The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued conditional summons to the Chief Secretary of the Government of Mizoram to appear before the Commission on May 31 along with the requisite reports on steps taken by the State on preventive and curative steps taken on "spread of cancer" in the State.
Considering the response from the State and investigation report on a petition, and rejoinder filed by Supreme Court lawyer and noted human rights activist, Radhakanta Tripathy, the Apex human rights watchdog has investigated the issue and passed the order recently.
The non-submission of the report would attract offenses under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Commission would be constrained to initiate criminal proceedings, as well as offences of Civil Procedure Code for willful omission to produce documents and to give information, as directed by the Commission, the NHRC in its latest order observed.
Tripathy has alleged that more than 3,137 people died in Mizoram, due to cancer during the last five years. No careful action was taken by the government to prevent the disease.
Pursuant to directions of the Commission, the Special Rapporteur investigated the case and submitted a detailed report with recommendations.
The NHRC observed the report of the Special Rapporteur, wherein it was informed that the situation was in an alarming state and appropriate steps were required to be taken by the State Government to prevent the disease and to save human life.
Hence the NHRC asked Tripathy for his comments and had also directed the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to provide medical equipments and medical workforce to address the problems of cancer patients in India in general and State of Mizoram in specific keeping in view the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur.
Tripathy requested the NHRC to ensure the basic human rights of the People of Mizoram on a war footing, and make the border area strong enough to check the smuggling of drugs which is dangerous for the people of Myanmar and India.
Tripathy had informed the Commission that as it was clear from the report sent by Special Rapporteur, that Mizoram was badly affected by cancer and the majority of the population was consuming tobacco, drugs, heroin, alcohol, etc.
Still, no effective steps had been taken by the authorities to curb the menace of cancer. Tripathy further alleged that the failure, negligence of the police, excise department and the drug inspectorate, had resulted in the spread of cancer in the State.
Proper infrastructure and facility were lacking in the State to deal with the situation, even the Centre had also not released the funds for the construction of 100-bed hospital and installation of a linear accelerator worth more than twenty crores lying at Kolkata.
Mizoram had become the route of smuggling of Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine drugs to Myanmar and Heroine, ATS, Injectible drugs from Myanmar, but no corrective / vigilance measures had been taken regarding this serious issue, Tripathy said.
Therefore the NHRC observed that both Central and State Governments were responsible for spreading of cancer in the State of Mizoram at such an alarming state.
In his rejoinder, Tripathy pointed out that the report clearly admits the State is badly affected by Cancer and the majority of the population is consuming tobacco, drugs, heroin, alcohol, etc.
Even if only about twelve lakh people live in the entire State the preventive measures such as supply, sale of tobacco, drugs, heroin, alcohol etc. has not been initiated in true sense and spirit for combating the menace of cancer, he said.
The amount spent from Chief Minister's Relief Fund and Prime Ministers National Relief Fund is meagre, Tripathy reiterated.
The communication facilities in rural areas of the state are very difficult to come down to the cities for early detection of the disease. Strong awareness drive is highly required to prevent the causative factors, he said.
( With inputs from ANI )
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