A fire broke out after a blast in an illegal chemical factory called Sahil Enterprise on Pirana-Piplaj Road Ahmedabad. Around 24 fire tenders were rushed to the spot. The blast affected nine surrounding godowns. While the roofs of 3-4 godowns, including the textile godown, collapsed. As many as 25 people were trapped in these nine godowns, out of which 12 died, including 6 men and 5 women.
Rescue operations are currently being carried out by the fire team. Attempts are being made by 24 teams of fire brigade to contain the fire. Currently injured are under treatment at the L G Hospital. An NDRF team has arrived to carry out the rescue operation. The team is rescuing with state-of-the-art equipment.
Expressing grief over the loss of lives in the fire incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Anguished by the loss of lives due to a fire in a godown in Ahmedabad. Condolences to the bereaved families. Prayers with the injured. Authorities are providing all possible assistance to the affected.”
Chief Minister Vijaybhai Rupani announced an assistance of Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of those who lost their lives in this tragedy. He also asked the two senior officers to investigate the incident.
The local administration was lax over the tragedy. After PM Modi’s tweet, the system got active. Mayor Bijal Patel also got active after the PM’s tweet. Despite the deaths of nine people earlier, the Mayor didn’t even return to the L.G. hospital or the spot.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has expressed his condolences on the deaths. The State Government has appointed Vipul Mitra, Additional Chief Secretary, Labor and Employment and Sanjeev Kumar, Chairman, GPCB to investigate the fire accident.
According to the details, a fire broke out in the chemical factory of Nanubhai Estate after the blast. The blast affected nine nearby godowns and knocked down the roofs of three to four godowns. It has been found that the godown belongs to Batabhai Bharwad. He had rented it out. Police have also questioned the owner of the chemical godown.
A textile factory was adjacent to it where some people were doing packing work. The fire in the adjacent chemical factory engulfed the textile factory and the fire spread to the textile factory. The fire was caused by the cloth and people were severely burnt.
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BE THE VOICE OF THE VOICELESS
Article 51-A (g) says that citizens must be compassionate towards all living creatures. Also, there are several wildlife protection Acts. Yet, we have betrayed our moral failure towards voiceless animals.
India, being the land of sages, has always believed in ahimsa and equality for all living beings. The Constitution of India itself lays down in Article 51-A (g) that Indian citizens must be compassionate towards all living creatures. In the furtherance of it, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 was enacted along with Wildlife (Protection) (WP) Act. However, in the past few years, we, as humans, have betrayed our moral failure towards voiceless animals. The testament to this is the growing reports of animals being subjected to sexual abuse, being burnt alive, acid and pebble attacks, thrown off from the rooftop, lit crackers on their tails, and even cutting them down in marble cutter, the list is endless and horrendous. How have we stooped down so low that we are finding our entertainment in torturing voiceless beings?
PREVENTION OF ANIMAL CRUELTY
The Constitution imposes a fundamental duty on us to safeguard the wildlife and have compassion for all living creatures as a result of which the PCA Act was laid down as a measure to give rights of freedom and living to animals. The act was made in 1960 shows how little has been done since then. Unfortunately, in our country, the discussion related to animal rights revolves around political arcades, primarily cow slaughter or beef ban and protection for endangered species. Many animal lovers have been helping by rescuing and providing shelter homes, medication, and food to the tiny beings but for a collective measure, a well-executed law has to be made to safeguard the interest of animals.
The PCA Act in Section 11 defines cruelty and lists a series of offences and prescribes punishment for the same. However, the act lacks basic connotation with today’s time and needs strict amendments. Disturbingly, the punishment for treating animals cruelly is punishable with a fine of Rs 10 that may extend to Rs 50 on first conviction. On subsequent conviction within three years of a previous offence, it is punishable with a fine of Rs 25 that may extend to Rs 100 or imprisonment of three months or with both. Performing operations like Phooka or any other operations to improve lactation which is injurious to the health of the animal is punishable with a fine of Rs 1,000 or imprisonment up to two years or both and experimentation on animals is punishable with a fine up to Rs 200.
The WP Act too provides lists of species of both flora and fauna which need to the protected from increasing commercialisation of animal goods in form of trading of endangered species, uses of their skin for beauty products, selling off their horns in the black market and further being used in medical by-products. The law brings all these malpractices under its supervision. The act also controls the hunting of wild animals, protection of national parks and sanctuaries, restrict the illegal trade of wild animals, and articles. Section 39 specifies that any wild hunted animal found, killed, fed, alive, or dead shall be the property of the state government. Likewise, Section 9 of the act prohibits the hunting of wild birds.
Our legislative provisions and judicial pronouncements make an effective case for animal rights. But since no rights and laws can be absolute, regulation of animal rights is a must. Therefore, time and again judicial pronouncements have become voices of the animals and their rights.
In 2014, Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in decisions banning the bull-taming festival ‘Jallikattu’ can be described as a watershed moment in terms of animal rights. It not only recognised that animals have a constitutional right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution as well as the right to dignity and fair treatment.
In a landmark judgement of Punjab and Haryana High Court, it was observed that “entire animal kingdom including avian and aquatic are declared as legal entities having a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person”, touching the matter of animal rights in the purview of Fundamental Rights.
The latest judgment by Delhi High Court states that stray dogs have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed them. The Court observed that “we have to show compassion towards all living creatures. Animals may be mute but we as a society have to speak on their behalf. No pain or agony should be caused to the animals. Cruelty to animals causes psychological pain to them. Animals breathe like us and have emotions. The animals require food, water, shelter, normal behaviour, medical care, self-determination.”
In 2006, the Bombay High Court passed an important ruling, wherein any film meant for public viewing in which animal is used or filmed, has to obtain a certificate from the Animal Welfare Board of India. It safeguards animals from being exploited or ill-treated during filmmaking.
In 2014, Supreme Court banned the illegal transport of cattle to Nepal for the Gadhimai festival that played a crucial role in bringing down the number of animals sacrificed that year.
The Central government has already initiated the process of amendment of the PCA Act and other viable alternatives are being made for safeguarding the interest of animals at large. Some of the observations are as under:
In the present scenario of Covid-19, when every country is researching making successful medication and vaccines to end this pandemic, millions of mice, cats, dogs, rabbits etc are the ones on whom the trial is being done. This kind of horrible environment exposes animal cruelty. Through the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (Second Amendment) 2014, animal testing for cosmetic products was prohibited all over India. But this subject needs more attention in today’s time. The present legislation in India needs to be modified by making more stringent laws.
Over the years illegal trafficking and poaching of animals across the borders have led to overexploitation of certain species to the point that their survival has become difficult and caused further cruelty to them. Wildlife resources must be managed sustainably and conserved by the law. For which the Indian Penal Code, 1860, under sections 428 and 429 constitutes that killing, poaching or torturing animals is a cognisable offence and is required immediate FIR and rigorous imprisonment which may extend to up to five years or fine or both.
There should be finer and stricter rules implemented for the transportation of livestock in India. The amended motor vehicle rule is one such step in this direction which provides that vehicles without special licenses for such transportation should not be ply on roads and a healthy and safe environment should be provided to these animals. The excessive overloading of animals, permanent partition for transportation of individual animals, health checks up can be some of the additions.
Shelter homes are the need of the hour. An animal that has been mistreated needs support and sometimes immediate for which there should be shelter homes with viable facilities. There should be proper checks and regulations with timely inspection of these shelter homes.
There should be 24/7 medical centres for animals, especially domesticated pets.
The PETA India suggested some regulations mandating the use of anaesthetics before castration and replacement of cruel practices.
The PCA Act needs refined and stern punishment. The drafted bill has increased the fine three times the cost of animals or Rs 75,000 with the imprisonment of three years that may extend to five or both, has been proposed.
Steps should be taken for the protection of ‘’dignity of the creature’’ like the law laid down in Switzerland which deemed activities degrading to the dignity of animals forbidden by law.
In many cases reported in India, the barking of dogs has been a cause of beating them and often owners try to stop dogs from barking. This should be considered illegal and pet owners should learn how to take care of their pets.
Registration of pets has become a mandate across the country. This is a huge step for making society pet friendly. Effective implementation of registration should be done and non–compliance to register should be met with dire consequences. People too should be responsible and help the government in this.
As per WP Act, there are some wild and endangered animals not just lions and tigers but a lot of exotic animals are banned to pet or keep domesticated. The reason for this is that these animals enjoy their natural habitats and can’t survive or properly nurture at our homes. We should not play down with the rule of the land and also report such incidents to the authorities at the earliest.
The issue of animal rights revolves around the question of whether animals should be given the same protections as humans. They should be treated with the utmost respect, care, and love. Animals should not be considered helpless and voiceless beings. In a society, where we all talk about how to be civilised, we buffoon the idea that animals are meant to be caged. There are a lot of things we can do to protect animals. You don’t have to own a pet to help in the cause. Let’s all be the voice they wish they had, and make the choice they wish they could. Stop animal cruelty.
The writer is an Advocate at Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh. The views expressed are personal.
CM supports Anil Vij after he accuses officials of obstructing dept works
Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij, who also holds the portfolio of Education Ministry, seems to be in an angry mood. Vij has stated that he has come to know that some officers are obstructing his departmental works to please Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. CM Khattar has spoken in favour of Vij. He said, “As if I and CM are against each other. They are very badly mistaken for me. Me and the Chief Minister are good friends. Officers playing this dirty game will have to suffer heavily for this.” Before this, Vij had been engaged in a long drawl tussle with the CM Khattar, DGP Manoj Yadava along with some other officials about many issues.
The information issued officially by Vij indicated that few of the officials of the state continue to annoy him which made him utter the above. Thus, he directed the officials not to be negligent about departmental projects and in case they are found doing so, undoubtedly would be subject to stern action.
It is learnt that Vij and home secretary Rajiv Arora are eyeball to eyeball following a recent incident which is being considered the reason for his anger. It is pertinent to mention Arora was reported giving a statement in media about the Corona Task Force without putting the same in Vij’s notice which led to annoying him. Following the same, when Vij was asked about the issue and in reaction, he said that time he is unable to say anything about the task force as the matter is not in his notice. Thus the whole matter resulted in a clash between these both
Regarding the issue, CM Khattar has taken Vij’s side and openly stated that a stern action would be taken against those officials who are obstructing the works of the department. Therefore, the problems of such officials seem to be increasing. When asked about this, CM Khattar said that does not want to say anything more than what he has already said.
REQUEST CAPT AMARINDER URGES PM TO REOPEN KARTARPUR CORRIDOR
CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor, in view of the improvement in the Covid situation, to facilitate people to visit the historic shrine in Pakistan.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Captain Amarinder said that his government would be happy to work in conjunction with the Government of India to ensure adherence to proper Covid-19 protocols including testing and vaccination of pilgrims using the Kartarpur Corridor. He hoped for a positive consideration by the Prime Minister in this regard.
The Chief Minister pointed out that the movement of devotees to Kartarpur through the Corridor was suspended in March 2020 due to the Covid outbreak. “The Covid-19 situation in Punjab has shown signs of significant improvement in the past month and I am happy to share that yesterday, no Covid-19 related death was reported, after almost an year,” Captain Amarinder wrote. He said that in the changed scenario, the people have again evinced their desire to have darshan at Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.
The Chief Minister further said that “we have been fortunate that the Kartarpur Corridor was opened on the auspicious occasion of the 550th Prakash Purab of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in November 2019.” He added, “It helped fulfil the long-standing demand of “khulle darshan deedar” of the historic Gurudwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, located just across the international border in Pakistan.”
SEBI slaps fine on Raj Kundra-Shilpa Shetty company
SEBI slapped a monetary penalty on Viaan Industries Ltd, Shilpa Shetty Kundra and Ripu Sudan Kundra who is also known as Raj Kundra’s compamy, for disclosure lapses and consequent violation of insider trading norms.
According to a SEBI order, a total fine of Rs 3 lakh has been imposed on them to be paid jointly and severally. Shilpa and Raj are the promoters of Viaan Industries. The order follows a probe conducted between September 2013 to December 2015 to ascertain a violation of prohibition of insider trading norms by the entities.
In October 2015, Viaan Industries made a preferential allotment of Rs 5 lakh equity shares to four persons and 1,28,800 lakh shares each, amounting to Rs 2.57 crore each, were allotted to Raj and Shilpa in the allotment.
POST-POLL VIOLENCE: BENGAL WON’T BE GIVEN ANY MORE TIME AFTER 31 JULY, SAYS HIGH COURT
West Bengal government has asked for more time to read the report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) at the court hearing. But a larger bench of the High Court said that no more time would be given after 31 July. The NHRC alleged that the police is pressuring them to drop the case in many places. The case is set to be heard again on 2 August.
The state had earlier filed an affidavit in the case. It filed an additional affidavit at the hearing of the case on Wednesday. The state government claims that they need more time to read the NHRC report. The state will read the report and submit the affidavit again.
Mahesh Jethmalani, a lawyer for late Abhijit Sarkar, said, “Why is the state asking for extra time? If time is given, the evidence will be lost. Police is trying to cover up. The state has given them the answer. Then why give time?” On the other hand, Priyanka Tibrewal said that there was a need to form a ‘seat’ in this case. A larger bench headed by the Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Jindal said, “The state will be given time till 31 July to file additional affidavits. It will not be given more time.”
Subir Sanyal, the advocate representing NHRC, told the court on the same day, “Even after the report was submitted, many allegations were found. Of these, 17 are allegations that police or local leaders are pressuring them to drop the case.” But the larger bench did not allow that. Additional Solicitor General YJ Dastoor presented the DNA report of the deceased Sarkar to the court on the same day. He was reportedly killed in post-poll violence.
On the other hand, the lawyers have demanded to boycott the sitting of the Acting Chief Justice. They decided to boycott all the cases before the Acting Chief Justice. There were many of these lawyers who are questioning the post-vote violence case. So the question arose as to whether the case would be heard or not.
Lawyer Saptangshu Basu said that he will plead for TMC leaders Partha Bhowmick and Jyotipriya Mallick. However, they wanted the case to be adjourned till Monday.
Public interest litigant Priyanka Tibrewal said, “The people of the state have been suffering from post-election violence for three months. This hearing is very important for them.”
HEAVY RAIN CAUSES HAVOC IN HIMACHAL, 14 KILLED, 387 ROADS CLOSED, SAYS CHIEF SECRETARY ANIL KHACHI
Heavy rain caused havoc in Himachal Pradesh during the past 24 hours, 14 people killed, 387 roads closed, river drains in spate and there is a warning of heavy rain in the next 36 hours as well. In the most affected districts of Himachal Pradesh’s tribal region Lahaul Spiti, heavy rain, flash floods, and cloudburst incidents caused huge destruction. A total of 10 people died due to flash flood and drowning.
A total of 14 people have died in the state during the last 24 hours, and some people are still missing. Heavy rain has caused maximum damage in Udaipur of Lahaul where a sudden flood took dozens of people in its grip. Out of which 10 deaths have been confirmed. Four people have been washed away in Kullu. Anil Khachi, Chief Secretary, Himachal Pradesh Government said that there has been a loss of crores due to rain in the state. 387 roads in the state are closed. Maximum 70 roads are closed in district Kullu. But the national highways have been opened. Water supply has stopped at 175 places. There is power failure in many places as 345 transformers have been affected. During the last 24 hours, 10 houses have completely collapsed in Himachal Pradesh while 31 houses have been damaged.
Khachi further added that there have been landslides, trees fell, houses collapsed, and dozens of vehicles were washed away due to fresh rains in Himachal Pradesh. For the next two days, an orange alert has been issued in the state, while even after that a warning of a yellow alert has been issued by the Meteorological Department.
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