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Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh seems to have adopted a unique method to win over the impoverished and exploited population in Jharkhand's forested and remote areas that are under Maoist sway - holding eye camps.
'Poor children, youth and old people are suffering from eye problems. Such camps can inculcate confidence among villagers, particularly among children and youth, that the government is concerned about them and their health and studies,' an official told IANS of the camps Ramesh has been organising as a means to penetrate areas that are controlled and dominated by Maoist rebels. The latest camp, to be held in Latehar district July 30, is linked to the Saryu Action Plan in Latehar and neighbouring districts to fight Maoist guerrillas. It will be organised in association with Ranchi's Kashyap Eye Memorial Hospital.
Bharti Kashyap, director of the hospital, told IANS: 'Jairam Ramesh will inaugurate the eye camp. The camp is a continuation of our series of eye camps focussing on children living in Maoist-infested areas.' Around 2,000 people of 12 panchayats will be checked for eye problems by 200 local teachers who have been trained by the hospital's optometrists in taking vision tests in schools to identify visually challenged children. Kashyap said the State Bank of India has assured financial assistance for cataract surgery on 50 patients in Latehar district.
Ramesh had first launched the Saranda Action Plan in Jharkhand's West Singhbhum district under which the central government provided funds to 2,750 Ho tribals to build houses under the Indira Awas Yojna. Singhbum had for long been the headquarters of the CPI (Maoist). In January, an eye camp was organised at Maoharpur block of West Singhbhum district. In Maoharpur of West Singhbhum district, the hospital had checked 1,000 patients and found that over 32 percent of them had cataract. Doctors from the hospital - in association with Red Cross - had operated on 250 people, including children, restoring their vision.
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