Friday, December 31, 2010
NEW DELHI: UNPRECEDENTED PRICE RISE. PEOPLE OF ALL SECTIONS SUFFER UNDER CORRUPT UPA GOVT OF MAMATA-MANMOHAN
D.O. No. 119-CM
December 28, 2010
Dear Shri Chidambram,
Kindly refer to your secret letter dated 21/22 December, 2010 which had been published in the media before it reached my office on 27.12.2010 at 11 A.M.
Your assessment of the situation in the State of West Bengal is surprising and is far from an impartial overview of the situation. Maoists have spread from across the bordering states and with the help of small section of local people are creating problems mostly in 28 police stations in three districts of West Bengal. They are trying to create their own areas of dominance. They are indiscriminately killing political opponents and even innocent people. They are attacking police stations, police camps and looting arms. They are also engaged in large scale extortions and other unlawful activities.
You are fully aware of these activities of the Maoists. The greatest challenge is how to contain the Maoists and defeat them finally both administratively and politically.
In recent times State and Central Police through their joint efforts have achieved major successes. Peace and normalcy have been restored in vast areas. People who were evicted earlier are going back to their homes. Govt/Panchayat office are functioning normally and so are the schools, markets and shops. Life is gradually coming back to normalcy in these areas but still we have problem in the areas bordering our state. Trinamool Congress which was earlier maintaining secret contacts with Maoist leaders and outfits are now openly organising meetings with them.
CPI (M) and it allies are trying their best to resist the Maoists by mobilizing people against them and in the process have lost more than 170 of their workers and leaders. Unfortunately, you are now blaming them for the present state of affairs. I am afraid it will divert the attention of all concerned who are struggling against Maoists, the greatest threat to our internal security.
As regards political clashes mentioned in your letter I would like to correct your figures. 32 Trinamool Congress supporters have been killed and 601 have suffered injuries while CPI (M) have lost 69 of their cadres and another 723 have been injured. Indian National Congress has lost one of their supporters and 111 have been injured during the period mentioned in your letter. I, however, agree that it is not a happy situation and I am doing my best to stop these senseless killings. I have repeatedly appealed to all the opposition parties to cooperate. All the parties except Trinamool Congress have come forward to cooperate. Trinamool Congress has refused to talk to administration. I am trying to disarm and demoblise all armed groups engaged in violence in some pockets of the state.
I strongly object to your using the word “Harmad” to mean the CPI (M) party workers without knowing the actual meaning of this nasty word coined by Trinamool Congress leaders.
More when we meet.
Shri P. Chidambram
Union Home Minister
New Delhi-110 001
Monday, December 27, 2010
MUCH has been said about the funds for the development of cities from the World Bank and the central government. The central government initially chose
The state government has stopped giving grants which it was supposed to give under law on the pretext of central funds to the
For these projects, 30 per cent of the funds (around Rs 420 crore) have to be borne by the city corporation. The central and state governments have not released even the funds that they have comparatively expended for the JNNURM. The state and centre owe Rs 150 crore to the corporation. Above it, the centre has stopped the last instalment of the funds stating that the user charges and other conditionalities have not been implemented in time. As a result, at present there is no money with the corporation even for wages. Money is owed to the contractors. Development works like drinking water supply, underground drainage, laying/repair of roads etc have been stopped midway, subjecting the people to severe hardships.
PEOPLE ON THE ALTAR OF REFORMS
The poor people have become scapegoats of urban reforms. Burdens have increased, while facilities were curtailed. Slums were neglected. In the name of minimum tax, around Rs 50-153 has been increased in the tax on the huts. As a result of privatisation of lavatories, poor people who do not have independent toilets are shelling out Rs 300-500 as user charges for utilising the public toilets. The fee for issuing birth and death certificates has been increased by Rs 5-50. Taxes were imposed on small vendors who sell their wares sitting on roadside. Fee was levied even on using the premises of municipal schools where the poor had an opportunity to hold their marriage and other functions by Rs 100-1000. In the name of providing underground drainage, huge donations were levied. The corporation has withdrawn from mosquito eradication programmes. Every day poor families are forced to spend Rs 5 for mosquito control. On the whole the reforms are playing havoc on poor people lives.
BENEFITING THE RICH
In the name of reforms, street lighting, maintaining public toilets, etc have all been privatised. Rich people have been given an opportunity to construct and sell apartments, hotels in the valuable lands of the government and city corporation. Priority is being accorded for providing facilities like drinking water, maintaining roads, etc in the colonies of the rich under the pretext that they are ready to share part of the expenditure through contributions. They are introducing a scheme to supply water 24 hours – 24x7 scheme – in these colonies. Parks are well maintained in these colonies. All facilities are provided to the wealthy. This is the reason why rich classes, contractors, corrupt officials, bureaucrats and politicians are very happy about these reforms.
BURDENS IN THE NAME OF CONDITIONS
The World Bank and the central government have imposed almost similar conditions in the name of urban reforms. They have issued a diktat that 100 per cent costs have to be collected from the people who avail civic facilities. Local bodies have to mobilise their own additional incomes for their share. As a result, in these five years severe burdens were imposed on the people of
DISAPPEARING LOCAL GOVERNANCE
All the promises for strengthening the local bodies and giving more powers to them through the 74th Constitutional Amendment proved to be empty words. Local bodies have been robbed of their power to take decisions under their purview and were degraded to just implementing agencies of the diktats and conditionalities of the central and state governments. Without the knowledge of the elected council, the commissioner has signed on urban development plan that has dangerous conditions. It was later unilaterally adopted by the council without any discussion as a mere formality. Only after the CPI (M) has exposed this fraud, the corporators and the people have been given the copies. The state government has issued orders rejecting the resolutions of the council on doing away with the garbage tax and on giving concessions to the poor for change of name in the property tax receipts. The state government did not pay heed to the unanimous resolution of the council demanding the non-removal of the huts of the poor constructed on the
THEN AND NOW
Except for the CPI (M) all other parties welcomed the introduction of JNNURM in the
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
We have been demanding the constitution of a JPC because this scam involves not merely graft in terms of siphoning off revenues that should have been due to government. This scam involves a massive manipulation of our system that permits such a loot to take place. These avenues for manipulation need to be plugged. This can be done only on the basis of a thorough investigation that can recommend new regulations or, for that matter, new laws, if necessary. In our constitutional scheme of things, it is the parliament alone that can enact laws. Hence, it is only a JPC that will have the authority to recommend the required new regulations and laws.
The apex court, in a way, vindicated this understanding when it remarked, as we go to press, that, “The issue raised in the case is not only limited to the Rs 1.76 lakh crore but has a much wider compass. We would not like to prejudice the probe. But, what happened in 2001 needs to be looked into. It is for the CBI to investigate and find out.” It was in 2001 that the then NDA government led by Vajpayee adopted the policy of first-come-first-served norm for spectrum allocation. The Supreme Court also remarked about the policy of transfer of dual technology – CDMA and GSM – stating that the CAG has not gone into this issue. “This matter has not been investigated”, said the Bench.
We have been raising in these columns since early 2008 that the loss to the exchequer in the 2G spectrum allocation was on three counts – loss due to 122 licenses for new entrants in 2008; loss due to dual technology licenses; and loss due to excess spectrum occupied by GSM operators. Our estimation of loss was placed at Rs 1.9 lakh crores while the CAG has now pegged it at a little over Rs 1.76 lakh crores. The need to enquire into a gamut of related policy matters, becomes imperative once again, given the decision of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that served notices, according to media reports, on 85 operators seeking a show cause explanation as to why their licenses should not be revoked as they have not fulfilled the rollout obligations, ie, not started operations. They are, thus, open to the charge that they may well resell these licenses for massive profits, as some have done earlier.
For these reasons, it is clear that the UPA government’s arguement that since the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is looking into the CAG report, there is no need to constitute a JPC is simply untenable. The PAC is essentially a committee that examines accounts, by definition. If all other related policy issues need to be examined, then it is only a JPC that can authoritatively make recommendations. Those who argue that the JPCs in the past have not produced any results, overlook the fact that current regulations for our financial markets have been put in place only after the JPC recommendations on the Harshad Mehta stock market scam.
By not allowing the parliament to perform its duties, the government is seriously undermining the foundations of our constitutional scheme of things. The executive (government) is accountable to the legislature (parliament) which, in turn, is accountable to the people. The sovereignty of the people - `We, the People’ – is, thus, established in this scheme. By jettisoning the parliament, the government is escaping from being accountable and, at the same time, eroding, both in letter and spirit, this constitutional scheme. This is a very grave matter that strikes at the very foundations of our Republican constitution and parliamentary democracy.
In these developments, the role of the principal opposition – BJP – is becoming curiouser and curiouser. We had spoken of its double speak, in these columns earlier, concerning the defence of its government’s corruption in Karnataka. Now we find that the BJP, on the one hand, demands a JPC and, on the other, one of its former national presidents who currently chairs the PAC has begun investigation into the CAG report. This thoroughly endorses the standpoint of the ruling Congress-led UPA coalition. Further, Mr L K Advani has publicly commented that if the BJP’s leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha was allowed to speak at the beginning of this winter session, then the BJP would not have raised the demand for a JPC. Further still, BJP’s ideologue and a member of the Vajpayee cabinet of ministers, Mr Arun Shourie, has vehemently articulated against the constitution of a JPC. Clearly, the BJP does not want a probe into the policy shifts that happened under their government. Recollect that the NDA government had abruptly moved from the policy of `license fees’ to `revenue sharing’ in the telecom sector which, then, was alleged to have caused a massive loss to government revenues at the expense of favouring some corporates.
Thus, the BJP’s credibility on this issue of fighting corruption comes under a huge question mark. Given this, while most opposition parties have raised the issue of a JPC, an all-in-opposition unity is simply not tenable. This is apart from the fact that the secular opposition parties cannot find any common cause with the politics of communalism that the BJP pursues.
The ruling Congress-led UPA government’s relentless efforts to jettison this winter session of the parliament by refusing to constitute a JPC cannot, however, conceal or contain the growing people’s anger against such mega corruption. The intervening period till the commencement of the budget session next February must see a growing public pressure that must be mounted on this UPA government to make it accountable both to the parliament and the people on the issue of mega corruption.
December 8, 2010
Courtesy: People’s Democracy