National Green Tribunal halts all construction activity in Challakere

26th February 2014
PRESS RELEASE

National Green Tribunal halts all construction activity in Challakere Amrut Mahal Kavals

Justice Mr. M. Chockalingam (Judicial Member) and Prof. Dr. R. Nagendran (Expert Member) constituting the National Green Tribunal (Southern Zone Bench), issued a direction on 14th February 2014 halting all construction in the ecologically sensitive Amrut Mahal Kaval grassland ecosystems in Challakere Taluk, Chitradurga district, Karnataka. The direction was issued in response to complaints raised by undersigned Petitioners before the Tribunal that various agencies that had been allocated
lands for their projects in the Kaval had commenced construction without securing permission from the Karnataka Forest Department and Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for diversion of forest land to non-forest purpose based on ecological assessments.

Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) which is proposing construction of a massive weaponised drone testing and manufacture project, had already commenced extensive construction operations. In particular referring to this, the Tribunal ordered:

“The counsel for the DRDO on instructions from the official, who is present, would submit that the construction activities are continuing. It is pertinent to point out that whether the construction activities now being carried out by DRDO lies in the reserve forest or not is the subject matter to be decided by the Tribunal. In view of the factual position and circumstances, it would be fit and proper to issue a direction to DRDO to stop further construction until further orders of the Tribunal and accordingly a direction is issued to DRDO to stop construction activities in the subject matter land until further orders.” (Emphasis supplied)

Besides DRDO other agencies allotted these grassland ecosystems that form habitat for critically endangered Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican, highly threatened Black Buck, and support livelihoods of thousands of pastoral communities include Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC – nuclear fuel enrichment), Indian Institute of Science (IISc – building a synchrotron), Indian Space
Research Organisation (ISRO – space applications), Sagitaur (private company to build a solar pond), Karnataka Housing Board (KHB – construction of villas), etc. Several of these agencies have begun project activities by building high security walls, undertaken massive project construction and also blocked access of local communities to the Kavals. The 10,000 acres of Amrithmahal Kavals found here form the last contiguous stretch of grasslands left in Karnataka state. At the time of independence, the State had over 450,000 acres of Kavals, and only 30,000 acres are now left. Such systematic and reckless diversion of ecological commons has caused agony to thousands of pastoral and farming families dependent on these Kavals for their livelihoods.

Challenging this diversion before the National Green Tribunal (Southern Zone), the Petitioners have said that the entire exercise was illegal as no assessment of the ecological and social impacts was ever conducted, no proper assessment was carried out to assess the appropriateness of siting such dangerous and highly sensitive facilities all in one location, nor was there any compliance with environmental protection, pollution control and land use planning regulations. Besides the entire exercise was undertaken with extraordinary secrecy, including by keeping elected bodies and representatives out of the decision making process.

While the implications of these decisions were being argued before the Tribunal, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board accorded Consent for Establishment to the DRDO and Sagitaur projects during September 2013. However, the consent was conditional to the fact that “in case the area proposed for the purpose of the project is found to be forest area, necessary forest clearance shall have to be obtained”. In October 2013, MoEF filed its statement before the Tribunal stating that Amrit Mahal Kavals constitute forest areas as per the Karnataka Forest Act, 1961, Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Godavarman case (WP Civil 202/1995). The Ministry specifically said that “the status of 9,473 acres of land as “forest” or “non-forest” is to be decided through joint inspection by the State Forest Department and Regional Office of the Ministry, as per guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in Lafarge Judgment and interpretation of the Karnataka Forest Act and Rules framed thereunder.” Rather than immediately halt any construction activities, DRDO, for instance, continued massive building work which they refused to stop despite local protests and filing of police complaints.

As these activities are in breach of conditions imposed in the Consent for Establishment issued by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, the regulatory agency has been moved to withdraw the consent and initiate appropriate action against the violators.

Leo F. Saldanha                                                            Bhargavi S. Rao                                                            Doddaullarti Karianna
Coordinator/Trustee                                         Coordinator (Education)/Trustee                                Amritmahal Kaval Hitarakshana
Environment Support Group                              Environment Support Group                                                       Horata Samithi
Applicant 6/2013 before the                             On behalf of Applicant 12/2013                                                       Chitradurga
Hon’ble National Green Tribunal                       before the Hon’ble National
(Party-in-person)                                                              Green Tribun

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Press Release: Condemn the Brutal Police Violence on the Activists of VIBGYOR

Condemn the Brutal Police Violence on the Activists of VIBGYOR

On February 22, 2014, five activists of VIBGYOR International Film Festival were picked up by the police in Trichur and they were brutally beaten up inside the vehicle as well as inside the police station. Young woman cinematographer Neethu was attacked physically by male police and was subjected to sexual verbal abuse as well as physical violence. Five young activists were physically attacked and are detained by police at the Thrissur East Janamaitri Police station. Advocate R. K. Asha who came with her son and daughter to release the activists were also brutally beaten up and the male police kicked her with boots and she was dragged in front of her children. Her son and minor daughter were also subjected to physical violence. Advocate R.K. Asha, her minor daughter, Neethu, and Sruti were hospitalized in Thrissur later. The boys were detained in police custody, denied bail and were remanded for 14 days. They got interim bail next day evening and were released. We came to know that the boys were tortured inside the jail too.  We unanimously condemn the brutal violence on women inside the police station and that also a practicing woman advocate and a young woman cinematographer as well as a minor girl. We also demand that the cases on five boys and Neethu, cinematographer be withdrawn immediately.

It is shocking that the police attacks on women activists of  VIBGYOR took place soon after the completion of 9thVIBGYOR which focused on Gender Violence. When the work of internationally famous Eve Einsler, `Vagina Monologues’ was performed, the police tried to initiate physical violence on February15, 2014 right inside the festival ground. On February 13th, when the Sangh Parivar activists tried to stop the screening of the documentary on Kashmir `Ocean of Tears’, the police facilitated them to enter the campus and destroy the festival office. While the hooligans destroyed the office right in front of the police, no case was registered on any of these communal fascists. The activists of VIBGYOR courageously and resisted them in a united and non-violent manner and the fascists were forced to withdraw.

We are shocked at the growing state violence and communal violence on the cultural activists and we demand an immediate action on the guilty police officers. We demand that all the guilty police officers be suspended  and  legal actions undertaken on them immediately. We appeal to all women’s groups, human rights groups, activists and film personalities to strengthen this struggle against police violence on activists immediately. We appeal to all concerned sections to circulate this message immediately.

Friends of VIBGYOR:

Endorsements:

  • BhupaliKusum Vitthal,Centre for Education andCommunication, New Delhi
  • Shri Prakash, Film Maker, Jharkhand
  • Sameera Jain, Film Maker
  • AnjaliMonteiro and K.P. Jayasankar, Film Makers, TISS, Mumbai
  • Sunita Prasad
  • KavitaBahl, Director, TopQuark Films, Delhi
  • Supriya Madangarli, Mangalore
  • Anuradha, Hyderabad
  • Juhi Jain, feminist activist and writer New Delhi
  • Seena Viovin
  • SuhasiniMulay, Film personality, New Delhi
  • Shampa Sengupta, Disability and Gender Rights Activist, Kolkata
  • Adv Kamayani Bali Mahabal
  • Sanal Sasidharan
  • Teena  Gill, Film maker, New Delhi
  • Subuhi Jiwani
  • Sudha K.F, Central English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad.
  • Benny Kuruvilla, New Delhi
  • Deepa Dhanraj, Film Maker
  • Pushpa Achanta, Writer (Bangalore)
  • Vasanth Kannabiran
  • Kirity Roy, National Convenor (PACTI)
  • PT George, Intercultural Resources
  • Sujata Gothoskar, independent researcher and activist
  • AchinVanaik former Dean, School Of Social Sciences, Delhi University
  • IndianSocial Action Forum (INSAF)
  • SmitaVanniyar, School of Media and Culture Studies, TISS
  • SuklaSen, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai
  • PrafulBidwai
  • Muhammadamen
  • AbhilashB, Communications Specialist, Delhi
  • KalpanaMehta, Indore
  • SomaMarik, School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University
  • Dyuti
  • SurabhiSharma
  • Dr.K.Lalita, Director Yugantar, a Hyderabad based NGO &Vice-president Anveshi research Centre for Women’s Studies
  • SabaDewan, film maker, New Delhi
  • Vani Subramanian, Saheli Delhi
  • Kaveri R I, Hyderabad
  • Geeta Seshu, Consulting Editor, The Hoot, Free Speech Hub.
  • Elizabeth Philip, Sahaja, Kottayam
  • Anivar Aravind , Moving republic, Bangalore
  • Rohini Hensman (writer and activist)
  • Akhil Kumar, Sub-Editor, Youth Ki Awaaz
  • Akshay Pathak
  • Archana B, Bergen, Norway
  • Saba Prateeksha- Musician, and Director Hansadhwani Foundation
  • VIMOCHANA,Forum for Women’s Rights, Bangalore
  • AllIndia Students’ Associaion, Mumbai;
  • Jan Sanskriti Manch, Mumbai
  • Ram Puniyani, Writer
  • Civic Chandran, Pathabhedam
  • Sara Joseph, Writer
  • K.P. Sasi, Film Maker
  • P. Baburaj, Film Maker
  • Sreemith Shekhar, Film Maker
  • Anand Patwardhan, Film Maker
  • Magline Peter, Theeradesa Mahilavedi, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Meghnath, Akhra, Film Maker, Jharkhand
  • J. Devika, Research Scholar
  • K.E.K. Satish, Writer, Film Maker,
  • Wilfred D’Costa, INSAF, New Delhi
  • Kutti Revathi, Writer, Film Maker, Tamil Nadu
  • Amudhan RP, Film Maker, Chennai
  • Mark Achbar, Film Maker, Canada
  • Leena Patel, New Delhi
  • FTII Students’ Association, Pune
  • Asha G, Thiruvananthapuram
  • K. Saradamoni, Thiruvanthapuram
  • Shehna R Shora
  • All Indian Students’ Association
  • JNU Students’ Union, New Delhi
  • Irfan Engineer, Centre for Study of Society And Secularism
  • Rahul Roy, Film Maker
  • Marcello and Karina Bichara, Brazil
  • PN Gopi Krishnan, Poet
  • VG Thampi, Poet, Writer
  • I. Shanmukhadas, Film Critic
  • Priyanandan, Film Maker
  • Rekha Raj, Writer, Activist
  • Anvar Ali, Poet
  • Musthafa Deshamangalam, Film Maker
  • M. Jisha, Freelance journalist
  • MG Sasi, Film Maker
  • I. Gopinath, Freelance Journalist
  • Satya Sagar, Journalist
  • T. Peter, KSMTF
  • Jagdish Chandra, New Social Alternative, Bangalore
  • Deepu, Pedestrian Pictures, Bangalore
  • Ashok Mathew Philip, SICHREM, Bangalore
  • Dhirendra Pande, All India Secular Forum, Orissa
  • Vijaysingh Ronald David, National Adivasi Alliance, Karnataka
  • Vasanth Kannabiran, ASMITA Women’s Resource Centre, Hyderbad

Italian Marines: NFF Protest against Centre’s decision

Protest against Centre’s decision

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

All India secretary of the National Fishworkers Forum T. Peter has protested against the Central government’s submission before the Supreme Court on Monday that the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala waters in February 2012 will not be prosecuted under the provisions of SUA, which attracts death penalty.

In a statement, Mr. Peter alleged that the Central government move smacked of a conspiracy to enable the marines go scot free in the case.

Government’s weakness

By omitting the SUA provisions against the marines, the Central government had kowtowed before the Italian government, he said.

While Italy succeeded in influencing the European Union and the United Nations on the issue, the inability of the Indian government to exert any influence at the international level exposed the weakness of Indian administrators. Through the decision, the Central government had challenged the country’s fishing community, he said.

He said the repercussion of the decision would be felt at all fishing community areas during the coming Lok Sabha elections.

P.K. Gurudasan, MLA, said the Central government had betrayed the fishing community through the decision.

Review petition

Mr. Gurudasan said his submission in the Assembly that the State should file a review petition when the Supreme Court gave the verdict that the Kerala Police had no jurisdiction over the case was ignored.

He said he made the submission on the grounds that the alleged killing had taken place in the continental shelf. He called upon the government to intervene in the matter.

Request to generously contribute to ALAKAL

alakal_top_01

Dear friends,

ALAKAL fortnightly magazine has survived as a reflection of the struggles and issues of the fisher people from the year 1985 onwards. Hundreds of issues brought out during this period have not just informed trade union activists, bureaucrats, politicians, intellectuals and ordinary fisher people, but also have inspired many to act on the issues raised by ALAKAL. This fortnightly is regularly brought out by the Kerala Swatantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation – KSMTF- (Kerala Independent Fishworkers’ Federation) and it has generated space for other struggles also.

At the moment, the regular functioning of ALAKAL is going through a financial crisis. The printing expense of ALAKAL is Rupees 5000/- per issue. The folding/pasting/posting expenses are around Rupees 2,000/- per issue. At the moment, KSMTF members are in a position to take care of this second expense of Rs. 2,000/-only. Therefore, we request you to contribute towards the printing expense of ALAKAL. Apart from the social and political significance of ALAKAL, there are also certain Govt. norms which give us pressure.  If the regular production ALAKAL is broken, the authorities of Newspaper of India can cancel its registration and the Department of State Information and Public Relations can remove ALAKAL from its media list. If that happens, it will be more difficult to sustain ALAKAL. Therefore, we appeal to all friends and supporters to do whatever you can to sustain this significant, regular work of the struggles of the fisher people.

The details for contribution are the following:

ALAKAL Fortnightly

A/C No: 020051 000800102

IFSC : IBKL 0046 T 01

Bank : The Thiruvananthapuram District Co-operative Bank

Branch : Puthanchantha, Thiruvananthapuram.

We do hope you will respond in favour to the request.

 T.Peter

Managing editor

ALAKAL Fortnightly

Tank Road, Pulimoodu

Thiruvananthapuram – 695001, Kerala

Mobile : 08289905239

Email : alakal@alakal.net

http://www.alakal.net

http://www.keralafishworkers.in

Condemn the Brutal Police Violence on the Activists of VIBGYOR

VIBGYOR 2014 cropped

Condemn the Brutal  Police  Violence on the Activists of VIBGYOR

On February 22, 2014, five activists of VIBGYOR International Film Festival were picked up by the police in Trichur and they were brutally beaten up inside the vehicle as well as inside the police station. Young woman cinematographer Neethu was attacked physically by male police and was subjected to sexual verbal abuse as well as physical violence. Five young activists were physically attacked and are detained by police at the Thrissur East Police station. Advocate R. K. Asha who came with her son and daughter to release the activists were also brutally beaten up and the male police kicked her with boots and she was dragged in front of her children. Her son and minor daughter were also subjected to physical violence. Advocate Asha, her minor daughter, Neethu, and Sruti were hospitalized in Thrissur later. We unanimously condemn the brutal violence on women inside the police station and that also a practicing woman advocate and a young woman cinematographer as well as a minor girl. We also demand that the five boys who are still inside the police station be released immediately and unconditionally.

It is shocking that the police attacks on women activists of VIBGYOR took place soon after the completion of 9th VIBGYOR which focused on Gender Violence. When the work of internationally famous Eve Einsler, `Vagina Monologues’ was performed, the police tried to initiate physical violence on February 15, 2014 right inside the festival ground. On February 13th, when the Sangh Parivar activists tried to stop the screening of the documentary on Kashmir `Ocean of Tears’, the police facilitated them to enter the campus and destroy the festival office. While the hooligans destroyed the office right in front of the police, no case was registered on any of these communal fascists. The activists of VIBGYOR courageously and unitedly resisted them in a non-violent manner and the fascists were forced to withdraw.

We are shocked at the growing state violence and communal violence on the cultural activists and we demand an immediate action on the guilty police officers. We demand that all the guilty police officers be suspended and transferred immediately. We appeal to all women’s groups, human rights groups, activists and film personalities to strengthen this struggle against police violence on activists immediately. We appeal to all concerned sections to circulate this message immediately. 

Friends of VIBGYOR:

Note: Please circulate widely