SC slams Centre for giving ‘Z’ security to Ambani and said ” A 5yr old a five-year-old would not have been raped if there was security in Delhi


PTI : New Delhi, Wed May 01 2013, 2
Supreme Court

Centre‘s decision to provide ‘Z’ category security to the richest Indian Mukesh Ambani today drew flak from the Supreme Court which asked why such persons are given security cover by the government when the common man is feeling unsafe.

The apex court ticked off the government for giving protection to such persons when the common man in the country is unsafe because of lack of security and said a five-year-old girl would not have been raped if there was proper security in the capital.

The bench reasoned that the rich can afford to hire private security personnel.

“We read in newspapers that Ministry of Home has directed providing for CISF security to an individual. Why is state providing security to such person,” a bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi said without taking the name of Ambani.

“If there is threat perception then he must engage private security personnel,” the bench said adding, “Private businessmen getting security is prevalent in Punjab but that culture has gone to Mumbai.”

The bench, however, said: “We are not concerned about the security of X,Y,Z persons but about the security of common man.”

The bench was hearing a petition filed by a Uttar Pradesh resident on misuse security cover and red beacon provided by the government to people.

Government’s decision to provide ‘Z’ category security for Ambani had evoked sharp criticism from Left parties following which it was clarified that he will foot the expenses for this estimated to be Rs.15-16 lakh per month.

The business tycoon is the new entrant to the ‘Z’ category VIP security club after the Union Home Ministry had recently approved an armed commando squad following threat perceptions.

– See more at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/supreme-court-slams-centre-for-giving-z-category-security-to-mukesh-ambani/1110186/#sthash.unMnK9Gz.dpuf

 

PressRelease- Joint Statement by Indians and Pakistanis on the Sad Demise of Sarabjit Singh


We the citizens of India and Pakistan are pained by the sad demise of Mr. Sarabjit Singh as a result of a dastardly attack on him in the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore, Pakistan by some inmates on 26th April 2013. We express our deep and heartfelt condolences for the family of the deceased.

Given the statements by most Indian prisoners in Pakistan jails of good and humane treatment, this unusual and inexplicable attack on Sarabjit Singh and the allegations of torture in the recent death of Chamel Singh in Pakistan jail indicate some conspiracy by vested interests to destabilize relations between India and Pakistan that were showing marked improvement in recent times. Hence we demand a thorough and complete investigation under the supervision of the UN or any independent international body.

Prisoners any where are the responsibility of the governments and the Government of Pakistan should immediately take strict and exemplary actions against all those responsible for the attack as well as the planners and conspirators. Pakistan and India should especially ensure that all steps are taken for complete protection and safeguarding all human rights of the prisoners of other country in their jails.

 

India               

  1. Mahesh Bhatt- Mumbai
  2. Mazher Hussain- Hyderabad
  3. Ram Punyani- Mumbai
  4. Jatin Desai- Mumbai
  5. John Dayal- Delhi
  6. Javed Anand- Mumbai
  7. Jamal kidwai- New Delhi
  8. Kamayani Bali Mahabal- Mumbai
  9. Varsha Rajan Berry- Mumbai
  10. Sandeep Panday- Lucknow
  11. Feroz Mithiborewala- Mumbai
  12. Hasan Mansoor- Bangalore
  13. Vijayan MJ- Delhi
  14. Haris Kidwai- Delhi
  15. Ramesh Jadav- Amritsar
  16. Mohammed Turab- Hyderabad

Pakistan

  1. Mohammad Tahseen – Lahore
  2. Abbas Ali Siddiqui- Lahore
  3. Dr. A. H. Nayyar, Pakistan Peace Coalition
  4. Dr. Tipu Sultan, Pakistan Medical Association
  5. Qazi Javed, Forum for Secular Pakistan
  6. Zulfiqar Halepoto, Pakistan Peace Coalition, Sindh
  7. Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah,  PILER
  8. Miss Zeeenia Shoukat PILER
  9. B.M.Kutty, Pakistan Peace Coalition
  10. Dr. Haroon Ahmed, Forum for Secular Pakistan
  11. Ms. Sheema Kermani, Tehreek-e-Niswan
  12. Karamat Ali, PILER
  13. Muhammad Yaqoob, Takhleeq Foundation
  14. Syed Muhammad Ali Shah, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum(PFF)
  15. Dr. Ali Ercelan, PFF
  16. Shamsuddin, PIPFPD and HRCP
  17. Mir Zulfiqar Ali, Joint Action Committe, Karachi
  18. Ms. Farhat Perveen, NOW Community, Karachi

Related articles

Half of India’s dalit population lives in 4 states- UP, West Bengal, Bihar and TN


 

B Sivakumar, TNN | May 2, 2013, 06.14 AM IST
CHENNAI: Four states account for nearly half of the country’s dalit population, reveals the 2011 census. Uttar Pradesh stands first with 20.5% of the total scheduled caste (SC) population, followed by West Bengal with 10.7%, says the data released by the Union census directorate on Tuesday. Bihar with 8.2% and Tamil Nadu with 7.2 % come third and fourth. Dalits form around 16.6% of India’s population.

The 2011 census recorded nearly 20.14 crore people belonging to various scheduled castes in the country. As per the 2001 census, the number was 16.66 crore. The dalit population showed a decadal growth of 20.8%, whereas India’s population grew 17.7% during the same period. “Though there is an increase in the population of dalits in the country, many states with a considerable number of dalits don’t have any legislation to protect the interests of the community. Dalit empowerment is very poor in many states,” said former Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) MLA D Ravikumar.

Many scheduled caste families don’t own land or any other property, said Ravikumar. “Many dalits are landless and efforts to empower them by giving free land have not been successful in Tamil Nadu. Unlike Punjab, which has a considerable number of dalits as industrialists, here there is hardly any industrialist from our community,” the leader of the dalit party said.

There are around 9.79 crore women among the total SC population, and the sex ratio works out to 946 females per 1000 males. Nagaland, Lakshwadeep and Andaman and Nicobar islands have no scheduled castes among their population. Though UP has the largest chunk of the total SC population, Punjab has the largest share of dalits in its population at 31.9%. Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal follow Punjab with 25.2% and 23.5%. In Tamil Nadu, dalits account for about 18% of the population.

The state budget should also allocate funds for creation of assets for dalits, said Ravikumar. “Instead of distributing freebies, the state governments can set aside a portion of the total allocation for dalits. In many cases, funds are being diverted and dalits lose whatever is due to them,” he said. The states with considerable number of dalits in their population must pass a separate legislation on the lines of Andhra Pradesh, which has passed the SC/ST Sub Plan Act, said a dalit activist.

 

#India- Do you know who’s afraid of the new land bill ? Maharashtra Government


Stop forceful land acquisition for Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor project, say farmers of Raigad

Author(s):
Akshay Deshmane
Issue Date:
2013-5-2

They want state to follow the proposed land acquisition Bill likely to be passed soon by Parliament

The Land Acquisition (Rehabilitation and Resettlement) Bill, 2011, which is close to being passed by Parliament after political parties arrived at a consensus on it last month, has found supporters among those fighting forceful displacement and land acquisition for industrial projects in Maharashtra. On the occasion of Maharashtra day on May 1, the Farmers’ Anti-corridor Struggle Action Committee, an outfit of peasants from 78 villages of Raigad district, submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, demanding complete halt to ongoing land acquisition for the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project till the new law comes into force.

“The state government must immediately halt the current acquisition process and follow the Central government guidelines against forceful acquisition. The Bill concerning land acquisition and rehabilitation is still being discussed by Parliament; then why the hurry in acquiring land from farmers? Or is it a deliberate ploy to not let the provisions of the new Act be applicable to the ongoing acquisitions? ” the committee demanded to know in the memorandum.

Industrial corridor will occupy over 27,000 ha in Raigad

Three talukas from the Raigad district-Mangaon, Roha and Tala-stand to lose 67,500 acres (27, 316 hectares) of land to the Dighi Port Industrial Region, under which five industrial areas have been planned; they are Roha-Mangaon Industrial area (3,367 hectares), Palasgaon Industrial Area (1,173 hectares), Pansai Industrial Area (2,829 hectares), Vavedivali Industrial Area (1,255 hectares) and Nizampur Industrial Area (4,508 hectares). According to official data, nearly 18 per cent geographical area of Maharashtra will be impacted by DMIC. In absolute area terms, 56,760 sq km will be influenced by the multi-billion dollar project.

DMIC, a US $90 billion mega-infrastructure project, is to be implemented with financial and technical aid from the government of Japan. The DMIC region comprises parts of seven states (Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra) and two Union Territories (Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu) and is planned along the1,483-km-long western Dedicated Railway Freight Corridor. In Raigad alone, at least 67,500 acres (27, 316 hectares) in 78 villages are set to be acquired for the project by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). Forty-two of these 78 villages have already been served land acquisition notices.

After an open meeting of hundreds of farmers from Raigad district at the historic Azad Maidan, senior member of the farmers’ committee, Ulka Mahajan, detailed the reasons for their opposition. “The state government is making use of the controversial Maharashtra Industrial Development Act, 1961, hastily for DMIC land acquisition to avoid applying provisions of the new land acquisition and rehabilitation Act. There is more space for resisting forceful land acquisition in the new law. While consent of 70 per cent land owners is required in public-private-partnership projects, in private projects consent of 80 per cent land owners is obligatory,” explained Mahajan.

Since April 10, the farmers’ action committee has been protesting outside the office of the sub-divisional officer in Mangaon against land acquisition which began in mid-2012. “The protests will go on till May 6 as 42 of the 78 villages that have been served land acquisition notices will have finished their individual daily protests at the Mangaon office. Veteran peasants’ leader N D Patil will then take up the issue with the chief minister,” said Mahajan.

Despite repeated attempts, officials from the industries department remained unavailable for comment.

After 19 months of hectic negotiations between the government and opposition parties, the land bill is expected to be passed by the Parliament soon. On April 18, the government claimed that all major political parties have reached a “broad consensus” on the bill [1]. The industry was quick to express apprehensions about it. “This bill, as per our understanding, will further prolong the process of land acquisition for industry. It would take three to five years on an average to acquire land. Moreover, we understand that the bill still provides for consent from 80 per cent of the affected families which will delay the process and also act as a deterrent for the industry,” said A Didar Singh, secretary general, Federation of Indian Chambers for Commerce and Industry, in an official statement on the same day.


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/stop-forceful-land-acquisition-delhi-mumbai-industrial-corridor-project-say-farmers-raigad

 

MPs panel raps ministry for clearing 33 drugs without trials


New Delhi | Sunday, 2013 6:06:00 PM IST

Clinical Trials (journal)
Thirty-three new drugs were granted approval by the health ministry without clinical trials on Indian patients between January 2008 and October 2010, a parliamentary panel has found.

It a report tabled in parliament last week, the panel headed by parliament member Brajesh Pathak said: “This is yet another instance where the ministry, inspite of appreciating the serious problem the continued marketing of these 33 drugs may pose to Indian patients, has chosen to take no action to resolve it”.

The panel criticised the union health ministry for its “inaction” on certain alleged irregularities in clinical trials of drugs before their introduction in the country.

It also charged the officials involved in granting approval to these drugs with violation of law and “an intention to save the guilty”.

“The committee is shocked to note this dilly-dallying by the ministry on the matter, which could be affecting lives of lakhs of people in the country, who are consuming these drugs,” it said.

“The ministry agrees with the committee’s viewpoint about review of approvals to ensure safety of patients, fair play, transparency and accountability but instead of taking strict and immediate action in all proven cases of delinquency and omission and commission, it still continues to be in a state of profound procrastination,” the parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare said in its 66th report.

It said that even after a lapse of more than seven months the three-member expert panel looking into this contentious matter has come out with “virtually nothing concrete” and observed that the government “intends to delay a decision by referring it to yet another committee”.

“These tactics have been, as stated at several places in this report, resorted to by the government to delay indefinitely the decisions and consequent actions that would be required to be taken against several officials and non-officials who have indulged in rampant acts of omission and commission while approving these drugs in gross violation of the law of the land.”

The committee has taken strong objections to these “dilatory tactics” and recommended immediate decision on these “proven gross violations, lest the health of the people is compromised irrevocably.”

Indo-Asian News Service spc/ros/vt

Casteist remarks: Assistant professor booked



Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 30
The police today booked an assistant professor of Rajindra Medical College for allegedly making cast-based remarks against an MBBS student. The FIR comes ten days after Raj Kumar Verka, vice chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, visited Patiala, met the aggrieved student and directed the Patiala police to register a case.

Teaching staff of the college is up in arms against the “one-sided act” of the police.

The police said the FIR was registered against Rajindra Medical College assistant professor Dr Harsimran Singh on the complaint filed by MBBS student Anmolpreet Singh. In his complaint to the police, Anmolpreet stated that the accused professor had passed caste-based remarks against him in front of the entire class.

Following the complaint and a preliminary probe, the police registered a case under Sections 3 (1), (10) of the SC, ST Act 1989 against the accused at the civil lines police station.

Sources said it was only after the chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes asked the district police chief to register a case that the accused was booked. They said the accused could be arrested anytime as the sections were non-bailable. However, with over 100 students as witnesses and many of them willing to give their statement in the case, the police might take more time to investigate the matter. “While some students have backed the victim, others have told us a different story,” said a police source.

Patiala SSP Gurpreet Singh Gill said they were investigating the matter and statements of witnesses would be recorded. “It is too early to say anything but we are sure the investigation will be done in an impartial manner,” Gill said.

Teachers from the general category are opposing the registration of the case, claiming that the student was under the influence of a senior professor, who was known for using such tactics to settle personal scores.

Seven similar complaints had been received — three at the medical college and four at Rajindra Hospital. In August 2012, three such complaints were filed by Class IV employees of the hospital. However, following investigations, it was found that none of the complaints were genuine.

“We are for strict punishment against anyone using caste remarks against anyone but it is hard to believe that an assistant professor would use such words in a classroom without a valid reason,” said a senior doctor. “Such cases will cause a rift instead of bridging it and we demand an impartial probe. Till then, those involved in the case should be shifted from their positions so that students are under no pressure,” he said.

 

Morning after’ pills legit for 15-year-olds in US #womenrights


TNN | May 2, 2013,

WASHINGTON: The US government has lowered to 15 the age at which girls can buy the morning-after contraceptive pill without a prescription. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday announced to approve a contraceptive known as Plan B or popular as “morning after pill” for all women 15 and older.The announcement is expected to stir the controversy among conservatives who consider it another form of abortion. In a statement, the FDA said the approval of Plan B One-Step for use without a prescription by women 15 years of age and older is based on an actual use study and label comprehension data submitted by Teva showing that women age 15 and older understood that the product was not for routine use and would not protect them against sexually-transmitted diseases.

These data also established that Plan B One-Step could be used properly within this age group without the intervention of a health care provider. “Research has shown that access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the US,” said FDA commissioner Margaret A Hamburg. “The data reviewed by the agency demonstrated that women 15 years of age and older were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works, how to use it properly, and that it does not prevent the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease,” Hamburg said.

FDA said because the product will not protect a woman from HIV or AIDS or other sexually-transmitted diseases, it is important that young women who are sexually active remember to see a health care provider for routine checkups.

 

Kerala – Environmental Activist is labelled “anti-national and terrorist” #WTF


 ‘Industry-politician nexus is trying to eliminate us’

Author(s): M Suchitra, downtoearth
Issue Date: Apr 24, 2013

Purushan Eloor is an environmental activist and research coordinator with Periyar Malineekarana Virudha Samithy (PMVS), which has been fighting against industrial pollution in the Periyar river, the lifeline of central Kerala. The river is alarmingly polluted by about 280 chemical factories located at Eloor-Edayar industrial estate, the largest industrial cluster in the state.

Purushan was member of the Local Area Environment Committee constituted in 2004 by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes, the Environment Working Group of Kerala State Planning Board and the Endosulfan Technical Cell of the Kerala government. Besides, PMVS is an accredited member of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board. But for the past one year, Purushan has been spending most of his time and energy in courts and police stations. He is facing investigations by the crime branch, special branch and the local police for “anti-national and terrorist” activities. Purushan spoke to M Suchitra about how industries and politicians conspire to eliminate environment activists in the locality and how factories continue to pollute the river with impunity. Some excerpts:

Purushan Eloor Purushan EloorWhy are police agencies investigating you and your organisation?

The state government ordered the probe. It is based on a complaint given by the Standing Council of Trade Unions to the chief minister.

What is this Standing Council of Trade Unions?

It is a confederation of prominent trade unions such as CITU, AITUC, INTUC and BMS. The patrons of the council include two state ministers. Its executive and non-executive office-bearers include influential politicians and members of Parliament and the Assembly. The council was originally formed to act as a mediator between industries and the government for the smooth functioning of factories by ensuring adequate power availability.

What are the charges against you?

Receiving huge foreign funds for derailing and destroying domestic industries, purchasing large coffee estates and resorts, uploading visuals insulting the national flag on Facebook, participating in secret camps organised by banned groups like Students Islamic Movement of India, association with those who work for terrorist groups in Pakistan and connections with Maoists.

Is there any truth in these allegations?

Each and every allegation is false and fabricated. Ours is a group of local environmental activists. Our organisation was formed more than two decades ago by the residents of Eloor and Edayar village panchayats, affected by pollution from hazardous wastes discharged by factories. We hold open meetings, agitations and campaigns against the pollution using money from our own pockets. Nothing is about us is a secret. We are ordinary people struggling for a safe environment. About 3,500 families around the industrial estate are affected by the pollution. We have been struggling for more than 20 years.

Then why does the council raise such allegations?

This is an outcome of the nexus between industries and politicians. The present investigation started early last year. First, a series of planted reports against us appeared in Big News, a publication which is not even registered. This was followed by a press conference by the Standing Council at Ernakulam Press Club. It got wide coverage in newspapers and channels. Subsequently, posters tarnishing us were put up everywhere. Then the council approached the chief minister and requested for immediate probe. They also published allegations against us in a blog called patriot.com

What is the basis of the allegation of denigrating the Tricolour on Facebook?

It is an effort to establish that I am involved in anti-national activities. For this they dragged in my friend Muhammedali, a resident of Eloor, working in Dubai. I know him from childhood. We are friends on Facebook, too. Like me, he also hails from a communist family. He was a CPI(M) member and was active in the library movement till he left for Dubai for a livelihood. The First Information Report (FIR) of the Crime Branch accuses Mohammedali of sharing visuals denigrating the national flag and spreading “I Love Pakistan” message through Facebook. The FIR also says by his close relationships with Pakistanis in UAE, he may indulge in anti-social activities. Just imagine, to trap me they tarnished an innocent person who is working far away from his home.

On Facebook have you posted or liked or shared anything against national interest?

Never. Neither he nor I posted or shared or liked anything insulting the flag or propagating anti-national feelings. Neither of us visited any Facebook page that carried the kind of things the FIR says. Interestingly, the standing council even handed over printouts of the photos allegedly posted on our Facebook to the Crime Branch.

How could they do that if you have not posted it?

They were fake.

Doesn’t it amount to cyber crime?

Yes. Mohammedali was extremely shocked. He filed a case in the Kerala High Court against the state government and the Crime Branch, praying for quashing of the false FIR against him. I have also filed a case. Besides, I lodged a complaint in the cyber crimes enquiry cell.

What was the outcome?

Whatever you do on the Facebook–posting, sharing, liking or tagging—will be recorded in its history. It is not difficult to find out whether you have committed a crime or not. After eight months of investigation, the cyber cell found that we were innocent. Since the allegations were serious I wanted to know the origin of all this. Google and VSNL informed the cyber cell that this blog was created in a computer in the office of Cochin Minerals & Rutile Limited, an industrial house producing synthetic rutile.

What does the government say now?

It ended up in an embarrassing position. A few days ago the Kerala Government submitted a statement in the High Court admitting that Mohemmadali’s Facebook did not contain any visual or post against national interest. The regional and national media gave wide coverage to this human rights violation by the government and its police.

Have you bought coffee estates and resorts?

No. But we, 11 friends, have together bought 4.29 acres (1.7 hectares) in Wayanad district. Of the 11, four are from our organisation. What I and my family have in Wayanad is only an old thatched house in a 64 cent plot. Recently, the government conducted a hunt for Maoists in Wayanad forests.

What is the plight of the Periyar now?

The river is dying. There are 15 dams upstream and 282 industries downstream. Of these, 110 are chemical industries. There are a number of scientific studies revealing the dismal plight of the river. Areas surrounding the industrial belt have become one of the toxic hot spots in the world. Most of the factories still discharge their raw hazardous effluent directly into the river. The riverbed has deposits of heavy metals like lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, nickel, cobalt and zinc. Studies by the Cochin University of Science and Technology have revealed that the river ecosystem has many dead zones. Massive fish kills occur frequently. At times the river flows in different colours. Many species of flora and fauna have disappeared. The industrial cluster is only 20 km from the Kochi backwaters which is a part of the Vembanad Lake, a Ramsar site. All hazardous wastes finally reach the backwaters. On the one hand, water flow has significantly reduced due to dams, and on the other, contamination of water, soil and air has increased. Pollution of the river and surrounding wetlands has almost wiped out the traditional occupations, including fishing and farming.

Which are the main polluting companies?

Most of the companies contribute to toxic pollution. But there are a few companies like Hindustan Insecticides Limited (HIL), Merchem and Binani Zinc which have never bothered to abide by the laws. HIL, a Central government undertaking, has been producing insecticides including DDT and endosulfan since 1956. Production of endosulfan was stopped in 2011 after public protests and verdict from the Supreme Court. DDT is the most notorious of the 12 chlorinated chemicals identified for total elimination by the Stockholm Convention. HIL is one of the few remaining DDT producing factories in the world. Water samples from a small stream called Kuzhikkandam Thodu, where HIL discharges its effluent, have revealed presence of more than 100 organic compounds including organochlorines like DDT and its derivatives, which are classified as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). This stream joins the river.

But did the situation not change after the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee’s intervention?

Not much. In 2004, when the monitoring committee visited Kerala, it was shocked to see the situation here. The Hazardous Wastes Rules were notified in 1989. In 1997, the Supreme Court ordered state pollution control boards across the country to show cause as to why industries without requisite authorisation or waste treatment facilities should not be closed down. Kerala State Pollution Control Board never bothered to pay attention to the Supreme Court’s rulings and observations. The committee ordered to close down the factories which do not abide by laws. At least 100 factories would have to close down in this industrial estate. The state pleaded for time to make the factories set up adequate facilities. The monitoring committee also set up a Local Area Environment Committee (LAEC) for auditing pollution and monitoring the functioning of these 100 companies. Some of the companies sincerely tried to reduce the pollution level by setting up new facilities. LAEC was vigilant. At that time there were obvious changes in the pollution level. But many of the companies which started functioning in a better way have fallen back to their old system of discharging raw effluent directly to the river.

Why?

The main reason is inefficiency of the pollution control board. The Board is corrupt from top to bottom. It is not monitoring anything. It is not transparent and people-friendly. Besides, the board is not capable of giving suggestions and guidelines to the industries on how to reduce the pollution level. When it comes to the application of science and technology, the board is years behind. Also, there is always tremendous political pressure to turn a blind eye towards pollution. To reduce pollution we need to know the mass balance which gives you the exact picture on raw materials and amount of water used, production capacity, actual production and quantity of wastes, solid and liquid, and pollution level. In the past 40 years, mass balance has been determined for not even a single company. Then how can the pollution level be reduced?

What does the state government say about reducing pollution?

It is not interested in solving the pollution issues. In 2000, we had raised a demand for a permanent river monitoring station for assessing the pollutions levels. The state government promised us that it would set up the station within six months. Nothing has happened as yet.

Let us come back to the investigations against you. You say CMRL is behind the false charges against you. Was there any immediate provocation?

Yes. This company produces synthetic rutile. The byproducts are ferric chloride and ferrous chloride. Since ferric chloride can be used in water treatment, the company sells it outside. As for ferrous chloride, the company used to discharge it into the river. This was the reason for Periyar’s change of colour at times. When Local Area Environment Committee objected, it had even transported the effluent to neighbouring Tamil Nadu in tankers and discharged it directly into open fields. We had caught them red-handed while doing this. Three years ago, the company started a project in Sabarimala for treating water using ferrous chloride in a stream highly contaminated by E-coli. We objected to it. First, adding chemicals directly into the river or stream is against the law. More than that, the company was using ferrous chloride contaminated with heavy metals. We constituted a fact-finding team. The team found that the project was a failure. The company was using this project for publicity in media. Finally, it had to wind up the project.

You said it was the complaint given by the standing council of trade unions that led to the ongoing investigations. Does it mean that there is a huge divide within the community between factory workers and those who fight for safe environment?

We have never demanded closure of the industries. Our demand is that industries should abide by the law and stop destroying ecosystems. Workers and trade union leaders who hail from Eloor-Edayar area give us moral support. They know what we stand for. They are very well aware of the issues. Their families, too, suffer from pollution. But the real problem creators are top level trade union leaders and politicians. They instigate fear among workers about a possible closure of the industries.

Have the polluters paid any compensation?

We had demanded medical insurance cards for the residents for up to Rs 1,00,000. In the last two years of the previous government we got medical cards which allowed treatment up to Rs 35,000. Companies bore the expenses. But when the present government came to power in 2011, it stopped this scheme.

Why are only residents of Eloor-Edayar region fighting against the pollution? Residents, hotels and hospitals of the Ernakulam (Cochin) city also use the Periyar water though they get treated water. Why are they not bothered about the pollution? Why don’t they join the struggle?

We have tried our best to make them take up the issue. We have met all the residents’ associations in the city and requested them to join the struggle. But they keep away and prefer silence. There are about 280 factories and influential industrialists, politicians who get money from these industries, and there are many other interest groups. Leave city people, even organisations like Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad, which is supposed to be a people’s science movement, has not taken up this issue as it should have.

Why have they targetted only you?

Not only me. They target all those who actively work against pollution. The goons of the companies will do anything. They may even kill you. Recently, Shibu Manuel, who has filed a public interest litigation in the high court for scientific cleaning of the Kuzhikkandam stream was attacked by the goons of the companies. They broke his legs and arms. He suffered serious injuries. He was actively pursuing the case. It can happen to me too. I constantly get threats on my life. The police have cautioned me to take care not to move alone. So the message is very clear: Stop your activism or be ready to die. The industry-politician nexus is trying to eliminate us.

Does all this affect your morale?

Yes, very much. It is really painful to face allegations and investigations after years of fighting for a cause. Everywhere in our country, those who engage in grassroots struggles face similar situations. At times, I have the urge to live a quiet and peaceful life. The cases and courts consume your time, energy and money. All this would divert our attention from the main issues. That’s exactly what the industry-politician nexus wants.

Interviewee:
Purushan Eloor

 

Letter to President of India- Protect Rights of Indigenous People or Shoot all of them


Jharkhand Human Rights Movement
C/o-Mr. Suleman Odeya, Near Don Bosci ITC Gate, Khorha Toli, Kokar, Ranchi -834001. 0651-3242752 Email: jhrmindia@gmail.com

Ref: JHRM/PI/2013/01 Date: 01/05/2013

To,
His Excellency,
Sri Pranab Mukherjee,
President of India,
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi – 110004
India.

Sub: Requesting to protect the rights of the Scheduled Tribes (Indigenous People of India) or to shoot all of them at once rather than excluding, discriminating, exploiting, torturing and making them landless, resourceless and beggars by alienating them from the natural and livelihood resources in the name of growth and development.

Dear Sir,

1. It is extremely painful to state that I come from an Adivasi (tribal) family, who was displaced by an irrigation project without rehabilitation in 1980 and my parents were brutally murdered in 1990. However, I was managed to survive. On 30th April, 2013, you have inaugurated a power project of the Jindal Steel & Power Ltd at Sundarpahari comes under Godda district of Jharkhand. However, it seems that the tribal people were not allowed to put their concerns in front of you. The tribal people of 11 villages had gathered near Sundarpahari to raise their voices against the power project as some of them had already been displaced during the construction of ‘Sundar Dam’ and now they’ll again be displaced by the Jindal’s power project. However, these tribals were detained in Sundarpahari police station instead of hearing their plea. The question here is do they have right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution? The police have regularly been coercing the tribals who don’t want to surrender their land to the Jindal Company. According to the Santal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949, the land is non-transferable and non-saleable, whether owned by tribals or non-tribals. But how the tribals land is being bought by the Jindal Company? Is the Jindal Company allowed to violet the rule of law?

2. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India through a writ petition (CIVIL) NO. 180 OF 2011 (Orissa Mining Corporation Vs Ministry of Environment & Forest & Others) has said that the Section 4(d) of the PESA Act 1996 says that every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions, customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and community mode of dispute resolution. Therefore, Grama Sabha functioning under the Forest Rights Act read with Section 4(d) of PESA Act has an obligation to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the STs and other forest dwellers, their cultural identity, community resources. The Court has ordered the State Government to settle the matter with the Gram Sabha. But is the case of Jindal Company, where is the role of Gram Sabha? Why it has been undermined or put aside? Why did PESA Act 1996 not enforced in this case? Is it because the head of the Jindal Steel & Power Limited is one of the powerful leaders of the Congress Party?

3. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has also said through a writ petition (CIVIL) NO. 180 OF 2011 (Orissa Mining Corporation Vs Ministry of Environment & Forest & Others) that the Scheduled Tribes have the Religious freedom guaranteed under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution. It guarantees them the right to practice and propagate not only matters of faith or belief, but all those rituals and observations which are regarded as integral part of their religion. The Court has ordered to protect and preserve the tribals’ deity. However, in last 65 years of Indian democracy, thousands and thousands of sacred groves, religions places and graveyards of tribals were either submerged in Dams or destroyed in the name of development. These are several sacred groves and religions places of the tribal would be destroyed by the power project of the Jindal Company. However, the question is do the tribals really have the freedom of religion as the Apex Court has stated? Why is Government not upholding the rule of law?

4. The tribal people have already lost more than 23 lakh acres of land in Jharkhand in two ways – i) The major part of tribals’ land were taken away from them in the name of growth and development and ii) the non-tribals who came into the 5th Scheduled Area of Jharkhand for jobs also grabbed a huge portion of the tribal land illegally after earning huge money from the development projects and mining. Though the Article 19 (d) & (e) allows the all citizens to move freely throughout the territory of India and to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India but sub-clause (5) also emphasizes that the state can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub-clauses (d & e) for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe. However, nothing has been done in this regard to protect the tribal people. Consequently, the population of the non-tribals is multiplying in the Scheduled areas and the tribal population is rapidly declining.

5. The Jharkhand Government has signed more than 100 MoUs with National and multi-National companies, who are grabbing the trabals land illegally and the government is facilitating it instead of protection the land rights of tribals. The Jharkhand Government has also proposed for two industrial corridors under the Jharkhand Industrial policy 2012. According to JIP-14 (a) State Govt. will initiate necessary steps to promote / develop two industrial corridors, namely Koderma – Bahragora and Ranchi-Patratu- Ramgarh Road, where the efforts will be made to develop the corridor with 25 KM each side of 4 laning, which means, major part of the land will be handed over to the corporate houses. If that happens then where will the tribal people go? Do they have right to a dignified life?

6. On 5 January, 2011, the Apex Court of India while hearing on an appeal (the special leave petition (Cr) No. 10367 of 2010 Kailas & others Vs State of Maharashtra) said that the tribal people (Scheduled Tribes or Adivasis), the Indigenous People of India but they were slaughtered in large numbers, and the survivors and their descendants were degraded, humiliated, and all kinds of atrocities inflicted on them for centuries. They were deprived of their lands, and pushed into forests and hills where they eke out a miserable existence of poverty, illiteracy, disease, etc. And now efforts are being made by some people to deprive them even of their forest and hill land where they are living, and the forest produce on which they survive. Despite this horrible oppression on them, the tribals of India have generally (though not invariably) retained a higher level of ethics than the non-tribals in our country. They normally do not cheat, tell lies, and do other misdeeds which many non-tribals do. They are generally superior in character to the non-tribals. The Apex Court said that it is time now to undo the historical injustice to them. However, the Indian Government has done nothing to protect them. Instead, it has been facilitating in corporate land grab of the Adivasis (tribals or Indigenous People) of India.

Since, you are the custodian of the tribal people of India, therefore, I demand for following actions:
1. To order for investigation on detention of tribals and land grab by the Jindal Steel & Power Limited in Sundar Pahari and also cancel the Jindal’s power project as it is a severe threat to the existence of the tribal people especially the Primitive tribes (Paharia) of Sundar Pahari.
2. To investigate and cancel all the MoUs signed since 2000 without consent of the Gram Sabha under PESA Act 1996 and also order for withdrawal of the Industrial Police 2012 and order the state administration to return the illegally acquired land of the tribals by the corporate houses.
3. To order for a judicial inquiry in all the cases of illegal land grabbed by the non-Adivasis in the Scheduled areas.
4. To order to stop the corporate to buy land by themselves and order the Government to acquire land under the Santal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949 and Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908 for development projects with the consent of the Gram Sabha under PESA Act 1996.
5. To order the Government to enforce the rule of law i.e. Constitutional provisions, 5th Schedule Area, PESA Act 1996, CNT Act 1908, SPT Act 1949, the Forest Rights Act 2006, etc.

Indeed, it’s necessary to take the above said steps to protect the constitutional, legal and traditional rights of the tribal people. However, if you are unable to protect us, I would humbly request you to gather all the tribal people at a place and shoot them so that you’ll get rid of us and could build this nation on the graveyards of the tribal as per your dream.

The architect of the Modern India Pt. Jwaharlal Nehru’s Temples of Modern India has turned into graveyards of the tribals (Indigenous People of India). Therefore, in the next time whenever and wherever you inaugurate such development project proposed on the tribals’ land, please remembers that you are building this nation on the graveyards of the Indigenous People of India.

I believe you understand my pain, anguish and sorrow. I hope to hear your positive response. I shall be highly obliged to you for the same.

Thanking you.

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

 

Gujarat- The Great Land Grab


May 17, 2013 Cover Story, Frontline

Show Caption

1 / 5

StartStop
  • Mango farmers at a protest meeting at Mithivirdi village, Bhavnagar, Gujarat on May 25, 2011.
  • Farmers at work and, in the background, the Sosiya-Alang ship-breaking yard, near Mithivirdi village.
  • A farmer checks the bumper yield of onions near the proposed Nirma cement plant project at Mahuva on March 3.
  • A boy grazes his cattle near the Tata Nano car plant in Sanand.
  • Building a road near a proposed car plant in Sanand. A file photograph.

The Gujarat “development” model depends on acquiring, often forcibly, huge tracts of land and making them available at below market prices to industries, destroying village economy and fraternity. By AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA in Gujarat

Shakti Singh, the sarpanch of Jaspara village in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, is an affluent farmer. On an ordinary day, he spends most of his time shuttling between Bhavnagar town and the 10 hectares of mango gardens owned by his family, sorting out the logistics of selling his farm produce for the best price. Storing the mangoes, employing people to work on his fields, dealing with traders and middlemen, and promoting and modernising agriculture in his area are some of the tasks that consume most of his time. The best-quality Kesar, the local mango variety of this region, is all exported to the United States and Russia and other European countries. At the end of the year he makes around Rs.8 lakh from his mangoes. Those who work on his fields on contract earn about Rs.3 lakh annually. The sale of vegetables, cashew nuts and coconuts through the year helps Shakti Singh and his workers make some extra money without too much investment or work.

However, in the last few months, Shakti Singh has been busy preparing court papers and holding public meetings. The proposed nuclear plant in the area would not only eat up most of his farms but would rid the entire region of its affluence. Known as the Mithivirdi Nuclear Energy Project, it will be the biggest nuclear plant in the country with a proposed capacity of 6,000 MW at an initial projected cost of Rs.64,000 crore. However, if the project goes through, it will directly affect 15,000 people in 24 villages. More than 1.5 lakh people in 152 villages in the region will be indirectly affected owing to the plant’s possible environmental hazards. Farmers in this area will lose their lands and a large number of landless labourers will lose their employment.

The entire economy of the area depends on farming. Everyone is involved in some process or the other relating to mango and coconut farming. And it is for this reason that Shakti Singh is not alone in the struggle to retain agricultural lands. At least 5,000 people from the villages in the vicinity have been part of the struggle ever since the project was announced in 2010. The public hearing on March 5, 2012, saw a massive turnout by villagers wearing black bands on their heads, but they were denied a chance to speak against the project.

While the nuclear plant itself is a Central project funded by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, the responsibility for land acquisition, environmental clearances and other bureaucratic procedures lies with the Narendra Modi-led State government. Activists and residents of the village claim that the mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report prepared for the project has not been made public despite repeated requests. The Gujarat government has stated that the area is safe for a nuclear project and that the land needed for the project is classified as “wasteland” as it falls along the coastline of the Gulf of Khambhat, rendering it too saline for agriculture.

Fertile belt

However, contrary to the State government’s claims, the area is one of the most fertile ones in Gujarat. Most of the land along the coastline of Gujarat is protected by limestone walls that absorb the salt from the sea water and release pure and sweet water in the adjoining areas for up to 50 kilometres. This phenomenon makes the land along the coastline so fertile that the farmers of the area could go for intensive cropping three times a year. The government has always ignored such facts.

It is because of such wilful ignorance that the second-biggest ship-breaking yard in the world, the hazardous impact of which is fairly well-known, was developed only two kilometres from Jaspara and Mithivirdi. This correspondent noticed black and brown sea water throughout the Jaspara coast as a result of the ship-breaking that was done over the last 40 years.

Shakti Singh and other villagers foresee a complete collapse of the region’s ecosystem and that is why the movement against the nuclear project and land acquisition has been intense. However, the Gujarat government in the last 15 years has not only ignored such demands from the people, but also actively assisted corporate giants in destroying ecosystems in the name of “industrial growth”. The special economic zone (SEZ) at Mundra in the Rann of Kutch, developed by the Adani group, is an example of how bureaucratic processes can be manipulated to suit corporate interests.

The Mundra SEZ, spread over 10,000 hectares, being developed as a port and a special trading zone, has already displaced 56 fishing villages and 126 settlements. Not only have the fishermen lost their customary rights as a result of this development, but the farming villages in the area have also been stripped off their livelihood. Against the regulations of the Forest Rights Act, 2,008.41 hectares of forest land was cleared to set up a salt washery and a desalination plant. The Gujarat government did not respond to the protests of the local people and maintained that the land given to the Adani group was “wasteland”. Today, the fishermen fear that when the port becomes fully functional soon, they will not be given any access to the sea.

Based on complaints from the people of the area, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests set up a committee to inquire into possible environmental and livelihood violations. The committee report that came out in April 2013 listed several instances of non-compliance with procedures. It found that the public hearing was bypassed and construction activities had not only polluted the sea but destroyed 75 hectares of mangrove forests on which a large number of families depended. More than the farmers, the Dalits and Muslims who earned their livelihood by making coal from the region’s scrub forests have lost their source of income. Over 560 hectares of land in 14 villages has already been acquired, endangering the livelihoods of fishermen, agriculturists, horticulturists and livestock rearers.

According to a report prepared jointly by the Ahmedabad-based non-governmental organisations—the Behavioural Science Centre, the People in Centre and the Paryavaran Mitra—the Adani group was given over 5 crore square metres of land along the coast at paltry rates ranging from Re.1 to Rs.32 a square metre when the market rate was over Rs.1,500 a square metre. The Adani group got the land for industrial use and port development, but it sold/leased out a significant portion of it to other corporate groups, flouting norms. Leasing out or selling such acquired land is illegal according to the purchase deed.

Mundra and Bhavnagar are not the only cases in point. Gujarat under Modi has done the maximum amount of land acquisition for industrial use and Modi has successfully projected the process as a “win-win situation” for both the farmers and the industries and has tried to project it as the ideal model for land acquisition. The State government’s propaganda is based on three factors. One, the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) already has enough land to spare, which is why a large “land bank” already exists; two, the Modi government has been compensating farmers at the existing high market rates; and three, the industrial development has been taking place on arid land along the coastline, which, anyway, was not of much use.

The third factor, as can be seen from empirical evidence, is a brazen lie to suit corporate interests and is fraught with many inconsistencies. The first, about a land bank, is partially true. The GIDC acquired land in the 1980s for two purposes. It was supposed to give some of the reserve land to the landless so that they could earn their livelihood, and its primary function was to promote small- and medium-scale industries. Out of the 262 industrial estates under the GIDC, 182 are functional and most of these have been given to big corporate groups instead of empowering cooperative units in villages. Allocating land to the landless still remains a dream. Narendra Modi has used the GIDC primarily to facilitate the entry of big industrial projects. For example, the Tata Nano project, when it was ousted from West Bengal, set its base in Sanand near Ahmedabad on Modi’s invitation. The 440 ha of land that it got from the Gujarat government was part of the GIDC pool that carried out agricultural research. Since the Tata group demanded 960 ha, the GIDC acquired land in seven surrounding villages. Questions were raised when the GIDC blatantly brokered deals for the Tata group. During Modi’s regime, the GIDC has continued to acquire more land throughout Gujarat for industrial purposes. Sanand is set to become an automobile hub. Following the Tatas, the Ford group has already established a unit and Maruti has also expressed an interest, owing to continuing workers’ unrest at its plant in Manesar, Haryana.

Many farmers complain that the GIDC bought land from them in the 1980s for “public” purposes and it was not supposed to sell it to industrial groups. Since it is now selling these plots to industrial groups at current market rates to earn huge profits, the farmers feel cheated. Legally, the GIDC should have returned the acquired land within five years to the farmers if it was unsuccessful in developing these areas.

Half truths

Moreover, Modi’s claim of “good compensation” is only a half-truth. While in areas like Sanand his government acquired land at market prices, areas such as Kutch and Saurashtra have seen worse forms of forcible acquisition. Gautam Thaker of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties told Frontline: “His land acquisition policies shift according to the awareness levels of the villagers. In villages near the cities, where real estate prices have shot up, Modi was bound to give the farmers a good deal. But he has used force along with ‘emergency powers’ of the government to acquire land in the hinterland and in coastal regions to develop big industrial zones.”

Most civil rights and environmental groups told Frontline that the Modi government had flouted all norms and procedures to give extraordinary facilities to big industrial groups and most of this had happened at the cost of livelihoods to an unprecedented number of people. The Nirma SEZ in Mahua is one such example. Nirma was allotted 268 hectares to set up a cement plant, besides a mining lease on more than 3,000 hectares in areas across the coastline in Bhavnagar district. Nirma’s logic was simple. It would break the limestone walls to manufacture cement and, without any additional transportation cost, would ship its goods through the port it would develop eventually. The Modi government classified the acquired land as “wasteland” and deprived over 15,000 people of their livelihoods. “Mahua is the second biggest onion-producing area in India after Nashik in Maharashtra. Together with production and processing at many dehydration and pesticide plants, onion gave employment to at least 15,000 people. The Modi government marketed the Nirma cement plant, saying that it would give employment to 416 people, which would mostly be unskilled labour. Can the loss of the whole economy of the area be compensated with the so-called Gujarat development model that Modi brags about?” asks Sagar Rabari of the Gujarat Lok Samiti, an organisation working for land reforms and land rights of the people.

In the revenue records that predate Indian independence, land is generally categorised as “private”, “grazing”, and “waste”. Private land is further divided into old and new tenures. While the old-tenure land can be sold, new-tenure land is strictly “agricultural” in use and cannot be sold. Grazing land for village animals, or Gauchar, is the only source of livelihood for pastoralists, a significant proportion of the village population in Gujarat. It belongs to the gram sabha and cannot be sold unless the government can show “inevitability”. Even in this case, the government can acquire the Gauchar by paying 30 per cent more than the market price. Wasteland is classified into culturable and non-culturable. These belong to the State government, which can only sell non-culturable wasteland in cases where a “public purpose” can be established.

In the last 15 years, the Gujarat government has acquired all these land by bureaucratic manipulations, as government documents reveal. In cases like the Dahej SEZ or Sanand, new-tenure land was converted into old-tenure land in government documents without any substantiation about whether it was acquired or bought. The benefits of an already half-hearted and incomplete land reforms in the State were also, thus, reversed. A major portion of the land acquired was Gauchar land without the permission of the gram sabha and the panchayat. In most cases, like the Mundra port, market prices were significantly lowered as the government has to pay 30 per cent over the market price.

In the defence institute project at Dahegam near Ahmedabad, 95 hectares of acquired Gauchar land was shown as “Padtar” (wasteland) in government documents. In some places in Kutch, Gauchar land was acquired, giving the reason that there were not enough cattle in the village. In other areas where the government acquired “wasteland”’ it was classified as “non-culturable” even while the villagers were using it for various purposes.

Government-industry nexus

In other instances, where companies had to necessarily buy the land directly, the Gujarat government facilitated the process through questionable methods. In Jamnagar, when Reliance was buying land to set up its oil refinery, 17 residents refused to sell their land. The government intervened to acquire their land by invoking the land acquisition Act in the name of “public purpose”. Rabari said: “When they refused to take any compensation and continued to protest, the government deposited their compensation in the State treasury and informed them that they could take it anytime they wanted. Until that time, the money would accumulate interest. In many places, brutal police force was used to stop people from resisting.” While such instances of land acquisition speak of a corrupt system, they point to a larger nexus between the government and the industry where the government is brokering land deals for the industry on the pretext of “development” and “public purpose”. Such a nexus was institutionalised by the Modi government when, in 2003, it announced a new industrial policy without any public consultation. The new industrial policy makes it easier for the government to change the classification of land so that it can be acquired, and also gives unprecedented authority to the District Collector to invoke emergency powers.

In such a state of affairs, many land rights activists point out that during Modi’s rule, Gujarat has seen “land grabbing” more than land acquisition. Mahesh Pandya, an environmentalist, gave some figures to Frontline. “More than 51 SEZs were approved during Modi’s regime, out of which 20 are in the final stage. Ten companies have withdrawn but the acquired lands are still with them. If we see only those SEZ proposals that got approved in the last two years, 13 SEZs would need 10,263 hectares of land, and seven others that are waiting for formal approvals would need another 7,522 hectares. A total of 20,587 hectares of land will be needed just to develop all the SEZs. More land will be acquired under various names such as Special Investment Region or industrial hubs and so on,” he said.

Prasad Matthew Chacko of the Behavioural Science Centre said: “The corporate groups have got much more land than they actually require. And it seems only a few companies are the biggest beneficiaries of this policy. Reliance, Adani, L&T and Essar are just some of them.” Chacko’s comment is not off the mark. To cite just one example, the government acquired land for the Reliance oil refinery at Jamnagar, but the latter openly advertises about its agro-businesses and corporate farming within that area without an initial permission to conduct such businesses at the time of acquisition.

Biggest casualty

The biggest casualty of Modi’s development model has been the village economy and the fraternity induced by mutual economic dependence. Owing to inadequate implementation of land reforms, upper castes like Darbars (Rajputs) and Patels in Gujarat own the majority of the agricultural land. Because of the growing pressure on land, even the upper castes have been losing most of their resources and assets. The landless, mostly Dalits, pastoralists like Rawals and Rabaris and Muslims, are in the most vulnerable position as the shrinking resources of the upper castes have meant severe exploitation of these communities. Gauchar land is important for raising livestock and in its absence pastoralists rely hugely on upper-caste benevolence to let them use their lands for cattle-rearing and become more dependent on them. Lack of resources and sustainable livelihoods has increased social malpractices like dowry and female foeticide. Illiteracy, unemployment and malnourishment have touched an all-time high in the last 15 years. The minimum wages of agricultural labourers have come down as they depend solely on upper-caste mercy in the absence of any social intervention on the part of the government, which in turn is fully dependent on the support of the dominant castes. The scrub forests of Gauchar and Padtar (wastelands) were also the local source of cooking fuel for the villages.

Tensions have also surfaced between the local populations, who have been rendered unemployed by the land acquisition, and immigrant labour, who are employed by the industries at low cost. Crime levels have significantly increased in the last 15 years. Activists say that it is happening because of the rising levels of unemployment, particularly in areas that have faced the brunt of rapid industrialisation without proper rehabilitation.

The environmental hazards of such rapid industrialisation have been many. Destruction of natural habitats like the mangroves in Mundra port and diversion of forest land for industries have had their impact on the village economy. Since the Gujarat government has been so welcoming of industries, they have only preferred areas that have good amounts of water and electricity (invariably the most fertile regions) to set up their plants.

Growing industrialisation in the last 10 years has meant that farmers are given less electricity (down from 10 hours a day to only six hours a day, sometimes only in the night, according to this correspondent’s investigation) and the irrigation projects have been unceremoniously stopped. Modi has rechanneled the Narmada’s water through canals in many villages, but most of this water is being used by industries.

For example, the Padra area near Vadodara had an effluent channel project (ECP), which discharged the treated waste of Vadodara city. However, the chemical-industrial hub that has developed in the last 10 years as a result of a flowing Narmada canal in the vicinity started discharging its untreated waste through the ECP into the Mahi river. “The industries draw water from the Narmada canal and discharge it into the Mahi. There is no cost involved in pipelines or treatment plants, since both the channels run parallel to each other at a very short distance. None of these new industrial plants, in Padra or anywhere in Gujarat, meets the Gujarat Pollution Control Board’s [GPCB] norms. Yet they have a free hand. As a result, most of the rivers in the State are heavily polluted,” said Rohit Prajapati, an environmentalist based in Vadodara.

Three cities of Gujarat, Vapi, Ankaleshwar and Vatva, figure in the Central Pollution Control Board’s list of the top 10 most polluted cities in India, with Vapi ranking first. The State government has failed to act even when environmental norms are blatantly flouted. The private ports and SEZs in the coastal regions are examples of open violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone’s norms. Preference to extractive industries like limestone, lignite and bauxite along the coast of Saurashtra has taken a huge toll on the ecosystem. Unofficial estimates say that about 600 villages will abandon agriculture in the next five years as a result of such industrial growth.

While Modi claims that the Gujarat model is empowering and encouraging entrepreneurship, the land acquisitions, both by the government and companies, indicate otherwise. Successful entrepreneurs have consistently lost their livelihoods in the last 15 years. The obsession with promoting industries, even at the cost of local economies and ecological sustainability, barely makes for a development model and only points to the structural nexus between the Modi government, corporate giants, and real estate honchos. An eroding village fraternity has helped the government in polarising votes in the last 10 years and, as activists say, the Gujarat development model is definitely a win-win situation for Hindutva propagandists like Narendra Damodar Modi.

 

Previous Older Entries

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,235 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,753,331 hits

Archives

%d bloggers like this: