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Showing posts from January, 2019

Book with 150 Gandhi quotations released in Ahmedabad

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'Gandhi Bolechhe' (Gandhi Speaks), a book containing Mahatma Gandhi's 150 quotations, was released on Wednesday in three languages – Gujarati, Hindi and English. Released by Kumarpal Desai, well-known Gujarati writer and padmashree awardee, and senior social activist Indukumar Jani, the quotations in the book have been chosen by Hemantkumar Shah, principal, HK Arts College, Ahmedabad.
Speaking on this occasion, Desai said that the book was an effort of taking Gandhi’s thoughts to people, while Jani underlined Gandhi’s importance in today’s context, pointing towards how he upheld ideas of equality before law. The book has been published by the HK Arts College with the support of Paragbhai Shah of the Shashwat Trust.
Shah said the book contained Gandhi's quotations on religion, truth, non-violence, economics, democracy, freedom, equality, God, kingdom, prayer etc., and contains the idea of the need to fight against against injustice. He added, Gandhi described poverty …

Govt of India "yet to release" Rs 6,084 crore for NREGA announced in mid-January

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The Government of India is yet to release the additional Rs 6,084 crore for NREGA “promised” on January 15, 2019. Pointing this out, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, in a statement, has said, the promise came after several MPs activists, former bureaucrats, academics and leaders of farmers’ movements wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister to highlight the chronic underfunding of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).
By the end of December, the statement said, 99 per cent of the central government’s NREGA fund for 2018-19 was exhausted. “Within a few days of this letter, the Central government announced a supplementary budget of Rs 6,084 crore for the ongoing financial year. This increased the total NREGA budget allocation for the 2018-19 to Rs 61,084 crore”, which was “too little, too late.”
The statement further said, “According to the official NREGA website (nrega.nic.in), the total central release so far is only Rs 53,353 crore. Including the state share, the total a…

South Gujarat tribal rights body seeks special state assembly discussion on adivasi issues

The South Gujarat-based civil rights organization, Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Morcha (AKSM), has asked 27 tribal legislators of Gujarat to demand a special discussion in the Gujarat state assembly, whose session begins on February 18. AKSM convener Romel Sutariya, in a statement, has said that the issue has become particularly important following efforts to acquire tribals’ land in Kevadiya colony in order to develop tourism around the Statue of Liberty.
Sutariya said, the 27 tribal legislators associated with various political parties of Gujarat should “show the political strength of tribal society and tribal problems”, regretting, the Gujarat government “is not prepared for a debate on the problems of tribal society.” Asking them to “boycott” the assembly session in case the state’s rulers do not agree, Sutariya added, all the tribal organizations, institutions, youth, the elderly, women and political parties should also seek a special discussion on tribals in the state assembly.

Supreme Court "poser": Why appoint only bureaucrats in Central Information Commission?

The Supreme Court has reportedly taken a “serious note” of the way in which the Government of India has sought to fill up vacant posts of information commissioners in the Central Information Commission (CIC), even as questioning the additional solicitor general as to why only bureaucrats were being short-listed and appointed as information commissioners.
A note issued by two senior Right to Information (RTI) activists, Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri, following an apex court hearing, said, “The court commented on the government’s propensity to only select bureaucrats for such posts even though the RTI Act provides for commissioners from various fields, only one of which is administration.”
The bench, consisting of Justice AK Sikri and Justice S Abdul Nazeer, wondered why even the search committee consisted mostly of bureaucrats who then short-listed other bureaucrats, the note added. After hearing all the arguments, the bench reserved the judgment.
The court’s observation came f…

Delhiites protest against proposed expansion of "toxic" garbage power plant

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The Joint Action Committee, which is fighting against the Government of India decision to go ahead with the expansion of the Jindal Garbage Plant in Sukdhdev Vihar, New Delhi, has said that it will “not tolerate polluted air” and continue fighting against “the poisonous plant”. In a statement issued following a massive demonstration against the plant, it said, toxic pollution coming out of the plant has been “recognized” even by the government.
Those who demonstrated were residents of Jasola Heights, Sukhdev Vihar, Johri Farm, Okhla Vihar, Gaffar Manzil, Haji Colony, Shahin Bagh, Butla House, Masihgarh, Badarpur, and Madanpur Khadar. They formed a human chain, which was later converted into a rally. Earlier, opposition to the plant led to the administration and the Delhi Pollution Control Board to a cancel a hearing on the plant’s expansion on January 16.
Insisting that environmental public hearing is a very important constitutional right, the statement said, “Experience across Ind…

Dams on Ganga are no less than "ticking" time bombs: NAPM

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In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior activists attached with the top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), have wondered as to how many more sons of Ganga will have to pay with their lives to save “mother” Ganga. Congratulating Modi for taking the policy decision not to make new dams on the river, the letter, however, regrets, “Presently, three under-construction dams, Tapovan-Vishnugad, Vishnugad-Pipalkoti and Singoli-Bhatwari, are threatening the survival of this holy river adding to the damage already done by a number of existing dams.”
Calling these dams “no less than ticking time bombs”, the letter says, “Swami Sanand fasted for 111 days to draw attention of the powers to be to its cries for survival before he succumbed unheeded. Carrying on the baton, Sant Gopaldas fasted for 146 days when he disappeared under suspicious circumstances unheard and unheeded. Presently the 26 year old young Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand from Matri Sada…

Kashmir students apprised of human rights issues, told to join hands with "common" cause

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Human rights defender Syed Mujtaba, advocate, who interacted with students at the Inspire Academy, Budgam, said that they should play a vital role in the protection and promotion of human rights. The interaction on January 24 was aimed at providing the students first hand information of institutional mechanism for the protection of human rights, even as apprising them with the situation on ground.
Mujtaba sensitized students about various academic and practical issues related to human rights like right to life, right to equality, dignity, liberty and life, right to health, right to education, right to freedom of expression, and rights of other vulnerable sections of society, which formed the central theme of the interaction.
Focusing on the importance of education as foundation for a progressive and knowledge-based society, which should be viewed from human rights perspective, Mujtaba asked students to join hands for a common cause for the protection of human rights, improving educat…

Hate Hatao app to be on Google Play Store from Jan 30, to collect evidence, monitor hate crimes

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The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) will be launching Hate Hatao, a new mobile app designed to fight hate, that can be used by anyone with a smartphone. To be made available on the Google Play Store from January 30, 2019, CJP says, it proposes to "revolutionise the way you can actively fight against hate of all kinds."
Hate Hatao will enable it's users to report on instances of hate speech, threats and hate crimes, with appropriate evidence, such as screenshot, video or picture. A CJP statement says, it proposes the complaint to "authorities such as the National Human Rights Commission, Press Council, National Broadcasters Association, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms or law enforcement agencies."
It adds, "We will also lodge FIRs and pursue the cases in court if necessary. You will then receive real-time updates on the status of your submitted report."

Karnataka women begin 12-day march towards Vidhana Soudha demanding ban on liquor

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Madya Nisheda Andolana (MNA) -- an anti-alcohol movement led by grassroots women which came into existence in 2015 when nearly 45,000 women, most of them are rural daily wage labourers and small scale peasants, took to streets in Raichur district for an agitation demanding complete ban on liquor in Karnataka -- has begun a 201 km long padhayatra for 12 days demanding for statewide complete prohibition on sales of liquor.
Led by about 3,000 women and begun on January 19, the marchers will walk about 20 km each day, and pass through Kyadigere, Hosuru, Nityananda Ashrama, Javagondana Halli, Tavara Kere, Sira, Chikkanahalli, Dodda Aladama Mara Cross, CB Temple, Darga Bellavi Cross, Tumakuru, Sidda Ganga Mutt, Adi Chunchanagiri Mutt, Kulavanahalli, T. Begur, Dasanapura, Exhibition Grounds and Yeshwantpur, before ending at the Vidhana Soudha.
Set to reach Bengaluru on January 30, the padyatra was formally inaugurated at Chitradurga with the support of progressive religious leaders and pont…

Govt of India, state govts "stifling" RTI Act: Supreme Court told

Arguing before a Supreme Court bench on controversial appointment of information commissioners, petitioners Anjali Bhardwaj, Lokesh Batra and Amrita Johri have argued that the “Government of India and state governments have attempted to stifle the functioning of the Right to Information (RTI) Act by failing to do their statutory duty of ensuring appointment of commissioners in the Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions, in a timely manner”.  Represented through senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, Pranav Sachdeva and Rahul Gupta, the petitioners underlined the need for transparency in the appointment of commissioners, insisting, “Lack of transparency in the appointment of information commissioners, and the violation of directions of the Supreme Court regarding the procedure for appointment of information commissioners, is undermining the institution of the information commission”.
Heard by the apex court bench consisting of Justices AK Sikri, S Abdul Nazeer and…

Gujarat govt "reserves" sanitation workers' job only for Dalits: Activists protest

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A Gujarat government advertisement in Gujarati for appointing four sanitation workers in Khambhaliya municipality in Devbhumi Dwarka district of Saurashtra region has said that only scheduled caste (SC), popularly Dalit, candidates should apply for the fixed pay job. The advertisement, signed by top local body officials, has created furor among Dalit rights activists, who wonder whether the state government believes sanitation work is meant only for Dalits.
In a Facebook post, well-known Dalit rights activist from Ahmedabad, Kirit Rathod, citing the advertisement, has said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just reserved 10% seats in government jobs for the economically weaker sections belonging to the dominant castes. Why is Gujarat government shying away from the 10% criterion bypassed here? It seems,  the state government believes, cleaning gutters is the job that only Dalits should do."

Gujarat's 24.9% girls in age group 14-16 out of school, double all-India average: Pratham report

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In a stark revelation, the Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER), brought out by the high-profile NGO Pratham, has said that Gujarat's 24.9% of girls in the age group 15-16 are out of school, which is the highest among all Indian states with the sole exception exception of Madhya Pradesh (26.6%). Further, the report shows that the percentage of out of school children in this age group is double the all-India average (13.5%).
Suggesting that most so-called Bimaru states perform better on this score, the data in the report show that, as against Gujarat's 24.9% out of school of girls in the age group 15-16, Uttar Pradesh has 22.2%, Chhattisgarh 21.2%, Rajasthan 20.1%, Jharkhand 11.2%, and Bihar 9.8%. The best performing state is Kerala, with 0.6% out of school girls, followed by 2% Himachal Pradesh.
The report states, "In 2006, the all India proportion of girls in the age group 11 to 14 who were out of school stood at 10.3%. In that year, 9 major states had out of school f…

Tribal civil rights body "celebrates" victory of woman sarpanch in South Gujarat

Victory of Manjulaben Lalsinhbhai Rathwa in the election of sarpanch of Gram Panchayat in Zer village, Chhotaudepur district, is the occasion to celebrate for the civil rights body working among tribal farmers of South Gujarat, Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Manch (AKSM), AKSM convener Romal Sutaria has said, adding, the victory has come about because AKSM “tirelessly” worked for developmental issues related with education, health, roads and land acquisition.
The victory has also come, claims Sutaria, amidst “false cases” being registered against AKSM workers after spreading “fake news” such as infiltration of red terror in Chhotaudaipur. This was done in order “to hinder the growth of the organization in the region”, he says, adding, however, this did not deter AKSM workers, and they ensured the victory of Manjulaben. The election campaign suggested that AKSM proved to be a medium to uphold the rights of the people and maintain unity.

"Pity", film Accidental Prime Minister ignores book's 80% defence of Manmohan Singh: Sanjaya Baru

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Former media adviser to ex-PM Manmohan Singh, Sanjaya Baru, has claimed that 80 per cent of his book "The Accidental Prime Minister" constitutes "the best available defence in print, even as of now, of the Manmohan Singh prime ministership", regretting, it is a " pity" that the film based on it, starring Anupam Kher and Akshaye Khanna, ignores this huge portion.
In an article in "The Week" titled "Have you read the book?", Baru says, underlines, "The book would have read like a hagiography, an unrelenting paean to the former prime minister, if it had not also contained the 20 per cent of criticism." However, he says, both media and the film which bears the same name as the book, focus on its "controversial parts, rather than the totality of a complex argument".
Directly commenting on the film, Baru underlines, "Now with the book being adapted into a movie, chances are that a larger body of opinion about th…

Will society wake up for the sake of Ganga, Narmada, other rivers? Wonders NAPM

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India's top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), regrets, despite the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared himself Gangaputra in 2014 and named the ministry of water resources after Ganga, things have not changed. NAPM said, even today, one cannot ignore the condition of Ganga remains difficult. Illegal sand mining, construction of huge dams, and a total contempt of environmental laws continue.
Recalling how Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand, or Prof GD Agarwal, an intelligent scientist who fully understood Ganga, gave his life for the sake of the river, observing hunger strike for 110 days, NAPM says, there is still no sympathy for his demands, nor have rulers engaged in discussion on keeping Ganga clean and serene.
Earlier, another saint, Swami Nigamanand, who was fast in 2013 to stop illegal sand mining, sacrificed his life, and now a 26-year-old young saint, Atmbodhanand, is on fast for 90 days, consuming only honey and lemon. NAPM s…

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…

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…