Protest by Omkeshwar Dam affected Oustees


ओम्कारेश्वर बांध : घोघलगाँव में प्रभावितों की सभा और आन्दोलन की घोषणा

Posted by संघर्ष संवाद on शुक्रवार, मई 31, 2013

ओम्कारेश्वर परियोजना प्रभावित गांव घोघलगाँव में 30 मई को हजारों प्रभावितों ने रैली निकालकर आमसभा की. सभा में प्रभावितों हाल ही में राज्य सरकार द्वारा ओम्कारेश्वर प्रभावितों के लिए 212 करोड़ के पुनर्वास पैकज को विस्थापितों के संघर्ष की जीत बताते हुए भूमिहीन प्रभावितों को 2.5 लाख रूपये देने का स्वागत किया. प्रभावितों ने सरकार की किसानो को 2 लाख रूपये प्रति एकड़ देने को पुनर्वास नीति का उल्लंघन बताते हुए उसे अस्वीकार कर दिया. सभा में इंदिरा सागर, महेश्वर आदि बांधों के प्रतिनिधि भी शामिल हुए और सभी ने आगामी 18 जून से भोपाल में हजारों की संख्या में डेरा डालने की घोषणा की.
गत वर्ष के जल सत्याग्रह के लिए प्रसिद्ध ग्राम घोघलगाँव में हजारों प्रभावितों ने गाँव में रैली निकली और सत्याग्रह स्थल पर माँ नर्मदा की अर्चना की. सभी प्रभावितों में जश्न का माहौल था. रैली के बाद सत्याग्रह स्थल पर आमसभा का आयोजन किया गया. सभा को संबोधित करते हुए नर्मदा आन्दोलन के वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता श्री आलोक अग्रवाल ने कहा कि सरकार की घोषणा ओम्कारेश्वर बांध प्रभावितों के 7 साल के संघर्ष की जीत है पर यह पूरी नहीं आंशिक जीत है. भूमिहीनों के बारे में हमारी मांग पूरी तरह स्वीकार कर ली गयी है पर किसानो को पुनर्वास नीति के अनुसार न्यूनतम 5 एकड़ जमीन खरीदने के लिए सरकार ने सहायता नहीं देकर न सिर्फ पुनर्वास नीति बल्कि सर्वोच्च न्यायालय के आदेश का भी उल्लंघन किया है. सरकार द्वारा घोषित राशि से किसान किसी भी हालत में जमीन नहीं खरीद सकता है. उन्होंने इस आंशिक जीत के लिए देश- दुनिया से मिले समर्थन और मिडिया द्वारा संवेदना पूर्वक विस्थापितों की आवाज उठाने के लिए धन्यवाद् दिया.
आन्दोलन की प्रमुख कार्यकर्ता सुश्री चित्तरूपा पालित ने कहा सबसे गरीब को सबसे पहले सहायता मिलने से पुरे क्षेत्र में ख़ुशी है. जिस संकल्प और विश्वास से हमने अभी तक अपनी लड़ाई को इस मुकाम तक लाया है उसी के साथ हम अपने जमीन के अधिकार भी लेकर रहेंगे. उन्होंने मांग की कि सरकार भूमिहीनों को बसने के लिए न्यूनतम 6 माह का समय दे.ओम्कारेश्वर बांध प्रभावित श्री मंसाराम ग्राम एखंड, श्री केसरसिंह ग्राम टोकी, सुश्री सकुबाई ग्राम कामनखेड़ा, सुश्री नीलाबाई ग्राम घोघलगाँव ने भूमिहीनों की घोषणा का स्वागत करते हुए किसानो के लिए हुई घोषणा को नकार दिया और घोषणा की कि उनके न्यूनतम 5 एकड़ सिंचित जमीन के अधिकार के लिए वो संघर्ष तेज करेंगे.

इंदिरा सागर परियोजना प्रभावित हरदा जिले के श्री रामविलास राठौर, खंडवा जिले के श्री राजेंद्र पटेल, देवास जिले से श्री ललित आदि ने कहा की इंदिरा सागर बांध के प्रभावितों को भी उनके पुनर्वास के अधिकार न देकर पूरी तरह उजाड़ दिया गया है और आगामी 18 जून से भोपाल में होने वाले “जीवन अधिकार सत्याग्रह में इंदिरा सागर प्रभावित हजारों की संख्या में शामिल होंगे.
महेश्वर परियोजना प्रभावित श्री राधेश्याम भाई और श्री कैलाश पाटीदार ने कहा कि गत 16 साल की लड़ाई के कारण ही महेश्वर बांध प्रभावित उजड़ने से बचे हुए हैं और महेश्वर परियोजनाकर्ता 15% भी पुनर्वास नहीं कर पाया है. उन्होंने घोषणा की कि भोपाल सत्याग्रह में महेश्वर बांध प्रभावित भी हजारों की संख्या में शामिल होंगे.

भोपाल के जीवन अधिकार सत्याग्रह में 18 जून को पूरी ताकत के साथ पहुंचे के संकल्प के साथ सभा का समापन हुआ. भोपाल में ओम्कारेश्वर, इंदिरा सागर, महेश्वर, मान और अपर बेदा बांध के हजारों प्रभावित 18 जून से 22 जून तक 5 दिन का सत्याग्रह व् उपवास करेंगे.

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India jail-born man earns bail money, for release of his mother after 19 years #WTF


 

By Sanjoy Majumder BBC News, Kanpur

Vijay Kumari was unable to post the necessary bail amount of about £120

In a dusty tenement in a crowded neighbourhood in the Indian city of Kanpur, a young man takes out a bright yellow sari from a shopping bag and presents it to his mother.

“Do you like it?” he asks her. “Yes,” is her reply.

It is an innocuous scene, except that the young man, Kanhaiya, has waited a long time to give his mother a gift.

Nineteen years ago, his mother Vijai Kumari was convicted of murder – wrongfully she claimed.

She was granted bail on appeal but she did not have the 10,000 rupees ($180; £119) she needed to post bail. Her husband abandoned her and no-one else came forward to help her.

“I thought I’d die in prison,” she says. “They told me in there that no one ever gets out.”

She was pregnant when she went to jail. Four months later, Kanhaiya was born.

“I sent him away when he got a bit older. It was hard but I was determined. Prison is no place for a young child,” she says.

So she stayed in prison all these years, lost in the system and forgotten.

All she had to keep her going was a passport-size photograph of her son and his visits to her every three months.

‘Think of her and cry’

Kanhaiya spent most of his childhood growing up at various juvenile homes. And he never forgot his mother.

“I would think of her and cry,” he says, speaking softly and with a lisp.

“She was in prison, all alone. No-one else ever visited her. And my father turned his back on her.”

Kanhaiya's mother Vijai Kumari only had a photo of her son in jail Vijai Kumari only had a small photograph of her son Kanhaiya

As soon as he turned 18, he was trained to work in a garment factory. And he began saving up to get his mother out.

Eventually, he hired a lawyer.

“Someone told me about him. He was surprised to hear about my mother’s case.”

The lawyer took on his case and earlier this month, his mother was freed from prison.

Judges expressed their shock at her situation and the “callous and careless” behaviour of the authorities.

They have now ordered a sweep of all the prisons in the state to see if there are others like Vijai Kumari.

The reality is that hers is not an isolated case.

There are an estimated 300,000 inmates in India‘s prisons, 70% of whom are yet to face trial. And many of them have spent a long time in custody.

It is a reflection of India’s shambolic and sluggish legal system where it can often take years for a case to be heard and a trial to be concluded.

But, for the moment, mother and son are reunited and anxious about their future.

“All I want is for my son to be settled,” Vijai Kumari says, her voice breaking and her eyes moist.

“He’s all I have in this world.”

Kanhaiya and his mother plan to approach his estranged father and fight for their rights, including a share of the family property.

But for now, they are taking in the present and trying to make up for all the time they have lost.

Press Release – PESA and bauxite mining in Andhra Pradesh- HRF


April 4, 2013

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) takes strong objection to the reported view of the AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) that it does not have to hold gram sabhas in the area where it is leasing in land for bauxite mining because the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas Act) 1996 (PESA) is not applicable to major minerals.

If the APMDC thinks it is being very clever, we invite its officers to read PESA once again. Section 4 (k) and 4 (l) which refer to prior recommendation of the gram sabha or the panchayats for grant of prospecting or mining lease is confined to minor minerals, but those are not the only provisions of PESA. Under Section 4 (d), the power to safeguard and preserve the community resources, which is another name for common property resources, should be with the gram sabha.

Though the land being leased to APMDC for mining bauxite in the Visakhapatnam agency is forest land, undertaking mining in that land will affect the water resources of the neighbouring hamlets since the water retained in the bauxite hills is the source of the rivulets and subsoil water that the people depend upon. It is a well-established fact that the hills containing bauxite deposits have a good capacity for retention of water, which will be lost for ever if the hills are opened up for mining.

The land proposed to be mined is also a source of minor forest produce such as thatching and dry twigs. It is a source of grazing for animals. The ownership of such minor forest produce is conferred on the gram sabha by Section 4 (m) (ii) of PESA and tat right cannot be unilaterally taken away.

We demand that the APMDC stop acting over-intelligent and follows scrupulously the provisions of Section 4 (d), 4 (m) (ii) and the general principle in section 4 (m) that the gram panchayat in the Scheduled Areas is endowed with the power of self-government. PESA is a progressive legislation that protects the adivasi communities’ rights to land and resources in tribal areas. These rights simply cannot be overridden unlawfully.

VS Krishna
(HRF State general secretary)

 

Independent Judiciary and Rule of Law;Demolished in Sri Lanka


EPW

Vol – XLVIII No. 09, March 02, 2013 | Rohini Hensman

Among the continuing acts that erode democratic institutions in Sri Lanka is the recent impeachment of the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers who head various arms of the Sri Lankan government run a repressive and autocratic regime that does not brook opposition. Despite this, the opposition parties Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and the Tamil National Alliance along with civil society bodies like the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations and students have come together to fi ght back.

Rohini Hensman (rohinihensman@yahoo.co.uk) is a Researcher and Activist, and Author of Workers, Unions and Global Capitalism: Lessons from India.

The impeachment of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka Shirani Bandaranayake in January constitutes yet another deadly blow against the badly-eroded edifice of democracy in that country, striking at the one remaining institution that held out hope of acting as a bulwark against a regime that has demolished every challenge that is posed to its absolute power.

Bandaranayake became a Supreme Court judge in 1996 when Chandrika Kumaratunga was president, and was appointed as chief justice – the first woman to hold this post in Sri Lanka – by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in May 2011. As it now becomes clear, she was expected to provide a rubber stamp of legality and constitutionality to every decision made by the regime (in effect, the Rajapaksa brothers), and at first she lived up to that expectation. In mid-2011, the Ministry of Higher Education made it compulsory for all university entrants to undergo “leadership training” courses in military camps under defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa (one of the president’s brothers) before they could begin their degree courses (Hensman 2011).

There was vociferous opposition from students, university lecturers, school teachers and many others. For example, the Friday Forum, a group of eminent democracy activists, pointed out that the ministry had no legal authority to formulate or implement programmes or courses for university students; military training was founded on regimentation whereas university education was aimed at encouraging independent thinking and respect for disagreement; and the module on history and national heritage focused exclusively on the majority Sinhala Buddhist community, to the detriment of national reconciliation. There were several fundamental rights petitions challenging the legality of this programme, but all were dismissed by a Supreme Court bench that included Chief Justice Bandaranayake.

Excessive Centralisation

She was presumably expected to do the same after the Divi Neguma (Life-Upliftment) Bill was published in the government gazette in July 2012. The bill established the department of Divi Neguma Development, to carry out all development activities under the Ministry of Economic Development headed by another one of the president’s brothers, Basil Rajapaksa. However, this involved the centre taking over development activities, which had been devolved to the provincial councils by the 13th amendment.

This constitutional amendment, enacted shortly after J R Jayawardene had signed the Indo-Lanka Accord in July 1987, has been seen as embodying the minimum devolution of power to the provinces that would satisfy Tamils in the northern and eastern provinces. Indeed, the constitutional reforms drafted by Neelan Tiruchelvam in 1995 during the brief period when democracy was restored under President Kumaratunga, and those proposed in January 2007 by a majority of the multi-ethnic panel of experts to the All-Party Representative Committee, both advocated more devolution of power to the provinces, not less.

It is therefore not surprising that the Divi Neguma Bill was opposed by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). As TNA leader R Sampanthan said,

Amongst the powers that would be vested by this piece of legislation in the center are a wide range of powers that have been devolved to the provinces related to development activities, which the provinces could easily handle and much better than being remote controlled by the central government. If these powers are handled by the provinces, greater importance would be given to the sensitivities of the people and the democratic wishes could be much better implemented and fulfilled… The notion of power being exercised by the people is completely lost when power is excessively centralised by taking powers from the provinces (Abeywickrema 2012).

Although the 13th amendment was enacted mainly in the interests of the provinces with a Tamil-speaking majority, it also allows for a modicum of local democracy even in the majority-Sinhala-speaking provinces as against a total concentration of power – and resources – in a monolithic centre. All this would be lost when the bill was passed.

Equally disturbing were clauses preventing officials from divulging information about the activities carried out under the bill.

According to clauses 39 and 40 in the Bill, employees are required to sign declarations of responsibility not to disclose information, unless required by a court of law. The Bill says any person who violates the provisions of the proposed Act is liable to be imprisoned or fined. Public funds amounting to Rs 80 billion will come under the purview of the Proposed Divineguma Department. However, according to political sources the secrecy clause would prevent any whistleblower from coming forward with regard to corruption that could likely take place when such a massive amount of money was involved. Western Provincial Council Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) member Nalinda Jayatissa told Daily Mirror that these were clauses normally found in laws dealing with national security and generally connected to the intelligence services of a country (Bandara 2012).

When the government presented the bill before Parliament in August 2012, its constitutionality was challenged by four petitioners in three petitions in the Supreme Court. This time, a bench including the chief justice ruled that a matter set out in the provincial council list could not be taken over by the centre without the approval of all the provincial councils. Eight of the nine provincial councils were controlled by the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) coalition, and gave their consent, but the Northern Provincial Council had not been established as an elected body. In lieu of the council, G A Chandrasiri – the former Jaffna Army commander who had been appointed as governor by the president – gave his assent to the bill, and the bill was returned to Parliament. But a new batch of petitions challenging the bill were presented in the Supreme Court, including one from the TNA challenging the right of the governor of the northern province to give his assent to the bill, and arguing that only the elected representatives of the people of the province had the right to do so.

An ‘Inquisition’

On 31 October 2012, the determination of a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, including Shirani Bandaranayake, presented its judgment to Parliament: one clause of the bill was unconstitutional and needed to be passed by a referendum; 12 other clauses were inconsistent with the Constitution and needed to be passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament; and the governor of the Northern Province did not have the power to endorse the bill.

The very next day (1 November 2012), 117 MPs of the ruling UPFA presented an impeachment motion against the chief justice to the speaker, Chamal Rajapaksa (yet another brother of the president). An 11-member Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) with seven government MPs and four opposition MPs was appointed to deliberate the impeachment charges, but the opposition MPs soon walked out, saying that it was not an inquiry but an “inquisition”. On 8 December 2012, what was left of the PSC reported to Parliament that Bandaranayake was guilty of three of the charges of corruption and improper conduct, and could therefore be impeached and removed from office.

However, on 3 January 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the PSC did not have the power to investigate allegations against the chief justice, and therefore the impeachment was unconstitutional. Bandaranayake herself appealed against the PSC ruling in the Court of Appeal, claiming that she had not been given a fair hearing, and on 7 January the court ruled that the findings of the PSC were legally void. M A Sumanthiran, appearing for the TNA MP R Sampanthan, and J C Weliamuna, appearing for the JVP MP Vijitha Herath, endorsed the court’s opinion that the PSC’s findings were void, emphasising that impeaching a justice on false charges was an interference with the independence of the judiciary (Weeraratne 2013).

Despite all this, on 8 January the amended Divi Neguma Bill was passed by Parliament with a two-thirds majority, following which Basil Rajapaksa declared that MPs who had voted against the motion to hand over the entire development budget to him were “traitors”. It is a telling indictment of the Rajapaksa brothers that they use the very same epithet that was used by Vellupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), to demonise anyone who opposes them.

The impeachment motion was debated by Parliament on 10 and 11 January, and passed with 155 MPs voting in favour, 49 against, and 11 abstaining. Bandaranayake was removed from office on 13 January after President Rajapaksa signed the papers sacking her. Huge contingents of security personnel and thugs were employed to crush civil society protests against her removal, and to prevent her from speaking to the press, despite which she managed to release a statement that she was innocent, and was still the legitimate Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.

Loyalty Rewarded

Instead of appointing another Supreme Court judge to the post, that evening the Rajapaksas proposed the name of former Attorney General Mohan Peiris, and on the 15th of the month he was sworn in. His record on corruption and human rights issues might have been less than perfect, but his credentials for loyalty to the regime were impeccable.

Peiris served on the boards of Lanka Logistics [a military hardware procurement agency] and Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited [a private security firm staffed by ex-servicemen], both companies incorporated under the auspices of the Defence Ministry with the Defence Secretary at their helm. In an unprecedented move, the Attorney General’s Department was brought under the purview of the President during Peiris’ tenure as AG. Until his appointment as Chief Justice on Tuesday, Peiris served as the Cabinet Legal Advisor and regularly travelled to Geneva to defend the country’s deteriorating human rights record. In November 2011, he famously told the UN Committee Against Torture in Geneva that his Government had information that journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda who has been missing for three years this January, was alive and secretly living outside Sri Lanka…Seven months later, Peiris answered summons before the Homagama Magistrate, where a habeas corpus petition filed by Eknaligoda’s family in the Court of Appeal had been redirected for inquiry. There in open court, with Eknaligoda’s distraught wife in the room, Peiris rejected the statement he made in Geneva and claimed he could not remember the officer who informed him that the missing journalist was overseas. Adding insult to injury, the former state prosecutor told the court, that the government knew nothing about Prageeth’s whereabouts and ‘only God knows’ what had become of him (Bastians 2013).

In her statement after she had been removed, Bandaranayake said, “It is not only the office of Chief Justice, but also the very independence of the judiciary, that has been usurped. The very tenor of rule of law, natural justice and judicial abeyance has not only been ousted, but brutally mutilated.” The entire opposition and legal community of Sri Lanka concurred, with the United National Party (UNP) MP Mangala Samaraweera saying that Sri Lanka had officially become a dictatorship.

With the dust uneasily settling over a legal community thuggishly coerced into fuming silence, an unjustly ousted Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake may yet be proud…Despite overwhelming odds, she succeeded in uniting a deeply divided Bar, rallying judges to her side, provoking strongly worded editorials and unexpected protests from the normally quiescent business, investment and employment sectors, quite apart from religious leaders and concerned citizens… This dissent is not momentary. Its repercussions will continue to be felt (Pinto-Jayawardena 2013).

There was international condemnation too. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay called the impeachment “a gross interference in the independence of the judiciary and a calamitous setback for the rule of law in Sri Lanka” (Penn 2013). Sam Zarifi of the International Commission of Jurists said that

Sri Lanka’s Parliament and executive have effectively decapitated the country’s judiciary in pursuit of short-term political gain. As an immediate matter, this has precipitated a legal and constitutional crisis of unprecedented dimensions; but just as worrying are the consequences of this action, which severely erodes accountability and the rule of law in a country already suffering from decades of impunity (International Commission of Jurists 2013).

This is not the first time the judiciary has been under attack in Sri Lanka. In the early 1980s, against the backdrop of a new Constitution putting almost absolute power in the hands of an executive president, gross violations of human rights (especially of Tamils), and an assault on free and fair elections, the UNP regime of J R Jayawardene orchestrated lumpen displays of violence against members of the judiciary who refused to toe the regime’s line. Although Jayawardene did not go as far as Rajapaksa – for example, he did not remove the two-term limit on the presidency as Rajapaksa did in the 18th amendment (see Hensman 2010), nor did he decapitate the judiciary by impeaching the chief justice on trumped-up charges – it is worth learning some lessons from the responses to his assault on democracy.

With electoral and legal challenges to the regime looking more and more impossible and democratic space shrinking, Tamil militant groups, ultimately dominated by the LTTE, launched an insurgency in the north and east, and in 1987 the JVP launched a Sinhalese insurgency in the south. Both were as violent and authoritarian as the regime they opposed; moreover, the extreme Tamil nationalism of the former and extreme Sinhala nationalism of the latter pitted them against each other as well as against any democratic elements among the communities they claimed to represent.

Thus among the Tamils murdered by the former were feminist doctor and human rights activist Rajani Thiranagama and lawyer and politician Neelan Tiruchelvam; among the Sinhalese murdered by the latter were left-wing student leader Daya Pathirana and popular politician and presidential candidate Vijaya Kumaratunga. Both insurgencies were drowned in blood, with massive civilian casualties; the combined death toll was probably in excess of 2,00,000. The only successful challenge to the regime, after President Premadasa had taken over from Jayawardene, was from civil society democracy activists.

Solidarity against Fascism

This time, it is imperative for Sri Lankans to avoid the bloodshed and reinforcement of authoritarianism resulting from such insurgencies. Thus far, the JVP and the TNA (which formerly acted as a proxy for the LTTE) have played a commendable role in upholding democracy and the rule of law in post-war Sri Lanka, acting in a far more principled manner than the divided and discredited UNP. Equally important have been civil society initiatives challenging the government, in which the independent left has played a part. A particularly inspiring example of this is the activities of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA), an umbrella body of 43 university teachers’ trade unions.

Frustration about long-pending salary demands that had been ignored by the government as well as violations of academic freedom (as in the case of compulsory training by the military for university entrants) erupted in a full-blown FUTA strike in July 2012. As the strike continued for 100 days, undeterred by loss of pay and death threats to FUTA president Nirmal Dewasiri and other leaders, its demands encompassed opposition to the neo-liberal assault on state education as a whole and political interference in education by the regime. Students, other trade unions and members of the public were drawn in. As a FUTA member put it, “At the crux of it all are concerns of democracy, transparency, and the general disregard of the public good” (Kumar 2012).

Tamil academics were an integral part of the FUTA struggle. Subsequently, when the army burst into the halls of residence in Jaffna University after Tamil students lighted a lamp on 27 November, separating Sinhalese and Tamil students and subjecting the latter to abuse, and the police attacked a peaceful demonstration demanding democratic rights the next day, later assaulting and arresting several students, FUTA stood in full solidarity behind the students. Similarly, when the president of the University of Jaffna Teachers’ Association was summoned to appear before the Terrorist Investigation Division under the Ministry of Defence because of his role in attempting to protect his students, FUTA protested against this act of intimidation.

Only such joint struggles for democracy and social justice, solidarity across ethnic lines with anyone whose human rights are violated, and concerted efforts to alert the broader public to the dangers of the fascistic Sinhala nationalism spewed by the state-controlled media day after day as well as the Tamil nationalism peddled by the Eelamist diaspora, can succeed in liberating Sri Lanka from the vice-like grip of the Rajapaksa family. Given the circumstances, anyone engaged in such activities needs as much international support as possible.

References

Abeywickrema, Mandana Ismail (2012): “Divi Neguma Bill Deprives Provinces of the Powers Given to Them by the Constitution”, 20 October,http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/11782

Bandara, Kelum (2012): “Divi Neguma Bill Gags Officials”, Daily Mirror, 26 September, http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/22213-divi-neguma- bill-gags-officials-.html

Bastians, Dharisha (2013): “Midweek Politics: The End Game”, Colombo Telegraph, 16 January, http://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/midweek-politics-the-end-game/

Hensman, Rohini (2010): “Sri Lanka Becomes a Dictatorship”, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol XLV, No 41, 9 October, pp 41-46.

– (2011): “Sri Lankan Universities Are No Place for the Army”, The Guardian, 14 June, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/14/sri-lanka-army-unive…

International Commission of Jurists (2013): “ICJ Condemns Impeachment of Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice”, 11 January, http://www.icj.org/icj-condemns-impeachment-of-sri-lankas-chief-justice/

Kumar, Shamala (2012): “From Chalk-Boards to Picket Lines: The Journey of a Trade Union”, The Island, 2 September, http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details& page=article-details&code_title= 60633

Penn, Dianne (2013): “Impeachment of Chief Justice a ‘Calamitous Setback for the Rule of Law’ in Sri Lanka: UN Human Rights Chief”, 18 January,http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/2013/01/impeachment-of-chief-j…

Pinto-Jayawardena, Kishali (2013): “The Disappearance of a System of Law”, Colombo Telegraph, 20 January, http://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-disappearance-of-a-system-…

Weeraratne, Chitra (2013): “Appeal Court Quashes PSC Findings on CJ”, Sunday Island, 7 January, http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat= article-details&page=article-details&code_title=69911

 

#India- Between thirst and darkness in Maharashtra


Rivers are diverted for generating electricity, while the government plans water trains for its people. Baba Umar reports on an impossible situation in the state
Baba Umar

January 31, 2013, Issue 6 Volume 10

Parched earth Eight districts in the Marathwada region of the state are expected to run completely dry by March, Photo: Getty Images

THIS SUMMER, people in southern Maharashtra can enjoy either electricity or water, not both. Until recently, the state had prioritised use of water for industrial purposes over agriculture. But now the government finds itself at odds to explain the diversion of water to hydel projects when water activists claim that the diverted water can be used to meet the requirements of eight drought-hit districts, which are expected to run completely dry by March.

Activists say the state government diverts massive quantities of water from the drought-hit regions of southern Maharashtra to hydel projects in the water surplus western regions of the state, eventually ending up in the Arabian Sea. But stopping the diversion may also mean shortage of electricity in an energy-starved state.

“If the government is serious about quenching the thirst of millions of people, then it has to stop diverting water from east flowing rivers to the west, which is a water surplus area and receives over 3,000 mm rainfall annually,” explains water resources expert Himanshu Thakkar a water rights activist.

Maharashtra diverts 1,413 MCM of water annually to three hydel projects from the Krishna river basin, while the Koyna dam in Satara district diverts 1,911.4 MCM of water from the Krishna basin to five hydel projects. Currently, these projects have 2,835 MCM of water in live storage. And this water is sent to Konkan areas where it ends up in Arabian sea.

“The water available in live storage capacity of these dams today is sufficient to provide 100 litres per capita per day for about 7 crore people for the entire year, provided it’s not diverted,” Thakkar says.

According to him this water, besides the additional flow into these dams through the rest of the year, can be useful for the drought-prone areas if no more water from any of these dams are allowed to drain into the Konkan rivers until monsoon arrives.

The three hydel projects in the Krishna- basin collectively produce 297 MW of electricity, while the five hydel projects based around the Koyna dam collectively produce around 1,956 MW of power. The eight projects add up to 8.5 percent of the state’s total installed power capacity.

“A decision should have been taken as soon as it became apparent that the monsoon is a failure and the state is in dire need of all available water,” says Thakkar. “We are already at least five months late in taking a decision on this. When people are facing severe water scarcity, it is high time the diversions were stopped.”

Currently, water is being supplied across the region by tankers. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government has already spent Rs 414 crore to combat the situation, of which Rs 248 crore was released for erecting cattle shelters for nearly 70,000 cattle head in the drought-hit villages and hamlets. According to reports, the government has also finalised plans to send water-filled train carriages to the droughthit region.

Earlier this month, a high-level committee that studies which states affected by natural calamities need the Central government’s help approved assistance of Rs 778.09 crore to Maharashtra. But people living in the districts of Aurangabad, Nanded, Latur, Jalna, Beed, Parbhani, Osmanabad and Hingoli, which are the worst-hit in the region, are yet to see the crisis subsiding.

“The state government must work on long-term solutions. Sending water by tankers is a only short-term effort,” says Shrikant Katre, a local journalist. In Jalna, people are taking their cattle to government shelters “because they can’t afford to provide the animals with water and fodder”, he adds.

A media report suggested that stopping water diversion was discussed during a meeting at the water resources ministry, but the option was rejected.

“Stopping diversion would also mean hampering energy production in the already distressed state,” a senior official in the water resources ministry told TEHELKA on the condition of anonymity. “The government, I think, would continue to remain in limbo. We can’t see power cuts in the state, neither can we see people dying of water. It’s a double-edged sword.”

In the past five years, the state’s peak electricity demand deficit has risen from 17 percent in 2005-06, to 22 percent in 2011-12.

But water expert Thakkar says: “In times of crisis, such decisions need to be considered. Maharashtra is already facing the possibility of conflicts and clashes, with the people and cattle in the Krishna basin facing dire water scarcity. When there is talk of running water-tanker trains, shouldn’t this option too be explored?”

WATER RESOURCES Minister Sunil Tatkare couldn’t be reached for his comments. His public relations officer, however, referred TEHELKA to Dr Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam, minister for rehabilitation and relief works saying, “His ministry is managing the present drought condition.” But Kadam’s staff denied access saying, “He is busy in a meeting and can’t comment right now.” An SMS sent to Kadam elicited no response.

Suniti Su Ra of the National Alliance of People’s Movements says the water from these dams have been flowing into the sea for more than 60 years and in all these years the government could have developed a mechanism to stop this water from going waste.

“The state needs to overhaul its water policy. Water for industries has all along been prioritised over water for agriculture and drinking purposes. Water meant for farmers and drinking purposes is guzzled by industries across the state,” she says.

While the government is struggling to help people survive the drought, Thakkar says the only option left is to stop the diversion of water from ending up in the sea.

But is the government listening?

babaumar@tehelka.com

 

‘Don’t take Niyamgiri o videshi’ #Vedanta


By , TNN | Jan 14, 2013,

LANJIGARH: The congregation of about 500 Dongria and Kutia tribals to greet Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh with their traditional song and dance at Lanjigarh had no clue who the minister was or what was the purpose of his visit.

“We don’t know who Jairam Ramesh is,” said Dadhi Pushika, a local tribal, who couldn’t spell out the name of the minister properly. He said they were asked by some local Congressmen to gather at the venue of the public meeting on Sunday and to perform their traditional music and dance.

The tribals, who were singing and dancing merrily before the minister arrived at the venue, however, stopped doing so as soon as hisentourage arrived. The shy tribals didn’t budge even as the minister urged them to continue singing.

“We were also asked to come with our traditional weapons to brandish during his (minister’s) visit. So I asked some of my friends in the village to come, who asked me if the guest was coming in a helicopter,” smiled another tribal Drenju Wikaka shyly. He said they were asked to sing a pro-Niyamgiri song. But when asked what the words of their songs were, Wikaka said they were singing, “‘Don’t take Niyamgiri o videshi'”.

“Every time a guest comes to our village on Niyamgiri issue, we are invited although after his return things remain the same. He makes some promises, which the local educated people make us understand. But our villagers are being tortured and treated like dogs by the local police on suspicion of being involved in Maoist activities and the leaders are not doing anything,” said Kalia Sikoka. He stressed Niyamgiri is everything for them and they won’t give an inch of it, questioning innocently why is there so much fuss about it.

Abducted Malkangiri collector Vineel Krishna, who is the private secretary to Ramesh at present, was also part of the visit. He said the security system has to improve in Maoist-infested districts to successfully complete developmental projects meant for tribals. “Maoists are instigating the innocent people and taking advantage of underdevelopment. In order to ensure development we need people’s support,” said Krishna. About his release from Maoist abductors in 2011, he said his release was possible only because of the support of local people.

 

Nuke activist Udayakumar tops TOI poll


Chennai: Anti-nuclear activist S P Udayakumar has topped the poll conducted by TOI on role models who made news in 2012 for their vision,work and commitment.
By winning over 50% of the votes,he left luminaries like acclaimed liver surgeon Dr Mohamed Rela,sportspersons Dipika Pallikal and Viswanathan Anand,actor-director Kamal Haasan and Carnatic singer T M Krishna far behind.
Even Magsaysay award winner Kulandei Francis ranked much lower as compared to the anti-nuclear activist,who is campaigning against the Kudankulam power project.
Speaking to TOI on Monday,Udayakumar said that the struggle of the people in Idinthakarai would continue in a peaceful and non-violent manner.He also promised that the people would stand their ground against the project and take the struggle to a political plane.

 

Meri Skirt se Unchi ,Meri Avaaz hai.. #delhigangrape #Vaw


skirtfinal

Skirt  Se Unchi Meri Awaaz Hai

मेरी स्सक्रट से उँची मेरी आवाज़ है !

माँगे जो पीने को पानी कभी ,
भाग जाते हो दिल्ली, से लंडन तभी , 
सारी जनता को रो कर तब दिखाते हो , 
आज भर भर के पानी की तोप चलाई , 
बताओ अब पानी “कहाँ” से लाते हो? … 

मेरी स्सक्रट से उँची मेरी आवाज़ है , 
माना की सर पे तेरे ही ताज़ है , 
नारी हूँ , मिट्टी इसी की मैं भी , 
बता दूँगी दिल मेरे मे ” क्या आज है” … 

मेरी स्सक्रट से उँची मेरी आवाज़ है , 
क्या दिखता है “तुझको” , टॅंगो का चमडा, 
हैवान , तुझ मे “हवस” का राज है , 
क्या दिखता है , जब “काली” को तू देखता है ? .
क्या तब भी हवस से खुद को सेकता है ? 

मेरी स्सक्रट से उँची मेरी आवाज़ है , 
कानो को तेरे हिला दूँगी आज , 
वो गंदी नज़र को जला दूँगी आज , 
उस क्रांति मे तर्पण होगा तेरा , 

अब तेरे “तर्पण” मन हल्का होगा मेरा … 

चेत जाओ . ओ , नेता, ओ वेता सभी, 
मैं , नारी हूँ , यह जान लो , 
मेरी रग रग को पहचान लो , 
फिर यह जान लो …
मेरी स्सक्रट से उँची मेरी आवाज़ है .

 

By- Rahul Yogi Deveshwar

Post on Facebook threatens to blow up Jaipur airport


 

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

 

PTI | Sep 30, 2012, 08.42PM IST

 

 

Post on Facebook threatens to blow up Jaipur airport
Security has been tightened at Jaipur airport after reports of a Facebook post threatening to blow it up.
JAIPUR: Security in and around the Sanganer Airport here was stepped up on Sunday after security agencies received information about a post on social-networking website Facebookthreatening to blow up the airport on October 1.”We got information that somebody has uploaded content threatening bomb blast at the airport on a social networking website, following which we tightened security and briefed airlines about that,” airport’s officiating director P Srikrishna said, adding that the threat was non-specific.

Internal security at the airport is being handled by CISF and addition policemen have also been deployed outside the airport.

“We got inputs about the threat and the security has been tightened. The matter is being investigated and efforts are being made to locate the Facebook account user,” additional DCP Yogesh Dadhich said.

The content was reportedly uploaded by a woman on his Facebook wall in which she said that the airport will be blown up on October 1, police sources said.

The identity of the Facebook account user has not disclosed but police sources say its been operated somewhere in Churu district.

 

Kerala: Woman devotee? Sorry, no entry


 Ibnlive, Thiruvananthapuram: In Jammu‘s Sree Krishna temple, all rituals, including offering of daily prayers, are performed by women priests. The temple, also known as ‘Baion ka Mandir,’ is maintained by the distaff side which is proud to spread the message of women empowerment through religion.

Unfortunately, Malayinkeezhu is no Jammu. The Sree Krishna Temple here bars entry to women devotees! For centuries, women have not been allowed into the nalambalam, the core structure of the temple, which shares its antiquity with Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.

It is believed that the ban was enforced during the reign of the erstwhile Travancore ruler Sree Moolam Thirunal. “The two Pushpanjali Swamiyars of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple had to spend six months at the Malayinkeezhu temple. The custom to bar women’s entry probably began then as they were celibates,” says Malayinkeezhu Venugopal, district panchayat member and former president of the temple committee.

Kerala: Woman devotee? Sorry, no entry

“The Swamiyars do not reside here any more. So it is a folly to continue with the ban. It is unfortunate that women are not allowed in the temple even decades after the Temple Entry Proclamation was passed,” he says.

The cause has found its supporters in poet-priest Vishnu Narayanan Namboodiri and poet Sugathakumari. The duo, while attending an award function held as part of the temple festival, had demanded that women be allowed into the temple. Sugathakumari even refused to pray in front of the nalambalam and, instead, prayed in front of the flag mast.

“This is unjustified. We believe Lord Krishna will not have any opposition to women entering his temple,” says author Radhika C Nair. But not all women back a change. “There is no need for a change. This is not an issue of women’s rights, but of faith,” Saraswathiyamma, 60, says.

“We will hold a meeting of devotees on the issue. If the majority supports women’s entry, we will take a decision after consulting the temple thantri,” TDB president Rajagopalan Nair says.

“Much has to be done even before thinking of changing a centuries-old custom. Changing the custom would result in the temple losing its identity.

“If there is a popular demand, a vidwatsadas comprising eminent devotees, TDB officials, priests and members of the Travancore royal family should discuss the issue,” says temple thantri Thekkedath Kuzhikkattu Parameswaran Vasudevan Bhattathiripad.

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