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Farmers to hold mega march in Delhi on November 29, 30

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Farmers

New Delhi | Over one lakh farmers from across the country plan to assemble in the national capital on November 29 and 30 to participate in a mega march to protest against, what they have termed, the Centre’s “failure” to address their issues.

Hannan Mollah, convenor of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella body of 208 farmers’ and agricultural workers’ organisations, said on November 29, the farmers would start the Kisan Mukti March from different corners of Delhi – Bijwasan, Majnu Ka Tila, Nizamuddin and Anand Vihar – to Ramlila ground.

A cultural programme ‘Ek Sham Kisan Ke Naam’ dedicated to farmers would be held at the Ramlila ground on the first day of the congregation, where prominent singers and poets would perform. “On November 30, the farmers will start their march from Ramlila ground to Parliament. At Parliament Street, farmer leaders will speak on agrarian issues and also, leaders of different political parties barring the BJP will address the gathering,” said Mollah, who is a senior leader of the CPI-M.

The rally has been organised to protest against the Centre’s failure to address farmers’ issues, he said, adding the government must come out clean on measures for them.

Atul Anjaan, national secretary of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) said all top leaders of opposition parties including Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal have been invited for two-day meet.

AIKSCC was formed under the aegis of AIKS and other left-affiliated farmers’ bodies in June 2017, after struggles of farmers in different states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, for debt relief and remunerative prices.

It had formulated two private members bills – The Farmers Freedom from Indebtedness Bill 2018 and Farmers’ Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Price for Agricultural Commodities Bill 2018.

“The bills were prepared after a series of discussion on farmers issues during the Kisan Mukti Sansad, which was held in November last year,” said Mollah.

He added that CPI-M MP KK Ragesh, who is also the national joint secretary of AIKS, has introduced the bills in Rajya Sabha. Raju Shetty of Swabhimani Shetkari Saghtana presented these in Lok Sabha.

AIKSCC has demanded a special session of Parliament to adopt the two key bills of liberation from farm debt and fair assured prices to farmers and also to discuss the agrarian crisis and its related aspects. It has also sought President Ram Nath Kovind’s intervention on holding the special session.

Anjaan said rural India has been reeling under agrarian distress and for solving it, left parties and left-leaning organisations have been raising “democratic voices” across the country.

“To counter the agrarian distress, the first step of the government should be waiving farmers’ loans. A National Debt Relief Commission for farmers has also to be set up,” he said.

He added that the government should implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission so as to provide the farming community a “big relief”.

National

West Nile fever: Health Ministry reviews Kerala’s preparedness

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New Delhi | In the wake of the death of a six-year-old boy, who was undergoing treatment for West Nile fever in Kerala, the Centre on Tuesday reviewed the current situation, preparedness and action taken to deal with the disease in the state’s Mallapuram district.

According to Union Health ministry officials, this could be the first fatality due to the vector-borne disease reported from the country. The Union Health ministry along with officials from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reviewed the state preparedness and action taken to deal with West Nile Fever (WNF) in Mallapuram district on Tuesday, an official said.

A multi-disciplinary central team is already deputed in Mallapuram to investigate various epidemiological aspects of West Nile Virus (WNV) there and also help the district administration in its prevention and management.

The state has been advised to follow the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program (NVBDCP) guidelines of personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites.

The Ministry has also recommended vector surveillance and control to be carried out in coordination with NVBDCP. “It has been advised that all cases of JE/AES are to be investigated as per guidelines of JE/AES and also tested for West Nile Virus. Further, the community is to be sensitized through IEC campaigns on use of personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites as per NVBDCP Guidelines,” a senior health ministry official said.

The boy, hailing from Malappuram district, was admitted to the intensive care unit of the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital in neighbouring Kozhikode one week ago after he tested positive for the virus. He died on Monday.

West Nile Fever is a mosquito borne zoonotic disease caused by a flavivirus –WNV — and is related to viruses that cause Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever and St Louis encephalitis.

“Human infection is most often due to bites from infected mosquitoes. To date, no human-to-human transmission of WNV through casual contact has been documented. Infection with WNV is either asymptomatic (no symptoms) in around 80 per cent of infected people, or can lead to West Nile fever or severe West Nile disease,” a health ministry statement said.

Testing for West Nile Virus is available at the National Institute of Virology, Pune, and National Institute of Virology, Allapuzha. Facility for xeno-diagnosis with respect to infection among vectors is available at the Vector Control Research Center (VCRC), Kottayam.

NCDC branch in Kozhikode, in coordination with VCRC, Kottayam, will provide assistance for vector surveillance and xeno-diagnosis in the vector as well as prepare and disseminate a standardised hospital management protocol of AES case management to be followed by all hospitals catering to cases of AES.

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Bombay HC pulls up Maharashtra govt, BMC on coastal road project

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Mumbai | The Bombay High Court on Tuesday questioned the state authorities on how could they begin work on a coastal road project without determining whether it was going to adversely affect fishing communities and breeding ground for fish along the proposed road.

A bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice N M Jamdar said while development was essential, it could not come at the cost of citizens. The court also took strong exception to apparent “lack of coordination” among the agencies involved in the project.

It noted that while the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) claimed to have all requisite data on issues like the number of people being affected and breeding ground for fish along the proposed area, the state fisheries department and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest did not have any information on the same.

BMC counsel Anil Sakhre told the court while a survey had been conducted in the Worli area to identify people and livelihoods that would be affected by a portion of the coastal road project, a survey along the entire stretch of around 19 kilometres was yet to be conducted by the state fisheries department.

The department, however, told the bench that it was inept to identify the breeding ground for fish along the above stretch and would need help from expert agencies under the central government. At this, the bench remarked that such a lack of coordination represented an extremely sorry state of affairs.

It said ideally, the agencies should have conducted such a survey before beginning work on the project. The court also said the state must have a uniform policy to assist and rehabilitate any person affected by the coastal road project. “Development should not come at the cost of the people,” the bench said.

“Your (parties in the case) submissions also reflect a very sorry state of affairs. Can’t you coordinate without the court’s intervention? Why don’t you get together, hold a meeting, take all stakeholders into confidence? Is it the court’s job to get all of you together and send you into a meeting room for discussion on your own project?” the bench said.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by members of two fishing societies, Worli Koliwada Nakhwa and Worli Machimmar Sarvodaya Sahakari Society, opposing the coastal road project that proposes to connect the Marine Drive area in the city to Kandivali.

The petitioners claimed the BMC and state authorities had not conducted any public hearing, or consultations with the fisher folk from the city before starting on the proposed project. They said in their plea that the construction and reclamation work will destroy fish breeding grounds and that the road once constructed, will take away their livelihood.

The BMC, however, submitted that the project was not going to have any adverse impact on the fishing community in the city. The court said the BMC will need to submit “scientific data” to prove its arguments.

The court has now directed the civic body to submit details of the fishing areas and breeding ground that fall along the proposed stretch, and the number of people likely to be affected by the project.

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Pollachi case: Madras HC seeks Tamil Nadu govt’s response to plea for court-monitored probe

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Chennai | The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu government and the CBI to file their replies on a petition seeking a court-monitored probe into the Pollachi sexual harassment case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani and Justice M Duraiswamy gave the direction when the petition by an advocate came up for hearing. It then posted the petition to April 10 for further hearing.

Petitioner P Pugalenthi referred to the Tamil Nadu government order transferring the case to the CBI based on a recommendation by the state DGP.

A gang of four men had on February 12 allegedly tried to strip a 19-year-old woman inside a car near Pollachi in Coimbatore district, shot a video of the act and blackmailed her using the visuals. With the incident triggering outrage amid reports that more women had been assaulted by the gang, the state government had last week issued an order transferring the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The petitioner submitted that the DGP had recommended the CBI probe since the case involved technical issues, including analysis of social media accounts. He also referred to the government order mentioning the name of the victim and said it was “unfortunate” the state ignored the fundamentals of justice and disclosed her identity.

He wanted the court to monitor the probe by the CBI, saying the DGP himself had stated the case demanded more laborious and dedicated investigation.

Meanwhile, a report from Coimbatore said the CB-CID, which is at present investigating the case, summoned editor of “Nakkheeran” R R Gopal to appear before it on March 25 in connection with the release of a video by the Tamil magazine reportedly containing visuals of some women being harassed by the gang.

Gopal had Monday moved the high court seeking anticipatory bail, apprehending arrest by police. He has alleged that the case had been foisted on him.

In Pollachi, almost all shops and other commercial establishments Tuesday downed shutters in support of a call given by various organisations seeking a court-monitored probe into the harassment case.

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