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Healthcare for BPL families

Good news for BPL families. Courtesy Dispur. The government is all set to introduce a total health care package for these families. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who is behind the entire initiative has directed the health department on Thursday to formulate a comprehensive policy for such families.

Under this package, the government will facilitate the BPL families with free medicines and treatment in the government and private hospitals. He further asked the department to ensure availability of medicines in all government hospitals.

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Railways’ electrification may result in losses

17 Feb 2009 - 7:02pm | Daya Nath Singh
Indian Railways have planned early electrification of entire tracks in the country without imagining the problems to be faced by the people in future. So long the government’s scheme to electrify all the villages of the country is not properly implemented and most of villages are still waiting to see the light of electricity. Side effects of the Railway’s hasty decisions may put the country in great problems. The government should re-think about the plans and programmes and should not try to implement it for political gains.

It may be noted that every electric locomotive of 4.5 MW (6000 HP) deprives 15,000 households of their electricity needs and 14.7 percent villages in the country are yet to get electricity.

Every electric locomotive of 4.5 MW introduces 4,500 highly inefficient small generating sets, which cause more pollution and consume six times more fuel than a diesel locomotive.

World’s modern and advance economies like USA and Canada have less than one percent electrification against Indian Railway’s 41.7 percent.

All profit making Railways of the world are having predominately diesel traction, while all loss making Railways are predominantly electric traction Railways.

Diesel loco hauled passenger trains are 41 percent cheaper than electric hauled trains.

Electric traction requires huge capital investment of Rs.63 crore per loco in overhead wires, Transmission lines, and power plants as against Rs.3 crore only on diesel traction.

Energy bill of Railways for the year 1998-99 was more than Rs.2800 crore for hauling about sixty percent freight traffic and fifty percent passenger traffic against fuel bill of about Rs1500 crore for the balance BG traffic.

As per Executive Directors’ Committee set up by the Board in 1996, the Break even level is 49.72 GMT (Gross Million Tonnes) per annum. Sections currently being electrified have 5-10 GMT of traffic density.

For the price of 100 energy units (kWh) one could buy10.9 liters of HSD in 1963 against 41.2 lures in 1999. This amounts to a 16 times hike in diesel prices while electricity prices have gone up by 60 times in the same period.

Gujral Committee of 1990 recommended 214 kilometers of electrification per year. Current rate is 2.33 times.

Electrification projects are being justified based on inflated rate of return (ROR) worked out on the basis of wrong assumptions- benefits are overstated and costs understated.

As per Railway Board’s norms, projects with a minimum ROR of 14 percent should be undertaken (Railways are borrowing money through IRFC at about 17-18 percent). Electrification projects such as Ludhiana-Amritsar and Patna-Gaya which are now being undertaken are having RORs of only 4 percent and 6 percent respectively, even as per calculations made by the Central Organization for Railway Electrification taking wrong data. The actual RORs calculated on the basis of correct figures for expenditure as well as benefits turn out to the highly negative. In the case of Ludhiana-Amritsar electrification project, Planning Commission had also commented that such projects are likely to eat into the national wealth rather than generate additional wealth.

No post-complexion evaluation of benefits was ever done on any of the electrification projects. World Bank report of 1995 concluded that the rate of return on two of the busiest sections of Indian Railways i.e. Vijaywada-Balharshah and Jhansi-Itarsi was on two percent and nine percent as against the projections of 41 percent and 23 percent respectively.

Fifty three percent of total price of HSD goes to the government exchequer in the form of various levies-Customs/Excise, Cess etc.

If the losses of SEBs are amortized, the cost of energy to the consumer including Railways will be much higher.

Indian Railways are losing Rs.1900 crore per year on account of electrification, Rs.600 crore per year as running losses (due to higher operating costs on electric traction as compared to diesel traction), besides Rs1300 crore per year as the interest on capital cost of electrification.

Unviable electrification is resulting in crippling of railways fiancés. The operating ratio (expenditure divided by earnings) for Indian Railways, which was 82.5 per cent in 1995-96 has deteriorated to 98.8 percent for 2000-01 (as budgeted) even while Railways will be deferring their dividend payment to the Central Government during the year. In case dividend is paid, operating ratio would be beyond 100.

When electrification projects have ceased to be justified based on breakeven level of traffic of 49.7 GMT as well as 14 percent ROR, other reasons are being given to undertake these projects. For instance, electrification of Ludhiana-Amritsar section is sought to be justified for security reasons. The truth is that overhead wires as well as other traction installations, such as sub-stations etc; are highly vulnerable to attacks by terrorists. Similarly, electrification of Patna-Gaya section is ostensibly being done to cater for suburban passenger traffic. This section, which is a single line section, hardly has any traffic and carries only five pairs of passenger trains everyday and just one goods train in a day. Diesel traction in any case is cheaper for passenger services.

Contrary to popular perception electric traction is more polluting than diesel traction.

The ‘green house’ gases emission in case of power generation from coal is 26 percent higher than that for a diesel locomotive for the same amount of power generated (UNDP study). Considering the transmission losses associated with the distribution of power, electric traction is about 65 percent more polluting as compared to diesel traction.

Generation of one MW of power requires ten tones of coal everyday. Since coal in India has an ash content of 40 percent, this results in generation of 4 tonnes of coal ash everyday. Thus, one electric locomotive requiring 4.5 MW of power is responsible for generating of 18 tonnes of coal ash everyday.

National awards for Debajit Changmai and others from Assam

21 May 2011 - 6:19pm | Abdul Gani

Debajit Changmai of Assam has won national award for the year 2010 for re-recording of the final mixed track of Hindi film ‘Ishqiya’ in the 58th National Film declared in New Delhi. Besides Changmai, ‘Jetuka Pator Dore’ won the Rajat Kamal award for best Assamese film. Altogether six people from the northeast got the award.

Debajit who hails from Sivasagar got the award for merging voices, location ambience, background music and other sound effects to create a near-tactile experience that is both real and artistic.

“I’m extremely happy at this. I always wanted to do something at the national level. I think my hard work paid off. It was a long and hard journey since I landed in Mumbai in the year 2002,” said an ecstatic Debajit from Mumbai.

Meanwhile, Jadumoni Dutta directed ‘Jetuka Pator Dore’ won the Best Assamese film. This time only two entries were there, the other being ‘Jaangfai Joonak’ by Sanjib Sabhapandit.

It was selected for a heart-warming portrayal of the rural landscape with an emphasis on the need for self-reliance in the process of development.

“It is a beautifully made film on the importance of work culture and how collective efforts can do wonders,” said Chandan Sharma, who worked on the subtitles of the film.

Debajit’s success came after another Assamese youth Amrit Pritam won the award last year with Resul Pookutty for Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja. Debajit happens to be the batch mate of Amrit Pritam at Jyoti Chitraban Film Institute in Guwahati.

“It’s great that one more Assamese technician has won the national award for the second consecutive year working in a film outside. Both are very talented, and it's a great feeling that these two Assamese youngsters have won national awards one after the other,” said noted film critic Utpal Borpujari.

“I’m sure more people from Assam in the coming years will win awards for films made outside the region, seeing the way the number of our boys and girls working in the film industry. But I would be happier if they get the opportunity to work in quality Assamese or other ethnic language films from NE and win such top awards for such films,” Borpujari said adding that however, artistic work does not require linguistic or regionalist boundaries, and quality work gets recognized everywhere, as Debajit and Amrit have proved.

But, he expressed concern that compared to the other parts of the country Assamese film industry is lagging far behind.

“There were just two entries from Assam this time – ‘Jetuka Pator Dore’ and ‘Jaangfai Joonak’ -- out of which one got the Rajat Kamal for best Assamese film. It actually reflects the sad scenario of Assamese cinema that the best has to be decided from the two films,” the veteran film critic rued.

“In case of Malayalam or Marathi or Tamil or Bengali films, the best regional language film will have to be decided from among probably at least 30-40 films,” he further said.

Abducted teacher returns home

25 Nov 2012 - 2:10am | Ritupallab Saikia

Gobind Goswami, the Head Master of No.2 Kowani Paharline LP School who was abducted from his school premise by a group of some unidentified miscreants on 21st November, was able to free from the custody of his abductors on November 22 night. Goswami somehow managed to reach home today evening and has been admitted to Kushal Konwar Civil Hospital. His brother Kamal Goswami, informed the media, that Goswami after fleeing from the hideout of his captors had covered a long distance on foot and arrived at Silonijaan in Karbi Anglong district from where he got in a bus to Juria Dolong. From there he contacted his family over a phone which he had borrowed from some person. On being asked if any ransom had been paid, Goswami’s brother flatly refused any such claim but admitted having received ransom demand for a hefty sum of thirty lakhs. Meanwhile, the OC of Golaghat claimed that due to intensive combing operation in the area Goswami has been able to return home and he suspected the hands of AANLA ultras behind this abduction.