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NULM scam: Government used over Rs. 1000 crore to construct only 200 houses for poor

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Supreme Court has found severe financial holes in NDA government’s scheme to construct permanent housing facilities for the urban poor under the  National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM).

Giving the government a piece of its mind, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit said, “It is a big scam. Your (Centre’s) affidavit tells us everything. Where has the money gone. Affidavit shows us that no construction was done in Maharashtra. How was the Rs 170 crore granted to it utilized?”

In the last financial year, Centre had released Rs. 1,078 crore to states for constructing housing facilities for over 9 lakh urban homeless people. However, only a 208 houses were built across the country.

Funds granted to all the states were ‘utilized’ only by 14 states while no altering in the urbanscape was seen in the remaining 11 states and Union Territories. UP constructed 37 houses for Rs. 180 crore, while Maharashtra could not manage a single wall from the Rs. 170 crore it was given.

The funds released for a urban poor development scheme under NULM, in 790 cities were aimed at constructing permanent, all-weather houses for the homeless urban population.

The Centre had earlier said that executive committees have been set up in states and Union Territories and that the government would monitor the progress of the project. States and UTs were supposed to give monthly reports too.

However Centre’s enthusiasm and States’ sincerity are conspicuous by their presence on the ground, while some 10 lakh urban people continue their lives on roads, footpaths and under flyovers.

The apex body has asked the Ministry of Urban Development to submit a financial statement within two weeks. The ministry was also charged a fine of Rs. 10,000.

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80% Maharashtra School Students Don’t Report Cybercrimes: Survey

It is also reportes that 33% students deleted content due to which they were targeted for cybercrimes

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37 per cent of the students revealed that they were affected by some sorts of cybercrimes. Pixabay

At least 80 per cent of school students in Maharashtra aged between 10-17 do not report cybercrimes they face online to their parents, teachers and the police, a new survey revealed on Thursday.

The study done with 1,148 children studying in the 6th-9th standard across 18 schools in Maharashtra, found that 33 per cent students deleted content due to which they were targeted for cybercrimes, while 31 per cent informed their friends about it.

The survey by a non-profit startup Responsible Netism and Cyber Peace Foundation, Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research and Training (MSCERT) was conducted between October 2019 to February 2020 to understand internet usage trends of children across Maharashtra.

The research found that 37 per cent of the students revealed that they were affected by some sort of cybercrime including their accounts being hacked, cyberbullying, being threatened online, harassment by strangers and even receiving pornographic content.

“Millions of kids in Maharastra today are being exposed to cybercrimes owing to the ease of access and anonymity that internet offers,” Sonali Patankar, Founder President, Responsible Netism, said in a statement.

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60 per cent of students faced other Cybercrimes such as cyberstalking, online gambling, etc. Pixabay

“Our research points to the fact that technology companies are not stringently safeguarding the interests of children towards ensuring their cyber wellbeing,” Patankar added.

Also Read: Every 4 in 10 Adults Suffer From Gastrointestinal Disorders Globally: Researchers

The findings showed that at least 60 per cent of students faced other crimes such as cyberstalking, online gambling, body shaming, added to inappropriate groups online, threatened online, etc.

According to the study, 46 per cent of the students revealed that they were dependent addicted to their devices (phones, tablets, computers) and it affected their studies. The report also revealed that Whatsapp and Tiktok are the two most-used apps by children in the state while PUBG and GTA are the most popular online games amongst children. (IANS)

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Migrant Workers Push Up Corona Infections in Jharkhand

Out of 50 positive cases, 38 are migrant labourers

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In Jharkhand COVID-19 tally reached 174 consisting of mostly Migrant labourers. Pixabay

The return of the migrant workers from the highly coronavirus infected states of Maharashtra and Gujarat is pushing up the number of Covid-19 patients in Jharkhand where the tally reached 174 on Wednesday.

According to the health officials, of the recent 50 positive cases 38 are migrant labourers.

The highest numbers during the day were reported from Hazaribagh district where six people, who hail from Barra village of Bishnugarh block and had returned from Maharashtra a couple of days ago, have been confirmed to be infected with coronavirus.

In the state capital Ranchi, a 20-year-old migrant woman tested positive for coronavirus while a migrant worker, who had returned from Surat, also tested positive in the Gandey block of Giridih district.

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In 14 districts out of the 24 districts in Jharkhand, Coronavirus patients have been detected. Pixabay

Coronavirus patients have been detected so far in 14 districts out of the 24 districts in Jharkhand.

Read More: Don’t Let Lockdown Diminish The Spirit of World Cocktail day

A total of 1,061 samples were tested out of which 1,053 turned out to be negative while eight were positive. The samples are currently being tested at four places in the state, including MGM Jamshedpur, RIMS Ranchi, PMCH Dhanbad and Itki Arogyashala Ranchi.

District wise Ranchi has so far recorded 95 confirmed coronavirus cases which included two foreigners, Bokaro 10, Hazaribagh 10, Koderma three, Giridih six, Simdega two, Dhanbad four, Deoghar four, Garhwa 23, Palamu eight, Jamtara two, Godda one, Dumka two and East Singhbhum two. Out of these 174 cases, three have died. (IANS)

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Overpricing of Essential Commodities Taking a Toll on the Poor

The sudden rise in prices of grocery items has become a serious concern across the country

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overpricing poor houeholds
What is very unfortunate is that many retailers have been taking the “undue advantage” of the situation and the poor people are suffering.

By Salil Gewali

The sudden rise in prices of grocery items has become a serious concern across the country. Many poor households, particularly daily wage-earners, are experiencing very tough times when they have no sources of income in this lockdown period. What is very unfortunate is that many retailers have been taking the “undue advantage” of the situation. I was shocked to note that the ordinary arhar pulse/DAL is being sold in a certain state at Rs 120/- or Rs 130/- per kg while it should not be more than Rs 100/-. Before the lockdown it was even sold at Rs 90/- per kg. Similarly, the retail price of sugar should not exceed Rs 45/- per kg but many stores are charging Rs 50/- to 55/- from the gullible customers. Some of the retail outlets are selling the potatoes at Rs 35/- instead of it Rs 25/- per kg, while some ripped off the unsuspecting buyers by selling at Rs 45/- when there was panic-buying during the early phase of the lockdown relaxation. It has also come to the notice that rice (ordinary LAI brand) in a certain state is now being sold at Rs 1400/- to 1500/- per packet/sack while it was sold in the range of Rs 800 to Rs 1000/- before lockdown. These days such packets (or small sacks) come in 30/25 kg in variant brands.

overpricing poor houeholds
It is very heartening that many NGOs are working with dedication by distributing free ration or cooked meals to satisfy the hunger of the needy and the poor people.

Given the increasing transportation and other incidental expenses, the variation of Rs 2 to Rs 3 or sometimes Rs 5/- per kg is agreeable but not the huge gap as the profit margin. By and large, there is about 25% to 40% price hike in essential food-grains in most of the states in the country. This must be opposed tooth and nail.

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I strongly feel that the Government concerned authorities should take the immediate step towards the exorbitant price-rises. The respective state governments across the nation should make it mandatory for each retailer to paste the correct price-list of the essential grocery items on the broad visible to the customers. One believes, the humanitarian support and empathy shown towards the needy and the poor, who are without any earning sources, is more meaningful now than ever before. The arbitrary pricing should be checked by taking the stern measures in this lockdown period.

overpricing poor houeholds
Many poor households, particularly daily wage-earners, are experiencing very tough times when they have no sources of income in this lockdown period.

Of course, it is very heartening that many NGOs are working with dedication by distributing free ration or cooked meals to satisfy the hunger of the needy. But our generous philanthropists cannot reach each one of them every morning and every evening. It has been reported that countless daily wage-earners and poor migrant workers in the cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore have been experiencing extremely hard times fixing their even one-time meals. Many feel “shy” to disclose the privacy of their kitchens. So, all NGOs, all charity organizations, all religious institutions should come together to put pressure upon the government machinery to control the price of essential food items. Streamlining the Fair Price Ration distribution system, which is fraught with various leakages, is equally crucial. Filling the empty stomach of the poor and the underprivileged is the biggest concern and also the duty of each right-thinking citizen in this unprecedented lockdown and economic hardship.

Also Read- Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS): Providing Service to Mankind Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

An India-based writer and researcher, Salil Gewali is best known for his research-based work entitled ‘Great minds on India’ which has earned worldwide appreciations. Translated into Twelve languages, his book has been prefaced by a world-acclaimed NASA Chief scientist – Dr. Kamlesh Lulla of Houston, USA. 

[ Disclaimer: The pictures used in the article are supplied by the author, NewsGram has no intention of infringing copyrights. ]