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Showing posts from July, 2018

CRZ Plans: Paryavaran Mitra notes Gujarat govt "indifference" towards holding public consultations

Gujarat’s well-known environmental NGO Paryavaran Mitra has asked the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) to transparently hold public consultations in the coastal areas for preparing state-level Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP). In a letter to the GPCB member-secretary, the NGO director Mahesh Pandya has said that this is necessary in accordance with the state’s Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011. Following the preparation of the draft CZMP, it would be obligatory to get it approved from the Government of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change.
Taking objection to the state government’s and GPCB’s indifference towards preparing CZMP, Pandya has said, so far, the GPCB has still not put details of public consultation on its website, nor does it has put a summary of the CZMP draft on the site. In fact, says the letter, the Gujarat Ecology Commission and the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority has also not put up a summary of the CZMP dra…

1400 hectares of 145 villages to be acquired for Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train

India's top civil rights network, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (BAA), has estimated that the Japan- backed Bullet Train Project known as Mumbai –Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor aims to acquire 1400 of hectares (ha) tribal-agricultural land. In a statement ahead of a seminar in Delhi, BAA said, of this 350 ha will be acquired in Maharashtra and the rest in Gujarat.
"This is divided into 7,000 plots, in 195 Villages in Gujarat and in 104 villages in Maharashtra", it says, adding, "The project covers three district in Maharashtra and eight in Gujarat, besides a small area in Dadar & Nagar Haveli."
The seminar is being held against the backdrop of sharp protests in Maharashtra and Gujarat against the Rs 1.08 lakh crore project. BAA wonders whether India should spend so much of public money for the bullet train to run on just 508 km, to be used by well-heeled passengers, when 90% of rail passengers in India travel by sleeper class or lower class for thousands o…

Gujarat farmers not paid MRP for chickpea, to agitate

Raising sharp questions over the way the authorities in Gujarat are implementing the Minimum Support Price (MRP) to be paid to the state's farmers, Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG) has said that in Aravalli district, of the 1,420 farmers only 200 have been paid MRP for for their agricultural produce chana (chickpea). In a statement, KSG said, 22,737 quintals of chickpea was bought from the district's farmers.
"For this, the farmers should have been paid more than Rs 9.65 crore of MRP. The government still needs to pay up about Rs 8 crore to the farmers", Aravalli district KSG's leader Nikul Patel said in a statement. The pending amount, he suggested, has not been paid for a month now, blaming "docile government officials" for the state of affairs. "We will be forced to launch an agitation, for which the authorities would be solely responsible", he warned.

Take action against cops who attacked Chharanagar: Congress

The Congress has taken strong exception to the police clampdown on Chharanagar, a colony with about 3,000 houses in Ahmedabad, where members of the denotified tribe, Chharas reside. In a statement, party spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said, the police clampdown on the poor people living in Chharanagar was without any reason. If any person commits a crime, action should be taken against that person oly, and one should not punish the entire community for it.
Demanding immediate action against responsible police personnel, even as compensating for the loss suffered by the innocent people as result of the cops’ midnight clampdown, Gohil said, those who have fallen victim of the attack include a press photographer, a playwright, and a lawyer. “The incident reflects anti-poor mentality of the BJP government”, he added.

Amnesty petition asks Modi not to pass whistleblowers Bill

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Amnesty International has begun an online petition asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the passage of the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015 in the Rajya Sabha. Sharply criticizing Modi for "going back" on his word of providing a "transparent and corruption-free government", Amnesty has said, the amendment "weakens the already inadequate whistle blower protections" provided by law and drastically increases the risks for whistle blowers.
Passed by the Lok Sabha in May 2015, it is currently pending before the Rajya Sabha. Pointing out that the amendment would make whistleblowing "much more unsafe", it provides three instances which suggest why a strong law to protest whistleblowers is needed:
In 2003, Satyendra Dubey, an employee of the National Highways Authority of India was murdered for exposing corruption in the construction of national highways.In 2005, Shanmugam Manjunath a sales officer with the Indian Oil Corporatio…

Chharanagar attack: Set up SIT, register FIR against cops, demands Gujarat Dalit leader

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Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani has warned that the alleged police attack on about 200 denotified tribal group Chhara community people, including women and children, to avenge a fight with a police sub-inspector “will not be tolerated in any way.” Addressing a well-attended meeting in Chharanagar, Ahmedabad, where Gujarat cops carried out late night operation, he wondered why was no FIR registered against the cops.
“If FIR could be registered against Chhara community people, why were the misbehaving cops spared?”, he wondered. Mevani demanded setting up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the whole incident, which took place on July 27 night. He also demanded a Rs 25 crore package for the rehabilitation of the group.

Gujarat chief minister "misled" Niti Aayog: Ex-BJP CM Suresh Mehta

Gujarat’s Lokshahi Bachao Andolan (Save Democracy Campaign), which is led by former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta, has accused the state’s chief minister, Vijay Rupani, for misleading the Government of India’s top think-tank, Niti Aayog, by saying that the government has “revived” 32 rivers. In a statement signed by Mehta and two civil rights leaders, Mahesh Pandya and Prof Hemant Shah on behalf of the campaign body, they have said that nothing of the sort has happened.
“The Sujalam Sufalam recharge canal of North Gujarat has not revived any river. The state government website has not even given the names of the rivers that it claims to have revived. There is no water in any of the rivers that connect the canal. Where is the question of reviving the dead rivers?”, the statement says, seeking complete accounts of money spent on the canal network and revive rivers.

Bhuj court sets aside Adanis' criminal complaint against news portal The Wire

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A court in Bhuj, district headquarters of Kutch, Gujarat, has rule in favour of the news portal, The Wire, in a high-profile criminal defamation case filed by the Adani Group. The Adani Group’s complaint was against an article by Paronjay Guha Thakurta, originally published in the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), and then republished in The Wire.
Guha Thakurta, who was editor of EPW at the time, resigned after the journal’s after EPW insisted the article be taken down from its website following receipt of a legal notice from the Adani Group.
While Thakurta resigned from EPW, which withdrew the article, The Wire refused to do it despite Adanis insisted upon the news portal to do it. The article was on how the Modi government had tweaked the rules governing Special EconomicZone (SEZ), where the company had invested.
Click HERE to read more

Uttar Pradesh doesn't have child rights commission for a year

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Score Uttar Pradesh, the state chapter of the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, conducted a state-level meeting in Lucknow on Friday and decided to launch a campaign demanding equal rights to education to all (Sabko shiksha ek saman, mang raha Hindustan') for making education a prime agenda in coming parliamentary elections.
During the discussion, activists who had come to know from outside UP to attend the meeting were surprised to know that Uttar Pradesh does not have a State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), a monitoring body for implementation of RTE Act.  RTE Forum's Ambarish Rai, noting this, said, SCPCR is "non-existent in Uttar Pradesh for more than a year. There are several cases of violations of the Act but there is no any mechanism for grievance redressal in place. It shows the lack of seriousness on the part of the state government and neglect of the fundamental right to education."

Students arrested for showing black flag to BJP chief Amit Shah

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At least four Samajwadi Party supporters, Rama Yadav, Neha Yadav, Ashvini Maurya and Mohit Yadav, all of them students, were taken into custody in Allahabad for showing black flags to BJP president Amit Shah. According to local sources, they organized a homage program to Judge Loya. Shah cancelled his program of addressing party workers, with BJP sources saying it had to be done because of rains in the city. Another two students were arrested from ADC crossing in Keedganj police station area.

GPCB investigation sought for releasing poisonous water into river

Taking a serious view of the news that the dyeing and printing units of Jetpur, Rajkot district, have been releasing chemical-infested poisonous waste water into Bhadran river without treating it, Ahmedabad NGO Paryavaran Mitra, in a letter to the chairman, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), has demanded that this should be immediately investigated into and necessary action should be taken against the units found be doing the illegal activity.
Citing Section 17 of the Pollution Control Rules, 1974, NGO director Mahesh Pandya, who has signed the letter, said, despite the fact that the Supreme Court in its order dated February 22, 2017, took gave necessary directions on such gross violations, GPCB is not doing anything. On one hand, Gujarat has been experiencing water shortage, following which the government undertook the water conservation campaign, but on the other these units are dumping water into river, which is a very serious matter, he added.

Demand for legal action against Ahmedabad units "illegally" releasing waste water

Ahmedabad-based environmental group, Paryavaran Mitra, has demanded that that the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) should begin legal action against those units operating in the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), which have been found be releasing industrial waste water from their factories into the Kharicut canal, which passes through portions of the city.
In a letter addressed to the chairman, GPCB, dated July 27, Paryavaran Mitra’s director Mahesh Pandya has said similar action should be taken against four units operating behind in the Behrampura ward, operating behind the Barrel Market and Chiragh Park, for illegally releasing their waste water in the gutter.
Pointing out that the action should be initiated under the Water Pollution Control Rules, 1974, which prohibit dumping waste water illegally. The letter follows news reports that while the GIDC Association, Naroda, has been fined Rs 10 lakh, the four factories in the Behrampura ward have been fined Rs…

Chhara community "attacked" in Ahmedabad, police "beat up" men, women and children

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Senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi has sounded alert over the alleged sudden midnight police attack on a colony of a denotified tribe colony of Ahmedabad, ccharas. Quoting senior theatre and film director of Budhan theatre Dakxin Chhara and a number of other activists, she said, "According to the information available, there was some altercation between a few chhara boys, who were drunk at night, and they had some fight with policemen on duty."
"Police returned around midnight in full force -- hundreds of them from what I have been told by a number of local activists -- attacked the cchara colony, breaking vehicles, cars, getting into people's homes, breaking whatever they could lay hands on, attacking men, women and children, even media and lawyers who tried to intervene", said in a media alert.
She added, "Dakxin himself has been beaten up, his old mother-in-law has been attacked. Another theatre actor Atish Indrekar was also attacked and ta…

Dalits outraged after ponds they use filled up with mud excavated from another pond

A freshwater well and a pond used for washing laundry by Dalits in Jetalvasna village in Visnagar taluka of Mehsana district, Gujarat, has been filled up with mud excavated from another large pond at the heart of the village leaving the community outraged. Following a complaint from the Dalits, district authorities have now ordered the pond be restored to its original condition. Dalits do not access the large pond fearing the dominant Patidars who use it. Patidars account for more than 50 per cent of the village population of 3,300. Dalits number just around 400, OBCs (Thakor and Prajapati) another 400, and others make up the rest. The large pond is about 1.5 km away from the pond and freshwater well in Rohit Vaas, the locality where Dalits live.  Click HERE to read more

Delhi starvation death of 3 minor girls "linked" to lack of food security

The Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA), a civil rights group, has said the deaths of three minor girls (aged 2, 4 and 8). in Mandawali, East Delhi, due to starvation, is directly linked with the issue of lack of food security and social security of the poor and marginalized in the country’s capital.
A statement by DRRAA said, adding, the situation is especially dire for children, elderly and the homeless, who are the most vulnerable, stressing on the need to remove barriers which prevent people from accessing it, such as need to show identity proof/residence proof/Aadhaar etc., which is “inhumane and a violation of the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Those who have signed the statement include co-convenor of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information Anjali Bhardwaj, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan’s Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh, and Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti A…

CBDT directed to allow e-filing without Aadhaar by Delhi HC

If the Bombay High Court, and the Madras High Court have aleady granted relief to individual petitioners, the Delhi High Court order has now directed the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to fix its software so that e-filing is possible without Aadhaar. "People without Aadhaar number can now file their income tax returns (ITR) online, after the Delhi High Court Tuesday asked the (CBDT) to accept e-filing returns without quoting an Aadhaar or Aadhaar enrolment number."  A Bench of judges S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla said as the CBDT has extended the deadline for the PAN-Aadhaar linking to March 31, 2019, there should be an “opt out” option for people filing their returns online. Click HERE to read

Seminar on costs and consequences of bullet train to be held on Aug 2

A full day seminar on Costs and Consequences of Bullet Train is to be held at the Deputy Speaker's Hall, Constitution Club of India, New Delhi, on August 2. A National Alliance of People's Movements communique says, "The proposed High Speed Rail Corridor (popularly called the Bullet Train) from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is to scythe its way through the tribal and agricultural tracts of Maharashtra and Gujarat."
It adds, "The farmers of the area are opposed to the project as their fertile lands will be taken away. Additionally, and more importantly, there is a rising discontent among the masses, given that more urgent developmental and social sector issues have been ignored and deprived of funds. Within the railway sector itself, the need of the hour is the up-gradation and improvement of existing tracks, the introduction of swifter services usingIndian technology, and improved safety measures, all of which are being ignored."
Those organising the seminar include …

New women's peace campaign, Batein aman ki, to start on Sept 22

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A new campaign, Baatein Aman Ki, is proposed to be organised comprising of 5 Women Yatras covering all Indian states between September 22 and October13, culmination in Delhi. They will start from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, and Delhi. While the routes are being finalised, the one starting from Delhi will cover central India and come back to Delhi. The aim of the five, Yatras, Baatein Aman Ki, consisting of 25 women per yatra, is to take the message of love, harmony, peace, non-violence across the nation.
"In times of hate we spread the message of love and sisterhood", a message sent by NGO Anhad's Shabnam Hashmi said, adding, "We invite women groups, people's movements, funding organisations, individual women, artists, film makers, social media experts to join the campaign." Details of the campaign can be found HERE

Why does RSS-BJP not like these Hindu monks?

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Why do the Hindutva organisations RSS and BJP don’t like monks such as Swami Nigmanand, Sanand and Agnivesh? Why is it that Hindutva organisations either completely ignore such monks or feel threatened by them to the extent that they have to engineer attacks on them?
It is because they are truly dedicated Hindus. They don’t put up a show merely to use religion for political or commercial purposes. They don’t hate Muslims, neither are they afraid of them. They don’t make provocative speeches which can trigger communal violence. They want to promote communal harmony and peace in society. Click HERE to read

Public hearing for proposed CRZ draft is an eyewash: Activists

Senor environmental activists of Gujarat of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Rohit Prajapati and Krishna Kant, and grassroots activists Bhagrathsinh Gohil and Shaktisinh Gohil, both local self-government leaders, have qualified in a statement that the proposed public hearings for the new draft Coastal Management Plan as nothing but a public trap, insisting that such hearings are not only illegal but also unconstitutional. “The Government spending millions on advertising for the central/state government's achievements are indifferent to important public announcements such as the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP)”, they said, adding, however, “There are the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management website (www.gczma.org) has no details and details of the proposed hearing, nor necessary reports.”

Gujarat activists condemn attack on Swami Agnivesh

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A meeting of concerned citizens of Gujarat met on July 19 in Ahmedabad under the auspices of Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD), chaired by eminent journalist, activist and convenor of MSD Prakashbhai N. Shah, condemning the recent attack on Swami Agnivesh and rise in ‘mobocracy’ in the country was passed.
It expressed shock over the fact that, on one side, the Supreme Court, is warning the Central Government over mobocracy, on the other, a ‘saffron’ mob attacks Swami Agnivesh in Jharkhand! It asked civil society to stay vigilant. Copy of the resolution was sent to the President of India.

Narmada Yatra begins in the valley at Gopalpur, Maharashtra

The Sangharsh Navnirman Samvad Yatra, Maharashtra, set out from Gopalpur on  July 21 across rehabilitation sites in Nandurbar district. Medha Patkar, among others, led the 10 hour long rally. Patkar, taking a fresh stock of situation in the Narmada valley after 33 years of struggle, said in Maharashtra, because of the struggle by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, nearly 4,300 families, mainly adivasis, got land.
The rally will enter a new phase on starting July 31 in  in Nisarpur (near Badwani, Madhya Pradesh), and via Katharde Digar and Shahada in Nandurbar district on August 1, will convert into a mass meeting, called Narmada ki Pukaar, at Manibeli ,on August 2. Yogendra Yadav and Dr Sunilam will be the chief guests.

Farmers' "no confidence motion" against Modi govt

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Thousands of representatives from over 200 farmer organisations under the banner of the All-India Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay passed what has been called the "no-confidence motion" against the current Indian government outside the Parliament. Those who addressed the rally included Yogendra Yadav, Medha Patkar, Darshanpal, Jagmohan Singh, Atul Kumar Anjan, Ashish Mittal, Kavita Kuruganti, Dr. Sunilam and Member of Parliament Raju Shetty.
The no-confidence motion Recently, Government of India declared a Minimum Support Price (MSP), which is merely 10-20% more than input costs as against the 1.5 times price set by Swaminathan Committee. "This MSP too is only declared for Kharif crops", it said, even as demanding to stop land grab, which it said, "has reached an all time high in the name of big projects like Industrial Corridors, Dams, smart cities etc."