Why I-T returns of Pawar, Jindal and Gandhi are exempted from #RT ?


Sharad Pawar speaks at BISA launch

 

 

 

VINITA DESHMUKH , Moneylife.com| 24/04/2013 

 

Income Tax authorities have denied information about I-T returns of 22 MPs, including Sharad Pawar, Naveen JindalManeka Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Beni Prasad Verma, Ajit Singh and Lalu Prasad Yadav and 20 MLAs. After suspending the hearing 27 times for over three years, the CIC has given the MPs and MLAs three weeks to file their replies
It often takes just one election victory of five years—for Members of the Parliament and Legislative Assemblies to get stinking rich, what with their wealth increasing a 1,000 times, in some cases.
According to a research carried out by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), the Lok Sabha MPs (2004-2009) have had an average increase in assets to the tune of 289% or Rs2.9 crore per MP within five years.
As for the MPs from the Rajya Sabha, BJP has 14 out of 16 candidates who are crorepatis, followed by Congress with 12 crorepati candidates out of 15 candidates. “There is also the issue of conflict of interest,” says Anil Bairwal of ADR. “58% of the Rajya Sabha members are ‘crorepatis’ with flourishing professional practices, shareholding in media, infrastructure, hospitality besides paid consultancy and other engagements,” he adds.
Thus, Bairwal says, “Going by the swelling in the pouches of our MPs and MLAs in the 2009 elections, it is extremely desirable that their I-T returns are made public. The recent increase in the assets of Members of Parliament (MPs) portrays some figures which appear lopsided and doubtful. There are parliamentarians who have increased their assets more than one thousand times over while in Parliament. Furthermore, what is the foundation of this breeding money among the political parties, nobody knows.”
Bairwal has filled innumerable RTI applications in the relevant Income Tax offices of the 22 MPs and 20 MLAs, which he zeroed on, considering the increase in their assets between 2004 and 2009.  His RTIs, which were filed in 2010 were stonewalled by all the respective Public Information Officers and Appellate Authorities. In fact, his second appeal with the Central Information Commission (CIC) was suspended 27 times until it was finally heard on 16 April 2013, a good three years later. Once again, three more weeks have been given to reply.
The prominent names in the list of 22 MPs and 20 MLAs whose I-T returns were asked for under RTI are Sharad Pawar, Naveen Jindal, Maneka Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Beni Prasad Verma, Ajit Singh and Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Bairwal has asked for the following information in his RTI application:
1. Whether the MPs/MLAs who fall in your jurisdiction have filed their I-T returns for all the five years (2004-2009)
2. Please provide the years for which these MPs have not filed their returns
3. Please provide details of the -IT return & assessment orders for all the years for which they have filed.
Apart from the RTI application, Bairwal also separately requested all Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs to disclose their I-T returns in larger public interest. Says Bairwal, “Some of these MPs sent us their I-T Returns and insisted that we make them public on our website whereas others uploaded them on their own website. We also came across some MPs and MLAs who have already submitted their I-T returns along with the respective chief minister’s office and the prime minister’s office.’’ In all, 28 of them including Anu Aga and Ambika Soni have revealed their I-T returns – (see box below).
As per the press release issued by ADR on 16 April 2013 “Of the 20 MPs whose I-T returns were asked for under RTI, the details of only three MPs—Mr Baju Ban Ryan MP from Tripura East constituency), Mr Shafiqur Rahman Barq (MP from Sambhal constituency of Uttar Pradesh) and Ms Usha Verma (MP from Hardoi constituency of Uttar Pradesh) were made available by the Public Information Officers (PIO). The I-T returns of others MPs were denied under various sections, like 8(1)(j), 8(1)(d), 11(1) and 11(3) of the RTI Act. TheRTIs of seven MPs were transferred but lost in transit hence no information was available.”
At the CIC hearing, representatives of 10 out of 20 MPs were present. The public information officers who denied the information stating lack of larger public interest and the representatives of MPs/ MLAs were invited for the hearing. The bench comprised Information Commissoners (IC) Mr ML Sharma, Ms Annapurna Dixit and Mr Rajiv Mathur.
The three CICs repeatedly questioned the representatives of the MPs as to how disclosing of their I-T returns was not in larger public interest. They repeatedly referred to the Supreme Court judgment which made declarations of assets and other details mandatory at thetime of contesting elections.. However, no arguments were put forth by the Public information Officers of the I-T department who had initially denied providing the information stating lack of public interest, states the press statement of ADR.
Mr Bairwal argued that there is overriding public interest in I-T returns of the MPs and that most of the requested information was already in public domain as the total income filed in the latest I-T returns of all candidates have to be provided in their affidavits along with their nomination papers to the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Mr Bairwal stated during the argument at the CIC that, “the Supreme Court has deliberated in detail on this issue while directing the ECI to collect and make public the information on assets of the contesting candidates at the time of elections through affidavits. The Supreme Court of India had specifically noted through its decision on 13 March 2003 (Writ Petition No. 490/509/515 of 2002) that asking for asset details of the parliamentarians/legislatures does not invade the privacy of the individual.”
Amongst the arguments put forth by representatives of MPs, Mr Ajith Singh’s senior advocate argued “that if the MPs are considered public servants, the I-T returns of every public servant should be requested for; lawyers of Mr Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia argued that any tax payer serves larger public interest by paying tax hence their personal information cannot be made available in the public domain; the representative of Kumari Selja when asked if he would be willing to declare his/his client’s I-T returns, stated that “rule of privacy will prevail” and “I am not obliged under law to declare my I-T returns in the public domain”.
The attendees included lawyers, chartered accountants and representatives of Mr Uday Singh, Ms Maneka Gandhi, Mr Sachin Pilot, Mr Dushyant Singh, Kumari Selja, Mr Beni Prasad Verma, Mr Ajith Singh, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mr T R Baalu.
The CIC has given three weeks’ time for the representatives of the MPs to provide a copy of their written submissions after which it will give its decision.
Says Mr Bairwal, “Tax returns of Parliamentarians are voluntarily being disclosed in countries like the US and UK. Presidential tax returns in the United States are available online. Like all other citizens, US presidents also enjoy the protection of their privacy, but they chose to release their tax returns publicly. Tax returns of Barack Obama, George W Bush and others are available online. (www.Presidentsusa.net). Their tax returns are open for public scrutiny and such sort of a transparency is truly commendable. Our parliamentarians should also do likewise as this will underline the faith of the citizens in the representatives chosen by them…”

State Average asset in 2007(Rs) Average asset in 2012(Rs) Percentage
Goa 2.91 crore 7.65 crore 163%
Punjab 5.73 crore 9.17 crore 60%
Uttar Pradesh 98.05 lakh 3.10 crore 217%
Uttaranchal 83 lakh 2 crore 177%
Manipur 20 lakh 1 crore 492%
The timeline of events for MP I-T returns case
1. 22 February 2010: An RTI was filed with the respective I-T departments to retrieve I-T Returns of 20 MPs with exponential growth in assets between two elections.
2. 6 May 2010: First Appeal with I-T department for follow up on information denied under Sections 8(1)(j), 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act
3. 20 August 2010: Second Appeal with Central Information Commission.
4. 20 April 2012: Notice for the first hearing at CIC sent to concerned parties.
5. 3 May 2012: First hearing with the CIC takes place for MP Uday Singh and MP Dushyant Singh
6. 8 November 2012: Notice for second hearing of CIC was sent to concerned parties in the case.
7. 22 November 2012: Second hearing at CIC takes place. Press Release for this CIC hearing to make MP I-T Returns public.
8. 22 November 2013: Submission No. I filed with the CIC on the day of this hearing.
9. 7 March 2013: Notice for the hearing of the full bench of CIC sent to concerned parties.
10. 4 April 2013: Submission No. II filed with the CIC based on voluntary disclosure by MPs prior to the full bench hearing.
11. 12 April 2013: Larger Bench of CIC to hear the case on making income tax returns of MPs public.
12. 16 April 2013: Hearing with the larger bench at CIC takes place.

 

Those who voluntarily put their Income Tax returns in the public domain
S No Name State Constituency Party MP/MLA ITR
1 Neeraj Shekhar UP Ballia SP MP LS ITR
2 Sadashiv Dadoba Mandlik Maharashtra Kolhapur IND MP LS ITR
3 Abhijit Mukherjee West Bengal Jangipur INC MP LS ITR
4 Mirza Mehboob Beg J&K Anantnag J&K National Conference MP LS ITR
5 Bijoy Krishna Handique Assam Jorhat INC MP LS ITR
6 Arnavaz Rohinton Aga Maharashtra NIL Nominated MP RS ITR
7 Raju Anna Shetty Maharashtra Hatkanangle Swabhimani Paksha MP LS ITR
8 Dr Ajoy Kumar Jharkhand Jamshedpur JVM MP LS ITR
9 Mandagadde Rama Jois Karnataka Karnataka BJP MP RS ITR
10 Dinesh Trivedi West Bengal Barrackpur AITC MP LS ITR
11 Vilas Baburao Muttemwar Maharashtra Nagpur INC MP LS ITR
12 Baishnab Charan Parida Orissa Orissa BJD MP RS ITR
13 Tathagata Satpathy Orissa Dhenkanal BJD MP LS ITR
14 Baju Ban Riyan Tripura Tripura East CPI(M) MP LS ITR
15 Sudip Bandyopadhyay West Bengal Kolkata Utter AITC MP LS ITR
16 Subodh Kant Sahay Jharkhand Ranchi INC MP LS ITR
17 Pratik Prakashbapu Patil Maharashtra Sangli INC MP LS ITR
18 Mahadeo Singh Khandela Rajasthan Sikar INC MP LS ITR
19 Ajay Maken Delhi New Delhi INC MP LS ITR
20 AmbikaSoni Punjab Punjab INC MP RS ITR
21 Sadanand Singh Bihar Kahalgaon INC MLA ITR
22 Pramod Kumar Bihar Motihari BJP MLA ITR
23 Subodh Roy Bihar Sultanganj JDU MLA ITR
24 Virendra Beniwal Rajasthan Lunkaransar INC MLA ITR
25 Rajkumar Sharma Rajasthan Nawalgarh INC (contested on BSP ticket) MLA ITR
26 Rajendra Pareek Rajasthan Sikar INC MLA ITR
27 Murari Lal Meena Rajasthan Dasua INC (contested on BSP ticket) MLA ITR
28 Hema Ram Choudhry Rajasthan Gudamalani INC MLA ITR

(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet – The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart – Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

 

Maharshtra – 2012 drought worse than in 1972; study blames govt mishandling


Ketaki Ghoge , Hindustan times , April 4, 2013

MUMBAI: The drought looming in one-third of the state has been compared to that in 1972. Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, among others, termed it as worse than the one the state faced 40 years back.

The answer to this remark can be traced more to the government’s failure in agriculture and water management than nature’s wrath.

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), a network of organisations working on water- related issues, compared and analysed rainfall figures from June to October in 1972 and 2012 in 17 drought-affected districts and found that rainfall in 1972 was much lower than in 2012 for every month except June.

The figures show that in 2012, eight districts witnessed more than 50% deficit rainfall in June, none in July, three districts had 50% deficit rainfall in August, one district in September and two districts in October.

In 1972, three districts witnessed more than 50% deficit rainfall in June, nine districts in July, nine in August, six in September and 17 in October.

In 1971 too, rainfall was low. But in 2011, the rainfall was above average and most of the dams were full.

SANDRP argued that in the intervening 40 years, Maharashtra has been able to build big dams and it should have been able to store more water and reduce the impact of rainfall deficit. However, big dams starting with Jayakwadi, Ujani and Dudhana have nearly 0 % live storage as of now.

One of the reasons that SANDRP attributes this to is sugarcane farming. Overall, the area under sugarcane in Maharashtra increased from 167,000 hectares in 1972 to 102,2000 hectares in 2012. “Solapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, Satara, Sangli, Jalna, Osmanabad, Beed, Latur, Nasik, Parbhani and Aurangabad , all drought prone and drought affected districts of the state, are also major sugarcane producing districts. They collectively produce 79.5 % of sugarcane of Maharashtra and more than a quarter of sugarcane production of the country in 2012,” said Himanshu Thakkar of SANDRP. The repeated drought cycle has not stopped farmers from taking up sugarcane farming and the government has failed to put any restrictions on this waterguzzling farming or control water releases upstream from the big dams.

Research by South Asia

#India- How to get justice from errant service or goods providers ? #mustshare #RTI


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.

#India- Price of asking a question to a Minister #Chhattisgarh #torture #Foe #FOS


The Price of a Question

The price of a question

The Price of a Question

I am yet to recuperate from the I trauma I have been through after I innocently asked a question to Chief Minister Raman Singh at a public function at Raipur on October 7. I wonder if I will ever be able to bury the harrowing memories and move on in life.

The traumatic experience of being kicked, slapped, and punched by the cops outside the venue of the meeting and later inside a police station that day still plays in my mind when I retire to bed, giving me shudders in my sleep. The physical and mental agony caused by the police brutality has turned my life into a living hell. I am completely shattered, broken, and devastated now.

Although I am a Congress activist and general secretary of the youth wing of the Raipur Lok Sabha unit of the party, my decision to put forth a question to the chief minister at the farmers’ meet organized by Indira Gandhi Agriculture University had nothing to do with politics. In fact, I attended the event to submit a memorandum to Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who inaugurated the meet, to bring into focus discrepancies between actual agriculture production in the state and the figures shown by the state government, established by RTI replies. But, Mr Pawar refused to accept the memorandum.
I could not resist the impulse to ask the chief minister to explain the reason behind the anomaly between production of paddy and the actual area under cultivation, when the latter made tall claims on the progress made in the agriculture sector in the state in his speech. I was utterly shocked to find him seething in anger and behaving in a manner on becoming of a chief minister, when I raised the issue armed with necessary documents at the function.

“Daru piker aya hai… ise uthakar le jao…“ (He is drunk… Throw him out…)”, the chief minister ordered the policemen, adding, “Na jane log kaise din mein bhi pite hain (I do not understand how some people consume liquor in the day).

Soon I was whisked away from the venue by policemen and taken to a nearby secluded place where I was beaten mercilessly.

I pleaded them not to hurt me since I am not an anti-social person. I was screaming in pain as the policemen went on raining blows on my face.

Later, I was shoved into a waiting police van. My ordeal did not end there and in fact it dawned on me that it had only begun. One police inspector sitting beside me on the backseat of the van started slapping me while another one grabbed me tightly. When I tried to dodge his punches, he hit me with his elbow on my back, straight into my ribs. I felt nauseous and cried in excruciating pain. I was taken to Tikrapara police station, where I was delivered blows on my stomach and face and kicked like a football by a police inspector. The torture continued for about 15 minutes.

He stopped tormenting me only when I threatened to commit suicide to escape persecution. I was then pushed into the lockup after being stripped of all my clothes barring the underwear.

I got a breather, but only for a few moments. About ten minutes later, a police officer surfaced in the police station. I was produced before him. He looked at me menacingly and asked me who planted me in the crowd to ask uncomfortable questions to the chief minister.

When I tried to convince him that it was not pre-planned, the police officer started smacking me on my ears with his both hands simultaneously for about two to three minutes. He only withdrew when he got tired and slumped onto a chair.

In that condition, I was produced before a local court, which sent me to jail. It was around 3 pm when I was taken to Raipur Central Jail. The jail authorities, however, refused to accept me when I complained that my head was reeling and there was pain in my stomach and back. Following this, I was brought to Raipur District Hospital for a medical checkup.

The hospital, however, referred me to the Ambedkar Medical College and Hospital at Raipur, where an X-ray was done on my back.

I was again taken to jail. The authorities admitted me into the jail hospital at night. The next morning, I was shifted to a prison cell where I had to share the room with hardcore criminals. I spent two days and two nights in jail. During that period, I had a lurking fear of threat to my life. I could hardly take the food given in the jail owing to illness. To my amazement, my fellow jail mates took care of me and their comforting words had a soothing effect on me.

What an irony! Humanity is imprisoned, whereas beastliness is set free.

After my release from jail on a personal bond, my family members admitted me to a private hospital. Medical tests there have confirmed loss of hearing and perforation in my left eardrum. Doctors recommended surgery to repair the damaged eardrum.

I am grateful to the media for highlighting my plight all through the ordeal. It is the media, which helped me the most during the crisis. This was the first time in my eight-year long political career; such inhuman cruelty was meted out to me by the government.

But more than the police torture, the chief minister’s irresponsible remarks, dubbing me a drunkard, did immensely harm my family and me. I am now determined to bring to book all my persecutors, who hurt me physically, mentally and socially. I will not rest till then.

Immediate Release-Lavasa Case : Medha Patkar Demands Resignation of Sharad Pawar


 

 

Sharad Pawar should Follow Ajit Pawar and Must Resign

 

New Delhi, October 19 : Lavasa is in the air again. Corruption of one politician after another in nexus with the builders and corporations are getting exposed. The scandals which were already investigated and prosecution initiated also are to be re-viewed in the renewed context and taken to a conclusion. Illegalities and corruption in Adarsh Housing Society, Lavasa Hill City project, Hiranandani Garden, Shivalik Devlopers Golibar project, etc are some of those excavated by the National Alliance of People’s Movements after years of persistent struggle, digging out of documents, analyzing those, challenging them in ministries, Courts and mobilizing the people directly affected on the ground.

 

In case of Lavasa, politician of the stature of Sharad Pawar and his family members, Supriya Sule and her husband Sadashiv Sule have invested crores of rupees and erected more than 250 buildings in the Mosey River Valley without the legally mandatory clearance from the center in close collaboration with the Lavasa City Corporation. 26% of the shares of Lavasa Corporation Ltd, were owned by Supriya Sule and her husband when these illegalities and irregularities occurred. They can claim their innocence since they sold their shares, but the fact remains that they benefitted from this illegality and equally share responsibility when the corrupt and illegal land diversions took place. They used their political influence to benefit LCC and accord all clearances.

 

The deal involves large scale transfer of 3,300 acres of land, in violation of ceiling laws, EIA notification and other laws by government of Maharashtra to Lavassa Corporation. The land includes Krishna Valley Dev. Corporation (141 hectares), ceiling land supposed to be allotted to the landless (907 hectares), and an additional ceiling land acquired for Lavassa (273 hectares), illgeally acquired from adivasis and OBC communities, in complete violation of law. The claim made by Mr. Sharad Pawar that some of the land was under water, in response to the allegations by Mr. Y.P. Singh, the advocate in the case filed by the National Alliance of People’s Movements and other voluntary organizations, is half truth. He conceals the fact that diversion of the land once acquired for the reservoir and already submerged could not be done to a Corporation for reclamation or any other use. The land on the bank of the reservoir with water partially reserved for the Pune City, was also allotted to Lavasa Corporation. A number of cases where farmers lands were obtained by a number of dealers / agents, for meager amounts, and many other fictitious land deals took place, but ultimately mutated in favour of Lavasa.

 

In addition, illegally cutting off hills and rocks, building river bunds in the back waters exhibiting a political expediency and the interference lead to gross violations of lawm which was ultimately proved and accepted by MoEFNone else, but Mr. Sharad Pawar the Union Agricultural Minister, then and now, as well as Late Sri Vilasrao Deshmukh, former chief Minister of Maharashtra, were responsible for by passing the objections raised by certain middle level officials as the documents indicate. Mr Pawar has often termed this as his ‘dream project’ and which has also been hailed by many as the way to build private cities and hill stations. A town built violating all the norms, is that the way to build future cities ?

 

A People’s Commission of enquiry into the Lavasa scandal was appointed by NAPM, with Senior Advocate Sri. Y.P. Singh, Sri. Arvind Kejriwal, Advocate N.D. Suryavanshi, and Sri S.M. Mushrif (Telgi Scam Fame – Former IG of Mumbai) as members. NAPM unearthed the documents and also collected the Primary data; however, following the report brought out by the Commission, NAPM took up the baton and filed a case in the Mumbai High Court with Sri. Y.P. Singh as its advocate and questioned the clearance granted to Lavasa by the State authorities rather than Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, as required under the Environmental guidelines.

 

It was a result of various orders of the Mumbai High Court that the MOEF had to investigate into the environmental sanctions and actions at Lavassa and finally order a stay on the project. As also, give a hearing to the NAPM team and the Lavasa representatives at the Ministry on various environmental aspects. What followed was the complete stay on Lavasa by the Ministry. The High Court put a stamp on the same through more than one order in 2010 itself. However it was after Sri. Sharad Pawar met Smt. Sonia Gandhi that the MoEF gave a conditional clearance to Lavasa not for any further area to be covered but only 2000 hectares i.e. 5000 acres out of the total initial plan of 25,000 acres in 20 villages.

 

In an eco-sensitive zone of western ghats recently studied by Madhav Gadgil, recommending, no ecologically destructive activities, the Lavasa tourism project in the name of a Hill City, is therefore, not only misappropriation of crores of rupees worth land but also irreversible damage to the ecosystem of the Mose River Valley in Western Ghats.

 

Mr. Y.P.Singh who pleaded the Lavasa case in the High Court on behalf of NAPM and other environmental NGOs has rightly pointed out that Lavasa is of the Major scams, which any anti-corruption campaign should take up demanding resignation from the Union Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar. We also support his position that Criminal cases need to be filed against all those responsible including the politicians. However, it is not NAPM’s intention to blame anyone for not raising this issue as the matter is before the High Court. The Maharashtra Govt. has taken some action such as filing a criminal case against the 15 office bearers of Lavasa, but it has failed to act against the politicians including Mr. Ajit Pawar who is already implicated in the irrigation scam recently exposed.

 

What is most condemnable is that the Lavasa Corporation has been advertising its real estate properties to be sold out and pooh-poohing its environmental protective measures and whole of its plan as being legal which in fact is in contempt of the High Court Orders and exhibits non-compliance of conditions laid down by MoEF which too is subject to the High Courts Permission to the Project. NAPM once again asserts that the State Govt. of Maharashtra, its department of Environment as well as Revenue and the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests must immediately take cognizance of the same and compel Lavasa to Suspend its work, Stop harassment of the adivasis and other farmers, and investigate the fraudulent land transfers and return the land to the original lawful owners and punish all those guilty of Squandering crores of rupees from the state exchequer as well as invaluable public property.

 

Medha Patkar, Suniti S.R( 020- 24251404), Vishwambhar Chaudhary, Prasad Bagve, Dnyaneshwar Shedge.

 

Brief Chronology of the NAPM’s agitation and Actions against Lavasa Hill City Project

 

2006 : Villagers from Mugav, Vasave, Bhoini approach Suniti S R, NAPM National Convener based in Pune and seek their help in fighting illegal transfer and acquisition of their land.

 

March 2007 : NAPM takes a yatra in the region covering the SEZs around Pune including Mahindra Karla SEZ (now scrapped), Tata dams affected areas and also holds a big rally in Basave, Medha Patkar, NAPM National Convener, also participates in that. ON the same day a dharna is also held infront of the Pune Collectorate demanding action against the illegal land transfer.

 

October 15 – 21 : NAPM holds massive dharna of all the project affected people in Azad Maidan, Mumbai. Government promises action within a month on various demands of the movement. Unsatisfied by the response NAPM announces establishment of aPeople’s Commission of Enquiry with Arvind Kejariwal, Y P Singh, SM Mushrif and Nirmalkumar Suryavanshi.

 

2009 : Project affected people of the Lavasa Hill City form Mose Khore Bachao Jan Andolan which is affiliated to National Alliance of People’s Movements.

 

April 20, 2009 : Commission submits its interim report to NAPM, which send it to the Maharashtra Government and to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Central Government citing various violations on environmental front including EIA violations, illegal transfer of adivasi land, encroachment of government land etc.

 

September 1, 2010 : Deputation to the Narayan Rane, who again promises action against the alleged violations as brought out in the commission report and repeats the same on September 3 in Delhi. However, he changes his position on September 15 and says that the Lavasa project can be regualirsed inspite of the violations.

 

September 2010 : NAPM sends a legal notice through Advocate Y P Singh to the Maharshtra government, Central MoEF and Lavasa City Corporation (LCC)

 

October 15, 2010 : NAPM files a PIL in Mumbai High Court, case no. 90/2010

 

November 21-23, 2010 : NAPM along with others hold a demonstration in Delhi on the issue of forcible land acquisitions, displacement and repeal of the land acquisition act and meets Jairam Ramesh, Minister MoEF.

 

November 23, 2010 : MoEF orders show cause notice to the Lavasa Hill City Project citing various environmental violations.

 

December 9, 10, 14, 2010 : MoEF invites representation from LCC and NAPM on the various alleged violations.

 

January 5 – 7, 2011 : An MoEF Expert Committee makes a visit to the project cite. NAPM also makes a presentation to the team.

 

January 17, 2011 : MoEF in its final order accepts various environmental violations under EIA 1994, 2004 and 2006 and orders stay on any further construction and orders Maharashtra government to take appropriate action. LCC challenges it in the Mumbai High Court.

 

February 2011 : Conditional Clearance is given by the MoEF but LCC doesn’t accept it and asks for a out of court settlement.

 

March 30, 2011 : Learned Judge of the Court Ranjana Desai says if LCC wants they can go for out of court settlement bur refuses to lift the stay order on construction.

 

November 9, 2011 : Final clearance by MoEF is given after Mr. Pawar brings political pressure from Centre, by then Smt Jayanti Natarajan has taken over from Mr. Jairam Ramesh. NAPM challenges it in the Mumbai Court on which the hearing is still going on.

 

 

 

===============================================

National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office: Room No. 29-30, 1st floor, ‘A’ Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai – 400 014;
Ph: 022-24150529

6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316
Web : www.napm-india.org

Twitter : @napmindia

 

India- Govt to bring essential medicines under price control #goodnews


 

, TNN | Sep 28, 2012, 12.54AM IST

Govt to bring essential medicines under price control
Once these essential medicines are brought under Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), it cannot be sold at a price higher than that fixed by the government.
NEW DELHI: India will, for the first time, put a cap on the maximum price at which essential drugs, like some commonly used anti-AIDS and anti-cancer drugs, besides a horde of painkillers, anti-TB drugs, sedatives, lipid lowering agents and steroids, can be sold in the country.

In a landmark decision, a group of ministers (GoM) headed by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday cleared the proposal to bring all 348 drugs on the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) under price control. These drugs, with annual sales of around Rs 29,000 crore, account for about 60% of the domestic market.

Once these essential medicines are brought under Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), it cannot be sold at a price higher than that fixed by the government.

The GoM, which included health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, decided on a “weighted average price formula”. This means the average price of all the brands sold in individual segments with a minimum market share of 1% will be the maximum retail price now.

The GoM will send its recommendations to the Cabinet within a week for approval. “The proposal will now go to the Cabinet which will take the final view,” Pawar said.

Prices rose 40% in 10 years

At present, the government, through the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), controls prices of 74 bulk drugs and their formulations. Drug prices have shot up phenomenally in India over the past decade and a half. There was a nearly 40% rise in all drug prices between 1996 and 2006. However, during the same period, the price of controlled drugs rose by 0.02%, while those in the Essential Drug List (EDL) increased by 15%. The price of drugs that were neither under price control nor under the EDL grew by 137%.

Interestingly, experts say there could a small downside to the proposal. “Price of costly drugs will definitely come down. But because the formula will put a cap on the MRP, the price of drugs for the same ailment, which are presently sold at a lower price, will go up,” experts said.

Minister of state for chemicals and fertilizers Srikant Jena said, “The GoM arrived at a consensus on the option which entails the use of weighted average prices for all the drugs which have a market-share of more than 1%.”

The concept of essential medicines, first introduced by the World Health Organization in 1977, has been adopted by many countries including India.

The list includes the most cost-effective medicines for a particular indication. Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority healthcare needs of the majority of the population. The list is specific to India and addresses the disease burden of the nation besides being the commonly used medicines at primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare levels.

The latest NLEM 2011 has 348 medicines which cover 489 formulations, including 16 fixed dose combinations. These drugs are considered to be adequate to meet the common contemporary health needs of the general population of the country.

Planning Commission panel had suggested that all drugs on the NLEM should be brought under price control since the cost of medicines constitutes over 60% of the total cost of healthcare of Indians. The commission’s report had said, “Taking advantage of lax regulations on drug pricing, the pharmaceutical industry has been able to reap high margins through complex price setting activities.”

It added, “It has been observed that the price of a therapeutically similar drug could vary around 1,000% between the most expensive and the cheapest brands. The variation between the market and procurement price of similar drugs could range anywhere between 100% and 5,000%. The panel recommends price control on all formulations in the EDL.”

The report said direct price control should be applied to formulations rather than on basic drugs.

A note prepared by the drug controller general of India and available with TOI says, “A total of 348 medicines excluding repetitions are present in NLEM 2011. In NLEM 2011, 181 medicines fall under the category of primary, secondary and tertiary use, 106 medicines fall under category of secondary and tertiary use while 61 medicines are categorized as tertiary use only. In comparison to NLEM 2003, number of medicines deleted is 47 and 43 medicines have been added.”

It added, “Out of the 348 medicines, 37 medicines are currently under prices control by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority.”

 

Team Anna lived by the media and is dying by the media #IAC #Janlokpal #Annahazare


 

Anna Hazare on Fast unto Death

Anna Hazare on Fast unto Death (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

A media creation

 

Sujata Anandan, Political Editor, Hindustan Times
August 01, 2012

 

 

 

When the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement, with Anna Hazare at its head, began their protests amid much excitement and frenzy last year, I was among the first to say that it left me cold, reminding me suspiciously of a real life Peepli Live from Jantar Mantar

More than once in this column, too, I have stretched my neck and stated that Anna and his “team’’ are a media creation – essentially the electronic media and mostly by those from outside Maharashtra who had had no idea about what this so-called Gandhian was all about.

The amount of abuse I received from 18 year-olds to 80 year-olds, all of who mistakenly believed that I was supporting corruption rather than pointing out the truth, was truly unbelievable. But while the rest of the world was ecstatic at discovering this so-called Gandhian – an insult to Mahatma Gandhi, given the vast difference between the intellect of the original and the wannabe – at least media persons in Hazare’s home state knew what he was all about: a flip-flop man who sailed with the wind and who believed everything he heard, without checking out the facts for himself and a tinpot dictator in his own village. But more importantly, even in the 1990s, without the advantage of so many TV channels, a media creation by those of us who were absolutely enthralled at the manner in which he seemed to take on the mighty (chief minister) Sharad Pawar. He was then supported by Shiv Sena boss Bal Thackeray but, being easily influenced, he went hammer and tongs at Thackeray, too, in no time at all.

And how he was manipulated by his handlers became very apparent when he thought he was exploding a real estate scam against then deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde – but all that he ended up doing was hurting Munde’s family by bringing his private liaison with a tamasha dancer into the public domain.

However, what took the cake was that while he was exposing corruption against the ministers in the Maharashtra government, his own Hind Swaraj Trust was found guilty of misappropriation of funds – a fact ratified by a judicial commission and one to which Anna admitted and apologised. The media disillusionment with Anna was by then complete. But neither the ministers at the Centre in the UPA nor the people outside Maharashtra knew what Anna was all about. Rather than relying on the three former CMs from the state in the Union Cabinet (Sharad Pawar, Vilasrao Deshmukh and SushilKumar Shinde) to neutralise Hazare, the government was taken in by all the media hype, only to accord the movement the legitimacy it did not deserve.

“They should have made use of me long before they did,’’ Deshmukh told me recently. Deshmukh had Anna’s measure but so did Pawar and Shinde, all of who had played him along through various agitations while at the same time meeting him halfway on his demands that did succeed in cleaning up their governments and getting rid of some corrupt elements (the IAC hasn’t even come close). However, as one senior All India Congress Committee general secretary told me some months ago, “Our ministers just sit before television and believe that everything that is hyped up on this or that popular channel is the gospel truth. They have added to the myth of Anna Hazare.’’

But now that myth has been busted – by those in the media outside Maharashtra (remember how Anna left the Bombay media cold last December, leading to the downfall of his movement?), given that the contradictions in Team Anna are now starkly visible, as are the differences between them, the scams against various members and, more importantly, the dwindling crowds at IAC rallies.

But while people like Shanti Bhushan were quite happy to go along with the very same media `looping’ images of crowds throughout the day last year that made the movement larger than life, they seem to now have a serious problem with the thin crowds at the IAC rallies being similarly looped through the day. And though there are other reasons for the thin crowds (lack of RSS participation, for example), I guess it is only Anna Hazare (and not those who actually abused the media) who apologises because he alone has past experience of what it means to live by the sword and die by the sword: the media, in this regard.

I guess the IAC’s Peepli Live moment is now well and truly over.

 

 

 

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