Wednesday, September 21, 2016

National Green Terror

Logo of Kenya's National Environment Tribunal
No, sir, we are not talking about the Terrorist Acts by Muslim organizations like Indian Mujahideen. We are talking here about the judicial body established under law for the matters pertaining to environmental protection and compensation to affected parties.

India was once famed for its lush green, thick forest cover with a flourishing wildlife. Excessive hunting and ‘indiscriminate’ deforestation for industrialization, agriculture, mining and even housing purposes affected the forest cover of India quite alarmingly and brought to conflicts from more than one perspective.

For Indians, considering the importance attached to various life forms like Trees and Animals in its Religious Texts, protection of Environment is a very popular issue, but the economic sustenance & national security has brought to fore a completely different kind of necessity.

Indians must protect their forests & wildlife, keep their air & water clean, as well, and at the same time, continue to build new, improved infrastructure for economic advancement and national security.


The Fight for Clean Environment

India has been constantly bringing in Laws to protect its nature, for decades now. From the Indian Forests Act, 1927 to National Green Tribunal Act 2010, all are driven to somehow keep the nature intact, while the people endeavor to feed families.

The laws exist for protection of Air, Water and Earth; the plant life as well as wildlife. Indian Forests Act, 1927; Forest Conservation Act, 1970; Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; The Environment Protection Act, 1986 & Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 are all aimed at protection of our much valued nature’s gifts, so essential to all forms of lives.


Whereas the intent has always existed, the means to enforcement & administration of these laws has been a difficult task. The Courts in India have a burgeoning list of pending cases on its hand. More than 2.18crore cases are said to be pending with District Courts alone while 22.5 lakh cases out of these have been pending for over 10yrs. In such a circumstance, a need for a separate judicial body to administer environmental cases has always been felt.

Environmental Courts

Accordingly, immediately after the Rio meet, India initiated National Environment Tribunal Bill in 1992. The Bill was passed finally in 1995. But somehow the Act never got notified. With the change of Govt., the Third Front Govt. introduced a watered down version in the form of another Legal Body through National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997. Accordingly, NEAA was instituted, however, the body remained neglected for years altogether, with the position of Chairman remaining vacant far too long, even after Delhi High Court penalized the body in 2009.

National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 was formed under Article 253 of Constitution of India, and hence, was applicable to States as well, to give effect to an international commitment of the Union Govt. It was meant to administer National Environment Act, 1986 as well as Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991. But failure to notify and establish a Tribunal wasted the entire effort.

It took India, nearly 11yrs after Bhopal Gas Tragedy, in 1984, to pass a legislation that formed a Tribunal to look into activities that were hazardous to India’s Environment and also to ensure proper compensation for people affected by such accidents, that too under international obligations; and even that law got wasted. This was such a tragedy in itself.

On the other hand, NEAA was simply formed on the basis of India’s own need to ensure that appeals could be heard with respect to restriction of areas in which industries, operations etc. could be carried out or not and, therefore, administered to only Environment Protection Act, 1986. Not many cases were referred to this body, and since, the environmental activists hardly had their way. For e.g. their effort to scuttle Adani’s Mundra Port through NEAA yielded no results and the contribution of Mundra Port is for everyone to see today. However, after the first Chairman, no person was appointed to the position and the body became dysfunctional for all practical purposes.

Law Commission Report

In such circumstances, in 2003, Law Commission of India released its 186th Report, on Proposal to constitute Environment Courts. The report criticized NET because it only had powers to award compensation and NEAA because it had a narrow jurisdiction.

Additionally, it also criticized the composition of Judicial & other Members. It suggested formation of a Court, and therefore advised complete exclusion of Secretaries from the Judicial Body, thereby eliminating the Executive’s perspective in its decision-making. It also caused a grave harm by giving disproportionate access, to this judicial body, to the Environment Experts, a favorable call for NGOs funded by foreign moneys, in the absence of effective counter from the Executive.

The Commission sought to expand the Jurisdiction of the Environment Courts to that of a proper Civil Court, asking for inclusion of Water (P & CP) Act, 1974 & Air (P & CP) Act, 1981.

At the same time, it sought establishment of regional bodies, and therefore, proposed establishment of the Law under Article 253 of the Constitution of India, which permits Parliament to enact Laws for even the States, in order to allow the Union to meet its International Obligations.

In its primary approach, it wasn’t much different from National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995.

However, by 2004, the Govt changed and Congress/UPA came to power.

NAC, NGO and NGT

Making the entry into the PMO through the backdoor, namely, National Advisory Council, Sonia Gandhi brought her own Left-Ultra Left philosophy to the table and within no time NAC became the haunt of the foreign-funded NGOs. Considerable platform was provided to them and Forest, Rehabilitation and Tribal policies were discussed at lengths and years in the NAC. Jairam Ramesh remained member of NAC till 2007.

The NGOs were eager to get the 186th Law Commission Report recommendations implemented quickly, so that Executives would be out and they would be in, giving them a considerable muscle power.

The task couldn’t be accomplished in the first tenure of UPA. In the 2nd tenure, in 2009, NAC member Jairam Ramesh became Minister for Environment and Forest and, immediately upon entry, in July 2009 published the first draft of National Green Tribunal Bill. After its reference to the Standing Committee, the same was passed in May 2010.

Environment Vs. Industry

Yes, after formation of NGT, it became Environment vs. Industry. And owing to a continued series of such flawed decision-making, today the general perception about NGT is that it is an anti-development body, going far beyond its mandate or expected role. Dozens of orders and observations against wide-ranging infrastructure projects continue to be churned out of NGT’s Judicial Mill.

But with 1.2bn people to feed, with a median age of 26-27yrs, India can ill-afford an anti-development stone age approach. The trade-off between Environment and Economic Development has got to be there. The role of Expert Members on the Tribunal has to shift from merely making adverse remarks to that of providing alternative approaches for the resolution of disputes arising on account of loss to environment.

It would be a grave shame, if the NGT continues to operate the way it has been operating for the last 6yrs since its formation. From widening of National Highways, to adverse remarks against Water Taxi project, to issuing conditional permission for registration of 6 diesel vehicles of the elite Special Protection Group (SPG), NGT has projected a questionable and negative image in the minds of India’s progressive masses.

If the trend continues, will it not be wise for the Govt. to consider narrowing its Jurisdiction, in a manner that the Economic Development and National Security related projects do not get affected, at the least.



Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

In these times, the society does need special days to remind and celebrate causes that should ideally be part of our upbringing and consciousness. It is not a complaint, but acknowledgement of the necessity because we live in such Kaliyug. 

Mother's Day has a very special meaning and opportunity for Sanatana Dharmi society worldwide to relook at the concept of a Mother. Is mother a mere person, who gives birth? Or does motherly concept stretch beyond just this? 

From giving birth, to nourishing, to bringing up her children, a mother has the greatest role and she does all of this with unconditional love, and without ever complaining. This alone is a great test and an opportunity for a mother to cultivate the virtue of Tolerance. And hence, two of the greatest qualities one learns from a mother is Unconditional Love (Loving Kindness) & Tolerance.

And at the same time, when a Mother sees her children becoming wayward, her anger, without any bitterness, is directed entirely to bring the children back on correct path. 

And such qualities are not limited to a person. All around us, we see things that are "Mother Personified". Where we find phenomena of producing, of nourishing, of helping along the upbringing with unconditional love, tonnes of tolerance and the anger without bitterness to bring us on the correct path. And that is the third quality we learn from her.

From a Human Mother who gives us birth; to Mother Nature which gives us all, including our human mother, the wonderful things like Sun, Wind, Water, that gives us food, that gives us natural resources; to Mother Earth or MotherLand, that gives us Shelter, Security, Law & Justice, a chance to enjoy the natural resources; to Cow/Buffalo that give us Milk, that offer us livelihood, and whose dung gives us fuel, whose urine can give us medicine; we find that Mother is not just a person who gives us birth, but also so many things that personify the motherly qualities.

Recognising these motherly qualities in persons and things around us only helps us in cultivating fourth virtue in us - Gratitude. Gratitude for all that we receive, from a selfless giver, with that nourishing loving kindness & compassion. And that teaches us the fifth virtuous quality - to be a Selfless Giver, to share, to indulge in charity. And the sixth virtuous quality - Compassion. 

We are Human Beings, endowed with greater faculties than any other species of animals, we know in Science. As we evolve further, we must evolve into a serious, deeply reflecting, deeply absorbing, wise beings rather than the frivolous, superficial society that we are turning into. Only such reflecting, absorbing, aware, wise human being with virtuous qualities will give the hope that the society has a chance to move from Kaliyug into Satyug as well. 

So let the Mother's Day stand for something bigger, something that broadens the horizon of our wisdom and enhances our human qualities. 

May all beings be happy. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Adil Shahryar – Warren Anderson Swap Deal



Adil Shahryar
Warren Anderson
Here are the key points for those who may want to understand Adil Shahryar – Warren Anderson Swap Deal.
  1. Adil Shahryar was son of Mohd. Yunus, a very close-aide of Indira Gandhi since 1940s.
  2. So, obviously, Adil Shahryar was a childhood friend of Rajiv & Sanjay Gandhi too.
  3. Adil was living in US and had been sentenced to 35yrs Imprisonment on 5 counts of Militancy in 1982. It was a high profile case.
  4. Charlston Heston was the Local Guardian for Adil Shahryar in US. Heston was the famous Hollywood actor known for Hallmarks of Hollywood like Ben Hur and Ten Commandments.
  5. Heston wrote 3 Letters to the US Attorney General of the time, William Smith, to reconsider the sentencing of Adil Shahryar, but Smith did not give in and explained his position in his replies. 
  6. Heston's efforts were in addition to efforts by Shri. Mohd. Yunus and "other persons acting on Mr. Shahryar's behalf", as revealed by US Attorney General in his reply.
  7. That Charlston Heston with such a hugely influential position failed to arrange Pardon for Adil Shahryar shows the resolve of the US Government on issues pertaining to Militancy, even if the convict had a high profile.
  8. Suddenly on 11th June 1985, President Reagan pardoned Adil Shahryar. There was no reason given, except as a Goodwill gesture.
  9. Actually, India’s then Prime Minister Shri. Rajiv Gandhi was visiting US on 11th June 1985 and American Press put it out clearly that Adil Shahryar, a convicted militant was being released on the occasion of arrival of his close childhood friend, Rajiv Gandhi.
  10. Rajiv Gandhi was, however, not such a popular World Leader that US would be compelled to release a convicted Militant. And during attempts by Charlston Heston in 1982, the US Govt had given clear reasons for its decision to not reconsider this issue.  Obviously, especially considering the secrecy that US Govt maintained on reasons of clemency, Adil Shahryar was being Swapped.
  11. On December 8, 1984, 7 months earlier, Rajiv Gandhi had allowed escape of Warren Anderson, Chairman of Dow Chemicals that was responsible for Bhopal Gas Tragedy of December 3, 1984.
  12. Rajiv Gandhi gave no reason whatsoever to explain the release from Jail and escape from India of Warren Anderson.
  13. CIA released documents related to Warren Anderson’s release (he may have been flown out on a CIA Plane), under Freedom of Information Act. Most parts were blacked out. But whatever little was shared with public; it said Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi arranged for release and escape of Warren Anderson.
  14. All key players of this old drama are dead today. Warren Anderson is dead, Adil Shahryar is dead, Mohd. Yunus is dead, Rajiv Gandhi is dead, Ronald Reagan is dead, Charlston Heston is dead, William Smith is dead, then CM of Madhya Pradesh Arjun Singh is dead.
  15. We only have three relevant documents 
  16. Scores of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Victims who died in Sleep
    1.  CIA’s debriefing on release of Warren Anderson
    2. 3 sets of Letters exchanged between Charlston Heston and US Attorney General William Smith 1, 2, 3
    3. New York Times news coverage of 11th June 1985
  17. Govt of India should seek clarification & confirmation from US Govt on Adil Shahryar-Warren Anderson Exchange.
  18. They should seek US Govt’s reply before December 3, 2015, 31st Anniversary of Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Today none of the responsible persons is alive. At least give the families of the victims a sense of closure.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

An Open Letter to Sushma Swaraj on Bhopal Gas Tragedy



Adil Shahryar

जुलाई , २०१५

आदर्णीय सुषमा जी,

आज आप मध्यप्रदेश से सांसाद भी हैं और भारत की विदेश मंत्री भी, ये हमारे लिए गौरव की बात है। पर यह खुली चिट्ठी मैं आपको "भोपाल गैस काण्ड" के विषय में लिख रहा हूँ।

बचपन से इस काण्ड के बारे में सुनते आए। कई रिश्तेदार भोपाली होने के कारण भी इसकी चर्चा घर पर चलती रही। सुना तो बहुत था कि इतने हज़ारों लोग मरे, और ऐसा हुआ या वैसा हुआ, पर कानून और न्याय पर नज़र कुछ बड़े होने के बाद ही पड़ी।

२०१० मई में, विभिन्न राष्ट्रपतियों ने कितने अपराधियों पर अनुकम्पा कर क्षमा किया, ये पढ़ रहा था। शोध करते-करते, अमरीका के विषय में आदिल शहरयार का नाम पढ़ा। आदिल के नाम के साथ लिखा था - भारत के प्रधानमंत्री के करीबी, मोहम्मद यूनुस का पुत्र। मैं थोड़ा चौंक गया कि ये महानुभाव कौन हैं जिनके पिता भारत के किसी प्रधानमंत्री के करीबी माने जाते हैं और ये अमरीका में कोई ऐसा अपराध कर बैठे हैं, जिसकी सज़ा इतनी कड़ी है कि इन्हे अमरीकी राष्ट्रपति से क्षमा प्राप्त हुई। मैने तारीख जाँची, ११ जून १९८५। तब तो राजीव गाँधी भारत के प्रधानमंत्री थे। मतलब ये आदिल शहरयार के पिता मोहम्मद यूनुस गाँधी परिवार के कोई अत्यंत करीबी व्यक्ति होंगे

स्वाभाविक सी बात है कि मेरी उत्सुकता का ठिकाना नहीं रहा और रात दिन एक करके इंटरनैट के माध्यम से इस विषय पर खोज शुरू की। तो पता चला मोहम्मद यूनुस १९४४ के आसपास से इंदिरा गाँधी के करीबी मित्र रहे, और उनका लड़का, आदिल, और इंदिरा गाँधी के लड़के, राजीव और संजय, बचपन के करीबी मित्र रहे। थोड़ा और आगे बढ़ा तो जाना कि १९८० में आदिल शहरयार पर अमरीका में किसी होटल को बम से उड़ाने का प्रयत्न करने पर पाँच विभिन्न नियमों के तहत आरोप लगे थे, जो साबित होने पर वहाँ के न्यायालय ने उन्हें ३५ बरस तक कारावास में रहने का दण्ड दिया था। अरे बाप रे! आतंकवाद का आरोप? वो भी ऐसे किसी व्यक्ति पर जिसका परिवार भारत के नेहरु-गाँधी परिवार से अत्यंत करीब है, इतना करीब कि संजय गाँधी के विवाह की रस्में तक उनके घर में अदा की गई हों। पैरों तले जमीन खिसक गई।

देखते देखते मालूम हुआ कि अमरीका में आदिल शहरयार हॉलीवुड के दिग्गज कलाकारों में से एक चार्लस्टन हैस्टन के संरक्षण में रह रहे थे। बहुत बड़ी बात है ये। भारत के सबसे शक्तिशाली राजनैतिक परिवार से संबंधों का ऐसा लाभ कि विश्व के सर्वशक्तिमान राष्ट्र अमरीका का अत्यंत मशहूर कलाकार उनका संरक्षण करे। और हैस्टन ने अमरीकी एटॉर्नी जनरल से आदिल की रिहाई की माँग की। कहा ये सारा कुछ गलत हुआ है, इत्यादि। अमरीकी एटॉर्नी जनरल से हैस्टन का ये पत्राचार तीन भागों में आधिकारिक तौर पर उपलब्ध है। और ऐसे मशहूर, सम्मानित कलाकार ने आदिल को छुड़ाने की पुरजोर कोशिश की और उसकी एक नहीं सुनी गई? तो जिज्ञासा जागी कि फिर १९८५ में ऐसा क्या हुआ कि अमरीकी राष्ट्रपति ने आदिल को क्षमा कर दिया? कुछ तो बड़ा हुआ होगा।

दरअसल, ११ जून १९८५ को भारत के तत्कालीन प्रधान मंत्री राजीव गाँधी अमरीका गए, और न्यू यॉर्क टाइम्स तथा अन्य समाचार पत्रिकाओं के आधार पर पता चला कि इस उपलक्ष पर अमरीकी राष्ट्रपति ने, बिना कुछ अपने देशवासियों को समझाए आदिल शहरयार को क्षमा कर मुक्त कर दिया

 
Warren Anderson
इस घटना से सात माह पूर्व, ८ दिसंबर १९८४ को, राजीव गाँधी ने भोपाल गैस काण्ड में गिरफ्तार हुए वारन ऐण्डरसन को भी ऐसे ही, अपने देशवासियों को बिना कुछ समझाए, नियमों को ताक पर रख, रिहा करके, भारत से भगा दिया था।

फिर २०१० में ही समाचार पत्रिकाओं के हवाले से ज्ञात हुआ कि अमरीका की कुख्यात खुफिया संस्था सीआईए ने एक अधूरे दस्तावेज़ को जनता के समक्ष रखा है जिसमें भोपाल गैस काण्ड आरोपी वारन ऐण्डरसन की रिहाई की दास्तान लिखी गई। ये एक खुफिया संदेश था जो कुछ दशकों बाद सूचना अधिकार के अंतर्गत जनता के समक्ष रख दिया गया।

इस दस्तावेज़ में अधिकांश भाग पर काली स्याही है, पर इतना कहा गया है कि ऐण्डरसन को राजीव गाँधी नें छोड़ा। और उनका मानना था कि भारत में चुनाव आने की वजह से ऐण्डरसन और भोपाल गैस काण्ड के मुद्दे पर राजनैतिक गर्मी बन सकती थी।
 

नतीजा ये कि ऐण्डरसन भारतीय कानून के शिकंजे से हमेशा के लिए छूट गया। भोपाल गैस काण्ड में हुईं मृत्युओं को न्याय न मिल सका। ३१ बरस पूरे होने वाले हैं, पीढ़ियाँ बदल चुकी हैं पर न्याय नहीं मिला। आज न ऐण्डरसन जीवित है, न राजीव गाँधी, न आदिल शहरयार, न मोहम्मद यूनुस, न मध्यप्रदेश के तत्कालीन मुख्यमंत्री अर्जन सिंह, न चार्लस्टन हैस्टन, न अमरीकी ऐटॉर्नी जनरल विलियम स्मिथ और न ही अमरीकी राष्ट्रपति रोनाल्ड रीगन। अब न्याय की कोई गुँजाइश नहीं


जरा ध्यान से देखें तो पाएँगे कि ये बड़ा विचित्र संजोग है। अवश्य ही राजीव गाँधी के अमरीका आने की खुशी १९८५ में इतनी नहीं हो सकती कि उनके राष्ट्र में आतंक के मामले में गिरफ्तार व्यक्ति को क्षमा करके मुक्त कर दें। जिस व्यक्ति के विषय में वहाँ के एटॉर्नी जनरल ने हैस्टन की एक न चलने दी, और उसे न छोड़ने के साफ कारण बताए, उसे दो राष्ट्रों के बीच किसी महत्व के आदान-प्रदान के आधार पर ही कारागार से बाहर निकाला जा सकता था

अगर कोई सुराग बचे हैं तो वो हैं
१. अमरीकी खुफिया विभाग का वह खुफिया वर्णन जिसमें राजीव गाँधी का हाथ होने की बात कही है।
२. अमरीकी एटॉर्नी जनरल से चार्लस्टन हैस्टन का पत्राचार।

३. न्यु यॉर्क टाइम्स जैसे सामाचार पत्रों में छपी खबर कि राजीव गाँधी के अमरीका दौरे के अवसर पर अमरीकी राष्ट्रपति ने आदिल शहरयार को क्षमा करके रिहा किया।



A mother and a child victim of Bhopal Gas Leak
आप से निवेदन है कि आप ये दो कार्य करवाएँ-

१. आप शीघ्रातिशीघ्र अमरीका से इस दस्तावेज का बाकि बचा हिस्सा भारत सरकार को सौंपने की बात रखें

२. आप हैस्टन-एटॉर्नी जनरल पत्राचार और समाचार पत्रों में छपी खबर को आधार बनाकर यह भी पूछें कि क्या ऐण्डरसन को रिहा करने के बदले आदिल शहरयार को अमरीका ने रिहा किया।

आपसे यह भी निवेदन है कि अमरीका भारत की इन माँगों को संवेदनशील तरीके से देखे, मानवाधिकार का सम्मान करे, न्याय न मिल सकने के कारण कम से कम संबंधियों को यह तो बताए कि घटना के पीछे का सत्य क्या था
अगर आपको कोई भी दस्तावेज़ चाहिए हो तो मुझे बताएँ, पाँच मिनट में पहुँचा दूँगा।

आप उन्हें बलपूर्वक यह भी आग्रह करें कि यह सारी जानकारी, अमरीका भारत को
दिसंबर २०१५ तक दे दे। यह आश्वासन भी ज़रूरी है कि इससे भारत-अमरीका के रिश्तों पर कोई आँच नहीं आएगी, बल्कि एक मानवाधिकार के आधार पर नई नज़दीकी ही बनेगी।

आप पर बहुत विश्वास है।

सादर,

पियूष कुलश्रेष्ठ
(@thinkerspad)