Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kalidas and Khalid: What is the Cost of Life?

Kalidas and Khalid:
What is the Cost of Life?
By Zubair Ahmed

During the Independence Day Celebrations, two faces stood out in the crowd, in contrast, at the main function at Netaji Stadium as well as ‘At Home’ function at Raj Niwas. The widow and child of Late C Kalidas, the killed forester and K Khalid, a severely burnt employee of Electricity Dept. Both the victims were awarded the LG’s commendation certificate.

 A look into the eyes of the widow and child of C Kalidas would bring tears into your eyes. She stood there staring into the blankness. The dry and pale look, aghast and lost amidst celebrations, there was nothing for them to be happy or proud about. She had lost her husband, who was in his prime. The child could never comprehend the happenings around her.

K Khalid, who had sustained severe burn injuries while working on power transmission line, had his hands wrapped in a cloth and the marring accident has literally left his body, scarred for life.

Isn’t it a quirk of fate that both of them were in fact victims of someone’s negligence? Orders for enquiry might have been issued in both cases, but there are many vital questions that remain oblivious.

Had the young forester been properly briefed about the cost, he will have to pay, while facing an elephant that was beyond control? Had he known the fate, would he have taken the move to confront the elephant so naively? Or, was he just following an order from someone, for whom any result was inconsequential?

There had been enough uproar over the death of the forester as well as the elephant. In fact, both the forester and elephant were victims of some callous mind.

The killing of the elephant invited so much flak in the media as well as social media that the loss of the forester conveniently took a backseat. It was felt that this will be also forgiven and forgotten as time passes.

Who killed the elephant? Was it the rifle or the person pulling the trigger or someone with authority who ordered to kill it?

Who killed Kalidas? Was it the musth elephant or someone who hastily pushed the naïve forester into the clutches of the elephant?

Like the elephant was ruthlessly killed, Kalidas too became a victim of someone of same mindset, who knew quite well that there won’t be any damaging repercussion.

An order for enquiry has been issued. And, isn’t it quite intriguing that the PCCF (Wildlife) has been entrusted the job? Doesn’t transparency demand that an independent enquiry be ordered?

If someone justifies killing of the elephant, justice demands that they should also take the responsibility for the death of the forester.

K Khalid, a mazdoor of Eectricity Dept sustained severe burn injuries when a reckless co-worker charged the transformer, he was working on. He had to battle against all odds to survive the physical and mental trauma.

What was the role of the Junior Engineer or Asst Engineer? Aren’t they responsible or accountable for the accident? Has the Department taken any action?

Undeniably, the Department is an orphaned entity without any accountability towards service or its employees. There are no protocols or safety measures followed. Cases of fatality on duty in Electricity Department have become a routine fare.

There have been talks, talks and more talks about actions to be taken. No one has heard about any tangible outcome of enquiries ordered by the authorities. It’s time they walk the talk and ensure that accidents due to recklessness or decisions taken devoid of serious thought are not spared. And, we can’t keep learning lessons endlessly without putting into practice what we have learnt. Fixing responsibility and prompt action against the culprits will only serve as deterrent.

It’s heartening that this year both the victims were awarded with the Commendation Certificate, along with other genuine awardees. Or else, it had become a mockery with anyone having an access to the cook or sentry of Raj Niwas to manage a commendation.

A touch of sympathy might help heal the wound. But, nothing can bring back what they have lost. At least, a responsive Administration should deliver justice and it needs to be seen doing it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Committed to Overcome All Challenges: Lt Gen A K Singh

Committed to Overcome All Challenges: Lt Gen A K Singh

LG Addresses Islanders on Independence Day Eve

Reminiscing the sacrifices of the Freedom Fighters and Founding Fathers of the nation, the Lieutenant Governor A K Singh greeted the Islanders on the occasion of 68th Independence Day and called upon the Islanders to rededicate themselves in nation building and work in tandem to overcome the challenges ahead. He expressed happiness over the journey of one year and took a firm oath to continue the good work.
He dealt on various aspects and achievements in the past one year and the developmental activities taken in all sectors.

On strides in communication sector, the Lieutenant reiterated his commitment and said that on short term, steps have been taken to enhance the bandwidth. He also said that the Administration is committed to complete the undersea fibre-optic cable in the coming years.

Addressing the issues in education sector the LG said that the Administration was keen to overcome the shortage of seats in higher studies in the islands. A new college was the only solution as it had been 24 years since the last educational institution for higher studies had come up in the Islands.

"With the commendable increase in the overall pass percentage in CBSE  throughout the Islands, especially in the Nicobar District which achieved 74.69%, the new college ANCOL, which started functioning from July this year is a boon for the Islanders," he said.

"There were wide apprehensions about the 422 vacancies for teachers announced. Its quite heartening that out of the total 248 seats, 90% percent has gone to the local candidates," the LG mentioned.

Moreover, another 150 new teaching posts has been created. He also said that for Andaman College, approval of 41 new posts is on the anvil.

On poor connectivity in the Islands, the Lt. Governor AK Singh said that 24th July 2014 will be a memorable day for the Islanders as Administration commenced a new chartered flight service between Car Nicobar and Port Blair connecting the farthest district with the rest of the country. It will be of immense help for government servants, defence personnel and Islanders. The fare is also kept nominal at Rs 1500 one way. And it’s a matter of happiness that the flights are going full capacity.

“Moreover, we are on talks with Alliance Air to start a similar service between Port Blair and Vizag, which has remained an old demand” the LG said.
 “We have also added an additional helicopter in the existing fleet to enhance the services," he said.
For quicker response in disaster and medical emergencies, there is a proposal to construct new helipads in inhabited Islands”, LG said.
On the new integrated terminal building coming up at Port Blair Airport, he said that it will have state of the art features.
He also expected a positive impact from the talks the Administration held with the CEOs of national carriers to reduce the airfare between Mainland-Island sector.
"There are initiatives to explore the possibility to introduce international flights services from Port Blair, he said.
“In health issues, the Islands are on a better scale on health indicators in the country and especially in government sector, we have one of the best health care system," he said.
He also rued the wide dearth of specialists and to overcome the scarcity, he said that regular health camps are conducted and doctors serve in outer Islands on rotation basis.
To augment health services, LG lauded the efforts and cooperation of doctors from Army Medical Corps.
“As the LG relief fund fails to meet the medical expenses of poor Islanders, who proceed to mainland for specialized treatment, it has been a challenge for us”, said the LG.
"A Medical College in the Islands was the only solution which we are pursuing vigorously. The college will function from a temporary premises till the new buildings come up," Lt Gen AK Singh said.
On providing employment to the local youth, the LG said that a special recruitment camp for Defence services was conducted in which about 84 local youths were recruited.
Expressing shock over the boat tragedy of 26 January 2014,  in which many lives were lost, he said that the Administration would not allow such accidents to happen in future.
“We have learnt a lot of lessons from the unfortunate incident and the safety and security of tourists is now our priority. Safety audit of all tourists vessels were taken up and to implement the safety norms, Tourist Safety Enforcement Team comprising police, tourism department and health department has been formed, who will keep a tab on all tourism activities in important tourism destinations," he informed.
"In adventure tourism activities, registration of all operators has been made a must," he cleared.
The Lt Governor mentioned about the heightening of Dhanikhari Dam by 5 mts which eventually increased the capacity by 70%, solving the problem of water scarcity in Port Blair and surrounding areas in the next 20 years.
In order to ensure availability of water in 10 villages of Bambooflat area the Administration has also launched Kamsharat Nallah Water supply scheme, likely to be completed by mid 2015, the Lt Governor said, expressing confidence that the work Khudirampur Dam in Diglipur will also commence in this financial year.
The Lt Governor reiterated on the target of the Administration to supply treated water to all the areas with a population of over 250 people, for which a new dedicated circle will be set up, he said.
The Lt Governor expressed his displeasure over the poor performance of the State Sports Associations. The Sports Secretary has been asked to review all aspects of sports and take necessary steps for reconstitution and improvement in the sector.
The Lt Governor also mentioned that the Administration will establish a multipurpose indoor stadium at Wimberlygunj with volleyball, badminton, table tennis and gymnasium facilities. He also expressed hope that the youth of the Islands will regain their fame in the field of football.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Havelock Cargo Dinghy Mishap: Search on for Missing Person

Havelock Cargo Dinghy Mishap:
Search on for Missing Person

In a mysterious incident, a cargo dinghy reportedly packed with more than 5 tonnes of cargo and two persons on board went missing between Port Blair and Havelock.

According to Mr. Jawahar, Deputy Commissioner, South Andaman, one person namely Ranjan Mondal was found at No. 19 Beach in Havelock today morning.

Despite continuous search by 3 PCR speed boats, 2 fast crafts and a Dornier of Coast Guard, there was no trace of the Dinghy or the missing person, Karak Mondal.

Jawahar also informed that as soon as the information was received, SOP was activated. Eventually, search operations were started.

Its learnt that whatever information is available is from the survivor, Ranjan Mondal, who is recuperating at PHC, Havelock.

Speaking to LOA, Vikas, SHO, PS Havelock said that a missing report has been filed and a police team with Coast Guard searched the whole area close to Neil Island and Havelock today without any result. He said that the search will continue. "We spoke to the survivor, who is admitted in PHC Havelock, and according to him, the Dinghy was carrying vegetables and other ration materials belonging to different vendors," Vikas said.

Ranjan Mondal told a source that the Dinghy had hit rock near Kalapathar area and drowned. Both the persons got hold of empty cans, but only he could reach the shore.

The Dinghy is owned by Nirmal Biswas who had shifted to plying the cargo dinghy after his vegetable business went into loss.

The vegetable market was today shut down due to the accident. Only one vegetable shop was open, which was selling potatoes at the rate of Rs 50 per kg.

Speaking to LOA, a resort owner said that death on sea due to toppling of cargo dinghies are not very uncommon between Port Blair and Havelock. "As its raining, the cargo would have been tightly secured by ropes, and the Dinghy would have hit the sea bottom when drowned," he said. "It might come up in a couple of days as the potato sacks open up," he added.

Making a comment on the precarious situation, he said that the cargo dinghies which were plying earlier have all shifted into lucrative tourism business and most of the current crop of dinghy owners are unskilled and incompetent, who don't know how to handle it.

"A disaster between Havelock and Port Blair is not something which could not be anticipated, as there are no cargo ships plying in this route and the cargo is taken by unauthorized and illegal Dinghies without any safety measures or documentation, " the Resort owner added.