RESPONSIBILITY FOR FLOOD BE FIXED THROUGH COMMISSION OF INQUIRY

The way people of Orissa have been pushed into unfathomable health hazards and loss of property in flood that has kept majority portion of the State inundated for almost a month, necessitates action against persons in power by fixation of responsibility through a judicial commission of inquiry. The culprits deserve severe punishment and no leniency.

The current flood is not yet estimated in terms of loss caused to Orissa; but the one that was not yet over is officially estimated to have caused a loss of Rs.2121 crores on the basis of inputs received from the field officials in 19 districts. This estimation prepared by the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Orissa reveals that 116706 houses in 4897 villages under 102 blocks and 21 urban bodies are inundated wherein personal life and properties of the people are irrecoverably affected. The damage caused to official structures and projects is no less horrifying. When all the departments have not been able to estimate their loss as yet, the Water Resources department has an estimated loss of Rs.728.58 crores in the front of embankment, canals, minor and lift irrigation projects. The Panchayatiraj department shows its loss at Rs. 442.27 crores whereas to the Rural Development Department the damage hovers over Rs.372.64 crores and to the Works department, the amount of loss is Rs. 226.07 crores. According to the SRC, the relief measures cost the exchequer about 162.77 crores. Added to this the damage caused by the current week’s deluge – when the calculations complete – would be so menacingly massive that Orissa will take years to recover.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is expecting the Central Government to come to its rescue by posting enough funds to tackle the devastation. What amount should be the Central Government grant is not relevant. Relevant is the fact that the people of Orissa are fighting a flood that could never have been so severe had the Government run by Naveen Patnaik been a bit responsible.

The officials admit that water holding capacity of the Hirakud Dam is reduced by almost half due to negligence of the State to dredge out the silt deposits. As far back as in 1995, a remote sensing survey conducted by Central Water Commission (CWC) had revealed that the total water storage capacity of the Hirakud dam had come down by 27.25 per cent due to siltation. The subsequent study in 1996-97, interpretable as verification, had confirmed the same further focusing on the alarming reduction in water holding capacity of the Hirakud reservoir. Even a state government study revealed that every year 12,000 acre feet of silt gets deposited in the reservoir. Of the 53-km upstream spread of the reservoir, 50 km has been silted up, says the report. Yet the government run by Naveen Patnaik has done nothing to stop siltation and to excavate the silt to enhance the Dam’s water storage capacity. It has ignored the massive increase in siltation that the heavy industrial and constructional activities going on in Chhatisgarh cause to Hirakud reservoir. It has failed as a watchdog. And, resultantly has ruined Hirakud’s primary aim of controlling flood in the State’s largest river system.

A massive population of the State is perishing under an unprecedented deluge, not because of spate in the rivers, but because of uncared for embankments that were too week to withstand the kicks of the spate. Every life lost so far in the flood is because either of overflow or of breech in the embankment. When, thus, responsibility needs be fixed for official failure to keep the flood under control, the havoc played upon people’s lives by the State Government after flood hit them, needs to be investigated into.

It would be wrong not to say that the Government has failed to come to the rescue of flood victims. Rain was not under the control of the Government; but preparedness for flood certainly was. The Government has failed. Government relief boats have not reached the marooned people. One cannot imagine how devastative is drinking the flood water by marooned people who for weeks were / are devoid of food. Lakhs of people, by being forced to drink the flood water, have gone into the grip of new dangers to their lives. People have died as the State has failed to come to their rescue. Absence of adequate boats is the reason of the officials not reaching the marooned people. The political leadership needs be made responsible for this devastation. And, this needs a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate into the real reason of rivers overflowing their embankments and causing so many breeches and damaging so much lives and properties.

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Overcoming the Trying Tricks of Time

For the last three weeks, my mother Asharani Pattanayak, at the age of 91, has been trying to overcome the trying tricks, the ‘age’ is playing upon her.

She is trying to foil the design of time, of course, with the able advice of the competent doctors of the Capital Hospital of Bhubaneswar, particularly the treating physician, Dr. Sudarsan Dash (Gynecology), Dr. B.C.Panigrahi (Medicine), Dr. Ashok Panda (Nephrology) and the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nirmala Dei.

Age plays havoc with senior persons everywhere.

Medical science and its practitioners try to stand by their side.

But determination and willpower of the patient are essential to make the medical endeavor successful.

My mother is an epitome of both these noble qualities. She has been co-operating with Dr. Dash and his colleagues to make medical science triumph over the cruelties of Time. And, hopefully, within a week, she shall come back home with her revived old self.

I confess, I am not as strong as is she. If this is not true, I wonder as I look at these pages, why have I not been able to come up with what should have been presented to my esteemed subscribers and readers up till now since her hospitalization?

Capital Hospital is the largest Government Hospital in the Capital City of Orissa (recently changed into Odisha by the idiots in politics under a law created by them under sheer misconception).

The number of patients it daily treats is as massive as that the well-known S.C.B.Medical College Hospital of Cuttack attends to.

It has a number of suites styled as Nursing Homes that are allotted to indoor patients on payment of rent. But, like age ruins the human body, the Nursing Homes are showing signs of physical decay.

The stained toilets attached to these suites are indicative of acute lack of maintenance.

The air-conditioner machines are indicative of how rotten could be the instruments if the essential necessity thereof for patient management is forgotten by officials after installation.

The junked and damaged legs of the beds as well as of the steel wardrobes with nonfunctioning doors are indicative of how the authorities are negligent to the essential safety of the patients.

Yet, for people like us who stand for and subscribe to public sector, the Doctors and the Nursing Staff of the Capital Hospital are humans whose humane qualities have not yet collapsed under disastrous designs of the plutocratic government that willfully neglects the essential infrastructural necessities of government hospitals.

And, therefore, in Nursing Home No.8, despite threatening indoor environment, my mother is taking a turn towards the better.

From the core of my heart I thank the Doctors, the Nurses, the authorities of the Red Cross Blood Bank attached to this hospital for the nice, efficient, alert, timely and tireless support they have given to my mother in her determination to survive the cruel attack that the Time in the guise of ‘age’ has perpetrated on her.

She belongs to the generation of freedom fighters whose love and sacrifice for the motherland had forced the British to quit. Their dreams of freedom were woven around fair living environment. Now those dreams are destroyed by the agents of capitalism – the hybrids of post-independence opportunism – who in power, have thus dragged the public sector hospitals to deplorable condition of dilapidation in order to help the corporate houses hijack the most essential sector of health care. Yet, there are Doctors in the public hospitals, who, despite the capitalist design, are doing their best to save human lives using every available means within their rich.

And my mother, despite her age, is co-operating with the Doctors to overcome the disadvantage of not having a proper health-care environment in even the largest public sector hospital in the Capital City of the State.

She is trying to overcome the trying tricks of ‘Age’. And, in her, anyone of India of my age, aptitude, orientation and situation can see his/her own mother and think of how to protect and save the government hospitals from official negligence and subterfuge.

Democracy in Decadence: Motion to Impeach Justice Sen Dies in the Lower House of Indian Parliament

In the upper chamber of Indian Parliament, Justice Soumitra Sen of Kolkata High Court was found guilty of misappropriation of Rs.33.23 lakhs when he was appointed receiver by the High Court in 1883.

Upper House Chairman (Vice-President of India) had appointed a three-member committee to find out if the allegation of financial irregularities was correct and on receipt of its affirmative report, had admitted the motion of impeachment against Sen. On August 18, the motion was adopted by the Upper house with 189 members voting for impeachment as against only 16 dissenting.

The legitimate course of the motion thereafter was its adoption or rejection in the Lower House of the Parliament and therefore the Loksabha had listed it for discussion and decision on September 5.

Surprisingly, the legitimate step of the Lower House was preempted by the President when she did not reject the resignation letter of Justice Sen sent to her not in handwritten form but by fax and ultimately accepted, even though that was meant to make the Loksabha abort the Constitutional task that the sovereign House was occupied with.

The preceding article on this subject was written in this context.

But, the sovereign House has magnanimously or mistakenly allowed the motion of impeachment die in its lap under assumption that the object of impeachment no more exists as a Judge to be removed.

The President’s wrongful action has given birth to this assumption. And the constitution’s only provision against the Judges of misconduct has been thrown into the labyrinth of unfathomable peculiarities of Indian Parliament.

Parliament Should Impeach President Prativa Patil

If democracy in India deserves not to be killed, the Parliament should impeach President Pratibha Patil for having sabotaged its business of impeaching Justice S. Sen of Kolkata High Court whose corruption forms the crux of allegation against him.

The Rajyasabha has already adopted the resolution to impeach him and the Loksabha has duly taken up the issue and enlisted his impeachment in its business to transact.

As such the issue of impeachment of Justice Sen is a pending business before the Loksabha. The Loksabha is the only authority, in the circumstances, to take a decision on impeachment of Justice Sen and his consequent removal or continuance on application of its collective wisdom, after which the President should have discharged her duties as deemed proper in the matter.

But by co-operating with Sen to evade impeachment, she has clearly sabotaged the Parliament’s continuing business.

Under the stipulations laid down in the Constitution, removal from office a Judge of higher judiciary is to follow “an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of total membership of that House and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session”. But Article 121 makes it clear that “no discussion shall take place in Parliament with respect to the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court in the discharge of his duties except upon a motion for presenting an address to the President praying for the removal of the Judge”. Once the motion is admitted in the House in this respect, the matter, till disposal by the concerned House, is an absolute property of the same House and cannot be rendered inconsequential in the midway. Any action, that makes the pending business before any House of the Parliament by any body inconsequential, should certainly be seen as an offense against the Parliament.

Parliament comprises the President, the Loksabha and the Rajyasabha and the President can neither legally nor morally dissociate from its businesses. On the other hand, a Loksabha official has informed that the President has been informed on Friday that the impeachment motion against Justice Sen was being listed for Monday. The impeachment motion was headlined by all the print majors and telecasted by all the TV channels worth the name and the President is provided with top ranking information officers to update every important information to her. She cannot plead ignorance about the motion of impeachment awaiting Loksabha votes.

In the circumstances, it is very clear that she has played tricks upon the Parliament by accepting the resignation of Justice Sen, intended to preempt his removal by way of impeachment.

In doing this also, she has contravened the Constitution of India and has broken her oath to preserve and protect it.

It is mandated in the Constitution that, to resign his office, a Judge must address his resignation to the President, “by writing under his hand”. This make it a must for the President to reject the resignation application if the Judge has not written it in his hand.

Justice Sen had sent his application, design to frustrate the Loksabha agenda, to the President by fax and therefore the document before the President was never wriiten by his hand. There was, hence, no scope for the President to entertain it. But she has done.

Ms. Pratibha Patil has undoubtedly degraded the august office of the President by resorting to this illegality and offense against the Parliament.

If democracy dose not deserve to be killed, she should be impeached by the Parliament for this brazen misconduct.