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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.”

Spike in illegal mining: "Model" Gujarat competes with Left-ruled Kerala, sees 28% rise in 2017, 107% since 2010

By Rajiv Shah
Latest official figures suggest that “model” Gujarat appears to be competing with Left-ruled Kerala in the spike in illegal mining cases. One of the top four Indian states which have witnessed a spike in illegal mining cases in 2017, Gujarat saw a 28.1% rise in illegal cases in a year, from 6,499 to 8,325, as against Kerala’s saw of a 31.34% rise from from 3,701 to 4,861.
The other two states, which saw a rise in illegal mining cases are Madhya Pradesh, by 1.86%, from 13,627 to 13,880, and Rajasthan 7.76%, from 3,661 to 3,945.
The data further show that, between 2010 and 2017, while “model” Gujarat saw 41,699 illegal mining cases, the rise over the years has been stupendous. In 2009, in Gujarat, 4,020 illegal mining cases were reported, which rose to 8,325, a whopping 107.09% rise.
The report also reveals that of Gujarat’s 6,499 illegal mining cases reported in 2016, FIRs were lodged in just 84 cases.
Revealing this, an authoritative report, based in data provided in Parliament, says, “Mining is considered illegal when it is done without a license or outside the licensed area and when more than the permissible amount is extracted.”
Coming down heavily on illegal mining, the Supreme Court in August 2017, had said that mining companies, which operated without environmental clearance, should pay compensation equivalent to 100% of the value of the minerals extracted illegally. Following the verdict, in February 2018, the apex court quashed all 88 mining leases in Goa 'hastily' renewed by the state government in 2015 to "benefit private mining leaseholders".
Pointing out that these “these developments point to poor governance and resource management across the country”, the report, authored by Lalit Maurya, Sobhojit Goswami and Isha Bajpai, says, if one takes into account illegal mining cases since 2009, Maharashtra “tops the list of states”, witnessing a “28 per cent increase from 26,283 in 2009-10 to 33,621 in 2015-16.”
Interestingly, according to the report, published in the top environmental journal “Down to Earth”, in December 2017, despite rise in illegal mining, the Government of India proposed giving more power to states to grant environmental clearance, which suggests it was seeking to shed responsibility.
The report insists, “While the intention may be to decentralise the process of environmental clearance, capacity and accountability remain a problem. State-level clearance authorities neither have the capacity to handle increased work load, nor is there a system of accountability in place to ensure transparency in how clearances are issued.”
Against this backdrop, the report regrets, “Mining in India is a scam bigger than 2G and Commonwealth Games but has failed to catch people's attention because of difficulty in linking it with big political names, its eventual beneficiaries. It is difficult to estimate the loss to public exchequer because of illegal mining across states.”
Pointing out that since 2009, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu are the only four states that have registered a decline in illegal mining, the report states, “With a drop in 5,827 illegal mining cases since 2009-10, Andhra Pradesh has fared the best among all states when it comes to numbers.”
It adds, “However, Odisha has covered maximum ground by reducing the number of cases by more than 90 per cent, from 487 in 2009-10 to just 45 in 2016-17.”
The report also points to the fact that West Bengal has seen more than 400% increase in illegal mining from 113 cases in 2009-10 to 575 in 2015-16, and Jharkhand saw a massive surge in illegal mining between 2009-10 and 2015-16 from just 15 to 1,645.
At the same time, the report states, 2015-16 has so far been the worst year during this seven-year period with the nationwide illegal mining cases witnessing a sharp spike from 69,316 in 2009-10 to 110,476”, adding, “Uttar Pradesh, which reached its peak during 2015-16 (11,575 cases), brought the number of cases down to 5,737 within a year.”
The report further says, “Within a year, Haryana managed to reduce illegal mining cases by more than 66%. In 2015-16, it had 3,912 cases, which came down to 1,345 in 2016-17. Jharkhand stood second in achieving this feat by registering more than 50 per cent decrease -- from 1,645 in 2015-16 to 694 in 2016-17.”
The report states, “India, one of the world's largest producers and exporters of mica, coal, iron ore, bauxite and manganese, has long been grappling with illegal mining, primarily in Karnataka, Goa, Haryana, Rajasthan and Odisha, ever since it opened up mining to private companies in the 1990s.”
It adds, “From soil erosion and groundwater contamination to loss of forest cover and biodiversity, unbridled mining plays havoc with an ecosystem. But despite this, prosecution rate is very low in such cases.”
“For example”, the report notes, “Maharashtra recorded 1,39,706 illegal mining cases between 2013 and 2017 -- the highest in the country -- but only 712 first information reports (FIR) and one court case were filed.”

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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.

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

By Rajiv Shah
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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".

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By Nandini Oza*
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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.”