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Showing posts from March, 2014

Two more silicosis victims die in Khambhat, taking total death in 2014 due to occupational disease to six

By Our Representative
Two more workers, who were suffering from silicosis and were working in the agate industry, have died in Khambhat in Central Gujarat. A People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), the Vadodara-based NGO which has been taking up silicosis workers' problems for the last several years, has said that who who have "succumbed to their disease in this week" are Thakor Fatesinh Rathod, who died on March 30, 2014, and Jivan Kalidas Baraiya, who died on March 23, 2014. With this, the total number of those who have died as a result of the deadly disease has reached six.

Annual Survey of Industries says Gujarat's 79% factories are "in operation", which is lower than most states

By Rajiv Shah
The latest Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) report, released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, in March 2014, has revealed that out of a total of 22,220 factories in Gujarat, 17,529 are operational, suggesting that 21.11 per cent of the factories are either “closed” or are “not in operation”. This is higher than the all-India average of 19.33 per cent factories, “closed” or “not in operation”, but is lower than two major states out of 20 -- Haryana (21.42 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (37.95 per cent).

New Gujarat government order on norms for compensation to Dalit and tribal atrocity victims "lacks clarity"

By Our Representative
In an order, the Gujarat government has declared that the tribals and Dalits, who become victims of atrocities perpetrated by a group consisting of tribals or Dalits, on one hand, and other communities, on the other, would also be compensated under the prevention of scheduled tribe and caste (ST/SC) atrocities Act. Issued ahead of the declaration of the Lok Sabha elections, on February 24, 2014, the order has come in the wake of incidents like Patan gang rape case, in which two of the five convicted for life -- Manish Parmar and Ashwin Parmar -- were Dalits. Non-Dalits convicts are Kiran Patel, Mahendra Prajapati and Suresh Patel.

Ahead of Modi's controversial statement on "Jayanthi tax", MoEF granted eco-clearance to major port in Gujarat

By Our Representative
In a major boost to Gujarat, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India, has given environmental and coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance for the development of all-weather port at Chhara village, Junagarh District, to its developers, the Shapoorji Pallonji Group. While giving the clearance, provided a week before Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi made the controversial statement, accusing former Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan of charging what he called "Jayanthi tax" and derailing many a project, the MoEF agreed with the developers' view that the location of the site “is not an eco-sensitive area”, and the “nearest wetland is about three km away”.

In a mid-night swoop, Gujarat police arrest JAAG leader ahead of farmers' agitation on Dholera SIR

By Our Representative
Ahead of the proposed agitation against the Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR) on March 29, the Gujarat police in the wee hours of March 26 arrested one of the senior farmer leaders of the area, Rajbha Chudasma. A statement issued by Jamin Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG), which organized the agitation, called arrest as smacking of “political pressure to suppress a non-political movement”. To be implemented in the south of Ahmedabad in 22 villages encompassing 900 sq km, DSIR has been envisaged as a modern industrial township in the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), but has invited farmers’ ire over Gujarat government decision to take away 50 per cent of the farmers’ land in the name of developing infrastructure.

Nearly 150 human rights activists protest rejection of anticipatory bail application of Teesta Setalvad

By Our Representative
Nearly 150 prominent citizens -- mainly activists, academics and professionals -- have expressed their “deep shock” at the rejection of the anticipatory bail application of top human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and four others in the so-called Gulberg embezzlement case by the city sessions court of Ahmedabad. The statement said, “From its beginning, the so-called embezzlement has been the concoction of elements instigated by the Government of Gujarat, including the Gujarat crime branch.” It culminated in January 2014, when an FIR was registered against the five for “defrauding the members of the Gulberg Society of funds meant for the building of the Gulberg Memorial commemorating the state-sponsored carnage.”

New data with Central Statistical Organisation suggest, Gujarat growth rate worse than 16 major states

By Our Representative
New revised data handed over to the Central Statistical Organization (CSO), Government of India, by all state governments, and in possession of Counterview, suggest that Gujarat’s growth rate for 2012-13 was 12.69 per cent (at current prices, without deducting inflation) as against 9.52 per cent, as earlier reported on the basis of Planning Commission data (click HERE). Even then, the data suggest that Gujarat’s performance was worse than as many as 16 out of 20 major Indian states, and better than just three states -- Assam (12.56 per cent), Punjab (11.85 per cent), and Tamil Nadu (11.90 per cent). The Gujarat government has not released its data yet.

Top "neo-liberal" economists Bhagwati, Panagariya say, Gujarat riots weren't a pogrom; defend Modi

By Our Representative
Raising a controversy, two well-known economists, Prof Jadgish Bhagwati and Prof Arvind Panagariya, known for what have been called “neo-liberal” views, have sought to justify Gujarat riots, saying that they were not a “pogrom” and were not targeted against any particular religious group. Professors at the Columbia University, so far both of them have refrained any comment on Gujarat riots, even as praising Gujarat’s economic growth model, and how, in their view, Gujarat development has led to improvement in the social sector, especially health and education.

"Standard error" in Government of India report: OBC rural Gujarat Muslim poverty down from 40.5% to 1.9%!

By Our Representative
Facts have come to light suggesting that there is something extremely suspicious with the data in the new report prepared by the Government of India-appointed committee headed by Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU’s) Prof Amitabh Kundu on the condition of Muslims in India. The report is a follow-up of the famous Sachar Committee report of 2006, which had pointed towards negligence of the minorities, especially Muslims, in different social sectors, particularly education and health, and seeks to suggest that poverty in rural and urban Gujarat went down drastically between 2004-05 and 2011-12.

Hurriedly released Government of India report suggests Gujarat's HDI rose higher than most states

By Our Representative
Has the Gujarat government’s “neo-liberal” economic persuasion, which presupposes that economic growth leads to automatic development of the social sector, including income, education and health, begun to work? It would seem to, if one of the latest reports, hurriedly released by the UPA government alongside the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections, is any indication. An updated version of the India Human Development Report 2011, released on March 11, 2014, suggests that Gujarat’s human development index (HDI) sharply rose by 26.77 per cent, between 2007-08 and 2011-12, which is one of the best in India!

Gujarat police "dubiously acquired" personal bank details, is seeking to divert attention from its role in riots

By Our Representative
The Citizens for Peace and Justice (CJP), the NGO fighting cases of 2002 Gujarat communal riot victims, has accused the Gujarat police for spreading “blatant falsehoods, twisted facts, deliberate jugglery of accounts and foul innuendos” in an attempt to implicate it in a fraud case. In a statement, the CJP said, the affidavit filed by KN Patel on behalf of the crime branch on March 18, 2014 that the CJP and social activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand have been siphoning off Rs 75,28,000 belonging to the CJP and Sabrang Trust for personal use is based on “falsehoods, twisted facts, deliberate jugglery”.

Gujarat model? Budget paper reveals, state's current price growth rate in 2012-13 was worse than all states

By Rajiv Shah
In a major revelation, Gujarat’s rate of growth for the financial year 2012-13 was not only below the national average, but less than all major Indian states which have cared to make public gross state domestic product (GSDP) figures for that year. Latest GSDP figures, revealed by Gujarat’s finance minister Nitin Patel while presenting the interim budget for 2014-15, suggest that the state’s growth rate at current prices (i.e. without deducting inflation) in 2012-13 was just 9.52 per cent (rising from Rs 6,11,767 crore in 2011-12 to Rs 6,70,016 crore in 2012-13). This is against the national average (at current prices) of 13.26 per cent.

Gujarat government "not aware" of any schemes which may help small entrepreneurs like tea vendors

By Our Representative
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi may be continuing with his Chai pe charcha talk show through video conferencing across the country ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in order to capitalize his “image” as a tea seller during his early days. But, if a Right to Information (RTI) application reply is any indication, the Gujarat government has no specific plans for the petty entrepreneurs who, for instance, may be seeking to eke a living out of their roadside “enterprise” of selling tea, as tea vendors.

International firm denies it works "on behalf of chief minister Modi", praises Cong economic policies

By Our Representative
A top US-based consultant which, many say, carried out Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s public relations (PR) job, especially in western countries, has praised the UPA government, fighting a losing battle against the NDA in the Lok Sabha elections. Eulogising the UPA’s economic performance, APCO Worldwide has said in a recent post on its website, “After a series of significant policy changes starting in 1991, India today is a trillion-dollar market with an enviable rate of GDP growth.” It has added, “Today, India plays an increasingly important role in global geopolitics — not only as the world's largest democracy, but also as an economic powerhouse that is coming into its own.”

Lok Sabha polls: Post-Rahul Gandhi visit, Congress all set to hand over salt-pan workers to BJP on platter

By Our Representative
The agariyas or salt-pan workers of Gujarat, who produce salt in the Little Rann of Kutch, face a dangerous predicament, hitting their livelihood. As on April 1, 2014, the Indian Railways is all set to close down the facility provided to more than 15,000 small salt producers to transport salt to the rest of India. Despite representations to the railway minister, Congress members of Parliament Madhusudan Mistry and Somabhai Patel, and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the Indian Railways has declared that the Kuda public siding in Surendranagar, which provides the facility thrice a month to transport salt, will be “closed” with effect from April 1, 2014 and “no further notice will be given for closure.”

Official government resolution on how Gujarat was made "preferred destination" for Tatas

It is a matter of general knowledge that five years ago the Tata  Motors was provided huge subsidies to shift its Nano plant from West Bengal to Gujarat, following a meeting between Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and top tycoon Ratan Tata. Ever since then, he has been hardselling Gujarat as the topmost investment destination for India. However, for long the Gujarat government kept a document which allowed the subsidy allowed subsidies a well-guarded secret. Prominent environmentalist Rohit Prajapati has now put the document in public domain:
Sanction of Loan to M/S Tata Motors Ltd. for Nano Car Project Government of Gujarat, Industries and Mines Department Resolution No. TMI./10/2008/51/1 Sachivalaya, Gandhinagar Date:- 1/1/2009

Preamble: For more than three decades, Gujarat is the preferred destination for investment in almost all industrial sectors, barring a few. As a result of the proactive role of the state government to attract investments, numbers of entrepreneurs / industrial h…

Gujarat slips badly in economic legal structure, security of property rights ranking: Pro-Modi economists

By Our Representative
In a surprise observation, top pro-Narendra Modi economists Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari have criticized Gujarat -- which they say on “many parameters is a well-governed state” – for experiencing “a steep fall” in its score of “legal structure and security of property rights”. They find, Gujarat’s score on a scale of 0 to 1 for this has been constantly going from 0.54 in 2009 and 0.52 in 2011 to “just 0.39”, pushing its ranking from No 4 to No 9. The main parameters taken into account while analyzing “legal structure and security of property” include “the efficiency of the government in protecting human life and property”.

Zakia files criminal revision application in High Court, says magistrate's "clean chit" to Modi has no basis

By Our Representative
Slain MP Ehsan Jafri’s widow Zakia Ahsan Jafri has filed criminal revision application before the Gujarat High Court challenging the order of the metropolitan magistrate rejecting her protest petition seeking top “arraign” BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and 59 others on charges of “criminal conspiracy, abetment to commit mass murder, arson and rape and also tamper with evidence and destroy valuable records of the Gujarat home department.” She filed the revision appeal on March 15, 2014, which is expected to come up for hearing on March 20, 2014.

Setback to BJP prime ministerial candidate's propaganda? WikiLeaks "never said" Modi was incorruptible

By Our Representative In a series of tweets from its Twitter account, the official WikiLeaks has said that Julian Assange, Australian publisher and journalist, who is editor-in-chief and founder of WikiLeaks, never submitted that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was incorruptible. Releasing an explosive piece of information by digging out the tweets, a Gujarat-based website run by a prominent anti-Modi advocate, Mukul Sinha, has said that with these tweets, Modi’s lie that the US called him an incorruptible politician stands “completely exposed.”

Delhi, Maharashtra lead in air travel mobility, teledensity. Kerala, TN "fair better" than Gujarat: CMIE

By Our Representative
In a new analysis, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the country’s powerful independent statistical organization, has sought to debunk the claim that Gujaratis and Bengalis are among the most mobile people of India. In its latest analysis, carried out by CMIE expert Mahesh Vyas, it has said, “Air passengers from West Bengal were 118 thousand per million population and those from Gujarat were 85,000 per million population. In comparison, Maharashtra had a traffic of 304 thousand per million population and Kerala was 285 thousand.”

Commentary. Rights activist's experience of an unreserved compartment: India in diversity, pluralism

By Fr Cedric Prakash*
It has been a long and eventful day for me, culminating in a train journey. Although I still have a fever and feel rather exhausted, here I am putting this down as I promised a lady on the train that I would write and tell the world of her magnanimous gesture...
A rally had been organised by SOUL (Save Our Land) at the Azad Maidan in Mumbai to protest the Church land acquisitions. I was one of the speakers invited to address the people gathered. The crowds were much more than the organisers had expected.

Development model? Half of Indian states' households have higher purchasing power than Gujarat: NSS

By Rajiv Shah In what many may consider as another “expose” of the Gujarat development model sought to be sold across the country during the Lok Sabha elections, the latest National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report, “Level and Pattern of Consumer Expenditure, 2011-12”, released in February 2014, has revealed that the average spending capacity of Gujarat households, as reflected in monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE), is lower than 11 out of 20 major states in the rural areas and nine out of 20 major states in the urban areas.

Environmental body wonders why is Gujarat govt refusing to send 1,700 projects to Centre for eco-clearance

By Our Representative
In a fresh move, Gujarat’s top environmental body Paryavaran Mitra has wondered why is the Gujarat government reluctant to send more than 1,700 projects to the Government of India for environmental clearance pending delay in the formation of the State-level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) of the Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA). Saying that the delay has stalled implementation of these projects, most of which are of small scale nature, Paryavaran Mitra said, the law is very clear that in case SEAC is not formed, projects should be sent to the Centre.

London School of Economics meet alleges "fascistic project" is at work to target minority women in India

By Our Representative
A recent meeting at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) is learnt to have reached the conclusion that India, facing general elections, is “on the brink of a dangerous crossroads”, because, it felt, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, as representative of the “rightwing BJP” and allegedly “implicated” in the “massacres of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002”, has fair chances of winning.” The meeting was organised by UK’s Freedom without Fear Platform in collaboration with the LSE Gender Institute and South Asia Solidarity Group.

There is disrespect of freedom of religion or belief in Gujarat, says UN official Heinel Bielefeldt

By Our Representative Senior United Nations (UN) official Heiner Bielefeldt has sharply criticized the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, which says that “a person who wants to convert to another religion must first get permission from the district magistrate to do so”. Calling this as an “unreasonable restriction not only on people’s right to convert to another religion, but also their right to propagate their own religion”, Bielefeldt, who is UN special rapporteur on religious freedom, and examined similar anti-conversion laws across different states, has particularly taken strong exception to the law in Gujarat.

Modi govt enabled Gujarat's Adani group to prosper by giving away land dirt cheap: Forbes Asia

By Our Representative
The world’s powerful business journal, Forbes Asia, in its latest issue (March 24, 2014), in an article titled “Doing Big Business in Modi's Gujarat”, has accused the Narendra Modi government of handing over Gujarat’s Adani Group cheap land, on which it “has built his cash cow – the country’s private port by volume, as well as a 4,620-megawatt coal-fired power plant.” Adani has, says the journal, “over the years, leased 7,350 hectares–much of which he got from 2005 onward from the government in Mundra in the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat.”

Five killed at Alang shipbreaking yard, but authorities in Gujarat refuse action against past culprits: TWA

By Our Representative
Top environmental group Toxics Watch Alliance (TWA) has quoted "authentic sources" to say that as many as five workers, all of them migrants, were crushed to death at the Alang Shipbreaking Yard, along the beach of Bhavnagar in Gujarat, as a result of an accident at Plot No 20.This is against the official sources who said only two have died in an accident on march 11 late evening. TWA’s Gopal Krishna has reported, “I spoke to the officials in Gujarat and have reliably learnt that a total of 5 workers suffered during the fatal  accident after an iron plate fell on them.” He adds, “Three other workers are also in a critical condition and have been admitted in a private hospital in Bhavnagar by the plot holder.”

Highway Authority report for Vadodara-Mumbai expressway wants clearances for Ganga Expressway, UP!

By Our Representative
A recent letter by Gujarat’s environmental organization, Paryavaran Mitra, to Dr V Rajagopal, secretary, ministry of environment and forests, Government of India, has revealed roughshod manner in which Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports for different developmental projects are prepared in India. Referring to the EIA report proposed by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for the Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway Project, the top environmental group has said, “The consultants for the NHAI have done a simple copy paste job", and “taken shortcut by copying and pasting the project descriptions from similar project of Ganga Expressway.”

Gujarat police allegation against Teesta Setalvad about embezzlement of funds is "malicious": CJP

By Our Representative
Trustees of the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), fighting a crucial battle against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s alleged complicity in 2002 riots, have condemned what they call “malicious lies" being spread by the Gujarat government in "misleading" courts of law about the CJP ‘cheating’ victims of the riots. The statement is in response to the Gujarat police, which told the Bombay high court, opposing the petition filed by social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband seeking quashing of an FIR against them for alleged misappropriation of funds, that the duo had indeed cheated victims of 2002 Godhra riots and "embezzled funds" in their name. Prosecution probing "embezzlement" Ajay Choksi simultaneously told the sessions court in Ahmedabad that Setalvad should be "quizzed" in custody to set an example (click HERE).

Impact of 2002 riots: Gujarat has "long way to go" to catch up with "industrial leader" Maharashtra: CMIE

By Rajiv Shah
The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), India’s topnotch independent economic thinktank headquartered in Mumbai, has suggested that half-a-dozen biennial Vibrant Gujarat business summits sponsored by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to whitewash the impact of the 2002 communal riots have failed achieve their desired result. In a recent commentary, it has said, the Gujarat industrial investment was severely hit “following the 2002 riots”, and the result was, the “net capital formation was negative for three consecutive years following the riots.”

Return land "illegally" allocated to Maruti, or face protests outside Gujarat: Hansalpur residents

By Our Representative
In a signed letter to the district collector, Ahmdabad, several villagers have said that land allotment to Maruti India Ltd in village Hansalpur has been carried out "in violation of their land rights." Wanting the district collector to order stoppage of the construction of a boundary wall around the land allocated to Maruti at a time when the matter is yet sub judice, the letter says, “We feel that a grave injustice is being done to us.” Originally given to to Maruti India Ltd, the land is being transferred to Suzuki Co Ltd for reasons which have still not been made public.

Setback to N-ambition? Village panchayats' meet turns Mithi Virdi-Jasapara area into Nuclear Free Zone

By Our Representative
In a development which is likely to have far-reaching impact on the proposal to develop an ultra mega nuclear power plant on the southern Saurashtra coast of Gujarat, the gram panchayats of five villages have passed a resolution declaring the entire Mithi Virdi-Jasapara region as Nuclear Free Zone.” In a statement, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Gujarat’s environmental body, has said, “This is the area where the Manmohan Singh-Narendra Modi governments have planned in tandem to set up 6,000 MW of nuclear power plant, spread over 777 hectares of prime agricultural land, against which the local villagers have led a consistent, vocal protest.”

Kejriwal's four days in Gujarat to get a whiff of Big B's multi-crore commercial Khushboo Gujarat Ki

By Nachiketa Desai* Big B of Bollywood beckons one and all to spend at least two days in Gujarat to feel the fragrance of Modiland. A 56-inch chest-thumping Narendra Modi woos the voters of Banaras saying, "Give me 60 months as Prime Minister, I will end all the woes of the weavers by setting up artificial silk making powerlooms just as in Surat,"
Arvind Kejriwal decides to spend not just two but four days in Gujarat to get a whiff of the fragrance AB is talking about in his multi-crore-rupee TV commercial, 'Khushboo Gujarat Ki'. He comes to Gujarat as a common man. There is no frill of flags, banners and loudspeaker. He travels in a car to North Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch, meeting village folks, men and women. He listens to them patiently, taking notes painstakingly.
A posse of policemen, in uniform and without, trailed him, walkie-talkie in hand, reporting his minute-to-minute movement to the 'Saheb' in Gandhinagar. Kejriwal stops at a village, some 100 …

NIOH, Ahmedabad, "not competent" to judge if workers suffering from occupational disease be compensated

By Our Representative
Strongly responding to Gujarat government’s decision not to accede to its demand for including two important occupational diseases in the list of those that can invite compensation under the employees’ compensation Act, Vadodara-based NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC) has protested against the manner in which the decision was taken.

AAP leader came to know of Narendra Modi's "real face" after the two met in 2010: Kejriwal aide

By Our Representative
Following his Gujarat trip, and what would some term as his unprecedented attack on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi during his four-day visit to the state, has Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal's “liking” for the BJP prime ministerial candidate come to a final end? As earlier reported (click HERE to read), Kejriwal was quite “impressed” by Modi ahead of the launch of India Against Corruption (IAC) in 2011, so much so that he, after great difficulty, managed an appointment with the Gujarat CM. It is quite another things that tables have turned now; he went to Modi residence straight dare the CM and ask difficult questions, without the need for an appointment, only to be stopped by cops 5 km away.

Modi's Chai Pe Charch on women: Answer crucial issues, accept demands to end violence, says Sahiyar

By Our Representative
A top Varodara-based women’s group, Sahiyar Stree Sangathan, has alleged that the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who is doing Chai Pe Charcha on International Women’s Day, March 8, from Delhi, is “nothing but yet another match-fixing gimmick by his spin masters, where he will answer few ‘pre-selected’ questions from ‘pre-selected women’ to show that he is addressing the actual concerns of Indian women." In its statement, Sahiyar said, Modi should "stop comparing" Gujarat women's safety with UP and Delhi, as women in Gujarat moved around freely before he came to power.

Gujarat ranks ninth in economic growth rate, is behind UP, West Bengal in contribution to national GDP

Counterview Desk
A top financial consulting firm, Unidow Finances Intelligence Services, has, in its recent analysis, ranked Gujarat No 9th in the percentage of growth in gross state domestic (GSDP). While Gujarat’s growth at current prices in 2012 – for which he made public data – was 15.33 per cent, the states which performed better that Gujarat were Maharashtra (16.86 per cent), Rajasthan (21.91 per cent), Kerala (16.97 per cent), Haryana (16.06 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (19.02 per cent), Bihar (24.40 per cent), Chhattisagarh (18.26 per cent), and Jammu & Kashmir (15.80 per cent).

Gujarat govt refuses compensation for serious occupational diseases causing permanent disability, death

By Our Representative
The labour and employment department, Government of Gujarat, in a letter to Vadodara-based NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), has refused to give in the demand that musculoskeletal diseases (MSD) and the diseases caused due to exposure to polyacrylate should be considered occupational diseases. Gujarat’s premier occupation health NGO, PTRC had demanded that the schedule III of the Employees’ Compensation Act, should be amended to include these diseases in the list for which workers can demand compensation.

Greenpeace's new salvo against industry group Adanis' Aussie coalmining project: Save endangered bird

Counterview Desk
In a fresh attack on Gujarat’s powerful Adani group, which in one of its world’s most high-profile operations is contracted to mine a top coalfield in Australia, the international environment body Greenpeace has asked the Aussie government’s federal environment minister Greg Hunt to use his powers “to immediately order an investigation into the potential impacts of exploration activities by the Indian coal giant”.

Gujarat govt "revives" controversial 2009 plan to lay down underground Narmada pipelines in command area

By Rajiv Shah
Rattled by its failure to take on hand the work to construct what are called “sub-minor” canals to take Narmada waters right up to the farmers’ fields, the Gujarat government is all set to revive its 2009 plan, devised by then Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) chairman NV Patel, who said an underground water pipeline grid network alone was the solution of the tangled problem. Patel’s view was rejected later by a high-level committee appointed by the state government, which dropped it like a hot potato, declaring it is not implementable. However, now the state government wants to once again return it to irrigation 18 lakh hectares (ha) of Narmada command.

Right to food? Computerized biometric system, bar-coded cards "hinder" Gujarat villagers' access to ration

By Our Representative
Gujarat government’s attempt to “universalize” computerized bar-coded ration cards is starting to falter. A just-concluded workshop in Ahmedabad by the Anna Adhikar Surkasha Abhiyan, India’s premier right to food campaign body, has suggested that, despite loud claims about two years ago, people are resenting the new method because of its failure to provide any foolproof method to get subsidized food from ration shops in villages and towns. Grassroots activists complained of uncalled for delay in getting foodgrains because of lengthy procedures, poor working of computers scanning bar-codes on ration cards, and no alternative mechanism for migrants.

Arundhati Roy digs out new chapter in Mahatma Gandhi's life: His dislike for "uncivilised" Africans

By Our Representative
In a controversial write-up, top Magsasay awardee writer Arundhati Roy has suggested that the roots of Gandhi’s views on maintaining caste hierarchy in his dislike towards the blacks in Africa during his stay in South Africa in the early 20th century. Roy, in a well-researched article in a known monthly journal (click HERE), points towards how, during the the Boer War, which broke out in 1901 Gandhi opposed siding with the local Zulus, and speak in at the Natal Indian Congress talked of “a better understanding between the English and the Indians.”

Realty retail: Ahmedabad is not among top seven Indian cities, comparable to cities in transition in China

Counterview Desk
Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) – a consulting firm with headquarters in Chicago and presence in 70 countries across the world and involved in commercial real estate services and investment management – has not included Ahmedabad in the top seven cities of India, which are “comparable to some of the Chinese cities that are in transition.” Titled “Retail Realty in India: Evolution and Potential: A Comparison and Contrast with the Emerging Cities of Asia”, the firm’s study has ranked Ahmedabad No 8 in the list of 10 top cities selected for real estate retail.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Rajiv Shah
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s tallest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response from top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”