India set to become water scarce by 2025: report

Greens in Andhra Pradesh cry foul over Kolleru diversion plan

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2.Greens in Andhra Pradesh cry foul over Kolleru diversion plan

The Andhra Pradesh Government is planning to divert most of the rivulets and drains that pour into the Kolleru lake, a protected wildlife sanctuary, and instead route them to the Polavaram Right Main Canal (PRMC). Environmentalists suspect that this is a backdoor move to reduce the size of the Kolleru lake.

As per the international Ramsar Convention, inflows to a protected wetland cannot be diverted for other purposes.

The government is building the Polavaram Right Main Canal (PRMC) to irrigate the Krishna delta. But in doing so, two rivulets, Budameru and Tammileru, and 70 drains major and minor drains, will cease to flow into the Kolleru.

Kolleru is one of the largest freshwater lakes in India. It is an important wetland with as many as 257 water fowl, 81 of them migratory. The lake is a roosting spot for the grey pelican. Kolleru was designated a Ramsar wetland in 2002. Though it was protected up to contour +10 by the international convention, the Central and State Governments have been able to protect it only until contour +5 by declaring it a wildlife sanctuary.

3.Naga problem was a legacy of British rule, says Modi:Naga Peace accord signed

The agreement was the culmination of over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 16 years.

After the government signed a peace accord with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “Unfortunately, the Naga problem has taken so long to resolve because we did not understand each other. It is a legacy of the British rule. The colonial rulers had, by design, kept the Nagas isolated and insulated. They propagated terrible myths about the Nagas in the rest of the country…They also spread negative ideas about the rest of India among the Naga people. This was part of the well-known policy of divide and rule of the colonial rulers.”

Joyson Mazamo of Naga Hoho, the apex body of the Naga tribes, told The Hindu : “Until and unless we see the contents of the accord, it is difficult to say anything. We were not involved in the talks with the government, though. The I-M group does not represent the entire Nagas but it has popular support.”

The group met Mr. Modi in June this year and demanded a lasting solution to the Naga problem. Mr. Mazamo added: “We want integration and want all arbitrary boundaries removed.”

The NSCN (I-M) has been fighting for an independent Nagaland, but later on demanded a ‘Greater Nagaland’ by slicing off parts of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to unite 1.2 million Nagas. The demand was opposed by the three States. In 2012, the UPA government formulated an agreement to be signed with the Naga groups, but it was shot down by Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress.

After Monday’s accord, NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, who signed the pact, said in a statement, “Better understanding has been arrived at and a framework agreement has been concluded, based on the unique history and position of the Nagas and recognising the universal principle that in a democracy sovereignty lies with the people.”

He said: “After decades of confrontation and untold sufferings, the Nagas decided to have political dialogue with the Government of India in view of the acknowledgement that the government will seek a peaceful solution, leaving aside the military solution.”

Though Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh was present at the ceremony, sources said, the Home Ministry was kept out of the loop in the entire process. It is learnt that none of the senior officials of the Ministry, which is involved in the day-to-day operations in the north-east, was involved in it. The agreement was the culmination of over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 16 years, with the first breakthrough coming in 1997 when a ceasefire agreement was sealed.

Before the agreement was signed, Mr. Modi spoke to leaders of various parties, including the former Prime Ministers, Manmohan Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda, Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh, Mayawati of the BSP, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

He also spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Tamil Nadu counterpart Jayalalithaa, besides Nagaland Governor Padmanabha Acharya and Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang and DMK president M. Karunanidhi.

We want integration and want all arbitrary boundaries removed’

4. Ban on 857 porn sites temporary, says Centre

The government on Monday clarified that its move to ban 857 adult content websites, which has kicked up a storm on the social media, is ‘temporary’ and was in response to the Supreme Court’s directions to address the menace of pornography, especially child pornography.

The Telecom Department is working on a long term policy, which could include the setting up of a regulatory body or an ombudsman, to regulate such sites, a top ministry source briefed reporters.

“What we have done is temporary.... The government is acting purely on the Supreme Court observation that government needs to take stand on the issue of blocking of pornography websites in the country, especially child pornography.... Free and open access to such content is an issue,” the source said.

While hearing a PIL petition by advocate Kamlesh Vashwani to block porn websites in India, Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, in July, had remarked, “The issue is definitely serious and some steps need to be taken. The Centre is expected to take a stand…let us see what stand the Centre will take,” and had directed the government to reply in four weeks.

The next hearing in the Supreme Court for this matter is scheduled on August 10.

In a late night communication to Internet services providers on Friday, the government had said the service providers should control “open and free” access to the identified 857 websites as an “interim measure” to protect the Indian cultural fabric and prevent gross misuse of technology, another source said.

The source added this will not violate right to personal liberty as being debated as adults will still be able to access the sites using virtual private networks (VPNs) or proxy servers.

“The government must be away from the whole process (dealing with obscene/explicit content online)… One of the ideas is to set up a regulatory body or let there be an ombudsman to take a call on such issues,” the sources said.

Free access to child pornography an issue’

5. U-turn by BJP could help Land Bill clear House hurdle

A jubilant Congress claimed victory on Monday, when clear indications emerged that the Narendra Modi government, after months of standing firm, had virtually agreed to return almost entirely to the text of the Land Acquisition Act passed during the UPA’s tenure in 2013.

The likelihood of an impending climb-down by the government came at a meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee examining the Bill when all 11 BJP MPs on the 30-member panel moved amendments, seeking to bring back key provisions of the 2013 Act.

These include provisions relating to

Consent and social impact assessment (SIA),

Dropping the section that exempted a special category of projects from the consent and SIA clauses,

Agreeing to go back on the idea of an industrial corridor, and

Restoring the clause on penalties for defaulting officers.

It also withdrew the expression “private entity,” which was “private company” in the 2013 Act.

The other members on the JPC belong to the Congress (5), the Trinamool Congress (2) and the Janata Dal (United), the Samajwadi Party, the BJD, the Shiv Sena, the NCP, the BSP, the TRS, the LJP, the CPI(M) and the TDP (all one each).

Meanwhile, Trinamool members Derek O’Brien and Kalyan Banerjee walked out of the meeting, saying that as the amendments were circulated only in the morning, they had little time to study them. The Trinamool has been seeking the withdrawal of the Modi government’s Bill. With the Assembly elections due in Bihar later this year and its rivals making the Land Bill a key poll issue, the government appears to have decided that discretion is the better part of valour.

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