IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Fukushima Nuclear Disaster- Lessons for India


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PUCL-Bangalore Press Release

10/3/12

FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR DISASTER: LESSONS FOR INDIA

On March 11, exactly one year ago, a huge nuclear disaster in human history occurred at Fukushima , such that three nuclear reactors in the Fukushima Daichii plant experienced a nuclear core meltdown. The associated series of hydrogen explosions in the plant released more than twenty times the radioactive radiation of the Hiroshima bomb, causing contamination of air, water, soil, all living and non-living matter. The real cost to human health and life are expected to show up in a few years.

While several western countries, including Japan, have responded to public pressure and plan to halt or phase out their nuclear programs, the Indian government’s response has been to insist that the technology is ‘fully safe’ and to continue with its massive nuclear expansion.

In observing the Fukushima anniversary, PUCL and partners express solidarity with the victims of the nuclear disaster and hope to reach out to fellow citizens to address critically the necessity of India’s nuclear program. The speakers invited to seminar spoke on a variety of issues related to resolving people’s growing nuclear trust-deficit with India’s projected growing need in the energy and power sectors.

Nagesh Hedge emphasized the hazardous nature of the entire nuclear cycle from uranium mining, processing and disposal of the nuclear waste. His arguments hit home when he spoke of the issues of uranium mining coming up at Gogi in Yadgir, on the Bhima river basin; the limited ore supply, if extracted, will destroy the environment, water systems, and cause extensive human damage, while providing for about 7 months of fuel for India’s projected future nuclear program. He spoke also of the large scale and growing public opposition to this project, and also to the proposed building units 5 and 6 at Kaiga.

Shankar Sharma, a power policy analyst, spoke on the need for conservation efforts, limiting transmission losses and the enormous potential of renewable energy initiatives. In states like Tamil Nadu, conversion from incandescent to CFL bulbs can save about 500 MW – which would be the State’s expected share from the Koodankulam nuclear plant, after accounting for losses! Transmission losses in our country are 24% compared to about 5% in developed nations. India’s current nuclear capability is only 2.4% of our total power budget – thus a saving in transmission losses is tantamount to producing, immediately, ten times more power than what we get from our nuclear sector – without any risk.

YB Ramakrishna, noted that renewables and alternatives were not only available, but can provide for India’s burgeoning energy needs using a variety of sources including, solar, bio-fuels, hydro etc. He also gave inspiring examples of successful implementation of distributed renewable energy schemes, including biomass.

VT Padmanabhan spoke of several grave and technical concerns associated with the Koodankulam Nuclear plant, such as the seismic instability of the region, and the dependence of KNPP’s fresh water supply for cooling from a desalination plant. None of these safety concerns were satisfactorily addressed by the expert panel appointed by the central govt.

Prof. Atul Chokshi, IISc, presented calculations showing that for India to meet its long-term projected nuclear aspirations would require a nuclear reactor every eleven kilometers along nation’s shoreline. Equivalent energy was possible from a distributed roof-top solar panel system over all households providing distributed, equitable power for our population – without transmission losses or risks!

The Fukushima anniversary provided a poignant reminder of the potential dangers of catastrophic nuclear accidents. The seminar demonstrated several potential strategies to provide for India’s energy needs, so that there are several viable alternatives to nuclear power
———–

Call for Endorsements-Opposing privatisation of Public health services


Dear all

Here is an invitation and a call for seeking endorsements for organizations , unions and networks who oppose privatistaion of Public health services

Please circulate widely and send your organizations/network/union endorsements to me By March 15th, the final schedule will be sent soon.

in solidarity

Kamayani, Mumbai JSA- kamayani@ymail.com

Maharashtra State level convention on 17 March 2012 at Mumbai for Opposing privatisation of Public health services

Discussing options to strengthen health services in public framework

Maharashtra State Government has recently come up with state level proposals to privatize key services in medical college hospitals and district hospitals. Two senior cabinet ministers – Minister for Medical Education and Research, Dr. Vijaykumar Gavit and Minister for Public Health and Family Welfare, Shri Suresh Shetty have floated proposals to privatize radiology services (like CT scan, MRI etc) and laboratory services in their respective departments, that is in 14 Government Medical College hospitals, and all District Hospitals across Maharashtra. On one hand our Prime Minister has expressed concern regarding our health system and has promised to substantially increase financial allocations to improve healthcare delivery to citizens, and Planning Commission of India is proposing to double its public health budget. The High Level Expert Group formed by the Planning Commission is recommending a system of Universal Health care for every citizen with strong emphasis on strengthening our public health system. On the other hand, our learned Ministers from Maharashtra Government are considering seriously regressive steps which would weaken public hospitals, and are likely to deny health rights to large number of citizens.

It seems that there is a larger design for privatization of the healthcare system in the state. Maharashtra State Government is planning to hand over huge sums of public money to insurance companies and large private hospitals through a flawed Private-Public Partnership (PPP) in the form of Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana (RGJAY). This scheme involves large scale public finances being given to corporate hospitals without adequate standardization or regulation of their services, and no protection of patients rights. At the same time, the government is planning to privatise its most revenue generating units in public hospitals like radiology services and laboratory services. The Public health system, which is already neglected by the state government, will collapse in this kind of negative policy environment, leaving people completely to the mercy of profit-seeking private hospitals. These changes will adversely affect not only poor people but also the middle class, for whom private healthcare is becoming increasingly unaffordable these days.

These are serious developments and we all need to come together urgently to stop privatization of key services in public hospitals. At the same time, various possible measures and options to improve services in these hospitals within the public health framework also need to be discussed and concretely proposed. Towards this end, Jan Arogya Abhiyan has taken initiative along with various mass organisations, trade unions and civil society organizations to organise a broad based state level convention involving all concerned stakeholders to discuss the issue and to chalk out strategies and action plans. Many civil society organizations, individual activists, progressive doctors and union representatives have shown their concern about privatization of these key health services by participating in a preparatory meeting conducted in Mumbai on 19th February 2012 as well as through signing the online e-petition.

We sincerely appeal to all conscious citizens and social organizations to participate in this convention and to come forward and support the emerging demand –
NO to privatisation, YES to strengthening of public health services in Maharashtra!

Details of the programme are as follows:

Date: 17th March 2012

Time: 11 am to 2.30 pm

Venue: Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, 2ND floor
near Azad Maidan, Mumbai

—————————————————–Names of networks and organizations———————————————————

Jan Aarogya Abhiyan, JAA, Maharashtra
Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Mumbai
CCDT, Mumbai
YUVA, Mumbai
Nirmaan, Mumbai
Rangoonwalla Foundation, Mumbai
Lab Technians Union, Mumbai
AIDWA
Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Mahasangh
.Movement for Peace and Justice
Build, Mumbai

Two more deaths again in Assam tea garden


TEA GARDEN MUNNAR

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The Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) has learnt about two more deaths in the Bhuvan valley tea garden of Cachar district in Assam. According to information, a 7 days old baby and about 70 year old Balaram Bauri of North Bank Division of the tea estate died on 6 and 7 March, 2012 respectively. Now the toll stands at 14 according to the confirmed information available with the BHRPC.

This tea garden owned by a Kolkata-based private company was closed from 8 October, 2011 to 8 February, 2012 and the labourers were abandoned by the owners. About 500 permanent labourers and more than this number of casual workers had not been paid their outstanding wages for 9 weeks, bonus for years and other statutory benefits including provident fund dues. There were no facilities of health care, drinking water and sanitation. Government public distribution system and other welfare schemes including Integrated Child Development Schemes were virtually non-functional. These circumstances led the labourers in a condition of starvation and malnutrition resulting in several deaths.

The BHRPC reported (the report at hungeralert1) 10 deaths on 1 February following its fact-finding study and claimed that the underlying and contributory causes of all deaths were starvation, malnutrition and lack of medical care going by the definition of starvation and malnutrition provided in the National Food Security Bill, 2010 drafted by the National Advisory Council and the Starvation Investigation Protocol prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioners on the right to food. The BHRPC again reported (see the report at http://bhrpc.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/situation-of-hunger-deteriorates-in-assam-tea-garden/) serious health condition of 43 other people of the tea estate on 11 February. Two people among them Belbati Bauri and Jugendra Bauri later died on 18 and 22 February respectively. This was also reported (see the report at http://bhrpc.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/hungeralert3/) by the BHRPC on 23 February.

The deceased 7-days-old baby was daughter of Nikhil Bauri and Duhkia Bauri. After re-opening of the garden on 9 February, the garden hospital run under the National Rural Health Mission was revived but no qualified and permanent doctor and nurse have been appointed. There is also no electricity and water available. The Bauris had to go to the Primamry Health Centre at Sonai, a place about 20 km away from the garden, where Dukhia delivered an underweight baby and she fell seriously ill, according the garden sources.

Deceased Balaram Bauri, aged about 70, was a retired permanent worker of the tea estate. He became weaker day by day and his body got swollen. His son Ranjit Bauri is a permanent labourer. Ranjit claims after re-opening of the garden on 9 February he was paid only Rs 60/- and was provided with 2 kgs of rice, 1.2kgs of flour per week at Rs 0.54 per Kg and additional amount at Rs 10/- per Kg. He said that he could feed his family 6 properly during the 4 months of the closure of the garden and even thereafter. According to him, his father died in condition of starvation and for lack of proper medical care.

It is to be noted that the Arunodoy Sanga, a non government organisation based in Silchar, held a health camp in the garden on 4 March. A team of 5 doctors from Civil Hospital, Cachar Cancer Hospital and Kalyani Hospital who reportedly examined around 500 patients of the tea garden corroborated the phenomenon of malnutrition stalking the workers and their families. Doctors recommended for immediate supply of nutritious food and sustained treatment of the labourers. No visible and reasonable steps have been taken by the authorities in this regard.

10 March, 2012, Silchar, Assam

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

wali.laskar@gmail.com

+91 94019 42234

Citizens’ Statement on the arrest of Journalist Kazmi


March 10th, 2012, New Delhi

The undersigned condemn the arrest of senior journalist Syed Mohammad Kazmi by the Delhi Police Special Cell in connection with the attack on Israeli diplomat last month. Mr. Kazmi’s arrest is reminiscent of the arrest and false allegations against another veteran journalist, Iftikhar Gilani, several years ago. We fear that Mr. Kazmi may be made a scapegoat in order to please an international lobby. It is no secret that Israel held Iran culpable within minutes of the attack, and there has been immense pressure on India to sever its ties with Iran—both from Israel and US (to the extent that US displayed its obvious unhappiness to foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai over the fact that India was not heeding the unilateral sanctions imposed by the US on Iran.)

Israel also pressured India to support a resolution condemning “Iranian terrorism” in the UN Security Council. While the Indian government has so far held out against the pressure, even refusing to implicate Iran in the attack, a recent report in Jerusalem Post stated that, “Israel provided the Indian authorities with information on two suspects in the attack connected with Iran” (Article.aspx?id=257830). Has Mr. Kazmi been picked up upon tips provided by Israeli agencies? How credible can these inputs be, given Israel’s clear intent to condemn and implicate Iran as the source of the attack? We are anxious that the Persian-knowing Mr. Kazmi, a journalist with the Iranian News agency, IRNA, who would obviously be in regular touch with his sources and employers in Iran and the Iranian embassy, is being targeted precisely because of these reasons.

Mr. Kazmi is well respected and known to the journalist fraternity for his professional integrity.

We demand that he be immediately released on bail and the due process of law followed.Aamir Idrisi, President, Association of Muslim Professionals
Abdul Daiyan, social activist, Bihar
Abu Zafar Adil Azmi, Special Correspondent, Afkar-e-Milli
Afroz Alam Sahil, Editor, Beyondheadlines
Ajit Sahi, Senior Journalist, Delhi
Anuradha Bhasin, Editor, Kashmir Times
Arundhati Roy, Writer and Activist
Asad Zaidi
Azam Khan, social activist, Hyderabad
Bhavna Sharma, social activists, Anhad
Bobby Kunhu
Dilip Khan, Journalist
Dr Anand Pradhan
Dr. Hilal Ahmed, Associate Fellow, CSDS
Dr. Saroj Giri, University of Delhi
Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, Editor, the Milli Gazette
Farah Naqvi, Writer & Activist, Delhi
Fr Cedric Prakash, Human Rights Activist
Gauhar Iqbal, Palestine Foundation
Hanif Lakdawala, social activist, Gujarat
Harsh Kapoor, SACW.net
Hilal Ahmed
Imran Khan, social activist, Anhad
Jawed Naqvi, Senior Journalist
John Dayal, Member, National Integration Council

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human rights Activist, Mumbai
Khadeeja Arif, BBC News
Khurshid Anwar
KN Panikkar, Historian
Kundan Pandey, Journalist
Madhuresh Kumar
Mahesh Bhatt, Filmmaker
Mahtab Alam, Civil Rights Activist and Freelance Journalist
Manisha Sethi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
Mansi Sharma, Social Activist
Md. Ali, Twocircles.Net
Mukul Dube
Mukul Kesavan, writer and historian
Mumtaz Alam Falahi, Editor, Twocircles.Net
Nandita Das, film actress
Navaid Hamid, Member, National Integration Council
Neshat Quaiser, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi
Panini Anand, Editor, Pratirodh
Prof. Anuradha Chenoy, JNU
Prof. Anwar Alam, Center for West Asian Studies, Jamia
Prof. Apoorvanand, Delhi University
Prof. Jairus Banaji, Historian
Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU
Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherjee, University of Delhi
Prof. Shohini Ghosh, MCRC, Jamia
Ram Puniyani, social activist, writer
Sadiq Naqvi, Journalist
Sanjay Kak, Filmmaker
Sanjay Sharma, social activist, Anhad
Satya Sivaraman, journalist
Seema Mustafa, Senior Journalist
Shabnam Hashmi, Social Activist, ANHAD
Shafi Mahajir ,advocate Hyderabad
Sharmila Tagore, Actor
Shivam Vij
Sohail Hashmi, filmmaker, writer
Soheb Niazi
Sucheta Dey, President, JNU Student Union
Sukumar Muralidharan, journalist
Tanveer Hussain, activist, Kashmir
Vijayan MJ
Vivan Sundaram, artist
Waliullah Laskar, Activist
Zaheeruddin Ali Khan, editor, SiasatZoobi Amir, Film Maker Delhi

Call for support to mill workers struggle – Azad maidan on 20th March


Dear friends
As you know there has been a long running battle being fought by the thousands of mill workers who lost their jobs and their community in Central Mumbai. Although Girangaon is practically being swallowed up, the workers have succeeded in winning a small part of the area back.
But the struggle continues. On the 20th they will sit on a continuous dharna at Azad maidan to focus on their demands. 3000 workers are expected to sit in the indefinite dharna, from Mumbai as well as rural Maharashtra and AP. They need the support of the city in the struggle.

The most important victory for the mill workers in this phase was that their right over a part of the mill lands was recognized, and they were promised housing and alternate jobs, all of which was meant to save the area known as Girangaon, and therefore the identity, heritage and ethos of Mumbai. It was also an important gain in principle for the entire city, which was also to get 1/3 of the land. However the govt and the mill owners drastically cut down the size land that was due under the 1/3 formula by applying it only to ‘vacant land’ in the mill premises. This even though mill oweners were already being given equal land beyongd the island city, in FSI.

The government is yet to distribute the 8000 tenements that MHADA has built- there is no agreement yet on the number of houses that must be built and the cost of those houses.
The workers are fighting for the houses to be given to them att he cost of construction, and that there must be enough for everyone- ie 1, 20, 000 mill workers who have filled in the applications and are bonafide candidates.

The fight includes the handing over of land to the city for open spaces, and affordable housing. The mill owners and the NTC have to at least honour the existing law, and the government has to be made accountable to the citizens of Mumbai.

Please come to Azad Maidan anytime after 11 am on the 20th March, and thereafter.

The struggle also needs financial support. Please make cheques (try and make a minimum contribution of Rs 1000) in the name of ‘GIRNI KAMGAR SANGHARSH SAMITI” and courier it to

7/61 Modern Mills compound, KK Marg, Saat Rasta, Mumbai-400 011.

Pl forward to others you think might be able to contribute.

Please visit our Facebook Page

 

Freedom unveiled: Iranian women strip to slam repression


Iranian women living in exile in Europe have stripped off for a video to promote their nude calendar in an effort to fight sexual oppression in their home country.

“My nudity is a ‘no’ to stoning to death,” say the defiant women in the YouTube video, posing topless to scream against “a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy.”

In analysts’ opinion, nudity is a powerful protest tool in the Islamic world, where women cover every part of body, except the face and hands, with loose shadow-proof robes. In Iran, a Muslim woman wearing shorts may spend up to four months in jail.

The controversial promo is set to boost sales of the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar released for global sales on International Woman’s Day. The calendar honors an Egyptian blogger, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy. In November Elmahdy, outraged with a ban on nude models in Egyptian universities and books, set the Arab world on fire by posting a full length picture of her naked self on the web.

In the late 1970’s Egyptian official art schools saw a social ban on the tradition of nude models. Besides hindering arts studies, the ban brought certain censorship into mainstream arts, including cinema.

“Islamism and the religious right are obsessed with women’s bodies. They demand that we be veiled, bound, and gagged,” sighs Maryam Namazie, the human rights activist behind the nude calendar featuring Iranian women.

Namazie’s initiative sends one more message of homage – to the Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani. After posing topless in Madame Le Figaro magazine, the actress received a phone call from the Iranian government, who warned her against returning home.

“Islamists want us covered up, hidden, and not seen and not heard; we refuse to comply,” Namazie writes in her blog.

In Iran, the nude calendar and promotional video stirred controversy even among local feminists.

Azar Majedi, of the Organization of Women’s Liberation in Iran, has slammed the initiative for exploiting women’s nudity for profit, just as the tabloids do, reports The International Business Times.

Majedi adds that the calendar is an “absurd caricature” of Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, as fighting for Muslim women’s rights in tolerant Europe is nothing compared to raising your head in Egypt.

“One does not have to live in the Middle East and North Africa to feel the threats of Islamism,” Namazie replies in her blog. “But, nonetheless, threats or no threats, in Egypt or not, isn’t this the whole point of international solidarity?”

The video and the calendar also feature Golshifteh Farahani, an Iranian actress who has been banished from her home country because she posed nude in French news magazine Madame Le Figaro. The picture, a black-and-white “art shot”, shows the 28-year-old posing against a black backdrop with her hands strategically placed over her breasts.

Following the publication of the photo, Farahani, who has starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, was asked by the Iranian government not to return home.

 

Watch the Video here

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