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Showing posts from March, 2013

High comprehensive environmental pollution index of Ankaleshwar, Vapi pushes down Gujarat's eco-ranking

By Rajiv Shah 
In a major expose, a top consulting firm, Prestels, which is an expert in industrial safety and health, disaster management, environmental consulting and energy audit, have ranked two of Gujarat’s industrial clusters – Ankaleshwar and Vapi – as the worst polluters out of a total 88 clusters, for which it has collected data. A recent report submitted to the Planning Commission to India by Sumeet Patil, project manager, Prestels, has found that Ankaleshwar tops in comprehensive environmental pollution index (CEPI) with a score of 88.5, closely followed by Vapi’s 88.09. The next high polluter is Ghaziabad in UP with a CEPI of 87.37, followed by Chandrapur in Maharashtra with 83.88, Korba in Chhattisgarh with 83.0, Bhiwadi in Rajasthan with 82.91, Angur Talcher in Orissa with 82.09, Vellore (North Arcot) in Tamil Nadu with 81.79, and Ludhiana in Punjab with 81.66.

Illegal mining in South Gujarat's Tapi district causing havoc to environment: Adivasi Ekta Parishad

By Our Representative
The Adivasi Ekta Parishad has strongly protested against the alleged large-scale illegal mining of soil, rampant in Valod taluka of tribal-dominated Tapi district in South Gujarat. In a representation to the Gujarat government, a copy of which was submitted to the local executive magistrate, Valod, the parishad, which is an all-India body functioning in several states, including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, has said that truckloads of soil is being transported from Mordevi village to elsewhere “without any information being provided about the area for which the permission has been granted, and the amount for which mining has been allowed.” The statement wonders if there is any record with the state government about all this.

Gujarat women's groups demand immediate implementation of the demands for justice and security

By Our Representative 
More than 50 representatives of the women’s organizations from 13 districts of Gujarat have submitted a letter of demand to minister for woman and child development, Gujarat government, Ganpatbhai Vasava, asking for taking “immediate steps for upholding the Constitutional Rights and security of women and girls in Gujarat.” Signed by more than 38,500 women and aware citizens of Gujarat, the representatives particularly pressed on the minister to implement 10 basic demands immediately, with a time bound action plan for the remaining ones. “Government of Gujarat should immediately make announcement for budget to implement the Gujarat high court order dated February 22 for the proper implementation of Domestic Violence Act”, a joint statement issued after the meeting said.

Nearly 20 per cent of all unorganized manufacturing activity in urban Gujarat has gone sick: Survey

Counterview Desk
A recent survey has made the drastic revelation that nearly 20 per cent of all unorganized sector manufacturing enterprises in Gujarat’s urban areas are sick, belying those who believe that sickness has not touched the state’s lower rung manufacturing. Indeed, if the survey is to be believed, the sickness has hit women the most, as they own majority of these enterprises. In fact, the data, which found their way in the National Sample Survey (NSS) report, “Operational Characteristics of Unincorporated Non-agricultural Enterprises (Excluding Construction) in India”, released in November 2012, suggest that Gujarat leads among Indian states in this sickness.

GoI accuses Gujarat PSU of "cheating" farmers, orders recovery of fertilizer subsidy paid to it

By Rajiv Shah 
Top Gujarat government public sector undertaking (PSU), Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals (GSFC), has been charged for fleecing the farmers by not providing them with fertilizers at a subsidized rate, despite the fact that it was bound to do it under Government of India (GoI) rules. In a letter dated March 18, 2013, the Union ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, has regretted that “the subsidy paid by the government to GSFC has not been passed on to the farmers by the company”, adding, “This (has) defeated the very purpose for which the subsidy is paid by the government.”

Inexpensive polished agate jewelry in US malls leaving a trail of death in India: Report

By Our Representative
Taking a serious view of large number of premature deaths of workers working in the agate industry in Gujarat, especially Khambhat, a recent analytical article released by America’s world news site, GlobalPost, has warned that “much of the inexpensive jewelry in US malls features polished ‘agate’ stones, which are leaving a trail of death in India.” Written by Jason Overdorf and titled “How the shiny 'agate' stones in jewelry and rosary beads are killing workers”, the article regrets, “Nobody keeps official statistics for India's total agate exports.”

Gujarat's manufacturing sector employment slips into negative; growth rate falls below five per cent

By Rajiv Shah 
Much against the loud claims of the Gujarat government of the state being No 1 in providing jobs in the country, latest figures, made available in the state’s new budget documents, have made the drastic revelation that employment opportunities in the organized manufacturing sector, instead of increasing, have actually decelerated. The document, “Development Programme 2013-14”, released in the Gujarat state assembly, shows that in one year, between June 2011 and June 2012, there has been a deceleration in the total number of employed persons in the organized manufacturing sector by minus ( -- ) 0.68 per cent. In fact, figures suggest that this deceleration has come about in the aftermath of steady fall in employment growth in the sector over the last five years.

Gujarat's growth rate in 2012-13 likely to be less than six per cent, one of the worst in recent years

By Rajiv Shah 
This piece of news should make power policy makers of the Gujarat government – wanting to put Gujarat at 11.2 per cent rate of growth per year for five consecutive years, 2012-17 – set out to think if they were not hyping out their claims a little too high. Latest information available from authoritative sources has suggested that Gujarat would be back to single digit growth for the second consecutive year, in 2012-13, which is quite unprecedented in the last more than a decade. In fact, available figures suggest, that the actual rate of growth of Gujarat economy is all set to be the worst since 2006-07.

Delhi-Mumbai Industrial corridor is about land grab, says NAPM-sponsored national convention in Delhi

By Our Representative
A national convention on Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), proposed as joint Indo-Japanese project, held in Delhi, has reached the conclusion that the project is "not about development but resource grab and corporate profit". The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), which organised the convention at the end of the month-long DMIC Virodhi Sangharsh Yatra March 19, 2013, brought together activists, supporters and experts on one platform to analyse outcomes and devise a strategy for further action. The Yatra was in Gujarat, which accounts for one-third of the project, in March second week.
Opening the session, Manoranjan Mohanty applauded the Yatris in spreading awareness about the DMIC.

People's tribunal wants Gujarat human rights commission to acquire complete autonomy from state

Counterview Desk The Independent People’s Tribunal (IPT), inquiring into on the functioning of the Gujarat State Human Rights Commission (GHRC), has recommended that the GHRC should have its own investigative wing composed by personnel independent from the security forces and not from the same police force against which cases abound. Based on queries sent to the GHRC and the latter's reply, the report underlines, "The state of Gujarat has witnessed large number of human rights violations over the past few decades and as the protector and safeguards The GHRC has completely failed to discharge its duty towards the people, was the common echo during the meet. In the neo-liberal economic era the rights have been grossly violated and the victims have not been protected."

Top Dalit human rights activist appeals for positive approach towards Dr BR Ambedkar

Counterview Desk
Martin Macwan, a well-known human rights activist, has regretted that the impression of father of the Indian constitution Dr BR Ambedkar, over the years, has been reduced to a "leader of a caste or sub-caste", and it is time one should overcome this gap. Currently in the midst of a two-month-long march for refurbishing this wrong impression, which ends on April 14, Dr Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, Macwan believes it is time for a wider support for Dr Amdrkar's views, who stood for justice and equality for all. The march, which is going to different villages and towns, proposes to end with a grand shobha yatra in Ahmedabad. Following is text of an appeal he has made for support:

Irrigation bill: Gujarat government has given "draconian' powers to government officials"

By Cedric Prakash* The Gujarat Government has done it again! On February 26, 2013, it tabled the Gujarat Irrigation and Drainage Bill, 2013 which seeks to make it compulsory for farmers to get a licence to draw water from a canal or ground well beyond a certain limit and prescribes penal action including imprisonment against the errant farmers.

Experts dig out new contentious, unresolved issues on the proposed N-plant at Mithi Virdi

Counterview Desk A group of experts consisting of Rohit Prajapati, V Pugazhendi and VT Padmanabhan, which has analysed the scientific aspects of the proposed Mithi Virdi nuclear power plant (NPP), has said the environmental impact assessment (EIA) carried out for the project by the Engineers India Ltd (EIL) is “thoroughly incomplete, studies have not been conducted properly, and the EIA withholds crucial information related to the safety of the reactors.” While Prajapati heads Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti in Gujarat, the other two are scholars who brought into question safety issues of Koodankulam nuclear power plant.

There is nothing to worry about the proposed N-power plant at Mithi Virdi: NPCIL

Counterview Desk
In a reply to R Sreedhar of the Environics Trust, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has suggested that top activist-scientist’s objections to the proposed N-plant at Mithi Virdi in Gujarat are misplaced. In a statement forwarded to www.counterview.net, NPCIL has sought to provide a point by point rebuttal to Sreedhar’s queries to the N-plant.
Query: The location of the site with 78 per cent of double cropped land for the plant not only indicates the lack of sensitivity in the choice of area for acquisition but also that the state and the NPClL are putting more people to risk, as settlements would be also too close for nuclear plant and the need for some exclusion zone need not be over-emphasised after the recent accidents and increased concern on nuclear disasters.

Govt policies for slum networking not sustainable, says authoritative World Bank paper

By Our Representative A recent Policy Research Working Paper of the World Bank’s Sustainable Development Network Finance Economics and Urban Department, “Ahmedabad: More but Different Government for ‘Slum Free’ and Livable Cities” by a team of experts led by consultants Patricia Clarke Annez and Alain Bertaud, has reached the drastic conclusion that the flow of new private formal housing of all types is very low in Ahmedabad, probably only about 10 percent of total new production, which is itself only 2.4 percent of the existing stock. Therefore, it insists, “Shifting the share of new private housing into ‘affordable housing’ through reservations or public private partnership schemes such as in-situ slum rehabilitation will have only a very small impact on the large share of the population living in slums.”

Public hearing for proposed N-plant at Mithi Virdi held amidst protest by local villagers, activists

By Our Representative In a statement, the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) has said that the illegal public hearing was held on March 5, 2013 at 10-30 a.m. at Navagam (Nana) for the proposed Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Plant “in violation of Environmental Laws and the Constitution of India.” It added, “Around 4,500 people of 28 villages boycotted the environmental public hearing following, breach of promise by government officials.” The statement has also been signed by veteran Gandhian Chunibhai Vaidya of the Gujarat Lok Samiti, and local social activist Bharatbhai Jambucha from Paniyali village, Bhavnagar district.