September 3, 2012*
*Extremely weak, inadequate non-audit?*
The CAG issued a press release on Aug 31, 2012 for its “Performance Audit Report No. 10 of 2012-13” of hydropower projects for the 11th 5-year plan ending on March 31, 2012. This CAG audit is an extremely weak and inadequate work of the CAG. In fact it does not really audit the performance of hydropower projects at all. The audit fails to raise many of the fundamental issues related to the hydropower projects. It does not draw strong enough conclusions that are warranted based on its audit. Its recommendations are even weaker and do not address the issues raised in the conclusions. It seems like more of a business as usual, status quoits effort that does not do justice to the formidable reputation that the CAG has attracted through some of its exemplary work over the years and recent past.
Firstly, the audit is not much of a performance audit of hydropower projects or hydropower companies. The basic purpose of hydropower projects is generation of electricity at stipulated annual, seasonal, daily and peaking hours. However, the CAG performance audit has not gone into this question at all at any stage. If it had gone into this, it would have found that 89% of India’s operating hydropower projects generate at below the sanctioned rates and half of them generate at below the 50% of design rate. It would have also realised that over the last two decades, generation of electricity per MW installed capacity has reduced by a huge 20%. The CAG would have also found out that no one is assessing how much of the power generation from hydro projects is during peak hours when generation of peaking power is supposed to be the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of these projects. Both storage-based and so called run of the river hydro projects involve huge social and environmental costs, apart from deforestation and displacement of people. They are justified on the ground that they meet the peak time demand for electricity. A performance audit that does not address these aspects is not only incomplete but also misleading.
One of the fundamental issues CAG has refrained from looking at is the social, economic, environmental, cultural, religious and other services a free flowing river provides to a large cross section of the society and how these services are destroyed when a hydropower project is built. Rivers are functioning service providers, unlike the case of bandwidth (2G licenses) and coal in the mines, issues on which CAG has rightly shown great concern recently. It is inexplicable as to why the CAG has refrained from considering this issue while assessing the efficacy of performance of hydropower projects.
Thirdly, it is welcome that CAG has noted that there has been lack of “due diligence” and proper “survey and investigation” before taking up of projects. However, the CAG has not held agencies like Central Electricity Authority (CEA) responsible for giving concurrence to the projects under Electricity Act without ensuring that the projects have done full and proper appraisal. For example, CAG has found in its audit that geological surprises have been one of the reasons for delays, and that the companies have not been doing necessary testing. But these are the issues that CEA is supposed to look into in collaboration with Central Water Commission and Geological Survey of India. It is clear from the audit that CEA has been routinely giving concurrences to the projects without ensuring that full appraisal and due diligence has been done and without any transparency or independent members on its panel. CAG should have held CEA, CWC and GSI responsible for such flawed concurrences and should have raised fundamental issues about the process followed by CEA before giving concurrences. Similarly CAG should have raised questions about the fundamentally flawed process of environment impact appraisal followed by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MEF) and MEF’s the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River valley projects, but has refrained from raising them. Why CAG has refrained from reaching such conclusions logically implied by its audit is surprising.
Fourthly, CAG should also audit the process of allocation of hydropower projects to private developers. CAG has rightly raised the issue of competitive bidding in case of bandwidth (2G) and coal recently while allocating these “natural” resources to private developers, but for some unknown reason, has refrained from scrutinising the process of allocation of rivers to private developers for developing hydropower projects, which the private developers are using for their profiteering. The rivers are society’s resources and are the biggest natural resource, and it is high time all concerned including CAG look into these issues. Similarly, why is the CAG not auditing the accounts of private hydropower developers, when these developers are using these national natural public resource?
Fifthly, the CAG audit in question has very rightly raised the issue of failure of monitoring mechanisms and how conflict of interests prevail in the functioning of hydropower projects, with even an former power secretary (Mr P Abraham<file:///E:/H/1Hydropower/2012/PR%20on%20Inadequate%20CAG%20performance%20audit%20of%20%20hydro%20projects%20Sept2012.doc#_ftn1>) simultaneously being on govt committee probing a hydropower project and also on the board of the company involved in the specific contract being probed. These issues prevail because there is absolute lack of transparency and lack of presence of independent credible members monitoring the functioning of these projects and companies. Unfortunately CAG has not found it necessary to make such recommendations even though they are clearly warranted from its own audit.
Lastly, CAG’s recommendations are peripheral and pedestrian. They have not addressed the systemic and institutional issues that are at the root of the problems covered in the audit, however weak it may be. These issues revolve around the professional capabilities, transparent and independent functioning of CEA, the role of MOEF and its EAC, the need to ensure that the composition of EAC and other monitoring and other committees are such that its members have no conflict of interest in appraising projects and how a few influential power developers have been able to corner most of the projects as a result of the non-transparent award procedures adopted. What are proposals to change the situation in any fundamental way? There are none.
We are therefore forced to reach the unfortunate conclusion that this CAG audit is highly inadequate, misleading and devoid of any attention to the basic issues. We would urge CAG to urgently look into the issues raised and redo the audit keeping these issues in mind.
*E A S Sarma*, Former Secretary to Govt. of India, Visakhapattnam, 0986602646, eassarmagmail.com
*Bharat Jhunjhunwala*, former professor, IIM Bangalore, Dt Tehri, Uttarakhand firstname.lastname@example.org
*Ravindranath*, Rural volunteers Centre, Dist Dhemaji, Assam, email@example.com
*Ms Malika Virdi*, Himal Prakriti, Munsiari, Uttarakhand (firstname.lastname@example.org)
*E Theophilus*, Himal Prakriti, Munsiari, Uttarakhand (email@example.com)
*K. Ramnarayan*, Coordinator , Save The Rivers Campaign, Uttarakhand, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
*Samir Mehta*, International Rivers, Mumbai, email@example.com
*Shripad Dharmadhikary*, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune,firstname.lastname@example.org* *
*10. Dr. Latha Anantha*, River Research Centre, Thrissur, Kerala.
Manipur’s fasting woman released. She would be re-arrested in day or two.
In an annual ritual, the iron lady of Manipur Irom Sharmila Chanu was released yesterday.Sharmila, who was produced before a court in Imphal, reiterated that she would continue her hunger strike. She would be re-arrested in day or two. (To Read More ….. click on this link)
GHAR BACHAO GHAR BANAO ANDOLAN
Press Release 5th March 2012
As per the Below Poverty Line (BPL) survey conducted by BMC, Andheri has the maximum number of BPL-poor people in Mumbai. According to the survey the number of BPL families in Andheri is more than one lakh which is even more than Mankhurd which has the lowest Human Developemnt Index (HDI) for Mumbai. The BPL no for Andheri is even more than the no of BPL families in Dharavi. G North ward under which Dharavi falls has only 30,000 BPL.
The BPL list were declared by the MCGM after a Public Interest Litigation (27 of 2011) was filed at Bombay High Court by Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan and slum activists Jammela Begum & Durgavati, BMC has now declared the result of the Below Poverty Line (BPL) survey carried out in the year 2005-06. According to the survey, around 4,94,000 families have been declared as BPL, meaning around 25 lakh people in Mumbai are below poverty line. For Mumbai the below poverty line has been defined as a daily income of Rs 20 per day per person. This means that in Mumbai there are around 25 lakh people who are not even able to earn Rs 20 every day and thus they live on as low as this an amount every day.
A high increase in the number of BPL families in Mumbai proves beyond doubt that the policies and the plans of the government is leading to further deterioration in the condition of the people. Rather than any improvement in the status of the poor, rather more and more families are being pushed in the poverty trap which is just a manifestation of the growing inequality for which the policies of the government are responsible. The growing threat on the lives, livelihoods and houses of the working class is directly leading to growing number of families that are poor.
A band-aid solution of poverty alleviation programmes and plans is not going to be of any use, until and unless the state and the civil society revisits and revises its development paradigm, which today is anti-people while favouring the corporate and the private developers.
Simpreet Singh Sumit Wajale Jameela Begum
|WARD||AREA||No of Families declared BPL||HDI Index|
|H East||Santa Cruz||20823||20|
|K East||Andheri East||79107||9|
|K West||Andheri West||38517||10|
|M East Ward||Mankhurd||65051||24|
Review of the Indian Economy 2011-12
Today GRAIN is making available a new data set documenting 416 recent, large-scale land grabs by foreign investors for the production of food crops. The cases cover nearly 35 million hectares of land in 66 countries.
This is not an exhaustive list of all land deals. We only focus on those deals that:
Deals for sugar cane and palm oil production were included but not those for crops like jatropha or cotton.
The collection of deals provides a stark snapshot of how agribusiness has been rapidly expanding across the globe since the food and financial crises of 2008 and how this is taking food production out of the hands of farmers and local communities.
The data set also paints a clear picture of who the land grabbers are. While most of the 298 land grabbers documented are from the agribusiness sector, financial companies and sovereign wealth funds are responsible for about a third of the deals. And on many occasions there is overlap. For instance, the data set shows how Cargill, one of the world’s largest agribusiness companies, has been acquiring hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland through its hedge fund Black River Asset Management.
European and Asian based investors account for about two thirds of the land grabs within the data set. China and India are major sources of land grabbers, as are the UK and Germany. But the UK, much like Singapore and Mauritius, serves as a tax haven for land grabbers, and often the true operating bases of the companies reside elsewhere. Other major centres of land grabbers are the US, which tops the list at 41 cases, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia with 39 combined.
Most of the data was collected from the website farmlandgrab.org. Complete references can be made available upon request.
French and Spanish versions will be available shortly.
For further information, please contact:
Carlos Vicente in Marcos Paz, Argentina
+549 11 63088809
Human rights issue should be a central part of the discussions at the European Union-India summit on strategic partnership commencing tomorrow in Delhi, Human Rights Watch said today.
“A strategic partnership between the European Union and India should be based on shared respect for human rights,” said Lotte Leicht, European Union (EU) advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
The human rights situation in India is “much poor”, they said.
The rights watch body said successive governments have yet to enact adequate laws or implement policies to protect marginalized communities, particularly Dalits, tribal groups, religious minorities, women, and children.
The government routinely “fails to take action” in cases of serious human rights violations, particularly all forms of sexual assault against women, communal violence, enforced disappearances in conflict areas, extrajudicial killings, torture, and increasing attacks on human rights defenders, they said.
These issues are compounded by the widespread impunity for abuses and the corresponding problems of access to justice and adequate compensation, they said.
The EU should call for repeal of Indian laws that protect public officials from prosecution for violating human rights, effective implementation of policies to ensure social justice, and a commitment to ensure freedom of expression, including on the internet, Human Rights Watch said.
They also called upon the EU to encourage India to use its increasing global influence to address human rights problems in other countries.
“India’s growing regional and global influence should be matched by an increasing commitment to protect human rights abroad,” Leicht said.
Human Rights Watch made a series of recommendations on human rights concerns in a February 3 letter to the European Council president, Herman Van Rompuy, and the European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,900 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 48 trips to carry that many people.
People’s SAARC Assembly: Thiruvanathapuram Declaration
People’s Movements Uniting South Asia
9 November 2011
We, the participants of the People’s SAARC India Assembly 2011 met in Thiruvanathapuram on 8-9 November 2011 to affirm our commitment to justice, peace and democracy in the region. We also affirm and commit ourselves to the vision of an alternative political, social, economic and cultural system that enables social and sustainable development in the region that will do away with discriminations based on gender, caste, religion, language and ethnicity; lead to a situation free from exploitation and oppression; create a climate in which each individual will have the opportunity to realize full development of her or his human potential; restore the balance and harmony with nature; eliminate the artificial and human barriers that divide lands, peoples and mind; and transcend all boundaries.
The India assembly was privileged to host vibrant social movements, trade unions and activists from across India and abroad. Over 250 activists participated in three plenary sessions and 7 workshops on issues such as trade and livelihoods, natural resources, women’s role in people’s movements, de-militarization, labour and exclusion and discrimination. The assembly culminated in a colourful march to the Kerala Secretariat.
People’s Movements Uniting South Asia
A genuine South Asian consciousness, which has been present in a historical sense, is growing today among the peoples of this region. In recent years the urge for regional cooperation and interaction has manifested itself at different levels. Writers, poets, artists, scientists, social activists, human rights and women’s rights activists of South Asian countries have initiated concrete moves towards establishing mutual contacts and developing cooperation among themselves.
This declaration captures this paradigm shift of people’s movements uniting South Asia.
State Repression and Militarism undermining democracy:
The people of South Asia are witnessing the militarisation of state and society. The dominance of militarist thinking in the governments, the doctrine of preventive intervention and terrorism as a State policy has prevented the strengthening of the fraternity of the people, consolidation of the political constituency for peaceful resolution of conflict and build a common identity for South Asian people.
The context of rising terrorism is being used by the ruling elite to shift public opinion towards an internal security doctrine that is undemocratic, chauvinistic and anti-people.
We condemn the increasing budgetary allocation on militarization by diverting resource from social welfare by the governments in South Asian. The reduction of tensions between South Asian countries means the reduction of defence budgets in both countries. This will have a major and meaningful impact on the well being of each country’s citizens.
We are also alarmed by the accelerated militarization in the region in the name of countering terrorism, eroding democratic space, undermining basic human rights and humanitarian law principles, has resulted into further terrorization and radicalization the affected civilian populations. We are deeply concerned at the expanding role of the military and para-military forces in the development processes including mega development projects and extractive mining, plundering the natural resources, marginalizing and displacing the indigenous peoples inhabiting the region. We must ensure that our governments stop militarising society by developing the doctrine of internal security, as extensions of war concepts into society, and creating armed forces for internal war.
We call for the inclusion of a policy on human rights in the SAARC platform. In Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan a vision of national security and guise of counter terrorism is being used as a tool for suppressing democratic peoples movements. Whether it is the struggles of communities over control of natural resources, or struggles against state repression or against corporate power or against communal profiling of populations, the dominant policy in all these states are against the will of the people. Hence there is a need for a clearly articulated human rights policy to be included in the SAARC.
We salute the extraordinary resilience of Irom Sharmila Chanu as she enters the twelfth year of a hunger strike in solidarity confinement demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, which has chronically militarized and displaced democratic governance in North East India. We must ensure the reduction of influence and control of the military and make it accountable and subordinate to the will of the people.
We call upon the governments of South Asia to immediately halt the futile process of militarization generating a spiral of insecurity and to redirect its resources and energy to build genuine democratic institutions to ensure the human security including education, health, housing and other welfare of the people.
Women in Peoples Movements:
Women have played a crucial role and spearheaded several movements. However in many movements’ women and those from marginalised groups including dalits, adivasis, the disabled, minority communities and those from LGBT groups are seldom heard or their separate needs acknowledged. To create a larger Peoples movement of South Asia this understanding needs to be integrated so that these identities are not submerged in larger forums and spaces but that they are included and made visible.
We need to create ways of working across differences and identities without making them invisible. This has to be based on principles of human rights, commitment to equality and non discrimination focussed on the advancement of human security and human dignity. The intersectionalities between different movements and identities needs to be recognised and integrated so that we can look at ways of coming together. This presents us with many challenges and complexities because in practice it is difficult for different movements to come together.
The Women’s Movement has been connecting across borders since the 1970’s; this has helped in strengthening our work, learning from each other as well as creating stronger bonds between us. As women we have always been suspicious of narrow nationalism and patriotism because of how it affects women. It has also presented many complexities and challenges in our vision of a Peoples Union of South Asia. There is a need to have dialogues across movements and borders on similar issues, we have a lot to learn and contribute to each other’s work. However the question is how to integrate a feminist framework of analysis and understanding in these various movements. This is so we can create better integrated movements, where the voices of the marginalised are given space as well as awareness about the intersectionalities between different issues and themes.
Re-building Labour movement:
Contractualisation, migration and the non-implementation of labour laws are common issues in the region.
We demand that labour be included as an area of cooperation in the South Asian cooperation framework.
Large scale privatization, both direct and indirect, closures and retrenchments have lead to job losses and created conditions for capital to deny labour rights and introduce new labour practices that affect the labour adversely. In the process, rights to organization and collective bargaining became a casualty. We call for the ratification of ILO core standards by South Asian countries and constitute a SAARC mechanism to ensure reporting on compliance on ILO core standards and redressal of complaints. Further, we call upon SAARC to adopt the ILO guidelines on TNC as a enforceable mechanism to regulate TNCs in the region.
The right to mobility with dignity is a human right. Migrants should be assured of dignity and the right to work as well as adequate wages and human working conditions. Safeguards for the basic rights of the local people must be instituted. We demand a SAARC mechanism to facilitate and promote labour migration with dignity and the institution of a SAARC work permit as a first step to institutionalise this process.
Labour movements in the region have to establish closer cooperation and take an organizational structure at a South Asian level. In priority, we need to work towards integrating different sections of workers currently marginalized and working people not even recognized as workers, into the ambit of labour movements, social security regimes and within the collective bargaining framework.
Trade and livelihoods:
Current trade policy is undemocratic, pro corporate, anti environment and adversely impacts livelihoods of South Asian peoples. Free trade agreements implemented in South Asia such as the India Sri Lanka FTA have adversely impacted livelihoods of farmers, especially in the state of Kerala. Free trade policies under the WTO have resulted in a loss of food sovereignty due to the loss of control over tariffs and quantitative restrictions. We call for trade and economic cooperation in the region and oppose the current trend of advancing the FTA agenda in South Asia and beyond.
We recognize that to bring the people in the region closer, there should be more people to people contact and cooperation. On trade, this would imply a paradigm shift with due process of consultation with legislative bodies and affected groups such as farmers, fishworkers and labour. Further any trade should be based on complementarity, environmental sustainability, food sovereignty and should enhance livelihoods. There should be due mechanisms to monitor the impacts of trade on livelihoods with policies to protect and compensate any communities that could be adversely impacted. We stand for progressive people led regional cooperation in South Asia and call for the normalisation of economic relations between Pakistan and India.
Exclusion, discrimination and oppression:
We express concern about the increasing incidence of state repression against peoples who are fighting for their democratic rights. Dalits, adivasis, sexual and gender minorities, religious minorities, human rights defenders are under constant threat of a militarised state and corporate greed. The struggle of the marginalised for a better democracy needs to be strengthened by rendering solidarity at the South Asian level.
Community control over Natural resources
We note that the current model of development is devastating South Asia’s natural resources. Investment zones such as SEZs that displace people, undermine democracy and national laws and destroy the environment must be stopped. The principle of prior informed consent of the local communities should be followed for all projects. We note with concern the revival of the nuclear industry despite the lessons from the Fukushima Daichi disaster. We support the valiant peoples struggle in Koodamkulam and Jaitapur and call for a halt to these nuclear projects. There was a decision to call upon Governments to declare a nuclear free South Asia and promote people centred non conventional and sustainable energy sources. At the same time there was another viewpoint to focus on a nuclear weapon free South Asia as there was a wider consensus in the country on this issue.
We call for a ban on genetically modified seeds in SAARC countries. Governments in South Asia should stop production, distribution, consumption and export of all Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) including endosulfan.
We call upon the people to be cautious that there is an imperialist agenda to use so called environmental concerns to undermine sustainable development and livelihood needs of the people of developing countries.
South Asian coastal and forest communities are facing the brunt of so called development and corporate greed. We call for the implementation progressive legislations for protection of the environment and livelihoods in the coastal and forest regions.
We resolve to deepen the Thiruvathapuram process through continuous interaction and consultation to enable people’s movements to express and define the South Asian dimensions of their struggles and on that basis build a genuine unity of South Asian people’s movements.
A Citizens’ Report Card on SEZs in India
Today PTI has carried a newsitem on the case between Medha Patkar and V K Saxena saying : "A Delhi court Tuesday paved the way for the trial of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar by framing charges againt her in a defamation case filed by an NGO chief in 2001 following a news report on an online portal." It needs to be noted that only a notice has been issued to Ms. Medha Patkar, which has already been challenged by her as a fake case of defamation. This case is actually an offshoot of a defamation case filed by Medha Patkar regarding a cheque of Rs. 40,000 which Mr Saxena had given to a support organisationa of NBA in Maharashtra that bounced, coming from a non-existing account. Mr. Saxena denies this, though the cheque was found to be fake in further enquiry and a notice was served earlier in August. She has also filed a case of defamation with regard to maliciously defamatory advertisements by Mr. Saxena in Indian Express in November 2000 in which notice has been issued to him and later Indian Express did publish an apology too. It may be noted that Mr. Saxena had also filed a case in Supreme Court accusing NBA and Medha Patkar of being anti national and the same was dismissed calling it a "Private Interest Litigation" and the apex court made him pay 5.,000 Rs as the cost of the case. He is also one of the accused in the case filed by Medha Patkar for the physical attack on her during a peace meeting in 2002 after Gujarat riots held in Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad too. Mr. Saxena has been responsible for filing many such frivolous cases against her and NBA for many years now and it is only causing harassment to her and the movement.*For further details call : 9423965153* * *