Maharashtra to re-examine claims rejected under forest rights Act

Mumbai, May 10, 2013

Alok Deshpande, The Hindu 

Decision by Chavan comes after agitations by CPI(M), Kisan Sabha

Responding to the agitations by the CPI(M) and the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the Maharashtra government has agreed to re-examine around two-lakh rejected claims of land rights made under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

The re-evaluation will be first carried out in Thane and Nashik districts, which have the highest number of claims.

The decision was taken at a meeting held on April 17 in the office of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

According to government figures, till February 2013, 3,44,148 claims were received. Of these, 1,43,577 claims have been approved, while 1,97,600 requests have been rejected and 2,971 are still pending.

According to the minutes of the meeting available with The Hindu, Mr. Chavan has asked the organisations spearheading the agitation to prepare a list of applicants denied of land rights despite their having submitted two proofs mentioned under the Act.

“The list should be submitted to the District Collectors of Thane and Nashik, along with the copies of proofs. The Collectors should revaluate all these cases and take decision as per the rules,” directed Mr. Chavan. Which means, the government will now re-evaluate 1,97,600 rejected claims.

The Act grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities. Those who are cultivating the land prior to December 13, 2005 but do not have documents can claim the land. The upper limit of the claim has been set as four hectares.

Interestingly, of the total rejected claims, only 50,466 have been dismissed at the gram sabha level, while 1,76,456 have been rejected at the sub-divisional committee level.

“This is where the problem lies. The gram sabhas’ decision becomes meaningless when the Act has clearly given them the authority of receiving claims, consolidating and verifying them. The upper committees are clearly violating the gram sabhas’ rights,” said Ashok Dhawale, secretary, Maharashtra CPI(M) State Committee. Last month, the party launched an agitation in Thane and Nashik districts by blocking the highways, demanding re-evaluation.

Dr. Dhawale said: “The claims are getting rejected because the government officer, instead of going on a field survey, sits in the office and decides. The claims are being transferred to the Forest department for approval, which is not permitted as per the Act.”

Despite the Act clearly stating that there should be no direct involvement of the Forest department in granting or rejecting the claims, a letter from the Chief Forest Conservator, dated July 18, 2008, was used to supervise the entire procedure of claims. The letter now stands cancelled after the meeting at the CMO.

Taking a note of allegations, the government has made it clear that apart from the gram sabha, the sub-divisional committee and the district-level committee no other committee should interfere in the matter.


Maharshtra – 2012 drought worse than in 1972; study blames govt mishandling

Ketaki Ghoge , Hindustan times , April 4, 2013

MUMBAI: The drought looming in one-third of the state has been compared to that in 1972. Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, among others, termed it as worse than the one the state faced 40 years back.

The answer to this remark can be traced more to the government’s failure in agriculture and water management than nature’s wrath.

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), a network of organisations working on water- related issues, compared and analysed rainfall figures from June to October in 1972 and 2012 in 17 drought-affected districts and found that rainfall in 1972 was much lower than in 2012 for every month except June.

The figures show that in 2012, eight districts witnessed more than 50% deficit rainfall in June, none in July, three districts had 50% deficit rainfall in August, one district in September and two districts in October.

In 1972, three districts witnessed more than 50% deficit rainfall in June, nine districts in July, nine in August, six in September and 17 in October.

In 1971 too, rainfall was low. But in 2011, the rainfall was above average and most of the dams were full.

SANDRP argued that in the intervening 40 years, Maharashtra has been able to build big dams and it should have been able to store more water and reduce the impact of rainfall deficit. However, big dams starting with Jayakwadi, Ujani and Dudhana have nearly 0 % live storage as of now.

One of the reasons that SANDRP attributes this to is sugarcane farming. Overall, the area under sugarcane in Maharashtra increased from 167,000 hectares in 1972 to 102,2000 hectares in 2012. “Solapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, Satara, Sangli, Jalna, Osmanabad, Beed, Latur, Nasik, Parbhani and Aurangabad , all drought prone and drought affected districts of the state, are also major sugarcane producing districts. They collectively produce 79.5 % of sugarcane of Maharashtra and more than a quarter of sugarcane production of the country in 2012,” said Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP. The repeated drought cycle has not stopped farmers from taking up sugarcane farming and the government has failed to put any restrictions on this waterguzzling farming or control water releases upstream from the big dams.

Research by South Asia

Nashik youths develop ‘Me Against Rape’ Android app for women’s safety #Vaw

By , ET
Three Nashik youths have developed an Android app called Me Against Rape that women can use as an emergency alert system. The app allows user to seek assistance from family and friends with just press of a button.
Nashik youths develop 'Me Against Rape' Android app for women's safety

Three youths from Nashik have come with an app that women can use as an emergency alert system alarm and seek assistance from friends or family in time of distress. The software called ‘Me Against Rape’ has been developed in view of the recent incidents of crime against women.

Makers of the app, Gunwant Battashe (23), engineer Anup Unnikrishanan (24) and graphic designer Jayesh Bankar (23) say the Me Against Rape app is available for Android-based smartphones for free.

The app features a one-touch helpline facility, recording facility, and can send location and time details every 10 minutes — including latitude, longitude, address and Google Maps link. The developers of the app believe the app would be very helpful in fighting against atrocities to women.

“If a woman is in any kind of a trouble, she has to just press the help button which will send an SMS to her relative or contact person as registered informing him/ her about her,” say the trio.

The developers also showed off the features of the app to Nashik Commissioner of Police, Kulwant Kumar Sarangal, who said it is an “excellent” option.

There are quite a few similar apps available for smartphone users that can be used as an emergency alert system. Delhi-based security services firm Indianeye Security Pvt. Ltd. has launched a new mobile application called Eyewatch. The app ends multiple messages, images, videos, sound bites and other details such as location status with the press of a button. Users can also press the SOS button to alert contacts listed (maximum three) as the emergency contacts via SMS and e-mail.

There’s also a WhyPoll app aimed at women’s safety. After massive public outrage over Delhi gangrape incidents, a similar Nirbhaya app was launched for smartphone users.

Sex worker saves girl from getting into flesh trade #goodnews #Vaw


23 Feb 13
Nashik (Maha), Feb 23, 2013 (PTI): \

A 14-year-old girl was rescued by police from a red light area here, thanks to a sex worker.

According to police, the girl’s “uncle”, identified as Vjay Bhika Dive, brought her to the city by promising to buy her new clothes and tried to sell her to a pimp.

But the women who he had approached for selling the girl, instead tipped off the Bhadrakali police, which rushed to the spot, and called the girl’s parents, who are residents of nearby Dindori town.

While the girl was handed over to her parents, Dive was handed over Dindori police for further action.



#India- Freed from jail, man rapes, murders 9-year-old girl #WTFnews #Vaw

By Mihir Tanksale & Santosh Sonawane, TNN | Jan 14, 2013,

Freed from jail, man rapes, murders 9-year-old girl
According to the police, the accused took the child to a secluded place, raped and murdered her before burying her body.
PUNE/NASHIK: A 32-year-old man, who had been acquitted last year by the high court of all charges in the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl at Sinnar in Nashik district in 2003, was arrested on Friday for allegedly committing a similar crime — the rape and murder of another nine-year-old girl at Shirdi in Ahmednagar district. The man, Sunil alias Pappu Suresh Salve, had also been arrested in three more similar cases in 2002. It wasn’t known whether those three cases involved minor girls.

Speaking to TOI, inspector Datta Pawar of theShirdi police, who is investigating the Shirdi case, said Salve kidnapped the girl on December 28 last year. “After raping and killing her near the Sainagar railway station in Shirdi, he buried the body. After his arrest, we exhumed the girl’s body and conducted post-mortem.”

Pawar said in the Sinnar case, Salve, who is from Nashik, was given death sentence by the Nashik district court. “However, the high court subsequently acquitted him. He was released from the Nashik central jail on May 28, 2012, after completing his sentences in the earlier cases. Since then, he has been living in Shirdi with his wife and two children,” he said.

Pawar said Salve and the girl lived in the same locality in Shirdi. “On December 28, when the girl didn’t return home from school, her parents began searching for her and Salve helped them in the search. While investigating the case, another girl told her parents that she had seen the victim with Salve in the afternoon of December 28,” Pawar said. When Salve heard this, he fled Shirdi.

Police teams were formed to track down Salve. On Friday, police learnt that Salve had called up his wife and asked her to come to Manmad railway station. “We laid a trap and nabbed him. During interrogation, he admitted to having raped and murdered the girl,” he said.

Buried girl’s body

Pawar said Salve revealed that the girl was going to school when he asked her to come with him to find his 12-year-old son. “As the girl knew Salve, she went with him. He took her to a secluded place near the railway station and raped and murdered her. He buried the body and returned home,” he said.

Salve sold photo frames outside the Shirdi temple. He was produced in court on Saturday and remanded to police custody till January 17. “We are probing whether he has committed any other crimes after being released from jail in May last year,” Pawar said.

Sunita Salunkhe-Thakre, additional superintendent of police (Ahmednagar), confirmed that the high court had acquitted Salve in the Sinnar case. She said in 2002, three similar cases were registered against Salve by Ambad and Nashik road police stations. “In the case registered by the Ambad police, Salve was charged with kidnapping and rape and sentenced to six years’ rigorous imprisonment. In the two cases under the Nashik Road police station, he was sentenced to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment for kidnap, rape and murder in one, but acquitted of kidnap and rape in the other,” she said.

An organization working for nomadic tribes blocked roads in Shirdi on Saturday to protest against the crime. State agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil met the parents of the victim and announced a financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh.

Inspector general (special) Dhananjay Kamlakar of Nashik Range said police superintendents have been told to examine judgments in such cases before deciding on the legal course of action to be taken.

(With inputs from Tarachand Mhaske, Ahmednagar)


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