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India top court orders eviction of over 1 million forest dwellers | News

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India‘s Supreme Court has ordered the eviction of more than one million forest dwellers, a majority of whom belong to indigenous tribal communities, after the federal government failed to defend a law aimed at protecting their rights.

The top court’s order, dated February 13 and delivered in written form on Wednesday, was in response to a petition against the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006, filed by some environmental groups and retired forest officers who said the law impeded conservation efforts.

Under the landmark Forest Rights Act, at least 150 million people could have had their rights recognised to about 40 million hectares of forest land.

The Supreme Court has asked officials in 16 states to submit details of rights claims settled, and “in the cases where claims have been rejected … to ensure that eviction is made on or before the next date of hearing” on July 24.

The order is a major blow to the struggle of tribals and forest dwellers for justice

Campaign for Survival and Dignity

The order “is a major blow to the struggle of tribals and forest dwellers for justice”, advocacy group Campaign for Survival and Dignity said in a statement.

“Another historic injustice is about to be committed against tribals and other forest dwellers,” said Shankar Gopalakrishnan, president of the group.

India has more than 100 million indigenous people, who are also known as Adivasis, or original inhabitants.

The court’s order could affect claims of indigenous people in the remaining states and lead to more evictions, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Land for mining and industry

Campaigners say many states had rejected recognition of community forest rights on flimsy grounds as demand increased for land for mining and industry.

The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, over the last five years, introduced laws that activists say diluted earlier legislation meant to protect the rights of farmers and indigenous people over land and natural resources.

The Supreme Court order comes in the run-up to the parliamentary elections that must be held by May.

Land rights and forest rights have come to the fore in the recent state elections, and unrest among farmers and villagers who make up a big voting bloc, could hurt Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), analysts say.

Opposition leaders had earlier written to the tribal affairs minister, saying they were “dismayed at the utterly indifferent and callous attitude” of the federal government in relation to the FRA case.

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the opposition Congress party which had enacted the FRA, had earlier criticised the government for being “a silent spectator” in the top court.

“It is showing its intention of driving out hundreds of thousands of tribals and poor farmers from the forests,” Gandhi had tweeted last week.


SOURCE:
Reuters news agency

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25 Best Senators’ Memories From 25 Years at Canadian Tire Centre

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There is a special birthday in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata this weekend.

Canadian Tire Centre turns 25. Its doors first opened on Jan. 15, 1996, for a Bryan Adams concert. The Senators played their first game in their new arena on Jan. 17, 1996, when they lost to the visiting Montreal Canadiens.

I’ve spent a great deal of my life has at that arena. I don’t know how many Sens games I have been to there — I would ballpark it somewhere between 600 and 700. But I thought it would be fun to look back and share my 25 most memorable moments at the arena. I am not counting numerous concerts as great moments in the building — I often joke that the four best concerts I have ever seen there are Garth Brooks, Garth Brooks, Garth Brooks and Garth Brooks. I am not counting the 2009 World Juniors either. I am sticking entirely to the Sens.

25. Paul MacClone

Mike Watson was just sitting in his company seats, minding his own business, watching the Ottawa Senators take on the Florida Panthers on a January night during the 2012-13 season. The casual discussion among reporters after the game was how he broke Twitter.

Watson’s friends had told him that he looked like then-Senators’ head coach Paul MacLean. When he got face time on the new high-definition scoreboard, in the front row and directly behind the coach, the crowd buzzed and cheered.

Senators coach Paul MacLean had a doppelganger behind the bench.

The shot of Watson behind the bench spread quickly on social media. Surely, everyone thought, he must have been planted in that seat. He wasn’t. The last time he had sat in those seats, Cory Clouston was the coach, and no one noticed him.

As the season went on, the MacLean doppelganger became a local celebrity and was somewhat of a mascot during Ottawa’s playoff run.

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With spare parts and derring-do, Ottawa’s own Rocketman reinvents skating

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An Ottawa man is turning heads on frozen stretches of the Ottawa River with a homemade device he jokingly refers to as his “jetpack.”

In reality, Brydon Gibson’s gas-powered, propeller-driven invention is more Rona than NASA.

“I got my hands on some weed whacker motors and I figured strapping one on my back and making skating a little bit lazier would [be] a good idea,” said Gibson, 24.

He bolted a 38-centimetre propeller to a wooden frame, fashioned a throttle out of a brake handle and cable salvaged from a 10-speed bike, then added padded straps cut from a dollar store backpack. He laced up his skates, and suddenly Gibson was zipping along at speeds reaching 40 km/h. 

“I was actually getting a little scared at one point because I was going a little too fast,” the inventor admitted.

There are no brakes, but there is kill switch to cut the power “when something goes wrong,” said Gibson. “It’s actually a little finicky.”

This is not the first iteration of Gibson’s invention. As a teen, he built an electric propulsion device in his parents’ basement, though it never got to the testing phase.

“Ever since I was a kid … I’ve been taking apart things I found on the side of the road, making a mess of my parents basement, spreading electronics everywhere,” he said.

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‘It is frustrating’: U.S-educated nurse from Ottawa hits barriers to getting licensed in Ontario

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Before she accepted a swimming scholarship to attend Boston’s Northeastern University, Ottawa’s Rachael Geiger made sure it had the kind of nursing program she wanted. The school’s baccalaureate nursing program offered a fifth year of co-operative placement after four years of study — something Geiger thought would leave her well prepared for a career as a nurse when she returned home after university.

But it hasn’t worked out that way.

Two and a half years after graduating summa cum laude from Northeastern, the 25-year-old is unable to work as a registered nurse in Ontario.

Geiger said she was initially surprised, especially since she wrote the same licensing exam in Massachusetts as is written in Ontario, the NCLEX-RN exam. She is licensed to practise in Massachusetts and Illinois.

“I never thought it would be such a challenge.”

She and her family are frustrated at how difficult it has been for her to get registered to be able to practise in Ontario. That frustration is heightened by the fact that nurses have seldom been in such high demand in Canada and around the world as the COVID-19 pandemic strains health systems and shortages loom. Local hospitals are among those trying to recruit nurses. The Canadian Nurses Association has been warning that Canada will experience extreme shortages in coming years.

“It is frustrating to sit and see all the news about nursing shortages and not be able to help,” said Geiger.

Doris Grinspun, chief executive officer of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, the professional association that represents registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in the province, said she was “more than surprised” to hear of the difficulty Geiger has had.

But Grinspun, who initially studied nursing in Israel and then the U.S. before becoming one of the country’s nursing leaders, said the system of allowing foreign trained nurses to work in Ontario is unnecessarily slow and complicated and leads many valuable nurses to simply give up or find another career. Grinspun herself challenged the system when she first came to work in Ontario.

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