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Archives for : Uttarakhand

Journalist on assignment ‘gang-raped’ in Uttar Pradesh #Vaw #WTFnews


Pawan Dixit, Hindustan Times  Varanasi, March 28, 2014

A 27-year-old journalist on assignment was allegedly gang-raped by two persons in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday night.

The woman, who is associated with a Hindi newspaper of Haridwar in neighbouring Uttarakhand and is a resident of the state, lodged a complaint with the police on Friday.

At a time when the nation is reeling under sex crimes, the Mirzapur shocker surfaced exactly a week after four persons were sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a telephone operator at Shakti Mills compound in Mumbai last year.


Acting on the journalist’s complaint, the police arrested one of the accused, who was identified as Ashwani Tewari, later in the day.

The alleged crime took place in Vindhyachal, a place of Hindu pilgrimage. The woman, along with her sister, had arrived in the town last Monday to write a story on the historic temples of the region. They were staying at a local hotel.

The woman told the police that she had gone to Ashtabhuja temple, situated on a hill top, on Thursday afternoon. According to her, she came down around 8pm and headed for the Mirzapur-Allahabad highway to hire an auto.

She alleged three persons in a white Scorpio abducted her and took her to an isolated place. The woman added while two of them raped her, the other person refused to be a part of the crime after learning she was a journalist.

They allegedly dumped the woman in a forest area in the wee hours of Friday. The woman said she reached a nearby railway crossing and informed the gateman about the incident. Later, the woman underwent medical tests at a local hospital.

“One person has been arrested and the vehicle used for abducting the victim has been recovered,” said RK Srivastava, deputy inspector general of police (Vindhyachal range). “Three teams have been constituted to arrest the remaining accused.”

Read more here —

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#India – Ban on illegal mining ineffective

Author(s): Soma Basu , down to earth
Date:Sep 13, 2013

It has only increased cost of illegally sourced construction material

imageSand mining in the Saryu river in Pithoragarh (photographs by Soma Basu)Despite the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) ban on mining sand without environment clearance, the sand mafia continues to operate brazenly in Uttarakhand. Incidentally, the state has sought clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to mine over 2,000 hectares (ha) of land.

The riverbed in the lower reaches of hills has risen up to 1.5 to 2 metre at some places because of the debris that came down with the flood waters of rivers. To the advantage of miners, swollen rivers left behind huge amount of boulders and pebbles behind when they receded.

While illegal mining goes on unchecked in the state, those in the business of construction material are earning huge profits by charging almost double for a trolley of boulders on pretext of the ban.

Soon after the disaster, chief minister Vijay Bahuguna had admitted there was a link between indiscriminate mining and the disaster that hit the state in June. In Pithoragarh district, areas like Baluakot, Jualjibi, Ghat and Jhulaghat where mining was rampant suffered extensive damages. However, even three months after the disaster, mining continues in these places.

Just days before the state witnessed the calamity the government had asked the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to tackle the problem of high sediment deposits. Such rise in riverbed would also mean rise in water levels, posing a threat to the buildings that are built very close to the river.

The state government also conducted a study on its own in May, 2013 on river aggradation and sought help from NDMA to address the problem. In the study, a selected stretch of 15 km was studied from 1900 onwards. The report of the study was sent to NDMA.

However, when disaster stuck in June, environment activists and experts claimed that it was due to rampant mining that the scale of damage was so extensive.  Khush Naseeb Khan, an activist based in Uttarakhand, filed a petition in NGT, saying “commencement of mining activities in riverbeds and other areas of the state will lead to further soil erosion and make the state more vulnerable to natural calamities such as the one witnessed recently.” He said that illegal sand mining from riverbeds is rampant as the state had issued notification extending MoEF licence periods.

The tribunal served a notice to the state government and also stayed the state government’s notification that allows sand mining without approval from MoEF. The petition claimed that this year, the Uttarakhand government, through its notifications of July 12 and August 1, extended the licence period even during the monsoons. It also claimed that sand is being mined illegally and being stocked to be sold when the notification expires on September 30.

Shailesh Bagauli, director of geology and mining unit of Uttarakhand’s Directorate of Industries, says that since there is a significant rise in the riverbeds because of aggradation, it has become necessary to clear the debris.  “The courts have not banned mining. They have simply said that mining cannot be done without clearance from Centre. So, we have sought mining clearance on more than 2,000 hectares of land from MoEF and the files are in process,” he says.

According to the state forest department data, from 2000 to 2010, 14 mining projects were going on in the state in a forest area of 3,903.24 hectares (ha). Tenders proposing the diversion of an additional 1,608 ha land for mining came in 2012 when the state government drafted a new policy for mining in 2011 which proposed that certain identified sites be auctioned for mining.

imageTrucks ferry sand from the banks of Saryu

Disaster bonanza
A source in wholesale market of construction supplies in Dehradun says that boulders that were brought illegally from nearby rivers used to cost Rs 2,000-2,500 per trolley. Now they cost Rs 3,000-3,500. The three government agencies—Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN), Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) and Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation (UFDC)—have control over legal mining in the state.

Ravi Chopra, former member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority and director of People’s Science Institute, says: “The state will never learn. The damage in Srinagar and several other places where the river changed its course was because of rampant mining.”


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#India – Two champions of people’s causes , both from Uttarakhand arrested in the name of Maoism #fabricated


Sanjay Singh : Dehradun, Mon Sep 16 2013,

The two alleged Maoistcouriers arrested in Gadchiroli are both activists who have taken up various social causes in Uttarakhand.Prashant Rahi, 54, is an engineer-turned-journalist who hails from Maharashtra and whose daughter Shikha is a filmmaker, an assistant director for Taare Zameen Par. He was arrested in 2007, too, for alleged Maoist links and got bail thee years later. He participated in labour and other movements in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh in the 1990s before settling in what is now Uttarakhand, where he worked as a journalist. He was working on providing legal aid to suspected Maoists — “political prisoners” — when he was arrested, allegedly while organising a Maoist training camp.

Hem Mishra, 30, cut his teeth as a student-activist in Almora before moving four years ago to JNU to study Chinese. The causes he took up included water, forest and land, and a shift of the capital from Dehradun to Gairsain. Every year, he would join a programme to pay tribute to those killed in the Rampur Tiraha firing incident in 1994 during the statehood agitation, say people who know him.

Mishra was arrested in August while allegedly couriering material on behalf on Maoists. The arrest of Rahi came days later, in September.

“As part of the Progressive Students’ Front, Hem used to participate in street plays and recite poems written by Girish Tiwari Girda,” says Shamsher Singh Bishta, himself an activist in Almora. “He participated in a padyatra in support of the demand for shifting the capital.”

Retired teacher Keshavdutta Mishra describes Hem, the youngest of his three sons, as “an intelligent boy who loves to participate in cultural activities”. Hem graduated from the SSJ campus of Kumaon University. “Four years ago, he was selected for MSc in mathematics and also for Chinese in JNU,” his father says. “He chose the JNU course… Yes, he is very social and a lover of music. But he has never carried home any literature that would suggest he is involved in Maoist activities.”

He says it is normal practice in Gadchiroli to describe any person after his arrest as a Naxal.

Rahi, 54, or Prashant Sangalikar — police also call him Navin and Mahesh — hails from Nashik. He won a B Tech from Banaras Hindu University in 1982, followed by an M Tech, and worked in a power company in UP’s Sonbhadra district, a left-wing extremism-affected area.

Intelligence sources in Uttarakhand cite a long history with movements — a labour movement in Maharashtra in the 1990s, work with youth organisation Purvanchal Nauzwan Sabha in UP, and a movement for rehabilitation of people affected by the Tehri dam project in what is now Uttarakhand. He had arrived in this region in 1993 and worked till 2000 as a journalist with a local newspaper. What raised suspicion that he was a Maoist sympathiser were his efforts to provide legal help to people arrested for spreading the Maoist ideology.

“Police got information in 2004 about the presence of Maoists in the forest areas near Saufutia. They found evidence suggesting training camps,” an intelligence officer said. This led to a watch on suspected sympathisers and Rahi was arrested from Nanakmata in December 2007. He was charged under the IPC sections for waging or abetting war against the state, sedition and other offences, and under UAPA for being a member of a terrorist organisation or gang.

Police claimed to have recovered copies of a magazine, Aamukh, with articles relating to the CPI (Maoist)’s expansion to Uttarakhand and suggesting it had set up a zonal committee.

His daughter Shikha, then 24, had fought a long legal battle for his release. In 2011, after his release on bail, she had told The Indian Express that the police had accused her father of having conducted training camps in villages.

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#India – Cultural Activist Hem Mishra has no links with Naxalites

‘My son has no links with Naxalites

Soumittra S Bose, TNN | Aug 27, 2013,

NAGPUR: Keshavdutt, father of Hem Mishra, the student of New Delhi‘s Jawaharlal NehruUniversity (JNU) who was arrested for allegedly being courier for Naxalites, has alleged thatGadchiroli police had framed his son in false cases.

Keshavdutt, a retired teacher, claimed Hem was actually picked up from Ballarshah in Chandrapur and not Aheri in Gadchiroli as the police claimed. “False charges were framed against my son as is routinely done by police in Naxalite areas by planting materials on his person. My son is a meritorious student and was never an outlaw as police are projecting him,” he said. Keshavdutt, who spoke to TOI from Almora in Uttarakhand, stated his only knowledge regarding Naxaliteswas what he had gathered from media.

He said that the family was in touch with Hem till August 20 when his mobile phone was suddenly switched off. “We learnt about his arrest and charges from Hem’s contacts in Delhi,” he said. “I spoke to SP Gadchiroli (Mohd Suvez Haque) on phone. The senior officer was telling me about all sorts of charges he framed against Hem which I believe were not true,” the distressed father said.

Police had claimed that Hem was arrested along with Pandu Narote and Mahesh Teerki from Morewada in Aheri Taluka on August 22. The trio, remanded for 10 days in police custody, has been arrested for its alleged connection to top Naxalite cadre and divisional committee member Narmada Akka. Police said Hem was carrying a microchip having details about Naxalite activities in urban centres. A letter and some cash were also found in possession of Hem who, police claimed, was likely to meet Narmada.

Keshavdutt also claimed his son had a congenital problem in his left hand and he was heading to Dr Prakash Amte‘s hospital. “Hem had earlier visited Chennai for treatment and had been visiting elsewhere in the country during vacations. He had already undergone surgery on his hand but was not relieved,” he said. Dr Amte said he was unaware of any development as his Lok Biradari Project Hospital at Hemalkasa in Gadchiroli had been cut-off from rest of the district due to heavy rains. “Am yet to know of any arrest,” he said.

Keshavdutt said his son had an inclination towards culture and stated that he would request son’s party colleagues to ensure legal help for him. “My son wanted to get a job as soon as possible. He was working hard towards it,” he said. The father also called Hem a helpful soul. “Hopefully cops are not torturing him for anything,” he said.

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="" target="_blank"> #India – Hem Mishra- JNU student and 2 others sent to 10 days police custody in Gadchiroli #WTFnews
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="" target="_blank"> #India- Condemn arrest of Hem Mishra, a JNU student and a cultural activist by Maharashtra Police
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="" target="_blank">CRPP Statement on arrest of JNU student Hem Mishra
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How Can Rape Be ‘Natural’? #Sodomy

The Raghavji case should generate new laws, not homophobic jokes from politicians

By Kavita Krishnan | Grist Media 

Charges of sexual assault, rape, sexual exploitation, or sex-for-favours against political leaders are pretty common. Sexual violence, after all, is about power, not desire. And who has more power than MPs, MLAs and leaders from the country’s ruling parties? So what’s new in the Raghavji case that hasn’t already been seen in the allegations against ND TiwariAbhishek Manu Singhvi, Amarmani Tripathi, Mahipal Maderna, Raj Kishore Kesri, PJ Kurien, to name just a few?

The only thing that’s new is the fact that the complainant is a man. But if one goes by most of the media coverage and the political discourse around the allegation, it is as if Raghavji’s crime is that of sex with a man, rather than sex against the will of someone.

Media stories have (with very few honourable exceptions) almost invariably claimed that Raghavji has been charged with ‘sodomy’. Not for the first time, we have had to wonder if the media has no obligations whatsoever towards accuracy? The media’s use of the term ‘sodomy’ is inaccurate because there is no crime of ‘sodomy’ in the IPC. ‘Sodomy’ is a term of Victorian vintage that describes anal sex, not anal rape. Section 377 of the IPC does hold sodomy to be “sex against the order of nature”, but Section 377 has been ‘read down’ by the historic Delhi High Court verdict of 2009, to cover only non-consensual acts. So, as in any crime of sexual violence, the only relevant matter in the Raghavji case is the issue of consent, not the nature of the non-consensual sexual act itself.

In sum, the use of the term ‘sodomy’ (without specifying its non-consensual nature) sensationally only serves to fan up a prurient homophobia.

Politicians are not far behind in indulging in homophobia. Rape jokes and homophobic jokes are rampant on social media – with prominent political figures leading the way. Sample a few of these ‘jokes’ in the sober light of reason. Digvijay Singh of the Congress tweeted a joke which he said was an SMS by an MP journalist: “Uttrakhand mai prakratik aapda aayee hai // Aur Madhya Pradesh mai aprakratik aapda ayi hai” (“There is a natural calamity in Uttarakhand and an unnatural one in Madhya Pradesh.”) Dr Kumar Vishvas of the Aam Aadmi Party similarly tweeted, “Raghavji ke baad ab rupaya bhi giraftar hona chahiye! Aprakritik giravat ke liye” (“After Raghavji, the rupee should also be arrested! For an unnatural fall.”)

So, the rape of a man by a man is ‘unnatural’? Would that not imply that the rape of a woman by a man is ‘natural’? How does one define ‘unnatural’ anyway? Isn’t contraception ‘unnatural’? Isn’t even abstinence as a method of contraception (as recommended by some religions and by MK Gandhi) ‘unnatural’? The fact is that human sexuality – in its sheer range and diversity – is not just biological, but very much social in its character. To deem some of these acts as ‘natural’ and others as ‘unnatural’ is very much an ideological act, an act of bias.

It is as though the sex of the rape complainant in this case is a license for everyone, including even public figures, to surpass all limits of crudeness, tastelessness and insensitivity. Digvijay Singh’s mention of the Uttarakhand tragedy in this context competes for insensitivity with his homophobic rape joke. In another tweeted comment Kumar Vishvas had said “Twitter ka Raghavji mat karo” (Don’t do a Raghavji to Twitter – i.e. don’t sodomise Twitter). Is this kind of rape joke ‘okay’ because the complainant is a man?

In spite of all formal obeisance to the anti-rape movement and to Justice Verma, it is clear that Digvijay Singh and Kumar Vishwas, as well as print and electronic journalists, haven’t bothered to read the Verma report’s meticulously detailed and educative chapter on sexual violence faced by lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex people – a chapter that was inspired by the moving testimonies of activists and survivors to the Verma panel.

The Verma Committee’s report discusses how discrimination and stigma on the basis of their sexual identity and orientation compound the experience of violence faced by LGBTI people. The Committee clearly upholds that Article 15 of the Indian Constitution (which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) uses the word ‘sex’ as including sexual orientation.

If discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is unconstitutional, then Section 377 of the IPC is also discriminatory and against the spirit of the Constitution, because it continues to stigmatise (if no longer criminalise) non-heterosexual sexual orientations as being ‘against the order of nature.’ In 2009, there was no law except 377 to cover sexual violence against male children, as well as adult men, and so activists only asked for 377 to be ‘read down’ rather than scrapped. Now, the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) has been passed in 2012, so 377 is no longer needed to protect children.

In the movement against rape that followed the December 16th Delhi gang rape, we had felt the need for the rape law to cover violence against men, and so had asked for the victim in the rape law to be gender-neutral (while keeping the perpetrator gender-specific, i.e. male). We were acutely aware of how common the rape of men, transgenders, hijras and intersex people is, especially in jails, police custody and caste violence. The Justice Verma report also recommended the same. But the Government, initially adamant on making the entire rape law (perpetrator included) gender-neutral, agreed to make the perpetrator gender-specific, but also turned around and made the victim gender-specific as well! The consequence is before us. The only law left to cover a case like the Raghavji one is Section 377, which still uses discriminatory and unconstitutional language and concepts.

The Raghavji case is a reminder of the urgent need to amend the rape law and ensure that the ‘victim’ as defined by the law is gender-neutral.

The Delhi HC verdict on 377 has been challenged in the Supreme Court, which is yet to pronounce its verdict. The Central Government has been, predictably but shamefully, reluctant to endorse the Delhi HC verdict and protect the constitutional rights of same sex people, seeking to leave the matter to the judiciary. One can only hope that the Supreme Court will uphold the exemplary Delhi HC verdict, and that Section 377 will no longer remains on the statute books.

When a woman is raped, remarks by public figures and media about her clothes or conduct are abhorrent instances of rape culture. When a man is raped by a man, homophobic jokes about gay sex also contribute to rape culture, trivializing the crime and being thoroughly insensitive to the victim.

In Raghavji’s case, the courts will decide, based on the facts that emerge in the investigation, if he is guilty of non-consensual sex. He will not be judged on the nature of his sexual acts. Meanwhile, all of us – and especially the media, public figures and politicians – have a responsibility to desist from rape jokes and homophobic sentiments. And political leaders like Digvijay Singh and Kumar Vishvas ought to publicly retract and apologise for their remarks. If they were to do so, it would go a long way to correcting bias and sensitizing their thousands of supporters and the general public that discrimination based on sexual orientation is unconstitutional.

Kavita Krishnan is Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA). Follow her at 


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#Gujarat- 15000 Gujarati pilgrims rescued ? #Uttarakhand

 Tales of survivors magnify the absurd claim

By Vishal Dutta, ET Bureau | The Economic Times, 30 June 2013

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi meets flood-affected peopl Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi meets flood-affected people at a relief camp in Haridwar on June 22, 2013

It’s raining heavily, its zero degrees, I am freezing and rain water is gushing down from the hills. Five of us have managed to reach the terrace, the other four died on the spot on the ground floor due to water and debris… I can hear three women half-buried in the debris screaming for help.

I need to help them or else they will die. But my legs are swollen… The entire town is pitch-dark… my mobile has last point charging… You don’t speak, just hear me and try to get help from the Gujarat or Uttrakhand government or get in touch with Central government….”

That’s a chilling mobile phone recording of a five-minute desperate plea for help at close to midnight on June 16 from Hiren Dave, stuck in the hills of Kedarnath, to his friend Javal Patel in Ahmedabad. Javal hasn’t heard from his 36-year-old friend since then. It’s almost two weeks now that Hiren and 12 others of a group of 40 pilgrims that went to Kedarnath are missing. Hiren’s SOS to Javal was just one of the many he made as the clouds burst over Kedarnath on that fateful Sunday. Through that night he and his family members ­ as well as Javal in Ahmedabad ­ made frantic calls to different help agencies in Uttarakhand, Delhi and in Gujarat.

No One Listened

“The government hardly has any presence during crises and like a fool my friend was asking me to get the government’s help,” says a broken Javal. “That night I was so near to him, but still helpless to do anything. Hiren was begging for help and the government was nowhere near.” Along with Hiren, four of his relatives are also missing, even as his wife and younger brother back home are scurrying around for help and information. Manshuk Patel is one of the 40 from the group who has been brought back from Uttarakhand. But eight of his family members are still missing.

Hospitalised for depression, Patel is inconsolable and has lost his will to live. No government official visited him; neither has the government been able to provide any information about his missing family members. Ashok Barot, 52, a head constable with a local CID crime branch in Gujarat, was lucky to survive. A high blood pressure and diabetic patient, he decided to stay back in a bus, 17 km off the Kedarnath shrine. The next morning when he saw a huge tsunami hurtling towards him, he and other passengers ran toward a hill.

“Halfway up, when I turned back to take a look at the parking, nearly 80 parked vehicles had got swept away at one go,” says Barot in disbelief. Against this backdrop of devastation, the mysterious and atrocious claim that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi rescued 15,000 from the state is black humour at its worst. “He was able to rescue only 150 Gujaratis via air,” Arjun Modhwadia, Gujarat Congress president, told a local daily. For their part, Modi and the BJP have distanced themselves from the ‘Rambo’ act. “Such claims reflect the sick mind of the politicians and the real anti-people vote politics of politicians. This is nothing but exploitation of people’s pain for their narrow vote politics even in such a manmade disaster situation” says Rohit Prajapati, an RTI activist and founder of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, an NGO.

Politically motivated claims also undermine the stellar efforts of the armed forces that had deployed over 8,000 troops to rescue over 2,000 stranded people (till the time of writing). The Rambo feat appears even more absurd when juxtaposed with Gujarat’s own disaster management set-up, suggests Prajapati. “Looking at the numerical strength and skills of the present staff of the GSDMA [Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority], it appears that the department is in coma,” he points out. The GSDMA was formed by the state government a week after January 26, 2001 earthquake hit Gujarat.

Nearly 17,000 people had died. To substantiate his argument, Prajapati points to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) released on April 23 this year, where it has clearly said that between 2007 and 2012 GSDMA held only two meetings. And the state’s draft State Disaster Management Plan was approved only in July 2012.

The report further points out that emergency operation groups to address the immediate impact of a particular incident were not created. Interestingly, it’s the same CAG report which had warned that an Uttarakhanddisaster plan did not exist. A detailed email questionnaire sent to the office of GSDMA CEO Ranjit Banerjee inGandhinagar remained unanswered. When contacted, an official at the office informed this reporter that Banerjee would not be replying.

Prajapati is fighting for setting up a chemical disaster emergency plan in Gujarat, as the state has large chunk of chemical industry ­ it accounts for more than 62% of the nation’s output of petrochemicals and 51% of chemicals. He says the GSDMA may have got some awards but does not have chemical emergency and nuclear emergency plans. For the moment, however, all eyes are on Uttarakhand, and how many more of the missing can be found. Says Palavi Patel, elder sister of Hiren: “The real test of any government’s potency is during catastrophes and not during good times with food security bills and employment schemes.”

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#India – Why Narendra Modi behaves like larger-than-life Rambo

This Pic is by Amir Rizvi

This Pic is by Amir Rizvi

Economic Times, Kigshuk Nag, 28 Jun, 2013
Narendra Modi hasn’t formally studied economics or sociology, but he sure has intimate knowledge about the theory of expectations.

In essence, the theory suggests that a person will decide to act in a way that will lead to the fulfilment of what he expects to happen.

So, Modi knows that if electors can be convinced to believe that he will win in 2014, they will actually vote for him. Thus, his whole effort now is to convince theelector that he alone will be the victor.

Though given to talking big for a long time – lately earning him the epithet of feku – this is the real reason for Modi for projecting himself as a Rambo who rescued 15,000 Gujarati pilgrims from Uttarakhand in a day.

The logic works like this: if a particular elector believes that electors in general are convinced that Modi is a Rambo, he will expect them to vote for the Gujarat chief minister and make him the winner.

This, in turn, will induce this particular voter to be in tune with the general mood and plump for Modi (unless he has specific reservations).

Expand this particular voter to the universe of all voters and it is easy to figure out how a general expectation that Modi will win can lead to his actual victory.

Of course, the reverse is also true. A general belief that he cannot win will induce non-committed voters to cast their franchise for someone else. Modi is also using the expectation theory when he warns CBI officers that the government could change in the near future. Read this as, proceed gingerly in the Ishrat Jahan case and do not cross me because tomorrow I willbe your boss.

As a matter of strategy, Modi is also using the theory of expectations along with the public mood in the country that is for “change”. The mood for change first became clear from the massive support garnered by Anna Hazare in 2010-11. Hazare’s enormous popularity was because people saw him as the change agent. But this was short-lived because people soon realised that Hazare could not deliver on the change that they wanted. Actually, the people also do not know the “change” that they seek.

Modi is cognisant of this and is offering himself as the change agent.

The task of Modi’s spin doctors will be to build more attributes for the man, so that they tend to align with the change that the people want. Some changes that people want are fairly clear: they want an honest, transparent regime.

That such a revolution cannot take place in India through our defective electoral system – where loads of moolah is needed – may be known to analysts but not to the common man.

Thus, Modi’s men will project him as clear-as-a-crystal leader who delivers on his promises without fear and prejudice. At the same time, they will de-emphasise some of the attributes that have stuck to Modi.

The most obvious of them is his being anti-minority. To counter this, BJP proposes to produce a vision document for minorities.

Slowly, Modi is also being seen as a handmaiden of big business. As evidence of this, last week, a huge crowd of farmers rode into Ahmedabad in trucks, tractors and trailers protesting the Modi government move to forcibly acquire 50,887 hectares of farm land for a special investment region. Expect Modi nowto become pro-farmer.

Modi’s biggest apprehension, however, is that the 2014 elections becoming a referendum on him. This is in spite of Modi revelling in being perpetually in public gaze and nothing can be a bigger ego-booster than a national election exclusively focused on him. A poll where Modi is pitted against Rahul Gandhi or Manmohan Singh is less difficult for him to manage considering the Congress’ two-term anti-incumbency effect.

But a battle that becomes a choice, want Modi or don’t want him, can become an almost insurmountable obstacle for Modi to cross.

This is because many who prefer Modi to Rahul will pause and evaluate carefully whether they want Modi at all. Many who will give the thumbs down to Rahul will not approve of Modi in isolation because they know he is a feku, projecting a larger-than-life image of himself.

The writer is resident editor, Hyderabad, The Times of India


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Press Release- #Uttarakhand- We cannot ignore the climate crisis anymore!




We cannot ignore the climate crisis anymore!



25 June 2013


The India Climate Justice collective notes with deep anguish the devastating loss of life, livelihoods, and homes in Uttarakhand and beyond. The death toll is likely in the thousands, way beyond current official figures. We extend our deep condolences to the families and friends of those killed, and our support to those still fighting for survival, and to local populations whose livelihoods will take years to rebuild.


This tragedy was triggered by extreme unseasonal rains in North India, 2-3 weeks in advance of what is normal for this region. The Director of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Dehradun, said that 340 mm fell in a single day at Dehradun, a record not seen for five decades. Such extreme and unseasonal rainfall seems to us to indicate a global warming induced climate change phenomenon. Warmer air due to global warming has the capacity to hold more moisture, leading to more intense bursts of rainfall. The natural monsoon cycle in India has already been badly disrupted, and a new cycle of extreme rainfall events and prolonged droughts have been reported from all over the country in the recent past. Thus, contrary to statements by senior politicians, the Uttarakhand disaster is not natural: it is no less man-made than the other contributors to the tragedy. And if it is indeed induced by global warming, similar catastrophes could recur with increasing frequency and intensity anywhere in the country in the coming years.


In Uttarakhand, a chaotic process of ‘development’ that goes back many years exacerbated the effects of this extreme rain. Extensive deforestation of mountain tracts, by the state and more recently due to ‘development’ projects, led to soil erosion and water run-off, thus destabilizing mountain slopes and contributing to more intense and frequent landslides and floods. Unchecked hill tourism has resulted in the huge growth of vehicular traffic, spread of roads not suitable to this mountainous terrain, and the construction of poorly designed and unregulated hotels and structures, many near rivers. Sand mining along river banks has intensified water flows into rivers.


Most of all, the construction and planning of hundreds of small, medium and large dams across the Himalayan states from Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the northern Himalayas to Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the east, have destabilized an already fragile ecosystem and threatened biodiversity. A staggering 680 dams are in various stages of planning, or construction in Uttarakhand alone! These dams have a direct connection with the extent of the damage that can be caused in such flooding events, in that the tunnelling and excavation in the so-called run-of-the-river projects cause huge and unregulated dumping of excavated debris into river basins, leading to increased siltation, and in turn aggravating the flood situation. The electrical power generated by these dams will be consumed by urban elites elsewhere. It is ironic that these dam projects, while adversely impacting people’s access to their river commons, claim to be climate change solutions in the guise of renewable and green energy, and have already made huge profits by fraudulently claiming CDM (clean development mechanism) status. In 2009, the CAG had warned the government of Uttarakhand that the “potential cumulative effect of multiple run-of-the-river projects can turn out to be environmentally damaging”. Like many other warnings by environmentalists and local community groups in the past, this was also ignored. And now we are facing one of the biggest disasters that the country has seen in decades.


The central government of India and various state governments, including the govt of Uttarakhand, have prepared action plans for combating climate change. Any such plan ought to include the establishment of a disaster-prediction and warning mechanism. The Uttarakhand government has taken no measures to prepare for this kind of eventuality, though it has paid lip service to climate action plans over the last three years.  In the present case, the IMD issued inadequate warning, which was disregarded by the state government. An urgent prior warning could have ensured that pilgrims don’t move forward and retreat to relative safety, that locals reduce their exposure to risk to the extent possible. Thousands of pilgrims from different states, locals, workers in hotels and dharamshalas, and transport animals have been killed. Cars with people inside them were washed away. Those who have survived had to go without food for several days. Thousands are still stranded at different points, or in forests, and we are still counting the dead.


There has also been extensive devastation of local lives and the regional economy. Serious devastation has been reported from over 200 villages, so far. Innumerable locals, including agricultural workers, drowned in the raging waters or were submerged under mud and debris. Houses have collapsed or been washed away. Tourism and the local employment it generates have been hit indefinitely at the peak of the tourist season. Floods, landslides and debris have devastated agriculture along the rivers. Irrespective of whether these extreme rains are due to climate change or not, this is what a climate change world in the Himalayas looks like. This devastation is a glimpse into a climate uncertain future.


We see this tragedy as a result of cumulative and widespread injustice and wrongdoing: not only against the Himalayan environment, but also against mountain communities whose survival depends on that environment. This tragedy is also a crime, because our policy makers and administrators are also part of the larger climate injustice at a global scale that threatens, displaces and kills the marginal and the poor everywhere. On another plane, they simply let it happen. We believe that adaptation to disasters does not just mean desperate rescue work during and after the event, but also reducing vulnerability and risk before. Effective adaptation involves a series of measures that need to be adopted on a war footing. The sustainable development of a hill economy, and equity – not profit for a few – should be at its core.


India Climate Justice demands:


·         That the governments at the central and state level retreat to a low carbon pathway of development that has equity, decent employment, and sustainability at its core.


·         That the planning and construction of dams in the entire Indian Himalayas be reviewed, and all construction be halted until such a review is carried out.


·         That the use of explosives in all such infrastructure development works is completely stopped.


·         That, given the likelihood of extreme rainfall events and other climate extremes in the future, extensive and sub-regional warning systems are put in place urgently across all the Himalayan states, the coastal areas and beyond.


·         That a proper assessment of the carrying capacity of specific ecosystems is carried out.


·         That the eco-sensitive zone measures be implemented from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi and eco-sensitive zones be established in other river valleys.


·         That a river regulation zone be enforced such that no permanent structures are allowed to be constructed within 100 metres of any river.


·         That the residents and their organizations are thoroughly consulted in a democratic plan on climate change, in the revival of the local hill economy, and the generation of decent employment.


·         That all working people be compensated for the loss of life and livelihood, and that urgent plans are put in place for the revival of local livelihoods and agriculture.


·         That the central government learn from the Uttarakhand catastrophe to put in place prior adaptation measures not just for the mountainous regions but beyond, for coastal and the drought-prone interiors as well.







Endorsing Organizations

All India Forum of Forest Movements; Pairvi; Beyond Copenhagen; South Asia Network of Dams, Rivers and People; National Alliance of People’s Movements; Himalaya Niti Abhiyan; New Trade Union Initiative; All-India Union of Forest Working People; Chintan; Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha; Toxics Watch Alliance; Nadi Ghati Morcha, Chhattisgarh; Rural Volunteers Centre, Assam; Vettiver Collective, Chennai; Himal Prakriti, Uttarakhand; Maati, Uttarakhand; Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti; River Basin Friends (NE); India Youth Climate Network; Intercultural Resources; Kabani, Kerala; Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh; National Cyclists Union, India; Equations; Posco Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi; Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives; Science for Society, Bihar; Nagarik Mancha; SADED; JJBA, Jharkhand; BIRSA; Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee; Adivasi Mulvasi Astitva Raksha Manch; National Adivasi Alliance; Bank Information Centre; Focus on the Global South; Jatiyo Sramik Jote, Dhaka; Jharkhand Jungle Bachao Andolan; People’s Union for Democratic Rights; All India Students Association; All India Progressive Women’s Association



Badri Raina, Kamal Mahendroo, Benny Kuruvilla, Subrat Sahu, Arun Bidani, Saurav Shome, Amitava Guha


India Climate Justice is a collective comprising social movements, trade unions, other organizations and individuals. It was formed in 2009 to respond to the growing climate crisis, from a perspective of justice and equity.

Email[email protected]

Tel:  09434761915, 09717771255, 09910476553

  • #India #Uttarakhand Undone by rampant mining, illegal buildings (


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#India – #Uttarakhand Undone by rampant mining, illegal buildings

Issue Date:

Uttarakhand government has made no attempt to enforce mining and building regulations in the state, which exacerbated flood’s impacts

imagePhotograph: Sowmik Mukherjee

In the decade that followed grant of statehood to Uttarakhand in 2000, the state’s development priorities changed. Infrastructure and real estate development, triggered by the cash flow from tourism, have led to indiscriminate mining of river beds for construction material, altering the fragile Himalayan environment. This human activity has exacerbated the effects of the flash floods that have badly affected the state.

The number of tourists visiting Uttarakhand since 2000 has increased by 155 per cent, according to data with the Uttarakhand tourism department. When floods struck on June 17, close to 28 million people were visiting the state; the state’s population is half this number.

Tourism stress

While the Association of Hotels and Restaurants of Uttarakhand, a private body of hospitality entrepreneurs, estimate that over 100 small hotels, mostly on the banks of rivers, have been swept away in the recent floods, accommodation for tourists remains a concern. A working paper of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations published in 2008 on the economy of the state in 2006 illustrates this shortage. A survey conducted by the authors of the paper on development strategy for the hill districts of Uttarakhand stated that annually the state has only 8.4 tourist rent houses per million tourists, 102.5 hotels and guest houses per million tourists, and 337 beds available for every million tourists. The shortage of dwelling units to meet the ever-increasing numbers of tourists visiting the state led to the mushrooming of illegal structures, some of which were constructed right on the river banks at the risk of being swept away by seasonal flash floods.

Land in Uttarakhand currently being diverted for mining
Name of the district Area in hectares Name of the river Area in hectares
Uttarkashi 141.84 Bhagirathi 104.17
Yamuna 25.22
Kamal Nadi 12.45
Chamoli 115.81 Alaknanda 59.95 + 1.3(Tehri) + 18 (Pauri Garhwal)
Pindar 26.65
Birhi 19.71
Dhauli Ganga 9.5
Rudraprayag 51.38 Mandakini 31.58
Madhu Ganga 19.8
Dehradun 63.51 Tons 9.42
Aamlava 54.09
Tehri 29.56 Dayagad 3.44
Chandrabhaga 9.82
Song 10
Bal Ganga and Dharam Ganga 5
Pauri Garhwal 67.91 Kolhu Nadi 4.02
Mandal Nadi 30
Silgarh Nadi 10.89
Ganga 5
Champawat 182.8 Sharda 100.31
Saryu Ramganga 6.21
Ram Ganga 2.5 + 14.778 (Almora) + 1.255 (Pithoragarh)
Ladhya 73.78
Almora 59.62 Swal 2.64
Binsar 3.41
Nanha Kosi 3.55
    Kosi 4.97
    Panar 7.35
    Saryu 4.9 + 3.57 (Pithoragarh) + 8.825 (Bagheswar)
    Gagas 5.01
    Binod 7.76
    Devta 5.25
Pithoragarh 34.08 Gori Ganga 1.28
    Kali Ganga 21.84
    Gori 5.61
    Dholi Ganga 0.52
Udham Singh Nagar 724.69 Bour 100.02
    Feeka 42.99
    Bahela 6
    Dhaila 30
    Koshi 304.2 + 26.085 (Nainital)
    Gaini 10
    Dabka 15
    Kailash 198.8
    Goula 12.68
    Huddi 5
Bageshwar 13.87 Dhandhali 1.19
    Gomati 3.85
Nainital 123.83 Gola 89.75
    Khaima 6.60
    Nihal 1.39
Total 1,608.9    

A public interest litigation filed in the Uttarakhand High Court by Roorkee resident, Dinesh Bhardwaj, shows there was scant regard for a notification passed by the state government in 2000, prohibiting any construction within 200 metre of a riverbank. Bhardwaj could not provide a count of the number of structures in his petition, but in February 2013 the bench comprising of chief justice Barin Ghose and justice Alok Singh ordered the state government to demolish all structures along the banks of rivers. Several structures were identified along the banks of the rivers Ganga, Song, Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and Mandakini. No action was taken; only notices were issued, says a disgruntled Bhardwaj. “Had the state government taken an action against these illegal encroachments, people dealing with these structures would not have to face such a loss,” he adds.

River bed mined, forestland diverted

Experts say the main indicator of the thriving real estate business in Uttarakhand is the way river beds are mined for boulders, pebbles, sand and gravel. On June 13, 2011, Swami Nigamanand who had been fasting for 68 days in protest against the indiscriminate and illegal mining [2] on the Ganga river bed by a local quarrying and sand mining company, died. Subsequently, former Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh wrote to the then chief minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal, to end indiscriminate mining of the river bed. Data accessed from the state forest department show that from 2000 till 2010, 3,903.24 hectares (ha) of forestland in the state have been diverted for different mining projects.

In 2011 the state formulated a new policy on mining. It proposed auctioning of various sites identified by the mining department. Forest officials at the meeting said that the state government would be able to realise a profit of Rs 300 -350 crore if these sites could be auctioned and favoured the passage of the new policy. Tenders were floated for mining sites at the end of 2012, which proposed an additional diversion of 1,608 ha of land for mining across all the districts (see table). The policy states that the first right of quarrying up to 5 ha of land would rest with the owner. Incidentally, most of the mining happens on river banks or on unmeasured land known as be naap zameen, which used to be under the gram panchayats. Until last year, about 400,000 hectare of be naap zameen was under forest department. However, with the new mining policy in place, these land parcels were transferred to the revenue department. Locals opposing mining fear that the state might divert these land parcels for commercial purposes. Mining department officials, however, have been arguing that the transfer was undertaken to prevent indiscriminate and illegal mining.

But officials of the state mining department fail to explain why mining was stopped at Tailihat village of Garur Block in Bageshwar district of the Kumaon region weeks ahead of last year’s elections, only to be resumed after a few weeks, when the election results were declared. As Tailihat’s case was documented by Charkha Trust, a non-profit working with youth in the region, it turns out most of local youth were involved in the illegal mining on the Gomati river bed. This caused deep resentment among residents who were struggling to continue their farming activities amidst hundreds of trucks and dumpers taking out sand from pits 25 feet deep. A 40 kilogram of sand bag was sold for Rs 20 in the area.

Professor R Shankar of IIT-Roorkee’s environment engineering and planning division warns that unscientific mining of sand, boulders and gravel from the river bed will cause more devastation if it is not checked. “Himalayan rivers carry not only silt but large boulders and pebbles. Sometimes during the monsoon the river spills over or spreads because of the presence of large amounts of silt. Therefore, it (the silt) needs to be removed. However, one needs to understand the course of each and every river to its specifics; only then can such an activity be undertaken,” adds Shankar.


source- down to earth


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#India – 80-year-old former IIT professor- G D Agarwal on indefinite hunger strike again


Author(s): Soma Basu  , down to earth
Date:Jun 14, 2013

‘Despite repeated assurances of government, 18 proposed hydel projects on the Ganga and its tributaries have not been scrapped’

G D Agarwal has been on fast thrice earlierG D Agarwal has been on fast thrice earlierEnvironment engineer G D Agarwal has resumed his indefinite hunger strike in Matri Sadan Ashram in Haridwar to press his demand of scrapping all hydro projects on the Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and Mandakini river basins. He has gone on hunger strike thrice earlier to protest against the Loharinag Pala hydroelectric project in Uttatrakhand which was eventually scrapped by the government under public pressure.

The 80-year-old former IIT professor, who is now known as Swami Gyan Swarup Sanand, started his fast on Thursday to commemorate the death anniversary of Swami Nigamanand  on 13 June, 2011. The 32-year-old ascetic had fasted for four months to protest illegal sand mining and stone crushing along the Ganga near Haridwar; his associates alleged he was poisoned at the behest of powerful stone crusher lobby.

Swami Dayanand of Matri Sadan ashram said Agarwal resumed his fast because despite repeated assurances of the government, 18 proposed mini and major hydropower projects on the Ganga and its tributaries have not been scrapped.

“It is imperative to maintain the ecological flow of Ganga and its tributaries. Construction of so many hydropower projects is threatening the existence of Ganga that is a symbol of India’s faith and culture. At several places, debris from construction site of projects is dumped into the river,” he said.

Earlier in 2010, Agarwal had fasted for over a month protesting the construction of the 600 MW Loharinag Pala hydroelectric project in Uttarkashi. The project would have left a stretch of 125 km of Ganga between Gangotri and Uttarkashi dry. The project work was stalled in 2010. However, Uttarakhand chief minister, Vijay Bahuguna, have been supporting two major projects—Loharinag Pala and the 480 MW Pala Maneri on the stretch of Bhagirathi between Uttarkashi and Gangotri.

  • #India – Politics of ecology , Bhagirathi river in Uttarakhand (


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