Gujarat HC notices to Tata Motors, Essar, L&T, GIFT city over land allotment


English: Wordmark of Essar. Trademarked by Essar.

 

English: Wordmark of Tata Motors

English: Wordmark of Tata Motors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

S Reporter  |  Mumbai/ Ahmedabad  April 26, 2013 Last Updated at 20:30 IST

Alleges that the companies received favours from state govt; asks them to file replies on affidavit

 

Gujarat High Court on Friday issued notices to Tata Motors Ltd, Essar Steel Ltd, Larsen & Tubro (L&T) and Gujarat International Finance Tech (GIFT) City Company Limited while hearing separate public interest litigations (PILs) alleging that the companies received favours from state government.

A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala while issuing notices have asked them to file replies on affidavit and have scheduled further hearing in June after the court vacation.

The PIL against Tata Motor Ltd (TML) alleges state government had violated policy by giving tax and financial reliefs against the VAT payable by the company. It has further claimed that government had wrongly disbursed over Rs 300 crore loan at 0.1 per cent payable after 20 years of TML’s Nano car plant operations. It said that state government’s move “is a deliberate action against the interest of public at large which is also beyond the purview of state government and also dehors the law.”

PIL has demanded cancellation of the loan given by state government to TML. It has further alleged that the company was “misusing and abusing the condition of the tax relief granted” to get soft loans from the state government. “Total sales of the NANO car are shown to have been made to a wholly owned subsidiary company of TML in state of Gujarat and later on cars are indirectly sold all over the country and other states of India by that wholly owned subsidiary company,” the PIL said, adding that the company manipulated sales figures to get more loan from government.

Meanwhile other PILs against L&T, Essar Steel Ltd and Gift City have claimed that the land allotment to the entities was done without following proper procedures, resulting in private companies getting undue benefits from the state government.

They have further claimed that government land was allotted to the companies at throw away prices without competitive bidding process, causing a loss crores of rupees to the state exchequer. The PILs have cited the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India where these issues have been raised.

 

 

 

 

Shehla Masood murder case: Photographer deposes before CBI court


Nov 26, 2012, Firstpost


Indore
: A photographer, who had taken the photos at the murder spot of RTI activist Shehla Masood, today deposed before the Special CBI court here and was cross examined by defence counsels in the case.

Photographer S C Sharma, who accompanied the forensic science experts after Shehla was allegedly murdered outside her house in Bhopal on August 16, 2011, appeared before the Special CBI Court of Justice Anupam Srivastava.

During cross examination by defence counsel A J Bhojwani, Sharma told the court that while taking pictures, the bullet could not be spotted from outside.

Shehla Masood. Pic courtesy IBNLive.

The witness also showed the court 22 pictures that he took with a camera using a “roll” (not digital camera).

While being cross examined by defence counsel Sunil Srivastava, Sharma admitted that he had not entered the log book of his visit to the site, nor signed anywhere in the official register. Prints were made out of the negative film and were handed over to the competent authority, the photographer told the court.

Later, defence lawyer Sunil Srivastava told reporters that the photos were taken “illegally” by not observing official norms.

“The prosecution witness could not reply from where he brought the camera and roll. The film was developed either in an outside studio or private institution,” Srivastava alleged. The trial will now continue on December 13.

Zahida Pervez, an interior designer, has been named as the prime accused in the case by CBI along with four others.

Other accused are Zahida’s friend Saba Farooqui, and alleged shooters Irfan Ali, Tabish Khan, and Saquib Ali alias danger.

All the five charged with murder and criminal conspiracy were present in the court today.

Shehla was shot dead outside her house in Bhopal’s Koh-e-Fiza locality on August 16, 2011.

 

Indian woman with a steely resolve


By Moushumi Basu in Ranchi, BBC

Dayamani Barla

Ms Barla runs a small tea-shop

An Indian woman who worked as a housemaid washing dishes and sweeping floors for the rich is now leading a protest campaign against a major corporation.

Dayamani Barla leads the tribal campaign against Arcelor Mittal‘s proposed steel plant in the eastern state of Jharkhand.

In recognition of her work, Ms Barla was recently invited to Sweden to attend a European Social Forum (ESF) workshop on the rights of indigenous peoples.

She was also chosen as one of 23 speakers from across the world to speak on indigenous peoples’ rights and environmental justice.

Paltry income

Ms Barla’s life story is one of struggle, but also one of extraordinary determination and achievement.

Often sleeping on railway platforms, she paid for her education with what little income she had.

After completing a master’s degree, she entered journalism, becoming the first tribal woman journalist from the largely tribal state of Jharkhand.

A crowd of tribals in Jharkhand, India

The tribals say they will not give up their land for the steel plant

For her work, she has won prestigious awards.

But she earns her livelihood by running a small tea-shop in the state capital, Ranchi, which she claims is “one of the best places to listen to the voices of the people”.

At the conference in Sweden, she spoke about the people from nearly 40 villages in Jharkhand who are expected to lose their land to the Arcelor Mittal steel plant.

Arcelor Mittal wants to invest $8.79bn to set up one of the world’s biggest steel plants in the area.

The greenfield steel project requires 12,000 acres of land and a new power plant.

‘Not an inch’

Ms Barla’s group – Adivaasi, Moolvaasi, Astitva Raksha Manch (Forum for the protection of tribal and indigenous people’s identity) – says apart from causing massive displacement, the project will destroy the forests in the area.

It will also have an impact on the water sources and ecosystems, thereby threatening the environment and the very source of sustenance for indigenous peoples, it says.

“We will not give an inch of our land,” says Ms Barla.

For Arcelor Mittal, Dayamani Barla could prove to be as much trouble as the fiery Bengali politician Mamata Bannerjee has been for Tata Motors in the state of West Bengal.

A crowd of tribals in Jharkhand, India

Tribal protesters say land is their heritage

“We will give away our lives, but we will not part with an inch of our ancestral land. The Mittals would not be allowed here – do not grab our ancestral land,” is the message from Ms Barla and the villagers who back her campaign to save their land.

Arcelor Mittal’s Vijay Bhatnagar told the BBC that his company was not trying to grab any land. He said that they were willing to wait as long as it takes to sort out the issue.

“We are trying to hold a dialogue with the villagers, they may have their genuine reasons for grievances, but we will certainly succeed in convincing them that the rehabilitation and resettlement policy of Jharkhand will be followed in letter and spirit by us,” he said.

Local Congress party MP Sushila Kerketta believes the villagers will be won round in the end.

She says she has been holding successful meetings with local people to explain the benefits of the deal to them.

“If companies such as Arcelor Mittal set up industries here, it will largely solve the problem of unemployment,” she says.

The villagers, under Ms Barla’s leadership, however, are refusing to budge.

“Her campaigns have the ability to draw masses from the grassroots,” says Ville Veikko Hirvela, social activist and a member of Friends of the Earth, and Etnia, one of the organisers of the ESF workshop.

“For any tribal community, land is not an asset to be sold, it is their heritage. They are not masters or owners of it, but its protectors for the next generations,” he says.

Ms Barla says: “The corporate houses are simply ignorant of the concept of the subsistence economy of a tribal society that is rooted in agriculture and forest produce.

“The natural resources to us are not merely means of livelihood, but our identity, dignity, autonomy and culture have been built on them for generations.

“These communities will not survive if they are alienated from the natural resources. How is it possible to rehabilitate or compensate us?” she asks.

JOIN US ON FACEBOOK HERE – https://www.facebook.com/jaljangalzameen? Dayamani Barla’s Supporter page