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Archives for : October2017

Is there a larger design behind Yogi Adityanath’s ‘choti diwali’ celebrations in Ayodhya?

The Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute must stay in the news.

SHARAT PRADHAN

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath is busy creating history of sorts in Ayodhya, where Diwali was celebrated a day earlier. “Choti Diwali”, as the day is commonly referred to, witnessed a historic festival of lights in the ancient temple town that has remained in the news over the recent decades for all the wrong reasons — especially for the tensions over the long pending Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

Yogi Adityanath decided to mark the occasion with the portrayal of the legendary Lord Ram arriving in his kingdom Ayodhya after a 14-year-exile following the defeat of demon king Ravana and the devastation of his Lanka. He even arranged for a helicopter to be flown down for Ramlila artists playing Ram-Sita and Lakshman. “The idea is to show to the people how Shree Ram Chandra ji took the ‘pushpak viman’ to return to Ayodhya which is lit up like never before,” said a spokesman of the UP government.

Yes, it was an official show, obviously to impress upon the public how dedicated the saffron-clad UP chief minister is to the cause of Ram. So what if the highly controversial Ram temple cannot be built without a judicial verdict? The whole idea is to show that Adityanath is leaving no stone unturned to pay obeisance to one of the most revered Hindu gods in his birthplace. To demonstrate his devotion to Lord Ram, the chief minister also proposes to have a 100-metre tall statue of the god erected on the banks of the Saryu river.

adityanath-690_101917042843.jpgA grand choti Diwali at Ayodhya. Photo: PTI

Sure enough, Adityanath has managed to very discreetly play to the sentiments of the people without raising the usual fervour associated with this city, known for ages as the birthplace of Ram. Understanding the pulse of the people, he devised a really subtle means to bring Ayodhya back to centre stage. What had become visible during the much hyped Ayodhya movement in the ’80s and early ’90s, leading to December 6, 1992, when the Babri Masjid was pulled down, was largely on account of Hindu activists converging at the temple town from different corners of the country.

And each time an attempt was made to revive the temple issue, it was fraught with much tension, and would end up disrupting the normal lives of locals.

Each build-up in the name of the temple would bring misery to the locals who began to despise everyone who sought to rake up the issue. “Leave us alone” was the outcry of most people who were often heard asking, “Why cant these politicians let us live in peace? Left to the local people we can resolve this issue between the two communities,” many would say.

The grand celebrations on “Choti Diwali” on Wednesday was one of those rare occasions when locals looked cheerful and were actively participating in the event right from the morning. For a change, the city — laden with filth and squalor through most of the year like any other UP town — was all spruced up for the mega event.

yogi-body_101817011802.jpgImage: Reuters file photo

The morning began with a heritage walk with local sadhus. And quite discreetly, they kept a safe distance from the contentious Ramjanmbhoomi-Babri Masjid site, where the makeshift Ram Temple — erected hastily after violent Hindu karsevaks stormed the 16th century mosque and demolished it — continues to attract a large number of Hindus every day.

The real celebrations began with the arrival of “pushpak viman” (helicopter), carrying the symbolic Ram-Sita-Laxman trio. The chief minister seemed to be playing the symbolic Bharat, by receiving them at the helipad. UP governor Ram Naik and Adityanath’s entire cabinet followed the CM, perhaps to symbolise the “Treta yug” elite, who welcomed Ram on his arrival in that era.

With that began the unprecedented celebrations all along the beautifully decorated and brightly illuminated “Ram ki Pairi” and the Saryu ghats, where a laser show provided a breathtaking spectacle for the local masses who could have never imagined witnessing anything like it. The chief minister’s arrival was marked with the lighting of some 1,80,000 “diyas” — a feat that a team of Guinness World Records was also invited to witness. Adityanath also took the opportunity to announce Rs 133 crore-worth projects for the development of a “neglected” Ayodhya.

The deftness with which the UP CM carried out his obvious agenda must be admired. No matter how much he is targeted for lapses in governance, he knows questioning him for celebrating Diwali in Ayodhya could prove counter-productive for the Opposition.

But what he apparently failed to explain is why he chose to celebrate the festival of lights on “choti Diwali”, which has neither mythological nor historical significance. Apparently, Yogi found it more convenient to put up the mega show a day earlier because he could not afford to be away on the auspicious Diwali day from his first love — the Gorakhnath temple. So you know, when it comes to choosing between Ayodhya and Gorakhpur, he prefers the latter. That sheds some light on his actual passion for Ram.

Yogi Adityanath has undoubtedly played his cards well. The entire BJP-RSS combine has gone to town vehemently denying any political undertones in the mega event, which, according to them, was only a reflection of their devotion to Ram. But then shouldn’t they tell us what stopped them from celebrating Diwali in Ayodhya in all these years — both during different stints of the BJP rule as well as during other regimes? BJP stalwart Kalyan Singh, widely alleged as the architect of the Babri demolition ruled UP twice, while Rajnath Singh (the present Union home minister) too did two tenures as chief minister, in addition to a brief stint by Ram Prakash Gupta.

But would anyone have stopped them if they had given a call to celebrate Diwali even without being in power? Surely, the party could have easily mobilised popular support and funds for such a celebration. That would have demonstrated their true passion for Lord Ram and his legacy. Who would believe that any political party — and much less the BJP — requires state funding for any celebration?

It is another matter that not many would want to spend from their own pockets – even in the name of the most revered Ram.

The fact that the Ayodhya Diwali celebrations shot to focus out of the blue naturally rouses suspicion about a hidden agenda. There are two key reasons for it: building a people’s narrative around Ayodhya well before the decades-long dispute is taken up for day-to-day hearing by the country’s apex court, starting December 5 — precisely 24 hours before the 25th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid — and piggybacking on the temple card to ensure the much desired polarisation of votes in 2019, when the nation goes to the polls.

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/yogi-adityanath-diwali-ram-janmabhoomi-ayodhya-babri-masjid-rss-bjp/story/1/20149.html

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200-acre land gift to Ramdev comes to haunt Devendra Fadnavis

Ramdev’s Patanjali has been in violation of its agreement with the Maharashtra government to acquire 200 acres of land at throwaway prices in February 2006.

Ramdev

Patanjali had acquired 200 acres of land at Mihan on 19 February 2016 after it signed an MoU with the Maharashtra government for an ayurvedic products unit. The company had performed the bhoomipujan (religious rituals) on 10 September, 2016 amidst a huge fanfare, but the production at the site has yet to commence.

This, according to many, is in direct violation of the agreement.

Speaking to Janta Ka Reporter, senior Congress leader and former Member of Parliament, Sanjay Nirupam said that giving Ramdev hundreds of acres of land at throwaway prices was a part of massive corruption, where even the state’s chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis is personally involved.

He said, “There’s no secret that the governments up and down the country have been giving thousands of acres of land at throwaway prices to Ramdev, who had actively campaigned for the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP government in Maharashtra too gave away hundreds of acres of land to Ramdev primarily to compensate for his help to the saffron party in the elections.

Also Read:  Sushma discusses UNSC reforms, terror with African leaders

“Ramdev has been in violation of agreement and his cheques too have bounced. So, it’s clear that the Patanjali’s agreement with Mahrashtra government is effectively in abeyance now. This points to a huge scam involving Fadnavis himself since the land at Mihan is owned by Maharashtra Airport Development Authority, which is headed by the Maharashtra chief minister. So, it was at his behest that the MADC had given 200 acres of land to Ramdev’s company at cheap prices.”

Bombay High Court is currently hearing Nirupam’s petition alleging corruption and crony capitalism by the Fadnavis government. In May this year, Bombay High Court had sought to know from the Maharashtra government if over 600 acres of land in Nagpur was allotted to Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda at a throwaway price and on what grounds “concession”, if any, was given to the company.

Also Read:  Mumbai Police book Pratyusha Banerjee’s boyfriend Rahul Singh for assault and abetment of suicide

Crony capitalism and death knell development

Patanjali was awarded 200 acres of land at Mihan for Rs 25 lakh per acre even though the market price for the same piece of land was Rs 60 lakh per acre. To recover the loss, the Fadnavis government hiked the rate for new comers, who wanted to set up plants at Mihan. But the new rate of Rs 70 lakh per acre did not have many takers, thereby bringing the otherwise ambitious project to a grinding halt.

As many as 20 companies had invested in the Mihan project in the first two years. However, the next one year has attracted only five companies, that too smaller ones.

Nirupam said that Fadnavis, who hails from Nagpur, had ‘an amazing opportunity’ to develop the region through the Mihan project as it was situated in his home city.

“Unfortunately the Mihan project has fallen victim to his crony capitalism. He has missed a huge opportunity to develop the Vidarbha region,” Nirupam said.

Also Read:  उरी हमले पर रामदेव का बयान- अब मोदी सरकार बुद्ध के साथ युद्ध की भी बात करे

Officers punished for RTI

Key information officers who had helped make public, the RTI documents on land allotment to Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda in March this year, were recently transferred less than a fortnight later, raising questions on whether the officials were penalised for their actions.

The two information officers were penalised after IAS officer Bijay Kumar was shunted out of the finance department shortly after he questioned the basis of a 75% discount for land awarded to Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd in March this year.

Two information officers punished for helping make the RTI documents on land allotment public were Atul Thakare and Sameer Gokhale.

MADC’s marketing manager Thakare who was the PIO of its Nagpur branch was moved to Mumbai. And marketing manager Gokhale, who was a PIO in Mumbai was transferred to Nagpur.

Nirupam claims that he’s stumbled upon some evidence that conclusively proves the personal involvement of Fadnavis in the ‘land scam’ at Mihan.

Janta Ka Reporter – Leading the Media Revolution in India

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Environmental activism – ‘The threats continue​’: murder of retired couple chills fellow activists in Turkey

Ali and Aysin Büyüknohutçu who were killed in their home after winning a campaign to shut down a marble quarry.

The killing of two activists who successfully campaigned to shut down a mine has shocked environmentalists in Turkey who fear their deaths will embolden others to kill to protect their profits

Cedar branches whisper in the Anatolian breeze. Twigs crunch underfoot. A truck rumbles from a distant marble quarry. The crack of a hunter’s rifle echoes through the forest.

The sounds of tranquility and violence intermingle at the remote hillside home of Aysin and Ali Büyüknohutçu, the Turkish beekeepers and environmental defenders whose murder in Finike earlier this year has sent a chill through the country’s conservation movement.

If the killings of the retired couple were not shocking enough, the aftermath – a dubious judicial investigation and the alleged suicide of the key suspect – have raised questions in parliament and the media about the priorities of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who increasingly seems to care more about the economy and concrete than lives and the environment.

Ali and Aysin were organic farmers who moved to a remote forest home so that they could be closer to nature after they retired.

Ali and Aysin in their beekeeping suits
 Ali and Aysin in their beekeeping suits. Photograph: Handout

A hand-painted sign above their gate reads “Ali Baba Çiftliği” (Father Ali’s Farm), a joking reference to the ditty that Turkish children sing to the tune of Old MacDonald. Their two-storey house and garden – carefully laid out in neat rows of vegetables – sits in a clearing among cedar and pine trees.

Their house itself is testimony to the couple’s commitment to each other, their country, their family and the environment. Two cups sit by a kettle on the stove next to an open sugar bowl. Pride of place on the wall is a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who founded the Turkish Republic out of the ruins of the Ottoman empire. Below it are several stacks of books – bedtime stories for their grandchildren, and publications on global issues: Can a City Be Sustainable?, Worldwatch Institute on the State of the World 2016 and A Guide to Organic Farming.

Moving there was the realisation of a long-held ambition. In his youth, Ali had written a poem in which he declared, “My only wish is a big garden with cheerful children.”

“This was their dream retirement,” said a source close to the family, who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of reprisals. “They moved there for inner peace. Then they came up against the marble companies.”

They could not avoid them. The road up to their home passes from the turquoise coastline of the Aegean through pomegranate and orange groves to a dusty orange quarry – one of more than a dozen in Finike.

The opencast mines divert rivers, blast rocks with TNT and stir up dust that chokes the surrounding vegetation.

When the couple discovered that some had also been opened close to heritage sites in contravention of licensing regulations, they took action.

Long involved in leftwing politics, consumer rights groups and residents associations, the couple linked up with several friends to form a group called Toraçder.

A marble quarry in Finike
 A marble quarry in Finike. Turkey boasts 40% of the world’s marble reserves. Photograph: Jonathan Watts for the Guardian

“Our initial aim was to educate people about the environment. Then when we realised the quarries were damaging the forest, we started to campaign against them,” said Bayram Taşel, a co-founder. “I knew it was dangerous, but I didn’t think it would lead to murder.”

They were up against powerful business interests. Turkey boasts 40% of the world’s marble reserves and nine out of 10 quarries are found in Anatolia. They are a mainstay of the regional economy and the country’s $2bn-a-year natural stone export business. China is currently the biggest customer, but Turkish marble is also found in Disneyland, the White House, the Vatican, Burj Khalifa, the Bundestag and luxury hotels across the world.

Among those with family connections to the industry are the Finike mayor and the head of the Turkey Marble, Natural Stone and Machinery Association Selahattin Onur.

Undaunted, Ali, Aysin and their fellow campaigners launched a successful challenge that shut down two marble companies Bartu Mermer and Bahçeci. Bartu Mermer fought back with a defamation lawsuit against Ali. But he won again in March 2017. The judge not only acquitted him, but also cancelled the company’s operating license.

Hailing the victory, Ali predicted it would be the first of many. “Before, citizens were scared to sue companies – now the decision will encourage all environmentalists,” he declared.

Ali and Aysin Büyüknohutçu
 Ali and Aysin Büyüknohutçu discovered some mines had been opened close to heritage sites against regulations.

Two months later, he and his wife were dead.

Today, the murder scene has been cleaned up, but the hallway wall is pocked with pellet marks as is the window over the threshold. Police say Ali was gunned down with a sawn-off shotgun as he opened the front door and shone a torch towards the intruder. He then fell to the ground, close to where he had earlier discarded his beekeeping gloves, hat and veil – which still lie in a heap on the stairs.

The killer is then assumed to have chased Aysin to the verandah, where she had gone to scream for help. Strangely, she was found with her arms above her head as though she has been dragged to the site and her body was face up although forensic experts say she was shot from behind. The neighbours – who live out of sight but within earshot – say they heard nothing.

Murder suspect Ali Yamuç
 Murder suspect Ali Yamuç reportedly committed suicide in prison. Photograph: Handout

A suspect – Ali Ymaç – was quickly found and arrested. He confessed to carrying out the execution in return, he said, for a promise of 50,000 lire (£10,000) from a quarry owner who he knew only by the alias “Çirkin” (Ugly). Yumaç said he was paid 3,000 lire up front and promised the rest on completion. He was instructed to make the killing look like a robbery.

That ought to have been where the Turkish justice system cranked into high gear to track down those behind the assassination. Instead, it was the starting point for months of delays, obfuscations and another death that has frightened and frustrated activists and raised wider questions about the country’s slide away from democratic rule of law.

Within weeks of his imprisonment, Yumaç changed his testimony to say he acted alone. Police concluded he wanted to rob the couple to buy heroin. The killer had a history of drug-related arrests, but it was odd that the laptop and other electronic goods taken from the home were dumped in the well instead of sold. There were other mysteries that were not adequately explained by the official report: Where was the murder weapon that he said he had stolen? How had he climbed the five-foot-high barbed-wire fence, as he claimed? How had he entered without disturbing the two fierce Anatolian shepherds that the Büyüknohutçu’s kept as guard dogs?

There are plans to turn the Büyüknohutçu’s home into an eco-residency
 There are plans to turn the Büyüknohutçu’s home into an eco-residency. Photograph: Jonathan Watts for the Guardian

Doubts grew with the publication of a letter smuggled out of prison by Yumaç’s wife that she later handed over to the prosecutor. It was addressed to a marble company owner. The contents – now posted online – read, “Pay the money as you promised me. If you don’t I will tell the truth on judgment day. You said ‘kill them and we will pay’. Why are you waiting? In 10 days if you don’t pay, your life will be in my pocket.”

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Last month, the public prosecutor was finally ready to submit his indictment, which meant the family’s legal team would get their first opportunity to question Yumaç on the record. He had told them he was ready to reveal everything.

He never got the chance. Days later Yumaç reportedly committed suicide in a high-security prison where he had been moved for his safety. Guards claimed he hung himself in a toilet with elastic from his clothing. Many find this incredible.

“It was a top-security L-type prison that had been designed “suicide proof” and where prisoners were watched around the clock,” said an activist, who asked to remain nameless. “I don’t believe he killed himself. I think he was silenced.”

The family’s lawyer Eser Dursun said the prospects for justice were now slim. “This is a very important case, but we cannot win because the murderer is dead. Under Turkish law that means the case is closed.”

For Turkey’s environmental campaigners, this is part of a broader alarming trend.

Onur Akgül, a campaigner for the Northern Forests Defence conservation group put the case in the broader context of Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian rule and drive to boost the economy at all costs.

“The murder of Ali and Aysin is a sign of the new climate in Turkey,” he said. “Ecologists strongly suspect there is more to this case than individual motives. The attack on the environment now is the biggest in our country’s history. Their murder can be seen as a message to others. It shows how far some interests are willing to go.”

Erdoğan refutes such claims. He says his pro-business policies are in the national interest and accuses those who try to impede development as traitors and terrorists.

Environmental defenders have been under suspicion since 2013 when a small group of activists tried to resist plans to turn Istanbul’s Gezi Park into a shopping mall. Their demonstration morphed into the biggest anti-government protest in memory with hundreds of thousands taking to Taksim Square and streets around the country.

Protests to save to save Gezi Park in Taksim Square, Istanbul
 Protests to save to save Gezi Park in Taksim Square, Istanbul. Photograph: Monique Jaques/Corbis via Getty Images

Eight people died and thousands were injured in clashes between the riot police. “For what?” a scornful Erdoğan asked afterwards. “For 12 trees!” Since then, he has pushed ahead with several massive infrastructure projects – a third airport, a third bridge over the Bosphorus and a new canal – that environmentalists say has led to the felling of 100 million trees.

Those who stand in the way of these and other projects feel vulnerable.

“Now that two activists have been assassinated, we fear there will be more,” said Melike Vergili, a founder of the Phaselis Initiative NGO. Her group – which has campaigned to conserve the coastline in Antalya against hotel developers – joined rallies calling for justice after the couple were killed. “To be an activist in Turkey is to be constantly worried. We have to protect ourselves as well as the environment.”

Tuğba Günal and Birhan Erkutlu, who have been campaigning against hydroelectric dams near their home in the Alakır Valley in Antalya
 Tuğba Günal and Birhan Erkutlu, who have been campaigning against hydroelectric dams near their home in the Alakır Valley in Antalya. Photograph: Courtesy of Alakır Nehri Kardeşliği

Nobody is feeling the pressure more than Tuğba Günal and Birhan Erkutlu, who have been campaigning against a cascade of hydroelectric dams near their home in the Alakır Valley in Antalya. The dreadlocked, nature-loving couple have received death threats, been accused in defamation suits and labelled terrorists. Last month, shots were fired at their home. They believe the murders of Ali and Aysin have emboldened those willing to break the law to push through projects.

“Maybe one day they will kill us. They can if they want, but we will keep defending innocent lives. We are not afraid,” Birhan told the Guardian. “The government and the police do nothing to protect environmental protectors. They are not willing to punish those who threaten us. That’s why the threats continue.”

With forest conservation now such a sensitive political subject, supporters of Ali and Aysin are in a difficult position. They plan to turn the dead couple’s home into a eco-residency, to establish a memorial park in Antalya, and to continue the campaign against the quarries and to get justice for the killings.

“This is the first time two people have died trying to protect nature in Turkey. If we win, it will set a precedent that will help others in a similar position,” said one of those close to the campaign. “It would be a big step for Turkey. Ali and Aysin may be dead but they can still help the living.”

Fellow activists say they will continue Ali and Aysin’s campaign against the quarries
 Fellow activists say they will continue Ali and Aysin’s campaign against the quarries. Photograph: Handout
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/18/the-threats-continue-of-retired-couple-chills-fellow-activists-in-turkey

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‘Dowry helps ugly girls get married’ – Sociology book #WTFnews

 The horrifying contents of sociology notes at a top Bengaluru college

Students of the college were given photocopies from a book that lists the “advantages” of dowry, according to its “supporters.” The college’s PRO said it was opposed to such “obscurantist and oppressive patriarchal” views.

Dowry has been illegal in India since 1961. (Image for representation)Dowry has been illegal in India since 1961. (Image for representation)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • St Joseph’s College is conducting an investigation
  • Such views have never been part of the college syllabus: College’s PRO
  • Earlier in ’07, it emerged that a Maharashtra textbook blamed dowry on womens’ ‘ugliness’

“The marriage of ugly girls, who otherwise would have gone without a partner, is made possible by offering (a) heavy amount of dowry.”

Supporters of dowry think it provides this important advantage, says the author who penned the words above. And believe it or not, the page that contains them was photocopied and distributed to undergraduates at a top Bengaluru college.

Dowry has been illegal in India since 1961. The suggestion that the practice helps “ugly girls” find a match isn’t the only one the author attributes to its apologists.

For example, they’re also said to think it is “a useful and effective method” for “attracting good, handsome, and sometimes unwilling boys for marriage.” And that it “may provide self-employment,” “increases the status of women” in the family, and is “an opportunity” for “meritorious boys of poor classes to go for higher education and make their future.”

See for yourself.

Professor Kiran Jeevan, the Public Relations Officer of St. Joseph’s College, said an investigation was under way. He said the college was “trying to find the root of the problem.”

“Such views have never been part of the college syllabus. In fact the department and the college are opposed to such obscurantist and oppressive patriarchal views as are contained in the page cited,” his statement read.

Earlier this year, the Maharashtra government ordered a probe when it emerged that a Class XII sociology textbook read by public school students contained the following lines:

“If a girl is ugly and handicapped, then it becomes very difficult for her to get married. To marry such girls, the bridegroom and his family demand more dowry. Parents of such girlsbecome helpless and pay dowry as per the demands of the bridegroom as family.”

This, the book says, “leads to rise in the practice of dowry system.”

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/dowry-sociology-notes-bengaluru-college/1/1072051.html

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Adani coal mine ‘devastating’ for Australia

Central Queensland, Australia – Farmers and environmentalists in Australia are waging a fierce battle to stop a new mega coal mine planned for the country’s northeast from going ahead.

Indian energy giant Adani Group has said it will break ground this month on the project which is expected to become one of the largest coal mines in the world.

The company says the Carmichael mine, which has the backing of the Australian government, will bring jobs and deliver royalties that will benefit Australians.

But those opposing the project believe it could wreak havoc on the environment.

“If that Adani mine goes ahead, it’s going to be devastating,” farmer Bruce Currie told Al Jazeera’s101 East.

The project was due to be launched on Friday, with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce due to attend, but the ceremony was cancelled due to rain, according to an Adani spokesman.

“The ground-breaking event has been postponed to a date to be determined,” the spokesman told news.com.au.

In the drought-prone region of Central Queensland, farmers fear the project could contaminate the groundwater they rely upon for their cattle.

Coal mining is one of the most water-intensive methods of generating electricity. About 200 litres of freshwater is used for each tonne of coal produced. Farmers fear the water levels could drop and bores could run dry.

Adani has stated it will use 12 billion litres of water annually at the mine.

“The only certainty we get is whatever groundwater they destroy in their mining operations is lost for perpetuity,” said Currie, who has fought a long-running legal battle to stop the mine from going ahead.

‘Worst thing you can do to the Great Barrier Reef

There are also concerns about the mine’s potential to damage Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

“The decision to go ahead with the Adani mine is just about the most unbelievably negligent decision you can possibly imagine,” said Charlie Veron, a leading marine biologist.

“It’s the worst thing you can possibly do for the Great Barrier Reef.”

He believes the carbon emissions from extracting and burning coal from Adani’s mine will inflict further damage on Australia’s already threatened reef.

“We lost about half the corals in the Great Barrier Reef in the last two years. In 15 years, it is highly probable there’ll be nothing left. It’s that serious,” said Veron.

Last week’s cancellation of the launch came amid growing criticism and opposition to the project.

The mine has been approved by the Australian government, which says it will help boost the country’s export revenues and provide much-needed jobs.

The leader of the Australian Greens party, Richard Di Natale, said “many, many thousands” will physically stop the project if the government does not go back on its decision.

“Make no mistake, people right across the country are so motivated to stop this thing that if we can’t stop it in the parliament, we will stop it by standing in front of those bulldozers,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

“It won’t go ahead. I am very confident of that. This is a disaster no matter which way you look at it, and it won’t go ahead.”

Queensland’s unemployment rate is at about 6.4 percent. Adani and the Australian government said the project will provide 10,000 jobs.

Experts estimate that this figure will be much lower and would come at the expense of mining jobs elsewhere in Australia.

Adani’s track record in India

Australian senator Matt Canavan said it took seven years for the Adani project to be approved because of Australia’s “extremely robust environmental approval system”.

“I challenge anyone to claim that this mine has not been subjected to the most stringent environmental controls,” said Canavan.

But opponents point to Adani’s record in India, where four independent reports commissioned by the government and judiciary in the past decade found the company breached environmental laws by destroying mangroves and blocking creeks to reclaim land.

Al Jazeera’s 101 Easttravelled to the town of Mundra in India’s Gujarat state where fishermen accuse the company of dumping sand in local waterways.

A local fisherman, Rahimtullah, said fish stocks have plummeted since Adani built a coal power plant and port nearby.

“They have taken our livelihood away,” he said.

In a statement to Al Jazeera, the Adani Group denied all claims it had caused environmental damage in India. The company said it is “an absolute and religiously law-abiding organisation and respects the law of the land”.

source- al jazeera

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Bihar – Minor kidnapped , married and sterilised without Screening #WTFnews

16 year old school girl was kidnapped by a distant relative at Gun Point, taken to a temple to get married forcibly and made to undergo sterilisation operation without her consent at a Private Hospital in Banka District of Bihar. Close Family members of the girl and the relative were also involved.

बिना जांच के किया गया नाबालिग का ऑपरेशन

प्रेमी के परिजन व चिकित्सक की मिलीभगत
बांका : सदर थाना क्षेत्र के मतडीहा गांव के 9वीं कक्षा की 16 वर्षीय नाबालिग छात्रा का अपहरण कर शादी के बाद बंध्याकरण का मामला गरमाता जा रहा है. उक्त घटना की जानकारी अखबार की माध्यम से जिनको भी हुई वो आवाक रह गये और लोगों ने कहा कि जो भी लोग घटना को अंजाम देने में शामिल है उन्हें कड़ी से कड़ी सजा मिलनी चाहिए.
 वहीं पीड़िता ने कहा कि शनिवार को बांका न्यायालय में हुए 164 के ब्यान में उन्होंने कहा है कि बिना उसके अनुमति के जबर्दस्ती बौंसी अस्पताल के रेफरल प्रभारी डॉ आरके सिंह के नीजी क्लिनिक में उसका बंध्याकरण कराया गया.
बंध्याकरण कराने में प्रेमी सह पति बबलू यादव के अलावे प्रेमी की पहली पत्नी के मामा कुंदन यादव, ससुर श्याम सुंदर यादव व पीड़िता के सगे मामा अनिल यादव व अशोक यादव व मामी मीणा देवी व रूपा देवी शामिल है.
साथ ही पीड़िता ने यह भी बताया कि वो बांका के एक उच्च विद्यालय की छात्रा है. रिश्ते में ममेरा जीजा लगने के कारण वो बराबर मेरे घर आते जाते रहते थे. इसी दौरान नवरात्र के पहले दिन वो हमारे घर शाम में पहुंचे और रात में घर पर रुक गये.
रात में परिवार के सभी सदस्यों के सोने के बाद वो मुझे पिस्तौल के नोक पर घर से जबर्दस्ती उठाकर देवघर मंदिर में जाकर मांग में सिंदूर डाल दिया. शादी के करीब 18वें दिन उसने अपने परिवार वालों के सहयोग से बंध्याकरण करावा दिया और जीवन भर के लिए मुझे मातृत्व लाभ से वंचित कर दिया.
रुपये के लालच में जीवन कर िदया बरबाद
 धरती के दूसरे भगवान कहे जाने वाले डॉक्टर पर से अब लोगों का भरोसा उठने लगा है. भगवान ही पैसे के लालच में लोगों के जिंदगी से खेलने लगे है.
उन्हें यह तक एहसास नहीं कि उनकी एक लालच जीवन भर के लिए किसी की जिंदगी को बरबाद कर सकता है. मात्र 25 हजार रूपये की लालच में बौंसी रेफरल अस्पताल के प्रभारी चिकित्सक डॉ आरके सिंह ने एक 9 वीं कक्षा की 16 वर्षीय छात्रा का बंध्याकरण बिना किसी जांच पड़ताल के कर दिया और एक जिंदगी को जीवन भर के लिए मां बनने के सुख से वंचित कर दिया. हालांकि डॉक्टर के द्वारा किये गये इस कुकृत्य घटना को लेकर पुलिस प्रशासन  के द्वारा जांच की जायेगी.
कहते हैं पदाधिकारी
अपहरण के बाद शादी व 18 वें दिन पीड़िता के बंध्याकरण की घटना में शामिल जो भी लोग होंगे उनके ऊपर कार्रवाई तय है. चाहे घटना को अंजाम देने में  अपहरणकर्ता के परिजन हो या बंध्याकरण करने वाले चिकित्सक सभी के ऊपर अनुसंधान के बाद कानूनी कार्रवाई की जायेगी.
एसके दास, एसडीपीओ, बांका

http://www.prabhatkhabar.com/news/banka/story/1069875.html

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Bombay HC fines Vodafone for not having an internal complaints on sexual harassment #Vaw

TELECOM FIRM FINED FOR FLOUTING VISHAKA GUIDELINES

Telecom firm fined for flouting Vishaka guidelines
The Bombay High Court has dismissed a sexual harassment complaint against Vodafone Essar Ltd and its former higher ups, but, at the same time, it has imposed a Rs 50,000 fine on the company – to be paid to the War Widows’ Association – for not having an internal complaints committee in place at the relevant time.

While passing the judgement last week, a division bench of Justices AA Sayed and MS Karnik, observed, “We do note here that the Respondent No 1 (Vodafone) had not followed the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in Vishaka as there was no Complaints Committee constituted at the relevant time.”

The case was filed by an employee who started working as Sales Operations Manager in 1994 with Max India Ltd, which later entered a joint venture and came to be called as Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd and is now known as Vodafone Essar Ltd. She was later designated as Manager, Customer Care, but terminated from service in August 2000.

She alleged that she was terminated because she did not yield to her Chief Operating Officer’s demands seeking sexual favours. She alleged that her immediate senior and another employee helped the COO put pressure on her. “Respondent No 2 (COO) started to use subtle pressures through these persons who were subordinate to him for canvassing to her the virtues of giving a little sex to achieve substantial progress in the organisation. She was getting more and more terrified at the thought that sooner than later she would be thrown out of her job,” the judgement notes. She had filed a case before the Labour court for being terminated for not yielding to her senior’s demands for sexual favour.

However, the company defended its decision of terminating her services, citing lack of performance and also termed her case as ‘revenge’ for the same. It also argued that the victim’s statement to the court that she had complained to the Human Resources department was false as there were no such complaints in the company’s records. It also mentioned that the victim failed to pursue her case before the Labour Court.

In the HC, the victim sought compensation for “the grievous injury and irreparable damage done to her physically and her psyche by reason of actions complained against them,” which too was rejected by HC.

In a significant observation in the judgement, the court also said that unless an employee’s case for sexual harassment is established, she can’t claim violation of fundamental rights around the alleged incident. Citing the Supreme Court’s judgement of 1997 – commonly known as Vishaka guidelines judgement – the HC bench observed, “Thus, it is only when there are instances of sexual harassment that it can be said that there is a violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. In other words, unless it is established that there was sexual harassment, there can be no violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21.”

 https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/telecom-firm-fined-for-flouting-vishaka-guidelines/articleshow/61148137.cms?

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India – Rally for Rivers is based on impractical ideas

Isha Foundation’s Rally for Rivers initiative to plant trees alongside river banks appears impractical and lacks scientific rigour


                    Jaggi Vasudev, head of Isha Foundation, flagging off Rally for Rivers initiative in Coimbatore on September 3 (Courtesy: Isha Foundation)
 Jaggi Vasudev, head of Isha Foundation, flagging off Rally for Rivers initiative in Coimbatore on September 3 (Courtesy: Isha Foundation)

NEW DELHI’S Indira Gandhi stadium was the venue of a grand event on October 2. A month before that, Isha Foundation, a Coimbatore-based non-profit that runs yoga and self-help programmes, had launched Rally for Rivers, an initiative to save India’s rivers, under which a cavalcade of about 20 vehicles had travelled over 9,000 km, across 16 states, culminating in the function at the stadium.

Launching the initiative at Coimbatore on September 3, the head of the Isha Foundation, Jaggi Vasudev, popularly known as Sadhguru, had suggested that a 1 km-wide green patch should be created on both sides of all the rivers of the country throughout their lengths. This would make people aware of the importance of rivers, control the micro-climate and reduce vulnerability to extreme rainfall events, he had said. Experts, however, are of the view that the idea is not just impractical, but lacks scientific basis.

In an e-mail response to Down to Earth, Jaggi Vasudev (see ‘Afforestation will stabilise rainfall patterns’) said 4 million hectares (ha) is needed for planting these trees, of which 25 per cent is owned by the government, 65 per cent is private farm land and 10 per cent is delta. The government and private owners will be encouraged to turn their lands into agroforestry plantations, says Jaggi. This can be problematic. A study by the Rights and Resources Initiative, a global network advocating rights of indigenous people, and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 2016, found conflicts over 1.2 million ha in the country. Another 4 million ha could only add to the problem, especially because India will be the world’s most land-scarce country by 2050, as stated by the Economic Survey 2016-17.

The belief that the trees will help control micro-climate is also not backed by research. On September 7, researchers from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), a Bengaluru-based research organisation, wrote in the Economic Times that the connection between land cover and climate change is quite tenuous, and so is the link between forest cover and river rejuvenation. They also said that at many places rivers are dying because of over-exploitation of groundwater and planting trees may aggravate the problem.

Even the agroforestry idea is not practical. “It will be profitable only in areas where the rivers are close to a timber market,” says Soujanya Shrivastava of Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment.

`Afforestation will stabilise rainfall patterns’

Jaggi Vasudev, head of Isha Foundation, says the Rally for Rivers has been conceptualised in consultation with foresters and hydrology experts 

How much land is required for the plantation on river banks? 

All the major rivers in the country run for around 20,000 km—that means 40,000 sq km on the river banks (1 km on both sides of the river). Around 25 per cent of this land belongs to the government (except in a few Himalayan states) and it must become forest (There is no data of land ownership on the riverside. This is an approximation from a state government’s cursory mention about the ownership of land). This needs to be forested with native and endemic forest species. The government land can be forested for a lateral distance of over 1 km. Even the entire government land can be converted to forest land. This can be done quickly as it doesn’t involve a lot of stakeholders. This intervention has the potential to exhibit change in microclimate and stabilisation of precipitation.

Of the farm land, around 10 per cent is delta land which we can leave as it is. So 65 per cent is farmers’ lands where we want them to shift from regular crops to tree-based agriculture. There is no need to acquire any land for the proposed solution. We want farmers to only transition from regular farming to treebased agriculture. We have observed that when a farmer transitions from field-based crops to tree-based farming, his/her income multiplies.

What is your view on water sharing between states? 

Right now there is not enough water flowing in a river. Even perennial rivers have stopped to flow all round the year. The flow in the Cauvery and Krishna rivers has fallen by 40 per cent, and the Krishna doesn’t meet the sea for around three-four months a year. Given this scenario, the upper riparian and lower riparian states are bound to fight for water. For example, there is a fight over the Cauvery between Karnataka, the upper riparian state, and Tamil Nadu, the lower one. I am not on either side of the fight because I was born and grew up in Karnataka but now I am in Tamil Nadu. I am making it very clear, I am on the side of the Cauvery. For thousands of years, Cauvery flowed and there was no conflict. It is only now, when the river flow has depleted, that the fight has started. So we need to augment the source to increase the water flow, so that both the upper and lower riparian states benefit. The entire work we are proposing is for revitalisation of rivers to augment the source of the river. We must burst the myth that only the upper reaches and origins of the river are the catchment.

Will your drive help recharge water?

The relationship of trees and rains is recognised scientifically. In our culture this recognition is ritualistically followed by creation of sacred groves. These sacred groves were nothing but a composite of a threshold number of trees that seed rain. Especially in a leeward state like Tamil Nadu, where we get rains from receding monsoons, this was the only way rain happened in the inland areas.

Our policy recommendation has been based on an extensive review of scientific literature, and with the involvement of experts covering the entire range or related scientific disciplines, including forest experts, hydrology experts, and scientists from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. There is a strong consensus that afforestation will stabilise the micro-climate and rainfall patterns in a given region, lead to better retention of rainwater in the soil and recharge of groundwater, and lead to more stable rainfall due to rain seeding ability of trees from ET [evapotranspiration] from the leaves and other rain seeding material (like pollens) that they give out. Details of the scientific basis can be found in the draft policy recommendation book that we will release shortly and open it for comments.

(See full interview here.)

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Odisha- Minor raped, impregnated by headmaster; village demands ‘purification’ feast #WTFnews

The villagers are demanding a community feast from the family for pregnancy of their daughter before marriage.

Three weeks after the headmaster of a tribal residential school in Odisha’s Koraput district was arrested on charges of impregnating a minor tribal girl, the victim’s family is facing social boycott.

Early this month, the victim’s father lodged an FIR accusing the headmaster of the government residential school of forcing his daughter into a physical relationship with him.

The victim is a standard 9 student.

Doctors ruled out abortion as the child is five months pregnant.

 

Amid their troubles, villagers have been demanding a community feast as a ‘purification ritual’ since the girl was impregnated before marriage.

“I am a daily labourer. The community feast would cost me at least Rs 30,000. How can I arrange such a big amount. Besides, I need money for regular health check up of my daughter,” said the victim’s father.

He said the district administration is yet to provide him any assistance.

District welfare officer of Koraput Jagannath Soren said a committee that inquired into the case found that apart from the headmaster, the matron of the hostel is also involved.

“We are concerned about the problems the family is facing. The district administration may give some assistance to her family,” he said.

The DWO said the departmental probe committee found it as a case of “illicit relationship” on the part of the headmaster and not that of sexual assault.

“As there was no sexual assault, we can’t recommend financial assistance. The district collector may decide on that,” he said.

As per Odisha Victim Compensation Scheme, 2017, a rape victim is entitled to get a financial assistance of Rs 3 lakh.

Crime against women is high in Odisha. According to a figure provided by the state’s police in its website, 2,144 rape cases were reported during the year 2016. The number was 2251 in 2015 and 1,978 in 2014, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/odisha-minor-rape-victim-s-family-faces-social-boycott/story-n9upfJ80QB2KcZhXkLT7II.html

 

 

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United They Protest: Maharashtra Farmers Celebrate ‘Black Diwali’

Samruddhi Corridor: Black Diwali for affected farmers
Farmers miffed with MSRDC for disparities in land acquisition prices in 10 districts; agency says procedure followed.

Farmers in about ten districts across the state, that fall on the path of CM Devendra Fadnavis’s ambitious project – the Mumbai-Nagpur Highway – celebrated black Diwali to register their protests against MSRDC’s ‘forceful acquisition’ of their lands. The Samruddhi Mahamarg Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti (SMSSS), the body that spearheaded the unique protest, had urged all those affected by the project to put up black Diwali lanterns in their houses. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation Limited (MSRDC), however, claims that there was no need for the farmers to do so as the land acquisition process was being done in the negotiated manner and forceful land acquisition hadn’t been resorted to, yet.

Farmers from villages like Shivde and Sonambe in Nashik and Fatiyabad in Aurangabad were protesting against the government. Most of the affected farmers put black lanterns at their houses with slogans against the Samruddhi corridor.

The Mumbai-Nagpur Highway, also known as the Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg, is the most ambitious project of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The 700-km-long expressway will pass through Nagpur, Wardha, Amravati, Washim, Buldhana, Jalna, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Nashik and Thane districts, connecting twenty-six talukas and around 392 villages.

Of the 8,450 hectares needed for the highway, MSRDC needs to acquire around 7,500 hectares from the farmers, the rest is available with government departments including forest.

The proposed highway will reportedly bring Nagpur and Mumbai within 8 hours of reach. And travel time from Mumbai to Aurangabad will be 4 hours and from Aurangabad to Nagpur, another 4 hours, claims MSRDC.

Raju Desale, member, SMSSS told Mumbai Mirror, “17 Gram panchayats have passed a resolution that they don’t want to sell their land for this project. As these villages in Nashik district have Adivasi population, they are protected by The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act.” Desale also added that “The alternative land options are not explored by the government. Farmers are strongly against selling their irrigated land. We also demand one rate for one project. So far the highest rate for the land has been given in Shahapur. The disparity is huge and needs to be addressed.”

MSRDC is acquiring land under ‘Direct Purchase Scheme’, where farmers are selling their land at the market price.

MSRDC Joint Managing Director K VKurundkar calling the protest ‘politically motivated’ said, “Till October 16, we have acquired 983 hectares of land and Rs 700 crore have been paid to farmers through RTGS. We have received consent for additional 2,700 hectares land. The so-called protest has no support of real farmers, they are cooperating with us and many teams are already present in the villages communicating the scheme.”

MSRDC is planning to acquire a maximum portion of land by December end after the earlier deadline of October was extended. Unless MSRDC gets hold of at least 80 per cent of the total land, they won’t be able to start the project work. Mumbai Mirror has earlier reported on how the state government was facing difficulties to secure a loan for the project.

SMSSS is, however, miffed with the MSRDC as it purportedly failed to announce land acquisition prices in many villages. Farmers who own irrigated land are up in arms with the agency and MSRDC, too, has accepted that in some villages they have been unsuccessful in convincing them.

https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/samruddhi-corridor-black-diwali-for-affected-farmers/articleshow/61148170.cms?

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