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Archives for : September2017

Dalit student leader faces death threats over derogatory comments from fake FB profile

Osmania university police have registered a case based on Sharat Naliganti’s complaint.

In an alarming incident, a Dalit student leader from Osmania University is allegedly facing a barrage of death threats, all because another person created a fake account in his name and posted some outrageous comments against certain communities.

Sharat Naliganti, from Osmania University, has been allegedly receiving death threats from several people after a person called Mandhumula Sudhakar created a fake Facebook account under the name “Sharath chamar naliganti”. Following this, he posted some objectionable comments from the fake account against certain communities on Thursday night around 9.20pm.

After the post was put up, it attracted severe criticism from several people on Facebook with calls for Sharat to face them directly.

Speaking to TNM, Sharat Naliganti said, “Following that post from the fake account, ‘ABVP’ and its allied groups created ruckus at a seminar which was organised in Nizam College of Osmania University, with shouts of “Call out that Sharat, we will beat him up”.

“Many are also threatening me and asking me to step out of the campus so that they can attack me”, he claimed.

Osmania university police have registered a case based on Sharat Naliganti’s complaint.

The student leader said, “This is all happening because I have supported Prof Kancha Ilaiah in the wake of protests over his book ‘Komatollu- Societal Smugglers’, and organised a rally in support of the Professor.”

He added, “This is just to silence our voices. If they are mature enough, they should come for a civilised debate, instead of making abusive remarks against one’s mothers and sisters. This won’t stop us from supporting Ilaiah.”

He said that attacks from ABVP are not new for him on the campus as they began in 2014. “However, these things cannot stop me from standing up for freedom of expression”, he asserted.

The student leader had contested in the assembly elections of 2014 from Amberpet constituency, against state BJP leader Kishan Reddy.

http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/ou-dalit-student-leader-faces-death-threats-over-derogatory-comments-fake-fb-profile-68479

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Another Huge Protest the Media Blacks out : Bank Employees March On Parliament

NEW DELHI: Thousands of bank employees from all over India participated in a huge March on Parliament in Delhi on Friday.

Employees travelled all the way from Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and other states to march for their demands for reforms checking Bank privatisation and consolidation (mergers),tough measures to recover big corporate loan arrears, reducing interest rates on deposits amongst others A memorandum of demands was handed over to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Shouting slogans Save Public Banks to Save the Nation, Peoples Money for Peoples Welfare, the employees,including many women , ended the march with a big rally on Parliament street. Devidas Tuljapurkar, Joint Secretary, All India Bank Employees Association told The Citizen that the Unions have resolved to intensify the struggle if their demands were not met, and the government failed to adopt conciliatory measures.

Political leaders across the spectrum addressed the rally including the Shiv Sena, Left Parties, Congress, and Janata Dal(U) dissenting member Sharad Yadav. The others included Arvind Sawant from the Sena, Digvijay Singh, Sitaram Yechury, D.Raja, Tapan Sen.

More photographs:

 

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/2/11740/Another-Huge-Protest-That-the-Media-Has-

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Alarm bells we cannot ignore’: world hunger rising for first time this century

UN agencies warn conflict and climate change are undermining food security, causing chronic undernourishment and threatening to reverse years of progress

The number of hungry people in the world has increased for the first time since the turn of the century, sparking concern that conflict and climate change could be reversing years of progress.

In 2016, the number of chronically undernourished people reached 815 million, up 38 million from the previous year. The increase is due largely to the proliferation of violence and climate-related shocks, according to the state of food insecurity and nutrition in 2017, a report produced by five UN agencies.

The study also noted a rise in the number of people globally who are chronically hungry, from 10.6% in 2015 to 11% in 2016.

Cindy Holleman, a senior economist at the Food and Agriculture Organisation, said it was hard to know whether the increase was a blip or marked the reversal of a long-term trend. However, she said the rise in conflict and climate change – factors that rank alongside economic slowdown, which makes food hard to access for poor people, as key drivers of food insecurity – was cause for concern.

“Whether it has been a blip and it’s going to go back down again, we’re not sure,” said Holleman. “But we’re sending warning signals. We are sending a message that something is going on.

“If you look at the 815 million [chronically undernourished] people, 489 million or 60% of them are located in countries affected by conflict. Over the last decade we’re seen a significant increase in conflict. We also see that conflict combined with climatic effects is having a significant effect.”

A foreword to the report, written jointly by the heads of the five UN agencies, said: “Over the past decade, conflicts have risen dramatically in number and become more complex and intractable in nature.

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“This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore: we will not end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition. Securing peaceful and inclusive societies is a necessary condition to that end.”

Oxfam’s head of food and climate change, Robin Willoughby, said:
“This must act as a wake-up call for international leaders and institutions to do more to resolve the catastrophic cocktail of climate change and conflict around the world. Global failure to tackle these issues affects us all, but it’s the world’s poorest who will suffer most.”

The report is the first UN global assessment of food security and nutrition following the adoption of the sustainable development goals, which aim to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

Progress has been made on reducing global hunger, which affected more than 900 million people at the turn of the century. Over the past year, however, hunger has reached an “extreme level” in many parts of the world, with famine declared in South Sudan in February, and Yemen, north-east Nigeria and Somalia considered on the brink.

People living in countries affected by protracted crisis are nearly two and a half times more likely to be undernourished than those living elsewhere, the report said.

Fuelled partly by extreme weather patterns resulting from El Niño, food security “deteriorated sharply” in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and in south-east and western Asia, said the report.

Chronic child malnutrition continues to fall, but at a slower rate in some regions, the report found. Wasting remains a threat to the lives of 52 million children.

Overweight and obesity rates in children are rising in most regions, and in all regions for adults. Such “multiple burdens” for malnutrition is a “cause for serious concern”, said the report.

Africa has the highest levels of severe food insecurity, affecting 27.4% of the population – almost four times that of any other region. Higher food insecurity was also observed in Latin America, rising from 4.7% to 6.4%.https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/sep/15/alarm-bells-we-cannot-ignore-world-hunger-rising-for-first-time-this-century

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India – Public interest litigation filed calling for investigation into Adani Group

Chairman of the Adani Group Gautam Adani.

Writ alleges the Adani Group, the Indian company Essar, and several others inflated the price of power equipment and coal ‘in order to cheat the people’

Public-interest litigation has been filed in India’s top court asking for a special investigation into claims the Adani Group and other energy companies inflated coal and equipment prices to siphon money from India.

In August the Guardian revealed details of a massive fraud investigation into the Adani Group, an Indian conglomerate preparing to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in Australia.

According to Indian customs intelligence documents from 2014, the Adani Group was accused of inflating the cost of electricity equipment for two power projects in Maharashtra state using fraudulent invoices. Authorities valued the alleged scam at nearly 15bn rupees (£177m).

Read the pdf here.

The Adani Group has been cleared on similar allegations in a separate fraud case that had been valued at about 39bn rupees. The alleged 15bn-rupee scam is still awaiting judgment and Adani has fully denied any wrongdoing.

A public interest lawsuit filed this week asked the Indian supreme court to order a “thorough” probe into the over-invoicing allegations against the Adani Group and other energy and mining companies.

The writ alleges the Adani Group, the Indian company Essar, and several others inflated the price of power equipment and coal “in order to cheat the people and to siphon off funds from public companies”.

Subsidiaries of Essar and the Adani Group are among 40 companies who have been accused of using front organisations to increase the price of coal they mined from Indonesia. The total value of the alleged scam has been estimated at 290bn rupees.

If the allegations are true, the price inflation would have allowed the companies to move money from their Indian balance sheets into overseas accounts, where the funds would be harder to tax or account for. It would have also led to higher power prices for Indians.

The lawsuit accuses the companies of “cheating the shareholders and the tax authorities, in addition to cheating the consumers”.

Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan and two Indian legal centres have drafted and funded the litigation, which will now be reviewed by the supreme court.

The petition criticised the “shocking” decision by India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to dismiss the complaint against the Adani Group in the 39bn-rupee fraud case.

It accused the agency of dealing with crucial evidence “in a casual manner” and said the timing of the decision – more than three years after the allegations were first levelled, and days after the Guardian’s story – was “very curious”.

Congress, India’s largest opposition party, has also publicly called for the supreme court to investigate the allegations of invoice inflation against the Adani Group.

News of the investigation led to calls in Australiafor the Adani Group to be denied a $700m loan to build a railway link between the proposed coal mine and a port on the Queensland coast.

The proposed Queensland mine, which would be Australia’s largest, has been the source of years of controversy, lawsuits and protests over its possible environmental impact.

Expanding the coal port to accommodate the mine will require dredging an estimated 1.1m cubic metres of spoil near the Great Barrier Reef marine park. Coal from the mine will also produce annual emissions equivalent to those of Malaysia or Austria according to one study.

A spokesman for Essar said: “We strongly and categorically deny the allegation. The company is cooperating with the agency and has already provided necessary clarification.”

The Adani Group has been contacted for comment.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/15/public-interest-lawsuit-filed-in-india-calling-for-investigation-into-adani-group

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A 14-Year-Old Dalit Boy Was Beaten & Forced To Clean Toilets By Social Welfare Workers #WTFnews

Childhood is not the dreamy ideal that we all think of.

There is another reality, an unpalatable one. Here’s how the cookie crumbles for many  others in our country inspite of having fundamental rights granted by The Constitution of India  

A Dalit student at a government run school in Uttar Pradesh was allegedly forced to clean toilets, give massages and do menial tasks for the district social welfare officer.

According to a report by Times Of India, this 14-year-old Dalit boy alleged that he was  physically assaulted and starved. District officials have ordered an inquiry into the matter.

Image Courtesy – Mirror 
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Amit Kumar, from Sikandarpur village, is a student at Rajkiya Ashram Paddhati Vidyalaya at Itora. In his complaint to the district magistrate, he alleged that school superintendent Rakesh Dubey ordered kumar to give him a head massage.

Amit was then told that he would be given Rs 8,000 for working at the residence of Sanjeev Mishra (district social welfare officer) in Ghaziabad.

Image Courtesy – Pexels 

According to the child, he was taken to Ghaziabad on the 16th of May where he was forced to give body massages,do household chores, look after Sanjeev Mishra’s dogs and also clean toilets. In his complaint, he said that he was very often beaten by the man.

Amit managed to flee the house after 33 days of this “forced labour”.

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Image Courtesy – Pexels 

At Agra Cantt railway station, he was found by railway police travelling without a ticket and was sent to the school where he raised the matter and attempted to make a complaint with the social welfare departments. He alleged that he was warned to keep quiet or he would be made an accused in a theft case.

“The boy has made serious charges against the social welfare officer and the school superintendent A detailed inquiry has been ordered. If the charges are found to be correct, the district administration will ensure strict action,” was what additional district magistrate KP Singh had to say when he spoke to TOI.

“The allegations are completely baseless. I have never met the boy. This seems to be a conspiracy against me,” said Mishra,when speaking to TOI.

Meanwhile, child rights activist Naresh Paras has forwarded the complaint to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the chief minister’s ‘Jan Sunwai’ portal.

https://www.scoopwhoop.com/dalit-boy-beaten-forced-to-clean-toilets/#.42ao1v5yj

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India – What floods exposed in Gujarat

Hardnews Bureau

In Gujarat, floods have uncovered the inefficacy of the government

Martin Macwan Ahmedabad 

While driving down from Baspa village (about 15 km from Sami) to Radhanpur in Gujarat, I was taken back to the year 2000, when an earthquake had struck the state. Except this time, it was floods. The waters of the Banas had washed away one side of the national highway. Had the canals been constructed haphazardly to complete them within a specified time? No one seemed to ask this question, especially at a time when the chief minister was distributing flood relief consisting of food packets, clothing and a cash dole of Rs 65 and Rs 45 for an adult and a minor, respectively, to cover a period of 10 days.

The Maldharis had taken over one side of the road with their buffaloes. The relief truck ahead of me was flinging bundles of used clothes, while locals were eagerly waiting for relief. They shoved the clothes they liked in an empty travel bag as soon as they got their hands on them; the rest they discarded on the road.

The highway had a great deal of police presence with numerous politicians visiting the flood-hit areas. In Runi village, Kankrej, where a Jain temple spread over 20 bighas dominates, part of its wall had collapsed. Across the road from the temple is a Dalit area where leather workers and scavengers live in homes barely eight feet by eight feet. Some had managed to empty their homes of the flood’s sludge and sand. Water levels in this area had risen to more than 13 feet, entirely submerging homes. People had taken shelter on the top floor of the village co-operative, or any other terrace they could find, braving rain and wind for about 30 hours before the Army reached them with some biscuits. In one home, we met a young Dalit man who had lost his post-graduate certificates, and two children who were drying their school books on a terrace tarred with dirt and water.

In 1979, as a college student, I had volunteered in Morbi in Gujarat after the Machhu dam had burst. We helped locals clear their homes after the floods. In Runi this time, I saw no volunteers. There were only visitors, and relief distributors. The richer folks had access to the JCB machines that could dig away the sludge, even as Dalits waited to hire tractors to remove the rotting grain, bedding and the debris the flood had left behind. Many Dalit homes remained as the floods had left them, with the geriatric inhabitants unable to clear them in the absence of the younger population that had travelled far to look for jobs. An old woman was assisted by her two sons-in-law who had come to help clear her one-room home. An old man had lost his buffalo. He earned his living by playing the drum and making supda. Each family I visited had lost an average of 800 kg of grain, part of the community system of storing a year’s supply of rations for the family. As trucks distributing packaged food occupied the narrow village road, locals refused to take the food as they were tired of the handouts. They were more worried about removing the sludge from their homes, fearing an epidemic. The stench of rotting grain pervaded the village, and there was barely any place to sleep, with swarms of mosquitoes hovering in the air.

Under a tree at the centre of the village, a heap of used garments lay, dumped by relief workers. Everybody had rejected them. Some families of the Majirana community sat in an open ground around their mud homes whose bamboo roofs had tumbled to the ground. No one from the village had ever met with such tragedy. They had been battered by the Narmada canal. A large portion of the canal had been unable to withstand the pressure of the water flow, and had quickly given away, raising water levels inside the village. Locals said the gandabaval trees’ deep roots had penetrated the base of the canal and weakened its walls.

The Dalits had been able to bargain from the village panchayat a pucca brick wall around some of their homes. Built barely six months earlier, the wall, without proper foundation, had collapsed. In fact, most structures built under new government schemes had collapsed, while older structures had stood firmly.

In Khariya village, more than 22 bodies were recovered from beneath the sand. Most roads had been washed away and several villages could be seen at a far distance submerged in the floodwaters. They were now accessible only by boats, two of which had been put into service. Police and volunteers were guarding the queue of people whose homes were on the other side and who were awaiting their turn. No one knew how many people had died. Many lived on farms scattered around the villages. Worse, there was no record of the number of migrant labourers who had lived on these farms.

At a safer distance from the Banas river, the sludge had been cleared from homes. All relief teams, however, located their distribution networks here. A large stack of mattresses was locked away in a room, awaiting distribution. The Kshatriya-Thakur Sena and the RSS relief teams were quite visible, with caste distinctions and preexisting prejudices remaining intact despite the floods. Locals often asked relief workers and visitors their castes.

As politicians blamed each other, the Army and civil society reacted quickly to save lives and provide relief. Except for the police, there was little presence of the government. The cash relief was handed out via a survey by primary schoolteachers.

The floodwaters may have receded, but the damage has been done. People have lost homes, foodgrains, and their financial savings. Worse, those who owned farmland lost the top soil, while farm boundaries have disappeared too. My colleagues suggested this was a blessing in disguise for the sand mafia. “The Banas brought sand along with it that will find its way to Ahmedabad construction sites,” they said.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: SEPTEMBER 2017

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Assam – RTI leader Akhil Gogoi arrested on sedition charges, activists demand immediate release

He is believed to have said that people from the state would take up arms if Hindu migrants from Bangladesh were ‘forced upon Assam’.

The Assam Police arrested anti-corruption campaigner and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi on charges of sedition on Wednesday. He was arrested from Golaghat city for his speech about an armed struggle in Assam’s Moran town on Tuesday. He has also been accused of spreading religious animosity, police said.

During his speech, Gogoi is believed to have said that if Hindu migrants from Bangladesh were forced upon Assam, people from the state would be forced to take up arms. In 2016, the Union government proposed to amend the Citizenship Act to grant citizenship to people without valid documents belonging to minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India.

Former United Liberation Front of Assam militant Jiten Dutta was also present during the event at Moran.

Gogoi has been a vocal critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government.

Accusations against the state government

During the past few weeks, Gogoi has addressed a number of public gatherings, where he accused the ruling BJP of spreading the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s agenda in the state. He rebuked the state’s decision to name colleges in the state after former Jan Sangh leader Deendayal Upadhyaya.

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti President Bhascojyoti Saikia said a team of police officials accompanied by paramilitary forces apprehended Gogoi from the organisation’s Golaghat office on Wednesday evening. Gogoi had arrived there after a public meeting in Jorhat district. Gogoi, who was dressed in a lungi and a vest, was not allowed to get dressed by the team, claimed Saikia.

Sections 153, 153 A, 120 B, 121, 124 A and 109 of the Indian Penal Code have been applied, said Dibrugarh Superintendent of Police Gautam Borah, adding that that police acted on its own.

Gogoi has been leading an agitation against the government’s handling of the farming crisis in Assam. He has also been fighting against the building of dams, land mafia and corruption in public life, The Wire reported. In 2012, he collaborated with Anna Hazare who supported his organisation’s blockading of equipment meant for the construction of the Subansiri Lower Dam.

KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi arrested for allegedly instigate people to take up arms- Assam Police

 

 

 

 

NAPM condemns arrest of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi on sedition charges

Demands immediate unconditional release 

New Delhi | September 15, 2017: Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) for more than a decade has fought for the rights of the people and their sovereign control over land, water and forests. It has exposed corruption in PDS and other government welfare schemes and have remained committed to people’s rights. It is a mass organisation that is made up of farmers, workers and students spread across various districts of Assam and is part of various national organisations and networks including National Alliance of People’s Movements, All India Kisan Coordination Committee, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, Sangharsh and many others. Their democratic movement has received support from across the country.

The role of KMSS in raising issues of people’s right to their lands has been central, whether in opposing the Lower Subansiri Hydro Power Project and demanding the protection of people’s right to their livelihood, or in opposing the forcible eviction of cultivators from the Kaziranga National Park that took place under extremely violent and coercive conditions, has been central and critical in giving people the strength to oppose powerful forces that seek to deprive them of what is rightfully theirs. KMSS has had a particularly important role in exposing the resource grab currently taking place in Assam, with the full support and backing of the state government and its institutions, and in defending the rights of the indigenous and cultivating population of the region.

It is their growing popularity and acceptance across various classes and sections in Assam that this BJP government and earlier Congress government has always feared. Akhil Gogoi and KMSS activists have faced repression over years and this is not the first time they have been targeted for posing a sharp critique of the undemocratic policies of the state. Repeated arrests and muzzling of dissent has been a consistent strategy whether by the previous government, or the current government. KMSS has opposed the saffronisation move of the BJP government – in its attempt to name 21 government colleges after RSS ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, or in its attempt to amend the Citizenship Act that uses a communal basis to grant citizenship to refugees of one religion and not another. In opposing this polarising and communal politics of the ruling BJP government, KMSS has worked hard to bring together secular and progressive forces and that is the main reason why they are miffed and have arrested Akhil once again on fabricated charges.

NAPM stands in solidarity with Akhil Gogoi and KMSS in their struggle to secure people’s rights and protect their livelihood. We condemn this brazen attack on the people’s movements by the Assam government and demand immediate release of Akhil Gogoi and withdraw all false charges.

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Medha PatkarNarmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)

Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and NAPM

Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, and NAPM, Odisha

P.Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union-APVVU and National Centre For Labour and NAPM (Andhra Pradesh)

Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for RTI and NAPM (Andhra Pradesh)

Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)

Gabriele Dietrich, Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Madurai and NAPM (Tamilnadu)

Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, (Tamilnadu)

Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party and NAPM, Uttar Pradesh

Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union, and NAPM, Karnataka

Maj Gen (Retd) S. G. Vombatkere, Mysuru, NAPM, Karnataka

Arundhati Dhuru, Manesh Gupta, NAPM, Uttar Pradesh

Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan and Prof. Kusumam NAPM, Kerala

Anand Mazgaonkar and Krishnakant, Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat

Vimal Bhai, Matu Jansangathan, NAPM, Uttarakhand

Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-Moolnivasi Astivtva Raksha Samiti, NAPM Jharkhand

Dr. Sunilam and Adv. Aradhna Bhargava, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, and NAPM, Madhya Pradesh

Samar Bagchi and Amitava Mitra, NAPM West Bengal

Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, and Prasad Bagwe, NAPM Maharashtra

Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan

Gautam Bandopadhyay, NAPM, Chhattisgarh

Anjali Bharadwaj, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and NAPM

Kaladas Dahariya, RELAA, Chhatisgarh

Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM Telangana-Andhra Pradesh

Bhupender Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, NAPM, Delhi

Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, NAPM Haryana

J S Walia, NAPM Haryana

Lingraj Azad, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, and NAPM, Odisha

Guruwant Singh, NAPM Punjab

Richa Singh, Sangatin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, NAPM Uttar Pradesh

Arul Doss, NAPM (Tamilnadu)

Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand

Sister Dorothy, NAPM Bihar

Kamayani Swami and Ashish Ranjan, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, and NAPM Bihar
Mahendra Yadav, Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar

Bilal Khan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai and NAPM

Rajendra Ravi, Nanhu Prasad, Madhuresh Kumar, Sunita Rani, Amit Kumar, Himshi Singh, Uma, NAPM, Delhi

Aaquib Zabed Mazumder, Rajesh Serupally, NAPM, Telangana – Andhra Pradesh


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Odisha pollution board asks Vedanta to close 5 power units

Boycott #Vedanta #JLFSouthbank protest on May 21

g conglomerate Vedanta today said the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), Odisha, has directed it to temporarily close five units of its power plants which may marginally have an impact on the cost of production of aluminium.

The SPCB has asked the company to submit “concrete plan” to comply with certain conditions, it said.


In a filing to BSE, Vedanta said: “Following a breach in the Ash Pond dyke wall at Jharsuguda at the end of August, the SPCB, Odisha, on September 13, 2017 served a direction resulting in temporary closure of three units of 135 MW each of the 1215 mw power plant and two units of 600 mw each of the 2400 mw power plant.”

Permission has been given to the company to operate the remaining units of the 1215 mw power plant to operate until October 12, 2017.

Similarly, the other units of the 2400 mw plant have got a go-head to operate till September 20.

“The SPCB has asked the company for compliance of certain conditions with a concrete plan within five days. The company is complying with the order of SPCB along with a request for the revoking the said closure orders,” the filing said.

The action may call for purchase of power of temporarily.

“The action may require a temporary power purchase of up to 200 mw and hence a marginal impact on cost of production of aluminium. The company expects to be able to sustain the smelter capacity without affecting its production volume,” it said.

Vedanta said it is was working towards the lifting of the closure orders of SPCB at the earliest, ensuring that production of aluminium does not take a hit.

AGENCIES

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Government of India Starts Drowning Narmada Valley to celebrate Modi’s Birthday!

 

ACTION  ALERT 

 Life of more than 40000 families in danger!

 

– Water Level rises to 128.50 meters, Water enters into Rajghat, Nisarpur and other villages.

– Villagers determined, will not vacate house, ready to get drowned.

– People of Narmada Valley declared MP Government Dead for Narmada Valley.

– Water released from unfilled reservoirs to fill the Sardar Sarovar, murder for celebrating Narmada Mahotsav and dedicating the Dam on Modi’s birthday is shameful tactics amidst upcoming polls in Gujarat.

 

Badwani, Madhya Pradesh | September 15, 2017: In an unprecedented turn of event, Madhya Pradesh Government coercive measures resulting drowning of more than 40000 families living in the submergence area of Sardar Sarovar Dam. Since yesterday, water level is continuously rising and now reached to 128.50 meters drowning Rajghat, Nisarpur and other villages. Water level is continuously rising after release of large amount of water from unfilled dams just to celebrate the Narmada Mahotsav on Modi’s birthday. This is nothing but a shameless show of personal obsession by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and disastrous submission by Shivraj Singh Chouhan to the dirty politics supported by Gujarat and Maharashtra Government. Water being released from other dams to fill the Sardar Sarovar, resulting drowning of thousands of families, Houses, bridges, Cattles, trees and large tracts of forest and prime agricultural land.

 

A large number of affected families haven’t received the house plots and compensation entitled to them, thousands of applications remain unheard before the Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA), leaving no options to the families but to protest on streets.

 

In Gujarat, the Narmada Canals is also not complete and only able to construct nearly 30% of the total length of Canal network, which exposes the claims of Government to bring water to Kutch and other districts of Gujarat. This is nothing but a politics of giving false hope to people of Gujarat to win elections at the cost of life of lakhs of people of Narmada Valley.

 

This cannot be more shameless act by the elected Government of any democratic country. WE APPEAL TO THE CITIZENS OF THIS COUNTRY TO STAND WITH PEOPLE OF NARMADA VALLEY AND CALL OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES and ask them to immediately stop filling Sardar Sarovar dam till the rehabilitation is complete as per the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award (NWDTA), state policy and many court judgments. Please call to the following contact numbers, email them and held them accountable for safeguarding the constitutional right of life and livelihood.

Important Contact Details of Authorities and Officials who can avert the tragedy are mentioned below: 

Sriman Shukla (Dhar Collector/Magistrate) –  +91 7292234702 (Office), +91 7292234701 (Res.)

Tejaswi S Naik (Barwani Collector) – +91 7290224001 (Office), +91 7290224002 (Res)

Ashok Kumar Verma (Collector, Khargone) – +91 7282223263 (Office), +91 7282232364 (Res)

Ganesh Shankar Mishra (Collector, Alirajpur)+91 7394234400 (Office), +91 7394234500 (Res)

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President of India

Shri Ramnath Kovind – [email protected] – +91 11 23015321 ( Off.), +91 11 23017290, 23017824 (Fax)

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Secretary to President

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From Aadhaar To Privacy Right: The Spin-off of The #Aadhaar Controversy

The word “private” has the meanings: (1) belonging to a particular person (his/her own body or his/her own property), (2) not sharing thoughts or feelings with others, and (3) not connected with a person’s work or official role. From this adjective, we obtain the abstract noun “privacy”, which means “a state in which one is not watched or disturbed by others”. Thus privacy is something precious to a biological person, and includes the need to be left alone, even while remaining a member of society.

Glenn Greenwald, recounting Edward Snowden’s exposure of US NSA’s clandestine surveillance, writes: “Only when we believe that nobody else is watching us do we feel free – safe – to truly experiment, to test boundaries, to explore new ways of thinking and being, to explore what it means to be ourselves… for that reason, it is in the realm of privacy where creativity, dissent, and challenges to orthodoxy germinate. A society in which everyone knows they can be watched by the state – where the private realm is effectively eliminated – is one in which those attributes are lost, at both the societal and the individual level.”

The Constitutional Preamble secures to all its citizens liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. Thus the Constitution assures freedom of thought, word and deed. A person is essentially free to think about anything, and there can be no external control on the thought process except perhaps only in very broad terms, such as political or religious propaganda or insidious advertisement. A person’s thoughts are revealed directly or indirectly only through his/her words or deeds. However, administration of certain so-called truth drugs by (illegal) narco-analysis can force inner-most thoughts to surface in words or movements, although the veracity and reliability of such revelations are questionable. Thus, by thought alone, one person cannot violate another person’s privacy. But by expressing his/her thought(s) through words or deeds, another person can be disturbed, and thus constitute invasion of privacy. Hence the need to have reasonable restrictions on the right of expression.

But the issue of privacy calls for somewhat more detailed consideration in the context of the relationship between the State and the individual human being (“citizen” hereinafter), where the right to privacy assumes different aspects and dimensions. [This author prefers to use the word “citizen” instead of “person”, because the word “person” can be extended to corporate bodies which possess the legal fiction of personhood]. To understand the aspects of the right to privacy and its effects on the private and civic life of a citizen, one needs to look at the historic unanimous verdict (Justice K.S.Puttaswamy v. Union of India, “Puttaswamy Judgment” hereinafter) of the Supreme Court’s nine-judge bench on 24 August 2017, in which the right to privacy was pronounced as a fundamental right which, like other fundamental rights, is subject to reasonable restrictions.

It is appropriate to begin with para 3 of the Order, which states that “the right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.”, and that privacy is a value “whose protection is a matter of universal moral agreement: the innate dignity and autonomy of man”.

Expanding the idea of privacy, the Puttaswamy Judgment (para 142) speaks thus: Privacy has distinct connotations including (i) spatial control; (ii) decisional autonomy; and (iii) informational control. Spatial control denotes the creation of private spaces. Decisional autonomy comprehends intimate personal choices such as those governing reproduction as well as choices expressed in public such as faith or modes of dress. Informational control empowers the individual to use privacy as a shield to retain personal control over information pertaining to the person.” 

This unequivocally places the citizen at the heart of privacy, which is integral to his/her human dignity, liberty and autonomy. Privacy is not created or granted by the Constitution, which only recognizes and guarantees it as a fundamental right of the citizen, who is the basic unit of the Constitution. Para 12 of the Puttaswamy Judgment states that privacy is “an inalienable natural right”. Thus, privacy has a position of centrality in the Constitution of our democratic Republic.

Privacy concerning information about a citizen such as income status, religious persuasion, sexual orientation or other demographic data goes beyond the physical body. Indeed, para 81 of the Puttaswamy Judgment speaks about informational privacy thus: … [ it ] does not deal with a person’s body but deals with a person’s mind, and therefore recognizes that an individual may have control over the dissemination of material that is personal to him. Unauthorised use of such information may, therefore lead to infringement of this right.”, while para 142 enables the citizen to have control over his/her informational privacy: “Informational control empowers the individual to use privacy as a shield to retain personal control over information pertaining to the person.”

In present times, personal information is digitized and constitutes data, the protection and security of which is vital to the citizen’s control over his/her privacy. The Aadhaar system immediately comes to mind in this connection, noting that the Aadhaar number is seeded (linked) with different silos of information which a citizen may have. UIDAI’s Aadhaar system has captured biometric data of around one billion citizens at enrolment by private operators, who are employed by “Registrars” who in turn are appointed by UIDAI through a MoU. These private operators, essentially contractors, capture biometric data, hold it and transmit it to UIDAI’s database, which is called Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR). There is no check whether the private operator may have made a copy of data before transmitting it or has deleted the acquired data after transmitting it. Further, the UIDAI’s CIDR was created by foreign contracting firms which have close links with their respective governments and intelligence agencies, and have access to data in the CIDR and data-safety features of the CIDR.

Thus the Aadhaar system compromises the security of personal data at a systemic level, thereby disempowering the citizen and making him/her vulnerable through loss of privacy. Notwithstanding that the Aadhaar system was designed long before the Puttaswamy Judgment, it passes comprehension how the designer of the system – reportedly a corporate honcho, expert in information technology – was so negligent and casual about the data security of citizens. The union government having belatedly constituted the Srikrishna Committee to address the issue of data protection and draft an appropriate Bill, is proof enough that data security of Aadhaar is inadequate, and that citizens’ privacy is already a casualty. This could be the reason that the criminal culpability concerning this design flaw is being highlighted in some quarters.

If a citizen has control over his/her personal data, it includes opting to share it with any entity which may demand it, such as a government department which provides benefits, or a bank, or a commercial service provider. However, the State has a responsibility in this, according to para 70 of the Puttaswamy Judgment, which reads: “The State must ensure that information is not used without the consent of users and that it is used for the purpose and to the extent it was disclosed.”

Furthermore, the citizen who decides to part with personal data needs to understand the implications including the risks and consequences, of doing so. The vast majority of the population which has already provided their biometrics to UIDAI and also used their biometrics at many fingerprint recording machines for various purposes, is unaware of these, and may be conned or pressured into parting with his/her data, which may be used for commercial purposes or even illegal purposes. Hence, when a citizen consents to share data, it has to be “informed consent”, and the Puttaswamy Judgment rules that informed consent is central to informational self-determination and by extension, to the citizen’s privacy. Further, even after providing data with informed consent, the citizen continues to retain privacy control over the information, in that the receiver of the data shall use it only for the limited purpose for which it was received, and shall not share it with any other entity.

Regarding decisional autonomy of the citizen, the Puttaswamy Judgment has made it clear that “… liberty enables the individual to have a choice of preferences on various facets of life including what and how one will eat, the way one will dress, the faith one will espouse and a myriad other matters on which autonomy and self-determination require a choice to be made within the privacy of the mind”.

The right to privacy also permits a citizen to be “different” in India’s pluralistic, heterogeneous society, always providing that he/she is not a nuisance to society. Para 168 of the Puttaswamy Judgment says: “… privacy is an intrinsic recognition of heterogeneity, of the right of the individual to be different and to stand against the tide of conformity.” This laudable, bold assertion essentially permits deviation from the need to conform – the phrase “tide of conformity” is the key to recognition that individuality is under pressure – and become a “yes-man” or “Ji huzoor” to powerful people in society, ranging from notable persons in public life to teachers in schools who discourage, even abhor, questioning.

Conclusion

The matter before the nine-Judge bench was sharply focused upon whether or not privacy was a fundamental right. It is to be noted that the case came up as a result of the Union of India arguing during the hearings concerning challenges to the Aadhaar system, that privacy was not a fundamental right, and even that a person had no right over his/her own body. [One can well imagine the crushing power of the State over the citizen, had the nine-Judge bench upheld the arguments of the Union of India]. The arguments were however not related to the concrete example of Aadhaar which is yet to be adjudicated, but were conceptual in nature. The Puttaswamy Judgment essentially sets out the parameters within which the State could reasonably restrict or limit the right to privacy of a citizen.

In the current ambience of terrorist threat, and the State having to ensure the safety of citizens, the State would attempt to justify the need for raising the levels of surveillance, which will inevitably impinge upon citizens’ privacy and other freedoms. This would include untargeted or suspicionless “street-corner” surveillance combined with use of advanced facial recognition techniques, besides geospatial tracking of persons through mobiles, credit card use, etc. Modern information technology hardware and software capability enables capture and analysis of metadata (data mining, collection and analysis) for very large populations, and can create a situation of a police state, with shadowy, unaccountable intelligence forces in control. It is in this ambience that the citizen’s protection against a domineering and intrusive State will have to be adjudicated based upon the touchstone of the different aspects of privacy as a fundamental right.

It is in this and similar situations that courts will need to decide on the limits to the fundamental right to privacy, so as to strike a balance between the public good achieved by policies, programs and executive orders of governments on the one hand, and the dignity, autonomy and liberty of the individual citizen on the other, while never losing sight of the high standards set for the State by the historic Puttaswamy Judgment.

In times of growing, overweening and coercive State power over ordinary citizens, the nine-Judge bench has created a foundation for civil liberties in the context of privacy, human dignity and autonomy. However, one can expect litigation in the future on a case-to-case basis, perhaps beginning with Aadhaar. These litigations will surely exercise both the Judiciary and legal fraternity on fundamental rights which the Constitution guarantees every citizen, in the years to come.

Over the years since 26 January 1950, the Supreme Court of India has come a long way in interpreting the Constitution of India and the courageous and unequivocal Puttaswamy Judgment is proof of that. Indeed, in a September 10, 2017, New York Times article titled “India’s Supreme Court Expands Freedom”, Menaka Guruswamy writes: “ … the privacy ruling represents a remarkable shift in the Supreme Court from a reticent post-colonial court on matters of individual liberty to an erudite constitutional court safeguarding freedom in the terrifying times of new India”.

Acknowledgement: The above article is based on a reading of the Puttaswamy Judgment. The author gratefully acknowledges reference to the excellent commentary on the Puttaswamy Judgment in “Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy”, downloaded on September 11, 2017 from https://indconlawphil.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/the-supreme-courts-right-to-privacy-judgment-round-up/

Major General S.G.Vombatkere is Petitioner No.1 in three PIL cases concerning Aadhaar, which have been clubbed with Justice K.S.Puttaswamy v. Union of India

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