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Bridge the Gap , Bring the Change
30 Jun 2013 1 Comment
in Advocacy, Announcements, Disability, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Political Prisoners, Press Release, Prison Tags: Business, Human Rights, India, Jharkhand, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd, Noamundi, Saranda, Saranda Forest, Steel, TATA STEEL
23 May 2013 Leave a comment
SHAILESH GANDHI | 22/05/2013
Would you believe that Maharashtra loses over Rs25,000 crore annually because of carelessness or corruption, and this has not been exposed so far?
Are we really poor or are we thrust into poverty? The recent scams, which have been unearthed, give me a feeling that we may actually be quite well off with enough resources. If the lakhs of crores of public resources being given away and snatched away by the few were to come to the public exchequer, we could be quite comfortable as a nation. I have been pursuing one such scam in Maharashtra in which I believe a few thousand crores of public money is being lost to benefit a few.
Maharashtra’ debt is about Rs2.7 lakh crore, and we pay the interest for this. A state owns many resources on behalf of its citizens. One of these is land. Governments sell some of the lands and give some on lease. The idea behind giving certain lands on lease is to basically have an inflation-proof investment and sometimes, to encourage certain activities. Hence it offers lands on lease. It wishes to retain the land so that it may basically ensure that its revenue matches with the growth in inflation.
A lease is legal transaction, which primarily lays down the area that is leased, purpose for which the land is to be used, period of lease, lease rent and certain other conditions. When the lease expires, it may be renewed with the lessor increasing the lease rent as per themarket price, which reflect the inflation in the intervening period.
When any individual or institution gives land or a property on lease and the lease expires, a fresh lease is drawn up at the prevailing market rates if the lessee wants to continue. This simple principle has not been followed in Mumbai and possibly in the state ofMaharashtra. I have been told that this is true all over the country. Some leases are renewed while some are allowed to continue occupying the land at the old rates. What are the reasons for such irrational actions?
This may be due to carelessness or corruption.
I had discovered this in 2005 and drawn the attention of the chief secretary to this in a letter titled “Arbitrariness and huge loss of public money in public lands given on lease”. I have now got the scanned copy of the file relating to this which has over 600 pages over the years and has ended on a bizarre note.
The Supreme Court is the 2G case has said, “In conclusion, we hold that the state is the legal owner of the natural resources as a trustee of the people and although it is empowered to distribute the same, the process of distribution must be guided by the constitutional principles including the doctrine of equality and larger public good.” The poorest man who may be starving is an equal and rightful owner of this land, and it is necessary that the appropriate revenue is obtained for him. I looked at the list of leases of lands given by the two collectors of Mumbai (obtained in RTI) and decided to calculate the worth of the lands where lease deeds have expired and unauthorized occupiers are allowed to continue.
Let me first share the route the Maharashtra Government has decided to adopt after eightyears of confabulations: The government has decided to offer the lands to the lessees at about 20 to 30% of the value! I am shocked at this irrational action of the government and think it is about time, citizens defend their revenue by telling the government they will not accept this approach. Below are the detailed calculations…
|Note on some assumptions in calculations:
I used the Ready Reckoner rates, which are for FSI of 1 (one). I checked with some renowned architects and builders and was told that the land value for the island city is reckoned at a FSI of 3 to 5 and for the suburbs at a FSI of 2 to 4, I therefore assumed land value at FSI 3 for the city and 2 for the suburbs. In the case of the suburban collector, when I could not get the value of the land from the Reckoner I took two leases which had been given. In 2007, for an access road Rs1,062 per sq mtr had been charged; I therefore assumed a rate of Rs1,200 per sq mtr in 2013 for access roads, playgrounds, etc.
In the case of the information about leases provided by the Mumbai collector, in 103 cases there is no mention of the lease date and period of lease. Despite a specific query by me using RTI, the PIO has said they will need two to three months to provide this information!
There are also other government agencies like BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which have similar lands in Mumbai. My calculation (see box above) estimates that there is an annual loss of about Rs1,550 crore by Mumbai Collector and about Rs1,200 crore due to the suburban collector (see below), i.e. a total revenue loss of Rs2,750 crore every year.
The government now proposes to give away ownership rights to the lessees for Rs2,248 crore plus Rs1,841 crore onetime! Citizens must protest before the government dispossess us of our land and legitimate revenue.
If we can get the government to auction the leases in Mumbai and all over Maharashtrawe could have a revenue stream of over Rs25,000 crore each year. Citizens and media need to make the government get the appropriate revenue by fixing lease amounts at current rates. Also this is a revenue stream which is partial hedge against inflation, saving future generations from having to pay ever higher taxes.
(Shailesh Gandhi served as Central Information Commissioner under the RTI Act, 2005, during 18 September 2008 to 6 July 2012. He is a graduate in Civil Engineeringfrom IIT-Bombay. Before becoming a full time RTI activist in 2003, he sold his packaging business, Clear Plastics. In 2008, he was conferred the Nani Palkhivala Memorial Award for civil liberties.)
14 Apr 2013 Leave a comment
By Express News Service – JAIPUR
13th April 2013 08:52 AM
Many locals including PRI members present at a public hearing on Friday objected to proposed expansion of Mideast Integrated Steels Limited (MISL) at Kalinga Nagar industrial complex area in the district.
The villagers raised objection to organising the public hearing, convened by the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB), without prior information to them.
They alleged that it was a ploy by the company officials to ensure that villagers cannot attend it.Though around 200 people had congregated at the venue of Danagadi Bhawan under Danagadi block, only 22 of them participated in the hearing. Out of them, 17 participants opposed its expansion.
“The company has already polluted the entire area. As the nearby Gandanal, used by thousands of people, has been polluted, people residing around the plant are suffering from tuberculosis and various skin diseases. The company never provides any medical assistance to us and has never cared to improve our standard of living,” said vice-chairman of Danagadi block Sudhakar Bhanj at the meeting.
Bidyadhar Mohanty, another participant, alleged that MISL has been providing work for only six months to its workers in a year. If the company remains closed for half of the year, why should it be allowed for expansion.
Regional Officer of OSPCB Santosh Kumar Panda admitted that only 22 persons participated in the hearing.
01 Apr 2013 Leave a comment
RAJ PRADHAN | 01/04/2013 12:50 PM | Moneylife.com
Redressal of consumer complaints can entail approaching the insurance ombudsman, the consumer courts and even taking help of social media, RTI and police complaints. There are options available today to build pressure on errant service or goods providers so that they do the needful
A letter from Mohan Siroya, chairperson of the Consumer Complaints Cell, gives three examples of consumer power success using the help of the insurance ombudsman, Right to Information (RTI), social media activism and police complaints. Today, justice will be served if you are persistent in your efforts to pursue the errant service or goods provider. Aconsumer court may not be able to help in the absence of the postal address, but alternate means exists.
Case 1: A senior citizen was hospitalized in Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai. New India Assurance Company refused to pay the claim of Rs12,148 submitted in August 2010. It argued about the lack of the original hospital bill/receipt, even though the insured provided documentary proof of having submitted the same. The insurer wrote a letter to the hospital asking for certain documents, including the hospital bill. It was but natural for the hospital to write the word ‘Duplicate’ on the bill as the original was already issued at the time of discharge. The insurer refused to accept this and declined to reimburse the claimed amount.
In the complaint to the insurance ombudsman, there was a claim of not only the claim amount but also‘compensation’ for undue delay in not settling/refusing to settle the claim on a flimsy or false ground and deliberate “mental torture” caused to a senior citizen. The ombudsman passed an award granting not only of the claimed amount, but also a penalty of Rs2,000, directly favouring the complainant in settlement within three working days, failing which a fine of Rs500 would be payable by the company for each day of delay. Usually, the ombudsman does not levy penalty, but it did in this case on the insurance company for wrongful delay and refusal.
Case 2: A consumer had purchased two heaters, which were offered cheap on the Deal92.com website as an online transaction. The online payment was made through a credit card. When the consumer received the ordered goods they were found in broken and in non-usable condition. The consumer protested on the only ‘email’ address available demanding either the replacement of goods or refund of entire paid amount. There was no response even after reminders. The National Consumer Helpline was unable to take the complaint for redressal in absence of any postal address of Deal92.com. Mr Siroya took recourse of putting this complaint on social networking websites. That defiled their name and potential customers were cautioned. The aggrieved consumer was also advised to raise a formal dispute to deny the payment made to the online merchant and treat it as a fraudulent transaction. This was done and a temporary credit was given in his account. This was further refurbished, when a complaint was filed with the cyber cell regarding this online fraud and praying to ban the seller’s website. That made Deal92.com to act. They refunded the entire amount to the same credit card account.
Case 3: As a consumer activist, Mohan Siroya had filed a case at the MIDC police station for having received a threat on his mobile in May 2010, “threatening me to stop lodging complaints against the companies for Consumer Cause and Protection”. This particular case he was referring for the company “Fedders Lloyd” against which a complaint was sent by him to the then Union minister for civil supplies and consumer protection, Sharad Pawar. Another non-cognisable (NC) complaint was filed by him in the MIDC police station against a firm called “Modern Tech Services” for having failed to give the contracted service for second year of the contract. Mr Siroya tried to contact the firm’s office and proprietor but all the listed phones were not working/not in existence. A written notice was sent by Mr Siroya to the postal address printed in the contract/letter head. It transpired that now in that premises some other business, by some other party, was carried out. Mr Siroya filed a complaint of cheating and fraud for having failed to give the contracted service or refund of 50% of paid amount against the firm, whose address was now ‘Unknown’.
The police was requested to find out the person in whose account the cheque/ money was paid and his whereabouts. Mr Siroya made an application under RTI to know the progress. It came in mere two words “Under Investigation”. He then appealed to the First Appellate Authority (FAA) for specific “status/progress” of investigations made, besides complaint of delay in providing information. The FAA also simply ordered “As earlier informed Under Investigation”. The order reached Mr Siroya beyond 45 days of appeal date, thus another violation of the Act without giving any reasons for delay.
Mr Siroya went in for a second appeal to the SCIC (State Chief Information Commissioner), who within five months, heard his appeal. On the eve of hearing date, a police constable personally came to his home to deliver a letter that said, “In first NC, the police filed a case against one Mr Gupta under Section 504, 506 of IPC.” The second NC complaint against Modern Tech Services was of civil nature and I should go to the civil/consumer court,” Mr Siroya said.
In the hearing, the SCIC upheld delays under the Act and also for suppressing the available investigation progress/report on record. The Authority also agreed with the interpretation that in absence of a party whose whereabouts are unknown, is covered under ‘Fraud’ and thus the police is supposed to take cognisance of the same.
The SCIC further gave two specific directions—to summon the SPIO (State Public Information Officer) in person to explain “Why penalty under Section19 (8) (g) and Section 20 (1) should not be levied on him”, failing which orders will be passed under Section 20 (2)”. “Another landmark relief for me was that the concerned offices should furnish me an opportunity to inspect the information so far available on record on all such files free of charge. After two days, police started investigating about the address of the payee through the banking channels,” Mr Siroya stated.
The police machinery worked overtime, gave Mr Siroya updated information in both the cases, one through the CBI, as Fedders Lloyd Co was from Delhi. The other one they traced through the banking channel in Mumbai and made him to refund Rs1,000 in cash.
23 Mar 2013 1 Comment
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Prison, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tags: Bail, Business, Friday, Indian Standard Time, Pervez Musharraf, Sessions Court, Surety bond, Worli
Rebecca Samervel, TNN | Mar 23, 2013, 03.40 AM IST
“The court read out the operative part of the order and said that the bail plea was rejected,” the victim’s lawyer, Faiz Merchant, said.
On November 7, John allegedly hurled a chemical on his 26-year-old former girlfriend, physiotherapist Aryanka Hosbetkar, at her residence in Worli.
John is also facing charges of wrongful confinement and theft. He was arrested from Nalasopara on November 10.
The police said John planned the attack after Hosbetkar refused to marry him despite his promise to divorce his wife, with who he has a five-year-old son.
Opposing John’s bail application, the police said in court that if released on bail, he was likely to harm the witnesses, including the victim, and jumping bail.
John had applied for bail in December as well, but withdrawn it later.
Merchant too had filed an intervention application opposing the bail plea. “Allowing the accused to go on bail at such a premature stage would set a bad precedent in society where acid attacks are becoming more common than otherwise,” Merchant had said.
09 Dec 2012 Leave a comment
[Please use the familiar national tune and