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NITI Aayog has been asked to work on a new energy policy: Arvind Panagariya

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By NewsGram Staff-Writer

NITI-AayogNew Delhi: In continuance with the erstwhile Planning Commissions’ efforts to decontrol energy prices, NITI Aayog to work on a new integrated energy policy that intends to provide energy security, right pricing mechanism, maintain quality standards, and promote competition.

While speaking at the launch of “India Energy Security Scenarios (IESS) 2047 Version 2.0”, Arvind Panagariya , the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog said: “Energy is an important ingredient in any country’s growth recipe. NITI Aayog has been asked to work on a new energy policy,” according to a report in Economic Times.

With an intention to assess India’s energy needs, domestic energy production and energy import requirements, the Planning Commission had prepared “India Energy Security Scenarios (IESS) 2047” in 2013-14.

Now, the NITI Aayog has brought in IESS 2047 Version 2.0 that has refined and made improvements to the original version. The IESS 2.0 gives three different scenarios for the GDP growth in the coming decades. The scenarios include GDP growth at 7.4 per cent, 6.7 per cent, and 5.8 per cent between 2012 and 2047.

According to ET report, India’s energy imports are likely to become double by 2030.

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Undaunted Initiative by tribal women for forest preservation in Muturkham, Jharkhand

Muturkhum forest saved from deforestation and exploitation under Timber mafia due to collective efforts of tribal women

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forest under the threat o deforestation in Muthurkam saved by tribal women. pexeby

8th Nov, 2017, Jharkhand:Armed with just water bottles and sticks, a group of poor tribal women in Muturkham village of Purbi Singhbhum district of Jharkhandtrekked miles to the sal forest that surrounded their habitat. Their mission: To save the forest from being plundered and denuded by the “forest mafia”.

Accompanied by just a dog for their safety, these determined women made frequent forays into the deep forest — with which they shared a symbiotic relationship — and have been able, over the years, to successfully conserve 50 hectares of forest land and its flora and fauna deep in the heart of a territory that has also been a battle zone between government forces and left-wing extremists.

This group was brought together by Jamuna Tudu, 37, who has spent the last two decades of her life fighting against deforestation. It was in 1998, after her marriage, that Jamuna took up this challenge of preserving the forest by making villagers develop a stake in it.

 

orest saved from deforestation by tribal women in Muturkham. pexeby

Today, her Van Suraksha Samiti (Forest Protection Group) has about 60 active women members who patrol the jungle in shifts thrice a day: Morning, noon and evening. And sometimes even at night, as the mafia set fire to the forests in random acts of vandalism and vengeance.

Jamuna’s fight has not gone unnoticed. The President of India has honoured her conservation efforts.

“Few days after my marriage, when my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and a few other women from the village took me to the forest to cut wood and get it to cook food, I felt that if we keep cutting the trees this way, all our forests will be wiped out,” Jamuna recalled to IANS in an interview.

In her quest, she had to battle against the mafia that was chopping down trees for their precious sal timber with complete disregard for the law or the tribal tradition that prohibits cutting of the trees.

Realising that she would get little help from authorities, who may well have been hand in glove with the mafia, she took matters in her own hands. She spoke to a few women of the village who were quite aghast at the task she had taken on. We won’t do it; this will require us to fight the men in the village, they told her.

But Jamuna, who has studied up to Class X, foresaw a bleak green-less future for herself and her community with no trees and forests to sustain or protect them.

‘Jungle nahi rahega toh paryavaran kaise bachega (how will we protect the environment if the forest is destroyed)?’ she asked.

Jamuna’s clear understanding of the issue soon trickled down to the other women and even men in her village.

“I was brought up with a love and respect for nature. My father used to plant numerous trees in our farms in Odisha. That’s where I learnt the importance of the environment,” she said.

Pointing out how the mafia was exploiting the wood from Muturkham to fund their alcohol needs, she said she was bewildered by the passive response of the community at their habitat being slowly destroyed.

“I went on to speak to a few women in the village. I held a meeting with them several times to be able to convince them that we needed to protect our beautiful forests,” she said.

Gradually, she mobilised a group of 25 women from the village and armed them with bows and arrows, bamboo sticks and spears, they marched into the forest to take on the forest predators.

With time, many men also became part of the campaign against deforestation, but most of the effort has continued to be from women, said Jamuna.

There are many daunting challenges that came their way, but their single-minded dedication towards their cause kept them going.

“There were too many altercations with the village people initially.. many scuffles with the mafia… and I told those women that in this journey, we would come across both good and bad times, but we have to struggle to keep the forest,” said Jamuna.

The group convinced the railway authorities to bar the plundered wood from being exported.

“Some time in 2008-09, we were brutally attacked by the mafia,” she said.

“They pelted stones at us while we were coming back from the railway station after speaking to the station master. Everybody got injured,” she added.

For obvious reasons, Jamuna, the woman whose initiatives were hampering their business, was their main target. She and her husband suffered most in the assault.

“My husband got hit on his head as he tried to save me. It was dark and we somehow managed to run away. We narrowly escaped death that day.” But she did not give up.

Over 15 years of many fierce encounters with the mafia and relentless sensitisation of the community, Jamuna, and the Van Suraksha Samiti that she formed, have succeeded in protecting and conserving the 50 hectares of forest land not just surrounding her village, but around many others as well.

Tribal communities cannot survive without wood. They need it for various things — mostly to cook food. But they ensure that their requirements remain within sustainable limits.

“We don’t cut trees on purpose any more and use the fallen trees and branches for all our needs,” Jamuna said. “The amount we are able to save up during the rains is sufficient for the whole year.”

The Forest Department has “adopted” her village, which has led to Muturkham getting a water connection and a school.

In 2013, Jamuna was conferred with the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award in the ‘Acts of Social Courage’ category and this year in August, she was awarded with Women Transforming India Award by the NITI Aayog.

Today, she runs awareness campaigns through various forest committees in Kolhan Division. Around 150 committees formed by Jamuna, comprising more than 6,000 members, have joined her movement to save the forests.

She wants to do a lot more. “I wish to do a lot… to make a lot more difference, but I am bound by limited resources. I can’t in many ways afford to go beyond the villages in my state.”

But if I get more support, many more forests like ours can be saved, she declared.

(This feature is part of a special series that seeks to bring unique and extraordinary stories of ordinary people, groups and communities from across a diverse, plural and inclusive India, and has been made possible by a collaboration between IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation. Mudita Girotra can be contacted at mudita.g@ians.in)

 

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Modi to roll out road-map for improving governance

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: In keeping with its vision of Team India and state’s participation in development activities, Modi chaired NITI Aayog is all set to roll out a road map to assist the states to improve governance and monitor and evaluate the progress against various development parameters, a report in Economic Times said.

The Aayog has written letters to all the states expressing its intention to work with them. The letter states: We at NITI would be delighted to work with the state government to drive the objectives of development and governance. Working together we should be able to put together a baseline document in four months, if not sooner.”

The Aayog has already developed an indicative template that can be then modified according to specific needs and conditions of the different states. The template has been developed to assist states to develop indicators from district level upwards, which can serve as benchmarks for future evaluations.

Further, it aims to rationalize all government’s expenditure, standardize state-level laws and create district and block-level framework documents to implement target-oriented growth, as per the ET report.

But, it is yet to be seen how the states would respond to this proposal. It is likely to face opposition from Congress-ruled states.

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Sonia slams govt on Naga peace accord, BJP denies charge

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday attacked the government on the Naga peace accord, but the BJP rejected the charge and accused the opposition party of “playing politics on a national issue”.

“We are really shocked that the prime minister (Narendra Modi) didn’t even think of taking into confidence the chief ministers of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, which are the directly affected states,” Sonia Gandhi told reporters in the parliament complex.

“It is the arrogance on part of this government. How can an accord be signed without consulting the chief ministers that are directly affected, even if the accord is being termed as historic,” she asked.

“I have no doubt that it may be historic, but what about consulting our chief ministers?” Sonia Gandhi said.

“Their arrogance is now even more clear. It is not just an insult to the chief ministers but to people of the states and the federal structure of the country,” the Congress president added.

Rahul Gandhi termed the government’s move to sign the pact with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) an “insult” to the people of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh as they were not even informed about it.

“It’s an insult to every single citizen in these three states and it’s an insult to the people of India the way this government works,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party denied the Congress charge and accused the opposition party of playing “politics even on the issue of national security”.

“Gandhi’s charges are far from the truth as the Congress-ruled states were consulted, but they chose to boycott the meeting,” union minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press conference here.

“How can the Congress chief question the accord when its party leaders, including Ninong Ering and Assam chief minister welcomed it soon after the announcement,” she wondered.

The minister said the Narendra Modi government believed in co-operative federalism and always consulted states on every issue, including land acquisition and Goods and Services Tax bills and even on the reconstitution of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog.

Sitharaman also showed to the media copies of tweets from Congress chief ministers.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi tweeted: “I appreciate peace in Nagaland and welcome settlement of Naga issues. But I will oppose tooth and nail any move that affects Assam’s interests. To allay apprehension of the people, the prime minister should make his stand clear that the Naga peace accord does not affect the interest of Assam…”

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki wrote on his Twitter account: “Welcomed the initiative of the Centre to bring a peaceful solution to the prolonged Naga political issue.”

However, Tuki deleted his tweet later.