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

 

#India- Open letter to all MPs from North East India #Vaw #Womenrights


OPEN LETTER TO ALL THE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FROM NORTHEAST INDIAN STATES TO BRING IMMEDIATE JUSTICE FOR REIGPHAMY AWUNSHI & OTHER VICTIMS FROM THE NORTHEAST INDIA…

To: Inner and Outer constituency MP of Manipur.
CC: Home Minister; MPs of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.

Subject: Bring immediate justice to Reigphamy Awunshi and other victims from the NorthEast India.

Respected Sir/ Madam,

We the undersigned would like to bring to your attention some very serious concerns relating to recent tragic death of Reigphamy Awunshi.

We strongly believe that the circumstances that lead to the death of the beautiful daughter of Ukhrul and many insensitive and humiliating incidences following the death are a result of many attitudes and attributes that has been formed through the years.

Sir/ Madam, it is great pain to that many of her loving friends and well wishers have to fight to even register a FIR. Worse is the investigating police officer had total disregard and disrespect even for the death that we were told that we are spa working people and it was reason for such incidences of ‘death’ happens.

We wonder how in the face of such attitude which has strong humiliating and degrading attitude towards the people of NorthEast India, Reignphamy Awungshi can even have a unbiased investigation leave alone justice.

Many of us believe there are very strong evidences of homicidal signs and even possibility of sexual assault leading to the death.

Sir/ Madam, we believe one of most important factor that have lead to these ever increasing of negative attitude towards us, that even disrespect us in death is the absence of voices and solidarity of our own people.

We are deeply hurt and angry that our leaders seem to have left us and ignored us during such challenging and tragic times especially aggravated by a biased investigation and non-coverage by the many institution because of our racial origin.

We wish to request you to please exercise your full responsibility and power bestowed by the people who have elected yourself as leaders and make strong initiatives and actions to bring about justice to Reigamphy Awangshi and take punitive actions against those officials and professionals who have made skewed opinions and decision heavily affected by our racial origin.

We would like you to please take notice of the continuing coverage or wilfully undercoveraged in the national media of many such tragic incidences involving people from our north eastern region, which we believe is because of racial prejudice.

We would like to summarise to please share your words of condolences and help Awungshi and help prevent the fate that poor Awungshi have to experience even in death.

We urge to acknowledge the presence of the dangerous racial stereotyping and prejudice that have not only dehumanise and degraded the life of many but also cause many physical and emotional trauma and even have lead to death.

We would be very grateful to you if you Sir/ Madam could exercise your responsibility and power and held those heinous people accountable and herald a new glorious moment in the history of humanity of Manipur and in NorthEast India in general.

Members of Parliament should make significant steps to bring immediate justice to many victims like Reingamphy awungshi and seriously deal with prejudice that have allowed these crimes to happened and then become a huge obstacles towards justice including even toward registering a FIR and manipulation of forensic study.

Thanking you,

A Justice4Richard Initiative

 

Arunachal Pradesh scraps power deal with Naveen Jindal Group


 

By M Rajshekhar, ET Bureau | 3 May, 2013
"The (Arunachal) cabinet has decided to ask the Jindal Group to return its shares," Arunachal Chief Secretary HK Paliwal told ET. “The (Arunachal) cabinet has decided to ask the Jindal Group to return its shares,” Arunachal Chief Secretary HK Paliwal told ET.

 

NEW DELHI/ITANAGAR: Arunachal Pradesh, the epicentre of hydel power in India, has decided to reverse its contentious decision in 2009 to give 49% equity in its hydro-power corporation to the Naveen Jindal Group. The decision, taken last month, came after a backlash from government departments and other companies having hydel projects in the state against the joint venture, which was a departure from precedent as it effectively gave the NaveenJindal Group a stake in every upcoming hydel project in Arunachal.

“The (Arunachal) cabinet has decided to ask the Jindal Group to return its shares,” Arunachal Chief Secretary HK Paliwal told ET. Sometime in 2009, the cabinet of the Congress government, led by Dorjee Khandu, had cleared the sale of 49% in the Hydro Power Development Corporation of Arunachal Pradesh Limited (HPDCAPL) to the Naveen Jindal Group.

The state, through HPDCAPL, had committed to 11-26% equity contribution in every hydel project coming up in Arunachal, including those of other private players, adding 38,600 mw by March 2009. And Jindal’s 49% ownership of HPDCAPL would have effectively given it ownership in every project.

“This (the arrangement) looked peculiar,” says AV Kameswara Rao, executive director, PricewaterhouseCoopers, a consultancy.

"The (Arunachal) cabinet has decided to ask the Jindal Group to return its shares," Arunachal Chief Secretary HK Paliwal told ET.

“There are models where a state-owned body gives out equity. But this creates a strange situation. A state company holding equity in other projects cannot have a third party holding equity in it,” says AV Kameswara Rao of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

As companies squirmed at the idea of an uninvited private player holding equity (indirectly) in their power projects and looking into their books, the state backed down and decided to subscribe to its equity share directly, and not via HPDCAPL. “The (state) government is signing direct agreements with companies instead of going through this route,”Sanjay Kumar Saxena, the state’s current power secretary, told ET in December 2012.

How the state decided to award equity in HPDCAPL to a private player in general and Jindal in particular, is not clear. “The decision was taken by the (then) cabinet,” says Paliwal. “I do not know why it was taken. I also do not know on what basis Jindal was chosen.”

Tumke Bagra, who was the state power secretary when the decision was made, declined comment. “I am no more the power secretary. Please contact the present secretary who has access to department records,” he said in an SMS.

 

One death penalty every third day in India; UP tops the list #shameindia


 Saturday, February 16, 2013
Satya Prakash, Hindustan Times
New Delhi,
Notwithstanding the rarest of rare doctrine propounded by the Supreme Court, awarding death penalty does not appear to be so rare for courts in India.

Indian courts gave death penalty to 1455 convicts during 2001-11, an average of 132.27 convicts per year, Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) said in a report released on Thursday. 

Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 370 death sentences, followed by Bihar (132).

https://i2.wp.com/www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/2/16-02-pg10a.jpg

Interestingly, no death penalty was imposed in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim) and Union Territories (Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakswadweep), the report stated.

Based on records of the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB), Union ministry of home affairs, the ACHR report – The State of Death Penalty in India 2013 – said sentences for 4,321 convicts were commuted from death penalty to life imprisonment during this period.

The highest number of commutation – 2,462 – happened in Delhi, followed by followed by  Uttar Pradesh (458).

But thousands of convicts still remain on death row, the report stated.

“This implies that on average one convict is awarded death penalty in less than every third day in India. The rarest of rare case doctrine for application of death penalty has become routine.

“Death penalty is no longer the exception but the rule,” said ACHR Director Suhas Chakma, who is Coordinator of the National Campaign for Abolition of Death Penalty in India.

He demanded abolition of capital punishment contending “there is no scientific or empirical basis to suggest that death penalty acts as a deterrent against any crime.”

On the execution of Parliament Attack Case convict Afzal Guru, Chakma said the government must assuage the sentiments of his family members who had effectively been not informed about the impending execution on February 9.

“The State itself must not be flouting or circumventing the rules as it erodes the belief in the rule of law. Guru was hanged out of the queue and was denied the right to appeal against the rejection of mercy petition,” he said.

On the rejection of mercy pleas of four associates of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, the ACHR Director said in its attempt to address political fallout of the botched up execution of Afzal Guru the UPA government would carry out further executions of death row convicts.

“India as the land of Valmiki, Lord Buddha, Gandhi etc must follow its own civilisational values and take effective measures to join the countries which have abandoned retributive justice system and abolished death penalty,” Chakma said.

Death Penalty awarded during 2001-11
Uttar Pradesh-370
Bihar -132
Maharashtra -125
Karnataka- 95
Tamil Nadu -95
Madhya Pradesh-87
Jharkhand- 81
West Bengal- 79
Delhi-71
Gujarat-57

Death Penalty Commuted during 2001-11
New Delhi-2462
Uttar Pradesh-458
Bihar-343
Jharkhand-300
Maharashtra-175
West Bengal-98
Assam -97
Odisha -68
Madhya Pradesh-62
Uttaranchal -46

 

#India -No arrests yet in, Journalist Tongam Rina case #Vaw #Northeast #womenrights


Seven months after she was shot, journalist Tongam Rina is still waiting for the culprits to be nabbed. In an exclusive interview with TERESA REHMAN, she says this apathy emboldens miscreants.
Posted/Updated Friday, Jan 18 16:39:26, 2013

It was in July 2012 that the Itanagar-based Associate Editor with The Arunachal Timeswas shot at while entering her office. Despite public protests and support from across India, all she gets are empty assurances. An indifferent state administration has only added insult to the injuries she sustained.

It’s been six months since you wereshot at. What kind of response have you received from the authorities so far? Was there any action from the police?

 

All I have received is assurance after assurance. Nothing else. The police is not bothered and the government seem to think its job is finished with handing out Rs 2.50 lakh and arranging a chopper ride for me and two family members from Itanagar to Guwahati.

Why do you think the authorities have not been able to nab the culprits in spite of CCTV?

Unfortunately, there is no CCTV footage. But authorities have not been able to nab the culprits because they are not serious.

 

It must have been a difficult time for you and your family. What kind of circumstances have you been through?

It has been a very difficult time for us. Everything has come to a halt after the attempt on my life. I am yet to work from office as I still find it difficult to sit up for long hours. I have not written anything in the last six months, which is incredibly sad.  I and my family are yet to come out of shock. My mother refuses to let me get back to work while I and my partner discuss physiotherapy, counselling and visits to doctors instead of holidays!  But we have found enormous courage because of the support we received from the people of my state and also media fraternity from across the country. People have gone out of their way to support us. They have prayed for us. We are indebted. I wish police was more responsible and willing and government took note of this.

Do you have any idea about the motive of your attackers since your office was attacked on a previous occasion as well? Has it got something to do with the kind of stories your newspaper was doing?

Our office has been targeted five times in the last one year. That’s no joke. It’s very easy to figure out that we have been attacked because of the stories we do and because of the stand we take. These attacks are also a sign that there is no law and order. The criminals know that they can get away with anything in Arunachal, even murder. These repeated events clearly show what kind of policing, governance and judiciary we have in Arunachal Pradesh.

What kind of injuries did you suffer? What is the present state of your health? How has it affected your life, personally as well as professionally?

The bullet missed the vital organs by a few milimetres but it tore open a portion of my stomach. The doctors removed the bullet and every time I see a doctor, they always tell me that I am very lucky as the attack could have been fatal. My life has been turned upside down, inside out. I and my partner are trying to rebuild our lives. It’s been slow and painful. And it’s been extremely difficult on my parents and my partner as I am prone to angry outbursts after the attack. We are seeking help for it.

Could you find any kind of remedy for the psychological trauma you underwent? 

There is no quick remedy. It’s a slow process and we are still dealing with it.

Are you confident enough to walk into your office now?

Yes. I am not scared and they can’t win. They are cowards. Imagine shooting someone from behind.

How supportive has the local press fraternity been?

The local press has been very supportive. They are doing everything possible. They took out a silent protest rally on January 15 to question why it was taking so long to nab the culprit.

Did anyone approach the Press Council of India and other such bodies at the national and global level?

I am not sure about the Press Council of India. I got a letter informing me that they were planning a visit to Itanagar regarding my case. But I got no further information. Perhaps they are busy. The Committee for Protection of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, South Asia Women in Media have been extremely supportive. I am in regular touch with them.

What do you have to say about the safety of journalists in Arunachal Pradesh? How difficult is it to work in the frontier state?

There is no safety for journalists as well as common citizens in Arunachal since there is zero conviction rate. As I said, criminals get away with everything. There is a criminal-politician-police nexus in the state. And their favourite targets are journalists, as some of us dare report the truth. Even owners of media houses are not doing enough. Journalists work at their own risk as media houses have not done enough to protect their journalists and they pay abysmally.

Do you still hope for some justice at the end of the day?

At the rate things are going, I see no hope. But let’s hope for the best. Hopefully, my grandmother will know who harmed her favourite child before she dies.

 

Do you think some kind of a systematic campaign for justice can be carried out?

Right now I have no idea but yes, I look for support from everywhere. The state police and the government in Arunachal need to know that their long vacation is over and they have to work. They have to give an honest answer to my family and fellow journalists and people who care.

 

Teresa Rehman is the Editor of The Thumb Print (www.thethumbprintmag.com)

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE-SC directs compulsory registration of FIRs in all missing children cases


Press Release

 

17 Jan., 2013, New Delhi:  In a major breakthrough, the Supreme Court of India has passed landmark directions for registration of First Information Reports (FIRs) in every complaint of missing children in the country.

In a writ petition filed by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), a Supreme Court bench headed by a Chief Justice of India, Justice Altamas Kabir, and of Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice Jasti Chelameswar, has expressed serious dissatisfaction over the lukewarm response from all state governments from across the country on the issue of missing children. The Court has summoned the Chief Secretaries of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Arunachal Pradesh, to appear in person on 5th Feb. 2013, as these states have even failed to appear before the court and had not filed any status reports.

Accepting the arguments of Mr. H.S. Phoolka (Senior Adv.) and Mr. Jagjit Chhabra (Advocate on Record) appearing for the petitioner that every day hundreds of children are going missing without a trace and law enforcement agencies are not serious in their efforts to stop this crime and immediate steps for the recovery of these children must be taken, the Court directed immediate registration of FIRs. The Court has also accepted recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission to set up Special Juvenile Police Units at every police station across the country with a dedicated Child Welfare Officer/Special Juvenile Police Officer, to swiftly act in cases of all children in need of care and protection as well as in conflict with law.

According to BBA, almost 100,000 children go missing, with over 30,000 remaining untraced each year in the country (as per National Crime Records Bureau data). However, less than 10,000 cases are ever registered. Mr. R. S. Chaurasia, Chairperson BBA said, “Govt. Accepts that 7 children go missing every hour. In the absence of a clear definition of ‘missing child’ coupled up with apathy, lackadaisical approach and no respect for children especially those belonging to the poorer sections of society, these directions of the Supreme Court will be a shot in the arm for our efforts against organised crime of trafficking involving these missing children.

“Many times the complaints from parents, especially those of adolescent girls, result in insensitive and lewd remarks from the police that the girl may have eloped with her lover, leaving the parents in lurch for tracing their children all by themselves”, he added.

 

Warm Regards

 

Shri. R.S Chaurasia

Chairperson,

Bachpan Bachao Andolan

 

 

People of no fixed address #AAdhaar #UID #Nandanilekani


Are these people expected to return to their villages and hometowns to hang around waiting for the Unique Identification Authority of India to set up shop?
Sunil Sethi /  December 08, 2012, Buisness Standard
Workers returning to their jobs in metros from remote villages in Bihar and Jharkhand have lately been complaining that they are barred from boarding trains unless they show sufficient identification, including proof of residence in cities. Whether this is a run-up to the Aadhaar scheme for direct cash transfers launched by the government with fanfare, or an effort to check uncontrolled urban migration, is not clear. But the demand, alongside a sense of insecurity, among the vast unorganised labour force for some sort of pehchan patra (identity proof) is growing.
These are mostly people of no fixed address — workers on construction sites, in domestic employment or in small trade, people you encounter daily. Earlier this year, when the local residents’ welfare association ran a month-long and relatively well-organised Aadhaar enrolment camp, there were many such people in the queues for biometric tests. They were firmly weeded out for inadequate proof of tenure — no electricity bill, voting card or bank account. At the regional passport office applicants are similarly eliminated. Are these people expected to return to their villages and hometowns to hang around waiting for the Unique Identification Authority to set up shop? If Delhi alone records an in-migration of about 2.5 million every decade and an estimated 30 per cent of its inhabitants live in slums, it will be a long shot before they can lay their hands on pensions, education and healthcare benefits delivered in cash via Aadhaar cards.
In the old days, before Delhi achieved new levels of prosperity, the only recourse people of no fixed address had for finding an identity was the ration card, an entitlement of grain and sugar through the public distribution system. Ration cards were easy to fix for a small pay-off — but they enabled urban migrants to get on to electoral rolls, equally easy to penetrate through the good offices of political parties in search of vote banks. As a vote-catching ploy for 2014 the Aadhaar pilot scheme sounds good; as a reality it may be harder to get off the ground. Reports from some of the 51 districts earmarked for initial coverage confirm that many village clusters had never heard of a bank, so direct bank transfers of subsidies may be easier said than done.
I recently tried to help a person of no fixed address (though he held a bona fide voter’s card and driving licence) open a bank account. Despite my sifarish and assurance of a guaranteed minimum deposit, the manager asked for his PAN card. When I protested at the absurdity of such a demand, he scrutinised the pehchan patras in hand. Bewilderingly, the driving licence had been issued in Nagaland. How an applicant from district Darbhanga, unable to point out Nagaland on a map let alone having ever been there, acquired such a document was anybody’s guess. He failed to open an account and soon afterwards lost his job. Any migrant to a city will tell you that he doesn’t depend on banks to remit money home, but well-oiled alternate hawala networks.
Aadhaar could help change all that. Except the unique identity (UID) project hasn’t got round to addressing how it will track down India’s floating millions or, trickier still, several million non-Indians afloat in the country. Nearly a dozen states, from Uttarakhand to Arunachal Pradesh, share fairly porous borders with Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh with a largely unaccounted – and possibly unaccountable – population. How will they be discounted?
The prime minister hailed the Aadhaar project of direct cash handouts to the poor as a “pioneering initiative” and he’s right. Rooting hard for the scheme, Jairam Ramesh calls it a “game changer” and he’s wrong. As an electoral game it may be too late. And it will be later still before people of no fixed address can carry home the cash.

 

Janmorcha -Chalo Delhi- Our Country is not for Sale- Aug 21


 

In opposition to the New Land Acquisition Bill

For Land Rights and Consent of Gram Sabha in Development Planning

Jantar Mantar, New Delhi | 21-22-23 August

Various Programmes, Marches, Demonstrations Across the Country too …

Comrades, Zindabad!

For many years now, the government has been trying to bring in a bill on land acquisition and resettlement and rehabilitation. The country’s farmers, fishermen, landless workers, Dalits, tribals, rural folks and urban poor have been consistently giving their feedback and suggestions regarding this and engaged the government in negotiation on its provisions. The struggles for protection of natural resources continue in every corner of the country. No part of the country has been untouched by people’s struggle including Narmada, Tehri, Damodar, Koel-karo, Singur, Nandigram, Sonebhadra, Chhindwara, Lakhimpur, Bhavnagar, Mundra, Kashipur, Raigarh, Srikakulam, Wang Marathwadi, Fatehabad, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, mining areas of Central India, Mumbai, Patna, Delhi, Bangalore and other urban settlements. The list of martyrs protecting their own land from the government is steadily increasing and the number of our friends in jail is also on the rise. Thanks to mass struggles, the government and corporate interests have not been successful in their nefarious intentions.

As a result of mass struggles, land acquisition has now become a political issue. What we need now is a law that emerges out of political consensus, not a biased pro-capitalist law with a superficial name change that only increases land acquisition. The Ministry of Rural Development has introduced a combined bill and named it “Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparent Land Acquisition Bill, 2012”. Trying to reflect the commitment of the government, the Bill claims to provide a legal guarantee to project affected people and ensure transparency in the land acquisition process. However; these claims are nothing but empty !

Showing complete disdain the Ministry of Rural Development has rejected the suggestions of people’s movements and recommendations of the all party Parliamentary Standing Committee. Our struggles are not only for protecting land, water, forests and minerals but over the years been proposing a truly democratic Development Planning / Land Protection ActThe government will have to understand that infrastructural development and the foundation of urbanization cannot be laid on the graves of citizens of this country.

We reject the proposals of the Ministry of Rural Development which are in complete contrast with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, such as :

  • Government will acquire land for private projects and for PPP. We believe government must not have any such role, it can’t transfer the most valuable livelihood resources such as land, water to the profiteering bodies in the garb of ‘public interest’ and ‘public purpose’ at the cost of the livelihood of the nature based sections and working class section of society.
  • Only multiple crop agricultural land will not be acquired. Since, 75% of the agricultural land in India is rain fed and most of it single cropped, mostly held by Dalits, Adivasis and marginal farms and so it t is essential to protect them and all farm land for food security, which comes not from PDS but self sufficient agriculture.

  • The provisions of new act will not apply to 13 out of 16 central Acts including Industrial Development Act, Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, National Highways Act. This means that the forcible land acquisitions and injustices will continue unabated.

  • If the acquired land is not used for five years then it will go to State Land Bank. Concept of land banks are illegal and land unutilised must go back to owners or distributed among landless people.

  • In key decision making bodies and processes, participation and consent of Gram / Basti Sabha is not recognised by the Ministry. We demand that consent and direct involvement of majority of the Gram Sabhas must be there in every project,including public projects for public purpose.

  • The provisions of Act will not apply retrospectively which means nearly 6-8 crore people who have not received proper R&R in various cases of displacement will not get justice. We demand that a National R &R Commission be formed to look in to all unsettled claims of R&R since independence.

Unfortunately, Once again the Bill has no provisions for the Urban Evictions and Displacements …

Neither the Ministry nor the Standing Committee Report has actual looked at the displacement in urban spaces. Most of these are not directly land acquisitions but they are cases of forceful evictions in the name of urban infrastructure development and beautification. We have witnessed large scale demolitions and evictions without any resettlement and rehabilitation in metros and smaller cities as well. In the name of real estate large tracts of land occupied by urban working class is being acquired, negating all provisions of the urban land ceiling act. We demand that let there be separate act which addresses the specifics of the urban conditions and ensure protection of land rights in the urban areas. Since, this Bill fails to deal with the urban situation, let this be called a ‘Rural Bill’ only.

So once again struggling mass movements from across the country will join in the Lokmorcha in New Delhi from August 21 to 23.Programs will be conducted by the Gram Sabhas and movements on those very days in respective areas warning the government against bringing anti-people laws and our resolve to protect the country’s natural resources from acquisition for private profit. The government must bring out a white paper with information of usage of all the land acquired since Independence, people displaced as a result, rehabilitation efforts and details of incomplete land reform and only then there can be any discussion on the land use changes even for public purpose. We won’t let the sacrifices of those martyred protecting land, water and forests in various struggles go waste, their families will be part of the country wide events and we will hold the government accountable.

Let us come together at Jantar Mantar, in front of the Parliament; and in our farms, villages, districts, cities and struggle areas and tell the government that we will not allow displacement in the name of development and will not allow the legislation of any destructive or pro-capitalist laws in our name. Do join in force with your banners, flags, slogans, struggle photographs, films, and literature. Let us show the capitalists and ruling classes that sacrifices for community control over natural resources will continue whenever they will attempt forcible acquisition !

We will fight for our freedom, for our community rights!

Required for the program: Volunteers for different tasks and support for food, tent, organising, etc. Please stay in touch for more information.

In solidarity, SANGHARSH members

Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Ashok Choudhary, Munnilal – National Forum of Forest people and Forest Workers (NFFPFW); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan, NAPM, Odisha; Roma, Shanta Bhattacharys, Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, UP – NFFPFW; Gautam Bandopadhyay – Nadi Ghati Morcha, NAPM, Chhattisgarh; Guman Singh – Him Neeti Abhiyan, HP; Ulka Mahajan, Suniti SR, Prasad Bagwe – SEZ Virodhi Manch and NAPM, Maharashtra; Dr.Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, MP; Gabriel Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; Shaktiman Ghosh – National Hawker Federation, NAPM; Bhupendra Rawat, Rajendra Ravi, Anita Kapoor – Jan Sangharsh Vahini and NAPM, Delhi; Akhil Gogoi – Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, NAPM, Assam; Arundhati Dhuru, Sandeep Pandey – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Sumit Banjale, Madhuri Shivkar, Simpreet Singh – Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan, NAPM, Mumbai;Mata Dayal – Birsa Munda Land Rights Forum and NFFPFW, MP; Dr.Rupesh Verma – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, UP; Manish Gupta – Jan Kalyan Upbhokta Samiti, NAPM, UP; Vimal Bhai – Maatu Jan sangathan, NAPM, Uttarakhand;Vilas Bhongade – Gosikhurd Prakalpgrast Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, Maharashtra; Ramashray Singh – Ghatwar Adivasi Mahasabha, Jharkhand; Anand Mazhgaonkar, Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Rajneesh, Ramchander Rana, Kadma Devi, Tharu, Aadivasi, evam Tarai Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Manch, UP, NFFPFW

For more details contact : – Sangharsh, C/O, NAPM 6/6 Jangpura B, New Delhi – 110014

Sheila – 9212587159/9818411417, Sanjeev – 99958797409, Shweta – 9911528696

email : action2007@gmail.comnapmindia@gmail.com

Stand up for people from the North-East India #mustshare


 

The campaign logo itself invites and let you get into the shoe of a little brown fish, discriminated and humiliated just because she was born with a different look and color from the rest. This is the same treatment the people who originate from North East India receive. It is time we unite and stand for our rights!

THE BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT:

Today the people of North-East (NE) India face several issues of racial discrimination, harassment and violence outside their home states as a result of lack of awareness among the citizens of India about the region of NE and its culture. Each day we suffer and each day we wonder why we are made to feel as “foreigners” in our own nation. Is this what we would like to call “home sweet home”?

Within the states of North-East India, short-sighted government policies such as ‘The Armed Forces Special Powers Act’, the lack of control of illegal migration from Bangladesh and general governmental neglect has resulted in increased alienation of the people from the democratic processes. What could be blamed – xenophobia, racism or simply, lack of awareness?

INCEPTION:

SDPFNEI (Stop Discriminating People from North-East India) started as an online discussion group (www.facebook.com/sdpftnei) to address issues of discrimination faced by North-East Indians. We believe, although the circumstances are harsh but a sense of perpetuated victimization can only be counter-productive.

Recognizing online social networking platforms such as Facebook to be a feasible, easily accessible and vital platform to create general awareness and dispel the visage of racial stereotype(s). While addressing key issues/complaints faced by the people by highlighting them and followed by public debates, we realize the need to generate active interest in the NE region.

The members realized that the awareness of the land of the Seven Sisters has remained almost non-existent among the Indian citizens even after 60 years of the nation’s independence. The achievement and sacrifices of the people from this region in nation building (Defence, Technology, Sports and Administrative Services etc) has been largely ignored by the nation’s media, its educational systems and the political leadership. The group has resolved to proactively address these issues via constructive engagement with the government, national institutions and the conscious citizens of India.

KEY ISSUES:

A) We face harassment and discrimination almost every day. Our women are subject to frequently sexual assaults. Some of our fellow citizens continue to verbally abuse and stereotype us by calling us “Chinky”, “Nepali”, “Bahadur”, “Chinese” and various other slurs have become a daily occurrence. Many Indians are hypersensitive to any perceived (real or imaginary) racial slur they may receive outside India. However within India, the same people remain largely oblivious to the far more frequent and intense racial insults, harassment and violence heaped on India’s citizens from north-east India.

B) The continued sexual assaults and heinous crimes against the women of the North East India increases at an alarming rate. Metropolitan Indian cities have a tendency to be notorious regarding women’s safety in general but the recent spike in such untoward incidents indicate that sexual predators find the “different” looking (Mongoloid facial features) women as an ‘easier prey’.

C) The fruits of modern infrastructure & economic development have largely bypassed the NE region. Leaders in New Delhi should handle the issues pertaining to the region with more sensitivity and maturity. Rather than compounding the problem by their myopic view of the region via a security lens only.

D) Six decades after the nations independence, many of its citizens are still forced to conduct their daily life with guns pointed at them by their own Government. The indigenous inhabitants of the North East are still forced to live with the draconian Armed Forces special Powers Act (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura) along with Jammu and Kashmir) which is a misguided mechanism that has done more harm than good. Decades of ASFPA has only helped propagate a culture of violence and hate. Fundamental rights of the people need to be recognized. India as the largest democratic country cannot overlook the loopholes in the myopic vision by the central leaders of the past.

E) The mainstream media only covers news about violence and insurgency in the North East region instead of covering thousands of other stories that more truly reflect its rich vibrant culture, history and unique landscape. It’s a shame that for many decades India’s government, politicians, and rest of the country still continue to ignore the NE states. It has mostly been a case of out-of-sight and out-of-mind as far as the mainstream media is concerned.

F) The North East region is a beautiful place with rich eco-geographical landscapes, physical and human resources. We are a friendly people blessed with multi-faceted talents that range from music, education, fashion, sports etc. Visitors would find the people friendly with rich cultural heritage. The fabled head hunting warriors or barbaric tribesmen are but a myth.

WE ARE NOT ANTI-INDIA:

1. We believe that raising awareness is the key to identifying and perusing the solutions to the above issues. Hiding the issues “under the carpet” makes matters only worse.

2. This forum is not anti-India. Though we focus on issues relating to North-East Indians, we believe that addressing issues of discriminations faced by any group or community in India is actually a patriotic act that truly contributes to nation-building.

3. A nation becomes strong when all its communities in various forms are truly made to feel as equal citizens of the nation.

Many years ago Rabindranath Tagore wrote a Nobel prize winning poem that began and ended thus:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
——————————————————
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

SDPFNEI strives to achieve the above ideals which as yet have remained unrealized many years since the nation’s birth. The views expressed by the members of the forum are solely their own and are not endorsed by the Stop Discrimination of People from North-East India.

Can you sign the petition to help add more pressure on the Government? 

We need all the responsible citizens like you to join the movement to end racial discrimination in this generation.More signatures will add strength to the opposition to this campaign.

Please do include your full name, email and your current city while signing up.

GET INVOLVED, SIGN THE PETITION: We have launched the Signature Campaign on April 23 in New Delhi. Now the signature campaign will go on till nov 13, 2011 nationwide and we expect to achieve upto 3 Lacs of signatures. This is the only way we can make the government listen to our cries.

To read and sign the petition, please visit

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/neindia/

join us on facebook

https://www.facebook.com/SDPFTNEI

 

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