Goa- MOPA Airport a ploy to push real estate rates #Makanakamopa


Wednesday, 05 June 2013 | Mayabhushan | Panaji

The proposed Greenfield international airport in Mopa is nothing but a ploy by politicians cutting across political lines to push real estate rates up for their benefits, a group of farmers alleged on Tuesday.

Addressing a Press conference in Panaji on Tuesday, Mopa Vimantall Pidit Xetkar Samiti, a body of farmers protesting against the acquisition of land for the proposed international airport, named three politicians, who had purchased land in the vicinity of the airport site at Mopa village, located 40 kms north of the capital, near the Goa-Maharashtra border.

Samiti’s secretary Sandeep Kambli, said, “Laxmikant Parsenkar, Ramakant Khalap and Wilson Godinho, brother of Congress MLA Mauvin Godinho are those who we know have bought land near Mopa. We have copies of the sale deeds in their names. There maybe more, we do not know about yet,” Kambli said.

The samiti said that the State does not need a second airport and that the new one is being forced on the State. Neither of the politicians named have denied making the purchases rather sought to justify them.

BJP spokesperson Damodar Naik said that the Parsekar’s land purchases at Mopa were genuine and without ulterior motive. Khalap and Mauvin who have both publicly supported the coming up of the new airport have insisted that their support was for the holistic development. and ‘jobs’ a functioning airport would give the local residents.

Goa presently has one airport, run by the Indian Navy, while the civilian terminal is controlled by the Airports Authority of India. The airport is at Dabolim and is equidistant from Goa’s north, south and eastern extremes.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has also defended the airport saying that increasing air passenger traffic, combined with military restrictions on timing and access to areas within the airport had forced both the central as well as the State Government to start another airport in north Goa.

The Mopa airport, on a plateau at Goa’s northernmost tip, however, as been the centre of a political storm especially since the current Government decided to fast track the process, almost creating a North Goa-South Goa divide.

South Goa politicians claim that once Mopa is operational, the military airport at Dabolim would be off-limits to civilians. The extent of how real this fear us was exemplified by the fact that the proponents of the airport have had to repeatedly insist that Dabolim will not be shut down.

Kambli along with 60 farmers have already approached the Bombay High court seeking a stay on the acquisition of over 23 lakh sq mts land required for the airport.

 

#India- Question mark over issuing resident identity card plans #NPR #UID


ET, March 25, 2013

 

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NEW DELHI: The government is having second thoughts about the wisdom of having a national identity card for all Indian residents — an idea that was first mooted by late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986, was promised by Congress as part of its 2009 election manifesto, and has been approved by the cabinet on different occasions in the past. At the first meeting of the group of ministers set up under Defence Minister AK Antony to review the proposed expenditure on such cards, ministers raised basic questions about the purpose of issuing resident I-cards — queries that have been already settled or resolved by previous decisions. Over 150 countries issue such national I-cards to their residents, including Germany, Oman, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“Will the resident identity cards serve any purpose? These cards must serve a larger social purpose which should be demonstrable,” said a senior minister who is part of the GoM, when asked about the dithering over the decision to issue I-cards based on the National Population Register (NPR) being created by the census office.

The worries seem to be political as Congress does not want to spark a debate over who is a resident or who is a citizen. It may be looking to delay the process of issuing I-cards, which would have coincided with the build-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and five major state elections over the next seven months.

“The resident I-cards could unleash a fresh form of politics over Indian citizens versus residents,” admitted a minister.

Any discussion on this subject will throw up the issue of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, an important vote bank in several states like Assam and West Bengal. The Congress brass is also apprehensive that a resident identity card based on biometric (finger print and iris) data collected for the NPR would be seen as a tool that could be used to target minorities.

Nearly Rs 4,000 crore has already been spent on the NPR exercise to collect biometric details of all residents, of the Rs 6,600-odd crore approved by the cabinet for the purpose. But on January 31, the cabinet did not clear the expenditure for issuing I-cards to 82 crore adult Indian residents at a cost ofRs 5,500 crore, feigning confusion between the NPR and Aadhaar numbers being issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

Home ministry officials had made a presentation to the GoM on March 13 about these I-cards’ utility in addressing security concerns as well as delivering the government’s welfare programmes to the poor — and the executive decisions over the past several years to issue them. But ministers aren’t convinced. “The security applications of NPR cards are not clear,” said the minister quoted earlier, requesting anonymity. “If someone runs away after triggering a blast, how will having an NPR card help? Police enquiries also result in tracing such people even without identity,” he pointed out.

Another minister who is part of the GoM said security concerns flagged by the Indian Navy after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks have already been addressed by the coastal NPR exercise that was conducted on a priority basis. But the exercise covered only 1.2 crore people in 3,331 coastal villages and small towns. Major cities like Chennai and Mumbai and larger towns that dot India’s coastline are yet to be covered, said a senior government official.

In June 2012, the committee on strengthening coastal security against threat from sea had directed the census office to complete the NPR, and issue I-cards to people in all the remaining coastal areas on a priority basis. The National Security Council Secretariat has made a similar request to the home ministry to provide identity cards to people living in the Siliguri corridor in the North-East.

Officials are baffled by the government’s growing reluctance over the issue of such cards despite explicit assurances to Parliament that this would be the logical conclusion of the NPR exercise. They point to Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s approval of the I-card costs following elaborate deliberations by the Expenditure Finance Committee, which over three meetings had settled all the concerns or doubts raised about NPR cards by the Planning Commission, UIDAI and ministries.

“Normally, once the finance ministry okays an expenditure, the cabinet simply ratifies the move as all the pros and cons have been thoroughly examined by the ministry. It’s very unusual for the government to send the issue to a GoM,” a secretary-rank official remarked at a meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office last week to discuss the UPA’s Aadhaar-led ‘game changer’ — direct benefit transfer.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia and UIDAI chief Nandan Nilekani are special invitees to the GoM that also includes Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Chidambaram.

The home ministry has requested the Cabinet Secretariat for the GoM to be reconvened soon and is preparing a fresh note on how NPR cards will address security threats in the areas of border management, immigration, counter-insurgency and terrorism.

 

 

 

#India- SC to hear PIL on caste/region/religion-based Army recruitment


Sudan Block at the National Defence Academy (I...

 

 

 

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi  March 18, 2013

 

The Supreme Court today listed afresh for hearing a plea seeking abolition of recruitment in the Army on the basis of caste, region and religion claiming it was violative of the Constitutional right to equal opportunity in public employment.

“Have you (petitioner) supplied the copy of the petition to

the Solicitor General (SG). Give the copy to the SG. List on April 10,” a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said.

The court was hearing the plea of I S Yadav, a doctor hailing from Rewari in Haryana, seeking abolition of Indian Army‘s recruitment criteria for its duty soldiers on the grounds of caste, region and religion.

Yadav, in his plea, submitted that unlike Air Force and Navy, there is “discriminatory classification” for recruitment on caste/religion/region basis and submitted that a national policy of recruitment be formed in the Army.

“At recruitment stage there cannot be caste-cum- religion-cum-region based classification. There cannot be specific recruitment on the basis of caste, region and religion to various regiments like Maratha Regiment, Rajasthan Rifles, Dogra Regiment, Jat Regiment, etc. This classification of the army is a British legacy and is not sanctioned by any law made by Parliament,” he said.

“In Indian Air Force and in Indian Navy there is no such discriminatory classification of Squadrons/Fleets based on caste/religion/region and hence recruitment in Indian Air Force and Indian Navy is on all-India, all-class basis. Yet in Army alone there are caste/religion/region based regiments,” the petitioner said

 

Dear Barkha Dutt: The Buck Stops Where?


JANUARY 16, 2013

On the of latest edition, (telecast a few hours ago, on the evening of the 15th of January, 2013) of ‘The Buck Stops Here’, (a flagship news show on NDTV anchored by Barkha Dutt) – ‘India-Pakistan:Another Tipping Point‘, Admiral (Retd.) Ramdas, former chief of the Indian Navy said he knew that Indian forces have beheaded Pakistani soldiers in the past. Gen. (Retd.) V.P. Malik, former chief of the Indian Army contradicted him, and said this had never happened. Barkha Dutt was silent on this matter.

Below is a summary of some highlights of the discussion.

Around 21:15 minutes into the programme, Admiral Ramdas says, “Beheading of Troops has been going on from both sides has been for some time, I mean there is evidence of this…”

Barkha Dutt, eager to change the subject, nervously interjects and says ‘I want you to comment, Sir, on Sporting and Cultural ties, because that is what has been hit today…’. Why is she so anxious to change the subject? Is it because Admiral Ramdas is clearly speaking about something she personally does not want spoken about?

Then, a little later, Ms. Dutt asks Gen. Malik to speak, she also asks him to talk whether ‘Sporting and Cultural Ties should become the fall-guy’.

Gen. V.P. Malik says (around 24:40 minutes into the program), “…And I don’t agree with Admiral (Ram) Das that both sides have been doing this, I would like to see anybody give me one instance where this kind of inhuman act has been done by the Indian army… I know that with great respect, we not only buried their bodies with great respect…we returned any body that they asked for.”

Barkha Dutt knows what Admiral Ramdas was talking about. As has been pointed out before on Kafila, she has written about it (the decapitation of Pakistani soldiers by the Indian army during the Kargil conflict in the summer of 1999) herself in Himal magazine (June, 2001).

I had to look three times to make sure I was seeing right. Balanced on one knee, in a tiny alley behind the army’s administrative offices, I was peering through a hole in a corrugated tin sheet. At first glance, all I could see were some leaves. I looked harder and amidst all the green, there was a hint of black—it looked like a moustache. “Look again,” said the army colonel, in a tone that betrayed suppressed excitement. This time, I finally saw.

It was a head, the disembodied face of a slain soldier nailed onto a tree. “The boys got it as a gift for the brigade,” said the colonel, softly, but proudly. [Archived at The Hoot]

So that is an instance where ‘this kind of inhuman act’ did happen. So why did she not say so to Gen. Malik. She is not ‘anybody’, she was there, and this is an issue that is being discussed on a show that she is anchoring. How long can it be before she gets called out for the gross irresponsibility of her reticence on this very crucial matter. Was she lying in 2001, or, is she concealing the truth now?

But the buck, doesn’t stop here.

Then, a BJP Politician and spokesman for his party, Ravi Shankar Prasad is asked by Barkha Dutt about the NDA’s record on India-Pakistan relations. She mentions Vajpayee as the architect of the India Pakistan Peace Process , Kargil, Parliament Attack, Hijacking of IC 814, Historic Ceasefire of 2003 etc.

Ravi Shankar Prasad begins, not by immediately addressing Barkha Dutt’s question, but by contradicting Admiral Ramdas. Around 26:39 minutes into the program, Ravi Shankar Prasad says – “…Mr. Ramdas has been a distinguished Naval chief, but for him to make a comment that even Indian forces have been beheading, I am happy Gen. Malik contradicted him very conclusively, Admiral Ramdas you need to understand that Pakistani people will lap up your comment, and seek to condemn Indian army in no uncertain terms, I am seeing that happening, for heavens sake don’t make these sweeping comments.”

“Don’t call on Heaven, Mr. Prasad” (Admiral Ramdas says, attempting to interject) but Barkha Dutt doesn’t let him speak. Once again, she does not contradict, question or challenge Ravi Shankar Prasad. Her evasion in this matter, at this point, when it has popped up on her program for the third time now, is a truly sweeping statement.

Then, Barkha Dutt moves on to Congress spokesman, Avishek Manu Singhvi, and other matters, and other panelists, Ashutosh Varshney and Leela Ponnappa, the question that Admiral Ramdas raised is forgotten, but it lingers, silent, and sullen, like the ghost of a beheaded soldier in the studio.

At the end of the programme, Shahvar Ali Khan, a musician from Lahore, Pakistan says “All the peace loving people of Pakistan are with the grief of the people of India.” He hopes that the present situation will not affect cultural and social ties.

Ravi Shankar Prasad says that he loves Pakistani Ghazal songs, but says artists, sportsmen and people who want peace are “fringe players”.

Then, Barkha Dutt asks Admiral Ramdas for a comment. He says, “If for so many years things have gone wrong, the fault lies not with sportsmen and artists, why punish them for what why have not done?”

Who makes the constituency of peace a fringe, and who makes the dogs of war, the people Shahvar Ali Khan calls the ‘hate-mongers’, on either side of the LOC, occupy the centre-stage, again and again?

If an important television journalist like Barkha Dutt talks about the fact that both armies have committed acts of savagery, which, I repeat, she says she knows, because she has said that she has seen this with her own eyes, it will weaken the dogs of war. This admission, coming from a public figure like her, will make it more difficult for the war-party on either side of the LOC to point their fingers only at people across the border.

Nothing can strengthen the constituency of peace more at this crucial juncture, than a little honest and public introspection, on both sides. Let us hope that will occur. Barkha Dutt can set the ball rolling, if she chooses to. The buck, starts with her.

Solidarity statement for ANTI KKNPP activists- signed by 30 eminent citizens


In Solidarity

The state government of Tamil Nadu has finally succumbed to pressure by the Central government and decided to commission the operation of the two Russian built nuclear reactors in Koodankulam. It has carried out a major crackdown on the mass movement in and around Koodankulam in southern Tamil Nadu, outrageously slapping sedition charges — no less — on several people, and arresting close to 200 people in a pre-emptive show of intimidation and force.

Over the last six months in what has been the latest phase of a more than decade long struggle, tens of thousands of residents in and around Koodankulam have peacefully and non-violently demonstrated against the government’s nuclear power plans. They have demanded that their concerns over issues of safety, environmental hazards and procedural violations of the AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board) be fully and properly addressed. That their livelihood and life concerns should have been so casually ignored by a government that has even resorted to allegations of ‘foreign manipulation’ of what is an indigenous mass movement is extremely disturbing.

We strongly condemn the repression launched against the people of Koodankulam and southern Tamil Nadu and demand that those arrested be immediately released. If a willingness to exercise one’s democratic right of protest in peaceful and non-violent ways, or to criticize the pursuit of nuclear energy, or even to oppose government plans in this regard is to be deemed seditious and warrants being arrested, then we the undersigned also declare ourselves to be as guilty as our fellow citizens in Tamil Nadu. We stand in solidarity with them. The government may please take note.

Admiral L. Ramdas (former Chief of the Indian Navy & Magsaysay Awardee)

Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat (former Chief of the Indian Navy)

Justice Rajender Sachar (former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court)

S.P. Shukla (former Finance Secretary, Government of India)

Romila Thapar (Professor Emeritus, Dept. of History, JNU)

Aruna Roy (Member, National Advisory Council and Magsaysay Awardee)

Medha Patkar (Social Activist)

Arundhati Roy (Writer)

Sandeep Pandey (Social Activist and Magsaysay Awardee)

Ramchandra Guha (Historian and Professor, London School of Economics)

Rammanohar Reddy (Editor, Economic and Political Weekly)

Justice P.B. Sawant (former Judge of Supreme Court)

Justice B.G. Kolse-Patil (former Judge of the Bombay High Court)

Binayak Sen (Member, Planning Commission)

Ilina Sen (Professor, MG International University, Wardha)

Lalita Ramdas (former Chairperson, Greenpeace International)

Praful Bidwai (Independent Journalist and Professor, Council for Social Development)

Jean Dreze (Professor, G B Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad)

Kamal Mitra Chenoy (Professor, School of International Studies, JNU)

Anuradha Chenoy, (Professor, School of International Studies, JNU)

Surendra Gadekar (Social Activist)

Vasanth Kannabiran, (Founder & Head, Asmita Resouce Centre for Women, Hyderabad)

Ritu Menon (Founder Publisher, Women Unlimited)

Pamela Philipose (Director, Women’s Feature Service)

Rohan D’Souza (Assistant Professor, Centre for Studies in Science Policy, JNU)

Darryl D’Monte (former Resident Editor, The Times of India)

Soumya Datta (Scientist & Activist)

Lawrence Surendra (Founder Director of the Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives, South Korea)

Achin Vanaik (Former Dean of Social Science, University of Delhi)