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Bill To ‘Secure’ Ukrainian As Official State Language Gets Affirmation

The Ukrainian language also would be mandatory in all official documents, court records, elections and referendums, international treaties, and labor agreements,.

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Activists rally outside parliament in Kyiv in support of the language law on April 25. RFERL

Ukraine’s parliament has approved legislation that its authors say will “secure” the use of Ukrainian as the official “state language.”

Ukraine’s outgoing President Petro Poroshenko has said that he will sign the bill into law before he leaves office in early June.

But Ukraine’s president-elect, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has criticized the bill as a set of “prohibitions and punishments” that will complicate bureaucratic procedures and “increase the number of officials instead of reducing them.”

In an April 25 statement on his Facebook page, Zelenskiy said his view “is that the state should promote the development of the Ukrainian language by creating incentives and positive examples.”

“After my appointment to the post of president, a thorough analysis of this law will be made to ensure that it meets all the constitutional rights and interests of all Ukrainian citizens,” Zelenskiy said, adding that he will respond “in accordance with the constitutional powers of the president of Ukraine and in the interest of citizens.”

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The bill says the language rules would not apply to private conversations or religious rituals. Pixabay

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters in Moscow that the bill contradicts the Ukrainian Constitution and promotes the “Ukrainization” of the country.

“It is actually a law on forced Ukrainization, basically a total one. Its texts envision significant restrictions, and in some case directly ban the use of Russian and the languages of ethnic minorities in different spheres of social life,” Zakharova said.

The bill says “the only official state language in Ukraine is the Ukrainian language.”

It says “attempts” to introduce other languages as the state language would be considered as “activities with the goal to forcibly change the constitutional order.”

The bill also introduces a legal concept known as the “public humiliation of the Ukrainian language,” which it defines as “illegal activity equated to desecration of Ukraine’s state symbols” under the country’s criminal code.

It allows language quotas for state and private television broadcasts and says at least half of the text in printed media must be in Ukrainian.

The legislation also calls for the introduction of “language inspectors who will be present at all gatherings and sessions of any state bodies.”

They would be empowered to demand documents from political parties and public organizations and to impose punitive fines of up to $450 if they determine the documents are “not in Ukrainian.”

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In an April 25 statement on his Facebook page, Zelenskiy said his view “is that the state should promote the development of the Ukrainian language by creating incentives and positive examples.” VOA

The bill also calls for the establishment of a state-run “center for the Ukrainian language” to issue certificates that confirm the language fluency of Ukrainian citizens.

Public posts that require Ukrainian fluency under the bill include the presidency, the speaker of parliament and all parliamentary deputies, government ministers, the head of the state security service, the prosecutor-general, the chief of the Ukrainian National Bank, and local council members.

The Ukrainian language also would be mandatory in all official documents, court records, elections and referendums, international treaties, and labor agreements,.

The bill says the language rules would not apply to private conversations or religious rituals.

The language issue is controversial among Russian speakers in Ukraine.

Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine claim Kyiv is deliberately curtailing the use of the Russian language. (RFERL)

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India: Bill to Streamline Adjudication of Inter-State River Water Disputes Pass in Lok Sabha

In his concluding remarks, the Minister said as only 4 per cent water can be replenished to meet the demand

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He said the DRC would be established by the Centre consisting of experts from relevant fields before the water dispute was referred to the Tribunal. Pixabay

A Bill to streamline the adjudication of inter-state river water disputes and make the present legal and institutional architecture robust was on Wednesday passed in the Lok Sabha by voice vote.

Moving the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the draft legislation proposed to introduce a mechanism to resolve the water disputes amicably by negotiations through a Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC).

He said the DRC would be established by the Centre consisting of experts from relevant fields before the water dispute was referred to the Tribunal.

In his concluding remarks, the Minister said as only 4 per cent water can be replenished to meet the demand, it was a very important issue and this was the need of the time to think about water management because of increasing danger of climate change.

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A Bill to streamline the adjudication of inter-state river water disputes and make the present legal and institutional architecture robust was on Wednesday passed in the Lok Sabha by voice vote. Pixabay

“We should think on both demand as well as supply, otherwise a time will come when we will have to work on this issue with compulsion.”

The Minister said the Bill seeks amendment to the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 considering the increase in demand for water by the states and that inter-state river water disputes were on the rise.

Over 20 members from treasury benches and opposition raised their concerns about the Bill and proposed suggestions.

BJP’s Varun Gandhi said the country would be a loser if one looked at water from a territorial perspective and stressed on the need to look water from a national perspective.

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“We need a political solution rather than a legal one to end the inter-water river dispute… I walked across the Cauvery with academics, and what I found was deeply distressing,” he said.

“More than 50 per cent of marginal farmers have given up agriculture. The districts in the Cauvery delta had the lowest agricultural growth.”

Opposing the Bill, CPI-M’s Majeed Ariff said he smelt “political motivation” behind the introduction of the Bill and noted that implementing mechanism was silent on the proposed draft legislation.

H. Vasanthakumar of Congress mentioned that southern states had the most inter-state river water disputes.

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Moving the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the draft legislation proposed to introduce a mechanism to resolve the water disputes amicably. Pixabay

Demanding a National Water Policy, TRS member Nama Nageswara Rao said he supported the Bill but mentioned that it was not “complete” to resolve the water disputes.

Pointing out that a total of 70,000 TMC (2,000 Million Cubic) water was going into sea while the irrigation requirement of the whole country was 40,000 TMC and 10,000 TMC was needed for drinking and industries, the MP said a proper policy would solve the problem.

Midhun Reddy of YSR Congress said river water disputes should be solved within six months and voiced support to the Bill.

Mahabali Singh of JD-U said that reservoirs should be built and maintained well and mentioned that if states don’t listen to tribunals, there was no point in this Bill.

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BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab said he had opposed the introduction of the Bill because states were not consulted but now he supported it.

“This Bill holds promise for tightening and improving adjudication. But some practical questions remain unaddressed. How does the Bill propose to address the challenge of implementing the Tribunals Award. Cauvery Water Tribunal award given in 2007 is yet to be implemented,” he said.

The Bill seeks to provide for a single standing Tribunal (with multiple benches) instead of multiple Tribunals, which shall consist of a Chairperson, a Vice Chairperson and not more than six members (three judicial and three experts).

The term of office of the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson shall be five years or till they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.

It is proposed that the assessors, who provide technical support to the Tribunal, shall be appointed from amongst experts serving in the Central Water Engineering Service not below the rank of Chief Engineer.

The total time period for adjudication of a water dispute has been fixed at a maximum of four and a half years. The decision of the Bench of the Tribunal shall be final and binding on the states concerned.

It also seeks to provide for out of court settlement of disputes. (IANS)