Skip to main content

Panchayat funds defrauded: Roads without potholes a fundamental right but not here

Kirity Roy, Secretary Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and National Convenor (PACTI) Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, writes to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission:

Through this complaint, I want to draw your attention to the plight of the villagers of Nawdapara in the District of North 24 Parganas. The village is situated under the Bagdah Police Station, Bagdah Block and Mama Bhagina Post Office respectively.
Nawdapara is a Muslim minority populated village. Indo Bangladesh Border Road (IBBR) passes through the middle of the village. There is a naka checking post of the BSF inside the village and BSF associated with Mama Bhagina Border Out Post, 68 Battalion, ‘B’ Company guard 24 hours in that check post. People have lived in this village since the independence of India. The market is about three to four kilometres away from Nawdapara village. One primary school is situated within the village but the high school is about five to six kilometres away and college is about 25 kilometres away. There is no health care facility in this village, even one primary health centre is about eight to nine kilometres away from this village.
After 75 years of independence of India, there is no concrete road in the village of Nawdapara. As a consequence, the village roads from Nawdapara Idgah Maidan to Mama Bhagina Kathaltala total 3 kilometres roads are in terrible condition, there are large ditches in the middle of the road which make transport and communication impossible. The road is extremely prone to accidents and even traveling on foot is hazardous to life. The village roads f beyond this stretch of 3 kilometres are functional but that gives little respite to the villagers because they cannot reach their houses without traveling through the dilapidated road in their village. The local panchayat has taken no initiative to address the problem.
Connectivity through roads is the primary focus of any developmental work but during monsoon this village road of Nawdapara becomes muddy and even cycle cannot go in this road. Therefore this village area is detached from the rest of the world and looks like an island due to not commutable muddy roads. Life and livelihood options became unattainable due to hindrances in normal movement. Students cannot go to their school by crossing the dilapidated road condition. For pregnant ladies and any patients, it is a very risky environment if they want to go to the Hospital.
Section 19(2) (d) of the West Bengal Panchayat Act, 1973 provides that the duties of gram panchayat is to maintain, repair, construct and protect public streets in the village. The main objective of the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) is to meet the special developmental needs of the people living in the remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international border. The implementation of BADP is on a participatory and decentralized basis through the Panchayati Raj institutions but in this area the Border Area Development Programme is not properly conducted as the village road has not been repaired till date.
An elderly villager who did not wish to be named, informed us that the children in this village after passing their fourth standard drop out from the school because of crossing five to six kilometres distance of the high school. Therefore, they get involved in smuggling at a young age. Poor children are actively involved in smuggling activities for wages Rs. 300 to 500. As a result of this, there are occasional conflicts between BSF and villagers in this area. Many have died and been injured in this area during smuggling activities.
The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right. But why in this place of India does the Constitutional mandate not work? Why did the concerned district administration and education department not take any positive steps to prevent school drop out after fourth standard in the village of Nawdapara?
Justice Bhagwati once said, “It is the fundamental right of everyone in this country… to live with human dignity free from exploitation. This right to live with human dignity enshrined in Article 21 derives its life breath from the Directive Principles of State Policy and particularly clauses (e) and (f) of Article 39 and Articles 41 and 42 and at the least, therefore, it must include protection of the health and strength of workers, men and women, and of the tender age of children against abuse, opportunities and facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, educational facilities, just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.” These are the minimum requirements which must exist in order to enable a person to live with human dignity and no State neither the Central Government nor any State Government-has the right to take any action which will deprive a person of the enjoyment of these basic essentials.
On 24.01.2023 Amra Simantabasi, Nawdapara Gram Committee (a conglomeration of the bordering populace) submitted written applications to the District Magistrate, North 24 Parganas; Sub Divisional Officer, Bangaon and Block Development Officer, Bagdah. Total 282 villagers signed on that written application even local panchayat member Ms. Maseda Dafadar and Mr. Binod Kumar Dube, Assistant Commandant, 68 Battalion, ‘B’ Company acknowledged the issue and put their signature on the written applications submitted before the Block Revenue Office, Sub Division Office and district administration. But till date no action has been taken by the concerned administrative departments.
This situation is practically in violation of right to life, equality and equal opportunity as enshrined in Article 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and Articles 11 and 12 of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The Sustainable Development Goals is an initiative of the United Nations to gain a more sustainable and better future for all human beings by addressing challenges like poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice. The road condition of Nawdapara village violates the set Goal number 8 and 16 of Sustainable Development Goal.
Therefore, I request your urgent intervention in fulfilling the following demands:
· Proper corrective measures must be taken to the mass petition submitted by the villagers of Nawdapara to the District Magistrate, North 24 Parganas; Sub Divisional Officer, Bangaon and Block Development Officer, Bagdah.
· The concerned authorities should be directed to immediately initiate the work to build a concrete and functional village road for the villagers of Nawdapara.
· BADP funds should be allotted in border development only.
· The BSF should be directed to be stationed at the zero point of the border and not at the IBBR Road.
· Free, compulsory and equitable education for all children from the village of Nawdapara must be guaranteed.
· The errant officials responsible for underdevelopment of the said area must be punished in accordance with law.



'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why's Govt of India reluctant to consider battery storage system for renewal energy?

By Shankar Sharma*  If having so many small size battery energy storage system (BESS) at different locations of the grid, as in the report from Australia (a portfolio of 27 small battery storage projects across three Australian states that will total arounds 270 MWh), is considered to be techno-economically attractive in a commercially driven market such as Australia, the question that becomes a lot more relevance to Indian scenario is: why are our planners not in favour of installing such small size BESS at most of the distribution sub-stations not only to accelerate the addition of RE power capacities, but also to minimise the need for large size solar/ wind power parks, dedicated transmission lines and pumped storage plants; which will also minimise the associated technical losses.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

New MVA-INDIA MPs asked to raise Maharashtra milk farmers' demand

By Our Representative  All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) national president Dr Ashok Dhawale and AIKS Maharashtra general secretary Dr Ajit Nawale have asked three newly-elected MPs of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA-INDIA) from the milk belt of Maharashtra Dr Amol Kolhe (NCP),  Bhausaheb Wakchaure (SS), and Nilesh Lanke (NCP), to take up the cause of milk farmers of Maharashtra in Parliament.  After congratulating them on their resounding victory over their BJP-NDA rivals, the AIKS leaders apprised them of the milk farmers struggle which is intensifying in the state under the leadership of the AIKS and the Milk Farmers Joint Struggle Committee, and requested them to support it. All three MPs agreed not only to support, but also to take the initiative in this struggle, an official AIKS communique claimed. Farmers in Maharashtra are currently getting as low as Rs 24-27 per litre for cow milk, which is being sold in the market for Rs 56-60 per litre, the AIKS leaders noted. The low price to farmer