SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

Naxalite Menace - VIII
Preparing children for their war against state

Maoists are now putting tribal children on the frontline in
their war against the state. As young as 10-years-old
Tribal children being given military training at a Naxal camp.boys have been given rifles and are being trained in jungle warfare at various Naxalite training camps located deep inside Bastar’s dense hilly forest.

Tribal children being given military training at a Naxal
camp. Photo by writer

TN steps up vigil against Naxals
The police has begun search operations and arrested suspects and sympathisers of the Maoists
Chennai, June 28
The Tamil Nadu police has mounted an extra vigil to prevent any Maoist infiltration into the state from Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, following the ban on their activities and stringent actions against them in the areas dominated by them.

India’s first eco-friendly bags launched
Chennai, June 28
Biobin, India’s first biodegradable bags meant as an alternative to non-biodegrable plastic bags, a main source of environment pollution, was introduced in Tamil Nadu.

Tax exemption for Tamil films to continue
Chennai, June 28
Ending fears of Tamil film industry that the Tamil Nadu government was considering removing the entertainment tax exemption for films, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today announced that it would continue.

Cong objects to withdrawal of case
Bangaluru, June 28
The Congress has objected to the withdrawal of a three-year-old temple demolition case against the present tourism minister of state, Janardhana Reddy.

Statue Issue
SC to hear PIL against Maya today
New Delhi, June 28
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who sparked off a controversy with statue unveiling spree in Lucknow, will face scrutiny of the Supreme Court tomorrow.


A security guard deployed at India Gate must be feeling relieved after rains lashed New Delhi on Sunday.
Finally, relief: A
security guard
deployed at India Gate
must be feeling relieved
after rains lashed
New Delhi on Sunday.
Tribune photo:
Manas Ranjan Bhui





EARLIER STORIES

Fissures appear in Left Front
New Delhi, June 28
The continuing face-off with the Maoists in Lalgarh in West Bengal seems to have created a rift in the Left Front with the CPI today not only blaming the CPI(M) for the Lok Sabha debacle in the state but also criticising the ‘big brother’ for not consulting it on the governance aspect.

BSP losing sheen in Rajasthan
Jaipur, June 28
All six BSP MLAs switching loyalty to the ruling Congress, the party losing its support base substantially in the recent Lok Sabha elections and now a string of resignations by its senior leaders.

Chiru to change party symbol
Hyderabad, June 28
Smarting under electoral drubbing, actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi has decided to change his Praja Rajyam Party’s election symbol, hoping that it will turn the fortunes of the fledgling party.

Babhali Project
AP serves legal notice on M’rashtra
Hyderabad, June 28
The inter-state river water row between Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra has taken a serious turn, with the former slapping a legal notice on the latter, seeking stoppage of construction works on the controversial Babhali irrigation project.

Monsoon hits Bihar
Patna, June 28
The much-awaited monsoon rains hit Patna this afternoon leading to water logging in several low-lying areas of the state capital and adjoining areas.

Swine Flu
Second case in WB detected
Kolkata, June 28
West Bengal got its second confirmed case of swine flu with a five-year-old girl testing positive for the influenza A (H1N1) virus, an official said today.

Attack on North Indians
Raj Thackeray to surrender today
Mumbai, June 28
Complying with an order of the Bombay High Court, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray will surrender before the magistrate's court at Kalyan tomorrow.

PC seeks review of VIP security
New Delhi, June 28
Finding that a number of persons were enjoying VIP security without any justification, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has sought a review to scale down the facility extended to them.

C’wealth Games 2010
Delhi’s natural preserves in lurch
New Delhi, June 28
In a haste to make Delhi “a world-class city”, the state government is continuously endangering the existence of city’s natural heritage- Yamuna floodplains and beds.

Repealing Sec 377
Centre not to decide in haste
Thiruvananthapuram, June 28
A decision on repealing the controversial Section of the Penal Law which criminalises homosexuality would be taken only after considering concerns of all sections of society, including religious groups like the church, Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily said today.


Gay activists hold parades

 





Top








 

Naxalite Menace - VIII
Preparing children for their war against state
Our Roving Editor Man Mohan writes from Sukma (Chhattisgarh)

Maoists are now putting tribal children on the frontline in their war against the
state. As young as 10-years-old boys have been given rifles and are being
trained in jungle warfare at various Naxalite training camps located deep inside
Bastar’s dense hilly forest.

Tribal children work as spotters for the Maoist guerrilla squads waiting to ambush the security forces’ vehicles. They are also helping in blowing landmines. Many children have died in encounters with the security forces.

The military use of children by terrorist outfits and rebels world over is not new. It is estimated that over 3 lakh children are serving as soldiers for both rebel groups and government forces in global armed conflicts.

So far, India does not figure in the list of Asian nations where thousands of children are involved in fighting forces in active conflict and ceasefire situations.

Somehow, the Maoists have kept it secret the deployment of children as soldiers in their so-called ‘liberated zones’ in Bastar and elsewhere in ‘Red Corridor’ that runs from Nepal border to Andhra Pradesh.

In Asia, a large number of child soldiers are in use in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines and Nepal. In Sri Lanka, the LTTE had recruited thousands of children to fight the army.

In southeast Bastar here, some members of the people’s movement (later called Salwa Judum) against the Maoists’ violence told this correspondent that red rebels were using all kinds of tactics to enroll children in their violent struggle.

To motivate the children, Maoists tell them stories of the police atrocities and rape of tribal girls.

These tales can’t be checked as they are always related to far-off places. During training workshops, Maoists divide the children into two groups to pose as a police party and tribals. The ‘police’ party is then shown torturing the ‘tribal’ group, which after some time rises to revolt.

“This way, the children are taught to hate the government machinery,” said a Maria tribal, who now works as a Special Police Officer in Dantewada.

Narrating her experience, a woman living in a Salwa Judum relief camp said, “I ran away from my village with my family as the Naxals wanted my teenage son and daughter to join their military training camp 50 km away. They promised to take good care of my children, but I refused. They had left warning me that they would return soon…next day, my entire family fled from the village as I did not want my children to pick up guns.”

However, there are cases where young children with their parents’ consent decided to join the Maoist movement. The families gave permission as there was nothing else for the children to do - there are no schools and no jobs in the forest belt.

Malnutrition also force many children to join the Maoist ranks, hoping to get food, at least. According to the International Labour Organsiation, forced or compulsory recruitment of anyone under the age of 18 for use in armed conflict is one of the worst forms of child labour, deemed a form of slavery.

The Naxals are training children about how to handle weapons, distract and ambush security forces and lay landmines.

They are also being trained for use in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers and lookouts. Such children can also be used as a human shield during encounters with the security forces.

As Maoists have closed all the government schools in the area under their control, a large number of children have no option but to join Naxal training camps, where they are taught leftwing literature, their ‘civil rights’ and are brainwashed about the state being their enemy.

They are asked to take a vow to continue their full-fledged war against the state which they call “people’s struggle.”

Opinion is currently divided over whether children should be prosecuted for committing war crimes and terrorist activities.

International law does not prohibit the prosecution of children who commit such crimes, but the Article 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says that a child cannot be given capital punishment or life imprisonment.

The Chhattisgarh police are at a loss about how to deal with ‘Maoist children’ who are actively participating in the ‘people’s war.’

Top

 

TN steps up vigil against Naxals
The police has begun search operations and arrested suspects and sympathisers of the Maoists
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 28
The Tamil Nadu police has mounted an extra vigil to prevent any Maoist infiltration into the state from Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, following the ban on their activities and stringent actions against them in the areas dominated by them.

The Centre, too, had issued instructions for increasing the vigil and the police has focused its attention on Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Vellore districts, which lie near Andhra Pradesh.

They have begun search operations and arrested suspects and sympathisers of the Maoists. The Q-branch police had decided to increase the vigilance in forests with rapid action forces taking up search and destroy mission.

The police are conducting inquiries about Padma, a member of a human rights panel, which tried to enter Lalgarh in West Bengal to make a first hand study of the situation in the area.

Padma, reportedly arrested in West Bengal, is daughter of “Kakarla” Surya Narayana hailing from Andhra Pradesh.

She was one of the six women arrested in 2002 on charges of participating in Naxalite training camps and released on conditional bail by the Madras High Court. She founded a movement called the Revolutionary Women Liberation Movement.

When she decided to invite the famous Naxalite ballad singer Gaddar to preside over a women’s function in Chennai, the police had denied her permission to hold the meet in the city.

Top

 

India’s first eco-friendly bags launched
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 28
Biobin, India’s first biodegradable bags meant as an alternative to non-biodegrable plastic bags, a main source of environment pollution, was introduced in Tamil Nadu.

Introducing the eco-friendly product, chairman of Sunstar Trading Corporation Rajesh Khetan, said, “This was the first time in India that biodegradable bags with disinfectant properties and fragrance have been launched”.

“These bags have special characteristics that help them degrade faster and were hence environment friendly. The company jointly with Exnora International has designed and launched the biobin bags to control plastic contamination,” he added.

Plastic contamination was of major concern to environmentalists across the world, he said. Hence, there was a growing demand for biodegradable products.

“Hospitals and hotels use a large number of plastic bags every month. Using biodegradable bags will help industry to contain the pollution to the environment by a great percentage,” he said.

Top

 

Tax exemption for Tamil films to continue
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 28
Ending fears of Tamil film industry that the Tamil Nadu government was considering removing the entertainment tax exemption for films, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today announced that it would continue.

Launching a movie "Nee Indri Nan Illai" based on his novel Surulimalai, the Chief Minister said, “Though the state government has been losing a revenue of Rs 50 crore every year by way of entertainment tax exemption, we are committed to continue with it for the welfare of the industry”.

By this announcement, the Chief Minister had rejected the plea of representatives of local bodies to reconsider entertainment tax exemption for films, since it resulted in a revenue loss for them.

The ruling DMK was annoyed when leading film directors spearheaded a campaign against the Congress in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, alleging that the Centre was behind the war in Sri Lanka.

On the campaign against his alliance partner by film directors, he said "I am not worried about their remarks or allegations. Their words can never hurt me and I am not here to take revenge on them. I am confident that it is a matter of time before they would come with medicine to heal my wounds."

He said the remuneration given to him would be donated to the cause of poor senior artistes in the South Indian Film Artistes Association.

Speaking on the occasion, actor Kamal Haasan, said, "I practiced the dialogues written by Karunanidhi, written in the 1950's and this helped me to get an opportunity in films. Karunanidhi's dialogue is still being practiced by every aspiring actor to obtain perfection in pronunciation and diction".

Top

 

Cong objects to withdrawal of case
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangaluru, June 28
The Congress has objected to the withdrawal of a three-year-old temple demolition case against the present tourism minister of state, Janardhana Reddy.

BJP leader and owner of Bellary iron-ore mines, Reddy, brought down the two-century-old Sunkalamma Devi shrine near Oblapuram in Bellary district in 2006 to pave way for his mining activities.

There was hardly any public protest against the demolition, as the goddess was a lesser-known deity.

While the BJP condoned its minister for bringing down the temple, Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) decided to look the other way on the issue.

BN Murthy, VHP president of Karnataka, said he was not aware of “destruction of any temple by a minister”.

“The number of village goddesses in the state will run into lakhs. It is not possible to keep track of all those shrines”, he added.

However, Reddy’s political rivals in the Congress took up the issue and ensured that a case was registered in this connection.

Top

 

Statue Issue
SC to hear PIL against Maya today

New Delhi, June 28
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who sparked off a controversy with statue unveiling spree in Lucknow, will face scrutiny of the Supreme Court tomorrow.

The apex court had fixed Monday for the hearing of a PIL, which sought a CBI probe against Mayawati for "misusing" crores of public money for installing statues.

The BSP supremo unveiled 15 statues, which include that of party founder Kanshi Ram and herself on June 25, nine days ahead of the scheduled date July 3, after the apex court decided to hear the PIL challenging the Rs 52.20 crore project.

The PIL filed by Delhi-based advocate Ravi Kant is listed for hearing before a vacation bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A K Ganguly.

Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh have launched a tirade against the Chief Minister for the project and has termed the unveiling of the statues as an attempt to pre-empt the Supreme Court from putting it on hold.

The PIL, which was filed mid this month, had sought to restrain Mayawati from installing her statues and party symbol in public places at the cost of the state exchequer and demanded a CBI probe into the issue.

The advocate, who filed the PIL, alleged that hundreds of crores of rupees of public money is being spent to "falsely glorify" the Chief Minister.

"The said activity is being carried out as a state policy, which is arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. 60 statues of elephant, party symbol of BSP, were installed at a cost of Rs 52.20 crore at public places by utilizing state funds," the petition alleged.

The petitioner said, "The expenditure of several crores of public money to fulfill the whims and fancies of an individual is against the principles of natural justice and fails the test of reasonableness."

The lawyer, who has made Mayawati along with her party and Chief Secretary of the state as respondents, said the state government should be directed to remove the statues of Mayawati and her party symbol 'elephant' from public areas. — PTI

Top

 

Fissures appear in Left Front
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The continuing face-off with the Maoists in Lalgarh in West Bengal seems to have created a rift in the Left Front with the CPI today not only blaming the CPI(M) for the Lok Sabha debacle in the state but also criticising the ‘big brother’ for not consulting it on the governance aspect.

The CPI said that the governance in the state had failed on several counts, especially in the tribal areas.

The CPI General Secretary A.B. Bardhan was critical of the way the things had been handled by the CPI(M), not a common feature in the otherwise united Lef Front.

He said here that although incompetence would be a very harsh word, but said that there had been an element of neglect in the governance.

“An element of not undertaking the actual work they should have done, particularly in areas inhabited by tribal people (did exist),” Bardhan said.

“They neglected it. Yes, I will say so,” Bardhan told Karan Thapar on the 'Devil's Advocate' show on a private news channel.

Though the Left Front Government had undertaken agrarian reforms in the state, he said the administration had not gone ahead and done more.

“About 75 per cent of the tribal people are beneficiaries of the agrarian reforms. Beyond that, you have to do something more,” he added.

To a question on whether the Left Front Government's incompetence was behind the alliance's poll loss in West Bengal, the CPI leader said there had been neglect.

Bardhan said his party was not consulted on administration and that the Left Front Government was run like a single-party government.

He also said that Trinamool Congress' success in the state had been as a result of the failings of the CPI(M)-led government in the State.

If the Left Front Government was not failing in some respects, what scope would
Trinamool have.

Moreover, Mamata Banarjee or Trinamool leadership can take advantage of only our weaknesses, he said.

Asked why he did not advise the Left Front Government, he said: “No! At that time, there was no question of me giving any advice. In fact, the government was being run as a one-party government more or less. I do not think we were consulted. That is one of the failings of the Left Front Government in West Bengal. The act of consulting that ought to be there is not there”.

Top

 

BSP losing sheen in Rajasthan
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, June 28
All six BSP MLAs switching loyalty to the ruling Congress, the party losing its support base substantially in the recent Lok Sabha elections and now a string of resignations by its senior leaders.

All this is enough to indicate that the BSP’s political graph is on the decline in Rajasthan. State BSP general secretary Abdul Azeez and four party functionaries resigned from its primary membership earlier this week, saying the organisation lacked welfare programmes for the common man.

Besides Azeez, the other party leaders who quit are Govind Meghwal, Shambhu Singh Khetasar, Sunil Jain and Rajiv Vishnoi. They alleged that the party had no public welfare programmes.

Close on the heels of their resignation, 10 office-bearers of the party’s Bikaner unit also put in their papers.

Political observers feel the BSP MLAs’ move to join the Congress proved disastrous for the party during the LS polls as it showed the party leaders in poor light.

It also sent a message to the people that these leaders were not committed to the party and were only aiming for short-term gains.

Now, the BSP high command has summoned all state leaders to Lucknow to deliberate on the state of affairs in the state unit and evolve a strategy to rejuvenate the party in the state.

It was only in the state Assembly elections in December last year that the BSP bagged six Assembly seats, registering a vote share of 6 per cent as against a mere 3.16 per cent in 2004.

Apart from it, the party also tried to upset the applecart of the Congress as well as the BJP in the state.

It had emerged as a force to reckon with in east Rajasthan owing to the area’s proximity with Uttar Pradesh.

However, the BSP received a severe jolt on the eve of Lok Sabha elections when all its MLAs joined hands with the Congress to give it a simple majority in the House.

The Congress had 96 MLAs, four short of the magic figure of 100 in the 200-
member Assembly.

The ruling party had cobbled up the majority with the help of mercurial tribal leader Kirori Lal Meena who had five MLAs.

The things went from bad to worse for the BSP, as it fought the Lok Sabha elections amid allegations of corruption in allotment of party tickets.

The party, which was looking forward to open its account in LS polls from Rajasthan, could neither win a single seat nor hold on to its votebank.

The result: the ruling Congress cashed in on the BSP’s declining fortunes and ended up winning 20 out of 25 LS seats.

Top

 

Chiru to change party symbol
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 28
Smarting under electoral drubbing, actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi has decided to change his Praja Rajyam Party’s election symbol, hoping that it will turn the fortunes of the fledgling party.

The PRP had fought the recent simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and Andhra Pradesh Assembly with “rail engine” as poll symbol.

However, one of the reasons attributed to the party’s poor performance was the “poor visibility” of the symbol on the electronic voting machines.

“Besides its poor visibility, the symbol resembles like road roller and bulldozer. Voters were confused and this has cost us dearly,” the actor said, analysing the reasons for his party’s poor show at the hustings.

The PRP is now eyeing for a change in the symbol and has shortlisted “rising sun”, “two leaves” and “umbrella”.

Having garnered 16 per cent vote share in the elections, the party has got recognition as a regional party.

“We will soon apply to the Election Commission for a new symbol,” Chiranjeevi said. The party leaders are of the view that since the PRP flag has the Sun inscribed on it, the masses will find it easy to identify it with the party at the time of voting.

The PRP hopes to fight the coming elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), scheduled in August, on the new symbol.

The PRP was allotted the rail engine symbol after a protracted legal battle since it was not a recognised party as per the Representation of People Act. The party had to approach the Supreme Court to get the common poll symbol.

After raising high hopes, the PRP’s poll performance turned out to be a flop show.
It managed only 18 assembly seats in the 294-member House and drew blank in
the Lok Sabha.

Apart from looking for a change in the symbol, the fledgling party is also keen on changing its poll strategies. While it fought the recent elections on its own, it is now open to the idea of alliances.

The party leadership has already indicated that it was not averse to a tie-up with left parties provided they severed links with the main opposition TDP.

Top

 

Babhali Project
AP serves legal notice on M’rashtra
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 28
The inter-state river water row between Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra has taken a serious turn, with the former slapping a legal notice on the latter, seeking stoppage of construction works on the controversial Babhali irrigation project.

Dubbing Babhali project as “illegal”, the lower riparian Andhra Pradesh has demanded dismantling of five of the 13 crest gates installed on the dam across Godavari river in Nanded district as it was in violation of the Supreme Court orders.

The legal notice said if Maharashtra did not act within three days, then Andhra Pradesh would be constrained to file a contempt petition in the apex court.

State Irrigation Minister P Lakshmaiah quoted the SC order that said: “Though Maharashtra may go ahead with the construction of Babhali, it shall not install the gates until further orders”.

It further said: “As Maharashtra is permitted to proceed with the construction of Babhali at its own risk, it will not claim any equity by reason of the construction being carried out by it”. The SC orders were issued on April 24, 2007.

The notice said the contempt petition in the Supreme Court would be against Maharashtra’s “flagrant wilful disobedience of its order” and its “utter disregard of the Supreme Court injunction order”.

The notice was sent to four Maharashtra officials who are named as respondents - chief secretary, water resources development secretary, water resources development chief engineer in Aurangabad and the superintending engineer of Nanded irrigation circle.

The Congress government is under intense opposition pressure to act on Babhali issue. Main opposition TDP has accused the government of failing to protect the state’s interests.

The Congress, however, turned the tables on the opposition saying the tenders for the controversial project were called for when the TDP was in power.

Andhra Pradesh has been contending that Babhali and 11 other projects being taken up by Maharashtra would cause “irreparable loss” to the interests of farmers of the Telangana region in the state.

“These projects are illegal and amount to violation of the Godavari River Water Tribunal award,” Lakshmaiah said.

There are fears that the projects, if allowed to be completed, would turn Telangana region into a desert as water would not flow into Sri Ramsagar Project in Nizamabad district - the life-line of the region.

At least six Telangana districts would be adversely affected if Maharashtra goes ahead with the controversial projects.

Top

 

Monsoon hits Bihar

Patna, June 28
The much-awaited monsoon rains hit Patna this afternoon leading to water logging in several low-lying areas of the state capital and adjoining areas.

“Monsoon rains have finally hit Bihar. Heavy rains lashed various parts of Bihar marking the arrival of monsoon,” meteorological department director SI Lashkar said.

Lashkar said rain would continue across the state tomorrow also. Heavy rains were reported in Bhagalpur district and adjoining areas. “In the next few hours, rains will hit many districts across the state,” he said.

Elated over the rains, people, particularly farmers, who were worried till yesterday and held special prayers to invoke the rain gods, celebrated. “It is a sign of life for us,” Ravindra Mahto, a farmer here, said.

Mahto said the delay in the arrival of monsoons was giving sleepless nights to farmers, as nearly two-thirds of agriculture is dependent on the rains and two-thirds of the state’s population is agri-based. — IANS

Top

 

Swine Flu
Second case in WB detected

Kolkata, June 28
West Bengal got its second confirmed case of swine flu with a five-year-old girl testing positive for the influenza A (H1N1) virus, an official said today.

The girl, a resident of Dhuliajan in Assam, is being treated at a state-run Infectious Diseases Hospital, said State Health Department official Tapas Sen.

The girl, along with her parents, had arrived at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport from Bangkok early Friday with symptoms of swine flu and was sent to the hospital by doctors. — IANS

Top

 

Attack on North Indians
Raj Thackeray to surrender today
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 28
Complying with an order of the Bombay High Court, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray will surrender before the magistrate's court at Kalyan tomorrow.

Thackeray has been named an accused in the attack on migrant students appearing for a railway examination at Kalyan in 2008.

According to Thackeray's lawyer Sayaji Nangre, the MNS chief will move an application saying he was surrendering in keeping with the high court’s order.

As soon as he is taken into custody, Thackeray's lawyers will move a bail application to get him released, Nangre told reporters today.

Thackeray's anticipatory bail had been set aside earlier this month by the Bombay High Court, which had also asked him to surrender before the Kalyan Court.

The Maharashtra government had challenged the anticipatory bail granted to Thackeray by the Kalyan Sessions Court.

Top

 

PC seeks review of VIP security

New Delhi, June 28
Finding that a number of persons were enjoying VIP security without any justification, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has sought a review to scale down the facility extended to them.

The review is being carried out by Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta, who has been given a list of over 100 VIPs, including former ministers Shivraj Patil, Natwar Singh and Jagmohan.

In some of the cases, it was observed that VIPs were enjoying state security more as a status symbol and not because of any threat. — PTI

Top

 

C’wealth Games 2010
Delhi’s natural preserves in lurch
Ananya Panda
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
In a haste to make Delhi “a world-class city”, the state government is continuously endangering the existence of city’s natural heritage- Yamuna floodplains and beds.

Even the much-hailed and cherished concept of hosting a “Green Commonwealth Games 2010”, entailing an array of greening initiatives is not appealing the city’s environment coteries and experts, who say it’s “a game within a game”.

“It’s doubtful whether any greening is really happening in the city for all the pro-environment actions on which the government is harping upon are mere gimmicks displayed to hide the pitfalls of the world standard development schemes. Can a sapling replace an 80-year-old tree? It’s all hogwash.

As a matter of fact, the entire effort is solely directed towards infrastructural growth and real-estate development,” said Manoj Misra of Peace Institute of Charitable Institute, the anchor-stage of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan (YJA).

The 22-km stretch of the Yamuna floodplains and beds constitutes one of the two most precious natural riches of Delhi, with the Delhi Ridge being the other.

But, over years, as pointed out by several natural activists and environmentalists, relentless slaughtering of trees and rapid human encroachments have left Delhi’s natural preserves in lurch.

Misra outlined that the ongoing constructions of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA)’s 40-hectare Commonwealth Games Village, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) Yamuna Metro Complex and the yet to start Delhi Transport Corporation’s (DTC) 33-capacity parking lot would irreversibly impact ecological sustainability of the Yamuna bed and floodplains.

The YJA activists, apprehending that a temporary set-up might end up being a permanent threat to Yamuna, have asked the Governor to direct DTC to go for safer alternatives, like its earlier earmarked site next to Pragati Maidan or the open area behind Aakshardham, states Manoj.

Further, countering the rationale of DMRC chief E. Sreedharan behind Metro complexes, including station, depot, residential colonies, Parsvath builders mall etc, he added that the metro complex first at Shastri Park on north-east of Old-Railway Bridge and now at Yamuna Bank are indefensible and ill-considered decisions.

According to experts, the architectural blueprints of the various structures coming up across the Yamuna stretch are highly inappropriate and very much against the natural design of floodplain ecology.

“The massive constructions covering the Yamuna bed and floodplain would result with concretisation of large chunks of it. Consequently, on one hand there would be an increased risk of flood damage to the city and on the other the ground water recharge potential would be adversely affected that aids in almost 50 per cent of the water supplies in the city,” explained Manoj Misra.

Top

 

Repealing Sec 377
Centre not to decide in haste

Thiruvananthapuram, June 28
A decision on repealing the controversial Section of the Penal Law which criminalises homosexuality would be taken only after considering concerns of all sections of society, including religious groups like the church, Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily said today.

A meeting of the Union Home, Health and Law Ministers would be held to have a re-look at Section 377 of IPC banning sex between people of the same gender, but a final decision would be taken only after taking into account concerns of all sections of the society, he told a meet-the-press programme.

“The Cabinet has mandated to have a re-look at the provision. But we are not going to rush to any conclusion. We will certainly take into account concerns of all sections, including religious groups like Christian church,” he said.

Moily, however, did not say how soon the ministerial meeting would be held. “This is a matter now engaging a national debate. It is also before court, which has favoured the government to have a look at it. While having a holistic look, it could lead a repeal of the Section in the IPC. It may also mean not repealing a particular Section,” he said.

Asked if such a radical step would not trigger protests from religious quarters like the church, he said, “We have to discuss all questions before a final decision.”

There was a feeling that the 150-year-old Section in the IPC required a re-look. Though amendments had been proposed to IPC over the time, there was no integrated, comprehensive and holistic look at the clause, he said.

Gay activists hold parades

NEW DELHI: Buoyed by the news that the Centre is considering repealing a controversial section of the penal law which criminalises homosexuality, members of the gay community today held parades in several cities even as the idea did not go down well with religious leaders.

Upbeat gay rights activists welcomed the move and some of them even wanted a change in the law instead of a repeal.

“It’s a very dark area...I know politicians, ministers who are gay. The Article 377 doesn’t matter anymore. No one really cares,” said fashion designer Rohit Bal.

Thousands of gay rights activists took part in queer marches here and in Bangalore and Chennai.

“This kind of law should go. We are happy the government seems to be taking steps towards that,” said Manohar, founder of gay rights group Sangama, in Bangalore.

“Article 377 should be read down till we have a comprehensive law which looks at sexual violence, where children are concerned, male rape is concerned,” said Vijay Reddy, an activist in Chennai.

However, religious leaders expressed their reservations over the move. Meanwhile, homosexuals and transgenders in Delhi hoped that the health ministry will also come on board in favour of repealing the law.

"While the law and the home ministry have already shown positive signs, we hope the health ministry will also do the same," said Ponni, a gay rights activist working for a Bangalore-based organisation. — PTI

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |