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MDG Report 2014: India among worst performers in poverty reduction, maternal death and sanitation

Author(s): Moushumi Sharma 
Date:Jul 9, 2014

Report shows good progress in areas like poverty alleviation and access to clean water and controlling diseases like TB, Malaria

imageSome MDG targets, such as increasing access to sanitation and reducing child and maternal mortality are unlikely to be met before the deadline

The United Nations (UN) released this week the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report, 2014. The report, launched by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, says that many of the development goals have been met or are within reach by 2015.

The report is the latest finding to assess the regional progress towards the eight developmental goals that the UN targets to achieve by 2015, including eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and women empowerment, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

Progress slow but target possible
Ban Ki-moon has lauded the progress so far, saying that many global MDG targets have already been met. The report states that extreme poverty in the world has reduced by half; over 2.3 million people gained access to clean drinking water between 1990 and 2012; gender disparities in school enrollment in developing nations have been eliminated to a large extent; and political participation of women has increased. The report maintains that if the current trend of progress continues, the world might surpass MDG targets on malaria, tuberculosis and access to HIV treatment. An estimated 3.3 million deaths from malaria could be averted between 2000 and 2012 due to substantial expansion of malaria intervention programmes, while intensive efforts to fight tuberculosis have saved an estimated 22 million lives worldwide since 1995.

But it is too soon to celebrate. According to the report, some MDG targets, such as reducing child and maternal mortality and increasing access to sanitation, are unlikely to be met before the deadline.

India’s dismal performance
India’s progress has been below the mark on the parameters of poverty, child and maternal mortality and access to improved sanitation. In 2010, one-third of the world’s 1.2 billion extremely poor (32.9 per cent) lived in India alone. The poverty figures for the same year for Nigeria and Bangladesh, two countries less developed than India, were 8.9 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively.

A recent study by an international non-profit ranked India 137th among 178 countries when it comes to maternal and child health, categorising the country among the worst performers (Read: India among worst performers in maternal and child health). The UN report states that India had the highest number of under-five deaths in the world in 2012, with 1.4 million children in the country dying before age five. This is shameful when one takes into account notable reductions in the under-five mortality rate since 1990 and particularly since 2000 in low-income countries such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

While the global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) dropped by 45 per cent between 1990 and 2013, India still accounts for 17 per cent of maternal deaths. India’s MMR target for 2015 is to bring down maternal mortality to less than 109 deaths per 100,000 live births. But only three states—Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra—have so far been successful in reaching this target (Read: India nowhere near millennium goal for maternal mortality.

The UN report further states that MMR in developing regions—230 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013—was 14 times higher than that of developed regions, which recorded only 16 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the same year. It maintains that the best possible way of reducing neonatal mortality is through greater investment in maternal care during the first 24 hours after birth.

Scourge of open defecation
Between 1990 and 2012, two billion people worldwide gained access to improved sanitation, but a billion people still defecate in the open. A vast majority of the world’s population—82 per cent—resorting to open defecation live in middle-income, populous countries like India and Nigeria.

Official data on open defecation in India will put any country to shame. The country has the world’s largest population that defecates in the open. (Read: Mission possible. According to data released by the National Sample Survey Office in December 2013, 59.4 per cent of the rural population resorted to open defecation. 2011 Census figures put the number of rural houses without toilets at 113 million.

To make matters worse for the country’s reputation, a recent study conducted by the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics, Uttar Pradesh, claims that in 40 per cent of rural households in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, which have a functional toilet, at least one member chose to defecate in the open. At least 30 per cent of the world’s population, which defecates in the open, live in these five states alone (Read: Despite having toilets at home, many in rural India choose to defecate in open.

Hope for the future
Presenting the report, Ban Ki-moon said that the world is “at a historic juncture, with several milestones before us”. He underscored that the report makes clear “the MDGs have helped unite, inspire and transform…and the combined action of governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector can make a difference”. “Our efforts to achieve the MDGs are critical to building a solid foundation for development beyond 2015. At the same time, we must aim for a strong successor framework to attend to unfinished business and address areas not covered by the eight MDGs,” the UN chief said.

Read mor where- http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/mdg-report-2014-india-among-worst-performers-poverty-reduction-maternal-death-and-sanitation

 

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Jaya pricks Gujarat model with sharp figures #NaMo #NOMOre_2014

Subodh Varma TIMES INSIGHT GROUP

gutn

There is nobody more sharp and biting than an ex-friend, as Narendra Modi must have realized on Wednesday when Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa took him to task on the question of development of his state.
Modi and BJP have been claiming that Gujarat has shown peerless development that makes it a model worth adopting by the whole country. But Jayalalithaa said Modi needs to check his facts because TN has developed far better on a host of fronts.
Is Jayalalithaa’s claim valid? TOI did a quick study of some key indicators of both states and found that on most counts TN does perform better. Both are fairly ‘advanced’ states compared to others, both have an industrial base, both have higher levels of urbanization and both have been ruled by non-Congress parties for a considerable period. So, it’s not apples and oranges being compared.
TN is, of course, much bigger than Gujarat in terms of population. Yet the number of people below poverty line is 102 lakh in Gujarat (about 17% of its population) compared to 82 lakh poor in TN (11%). Both states had an economic growth rate of about 10% between 2005-06 and 2011-12. Employment growth, adjusted to population growth, between 2001 and 2011 was nearly the same in both states.
Yet, monthly expenditure by households, which is a measure of family incomes, is higher in TN than in Gujarat in both rural and urban areas.
It is in the health and education sectors that the difference in quality of life really shows up. Dropout rates, that is the proportion of students dropping out of school compared to those enrolled at the beginning, are shockingly high in Gujarat at 58% for classes 1 to 10. In TN, it is 26% — still high, but less than half of Gujarat.
On two key measures of health of people — infant deaths and mother’s deaths due to pregnancy complications — TN is ahead of Gujarat.
A slew of indicators from the 2011 Census shows that people in TN have better access to treated tap water, electricity for lighting up homes, and LPG for cooking. But, Gujarat has more households with toilets in the house. Even TV and mobile ownership is more in TN.
Two other bits of data show different yet equally important aspects of life in the two states. One is safety of women as measured by the number of registered cases of crimes against women.
The second is incidents of communal violence. Between 2005 and 2013, Tamil Nadu witnessed 237 such incidents while Gujarat, despite repeated claims of communal amity by Modi, suffered through 479 incidents.

 

Read more here – http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Client.asp?Daily=TOIM&showST=true&login=default&pub=TOI&Enter=true&Skin=TOINEW

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#Film – The Pain of Denied Justice – Gallows #deathpenalty #mustwatch

Death-Penalty

The revealing documentary how an innocent was framed into the case. The matter of denied justice and how media marginalizes this as a tamil issue, while it was an issue of miscarriage of justice and of national importance and pride.

Operation “Revelation

All our friends of IndiaThe Media has been misleading us as if Tamilnadu is a terrorist state and as if we are fighting to release “Rajiv killers”; whilst the truth is not so. We have been framed in that case, and we found that we have not apprised you enough with our agony and discrimination.

We unite as a state only because we get oppressed on such issues. Please see the Video for yourselves and know the truth. If you continue to hate us after seeing the video it’s, fine. But we certainly believe you will not hate us after “understanding the truth”.

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Beachside troubles

Issue Date:
2014-2-28

Ministry of Mines and Atomic Minerals Directorate move to curb illegal mining and export of beach sand minerals

Over 1.35 million  
tonnes of ilmenite and 205,000 tonnes of garnet were illegally mined in Tamil  
Nadu between 2007 and 2012

Last month the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) demanded a separate body to regulate illegal mining and export of beach sand minerals. Beach sand is rich in seven heavy minerals—ilmenite, leucoxene, rutile, zircon, sillimanite, garnet and monazite. They are processed to derive rare earth elements and titanium that are used in a variety of industries, including paints and cosmetics (see ‘Precious minerals’).

Rampant illegal mining and export of beach sand minerals forced the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to impose a blanket ban on August 16 last year. Beach sand mining primarily happens in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The mining ministry had till then issued 123 licences, of which 81 are for private players.

Mining companies are required to take separate licences for mining each of the beach sand minerals. But since the seven minerals occur together, mining companies extract all the minerals without licences. The Indian Bureau of Mines, under the Ministry of Mines (MoM), gives approvals for mining garnet and sillimanite, and AMD, which is the research unit of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), gives licences to mine the remaining minerals. Also, DAE officials said last year that private mining companies are not filing statutory returns that show how much has been mined from a particular mining lease.

Precious minerals

Over 80 per cent of world’s titanium is derived from beach sand minerals ilmenite and rutile. India accounts for 15 per cent of the global titanium output. Over 50 per cent of titanium dioxide production is used to manufacture pigments in lacquers, paints and enamels. The dioxide, which absorbs ultraviolet light, is used in sunscreen lotions as well. Titanium’s non-reactive property makes it ideal to be used in the human body for orthopaedic use. Titanium is used instead of steel as the metal is 45 per cent lighter than steel, and twice as strong as aluminium.

Zircon is used as foundry sand, in television screens and in the chemical industry. It is widely used in the ceramics industry. It is also used in leather tanning and paper coating industry, and in modern superconductors due to its high melting point. Garnet is a good abrasive and is used as a replacement of silica in sand blasting. Mixed with high pressure water, garnet is used to cut steel. Sillimanite rocks are used in the glass industry and in alumina refractories.

AMD officials say checking such illegal cases becomes difficult as two bodies are responsible for giving mining licences for the minerals. This is the reason AMD demanded a single body to give mining leases during a meeting organised by MoM on January 9 this year. An MoM official told Down To Earth, since beach sand minerals such as monazite are rich in radioactive minerals, AMD should approve mining plans. A final decision is yet to be taken.

In abundance

Workers carry beach sand minerals on a boatIndia has the third largest reserve of beach sand minerals, with 13 per cent share of the world reserves. India meets 6 to 7 per cent of the world demand for beach sand minerals. According to the Working Group of Planning Commission for the 12th Plan, mining of beach sand minerals in India is expected to reach about 0.18 million tonnes per year by 2017, which will account for 10 per cent of the global production. In 2011-12, India exported 52 per cent of its beach sand minerals to China, 18 per cent to the Netherlands and 10 per cent to Japan, as per the data from Director General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics.

Illegal export of beach sand minerals increased after DAE passed a notification in 2007, allowing mining companies to export six of the seven beach sand minerals. The export of monazite was not allowed because it is primarily used to produce uranium and thorium, which are used as fuels for nuclear plants. The Indian Minerals Year Book estimates that India’s coastline has a deposit of 10.7 million tonnes of monazite, from which 846,477 tonnes of thorium can be extracted.

Indiscriminate mining

A Tamil Nadu government-appointed task force found that between 2007 and 2012, about 1.35 million tonnes of ilmenite and 205,000 tonnes of garnet were mined illegally from the state. Monazite-rich sand was dumped near settlements (see ‘Hazardous mining’).

Hazardous mining

“People working in sites where monazite-rich sand are illegally dumped often inhale the thorium-rich dust. Although, radiation exposure from beach sand mining is less than the permissible levels of DAE, over a period of time radioactive chemicals inhaled through dust can harm the lungs of the workers,” says P M B Pillai, a scientist with Indian Rare Earth Limited, the government agency that sells monazite.

While very few studies on the long-term effects of monazite-rich sand have been conducted in India, global studies have found the process of mining these minerals is not safe. “It is difficult to obtain clean separation of ilmenite and monazite… Ilmenite concentrates obtained from such deposits often contain high levels of thorium and uranium,” states South African scientist J Nell in his study published in the Journal of South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy in 2010. Another study published in the same journal in 2004 states that the existence of radioactive minerals like monazite is becoming an increasing problem.

In a report to the Tamil Nadu government in 2010, the then Kanyakumari district collector Rajendra Ratnoo said he banned beach sand mining in the district after finding that V V Minerals, the biggest private beach minerals mining company in the country with a turnover of Rs 45 crore, was dumping monazite-rich sand after the chemical separation process. As a result, workers and residents were exposed to radioactivity. As per AMD guidelines, mining companies should backfill monazite-rich sand on the beaches and cover it with silica. V V Minerals filed a petition in the Madras High Court seeking to resume mining. The court lifted the ban as the district collectorate did not have the equipment to record radioactivity.

Source: Indian Minerals Yearbook 2013Soon after, Tuticorin collector Ashish Kumar raided six quarries of private miners, V V Minerals and Beach Sand Minerals Company, and banned beach sand mining in the district. In a letter to the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu, Kumar complained that private companies had been mining beyond their lease areas.

V Sundaram, former deputy collector of Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district who in 2012 sought information about beach sand mining under RTI, estimates Rs 96,000 crore worth of monazite (approximately 0.15 million tonnes) has been exported illegally since private players entered the market in 1998.

While AMD officials admit that the six allowed minerals are being exported illegally, they maintain monazite is not. According to S K Malhotra, head of AMD’s public awareness division, all processing facilities have to procure a licence from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board for radiological safety. “DAE has taken initiatives to maintain vigil at ports and to strengthen sampling mechanism for monitoring beach sand minerals,” says Malhotra.

In September 2013, MoM asked DAE to ban the export of all beach sand minerals by mining companies. Private mining bodies such as Mining Engineers’ Association of India (MEAI), however, are demanding that the ban on monazite export should also be lifted. “It will benefit society if private companies are allowed in the sector. Private sector is already engaged in its production in countries such as Brazil and Australia,” says T V Chowdary of MEAI.

Mining ministry officials say the decision on a single body for clearances will be taken soon. Till then the approval and monitoring of mining leases will remain complicated.


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#India – Bastar’s ugly secret: 9,000 girls have been trafficked in the past decade #Vaw

Last November, 60 tribal girls from Chhattisgarh were rescued from a factory in Tamil Nadu. The episode put the spotlight on Bastar’s ugly secret: 9,000 girls have been trafficked in the past decade

2014-02-08 , Issue 6 Volume 11


Roll call Tribal girls from Chhattisgarh who were rescued from a factory in Tamil Nadu

Roll call Tribal girls from  who were rescued from a factory in 

Rajeshwari Salam smiles almost as a reflex action. It does not reach her damp, vacant eyes. Slightly built with common tribal features, the 29-year-old seems more a victim than a liberator who broke the biggest trafficking network of tribals in the country to rescue 60 girls from a slave factory in Namakkal. Sucked into the racket by another tribal, Tijuram Korram, she was sold to a vegetable processing unit where she slaved for 18 hours a day until she developed severe skin disease and acid burns. She escaped from the factory one day but returned determinedly to rescue the other inmates last November.

To meet Rajeshwari, one has to travel to Janakpur on foot for the better part of the day from the headquarters of Kanker district in  region, deep inside Maoist territory. The winter sun is too weak to penetrate through the trees. The slightest rustle of dried leaves can be heard yards away. But human greed knows no bounds as girls are being lured away from this idyllic region to be sold to far-off factories and brothels.

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Safe return A group of girls from Bade Jamhri who were rescued from the Namakkal factory, Photo: Shailendra Pandey
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Nowhere to hide In  region, the people are caught between the  and an indifferent State, Photo: Shailendra Pandey

It’s almost always someone the girl trusts who gives the final push. The domino effect that follows is also self-willed to the extent that the simpleton might construct it to be an escape from her misery in , a region synonymous with exploitation, either by the  or by the state administration (or the lack of it).

In the past 10 years, tribal girls have been vanishing from  at an alarming rate. Official records show that 9,000 girls have gone missing. In reality, the figure could be closer to 90,000, warn local social activists.

Some end up as slaves at factories in , working for as little as Rs 100 a month, a bar of soap and a bottle of oil. Others end up at houses in , Haryana and Punjab through a complex network of agents. The green forests, blue skies and warmth of a hearth lost forever in the acid drums and household chores. The girls are sold for anything from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000.

 

As Rajeshwari recounts her tale of horror, the contours of a major crime network built on deceit, allurement and exploitation becomes clear. A man she knew offered to take her on a trip to the Balaji temple in Tirupati and even convinced other girls to come with her. For Rajeshwari, who had never travelled beyond Kanker, the idea of going on a train journey seemed exciting.

However, the trip turned into a nightmare when she was taken to Namakkal and sold to a factory. She found other girls in captivity there and heard of several dozen similar stories of  girls held captive in sweatshops all over.

The districts of , Jagdalpur, Kanker, Kondagaon, Jashpur, Raigarh, Koriya, Sarguja, Durg and Bilaspur have emerged as trafficking dens. Girls from here are sold off in , Andhra Pradesh, , Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir.

‘The guy promised to take me to the Balaji temple in Tirupati’

rajeshwari-salam

Rajeshwari Salam | 29 | Jhanakpur, Kanker District

Rajeshwari Salam had never imagined that a brief visit to her sister-in-law’s house in the-hit Bade Jamhri village of district would turn into the darkest chapter of her life. While there, she met Tijuram Korram along with a few other village girls. Korram told her that he was taking the girls on a trip to the famous Balaji temple at Tirupati, and she could join too. She was persuaded by the other girls to seize the opportunity.

Korram and a dozen girls began their journey on 4 August 2013. From Bade Jamhri, they reached Korram’s house in Nayanar and stayed for the night. The next stop was Benur village, located between  and Kondagaon, from where a van took them to Jagdalpur. Then started a long bus ride to Namakkal in . A Bolero ferried them to Gems Agro Exports, a local factory where they were turned into bonded labourers.

“When I asked what we were doing in a factory instead of going to the Balaji temple, he said the money was all spent and we would have to work,” recalls Rajeshwari.

She says there were nearly 100 girls at the factory. They were made to sleep in a single room and share a single toilet. Her chance of escape arrived one day when Korram brought a fresh batch of girls. She told Korram that she had got an allergy from working with chemicals at the vegetable processing factory and demanded that she be sent home. After much coaxing, he agreed to take her back to , but on the condition that she would arrange for at least 10 other girls. He promised to pay her Rs 500 for each girl.

When she returned home, Rajeshwari met the Women and Child Development department supervisor, Jagmati Kashyap, and recounted her tale. Before her return, Rajeshwari had chanced upon a factory manager’s visiting card while cleaning and kept it. With the help of the visiting card, the police tracked and rescued 60 other tribal girls from the factory.

Last November, 24 girls were rescued from another factory in Erode district.

 racket of placement agencies and local agents is operating actively in the region. Initially, it was thought that poverty and a dearth of employment opportunities in the area had resulted in a rising trend of immigration, providing ground for placement agencies. But a probe by TEHELKA has blown the lid off a trafficking network that subsists on luring girls with promises of pilgrimages and even marriage to local youth, who are hand-in-glove with the traffickers.

With the help of Hari Singh Sidar, 70, a social and religious worker who has been active in  for the past two decades, TEHELKA travelled to a dozen small hamlets in  and Kanker districts to meet families who have lost their daughters, and some who have welcomed back their loved ones, recording stories of endless horror and shame. The tragedy continues as the rescued girls face an unfeeling, cold-blooded administration unable to protect them, but unashamed to steal from their rehabilitation fund. This is the first real documentation from Ground Zero of the plight of the tribal girls trafficked, abused and dumped.

 

In Bade Jamhri village in  district, life revolves around the local church. Five local girls were rescued from Gems Agro Exports factory in Namakkal. Initially, they were reluctant to talk about their ordeal until the church permitted them to tell their story.

The girls fell for the machinations of an agent, a Bihari youth married to a local girl, which made him trustworthy enough. The tribal mind trusts easily and does not worry about the consequences. The girls tell their tale with such heart-wrenching simplicity that the dreadful lives they had to endure for a year seems almost pre-ordained and perhaps as easily accepted as destiny.

‘Some girls were made to sleep separately and raped’

Sigay Mandawi | 21 Bade Jamhri |  Narayanpur District

Sigay Mandawi | 21 | Bade Jamhri,   District

IN 2007, Sigay Mandawi passed the Class IX exams, becoming the most educated girl in her village. While she was studying at the Government Higher Secondary School in, she met Bijju. One day, Bijju introduced her to his elder brother Tijuram Korram, who said that he could arrange a job for her. Instead, Korram sold her to Gems Agro Exports in Namakkal along with Rajeshwari and others.

Sigay says that the girls had to pick gherkins and then soak them in chemicals to preserve them. The chemicals used in the process caused allergies and their skin began to peel off. They were not allowed medical treatment nor could they rest.

For all the hard work, the girls were paid just Rs 100 at the end of the month, which was spent on buying soap and oil. “A few girls were even made to sleep separately and raped almost on a nightly basis,” says Sigay. Some were sent back when they became pregnant.

At the factory, their job was to dip vegetables in a preservative formulation and then seal and pack them for export. They were required to cut, clean, peel and then dip them in a solution of salt first before preparing and dipping it in preservatives. The preservative caused an unusual amount of itching and skin burns for which they would be given oil and a bar of Lifebuoy soap.

“We were given two small meals and tea twice a day but the work was never-ending and no one was allowed to go out of the tin sheds where we lived for more than four months,” reveals one girl.

 

Most of the girls slept together but some were routinely segregated and raped repeatedly over days. This, of course, does not find any mention in the police report.

In Rajeshwari’s case, she was given an “all-clear” certificate by the Namakkal sub-judicial magistrate, stating that she does not owe any money to the owner of Gems Agro, Junaid Ahmed. The factory was raided after her escape and since then it has been closed down.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that  in India could be anywhere between 2.5 million to 90 million. Several credible international news reports and NGOs have estimated that almost 20,000 tribals vanish into homes and brothels every year.

The matter had been raised in the  Assembly several times but the state government has not taken any concrete action except forming an Anti-Human Trafficking Committee. Former home minister Nankiram Kanwar admitted in the Assembly last year that, on an average, five girls go missing from the state every day.

Statistics from the past five years reveal that 9,000 complaints of missing girls have been registered with the police, of which most cases were reported from Raipur. The government claims that the police have traced the whereabouts of 8,000 girls. However, almost 1,000 girls from  and adjoining districts are still missing.

‘Somebody had offered Rs 7 lakh to buy me’

Phutun Alias Phoolwant | 13  |  Jamaniyapath, Jashpur District

Phutun alias Phoolwant | 13 | Jamaniyapath, Jashpur District

Phutun fell victim to a trafficking gang masquerading as a placement agency, which brought her to  in 2005. She was held captive in a room with 21 girls. They were not allowed to go out. Phutun somehow managed to escape and reached home.

She reveals that three girls were sold when she was there. “Somebody had offered Rs 7 lakh for me but the traffickers were demanding Rs 10 lakh,” she reveals. Had the deal been struck, she could have never escaped. But as fate would have it, some neighbours alerted the police, who rescued her last November.

Her family had feared the worst and was happy to see her safe and sound. Now, Phutun has appealed to the police to save the other girls too.

The matter had been raised in the  Assembly several times but the state government has not taken any concrete action except forming an Anti-Human Trafficking Committee. Former home minister Nankiram Kanwar admitted in the Assembly last year that, on an average, five girls go missing from the state every day.

Statistics from the past five years reveal that 9,000 complaints of missing girls have been registered with the police, of which most cases were reported from Raipur. The government claims that the police have traced the whereabouts of 8,000 girls. However, almost 1,000 girls from  and adjoining districts are still missing.

 

The late Congress leader  had presented in the Assembly a list of 500 girls missing from Raigarh. He had alleged that more than 1 lakh tribal girls have been trafficked from the state.

“We consider  a serious issue. That’s why right after assuming office, I directed the police to take the strictest action against it immediately,” says new Home Minister Ramsevak Paikra. “It’s a long process but strict action is being taken to bring it under control.”

However, Paikra does not know whether the state has actively followed the cases against factory owners in  or raised the issue with the Jayalalithaa government. Junaid Ahmed, the owner of Gems Agro, is still at large with no charges against him.

‘By the time I was rescued, the chemicals had completely burned my face’

Yashoda Ouike | 20 |  Bade Jamhri, Narayanpur District

Yashoda Ouike | 20 | Bade Jamhri, District

Yashoda Ouike is one of five sisters. Financial troubles pushed her into agent Kijuram’s trap. She had come to know that companies in south India paid good salaries to workers, more than what the MGNREGA offered. She hoped this could help ease her family’s financial burden.

Like others, she too ended up at Gems Agro Exports in Namakkal. But even after four months of hard labour, she wasn’t paid a penny. “By the time the police rescued me from the factory, the chemicals had completely burned my face,” she says.

Yashoda recalls that once while opening the chemical container, she had received burns and fainted, but no one bothered to take her to the hospital. She was offered neither compensation nor any wages.

Now, she does not want to step out of her house.

Women and Child Development Minister Ramsheela Sahu assures TEHELKA that her department will try to regulate it at its own level. “Although, the matter falls under the home ministry’s purview, it concerns young girls. So, the department will perform its role,” she says.

missing_girlsThe government has accepted that female trafficking is a reality in the state, which is why four districts — Jashpur, Raigarh, Sarguja and Korba — were marked as  hubs in 2011. Apart from these, Mahasamund, Janjgir, Balauda Bazar and Bilaspur have also been listed as sensitive areas. But some areas of  such as , Kondagaon, Jagdalpur, Sukma, Bijapur and Kanker have been overlooked, providing traffickers and their agents a free run.

The government is taking action against placement agencies. In Jashpur alone, located near the border of  with the largest number of placement agencies operating, cases have been booked against seven such agencies. As per the official figures, the number of missing girls appears to be greater in Raipur, but TEHELKA’s investigation reveals that in tribal areas many incidents go unreported because of poverty and illiteracy and, of course, lack of faith in the non-existent system.

For instance, social activist Sidar estimates that more than 10,000 girls have vanished from the two districts of and Kanker in the past four years.

The police claims that it has been doing its bit in tracing, tracking and apprehending traffickers. Last March, two agents, Mani Ram and B Venkat Reddy, were nabbed at the Raipur railway station with 15 girls in the age group of 10-17 years, who were being taken to Nagpur on the pretext of getting them jobs. Their families had been paid Rs 1,000 each in advance. In Nagpur, the agents were to be paid huge sums by the traffickers. Both are now in jail.

Mani Ram is a resident of  and knows Halbi, the language spoken in the areas from where the girls came. In these areas, Hindi or Chhattisgarhi is not spoken. Only two of the victims could understand Hindi. Harma Markami, 10, had never been to school. She believed that girls could not study. She had ventured out in order to find work in Nagpur.

 

On 23 January, another youth was arrested on charges of . He was caught along with 20 locals, mostly minors of whom 14 were tribal girls. According to officials, Mrinal Nayak, 26, was arrested from Kunkuri, a tribal- dominated area located 400 km from Raipur. “We were on his trail for several weeks,” says police officer R Kaushik. “He was finally arrested from the Kunkuri bus stand. It was a case of. The agent nabbed was from Odisha.”

‘Sometimes we were woken up from sleep and made to work at night’

Satri Potai | 20 |  Bade Jamhri, Narayanpur District

Satri Potai | 20 | Bade Jamhri, District

Bade Jamhri, a village of 600 people, is in a-dominated area. To reach the village from , one has to walk down a narrow rocky path. Six of the girls rescued from the Gems Agro Exports factory in Namakkal belonged to this village and one of them was Satri Potai.

“There was no fixed time for work. We were not allowed to go anywhere. The factory in which the girls were kept had only one bathroom, which was shared among 60 of us. We finished work at 8 pm but by the time we had taken our baths, it would already be 11 pm,” she recalls.

“Sometimes we were woken up from sleep and made to work at night. We were not allowed to sleep the next day. We often had to work continuously for many hours. When we asked for permission to go home, we were told that we would get leave only after six months.”

Satri says that their employers used to converse in English or Tamil. It was only when they abused them that the girls understood they were upset with them. The girls were not even allowed to talk to each other.

On 30 December 2013, the police arrested Tarabai Chauhan, who was running a trafficking racket in the garb of a placement agency. Last February, Chauhan had sold Kishori in . She was hired as a maid in a posh colony in , from where she managed to call home and inform her family. On their complaint, the police arrested Chauhan and rescued the girl.

A careful study of the  map would reveal that while girls from southern parts of the state are trafficked into Andhra Pradesh and , those from the northern districts such as Raigarh, Sarguja, Jashpur and Bilaspur are taken to . Similarly, girls from Raipur, Durg and Balod in central  are sent to Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra.

The plight of girls such as Rajeshwari, Phutun and Singay, who were rescued from a factory in , is no less pitiable as their harrowing tales fail to reach the ears of those who matter in the state capital Raipur.

The state government has announced that each rescued girl will be paid Rs 1 lakh as part of a rehabilitation scheme, but the district officials in  region claim that they don’t have enough funds as it would run into crores for each district. Yet the rescued girls have been made to fill forms and applications and have been assured that they would get Rs 50,000 each. Half the promised amount has already been adjusted in their accounts by unscrupulous babus. In a region reeking with exploitation, helpless girls will continue to be traded like animals. Very few are aware and even fewer care.

Thousands of girls from  have been sold off in the past five years, says Sidar. The families are clueless about their whereabouts. The worst part of this agonising tale, says Sidar, is that both the trafficking agents as well as the NGOs that offer to help are profiting from their plight. Some NGO workers who played a part in rescuing the trafficked girls, trick them into believing that the money on offer is Rs 50,000 and pocket the rest.

There is information that agents have trafficked 250 girls from Darbha near Jagdalpur to a factory in , where they are working as bonded labourers. Similar reports are coming from Jashpur, Raigarh, Sarguja and Bilaspur. Girls from these districts have been rescued by the police in cities such as  and Mumbai.

“We have received information that some girls are in Hyderabad. We are going to conduct a survey at the panchayat level with the district collector’s help to find out how many girls are missing from each village,” says Visel Nag, the zila panchayat headman of . “Actually, these are -affected areas and we are unable to get directly in touch with the people. The agents are exploiting that. Earlier, they lured them by offering jobs. But now with MGNREGA and other such schemes, there is no dearth of employment in our villages. So, the agents have adopted different means.”

 

Read more here — http://www.tehelka.com/slaves-to-the-grind/

 

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#India -Woman gang-raped by two groups on Christmas eve #Vaw #WTFnews

headereye.jpg

,TNN | Dec 26, 2013,

 
KARAIKAL: A 20-year-old woman was abducted by a gang of four people and was gang-raped by them in Karaikal on December 24. Within minutes after she was let off by the gang another gang of eight people abducted her and took turns to rape her. Police rescued the woman following a tip off from a resident and arrested 11 members of the two different gangs. The incident took place on Christmas eve.

Police said Smitha (name changed) working in a computer company in Tamil Nadu accompanied her relative Rani (name changed) to Karaikal to meet the latter’s boyfriend on December 24. The three visited various places in Karaikal and reached the town. A group of four men, which had been following them, assaulted the youth and attempted to abduct the two women. However, the youth managed to escape along with his lover. The gang abducted the other woman.

They took her to a secluded place and gang-raped her. They let her off later. The traumatized woman made desperate attempts to contact her relative and the youth. Another gang of eight men spotted her and abducted her. They took her to a secluded place and took turns to rape her.

In the meantime, the members of the first gang learnt that the woman was abducted by another gang. They managed to trace a member of the second gang near the secluded place and attacked him. The members of the second gang on learning that their aide was attacked reached the spot and soon a group clash followed. A local resident alerted the police. A team reached the spot and arrested three men while remaining escaped.

On inquiries, police found that the two gangs had abducted and raped a woman. Police rescued the woman and launched a hunt for the other men, who escaped. Police registered cases against eleven people under IPC sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person), 376 – 2 (g) (punishment for rape – commits rape during communal or sectarian violence), 202 (intentional omission to give information of offence by person bound to inform) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation).

Senior superintendent of police (Karaikal) Monika Bahardwaj, who took the statement from the victim said police have launched a full-fledged investigation and started gathering evidence to ascertain the veracity of her claims. She did not rule out the role of her relative’s lover in the crime. “We have launched a detailed probe. We will be in a position to establish the facts only after investigations,” the SSP said. Police suspended sub-inspector Venkatachalapathy and head constable Sabapathy for their lapses in dealing with the incident.

 

Read more here- http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/puducherry/Woman-gang-raped-by-two-groups-on-Christmas-eve/articleshow/27964583.cms

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PRESS RELEASE- Experts Suggest Clean Ways out of TN’s Electricity Shortage

The political state of Tamil Nadu in India was...

The political state of Tamil Nadu in India was created in 1969 when erstwhile Madras State was renamed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

14 December, 2013. CHENNAI

 

 

It is possible for Tamil Nadu to overcome the current electricity crisis in the near term without relying on controversial large centralised projects, said experts who addressed students at a seminar organised by Loyola Enviro Club, the Indian Institute of Public Policy and the Chennai Solidarity Group. The seminar titled “Coal-free, Nuclear Free: Tamil Nadu’s Electricity Future Beyond 2050” emphasised that efficiency improvements, through reduction of losses during production, distirbution and consumption, combined with rationalised pricing and equitable electricity usage and renewable energy technologies can easily overcome the existing crisis and provide for the state’s future needs as well.

 

 

Kalpana Dulipsingh, consultant with World Resources Institute‘s Tamilnadu Electricity Governance Initiative, spoke on the status and challenges of Tamil Nadu’s electricity sector. Shankar Sharma, an electricity policy consultant who has worked with Central Electricity Authority, talked about how more electricity can be made available just by improving production, distribution and consumption efficiciencies. Toine Van Negen of Auroville’s Renewable Energy Group spoke via Skype on the opportunities for Tamil Nadu in decentralised rooftop solar electricity units.

 

As the ongoing protests in Koodankulam and around the Cheyyur 4000 MW coal-fired power plant have shown, large-scale, centralised thermal plants are unpopular and can be set up only by suppressing democracy. Tamil Nadu is banking on at least some of the 17 coastal coal-fired power projects taking off in the near future. However, this seems unlikely as such projects are beset with cost and time overruns. Each of the 17 projects are mired in local opposition, legal hassles and investment problems, and there is yet no evidence that TamiL Nadu has gained any electricity from the Koodankulam plant.

 

 

Efficiency improvements and renewable technologies are not controversial, and often far quicker to deploy and cheaper than large centralised projects.

 

 

The current initiative is aimed at developing a roadmap for Tamil Nadu Government to use to address its near-term and long-term electricity needs. The organisers said that the roadmap is part of a larger campaign where the campaigners’ energies will be spent on pushing for the right solutions rather than merely fighting against the problems like coal and nuclear plants.

 

 

For more information, contact: 9444082401; 9940247063

 

 

Indian Institute for Public Policy, Chennai

 

Chennai Solidarity Group, Chennai

 

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#India – Tamil Nadu tops in Preventive Detentions- NCRB Data #humanrights

By Sruthisagar Yamunan / R Prince Jebakumar | ENS – CHENNAI

Published: 07th December 2013 07:14 AM

 

Tamil Nadu has the highest number of detenues in prisons, going by the data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for the year 2012.

This is the second consecutive year that the State has come out on top. However, the number has decreased substantively — the drop being 50 per cent when compared to 2011.

NCRB defines a detenue as a person detained in prison under preventive detention laws, including the Goondas Act.

According to the data, Tamil Nadu had 523 detenues in various prisons at the end of 2012, a few more than Gujarat, which had 519 detenues.

In 2011, the number touched 983, more than 50 per cent higher than the second placed State, which was again Gujarat with 401 detenues.

Among the 523 in detention in Tamil Nadu in 2012, 77 were Muslims. While in Gujarat, 151 of the 519 detenues were Muslims.

Caste-wise d istribution shows that 202 and 210 of the 523 detenues in Tamil Nadu were from the SC and OBC communities, respectively. This again puts Tamil Nadu in number one position as far as SC detainees are concerned, again followed by Gujarat.

The NCRB statistics also states that among the detainees in TN in 2012, 33 were graduates, the highest in the country.

The state had six postgraduates under detention, which is again the highest in the country.

Officials said the data pertains to those in prison under detention laws at the end of data collection and not the total number of persons booked under such laws in a year, which could be higher.  The NCRB data was released in September this year.

 

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#India – Tribal rights without benefits #mustread

A special lid allows non-biodegradable objects like plastic bottles to be flushed out. The excreta enters through a separate opening into  the digester tank

Over 1.3 million tribals and forest dwellers have got rights over the land they had been using for years under the Forest Rights Act. This can, in some way, be called contemporary India’s largest land regime change—from the forest administration to the rightful owners of forestland. The Act promises another bounty—access to government schemes. But six years after the Act was enforced, lives of the forest dwellers have not changed much. Not one state has initiated concrete steps to officially register the title holders in the state land records. Without this they remain what they used to be—officially non-existent.

Ahead of the general elections in 2014, Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava,Aparna PallaviM Suchitra and Richard Mahapatra travel to the forest districts of Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh to assess the impact of the landmark legislation

Owning a piece of the planet is overwhelming. For Lange Manjhi, resident of Jurakhaman village in Odisha’s Kalahandi district, it is much more than that. He grew up in the forest village and cultivated the land he inherited from his father. But he had no legal right over it. Rather, he was called an encroacher. And an encroacher has no right over government’s development schemes. He cannot even sell his paddy to government agencies, forget about getting government loan to invest in his farm.

So he felt liberated in June 2010 when the Odisha government recognised his land rights and gave him title certificates, or pattas, under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. That month, the state gave titles to 54 families over 146 hectares (ha) in Jurakhaman. Development has started to show in Jurakhaman. Its landscape speaks of the changes FRA has brought in. Of the 54 families, 24 got money from the government to build houses under the Indira Awaas Yojana.

Whether it is Andhra Pradesh’s Amrabad villageWhether it is Andhra Pradesh’s Amrabad village (seen in pic) or villages in other states with considerable forest cover and forest communities like Odisha or Madhya Pradesh, FRA implementation has been similar. Some forest dwellers have got land titles, some are waiting for it, but most are yet to reap the benefits of development schemes (Photo: M Suchitra)

Under the horticulture department’s programme, many have mango trees in their farms, a future money earner. A new lift irrigation project irrigates 24 ha of 14 families. Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), people have developed their farms. “We hope the production will increase,” says Manjhi.

“Earlier, we would sell rice to local traders at Rs 500-700 per quintal (100 kg) when government’s price was Rs 1,200 per quintal,” says Dhan Singh Manjhi, village leader. Government agencies such as Food Corporation of India-authorised markets or farmers’ cooperatives would not accept foodgrain from an “encroacher’s” farm. This year, Manjhi and Lange together sold 4,500 kg of rice for Rs 45,000 to government agencies, an unheard of income in the village.

image“Development work has been proposed for families which have not availed the benefits yet. An irrigation project is also in pipeline,” says Sunita Tandy of Kalahandi-based non-profit Seba Jagat, which works for tribal rights.

Like Jurakhaman, many villages in Odisha are showing signs of prosperity. In Khariguda in Koraput district, 46 families got land titles. Of these, 16 constructed terraces on their farm slopes using MGNREGA. “My one acre (0.4 ha) farm will now fetch much more ragi,” says resident Bagh Mudli.

This is the development potential of FRA. Till June this year, 1.3 million families across the country got legal rights over 1.7 million ha, an unprecedented achievement. Most of them got legal right over their land for the first time. In contrast, under the much hyped land reforms programme, the government distributed only 2.2 million ha to 5.64 million families in the past six decades.

“If FRA is converged with government schemes, as the Act provides, and worked properly upon for at least five years, the economic condition of tribals will change drastically,” says Giri Rao of Bhubaneswar-based non-profit Vasundhara, which tracks implementation of FRA in the state.

A rough calculation shows that each title holder should have access to 56 government schemes covering land development, subsidised homes and government’s foodgrain procurement programme. “This priority convergence with government programmes makes the right an effective livelihood programme,” says N C Saxena, chairperson of the National Forest Rights Act Committee set up by the Centre to examine the implementation of FRA in 2010.

imagePondi village in Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh is divided along several lines; some residents have both pattas and convergence, some have only pattas and some have nothing at all (Photo: Aparna Pallavi)

But the question is: have people reaped the benefits of FRA? The economic boom that these villages of Odisha are experiencing should have become a reality in 170,000 villages across the country. The environment ministry’s India Forestry Outlook study for 2020, published in 2009, estimates that 20 per cent of the forestland under government control would be with people once the Act is fully implemented. This is more than 15 million ha forestland. As many as 31 million ha forestland is used by villages, estimates Forest Survey of India. But the Act’s development potential has been least exploited (see ‘Not implemented, not converged’). Of the 19 states that have state action plans to implement FRA, none has taken up full scale convergence programme.

“Patta de kar bhool gaye”

In Madhya Pradesh’s Bhagpur village, people got titles in 2010. But convergence work is nil. “Patta dekar bhool gaye hain (Government has forgotten us after issuing claim certificates),” says resident Sundari Bai Dhurve. “We have to do land-levelling, bunding and need wells, irrigation pumps and electricity,” says another resident Khuman Veladi. “We cannot make a sustainable income on small holdings without these aids.”

FRA’s implementation is similar across the country. Some forest dwellers have got land titles  some are waiting for itResidents of Jungle Modi in Odisha were given titles to land parcels much smaller than what they had claimed(Photo: Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava)

In neighbouring Samaiya village, Chotelal Saiyam’s 4.4 ha family land was split among three brothers when they got land rights. “When the entire family shared land, some would look after agriculture and others would collect forest produce. Collectively, we managed a decent living. Now each family has to look after its own piece of land. Income from forest produce has fallen,” he says.

In Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh, convergence work has been undertaken in only two panchayats—Ajgar and Gaura Kanhari. “Even in villages where work has been done, only some people have received benefits,” says Hiralal Sarote, who livs in Katangola village of Madhya Pradesh and works for non-profit Nirmaan. In Pondi village of Ajgar panchayat, 81 claims were accepted, but only 31 land-levelling and bunding jobs were sanctioned. Only two of the five wells sanctioned could be completed. “Now the village is divided along several lines,” says Fulsingh Kewatia, FRA committee president, “Some have both pattas and convergence, some have only pattas and some have nothing at all.”

But the government has a long list of convergence work done in the state. Ashish Upadhyay, former commissioner, tribal development, who was transferred recently, says 70 to 80 per cent of the beneficiaries have been issued Kisan Credit Cards, with loans facilitated through cooperative banks. Till March 2013, as many as 54,000 houses have been sanctioned under Indira Awaas Yojana, 10,000 wells have been sanctioned under MGNREGA, and 20,000 motor pumps given under Central assistance scheme for tribal development. This apart, 7,000 land levelling jobs have been completed.

FRA’s implementation is similar across the country. Some forest dwellers have got land titles  some are waiting for itResidents of villages in Adilabad were happy to get land titles but were unaware of benefits they could claim under convergence (Photo: M Suchitra)

Titles given, not recorded

For the government, handing over land titles is the easiest step in implementing FRA. The tough task is officially changing the land’s regime. As per FRA, all forest villages, unrecorded settlements and old habitation must be converted to revenue villages. Notably, despite decades of efforts India still does not have proper records of lands.

“New titles must be recorded in government’s land records. Without this, title holders’ ownership will not be recognised,” says Sanjay Upadhyay, environment lawyer and former legal consultant with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA). “But no state has recorded fresh land titles in its revenue record. Hardly any forest village has been converted to revenue village. Everything is on paper, nothing has changed on ground,” says Upadhyay.

imageClaims of more than 50 per cent tribal households in Gunjiguda village in Odisha were rejected (Photo: Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava)“Our village does not have an irrigation tank,” says former sarpanch Ganesh Taram of Rampuri village in Maharashtra’s Bhandara district. “We urgently need wells to sustain paddy crops when there is little rain.” With their titles not registered in revenue records, they cannot avail government schemes. “This year we suffered huge losses due to heavy rains, but in absence of records, we are not eligible for government aids,” he says.

“According to revenue records, government is the owner of my land, not me,” says Vasudev Meshram of Jambhli village in the same district. “When I showed the document at the paddy procurement cooperative of the tribal development department, I was refused membership.” The state government has not demarcated his land on ground. Meshram is lucky to have the revenue record. Most of the 50 families in his village do not have their revenue records at all, though they received land claims under FRA in 2010.

In many states, convergence work has not started because of the absence of government guidelines on the process of issuing revenue record documents, says K V Dhurve, chief coordinator, forest rights, tribal development department, Maharashtra. It is not clear whether the document is to be issued in the owner’s name or the government’s, he says.

In Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, revenue and forest departments are in conflict over the status of forestland. Dispute over land ownership between revenue and forest departments is a big hurdle in the implementation of FRA. Neither the state governments nor the Centre is clear about the process of recording the rights and status of land after handing over titles. In 2011, when Madhya Pradesh raised doubts over the process of recording rights and the administration of FRA land post-settlement, MoTA said it was to be done as per the settlement rules of each state government and left it to them to decide it.

Pachlu Uike’s land in Orai village, Madhya Pradesh, was marked forestland with a pillar. He claimed his land in 2008 but the forest department did nothing about itPachlu Uike’s land in Orai village, Madhya Pradesh, was marked forestland with a pillar. He claimed his land in 2008 but the forest department did nothing about it (Photo: Aparna Pallavi)

A senior MoTA official admits correction of land records is tricky. “Every state has a different setup for maintaining land records, so each state will have to find its own way of recording the rights. The Centre cannot prescribe a uniform format,” the official says.

FRA a mere electoral issue?

The Central and state governments had electoral interests in FRA. The Act came into force in 2007, two years prior to general elections. In Maharashtra, most titles were given in 2008-09, says Pratibha Shinde of state-based non-profit Lok Sangharsh Morcha. “Now that the Lok Sabha elections are scheduled for April next year, people will start getting titles again,” she says. Countrywide, most titles were given between 2008 and 2010, the period when major forest-bearing states went to polls (see ‘Poll time to give land titles’).

Read more here-  http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/rights-without-benefits

 

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Press Release – Tamil Nadu setting up of PPP Model Schools under CBSE Syllabus by the GOI

Government of India had called for bidders to set up PPP –  Model Schools in non – Backward blocks. In Tamilnadu 356 Schools are to be set up.

In this process, the Government of India has totally negated the federal concept of our nation which is against the spirit of the Constitution of India.

The Centre has placed  the  State Governments   in the status of facilitators to help the private players who are  willing to set up PPP Model Schools to procure land and help them in all ways even after Centre’s assistance period is over. The RFG II issued by MHRD clearly paves the way for transferring public money and property to the private and encourage Commercialisation of School Education and Profiteering by the Private Institutes. As a result strongly built Public Education System in Tamilnadu will be destroyed. The Government Schools set up and strenghted during the days of Late Shri K. Kamaraj, former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu will be weakened and wiped out in toto. The depressed class will be deprived of their education with dignity.

It is given to understand that 2013, October 28 is the last date for the State Governments to send their objections to the Setting up of PPP Model Schools in the Educationally Non Back Ward Blocks in their States and in the Review Meeting that is to be held on 2013, October 30 at New Delhi decision on Bidder application is to be taken.

The State Platform for Common School System(SPCSS) pleads with the Government of Tamilnadu to strongly object to the Centre’s move to set up PPP Model Schools under CBSE Syllabus in 356 Blocks in Tamilnadu with out seeking the opinion of the State Government and to make sure that at least an officer not less than the Rank of Secretary to the Government to participate in the Review Meeting and stall the Centre’s move to set up PPP Model Schools in the State.

SPCSS has sent a letter in this regard  to the Hon’ble Chief Minister , Government of Tamilnadu.

We request you to kindly publish the news.

With Warm Regards,
P.B. PRINCE GAJENDRA BABU
General Secretary
State Platform for Common School System
No. 14A, Solaiappan Street, T. Nagar Chennai 600017
www.samacheerkalvi.in
Ph: 2834 1456

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