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Showing posts from February, 2013

Mithi Virdi N-plant environment impact assessment report ignores plight of project affect: scientist-activist

By Ashok Shrimali* 
In an authoritative move, top environmentalist-scientist R Sreedhari, managing trustee of the Environics Trust, Mines, Minerals and People (MM&P), has asked Union environment and forests minister Jayanthi Natarajan to urgently cancel the environmental public hearing due to be held on March 5 for the proposed nuclear power plant off Mithi Virdi in Gujarat. Sreedhar believes, the hearing is being held against the backdrop of “non-compliance of key aspects of the terms of reference (TOR) prepared by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) meeting, held on February 14, 2011 for the proposed Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant.” The TOR was handed over to the Engineers India Limited (EIL), who have prepared by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the proposed plant.

Yes, it is time to face our demons!

By Cedric Prakash*
(In response to article Time to Face our Demons by well-known litterateur Chetan Bhagat)
Dear Chetan,
Your article ‘Time To Face Our Demons’ in a National English Daily (February 25, 2013) was indeed very interesting. As always, you need to be congratulated for your brilliant simplicity in communicating a message.
There are several good points in your article which the average reader will surely welcome; however, I cannot help but express my discomfort, in at least three areas, at the way you have skillfully nuanced your piece.

Fresh anomalies found in environmental assessment report for the proposed N-plant at Mithi Virdi

Counterview Desk
In a fresh letter to Jayanthi Natarajan, minister of state for environment and forests, Government of India, top environmentalist NGO Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti activists Krishnakant, Rohit Prajapati and Swati Desai have said that they have found new anomalies in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant prepared by the Engineers India Limited (EIL), asking her to take steps to immediately cancel the environmental public hearing, to take place on March 5. In an earlier letter, dated February 22, two environmentalists in a demand had said that the EIA report of the Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant had been prepared by EIL without necessary accreditation. In the new letter, the NGO has said that it is not just the “un-accredited” nature of the consultants appointed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) for the proposed 6,000 MW Nuclear Power Plant at Mithi Virdi area of Bhavnagar district, Gujar…

Comment: Can we export some teachers to the Little Rann of Kutch, Mr Chief Minister?

By Pankti Jog* 
When Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was addressing students in Delhi, and he talked about exporting teachers to the world, he should have known that the so-called "Tambu shala" or "Rann shala" of Santalpur area in the Rann of Kutch of the state do not have teachers.
There are about 900 agariya (salt pan worker) families in Santalpur Rann area of Patan district. Children from these families are a daily witness to empty tent shades, which were supposed to be their school.

Problems begin surfacing in the "review" process of tribals' claim for land, says Arch Vahini report

By Our Representative
Problems have begun cropping up in the Gujarat government’s recent decision to “review” the rejected claims of the tribals’ land title applications under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), which is under implementation in the 12 predominantly scheduled tribe (ST) districts of Gujarat. According to official sources, about 182,869 claims were filed by the ST and other forest dwelling families for the recognition of their right over forest lands that are in their occupation for habitation/ self-cultivation from before December, 2005. Out of these, the government officials “checked” 1,54,657 claims, but of these only 55,025 or just 30 per cent of the claims were found to be valid, according to the latest figures have come in.

Agency which carried out Environmental Impact Assessment of N-plant not accredited: Environmentalists

By Our Representative
In a glaring revelation, senior environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah, from Vadodara, Gujarat, have brought to fore a top document which says that though environment public hearing (EPH) for 6000 MW Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant is proposed for March 5, 2013 at Navagam (Nana) village, Taluka Ghogha, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, the agency which prepared environment impact assessment has till date not got any accreditation by the top Central authority, National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET) for nuclear projects.

Gujarat budgets ignore Dalits' plight; there is no change in the new 2013-14 budget either: NCDHR

By Our Representative
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) has demanded effective implementation of Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan (SCSP) under the 2013-14 budget allocation in Gujarat State. In a statement, Vasudev Charupa, state coordinator for NCDHR has said that a review of the last eight years’ total state budget allocation under SCSP shows that up to the year 2012-13 minimum allocation figure under SCSP Rs 3926.39 crore has not been met by the Gujarat government. “It is consistently granting so less amount for community development from the allocated huge budget”, he said, adding, things do not seem to have changed in the latest budget for 2013-14, presented in the Gujarat state assembly a few days back.

Gujarat's land-use policy favours industry, undermines rights of the poor, says document

By Our Representative
A recent document, sponsored by the Union ministry of rural development’s department of land resources, on land rights of socially and economically marginalized communities of Gujarat, based on consultation with several voluntary organizations, has said that Gujarat is well-established as economically developed state, but regrets unabashed use of land “as one of the major resources” towards achieving this aim. Employing central laws for large-scale land acquisition, the document, prepared by senior activist Pankti Jog for Janpath, regrets, “Wherever the land was not available in one geographic area in large chunk, the government has acquired land through enacting executive orders during  2000s and a policy by the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) in 2010.”
The document says, “One of the major threats is large scale-land acquisition for industries to augment industrialization. The series of Vibrant Gujarat summits have started procedures like ‘sin…

Gujarat on backfoot in sending ST, SC, OBC females to educational institutions, suggests top NSS report

By Rajiv Shah In an alarming revelation, a September 2012 report, prepared by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), has suggested huge gaps in the female education levels of Gujarat, especially among those belonging to the three socially-deprived groups, scheduled tribes (STs), schedules castes (SCs) and other backward classes (OBCs). Findings have been reported the NSS report, “Employment and unemployment situation among social groups in India”. The survey (rural plus urban) results show that in the age-group 5-14, 75.1 per cent ST females attended any educational institution; this dropped to 22.4 per cent in the age-group 15-19, and further to 1.8 per cent in the age-group 20-24. If the survey results are to be believed, there isn’t much of a difference for SCs and OBCs, either. Worse, in each of these social groups, Gujarat ranks among rock-bottom Indian states as far as females attending educational institutions are concerned.

Gujarat tops in "out of school" girls at higher primary and secondary level schools, reveals authoritative study

By Rajiv Shah
This should be an eye-opener for those who have been architects of the Modi government’s much-publicised kanya kelavni show, meant to enroll higher percentage of children, especially girls, in schools, by sending the entire babudom to the rural areas of Gujarat. If details of the latest Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER), put out this January, are any indication, last year, whopping 30.1 per cent girls, in the age-group 15-16, failed to turn up in Gujarat’s rural schools, which was the highest in the country. The report qualifies 30.1 per cent girls as “out of school”, a term used to combine “dropped out” with “never enrolled” children. What is most disconcerting is that none of the 20 states surveyed show such poor performance. Even the so-called Bimaru states are better performers than Gujarat.

Poor educational, health and living conditions rampant among Valmikis of Ahmedabad: IIM-A study

By Rajiv Shah
In a glaring revelation, a recent Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) research paper, “An Assessment of Livelihood and Educational Status of Sanitation Workers in Ahmedabad, Gujarat”, by Ashish Mishra, Indraraj Dodiya and  Navdeep Mathur, has found that only 36 per cent of the Valmiki families send their children to school. As for the rest, in order to support their family, “they eventually drop out”. The report further says, “Of these, 48 per cent have joined casual sanitation work and others do cleaning work in houses near their own.”

Gujarat Muslim literacy, education experience relative decline in the last decade, says expert

Counterview Desk
A recent research paper, "An Analysis of Education in Gujarat" by Sourindra Ghosh, has reached the drastic conclusion that though traditionally Muslim literacy rate in Gujarat has been better than the all-India average, in recent years it is showing a very slow increase. In fact, if the researcher is to be believed, "Gujarat's Muslim literacy rate relative to overall literacy" has lately experienced a decline. Ghosh, who works with Sewa Bharat in New Delhi, and has extensively been involved in several education related research works, says, "According to Census, in 2001 Muslim literacy rate was 73.5 per cent", which was higher than the overall liveracy rate of 69.1 per cent.

Majority students believe girls are unsafe on MS University campus, want functional cell against sexual harassment

By Our Representative
A recent survey conducted by a group of students from the faculty of law of the prestigious MS University, Vadodara, Gujarat, 63 per cent of girl students and 69 of male students believe that girls are “not secure” on the campus. Carried out against the backdrop of up-swell of public rage against crimes of rape and sexual violence on women in India, the survey suggests that women and sensitive men across the country and Vadodara are demanding a better and human society for women and girls. It also finds out that that 24 per cent of girls and 19 per cent of boys said they have “witnessed sexual harassment on the campus.” However, they regret, “none of them have complained about it.”