Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 25:
Taking note of the non-responsive attitude, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued conditional summons to the Collector and District Magistrate of Odisha’s Khurda district Niranjan Sahu for his personal appearance on April 19.
However, the apex rights body provided him an opportunity that his personal appearance shall be dispensed with if the requisite report is received on or before April 12.
Acting on a petition filed by rights campaigner Subash Mohapatra of Global Human Rights Communications, the apex rights body issued the conditional summon under section 13 of the Human Rights Protection Act.
The matter pertains to allegations of death of eight persons due to denial of safe drinking water in Singpur and Balsingh villages in Bolagarh block of Khurda district.
“The villagers face acute drinking water crisis. Due to excessive fluoride in the water and absence of alternative, all the 800 villagers were severely affected by fluorosis which resulted in disability and deaths. It has affected life and community. They are stigmatized and discriminated. No one from neighbouring villages is willing to marry their daughter off in the affected villages. It has not only affected them financially or physically, but also created havoc among the villagers over the deaths,” Mohapatra pleaded the facts and circumstances.
“Pursuant to the directions of the rights body, Collector and District Magistrate submitted a report along with some annexure which were not legible. He was requested to submit a legible copy of report but in vain, which irked the rights body,” Mohapatra lamented.
“The Commission takes a serious view of non responsive attitude of the Collector and DM, Khurda, and asks its Registry to issue summon to the Collector and DM, Khurda, under section 13 of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, to appear before the Commission on April 19 at 11.00 am along with requisite report in the matter. Should however the requisite report be received by the Commission on or before April 12, the personal presence of the Collector and DM, Khurda, shall stand dispensed with,” the rights body directed.
Notably, 68 deaths were reported in last five years. In a span of 11 months from October 2013 to August 2013, eight persons have died due denial of safe drinking water.