- #India – More mines, fewer schools in former Maoist stronghold (kractivist.wordpress.com)
Bridge the Gap , Bring the Change
30 Jun 2013 1 Comment
in Advocacy, Announcements, Disability, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Political Prisoners, Press Release, Prison Tags: Business, Human Rights, India, Jharkhand, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd, Noamundi, Saranda, Saranda Forest, Steel, TATA STEEL
30 Jun 2013 Leave a comment
Flood waters have entered Kaziranga National Park forcing animals to take shelter on highlands and Park authorities are on alert to protect the wildlife from deluge and poachers.
The flood waters have entered Burapahar and Bagori ranges of the world heritage site in upper Assam forcing the animals there to take shelter on high platforms built for them, the park sources said.
Some of them were also moving towards the highlands in neighbouring Karbi Anglong district, the sources said.
Altogether 125 boats have been kept ready, they said, adding some of them have already been pressed into service for patrolling.
Besides, 45 domesticated elephants of the forest department and neighbouring areas will be used for the purpose.
Special measures to prevent poaching had also been taken with the personnel in the 150 anti-poaching camps on alert.
The elite Assam Forest Protection Force commandos deployed in the Park have been put on round-the-clock patrolling duty along with forest officers, forest guards and home guards.
Poachers attempt to take advantage of the floods to attack the displaced animals or those coming out of the Park looking for shelter on the highlands, the sources said.
Sign boards have also been put up on NH 37 along the Park for vehicles to control their speed in the area to prevent hitting wild animals crossing over to Karbi Anglong hills across the road, they said.
KNP, the 430 sq km habitat of the one-horn Great Indian Rhinoceros and variety of other fauna and flora, had experienced the worst floods last year when over 500 hog deer and variety of wild animals, including one-horned rhinos, were killed.
Meanwhile, Assam government has directed all the 27 districts to take flood management measures and put in place the emergency response system in view of the rise in the water level of Brahmaputra and its tributaries in Dhemaji, Golaghat, Jorhat, Kamrup, Karimganj, Lakhimpur and Tinsukia districts, the sources added
30 Jun 2013 1 Comment
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tags: Gujarat, Kumari Selja, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Narmada River, New Delhi, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Sarovar Dam
Challenge drowning of 2 lakh population in the Narmada Valley
We are writing to you amidst a situation of extreme urgency. The two lakh population of adivasis, farmers, fish workers, potters etc. in the Narmada valley – in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat in the 245 villages require your immediate support to save their lives and livelihoods.
Reportedly, the state governments have submitted reports of ‘complete rehabilitation’ to the R&R Sub Group of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and the NCA is to take a final decision on the 2nd of July at Indore, regarding permission to raise the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from the present 122 mts to final height of 138 mts.
Thousands are yet to get land, thousands more alternative livelihood, fishing rights, house plots at R&R sites and other amenities and entitlements. Corruption worth, 1,000 crores is under judicial investigation. Major environmental non-compliance has been exposed by MoEF’s expert committees’. In such a situation, drowning the 2 lakh population in the living village communities would be a human massacre, worse than the painful Uttarakhand disaster.
Please intervene to stop the political conspiracy to complete the dam by violating all laws and judicial dicta, when only 10% of its claimed benefits have been realized and the financial, social and environmental costs have increased ten-fold. Please find enclosed our press release, which describes the situation in detail.Please do immediately write to the PM, Water Resources and Social Justice Minister and others to act by law.
With sincere regards,
Medha Patkar (09423965153) Mukesh Bhagoria (09826811982)
Meera (09179148973) Kailash Awasya (09009147868)
|Shri Manmohan Singh,
Government of India
South Block, Raisina Hills,
New Delhi 110 101
Fax: 011-23019545, 23016857
Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment,
Government of India
Shastri Bhawan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Marg, New Delhi
Ministry of Water Resources,
Sharam Shakti Bhawan
Office: 11-23714200 , 11-23714663 and 11-23711780
Fax: 11-23710804 (O) and 11-23793184 ( R)
President, United Progressive Alliance
Fax: 011-23794616 / 23014481
Shri Afroz Ahmed
(Rehabilitation and Impact Assessment),
Narmada Control Authority,
Narmada Sadan, Vijay Nagar, Indore.
email@example.comShri Sudhir Bhargav,
Chairman, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Sub Group (SSP) and
Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
Government of India
Shastri Bhawan, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Marg,New Delhi
Ph: 011- 23389184 ; Fax:011-23385180
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ,
Chief Minister, Maharashtra
Dr. Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam
Minister for Forests, Rehabilitation and Relief Works, Earthquake Rehabilitation,
Office Ph: 91 22 22025398 and +91 22 22024751
Residence Ph: +91 22 23635688 and +91 22 23632748
Mantralaya, Mumbai.Shri Milind Mhaiskar, IAS
Secretary, Relief Commissioner,
Relief & Rehabilitation
National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office : 6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316
Web : www.napm-india.org
This mailing list is for dissemination of news and views on the communities struggles in India defending their land, water, air, rivers from hungry predatory corporations, policy formulations, announcements on struggles, action alerts and request for support.
30 Jun 2013 5 Comments
They have conquered the highest peaks in the world and maneuvered dangerous gorges, endured heavy snowfall and lack of oxygen. But all that pales in comparison to what they are doing now — helping thousands of stranded, starved and ill villagers of Uttarkashi with food and essential supplies in areas so remote that even the army jawans have failed to make their way to these places.
Mountaineers Bachendri Pal, Premlata Agarwal and their group managed to reach stranded villagers at Bidsari, Pilang, Jadau and some other places in Uttarakhand. Pics Courtesy/Anusha Subramanian and Guneet Puri
A small group of ace climbers, led by two women who have conquered Mt Everest, arrived in Uttarkashi last week from all over India to help rescue operations in the flood-ravaged state. Till Saturday evening they had managed to climb up to six ‘unreachable’ villages around Maneri, where over 400 people are without home, food, water and medicine since June 16. On the way, they have also rescued, and guided dozens of dehydrated tourists, ordered to trek over 50 kilometres by jawans who were told to rescue women, children and the elderly first.
Mountaineers Bachendri Pal, Premlata Agarwal
The group has now sought help from the Tata Relief Trust and several other NGOs to airdrop life-saving materials such as food, medicines, candles, matchboxes, blankets and tents, to these villagers. They are being led by the legendary Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to conquer Mt Everest and Premlata Agarwal the first Indian woman to conquer the highest peaks of all seven continents. Others in the team include journalist and mountaineer Anusha Subramanian, and a team of climbers including Guneet Puri, Yashwant Panwar and Jay Panwar, who were all part of the Mt Thelu expedition.
People wait to be airlifted at Harsil on June 21. Pic Courtesy/Guneet Puri
Hanging on to life
“We have managed to reach stranded villagers at Didsari, Pilang, Jadau and a couple of other places. Most people here are without power, water or a roof over their head. The government has just airdropped packets of biscuits for them to eat. Many of them are suffering from diarrhoea since they are not used to such food. We are trying to help them with food, medicines and some form of shelter,” says Anusha Subramanian, a Mumbai-based journalist and a trained mountaineer who rushed to Uttarkashi after receiving a call from her friends. Subramanian who trained at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering reached Uttarkashi soon.
Many locals in the region are without food, water and their homes. Pic Courtesy/Anusha Subramanian
While Everest conquerer Bachendri Pal, who heads the Tata Adventure Foundation, arrived in Uttarkashi as part of the Tata Relief Trust (TRF) team to spearhead relief operations, she was joined by her friend Premlata Agarwal who holds the twin distinction of being the oldest Indian woman to climb Everest and the first Indian woman to scale the tallest peaks in all seven continents. Subramanian who has several high-altitude treks to her credit, also flew down from Mumbai while mountaineers Puri, Panwar and Tanwar arrived from snow-capped peaks in the upper Himalayas.
A mudslide that ravaged parts of Dharali town. Pic Courtesy/Guneet Puri
Trekking every day for relief operations
According to Subramanian who spoke to SUNDAY MiD Day whenever she and her team were in a zone with mobile connectivity, they have been trekking to different villages every day, taking small supplies of food and medication, as they await choppers from the TRF to arrive with tents, foodgrain, candles and other supplies.
(L-R) Premlata Agarwal, Bachendri Pal, Guneet Puri and Anusha Subramanian along with other members of the group.
“Uttarkashi seems like a ghost town, so different from what I have experienced in the past. The tragedy has many ramifications for locals, the most important being loss of livelihood. Yesterday, we, along with some employees of the NGO Sri Bhuvaneshwari Mahila Ashram (SBMA) and the TRF team, went to assess the situation in the upper reaches of Maneri. These villages have lost their homes and their land,” she said.
A rapid assessment by SBMA shows that Uttarkashi has 120 villages, which have been completely destroyed. There are no roads to connect them to mainland, no electricity and above all no ration to cook food. “This is the third monsoon disaster since 2010 in this region. After the first two disasters, the government identified 250 villages as dangerous but did not take action and relocate villagers,” said a member of the SBMA.
The ace mountaineers are now helping adopt six such villages of New Didsari, Didsari, Pilang, Jadaou, Bayana and Shyaba and provide relief to approximately 400 families. “Bachendri Pal is originally from Uttarakhand. She has personally surveyed some of these villages and along with all of us she is ensuring that relief reaches each and every villager,” says Subramanian.
The team recalled how they were shocked to see the condition at New Didsari, one of the villages they reached. “It has 55 families who have been displaced from their homes and lost everything they had. No medical aid has reached these villages yet. The villagers are sad, disappointed and angry. The bridge that connects their village with the world, has been washed away,” recalled Guneet Puri, who reached Uttarkashi on June 20 after a month in the upper Himalayas attempting to scale a 20,000 feet peak. The other villages, explains Pal, are even more remote. The only way to get to these villagers is through treacherous mountainous routes. Even a helicopter cannot land here and airdropping is the only option after all roads were destroyed. But these bravehearts are not giving up. They are staying put, till the villagers are back on their feet. At a time, when politicians are busy gaining political mileage from this human tragedy, heroes like these men and women are keeping the nation’s flag flying proudly.
‘We met people on the verge of death’
Guneet Puri is yet to come to terms with what has been the biggest mountaineering challenge of her life. The ace mountaineer and her teammates were on their way back from Mt Thelu when they encountered the disaster.
We reached Harsil village on June 21. Over 4, 000 people were stranded there. They had all been forced to walk over 50 km since the Army was rescuing children, women and the disabled first. We met people on the verge of exhaustion or death. All of us were carrying between 23 to 30 kilos of equipment with us since we were returning from an expedition. But when we saw the plight of these tourists, we happily carried their luggage with us. In the end, we almost carried some of them, too. By the time we reached Gangani, all our toes has blisters. We could hardly walk. But things were about to get worse. From here to Uttarkashi, entire roads had vanished. We helped hundreds of tourists who had no energy to walk, let alone climb the huge boulders. We rushed a woman to the hospital in Maneri after she fainted. These are my people and we have to take care of them. We are doing what we can. But when I look at the magnitude of the disaster, our efforts seem to insignificant. Still, every drop counts.
30 Jun 2013 Leave a comment
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Political Prisoners Tags: Gujarat, Kakrapar Atomic Power Station, KAPS, NPCIL, Nuclear Power Corporation of India, Supreme Court, Ukai Dam, United States
June 25, 2013
by M. V. Ramana
The bulk of development policies, justified in the ‘national interest’, actually diminish poor people’s ability to control and gainfully use natural resources. Every ‘national’ project is presented as beneficial for the masses even though it requires some poor people to surrender their land or their livelihood. While the ‘greater good of the nation’appears to be a laudable cause, it must appear suspicious to the rural poor who are consistently chosen, time and time again, to make all the sacrifices, while those more powerful reap the benefits. – Amita Baviskar, In the Belly of the River
There is a common message emanating from the centers of power in Washington, D.C. and New Delhi: Whistle blowing, or truth telling as the act may be more accurately described, is not a welcome activity. As I write this, officials in the United States are searching all over Hong Kong for Edward Snowden, the high school dropout, who revealed the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programme. Proving its status as a loyal ally of the United States, the United Kingdom warned airlines not to fly Snowden to Britain. In the meanwhile, the trial of Bradley Manning, the most famous truth teller in the United States, started in Maryland, USA.
A much less celebrated truth teller was also in the Courts recently in New Delhi. Once upon a time, Manoj Mishrawas employed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) at its Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS) in Gujarat and was the president of Kakrapar Unit Kendriya Sachivalaya Hindi Parishad. Before describing why this person was at the Supreme Court, a little bit of geography and history might be in order.
Kakrapar was originally considered as a potential site for a nuclear power plant in the 1960s but then rejected. The reason given then was that there was a large population within the exclusion area and the site was close to a major source of water used for drinking and cultivation (For more on the criteria used for reactor siting, see pp. 44-46 of The Power of Promise). In addition to the population, another problem with the Kakrapar site was that it was in a low-lying area, prone to flooding. This was of particular concern because the site was close to the Ukai Dam and it was conceivable that the whole reactor might get flooded.
In 1980, however, the Atomic Energy Commission announced that Kakrapar was to become the fifth nuclear power station and the two reactors there started commercial operations in 1993 and 1995. Of course, neither of the problems originally cited had changed. If anything, the population in the area had only increased, both naturally and because of various construction activities.Though some amount ofearth-fillingwas done to avoid flooding, things didn’t turn out so well.
The outlet from the turbine building of KAPS leads to an artificial lake called Moticher, which has gates to control the flow of water. On 15 and 16 June 1994, there were heavy rains in South Gujarat andthe water level of the lake began to rise. The ducts thatwere meant to let out water ended up becoming conduits for water to come in. And since there were no arrangements either for sealing cable trenches and valve pits, they too allowed water to enter. Water began entering the complex on the night of 15 June and by the next morning, there was water in the turbine building as well as other parts of the reactor complex. The workers inthe morning shift had to swim in chest-high water, and the control room was reportedly inaccessible for some time. Finally, a site emergency was declared and workers were evacuated.
By this time, another problem had become apparent. The gates that could control the flow of water into Moticher had not been well maintained, and so, mud had collected around them and they could not be opened. The KAPS management requested help from the district and state authorities, but that evidently didn’t help either. Fortunately, villagers from the area, who were worried about the security of their own homes, made a breach in the embankment of the lake that allowed the water to drain out. Finally, on 18 June, a large pump was brought to Kakrapar from Tarapur, and the work of removing the water from the turbine building began.
In the meanwhile, much of the equipment in the turbine building was submerged, including the water pumps used to cool the reactor core. Electrical power from the grid failed, and diesel generators had to be used. Fortunately, the reactor had been shutdown following the major fire at the Narora for inspection of turbine blades. The floodwater carried away canisters of radioactive waste, and it is not clear if they were ever recovered or if any of them released its contents into the waters.
This is where Manoj Mishra comes in. NPCIL officials evidently did not bother to inform members of the public about what happened. The way the public got to know anything about the damage at KAPS was because Mishra wrote a letter to Gujarat Samachar about what happened. For this revelation, Mishra was suspended and, after an internal inquiry, removed from service in March 1996. Since then, Mishra has been fighting the nuclear establishment in courts—and losing. This process of fighting in the courts took him to the Gujarat High Court, which, in 2007, dismissed his case. Mishra then appealed to the Supreme Court, and in April of this year, the SC dismissed his appeal. Itsobservations are worth quoting at some length:
“it will be apposite to notice the growing acceptance of the phenomenon of whistleblower.A whistleblower is a person who raises a concern about the wrongdoing occurring in an organisation or body of people. Usually this person would be from that same organisation. The revealed misconduct may beclassified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health/safety violations and corruption. Whistleblowers may make their allegations internally (for example, to other people within the accused organisation) or externally (to regulators, law enforcement agencies, to the media or to groups concerned with the issues)…
“In our view, a person like the respondent can appropriately be described as a whistleblower for the system who has tried to highlight the malfunctioning of an important institution established for dealing with cases involving revenue of the State and there is no reason to silence such a person by invoking Articles 129 or 215 of the Constitution or the provisions of the Act…
“In our opinion, the aforesaid observations are of no avail to the appellant…the appellant is educated only upto 12th standard. He is neither an engineer, nor an expert on the functioning of the Atomic Energy Plants. Apart from being an insider, the appellant did not fulfill the criteria for being granted the status of a whistle blower. One of the basic requirements of a person being accepted as awhistle blower is that his primary motive for the activity should be in furtherance of public good. In other words, the activity has to be undertaken in public interest, exposing illegal activities of a public organization or authority. The conduct of the appellant, in our opinion, does not fall within the high moral and ethical standard that would be required of a bona fide whistle blower.”
There are many questions that we should ask. First, in what way is the education level of Manoj Mishra relevant to deciding if he was a whistle blower, and why should any whistle blower be an expert on whatever it is that he or she is revealing the truth about? If someone reveals that a pharmaceutical company is producing contaminated drugs meant to treat cardiac problems (Such things do happen, see for example), does that person have to be an expert on how pharmaceutical plants operate? Or should he or she be a doctor with many years of experience in treating heart disease? Second, what might have happened if Mishra had actually been an expert in the operation of atomic power plants? Well, we can only speculate. But remember that for Mishra to become an expert, he would necessarily have to have spent several years at the DAE’s training school, during the course of which he would likely not just have learnt about nuclear reactor physics and engineering, but also become indoctrinated to trust authority and support the NPCIL and DAE policies of secrecy unquestioningly. This is a potential reason for the paucity of truth tellers from the upper echelons of the DAE or NPCIL. Or most other hierarchical organizations, for that matter. Third, what exactly is the public interest in this case? It is clear what the interest of NPCIL and DAE would have been—to hide the news that its design and its maintenance were inadequate to protect against even moderately severe floods. But, for the public, it would be just the opposite: to hear about what happened within KAPS during the floods, so they know what risks they faced.
Why then did the Court argue otherwise? Of course, we cannot know for sure. But some clues can be had from the other recent Supreme Court judgment. This decision dismissed a plea seeking to halt the commissioning of the Koodankulam nuclear reactors, under construction in Tamil Nadu, till the implementation of key additional safety measures recommended after the Fukushima accidents of 2011.
As is well known, the massive release of radioactive materials from the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, which has resulted in the contamination of a large swath of area and is now estimated to lead in the long run to something on the order of a thousand cancers, also added to the already strong opposition among people living around Koodankulam. What the Supreme Court decided, in essence, was that these people will now have to put up with such “minor inconveniences”, “minor radiological detriments” and “minor environmental detriments”.
The Court’s opinion is replete with references to the public interest. “While setting up a project of this nature, we have to have an overall view of larger public interest rather than smaller violation of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution”. Elsewhere, “Larger public interest of the community should give way to individual apprehension of violation of human rights and right to life guaranteed under Article 21”. It went on further to say, “Nuclear power plant is being established not to negate right to life but to protect the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution…it will only protect the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution for achieving a larger public interest and will also achieve the object and purpose of Atomic Energy Act”. And so on, and so forth.
What’s important about this decision is that the Judges’ idea of public interest seems to be based largely, if not completely, on testimony offered by various arms of the nuclear establishment. The decision,in essence, neglects the numerous pieces of expert testimony submitted by the petitioners questioning various aspects of the government’s wisdom in building nuclear reactors in general, including at Koodankulam. For this reason, if the Supreme Court decision was meant to help settle the contentious debate over Koodankulam, it has not, and cannot, succeed in this aim. The reliance on expert testimony from within the nuclear establishment demonstrates myopia on a very basic issue – the lack of public trust regarding thenuclear establishment.
But back to the basic point: arguments made by powerful institutions about the public interest often hide a more divisive reality: it is hard, if not impossible, to come up with a clearly defined and widely accepted notion of public interest that can apply to a large range of areas. [See Robert Jensen’s arguments on a related theme, the national interest, albeit in a different context]. More important, even if there might besome common public interest (“clean air”, for example), trying to actually reach that common interest usually involves having those goals be negotiated through power struggles, and the imposition of hardship to one disadvantaged group or the other.
The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek once wrote: “It is indeed true that we live in a society of risky choices, but it is one in which only some do the choosing, while others do the risking.” To this one may add, those who have the power to choose often make choices that are beneficial to them but have become adept at passing off those choices as being in the public interest. Whistle blowers seem to care more for those suffering the consequences, real or potential, than the interests of the powerful elite. We, at least those of us who do not belong to these exclusive elite enclaves of power, owe these whistle blowers a huge debt of gratitude.
[M. V. Ramana is with the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University and the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India (Penguin 2012)]
30 Jun 2013 Leave a comment
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Minority Rights, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tags: Idukki district, Kerala High Court, Kumily, Kurien, P. J. Kurien, Rajya Sabha, session court, Suryanelli
Dharmarajan, in the affidavit, had also said that an old TV interview, in which he claimed Kurien’s involvement in the crime, was given under the influence of alcohol. A few days after his interview to a channel, Dharmarajan was arrested from Karnataka after absconding for several years by jumping bail.
Sessions Judge Abraham Mathew in his Saturday’s order held that the survivor’s plea for inclusion of Kurien in the sex scandal case was not maintainable. The girl, hailing from Suryanelli in Idukki district of Kerala, was abducted in January 1996 and was transported to various places in the state and sexually exploited by different persons.
The survivor had moved the court against Kurien based on the ‘revelation’ of the sole convict in the case Dharmarajan, who had claimed in an interview a few months back that he had taken Kurien in a car to a guest house at Kumily where the girl was lodged.
Dharmarajan had later retracted the claim in the court through an affidavit stating he had never met Kurien and he was in an inebriated state when he made the charge. The 1996 case came into focus recently after the Supreme Court invalidated the Kerala High Court‘s verdict acquitting 35 accused in the case.
(With Additional Inputs From agencies )
30 Jun 2013 2 Comments
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law Tags: Bhopal, Indira Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, Maheshwar, Medha Patkar, Narmada, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Narmada River, Omkareshwar, Sardar Sarovar Dam, Supreme Court
Thousands of oustees affected by the Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Upper Beda and Man dam demonstrated in capital city Bhopal today and began their Satyagrah. Despite continuous rain in the entire Narmada valley, over 8000 men and women displaced persons have reached Bhopal to camp here for the next 5 days. The affected people demand that all the oustees of these dams should be rehabilitated and resettled with land and all other entitlements, and the injustice being wreaked on them for decades be stopped. Shri Alok Agarwal, senior activist of the Narmada Bacahao Andolan along with 4 men and women oustees have started their fast for 5 days in this “Narmada Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha and Upwaas”.
Thousands of oustees marched from Yadgaar –e – Shahjahani Park through Moti Masjid, and gave a Memorandum to the Chief Minister in front of Kamla Park, and then moved to Neelam Park to begin their satyagraha and upwaas. For five days during the “Narmada Jeevan Adhikar Satyagraha and Upwaas”, Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Shri Alok Agarwal, along with Omkareshwar dam oustees Sakubai and Kalabai, Maheshwar dam oustee Bhagwati bai, and Indira Sagar dam oustee Shri Kishor Chauhan would be on fast and they have already begun their fast.
It is noteworthy that as per the common R&R Policy of the Government of Madhya Pradesh for the oustees of the Omkareshwar, Indira Sagar, Maheshwar, Man and Beda dams, the oustees have to be allotted land and other benefits of the R&R Policy, and resettled well before submergence. But there was no compliance with the R&R Policy, because of which the oustees reached a pitiable state. In its Order and judgment dated 11.05.2011, the Supreme Court gave a finding that the State Government had not offered land to even a single oustee, and had not fulfilled any of its obligations under the R&R Policy, because of which 89% of the displaced farmers could not purchase any land. The Supreme Court directed that the R&R Policy must be strictly followed for all these dams. However the thousands of oustees of these dams have been denied their rights under the R&R Policy, especially the right to be allotted land with a minimum of 2 ha. of irrigated land.
Recently, the State Government has announced a grant of Rs. 2.5 lakhs to the landless families of the Omkareshwar dam. But the condition that the landless families would have to break their houses by the 15th of July in the middle of the monsoons in order to obtain the grant was both inhuman and impossible. It is clear that this condition must be immediately set aside. It is also noteworthy that the additional package of Rs. 2 lakhs per acre announced by the Chief Minister for the farmers of the Omkareshwar dam is not for an entitlement of 5 acres or at market value of land. Because of this, the displaced farmers will not be able to purchase land for land with a minimum of 2 ha. of land, as per the R&R Policy.
The State Government has also not provided any land for the landholders or grant for the landless families of the Indira Sagar, Maheshwar, Man and Veda dams, and these rights remain to be provided.
The oustees of these dams have lost their homes, villages, lands, and culture and have been completely pauperized. Their demand is:
1. The farmers of the Omkareshwar, Indira Sagar, Maheshwar, Man and Beda dams must be provided land to the extent of land acquired, with a minimum of 2 ha, of land, or they should be assisted to purchase these entitlements.
2. Every landless family of each of these dams should be provided Rs. 2.5 lakhs, and a time period of 6 months after providing this grant for the purchase of productive assets.
3. All R&R entitlements to be provided before submergence and displacement.
4. Those persons who have lost lands, but whose houses have not submerged, their houses should be acquired and the concerned families rehabilitated.
5. The 41 villages of the Indira Sagar project whose back-water survey has not been carried out, the back-water survey must be done, and the necessary lands and properties acquired and the villagers rehabilitated and resettled.
6. People of New Harsud resettlement site are suffering enormously because of lack of employment. Immediate arrangements for their employment must be made.
7. The lands of five villages of Dewas namely Dharaji, Kothmir, Narsinghpura, Nayapura and Guwadi who are affected by the Omkareshwar dam must be acquired and the villagers rehabilitated and resettled.
Thousands of oustees are resolved that they will take their rights and entitlements at any cost. Their slogan is that “Give us rehabilitation and land. Else empty the dam.”
Alok Agarwal Sakubai Ram Vilas Rathor
Omkareshwar Dam Indira Sagar Dam
Radhubhai Bana Bai Govind Rawat
Maheshwar Dam Upper Beda Dam Maan Dam
30 Jun 2013 Leave a comment
in Advocacy, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights Tags: Aliganj, European Union, Hindustan Times, International Day, International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Lenin Raghuvanshi, Lucknow, Victims of Torture
LUCKNOW: Holding her daughter tightly in her lap, Anjum of Tanda cannot forget the night of March 3, when she had to spend an entire night in hiding, to save herself from a mob baying for her blood to avenge the death of a local leader. When she returned home, none of her belongings were left.
In another case, Bhonu of Varanasi had to spend 26 months in jail for a murder he did not commit, all because he was poor and illiterate.
Anjum and Bhonu are just a couple of examples of torture victims, who have to go through atrocities for no fault of their own. Several such sufferers came on one platform for a programme organised by People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on Wednesday. Narrating their tales of woes, the victims explained threadbare how gullible people are trapped in false cases and subjected to torture.
“There was a murder in my locality Aliganj in Tanda district but how was I or my family related to it? The mob conducted loot inside my house in the night while I was scampering for safety. Cops chose to stay away until morning. Those who should protect us, were not seen during the entire loot,” said Anjum, who stayed underneath a tin shade behind some sacks to hide herself and her children when the mob set ablaze several houses in the locality.
Says Niaz Ahmad of Tanda, “Communal tension never allowed me to live peacefully. My children too could never attend school regularly.”
Bhonu says all his life’s savings, which he had collected while working in a band, along with household objects were sold off to fight his case.
“Cops beat me up for the entire night and booked me in a case that I was not even aware of. Though my innocence was proved in the court, all my money and my wife’s jewellery was gone by then,” says Bhonu.
At the event, several other people narrated their ordeal before the panel of experts, including first counselor of European Union Dr Hans Van Villet, chairperson of Shram Salahkar Samiti Vidyawati Rajbhar and national secretary Rastriya Lok Dal Anil Dubey.
Commenting upon atrocities on the suppressed class, Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi of PVCHR said, “Committing atrocities on suppressed people has turned into a practice of sorts. Therefore, the mindset of people, especially those in decisive posts, needs to be changed.”
Other experts addressing the meeting included Prof Ramesh Dixit, Shruti Nagvanshi, Shabana Khan and Anoop Srivastava. They demanded that the bill against torture should be implemented so that cases of police atrocity can be checked.
30 Jun 2013 3 Comments
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tags: Dalit, Hindu, Indian Penal Code, Madurai, Puducherry, Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, Tamil Nadu, Usilampatti
WITH the imposing Puthur hillock surrounded by lush green sugarcane fields offering a picturesque backdrop, Vadugapatti in Usilampatti block in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu gives the impression that all is well there. But the humiliation inflicted on a 11-year-old Dalit boy on June 3 and the abuses hurled subsequently at his widowed mother by a caste Hindu youth have unmasked the moral pretensions of the tiny village in the heartland of the Piramalai Kallars.
In a place where footwear is considered a status symbol rather than protective gear, a Piramalai Kallar youth, P. Nilamaalai, forced the Dalit boy, P. Suresh (name changed), to carry his sandals on his head as punishment. His crime: wearing footwear in the caste-Hindu area!
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) tooksuo motu notice of the case and held an inquiry in the village on June 11. D. Venkatesan, Director of the NCSC (Tamil Nadu and Puducherry), who was accompanied by A. Iniyan, investigator, confirmed that the incident had taken place. Dubbing it a “heinous crime against a juvenile”, he said that persons guilty of the crime would have to face “serious legal consequences”.
Following a complaint lodged by the victim’s mother, P. Nagammal, a brick kiln worker, the Usilampatti Town police registered a first information report (FIR) on June 6 and arrested Nilamaalai, his brother P. Agni and their father, A. Pathivuraja. The police have registered cases against them under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.Even 10 days after the incident, Suresh found it difficult to come to terms with the humiliation he had undergone. Narrating his ordeal, he said it occurred when he and two other boys were returning from the Government Kallar High School where he was studying in Standard VI.
All the three boys belonged to the Dalit colony and had gone to the school to find out about the rescheduled date of reopening after the summer vacation. Nilamaalai waylaid them near a tamarind tree. After allowing the other two Dalit boys, who were barefoot, to leave, he upbraided Suresh for violating the ban on Dalits walking on the streets in the upper-caste area with footwear on. Reprimanding him for his mother’s “failure” to teach him the “etiquette” he had to follow, Nilamaalai forced the boy to put his footwear on his head and paraded him up to a platform used to stage cultural events.
According to Nagammal, Suresh stomached the insult and did not say anything about it to her or to his other relatives. However, sensing her son’s abnormal behaviour, she coaxed him a couple of days later into revealing his agonising experience. She took up the issue with Nilamalai’s brother Agni on June 5. But Nilamaalai not only justified his abominable action but also hurled abuses at her and allegedly threatened to eliminate her if she dared to inform the police. Contrary to his belief that the Dalit woman would grin and bear the dishonour, she lodged a complaint with the police. Nagammal said the local police wanted to settle the issue through a “compromise” and she had to approach Dalit activists to ensure that justice was done in the case.
K. Theivammal, coordinator of the Usilai Vattara Dalit Kootamaippu, an organisation working for the rights of the oppressed communities in Usilampatti block, said the police registered an FIR after much dilly-dallying. Though the police arrested Nilamaalai’s brother and father on June 7 on charges of protecting the accused, Nilamaalai was absconding until he was nabbed on June 9. Posters were put up throughout Usilampatti town and in several villages in the area demanding, among other things, the arrest of the main accused.
According to Superintendent of Police V. Balakrishnan, who visited the village close on the heels of reports on the incident, cases had been booked under Section 294(b) (singing, reciting or uttering any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place) and Section 506(1) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3(1)(x) and 3(1)(xiv) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Section 3(1)(x) of the Act deals with intentional insult or intimidation with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view and Section 3(1)(xiv) pertains to offences such as denying a member of an S.C. or an S.T. any customary right of passage to a place of public resort or obstructing such member so as to prevent the person from using or having access to a place of public resort which other members of the public or any section thereof have a right to use or have access to.
Caste Hindus, however, dismissed the incident as an “aberration” in the otherwise cordial relations between the two communities. Vadugapatti panchayat president M. Thavam said both Dalits and Piramalai Kallars lived in harmony in the village. Though the incident was deplorable, it should not be blown out of proportion as it would harm the peaceful coexistence of the two communities, besides bringing disrepute to the village, he said.
The headmistress of the local school was also in denial. Nothing should be done to precipitate the issue, she cautioned. Of the 166 pupils in the school, which was established in 1921, 90 were Dalits and no discrimination was shown to them, she claimed.
However, Nagammal, who has not yet fully recovered from the shock, feels that the government should intervene immediately to ensure protection to her and her son. She wants the authorities concerned to shift her son to another school so that he can continue his studies without fear. Though the school reopened on June 10, the boy did not attend classes fearing reprisals from some persons belonging to the dominant community. She has also urged the government to allot a housing plot in a safer location so that she can live peacefully. Her demands have the backing of Dalit organisations, including the Usilai Vattara Dalit Kootamaippu.
The NCSC has urged the district administration to help the victim to find admission in a government school and hostel in Madurai town. The boy needs counselling and relief, the commission said.
Dalit residents of the village say the June 3 incident has brought to the fore various problems faced by them. According to Theivammal, different discriminatory practices prevailed in all the six villages—Vadugapatti, Ramanathapuram, V. Kallipatti, Kongupatti, Puthur and Vilarpatti—that come under Vadugapatti panchayat. Dalits describe the peace meeting held in the village by the Deputy Superintendent of Police and investigating officer on June 9 as a knee-jerk reaction by the authorities.
M. Jayakumar, Suresh’s maternal uncle, said the practice of insulting members of the oppressed community for wearing footwear in front of caste Hindus occurred every now and then. Only recently was a girl student of the local government school, M. Malarvizhi (name changed), beaten with a broomstick for walking with footwear on a street in the caste-Hindu area, he said.
K. Mangayarkarasi (name changed), a brick kiln worker, said her son was taken to task by caste Hindus for wearing footwear while crossing a street last month. Dalits are not even allowed to ride two-wheelers in caste-Hindu areas. There is no proper pathway to the burial ground used by them. According to some residents, non-Dalits had warned them also against complaining to visiting government officials and activists of human rights organisations about the discriminatory practices.
Stressing that the Vadugapatti episode should not be taken as an isolated one, M. Thangaraj, organiser of the Madurai district unit of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), listed the discriminatory practices: segregated dwelling units; separate burial grounds for Dalits; denial of access to places of worship, common meeting place, village squares or community halls; ban on the use of footwear in front of caste Hindus; and the two-tumbler system in tea shops. In many villages in Usilampatti block, B.R. Ambedkar’s picture was not to be found in government offices and schools, he added.
As in the case of several villages in the region, the Dalits of Vadugapatti are farmhands and have to depend on the dominant community for their livelihood. They have been working as manual labourers in brick kilns or as agricultural workers in land belonging to caste Hindus. In Vadugapatti village, there are around 220 Dalit families and 500-odd caste-Hindu families. With the monsoon playing truant in the past several years, Dalit youth have migrated to the northern States seeking jobs in snack-making or fast food units.
“As many as 120 brick kilns are located in Usilampatti and Chellampatti panchayat unions. They are owned by caste Hindus. Almost 90 per cent of the workers involved in brick-making are Dalits brought from the western and northern districts of Tamil Nadu. Most of them are treated as bonded labourers,” Thangaraj said.
The TNUEF is planning to launch an agitation shortly to ensure that Dalits in Vadugapatti walked on the thoroughfares in the village wearing footwear, he said. Thangaraj asked the authorities concerned to take stern action against those who practised untouchability in any form. Strong action from the government in one village would send a warning signal to the forces of oppression in the entire region, he opined.
Director of the NCSC Venkatesan said the villagers had been told that discriminatory practices against Dalits and various forms of untouchability not only were inhuman but were against the law of the land. Expressing concern at the escalating incidents of atrocities against Dalits, he said these would be taken up at the State-level review meeting of the NCSC slated for July.
Significantly, discrimination against certain communities insofar as wearing footwear has a long history in Tamil Nadu. The senior archaeologist C. Santhalingam said there was historical evidence to show that using footwear was treated as an exclusive right of certain groups in ancient Tamil land, though footwear might have been originally treated as something to protect the feet, particularly in tropical climatic conditions. A 12th-13th century A.D. stone inscription in the Kongu region speaks of a decision by the Kongu Chola administration to lift the ban on wearing footwear by Kammalars (artisans) and Idayars (cowherds), he said.
30 Jun 2013 2 Comments
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Minority Rights Tags: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Narendra Modi, Narmada River, Sardar Sarovar Dam, Supreme Court
29th June, 2013
Decision to raise height of SSP illegal and political conspiracy
Central Authorities cannot permit drowning
of 2 lakh population without rehabilitation
The decision to permit raising of the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from the present height of 122 mts to the final height of 138.68 mts, as per the news published in the Times of India, has been taken by the Resettlement and Rehabilitation Sub Group of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) on 26th June. This is supposed to have been done on the basis of the reports by the 4 states, including Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, confirming, that ‘rehabilitation is complete’. All this is absolutely unbelievable and unacceptable since there are more than 40,000 families in the 245 villages in the submergence area spread across three states, but the maximum (193) are in Madhya Pradesh alone.
There are at least 4,000 families in M.P. and about 1,000 in Maharashtra who are yet to receive alternative agricultural land as per the eligibility. Thousands of landless including agricultural labourers, fish workers, potters and other artisans are yet to get an alternative source of livelihood as per the state policy and Action Plan, endorsed by the Supreme Court. Those at the resettlement site in Gujarat or Maharashtra or at a very small percentage in M.P. are certainly not rehabilitated, till date, as there are hundreds of families without full land, as per entitlement or amenities, yet to be attained.
When huge corruption through a massive scandal of about 5,00 to 1,000 crores, misappropriated by officials and agents in rehabilitation is under inquiry, by Justice Jha Commission, appointed by the High Court for the past 5 years, there is no way that M.P. can approve the fake rehabilitation. M.P. has allotted land only 21 families till date, that too in the past two months, while 4,000 + remain to attain their due, many of whom are cheated through fake land registries. These include hilly adivasis habited in the Satpuda and Vindhya ranges, who are to be taken special care of as per the policy and judgements. Maharashtra too is still searching and locating land to establish R&R sites, more and Gujarat’s oustees are also awaiting declaration, allotment of land and / or amenities in the original villages as well as resettlement sites.
The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award and all the Supreme Court’s judgements, (1991, 2000, 2002, 2005) and the last interim order that has clearly directed full and fair implementation of the NWDTA, are to be violated once again, is there is any raise, in the dam height, at this stage. Flooding the villages, where life is on with pucca houses, shops, markets, schools, temples and mosques and lakhs of trees will be a gross injustice, against law and contempt of court. The Prime Minister himself had given a written commitment to the Apex Court on 17th April, 2006 i.e. on the 21st day of fast in New Delhi, that all the families upto 122 mts were not rehabilitated while that height was sanctioned and that rehabilitation would be complete within 3 months i.e. by June, 2006. The same has not yet happened and hence there could be no permission granted for further work at the dam.
Moreover, not one, but many committees of MoEF and the latest chaired by Shri Devendra Pandey have clearly concluded based on the documents and data that almost all the conditions in the environmental clearance are not fulfilled, but violated. Be it Gujarat on the non-compliance of CAD Plans, or Maharashtra and M.P. with targets and plans on protective / preventive measures, compensatory afforestation, health measures for all the three states.
It is, therefore, obvious that any clearance granted is only a result of political expediency. Mr. Narendra Modi since, last few months had been raising SSP issues publicly to blame or challenge the UPA Govt, which is succumbing to these pressures unnecessarily and unjustifiably. When Gujarat doesn’t have its canal network ready and not built beyond 25-30% over the last 30 years, what is the need to raise the height and fill more water to drown the valley? Why can’t the MoEF and the Narmada Control Authority under the Ministry of Water Resources compel Gujarat to complete execution of all environmental measures and building of canal network phase-wise and thereby utilize the already ponded waters?
The issue is politicized with nearing of 2014 elections, no doubt but people’s lives and livelihoods being at stake, we can’t allow such a heinous crime to be committed by flooding houses, communities, fields, and forests any more, not till all legal pre-conditions are fulfilled. We warn the NCA not to clear the raising of the dam height and also warn R&R Sub – Group to withdraw its decision. The people of the valley will compel these authorities to comply with law and are prepared to fight it tooth and nail.
Surbhan Bhilala Devram Kanera Kamla Yadav Kailash Awasya
Ghokru Ranveer Tomar Shannobehan Madu Machuara Medha Patkar
Phone: 09179148973 / 09423965153