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IPS Officer’s Brilliant Initiatives Changed the Face of Women Safety in Maha District!

Drug abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence—these are three crimes that most people are too scared to report, and the ones that have the most far-reaching effects. Imagine being scared all the time or walking on the street, terrified for your life, with your mobile phone clutched tightly and keys between your fingers. Now, imagine living in fright for almost the entirety of your day!IPS officer Atul V Kulkarni, Assistant Superintendent (ASP) in Bhayandar Thane, realised that there was an urgent need to bridge the gap between the public and the police. The police could not be stationed on every street, or every house all the time to track such illegal and dangerous activities.However, it is a known fact that the public also has reservations about approaching the police. At times it is fear that their complaints will not be heard, or that they will be ill-treated.On the other hand, for the police, the need to reach the people who live suppressed lives at home and have no safe way of even reaching their nearest police station is of utmost importance.The IPS officer wondered if the citizens could not come to the police, why couldn’t the police go to them instead? He thus established two divisions for the convenience of the public—a Drug Cell and a women’s cell called the Bharosa (Trust) Cell.Speaking to The Better India, ASP Kulkarni said, “We established a triple action plan to tackle the drug abuse problem in the city. The first step was to create awareness through school rallies, exhibitions, street plays, flash mobs, society meetings etc. We also started a helpline number that people can call, and our team will reach the location within 10-15 minutes!”Thanks to these efforts, within six months, the Thane police has reached out to about 20,500 people!The next step was to take action and arrest drug peddlers as soon as the police got intel about such activity.But the IPS officer realised that it wasn’t enough, and they had to step out of their set duties and see the problem to the end.“We have also started counselling sessions. This is a completely community-based initiative. Here we have involved doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, NGO and the media. We have seen a good success rate since 20 people from our rehabilitation centre have started their own businesses. We also help them get employment, so they have a less chance of going back to doing drugs,” he told TBI.The APS is confident that they stay involved in the process until drug addicts come out of it completely.“Taking inspiration from the same angle, we have also established Bharosa (Trust) cells for women,” the IPS officer told TBI adding that “Whatever complaints women have about family issues, harassment related to a girl child, sexual assault are addressed here.”One of the most important initiatives by the Thane police was to go to the women rather than waiting for women to approach them.In several instances, even though women know in their hearts that they are a victim to abuse, they believe that this is how things are supposed to be and that there’s no option but to keep mum.“There are quarrels in housing societies, with neighbours, when children are playing together. And at times, things escalate to an unfortunate level. We address all such issues related to women under the Bharosa cell. Now, some women approach us directly at the station. But for those who are unable to do so, we have established the Nirbhaya Pathaks—vans that patrol streets and housing societies. Women officers in civil clothes drive around in these vans and keep an eye out for sexual predators, instances of ragging etc.”But what truly stands out as here is the IPS officer’s idea which helps protect young girls.“We have installed complaint boxes in schools in Thane. Girls can give anonymous complaints there. Every Monday, a police officer takes out the complaint chits, in front of the principal, and then we address them one by one,” says APS Kulkarni. This way, girls who have been facing abuse either in schools or their homes can safely issue complaints to the police. The police, through the principal and teachers, who know the children personally can approach the children and solve their issues.Through the Bharosa cells, they have also made provisions for friends to file complaints on behalf of the victims. Apart from this, Whatsapp complaint provisions and a new helpline number (which is set to be out on 15 August) are other initiatives taken by the Thane police to tackle women’s issues in the city.Initiatives like these serve as a reminder that the police are there to help us. Maybe it is fear or prejudice that stops you from approaching the police, but IPS officers like Atul Kulkarni and his team have been a constant reminder that their motto “To protect good and punish evil” will always be upheld.Source: https://www.thebetterindia.com/155764/ips-officer-atul-kulkarni-women-safety-thane/
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Had it not been for its IAS officers, Kerala’s flood damage would have been worse

The one thing that stood out during the devastating Kerala floods was the effective response of the civil administration, especially when compared with poorer and flood-prone states like UP and Bihar.The grit and commitment of young IAS officers leading their teams into relief and restoration operations against the havoc of the floods were striking.The district collectors in the state, especially central Kerala which faced the brunt of the floods, have led from the front and have been proactive and accessible to the citizens. All the 14 districts have active official Facebook pages, set up even before the floods. T.V. Anupama, the district collector of Thrissur, for example, has been regularly posting updates on the official Facebook page to address the issues of the citizens especially in the affected parts such as Mala, Chalakudy, Kodungallur, and Annamanada.The state government along with Kerala State IT Mission launched a rescue website in the second week of August.Food safety commissioner M.G. Rajamanikyam and sub-collector N.S.K. Umesh were seen unloading many rice bags at the Wayanad collectorate office for distribution in relief camps. Others like Raja Gopal Sunkara, a young sub-collector of the Padmanabhapuram district waded through deep waters to guide rescue operations.Hari Kishore, a former district collector of Pathanamthitta, was sent as a special officer by the state government to assist the relatively new district collector P.B. Nooh. This was an example of innovative quick thinking by the state bureaucracy. The two officers worked together and were in the control room from 5:00 pm to 04:00 am and took quick real-time rescue decisions.The prompt response of the civil administration in Kerala has been due to the District Disaster Management Plan (DDMP) set up by each district in 2015, approved and overseen by the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority. Each district plan made a hazard and vulnerability assessment, capacity analysis, institutional arrangements, crisis management framework, response matrix, and responsibility matrix. This also includes prevention and mitigation measures.This gave rise to structurally and functionally administrative units at the district and taluk levels. The response plans included procurement of essential resources, the establishment of communication links and dissemination of information to the public. The DDMP is in accordance with National Disaster Management Act, 2005, Kerala State Disaster Managment Rules, 2007 and Kerala State Disaster Management Policy, 2010.Kerala did not let the guidelines of National Disaster Management Authority remain just on paper. It is imperative that flood-prone states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam take similar action. Tamil Nadu was forced to give importance to disaster management only after Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur districts were flooded in 2015.On the other hand, the website of the UP State Disaster Management Authority shows DDMP for only 10 districts out of the 75 districts in the state. And if you click on the plans on the website, the pages don’t open. The state faced floods in 24 districts in August 2017. The civil administration in these districts was unable to cope with it and had to depend on the Army and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) even for normal relief operations. In Kerala, on the other hand, normal relief operations were handled by the civil administration; the army only handled the critical relief operations.The website of the Bihar Disaster Management Authority shows DDMP of only one district – Madhubani – out of all its 38 districts.In stark contrast to the northern states, Kerala has a high level of community engagement and civic participation — citizens are voluntarily collaborating with state administration to provide relief. Compassionate Keralam, a group of about 6,000 volunteers, is playing an important role in helping the state government with relief work. The volunteers operate through the Facebook page called Kerala Floods 2018.When the fishermen of Kerala came forward to help, the civil administration transported the fishermen to central Kerala for rescue operations.But, the civil administration in Kerala cannot absolve itself from the delay and negligence in the release of water from the 39 dams from July when the levels had reached 85 percent of the capacity. Heavy rainfall had been predicted. The damage from the floods could have been lessened by 30-40 percent if the water had been released from the dams sooner. The water was released from the dams only when the danger levels were reached. The administration should also be made accountable for not putting restrictions on rampant mining, quarrying, and use of land for non-forest purposes, which were responsible for landslides in north Kerala.The Kerala administration now needs to tackle the problem of providing potable water on an urgent basis. Chlorine tablets would need to be distributed in large quantity for sanitising water for domestic use. The state must set up a rehabilitation fund for providing loans on low interest for reconstruction. A large number of skilled carpenters, electricians and plumbers have to be made available to make people’s homes operational again.The hands-on synergy that was visible between the political executive, bureaucracy, and citizens during rescue and relief must now be deployed for reconstruction too.Source: https://theprint.in/opinion/had-it-not-been-for-its-ias-officers-keralas-flood-damage-would-have-been-worse/105374/
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Downtrodden For Years, Tea Garden Workers Find a Ray of Hope In This IAS Officer!

As per data published by Tea Board India, the number of tea plantations in North India (which includes West Bengal, Assam and all the North-Eastern states) jumped from 3,141 in 1994 to 36,836 in 1999. In the Dooars alone, this number jumped from 168 to 532 during this period, rendering the cost structures of these major plantations unviable.However, more than tea garden owners it is their workers who have suffered immensely. Reports of starvation deaths of workers emanating from the plantation’s inability to pay their wages and supply food grains on time are nothing short of devastating. Add petty corruption and an insensitive bureaucracy to the mix and what you have is a recipe for disaster.This issue also has political ramifications in the state.In recent years, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has made regular visits to the region, directing local officials to reportedly ensure that tea plantation workers have access to the welfare schemes and benefits introduced by the government.Tea Garden workers in Alipurduar district, West Bengal. (Source: Facebook/Vikrai Web)With 63 tea gardens falling under the jurisdiction of Nikhil Nirmal IAS, the District Magistrate of Alipurduar, the task before his administration is enormous. Of the 63 tea gardens, 5 have closed down while another 20 are struggling to maintain their finances.For the civil servant who grew up among tea plantations in his home district of Ernakulam, this was an issue he understood well. “During my formative years, I witnessed first-hand the suffering of tea garden workers and the circumstances surrounding them,” he said, speaking to The Better India.As a result, his administration on July 22 started “Apnar Bagane Proshason” (administration in your garden), an effective public awareness and grievance redressal initiative for poor workers in stressed/closed tea garden areas in the Dooars region. The first such camp was held at Madhu Tea Garden (closed since September 2014) on July 22, 2018.Since these workers have little to no alternative sources of livelihood, Nirmal says that the district administration is trying to find a way through which state development initiatives reach these vulnerable people without the usual bureaucratic red tape that comes along with it.Where do these workers come from?Speaking to TBI, Suman Mohanty, an IAS officer working on probation under Nirmal, said that most of these workers are tribal migrants from Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam who arrived generations ago and have settled in these parts.At the stall for MGNREGA work during a recent camp organised for tea garden workers. (Source: Alipurduar district administration)“These workers are economically backward with poor human development indicators, particularly when it comes education, nutrition and healthcare. Many of them aren’t even covered under the ambit social security schemes and depend on exploitative touts to acquire benefits from government-related programs,” he said.In order to break the stranglehold of touts/ intermediaries, the Alipurduar district administration under Nikhil Nirmal, who took over the reins in June 2018, took the following steps:1) Identify closed and stressed tea gardens and set up camps in and around them at least once a week.2) Bring officials from 16 line-departments under whom the benefits of government-related schemes and tasks including MGNREGA, Nirmal Bangla (sanitation), Kanyashree (girl child empowerment through education), Rupashree (prevention of child marriage through provision of state money when they reach 18 years of age), Sabuj Saathi (provision of saplings to ensure afforestation and income security), Anandadhara (bank-credit linkage), payment of unpaid wages, food ration card enrolment and provision of SC/ST certificates on the spot, among others, are disbursed.3) Officials from District Administration/Block/Gram panchayat converge on the spot.4) To attract workers, a free health camp is organised at the particular tea garden. Immunization of mother and child, standard health check-ups, blood group checking, treatment for sickle cell anaemia, vector-borne diseases—malaria, dengue, tuberculosis—and alcohol and tobacco de-addiction are just some of the services on offer.Moreover, disability check-up camps are conducted on the spot to identify disability parameters for registration to Manabik pension schemes (for disability). Announcements for these camps are also made in the Sadri (spoken across different tribal communities), Hindi and Bengali.5) The District Magistrate personally attends these camps and listens to their grievances. He informed TBI that he also took the trouble of learning Sadri to interact with these workers.6) These meetings are held on tea garden holidays or over the weekend. Ever week the district administration holds these redressal sessions at one particular tea garden or a nearby spot.It’s been a little over a month, but the administration’s efforts are seemingly bearing some fruit.“We are very thankful that the DM held this camp. we received important information about old-age and widow pension related issues and their documentation, while the disbursal of unpaid MGNREGA wages and demands for a community hall were fulfilled,” said Vasant Thapi, who attended a camp at a government school in Bandapani village, Madarihat Block.Another former tea garden worker (who did not wish to be named), meanwhile, spoke of how she was finally able to apply for a ration card and government schemes like Sabuj Saathi, Rupashree and Kanyashree with all the necessary documents at another camp last month.Since the start of this initiative, the district administration has conducted 12 such camps. These are early days, and the road ahead is very long, but drastic measures are already taking place.In certain instances, at these camps, officials were fired for indulging in corruption.“The official concerned was a casual and temporary staff member employed in a ration shop and was consistently engaged in corrupt and dishonest practices about which the district magistrate had received many complaints. After holding camp in Madarihat Nirmal Sir went to the shop, confronted the man, and upon finding that he had nothing to offer in his defence asked him to report for a hearing at Block Development Office, where after due process he was sacked,” says Suman.Nonetheless, the administration has barely skimmed the surface. Nirmal tells The Better India that his administration could take six months to cover all tea gardens under his jurisdiction.“Challenges also include following up with the block and gram panchayat officials to ensure people’s grievances that we could not resolve at the camps are addressed at the earliest. We would also like to extend these services at the gram panchayat level,” says Nirmal.One could even argue that the necessity to conduct health camps points to failures in the primary health system, an issue the district administration will need to rectify.These grievance redressal camps have brought the administration closer to the people.“This platform gives them real power to vent their grievances, point out our inadequacies and receive benefits. Earlier touts would fleece them through enrolment for government programs like Aadhaar due to information asymmetry. After the District Magistrate fired a ration card employee on the spot, there is some fear in the ranks. Also, workers do not have to forego one day’s work to go to district headquarter to alleviate their problems,” says Suman.It even keeps local block and gram panchayat officials on their toes with complaints of administrative malpractices often flowing into the district magistrate’s office.“One block development officer, meanwhile, remarked they did not previously understand the pain it took to travel on the bad roads leading up to these tea garden. After attending these camps, he is taking it seriously to ensure all roads are completed on a war footing,” says Nirmal.Considering the initial breakthroughs achieved through the Apnar Baganer Proshashon initiative, other nearby districts have emulated the same, although they are called by different names.At the end of the day, these camps have only brought the administration closer to the tea garden workers. Larger concerns of a dwindling tea industry and ensuring they find alternative sources of livelihood require a much bigger intervention. However, at least for now, the administration knows and understands their daily trials and tribulations.Source: https://www.thebetterindia.com/158645/ias-hero-tea-estate-worker-nikhil-nirmal-alipurduar/
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This doctor couple provides food and medical care to over 1000 people

Madhuri was in class 9 when she became friends with Bharadwaj. They traveled from their villages every day to Aligarh. She went to her school, while he went to college. In the bus, they discussed a topic unusual for two teenagers from two small villages in Uttar Pradesh. They talked about their shared dream – a meaningful life, dedicated to helping those in need. They planned to be partners in this venture.Eight years later, they were married and ready to work on their dream. They both became doctors and would bring the abandoned sick people from the streets into their homes. They went a step further, and announced to their shocked families that they would not have children. All this, for an idea hatched when you were children, the family said. Undeterred, they continued.Finally, seven years later, they established 'Maa Madhuri Brij Varis Sewa Sadan, Apna Ghar' on June 29, 2000, on Madhuri's 27th birthday in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Today, Apna Ghar helps over 4,000 people in their 17 homes around north India. These are helpless, sick people on the streets, who have nobody else. How it startedFor Bharadwaj, it started when he was 5 and anguished at the death of 85-year-old Chiranjee Baba in his village. Chiranjee Baba had never married and lived alone in the village. He grazed everyone's cattle, and in return was fed and clothed. When he fell and injured himseslf, no one came to help him. Eventually, in a month, his wounds festered and he died. “It's not that nobody wanted to help him. Everyone did. But they held back from taking responsibility, afraid it would fall on their plates. People will help, if someone takes responsibility and shows the others how they can help,” says Bharadwaj. Too young at the time, he remembers wanting to help, but being wary of Chiranji Baba's sickness. This unease slowly changed into a determination to help the sick and to be able to act and save lives. In Madhuri, he found an echo of his own mission. They both became doctors because they felt that this was how they could best serve the needy. Today, Apna Ghar takes in any one who needs medical help, be it a child, an adult or even animal. Those that are sick and seem to be without any succour on the streets are referred to Apna Ghar. “Everybody who comes here is Prabhuji (God), because they are here to teach us how to be good people,” says Madhuri. The reference to divinity has evolved because of the challenges that the couple managed to overcome. Every morning, the caretaker writes Thakurji ki Chitthi or a letter to God. In the letter are all the things needed immediately by the Ashram. It is also put on a board where any visitor can see it. “All the 17 homes put together, we have a daily expense of Rs 4 lakhs. But it all gets taken care of. We write the Thakurji ki chitthi, and some or the other kind visitor decides help us out and cover one more day. It is God's will,” says Bharadwaj. A rescued and rehabilitated familyBoth founders firmly believe it is God's work and that is the force easing their path. And the NGO has overcome insurmountable odds. Naresh Jain, the landlord of Apna Ghar Delhi asked for a rent of Rs 3 lakhs per month for his property. One visit to Bharatpur, changed his heart and he wrote of their rent for ever. He simply handed over the keys to Bharadwaj and walked away. Every day, beings are rescued from the streets, brought to the house and given medical attention. If someone requires more specialised help, that patient is taken to the right doctor and treated. Over time, they are rehabilitated, and if possible reunited with their families.“Our Prabhujis come from various backgrounds. Many of them are from well-to-do families, who have temporarily lost their mental balance. Many are also abandoned by their families. We take everyone in and do what we can do,” says Madhuri.A home that runs on inspirationThis couple's focus and dedication is what keeps Apna Ghar going. Even the government, that grants funds only to NGOs for men, women or children and not all three, made an exception and gave them funds to help with their good work.These two doctors have chosen a noble path to help the really vulnerable, and they need support funding these medical expenses. Your contribution will help Apna Ghar work another day.Source: https://milaap.org/fundraisers/apnagharbharatpur
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In Just 3 Hours Of Rain, Chennai Apartment Collects 1 Lakh Litres Of Water

The residents of a Chennai apartment complex have evinced the effectiveness of systematic rainwater harvesting by collecting around 1,00,000 litres of water in just three hours of rain.Fifty-six apartments in four blocks of Sabari Terrace Complex in Sholinganallur participated in the rainwater harvesting drive-by channelising the rain pipes from their terraces into an underground sump or reservoir with an enormous storage capacity of 1 lakh litres. Beyond the expectations of the residents, the sump filled up to the brim in just a span of three days – from October 29 to October 31 – when the city registered a total rainfall of around three hours. “Till now, we have been able to collect a total of 6 lakh litres in near about two weeks,” Harsha Koda, secretary of Sabari Terrace Residents’ Association, informs The Logical Indian. The prevalent problemThe city of Chennai has been predominantly dependent on groundwater, whose levels are facing depletion due to unplanned usage. Hence, it is now mandated for all builders to compulsorily include rainwater recharge pits, at least two in every apartment complex. “Reality is, in most of the apartments, the builders dump construction waste into these pits. So, they cannot be used for rainwater harvesting,” shares Harsha Koda.In the case of Sabari Terrace Apartments, around 300 residents of fifty-six quarters, mostly comprising the young IT professionals, were entirely dependent on water supplied by private tanks, both for drinking and household purposes. “In a day, the water usage summed up to 40,000 litres while the expenditure on water added up to Rs. 1 Lakh per month. The wastewater used to be carried to the nearest treatment plant and our gardens were sprayed with the recycled water,” shares Koda.About the projectKoda tells, “Since the last few years, Chennai has started receiving considerable rainfall in June-July as well, apart from the usual rains from Diwali to Pongal.” Thus, the plan for the massive RWH network has been on the cards for quite some time. But, it was not easy to persuade the residents to contribute for the RWH project, mainly because they were already spending a hefty amount on water. Harsha Koda and his wife Prabha Koda has been the main crusaders of rainwater harvesting since 2017 when they started constructing different RWH structures in phases, to convince the sceptical residents. Incidentally, the design for the network of pipes leading to the sump was conceptualised by Prabha Koda, with guidance from Dr Sekhar Raghvan of Rain Centre.Explaining the structure to The Logical Indian, Harsha Koda, shared that the entire mechanism operates in two phases. In the first phase, the rain pipes from terraces of the four blocks of apartments carry the rainwater into two tanks where sedimentation takes place, clearing the run-off water from dirt particles. These tanks deposit the water into the 1 lakh-litre underground sump which comprises the second phase. The water is then routed towards a treatment plant, where it is recycled and rendered safe for use, followed by pumping to individual flats.Repleting the declining groundwater levelsThe Sabari Terrace sump also ensures the rise in the groundwater levels in the area. Four rain pipes originate from four corners each terrace, out of which three are connected to the sump network while the fourth one drains the water into soak pits meant for recharging the groundwater table. In fact, sometimes excess water from the sump is also diverted towards the soak pits using valves.Accounting the expenditure for the project, Koda reveals that out of the total Rs 2.5 Lakh spent over a year, water worth Rs 50,000 have already been recovered. The residents admit that the project has sufficiently minimised their dependence on water purchased from tankers. Maintenance is a must“I should definitely acknowledge the amazing efforts by our housekeeping team who sweeps all the terraces clean every day, ensuring we get crystal clear rainwater in the reservoir.We clean our pipes and storage tanks every 60-90 days,” reveals Koda.The Logical Indian takeAt a time when water crisis is a pressing problem all over India, including rain-rich tropical areas, rainwater harvesting can be an effective countermeasure. However, the absence of proper know-how and planning leads to the ineffectiveness of many RWH projects. The example set by Sabari Terrace residents can be replicated by other citizen associations. The Logical Indian appreciates this initiative undertaken by Chennai citizens and wishes more people realises its importance.Source: https://thelogicalindian.com/environment/sabari-terrace-rainwater/
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This Indore IAS officer has a solution for India’s garbage problem

As several parts of the country continue to struggle with India’s humungous garbage problem, an IAS officer in Madhya Pradesh has managed to clear over 13 lakh tonnes of refuse in just six months in the city of Indore.A 2010-batch IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, Asheesh Singh, was appointed as the municipal commissioner of the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) in May 2018.He says that he turned to address the problem as even after four years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, the process of clearing a 100-acre dumpsite in Indore was moving at a snail’s pace.“In two years, only about 2 lakh tonnes of garbage was cleared,” Singh told ThePrint.Soon after he was appointed as the municipal commissioner, Singh identified the problem: The high cost of clearance.Under the previous model, the government had outsourced the task to private agencies, which were charging Rs 475 per cubic metre. The whole task would have cost over Rs 60-65 crore, and taken a painfully long time to conclude.Finally, when Singh managed to clear the dumpsite, no more than Rs 10 crore was spent on the entire process.“When we realised that the problem was of funding, we decided to rent machines for bio-mining instead of outsourcing the whole process,” Singh said. “The machines were rented to us at a cost of Rs 7 lakh per machine per month.”“We operated the machine for 14-15 hours daily using our own resources, and within six months, 13 lakhs of garbage was cleared,” he added.The processBio-mining refers to the process of segregating waste into biodegradable and non-biodegradable segments, and according to Singh, is “a proven technology” and has been used extensively in Indore.“The problem was only in the model of funding… Once that was sorted out, the process was wound up within six months,” he said.The worth of the land reclaimed by the government is about Rs 400 crore and will now be developed into a golf course.The Indore civic body, meanwhile, is using wet waste to produce methane gas — which is being used for public buses in the city — and compost, which is given to farmers for agricultural and horticultural use, Singh said. The dry waste is used for recycling.It is a model that is bound to be adopted across India, Singh said. “100 per cent, we will move from the per acre model to the rent model across India.”The municipal commissioner of Chandigarh is already in touch with Singh in this regard. “Chandigarh pays Rs 750 per cubic metre for clearance right now, which is very high,” Singh said. “So they are interested in the Indore model and we have shared our tender document with them.”According to him, the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing at the Centre too has shown interest in adopting this model throughout India.Source: https://theprint.in/india/governance/this-indore-ias-officer-has-a-solution-for-indias-garbage-problem/178668/amp/
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Kaziranga’s circle of life: How forest department, vets and villagers join hands to fight flood fury

With 95 per cent of the World Heritage Site submerged and thousands of animal struggling to say afloat, meet the bunch of people who dive in to save the day.Since the floods struck Assam on July 8, CWRC located at Borjuli Tiniali, around 7 kms from Bokakhat town, is the only place in Kaziranga where injured or orphaned animals are treated. (Source: IFAW/WTI)To evade the rising water level in Kaziranga National Park (KNP), a female adult rhino along with her four-year-old calf had embarked on the treacherous journey to the Karbi Hills. However, she missed a step and fell 500 feet below to her death.“The incident happened in an area called Hatikhuli. The rhino got stuck between two big rocks. When we reached, it was stressed out and panting heavily. Soon, it died. It was heartbreaking to see the calf just 500 meters away from the mother’s carcass,” says Dr Samshul Ali, Veterinarian at Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation jointly run by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), Assam Forest Department and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).Ali has had a busy day. After the Hatikhuli incident in the morning, he got a call from Haldibari, where a rhino calf drowned to death. Then in a third case at Salmara, his team rescued a rhino calf and brought it to CWRC in the evening for further treatment.A female adult rhino along with her four-year-old calf had embarked on the treacherous journey to the Karbi Hills. However, she missed a step and fell 500 feet below to her death. (Source: IFAW/WTI) Among the animals which have died, there are 38 hogThe veterinarian — who has worked with animals for seven years — has not gone home for the last four days.Preparing For the DelugeSince the floods struck Assam on July 8, CWRC located at Borjuli Tiniali, around 7 kms from Bokakhat town, is the only place in Kaziranga where injured or orphaned animals are treated. Since its inception in 2002, the centre has handled around 4,500 cases and has released 60 per cent of the animals back to the wild.Many in Kaziranga refer to the annual flood as the ‘necessary devil’ which bolsters the Park’s eco-system every year. At the same time, it also threatens the lives of the park’s prized biodiversity. In such a scenario, an intrepid bunch of people from the forest department, CWRC, fringe villages, NGOs and civil administration join hands to save these helpless animals.deers, five rhinos, one elephant, three sambars and four wild boars. (Source: IFAW/WTI)The forest department plans well in advance to counter the calamity. P Sivakumar, Director of KNP says, “We start preparing for flood right after Bihu. We hold meetings with the police, civil administration, NGOs, local villagers on counter-strategies. We carry out health check-ups of our frontline staff, ensure that drinking water facilities are in place in the camps.”With 85 per cent of the park submerged now, boats are the prime mode of transport for the department. Sivakumar informs that there are more than 200 country boats in the camps along with 11 speed boats or bhotbhotis. There are also 50-60 vehicles inside the park. However, it is the huge manpower of KNP which helps to execute every plan on the ground efficiently. Rohini Saikia, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), KNP says, “Nearly 1800 people are working day in and day out during flood to save our wildlife. Among them, 1400 are our own staff and rest are volunteers, eco-development committees, NGOs and villagers.”Vehicles speeding through NH-37 have contributed significantly to the number of casualty of animals this year. As per forest department reports, 12 animals including 11 hog deer and one sambar have been killed in road accident during flood so far.Saikia says, “We have the system of time card issued to drivers passing through the park. Many drivers caught driving above the speed limit of 40 km/h, have been fined Rs 50,000.”Survival of FittestThe official death toll in the park at the time of writing this report is 51. However, the park officials maintain that once water starts receding, many more carcasses might be found.Among the animals which have died, there are 38 hog deers, five rhinos, one elephant, three sambars and four wild boars. On casualty among hog deers being highest, Dr Panjit Basumatary of the CWRC says, “There are more than 30,000 hog deers in the park. With their population being so high, so will the death toll. Also, they are nervous animals which make them more prone to danger.”But which are the ones that survive and why?“Survival of the fittest,” explains Sivakumar referring to Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, “The unhealthy animals get eliminated first. Fit animals generally survive unless it is very high flood.”The Mantra of RescueAbout 33 new highlands constructed by the forest department along with the earlier 111 ones have played a major role in reducing the number of casualties. “However, not every animal use highlands. They are mainly used by rhinos and hog deers. Elephants and tigers mostly avoid it. In fact, a tiger has been spotted taking shelter on the rooftop of a house in Moabari”, says Dr Bhaskar Choudhury, a veterinarian working for WTI.Many in Kaziranga refer to the annual flood as the ‘necessary devil’ which bolsters the Park’s eco-system every year. At the same time, it also threatens the lives of the park’s prized biodiversity. (Source: IFAW/WTI)The inundated house was vacated by its inhabitants a week ago.Sivakumar insists that the conservation effort this year has yielded much better result because of the involvement and awareness of people living in the fringe villages of Kaziranga. “Many locals are doing a commendable job in conservation of wildlife,” he says.One of them is Manoj Gogoi, from Bochagaon village in Kohora, is a well-known wildlife rescuer and has rescued 25 animals including hog deer, snakes and birds like Yellow Footed Green Pigeon, Asian Barn Owl and Asian Quail during this flood. Gogoi says the mantra of rescue is one should learn when actually an animal needs rescue. “Most of the times, wild animals don’t need to be rescued. Unless they are stuck somewhere or are injured, they shouldn’t be rescued. We need to make space for them and they will find a way out.”Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/assam/kazirangas-circle-of-life-how-forest-dept-vets-and-villagers-join-hands-to-fight-flood-fury-5835129/
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Beyond Duty: IAS Officer Admits Prison Inmate’s Daughter in International School

Sanjay Kumar Alang, the District Collector of Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, was doing the annual inspection of the city’s Central Jail. While he was checking and discussing the personal details of the inmates, their concerns, and how well the police officers are maintaining the jail, he came across a scene that took him by surprise. A young girl sat among a group of women inmates. The playful girl warmed the IAS officer’s heart resulting in him admitting her in an International School!It was beyond Alang’s call of duty but within his voice of conscience to inquire about the girl. When Alang ensured that the little girl got quality education, he did not know that this kind act would trigger socially responsible people and organisations helping several other children in the jail.Some things in life can only be called destiny. In the case of Khushi (name changed), where fate landed the innocent child in jail, the same fate led her to the benches of an esteemed International School in Bilaspur.“There was something adorable about her that begged me to inquire how she had landed in jail. As it turns out, her mother had passed away due to jaundice when Khushi was just 15 days old. Her father, convicted of a serious crime, has been in the jail for five years now and Khushi had to shift there with him because the kid had no one else to take her responsibility,” Alang told The Better India.According to norms, children of female convicts are allowed to live with their mothers in jail. In cases like Khushi, where the child is motherless with no one else to take care of them, the child lives in prison with their father until they are six years of age.Tigga, the jailer at Bilaspur Central Jail shares some insight about this rule. “Kids of inmates are kept in jail until they are six years of age. In the case of this Central Jail, 2-3 kids were born in prison. Here, the women inmates take care of the children until they are of age. After they turn six, they are either handed over to their relatives or given to the government-run creche. Usually, the children are also enrolled in government schools to ensure they are not deprived of the opportunities,” he said.While inquiring about Khushi’s family, Alang asked the little girl what she wanted to do in life. “Khushi told me that she wanted to study in a good school, so once the inspection was over, I started asking around about her admission prospects.The Jain International school came forward to fund her education and accommodation up to class 12, and I am delighted to tell you that the admission process has been completed. The kids living in the jail premises neither study nor have a set schedule for activities. All for no fault of their own,” Alang tells us.Soon after, Khushi visited the school, awestruck at the classrooms where she will now be studying, the campus where she will now be playing. Tigga tells us that currently, 17 children are living with their mothers in the Bilaspur jail. Taking a cue from Alang’s initiative, many NGOs have come forward to help the other kids secure admissions in various schools that promise quality education and facilities.We hope such good turn gets translated into several similar initiatives. Keeping the kids in jail with their convicted mothers is a highly debated topic in India. We may not arrive at a consensus soon, but the children should not miss out on opportunities for no fault of theirs. Alang has set the wheels in motion, and we wait to see if others will follow the lead.Source: https://www.thebetterindia.com/187799/ias-hero-chhattisgarh-daughter-bilaspur-jail-school-inspiring-india/
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Collector Ritu Sain turned a stinking Chattisgarh into the cleanest small city

Ritu Sain, a 2003-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, can’t forget the first sight that greeted her when she entered Ambikapur city, in Surguja district of Chhattisgarh, in February 2014.“There was a big signpost welcoming people to the municipal corporation of Ambikapur, and bang opposite that was a huge open dumping yard. The stink was unbearable. I thought to myself, what kind of impression the city would create if this was the first thing a person saw after entering,” she said.Sain had just taken charge as Ambikapur collector. Even before she reached her official residence, she knew what her first priority was going to be. “There was no looking back since that day. I was clear about what I wanted to do,” Sain, now Chhattisgarh’s additional resident commissioner in Delhi, said. “It was a challenge. The city with a population of 1,45,000 had meagre funds and hardly any capacity to take up the cleaning task. I knew whatever I did would have to be participatory, viable and replicable,” Sain, who studied international relations from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said.Long brainstorming sessions with all stakeholders followed and, within two months, Sain was ready with the road map. Initially, the solid and liquid resource management model was started on a pilot basis in one ward. Women from self-help groups (SHG) were engaged. A three-member team comprising SHG workers was formed. Each team was assigned 100 households, where they would have to go door to door collecting waste after segregating it at source.A garbage clinic was opened in the ward, where the women again segregated the collected material into 24 categories of organic and inorganic waste. A third and final round of micro segregation was done, after which the refined and cleaned waste was sold to scrap dealers. By May 2016, all 48 wards in the city were covered. The municipality also fixed a user charge for door-to-door collections. Currently, 447 women work from 7am to 5 pm daily at the 48 garbage segregation centres. All of them are provided safety gear such as jackets, aprons, gloves and masks. They also undergo regular health screening.The result is there for all to see. The 16-acre open dumping yard has been converted into a sanitation awareness park. The 200 overflowing community dustbins have been replaced by just five. “It’s a self-sustaining model. Each woman gets to earn Rs 5,000 per month from user fee and sale of recyclables. We have spent Rs 6 crore to put the entire infrastructure in place and have already earned Rs 2 crore. The money earned is being spent on the sanitation workers,” Sain said.Ambikapur was declared the cleanest small city in the 2018 cleanliness survey by the Union housing and urban affairs ministry. “It’s very fulfilling to see that something we started has come so far and is sustaining itself,” Sain said.The story has been extracted from: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/the-collector-who-recycled-a-stinking-chhattisgarh-town-up-swachh-rankings/story-bNegEPISYLQ9AtCaAMgacL.html
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