amravati prison after his mother was arrested when she has been pregnant for five months. He has lived in prison with his mother while his father Rajesh Kalmati, despite numerous pleas to the authorities, has been kept in Nagpur prison. Incidentally, the local court threw out the case made out against the couple on September 23, 2012.
“Just when we were hoping that we will be reunited as a family, the police have filed a new case under the Arms Act against us,” complains Rajesh in another letter written from prison. Gadling says he is shocked at the callousness with which the police are disregarding even Supreme Court guidelines on not handcuffing under-trials.
The new prison, constructed over 17.5 hectares at a cost of Rs14 crore two years ago, is in shambles, with most of the doors windows and fixtures including electrical and sanitary parts worth over Rs20 lakh stolen.
11 Dec 2012
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Political Prisoners, Prison
Tags: Amravati, Chandrapur, December, Gadchiroli, Gadchiroli district, Human Right, Human Right Day, Human Rights, Human Rights Day, Nagpur, Prison, R R Patil, State
( ABOVE IS THE POSTER MADE BY INMATES
Around 50 tribals of Gadchiroli district incarcerated at the Nagpur Central Prison as political prisoners have commenced a serial hunger strike from 10thDecember, International Human Rights Day to 21st December 2012
These tribal prisoners have consistently protested since the last 2 years against the failure of the judicial process and high handedness of the local district police. It is not a coincidence that Shri. R.R. Patil, the State home Minister is also the guardian minister of Gadchiroli district and all such violations of Human Rights are happening under his very own patronage. In April 2011, Shri. Patil while replying to a question raised by Ms. Shobatai Fadnavis had promised the State Legislative Council that he would review all cases of tribals arrested under charges of naxalism in Gadchiroli. However, there has been no intent to fulfill this promise in the past 21 months.
Along with this demand the protesting tribals have also raised the following grievances:
- The practice of the Gadchiroli police to re-arrest tribals immediately after their release from prison still continues (See attachment No.2). Despite numerous petitions from prisoners and civil rights organizations this violation of Human rights goes on unabated.
- Inability of the State administration to inaugurate the Gadchiroli prison (See attachment No.3). Although this prison has been completed since the past 2 years, the government has still not started it. Hence tribals of Gadchiroli are incarcerated in the prisons of Nagpur, Amravati and Chandrapur– prisons which are more than 150 to 300 kms from the trial courts. Resultantly, these tribals are not being produced before the trial courts for the past 23 months. This distance has also caused their family links to be severed.
- The practice of handcuffing undertrials on their way to court also still continues, despite the Supreme Court directives against its use (See attachment No.4). Recently, due to this illegal practice four undertrials were severely injured in a road accident. However the responsible police officials are yet to be punished.
- A two year old boy born in prison to a tribal couple has been compelled to be separated from his father. While father was transferred to Nagpur prison, his mother remains at Amravati prison despite numerous requests pending in the trial court and jail authorities (See attachment No.5).
- The atrocities of the district police and especially the notorious anti-naxal C-60 commandoes go on unimpeded. A undertrial, Ramesh Naitam seeks justice in the custodial death case of his mother (See attachment No.6).
The protesting tribals have requested the State legislative bodies in session at Nagpur to look into the above issues on the occasion of International Human rights day.
On behalf of the protesting tribals,
Adv. Surendra Gadling- email@example.com
( attchments are in marathi if you need pl email )
04 Nov 2012
in Human Rights
Tags: Amravati, Amravati district, discrimination, Health, Human Rights, India, Maharashtra, Mental disorder, Mental health, Nagpur, Nandgaon-Khandeshwar, Suicide, Tribal rights, Vidarbha
In Vidarbha, a village of the damned
Sukhada Tatke TNN, Nov 4, 2012
Unmindful of the scorching heat and the iron chains around his legs and hands, Raju alias Rajendra Dhere crouches on the ground, tracing his name in the mud with a finger. Ask him his age and what he does in life and he is quick to respond with One and Class One respectively. Then he begins rambling incoherently.
The 40-year-old’s plight is, bizarrely enough, reflected in almost every fourth house in Vadura, this village of 1,800 people in the Nandgaon-Khandeshwar block in the heart of Amravati district. Elsewhere in Vidarbha, the issue of poverty-stricken farmers committing suicide has taken precedence over all else. But in Vadura, or “paagalon ka Vadura” as it has come to be called, villagers have a greater concern: the silent demon of mental illness that has been afflicting people over the years and is now begging for government intervention.
The villagers are unaware of the draft Mental Health Care Bill of 2010 which prohibits chaining persons with mental illness. Raju’s family says that chaining Raju is the only way to keep him in “control”. “He tends to get violent. We admitted him to the Nagpur mental hospital thrice, but it has not helped,” says his brother’s wife, under whose care Raju has been since his farmer father committed suicide three years ago. Known as an intelligent boy and swimming expert in his teen years, Raju today bears no resemblance at all to his younger self.
No govt intervention as yet
Fifty-two year old Laxman Satange, better known as ‘Tiger’ in the village, does not reflect the picture of his youth either. He sits in a corner or roams around his house, engrossed in whatever catches his fancy. If it is a piece of paper, he folds it relentlessly for hours; if a pen, he doodles endlessly. His brother Prabhakar is in the same boat. Until two months ago, he would wander around the village and take his clothes off. Now he talks to himself and spends most of his time sleeping.
Despite the enormity of the problem, it was only last year, after worried villagers saw children behaving oddly in school, that they decided to do something. “The teachers noticed that several kids were not paying attention or looked disturbed,” says resident Purushottam Dhere. “They happened to come from families with mental disorders.
That’s when we approached the Apeksha Homeo Society for help, which co-ordinated with the Amravati health department and organised a medical camp. Psychiatrists and psychologists from private groups were also present.”
The camp was an eye-opener—of the 100-odd people who showed up there, 14 were diagnosed with acute mental illness and 26 others with milder variants. A doctor told TOI that most of the villagers suffered from psychosis and schizophrenia;
mental retardation was also prevalent.
Dr C L Sunkusre, district programme officer of the National Rural Health Mission, admits that the problem in the village is grave. “The prevalence of mental illness in this village is far greater than any other village in Amravati,” he says. “We need to give it special importance. The causes may be genetic, rooted in pregnancy problems or stress-related. We need to get to the root of it and think of solutions.”
According to Dr Pankaj Wasadkar, a clinical psychologist associated with the Manas trust in Vidarbha, Vadura is symptomatic of alarger disquietthat governs rural India: an acutelackof awarenessof mental health issues and treatment. Wasadkar had attended the camp and found that there was no reason that could be pinpointed for certain. “The problem is that there is no epidemiological base to the problem in the villageor even in rural India,” he says. “In this particular village, there has been no disaster or trauma. Some patients have been rendereduntreatablebecause treatment has never been provided to them. Some have chronic illness which came to the fore. Therefore, there needstobe governmentintervention where psychiatric treatmentis made available.Buteven after the health camp, the medicines were not distributed properly.”
Villagers too complain that there has been no follow-up by the health department. “The government is not doing anything,” says Dhere. “All we want is for experts to carry out a survey to examine the reasonssothat moresuchcases don’t occur. What scares us the most is that little children might develop the same problems.
“The signs in school are worrying enough,withkidsimitating the mentally ill they see around. It’s high time the government helped us.”
Rajendra Dhere, 40, in shackles bears little resemblance to the intelligent boy he once was. In Vadura village of Amravati, almost every fourth house has somebody who has lost his/her mental balance
It was only last year, after worried villagers saw children behaving oddly in school, that the health department decided to take some action
18 Sep 2012
in Advocacy, Announcements, Disability, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Violence against Women, Women Rights
Tags: Amravati, Bombay High Court, Dharni, discrimination, Hindu, Maharashtra, Maharashtra Government, Malnutrition, Mumbai, Vidarbha, Women Rights
Malnourished child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
MEENA MENON, The Hindu
Soon children under six and mothers in Maharashtra’s Melghat region, which is facing malnutrition will be tracked using management information system (MIS) following a directive from the Bombay High Court in August.
“Steps should be taken by the State Government under the auspices of the Collector, Amravati, to activate the MIS-based tracking of children and mothers,” the Court said in its order in an ongoing case on malnutrition.
The Court directed that implementation begin on September 17, 2012. The Government should formulate short and long-term plans to tackle malnutrition, and devise a suitable plan setting out targets to be achieved expeditiously, the Court said.
The Melghat region, part of Vidarbha comprises Dharni and Chikhaldhara tehsils. On average, 400-500 children below six die every year in Melghat of various causes linked to malnutrition.
On an application made by petitioner Purnima Upadhyay on July 20, the Court noted that there was no information on any government website on the status of undernourished children and on infant and child mortality.
Statistics submitted to the Court show that as of June 2012 the number of children in the Moderately Acute Malnutrition (MAM) and Severely Acute Malnutrition (SAM) categories were 3,431 and 561, while children who are Moderately Under Weight (MUW) and Severely Under Weight (SUW) numbered 10,047 and 3,798.
Between April and June 2012 there were 81 child deaths (35 in Chikhaldhara and 46 in Dharni), 42 stillbirths and four cases of maternal mortality. Ms Upadhyay submitted that the figures for malnourished children seemed to remain at 14, 000 over the last two years and the number of SAM and MAM children did not show any remarkable decline.
The Court had to intervene also in providing emergency services in the Melghat region. The 22 emergency flying squads there had no vehicles this year until it ordered quick action in mid August. Even after that, Ms Upadhyay told The Hindu on Saturday, some primary health centres hired vehicles for a month and for the rest tenders had been invited.
The flying squads operate from May to October every year to cater to remote villages. This year, she said, over 100 villages were cut off due to heavy rain and there was no help for them in any form.
Since May the squads did not have vehicles, as a result of which the villagers in remote areas were placed at high risk especially in a medical emergency, the Court said.
The Court was informed that earlier tenders had been invited from private bidders for supply of vehicles at Rs.14,000 per vehicle per month. But no bids were available at that rate. The Collector chaired a meeting in June of the Navsanjivani Yojna and a decision was taken to invite fresh tenders. The government counsel told the Court that fresh tenders were invited, and 10 days allowed for submission of bids.
18 Sep 2012
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights
Tags: A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Amravati, CPIO, India, Pratibha Patil, President of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, RTI
VINITA DESHMUKH | 17/09/2012
To a RTI query by this writer asking about the list of gift items loaned specifically to Pratibha Patil along with the evaluated price of each item, Rashtrapati Bhavan says information not necessary as it is a ‘temporary’ arrangement
The Rashtrapati Bhavan has officially admitted through a RTI (Right to Information) reply to this writer that “An MoU was signed on 15th June 2012 between Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Vidya Bharti Shaikshnik Mandal, Amravati, for display of 155 artifacts/mementos on a purely temporary basis, which in any case, cease to be operative with effect from 15th June 2013 and all the artifacts presently on loan shall be returned to the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum thereafter” but refuses to divulge detailed information on the list of artifacts transferred to Ms Patil’s museum.
The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the President’s Secretariat takes this ‘temporary’ arrangement as an excuse to not provide the list of artifacts given to Ms Patil to display it in her museum in her hometown, Amravati, along with their individual costs and countries that they were gifted from.
The RTI application filed by me on 3 August 2012, specifically asked the PIO of the President’s Secretariat, “List of gift items loaned specifically to Ms Pratibha Patil along with the evaluated price of each item; from which country did each gift item come from; what was the purpose of her visit when she received each of the gift item.” The reply is “do not arise in view of the answer at (3) above” (which is she would be returning artifacts by 15 June 2013 as the agreement would cease by then.
The RTI reply interestingly suggests that it was President Abdul Kalam who started the trend of moving out gifts received in the capacity of being President of India. The CPIO Saurabh Vjay states in his reply dated 6 September 2012, “No such requests have been made by any former President of India. It is, however, stated that in the past, 36 artifacts were handed over during the Presidency of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for being displayed in the Brahmos Centre, New Delhi.” This reply came to the writer’s query under RTI seeking “copies of official requests made by Presidents of India for loaning of gifts from 1990 onwards. Provide copies of all such correspondence within the President of India office as well as between President of India office and the relevant district/city authority where the President of India may have resided or the place where she/he wants to display the loaned gift items, form 1990 onwards.”
The RTI reply also states that “no such rules and regulations are available for loaning of gift items received by the President of India. This was in reply to my query, “Copies of Rules/GRs/amendments/correspondence for rules and amended rules regarding gift articles and souvenirs which are received by Presidents of India from other countries and within the country; Copy of rules and regulations for ‘loaning’ official gifts received by President of India to presidents on their retirement or loaned to any other organisation.”
To the query, “How many gift items in total does the ‘Tosha Khana’ of the President’s office have at the moment and what is the total amount in value?” CPIO Saurabh Vijay states in his reply that “as per our records there are about 2,500 gifts in ‘Tosha Khana’ of the President’s Secretariat and as regards the value of these items, no such records are available in the Art section.” This is indeed shocking for, as per the ministry of home affairs, any contribution in the form of gifts received by President of India or other dignitaries must be valued within 30 days of receipt of gift.
It may be recalled that a museum is being specially set up in Pratibha Patil’s hometown by the family trust, Vidya Bharti Shaikshnik Mandal, run by her politician-son Rajendra Shekhawat.
The writer is filing a first appeal to the President’s Secretariat since the information received is inadequate.
Read the previous article here: Pratibha Patil’s Museum: Gifts received by VVIPs from foreign countries can be purchased by them but can they be loaned?
(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet – The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart – Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.)
06 Aug 2012
in Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law
Tags: Amravati, Irrigation, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Nationalist Congress Party, Vidarbha, Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation, VIDC
In another explosive revelation, TOI has learned that costs of 38 irrigation projects
were increased from Rs 6,672 crore to Rs 26,722 crore by the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC).
‘s mega irrigation scam, which strained relations between Congress and its alliance partner, Nationalist Congress Party
), is getting murkier.In another explosive revelation, TOI has learned that costs of 38 irrigation projects in Vidarbha were increased from Rs 6,672 crore to Rs 26,722 crore by the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation
(VIDC). More shockingly, this mind-numbing 300% cost escalation of over Rs 20,000 crore was approved in a short span of three months between June and August 2009. (TOI, in recent months, has carried a series of reports exposing the contractor-minister-bureaucrat nexus that has led to criminal cost escalations in minor and big irrigation projects in the state.)The VIDC reasoned that the costs were revised because of the change in price levels, higher quotes by contractors, increase in the cost of land acquisition, engineering changes and other reasons. But the rush to revise costs and give bulk approvals to 38 projects in just three months has raised eyebrows in government circles.
In one unusual case, revised administrative approval for the Lower Wardha project was granted on Independence Day (August 15), a national holiday. The project cost was revised by VIDC’s then executive director from Rs 950 crore to Rs 2,356 crore on that day. Sources point out another case of the Upper Wardha project in Amravati, where the cost was revised from Rs 661 crore to Rs 1,376 crore in July.
Another case is that of the Bembala river project in Yavatmals district of Vidarbha. Official documents show that its cost was revised from Rs 1,278 crore to Rs 2,176 crore on August 14, 2009. Bembala was one of the 10 projects given revised administrative approvals hurriedly on that day.
On another day (June 24, 2009), VIDC issued 10 revised administrative approvals for Vaisawali, Lonwadi, Dagadparwa and Dava minor irrigation schemes, and larger projects such as Human Nadi, Kharbadi K T Weir, Jigaon, Khadak Purna, Pentakali and Chandrabhaga. Once these revised administrative approvals were granted, the VIDC hurriedly invited tenders for all the 38 projects.
These approvals were given by then executive director Devendra Shirke.