The Dengue Menace: Chief Minister should explain why his Govt. has kept the 2003 Act inconsequential

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Nothing new I am going to say. I am going to repeat what I have said repeatedly earlier.

To save the city’s inhabitants and visitors from mosquito menace and from pernicious pollution, Orissa Legislature had stipulated in the Orissa Municipal Corporation Act, 2003 that cowsheds must stand obliterated within the limits of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) with immediate effect.

Most of government lands in important areas of Bhubaneswar are illegally occupied by the milkmen who do lucrative business by keeping hundreds of cows in sheds erected on the encroached lands. The 2003 Act was to clear the encroachments and free the capital city of pollution and mosquito menace.

They formed an organization styled ‘Orissa Milk Producers Association’ and moved the Orissa High Court against this new Law, praying for its nullification or in the alternative, direction to the Government to rehabilitate them in suitable places in the city before eviction and not to impose prohibition on running of cowsheds. Orissa High Court rejected their plea.

They went to the Supreme Court of India against the order of the High Court. There they also failed.

The Supreme Court, in deciding Civil Appeal No.940 of 2006 arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 16362-16363 of 2004, made it absolutely clear that the milkmen must be evicted from the limits of BMC and must not be rehabilitated anywhere in the City and its periphery, as “Right to environment being a fundamental right, it is the duty of the State to make it sure that people get a pollution free surrounding”.

The milkmen had pleaded that the present Chief Minister’s father had assured them with rehabilitation and hence they should be given plots in substitute to run their business. Rejecting this plea, the Supreme Court had declared, “In view of the 2003 Act, even the doctrine of Promissory Estoppels will have no application”.

It had further ordered that the milkmen cannot even be allowed to put up cowsheds in villages bordering Bhubaneswar. “As by reason of the Orissa Municipal Corporation Act, within the periphery of the town, dairies or cowsheds cannot be maintained, the State cannot be entitled to adhere to its earlier plan of rehabilitating them in villages mentioned therein”, the Supreme Court had said while observing, “Not only filth, stench and unhealthy places have to be eliminated, but the (town planning) would be such that it helps in achieving family values, youth values, seclusion and clean air to make the locality a better place to live

Thus the Supreme Court has not only rejected the plea of milkmen to have cow-buffalo-swine-sheds in Bhubaneswar, but also has fortified the provisions laid down under Sections 409, 543 and 548 of The Orissa Municipal Corporation Act, 2003, which prohibit keeping animals of cow category anywhere within and around the city limits.

The judgment delivered on February 2, 2006 is published in (2006) 3 Supreme Court Cases 229.

So, there was no legal problem at all over demolition of cowsheds and eviction of milkmen with their herds of animals to free the city from stench and flies and mosquitoes and malaria and filariasis and dengue and threats of cancer and tuberculosis.(ORISSA MATTERS, January 7, 2009).

But, for reasons best known to the Chief Minister, the milkmen, instead of getting evicted, are protected by the department directly under his charge.

Another Severe danger to human health

As the corrupt government has protected this menacing danger to human health, the city of Bhubaneswar has become a den of nitrous oxide, methane and other greenhouse gases as well as noxious stinks produced by these illegal cowsheds.

It is established that ammonia (NH3) evaporating from cow dung and urine play havoc with environment. An adult cow emits 80 to 110 kilograms of methane gas over its lifetime. Four thousand illegal cowsheds in Bhubaneswar harbor at least 4,00,000 adult cows at the rate of 100 per shed in the average. So, one fears, Bubaneswar is forced to face 400, 000, 00 kg methane gas menace, because Naveen Patnaik’s government is in nexus with the milkmen.

The whole city is under layers of arsenic gas generated by burning of cow dung cakes by the milkmen for cooking and for repelling mosquitoes from their cowsheds and attached huts where they live. Arsenic is slow-poisoning the people residing near the cowsheds and specifically, the children. Cases of TB, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases and Pneumonia, Lung Cancer are increasingly hitting the Bhubaneswar Hospitals. Malaria, Filarial infection, Dengue and such other diseases caused by mosquitoes, various allergies, skin diseases, and cardiac problems are in the rise in the obstinately unhygienic environment the milkmen have created.

Offense against the Assembly

To save Bhubaneswar from this monstrous danger, the Assembly had laid down under Sections 409, 543 and 548 of The Orissa Municipal Corporation Act, 2003 that the city must be immediately made free of Milkmen. Their association, as already shown supra, had challenged it up to the Supreme Court and failed. Yet it is not implemented. If anything, it is a naked offense against the Orissa Legislative Assembly.

 Scam that possibly funds the CM

As my sources say, the milkmen were paying Rs.300/- as protection money to GA department Officials which after enactment of the Act of 2003 had reached Rs.2000/- per cowshed. After the Supreme Court rejected the milkmen’s case and fully endorsed the Act of 2003, giving a direction to the State government to oust the milkmen forthwith from the city limits and periphery of Bhubaneswar, the protection money has been increased from Rs.2000/- to Rs.4000/- well within the knowledge of the Chief Minister.

If Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is not involved with this scam, he should come forward to clear the doubts by explaining as to why his administration has not taken any step to demolish the cowsheds and to evict the cowherds and to free the government plots from their encroachments and to save Bhubaneswar from mosquito menace, from mosquito induced calamities like dengue, pollution, from the hazards of nitrous gases, from arsenic poison, from ammonia, from filth of cow dung and stench and from abnormal rise of temperature and collapse of its habitable climate under impact thereof.

Supreme Court verdict goes barren

The most beneficial Act has most brazenly been rendered inconsequential by Naveen Patnaik. And in this, we see, the Supreme Court verdict has gone barren.

It is time, the Supreme Court should ask the CBI or appoint a special Commission to conduct an in-depth investigation into why the State Government has slept over its order passed in Civil Appeal No.940 of 2006 arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 16362-16363 of 2004, published in (2006) 3 Supreme Court Cases 229.

We may remind the Supreme Court that in the said order it had mandated that “Right to environment being a fundamental right it is the duty of the State to make it sure that people get a pollution free surrounding”.

We may further remind the Supreme Court that in the said order, it had emphasized that. “Not only filth, stench and unhealthy places have to be eliminated, but the (town planning) would be such that it helps in achieving family values, youth values, seclusion and clean air to make the locality a better place to live”.

3 ft high cow dung on the road, the cow shed behind the green fense4 to 5 ft high heap of cow dung on western main road to Capital HospitalThe pictures of filth  given here are captured with the camera near about the State Secretariat. Minister Sanjay Das Burma is staying about 50 meters from this spot. many ruling-party heavyweights and IAS officers are living around this spot. This is the picture of a very important nerve center of  Bhubaneswar. What is happening in the interior of the City can easily be imagined.  As already said, there are 4000 such spots where cowherds are keeping hundreds of cows in illegally built up sheds, filling the entire area with filth. The Supreme Court as well as you dear visitors may please appreciate that no camera can capture the stench. Just imagine, how is Naveen Patnaik managing the affairs.

I call upon every responsible person, who peruses this posting, to ask the Chief Minister of Orissa to explain as to why he has kept the 2003 Act inconsequential if he is not involved with the Rs.1.6 crores monthly scam generated by his perceivable nexus with the milkmen.

demolition of temples_threedemolition of shopsThese pictures would show how slums and kiosks, even temples are razed down in course of retrieving public premises from encroachments. But, despite the specific Act of 2003 and  orders  of the Orissa High Court and the Supreme Court of India  no cowshed has ever faced the eviction crew.
Dengue is taking heavy tolls of human life and all other hazards as noted above are pushing people into death’s pernicious grip. But the milkmen are protected, possibly because around 4000 milkmen are greasing the palms of fellows empowered to implement the Act and the verdicts with at least Rs.4000/- per month. Shame!

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MALARIA AND ORISSA CM’S ACROBATICS IN THE MASS MEDIA

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Open any newspaper worth the name in Orissa, you will find Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s lovely face and uncial autograph on an official advertisement telling you that June is being observed as the Malaria Eradication Month. You are instructed in the advertisement to cooperate with the mission of making the State mosquito-free. Official agencies and unofficial agencies engaged by administration would spray insecticides to exterminate the mosquitoes and you are instructed not to tamper with the sprayed insecticides for at least three months. The ads are worded to give you the impression that Naveen Patnaik is determined to free Orissa from mosquito menace.

Is he?

Is he really in the mission of extermination of mosquitoes?

Does he really want to eradicate malaria?

As I look at his style of administration, I feel, he is only trying to show us acrobatics in the mass media.

I will marshal the capital city of Bhubaneswar, where he lives and from where he rules, as my evidence.

He being the Home Minister, it is well within his knowledge that Bhuaneswar is so much malaria infested that the police force had to suffer casualties due to mosquito bite while guarding the Assembly in session on summon.

The collective wisdom of Legislature had determined that crabbed dairies operated by cowherds in every nook and corner of the capital city are the principal centers of mosquito breeding and therefore the Orissa Municipal Corporations Act, 2003 had stipulated that there shall be no dairy or cowshed in Bhubaneswar.

Naveen Patnaik has kept this Law inconsequential and in the process, has killed the Supreme Court of India verdict of Feb.2, 2006 that had fully supported this special Law.

I had discussed this issue in these pages in a different context and in due deference to Article 51A (g) and (i) of the Constitution of my Motherland, had immediately sent copies thereof to the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary of Orissa for their perusal and action. But they are conspicuous by their silence. Several crores of illicit payola clandestinely collected from the milkmen is apparently the cause.

I reproduce relevant portions of that discussion for ready reference.

The illegal cowsheds are, I had observed:

flourishing because the corridors of Orissa administration are full of commission agents and robbers that act as protectors of the pollutant milkmen.

Many things can be known; but every thing cannot be proved. I know, because a milkman had once confided in me, that the Directorate of Estates collects a Sum of Rs. 1000/- off the record from each of the milkman in return for silence over their encroachment over Government land in prime localities in the new Capital to run their lucrative milk trade. Compared to the benefit they fetch this sum of Rs.1000/- looks too small an amount to them. But there being one thousand milkmen families in the heart of the Capital City, the bribe collected from them amounts to not less than Rupees ten lakhs per month. This money is shared amongst all officials who matter in the matter of land encroachment by milkmen.

I was inclined to reject this information as rubbish. But looking at the immunity the milkmen are enjoying, and looking at how the officials have made a farce of the Order of the Supreme Court in the matter of eviction of the milkmen, I am inclined to believe in the information though there is no proof in support of it.

Now let us look at the Supreme Court Judgment.

Published in (2006) 3 Supreme Court Cases 229, it pertains to Civil Appeal No.940 of 2006 arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 16362-16363 of 2004.

By 1994, as many as 686 milkmen had encroached upon prime plots of Bhubaneswar City and running dairy business from there oblivious of the health hazards that was causing to genuine inhabitants. The situation was so unbearable that the then Chief Minister in a bid to get rid of the gowalas declared to rehabilitate them in the villages in the city’s close vicinity. But they did not go while on the other hand they were encouraging other gowalas to encroach upon other vacant plots. By 2003 their number increased to 1000. The dung and other filthy matters of the cowsheds run by them on government plots in prime areas of Bhubaneswar imperiled public health to such extent that in the Orissa Municipal Corporation Act framed in 2003, the legislature not only prohibited establishment and running of dairies or cowsheds in the city proper as well as in the periphery of the town, but also provided for penalty against the dairy operators. Under the new act, all of the milkmen were bound to be evicted from Bhubaneswar city. Against this mandated eviction, the milkmen through their association had gone to Orissa High Court. The Court refused to intervene. Then they stressed on rehabilitation and wanted a mandate from the Court that the Government provides them with plots to run their business. The High Court rejected this plea. Alleging that the High Court’s refusal to order for their rehabilitation before eviction from Government plots was illegal, the Milk Producers Association, Orissa and others preferred the appeal in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court took serious note of the health hazards the milkmen were causing to the citizens of Bhubaneswar. Even the Supreme Court made it clear,

�As by reason of the Orissa Municipal Corporation Act, within the periphery of the town, dairies or cowsheds cannot be maintained, the State cannot be entitled to adhere to its earlier plan of rehabilitating them in villages mentioned therein�.

Making it abundantly clear that there does not exist any legal concept which confers a legal right upon the encroacher to be rehabilitated by State action, the Supreme Court has not only rejected the Appeal of the Milkmen but also has ruled,

�In view of the 2003 Act, even the doctrine of Promissory Estoppels will have no application�.

So in the Supreme Court the Milkmen have lost their case and the Apex Court has made it clear that the State Government is not even entitled to rehabilitate them.

In an earlier Order [(2004) 8 SCC 733] in Friends Colony Development Committee V. State of Orissa and Others case, the Supreme Court had ruled,

�Not only filth, stench and unhealthy places have to be eliminated, but the (town planning) would be such that it helps in achieving family values, youth values, seclusion and clean air to make the locality a better place to live�.

In another case between N.D.Jayal and another v. Union of India and others, reported in [(2004) 9 SCC 362], a 3-Judge bench of the Supreme Court held,

Right to environment being a fundamental right it is the duty of the State to make it sure that people get a pollution free surrounding.

The Orissa municipal Corporation Act, 2003 under Sections 409, 543 and 548 by banning running of cow-buffalo-swine-sheds, has provided for the environment the Supreme Court has emphasized on.

Therefore the Supreme Court refused the Appeal of the milkmen and removed every obstacle from their eviction. This verdict was delivered on 2 February 2006.

But neither the Director of Estates, nor the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation nor the Bhubaneswar Development Authority has bothered to evict the milkmen. The concentration of milkmen rose from 686 in 1994 to 1000 in 2003 and it has possibly doubled by end of 2006. The surprising and unexplained reluctance of the State Government to evict the milkmen, even though brilliant youths like Bibhuti and Rubi have succumbed to air pollution caused by the cowsheds and scores of genuine citizens near whose residences the milkmen have been running unauthorized dairies on encroached lands have fallen victims to unhealthy environment affected by filth, stench, dung and other excremental matters.

When the Law enacted in 2003 has prohibited dairy activities in Bhubaneswar and when the Supreme Court by rejecting the Appeal of the milkmen has stressed on their eviction saying simultaneously that the State is not entitled to rehabilitate them anywhere in the city and its periphery, why the State Government has not evicted them so far even though the Apex Court verdict was delivered on 2 February 2006?

It is therefore believable that the milkmen have been greasing the palms of officials to purchase their cooperation in rendering the Supreme Court judgment inconsequential.

Huge Money

If it must be happening then it must be a scam of ten lakhs of rupees per month, taking the officially admitted figure of milkmen to be one thousand. The 1000 figure pertaining to 2003, if they have doubled by this time, the amount of bribe must be 20 lakhs per month. This is a secret income exceeding many times the income the officers earn on records. According to a calculation recorded by the Supreme Court, at Para 14 of its Judgment, “the income per annum of each gowala family of Bhubaneswar comes out to about Rs. 3,71,910.00 as admitted by them in the SLP. Deducting 50% out of the total income towards establishment and maintenance charges, net annual income per family comes to 1,85,950.00”. This huge money every milkman family earns because he runs the dairy on encroached government land in prime areas of Bhubaneswar. To keep up this lucrative business, why should he hesitate to grease the palms of officers who are in a position to carry out eviction?

With this question, I had attracted attention of the Chief Minister as well as the Chief Secretary to the menace that poses pernicious dangers to human health in Bhubaneswar. It is not that they are not aware of this. But payola determining administrative decisions, the breeding centers of mosquitoes are flourishing in every cowshed illegally running in Bhubaneswar.

I have information that attempts are being made to amend the Municipal Act to undo the ban imposed by the 2003 Act on cowsheds so that the changed face of Law can obliterate the impact of the Supreme Court verdict.

Do I err in holding the Chief Minister’s advertised eagerness to exterminate mosquitoes as mere acrobatics politicians display when they propound a cause that they never stand with?