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Kaiga nuclear plant expansion: Expect body blow for Western Ghats biodiversity

Rich tropical forest, vibrant wildlife, water of Kali river will be in line of destruction

Nuclear Energy

The Satoddi waterfall in the Western Ghats, in Uttara Kannada district, where the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant is also located. Credit: Getty Images  The Satoddi waterfall in the Western Ghats, in Uttara Kannada district, where the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant is also located. Credit: Getty Images

The biodiversity of the Western Ghats, already under a lot of anthropogenic pressure, will suffer even more if the expansion of the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which is to come up for public hearing on December 14, goes ahead. That this will be done for generating power through a technology that has several alternative and much benign options is even more ironical.

To understand this, an overview of the related issues is necessary.

In May 2017, the Union government decided to commission ten nuclear power reactors of the type Pressurised heavy-water reactor (PHWR) of 700 MW capacity each in different parts of the country. Two of the ten PHWR type reactors are proposed at the Kaiga NPP, in Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district.

Let us first consider the terrain around Kaiga NPP. It is made of undulating hills covered with thick forests as an important part of the Western Ghats (WGs) on the west coast of India. According to a 2011 report by the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests, the forests around Kaiga NPP, a World Heritage site, are considered to be some of the best tropical forests in the world with very high ecological value, rich tropical bio-diversity and many kinds of unique species. The hill ranges of the WGs, of which these forests are critical parts, are  considered as the backbone of the ecology and economy of South India, and are also very good carbon sequestration systems in addition to being the water fountains of Peninsular India.

In view of the fact that the existing transmission lines (4 lines of 400 kV rating) to evacuate power from Kaiga NPP will not be adequate for the new capacity of 1,400 MW, there will be a need for additional transmission lines to evacuate the additionally generated electricity. These new lines may require the clearance of a 75 metre-wide corridor for more than 100 km for the right of way. This means the destruction of many sq kms of thick tropical forest of very high ecological value not only for the WGs, the state of Karnataka, and the country, but to the global environment itself because of the good Carbon sequestration capability of the thick forests in the tropics. The total cost (both direct and indirect costs) of such a destruction of tropical forests will be incalculable from the ecological perspective to India, whereas the benefits of the additional electricity from the expanded project will be negligible from the country’s projected power sector capability by 2030 (year by which the two reactors may get commissioned).

The forest cover in the Uttara Kannada district, where Kaiga is located, has come down from a high of about 70 per cent of the land area in the 1950s to less than 25% now due to various ‘development projects’ including the Konkan Railway, Sea-Bird naval base, national highways, industries, many dam-based hydel projects, and the Kaiga NPP since 2000. As against the National Forest Policy (adopted in the 1980s) target of 33 per cent land cover by forests & trees, Karnataka’s forest & tree cover at present is less than 20 per cent for which the forests of Uttara Kannada district are major contributors. Any further loss of such rich forests in the WGs can spell doom not only to the drought-prone state of Karnataka, but to the whole of Peninsular India, for which the WGs are considered as water fountains.

As per the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) IV Assessment Report, “the emissions from deforestation are very significant—they are estimated to represent more than 18 per cent of global emissions”. It also says, “Curbing deforestation is a highly cost-effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

At a time when the mitigation aspects of climate change have occupied the minds of global leaders, it is a moot point to consider how rational it will be to loose many sq km of thick tropical forest around Kaiga NPP for the sake of a technology, for which there are many benign and much less costly alternatives. While the nationwide efforts to plant tree saplings are laudable, the same cannot replace the rich original tropical forests. It would be unacceptably destructive.

The increase in nuclear power capacity by 2.6 times at Kaiga NPP should also mean an additional fresh water demand on the Kali river, which is flowing adjacent to the project, by a similar magnitude. If this also leads to an increase in the temperature of the discharged water from the project back to the river, it should be a matter of concern from the perspective of the creatures dependent on that river.

Due to the increased volume of the used-water discharge from the project, the pollution level of the river water downstream of the project is likely to go up, despite the claims of project authorities on water purification processes to be deployed. It is a moot point as to what impact will this distorted quality of river will have on the concerned stakeholders. It is impossible to imagine that it will be beneficial from any perspective.

The impact of the vastly increased radiation density (because of the 2.6 times increase in nuclear reactor activity?) on the bio-diversity and the people working and living in the project area cannot be anything but negative. Additionally, the risk of any unfortunate nuclear accident can only multiply because of the need to store on site the vastly additional quantity of highly radioactive spent fuel for hundreds of years (India has no policy as yet to store the spent nuclear fuel and other associated wastes away from the nuclear reactor site).

In summary, the expansion of Kaiga will be catastrophic for the biodiversity of the area, which in turn will have effects on Karnataka, India and even the world. It will be a travesty of social and environmental justice, and the violation of the provision of the country’s Constitution to allow the diversion of more than 54 hectares of dense forest land of very high ecological value, and 6,346 cubic metre per hour of fresh water which can meet the daily needs of more than a million people to this enormously risky project.

Clearly, Karnataka and India can do without so much destruction. The costs of the expansion of Kaiga are unacceptable and just not worth it. The government should give serious thought before taking any further decisions on the project.

Shankar Sharma is a power policy analyst and professional electrical engineer with over 38 years of experience in India, Australia and New Zealand

ciurtesy- down to earth

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India – Someone still asking for Aadhaar? Let us know!

Aadhaar

Contrary to the Supreme Court’s judgment, some entities are still asking for Aadhaar

A nine judge bench of the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on Aadhaar on September 26, 2018 wherein the majority view, comprised of – Dipak Misra CJI., AK Sikri J., AM Khanwilkar, J. and Ashok Bhushan J. (though Bhushan J. dissented with the majority on certain points) upheld the constitutionality of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 barring a few provisions on disclosure of personal information, cognizance of offences and use of the Aadhaar ecosystem by private corporations. DY Chandrachud J. delivered a dissenting opinion declaring the entire Aadhaar scheme along with the Act to be unconstitutional.

“Benefits” and “services” as mentioned in Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, the expenditure for which is derived from the Consolidated fund of India will require mandatory furnishing of Aadhaar, the judgment noted.

The Supreme Court also upheld Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, under which every citizen who is eligible to obtain Aadhaar must quote either their Aadhaar Number or the Enrolment ID while filing Income Tax Returns or applying for PAN. However, we have come across instances wherein Aadhaar is being asked for, for the purpose of availing banking services and for recording attendance in colleges.

Apart from the above mentioned, Aadhaar is NOT mandatory for availing any other services like banking and telecom. Please refer to our FAQs for further information on this.

We have curated a list that contains instances of violations of the Supreme Court’s judgment, the data for which has been gathered from secondary sources mainly.

A lot of times, violations of the judgment are not reported by the media, and therefore we are creating a citizen reporting mechanism. Write to us at [email protected] or send us a DM on our twitter handle (@SFLCin) if you come across any violation of the Supreme Court judgment and we shall help you by drafting contempt letters that can be sent to the violating entity.

Date

Violating entity

Kind of violation

1. 16/11/18  

Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad and all affiliate colleges

Aadhaar based Biometric attendance made mandatory for B.Tech students
2. As of Nov.27, 2018  

Canara Bank

Aadhaar based e-KYC
3. As of Nov.27, 2018  

Syndicate Bank

Aadhaar based e-KYC
4. As of Nov. 29, 2018  

LazyPay (Android app)

 

Aadhaar based KYC
5. As of Dec. 2, 2018  

EPFO

The website requires Aadhaar for withdrawal of PF;

Process life certificate for EPFO

6. As of Dec 3, 2018

 

Darpan ID  

Aadhaar of board members necessary for getting the Darpan ID for NGOs.

7. As of Dec 3, 2018 HDFC Payzapp wallet  

Aadhaar based KYC

 

8. Not known

Air Force Common Admission Test  

Online Registration

     

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#RajasthanPolls: How Amit Shah’s ‘super teams’ from Gujarat are pitching in for the BJP

A look at Shah’s data-driven, micromanaging team in Bhiwadi, just one of about 100 of his teams operating across the state.

There’s a hush of wonder and perplexity that descends when the political class talks about the Amit Shah-Narendra Modi election machine, especially post the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. It also helps that mainstream media celebrate the duo as a “Jadu Jodi”, gushing and fawning about every election victory as a masterstroke, conquest, coup and other such adulatory narratives.

What is this election machine that Bharatiya Janata Party President Shah has set up that drives and enthuses his party workers and animates his political rivals and challengers? Why does Shah rely predominantly on his “Super Teams” who fly in from Gujarat, and who overrun and oversee the state local party organisation? How does their multi-pronged strategy work? Has Shah’s poll roller, replicated from the Gujarat model and brought to the rest of the country, changed the way elections are fought today? Do political party rivals now have to adopt the Shah model to take the BJP on?

And crucially, can Shah’s mega poll roller of statistics, data and micro-managing win against voter disappointments, rejection and anti-incumbency?

First, let it be remembered that post 2014, the mainstream media’s fave Jadu Jodi has also lost a few elections—a spectacular loss in the Delhi Assembly, barely eight months after Modi swept to power in May 2014; then came Bihar  in November in the same year when the BJP was trounced; in 2016, the BJP could barely make a mark in the elections in Kerala, Pudducherry, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu; it lost Punjab in 2017 and wrested power in Goa surreptitiously the same time. However, it has jumped from seven in 2014 to rule 20 states either on its own or in alliances today and has 17 of its own chief ministers.

To check out how Shah’s machinery works, we set out to Bhiwadi, in Rajasthan, the state government’s industrial township, just outside Delhi, and in the throes of election fever, to be held on December 7. Dusty and brown Bhiwadi, where factories belch out toxic smoke and exhaust even as patches of the season’s sunny yellow mustard fields burst out between houses and buildings, is one of the constituents of Tijara Assembly constituency, which the BJP won in the last election in 2013. Bhiwadi is one of Tijara’s five mandals. Its MLA is the BJP’s Maman Singh Yadav, and Tijara is known for its dominant Yadav community and also Meo Muslims, and it has elected at least five Yadavs since Independence.

However, Tijara, which falls in the Alwar parliamentary constituency, gave a shock to Shah’s BJP earlier this year in the January by-poll when its candidate Jaswant Singh Yadav lost out to the Congress’s Karan Singh Yadav by a stunning 1.96 lakh votes. The late Mahant Chand Nath Yogi, whose death necessitated the by-poll, had won the election in 2014 with 2.64 lakh votes. The BJP has denied sitting MLA Maman Singh Yadav a ticket, giving it instead to a Bhiwadi local, Sandeep Dayma, the youthful former Kabbaddi champion and present chairman of the Bhiwadi municipal council. He is pitted against Aimaduddin Khan of the Congress and there are three other Muslim candidates, most notably from the Samajwadi Party.

Dayma is one of the fortunate candidates to have the BJP president’s “Super Team” to work for him, who have swooped in from Surat, Gujarat, and are a band of Shah’s most trusted workers. There’s Dinesh Raj Purohit, the BJP’s in-charge of Surat’s Limbayat assembly constituency, and his two party colleagues and friends, who exude an air of nonchalance as they breeze through the lobby of the four-star Golden Tulip Hotel in the industrial township. Purohit is a hotelier himself running the family business in Surat, and his colleagues are businessmen too.

Purohit says he is in Bhiwadi to do a personal favour to his friend, Dayma, but there is no doubt from his demeanour that he is in complete charge of the campaign, which will go right up to the final day of voting. “There are at least a 100 teams from Gujarat who are active in Rajasthan, micromanaging the election.” The party already has in place its election organisation on the ground months ahead—from the multi-tiered organisation of booth samitis, mandal leaders and shakti kendras (which oversee a clutch of booths). There are the Kendra palaks (in-charge) who work in tandem with the panna pramukhs or “page leaders”.

Purohit is satisfied the “panna pramukhs”, who are entrusted with one page of every voter list (about 60 names on each page), have done their job already of meeting families on a regular basis. “They’ve sent their reports on how many are for, against and neutral to the BJP,” he explains, “and they’ve been tasked to work on those who are undecided, to bring them to vote for the party.”

Purohit says it is not a difficult task as the voter lists consist mostly of neighbours or residents on the same street, so reaching out to them is not a difficult as they are familiar and recognisable faces. There are 2.23 lakh voters in Tijara, according to Purohit, and with an average of 60 voters per page, there are at least 4,000 panna pramukhs who have been drawn from volunteers and party workers.

Abhay Singh is the panna pramukh entrusted with Booth No 28, and he is confident that 60 per cent of his voters will vote for the BJP. “Only 20 per cent is with the Congress, and 20 per cent is neutral.” However, it’s with caution that Sube Singh Bhiduri, local BJP councillor and dedicated party worker, reminds us that in the recent Alwar parliamentary by-election, not only did the BJP lose, but there was a high of 15,000 NOTA votes.

Purohit and his team are unfazed as they head to the spanking new BJP office where, unlike the hordes of local party workers who swarm in the grounds and loll around on sofas in various rooms, their “call centre” comprising of seven people are crackling on their mobile phones with various leaders. The call centre is just a day old and will work until the last evening of polling. “Pramukhs and mandal heads have been given a dedicated number in the call centre and the latter’s job is to keep the flow of information running smoothly —from getting feedback on voter mobilisation and their numbers, especially on polling day, which is handed to us and to the local leadership on an immediate basis.”

Doesn’t the local leadership feel besieged and overwhelmed by outsiders? There are sniggers of derision and mock about the “outsiders” who have no clue about local issues, says a leader. But Purohit says Shah’s Gujarat teams are welcomed by local leadership because they come only to assist, not to intrude. “We use our data to tell them how to reach the voter scientifically and reliably,” he says, adding, “we show them how data can save time and find accuracy, after that it all depends on the candidate, the leadership, contentious issues, people’s demands, and other usual election time concerns and topics.”

So, what’s Purohit’s data crunching and micro-management in clash with in Bhiwadi? On one side, the laptops are rolling out figures like 1.5 lakh mobile numbers of new members, volunteers, or the merely curious of Tijara; and the call centres from Jaipur to Delhi are bombarding them with daily messages and calls to vote for the BJP. Then there are the voter lists duly transferred on excel sheets, which are photo-copied into thousands for the panna pramukh, which lists the name, family name, address, ward number, and—most notably—caste; apart from a list of 38,000 Aadhaar card holders and the benefits they received from both central and state government schemes.

In fact, contacting the beneficiaries of schemes is Shah’s new strategy, such as Rajasthan’s touted Bhamshah health insurance scheme for the poor, or the central pension scheme, or the Aadhaar card holders in the constituency who get funds directly to their bank accounts, to cash in and swing votes in their favour. “There are 15,000 families in Tijara who have benefitted from the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala scheme of giving subsidised cooking gas cylinders,” says Purohit proudly. “I am sure the women who were granted the welfare scheme will not need much convincing to vote for the BJP after the panna pramukhs meet them.”

On the other hand, the fervour and gusto boil over when it comes to emotions and feelings of the people in the state, and worse, in the party structure. There is palpable anger among local party workers with the “Maharani”, chief minister Vasundhara Raje, says a leader, as she has gone over the heads of the party to rely and work solely with bureaucrats and the administration. The organisational structure, which is the workforce on the ground, has been ignored and by-passed in handing out contracts, work assignments and making policy decisions, at the cost of the lowering their significance in the constituency. “We’ve become a laughing stock as we neither have a say in the distribution of schemes and contracts nor are we able to give any handouts to our people. Our authority has diminished, even the local SHO ignores our requests in any dispute. All decisions are taken in Jaipur,” says a leader angrily.

Another reveals that the anti-incumbency against first timers—there were as many as 90 first-time MLAs when Raje won in 2013, with a resounding 163 seats out of 200 seats—who did not really find their ground, which also goes against the BJP this time. Also, while the selection of candidates and distribution of schemes was mostly decided in the state capital, several pramukhs have helped themselves as beneficiaries if they are eligible, says a leader helpfully, as it’s seen as a reward for their loyalty and dedication.

Mercifully, says another leader, the confusion in the Congress state leadership, the power clash between newbie Sachin Pilot and old horse Ashok Gehlot, their faulty selection of candidates in many constituencies, apart from old caste rivalries and affiliations, can make rival Congress’ job even harder for electoral victory, despite a wave of anti-incumbency in the state.

So, how confident is Purohit about Shah’s electoral machine working in Rajasthan this time? The Surat BJP leader had also worked as part of Shah’s team in both the Karnataka and Bihar state elections, but the BJP lost in both states. Purohit is cocky when he points out that though the party did not win the elections, it had doubled its last tally, gaining 64 seats, and was just nine seats short of hitting the majority in the Assembly. In Bihar, he points out, the JD(U) and RJD combine was bulletproof, but the JD(U) is now back as an ally of the BJP.

The contest, it seems is between an extravagant, multi-crore, data-driven micro-management election machine, versus the heated and intense emotions of the electorate, which rises and falls in proportion to their enthusiasm and disinterest. Can an aroused and charged electorate take on a sleek and techno-savvy data machine? The results of the Rajasthan state elections and the other three states on December 11, will tell which is going to stay in the future.

https://www.newslaundry.com/2018/12/06/rajasthanpolls-how-amit-shahs-super-teams-from-gujarat-are-pitching-in-for-the-bjp

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Marathwada farmers harvest water in streams, reap rich yields #mustshare

Farmers in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra that is prone to droughts have made agriculture remunerative by harvesting rainwater in pond-like pockets in streams, leading to groundwater recharge

 

Falling in a rain shadow region, Jalna district in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra is prone to frequent droughts. Villages in Jalna have an annual rainfall between 600 mm and 700 mm. Villagers grow two crops a year, namely kharif and rabi crops.

Papal village in Jafrabad administrative block of Jalna has about 250 households and a population of about 1,500. A few decades ago, the government started supplying electricity to farmers, at a flat tariff. This enabled irrigation of the fields from existing open wells, prompting many villagers to dig wells.

Despite dug wells, insufficient rains made farming difficult for the villagers. They harvested whatever rains they received, in streams, through Doha model, thus recharging groundwater and making farming financially sustainable.

Loss-making agriculture

In spite of electricity connections, farmers still had difficulty in irrigation, due to unscheduled power cuts. “This created unnecessary pressure for the farmers, who were already grappling with regular dry spells,” Bhaurav Atapale from Akola Deo village told VillageSquare.in.

About 80% farmers in this hamlet had open wells in their fields. However, with scanty rainfall, the wells did not hold water for long. Droughts such as the one in 2012, made the situation worse.

Permeshwer Bobade recalled cultivating cotton and pigeon pea in the kharif season. “Irrigation was possible only from July to November,” Bobade told VillageSquare.in. Whatever crops he decided to grow in the rabi season was at the mercy of rains, despite having a 60 ft deep dug well in his land. His net returns from agriculture did not exceed Rs 25,000 a year.

Harvesting rainwater

Four years ago, Dilasa Sanstha, a non-profit organization, working to secure livelihoods of farmers by ensuring water availability, implemented Doha, a water harvesting concept in Papal village. The intervention involved digging streambeds, to create pond-like pockets within the streams.

Doha not only facilitates storage of large amount of rainwater in the streams, but also assists in recharging the groundwater. Doha has helped farmers in Papal reap better benefits from agriculture.

Doha intervention has improved water availability, minimising fetching of water from distant sources in bullock carts (Photo by Shashank Deora)

Digging pond-like pockets in streams has helped farmers in Marathwada store rainwater, thus recharging groundwater (Photo by Shashank Deora)

After the implementation of Doha, those who have their agriculture fields near the stream and own a well reported an increase in the water level of their wells. Water level in the wells is sufficient to irrigate till February as against earlier when the wells used to go dry in November or December.

Farmers from three other villages of Jalna district, where Doha model intervention was carried out, reported an increased volume of water available in their wells for irrigating their crops during rabi season.

Villagers in the vicinity of streams with Doha revealed that it has led to a reduction in the number of water tankers bringing potable water, as they now have water in the wells. Assured water availability has helped them enhance their fodder production and thus increasing their livestock.

Improved farm income

Permeshwer Bobade has modified his agricultural crop portfolio. Last year, he utilised only a fraction of his land for the crops he used to cultivate earlier. Except cotton, all crops are now primarily for home consumption. However, in the last two years, he has diversified into growing crops for commercial seed production.

He has also planted mulberry plants to practice sericulture. He now claims earning an annual net income of about Rs 350,000, from agriculture, including sericulture and commercial seed production. With the assured availability of fodder, he and his wife Vimal have bought some goats.

Permeshwer Bobade invests a large portion of his income in his children’s education. “My daughter is studying civil engineering and I want my son to pursue pharmacy so that he can open a medical shop in our area,” he said.

Irrespective of their differing ambitions, all the farmers having their fields near the streams said that Doha has benefited them.

Doha intervention has improved water availability, minimising fetching of water from distant sources in bullock carts (Photo by Shashank Deora)

Doha intervention has improved water availability, minimising fetching of water from distant sources in bullock carts (Photo by Shashank Deora)

Ankush Bobade said that his annual income from agriculture has more than doubled and now he earns about Rs 3,50,000. “My annual income used to be around Rs 20,000,” farmer Dagdubhau Shivsagar told VillageSquare.in. “Now I earn about Rs 110,000.” Other farmers too claimed of an increase in their income from agriculture.

Challenges

There are a few challenges associated with this intervention. One significant challenge is the lack of equity in distribution of water for irrigation. The intervention helps farmers having their agricultural fields near the stream. Farmers away from the stream are not able to reap its benefits, if they do not own a well near the stream.

For the said reason, even those farmers who have their fields near the stream, but do not own a well are unable to receive the irrigation benefits. Also, farmers having their fields upstream do not receive much of the benefits; it is the downstream farmers, close to the stream pockets that retain water post monsoon, who have the maximum benefit.

Way forward

The critical challenge of achieving equity in benefit distribution can be overcome with some regulation over the use of water and by setting it aside for those away from the stream. However, the preliminary requirement for any such provision to work is an understanding among the village community.

The community has to understand that by recharging groundwater, the intervention creates a community asset and not multiple individual assets, and therefore they must manage it collectively. Participatory irrigation management, through a group of farmers who can ensure judicious use of water from wells and can create some means to transport water to the farmers away from the stream may be a solution.

Taking water to the farmers upstream may require more efforts. Streams that have some water harvesting structure at their origin seemed to be more efficient in harvesting and recharging water, compared to those without such a structure.

A shallow pond was the most common harvesting structure. Such a structure will also allow the farmer upstream to reap irrigation benefits. A proposal to include such structures in the design advocates for a watershed approach – catching the water where it falls, from ridge to valley – rather than implementing different water harvesting structures in isolation.

Harvesting water through streams is a low-cost, local alternative to larger water harvesting structures. Implementing with suggested measures will ensure irrigation benefits to all, without any rifts.

Shashank Deora is a researcher at VikasAnvesh Foundation in Pune. 

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Patient’s Aadhaar sought for H1N1 test, govt says it’s not mandatory

Hospital Says Lab May Have Asked For It, Will Look Into Matter

Bengaluru:

A patient with high fever was allegedly asked to produce her Aadhaar card at a Bengaluru hospital in order to get tested for H1N1.

The 78-year-old woman was taken to Bangalore Baptist Hospital on Sunday evening, where staff sought her Aadhaar card to send her throat swab sample for the H1N1 test. According to them, submission of the details was mandated by the government, the woman’s relatives claimed.

While the woman’s daughter submitted other ID cards, the hospital allegedly insisted she produce the patient’s Aadhaar. “The woman was suffering from high fever and her daughter had to go back home to fetch the Aadhaar card. What has her Aadhaar number got to do with her health condition? What’s the point of such absurd rules which cause inconvenience to patients,” asked the woman’s relative.

Dr Sindhuja C, microbiologist at Bangalore Baptist Hospital, said patients have to submit an ID proof and it doesn’t necessarily have to be Aadhaar. “Since May 2018, we have been sending samples to Dr Lal PathLabs on St John’s Road. To make sure that the patient gives an authentic address, the lab may have asked for the ID and we followed the procedure. The objective is not to inconvenience the patient. We will re-examine the issue if it has caused any trouble to the patient,” said Dr Sindhuja.

A total of 1,130 H1N1 cases have been reported in the state since January 2018.

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Maharashtra – 10k farmers face #Aadhaar hurdle to crop insurance payout

₹13 Crore Claims Unpaid In Two Dists By One Co

Mumbai:

As many as 10,322 farmers with crop insurance claims worth Rs 13 crore due from the United India Insurance Company Ltd (UIIC) in two districts have not got a payout for last year so far owing to problems with Aadhaar linkage to their bank accounts. Of these, 9,960 farmers are from Beed district and 362 farmers from Ahmednagar, both of which have been badly affected by this year’s drought.

The details of claims rejected under the ‘Aadhaar-based payment system’ are on the insurance company’s website, urging farmers to provide the required documents to enable settlement. The farmers had either applied online or through the common service centre for the PM’s Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) for the 2017 kharif season. The payments were to be made by the insurance firm directly into farmer bank accounts through direct benefit transfer (DBT).

“Initially, rejected claims amounted to Rs 18 crore in these two districts but we have since paid Rs 5 crore. Around Rs 13 crore is pending. Payments for 30-40 farmers are being cleared daily,” said a spokesperson for UIIC.

Farmers have to enrol for the crop insurance scheme in order to avail of a crop loan. The provision of Aadhaar details is mandatory for the scheme. In case a farmer does not have an Aadhaar card, then the application number is sufficient. In September, the Supreme Court had upheld the use of Aadhaar for government welfare schemes. However, it also said that no one could be denied welfare benefits if Aadhaar authentication failed.

toi

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The argument from cyberspace for eliminating nuclear weapons

At the height of the Cold War in 1982, American psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton argued that the “central existential fact of the nuclear age is vulnerability.” That warning predated the proliferation of computers into almost every aspect of modern life, including nuclear weapons.

Today, the destructiveness of nuclear weapons has been coupled with the vulnerability of computers to create new pathways to disaster.

Specifically, there is now the possibility that hackers could compromise the computers that control nuclear weapons or provide information to officials about impending nuclear attacks.

Weapons security critically flawed

An October 2018 report reinforced this sense of vulnerability. In it, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) described a number of problems commonly found in the modern weapons systems developed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Although the report itself doesn’t say so, officials confirmed that nuclear weapons programs were included in the study.

 A graphic from the GAO report illustrating many of the potential computer systems built into modern weapons systems that could be vulnerable to hackers. U.S. Government Accountability OfficeThe findings of the GAO report echoed earlier warnings of the cyberthreat to nuclear weapons. These included a 2013 DOD report and one by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-governmental nuclear weapon threat reduction organization based in Washington, D.C.

Our research examines the risks associated with nuclear weapons systems, including those of accidental or inadvertent nuclear war. The most pressing concern from the GAO report is the possibility that some of these vulnerabilities might affect “nuclear command and control,” the term used to describe the computer networks that continuously monitor and direct the vast U.S. nuclear arsenal (or Russia).

The recent GAO report broadly criticized all DOD weapons systems. Over the past five years (2012 to 2017), the GAO reported, “DOD testers routinely found mission-critical cyber-vulnerabilities in nearly all weapon systems that were under development. Using relatively simple tools and techniques, testers were able to take control of these systems and largely operate undetected.”

In other words, just about every weapon system being developed by the U.S. military is vulnerable to cyberattack. What stands out are both the scale of the problem and that these problems exist in systems that should be highly protected.

The computerized military

Computers play an outsized role in the U.S. military — from providing information through various sensors to forming the backbone of communications networks. Faster communications and increased access to information are both valuable assets and these goals can be achieved with computers. Computers have become ubiquitous in the military environment as countries demand quick access to information and communications.

But computers also introduce vulnerabilities. As their role grows to include connecting the weapons systems of most advanced countries, so does our vulnerability. The vulnerability of these weapons systems should be seen as an anticipated and, arguably unavoidable, consequence of the computer-filled world we live in.

The GAO report went farther than just identifying vulnerabilities — it identified a culture within the DOD that fails to recognize and adequately address cybersecurity problems. Officials routinely assumed their systems were safe and ignored warnings until very recently.

We have observed a similar overconfidence in the military officials responsible for nuclear command and control.

This is a problem because the command-and-control system relies on complex networks of interconnected computers. These computers connect early warning satellites and radars to the president and will be used to pass on presidential orders to launch nuclear weapons should that fateful decision ever be made.

Computers must also constantly monitor and coordinate the daily operation of U.S. nuclear arsenal. Timelines for decisions in this system are extremely compressed, allowing less than 10 minutes for critical launch decisions to be made. The combination of interactive complexity and the tight timeline is typical of many other technological systems that are susceptible to unpredictable, large-scale accidents.

Computer errors that almost started nuclear wars

Unclassified reports reveal that problems within the computers of nuclear command and control date back to at least the 1970s, when a deficient computer chip signalled that 200 Soviet missiles were headed towards the U.S. Computer problems have persisted: In 2010, a loose circuit card caused a U.S. launch control centre to lose contact with 50 nuclear missiles. In both cases, the accident might have been mistaken for a deliberate attack. Failing to recognize the mistake could have resulted in the U.S. launching nuclear weapons.

 Programming codes. (Markus Spiske/Unsplash)FALThese cases were presumably the result of unintentional errors, not deliberate actions. But hacking and other forms of targeted cyberattacks greatly increase the risk of accidental nuclear launch or other devastating actions. Overconfidence on the part of the officials overseeing the nuclear arsenal is therefore negligent and dangerous.

A more recent compounding factor is the ongoing, roughly trillion-dollar upgrade of the U.S. nuclear arsenal started by the Obama administration. This so-called modernization effort included upgrades to the nuclear command and control system. The Trump administration continues to make this a priority.

Modernization increases the possibility that changes to the nuclear command and control system will introduce new or reveal hitherto unknown vulnerabilities into the system. The evidence from the GAO report and other publicly available documents indicates that the officials in charge will be emphasizing speed, convenience, or cost over cybersecurity.

In its conclusion, the GAO report explained that the DOD “has taken several major steps to improve weapon systems cybersecurity.” But the DOD “faces barriers that may limit its ability to achieve desired improvements,” such as constraints on information sharing and workforce shortages. That is not reassuring.

There is a more basic problem that we have emphasized above: the risks associated with cyberattacks can be ameliorated but not fully eliminated. When this intrinsic risk is integrated with the sheer destructiveness of nuclear weapons, the only way to avoid a catastrophic accident at some point in time is to embrace efforts to abolish the weapons themselves.

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Facebook in the dock for coaxing teenage girls to befriend middle-aged men

Facebook file photo

Facebook is encouraging grooming by offering teenage girls middle-aged men as ‘friend suggestions’

Facebook is encouraging grooming by offering teenage girls middle-aged men as ‘friend suggestions’, the media reported.

Teenage girls, as young as 13-year-olds, who join the social network are given up to 300 suggestions for who they can add as friends, some of which include middle-aged men who are topless in their profile photos, The Telegraph reported late on Saturday, November 10.

Facebook has said that was not a typical experience for teenagers for signing up for the service and that it has safeguards built into its recommendation system.

Following the findings, UK-based charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has called for friend recommendations to be suspended for children on the social networking giant’s platform.

‘Groomers are seeking to infiltrate children’s friendship groups on social networks, often with the intention to move children to live streaming or encrypted sites where it is easier for them to commit sexual abuse,” Andy Burrows, NSPCC Associate Head of Child Safety Online, was quoted as saying.

“Social media algorithms risk making it easier for groomers to find and contact children and ‘friend of friend’ or ‘new follower’ recommendations can add legitimacy to their requests, which is why we are calling for these features to be blocked for children.

“For too long social networks have failed to make their platforms safe for children, and that is why the Home Secretary must commit to strong and effective regulation to finally ensure that children’s safety is non-negotiable,” she said.

In October, Facebook had removed 8.7 million user images of child nudity with the help of previously undisclosed machine learning software that automatically flagged such photos during the last quarter

According to Facebook, the company has safeguards to protect children. However, the campaigners warn that the networking giant must do more to stop groomers who use the site to become friendly with children.

“Grooming is incredibly serious, and we have teams specifically focused on keeping children safe, informed by extensive research and outside experts,” said a spokesman for Facebook, the Daily Mail reported on Saturday, November 10.

“We use artificial intelligence to proactively identify cases of inappropriate interactions with minors and we refer potential abuse to law enforcement.

“We limit how children can be found in search, we remind them to only accept friend requests from people they know and we caution them before making public posts.”

In October, Facebook had removed 8.7 million user images of child nudity with the help of previously undisclosed machine learning software that automatically flagged such photos during the last quarter.

The company has said that it is also considering rolling out systems for spotting child nudity and grooming to Instagram.

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Activists challenge SC order on Aadhaar to make it mandatory for welfare schemes

As members of various campaigns working with vulnerable groups, we were hoping and expecting that the Supreme Court would decisively prohibit the mandatory use of Aadhaar for social benefits. A large body of evidence, provided to the court, shows that the mandatory use of Aadhaar and biometrics for this purpose is leading to large-scale exclusion, new forms of corruption, and extra delays and hardship for people in accessing their entitlements.

 

We are therefore extremely disappointed that the court has upheld the constitutionality of section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, which allows the state to make the use of Aadhaar and biometric authentication mandatory for citizens to receive social benefits.

 

We see the mandatory use of Aadhaar as an example of how the poor are unable to have their voice heard in the policy framework. This imposition has led to extreme distress and even death in many cases. The total numbers of people negatively affected by the mandatory use of Aadhaar runs into the hundreds of thousands and it is therefore not a small issue either in intensity or in numbers.  Aadhaar has also led to many problems in the linking of bank accounts and people’s entitlements going into the wrong accounts.

 

We come together to let it be known that we intend to make Aadhaar an electoral issue. We intend to ask people on the ground who have been the victims of this huge experiment to make it clear during the elections that they will target parties who have thrust the mandatory use of Aadhaar upon them.

 

We intend to go to all political parties with a single agenda on Aadhaar, demanding that the Aadhaar Act be amended so that the mandatory or compulsory use of Aadhaar is clearly prohibited.

 

We announce today a collective campaign, with a demand that all political parties make a categorical committment to amend the Aadhaar Act so that there is no mandatory use of biometric authentication or Aadhaar for social benefits. We strongly believe that people should be allowed multiple forms of identity and authentication in order to be able to access their benefits. We also believe that the best possible way of fighting corruption is through decentralized, open, transparent systems that ensure transparency and accountability of the schemes and implementing agencies to local communities and the people.

 

As has been repeatedly shown, the figures of “savings” due to Aadhaar presented by the government stand no scrutiny. If this system has really stopped “billions of dollars in corruption” as is being claimed, many criminal cases should have been filed, fraudsters should have been prosecuted, and recoveries made. Instead, undistributed entitlements due to exclusion are being passed off as “savings”. We demand accountability and compensation for those who have been excluded due to Aadhaar,including those who have been denied their wages, food or pensions, and had to run around to be able to access their basic entitlements.

 

While we are also very concerned about issues of commercial exploitation of data and surveillance due to Aadhaar,the exclusion problems caused by the mandatory use of Aadhaar amount to an emergency. That is why we call upon people to come together to pressurize all parties to amend the Aadhaar Act immediately, so that the mandatory use of Aadhaar for accessing basic entitlements is completely prohibited.

 

 

Endorsed by:

  1. Kavita Srivastava – Convener, Right to Food Campaign, PUCL
  2. Dipa Sinha – Convener Right to Food Campaign, Ambedkar University of Delhi
  3. Kamayani Keki – Association for India’s Development
  4. R. Baidya – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  5. Aabida Khatoon – Advocate, New Delhi
  6. Abha Bhaiya – Jagori
  7. Abidali Patel – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  8. Aditya Srivastava – Right to Food Campaign
  9. Adsa Fatima – Concerned Citizen, India
  10. Afsar Jafri – Focus on the Global South
  11. Akhay Mukherjee – Durbar Mahila Samanvaya Committee
  12. All India Democratic Women’s Association
  13. Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture
  14. Alphanosa Kumari – Udayani Social Action Forum, Kolkata, Right to Food Campaign West Bengal
  15. Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore
  16. Alwyn D’Souza – Head, Human Rights and Training Unit, Indian Social Institure – Bangalore
  17. Amit Dasgupta – CPIML
  18. Ambarish Rai – Right to Education Forum
  19. Amit Kumar – National Alliance of People’s Movement
  20. Amita Buch – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  21. Amitranjan Basu -Concerned Citizen, India
  22. Amreen Murad – Concerned Citizen, India
  23. Amrita Jain – Alliance for People’s Rights
  24. Amrita Johri – Satark Nagrik Sangathan, NCPRI and Right to Food Campaign
  25. Anand Mazgaonkar – Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti
  26. Anees George – Kerala State Garhika Thozilali Union
  27. Anil Chamadia – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  28. Anjali Acharya – Right to Food Campaign, Madhya Pradesh
  29. Anjali Bapat – Alliance for People’s Rights
  30. Anjali Bhardwaj – Satark Nagrik Sangathan, NCPRI and Right to Food Campaign
  31. Ankur Sarin – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  32. Anna Suraksha Adhikar Abhiyan – (ASAA), Gujarat
  33. Annie Raja – National Federation of Indian Women
  34. Anuja Shah – Alliance for People’s Rights
  35. Anukriti Dixit – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  36. Anumeha Yadav – Concerned Citizen, India
  37. Anup Kumar Srivastava – Social Activist and Legal Aid Counsel, Delhi
  38. Anupama Potluri – Concerned Citizen, India
  39. Anuradha Talwar – Paschim Bnaga Khet Mazdoor Samiti, Right to Food Campaign
  40. Archana Sardar – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  41. Aruna Burte – Concerned Citizen, India
  42. Aruna Roy – Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
  43. Arundhati Dhuru – National Alliance of People’s Movements, Right to Food Campaign, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha
  44. Arundhati V – Member, Federation of Theatre of the Oppressed
  45. Ashish Kothari – Kalpavriksh
  46. Ashok Choudhary – All India of Forest Working People
  47. Astabala Maity – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  48. Aysha – Right to Food Campaign, NREGA Sangharsh Morcha
  49. Babu Mathew, NLSIU
  50. Babulal Naga – Vividha Feature, Jaipur
  51. Bela Adak – Pasudschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  52. Bharat Chintan – Concerned Citizen, India
  53. Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti
  54. Bidyut Mohanty – Right to Food Campaign, Odisha
  55. Biswanath Soren – Udayani Social Action Forum, Kolkata
  56. Bittu Karthik – Karnataka Janashakti
  57. Brinelle D’souza – Concerned Citizen, India
  58. Chakradhar – Libtech, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
  59. Chandrasekhar Bhattacharya – Journalist
  60. Chandrasmita Chowdhury – AIPWA
  61. Charul Bharwada – Loknaad
  62. Chhaya Datar – Concerned Citizen, India
  63. Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG) Chennai
  64. D Thankappan – Kamani Employees Union
  65. Debmalya Nandi – Concerned Citizen
  66. Deepa Sonplal – Unnati
  67. Deepak Yatri – Cultural Artist and concerned citizen, New Delhi
  68. Dev Desai – ANHAD
  69. Devabrat Sharma  – Asom Majoori Shramik Union
  70. Dipankar Bhattacharya – General Secretary, CPIML
  71. Amitabha Basu – New Delhi
  72. Antima – New Delhi
  73. Anupam Saraph – Concerned Citizen
  74. Indu Prakash Singh – Facilitator at CityMakers Mission International, President, Forum Against Corruption & Threats (FACT)
  75. Neetu Sharma – Centre for the Child and the Law, National Law School of India University, Bangalore
  76. Soma KP – Concerned Citizen, India
  77. Sylvia Karpagam – Public Health Doctor and Researcher, Bangalore, Right to Food Campaign
  78. Vandana Prasad – Concerned Citizen
  79. V.N.Sharma – Concerned Citizen, India
  80. Dunu Roy – Hazards Centre
  81. Dyuti – Concerned Citizen, India
  82. Elizabeth – Nari Shakti Manch
  83. Elizabeth Sangita Paul – Udayani Social Action Forum, Kolkata
  84. Fahimuddin – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  85. Jothi SJ – Udayani Social Action Forum, Kolkata, Right to Food Campaign
  86. Pascal xalxo – HLDRC, West Bengal
  87. Garment and Fashion Workers Union – NTUI
  88. Gautam Mody – New Trade Union Initiative
  89. Ghulam Nabi Azad – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  90. Girish Ashtekar – Siemens Workers Union
  91. Goldy M George – Concerned Citizen, India
  92. Gopal Barman – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  93. Hardeep Singh – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  94. Himshi Singh – National Alliance of People’s Movements
  95. Imrana Qadeer – CSD
  96. Jacintha Kumarswamy – Concerned Citizen, India
  97. Jaisree Kumar – Concerned Citizen, Kerala
  98. Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan – Bihar
  99. Janchetna Sansthan
  100. Janvi Andharia – Concerned Citizen, Noida
  101. Javed – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  102. Jayati Ghosh – Concerned Citizen, India
  103. Jean Dreze – Activist
  104. Jeevika Shiv – Anna Suraksha Adhikar Abhiyan, Gujarat
  105. Jharna Pathak – Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group, Gujarat
  106. Joykumar Wahengbam – Concerned Citizen, India
  107. Joynur Bibi – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  108. Joyraj Bhattacharya – Theatre Activist
  109. Kabi Cuddy Facilitator, CityMakers Mission International President, Forum Against Corruption & Threats (FACT) Devatwa
  110. Kakali Bhattacharya – SWAYAM
  111. Kamayani Bali Mahabal – Feminist and Human Righst Activist
  112. Kanai Halder – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  113. Karuna DW – Concerned Citizen, India
  114. Karuna Sengupta – PBMS
  115. Kavita Gupta – Concerned Citizen, India
  116. Kavita Krishnan – AIPWA
  117. Khadija Khatun – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  118. Khairun Nisha – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  119. Khusilal Sardar – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  120. Kinnari Pandya – Alliance for People’s Rights
  121. Kiran Shaheen – Concerned Citizen, India
  122. Koninika Ray – National Federation of Indian Women
  123. Krishna Bansal – Alliance for People’s Rights
  124. Kumar Rana – Pratichi Trust
  125. Lakshmi Krishnamurty – Concerned Citizen, India
  126. Lata Singh – Concerned Citizen, India
  127. Linda Chhakchhuak – Concerned Citizen, India
  128. M Sreekumar – Kerala State and Cleaning Destination Workers Union
  129. M Subbu – Tamil Manila Kattida Thozhilalargal Sangam
  130. Sharif Desai – Mahar Credit & Supply Co. Op. Society Ltd.
  131. Madhavi Yennapu – Concerned Citizen, India
  132. MADHU BHUSHAN – Concerned Citizen, India
  133. Madhuresh – National Convener, National Alliance of People’s Movements
  134. MAGP GUJARAT Pankti Jog
  135. Maherunnisa Desai – AMWA
  136. Malay Tiwari – CPIML
  137. Mamta Singh – Humsafar, Uttar Pradesh, Right to Food Campaign
  138. Manas Das – Asom Majoori Shramik Union
  139. Manasi Pingle – Concerned Citizen, India
  140. Manjula Pradeep – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  141. Manoj Kumar Singh – Journalist, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh
  142. Manshi Asher – Concerned Citizen, India
  143. Mariam Dhawale – General Secretary, AIDWA
  144. Mayuri – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  145. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan – Rajasthan
  146. Meena – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  147. Meera Sanghamitra – Concerned Citizen, India
  148. Mehnaz – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  149. Milan Dutta – Journalist
  150. Mini Mathew – Concerned Citizen, India
  151. Mira Shiva – Concerned Citizen, India
  152. Mitraranjan – Right to Education Forum
  153. Mohammad Shafi Khan – Jammu & Kashmir Trade Union Centre
  154. Mohan Lal – KSEB Karar Thozilali Federation
  155. Mohini – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  156. Molina Pramanik – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  157. Mridula Bajaj – Alliance for People’s Rights
  158. Mudita Vidrohi – Gujarat Lok Samiti
  159. N Vasudvan – Blue Star Workers Union
  160. Nabanita Mukherjee – Sahoman
  161. Nachiket Udupa – Concerned Citizen, India
  162. Nadeem – All India People’s Forum
  163. Namita Halder – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  164. Namita Mandal – TUCC
  165. National Alliance of People’s Movements
  166. National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights
  167. National Campaign for Protection of Right to Information
  168. National Federation of Indian Women
  169. Neeta Hardikar – Anna Suraksha Adhikar Abhiyan, Gujarat
  170. Neha Shah – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  171. Nikhil Dey – Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
  172. Nimmi Chauhan – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  173. Nirjhari Sinha – Chair, Jan Sangharsh Manch, Gujarat
  174. Nisha – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  175. Nisha Biswas – Concerned Citizen, India
  176. Nita Mahadev – Gujarat Loksamiti
  177. Nityanand Jayaraman, Chennai Solidarity Group
  178. NREGA Sangharsh Morcha
  179. Om Prakash Singh – Concerned Citizen, India
  180. Om Prakash – Concerned Citizen, India
  181. Pabitra  kr Mandal – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  182. Padma Velaskar – Concerned Citizen, India
  183. Pallav Bhattacharya – Advocate Consultant
  184. Pallavi Sobti Rajpal – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  185. Paromita Dasgupta – PBMS
  186. Paromita Dutta – Udayani Social Action Forum, Kolkata
  187. Parveen – Concerned Citizen
  188. Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity
  189. Paul Lakra – HLDRC, West Bengal
  190. Penn Thozhilalargal Sangam – Garment and Fashion Workers Union, Chennai
  191. Pension Parishad
  192. Pradip Pradhan – Concerned Citizen, India
  193. Pradip Roy – TUCC
  194. Prafulla Samantara – An Activist
  195. Pragnya Senior Research Associate Technical Support Unit ANANDI- Area Networking and Development Initiatives
  196. Praavita Kashyap – Rethink Aadhaar
  197. Prathibha Sivasubramanian – Concerned Citizen, India
  198. Pratibha R – Garments and Textile Workers Union
  199. Priyangee Guha – Concerned Citizen, India
  200. Priyanka Samy – People’s Budget Initiative, New Delhi
  201. Provita Kundu – Alliance for People’s Rights
  202. Punit Minz – Concerned Citizen, India
  203. Rabindranath chakrabarty – TUCC
  204. Radha Holla Bhar – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  205. Radhika Ganesh – Ek Potli Ret Ki
  206. Rajalakshmi Sriram – Department of Human Development and Family Studies, M.S. University of Baroda
  207. Rajendran Narayanan – Azim Premji University, Bangalore
  208. Rajendra Singh – Concerned Citizen, Uttar Pradesh
  209. Rajkishore Mishra – Right to Food Campaign, Odisha
  210. Rama Debnath – Durbar Mahila Samanvaya Committee
  211. Ranjit Sur – APDR
  212. Ranu Jain – Concerned Citizen, India
  213. Ratnaboli Ray – Anjali Organisation
  214. Ravindra Patwal – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  215. Reetika Khera – Rethink Aadhaar
  216. Rethink Aadhaar
  217. Right to Food Campaign – Bihar
  218. Right to Food Campaign – Chhattisgarh
  219. Right to Food Campaign – Karnataka
  220. Right to Food Campaign, Madhya Pradesh
  221. Rita Banerjee – 50 Million Missing
  222. Ritu Dewan – Concerned Citizen, India
  223. Rohit Prajapati, Activist, Researcher and Writer
  224. Roma – All India of Forest Working Peoplel
  225. Rosamma Thomas – Journalist
  226. Roseina – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  227. Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan – Uttar Pradesh
  228. Q. Masood – Centre for Peace Studies
  229. Sachin Jain – Right to Food Campaign, Madhya Pradesh
  230. Sadhna Arya – Concerned Citizen, India
  231. Sagar Besra – Jharkhand Krantikari Mazdoor Union
  232. SAHAYOG
  233. Sahiyar Stree Sangathan
  234. Samar Bagchi – Concerned Citizen, India
  235. Samim Ahmed – Writer
  236. Samir – Right to Food Campaign, Chhattisgarh
  237. Sandip Singha – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  238. Sandipan Paul – Alliance for People’s Rights
  239. Sangram Mandal – Sahamon
  240. Sarita Kumari – Sashaktnari blogspot
  241. Sarojini N – Concerned Citizen, India
  242. Savitri Ray – Alliance for People’s Right
  243. Sejal Dand – Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch, Gujarat, Right to Food Campaign
  244. Sejal Dave – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  245. Shabnam Hashmi – Social activist
  246. Shakun D – Concerned Citizen, India
  247. Shakun Doundiyakhed – Concerned Citizen, India
  248. Sharada Gopal – Right to Food Campaign, Karnataka
  249. Sharik Laliwala – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  250. Shashi Patwal – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  251. Shishir Dhavle – Sarva Shramik Sangh
  252. Shobha R – Concerned Citizen, India
  253. Shreya Sen – NAZDEEK
  254. Shumona Goel – Concerned Citizen, India
  255. Shyamasree Das – PBMS
  256. Siraj Dutta – Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand
  257. Smita Pandya – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  258. Snehal Shah – Concerned Citizen, India
  259. Somnath Baskey – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  260. Sophia Khan – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  261. Soumi Jana – Right to Food Campaign, West Bengal
  262. Srinivas Kodali – Concerned Citizen, India
  263. Stan Swami – An activist, Jharkhand
  264. Subhash Gurav – Sakhar Kamgar Union
  265. Suchitra Halder – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  266. Sudarshana Chakraborty – Journalist
  267. Sudeshna Dutta – Sohoman
  268. Sudeshnasen Gupta – Individual Researcher, New Delhi
  269. Sudha Arora – Concerned Citizen, India
  270. Sudhansu Chakrabarty – Durbar Mahila Samanvaya Committee
  271. Sudhir Vombatkere – Concerned Citizen, India
  272. Sujata Chiti – Udayani Social Action Forum, Kolkata
  273. Sujata Mody – Garments and Fashion Workers Union
  274. Sukla Sen – Peace Activist, Mumbai
  275. Suman Sengupta – Sahoman
  276. Sumitra Mishra – Alliance for People’s Right
  277. Sunetra Deshpande – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  278. Sunita Singh – Right to Food Campaign, Uttar Pradesh
  279. Surabhi Vaya – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  280. Suresh – Viklang Andolan, Rajasthan
  281. Sushila – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  282. Sushila – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  283. Sushma – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  284. Sushovan Chaudhuri – Marcom Consultant
  285. Swapan Halder – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  286. Swapna – APDR
  287. Swapna Naiya – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  288. Swarna Rajagopalan – The Prajnya Trust, Chennai
  289. Swati Narayan – Right to Food Campaign
  290. Tanushree Gangopadhyay – Concerned Citizen, Gujarat
  291. Tara Dey – PBMS
  292. Tarun Bharatiya, Thma U Rangli Juki (Meghalaya) – Workers power of Meghalaya
  293. Tarun Bhartiya – Concerned Citizen, India
  294. Tultul Biswas – Concerned Citizen, India
  295. Tushar Chakraborty – Scientist
  296. Ujwala Kadrekar – Concerned Citizen, India
  297. Ulka Mahajan – Sarvhara Jan Andolan, Maharashtra
  298. Uma Chandru – Concerned Citizen, India
  299. Uma Maane – Kshitij Organisation
  300. Uma –National Alliance of People’s Movements
  301. Umesh Babu – Concerned Citizen, New Delhi
  302. Uttam Gayen – Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity
  303. Vandana Kulkarni – Concerned Citizen, India
  304. Vandana Kulkarni – Concerned Citizen, India
  305. Vandana Mahajan – Concerned Citizen, India
  306. Vani Subramanian – Concerned Citizen, India
  307. Vijay Mandal – Concerned Citizen, India
  308. Vikalp (Women’s Group) – Vadodara
  309. Vinay Baindur – Concerned Citizen, India
  310. Vinay Mahajan – Loknaad
  311. Vinay Sreenivasa – Concerned Citizen, India
  312. Vinayak Pawar – Concerned Citizen,  Mumbai
  313. vindhyala jaya – PUCL
  314. Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli
  315. Zakia Soman – Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan
  316. Zakiya Kurrien – Alliance for People’s Rights

 

 

Steering Committee of the Right to Food Campaign:

National Networks: Kavita Srivastava and Dipa Sinha (Conveners – Steering Committee), Annie Raja and Koninika Ray (National Federation for Indian Women), Harini and Olivia (Human Right Law Network), Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Anjali Bhardwaj, (National Campaign for People’s Right)

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More than 40 petitions and 1000 individual affidavits against Bullet Train Project

A 2016 photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe posing in front of a Shinkansen bullet train in  Tokyo.

A 2016 photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe posing in front of a Shinkansen bullet train in Tokyo.(Photo: Reuters)

Not a Hectare of Land Acquired in Gujarat for Bullet Train Project

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s project ‘Statue of Unity’ – the world’s tallest statue honouring Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – was completed within 33 months. The same cannot be said about the Prime Minister’s pet project, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor, which has run into several roadblocks.

The project is moving at snail’s pace thanks to dozens of petitions and at least 1,000 individual affidavits filed by farmers in the Gujarat High Court. Although the land acquisition process began in November 2017, the bullet train project was hit by a bevy of petitions by October this year.

Of the total 1,784 hectares of land needed, only 0.9 hectares has been acquired for the bullet train terminus at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai. Despite the delay, the Gujarat government and the Centre are positive that the acquisition process will be concluded by December.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said on 25 October that despite the delay, the project may be completed before deadline due to developments in the engineering sector.

It is scheduled to be completed by 2023.

“The land acquisition procedure for the first bullet train project (Mumbai-Ahmedabad) will be over by December this year. We are taking more time because we engage land owners and hold dialogue for acquisition. We want to take them into confidence.”
Piyush Goyal, Union Railway Minister

Still, at the current rate of progress, it seems unlikely that the land can be acquired in two months.

Also Read : Indian Govt Signs Loan Agreement With JICA For Bullet Train Funds

Quick Facts

  1. Distance: 508.17 km – 155.76 km in Maharashtra and 348.04 km in Gujarat.
  2. Costing: Rs 1.1 lakh crore – Rs 88,000 crore loaned by Japan at 0.1 percent interest.
  3. 1,434 hectares of land to be acquired from 298 villages in Gujarat, 350 hectares to be acquired from 104 villages in Maharashtra.
  4. 1,120 hectares of land to be acquired is privately-owned.
  5. 6,000 landowners will be compensated for the project.

Petitions Against the Project

About 40 new petitions have been filed by farmers in the Gujarat High Court till October this year. “40 petitions have been filed by affected farmers, and the Gujarat Khedut Samaj intends to file 200 petitions by the weekend, covering more than 150 affected villages,” said Anand Yagnik, the lawyer representing the farmers.

He said the petitioners hailed from Surat, Valsad and Navsari districts of South Gujarat. Earlier, 1,000 farmers had submitted individual affidavits in the HC against the land acquisition process.

In their petitions, the farmers have said that since the project extends to more than one state – Gujarat and Maharashtra – the Centre is the “appropriate government” to acquire the land for it. Another contention is that the market value of the land has not been revised, as required under Section 26 of the Land Acquisition Act. The petitioners have also challenged the Gujarat Amendment Act 2016, which tweaked the Land Acquisition law of 2013.

“It (the Gujarat Amendment Act 2016) gives unbridled and unfettered powers to the state government to exempt any project in public interest from social impact assessment (SIA),” said Jayesh Patel, President of Gujarat Khedut Samaj.

Also Read : 1,000 Farmers Oppose Bullet Train, Put Affidavits In Gujarat HC

Centre Gives Acquisition Powers to State

On 18 October, the Centre submitted an affidavit-in-reply before the Gujarat HC along with a railway ministry notification, dated 8 October 2018.

The notification – issued under Article 258(1) of the Constitution – said the acquisition that is to be carried out by the central government has now been delegated to the state government. Moreover, the notification has been accorded retrospective effect, which validates all the actions and decisions issued by the Gujarat government before 8 October 2018.

Yagnik, however, believes that the notification giving acquisition powers to the state government only proves the farmers’ point that decisions were for the Centre to take.

“The delegation in the form of notification is nothing but an admission on part of the respondent that the Central government is the appropriate government, and not the state government,” Yagnik said.

Farmers Approach JICA

The Gujarat Khedut Samaj, the farmers’ society, has asked the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japanese Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu, to schedule a meeting with the farmers and their representatives.

They have requested JICA to withhold the release of any funds for the project, citing violation of several JICA guidelines. Some of these guidelines include conducting social and environment impact assessments of the project, which have not been conducted.

On October 15, Katsuo Matsumoto, JICA’s Chief Representative in India, responded to the farmers and said a meeting will be scheduled at a mutually convenient date and time.

Patel said that the decision to meet JICA official will be decided after Diwali.

“The matter is sub-judice in court and will be heard immediately after Diwali holidays. Once the matter is heard and an order is passed, we will immediately move on to meet JICA officials in New Delhi.”
Jayesh Patel, President of Gujarat Khedut Samaj

JICA has already agreed to provide an Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan of around Rs 5,500 crore (89,547 million Japanese Yen) as Tranche 1 for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project.

The National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) is gearing up to float more than 20 tenders for the bullet train project by January next year, sources in the railway ministry said. The tenders amounting to Rs 88,000 crore will be for coaches, infrastructure, signalling, technology, among others, the source added.

(With inputs from PTI)

https://www.thequint.com/news/india/modi-bullet-train-project-land-acquisition-deadline

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