News Wrap


Tribals in Dhamtari district of India’s Chattisgarh state,  have dug and carved out a road through the Lohareen Konha ‘Pahad’ (hill), by themselves with their own hands. The road cutting through the hill and jungles, saves walking 20 km. The hill separated the Gond Tribal villages of Murumsilli, Nathukona, Raipara, Harrakothi and Saiphangpara in Dhamtari district. The lack of a road was common complaint submitted to local officials. Before the unmetalled, brand new path, people had walk at least two hours circumventing the hill to reach farms on the other side of the hill, or to enter forests to pick up forest produce, or to call for medical emergency. Around mid-2015, villagers of Nathukona and Saiphangpara decided to carve out a road on their own, reducing distance to 5 km. The road was built with the hands of the villagers. The district collector aided through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Close to a hundred people have been working on the road earning Rs 167 a day, since April 2016. The budget for the road has been fixed at Rs 9.90 lac, with 270 metres laid so far. The portion through the Lohareen Konha ‘pahad’ is 165 metres long, and 6.4 metres wide. There is a plan to build Murumsilli’s model, for the rest of the country. Grey rocks that dot the hill were first removed, with tree logs, and rolled down.

Similar to most community activities, men, women and children were involved in the road building. Earth was moved with spades, pick axes and baskets. Efforts were similar to Dashrath Manjhi, who cut through a mountain in Bihar, to build a road in homage to his wife. Ever since the first signs of a path began showing, road traffic has commenced, particularly motor cycles. Everyday, cycles, motor cycles and occasionally jeeps make their way. There is only one high school in Narharpur, where the children are now going. Many travel to Murmusilli dam, a tourist spot, for selling small items. Travel to the hospital in Dhamtari, or to a big market, is a lot easier, for Gond tribals.

Marijuana profits in California
Profit in the Marijuana business in California (USA) was forbidden since 1996, when California became the first US state to legalise medical cannabis. Under a new state law, Marijuana businesses will be allowed to turn a profit, and limits on the number of plants farmers can grow will be eliminated. Now there is a mad scramble, with out-of-state investors, cannabis retailers and financially struggling municipalities to grab the new industry of legalised, large-scale Marijuana farming. Recreational Marijuana use is expected to be approved in November 2016. California is already the world’s largest legal market for Marijuana. In search of a tax windfall, cities across the Southern California desert, like Adelanto and Desert Hot Springs have raced to be first to permit commercial Marijuana cultivation. There is anxiety that corporate money will squeeze out the small-time growers, and also the hippie values of California’s Marijuana culture. There are efforts to pull Marijuana out of the black market. Medical Marijuana sales hit $2.7 million in 2015, accounting for nearly half of the legal Marijuana sales in USA.

South Sudan and Rape
According to UN report, the South Sudanese government has allowed its soldiers and allied militias to rape women in lieu of wages, to torture and murder suspected opponents, and to deliberately displace as many people as possible in the country’s civil war. Now over a year, accounts have emerged revealing the systematic abduction and abuse of thousands of women and girls during the conflict engulfing the world’s youngest nation. Since the war broke out in December 2013, many of the atrocities committed by both sides, may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity. Most of the civilian casualties were the result of deliberately targeted attacks, rather than combat operations. From April to September 2015, more than 1300 reports of rape in Unity State alone came to notice. The state is an oil rich area in the North, that has seen some of the worst violence. In 2014, opposition forces harried towns in the state, turning churches, mosques and hospitals into veritable traps for civilians. The prevalence of rape suggests it had become an acceptable practice by government troops in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and affiliated armed militias. South Sudan has been consumed by conflict since December 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused his former Vice-President Riek Machar, of plotting a coup. The fighting quickly tore the country apart along sectarian lines, pitting supporters of Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, against those backing Machar, an ethnic Nuer. The war has killed at least 50,000 people and displaced a further 2.2 million, as well as pushing parts of South Sudan to the brink of famine.

Vol. 49, No.4, Jul 31 - Aug 6, 2016