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Tribals to oppose ‘Statue of Unity’ unveiling by Modi

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Sardar Patelt Statue

Ahmedabad, Oct 20 : As the BJP governments, both at the state and the Centre, gear up for the unveiling of the tallest statue in the world — “Statue of Unity” of Sardar Patel — by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31, thousands of tribals in villages near the site are bracing for a major showdown against the project.

Local tribal organisations said as many as 75,000 tribals adversely affected by the Statue of Unity project would oppose the Prime Minister and the unveiling of statue at Kevadia in Narmada district.

“No food will be cooked in 72 villages affected by the entire project, as we will be mourning on that day, for the project is being carried out for our destruction,” said Dr. Praful Vasava, a tribal leader. Traditionally, food is not cooked in a tribal village when they are mourning for the dead.

He told IANS: “Our rights as tribals are being violated by the government. We don’t have anything against the great son of Gujarat, Sardar Patel, and his honour should be maintained. We are not against this development even, but this government’s development idea is lopsided and against the tribals.”

The tribals are complaining that their lands were taken away for the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project, near which is the statue site, as well as for the statue and all other tourism activities which have been planned in the area.

According to Vasava, this “non-cooperation movement” is being supported by around 100 small and big tribal organisations across the state. “Right from Banaskantha in North Gujarat to the Dangs district in South Gujarat, nine tribal districts will be joining us in the agitation,” he said.

“And the ‘Bandh’ will not only be limited to schools, offices or commercial establishments, but households will also be silent (no cooking) on the 31st joining us.”

Out of the 72 villages affected by the statue project, the most affected are 32, where 19 villages are such where rehabilitation has not been allegedly completed, six villages where the current Kevadia colony is situated and seven villages in Garudeshwar block, where only compensation has been paid but other commitments like land and jobs have not been fulfilled.

“The government took away our land and only paid us the money for it, but other commitments like alternative land, providing jobs to the affected have not been carried out as per the rehabilitation package, according to the Narmada Tribunal Authority. Some of the affected have not even accepted that money, opposing the land acquisition,” said Rameshbhai from Garudeshwar.

Of the people who had been allotted land, there are many who are not satisfied.

“Gujarat government gave me one hectare land in Sagbara region in lieu of my fertile cultivable land which was submerged in the Sardar Sarovar. But the entire land is uncultivable and totally unproductive. What am I to do with such piece of land?” asked Parchi Bondu, an affected tribal.

IANS

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Coronavirus: Karnataka’s Covid tally crosses 5 lakh

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Coronavirus in India

Bengaluru, Sep 19 : With 8,626 fresh cases across the state on Friday, Karnataka’s Covid-19 tally crossed the 5 lakh mark, while 10,949 people were discharged after treatment in the last 24 hours.

“The number of positive cases across the state is 5,02,982, including 1,01,129 active cases, while 3,94,026 cases were discharged since March 8,” said the health bulletin.

With 179 patients succumbing to the infection during the day, the state’s toll has gone up to 7,808.

Bengaluru, which is the epicentre of the disease in the state, registered 3,623 cases during the day, taking its tally to 1,87,705, including 41,914 active cases, while 1,43,198 patients were discharged till date, with 2,725 in the last 24 hours.

With 37 deaths during the day, the city’s toll has increased to 2,592.

“The number of patients in the intensive care units (ICU) across the state is 814, including 271 in Bengaluru Urban district, Dharwad 74, Ballari 67 and Hassan 62,” the bulletin said.

Mysuru saw 600 new cases, Udupi 493, Dakshina Kannada 456, Ballari 296, Shivamogga 257 and Belagavi 221.

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One dead, 22 fall sick after consuming ‘local alcohol’ in Andhra

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Local Alcohal

Visakhapatnam, Sep 18 : One person died and 22 others fell sick after consuming suspected ‘local alcohol’ in three villages of Andhra Pradesh’s Vizianagaram district.

“There were 22 cases reported. The complaint basically is swelling in the leg, pain in the stomach, and reddishness in the eyes. There was no other symptom. By the time this came to us, one person died,” Visakhapatnam District Collector V. Vinay Chand told IANS.

Chinaraba, Kotaparthy and Kakaravalasa are the three villages where the sickness afflicted the unsuspecting tribals.

Chinaraba has a population of 248, Koaparthy 95 and Kakaravalasa 125. Most of the ailing tribals are in their 30s and 40s.

Kakaravalasa is 52 km north west of Vishakhapatnam.

All the 22 who fell sick, were shifted to the King George Hospital (KGH) in Visakhapatnam for treatment.

Though the health department conducted a medical camp in the tribal village, they did not improve, necessitating them to be shifted to KGH.

“The condition of all of them is stable and they are being continuously monitored. They have all been tested for Covid, they have all turned negative,” said Chand.

The health department has collected more blood samples from the tribals for further testing, those results are expected in a day.

Chand said the tribals were also diagnosed with malnourishment.

Though the reason for the tribals’ ailment hasn’t been established, officials are suspecting the consumption of local alcohol.

“It is suspected that there was some consumption of liquor. The tribals normally consume locally available liquor. However, this is yet to be confirmed,” the Collector clarified.

According to Chand, tribals were known to be consuming various types of locally available alcohol, however, he said if that liquor was contaminated or illicit is not clear.

“There are a lot of stories going around, I’m not really sure until we get more information and I cannot confirm or negate anything. Probable reason was any consumption of locally available toddy, but that is also subject to confirmation,” the officer observed.

The medical camp will continue for the next 7 – 10 days in the tribal villages. Medical staff are educating the tribals on personal hygiene, washing hands and drinking warm water.

They were also advised on coronavirus, told to refrain from consuming stored meat and also explained the adverse effects of alcohol.

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Liquor mafia operating in Punjab, Centre should probe: Congress MP

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liquor sales

New Delhi, Sep 18 : Charging that a liquor mafia was operating in Punjab under political patronage, a Congress MP from the state on Friday demanded the Centre”s intervention and probe into the matter through the CBI or independent agencies.

Congress MP Shamsher Singh Dullo raised the matter during the Zero Hour in the Upper House of Parliament, saying “no action” has been taken in the matter despite 136 people losing their life in the state recently after consuming spurious liquor.

Dullo said, in the recent hooch tragedy in the state, 150 people were hospitalised in addition to 136 deaths.

While several people have turned blind after drinking spurious liquor, kidneys of many have been impacted but no action has been taken against the perpetrators of the crime, he said, demanding compensation for the family of those killed and impacted.

He charged that the “liquor mafia in the state was operating under political patronage” and there was a police nexus.

Nine illegal distilleries were being run and supplying liquor to neighbouring Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh among other states, the MP said.

He said neighbouring countries were involved in it and demanded the Centre”s intervention to probe the issue through the CBI a retired high court judge or any independent agency so that culprits could be booked.

Dullo said he met the governor of the state but no action has been taken and that the matter pertains to inter-state illegal racket and theft of taxes.

Raising another issue during the Zero Hour, Tiruchi Siva (DMK) demanded 90 per cent representation in jobs to residents of the state in local enterprises, saying at present there is an unequal representation of states in Central government jobs.

In the recently conducted exams in the state for various central government undertakings including Chennai Petrol, the percentage of locals was minimum, he said.

In Tamil Nadu alone, 84 lakh people have registered themselves with employment exchanges and the percentage of unemployment was 7.6 per cent despite the youth there being qualified and securing top ranks in the UPSC, he said.

He also noted that highly qualified people had applied for the post of sanitary workers due to high unemployment in the state.

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