Press Release – Lift the casteist ban on APSC


 

On 22 May 2015, the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM), a student group namely Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) was ‘derecognised’ by the Dean of Students following an  advisory note received from the Under Secretary to the Human Resource Development Ministry , Government of India.  The note from the MHRD referred to an anonymous complaint that APSC created “hatred” against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hindus, and subsequently tried to justify the action in the garb of ‘misuse of privileges’.
APSC is a duly recognized independent student body, of about 100 individuals, formed on 14th April, 2014 on the birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar. The group has been facing threats and intimidation from upper caste right wing groups within the campus and administration from the very beginning. Earlier in June 2014 and again in September 2014, the Dean of students had asked APSC to change its name as both Ambedkar and Periyar were political leaders. The immediate provocation was the recent lecture organized by APSC on 14th April 2015 by Dr. R. Vivekananda Gopal of Kuppam University, Andhra Pradesh on the topic “Contemporary Relevance of Dr. Ambedkar”. In his speech Prof. Gopal had accused NDA government of favouring big business and criticised its policies on land acquisition, labour etc.
APSC strongly believes that caste discrimination is very much prevalent, even in current times, and is particularly pervasive in these ‘premier’ academic institutions. APSC aims to make a common platform for all students irrespective of caste and creed, so as to dismantle the evils of caste barriers. Emphasizing  the direct linkage between the hierarchical caste structure and conditions of peasants and labour,  they have been organizing talks, discussions, debates, movie screenings  on  labour policies, language politics, communalism, land acquisition ordinance, beef ban and ghar wapasi programmes etc.
IIT Madras is notoriously infamous for its casteist /Brahminical and rightwing ideology and dominance.  Making a mockery of the government policies on reservation, IITM had never implemented the policies resulting in very dismal representation of dalits and tribals in both faculty and student front. Socialactivists who have been fighting for proper implementation of reservations for Dalits describe IIT Madras as a ‘modern day agraharam — a Brahmin enclave’. According to WB Vasantha Kandasamy, Assistant Professor in the Mathematics Department, of the institute’s entire faculty numbering to 460 a meagre 0.86 percent are Dalits, about 50 are from OBC, and the rest belong to the upper castes(2007). Even at present, the number of Dalits among faculty members is less than 1%. In 2008, IIT Delhi also was in the news for terminating 12 Dalit students citing “poor academic performance”.  “So far at least 20 Dalit students from all IITs have committed suicide in the past decade,” says a PhD student from  IIT Delhi. There are many such  instances of discrimination and persecution of dalit students and faculty in the IITs which are never covered by the mainstream media. A recent  survey among first year students (2013-14 batch) belonging to various SC, ST and OBC categories at IIT Mumbai, has revealed that an alarming 56% of them feel discriminated in a very subtle manner.  The dropout rate of Dalit students  at IITM is among the highest in the country. Even basic freedoms like having food of their choice in a common space is frowned upon by the administration which wanted separate mess halls for students who are vegetarian.
The incidents in IITM in derecognizing Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle expose the real attitude of NDA government towards Dr. Ambedkar whom they are desperately trying to bring into the Hindutva fold. It may be further noted that IITM which has derecognized APSC because of its anti-establishment views is extending all possible help to many rightwing student groups like Vivekananda Study Circle, Dhruva, and Santulan which are engaging in unscientific and religious discourses.
The incident at IITM is not an isolated one. It is part of the overall strategy of rightwing forces to stifle democratic spaces in educational institutions. In June 2014, nine students including editor, subeditor and advisory members of the college magazine of Sree Krishna College in Kerala’s Guruvayur University were arrested for publishing “objectionable and unsavoury” language against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a crossword puzzle in the magazine. Around the same time seven polytechnic students along with their Principal in Thrissur were arrested for including Narendra Modi in a list of “negative faces” along with Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, George Bush and a few others in their college magazine.
PUDR expresses deep concern over growing intolerance shown by the Modi government which is going  for an all out offensive against every form of dissent. We strongly condemn the efforts of government in stifling democratic voices in educational institutions, thus violating the constitutionally guaranteed right to free expression. PUDR also condemns the role of police authorities in containing the protests by various students, civil and democratic organizations both inside and outside IITM.  We strongly believe that the action of the Dean of students of IITM in derecognizing the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle is undemocratic and unilateral, and demand its immediate and unconditional roll back.
Sharmila Purkayastha
Megha Bahl
(Secretaries, PUDR)
pudr@pudr.org
6 June 2015

Press Release – Mandala Evictees Pledged to Save Surrounding Environment


 

NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS

National Office : 6/6 Jangpura B, New Delhi – 110 014 . Phone : 011 2437 4535 | 9818905316

E-mail: napmindia@gmail.com | Web : www.napm-india.org

 

Awas Haq Satyagraha celebrates World Environment Day

Mandala Evictees Pledged to Save Surrounding Environment

Mumbai | 5th June 2015: Amidst their struggle for housing right, the Mandala evictees did not forget to celebrate the World Environment Day. They pledged to save their environment and to keep their surrounding clean. On this occasion, the children participated in the drawing competition on the theme ‘Environment’. Five of the participants bagged special prizes while others were given complementary prizes by supporters of the Satyagraha, Ms. Pervin Jehangir and Ms. Shahsi Mehta.

 

Determined on their demands, 9 of the Mandala evictees carried forward the relay fast. The Satyagrahis also made it clear that come what may in their way, they will not move from the land they were evicted from. Any day the rain may fall, the administration has assumed that nobody will stay if this happens, but the Satygarhis, high in spirit, today has announced that nothing can move them from ‘their’-Mandal Land.

 

11 years long wait for own house on the hollow assurance, burden of high house rent, insecurity and undignified life have filled all the evictees of Mandala with anger and compelled them carry on their struggle from a land which has no roof. This is not only Mandala specific issue; it is a wider one which raises the question of Right to Life, injustice, exploitation and State’s ignorance. While a considerable high proportion of slum dwellers in India have always contributed to the growth of the economy yet they have always been betrayed in the name of one or the other policies and scheme facing exploitation simultaneously. As per article 25.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right, 1948 and article 11.1 of the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Right, the Housing Right is a Human Right. The realization of the same is not as easy in the case of Mandala evictees.

 

Siraj Ahmad                          Phoolchand Yadav                            Pramila Choudhry                            

Ravinder Kumar Jaiwal       Sushila Upadhyaya                           Mukesh Jaiswal 

Press Release- Movement for Land Rights rejects anti farmer land ordinance


 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Bhumi Adhikar Andolan (Movement for Land Rights) rejects anti-farmer Land Ordinance

WHY IS GOVERNMENT IN A HURRY?

5 June 2015, New Delhi : A  joint statement released by various groups fighting for equitable land rights in the country under the banner of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, has summarily rejected the questionable amendments that have been introduced to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement 2013 (Second Amendment Bill, 2015) by extra-constitutional means.

In a Press Conference called by the movement, representatives of farmers, forest workers and civil rights organisations raised the issue of ‘hurry’ with which the NDA government is trying to amend a very hard-earned law of the country. The same attitude of the government can be seen in the time it has given to the Joint Parliamentary Committee for taking in suggestions from the people. Bhumi Adhikar Andolan had asked the JPC to increase the deadline for receiving submissions which is 8 June 2015 but JPC has rejected the demand. The JPC doesn’t even have enough time to hold wider public consultations and hearings to receive real inputs from people of the country. A law that took 66 years after independence to come out of its colonial framework is today going back to its exploitative form in just months. In another undemocratic move, the NDA cabinet again recommended the Land Amendment Bill to the Parliament without even waiting for the inputs of the JPC.

NAPM, as a part of Bhumi Adhikar Andolan strongly condemns this deplorable attitude of the government with which it is dealing with such an important act and is threatening the livelihood of a majority of Indian citizens. Today, economists and media are harping on the fact that share of agriculture in GDP is very low. But how can that be possible when 60% of India’s labour is occupied in agriculture and when each and every industry is dependent on agriculture as its source of raw material? Such false notions must be countered by a comprehensive research on the status of agriculture in India and cannot be used just as an excuse to take away land from small and marginal farmers for the benefit of real estate lobby and industrialists.

The Press Conference was addressed by Bhupinder Singh Rawat (NAPM), Hannan Mollah (All India Kisan Sabha, Canning Lane), Roma (All India Union of Forest Working People), Jarjum Ete (All India Union of Forest Working People) and Satyavan (All India Krishak Khet Mazdoor Sangathan).

 

Bhupinder Singh Rawat | Shabnam Shaikh | Rishit Neogi | Madhuresh | Rajendra Ravi | Kanika | for NAPM.

 

9643349452 | 9560986354

Shabnam | Rishit

 

Press Release – Demolition of homes in Malvani, Malad


*Press Release – 4 June 2015*
*Demolition of homes in Malvani, Malad*

A demolition of an entire settlement of more than 350 households has been
carried out in Malad today. This settlement known as ‘Katcha Rasta’ is
adjacent to the New Collector’s Compound in Malvani.

A notice regarding proposed eviction had been sent to only 50 families on
17 May 2015. This eviction of the poor from their homes is in absolute
contravention of the Maharashtra Slum Areas Act (1971) as it is imperative
that an advance notice of at least 24 hours is given (Sec. 3(z)i-2) prior
to eviction.

The notice stated that these homes had been constructed on mangrove land
under the ownership of the Forest Department and hence would be evicted.
Only some parts of the entire settlement are on mangrove land.

While these homes were being constructed, for more than 15 years the Forest
Department chose to turn a blind eye and wake up only to render nearly 1000
women and children homeless today!

At 9 am the Forest officer, Forest police, local police, BMC officials and
bulldozers arrived and began demolishing homes. This rampage continued up
to sundown at 7.30 pm when the entire settlement was razed to the ground.
Some households even had proof of existence prior to 01.01.2000 and had
submitted the same to the Collector in Bandra in the past. The last time
they submitted proof to the Collector in Bandra, their pre 2000 residential
proofs were not accepted and only recent residential proofs were kept in
the record.

This demolition drive is inhuman and those responsible must be held
accountable.

5 women from the area who attempted to save their homes were arrested by
the police and an FIR has been lodged against them.

This is the second demolition in the Malad suburb since last week.

Hamara Shehar Mumbai condemns these evictions and the gross violation of
rights. Such events reinforce the need for affordable public housing to be
reserved in the DP.

Campaign for certification of film, “Porkalathil Oru Poo” #Censorship


censor

B103, Media Coop Society, Plot 18/A, Sector 7, Dwarke, New Delhi 110075

Tel: (0) 9818001206, Email: bose.tapan@gmail.com

 

 

To,

 

Mr Pahlaj Nihalani,

Chairperson

Central Board of Film Certification

Bharat Bhavan
91-E Walkeshwar Road
Mumbai 400 006

Email : chairperson.cbfc@nic.in

 

Sub:     Refusal of certificate to film, “Porkalathil Oru Poo”, by Chennai regional office

 

Dear Shri Nihalani,

 

We the signatories to this letter, comprising filmmakers, lawyers and social activists are distressed by the news that the film “Porkalathil Oru Poo” cannot be granted the necessary certificate for exhibition in the country, on the ground that it would strain friendly relations between India and Sri Lanka. (The Hindu May 26, 2015). The film made by Mr. K. Ganeshan is based on the on real life story of a Sri Lankan Tamil television journalist, Ms. Isaipriya. She was allegedly abducted and killed in captivity by members of Sri Lankan armed forces in the final stages of the civil war in 2009.

 

The news story quotes Mr. S. Ve. Shekar, a members of CBFC saying that, if allowed to be screened, the film would strain friendly relations between India and Sri Lanka. This is not a valid reason, as International Human Rights law and the laws of India demand that criminal actions must be exposed, investigated and criminals must be punished. Bringing to light, criminal actions of erring Sri Lankan soldiers, cannot be interpreted as an unfriendly action.

 

As you may recollect, this position was upheld by the Indian government in the past, when it called on the government of Sri Lanka for an independent and credible investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by Sri Lankan soldiers. In 2012, at the UN Human Rights Council, government of India also voted against the government of Sri Lanka for its inadequate progress in fulfilling the promises it had made to the UN Human Rights Council in 2009. India has demonstrated that its friendly relations do not include covering up crimes against humanity.

Ms. Isaipriya was a popular actor and a journalist. She was not engaged in any armed activity. As we know, the Rajapaksha government had claimed the Ms. Isaipriya was a terrorist and was killed during the war against LTTE.

 

Subsequent video footage unearthed by Channel 4 in 2013, from the mobile phones of Sri Lankan soldiers, show Isaipriya in a semiconscious state being dragged  up from a ditch, half naked and being led away. Photos of her dead body taken later, bore visible marks of torture and sexual abuse. You may recall that the Channel 4 film, “No Fire Zone”, though banned by Sri Lankan Government, was broadcast by an Indian TV channel. Headlines Today. Other Indian TV channels have repeatedly broadcast similar pictures of crimes against humanity committed by sections of soldiers of Sri Lanka.

 

Torture and killing of an arrested person and custodial rape of a woman are highly condemnable crimes and are punishable under national and international laws.  Those who perpetrate such crimes must be punished. Attempts to cover up such criminal activities is equally condemnable.

Mr. K. Ganeshan’s film, “Porkalathil Oru Poo”, is not a propaganda film. It is a tragic story of the life of a young TV actor and a journalist. Ms. Isaipriya. Her story deserve to be told. It is also important that those who tortured, raped and killed her should know that the world is aware of their heinous crimes.

 

We urge the CBFC to immediately issue the certificate to the film “Porkalathil Oru Poo” directed by Mr. K. Ganeshan.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Ajay Bhardwaj, <ajayunmukt@gmail.com>,

  1. K. Roy, <qadeeroy@gmail.com>,

Amar Kanwar, <amarkanwar@gmail.com> ,

Ammu Joseph<ammujo@gmail.com>

Amudhan Ramalimgam Pushapam <amudhanrp@yahoo.com>,

Anjali Monteiro <monteiro@tiss.edu>,
Ashvin Kumar <ashvin@alipur.com>

  1. Deenadayalan<ddaaron@gmail.com>

Joshy Joseph <jjoshy@gmail.com>,

K.P. Jayasankar <kpj@tiss.edu> ,

  1. P. Sasi <sasi36@rediffmail.com>,

K.Srilata  <srilata.k@gmail.com>

Laxmi Murthy <murthy.laxmi@gmail.com>

Leela Samson <leelasamson@gmail.com>

Meera Chaudhary <m.ecology@gmail.com>,

Nakul Sawhney <nakulss@gmail.com>,
Nishtha Jain <raintreefilms@gmail.com>,

Nitya Ramakrishnan <nityarkrishnan@gmail.com>

Pankaj Butalia <pankajbutalia@gmail.com>,

Prasanna Ramaswamy <prasannarama21@gmail.com>

Rakesh Sharma <rakeshfilm@gmail.com>,

Rita Manchanda <ritamanchanda2003@yahoo.co.in>

R.R. Srinivasan <rrsrinivasan@gmail.com>,

S.G.Vasudev <sgvasudev@gmail.com>,

Saba Dewan <sabadewan@gmail.com>,

Sadanand menon <sadanandmenon@yahoo.com> ,

Sanjay Kak <kaksanjay@gmail.com> ,
Sreemith Sekhar <sreemithme@gmail.com>,

Simantini Dhuru <simantini.dhuru@gmail.com>,

Suhasini Mulay <suhasini.mulay@gmail.com>

Tapan Kumar Bose   <bose.tapan@gmail.com> ,

Venkatesh Chakravarthy <chaks3@hotmail.com>,

Yousuf Saeed <saeed.yousuf@gmail.com

Press Release- 914 Habitations filed the CFR claims under FRA in Himachal Pradesh


Press release                           Dated: 30-5-2015

Community Forest rights claims under Forest Rights Act by other traditional forest dwellers has been filled at Four  Sub Division  of Himachal Pradesh to SDLC today by Forest Rights Committees (FRC) with the facilitation of  Himalaya Niti Abhayan .  Claims submitted by 31 FRCs of Balichawaki district Mandi to SDLC (sub division level committee) Gohar, 18 FRCs of Banjar Kullu to SDLC Banjar, 11FRCs of Kangra and 21 FRCs of  Plampur Kangra Sub Divisions.

Whereas, 28 FRCs of Bajnath and 9 FRC’s Bhatiyat had already submitted forest right claim for recognition to SDLC.

As, Himalaya Niti Abhiyan is facilitating the Gram Sabhas in the process of FRA implementation in district Mandi, Kullu, Chamba, Kangra and Bilaspur since last year. Near about hundred Gram Sabhas of these districts has complete the process submitting the forest rights claims to Sub Divisional Level Committees constituted by the government under FRA-2006 for further process of recognition.

The Himalaya Niti Abhiyan has been regularly facilitating the communities on the community forest rights through massive campaign in 2008 in nine districts of Himachal Pradesh after the awareness campaign the organization facilitated the Gram Sbaha’s to constitute the Forest rights committees in the six districts Chamba, Kangra, Mandi, Bilaspur, Kullu and Sirmour after the massive campaign on the formation of the forest right’s committees the organization conducted training/ workshops/ meetings at various level viz. State, DLC, SDLC, PRI, FRC’s , Panchayat secretaries, Reevenue fiel staff for the better implementation of the Forest right act 2006. After the training the organization facilitated the FRC’s and Gram Sabha’s to collect the supporting documents for the claim process and compilation of the documents. In this regard series of meetings and awareness programs has been conducted throughout five districts in 200 gram Sabhas’ approximately 1200 habitations. The the training on filing the community forest rights claims to each gram Sabha’s provided. The organization also support the FRC’s to mobilize the gram sabhas and process of verification of the claims, joint verification process, meetings of the different FRC’s having joint rights. After all the process the Gram Sabha of each FRC’s approved the claims and submitted to the Sub Division level committee today.

It is well known and established that the people in our state have huge dependence on forests for their livelihood needs; various research studies and government documents also admitted the same. On the background most of the forest rights had already being recorded in forest and revenue records and vest with communities which need to be recognised and recorded under the procedure of FRA-2006. In the reference the MoTA also issued different letter for the same in the month of February and april 2014 clearly stated to undertake the process of the recognition of forest rights under FRA 2006.

Further the state government also limited to divert any forest land for any development activity without the recognition of the right’s under FRA 2006 thus throughout the state various developmental activities has been stalled. To carry out the developmental activities in the state the recognition of the forest right’s under FRA 2006 is the primary condition. .

In addition Hon’ble HP high court in its judgment on 6 April 2015 has passed an order that all encroachments on forest land shall be removed within six month. This judgment has not considered the legalities under The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and Supreme Court judgment thereon. The implementation of forest rights act and process of filing claims is going on hence eviction proceedings cannot be initiated till completion of the process.

Provisions mentioned as under:

Section 4(5) of the The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, (FRA-2006) says that “save as otherwise provided, no member of forest dwelling scheduled tribe or other traditional forest dweller shall be evicted or removed from forest land under his occupation till the recognition and verification procedure is complete.”  

Niyamgiri judgment of Honourable Supreme Court (WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 180 OF 2011) also directed that no proceeding of divergence of forest and evictions can be carried out till the recognition and verification procedure is complete under FRA-2006.

State administration is not serious to implement this act and is trying to discourage the FRA implementation process.

Procedure lay down by Forest Rights Act -2006 (Schedule Tribe and other Traditional Forest dwellers (recognition of forest rights)-2006 and rules of 2008 and 2012 followed to compile the rights:

Rights in claim form has been recorded on the bases of traditional and customary practices, livelihood uses, religious and cultural practices with in forest and assess as on 13 December 2005 as per the provision of the act. Hence extended rights cannot be rejected on the bases of previous records.

Incomplete claim files cannot be rejected by SDLC or DLC as per FRA -2006 but the same shall be sent back with comments timely to concerned FRCs for rectification.

No eviction proceeding can be carried out till the verification and recognition of rights is complete.

HNA requested to Chief Minister of Himachal to call an immediate meeting of officials concerned and representatives of Himalaya Niti Abhiyan in your presence so that issue can be discussed and positive decision with political will may emerge in the interest of forest dwellers communities and the state development process.

 

 

Guman Singh

Coordinator

Himalaya Niti Abhiyan

Sandeep Minhas

Secretary cum CFR  Coordinator 

Press Release – #India – 5 activists accused by Tata Steel in fabricated cases acquitted #goodnews


Noamundi activist released
from Ieft are: Mosa Mundi, Rajaram Das, Xd, Indu Iaguri, John Barjo
 — atOut side Chaibasa District Court Singhbhum Jharkhand India
Xavier Dias
The Noamundi five have been acquittedon 29th June 2013 by the Chaibasa Court In 1991 eighteen of us were accused by TATA ST EEL in multiple fabricated criminal cases this particular case the Company got the Railways to fiIe an additional criminal case for damage to railway property too for which in NOvember Iast year 6 of us went to jaiI
The sixth Basu Deogam died in May from malnutrition and TB, I wish to remember the children and widows of the 13 of our comrades aII of who died early from curable diseases aII before the age of 45, yes we are now acquitted after 22 yrs of one of the countries biggest mining companies TATA STEEL failed strategy to harass Intimidate and defeat the resistance movement,
The struggle and resistance against Mining in the Saranda forest within which TATA STEEL and Noamundi comes continues and is now Ied by some of the children of our former comrades On 22 June a Pubic Hearing for a new mine could not be held as over 500 women men and children under the Leadership of Omon MahiIIIa Sanghatan drove them away This picture was taken out of the Court ,

.

 

Press Release- #Uttarakhand- We cannot ignore the climate crisis anymore!


INDIA CLIMATE JUSTICE

 

STATEMENT ON THE UTTARAKHAND CATASTROPHE

We cannot ignore the climate crisis anymore!

 

 

25 June 2013

 

The India Climate Justice collective notes with deep anguish the devastating loss of life, livelihoods, and homes in Uttarakhand and beyond. The death toll is likely in the thousands, way beyond current official figures. We extend our deep condolences to the families and friends of those killed, and our support to those still fighting for survival, and to local populations whose livelihoods will take years to rebuild.

 

This tragedy was triggered by extreme unseasonal rains in North India, 2-3 weeks in advance of what is normal for this region. The Director of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Dehradun, said that 340 mm fell in a single day at Dehradun, a record not seen for five decades. Such extreme and unseasonal rainfall seems to us to indicate a global warming induced climate change phenomenon. Warmer air due to global warming has the capacity to hold more moisture, leading to more intense bursts of rainfall. The natural monsoon cycle in India has already been badly disrupted, and a new cycle of extreme rainfall events and prolonged droughts have been reported from all over the country in the recent past. Thus, contrary to statements by senior politicians, the Uttarakhand disaster is not natural: it is no less man-made than the other contributors to the tragedy. And if it is indeed induced by global warming, similar catastrophes could recur with increasing frequency and intensity anywhere in the country in the coming years.

 

In Uttarakhand, a chaotic process of ‘development’ that goes back many years exacerbated the effects of this extreme rain. Extensive deforestation of mountain tracts, by the state and more recently due to ‘development’ projects, led to soil erosion and water run-off, thus destabilizing mountain slopes and contributing to more intense and frequent landslides and floods. Unchecked hill tourism has resulted in the huge growth of vehicular traffic, spread of roads not suitable to this mountainous terrain, and the construction of poorly designed and unregulated hotels and structures, many near rivers. Sand mining along river banks has intensified water flows into rivers.

 

Most of all, the construction and planning of hundreds of small, medium and large dams across the Himalayan states from Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the northern Himalayas to Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the east, have destabilized an already fragile ecosystem and threatened biodiversity. A staggering 680 dams are in various stages of planning, or construction in Uttarakhand alone! These dams have a direct connection with the extent of the damage that can be caused in such flooding events, in that the tunnelling and excavation in the so-called run-of-the-river projects cause huge and unregulated dumping of excavated debris into river basins, leading to increased siltation, and in turn aggravating the flood situation. The electrical power generated by these dams will be consumed by urban elites elsewhere. It is ironic that these dam projects, while adversely impacting people’s access to their river commons, claim to be climate change solutions in the guise of renewable and green energy, and have already made huge profits by fraudulently claiming CDM (clean development mechanism) status. In 2009, the CAG had warned the government of Uttarakhand that the “potential cumulative effect of multiple run-of-the-river projects can turn out to be environmentally damaging”. Like many other warnings by environmentalists and local community groups in the past, this was also ignored. And now we are facing one of the biggest disasters that the country has seen in decades.

 

The central government of India and various state governments, including the govt of Uttarakhand, have prepared action plans for combating climate change. Any such plan ought to include the establishment of a disaster-prediction and warning mechanism. The Uttarakhand government has taken no measures to prepare for this kind of eventuality, though it has paid lip service to climate action plans over the last three years.  In the present case, the IMD issued inadequate warning, which was disregarded by the state government. An urgent prior warning could have ensured that pilgrims don’t move forward and retreat to relative safety, that locals reduce their exposure to risk to the extent possible. Thousands of pilgrims from different states, locals, workers in hotels and dharamshalas, and transport animals have been killed. Cars with people inside them were washed away. Those who have survived had to go without food for several days. Thousands are still stranded at different points, or in forests, and we are still counting the dead.

 

There has also been extensive devastation of local lives and the regional economy. Serious devastation has been reported from over 200 villages, so far. Innumerable locals, including agricultural workers, drowned in the raging waters or were submerged under mud and debris. Houses have collapsed or been washed away. Tourism and the local employment it generates have been hit indefinitely at the peak of the tourist season. Floods, landslides and debris have devastated agriculture along the rivers. Irrespective of whether these extreme rains are due to climate change or not, this is what a climate change world in the Himalayas looks like. This devastation is a glimpse into a climate uncertain future.

 

We see this tragedy as a result of cumulative and widespread injustice and wrongdoing: not only against the Himalayan environment, but also against mountain communities whose survival depends on that environment. This tragedy is also a crime, because our policy makers and administrators are also part of the larger climate injustice at a global scale that threatens, displaces and kills the marginal and the poor everywhere. On another plane, they simply let it happen. We believe that adaptation to disasters does not just mean desperate rescue work during and after the event, but also reducing vulnerability and risk before. Effective adaptation involves a series of measures that need to be adopted on a war footing. The sustainable development of a hill economy, and equity – not profit for a few – should be at its core.

 

India Climate Justice demands:

 

·         That the governments at the central and state level retreat to a low carbon pathway of development that has equity, decent employment, and sustainability at its core.

 

·         That the planning and construction of dams in the entire Indian Himalayas be reviewed, and all construction be halted until such a review is carried out.

 

·         That the use of explosives in all such infrastructure development works is completely stopped.

 

·         That, given the likelihood of extreme rainfall events and other climate extremes in the future, extensive and sub-regional warning systems are put in place urgently across all the Himalayan states, the coastal areas and beyond.

 

·         That a proper assessment of the carrying capacity of specific ecosystems is carried out.

 

·         That the eco-sensitive zone measures be implemented from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi and eco-sensitive zones be established in other river valleys.

 

·         That a river regulation zone be enforced such that no permanent structures are allowed to be constructed within 100 metres of any river.

 

·         That the residents and their organizations are thoroughly consulted in a democratic plan on climate change, in the revival of the local hill economy, and the generation of decent employment.

 

·         That all working people be compensated for the loss of life and livelihood, and that urgent plans are put in place for the revival of local livelihoods and agriculture.

 

·         That the central government learn from the Uttarakhand catastrophe to put in place prior adaptation measures not just for the mountainous regions but beyond, for coastal and the drought-prone interiors as well.

 

 

 

(INDIA CLIMATE JUSTICE)

 

 

Endorsing Organizations

All India Forum of Forest Movements; Pairvi; Beyond Copenhagen; South Asia Network of Dams, Rivers and People; National Alliance of People’s Movements; Himalaya Niti Abhiyan; New Trade Union Initiative; All-India Union of Forest Working People; Chintan; Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha; Toxics Watch Alliance; Nadi Ghati Morcha, Chhattisgarh; Rural Volunteers Centre, Assam; Vettiver Collective, Chennai; Himal Prakriti, Uttarakhand; Maati, Uttarakhand; Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti; River Basin Friends (NE); India Youth Climate Network; Intercultural Resources; Kabani, Kerala; Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh; National Cyclists Union, India; Equations; Posco Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi; Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives; Science for Society, Bihar; Nagarik Mancha; SADED; JJBA, Jharkhand; BIRSA; Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee; Adivasi Mulvasi Astitva Raksha Manch; National Adivasi Alliance; Bank Information Centre; Focus on the Global South; Jatiyo Sramik Jote, Dhaka; Jharkhand Jungle Bachao Andolan; People’s Union for Democratic Rights; All India Students Association; All India Progressive Women’s Association

 

Individuals

Badri Raina, Kamal Mahendroo, Benny Kuruvilla, Subrat Sahu, Arun Bidani, Saurav Shome, Amitava Guha

 

India Climate Justice is a collective comprising social movements, trade unions, other organizations and individuals. It was formed in 2009 to respond to the growing climate crisis, from a perspective of justice and equity.

Emailindiaclimatejustice@gmail.com

Tel:  09434761915, 09717771255, 09910476553

 

What’s going on at Kudankulam?


M. RAMESH, The Hindu

It’s going to take some more time for Kudankulam to get started.
It’s going to take some more time for Kudankulam to get started.
 

What’s holding up the commissioning? Is it a problem with the valves and cables? Or something more?

The Site Director at the Kudankulam nuclear power project, R.S. Sundar, is a man apparently wizened by experience.

When Business Line asked him if the project would really start producing power in July (the latest revised deadline), his response was as honest as it was terse: “We hope.”

One cannot fault Sundar for his lack of conviction. A man no less than the Prime Minister of the country assured his Russian counterpart in December 2011 that the project would be commissioned in “two weeks” and said exactly the same thing again to the same individual three months ago.

The project was originally scheduled to be commissioned in December 2007. We Indians have learned to live with such timeline misses; frustration over project delays does not manifest itself in much more than puckered lips. Given the issues, such as faulty valves and cabling, it looks like there is no way the plant will be commissioned any time soon.

What’s happening?

But more frustrating than the five-and-half-year delay in the Kudankulam project is the lack of transparency in matters around the project.

Technical people in responsible positions engaged in the construction of the project have been telling this correspondent for well over a year that everything is ready for commissioning and they did not know what was causing the delay.

Their conjecture — which could be erroneous — has been that the entire establishment is awaiting word from the Prime Minister’s office to yank the lever.

It is well over a month since the Supreme Court gave its clearance for the project. Ask Sundar, he will tell you that “preparations and review process are going on”.

The project has already suffered a cost overrun of Rs 4,000 crore. In December 2011, when protestors had stopped work at the project, his predecessor, Kasinath Balaji, famously lamented that each day of delay cost a revenue loss of Rs 3 crore. But now there is a resounding silence.

Valves and cables

Something is happening inside that black box called Kudankulam. Nobody says what.

In this information vacuum, the most contextually credible perspective provided by down-the-line engineering staff and technically knowledgeable observers is that the delay is due to the valves scare.

It goes like this: some valves supplied by the Russian company Zio Podolsk have been found to be sub-standard and who knows how many other valves are defective?

Some of these other valves are inside the sealed reactor and cannot be easily removed. They are probably safe enough, but the shrillness of the anti-nuclear, anti-Kudankulam protests has reached such a crescendo that even a minor safety incident would inevitably result in a flare-up.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) would not want to end up with egg on its face by giving clearance for the commissioning.

So, they are going into the manufacturing log books of the Russians, component by component, to make sure things are alright. But the problem with this approach is, it is still not fool-proof. And everybody knows that.

What is not helping matters is the manner in which information was withheld when news about the faulty valves broke out.

When it was a matter of public record that a Special Secretary in the Department of Atomic Energy, A.P. Joshi, visited Zio Podolsk in July 2012, five months after the arrest of Sergei Shutov, the Procurement Director of the company, for fraud and corruption and supply of shoddy products to reactors, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India came up with the claim in February 2013 that “no information regarding any investigation against Zio Podolsk is available to NPCIL.”

And now there is talk of faulty cabling. In an article, A. Gopalakrishnan, a former Chairman of AERB, has said that large tracts of cabling would need to be re-done and this could take several months.

Could these faulty valves and cables (and God knows what else) set the project commissioning further behind? Nobody knows.

Misinformation thrives in this information-gap. One fails to understand why the nuclear establishment does not come clean and tell people what exactly is happening.

It apparently does not want to. S.P. Udaykumar, who is leading the protests against the nuclear plant, says that despite an order of the Central Information Commissioner, NPCIL has refused to share the ‘safety analysis report’ and the ‘site evaluation report’.

Incidentally, the Commission in its order tellingly noted thus: the Commission repeatedly asked the PIO to identify and explain the specific interest which might be affected….he gave no reasons whatsoever for claiming that the security, strategic and scientific interests of the State would be prejudicially affected if the Reports were disclosed.

Udaykumar has consequently filed a case with the Delhi High Court asking for the reports.

Why the silence?

Elsewhere in the world, reports such as these are freely shared with the public.

In one of his articles, Gopalakrishnan noted that “the contrast between how nuclear regulators in the best of democracies openly interact with their peoples and how the DAE and the AERB shrink from the public is quite apparent to all and this is increasing the disaffection and distrust of the Indian public for all nuclear operations and their safety.”

At a time when the country is suffering from an unprecedented power crisis — worst experienced by Tamil Nadu which is the chief beneficiary of the project — the monstrous delay in the project is going unexplained.

People ought to be told what exactly the issue is, whether there are faulty components and if so, the seriousness of the problem and the remedies available.

Those responsible for the delay, be it individuals or companies of Indian or foreign origin, should be brought to account.

Press Release-Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra (Land Right March) in Madhya Pradesh


Bhopal is the capital of India’s centrally located state Madhya Pradesh, housing 15.6 percent of Dalits and 21.1 percent of Adivasis totaling 26.6 million. Every fifth of the Adivasi and every 7th of the Dalit in the county live in Madhya Pradesh.

On 9th June, thousands of Dalit-Adivasi men, women from all over Madhya Pradesh converged in city’s Shahajani Park, about 1km from Bhopal Railway station. Adivasis marching under the banner of Adivasi Adhikar Andolan led by Dadulal Kole and Dalit under the banner of Rashtriya Dalit Mahasabha led by its General Secretary Sanjay Kumar Bharti joined together demanding from the Government to implement Land Reform in Madhya Pradesh enabling every land less – Dalit, Adivasi or of any caste and creed – gets 5 acre land.

Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra Converge in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh in India!

Thousands of Landless Dalits and Advasis Demand Land for Livelihood and Dignity!!

The Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra leaders had no media machinery, no laptop carrying middle or elite class activists supporting them. Leaders of this Yatra could neither read or write English – the main language of discourse, communication or propagation of thoughts of Indian Civil Society. But the Yatra evoke good response and thousands of the Dalits and Adivasis and other landless people reached Bhopal demanding five acre land for all the landless people in Madhya Pradesh.

It was interesting that most of the men and women who joined this Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra from its starting point at Hanumana in district Rewa or those who reached Bhopal on 9th June fall short of speaking, reading or writing fluent Hindi, the state language of Madhya Pradesh. But this lack of command over Hindi or English was a non-issue for them. They knew only one thing that they were land less and they declare their need and demanded land. Unlike underground and so called radicals, these Dalit, Adivasis and Landless and their representatives were clear about their expectation from the Government and they believed that it was the duty of the state to fulfill their demands of 5 acre land.

Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra, which Dalit-Adivasi launched and dared to walk by foot for the cause of land indicated their courage and determination. The Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra that began on 1st January 2013, had been to more than 646 villages spread from Rewa on UP-MP border, covering whole MP part of Bundelkhand and then to Vidisha, Raisen and then to state capital Bhopal and hence covering more than 2200 kms.

Organisers – the Adivasi Adhikar Andolan and the Rashtriya Dalit Mahasabha – a unique combination, seems to be aware of political fall out of this joint struggle. In Madhya Pradesh, where Bahujan Samaj Party, which has made it presence felt among the Dalits, has failed to make inroad among the Adivasis. Similarly Gandwana Gantantra Party, which has presence among the Adivasis, has failed to enroll Dalits as its mass base. With lost base among the Dalits, Congress is trying hard to gain foot hold among the Dalits. BJP is has already made clear to increase its vote share among them, it will be interesting to see how this collective journey will unfold in Madhya Pradesh, which goes to the poll at the end of this year. If Shivraj Chauhan Government offer what Bhoomi Adhikar Yatra is demanding, he could be sure of getting in power 3rd time. Women after women who addressed the Rally at Bhopal declared that they will vote to the one who gave them land. Let us see how this unity and the challenge by the Dalits and Adivasis unfurl?

Ashok Bharti

 

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