Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
At least ten pre-school kids are severely injured with seven of them dead as a wall of a 70 years old dilapidated structure collapsed on them at a time they were going to have their mid-day meals in an Anganvadi center in Nayagarh district, this July 9. The bereaved families are offered with Rs.1 lakh each from the Chief Minister’s relief fund.
The question is: if the Pipili gang rape victim is given posthumous cash grant of Rs. 10 lakhs, why the tribals killed by Tata hired government bullets at Kalinga Nagar were offered Rs. 5 lakhs each and the kids who died in the death trap laid down by the negligent government at Suansia Sahi U.P.School of Ranapur Block in Nayagarh District on July 9 are given only Rs. 1 lakh each?
A few of pictures of the most pathetic tragedy would suffice to show how the death trap for the kids was deliberately laid. The walls had cracked and the very old tin roof was perforated and rain water had made the room vulnerable to collapse any moment. There was running the Anganvadi center like they run in many places across the State.
The central government is paying and the state government has been receiving hundreds of crores of rupees for construction of Anganvadies and mini Anganvadies. Propaganda machineries are being fabulously fueled to project the plutocratic government as pro-people on the tract of these pre-school institutes in the misruled State.
Fellows with marked allegiance to the ruling party are shrewdly recruited as Anganvadi workers when funds allotted on records for mid-day meal of the kids in Anganvadies are being used to provide profits to arrangers and suppliers of food ingredients, sometimes provoking villagers to rain vociferous blames on the government for rampant misuse thereof.
Suspicion is galore that the entire funds are also being misappropriated at certain points where the ruling party persons are in opportunistic nexus with the local officials.
Out of a total 71,134 Anganvadies in Orissa, only 17, 554 centers have their own roofs, howsoever substandard they be, whereas 16,794 centers are operating in primary schools in their designated localities. Locations of the rest 36,786 Anganvadies are not known. Are they ghost centers? Who can say,’no’? If yes, where does the entire money meant for these 36,786 Anganvadi centers go? Only an in-depth investigation into their existence may reveal the reality. Till then, you are free to speculate.
To avoid speculations, which may go wild, the government should place before the public the records in details of all the 71,554 Anganvadies for social audit / public verification of which Angavadi is really working and which are ghosts. But, sadly, the portfolio belongs to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and no executive officer has the guts to reveal the details.
When the Chief Minister is holding the portfolio, the chilling extermination of the lives of at least seven kids under a collapsed wall of the Anganvadi center belonging to the second category noted above has exposed the monstrous mischief the state government has been playing with the kids, as priority in the program is not pre-school education; but satisfaction of the urge for political mileage and avarice of political supporters of the chief minister as well as of payola payers. Reference may be made to resignation of a minister under charges of supply to moth-eaten, rotten and poisonous pulses to Anganvadies in this government.
Now as in a particular place the mischief is again laid bare, the Chief Minister’s relief fund is used to silent the bereaved families. This is a very serious syndrome Orissa is being subjected to time and again. Yet again, there is no set principle for payment from the relief fund under disposal of a political executive, the Chief Minister.
The question is: who evaluates the cost of damage in such cases and decides the quantum of relief? What is the yardstick? And, why so slapdash decision in so questionable fashion in spending this fund for political skin-saving of a person under whose reign people are put in such death traps time and again?
May this attract the attention of the Supreme Court of India and may one hope, the Court would act to honor the extinguished dreams of the innocent kids, by inflicting exemplary punishment upon the wicked villein because of whose misrule, the system of Anganvadi killed our kids by forcing them to qualify for mid-day meal by running into the death trap laid in the dilapidated room of a primary school built 70 years ago and discernibly unsafe.
The villain in power is so ingenuous that attempts to hoodwink the people have started with dismissal of two Anganvadi workers and suspension of the primary school principal and engineering of shifting responsibility to the local officials by projecting them as fellows whose negligence to keep the school safe caused the deaths.
Somanath s/o Hadibandu Totai, Sachin s/o Basanta Kumar Roy, Chiku s/o Tuku Pandi, Ankita d/o Babuna Sahu, Sonali d/o Punia Pradhan, Alisha d/o Chandeswar Jena and Pradip s/o Sant Pradhan are not killed just by the collapse of a wall, they are killed by a misruling government.
Badal s/o Basanta Sahu, Gyana Ranjan and Dibya Ranjan sons of Ganesh Behera are in hospital beds under serious injuries not because of their fault, but because of misrule by a political executive.
They all are symbols of how our dreams for better days are being shattered by a preening person under whose maladministration priority of the State has been shifted from safeguarding the interests of native people to serve the interest of foreigners like the POSCO and inland capitalists like the Tatas.
Cry parenthood, cry. Cry over the crime in tolerating the criminals in power who do not bother to keep our future safe.
And, onlookers, look again at the pictures to see how dreams of our future are killed and decide your own course of action.
Let the action start with a demand for a CBI investigation into the Chief Minister’s relief fund and into how far the State has fulfilled its role in Anganvadi establishment.
Political acrobats need be shown the door and be given the punishment their crimes call for.