Jharkhand ration tragedy blamed on internet glitch

Source : telegraphindia.com

The death of a senior citizen in rural Jharkhand has been linked to starvation, allegedly triggered by a two-month ration freeze that the dealer has blamed on Internet glitches.

If the account is established, it will shine a torch on a little-debated aspect of the celebrated ration delivery system based on the online biometric model.

“Ramcharan Munda, 65, was not given rations for the last two months by his PDS (public distribution system) dealer. Our officials have found this to be true. There’s ‘zero’ written in the delivery chart for two months in respect of Munda,” Latehar deputy commissioner Rajiw Kumar told The Telegraph on Thursday.

Such a confirmation is a rare occurrence in Jharkhand. As many as 21 people have died in the state since September 2017 of suspected starvation, according to the state convener of the Right to Food Campaign, Asharfi Nand Prasad. But the state government has consistently refused to admit that any of them was caused by hunger, citing pre-existing ailments as the probable causes.

Munda, who died on Wednesday, hailed from Durup, a remote Latehar village more than 170km from Ranchi. Sources said Munda lived with wife Chamri Devi and daughter Sunila Kumari in a hut. His son died of TB two years ago.

Prasad blamed the state government for the recurring tragedies.

“The area in Latehar where Munda died of starvation lacks good Internet facilities. This was reported to the district administration by the PDS dealer,” said Prasad, who is part of a nine-member state government committee formed last year to formulate a protocol for defining and investigating starvation deaths.

“The state government should make the food supply offline, instead of following the existing biometric-based ration delivery system, in areas with network issues,” he added.

Deputy commissioner Kumar said he would investigate whether the PDS dealer had sold Munda’s rations to others at a premium.

“This is too serious a matter. I fail to understand how ration to this senior citizen was denied for two months on the pretext of poor online connectivity of the point-of-sale machine and an unresponsive biometric machine,” the deputy commissioner said.

Jharkhand has put in place a system of “express money” under which the panchayat head keeps Rs 10,000 that can be used during such exigencies. Kumar said he would find out why the money was not used in this instance.

James Herunj, state convener of NREGA Watch, said one of the NGO’s aid workers, Afsana, had visited Munda’s home a day after his death.

“The home had nothing, a clear sign that they lived in abject poverty,” he said quoting Afsana, who had reached the place after Munda’s family had created him using money pooled from fellow villagers.

Afsana said Munda and Chamri Devi were old-age pensioners but had not been receiving pension for the past five months.

Deputy commissioner Kumar confirmed Afsana’s visit to Munda’s home but could not say whether the couple were pensioners.

He said Afsana had informed SDO Mahuadarn Sudhir, who had sent an official to the Munda home with 50kg rice and Rs 2,000 for the family.

Ranchi: 6 injured in knife attack over water dispute

Source: business-standard.com

Amidst the prevailing water shortage in the region due to rising mercury, at least six people sustained injuries after being stabbed by a man here over a water dispute.

The injured are undergoing treatment in a local hospital here.

On Friday, while locals in Kishoreganj were lined up in front of a tanker to fill water, a man from a neighboring village was seen filling water in large barrels, leaving a lesser amount of water for residents of the region.

Speaking to ANI, Sunil Kumar Yadav, one among those who sustained bruises in the incident, said his father asked the man why he was taking so much water and explained that others, too, must get a chance to fill water.

Irked by this, the accused, Yadav said, began quarreling and hurled abuses at his father. When Yadav tried to intervene, the accused took out a knife and began stabbing him with it.

“A boy came to fill water multiple times in our area. My father asked him why he is taking so much water and if he takes all the water, where will everybody else get water from. He started arguing with my father. When I intervened, he hurled abuses and later stabbed me with a knife. He stabbed my mother and brother also when they tried to save me. We rounded him up and grabbed his knife, after which the police took him away,” Yadav said.

Recalling the incident, Yadav’s mother Sona Devi said she too was stabbed by the man when she tried to save her son.

Kishoreganj, locals say, is reeling under water shortage, as tankers are sent only once in four days. Locals claim they are forced to travel distances to fulfill their requirement, as water bodies in the region have begun to dry up due to soaring temperatures.

Acknowledging the situation, state minister CP Singh said people should learn how to use available water judiciously rather than fight over it.

“I heard of the knife attack, this is wrong. Everyone needs water, fighting is wrong. The state and local administration are working on water-related projects. We are trying to arrange water through pipelines, but some are installing motors and diverting water flow. People should learn how to judiciously use water and start water harvesting. It is taking time, but we’re working on it,” he added.

Ranchi forest cover increased by 0.86%: Report

Source: ailypioneer.com

While the temperature in Capital city is touching 42 degree Celsius, a government report on forest area in Ranchi division shows an increase in the forest cover.

According to the latest Indian State of Forest Report (ISFR) published by Forest Survey of India in 2018, Ranchi increased its forest area by 10 sq km since 2015, the highest increase among all the districts in Jharkhand. This increase happened despite rapid urbanisation and development in the city. The Pioneer contacted environmentalists and government officials on the issue ahead of World Environment Day.

“As the data shows, the city’s forest area has increased in the last few years. It is the result of a targeted approach of the Ranchi Forest Division, where we have different management policies for different kinds of forests,” said Sushil Oraon, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Ranchi Forest Division. As per the report, Ranchi currently has 63 sq. km of ‘Very Dense Forest’, 364 sq. km of ‘Moderately Dense Forest’, and 737 sq. km of ‘Open Forest’.

“We focus on the maintenance and improvement of dense forests, and try to increase density of the moderately dense forests so that they are promoted to the dense forest category. For open forests, we push for afforestation, so that the overall forest cover increases,” Oraon said. He said that the Pollution Board is organising an event on Wednesday to mark World Environment Day.

An initiative was undertaken recently by the Ranchi Smart City Corporation (RSCC) along with Jharkhand Urban Infrastructure Development Company Limited (JUIDCO) and Larson and Toubro (L&T) on Sunday, where officials from the three companies planted a lot of saplings to compensate for the various ongoing projects across the State.

However, environmentalists have continued to show concern over the matter. Environmentalist Nitish Priyadarshi raised the issue of the environmental concerns of the loss of trees due to rapid construction work in the city.

He also stressed on the impossibility of recovering lost forests. “We cannot create forests. We can plant trees, but forests are natural that develop over a long period of time,” he said. “Also, planting trees is easy, but protecting and caring for them requires commitment. Instead of just planting trees and forgetting about it, the government should have a long term policy, so that the planted trees are cared for when they begin to grow in two three years. Planting trees is just a formality if the there is no follow-up,” he added.

Priyadarshi, who teaches Geology at Ranchi University, dismissed the government data and pointed out the evident ill-effects of deforestation. “The increase in temperature, the water crisis, the man-animal conflicts in neighbouring areas are all results of this increasing loss of forests.” He suggested many ways to combat the problem. “Public awareness, strict government policy, cultivation of barren land are all beneficial steps,” he said. “We can also follow the example of the sacred forests of Meghalaya, where nothing is allowed to leave the forest groves due to the religious beliefs of the indigenous cultures.”

Plastic bags being widely used in Jharkhand 18 months after the ban

Source: hindustantimes.com

In a bid to protect the environment, use of plastic carry bags was declared a punishable offence in Jharkhand in September 2017 and the state government had put a blanket ban on manufacturing, import, storage, transportation, usage and sale of plastic bags. To enforce the ban, the state urban development department on October 25, 2017, had directed all 41 urban local bodies (ULBs) to make the respective towns under their jurisdiction plastic free.

The plastic ban was enforced with much fanfare and for the first six months, several ULBs took numerous measures to comply with the state government’s order and action was taken against end users in several cities.

Use of plastic carry bags declined largely during that period, as retail traders were scared of hefty fines of up to Rs one lakh and a jail term of five years under the new rule.

Customers too, were getting into the habit of using cloth and paper made bags.

Unfortunately, within a year, the zeal to curb plastic usage seems to have waned in the state.

Plastic bags have started dominating markets once again, and the drive against plastic has slowed down in most major cities in the state.

HT visited several markets in Jharkhand’s three major cities -Ranchi, Dhanbad and Jamshedpur-to see the ground reality of enforcement, but found that plastic carry bags are largely in use.

RANCHI

In Ranchi, vegetable, fruit, fish and meat sellers are using polythene bags, that too of low quality, without any hurdle. HT visited Ranchi’s Lalpur and Morahbadi vegetable markets on Tuesday where many sellers were found using polythene bags.

At Lalpur market, a vegetable seller, Raja Ram, said, “Plastic was banned more than a year ago but now it has returned back and everyone is using such bags.”

When a fish seller was asked about violation of law, he said, “Fish cannot be carried in paper or jute bag due to the water content in fish.” Use of plastic bags are also rampant in retail grocery shops in the city.

In 2017-18, Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) had set up 11 enforcement teams to impose the ban in 53 wards of the state capital.

The teams were active for few months. They conducted several raids in malls and markets collected fines. However, such drives are hardly visible anymore.

“We admit the drives partially slowed down in initial months of this year. But an extensive drive has been started and is continuing for the last two months. In the past two months, we have collected Rs 1.40 lakh fine against use of plastic,” said RMC city manager Saurav Verma, who is leading the enforcement drive in Ranchi.

He said the use of plastic has extensively declined in malls and shopping complexes, which signalled success of the ban.

DHANBAD

Plastic carry bags are still in use in Dhanbad, even as the Dhanbad Municipal Corporation (DMC) fines Rs 50 on consumers found carrying plastic bags. Traders and wholesalers are fined between Rs 5000 and Rs 50,000.

“Despite a strict ban, reports of poly bag use come from different parts of the city. But we are strict on it and flying squads crack the whip when we get such reports,” said Dhanbad town commissioner Chandramohan Kashyap.

DMC has already set up flying squads in its all five circles of Dhanbad, Jharia,Sindri, Katras, Chhatand for regular monitoring of the ban.

This year the DMC has sealed two plastic godowns in Jharia and Saraikhela areas of district. DMC additional town commissioner Sandeep Kumar said they have seized 130 kgs of plastic from wholesalers and retailers.

JAMSHEDPUR

The scene is not much different in Jamshedpur. Even as authorities claim that they had implemented the ban efficiently and action was being taken whenever the authorities got information about usage of plastic bags in markets, local shopkeepers have started using plastic bags regularly and with ease.

City manager of Jugsalai municipality, Abhishekh Rahul said, “We have been implementing the ban strictly. However, no raid was conducted at a large scale last month. Shopkeepers are not using banned polythene bags as they are still afraid of being fined. Only a couple of shopkeepers have been using it secretly and action would be taken against them.”

Notified Area Committees (NAC) in Jamshedpur, Jugsalai and Mango have imposed the ban strictly.

No MCI admission nod for Jharkhand’s 3 new medical colleges this year

Source: hindustantimes.com

The Medical Council of India (MCI) has denied permission to three newly set up medical colleges in Jharkhand, at Palamu, Hazaribagh and Dumka, to start academic sessions from 2019, citing faculty deficiency.

The state government had sought permission to start classes for 50 MBBS seats in each of the three medical colleges from the current session.

In the list released by the MCI for availability of MBBS seats in medical colleges across country, names of these three from Jharkhand are missing.

At present, the three medical colleges have only caretaker principals in the name of college administrator as well as faculty member.

While state’s health secretary Nitin Madan Kulkarni was available for comment, Dr Arun Kumar, superintendent of MGMMCH, who is the acting principal of Hazaribagh Medical College, said the permission was not granted for 2019 session due to 100% faculty deficiency.

“The college has all the infrastructure to begin operations, but no teachers. Appointment of faculty members is under progress,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated buildings of these three colleges constructed at a cost of Rs 885 crore on February 17 from Hazaribagh and the state government had promised that all three institutions would begin functioning from this July. The then union minister Jayant Sinha and chief minister Raghubar Das were also present on the occasion. The Prime Minister had also laid foundation of four 500-bed hospitals at Palamu, Dumka, Jamshedpur and Hazaribagh.

But even after four months of inauguration by Prime Minister, the state government has failed to appoint even a single teacher in all three medical colleges.

A senior official of state health department said that due to imposition of model code of conduct for parliamentary elections, the government’s hands were tied for three months from March to May, due to which appointment of faculty members in these medical colleges could not be done.

“By the time model code was lifted, the MCI deadline had ended,” the official said, requesting anonymity as the health secretary is himself dealing with the MCI on the issue.

The official said reluctance of doctors to join medical colleges of state had emerged as major hurdle in appointing teachers. On June 3, government had organised walk-in interviews for senior residents at Ranchi, but only 30% candidates turned up.


Onset of monsoon in Jharkhand likely by June 18

Source: hindustantimes.com

Jharkhand may expect the arrival of monsoon by June 18 as the southwest monsoon is likely to hit Kerala by June 8, weather officials said on Wednesday. Normal monsoon date for Jharkhand is June 10 and it should cover the state by June 15. However, it has never hit Jharkhand on the expected date since 2009.

The onset of monsoon in the state has been recorded between June 15 to June 25 in past one decade. In 2018, the southwest monsoon had hit Jharkhand on June 25, a delay of 15 days from its expected date, while it had hit Kerala on May 29, three days ahead of its normal date.

“Conditions are favourable for onset of monsoon in Kerala on Friday. If climatic conditions remain favourable with its current pattern, we may expect monsoon rain by June 17-18. However, it could be predicted only after it hits Kerala,” said SD Kotal, director of Ranchi Meteorological Centre. Even though the monsoon has been delayed by a week in India, a cyclonic circulation, which was over Jharkhand till Tuesday, brought relief from scorching heat across the state for last couple of days. Weather department said that excluding Palamu, maximum temperature was likely to get below 40 degree Celsius in most districts of the state.

The long-range forecast for monsoon, however, has worried farmers, as it has predicted 91% rainfall with possible deviation of 4% from June 1 to September 30 in northeast and eastern India.

“It’s a long-range forecast for the four-month monsoon, which may change after the onset,” Kotal said.

Farmers already faced drought in last kharif season due to deficient rainfall in last monsoon. In 2018, Jharkhand recorded 28% rainfall deficit during four-month monsoon period from June 1 to September 30, poorer than Bihar and West Bengal, which registered 25% and 20% deficit respectively.

The deficient rainfall impacted kharif crop in Jharkhand. The state government in November last year declared 129 blocks out of 264 blocks as drought affected. As many as 93 blocks were declared severely affected by drought due to poor sowing during rainy season last year.

Around 27% arable paddy land of the total target remained fallow. Of the 24 districts, sowing coverage could not reach 60% in seven districts even after the end of sowing season on August 15.

The centre released Rs 272 crore as drought relief to Jharkhand but the farmers are yet to get crop loss compensation. The poor monsoon had also impacted Rabi crops last year. Sowing coverage of Rabi crops was recorded in merely 7.58 hectares of land against the target of 11.69 lakh hectares this year.

Jharkhand government eyeing intellectual property rights for Peda and Sohrai

Source: newindianexpress.com

RANCHI: With the intention of claiming patents on Deoghar’s ‘peda’ and ‘Sohrai’ painting of Hazaribagh, the State Government has decided to conduct a research survey for guidance in establishing intellectual property rights and geographical indicators of Jharkhand, outsourcing the work to the National Law School of India in Bengaluru.

The State Cabinet on Tuesday sanctioned Rs 33.55 lakh for the purpose.

The Cabinet gave its approval for research, survey and filing application for the registration of Geographical Indication of Jharkhand and guiding in establishing intellectual property rights centre for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).

Officials said that the survey will be focused on MSMEs and the research will help them get intellectual property rights over products.

The MSME Centre in Ranchi will function as the nodal office for this survey. The famous Deoghar peda and Hazaribagh Sohrai art and many other products and art forms of Jharkhand may also come under this survey,” Urban Development Secretary Ajay Kumar Singh told the media on Wednesday.

Peda is offered to Lord Shiva at Deoghar. As per an estimate, annual turnover of peda is around Rs 50 crore, with a remarkable increase during Shrawani Mela.

Sohrai painting, on the other hand, is an indigenous art form practised by the women, where ritualistic art is done on mud walls to welcome the harvest season and to celebrate cattle.

Bangalore Law varsity to survey intellectual property in Jharkhand

Source: dailypioneer.com

The State Cabinet on Tuesday approved a research survey for guidance in establishing intellectual property rights and geographical indication of Jharkhand for the same. The Cabinet decided to outsource this work to the National Law School of India in Bangalore for Rs 33.55 Lakh.

The survey will be focused on Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), said State Urban Development Secretary Ajoy Kumar Singh, adding that the research will help small enterprises get intellectual property rights over their products. The MSME centre in Ranchi will function as the nodal office for this survey. “Deoghar’s peda (an Indian sweet), Sohrai art of Hazaribag and many other products and art forms of Jharkhand may come under this survey,” said Singh.

The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a total of 20 proposals, including a pilot project for introduction of artificial intelligence in the functioning of the Jharkhand High Court. A private company, Mancorp Innovation Labs Private Ltd has been outsourced the work of ensuring design, development, implementation and support of artificial intelligence in the court in a bid to make Jharkhand High Court a Comprehensive Decision Support Smart Court (CDSSC). “The software will rely on artificial intelligence for collecting data and finding order copies in the court,” said Singh.

In another move towards digitalization, the Cabinet approved Rs.66,33,000 for digitalization of the Principal Accountant General’s office in Ranchi.

The Cabinet on Tuesday also came up with good news for State government employees. It approved an increase in dearness allowance from 9 per cent to 12 per cent with effect from January 1, 2019 for all the state employees and pensioners. This will cost the state exchequer a sum of Rs.364 crore for working employees and Rs.161 crore for pensioners. This increase in dearness allowance was earlier approved by the centre and replicated by the cabinet on Wednesday.

Following an order of the Supreme Court, the Cabinet on Wednesday approved the formation of a tribunal to look into the claims made by survivors or family of deceased in cases of road accidents. Besides, the Cabinet approved creation of 279 vacancies for teachers in eight polytechnic colleges and surrender of 145 such posts. For the creation of the 134 new posts, the state will bear a cost of Rs.5 crore 53 lakh annually. The new positions will be created in Simdega, Sahebganj, Jagganathpur and Dumka, while positions will be surrendered in Chandil, Bahragora and Maheshpur.

The Cabinet proposed to give Jharkhand Combined Entrance Competitive Examination (JCEC) the authority to hold B.Ed exams and all other examinations on Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheets. This proposal will go to the State Assembly for approval. The JCEC holds entrance examinations for medical and engineering in Jharkhand. Besides, the Cabinet decided to forward an annual report of Jharkhand Public Service Commission for year 2016-2017 to the State Assembly.

Ranchi forest cover increased by 0.86%: Report

Source: dailypioneer.com

While the temperature in Capital city is touching 42 degree Celsius, a government report on forest area in Ranchi division shows an increase in the forest cover.

According to the latest Indian State of Forest Report (ISFR) published by Forest Survey of India in 2018, Ranchi increased its forest area by 10 sq km since 2015, the highest increase among all the districts in Jharkhand. This increase happened despite rapid urbanisation and development in the city. The Pioneer contacted environmentalists and government officials on the issue ahead of World Environment Day.

“As the data shows, the city’s forest area has increased in the last few years. It is the result of a targeted approach of the Ranchi Forest Division, where we have different management policies for different kinds of forests,” said Sushil Oraon, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Ranchi Forest Division. As per the report, Ranchi currently has 63 sq. km of ‘Very Dense Forest’, 364 sq. km of ‘Moderately Dense Forest’, and 737 sq. km of ‘Open Forest’.

“We focus on the maintenance and improvement of dense forests, and try to increase density of the moderately dense forests so that they are promoted to the dense forest category. For open forests, we push for afforestation, so that the overall forest cover increases,” Oraon said. He said that the Pollution Board is organising an event on Wednesday to mark World Environment Day.

An initiative was undertaken recently by the Ranchi Smart City Corporation (RSCC) along with Jharkhand Urban Infrastructure Development Company Limited (JUIDCO) and Larson and Toubro (L&T) on Sunday, where officials from the three companies planted a lot of saplings to compensate for the various ongoing projects across the State.

However, environmentalists have continued to show concern over the matter. Environmentalist Nitish Priyadarshi raised the issue of the environmental concerns of the loss of trees due to rapid construction work in the city.

He also stressed on the impossibility of recovering lost forests. “We cannot create forests. We can plant trees, but forests are natural that develop over a long period of time,” he said. “Also, planting trees is easy, but protecting and caring for them requires commitment. Instead of just planting trees and forgetting about it, the government should have a long term policy, so that the planted trees are cared for when they begin to grow in two three years. Planting trees is just a formality if the there is no follow-up,” he added.

Priyadarshi, who teaches Geology at Ranchi University, dismissed the government data and pointed out the evident ill-effects of deforestation. “The increase in temperature, the water crisis, the man-animal conflicts in neighbouring areas are all results of this increasing loss of forests.” He suggested many ways to combat the problem. “Public awareness, strict government policy, cultivation of barren land are all beneficial steps,” he said. “We can also follow the example of the sacred forests of Meghalaya, where nothing is allowed to leave the forest groves due to the religious beliefs of the indigenous cultures.”