Tribal Districts Show Heavy Forest Degradation


India’s forest cover decreased by 367 square kilometers between 2007 and 2009, and it was primarily tribal and hilly regions that were to blame, according to the biennial forest survey released last week by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

The report showed some areas of progress. Among the 15 states that increased their forest cover in the period are Orissa and Rajasthan. In Punjab, the nation’s grain bowl, enhanced plantation activities and an increase in agro-forestry practices contributed to the highest gain in forest cover with 100 square kilometers.

But those gains were outdone by large-scale de-forestation elsewhere. The state that really jumps out in the report is the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, which lost a whopping 281 square kilometers of forest cover, contributing 76.5% of the net decline in forest cover nationally.

The report attributes the drastic loss of forest cover in states such as Andhra Pradeshto harvesting of Eucalyptus trees in forests and felling of trees in encroached areas. After releasing the report, Secretary of Environment and Forests T. Chatterjee said Naxals – left-wing, Maoist militants that are active across several Indian states – are responsible for the felling of trees and heavy deforestation, according to local news reports.

But the forest report itself didn’t specifically single out Naxals. And another top environment ministry official contradicted Mr. Chatterjee, saying Naxals didn’t play a major role in deforestation.

 

Read more here

Future Of Naxalism: India Needs To Stay Alert – Analysis


Written by:

February 12, 2012

The recent assessment by author Jan Myrdal that the Left-Wing extremist (Naxalite) movement in India is headed nowhere, is bound to come as a shot-in-the-arm for the Indian state. Coming from a man who has observed the movement from close quarters for a long time, and who is also known to be in close contact with several senior Naxalite leaders including its elusive general secretary Ganapathy, the assessment is as realistic as it can get. However, the fact remains that it is not ideology, but the potential to carry out violence, which sustains the movement and will do so for the foreseeable future. Accordingly, the state approach towards the threat must be predominantly oriented towards meeting the firepower of the extremists.

India

Myrdal bemoans the fact that Naxalite ideology has failed to galvanise the urban class which limits its spread into the cities. He even goes on to provide tips to correct the anomaly — highlight human rights violations committed by security forces, inclusive development in rural areas, and persist with social struggle in urban pockets. Without the Naxals being able to encircle the cities and capture them, the grandiose scheme of overthrowing the present system of governance cannot be realised.

However, it is doubtful if the Naxals continue to attach critical importance to the goal of overthrowing the government, periodic calls to that effect in their publications notwithstanding. Or will they, for the time being, be content with protecting their base areas, which seems to be shrinking somewhat over time?

The movement has lost several top leaders and cadres in the past few years. Naxal publications have, as a result, underlined the need to preserve their leaders, even at the expense of decreasing the number of armed actions against the state. It has also been admitted by the top Naxal leadership that the act of expanding the movement into new areas too fast, without the adequate ground level work that should have preceded it, has spread the movement too thin and weakened it as a result. Assuming that the Naxal leaders are pragmatic strategists, they can be expected to retreat into a self-preservation-and-recoup mode, rather than venturing into an all out war with the state, which enhances the risk of their decapitation. Odd violence would continue, for that is necessary to keep their constituency intact.

Direct fallout of this strategy will be a visible decline in the number of fatalities among the security forces and civilians, which can conveniently be interpreted by the state as an improvement in the situation. The real dangers flow from such a state of mind. In 2011, 589 civilians and security forces were killed in Naxal violence. Fatalities were significantly less than 2010, which had recorded 1,003 deaths. There are reasons to believe that much of the improvement in the situation is primarily due to policy of a tactical retreat by the Naxals, and not by a dramatic augmentation in the capacities of the forces.

Innocuous developments do tell long stories. Consider for example, the advice of the chief of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), asking his men to become “junglee” to neutralise the Naxals. In his official communication in January 2012, Vijay Kumar wrote, “Let us also modify our tactics — be like hunters, hide in his area and hit him hard. Learn to be a junglee.” This certainly isn’t a novel advice. Painted rocks at the Counter-terrorism and Jungle Warfare School in Kanker, which trains about 3,000 policemen every year in counter-Naxal operations, boast of the motto, “Fight a guerrilla like a guerrilla”.

By all means, anti-Naxal operations have remained CRPF-dominant manoeuvres. One would have expected that several years after the CRPF got deployed in the Naxal theatres, this basic trait of fighting the extremists would have been internalised. The fact that the CRPF Director General had to reiterate it, underlines the huge challenges of breaking the shackles of a defensive mindset that has pervaded the CRPF since the huge reversals it suffered in 2010. It is not surprising that the success rate of even the specialised anti-Naxal commando COBRA battalion of the CRPF, according to an estimate, has remained at a meagre 17 per cent.

Since the middle of 2011, a development-led approach has become the cornerstone of New Delhi’s counter-Naxal strategy. Enormous amount of resources and efforts are being made available to develop areas that are “worst affected by left-wing extremism”. Amidst this official hullabaloo, serious efforts to instill a sense of purpose among the forces must continue. The state is bound to discover, sooner than later, that the strategy of developing conflict affected areas without neutralising extremist firepower, is not only an unsustainable project, but also counter-productive.

Complaint on killing of innocent villager by CRPF in Latehar, Jharkhand


To,

Mr. Satyabrata Pal,
Honble Member,
The National Human Rights Commission,
Faridcourt House, Copernicus Marge,
New Delhi-1

Sub: For investigation and necessary action on a case of brutal killing of an innocent villager Mr. Lucas Minj by the CRPF and District police in Latehar District of Jharkhand.

Dear Sir,

With due respect, I would like to bring your kind attention on a case of brutal killing of an innocent villager Mr. Lucas Minj by the CRPF and District Police during the anti-Naxal operation codified as Operation Mocks near Nawarnagu village comes under Barwadih police station in Latehar district of Jharkhand on January 31, 2012.

Case details:

The CRPF personal brutally killed an innocent villager Mr. Lucas Minj resident of Nawarnagu village comes under Barwadih police station in Laterhar district of Jharkhand on January 31, 2012. The incident took place during the joint operation by the CRPF and District Police against Naxalites codified as Operation Mocks. It was alleged that the CRPF and Police Jawans had discovered a Naxali camp near Nawarnagu village and proceeding further in search of Naxalite after demolition the camp.

Meanwhile, they saw Mr. Lucal Minj, who was rearing cattle near Koel River.The CRPF and Police Jawans asked him about the Naxal locations but he could not respond them as he was a dump person. The Security Forces assume him as a Naxalite and fired on him. Consequently, he got bullet injury in his head and died at the spot. Finally, the Security Forces covered his dead body with sand and went away.

In the evening, when Mr. Lucas Minj did not return to his home, the family members started searching him but didnt find. On 6 February, 2012, somevillagers went for fishing in the river and saw a part of leg on the bank of the river covered by the sand. They pulled out the dead body and identified as the dead body of Mr. Lucas Minj. They found bullet injury in his head. They informed the family immediately. After sometimes, the police also reached to the spot. The Police threatened them to bury the dead body
immediately and dont inform anybody about it otherwise theyll send all the villagers to Jail in false cases. The Police forced them to bury the dead body. Consequently, they buried in fear of the Police atrocity. However, the family members approached to the local peoples representatives for raising the issue of brutal killing of Mr. Lucas Minj.

Mr. William Minj the elder brother of Mr. Lucas Minj went to the Barwadih police station on February 12, 2012 for filing a case against brutal killing of his brother. As a result, the police filed a case under section 302, 34, 201 and 27 of Arms Act against the unknown persons with the intention to shield the Police and CRPF Jawans.

Though Mr. Lucas Minj was dump person but he was physically fit to work in the agriculture field. He was one of the earning members in the family. He used to work in the agriculture and also taking care of the cattle. Hence, it is a clear case of brutal killing of an innocent villager Mr. Lucas Minj therefore, I request the National Human Rights Commission for the following actions.

1. A high level inquiry should be established on the case of brutal killing of Mr. Lucas Minj by the CRPF and Police Jawans.
2. A case of murder under the section 302 of IPC, Arms Act, etc should
be filed against the CRPF and Police Jawans.
3. A legal action and departmental action should be taken against the
Barwadih police, who had threatened and forced the family members of Mr.
Lucas Minj to bury the dead body with the intention to destroy the evidence
of brutal killing.
4. The family members of Mr. Lucas Minj should be compensated of Rs. 10
Lakh and a government job as he was an earning person of the family.
5. The NHRC should order for the CBI probe into the killing of 600
people in Jharkhand by the Security Forces since 2001 till the date.

I shall be highly obliged to you for the same.

Thanking you.

Yours sincerely,
Gladson Dungdung
General Secretary,
JHRM, Ranchi.

12th Feb 2012

A village where every house has a cancer patient


Feb 13, 2012-A village in Germany has left health experts baffled as almost every household there has a resident suffering from cancer, a media report said Monday.

The Wewelsfleth village with a population of 1,500 has been dubbed the “village of the damned”, said the Daily Mail.

Village mayor Ingo Karstens, who lost two wives to cancer, said: “It feels like a curse.”

Researchers from the University of Lubeck investigated the phenomenon and found cases of breast, lung, oesophageal, womb and stomach cancer.

They could, however, find no cause for the deadly disease.

Residents have blamed three nearby nuclear power plants and a shipyard where vessels were reportedly sprayed with toxic paint. Villagers say wind and rain blew in cancer-causing particles from those place into their homes.

Experts have probed the nuclear plants, the shipyard, asbestos sheeting used on roofs, electro-smog from power lines and the lifestyle of the cancer patients.

Girish Sant – an Obituary


(January 23, 1966 to February 2, 2012)

Girish Sant was born in Thane in 1966. He was an alumnus of IIT, Bombay. Girish did his B.Tech. in Chemical Engingeering in 1986. While doing B.Tech. Girish became interested in energy issues and did his M.Tech. in Energy Systems Engineering in 1988. After his Master degree Girish moved to Pune and worked in the field of industrial and agricultural energy efficiency, evaluation of renewable energy technologies, and research on energy impacts of urbanisation. In 1990 he co-founded Prayas a non-profit organization based in Pune. He was the Coordinator and the driving force of Prayas Energy Group (PEG).

Girish was a member of the ‘Advisory Committee’ of Central Electricity Regulatory Commissions for last consecutive seven years. He was a member of the Planning Commission’s ‘Working Group on Power’ for preparation of the 11th5-Year plan and a member of the Expert Group on ‘Low Carbon Strategy for Inclusive Growth’.

Girish had been a member of several government and Supreme Court committees including Committee of Government of Maharashtra to evaluate Benefit: Cost of Sardar Sarovar Project, Supreme Court Committee to investigate the benefits of Energy generation projects from Municipal Solid Waste, Expert group to advice the Planning commission for the Interim review of 10th Plan.

Girish’s work comprised of analysis based advocacy, training, inputs in regulatory and policy process to further public interest in electricity sector. He had participated in several international projects such as development and implementation of tool kit to assess governance in the power sector, assessing role of World Bank, techno-economic evaluation of projects, and training of NGOs. Girish had also worked on renewable energy scenarios, integrated resource planning, agricultural energy efficiency, and performance of renewable energy systems.

Lately Girish did studies on global warming and was involved in the international negotiations on global warming. He had participated in the international conferences on global warming in Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban on behalf of India.

Girish Sant was a warm human being and a very committed person. From the beginning he was interested in social and developmental issues. He was associated with the Narmada Bachao Andolan in the initial years. As a founder member of Prayas he brought together like-minded individuals and did very important and highly recognized work in the field of energy, power and equitable development.

Girish died of a heart attack on Feb 2, 2012 at the young age of 44 years while on an official visit to Delhi. He was a Bachelor. He is survived by his parents and sister and his close friends Dr. Vinayak and Dr. Sanjivani Kulkarni.

Girish’s demise has saddened all those who knew him personally and professionally. Girish’s death is a great loss to his family, friends, and  colleagues .

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Maoist-hit cop’s wife hurls bribe salvo at seniors


By Sahar Khan, Feb 12, 2012-The wife of a senior police officer critically wounded in a landmine blast, has alleged that the Chhattisgarh Police ‘forced’ her husband to remain in a Maoist-hit area for 10 years because they could not pay up for a transfer. Additional superintendent of police D.S. Marawi‘s wife Radha lashed out at senior officers for not heeding her husband’s pleas seeking transfer out of the Maoistshit areas because he did not pay a bribe. Two constables were killed and three others were wounded including the ASP in a blast triggered by Maoists in Sukma district on Thursday. The injured were air-lifted to Raipur from Bastar for medical treatment.

‘He (Marawi) had twice written to higher authorities seeking transfer but no one listened. We don’t have “illegally earned” money and since we couldn’t pay he remained deployed in the Maoists stronghold for 10 years,’ Radha said pointing fingers at police officers responsible for transfer of police personnel in the state.

Tears welling in her eyes sitting outside the intensive care unit of Ram Krishna Care Hospital where her husband is admitted she recollected how her children always insisted their father not venture into the interior areas and seek a transfer to a secure place since he is on Maoists’ hit list.

‘This is his third miraculous escape from a attack by the Maoists,’ she said.

‘It is ridiculous to blame the transparent transfer process and policy. These are undertaken in accordance with the rules and at the government level,’ said Ram Niwas, additional director general of police (anti-Maoist operation).

Admitting that Marawi had sought a transfer the ADG said he was given a safer position equivalent to a commandant of armed police training centre in Bastar.

‘He was not deployed on the field. Rather what surprised us was his choice to follow a risky route and visit Polampalli from Dornapal, a known Maoist hotbed, by road instead of using the chopper to return in the evening,’ Ram Niwas said.

A senior officer based in Bastar stated that Marawi’s decision itself becomes a matter of investigation since it led to the death of two policemen.

Marawi was reportedly called by a visiting team of CBI in Dantewada to depose before it in connection with the attack on activist Swami Agnivesh by a mob in March 2011.

After the blast the guerrillas opened firing on the jeep in which Marawi was travelling with the police team. But top police officers rubbished the allegation.

Drug trials: A father moves Drug Controller General of India (DCGI)


Feb 12, 2012 INDORE : In yet another complaint against the unethicaldrug trials that took place in the city, a local resident lodged a complaint with the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), Medical Council of India (MCI) and National Human Rights Commission on Saturday accusing some city-based doctors with a clinic of making his son a trial subject after keeping him in the dark.
Om Prakash Agrawal, a resident of Rajmohalla here, alleged that the people involved in the controversial drug trials kept him in the dark. He alleged that the drug had severe side-effects and the health condition of his son, Nitin, continued deteriorating. “After my son failed in examination, his mental health became unstable. He was not a healthy volunteer. Then, how could the doctors conduct trial on him,” asked Agrawal.
The complainant stated that a medical store owner referred him to Dr Abhay Paliwal at his clinic in Geeta Bhawan. “Nitin was admitted in May 2010 and we were told that he would be alright in a few days. They asked me to sign on some forms, which were in English. Though I could not understand the content, I signed on it trusting the doctors. My son was admitted to the hospital for 10 days,” stated Agrawal in his complaint.
Informing that the ‘treatment’ did not yield any result as per the promise, Agrawal complained that the doctors used to take blood samples 8-10 times a day.
“We even opposed when doctors collected blood samples frequently but no one listened,” alleged Agrawal.
The complaint alleged that an Ahmedabad-based company, Intas, sponsored the trial for which approval was taken from city-based Naitik independent ethics committee and ethics committee of CHL-Apollo Hospital.
Nitin was also not insured against clinical trial liability and is still taking the medicines for his ailment. He was not given patient information sheet and a copy of informed consent form, the complainant added.
However, the doctor involved in the particular case clarified that no trial was conducted without informing patient or family member. “I do not remember the case. I have to check the records. However, no trial was conducted without taking consent of the patient or family members,” added Dr Paliwal.
After my son failed in examination, his mental health became unstable. Then, how could the doctors conduct trial on him.

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