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NHRC seeks Gujarat govt reply on what has been done to rehabilitate silicosis victims

The People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), a Vadodara-based health rights organization, has regretted that the Gujarat government has not taken any action for prevention or policy for rehabilitation of the state’s silicosis victims, forcing the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to a issue notice seeking reply.
While NHRC recommendation for paying Rs4 lakh to the families of the deceased workers was accepted by the state government, it had also suggested several steps to prevent the deadly disease. As it did not receive any reply on this score, it sent a notice to send a report of 6 weeks on the implementation of the recommendations.
NHRC recommendations include closure of agate work done in residential areas as the Madhya Pradesh government did in Mandasaur; formation of a board for the welfare of workers; prior the government’s environmental nod to start an agate unit; and minimum wages to agate workers.

Narmada water remains contaminated, Gujarat govt "changed norms" to declare it fit to drink

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The Lokshahi Bachao Andolan, a Gujarat-based civil rights organization headed by former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta, has alleged that the state government has changed the minimum acceptable standard of drinking water from 500 milligrams per liter of TDS to 2,000 milligrams, risking the health of crores of people of Gujarat. Pointing out that the permissible limit for water has been changed in “10 of the 13 norms”, addressing media, its members said, “The total hardness has been increased from 200 to 600.”
Prof Hemantkumar Shah, a senior economist, alleged, quoting Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB) data, that “all the standards for water, color, turbidity, calcium, magnesium, chloride, sulfate, fluoride and alkalinity etc. have been revised upwards, in some cases for up to 200 per cent, while in other cases by 400 per cent.”
Suggesting that this has been done against the backdrop of Narmada waters getting contaminated, Mahesh Pandya, a senior environmentalist who hea…

Coal India one of world's 16 top cos “exposed" to risks of human rights violations, climate liability

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Coal India, with an annual coal production of 538.8 million metric tonnes, ranks No 1 of all the world’s coal producing units. Revealing this, a high-profile civil society report, “Banking on Climate Change: Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2019” has said that Coal India is among 16 top coal producing companies 16 key companies “exposed to potential risk due to human rights and climate liability.”
China’s National Energy Investment Group ranks No 2 with an annual coal production of 510.0 million metric tonnes, followed by China Guodian Corporation producing 171.6 million metric tonnes, Datong Coal Mine Group producing 167.0 million metric tonnes, and China National Coal Group producing 159.3 million metric tonnes.
The 15 key companies other than Coal India exposed to potential risk due to human rights and climate liability identified by the report are Energy Transfer, Drummond, TransCanada, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell, BP, Peabody, Total, Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, National Ir…

Book by India's well-known anti-communalism campaigner to be released on March 31

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Organised by two civil eights organizations, Plural India and Anhad, a book authored by a well-known anti-communal campaigner Ram Puniyani, former Professor IIT Mumbai, is set to released ahead of the elections, "India in Communal Grip", on March 31 in Delhi.
Dealing with most of the issues which took place with coming of Modi-BJP coming to power, the book claims to show how the values of Indian Constitution and Indian ethos are being undermined.
Blaming "sectarian ideology espoused by Modi-BJP", the book is said to focus on the threats of sectarian politics in the name of religion and by the "imperialist aggression" for the lust of oil. Among those who will spek at the book release function include human rights leaders and experts Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander, John Dayal, Shabnam Hashmi and Syeda Hameed.
Puniyani, says a communiqué, is a writer activist, working on the issues related to preservation of democratic, plural values in the society. He has been re…

Document 'Reclaiming the Republic' to be discussed with political parties

Top civil society networks, National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI), National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Right to Food Campaign (RTF), Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and Satark Nagrik Sangathan(SNS) have announced their decision to discuss the document  ‘Reclaiming the Republic’ and several other manifestos developed by campaign organizations with representatives of political parties.
In a joint statement ahead of the meeting on March 25, they have said that these documents bring together "the most urgent actionable reforms needed to protect and strengthen the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity." The meeting will be held from 2:30 pm to 5 pm at the Indian Social Institute, Lodhi Road, Delhi, and major civil society participants include Prashant Bhushan, Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey, Dipa Sinha, Kavita Srivastava and Meera Sanghmitra.

India ranks worse than Pakistan, China, Bangladesh in World Happiness Index: UN report

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In a shocking revelation, all of India’s neighbours – China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar – rank better than India in the World Happiness Index, worked out by independent scholars under the aegis of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions network in part the Ernesto Illy Foundation.
Ranking 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be, the report which provides the ranking says, India ranks 140th, as against Pakistan 67th, China 93rd, Nepal 100th, Bangladesh 125th, Sri Lanka 130th, and Myanmar 131rd.
Identifying India as one of the “significant losers” along with Venezuela, Malaysia and Ukraine, the report says, the entire South Asian region showed “a drop of a full point, from 5.1 to 4.1 on the 0 to 10 scale, driven mainly by the experience of India, given its dominant share of South Asian population.”
The report continues, “The five largest drops since 2005-08 were in Yemen, India, Syria, Botswana and Venezuela, with drops o…

First ever reduction in male workforce in 2017-18 since 1993-94: Govt of India report

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In a stark revelation, a Government of India's yet-to-be released report has said that, for the first time since 1993-94, the actual size of India’s male workforce, or men who are working, has shrunk. Data from the National Sample Survey report, "Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFC) 2017-18", says that there were by 28.6 crore employed males in the country during the year.
This, it is reported, is the first instance of a drop in the male workforce that steadily swelled from 21.9 crore in 1993-94 to 30.4 crore in 2011-12 when the last NSS survey was conducted. This suggests fewer men were employed in 2017-18 compared with five years ago.
The decline in actual numbers occurred, again for the first time since 1993-94, in both rural and urban male workforce. The slide is steeper — 6.4% — in the rural areas compared to a 4.7% setback observed in the urban sector.
The yet-to-be-released PLFS report put the unemployment rate for male in urban and rural segments at 7.1 per cent a…

Elections 2019: Civil society network WNTA plans activists' meet on March 23

Well-known civil society network, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (WNTA), has asked activists across India to join an event it has planned for March 23 -- the day of martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru – for its campaign "Desh Mera, Vote Mera, Mudda Mera" it has launched in order to work out a strategy for the 2019 elections, saying Indian democracy is at a “critical moment”, and even as real and substantive issues had begun to surface, “suddenly the focus has been shifted national security.”
Insisting that “there seems to be a deliberate attempt to keep the focus on emotional issues so as to avoid critical scrutiny”, WNTA in its appeal to activists said, “The first and foremost duty of a citizen is to prevent this derailment and bring the focus back on real issues such as unemployment, farm distress, rising inequality, hate crimes, condition of marginal communities and deficits in the basic welfare provisions.”
Pointing out that “while it is for political parties to contes…

India No 2 in natural resource extraction, causing adverse impact on environment: UNEP

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A recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Resource Panel (IRP), “Global Resources Outlook 2019: Natural Resources for the Future We Want”, has raised the alarm that 10 economies across the globe, including India, are responsible for over 68 per cent of global extraction of resources today.
Expressing serious concern that more than a third of all materials in 2017 were extracted in China, the report states, the country is “followed by 7.6 per cent in India and 7.1 per cent in the United States.”
At the same time, the report says, while Europe “generates 20 per cent of the global resource-related value added, impacting just 5 to 10 per cent on the environment, India’s resource-related value-added in 2017 was just 4 per cent, but its environmental impact was as high as 7 per cent.
The report comments, “This inverse pattern of domestic resource-related value added and environmental impacts may be a sign of varying environmental standards, bu…

Pak scholars' invite to world Urdu meet cancelled because Islamabad promoted terror: Govt

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Close on the heels of former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju strongly objecting to the cancellation of invitations to Pakistani scholars for the three-day World Urdu Conference to begin on Monday in Delhi, the Government of India organizers have come up with the explanation that this was as a consequence to "the way Pakistan has been indulging in cross-border terrorism."
To be inaugurated by Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Human Resource Development, a chief organizer, National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) vice-chairman Prof Shahid Akhtar, told media that there will be participants from Canada, Russia, France, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Denmark, Japan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, and Mauritius, apart from 40 Urdu scholars from around the country.
"Urdu is a window to the cultural heritage of Indian ambiance of harmonious bonding between one and all", he said, adding, the subjects to be discussed would include “Urdu as a Medium of Instruction: Primary t…