Citizens' Issues
Floods ravage Kashmir Valley
 Floods ravaged Kashmir Valley on Monday following incessant rainfall over the past four days. Anxious people began to leave for safer places as authorities kept a watch on swollen mountain streams and the Jhelum river which was in spate.
 
Authorities on Monday declared floods in the Kashmir Valley.
 
People feared a repeat of 2014 when floods had left a trail of destruction and death in the state.
 
"Flood level was 22.8 feet at Sangam (Anantnag), 19 feet at Ram Munshi Bagh (Srinagar) and 11.55 feet at Ashim (Bandipora) today (Monday) morning. All officials have been ordered to report for duty and remain available at their places of posting," a top divisional administration official told IANS here.
 
The official added that people living along the banks of Jhelum are advised to exercise extreme caution. "Moving to safer places from vulnerable areas is advised."
 
People living in flood-prone areas of Srinagar city, especially those in Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Gogjibagh, Wazir Bagh and some other places have already started migrating to safer places since Sunday evening.
 
Many shopkeepers in the Residency Road and Lal Chowk commercial hub of the city were seen shifting merchandise to safer places.
 
These areas had been the worst hit during the unprecedented floods last September.
 
Over 80 public and private properties suffered partial or total damage because of incessant rains during the last two days in the Valley.
 
The strategic Jammu-Srinagar highway has also been closed since Saturday. Authorities in Jammu said the highway would remain closed on Monday as well.
 
An avalanche warning was also sounded in the higher reaches of the state and all examinations scheduled have been postponed up to April 3.
 
Inter-district connectivity has also been badly affected in the Valley.
 
Srinagar-Gulmarg, Srinagar-Kupwara and Srinagar-Bandipora roads have been blocked due to flash floods and washing away of some bridges and culverts on these roads.
 
The weather office has forecast improvement in weather from Monday.
 
"There would be decrease in precipitation from today (Monday). Another western disturbance is likely to hit the state on April 2, but the intensity of that western disturbance is going to be much less than the one that had been active here during the last four days," Sonam Lotus, director of the local Met Office told IANS here.
 

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Cleaning 60 lakh kgs of adulterated pepper under court diktat!
About 60-lakh kgs of pepper confiscated in 2012 due to adulteration is supposed to be cleaned with water under a court order. Is it feasible?
 
Mumbai-based National Commodities and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX), is in the process of cleaning 60-lakh kg of pepper, following an order from the Kerala High Court. This 60-lakh kgs of pepper has been adulterated by coating with carcinogenic oils and paraffin. 
 
These stocks had been confiscated in 2012 and kept sealed in various godowns in southern Kerala and were ordered to be destroyed by the then Food Safety Commissioner. This media report was followed up through applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and the facts that have emerged, though not even a fraction of the info sought, are, to say the least, horrible, says Major PM Ravindran (retd). 
 
Here is the three-sentence order of A Muhammed Mushtaq, judge of the Kerala High Court…

 
The order reads, “Considering the facts and circumstances of the case there shall be direction to the first respondent (Commissioner of Food Safety, Kerala) to allow the petitioner (NCDEX) for cleaning all the sealed stocks of pepper and forward the samples of cleaned pepper to any of the FSSAI notified laboratories. The modalities for taking out the quantity and the manner in which it has to be taken for testing shall be done by the petitioner as per the direction of the first respondent. It is made clear that this exercise is without prejudice to the petitioner's rights/claims etc against any parties for the cost incurred.”
 
Major Ravindran says, “The first reaction on seeing the High Court order was how it can issue such directions? On thinking further, because we cannot allege that our Courts can be wrong, a doubt arose as to whether the answers to the following questions had been brought to the notice of the Court.”
  1. The quantity of water required to clean this large quantity of pepper.
  2. Whether the whole quantity can be cleaned at one place.
  3. Whether this large quantity of water is available wherever it is proposed to be cleaned.
  4. The details of the process used for the proposed cleaning.
  5. The stages in the process where things can be manipulated and how such pitfalls would be avoided. For example instead of rinsing thrice, the material is only rinsed once or twice.
  6. The cost of cleaning this complete quantity, including transportation to cleaning centre(s) from their present locations.
  7. Whether only Indian Products Ltd, Walayar has the technology and knowhow to clean contaminated pepper. What is their expertise and experience in this field?
  8. Whether the cleaned product would be fit for consumption.
  9. What are the contaminants that could have permeated/been absorbed by the pepper during the prolonged storage?
  10. Have reasonable samples been cleaned using this process, evaluated for fitness for consumption and the result submitted to the court? If not, why not? If yes, what are the results?
“Though it is such an important issue,” Major Ravindran said, “it is shocking that the order is not a speaking order and the facts and circumstances referred to in it are available only in an affidavit submitted by the applicant to the High Court. In fact, the first respondent did not even have that part of the order giving the details of the petitioner and the respondent(s). See the copy (below) of the order provided by the Public Information Officer of the Food Safety Commissionerate.”
 

 
He said, the order of the Commissioner is fairly elaborate but misses only one thing- the allotment of resources for this futile herculean task! 
 
“I say futile because pepper being an organic substance, I cannot believe that whatever has been ingested by it, can be removed by superficial cleaning. To those who disagree, please try removing salt from raw mango kept in brine for a month!” Major Ravindran added.
 
The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), which is responsible for approving facilities with the cleaning company, only knows whatever data has been provided by the company. But even then it does not seem competent to take a rational decision. 
 
 
For example, the company has intimated that its water consumption is only 7,000 litres per day from its bore well. And now look at the quantity of pepper cleaned as per the Asst. Commissioner of Food Safety, Palakkad below. 
 

 
On just one day, 24 January 2015, 18.95 tons of pepper had been cleaned/ processed! Of course a cursory look at the data of pepper brought for processing and processed would reveal that para 7 of the Commissioner's order has not been complied with!
 
Major Ravindran says this brings us to the question: what should We, the People, do when all the institutions of the government fail us with impunity?

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COMMENTS

Vaibhav Dhoka

3 years ago

Many time courts passes unjust orders and people refrain from criticism due to fear of Contempt.

A bank run by beggars, for beggars in Bihar town
A group of beggars in this Bihar town has opened their own bank, which they run and manage to provide financial security in times of crisis.
 
Dozens of beggars, who have been depending for their survival on alms from hundreds of Hindu devotees at the gate of 'Maa Manglagauri Mandir' (temple) in Gaya town for years, have started the bank.
 
The beggars call it Mangala Bank.
 
"It is true that we have established a bank for ourselves," said Raj Kumar Manjhi, one of the 40 beggars who are members of this unique "bank".
 
"Bank's manager, treasurer and secretary along with one agent and other member, who are running and managing it, are all beggars," Manjhi told IANS in Gaya, about 100 km from here. Manjhi, incidentally, is the manager of the bank.
 
Manjhi, who is literate enough to manage the accounts and other works of the bank, said: "Each of us (beggars) deposits Rs.20 every Tuesday in the bank that comes to Rs.800 weekly deposit."
 
Malti Devi, who is secretary of the bank that was established six months ago, said: "It began last year with a big hope and to fulfill aspirations of beggars. We are still not treated well in the society because we are poorest of the poor." 
 
Malti now reaches out to more and more beggars by opening their account.
 
"Most of the beggars who are members of the 'bank' have neither BPL (Below Poverty Line) card nor Aadhaar card," she said.
 
Manjhi's wife Nagina Devi is treasurer of the bank. She said: "My duty is to manage the deposit money." 
 
Bank's agent Vanarik Paswan said his job is to collect money from each member weekly for deposit.
 
Manjhi said their bank helped him when he faced an emergency. 
 
"Early this month, my daughter and sister sustained burn injuries while cooking. The bank has provided me a loan of Rs.8,000 for their medical treatment. It is an example of how the bank can help a beggar like me without any paper work or guarantor as practiced in nationalised and private banks," he said.
 
Manjhi would not have to pay interest on his loan for a month.
 
"The bank has made it mandatory to pay interest on a loan at the rate of 2 to 5 percent from next month to put pressure to pay back loan amount," Malti said.
 
Beggars like Nathun Budha, Basant Manjhi, Rita Masomat, Dhaula Devi said that they were happy that at least now they have their own bank.
 
"We saved some money at least now and deposit in the bank," said Basant.
 
Rita said they have been depositing money in the bank to meet her future needs.
 
Nathun added that what was unique about their bank is the fact that it is owned and managed by beggars who decide on the rules and regulations themselves.
 
The beggars were encouraged to start their own bank by officials of State Society for Ultra Poor and Social Welfare last year.

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COMMENTS

Gopalakrishnan T V

3 years ago

It is a shame on the nation that after 66 years of independence there are beggars and they have to start their own banks to take care of them. The countrey has numerous scehmes to help the poorest of the poor and this sort of a bank run by beggars for beggars is a reflection and sad commentary that all the schemes meant for poor have not benefited many and begginng continues to be a profession. Icould not believe when some one said that somebody runs a begging industry and the turn over is huge.This news confirms that anything is possible.I also happened to hear a complaint that a beggar who was keen to have an account in a bank was not allowed to open an account as the bank took a stand that beggars cannot be allowed to open account in banks and this had to be sorted out by highlighting and impressing upon the bank that any customer has to be treated as King and the beggar cannot be denied the facility and he is on par with any other deposit Customer.The news is heartening that there are industrious and enterprising people and given an opportunity they will establish themselves.

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