Officials find discrepancy in the figures of Aadhaar card generation #UID


 

By Nidhin T R – KOTTAYAM 11th May 2013 08:28 AM
P H Kurian, IT principal secretary to the state government had told ‘Express’ on Thursday that out of the 3.25 crore Aadhaar cards needed in the state, 2.42 crore have been generated. | EPS
P H Kurian, IT principal secretary to the state government had told ‘Express’ on Thursday that out of the 3.25 crore Aadhaar cards needed in the state, 2.42 crore have been generated. | EPS
With the need for Aadhaar cards increasing day by day, so as to avail direct subsidy scheme through Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, the public is approaching Akshaya centres to know the status of their Aadhaar card for which they enrolled several months ago.
But it is learnt through officials in Akshaya state-level office, which oversees the generation of Aadhaar cards and other e-district activities, that there is a telling difference, in particular months, between the number of Aadhaar cards Akshaya State office and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) say have been generated in the state, and the actual figures.
For instance, in the month of October 2012, a PDF file in the UIDAI site says 5,12,977 cards were generated that through the Akshaya Centres in the state, but the state Akshaya office says that the Bangalore Data Centre (BDC) of the UIDAI, has sent them the figure of 3,02,596 for the total number of cards generated in the state; the difference being 2,10,381.
“Only the UIDAI knows about this difference . We have written to BDC officials about the discrepancy. But, ultimately the figures will be tallied in the coming months. We are receiving money for the generated cards as per the UIDAI data. From this amount, money is allotted to the concerned Akshaya entrepreneurs, as per the BDC figures,” said a higher official who in the accounts section of Akshaya. He also said that the ‘surplus’ money allotted by the UIDAI is being kept under the state Akshaya Office.
No Variation
Akshaya entrepreneurs, who have been managing Aadhaar enrolment with other agencies such as the Keltron, have made allegations of financial misappropriation. “There cannot be such variation in the figures. Both the BDC and UIDAI are doing the same work and the BDC, which provides technical support to the UIDAI, cannot give a separate figure. Each of our operators has a separate login id and the number of cards they generate can be clearly found in the UIDAI server.  Generated figures are shown less to prevent the entrepreneurs from getting their due payment. What Akshaya does with the ‘surplus’ UIDAI payment, need to be observed closely,” said a state-level functionary of Akshaya Entrepreneurs Association. Going by just the October data, Akshaya has kept apart as much as `73,63,335 because of the discrepancy in figures. And the total ‘surplus’ money, from September to December 2012, which could be easily calculated by visiting the UIDAI and Akshaya websites, is `89,25,140, entrepreneurs noted.
P H Kurian, IT principal secretary to the state government had told ‘Express’ on Thursday that out of the 3.25 crore Aadhaar cards needed in the state, 2.42 crore have been generated.  He said that it would not be possible to make cards available to all before July this year.

 

 

Bomb blasts cast shadow over Pakistan’s milestone election


Reuters | May 11, 2013,

Bomb blasts cast shadow over Pakistan's milestone election
A woman voter holds her ballot paper and stamp while moving to a polling booth inside a polling station in Karachi on May 11, 2013.
ISLAMABAD: A string of militant attacks cast a long shadow over Pakistan‘s general election on Saturday, but millions still turned out to vote in a landmark test of the troubled country’s democracy.

The poll, in which some 86 million people are eligible to vote, will bring the first transition between civilian governments in a country ruled by the military for more than half of its turbulent history.

A bomb attack on the office of the Awami National Party (ANP) in the commercial capital, Karachi, killed 11 people and wounded 35. At least two were wounded in a pair of blasts that followed and media reported gunfire in the city.

An explosion destroyed an ANP office in the northwest. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Television channels also reported an explosion in the city of Peshawar.

Pakistan’s Taliban, who are close to al-Qaida, have killed more than 120 people in election-related violence since April. The group, which is fighting to topple the US-backed government, regards the elections as un-Islamic.

The Taliban have focused their anger on secular-leaning parties like the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the ANP. Many candidates, fearful of being assassinated, avoided open campaigning before the election.

The people of Pakistan hope the polls will deliver change and ease frustrations with the Taliban, a frail economy, endemic corruption, chronic power cuts and crumbling infrastructure.

Disenchantment with the two mainstream parties appears to have brought a late surge of support for former cricket star Imran Khan, who could end up holding the balance of power.

Khan, 60, is in hospital after injuring himself in a fall at a party rally, which may also win him sympathy votes.

Results from nearly 70,000 polling stations nationwide are expected to start tricking in from around 10pm (1700 GMT).

“The problems facing the new government will be immense, and this may be the last chance that the country’s existing elites have to solve them,” said Anatol Lieven, a professor at King’s College, London, and author of a book on Pakistan.

“If the lives of ordinary Pakistanis are not significantly improved over the next five years, a return to authoritarian solutions remains a possibility,” Lieven wrote in a column in the Financial Times.

The army stayed out of politics during the five years of the last government, but it still sets the nuclear-armed country’s foreign and security policy and will steer the thorny relationship with Washington as NATO troops withdraw from neighbouring Afghanistan next year.

With no clear-cut winner, weeks of haggling to form a coalition will follow, which would raise the risk that the government is undermined by instability.

That would only make it more difficult to reverse the disgust with politicians felt among the country’s 180 million people and drive through the reforms needed to revive its near-failed economy.

Power cuts can last more than 10 hours a day in some places, crippling key industries like textiles, and a new International Monetary Fund bailout may be needed soon.

The party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif looks set to win the most seats in the one-day vote. But Khan could deprive Sharif of a majority and dash his hopes for a return to power 14 years after he was ousted in a military coup, jailed and later exiled.

Pakistan’s best-known sportsman, who led a playboy lifestyle in his younger days, Khan is seen by many as a refreshing change from the dynastic politicians who long relied on a patronage system to win votes and are often accused of corruption.

Late surge for Imran Khan

Voters will elect 272 members of the National Assembly and to win a simple majority, a party would have to take 137 seats.

However, the election is complicated by the fact that a further 70 seats, most reserved for women and members of non- Muslim minorities, are allocated to parties on the basis of their performance in the contested constituencies. To have a majority of the total of 342, a party would need 172.

Khan appeals mostly to young, urban voters because of his calls for an end to corruption, a new political landscape and a halt to US drone strikes on Pakistani soil. About one-third of the country’s population is under the age of 30.

Early opinion polls had put the share of votes for Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) party as low as single figures. However, a survey released on Wednesday showed nearly 25 percent of voters nationally planned to vote for his party, just a whisker behind Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).

The Herald magazine poll showed Sharif’s party remained the front-runner in Punjab, which, with the largest share of parliamentary seats, usually dictates the outcome of elections.

It also pointed to an upset for the PPP, placing it third. Pakistan’s politics have long been dominated by the PML-N and the PPP, whose most prominent figure is President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former premier Benazir Bhutto.

“The PPP didn’t take care of the poor masses and always engages in corrupt practices whenever they come to power,” said Sher Nabi, a banker from Peshawar.

“So we’ve decided to vote for the PTI candidate this time and test Imran Khan to see if he proves as honest as he claims.”

Pakistan, which prides itself on its democratic credentials, ordered the New York Times bureau chief in Islamabad to leave the country on the eve of the polls, the daily said on Friday.

A two-sentence letter was delivered by police officers to the home of the bureau chief, Declan Walsh, it said.

“It is informed that your visa is hereby cancelled in view of your undesirable activities,” the Times quoted the letter as saying, without explaining what was undesirable. “You are therefore advised to leave the country within 72 hours.”

 

 

Protest the arrest of Anti Posco Leader Abhay Sahoo


abhaysahoo

We strongly condemn the arrest of our leader and president of PPSS Mr. Abhay Sahoo this morning i.e.  on 11thMay 2013. As you are all aware 50 cases had been filed against him at different stages of the movement and all the cases are blatantly false and fabricated. The district administration and police were after him as the movement instead of withering away under severe repression has gathered more momentum. Abhayji has been taken to Kujang jail in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha.

We understand that this is part of a larger game plan to destabilize the movement and  force the project on our unwilling people. Earlier also Abhaya Sahoo was arrested in 2008 and was kept in jail for 14 months. Mr. Sahoo was again implicated in another false case leading to his incarceration from 25th November 2011 to 14th march 2012.

Every time when Abhayji was arrested the movement got further strengthened and our people threw up more leaders with solidarity from you all.

We have been informing you that our life has been severely disrupted since the state government signed the said project with POSCO. The police force has been using coercive measures to suppress our constitutional right to dissent. We have been peacefully resisting all types of criminal forces for more than eight  years, but ironically hundreds of cases are being lodged by the police against us. Our protesters have been murdered by bomb attacks, assaulted by hired goons and beaten by police-all done by at the behest of administration. Local authorities ignored our demands for recognition of our right to the land. Instead, armed forced were engaged to silence our voices.  Till now more than 200  false cases have been registered against our villagers by the government, 1500 warrants have issued out of which 340 are women.

Our people are unable to go out and receive treatment because of the threat of arrests. None of the cases has any basis and all are fabricated by the police to keep our people inside jail for as many days as they think by doing this they could spoil our democratic movement. The government of Odisha has been clamping false cases against anyone trying to oppose POSCO, It is matter of regret that all the actions till date by the government of Odisha against us is totally unjustified as the entire projects stands on shaky ground.

We call for all the Jan Andolans, People’s organisations, Political parties, activists, intellectuals and people at large to condemn in strongest possible terms this cowardly and undemocratic act of the administration. We appeal you all to demonstrate and demand immediate release of Abahya Sahoo. Also please lodge your protest near the following authorities.

Let me assure that our people will put up a more determined resistance and what they all need is your continuous support and solidarity.

 

 

 

Kindly forward this mail widely.

 

Hoping for Solidarity.

 

Prashant Paikaray

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Mobile no – 09437571547

E- mail- prashantpaikaray@gmail.com

 

You can call and write to the following :

1. Mr. Naveen Patnaik

Chief Minister,  Odishas

Tel. No.(O) 011 91 674 2531100,011 91 674 2535100,

011 91 674 2531500, Epbax 2163

Tel. No.(R) 011 91 674 2590299, 011 91 674 2591099,

011 91 674 2590844, 011 91 674 2591100,

Fax No- (91)6742535100

E Mail: cmo@ori.nic.in

2.  Dr. S. C. Zameer, Governor of Odisha,  Fax No-
(91)6742536582

3. Shri B K Patnaik, Chief Secretary, E-mail: csori@ori.nic.<csori@ori.nic.in>

Phone no – 0674 – 2536700

0674 – 2534300

0674 – 2322196

Fax No – 0674 – 2536660

3. S.K. Mallick , District  Collector, Jagatsinghpur, Contact number
09437038401,   Fax no – : (91)6724220299

4. Superintendent of Police, Satyabrata Bhoi, Mobile no-09437575759, 0624-
220115,  dmjsp@ori.nic.in

5. Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

Tel no-+9111-23016857

e mail: manmohan@sansad.in

6. Sonia Gandhi: Tel Phone no – (91)11-23014161, (91)11-23012656, Fax-
(91)112301865, soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in,

*7.* Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot
House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, Tel: +91 11 230 74448, Fax: +91
11 2334 0016, Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

8. Shri. V.Kishore Chandra Deo

Minister of Tribal Affairs

Ministry of Tribal Affairs,

Room No. 400  ‘B’ Wing, Shastri Bhawan,

New Delhi- 110001

vk.deo@sansad.nic.in

9. Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan

Minister of Environment & Forests

Ministry of Environment & Forests

Paryavaran Bhawan,

CGO Complex, Lodhi Road

New Delhi-110003

mosefgoi@nic.in

 

 

Anti-Posco leader Abhay Sahu arrested


By PTI | 11 May, 2013, abhaysahoo
READ MORE ON » tamil nadu | PPSS | POSCO | Patana village | explosion | Abhay Sahu
BHUBANESHWARAnti-Posco leader Abhay Sahu was arrested today in connection with several cases including a bomb blast in the proposed steel project site in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district, the police said.

“Sahu, who was to leave for Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu to attend a meeting there, was arrested from Bhubaneswar by a police team from Jagatsinghpur shortly before departure of his flight,” Deputy Superintendent of Police (Paradip), Bhabani Shankar Mishra said.

Acting on an information, the police team reached the state capital and arrested the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) leader before taking him to Kujanga near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, the DSP said.

There are a total of 54 cases of different nature against Sahu, he said, adding the PPSSleader was on bail in 50 cases and the arrest was made in connection with four fresh cases involving a bomb explosion, obstruction in government work and other offences.

Claiming that he was implicated in false cases, Sahu said he was to leave for Coimbatore yesterday to attend a conference but deferred his visit as his son-in-law fell ill and was hospitalised.

Maintaining that he would continue to oppose the mega project proposed by the South Korean steel major, the PPSS leader said he was to take a flight to Chennai to attend the conference but police arrested him before his departure.

Sahu, who has been leading an agitation under the banner of PPSS against the mega steel project since 2005, had been arrested more than two years ago in connection with various offences.

He was released after obtaining bail in December 2011, police said, adding that four new cases were subsequently slapped against the anti-Posco leader.

One of the cases was related to an explosion allegedly during bomb making at Patana village in which three persons were killed on March 2, this year, police said.

Sahu would be produced before a court at Kujanga shortly, the DSP said.

 

India Bihar rapes ’caused by lack of toilets’ #Vaw


By Amarnath TewaryPatna, Bihar, BBC

Toilet in India villageMore than half-a-billion Indians lack access to basic sanitation
 

Most of the cases of rape of women and girls in India’s Bihar state occur when they go out to defecate in the open, police and social activists say.

Some 85% of the rural households in the state, one of India’s poorest, have no access to a toilet, a study says.

The police reported more than 870 cases of rape in Bihar last year.

More than half-a-billion Indians lack access to basic sanitation. Many do not have access to flush toilets or other latrines.

The issue of sexual violence against women and girls in India has been under intense scrutiny since the gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus in December led to widespread protests.

In March, India passed a new bill containing harsher punishments, including the death penalty, for rapists.

‘Worrisome trend’

There have been a number of recent cases where women and girls have been raped in Bihar after they stepped out of their homes to defecate:

  • On 5 May, an 11-year-old girl was raped in Mai village in Jehanabad district when she was going to the field at night
  • On 28 April, a young girl was abducted and raped when she had gone out to defecate in an open field in Kalapur village in Naubatpur, 35km (21 miles) from the state capital, Patna
  • On 24 April, another girl was raped in similar circumstances on a farm in Chaunniya village in Sheikhpura district. She told the police that two villagers had followed and raped her. One of them has been arrested.

Senior police official Arvind Pandey told the BBC that such cases happen every month in Bihar.

“They take place when women step out to defecate early in the morning and late evening. It is a very worrisome trend.”

Mr Pandey said that about 400 women would have “escaped” rape last year if they had toilets in their homes.

A recent study by global health organisation Population Service International (PSI) and Monitor Delloitte, done in collaboration with Water for People, said that Bihar had India’s poorest sanitation indicators with 85% rural households having no access to toilets.

The report added that 49% of the households that did not have a toilet wanted one for “safety and security”.

Some 45% wanted a toilet for “convenience”, while 4% wanted one for “privacy”.

“Surprisingly, only 1% indicated health as a motivator for having a toilet,” the report said.

The Bihar government says it plans to provide toilets to more than 10 million households in the state by 2022 under a federal scheme.

A law making toilets mandatory has been introduced in several states as part of the “sanitation for all” drive by the Indian government.

Special funds are made available for people to construct toilets to promote hygiene and eradicate the practice of faeces collection – or scavenging – which is mainly carried out by low-caste people.

Fixing accountability for unlawful killings in India #AFSPA


DIVYA TRIVEDI, The Hindu

Students demand withdrawal of the Act. Photo: S. Subramanium
The HinduStudents demand withdrawal of the Act. Photo: S. Subramanium

Hundred and nine civilian deaths occurred due to police firing in 2011, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Disproportionate use of force during demonstrations caused many deaths and at least 100 deaths were caused due to excessive use of force against demonstrators in Jammu and Kashmir in 2010. According to the NHRC, 2,560 deaths during encounters with police were reported between 1993 and 2008. Of this, 1,224 cases were regarded by the NHRC as “fake encounters”. The police, the central armed police forces and the armed forces have been accused of “fake encounters”. Complaints have been lodged, particularly against the Central Reserve Police Force, the Border Security Forces, and the armed forces acting under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).

In the face of such alarming statistics, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Christof Heyns, was invited to the country and he toured extensively between March 19 to 30 this year meeting several State and non-State actors. The main findings of his report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in June 2013.

It recommends a series of legal reforms and policy measures aimed at fighting impunity and decreasing the level of unlawful killings in India.

While deaths resulting from excessive use of force by security officers, and legislation that is permissive of such use of force hampers accountability, impunity is a central problem and represents a major challenge, according to the report.

His report states that India should repeal, or at least radically amend, AFSPA and the Jammu and Kashmir AFSPA, with the aim of ensuring that the legislation regarding the use of force by the armed forces provides for the respect of the principles of proportionality and necessity in all instances, as stipulated under international human rights law. It should also remove all legal barriers for the criminal prosecution of members of the armed forces.

“While waiting for the necessary amendment or repeal of AFSPA, it should be ensured that the status of a “disturbed area” under AFSPA is subject to regular review – for example, every six months – and a justified decision is made on its further extension,” states the report.

The report also recommends the immediate ratification of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

It recommends India to swiftly enact the Prevention of Torture Bill and ensure its compliance with CAT.

All vigilante groups and civilians recruited to perform military or law enforcement tasks, and who are not part of the regular security forces, should be dissolved and prohibited with immediate effect, states the report.

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act should be reviewed with the aim of extending its scope to Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians. The criminal legislation should be reviewed to ensure that all gender-based killings, as well as killings of any member of a tribe or lower caste receive high sentences, possibly under the form of life imprisonment. The Indian legislation regarding the imposition of the death penalty should be reviewed to provide that the death penalty may be imposed for the most serious crimes only, namely only for those crimes that involve intentional killing. India should consider placing a moratorium on the death penalty in accordance with General Assembly resolutions with a view to abolishing it, according to the report. A mechanism should be put in place to regularly review and monitor the status of implementation of the directives of the Supreme Court and the NHRC guidelines on arrest, encounter killings, and custodial violence and death.

The establishment and effective functioning of the independent Police Complaints Authorities should be made a priority in all states. It should be ensured that FIR registration is prompt and made mandatory in all cases of unlawful killings and death threats. The authorities should put in place an independent mechanism to monitor FIR registration following any request to do so, as well as of punishment of those law enforcement officials who refuse to register a FIR.

To a large extent, the required structures to decrease extrajudicial executions are already in place but a concerted and systematic effort is required by the State, civil society and others to eradicate unlawful killings, states the report.

 

 

Centre likely to skip Aadhaar for Direct Benefit Transfer? #UID


200 px

Arunav Sinha , TNN | May 10, 2013, 02.17 AM IST
LUCKNOW: Centre may bypass Aadhaar to accomplish the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) before the scheme is launched on July 1. According to sources, instructions were issued to ensure speedy and timely implementation of DBT and to ensure no beneficiary was left out, in a meeting held on April 29 in New Delhi, chaired by Union finance minister P Chidambaram and mission director of DBT Sindhushri Khullar and attended by district magistrates of 78 districts, where the second phase of the DBT will roll out.
Aadhaar, which was to be the basis of receiving the benefit, seems too have been circumvented. “The main objective of the DBT is to transfer benefits directly to Aadhaar-seeded bank accounts of the beneficiaries. But, if a beneficiary does not have an Aadhaar number, it has been decided to take an alternate route such as ECS or NEFT, so that no one is denied the benefits he/she is entitled to,” said a senior state government official, who attended the meeting.
He stated further that in the first phase of DBT (which was earlier called direct cash transfer), around 3.5 crore transactions were complete, with transfer of Rs 45 crore to the Aadhaar-seeded accounts of the beneficiaries. The government had estimated that about 16 lakh beneficiaries would be covered under phase-1 of the scheme rolled out in 43 districts. Of these, 13 lakh were identified by the banks, of whom only 5.5 lakh reported their Aadhaar numbers to the banks.
In Uttar Pradesh, six districts have been selected for the second phase of the DBT rollout, including Congress bastions of Rae Bareli and Amethi, besides Samajwadi Party stronghold of Etawah, Chitrakoot, Shravasti and Sant Kabir Nagar.
Sources also indicated that the relatively slow pace of Aadhaar enrolment may also contribute to finding an alternate route to reach the target beneficiaries. Most of the district magistrates TOI spoke to expressed confidence they would complete the list soon. P Guruprasad, DM of Etawah, said, “At present, we are focusing completely on the schemes, which we have to implement in our district, and completing all the necessary work on a priority basis, so that no beneficiary is left out.” Similar views were expressed by Amit Gupta, district magistrate of Rae Bareli.
When contacted, Balkar Singh, district magistrate of Chitrakoot, said, “There have been some technical problems during enrolment of beneficiaries, but that would be sorted out soon by the agency concerned.” DM of Shravasti Bhanu Chandra Goswami, elaborating on steps taken to meet the deadline, said, “We have started simultaneously opening bank accounts of the beneficiaries in the district and have also stepped up capture of fingerprint through biometric means. We will ensure that maximum coverage of the beneficiaries is done before the commencement of the DBT. If (in worst-case scenario), any beneficiary is left out, we may opt alternate ways, but no beneficiary would be allowed to suffer.”
When asked to comment on the current developments, CS Mishra, assistant director general of UIDAI, Lucknow regional office, said, “Our role is limited only to Aadhaar generation.” On the critical question of what would be the fate of the DBT without Aadhaar, Mishra refrained from answering.
Experts, however, argue that DBT without Aadhaar may defeat the purpose of the latter altogether. “Before rolling out the DBT, the government must ensure who are the genuine beneficiaries and they are the ones who benefit actually, so that a story of graft like in the case of MNREGS does not repeat. One of the prime objectives of Aadhaar is to eliminate duplicates and ghost beneficiaries under various schemes. This is expected to save the government exchequer a substantial amount. It will also provides governments with accurate data on beneficiaries, enable direct transfer of benefits. But, if it is bypassed conveniently, this may become the new breeding ground of corruption in India, and the magnitude of corruption would be gigantic. Apart from this, the choice of VIP districts like Etawah, Amethi and Rae Bareli has also raised doubts on the intention of DBT. This adds strength to the possibility that corruption will prevail here too,” said SN Shukla, former IAS officer.

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE – Fact Finding Report- Scrap Posco Project


We are surprised to see the Supreme Court judgment on mining lease allotment to controversial POSCO Company which has made our lives miserable. At least after the welcome judgment on Niyamgiri where the Gram Sabhas have been given the authority to decide what constitutes their rights, the natives of Khadadhar area should have asked also to decide in Gram Sabha whether such a mining was needed or not. Now asking the central government to take crucial decisions will inevitably harm the interests of Tribals protected under FRA 2006 as the central government is more than favourably disposed towards POSCO. We too strongly feel that our Gram Sabhas views so clearly and so categorically resolved on October 18, 2012 must also be considered while deciding the fate of mining involving POSCO.

The peaceful demonstration is continuing at Govindpur Village against the trench cutting work for boundary wall construction for POSCO. Today more than eight hundred villagers have assembled at the site to peacefully oppose the construction work.

On 9th May 2013, with the help of eight platoons of police forces, the Jagatsinghpur administration along with IDCO and POSCO officials started the trench cutting work for boundary wall construction for POSCO. The district administration indiscriminately axed fruit bearing trees. This shows how the police and the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police in Jagatsinghpur district, Odisha, are colluding with each other to supress our opinion and to serve the interest of POSCO Company with utter disregard for the verdict of National Green Tribunal (NGT).

Our villagers held demonstrations and raised slogans against the illegal constriction of boundary wall. This is a violation of the direction passed by National green Tribunal on 31sr 2013. As a result, the police went back.

Meanwhile a seven-member-team comprising representatives of two human rights organisations made a visit to our area and released a report. The group demanded scraping of the Posco project as it was being set up in violation of guidelines laid down in the industrial policy document of the Union government.
Report is below-
DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS FORUM (DRF)

ORGANISATION FOR PROTECTION OF DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS (OPDR)

Posco Issue – A Preliminary Report by DRF & OPDR Team

A 7 member team of two human rights organisations – Orgainisation for Protection of Democratic Rights (Andhra Pradesh) and Democratic Rights Forum is in Odisha on 4,5,6 May 2013 to look into “POSCO problem”. The immediate context of the team’s visit is opening an armed Police Camp at Village Gobindapur and the subsequent reported repression.

The Team met representatives of PPSS, CPI(ML), CPI, SUCI(C) at Bhubaneswar on May 4. The team visited the villages Dhinkia, Gobindapur, Patana, Nuagaon and Gada Kujanga on 5th. The team intereacted with scores of people in those villages, especially in Dhinkia and Gobindapur. The Team had a long talk with Mr Abhoya Sahu, the President and Sisir Mahapatra, the General Secretary of “Posco Prathirodh Samgram Samithi” (PPSS) at Dhinkia village.

We have gone through various documents like i) MOUs between POSCO and Govt. of Odisha in the year 2005, ii) Forest Rights Act, 2005, iii) Judgement of Supreme Court of India CLIA 2134 OF 2007, IV) N.C.Saxena Committee Report, v) Meena Gupta Committee Report and vi) Ray Paul Committee report.

The team members observed the area is rich with Betel vine orchids, Casuarina Plantations, live paddy fields, big and small fish ponds and many water resources, domestic backyard vegetable plots, mango trees, coconut trees, etc. We rarely found poverty stricken people in the area. It is like Nandigram of West Bengal and Kakinara coast belt of A.P.

We are informed the daily wages of agriculture labour varies between Rs.200/- and 350/- per day depending upon the nature of work and the season. It is heartening to learn that the area provides work to thousands of migrant labour from far away districts like Mayurbhanj, Keojhar $ Ganjam of Odisha in paddy fields. So the economic position of the villages in which POSCO Project is proposed to be established is bountiful and all sections of people were leading a peaceful and happy life until the Salvo of POSCO is fired upon them jointly by the Government of India and Govt. of Odisha in 2005.

For the last eight years the people are restless and passing through many sleepless nights and faced severe repression and four persons paid with their dear lives. Our team visited the house of Manas Jena, a martyr of 2 March 2013 bomb blast. This family is the worst affected in 8 years long anti-posco movement Kalandi Jana, father of Manas loosing his right leg in a bomb attack by goons of POSCO, the wife of the later committing suicide and sister of martyr Manas Jana, Kuni going through severe mental depression. According to Prashant Paikray, the spokesperson of PPSS at Bhubaneswar, around 200 cases are filed against 2000 people of the anti POSCO movement.

Issues Involved :

i) The biggest issue involved, we consider, is the life and living of the pople which given top most priority in the two most crucial chapters of Constitution of India, Directive principles and Fundamental Rights.

The argument that the Directive Principles are not maintainable in a Court of Law may be anything but spacious and many a judgements of the highest Court of India testified it. But it is painful to know that none of the Committees appointed by Government of India to study POSCO related problems have not properly investigated and reported keeping in view the Directive Principles.

ii) To whom the land belongs? Much hair-split is being done by various wings of the State including higher courts. The issue is whether the land belongs to the people or Government (s). We heard from Abhay Sahu, Leader of PPSS, the Govt of Odisha did lot of hair-split and now arguing that because the land under dispute is not a forest land between 1962-65(sic) and is saying the Forest Rights Act, 2008 does not apply. We consider this is ridiculous. It is against the reports of various committees appointed by the Central Govt. also. Who existed first on earth? People or Governemnt (s)? Every sane person agree it is People.

iii) Norms of Industrialisation : The paper of Government of India on Industrialisation unambiguously states that the land under cultivation should not be diverted to industrialisation. Everyone including the entire machinery of the state knew that 99% of the land under the three Gram Panchayats is under intensive cultivation. So the law maker has become the law breaker and hence Govt. has no locus-standi to govern. People are totally justified of their revolt from ethical, judicial as well as from Bharatiya ethos stand point of view.

Present situation :

i) In the villages the team toured, we do not come across a single person who is a votary of POSCO. In Govindapur village, the people who were pro-posco and neutral joined anti posco movement very recently and the whole village unitedly demonstrated against posco and police camp on 3 March 2013. They say the experience of the people displaced by the neighbouring oil refinery shows that if POSCO become a reality, they either become beggars in various towns of the State or go away to unknown places as migrant labour in search of work. The people say neither of the two options is acceptable.

ii) State Government established an armed Police Camp of about 10 battalions in Gobindpur Village. The police regularly patrol all the villages and threatening the people not to even sit together. The people, rightfully content, the very presence of the camp is an intereference in their otherwise peaceful way of life. They rightfully demand the immediate withdrawal of Police Camp.

Perceptions of the people about the rulers :

The perception of the whole people of the area about the Governments at the State and Centre is mirrored in the words of Chandan Mohanty, one of the evictee from his land and living in the POSCO transit camp at Badagabapur village for the last six years – “POSCO is like East India Company. There is neither a State Government nor a Central Government. POSCO is the real ruler. The Indian and Odisha Governments are mere agents of POSCO.”

Appeal of the POSCO affected villages :

Now, the trio of Government of India, Govt. of Odisha and POSCO are held bent upon establishing the project at the declared place and hence once again unleashing terror against US. A very strong statewide solidarity movement is the need of the hour. Please save us and thus save the whole people of Odisha wherein the Governments are resorting to destructive industrialisation including wreck-less mining of various minerals and diverting of huge amount of water for those purposes.

DEMANDS OF THE FACT FINDING TEAM :

We demand the State Government :

i) Immediately withdraw the police camp from the village Gobindapur which is disturbing the very peaceful way of life of the people of the 8 villages.

ii) Unconditionally withdraw all the cases filed against the people and leaders who resisted the forceful act of State in favour of POSCO. Identify the agent provocateurs of the POSCO Company, arrest and prosecute. Identify the erring officials and prosecute.

iii) Pay proper compensation to the bereaved families of those people killed in bomb blasts.

iv) Constitute a comprehensive enquiry commission, consisting eminent persons from different walks of life like eminent personalities from socio-cultural field, human rights campaigners and Bar & Bench to investigate into all aspects of the issue.

v) Withdraw the suspension of the Post Master of Dhinkia Post Office, Mr Babaji Samantaray immediately and restore postal communication to Dhinkia, Govindapur, Patana etc which is an established legal and constitutional right.

vi) Repair the road to Dhinkia via Trilochanapur and via Balitutha immediately which has become unnavigable.

vii) Scrap POSCO project because it is the violation of guidelines laid down in the industrial policy document of Government of India on against established well meaning interest of the people.

An Another Human Tragedy Crying For Solution :-

52 families of village Patana under Dhinkia Panchayat were allegedly attacked by the people of other villages immediately after Panchayat elections, 2007. The victims had approached the District Administration for protection and resolution of the dispute. Instead, the administration shifted them to a place adjacent to the village Badagabapur. These people hoped that the administration would send them back safe to their natural habitat, after few days. To their utter shock and agony, the district as well as the State Administration, in spite of repeated appeals, turned a blind eye, they complained to the visiting team. In one hour non-stop narration to the team, these people detailed their distress and difficulties at the transit camp. They stated in a single voice that they oppose POSCO in to-to. They want to go back to their own houses in Patana to live with honour and dignity. They appeal to all the democratic forces of the State to help them in this regard.

The fact finding team fully appreciate their position and a just demand and appeal to all the pro people political forces of the State to intervene in the matter and to hammer out an amicable and honourable solution.

The members of the Team are :

1. C Bhaskar Rao, General Secretary, OPDR, AP, Mob: 08121743800

2. Ch Sudhakar Rao, President, OPDR, AP

3. Ravi Palur, DRF, WB, Mob: 09433031311

4. Sunil Pal, DRF, WB

5. Sankar Das, TUCI

6. Adv Bibek Ranjan, DRF, Odisha, Mob: 9437215625

7. Pramila, AIRWO

 

Kofi Annan: Africa plundered by secret mining deals


Bauxite factory in mineral-rich Guinea (Archive shot) Under-pricing deprives Africa of much-needed money, the report says
BBC

Tax avoidance, secret mining deals and financial transfers are depriving Africa of the benefits of its resources boom, ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has said.

Firms that shift profits to lower tax jurisdictions cost Africa $38bn (£25bn) a year, says a report produced by a panel he heads.

“Africa loses twice as much money through these loopholes as it gets from donors,” Mr Annan told the BBC.

It was like taking food off the tables of the poor, he said.

The Africa Progress Report is released every May – produced by a panel of 10 prominent figures, including former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Graca Machel, the wife of South African ex-President Nelson Mandela.

‘Highly opaque’

African countries needed to improve governance and the world’s richest nations should help introduce global rules on transparency and taxation, Mr Annan said.

The report gave the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example, where between 2010 and 2012 five under-priced mining concessions were sold in “highly opaque and secretive deals”.

Kofi Annan: “Transparency is a powerful tool”

This cost the country, which the charity Save the Children said earlier this week was the world’s worst place to be a mother, $1.3bn in revenues.

This figure was equivalent to double DR Congo’s health and education budgets combined, the report said.

DR Congo’s mining minister disputed the findings, saying the country had “lost nothing”.

“These assets were ceded in total transparency,” Martin Kabwelulu told Reuters news agency.

The report added that many mineral-rich countries needed “urgently to review the design of their tax regimes”, which were designed to attract foreign investment when commodity prices were low.

It quotes a review in Zambia which found that between 2005 and 2009, 500,000 copper mine workers were paying a higher rate of tax than major multinational mining firms.

Africa loses more through what it calls “illicit outflows” than it gets in aid and foreign direct investment, it explains.

“We are not getting the revenues we deserve often because of either corrupt practices, transfer pricing, tax evasion and all sorts of activities that deprive us of our due,” Mr Annan told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

“Transparency is a powerful tool,” he said, adding that the report was urging African leaders to put “accountability centre stage”.

Mr Annan said African governments needed to insist that local companies became involved in mining deals and manage them in “such a way that it also creates employment”.

“This Africa cannot do alone. The tax evasion, avoidance, secret bank accounts are problems for the world… so we all need to work together particularly the G8, as they meet next month, to work to ensure we have a multilateral solution to this crisis,” he said.

For richer nations “if a company avoids tax or transfers the money to offshore account what they lose is revenues”, Mr Annan said.

“Here on our continent, it affects the life of women and children – in effect in some situations it is like taking food off the table for the poor.”

 

Paid news pandemic undermines democracy


May 10, 2013

P. Sainath, The Hindu

Top civil society bodies are challenging the government’s ‘counter-affidavit’ in the Paid News case which seeks to gut the Election Commission’s powers

In a major twist to the Ashok Chavan vs. Madhav Kinhalkar legal battle (more notorious as the “Paid News” scandal), leading civil society organisations and eminent individuals have approached the Supreme Court to implead themselves into the case.

Their intervention application, moved by advocate Prashant Bhushan, minces no words on their reasons for doing so. They are disturbed by “the stranglehold of money power on our electoral politics.” And by a recent move of the Union Law Ministry which could destroy the Election Commission of India’s power to disqualify candidates filing incorrect or false accounts.

The applicants for intervention hope to defeat “the nefarious design” of the Union government which seeks to “undo all the good work done by the Election Commission of India.” And which further seeks, to “unsettle the law already settled” by the Supreme Court of India. They wish to ensure that the ECI “retains the plenitude of its power and authority to safeguard the purity and integrity of the electoral process.” Which includes holding candidates to account on poll expenses.

This action follows the Union Law Ministry filing a counter-affidavit on behalf of the Government in the Ashok Chavan case. That affidavit, first reported by The Hindu on March 20, asserts that “the power of the Election Commission to disqualify a person arises only in the event of failure to lodge an account of expenses and not for any other reason, including the correctness or otherwise of such accounts.” Simply put: the government claims the ECI has no right to disqualify a candidate even if his accounts are found to be improper or fraudulent. If accepted, this would virtually gut the powers of that Constitutional body. (However, the Court is yet to give any ruling on the matter.)

Those seeking to intervene include Common Cause, a public interest body. Its legal activism on electoral matters had a role in the Supreme Court’s ordering that political parties had to file regular returns of income or invite possible penal action. Also in the line-up is the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a group at the forefront of many battles for electoral and political reforms. Vital among those, a public interest litigation (PIL) of ADR in 1999, which later saw the Supreme Court order candidates to disclose their criminal, financial and educational background prior to the polls.

That is, by filing an affidavit with the ECI. Common Cause and ADR are joined by five other civil society bodies in this application.

The line-up of distinguished individuals includes veteran journalist and editor B.G. Verghese, former Chief Election Commissioners of India (CEC) N. Gopalaswami and J.M. Lyngdoh, and former adviser to the ECI, K.J. Rao.

The immediate beneficiary of the UPA government’s attack on the ECI’s powers is the disgraced ex-chief Minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan. As former Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami has pointed out: “The government has joined Mr. Chavan in challenging the Election Commission’s power to disqualify a candidate under Section 10A of the Act for his failure to submit a correct and true rendering of his election expenditure” (The Hindu, April 17, 2013). The former CEC clearly sums up the impulse for civil society action: “The case before the Supreme Court is no longer one of Dr. Kinhalkar and others vs Ashok Chavan. It concerns every individual and institution that is uneasy about and opposed to the sway of money power in elections.” — See “Doublespeak on electoral reforms, April 17, 2013, The Hinduthne.ws/gopalaswami

Mr. Chavan not only lost his post in the fallout of the Adarsh scam, but also earned notoriety in the “Paid News scandal,” a story broken by The Hindu(See: “Is the ‘Era of Ashok’ a new era for ‘news’”, thne.ws/era-of-ashok, November 29, 2009).

Destructive

The applicants for intervention in the case note there is “a growing concern that the pandemic of Paid News is eating into the vitals of our democratic polity by compromising the purity of the elections and destroying the credibility of the print/electronic media.” They cite the case of Umlesh Yadav, MLA from Uttar Pradesh, who was disqualified by the ECI for three years. Ms Yadav had failed “to account for an expenditure of Rs. 21,250 on an advertisement that had appeared in the disguise of a news item in the Dainik Jagran,” of April 17, 2007.

They note that “Umlesh Yadav pales into insignificance in comparison to the media blitzkrieg” launched in support of Ashok Chavan’s 2009 Assembly election campaign. And that the Government of India which had ostensibly taken a strong public position on Paid News and praised the ECI’s efforts to curb it, “has filed a counter affidavit which reveals its true colours.”

The Election Commission is also likely to file an affidavit opposing the government’s pro-Chavan counter-affidavit.

psainath@mtnl.net.in

 

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