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Showing posts from May, 2019

Institute special task force to investigate rising Dalit atrocities: Uttarakhand CM told

Several senior activists under the banner of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) in an open letter to Trivendra Rawat, chief minister, Uttarakhand, and Vijay Bardhwal, president, State Women's Commission, have regretted that incidents of rape of Dalits girls is constantly on the rise in the state.
Referring to the May 30 incident, in which 24-year-old Vipin Panwar raped a mine-year-old minor Dalit girl his village in Nainbagh Tehsil, Jaunpur, Tehri Garhwal, the letter said, efforts by the family to get justice failed, but things came to light only after the girl's mother reached Dehradun with her unconscious daughter for treatment.
Pointing out that the accused is absconding, NAPM said, four years ago, a young woman of the Dalit family was gangraped by young men of the village. She was later murdered. The matter was suppressed under the pretext that it would bring bad name to the village.
NAPM said, the incident took place in the village where a Dalit, Jiten…

Why nobody objected to Gautam Gambhir, Sunny Deol in t-shirt, jean?: Activists

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Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan’s excitement on their first day as MPs was overshadowed by a barrage of sexism over their ‘non- sanskari’ outfits, a group of civil society activists have said in a statement. According to Aarushi Nigam, Divya Kaushik, Riya Sharma, Ruman Ganguly, and Anulekha Agarwal, both Bengali actors and first-time MPs "were certainly excited to take them on when they posted pictures from their new workplace on social media."
Hit by misogynistic comments, the activists say, "Their choice of workwear – jeans and a white button-down shirt for Mimi, a wine-coloured peplum suit for Nusrat – was the first and last word on their political competence for many."
“You’re not on vacation”, “they have mistaken Parliament for Kolkata’s Nicco Park or City Centre”, “this is not a photo studio, this is a place where you should fight for people’s rights and legislate”, “keep some respect towards your Bengali society” were some of the "nicer" things …

721 hate crimes in 2015-18, whither Modi's "promise" to minorities?: Amnesty

Commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi starting his second consecutive term, top international human rights organization Amnesty International has said that the recent crackdown by the Indian authorities – treating human rights organisations as criminal enterprises and human rights defenders as criminals – is inconsistent with the “recent promise” made by Modi to ensure that minorities should be made to live without fear.
According to Amnesty, between September 2015 and December 2018, Amnesty India “recorded a total of 721 incidents of hate crimes through its website ‘Halt the Hate’, adding, incidents documented by it “of hate crimes against people from marginalized communities, including Dalits, Adivasis, transgender persons, and migrants, and members of racial or religious minority groups” suggest that he has to take concrete actions for inclusive India.
"Hate crimes motivated by religious bias had risen to a decade-high of 93", Amnesy said, adding, “The year 2018 als…

Andhra Church leaders lend "all support" to Jagan Reddy

The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches (APFC), an apex body of the Bishops and Church Heads of mainline Churches and major Christian Denominations, has in a representation to new chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has said that it hopes he would fulfill “the hopes, aspirations and expectations of the people, especially of the poor and marginalized, without any fright, hatred, discrimination, favoritism and partiality.”
“May God grant you wisdom and discernment, courage and fortitude, generosity and magnanimity”, it said, adding, “We pray in a special way that God may enable and empower you to provide good governance free of corruption and crime, and casteism and communalism.”
APFC further said, “We, the Archbishops, Bishops, Church Heads and Leaders of Churches assure your Government wholehearted support and cooperation in the implementation of the Navaratnalu of your Government for the development of our State and prosperity of our people.” The representation has been signed by APF…

Women's rights organization declares support to complainant against CJI

Well-known women's rights organization, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), in an open letter to the complainant in the Chief Justice of India (CJI) sexual harassment case, has assured her that WSS will work with her "to ensure that due process is followed and that all institutions are held accountable, even at the highest court of the country."
Calling the "harassment" she and her family face even since she raised her voice against CJI Ranjan Gogoi as brazenly patriarchal, the letter praises her "resolve" to speak out against CJI.
Saying that it suggests her "resilience", the letter continues, her resolve "has forced into public domain, questions of accountability of the highest judicial body of this country, and demands that they demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law and justice, which they are supposed to uphold."
Signed by WSS conveners Ajita, Nisha, Rinchin and Shalini, the letter continues, &quo…

Punjab-Haryana High Court order "encouraging" UP govt to continue with fake encounters

The Uttar Pradesh civil rights organization Rihai Manch has sharply criticized the Punjab and Haryana High Court for saying that the two State governments should form a law to “finish off” criminals on the pattern of UP within six months, alleging it is speaking the language of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
In a statement, the Rihai Manch said, a delegation of the civil rights body met the family members of Shahzad after they raised questions over the manner in which he was killed in a police encounter in Saharanpur. The delegation consisted of Ravish Alam, Ashu Chaudhary, Engineer Usman, Ash Muhammad, Amir Ahmed, Arsh Tyagi and Sajid.
Following the meeting, the Rihai Manch issued a statement, where it criticized the Yogi government for the law which gives powers to the police powers to finish off gangsters and anti-social elements, insisting the High Court order has come at a time when backwards, Dalits and minorities are being targeted in UP.
In many cases, the National Human …

Rattled Congress "tells" media: Don't fall for rumour mongering, speculations

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Rattled by the report that Congress president Rahul Gandhi criticised at least thee senior Congress leaders -- former Union minister P Chidambaram, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot -- for placing their sons above the party during the Lok Sabha polls, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala has blamed media for falling on "conjectures, speculations, insinuations, assumptions, gossip and rumour mongering".
Claiming that the Congress Working Committee (CWC) as the highest decision making body was involved merely in "exchange of ideas and take corrective action", Surjewala said, members of CWC had expressed their views in the meeting dated May 25, 2019, looking into "the reverses in the Lok Sabha elections as an opportunity for radical changes and a complete organizational overhaul, for which it authorized Rahul Gandhi."
Calling such media attitude "uncalled for and unwarranted", he asked media …

Adivasi professor in Jharkhand arrested for Facebook post supporting beef eating

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Jeetrai Hansda, a tribal activist and professor at the Government School and College for Women, Sakchi, in Jharkhand has been arrested almost two years after he wrote a Facebook post asserting his community’s right to eat beef. Hansda's arrest is based of a complaint filed against by RSS' student wing Akhil Bharati Vidyarthi Parishad.
Arrested two days after the declaration of the Lok Sabha election results, the complaint was ‘investigated’ by inspector Anil Kumar Singh of Sakchi police station, Jamshedpur, Hansda wrote that the Adivasi community in India has had a long tradition of eating beef and ceremonial cow sacrifice. He had added, it is their democratic and cultural right to consume beef.
Supporting Hansda, Dasmath Hansdah, chief of the Majhi Pargana Mahal, in a letter to the vice-chancellor said that there were no inaccuracies in Hansda’s post, calling the assertions made by him a “truthful representation of the cultural and religious traditions of the Adivasi community…

Lok Sabha mandate "one-sided", casts aspersions on poll process: Sandeep Pandey, others

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A group of social activists led by senior academic Sandeep Pandey, supporting Mayawati’s demand to re-conduct polls using ballot papers, have said that :the manner in which recently conducted Lok Sabha elections have given an unprecedented one-sided mandate favouring Bhartiya Janta Party "casts aspersions on electoral process.”
Organized under the Lok Rajniti Manch, they said in a statement, “It appears as if BJP had managed a grip to control all institutions in democracy to get its desired results. We demand that to ensure citizens of India continue to believe in democracy, 100% VVPAT and EVMs data be tallied.”
The statement adds, “If irregularity to large extent is found then as demanded by national leader of Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati, entire election be conducted using ballot paper.” The statement has been also signed by Rajeev Yadav, Gaurav Singh (Lucknow), Yugal Kishore Shastri (Ayodhya), Faisal Khan (Delhi), Lubna Sarwath (Hyderabad), Gurumurti M (Bengaluru), and Ma…

Post-poll debacle, surging oil prices is Congress' "top" priority

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The Congress Working Comittee (CWC), even as unanimously "rejecting" Rahul Gandhi's resignation as party president following the poll debacle, in its list "challenges" India faces has put "the issue of surging oil prices post-sanctions against Iran as also price rise stares us in the face" at the very top.
Then comes the banking sector which is allegedly in "dire straits with uncontrolled and unchecked non-performing assets (NPAs) soaring to nearly Rs 12 lakh crore, over last five years, threatening the very stability of banking operations", followed by "financial viability of non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), wherein hard earned savings of the people’s life are invested."
This is followed by "the downturn of economy coupled with lack of private investment and a steep fall in consumption patterns, point towards grave economic slowdown", the "looming job crisis" , the "agrarian crisis", and severe…

Surat fire tragedy: Gujarat govt hasn't learned from past tragedies, says SUCI

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In a memorandum to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Gujarat, a political group, has said that the Takshshila fire tragedy in Surat, which has led to the death of 23 students, suggests that the Gujarat government has not learned any lesson over the last two years, during which period 11 incidents of fire tragedy leading to the loss of 27 lives took place in the city.
“Has your government learned any lessons from it? Or the same noise, same reaction of strict action by your government to forget it and to move on further?”, SUCI’s Meenakshi Joshi said, adding, “Every day, In our country there are 59 deaths due to fire incidents. This is much more than death due to terrorism or crime.”
Asserting that “fire safety norms are never complied in Gujarat”, Joshi said, “Three fire tragedies took place in past six months in Gujarat. Now after the incident in Takhshila tuition class, the government suddenly is awakened again to clamp down on tuiti…

Demand for 50% EVM verification with VVPATs: Missed call campaign reached 2.5 lakh on May 23

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In May first week, several political activists got together and launched a missed call campaign (on the phone No 9667655855) in support of the demand that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50 percent electronic voting machine (EVM) data with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.
During the counting for the Lok Sabha polls on May 23, as per the Supreme Court guidelines, only two percent EVM data will be verified with VVPAT slips. As of May 21, morning (10.30 am) 83,994 persons gave a missed call supporting the demand of 50 percent EVM verification with VVPAT. On the day of the polls, May 23, this number touched 2.50 lakh.
At the same time, senior political activist and environmentalist Mahesh Pandya had simultaneously launched a petition through change.org with the same demand of 50 percent EVM verification in each Assembly Constituency with VVPAT. As of May 21, 10.30 am, 9,973 people signed the petition. On May 23, this number cr…

Guard EVMs, role of Election Commission not neutral: Concerned citizens appeal

A group of concerned citizens have in an appeal said they are "deeply perturbed" with reports coming in from various parts of the country of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and even a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) being transported in unauthorized trucks and private vehicles, allegedly to exchange EVMs from strong rooms and replace them with alternate EVMs.
Pointing out that there are also videos of EVMs being stored in unauthorized storage houses and shops, the appeal says, "While the Election Commission (EC) has denied over years that EVMs can be tampered, many of us have been raising the issue of EVM tampering from Gujarat 2002 election onwards."
Signed by academicians, litterateurs, trade union leaders, social activists and film makers, the appeal says, "We are concerned that voters’ verdict sealed inside the EVM machines is sought to be tampered. We strongly believe that the responsibility of ensuring that the Voters’ Verdict is not changed…

Vidyasagar statue vandalization culmination of hate culture: Gujarat memorandum

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About 45 Gujarat activists have, in a memorandum to the President of India on the vandalisation of the statue of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar last week in West Bengal, have said that the incident is "the culmination of the culture and politics of hatred that has unleashed in our country." The memorandu, however, refrains from naming any political party. "Words fail to condemn the vandalisation of the bust of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, one of the pioneers of Indian social reform movement, during the election campaign of Loksabha poll at Kolkata", the memorandum reads, adding, "Starting from Vivekananda, Gandhiji, Tagore and many were inspired by Vidyasagar. Devaluating the greatness of renaissance and freedom struggle will push us to the dark age of feudal society."
Continues the memorandum, "A culture of talibisation has usurped in the country. Statues of Gandhiji, Ambedkar, Periyar, and Lenin have been vandalized in recent past. Vandalism of statues is no…

No minority community midday meal scheme cook-cum-helper in Gujarat: Govt of India

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A Government of India fact-sheet, released late last year on the midday meal scheme across India, has been brought to light to show that Gujarat is one of the two major states with zero minority community cook-cum-helpers. The other state is Chhattisgarh. In the country as a whole, out of a total of 25,12,111 cook-cum-helpers, 6.14% or 1,54,438 are from minority communities.
Out of 96,329 cook-cum-helpers in Gujarat, 10,887 or 11.3% are from scheduled castes (SCs), 22,542 or 22.4% are from scheduled to tribes (STs), 43,705 or 45.37% from other backward classes (OBCs), and 19,195 or 19.92% are from the general category. SC population of Gujarat is less than 7%, while there are 14% STs in Gujarat.
A Right to Information (RTI) plea filed by a senior minority rights activist failed to get any information on this score from the Gajarat government. Mujahid Nafees of the Minority Coordination Committee told CV News that the official concerned sought to provide the same information that i…

Withdraw FIR, "fake" charges against Bihar TU leaders in Araria: NAPM

The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a top human rights network, has taken strong exception to FIR and "fake" charges registered by the Araria (Bihar) District Police against activists Kamayani Swami, Ranjit Paswan and 150 un-named persons of the Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS) for sitting in "peaceful satyagraha" against bureaucratic delays and corruption in Nagar Parishad Araria.
In a statement, NAPM said, On the May 7, 2019 around 200 members of JJSS, a local union of workers and marginal farmers, and residents of Baijnathpur in Araria District, Bihar, gathered in front of the office of the executive officer of Araria Nagar Parishad. Using the satyagraha method as a means of non-violent protest, people were demanding release of money in “Sabke liye Awaas” , “Swachh Bharat” and “Lohia Swachh Bihar Mission”schemes and social security pension scheme.
A representative body of JJSS even met the officials, and later executive officer Dinanath Singh …

As Narmada goes dry, environmentalist asks: Where's Gujarat govt's water policy?

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Senior Ahmedabad-based environmentalist Mahesh Pandya has sharply criticised the Gujarat government for failing to come up with water policy despite "grim" situation across the state. Pandya, who heads Paryavaran Mitra, told a seminar jointly called by the Gujarat Institute for Civil Engineers and Architects and Public Cause and Environment that the water level in the Sardar Sarovar dam is 119 metres, yet Narmada downstream is dry.
"Sea waters are intruding into Narmada, salinity has gripped the villages along two sides of of the river, yet chief minister Vijay Rupani is dreaming of water tourism for 12 kilometres downstream of the dam, by filling up 32 metres water", Pandya said, adding, "Plans to have a barrage at Bhadbhut at the mouth of Narmada allegedly to stop salinity ingress invading the river are being toyed since 2012, yet nothing has happened."
Pointing out that the plan to bring to life dead rivers too has gone awry, Pandya said, industrial u…

High Court seeks explanation: Delhi govt attitude towards food security "lackadaisical"

A Delhi High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Anup Bhambhani has sought to know from the Delhi state government if any action has been taken to put in place the statutory grievance redress framework under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
It was hearing a contempt petition filed by the civil rights organization, Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA) against the state government for its "failure" to comply with the order of the court dated September 1, 2017.
The bench directed the representative of the food department to file a detailed affidavit along with relevant documents on steps taken since the order of September 1, 2017 and where the file was currently pending.
Expressing its dissatisfaction with the reply filed by the state government to the contempt petition, the bench observed the government attitude was lackadaisical, as the rules for grievance redress and accountability have still not been promulgated more than five years aft…

Central, Gujarat govts told to clarify: Why hide facts on pollution in Narmada Dam, canals?

In a letter to Gujarat and Central government authorities, top environmentalist Rohit Prajapati has wondered why is it such a big secret that it is refusing to share information on reasons behind the presence of sulphide and decrease in dissolved oxygen (DO) in the Sardar Sarovar Dam and its canals.
Referring to water samples taken in February 2019 by his team of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) activists, Prajapati said, though he had declared the pollution level, and informed about it to officials concerned on February 12, 2019, he has still not received any reply.
The letter, sent, among others, to the chairman, Narmada Control Authority, Gujarat chief secretary, and the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) chairman, says that the state government declared that the concerned authorities were seeking the help of the Oceanography Department, which has the equipment and expertise to collect samples from the base of reservoirs, wondering what has happened thereafter. Suggestin…

Youth in Bhopal say they want to vote Modi, as they "haven't heard" the secular narrative

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Senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi, known for her anti-Modi slant, has regretted that youth in Bhopal have not heard the "other narrative" on why BJP shouldn't in these elections. Talking with a group outside a sweet shop, when she asked whom do they want to win, the immediate "reply was Modi".
"I spoke to them for 15 minutes. I got their attention within 2-3 minutes. They listened. I could see on their faces they had never heard another narrative", Hashmi said in a recent Facebook post. Bhopal is witnessing a keen battle between Malegaon terror accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur from BJP and veteran Congress stalwart Digvijay Singh.
Hashmi, who is known to have campaigned against BJP, especially Modi, ever since the 2002 Gujarat riots, admitted, "I have maintained since 2002 secularism has not failed. Our reach has failed. We are too small a numger to counter RSS propaganda."
Recalling that her organization, Anhad "held camps fro…

Reinstate, make permanent 150 suspended sanitation workers: Online petition

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Sanitation workers, students and teachers of the Delhi University have in a petition to the vice chancellor taken strong exception to the recent overnight termination of over 150 Safai Karamcharis from their jobs, pointing out that the "cruel irony of laying off" this happened on May 1.
Asking aware citizens to sign the online petition, the plea to the vice chancellor says, the termination followed the expiry of the tender of the contractor Sulabh International which had hired workers on a contractual basis. This includes 35 workers who had filed a case in the labour court for non-payment of fair wages, ESI and PF.
The petition says, the terminated workers had been employed in Delhi University for the last 3 to 15 years and have been systematically exploited and harassed by the contractor and the university under your watch. It claims, women workers have been harassed by bouncers of Sulabh International openly with complete impunity provided by the university.
Accusing th…

Suspend senior cop Falguni Patel for "abusing" Dalits, demands Jignesh Mevani

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Jignesh Mevani, Gujarat Dalit rights leader and MLA, has demanded that the state government should immediately suspend Aravalli district's deputy superintendent of police Falguni Patel for allegedly abusing Dalits in Khambisar village after people from the dominant caste stalled a Dalit wedding procession, leading to clashes. “A video is viral on the social media. It is enough of evidence to institute an inquiry against her under the anti-atrocities Act”, he said.
Addressing media, Mevani, flanked by top Dalit rights activist Martin Macwan, accused Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani for keeping mum over the row, saying this amounted to “siding with the casteist sections of the village”. Referring to four similar incidents on Dalit wedding procession in rural Gujarat which took place over the last one week, he said, instead of taking action against the dominant caste people the cops were acting against the Dalits, who are the victims.
Insisting that these are clear cases of prev…

Sexual harassment allegation: President of India told to ask CJI to abstain from performing duties

The Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD), a Gujarat-based rights organization has, in a memorandum, asked the President of India to intervene and protect the credibility of the Supreme Court following the recent incident of allegations of sexual harassment on the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
The memorandum says, “Today, we are facing an unprecedented crisis of credibility of the Supreme Court. In dealing with a complaint of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India, the court has failed to adhere to the principles of natural justice and follow established principles of law for the inquiry into sexual harassment allegations.”
“We stand in solidarity with the complainant”, asserts the memorandum, adding, “We strongly object to the summary dismissal of the allegations and absolving of the CJI without adherence to the norms of a fair and independent inquiry.”
It adds, “The procedure followed in this case not only stands in utter violation of the basic tenets of natural justic…

Congress separated itself from anti-Sikh mob, Modi became friend of rioting 2002 mob: Time

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The "Time" magazine, which is making headlines for calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi "divider in chief", is surprisingly soft on the Congress for the party's alleged participation in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Pointing out that the country has "a long history of politically instigated sectarian riots, most notably the killing of at least 2,733 Sikhs in the streets of Delhi after the 1984 assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards", the top journal states, "The Congress leadership, though hardly blameless, was able, even through the selective profession of secular ideals, to separate itself from the actions of the mob."
On the other hand, according to "Time", "Modi, by his deafening silences after more recent atrocities, such as the killing of more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, in his home state of Gujarat in 2002, proved himself a friend of the mob."
The weekly states, Modi "made one yearn for the …

Why did Govt of India maintain ominous silence in PepsiCo case against Gujarat farmers?: Activists

PepsiCo India Holdings Ltd, which withdrew their legal suits against the farmers at the Commercial Court of Ahmedabad and the district court of Modasa, have done it under intense public and political pressure, farmers’ rights groups have asserted in a statement, warning, this in no way means that the public campaign is over. The battle is only half won on the field. The Government of India maintained an ominous silence on the issue, taking cover of the matter being sub judice.
Addressing media, their advocate Anand Yagnik stated that these farmers are into subsistence farming and not commercial farming. It must be kept in mind that in India the right of farmer to cultivate land and agricultural produce is superior to the right of MNCs seeking protection in the name of registration. The law of India allows farmers to use even registered seeds and take produce.
Kapilbhai Shah, Coordinator, Beej Adhikar Manch, a newly formed platform to protect farmers’ seed sovereignty, recalled, wh…

CSR funds are not going to grassroots level civil society organizations:VANI

The high-profile NGO Voluntary Action Network India (VANI) has welcomed the Government of India move to appoint a High-Level Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility under the chairmanship of Injeti Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), to review the existing framework and guide and formulate the roadmap for a coherent policy on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The committee is entrusted with the task of analyzing outcomes of CSR activities/programmes/projects and suggesting innovative solutions, use of technology, platform to connect stakeholders, and social audit.
In a letter to Srinivas, and signed by K Shivakumar, VANI says, it has already presented 16 recommendations for advocating the effectiveness of CSR, adding, it conducted two programmes Tamil Nadu, where grassroots civil society organisations (CSO) complained that they are not able to get funds from CSR.
According to VANI, CSR funds are not flowing to the grassroots organizations even though th…

Upload details with photographs of govt's water conservation work: Gujarat CM told

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Ahmedabad-based environmental NGO Paryavaran Mitra has demanded that the Gujarat government should go transparent regarding chief minister Vijay Rupani's statement that between May 1 and June 12, 2018, a capacity of 12,000 lakh square feet of water conservation facilities were added in the state.
In a letter to Rupani, the NGO's director, Mahesh Pandya, said that the state government should also go public regarding which are the 32 rivers which he claimed were revived, which were the 13,000 new ponds were created, and the 5,000 km long canals cleaned up.
Insisting that details about this should be put up on a government website that people could come to know about the "excellent" work the state government says it has been doing for water conservation, Pandya reminded Rupani that he had also claimed, a whopping 82 lakh mandays employment was given to 2.62 lakh citizens for all these works.
"The details should be uploaded on a government website along with photog…

Atmabodhanand ended fast after "significant" civil society pressure on govt

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Welcoming the Government of India move which led Swami Atmabodhanand to break his 194-day fast at Matri Sadan, Haridwar, for cleaning up Ganga, senior activist Chandra Vikash, who campaigned for the cause, has regretted that this was made possible only after “significant pressure” from civil society groups on the government to “relent on its criminal negligence” for the cause.
Calling Ganga a “most valuable natural resource”, he said, despite this, the government tried to “to cover up by a canard of lies and disinformation to cloud the public opinion on how it had cleaned up the Ganga.”
Vikash added, Nitin Gadkari, the minister in charge of Ganga rejuvenation, has now “climbed down from his vague proclamations of having cleaned up 80% to 70% and most recently 30% when the truth is that the mother river is even more polluted and being wrecked by dams and other encroachments even in areas where the previous Manmohan Singh government had declared eco-sensitive zone.”
“This entire operat…

Scarcity of water in tribal-dominated Chhotaudepur: Gujarat CM asked to intervene

In a letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, a senior Dalit rights social worker, Kantilal Parmar, has said that the state government should take urgent steps to ensure provision of water in tribal-dominated villages of Chhotapudepur district of south Gujarat.
Pointing out that even handpumps in a large of such villages are not in a working condition, especially after early this year, Parmar said, the situation is bad despite the fact that the Narmada dam is not very far away, and the Narmada canal passes through the district.
"The state government should provide details on whether it is providing Narmada water to the tribals", Parmar said, regretting, despite complaints in the past "no steps have been taken by the state government to mitigate the situation."

Demand to provide midday meal to poor students admitted in private schools

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Senior Ahmedabad-based activist Mahesh Pandya has demanded that private schools should provide midday meal to poor children who have been admitted in private schools under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
In a letter to the Midday Meal Commission, Gujarat government, Pandya, midday meal is an important government scheme to ensure poor school going children get nutritious food.
"However", Pandya, who is director, Paryavaran Mitra, an environmental NGO, regretted, none of the private schools where poor children have been admitted under the RTE Act are provided with midday meal. "Arrangements to provide these children with midday meal should be immediately made", he insisted.

Costs of environmental damage due to illegal mining in Gir-Somnath, Junagadh sought

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Gujarat State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to assess Net Present Value (NPV) of limestone following illegal mining in Gir-Somnath and Junagadh districts of Gujarat.
In its order dated May 1, it also asked the three agencies to calculate the cost of damage to environment and pristine ecology, cost of mitigation and restitution of the environment, and deterrent environmental compensation. NGT asked GPCB to submit detailed of actions taken before by July 24, 2019.
The order follows an application filed by Sreeja Chakraborty regarding illegal limestone mining in Gir-Somnath and Junagad districts of Gujarat. The plea said, limestone mining is been carried out without any prior Environmental Clearance from SEIAA. As many as 20 miners were identified by the applicant.

Gujarat High Court directs state govt to treat pilgrimage spots of all religions equally

The Gujarat High Court has ruled that the state government agency meant to look after religious spots, Gujarat Pavitra Yatradham Board, should take under its fold holy pilgrimage spots of all religions. Mujahid Nafees, convenor, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), had filed a public interest application (PIL) (201/2018) in the High Court, seeking equal treatment to all religions from the Board.
The PIL said, the country's constitution clearly asserts that the state shall not promote any particular religion, and shall treat every religion equally. Yet, the Board is promoting religious spots of a particular religion to the exclusion of others. The High Court directed the state government to treat pilgrimage spots of all religions equally. Nafees said, the High Court order is an important step towards justice for disadvantaged sections.

South Gujarat river interlinking scheme to "displace" tribals, farmers of 288 villages

South Gujarat’s tribal rights organization, Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Morch (AKSM), has raised the alarm that the ambition river interlinking project, Par-Tapi-Narmada Link Scheme, is likely to lead to acquisition of 10,559.70 hectare (ha) of land, of which 4,439.40 ha is forest land. Of this, only 967.80 ha is government land, while the rest belongs to farmers, including tribal farmers, or is forest land.
Under the scheme, says AKSM in a statement, the Government of India claims, the rainwater floods which flood the Ukai dam will be diverted to Maharashtra, so that several areas of South Gujarat are saved of excessive flooding. “This is travesty of the truth”, the tribal rights body states, adding, “The main issue is, are the tribal farmers of Gujarat going to be benefited from the scheme. The answer is a clear no.”
Those who suffer because of the river interlinking scheme are tribals belonging to as many as 288 villages of Valsad, Tapi, Navsari, Surat, Narmada, Vadodara and Dang di…

Gujarat potato farmers tell PepsiCo: Withdraw court cases unconditionally, compensate

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Gujarat potato farmers sued by PepsiCo have rejected the top multinational corporation’s (MNC’s) announcement that it would withdraw cases against them under certain terms and conditions, asserting that Indian farmers’ seed freedoms are non-negotiable. Talking with media in Ahmedabad, one of the four potato farmers, Bipin Patel, flanked by half-a-dozen farmer leaders, said, “We learn from media that they will withdraw cases against us, but this should be unconditional.”
Chhabilbhai Patel and Vinodbhai Patel, also present on the occasion, added that they should be paid compensation for the harassment they were subjected to even though the law is very clear on the subject, regretting, while the Gujarat government is learnt to be negotiating with PepsiCo, it has still not talked to them.
According to them, the court proceedings came as a shock to them, including the amount of damages that the company was claiming – Rs 1.5 crore each. It was clearly trying to intimidate and harass us. I…

Adani mine in Australia would "remove" a top habitat for the black-throated finch

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Commenting on the Australia's Queensland government’s Department of Environment and Science decision that India's powerful Adani Group's plan to "manage" its proposed mine’s impacts on the endangered black-throated finch is "inadequate", the international NGO 350.org has said that is "yet another example of the failure of this company to meet the standards expected of the mining industry in Australia."
The top NGO's Australian office in a statement said, "We have lost 29 Australian bird species in the last 200 years, and Australians don’t want to see more extinctions on our watch. The Adani mine, if it were to proceed, would remove one of the last remaining habitats for the black-throated finch."
The Adanis' plan to “save” this bird included a proposal to relocate the last of the species to a habitat that happens to sit on land owned by Clive Palmer – and is under a current proposal for another coal mine that would remove tha…

Indian industry's sales levels, profit margins drastically go down: IIM-A survey

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The latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) has revealed that in March 2019, nearly 3/5ths of the firms in the sample reported that sales are ‘somewhat or much less than normal’, and the proportion of firms that reported ‘much less than normal’ sales has increased sharply to 38% in March 2019.
The BIES report further said that the proportion of firms in the sample reporting ‘normal or greater than normal’ profit margins has declined further to 33% in March 2019 from 38% in February 2019, the This is primarily due to sharp increase in the proportion of firms reporting ‘much less than normal’ profit in March 2019, it added. The results are based on the responses of over 1600 companies.
The survey report also said, "One year ahead business inflation expectation, as estimated from the mean of individual probability distribution of unit cost increase, has increased to 3.68% in March 2019 from 3.55% observed in Februa…

No respite from child labour as 2 lakh schools close down: National consultation on RTE told

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A civil society consultation organized by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Campaign against Child Labour, and the Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Development in Delhi has been told that the Government of India is “not serious about” about RTE and there has been only 4% increase in RTE compliance since 2014, when BJP came to power.
Ambarish Rai, national convener, RTE Forum, said, “At this rate it will take nearly 90 years to fully implement the RTE Act”, insisting, it is the government’s responsibility to open schools to make education accessible, but over the last five years, the BJP government
“has closed down nearly 2 lakh schools”, which suggests that it is aiming to “hand over education to private players.”
Alka Singh from Save the Children, who presented a consolidated report card of education that details what has happened over the last five years, said that from amongst 5-14 years of children there are almost 1 crore child labourers. She added, there are 80,000 st…