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Bornali Borah, a housewife in remote Holow Phukan village in Assam, no longer wakes up her mother-in-lawduring the wee hours of the morning when she wants to go out to defecate. Borah and other women of the village are now happy as each house has a toilet and it is being used. Borah’s village has been declared ‘open defecation-free’ (ODF) as other villages in Lakwa block of the state’s Sivasagar district.
“I am happy that we live like human beings now and do not go to the fields to defecate like the animals. Before the toilets were constructed, all of us had go out in the fields to relieve ourselves. The entire thing was disappointing but we did not have any solution,” Bornali, in her early 30s, told IANS.
The toilet constructed at Bornali’s home is among 5,319 toilets in Lakwa block, funded by the state government and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects of companies like ONGC and BCPL (Brahmaputra Crackers and Polymers Ltd). The entire initiative was supported by UNICEF.
A baseline study done by the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) in Lakwa in 2015 had revealed that toilet coverage was 35 percent and about 51 percent toilets were found to be unusable.
Related Article: Vinod Kapri to build toilets with his National Award money
Sixtyeight-year-old Bohagi, another woman beneficiary in Lakwa block, told IANS: “People used to say that they feel suffocated to defecate in a proper enclosed toilet, but I do not agree with them. After all, the government has constructed the toilets not just to ensure proper sanitation but also proper security for people who had to sometimes go in the field in the dark,” she said.
She said it took a lot of efforts of the state government and the volunteers to change the mindset of people.
A government official said they began by sensitising district- and block-level officials.
“The next phase involved sensitisation of community, key front line village workers and school children. The initiative was led by the district deputy commissioner and succeeded in making Lakwa ‘open defecation-free’ by December 2015,” he said.
Referring to earlier efforts to construct toilets, he said temporary toilets made of bamboo and straw without proper sanitary pits had their problems, as the structure was damaged during rains, and there was the risk of skin infections and other diseases.
The official said that people stuck to open defecation and there was some resistance to initial efforts at toilet construction.
“But now using toilet is a habit here. There has been no recurrence of open defecation,” the official said.
Lakwa block is mostly inhabited by the tea tribe community, who were brought as indentured labourers to work in the tea gardens of Assam. They comprise 17 percent of the state’s population and fare poorly on human development indices, including education.
“The entire initiative required emotional motivation. As most of the problems here do not get highlighted, they prevailed here for a long time. There were toilets which were defunct,” Virendra Mittal, District Collector of Sivasagar, told IANS.
Understanding the importance of the government’s initiative, the villagers of Lakwa block have also started convincing people in other blocks of the district about the benefits of toilets at home.
(Rupesh Dutta can be contacted at email@example.com. He was recently on a trip by the UNICEF to cover the Open Defecation Free (ODF) Lakhwa block of Sivasagar district in Assam, a first in the North East)
According to sources, road leading to Badrinath has been repaired and helicopter service has also resumed.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Dungi village and met families of people who were missing after the landslip incident, and consoled them.
Dhami assured them of all possible assistance. Two people from the village are still reported to be missing.
Pilgrims were seen leaving from Rishikesh Char Dham Bus terminal and Haridwar bus station for the pilgrimage since morning.
As per the state government, various departments -- Devasthanam Board, police are assisting the pilgrims.
Police Chowki Yatra Bus Terminal, Rishikesh, was announcing passenger-information via loudspeaker.
Free RT-PCR tests of pilgrims were being conducted at Rishikesh bus terminal.
Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board's media in-charge Dr Harish Gaur said pilgrimage was on in Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath, helicopter service was also available.
Though the weather was cold in all dhams, thankfully there was no rain, he added.
Portals of the temple in Badrinath will close on November 20, Gangotri on November 5, while that of Kedarnath and Yamunotri on November 6.
Uttarakhand floods, triggered by a major downpour from October 17 to 19, have claimed 65 lives so far, 3,500 people have been rescued while 16,000 evacuated to safety.
Seventeen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), seven teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 15 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 5,000 police personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.
The state has already been provided with Rs 250 crore Disaster Fund which is being used for relief works.
To prevent spread of the diseases, the Central and state governments have decided to send medical teams to the affected areas.
Snapped power lines will be restored at the earliest, the government assured.
The state government said that as soon as alert for heavy rainfall was issued, the Incident Response System was activated at state and district levels, and pilgrims were halted at safer places. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Uttarakhand, India, Char Dham Yatra, PushkarDhami, Rishikesh.
The sources aware of these developments said that the Centre was hopeful that a successful solution of the six decades-long peace talks would arrive at a logical conclusion, but in the recent statements, Naga leaders have accused the Centre of offering post-solution options.
Sources quoting the stand of Naga leaders said that NSCN's stand was loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that was linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and Constitution, which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity.
The Naga leaders have also said that the Centre has been using divisive policy and flattery in the name of finding the Naga political solution when the matters heated up.
When the Centre resumed the peace process in September this year and sent the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) A.K. Mishra as the Ministry of Home Affairs' emissary to the rebel outfit's chief negotiator and general secretary T. Muivah, he assured him (Muivah) that the peace talks would be initiated under the original framework signed in 2015, a source in the Naga rebel group said.
"Here we are talking about the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (Constitution), the two issues that are holding up the Naga solution under the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in Delhi.
"The chequered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit", an important office-bearer of the rebel outfit said while criticizing the governments' stand.
Accusing the Centre, he further accused the Centre of persuading the Naga people again to accept whatever is being offered to hurry up the Naga talks.
On the invitation of the Centre, the senior leaders of the NSCN-IM including T. Muivah arrived in the national capital on October 6 this year to hold another round of talks with the Centre.
Both, the Centre and the Naga leaders had indicated their keenness on resolving this long pending issue by the end of this year in an amicable manner.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, who is also chairman of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had been actively involved in the resumption of the peace talks and taking it forward to a logical conclusion.
Soon after the transfer of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks on August 29, 2014, to Tamil Nadu, the peace talks resumed on September 20 in Kohima when the Centre representative met the Naga leaders and invited them to visit Delhi for further rounds of peace talks.
The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 and over 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre have been held in the past in successive governments. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Nagaland, India, Constitution, Politics, Flag.
"The fifth match of the LV= Insurance Test Series between England Men and India Men has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022. The match, which was due to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of Covid-19 cases inside the camp," said an ECB statement.
"With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)," added the statement.
ECB also said that due to the rescheduled Test, the white-ball series between England and India will now start six days later than originally planned. The T20I series will begin on July 7 at Ageas Bowl with Edgbaston and Trent Bridge hosting the second and third matches respectively on July 9 and 10. It will be followed by the ODI series starting on July 12 at The Oval followed by Lord's and Old Trafford hosting the second and third ODI on July 14 and 17 respectively.
"Ticket holders do not have to take any action as all tickets will remain valid for the equivalent rearranged matchday at their host venue. Host venues will communicate the new fixture details to ticket purchasers and the options available to them, including the timeframe for requesting a refund if they are not able to attend the new match day," further said the statement.
"We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement with BCCI to creating a fitting end to what has been a brilliant series so far. I'm very grateful to all the venues involved for the cooperation they've shown in allowing us to reschedule this match. I'd also like to thank Cricket South Africa for their support and understanding to allow these changes to be possible," said Tom Harrison, the CEO of the ECB.
"We would like to apologise again to fans for the disruption and disappointment of September events. We know it was a day that so many had planned long in advance. We recognise that accommodating this extra match means a tighter schedule for the white ball series. We will continue to manage our players' welfare and workloads through next year while we also continue to seek the optimum schedule for fans, players and our partners across the game."
"I am delighted that the England-India Test series will now have its rightful conclusion. The four Test matches were riveting, and we needed a fitting finale. The BCCI recognizes and respects the traditional form of the game and is also mindful of its role and obligations towards fellow Board Members. In the last two months, both BCCI and the ECB have been engaged in discussions and our efforts were aimed at finding a suitable window. I thank the ECB for their understanding and patience in finding an amicable solution," said BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: India, Britain, BCCI, Test Match, Cricket.