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Archives for : environment

Gujarat power plant losses: Tata, Adani, Essar stare at huge writedowns

After steel and telecom, lenders brace for NPAs in power sector

Losses at Gujarat based plants: Tata, Adani, Essar stare at huge writedowns
With their Gujarat-based incurring hefty losses, the Adani, and groups are staring at write-downs in the thousands of crores of rupees.

fear the next wave of non-performing assets will come from the power sector as many projects became unviable after Indonesia changed its law that made coal imports expensive for these

Power’s Mundra project under the special purpose vehicle Coastal Power constitutes almost Rs 18,000 crore of its capital employed with negative returns till date.

Power’s net worth is Rs 3,000 crore and has almost Rs 49,230 crore of debt on its books

The unlisted Power had also invested Rs 2,600 crore in the equity of the Salaiya plant and had Rs 5,000 crore of debt, bankers said.

Power has been grappling with the Mundra project for quite some time and has informed the stock exchange that, in consultation with lenders, it had made various suggestions, including a possible acquisition of a majority stake by the power procurers.

“The government of India has facilitated a meeting of all such affected projects and the matter is still under discussion,” it said on June 23.

According to the Sydney-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), Power will have to take a $1 billion (Rs 6,500 crore) write-down for Mundra on top of the $954 million net loss it reported in 2016-17.

The Power board on June 6 approved the “slump sale” of the Mundra power project into a separate company so as to sell a stake in the company to government-owned distribution

In a statement to the stock exchanges on June 23, Power said it was exploring various options for the Mundra project, but it did not provide further details.

“All these projects will have to take substantial write-downs. The financial stress is evident as these have offered majority stakes almost free to distribution companies,” said a banker.

After steel and telecom, the next wave of bad loans would come from the power sector, he added.

The fall in solar tariffs in India would further push these coal-based power projects to stranded status, the IIEFA said.

Power, which runs a 1,200 MW plant, wrote to stating that it would not be able to service its debt as its fuel cost had climbed above its selling price.

The account had not become a non-performing asset yet, but it would not be able to pay dues to banks in the coming quarters, Power told in May.

The IIEFA said the coal-fired power sector in India was under extreme pressure, given the government’s policy drive to diversify the electricity grid into less emissions-intensive generation combined with the rapid deflation in renewable energy.

“Something on the order of $15 billion in coal-fired power plant assets are for sale with no buyers, and the thermal power sector has become a major obstacle to sustainable growth in India,” Tim Buckley, the IIEFA’s director of energy finance studies, Australasia, wrote in a note dated June 12.

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Mumbai – Activist raped after she exposed Mangrove killers #WTFnews

Activist raped after she exposed mangrove killers
Rubble from the razed shanties
Five men sexually assaulted her a day after her complaint led to the demolition of their illegal hutments in Kandivali’s Charkop

An activist engaged with conserving the mangrove cover in Kandivali’s Charkop area was raped by five men on Sunday afternoon after her complaint led to the tearing down of illegal hutments raised on the green patch at Sai Dham Nagar.

The Charkop police have booked 45-year-old Jialal Chouhan, his sons Ram (25) and Laxman (20), Munnalal Prajapati (45), and Ram Milan Yadav (45) for rape and assault under Indian Penal Code sections 326 and 376, among others. The first information report was lodged on Monday.

The mangrove swamp in Kandivali routinely sees trees getting killed, debris dumped indiscriminately, and unauthorised structures constructed to be sold for up to Rs 12 lakh.

The activist is associated with a non-profit called Anyay Nivaran Bhrashtachar Nirmulan Paryavaran Sanrakshan Sanstha, which works against corruption, injustice and environmental destruction.

On Saturday, she lodged a plaint with the forest department about the shanties that she had seen come up in the past few days on land which is supposed to be protected by the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) norms. A day later, she was sexually abused for getting the authorities to enforce the regulation.

Archana Shinde, state president of the NGO the activist was working with, told Mirror: “She was assigned the task of monitoring mangroves. After her complaint on Saturday, the structures were demolished.”

Then, around 3.30 pm on Sunday, the men who had built the shacks went to her home and began filming her from the window to terrorise her, Shinde said. “They dragged her outside and hit her with an iron rod. She was thrust to the floor and raped. Her mother heard the commotion, arrived at the spot and called the police. It must have been 4 pm then,” she said.

She was taken to Ambedkar Hospital nearby, where she received stitches on her face and ribs. Shinde said that the police didn’t inform the hospital about her case.

The victim spoke with Mumbai Mirror over phone. “I didn’t know being a complainant would create this nightmare. They have destroyed my spirit. I am unable to go to the bathroom. My whole face is swollen. I am in terrible pain. Even the police are hand-in glove-with the rapists,” she said.

Her lawyer, Laxmi Narayan, said that the police official on duty at Charkop police station, Mahadev Tukaram Bhonsale, didn’t register the FIR on time. “Instead, he went to her house and arrested a family member after taking a cross-complaint from the accused. He pressured the victim to withdraw the plaint,” he said, adding that her statement hasn’t been recorded accurately. “I am going to make another complaint,” he said.

Bhonsale said the FIR had been registered on Monday and that the matter was in court.

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Activists set for another legal war against new Kudankulam nuclear plant units in Tamil Nadu


Even the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, being built by Russia, is using the heavy water reactor valves and motors manufactured at the city plant of Peekay Steel Castings Pvt Ltd. | Express Photo Service

CHENNAI: Anti-nuclear activists are gearing up for yet another legal battle with the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) granting ‘first pour of concrete’ (FPC) to units three and four in the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP).

A writ petition is likely to be filed in the Madras High Court in a week.

The activists claim the regulatory body has overlooked its own guidelines and the clearance is illegal. The AERB has given the FPC order at the 121st meeting held on June 19. The activists said the order is in violation of AERB code that defines the “Criteria for regulation of health and safety of nuclear power plant personnel, the public and the environment, 2001.” Para 2.4 (b) of the Criteria reads: The total population in the sterilised area should be small, preferably less than 20,000.

In the case of Kudankulam, within a distance of five km from the site for KKNPP units 3 to 6 (sterilised zone) there are three villages having a population of 23,060 (as per 2001 census). Since the sterilised zone has more population than specified in the Criteria, the AERB ought not to have granted the FPC clearance to the units in question, said Sundar Rajan of city-based NGO Poovulagin Nanbargal.

The NGO has been fighting the case against the clearance. Not just the FPC, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance granted to units 3 to 6 of Kudankulam is based on an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) done by Engineers India Ltd, a non-accredited agency to do EIA for nuclear power plants and it is under the Supreme Court review.

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Odisha- Condemn the arrest of mine workers in Sukanda Valley


Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisation strongly condemns the arrest of three mine workers Rabi Murmu, Abhimanyu Mohanto and Ramesh Majhi on June 12, 2017 on false and fabricated charges of conspiring to wage a war against the Indian state and inciting violence. We understand this arrest and the imposition of severe charges as an attempt by the ruling BJD and BC Mohanty & Sons, the company operating the mine in Sukinda valley to intimidate and prevent the mine workers from forming a trade union and challenging human rights violations resulting from mass tribal displacement in the region.
Rabi Murmu is the President and Abhimanyu Mohanto is the General Secretary of the Aancholiko Khoni Khadaan Mazdoor Sangh, a union that has been organizing in the pursuit of regularizing the wages of mine workers as well as their registration in the B Register. The union has also been drawing attention to rights violations of persons displaced by the mines, with an eruption in mining licenses over the past few years in Sukinda valley, which is the chromite-rich belt of Odisha in Jajpur district. Odisha has 98% of the total chromite reserve in India, 97% of which is found in the Sukinda valley. Currently, there are 14 chromite mines in the Sukinda valley of which 12 or 13 are in operation.
According to information gathered by us, on the morning of June 12, Rabi Murmu, Abhimanyu Mohanto and Ramesh Majhi had gathered at the gate of the Kamarda Chromite Mines Company to participate in a peaceful protest demonstration and were carrying with them a memorandum of demands on behalf of the workers. Before the protest could begin, police personnel from Kaliapani Police Station led by IC Yuvraj Swain arrived at the spot and threatened to book them under Maoist cases if they did not abide by the will of Pritiranjan Gharai, the local MLA from the ruling party BJD. In the week leading up to the protest demonstration, the workers had been getting threatening calls from local BJD supporters to back down on their demands. The Police executed their threat, and arrested the three mine workers for possessing Maoist literature, and for inciting tribals to join their union to fight for their rights against displacement, under Ss. 25-27, Arms Act; and Ss. 147, 506, 121 (A), 124 (A), 120 (B) and 149 (17), IPC. See Odisha POST dated June 14, 2017: 3 Ultras held in Kaliapani. The said Maoist literature is, in fact, some copies of Nua Duniya, a weekly newsletter of the CPI, and a journal of the Chaasi Mulia Adibaasi Sangh.
On June 19, 2017, Rebabati Murmu and Padmabati Mohanto, wives of Rabi Murmu and Abhimanyu Mohanto, respectively, petitioned the Odisha Human Rights Commission in Bhubaneswar demanding an inquiry into the arrest, and for proceedings to be initiated against the police personnel, in order to determine the complicity of political parties under whose direction the arrests have taken place. The petition further demands that all phone calls of the police personnel be tracked to establish the nexus of police, administration, mining authorities and the ruling BJD MLA.
CDRO unequivocally endorses the rights of workers to form a trade union as a fundamental right, to fight for their interests, engage in collective bargaining for regularization of wages and to improve working conditions. The witch-hunt launched against the workers, and the baseless accusations of being Maoists foisted upon them by the Police, are an assault on workers’ rights, and is directed to prevent people from collectively struggling for their rights. The complicity of state authorities and political parties in such intimidation is a carte blanche to the mining authorities and the district administration to engage in further rights violations of the mine workers and displaced persons through exploitation and unfair labour practices. The Odisha police follows the old strategy of stifling any challenges to the ruthless exploitation of natural resources, displacement of peoples and the pursuit of unfair labour practices by simply labeling activists/dissidents as Maoists.
C. Chandrasekhar (CLC, Andhra Pradesh), Asish Gupta (PUDR, Delhi), Pritpal Singh (AFDR, Punjab), Phulendro Konsam (COHR, Manipur) and Tapas Chakraborty (APDR, West Bengal) (Coordinators of CDRO).
Constituent Organisations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal); Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Andhra Pradesh); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Telangana); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Maharashtra); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR,Tamil Nadu); Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur); Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam); Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka); Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR, Jharkhand); Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi); Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR, Haryana), Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi; Janhastakshep(Delhi).

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Human rights violations in Kaziranga: NAPM calls it ‘militarisation, not conservation’

Statement by the National Alliance of People’s Movement

Govt. of India & Assam must End Impunity: Ensure rights of scheduled tribes, forest, park dwellers and safeguard environment-wildlife with an objective & holistic conservation policy

18th June, 2017: National Alliance of People’s Movements expresses its solidarity with the struggle of the scheduled tribes, forest & park dwellers living near the Kaziranga National park (KNP), in Golaghat district, Assam, challenging the unjust and repressive attitude of the Forest Department of Assam and silence of the Govt. of India in the garb of conservation. We salute the spirit of activists like Pranab Doley, Soneswer Narah and others of the Jeepal Krishak Shramik Sangha (JKSS), who, in spite of facing continuous threats, trumped-up charges, hand-cuffing and arrests have highlighted the impunity enjoyed by the Forest Dept. in dealing with the local people.

It may be noted that while villagers and activists like Akhil Gogoi, associated with the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) have for long been facing repression and raising concerns about the human rights violations, evictions and deplorable state of affairs in villages near Kaziranga, the issue once again came to spotlight with the Govt’s ban on BBC’s documentary ‘Killing for Conservation’ which has exposed the shoot-at-sight policy of KNP and the grim situation of the locals being threatened, harassed, tortured and even killed by the Forest Dept, using conservation a shield. The documentary has graphically portrayed the serious issues faced by communities living at the periphery of KNP by the Forest Dept. in the name of conservation. The Govt’s impunity, we feel, is starkly visible, both in its repression on the KNP’s forest dwellers as well as in its arbitrary ban on BBC’s film, threat of blacklisting the media group and revoking its filming permission across the country!

Across the country, whether in Niyamgiri, Narmada, Nilgiris or elsewhere scheduled tribes and other forest dwellers are always forcefully made to pay the price for ‘development’, many times with their livelihood (displacement) and at times even with their life ! It is in this situation that we are compelled to ask the Governments of Assam and India, if what the State is doing at KNP is indeed ‘Conservation’ or ‘Militarization’. The situation here, we feel, warrants a radical overhaul of the conservation policy and practice of the State, which disregards centuries old-indigenous culture, life and livelihoods.

We express our deep concern at the large numbers of extra-judicial killings by the KNP authorities, which reportedly are about 106 in the last 20 years and 57 only in the past three years – 27 in 2014, 23 in 2015 and 7 in 2016. As per the forest department’s own Report of 2014, while hundreds of alleged poachers have been shot dead in encounters over the years, not a single forest staffer has been killed in an encounter between 1985 and June, 2014. This record over 3 decades raises some crucial questions about the official claims that all the killings “are of poachers in cross-fire”! We have enough reason to suspect periodic abuse of the ‘Order’ dt. 14/7/2010 issued by the Govt. of Assam according legal immunity to all the forest guards of Kaziranga using Firearms, in addition to the existing immunity from judicial proceedings they enjoy for actions done in ‘good faith’ under Sec 197 of CrPC. India has been witnessing the abuse of draconian legislations like AFPSA for decades in Kashmir, Manipur and other North-East states, where legal immunity is used a shield for fake encounters, rapes and torture. We fear for the well-being of the scheduled tribes and other forest dwellers of Kaziranga in the light of such provisions, granting blanket immunity to forest authorities.

We strongly feel the need for inclusive and participatory socio-economic development of the locals of Kaziranga in order to protect KNP. However, instead of addressing people’s demands, throwing environmental and human rights activists and local people behind bars, at the drop of a hat, without cogent proof and in violation of criminal procedure is a stark reminder of the high-handed Jungle-Raj that continues even 7 decades after ‘independence’. The unjust firing of two persons, repression on many others by the state police last September, when the people were opposing the eviction drive in KNP’s expanded buffer zone as per the Guwahati High Court’s Order and demanding rehabilitation as per the LARR Act, 2013, since the residents were living there since 4-5 decades, is still fresh in memory.

NAPM endorses the key demands of the local people including immediate review of the 33 Highlands Project in the KNP core zone, disclosure of the Environment and Forest Clearance, Environment Impact Assessment Report and allied documents in relation to the Highlands Project within KNP, implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 as well as the LARR Act, 2013; complete reservation to the inhabitants of KNP and its periphery and reservation for ST(P), OBC, MOBC as per government guidelines; regularization of all the casual employees in KNP, immediate release of compensation for loss of life or property during the 2016 floods, a loan waiver for affected farmers, permanent jobs to family members of victims who have lost their life to wild animal attack or innocent victims who have suffered at the hands of Forest Department and immediate withdrawal of large sound and smoke emitting machines from KNP.

NAPM stands in full solidarity with the courageous struggle of the Jeepal Krishak Shramik Sangha (JKSS), Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK), Mising Mimag Kebang (MMK) and other people’s organizations against the impunity and immunity of the forest officials and the unjust, unaccountable model of conservation, leading to gross violation of basic human rights. We call upon the Govt. of Assam and India to ensure immediate withdrawal of all Govt. Orders that authorize use of force against villagers in the name of conservation, withdrawal of false cases, end to all forms of threat, arbitrary arrests and a dialogue with the people’s organizations in the area to address the concerns of scheduled tribes, forest ad park dwellers, and involve them in the conservation efforts. The Govt. must ensure that there are no evictions, without lawful rehabilitation. We also call upon the State Govt. to institute an independent inquiry into all the killings by forest guards and adequate compensation for survivors / family members of state violence. Govt. of India must revoke its ban on BBC’s documentary and abstain from issuing any form of threat to media or other public organization that report the ground realities.​

Signed by the National Team of Advisors, Convenors and Special Invitees of NAPM

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International Yoga Day: MP farmers perform shavasana on highway in protest

While the whole world came forward to celebrate the International Yoga Day on June 21, the farmers across north India staged protests by performing ‘shavasana’ on highways.

Barabanki farmer protest (courtesy: ANI)Barabanki farmer protest (courtesy: ANI)


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    Madhya Pradesh farmers protested by performing ‘shavasana’ to highlight their plight.
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    Bharatiya Kisan Union held a ‘yoga on highways’ session as a form of protest.
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    Recently, Punjab became the third state to announce a loan waiver.

While PM Narendra Modi led the country in celebrating the International Yoga Day, farmers in a few states protested by performing shavasana (corpse pose) to highlight the agrarian crisis.

In Madhya Pradesh, farmers under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh headed by Shivkumar Sharma demonstrated their protest by performing the ‘shavasana’, since their demands for loan waiver and better prices for the agriculture produce are still not met. They demanded action against the administrative and police officials responsible for the firing in Mandsaur which killed five farmers and left scores injured.

Recently, on June 15, a large gathering of farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh converged at Jantar Mantar in the national capital to stage protest against their poor condition.

The Kisan Mahapanchayat, organised by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), also protested today, organising a ‘Yoga on Highways’ session to protest alleged anti-farmer policies of the Modi government.

In Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of farmers belonging to BKU laid on the highway performing ‘shavasan’, bringing the traffic on NH-28 to a standstill. However, they allowed ambulances and students to pass through.

Harinam Singh Verma, a BKU leader said, “The loan waiver of Yogi was a mere eyewash and not a single farmer has benefited out of it. Imagine, we have to sell our milk at 25 Rs/litre, whereas bottled waters are sold at rs 50 to 60 of some brands.”

Mukesh Singh, another leader demanded higher support price for the produce. He lamented that, “The central government has failed to live up to its promises and the farmers are left to fend for themselves. We are agitated by what happened in Mandsaur.” The farmers however cleared the highway for traffic after the token protest. Earlier, they had plans to stage the protest till 12.00 noon.

According to the BKU President Naresh Tikait, while Prime Minister Modi performs Yoga at Lucknow Stadium; farmers all over the country will block highways between 9 am to 12 noon as a mark of protest.

Yoga Day
Farmers perform yoga on the Delhi-Dehradun highway in Meerut’s Daurala town in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday.(Chahatram/HT)

A farm crisis sweeping several states left its mark on the International Yoga Day celebrations on Wednesday as several politicians used the occasion to send a message about the agricultural distress.

Farmers and Madhya Pradesh Congress leaders performed ‘Shavasana’ (a corpse pose) in different programmes to protest against chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, whom they hold responsible for the death of five farmers in police firing in Mandsaur two weeks ago.

Madhya Pradesh state congress president Arun Yadav along with party workers perform the shavasana to protest against chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal on Wednesday. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT)

In Bhopal, a group of farmers under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh headed by Shivkumar Sharma ‘Kakkaji’ performed Shavasana.

In Uttar Pradesh where chief minister Yogi Adityanath approved a loan waiver two months ago, hundreds of farmers blocked roads and highways to perform shavasana.

The members of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and their supporters demanded immediate compensation for the families of farmers killed in Madhya Pradesh.

“ We selected shavasana because we wanted to show the government that farmers are reduced merely into a dead body if they are not treated well. Farmer don’t deserve bullets if they demand good rates or loan waiver ,” said Bhartiya Kisan Union’s Alok Varma.

A group of farmers with BKU blocked the traffic on the Delhi- Dehradun highway in Daurala area on Wednesday by. Dharmendra Malik, the Union’s spokesperson said that the farmers also performed Yoga on Delhi- Saharanpur- Hardwar highway at Chutmalpur in district Saharanpur, Mansoorpur, Rampur Tiraha, Lalukheri and Budhana in district Muzaffarnagar, Hapur chungi in Hapur and many other locations on different highways.

There was another group that blocked the Delhi- Pauri highway in Mawana town. Nawab Singh Ahlawat and Sanjay Dauralia were among the BKU leaders that led the protests in Daurala.

The Opposition has slammed the Centre for not managing the farmer crisis efficiently. Congress and other opposition parties criticised the BJP for making false promises of loan waivers. On June 19, Punjab became the third state this year after UP and Maharashtra to announce a waiver on crop loans.

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Odisha- No Ambulance , Family members carry pregnant woman #WTFnews

in Odisha‘s Ramapura village

By Express News Service  |

The pregnant woman with her relatives | Express

NABARANGPUR:Negligence in ambulance services continues to give patients tough time in rural areas of the State. In yet another such incident, a pregnant woman had to be carried on shoulders by her family members after the calls for ambulance service failed on Monday.

According to Jagannath Gond, husband of the pregnant woman Rumai, of Ramapara village under Tohora gram panchayat in Umerkote block, they had called 102 and 108 ambulance services but the control unit failed to arrange one. With no other option for communication and Rumai in severe labour pain, Jagannath and other family members carried her for around 3 km to the nearest main road, from where they took a taxi to Umerkote Community Health Centre (CHC).

Gynaecology and Obstetrics (O&G) specialist Doctor Sumant Kumar Raul said, “She was suffering from labour pain when she arrived and we delivered the baby within half an hour. A male child was born and both mother and son are healthy.”
Rumai gave birth to a boy in the CHC and the condition of both mother and son is safe, said Chief District Medical Officer Arup Ghosh.

Rumai had come to her paternal village two days back, said Ghosh. Had her parents informed an Asha worker or ANM of the village, they would have registered her name and made advance planning for shifting her to CHC, he added.
It is learnt that there is no all-weather road to Ramapara. It is not accessible by a vehicle and in the past too, women had to face similar problems.

State Health Minister Pratap Jena on Wednesday ordered a probe into the incident of a pregnant woman being carried on shoulders by family members allegedly due to 102 and 108 ambulance failure in Rampara village of Nabarangpur district.

The minister further ordered a departmental inquiry into the failure of the ambulance service in this incident.

“A thorough investigation is required over such negligence. Strict disciplinary action will be taken against those who are responsible,” said Jena.

According to the claims of Damani Gond’s family members, she complained of labour pain on Monday following which the 108 and 102 ambulance service was called. But as the vehicles did not arrive, she was carried by them for nearly three kilometres and then taken to Umerkote Community Health Centre (CHC) by booking a private vehicle, the family members said.

Damani gave birth to a baby boy in the CHC. The condition of both mother and son was said to be safe.

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All mega projects sail into 1,090 acres of troubled waters

CHENNAI: State and Central government entities have converted over 1,000 acres of the ecologically sensitive Ennore creek — and have more in the pipeline — in violation of mandatory procedures, alleged activists on Friday in a revelation that raises serious concerns.

The creek’s 8,000-acre water spread area is classified as CRZ-1 (Coastal Regulation Zone), where development is strictly regulated, according to Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) of 1996. As per CRZ notification, this is the only approved map, and the state and district coastal zone management authorities have to refer to it while appraising all applications seeking clearance.

In two separate RTI responses to Coastal Resource Centre, an NGO, the Tiruvallur district Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA) and the State CZMA have revealed that neither has a copy of the approved map for Ennore creek. The district authority admitted that it relied solely on the maps submitted by the project proponents.

“The CZMP of 1996 has so far been kept under the carpet. Major establishments like Kamarajar Port and the thermal power plants have got clearances based on unapproved maps prepared by their consultants. This is a serious violation by State and Central public sector undertakings,” said Nityanand Jayaraman of Save Ennore Creek Campaign.

Some of the activities like port and oil storage containers are permitted in CRZ-1, but the basis on which the clearances were obtained was wrong.

Kamarajar Port is now converting 280 acres of waterbody into land for a coal yard, TANGEDCO is also dumping sand and blocking the creek to construct a coal conveyor belt for the Ennore Thermal Power Station and Bharat Petroleum is building a storage facility on 102 acres of the wetland. “Such activities are strictly prohibited in CRZ-1 and clearances can’t be granted as per the CZMP approved in 1996.”

For obtaining clearance, BPCL submitted maps prepared by Institute of Remote Sensing (IRS), according to which the project site falls in CRZ-1(A), CRZ-1(B) and CRZ-3. Based on this map, the State coastal zone management authority has issued clearance with the condition that no activity be carried out in CRZ-1 areas. However, IRS maps are not approved, and CZMP map shows the entire project site falls in CRZ-1 area, which meant clearance shouldn’t have been granted.

Releasing the documents, retired Madras High Court Justice D Hariparanthaman, and former expert member of the National Green Tribunal, R Nagendran, noted that the creek automatically enjoys protection under Wetland Rules, 2010.

Meanwhile, an open letter endorsed by Environmentalist Foundation  of India, Poovulagin Nanbargal, Ilanthamizhagam and Arappor Iyakkam has been sent to chief secretary seeking to further halt encroachment and declare it as a ‘climate sanctuary’.

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India – The invisible women farmers

Agriculture cannot survive without them. But they are invisible in the current conversation on the agrarian crisis

Written by Mrinal Pande |

Farmer agitation, Farm loan waivers, Agricultural sector, Women farmers, Unorganised sector, Minimum support price, Indian ExpressA woman farmer stands on her dried up paddy crop land in Maner in Patna district in Bihar. (Express Photo/Prashant Ravi, File)

An ex-company executive-cum-economist turns to the anchor during a discussion on the farmers’ agitation. “Overpopulation is destroying the farming activity. There are simply too many mouths to feed and the farms are shrinking. We must look to the urban areas for creating new jobs,” he says. The man at the local paan shop tells no one in particular: “Yaar, none of the farmers’ children want to dirty their hands anymore. They wear jeans and own mobiles. They will sell the land as soon as they inherit”. A respected Hindi anchor turns to a farmers’ representative, “Kaka (uncle)”, he says, “Our agriculture minister is out somewhere performing yoga asanas with some baba as our farmer brothers suffer. What do the farmers really want from the government?” Kaka thinks for a bit. “The farmer has traditionally never wanted anything from a government except a fair support price,” he says.

What do these pictures and dialogues have in common? They have males talking to males about what is being seen as a totally male problem, to be tackled by males. By now one is used to such responses from people about the enormous churn going on in our farming communities. They are only reacting to and repeating messages such as the ones above. What can life as a woman farmer, daily-wage labourer mean if women were to start talking?

As women who came of age in the campuses of the Sixties, many of us avidly read the first ever (1974) national report on the state of India’s women, Towards Equality, cover to cover. It revealed, in no uncertain terms, that the rural agricultural sector was the biggest employer in India. However, unlike male farmers and cultivators, their female counterparts remained doubly burdened during their peak productive period with their reproductive role seen as fundamental to their gender while the duties it entailed were socially created. So even as women laboured in fields, they continued to have and rear children almost single-handedly, the report showed.

Nearly two decades later, working with a group of women on Shram Shakti (the first government report on India’s women workers in the unorganised sector), this fact was reconfirmed. The farm sector, even in 1989, employed the largest number of women workers both as cultivators and daily-wage labourers. But women remained outside the formal definition of “worker” in the census reports.

Cut to the the 21st century. The latest census figures list only 32.8 per cent women formally as primary workers in the agricultural sector, in contrast to 81.1 per cent men. But the undeniable fact remains that India’s agricultural industry, which employs 80 to 100 million women, cannot survive without their labour. From preparing the land, selecting seeds, preparing and sowing to transplanting the seedlings, applying manure/fertilisers/pesticides and then harvesting, winnowing and threshing, women work harder and longer than male farmers.

Maintaining the ancillary branches in this sector, like animal husbandry, fisheries and vegetable cultivation, depends almost solely on women. So where are these women while the male farmers and their kakas furiously debate the future of farming, loans, subsidies and irrigation matters? Men get more than their share of visibility on TV, in governmental publicity material and within the banking sectors but millions of women farmers have no spokesperson from their ranks.

The primary reason for this is that they are usually not listed as primary earners and owners of land assets within their families. So getting loans, participating in mandi panchayats, assessing and deciding the crop patterns, liaising with the district officials, bank managers and political representatives and bargaining for MSPs (minimum support prices), loans and subsidies, remain male activities.

Over the last decade, as farming became less and less profitable and small and marginal farmers began migrating to cities, rural jobs for full-time women daily-wage labourers (those who do not own land but work at least 183 days in a year in someone’s farm) in the agricultural sector have shrunk alarmingly. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employee Guarantee Act, that employed many of them in the interim period, has been curtailed sharply by the government that proclaims “sabka saath sabka vikas” as its basic mantra. According to a recent study by the Evidence for Policy Design at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, there has been a drop of almost 11 per cent in women’s participation in the workforce.

When confronted with these facts, the usual laconic response has been: “Oh but why do you wish women to be stuck perennially in these low pay low visibility jobs as farm labourers? Most of our educated young women do not wish to work in farms. They can now be teachers, nurses, Asha didis”. If only it were so. The same study also reveals that with so many well-educated men also competing for these white collar jobs, rural girls in urban homes, armed with a mere school certificate cannot find jobs. They must also have a college degree. So the vast sea of farmers’ faces on our TV sets shows no female leaders. If they appear, they do so as sobbing widows and mothers of farmers who killed themselves or were killed by police bullets.

At a time when fundamentalism and neo-fascism are on the rise and unfettered consumerism and trade treaties are eroding old communities and threatening the environment, when measures like the ban on animal slaughter are impacting the dairy industry and destroying jobs, diseases due to the contamination of earth and water are erupting everywhere can we afford to sustain gender barriers between human beings unquestioningly? When not just the politicians and media persons but also the farmers regard the impoverished sea of women farmers as a faceless void, they deny them their humanity while diminishing their own.

The invisible women farmers

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New South Korean president vows to end use of nuclear power

Moon Jae-in speaks at an event to mark the closure of South Korea’s oldest nuclear plant, Kori-1.

Moon Jae-in said he would lead country towards a ‘nuclear-free era’ following fears of a Fukushima-style meltdown

South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, has vowed to phase out the country’s dependence on nuclear power, warning of “unimaginable consequences” from a Fukushima-style meltdown.

Moon, a left-leaning liberal who won last month’s presidential election by a landslide following the impeachment and arrest of Park Geun-hye, said he would increase the role of renewable energy and lead South Korea towards a “nuclear-free era”.

Speaking at an event to mark the closure of the country’s oldest nuclear plant, Kori-1, he said: “So far, South Korea’s energy policy pursued cheap prices and efficiency. “Cheap production prices were considered the priority while the public’s life and safety took a back seat. But it’s time for a change.

“We will abolish our nuclear-centred energy policy and move towards a nuclear-free era. We will completely scrap construction plans for new nuclear reactors that are currently under way.”

Moon added that he would not extend the operation of ageing reactors, many of which will come to the end of their lifespans between 2020 and 2030.

Weaning South Korea off nuclear power, however, could take decades, and there is expected to be opposition from construction companies, which have increased technology exports under Moon’s nuclear-friendly predecessors.

The country was the fifth-largest producer of nuclear energy last year, according to the World Nuclear Association, with its 25 reactors generating about a third of its electricity.

The former president Lee Myung-bak saw nuclear as an important source of clean energy, while Park wanted to increase the number of reactors to 36 by 2029.

Moon recognised the role of nuclear power in South Korea’s rapid economic development, but added that Japan’s Fukushima disaster – which prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of people – had convinced him that his country must look to new sources of energy.

“The country’s economic status has changed, our awareness on the importance of the environment has changed. The notion that the safety and lives of people are more important than anything else has become a firm social consensus,” he said.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have long warned of the potentially disastrous consequences of a meltdown at a nuclear plant in South Korea, where many reactors are close to densely populated areas.

The public’s support for nuclear power has weakened since the 2011 Fukushima meltdown and a 2013 corruption scandal over fake safety certificates for reactor parts.

“The Fukushima nuclear accident has clearly proved that nuclear reactors are neither safe, economical nor environmentally friendly,” Yonhap news agency quoted Moon as saying.

“South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquakes, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact.”

He also plans to close at least 10 ageing coal-fired power plants before his term ends in 2022 and to boost renewables’ share of the energy mix to 20% by 2030.

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