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Nature’s Treasure: Sindhudurg is Maharashtra’s and India’s cleanest ‘mini-paradise’

The district's picturesque beach town, Vengurla, has set a new trend in solid-liquid waste management technique, Chaudhary said with pride

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Sindhudurga Fort. Wikimedia Commons

MAHARASHTRA, Sept 11, 2016: Bordered on the west by the bluish-green waters of the Arabian Sea and on the east by the lush green forests of the Western Ghats, Sindhudurg district in southwest coastal Maharashtra is a veritable tourist delight.

The district offers an equal measure of 30 sparkling beaches and big and small hill resorts- including the famous Amboli- scores of temples, festivals celebrated grandly, a salubrious climate virtually round-the-year, the typical Malvani style cuisine with an emphasis on seafood, many “things to do” and friendly people.

Earlier this week, Sindhudurg suddenly shot into the national limelight after it was declared as “cleanest” district in the plains in the country, while Mandi in Himachal Pradesh claimed the honour in the hills section.

Though happy with the distinction achieved, the local administration shrugs at the honour almost nonchalantly.

Sindhudurg. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Sindhudurg. Wikimedia Commons

“The people of the district have a very high civic sense and it has been historically doing well on the cleanliness front. There is good synergy between the people and the local government that has made cleanliness a habit rather than a compulsion,” CEO of Sindhudurg Zilla Parishad Shekhar Singh, an IAS officer, told IANS.

He recalled how former CEO Anoop Kumar Yadav had first launched a mass movement on imbibing the spirit of cleanliness among the people way back in 2006.

Even earlier, in 2000, the then Rural Development Minister, the late R.R. Patil, had launched his pet scheme, the Sant Gadge Baba Village Sanitation Campaign (SGBVSC) — later supported by Unicef — in which Sindhudurg villages regularly come tops on several fronts, Singh said.

Sindhudurg Collector Uday Choudhary said it has been a long tough road and the success was not achieved overnight.

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“Fortunately, the locals are highly tuned to hygiene and cleanliness and we were always leading in the SGBVSC. Of course, the real push came in the form of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat mission that spurred us to clear the last lap successfully and catapulted us to the national level,” Choudhary told IANS.

The duo explained that a survey under the Gramin Swachh Survekshan since May this year measured overall cleanliness in all places, sanitation, water supply, open-defecation-free (ODF) communities and solid-liquid waste management practices. Sindhudurg became the state’s first ODF district in April 2016.

The district’s picturesque beach town, Vengurla, has set a new trend in solid-liquid waste management technique, Chaudhary said with pride.

“Its unique technique generates power for the solid-liquid waste management unit, the plastic part of the solid is used to build roads and rest is utilised as manure. Thus, there is no wastage even from the waste,” Chaudhary smiled.

Local Congress MLA Nitesh N. Rane said the achievement is the outcome of the steps initiated by his father, Narayan T. Rane, when he was Chief Minister in 1999 and, today, Sindhudurg has the third highest per capita income of Rs 1,04,000 in the state, next only to Mumbai and Pune.

“He had started these efforts way back in 1999, sensitised the public on cleanliness and taken steps to improve the tourist infrastructure, which has now resulted in Sindhudurg being declared as the state’s first Tourist District,” Nitesh Rane told IANS.

However, he cautioned that it was not the time to rest on laurels. The government must now target the next level to make it the most preferred tourist destination and the new distinction (as the cleanest in the country) will hugely help.

As a step towards this, Rane last week has introduced water sports and scuba-diving activities on the Sindhudurg beaches, enabling tourists to experience the rich underwater beauty, marine flora and fauna in the clear, cool waters — where dolphins also abound.

Choudhary said it is the natural beauty of Sindhudurg that draws tourists. The district has 48 percent forest cover, 30 pristine white-sand beaches, several hills and sea forts, tiny picturesque villages, lush plains and the coast — apart from scores of big and small temples and, of course, the famous Malvani cuisine.

“From September 17 to October 2, we conduct our new campaign for clean beaches, 14 of which are extremely popular among tourists, including the five-km-long Kunkeshwar Beach,” the collector said.

But to attract more tourists, only natural beauty would not suffice and the state government must take steps on priority to improve connectivity to Sindhudurg, Rane averred.

“The existing Mumbai-Goa Highway is extremely congested and accident-prone due to its sad condition, the Coastal Highway plans are still on paper and the proposed new airport nearby is languishing for the past three years,” Rane said.

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Sindhudurg is the convergence point for the northern-southern branches of the Western Ghats, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and abounds in rich flora and fauna. Amboli is the last hill station in Maharashtra before the ghats give way to the rolling plains of adjoining Goa and Karnataka.

The district has seven major forts, including the Sindhudurg Fort standing on a tiny isle off the Malvan beach, hill forts, and other sea forts, mostly constructed during the rise of the Maratha Empire founded by Chhatrapati Shivaji as part of the fortification of the entire Konkan region. (IANS)

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The major Challenge is to make the Youth of the Country Entrepreneurial and not Job Seekers : Venkaiah Naidu

"The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers," Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government's various initiatives.

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Venkaiah Naidu
Venkaiah Naidu. Wikimedia Commons
  • At a time of tepid job growth and continuing income disparities, the major challenge is to make the youth of the country entrepreneurial and not job seekers, Vice President  Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday.

“Disparities continue to remain in India and so there is a need for inclusive growth… there is the need to take care of the suppressed, oppressed and depressed,” Venkaiah Naidu said at the Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust’s (BYST) silver jubilee celebrations here with Britain’s Prince Charles as the chief guest.

“The challenge for us is to make the youth entrepreneurial, and not become job seekers,” Venkaiah Naidu said pointing to the NDA government’s various initiatives to encourage youth enterprises like Startup India, Standup India and the Mudra financing scheme for underprivileged sections.

Modelled on Prince Charles’ Trust for business startups, BYST, founded by Lakshmi Venkatesan, daughter of former President R. Venkatraman, is engaged in building rural entrepreneurship — “grampreneurs” — as also enterprise among under-privileged sections, which includes business mentoring. The current BYST chairman is Bajaj Group chief, Rahul Bajaj.

“Without mentoring, it would be very difficult to set up startups, with all the business, marketing and other vital issues involved in the first two-three years,” Prince Charles said in his address at the International Mentoring Summit organized by BYST to mark its 25 years.

“What amazes me are the sheer number of jobs these young entrepreneurs had created. The aim of such a project should be to create a virtual cycle of creating entrepreneurs who can then invest in the future of business,” Charles said referring to his trust.

BYST was officially launched in 1992 by Prince Charles and expanded its operations to six major regions of India.

Out of these six regions, four — Delhi, Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad — run the urban programme while two regions — Haryana and Maharashtra — run the rural programme.(IANS)

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India sends Emergency Fuel Supplies to Sri Lanka

According to Indian public broadcaster Doordarshan, Modi assured all assistance from India to Sri Lanka following Siriena's request for emergency fuel supplies and petrol shipments.

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India is sending additional fuel to Sri Lanka, confirmed PMO onTwitter (representative image) Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 9, 2017 : Following reports of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) rejecting a shipment of petrol from Lanka IOC (LIOC), the Sri Lankan subsidiary of Indian Oil, India on Wednesday made emergency fuel supplies to Sri Lanka following a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.

“In the telephone conversation with Sri Lankan President @MaithripalaS, PM @narendramodi conveyed that India is sending additional fuel to Sri Lanka and assured India’s continued support for development cooperation,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) tweeted.

According to Indian public broadcaster Doordarshan, Modi assured all assistance from India to Sri Lanka following Siriena’s request for emergency fuel supplies and petrol shipments.

LIOC has made available 3,500 kilo litres of its own stock to CPC, Doordarshan said in a shared tweet.

A ship with an additional 21,000 kilo litres of petrol also left for Sri Lanka and additional petrol is being made available from Kochi refinery in Kerala.

Citing CPC sources, the Sunday Times said an emergency fuel supplies’ shipment that arrived at the Colombo harbour on October 17 had been tested for a second time and rejected on a quality test.

However, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he did not agree that LIOC was responsible for the current fuel shortage in the country and said two oil shipments would be arriving in the country within two day, acording to a report in the Colombo Page.

“Apart from petrol shipment arriving on November 8, another shipment is due from India on November 9, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe informed the parliament on Tuesday responding to a question raised in the parliament regarding the fuel crisis,” the statement said.

It said that Wikremesinghe said a discussion was held with the Indian High Commissioner in this regard and the Indian ship would arrive either November 9 or 10. (IANS)

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Rape Survivors in India Still Face Humiliation with Two-Finger tests and Barriers to Justice says Human Rights Watch

Indian Rape survivors still face barriers in justice and humiliation with two-finger tests, reported the Human Rights Watch

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Rape Survivors
Rape survivors face humiliation during investigation. Pixabay.

New Delhi, Nov 9: Five years after the Nirbhaya gang rape case in Delhi, rape survivors are still facing barriers to getting justice in India, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

Rape survivors in India face significant barriers to obtaining justice and critical support services despite legal and other reforms adopted since the December 16, 2012 gang rape-murder of a 19-year-old physiotherapy intern in the national capital, who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’, said the international human rights NGO in an 82-page report “Everyone Blames Me: Barriers to Justice and Support Services for Sexual Assault Survivors in India” released on Wednesday.

The report said women and girls who survived rape and other sexual violence often suffered humiliation at police stations and hospitals.

“Police are frequently unwilling to register complaints, victims and witnesses receive little protection, and medical professionals still compel degrading two finger tests. These obstacles to justice and dignity are compounded by inadequate healthcare, counselling, and legal support for victims during criminal trials of the accused,” an HRW statement said.

“Five years ago, Indians shocked by the brutality of the gang rape in Delhi, called for an end to the silence around sexual violence and demanded criminal justice reforms,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director of HRW.

“Today, there are stronger laws and policies, but much remains to be done to ensure that police, doctors, and courts treat survivors with dignity,” she said.

The HRW said it conducted field research and interviews in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan — selected because of their large number of reported rape cases — as well as Delhi and Mumbai.

The report details 21 cases — 10 cases involving girls under the age of 18.

Rape survivors
Rape survivors feel harassed at police stations and hospitals. Pixabay.

The findings are drawn from more than 65 interviews with victims, their family members, lawyers, human rights activists, doctors, forensic experts, and government and police officials, as well as research by Indian organisations.

“Under the Indian law, police officers who fail to register a complaint of sexual assault face up to two years in prison. However, Human Rights Watch found that police did not always file a First Information Report (FIR), the first step to initiating a police investigation, especially if the victim was from an economically or socially marginalised community.

“In several cases, the police resisted filing the FIR or pressured the victim’s family to ‘settle’ or ‘compromise’, particularly if the accused was from a powerful family or community,” the statement said.

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It said that lack of witness protection law in India makes rape survivors and witnesses vulnerable to pressure that undermines prosecutions.

The human rights body said that some defence lawyers and judges still use language in courtrooms that is “biased and derogatory” toward sexual assault survivors.

“The attempt at shaming the victim is still very much prevalent in the courts,” Rebecca Mammen John, a senior criminal lawyer in Delhi, was quoted in the statement. (IANS)