Red tape delays blankets for poor

UP govt cleared Rs 15 cr to spread warmth, tender process in limbo

Even as thousands of homeless and poor face a bitter winter and 37 have died due to cold in Uttar Pradesh, an official scheme to provide them blankets has run into a bureaucratic wall.

Officials admit that while the government had timely cleared the Rs 15.56 crore for purchase of blankets, the process of even tendering has not yet started in the entire state.

Sources say the tendering began only this week and that too just in 17 districts. To help the poor who face the winter without any ‘warm cushion’, the Samajwadi Party government released Rs 15.65 crore — at Rs 5 lakh for the blankets and Rs 1.56 lakh for bonfires for every tehsil.

A government order was issued to district magistrates to complete tendering and purchase formalities by mid-December so as to ensure that blankets were distributed to the poor and homeless before winter set in.

Officials were also asked to distribute the blankets in special camps in all districts. While the mercury has now dipped below 4 degree Celsius in many districts, both the bonfires and the free blankets are still missing.

Urban development minister Azam Khan, flooded with complaints of lack of facilities for the poor to fight the inclement weather, was forced to issue a written warning to officials to expedite the processes.

Blanket purchase has not started in Moradabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Bareily and Varanasi. To avoid any corruption, it has been instructed that government-run handloom centres should be preferred over private players.

The government has also fixed the weight and size of blankets and earmarked a maximum of Rs 500 per blanket. Instructions were also issued to identify the homeless, poor, physically challenged and old by December 10 and prepare a list for distribution of the blankets by December 15.

Three more die

Three persons died in the past 24 hours in different parts of Uttar Pradesh as cold wave conditions prevailed across the state, One death each was reported in Lalitpur, Gorakhpur and Muzaffar Nagar, official sources said.Lowest temperature in the state was 3.2 degree Celsius recorded at Fatehgarh.

According to the Met office, maximum temperature was below normal by 6 to 11 degrees  over many parts of the state.

 ELSEWHERE

Mercury dips in desert state

Cold wave conditions gripped Rajasthan on Wed-nesday with mercury plummeting across the desert state, reports PTI from Jaipur. Churu recorded the lowest temperature of 2.5 degree Celsius followed by Sriganganagar at 4.1 degrees. In the hilly region, Mount Abu recorded 2.4 degrees, according to the Met department here. Pilani, Chittorgarh, Bikaner, Dabok and Jaipur recorded minimums of 3.7, 5.3, 6.1, 6.5 and 6.8 degree Celsius respectively. Cold conditions would remain the same during next 24 hours, the Met office has predicted.

Snowfall likely in Valley

If you are planning to head to the Kashmir to usher in the new year, you are most likely to be greeted by snowfall, reports PTI from Srinagar. “There is a possibility of widespread snowfall in the Valley from December 29,” a spokesman of the MET office said on Wednesday.

The news is sure to bring smiles on the faces of holiday makers who are camping in the Valley, especially the famous ski resort of Gulmarg. Light rains and snowfall are expected at isolated places in the Valley during the next 24 hours,

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