Port Blair, April 26: Upon receiving endless complaints over the years from the residents of Prothrapur & nearby areas regarding poor air quality in and around Stone Crushing Units (SCU), the A&N Administration in its Gazette Notification No. 257 dated 23rd November 2012 had issued specific guidelines for sitting of such crushing units. The well prepared and well thought guidelines had come as a sigh of relief to the residents, many of who have been suffering from bleeding nose, suffocation and few lost their dear ones.  

The Gazette mentions, “Whereas, despite measures taken to prevent air pollution and to improve the Ambient Air Quality (AAQ) in and around the Stone Crushing Units, there have been complaints from residents in some areas against poor air quality to fugitive dust released from these units located in their areas.

“Whereas, in order to prevent pollution from Stone Crushing Units on a long term basis, the Andaman and Nicobar Administration has framed sitting criteria for establishment of stone crushers units in Andaman and Nicobar Islands which was published in the Gazette vide Notification No. 350 dated 14th November 2011 inviting suggestions and objections for laid down specific sitting guidelines/ criteria for stone crusher units in these islands.

“And, Whereas, all objections and suggestions received have been duly considered by the UT Administration.”

With a view to protect and improve the quality of environment and to prevent, control and abate environmental pollution in the Union Territory of A&N Islands, the Administrator (Lt. Governor) of Andaman & Nicobar Islands had thus laid down specific sitting guidelines/ criteria for Stone Crusher Units.

As per the guidelines the distance of SCU in case of ATR should be beyond a distance of 100 mtrs (to be measured from midpoint of the road). For Rural Roads (other than ATR) the units should be installed beyond a minimum distance of 50 mtrs.

The distance of SCU from the residential area as mentioned in the guidelines should be 100 mtrs. The units should be installed in commercial area/ leased plot and the minimum distance from the schools and health institution should be 500 mtrs (measured from the outermost boundary of the school/ health institution premises.

The guidelines also clears that a minimum distance of the Units from any water body should be 200 mtrs and no SCU should be set up in notified catchment area. Moreover the commercial area required for installation of Roller Crushing Unit should be 200 mtrs in South Andaman and 500 mtrs for other districts. In case of SCU having conveyor system, minimum area required for the SCU should be 1000 Sqm. for all districts.

The SCUs should have proper vegetation/ greenery in the surrounding so as to arrest the dust released from the units and should have a compound wall or barrier of GI Sheets of a height of atleast 3 mtrs all along the plot periphery towards road side and residential area.

Review Meeting on 25.02.2013: After having notified the Gazette No. 257 dated 23rd Nov. 2012, in a surprise move, the same Andaman & Nicobar Administration three months down the line held another meeting to review its own Gazette. The meeting was held in the Chamber of the Chief Secretary, A&N Administration on 25th Feb. 2013 in which drastic changes was made by the Administration, making a mockery of its own Gazette ‘To Improve Ambient Air Quality’.

It was decided in the meeting to have a uniform minimum distance of 50 mtrs between the road and the SCUs instead of two different norms of ATR and non ATR. The distance of SCUs from Schools/ Health Institutions was reduced from 500 mtrs to 300 mtrs to avoid pollution effects on the institutions.

For installing SCUs with conveyor system, it was decided to have 500 mtrs of commercial land instead of the notified 1000 mtrs as minimum area in all Districts, the reason given is paucity of revenue land.

The meeting also noted that the committee is having difficulty to recommend land status report of SCUs for want of definition of water bodies and it was decided that the term ‘water body’ shall refer to water sources used for drinking purpose / supply of potable water only.

There were suggestions given by the All India Forward Block, State Committee, A&N Islands to increase distances of SCUs and to incorporate guidelines for setting up of Hot Mix Plants in line with the guidelines framed by Punjab Government. But the meeting decided that the suggestion cannot be accepted considering the unique topography of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and other associated factors.

With the amendments suggested by the Review Committee, the residents who have been practically dealing with the menace of air pollution, now fear that their prayer to improve ambient air quality would be brushed aside. It is also thought the drastic modification suggested by the committee is due to high level pressure, which leads to compromising with public health.  

A shocking report detailing horrific atrocities committed against Brazilian Indians in the 1940s, 50s and 60s has resurfaced – 45 years after it was mysteriously ‘destroyed’ in a fire.

The Figueiredo report was commissioned by the Minister of the Interior in 1967 and caused an international outcry after it revealed crimes against Brazil’s indigenous population at the hands of powerful landowners and the government’s own Indian Protection Service (SPI). The report led to the foundation of tribal rights organization Survival International two years later.

The 7,000-page document, compiled by public prosecutor Jader de Figueiredo Correia, detailed mass murder, torture, enslavement, bacteriological warfare, sexual abuse, land theft and neglect waged against Brazil’s indigenous population. Some tribes were completely wiped out as a result and many more were decimated.

The report was recently rediscovered in Brazil’s Museum of the Indian and will now be considered by Brazil’s National Truth Commission, which is investigating human rights violations which occurred between 1947 and 1988.

One of the many gruesome examples in the report describes the ‘massacre of the 11th parallel’, in which dynamite was thrown from a small plane onto the village of ‘Cinta Larga’ Indians below. Thirty Indians were killed – just two survived to tell the tale.

Other examples include the poisoning of hundreds of Indians with sugar laced with arsenic, and severe methods of torture such as slowly crushing the victims’ ankles with an instrument known as the ‘trunk’.

Figueiredo’s findings led to an international outcry. In a 1969 article ‘Genocide’ in the British Sunday Times based on the report, writer Norman Lewis wrote, ‘From fire and sword to arsenic and bullets – civilisation has sent six million Indians to extinction.’ The article moved a small group of concerned citizens to set up Survival International the same year.

 As a result of the report, Brazil launched a judicial enquiry, and 134 officials were charged with over 1,000 crimes. Thirty-eight officials were dismissed, but no-one was ever jailed for the atrocities.

The SPI was subsequently disbanded and replaced by FUNAI, Brazil’s National Indian Foundation. But while large swathes of Indian land have since been demarcated and protected, Brazil’s tribes continue to battle the invasion and destruction of their lands by illegal loggers, ranchers and settlers and the loss of land from the government’s aggressive growth program which aims to construct dozens of large hydroelectric dams and open up large-scale mining in their territories.

Port Blair, April 24: In a fire accident that took place last night at Wimberlygunj, South Andaman, four shops in a building were completely gutted, causing heavy loss which is estimated to be around Rs. 20 Lakhs. The reason for the fire is learnt to be electric short circuit.

The accident took place at around 11.30 pm in a building owned by Shri P.K. Mohammed Siddique and a call was made to the Fire Control Room at 11.36 pm. Reacting to the call, one water Tender from Fire Station, Bambooflat was immediately rushed to the accident site. Meanwhile a private water tanker belonging to MMR Company also offered help by supplying water to Fire Station, Bambooflat. Another Water Tender from Fire Station, Ferrargunj also reached the spot to support the fire fighting.

According to sources, the Fire was brought under control by 1.00 am and it was fully controlled by 2.45 am. In the accident four shops which includes one vegetable shop, one stationery shop, a cool bar and a tea & snacks stall were completely gutted. An LPG Gas Cylinder also blasted on the spot but fortunately no injuries to any person was reported.

It is estimated that the loss due to the fire is around Rs. 20 Lakhs while property worth Rs. 30 Lakhs could be saved including the house of the owner and an ATM. The names of the shop owners whose shops were gutted are: Shri Bitish Baroi, Shri Anukul Das, Shri Tanaveer Basheer and Smti R. Laxmi.

Meanwhile, the PCC President today has requested the Lt Governor for immediate financial compensation to the victims of fire accident at Wimberlygunj. Sharma has stated that the four shops belonged to people of lower income group.