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Showing posts from January, 2015

Recalling Gujarat riots, US-based Human Rights Watch wonders why is Modi quiet on "ultranationalists"

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded report, Human Rights Watch, the influential US-based non-profit organizations, has has said that, after coming to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, despite his “commitment” to freedom of speech, “has not ended state censorship or taken decisive action against ultranationalist and other religious militant groups.” On the contrary, the government under him has “tightened restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)”, the reason being that they are “highly critical” of big development projects' “negative impact on environment, health and livelihood.”.

Leaders "ignoring" tribal, Dalit, other marginal farmers' cause in fight against land acquisition ordinance

By Our Representative
A senior activist of Gujarat, Ashok Shrimali, has created a stir in a closed-door Gujarat farmer leaders' consultation in Ahmedabad at Khet Bhawan, next to Gandhi Ashram, saying that tribal, Dalit and other marginalised community farmers' plight was being "summarily ignored" by those seeking to fight against the "retrograde" land acquisition ordinance. Shrimali said, this is happening despite the fact that they know it is these farmers who will suffer the most because of the recent Government of India ordinance, which has done away with social impact assessment and consent clauses.

US likely to seek abrogation of India's nuclear liability law for the sake of "market reforms", suggests WSJ

By Our Representative
Clear indications have emerged that, following the controversial nuclear deal between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the US would now insist that India should bend and water down the 2010 nuclear liability law, Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA). In an unsigned editorial, America's powerful business daily, "Wall Street Journal" (WSJ) has said that the deal was a "test" whether India would allow market forces to play a role in supplying nuclear technology, and if the "red tape" which still exists in the form of this liability is done away with.

Modi-Obama nuclear deal a "shameful capitulation" to MNCs: Indian taxpayers to pay for N-disaster

By Our Representative
Even before the ink could dry on the Modi-Obama nuclear deal, anti-nuclear campaigners have taken strong exception to what they consider as “shameful capitulation” to US MNCs like Westinghouse and General Electrical (GE), which have lined up to supply key technology to the proposed plants in India at Mithi Vidri in Gujarat and Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh. Senior activist Kumar Sundaram and former power secretary, Government of India, Dr EAS Sarma have accused the Modi government for agreeing to allow taxpayers’ money to be spent as insurance cover in case of a nuclear disaster.

Farmer leaders detained in "combing operation" ahead of Maruti-Suzuki stone laying ceremony in Gujarat

By Our Representative
Ahead of Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel’s stone-laying ceremony of the Maruti-Suzuki plant at Hansalpur in North Gujarat on Wednesday, the state police swooped on a dozen-odd farmer leaders apprehending that they would stage a protest. While one of them, Laljibhai Desai, was put under house arrest, others were detained. According to sources of the Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG), which a year ago spearheaded an agitation against land acquisition at Hansalpur (click HERE to read), the police told farmer activists that the arrests were “precautionary.”

Gujarat's Sikh farmers attacked in Kutch district, allege govt indifference, as event takes political turn in Punjab

By Our Representative
A small town in Kutch district, Loria, is once again in news more than a year after the local Sikhs settlers were attacked by powerful persons in the region in October 2013. Sikh farmers from the village have complained to their brethren in Bhatinda district in Punjab that political activists associated the ruling BJP of district Bhuj have “attacked” them. Punjab media, quoting Loria farmers, said, farmer Jagjeet Singh was “injured” though “others managed to save their lives with difficulty”. The attackers destroyed the two cars.

Washington Post focuses on Modi's estranged wife, calls her India's First Lady, wonders why she's abandoned

By Our Representative
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s estranged wife Jashodaben has finally got international attention. Premier US daily, “The Washington Post” (January 25), has taken note of her state on the day American President Barack Obama arrived in India, commenting, “She’s waiting for him, as she has been all her life. But when IPrime Minister Narendra Modi dines with Barack and Michelle Obama at a glittering banquet Sunday night, his wife won’t be by his side.” It adds, “Modi, 64, kept his teenage marriage a secret for decades during his political ascent and only last year admitted that his wife exists.”

Land acquisition ordinance: Calling it "anti-democratic", people's bodies decide to start united struggle

By Our Representative
In yet another effort to unite, trade unions and political parties came together with peoples movements in protest against the latest ordinance amending the land acquisition Act, 2013. Calling it “an attack on the constitutional rule of law”, the two-day national convention at the Nehru Yuva Kendra, New Delhi, on January 23-24 agreed that the ordinance was introduced by the government to “boost corporate loot of the land and other resources.” The participants also agreed to organize protests across the country during forthcoming budget session, starting in February third week.

No green clearance to Dholera SIR?: Gujarat govt says it doesn't have intimation of environmental nod

By Our Representative
Latest information provided by a top Gujarat government agency suggests that the Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR), being planned on around 920 sq km area south of Ahmedabad at one of the 100 modern smart cities the Narendra Modi government wants to develop all over the country, may not have received the crucial green nod for its development. In reply to a right to information (RTI) plea to provide a letter of the copy of environmental clearance to the top state-sponsored project, the DSIR Authority, a special purpose vehicle formed to trigger the project, has said it is “not available and hence cannot be provide”.

Letter to Modi, Obama: Gujarat locals seek consultation, say "no" to nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi

By Our Representative
Seeking “fair and open discussion” on the proposed 6,000 MW Mithi Virdi nuclear power plant in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, the sarpanches of four affected villages – Mithi Virdi, Jaspara, Mandva and Khadarpar – have said that before taking any decision on the project, they should be consulted. Led by Shaktisinh Gohil, sarpanch, Jasapara village, and addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama, visiting India as guest of the Republic Day parade, their letter said, they wished to “put on record” their viewpoint regarding the proposed project”.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), a Government of India company, seeks to install six 1000 MW (AP 1000) nuclear reactors with the joint support of the American company, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, to implement the project. The letter has been forwarded by influential Vadodara-based environmental body, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti leaders Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah.

Headless GSPC, propagated as Gujarat's bluechip PSU, sending strong feelers: Company is in real mess

By Our Special Correspondent
Gujarat government's premier public sector undertaking (PSU), Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) – which shot into prominence in 2005 following its loud claims of 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in the offshore oil-and-gas fields it was exploring in the KG Basin, Andhra Pradesh – appears to be losing sheen now within the government. Things have reached to such a point that not only the GSPC does not have a full-time managing-director (MD), it has no chairman worth the name ever since Varesh Sinha retired as Gujarat chief secretary in October-end 2014.

Allowing Nirma cement plant in Gujarat, Green Tribunal wants "wise use" of wetlands for "development"

By Our Representative
In a major boost to projects like Nirma Cement Plant, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) quotes the well-known Ramsar Convention to justify why even a wetland could be used for "development". Pointing towards the use of words "wise use", the NGT quotes the Ramsay Declaration as saying, “The issue of conservation of wetlands worldwide vis-a-vis development was taken cognizance of by the international community in Ramsar Convention in the following words: ‘Wetland should be conserved by ensuring their wise use'."

Assocham says Gujarat investment declined 54.5% amid Vibrant claims of Rs 25 lakh crore worth proposals

By Our Representative
An analysis put out by one of India’s top corporate bodies, the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), has sought to reveal that Gujarat’s industrial investment proposals on year-on-year basis have declined by a whopping 54.5%. The analysis is considered significant, as it seeks to indirectly contrast what happened at the Vibrant Gujarat business summit, where a claim was made that the state had attracted a whopping Rs 25 lakh crore worth of investment proposals, highest ever.

World Bank arm should have addressed concerns of fisherfolk while funding Gujarat coal project: Ombudsman

Counterview Desk
A top monitoring report on the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Gujarat, has said that the IFC should have properly studied livelihood and environmental concerns before forwarding $450 million loan to the 4,000 MW project. The report has been prepared by the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), which directly reports to the World Bank Group president. The IFC has funded the prestigious Tatas’ Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP) in Kutch, at Mundra.

Ask Larsen & Toubro to stop work for building Statue of Unity in memory of Sardar Patel: Gujarat activists

By Our Representative
Several senior activists and intellectuals of Gujarat have taken strong exception to Gujarat government handing over the construction work of the 182-metres high Statue of Unity to India’s top project developers, Larsen & Toubro, allegedly without following necessary legal procedure. Wondering why was the Gujarat government in such a hurry, a letter to the Union environment secretary by two dozen prominent citizens said, no consultants were appointed to even prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the project.

Proposed Andhra capital region: Fact-finding team questions govt decision to acquire 1 lakh acres

Counterview Desk
A fact-finding team set up by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) on the proposed capital region of Andhra Pradesh has concluded that “there is no rationale for acquiring land to the extent of land 52,000 to 1 lakh acres, as per various pronouncements, from an area which has “diverse and prosperous agriculture”. Pointing out that “a very disturbing game of real estate speculation and land sale has been unleashed”, Contending that this "defies all imagination”, the team said, in the first phase, only 9000 acres were acquired for Chandigarh, and another 6000 acres were acquired for second phase.

Koodankulam N-plant: "Discredited" Russian technology, "shoddy, substandard" equipment behind snag

By Our Representative
The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), a voluntary organization campaigning against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu, has blamed the “discredited Russian companies such as the Zio-Podolsk, InformTech and Ishorsky Zavody” for supplying “shoddy and substandard equipment and parts in a non-sequential manner”, which, it suggested, was the main reason behind a recent snag leading to tripping of one of the generators on January 14.

Gujarat fails to promote English five years after it launched programme to teach the language via satellite

By Rajiv Shah Latest data collected by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), prepared by elite NGO Pratham, has suggested that Gujarat’s five-year efforts to push English among schools has miserably failed. Released on January 13, 2015, the top study has found that just about 9.8 per cent of the children in rural Gujarat, studying in class V, could read English sentences, which is the lowest scorecard compared to the rural areas of all other major Indian states, but Madhya Pradesh (9.6 per cent). The all-India average on this score is 24 per cent, and Kerala tops with a whopping 68.5 per cent.

India's opposition streams show rare unity, speak out against the Centre's "anti-people" land ordinance

By Our Representative
In a rare occurrence, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of rights organizations, succeeded in bringing together different opposition streams in Delhi. The event was a discussion on the land ordinance promulgated by the NDA government, and how it has already begun to impact one of the most important projects being implemented – of having a Greenfield capital for Andhra Pradesh following bifurcation of the state and formation of Telangana. The NAPM had called for discussion those parties which disagree with the Government of India move.

"The Economist" recalls Modi role in 2002 Gujarat riots, questions his silence on RSS-backed ghar vapsi

By Our Representative
In a hard-hitting commentary, the influential British weekly, “The Economist”, qualifying the whole RSS-Sangh Parivar “ghar vapsi” (home coming) “offensive” and “threatening” to Indian Muslims and Christians, and “highly contentious”, has sharply questioned Modi’s “reticence” on the issue. The top weekly believes, while some reports want one believe that Modi tried to rein in the hardliners, the fact is, he cannot hope to antagonize them. After all, it is they solidly stood with Modi when he was “shunned internationally” following the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Wither Gujarat girl child enrollment fete Kanya Kelavni? ASER data show state one of the worst performers

By Our Representative
In yet another evidence that the Gujarat government has miserably failed in making any impact in its massively-propagated Kanya Kelavni girl child enrollment drive, the latest Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) by the elite non-profit organization Pratham suggests suggests Gujarat does not just lag behind other states but has also failed to register an improvement. While in the age-group 7-10 Gujarat's 1.7 per cent of girls were found to be not attending school as against the all-India average of 2.2 per cent, things clearly turned to worse for higher age-group girls.

Narmada oustees' long-pending complaints: Apex court asks Gujarat, MP, Maharashtra to act urgently

By Our Representative
The Supreme Court’s Social Justice Bench has directed Grievances Authorities (GRAs) of three states – Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra -- to urgently dispose of all the pending complaints of Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) oustees lying before it by February 28, 2015. The apex court direction came follow another order on January 9 to the three state governments to immediately appoint judges for all the GRAs, whose primary job is to look into complaints of the oustees. Madhya Pradesh has to appoint five judges, Gujarat two and Maharashtra one.

Adanis face legal challenge to Aussie coalmining venture, say it's designed to "frustrate" approved project

By Our Representative
In a fresh trouble for the Adanis’ ambitious coalmining project in Australia, the Central Queensland community organisation, the country’s Mackay Conservation Group (MCG), has launched court proceedings challenging Environment Minister Greg Hunt and the the Adani Enterprises over the approval of the controversial Carmichael coal mine in Queensland. South Asia Times (SAT) News Service of Australia quotes a statement posted on the Adani Australia’s website to point towards how the company is ragged by the latest development.

Three dead in attack reported on Muslim-dominated South Gujarat village, likely to witness major industrial activity

By Our Representative
Reports from Bharach district of South Gujarat say, three persons were killed and a a dozen others others injured following clashes between two communities in and around Hansot village. While the police claimed the "the situation is now under control" with extra force having  been summoned, the clashes took place because of a scuffle between two groups over catching the kites in nearby Ambeta village during Makarsankranti celebrations on January 14.

Adanis' ambitious coal-mining project in Australia again under cloud, with "predictions" of Labor victory

By Our Representative
If early predictions of an Australian Labor Party (ALP) possible win in the elections in the province of Queensland come true, the Adani Group's ambitious Carmichael Coal project in the Galilee Basin – one of the largest coal mine projects in tin the world – may be a big loser. The Australian news portal South Asia Times (SAT), quoting ALP leaders, said, the ALP has announced it will “halt the unprecedented financial support for the project pledged by Queensland's conservative Liberal-National Campwell government.”

Gujarat education model a flopshow: State's primary children one of the worst performers in India

By Rajiv Shah
The latest Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, brought out by high-profile NGO Pratham, should come as a shocker for India’s powerful policy makers, including Union education minister Smriti Irani, who had wished to “replicate” Gujarat’s so-called educational model in other states. The report suggests that rural Gujarat’s quality of education at the primary level is one of the worst in India. Gujarat’s just about 46.6 per cent of class 5 children could read standard 2 text, which, ASER found, is worse than as many as 14 out of 20 major states. Even so-called Bimaru states such as Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha and Rajasthan perform better than Gujarat on this score.

Narmada dam outees: Apex court asks Gujarat, MP, Maharashtra to set up grievances mechanism

By Our Representative
The Supreme Court’s newly-formed social justice bench, which has commenced hearing on the Sardar Sarovar Project case has asked the state governments of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, to appoint Grievance Redressal Authority (GRA), meant for looking into complaints of the oustees of the Narmada dam. Presided over by Justice Madan Lokur and Jusice UR Lalit, the bench began hearing on the case related to further raise in the height of the dam, on January 9, 2015.

Tribal body threatens economic blockage of Rourkela, housing one of the largest steel plants of India

By Our Representative
In a strongly worded letter to the President of India, a tribal organization operating off Rourkela, well-known township on the northern border of Odisha and popular for India’s one of India's largest steel plants, Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), has threatened to trigger an indefinite economic blockade starting with January 20, 2015. Operating in Sundargarh district, in which Rourkela falls, the tribal body, Zilla Adivasi Mulbasi Bachao Manch, has said that the “blockade” would continue till the demand for cancellation of the Odisha government move to merge several tribal areas in the Rourkela Municipal Corporation is not cancelled.

What's the cost of standing up for fundamental rights in India?

By Priya Pillai*
Sunday marked yet another black day for fundamental rights in India. Though these charter of rights are enshrined in our constitution, my experience on Sunday morning at the Delhi airport show that these are not equally accessible to all citizens.Early morning on January 11th 2015, I was to leave for London to address a British Parliamentary panel of the effects a London-based British company has on forest communities and regions in India.
I was stopped at immigration, my baggage was de-planed, the immigration officer claimed that this was being done on the orders of Government of India, and my passport was stamped with the word “offload”.
No further reason was given. On a day that several Heads of State, millions of people representing every possible cross section of society, marched for Freedom of Speech, a very poor precedent was set on the same by the largest democracy in the world.
As a lawyer and activist, this incident has only deepened my conviction to keep fighti…

Senior Gandhian, two others detained in Gujarat as Modi began summit with tycoons at Mahatma Mandir

By Our Representative
In shocking incident, three veteran civil rights activists – Gandhian and editor of the periodical “Naya Marg" Indukumar Jani, senior economist Rohit Shukla, and Gautam Thakar, general secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) -- were detained for the whole day on January 11, when the high profile Vibrant Gujarat Investors' summit took off in Gujarat capital, Gandhinagar. The trio were mysteriously picked up from near the Passport Office, around the time when they had just begun to drive to Adalaj circle, on way to Gandhinagar, about 25 kilometres away.

Virbant Ahmedabad? Sabarmati riverfront oustees offered poor quality houses sans water and sanitation

By Hitesh Chavda
Even as the Vibrant Gujarat investors' summit entered its second day, facts have come to light suggesting how indifferently the oustees of a top state-sponsored project in Gujarat's business capital, Ahmedabad, are being treated by the state authorities. Latest information at the Ahmedabad Muncipal Corporation (AMC) suggests a sharp rise in complaints regarding extremely poor quality of houses, offered to hundreds of people uprooted because of the Sabarmati Riverfront, a project tom-tommed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “model” of urban development for other top Indian cities to follow.

Greenpeace campaigner barred from going abroad, her passport "offloaded" on orders from India govt

By Our Representative
Priya Pillai, senior campaigner with top international environmental body Greenpeace's India branch, was stopped at New Delhi airport this morning by the immigration office and denied to get onboard her flight to London. Pillai was stopped at immigration and her passport was stamped with ‘offloaded’. Calling it “yet another attempt to muzzle Greenpeace India”, the top NGO said, “This is a clear and blatant violation of her rights, especially because she has a valid business visa to visit London.”

Vibrant Gujarat "jamboree": Farmers detained as corporate honchos were offered red carpet: NAPM

By Our Representative
At a time when farmers across Gujarat were being detained for demanding a fair price for their produce, red carpet was being spread for national and international corporate honchos, the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) has said in a stongly worded statement condemning the arrest of farmers in Gujarat. Qualifying the Vibrant Gujarat business summit, which opened on Sunday in Gandhinagar, as “jamboree”, NAPM said, wondered if it "is a crime to raise the issue of farmers' suicides and low cotton prices".

Child labour at Vibrant Gujarat?: "Young boys" worked late on Jan 10 around top event site Mahatma Mandir

By Our Representative
Cordoned off from all sides, Gandhinagar, the state capital where the Vibrant Gujarat investors' meet, launched on January 11, was "spruced up" by contract workers, many of are said to have been children. The photographs here, taken by a keen observer who sneaked into the "high-security" zone of Mahatma Mandir, venue of the summit, suggest how the Gujarat capital looked at night on January 10, around 9.30 pm, for close quarters. "Young boys were at work", this observer, who did not want to be identified, said, adding, "The photographs show how the area around Swachch (clean) Vibrant Gujarat spot was prepared, and by whom."

Protest letter to Ban Ki-moon visiting Gujarat: Intellectuals, activists seek justice for Narmada dam oustees

By Our Representative
In an open letter to United Nation secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, slated to visit Gujarat to participate in the Vibrant Gujarat Summit on Sunday, followed by his decision to inaugurate a solar power project on the canal of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), senior Indian activists, intellectuals and professionals have conveyed their concern over the “plight” of thousands of families of indigenous origin, farmers, fisher people because of the SSP. The letter said, these people are facing “the threat of ouster” and not being provided with “justice, despite stringent laws for rehabilitation and judicial directions”.

Gujarat farmers' leaders arrested ahead of rally to mark high-profile business summit in Gandhinagar

By Our Representative
One day ahead of the high-profile Vibrant Gujarat investors’ summit, the Gujarat government has cracked down on the farmers’ leaders attached a non-political organization, planning to stage a symbolic protest rally in the outskirts of Gandhinagar. Their main demands a sharp increase in the minimum support price for cotton. Cotton prices have become a major cause of contention between the Gujarat government and the farmers, who, according to these leaders, are being forced to sell their price which is Rs 500 less than the input cost per 20 kg.

Forest Rights Act "violated" in Gujarat: Adivasi landowners being asked to vacate land, hand of sand mafia seen

By Our Representative
Following notices served to take back land allocated to the Narmada dam oustees in September 2014 in Vadodara district (click HERE to read), now fresh cases have come to light in Chhotaudepur distict of South Gujarat, where the tribals who were allocated land under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, are being asked to vacate their land. Bringing this to light, senior social activist Romel Sutariya has accused the forest department of seeking to “snatch away the land allocated to them.” He added, the tribals are being vacated despite the fact that they are the real owners of the land as per the revenue record.

Top Gandhian questions UN chief's forthcoming visit to Vibrant Gujarat "mela" for corporate honchos

By Our Representative
Senior Gandhian and thinker Sudarshan Iyengar has taken strong exception to United Nations (UN) secretary-general Ban Ki- moon’s decision to deliver keynote address at the Vibrant Gujarat world business meet on January 11 at Gandhinagar, saying, the topmost UN dignitary’s participation in the “mela” of business honchos does not augur well with the overall UN ideology. In an article he has penned for Gujarati journal “Nireekshak”, Dr Iyengar said, among the main directions the UN is supposed to take include sustainable development, guarding against manmade and natural disasters, working against violent conflicts and for peace, and defending human rights.

Modi compares his efforts to "rejuvenate" India with Gandhi on arrival as NRI hundred years ago

By Satyakam Mehta
It was an occasion for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pat himself, going so far as to compare his claimed efforts to infuse a life into India with what Mahatma Gandhi had initiated exactly a century ago as "a non-resident Indian (NRI)". Modi inaugurated the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD) by exhorting the NRIs and People of Indian Origin (PIO) to join India’s new growth story, which he believed had only one parallel – of what Mahatma Gandhi began doing on his return from South Africa to set foot on his home soil on January 8, 1915.

Farmers' suicide: Pressure mounts on leaders ahead of rally to mark Vibrant Gujarat summit inaugural

By Our Representative
Even as the Sanyukt Khedut Sangharsh Samiti – the joint action committee of farmers' non-political bodies – has declared it will go ahead with its plan to “oppose the wasteful expenditure behind the Vibrant Gujarat 2015 extravaganza” on January 11-13, apprehensions have run strong that the Gujarat government will do all-out to crush their planned meeting of farmer activists to converge at Adalaj on January 11 for a protest. The committee has said, the “farmers' rights rally”, which began on January 1, will show its might, come what may, reaching Adalaj, in the outskirts of Gandhinagar, Gujarat capital.

Maharashtra "strongly opposed" surplus water diversion to Gujarat: Par-Tapi-Narmada river interlinking project

By Our Representative
The proposed Par-Tapi-Narmada river interlinking project, aimed at diverting “surplus” waters from parts of west flowing rivers like Par, Nar, Ambika and Auranga basins in Maharashtra, is all set to become a major cause of conflict between Gujarat and Maharashtra. Maharashtra has made it clear to Gujarat it does not have “any water to spare”. Quoting official documents, a senior researcher, Parineeta Dandekar, has said that Maharashtra has told Gujarat that waters from these west-flowing basins will need to be utilized by the drought-affected areas." This part of the plans divert "surplus waters" from different sources to  Girna sub-basin of the Tapi basin in Maharashtra, and also transferred into the drought-affected parts of upper Godavari basin in Aurangabad.

Rs 1,000 crore scam in payment to Narmada dam oustees: Commission asked to scrutinise into all cases

By Our Representative
In an important setback to the protagonists of the Narmada project, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has come down heavily on rampant corruption, alleged to be to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore, asking the state government to ensure that the Justice Jha Commission of Inquiry  looks into every case of corruption. Ramant corruption resulted from the Madhya Pradesh government policy of handing over cash instead of land as compensation to the Narmada dam oustees. The top anti-dam body, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), welcoming the High Court order, said, the court has "validated" the Jha Commission, wanting the inquiry to "reach its logical conclusion."

Canada launches child sex abuse project in Gujarat, says it will not tolerate shrinking space for civil society

By Our Representative
A top Canadian representative, in Gujarat to attend the high-profile Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas and the Vibrant Gujarat business summit (January 7-12), has said that the Canadian government will not sit quiet if the space for civil society in India shrinks. “In case this happens, we will not hesitate to tell about this to the government”, said Canadian MP Deepak Obhrai, a Government of India invitee for the two top events. Also Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, Canada, Obhrai added, “Human rights is a Canadian priority. We have pointed towards weak areas in India the spots at the UN Commission Human Rights.”

Gujarat: Vibrant PM’s global showcase begins even as petty thieves burgle, celebrate in Gandhinagar

By RK Misra*
A new year is a harbinger of hope. Optimism is the flavour of the season; so let’s go along.
Gandhinagar, the state capital of Gujarat, is glowing like the peach-coloured skin of an affluence soaked offspring. One of three man-made cities in India after Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar, it is decked up like never before. Gujarat’s first woman chief minister, Anandiben Patel has done in a few months what Narendra Modi could not, even in 13 years. She has given an absolute makeover to Gandhinagar.

Gujarat: Vibrant PM’s global showcase begins even as petty thieves burgle, celebrate in Gandhinagar

By RK Misra*
A new year is a harbinger of hope. Optimism is the flavour of the season; so let’s go along.
Gandhinagar, the state capital of Gujarat, is glowing like the peach-coloured skin of an affluence soaked offspring. One of three man-made cities in India after Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar, it is decked up like never before. Gujarat’s first woman chief minister, Anandiben Patel has done in a few months what Narendra Modi could not, even in 13 years. She has given an absolute makeover to Gandhinagar.
The city has turned spanking new and could easily be mistaken for an American creation. As it stands today purely in terms of civic showmanship, it could do the country proud. How long it can remain this way in the face of our pan-spitting and street littering ways is anybody’s guess. But for the moment let’s luxuriate in likable thoughts. The reason for this massive effort at makeover is that Gujarat’s capital, Gandhinagar, is hosting the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, normally held in Delhi on J…

Gujarat farmers' suicide: Reasons include failure to offer mimimum support price for cotton, financial crisis

By Our Representative
A fact-finding team, consisting of representatives of three Gujarat-based farmers’ organizations, has reached the conclusion, on the basis of a spot query, that farmers are in deep financial crisis, one reason why a new tendency are cropped up among them to commit suicide. A report prepared by Persis Ginwalla , Balendra Vaghela and Sagar Rabari of Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat, Saurashtra-Kutch Lok Hit Sangharsh Samiti and the Khedut Samaj Gujarat, respectively, said, as against Rs 800 offered to them as minimum support price (MSP) for per 20 kg of cotton, the minimum input cost comes to at least Rs 1,042.

Top rights activist objects to Gujarat PUCL organising celebration of Prophet Mohammad's birthday

By Our Representative
There is no end to controversy surrounding well-known human rights organization, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), in Gujarat. If earlier it drew attention from top Gujarat activists for praising RSS mouthpiece in Gujarat, “Sadhana” for its “fearless” journalism (click HERE to read), now it has invited disapproval over a recent plea it made to NGOs, individuals and mediapersons to be present in a programme to "celebrate" Prophet Mohammad’s birthday on January 4 in Ahmedabad in the name of communal harmony.

Gujarat chief secretaryship: Doubts quietly surface over Pandian's extension; Aloria already front-runner

By Our Representative
While it is still five months to go for incumbent chief secretary of Gujarat, D Jagatheesa Pandian, a 1981 batch IAS bureaucrat, to retire from services, doubts have strangely crept in among top Sachivalaya babus that the top state bureaucrat, known for his closeness to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, may not be allowed an extension. While officials say nothing can be said about this at this stage with complete finality, already, the name of Ganga Ram Aloria of his batch is being widely quoted as the front-runner as next chief secretary.

Narmada dam oustees "marginalised, pauperised"; gram sabhas "not consulted" before acquiring their land

By Our Representative
A high level panel of the Government of India, set up to take a stock of the socio-economic status of the tribals in the country, has strongly taken exception to “pauperisation” of oustees affected by the Narmada dam. Pointing out that there was complete failure to provide oustees “alternative land and sustainable livelihood”, leading to their “pauperisation”, the panel, which submitted its report in mid-2014, talks of “examples of tardy implementation, unfulfilled promises and violation of laws and rules by the very machinery expected to protect the interest of marginalised displaced tribals.”