Monday, October 31, 2011

Bengal’s children not have better chances of life?

In the latest spurt of baby deaths, the Burdwan Medical College Hospital — 12 to 14 babies reportedly died there in three days — competed with the B.C. Roy Postgraduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences in Calcutta, where 17 babies have reportedly died in four days. The Burdwan hospital has admitted that its infrastructure is inadequate: 151 babies are sharing 60 beds in the ward. This is infrastructure at its very basic, without going into equipment or attendance. The B.C. Roy paediatric hospital is always having to deal with more patients than it can accommodate, it being a referral hospital. Sudden clusters of deaths are not unknown here, but the hospital hopes to do better with the modern sick newborn unit supposed to start operating from today. Just as the Burdwan hospital is hoping to add 130 more beds by December.
More beds, more machines, more care, more technology will all help, and these should have been in place long before. But the problem is not confined to the hospital. Many of the babies who are brought in are incredibly underweight, a telling comment on the mother’s health. Some are far too ill, which suggests that the ignorance, fear and poverty of their guardians prevented early diagnosis and care. There is also a breakdown of coordination at different levels. While delivery in hospitals and nursing homes is being encouraged, there is no institutional preparation for a heavier load, as the Burdwan hospital has pointed out. Then again, everybody is referred to B.C. Roy hospital, which, for it, is a close to impossible situation. But hospitals in the districts are either unable or unwilling to treat ill babies. These issues should be addressed too. Should Bengal’s children not have better chances of life?

Dying young

Sir — I cannot understand how the West Bengal government gave the B.C. Roy Children’s Hospital a clean chit after so many infants died in the past few days. The inquiry ordered by the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, after the spate of infant deaths earlier this year has not been concluded as yet. It is true that many of the cases referred to the doctors at the hospital are extremely complicated. Even so, these cases need to be handled with care. No death should be treated as ‘routine’. Moreover, if there is no negligence on the part of the doctors and the hospital staff, then the hospital authorities would not have admitted that on an average five infant deaths occur out of the 300-odd cases on a daily basis.
The problem is the absence of proper neo-natal care and the lack of sincerity on the part of doctors. There is also a shortage of incubators and other important equipment. Infectious diseases claim the lives of many babies. This will continue if the hospital authorities do not take urgent steps to change the work culture.
Yours faithfully,
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad

Bengal rulers mafia helpers

A Trinamul Congress activist whom some police officers described as a murder suspect was shot dead in front of at least four people in an office of the party in Dum Dum on Sunday morning.
Senior Trinamul leaders claimed that Manoj Sahani, 36, a supplier of building materials, was a “victim of political conspiracy”.
Manoj, a resident of Ramakrishna Pally in Nimta, was watching TV with four local youths in the party office near the Jessop factory, off Jessore Road, when the assailants struck.
“Two youths in their early 20s came to the office in a taxi around 11.10am. They called Manojda by his name and as soon as he got up from his chair, they shot him point-blank,” said a witness who did not want to be named.
A couple of minutes later the duo walked out of the office, got into the taxi in which they had come and fled in the direction Nagerbazar. Manoj was taken to a municipal hospital at Dum Dum where he was declared dead on arrival.
The Trinamul activist had shifted to his newly-built home in Nimta, on the northern city fringes, a year and a half ago with wife Umarani and their children Simran, 4, and Siddharth, aged six months
Umarani said her husband would leave home early in the morning and spend most of the day in Dum Dum. “He used to come back briefly in the afternoon for lunch,” she said.
Champak Bhattacharya, the superintendent of North 24-Parganas police, said sleuths were trying to find out whether Manoj had a criminal past. “District cops and the CID are jointly probing the murder.”
Investigating officers suspect professional killers had been hired for the job as only one bullet was fired to kill Manoj.
A section of police officers said the activist was a suspect in a murder committed in the airport area a month ago.
Municipal and urban development minister Firhad Hakim, sports minister Madan Mitra, education minister Bratya Basu and junior Union minister Mukul Roy were among the senior Trinamul leaders who visited the spot and spoke to the Sahani’s family members.
Mitra alleged Manoj was a victim of political conspiracy. He blamed the CPM for the “worseing law and order situation in Dum Dum”.

Mamata's reward to Gurung for helping her to become Chief Minister

- Morcha welcomes Mamata gesture to write off Rs 100 crore
Darjeeling, Oct. 30: The state government has accepted the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s demand to write off electricity dues and outstanding taxes to the tune of over Rs 100 crore that had accumulated over the past three years because of the party’s “non-cooperation movement” in the Darjeeling hills against the administration.
The waiver, coming at a time the state is reeling from a severe financial crunch, is being seen as an attempt by the Mamata Banerjee government to turn into a goodwill gesture an otherwise arduous task of collecting dues that had accrued because of a boycott call by the Morcha, whose writ runs large in the hills.
The government would also have risked antagonising the Morcha if attempts were made to collect the dues at a time the state and the party have mended bridges with the formation of an administrative arrangements for the hills and the announcement of several development projects, observers said.
Darjeeling district magistrate Saumitra Mohan said his office had received a circular from the government announcing the waiver. “All taxes have been exempted by the state government. Hill residents will, however, have to pay their taxes and bills from August 2011.”
After the deal to form the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration was signed in July, the Morcha had called off the non-cooperation movement and said the hill people would start paying taxes and bills from August this year. Morcha chief Bimal Gurung had, however, requested the government to waive all dues accrued till August. Several people have started paying and clearing the dues accumulated since August.
Since April 2008, the hill people had not paid power and phone bills and land and transport taxes to demand a separate Gorkhaland state.
The observers said the waiver came as a relief for the Morcha as well. “There was no way the Morcha could have asked the hill people to pay the dues as the party had only asked them to stop paying bills and taxes,” an observer said.
The Morcha leadership welcomed the government’s decision. “We had been demanding that outstanding dues be waived. We welcome the decision,” said Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri.
Sources said the waiver would cost the state exchequer more than Rs 100 crore. They said unpaid electricity bills amounted to Rs 72 crore while the outstanding sales tax came to around Rs 25 crore. Other outstanding dues such as transport and land taxes add up to Rs 5 crore.
Mohan said the state could not write off telephone bills as the department was overseen by the Centre. “The telephone department is under the Centre and we have not received any instructions from Delhi yet,” he said.
Sources said the telephone dues would not be as high as the outstanding power bills. “This is largely because one can’t refuse to pay for cellphone recharge vouchers. Bills of private companies providing services also had to be paid. BSNL had cut connection to all landlines barring those in government offices two years ago,” a telephone department official said.

How public money is looted in India by politicians


The colossal statues, gargantuan memorials, swathes of parks. As Mayawati goes on a building spree, we look at how dalits have actually fared in Uttar Pradesh

Ashish Tripathi | TNN  31.10.2011

Ambedkar Memorial in Lucknow

    Agiant statue in a Lucknow square made 12-year-old Rashi curious. Whose statue is this, she asked her father. Although a BSP worker, Jhanki Ram couldn’t go beyond the name – Jyotiba Phule. But not wanting to show his ignorance, he added, “He was a Mahatma who did a lot for the dalit community”. Both had come from Etawah to take part in Kanshiram Parinirvan functions this month. For them, the tour of dalit memorials raised by Mayawati was empowering. “It shows that we also have a history,” said Ram, especially impressed by the massive memorial of dalit icon Bhimrao Ambedkar. 
    The memorials, built at a cost of more than Rs 3,000 crore, are described as places of dalit pilgrimage by the BSP, UP chief minister Mayawati’s party. Dalit aspirations and assertions have increased manifold during her regime. They now have a ‘history’ to be proud of and icons to follow. It’s reflected not only in the statues of Ambedkar installed in almost all villages with a dalit population but also in the increase in dalit outfits such as Valmiki Samaj, Pasi Mahasangh and Charmkar Parishad. 
    Vital parameters, too, have changed for the better in UP. The recent Human Development Index report reveals that its Net State Domestic Product (NSDP) grew by 76% in the last five years, almost at par with Gujarat. The planning ministry revealed that UP was among five states which had higher growth rates than their 11th Plan (2007-12) targets. Its GDP grew to 7.28% as against a target of 6.10%. It was also awarded “best performing state in agriculture” by the UPA this year. 
    But all this wasn’t achieved in a jiffy. Political observer Sudhir Panwar said the condition of dalits started changing only from the ’50s with land reforms, followed by loan waivers for schedule castes by Indira Gandhi in the ’70s, abolishing of bonded labour and development of urban centers. This opened new avenues for landless dalits who were dependent primarily on farm labour. Reservation in government jobs added a much-needed impetus to dalit empowerment. 
    Mayawati, in a way, has taken forward this movement. In the last five 
years, she has pumped over Rs one lakh crore into various schemes, particularly for dalits and the marginalized. These include development of Ambedkar villages, giving more than two lakh free houses for the urban poor, Rs 400 monthly pension for those deprived of the benefits of BPL, and scholarships and free bicycles for girls in class XI and XII. In addition, there’s 23% quota for SCs and 27% for OBCs in industrial units under a publicprivate-partnership, 23% quota for dalits and tribals in government contracts, land for those living in slums for at least five years and filling up more than a lakh vacancies reserved for dalits and backward communities. 
    Economic growth has also been spurred by heavy investment in real estate in the National Capital Region, in expressways, in the power sector and in small and medium enterprises-Politically, there’s been stability. Before Mayawati’s regime, from 1989 to 2007, no party in UP had absolute majority. 
    However, a study, ‘Rethinking Inequality: Dalits in Uttar Pradesh in the Market Reform Era’, by Devesh Kapur, director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India (University of Pennsylvania), says Mayawati is the product of dalit empowerment, not the 
cause. But, yes, processes have accelerated under her. “The transformation started in the ’90s when dalits started migrating to cities and got their children educated,” said Lenin Raghuvanshi, an activist. A new dalit middle class emerged. Some of UP’s leading doctors are dalits. But Lenin says, “Ambedkar had said that dalits would have to organize, agitate and educate. Mayawati hasn’t been able to change the feudal mindset. Memorials may make dalits feel good, but the caste system has just the opposite effect.” 
    Former IPS officer and dalit activ
ist S R Darapuri finds the memorials a criminal waste of money. “Babasaheb was not in favour of installing statues. Mayawati could have done wonders had she established Ambedkar libraries in every village,” he said. 
    There are other harsh realities. While the Human Index Report lauds UP for NSDP growth, it also states that the Human Development Index is below the national average of 0.467 due to poor health services and low incomes. Caste-based rivalry can still be found in government departments, universities and educational institutions. 
    Also, the fruits of welfare schemes haven’t reached the grassroots level because of corruption, said Darapuri. Cadres collecting money for donations, party funds, etc, aren’t above board. Mayawati, he alleged, had also created a rift between dalit sub-castes. 
    Whatever be the case, there’s no doubt that dalits are seeing better days, at least in cities. For example, in Para, a locality in Lucknow, they live in houses donated by the government. For Shewta, a dalit student, the free bicycle she got has revolutionized her life. “Now girls can easily go to school and run errands,” she said. 
    But some 15 km from Para, in Ismailganj, dalits are still treated as untouchables. “Earlier, we weren’t allowed to draw water from the public hand pump by higher castes. They have relented now, but they still wash the pump after we use it,” said Hema, a local resident. There are no drains, sewer lines or roads here. The primary health clinic is a garbage dump. 
    Even crime against dalits has increased, says Lenin, due to their newfound assertiveness. Mayawati claims that since 2007, when she came to power, murder of dalits has shown a decline by 29.30%, arson against them has been brought down by 50% and rape of dalit women by 19%. Ministers, MLAs and MPs who are involved in criminal activities have been booked by the police and sent to jail — no other party has done this in India. But Darapuri claims that 40% of atrocity cases against dalits aren’t registered because of pressure from top police echelons to keep crime rates low. 
    At the socio-economic level, says Ashok Chaudhary, a well-known social activist, significant growth isn’t visible. Despite all that the BSP has done, the state machinery has not changed. “BSP’s role in economic empowerment remains the same as any other mainstream party.” 
    Social and political growth of disempowered sections, he says, comes with rising consciousness about their rights and eagerness to use whatever political space is available. “This consciousness will grow in the coming years whether Mayawati remains in power or not,” he says. There will be many, both dalits and upper castes, waiting for that dawn. 


% of dalits in India: 16.5% 
State with the highest dalit population: UP 
% of dalits in UP: 21.1% 
Literacy rate of dalits in UP: 50% 
Rise in enrolment rate of dalits in schools: 56% in 2001 to 80.2% now 
Number of crimes against dalits in India in 2009 (National Crime Records Bureau): 33,594; UP’s share: highest at 22.4%. 
Dalits with pucca houses: rose from 18.1% to 64.4% in eastern UP 
Those running businesses: 4.2% to 11% in the east 
Non-dalits accepting food and water at dalit households: up from 1.7% to 72.5% in eastern UP 
Rise of dalit business families in UP: 4.2% to 11% in east

How it will be solved?

No solution in sight to night train problem

Jayanta Gupta TNN 31.10.2011

The restrictions started since the Jnaneswari carnage

Kolkata: It’s been over 19 months since passenger trains stopped running at night through Jangalmahal. But there seems to be no solution in sight yet. While the governments of Orissa and Jharkhand have agreed to provide assistance to the railways if trains are run at night through Maoist-affected areas, security agencies in West Bengal have refused to give a green signal along the Kharagpur-Tatanagar and Kharagpur-Adra sections of South Eastern Railway (SER). 
    “There is nothing we can do till security agencies give us the clearance. After all, passenger security is at stake. Law and order being a state subject, the railways can’t take a unilateral decision. We are hopeful that the crisis will be resolved soon and are extending the restrictions by seven days at a time only. Presently, the restrictions will be in place till November 3. We know that passengers are unhappy with the revised schedules, but we are also facing operational problems keeping all the trains running on regularly,” an SER official said. 
    The restrictions came into place after the Jnaneswari Express disaster on May 28, 2010. Since then, nearly all westbound trains from Howrah have been rescheduled. The trains that left Howrah in the evening are now starting early in the morning. Passengers have to either book cars in advance to reach the station or 
spend the night there to catch these trains. Some confusion still prevails — particularly among passengers planning to board from midway stations — about the train schedules. 
    Some trains are also being run along diverted routes, creating problems for passengers at smaller stations. Even important trains like the Howrah-Hatia Express are following a different route through Dhanbad and Bokaro. From the operational point of view, SER is cutting a fine line as many trains share rakes with others. “The original rake-sharing 

programme had been made keeping the pre-restriction timings in mind. Now that the timings have changed, it is touch and go for several trains. For instance, the Gitanjali Express shares its rake with the Sri Jagannath Express to Puri. If the Gitanjali Express to Howrah is delayed, the train to Puri also has to be rescheduled,” the official said. 
    Several high-level meetings have been convened, but to no avail. All the state government could suggest to the railways was to illuminate the tracks and install CCTV cameras along the affected stretches and run trains with armoured locomotives. With the new state government making efforts to sort out the Maoist issue, there was a time when it was felt that the restrictions would be withdrawn soon. However, with recent developments pointing to the Maoists’ hardline stance, no solution seems to be in sight.

Virtual collapse of administration in West Bengal


City caught in Dawood and Rajan’s drug war

Caesar Mandal TNN 31.10.2011

Kolkata:It is virtually a battle of supremacy between the notorious D gang and the one led by Chhota Rajan to gain control over international narcotics trade through Bengal. Much to the surprise of the country’s high-level intelligence and enforcement agencies, both the gangs are fast spreading their tentacles across the vast stretch of northeast and Bengal to control the billion-dollar racket of smuggling high-quality narcotics to several foreign countries through the eastern states. 
    Following the seizure of at least five bulk narco consignments in Kolkata, the specialized investigating agencies have reasons to believe that the ‘big children’ of the underworld are behind the trade, as all of the consignments were carrying marks of a highly professional gang. 
    Some time back, the Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) Kolkata recovered expensive white sugar from a courier agency’s office in central Kolkata. The powder was put in small packets and stuffed inside diapers. The packet was supposed to go to South Africa. NCB officials tried their best to trace the sender of the pack, but all they could gather was that the consignment was sent from north-east India. 
    Within months, a similar consignment of white sugar was seized from another courier agency and that was supposed to go to Australia. This time also, a north-eastern state was the place of ori
gin. In the following five months, three more consignments were confiscated and in all three cases, the modus operandi was similar. Sometimes the powder was hidden inside a religious book or in some cases, inside sanitary napkins. 
    Initially, the NCB investigators had reasons to believe that the notorious northeast narcotic smuggling gang was behind the consignments. But a detailed probe proved them wrong. “Two Kocharis, Pakhi Miya and Munna Musalman, were the key men behind most of the narcotic trade in northeast. But in recent times, their link was found nowhere in the 

trade,” said an intelligence official, who hinted that the recent modus operandi does not match the earlier gang’s work style. The recent work is more sophisticated and is definitely the brainchild of a more organized gang. 
    Intelligence officers have reasons to believe that a top gangster (read Chhota Rajan) has taken over the trade and is using Siliguri and Kolkata as major transit routes. And most importantly, the gang has planted its men in the city to handle the trade. The intelligence officers who now don’t want to disclose the name of the gangster just revealed that the key person has a stronghold in Nepal and his key aides are operating the entire trade from the neighbouring country. 

    Interestingly, Rajan, the arch rival of Dawood Ibrahim, has been camping in a south-east Asian country, but he has a strong network in Nepal. In the past one year, taking the opportunity of continuous split in Rajan’s gang, D-company had also tried to gain a strong foothold in Nepal, which sparked violent gang rivalry in the Himalayan state. 
    Sources said months ago, a Bangladeshi don who was arrested in Kolkata and later crossed into Nepal after being chased by Kolkata Police’s Special Task Force, has also joined hands with Rajan, after spending a few months in Nepal jail following massive crackdown on the fake currency racket. 
    Rajan, once the main weapon of Indian agencies to combat D-company, has now been abandoned. One of Rajan’s close aides, who was sent to Karachi in 2001 to assassinate Dawood, is now believed to be working for the Indian agencies. The youth has a family business in Kolkata and a few months ago he was in the city. 
    NCB officials admitted that during each seizure of white sugar, they got a specific tip-off from an unknown caller, which only suggests that someone close to the gang was behind the successful interception. 
    Gathering these pieces of information, intelligence officers have hinted that the gangs have already spread their tentacles in the city and at any point of time, the gangs may pave way for terror outfits.

Mamata's Terror rule in Bengal with Mafia help

Trinamool man shot in party office

Mamata Orders CID Inquiry, Ministers Rush To The Scene Real Estate Rivalry May Be Behind Brazen Daylight Murder

Sanjib Chakraborty | TNN 31.10.2011

A police officer inspects the Trinamool office on Jessore Road where party leader Manoj Sahani (inset) was shot dead on Sunday morning. (Right) The family in mourning

Kolkata: A Trinamool Congress youth leader was gunned down in a party office in Dum Dum, north Kolkata, just before noon on Sunday. Police suspect it was a contract hit, spurred by vicious rivalry in the real estate business. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered a CID probe into the murder, said municipal affairs and urban development minister Firhad Hakim. 
    Thirty-five-year-old Manoj Sahani was watching a TV soap at the Jessore Road New Quarters party office when a gun
man stormed in, walked right up to him and shot him in the chest. People in the busy locality stood stunned as the killer walked out into a waiting taxi. 
    It’s as if the brazen nature of the murder was intended to send a message, say local residents. The killing triggered hectic political activity. Two ministers — Hakim and Madan Mitra (sports) — rushed to Sahani’s home along with local MLA Sujit Basu.They promised a quick inquiry into the murder and “de
manded” that police immediately arrest the killers. Senior police officers, including DIG(PR) Siddhi Nath Gupta and North 24-Parganas SP Champak Bhattacharya personally investigated the scene of the crime. However, till Sunday night, there were no leads and no one had been detained. 
    Manoj, a resident of Durganagar in Dum Dum, had criminal antecedents and was involved in supplying building materials, say police. It is a big bucks business, 
where crime syndicates and a section of politicians have an interest. The CPM and Trinamool are locked in a brutal battle to gain control of this multi-crore trade, say sources. On September 10, CPM leader Mosharaf Mollah was gunned down in broad daylight on Rajarhat main arterial road by gunmen on a bike. Like Trinamool’s Manoj, Mollah was also a building materials supplier in Rajarhat, the city’s northern outskirts that is going through an unprecedented realty boom. 
    Trinamool leaders on Sunday alleged that CPM-backed miscreants plotted Manoj’s murder because he ran a realty business “in an area dominated by a CPMled syndicate”. 
    “After the Trinamool Congress came to power in the state, the CPM can no longer lead the syndicates. CPM-backed miscreants have unleashed a reign of terror in the locality by killing an active Trinamool worker like Manoj. They want to gain control of the real estate business
in the area. We have asked senior police officers to conduct a proper inquiry into his murder,” said Hakim. 
    CPM state committee member Amitava Nandy rubbished the allegation. “It is completely baseless. None of our men are connected to the crime. The Trinamool is playing a political game with such unsubstantiated allegations,” Nandy said. 
    After preliminary investigation, police suspect that a contract killer carried out the murder. Some eyewitnesses are 
being questioned to get a description of the attacker. “The killer fired at him at point-blank range. Manoj was struck in the left side of his chest. The motive behind the murder has not been ascertained yet. We are investigating all the possible angles,” a police officer said. 
    According to police, the killer struck a little after 11.30am, possibly after ascertaining that the Trinamool leader was alone. They could have studied his movements over the past few days. Eyewitnesses say a yellow taxi stopped in front of the party office with the engine running. There were two passengers in the rear seat. One of them got out and walked quickly into the one-room office, pistol drawn. Manoj had no time to react. The killer stood barely two feet from him and fired. He turned around and walked back to the taxi as Manoj slumped to the ground. 
    Locals took Manoj to Dum Dum hospital where he was declared brought dead. 
    “Some locals partially remembered the taxi’s registration number as ‘5154’. We are looking for the vehicle and its owner. Raids are being conducted at several areas to nab the criminals. Some local miscreants who were involved in the building materials supplying business are also being interrogated. Nearby police stations, including Baranagar and Barrackpore, have been alerted,” a police officer said. 
    Police said that Manoj had a criminal past. He was accused in a murder in the airport area last year. “Manoj was arrested in this connection and released on bail after he surrendered before the court. We are investigating whether gang rivalry could be a motive behind the murder,” the officer added.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Politics and negligence take 12 children lives

Now, 12 crib deaths in Burdwan hospital

Inquiry Ordered Following Directive From Mamata

Debajyoti Chakraborty TNN 29.10.2011

UNDER SCANNER: The paediatric ward of BMCH

Burdwan: A day after Kolkata’s BC Roy child hospital was given a clean chit on the death of 12 children, another 12 have reportedly died in the pediatrics ward of Burdwan Medical College Hospital (BMCH) over the last two days. The hospital on Friday sent a prima facie report to the state health department, but chief minister Mamata Banerjee has directed top health officials to visit the hospital to probe the cause of the deaths. 
    Following Mamata’s directive, director of medical education Susanta Banerjee and health and family welfare commissioner Dilip Ghosh reached the hospital on Friday and initiated a probe. They held meetings with hospital superintendent Gadadhar Mitra and BMCH principal Sarit Choudhury. 
    Talking to TOI, BMCH deputy superintendent Tapas Kumar Ghosh said: “At present, around 160 babies are admitted in the pediatric ward which has only 60 beds. The one- to three-day-old babies were un
derweight and have been suffering from various disease like encephalitis, septicemia and jaundice. These led to their deaths,” he added. 
    The authority admitted that hospital staff work under serious pressure as hundreds of patients are referred here from other districts. Infrastructural bottleneck and lack of manpower add to the problem, but the deaths were not caused due to negligence, a source said. 
    “So far, none has lodged any official complaint,” said Ghosh. There 
have been no agitation in the hospital due to the deaths. Hospital sources said three to four babies die everyday on an average. 
    The two ministers of this district — law minister Maloy Ghatak and science and technical education minister Rabiranjan Chattopadhyay — visited BMCH earlier and tried to improve the facilities but the situation has hardly improved. At present, there’s neither a neo-natal unit nor a sick neo-natal care unit in BMCH.

And more deaths continue...........

Four more babies die at BC Roy


Parents wait outside BC Roy Hospital on Friday 28.10.2011

Kolkata: Four more babies died at BC Roy Post Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences on Friday with the hospital administration maintaining that the deaths were inevitable since the infants had been brought in a critical state. The health department said it was taking steps to check crib deaths at BC Roy, which is the biggest referral paediatric hospital in the state. 
    A state-of-the-art sick newborn unit will be thrown open by October 31. It will have 30 to 40 beds and equipment that have so far not been used in the hospital. Apart from raising the number of beds, it will also let the hospital provide better care to critical patients. “It’s going to be a big step. Babies with low birth weight and infections will be accommodated there. We hope to be able to check the number of deaths once the unit starts rolling next week,” said D K Pal, superintendent of the 300-bed hospital. 
    Critically ill babies at government hospitals, referred to BC Roy, will now be provided free transport. Ambulances will be stationed at district hospitals to move critically ill babies to BC Roy. This will help curb the mortality rate. 

    A senior official said pregnant women will also be given the facility. The ministry has also instructed all hospitals to create a patient-friendly environment, other than arranging chairs for pregnant women in the waiting space outside labour rooms. 
    A recent visit by a central team found a lack of user-friendly amenities in hospitals apart from poor sanitation. A drive to correct these will begin from November. 
    Terming Friday’s deaths as 
“unavoidable”, Pal said while three of the four infants were underweight, one had meningitis. “They weighed between 1.8 kg and 2.2 kg and carried infections. As often happens, these babies were brought in very late. They couldn’t be saved,” said Pal. 
    The hospital has started counselling parents of critically ill babies in a bid to apprise them of the situation. Doctors are going around the wards, interacting with mothers and keeping them
informed about their babies’ condition. “We are telling them about the exact state of the child so that they have a fair idea about the chances of survival. We don’t want patients to harbour false hopes and accuse the hospital of negligence,” Pal added. 
    Meanwhile, the health department is planning to implement the Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram launched last August. Under the scheme, treatment is supposed to be free for newborn babies and their mothers for the first three days. Sick newborns will be treated free of charge for a month. Medicines, diagnosis, provision for blood transfusion and food will also be provided free of charge. They will also have access to free transportation from home to hospital. 
    Meanwhile, People for Better Treatment (PBT) — an NGO that fights for patients’ rights — sought details of the inquiry into the crib deaths at BC Roy Hospital along with their medical records. It also called for an independent inquiry into the deaths, by a physician. PBT president Kunal Saha, who won a record compensation of Rs 1.77 crore last week for medical negligence leading to his wife’s death, said a case will be filed on behalf of the parents who lost their children at BC Roy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mafias get a free run in West Bengal Administration

LiLo’s ‘friend’ loses land to mafia


Indrani Pal Chaudhuri (right) during a photoshoot with singer and Hollywood actress Lindsay Lohan

Kolkata: US-based photographer Indrani Pal Chaudhuri had been in news some time back for her ‘friendship’ with Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan. Indrani is again in the news. This time, local promoters have allegedly taken over her ancestral land in Ranaghat. 
    The promoters are being apparently aided by a Trinamool Congress councillor who claimed to have purchased the plot. Though Indrani alleged that promoter’s men brought down portions of a boundary wall around the campus in which her father Ajay Pal Chaudhuri runs a charitable school, no complaint has yet been filed with the police. A complaint was, however, filed with the local municipality. 
    “For 17 years, Ramakrishna Vedanta Society Vidyapith/ Shakti Empowerment Education Foundation and Satish Palchowdhury Trust have provided free education to 300 children and women. 
They run literacy, vocational classes, a library and a clinic for the poor. The school has featured in numerous articles and on the American TV documentary series “Double Exposure”. Recently, 10-feet high walls and gates of the school have been broke down by a land mafia. He has been aided by two local leaders of Trinamool Congress. We have court injunctions against these criminal acts, but there has been no police response,” said Indrani, who has appeared in “Larry King Live” and has done shoots with leading Hollywood personalities like Lady Gaga, Naomi Campbell, Beyonce Knowles, David Bowie, Kate Winslet, Keanu Reeves, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Anne Hathaway and Will Smith. 
    The school grounds at Ranaghat’s Ghatakpara have been taken over by the goons, she alleged. The news, she added, has gained worldwide supporters who are raising an outcry about the attack. “I am afraid for the children, afraid for my 
almost 80-year-old father and afraid for West Bengal. Will local politicians follow the example of their illustrious leader to protect the rights of poor women and children? Will they follow the law and enforce the rulings of the courts against these illegal activities by promoters? Will they allow poor women and children to receive free education? Or will greed trump all, even in Mamata Banerjee’s “New Bengal”?” she quipped. 
    Local police, however, denied that a complaint has been lodged. “We have not received any formal complaint yet,” said an officer. According to Ranaghat municipality chairman and Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee, a Trinamool councillor had paid an advance for the property to owner Madan Gopal Pramanik, a member of the Pal Chaudhuri family. “There is a dispute over the sale and the owner has lodged a complaint with the municipality. We 
had a meeting with Pramanik and the councillor. But nobody has forcibly taken over the property,” said Chatterjee. 
    Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP and quizmaster Derek O' Brien, through a message on Twitter, said the government has zero tolerance for goons. “Administration and the police have free hand to take action,” he said.

Stay Away from India!

5 countries issue travel advisories against India

Tourism Minister Protests, Slams Scare-Mongering

Himanshi Dhawan | TNN 

FEAR FACTOR: A group of foreign tourists in Jaipur. The number of foreign tourists in India this year, till August, was 3.8 million, a 10% increase over last year. The advisories may change that

New Delhi: One after another, five countries — the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — have issued advisories against travel to India during the festival season. 
    The ostensible reason for the caution is the terror threat, but the government isn’t impressed. It fears the advisories will hit tourism and says terror shouldn’t be used to create a scare about visiting India. 
    “I have taken up this with the ministry of external affairs and asked it to persuade these countries to withdraw the travel advisories immediately,” Union 
tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay told TOI. “This is nothing but scare-mongering. Leave aside other parts of India, 100% booking is being reported from Jammu and Kashmir. If this isn’t a sign of normalcy, what is?” 
    The travel industry is understandably jittery as it fears a cancellation rate of 
10-15%. Adverse travel advisories tend to hike travel insurance as the risk factor goes up. So, instead of coming to India, many tourists are likely to opt for other destinations like Thailand, Sri Lanka and China. 
    A delegation of the top hoteliers, travel agents and restaurant-owners met Sahay to convey their sense of 

dismay. Apart from taking up the matter with the foreign secretary, the minister also raised the issue in France at a meeting of the tourism ministers of G20 nations on Monday, expressing his concern at the “barriers” likely to obstruct growth of tourism in India. 
Thailand pips India in tourism 
New Delhi: Foreign tourist arrivals in India between January and August 2011 have seen an encouraging 10% growth (in absolute terms, 3.8 million tourists came to India in this period compared to 3.4 million last year). 
    However, India is still beaten hollow in tourism by small Asian countries like Thailand. While India’s share is 0.59% of the world’s share of global arrivals, Thailand’s is 1.62% and China’s 5.8%. 
    While our most popular beach gets 2.7 million foreign tourists in a year, Phuket gets 5 million. The Taj Mahal gets 3.1 million foreign tourists a year while the Great Wall of China gets 10 million. 

    With India’s potential barely realized, the Indian hospitality industry is worried. Hotel Association of India president Nakul Anand said the advisories issued from large source markets like US and UK would impact the inflow of business and leisure travelers in the country. 
    “Given that it has been issued at the start of what is typically perceived as the beginning of the tourist and business season in India, it is bound to impede the forecasts for the industry,’’ he said. 
    Travel Agents’ Association of India president Rajinder Rai said the advisories will spell trouble for the industry. “We have taken up the issue with the tourism ministry demanding the advisories be withdrawn. It’s a completely unfair practice,’’ he said.

Nonsense petty politicians run India

Political Smear On Trees

Local Trinamool MLA Defends Paint Job, Says It Makes Trees Look ‘Brighter’

Suman Chakraborti | TNN 

Kolkata: Even trees have not been spared the political smear campaign in Bengal where fights over walls are common in the run-up to elections. Scores of trees along VIP Road have been painted in the colours of the national flag — which also happens to be the colour scheme of the Trinamool Congress party flag. 
    It’s the brainchild of Trinamool MLA Sujit Bose, who apparently wanted to display his love for the party. “The trees look
brighter now,” he reasoned. 
    Locals say Trinamool workers went around with paint tins and brushes just before the Pujas, painting tree trunks on the Ultadanga-Lake Town stretch. It’s almost a turfmarking exercise, just as walls would be whitewashed and marked ‘all wall TMC’ or ‘all wall CPM’ before polls. During the 2011 assembly election, even lampposts were painted in party colours. But laying political claim to trees is taking it a stretch too far. 
    Environment activists are appalled. They point out that harmful 
chemicals in the paint could be harming the trees. The MLA, however, said he had done no wrong, insisting he had no political motive in mind when the ‘project’ started. 
    “It was my initiative. After all, the tricolour is the colour of our national flag and the trees are looking brighter. I don’t see anything wrong in this. We take care of the trees as well. There was no intention to make a political statement through this move. People have actually come forward and commended the effort. However, if people say that it is in
correct to colour trees, I shall not do so in the future,” said Bose. 
    Local residents that TOI talked to were unequivocally against colouring the trees. “We don’t want ‘bright’ trees. We prefer them to look natural, even if the MLA may think it to be drab. No one here supports this but since politicians are involved, we thought it was best not to speak out,” said one of them, requesting not to be named. 
    Conservationists are fuming. “It is absolutely wrong to paint trees this way. The chemicals could affect the 
trees. Why weren’t the forest department and the local civic body intimidated before this was done,” asked Shyamal Ghosh, secretary of the People’s Green Society, an NGO. It isn’t known if the paint was lead-free. 
    “People must respect the environment and keep them as they are meant to be. Trees should never be used in this manner,” said environment activist Subhas Datta. 
    Eco activist Banani Kakkar pointed out that the idea of colouring trees seems to be spreading. “Why go to the VIP Road? Some trees are being 
painted in front of a nursing home in the heart of the city. I have spoken to Kolkata Municipal Corporation about this. Trees can’t be used to make a statement. It seems that some misguided marketing brain believes that the city's properties can be used in this manner for the gain of a political party,” she said. 
    Activist Ravi Menon fears that the painted trees have already been affected by the paint. “The chemicals could easily harm the trees. We have been fighting against senseless acts like this,” he said.