Poor visibility on NH-1
Put up digital warning boards, cops to NHAI 
Vishal Joshi
Tribune News Service

Panipat, January 3
Following the identification of certain accident-prone spots during winter season on the NH-1, the state highway police has urged the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to install digital warning boards displaying foggy and other climatic conditions at different places on this busiest road of the region.

Additional inspector general of police (highways), Rajpal Singh told The Tribune that with the help of the experts at least five high-risk points had been identified on the stretch between Panipat and Ambala along the GT Road.

Interestingly, all of these high-risk zones, often engulfed with dense fog, are located near the canals or other water bodies.

According to an official data, each year about 3,500 persons die in road accidents. During 2007, as many as 525 persons lost their lives in 1,000 road accidents on the NH-1 alone. In 2006, the figure of fatal accidents was 575 from the total 1,025 road accidents.

Among the identified accident prone areas are the stretches near the drain in outer Panipat from where the Karnal toll road starts, road near Karna lake, near Nilokheri and the NH crossing through Markanda and Tangri seasonal rivulets near Shahbad and Ambala towns, respectively.

Rajpal Singh further informed that watery fields along the GT Road also caused foggy conditions. He said experts opined that due to the rising sun, road conditions between 4 am to 7.30 am often lead to poor visibility, making the motorists vulnerable to mishaps on the NH-1. The study revealed that the water channels and dried up but damp areas along the highway also lead to hazy visibility.

To bring down the rate of accidents due to hazy climatic conditions, the state highway police has chalked out a safety plan. 

Call 1033 for help

AIG Rajpal Singh has appealed to the public to help the accident victims or call accident helpline at 1033. While assuring that the helping hands would not be indulged in unnecessary legal tangles, he said one could call him directly if harassed by policemen in anyway. 



Panel for tough anti-foeticide steps
Y.P. Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act should be amended to make it compulsory to have only one entry and exit point of ultrasound centres. This is one of a set of recommendations made by a three-member group set up by the Bhiwani district administration to study the practical difficulties being faced by the enforcement agencies while implementing the Act.

The group was headed by deputy commissioner T. Satyaprakash and comprised Dr Karan Singh Rathor and Dr Randeep Singh Punia.

Satyaprakash says since the doctor carrying out abortion and the patient both are women, members of the raiding parties often face the risk of being accused of misbehaviour and sexual harassment.

In a majority of cases, the sex determination tests take place at “house-cum-nursing homes”. Invariably such premises have more than one entry. When a raid is conducted, the patients are escorted out from one or another exit. Even the ultrasound machine, if unregistered and portable, is smuggled out of the nursing home before the raiding party takes charge of the situation. Hence, the need to have one single entry and exit point for such buildings. When multiple agencies are involved it is very tough to keep the operation secret.

The group has recommended that no person who is not a registered medical practitioner should be allowed to handle ultrasound machines and attend pregnant women.

The “proxy use” of the ultrasound machines should be banned. Usually, it is found that in record a radiologist is employed to handle the machine. However, in reality an untrained person or a person without requisite qualification works on that machine. The lock and key of the machine should be with a qualified radiologist and not with the owner, if the radiologist and the owner are not the same. Only those machines that have memory of more than 100 impressions should be used. It should be made compulsory to store impressions for at least one month and be sent to the appropriate authority.

It should be mandatory for the doctor to give detailed reasons for the need for an ultrasound examination.“Foetus well-being” is commonly stated as the reason, which is too broad to define. It should also be made compulsory to send all F-farms and OPD entries to the appropriate authority within a week. 



Staff shortage hits Panipat hospital
Vishal Joshi
Tribune News Service

Panipat, January 3
Bhim Sain Sachhar Civil Hospital here is a glaring example of pitiable healthcare facilities in the state.Notwithstanding the tall claims of the state government about several healthcare schemes, the only government hospital located on the GT Road in the state is being run by just two medical officers.

The hospital, which is tasked to provide health services to over 10 lakh people of the district, has 12 sanctioned posts of medical officers (MOs).

Inquiries reveal that the patients, mainly migrant workers engaged in different industrial units in the district, suffer delayed treatment as the authorities have turned a blind eye to the problem despite repeated reminders and requests by the hospital.

The state of affairs can be judged from the fact that there is no surgeon in the hospital. Sources confirm that patients have to depend on the only surgeon posted at the PHC, Samalkha, who visits the hospital once a week.

Interestingly, five MOs are reportedly absent from the duty regularly for past three years but the health department is yet to take a decision about them and thus these posts have not been replaced.

Doctors posted at nearby primary health centres have been serving at the civil hospital on rotation as a stopgap arrangement.

One doctor is reportedly deputed at the MLA hostel, Chandigarh, to look after the VIPs whereas another MO is on duty at the Haryana Police Academy, Madhuban. In the absence of specialists, including surgeon, anesthetist and gynecologist, patients are forced to take expensive treatment at private nursing homes. With no radiologist, the ultrasound machine is gathering dust.

Nearly 400 patients visit the OPD daily, besides scores of accident victims from the vulnerable NH-1 are brought here daily. 



Life begins at 60
Sunit Dhawan
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, January 3
At an age when the majority of people tend to adopt a laidback approach towards life, a group of senior citizens here has decided to take up the cause of their lesser-privileged brethren. These enthusiastic elderly residents have now got their group registered as Senior Citizens Council.

The council has prepared its agenda for 2008, which includes ensuring improved health facilities for senior citizens, surveying the rural areas to study problems being faced by them, organising seminars and essay contests on issues pertaining to the elderly and so on.

The council members, including Dr Prem Singh Dahiya, Umed Dalal, S.N. Sawhney and Dr J.S. Malik, have aptly chosen “Life begins at 60” as their motto. The executive members of the council include Prof Baldev Singh, Prof D.R. Chaudhary, N.S. Malik, S.C. Dhawan, Dr Suraj Bhan and V.S. Phougat.

“Our aim is to work for the welfare of senior citizens in particular and society in general,” says Dr Dahiya, president of the council. He maintains that the union and state governments have started various welfare schemes for the senior citizens, but most of these remain on paper. 



Political battle cries to get louder
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hisar, January 3
The New Year will see political battles that began in 2007 develop into full-scale wars as different political parties and personalities try to consolidate their respective positions in the penultimate year of the Congress government’s term.

Politically this is a very crucial year because 2009 will be the election year in Haryana. The state will go to polls before March 2010. The election year normally witnesses further cementing of the public opinion in favour of or against political parties and leaders, which is shaped over the previous four years. Thus, 2008 will be the last year in which politicos can hope to consolidate their position.

The most crucial battle that will develop into a full-scale war will be fought between Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his bete noire Kuldeep Bishnoi who challenged the former in November last year right in Hooda’s backyard. This war will witness the use of all political “nuclear weapons”, including defections, subterfuge and money power.

Last year, Hooda kept sniping at the Bhajan Lal camp by making deeper and deeper incursions into the latter’s home district, Hisar, and more specifically the Bishnoi pocket borough of Adampur. The Bishnois responded by staging a massive rally at Rohtak. It will not be long before the two camps start warring again with greater political force.

This year, the Bishnois will have to fight for their political survival. They also need to keep up the political tempo they had built up towards the fag end of 2007 against Hooda to stay in the political mainstream. At the same time, Hooda will need to keep their influence in check in the crucial current year. The scenario promises a full-bloodied war in the months to come.

On the other hand, Om Parkash Chautala and his private army, Indian National Lok Dal, will engage the Congress and Hooda in a no-holds-barred war in the Jat battlegrounds of Rohtak, Sonipat and Jind. The Congress had snatched this vote bank from Chautala and Hooda was rewarded for the feat with the office of the Chief Minister. Having concentrated mostly on other areas in 2007, Chautala is certain to use all his political muscle power to win back the Jat belt.

But both Bishnois and Chautala will have to buy the support of allies before they are ready to wage their wars. Chautala has never come to power without the BJP right from the days of his late father Devi Lal. This time round the BJP is showing all signs of staying away from him although Chautala is now desperately trying to forge another albeit opportunistic alliance.

Bhajan Lal camp faces a similar dilemma. The Bishnois will have to rope in either the BJP or Mayawati’s BSP to increase their firepower, their claims of going it alone notwithstanding. There have been rumours of alliance with the BJP right from the beginning of Bishnois’ anti-Hooda campaign.  



Power utility plans big with small transformers
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Jind, January 3
Even as the district tops the line losses list in the state, the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN) has announced to replace the existing large-sized transformers with smaller ones to contain the problem of snags in the supply system. Jind alone accounts for 78 per cent of the state’s total line loss.

The small transformers would be able to supply power to a group of 4-5 households only and it would prove not only energy efficient but also help tracking down line losses and power thefts as the supply is being redirected through the newly introduced high voltage distribution system (HVDS).

The department has already spent Rs 1.14 crore in the district in setting up the HVDS in both rural and urban pockets.

According to senior officials of the department, the work of erecting power lines and installation of new distribution transformers through the HVDS has already begun. This work in the second phase has recently been started which would be covering about 24 villages and colonies. It would cost Rs 74 lakh.

The areas to be covered by this network will include at least 15 villages, identified as Hassanpur, Sirsa Kheri, Rajpura, Ponkhari Kheri, Brar Khera, Khatkar, Uchana Kalan, Mohammed Khera and Singhpura. The residential colonies to be covered under the new system include Mando Colony, Hakikat Nagar, Daya Basti, Kaithal Road, Shivpuri and Indira Vikas Colony.

The Nigam also plans to implement the HVDS in the “model” villages of Dumarkha Kalan, Danoda Kalan and Danoda Khurd. Technical feasibility of nearby Lohchab village was also being carried out. The department has already completed the work to cover several villages and colonies, including Dhani, Shadipura, Karamgarh, Akalgarh, Shri Rag Khera, Jiwanpur Khera, Baganwala, Indira colony near Kalayat, Harijan Basti near Khatkar, Phulain Khurd, Bhatt Patti, Badowala, Bidrana, Daroli Khera, Rampura, Apollo Road, Bhuslana, Kheri Taloda, Ram Colony, Chander Lok Colony, Sheeta Puri, Anand Parvat and Rambir colony.

Regarding the distribution system, it is revealed that the nigam has decided to install small transformers of a capacity of 16 and 25 KVA instead of the existing 63, 100 and 200 KVA, which would soon be replaced in all areas covered by the HVDS. As the new transformers would supply power to 4-5 households or connections at one time, the nigam would find it easy to replace the faulty ones while keeping a check on the power supplied and the units billed.

It is claimed that the HVDS would prevent line losses, as no one would be able to resort to “kundi” connections, a major cause of line loss. 



Saroj sets her aim at rifle shooting
Sushil Manav

Fatehabad, January 3
Saroj Chauhan, a student of BA final year of the local Government College for Girls has made Fatehabad proud by exhibiting excellent performance in the intervarsity rifle shooting championship that concluded recently at Yamunanagar.

Kurukshetra University, the team that Saroj represented, got silver medal by securing second position in the championship.

Saroj, a daughter of a sub-inspector, took to rifle shooting last year despite the fact that her college had no infrastructure for this event. There is no shooting range and neither are there any sufficient rifles for practice.

But Saroj resolved to excel in the sport and started learning the art of aiming targets from Sube Singh Chauhan, a government coach in the sports department that has its office in the stadium adjacent to the college building.

In the absence of a shooting range, Saroj started practicing on a wall of the college with the guns provided by her coach. Her efforts bore fruits and she was selected a member of Kurukshetra University rifle shooting women’s team. The other two members of the team were from Shah Satnam College, Sirsa.

Precise aiming by Saroj and her teammates won the university second position in the intervarsity championship.

After her successful participation in the championship, as many as four premier colleges of the state have offered her free admission to Masters in Physical Education course.

For now, Saroj is concentrating on her game and studies and says she will think about the future course when time is ripe for that. She is all praise for the college authorities for encouraging her.

Ashok Bhatia, principal of the college, has been providing all possible support to its sportspersons so that they could excel in the events they represent.

However, coach Sube Singh rues that the government does not provide sufficient facilities to the sportspersons and adds that had Saroj been provided the facilities needed in rifle shooting, she could have performed even better. 



Safidon emerges as hub of paddy cultivation
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Jind, January 3
Safidon, a little-known subdivision of the district, has emerged as a hub of paddy growers and rice exporters over the past few years.

The farmers, who had been growing the traditional Kharif and Rabi till a couple of decades back, have now changed the entire scenario by taking to paddy farming in a big way, which has lead to the conversion of this sleepy subdivision into an important rice producing centre of the Haryana.

The total annual business of paddy in the subdivision and the district has already reached around Rs 125 crore, which includes exports worth Rs 100 crore. The district has a total of about 24 rice mills of which leading rice shellers are located in the Safidon area.

The union government that had banned the export of 1121, a prominent variety of non-basmati rice, which have been a main item of export from the region and the state, withdrew the decision in view of resentment and protest by the farmers and the exporters recently. Though the government officials claim that the ban aimed to check the rising prices of the rice variety, the farmers here claim that the growers have been getting good price in the market, much above the MSP, due to high demand of such varieties across the border.

The 1121 variety has changed the fortunes of many farmers and traders as it fetches a price between Rs 1,800 and Rs 2,150 per quintal and there has been a rise in the farming of such variety over the past few years, claims Subhash Jain of the Rice Shellers Association of Safidon.

Jain says for the cultivation of varieties other than traditional parmal, farmers of the area brought about a sea change in the paddy farming, which has helped the subdivision to emerge as an important rice centre of the North India.

While the parmal variety fetches an MSP of Rs 725 per quintal, the sarbati and non-basmati varieties get three times the price and is procured mainly by rice mills and exporters, says Sandeep Malik, a commission agent in the grain market here.

The countries where the rice is being exported from Safidon include the UK and the US, besides several West Asian countries.

The first rice sheller in the district came up in 1930. The local grain market attracts growers of the neighboring areas, as it is claimed that good variety fetches better rates here. Though the number of rice shellers has decreased, the volume of the business and production of the existing ones have gone up several times in the past two decades, says an official of a rice mill here.

Majority of the shellers have acquired the latest machinery, which helped them achieve new targets each year, he says, adding that there are over 25,000 persons involved in the business.

No wonder the majority of the agricultural land in the region is under paddy cultivation. A major negative fallout of this trend is the heavy damage to the underground water table, which had gone down severely over the years. The problem can be gauged from the fact that one tube well was recently dug at a depth of about 810 ft in a village of the subdivision.

As paddy is a water-intensive crop, the farmers have to depend on tube wells for farming. But the state government has recently declared the area as “dark zone” and banned new tube-well connections, says an official, admitting that it might affect the paddy cultivation if proper and alternative sources of irrigation are not made available.



Ambala City parks repel visitors
Suman Bhatnagar

Ambala, January 3
Most of the parks in the city either located in HUDA sectors or in municipal council’s periphery are in such bad shape that nobody relishes the visit there. Around one lakh residents of the urban area do not have any recreational place where they could spend their leisure time.

There are around 12 parks in Ambala city. The most eye-catching park is the Municipal Park, located near the main bus stand close to the Ambala-Hisar road. The park, which is surrounded by a lake, spread over 9 acres and looks like an island. In the beginning, even boating facility was available, but now the lake lies in a state of neglect and weeds have covered the water body.

The municipal council, which owns the park, initially maintained it. Around five years back, it handed over the part to a private contractor on lease so that the park could be maintained in a better way. Initially, the contractor beautified it in a fine way. A mini zoo, swings and a toy train were also set up in the park. The lake was also cleaned up and the boating venture was re-launched.

However, a dispute arose between the municipal council and the contractor over some issue last year. The council cancelled the lease of the contractor, who challenged the decision in the SDM court which is still pending. The dispute, however, dealt a harsh blow on the park. The greenery of the park is vanished. The colourful fountain located in the middle of the park has not been working for the past several months. The garden can be seen littered with garbage. Some of the trees and shrubs are drying up. A part of the park that was meant for amusement of children has been turned into vehicle parking.

Prem Nagar Park is another example where the public facility is lying deserted for the past several years. The park spread over 5 acres is in the worst condition. Other parks situated in various sectors of HUDA are also in pitiable condition. Various political parties use one of the huge park of HUDA located in Sector 8 for rallies as not even a single sapling has been planted in this park during the past one decade.

Recently, the forest department has converted a piece of land near officers’ colony into an herbal park in a very attractive way. The other parks of the city, too, can be developed in such manner. 



Kaithal village shifts to CFL
Satish Seth

Kaithal, January 3
Dherru village has become the first village in this district to switch over to 100 per cent CFL. This village is among the 10 cluster villages selected under the IREP programme where the power-saving scheme of the state renewable energy department is being implemented.

Giving this information, Ramesh Verma, ADC-cum-CEO of the DRDA, said earlier this village was also selected by the state government for awarding first prize in this district for using maximum solar energy devices. A cash prize of Rs 50,000 was given to the village panchayat by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda recently.

The village sarpanch, Hoshiyar Singh, said they convinced the villagers to conserve energy and do away with traditional bulbs which consumed more electricity. Verma said during a function held at this village the villagers vowed to use only CFLs and discard the use of traditional bulbs. As many as two CFLs were distributed free of cost to each household in the village. The ADC said this village had also been recommended for the Nirmal Gram Puruskar. 



Cancer institute revs up hope of poor
Nawal Kishore Rastogi

Rewari, January 3
With its several vital specialties as well as cost effective, comprehensive and qualitative treatment, the Dr S.S. Yadav Ram Bhagwan Charitable Institute of Cancer Management and Research, Mirpur (Rewari), has proved a boon for poor cancer patients and patients having complications and other bone deformities and diseases.

Not a week passes when one or more such poor and hopeless patients from remote parts of Haryana, Rajasthan and other states come to this hospital to seek riddance from their painfully complicated ailments.

To quote a few instances in this regard, a poor and small farmer of Pukharpur village of Gurgaon district, Sube Singh (42), who had been suffering from a persistently festering boil in the lower part of his accident-fractured left leg, was successfully operated upon on December 28, by orthopedic surgeon Dr S.S. Yadav. The surgeon removed the 7-inch long steel plate that had been causing putrefaction of the leg for the past over 10 years.

Sube Singh told The Tribune that after he suffered a bone fracture in a road accident in November 1989, a steel plate was inserted in his fractured leg. However, the leg ulcerated and started seeping soon after. He said when he failed to secure treatment from various government hospitals in Delhi, he came to Mirpur where he found his saviour in Dr Yadav.

In a second such case, a poor farmer, Mohammad Jameel (28) of Roopda village of Mewat district, who had developed a complicated knot in his leg damaged in a road accident about a decade ago, had been told by several noted orthopedic surgeons of Delhi that the leg would have to be chopped off if he wanted relief.

However, his good fortune brought him to Mirpur where the knot was removed through a successful operation conducted by Dr Yadav about four months ago.

The cancer institute, located at Mirpur village, 10 km from Rewari, was established in 1999 on six acres of land that was donated by Dr Yadav. According to Dr Yadav, during the past eight years, the institute has treated over one lakh patients, who came from different parts of the country. He asserts more than 40 per cent of these patients were poor and had complications.

The institute offers latest treatment for cancer, comprising advanced surgery, radiation therapy (Cobalt-60) and chemotherapy. This is probably the only institution in a rural set-up, anywhere in Asia, where a comprehensive treatment of cancer is available under one roof.

With the second phase of its construction nearing completion, the number of beds in the hospital will be raised from 50 to 100. Besides, an emergency block with an emergency operation theatre and a labour room, three standard operation theatres and a qualitative ICU, with a functional strength of six beds, have been added.

Simultaneously, other specialties like orthopedic surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, surgery, medicine and anaesthesia have also been operational right from the inception of the hospital. While a DNB postgraduate course in orthopedic surgery has been going on at the hospital, the first batch of trained nurses from the institute’s school of nursing, started in 2004, would be passing out shortly.

A new diagnostic block is now under construction that would house radiology department with digital X-rays, ultrasound, mamography, CT scan and MRI. Simultaneously, blood bank and dialysis unit are also in the pipeline.

The union defence ministry has empanelled the institute for the treatment of ex-servicemen. It has also provided a high-tech ambulance.

Similarly, a three-storeyed daharamshala with 40 double-bed rooms is at the service of the relatives of the patients. A well-equipped chemist shop and a branch of Punjab National Bank have also been functioning on the campus.

The hospital is running under the stewardship of Dr Yadav, who is a recipient of 14 national and five international academic awards. He was a consultant orthopedic surgeon and former director of PGIMS, Rohtak, with specialisation in bone oncology and other difficult aspects of orthopedics. He has 150 publications to his credit in various national and international journals. He has also been the winner of the Dr B.C. Roy National Major Award as “Eminent Man of the Year-1995”.

A huge amount of Rs 35 crore, most of which came from public donations, has already been spent on this institute of excellence. 



Inside Babudom
2 DCs may get commissioner status 
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Administrative reshuffle in Haryana is on the cards in the wake of two deputy commissioners attaining the seniority of commissioners. Panipat deputy commissioner Mohinder Kumar and Sonepat deputy commissioner D.P.S. Nagal are both ready for postings in commissioner-level assignments.

IAS officers, both directly recruited and those promoted from the HCS, usually fret and fume when they are shifted to the secretariat from being DCs in a district where they enjoy absolute power. It, of course, does not happen if the shifted DCs are given decent jobs at the headquarters. Since Nagal and Kumar have both remained DCs (in more than one district) for long stints during the current Congress regime, it is likely that they will again get good jobs after being promoted as commissioners.

However, the present government has been noted for delaying the postings of officers. Elevation of Nagal and Kumar will necessitate finding their replacements. There will be plenty of officers who will be interested in becoming DCs of these two districts, both of which fall on the GT Road and thus considered “prime postings” by the aspirants. The government, though, may take its own time for zeroing in on who will be posted as the DCs in these two districts and keep promotions of Nagal and Kumar pending till it decides upon their replacements. Findings postings for Nagal and Kumar also will require an exercise and this, too, can lead to delay in their promotions.

Coming to the choice of deputy commissioners, the previous government headed by Om Prakash Chautala faced a lot of flak for posting large number of promotee IAS officers as DCs. This criticism was that promotee officers lacked the focus on development that the direct IAS officers possessed by virtue of their training.

Ironically, the practice has remained just the same in the present regime also. Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda used to talk a lot about system change in his initial days as the CM. But in most of the areas the system has remained just the same and the preference shown to promotees for posting as DCs is an instance of the continuity of the old system. 



Suri for Punjabi as second language
Nishikant Dwivedi
Tribune News Service

Yamunanagar, January 3
Following in the footsteps of his father, octogenarian writer Dr Kartar Singh Suri has dedicated his life to the Punjabi language. He has penned several collections of short stories, besides memoirs and research books and still working on more creative writings.

Dr Suri, who started his career as a lecturer of Punjabi at Panjab University, Chandigarh, has won several accolades for his writings. “My father Nank Singh ‘Novelist’, who is known as the father of Punjabi novel, is my inspiration,” says Dr Suri, who has settled in Yamunanagar where his wife used to teach the language at the DAV College for Girls.

Recently, his memoir “Amit Yaadan” won the best book award of the Haryana Punjabi Shahitya Academy. “Though the Haryana government has taken a laudable step by purchasing books in Punjabi penned by writers living in the state for libraries, it must make Punjabi the second language of Haryana,” says Dr Suri.

He, however, says, “Punjabi writers are frustrated as their condition is not good and future too seems to be bleak”. According to him, there are a large number of noted Punjabi writers but they are not getting encouragement either from the government or readers.

His noted publications include “Aarsh te Farsh”, “Bhagwan Mahenga Hai”, “Purana Pinjra” and “Prabhat Kirna”. He says Punjabi should be made compulsory in schools . 



Citizen’s Grievance
Anomalies in pension

I retired as a gazetted officer of the Haryana government on 31.12.2001. I have been getting pension since then through treasury officer, Kurukshetra via Punjab National Bank, Thanesar. However, the amount of pension kept of varying month after month for reasons unknown to me. For example: In August 2005, I got Rs 16,351; in September - Rs 5,023; in October - Rs 5,023; in November - Rs 34,588; and in December - Rs 14,680. The list is endless. I wrote several times to the authorities concerned, but to no avail.

Dr Avtar Narain Chopra, Kurukshetra

Readers write in

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