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WORLD CANCER DAY:How cancer is killing people in resource-starved Kashmir

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar: He was a perfectly healthy, ever-smiling, a workaholic, who would single-handedly manage a workload of 10 people.
His friends would joke that he was a “robot”, who never showed any signs of fatigue.
However, last year in June, the world turned upside down for Ghulam Mohammad Sofi, a 48-year-old trader from Chadoora, Budgam.
He was detected with stage 4 Lung cancer.
With sullen eyes and a resigned voice, his elder brother, Ghulam Mohiudin, recalls, “One day he returned late from his shop. He complained of pain in the chest area. We dismissed it just as a symptom of cold or a mild chest-infection.”
The pain intensified the next day. His family took him to Chest Diseases Hospital, Drugjan Dalgate. They prescribed medicines but to no avail.
A month dragged on with no improvement in his condition.
“One of my friends suggested we take him to an oncologist. We visited Dr Zaid who lives in our neighbourhood. He examined him and immediately raised an alarm advising us to shift him to Regional Cancer Centre, SKIMS.”
After several rounds of check-up, he was put on chemo-therapy.
From SKIMS, he was referred to Cancer Society of Kashmir. The chemotherapy doses burnt a hole in the pockets of the family, reducing them almost to penury.
They claimed to have spent about two lakhs on his treatment till now.
“I am staying with him from the last eight months. Our family spent all the savings on him. We are trying out best with whatever little we can manage to bring him back to health.” Mohidin said with a sigh.
Sofi lies still on the hospital bed. His sunken eyes lie fixed on the door, expecting his wife to pay him a visit.
Tears stream down in barely restrained grief down the tired face of Ghulam Mohidin.
He has to put up a brave face every day and pretend that everything is rosy and right: “We have not told his wife about the deadly ailment he is suffering from, else God forbid she will harm herself.”
Another patient, Mohammad Mukhtar Parray, a peasant from Hajin area of Bandipora, stands listlessly in a queue, waiting to get registered. He has been detected with a colon cancer.
“I have undergone two surgeries. They cost me around 2-2.5 lakh. My health is failing with each passing day, and I can’t afford any further treatment,” he said.
Mukhtar had to board four vehicles in order to reach Cancer Society.
He hopes to see a doctor and asks everyone around to pray for him.
These are hardly isolated cases. Rather, this is the norm in the OPD ward at the ‘Cancer society of Kashmir’, which receives around 40 cancer patients in a day.
Most of them are usually from the lower strata of the society, who can barely afford the prohibitive cost of cancer treatment.
The centre is an accurate reflection of the extent of the explosion of the menace of cancer in the state, and the lack of readiness to fight it. Official statics show that 26,214 patients have been reported as suffering from cancer since 2011.
Against such a massive onslaught, facilities including the Center seem woefully inadequate.
The ward at the Center has three beds, and a handful of staff members to cater to a large number of patients.
Admitting the dearth, the senior medical staffer Abdul Khaliq blamed the “minimal wages” and “government’s unwillingness to upgrade the private sector.”
“Government should take cognisance of the increasing number of cancer patients and likewise upgrade the infrastructure especially in the private sector,” said Khaliq.
“We are the only NGO who is trying to reach out to a many cancer patients as we can,” he added.
On inquiring why the doctor’s ward is empty today given the huge inflow of patients, another staffer revealed, “Only two doctors come here voluntarily two days a week.”
“They come on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Nobody wants to works for free or low wages. Where will we get doctors every-day for their examination?” the executive officer of the NGO, GN Manto, asks.
The cancer society in collaboration with patients and palliative care at SKIMS provide free medical assistance to cancer patients in the region.
“Our team provides palliation to patients in last stages of cancer every Tuesday and Thursday,” said Mantoo.
The centre, however, has no psychologists or counsellors to equip patients with any means to fight the trauma and pain.
Dr Sameer Kaul, Senior Consultant Surgical and Clinical Oncology at Apollo Cancer Institute New Delhi, notes the scale of devastation that cancer induces: “Cancer doesn’t only impact the patient, but also the caretakers and family of the patient. The pain at watching an able body wither helplessly is compounded by depression, and grief. Ultimately the maintenance of social and economic makeup of the society depends upon a healthy body. Its destruction devastates everyone.”
He also believes health insurance should be acquired on priority, as most patients who travel to Delhi for treatment are left penniless by the exorbitant cost.
Dr Maqbool Lone, Head Radiation and Oncology at SKIMS believes that this trend will be reversed soon.
The government of India after many deliberations approved upgrading RCC SKIMS to State Cancer Institute (SCI) and allotted Rs 120 crores to upgrade its Infrastructure and buy the machinery.” Already the PET-CT facility has been started at the centre, and many more projects like Linear Accelerator are in the pipeline.
The patients wait in pain and hopelessness; one hopes the upgradation will occur lest their death warrants be signed.


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Govt directs DCs, SSPs to provide security to Panchayat members

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Oct 22: Waking up to militant threats, Jammu and Kashmir government has directed district development commissioners and district police chiefs to provide security cover to Panches and Sarpanches during their visit to respective constituencies. 

The Kashmir Monitor had broken the story about Panchayat members’ reluctance to visit their constituencies due to alleged militant threats.

A top source in the divisional commissioner Kashmir’s office said Sarpanches and Panches have told government that they are scared to visit their constituencies.

 

“They have told the government they live under constant fear and are unable to review the developmental works,” he said.

Sensing danger, the government directed district development commissioners and district police chiefs to make adequate security plan for Panches and Sarpanches during their visit to constituencies.

“Prior to their visit, they have to inform the concerned SHOs so that necessary security arrangements are put in place,” the source added.

Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, and Security, Munir Ahmad Khan, said directives have gone to DCs and SSPs to ensure security of Panches and Sarpanches.

“Wherever they (Panches and Sarpanches) need security, they can approach concerned SSPs and DCs. They have been assured of security cover when they intend to visit their respective constituencies,” Khan told The Kashmir Monitor.

Centre has announced to release Rs 3700 crore for Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir, of which around Rs 1000 crore stand released so far.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently stressed for empowerment of Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir.

 Panchayats, in addition to being involved in the selection of eligible beneficiaries for various government welfare schemes, can get Rs 50 lakh-80 lakh per year for implementation of key national schemes such as the National Health Mission, Samagra Shiksha, etc.

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ACB registers 60 cases in 2019: Top babus, politicians under investigation for graft

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Oct 22:  Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has gone whole hog against corrupt politicians and government officials and registered 60 cases under different anti-graft laws in 2019 across Jammu and Kashmir.

Official details accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that the ACB has registered 29 cases in Kashmir and 31 in Jammu in 2019 so far. Some of the cases have been registered against top politicians and bureaucrats in the state.

Cases were registered against deputy mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, J&K Bank and government officials for “illegal appropriation of subsidy with inflated project cost for establishment of CA storage at Lassipora, Pulwama”.

 

The anti-graft has also registered a case against former chairman of the bank for allegedly misusing his position. A case has also been registered against former Director Archives and Archaeology Department for allegedly misusing his position by ordering enhancement of consolidated wages without authorization.  

A case has also been registered against former directors of Rural Development Department Jammu for allegedly misusing official position and causing loss to state exchequer. The anti-graft body has also registered a case against former Managing Director JAKFED for misuse of official position.  It has registered a case against a Naib Tehsildar in Srinagar for allegedly misuse of official position.

The anti-graft body has registered a case against former senior town planner and former commissioner municipal corporation Jammu.  They have been booked for alleged criminal misconduct, abuse and misuse of their official position as public servants.

The ACB has also booked Divisional Manager of State Forest Corporation (SFC) Udhampur in a graft case. A case has also been registered against former Assistant Commissioner Development, Rajouri on corruption charges.

Last year, Governor Administration set up ACB to combat corruption in Jammu and Kashmir.  Later The ACB was given more teeth to take on highly influential people.

An official of ACB said that there are complaints against several top government officials for their involvement in corruption. “Some are still at an initial stage and action would be taken in next few weeks,” he said

Governor Satya Pal Malik had said that “Anti-Corruption Bureau won’t spare anyone even those who are part of big political parties.”

Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam had said the establishment of ACB would do away with the shortcomings and multiplicity of roles in the existing anti-corruption mechanism operational in the state.

“The ACB has been empowered. It is as powerful as CBI. The government has strengthened the ACB so it acts against powerful people,” he had said.

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Govt employees of UTs of J&K, Ladakh to get all 7th CPC allowances from October 31

Monitor News Bureau

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SRINAGAR, OCTOBER 22: The Union government on Tuesday issued orders announcing that the employees of the new Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — will get salaries and other benefits as per the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission from October 31.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has approved the proposal of payment of all 7th CPC allowances to the government employees of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh, which shall come into existence from October 31, 2019.

The move will benefit 4.5 lakh government employees who are working in the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir and will become the employees of UT of J&K and UT of Ladakh from 31 October 2019.

 

The annual financial implications of 7th CPC allowances like Children Education Allowance, Hostel Allowance, Transport Allowance, LTC, Fixed Medical Allowance etc in respect of 4.5 lakh government employees of existing State of J&K shall be Rs 4800 crore tentatively.

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