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Many forced to vacate land for Statue of Unity project; Is commemorating Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel by evicting Adivasis justified?

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Statue-of-unity(1)

By Ishan Kukreti

Words like ‘development’ and ‘progress’ go hand in hand with democracy. Geared towards improving the lives of people, development projects are the torchbearers of everything that modern society stands for.

Yet, on closer inspection, nothing can be more un-democratic than what goes in the making of these projects. In the past 50 years, more than 50 million people have been displaced for ‘national interest’, according to a Planning Commission report. Tribals or adivasis, who are a mere 8 per cent of India’s population account for more than 40 per cent of the displaced communities, while Dalits make up the other big chunk of 20 per cent.

The absurd phenomenon of multiple displacement and how it has rendered people homeless over and over again, raises some serious questions. People from Singrauli have faced eviction five times to make way for Rihand dam.

All these facts state the obvious question that whether people have any say in the process of development? At the end of the day who will benefit from the growth and who will have to pay for it?

Unity Project – for the sake of the tourists

The Unity Project in Gujarat, however takes the whole thing to a new dimension. The Kevadia Area Development Authority (KADA) created for the implementation of the tourism development plan for the Unity Project will affect around 70 villages in the region. The project includes building a 182 feet tall statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel along with a 13 Km lake.

Tourism is not a development activity, not in the same way a power plant is. Still, the government is ready to boot people out of their homes for the sake of someone else’s leisure activity. People living for generations on that land have to move out so that some work exhausted urban working couple can come there and relax their bones. The callousness of the government is all too palpable even on the surface.

The region is a tribal agricultural land area. Although there is a provision in the law of safeguarding tribal interests by prohibiting sale of tribal agricultural land to non tribals, but KADA can declare the land non-agricultural, thereby making the transfer smooth.

Moreover the project was approved without obtaining the permission under the Environment Impact Assessment Notification. A group of activists from Gujarat have filed a petition regarding the same with the National Green Tribunal.

Time to relocate?

However, the government is not deterred by any challenge.

For many who are currently residents of the area, eviction seems inevitable. An area of 20 acres has been cordoned off since March, 2015. It is the site for Shreshtha Bharat Bhavan, a complex which will include hotels. The irony of the situation is that the site which will make many homeless, will provide lodging facilities for tourists.

The government is cold and clear about its intentions. People protesting the land acquisition have to face the rough side of law, if it can get anymore rough. The day the foundation stone of the site was laid, Sanjay Tadvi, a farmer from the region and an active protester was locked up for a day without any charges.

Although the government has promised providing land to the displaced, no progress has been made in thist. Plus, the administration will only provide for the loss of agricultural land. For many who earn their livelihood mainly through non agriculture activities, the project is nothing but a mechanism to force them into extreme poverty.

Postscript

The area is prone to high seismic activities and might not be safe for the construction of
large 182 feet structures. Thus, the only thing that can help Narmada district residents win their rights from the Unity Project is the National Green Tribunal.
But whether they win or lose their rights, by taking such a step the government has undoubtedly failed its people.

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COVID-19: MakeMyTrip Lays Off Nearly 350 Employees

Covid-hit MakeMyTrip says that there's no respite in sight

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According to MakeMyTrip Founder Deep Kalra, the word of travel has been ravaged due to global Covid-19 pandemic. Pixabay

Covid-hit online travel major MakeMyTrip has laid off nearly 350 employees as the pandemic has changed the context and viability of some of its business lines in its current form.

The company is offering mediclaim coverage for the impacted individuals and their families till the end of the year.

According to an internal letter from Founder Deep Kalra and CEO Rajesh Magow sent to employees, the impacted employees will also get leave, gratuity, retention of company laptops and outplacement support, apart from salary payments as per their notice periods.

“It is undoubtedly the toughest decision we have had to take so far and it’s the saddest day for us as an organization,” read the letter.

The company analysed Covid-19 impact closely and spent considerable time thinking about the path to business recovery.

“It is evident that the pandemic has changed the context and viability of some of our business lines in its current form. Keeping this in mind we have had to take this sad but inevitable decision of rightsizing our workforce in these businesses,” said the duo.

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MakeMyTrip analysed Covid-19 impact closely and spent considerable time thinking about the path to business recovery. Wikimedia Commns

The staff rationalization, they said, is mapped to their future business strategy and “is in no way a reflection of the work done by people in these teams”.

According to Kalra, the word of travel has been ravaged due to global Covid-19 pandemic.

“What’s evident is that the impact of COVID-19 crisis is going to be long drawn for us. It’s unclear when traveling will become a way of life, as it was pre-Covid,” said the letter.

The tourism industry in India is staring at two crore job losses as industry insiders cite central apathy and a predictably long recovery period.

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Indian tourism travel and hospitality impacts 10-12 per cent of India’s employment which covers almost 5 crore plus direct and indirect jobs.

“We are living through extraordinary times which have impacted individuals, communities, businesses, countries and our world at a magnitude unknown before and there is no let-up in sight,” said the MakeMyTrip executives.

The Indian tourism, travel and hospitality sector has already seen over one quarter of accumulated losses which began from February onwards. (IANS)

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Travel Industry Expected To Make a Comeback After Autumn-Winter

Recovery for the travel industry would most likely take three to six more months, suggest experts

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The hospitality and aviation sectors are arguably amongst the most impacted segments due to COVID-19. Pixabay

BY SIDDHI JAIN

With global travel strictly on hold and most wish-list destinations reeling under severe Coronavirus impact, tourism is one of the most most-affected industries. As international air travel remains suspended, inbound tourism (foreigners travelling into india) will be at a standstill in the coming few months.

According to a global luxury businesses panel hosted by S.P. Jain Global, the hospitality and aviation sectors are arguably amongst the most impacted segments due to COVID-19, with the Indian hospitality industry suffering losses to the tune of $4.5 billion. However, the industry is anticipating making a comeback by Q4, with certain sub-segments ruling over the others. In the meanwhile what happens to the travel trade? Well, all eyes seem to have turned to the domestic business and leisure market to make up the losses.

While inbound and outbound tourism is expected to be slow, owing to the restrictions placed by countries on international travellers, domestic corporate travel may also take a hit depending on the state of businesses in the country. However, domestic leisure travel is said to rebound swiftly, and will be a major factor in helping the industry recover post the pandemic.

“Initially, people stuck in different parts of the world will travel back to India. Overall, inbound tourism might witness a slow growth. Though India has always been a favourite and affordable spot for international tourists as well as for locals, we can expect a normality by 2021,” Debashish Maitra, director of IJ Dream Vacation told IANSlife. “In simple terms, the first roadblock to an international tours would be taking a flight, which many would like to avoid unless necessary,” says Krupa Gupta Saraogi of bookittours.

According to Ramesh Ramanathan, Chairman and Managing Director of Sterling Holiday Resorts, with international travel expected to slow down at least for this year, it will only add demand in favour of domestic travel, at least for the foreseeable future. “We are most likely to witness revenge spending once the lockdown is lifted, however, there would be a new set of considerations which will come in to play while shortlisting destinations — like safety, hygiene, social distancing, and proximity. Also, India has a plethora of splendid locations like the hill stations, beaches, forests, cultural sites, and other iconic attractions, and Indian travellers are most likely to plan stress-free pocket-friendly domestic vacation with their close ones,” he shares over email.

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Indian travellers are most likely to plan stress-free pocket-friendly domestic vacation with their close ones. Pixabay

Ramanathan added that many are booking from July onwards, as a way to holiday out the COVID-19 stress, but a recovery would likely take three to six more months. Travel curator Ricky Nakhat does not anticipate a recovery before winter months. Post that, he says that more foreigners might likely tour India as the spread elsewhere is quite high.

How can we promote India as a safe travel space?

According to stakeholders, self-driving to destinations would see a considerable spike due to safety issues. Hotels, resorts, cab operators, airports and local city sights must ensure sanitisation and assure visitors of it, if they want to attract tourists. Medical tests of hospitality staff must be done regularly, apart from following basic norms of social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands. Travel insurance would also be aggressively promoted.

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Visitors, especially the elderly and those with co-morbidities, can be encouraged to look at stays in zones declared Coronavirus-free or where a lower number of infections were reported. Also people are likely to prefer travelling in small groups. Promoting touchless technology might also help. (IANS)

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Migrant Workers Push Up Corona Infections in Jharkhand

Out of 50 positive cases, 38 are migrant labourers

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In Jharkhand COVID-19 tally reached 174 consisting of mostly Migrant labourers. Pixabay

The return of the migrant workers from the highly coronavirus infected states of Maharashtra and Gujarat is pushing up the number of Covid-19 patients in Jharkhand where the tally reached 174 on Wednesday.

According to the health officials, of the recent 50 positive cases 38 are migrant labourers.

The highest numbers during the day were reported from Hazaribagh district where six people, who hail from Barra village of Bishnugarh block and had returned from Maharashtra a couple of days ago, have been confirmed to be infected with coronavirus.

In the state capital Ranchi, a 20-year-old migrant woman tested positive for coronavirus while a migrant worker, who had returned from Surat, also tested positive in the Gandey block of Giridih district.

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In 14 districts out of the 24 districts in Jharkhand, Coronavirus patients have been detected. Pixabay

Coronavirus patients have been detected so far in 14 districts out of the 24 districts in Jharkhand.

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A total of 1,061 samples were tested out of which 1,053 turned out to be negative while eight were positive. The samples are currently being tested at four places in the state, including MGM Jamshedpur, RIMS Ranchi, PMCH Dhanbad and Itki Arogyashala Ranchi.

District wise Ranchi has so far recorded 95 confirmed coronavirus cases which included two foreigners, Bokaro 10, Hazaribagh 10, Koderma three, Giridih six, Simdega two, Dhanbad four, Deoghar four, Garhwa 23, Palamu eight, Jamtara two, Godda one, Dumka two and East Singhbhum two. Out of these 174 cases, three have died. (IANS)