Inter-state bridge connecting Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana faces road block


MALKANGIRI: A 900-metre approach road is all that is required to operationalise the bridge over river Saveri near Motu but it is not happening. 

The 290-metre bridge, built as part of Vijayawada-Ranchi Corridor National Highway near Motu, was completed three months back and still awaits the approach road to connect it to the highway. 

Once operational, the bridge will provide direct road link between Malkangiri and Hyderabad in Telangana and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. 

The bridge would not only facilitate 24×7 inter-state bus services between Malkangiri and the two neighbouring states but also boost business in the district.

It will also help in tackling Maoists. The bridge will enable security personnel of all the three states to ensure round-the-clock inter-state patrolling to take on the Maoists.

Presently, only one private bus plies between Malkangiri and Hyderabad via Dornapal bridge in Chhattisgarh.

The travel time would be reduced considerably and one would only take 14 hours to cover a distance of 520 km from Malkangiri to Hyderabad, said Bhakta Rout, president of District Private Bus Owners’ Association.

According to sources, at least five private bus owners from Jeypore, Nabarangpur and Koraput are interested to ply buses to Hyderabad and Vijayawada via Malkangiri instead of Salur and Sunki to save time.

The state-run OSRTC buses would also ply to Hyderabad and Vijayawada once the bridge is opened.

A National Highway official based in Jeypore, Vinod Bagarti said tender for the approach road was invited before the election model code of conduct came into force but there was no participation. 

A fresh tender would be floated again, he said and added that the matter is now with Bhubaneswar-based National Highway Chief Engineer’s Office. If no tender is received in the second attempt, Government would take a final call, he added.

What to See and do in Ranchi in 24 Hours


The capital of Jharkhand, Ranchi, is a stunning city that’s home to more waterfalls than one can imagine. Famously also known as the ‘City of Waterfalls,’ Ranchi’s hilly topography and strategic geographical location makes it a natural paradise on Earth. Here’s what you must see on your trip here.

The Waterfalls

The most spectacular waterfall in Ranchi is the Hundru Falls, where you need to climb down 750 stairs to reach the foot of the waterfalls. Other must visit ones are Dassam Falls, Jonha Falls, and Panchghagh Falls that are all known for their spectacular beauty and the lush greenery surrounding them.

Birsa Zoological Park

One of the best zoos in the country, Birsa Zoological Park is divided into two sections: the larger area is home to wildlife such as lion, tiger, hyena, fox, wild cat, barking deer and elephant and the smaller area is thoroughly a botanical section with one of the most beautiful Rose Gardens you’ll ever see.

Rock Garden

Rock Garden is considered second to the Jaipur Garden in its appearance. Nestled atop Gonda Hills, rocks from the Gonda Hills were used to carve this beautiful garden and the statues inside. Kanke Dam, right at the bottom of Gonda Hills, is a must visit too, for it offers unparalleled peace and tranquility to the tired traveller.

Ranchi Lake

Located at the foot of Ranchi Hill, the lake is located at the centre of the city making it easily accessible to travellers. It is the perfect place if you want to go boating, or just watch a sunset or soak in the beauty of the panoramic view of the hills around.

The temples

The most frequented attraction in Ranchi is the Sun Temple. The highlight of its wonderful architecture are the eighteen wheels and seven horses; the unique design adding a touch of splendour to the temple. Another one is the 17th-century Jagannath Temple, situated on hilltop in the city. It looks a lot like the Jagannath Temple in Puri; and affords an excellent view of the entire city.

Private firm axed; civic body plans daily inspection, verification calls


Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) has worked out an elaborate plan to keep the capital clean, including daily inspections by senior officials and random verification calls to residents, now that the private firm hired to take care of garbage collection in a large section of the city has been sacked for poor services.

Among the other measures RMC plans to introduce are increasing the frequency of garbage collection and extending the doorstep collection facility to all 53 wards of Ranchi. “We want senior RMC officials to do the round of at least two-three wards everyday to check cleanliness,” said CEO of RMC Manoj Kumar.

“The officers will have to visit at least two-three wards every morning before reaching office. They will have to submit reports every 48 hours to ensure that workers carry out their duties diligently. We had issued a directive to this effect on Tuesday. We will also track garbage collection vehicles through GPS to ensure that waste collection vans comply with the set route chart,” he explained.

The private firm, Essel Infra, was supposed to undertake waste collection, transportation and its management in 33 of the 53 wards of the city. RMC was taking care of the remaining 20 wards. But after repeated complaints for residents of shoddy services, it was decided to terminate Essel Infra’s contract.

“Despite repeated reminders, the company failed to fulfil the terms of its contract. We had decided to terminate the contract in March, and after a cabinet nod earlier this month, we handed over the termination letter yesterday (Tuesday),” Kumar said, admitting that it would take the RMC some time to streamline its efforts.

Capital Ranchi generates nearly 700 tonnes of waste daily and its disposal is a challenge with residents regularly complaining of irregular door-to-door collection. Despite all efforts, RMC has barely been able to streamline garbage collection and disposal even after hiring a private firm. Now, it will have to take full charge of the capital’s cleanliness.

Kumar said as per the contract with Essel Infra, RMC started taking over the firm’s assets from Wednesday. The assets include manpower and various machinery (see box).

“As per our assessment, there is no problem in terms of manpower. There are some issues in terms of repairing vehicles which will be done soon,” Kumar said.

He said the daily monitoring by officials would take place, ideally, between 7am and 10 am.

“In any case, supervisors were responsible for verifying cleaning work. And now with senior officials monitoring the work every morning, they will be more diligent. Each senior official, including city managers, will be given a list of drains to ensure they are cleaned. They will also ensure that garbage vats are cleared regularly,” added Kumar.

This apart, RMC would make random telephone calls to residents to check the status of their area.

“We got contact numbers of residents during a survey carried out by students of Ranchi University. Calls would go out from the RMC control room. Any complaint would be dealt with immediately and workers and supervisors, if they are to blame, would be taken to task,” he said.

Also, Kumar added, that the frequency of waste collection would be increased. “Currently, collection is being done in the morning and evening. This will be increased to three to four times a day based on the needs of an area,” he explained.

RMC is also planning to float tenders to select separate agencies for door-to-door waste collection, transportation of waste to collection centres and processing of waste at the Jhiri dump. “We plan to complete the tender process by July so that work on the ground level begins by August-September,” said a senior RMC official.

New policy set to redraw Bihar’s sand mine map


The state government is drafting the Bihar State Sand Mining Policy 2019, a move required to incorporate the new rules of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change. The new policy will also be tailored after taking into account the problems faced by the state government while handling leased out sand ghats in the past five years.

The last time a Bihar sand mining policy was made was in 2013. After Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in 2000, the latter has been left with only a few commercially valuable minerals. Besides stone quarrying, royalty from sand mining gives the state government a handsome income. The state mines and geology department has set a target of earning Rs 900 crore in 2019.

Sand mining has been a controversial issue in Bihar. Illegal sand mining has led to major crimes and gang wars in the state.

On June 2, chief minister Nitish Kumar reshuffled the portfolio of various ministers, including mines and geology minister Vinod Kumar Singh, who was replaced by Brajkishore Bind. Sources said that the CM was taking an interest in vetting the new sand mining policy and suggesting changes in it.

Principal secretary, mines and geology department, Harjot Kaur Bamhrah, said that the last policy was of a five-year term, and so there was a need to draft a new policy. “The policy is in the draft stage and a presentation will be made to the higher authorities for vetting,” she said.

Sand ‘districts’ to be redrawn

Sources said that in the new sand mining policy, the mines and geology department, in order to drive up earnings, proposes to increase the number of sand mining units in Bihar. At present, out of 38 districts, the department has divided the state into 25 districts, according to mining units of sand.

“Districts such as Patna, Bhopur, and Saran are clubbed as one unit. Aurangabad and Rohtas are another unit. And Lakhisarai and Jamui are yet another unit. This has been done for mining purpose,” said a source.

However, under the new draft policy, there is a proposal to cut the sand mining ‘districts’ number to 15, but increase the sand mining sites within each unit. “Suppose a district has seven rivers, mining permission at each river will be given to different parties,” they added.

This would give an opportunity to small players to enter the river sand mining business and break the monopoly of big players, said the sources.

Normally, when a lessee gets sand mining licence for a district comprising many rivers, the mining company does not turn its attention to the small river(s) in the district, and gets busy with mining at the big river where the sand yield is more. “The smaller rivers are neglected in the districts, reducing the earnings of the department,” said sources, adding that allotment of more sites and to multiple mining companies would increase the earnings of the department.

Greener mining rules

The new sand mining policy would also incorporate the changes in environment laws, as proposed by the Centre. “The new policy will include the new guidelines of NGT and the union ministry of environment, forest and climate change. The guidelines of NGT are very exhaustive; work is on to incorporate them in the new draft policy,” said a source.

Principal secretary Bamhrah said that the presentation of the new policy would be made to the new mines and geology minister and later approved by the state cabinet. “Hopefully, the new sand mining policy will be in place in the next two months,” she said.

Burdwan medical student suffers eye injury


Three junior doctors and a fourth-year student of Burdwan Medical College and Hospital were injured on Wednesday when relatives of patients and outsiders lobbed bricks at them.

The attack occurred around 11.30am when junior doctors were demonstrating at the hospital’s emergency gate as part of a statewide ceasework at OPDs to protest the assault on two NRS doctors.

Mayank Agarwal, a fourth-year student, suffered serious injuries and had to be admitted to the hospital, according to hospital authorities.

A brick hit him in the left eye and he was kicked and punched in the face. The three junior doctors sustained minor injuries.

“Mayank has got three stitches in the eye. He has undergone a CT scan,” Amitabha Saha, deputy superintendent of the medical college and hospital said.

“Some internal injury in the eye has been detected. He is being treated in the eye department,” he said.

A large group of relatives of patients were stopped by the protesting doctors and forced to return.

“Initially, a scuffle broke out between the junior doctors and the relatives of patients. It soon snowballed into a clash,” a hospital official said.

The hospital authorities on Wednesday made frequent announcements over the public address system alerting patients that the OPD was shut because of a ceasework by junior doctors.

The 1,236-bed hospital sees patients from neighbouring Birbhum, East Burdwan, Bankura, parts of Hooghly and Jharkhand.

The OPD sees about 5,000 patients every day on average. At least 1,300 patients are admitted to various wards currently. Their treatment was not affected.

At least 1,380 junior doctors and medical students began a sit-in at various places on the complex, including at the emergency gate, since morning.

“We were on a peaceful dharna when some people started hurling bricks at us. They threatened to hurl acid bombs at us. We were feeling insecure,” Niladri Kayal, an agitating junior doctor, said.

Policemen present on the camp inside the hospital intervened and tried to disperse the mob but were outnumbered. Some media photographers were roughed up by the mob and some of the agitating junior doctors.

The junior doctors apparently chased the mob, lobbed bricks and thrashed them with bamboo sticks.

“We were attending an emergency meeting of the college council when we learnt that some outsiders had attacked the agitating students and junior doctors at the emergency,” said Saha.

Saha, along with medical superintendent and vice-principal Utpal Dawn, reached the spot and alerted the police. Dawn was caught between the warring groups of junior doctors and was apparently manhandled.

A large police contingent, led by additional superintendent of police Priyabrata Roy, reached the spot and chased the mob away.

The relatives of patients alleged that junior doctors had misbehaved with them and drove them out.

“I had a surgery last week. I came here today to have the stitches removed at the OPD. The junior doctors forced us to leave. They asked us why we came when they had announced a ceasework,” Suktor Sheikh, who came from Murshidabad, said.

The junior doctors, however, denied the charge. “Our agitation was peaceful and we did not harass anyone. The hospital authorities announced that the OPD is closed today (Wednesday),” said a junior doctor.

In West Midnapore, families of patients blocked the main road in front of Midnapore Medical College for an hour on Wednesday morning to protest the doctors’ ceasework.

In Nadia, OPD and emergency services were completely suspended at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital and Kalyani College of Medicine as well as at Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Kalyani as senior doctors supported the ceasework by junior doctors.

Surgeries were not carried out at the hospital.

Avijit Mujherjee , medical superintendent of Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital and Kalyani College of Medicine, said: “Services were largely hampered at the hospital. But, the treatment of those admitted to the hospital was normal.”

In the evening, 400 students, interns and doctors walked in a silent procession in Kalyani town condemning the attack on their colleagues at NRS.

In Krishnagar, doctors stayed away from the OPDs at the district hospital and at Sadar hospital but attended emergency without disrupting services.

Doctors stayed away from the OPD of Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital but provided services at the emergency department.

After pre-monsoon showers, parts of Pune buckle under power cuts


While the recent pre-monsoon showers came as a relief after the extreme heat faced by Pune residents, the strong winds and lightning strikes have caused several problems in the city, including frequent power cuts. “With most of the software companies in our area, the power cut is turning out to be a huge problem here. The industry is totally dependent on the power supply and without it, no work can be done,” said Sanjeev Tare, who lives in Wakad. “For the last 2-3 days, we have been suffering due to this issue. The power kept coming and going intermittently,” said Tare.

The intermittent power cuts also caused problems in other areas, especially ones which rely on water tankers for their basic needs. As the tankers depend on borewells, which cannot function without electricity, their supply too was affected.

Sarla Williams, a resident of Viman Nagar, said her family was unable to sleep because of the fluctuation in power supply. “I have filed a complaint with the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) several times, but still this problem continues,” she said.

MSEDCL officials, on the other hand, said the matter was not always in their hands. “Most of the power supply cables are fitted underground to ensure safety, but there is a chance that the cables come in contact with water and thus power supply gets affected. Another reason can also be digging of roads for Metro work,” said Sachin Talewar, Chief Engineer, Pune Zone, MSEDCL.

“Usually, registered consumers are informed about issues related to the power supply through text messages,” added Talewar.

Officials have also started a WhatsApp group. “Through the use of technology, we now have an easy and quick way to reach people and we can see positive results,” said Anjali Mone, Assistant Engineer, MSEDCL.

509% rise in cases under child labour law: Study by Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation


There has been a 509% increase in the number of cases registered under the child labour law since 2017, according to a research study on child labour by Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF).

KSCF has carried out the study ‘Child labour know more’ with the objective of identifying gaps in the implementation of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 and strengthening national efforts towards elimination of all forms of child labour by the year 2025 as per the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a press release said.

“Since 2017, an increase of 509% in the number of cases registered under the child labour law has been recorded as per a study based on information sought under the RTI Act,” the release said.

However, it said, a comparison between this data, the figures provided by the National Crime Records Bureau across three years and the Census of India 2011 brings out the “massive disparity” between the number of working children in India and the number of cases, registered and prosecuted.

RTI replies from across the country revealed that no case of child labour was registered in Haryana, Kerala, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh in 2017. Rajasthan and Bihar contributed 84% of the total cases registered, it said.

“Another glaring deficiency in the policy regime for abolition of child labour is non-disbursal or disbursal with huge delays of monetary compensation and the yawning gaps in efficient delivery of rehabilitation measures,” the release said.

The report also provides a range of recommendations to address the gaps in protection, prosecution, rehabilitation and prevention of child labour in the country.

DNA SPECIAL: With wires dangling, danger lurks in Kandivali’ Bihari Tekdi


After two kids were electrocuted in Kandivali while playing in the first showers, DNA visited the Bihari Tekdi area on Wednesday. We observed that many more alleys in the locality have wires precariously and dangerously dangling waiting for a mishap to happen. Many residents that we spoke to had their electric supplies connected in a random fashion with wires lying exposed to rain impact.

“Most of the residents who are staying here since decades had taken the single connection and the power supply flows from the main fuse to their house through a network of hanging cables. Gradually, the demand for connection rose tremendously and wire connections increased. The residents are only concerned with getting power bills on time,” said a local resident. Asha Shukla, secretary of the Vimla Devi chawl where the mishap happened is candid enough.

“Ultimately, the people are themselves responsible for protecting their lives and there is no point in blaming the police, politicians or politicians. People were warned before to look after their power supply wires but they distanced themselves from taking additional concern. Every year, the chawl faces waterlogging area and despite complaining them several times, they did not pay any heed. After the incident, the power supply has been suspended.”

The office of the electrical inspector of the IE&L department has promised the residents to fix leakages, address earthing and make repairs to avoid further mishaps under the supervision of the licensed electrical contractor.

Bhima Koregaon case: Pune police raid activist Fr. Stan Swamy’s Ranchi home


A Pune police team on Wednesday searched the residence of human rights activist Father Stan Swamy in Ranchi in connection with the Bhima Koregaon–Elgaar Parishad case and for his alleged Maoist links. This was the second time the city police raided his house in Ranchi’s Namkum area.

While electronic devices, including a hard disk and some other materials, were seized, the 83-year-old activist was not taken into custody. 

The Pune police were assisted by the Ranchi police in the search that lasted nearly three hours, said sources.

Ashutosh Sekhar, Superintendent of Police, Ranchi (Rural), told The Hindu, “The search began after 7 a.m. and lasted nearly two-and-a-half to three hours. The Maharashtra police team took some electronic material and some documents. They will examine this material and decide on the future course of action.” 

The previous raid

Raids were conducted by the police at Fr. Swamy’s residence on August 28 last along with that of six other academics and activists known for their dissentious views against the powers that be.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Swargate division) Shivaji Pawar, the investigating officer in the case, told The Hindu that the police seized some electronic devices and other material from Fr. Swamy’s house. “We have not taken him into custody. We conducted this operation for gathering more evidence as a part of the ongoing investigation in the case. The materials seized will be sent for probe,” he said.

Fr. Swamy runs a school for Adivasi children and a technical training institute in his residential premises. A vocal critic of the Jharkhand government, he is known for his work among the tribal people of the State through his NGO, Bagaicha.

In 2016, he released an expose following a Jharkhand undertrials’ study, which showed that an overwhelming majority of the tribal people languishing in jails were falsely implicated and arrested for daring to protest against the violation of their constitutional and human rights.

On August 28 last, the houses of activists Sudha Bharadwaj, P. Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde were raided, along with that of Fr. Swamy as part of the second crackdown by the Pune police on alleged ‘Maoist sympathisers’ as part of their investigation into the Bhima-Koregaon clashes.

Four of them, including Ms. Bharadwaj, Mr. Rao, Mr. Gonsalves and Mr. Ferreira are now lodged in the city’s Yerwada Jail. 

Last year’s crackdown

On June 6 last year, the city police, in its first nationwide crackdown in the case, arrested five activists, including Dalit publisher Sudhir Dhawale, advocate Surendra Gadling, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen and activists Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson for their alleged links with the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) and their roles in the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ and the Bhima-Koregaon clashes.

Two charge sheets have been filed against a total 23 accused in the case on a number of counts, including for alleged Maoist links, veering youths towards Maoism and attempting to destabilise the State. The first charge sheet, a 5,160 page indictment, was filed in November 2018 and the second in February last.

Jharkhand HC Stays Proceeding Against Union Agriculture Minister


In a relief to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, the Jharkhand High Court (HC) has granted a stay in proceeding against him in lower court in a case related to alleged insult and provocation knowing that it would cause break of public peace.

Justice AK Gupta granted the stay on the ground that the complainant failed to appear before HC after a notice was issued to him in 2017 while he was trying to proceed in lower court, said Tomar’s lawyer Saumitra Baroi. The HC had issued notice to the complainant while granting stay in proceeding in the case in lower court.

It may be noted here that the case was lodged by Congress worker MK Azad at Dhanbad civil court after Tomar allegedly said that a few people compare Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi adding that the hair a moustache and that of a tail cannot be compared. The statement was allegedly made by Tomar while addressing a public rally in 2016.

Meanwhile, as per guidelines issued by Supreme Court, the lower court recently re-opened proceeding against Tomar after lapse of six months of stay. It issued a bailable warrant and directed Tomar to appear before the court in July. Tomar, however, moved the HC again to secure the stay. The hearing in the case would be in September.