NAPM Extends Solidarity to protestors of Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor

NAPM Extends Solidarity to the Indefinite Dharna in Raigad District against forced land acquisition for DMIC Project

[See below press Release from Jagatikikaran Vriodhi Kruti Samiti and photos]

New Delhi / Mumbai, April 17 : Supporting the indefinite dharna of the farmers and workers of Raigad district National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has written to the Chief Minister, Maharashtra asking him to stop the forceful land acquisition for the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). Since, April 10th, in Mangaon under the aegis of Sarvahara Jan Andolan – Jagatikikaran Vriodhi Kruti Samiti, farmers and labourers from 69 villages have been sitting on an indefinite dharna with one village coming together each day infront of SDO office. They are protesting since, 9715 families of 69 villages in Maangaon, Roha and Tala Talukas have received notifications for acquisition of a total of 24,207 acres of land for Dighi Industrial Area part of DMIC corridor. In fact total of 67,500 acres from 78 villages of these three talukas are to be acquired. MIDC has already acquired 2000 hectares of land since 1985 at the rate of 20/25,000 Rs per acre, of which land has been given to Jindal, POSCO and others. There is no record of percentage land utilised and unutilised with MIDC, even though in the past fifty years it has acquired more than 13 lakh acres of land. The provisions of MIDC Act is more draconian than Land Acquisition Act, 1894, which leaves little scope for the consent of the affected population.

The current notifications issued to farmers are illegal since the issuing authority SDO does not have the power to issue notifications of land above the price of Rs. 50, 000. However, the current rate as per MIDC’s own notification is Rs. 40 lakhs per acre. Farmers who are protesting this, you may recall, had forced the state government to cancel the Raigad SEZ that was being developed by the Reliance earlier but the land in the same region is now under threat of acquisition once again.

In second – third week of March this year NAPM undertook a yatra along the route of DMIC Corridor starting from Mumbai on Women’s Day and culminating in Delhi on March 18th in a 20,000 strong farmers and workers Mahapanchyat saying no to forced land acquisition and need to address crisis in Indian agriculture. We wonder what is the tearing hurry when a new Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill is near finalisation in the Parliament.

In Aurangabad, under DMIC and associated state government projects, if things go as planned, 234000 hectares land of 362 villages will be acquired in the name of development in a region which is witnessing the worst draught in many years. Most of the ground water and surface water sources, livelihood dependent on agriculture are already under extreme stress. With the plans for the land acquisition for various projects, there will be a disaster in the whole region for the those leaving on the margins, forcing large scale migrations and impoverishment.

In many of the places where DMIC is supposed to come up, neither the people nor the democratically elected representatives are aware of this monstrosity or their consent has been sought. We believe that hard – earned freedom and democratic rights of the people, as enshrined in the Constitution of India are at stake here. Indian Constitution has provided for the state’s mandate to involve and promote role of all citizens in the planning under number of articles, esp. 243-244. However, the DMIC authorities have violated all of these provisions, since the deal and plans have been finalized by the Union and State government and that too by some bureaucrats without consulting the democratically elected bodies.

Forcible acquisition of land in the name of industrial and city development will only lead to development of real estate and land grab, bringing not prosperity, but impoverishment to the existing population. The past experience tells us that claims of employment generation and absorbing the affected remain largely on paper. Transforming the economic pursuits cannot happen overnight, involuntarily. That this plan with huge impacts on the targeted corridor region, esp. the Investment Region and Industrial Areas cannot and should not be finalised without a full-fledged public debate within the directly affected areas at the state level.

NAPM demands that the Government of Maharashtra reviews the whole plan and initiate a public dialogue on the DMIC plan and projects therein. We demand that the state government should pro-actively provide all information about the total plan and projects to the citizens including the affected, and no forced acquisition of land be attempted at any cost.

Farmers of Raigad had earlier forced the cancellation of SEZ and once again they will challenge at any cost the forcible land acquisition. NAPM supports their struggle and stands in their resolve to struggle.

Medha Patkar, Suniti S R, Prafulla Samantara, Dr. Sunilam, Arundhati Dhuru, Vilas Bhongade, Bhupinder Singh Rawat, Vijay Diwan, Vimal Bhai, Prasad Bagwe, Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant, Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar

Contact: 09818905316 | napmindia@gmail.com

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Jagatikikaran Virodhi Kruti Samiti

Indefinite Dharna against forced acquisition for Delhi Mumbai Industrial corridor in Raigad, Maharashtra

Mangon / Mumbai, April 17 : The farmers and workers of Raigad district are on an indefinite dharna in front of Sub divisional office at Mangaon dist. Raigad, Maharashtra since April 10th. They have been served notices for acquisition of their land under the Maharashtra Industrial Corporation Act. 67,500 acres of land is to be acquired for Dighi port industrial area as a node in Proposed Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor. Farmers from 78 villages under Mangaon, Roha and Tala Tahsils would become completely landless.

All the village Panchayats have unanimously resolved not to give their land for this disastrous and pro corporate project, which has been undemocratically planned too. However the state govt. has not taken any cognizance so far. The panchayats have been further asked to surrender their common property lands and give NOC for it’s transfer. This has created a lot of unrest amongst farmers. The individual notices have been issued to six villages and the 7/12 extracts of all the lands in these villages have been stamped and reserved for the proposed corridor.

How are we going to survive if we lose entire land, the only source of our livelihood, ask the farmers. They don’t trust the govt and it’s assurances as the experience in the past has been totally negative. Why govt is in a hurry to grab the lands before the new land acquisition bill gets passed at the Centre which gives space to the farmers to express their opinions, ask the farmers. Despite the directions given by the Union ministry forced and compulsory acquisition is going on. The irrigated as well as good amount of fertile paddy fields are being acquired. This has enraged the farmers further.

The dharna started on 10th April in the presence of Mr. N. D. Patil, and several activists from various parts of the state, under the banner of Jagatikikaran Virodhi Kruti Samiti. Every day one village comes to dharana to express their resolve not to part with their lands, in big numbers with women and children.

Detailed project report of this project has not been prepared yet. Environment impact assessment is also not done. Why the govt is in hurry then? Asks Ulka Mahajan who is leading the struggle. The govt. sources are not ready to disclose any information nor is there any transparency. This creates a lot of doubts in the minds of the farmers.

Sub Divisional officer Mangaon has been appointed as land acquisition authority , who has powers to fix the compensation upto 50,000 Rs. per acre according to the notice issued to the farmers. However the guardian minister of the dist. Mr. Suneel Tatkare, declared that he would try to give 10 lakh rs. per acre. The farmers laugh at this attempt and they don’t want to give the lands even if the compensation is increased. Recently the residents of Raigad presently living in Mumbai got organized and decided to launch agitation against this forced acquisition in Mumbai on 1st May at Azad Maidan.

The dharana would continue till mid May 2013, till every village registers it’s protest. Several groups and associations such as bar association, Patrakar Sangh, doctor’ association, have declared their support to the agitation.

Ulka Mahajan (9869232478)

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National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office : 6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316
Web : http://www.napm-india.org

Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/NAPMindia
Twitter : @napmindia

 

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World Bank’s SHAM CONSULTATIONS: NO MORE

SHAM CONSULTATIONS: NO MORE

Statement by Indian Peoples Movements along with Environmental and Social Action Groups condemning the World Bank’s Consultations on Environmental and Social Safeguards Review

 The World Bank Group is conducting what it claims are consultation meetings, “announced with as much advance notice as possible to facilitate informed participation from a diverse set of stakeholders” to review and update its environmental and social safeguards policies. Once these ‘consultations’ are concluded, it is reported that the Bank will consider these areas, through internal dialogue, consultations, and a global series of dialogues with external experts, for reform.

It is clear that the World Bank is in no way doing anything different from what has been done in past decades. Many such reviews have been conducted and thousands of groups and individuals have participated in the hope of seeing genuine reform of the institution’s policies and possibly its democratization, only to be utterly disappointed. The current exercise, therefore, is yet another charade to mask the true intentions of its major shareholders: France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, who are grappling with serious economic downturns and are conveniently using the Bank to force open global investment opportunities with scant regard to environmental and social impacts.

If the World Bank was seriously concerned about the impacts of its investments, then the best test would have been to demonstrate sensitivity in their investments. In India, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank’s private sector lending arm, is complicit in massive human rights and environmental violations that form the basis of a majority of its investment. For instance, the IFC lending to Lafarge in Meghalaya, mortgaging tribal lands protected under the 6th Schedule of Indian Constitution, to do illegal mining activities had been exposed even in the Supreme Court of India. Similar is the case of the IFC financed the super-mega USD4 billion Tata-Mundra 4000 MW power project in the ecologically sensitive Kutch region of Gujarat. World Bank-funded big hydropower projects like Allain Duhangan and Rampur projects in Himachal Pradesh and mega coal projects like Tata Mundra have been registered to get millions of dollars as free doles under the fraudulent Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) scheme under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change. The massive coal based project will clearly accentuate global warming emissions while the big hydro projects are neither clean nor sustainable. The World Bank has further endorsed such environmental crimes by offering a USD 1 billion loan to the Fifth Power System Development Project, which essentially is a transmission line for huge coal based thermal power plants including Tata-Mundra, Reliance-Sasan Power and Reliance-Krishnapatnam Power. By participating in such a manner, the Bank conveniently escapes blame for the disaster and yet benefits from financing ‘development projects’.

Some years ago, the IFC played down its intention to finance the expansion of the notorious West Coast Paper Mills (WCPM) in Karnataka. WCPM is a company that has worked without any functioning environmental safeguards for decades ultimately resulting in ecological devastation of the biodiversity-rich Kali River. This dastardly act of WCPM has however now been rewarded by the IFC with 17 half-yearly loans of approximately Rs. 150 crores since 2011.

The World Bank’s Policy on Piloting the Use of Borrower Systems for Environmental and Social Safeguards has in the past decade been a mantra to pave the way for promoting investment at any cost.  Over a decade ago the World Bank funded the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests’ Environmental Management Capacity Building Project. The result was a massive dilution of India’s environmental and social safeguard norms. The resultant processes gave voice to those within the administration and industry who were crying hoarse that the carefully evolved rigour of “forest” and “environmental” clearance standards in India was thwarting economic growth. Now again the Bank is offering to lend USD 1 Billion for the Ganga Action Plan following the same infrastructure-centered, governance-ignoring model that has failed over the last 25 years, while at the same time funding river-destroying hydropower projects like the Vishnugad Pipalkoti project upstream. The Bank’s funding to the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation has been challenged before the World Bank’s own Inspection Panel, but the Bank is indulging in propaganda against the critics rather than withdrawing from the project. None of the affected people from any other ongoing or past Bank funded project or groups working with them have been invited to these consultations.

Many such examples can be cited to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the so-called environmental and social safeguards of the Bank are nothing more than a veneer of protection to mask the real impacts of this dangerous financial institution which works only to increase profitability of its shareholders at any cost.

The World Bank is extremely inventive in producing documents and jargons that sound good, feel good, and are often genuinely trusted by many. It relies heavily on maintaining a good reputation and positive opinion of itself within governments and wider society, especially the media, in advancing its objectives. The current exercise is a part of this process.  But, as is said, if the proof is in the pudding, then that would have been best revealed by the World Bank saying “NO” to many investments that have disastrous consequences. Instead, it has gone on to not only aggressively finance such projects, but also defend such investments as necessary components of the “globalization” process that it actively propagates.

Even if we were to assume for a moment that the current exercise of ‘consultations’ is a genuine effort of the World Bank to consult stakeholders, the documents accessed on the range and depth of these ‘consultations’ reveal that they are highly segregated and sectoral. Moreover, participants have been carefully selected and largely include only those who may say what the Bank wants to hear. There is nothing public about such exercises, held, as they normally are, in highly secure 5 Star hotels in capitals around the world, with little or no prior information to the public. Further, World Bank officials typically ‘consult’ bureaucrats and do not engage with Legislators or Parliamentarians.

The best indicator of the shallowness of this exercise is evident since the communities grievously hurt and suffering from the Bank’s lending and investment policies are not invited to these consultations.  As a matter of fact, looking at things globally, the only complaint that the IFC’s Compliance Advisor/ Ombudsman has processed for Compliance Audit against a Financial Intermediary lending is from a project in India:  IFC lending to IDFC and IIF, which in turn used that money to fund a destructive thermal power project of the notorious GMR Energy. Despite a formal complaint pending review against this investment, the Bank, its bureaucracy and consultants, have not invited the complainants and affected communities to the current ‘consultation’ process, thus revealing the sham and mockery that the current review mechanism is!

Former World Bank employee, India’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Planning Commission Vice Chair Montek Singh Ahluwalia, have repeatedly stated their opposition to genuine, democratic decision-making about environmental issues, and India’s Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has even infamously stated: “willing to tolerate debate, and perhaps even dissent, as long as it does not come in the way of 8 per cent growth”. The World Bank is in fact involved in putting substance to such wishes of these top politicians. In such a political climate, the World Bank’s environmental and social safeguards are mere window dressing. Exactly two decades ago the Bank had to get out of the Narmada Project, which was a historic development brought about by peoples’ struggles. However, the disaster created by the World Bank’s early funding to the Narmada project is still continuing, with lakhs of people suffering while the project is still far from complete. The Bank has clearly learnt no lessons and refuses even to follow the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams.

It took peoples’ movements, grassroots networks and allied organisations across the world more than 30 years to pressurize the World Bank Group to formulate and have in place mechanisms that would safeguard social-environmental-cultural-traditional interests of communities affected by the Bank’s financing of so-called ‘Development projects.’ However, it took the World Bank, in particular IFC, only one stroke of destructive imagination to bring in the new model of ‘Financial Intermediary Lending’ that wiped out all mandatory requirements posed by environmental and social safeguard principles on lending, as ‘Intermediaries’ are not bound by such standards. At a time when the FI model of lending in India by the IFC and the World Bank at large are expected to cross the halfway mark of their collective investments, it does not make any sense at all for the World Bank to be holding reviews of their environmental and social safeguards; they simply do not matter at all to the actual practice of the World Bank group’s member agencies.

The current ‘consultations’ are a complete sham and must be denounced by anyone genuinely committed to the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), climate justice, sustainable development through democratic decision-making and the Principle of Intergenerational Equity.

Signatories:
1. National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
2. National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW)
3. National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF)
4. National Hawkers’ Federation (NHF)
5. National Handloom Weavers Federation (NAHFED)
6. National Domestic Workers Union (NDWU)
7. National Cyclists Union (NCU)
8. All India Forum of Forest Movements (AIFFM)
9. South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP)
10. Bharat Jan Vigyan Jathha (BJVJ)
11. Adivasi Mahila Mahasangh, Jashpur, Chhattisgarh
12. Alternate Law Forum, Bangalore
13. Beyond Copenhagen Collective
14. Bhindrai Institute for Research and Social Action (BIRSA), Jharkhand
15. Citizens Concern for Dams and Development, Imphal, Manipur
16. Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties, New Delhi
17. CIVIC, Bangalore
18. Delhi Forum
19. Delhi Solidarity Group
20. Dialogue on Indigenous Culture and Environment (DICE) Foundation, Kohima, Nagaland.
21. Dynamic Action, Kerala
22. Environment Support Group (ESG, Bangalore)
23. Equations, Bangalore
24. FOCUS on the Global South
25. Forum for Indigenous Perspectives & Action, Imphal ,Manipur
26. Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai
27. Himdhara – Environment Research Collective, Himachal Pradesh
28. Indian Social Action Forum, New Delhi
29. Institute for Democracy & Sustainability (IDS, New Delhi)
30. Intercultural Resources (ICR, Delhi)
31. International Rivers, India
32. Jan Jagruti Kendra, Chhattisgarh
33. Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Delhi
34. Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee (JMAAC)
35. Kerala Swatantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation – Independent Fishworkers Federation of Kerala (KSMTF)
36. Kriti Team, New Delhi
37. Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Odisha
38. Machimaar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan
39. Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Badwani, Madhya Pradesh
40. MATU Jan Sanghattan, Uttarakhand
41. Mozda Collective, Gujarat
42. Nadi Ghatti Morcha, Chhattisgarh
43. Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)
44. North East Peoples Alliance, Manipur
45. Odisha Chas Parivesh Surakhya Parishad (Odisha)
46. Partners in Justice Concerns – India
47. Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat
48. People’s Campaign Against Water Privatisation
49. People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Karnataka
50. Plachimada Samrakshana Samiti, Kerala
51. Programme for Social Action (PSA, India)
52. Right to Food Campaign, Uttar Pradesh
53. River Basin Friends, Assam
54. River Research Centre, Kerala
55. Society for Rural Urban & Tribal Initiative (SRUTI, Delhi)
56. Srijan Lokhit Samiti, Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh
57. Theeradesa Mahila Vedi, Kerala
58. Urban Research Centre, Bangalore
59. Vikalp Social Organisation, Uttarakhand
60. Vimochana, Karnataka
61. Water Initiatives, Odisha

 

 

 

FTA with EU could finish off Indian farmers

EU threat to farmers

Courtesy: Down to Earth – Online at: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/eu-threat-farmers

Issue Date: Apr 30, 2013

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Free trade pact with EU will have a severe impact on Indian agriculture, specially the dairy sector

imagePhoto: Preeti Singh

In February this year, there was an ominous smoke signal from Brussels that Indian farmers could not have ignored. The European Union set aside a big chunk of its new seven-year budget to support agriculture, giving it €363 billion (Rs 25.9 lakh crore) of the total €960 billion (Rs 68.3 lakh crore). The 27-nation bloc that’s notorious for lavish subsidies to its farmers gave in to the demands from France and other major farming nations, earmarking 38 per cent of EU spending for this sector in the budget for 2014-2020, although other members had sought to divert funds to spur growth and create jobs.

While the allocation is a reduction from the €417 earmarked in the current budget (2006-13), it means farm subsidies will still account for a whopping €50 million, or Rs 356 crore, every year. This has darkened the outlook for Indian farmers who could face new threats to their livelihood once India signs on a free trade agreement (FTA) with EU in coming weeks. As Brussels was finalising its contentious budget, back home Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma was announcing that the EU FTA, which he termed India’s “most ambitious trade and investment agreement”, would be concluded shortly.

Officially known as the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement, the EU-India FTA has been in the works since 2007, shrouded in secrecy as most such deals are. Hardly any consultations have been held with major interest groups barring industry that would be impacted by the deal. Periodic leaks of the texts being negotiated by commerce ministry officials and EU have heightened alarm over the implications of the FTA. The most sustained campaigns against the trade pact have come from public health activists, both in India and abroad, against certain provisions of the chapter on intellectual property (IP).

Global protests have been sparked by concerns that the higher levels of IP protection sought by EU, that is more stringent than mandated by the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on IP known as TRIPS, would lead to a clampdown on productions of generic medicines by India. These formulations, primarily, anti-retroviral drugs to treat AIDS patients, are used worldwide by developing countries and humanitarian organisations such as Medecins Sans Frontieres as a cheaper alternative to innovator drugs. However, EU negotiators maintain that the FTA would not affect the production of these generics.

Source : CEPII-CIREMSource : CEPII-CIREM

A more severe impact of the FTA, though, would be on India’s agricultural sector and on the livelihoods of some 600 million people who are dependent on it. Yet farmers have woken up only recently to the threats inherent in the proposed FTA. Among the more vocal of the farmers’ organisations has been the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), the largest organisation of farmers in north India. “This FTA wants to bring India’s import tariffs down to zero or near zero levels on most of our agricultural commodities. How will this help our farmers? Studies have shown EU will be exporting much more to our country than India will ever be able to. In sum, this trade agreement will only increase India’s agricultural trade deficit,” warns Yudhvir Singh, general secretary of BKU.

Are farmers being unnecessarily alarmist? Not so, as a number of studies have shown. An analysis by Misereor and Heinrich Boll Stiftung of Germany along with four other international institutions confirms that Indian farmers are set to lose heavily once the EU FTA comes into force. This will probably oblige India to eliminate more than 90 per cent of all (agricultural and non-agricultural) applied tariffs towards EU within seven years. “Moreover, a standstill clause might cap the tariffs even for the remaining sensitive products at the level currently applied,” and more worryingly, the goods chapter could impose discipline on export tariffs that are currently used by India to contain price volatility, it warns.

Analysts point out that the primary problem of including agriculture in developed country FTAs is that of subsidies. A 2005 UNDP report warns that the main issue affecting agricultural trade, that is, the massive subsidies applied by developed countries to their production and export, “does not lend itself to bilateral solutions”. The EU-India FTA is a prime example of this. While EU is under no obligation to give up its subsidies, India will have to cut duties on more than 92 per cent of its goods, agricultural and industrial. What is relevant here is that EU’s tariffs are already much lower and so cannot offer India much additional market access. On the other hand, the high-quality standards imposed by EU, along with technical barriers which amount to non tariff barriers or NTBs, will make it impossible for Indian agriculture exports to penetrate the highly competitive European market.

In what is turning out to be a lopsided agreement, EU also wants India to do away with its export measures which would imply that India has to give up export bans on food that it uses strategically to ensure food security. Ironically, at WTO India has fought hard to safeguard its right to use export measures and tariffs on agricultural products.

imageSource : CEPII-CERM projections (Photo: Photo: Meeta Ahlawat)

One sector alive to the near impossibility of breaking into the EU market is the cooperative dairy farms. Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), India’s largest food products marketing organisation, has been writing repeatedly to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Anand Sharma about the vulnerability of the dairy sector. Better known by its Amul brand, GCMMF is worried that the one-way trade the FTA is likely to bring about will effectively kill the cooperative dairies, which are among the top providers of livelihood. Rupinder Singh Sodhi, GCMMF managing director, told Down To Earth, EU is anticipating a huge market opportunity in India once the FTA is ratified and New Delhi needs to be cautious on this score. Dairy cooperatives generate employment for 15 million families in rural India across 140,000 villages.

A significant threat to the growth of the dairy sector is EU’s push on geographical indications or GIs. This is a tag given to products whose quality, reputation or other characteristics are essentially attributable to its geographical origin, such as Champagne from the eponymous region of France, Scotch whiskey from Scotland and Parma ham of Italy. EU is strong on this IP right and has registered close to 3,000 GIs, primarily wines and agri-products, in the trade bloc. A 2010 study by the European Commission revealed that 2,768 GIs had yield revenues amounting to over €20 billion, an advantage it is pursing in trade agreements. EU is also seeking “extra extensive protection” of its GIs, according to Sodhi (see ‘Curdled outlook for dairies’).

Unaccountably, the agriculture ministry headed by Sharad Pawar has not voiced concerns in public over the FTA despite repeated representations from civil society groups, farmers associations and trade unions. Nor has the commerce ministry or the Prime Minister’s Office assuaged the concerns raised by these outfits or sought to involve them in the consultations. K M Gopakumar of Third World Network, which focuses on trade agreements, points out that since texts of agreements are kept secret independent evaluation of the impact of such FTAs becomes extremely difficult. It is learned, however, that the commerce secretary has allowed a couple of civil society institutions to make a presentation of their analysis on the likely impact of the EU FTA.

The Misereor-Heinrich Boll report, which has examined the FTA from the food security angle, finds that risks will increase with the passage of the Right to Food Act. India’s food requirement will increase significantly by the government’s own estimates to 61 million tonnes of grain, and “depending on imports for this will be foolhardy”, it warns. Besides, opening up to global agricultural trade will severely limit India’s capacity to procure food at will.

According to a study by CEPII, an independent French research centre in the field of international economics, and CIREM, a non-profit which counts companies among its 23 members, the FTA is a no-win proposition for India. The CEPII-CIREM analysis shows India’s share in EU’s markets in primary products, cereals, other crops and products of animal origin will remain constant, while EU will increase its presence significantly in these segments (see charts).

India has little to gain in agricultural trade in absolute terms as well, warns the report which has listed the asymmetries in trade projections for 2020: while EU will gain $321 million in agro food products, India will get just $83 million. Similarly, India’s cereals market will earn EU $133 million, while India gains only $7 million. The disparity is most marked in primary products in which EU gains $5,128 million, while India gets business of just $39 million.

So why then is India ready to conclude such an FTA? Commerce ministry sources indicate the trade-off is on the movement of skilled personnel into Europe that it hopes to wrest from EU. As for the impact on India’s vulnerable agriculture sector, officials say it has no strong champion in government.

 

EU-India FTA – Curdled outlook for dairies

Courtesy: Down to Earth – Online at: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/eu-threat-farmers

Curdled outlook for dairies

imageAmul is possibly the most valuable and well-known brand in the dairy sector and its owner, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), expects a turnover of well over Rs 14,500 crore for the financial year ending March 2013, a huge jump from the Rs 11,668 crore recorded in the previous year. But this is not bringing much cheer to the country’s pioneering milk cooperative. The reason: the impending free trade agreement with EU.

Managing director Rupinder Singh Sodhi says at stake will be the well-being of 3.2 million farmers in Gujarat who are members of the cooperative once the FTA comes into effect. “There will be no level playing field because we will not have any protection against the subsidised exports by rich dairy farmers in Europe,” he worries. As he portrays it, the opening up of the dairy sector to the big boys in Europe will make India’s dairy farmers extremely vulnerable to the dumping of goods. “Most of our dairy farmers own just two-three cows; in Europe dairy farms are big operations with hundreds of cattle in each.”

At the same time, dairy products from India face insurmountable barriers in EU. Sodhi says this is because EU does not clear any Indian plant for export to EU under its extremely strict sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards. “This is actually nothing but a non-tariff barrier which India has never been able to break. Since their markets are not growing, they are using these tactics to keep out competitive products such as ours which do not enjoy any subsidies.”

imageUnder WTO rules, India has been allowed to impose high bound duties (the maximum tariff) of 113 per cent on a number of food items, although its applied duties or actual tariffs stand at an average of 31.4 per cent. The bound rates give India the flexibility to increase duties if a spike in imports is found to be damaging its domestic sector through the special safeguard mechanism. What the FTA will do is to erode these protective measures that have been granted at the international level by getting the duties cut to negligible levels if not abolished altogether on most agricultural goods.

Duties on import of cheese, for instance, range from 30 per cent to 36 per cent and the argument of the Indian dairy industry is that no further concession should be made on this item, which, it says, is consumed by the affluent segment and would, on the other hand, ruin domestic manufacturers.

The bigger concern for GCMMF is EU’s insistence on recognition of its geographical indications (GIs) for food products. The 27-nation bloc is reported to have applied for over 130 GIs for its food products, many of them for special cheeses and has also sought recognition for the several thousand GIs registered in EU.

This will be a blow to Amul which has two manufacturing units turning out Gouda and Emmental cheese which draw their names and reputation from the regions of Europe in which they are produced and enjoy intellectual property protection in Europe. Not only would Amul have to cease production or change the names of its cheeses but it would also restrict the cooperative from exploiting a mark which is growing exponentially.

 

India-EU trade pact talks inconclusive –

India-EU trade pact talks inconclusive

India refuses further tariff reduction in auto sector, demands ‘data-secure’ status

A meeting between Commerce & Industry and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma and European Union (EU) trade commissioner Karel de Gucht in Brussels on Monday remained inconclusive, with both sides sticking to their respective positions.

India clearly told the EU it would “not accept” any further concession, as far as the automobile sector was concerned. The EU, especially Germany, had demanded an indefinite tariff rate quota on the import of cars from Europe, as well as zero duty on all cars, eventually. It also sought the Indian market be opened further, a senior official told Business Standard.

At the meeting, both ministers reviewed the progress in talks for an ambitious free trade agreement (FTA). Today’s meeting comes within days of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreeing to a “successful outcome”.

Talks on the FTA began in 2007.

The official said India had already offered “much more” to EU compared to what it had offered to Japan and Korea, with whom it had similar agreements. “Now, EU has to narrow its ambitions if it truly wants the deal with India. We have given the best we can, much better than what we have offered to anybody so far, in the automobile sector and in other areas, too. But they seem to be asking for more and more concessions,” the official said.

India once again asked EU to remove the 20 per cent threshold relating to the safeguard clause introduced under the Mode-4 quota of services trade. This relates to free movement of Indian professionals under a relaxed visa regime. However, it seemed EU didn’t agree to India’s demand.

“This provision will significantly reduce the benefits India can enjoy. With such a provision, it becomes meaningless for India to negotiate on services,” the official said.

Under services trade, India also expressed “severe concern” on EU’s denial to recognise it as a ‘data-secure’ nation, without which it wouldn’t be able to gain substantial market access for its information technology industry. According to EU law, European countries engaged in outsourcing business with countries not certified as ‘data-secure’ have to follow stringent contractual obligations that raise operating costs and affect competitiveness.

An official statement on the meeting is expected to be released tomorrow.

So far, 16 rounds of negotiations on the FTA have been held. The last round was held in Brussels on March 18-22.

 

Right to Reject Button in EVM Machine

Right to Reject Button in EVM Machine

Please sign this petition and spread the word around….

Online at: http://www.causes.com/actions/1706858-right-to-reject-button-in-evm-machine

To: election commission of india
An appeal to Election Commission of India for demand of amendment in 49(O) rule for effective Right to Reject.

What is 49-O: Rule 49-O is a rule in The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961[1] of India, which governs elections in the country. It describes the procedure to be followed when a valid…