Indian Film on Tarapur Nuclear Project “High Power’ nominated for Yellow Oscar #mustshare


Documentary on Tarapur Nuclear Project affected people

‘High Power’ nominated for Yellow Oscar

World Premier on 23rd May at Rio-de-Janerio, Brazil

About 50 years ago India’s first nuclear power plant established at Tarapur. In the emotional patriotic feelings the locals happily gave their fertile lands. Today after 50 years we heard some news that the second generation of those patriotic farmers are agitating at Tarapur for their basic amenities. We the city dwellers read such news and forget next day. But what exactly happened in Tarapur in last 50 years in Tarapur? What happened to the dreams which were shown to them in those days? That’s is untold. To enlighten the world outside about the dark sorrows of the villagers whose village is now producing light, a documentary was planned, which further named as ‘High Power’. The film which was made to give voice to the pains of those thousands of people is produced through people’s participation. Then some veteran artist from Hindi, Marathi stage and cinema world came forward to mix their voice with these people. The National Award winner actor Vikram Gokhale and leading Marathi actress Ila Bhate narrated for Marathi version of the film and senior actor from Hindi and English film and stage Tom Alter and Shivani Tibarewala narrated the English version of   film. Along with these celebrities few technicians and producers from film industry helped a lot to make this film happened.  Now the film is translated in seven languages which includes some foreign languages like French, German, Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese along with Hindi and English. So now the film is truly International and now set to talk to global media and audience, but as the Censor Board has raised objections film cannot be released in India.

Though the project is named as Tarapur, it is not standing on the land of Tarapur village. Few villages in the vicinity of town Tarapur were displaced about 50 years back. Their issues related to rehabilitation are still pending, they lost their traditional business of fishing at the same time they did not get new jobs in this project, there are very serious issues related to their health like cancer, TB, kidney failures and also impotency. A protagonist is roaming in villages and whatever he sees there that is the film. The film never talks on this issues or gives its comments but as per the common middleclass mentality film only suggests what a common, middleclass person can do at his best.

The film High Power is sent to participate in different International Film Festivals and it was a great pleasure that it got nominated for ‘Yellow Oscar’. Every year in the city of Rio-de-Janerio of Brazil an International Uranium Film festival calls nuclear related films from all over world. This year more than 150 films participated in this festival, out of which 48 got selected in three sections of feature film, short film and animation film, in which High Power selected in short film section of 19 films. Today High power is within best eight of entire festival. On 23rd May High power will be screened in festival at rio-de-Janerio and it will be its World Premier. To be present in this world premier and the festival, film director Pradeep Indulkar and one of the displaced fisherman from Popharan village Chandrasen Arekar are going to Brazil. This is an opportunity for the representative of displaced people Arekar to talk to the global media and the international audience.

For this trip the expected expense is around two and half lakh rupees. The team High Power appeal the city dwellers who are using the power of Tarapur Nuclear Plant from last 50 years and those who really feel that the local people who scarified their land, homes and in some cases lives should be heard, could take the burden of this expenditure together and the sensitive people could come forward to bear this expenses. Those who wish to contribute for this venture can drop a cheque in favor of High power – Big Dreams at the address 29, Kaushik, Shreenagar, Sector-1, Thane – 400 604 along with their name and address or transfer the fund through net banking in A/c No 003120100013362 (High Power-Big Dreams) in Thane Janata Sahakari Bank’s Naupada, Thane branch (IFS Code-TJSB0000003) and inform us on e-mail highpower.bigdreams@gmail.com

 

 

Nestle Chairman wants to sell the world’s water #humanright


Please sign this petition addressed to the European Union, calling it to accept that access to water is a human right. See:http://www.right2water.eu/

Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, has rejected this view in an interview. Under his principles, water is a foodstuff to be sold at a price. He claims that by placing a value on water it will be treated with more respect. People who are poor and have difficulty accessing water should be given help, he says. Of course, Nestlé aims to make a buck from this process and is actively and agressively appropriating community water supplies, often in the face of opposition and legal challenges from those communities. It tries to divert criticism of these tactics with its CSV strategy, that is its Creative Storystelling Venture, or what it prefers to call Creating Shared Value.

From monitoring Nestlé’s baby milk marketing activities and working with partners around the world to force it and other companies to abide by minimum marketing standards, I have seen Nestlé’s strategies employed in their full range from slick PR to dirty tricks. I’ve also followed the water issue with interest, particularly the ten year campaign that ultimately stopped Mr Brabeck’s destructive water pumping operation in the Brazilian spa town of São Lourenço – where I bought my cap.

If water is seen as a human right and a public good then it has to be managed in the public interest. In too many cases community water resources are appropriated by Nestlé and other companies. There is information on Nestlé’s involvement in water on the Nestlé Critics website: http://www.nestlecritics.org/

Water as a human right and public good

Baby Milk Action has backed the campaign for water to be a human right and a public good for many years and raised concerns about Nestlé’s water operations at the company’s shareholder meeting.

For example, we organised a joint event with Christian Aid, War on Want and the World Development Movement in 2006. Our special guest at that event was Franklin Fredrick, a campaigner from Brazil trying to stop Nestlé’s destructive Pure Life water bottling operation in the historic water park in São Lourenço. Organisations signed up to a declaration commiting to work on this issue and to calling on governments “to guarantee, through appropriate laws, the human right to water and the declaration on water as a public good, and to work for the drawing up of an international convention on water to be adopted by the UN”. This campaign continues on many fronts.

Pure Life is one of Nestlé’s global brands of water. It promotes it as the official sponsor of the London Marathon (click here for our 2011 press release and leaflet).

We have asked the London Marathon to consider another sponsor and even reported it to the Charity Commission for refusing to be transparent over its policy on sponsors as required by the Charity Commission. The Charity Commission said it could not investigate as the sposorship is organised by London Marathon Ltd, which is separate to the company and not covered by charity law, even though it is 100% owned by the London Marathon Charitable Trust and passes all profits to the Trust.

While the Chief Executive of the London Marathon has indicated he is willing to discuss this issue, he has also said there is no point as the contract with Nestlé is not up for renewal for some time. A boycott supporter sets up an alternative water point along the course, but is not feasible for us to provide alternatives around the route. It is for marathon runners to campaign for alternative supplies if they do not want to be forced to drink Nestlé’s Pure Life water.

Nestlé’s illegal Pure Life water operation in Brazil

Nestlé launched Pure Life water in Brazil after sinking wells in 1996 in the water park in São Lourenço, which it acquired in its takeover of Perrier in 1992. Nestlé’s business model is to become the biggest or second biggest corporation in the world in any sector it enters and bottled water became one of its targets for global domination. São Lourenço has grown up and makes its living from the great variety of mineral springs that come to the surface in the water park, a virtually unique geological feature. There are mineral baths and a series of chapels over the springs to take the healing waters.

Sao Lourenco environmental mapNestlé’s bottling factory is in the area of maximum environmental vulnerability, as shown on the map, left.

Most of the spring water is not very pleasant to drink due to the high mineral content. One spring, the Primavera Spring, does produce mineral water and it was that which Perrier was bottling as São Lourenço water. When Nestlé took control, it sank two 162 metre deep wells and began pumping water at such a high rate (half a million litres per day) it had to build a wall around the plant extending 7 metres into the ground to prevent surface water being sucked into the well. Such was the suction that trees within this wall dried up and died.

Nestlé demineralised the water – in breach of federal laws that value mineral water as a natural resource – added its own salt ingredients and began dispersing it around Brazil backed by a marketing campaign to create demand.

Meanwhile the other springs began to dry up or change their mineral profiles at the massive draw off of water and some of the chapel buildings suffered subsidence and cracking (as Franklin points out, left).

It took ten years to stop Nestlé’s pumping, finally under the threat of daily fines until it did so.

I visited São Lourenço while the destruction was still in full swing. The townspeople were so angry at the fall off in trade to their hotels and restuarants they had petitioned the local prosecutor to take action. He managed to stop the pumping for two days following an investigation, but Nestlé appealed to a higher court and the years passed by. BBC Radio 4 recorded an edition of Face the Facts on the case in 2005. The listen again archive seems to have gone now, but the transcript is available at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/facethefacts/transcript_20050722.shtml

Nestlé’s spies infiltrate campaign group

Franklin joined us at the meeting in 2006 to launch the petition on water as a human right and public good. Nestlé wrote to our partners in the event attacking Franklin Fredrick with false claims. For example, Nestlé dismissed his accusations against the company stated: “a third party audit by Bureau Veritas confirms that we have acted in accordance with Brazilian legislation…” Yet when I managed to raise this in a question to Nestlé’s Latin American manager and now Chief Executive, Paul Bulcke, from the floor of a meeting held by the Prince of Wales Business Leaders’ Forum, Bureau Veritas, also present in the audience, admitted, “our work did not constitute a legal audit as such, nor did it include a review of the on-going civil action”. The civil action had actually been concluded at that point and Nestlé ordered to stop pumping under the threat of daily fines.

 As well as its personal attack on Franklin, Nestlé also placed spies in ATTAC Switzerland, which included the water issues in its book on the Nestlé Empire and invited Franklin to the launch. Franklin gave an interview to Swiss WRS radio when the issue came to court in January 2012 – for details, click here. The court ordered Nestlé and Securitas, its security company, to pay damages and court costs to the victims and, case proven, the companies are not appealing – click here.

Nestlé’s Creative Storytelling Venture – the true meaning of its CSV strategy

Nestlé does not like critics and hired PR guru Raphael Pagan in the 1970s to develop a strategy to respond to disasterous publicity over its baby milk marketing, which was coming to public attention at that time. The strategy developed continues to be followed today.

Part of it involves portraying the company as a force for good and Nestlé unveiled its latest Creating Shared Value report at the shareholder meeting.

We have produced a preliminary analysis we call Nestlé’s Creative Storytelling Venture, the true meaning of CSV. It shows that what Nestlé says it does and what it actually does are two very different things.

Nestlé’s report is full of references to water and Mr Brabeck’s leadership role in this area. He states in his introduction to the report:

“We believe that we can create value for our shareholders and society by doing business in ways that specifically help address global and local issues in the areas of nutrition, water and rural development. This is what we mean when we speak about Creating Shared Value (CSV). We proactively identify opportunities to link our core business activities to action on related social issues.”

Nestlé boasts of cutting its own water consumption, which is to be welcomed, if true. Unfortunately it is difficult to know what can be believed as on the baby milk issue – of which I have direct knowledge – Nestlé’s report is thoroughly dishonest (details in our analysis).

Nestlé highlights that its report is audited by Bureau Veritas. But given its negligent job in performing Nestlé’s so-called legal audit in São Lourenço, that is not saying much.

Nestlé seizes the water agenda

Mr Brabeck is presents himself as a guru on water. For example, he has become a vociferous campaigner against biofuels, claiming they use too much water and land that should be used for farming, while being a poor response to climate change. That is an argument that should be made, but it is laughable coming from the leader of a company that by its very nature is opposed to local production and consumption of food, instead shipping highly processed foods around the planet.

Mr Brabeck also leads the World Economic Forum (WEF) Water Resources Group, is a founder signatory of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate and sponsors World Water Week in Stockholm, as well as other initiatives to promote bottled water, such as the London Marathon.

Franklin Fredrick continues to campaign to protect water resources and his article on the Water Resources Group was published recently. See:
http://europeanwater.org/european-water-resources/reports-publications/204-water-alternatives

Original source- http://info.babymilkaction.org/

 

 

 

Deadly Sins in the Brazilian Amazon #mustread


By Bianca Jagger, Reader Supported News

16 April 13

 

The trampling of indigenous rights, military force used against protesters, impunity, megadams and environmental destruction. Is Brazil returning to the bad old days?

 

he Belo Monte dam

The controversial Belo Monte Dam, which is under construction on the Xingu River in the Brazilian state of Pará, is roughly twenty percent completed. Belo Monte will displace over 20,000 people, gravely endanger the survival of indigenous peoples and local communities and cause irreparable environmental damage to the Brazilian Amazon.

Belo Monte will be the third largest hydroelectric plant in the world and the second-largest hydroelectric dam in Brazil. At an estimated cost of upwards of $18 billion US dollars, the dam will stand 90 metres high, 3,545 meters long, with a planned installed capacity of over 11,000 megawatts. Belo Monte is not merely a dam. It is a megadam. It is a travesty of human rights and anenvironmental crime. The land along the Xingu River is home to 25,000 indigenous people from 40 ethnic groups, who have lived and worked in harmony with the river for thousands of years. The Arara, Juruna and Xikrin, who are closest to Belo Monte, depend on the river for their survival: fishing, trade, and transport. The river is their lifeline.


Belo Monte Map, by International Rivers

 

Not for much longer. Belo Monte has already begun to seriously damage livelihoods and the environment. Local riverbank populations such as the indigenous Jericoá community say that the Xingu is no longer a source of potable water, due to contamination from construction at the Pimental site upstream. Explosions, diversion of the river flow, sedimentation and pollution caused by the preliminary earth ‘coffer dams’ have already had devastating impacts on fish populations in the Xingu. There is little left to eat, and no more living to be made from the river. Cofferdams have diverted approximately 5 kilometres of the Xingu’s main channels into one narrow channel of 450 meters, making boat transport extremely dangerous. The Jericoá, like other indigenous communities and local populations, are also dependent on boat transport for trade, basic health and education services. In astatement issued by the Jericoá community on March 21st, they call the actions of the Brazilian government and Norte Energia, the state-controlled company behind the dam, an attempt ‘to assassinate the Xingu and the people that depend upon the river for their survival.”

Belo Monte will create a 100 km “dry stretch” below the reservoir, where the Xingu will be reduced to dry season levels all year round. The land on this dry stretch includes two indigenous reserves, the Arara and the Juruna da Terra Indígena Paquiçamba, and a number of communities who are dependent upon the river for their livelihood and for transport. There is no road which will replace the river. The Xingu will become unrecognisable and for many, uninhabitable.


Antonia Melo protesting, by Ruy Marques Sposati

 

I have campaigned against Belo Monte for many years. In March 2012 I went on a fact finding mission to the Xingu. Construction on the dam had then just begun. I travelled down the Xingu in a small boat. I was accompanied by my courageous friend Antonia Melo, co-ordinator of Xingu Vivo, a collective of local NGOs opposed to Belo Monte, and Ruy Marques Sposati. We saw the great red scarred coffer dams, the beginnings of Belo Monte, rearing out of the river. I met with indigenous leaders, with local communities, NGOs, government officials, extractavists – and the Bishop of the Xingu, Dr Erwin Krautler, whose concern and care for the people affected by Belo Monte was evident. I was distraught by the suffering I witnessed in the area. This dam will not only destroy the Xingu, it will change the Amazon basin forever. I published my findings in a report on the Huffington Post: The Belo Monte Dam, an Environmental Crime. I urge you to read it. The people of the Xingu need our support.

Sex Slavery

The Belo Monte dam has brought abhorrent practises to the Xingu. On March 13, 2013, a 16-year-old girl escaped from a ‘brothel’ on the Belo Monte construction site where, it was subsequently discovered, she and fourteen others had been imprisoned in ‘small windowless rooms with no ventilation, with only a double bed, and… padlocks on the outside of the doors.’ The women had been lured from all over the state of Para with promises of legitimate employment and security. Instead, on arrival at Belo Monte they were incarcerated, raped and exploited. A congressional panel has summoned the directors of the Belo Monte Consortium to explain how sex slavery could be conducted on the very premises of the Belo Monte dam. But I fear justice will not be done. The dam has enormous financial incentives, and the Brazilian government behind it.

This is not an isolated incident. The influx of tens of thousands of migrant workers into the nearby city of Altamira and throughout the region has caused an explosion of violent crime and sex trafficking.

Working Conditions

Conditions on the construction sites of Belo Monte are atrocious. According to Brazilian newspaper Adital, many of the dam workers support the protesters cause, comparing Belo Monte’s labour conditions to a ‘prison.’ They say they would leave, but they are migrant workers, with nowhere else to go. In November 2012 work on Belo Monte stopped when disputes about pay and poor working conditions escalated into a riot among the construction workers, who ‘set fire to vehicles and mattresses, vandalized offices and canteens, burnt a bus and blocked the Trans-Amazon highway.’

Protest

At four in the morning, on March 21, 2013, a hundred and fifty protesters, led by the Jericoá community, occupied the construction site of the Belo Monte Dam. The group comprised women and men – people of all ages. There were representatives of the Juruna, Xypaia, Kuruaia and Canela tribes, as well as local fishermen and displaced farmers.

The March 21st protest was the sixth time since construction began in July 2011 that work on Belo Monte has been halted by protests. In June 2012, on the eve of the Rio+20 conference demonstrators broke through one of the coffer dams to restore the flow of the river, chanting ‘Free the Xingu.’ A few days later, Xicrin and Juruna indigenous protestors occupied the Pimental coffer dams for over a month, calling attention to the project’s impacts and the broken promises of the Brazilian government and its private sector partners responsible for construction of Belo Monte. (I wrote an article about this protest and the failure of Rio +20,‘The Future We Want,’ which can be found on the Huffington Post.) In January 2013, twenty leaders of the Juruna tribe blocked access roads to the construction site at Pimental, halting work for three days.

The people of the Xingu are invading the construction sites of Belo Monte because they are desperate. They face the destruction of their homeland and the end of their way of life. The Belo Monte dam will displace them, in their tens of thousands; it will strip them of their livelihoods. And their voices are being ignored by the Brazilian government.

The protest on March 21st was the latest of a long line of demonstrations and legal battles against Belo Monte, stretching back nearly forty years. The people of the Xingu have opposed the dam since the 1970’s. The plan for Belo Monte was devised in 1975, during the years of Brazil’s dictatorship. It was then known as the Kararao dam. The project was abandoned in 1989 after widespread protest. But the scheme was redesigned between 1989 and 2002. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed the contract for the Belo Monte dam with the Norte Energia consortium in 2010.

At every stage the Belo Monte dam has been opposed by the people who now live in its ever growing shadow.

The government reacted immediately to the Belo Monte protest on the morning of March 21st. They sent troops from the National Guard (Força Nacional de Segurança Pública) to the construction site to subdue it. According to a mandate from the Federal Ministry, the troops will remain onsite at Belo Monte for at least 90 days – they could stay indefinitely.

The Culture of Intimidation

The people of the Xingu are being silenced with military force. Not because they are a threat, but because their protests halt construction. It is obvious that the Brazilian government has decided that respecting the rights of indigenous peoples is not good for business. The tactics at Belo Monte are indicative of the troubling erosion of indigenous peoples’ rights, which is happening not only in the Xingu, but at dam sites all over Brazil. Across the country, the national guard and the federal police (Polícia Federal) are being used as a show of force to oppress critics and protesters.

According to Brent Millikan of International Rivers, this signals a new trend of intimidation; NGOs and protesters are being threatened with fines and imprisonment. Social action, he says, is being criminalised. Local magistrates are being called upon to issue writs of ‘Mandado Proibitivo,’ which amount to restraining orders for protesters, preventing them from demonstrating near the construction sites.

The Belo Monte consortium has engaged in espionage against the Belo Monte workers, protesters and local organisations opposed to the dam. In February a man was caught recording the annual meeting of Xingu Vivo, a local NGO. He immediately confessed that he had been hired by the Belo Monte consortium to infiltrate the organisation and feed information back to the consortium – and the Brazilian government’s national intelligence agency ABIN.

Condemned by Intergovernmental Rrganisations

The dam has been denounced by the human rights commission of the Organisation of American States (OAS). The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) and the ILO have condemned Belo Monte. When the OAS pronounced the lack of consultation with the indigenous people a violation of the international accords, the Brazilian government retaliated by cutting off its dues payments to the OAS and boycotted a meeting arranged by OAS in Washington DC, in October 2011. The ILO stated in a 2012 report that Brazil has violated Convention 169 which guarantees indigenous peoples the right to free, prior and informed consultation over projects that affect their lands and rights.

There are currently at least 12 lawsuits pending in Brazilian courts pertaining to the Belo Monte Dam, citing, among other complaints: improper licensing, lack of consultation with local communities and affected peoples, and serious environmental concerns. In 2012 construction was halted by court order on August 14th then resumed on August 28th.

Despite the people of the Xingu’s desperate opposition, despite condemnation from intergovernmental organisations and the international community at large, despite the urgent warnings of scientists that this dam is an environmental catastrophe, the construction of Belo Monte is being pushed forward.

It is clear that the Brazilian government and the Belo Monte Consortium are determined to force it through at any cost.

Environmental Destruction

The Xingu is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Three streams, the Tamitatoaba, the Romero and the Colisu converge to form the Xingu River. For 1,979 kilometres the river wanders through grasslands, savannahs, wooded archipelagos, pouring over the great cataracts at the Fall of Itamaraca. Near its mouth the river mingles with the waters of the Amazon in a network of eanos, or natural canals. It is an immense, interconnected ecosystem supporting thousands of species: human, animal and plant life.


The Xingu, by Bianca Jagger

 

I consider the Amazon and the Xingu to be wonders of the world.

Belo Monte will destroy the forest, cause the extinction of many rare species of animals and plants, affect the global environment and contribute to climate change. The dam is already decimating the fish populations and hundreds of other species. The black and white-patterned Zebra Pleco fish, which is found only on the Xingu River, is likely to die out. The Sunshine Pleco (Scobinancistrus aureatus), the Slender Dwarf Pike Cichlid (Teleocichla centisquama), the Plant-eating Piranha (Ossubtus xinguense) and the Xingu Dart-Poison frog (Allobates crombiei) are other species whose existence is threatened by the dam. As the Jericoá community knows all too well, the fish near Belo Monte are nearly gone. It will not be long before the other species follow suit.

Dams Across Brazil

Belo Monte is part of a plan for an overhaul of Brazil’s infrastructure: at least 34 dams are planned across the country, which will inundate at least 6,470 sq km of the world’s largest tropical forest. All over Brazil, even now, the Amazon’s waterways are being blocked and diverted. The river system that provides a fifth of the world’s fresh water is being dammed, polluted and fouled up.

Everywhere, the protests of the Brazilian riverine communities are being drowned out by the sound of construction – and they are being suppressed with military and police presence.

São Luíz do Tapajós, Jatobá and Chacorão – the Munduruku

Further into the Amazon Basin, west of Belo Monte on the Tapajós river, another major Amazonian tributary, the ancestral home of the Munduruku indigenous people is being threatened by three planned mega-dams: São Luíz do Tapajós, Jatobá and Chacorão. The dams are planned by the parastatal energy company, Eletronorte and its private sector partners, among them Brazilian construction giant Camargo Correa and the engineering firm CNEC, owned by Worley Parsons of Australia. Eletronorte also holds a 49.98% stake in Norte Energia, the consortium behind Belo Monte.


Tapajos Basin, by International Rivers

 

There are approximately 11,630 Munduruku people across Amazonas, Pará and Mato Grosso do Sul. If constructed, the dams will flood much of the Munduruku territory. Despite legal mandates by international bodies such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 169, the Munduruku have not been consulted by the Brazilian government on the construction of these three dams.

The Munduruku are vehemently opposed to these huge dam projects. They have seen the damage that Belo Monte has done to the Xingu.

Brutal raid at Teles Pires

In October 2012 the inhabitants of the Munduruku indigenous village known as Teles Pires, located on a river of the same name – a major tributary of the Tapajós that divides the states of Pará and Mato Grosso do Sul -expelled researchers inspecting the site of the São Luíz do Tapajós dam, which would flood over 700 square kilometres of the forest.

A month later, on the 7th of November 2012 a helicopter and dozens of men in flak jackets, armed with machine guns and assault rifles, descended upon Teles Pires.

The villagers, including women, children and elderly people, were teargassed, subdued and told to lie on the ground. They lay there in the sun for many hours. They were forbidden to speak to one another in their own language. The village radio was confiscated, and the phone wires cut. Memory cards, phones, and cameras were destroyed and thrown into the river.


Police in Amazon, by Paulo Suess

 

This brutal raid was carried out not by guerrillas or militia in a military dictatorship, but by the Brazilian Federal Police and the National Guard.

Those villagers who resisted were deal with harshly. Some were beaten and shot at, sprayed with pepper spray. Several people were seriously injured and one man, Adenilson Kirixi Munduruku was killed. His body was thrown in the river, perhaps for the purposes of concealment; it resurfaced the next day. According to reports a bomb was let off to confuse the scene of the crime.

Meanwhile the police destroyed a river dredge in front of the village, which had been used to extract gold – which was the ostensible cause for the police operation. Mining is not permitted in the area. All the contents of the dredge were also destroyed including a fridge and a gas cooker. The river was left swimming in petrol and chemicals.


Villagers being herded by air force, by Paulo Suess

 

Was the small gold dredge the real reason for the raid? According to Munduruku leaders, the operation was a blunt message from President Dilma Rousseff’s administration to indigenous peoples: either suspend immediately protests against the government’s ambitious dam-building plans for Tapajós and its tributaries – or face the consequences. As at Belo Monte, it seems the Brazilian government has been quick to answer resistance with a show of military and police force.

A Declaration of War

In late March 2013 following a presidential decree signed by President Rousseff, the Brazilian Air Force deployed a task force of some 240 troops, with participation of the National Guard (Força Nacional), Federal Police and Federal Highway Police to the tiny Itaituba airport near the Munduruku village of Sawyré Mubú. The purpose of the mission, known as Operation Tapajós, has been to provide security for 80 members of private consultancy firms engaged in technical studies for the São Luiz and Jatobá mega-dam projects. As in Belo Monte, there is no indication how long the troops will remain

The Munduruku have suspended talks with the government until the troops are withdrawn. Their public statement reads: ‘We are not criminals. We feel betrayed, humiliated and disrespected. We want dialogue… Our final warning. If the operation does not stop… we will have war.’

All of this military and police presence is being imposed upon indigenous and tribal people – unarmed communities. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is being openly flouted. Belo Monte and Munduruku are being occupied – by corporate interest.

The Brazilian government’s parastatal energy giant Eletrobras doesn’t want the delays the protesters cause to planning and construction at Belo Monte or at the sites of the planned Tapajós megadams. They are steamrolling human rights for profit – with the blessing of the Brazilian government.

The Madeira Dam

The Madeira complex in the state of Rondônia will consist of four dams: the Santo Antonio and Jirau which are already well underway, the Cachuela Esperanza Dam on the Beni River near Riberalta, Bolivia which is nearly ready for construction and the Guajará-Mirim Dam on the Madeira River upstream from Abunã, which is in the planning stages. When it is completed in 2015, theJirau hydroelectric dam will span 8km of the Madeira river and contain the largest number of giant turbines of any dam in the world. 2,250km of power lines will run between the Jirau and São Paulo.

I visited the Madeira River on my fact finding mission to Brazil in 2012. I attended an open meeting in the town hall, where I met with local communities and indigenous people. The stories I heard were tragically familiar: people were being evicted from their ancestral homeland: some had brought their orders of eviction to show me. Some told of their houses being flooded, and avalanches caused by the dams. Others told me of the sudden decline in the fish populations. I listened to their concerns, their accounts of the destruction of their livelihoods and their cultural identity by the Madeira Dam complex.

Slave Labour

Like Belo Monte, the Madeira dam complex is being constructed by exploitative labour. Workers flooded into the region drawn by the promise of employment. In September 2009, Brazilian authorities found 38 people working in ‘slave-like labour conditions’ in the construction site of Vila Mutum. According to the report the workers living arrangements were ‘subhuman… an overcrowded wooden shelter, with no beds, no adequate electricity or sanitary facilities.’ In 2011 riots broke out on the San Antonio and Jirau dam construction sites. According to Amazon Watch, protesting workers set fire to buses, living quarters and offices.

Several isolated indigenous peoples live near the Madeira, including the Mujica Nava and the uncontacted Jacareuba/Katawixi Indians. What will happen to them when the dams are built? What will they do when the river changes forever?

All this, and yet the Jirau and the downstream Santo Antonio complex will provide just 5 percent of what government energy planners say Brazil will need in the next 10 years.

Intimidation Across Brazil

The culture of intimidation is not restricted to dam sites. The heavy handed measures being taken by the Brazilian government may signal a return to the old, dark days, to a culture of impunity in which persecution, harassment and even the murder of protesters is escalating – all across Brazil.

According to the Catholic Church’s Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), the number of activists threatened in conflicts over land rose from 125 to 347 between 2010 and 2011.

Cícero Guedes, a leader of the landless movement, or MST, which campaigns for land reform and the rights of landless workers, was shot dead in Campos north-east of Rio de Janeiro on the evening of the 25th of January 2013. He was cycling home.

Mr Guedes, a sugar-cane cutter, had recently led an occupation of the nearby Usina Cambahyba sugar plant, in protest at a judge’s ruling that the estate should be expropriated.

Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife Maria were gunned down on a bridge near the reserve of Nova Ipixuna in 2011. Two men were convicted, and landowner Jose Rodrigues Moreira was accused of hiring the assassins to shoot the couple after they opposed the eviction of three families who lived on his farm.

Some had hoped Moreira’s trial would prove to be a landmark in Brazilian land dispute killings – but he was acquitted on April 4th, 2013.

A delegation of laureates from the Right Livelihood Award, otherwise known as the alternative Nobel Prize, organised a mission to Marabá to report on the trial. Marianne Andersson (former Member of the Swedish Parliament), Angie Zelter (Trident Ploughshares) and Dr Raul Montenegro (President of FUNAM, Fundación para la defensa del ambiente) were shocked by the results of the trial. ‘It is unacceptable that people committed to the common good can receive a bullet to the head because they are defending the rights of the dispossessed,’ Dr Montenegro said. ‘The Brazilian government and the Brazilian justice system must put an end to impunity, and the murders.’

Mercedes Queiroz, a friend of the da Silvas, told Al Jazeera English: “Everyone is upset with the verdict. Once more there is a feeling that impunity reigns in the Amazon region.”

In November 2011, Nisio Gomes, a leader of the Guarani Kaiowa tribe was shot dead by a group of 42 armed men who broke into camp in the middle of the night. The men reportedly shot him in the head, chest, arms and legs, before taking his body away in a truck. His body has not been recovered. The Guarani Kaiowa were occupying their ancestral land in Ponta Pora, in the southern state of Mato Grosso do Sul – they had been evicted when the land was given over to cattle ranchers.

In July 2012 ten men from a private security firm were arrested for the murder. They claim landowners hired them to kill Mr Gomes. Six landowners have subsequently been arrested.

It should come as no surprise that land disputes in Brazil are rife, and highly dangerous: when one percent of the population controls 46 percent of the country’s cultivated land. This is a glaring inequity, and it seems the rights of indigenous peoples are the first to be sacrificed in the name of development and profit. If the Brazilian government does not take action to protect those rights, and prosecute criminals with the full weight of the law, murders like these will become all too common.

Mining in Indigenous Territories

The indigenous peoples of Brazil may soon face even greater challenges in their struggle to retain their ancestral land. There is a draft bill on mining currently working its way through the Brazilian Congress, known as Projeto de Lei 1610. Its aim is to open up and regulate large scale mining in indigenous territories.

According to Fiona Watson of Survival International, ‘One of the objectives of the government’s drive to build so many hydro-electric dams in the Amazon is to provide cheap subsidized energy to the mining companies which are poised to mine in indigenous lands.’

There are currently over 4,000 requests to mine in indigenous territories, and new requests are made every day. The mining requests in the Xikrin territories, Xikrin do Catete and Baú in Pará cover 100 percent and 93 percent of the territories respectively. ‘Very worryingly,’ says Watson, ‘there do not appear to be any safeguards in the bill to prevent 100 percent of any given territory being mined.’

In the cases of both Belo Monte and the Tapajós, there is a clear connection between construction of mega-dams and mineral exploitation, both of which have devastating impacts on indigenous cultures their ancestral lands and the environment, since much of the electricity will go to energy-intensive mining industries.

Dams and Development

Those who suffer most from these irresponsible destructive projects rarely see any benefit from them. It is large corporations, investors and the government who profit. As Peter Bosshard writes for International Rivers, ‘Mega-dams and other complex, centralized infrastructure projects have a bad track record in terms of addressing the water and energy needs of the poor and reducing poverty more generally.’

Examination of other megadams across the world does not bode well for the future of the Amazon and its peoples. The Three Gorges dam in China, the largest dam in the world, displaced 1.2 million people, flooded 13 cities and 140 towns. The Brazilian/ Paraguayan Itaipu dam displaced 59,000 people, and destroyed 700 square kilometers of rainforest. In the worst dam disaster in history, the flooding at the Banqiao Dam in China in 1975, 26,000 people died in the flooding and another 145,000 died during subsequent epidemics and famine.

Donor governments came together in Paris, France from March 20 to 21, 2013 to start negotiations for the 17th replenishment of the International Development Association fund. To my surprise, the World Bank is recommending several large dam projects as regional infrastructure initiatives, including the Inga 3 dam on the Congo River, and hydropower projects on the Zambezi River. I hope World Bank President Jim Yong Kim will reconsider this decision.

The World Wild Life Fund (WWF) recently published a report, The Seven Sins of Dam Building. The list of sins is comprehensive: building on the wrong river, neglecting downstream flows, neglecting biodiversity, falling for bad economics, failing to acquire the social license to operate, mishandling risks and impacts and blindly following temptation, and the bias to build.

The WWF report ascribes just five of these evils to Belo Monte. But actually the Belo Monte Dam commits every single one of these sins. This dam is an act of hubris and greed, committed in the name of development – but the real objective is profit.

Belo Monte is being promoted as a source of green energy. As Dr Erwin Kräutler, the Bishop of Xingu, and a staunch opponent of the dam, said to me, ‘they call it a green project. What is green about Belo Monte? It will only be green if they paint the dam green. It used to be green around here. The forest was green.’

Large dams are not sustainable. They are not ‘clean’ energy. But they are lucrative- for some. Large international companies like Alstom, Andritz, Voith Hydro and Daimler, all of whom are involved in the construction of Belo Monte, are profiting from the dam at the expense of the tens of thousands of people who call the Xingu their home. By persisting with this unconscionable project, President Rousseff is failing her people.

The Brazilian government claims that the planned installed capacity of the Belo Monte Dam complex will bring cheap energy to households across Brazil. But it is estimated that only 70% of the energy generated by the megadam will be sold for public consumption. The remaining 30% has already been bought by Eletrobras and earmarked for export, mining and industrial activities.

The farcical, tragic reality is: Belo Monte probably won’t be capable of delivering the promised, massive output. The installed capacity of 11,000 Megawatts (MW) will on average only generate 4,500 MW due to large seasonal variations in river flow. During the dry season, when the river is at its lowest level, the dam will only be able to produce 233 MW.

Which is why there are five other dams planned upstream.

As Philip Fearnside points out, ‘Belo Monte itself is economically unviable because the highly seasonal water flow in the river would leave the 11,000 MW main powerhouse completely idle during 3-4 months out of the year… It suggests that the government and the investors are, in fact, counting on the upstream dams that would flood vast areas of indigenous land and tropical forest.’

A study by Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) concludes that Belo Monte will not be sustainable without the proposed Altamira (Babaquara) dam which would have a reservoir 12 times the size of Belo Monte’s and would flood indigenous territories of the Araweté/Igarapé Ipixuna, Koatinemo, Arara, Kararaô and Cachoeira Seca do Irirí tribes.

All the evidence suggests that the Brazilian government will need to build more dams to make the Belo Monte Dam viable. Belo Monte is only the beginning.

Conclusion

By prioritising these large infrastructure projects at immense cost to the people and the environment, by suppressing protest with military force, by condoning the appalling conditions in these construction sites, by failing to prevent the murder of protesters and indigenous and grassroots leaders, the Brazilian government is sending the dangerous message that the pursuit of profit prevails over human rights and the rule of law.

These are the facts. If Belo Monte and the other dams are allowed to go ahead, they will devastate the livelihoods of thousands of people among the tribes and communities in the Amazon Basin. A great part of Brazil’s rich, varied cultural heritage will be lost. The dams will destroy enormous tracts of rainforest, unique ecosystems- the like of which cannot be found anywhere else on earth. The patrimony of Brazil will be squandered, and for what? The dams will not provide the energy the country needs.

I add my voice to the indigenous peoples’ appeal to President Rousseff to stop the construction of megadams across the country.

We must support the indigenous peoples and communities whose livelihoods, culture and ancestral lands are threatened by megadams, mining, cattle ranching and illegal logging in the Brazilian Amazon. President Rousseff must examine the government’s current model of development and its policies towards indigenous peoples, local communities and the environment. President Rousseff has a choice. She can steer Brazil towards a sustainable future, based on principles of respect for human rights, good governance, justice, equity and environmental protection. If however the President fails to reform the current model of development, if she continues down this path, Brazil may slip back into an era of violence, exploitation and civil unrest.

 

#Delhigangrape horror in Brazil : Woman gang-raped on a moving bus #Vaw


03 Apr 2013, jagran.com
 Delhi-like gang-rape in Rio de Janerio

Delhi-like gang-rape in Rio de Janerio

 

Rio De Janeiro: A night out on the town turned into a nightmare after an American woman was gang-raped and beaten aboard a public transport van while her French boyfriend was handcuffed, hit with a crowbar and forced to watch the attacks, police said.

The incidents raise new questions about security in Rio, which has won kudos for its crackdown on once-endemic drug violence in preparation for hosting next year’s football World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The city also will be playing host to World Youth Day, a Roman Catholic pilgrimage that will be attended by Pope Francis and is expected to draw some 2 million people in late July.

Three men aged 20 to 22 have been taken into custody in connection to the crime, which took place over six hours starting shortly after midnight on Saturday, police said. The suspects have been accused of at least one similar attack, with a young Brazilian woman having come forward to say that she too was raped by the same men in the van on March 23, police said. “The victims described everything in great detail, mostly the sexual violence,” police officer Rodrigo Brant told the Globo TV network. “Just how they described the facts was shocking — the violence and brutality. It surprised even us, who work in security and are used to hearing such things.”

The attack drew comparisons with the fatal December beating and gang-rape of a young woman on a New Delhi bus in which six men beset a 23-year-old university student and male friend after they boarded a private bus. That attack touched off a wave of protests across India demanding stronger protection for women. Officials there say tourism has dropped in the country following the attacks. On Tuesday, Brazilian police were quick to emphasize to reporters the rarity of Saturday’s attack. “These type of crimes committed against foreign tourists are very uncommon,” said Alexandre Braga, the police officer leading the investigation.

Officials from the local Olympic and World Cup organizing committees didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about how the attack might affect their security precautions.
Braga said the two foreigners, who were in Brazil as students, took a public transport van similar to those often used as a faster alternative to the city’s bus fleet. The pair was heading from Rio’s Copacabana beach neighborhood to the nightlife hot spot of Lapa in downtown Rio.

A few minutes into the ride, the suspects forced the other passengers to get out of the van and then raped the female tourist inside the moving vehicle, Braga said. The woman was also beaten across the face, and the man was handcuffed and beaten, at one point with a metal crowbar. The three suspects took turns behind the wheel, driving the van to Rio’s sister city of Niteroi where they went on a spending spree with the foreigners’ credit cards.

Once they hit the limit on both cards, spending around USD 500 at gas stations and convenience stores, the suspects drove the pair back to Rio, where the foreigners were staying, and forced the woman to fetch another credit card, Braga said.
Although she was alone, she didn’t call the police or alert anyone, Braga said, “because the young man was still under the suspects’ control and she feared something even worse might happen to him.”

The two were ultimately dumped by the side of a highway near the city of Itaborai, some 50 kilometers from Rio. After they managed to make it to an unidentified country’s consulate, officials took the two to the special police delegation that specializes in crimes against foreigners. The young woman has returned to the U.S., while the man remains in Rio to help with the investigations, Braga said. “The victims recognized the three without a shadow of a doubt,” Braga said.

The Brazilian woman who said she had also been raped by the suspects last month recognized media images of the alleged attackers and contacted police. Another foreigner has said she’d been robbed by one of the three suspects, police said.
Investigators are reviewing police databases to determine whether the three might have been involved in other crimes.

Two of the suspects have confessed to Saturday’s attack, while the third denies any responsibility, Braga said. “They do not show any repentance,” he said. “They are quite indifferent, cold.” The suspects rented the van, which seats about a dozen people and has dark tinted windows, from the vehicle’s owner, who police say is not suspected of any involvement in the crime. Though they apparently had authorization to transport passengers in Niteroi and neighboring Sao Goncalo, the suspects were not allowed to operate the van in Rio, Braga said. “It appears they worked in transportation and sometimes engaged in crimes,” said Braga.

Many in Rio know of such van services for their precarious safety conditions and reckless driving, as well as their links to organized crime. Some vans are linked to militias largely composed of former police and firemen that control large swaths of the city’s slums and run clandestine transportation and other services. In general, tourists avoid the vans and opt for regular buses or taxis.

Foreigners are more often the targets of muggings and petty crime in Rio, with assaults a particular problem on public transit. Last year, a woman was raped on a moving bus in broad daylight in a widely publicized case, and the Rio subway has special women-only cars to help prevent such attacks. More than 5,300 cases of sexual assault were reported in Brazil between January and June 2012, according to the country’s Health Ministry.

JPN/Agencies

– See more at: http://post.jagran.com/delhilike-gangrape-in-rio-de-janerio-1364998608#sthash.kwWDr69N.dpuf

 

Cash for vote? #Aadhaar #UID


 

 REETIKA KHERA, Frontline

 

The government’s headlong rush to Aadhaar-linked payments for welfare schemes is bound to lead to their disruption and the exclusion of people who need them.

SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP 

Residents of the village. The Kotkasim experiment had problems such as poor access to banks, overcrowding, and poor road connectivity. 

AT least three questions come to one’s mind on hearing the news about the government’s big move towards “direct cash transfers”. These are: What are the lessons we can learn from Brazil and Mexico, which are often invoked as examples of successful implementation of cash-transfer schemes? What is new about the government’s announcement? Can cash transfers win votes for the ruling coalition in the 2014 elections? A careful examination of the Prime Minister’s announcement of November 26, 2012, suggests that what is being planned as a big repackaging exercise will boomerang on the rulers in the elections.

The case of Brazil will give us an understanding of what cash transfers actually are. Comparisons with Bolsa Familia, Brazil’s successful conditional cash-transfer programme, are made out of context. In Brazil, cash transfers are one among many social protection measures. Cash transfers were put in place to encourage people to use existing public services. As far as food security is concerned, the Brazilian government is now putting in place systems for the supply of subsidised food that the Indian government is trying to dismantle. In fact, health, education and food are legal entitlements in Brazil. The most important lesson for India from Brazil would be to get on with the enactment of the National Food Security Act, which was tabled in Parliament last December.

Further, Brazil is a very different country—with lower poverty rates, higher rate of urbanisation, near-universal literacy rates and a better administrative capacity. Going by the poverty benchmark of $1.25 as PPP, or purchasing power parity, less than 7 per cent of Brazilians are poor. In India, one-third of the people live below the poverty line. Higher rates of urbanisation (85 per cent of Brazil’s population is urban, compared with 30 per cent in India) means greater access to banks. Given this, it is not surprising that Bolsa Familia has been a big success in Brazil.

No Clear Game Plan

The government’s announcement on cash transfer appears to have been made without a proper road map. For example, it lacked clarity on which subsidies are to be converted to cash transfers. On December 9, the Rural Development Minister said that food would not be included in the cash-transfer scheme. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha the next day, the Food Minister stated that in fact the failed Kotkasim kerosene model (tried in Kotkasim mandal in Alwar, Rajasthan) was going to be rolled out in six Union Territories and Puducherry. Within a few days, some clarifications were issued, which included a hint that the government was backtracking. It appeared that food and fertilizers were not part of the game plan, whereas scholarships and pension schemes, which are already cash transfers, were part of the plan. When this was pointed out, the government asserted that it was putting in place a new and superior system of making these payments: a micro-ATM network, interoperable and Aadhaar-enabled. As it turns out, in many States, cash for these schemes is already routed through the bank accounts of the beneficiaries. Except for linking bank accounts to the Unique Identification Number (UID) and a different name, there was very little new in the government’s announcement.

In fact, there are three components to the government’s proposal on direct benefit transfers (DBTs): computerisation, extending banking services and linking with Aadhaar. The real potential for changing the game lies with the first two, whereas Aadhaar-enabled transfers carry the risk of excluding current beneficiaries.

The Central government has woken up somewhat belatedly to the transformational potential of computerisation in implementing welfare programmes. State governments have already developed many intelligent applications of this technology. Chhattisgarh has demonstrated that end-to-end computerisation of the public distribution system (PDS) combined with other reforms is a game changer: leakages dropped from 50 per cent to just 10 per cent between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the period during which computerisation was undertaken. Andhra Pradesh’s MIS (management information system) for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) facilitates real-time tracking of all payments at each step. Similarly, payment through bank or post-office accounts provides protection from fraud and corruption. In 2007-08, leakages from the NREGS in Andhra Pradesh were between 1-3 per cent.

Since 2008, it has been mandatory to pay NREGS wages through bank and post-office accounts. The Reserve Bank of India allowed “zero balance” accounts for NREGS workers. This led to the largest financial inclusion drive: more than 80 per cent of job card holders have bank accounts. It is claimed that since Aadhaar is “know your customer”, or KYC, compliant, it will lead to financial inclusion. This is true, but there are two caveats: one, just about a third of the population has an Aadhaar number. Two, the requirements to open a bank account and to get Aadhaar are the same: proof of identity (ID) and proof of address. Aadhaar’s only value addition is that it has an introducer system for those without these documents.

It is claimed that Aadhaar-enabled payments are portable (cash can be withdrawn from any ATM in the country) and interoperable (it can be withdrawn from any bank’s ATM). But portability and interoperability are possible thanks to centralised online real-time environment (CORE) banking, not Aadhaar. It has also been claimed that Aadhaar’s superior “plumbing” will fix delays in payments (such as NREGS wages and pensions). However, the main reason for delays is the lack of accountability. For instance, engineers do not visit worksites for inspection without which payments cannot be sanctioned.

Ghost and duplicate beneficiaries exist in schemes such as pensions and the PDS: benefits are either used by their family or by corrupt dealers. The Andhra Pradesh government’s pension social audit suggests that 1 per cent of beneficiaries were ghosts or duplicates across six pension schemes. The figure is likely to be higher for other schemes, but we do not know the size of this problem. Biometrics (of which UID is only one variety) can weed out such beneficiaries.

Some argue that linking with Aadhaar will reduce corruption. This is possible only in very specific cases. As the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) itself has admitted, Aadhaar cannot help us identify the poor. What it can help with is to weed out “ghost” names. However, there are other efficient ways of doing this, for example, by computerising records and bringing about greater transparency (pasting printouts of the list of beneficiaries on panchayat walls).

Banking correspondents (BCs) have been used to remedy problems of poor reach of modern banking in rural areas. BCs take cash to the village, and authenticate payments using handheld biometric machines. But first-generation BCs, introduced with fanfare only recently, are now described by the Rural Development Minister as “discredited”. Aside from technical hurdles, extortion and financial viability (because of poor commissions and low volumes) have been issues. A new model (BC 2.0) is being launched with equal fanfare: a million-strong BC network, consisting primarily of front-line government workers (anganwadi and health workers, PDS dealers, cooperative societies, and so on) but also kirana (neighbourhood grocery) stores. A higher commission (3.14 per cent) is suggested. To ensure volumes, all in-kind transfers may be “cashed out”. For food, the Kotkasim kerosene cash transfer model is being tried out. Given the experience of triumphalism preceding rigorous testing, one needs to proceed with caution. In any case, it is not clear whether BC 2.0 needs Aadhaar.

The Kotkasim ‘success’

Even if there is value addition in what is being proposed, the pilot studies conducted so far suggest that there are bound to be teething problems such as poor access to banks, over-crowding and connectivity issues. For example, the government proposes to link NREGS and pensions to Aadhaar. It is now well known that biometrics of the elderly and of those who do physical labour often throw up authentication hurdles. It is unlikely that the elderly, for whom pensions are a lifeline, will take these troubles kindly. Further, these “teething” problems are likely to come up at a crucial time—just before the elections.

In the case of kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), the government proposed that consumers buy them at the market prices instead of subsidised prices. The subsidy will be reimbursed into their bank accounts if kerosene is bought. Under the Kotkasim kerosene pilot project, consumers now pay Rs.50/litre of kerosene instead of Rs.15. The balance amount of Rs.35, is supposed to be deposited in their bank accounts. The pilot project was initiated in December 2011, and in the initial months, a crash in kerosene sales was reported. This crash was projected as a success—an indication of how the new system plugged “leakages”.

SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP 

A kerosene dealer in Budhi Bawal village in Kotkasim block, Alwar district, Rajasthan, on October 15, 2012. The block was chosen for a pilot scheme in December 2011 to end the sale of subsidised kerosene. 

However, a visit to some villages in Kotkasim suggests that a large part of the crash in sales is actually because many ration card holders do not have bank accounts. This means that their subsidy cannot be reimbursed, and that they have stopped buying kerosene. Even those who have bank accounts have not received the subsidy or have received it erratically. Many of them have stopped purchasing kerosene.

There were other hassles too, such as those relating to bank accounts. Though these were supposed to be zero-balance accounts, some were forced to deposit Rs.500 to open accounts. In some cases, money was deducted if they failed to maintain a minimum balance. Many did not get subsidy at all. Banks are located far away from their houses, and there is very little public transport. At the banks they are not treated very well.

Funnily (or scarily) enough, this nightmare hit the headlines in June 2012 as “a stunning success in stopping leakages”; the business press gave the news “star status” on the basis of the District Collector’s report. The refusal to acknowledge failure is not new, but to project it as a success is certainly new. The Kotkasim experiment shows that while there is no guarantee that delivery mechanisms would be improved, it could end up leading to a collapse of the existing system by driving people out.

Another glimpse of the disruption that linking social welfare schemes with Aadhaar can cause is visible in Jharkhand where the UID-NREGS pilot project began in December 2012. Fingerprint recognition failure, software issues, connectivity and so on have caused repeated disruption. In the capital Ranchi, these problems continue in the three panchayats where it was launched last year. The lack of banking infrastructure, a questionable BC model with mixed success so far, and an administrative capacity that is already overstretched mean that no significant scaling up has been possible.

Aadhaar is being made, de facto, compulsory for welfare schemes. With two-thirds of the population not having an Aadhaar card, many are bound to be denied entitlements. Such reports have already come in from the 20 districts where the pilot study was launched. Things may fall in place eventually, but one can imagine the impact of being denied work or salary—even for a month—because of the lack of an Aadhaar number.

On preparedness, too, there is confusion: 51 districts were chosen for the pilot study reportedly because Aadhaar enrolments in them were high. As per media reports, this is not true. In Rajasthan, the three chosen districts have very low rates of enrolment: Alwar had an enrolment rate of 23 per cent, Ajmer 21 per cent and Udaipur 20 per cent. Similarly in Ramgarh (Jharkhand), two hours from Ranchi and the site of a UID-NREGS pilot project, it was 40 per cent. Low enrolment rates combined with making Aadhaar compulsory can only lead to exclusion of existing beneficiaries.

Also, possession of an Aadhaar number does not automatically guarantee access to any welfare benefits. Today, Aadhaar is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition to get, say, your pension or scholarship. The fear is that once the programme is rolled out it will become a necessary condition without being a sufficient condition. This, if it happens, will mean that if you are entitled to Rs.200 a month as your old age pension today, you will not get the pension from January if you fail to complete the necessary paperwork by January 1.

Nobody denies that there is huge scope for improving the reach of welfare schemes, especially through computerisation and expansion of banking. However, linking benefits with Aadhaar carries the risk of disrupting schemes even where they work well currently. The poor will be left with the bathwater as the biometric industry runs away with the baby.

Media reports suggest that the government believes that the push towards direct cash transfers will be a “game changer” and even help the ruling alliance garner votes in the 2014 elections. However, on the ground, the rush to Aadhaar-linked payments is bound to lead to disruption of these welfare schemes and the exclusion of people who need them. Shankar Singh’s (of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan) words at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, are more likely to come true: “You transfer cash, we’ll transfer our votes.”

 

Film fete provides platform for Koodankulam protesters


STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu

100 short films, documentaries to be screened

Xavior Amma, leader of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, addressing the 8th edition of Vibgyor International Film Festival heldin Thrissur on Saturday.

Xavior Amma, leader of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, addressing the 8th edition of Vibgyor International Film Festival heldin Thrissur on Saturday.

Nothing can dampen the spirit of the protesters against Koodankulam Nuclear Plant, said Xavior Amma, leader for People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, a group which is fighting against the nuke project.

She was addressing a discussion session at the 8th edition of Vibgyor International Film Festival held here on Saturday.

“We will fight till the end even if we are branded as traitors by the State,” she said. Xavior Amma has been the leader of the agitation ever since it began in 1988. People came to know about the sufferings of the Koodankulam protesters through the narrative of her struggles.

In September, 2012 she was arrested as part of effort to suppress the agitation. The police had booked several cases against S.P. Udayakumar, the leader of the movement, during the last lap of the agitation.

“They booked false cases against many of us to dampen the spirit of the agitation. But the people knew that the protesters were right and hence they never withdrew their support,” said Xavior Amma.

She alleged that the nuclear power plant will affect the biodiversity in the vicinity.

“Our struggle is for protection of human rights and conservation of environment. But the protest is being branded as the one taken out by ‘ignorant’ fisher folk who have come under the influence of the U.S. government. We are being branded as traitors and American spies,” she said.

The Vibgyor Film Collective donated books to the library set up at Kudankulam for the children there.

More than 100 short films, documentaries and animation films are being screened at the five-day festival. The theme of the festival is “Stolen Democracies.”

Addressing the inaugural function at the K.T. Mohammed Memorial Regional Theatre, Marcia Gomez Oliviera, academic from Brazil, said that youth apparently did not want to fight for democracy.

“They want to struggle only to earn money. Money means everything to them. As an academic, when I teach about democracy in class, I face a question from students: is democracy worth fighting for? Democracy, in this sense, is not stolen. It does not exist at many places,” she said.

 

Bollywood stars could act in the romances around nuclear contamination’


Author(s): Anupam Chakravartty, downtoearth
Date: Jan 4, 2013

So says Brazilian environmental journalist Norbert Suchanek who is travelling with his film festival across the world. One of its kind, the Travelling International Uranium Film Festival will be inaugurated in New Delhi on January 4. Anupam Chakravartty caught up with Suchanek in New Delhi on the festival and his ideas on films as medium of message:

Norbert SuchanekNorbert SuchanekHow did you come up with the idea for this festival?

The idea occurred to us in 2010. I live in Rio De Janeiro. The city will be the hub of energy of the future. It has been also called Latin America’s capital of nuclear energy as Brazil National Commission for Energy is situated here. There are two nuclear power plants that power the city, while another one is under construction.

The city’s coastline will also host a nuclear submarine manufactured with French and German collaboration. Rio has uranium mines. We found that use of uranium or other radioactive elements for our day-to-day life in the city is crucial to residents of the city. Therefore we invited entries from all across the world in 2010 from film makers to showcase their films on uranium or other radioactive elements. We organised the first festival in Rio De Janeiro on May 2011.

It appears that your festival is about anti-nuclear protests. How many films were a part of the first festival?

bookThis festival is not anti-nuclear or anti-radioactive festival. We just invite films made on radioactive elements from across the world. If a film maker has good things to say about radioactive elements, they are most welcome to this festival. For the first festival, there were 90 entries, of which 40 to 45 films were selected for the Rio. We received films from across the world.

The first festival saw 3,000 school children participating from Rio. We decided that we would take it all the coastal cities of Brazil and then move to other countries. At this point, we decided to make this festival into a global one as we got very response from Rio. It has been to various cities in Brazil including Sao Paulo and to Lisbon in Portugal and Berlin. This is the first festival in Asia. We have been invited to Singapore and Tokyo.

You have a large number of entries from Uranium-rich states such as United States of America and Australia. Why did you decide to go to Lisbon?

The second task of this festival is to cross the language gap. We have found that there are several films on radioactive elements or activity in English but there is not a single film in Portuguese, although Portugal happens to be one of the oldest producer of uUranium in the world. The first uranium bomb was designed using the Portuguese mines.

Host cities

Delhi is hosting a unique film festival for the first time in Asia focusing on nuclear energy and materials. Started by a Brazilian environmental journalist, Norbert Suchanek and social scientist, Marcia Gomes de Oliveira in 2010, The Travelling International Uranium Film Festival will be inaugurated in New Delhi on January 4.

The festival will be on the road to major Indian cities like Ranchi, Shillong, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and finally end its journey as a part of Vibgyor International Film Festival in Thrissur of Kerela in February, 2013. It will be a three day event in each location. The screening of the films would be followed by an interactive session where audience can raise their issues,concerns and queries before the organizers.

Language is a very important factor to bring the discussion on nuclear or radioactive activity to the people. Now Portugal plans to start mining in Angola where Portuguese is understood.

How did you decide to come to India? Did any incident or protest trigger your visit to this part of the world?

I have been in touch with Sriprakash, an award winning Indian film maker, for a long time since we conceived this festival. We had decided earlier to bring this festival to India. Brazilian and Indian government are also working very closely with each other which also includes the field of nuclear energy. Therefore, we decided to that it is a good time to be in India.

I am aware of anti-nuclear protests in southern India. This year the festival has Yellow Oscar nominee, Shri Prakash’s film Jadugoda the Black Magic. For the May 2013 festival in Rio, we have three films from India centred around the protests in southern India.

What are your personal views about nuclear energy?

I worked as a chemical engineer, after which I worked as an environmental journalist and film maker. My experience in technical chemistry shows that radioactive elements could be extremely dangerous. In the past, several accidents have occurred from nuclear wastes which we cannot control. However, the nuclear wastes is also about radioactivity.

Even the wastes generated from Radio Therapy Units of the hospital are radioactive. Caesium 137, used as medicine for cancer treatment, was made out nuclear wastes from weapons manufacturing. Therefore, the discussion about nuclear energy or radioactivity should not be stuck in the higher level of politics. It has a far greater impact and questions like ‘Do we want to take a large risk?’ should be available to everyone.

Why did you chose a film festival to discuss issues related to nuclear and radioactive materials?

Films are the best and the most common medium to open the discussion to the people. I would love to have Bollywood stars acting in a film related to radioactive contamination or a romance centred around a chemical engineer facing the risks of a nuclear disaster.

 

 

The one-armed wonder- Disability not a deterrent for Bruna


By N Jagannath Das – HYDERABAD

10th December 2012 08:36 AM, IE

She is indeed a one-armed wonder. Having lost her right arm at the age of three years, because of a doctor’s blunder for injecting a wrong vaccine, Bruna Alexandre has lived to fight the handicap with more able-bodied peers. The 17-year-old is a member of the Brazilian team that is taking part in the Volkswagen 10th World Junior Table Tennis championship being held at the SAP Indoor Stadium in Gachibowli. Bruna did not disappoint in her first outing when she routed Lucena Josmary of Venezula 11-3, 11-7, 11-6 in Brazil’s 3-0 win in the first match today.

She earned a place in the main team after some creditable performances in the national tournaments and is currently the third best player in her country in the junior rankings. Coach Lincon Yasuda says that Bruna is one of the most talented players of their country. “She plays an aggressive game. She plays a lot of top spin and plays far and across the table,” said Yasuda.

Bruna participated in the London Paralympics where she lost in the quarter-finals to a Chinese player. “It was one of my best performances,” said Bruna, who had earlier won numerous tournaments in her country. She idolizes Natalia Partyka, a one-armed table tennis player from Poland. Partyka was born without a right hand and forearm. Like Partyka, Bruna dreams of participating in the Olympics too. “I’m inspired by Natalia. One day, even I want to play at the Olympics,” said Bruna, who is also fan of Kaka, the famous Brazilian football player for a simple reason that he is handsome.

Hailing from Santa Katrina, which lies south of Brazil, Bruna’s love for table tennis started because of her brother Bruno at the age of eight years. “I used to accompany my brother to the nearby club where I got attracted to the game. Initially, I thought it would be difficult to play with one hand but gradually I began to get a feel of the racket and began to play,” she pointed out.

However, it was the service that bothered her initially. “I used to keep the racket in the handicap right-arm pit and then throw the ball up. But I found it difficult as the racket became wet and I had to change my style. I began to practice to throw the ball up and then go for the service. It took two months to perfect it,” said Bruna, who now holds the racket and puts the ball on top of the thumb of her left hand before tossing it for service. It took a little while before her talent and the game was noticed. She began to win tournaments before even being picked for the state and the national squads. Bruna has played at eight international para table tennis tournaments, including the London Paralympics. In individual and team events, she has played about 66 matches, won 56 of them. This is her maiden trip to India. “I want to make it a memorable one,” she said with a smiling face.

Nuclear Safari in Deutschland: A Waste Story of 2009


 

 
S. P. Udayakumar
Nagercoil, July 2009
Back in June 2009 I got a first-hand opportunity to face the nuclear demon that I had been fighting against all along. Deep in a hell-hole in a remote corner of a distant country!
I did not realize the seriousness of this trip until I saw my name in big bold letters on the door of a bathroom in the visitor’s building of Salt Mine Asse II. I was asked to strip naked and change the clothing starting with the underwear that they had kept ready there. The shirt and pants measurements and shoe size I had provided were helpful. As I dressed up, I was beginning to look more like an astronaut who was going into the depth of the Earth rather than flying into the space.
With a heavy hard helmet donning my head, a dosimeter was hung around my neck. With the hefty battery kit pulling my neck on the right side, a sturdy headlight was attached to the helmet. And then a very weighty oxygen kit was hung on my left shoulder. With all these safety accessories bogging me down, I could feel mild pain on my shoulders. The instructions given to deal with a possible fire or accident inside the mine was turning my stomach and caused palpitations.
When my friends from Argentina, Brazil and Germany and I were going down a rickety lift (do they still call it that when it is taking you down?) with a strong draft with so much noise and shake, I thought of the dangerous African safari I had undertaken a few years ago in the Kenyan jungles. But this nuclear safari was a lot more dangerous and deadly. If I was forced to pick one of the two safaris, I would certainly choose the African animals.
At 590 meters depth, we were at the mouth of the salt mine. And there was a small hand-carved St. Barbara grotto on one of the walls. Saint Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen. She is also traditionally the patron of armored men, military engineers, gunsmiths, miners and anyone else who works with cannons and explosives. She is invoked against thunder and lightning and all accidents arising from explosions of gunpowder. She is venerated by every Catholic who faces the danger of sudden and violent death at work.
We all got onto an open jeep driven by a woman mine officer and her colleague. I could not completely understand the architecture as there were narrow passages going in all directions. But one thing was clear. That I was deep in the long and convoluted nuclear waste intestine of the German nuclear industry.
Our first stop was a hidden corner of the nuclear waste burial site. Beneath our feet lay hundreds of deadly and treacherous waste-containing barrels. The woman mine officer explained to us in German-tasting English that the barrels were mechanically downed through a narrow metallic hole and buried. We were standing some 6 feet above this deadly treasure on a heavy metal plate. The possibility of radiation was so alarming. The waste, plutonium, the clothing of the workers, metallic parts of the equipment, and everything else had been crushed and thrust into those barrels.
We were driven deeper into the mines. At one point, our guide stopped and showed us the crevices of the mines where salt water was dripping and forming into icicles. One could easily guess that not everything was right in the salt caves. At another place, more water was collecting with a steady and heavy flow. One liter of water was collecting every minute and this water was being taken out of the caves manually.
We went to another side of the caves at 625 meter depth. Some 8,000 low-grade waste barrels had been dumped there and were covered with 2 feet of salt blown mechanically. If you scratched with your bare hands, you could dig out the hazmat.
Most of the nuclear waste from the German nuclear power plants had been stored in the Salt Mine Asse II since 1967. Although the local people had objected to the project, the German government and scientists supported the project; went ahead and buried the wastes until 1978. The water flow inside the caves became much stronger in 1988 but the government still stubbornly rejected all opposition.
In June 2008, it was found out that the water in the mine was contaminated with Cesium 137. There was a suggestion to fill up the mines with water so that it would take the waste even deeper and make the whole depository safer.
As I heard all these disturbing stories, I was naturally worried about the nuclear waste management in India. With scary and sordid thoughts and feelings crisscrossing my mind and heart and soul, I stood there stunned. The nuclear safari was over.
At 650 meter depth, the mine authorities checked our radiation exposure level at the Hand Fuss Kleider monitor before exiting the mines. The lift ride back to the face of the Earth was quite uplifting in every sense of the word, and I had never been happier to see the light at the end of the (vertical) tunnel. We were asked to take another shower and change to our original clothing.
We all know shit happens. But we cannot understand the concept of making nuclear shit in order for it to happen in the future, to our own children and grandchildren and the umpteen numbers of unborn generations. One thing is for sure, though! Those who make nuclear shit will suffer the shame and stigma. Or, will they?

 

#Brazil -Indian #Tribe threatens mass suicide if evicted from homeland – #GuaraniKaiowa


Members of Brazil’s indigenous Guarani-Kaiowa tribe

About 170 members of the indigenous Guarani-Kaiowa tribe in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul have threatened to commit mass suicide if they are evicted from their agricultural farm.

This week, a Brazilian court ordered members of the indigenous tribe to vacate the Cambar’s farm immediately, but some 100 adults and 70 children said they would kill themselves en masse before leaving the farm, Press TV correspondent Rony Curvelo reported on Tuesday.
The threat was made in a letter to the Indigenous Missionary Council, in which the Indians also said they would not abide by the decision of the court. The Indians say they are not going to leave the region they call tekoha, which means ancestral cemetery.
According to the court’s decision, the Indians must leave the farm and if they do not, the National Foundation of Indians (FUNAI) will have to pay a fine of approximately $250 per day.
“We Indians have the constitutional right to occupy our land. We will continue to fight,” Guarani tribal chief Vera Popygua told Press TV.
“We demand respect. Our people have been massacred; they have killed our leaders; and that is sad and unacceptable. We are an advanced society and living in the 21st century. This cannot happen and should not happen,” he stated.
According to the Indigenous Missionary Council, the suicide rate among members of the Guarani-Kaiowa tribe has risen recently, to the point where one commits suicide approximately every six days because of the stress of the threat of being evicted from their land.
In the letter sent to the court, the indigenous group demanded that the decision be overruled, saying they would not leave the land of their ancestors under any circumstances. They also asked the court to secure their right to be buried at the location, so that even in death, they would remain in their homeland.
Carolina Bellinger of the Pro-Indigenous Council of Sao Paulo said, “The rights of indigenous people of Brazil have been under fire for a long time.”
“And despite a series of laws that were created to guarantee their rights, the reality is something else. Brazil must obey international agreements and demarcate their land. Our Congress is slow, and Indians cannot survive until it decides,” she added.
(Source: Press TV)

 

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