#India- ‘We were used as human shields in Latehar against Maoists’ #WTFnews


ANUMEHA YADAV, The Hindu

Villagers say police asked them to walk in three queues, men and women on both sides and the police in the centre, when they went to look for the bodies after the encounter. Photo: Manob Chowdhury
Villagers say police asked them to walk in three queues, men and women on both sides and the police in the centre, when they went to look for the bodies after the encounter. Photo: Manob Chowdhury

TOPICS

Four villagers died in an explosion when they tried to lift a CRPF jawan’s body

Adivasi villagers at Amvatikar have accused the CRPF of beating them and using them as shields as they were forced to search for security personnel’s bodies in the Katiya forest in Latehar district on January 8. Eleven security personnel were killed in an encounter with Maoists a day earlier.

In an interview to The-Hindu on January 11, Vijay Turi (40), who survived the blast that killed four villagers, said the explosion took place when they tried to lift the body of Baijnath Kisku on the CRPF’s instructions. It caused a three-foot deep pit. A scarf, broken slippers and scraps of cloth lay scattered on the slope of the Bhaluwahi hill at the edge of the adivasi hamlet.

Police officials initially said the blast was triggered by explosives planted under Kisku’s body. They later said it was likely that Maoists had sewn the explosives inside the body, as they had done with CRPF’s Babunath Patel’s body. That bomb was detonated safely outside a hospital in Ranchi on January 10 after doctors, suspecting something was amiss when they noticed an incision on the body, called the police.

“Pramod Sau from Nawadih came at 10 a.m. and said the police would beat us if we did not help them look for the bodies,” said Turi’s nephew Binod Turi (18). “The police made us walk in three queues, men and women on both sides and the police at the centre. We spotted the body on the hill slope. The police stood with the villagers at the base of the hillock, 20 feet from the body. They asked six villagers in the front to walk ahead and lift the body.

“Suddenly there was a huge explosion. We ran. The police asked us to take cover with them, but the villagers were running. Some policemen then started hitting the men with their guns, sticks, boots, saying ‘you shelter Maoists.’ They put a gun to my stomach and made me sit there,” he recounted.

On Friday morning, he and Turi’s wife Asha packed a few bags of clothes and some grains and fled the village with Turi’s two sons and several Adivasi families, fearing more violence.

Another villager, Suresh Parahaiya, said a CRPF man hit him in his forehead and leg when he ran in panic after the blast. “They beat us when we tried to run and made us sit there till 4 pm when two bodies were found and loaded on a tractor,” said his wife Mano Devi.

“The policemen made us walk to the hill and then they held some men in the front by the back of their neck; they held a gun to Ganu, my niece’s son,” said Bimli Devi. Ganu (16) had walked a few steps up the Bhaluwahi hill and was bending over the jawan’s body when the blast took place. Only the lower half of his body was recovered on Tuesday evening. He was the youngest among the four villagers who died.

“On Monday, we heard gunshots all day,” said Rajkumar Bhuian (70). “My older son Jogeshwar asked his wife and five sons to leave for Manika town with my younger son Suneshwar. On Tuesday, I was in the forest grazing cow and found out only in the evening that the police had taken Jogeshwar to search for the bodies. I found only his gamchha (small towel), his chappal, and three ribs.”

“They could not find my son Birendra’s body on Tuesday,” said Bihari Yadav. “When I went to the police station in Latehar, the policemen began beating me and calling me a Maoist before an officer intervened. On Wednesday I found only his limbs.”

Pramod Sau, a shopkeeper from Nawadih who had helped the police gather villagers from Amvatikar, Nawadih, Chahal and also got two tractors from the village to carry the bodies, succumbed to his blast injuries in his face in Ranchi on Wednesday.

The mukhiya of the neighbouring Chungru panchayat, Baldev Parahiya, said he had agreed to help the police look for four bodies and arranged for three tractors on Tuesday morning, but requested that the villagers be allowed to go home after the explosion occurred.

IG (Operations) S.N. Pradhan could not be reached for his comments on Friday. In an interview toTheHindu on January 11, Mr. Pradhan denied the charge that the CRPF forced villagers to accompany them. “We often need the help of villagers to borrow cots to carry bodies back. Women and children sometimes accompany the men as they think this will ensure the men’s safety,” he said.

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Demolition of EWS quarters and the Eviction of Residents


PRESS RELEASE
Demolition of EWS quarters and the Eviction of Residents
Saturday, January 19, 2013, Bangalore

The BBMP today began demolition of homes and evicting residents from the EWS quarters at Ejipura. During the process of demolition and eviction protestors were lathi charged, physically dragged by the police and arrested – all of them women. They have been remanded to judicial custody till next Tuesday. These women have been separated from their families and homes, and cannot protect their shelters and belongings from the demolition bulldozers.

The BBMP official, B T Ramesh who was at the spot could not produce any official documents that showed that he and his crew had the authority to demolish structures and evict residents. Nor did he produce any copy of the notification supposedly shared with the residents a month back. Notices which the BBMP claimed were pasted on the houses, were not visible on any of the houses. All the residents that we spoke to had not been notified and were unaware of this demolition drive.

In a meeting with the BBMP Commissioner today, Mr. Siddaiah agreed to stop demolitions of the occupied homes and to give a time period of 3 months for evacuation. In fact, Mr. Siddaiah called BT Ramesh in presence of activists and EWS residents. However, the demolition continued unabated; Mr. Ramesh insisted on a written order from Commissioners office, who conveniently disappeared by then. As of this afternoon, the police had given a 6 pm notice to the residents to clear their belongings. As of now, it is reported that as many as 500 homes have been razed to the ground by the BBMP bulldozers today. Many families are out on the streets, since they do not have the finances or support to re-locate. Children whose mothers were arrested are in streets – searching them. Women cry helpless, not knowing where to take their young and old.

We, the members of civil society, representing different organisations (PUCL, PDF, and Concern) condemn the deplorable and inhuman way the demolitions, police violence and evictions have been implemented. We call for an immediate and complete halt to the eviction of residents and the demolition of occupied homes in the EWS quarters. We further demand that all charges against the residents and activists be dropped.

Right to shelter is one of the principle rights enshrined in Article 21 of our constitution. A state, under no circumstance, has a right to go against either the letter or the spirit of this right without providing alternative arrangements for all those it renders homeless. Further the police protection of demolitions does not legitimise its use of brute force and physical violence against the weakest in our society – who are but protesting, losing their all.

——————————————————————————————————————————
Issued by: People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), People’s Democratic Forum (PDF) & Concern – Bangalore

#Mumbai-Duo used fake documents to get AADHAAR, for clients #UID #WTFnews


While raiding the shop from where the brothers would operate, cops also found birth certificates, driving licences, ration cards, and 1,200 passport size photos

January 19, 2013
MUMBAI
Shiva Devnath, Midday

For three long years, two brothers used their computer skills to churn out hundreds of fake documents for clients who needed PAN, Aadhar, ration, voter identity cards in a jiffy. MHB police finally cracked down on the racket on Thursday night, arresting the two brothers from their home in Ganpat Patil Nagar in Dahisar (West). The accused have been identified as Suresh Trinath Maharana (31), and Sanjay Trinath Maharana (28), who were produced before a local court yesterday.

Shiva
The police seized 100 fake Aadhar cards, 80 PAN cards, 13 birth certificates, 10 driving licences, 10-20 voter identity and ration cards from them, as well as 1,200 passport size photos. Suresh Trinath Maharana (31), and Sanjay Trinath Maharana (28) used to take passport size photographs from clients, fudge documents for them, and obtain the cards

Shiva

Running the con
According to the police, Suresh masterminded the racket, while Sanjay assisted his elder brother by bringing in new customers. Suresh is handicapped. The duo used to run a shop named Maa Saraswati Enterprises at Ganpat Patil Nagar, out of which they have been running the racket for the past three years, making bogus documents for these cards. The police seized 100 fake Aadhar cards, 80 PAN cards, 13 birth certificates, 10 driving licences, 10-20 voter identity and ration cards from them, as well as 1,200 passport size photos.

Modus operandi
The duo used to take passport size photographs from clients, fudge documents for them, and obtain the cards. Police officials said the accused also had letterheads with the names of local legislators that they used to dish out recommendation letters. Sanjay was proficient at the computer and together the duo churned out documents resembling originals. They charged Rs 200-500 for each job. They also helped people open bank accounts.
The police have found a list of 150 customers on the duo’s client list.

The accused have been booked under Sections 465 (punishment for forgery), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) 420 (cheating) and
34 (common intention) of the IPC. Subhash Chandra, investigating officer of MHB police station said, “There is a chance that more people will be arrested, who assisted the accused. We are investigating to find out from where they got so many documents including letterheads with the names of local MLA and MPs.”

Rs 200-500
The amount that Suresh and Sanjay took for each job

 

#India- Govt Bluffing the Country on Koodankulam Safety: M G Devasahayam


Latest,DiaNuke.18th Jan 2013

After the recent high-level pronouncements about Koodankulam and repeated reassurances from the DAE as well as the Prime Minister himself, DiaNuke.org spoke to M G Devasahayam, the retired civil servant and energy policy expert, who also heads the independent expert’s panel supported by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy(PMANE) in Koodankulam. Here is his interview:

M G Devasahayam
M G Devasahayam
Shri M. G. Devasahayam is a former IAS and Managing Trustee, Citizens Alliance for Sustainable Living, Chennai
Recent articles byShri Devasahayam:

1. What do you think has been behind the nuclear establishment’s repeated postponements of KKNPP’s commissioning?

I feel that despite their bravado, the nuclear establishment is jittery, being torn between relentless Russian pressure and persisting public protest. Never before have they been so intensely challenged and they know they cannot afford to make even small mistakes. And since absolute perfection is virtually impossible in any technology, let alone nuclear, they are not sure about its commissioning.

Besides, the matter is pending in Supreme Court and there is every possibility of an unwritten and undeclared assurance that the government lawyers have given to the SC that NPCIL will not proceed towards making this reactor critical and raise power level until the SC judgement is given. And yet, the government would not like to admit this openly because it will be an admission that Udayakumar and PMANE have succeeded in at least temporarily halting the project progress.

Hence the repeated postponements

2. The DAE Chairman has said everything is safe in Koodankulam and it is their extra efforts to ensure safety which is causing the delay. There have been reports of German and Ukrainian experts being flown in and also rumors of a blast. Do you think doubt the KKNPP’s design safety?

If the design is safe and secure and the nuclear establishment is so sure of it why don’t they share the plant safety report at least with experts. Them not doing it only creates doubts. As a layman, I have a lurking suspicion that the design/technology is unproven and in the process of fuel loading NPCIL has come across several glitches which they are unable to satisfactorily fix. After all too much of secrecy has its own after-effects.

3. The Supreme Court is still hearing the case. What are the major issues being raised there?

Supreme Court has completed hearing and has reserved orders. The major issues before SC are:

i. In 1988 India signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement with erstwhile USSR to set up the two 1000MWe VVRS nuclear reactors at Kudankulam. This agreement was signed on the premise that the spent fuel from the project would be shipped back to USSR for treatment and disposal. Accordingly Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) issued Environment Clearance (EC) on 09-05-1989. Based on this EC, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) issued site clearance for the project on 10-11-1989 meaning that when EC was issued, the plant site had not even been finalised! This is gross illegality.

ii. In the Supplemental Agreement signed with Russia in May, 1998, DAE changed the basic scope of the project by agreeing to retain the spent-fuel in India probably within the plant itself. Since spent fuel is highly radioactive and very toxic, its handling and storage involves very high risks and serious environmental implications. Due to these changed conditions DAE should have approached MoEF for a fresh EC which it failed to do. Instead, Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCL) went ahead with the construction of the project in violation of Environment Protection Act, 1986 (EPA). This was a serious statutory violation that called for cancellation of EC and stoppage of construction of the project. This was not done by the MoEF and the construction commenced and continued.

iii. When the EC was issued, it was assumed that cooling water for the project would be drawn from Pechiparai reservoir, whereas the source was later changed to a seawater desalination plant. This substantial change in fresh-water source would make it necessary for DAE to approach MoEF for clearance under CRZ Rules. There was further urgency because under the 1998 agreement high-quality fresh water was critical to keep the spent-fuel in safe storage. By not doing this DAE has violated the EPA.

iv. Project construction should not have started without prior Consent for Establishment (CFE) of the nuclear reactors at Kudankulam. NPCIL applied for CFE as an afterthought on 30-12-2001 and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) granted it on 25-02-2004 without any application of mind. This defeated the very purpose of CFE and its relevance to safety and environmental conservation aspects. Thus, the project as it stands today is the outcome of several illegalities that impinge on the local environment as well as the health and the safety of the people living in its vicinity.

v. NPCIL has not carried out risk analysis for the worst case scenario based on Fukushima experience to assess the consequences up to 30km and even beyond depending on the direction and velocity of wind. From the time of the original EC in 1989, the local conditions such as population growth have changed significantly and such studies are imperative to understand the implications of an accident. In the absence of such a comprehensive analysis, it will be unsafe to start the reactor units.

vi. As the initiator of the project, DAE should have reviewed the safety norms of KKNPP on the basis of Fukushima experience and redefined the boundaries of the Emergency Plan zoning system to bring the same in line with international best practice and the guidelines formulated by the International Atomic Energy Agency. This has not been done.

vii. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), created post-Tsunami 2004, is a statutory body chaired by the PM himself that has issued unambiguous guidelines on the institutional structures to be set up for handling nuclear accidents. This calls for State-level and District-level DMAs, providing nuclear shelters for the affected people, hospitals for medical care as well as training and orientation to the officials, local Gram Sabhas and the project affected people (PAP) to respond immediately to disasters and evacuate to safer places in case of accidents. None of these have been complied with and Tirunelveli Destrict where KKNPP is located has no such plan or Authority.

vii. Though the Government claims that KKNPP is 100% safe, yet the Russian reactor manufacturer company does not trust its own reactor and has refused to share any part of civil liability in case of an accident due to defect in the reactor. Government of India (to appease that Russian company and Russian Government) has signed an agreement with Russia stating that in case of an accident the public exchequer or the tax payers would foot the bill (that might run into lakhs of crores of rupees) while the Russians would be indemnified.

vii. AERB as it functions is not an independent regulatory body. Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) has come out with a scathing report about the ‘lapses in safety measures’ by the AERB posing ‘grave threats.’ CAG has highlighted several lapses by AERB: Non-preparation of a nuclear and radiation policy; no safety documents as recommended by two expert committees; no decommissioning plan which is extremely critical for public safety and non-adoption of international safety standards and practices. Typical example of AERB’s servility is the fact that NPCL was allowed to go ahead with fuel loading without implementing the 17 safety measures recommended by the post-Fukushima taskforce appointed by the Government of India. For several months NPCL has been telling AERB that it would implement these 17 safety measures by October-November 2012. AERB counsel stated before the Madras High Court that these 17 measures would have to be implemented before any further clearance was given. However, on 10.08.2012, AERB gave initial fuel-loading clearance even while 11 of these safety recommendations were yet to be implemented.

4. Do you think the DAE is misleading the Supreme Court?

DAE has tied itself in knots in the SC. A careful reading of the affidavits filed by AERB, NPCIL and MoEF clearly brings out the fact that no approvals as mandated by the Rules framed under Environmental Protection Act 1986 have been obtained after complying the leagal requirements. What they have got are only patch-works of Environment Clearance (EC) dated 09-05-1989 which was not under any of the EPA Rules all of which have been notified post-1992.

5. The PM has recently said that people’s safety comes first and nuclear energy can wait. How do you respond to this?

As far as nuclear power is concerned Prime Minister has been hypocritical in his statements and actions and does not carry much credibility.

6. As the head of the independent experts’ team in Koodakulam, what do you think are the minimum requirements which must be ensured before commissioning?

Given the series of illegalities and irregularities, lapses and regulatory capture, MoEF should step into the scene and enforce the EPA-1986, revoke the EC given in 1989 and direct NPCIL to undertake a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as per extant Rules which include full public hearing among the Project Affected People. As part of the EIA, NPCIL should be mandated to carry out comprehensive life & livelihood risk analysis on the PAP and the risks of even low-intensity radiation exposure on marine ecosystem. Before MoEF issues fresh EC, NDMA’s norms should be put in place and tested for its effectiveness by an independent agency.

7. People’s movement in Koodankulam is still on. Other places like Kovada, Jaitapur etc are also rising in protest. In coming days, what future do you see for nuclear power in India and what is the scope for replacing it with Renewable Energy and Energy conservation.

Relevance of nuclear power is linked to country’s energy security and the overall welfare of our communities. The present Indian state is clueless on both counts. In the event there is neither any blue print nor any vision as to how energy could serve the cause of people’s welfare and not just the interests of a few investors and MNCs. Hence the rabid argument by the Indian state that nuclear power is essential to bring electricity for the masses While many countries with large percentage of their electric power coming from nuclear source are phasing out, India with a measly 2.5% share is clinging to it like leech, ignoring the massive Renewable Energy potential that the country has.

Germany is the most prominent among these countries which is determinedly moving away from nuclear power. It has a clear plan to reduce the share of nuclear power from the present 23% to zero in 2022 without having to compromise on the energy security or to give up its position as a world economic power-house. And it is planning to eliminate the nuclear power without adding other fossil fuel or dam based power plants. This calls for some scrutiny so that lessons could be learnt

Germany gives six major reasons for switching to renewable energy and to increase energy conservation:

A – Fighting climate change

B – Reducing energy imports

C – Stimulating technology innovation and the green economy

D – Reducing and eliminating the risks of nuclear power

E – Energy security

F – Strengthening local economies and providing social justice

Germany has identified five main problems with nuclear power:

1. the risk of a nuclear disaster at a plant;

2. the risks of proliferation (plutonium from nuclear plants for military purposes)

3. the risk of radiation from the storage of nuclear waste;

4. cost, with nuclear being unbankable at the moment – banks will not finance the construction of new nuclear plants because the cost is too high in comparison to renewables, so all plants currently on the drawing board in Western countries have massive state support; and

5. the limited availability of uranium resources.

Germany considers the third risk is even greater because this will affect future generations, who will not even be able to consume the nuclear power that is produced today but will be forced to deal with the waste. Even when all nuclear fission plants have been shut down, mankind will have to protect its repositories of spent nuclear fuel rods for up to 100,000 years.

There are also several other reasons:

  • Nuclear power is far more limited than renewables. Nuclear plants produce electricity but not useful heat or motor fuel, as in the case of renewables
  • Germany rejects nuclear power because of the risks, the costs and the unsolved waste issue. In ad­dition, nuclear power does not have the potential to play a major role in the world’s energy supply.
  • With 30 kM of evacuation zone around its nuclear power plants, as in the case of Fukushima, it is estimated that about 12% of its population would be affected; with 80 kM evacuation zone as recommended by US around Fukushima about 51% of its population would be affected. A pretty compelling reason for saying NO to nuclear power.
  • Nuclear is simply too small a player on global markets; it does not even account for six percent of global energy supply right now, and more plants are scheduled to be taken off-line over the next decade than are expected to go online.
  • If it is feasible to gradually transition to a renewable energy supply, then it seems irresponsible to have nu­clear plants today – and unethical to pass on these risks to future generations.
  • Renewables will reduce dependency on energy imports, making India less vulnerable to rising prices for fossil fuels and to political influence from abroad.
  • Renewable energy can consist of numerous small, distributed units, but it can also consist of a small number of large, central plants. In the latter case, the power stations can be gigantic solar arrays in deserts or large wind farms on coastlines.
  • Local ownership of renewables provides great economic payback to investing communities. Energy efficiency and renewables together give the poor a way around higher prices for fossil fuels.
  • Another important aspect of the energy transition is social justice. Energy efficiency in particular not only helps promote domestic added value, but also reduces energy poverty.

Key findings of German Energy Transition Report – Arguments for a renewable energy future (www.energytransition.de)

a. The German energy transition is an ambitious, but feasible undertaking.

b. The German energy transition is driven by citizens and communities

c. The energy transition is Germany’s largest post-war infrastructure project. It strengthens its economy and creates new jobs.

d. With the energy transition, Germany aims to not only keep its industrial base, but make it fit for a greener future.

e. Germany demonstrates that fighting climate change and phasing out nuclear power can be two sides of the same coin.

f. The German energy transition is here to stay.

g. The energy transition is affordable for Germany, and it will likely be even more affordable for other countries.

These are more applicable to India than Germany and the potential for RE and energy conservation is far more in India than in Germany. Yet we are mad in pursuing destructive nuclear energy, while playing just lip service to Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation.

8. How should the anti-nuclear movement proceed in India in the future?

From protest to proactive advocacy of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. We must expose the hollowness of India Energy policy driven more by alien interests and kick-backs than national interest and indigenous potential. Advocacy and awareness building should be the major tool in this strategy. Since mainstream media is unlikely cooperate in this we need to develop social media as an effective and powerful tool.

Koodankulam_PTIHeavy police deployment in Koodankulam (file picture, courtesy: PTI)

 

How police covered-up the murder of Dalit girl bya police constable #Vaw


J. BALAJI, The Hindu, Jan 18,2013

NHRC directs U.P. govt. to give Rs. 5 lakh to kin of Dalit girl killed by constable; The constable had murdered and hanged a Dalit girl after a failed rape attempt

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to provide a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the family of a 14-year-old Dalit girl, who was murdered by a police constable after a failed rape attempt in 2011.

The incident happened in the Nighasan police station in Lakhimpur-Kheri district of the State.

Atiq Ahmed, who lived on the police station premises, used to lure the girl often with money or gifts. On June 10, 2011, he tried to drag the girl into his room. When she resisted and screamed in protest, he first tried to gag her with his hand and then strangulated her with her dupatta.

The constable then hanged the body from the branch of a fallen tree in the vicinity to paint his crime as suicide.

The first post-mortem had dismissed the case as suicide. It was only after the intervention of the government that a second post-mortem was carried out by a special team of Lucknow doctors, who confirmed the death as on account of “strangulation.”

The NHRC, which took up the case suo motu following media reports, took serious exception to the attitude of the law keeper.

The Station House Officer, who was supposed to uphold law in his jurisdiction, joined hands with the accused, who was his personal security officer-cum-gunner, and helped him, along with other cops, by destroying evidence and cut the tree itself on which the girl was hanged. A team of three government doctors too helped the accused police personnel by creating records that stated the cause of death as “ante-mortem hanging.”

After considering the material on record, the Commission observed that “in view of the report of the investigation team of this Commission and the investigation carried out by the CB-CID, it is established, prima facie, that a police constable attempted to rape the 14-year-old victim, daughter of a watchman, strangulated her to death and then hanged her from a tree on the premises of police station Nighasan.

“Two constables attempted to destroy evidence. The team of three doctors who conducted the post-mortem examination colluded with the police and gave a false report on the cause of death as ante-mortem hanging. The senior police officers committed dereliction of duty by not taking timely appropriate action.”

In response to NHRC notices, the U.P. government informed that in addition to initiating department proceedings against the delinquent policemen, a charge sheet under Sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape), 511 (punishment for attempting to commit offence punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) and 201 (disappearance of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was filed in the court against them.

While the circle officer was transferred, five other policemen were suspended. Besides, all four doctors who carried out the first post-mortem on the girl were also suspended.

 

#Bangalore 50-60 women beaten, arrested at EWS Colony this morning, protesting demolition by BBMP #Vaw


50-60 women beaten, arrested at EWS Colony, Ejipura this morning, protesting demolition by BBMP.

Chaos in EWS colony as BBMP starts demolition

STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu

Residents on prime land tense as some more huts are razed

UNSURE FUTURE:Will a permanent, secure house for them remain a pipe dream? Ejipura residents watch the bulldozers at work in Bangalore on Friday.— PHOTO: SAMPATH KUMAR G.P.

UNSURE FUTURE:Will a permanent, secure house for them remain a pipe dream? Ejipura residents watch the bulldozers at work in Bangalore on Friday.— PHOTO: SAMPATH KUMAR G.P.

Utter confusion prevailed on Friday in the Ejipura housing colony for economically weaker sections as bulldozers hired by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) once again entered the area with the police in tow. Unsure about the target of the earthmoving machinery, many residents started running helter-skelter even as others stood their ground and entered into verbal duels with the officials.

“I don’t know if they will demolish my hut this time. Where will I go if they do?” wailed M. Syeda (40) who has three children and a disabled husband to feed. At least two dozen huts were demolished in Friday’s operation.

Piecemeal demolitions

Demolitions in the colony have been happening on a piecemeal basis over the last few months with similar waves of police and BBMP officials entering the area and retreating after razing a few dozen huts.

“Each time they come, we don’t know which line of huts they will target,” explained Mutthu Kumar (37), one of the residents of this colony, which is majorly comprised of Dalits and minorities.

The 15 acres and 22 guntas of land on which the shantytown is located is slated for the construction of a mall as well as higher quality tenements for the original residents. As part of a joint development agreement that the BBMP entered into with Maverick Holdings and Investment Pvt. Ltd., half of the land will be used for the construction of 1,512 EWS apartments. The other half will be used by Maverick Holdings to construct the mall. Eviction of residents for the project has been stalled several times since its inception with residents and rights groups staging protests, alleging that it smacks of a land scam.

Biometric cards

Even as tension prevailed at one end of the colony on Friday, another group of BBMP officials continued to issue biometric cards to the residents under a makeshift tent. These cards, the officials said, will help the evicted residents lay claim to the new houses that are planned as a replacement for the present tin-roof structures.

The main concern of the residents, however, is what they will do until the new houses are built. “Some officials are saying the new houses will take a year. Others are saying it will take three years. We are scared and confused,” said B. Selvi (65).

Some of the residents here are original allottees while others are tenants of the original allottees. The replacement flats on the same spot are planned for original allottees whereas the tenants, most of who have been living here for the last decade, have been assured of a colony at Sarjapur.

As the demolition progressed in Ejipura, one group of residents trooped to the BBMP headquarters and staged a snap protest. “In view of the upcoming school and college examinations, we want the BBMP to give the residents another two months to vacate,” said Amruthraj Isaac, one of the activists who led the agitation.

 

#Mumbai slumdwellers- Living in No Man’s Land


A powerful nexus of builders, policemen and bureaucrats has left the slum dwellers of Mumbai in a perpetual state of uncertainty

Living in No Man’s Land

A powerful nexus of builders, policemen and bureaucrats has left the slum dwellers of Mumbai in a perpetual state of uncertainty
Residents of bastis across the city such as Golibar, Ambujwadi, Kandamwar Nagar have been engaged in a bitter struggle to protect their homes for nearly a decade

On 29 May 2012, 60 policemen accompanied a BMC demolition squad to the basti. Residents lined up in front of their homes to protest this illegal demolition, and were physically attacked by a police officer. The officer also ordered his team to strip the women if they got in the way — as clearly seen in videos shot by activists present at the site. Female constables dragged women from the bastis by the hair, ripping their clothes off and beating them. In spite of the fact that Medha Patkar (Medha tai, as she is known in the basti) accompanied the group taken into custody, the station still refused to lodge an FIR against the policemen.

The intriguing question — why, in spite of the threat of violence forced eviction, the residents of Sion Koliwada refuse to leave — is answered in part by that sense of community living in a horizontal space has fostered. “Even now, I know I can leave for work and that my mother is safe. Help is always just a shout away,” says Rajesh, gesturing at the vast and tight cluster of low-ceilinged homes around us. Members from the central knot of protesters — an assortment of residents, people from surrounding bastis, activists, and I — queued up in front of a large vessel of biryani and served ourselves dinner. A 60-year-old Catholic gradmother, Pauline, took me through a tour of the homes, some with with sparkling white floor tiles, most with colour televisions — recounting the tragedies that had befallen each family since the builders first came. “This is Kalpesh Shivkar’s house. It was the first one to be broken without warning. Initially, the police admitted that a mistake had been made, but we did not know enough then to record their statement,” she says. At the second home, eight-year-old Tanu and her twin waited for their mother, along with their 13-year-old sister and 72-year-old grandmother. “They dragged my bahuMadhuri by the hair and put her in a police van in front of her children. She had an operation just a month ago for a lump in her chest. She had no strength to resist and she clung on to me for support,” says Indira rajesh Keni, showing me her bruised arms. Quite naturally, while Indira and the children wait for Madhuri to return, they are looked after by their neighbours.

A central refrain at the protest — “We do not want to live in tall narrow buildings, we do not want to learn” — a resistance to ‘vertical life’, has been explained by KT Ravindran, Professor and Head of Urban Design at the School of Planning and Architecture. Ravindran believes people living in slums are accustomed to a horizontal social network, which fails to provide support when homes are piled on top of one another. “The lift and the lobby, for instance, prove to be dangerous zones for women, children and the elderly because they present a social risk, a ‘no man’s land’. Further, the community cannot afford to pay for the electricity to run and maintain these spaces,” he says.

Activist Medha Patkar agrees that while their march to the Mantralaya yielded some positive results, it is still a daunting task to resettle Mumbai’s entire slum population under the Rajiv Awas Yojana. “The issues are greater than just illegal demolishing of homes. Families have been living in transit homes for nearly two decades waiting for a house. Official profits have been made under false names. There are scams worth crores, all of which have been presented to the government — all we can do now is wait for the inquiry to be held,” she says, on the phone with Tehelka. For the residents of Mumbai’s slums, a peaceful night’s sleep is still the stuff of dreams.

http://tehelka.com/living-in-no-mans-land

 

Chhattisgarh -200 suicides in four years. What’s ailing the state employees?


While the number of employees taking their lives goes up, the government has dismissed the concern as a personal matter.

January 17, 2013, Issue 4 Volume 10

Occupational hazard Rahul Sharma ended his life in March 2012 owing to harassment by a senior Occupational hazard Rahul Sharma ended his life in March 2012 owing to harassment by a senior
Photo: Rajkumar Soni

SOMETHING SEEMS rotten in the state of Chhattisgarh. On 26 October 2012, H Kujur, additional collector of Narayanpur, was found hanging at his residence. The police found a suicide note, in which Kujur had written that he was under stress, especially for not following a circular with regard to issuance of caste validity certificates the previous year. What’s still not clear is that issues related to issuing caste certificates were not even his prerogative; it’s the Sub-Divisional Magistrate’s (SDM).

On 2 March the same year, the Bilaspur superintendent of police (SP) Rahul Sharma, a 2002-batch IPS officer, shot himself with his service revolver. His wife Gayatri Sharma alleged that Sharma was not being allowed to work in an independent manner. In his suicide note, the officer complained about interference by his immediate boss, and harassment by a judge. Sharma’s senior at the time was Inspector General (IG) GP Singh. The judge had allegedly admonished Sharma over the plight of traffic in the city. Sharma had even mentioned he was under tremendous pressure to raise funds for the upcoming Assembly elections: on Facebook, he had written to one of his friends, “They force us to work like bonded labourers. There is no self-respect. I have already been given the target for election expenses. Is this why I studied to become an IPS officer?”

In the same month, on 16 March, Manju Mehta, a project officer with the Panchayat department of Bilaspur, was found hanging at her residence. Her colleagues revealed to TEHELKA, on condition of anonymity, that her honesty had cost Mehta her life. Mehta was taking care of her mother and two disabled brothers when she was transferred to Masturi, about 20 km from Bilaspur, where she was posted as an executive officer. But within days, she was transferred back to Bilaspur. Happy with her posting and promotion, Mehta went back to Bilaspur but she was made to work as an assistant project officer, instead of executive officer. Her colleagues say Manju continued with the work but when questions were raised about her capability and competence, she committed suicide.

Competent and honest employees ending their lives after being tormented is not an isolated phenomenon in Chhattisgarh. Lack of transparency in the administration, corruption at all levels, and the stress associated with work are all pushing employees to the wall.

Pressure from above to sanction payments despite the noticeable discrepancies was too much for Kishore Sharma, a sub-engineer with the water resources department of Abhanpur. Kishore had noticed discrepancies in  the construction of the Canal Area Development Authority project that came under his department. He refused to sign the note for the payment to the contractors. According to his wife, Anita Sharma, her husband was being pressurised by Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) Gopal Memon, and an engineer, KR Sahu, for his signature. On 29 July 2012, Kishore hanged himself. In a suicide note, he named Memon and Sahu for this extreme step. It is alleged that both Memon and Sahu have political patronage because of which no criminal case has been filed against them for abetment to suicide.

When on 16 August 2012, Rameshwar Prasad Soni, an executive engineer posted in the Maoist hotbed of Narayanpur district in Bastar set himself on fire, the spotlight was back on the plight of upright officials in the state. Soni’s wife Sarita alleged he was under pressure to overlook corruption.

Another conspicuous void in the state machinery is the shortage of civil servants. In July 2012, replying to a query, Chief Minister Raman Singh admitted that the state was functioning with only 126 IAS officers, against a requirement of 178. The state has been talking to the Centre in this regard but with no success. A senior officer told TEHELKA, on condition of anonymity, that after the creation of the state a large number of officers wanted postings here, both for the challenge and the experience. But of late, due to rampant corruption, upright officers are refusing to come here.

IT IS not just senior officials in the state; suicides due to work-related pressure are becoming common even among the junior staff. On 6 May 2012, Rajuram Ragde, a sweeper with the Balod Municipal Corporation, committed suicide when he was not allowed to report for duty even after being transferred to Arjunda Nagar Panchayat. On 30 July 2011, Bhuvneshwar Dhruv, a constable posted at Dantewada, committed suicide. In August 2012, another constable shot himself fatally with his service rifle. In December, a constable posted at the Mahasamund police station consumed poison and ended his life.

Although there are no official records of the number of suicides by government employees in the state, according to the data available with major police stations of 27 districts, around 200 government employees have committed suicide between 2008 and 2012.

Aruanshu Pariyal, a psychologist based in Chhattisgarh, says the number of government employees coming to him with cases of depression has shot up in the past five years. Most patients complain of work-related stress.

Refusing to acknowledge this, however, is N Baijendra Kumar, principal secretary to the chief minister, who maintains that all state employees should be able to withstand such stress. “We cannot discount personal reasons for the suicides,” he argued. Truth is, discrimination in postings, unnecessary pressure, and a total disregard of honesty is fast turning Chhattisgarh into a burial ground for its state employees.

 

Chhattisgarh to outsource diagnostic services in government hospitals #WTFnews #healthcare


Author(s): Kundan Pandey, down to earth
Date: Jan 18, 2013

Activists say these centres will end up serving outside patients at the cost of hospital patients

The Chhattisgarh government has decided to outsource diagnostic services at its public health facilities. It has issued a request for proposal (RFP) in this regard. According to the RFP, the government would outsource radiology and lab services in 379 facilities, including district hospitals, community health and primary health centres. The state is planning to enter into an agreement with private parties for 10 years with provision for annual renewal.

In the PPP project, the government will provide space and electric meter to the partner firm or individual who will be free to cater to “external customers”. The rates will be those approved for National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), the accredited centre in Delhi under the Central Government of Health Scheme (CGHS). Monitoring will be done by third party. After setting performance level mutually, the government will reward high performers with five per cent bonus; low performers will be penalised.

Activists are critical of the move. Sulakshana Nandi of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan in Chhattisgarh says the government has not done its homework properly before taking such a big decision. “Tamil Nadu offers an example in contrast where, without any outsourcing, even the public health centres have been able to provide well functioning diagnostic services. In states where outsourcing of diagnostic services has been tried out, it has been a failure. The recent Common Review Mission, which analyses working of the National Rural Health Mission, clearly states that Bihar model was a complete failure,” she says.

Referring to the RFP, she says that concession of serving external patients could disturb the entire mechanism and the patients for whom the system is meant will become secondary. Pointing to the monitoring aspect, she says there would always remain a doubt whether the private (third) party is doing fair monitoring.

 

#India-Union Tribal Affairs & Panchayati Raj minister, May your tribe increase #tribalrights


From a soft-spoken, easygoing politician, KCS Deo has emerged as a combative, ‘activist’ minister for tribal affairs.
Bhavdeep Kang

January 17, 2013, Issue 4 Volume 10

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

VYRICHERLA KISHORE Chandra Suryanarayana Deo — Kishore to his friends — has upset many during his tenure as Union Tribal Affairs & Panchayati Raj minister. For those who dismissed the soft-spoken, easygoing political middleweight as a “sweet nothing”, the “activist” minister’s relentless crusade for tribal rights and trenchant (albeit politely worded) criticism of party and Cabinet colleagues comes as a surprise.

On tribal rights, Kishore has taken on his own government, countering repeated attempts to dilute the Forest Rights Act (FRA) with a volley of letters to Cabinet colleagues, chief ministers and governors. His role has been crucial at a time when various government agencies have been seeking to set aside the provisions of the Act, which demand consent of the tribal dwellers before diverting forestland for infrastructure or industry.

Given his seniority — he is 65 and a sixterm MP — he might have expected highprofile portfolios. Panchayati Raj is regarded as second string and Tribal Affairs is a relatively new ministry; earlier clubbed with Home, then Welfare, then Social Justice, it was given independent status in 1999. Kishore is the fourth minister to hold the portfolio and the first to give it teeth.

Kishore implicitly believes mining in tribal areas is the biggest challenge faced by forest dwellers and the root cause of Naxal insurgency. “All of us are talking about left-wing extremism. The PM has described it as a threat to national security. People must wake up and realise that this is due to the neglect and extreme exploitation of forest dwellers,” he says.

Forest Activism
7 April 2012
Writes to AP governor on ‘illegal’ mining leases
24 May
Writes to CMs on FRA, also to governors on special powers
28 June
Writes to Naveen Patnaik on Kalahandi
August
Amends rules to give FRA teeth
29 September
Cancels AP mining leases, writes to AP CM
Octobe
States objection to NIB overruling FRA/PESA
19 November & 7 December
Writes to Jayanthi Natarajan on FRA
January 2013
Sets up board to fix fair price for forest produce

Kishore is not opposed to mining, per se, but firmly believes that forest dwellers ought to have a share in the proceeds of mining, a decisive say in the pace and manner of mining and a right to forest produce. What he does not say on record (but conveys in his letters to the Minister of Environment and Forests) is that the Forest Department is the biggest hurdle in securing justice for tribals.

He fired his first salvo on behalf of forest dwellers last April, in a letter to Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan, demanding that leases granted to the AP Mining Development Corporation (APMDC) in violation of the FRA be cancelled. When he did not receive a response, he shot off a letter to CM Kiran Kumar Reddy cancelling the leases in exercise of his constitutional powers as Tribal Affairs minister — a first.

In his letter to Narasimhan, he points out that Vishakapatnam district, where APMDC has been granted mining leases, has become a hotbed of Maoist activity. The killings by extremists, he adds, have to do with the bauxite mining lobbies.

Kishore did his homework before taking on the AP government. First, he secured the Attorney General’s opinion on whether the governor had the power to cancel the leases granted by the state government. The AG concluded he did. Despite the legal go-ahead, Narasimhan chose not to take on the government. Kishore waited five months, then sent off a letter cancelling the leases: “By virtue of the powers vested in GoI vide Clause 3 of Vth Schedule of the Constitution… hereby directs the AP government to cancel the mining leases to APMDC immediately and report compliance.”

At the time of writing, compliance has yet to be received. The PM may well have to arbitrate between the minister and the CM and the results of that exercise would have immense significance. The PM is said to have reservations about Kishore’s leftof- centre leanings.

Meanwhile, Kishore busied himself with drawing Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan’s attention to the fact that her ministry made it a “practice of ignoring the FRA when diverting forestland for large projects”. He wrote: “I’m anguished to find that even five years after its enactment, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) continues to ignore this law’s existence.” The prior, informed consent of the gram sabhas is a mandatory requirement for diversion of forestland under the FRA and this provision is being blatantly flouted by governments.

He referred in particular to the clearance given by the MOEF to the Lara Thermal Power Project in Raigarh of Chhattisgarh, even while acknowledging that the mandatory gram sabha certificates had not been obtained! “Why is it (FAC) misleading the public into believing that these projects are in compliance with the law when they often are not?” he asks.

In a follow-up letter to Natarajan last month, he referred to the Niyamgiri case: “Proceedings are pending in the SC in regard to the proposed mine by Vedanta in Niyamgiri where people are seeking to argue that they can bypass, ignore or undermine the FRA in the name of advancing a project.” It behoves the government to take a clear stand that upholds the law and the rights of the people, he maintains.

Kishore has been urging state governments to take the FRA seriously. In a letter to all the CMs, he pointed out that community rights to pastures, water bodies and minor forest produce were not being given recognition; that tribals who sought to claim land rights were being given a fraction of the area to which they were entitled and claims were being rejected without assigning a reason. “As a result, forest dwellers are facing eviction or harassment by the authorities,” he wrote.

No issue is too small for Kishore to take up. Earlier in 2012, he wrote to Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik on Jamguda, a small tribal village in Kalahandi. The gram sabha had decided to harvest flowering bamboo, which (having flowered) would otherwise be destroyed. They proposed to sell it at 30 a pole and so earn about 1 lakh but the forest authorities refused to allow them to transport the bamboo. This random abuse of power, he said, “goes against our professed adherence to rule of law”.

Far more than his activism on tribal rights, his alleged description of AP Pradesh Congress Committee chief Botsa Satyanarayana as a “land, liquor and mining don”, in a letter to Sonia Gandhi, made a big stir. Kishore denied having written a letter. Correct, but only technically, sources say. It was an 11-page report, not a letter. And it severely criticised the functioning of the state government in general and the CM (and Botsa) in particular.

Kishore’s view on Kiran Reddy and Botsa are well-known, so the leak did not come as a surprise. It did, however, leave many wondering how this blunt, outspoken man had managed to fly below the radar for most of his four-decade-long political career. Given his distaste for lobbying, it was perhaps not surprising that he made it to the Cabinet only in 2011.

Last June, he took on the then home minister P Chidambaram over the massacre of 17 civilians in Chhattisgarh, saying his acceptance of the state government’s version that they were Maoists was “illinformed”. “By killing 17 innocent tribals, you are creating 1,700 Maoists,” he warned.

He was to take on Chidambaram as finance minister as well, when he opposed the National Investment Board’s reported attempt to bypass the FRA. While he didn’t do so directly, he said he would insist on the implementation of the FRA and the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act. The UPA stood for inclusive growth and so, no development project could be more important than the livelihood of millions. If the two laws that offer protection to tribals were an obstacle to development, then the Tribal Affairs ministry could well be wound up.

One of his first initiatives after taking over was to amend the FRA rules, because some of them, he says “were against the spirit of the Act”. Manoeuvring the amendments through the bureaucracy took him a year. Currently, his big project is setting a minimum procurement price for minor or non-timber forest produce, so that tribals don’t get shortchanged on their bamboo, herbs, etc.

Like his Cabinet colleague from AP, S Jaipal Reddy, he enjoys a reputation for probity. Both come from privileged backgrounds; Kishore is from the royal family of Kurupam. Apart from that, they are at polar ends of state politics, coming from different regions. Neither has ever openly expressed an opinion, but it is widely accepted that while Reddy, who hails from Telangana, sees little alternative to bifurcation of AP, Kishore is opposed to it.

Nor does he have a soft corner for Jaganmohan Reddy. In fact, in his letter to the governor, he even took on the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, duly deified by the state Congress (even as the Centre claps his son in jail), for having betrayed “our commitment to the cause of the STs” in granting the mining leases, which was “a flagrant violation of our Constitution”. When it comes to tribal rights, Kishore doesn’t believe in holding back.

letters@tehelka.com

 

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