Malicious Reporting on Ishrat Jahan Case #HT


 

To,

The Editor,

Hindustan Times

 

On the day the CBI is set to file its chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case,Hindustan Times has chosen to report about it in a manner that is malicious, prejudicial and intended to manipulate public opinion. The report, “ ‘Ishrat Jahan had links with Kashmir Separatists’: CBI” by Mahesh Langa and Abhishek Sharan in the Delhi/ Ahmedabad edition of the newspaper is nothing short of defamatory. The headline attributes this ‘information’ to the CBI whereas in the text of the report, it is said that two of those killed along with Ishrat “were associated with secessionist groups in Kahsmir”. Clearly, the CBI is not saying that Ishrat had any links with any group. This is a deliberate misrepresentation and a cheap trick to make connections where none exist in order to tarnish the reputation of a deceased girl who is no longer present to defend herself.

We are in possession of the original article written by HT Correspondent Mahesh Langa, which was also carried in the Ahmedabad edition of Hindustan Times as “Ishrat case: What the Chargesheet is Likely to reveal” which does not attempt to make any such a spurious connection.

 

From where then did this headline emerge in the Delhi edition? Why this attempt to taint her with the ‘terror’ tag through false and sensationalist headlines, especially on a day when the battle for justice enters a crucial phase with the CBI expected to file its chargesheet. It can hardly be seen as an innocent oversight given the fact that a concerted campaign to malign Ishrat’s reputation has been central to those trying to obstruct justice and the process of law.

 

The Hindustan Times needs to issue an unconditional apology to the family of Ishrat Jahan, printed in the same large and bold font as the headline of the report today. Such sensationalism violates all codes and ethics of reporting and journalism and is liable to invite action by Press Council and other statutory bodies as well as criminal liability

Vrinda Grover

Lawyer for Shamima Kauser

(Mother of deceased Ishrat Jehan)
Vrinda Grover
Advocate

N14A, Saket
New Delhi 110017
91 9810806181

 

#India – Dr Soonawala rape case in Mumbai shows how elite privilege works #Vaw


http://sunday-guardian.com/administrator/iupload/rape-case-final_1371904787.jpg

Illustration by Megha Roy Talukdar | Dev Kabir Malik Design

Police conduct, elite reaction and the manner in which this story was reported illustrate how hard it is for a poor woman to accuse a privileged man of rape in India, writes Richa Kaul Padte
Richa Kaul Padte  22nd Jun 2013
There are many stories within this story, often manufactured, and almost entirely contradictory. Perhaps then we should begin with the story that has been told the least: the story of a 26 year old woman who was allegedly raped by her general practitioner Dr. Rustom Soonawala on 17 May at 6pm at his clinic in Mumbai. The narrative begins clearly enough: on leaving the clinic, she told her husband what had happened. At 10.30 pm the same day, an FIR under Section 376 – rape – was registered at the Khar Police Station. The following morning, two police constables accompanied the survivor and her husband to Soonawala’s residence at Dadar Parsi Colony, where she identified the doctor as her rapist. Here, however, is where the story begins to splinter.

The constables sent the couple back to Khar, and told Soonawala that he must accompany them to the police station. Choosing to travel in his own car (questions around why an immediate arrest wasn’t made or why an accused rapist is permitted his own transportation remain unanswered), Dr. Soonawala revved up his engine with a police constable in the front seat and another in the back, along with two of his sisters. Here is precisely where all coherent narratives disintegrate, because over an hour later, the police officers returned to the station, saying that Soonawala had absconded. One account says that one officer had to leave the car to let a patient inside, and the other got out to prevent Soonawala from escaping. Another suggests that there was only ever one constable involved, who was lured out of the car on the pretext that everyone was getting out — before the car sped away. Any police account, however, raises several burning questions: why was the licence plate of the car not recorded? (‘We forgot,’ say the police) Why was the control room not telephoned with a description of the car to be halted at the next signal? (‘We didn’t think of it,’ they say).

On 11 June, over two weeks after the FIR had been lodged, the still-absconding doctor and accused rapist was granted anticipatory bail. And the shock-horror-anger following last year’s Delhi gang rape was nowhere to be seen.

Speaking at a public meeting organised by the Aam Aadmi Party on 18 June in Mumbai, Justice Suresh Hospet said, ‘This reminds me of what the first CPI Chief Minister of Kerala said: If in a court of law there is a rich, well-dressed, suited and booted person standing on one side, against an ill-clad, starving poor man on the other side, the court has an inherent tendency to lean in favour of the former against the latter. This is exactly what is happening today. It is the rich against the poor.’ As a member of the upstanding Bombay Parsi community, which has always held a position of social and cultural privilege dating back to British Imperialism, Soonawala’s respectability was vouched for from all sides. From a lawyer-community with personal ties to the doctor to medical professionals (‘if this can happen to him it can happen to us': a perverse twist in the logic of vulnerability that normally exists between doctor and patient, says Sujatha Gothoskar from the feminist collective Forum Against the Oppression of Women) to the wider Parsi community, efforts to clear the doctor’s name were aggressive and multi-pronged.

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The crux of the issue here lies not in Soonawala’s guilt or lack thereof, but in the fact that the law was prevented from taking its own course – singularly because of the social and economic standing of the accused.

Activists who had worked with Soonawala to strengthen laws against hawkers alleged that the case was fabricated by the hawker community in an act of vengeance. But the survivor is no hawker. She is a quiet, soft-spoken wife of a tailor from Orissa, with little money and no one to speak for her. In an unprecedented movement of support for a man accused of a crime that recently made every second Indian a feminist, over 300 people attended the first hearing for anticipatory bail in the Mumbai’s Sessions Court, where the victim was heckled from all sides. How does a judiciary rule in the face of such overwhelming, ‘respectable’ support?

he Order issued by the Mumbai High Court judge on 11 June was a regressive about-turn from the strides made by the Ordinance that resulted from the Justice Verma Committee Report. ‘Facts’ like ‘why didn’t she scream?’ and the 5 hour ‘lapse in time’ it took the survivor of a physical, sexual and mental assault to reach the police station took precedence over forensic evidence of semen on the examination table; an appointment book listing only the survivor’s name for the day; and clear police negligence in locating an absconding Soonawala. Other ‘facts’ cited were that the survivor was unsure about the extent of penetration, and that a forensic report dated 20 days after the incident found no traces of male DNA on her vaginal smear —factors that have been dismissed by the Supreme Court in several rape cases where the survivor is accustomed to sexual intercourse. In a note on the subject Justice Hospet writes, ‘In most…rape cases, there is the victim and the accused — and it happens in a closed room, and there are no eye witnesses.’ It comes down to what the judiciary believes. But as the evidence shows, this ‘belief’ does not exist free of classism and privilege. Aam Aadmi Party members Anjali Damania and Preeti Sharma Menon ask, ‘What if the case was reversed? What if a tailor raped a Parsi lady doctor? Would we say that he should get anticipatory bail? No, we’d say, “Arrest him and put him in jail immediately.”‘

Says Sujatha Gothoskar, ‘What [supporters of Soonawala] don’t seem to understand is that this sets such a dangerous precedent with much wider implications than the case itself…Whether you believe her or the doctor, let the law take its own course; let him be arrested.’ The crux of the issue here lies not in Soonawala’s guilt or lack thereof, but in the fact that the law was prevented from taking its own course – singularly because of the social and economic standing of the accused. Now being heard in the Supreme Court, if the current ruling is not overturned, will the Soonawala case be the new litmus test for rape cases of the future? Fast track for poor rapists, bail for the wealthy? The more support in court, harassment of the survivor and reportage from an uncritical media, the better the chance for acquittal?

If the public and media conscience and consciousness were so righteously raised by the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape, the Soonawala case shows the falseness and elitism of that consciousness to begin with. When it’s the tailor, the plumber, the masked villain in the night, the country (as represented by social media, at least) is up in arms against this ‘dishonouring’ and violent act against its women. When the culprit is ‘one of us’, the silence is chilling.

 

Talk show panelists are involved in pornography: Mamata Banerjee #Vaw #WTFnews


By PTI | 20 Jun, 2013,
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READ MORE ON » Women | West Bengal | talk shows | Talk show | Rape | Pornography | Mamata Banerjee
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today alleged that panelists of some local tv news channels critical of her were involved in pornography.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today alleged that panelists of some local tv news channels critical of her were involved in pornography.
GALSI (WB): Under attack from opposition and a section of intellectuals over the recent incident of rape and murder of a college student, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjeetoday alleged that panelists of some local tv news channels critical of her were involved inpornography.”Two or three incidents (of rape) have taken place. But every evening this people have salacious discussion disrespecting our mothers and sisters day after day. Some channels which are bankrupt are insulting the people of Bengal,” she alleged, referring to talk-shows on a section of local tv channels.

“They are not doing the right thing. What children did not know, they are getting to know about. Who are being called (to the panel discussion)? Many of them are involved in pornography. They claim to be social workers but are actually working for money. Talk showsare nothing but money shows,” she said.

She promised to file charge sheet against the accused in the Barasat incident within one month seeking death penalty.

Accusing a section of the media of blowing up rape cases, she said, “One or two TV channels under the influence of CPI(M) are projecting them in such a way as if the people are not able to walk on the streets freely.”

“One or two cases had indeed taken place and we do not support them, but that does not mean that everything has turned bad in this state,” she said addressing a panchayat election meeting here.

She claimed that “CPI(M) knows that they will be defeated in the panchayat election and that is why they are constantly making false accusation against us with the help of some tv channels.”

Referring to the NCRB figures showing West Bengal having the highest number of crimes against women, Banerjee said, “It has been prepared without informing the state.”

Unlike in the previous Left Front regime, now FIRs were registered against the crimes against women, she said. “Crimes against women were the regular feature during the Left Front regime. FIRs were not allowed to be filed at that time.”

“At Keshpur in West Midnapur district there was series of crimes against women but police diary (complaints) were not allowed to be lodged during the Left Front rule,” she said.

During her speech, Banerjee also turned her ire against the Centre for seeking huge interest on loans taken by the previous Left Front government.

“I wish people from Bengal to go to Delhi and gherao the Prime Minister demanding to know from him why should the West Bengal government pay interest for huge loans taken by the previous Left Front government,” she said.

 

How to Complaint Against errant Auto-Rickshaw Drivers in Delhi


It is very common with metropolitan of India that an auto-driver refuses to take you to your destination or does not follow meter installed or over charge from customer. Now, Delhi Traffic police is advertising the complaint policy and also started message service in which you can complaint about auto-driver by just noting his auto-rickshaw number and SMS to 56767. There is not only this step that you can follow but you can also use help of popular social networking sites like Facebook and twitter.

Steps to complaint against Auto-driver:-

1. SMS to 56767- if auto rickshaw refuses service, harasses in any way, does not go where you want to go, you can complaint by using Delhi traffic police SMS service. Send SMS OVC or MIS or HAR vehicle Registration Location Time> on 56767.

Eg. Send SMS <REF DL1RC3000 Janapth 1000hrs> to 56767.

  • REF- Refusal - If auto-driver does not allow you to take any where, you can use this code to send SMS.
  • OVC- Over Charging- if an auto-driver charges without measuring meter and over charge from you, you can use this OVC code to send SMS.
  • MIS-  Misbehavior- If an auto-driver misbehave with you during your journey, immediately send MIS code SMS to 56767.
  • HAR-  Harassment- If an auto-driver harass with you, you can complaint immediately to Delhi Traffic Police. For, harassment, the auto-driver can more hard punishment than any other complaints.

2. Use Helpline Number- If problem is worst for you while travelling in an auto-rickshaw, you can immediately call on 1095 or 25844444. It is 24×7 started helpline by Delhi Traffic Police and complaint will be listened and reacted as soon as possible.

3. Follow Social Networking SitesYou can also register complaint later on against the auto-driver. Only you have to note down his auto-rickshaw number. Page on Facebook is Delhi Traffic Police and follow on twitter – @delhipolice2. One can also use an email address-cp.neerajkumar@nic.in provided by Delhi Traffic Police.

4. Online Complaint Card- You can use online complaint card started by the Delhi Traffic police on their website. One has to fill all details related to complaint and can also mention brief description of 100 character against auto-rickshaw driver attitude.

Delhi Traffic Police has decided to take action against auto-rickshaw drivers within 24 hours of complaint registered. They are also working out on modalities to send an auto-generated text message to the complainant, acknowledging the receipt of the complaint along with a complaint registration number, so that he/she can follow up on the action taken.

‘Location tracking’ of every Indian mobile user by 2014 #WTFnews


Exclusive:FIRST POST
by Danish Raza
#Department of Telecom #HowThisWorks #Location Tracking #Mobile Services
New Delhi: The government has directed all telecom service providers to make location details, a mandatory part of call data records (CDR) of all mobile users in the country, starting mid- 2014, according to a Department of Telecommunications (DoT) directive obtained by Firstpost.
 
Effectively what this means, is that in addition to the contact number of the person you spoke to, duration of the call and details of the mobile tower you used, CDRs will now also reflect details of where you were when you made a call. The DoT directive is titled ‘Amendments to the unified access service license agreement for security related concerns for expansion of telecom services in various zones of the country’ and has been issued to all unified access service licensees.
 
Telecom companies are known to have assisted investigative agencies in probing criminal and terror cases by providing such details in the past. It is also common for agencies to tap mobile phones. But this exercise  which aims to track the location of every mobile user in the country, is unprecedented in sheer scale and intention.
 
What is noteworthy here however, is the accuracy with which the government wants to know where you are- more than 90 percent accuracy in urban (sic), defined as more than one million mobiles in a municipal unit. While the location tracking exercise has its genesis in a DoT order issued in May 2011, its effect on the ground should be visible from mid- 2014.
 
To start with, these details will be provided for specified mobile numbers. “However, within a period of three years location details shall be part of CDR for all mobile calls,” said the directive.
 
The DoT directive says that while detecting the location of the mobile users in urban centers, the telecom operator should achieve 80 percent accuracy in first year followed by 95 percent accuracy in the second year. But it is not clear from the note that to achieve these accuracies, the starting year is 2011 (when the order was issued) or 2014 (when location details shall be part of CDR for all mobile calls).
 
A cyber security analyst has called this an ‘alarming’ development and did not rule out the possibility of the government feeding citizens’ CDR information into the central monitoring system (CMS) – the centralised project through which the union government plans to monitor phone and internet activity in the country. Civil rights groups have also criticised CMS, describing the move as ‘chilling’.
 
“Through this DoT directive, the government is merely asking mobile operators to maintain location details. But for CMS, mobile companies have to transfer all such details to the government. Therefore, eventually, I believe, these details will be fed into the central server,” said Commander (rtd) Mukesh Saini, former national information security coordinator, government of India.
 
Alarming as it appears, but India is not the only country to conduct location tracking of its citizens. “This is a standard practice in European countries which use GSM technology, said V K Mittal, former scientist with National Technical Research OrganisationHe added that obtaining location details of targets is an integral part of agency modules while cracking criminal and terror cases. However, to do this for every mobile user, Mittal said, is illegal, unethical and unconstitutional as the state will be able to continuously target its citizens. “This is a clear indication that we are now moving towards a totalitarian regime in the name of security.”
 
Jiten Jain, Delhi based cyber security analyst, said that going by the kind of information which the government already possess, it is not surprising if location details become part of CDR. “But monitoring the location of every citizen is like creating a monster,” he said

 

 

#India – Tribal Woman raped in bus, helper arrested #Odisha #Vaw


RAPE

Odisha Tribal woman raped in moving bus

PTI : Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, Wed Jun 19 2013, 1

TOP ST

A 25-year-old tribal girl was allegedly raped by the helper of an air-conditioned luxury bus in which she was travelling, police today said. The accused identified as Susanta Hembram has been arrested for allegedly raping the tribal girl, resident of Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, in the moving bus on Sunday night when other passengers were fast asleep, they said.

In her complaint, the victim alleged that Hembram raped her in the rear seat of the private bus en route Jagatpur near Cuttack, between 3 to 3.30 am when there were only few passengers and all of them were asleep, City DCP S Praveen Kumar said.

Hembram is believed to be an acquaintance of the victim,who works as a domestic help in Jagatpur, on the outskirts of Cuttack city. The incident came to light when the girl was rescued by some people at Gatiroutpatna, about 5 km from Cuttack on Cuttack-Jagatsinghpur road yesterday.

The Mahila police station of the city after registering a case sent both the accused and the victim for medical examination on the day. A police scientific team is also assisting the city police in investigating the case.

The State Transport Commissioner Surendra Kumar informed that the permit of the passenger bus in which the crime was committed has been cancelled. “It is one of the primary duties of the bus staff to ensure that the passengers boarding the buses travel safely and reach their destinations unharmed,” Kumar said. Meanwhile, the Private Bus Owners’ Association condemning the incident has demanded that stringent punishment should be given to the bus helper and urged the bus owners to ensure that the credentials of the persons are verified properly before they are recruited to perform duties in the buses plying at night.

#India – Execution of Prof. Bhullar deferred #deathpenalty


 

By 

New Delhi, India (June 19, 2013): It is learnt that citing the “bad physical and mental health” of Sikh political prisoner Prof. Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, the office of the Delhi Lt. Governor of Delhi have deferred his execution.

According to a news reported by Indian Express (IE): “[t]his decision, a source said, was taken after scrutiny of the report submitted by the medical board formed by the Delhi government to ascertain Bhullar’s condition. The file has been forwarded to the office of the Director General (Prisons), Tihar Jail, the source said”.

“An objective, compassionate and humane view of the case has been taken after considering the deteriorating physical and mental health of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar and it has been decided to defer the matter. This decision was taken after scrutinising the report submitted by the medical board. Subsequently, he will be examined by a medical board again and the matter will be re-examined, the source said”, the news reported by IE reads further.

In its report, the medical board is learnt to have stated that Bhullar suffers from severe depression with psychotic symptoms. The jail manual states that a death row convict has to be declared physically and mentally fit before execution.

The file stating the L-G’s views has reportedly been recently forwarded to the office of the DG, Tihar, which will now send it to the home ministry before it is finally sent to the Delhi government.

It is notable that there was strong opposition to the execution of death sentence lashed upon Prof. Bhullar by Indian courts. Prof. Bhullar is sentenced to death in a highly contested manner by the Indian courts, and the Supreme Court of India repeatedly upheld his execution in a surprisingly controversial manner, where the the presiding judge of three judges bench acquitted him but two other judges upheld his death sentence on strange reasoning ignoring the absence of evidence against Prof. Bhullar.

Prof. Bhullar and his family are the victims of state-repression, as seven members of his family suffered severe custodial torture; whereas two from the family – Prof. Bhullar’s father and uncle, were secretly killed by Punjab police during enforced disappearance.

Delhi’s Lt. Governor’s decision is expected to brought a sigh of relief for Prof. Bhullar’s family as the decision has halted the execution of Prof. Bhullar for the time being but it must be remembered that the decision does not remove him from the death row permanently.

Water -Not Worth The Parchment? Many A Slip To The Sip


NARENDRA BISHT
GOVERNANCE: WATER SUPPLY
Not Worth The Parchment?
All the contracts are generous, but privatised water hasn’t really got our cities overflowing with joy
LOLA NAYAR , Oulook Magazine

Many A Slip To The Sip

  • 30 Number of Indian cities where private sector and MNCs have been roped in by civic bodies to manage the water supply.
  • 0 No project has so far delivered on lofty commitments; most continue to face major opposition from the consuming public and civil society.
  • 100 Average percentage rise in water tariff in cities and urban areas with privatisation projects. More to follow?
  • 0 Obligation on water conservation or sewage treatment by PPPs, even as public funds and manpower is being provided to them.
  • 35 Duration, in years, of management contracts being signed by civic bodies, up from pilot management projects for a few years.

***

Across the road, on the other side of the gleaming new malls of south Delhi, is the older but not quite glamorous settlement of Hauz Rani. It’s summer, holiday time. But every evening, when they ought to be playing, dozens of young children, jerrycans in hand, troop to the nearby colonies and to a public tap near the malls to lug water back home—for drinking, cooking, was­hing and cleaning. The life-sustaining liquid, always in short supply, is evide­ntly scarcer this summer. Not atypical, you’d say, that’s how things are in India.

Now, into this scenario, enters a troika of private companies, promising salvation. Suez, SPML Infra and Degremont, in a consortium, have got a 12-year contract from the Delhi Jal Board to supply 24×7 water over a 14 sq km expanse that includes Hauz Rani. So is salvation really round the corner? Similar projects  from across the country have ominous stories to tell. In Mysore, Nagpur and Khandwa, private efforts to ramp up public water supply are croaking under the weight of expectations. Costs are up, supply erra­tic and discretionary—they have not been above parching the less posh parts so as to cater to the tony neighbourhoods. And in the worst-case scenario, alternative sources of water, like tubewells or public taps, get blocked for good measure. As India prepares to go down the privatised water route, it’s a good juncture to ask, after bijli and sadak, is paani too slipping out of reach of the aam aadmi?


Photograph by Nilotpal Baruah

Mysore, Karnataka

  • Model: PPP contract for remodelling of water supply distribution system of Mysore city
  • Firm & cost: JUSCO; Rs 234.5 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 125 up to 25 KL @ Rs 5/KL, Rs 8/KL from 25–50 KL and so on
  • Proposed tariff: Slab starting from Rs 5/KL for domestic connections
  • Status: Local protest against JUSCO and municipal officials on poor project planning and implementation; Rs 7 crore penalty imposed on JUSCO for various lapses in the project; committee constituted to resolve issues.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook /Manthan

Three more Delhi areas (Vasant Kunj, Mehrauli, Nangloi) have been given over to the public-private partnership (PPP) model that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tirelessly asserts is the answer to the nation’s ills. All told, the capital is among 30-odd cities where civic bodies have called in private entities, including mncs, to “manage” the water supply. The number is set to go higher as more cities approach the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission (JNNURM) which—ironically, considering the man after whom it is named—makes private participation a precondition for financial support.

Civic bodies have been pushed, despite strong protests, into experimenting with the PPP model. The government’s justification has been that the private sector will bring in investments, technology and management efficiency, none of which a cash-strapped public sector can offer. Yet a study of 13 private water and sanitation projects by the Planning Commission has praise for none. In four cases—Latur, Mysore, Dewas and Khandwa—the project viability has itself been questioned.


Photograph by Sanjay Rawat

Delhi, NCR

  • Model: Build, operate and maintain for 12-15 years in three pilot projects
  • Current tariff: Rs 600/month average
  • Proposed tariff: DJB to decide
  • Firms and cost: Suez, SPML Infra and Degremont (Malviya Nagar); SPML Infra, Tahal Consulting and Hagihon Jerusalem Water (Mehrauli and Vasant Kunj); Suez and SPML combine (Nangloi); Rs 253.30 crore
  • Status: Survey work has started in proposed areas for improving infrastructure. Activists are questioning the logic of DJB outsourcing O&M while providing all raw material.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

When the state cedes control of as vital a public asset as water, it allows business to hold the poor to ransom and fleece them.

But the march towards privatisation  continues. Current models of pub­lic-pri­vate water partnerships are div­erse, from refurbishing the infrastructure to service contracts for billing, collection and met­ering. At present, most projects are foc­u­sing on distribution improvement. Even so, only a few places have seen experiments with citywide distribution, with hardly encouraging results at that. Many more projects are coming up: Naya Rai­pur in Chhattisgarh has decided to give its water distribution contract to Jindal Co on the PPP model. Kolhapur, Maharashtra, has the distinction of being the first to go in for PPP for sewage treatment.

“Six years ago, activists and residents’ welfare associations in Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore were able to stall a World Bank-led move to have the private sector take over water supply projects by making it a condition for granting loans,” says S.A. Naqvi of the Citizens’ Front for Water Democracy. “Ironically, the Centre is now taking exactly the same route through JNNURM.” It’s nob­ody’s case that India’s moribund water supply system is not in dire need of help, as the Hauz Rani scenario illustrates. It’s also not that its residents would be cussedly averse to paying; anyone who has sampled Delhi’s ‘machine ka thanda paani’ knows service doe­sn’t come free. But as water PPPs begin to come apart, the que­stion is not whether citizens should pay for unlimited use of a finite commodity like water, but to whom and how much? When Hauz Rani’s saviours, the neighbouring colonies, receive water for a mere two and a half hours a day, the answer isn’t so easy. The Delhi PPP experience is not unique:

  • In Mysore, JUSCO, a Tata enterprise, has faced severe time overruns, paid penalties and faced pubic outrage
  • In Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, all indications are of the project being unsustainable in the long run
  • In Latur, Maharashtra, SPML has been forced to hand back the water supply management to a government entity after local opposition.

“The results of PPP projects in urban water supply in India—even globally—aren’t encouraging. They don’t seem to be the solution that they were thought to be,” says Gaurav Dwivedi of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, a study group. “These are expensive projects and municipal bodies are at risk of losing control of water supply to private companies due to long contract periods from which there is no getting out.”


Photograph by Vivek Pateria

Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh

  • Model: PPP Build Own Transfer (BOT) concession contract for 25 years
  • Firm and cost: Vishwa Infrastructure; Rs 115.32 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 150 per month/connection
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 11.95/KL
  • Status: Construction phase ongoing, delayed by around two years. Investigations by JNNURM expert committee on irregularities. Local committee formed to look into people’s objections to privatisation including removal of non-revenue water, loss of municipal control, tariff hikes, etc.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

On paper, the case for privatisation of water supply, like telephony and aviation, seemed sound. Meeting the growing water demands of growing cities requ­i­red high investment. Better quality water called for sophisticated infrastru­cture. The private sector held the allure of money, technology, and also its famed managerial skills in implementation, delivery, acc­ou­ntability. Win-win. In reality, however, the experience has been quite the opposite as the state willingly cedes control over a vital public asset such as water under the garb of a PPP and watches haplessly as the poor are fleeced.

In many cities, private companies have brought little to the table. Naqvi says all the contracts awarded actually “have mechanisms to ensure the private parties don’t have to put in any of their own investments. During the initial two and a half years of the pilot projects, when the consortiums will be doing distribution, Delhi Jal Board will be paying very high management fees, besides the power bill, delivering treated water at the colony and providing its own employees to the private partner free of cost.”


Photograph by Sangeeta Mahajan

Nagpur, Maharashtra

  • Model: PPP contract for distribution, operation and maintenance and uninterrupted water supply (24×7) for 25 years
  • Firm and cost: Veolia Water and Vishwaraj Environment; Rs 566 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 150–200 per month/connection
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 7.90/KL
  • Status: Several problems arising in project implementation, from steep water tariff hikes, dissatisfaction with meters, increased water consumption in demo zone after project implementation etc

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

“The results of PPP projects in India are not encouraging,” says Gaurav Dwivedi. “They don’t seem to be the solution they were thought to be.”

On top of that, private companies are seen to be tinkering with that invaluable (and often scarce) commodity called democracy. Despite initial hiccups, electricity distribution saw some improvements after privatisation in cities like Delhi due to the presence of multiple sources of power. But private water companies have to depend on a finite number of sources. Diminishing rainfall, depleting water tables and raging wars between states have seen water become scarcer. So, supplying 24×7 water to one area in a city as promised by a private operator means depriving a number of other areas of their rightful due. It also means creating an artificial demand with an eye on the bottomline.

Worse, says Prof U.N. Ravi Kumar, a Mysore-based water consultant who has been engaged in the revival of water bodies. Private water suppliers are not making any effort to look at issues like waste water management or conserving water resources, he says. “All the projects we hear about are presentations by the companies and project promoters. Governments can easily get swayed by promises of 24×7 supply.” In other words, the private players have sold a pipe dream and are getting access to exploit and monetise public water resources without adding to it.


Photograph by AFP, From Outlook 24 June 2013

Hubli, Karnataka

  • Model: PPP contract for provision of 24/7 continuous water supply including refurbishment of distribution network
  • Firm and cost: Veolia Water; Rs 235.10 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 90 per month per connection
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 6/ KL for 0-8 KL, Rs 10/KL for 8-15 KL, Rs 15 for 15-25 KL and minimum charge of Rs 48 per month
  • Status: Questions about the lack of transparency in the project particularly with respect to the tariff structure; uncertainty about financial implications for local people when support is removed.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

In many cities where private operators have moved in, anecdotal evidence shows that, while the rich and well-off can be assured of better supplies at a higher cost, those defaulting on even one bill end up paying dearly with water supplies being stopped. While private players have been relentless in enforcing the rules on individual domestic connections, they seem to have fallen prey to their political masters while dealing with commercial connections—which usually default on a much larger scale than domestic ones.

Ashok Govindpurkar, a veteran Nat­ionalist Congress Party councillor from Latur, says they were widely supported in their protest against private management of water supply in their city of four lakh population as households having or seeking to instal a handpump needed to get permission. “The cost of a water connection for Rs 1,700 plus a meter cost of Rs 2,400 was a huge burden on the poor,” he says. Adds Gaurav Dwivedi of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, “Water PPPs do not have a pro-poor orientation even tho­ugh this is the section of the community, especially in urban settings, which needs water supply and sanitation services at low costs on an urgent basis.” It does not call for any particular political bent to see that, in India, this would only worsen the country’s overall indices.

The private companies complain about being demonised. “In Latur, water was supplied once a week before we took over. We improved the situation and supplied it on alternate days,” says Rishabh Sethi, exe­cutive director, SPML. “The lack of support and coordination between government entities with respect to their contractual obligation has been the main reason for the project being kept in abeyance. Plus plentiful local opposition, including from local political groups.”


Photograph by Amit Haralkar

Latur, Maharashtra

  • Model: Management contract for 10 years
  • Firm & Cost: SPML; Fixed management fee (IRR of 19.6 per cent)
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 100/month
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 150 (plus meter cost of Rs 2,400 + connection cost Rs 1,700)
  • Status: The first case where a private management contract has been rolled back following three years of protests by people and most political parties barring Congress. The project has now been given to a public sector entity.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

In Mysore, JUSCO’s plea for renegotiation of the contract is meeting with widespread opposition. Despite some benefits having accrued to ‘chronic problem’ localities in the city, many other areas are seeing a drop in supplies. Ditto Nagpur, where the distribution project was extended to cover the whole city even before the assessment of the pilot was done. “I don’t think private participation has worked anywhere in India for a sufficiently long period or provided a credible appraisal performance,” says water activist Himanshu Thakkar.

JUSCO is not the only company trying to renegotiate the terms of its contract, but the Mysore city corporation is in a fix. It is facing a financial squeeze and has no answer to the public ire. Also, there’s  little option of throwing out the private company without inviting protracted litigation. With the long-term contracts loaded in favour of private companies, civic bodies are caught between a rock and a hard place. And the only way out, it seems, is to wait like its counterparts in Europe and declare water supply a public sector operation after the contract runs out.

Delhi: 16-year-old Bangladeshi girl commits suicide in a police station #Vaw #WTFnews


IANS | Updated Jun 16, 2013
 
New Delhi: A 16-year-old girl committed suicide by hanging in a police station in Delhi on Saturday evening, police said. “The girl, a native of Bangladesh, who works as a domestic help in south Delhi, had gone missing from her home in Vasant Kunj on Friday. A passerby spotted her near Rithala Metro station on Saturday in north Delhi and took her to Vijay Vihar police station,” said a police officer.
Police informed her parents and asked the girl to stay in the ladies changing room, where she hung herself from a ceiling with her stole. A police personnel spotted her body around 5 pm.
Police said she was depressed as her parents were pressing her to marry against her wishes.
“On Friday, she left her house around 11 am without telling her parents without properly telling them where she was going. When she did not come back, after an hour they started searching and later informed police in the evening,” the officer said.
A case of kidnapping was registered at Vasant Kunj north police station, the officer added.

 

#India – Mumbai is 2nd-most crime-prone city, despite drop in cases in 2012 #Vaw


142.3% Rise In Robberies In City, 63.5% Spike In State

V Narayan TNN

Mumbai has gained the dubious distinction of being the secondmost crime-prone city in India, if one goes by the number of cases registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The data, recently released by the National Crime Records Bureau, shows that 30,508 cases were registered under the IPC in 2012, making Mumbai second only to Delhi, which had 47,982 cases.
In 2011, Mumbai actually saw more cases registered, 32,647. But the city had ranked third then behind Delhi and Kochi, which saw 47,212 and 34,658 cases, respectively.
The 6.5% drop in cases registered in Mumbai in 2012 can be mainly attributed to fewer cases filed for theft, burglary, dacoity, hurt, death by negligence, attempted murder, kidnap, abduction, cruelty by husband and relative, cheating, rioting and counterfeiting.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra continues to remain the second-most crime-prone state in the nation, even though it saw fewer cases registered in 2012. The figure dropped from 2.05 lakh in 2011 to 2.03 lakh. Madhya Pradesh, which has topped the chart since 2010, saw 2.2 lakh cases in 2012. Tamil Nadu was third with 2 lakh cases.
Several crimes saw a spike in Mumbai as well as Maharashtra, but none more so than robbery, which went up by a huge 142.3% in Mumbai and 63.5% in Maharashtra. There were 467 robberies in Mumbai in 2011, which went up to 1,131 the next year. In Maharashtra, the number rose from 4,249 to 6,949.
Other crimes that saw a rise in Mumbai included crimes against women (rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment), as reported by TOI on June 15, and also murder, culpable homicide, dowry deaths, breach of trust and arson. Maharashtra saw more crimes against women, dacoity, death by negligence, culpable homicide, attempted murder, cruelty by husband and relatives, cheating, breach of trust and riots.
Experts and police said higher awareness in Maharashtra leads to more crimes being reported and higher statistics. Deputy commissioner of police (Zone V) Dhananjay Kulkarni said a developed state sees more reporting of crime and better response by the police. Former IPS officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh said, “In Maharashtra, there is less refusal to register a crime. That is why even though Maharashtra may be a more peaceful state than Bihar or UP, or even West Bengal, it would have more cases.” Joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy echoed such views.
Both Kulkarni and Singh also cited rapid urbanization and population density in cities as causes of crime. “For semi-urban and rural India, cities have gradually come to signify prosperity, a better quality of life, higher income, a modern lifestyle and facilities. In their quest for the seemingly ideal life, people are increasingly migrating to cities, leading to an imbalance in supply and demand and basic resources,” Kulkarni said.