When I joined as the block development and panchayat officer in Haryana in 1989, my first assignment was to visit villages in Kaithal. During my trip, I wanted to use the washroom and asked for one at the sarpanch’s house. His wife replied that they go out in the fields. The shock coerced me to get involved in the sanitation campaign. As the district magistrate of Kurukshetra in 2008, I campaigned for behavioural change among people and told them why they need to stop defecating in the open. We incentivised constructing and using toilets and finally were successful in making 300 villages in the district open defecation free (ODF). Also Read – Hijacking Bapu’s legacyWhen I returned to Kurukshetra in 2013 after one round of posting, except for 67 ODF villages, all had slipped. People had stopped using the toilets. We realised that this is not a one-time exercise. Changing a habit requires time, effort and constant motivation. People need to know that the authorities, be it the sarpanch or the district administration, are with them, backing them and watching them. The programme has to be demand-driven. Till people do not ask for toilets, better sanitation and hygiene, it cannot be a success. People have to become responsible by forming self-help groups or small teams, which continuously motivate people to use toilets. This is the only way to sustain our open defecation free status. Also Read – The future is here!Rural areas are performing well in this, but there are problems in urban areas. In some places, 20 people live in a small house and use one community toilet. Mobile or community toilets for a large population are a failure. A toilet can be maintained well when few people use it. If not for every household, toilets must be built for every two to three houses. Keys should be provided to people so that the toilets are not treated as community toilets. In rural areas, the environment is just right to boycott anyone who defecates in the open. ODF can become sustainable if everybody becomes sensitive to the problem. The fight is much bigger than ODF. We have moved to ODF Plus. Our task is cut out. The fight is long. To sustain the achievement, we need constant efforts, not interference. (The author is the district collector of Panipat. The views expressed are strictly personal)
Kolkata: A fire broke out at a shopping mall in Salt Lake area in the northern fringes of the city Thursday afternoon. The mall was evacuated and there was no report of any casualty, a fire department official said. At least nine fire tenders have been rushed to the shopping centre beside Baisahkhi housing estate in Sector II of Salt Lake. “The source of fire is the basement of the mall. We are trying to reach the source. We have evacuated the entire shopping mall,” the official said. Disaster management teams also reached the spot.
Sulthan Bathery (Ker): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday visited five youths sitting on a relay hunger strike for 10 days against the restriction on movement of vehicles on a national highway that passes through a tiger reserve in neighbouring Karnataka. Expressing solidarity with the youths, Gandhi spoke to them and said he hoped the issue would be resolved soon. He promised to make available legal help to the youths. Gandhi, who reached the site of the protest at Freedom park here, said the youngsters represent the cause of Wayanad, his Lok Sabha constituency, and thanked them for their “sacrifice”. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange framework “They represent the suffering of the people here. All political parties are united as far as the night travel ban issue is concerned. There is no political difference on this,” he said. The movement of vehicles on a stretch of the national highway in Kerala is banned from 9 pm to 6 am to reduce disturbance to wildlife in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Gandhi recently met Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in New Delhi and discussed the hardships faced by people of Wayanad due to the ban of traffic. Also Read – Afghan Taliban frees 3 Indian hostages in exchange for 11 top militant leaders: Reports Demanding that the ban be lifted, the youths are sitting on a hunger strike. Gandhi said no travel ban is imposed in similar cases in other parts of the country. The Congress leader promised to the people of Wayanad that “best legal resources” would be made available in this matter. “I have spoken to our legal experts to deal with this issue. We will have the best legal resource of this country for the cause of Wayanad. I wanted you to know that I stand with you and we are going to go intelligently and sensitively work on this matter,” he said. He pointed out that he had raised the issue in Parliament. On Tuesday, the Centre assured Kerala CM Vijayan that a committee would be formed to study the ban. Thousands of farmers and students have taken out long marches against the ban. The Kerala government has suggested construction of an elevated stretch through the core area of the tiger reserve. However, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in a letter to Vijayan last month stated that the state’s recommendation had been discussed and it was suggested that a ‘status quo’ be maintained.
New Delhi: Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) has awarded over Rs 96 lakh to wife and five children of a 46-year old Assistant Sub Inspector in Delhi Police who was killed in a road accident last year. MACT Presiding Officer S S Malhotra awarded the compensation of Rs 96.16 lakh to family of Mamchand Tomar, who was deputed as an ASI in Delhi Police at the time of accident. On April 6, 2018, travelling from Delhi to Ghaziabad in his car, Tomar suffered serious injuries after being hit by a dumper at a high speed. Also Read – More good air days in Delhi due to Centre’s steps: Javadekar He died the next day while undergoing treatment. An eye-witness to the accident told the court that the dumper was being driven at high speed and in a rash and negligent manner when it hit Tomar’s car with great force which led to him sustaining grievous injuries. The court held that there was no evidence to show that Tomar was at fault in any manner. “This issue is therefore decided in favour of the petitioners (Tomar’s family) and against respondents by holding that the victim died in a vehicular accident due to rash and negligent driving of the dumper,” the court said.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Saturday commissioned the indigenously-built second scorpene-class submarine INS Khanderi into the Indian Navy. The INS Khanderi is the second Kalvari-class diesel-electric submarine after INS Kalvari.Speaking at the commissioning ceremony of the submarine in Mumbai today, the defence minister said, “The name Khanderi is inspired by the dreaded ‘Sword-tooth fish’, a deadly fish known to hunt while swimming close to the bottom of the ocean.” The diesel-electric attack submarine is being built at Mazgaon Dock in Mumbai. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange frameworkTaking a dig at Pakistan, Singh was quoted by ANI as saying, “They should understand today that with the strong resolve of our government and advancement in naval capacity with additions like INS Khanderi, we are capable of giving it a much bigger blow. Some powers are conspiring to attack the coastal areas of India like 26/11 Mumbai attack through the sea. Their intentions will not succeed.””Khanderi is built at state-run Mazgaon Dock Limited and underwent rigorous sea trials for over two and a half years. All the concerns of the Navy have been addressed,” said an official of the Western Naval Command Friday. Also Read – Afghan Taliban frees 3 Indian hostages in exchange for 11 top militant leaders: ReportsThe maximum speed of the INS Khanderi submarine is 20 nautical miles. Its state-of-the-art technology helps reduce noise under the sea.The maximum crew requirement fo the submarine is 36, unlike the previous requirement of 60. It saves oxygen availability and increases its capacity to stay underwater for long periods.The third submarine, INS Karanj was launched in January 2018 and is undergoing sea trials currently.(Inputs from The Indian Express)
Patna: The water of level of Punpun and Ganga rivers in Bihar continued to recede on Sunday, even as the death toll rose to 97 from 73 in 15 flood-affected districts of the state, officials said. Other rivers including the Burhi Gandak, Kamala Balan, Baghmati, Mahananda are also showing a declining trend in water level, they said. Punpun river’s water level is receding at the rate of 3 cm per hour at Sripalpur, Patna District Magistrate Kumar Ravi said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss account details under automatic exchange framework It has seen a fall of 90 cm since Saturday, he added. Meanwhile, the death toll increased to 97 from 73 in the past 24 hours, as people lost their lives in the affected districts due to incidents of drowning, electrocution, house collapse and falling of trees, a disaster management department release said. The number of dengue cases, too, have seen a sharp rise post the heavy downpour in the state capital, a release issued by the health department said. Also Read – Afghan Taliban frees 3 Indian hostages in exchange for 11 top militant leaders: Reports A total of 409 cases of the vector-borne disease were reported in Patna between January to September 27, it said, adding the number jumped to 640 till October 5. In order to check the spread of dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases, sprinkling of larvicide temephos and fogging of insecticide malathion are underway in the worst- affected districts, the release said. Though water has been drained out from most parts of Pataliputra and Kankerbagh areas, the process is still underway with the help of high-power pumps in places like Rajendra Nagar, the officials said. The state government will organise special health camps on October 10, 11 and 12 at Patna Medical College & Hospital and Nalanda Medical College & Hospital for carrying out free tests for dengue, they said.
New Delhi: Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will visit Mongolia between October 8 and 9 as a follow-up of the state visit by the President of Mongolia to India last month, an official statement said on Sunday. “On 8 October, 2019, the minister will participate in the opening ceremony of infrastructure that Mongolia has already constructed for the Indian-funded Mongol refinery project,” it said. During the visit, he will have meetings with the Mongolian Minister for Mining and Heavy Industry to “develop a road map for commencing the construction of the refinery. Possible areas of collaboration in other sectors like mining, coking coal, and railways will also be discussed,” it said. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: IcraPradhan will call on the Prime Minister and President of Mongolia. The Mongol refinery project is being developed under a line of credit of USD 1.23 billion extended by India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Mongolia in 2015 and, subsequently, increased during the visit of the President of Mongolia to India last month. Engineers India Ltd, under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, is the project management consultant for the development of the oil refinery.
Srinagar: People thronged the weekly flea market in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital on Sunday even as some shops in the city opened in the morning hours, officials said.However, main markets across Kashmir were shut and most of the public transport was off the roads as normal life remained affected in the valley for the 63rd consecutive day, they said. The weekly flea market, locally known as Sunday market, was open as several dozen vendors had put up stalls on the TRC Chowk-Lal Chowk road, the officials said. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadThey said the market witnessed huge rush of customers as people thronged it to buy clothes and other items in view of the approaching winter. The officials said other markets and other business establishments in Kashmir remained shut, even as some shops in the city here were open till 11 am, but downed their shutters afterwards. They said auto-rickshaws and few inter-district cabs were seen plying here, but other modes of public transport were off the roads. Also Read – Firms staying closed 10 days a month due to recession, govt doing nothing: Priyanka GandhiThe movement of private cars was lesser on Sunday as compared to Saturday, they added. Mobile services remained suspended in Kashmir except in Handwara and Kupwara areas in the north, while Internet services — across all platforms continued to be snapped in the valley since the night of August 4, the officials said. They said there were no restrictions anywhere in the valley, but security forces were deployed in strength in vulnerable areas to maintain law and order. Most of the top level and second rung separatist politicians have been taken into preventive custody while mainstream leaders, including two former chief ministers — Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest. Another former CM and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah has been arrested under the controversial Public Safety Act.