“We have been living here for generations. Now that Dharamshala has been included in smart city project our poor homes have suddenly become an eyesore in the town and are being shunted out in the name of development.”
While serving notices and eventually run earthmovers on the slum, the statement given by Mayor of Dharamsala city, Rajani, emphasized that the civic body was committed for the welfare of the community,
We have assured them all the facilities at the place where they want to shift. They have been asked to shift to Sarah, Gamru or Passu villages. We are ready to provide them toilet facilities in these villages. Some of the slum dwellers have already shifted to alternative places,
had said the Mayor.
However, after demolition, the civic body and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor backtracked. They left about 800 dwellers of the 30-years-old slum at Charan Khad in Dharamshala city homeless, forced to spent five days under open sky. Even monsoon arrived early this year and didn’t spare them after MCD demolished their homes without actually making any alternative arrangement for shelter.
After the demolition, when the Mayor was asked about her assurance given to dwellers about rehabilitation, she said,
We can only suggest a place and no guarantee could be given in case they faced an opposition from the locals. We can’t also ignore the concerns of local people.
Member of Passu village panchayat, said the administration had not taken them into “confidence” before deciding to allow the slum-dwellers on their common land.
We will not allow them to settle on our land,
villagers said. It isn’t expected from the Mayor of the city to not take the locals residing near suggested areas in confidence.
In reality, these were just lies to facilitate eviction and MCD was hoping that (after living in this slum for 30-years) these migrant laborers would just go back to their home states, Rajasthan and Maharastra.
Credits: Video and Editing: Sumit Mahar, Himdhara Collective
Even criminals including cold-blooded murders and rapist are given fair trial and provided shelter, food, and basic facility while in prison. However, locals welcomed MCD’s step. The city applauded the action as the slum dwellers were nothing more than disgusting people and slums are filled with anti-social elements, thieves, criminals, drug paddlers, drunkards, and of course, migrants. It won’t be wrong to say that people growing up in slums tend to develop antisocial tendencies. Majority of people showed hate and expressed disgust. People are of the view that the slum-people are actually never poor. They have TVs, refrigerators, and stuff that even lower middle class can’t afford. But people tend to forget that quality of life matters a lot and slum is the last place where anyone should expect to find it.
Locals even claim that they are feeling secure now irrespective of the fact that 800 dwellers including infants and school going children were now homeless, facing hostile response from everyone except some NGOs and kind hearted local activists. No newspaper or media asked people the real cause of formation of slums. Is it so hard to predict future of children growing up in highly unhealthy and psychologically abnormal environment. All children are born with same innocence, but their perception of the world is shaped by the society and the environment in which they are brought up. And we all know how we see and think of ‘slum people’. We have forgot that they are creation of our ignorance and corruption in our government machinery.
Take a look at the little protest that some school could show. Resistance was met with deployment of police force at the slum.
Homeless dwellers in this case are mostly daily wagers.
Due to the fact that our belongings are lying on the road, most of us who are daily wagers have not been able to earn their living, said a group of dwellers.
According to Hindustan Times, now homeless dwellers have managed to rent small pieces of lands in nearby areas including Passu, Dhagwar, Barwala, Mohli and Badol village. The plight of the families isn’t over because it will take time to resettle, build a new slum. A critical question that must be answered by the MCD is why civic body demolished a slum if it is allowing formation of new ones in nearby places. Five or 10 years later, government would again send noticed for eviction followed by same chain of events.
We have been turned into aliens in our own country. Are we paying price of Dharmashala included in smart city project?,
asks Pinkey- the class 12 student, who led the protest by her community when their shanties were being razed and now helping them in whatever way she can. The unfortunate turn of fate is already caused Pinkey to skip her first term examination. She isn’t the only one. Other school going students from slum, who were seeing some hope to get out of the trap of poverty through education, were shown their place.
With Inputs from Hindustan Times Talking to Himachal Watcher, Mansi Ashe, an activist, told us how NGO run by the monk was bringing the change in the life of ‘slum children’.
You can’t believe! The children into studies don’t lack in talent. They speak fluent English and some of them even topped their class. Three of them are in reputed institutes like Symbioses, and reputed engineering colleges in Karnataka and Kerala,
said another source, a local journalist associated with English daily.
When Himachal Watcher talked to one of the activists, Mansi Ashar, she told us,
We have been living here for generations.Now that Dharamshala has been included in smart city project our poor homes have suddenly become an eyesore in the town and are being shunted out in the name of development. They are forcing us out of our home. It’s a violation of human rights as well as right to life given by the Constitution of India. The eviction drive has already affected the livelihood of our community members as they are not able to go to work. If not found for a place is resettlement many families will be driven into hunger,
About places suggested by MCD, she said
However, local people are not allowing us to put up our homes there. Even some of the community members were beaten up by the locals when they went to new locations suggested by MC near Passu village. MC officials who had assured help in resettlement also took a U- turn when the villagers protested and maintained that they never suggested the slum dwellers to resettle on the location.
The Union Cabinet led by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, approved “Housing for All by 2022” Mission and assured rehabilitation of slums by providing them subsidized homes, while the Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act, 1956, states that eviction of slums without notice and without providing an alternate housing arrangement is illegal. But fortunate people think these dwellers are just nuisance and it is absolutely ethical to leave them homeless.
Slum rehabilitation of slum dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource and promotion of affordable housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy were two essential parts of this mission.
With Inputs from Hindustan Times and The Tribune
Video: People of this village in Shimla repairing road, cleaning drains despite paying taxes
Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department has been working on a new initiative under the previous and current government of the State. The department is encouraging people to repair roads and clean rainwater drains at their own level and expenses. For its pilot project, HP PWD had selected Bhadai village located in vicinity to the Shimla city and near one of the most popular temples in Shimla – Sankat Mochan.
In fact, the villagers in the village in were recently seen repairing the link road that connects them to the National Highway-5 ( Shimla-Chandigarh). Leaving aside their jobs, shops, household work, and most of all, despite paying taxes to the government, these villagers are themselves repairing the road and cleaning the drains. What could inculcate such a spirit in them? The villagers have explained it aptly in the video below:
They were motivated by the callousness of the Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department and the contractors.
Among these three parties, the people of the villages linked to this road are suffering most. The villagers don’t even remember how many times they have approached the department and panchayat with their grievance.
The condition of the road is so poor that now the cases of damage to vehicles and tyre bursts are being reported by the villagers. Minor accidents have become a common affair. The wait for major accidents is still on.
This road bifurcates at the entrance of the popular Sankat Mochan temple. As per the villagers, the road is in tatters since 2014, as it wasn’t attended even once during this period. In 2014, Himachal Watcher, as well as other some dailies, had also carried the news regarding the grievance of the villagers.
The tender was also awarded in 2014, but the contractor never showed up.
The villagers said they had hoped that things would change in the HP PWD with the formation of a new government with a fresh leader at the Chief Ministerial post. To their demise, the callousness is only growing in the department despite the fact that the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur himself holds the charge of HPPWD.
On the other hand, the PWD has been washing its hands off by putting the entire blame on contractors. Currently, the department and the contractor have the ‘rainy season’ as a reason to cite for not initiating the work on the road.
However, the contractor can do some soling to fix major potholes, which could have provided partial relief to the people.
The impact of the claims made by the current government regarding the achievement of new milestones in the development of the state is not visible on the ground level. Otherwise, how difficult is it to repair a patch of the road that hardly exceeds 1 kilometre in length?
If the same attitude of the state government continued then the same initiative could be extended to more villages of the state in future.
HP High Court’s gift to daughters of freedom fighters on Independence Day
Shimla: The State High Court of Himachal Pradesh on August 14, 2018, struck down a 1984 policy of the State, which discriminated against the married women. The policy did not consider the married women at par with the married sons and specifically excluded them from reservation being provided to “wards of freedom fighters” category in Govt. Jobs in the state of H.P.
The occasion is apt to echo the four decade old illuminating words of one of the greatest Judges of our Apex Court, Hon’ble J. Krishna Iyer where he said:
If a married man has a right, a married woman, other thing being equal, stands on no worse footing. This misogynous posture is a hangover of the masculine culture of manacling the weaker sex forgetting how our struggle for national freedom was also a battle against woman’s thraldom.
In the year 1984, it was decided by the state of H.P that 2% reservation in services be provided to the children/grandchildren of freedom fighters belonging to the State of H.P. in direct recruitment to all services/posts i.e. Class-I to IV including all Public Sector Undertakings/ Boards/Corporations. As per Scheme, the benefit of the reservation was applicable in respect of sons/grandsons, daughters/ granddaughters of Freedom Fighters. The married daughters/ granddaughters of Freedom Fighters were excluded from the scheme.
The issue of this exclusion was taken up and judicially reviewed by the bench of Hon’ble J.Sanjay Karol and J. Sandeep Sharma on a petition by Letter petitioners Ms Rekha Sharma and Ms Geeta Sharma, daughters of late Shri Het Ram Sharma (a Freedom Fighter).
The court appointed Advocate Deven Khanna as Amicus Curie who made submissions on behalf of the married daughters of freedom fighters (petitioners).
The stand of the state as reflected from the affidavit filed in 2017 was that;
So far as the question regarding giving reservation quota to the married Daughters/ granddaughters of Freedom Fighters is concerned, it is submitted that status of a married woman has to be construed in consonance with the general understanding of the word family as well as a status of married woman in the society. After marriage, a married woman loses the status of being a member of the parent’s family.
On an Affidavit dated October 10, 2017, filed by the Deputy Secretary (GAD) in the Court it was stated:
According to common knowledge and general understanding, the married daughter does not constitute to be a part of the family in its real sense. A daughter of a freedom fighter after her marriage, gets herself transplanted into the family of her husband and cannot, therefore, be claimed to be a part of the family in its real sense of the freedom fighter her father at least for anything relating to her children.
The State effectually took a stand that after solemnization of marriage; daughter severs her relationship with her parental family, for she gets “transplanted” into the family of her husband, and as such, cannot claim herself to be part of family of a Freedom Fighter.
It was argued on behalf of Married daughters (petitioners) that exclusion of a married daughter is plainly an act of hostile discrimination which is violative of the fundamental right guaranteed under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. The condition which has been imposed by the State does not prescribe financial dependence and does not exclude married men.
It was argued that the contrary the purpose here is to give benefit to the family of freedom fighter for their services, family here includes married daughter as much as married son,if we look at the classification made by the state between a married man and married daughter, it does not bear any connection with the object of the policy which seeks the benefit of the family members, hence this violates the basic rights.
It was stated that Discrimination law now sees as its focus the redressal of structural and institutional conditions, that have been historically responsible for subordination on the basis of gender roles. Gender roles here being married daughter considered dependent on her husbands family and losing her identity as it was prior to marriage.
It was further submitted by the amicus that discriminatory treatment, in this case, causes substantive disadvantage to women on grounds of their sex in public employment which is violative of article 16.
It was stated by the amicus:
It is the duty of the State to “not perform” an act which would discriminate on grounds of sex., there is also a positive obligation on the State to perform an act which would remove such existent discriminations.
The Court discussed a Plethora of judgments which had carved out a landscape of principles against gender discrimination in recent years.
Finally, the court struck down the policy to the extent it discriminates against married women and was contrary to the constitution.
The Court speaking through Hon’ble J. Karol came down heavily on the line of defence adopted by the state while striking down the unconstitutional part of the policy, the court held:
“******We find the stand adopted by the State to be absolutely archaic and disappointing..
::…..We notice that, under the instant Policy, the object and purpose of providing reservation is to confer the benefit upon the wards of the Freedom Fighters. Stand taken by the State that daughter gets transplanted into the family of her husband, in view of what the Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed, noticed by us supra, is not in tune with the changing times. The primary object and purpose of the Policy is not to confer benefits only on the male members of the Freedom Fighters. It is to acknowledge the sacrifices made by the Freedom Fighters, by giving employment to their wards.
….The primary object to provide employment to wards of freedom fighters is to recognize the outstanding services rendered by them to the Nation during the struggle for Independence and thus their wards are given benefit towards employment by making reservation to them under the category of “Wards of Freedom Fighters”. In our considered view, Daughters and Granddaughters, even if married, would be eligible for public employment.
…The action of the respondents by not giving reservation to married women and not allotting them Wards of Freedom Fighter Certificate, is illegal and arbitrary and an example of colorable exercise of power, for marriage does not have and should not have a proximate nexus with identity. The identity of a woman, as a woman continues to subsist even after and notwithstanding her marital relationship.
The time has, therefore, come for the Court to affirmatively emphasise that it is not open to the State, if it has to act in conformity with the fundamental principles of equality which are embodied in Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution, to discriminate against married daughters by depriving them of the benefit of the reservation, which is made available to a son irrespective of his marital status.”*******(excerpt is from the judgement in CWPIL 114 of 2018)
The Court also took note of the fact that the policy was an old policy, passed before the guarantees of sex equality under Articles 14 and 15 had an adequate expansion through various judgements of the apex court. The Court also referred to conflicting opinions passed by its previous benches.
The present case strengthens the fight for equality and strikes at the Differential treatment of men and women on the basis of presumed “gender roles” between the sexes, it exposes that discrimination results from conscious, chauvinistic Mindset and sometimes a product of social, economic, and cultural structures and institutions that create “patterns of exclusion”.
This significantly advances Indian sex discrimination jurisprudence, not only because of what the Court held i.e “that the policy discriminates against married women”, but also because how it was expressed, Justice Karol commenting on the stand of the state observed:
It is certainly not in tune with the changing times. In fact, it is out of sync with the constitutional values and principles. The predominant mindset of male chauvinism is all-pervading.
The language here is highlighting the impact of discrimination, because such practices end up reproducing existing social inequalities and hierarchies, and are the cause of stereotyping a particular gender into set roles. The need is to change the mindset and spread the constitutional morality of equality and freedom, to counter the chauvinism prevalent in the society at large and to provide a level playing field for all to prosper.
The case is a victory for women rights movement and an example of the justice system coming to the rescue of fundamental rights, against, biased and prejudicial laws which have a legacy of discrimination and are nursed by misogynistic mindsets of our society.
Misconceptions keep Himachal from making fortune on ‘green gold’ and eradicate charas mafia
Shimla: Owing to the unawareness and lack of education regarding the difference between hemp and recreational cannabis and the political link between the two, Himachal Pradesh Government is missing a big opportunity to cash on it. Hemp cultivation has become green gold in countries like China and the United States of America. The best part is that its biodegradable, thus, eco-friendly.
At the same time, while sitting on this mine of green gold, the Hill State is facing the wrath of charas/drug mafia due to illegal cultivation in rural areas where people have bleak opportunities of alternative employment.
The public, as well as the government, are under the false impression that legalizing cultivation would make things worse, especially for the youth. The article discusses facts relating to this misconception created due to the negative image of the plant. But before that, let us take a look at the booming industry of hemp.
Overview of the booming global hemp market
As of 2017, around 36 countries were growing industrial hemp in accordance with rules and regulations of their respective governments.
Hemp is endorsed in fibre market by big names like Adidas, Nike, Specialized Bicycle, MERIDA, TREK, Capo, Assos, Rapha, Marcello Bergamo, Castelli etc.
Hemp fibre accounted for 40.4% of the revenue in 2017 on account of high demand from the textile industry.
The global industrial hemp market is booming and expected to reach USD 10.6 billion by 2025, says a report by Grand View Research, Inc.
It’s generating billions in revenue and creating investment opportunities. China is the biggest producer as it claims 50 percent of the total supply to the global market. China’s hemp industry is all set to grow into a US $14,66,49,10,000 fortune in just five years.
China is fetching US $1,500 per hectare which is higher than the common crops like corn. Its produce is mostly exported to US, Europe, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, etc.
Shanxi Greenland Textile is the largest hemp fibre processor in China.
While Indian policymakers are neglecting it, about 606 patents have already come into existence, and China holds maximum 309 patents relating to hemp products.
In the US, Hemp Business Journal predicts industry growth of 700% to a value of 1.8 billion dollars by 2020 owing to hemp-derived CBD, food, personal care and industrial products
The total sales for the U.S. Hemp Industry in 2017 were $820 million.
Hemp is useless for charas mafia
When American farmers first begin to grow hemp as a legal crop, a large number of other people believed they were growing drugs or cannabis for smoking. This is the biggest misconception faced by the policymakers in India as well as in other nations.
Hemp is one of the varieties of Cannabis sativa, which cannot be used as a psychoactive substance to get high. In simple words, it would not get you high even if you try to do so by smoking it because it contains negligible amount (.3%) of the psychoactive substance Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
This variety of cannabis family is different from what is being cultivated illegally in Himachal, which contains a much higher amount of THC.
Genetically modified seeds with low TCH content
The researchers are already working on developing genetically modified hybrid seeds which could deliver higher productivity with a negligible amount of THC. Similar efforts are being made in the neighbouring states of Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir where the hemp cultivation has already been made legal. However, the stigma associated with cannabis family is holding back the hemp industry.
However, the misunderstanding due to the link of hemp to the cannabis family has resulted in several restrictions on hemp cultivation, processing, distribution, and consumption.
Himachal’s policymakers should not make a similar mistake and spoil the chances of socio-economic upliftment through this green gold.
Recreational cannabis can’t be grown under cover of hemp
Countries cultivating hemp has not faced any such problems because these two types of cannabis varieties can be distinguished easily. Also, the cultivation cycle is also different from the recreational cannabis. Moreover, the cultivation area, which is beyond government’s complete surveillance throughout the year, would automatically provide all details regarding the total area of cultivation with specific locations, total produce, and sale to manufactures.
Considering this, anyone who is given license to cultivate hemp legally after fulfilling all official formalities and conditions would deter from violating it by trying to cheat the authority.
Recognized and listed in the Essential Drugs List of AYUSH
The Essential Drugs List of Ayurveda Siddha Unani and Homeopathy (AYUSH) Department includes cannabis sativa as a medicine and the ancient literature of India as well China has a plethora of documented knowledge about the medicinal properties of the plant.
It is written in our Vedas that Cannabis (Vijaya) is one of the most sacred plants to grow on this land. Our Ayurvedic scriptures recognised and wrote about the miraculous medicinal properties of this plant almost 3,500 years ago.
Vijaya has been described under Upasiva Varga (Group of sub-poisonous plants) by certain texts related to Rasa Sastra.
Take a detailed look at a research titled “Exploring the pharmaco-clinical view on Bhanga (Cannabis sativa linn.): a classical unfamiliar portrayal Swagat” by DilipTavhare and Rabinarayan Acharya published in International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological in 2015:
A large number of such studies is available to testify in support of the aforesaid facts.
A global cannabis market of billions of dollars is ready to make large investments in India with a potential of creating employment for approximately 2.8 million people.
The cultivators can earn approximately Rs, 40,000 per acre in 100 days. Further, India has a potential to export hemp and cannabis products worth $330 million, which could grow rapidly if the government could think in the right direction and open research facilities to study this plant.
As per the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, in 2016, Canadian exports of hemp rose from $600,000 to $45 million and is expected to grow to $40 – $80 million by 2020.
Companies in the market are producing fibres that are water repellent, fire retardant, absorptive, and super soft. China was the first to carry out a research on hemp and use it in the military for uniforms and bulletproof jackets.
As a matter of fact, the hemp fibre is considered as one of the strongest material.
Hemp is so strong and lightweight that the auto industry is using it for luxury car parts.
It also makes good construction material in homes, and researchers are of the opinion that hemp biodiesel could one day be used as clean fuel.
The market boom can be attributed to increasing awareness about hemp, thus, growing demand for hemp-based food products including cooking oil, dairy alternatives, flour, salad, and for bakery products such as bread and cookies
What does HP High Court say about hemp cultivation?
If the data provided in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the State High Court by advocate Deven Khanna is considered, Himachal can kill several birds with one stone if it could bring the cultivation of hemp under legal framework for industrial and medicinal purposes.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma, on July 19, after taking stock of the situation of the state in terms drug/substance use, had expressed worries about it saying the situation has reached an alarming level.
The Court has directed the government to take every possible measure including at the level of policymakers to eradicate this nuisance. Along with directions to law enforcement agencies, the court has also asked the government to consider cannabis cultivation for alternative purposes, especially medicinal.
Government may also consider hiring services of some research Agencies, who in turn may advise/recommend alternate use, especially medicinal use, if any, of cannabis plant grown in the State of Himachal Pradesh, so that local residents, involved in illegal trade of cannabis, are encouraged to use cannabis plants for producing some medicines or substances which can be used legally,
the court had stated in the order.
ND&PS Act has given powers to State Governments to legalise hemp cultivation.
On the top of these advantages including the positive response of the High Court, there is already a provision in the ND&PS act, which the government can use to allow hemp cultivation.
Section 14 of the ND&PS Act empowers the government to, by general or special order, permit cultivation of cannabis exclusively for horticultural and industrial purposes. It says that the Central Government shall encourage research and trials of cultivars of cannabis with low THC content. The Central Government shall, however, follow a cautious, evidence-based approach towards the cultivation of cannabis for horticultural and/ or industrial purposes and shall take decisions based on the result of researches.
The Section 10 of the Act when read with Section 8, empowers the state governments to licence cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.
Hemp cultivation is very specific in terms of its requirement for the climatic conditions.
As the altitude and climatic conditions of the Hill State favour cultivation of cannabis, the plants could be found in almost every region from tribal areas to International tourist destinations like Kullu and Shimla.
This alternative can also eradicate charas/hashish mafia – one of the biggest concerns of Himachal.
Also, as the hemp has no natural enemies like animals, insects, pests etc, farmers do not need to worry about the damages worth hundreds of crores caused to their crops by wild animals or making expenditure on pesticides.
Himachal’s struggle to check drug/substance abuse nuisance
If we take a look at the current situation, in district Shimla only, the police have registered about 24 cases under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (ND&PS) Act from July 1 to August 8, 2018. In July, about 70 percent of cases were registered against Heroin (Chitta) offenders other than Charas, opium, and other drugs.
However, in August, the Shimla Police seized a high quantity of Charas in two cases, which could be considered as significant achievements. On August 8, police allegedly nabbed three persons including a female with 8.143 kg of Charas, and the case was registered at the Police Station, Theog.
Earlier, on August 2, the police had got it hands on a person who was allegedly carrying 3.3 kg charas.
However, such a high number of cases under ND&PS also indicate a commercial level cultivation of cannabis illegally. Ironically, the government is spending on uprooting these crops.
As per the Director General of the Police, SR Mardi, 94.267 kg charas was recovered between April, May and June 2018.
As per the DGP’s affidavit submitted to the court,
In the year 2012, 282.370 Kgs. charas was recovered from Himachal, whereas in the year 2013, it increased to 314.962 Kgs. As per the ‘NCB’, 356.963 Kgs. charas was recovered in the year 2014.
In 2016, the amount of seized charas rose to 377.535 kgs and 134 kg charas in first seven months of 2017.
Replacing current cannabis variety with hemp could go a long way in checking this nuisance and the black market.
Need for crop diversification in Himachal
Further, the climate change has affected Himachal’s common crops and fruit crops, especially apple. Amid such times, the policymakers need to work for diversification of cultivation of crops so that a supplementary income could be provided through the cultivation of Hemp in a rotational growing cycle along with major conventional crops.
It’s needless to say that hemp cultivation in addition to the common crops could assist it in achieving its target of doubling the income of farmers.
Major challenges for the hemp industry in India
The major challenges that the hemp industry face in India are lack of precedence with regards to regulatory landscape, interlayered ministerial roles and responsibilities, regulatory void caused due to lack of independent and consolidated regulator, lack of standard material for research amongst academics and institutions, concurrent policy clarity with regards to forward-looking nature of the hemp industry.
The State High Court would be conducting next hearing in the petition filed regarding the legalisation of hemp cultivation in Himachal on August 14, 2018. The court had already directed the state government to make a call over the decision. The ball is in the government’s court.
Video: People of this village in Shimla repairing road, cleaning drains despite paying taxes
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