WOMEN OF UNDEVELOPPED KEONJHAR HOLD COURT ON SAFE MOTHERHOOD

Better late than never. We have the pleasure in sharing information on an event that occurred on 19 September 06 at Keonjhar which we received from Mr. Biplab Mishra along with photographs. The event is indicative of how mass awareness can make administration answerable and responsive.

More than a thousand women, coming from all the 13 Blocks of the mineral-rich but economically undeveloped hilly district of Keonjhar, voiced their concern over safe motherhood in a unique program styled as “Safe Motherhood Adalat”, coordinated by Prakalpa, a leading NGO of the district. The Orissa State Commission for Women (OSCW) as well as the Unicef supported Prakalpa in this endeavor.

Chaired by Mrs. Namita Panda, chief of OSCW, the Adalat heard a lot of pertinent issues and cases related to safe motherhood as raised by the women participants. While welcoming the Adalat, Secretary of Prakalpa, Mr. Biplab Mishra, regretted that in spite of lots of propaganda, a government programme rarely reaches the people in remote areas. There are discernible gaps in service delivery like registration of marriage, ante-natal and post natal care and institutional delivery etc. for which rate of Maternal Mortality and Infant Mortality is in the rise. Ms. Kusum Mohapatra, another functionary of Prakalpa explained the modus-operandi of the Adalat. Then the women participants raised their allegations.

One instance:

A very poor tribal lady from Sibanarayanpurgoda in Telkoi block, Mrs. Gitanjali Naik, alleged that she had been to the Telkoi Primary Health Center for delivery of her child in a condition of severe bleeding. The Medical officer referred her to District Headquarter Hospital (DHH), Keonjhar, noting that her condition was very critical. She reached the DHH and registered for confinement. But then the O&G specialist asked her for money to conduct an operation. She and her husband had no money with them to give and the Doctor had no mercy to show. So, immediately her husband ran to his village and sold their land at a throw away price and came back with money and gave Rs.2200/- to the doctor.

On hearing her allegations, the Adalat where the Chief District Medical Officer, District Social Welfare Officer and Collector were present to answer, summoned the concerned doctor, who was eventually identified by Gitanjali.

The Chairperson and Member of Orissa State Commission for Women directed the CDMO to look into the matter and settle the grievance of Gitanjali. The CDMO was further directed to ensure that such type of incidences is not repeated in the district, which he promised to comply with.

Collector of the District Mr. Sushil Kumar Lohani told in his reply to various allegations on administrative apathy and malfeasances, that the women in groups should come forward to protest against corruption and demand services meant for them not only in health sector but also in other sectors too. As the Chief of District administration, he declared, that all the issues of public interest raised by women en masse will be looked into with utmost priority, he assured.

This was a unique initiative where women from remote areas were brought to a single platform to voice their problems and difficulties in availing mother & child health care to the district administration in this first of its kind Adalat that makes administrators conscious of their answerability to the society.

The Adalat was inaugurated by Mrs. Namita Panda, Chairperson of OSCW and addressed by its member Dr.(Mrs.) Biswa Kalyani Das, as well as by Mr. Debajit Mitra, Unicef, Dr. Usha Tripathy, Chief District Medical Officer, Mrs. Jamuna Triya, District Social Welfare Officer and Mr. Purna Chandra Nayak, Additional District Magistrate,Keonjhar.

Photographs by Biplab Mishra

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  1. Sir ,

    The central government has introduced several anti-poverty programs to prevent hunger deaths and to prevent migration from rural to urban areas.The government introduced NREGA to strengthen the economic condition of the rural poor in India, with a commitment to ensure the poor people’s right to work and to keep them free from hunger.

    The question remains whether NREGA funds actually reach the poor . In this connection,
    i report here some findings from the nrega works in Godipalli panchayat of Odagaon block of
    nayagarh district.

    In the financial year 2009-2010 ,nrega funds have been sanctioned for“IMPROVEMENT
    OF KHALIPATANA TO GOVARDHAN ROAD” and “EXCAVATION AND IMPROVEMENT OF
    GIRIGOVARDHAN POND” in Godipalli panchayat.But large scale irregularities have been done
    by use of machines,forgery of muster roll by including the name of disables,persons in jail
    and admitted in hospitals and some persons those who are not staying in the village.

    Details are given below….

    WORK: “IMPROVEMENT OF KHALIPATANA TO GOVARDHAN ROAD”

    Case-1:
    Bhagaban Kar was in Nayagarh jail from 13th May 2009 to 6th June 2009 for various criminal cases.The muster roll shows that Bhagaban kar has worked from 17th May 2009 to 30th May 2009 and 31st May 2009 to 14th june 2009. How can a person go for daily wages while in jail ?

    Case-2: Kailash Dalei was in Nayagarh jail from 23rd May 2009 to 27th May 2009.The muster roll shows that he has worked from 17th May 2009 to 30th May 2009 ? How is it possible that a person is working under nrega while in jail and received payment?

    Case-3: Sridhar Jena is a paralysis patient. He is under complete bed rest for the last five years.Even he is unable to walk properly.How could he work under nrega scheme for 36 days and received payment?
    Case-4:
    Mahajan Rout had a severe head injury during the police lathi charge on 13th May 2009 near Sarankul police station. He was in Saranakul govt hospital from 14th May 2009 to 15th May 2009 and in Nayagarh district hospital from 15th MAY 2009 onwards for period of nearly one week. The muster roll shows that he has worked under NREGA during that period. How is it possible?
    Case-5:
    Sudam Barik is a partially disabled person.He is not able to do hard works like digging of ponds, road woks.The muster roll shows that he has worked for 48 days and received payments.

    Case-6:
    Narayan raj is a heart patient.He is advised by the doctor for complete rest. He never goes for daily wages.The muster roll shows that he has worked for 48 days and received payments.

    Case-7:
    People like Bhaskar Karan,Subal Karan,Damodar karan,Ram kishore Jena,Gopabandhu Jena,Ghanasyam Jena ,Manoj pradhan have never gone for daily wages in their lives.The Muster roll shows that these people have worked under NREGA and received payments.

    WORK:“EXCAVATION AND IMPROVEMENT OF GIRIGOVARDHAN POND”

    Case-: The muster roll shows that Sridhar Jena,Nrayan Raj,Sudam barik,Bhaskar Karan,Damodar Karan,Ram kishore Jena,Gopabandhu Jena,Ghanashyam Jena,Manoj pradhan have worked under NREGA.

    I can challenge that people like Sridhar Jena,Sudam Barik,Manoj pradhan can never do any hard work like digging of pond even for a single day. How did they work under NREGA.for so many days?

    Neither a single person has worked under nrega among the names showing in the muster roll nor any of them have received any payment .The whole money is being looted by Lingaraj patra,the Sarpanch of Godipalli Panchayat.The whole muster roll is fake.Some work has been done by machine.

    The website nrega.nic.in shows that materials of worth over 3lakhs have been procured for the two works mentioned above.The whole bill is fake.

    Another thing comes to my mind is that Godipalli panchayat consists of arround 14 wards where as Khalipata village consists of 2 wards only, then why all the money sanctioned from NREGA to Godipalli panchayat poured into Khalipatana instead of distributing among the villages of the panchayat? Even if, it was poured into khalipatana,then the job card holders of other villages of Godipalli panchayat could have worked. Is it that other villages of Godipalli panchayat are far away from Khalipatana or there is any legal restriction ? No, Then why other villagers of the same panchayat could not get a single day’s work.

    The answer is quite clear.Lingaraj Patra ,the sarpanch of Godipalli Panchayat is a mafia,goonda type person. He has maximum terrorising influence in Khalipatana. No body dares to say anything against Lingaraj patra in Khalipatana .If anybody opens mouth,then he is forced to leave the village,his house is destroyed,he and his family members are beaten,agricultural corps are destroyed,false cases are registered against him. Already nearly 15 families have left the village due the torture of lingaraj patra and his gang.So if NREGA work is done in Khalipatana ,then it would be easy for him to get money by making fake muster rolls by including the names of khalipatana villagers and later he can collect the money from the persons whose name is in the muster roll.Exactly this is happened in the NREGA work in Godipalli panchayat of odagaon block of Nayagarh district.

    This scheme looks like a cruel joke on the hungry and poor people of Godipalli Panchayat.The NREGS has various inbuilt vigilance and monitoring mechanisms and it is not possible to perpetrate such an open loot of NREGS funds unless it is participatory and organized.This scheme has become less of Employment Guarantee Scheme for the hungry and poor villagers and more of a money spinning machine and Income Guarantee Scheme for some sarkari babus. The concerned officials and agencies executing National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) passed by Indian Parliament are guilty of contempt of Parliament. I believe that action against a few wrongdoers will prevent a lot of harm to a programme that is as good as unmonitored

    This is one of the findings of NREGA scam from a single panchayat,then one can imagine the modus oparandi of this great job robbery in whole Nayagarh district or in orissa?

    Yours sincerely

    Nilakantha jena ,
    Research Engineer,
    C-DOT,Electronics city,
    Bangalore-560100
    Mobile:9964081255
    E-mail: jena_nilakantha@
    rediffmail.com

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