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29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

Himachal hydro projects on major rivers "cleared" sans local nod, pollution control bodies' role "diluted": Govt told

Surlej
By Our Representative
A top civil society source has revealed that the Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) studies of  several big and small hydropower projects for Himachal Pradesh's three major river basins, Sutlej, Chenab and Beas, have either been completed are in the process of completion. However, for most of these, little or no local consultation, as required by law, has been carried out. 
A letter dashed to state environment secretary Manisha Nanda, who also heads the chief minister's office, by civil rights network Himdhara Collective has alleged, these studies have been found to be a mere formality, "as the process of giving environment and forest clearances for hydro projects has been de-linked from the CIA process."
Demanding that until complete studies are carried out there must be a moratorium on further hydro development in the state, the letter, which is based on an in-depth study of environmental assessment of all the rivers, says, there is, as of today, no "local community involvement in river protection".
A 2016 study, "Dried & Dusted: State of the Rivers Report – Himachal Pradesh", it said, "Himachal has the largest hydropower installed capacity in the country." It has "installed 10264 MW worth of projects. It is planning to harness a total 27436 MW out of which 24000 MW of power is harnessable (Govt. of HP, 2015-16) from the five major river basins of the state namely Sutlej, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Yamuna across a total of 813 large, medium and small projects and micro-hydels."
"In such a scenario the nature of development is bound to impact the state of the rivers. In the next section we examine some of the major developments that have emerged as threats to the health of Himachal's rivers", the study believes.
Basing on the study, the letter -- signed  by representatives from Him Lok Jagriti Manch, Social Uplift Through Rural Action, Himalaya Bachao Samiti, Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, Sutlej Bachao Jiven Bachao Abhiyan Samiti, Himdhara Collective and Himachal Van Adhikar Manch -- calls Beas, Ravi, Sutlej and Lower Stretches of the Yamuna (tributaries) "already critically polluted" and "in the red", adding,  the regulatory authorities are least concerned about fighting pollution.

According to the letter, the State Pollution Control Board and the Irrigation and Public Health departments' roles have "either been made redundant or they have been working to ensure least hindrance to 'developers'." It adds, things wouldn't change for the better unless the "dilutions" made in the amendments in the Hydropower Policy of 2006 made in 2014 and 16, are withdrawn.
The amendments, says the letter, have dilute "the process of No Objection Certificate (NOC) from these departments prior to approval of hydro projects", adding, "The role of these regulatory agencies needs to be strengthened with community involvement in ensuring compliance to existing legislations that protect rivers and riparian rights."
Noting dangers posed by industrial pollution, the letter says, "Special attention needs to be paid to monitoring and regulation of industrial pollution in areas like Baddi, Barotiwala, Nalagarh and Paonta Sahib. Common Effluent Treatment Plants have failed miserably and an effort needs to be made to monitor pollution at the source as well as treat the effluents there."
Industrial pollution is not the only hazard faced by the state's rivers. The letters says, despite the National Green Tribunal and High Court orders, things with regard to sand mining have not change. While following their orders it is Sand mining is is "regulated or even stopped, the revival would take place in a short period of time."
The letter wants tourism and urbanisation as needing "serious policy measures that strengthen the role of regulatory agencies as well as work towards models that are not large and commercial in nature but small scale and community owned and managed." It adds, "Four laning projects and blind road widening are not just damaging forests but also increasing erosion and the siltation on our rivers."
Seeking involvement of local community in protecting forests in order to stop erosion of rivers, the letter says, "The Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, if implemented in full spirit, will strengthen community control and ownership over forests around river basins. Unfortunately, the Himachal government has the poorest track record in FRA implementation with the forest bureaucracy impeding rather than facilitating the filing of claims process."

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India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”