#India- Shut all mines in tribal areas


DNA Special

Tuesday, Apr 9, 2013, 3:00 IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Tribal minister shoots letter to 9 guvs seeking cancellation of leases.

Union tribal affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo has asked governors of nine states to invoke their special powers to revoke lease agreements and MoUs signed between state governments and corporates to extract mineral wealth in tribal areas.

Pointing out that power lobbies were disregarding land regulations, he castigated the Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh government. The union minister, who is also from Andhra Pradesh, said the higher echelons of power in the state were themselves trying to brazenly distort not only the law but also  constitutional safeguards against the interests of tribal and other forest-dwellers.

In an identical letter written on April 4 to the governors of Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, the minister even linked indiscriminate mining activities to national security by propelling the Left Wing extremism.

He even went to the extent castigating his own government saying the insensitivity to the plight and problems of this entire population is the greatest challenge the nation is facing at present.

“The main threat today is the mining in Schedule V areas which has shaken the confidence and faith of the people in the region in our democratic system.”

He has reminded governors that Article 244 of the Constitution vests not only independent legislative authority on them but also allows them to restrict any law of parliament or state legislature from its implementation to a scheduled area in their states to protect rights of tribes and marginalised sections.

“The governor may repeal or amend any Act of parliament or of the legislature or any existing law which is for the time being applicable to the area in question, when good governance or peace is distributed due to issues related either with land or money lending,” writes the minister.

He further told governors that they are not bound by the aid and advice by the council of ministers under these circumstances.

The minister further urged the governors to use their executive powers and revoke lease agreements which are proving a threat to peace and good governance in these areas.

“I would like to emphasise the fact that the leases and MoUs are mere arrangement s/agreements between two parties and are not exactmetns of either assembly of parliament,” he said.

Narendra Modi’s Rs 9,000 crore gas misadventure


English: Narendra Modi in Press Conference

 

 

Kingshuk Nag
08 March 2013,

 

 

 

Rs 9,000 crore is a lot of money. But that is the cost that the denizens of Gujarat will have to bear for the adventures of their Hriday Samrat Narendra Modi. Not for all his adventures, but one particular adventure, or rather misadventure. Surprised? Read on.

 

About eight years ago in mid-2005, Mr Narendra Modi, who many ill-informed souls think is a shining example of good governance and epitome of brilliant economic administration, called for a sudden press conference on a Sunday evening in Apnu Amdavad. Over chai and pakoras, Modi made a momentous announcement. He said that the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), an arm of his government, had literally struck gold. Exploring 1,700km way in the Krishna Godavari (KG) Basin – off the coast of Andhra Pradesh – the GSPC had made a significant find of gas. The gas was to the tune of 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf), an astounding find valued at $50 billion. Modi’s men, used to exaggerating the prowess of their boss, told newspersons on the sidelines of the conference that CM sahib was being conservative and that the find could be much more! Anyway everybody was excited. If this was not Gujarat’s gaurav, what else was? So far from Gujarat, the brilliant men of Modi had conquered even the east coast and the Bay of Bengal! And what was the Andhra Pradesh government doing off whose coast Modi men had struck gas? Nothing really. When the block (size: 1,850 square km) was offered under the third round of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) in 2003, the AP government headed by Chandrababu Naidu had not bothered to put in a bid. And yet, everybody called Naidu a great liberalizer.

Buoyed by the find, Modi and his men went hyper. If they could discover gas off the east coast of India, they could find it elsewhere too. So began the big exploration rush. Egypt, Australia, Yemen, Indonesia, wherever oil blocks were being offered Modi’s men rushed to take them on (either on their own or through joint ventures). Money was no consideration and if it was, then nobody seemed to care.

 

But where would the money for all the exploration come from? Modi men decided they would borrow from the market. What after all were the markets there for?  Of course, the interest they would pay on the borrowings did not bother them. After all the gas they would find would make the GSPC enormously rich and not only be enough to pay back the interest and the principal but also make huge profits.

 

But the bubble has burst now. The whole gas exploration affair in the KG Basin in the Bay of Bengal turned out to be a damn squib. The gas find in the KG Basin in the block (called the Deen Dayal west field after former Jana Sangh president Deen Dayal Upadhyaya) being explored by the GSPC is merely 2 trillion cubic feet – that is one tenth of that claimed in 2005 originally. What is worse, nobody is sure whether this gas is recoverable and experts say that the cost of recovery is going to be very high and would require a very high level of technical expertise. Meanwhile GSPC has run debts of over Rs 9,000 crore, possibly closer to Rs 10,000 crore. GSPC on its site has not posted its annual report for 2011-12 though we are coming close to the end of financial year 2012-13. The latest report on GSPC’s site is that of 2010-11, a financial year that ended two years ago in March 2011. As per this report, GSPC had loans amounting to Rs 7,126.68 crore on March 31, 2011. A significant part of the loan – Rs 2,980.32 crore was unsecured (that is loan not backed by any collaterals). The total loan was somewhat lower in the previous year: on March 31, 2010 it amounted to Rs 6,383.83 crore.  Probably Modi is scared in putting up the report for 2011-12 because that will expose him and show how incompetent his own men are making projections of the future. Of course, there has been no press conference to announce how Modi’s oil exploration adventure has gone phut! All that the section of management discussion and analysis in the annual report of GSPC for 2010-11 says is: “KG block in Deen Dayal Field is a high temperature, high pressure, tight and deep gas field with a complex structural/stratigraphic trap involving separate fault blocks associated with rift geology…” In other words, getting gas out of the field is no easy proposition.

 

In the meanwhile GSPC has gone into allied businesses and set up subsidiaries for gas trading, gas transmission and city gas distribution among other things. This is to buoy the overall performance of the company and allow it to earn some money to pay for the loans. But if la affaire GSPC is not a good example of the poor managerial prowess of Narendrabhai Modi, what else is?

 

PS: I know this blogpost will draw abusive and vile remarks from certain quarters. I know what these remarks will be. So I appeal to those who post these remarks to desist because I know what they are going to be. Moreover I really don’t care about them!

 

 

 

Needless hysterectomies on poor women rampant across India: Study #Vaw #womenrights


Malathy Iyer, TNN Feb 10, 2013, 01.12AM IST
(Oxfam said that unnecessary…)

MUMBAI: Is India witnessing a spurt in unnecessary hysterectomies? Data released by international charity organization Oxfam on February 6 says as much. The agency said that unnecessary hysterectomies were being performed in Indian private hospitals to economically exploit poor women as well as government-run insurance schemes.

A right to information ( RTI) request filed by one of Oxfam’s local NGOs in the Dausa district of Rajasthan showed that 258 of 285 women—65%—investigated over six months had undergone hysterectomies. Many of these women were under 30, with the youngest being 18 years old.

An editorial in the British Medical Journal quoted Oxfam’s global spokesperson Araddhya Mehtta as saying that the “trend is seen all over India but is particularly disturbing in Rajasthan, Bihar and Chattisgarh where doctors simply abuse their power of being a doctor”. In 2010, the Andhra Pradesh government tweaked its state-sponsored insurance scheme to disallow hysterectomies in private hospitals after surveys revealed that uteruses of a number of beneficiaries were removed merely to claim higher insurance amounts (the state insurance scheme is only available for the economically poor sections).

Dr Duru Shah, former president of FOGSI (Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India), said that modern medicines could fix 95% of woman’s menstrual problems without the need for surgery.

However, experts fear the trend of unnecessary hysterectomies possibly exists in urban centres such as Mumbai as well.

Indeed, an audit performed by insurance companies in Chennai in 2009 had shown that more than 500 women in the 25-35 age group had undergone hysterectomies. A Central government study in the wake of the Andhra Pradesh scam had said that women under 45 rarely needed hysterectomy.

A 2011 research paper in medical journal Reproductive Health Matters, conducted by SEWA Health Cooperative doctors in Ahmedabad, showed that insured women—both in urban and rural areas—had higher rates of hysterectomy. “Among insured women, 9.8% of rural women and 5.3% of urban women had had a hysterectomy, compared to 7.2% and 4.0%, respectively, of uninsured women,” said the study.

The OXFAM report, in fact, says that India should end its public-private partnership programmes (that allow poor women with government insurance plan to undergo a hysterectomy in private hospitals) until better regulation is in place.

Oxfam official Mehtta has been quoted as saying, “When women came with abdomen pain, doctors prescribed hysterectomy to women from poor economic backgrounds, telling them that it might be a cancer or a hole or a stone in the uterus without doing any thorough necessary investigations.”
Dr Duru Shah said that unnecessary hysterectomies affected the concerned woman’s health. “A young woman who has undergone hysterectomy may suffer early menopause (stoppage of periods) and the accompanying health problems of increased risk of cardiac diseases and fractures due to brittle bones,” she said.

Dr Rekha Daver who heads the gynaecology of J J Hospital, Byculla, said, “Generally speaking, there may be a marginal increase over the years. But this may only be because women from rural areas who travel to referral centres in cities don’t want to prolong their suffering.” She said it wasn’t feasible for these women to return to cities a second time for any treatment that may be required.

Incidentally, Maharashtra doesn’t allow hysterectomies in private hospitals under the insurance scheme launched last year for the economically weaker sections, called the Rajiv GandhiJeevandayee Arogya Scheme. “We have learnt from the Andhra Pradesh experience,” said Dr K Venkatesam, CEO of the arogya scheme.

However, not all agree that hysterectomies are on the rise. Gynecologist Dr Rakesh Sinha from Mumbai said, “It would be wrong to say there is an epidemic of hysterectomies in Mumbai or India. What has changed over the past few years is that we have facilities such as USG to make early and accurate diagnosis. Moreover, there are procedures available that allow women to go home within a day or two.”

 

Andhra Pradesh fails to allocate funds stipulated for Scheduled Castes and Tribes


The deprived lot

Author(s): M Suchitra, dOWN  TO eARTH
Date: Dec 15, 2012

Andhra Pradesh fails to allocate funds stipulated for Scheduled Castes and Tribes, says Cabinet panel

K R VinayanPhoto: K R Vinayan

Had the Andhra Pradesh government abided by the plans envisaged by the Planning Commission, it would have efficiently spent thousands of crores of rupees meant to uplift the country’s two most socially backward sections. A Cabinet sub-committee, set up by the state government, has found serious lapses in allocation and utilisation of funds meant for the Special Component Plan (SCP) for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) for Scheduled Tribes (STs).

The state government was forced to appoint the sub-committee in April this year after state-wide protests. The protests followed allegations of serious irregularities in allocation and utilisation of funds meant for SCP and TSP. The allegations were made by United Action Committee, created to get funds meant for the sub-plans released. The United Action Committee comprises activists and former government secretaries. On March 26, 30,000 people from dalit and adivasi organisations, civil society and human rights groups and political parties organised a rally that proceeded to the state assembly.

The allegations were not baseless, states the nine-member Cabinet sub-committee, headed by deputy chief minister Damodar Raja Narasimha. The sub-committee submitted its report to Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy in August. “It does not require time-consuming research or analysis to conclude that SCP and TSP in Andhra Pradesh are a mere paper exercise to satisfy reporting requirements to the Planning Comm¬ission,” it notes. The state lacks proper vision, right perspective, plan of action and monitoring mechanism for SCP and TSP, states the report, which is yet to be placed before the legislative assembly.

Plan panel’s guidelines flouted

In 1976, the Planning Commission formed the sub-plans to bridge the development gap between the SC/ST communities and the socially advanced section of society. The first four Five-Year Plans, between 1951 and 1974, had miserably failed to uplift them.

According to the Planning Commission guidelines, funds for the sub-plans were to be channelised from the state’s total plan outlay in proportion to the SC/ST population. As per Census 2001, SCs constituted 16.2 per cent and STs 6.6 per cent of the state’s population. But in the last decade actual fund allocation for SCP did not go beyond 12 per cent of the state’s total budget estimate, the report states. There was shortage of Rs 4,097 crore in fund allocations. For TSP, there was shortage of Rs 568 crore in the past five years. In 2000-2001, elementary education received a negligible 0.020 per cent fund under SCP and 0.011 per cent under TSP.

“In the overall budget, it would appear the state is meticulously allocating 16.2 per cent under SCP and 6.6 per cent under TSP in the last three years. But a deeper examination of the schem¬es and allocations speaks volumes of the deceit and dishonesty associated with the SCP/TSP policy,” the report observes.

image

Schemes which do not contribute to the development of the SC/ST communities get included in the sub-plans. A strong indicator is the state’s budget plan for 2012-13. The sub-committee found as many as 157 schemes which do not qualify to exist under the sub-plans. The schemes include construction of godowns for safe custody of electronic voting machines, construction of buildings for the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Excise Department buildings, commercial tax department buildings and registration and stamps department buildings. The budget outlay for the 157 schemes is Rs 1,206.81 crore under SCP and Rs 486.52 crore under TSP.

Expenditure for the two communities has been minimal in the past few years. In 2007-08, for instance, of the state’s total plan outlay only 0.9 per cent was spent for rural development under TSP. A nominal 0.2 per cent was spent for water supply and sanitation in urban areas and 0.5 per cent on environment under TSP. Energy and transport got nothing under TSP that year. Total expenditure under social and economic services under TSP that year was 2.9 per cent.

The state government has not even issued clear guidelines for implementation of schemes under the sub-plans. “There was no serious effort to either identify the impediments in implement¬ation or to evolve strategies to overcome the impediments,” the report states.

For better implementation

The United Action Committee had demanded setting up a nodal agency to deal with the sub-plan funds and implement the plans effectively, and an Act to ensure that the funds are not misused. The Cabinet sub-committee also suggests an institutional mechanism for the sub-plans’ implementation.

It recommends that the Social Welfare Department and the Tribal Welfare Department, the nodal agencies at present, will continue to be so. However, two separate principal secretaries will deal with SCP and TSP. A group of ministers will monitor the implementation and a council headed by the chief minister will approve the plans and advise the government on SCP and TSP.

The committee suggests the proposed Act should ensure that the secretary of the Planning Department informs all the departments about the expenditures for the sub-plan each financial year.

“Why should the secretary of the Planning Department suggest sectors that need to be accorded priority?” asks K R Venu¬gopal, who has served as secretary to three prime ministers and was special rapporteur to the National Human Rights Comm¬ission. The secretary can help in effective planning, but the recommendation can be used to violate the special status and autonomy accorded to the nodal agencies, he says.

A whole new concept to give autonomy to the departments dealing with the SCs and STs is being developed to change attitude of disinterest and neglect towards them, he says. The institutional mechanism suggested by the sub-committee may adversely affect the much-fought-for autonomy of the nodal agencies. He also suggests that the sub-plans should be taken as five-year plans and the plan outlays should be made for five years.

Interestingly, despite observing four decades of gross injustice done to SC/ST communities, the sub-committee does not suggest that the state government should make up for the loss to SCP and TSP. “In the last 20 years, SCP was short of Rs 20,000 crore and TSP was short of Rs 4,000 crore. These are not small amounts,” says Venugopal. “If in a single state such a huge amount can be diverted, what must be the magnitude of funds diverted in the entire country? Should the Andhra Pradesh government not make up for the betrayal?”

 

Kovvada nuclear power plant will displace about 8,000 people



Author(s):
Issue Date:
2012-11-2, DowntoErath

Andhra government declares five villages in Srikakulam district as project affected

Proposed nuclear  
power plant site

 

 

Proposed nuclear power plant site

The Andhra Pradesh government has issued an order, notifying villages that are likely to be affected fully or partially by the proposed nuclear power plant at Kovvada in Ranasthalam block of the coastal district of Srikakulam. The order issued on November 1 by Mrutunjay Sahoo, principal secretary, states that 1,916.27 acres (1 acre equals 0.4 hectare) of land, including 604.12 acres of private land, will have to be acquired for the 6,000 MW project. As per the government’s estimation, 1,983 families (7,960 persons) in five villages will be displaced by the nuclear plant.

The government issued the notification as per the state’s policy—Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) for Project Affected Families, 2005. Villages which figure in the notification of “Project Affected Zone” are Ramachandrapuram, Gudem, Kotapalem, Tekkali and Jeeru Kovvada. The main source of income of people who would be displaced are agriculture, fishing and wage labour, notes the order.

The Department of Atomic Energy of the Central government had given in-principle approval for the 6X 1,000 MW nuclear power plant comprising light water reactors in 2009. The ambitious Rs 60,000 crore plant is being set up by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

The government order says the district collector of Srikakulam, in a letter dated June 20, 2012, has stated that the chief engineer of the NPCIL has submitted a proposal for acquiring 2,436.77 acres of land in these villages for installing the reactors, establishing a township and rehabilitating the displaced families. The state government had sanctioned a Land Acquisition Unit in last December for starting the land acquisition process by identifying the land. The acquisition of land and houses will be under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, says the order.

Land to be acquired (in acres)
Poramboke (government) land 763.51
Village sites 52.89
Assigned land (government land
distributed to the landless):
495.76
Private land 604.12
Total 1,916.27

AP govt finalises tenders for Polavaram project


 

English: The above is the photo of the Godavar...

English: The above is the photo of the Godavari River flowing through Bhadrachalam. The photo was taken in the evening when pilgrims bathe and visit the Rama temple or the Bhadrachalam Temple. Boating is also done in this area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

A. Srinivasa Rao   |   Mail Today  |   Hyderabad, July 23, 2012

 

Tags: Andhra Pradesh | Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh

 

 

The Andhra Pradesh government has finalized the tenders for the construction of the controversial multipurpose Polavaram project, over River Godavari, even as the petitions filed by the Chattisgarh and Odisha governments opposing the project are still pending in the Supreme Court.

The Polavaram project, whose total capacity is 287.47 thousand million cubic ft (tmc ft), is aimed at providing irrigation to 4.36 lakh hectares in East Godavari, West Godavari, Visakhapatnam and Krishna districts, drinking water supply to towns and villages and generating hydel power with an installed capacity of 960 MW.

The state irrigation department on Friday evening opened the financial bids for the construction of earth dam and spillway works worth Rs.4,717 crore. While the joint venture of Soma Constructions and China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) emerged as the lowest bidder (L-1) by quoting Rs.4,599 crore for the project works, another consortium of Southern Engineeing Works (SEW) and Patel Constructions was the second lowest bidder (L-2) by quoting Rs.4,655 crore. Going by the bids, the project works are most likely to be entrusted to the Soma-CGGC joint venture.

The entire tendering process kicked up a big controversy, as the irrigation department short-listed only these two consortia, while disqualifying four other contenders – Madhucon Constructions, IVRCL, Gammon India and Transtroy, which are also reputed construction companies with vast experience in irrigation projects.

The department rejected the applications of these companies on the pretext that their foreign collaborators did not register their companies in the state. This condition has been imposed only to benefit the remaining two companies – Soma and SEW, sources in the department said.

What is more interesting in the whole process is that the same two consortia were the lowest bidders in the Polavaram project tenders which were called in November last. Ironically, it was SEW-Patel consortium which was the L-1 in the previous bids, while Soma-CGGC was the L-2. The tenders were cancelled subsequently following a political controversy. One of the partners in SEW Constructions C Lakshmi Rajam was a business partner of Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K Chandrasekhara Rao in launching a Telugu daily “Namasthe Telangana.”

There were allegations that the Congress government had awarded the contract to Rajam only to dilute the Telangana statehood movement. Moreover, the SEW’s joint venture partner Patel Engineering turned out to be a blacklisted company in other states.

The government called for fresh tenders in April this year and the financial bids were opened on Friday. This time, Soma-CGGC consortium came in the first place, while SEW-Patel consortium was second. “The revised tenders will cause a loss of about Rs.477 crore to the government as the both the firms quoted higher rate this time than what they had done in November last.

While the SEW-Patel consortium, which was L-1 in November tenders, had quoted Rs.4,122 crore, the Soma-CGGC consortium, which is L-1 in the latest tenders, has quoted Rs.4,599 crore. This is despite the fact that the actual price of Rs.4,717 crore fixed by the irrigation department remains unchanged,” sources said.

The disqualified companies have raised a hue and cry over the tendering process and the selection of only two bidders for such a huge project. Some of them also raised doubts over the credentials of the Chinese partner of Soma Constructions. “There are cases against the CGGC in some countries like Nigeria, Nepal and Sudan, where it executed infrastructure projects. It is also executing a hydro-electric project in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is very sensitive in terms of India’s security concerns. We brought this to the notice of the state government, but our complaints were ignored,” an official of the Gammon India told Mail Today.

Interestingly, the Polavaram project is yet to get the final environment clearance by the Union environment ministry, though it got the clearance from the Planning Commission. In March this year, minister for environment and forests Jayanti Natarajan told the Lok Sabha that the Centre had directed the Andhra Pradesh government not to proceed with the construction work of the Polavaram project till environmental matters were decided upon.

The Chattisgarh and Odisha governments have been opposing the Polavaram project on the ground that it would submerge vast extent of forest land in their respective states. While Chattisgarh has contended that around 2015.52 hectares of land falling in south Bastar, Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, would be submerged by the dam, Odisha is arguing that as many as 13 settlements in eight revenue villages and five hamlets in Podia block of Malkangiri district covering 2,120 hectares of land would be submerged in the backwaters of the Polavaram project, which was redesigned for holding probable maximum flood (PMF) of 50 lakh cusecs, as against the original design for 35 lakh PMF.

Both the governments had filed the petitions in the Supreme Court. A special forest bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and C K Prasad is hearing the petitions.

 

 

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