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Dams might have negative influence on River Ganges, says Water Resource Ministry of India

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Broken end of footbridge over the Mandakini river at Rudraprayag Image: Wikimedia Commons
  • Hydroelectric projects on Mandakini, Bhagirathi and Alaknanda river might affect Ganges in a negative manner  
  • The water resource ministry wants SC to review these projects
  • The region around the projects are geologically weak and seismically active 

NEW DELHI: The water resource ministry has opposed the hydroelectric projects on the Alaknanda, Bhagirathi and Mandakini River hence contradicting the permission given by environment and power ministries for setting up of dams.

After the Kedarnath incident of 2013, when around 100,000 pilgrims remain trapped in the Uttarakhand valley after serious landslides and bad monsoon, the Supreme Court had put a hold on all the 70 proposed hydroelectric projects on the Alaknanda-Bhagirathi river basin. On May 10, SS Patwalia, additional solicitor general brought to notice that the environment and power ministry has approved the construction of five of the six projects, namely— Lata-Tapovan (171 MW), Jhelum Tamak (108 MW), Kotlibhel 1-A (195MW), Alaknanda (300 MW), Khironi Ganga (4 MW) and Bhyunder Ganga (24 MW).

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The water resource ministry headed by Uma Bharati informed the Supreme Court that any further hydroelectric projects on Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi rivers can be dangerous for Ganga.

State of Sri Kedarnath Temple during the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy
State of Sri Kedarnath Temple during the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy

The ministry argued that the permission was given before the unfortunate Kedarnath tragedy of 2013 but now there is need for a comprehensive hydrological and hydro-geological study to know how dams can affect the flow of rivers.

“All these new projects are coming up close to the existing projects, many of which are in ecologically sensitive areas hindering the source of fresh water resource. Hence, any further project will have substantial impact on ecological footprint of the area,” the ministry said.

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According to the ministry, the permitted projects are around regions which are geologically weak and seismically sensitive. So, there is a need to review these projects. The ministry said that Ganga could remain pure and pristine only if Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi rivers are allowed to flow freely invoking the ‘Aviral Dhara’ of the Indian government which aims for a clean and continuous flow of the river Ganga.

-This report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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Triple Talaq Ban in India: Union Cabinet Passes Bill Making the Practice a Criminal Offence

The BMMA celebrates its victory over the much-debated practice of instant divorce

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Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban
Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban, VOA News
  • Supreme court had ruled that the practice of triple talaq as illegal in August 2017.
  • On December 15, the Union Cabinet passed a bill which would make it a criminal offence
  • .The bill recommends a sentence of imprisonment for three years in case of a violation.
  • The bill also makes provisions for “subsistence allowance” for the women divorced through triple talaq.

On December 15, the Union Cabinet of India cleared a draft legislation, which would make the controversial practice of triple talaq a criminal offence in India, a violation of which may result in imprisonment for a period of three years for the husband. The recently approved bill, deemed as the ‘Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’, was framed by a group of ministers including the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and the Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and was headed by the Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

What is triple talaq

The practice of triple talaq, or talaq-e-biddat, is a Islamic ritual through which a man might divorce his wife by uttering the word ‘talaq’, that is, the Arabic word for ‘divorce’, three times. The controversial practice, which dates back to Islamic scriptures of the 8th century AD, was a common one among the Muslim population in India, often enacted through letters, emails, text messages, Skype and Whatsapp.

The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
The practice of triple talaq still continues, in spite of the ban, VOA News

Triple Talaq Ban

On August 22, 2017, the Supreme Court of India had banned the archaic practice of triple talaq, after a long and hard legal battle fought by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), also known as the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement. “Triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Holy Quran and consequently, it violates Shariat … What is held to be bad in the Holy Quran cannot be good in Shariat and, in that sense, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well,” they had declared, making India the 23rd nation to ban the practice of unilateral divorce, after Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Many non-governmental Islamic organizations, along with certain clerics had opposed the verdict, on the grounds that it was an infringement of their right to religion, which is ensured by Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court, however, had decided to uphold Article 14 of the Constitution, which grants every citizen equality before the law. The verdict had met with mixed reactions among the people of India, attracting applause as well as apprehension all over the country.

The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
Women can now demand subsistence allowance for themselves and minor children, VOA News

However, in spite of the Supreme Court verdict, there have been reports of instant divorces performed through the process of oral declaration, as many continued to ignore the various advisories issued by the government.
The new bill approved by the government also makes provisions for Muslim Women to demand “subsistence allowance” for herself and her minor children from her husband, in case she feels victimised by the now illegal practice of triple talaq.

 

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Cleaning of Ganga is not impossible, but it is very difficult.

The holy river is also one of the most polluted river

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Ganga in Haridwar
A pile of garbage lies on the riverbank along the Ganges riverfront known as "Har ki Pauri," the most sacred spot in the Hindu holy town of Haridwar where devotees throng. VOA

– Saket Suman

About five years ago, when Financial Times journalist and author Victor Mallet began living in Delhi, he was shocked to discover that the Yamuna — “this beautiful river of Indian legend and art” — was chocked with untreated sewage and industrial waste after it had passed through the city on its way to Mathura, Agra and on to join the Ganga at Allahabad He wondered “how a river so sacred to so many Indians could also be so polluted and neglected” and then set out to record the plight of the Ganga.

His exhaustive journey led him to various key locations on the river, including its source at Gaumukh and Sagar Island and the Sunderbans at its mouth in the Bay of Bengal. This culminated in the publication of “River of Life, River of Death” (Oxford University Press/Rs 550/316 pages).

“My conclusion is that it is not impossible (to clean the Ganga) — but it is very difficult. Narendra Modi is the latest of several Indian prime ministers to announce plans to rescue the Ganga — in fact, I would say he has been the most fervent — but like his predecessors, he has struggled to implement these plans despite the availability of funds from India itself and from international donors such as the World Bank and Japan.

“Clearly, the Ganga has enormous problems of physical pollution from sewage, industrial toxins and pesticide run-off. Too much of the water is diverted for irrigation in the dry season, which can leave parts of the river without water before the monsoon. But with political will and public support — I don’t think anyone in India objects to saving the river — it can be done,” Mallet told IANS in an email interview from Hong Kong.

The important thing, he maintained, is to change mindsets and he noted in this context that it is quite common among devout Hindus to say: “Ma Ganga is so spiritually pure that nothing we throw in the river will sully her or make a difference.”

The author said that sensible holy men and environmentalists who care for the Ganga term this as nonsense — and the reason it’s not true is that the Ganga’s very spiritual power arises from its physical properties as a life-giver, as a provider of water and fertility.

“That’s why rivers have always been worshipped in ancient times, including in England. So if you destroy the river’s life-giving qualities through pollution, you destroy the source of her spiritual importance,” he added.

In the book, he also states that it is not impossible to clean the Ganges, “as river clean-ups in Europe and America have shown”.

Elaborating on this, he said: “When I was a child living in London, my mother always told me not to fall in the Thames because the river was so filthy that if I fell in I would have to go to hospital and have my stomach pumped! Yet today the Thames is clean — muddy, but virtually free of industrial pollution and untreated sewage — because successive governments and water and sanitation companies have stopped the pollution.

“The same is true of the Rhine in continental Europe and the Chicago river in the United States. The great thing about rivers is that you don’t have to scrub them clean — you just have to stop polluting them and the natural flow of the river does the rest.”

Mallet maintained that the record on the Ganga has so far been disappointing in terms of implementation, but hoped that there will be a change now that there is a new minister in charge.

“If you clean the Ganga by improving sanitation, you not only save the goddess, you also create thousands of jobs in infrastructure development, and save the lives of thousands of children who die each year because of bad water, poor hygiene and stomach bugs. Likewise, if India curbs its greenhouse gases — and this seems to be happening anyway because alternative energy such as solar power is now very competitive on price — then that will also help it to reduce the kind of air pollution that has recently been afflicting Delhi and the whole of North India,” he maintained.

Mallet went on to add that he learnt a lot about the mythology and the history of the river — and the history of India — in the course of his research for the book.

“In a way, India is so rich in civilisations and stories that you can never say you have completed your work as a researcher and writer. You can at least make a start, and also explain the contemporary political, social, religious and environmental issues that affect the river and the country as a whole,” Mallet said. (IANS)

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Love Jihad Case : Kerala’s State Women Commission Directs SP to submit report on Hadiya’s Condition

24 year old Akhila had converted to Islam and taken the name Hadiya to marry Shafin Jahan.  However, their marriage was declared null and void by the High Court of Kerala

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Office of Kerala Women Comission
Office of Kerala Women Comission. Official Website KWC

Kerala, October 28, 2017 : A day after a video of Hadiya pleading to be ‘saved’ from her father’s brutalities was released, Kerala’s State Women Commission has directed Kottayam Superintendent of Police to inquire and submit a report on Hadiya’s present conditions.

In the video release at a press conference in Kochi by social activist Rahul Eashwar, Hadiya can be heard saying, “You have to get me out. I am sure I will be killed tomorrow or the day after.” Hadiya claims that her father is physically assaulting her and pleads to be saved in the video before her voice trails away.

The direction came following reports that Hadiya is being sedated and physically abused at her parents’ house.

The State Women Commission has told the SP that an officer not less than the rank of a DSP should conduct the inquiry and submit a report on the condition of the 24-year old woman in love jihad case.

24 year old Akhila had converted to Islam and taken the name Hadiya to marry Shafin Jahan.  Their marriage was declared null and void by the High Court of Kerala after Hadiya’s father Ashokan has approached the court, claiming that his daughter had been forcefully converted and her alleged husband was involved in plans to take her out of the country for questionable reasons.

Consequently, Hadiya’s husband Shafin Jahan had approached the Supreme Court and challenged the order by the High Court of Kerala, which is still hearing the case.

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala