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Press Release- Modi’s Gujarat Govt and Manmohan’s Central Govt should stop fooling people

PRESS RELEASE

DATE: 31 March 2014

  • Modi’s Gujarat Government and Manmohan’s Central Government should stop fooling people: Garudeshwar Weir-Dam affected tribals, ‘70 Gam Adivasi Sangathan’, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan), Radical Socialist, Sahaj-Shishu Milap, Jyoti Karmachari Mandal, Vyavasaik Swasthya Suraksha Mandal and Vadodara Kamdar Union.

On April 1, between 5.00 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. Garudeshwar Weir-Dam affected tribals of ‘70 Gam Adivasi Sangathan’ struggling for their right to life, right to water, land, jungle, rivers and livelihood will demonstrate at Bhagat Singh statue, Nyayamandir, Vadodara and seek answers from Mr. Modi and Mr. Manmohan.

These are not just tribal issues, but concern each one of us. Gujarat Government is building the Garudeshwar Weir–Dam illegally spending taxpayers’ money, while the Central Government watches silently.

12 kms downstream of Sardar Sarovar Dam, near Garudeshwar, Gujarat government is illegally constructing 31.75 meter high Weir-Dam that will displace 11,000 tribals from 11 villages.

The Garudeshwar Dam-weir construction by Gujarat Government is ILLEGAL BECAUSE

Ø      Gujarat government has not taken any environmental clearance for the construction nor carried out any public hearing as per the law.

Ø      It has not sought the permission of the Gram Sabha for the construction as per the law. It persisted with the construction despite protests by Gram Panchayats and locals.

Ø      It never took people into confidence about the impact of the Weir-Dam, how many will be affected and rehabilitation measures.

Ø      This Weir-Dam water will be stored around ‘Statue of Unity’ and to develop tourism at the spot, with proposed boating, water sports and five star hotel amenities.

Ø      The dam waters of Sardar Sarovar and Karajan have not benefited the tribals living in their vicinity for their irrigation needs.

Ø      Gujarat Government has not studied the possible impact of constructing a Weir-Dam and Statue of Unity on a geological fault line on environment and life around. And if it has carried out an impact study, it refuses to make it public.

Despite repeated demands, Gujarat Government has not shared the environment clearance – permission to construct the Weir-Dam, if it had acquired one. Neither the central government stopped the work or replied to letters nor were there any answers to people’s questions. As a result PSS and representatives from the affected villages had to petition against the government at the National Green Tribunal (NGT) – Application No.10/2013 (WZ).

Gujarat government could not submit the environmental clearance even at NGT. On 31 January 2014 after Gujarat Government sought four week duration to submit the clearance letter, NGT directed it to submit on February 25. The NGT in its January 31 order also said: “We deem it proper to grant three (3) weeks time to Respondent No. 1 to file reply affidavit and make it clear that in the meanwhile if any work is done, it will be subject to final outcome of the present Application, without claiming any right of equity arising out of execution of construction work and without pleadings in advance of any ‘fait Accompli’. Stand over to 25th February, 2014.” After Gujarat government failed to submit compliance letter on February 25, it again sought two month’s time. The NGT order now allows Gujarat Government to submit its reply on April 17. Gujarat Government also violated spirit of NGT orders and continues Weir-Dam construction.

The lack of categorical reply in court reflects that there is no substance to the hyped perception of Mr. Modi’s efficient Government of Gujarat. To file reply with crucial information about environment clearance and issues raised by us in our petition Government of Gujarat needs two months time. That clearly indicates that even prima-facie all is not well with Garudeshwar Weir and the legality of the on going construction of Garudeshwar Weir is in question.

Let us support the tribals’ struggle against the Weir-Dam construction. Let us categorically ask Gujarat Government to stop Weir-Dam construction immediately.

Representatives of ‘70 Gam Adivasi Sangathan’ will brief about their plight in an interactive session with media from 3.30 pm – 4.30 pm at Bhumiputra office, Hujarat Paga, Bhutadi Jhampa.

Did you know?

Are teachers, principals, students and all the rest of Barodians aware that the Chief Minister laid the foundation stone for Statue of Unity without getting lawful environmental clearance?

That many women in this region had their maternal homes submerged during Sardar Sarovar construction and now their marital homes are at submergence risk due to Garudeshwar Weir-Dam meant for tourism?

Gujarat Government is busily promoting, publicizing the Rs 2500 core worth 182 meter high Statue of Unity while 75,000 tribals life and livelihood will be affected due to tourism project around Statue of Unity.

The tribals were forced to sacrifice earlier in the name of national interest, the parched Surashtra-Kutch lands during Sardar Sarovar construction and now once again labeling tourism as national interest, tribals are once yet again forced at the sacrificial altar. Presently the SSP reservoir waters at the present 122 meters height are not being even fully used as the several CAG reports have pointed because Gujarat Government failed to build the canal network. 

Gujarat government has not taken the woes of this 75,000 people seriously. Should we also similarly turn blind to their plight?

  • Red Carpet for industries and Red Polluted waters for farms and animals!
  • Clean drinking water a mirage for many, while waters unleashed for tourism projects!
  • We are now experiencing in a single day summer, winter and monsoon having interfered with the Nature.
  • We cannot have affordable food grains, vegetables by finishing off farming.

 

Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti      Radical Socialist     Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)

Jyoti Karmachari Mandal                         Vadodra Kamadar Union

Vyavasaik Swasthya Suraksha Mandal         Sahaj-Shishu Milap

 

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Gurudas Dasgupta letter to the PM on the premature transfer of the DGH


Dear Dr Manmohan Singh ji,
It has come to my notice that the DGH, Shri R N Choubey, has been transferred prematurely and put on compulsory wait, on the recommendation of the Petroleum Minister by you. I had raised this issue in my letter dated 4/10/2013, wherein I had voiced the apprehension that a sinister move was afoot to replace Mr Choubey with a pliable person since he had taken an independent view in the matter of relinquishment and arbitration in the KG-D6 block and had refu

sed to tow the line of the Petroleum Minister and RIL. My apprehensions have been confirmed by the premature transfer of Mr Choubey.
More documents relating to the dubious orders of the Petroleum Minister in the matter of relinquishment and its opposition by the DGH have come to light. Based on the report of the DGH to relinquish an area of 6497 sq km, the Joint Secretary ( Exploration) and the Petroleum Secretary made a clear recommendation that relinquishment of this area be done. The Petroleum Secretary’s note dated 30/8/2013 ( enclosed herewith) categorically states that:
The contractor has not been willing to undertake DST ( till May 2013) well after expiry of timelines. Keeping in view the facts of the case the area of 6496.88 sq km be excluded from the contract area of 7645 sq km with immediate effect. This area may be repackaged and proposed for auction under NELP X”
To this note the Petroleum Minister ordered on 7/9/2013 that a presentation be made before him by RIL since “this is a complex issue wherein lot of intricate interpretations of the PSC are involved.” After the presentation was made by RIL the file was again submitted by the officials without any change in their proposal. The Petroleum Minister passed a detailed order on 9/10/2013 in which he rejected the proposal of relinquishment in respect of D29, D30 and D31 discoveries which have reserves of 345 bcf valued at $2.9 billion ( Rs.18,000 crore)on the ground that “there has been a delay on part of the DGH in reviewing the Declaration of Commerciality and taking a categorical stand that the Contractor must conduct DST”. How the Minister has come to such a conclusion, when all his senior officials have opined that delay is only on part of RIL, is of course not difficult to surmise!
Before the relinquishment order was issued ( for the other discoveries) the Petroleum Secretary again asked the DGH to vet the order. The DGH recorded his views on 28/10/2013 stating that:
“As far as the discoveries D29, D30, D31 are concerned the DGH views are well documented to the effect that the Contractor has carried out only MDT, which does not measure the flow at the surface which is a contractual requirement.”
Not only did Shri Choubey record his views before the arbitrary decision was taken by the Minister, he also reiterated it after the decision. Needless to add, the Petroleum Minister fears that with such independent minded bureaucrats he will be exposed in his attempt to favour Reliance.
I would also like to bring out one more recent instance ( in addition to the earlier ones) wherein Shri Choubey had taken a view different from the Petroleum Minister. You are aware that the Kelkar Committee constituted by the Petroleum Minister has given a recommendation for continuation of the PSC model for the oil exploration and production contracts. This is at complete variance with the recommendations of the CAG and also the Rangarajan Committee which have both recommended a tax royalty regime. Shri Choubey, who was the member secretary to the Kelkar committee, gave a strong dissent note to this recommendation. I am enclosing the dissent note for your perusal. The relevant portion is quoted below:
” It is thus clear that it is not within the mandate of the committee to give its recommendations about the appropriate E&P contract because that work has already been done by the Rangarajan Committee after a very elaborate exercise involving all the stakeholders.
……. ……… ……. ……….. …………… . …………… ………….
Many of the data, graphs and analyses and conclusions in chapter 2 have been simply presented as findings without the writer indicating the source or methodology, nor have they been discussed.
………………. ……………. ……………….. ……………………….. ……………….
Under the circumstances I dissociate myself from the whole chapter 2 of the report.”
It should be noted that the member secretary, who is also the technical arm of the Ministry, has given a categorical dissent that the Kelkar Committee has exceeded its brief. I would again remind you that I had raised this issue in my letter dated 10/6/2013, wherein I had stated that Kelkar Committee was a mere eyewash to carry out the bidding of the Petroleum Minister. And when an upright senior bureaucrat has refused to be bulldozed by the unscrupulous Minister, he has been unceremoniously removed. In fact to add insult to injury, he has been put on compulsory wait and has not been given any posting. This corrupt government is trying to intimidate honest officers, who have the courage to stand by their convictions, by these crude tactics.
I would like to remind you that Shri Choubey was appointed for a three year term in June 2012 by you on the recommendation of the previous Petroleum Minister. The DGH is handling all the critical issues in the Reliance matter, including the Arbitration and disallowance of $ 2.5 billion dollars of cost recovery due to shortfall in production. Transferring an upright officer and replacing him with a pliable one, is another attempt of the Petroleum Minister to dole out largesse to Reliance. This premature transfer is also against the various Supreme Court orders which have advocated tenures for bureaucrats and come down heavily on arbitrary transfers. I would also like to remind you that the Supreme Court ordered the reversal of transfers of officers in the Coalgate scandal. In such circumstances I would earnestly request you to keep the transfer of Shri Choubey as the DGH in abeyance and allow him to complete his tenure.
With kind regards,

(Gurudas Dasgupta)

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PRESS RELEASE – CNDP Statement against move to inaugurate the ill-conceived Nuclear Plant in Haryana

English: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the ...

English: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Opening Plenary – Resillient india: 25 years of Economic and Social Progress. Participants captured during the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit 2009 held in New Delhi, 8-10 November 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Statement Against PM’s move to inaugurate the ill-conceived Nuclear Plant in Haryana

 
After terming the Indo-US nuclear deal his “greatest achievement”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is going to Fatehabad, Haryana on 13th January to lay the foundation stone for the Gorakhpur Nuclear Power Project. Just 150 kms from New Delhi, this project is an invitation to disaster as it critically depends on a canal for cooling-water supply; canals can fail or dry up.

The plant will steal precious water from Haryana’s farmers and deprive more than 1 lakh acres of land of irrigation. The available quantity of water will be insufficient in case of an accident.

It is shocking that India is making a mockery of all post-Fukushima lessons and embarking on an insane nuclear expansion drive, while the whole world is turning away from nuclear power and embracing sustainable energy.

The Gorakhpur nuclear project would doom the agrarian-based local economy, displacing and dispossessing many times more people than the jobs it would ever generate. Independent experts have also raised questions like serious threats to wildlife and environmental destruction.

Gorakhpur’s people are being subject to unreasonable risks and hazards from the Nuclear Power Corporation’s plan to set up 700 MW reactors, India’s biggest, with whose design and operation NPC has no experience, and that too without adequate supply of water.

Haryana farmers have protested strongly against the project for more than four years. The agitation forced government officers to flee from a farcical environmental public hearing organised in 2012. A majority of the area’s people staunchly oppose the project. But the government has acquired land from a handful of farmers using both the stick and the carrot.

We urge that the PM should restrain from inaugurating the Gorakhpur nuclear project and immediately organise wider consultations with the local community, civil society groups and independent experts. These must address the issue of the Environmental Impact Assessment process, which has been turned into a mockery by ignoring and suppressing the crucial issue of radiation impacts. We strongly such misadventure by a lame-duck outgoing prime Minister.

The government must resolve all these vital questions, including adequacy and reliability of cooling-water supply, before even thinking of laying the foundation stone of the plant.

For CNDP

Praful Bidwai
Lalita Ramdas
Achin Vanaik
Abey George
Kumar Sundaram
Jan  11, 2014

 

 

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BREAKING – India PM , Manmohan To Go To CHOGM In Disguise!

Manmohan To Go To CHOGM In Disguise! – A Satire

By Satya Sagar

10 November, 2013
Countercurrents.org

Countercurrents has in its possession a letter from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse explaining why he is not going to attend the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Dear President Mahindar Singh Rajapakse

I hope you don’t mind me calling you Mahindar in an endearing manner like a good Punjabi instead of calling you Mahinda! I know you are pissed off with me for not coming to your CHOGM coronation bash next week. But yaar, what to do, these Dravidian fellows got together and spiked my trip.

I mean all the Dravidians, even from my own Congress Party and not just that poet with dark glasses or that Iron Lady in a Steel Saree. Even my IMF colleague

Chidambaram, a fellow who really admires the way you guys killed so many civilians to get so few terrorists, turned against my visit.

I really wanted to come and tried very hard too but this time nothing worked. For example I offered the poet and his relatives a cut in the the 4 G telecom deal (last time they made millions in the 2 G scam), waiver on customs duty on import of equipment for his TV channels and half the cabinet seats if we win the next elections but fellow didn’t budge!

The poet said ‘if you go to Colombo this time we are all sunk in the next election so there won’t be any telecom deal, TV channels or cabinet berths anyway’. And my own partymen from Dravidistan told me they will not only lose their deposits in the next polls but a few limbs too, if we don’t pay attention to the mood of the people in the state.

My foreign ministry guys (who as you know, also look after your foreign policy interests) initially said I can go to Colombo through Jaffna, especially since this new Chief Minister guy Wig.. whatever his name is.. sent me an invitation. I thought that was a good idea but somebody pointed out it would mean acknowledging there were two capitals on your tiny island, so I dropped the idea like a hot tandoori potato. Tell me what is this Wig.. whatever.. all about? I thought he was one of us but seems to be a tricky fellow!

I am sending in my place my Foreign Minister (who as you know, is also your Foreign Minister), a chap called Salman… not Khan…but Khurshid. I have a special request – please, please treat my guy well.

I know your goons (and I don’t mean good old Goonatilake and Goonaratne of course) have been bashing up Muslims in your country for the last couple of years but my man, he really likes a good single malt after every bad policy decision he makes. Thinking of it, Salman likes a few before he screws up too. Never mind, he is the closest to royalty we have in our cabinet, so be nice to him.

You know, this entire trip of mine to CHOGM would not have been a problem at all if not for those wicked fellows at Channel 4. Especially, that Callum Macbook something, who collected evidence of all the war crimes we helped you commit and cover up back in 2009.

Did you know, this character had the audacity to try and sneak into India by applying for a journalist visa? The cheeky fellow! Our High Commission in London told him bluntly that you can offend Manmohanji and still get a visa but if you get into the wrong books of Mahindarji there is no redemption. But I heard that you have allowed him to come to Colombo for CHOGM… a bit embarassing for me but its OK, you are the Boss!

By the way, have you – at least now- ordered your soldiers and silly generals to switch off their mobiles while killing or torturing your Tamil population? Shows poor training among your chaps- taking videos while murdering people- you should do one or the other, not both at the same time.

By the way, there is a suggestion that I should turn up at CHOGM in disguise, maybe dressed as a turbaned waiter or a doorman at the event. You see, I have a lot of experience with opening doors. For example I opened up the entire Indian economy to the global financial mafia, so playing that role will be a cakewalk for me.

Let me tell you a secret now and don’t let this out on You Tube or Twitter for God’s sake! I think I will actually make it to your Summit. Watch out for a blue turbaned guy who will wink at you as you pass by the entrance to the CHOGM meeting hall- that will be me!!

Yours truly
Manmohan Singh

PM of India
(20 years and still under IMF guidance)

Satya Sagar is a journalist and public health worker based in Santiniketan, West Bengal. He can be reached [email protected]

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#India — Manmohan Singh to skip CHOGM #goodnews

Khurshid to head Indian delegation at CHOGM Summit

 

English: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the ...

English: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Opening Plenary – Resillient india: 25 years of Economic and Social Progress. Participants captured during the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit 2009 held in New Delhi, 8-10 November 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will head the Indian delegation at the CHOGM Summit to be held in Sri Lanka next week with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deciding against undertaking the visit in view of the opposition by parties in Tamil Nadu as well as a section in Congress.

The decision on level of Indian representation and Singh skipping the meet will be communicated to the Lankan government by Sunday, sources said.

“The Prime Minister is likely to write to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Sunday regarding his decision,” government sources said. – PTI

 

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PRESS RELEASE- NAPM urges PM not to attend CHOGM in Sri Lanka

English: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the ...

 

 

New Delhi / Chennai, November 6: We are disturbed that the Indian position regarding participation in the CHOGM in Colombo November 15-17,2013 is still quite unclear. There has been a strong demand to boycott the conference because of the rampant human rights violations in the last phase of the civil war and since then, continuation of army occupation, land alienation and continuous rape in the Tamil homelands. The Indian finance minister, Mr. Chidambaram, (who as home minister had a strong desire to bombard adivasi villages in Bastar) has been advocating participation for “international considerations” like good neighbourly relationships and competition regarding spheres of influence between China and India. He even played the card that the conflicts of Indian fishermen harassed by the Sri Lankan army, could only be resolved by dialogue. Such dialogue need to be brought about between the respective fishing communities in the first place and this is desirable, but it does not require participation in the CHOGM to fructify.

 

The consideration that if Mr. Vigneshwaran, the new Chief Minister of Jaffna, belonging to the TNA, can attend the opening function, why not the Indian Prime Minister, holds no water. Mr. Vigneshwaran has taken the plunge into electoral politics for the very same reasons, which are at the heart of the demands of the people who want the boycott of the CHOGM.

 

We all want :

 

  • Withdrawal of the army from the Tamil homelands

  • Return of the lands to the Tamil owners and safeguarding of livelihoods

  • An end to displacement, ethnic cleansing and rapes

 

  • An end to suppression of public opinion and disappearances

  • An independent investigation in to the rights violations by the State and non-State actors during the last period of war.

 

In other words, we want an end to violence and instead, implementation of democracy. Elevating Mr. Rajapakshe to a pivotal position in the Commonwealth would be highly counterproductive to democracy in south Asia as a whole. Mr. Rajapakshe must be put on trial by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

 

NAPM after a national meeting in July launched a campaign tour across Six states on this issue from October 15-22, 2013 and held meetings, press conferences at Chennai,  Puducherry, Cochin, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai with the support of people’s movements and organisations.

 

We encourage all democratic forces to join our appeal and urge the Prime Minister to not attend the CHOGM in order to strengthen democracy in South Asia and use our diplomatic ties to restore rights and dignity of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

 

Medha Patkar, Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan, Sister Celia, Prafulla Samantara, C R Neelakandan, Ramakrishnan Raju, K Balakrishnan, Sudandiran, Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar, Seela M 

 

 

 

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#India – A farce in Koodankulam during PM’s visit to Russia

A farce of connecting the reactors to the grid was played out in Koodankulam this week to make the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Russia less embarrassing. But the reactor tripped within hours, highlighting the dangers of such hasty exercises which undermine procedures and concerns
P K Sundaram

October 23, 2013

At the unearthly hour of 2:45 am, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) decided to connect  reactor-I to the grid. Was the timing decided by some vaastu experts, as happens often in supposedly high-tech projects in this country, or to coincide with ’s visit to Russia? While one can keep guessing, the whole exercise has exposed the nuclear establishment’s lies, inefficiency and dangerous misadventures.

Even before the jubilation in the media could settle, we learnt that that the  reactor tripped and had to be stopped. The NPCIL claimed that it was ‘routine’ and that the process would be restarted after tests, following which electricity production in  would be gradually increased to the full capacity of 1000 MW. However, the Southern Regional Load Despatch Centre (SRLDC), in its official report, said that there was a secondary system failure after the plant was synchronised for the first time at 2:45 am and that the power plant “tripped due to reverse power.”

Evidently, there is something more to the story than the normal start-up troubles. As recently as on 16 October, the NPCIL said that two condensers got stuck as they had valve problems and that the KKNPP-I would be synchronised in November after attaining 400 MW production capacity. On 22 October, they synchronised the reactor to the electricity grid after attaining just 160 MW production capacity. Some media sources have even reported the output to be just 75 MW. What made the NPCIL hurriedly sync the reactor then?

The Indian PM was on a trip to Russia and the government possibly felt that announcing the synchronisation of KKNPP-I would help finalise the agreement on  3 and 5. Like the US and French nuclear corporations, the  firm Atomsroyexport is not ready to abide by India’s Nuclear Liability Act of 2010 which mandates the operator’s “right of recourse” against the supplier. The liability issue and the high cost of  reactors seems to have prevented any final agreement between the two countries.

On 22 October, the  President announced with fanfare that  would be connected to the grid “within a few hours”. He was reported saying that the reactor would start producing 300 MW of electricity – double the amount announced by the NPCIL at home. The Indian PM heaved a sigh of relief as he had promised Putin, way back on his December 2012 trip to India, that -I would be started “within 2 weeks.” The starting of operations at  has been an unending saga of such 15 days’ promises by the NPCIL, Narayansamy and the PM himself.

However, the tripping of -I suggests much more more than just a hurried attempt to provide a symbolic moment for the PM’s visit. It exposes the hollowness of the claims of NPCIL experts that the repeated delays were a result of their “quest for perfection” regarding safety. Components like valves have been repeatedly found defective and trouble-prone in  and have delayed the commissioning of the plant. The  nuclear supplier Zio-Podolsk‘s Director, Sergei Shutov is in jail for a huge scam involving the supply of sub-standard equipment in the batches that were supplied to India,  and other countries over several years. This gives credence to the fears that have been brushed aside in India’s anachronistic nuclear pursuit.

The petitioners in the  case in the Supreme Court did raise this issue, but the court reposed faith in the NPCIL to judge on such technical issues. The NPCIL and the secretive nature of the nuclear industry have not allowed much of independent nuclclear expertise to flourish in India. As a result, the NPCIL misled the court even on basic issues: it has no expertise on Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR) in and it passed off the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) safety manuals related to a totally different design – Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) – as a proof of its diligence and sincerity. Similarly, several other very crucial questions were overlooked: the non-adherence of recommendations of the post-Fukushima safety review, the non-availability of adequate water supply in , the exemption of nuclear liability for -I, and the non-adherence to Environment Impact Assessments and Coastal Regulatory Zone stipulations on the flimsy ground that these stipulations came into existence after the reactor project was started!

Far from being the product of a holistic policy for the country’s energy needs, India’s nuclear pursuit is based on international agreements animated by the pursuit of legitimacy for its nuclear weapons and ensuring a seat on the high table in exchange for nuclear deals. There is an unmissable pattern –  environmental clearance for Jaitapur was given in 2010 when the then French President Nicholas Sarkozy was visiting India, Nuclear Liability Act was hastily finalised during Hilary Clinton’s visit, liability exemption for Mithi Virdi project in Gujarat was given during ’s visit to US last month and a shoddily done synchronisation of -I was done during the PM’s visit to Kremlin.

The livelihoods and lives of its own people have become international bargaining chips for the government. Much like the country’s other resources – mines, rivers, forests, food, health and education – that the Indian ruling elite is happily offering at the altar of its own brand of ‘development’.

We must not forget that the Fukushima nuclear accident has taken a much worse turn in Japan in the last few months. It has been forced to shut again two of the 54 reactors that were restarted after a complete shutdown following the accident in March 2011. The lesson we can draw is that nuclear plants simply cannot be run in a transparent and safe manner. The stress-tests following Fukushima have forced full or partial reversal of nuclear projects in many countries and international surveys have reported widespread popular disapproval of the nuclear industry.

Despite the backlash against the  plant, India sent psychologists to ‘counsel’ the protesters and slapped sedition charges of colonial vintage when that didn’t work. Thousands of activists and villagers in Tamil Nadu continue to face fictitious criminal charges, which the Supreme Court ordered to be removed. Meanwhile, India’s democracy and safety are threatened by an ill-conceived, unsafe, expensive, non-transparent and unaccountable nuclear expansion plan.

The author is Research Consultant with the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) and can be contacted at[email protected]

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-koodankulam-to-think-live-and-act-non-violently-mustread/" target="_blank"> #India – Koodankulam: To Think, Live And Act Non-Violently #mustread

 

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South Block lectures journalists on junket etiquette #mustread

Tripti Nath ,

Indian journalists traveling abroad as part of media delegations with the President, Vice President and Prime Minister are notorious for their unseemly behaviour. Haggling endlessly with shopkeepers, getting into drunken brawls, complaining about food or making a fool of themselves in red-light districts has been known to happen with embarrassing frequency.

External affairs ministry officials say journalists by and large behave themselves when traveling to Western countries but seem to think they have a license to do as they please when in Asia and Africa. MEA officials have been a tad nervous on this count as they planned for the PM’s October 9-12 visit to Brunei and Indonesia.

A wary MEA has included a list of behavioural ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ for journalists accompanying the PM. The list generally comprises information on weather and the recommended clothing. But this time the list has some interesting behavioural tips for the accompanying media delegation.

The booklet distributed to journalists traveling with the PM states how “traditional Indonesian cultural mores emphasize the importance of living in harmony. Open displays of anger – shouting, rude looks, etc are all highly offensive behaviour. Indonesian method of dealing with differences is to strive towards consensus.”

If that isn’t all, the list advises journalists to keep their penchant for haggling at marketplaces under control. “Bargaining in traditional markets is acceptable though not by a huge margin. Do not expect this in shopping malls where prices are fixed,” the list says. There have been instances in the past of journalists getting into arguments with local shopkeepers and worse by taking delivery of the goods only to leave the city without paying up, leaving harried Indian mission officials to cough up the money.

Journalists literally caught with their pants down and with no money to pay in a red-light district has also known to have happened. Here again fellow journalists or the Indian mission officials have pooled in money to rescue them from the clutches of bouncers or police. The list also has a word of advice on the correct etiquette to be observed when interacting with women in Brunei and Indonesia. “Even though handshaking is deemed appropriate between men and women, bear in mind that a number of Muslim women prefer to introduce themselves to men by nodding their head,” the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ state.

In 2010, two senior television journalists, who accompanied then President Pratibha Patil to China, outdid many others when it came to trashing the dignity of the Indian journalistic corps. The two literally came to blows at a hotel in Beijing. The drunken brawl left behind shattered glass panes, broken furniture and a broken nose. The Indian embassy in Beijing picked up the tab for the broken furniture and worked the phone lines to keep the hotel staff from reporting the matter to the police. The matter was reported to the Prime Minister’s Office and the respective channels. The two gentlemen aren’t allowed on official trips abroad ever since.

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Is Nuclear Power Compatible With Democracy? #mustread

Sajjad Hussain/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images Activists protested against the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant in Maharashtra
Posted: 10/02/2013 7:21 pm, Huffingtonpost

When India‘s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in the U.S. last week, he reportedlycarried a generous gift: an unlimited number of free lives. To be precise, Singh was ready to promise President Obama that should any of the nuclear reactors that India is planning to buy from U.S. companies ever suffer an accident, they will not have to pay anything in damages. Whether or not he made this offer is unclear — but the meeting evidently went well. Afterward the two leaders announced a deal between Westinghouse and India’s nuclear operator for building six reactors in Mithi Virdi, Gujarat.

The White House has long demanded such a pledge, and more: that it be written into India’s body of law. In 2008, Singh and President George Bush had finalized a deal enabling India to import reactors and uranium fuel without signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty. “The people of India deeply love you,” a grateful prime minister had gushed to Bush. Indians soon discovered, however, that earning a superpower’s affection takes deep pockets: in lieu of US support Singh had secretly promised to buy at least 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power from Westinghouse and General Electric, at an ballpark cost of about $40 billion. The deal also implied that India would ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.

Pioneered by the U.S., this agreement requires countries purchasing nuclear power plants to pass domestic legislation, both to indemnify the suppliers from all costs of accidents and also to deny citizens the right to sue for compensation. “The concern is that if there is an accident the compensation could be so huge that the companies would be bankrupt,” explains M.V. Ramana of Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security. Chernobyl has cost well above, and Fukushima may cost as much as, $250 billion — virtually all of which expense is being borne by victims and taxpayers in the affected countries. The convention ensures that this model of compensation will remain the norm.

Thus far, the agreement has been ratified by Argentina, Morocco, Romania and the United States–which, however, has exempted itself from key provisions. The relevant U.S. law is instead the Price-Anderson Act of 1957, which channels liability to the operators of a plant and currently caps it at about $12 billion; it does not curtail Americans’ right to sue. One more country with some installed nuclear capacity has to ratify the convention before it comes into force.

Try as he might, however, Singh could not get India’s raucous democracy to fall in line. To begin with, the nuclear deal precipitated a no-confidence vote that he barely scraped through. In a cable later revealed by Wikileaks, an employee of the U.S. embassy in New Delhi reported that five days before the vote a member of Singh’s Congress party showed him two chests full of cash, and told him they were part of a $10 million cache being used to purchase the support of ministers of parliament. Evidently the U.S. needed reassurance that Singh was doing all he could to push the deal through.

The nuclear liability bill proved just as contentious — not least because memories of the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984 surfaced even as it was being discussed. Union Carbide had paid a mere $470 million for what is now estimated to be more than 15,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries, and many Indians were adamant that no other company would walk away from such devastation. The Nuclear Liability Act of 2010, allegedly also passed by dubious means, nonetheless removes Indians’ ability to sue for compensation and channels liabilities to the local operators, capping them at 15 billion rupees (currently about $240 million).

Not all went according to plan, however. The law also specifies that if a reactor defect causes an accident, the operator can claim from the supplier whatever it pays out. Despite the cap of $240 million — a small fraction of the price of a reactor and a thousand times less than the potential cost of an accident — the U.S. strongly disapproved. So in writing the regulations for the bill, Singh’s team decreed that the operator can claim only for accidents occurring within the initial licensing period for a reactor, which is normally five years. A reactor has a lifespan of four to six decades.

Even that was not enough. “The nuclear industry doesn’t like this business of being liable for anything at all,” Ramana observes. Accordingly, Singh is believed to have pledged last Friday that India’s government-owned nuclear operator, which will be running the Westinghouse and GE plants, would waive all claims. Given the current form of its law, however, India cannot ratify the convention.

Nuclear suppliers are worried: even a tiny crack in their defensive wall could expand in the future, letting in a flood of claims. Under Japan’s nuclear law, for instance, GE bears no liability for the ongoing catastrophe in Fukushima, although it designed all six of the damaged reactors and supplied three of them. Experts had long criticized the weak containment dome of these reactors, three of which gave way. The Fukushima fallout includes a Greenpeace demand for revising similar liability laws around the world, such as in Canada.

Meanwhile, the fierce determination of not only the U.S., but also France and Russia to evade liability for their nuclear suppliers (India is buying reactors from all three countries as payoff for entry into the nuclear club) has convinced many Indians that the plants must be unsafe. The suspicion is well founded. For instance, if a severe accident indeed occurs as infrequently as once in four million years, as Westinghouse claims, the insurance to cover a reactor for a lifetime of operation in India would cost less than $3,500 — rendering moot all the arm-twisting to extract a pass on liability. According to Thomas Cochran, a former senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, the extant record of nuclear power shows the chance of an accident to be a thousand times higher than commonly claimed.

On the eve of Singh’s departure for the U.S., thousands of people from Mithi Virdidemonstrated against the proposed Westinghouse reactors. Mithi Virdi, which means Sweet Water, is the name of a lake that farmers depend on, and whose water the plant will use and pollute in its routine operations. Building it there will require further abrogation of democracy — but Singh has had some practice. In Koodankulam, at the southern tip of India, the police have suppressed a prolonged and spirited campaign against new Russian reactors by turning away journalists, deporting foreign sympathizers, desecrating a church, placing three villages under virtual siege and slapping sedition cases (which can carry sentences of life imprisonment) on close to seven thousand protestors, including children.

Around the world, and especially in countries where the public has a say on policy, nuclear power plants are shutting down because of concerns over cost and risk. Companies that clearly don’t trust their own claims of safety have long been asking ordinary people to stake their lives on the same — and they are no longer willing to comply. In the post-Fukushima era, nuclear power may well turn out to be incompatible with meaningful democracy.

 

 

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PIPFPD Statement on Talks between Mr Nawaz Sharif and Dr Manmohan Singh

 

PAKISTAN-INDIA PEOPLES’ FORUM FOR PEACE & DEMOCRACY
C-38 (basement), Lajpat Nagar 1, New Delhi 

 

 

October 1, 2013

We feel encouraged by the decision of the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India, who ensured that the anti- peace forces were not able to derail the talks in New York. The talks have happened despite the fact that the anti peace forces made a bid to spoil the atmosphere by mounting attacks on police posts, army camps and killed many soldiers. As expected, the Indian counter part of Pakistani war mongers had also started a chorus to stop Dr. Manmohan Singh from meeting Mr. Nawaz Sharif.

While supporting the spirit of positive dialogue between the two countries we would like to reiterate that the lives of soldiers on the LoC or any other militarized area in both countries is as important as the many other lives of people of both these countries; many of whom are fishworkers and are caught by the marine security agencies; many who have no identity because of rabid visa regime policies and many others whose lives go unnoticed especially in militarized zones where it is only the soldiers sacrifices for the nation that are taken into consideration and the others are taken as nothing but collateral damage. The fact that the talks were centred mainly around the happenings at the LoC is a matter of great concern since there is a need to not just look at the wide range of issues between the two countries, but to understand and act on the core of each of these issues.

We are happy that Mr. Sharif has expressed his government’s commitment to punish those who were guilty of carrying out terror acts in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.While we share the Indian Government’s concern about groups engaging in terror activities being based in Pakistan, their unleashing violence on people in India and the need for Pakistan authorities to stop the cross border acts of terror; we  recognise the fact that the people of Pakistan themselves are  serious victims of terror attacks. Numerous Muslim religious sectarian organisations, be it Taliban, Al Qaeda, Jaish-e-Mohammad, LeT and many others who are armed and funded by the ruling elite of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other forces who are aligned with the neo-imperialist camp  are furthering their agenda of promoting sectarian violence and disunity among the Muslim people in the world.

Keeping in mind the severe acts of sectarian violence being promoted in both Pakistan and India, we  demand unanimous commitment from both the governments towards protecting the rights of minorities.

It is time that the democratic governments and the people of the two countries unite against these forces in both, India, Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. We also urge the governments of India and Pakistan to understand that it is in the interest of the USA and other Western powers to keep India and Pakistan at loggerheads. Over the years, it has become even more evident that these powers have supported forces like the Taliban that have turned against the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India and are now ready to hand over the control of Afghanistan to the Taliban, the same forces against whom the ‘war on terror’ was  declared by the USA.

It is imperative that the democratic governments of India and Pakistan join hands in building peace in the subcontinent, rather than looking up to the forces of global imperialism to solve our problems.

 

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