Thursday, March 31, 2011

BADP is a failure in Mizoram, finds CAG report

By Paritosh Chakma

THE LATEST report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, tabled in the State Assembly by Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla on March 29, 2011, has made stunning revelations about the implementation of the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) in Mizoram. The CAG has found that BADP has been a failure in the state due to “inherent deficiency in planning and implementation of the programme”.

BADP implementation is plagued with high level corruption, the CAG report has revealed. The Rural Development department drew an amount of Rs 46.76 crore during 2005-2010 presenting false bills to the government treasury before actual commencement of approved works, the CAG report has stated. Further, out of Rs 103.40 crore drawn during 2005-2010, only Rs 23.40 crore (23 per cent) was released to the 16 Rural Development Blocks, and the remaining Rs 80 crore (77 per cent) was disbursed in the subsequent financial years, causing inordinate delay.

Further, the RD department incurred an expenditure of Rs 6.71 crore during 2005-2010 towards execution of 134 “ineligible” works, mainly pertaining to construction of office buildings, residential accommodations and rest houses. Expenditure under infrastructure sector constituted 55 per cent of the total expenditure while social, education, security, health and agriculture sectors were utterly neglected.

The CAG report further castigated the RD department for its failure to prepare comprehensive district plans and village wise baseline surveys, as required under the BADP Guidelines. Neither the local authorities were consulted nor the villages situated near to the international borders of Myanmar and Bangladesh were identified for preparation of Annual Action Plan for 2009-2010. “As a result, the BADP failed to meet the needs of the people living in remote and inaccessible areas near the borders”, the CAG report said.

Corruption in the BADP in Mizoram, which shares international borders of 404 kms with Myanmar and 318 kms with Bangladesh, is an open secret. Earlier in December 2009, Mizoram Chakma Development Forum (MCDF), which works among the border people, cautioned about the corrupt practices taking place.

“The prima facie evidence of leakage of funds is the absolute lack of development in the areas closest to the international border. Because the state government has been submitting utilization reports claiming full utilization of the BADP funds, the primary question is: Where are the money flowing since there is little improvement in the living condition of the border people?’” asked MCDF.

The Forum further pointed out that Mizoram Chief Secretary Vanhela Pachuau on May 26, 2009 had admitted corruption in BADP and warned strong action against anyone found misusing the BADP funds. Mizoram Chief Secretary Vanhela Pachuau must therefore act upon the CAG findings and prosecute the wrong doers.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Leaders visit Thanzamasora village, promise road, health centre

By Paritosh Chakma

FOLLOWING THE death of six Chakma tribals due to mysterious diseases at Thanzamasora village in Lunglei district in south Mizoram, three top political leaders, Minister of State Nihar Kanti Chakma, Parliamentary Secretary, S Laldingliana and Chief Executive Member of Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC), Kali Kumar Tongchangya, visited the village on March 26, 2011.

As Thanzamasora village is inaccessible by roads, these leaders along with a team of doctors had to track down the hills from Lalnuntui, with the nearest village having road connectivity 8 km from Thanzamasora village.

Six tribals who have died during the past fortnight have been identified as Mrs Doyal Lota Chakma (40), w/o of Denga Chakma; Malay Chand Chakma (20), s/o Oguro Send Chakma; Punyo Lota Chakma (45), w/o Amar Chakma; Prapha Ranjan Chakma (27), S/o Shanti Lal Chakma; Sumiron Chakma (27), s/o Shanti Lal Chakma, and Mrs Chittiso Chakma (22), w/o Pulin Chakma. 

All of them reportedly suffered vomiting, high fever and headache before their deaths and their bodies turned blue-black after the death which caused panic among superstitious villagers. The villagers believed that the deaths occurred after they were cursed with black magic by a witch from another village. 

However, doctors sent from the Lunglei Civil Hospital suspected the cause of deaths to be cerebral malaria and distributed malaria drugs free of cost.

Earlier, Kali Kumar Tongchangya, CEM, CADC, met all the patients from Thanzamasora undergoing treatment at Kamala Nagar hospital. As per Dr. Arun Singh of Kamala Nagar hospital, two were confirmed case of malaria, one of chicken pox, one of diarrhea and the fifth was diagnosed Septicemia.

The leaders also provided some immediate relief assistance. Minister of State N K Chakma provided Rs. 2,000 to families of each of the deceased and five quintals of rice and assured that Thanzamasora village would be linked with PMGSY funds. Kali Kumar Tongchangya, CEM of CADC provided Rs.20,000 to the villagers being the cost of quota of ration for two weeks. Parliamentary Secretary, S Laldingliana also announced that a Health Sub Centre would be established soon at Thanzamasora village.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chakma tribals fleeing village due to mystery disease

By Paritosh Chakma

TRIBAL VILLAGERS of Thanzamasora, a small Chakma-inhabited hamlet in Lunglei district of Mizoram are fleeing their homes after a 'mysterious' disease struck their village since early this month. This shows complete absence of health care facilities in this village.

So far, at least 5 tribals have died, many are sick, and 13 families have fled the village, as per the Mizoram Chakma Development Forum (MCDF), which submitted a petition today seeking urgent intervention of the Mizoram Chief Secretary, the Deputy Commissioner of Lunglei, and Lawngtlai Chief Medical Officer to “immediately provide medical facilities to prevent epidemic-like health crisis prevailing at Thanzamasora village”.

MCDF in a press release stated that “So far, five Chakma tribal villagers have died, and many others are sick but there is total lack of healthcare services. A medical team, which visited the village stated that the deaths were due to acute respiratory infections (ARI), including pneumonia.

The medical team distributed some medicines but this is not enough. Worst, the superstitious villagers believe that deaths are due to black magic cast upon them.

At least 13 families have already fled the village and more families are likely to flee if the situation is not brought under control immediately”.

“Although the situation is taking a serious proportion, there is delayed response from the authorities. There seems to be some problem as Thanzamasora village is under the administrative control of Lunglei district but falls under Chief Medical Officer, Lawngtlai of Lawngtlai district in the delivery of health services.

But villagers can’t be put at the mercy of fate” - further stated Mr Hemanta Lama, MCDF president.

In its petition, which has been forwarded to Chief Secretary of Mizoram, MCDF has requested the authorities to immediately send a team of medical experts with all the necessary equipments and medical facilities, establish a makeshift health camp at the village to treat the patients.

It has also been requested to shift critical patients to hospitals in Lunglei or Aizawl for better treatment, undertake awareness campaign with the help of local NGOs, take measures to bring back families, which have fled the village, and establish a Health Sub Centre with adequate number of staff and medical facilities at Thanzamasora village as a long-term solution.

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