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Demand for action plan as lockdown improved ambient air quality in Gujarat

The Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) has found that there has been a considerable improvement in the ambient air quality during the lockdown in the Gujarat capital Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad’s Vatva and Maninagar areas, and two south Gujarat industrial towns, Ankleshwar and Vapi.
Citing an official report, Mahesh Pandya of the NGO Paryavaran Mitra said, while in Gandhinagar the pollution was already under control and things further improved, the PM10 – very small particles found in dust and smoke – in rest of the spots the air quality was considerably poorer than the prescribed limit set by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) before the lockdown, but improved, becoming almost normal during the lockdown.
In a letter to GPCB chairman Mukesh Puri, Pandya has demanded that, based on GPCB report, “We demand that GPCB formulate a comprehensive air pollution control action plan after taking a view of various stakeholders”. Five different parameters were analysed while studying the …

Ex-Govt of India secretary: Slums, informal settlements ignored during lockdown

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Dr M Ramachandran, former secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, has complained that slums and informal settlements have been “ignored during the Covid-19 pandemic”, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet schemes like Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat, Ayushman Bharat and PM Awas Yojana “have not been translated into practice.”
Participating in a webinar organized by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, to discuss the IMPRI survey of 3,121 households across 50 plus cities, Prof Govind Kelkal said, there are “increased incidences of domestic abuse and unpaid care work” during the lockdown. Prof Kelkal regretted, “Many workers have literally become beggars in cities and the complete spectrum of dignity of humankind seems to have been compromised.”
Held on May 30, this was the second webinar on the survey. The first one was held on May 27.
Sameer Unhale, commissioner of Ulhasnaga…

'Modi praising Ayushman Bharat means he admits govt hospitals have failed'

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Commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments during the Mann ki Baat radio broadcast, senior Gujarat environmentalist Mahesh Pandya has said while Modi did talk of minimizing the sufferings of the migrant workers, he decided to devote most of his time on his achievements.
Pandya, who heads the top environmental NGO Paryavaran Mitra, said Modi talked of nearly one crore Indians having benefit from the Ayushman Bharat project, which is a part of the Government of India’s National Health Policy that claims to provide free health coverage to the bottom 40% poor and vulnerable population.
Referring to the manner in which state hospitals are failing amidst Covid-19 crisis, Pandya said, “This means that Modi admitted that the government hospitals have turned into dungeons. Government hospitals are not being provided with necessary equipment, which is why they are unable treat complicated cases despite having competent doctors.”
Pointing out that the result is, the treatment of the …

MP govt's power purchase agreement with Adanis at 'highest ever contracted rate'

As many 28 civil rights and grassroots organizations, led by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) have opposed the Madhya Pradesh government for entering into an agreement with the Adani Group for setting up a 1,320 MW thermal plant in Madhya Pradesh, stating, this is being despite the fact that the state claims it has surplus electricity for the next 10 years.
Objecting to the power purchase agreement (PPA) by the Adani Power arm Pench Thermal Energy with the state government’s MP Power Management Company Ltd (MPPMCL) for procurement of 1,320 MW of electricity on a long-term basis (25 years), a statement by these organizations said, the agreement is “more expensive than the one entered into by the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP).”
“Reliance-controlled Sasan UMPP’s per unit rate is Rs 1.194, while Adanis’ per unit rate is four times higher, Rs 4.79 per unit, which is the highest ever contracted rate”, the statement claimed, add…

Restore 700 beds for poor in Ahmedabad's VS Hospital: Representation to PM

Pointing out that it is painful that the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has “abandoned” Vadilal Sarabhai (VS) Hospital, which can treat 700 Covid-19 patients, even as showing interest in acquiring beds in private hospitals, the civil rights organization, Nagrik Sashaktikaran Manch (NSM), has regretted that the VS Hospital’s “excellent infrastructure”, owned by AMC. Is not being put to use for the poor patients.
In a representation to the Prime Minister, Jatin Sheth, convenor, NSM, said, the VS Hospital, set up by Seth Vadilal Sarabhai, a close friend of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, has been a real temple in the service of the humanity almost for 90 years. Appreciating that “another hospital has come up in the VS Hospital premises looking to increased needs of the time”, Sheth said, “Today, when Ahmedabad has become a national hotspot for Covid-19, there is an increasing need for more hospital beds rising each day”.
Noting that the Gujarat High Court has “also questioned AMC aut…

Advise to 20-yr-old for live-in relationship: Gujarat HC comes to rescue of advocate

In a unique case, the Gujarat High Court came to the rescue of a Narmada-based lawyer against whom an FIR came to be registered on the ground that he advised a couple to enter into a live in agreement despite the fact that the boy was only 20 years and 6 months and not 21 years i.e. the legal age for a man to get married in India.
Justice RP Dholaria passed an order protecting the Petitioner Advocate from arrest and admitted the quashing petition.
Advocate Ronith Joy appearing for the Petitioner submitted that any person above the age of 18 can enter into an agreement/contract in India. A live-in agreement is very different from and cannot be tantamous to actual marriage. Advising a couple to enter into a live in agreement cannot attract punishment under Sections 10 & 11(1) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
The matter has now been posted on August 19, 2020

Withdraw criminal cases against poor during lockdown: Gujarat minority rights leader

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Gujarat’s minority rights leader Mujahid Nafees has asked chief minister Vijay Rupani to withdraw cases against those who allegedly violated lockdown regime, saying, majority of them are poor people, who did not have enough stock of essential items, or were not left with any opportunity to earn a living.
While it was the responsibility of the police to stop people from coming out and violate lockdown, Nafees, in a letter to Rupani, with copy to the leader of the opposition and the state home minister, said, “This also created many difficulties for the people. People were forced to come out to find a living. Those who belong to other districts or states were even more vulnerable.”
Pointing out that as a result of this, there have been reports of clashes between police and people in many parts of the state, Nafees said, criminal cases, including under the Disaster Management Act, were registered who wanted seeking to their home but were stopped, as also those who went out buying things…