Gates Foundation to invest Rs. 250 crore in UP

Uttar Pradesh has been assured of an investment of Rs. 250 crore by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in medical, health and family welfare sectors in the state. Besides, the Foundation has also shown interest in extending its contribution towards improving the State’s health indices.

This was decided at a meeting between the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati and the Foundation’s founder, Melinda Gates in Lucknow on Wednesday. The meeting held at the Chief Minister’s 5, Kalidas Marg official residence was attended by the officers of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The programmes run by the Foundation in the State’s health and family welfare sectors, as well as the future plans were discussed in the meeting. Appreciating the initiative taken by the Founation, Ms. Mayawati assured all possible assistance from the Uttar Pradesh Government.

According to an official spokesman, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister was informed by Ms. Gates that schemes worth Rs. 500 crore have been launched by the Foundation with the maximum investment being made in U.P. . Ms. Gates said the Foundation was interested in extending the benefits to those sections who were unable to avail the medical, health and family welfare services.

Particular emphasis was laid on women and child welfare and polio and tuberculosis eradication programmes by Ms. Gates, the spokesman said.

Ms. Gates was apprised by the Chief Minister how the long period of political instability in Uttar Pradesh had ended following the formation of the Bahujan Samaj Party Government in May 2007. Ms. Mayawati said a comprehensive health and family welfare programme had been formulated by her Government to ensure that these services were extended to poor and deprived sections of the population.

Ms. Mayawati said the people of the State, particularly the poor, were now ensured of better health services.

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Criminal Case Against Ashram After Stampede

A criminal negligence case was registered by the police today against the management of the ashram where 63 women and children were killed in a stampede while its head Kripaluji Maharaj remained untraceable.

“A case has been registered under Section 304 (A) (causing death by negligence) against Kripaluji Parishad, under the banner of which yesterday’s function was organised”, Pratapgarh Superintendent of Police Mahesh Kumar Mishra told PTI.

The stampede broke out yesterday at the ashram of Kripaluji Maharaj in Mangarh village, about 60 kms from here, where a feast had been organised for poor villagers in the memory of the Maharaj’s wife.

Circle officer Ikpal Singh said the 88-year-old Maharaj had fled some two hours after the stampede and is yet to be traced.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled the deaths and announced ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.

Singh, who was speaking in the Lok Sabha, also announced Rs 50,000 from the National Relief Fund to those seriously injured. 28 persons suffered serious injuries.

An FIR has already been filed against the organisers and managers of the function at the ashram at the Kunda police station. No one has been specifically named in the case.

Officials said all the deceased have been identified and their bodies handed over to family members after post-mortem.

The sprawling ashram, about 60 kms from here, wore a deserted look today even as a heavy police contingent was deployed there.

There were conflicting versions with regard to arrangements made for yesterday’s event with police saying the ashram management had not informed authorities about the gathering of thousands of people.

Superintendent of Police Mahesh Misra said no permission had been sought from district authorities while Rajneesh Puri of the ashram claimed the administration had been informed about it on February 25 itself but no arrangements were made for it.

The state government has blamed the ashram’s management for the tragedy, saying the local administration was never informed about the holding a function of a huge magnitude.

However, local MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, who yesterday visited the site of the incident, rubbished the claim saying “everybody in Pratapgarh is aware that a gathering of this magnitude takes place here on this day”.

The victims were crushed in the stampede when around 10,000 people scrambled for free meals and to receive a stainless steel plate, Rs 10 in cash, a ‘laddoo’ and a handkerchief from the Ashram.

Some 50 families searching for their missing relatives have visited the ashram since yesterday. Though the ashram has been kept out of bounds by the police, families have been trickling there looking for their near and dear ones.

The administration has made preparations for the last rites of the victims at various ghats in the city.

The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered an inquiry into the stampede and asked the Divisional Commissioner of Allahabad to submit his report.

UP tops and AP forth in child rape graph

Uttar Pradesh tops the list of States and Union Territories with the highest number of 900 child rape cases in 2008 followed by Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

According to the latest data by the Ministry of Home Affairs for three years, cases of child rape continue to rise as a total of 4,721 cases were registered during 2006, 5,045 in 2007 and 5,446 in 2008 across the country.

Police have arrested 5,489 people in 2006 for their involvement in such crimes, 5,756 in 2007 and 6,363 in 2008.

Madhya Pradesh registered 892 such cases, Maharashtra (690), Rajasthan (420) and Andhra Pradesh (412) in 2008, the data said.

A total of 411 such cases were registered in Chhattisgarh, 301 in Delhi, 215 in Kerala, 187 in Tamil Nadu, 129 in West Bengal, 106 in Punjab and 104 in Tripura, it said.

Whereas, Gujarat has registered 99 cases, Karnataka 97, Bihar 91, Haryana 70, Himachal Pradesh 68, Orissa 65 and Goa 18.

“According to the Constitution, police and public order is the State subject that is why the primary responsibility of prevention, detection, registration, investigation and prosecution of crimes, including crimes against children, lies with the State governments or Union territory administrations,” a Home Ministry official said.

However, the condition in northeastern states was slight better as compared to their counterparts. Eleven cases came to light in Arunachal Pradesh, 12 in Sikkim, 18 in Mizoram, 22 in Manipur, 27 in Assam and 34 in Meghalaya.

According to the data, no such cases were registered in Nagaland, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep. Besides, ten cases were filed in Chandigarh, nine in Uttarakhand, eight each in Jharkhand and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, five in Jammu and Kashmir, four in Puducherry and three in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Out of the total registered cases, 1,177 people were convicted for their offence during 2008. In 2007, 1,210 were convicted for their crime as against 963 in 2006, the data said.

At least 65 dead in stampede in UP temple

NEW DELHI: At least 65 people were killed and 30 injured on Thursday in a stampede at Ram Janki temple in Pratapgarh district in Uttar Pradesh.

Sub divisional magistrate said at least 65 people have been killed in the tragedy in Mangarh area of Kunda town, about 180 km from here.

The stampede occurred after the main gate of the temple collapsed. More than 30 people are reported to be trapped in the debris.

Most of the trapped people are women and children. There was a huge crowd gathered at the temple to attend a ‘bhandara’ (luncheon) of Swami Kripaluji Maharaj.

Police and administrative officials have reached the stampede site and are engaged in rescue and relief work.
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15 dead, dozens injured in temple stampede

At least 15 people were killed and dozens more injured Thursday in a stampede at a temple in north India, police says.

The accident occurred when thousands of people crowded into the compound of a temple in Kunda, a small town 112 miles (180 kilometers) southeast of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, said Brij Lal, a senior local police official.

Mr. Lal said the death toll would likely go up as more details emerged from the accident site.

The temple is located in a compound that belongs to Kripalu Maharaj, a popular local religious leader.

Free clothes and utensils were being distributed at a religious function at the Ram Janki temple, which likely caused the stampede, Lal said.

As people jostled each other, a gate to the compound also fell, causing more injuries, he added.

Deadly stampedes are a relatively common occurrence at temples in India, where large crowds — sometimes hundreds of thousands of people — congregate in small areas lacking facilities to control big gatherings.

In 2008, more than 145 people died in a stampede at a remote Hindu temple at the foothill of the Himalayas

22 killed as bus falls into river in Uttar Pradesh

At least 22 people on their way to a wedding were killed and 30 injured when the bus they were travelling in fell into a river in Uttar Pradesh’s Jalaun district, an official said on Wednesday.

“The mishap took place after midnight at Jalaun’s Maharajpura village that shares a border with Madhya Pradesh. The bus skidded off the road and fell into the Pahuj river,” Superintendent of Police Prem Gautam told IANS over phone from Jalaun, about 250 km from Lucknow.

“We believe now no one is trapped inside the bus. We managed to rescue 40 passengers, of which 30 had received injuries in the accident,” he added.

The passengers were on their way from Muraina in Madhya Pradesh to Jalaun to attend a wedding.

Police are hunting for the driver of the bus, who managed to escape following the accident.

New scheme for maternal and child health

Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has launched a new programme, Navjat Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram, to train the healthcare providers at various health centres across the country.

Under this programme, health care providers are imparted training in resuscitation, prevention of infections, hypothermia, and , Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad announced this here at the Parliamentary consultative committee meeting . The programme aims to reduce the infant and maternal mortality rate. The Minister said another priority area would be strengthening the government’s resolve to population stabilisation. So far, 11 States and Union Territories have already reached the replacement level of total fertility. The Ministry would focus on Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the coming months. These States have high total fertility rates.

“Though achievement of a TFR of 2.1 by 2010 seems impossible, as we were at 2.7 in 2007, we will make all efforts to ensure that we are able to move closer towards replacement levels by 2015,” Mr. Azad said.

This exercise, the Minister said, helped to identify 288 districts that account for 80 per cent of maternal and infant deaths; and Primary Health Centres and Community Health Centres that are geographically remote and difficult to access within these villages and blocks that have a high percentage of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. “For these areas, we are now formulating a comprehensive package of additional incentives to health workers and doctors. We intend to give special focus to new born care, as nearly 23 per cent of the neonatal deaths occur in the first two days of birth,” he said. Asphyxia, hypothermia, sepsis are major causes of such deaths.

“We still have a long way to achieving our goals related to maternal mortality, infant mortality and total fertility ratio, the burden of disease on account of malaria and TB and other infectious diseases, universal immunisation,” he said, adding that heasked the officers to focus on most difficult and inaccessible areas.