Visakhapatnam: 13-year-old girl rescued from brick kiln at Padmanabham

The Hindu | Staff Reporter | 13 Feb, 2022

Action will be taken against brick kiln owner, say officials

Members of Childline Services, Labour Department officials and the city police conducted raids on a brick kiln industry and rescued a 13-year-old girl who was allegedly made to work at the industry at Krishnapuram village under Padmanabham Police Station limits here on Sunday.

The teams conducted raid based on the complaint received by the District Collector, Child Welfare Committee (CWC) members and the city police from Visakhapatnam-based NGO Samata and Odisha-based NGO KBK Resource Centre.

According to Coordinator of Childline (1098) services David Raju, it was alleged that a four-year-old and 13-year old girl, daughters of one Raju, were made to work at the brick kiln industry. Raju is from Nandupala village of Balangir district of Odisha. “In the investigation, we found that only 13-year-old girl was made to work. The Labour Department as well as police officials are initiating action against the owner of the brick kiln industry as per law,” he said.

‘No molestation’
Meanwhile the Childline officials also ruled out the allegations of molestation against the wife of Raju and his minor daughters. “We have spoken to the wife of Raju. There were no such incidents,” Mr. David Raju said.

With the help of the Police Department, the family is being sent to their native place in Odisha.

Visakhapatnam: NGOs allege child labour and molestation at a brick kiln

The Hindu | Special Correspondent | 13 Feb, 2022

‘A middleman brought the family from Odisha to the kiln last year’

Odisha-based NGO KBK Resource Centre and Visakhapatnam-based Samata have lodged a complaint with the city police, District Collector and Child Welfare Committee on an alleged child labour and child molestation case at a brick kiln at Krishnapuram village in Padmanabham mandal of Visakhapatnam district on Saturday.

They alleged that a family from Nandupala village of Balangir district of Odisha, was trafficked to the kiln by a middleman, in October, last year.

The victim Raju Jal (40) had come to the kiln with his wife and three children, including two girl children, all aged between 4 and 13 years of age.

According to Sushant Panigrahi of KBK, Raju was not paid as promised and when he had asked he was not only allegedly assaulted but also denied payment. But he managed to escape and reach home, but his family members are being allegedly kept as hostage and even his four-year-old son is being made to work.

Mr. Sushant also said that Raju’s wife had spoken to them and had complained that the kiln owner’s son and his friends have been allegedly sexually molesting her and her minor daughters, every night under inebriated condition.

‘Prompt action promised’
“We have sent e-mail complaints to all the departments and have also spoken to them on Saturday, including the RDO and DCP (urban). We have been assured of prompt action,” he said.

Polavaram — displaced and nowhere to go: Ineligible for rehabilitation, many in a fix

Down To Earth | Shagun | 15 Dec, 2021

Several disqualified from rehabilitation process on absurd grounds, found DTE

Those displaced by the Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh have found themselves in the middle of yet another quandary: Scores of them are ineligible for rehabilitation by the state government.

The Polavaram irrigation project, set to be operationalised by April 2022, will displace the highest number of people in India’s history of such projects: 106,006 families across 222 villages (total 373 habitations) in Andhra Pradesh, upon completion.

Many who haven’t been given a house or compensation yet have been living in the hope of a promised rehabilitation. But those who have been disqualified from the rehabilitation process on absurd grounds after being displaced find themselves at the bottom rung of the ladder.

Take the case of K Ramanagara, a washerwoman from the now submerged Ramanayyapeta village. She is not eligible for the rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) package — she and her family weren’t present in the village on the day of the survey for relocation by the government in 2009.

During that time, her now handicapped husband was bitten by a snake while working in fields and the family had to temporarily shift to Rajahmundry for his treatment.

“The government surveyed the village for relocation and missed my name. I have all documents to prove my residence. I visited the authorities here several times but they do not pay heed to my requests,” she said.

She is now living in a rented house in Krishnunipalem, some 35 km from her village, where she pays Rs 2,000 a month. She uses Rs 3,000 disability pension her husband gets to pay for it.

There is not much laundry work in the colony the family has shifted to. So, Ramanagara wants to work as agricultural labourer. But after displacement and subsequent shifting, there is surplus labour in the area and subsequently, not enough jobs.

Dasara Venkatesh, 45, has stayed all his life in Chinaramayapeta village. But he was told he was ineligible for compensation after the “government lost his identity cards and papers”.

The papers were later found but he is still struggling to get his name included in the list of people eligible for compensation.

Sidda Sachinarayan, a journalist and among the displaced, lives in the same colony as Venkatesh. He said the government left people out very randomly from the compensation lists.

“Initially, when the decision of relocation was taken, the government depended on Socio-Economic and Caste census data. But later, they conducted surveys at village level and began to disqualify people on different grounds,” he said.

Gangadhar Rao, a fisherman, didn’t have a ration card of the village he lived in till May 2021. He had migrated to Devipatnam in 2004 because fishing opportunities were better.

He and his family have now been living in a fishing boat along with four other families, who are awaiting construction of their houses in an R&R colony, for about seven months now.

The other families have at least got the compensation money. Till May 2021, his three kids (in grades III, V and VI) went to the now-submerged school building. They later dropped out.

Ravi Rebbapragada, executive director, Samata, which has been working with the displaced population in East and West Godavari districts, said the government should conduct a reassessment of all disqualified people.

“This is an aberration. If even one per cent people are left out or disqualified, it is unjust because they have really sacrificed their land for everybody,” he said.

The government not compensating for ‘banjar land’ is another battle that the displaced population is fighting.

Banjar land is unregistered government land but cultivated by villagers, mostly tribals, for many years now. The R&R package includes compensating people for their agricultural land; banjar land has not been surveyed or included in the package.

“People have been cultivating banjar lands for 40 years or so. We have demanded providing pattas (a land deed) of such land to the government authorities. The Polavaram Project Authority also acknowledged it but things have not moved,” said S Jhansi Lakshmi, Andhra Pradesh state president of Rythu Kuli Sangha, a non-profit working for the displaced.

We don’t how much of this land exists in the state because it’s not registered, she added. There is no data or record of such land which was the livelihood for many people in the submerged villages.

K Abhay Reddy (45), his wife and three children had been dependent on two acres of such land for their livelihood since 2006. “Other families can at least claim compensation. We can’t even do that because we don’t have the papers. The government lies. Before shifting to the colony, the officers made promises that we will get better work but that is not the case here.”

Rebbapragada said the authorities have been disqualifying people occupying banjar land on technical grounds, but it is unjust in terms of rehabilitation being an inclusive process.

“The land is technically owned by the government and people cultivating on it are not entitled to compensation, but when the Polavaram Authority is genuine about rehabilitating every person then it should think about giving some compensation on account of banjar land, if not giving them an equivalent piece of land,” he said.

Another problem — of cut-off date — was also found across all colonies. According to the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, those aged 18 years were eligible for compensation at the time of the survey. However, by the time the process started, a significant number of new youth population had become eligible for compensation.

“This issue, coupled with not providing R&R package to married women above 18 years, is an exclusionary process,” said Rebbapragada.

Rajasthan High Court directs state govt to conduct training of Principal Magistrates for sensitizing them with JJ Act

India Legal | July 15, 2021

A suo motu case has been filed based on a news report published in ‘Dainik Bhaskar’ relating to the miserable condition being faced by the oral and hearing disabled children housed in a school Hostel in Jodhpur.

The Rajasthan High Court has directed the state government to conduct training of Principal Magistrates in Juvenile Justice Boards for sensitising them with the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.

The Division Bench comprising Justice Manoj Kumar Garg and Justice Sandeep Mehta passed these directions on July 13, during the hearing of a suo motu case based on a news report published in ‘Dainik Bhaskar’ relating to the miserable condition being faced by the oral and hearing disabled children housed in a school Hostel in Jodhpur.

Additional Advocate General (AAG) Pankaj Sharma placed on record a copy of the communication dated June 1, 2021 issued by the Mining Department, Government of Rajasthan, which indicated that as per Rule 15 of the District Mineral Foundation Trust Rules, 2016, the fund of District Mineral Foundation Trust and State Mineral Foundation Trust for upliftment of the Child Care Institutions (CCIs) can be used for the welfare of Women and Children.

Further, a copy of the order dated March 17, 2021 has been placed on record, as per which, appointments of Officers have been made on the vacant posts of Principal Magistrates, Juvenile Justice Board, in accordance with Section 4 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

In this background, the Court expected that the Department of Child Rights shall immediately move the concerned members, be it State or District Trust, for allocation of funds from the Mineral Trust Funds, so that the Child Care Institutions in the entire state can be upgraded.

The bench observed that the training of Principal Magistrates, Juvenile Justice Board has already been scheduled by the Rajasthan State Juvenile Academy in this week itself.

In light of above facts, the Court directed AAG Anil Gaur, representing the Child Rights Department, shall ensure that a training programme is organised within next 45 days for training and sensitisation with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act), 2015.

“Child Right Activist Govind Beniwal pointed out that there is no regulatory body, which can monitor the functioning of Child Welfare Committees, thus appropriate directions are required to be issued in this regard for ensuring proper functioning of Child Welfare Committees across the State,” the order read.

The Court therefore also directed Govind Beniwal, to meet the Secretary, Child Rights Department in order to chalk out an action plan for effective monitoring of the functioning of Child Welfare Committees.

Matter will be next listed in the first week of September, 2021 for further hearing.

Administrator’s laws put Lakshadweep in the middle of nowhere

The Federal | May 26, 2021

Take a close look at what he has proposed in the name of development – a larger picture being communally polarized in a small tribal territory

Lakshadweep’s new Administrator Praful Khoda Patel’s draft proposals have drawn huge public outcry with many criticizing them as a product of a communal agenda against the majority Muslim population in the island with an intention to tarnish their culture and tradition. A reading of the proposed laws brings out a larger picture that has multiple objectives aimed at creating polarisation in the guise of development.

Here are the proposed laws in chronological order:

The Goonda Act (January 28, 2021): The draft law named as a The Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-social Activities Prevention 2021 which is colloquially known as ‘Goonda Act’ provides arbitrary powers to the Administrator of the island. It empowers the police to detain a person for seven days without giving him the opportunity to represent before a court of law.

“It is meant to terrorize people and prevent protests. Goonda Act is the beginning of their saffronisation project in the island,” says Mohammad Faizal, MP from Lakshadweep, while talking to The Federal. He alleged the Administrator was trying to impose authoritarian rule in the island.

Under this law, several offences under IPC which are bailable and those amounting to punishment of less than three years are included. The law empowers the police to keep any person in detention even if there is an apprehension that he may commit an offence causing harm to public interest.

As per this proposed law, a “cruel person” and a “dangerous person” can be taken into custody on the grounds which appear satisfactory to the authority under the Administrator. Section 2 of the draft law defines “cruel person” as one who violates or intends to violate the ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960’.

A dangerous person is defined as one who commits a range of offences such as theft, unlawful assembly, mischief, criminal intimidation, breach of trust, criminal trespass and misconduct by a drunken person in public. In addition, the proposed Goonda Act creates a new category of offence as ‘property grabber’. Section 2(O) of the draft law defines ‘property grabber’ as one who illegally takes possession of land belonging to the government or local authorities.

Several of these offences listed in the draft law are bailable; even non-cognizable which attract punishment for less than three years or six months or fine. The offences like ‘unlawful assembly’ are often used against protesters who gather for any social or political cause.

Under the proposed ‘Goonda Act’ any person can be detained even before committing any offence on the grounds that there was reasonable apprehension of his committing any of the offences. The person can be kept in custody without even being informed the reasons for his arrest for seven days.

Lakshadweep Town & Country Planning Regulation 2021 (April 28, 2021): The law proposes formation of a development authority which is to be empowered to notify any area of land classifying into any of the four categories as ‘residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial’.

In the guise of development, the authority is empowered to acquire any land notified under the Land Acquisition Act of 2013. Under this law, the government is entitled to declare any land as planning area by notification.

According to Section 35 of the draft law, the people — owners of the notified land — have to seek approval of the town planning authority for any ‘change of use’ of the land. This includes even the alteration of houses in the exterior. The permission is granted only for three years which has to be renewed; failure or delay in renewal will lead to a fine of up to ₹ 2 lakh (section 37). “This literally takes away one’s right over one’s land,” says Advocate Rohit, a lawyer at the Kerala High Court who handles law suits in Lakshadweep as well.

Rohit argues that the new law is brought to overrule the land rights entitled to the tribal community in Lakshadweep by the Land Revenue and Tenancy Regulation Act of 1965 pertaining to Lakshadweep and Minicoy islands. (Only revenue land can be used for any development activity by the government according to this Act).

“Lakshadweep, a tribal majority Union Territory with a 94.8 per cent tribal population should enjoy protection under Article 244 of the Constitution as it is notified as a scheduled area under the Fifth Schedule and PESA Act of 1996,” says C.R. Bijoy, an expert on land rights.

Besides, the authority of town planning is vested in the local bodies according to 73rd Amendment of the Constitution.

Notification for the transfer of powers from the PRIs to the Administrator (May 5, 2021): Many say the notification has close links to the proposed law for creating an authority to have the powers to take over the land. The notification transfers the entire establishments of agriculture, fisheries, animal husbandry, health and education with immediate effect to the hands of the Administrator. The order explains that the transfer of powers to the PRIs in 2012 ‘had overburdened the PRIs which caused an adverse impact upon the efficiency of the execution of schemes’ which is cited as the reason for this current decision.

The proposed beef ban, omission of meat from the noon meal and the lifting of liquor ban in the name of tourism are widely criticized as provocative steps challenging their culture, tradition and religious practices.

The creation of a new category of offence as ‘property grabber’ and bringing the same under Gunda Act, the suppression of fundamental rights, the introduction of a law that empowers the authorities to acquire any land for development and the shifting of powers from the PRIs to the Administrator set the alarm bells ringing for the people of the island.

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