#India – ‘Development at Gunpoint’ in Odisha – Ground Report #Video


 

 

Apr 30, 2013

The vegetable garden of Odisha is going to be submerged and more than 50 villages displaced; and the name of the game is ‘Development at Gunpoint’ — meaning ‘peaceful industrialization’ as the chief minister claims! Thousands of farmers of the Lower Suktel plateau in Balangir are protesting against this upcoming dam for more than a decade now. After many a round of brutal repression and forceful land acquisition, the State has now declared the ‘final war’ against its own people.

On 29 April 2013, more than 2000 people were holding ground in opposition to the dam project. Early in the morning, 10 platoons of police force cracked down on the peaceful protesters. They started beating people mercilessly, without any provocation. They dragged women, clamped their feet with heavy boots, and tried to lynch Amitabh Patra, a filmmaker, who was filming the excesses first hand. The policemen, who appeared to be drunk, behaved like hired goons of some mafia outfit.

The police arrested 16 people, including Amitabh Patra and Lenin Kumar, editor of Nisan. Amitabh is still struggling for life with severe head injuries.

As the police unleashed this terror, they did not allow any media persons in, expect one channel — their chosen one. While they smashed Amitabh’s head and camera, they forcibly blocked our camera so that we could not shoot further.

 

 

 

Use of #Aadhaar card in Voting in Karnataka Assembly Elections #UID


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

MOST URGENT

By E-mail including to the media

Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd)                                                                     475, 7th Main Road

                                                                                                                         Vijayanagar 1st Stage

E-mail:<sg9kere@live.com>                                                                          Mysore-570017

Tel:0821-2515187                                                                                            April 19, 2013

To

 

Election Commission of India

Nirvachan Sadan

Ashoka Road

New Delhi-110001

 

Subject: USE OF AADHAAR CARD FOR VOTING IN THE FORTHCOMING MAY 2013 KARNATAKA ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS

Sirs,

1. According to media reports concerning the forthcoming elections in Karnataka, voters who do not present their Elector’s Photo Identity Card (EPIC) at Polling Booths, may use their Aadhaar card as identification for casting their votes. This is apparently a change in policy at the level of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

2. The ECI are requested to note that the instructions printed on the Aadhaar card read as follows:

# Aadhaar is proof of identity, not of citizenship. # To establish identity, authenticate on-line.

3. These instructions read together, indicate that the Aadhaar card bearer’s identity can only be established when it is authenticated on-line by verification of the biometric parameters of fingerprints and iris scans from UIDAI’s records. Therefore, for this purpose, the ECI would need to arrange for and ensure operation of fingerprint detection and iris scan devices connected on-line to UIDAI’s Central ID Data Repository at every polling booth (with standby power supply), for on-line authentication of identity of voters who do not possess the EPIC.

4. If however the Aadhaar card is proposed to be accepted at the polling booth as identification without on-line authentication, then the ECI may consider accepting other documents like Ration Card, Passport or Motor Vehicle Driving Licence, all of which contain as much information as an Aadhaar card, for a Polling Booth Officer to identify the voter. Notwithstanding, the use of Aadhaar card without on-line authentication of identity at polling booths would be misuse of the Aadhaar system and perversion of the election process, since Aadhaar is not proof of citizenship, as stated on the Aadhaar card itself.

5. The ECI are requested to note that waiver of the necessity for EPIC for voting in the May 2013 Karnataka Assembly elections may result in similar waiver being demanded for other elections in the future, thus effectively making the EPIC itself redundant.

6. In view of the foregoing, the ECI are urgently requested to make public announcement to state whether or not facilities for Aadhaar on-line authentication will be provided at polling booths for the May 2013 Karnataka Assembly elections.

 

Yours faithfully,

Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd)

Copy to:

The Chief Electoral Officer of Karnataka <feedbackceokar@gmail.com>

Nirvachana Nilaya, Maharani’s College Circle <ceo.karnataka@gmail.com>

Seshadri Road

Bangalore-560001

 

 

#India – The Land Bill is tainted by a colonial hangover


Instead of focussing on the industry, the Centre should uphold the citizens’ rights
Madhuresh Kumar

Madhuresh Kumar

4-05-2013, Issue 18

Left in the lurch The revised Bill is still vague on rehabilitation and resettlementLeft in the lurch The revised Bill is still vague on rehabilitation and resettlement, Photo: AP

Hectic parleys with political parties have been ongoing in the past few months to reach a consensus on the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011, so that it gets passed in the current Parliament session. In principle, it is the Manmohan Singh government’s effort at addressing the problems in the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, which is not only outdated, but has promoted forcible land acquisition.

Land acquisition continues to take place without any resettlement and rehabilitation, drastically affecting people who lose their land and/or livelihood. However, given the direction of negotiations and changes in the Bill, it is clear that although it is framed by the ministry responsible for rural development, it is more concerned about the industry sentiment and urbanisation needs.

The National Alliance of People’s Movements feels that while the new Bill is an improvement over the 1894 Act, several key issues remain. Many of these were addressed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, but remain neglected by the Centre. One important recommendation made by the Standing Committee was that the government should not be acquiring land for private players. But the Centre has refused this recommendation, saying that it is ideologically committed to private firms playing a larger role in the nation’s development. Under the 1894 Act, the government was not legally mandated to acquire land for private firms and public- private partnership (PPP) projects. This new Bill will legitimise that. This is our fundamental problem: why should the government act like a middleman for private companies?

Second, the 1894 Act works on the principle of eminent domain, which is the power of the State to seize private property without the owners’ consent. That framework has still not been changed in the new Bill. And when you look at the current framework of development, the government is handing over sectors like power, roadways, railways, etc, to private players. As the State tries to acquire more land for private companies, there will be more and more conflict. Farmers have nothing else to depend on, and even if they are resettled and rehabilitated in some way, that may not suffice for their future generations.

It is being said that to make any acquisition for private and PPP projects, consent of 80 percent and 70 percent of the land losers, respectively, will be sought. But why is there no provision of consent for the public purpose projects? Until 1984, the Land Acquisition Act was used primarily to forcibly acquire land for government projects, leaving people to fend for themselves in the absence of any resettlement and rehabilitation provisions. That legacy of forcible acquisition will continue even after this law comes into force. This will also mean an unequal frame of land acquisition for power plants to be set up by the public sector National Thermal Power Corporation and Reliance in the same area.

Third, there remains serious concern about food security. Land is a critically limited resource. If we don’t put a cap on the diversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, this will create severe food and water shortages. The Standing Committee has said that the government should not acquire any agricultural land, whether irrigated or not. The government is saying that only multi-crop land will not be acquired, but we are saying that it is single-crop land that is most often held by marginalised farmers, who are most in need of protection for economic and food security reasons. There must be strict norms for preventing diversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural purposes, like the regulation of any diversion of forests for development projects. On the same lines, there must also be a provision for compensatory development of agricultural land whenever there is a diversion of agricultural land.

Fourth, the Standing Committee report said that more than 90 percent of land is acquired through Central and state laws other than the Land Acquisition Act, which have been listed in a separate schedule in the Bill. However, the provisions of the new Bill don’t apply to those. Why they have been left out is not clear and only three non-significant Acts have been brought under its ambit (By a notification, the Union government will bring all such relevant Central Acts under its ambit within a year). But, more importantly, there is an urgent need to uniformly streamline the process of land acquisition, and so, the process of acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation must be the same in all cases.

Fifth, as per the Planning Commission numbers, India’s urban population is expected to go up from 377 million in 2011 to about 600 million by 2031. This implies an increase of more than 200 million in just 20 years. It also says that the duration of water supply in the cities is only between one to six hours; about 13 percent of the urban population defecate in the open; about 37 percent of households are connected by open drains and 18 percent are not connected at all. The number of urban poor has increased by about 34.4 percent between 1993-2004, residing mostly in slums and bastis. In Mumbai, 60 percent of the population lives in slums or slum-like conditions, but together they occupy only 10-12 percent of the total land area — often described as ‘encroached land’.

Even where the land deeds are disputed, or in some cases where the land is officially recognised by the government, their land rights are not accepted, their homes are demolished and they are evicted from their place of residence without any resettlement and rehabilitation. The new Bill is not going to provide any relief to them as it is enacted in a rural framework and so a separate legislation to address the urban displacement is necessary.

Lastly, while the government says that the new Bill has better rehabilitation and resettlement clauses, it does not provide those who lose land with sustainable livelihood options or land for land. The whole framework revolves around increased monetary compensation, though most of the marginalised communities need secure means of livelihood more than money. Adivasis and Dalits, who are the most vulnerable and are often cheated because of their ignorance and illiteracy, will be further impoverished and end up in penury within years of losing their livelihood and migrating to cities, putting the whole economy and urban infrastructure under severe strain.

The number of people who face loss of livelihood because of land acquisition is so huge that they cannot be accommodated within the industrial and services sectors. So, while we are forcibly pushing people out of agriculture, we are not creating adequate educational or technical alternatives for them. The State is acquiring land in the name of public purpose and industrial growth, but we need to rethink how we define ‘development’.

We have to acknowledge that India is a country of 1.2 billion people. The kind of development the government is promoting caters only to the top 20 percent of the population. The government is revising the 1894 Act after 120 years to further growth and development, which gives it a historic opportunity to change how acquisition takes place. We should not lose this chance to create a policy that helps make India’s citizens participants in the development planning of the nation.

The key issue of citizens taking part in planning development remains unaddressed. The 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments, which empowered local self-governance institutions in rural and urban areas, have not yet been fully implemented. Their power is being taken away by the creation of other authorities and governance structures that interfere in the exercise of local institutions’ authority, thereby violating the Constitutional rights of the people.

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh takes pride in the fact that the new Bill is an attempt at balancing the needs of the country. Since the likes of Medha Patkar and the industry associations are both unhappy, it means he is doing something right.

However, lest he forget, the laws framed by governments are neither for Patkar nor for the industry bodies, but for the citizens and the values enshrined in the Constitution, which recognises the supremacy of the citizens, and professes ideals of growth with justice and equity and a respect for the fundamental rights of the citizens that the new Bill violates.

letters@tehelka.com

 

 

Madars HC – Lankan woman seeks Rs 20 lakh for illegal detention #Vaw


TNN Apr 29, 2013, 05.38AM IST

CHENNAI: A Sri Lankan Tamil woman, claiming that her Chennai-based husband had illegally admitted her in a private asylum at Urappakkam here and kept her confined there for 20 months, moved the Madras high court seeking 20 lakh compensation.

A division bench comprising Justice K N Basha and Justice P Devadass, before whom the habeas corpus petition of K Rizmiya came up for hearing, summoned her husband Kaja Mohideen to the court, and then referred the case to be settled through mediation. The mediation has been scheduled for June 5.

Rizmiya’s counsel P Vijendran said she had joined the Abha Hospital in Saudi Arabia as midwife in 2002, and met Kaja Mohideen, a container driver, there. They fell in love and later got married at Ambara in Sri Lanka.

When their daughter was three and half years old, he left for Chennai without informing her. Rizmiya said it took her two years to reach Chennai and trace her husband’s address, only to realize that Kaja Mohideen was already married with two children. He again persuaded her to return to Saudi Arabia, saying the family needed money to settle in Chennai.

According to her, she returned to Chennai in 2008 and insisted that he lived with her. In the guise of taking her to a hospital for treatment, she was admitted in Oxford Mental Health Home at Urappakkam, saying she was insane. Vijendran said Rizmiya said she was in illegal confinement at the ‘home’ for 20 months. She told TOI that she was administered heavy sedatives and fed cheap food by home managers, who later released her after obtaining her signatures on some papers. “I do not know what was written in that paper,” she said in the petition.

Noting that she had worked in Saudi Arabia and given her entire earnings to her husband for nearly seven years, Rizmiya said she had approached the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), chief minister’s special cell and the city police seeking help to reunite with her husband. Since no help came her way, she filed the present petition seeking 20 lakh as compensation.

Rizmiya said in the guise of taking her to a hospital for treatment, her husband Kaja Mohideen admitted her to Oxford Mental Health Home at Urappakkam, saying she was insane

 

#India – Mentally ill held captive in asylum without licence #WTFnews


Christin Mathew Philip & Pratiksha Ramkumar, TNN Apr 29, 2013,

CHENNAI: Hidden behind 15ft-high compound walls is an 80-bed privately run home for the mentally ill in Urapakkam, 50km from the city. The home, Oxford Charitable Trust, has around 100 patients, but has not renewed its government licence for more than seven years.

“We have not issued a licence to them. They are not registered with us as a private nursing home for the mentally ill,” confirmed Dr C Jayaprakash, director of the government Institute of Mental Health (IMH). As per the law, a private mental health nursing or rehabilitation home needs a licence from the IMH or the state mental health authority. The licence has to be renewed every three years.

While there are 30 licensed private nursing homes for the mentally ill in the city, there are a number of centres that operate without licences or regulation.

Oxford Charitable Trust functions out of a white-washed building. The only entrance is a 6ft high blue gate, which is usually locked. TOI managed to gain entry into the building and found a kitchen with women cutting vegetables and stirring watery sambar. Further inside is a courtyard, surrounded by locked rooms with small windows. On the first floor are women watching television while quietly eating sambar and rice.

It could pass off for an old-age home, but residents of Urapakkam say sounds of “women shouting or crying loudly at odd hours” suggest otherwise. “They hit us if we cry, shout or try to escape,” said former inmate K Rizmiya, who has filed a petition in the Madras high court against her husband who admitted her there.

“The staff would force us to take strong sedatives at night or inject us with medicine to put us to sleep for five days if we shouted,” said Rizmiya. She protested the day she was admitted, and woke up in the same spot five days later drenched in her own urine and feces.

Oxford Charitable Trust does not fulfill the prerequisites for a mental health nursing home as per the State Mental Health Rules, 1990. “They need a psychiatrist on call and a full-time psychologist and registered social workers,” says Dr Sathyanathan, former director, IMH. “They need to have an emergency care unit and an electro-convulsive therapy facility,” he said.

The owners describe Oxford Charitable Trust as a home for the mentally ill. “We charge Rs 6,000 a month without medicines,” says one of the owners, G Ramkumar. “We take care of the patient as long as the guardians want us to.” They require a “medical history report and prescription of medicines” for admission.

Rizmiya said brokers who hang around IMH falsify medical certificates and admit people in to the home.

We Don’t Need Genetically Engineered Bananas For Iron Deficiency



By Vandana Shiva

 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The latest insanity from the genetic engineers is to push GMO bananas on India for reducing iron deficiency in Indian women.

Nature has given us a cornucopia of biodiversity, rich in nutrients. Malnutrition and nutrient deficiency results from destroying biodiversity, and with it rich sources of nutrition.

The Green Revolution has spread monocultures of chemical rice and wheat, driving out biodiversity from our farms and diets.

And what survived as spontaneous crops like the amaranth greens and chenopodium (bathua) which are rich in iron were sprayed with poisons and herbicides. Instead of being seen as iron rich and vitamin rich gifts, they were treated as “weeds”. A Monsanto representative once said that Genetically Engineered crops resistant to their propriety herbicide Roundup killed the weeds that “steal the Sunshine”. And their RoundUp Ads in India tell women “Liberate yourself, use Roundup”. This is not a recipe for liberation, but being trapped in malnutrition.

As the “Monoculture of the Mind” took over, biodiversity disappeared from our farms and our food. The destruction of biodiverse rich cultivation and diets has given us the malnutrition crisis, with 75% women now suffering from iron deficiency.

Our indigenous biodiversity offers rich sources of iron. Amaranth has 11.0 mg per 100gm of food, buckwheat has 15.5,neem has 25.3,bajra has 8.0,rice bran 35.0,rice flakes 20.0bengal gram roasted 9.5,Bengal gram leaves 23.8 ,cowpea 8.6,horse gram6.77, amaranth greens have upto 38.5,karonda 39.1,lotus stem 60.6, coconut meal 69.4,niger seeds 56.7,cloves 11.7,cumin seeds 11.7.mace 12.3,mango powder (amchur) 45.2,pippali 62.1,poppy seeds 15.9,tamarind pulp 17.0,turmeric 67.8, raisins 7.7……..

The knowledge of growing this diversity and transforming it to food is women’s knowledge. That is why in Navdanya we have created the network for food sovereignty in women’s hands – Mahila Anna Swaraj.

The solution to malnutrition lies in growing nutrition, and growing nutrition means growing biodiversity, it means recognizing the knowledge of biodiversity and nutrition among millions of Indian women who have received it over generations as “Grandmothers Knowledge”. For removing iron deficiency, iron rich plants should be grown everywhere, on farms, in kitchen gardens, in community gardens, in school gardens, on roof tops, in balconies….Iron deficiency was not created by Nature. And we can get rid of it by becoming co-creators and co-producers with Nature.

But there is a “creation myth” that is blind to nature’s creativity and biodiversity, and to the creativity, intelligence and knowledge of women. According to this “creation myth” of capitalist patriarchy, rich and powerful men are the “creators”. They can own life through patents and intellectual property. They can tinker with nature’s complex evolution over millennia, and claim their trivial yet destructive acts of gene manipulation “create” life, “create” food, “create” nutrition. In the case of GM bananas it is one rich man, Bill Gates, financing one Australian scientist, Dale, who knows one crop, the banana, to impose inefficient and hazardous GM bananas on millions of people in India and Uganda who have grown hundreds of banana varieties over thousands of years in addition to thousands of other crops.

The project is a waste of money, and a waste of time. It will take 10 years and millions of dollars to complete the research. But meantime, governments, research agencies, scientists will become blind to biodiversity based, low cost, safe, time tested, democratic alternatives in the hands of women.

Bananas only have 0.44mg of iron per 100 grams of edible portion. All the effort to increase iron content of bananas will fall short of the iron content of our indigenous biodiversity.

Not only is the GM banana not the best choice for providing iron in our diet, it will further threaten biodiversity of bananas and iron rich crops, and introduce new ecological risks.

First, the GM banana, if adopted, will be grown as large monocultures, like GM Bt cotton, and the banana plantations in the banana republics of Central America. Since government and Aid agencies will push this false solution, as has happened with every “miracle” in agriculture, our biodiversity of iron rich foods will disappear.

The idea of “nutrient farming” of a few nutrients in monocultures of a few crops has already started to be pushed at the policy level. The finance Minister announced an Rs 200 crore project for “nutri farms” in his 2013 budget speech.

Humans need a biodiversity of nutrients including a full range of micronutrients and trace elements. These come from healthy soils and biodiversity.

Second, our native banana varieties will be displaced, and contaminated. These include Nedunendran, Zanzibar, Chengalikodan, Manjeri Nendran II

 

Table varieties
Monsmarie, Robusta, Grand Naine, Dwarf Cavendish, Chenkadali, Poovan, Palayankodan,Njalipoovan, Amritsagar, Grosmichel, Karpooravalli, Poomkalli, Koompillakannan, Chinali, Dudhsagar, Poovan, Red banana

 

Culinary varieties

Monthan, Batheea Kanchikela Nendrapadathy

Njalipoovan, Palayankodan, Robusta.

(KERALA AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY ORGANIC PRODUCTION OF BANANA (Musa spp.)

 

There is a perverse urge among the biotechnology brigade to declare war against biodiversity in its centre of origin. An attempt was made to introduce Bt brinjal into India which is the centre of diversity for Brinjal. GM corn is being introduced in Mexico, the centre of diversity of corn. The GM banana is being introduced to the two countries where banana is a significant crop and has large diversity. One is India, the other is Uganda, the only country where banana is a staple.

Fourth, as recognized by Harvest Plus, the corporate alliance pushing Biofortification, there could be insurmountable problems with the biofortification of nutrients in foods as they: “… may deliver toxic amounts of nutrients to an individual and also cause its associated side effects (and) the potential that the fortified products will still not be a solution to nutrient deficiencies amongst low income populations who may not be able to afford the new product and children who may not be able to consume adequate amounts.” (Food Biofortification: no answer to ill-health, starvation or malnutrition By Bob Phelpshttp://www.freshfruitportal.com/opinion-biofortification-is-an-obstacle-to-food-justice)

 

Fifth, Australian scientists are using a virus that infects the banana as a promoter. This could spread through horizontal gene transfer. All genetic engineering uses genes from bacteria and viruses. Independent studies have shown that there are health risks associated with GM foods.

 

There is no need for introducing a hazardous technology in a low iron food like bananas (which brings us many other health benefits )when we have so many affordable, accessible, safe and diverse options for meeting our nutritional needs of iron.

 

We have to grow nutrition by growing biodiversity, not industrially “fortify” nutritionally empty food at high cost, or put one or two nutrients into genetically engineered crops.

 

We don’t need these irresponsible experiments, that create new threats to biodiversity and our health, imposed by powerful men in distant places, who are totally ignorant of the biodiversity in our fields and thalis, and who never bear the consequences of their destructive power. We need to put food security in women’s hands so that the last woman and the last child can share in nature’s gifts of biodiversity.

 

#India – Why are people opposing Lower Suktel Irrigation project in Odisha ?


 

“O government! Open your ear and listen to us ,We do not need Suktel dam.”
                   – writing on a wall in GS Dungripali, one of the villages that will be submerged if the Dam comes up

piccourtesy- down to earth

 

Context / Background

 

 

 

The river ‘Suktel’ originates from Gandhamardan Mountain (situated in between Balangir and Bargarh districts) in Orissa and flows into ‘Tel’ river. As a part of Lower Suktel Irrigation Project, Government of Orissa plans to build a dam on Suktel river which will be located 20kms from Balangir. According to Government of Orissa (GoO) this irrigation project will wipe out all miseries of people in Balangir which is otherwise known for its droughts and poverty. If the project promises such bright future ahead, why is it that people are protesting against the project for more than a decade now? The issue is much more complex than it seems to be and it is understood by the people in the area – at least those who have been with the ‘Lower Suktel Budi Anchal Sangram Parishad (LSBASP). In the following section we will explore more about the hidden and not so hidden agenda of this irrigation project and the larger politics behind it, the wrath of devastation, the evolution of a mass struggle and the process so far apart from understanding the organizational structure and systems.

 

 

 

The Project & the Scale of Devastation

 

 

 

The water resources department, GoO describes Lower Suktel irrigation project as a ‘major irrigation project’ where a dam and a spillway will be built. According to the GoO the dam will fully displace people from 16 villages and people of another 10 villages will be partially displaced. The survey that was done in 1996 pitched the figure of displacement at 4160 families which is much less than the real number. The GoO has apparently identified the land in three villages to build the rehabilitation colony. Around 638 hectare land will be affected due to this project. There are plans to hand over non-forest areas to the forest department for afforestation and GoO has a provision of Rs. 159.26lakh for this.

 

 

 

The dam project is stated to be planned with a help from the World bank worth Rs.600 crores.

 

 

 

The compensation package for a displaced family include 20 decimal  homestead land, 2 acre irrigated land or 4 acre non-irrigated land, money to build the house, financial assistance for one year, money for relocating in new place plus Rs.500/ -.

 

 

 

The GoO has obtained the required permissions from Central Water Commission, Forest Department and Pollution Control Board. This project entails an investment of Rs. 217.13 crores and the GoO has already given the permission for the same.

 

 

 

The number of villages to be affected as given by the government seems unrealistic and has not been updated with the changes in plans. The original height of the dam that was cited by the government was at 36 meters which is now slated to be at 56 meters. This essentially means many more villages coming under water. At least 142 villages (86 full & 56 partial) are estimated to be affected due to this dam/irrigation project.

 

 

 

Loisinga block of Balangir, with 48% tribal population, which will be affected by the project is known for its extremely fertile land. The thick forest around the area and through which Suktel river flows is known for rich flora and fauna and is said to be home for wild animals. The fertile land enables people to produce very good quality vegetables such as parwal & brinjal, mahul, mango, jamun, jackfruit etc and crops. People not only in Balangir district but also many other districts in Orissa are benefited by this produce. The area has a massive reserve for Kendu leaf.

 

 

 

There will be a loss of at least Rs.10crores due to the felling of trees which will lead to minimal rains ultimately affecting the eco-system of the area. It is not understood how a dam can be built and effectively used for irrigation on a river which is already not heavy flowing and without rain, it will be a dry river.

 

 

 

 

 

The Ground Swelling and the Process so far

 

 

 

There was enough speculation among the people about the project despite rigorous attempts by the state to create a favorable opinion among the masses about the project. In 1997, the then district collector Bijay Arora organized the first ever public hearing in Chudapali, one of the villages which will be affected due to the project. More than ten thousand people from 26 villages, which were said to be affected, came to the public hearing. The district collector invited 30 representatives from the gathering to present their views on the construction of the dam in the name of irrigation. Everyone except one representative voiced against the dam. The only person who did not cite against the dam had only said that the dam is ok as long as it does not damage the road. The district collector ironically concluded the public hearing saying that people have no objections to the dam. This was unacceptable to people who had gathered there and especially when 29 out of 30 had opposed the dam construction.

 

 

 

It is on that very occasion and at that place, people gathered there decided to organize their energy and fight against this conspiracy. The deceitful act of the government led to the formation of a campaign under the banner of ‘Lower Suktel Budi Anchal Sangram Parishad’ (LSBASP). A Parishad was formed in each of the 26 villages that were to be affected, according to the government record, due to the project. An eleven member team was constituted in each village with a President and a vice-President to intensify the campaign and mobilise the affected communities.

 

 

 

Mobilisation on the ground grew as people understood the hidden agenda of the dam project. The politics behind the dam project was becoming clear as people could see a direct connection between the dam project with the mining plans in Gandhamardan. It must be noted here that the mining plans in Gandhamardan, which faced strong opposition in 1980s, is resurfacing now since as many as 200 companies trying to get permission. Strong peoples’ resistance in Gandhamardan in 1980s had forced the company to go back even after investing 32crores. Biju Pattanaik’s government finally scrapped the project in early 1990s. But the agenda of the state to give the mountain for mining remained and it looked for ways and means to get there. The dam project, otherwise portrayed as an irrigation project, was designed to get to Gandhamardan. It is rather ridiculous to even have a dam on a river which usually does not have enough water throughout the year. The reservoir is planned as such that water could be ultimately sourced from it for mining purposes in the Mountain, especially for the proposed refinery in Taankapani, a mere 20kms from the reservoir.

 

 

 

This inter-linkage was not difficult for people in Suktel area to understand and when they realized the actual danger inherent in the irrigation project, the struggle even became much broader. The support and solidarity action became much more vigorous as many other movements and peoples’ organizations joined in this struggle across the state.

 

 

 

Sensing the danger from the government in going ahead with the project, LSABSP adopted the strategy of establishing a shrine to worship ‘Banadurga’ at the entry point in Pardhiapali  village – giving a clear signal about the protest. The project faced a strong opposition from people when the government decided to lay the foundation for the project in 2001. LSBASP mobilized 30 thousand people on that day to stage a massive protest. Deterred by this agitation on the ground, the administration hurriedly located another place away from the village for the chief minister to lay the foundation stone for the project. The administration applied section 144 apart from issuing warrant against few agitators in the new area so as to keep the agitators away.

 

 

 

Defying the repressive measures of the administration broke the police barricade and entered the area cordoned off for the programme. Shouting slogans against the project, the youths waived black flags to the chief minister. Interestingly, the Pashim Orissa Krushaka Parishad, a government outfit in an act to appease the chief minister intentionally interpreted it wrongly and communicated to him that the group is happy about the project. Unfortunately, the state of Orissa has a chief minister who does not understand Oriya and also such protest measures. Police arrested around 70 protesters in addition to the warrants it had already issued. This was vehemently protested and demanded their release by 30 thousand people who had gathered there to oppose the project.

 

 

 

LSBASP continued to contact people in all the villages and build collective strength through various mediums such as cycle rally, mashal yatra, village meetings and so on. The village-wise Parishad unit was effective in building one voice of resistance. On the human rights day in December 2001, the Parishad mobilised around 10-12 thousand people and submitted a demand letter to the collector and also sent it to the President of India. Interestingly, the President’s office responded and asked for papers (20 sets) on their struggle and suggests ways of irrigation without constructing a dam. Being a mass organization, the Parishad has always given primacy to the needs of the campaign on the ground and thus the requirement cited by the President’s office was beyond their bound. The Parishad communicated to the President’s office about the their inability to accommodate the request and urged him to visit the area to understand the situation first hand.

 

 

 

LSBASP asked the administration on 18 November 2001 about the reasons for not consulting people before going ahead with the project.

 

 

 

As the Parishad intensified its campaign, the state tried to mobilize people with lucrative offers. In 2002, people of 6 villages decided to withdraw themselves from the Parishad as they fell into the state tricks of compensations and benefits. The administration continued to motivate people through various ways such as taking the village Sarpanch into their fold. The roles of the land acquisition officer (LAO) and the bank officials have been extremely destructive as they have decided to play to the tunes of the state agenda and have continued to mis-guide people. This has led to people saying yes to compensation and rehabilitation deals and another 4 villages have got added up who have dissociated themselves from LSBASP by now.

 

 

 

The usual trick played by the LAO is to motivate the panchayat sarpanch and getting the entire village say yes to the offers. There are several instances where he alongwith the loan officer in the bank have told people to take compensation and build houses in the same area so as to get more compensation later. In the area, there are absolutely new houses coming up rapidly. This goes alongwith the line maintained by the Rural Development Commissioner (RDC)of the state who recently said that ‘there will be only compensation and no rehabilitation.’

 

 

 

Despite public outcry and massive demonstrations by LSBASP, the administration went ahead and distributed compensation in Khutpali village in 2003. A massive demonstation was organized in front of the police station by LSBASP and the administration assured that no more compensation will be distributed without consulting the organization. Apprehensive about the motive of the administration, LSBASP continued to strengthen its struggle on the ground. It ahs been demanding the admistration to make the ‘detailed project report’ public which the administration has been evading. The rift between Khutpali and GS Dungripali is growing as it is fuelled by the administration.

 

 

 

Compensation was distributed in Parjhapali on 11 January 2004 with heavy police presence. In fact the police did flag march in the entire area to keep off the people from resisting the process.

 

 

 

LSBASP has always communicated its displeasure about the manner in which the administration has motivated people to take the compensation. The leadership has always maintained that they are against the dam construction and thus no question arises about discussing compensation package. They find it very unfortunate to see the RDC engaging in mobilizing the people as Gagan Dhal, the RDC once said that compensation will help people to buy vehicles which they could use during the construction of the dam and earn a living. Ever since the villages have fallen into the clutches of the administration and accepted the compensation, there is an increase in the number of egg and liquor shops, vehicles and new houses in the area. The happiness of those who have taken money is short-lived

 

 

 

For LSBASP 11 May 2005 was the day when the administration and the local representative made the biggest blunder so far. The day was slated for bhumi pujan by the administration and as usual there was a heavy deployment of police. The local MLA Narsingh Mishra, whom people used to have a lot of faith, had assured people that there would be no such activity in the area till the administration makes the documents public and till people agrees to go ahead with the project. On this day he duped people and got the police to raid GS Dungripali village. People in the village recount that day with horror and anguish as they stood mute spectator to the dastardly act of the police. Police picked up 70 people including minor children. Each house in that village was ransacked by the police and women were abused severely. There were 15 platoons of police deployed for this task.

 

 

 

People also retaliated and it can be left to imagination to think what would have happened to the local MLA if he was there. It was kind of a ceasefire that continued for quite sometime. It took more than a month for LSBASP to mobilize support and get the people released.

 

 

 

This gruesome act of the administration has left the people in other villages completely baffled and scared. According to a villager in Kaindapali, “we saw what happened to people in GS Dungripali as police beat people mercilessly. It was cruel and we do not want to face the same situation. Police can do that to us also and we do not want that. That’s why we said yes to taking compensation when the administration came to us.” Kaindapali is one of those villages where the people have taken compensation but now refuse to move if they are not given equally fertile land and appropriate house to stay. This is the village where a man has got Rs. 6/- as compensation in lieu of his big house. So, one can imagine the skewed way of calculations as far as compensation is concerned.

 

 

 

Earlier this year, 2008, the present collector said that the collectorate will engage in any kind of discussion with LSBASP only if it agrees for dam construction. This put off the leaders and they decided to meet the RDC who showed sympathy but expressed his inability to do anything. The helplessness of the state government is vividly seen all over the state. In fact, the state government is in this kind of a situation not by chance but by choice where all the decisions are made in serious consultation with the corporate and international financial institutions.

 

 

 

The main slogan of the movement is “Maribu pache chati pati, nai chadu; Maribu pache Daribu Nai.”

 

 

 

Demands

 

 

 

 

 

The stated objective of the dam is to irrigate Balangir and flood management. But the fact remains that ground will be prepared for mining companies to take over Gandhamardan Mountain which has a rich bauxite reserve in the name of community development by way of compensation during the irrigation project. This will essentially destroy the age-old practice of lift irrigation in the area. As mentioned earlier, this area produces maximum variety of vegetable in large numbers and the production here caters to at least 6 big towns in Orissa.

 

 

 

IN last more than a decade LSBASP has seen people coming together, drifting away under pressure, state repression and so on. But the resolve of the organization is far from shying away from the struggle. The organization has the following demands:

 

 

 

–       No dam for irrigation – promote lift irrigation

 

–       no displacement

 

–       the rich bio-diversity can not be compensated

 

–       government must make the DPR public

 

–       stop state repression in the area

 

–       withdraw the false cased filed against people in 2005

 

 

 

The organization functions as a mass organization and draws strength and solidarity support from like-minded groups and individuals. Each village where the organization is active has a Parishad which amalgamates with the collective. LSBASP is led by a President and vice-President who are also office bearers in the Parishads in their respective villages. Women have continued to play major role in demonstration, rallies, mobilizing people in their villages. The organization recognizes the contribution of women in the struggle but does not have a policy to have them at the decision making body. The common notion, as shared by a number of Parishad office bearers, the office bearers have to do a lot of running around and women are not in a position to do so. This is the reason, according to them, why women do not figure in the list of office bearers in any of the villages actively involved in the struggle.

 

Written by — Mamata Dash

 

 

Rape Culture: 3 Reasons Most Men Are to Blame For Misogyny #Vaw


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The discourse surrounding rape culture and the pervading attitudes of victim blaming are reaching an all-time epoch with each new shared and re-shared story on a new rape case making its rounds on social media platforms. These cases include most recently the Delhi gang rape case, the Steubenville High School football case, and the Rehtaeh Parsons story, all of which have churned our stomachs, broadened our vernacular around synonyms of “deplorable,” and made us shout “why?!”

Why indeed.

Why  we are asked in pictures and Tweets and statuses  are we centering our awareness and education on rape around “not getting raped” as opposed to “don’t rape”? It is a timely question, a highly relevant one, and in many ways the correct one, but one that is far too implicit about the root of the problem and circuitous in its blame.

Thus, I will come out and say it for you, ladies.

It’s men. We are the root of the problem and deserving of the blame.

Though I am sure there are those of us  that poor Ryan Reynolds or Ryan Gosling look-alike who must dash between campus security lights when exiting the gym in his Under Armour tank top or endure the humiliation of answering why he chose to go out in skinny jeans to a club after being sexually violated by a gang of sorority sisters, those circumstances are quite … rare.

No, it’s quite clear fellas that we are the problem. And the problem does not begin and end at rape, but extends to and permeates throughout the entire sphere of gender issues, from domestic violence to gender pay gaps. Misogyny exists because we, men, either push it or allow it.

There are three ways in which we are most culpable:

1. Most obviously, men are almost exclusively the perpetrators:

Except for a very small number of instances, it is men who are committing the most egregious gender crimes such as rape and domestic abuse, running the companies that are most flagrant in their unequal pay and opportunities, and in nearly every country creating the laws and conditions that keep women disadvantaged.

2. Men have perpetuated a culture around manhood and masculinity that is conducive to misogynist behavior:

Especially relevant to rape, we have defined manhood around sexual “conquests,” the who, how, when, and where of sexual intercourse (notice the absence of why). Our virility is becoming increasingly quantitative. This in turn has amplified the pressure on boys and men to “score,” or, in the best case scenario, lie or aggrandize about it, in order to secure their rightful place amongst the pantheon of their masculine brethren. You will find this narrative occurring in your local teenage boy’s locker room or in nearly any all-male social situation. To coincide with this, we have also effectively stigmatized active positive discourse around women’s issues  whether it is by questioning the manhood (there is that word again) of the men who do so or regarding their motives with suspicion. Apparently, it shouldn’t matter to us what women think about any of this.

3. Men’s contribution to the anti-sexual assault movement has mostly been a passive, or neutral, one:

We don’t rape, we don’t physically abuse, and we certainly didn’t ask to make more for the same work than our female co-worker. Maybe, occasionally, we’ll even do so much as “like” a comment on Facebook that supports a woman’s issue. Maybe, during our weekly poker game, when our friend belches out his newest drunken sexual experience with some “random b*tch” (of which he’s also probably bluffing about) we will merely giggle instead of guffaw. And then maybe, afterwards, we will pat ourselves on the back for not being like him. While the neutral measure is obviously necessary given the alternative, it is simply not enough. It is not effective in inducing change.

No longer can we just brush off the actions of the offending fellow male as a purely individual, psychological one (based on the notion that he must just be inherently evil and thus nothing could be done on our end anyways), or rue that biology and history conspired to create, somehow independently of us, a patriarchal, misogynist society that is so prevalent it might be fated or so powerful it can’t be changed. Men can’t just say “well that’s that,” and dust off our hands and put them back on the video game controller while our daughters, wives, sisters, mothers, and friends continue to get raped, abused, persecuted, and repressed. Humanity cannot afford this type of attitude any longer.

Which brings me to the obvious question: Well, what should and can we do that specifically targets men?

For the long term, education around gender needs to be introduced in schools at an early age and extend to the very end of compulsory schooling. Boys need to learn about gender issues around the world and why they should care, that gender roles are not predetermined and do not follow a specific narrative, and how to interact with their female counterparts as equals. Boys need to learn how to be men in the presence of women’s issues, not in the absence of them. Later, issues surrounding sex need to be incorporated, especially around the matters of what defines manhood and masculinity. Preferably, these classes would be taught by the world’s most testosterone-driven professional wrestler, just to drive the point home. But that’s merely a frill.

We also need to alter our conversation when we are around each other because our words and conversations aren’t harmless. In fact, the way in which we define ourselves as men and the accompanying roles we take on are very harmful, as they act as influencers for the type of behavior that typically surrounds misogyny.

Lastly, starting today, we need to openly and actively show that we won’t stand for rape, we don’t tolerate domestic abuse, we can’t fathom why our female colleagues are making less than us, etc. The more male faces we can add to the struggle around gender issues, the better. Social pressure needs to be applied to our male counterparts that this is far from normal and far from okay.

I hope that no one will take this simply as a manifestation of “male guilt” or me saying that men are scum. The truth is quite the opposite, as there are many, many more good men out there than bad ones. But I am claiming we are quite unaware and ignorant of our own subtle complicities and roles in regards to the culture we are very much responsible for creating and sustaining, and often do not take accountability in reigning in or stopping the most arrant of our same-sex offenders.

So take this as a call to arms, if you will. For those men who are just tired, and disgusted, and embarrassed, not just as a man but as a human being, every time you hear about another woman who has been raped, or subjugated and persecuted in some other way, know that there issomething that we can do about it.

We can begin by pointing the fingers at ourselves, and then act accordingly from there.

 

One lakh fine imposed on Shimla Shopkeeper


IANSIANS – Fri 26 Apr, 2013 

 

Shimla, April 26 (IANS) A sweetmeat seller was fined Rs.one lakh, the highest ever penalty in the state, by a designated officer for selling sweets that failed to comply with the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006, an official said Friday.

Shimla Municipal Corporation health official Omesh Bharti fined the shopkeeper Thursday, after the samples of the sweets seized from his shop were found to be adulterated.

Government sources said the state government had recently delegated powers to all health officers under the food safety act to impose fines on vendors if food samples failed to meet standards set by law.

 

#India Police insensitivity- Gangraped migrant women approach Delhi Police for justice




Sushil Manav
Tribune News Service

Bhiwani, April 28
The Haryana Police’s sensitivity towards crimes against women has once again come under scanner, after two migrant Dalit women, who were allegedly gang-raped and paraded naked by their employer at a brick kiln in Dhanana village of Bhiwani district, had to approach the Delhi Police through an NGO headed by Swami Agnivesh for getting justice.

The victims, a 33-year-old woman and her 22-year-old sister-in-law, who were being kept as bonded labourers in the brick kiln, had approached the Bhiwani police last Saturday with a request for their release as bonded labourers, but the police allegedly turned a deaf ear to their complaint.

A policeman allegedly told the women that they deserved this treatment and “something bigger could happen to them by the evening.”

On the same night, they were allegedly gang-raped by the brick kiln owner and two others.

The women, who belong to Budelkhand, alleged in their complaint to the Delhi Police that they were gang-raped by three men, including the brick kiln owner for two days.

“My employer used to beat me with sticks and torture me regularly when I used to ask for wages. He and two of his brothers even forced me to parade naked. They fractured my fingers and bruised my body. And this has been happening for the past six months,” one of the victims alleged.

Bandhua Mukti Morcha, an NGO to help bonded labour and headed by Swami Agnivesh, helped the women approach the Delhi Police and narrated their tale of woes.

The Delhi Police registered an FIR under Section 376-D of the IPC on the complaint of the women and informed the Bhiwani police last night.

Bhiwani Superintendent of Police (SP) Simardeep Singh said the victims were being brought to Bhiwani for recording their statements.

He said the police would incorporate relevant sections of the IPC in the FIR after recording the statements of the victims.

Simardeep Singh said the police would verify the allegations against the local police and would take action if anyone was found guilty.

 

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