Bus driver in Odisha cuts off his tongue protesting harassment

Bhimsen Meher

Bhimsen Meher, a driver of OSRTC

Bhimsen Meher, a driver working in the state-run Odisha State Road Transport Corporation, on Wednseday  31st dec 2014, cut off his tongue to protest continued harassment by his seniors.

Bhimsen Meher has been working as a driver for the last 35 years.

He had earlier sat on hunger strike demanding regularisation of job. He called off his fast after he got assurance, but when he rejoined, his seniors refused to give him work.

Because of continued harassment, Bhimsen Meher, on Wednesday, cut off his tongue, and wrote “Jai Kosala” on the wall of his house. He was rushed to Bargarh hospital for treatment.

Kosala Kranti Dal and several other local organisations are demanding statehood for 11 western districts of Odisha — Bargarh, Bolangir, Boudh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Koraput, Nuapada, Sambalpur, Subarnapur and Sundergarh.

The region, known as Kosala, is poor and backward.

Train to Bhawanipatna Flagged Off

A new passenger train between Sambalpur and Bhawanipatna was flagged off from here on Sunday. The train was flagged off by Sambalpur Lok Sabha member Nagendra Pradhan in the presence of local MLA, Dr. Raseswari Panigrahi and Ajay Pratap Singh, Divisional Railway Manager of Sambalpur division.

Speaking on the occasion, Pradhan expressed happiness over introduction of the new train and urged for various projects of Sambalpur division including further development of Sambalpur station. MLA Panigrahi called for improvement in passenger amenities in Sambalpur station. The train will leave Sambalpur at 07.15 hrs and stop at all stations between Sambalpur and Bhawanipatna, the release said.

Jaundice:17 death, CM likely to visit Sambalpur

Jaundice continues to affect Sambalpur with two more persons succumbing to the disease on Sunday. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik and chief secretary G C Pati are likely to visit the western Odisha city on December 24, government sources said.

Raju Swain of Fishery Bandh of Sambalpur and Atmaram Surujal of Anlapalli village under Dhamma panchayat died while undergoing treatment at Sambalpur district headquarters hospital. Two other persons had died on Saturday. Though government sources put the death toll at 17, unofficial sources put it at 21.

What is worrying is several patients are suffering from a second bout of the disease after getting cured. Surujal, who died on Sunday, had tested positive for hepatitis E on November 14. He was discharged from hospital after over a month of treatment. He tested positive again and was hospitalized.

According to government figures, 1,270 people had tested positive for either Hepatitis A or Hepatitis E, both of which spread through contaminated water.

After a review of the situation by the chief secretary, health secretary Arti Ahuja said all possible efforts are being taken to tackle the situation. She said the number new positive cases had already shown a declining trend. Earlier over 50% suspected cases were testing positive for viral jaundice. The percentage has gone down to 30, she said. So far, 787 jaundice patients have sought treatment at the district headquarters hospital.

Ahuja said since contaminated water was causing the disease, the public health engineering organization (PHEO) has been taking steps on a war-footing to provide safe drinking water.

The health secretary said patients were being provided with free diagnosis and treatment at VSS Medical College and Hospital, Burla, and the district headquarters hospital.

The secretary said accredited social health activists (ASHAs) and anganwadi workers were moving door to doors to create awareness on boiling drinking water, washing hands before taking meals and personal hygiene.

Sambalpur municipal authorities are conducting regular checks on street foods to prevent consumption of contaminated food by people. Tubewells are being repaired and disinfected, she said.

Patients from Sambalpur continue to throng Bhubaneswar for treatment. Around 100 patients have been admitted to various hospitals in the state capital.

NCDC expert team arrives in Sambalpur

A two-member expert team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), New Delhi has arrived in Sambalpur and has visited the district headquarters hospital to review the situation arising out of the rising number of jaundice cases in the town and its adjoining areas.

The disease has claimed 15 lives in Sambalpur town and its adjoining area since May and infected nearly 1,140 others by December 16, according to district administration officials.

The NCDC team will visit various affected areas to take stock of the conditions there leading to the cause and spread of the disease and collect water samples for analysis. The team will suggest remedial measures for quick control over the spread of the disease as well as its prevention at the grassroots level.

“We have come here on getting reports that several cases of jaundice have been reported. We will help in diagnosing the cause of the disease and its spread and will help the state government authorities in its prevention and control”, said Dr Vikram Katush, NCDC team expert.

“They have come here to help us identify and pinpoint the cause and spread of the disease. They will help us in its prevention and will be giving suggestions for its effective control. During their period of stay here, the team will visit each affected ward and study in a pinpointed manner what was causing the disease of the disease in that particular ward and what was required to curb its spread. It will collect water samples from the affected areas and conduct water quality assurance test. Moreover, the team will be analyzing data trends in the area on the basis of age, gender etc.” said Dr Ashok Kumar Dash, ADMO Sambalpur.

The team will be of great help to us in ascertaining the cause and spread of the disease here, added Dash.

The administration has stopped supplying drinking water through pipelines over fear that sewage may have seeped into the drinking water as new patients continue to pour into the hospitals and private clinics in the area.

Sambalpur town has a population of nearly two lakh which is being supplied safe drinking water through tankers after the outbreak of water-borne disease.

The administration has stopped supplying drinking water through pipelines over fear that sewage may have seeped into the drinking water as new patients continue to pour into the hospitals and private clinics in the area.

Health officials are going door to door in the city as a part of the awareness campaign launched about preventing the spread of the disease. People are being urged to drink only boiled water.

Besides, local authorities have started an operation to overhaul the water supply pipes, most of which run along the drainage system.

Commenting on the cause and spread of jaundice in the town convenor of non-government organisation Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO) Ranjan Panda said the Mahanadi river which supplies water to the city has been heavily polluted as huge quantities of sewage water and solid waste is discharged into it.

“At least 40 per cent of the city residents defecate in open. More than 10,000 people defecate every day on the banks of the river,” Panda said.

Labourer’s Children, Wife Rescued from Telangana

Minister of State for Labour and Employment Prafulla Mallick on Tuesday said all efforts are being made to bring back the wife and children of migrant labourer, Bibek Chinda (42), who succumbed to burns on Monday.

Bibek along with his wife and two sons had gone to Telangana to work in a brick kiln in October. He belonged to Umagaon under Boudh district.

Contrary to Bibek’s dying declaration that his two sons were killed in a mishap at the kiln and wife kidnapped and gangraped by the kiln owner and his accomplices, Mallick claimed that the children are alive and the three family members of Bibek are being brought to Balangir.

The labourer was severely injured after coming in contact with a live wire at the kiln on Friday. In a bid to escape from the brick kiln, he boarded the Nagavalli Express from Hyderabad and got down at Balangir railway station on Sunday. Seeing him in a critical condition, the Government Railway Police admitted Bibek to Balangir Hospital, where he succumbed on Monday.

Receiving information, the district labour officials in Boudh contacted their Telangana counterparts who found out that the three are in the custody of the kiln owner.

Subsequently the authorities of the Home departments of the two States had a meeting in this regard and the local administration sent Bibek’s children and wife in a train to Balangir on Tuesday, Mallick said. They would reach Boudh on Wednesday.