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Showing posts from 2019

Chhattisgarh HC asks state PSU to stop all mining activity, respect forest rights

The Chhattisgarh High Court has ordered the Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC) to stop all bauxite mining activity at the Pathrai village in Surguja district’s Sitapur block. The public sector undertaking (PSU) had started mining in the area where around 50 Individual Forest Rights titles had been granted to claimants. Another 50 claims under the Forest Rights Act (2006) are still pending.
The CMDC had received the go-ahead for Stage II Forest Clearance on June 19, 2018 based on the District Collector’s letter of August 27, 2015 which confirmed that no rights under the FRA were pending and no rights holders were straying into the mining area.
Tribals belonging to the Oraon and Manji tribal groups inhabit Pathrai, which falls under the Schedule V of the Indian Constitution. It is governed by the Panchayat (Extension to Schedule Areas) Act, 1996, under which no mining activity can take place without the consent of the Gram Sabha.
Advocate Kishore Narayan on behalf of the …

Narmada dam affected people begin satyagraha in Bhopal following 'violent' attacks

Around 1,500 people displaced and affected by the backwaters of Sardar Sarovar Dam have reached Bhopal and begun an indefinite protest, demanding adequate compensation and rehabilitation, in front of the Narmada Valley Development Authority’s (NVDA’s) office. The protestors included people from different districts of Madhya Pradesh, including Barwani, Dhar, Khargone and Alirajpur.
Their satyagraha is led by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar, who has been fighting for the last 34 years, first against the construction of the dam and now for the dam’s operations to comply fully with the Supreme Court orders, the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal award of 1979 and the state government’s rehabilitation policy.
“We have been forced to come to Bhopal as there has been a violent attack on our Narmada Valley carried out by the callousness of Gujarat and central government,” Patkar said. “We have come to ask questions related to the human rights and livelihoods of the affected peopl…

As 70,000 BSNL staff seeks VRS, telephone exchanges face bleak future

Within just a week after the rolling out of the scheme on November 4, as many as 70,000 employees of the state-owned telecom company, BSNL, have opted for voluntary retirement, BSNL Chairman and MD, P K Purwar, has claimed. As of November 12, the number of employees opting to retire crossed the 75,000 mark.
Meanwhile, a BSNL contractual employee in Kerala reportedly committed suicide due to non-payment of salaries, taking the total number of such deaths to eight so far. BSNL had set an internal target of 77,000 employees opting for the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), which is open till December 3. As per the industry sources, the target will be achieved in the next two to three days.
Though the BSNL management is reportedly set to save crores in wage bills, the unexpected response among the executives and employees for the early retirement presents a worrisome picture of the road ahead for the corporation, say observers.
The current manpower strength of the state-owned corporation s…

India ranks below Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh: Global Hunger Index 2019

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India is ranked 102 of 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2019, behind its neighbours Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh.Seventeen countries, including Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Cuba and Kuwait, shared the top rank with GHI scores of less than five, the website of the Global Hunger Index that tracks hunger and malnutrition said.

Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra tribal oustees of Narmada dam 'not rehabilitated': NBA

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The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has protested against the Madhya Pradesh government seeking to declare that all the tribal villages affected by the Sardar Sarovar dam as having been rehabilitated, a flawed stand, it claims, was also taken by the previous state BJP rulers of Madhya Pradesh, as also the present rulers of Maharashtra. Pointing out that the present Congress rulers had assured reconstitution of all rehabilitation committees, NBA in a statement wonders, why they have still not been formed.

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

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The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "warmest greetings"…

Environmentalists block way to rail project for Adanis' Aussie coalmine venture

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The Adani Group's controversial Carmichael coalmine in Australia was again in news as environmentalists blocked the road leading to the spot where the project's rail line is to be laid. A release by Frontline Action for Coal said, a group of 15 people blocked access to workers entering the site on Friday morning.
Spokesperson Andrea Valenzuela claimed, the contractor, BMD, which was asked by environmentalists to snap ties with Adanis, "seems to expect community resistance, given the news of an internal company email detailing responses to questions staff might be asked about their involvement with Adani. No company has a right to profit from a climate emergency."
On its website, BMD describes itself as “one of the largest privately owned construction and urban development contractors in Australia.” Its corporate video boasts “our goal for each project is to leave a minimum impact on the environment”.
Valenzuela said, “BMD have shown their claims to environmental cred…

Nehru's 'top' blunder: Acted on Kashmiri Pandit advise to arrest Sheikh Abdullah

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Former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) chief secretary Moosa Raza has said one of the “biggest blunders” of Jawaharlal Nehru vis-à-vis Kashmir was he acted on the advice of Kashmiri Pandit advisers in 1953 and arrested Sheikh Abdullah, the popular Kashmiri leader, one of whose major contributions has been land reforms and abolition of feudal land holdings in the state.
Raza, which was chief secretary in 1988, in his new book “Kashmir: The Land of Regrets”, says Nehru arrested Abdullah on advise of Kashmiri Pandit advisers as he was told that Adbullah wanted “full independence” for Kashmir, so “sooner you get him out better it would be India.” Raza suggests, the blunder stemmed from the Kashmiri Pandit advisers hostile attitude towards the “whole area”, i.e. Kashmir.  Interviewed by senior journalist Barkha Dutt, who praised the book as “fascinating”, talks of "Four culprits responsible for Kashmir crisis – Mountbatten, Hari Singh, Jinnah and Nehru", even as listing "Nehru&…

16,000 oustee families to benefit if Centre 'agrees' on Narmada backwater level demand

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The Madhya Pradesh government has asked the Central Water Commission (CWC) to reconsider the backward level of the Sardar Sarovar dam, which were revised  in 2015. The revision had "kept out" a whopping 15,946 oustee families out of the project affected areas, claiming, these would not suffer drowning.
This was revealed during a meeting the anti-dam body, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), with Madhya Pradesh government officials led by Narmada minister Surendra Singh Baghel in Indore. Based on the review of the backwater levels, the previous state government had talked of "zero balance" for oustees' rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R).
The meeting took place even as oustees continued their protests in the Narmada valley amidst rising water levels leading to sinking of roads in several villages, ruining crops, turning mohallas into small islands, ​​and submerging houses. Those present from the NBA side included its leader Medha Patkar and 35 of her associates.
T…

Brahmin superiority? PUCL calls Lok Sabha speaker's remark casteist

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The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan, has taken strong exception to Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla's recent tweet following a meeting of the Brahmin Mahasabha in Kota on September 8, 2019 that "Brahmins have always held a high position in society", which is the result of their "sacrifice and penance", adding, this is the reason why the Brahmin community has "always been in the role of a guide ".
PUCL president Kavita Srivastava and general secretary Anant Bhatnagar, in a statement have said that Birla's tweet is "against Article 14 of the Constitution", as it seeks to establish the supremacy of one community over other communities, even as suggesting that a certain caste is in superior to other castes. Wondering how could a person make such a casteist statement publicly while he in a constitutional office, PUCL asked Birla to withdraw his tweet, pointing out, it proposes to send its complaint to the President of India…

Australian protesters picket, stop work of Adani contractors for Carmichael coalmine

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Australian protesters have stopped work at the Mackay office of piping company AC Whalan, demanding the company withdraws its tender from Adani’s controversial Carmichael coalmine mine.Twenty-year-old Lisa Amato locked herself to the gate of the facility, while a group of 30 people formed a picket line. Adani is a top Indian tycoon close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The group say they have information that AC Whalan have put in a tender for Adani’s polyethylene pipe contract, though the company have not publicly announced. Spokesperson Donna Smit said, “AC Whalan have not publicly declared their interest in Adani’s Carmichael mine, understandably because the majority of Australians do not want this climate destroying mine.”
“The message we are sending to AC Whalan and all other companies involved with Adani is that we have our eyes on Adani’s contractors. With the effects of climate breakdown being seen right now across this country, any company that hopes to profit from the destru…

Decision to merge nationalised banks violates national law: Civil society seminar told

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Is the Government of India decision to merge 10 nationalised banks without any legal basis? Speaking at a recent seminar organised by the Financial Accountability Network India (FANI), Dr Thomas Franco, former general secretary, All-India Bank Officers’ Confederation, said, “Bank merger is against the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act, 1970, which stipulates that the consent from board and shareholders is mandatory.”
Several participants in the seminar accused the step as a move to bail out the "struggling corporates", even as pointing out that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decision to transfer Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the government as per the recommendations of the Bimal Jalan-led committee would on only "mess up with public finances."
Attended by representatives of civil society organisations, unions, students, teachers and concerned citizens, Sitaram Yechury, general secretary, CPI(M), told the seminar, “The transfer of RBI’s surp…

Assertion that Gujarat Police didn't have ex-SIMI chief's address for 19 years 'laughable'

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Calling the Gujarat Police action of issuing non-bailable warrant against the banned Students' Islamic Movement of India's (SIMI's) ex-president Shahid Badar Falahi and taking him to Gujarat without completing legal formalities in a 19-year-old lawsuit an attempt to "plot communal division", UP civil rights organization Rihai Manch said, it is "a laughable argument that the Gujarat Police did not know about Shahid Badar's address all these years."
"One of the most talked about cases of those days, despite the ban on SIMI which received a lot of media coverage, including Shahid Badar's four-year imprisonment, the Gujarat Police action raises questions about intelligence functioning of the police department", Rihai Manch said in a statement.
According to Rajiv Yadav of the civil rights group, "Shahid Badar has been running his clinic in his village since about 2007 as also in Azamgarh town for the last five years and has been conti…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

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Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canals, work for 13,889 km ha…

Gujarat govt 'agrees' to place 2002 riots report in budget session of state assembly

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The Gujarat government has informed the state High Court that it would be tabling Part-II of the Justice Nanavati and Mehta Commission report on the inquiry into the 2002 Gujarat riots, submitted to the state government on November 18, 2014, in next budget session in the Legislative Assembly.

Responding to a public interest litigation filed in the High Court by former Gujarat DGP RB Sreekumar seeking directions to the state government for making public the report, advocate general Kamal Trivedi stated, “While categorically denying all the averments and allegations contained in the writ petition, it is stated that... it has already been decided to table Part-II of the said report in the ensuing budget session of the legislative assembly.”
Senior advocate Suhail Tirmizhi represented Sreekumar in the High Court. The next budget session is expected to take place in February next year.
Calling it a major victory, Sreekumar told Counterview, “Since the state government did not place the report…

Narmada: Madhya Pradesh 'agrees' 178 villages face submergence, causing tremors

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The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh has declared that the number of affected villages because of the Narmada dam is 178, suggesting that the data earlier released in 2017 have been set aside. The previous BJP government had “not taken into account” as many as 76 villages, some of whom are facing submergence, as the dam’s water levels rise.
“About 6,000 families live in these villages, yet the then state government did not make public the names of these villages”, said the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), currently campaigning against the Gujarat government decision to keep all the gates of the dam closed to take the water levels to the full reservoir level, 139 metres.
“Lakhs of trees and plants have been submerged”, NBA said in a statement, adding, “If there are on an average 1,000 trees in each village, then 250,000 trees in 178 villages have either drowned or are about to drown.”
Meanwhile, reports say, geological stir has “intensified” in the region because of waterlogging in t…

As villages drown, NBA criticizes ex-Madhya Pradesh BJP CM for keeping mum

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The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has sharply criticized former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan for refusing to utter a word in support of the Narmada dam oustees, whose dozens of villages are allegedly at the verge of being submerged, as the dam’s reservoir level continues to rise.
NBA, which began a fresh round of satyagraha in Kadmal village in Dhar district, said, the villages which have seen waters entering in, in a big way, include Pichhodi, Avalda, Bijasan, Morkatta, Kuli, Ghulghsa, Bhavati, Dehadla, Bagud, Piplud, Segwa, Chhota Badda, Nisarpur, Kadmal, Bajri Kheda, Khaparkhera, Nisarpur, Chikhalda, Kavathi, and Ekkalbara.
Even as releasing photographs of the satyagraha and the flooded villages, NBA accused Chauhan for being responsible for the current drowning in a “planned and systematic way” by playing the role in “robbing the interests of the affected.”
NBA said, Chauhan denied the rights to 15,946 families by reviewing Narmada’s backwater levels, minimis…

Gujarat rights body criticizes FIR against UP journo who exposed roti with salt scam

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The Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has taken strong exception to FIR against Uttar Pradesh journalist Pawan Jaiswal under various sections of criminal law for his report that rotis and salt were being served to school children as midday meal in Siyur primary school Mirzapur.
In a statement, MCC convener Mujahid Nafees said, “It is shocking that instead of taking action against officers who played with the life of children, the government filed a case against the journalist who exposed an important issue related to right to life in our Constitution.”
Asking “Who is behind this corruption?”, MCC has demanded that state government should “withdraw the cases on the journalist and ensure his security”, adding, “We believe that media is fourth pillar of Democracy and rights of citizens is more important than anything. This act shows clear-cut signs of Emergency.”

Make public info on deep-sea industrial waste water pipeline project: Gujarat govt told

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Ahmedabad-based environmental NGO Paryavaran Mitra has asked the Gujarat government to make public any information available on the project to lay down deep-sea discharge pipelines across Gujarat to ensure that the treated industrial water from the units in clusters between Veraval in Saurashtra and Vapi in South Gujarat is discharged into the Arabian Sea.
In a letter to the state environment secretary, NGO director Mahesh Pandya said, while an announcement for deep-sea pipelines across Gujarat was made by chief minister Vijay Rupani in December 2018, and deputy chief minister Nitin Patel even during the recent budget session the decision to allocate Rs 2,275 crore for the project, of which Rs 500 crore would be spent this financial year (2019-20), no details are available with anyone about it.
Pandya said, in reply to a Right to Information (RTI) plea, he has been told by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), to which his RTI application was transferred by the state environment…

Costs down, but industry sales, profits 'much less than normal': IIM-A survey

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The latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) which is based on detailed feedback received from the industry, academicians and policy makers, and responses from over 1,600 companies, has said that around 49% of the firms in July 2019 reported increase in costs has been more than 3%, down from 55% reported in June 2019, during the last one year.
Furthermore, the BIES survey said, the proportion of firms perceiving significant cost increase (more than 6%) in July 2019 has also "declined slightly to around 29% from 31% reported in June 2019", it added.
At the same time, in July 2019, the survey said, almost three-fourths of the firms (highest ever since the inception of the survey in May 2017) in the sample reported that sales are ‘somewhat or much less than normal’, insisting, "This proportion has increased significantly from June 2019."
The survey also reveals that "the proportion of firms in the …

Manual scavenger victims: Delhi govt 'hasn't compensated', hospitals 'unresponsive'

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The Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (BASAM), a rights organization, has said that while on May 5, 2019, five people became victims of manual scavenging in an incident which left 3 injured and 2 dead in Bhagya Vihar, Delhi, one of the injured, Sher Singh, is currently battling for his life, yet, despite the Delhi Chief Minister’s statement, they have not been given the compensatory amount.
Sher's condition is particularly very bad, BASAM said. He has been bedridden for the past three months and the family does not have any income. He is a migrant worker, coming from Tundla (UP) and belongs to the Dalit community. He takes up day labourer's jobs to feed his family of five. He has a wife, Soni, and four young children.
Pointing out that Soni is struggling to sustain her family and take care of her husband's medical expenses, BASAM said, she has had to resort to begging to be able to collect money to take her husband to the hospital. DASAM contacted her after facing severa…

ANHAD brainstorming: Why cops came in private meeting?, Home Ministry asked

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Well-known human rights organisation Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD) has taken strong exception to a special branch officer and a cop reaching its office in Nizamuddin West in Delhi, even as its brainstorming session about to start to "discuss" the possibility of doing grassroots work for spreading ideas of peace and harmony.
While the cop went away after taking photographs, the special branch officer sat through the meeting. Wondered Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD, "Is talking about peace, communal harmony, bringing communities together, fighting hatred and spreading the vision of an equal and just society a crime in #NewIndia?"
Hashmi said, "There are groups openlygiving weapon training , lynch mobs killing innocent people in the name of cow and child lifting and the special branch is busy doing surveillance of groups, who are trying to bring back some sanity to society?"
"The meeting was in our office, not in a public place. ANHAD is neither Janta…

FIR against veteran Gandhian: Why can't RSS debate on historical facts?: PADS

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The civil rights organisation People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) in a statement has expressed iconcern over two FIRs being filed in Odisha (Kandhmal and Katak) against Kumar Prashant, president of thr Gandhi Peace Foundation, allegedly for hurting sentiments of local RSS members, spreading lies about RSS and instigating people against the actions taken by the Union Government in Kashmir.
Battini Rao, convenor, PADS, said, "Instead of proving Kumar Prashant wrong by publishing or speaking their refutation of his views, RSS has taken recourse to court. The role of RSS, Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League during our India's independence movement is well documented and is still being debated."
He added, "Historical controversies cannot be resolved or put to rest in courts of law. They are academic and political matters. The RSS leadership, must be well aware of this fact but it has chosen to take recourse to intimidation and threats to suppress a de…

Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary: Khudai Khidmatgar to hold yatra in South India

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The revived Khudai Khidmatgar, the social harmony front originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, has announced it would celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi by holding a "people meet rath yatra from Chennai to Rameshwaram via Coimbatore.
In a statement, Khudai Khidmatgar convener Faisal Khan said, the year 2019-October to 2020-October, would be "a better opportunity for all the peace loving, progressive thinkers those strongly believes in the freedom of every human being in this world."
Insisting that the aim of the yatra is to connect with the large population with a strong message to stand up for equality, protection, justice, peace and maximum humanitarian values with the environment we live, Khan said, "Through this yatra we will connect with at least one lakh people by organizing 150 village level meetings, 150 college level meetings, 150 school level meetings, 150 civil society organizations.
"At last we will have the network of …

Madhya Pradesh govt not doing enough to support Narmada dam oustees: NBA

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The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has criticised the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh for failing to do enough to ensure that the Narmada dam oustees do not suffer because because of the rising water level in the river.
A statement issued on NBA leader Medha Patkar's hunger strike entering the sixth day for 32,000 oustee families' rehabilitation said, "Although the Kamal Nath government of Madhya Pradesh has started a process of dialogue with NBA, it has failed to comment on the order of the Gujarat government and the Narmada Control Authority by which gates of the dam have been closed and the water level is continuously rising in the submergence area."
Mea while, support for Patkar's hunger strike grew, members of the MGNREGA Mazdoor Union staging protest in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Parliamentary constituency, Varanasi, outside the district collector's office. Union representatives submitted a memorandum to the collector addressed to the Prim…

NGO launches digital campaign in Jharkhand to fight malnutrition among girls

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Recognising that in Jharkhand six out of 10 girls drop out of school and become child brides, and the state is among the worst in human trafficking, bonded labour and malnutrition, making it a challenging place to empower women, Happy Ratio, an Indian health startup, has launched #YehHaiMeriLife, what it calls “an impactful digital campaign.”
Focusing on the importance of complete nutrition for girls in sports, the startup said in a statement, young girls in India face multiple challenges on a daily basis such as social inequality, lack of opportunities, malnutrition and trafficking. “With the support of partners, Happy Ratio, in collaboration with Yuwa, an NGO in Jharkhand, it is providing girls 100,000 complete nutrition drinks.”
Launched on August 29, the campaign coincides with India’s National Sports Day. Asserting that gender stereotypes have had “a huge impact on the girls in India”, the statement said, “While India’s women athletes have been breaking records and winning meda…

Medha Patkar rejects chief minister Kamal Nath's plea to end hunger strike

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Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar has rejected Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath's plea that she should end her hunger strike, which has entered the fifth day. On satyagraha along with her NBA supporters at Chhota Badda in Barwani district against "illegal drowning" of Narmada dam oustees, 10 more activists joined her hunger strike on Thursday.
The ten persons who joined Patkar belong to the affected villages of Bhavati, Bijasan, Ganpur, Chhota Badda, Rajghat and Gangli. A statement issued by NBA said, the Centre and the Government of Gujarat remain insensitive to the point of thousands of families in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, who are forced to face drowning without policy-driven rehabilitation.
It added, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), a central government agency, is deliberately trying to drown the peasant-tribals, cattle herders, potters, and landless laborers without rehabilitation by increasing the dam's water level, cl…

As Narmada water levels rise, MP minister 'supports' fasting Medha Patkar's demands

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Madhya Pradesh home minister Bala Bachchan called on Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar, who is on fast for the last four days to demand opening of gates of the Sardar Sarovar dam to ensure that the water levels in the dam are kept at 130 metres so that there is minimum submergence of villages in the upstream.
Even as expressing concern over the health of Patkar, who has been fasting for the last 4 days, Bachchan promised to resolve the demands by taking them to chief minister Kamal Nath. Parkar and her supporters told the minister that the dam’s water levels, which have already reached 134 metres, should be reduced to 130 meters.
Taking the water levels to the full reservoir level, 138.68 meters without rehabilitation would mean end to a living civilization, which would also mean infringement of the Narmada Tribunal award and various court orders, they asserted.
NBA activists said, the state government should push for a timetable for filling up Narmada water in the dam.…

Mining in Bhavnagar district would render 25,000 jobless, 'impact' Asiatic lions

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Farmers’ rights leader Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), in a letter to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), has wondered how could the Government of India grant environment clearance (EC) to the UltraTech company for mining limestone in Bhavnagar district by taking away the livelihood of 25,000 people. As against this, the company, he claimed, would be employing just 30 people.
UltraTech’s EC has been approved for excavating limestone in Talaja and Mahuva talukas of Bhavnagar district in Gujarat despite protests by people, Rabari said, adding, this was done without verifying the details the government was provided.
According to Rabari, a right to information (RTI) plea suggests has there are several Asiatic lions, as also other rare wildlife species, living in the area. Asserting that wildlife would therefore get disturbed, he added, mining would be allowed on 1715.1311 hectares (ha) of land, affecting 13 villages, thereby rendering …

Kashmir: Gujarat civil society appeals to apex court for 'constitutional propriety'

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Gujarat’s 22 civil rights activists, in a letter to the Chief Justice of India, protesting against the three-week-long clampdown in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), have said this has create an undeclared state of emergency in Kashmir.  The decision to write the letter was taken following a recent meeting of the Movement for Secular Democracy in Ahmedabad.
Claiming that about 4,000 persons have been arrested amidsgt a huge military presence – there is one military man for almost five civilians – the letter says, this is alarming because, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), endangers “sexual violence against women” and “violation of human rights” in J&K.
Protesting against the “continuing restrictions on phones and internet, disrupting publications of newspapers and curbing the freedom of press as a form of collective punishment”, the letter says, this has crippled the daily life and economic activity of Kashmir.
“Appalled” by the way in which “in one stroke” Parliament abr…

Farmers, fisherfolk, agariyas oppose Rann Sarovar project in Little Rann of Kutch

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A well-attended meeting held at Nimaknagar in the presence of Dhangadhra MLA Purushottam Sabariya, and with the participation of agariyas, farmers, fisherfolk, maldharis and charcoal makers, has expressed deep concern over the probable impact the proposed Rann Sarovar project in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).
The meeting was organized by the Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch (AHRM), and was presided over by its secretary, Harinesh Pandya, who said that there was a need to recognise the contribution of the community in conserving wildlife and ecosystem of LRK. Speaking on the occasion, Sabariya assured people that he would convey to their concerns to the authorities on what would happen to 150 villages of five districts surrounding LRK in case the project was undertaken.
Fisherfolk representatives expressed their apprehensions about the future of prawn fishing of LRK, valuing a business of Rs 300 crore during just four months of monsoon. Prawns from LRK are of export quality, they said. Panch…

All-party meet in Kargil 'condemns' Govt of India's Kashmir clampdown

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In Drass sector, a town in the Kargil District, a meeting was held by the locals to discuss the current situation of the Jammu and Kashmir state and its regions in light of the recent abrogation of Article 370, 35A and bifurcation of the state.
A meeting attended by members of various religious communities in Drass, a town in Kargil district, including Sunni, Shia, Ahle Hadith, Noorbakshia, along with members of political parties National Conference, Indian National Congress, People Democratic Party, and Bhartiya Janata Party has reportedly protested against the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir.
A statement made public by senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi said that local elected representatives of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (Kargil) also attended the meeting, where a decision was taken to form a coordination committee of Drass to work out how to move forward at a time when there was continuous communications black ou…

Medha Patkar begins fast to protest Gujarat govt refusal to open Narmada dam gates

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Narmada Bachao Andolan (NDA) leader Medha Patkar has begun fast, alongside 24 women associated with the top the anti-dam organization at Chhota Badda village in Badwani district of Madhya Pradesh, against the alleged refusal of the Gujarat government to close open Sardar Sarovar dam’s gates in order to keep the reservoir level low, less than 130 metres.
Blaming the Government of India’s and Gujarat government’s “adamancy”, in a statement, NBA said, the water levels in the dam’s reservoir have reached 133 metres, turning hundreds of villages and farms into islands. Even at 130 metres, temples, buildings, shops had begun being submerged.
Pointing out that World Bank apprehensions, when it withdrew from the project in 1993, that the dam would lead to unprecedented submergence, are providing to be true, the statement said, the villages which are most affected are situated in Barwani, Dhar, Khargone and Alirajpur districts of Madhya Pradesh.
Meanwhile, in a letter to Madhya Pradesh chief m…

National meet to discuss UAPA changes allowing govt to 'brand' anyone terrorist

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Several civil society activists have called for a National Convention in Defense of Democratic Rights on August 31-September 1 at Rajendra Bhawan, ITO, New Delhi, especially focusing on the recent amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), empowering government to brand, without due process, any person 'a terrorist', strengthening of the National Investigation Agency Act (NIA) and the dilution of Protection of Human Rights Act.
The convention, says a statement issued by the Delhi Solidarity Group’s (DSG’s) Priya Pillai and Anil Tharayath, would also focus on the “persistence” with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, the threat of a nationwide NRC, the undemocratic abrogation of Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir are all steps to legislatively institutionalize an authoritarian state.
The signatories, who include Kavita Krishnan, Harsh Mander, Vimalbhai, Madhuresh Kumar, Vijayan MJ, Kavita Sriv…

Delhi advocacy group 'regrets' perception gap between Kashmiris, rest of India

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In a representation, prepared for forwarding it to the President of India, a Delhi-based advocacy group, Sadbhav Mission, has regretted that the Government of India's "perceptions" Kashmiris and the rest of the country are very different.
Seeking activists' signature across the country, it notes, "Complete lock down in Kashmir under heavy army deployment indicates a deep uneasiness of the Kashmiri people while there are provocative jubilations in other parts of the country.
Pointing out that "grievances as well as local aspirations of any people should find expression through their political representatives and elected bodies such as panchayats and assemblies, the draft representation says, "Reducing the status of J&K Assembly to two Union Territories is a serious curtailment of political rights of local populace, something unheard of in free India."
The civil rights group asserts, "Article 370 was introduced as a protection against enc…