Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Indian arms imports almost triple of China, Pak: Study

Press Trust of India
Paris, 17 March: India remains the biggest buyer of arms in the world, importing nearly three times as many weapons as its nearest competitors China and Pakistan over the last five years, a Swedish think tank said today.
The total volume of arms sales was up 14 per cent in 2009-13 compared to the previous five years, according to the Stockholm international peace research institute (Sipri).
Indian imports of major weapons rose by 111 per cent in the last five years compared to 2004-08. Its share of total global arms imports increased from 7 to 14 per cent, Sipri said.
India replaced China as the world's biggest arms buyer in 2010. With its domestic defence industry struggling to manufacture high-tech arms, India is in the midst of a defence spending binge as it struggles to keep up with better-equipped Chinese forces and a range of military challenges in its volatile neighbourhood.
The main supplier of arms to India in 2009-13 was Russia, accounting for 75 per cent of all imports, reflecting India's need to upgrade and modernise weapons systems dating back to their close relationship during the cold war.
India has lately sought to diversify its sources, looking particularly to the United States of America.
Figures from IHS Jane's released in February showed that India became the biggest buyer of US weapons last year, with total imports worth USD 1.9 billion, and a string of large-scale purchases including Boeing's C-17A transport aircraft and P-8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
In 2009-13, however, the USA still accounted for only 7 per cent of India's purchases according to Sipri.
India's traditional rival Pakistan increased its weapons acquisitions by 119 per cent, growing from 2 per cent of the global total to 5 per cent during that period.
The five largest arms suppliers worldwide between 2009 and 2013 were the United States of America (29 per cent of global exports), Russia (27 per cent), Germany (7 per cent), China (6 per cent) and France (5 per cent).
They collectively accounted for 74 per cent of total arms exports, Sipri said.
The world's top five arms importers were now India, China, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
“Chinese, Russian and US arms supplies to South Asia are driven by both economic and political considerations,” said Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher with the Sipri arms transfers programme.
“In particular, China and the USA appear to be using arms deliveries to Asia to strengthen their influence in the region,” Mr Wezeman said.
Arms exports to Africa between 2004-08 and 2009-13 jumped 53 per cent. The three largest importers in the region were Algeria, Morocco and Sudan.
Imports by European nations decreased by 25 per cent between 2004-2008 and 2009-13.
Britain was the largest importer of major weapons in Europe (receiving 12 per cent of deliveries), followed by Azerbaijan (12 per cent) and Greece (11 per cent).

The Stateasman

New committee formed by tribals’ organisations to thwart project

Anindita Chowdhury
Hyderabad, 17 March
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi may be trying to reach out to the tribal population across the country but his government’s commitment to build Polavaram dam has antagonised the Konda Reddi tribe settled in the submergence zone of the proposed project in Khammam district.
 A new committee has been formed recently by the various tribal organisations and the people’s group to launch fresh agitation against the Polavaram project, aimed at providing irrigation to areas in Seemandhra but the submergence zone lies in Telangana that has prompted the Centre to propose an Ordinance to transfer seven mandals in Khammam to the residue state for smooth rehabilitation. 
The Centre in order to pacify the people of coastal Andhra and Rayalseema post bifurcation promised the Rs 20,000 crore Polavaram multipurpose project at the cost of this vulnerable tribe.
 Mr Murla Ramesh Reddy of the Adivasi Konda Reddi Sangham pointed out that since neither the Konda Reddis nor any other tribal population have any pattas or title deeds they will not benefit from the rehabilitation package under the new land acquisition policy. 
The Konda Reddi tribe is spread sparsely in Chinturu, VR Pura, Kunavaram, Veleru Padu hills and Ashvraopeta and Dammapeta plains of Khammam district.
The new committee has threatened to launch serious agitation against the move to displace the Kondareddi tribe which is “now rated as second in terms of facing risk of extinction”. 
According to Mr Reddy there would be certain and total disappearance of the tribe in case of large-scale inundation that would occur due to the construction of Polavaram Dam.  He warned that the tribal population settled in the uphill area in the thick of forests, practising Podu cultivation would henceforth be the subject of museums and archaeological studies once Polavaram gets built. The dam which is expected to submerge 276 villages in Andhra Pradesh alone will also impact the tribal population in Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
They are not even ready to accept a change in the design which has been proposed by engineers who fear that present design would lead to an environmental disaster. Three barrages would replace the huge dam in the alternative design, described as unsuitable by the Centre. 
“Whatever happens, the Konda Reddis will be the first ones to be affected by the Polavaram Dam, even if there is a change in design,” said Mr Murla Ramesh Reddy. 
He says the proposed dam will only be beneficial to the contractors and the multinationals who will gain entry in tribal areas. The claim that the dam irrigating 6 lakh acres is a myth because the areas are already under irrigation, it was added.
 Some rights group argue that transferring of the mandals without the nod of Gram Sabhas is un-Constitutional. 
“The tribal rights came into being in the Pre-Constitution era during Nizam’s rule following tribal uprisings which were later safeguarded through certain Constitutional clauses. The transfer of the mandals to the residue state is not within the welfare of tribals because submergence cannot benefit a tribal. 
Hence we can say Polavaram goes against the spirit of the Constitution,” says M Sridhar, a Constitutional expert.

The Statesamn

Construction of Greenfield Airport damage houses in nearby villages

Tamanna Tamang

Pakyong, 13 March
The state government’s ambitious Greenfield Airport project at Pakyong in East Sikkim has come under controversy after the construction work started taking its toll on nearby houses.
The construction work that was on in full swing has affected as many as 150 houses in the nearby villages of Naya Busty, Passthang and Karthok. The houses have developed cracks, while some have started to fall apart. And needless to say, the locals there are now living in constant fear.
The wall built for the runway of the airport has caused a portion of land to cave in, due to which many villagers have vacated their houses, while many of them, who have no option at hand, are living in houses that are full of cracks.
Though the villagers say they are all ready to move out of their ancestral land and relocate elsewhere, all the department concerned has given them so far is assurance.
With the monsoon season only a few months away, the villagers are worried what will happen to them when the rains finally start to come down.
The villagers have now started hitting the streets to press for their demands for proper rehabilitation. 
They also halted the construction work since March 6, but the work resumed today, following yet another assurance from the officials concerned.
“We are on the roads to make our demands and problems heard,” a local resident, Bikash Gurung, said. He however, added that the villagers are not against development and are only seeking an alternative.
In a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by Mr Gurung, the Airport Authority of India has admitted that the houses have been damaged due to the airport construction work.
After the locals lodged frequent complaints at the Pakyong subdivision office, a committee was formed to look into the matter and provide compensation to the affected villagers. 
The state tourism department was made the nodal department that would look into the matter, while the compensation part was to be handled by the AAI.
However, the villagers claimed that the department concerned has been reluctant in taking initiatives.
The villagers also said they are not able to cultivate their land due to the huge cracks in the fields, while water sources have dried 
Even the roads have caved in, making it difficult for students to go to school, the locals said.

Source: The Statesman, 14 March 2013

Saturday, March 15, 2014

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