31 October 2014

First Woman Chief secretary L Tochhawng of Mizoram Retires Today

Aizawl, Oct 31 : Mizoram Chief Secretary L Tochhawng retired from service today and would be succeeded by Lalmalsawma from tomorrow.

Tochhawng is the first Mizo woman to become Indian Administrative Service officer and also the first woman chief secretary of Mizoram.

Official sources said that Lalmalsawma has relinquished his duties in the Delhi government and was in Aizawl for his new assignment.


Pic source: hlakungpui.com
30 October 2014

Internal Elections Unlikely To Change Mizo National Front Leadership Line-up

By Adam Halliday

Aizawl, Oct 30 : In spite of suffering its two worst electoral defeats in the past decade, there seems unlikely to be any change in the Mizo National Front leadership as the party heads for internal elections next month.

The party that ruled Mizoram for two consecutive terms between 1998 and 2008 was decimated in the 2008 state-wide elections and reduced to occupying just three of the assembly’s 40 seats. It slightly improved its tally in 2013 and won five seats.

Nevertheless, the main opposition party’s top five leaders have once again been nominated uncontested for the exact same posts they have been occupying by the party’s National Executive Meeting on Thursday at Aizawl.

Significantly, both Zoramthanga and Tawnluia were re-nominated without any contestants for the post of President and Senior Vice President respectively.

In a way, the uncontested nominations show the party’s continued deference for leaders who once spent two decades as guerilla fighters in a bid to win an independent country for Mizos in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The other three leaders re-nominated on Thursday were not part of the MNF uprising, as it is often called, a period that saw an entire division of the Indian Army (assisted in the beginning by the IAF) move into present-day Mizoram to subjugate the separatist movement.

The re-nominations also shows the unchanged leadership preference of most senior party workers in spite of staring at the prospect of spending a decade out of power.

Of the top five, only one (former MP Vanlalzawma) is currently an MLA. he has been re-nominated to be Treasurer.

Three others — former CM Zoramthanga, former Home Minister Tawnluia and former Health Minister R Tlanghmingthanga — have lost two consecutive elections.

A fifth (former Education Minister Dr R Lalthangliana) lost, albeit by a margin of less than a hundred votes, to a first-time Congress candidate in last year’s assembly polls. He has been renominated as one of the two Vice Presidents, along with R Tlanghmingthanga.

Although it will remain open for other party leaders to contest against any of these five leaders before party elections take place on November 14, it appears unlikely that will be the case.

Insiders said a move to introduce the secret ballot system in the party polls was shot down after prolonged debate at Thursday’s meeting, meaning the mid-November elections will be decided by a show of hands once again.

Mizo Contractor Supplied 5000 Quintals of Rice To Govt

Aizawl, Oct 30 : Rem Rem Enterprise, owned by Lalrindika, a contractor, of Aizawl had supplied 5,000 quintals of rice to Mizoram government which was stored at the FCI warehouse in Rangvamual near Aizawl, state food, civil supplies and consumer affairs minister John Rotluangliana today said.

Rotluangliana said that the contractor was appointed to procure 30,000 quintals of rice and the government would consider whether to procure more from the contractor.

The contractor supplied the rice to the state government at the rate of Rs 25 per kg.

Lalrindika, said that he procured the rice from Guwahati and might also procure good quality rice from Myanmar.

Mizoram government was compelled to procure rice from other sources than the FCI due to mega block caused by widening of railroad at the Lumding-Badarpur sector in Assam beginning from October one.

The centre's efforts to purchase rice from Myanmar ran into trouble as bids by prospective contractors were reportedly exorbitant.
24 October 2014

Mizo Brothers Fete 'Zo Rock' Rosangliana

Imphal, Oct 24 : The Shillong BSF Mizo Brothers organized a felicitation programme in honour of Mizo rock artist Rosangliana, popularly known as 'Zo Rock' today at Lalchand, Shillong.

Singer-songwriter Rosangliana, one of the most influential Mizo musicians of the present era will retire from service, after a fruitful career with the Jazz Band of the Border Security Force on Oct 31 .

Notwithstanding his retirement from service, people of Zo descendants or 'Zo nahthlak' are expecting him to continue to sway music lovers of the community, a statement said.

Rosangliana was born on October 10, 1957 at Khawkawn, a hamlet in Mizoram.

Music was in his blood since his childhood days.

His efforts to realize his dream of becoming a music giant landed him at the Jazz Band of Assam Rifles' music department in 1976.After a short stint at the AR Jazz Band, Rosangliana began a career with the BSF in July 1980 .

He was with the Jazz Band of 111 BN BSF Nagaland.

He was posted at IG HQ, BSF Shillong from 1991 till date.

Regardless of his old age, he continues to shake music lovers of the Zo descendants across the NE States.

He also made his presence felt even to neighbouring country, Myanmar.

To his credit, he has produced 12 music albums and 35 music videos.

He has written 115 songs.

He came out with his first album in 1991 from Rangoon.

The big success of the first album earned him the title 'Zo Rock' .

Married to Chingzahoih Gangte of Chiengkonpang, CCpur (Manipur) in 1984, the couple is blessed with five children.

During his remarkable career in the BSF, Rosangliana spared no efforts to take the Jazz Band to a higher plane.

His firm determination led him to achieve success in whatever projects he took up.

From a GD Constable, he will retire as a Sub-Inspector, it said.
23 October 2014

India Can Stop The Mauling, Harassing, And Killing Of Northeasterners—Yet Chooses Not To

Northeast-Rights The government has to create educational and employment avenues in the northeastern states.(Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

By Ragini Bhuyan

Everyone’s asking why.
There’s been another spate of crimes on northeast Indians this month—attacks on Manipuri students in Bangalore, on workers from Nagaland in Gurgaon, and the death of a young woman from Mizoram in Delhi.
But we’ve been here before—and convened inquiries, commissions, and reports. The results of the last time this happened—the so-called MP Bezbaruah committee report—had tangible solutions.
The problem is that nothing happened. Will this time be different?
The report examines the rise in discrimination against migrants from India’s northeastern states. The committee, which submitted its report in July, was constituted by the government after a 19-year student from Arunachal Pradesh, Nido Taniam, paid the price for his “chinky” looks with his life. Ironically, Lajpat Nagar, the Delhi neighborhood where he died, is an immigrant colony formed largely of Partition refugees, and the country’s capital has been built on waves of migration.
“There are two things—one is prejudice stemming from ignorance, which leads to taunts and subtle discrimination. This can be combated over the long term through cultural sensitization,” Bezbaruah said in an interview with Quartz.
For the second problem—to deter violent crimes, his report suggests the following:
  • special police units to probe such crimes.
  • fast-track courts so justice is served.
  • cases should be disposed of in 90 days.
“If criminals are dealt strong punishment, then it will not only be a deterrent in the future, but will also send a signal to migrants from the north east that the state is serious about their safety and well being,” Bezbaruah said.
The need for quick redress can be illustrated by the recent verdict on the 2010 Dhaula Kuan rape case. The case, ­which saw the gang rape of a call-center employee from Manipur, took four years before the court pronounced those involved guilty. The victim felt compelled to leave Delhi. Her father testified to a national daily that for months, they received threatening calls asking them to withdraw the case. The verdict came on the day three Manipuri students were beaten up in Bangalore for not knowing how to speak in the local language, Kannada.
The Bezbaruah committee report has noted that Delhi exhibits the worst discrimination among India’s metros. The answer might lie in the numbers. The committee quoted a study which found that more than 400,000 people have migrated from the northeast between 2005 and 2010, with Delhi being the preferred destination.
“There has been a change in the profile of the migrants, which could be a factor behind the rise in crimes. Earlier, it was mostly students. Now many come to work in the lower rungs of the service sectors. Preference for workers from the region in certain areas, like the hospitality industry, has fed resentment in a certain section of the local population,” Bezbaruah said. The report notes that many such workers live in affordable areas, which are essentially urban villages, and where their way of life comes into conflict with locals who are still rooted in conservative traditions.
The committee has called for amending section 153 of the Indian Penal Code to include stringent punishment for racially-motivated crimes, and to set up an implementation committee with civil society representatives in the ministry of home affairs. IPS officer Robin Hibu, who assisted the committee in its proceedings, has argued for an anti-racism law. “In addition, there should be dedicated nodal officers in the ministry of home affairs charged with the responsibility of monitoring crimes against people from the region in all those metro cities which have witnessed such crimes,” he said.
Though Delhi Police has a special unit that looks into issues troubling migrants from the region, Hibu points out that it is virtually toothless. “It does not have the power to launch investigations nor can it book FIRs,” he said.
Despite assurances that the government is examining the report, many who were consulted during its drafting are disappointed with the delay. “The government should promulgate an ordnance at the earliest to deal with such crimes. We need greater discussion about race crimes,” said Sanjoy Hazarika, a veteran journalist and author of several books about the northeast.
Kishalay Bhattacharjee, another journalist from the region, argues that strong policing and fast-track courts are only part of the solution. “There can be silent discrimination … This could happen at work. The real challenge involves changing mindsets. This will take a generation, so the government should seriously look at cultural sensitization. They could start with schools,” he said.
The committee found that many crimes go unreported due to police apathy. Taniam’s killing compelled writer Janice Pariat to “out” her own experience of being attacked in Delhi years before. She wrote, “Many post-colonial states, like India, have often become the bone of contention of different groups to assert their pre-eminence over the other.”
The government can do three things at the minimum:
  • start with strengthening law and order, and provide quick, legal redress
  • start a broader programme of sensitisation, whether that involves the police, resident welfare associations, or outreach programmes in schools and colleges.
  • spread the benefits of economic liberalisation. From Bihar onward, India’s poorer eastern half suffers from infrastructure deficit, a lack of industries, and educational and employment avenues. Lack of development has fueled insurgency. The government has to create educational and employment avenues in the northeastern states. It must value its people—if it wants others to do the same.

Mizoram Launches Captive Farming

Aizawl, Oct 23 : Mizoram launched captive farming in passion fruits under the RKVY and the state government's own New Land Use Policy.

The project captive farming in passion fruits for Tuikum cluster was launched by horticulture minister P C Lalthanliana during a function at Chhingchhip village today in presence of NLUP implementing board chairman and MLA, J H Rothuama and the beneficiaries.

The project will cover 612 beneficiaries (families) from ten villages - Khumtung, Baktawng Vengpui, Baktawng Tlangnuam, Chawilung, Chhingchhip Mualpui, Chhingchhip, Chhiahtlang, Hualtu, Hmuntha and Khawbel - under Serchhip district and one village Phulmawi under Aizawl district. The project will be undertaken by the state-owned corporation Mizoram Food and Allied Industries Corporation Ltd (MIFCO).

Rs 783.62 lakh has been allocated for the project, including Rs 521.12 lakh from RKVY and Rs 262.50 lakh from NLUP. Rs 15,000 has been deposited to bank account of each beneficiary as first installment. Each beneficiary will receive Rs 35,000 worth wire mesh in November.

Based on their performance, the beneficiaries will receive further installments of financial assistance, an official statement said. Meanwhile, the state government has sanctioned Rs 27.80 lakh (Rs 133 lakh for salaries and Rs 141.80 lakh as other financial grants) to MIFCO as a step to revamp the sick PSU.

Passion fruits farmers under this cluster are expected to supply at least 10,000 metric tons of passion fruits to a fruit processing plant at Chhingchhip owned by MIFCO.

Each beneficiary will cultivate passion fruits on at least one hectare of land. A beneficiary will be provided with 2000 saplings each and from this annual production of at least 20,000 kgs of passion fruits are expected.

The government has also decided to implement cluster farming in pine apple under RKVY and NLUP. Clusters and beneficiaries for the project have been selected. The project will be launched soon, officials said.

Half-Naked Woman Found Bound, Gagged in Mizoram Church

Aizawl, Oct 23 : A 19-year-old woman – half-naked and gagged, with her hands and feet tied up with ropes – was found behind the pulpit of a church in Aizawl early Wednesday morning.

Several members of the congregation who were making preparations for an approaching service after the early morning prayers at the Bethlehem Veng Presbyterian Church found the woman around 6.30 am.

The woman, who hails from Tlungvel village about 58 kms from the state capital, was lying behind the pulpit (a raised platform from where preachers deliver sermons) with her hands and feet bound with ropes, and a scarf tied around her mouth.

The congregation members untied her but she refused to say in any detail what had happened, only mentioning that two people – a man and woman she said she did not know – tied her up and left her there.

She also asked for another woman with whose family she had been staying for about a month in the locality. An eyewitness from the locality said the woman and her father came to identify her.

They confirmed she had been staying in their care and was being taken care of by the daughter, who has been volunteering to care for members of loose occult movements.

The police were informed and they have detained her for questioning.

They have also registered a case under IPC section 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.)

A senior police official said  the woman has not been responsive to police interrogators but that several angles are being investigated, including who were the people that tied her up and left her in the church, and even whether she might have been complicit in the incident.

India’s Largest Dam Given Clearance But Still Faces Flood Of Opposition

The 3000MW Dibang dam, rejected twice as it would submerge vast tracts of biologically rich forests, is to get environmental clearance – but huge local opposition could stall the project
A dam in Arunachal Pradesh. Travelib Environment/Alamy
A dam in Arunachal Pradesh. Photograph: Travelib Environment/Alamy
Six years ago, former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone for the 3000MW Dibang multipurpose dam project. The dam, to be built across the Dibang river, in the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, will be the country’s largest. The state plans to build more than 160 dams in the coming years.

Dibang dam will not only generate power but supposedly control floods in the plains of neighbouring Assam state. The dam’s reservoir was estimated to submerge 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) of dense forests along the Dibang river valley. The forest advisory committee (FAC), which examines the impact of infrastructure projects on wilderness areas, was appalled and rejected it.

For a project so large, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) failed to assess critical components of the project and was widely criticised for inadequately predicting the dam’s effects on the environment. Its evaluation of impacts on wildlife is a farce. The authors of the document list creatures not found in that area, such as Himalayan tahr, and concocted species not known to exist anywhere in the world, such as brown pied hornbill. Of the ones they could have got right, they mangled the names, referring to flycatchers as ‘flying catchers’ and fantail as ‘fanter’.

In his scathing critique, Anwaruddin Choudhury, an expert on the wildlife of north-east India, sarcastically concluded the EIA makes a case for the project to be shelved, as Dibang was the only place in the world “with these specialities!” Despite listing these amazing creatures, the EIA goes on to say “no major wildlife is observed”.

In a similar vein, the document claims only 301 people will be affected by the dam. Authorities must be puzzled that a project with so few affected people should be opposed by so many. Protests by local people began soon after the inaugural stone was laid in 2008. Since then large crowds have disrupted public hearings. On 5 October 2011, police fired on one such mass demonstration, injuring 10 people. Regional authorities branded anti-dam protestors as Maoist rebels, further angering them.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the Idu Mishmi and Adi tribes will be the most affected. They fear loss of grazing land, fishing grounds, and lack of safety of the dam in a seismically volatile zone.

Additionally, they are concerned that the large number of workers needed to build the dam will overwhelm their cultural identity and their lands.

When the FAC first rejected the project in June 2013, it said the “ecological, environmental and social costs of diversion of such a vast track of forest land, which is a major source of livelihood of the tribal population of the state, will far outweigh the benefits likely to accrue from the project”.

Some of the grassland-covered river islands in the Dibang river are the prime habitat of the critically endangered Bengal florican. The ministry’s recovery plan for the bird species recommends the area be designated as a national park.

Neeraj Vagholikar, an environmentalist familiar with the case, who works for NGO Kalpavriksh, lists the concerns of people downstream in Assam: loss of fisheries, loss of agricultural land on river islands, increased vulnerability to floods caused by removal of boulders from riverbeds for dam construction, sudden release of water from the reservoir in the monsoons, and safety of the dam in a geologically fragile and seismically active region.

Under public pressure, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi told prime minister Narendra Modi in July this year, “We urge that all hydro electric projects be taken up only after consideration of dam safety, flood moderation and downstream impact mitigation measures in consultation with government of Assam.”

Arunachal Pradesh resubmitted the proposal in February 2014, dropping the height of the dam from 288 metres to 278 metres and saving 1,100 acres of forest. The FAC rejected it again in April 2014.
Prakash Javadekar’s ministry of environment and forests also rejected the proposal on 28 August 2014, and cited these reasons in its letter: “[The] proposed area is very rich in biodiversity, sensitive ecosystem being at the edge of hills and flood plains and having large number of endemic and endangered flora and fauna, etc. Moreover, such project is most likely to have considerable downstream impact including impact on the Dibru-Saikhowa NP [national park] in Assam which is yet to be studied.”

That ought to have put paid to the dam project. Instead, the prime minister’s principal secretary revived it in early September.

This time it sailed through the clearance process. At the time of writing, the minutes of the FAC meeting granting approval have not been made public, and the final height of the dam is still unconfirmed. Anti-dam activists suspect the height of the dam may be lower by 20 metres, and the dam is likely to submerge 4,300 hectares (10,586 acres) of forest.

Javadekar has repeatedly stated he supported development without destruction of environment. But it’s just a matter of days before he affixes his seal of approval to the dam. The FAC’s previous concerns for the area’s biodiversity and the lack of studies of the impact in Assam were brushed aside. A project that claims to control flooding in Assam has not conducted one public meeting in that state nor was the chief minister’s demand for consultation acknowledged. The ministry’s own concerns about the impact on Dibru-Saikhowa national park remain unaddressed. This is the latest in a series of moves made by the government to push large projects at the cost of the environment.

When he was a prime ministerial candidate, on 22 February 2014, Modi had said in a speech at Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh: “I know that the people of the state are against the building of big dams, and I do understand their sentiments. We can still tap those potentials with proper scientific technology and small dams, besides using solar energy to supplement them.” Either he had changed his mind in six months, or he never meant what he said then.

However, forcing these approvals through may not make an iota of difference. The 2000MW lower Subansiri hydroelectric power project got all its clearances, and yet after spending over £500m, the project was brought to a halt in December 2011. The largest anti-dam people’s movement, “unprecedented in India’s hydropower history,” refuses to allow dam construction.

Activists believe the buildup of a massive opposition in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam may render the Dibang dam a non-starter too.

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