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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…

Jharkhand govt decision to reduce eggs in midday meal to children "shocking"

The Right to Food (RtF), Jharkhand, has said, it is “shocking” that the Jharkhand government has decided to reduce the number of weekly eggs in school midday meals from three to two. Earlier, the government allotted Rs 4 per egg. With increase in price of eggs, it has revised the allotment to Rs 6 per egg.
“But instead of increasing the total budget commensurately with the inflation in cost of eggs, the government has decided to serve one less egg per child per week”, RtF said, adding, “Introduction of eggs in schools, and later in Anganwadis, is one of the few noteworthy steps taken by Jharkhand Government to improve child nutrition in the state.”
Jharkhand’s children are amongst the most malnourished in the country. According to the National Family Health Survey 4 conducted in 2015-16, 35.8 per cent children were underweight across the country. In Jharkhand, the corresponding ratio was as high as 47.8 per cent.
Currently, eggs are served across 12 states of the country. Andhra Prad…

Dalit rights body to oppose 10% reservation to dominant castes in Supreme Court

Dr VA Ramesh Nathan, General Secretary, National Dalit Movement For Justice (NDMJ) referring to the recent Constitutional Amendment Bill-2019 (124th Constitutional Amendment), passed in both the houses to provide 10% reservation for the economically weaker sections (EWS) of the general category, has said that the NDMJ is “strongly opposed this action of BJP-led government”.
In a statement, he says, it dilutes “the social justice concept of reservation to Dalits, Adivasis, and OBCs on the basis of caste injustice, being done to these communities by adding the words Economically Weaker Sections in Article 15 and ‘Backward class citizens’ in Article 16 of the Constitution.”
Pointing out that political parties who have supported this move want to “please the forward caste sections of the society, who are already advanced socially and educationally in society, before the general elections”, Dr says, “We also finding out the possibilities of intervening in the Supreme Court against this…

Koshi flood affected people "not being compensated": NAPM writes to Bihar CM

Led by the Koshi Nav Nirman Manch (KNNM), people displaced by the the Koshi embankment area of Bihar have been on an indefinite dharna at the Supaul district headquarters since January 10, 2019, seeking government assistance, as they have had to leave their place of residence following the disaster that has struck them because of frequent floods leading to soil erosion.
"They have not being given compensation in accordance with fixed standards and standard operating procedure (SOP)", says a representation by the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), which supports KNNM, to the Bihar chief minister. Signed by tens of social activists led by Medha Patkar, it adds, "Women, elderly, hundreds of people along with small children are on dharna braving cold weather, but there is no response from the state administration."
NAPM says, "Before they were forced to sit on dharna, the district administration was communicated about their plight, and on August 3…

Countries in Vibrant Gujarat summit should stage a boycott as minority rights "not respected" in state

Gujarat-based civil rights organization, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), declaring its opposition to the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, has said that though India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration of the Rights of Persons Related to Minorities, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Gujarat government is “violating these agreements”.
Claiming that the state government has “no right to invite international guests for the summit”, MCC said, it has been trying to talk to the state government for the rights of the minority communities in Gujarat for the last two years, yet state’s chief minister has “no time to meet”, yet, it has time to do “gimmicks like summit.”
MCC, it said, will therefore be appealing to the embassies of all the countries that have decided to participate in the Vibrant Gujarat summit, starting next week, asking them to appeal to the state government obey the international treaties and rights to the minorit…

Poor AMC allocation: Basic amenities, gutter lines lacking, forcing slumdwellers to defecate in open, Ahmedabad authorities told

Even as Ahmedabad has been declared “open defecation free plus” (ODF+) by the Narendra Modi government, which means the city has hygienic and usable public toilets, a grassroots community survey suggests that this is far from true in a large number of areas of the city.
Results of the survey are part of a memorandum addressed to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) commissioner Vijay Nehra, who claimed that “a third-party inspection was carried out” to prove how the city has become more hygienic to live in.
The survey shows that in 100 societies of 26 different areas of Ahmedabad, people lack basic amenities. If some societies such as in Ambedkar Nagar and Indira Nagar in Nikol area, or in Boot Bhawani and Suryanagar in Vejalpur area, or the Bombay Hotel area, there are no household toilets or gutter lines, forcing people defecate in the open, in other places the gutter lines are either choked or are profusely leaking.
Released to media by community leaders from different parts of …

Fill up backlog of vacancies in government: Goa tribal delegation represents to NCST

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A delegation of the civil rights organization, Gawad Kunbi Velip & Dhangar Federation (Gakuved federation) has told Dr Nand Kumar Sai, chairperson, and Anusuiya Uikey, vice chairman, of the National commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) that the backlog of ST vacancies should be filled up prior to the recruitment of current vacancies in all services in the Government of Goa.
The delegation, which met the visiting NCST office bearers first at the Goa government guest house and then in the ministers' block Secretariat Porvorim, accused the state government of suppressing information about backlog vacancies, "thereby denying constitutionally-mandated reservation provision for STs". It added, the government should start a "special recruitment drive" to fill up the backlog of STs.
The Gakuved federation further asked NCST to ensure that the state government notified the tribal areas in Goa as per the Schedule V of the Constitution of India "to save the…

Mumbai #ToxicHell residents assured: Solution to resettle them would be "verified" in 10 days

A committee, constituted by the Maharashtra Urban Development department on the order of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to find a solution to resettle residents of Mumbai’s “toxic hell”, Mahul, has said that it would take 10 days to “verify” information it received from the civil rights organization, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), on providing alternative housing.
The decision came after GBGBA representatives submitted a list of tenements which constructed by different housing agencies and where Mahul residents could be shifted. The committee head Ajoy Mehta, municipal commissioner, directed the agencies like the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), to verify the information and file a report in 10 days.
GBGBA said in a statement, a large number of tenements which are constructed in advance for Project Affected Persons are lying vacant with different housing agencies, demanding, these houses to be allowed to …

GDP estimates for 2018-19: Agricultural growth rate in India to be minus (--) 0.1%, worst in 10 yrs

The State Bank of India (SBI) has estimated that agricultural growth would turn into the negative in the fiscal 2018-19. In its latest report by the SBI’s research desk, headed by Dr Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Group Chief Economic Adviser, says that agriculture and allied activities “is likely to grow at 3.8% in FY19 as against previous year growth of 3.4%, would be “primarily due to growth in allied activities (livestock, forestry and fishing).”
However, it adds, “The most striking fact is that agriculture deflator for FY19 at –0.1% is lowest in 10 years indicating continued distress (or low demand) in rural areas.” SBI’s GDP growth rates (year on year per cent) is at constant prices, with 2011-12 as the base year.
The SBI’s GDP growth advance estimates for FY19 is “a conservative 7.2%, lower than RBI’s projection of 7.4%”, the report states, adding, “Manufacturing, electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services, construction are the major contributors to the overall growth.”
I…

States "violating" tribal rights in India's mining areas: mm&P delegates tell MPs, PMO, NCST

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A delegation led by mines, minerals and People (mm&P) chairman Ravi Rebbapragada, who is executive director, Samata, and Ashok Shrimali, secretary-general mm&P, and consisting of  mm&P executive committee members from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Goa, has raised mining-related issues before India's top parliamentarians.  The issues raised included non-implementation and utilization of District Mineral Foundation (DMF) funds in all Indian states; recent hazard in the role hole mines in Meghalaya; false and fabricated cases against tribals across the country; Samata judgment and its implications in various states; illegal coal mining in Churulia, West Bengal; granting leases without the gram sabha consent as in the case of coal mining in Godda district by Adani group; and displacement due to Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and bullet train project.
The delegation stressed on how the Goa government has approved its Goa Regional Plan 2021 without id…

For 46% entrepreneurs profit margins are much less than normal, as sales levels go down

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The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A’s) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey, based on responses of over 1600 companies, has found that one year ahead business inflation expectation, “as estimated from the mean of individual probability distribution of unit cost increase, in November 2018 has increased to 3.86% from 3.66% observed in October 2018.”
“Uncertainty of business inflation expectation in November 2018, as captured by the square root of the average variance of the individual probability distribution of unit cost increase, has increased further to 2.24%”, the IIM-A report states.
Regarding cost perceptions, the report says, “Around 60% of the firms in November 2018 reported that increase in costs has been more than 3% (marginally up from around 58% in October 2018) during the last one year. The proportion of firms perceiving significant cost increase has remained same at 34% in November 2018.”
Then, the report says, “Nearly 3/5th of the firms in t…

Educational assistance: Gujarat government "discriminating" Dalit, Adivasi students

Veteran Dalit rights leader Valjibhai Patel, who heads the NGO Council for Social Justice, has protested against the Gujarat government raising the upper income limit of parents for availing educational assistance for general category students from from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4.50 lakh, even keeping it at Rs 2.50 lakh for scheduled caste and tribe (SC and ST) students.
Patel, in a letter to the chief minister, said, “We had requested you to increase the income limit of parents of SC and ST students of Scheduled Caste and Tribe by Rs 2.50 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, equal to that of general category students. However, you do not seem to have heard the voice of reason, insulting the entire Dalit-Adivasi community by ignoring them.”
Wondering if Adivasis and Dalits will ever be treated as equal citizens in Gujarat, Patel, in his letter called this “discrimination a serious crime”, qualifying it an “open violation of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India”, demanding, :SC and ST students of Guj…

Sabarimala purification ceremony "violates" untouchability law, priests should be dethroned: Letter to CM

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Film director and cartoonist from Bengaluru, KP Sasi, has floated a signature campaign asking Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to debar “the Brahmin Tantris” from their “hereditary rights over Sabarimala temple”. The letter asks Vijayan to hand over the worship rights at Sabarimala to Adivasi Mala Araya community, who were the customary custodians of Sabarimala until the Brahmins took control of the Sabarimala temple in the early 20th century.
Taking strong exception to the purification ceremony, which “happened according to the values of Brahmanical patriarchy” following the entry of two under-50 women into the temple, the letter also appeals to the CM “to make necessary steps to enforce community rights and facilitate environmental protection of the forests around Sabarimala as well as Pampa river as per the Forest Rights Act.”
Citing the Supreme Court judgment, which ensured that the two women, Adv Bindu and Kanakadurga, enter the temple on January 2, 2019 by entering the Sa…

Demand for judicial probe into "brutal" police crackdown on farmers, womenfolk in Bhavnagar

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Prominent civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has strongly condemned the “brutal” lathicharge on farmers on January 2 in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, and has sought judicial inquiry into the incident. The police lathicharge took place in Mahua and Talja tehsils of Bhavnagar district of Gujarat.  NAPM claims, Ultra-Tech Cement was given land for mining in Mahua and Talaja tehsils, in Uncha Kotada, Nicha Kotda, Talli, Kalsar, Dayal, Bambhor and Methla villages, about 20 years ago. However, no mining activities have been undertaken on the land, leading to farmers demanding their land back under the 2013 land acquisition Act.
This led the company to organize public hearing for mining. At the public hearing, local people protested. Despite farmers' opposition, the company “managed to get” environmental clearance. People challenged the company in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Pune. As the deadline for hearing the case allegedly expired, farmers too…

Bullet train project: Details of action taken to address people's concerns sought

Top Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), in a letter to Katsuo Matsumoto, chief representative, Japanese International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA’s) India office, has sought details of action, if any, taken so far by JICA or any "concerned" authorities regarding  implementation of JICA guidelines, “violated” by the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR), also known as Bullet Train, project.
In reply to JICA letter dated December 27, 2018, PSS’ Rohit Prajapati , Krishnakant and Swati Desai have also sought to know if any plans have been made for the future to “address the concerns raised by our last meeting in Surat on December 8, 2018.”
Appreciating JICA’s desire to continue to engage with PSS following the Surat meeting, PSS said, as directed by JICA, it would readily “share the details and documents we submitted to you with the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) and other concerned authorities.
“We hope such shar…

Gujarat CM steps back, says he "never released" news against Congress leader Gohil

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In a clear bid to strike a compromise with senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, state chief minister Vijay Rupani has said that he has “not released" any news against Gohil, “nor managed the release in any way”. The news related to Rupani’s public statement, where he had accused Gohil for being responsible for recent attacks on people from other states in Gujarat.
Rupani’s decision comes through his lawyer, who in his reply to Gohil’s defamation notice served recently said, “Our client had no intention to cause any damage to your prestige”. Gohil served his preliminary notice on October 18, 2018 and final notice on December 10, 2018 demanding an explanation from Rupani, even as threatening of civil and criminal suit.
Gohil also wrote Rupani that BJP MLAs, leaders and workers were directly responsible for attack on outsiders in Gujarat, claiming he has evidence of this.
“With this the matter is close”, Gohil has said in a statement.

Sabarimala: Biologists declare, prejudice against menstruation has no scientific basis

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Even as two under-50 women became the first to enter the Sabarimala temple, following which temple priests shutting down the for "purification" briefly, and BJP-led Hindu organisations calling for a dawn-to-dusk strike, biologists from across India have issued a statement saying that the prejudice against menstruation has nothing to do with science.
In a clear support to the Supreme Court verdict ending the decades-old ban on women of menstrual age entering the shrine, the biologists said that that discrimination against women on account of menstruation in any form and any place is a glaring breach of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the core principles of the Indian Constitution.
“The notion of menstruation as pollution causes perpetual stress in women, and as they are now exposed to science and progressive values, this can cause retrogressive evolutionary change in the human females’ reproductive physiology to the detriment of the entire species,” they said i…