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Ahmedabad not open defecation free, visit slums near Gandhi Ashram to verify: Manav Garima

Gujarat’s grassroots organization working among the Valmiki community, Manav Garima, has disputed the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) claim that the city has become open defecation free. In a statement, Manav Garima convener Parsottam Vaghela has said that one has only to visit the slum area along the Chandrabhaga Bridge, next to the Gandhi Ashram, to verify whether it is true.
On either side of the bridge, situated in Vadaj area of Ahmedabad, the slums have no working toilet facility, nor is there any drainage connectoin, the statement said, adding, women and men alike go out to defecate in the open. There are public toilets, but they are unusable, as they do not have any doors, and there is no running water connection.
As a result, the statement estimates, about 500 people to out to defecate in the open in the wee hours. “This is not the only spot where the situation is so bad”, it said, adding, “All of it is a mockery of the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan.”

Activists, workers sit on dharna in Madhya Pradesh for free flow of Ganga, Narmada

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Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activists and representatives of the workers of Century Mills sat on a day long dharna in Khargone, outside the Century Mills, in support of Swami Atmabodhanand, who is on indefinite hunger strike since October 24, 2018 for ensuring free flow of Ganga river. Atmabodhanand is a disciple of Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand, who died on October last year following his 112 days' hunger strike for the cause of Ganga.
In a letter to Union water resources minister Nitin Gadkari following the dharna, the activists say, Ganga is one of the main rivers of the country on which dams have been built, thus creating hurdle in their free flow of water. Several major dams have been built on Ganga, and about 54 more have been proposed, out of which 24 dams have been stayed by the Supreme Court. If the remaining 30 major dams are built, Ganga will not survive.
As a result of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, the letter states, sea water has been gushing 70 km into the Narmada river, a…

30 bonded labourers freed in Chhattisgarh

Kanuni Magdarshan Kendra (KMK - Legal Guidance Centre), Raipur, Chhattisgarh, has obtained the freedom for 30 bonded labourers with the help of the police. All of them migrant labourers, they are residents of Balodabazar district. The group includes minor children. According to these workers, they worked in a brick kiln unit, whose owner would threaten them on the point of a gun if they wished to choose elsewhere to go and work.
KMK coordinator Shobharam, said, “All the accused have been booked under Sections 370 and 34 of the Criminal Procedure Code”, adding, “Efforts to free them was continuing since November 24, 2018. On December 31, 2018, they were brought the KMK office n Raipur, following which legal actions were taken against the accused. The workers reached Balodabazar on January 14, 2019. It is a legal victory for KMK, Chhattisgarh, too.”

Only 10% villagers aware of rights of gram sabhas: Village elders' meet in Narmada valley told

A special conference of panches, sarpanches and representatives from villages of Narmada valley at Arjun Karaj, Badwani district, Madhya Pradesh, held under the auspices of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), regretted that only 10% of villagers were aware of the rights of gram sabhas. Those who participated at the meet included NBA leader Medha Patkar, senior advocate Anil Trivedi, Manvar MLA Dr Hiralal, and Badwani district panchayat president Manendra Patel.
The Constitution has provided more powers to gram sabhas than state assembly or Parliament, asserted NBA activist Mukesh Bhagoria. Villagers pointed out how gram sabhas were being bypassed. A village panchayat janitor takes register to each household, and thumbs impression is sought in order to pass a resolution. This way, gram sabhas are never summoned. Nothing is done to call meetings to solve problems.
If Dr Hiralal regretted that lack of awareness about the rights bestowed to gram sabhas leads government to allow acquisitio…

Minority rights leaders detained in Ahmedabad, had planned protest against Modi

Gujarat civil society organisation Minority Coordination Committee (MCC) leaders -- Mujahid Nafees, Shakeel Shaikh, Danish Khan, and others, who had planned a protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the VS Hospital -- were detained on Thursday afternoon. They had wished to highlight the alleged failure of the Gujarat government to implement "development needs" of minorities, who form 11.5% of the state's population.
An MCC communique said, the Gujarat authorities were "so scared" of the protest against the Prime Minister, whom MCC members had planned to give a memorandum of demands, that the leaders were picked up for detention from their residence at 3 pm, an hour before the protest was planned. Insisting that the Prime Minister "cannot suppress our voice", MCC claimd, "Our demands are all in consonance with international treaties signed by the Government of India."
Meant for the development and protection of minorities, the main…

Delhiites force cancellation of public hearing for waste-to-energy plant in a densely-populated area

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In what is being described as a victory in a big war against pollution in Delhi, people of the south-western district of Delhi have forced a scheduled public hearing for expanding a "waste-to-energy" power plant from 16 MW to 40 MW. The Delhi Pollution Control Board (DPCB) and the District Magistrate faced such a situation for the first time, says a civil society statement following the cancellation.
The major reason for people from different societies, including Sukhdev Vihar, Jasola Vihar, Abul Fazal, Haji Colony, Gaffar Manzil, Shahin Bagh and other places was that it was being held in violation of the Environment Assessment Notification dated September 15, 2006, according to which it should have been held near the project site, but it was kept at quite a distance.
Being implemented in an area where more than a million people live and there are several major educational institutions and hospitals, the project would cause pollution in the region, the civil society group…

Quash FIR against Dalit academic Anand Teltumbde: Petition to Modi

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Karthik Navayan Battula, a human rights activist, has started a petition to be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to quash the “false” FIR and not to arrest Prof (Dr) Anand Teltumbde, a well-known academic. An alumnus of IIM-A alumnus, IIT Professor, and associated with several top public sector and private undertakings, he is facing imminent threat of arrest as an ‘Urban Maoist’.
The appeal for quashing the false FIR against Dr Anand, filed by the Pune Police was rejected on January 14 by the Supreme Court and gave four weeks to seek pre-arrest bail from the competent court. The petition says, “The arrest under the UAPA can mean years of incarceration.”
“The arrest for him is not simply the hardship of prison life, it is keeping away from laptop which has been integral with his body, from his library which has been part of his life, half-written manuscripts of books committed to various publishers, his research papers which are in various stages of completion, his st…