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India: Roll Back Steep Hike In User Fee In NTPC Hospitals


ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME
Hunger Alert General: AHRC-HAG-001-2013

Click here to send an Urgent Appeal Letter


20 March 2013
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India: Roll Back Steep Hike In User Fee In The NTPC Hospitals

ISSUES: Right to food; inhuman and degrading treatment; hunger, starvation, corruption; impunity; rule of law
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding an indefinite hunger strike (fast unto death) undertaken by the people affected by the steep hike in user fee in the Sanjeevani Hospital run in Shaktinagar by the National Thermal Power Corporation. The AHRC has learnt that project affected people have taken to this lost resort after more than a month long struggle that failed to move the authorities for rolling back the hike despite repeated assurances. The hospital is only one catering to thousands of the people living in the area. Most of these people are the ones displaced by the NTPC projects and extremely poor to survive such hike. The hike would lead to a mammoth increase in their out of pocket expenditures on medical care and would expose them to a vicious cycle of debt and bondage, the main reason behind chronic hunger in the area.

CASE NARRATIVE:

The National Thermal Power Corporation, in an order dated 01.02.13 ordered a mammoth increase in user fee in hospitals run by it. The 400 hundred to 600 per cent hike in the user fee includes the costs of operation, consultation fee, Intensive Care Unit charges, bed charges, admission charges, emergency services among others.

The hike is adversely affecting thousands of people of Shaktinagar in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh as they are completely dependent on the Sanjeevani Hospital of the NTPC. Sonbhadra, in turn, is one of the most impoverished and backward districts of Uttar Pradesh. A large section of its population is comprised of the Kol community, recognised as a Scheduled Tribe in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh but a Scheduled Caste community in Uttar Pradesh.

Most of the people dependent on the hospital are project affected people displaced by development projects of the NTPC, the National Coal Limited and Govind Ballabh Pant Water Reservoir. Many of them were small farmers before turning into daily wagers owing to their displacement by these projects. In case of falling sick, not in the least because of the pollution created by these projects, the only hospital they have is the NTPC hospital as the other hospitals are located in Varanasi, more than 200 kilometers away.

Being daily wagers, most of the people are very poor and live a hand to mouth existence and any unseen expenditure on serious sickness is made out of their pockets, which in turn are empty. The illnesses, thus, force them to borrow money from local moneylenders at exorbitant rates and push them into a debt bondage trap. Seen in this light, the user fee hike exposes the people to chronic hunger and malnutrition and is a serious misadventure of a Maharatna company earning thousands of crores of rupees in profits. Least it can do in such a scenario is to give free medical services to the people displaced by it.

This is why the steep fee hike caused a large scale popular anger and galvanised the people into protest. Concerned with the impact of such popular anger in this Naxal insurgency affected area, the District Magistrate wrote a letter to the Chairman of the NTPC in February and requested him to roll back the hike while conceding that the people in the area were too poor to bear the additional costs. The NTPC, however, ignored the request and that led to a complete shutdown of the markets in the area.

This is what had resulted into local people taking to the last resort of going on indefinite hunger strike from 19 March, 2013. The district administration, though, approached the protesters yet again and requested them to give it more time for making attempts to resolve the issue. In pursuance of the assurance, the Additional District Magistrate of Duddhi, Sonbhadra wrote another letter to the District Magistrate asking for his intervention in the issue by directing the General Mangers of NTPC Singrauli and Rihandnagar to resolve the issue fearing that failing to do that may lead to serious deterioration of law and order in the district.


SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the authorities mentioned below demanding immediate intervention asking for the roll back in steep hike in the user fee at the hospital run by the National Thermal Power Corporation.
To support this case, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Roll back steep hike in user fee in the NTPC hospitals

Name of the victims: Residents of Shaktinagar and areas surrounding it
Place of incident: Shaktinagar, Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh.

I am writing to you regarding the steep user fee hike by the National Thermal Power Corporation in hospitals run by it that would diversely affect scores of people dependent upon them for their medical needs. As you might be aware of, the NTPC, The National Thermal Power Corporation, in an order dated 01.02.13 ordered a mammoth increase in user fee in hospitals run by it. The 400 hundred to 600 per cent hike in the user fee includes the costs of operation, consultation fee, Intensive Care Unit charges, bed charges, admission charges, emergency services among others.

The hike is adversely affecting thousands of people of Shaktinagar in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh as they are completely dependent on the Sanjeevani Hospital of the NTPC. Sonbhadra, in turn, is one of the most impoverished and backward districts of Uttar Pradesh. A large section of its population is comprised of the Kol community, recognised as a Scheduled Tribe in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh but a Scheduled Caste community in Uttar Pradesh.

Most of the people dependent on the hospital are project affected people displaced by development projects of the NTPC, the National Coal Limited and Govind Ballabh Pant Water Reservoir. Many of them were small farmers before turning into daily wagers owing to their displacement by these projects. In case of falling sick, not in the least because of the pollution created by these projects, the only hospital they have is the NTPC hospital as the other hospitals are located in Varanasi, more than 200 kilometers away.

Being daily wagers, most of the people are very poor and live a hand to mouth existence and any unseen expenditure on serious sickness is made out of their pockets, which in turn are empty. The illnesses, thus, force them to borrow money from local moneylenders at exorbitant rates and push them into a debt bondage trap. Seen in this light, the user fee hike exposes the people to chronic hunger and malnutrition and is a serious misadventure of a Maharatna company earning thousands of crores of rupees in profits. Least it can do in such a scenario is to give free medical services to the people displaced by it.

This is why the steep fee hike caused a large scale popular anger and galvanised the people into protest. Concerned with the impact of such popular anger in this Naxal insurgency affected area, the District Magistrate wrote a letter to the Chairman of the NTPC in February and requested him to roll back the hike while conceding that the people in the area were too poor to bear the additional costs. The NTPC, however, ignored the request and that led to a complete shutdown of the markets in the area.

This is what had resulted into local people taking to the last resort of going on indefinite hunger strike from 19 March, 2013. The district administration, though, approached the protesters yet again and requested them to give it more time for making attempts to resolve the issue. In pursuance of the assurance, the Additional District Magistrate of Duddhi, Sonbhadra wrote another letter to the District Magistrate asking for his intervention in the issue by directing the General Mangers of NTPC Singrauli and Rihandnagar to resolve the issue fearing that failing to do that may lead to serious deterioration of law and order in the district.


I, therefore, urge you to

1. Ensure that the steep user fee hike is rolled back with immediate effect,
2. Ensure that the community is consulted with before making any decisions that drastically affect the people,
3. Ensure that the NTPC and other companies honour their corporate social responsibility.

Sincerely,
_______

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
Click here to send an Urgent Appeal Letter


1. Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minster
Government of India
Room No. 148 B, South block, New Delhi.
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 230116857; 23015603
Email : manmohan@sansad.nic.in

2. Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi 110001
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 2338 4863
E-mail: chairnhrc@nic.in


3. Dr. Rameshwar Oraon
Chairperson
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
6th Floor, 'B' Wing, Loknayak Bhawan, Khan Market
New Delhi -110003
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 2462462
Email: chairperson@ ncst.nic.in


4. Chairman,
National Thermal Power Corporation
NTPC Bhawan,
SCOPE Complex, Institutional Area, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi - 110003
FAX NO.: +91 11 24361018
EMAIL: info@ntpc.co.in

5. Shri Akhilesh Yadav
Chief Minister
Mukhyamantri Niwas
Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
FAX: +91 522 2239234
EMAIL: cmup@up.nic.in

6. Shri Chandra Kant
District Magistrate
Sonbhadra
Sonbhara
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
FAX: 05444-222090
EMAIL: dmson@up.nic.in

Thank you

Hunger Alerts Programme
Right to Food Programme (foodjustice@ahrc.asia)
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Click here to send an Urgent Appeal Letter

Visit our new website with more features at www.humanrights.asia.

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ENDS

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