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In Odisha, 110 Primary Health Centres do not have a single doctor

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Blink News Service

Bhubaneswar: The Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Choubey in his recent reply in the Lok Sabha gave staggering figures relating to the sorry state of health affairs in Odisha. The minister in his data as submitted before the Lower House claimed that in the state many Primary Health Centres are working without a single doctor.

According to the data as furnished by the Union Minister the state hosts a total of 1288 Primary Health Centres (PHCs), which are local government hospitals in different parts of the state. However, interestingly a total of 110 such hospitals do not have a single doctor to attend the patients.

Moreover what is more worrisome that while many nearby states like Bihar, Telangana and others have many such PHCs which have four more than four doctors at one PHCs, Odisha has none. According to the government data there are 17 Indian states which reported not a single PHC without doctors.

The Union minister in his reply claimed that only two out of 1288 PHCs have three doctors to serve in the state. It also said that at most of the PHCs only single doctor is handling all the patients. The number of PHCs which are headed by single doctors in Odisha stood at the highest of 585. There are also 578 such centres which have two doctors to give their services and handle the patient flow.

Many other states have shown far better health indicators when it comes to the performance and strength of doctors in the state. States like Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Kerala among others.

However there was also some laggard states which like Odisha also reported to have PHCs with doctors. Some of them included-Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana among others.

The minister also said that health is a state subject and the responsibilities of handling it is with the state government. However he also said that Union government helps the states with funds to boost the healthcare facilities.

In his reply he said, “Public health and hospitals are state subjects, all the administrative and personnel matters, including that of recruitment of doctors at Primary Health Centres (PHCs), lies with the states. However, under National Health Mission (NHM), financial and technical support is provided to states to strengthen their healthcare systems…”

SOCIAL STIGMA: Baripada docs refuse to treat HIV+ pregnant woman

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Blink News Network

Bhubaneswar: In a case of blatant violation of prescribed guidelines of the government, a set of doctors working in the gynecology department of the Baripada-based Raghunath Murmu Hospital and Medical College showed how even some doctors are reluctant to accept people living with HIV.

In an infamous case, the erring doctors from the department in the medical college are said to have refused to attend a pregnant woman living with HIV while she continued to writhe in pain due to her terminal pregnancy period. She was said to be admitted by her husband, ASHA and other social workers after she was referred from a nearby local health centre to the Baripada medical college.  It is said that she had been staying unattended for more than 36 hours due to the reluctance of the medical fraternity to attend the patient.  She was admitted on Thursday night.

“We have been waiting for more than 36 hours and suffering in silence and no doctor is willing to attend my wife. She has been diagnosed with HIV and after the diagnosis; the hospital is showing step motherly behavior towards this. She was admitted at 11pm but was not attended by doctors. They are not attending her due to her HIV status,” her husband said.

The state health minister Naba Kishore Das meanwhile said that a probe into this regard has been initiated. He said, “I am moved by this event. I am unable to understand that why the doctors failed to treat her despite government guidelines in place. I will initiate enquiry into the matter the errant doctor responsible for the same will be punished,”

According to the HIV/AIDS (Prevention and Control) Act 2017 no person shall discriminate against the protected person on any ground including any of the following including the denial or discontinuation of, or, unfair treatment in, healthcare services. Moreover it also says that every establishment, engaged in the healthcare services and every such other establishment where there is a significant risk of occupational exposure to HIV, shall, for the purpose of ensuring safe working environment need to take adequate steps but discrimination and refusal of treatment is not allowed.

The law also bars people to either speak or write with hatred against the people living with HIV. The law also imposes penalty for the same. The act while talking about the penalty says, “Notwithstanding any action that may be taken under any other law for the time being in force, whoever contravenes the provisions of section 4 shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three months but which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.”

However discrimination based on the HIV status of the people is nothing new to Odisha. There have been cases where it resulted in social boycott, denial of treatment at government hospitals, refusal of families from even accepting and doing the last rights of people who died after battling with the viral disease. The lack of awareness on the fatal

CAG reports massive irregularities in Pradhan’s Ujjwala scheme

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Blink News Service

Bhubaneswar: The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its latest audit report on the performance of Ujjwala Scheme falling under the leadership of Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has reported massive irregularities in the scheme.

At a time when Pradhan has been boasting about the success of his flagship scheme, the CAG report has cited several major irregularities ranging from issuing of more than 12 domestic cylinders in blatant violation of norms while even allowing minors to get the connections, all beyond the rule book.

The CAG report said that in the home state (Odisha) of Pradhan, the scheme is faltering with lower coverage. It said that in Odisha the refill consumption for consumers who completed one year or more stood at 2.88 refills which is even less than the overage average refill consumption of 3.21 refills per annum.

The CAG report also accused that massive misuse of domestic connections granted under the scheme for commercial purposes.  According to the report 1.4 million beneficiaries consumed cylinders in the range of three to 41 in a month. IOCL and HPCL in a total of 3,44,000 cases allowed issue of two to 20 refills in a single day to Ujjwala scheme who have single bottle connection, hinting at a major misuse of the same in patronage of the ministry and IOCL and HPCL.

“Risk of diversion of domestic cylinders for commercial use was noticed as 198,000 PMUY beneficiaries had an average annual consumption of more than 12 cylinders which seems improbable in view of their below-poverty-line status,” the report said.

The report also said that it was revealed that there had been a mismatch between the names of 1.25 million beneficiaries under the scheme and the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC-2011) data, based on which the beneficiaries were decided.

The report which was tabled in the Lok Sabha also said that 18 per cent of the KYC verified customers were used by the LPG distributors to extend benefits to “unintended persons”. The CAG in its report hinted at a likely diversion of the cylinders through such gimmicks.

It was also revealed that in 13.64 per cent of the customers’ cases the inspection reports which is submitted based on inspection of kitchens for safety were not found hinting at defiance of safety norms as mandated under the guidelines for issue of connections under the scheme.

The report interestingly claimed that a total of 8,59,000 connections were also issued to people who were not even adults according to the SECC 2011 data which was a gross of the Ujjwala scheme.

 

 

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Face action if can’t stop child marriages, new rules in Odisha warn govt officials

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Blink News Service

Bhubaneswar: Making the compliance of actions against child marriage mandatory for the government officials involved in the process, the Odisha government has issues strict warning against erring officials.

In a latest notification on the Odisha Prohibition of Child Rights Rules, 2019, the State Women and Child Development Department had put a new clause of taking disciplinary actions against erring government officials who attempt to shun their responsibilities in averting child marriages in their area.

The rules bat for a creation of a Chief Child Marriage Protection Officer (CCMPO) who would be either a senior member from the State Women and Child Development Department or from the office of Mission Shakti. The new rules have empowered the CCMPO to take disciplinary actions against such erring officials who defy their responsibilities in checking child marriage despite the role they have been entrusted upon as per their roles.

Moreover it has also added some more responsibilities to the District Collectors to get their direct involvement in the cases of child marriage. The new rules mandate that the Collectors furnish report on the cases of child marriage from their district to the CCMPO. This move is likely to create more authentic data base on child marriages, experts opine.

According to Ghasiram Panda, Programme Manager at ActionAid there had always been ambiguity in terms of authentic data on child marriages and different offices had their own versions. Now he said with single nodal officer in the form of Collector for statistics, we can get an authentic picture of the social menace.

Unlike the earlier rules on child marriage, the state government in the latest rules has also empowered the Collectors to act in emergency situations where moving courts is not feasible.

The new rules have many new dimensions which were earlier not addressed in the earlier laws on child marriage. This has also ensured definitions of government originations involved in the process like Child Marriage Protection Officer (CMPO), Child Welfare Committee (CWC). It has also laid down the mandatory works each official under the system is supposed to do.

Rules after HC intervention

The new rules comes after an order from the Orissa High Court which asked the state to formulate new rules after a petition was filed before it by child rights activist Ghasiram Panda.

Panda in his PIL had cited latest Supreme Court order urging the HC to direct the state to formulate new rules on child marriage as mandates as per the SC order.

The HC had directed the State to come up with new rules in four months. Post HC order, a special committee was formed to overlook the matter.

The panel reviewed the state child marriage laws, other child marriage laws in other Indian states and came out with a strategy paper with their recommendations. The recommendations have led to formation of the new rules which is said to have addressed the earlier lacuna in the child marriage laws in the state.

Citizenship Bill: Amit Shah’s return gift for BJD ready

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Blink News Service

Bhubaneswar: With the open hearted support of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for the anti-Muslim Citizenship Bill put forth by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the regional party is now all set to get their return gift soon in the next session of the Parliament.

According to highly placed sources in the party, during the recent secret deal as sealed by the BJD with Shah, the former is reported to have assured the BJD MPs that a legislation to pave way for the formation of Legislative Council in Odisha will be brought in Lok Sabha in the Budget Session in 2020.

The assurance from the Home Minister came forth after the BJD decided to bestow their support to the BJP government at the Centre for the Citizenship Bill which sailed through rough weather but was passed with the open support of the BJD. The quid-pro-quo deal was another set of favour the BJD decided to give to the Modi brigade.

Earlier the BJD had also gifted a Rajya Sabha seat to their so called rival BJP anticipating a return gift from the saffron party which could ensure early formation of the Council. However the BJD decided to play smart in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday to shun the attention of the national media.

The party’s Rajya Sabha MP Sasmit Patra spoke in Odia in the Upper House who is otherwise used to speak in English. It is believed that it was a tactful decision of Patra to avoid the attention of the media from their decision for the bill.

TMC MP Derek O’Brien also asked the BJD and JDU who are often now called as friendly allies of the saffron party in Parliament to re-think on their support. “This is the time when the BJD and JDU should stand against the legislation. If you do not come forward now what will you tell to your grandchildren 20 years down the line,” he said.

Patra on his part did not oppose the bill on the behalf of the party but suggested to take care of persecuted minorities from Sri Lanka. He also said that NRC and Citizenship Bill are different topics and should be discussed separately.

 

 

 

 

RTI activist killed in the state which boasts of transparency 

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Blink News Service

Bhubaneswar: The law and order situation in the state seems to be at tenterhooks in the state. A recent killing of an RTI activist in Kandhamal in broad day light hinted at the sorry state of affairs under the Odisha Home Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The RTI activist identified as Abhimanyu Panda from Baliguda in the Kandhamal district of Odisha was shot dead by hooligans in the early morning of Tuesday. He was shot on his chest by the miscreants who fired bullets onto him from the bike and fled the scene.

The incident has raised serious questions on the safety of RTI activist and whistle blowers in the state. Many RTI activists from the state has already been attacked in the state in the recent past few years for seeking information.

Panda soon after being shot was rushed to the Baliguda hospital where he was said to have died during operation. The whole area in Baliguda is now under the grip of fear with day light murders executing openly under the noose of the state government.

RTI Activism a risky affair in Odisha

The state on the other hand is also labeled as anti-transparency by the RTI activists for blatantly rejecting RTI applications under the absence of a copy of their identity card and not filing the RTIs in particular formats. In most Indian states unlike Odisha, RTI activists do not need to furnish the ID card copies to the offices where information is sought as it makes the identity open to the office and pose threat to the lives of the information seeker.

This was the not the only case of murder of RTI activists under the BJD regime in the state. 40-year-old Krupasindhu Sahu from the Nacchinga village in Cuttack district and Ganesh Chandra Panda from Rangeilunda village of Ganjam were also killed in 2015. Both were RTI activists and were apparently killed for trying to use RTI to expose corruption cases.

Besides the cases of murders of RTI Activists, the cases of attacks on them are more rampant. Many activists are attacked for trying to use to pro-transparency weapon in the state which boasts of transparency.

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CITIZENSHIP BILL: Can Naveen claim being secular after supporting anti-Muslim bill?

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By-Guest Writer

New Delhi: The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is often referred in the Lutyen’s Delhi as the ‘friendly ally’ or the ‘Off the record ally’ of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The regional party has often helped the Modi government sail through rough weathers in the Parliament whenever needed.

The recent open support of the Naveen Patnaik’s party to the NDA government at the Centre for the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha has again raised doubts about the secret friendship. The BJP and BJD are ‘on-record rivals’ but their love for each other when needed is also in the public domain.

With the support to the controversial bill which bats for excluding the persecuted Muslims from the neigbouring country has also raised questions on the secular nature of the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The fresh developments has bolstered the speculations that something is fishy in the BJD-BJP relations

In what could be nothing but another blatant hint of a secret pact between the regional satrap and the saffron brigade, a battery of BJD MPs from both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Monday met the Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the national capital. This comes when the former was seeking support from his friendly parties to support the bill which could otherwise pave a platform for extreme polarization and when combined with the National Registrar of Citizens (NRC) could create chaos in the country and create ghettoization.

The BJD MPs under the garb of discussing issues from the state met Amit Shah in New Delhi Monday. However the BJD MPs citing their rhetoric of raising the issue of GST compensation and revision of royalty, both of which do not come under Shah’s ministry decided to meet Shah for such matters.

The grapevine has it that in this secret meet which is attributed as a secret deal between the BJD and the BJP, the BJD is most likely to have asked Shah to support their demand of formation of a Legislative Council in the state. A resolution of the same has already been sent from the Odisha Assembly for the consideration of the Parliament and Union government.  It is said that the full support for the BJD for the controversial bill was a trade off for the BJD to seek the BJP support for a State Council.

It is most likely that that if the Council comes into existence many MLA aspirants from the BJD who could not win elections or veteran politicians closer to Naveen and the party can be accommodated in the Council. Earlier the BJD almost gifted a Rajya Sabha seat to their rival BJP candidate which was seen as another step taken by Naveen to lure Modi and his team.

Earlier too the BJD MPs bestowed their favours in crucial times like GST, demonetization, No Confidence Motion and others. The BJD MPs tactfully either support the BJP government at the centre when they need it or they plan to walk out of Lok Sabha to ensure the numbers go in favour of the Modi government.

The Naveen government has also helped the BJP and its leaders before the 2019 elections by not joining the Mahagathbandhan and not opposing Modi with the union of smaller regional parties. Narendra Modi too also went softer towards Naveen in his rallies in Odisha after Patnaik announced not joining the Mahagathbandhan.

With the untimely meeting of the BJD MPs with Amit Shah, the crusader for the Citizenship Bill, a day before voting for the legislation it is evident that talks must have arose on the support to the bill and way forward for the same. The Congress party in Odisha meanwhile has planned to protest the decision to come up with this bill.

Under ‘Naveen Raj’, rape accused are made ministers, says Nayak

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Blink News Service

Bhubaneswar: A video of Odisha Congress spokesperson Satyaprakash Nayak speaking to party workers in a public meeting has now started making rounds on social media platforms since December 6.

Nayak is heard taking in length on how cases of rapes in Odisha are dealt under the BJD rule and how in many such cases they are suppressed to favour the regional party and also the prime accused in many cases.

The vocal leader of the Congress party during his speech fired fresh salvos against Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who also happens to be the Home Minister of the state and controls directly the police force in the state. Nayak told the party workers that in the history of Odisha, Naveen Babu will be remembered on how he dealt with cases relating to rapes.

The journalist-turned-politician also accused the state government of giving open patronage to his party men when they are accused in rape cases. He also said that in sensational cases of rapes which can put Naveen Babu in bad light or defame his government, the party tries to either suppress the case or give free hand to the police to do shoddy investigations which can result in acquittal of the accused.

“Under the Naveen Babu’s governance, the rape accused Pipli MLA Pradeep Mahararthy was made minister. He was acquitted not because of his innocence but due to the massive shoddy probe by the Crime Branch. Naveen Babu did not give the case to CBI but allowed its state police to probe the case,” he said.

He also said, “The Crime Branch denied divulging the evidence to the lower court but said it will submit the details in High Court. Why it was not submitted when required. The shoddy and partial probe by the Crime Branch led to acquittal of the BJD leader who was later gifted ministership. He was acquitted due to lack of evidence submitted by the police and its failure to do a fair probe,”

Nayak also accused that the Crime Branch made the key party men from the region as witnesses to the case to ensure a botched up investigation. The Congress leader also attacked the state government led by Naveen Patnaik for a botched up Kunduli rape case.

He said that the then Director General of Police admitted rape of the girl after meeting her. Later another MLA from the BJD itself also told the media about the rape and confirmed the same. The local forensic lab also validates presence of semen from multiple persons and also of occurrence of rape but later Naveen tried to suppress the case.

“The then DG, another BJD MLA confirmed rape. Gang-rape was validated by state forensic test. But Naveen did not show confidence in state forensic team. He sent the recovered items from the rape victim to West Bengal. It was said that in between the forensic items were changed to weaken the case. This is Naveen babu for you,” he said.

The Congress spokesperson also took a dig at the CM accusing him of failing badly in tackling with cases of rape and rising cases of crimes against women and on the other side rapping the opposition parties of doing politics.

“When we raise the main issues of lacuna in justice system this is not politics. Politics is what you do when it comes to cases of rape and assault to women in the state. Politics is when you award your rape accused party men with ministership. It is when you allow shoddy investigations by police to ensure weakening of convictions in rape cases,” he said.

After his fiery public speech made on how the Naveen government is struggling on the cases of women safety in the state at a time when the there is national outrage against rape cases, his video is now been shared multiple times on social media sites like Facebook and Whatsapp. The leader on the other side has also attacked the state government for their shoddy probes in rape cases in the state during his media briefings as spokesperson for the party.  

Pradhan’s flagship ‘Ujjwala’ fails to strike a chord in Odisha

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Blink News Service

Bhubaneswar: The Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan is often seen drum beating on the flagship scheme of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) managed by his ministry. However in his own state, the ambitious scheme of Pradhan seems to have failed in striking a chord with the people of Odisha.

Data given by him before the Parliament itself speaks louder about its failure on the ground in Odisha due to several practical reasons. Statistics given by Pradhan in the Parliament claimed that in Odisha lakhs of beneficiaries who received the one time assistance of free LPG cylinders never turned up to refill their cylinders.

Under the Ujjwala scheme, deposit free LPG connection is provided in the name of an adult woman member of a poor family and the beneficiary has an option to avail connection with 14.2 kg or 5 kg cylinder. The existing beneficiary with 14.2 kg LPG cylinder has an option to swap with 5 kg cylinder also.

According to the government data as furnished before the Lok Sabha, a total of 35.5 lakh beneficiaries in Odisha received the free connections from 2016 till December 2018 under the Ujjwala scheme where they got one time assistance of the free LPG connection. However out of the 35.5 lakhs, 12 lakh beneficiaries never returned to refill the cylinders even after one year of getting the connection, hinting as a glaring example of the scheme at this massive scale.

Pradhan himself has confessed failure of the scheme indirectly by citing the poor records of the scheme. In a written reply given in the Lower House (Q. No 182), Pradhan admitted that the LPG consumption under PMUY is very low. “The national average LPG consumption is 6.25 cylinders (14.2 kg.) per annum, whereas annual LPG consumption of PMUY consumer is 2.76 cylinders (14.2 kg),” Pradhan said.

On the matter of lower refilling rates, Pradhan said, “Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) have identified low consumption districts in respect of PMUY beneficiaries.  In order to improve the refill consumption in the low consumption districts, OMCs have intensified the customer contact to adopt and use LPG on sustained basis.”

Data from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas claimed that a total of 35,51,904 beneficiaries from Odisha received free LPG cylinders under the Ujjwala scheme by the end of December 2018. Out of this, 12,69,530 (36{59f0624d3ced00d77b8e9232b82192f95dd4883d775ba8cd9379dfd885f08a29}) people have not came back to refill their cylinders at least once. 

Out of 22,82,374 Ujjwala beneficiaries who returned for refilling, only 3,58,433 people have taken three refills, which means only 15.7 per cent people have refilled their LPG cylinders three times in a year while more than 84 per cent of the returning beneficiaries could not afford to take the connections beyond three times a year. In simple words, nearly 16 per cent of the total beneficiaries are actually continuously using the LPG for cooking and majority of the Ujjwala beneficiaries ditched the scheme.   

Cong asks where is 5T, if CMO has no info on monthly reports

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Blink News Service

Bhubaneswar: The denial of the office of the Odisha Chief Minister (CMO) Naveen Patnaik of having any documents relating to the monthly progress reports of the ministers has raised speculations in the state if there is actually any such document in existence or it was just an ‘eye-wash’.

The Odisha Congress recently raked up the issue in a press conference on December 4 where it produced ample RTI responses procured from different departments to buttress their point that there is something fishy in the overall hyped claims of ministers submitting their monthly progress reports from their departments to the CM.

In a press conference, the Odisha Congress spokesman Satyaprakash Nayak cited several RTI replies from the government and claimed that the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) has admitted on record of not having any monthly report of the ministers. He also claimed that majority of the ministers too failed to submit the reports to the public when asked under the provisions of RTI Act 2005.

“When the CMO was asked for the copies of the monthly reports as submitted by the ministers to the CM, the CMO in its response to an RTI said that it does not have any such copy. Majority of the ministers also said the same thing and denied having copies of the same with their department. This raises the question over the whole hyped claim of transparency of the government,” he said.

Nayak also said that except the food supplies minister Ranendra Pratap Swain all other ministers and departments denied furnishing such reports under RTI. “This has become a curious case. While Swain in his RTI replies have furnished all monthly reports and said it was sent to the CMO, the CMO on the other side denied any such reports in their possession. We want to know who is lying then when the minister says yes and the CMO says no?”

Nayak also took a dig at the tall claims of the 5T as claimed by the BJD-ruled state government and the star personal aide of CM-Karitkeyan Pandian. After the formation of the Naveen government in the state on May 2019, the CM and BJD supremo had ordered all ministers to submit their monthly progress report to him.

However denial of the CMO and other departments of possession of any such document hinted at an unfair practice and speaks largely at the non-transparent nature of the government. Doubts and speculations have now spiked on if such monthly reports are actually taking place or it has been only a game played in the media without any adequate proof.

Such RTI replies have shown a peculiar situation where a minister is ready to share the information but the CMO who talks big in 5Ts and crafted a special department on 5T on the same fails to acknowledge the existence of any such reports.   

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