Adivasi Farmers Protest Over Land Acquisition For Bullet Train Project

Dahanu, Maharashtra:  Tribal Adivasi farmers in Maharashtra’s Dahanu, backed by the Left affiliated All India Kisan Sabha, protested against land acquisition for the bullet train project and the Mumbai-Vadodara super highway alleging that they are being forced to give up their land for these projects. 

Led by the CPI(M) affiliated All India Kisan Sabha leaders Ashok Dhawale, Jiva Pandu Gavit and politburo member Nilotpal Basu, the farmers marched in the summer heat with their feet bearing the brunt of the hot summer sun. 

The 15,000 farmers reminded the government that it is yet to fulfill its promise of addressing their demands presented when 50,000 of them marched to Mumbai earlier this year that drew national attention and sympathy. 

Farmers say the state government has been slow in fulfilling the demands it agreed to when 50,000 farmers marched from Nashik to Mumbai with bleeding feet, demanding transfer of land rights and implementation of the forest rights act, small dams for irrigation, pension, and several other demands including minimum support prices for their produce. 

All India Kisan Sabha President Ashok Dhawale told NDTV, “Apart from the demands that the long march achieved but which have not been implemented we are taking up two major issues today. One is total opposition of the farmers to the bullet train project and the super highway project. Both these projects are going to have forcible acquisition of land across Thane and Palghar.” 

Farmers whose land would have to be acquired say they are being coerced in spite of opposing the survey of their land to begin the acquisition process.

41-year-old Chandrakant Vartha says he still hasn’t been compensated for land acquired for expansion of the national highway a few years ago. He currently owns five acres of land in Dahela village now and has nine mouths to feed at home with the income from farming. The bullet train project will acquire three acres of his land which he is unwilling to part with. 

“Our future generations will live off the land. When they came to survey the land they threatened us. We fear our land will be taken away so we don’t let them survey the land. Once we sent them away… they keep coming back and say you have to give your land,” Mr Vartha told NDTV. 

Another farmer, 41-year-old Ramesh Ghute, will lose his entire four acres of land. He has seven people to feed at home and farming is his only source of income. He participated in the long march from Nashik to Mumbai earlier this year and says his entire village had gathered to protest against the survey for land acquisition forcing officials to cancel the survey on April 28. 

Angry with the government for not consulting the panchayat, Ramesh Ghute told NDTV, “The land is our mother. If we have it we can feed ourselves. If we lose our land we will have nothing left. We will die but not give our land for the bullet train project. Our village has decided this.”

The CPI(M) which is leading the farmers’ protest through the All India Kisan Sabha says with rural discontent growing it’s an opportunity for the Opposition to build consensus to take on the BJP. CPI(M) politburo member Nilotpal Basu told NDTV, “We are fighting and there is an excellent response. We will continue to not only independently go and mobilise the people but also broaden the unity so that there is a fresh realignment of political forces that can offer a national alternative to the policies of the Modi Government.” 

But the BJP alleges the farmers are being misled and they will come around when they see their gain in supporting these projects. Revenue Minister of Maharashtra Chandrakant Patil told NDTV, “For every big project there are misunderstandings in the beginning and there is opposition. When people understand that development is necessary and they will be compensated, the agitation ends.”

With the 2019 elections drawing near, rural discontent especially over issues like land acquisition is one weak point the BJP faces. The left and other opposition parties realise that mobilisation over these issues could actually lead to results in the 2019 elections which is why protest like these are more likely to be seen over the next few days.

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Delinking Of Aadhaar As ID Proof For Getting Sim Card, Interim Measure: Centre Tells Supreme Court

Centre told top Court after reports of Aadhaar not being the sole identity proof for getting SIM card.

New Delhi:  The Central government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that delinking of Aadhaar as a sole identity proof for getting a SIM card was an interim measure.

It will continue to be in place till the top court pronounces its verdict on petitions challenging the validity of the Aadhaar Act, Attorney General KK Venugopal told a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra after he was asked about reports of Aadhaar not being the sole identity proof for getting a SIM card.

Other identity proofs have been included as an interim arrangement in pursuance to the court’s earlier order and this would remain so till the judgment was pronounced, Mr Venugopal told the bench, which also comprises Justice AK Sikri, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan.

Former Karnataka High Court Judge KS Puttuswamy, Magsaysay awardee Shanta Sinha, feminist researcher Kalyani Sen Menon, social activists Aruna Roy, Nikhil De, Nachiket Udupa and others have moved the top court challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act.

Defending the tabling of Aadhaar Bill as money bill in Parliament, the AG phoo-phooed the petitioners’ apprehension about state resorting to the illegal act of surveillance or attempting to aggregate data for political benefits.

He mocked the suggestion that a government set up under the Constitution would indulge in the acts prohibited under the Aadhaar law.

Mr Venugopal also took exception to petitioners comparing the collection of Aadhaar data to “concentration camp”, “totalitarian regime” or to that of an “electronic leash”, saying: “Leash is used for Dog. I am sorry.”

The hearing will continue on Tuesday – next week – as petitioners commenced their rejoinder to the submissions by the Central government, the Unique Identification Authority of India and some states.

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Green Court Asks Delhi, Northern States To Respond To Most-Polluted Cities Report

WHO data said 9 out of 10 people in the world breathe air containing high levels of pollutants

New Delhi:  The National Green Tribunal or Green Court today asked Delhi, four northern states and Bihar to respond to a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report on 20 most-polluted cities in the world.

According to the WHO global air pollution database, 14 out of the 15 most-polluted cities in the world in terms of PM 2.5 concentrations are in India, the worst being Kanpur with a Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 concentration of 173 micrograms per cubic metre, followed by Faridabad, Varanasi and Gaya.

A bench headed by acting Green Court Chairperson Jawad Rahim allowed lawyer Sanjay Upadhyay, appearing for Vardhaman Kaushik who has filed a petition against worsening air quality in Delhi-NCR, to place on record the WHO report seeking response from the Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Bihar governments.

The states have been asked to clarify their stand by May 21, the next date of hearing.

Delhi and Varanasi are among the 14 Indian cities that figured in a WHO list of 20 most-polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5 levels.

The WHO data also said that nine out of 10 people in the world breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.

In terms of PM10 levels, 13 Indian cities figured in the 20 most-polluted cities of the world in 2016, Delhi being the worst.

The Indian cities that registered very high levels of PM2.5 pollutants were: Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Patna, Lucknow, Agra, Muzaffarpur, Srinagar, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Patiala and Jodhpur followed by Ali Subah Al-Salem in Kuwait and a few cities in China and Mongolia.

During the hearing, Mr Upadhyay told the bench that states should be directed to file action taken report in pursuance to the WHO report.

He said various states have filed action plan to combat worsening air quality and claimed that everything was under control, but 14 cities still figured in the list of 20 most polluted.

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Centre Defends Decision On Aadhaar Linking With Mobiles In Supreme Court

The linking of Aadhaar card number with a host of services has been in the line of fire.

New Delhi:  The Centre today strongly defended its decision to seed Aadhaar numbers with mobile phones, telling the Supreme Court that it could have been hauled up for contempt if the verification of mobile users was not undertaken by it. 

However, the top court said the government had misinterpreted its order and used it as a “tool” to make Aadhaar mandatory for mobile users. 

A five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, hearing a clutch of petitions challenging Aadhaar and its enabling 2016 law, was told by Attorney General K K Venugopal that it was the specific direction of the apex court to the Centre to verify all SIM cards users within a year. 

“The (February 6, 2017) order of the Supreme Court was the positive direction to verify the SIM cards,” Mr Venugopal said, adding that the failure on part of the government could have made it liable to be hauled up for the contempt. 

The top law officer was responding to the apex court’s earlier observation that it had not ordered mandatory linkage of Aadhaar and the government misinterpreted its order on a PIL filed by ‘Lokniti Foundation’. 

“In fact there was no such direction from the Supreme Court, but you took it and used it as a tool to make Aadhaar mandatory for mobile users,” the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, had said. 

Mr Venugopal then referred to the recent order of the court that had put on hold the mandatory linking of Aadhaar till a decision on the PILs and said that currently, the unique identity was not mandatory to obtain a new connection.

“We are waiting for the decision of the court. If the court allows it, there there will be no chance of forgery and fraud if Aadhaar is linked to SIM card,” he said, adding that it will remain optional till the final disposal of the matters.

Later in the day, senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for former High Court judge Justice (Retd) K S Puttaswamy, referred to the technical experts’ views on the technical aspect of the Aadhaar architectures and said that a real time surveillance of citizens was possible.

For the first time in a democracy, something like CIDR has been implemented and the apex court has to balance the human rights and new technologies that is capable of being misused, he said. Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) is a government agency that stores and manages data for the country’s Aadhaar project.

“You cannot have a surveillance state in a democracy. Identity of the person, date and time, and location are the three elements of surveillance,” he said, adding that all the three can be known by using the Aadhaar technologies.

He then referred to the affidavit of the Centre filed on March 9 and said an expert report by Manindra Agarwal of IIT Kanpur has categorically said that breach of verification lock can lead to leakage of information about the location of transactions undertaken by a citizen during last five years.

“Experts on both sides now agree that surveillance is possible. It is not just a privacy issue. It is a limited government issue. How far does the coercive power of the state extend? It cannot extend to creating an infrastructure that is capable of tracking people…This is the real time surveillance,” he said.

“UIDAI’s presentation report says that biometrics database is accessible by third party vendors like Morpho, Accenture, identity solutions and one more. Breach of verification log leaks location of places where an individual did authentication,” he said.

Can we have a law or system that sets up an authority that does not comply with the democratic norms, he asked, adding, “I am speaking about a rudimentary level of surveillance. I am not even talking about commercial surveillance.” 

“There is an inexorable march of technology. What are the kind of safeguards that we should take while balancing these rights is something we have to consider,” the bench asked.

It was not that there was quantitative lack of food in our country and the problem was that people cannot access that food and it is the duty of the State to look into this aspect also, the bench said.

Divan then referred to the answers given to the queries by UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey and said Aadhaar was a “self certification or declaration system”, because no government authority checks the identity records of the persons at the time of enrolment.

“UIDAI takes no responsibility for correct name, address, date of birth. Please consider, if this meets minimum standard of rationality,” Divan said, adding “even an illegal immigrant can get Aadhaar as there is nobody from the government to check the authenticity of the documents submitted at the time of enrolment.” 

Divan would resume advancing rejoinder arguments on May 8. 

Earlier, the court did not seem to agree with the government’s contention that the Aadhaar law was correctly termed as a Money Bill by the Lok Sabha Speaker as it dealt with “targeted delivery of subsidies” for which funds come from the Consolidated Fund of India.

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Looking Ahead At 2019, Congress, NCP Form Alliance For MLC Polls In Maharashtra

The alliance is being seen as an experiment for the big battles of 2019.

Mumbai:  With months in the making, the two major Opposition parties in Maharashtra, the Congress and the NCP have managed to finalise a seat-sharing agreement for elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Council which is being held on May 21. Both will contest three seats each, according to spokespersons of the parties. 

Maharashtra has a bicameral legislature and six seats in the legislative council will be up for grabs as six members retire. 

For the bye-elections to be held on May 28, the NCP will contest Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seat, while the Congress will contest Palghar Lok Sabha seat. The Congress will contest the Palus-Kadegaon assembly seat.

The bye-elections have to be held as Nana Patole resigned as BJP MP from Bhandara-Gondia and deaths of BJP MP Chintaman Wanga from Palghar and senior Congress leader Patangrao Kadam who was an MLA Palus-Kadegaon constituency. 

NCP Spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “The two parties have reached an understanding to contest the by-election for two Lok Sabha seats and one assembly seat scheduled for May 28.” 

The alliance is being seen as an experiment for the big battles of 2019. Not only will there be parliamentary elections but there will also be assembly elections in the state. 

The NCP and the Congress has fought the 2014 Lok Sabha elections together but the parties separated for the assembly elections that year. The break up led to massive gains for the Shiv Sena and the BJP which came together to form a government after the assembly polls. 

For the 2019 elections the Shiv Sena has announced that it will not have an alliance in the BJP. But with alliances and counter alliances still forming, the picture will be clearer closer to the elections.

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Cyclonic Circulation Over Haryana Was Trigger: Experts

Dust Storm In Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan: Around 100 people have died after the dust storm

New Delhi:  A cyclonic circulation over Haryana was the trigger for the deadly dust storm that swept parts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, weather experts said today, estimating that the wind speed during the storm may have gone up to 100 kilometres per hour.

The winds were so violent that a number of houses collapsed and electricity poles and trees got uprooted, as the severe dust storm swept parts of these states.

The phenomenon was restricted to these two states, largely because of external and domestic reasons, experts said.

There were primarily four reasons that lead to the thunderstorm, excessive heating, availability of moisture, instability in atmosphere and a trigger for the storm, India Meteorological Department (IMD) Additional Director General Mritunjay Mohapatra said.

“The north Indian plains have been witnessing temperatures of over 40 degree Celsius. There were two sources of moisture, a western disturbance over north Pakistan and adjoining Jammu and Kashmir and easterly winds from the Bay of Bengal,” Mr Mohaptara said.

The cold winds from the western disturbance was making atmosphere unstable.

“The trigger was a cyclonic circulation over Haryana,” Mr Mohapatra said.

This led to the formation of two cloud patches, said Mahesh Palawat, Vice President (Meteorology and Climate Change) of Skymet, a private firm that provides weather forecast

One patch moved to north of Delhi, while another patch moved over the Alwar, Agra, and Dholpur belt, which was more deadly.

Mr Mohapatra said it was difficult to record the wind speed as the phenomenon was restricted to only small patches. In Delhi, where a milder version of the dust storm and thunderstorm struck, the wind speed was recorded as 69 kmph.

However, Mr Palawat estimated that the wind speed would have been more than 100 kmph.

Laxman Singh Rathore, former Director General of the IMD, said wind speed is normally around 50 kmph in a thunderstorm.

“In case of a dust storm, due to excessive heating, the water from the clouds evaporates before it could land. So soil is dry and the severe winds lift up this soil up to 500 metres above the land. The wind speed can rise up to 100 kmph and in some case it can reach 130 kmph making conditions severe,” Mr Rathore, who is also a member of the National Disaster Managment Authority, said.

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PM Modi Gifts His Gold Garland To Engineering Student After Request on Twitter

PM Modi gifted his garland to the engineering student.

Dhanbad:  When an engineering student wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media asking for a similar gold garland that he wore during a rally in Madhya Pradesh, his wish was granted within a few days. In fact, he also got a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) which said that PM Modi is sending him the same garland.

Rabesh Kumar Singh, a mechanical engineering student of Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad, had asked the Prime Minister for the garland on Twitter, which he wore during a public rally in Madhya Pradesh last month.

“I was listening to you on Panchayati Raj Day; you gave a very nice speech. I liked the gold-coloured garland you were wearing. Can I get the same?” Singh asked PM Modi in a tweet.

The next day, the Prime Minister sent the same garland to the student along with a letter which read, “I read your message on Twitter where you expressed your liking for the garland I wore at Mandla on Panchayati Raj Diwas. I am sending you a letter along with the garland as a gift. I wish you all the best for the future.”

modi gold garland

PM Modi also sent his best wishes to the student in a letter.

After receiving the gift, Singh expressed his gratitude and tweeted, “I am honoured after receiving the gift and letter from you. Thank you very much for this beautiful gift and good luck message.”


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In RSS Defamation Case, Maharashtra Court Calls Rahul Gandhi On June 12

Thane:  Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been told to appear in a Maharashtra court on June 12 to record his plea in a defamation case filed against him by an RSS functionary. The court in Bhiwandi, 40 kilometres from Mumbai, had on Wednesday heard arguments on Mr Gandhi’s application, seeking a detailed recording of evidence instead of a “summary trial”, and adjourned the matter till June 12.

The court said that on June 12 it would pass an order on the application and would also record Mr Gandhi plea, and asked him to come to the court that day.

Rajesh Kunte, a worker of the BJP’s ideologue Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, had in 2014 filed the case against Rahul Gandhi after watching the Congress leader’s speech in Bhiwandi. Mr Kunte in his complaint had said the Congress leader alleged that the RSS was behind the killing of Mahatma Gandhi.

Mr Kunte said Rahul Gandhi’s alleged statement harmed the reputation of the RSS.

While trial in such matters are normally held summarily, Rahul Gandhi filed an application last month seeking for it to be conducted as a “summons trial”.

“A summary trial is short and will be completed with just submitting the written arguments. We have sought for a summons trial which would go into the in-depth recording of the evidence,” Rahul Gandhi’s lawyer Narayan Iyer said.

“The case relates to historical facts and hence, we need to rely on several documents and would like to record the evidence of experts,” Mr Iyer said.

Rahul Gandhi had earlier moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of the case. The top court in July 2016 said he should not have resorted to “collective denunciation” of an organisation, and would have to face trial if he did not express regret for his remark.

The Congress leader had declined to accept the suggestion and expressed willingness to face the trial.

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Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar inaugurated Maharishi Dayanand Gaushala at Karnal

Karnal, Haryana:  Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar today said that the state government would set up ‘gaushalas‘ in all the prisons.

He laid the foundation stone of the first ‘gaushala‘ in the jail of the state in Karnal.

The chief minister said that the stray animals would be given shelter and prisoners would be able to earn ‘punya‘ (moral deed) by providing their services to the ‘gaushalas‘.

This service would also help in transforming the minds and hearts of these prisoners, he added.

On this occasion, Haryana’s Jail Minister Krishan Lal Panwar said that the government has formulated a policy for setting up ‘gaushalas‘ in the state.

Under this policy, the government would provide Rs 5 lakh to those gram panchayats which would set up the ‘gaushalas‘ over one acre land having capacity to shelter 100 cows.

The ‘gaushala‘ in the Karnal jail is being established on a three acre land and it would house 300 cows, he said.

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How To Make Quick Pudina Chutney At Home

How To Make Quick Pudina Chutney At Home


  • Pudina chutney is the most loved tangy dip
  • It can be paired with any dish, be it spicy samosas or aloo pakoda
  • Pudina chutney is known to Indian households since centuries

Last year when I was travelling to the U.S. to attend my cousin’s wedding, I was given a long list of home-made foods that I had to bring along with me. Since he lives there alone and mostly eats out, he craves for home-made Indian food. The list was long and I was not sure if I would be able to carry everything or not (also the flight restrictions!), so I decided to pick the top 5 items of the list. Not-so-surprisingly, pudina chutney was the number 1 item. And, why not? It is the most loved tangy dip that can be paired with any dish, be it spicy samosas, crispy aloo pakode, or simple daal chawal – the exotic pudina chutney will just double the taste.

Pudina chutney is known to Indian households since centuries, yet the taste of chutney differs from one another. Last week, one of my colleagues got a platter of veg pakodas with her mom’s special pudina chutney for lunch. As a courtesy she offered me some, and that’s it… there I was wolfing them down shamelessly. I should not be blamed, it was that sinful pudina chutney that was doing its magic. Since then, her mom’s special pudina chutney became the talk of the town and whoever tasted it claimed that it was the best chutney they have ever had! I am sure there are a lot of fun stories like these that talk about the goodness of the divine pudina chutney. Having said that, here is a step-by-step guide below to make your own pudina chutney at home.


  • 2 to 3 green chillies
  • 1 cup of fresh mint leaves
  • 3 cups of coriander
  • 1 kairi (raw mango)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 heeng
  • 1 tsp zeera
  • 6 to 8 small cloves of garlic (optional)
  • 1-inch piece of ginger
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Clean mint leaves and coriander and cut their stems.
  2. Take all the ingredients and blend them until smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust salt. You may add more chilies, if needed and blend again.
  4. Transfer the chutney in an air-tight container and store in refrigerator for up to a week.

So, now your chutney is ready to be savoured. Pair it with rolls, cutlets, tikka, grilled veggies, or simply use it as a salad dressing.

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