Friday, August 6, 2010

Paramedical institute in Nagaland soon

NEW DELHI, Aug 5 – The North Eastern Council (NEC) has cleared a proposal to establish a paramedical institution in the PPP mode in Nagaland.A review meeting of NEC, chaired by Union Mines and DoNER Minister Bijoy Krishna Handique, cleared the project here recently.The proposed institution that would impart paramedical education is likely to be established in the Regional Referral Hospital Campus in Nagaland.The MoU between NEC and the Government of Nagaland regarding the institute is scheduled to be signed on September 15.Sources in the Ministry of DoNER said the NEC has approached Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation Limited under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to do a gap analysis of three aspects – including manpower, referral services and health infrastructure in the north-eastern region.The meeting also decided to sponsor students of Down Town Hospital in Guwahati, which has started its health education facilities recently.Sources said Handique also reviewed the status of the action plans in various sectors of ‘Vision 2020’ for the region. The action plans for the inland waterways and telecommunications sectors are ready for implementation. The action plans for other sectors like railways, tourism, civil aviation, border trade and power transmission are also in the pipeline, sources added.The NEC has also commissioned a master plan on circuit-based tourism by Tata Consultancy Services. This study is supported by Union Ministry of Tourism. NEC is also funding a study commissioned by the Director General of Civil Aviation for a comprehensive study and road map for civil aviation in region.A study on the ‘Border Trade by Research and Information System for Developing Countries’ has also been commissioned. In the power sector, NEC and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited have jointly funded the preparation of DPRs for strengthening of transmission, sub-transmission and distribution systems in NER.

Goods train arrives at Jiribam railway station after a decade

Imphal, August 05: After around 10 years, a goods train arrived at Jiribam railhead this evening as the Central government started taking initiative to deal with the artificial scarcity of food grains in the state due to uncertainty on the national highways.Meanwhile, over 60 freight trucks crossed Mao gate today, on the second day of the 20-day economic blockade of UNC, which commenced on Wednesday, with tight security throughout the stretch of the NH-39 from Mao.Informing that the first goods train arrived at Jiribam carrying 36 MT of essential commodities after a gap of around 10 years, Transporters’ and Drivers’ Council (TDC) said that the goods train arrived there as the Centre as well as the State government realized the stand of the TDC not to ply the NH 39 unless authorities make the NH 53 an accessible and all season road.Briefing reporters at the TDC office at MG Avenue here, its president, H Ranjit reiterated that the apex body of all tranporters’ associations was compelled to take the decision not to ply the Imphal-Dimapur section of NH 39 due to the excesses meted out by anti-social elements and extortion activities of Naga rebel outfits. There is no change in the decision taken by the body till today, he clarified.Acknowledging the decision of the TDC, the state and the Central governments have taken up the step to procure essential commodities by train upto Jiribam, Ranjit claimed adding that they have been pressing the authorities to allow lifting of goods of FCI from Jiribam.The arrival of 36 MT capacity cargo train today at Jiribam railway station is in response to the TDC’s strong pressure to the State and the Central governments, Ranjit said and claimed that it has shown that the TDC’s stand has started yielding positive results.The freight train will arrive at Jiribam railway station from Silchar via Rampur of Assam two times a week, and if essential commodities start arriving regularly, there will be space problems in the FCI godowns at Jiribam, he said stressing the need of construction of more godowns of FCI at Jiribam.In the meantime, official reports said that a total of 60 loaded trucks including nine oil tankers and 15 mini trucks have crossed Mao gate today for Imphal along with security personnel of CRPF while another 127 empty trucks including 90 oil tankers headed towards Dimapur.Apart from escorting the freight trucks all the way from Dimapur to Imphal on the NH-39, personnel of the CRPF, BSF and IRB are conducting round the clock patrolling, the official added.On the other hand, even though around 500 loaded trucks with security escort had left Jiribam on NH-53 for Imphal, only 20 trucks arrived at Nungba, the midway of Imphal-Jiribam section of the NH-53 till today. The trucks left Jiribam with escorts provided by 2nd MR personnel yesterday morning.Twenty trucks arrived at Nungba were also stopped by the police there waiting for arrival of other behind them as well as considering the possible attack by protestors. Besides the economic blockade of UNC, a student body in Tamenglong district is also imposing chakka bandh on NH-53 to register decry on the government decision to take out the highway maintenance works from BRTF and handover to PWD.

'Saying I'm HIV+ is tough; saying I'm gay is tougher'

Hyderabad: It is a Sunday morning. Outside Hyderabad, at a Rajasthani-style resort named Dhola-ri-dhani, close to 500 men have gathered. The younger among them seem to be in their 20s, the seniors in their 60s. They speak softly, but warmly to each other. Many of them know each other through previous secret meetings but if they were to meet outside, they would not acknowledge that. It would be as though they have never met before. But here they are at peace in a gathering where they can be themselves.The technical term used to describe them is MSM: Men Who Have Sex with Men. The group gathered here has bisexuals, homosexuals, and transgendered individuals. There are cross-dressers too, conspicuous with their elaborate hair-dos and bright outfits and what appear to be deliberately feminine mannerisms.The meeting has been organized by the Andhra Pradesh AIDS Control Society and local NGOs who want to build a greater support system for the 60,000 men in Andhra Pradesh who have sex with other men. There is a sense of urgency. HIV is shooting up in the community - from 9 to 11% in the last two years.Vivek tested positive for HIV in 2003. His wife knows that. What he hasn't told her is that he contracted the infection when he lived in Mumbai as a young man. To supplement his income as a receptionist, he worked as a paid sex worker. Since his teens, Vivek knew that he was sexually attracted to men. But the fear of rejection by his family and society, he says, nudged him into marrying a cousin He has a 12-year-old daughter now. Vivek says it was humiliating and debilitating to tell his family that he is HIV positive; but telling them about his sexual preference is impossible.That is the startling consensus here - that the stigma of being gay is more domineering and substantial than that of being HIV positive. And this is what worries health workers. That while society is, however gradually, being trained to overcome its prejudice against HIV and AIDS, there is no comparable progress in how it perceives or treats homosexuality. ``In India, it is still a crime," says Vivek.More than a year ago, a landmark judgement saw the Delhi High Court decriminalizing homosexuality under Section 377. That verdict has been challenged in the Supreme Court, whose ruling is awaited. The government, however, has not appealed against the High Court's decision. Chances are, experts say, that the ruling will not be over-turned.But the gap between legal acceptance and everyday life is expansive and isolating. Nayeem, now in his 30s, came out to his father 10 years ago. It was traumatising for both father and son. After six daughters, his father responded, he wanted his only son to be a "proper man." Nayeem has held his ground, refusing to marry. But his sexual preference remains a secret. "With HIV status, people may taunt you a couple of times. Then they accept. But it is not like that with homosexuality. They humiliate you everywhere, call you a hijra," he says.The six -hour-long meeting encourages men gathered here to swap stories and understand that they need to access medical extension services offered by the government and NGOs. And, also, more importantly, help others who find it very difficult to come out and seek guidance. To learn how they can lead a life of their choice and still protect themselves from HIV. Considerable time is spent explaining the need for regular tests. The gathering is familiarised with the exclusive drop-in centre for MSMs, the only one of its kind possibly in the country. Health workers explain that they are lobbying for MSM-specific condoms, with more lubricants, to soon be made available in the market.At 5 pm, Vivek is ready to leave. He will tell his wife that he spent the day at his office.

Landslide blocks Manali-Chandigarh highway causing huge traffic snarl

Manali, Aug 5 (ANI): Thousands of tourists heading towards Manali, Himachal Pradeshare stuck in a major traffic snarl due to a landslide on the Manali-Chandigarh highway at Pandoh.Thousands of vehicles were stuck in the snarl that extended from both sides of the site of the landslide, 50 km from Kullu.The landslide occurred early in the morning at around 2 a.m. on Thursday. There were no casualties."The traffic is stuck from both the sides. The road was opened for a while in between, but after two hours the road was blocked. Both sides, around 5,000-6,000 vehicles are there, and 2 a.m., it was raining continuously, and suddenly there was a landslide due to which road was blocked, and the work is in progress," said Sharif Mohamad, Station House Officer, Mandi.They said they are expecting help from the government, as there are no amenities available to them."We are waiting here for so long since yesterday, we didn't eat anything. We went for Manali at five o' clock (a.m.), and since like 7.30 hours we are standing here, we don't have food and even we don't have water, strong rains, darkness, no one can help us, road is blocked, we can't go backwards even, we can't go back to Manali, and we can't go forward to Dharamsala, and it is so frustrating. The girls with me are so frustrated, terrified and it is really exhausting," said Roni Gilbon, a tourist from Israel.The repair work on the road is in progress but passengers have not been informed how long the procedure would take.The Chandigarh-Manali highway is a crucial link to the Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul and Spiti districts and to Leh in Jammu and Kashmir. (ANI)

Manipur forms team to tackle Naga issue

The Secular Progressive Front government in Manipur has decided to send a ministerial team to meet Naga leaders to end the blockade that began on Wednesday. Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh finalised the team on Wednesday. It comprises Information Minister T.N. Haokip, Sports Minister N. Biren and Tribal Development Minister D.D. Thaisii.“The ministerial team is planning to visit Senapati district headquarters for the meeting on August 7,” a state government official said.But the blockade organisers, the United Naga Council (UNC) of Manipur and the All Naga Students Association, are not yet ready to welcome the team.“Since the Nagas have severed political ties with the Manipur government, the intervention of the government of India for an alternative arrangement is sought by the Nagas of Manipur,” said the UNC in a press release on Thursday.The release said, “Therefore, we will not welcome the Manipur government and its representatives into Naga areas.”The Naga groups resumed the economic blockade in protest against the Centre’s alleged inaction on their ultimatum to Prime Minister on July 27.

Naga council begins Manipur blockade

The United Naga Council of Manipur has resumed the economic blockade on Manipur on Wednesday for 20 days, despite the central and state governments' appeal to call it off in public interest. The Centre said in New Delhi that it had urged the group not to block supply of essential commodities to the state.Home Minister P Chidambaram said in the Rajya Sabha: "Manipur chief minister recently called a meeting of all the groups, but the UNC did not attend the meeting."On the first day of the blockade, no untoward incident was reported on the state's lifelines — the Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati highway and the Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar highway."We've deployed eight CRPF companies along the Senapati-to-Mao sector (a 50-km-stretch) of National Highway 39," Senapati SP Nishit Ujjwal said.He said, "Another CRPF team, escorting 48 empty oil tankers, left the state to ferry fuel from outside."The Nagaland police on the Nagaland-Manipur border also confirmed the movement of the tankers, while more than 200 goods-laden trucks were on their way to Imphal.Manipur witnessed the end of a crippling 68-day-long blockade of the Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati highway and Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar highway, called by the All-Naga Students Association, Manipur, on June 18.The UNC announced the resumption of blockade in protest against the Centre's alleged inaction on their ultimatum to PM Manmohan Singh on July 27.The demand included institution of a judicial enquiry into the May 6 firing at Mao Gate on the Manipur-Nagaland border, killing two Naga students, demilitarisation of Naga areas, removal of the "wanted" tags on Naga leaders and dissolution of the autonomous district councils.