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Archives for : November2017

Recent order by NHRC in 2007 burning of houses in Kamaraguda, Kondasawali, and Karrepara and killings of 7 villagers in these 3 villages by Salwa Judum leaders and SPO’s

In 2013, the villagers of Village Kondasawali, Police Station Jagargunda, district Sukma, Bastar Divison, Chhattisgarh had lodged a complaint with the Collector regarding the fact that a few years before that, in 2007, some SPOs and Salwa Judum leaders had come to their village, burnt 95 huts in three settlements in their panchayat, killed 7 people, and threatened the villagers against telling anyone about these incidents.  The villagers had been forced to leave their village after the arson attacks, and had only come back to the village after the end of Salwa Judum.

 

In 2013, they (villagers) wrote a complaint asking for compensation and investigation to the Collector and NHRC, which was subsequently taken up by the Chhattisgarh PUCL and forwarded to the NHRC. The said complaint was registered with the NHRC as Case No. 657/33/3/2013.

 

Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, being General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh PUCL and the complainant in Case No. 657/33/3/2013 received a letter from the National Human Rights Commission dated 16.06.2017 in respect of the aforesaid case directing her to gather further information in the complaint which was filed on 22.08.2013 and for that purpose visit the villages under Gram Panchayat Kondasawali, Police Station Jagargunda, Block Konta, District Sukma, Chhattisgarh.

 

She assigned JK Vidhya, Delhi and Soni Sori, on her behalf to visit the concerned area and gather information in regard to the case. Vidhya and Soni along with two other male companions, an interpreter, two journalists and the Personal Security Officer assigned to Ms Soni Sori were able to undertake the visit to the villages on 21st-22nd August 2017.  After which video testimonies of the villagers along with a report was submitted last month to the NHRC.

Now, NHRC has passed an order (http://nhrc.nic.in/display.asp?fno=657/33/3/2013)  observing :

the Commission concludes that these incidents had come to the notice of police, revenue and other officials of District Sukma soon after they had taken place but police and district officials had deliberately turned a blind eye to these killings and incidents of arson. iv) In fact, the omission by the state and district Sukma Officer to take cognizance of these incidents for seven years is also a very strong circumstance to show that these crimes had been abetted by the district officials of Sukma/or state government officials of the State of Chhattisgarh. v) This willful omission of taking cognizance of these incidents for such a long period is also a very strong circumstance indicative of the fact that these ghastly crimes had been committed by the SPOs of Jagarguda base camp as has been alleged by the complainant of case FIR No.10/2013 P.S. Jagarguda. vi) That the objective of the state machinery, both the police and the magistracy is not to ascertain the truth about these incidents but to gloss over these crimes is also amply clear in the manner the investigation of case FIR No.10/2013 P.S. Jagarguda is being conducted and the manner in which the Tehsildar, Konta, District Sukma has conducted his enquiry. A mere reading of the enquiry report of Tehsildar Konta and the statements recorded by the I.O. shows that his objective is not at all to dig out the truth and that he is only conducting a cover up operation. These acts of omission by the public servants of State of Chhattisgarh constitute a gross violation of human rights of the deceased residents of village Kondasawali, Kamaraguda and Karrepara and of those residents of these villages whose houses/huts were burnt.

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Rajasthan Pushes Ahead With Privatisation Of Primary Healthcare #WTFnews

In PPP mode, primary health centres (PHCs) will be run by NGOs and private hospitals or colleges, with profit making as a goal.
Primary Health Centres

Rajasthan government continues its spree of privatising the foundational units of its public health services – the Primary Health Centres (PHCs). After handing over 42 rural PHCs to private parties to be run on the public-private partnership (PPP) mode in 2016, the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government has now privatised 43 urban PHCs .

The pretext, as in all instances of privatisation of public services, is that the state-run PHCs are functioning poorly. But instead of putting in more financial and human resources that are required to fill in the gaps, the government seems to believe that outsourcing PHCs to private players would improve their performance.

“There is no evidence of any public service anywhere being improved while still remaining accessible to the public after it is given over to private operators,” Chittorgarh based Dr Narendra Gupta, convener of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) said,

Wherever privatisation in health has taken place, even elsewhere in India, it has resulted either in decline in quality and corruption or in skyrocketing costs for the patients, he added.

“Except for a few explicitly philanthropic groups, why would any private party take over public health if not for profit? The PHCs are the foundation of our public healthcare systems. Treating them as business proposition is risking the health of the people of Rajasthan,” said Dr Gupta.

In Rajasthan, there are a total of 2,211 rural and 245 urban PHCs. A PHC typically covers a population of 30,000 in plain areas and 20,000 in hilly, tribal, or difficult areas. A PHC also covers 6 sub-centres, the first point of contact for people in rural areas as part of the networked public health system. Besides providing curative medical services free of cost, PHCs carry out preventive and promotive healthcare activities – which assume all the more importance in rural areas.

Rajasthan’s health indicators are nothing to be proud of. It has one of the country’s highest infant mortality rates (IMR) and maternal mortality rates (MMR). In 2015, its IMR was 43 per 1000 live births as against the national rate of 37 per 1000 live births (SRS 2015). The MMR in Rajasthan was 244 per 100,000 live births as against the national rate of 167 (SRS 2011-13), while the under-5 mortality rate was 51 compared to the national average of 50 (NFHS 4) .

With private establishments taking over PHCs, one likely outcome is that the private player will use the PHC and its activities as a conduit to redirect patients to for-profit medical services that are provided at a cost, say experts.

Chronology of events

The Rajasthan government has made repeated attempts to privatise the primary healcare system in the state. On July 23, 2015, the Rajasthan government floated a Request for Proposal (RFP) inviting private players to take over 299 PHCs in rural areas on a pilot basis. The government offered to pay up to Rs 30 lakh per PHC, in return for the private entity taking over the management and all operations. The RFP had a provision that the private operator could provide additional services to patients in return for a fee.

But the move faced massive opposition in the state. The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), a network of organisations and activists working for the people’s health movements, challenged the tender by filing a PIL in the High Court in September 2015. Activists also met the health minister with their objections.

“We argued that 299 was a huge number of PHCs for a pilot. And many of the PHCs on the list were not from remote and hard to reach areas, as the government had initially claimed,” Chhaya Pachauli, who works with JSA and is a senior programme coordinator with Prayas in Jaipur, told Newsclick.

“We also strongly objected to the clause that said the private agency could deliver additional services apart from what a PHC is mandated to provide and charge patients for the same.”

Even then, the government hardly found takers because the scope for profit is severely limited in rural and remote areas, as private players would obviously prefer to operate in more lucrative districts, where at least some part of the population can afford to pay.

Following the opposition, the government withdrew the tender on December 23, 2015. The government issued a revised RFP on December 28, 2015. The second RFP had a list of 213 PHCs. And this time the explicit clause allowing additional services was removed. JSA filed two more PILs in the High Court against this.

An RTI filed by Prayas in January 2017 revealed that the government had already handed over 41 PHCs to private agencies. Of these 41, 19 PHCs had been given to WISH Foundation.

In June 2017, the Rajasthan government issued tender notice for contracting another 50 urban PHCs on PPP mode, and in August, a tender for 50 more rural PHCs was issued.

On July 18, 2017, the court had directed the state to submit a status report of the PHCs operational under the PPP mode, which Rajasthan is yet to do.

On October 26, the government signed MoUs with 14 private parties, who will take over 43 PHCs located in urban areas of 13 districts. So, in all 85 PHCs – urban and rural – stand privatised.

Fallout of privatisation

The private parties that have been handed over the rural and urban PHCs include private hospitals and other organisations.

“Private hospitals especially are bound to use PHCs as catchment areas to access patients for for-profit activities. This is done in the form of asking patients to take unnecessary tests and treatments, sending them to particular laboratories and hospitals, etc. Patients that visit PHCs are usually vulnerable and can be misguided and forced into paying more,” said Pachauli.

Also, given the limited scope for profit in PHCs, the private operator is bound to cut corners, which will result in inferior quality of services. The private partner will also be responsible for hiring the manpower, which would likely lead to understaffing to save costs. This would result in workers being underpaid and overworked – as usually happens in private establishments.

Besides many of these organisations and private hospitals have no experience in conducting the kind of public outreach activities that are required of a PHC, such as holding camps and providing counselling for family welfare services, vaccinating children, etc.

“There are some organisations on the list, such as one named Chitransh, which do not even have a website,” said Pachauli.

“And how will the government monitor the services delivered by the private player? The existing systems of monitoring are so weak, and the government is not able to monitor its own activities, how will it keep a tab on private entities?” she said.

https://newsclick.in/rajasthan-pushes-ahead-privatisation-primary-healthcare

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PIL in Madras HC highlights poor implementation of Sexual Harassment laws

The Madras High Court has been moved to highlight the lacklustre implementation of laws concerning sexual harassment in the workplace, particularly at factories and mills across Tamil Nadu.

A petition filed by one R Karuppuswamy came up for hearing today before the First Bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar.

Arguing on behalf of the petitioner, Advocate P Selvi, inter alia, emphasised on the plight of lower income workers in mills and factories in the face of poor implementation of sexual harassment laws.

Alluding to the Harvey Weinstein debacle, it was remarked that, given their poor economic status, it was not as if the victims could spread the word on social media to resolve their hardship. Rather, the duty fell upon the government to ensure that the laws were duly carried out.

Instead, she pointed out, the petitioner was constrained to file multiple RTI applications and thereafter appeal the same to obtain information regarding the status of their implementation.

In his petition, Karuppuswamy has raised various issues highlighting the non-compliance of the mandate contained in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, enacted following the 1997 Vishaka case. The petition also draws attention to the poor implementation of the Tamil Nadu Hostels and Homes for Women and Children (Regulation) Act, 2014.

Notably, he argues that functional Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs) are yet to be constituted in private and public establishments including educational institutions, mills, factories and other workplaces, as contemplated under Section 4 of the 2013 Act.

As per the petition, the authorities have also failed to implement provisions under the Act concerning the submission of annual reports on cases of sexual harassment in the workplace, organization of awareness and training programmes etc.

Further, the government has also not ensured compulsory registration of homes and hostels for women and children as contemplated under the Tamil Nadu Hostels and Homes for Women and Children (Regulation) Act, 2014.

In this context, the petitioner has submitted that,

It is evident from the incidents of girls escaping from the hostels and homes in mills and factories that the conditions of the hostels are deplorable and there is no safety for working women and girls. Girls and women are subjected to sexual harassment at the hostels and homes and there is no check, despite the Collector being authorized to carry out routine checks in such places.

The petition has also referred to several RTI representations made at various times seeking for reports regarding the implementation of these laws. From among the scattered responses received, it was gauged that the authorities were ill-informed about the provisions of the Act. While in several cases no ICC was formed at all, in others, the petitioner found flaws in their constitution and functioning.

It is evident from the responses from the districts of Coimbatore, Thiruppur, Erode  and Dindigul that the statutory Authority, the District Officer has no knowledge about the Act and ironically, they are tasked with the duty to publicise the Act. 

While Section 7 of the Act contemplates an eminent woman to be nominated as Chairperson, LCC in Coimbatore and Dindigul are the District Collector of their respective districts. Dindigul has the Deputy Superintendent of Police as a member to the LCC, which are against the ambit and utter disregard to the provisions of the Act.

The petitioner has therefore prayed that the Court direct the concerned authorities to constitute ICCs according to the Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 and further monitor hostels and homes for working women and children in accordance with the Tamil Nadu Hostels Regulation Act.

On hearing the submissions, the Court has directed that status reports be submitted by concerned district authorities across the state. The case has been posted for further hearing on December 11, 2017.

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