Tamil Nadu, MP Hit
JAL SATYAGRAHA DEBUTS
New Delhi, Sept 15 :Fasting as a form of protest against Government ‘Atyachar’ is today passé. It has made way for nouvelle Satyagraha: Protesters standing in neck-deep water to get their demands heard by Governments. First, Madhya Pradesh and now Tamil Nadu are the latest victims of demonstrators’ water canons. This new form of agitation originated in MP’s Khandwa district wherein over 100 Narmada Bachao Aandolan activists submerged in water for nearly a fortnight since 25 August to get the State authorities agree to their claims for rehabilitation and compensation. Faced with this innovative campaign, that too two months prior to Assembly polls, a harried Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan agreed to compensate the affected villagers with land and reduce the Omkareshwar Dam’s height. Barely, had the State Administration recovered from the satyagrahis’ water torpedo, it had to grapple with an encore at the Indira Sagar Dam in Khardana village, Harda district. However, this time round, the demonstrators water therapy failed to elicit a positive response from the State Government and they were forcibly ‘fished out’. Underscoring, that while novel warfare delivers success, a repeat need not spell victory.
Yet, in Tamil Nadu for those opposed to the Kundakulam nuclear power plant Jal Satyagraha has come as boon. With the State Government refusing to heed their demands for over a year, the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy activists took a leaf from their counterparts in Madhya Pradesh and formed a human chain in water off Chennai’s Indinthakarai coast last Thursday. The agitators have put forward four demands — stop the Projects fuel loading process, provide adequate compensation to those who lost their lands, drop plans to arrest the anti-nuclear movement leaders and release those already in custody. Needless to say, leaders of coastal States and those boasting off large rivers are busy praying to Lord Indra: Prevent them from being the next target of Jal Satyagrahis!
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Samajwadi Launches Missile
Reeling under Coalgate, the Congress was hit by a bolt-out-of-the-blue Samajwadi missile by its enemy-turned-friend. Addressing his National Executive Meet in Kolkata, Mulayam Singh attacked the ruling Party over a litany of scams tumbling out of the UPA Government. Sitting pretty with son Akhilesh, firmly entrenched as UP’s Chief Minister, Mulayam lived up to his wily credentials. Stating that 2014 would be firmly “decisive”, he extolled partymen to work in a way whereby the SP emerges ‘king maker’ of the next Central Government. Raising a moot point: Has the SP supremo sounded the bugle of distancing himself from the Congress? Is he now hedging bets, notwithstanding the Party’s outside support to the UPA-II? The crafty former UP Chief Minister knows only to well that the Congress needs the SP’s 22 MPs in the Lok Sabha to counter the Trinamool’s stormy petrel Mamata. Interestingly, many wonder whether his decision to hold the Party meet in West Bengal was a ‘peace offering’ to Mamata, following their falling out over the Presidential elections. Clearly, the 2014 electoral pot has begun to simmer!
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Goa Mining Scam
Goa can earn the dubious distinction of outdoing even Karnataka in illegal iron ore mining. Further, it appears to be equally stubborn as the southern State in doing precious little to make amends. The recently released Justice M.B. Shah Commission report, which looked into the issue of illegal mining of iron ore and manganese in Goa has revealed that the State exchequer suffered a loss of Rs 34,935 crore and that about 11,000 ha of forest land had been encroached upon. However, in comparison the Karnataka scam, which has been hitting the headlines looks smaller (Rs 12000-odd crore loss and 8,000 ha of forest land encroached). This, apart, Goa administration appears to have roped in the Union Environment Ministry to rake it in. Apparently, the illegal mines functioned blatantly for over five years violating all norms of environment protection. Ironically, while the operations, which have made the exporters of ore “richer and richer,” have been temporarily suspended, the trade of the ore shall not stop! The Parrikar government of the BJP, which had defeated incumbent Congress on the illegal iron ore mining issue, has allowed trade of ore already extracted!
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Gujarat In Poll Mode
Gujarat has gone into the election mode. Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is running for a third consecutive term kicked-off his poll campaign on Tuesday last, with a month-long Vivekananda Yuva Vikas Yatra, even though the Assembly elections are yet to be announced. While Modi has sought to make development of the State his key message to the electorate, he is not giving up hope of playing a role at the national level, provided first if he can deliver. Modi has thus calculatedly decided to target the Congress at the Centre, where it shall hurt most—corruption cases from 2G to Coalgate. Taking up the national issues, he seems to have set the tone of what should follow, in his own words to a 70,000-odd audience: “Gujarat’s voice was becoming India’s voice. The nation wants what Gujarat has.” Indeed, while it’s too early to make any guesses on how he shall fare, the BJP’s long-time partner, the JD(U) has decided to raise the stakes for Modi. Its chief Sharad Yadav made it amply clear that his party will go for any alliance with the BJP, barring Gujarat! The JD (U) has decided to fight the State polls on its own and is contemplating contesting 100 of the 182 seats. The going gets tougher for Modi.
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Relief For Drought-Hit States
The Centre has some good news for drought-hit districts in four States. The Empowered Group of Ministers on drought is set to release over 800 crores to the 100-odd districts for drinking water schemes before the end of the month. Besides, it has decided to give an additional five per cent interest rebate for crop loans that can be rescheduled in the regions. The States—Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat can thus heave a sigh of relief. This apart, the group decided to provide 50 days of additional employment to job seekers under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNERA) in these drought-hit districts. The job seekers can now look to 150 days of employment as against 100 days. Additionally, the Centre has decided to increase its fodder production units share to 75 from 50 per cent and that the fodder concentrate cost would be subsidised by 25 to 50 per cent for six cattle per farmer. While the measures may not be enough, it is at least a beginning.—INFA
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