The Human – Sharks & State of ATSs

Munsyari. Post publication of 'Becoming Part of Solution' in the Garhwal Post and its wide circulation through various media channels, including the print, one has seen sudden activism on the part of local representatives and some district level officials. In the border regions like Munsyari it is rather rare that senior district level officers take time off from their cozy seats in offices and move about, touring remote areas on-foot. The recent deepening of what many have now named the HELI-CULTURE ( some call it HELL – CULTURE, in its 'pahari' etymological variation ) has made touring on foot all the more un-necessary and avoidable. The net result is that the senior level of district officers like the district magistrate, the Chief Development Officer ( CDO ) and the Additional District Magistrates ( ADMs ) are mostly seen when VVIPs like the Honorable Governor or the Chief Ministers visit these places.

Succession of Surprize Inspections 

So it was a bit of a surprize for this writer to see a fleet of official vehicles on the Munsyari-Milam road as he was heading towards the Tiksen bazar to take part in the Inaugural function of the Johar Club. The CDO finding me on the road stopped the vehicle and informed me about his visit to what is popularly called the ATS, the Ashram Type School, near Namjala, and the various short-comings that he found there. Of course, as I was in a hurry not to be late, I could not brief myself fully. However, I did thank him for this trouble that he had taken to visit the ATS and hoped that situation will improve. It was the next day that the details of this surprize visit hit the Dainika Jagaran front page ( visual and story attached ) along with the News of the Month, namely the reprehensible details that have recently hit all channels and the print media over the June 2013 Kedarnath disaster relief related details, and its aftermath. On that event and what all needs to be perhaps attended to, later.

It so transpired that I happened to meet in a late function hosted on the occasion of Johar- Munsyari Doctors' Association CME ( Continuing Medical Education ) programme that I happened to meet the dynamic Chairman of Uttarakhand Van Vikas Nigam, Harish Dhami – remember the local MLA who vacated his Dharchula Seat for Chief Minister Harish Rawat ? As Chief Minister Harish Rawat could not make it to the Inaugural of the Diamond Jubilee Football Function of the local Johar Club, it was Harish Dhami, the former local MLA who did the honours. Harish Dhami, over the dinner, narrated me the various short-comings that he encountered in a surprize visit to the same ATS, as he had idle time on hand, as he was in Munsyari to attend the tournament.So, the CDO Goswami's surprize inspection was actually not the first surprize visit to the ATS, as I thought. It was a quick follow-up surprize visit after Harish Dhami had undertaken the first one. So much the better, as it is now hoped that the citizens of Munsyari at least will not have to make a visit to one institution, namely the ATS, to find out how they could be helpful in bringing their problems, and those of the poorest ST students, to the notice of the Tribal Development department, district Pithoragarh officials, and so on and now the public representatives and the senior officials have taken upon them to share this major responsibility of the local citizens. However, as the Munsyari citizens have recently discovered that there are as many as 27 local offices, supposed to be functioning from Munsyari !


27 Local Public offices in Munsyari

So the first outcome of the visit of Munsyari Citizens to the office of Deputy Education Officer cum Khand Shiksha Adhikari ( see Garhwal Post article on Becoming Part of Solution by this writer ) has been a series of surprize visit to the ATS, Namjala, first by the former MLA and now Chairman Van Vikas Nigam , followed quickly by CDO Goswami ! One is informed that yet another surprize visit of Harish Dhami has also found the doctors under the PPP arrangement of the CHC Munsyari, also quite short of his and contractual expectations. Well, the Johar-Munsyari Doctors' Association, an entirely citizen-centric effort, on the part of local medical professionals has been going on for the last nine years now. What the much-hyped Medical & Health department effort on the part of the state has failed to achieve is sought to be done by both young and old doctors, who stay here for some full one week, visit remote parts of the block and try to provide various kinds of medical relief, including follow-up. Harish Dhami's.surprize visit to the CHC, Munsyari also discovered various shortcomings, mostly related to the services that the contracting party was supposed to provide. That also makes it one less institution that now requires to be visited by the Munsyari Citizens under its becoming Part of Solution Campaign. As regards the number of local public and government officers it has come as a major discovery for the citizens and we are still trying to trace their postal address, the staff posted there, and whether they have the mandatory Right to Information Notice Board, supposed to be displayed in a most visible way, giving the names of the Public Information Officer  ( PIO ) etc, before we approach each of the remaining offices. More about this Office Census, later.

The PPP of CHC Munsyari     

When Governor Dr KK Paul was here in Munsyari on his inaugural visit, he himself sought out the doctors who have been available under the PPP package, and had an extensive discussion with them. Which was a very welcome initiative on his part. When this writer called on him he also suggested that the PPP experiment be give some time to take root and no hasty reviews be taken, on short term short-comings, as one keeps hearing from other locations, particularly Lohaghat etc. 

It is the good fortune of Munsyari that some of its most senior medical professionals, including Dr Janardan Singh Pangtey, former Director General of Medical and Health, Dr Lal Singh Tolia, former CMO of Champawat and Dr Martolia, from the para-medical health services , have opted to work under this PPP contract. there can be no gainsaying that with the presence of such senior former medical professionals the attendance of patients has improved significantly. Dr Janardan Singh Pangtey, in particularly, with his vast knowledge about the entire medical and helath system, has been very sincerely trying to remove one obstacle after another. What all that the CMO Pithoragarh and Director Health, Kumaon, Dr Upreti, who met this writer recently, need do is to make maximum use of the presence of these senior medical professionals for over all improvement of the situation here.

For example the incomplete building infrastructure of staff-quarters ( see the visual ), which hits the eye of any visitor to this CHC, is not only an eye-sore but a riddle which has remained unsolved. Why no inquiry has been made for the loss of public money, must be in crores of rupees, that has been caused, and the resultant impact on lack of quarters for the staff been completed after so many years ? How come when the District Magistrates and Chief Medical Officers come in-tow with the Governors or the Chief Ministers they fail to take such highly visible eye-sores effectively addressed ? How come this un-finished staff-building remains unfinished and guiltty un-punished, are some issues that even Harish Dhami and now Chief Ministers Harish Rawat may be asked by the Munsyari Citizens. 

CHC Incomplete Building

There is no doubt that the PPP has been a major improvement in so far as the hitherto unspeakable state of medical and health state, that used to define Munsyari, now seems to be partially addressed, a lot yet remains to be done. This un-finished staff-quarters, un-opened medical equipments which fill the stores, the inoperative instruments, the list is long and quite tire-some.  

Our ATSs

Harish Dhami, over the Johari-Munsyari Doctors' Assocaition's Continuting Medical Education programme dinner recalled that he was also present, then as a young citizen himslef, when this writer laid the foundation stone of the same ATS, near the GGIC Namjala, as the then Forest & Rural Development Commissioner ( FRDC ), in 2002. A the FRDC this writer also looked after the Social Welfare department, of which the Tribal Development, was then a part. The ATSs in early 2000 were a bye-word for all kinds of scandals, one could possibly think of. This writer remembers, when as the Hill Develpment Secretary he visited the one at Joshimath, in Garhwal, he found that the ATS was being run, on the main Badrinath Highway, in four shops that one sees along the main road, and the young children were made to sit in these window-less and sans ventilation 'class rooms'. The exercise-books distribution, their dresses, etc etc was not only in utter shambles but a major source of corrupt-practice. The Director of Tribal Affairs, of UP then, had just passed the same way, 'inspected the ATS' giving full-marks to the Social Welfare officer, and hurried towards the Badrinath-dham 'darshan' ! Uttarakhand, then, by and large was visited by officers of UP Government, mostly during the summers, when the 'baba-log' wished their officer-parents to take them to the mountains, for their much-awaited summer vacations.

Separation of Uttarakhand from UP, for many years was bemoaned by many civil servants, as now they had no place to take their children, and family, during the summer months. Most of the 'inspections' were conducted in the manner this writer has just described, he himself inspected, soon after the Director had left, on has hurried journey to Lord Badrinath. After the state was formed, one of the first thing that was done by the FRDC Branch, was to commence construction of model buildings for each of eight or nine, ATSs of Uttarakhand. this writer recalls when the then Secretary Tribal Affairs, Mr Varma, asked this writer for his one advise that he could complete during his short tenure, he was advised to ensure a suitable structure for each of these ATSs. Varma took this up as a mission, and that had brought this writer to the foundation-stone laying ceremony, Harish Dhami, recalled the other day. An interesting tail-pice of this mission-mode construction of all ATS buildings is that the vested interests, which included the departmental officials in collusion with the house-owners who had rented their buildings for these ATSs, tried their level best to delay completion of these new buildings, later physical shifting of Schools to the new buildings, even after these had been handed over, as much as they could !

Un-raveling of all such nefarious deals and their sordid details would make all individuals who were deeply involved in all such dilatory tactics, including the staff of the ATSs and the department of tribal affairs, not to forget the house-owners of the rented ATSs who are honoured citizens of Munsyari, Johsimath and so on, makes one feel ashamed of the level to which humans can stoop to make a few thousand rupees, while the children of the poorest sections of the society suffer, appear like human-sharks, living off the poorest families of this ' Dev-bhumi '. 

This surprize inspection has only revealed that such human-sharks are still around and the sordid deeds, and sick-mindsets, that one witnessed during the much-maligned UP days are not only not over, but very much alive and kicking. 


On being informed about the shocking inhuman behaviour of several officers, both of the local origin as well as many who perhaps wore uniforms of various hues, who entertained themselves with very pricy milk and non-veg dishes during one of the worst natural disasters known in Uttarakhand 's history, procured by out ever-obliging Tourism Nigams, reportedly quipped  " One does not destroy charpais because they are infested with bed-bugs ( Khatmals)", hopefully will ensure that the sleep-less nights that these bed-begs are bound to cause are reduced to the minimum, and the human-sharks that are prowling fearlessly, devouring un-finished buildings, dresses and diets meant for our poor ST students, also do not feel safe and secure, as the waters that nurture these human-sharks are limitless, unlike the finite charpais, which are amenable to speedy Begon- treatment. The human-sharks need trained hunters, permission to hunt and above all, a Strong Will to hunt such human- sharks  !

R S Tolia

Late Dr. R.S. Tolia, Ph.D., was former Chief Secretary ( 2003-05 ) and Chief Information Commissioner ( 2005-10) of Uttarakhand. He also served in various voluntary positions after retirement and devoted his time for Mountain Development Agenda.

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