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Delhi Govt refuses to renew license of Synergy company’s bio-medical waste incinerator, High Court refuses relief to the Okhla plant

Written By Gopal Krishna on Friday, May 29, 2015 | 4:10 AM


May 29, 2015: Following Delhi Government’s refusal to renew license of Synergy company’s bio-medical waste incinerator, Delhi High Court has refused relief to the Okhla plant. It termed company’s application for relief as infructuous, ineffective, unproductive and unfruitful.  

The case against Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi and Managing Director, M/s Synergy Waste Management Pvt Ltd was disposed off on 28th May, 2015 following closure of Bio-Medical Waste Incinerator located in the vicinity of DDA Flats, Sukhdev Vihar, Okhla, New Delhi due to expiry and non-renewal of its license after 18th May, 2015. In a remarkable move, Delhi Government had kept itself ready to face this situation. It illustrates how peoples’ resistance can compel the government to listen to them.

An Office Memorandum (OM) dated 15th May, 2015, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) shows that the state government had planned for “redistribution of area among two common bio-medical waste treatment facilities (CBMWTFs) in Delhi, in the vent of closure of Synergy Waste Management Pvt Ltd. on 18.05.2015.” The OM was signed by Kulanand Joshi, Member Secretary, DPCC. The OM is attached. This was an outcome the meeting residents had with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

It is noteworthy that the attached Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s manifesto for Kalkaji had recognized the public health concerns emanating from this polluting plant and had promised to make efforts and struggle with Okhla residents against it.

Notably, Delhi High Court had re-ordered immediate closure of biomedical waste incinerator plant Sukhdev Vihar, Okhla while the Civil Contempt Petition No 102/2014 filed in Writ Petition (C) No. 6976 of 2008 against Chief Secretary, Govt. of NCT of Delhi and Managing Director, Synergy Waste Management Pvt Ltd in the matter of Dioxins emitting biomedical waste incinerator in Sukhdev Vihar, Okhla.

After Delhi High Court's judgment dated 15th January, 2013 established the adverse health impacts from the incinerator based on existing medical literature, the fate of M/s Synergy Waste Management Pvt. Ltd. (SWMPL) which operated Bio-Medical Waste Incinerator located in the vicinity of DDA Flats, Sukhdev Vihar, Okhla, New Delhi was sealed. This order had come in response a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in 2008 seeking its closure. But when Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi and Contemnor no.1 and Neeraj Agarwal, Managing Director, M/s Synergy Waste Management Pvt Ltd, Contemnor No.2 did not comply with the order in contempt of this Court’s Judgment, a Civil Contempt Petition was filed. A review petition No. 111/2013 filed by the company was dismissed on 27th February, 2013.

The High Court judgment refers to 'The summary of "Epidemiological Studies on Adverse Health Effects Associated with Incineration" would show that medical waste incinerators are a leading source of dioxins and mercury in the environment and there is link between incinerator emissions and adverse health impacts on incinerator workers and residents living around the incinerators.'

The observations made in the judgment will have far reaching implications. It reads: "Both older and more modern incinerators can contribute to the contamination of local soil and vegetation with dioxins and heavy metals. In several European countries, cow"s milk from farms located in the vicinity of incinerators has been found to contain elevated levels of dioxin, in some cases above regulatory limits. Increased levels of dioxins have been found in the tissues of residents near to incinerators in the UK, Spain and Japan. At an incinerator in Finland, mercury was increased in hair of residents living in the vicinity. Children living near a modern incinerator in Spain were found to have elevated levels of urinary thioethers, a biomarker of toxic exposure. " It notes that "After 2 years of operation of incinerator, dioxins levels were found increased by about 25% in both groups living between 0.5 to 1.5 and 3.5 to 4.0 km away (201 people) of people. In the repeat analysis, the increase was in the range of 10-15%".

The judgment records that "Mothers living close to incinerators and crematoria from 1956 to 1993" showed "increased risk of lethal congenital abnormalities, in particular, spinal bifida and heart defects, near incinerators: increased risk of stillbirths and anacephalus near crematoria".

With regard to "Residents from 7 to 64 years old living within 5 km of an incinerator and the incinerator workers" the judgment observes, "Levels of mercury in hair increased with closer proximity to the incinerator during a 10 year period".  The judgment recorded that "Residents living within 10 km of an incinerator, refinery, and waste disposal site" showed "Significant increase in laryngeal cancer in men living with closer proximity to the incinerator and other pollution sources". The *"Residents living around an incinerator and other pollution sources" showed "Significant increase in lung cancer related specifically to the incinerator". *The *"People living within 7.5 km of 72 incinerators" displayed "Risks of all cancers and specifically of stomach, colorectal, liver and lung cancer increased with closer proximity to incinerators".

The struggle of residents and environmental groups is far from over. The judgment is quite relevant for the upcoming hearing in the National Green filed by the resident’s welfare association (RWA) of Sukhdev Vihar, Okhla against the municipal waste incineration power plant is being operated by Delhi's Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Co Pvt Ltd (TOWMCL) of M/s Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited (JUIL), a company of M/s Jindal Saw Group Limited.

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) has been demanding closure of waste incinerators plants because shifting a polluting unit of factory does not make it non-polluting. Responding to a letter of TWA Union Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar has promised to look into the possibility of Bhopal like disaster due Jindal’s plant in Okhla operating admittedly in residential areas without any Disaster Management Plan using unapproved and untested Chinese technology.  

Meanwhile, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is pursuing Case No.  8296/30/10/2014 filed by TWA which  has been campaigning against this toxic Dioxins emitting plant since 2005 and is pursuing a case against the toxic threat from municipal waste incinerator plants in Okhla, Narela-Bawana and Ghazipur.

Notably, owing to public health concerns, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister has visited the hazardous Dioxins emitting plants in Okhla and Ghazipur. It is high time the government in the national capital territory revised the tried, tested and failed approach adopted for waste management.    

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660, 08227816731, E-mail: 1715 krishna@gmail.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.org





Companies Act 2015 continues to facilitate corporate funding for political parties and co-option of NGOs

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, May 28, 2015 | 5:41 AM

Provision for CSR in the Act needed to be revisited

The Companies (Amendment) Act, 2015 has received the assent of the President. It has been notified in the Official Gazette with effect from 26th May, 2015. Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2014 which was introduced to amend Companies Act, 2013 was approved by the Lok Sabha on17th December, 2014 and by the Rajya Sabha on 13th May, 2015. This Act along with the 2013 Act merits attention of all the lovers of true democracy. Notably, the Contesting Election on Government Expenses Bill, 2012 is pending in the Rajya Sabha which was long due for putting a check on increasing use of black money in elections and political activities but the Companies Act has emerged as a threat to the idea of State funding of elections. Yet another opportunity has been lost to deal with the menace of black money with the passage of the Act.
Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi gave its approval for the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2014 on 29th April, 2015. With this 2013 Act has received the seal of approval from the NDA government. There was a need for replacing corporate donation for political parties with provision of corporate donation for government’s electoral fund that can be used for State funding of elections. But the government accepted the status quo in general.  Thus, regime has changed but the order has remained the same.
The Companies Act reveals double speak, insincerity and inconsistency of the ruling parties and opposition parties. The Companies Act should have banned corporate funding for electoral campaigns but this has not happened. This is contrary to several reports of the Parliamentary and government's committees which recommended State funding of elections to deal with black money.
The root of rampant corporate crimes committed with impunity, environmental destruction, poisoning of food chain and human rights violations by security forces has been traced to corporate funding of political parties. In the aftermath of industrial disasters, frauds and war crimes by companies world over, this Act merits rigorous scrutiny by all sections of legislatures and society.
It may be noted that there is a provision in the Act that reads: "Notwithstanding anything contained in any other provision of this Act, a company, other than a Government company and a company which has been in existence for less than three financial years, may contribute any amount directly or indirectly to any political party: Provided that the amount referred to in sub-section (1) or, as the case may be, the aggregate of the amount which may be so contributed by the company in any financial year shall not exceed seven and a half per cent of its average net profits during the three immediately preceding financial years".
It may be recalled that two contradictory things happened in the Lok Sabha on 14th December, 2011. Companies Bill, 2011 was introduced by Dr Veerappa Moily as a Union Minister in the afternoon that made provision for corporate funding of parties. Within hours of the introduction of this Bill, Manish Tiwari, National Spokesperson of the Indian National Congress who stood up to speak about UPA's seriousness in dealing about Black money stated, "I feel ashamed to state that black money which is linked to our advertisement policy is related to electoral finance that needs to be rectified."

The 2013 Act was passed with the endorsement of Yashwant Sinha headed Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance. The 2015 Act has the endorsement of Indian National Congress in the Parliament. 

The collusion between major parties that was witnessed in the report Indrajit Gupta headed Parliamentary Committee remains unaltered. The silence of the left parties is quite deafening in this regard. In the light of this development, the reluctance of the political parties except Communist Party of India to come under the ambit of Right to Information Act is not inexplicable.
The Act gives greater role to shareholders and promotes shareholder democracy of sort.
It is explicable as to this government forgot about the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by the then Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani, to consider recommendations of the Indrajit Gupta headed Committee on State funding of elections during the Bhartiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government. The Committee on State Funding of Election was headed by the former Union Home Minister and veteran CPI leader, Indrajit Gupta, had submitted its report to the Government on 14th January, 1999 favouring State funding of elections.
It merits recalling that at the Convention of Indian Youth Congress on November 29, 2011, Sonia Gandhi, Chairman, Indian National Congress reiterated the need for state financing of elections as a measure against corruption in the electoral process. Earlier, she had demanded it at the Congress plenary in December 2010. The Union Minister for Law & Justice informed the Lok Sabha on November 28, 2011 that --Group of Ministers constituted by the Central Government is considering measures that can be taken by the Government to tackle corruption which inter alia include the introduction of state funding of elections. The Act shows that what Sonia Gandhi had told the Convention of Indian Youth Congress has not been incorporated in the Act. BJP led NDA government wasted the opportunity of rectifying the Act.
It is evident that both Congress led UPA and BJP led NDA are preaching one thing and practicing just the contrary. The passage of this legislation re-legitimizes corporate funding of political parties instead of reversing the trend.
There is a provision in the Ac which appears quite dangerous. It reads: The Board of Directors of a company may contribute to bona fide charitable and other funds: Provided that prior permission of the company in general meeting shall be required for such contribution in case any amount the aggregate of which, in any financial year, exceed five per cent of its average net profits for the three immediately preceding financial years." This is a masterstroke to co-opt bonafide charitable institutions and turn them into fake public interest institutions who serve corporate interests. Both are divergent interests for sure.

While the hollowness of Concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which is an exercise in advertising and brand positioning is well known, the same has been introduced in the Companies Act. The provision regarding CSR reads" Every company having net worth of rupees five hundred crore or more, or turnover of rupees one thousand crore or more or a net profit of rupees five crore or more during any financial year shall constitute a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of the Borad consisting of three or more directors, out of which at least one director shall be an independent director. The Board's report shall disclose the composition of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee. The Corporate Social Responsibility Committee shall,—(a) formulate and recommend to the Board, a Corporate Social Responsibility Policy which shall indicate the activities to be undertaken by the compay as specified in Schedule VII the company spends, in every financial year, at least two per cent of the average net profits of the company made during the three immediately preceding financial years, in pursuance of its Corporate Social Responsibility Policy.
Notably, Schedule VII mentioned in the clause provides a list of "Activities which may be included by companies in their Corporate Social Responsibility Policies" These activities relate to:— (i) eradicating extreme hunger and poverty; (ii) promotion of education; (iii) promoting gender equality and empowering women; (iv) reducing child mortality and improving maternal health; (v) combating human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, malaria and other diseases; (vi) ensuring environmental sustainability; (vii) employment enhancing vocational skills; (viii) social business projects; (ix) contribution to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund or any other fund set up by the Central Government or the State Governments for socioeconomic development and relief and funds for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women; and (x) such other matters as may be prescribed.
The activities that have been mentioned above are functions of the State towards the citizens. This is a case of outsourcing functions of the government to companies. It may have been better if instead of letting companies do CSR activities if the same 2 % of their annual profit is collected as tax to create a fund for undertaking state funding of elections? Prime Minister's National Relief Fund itself can collect it as Government of India did acting as parens patriae (guardian of the nation), passed the Bhopal Gas Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985 in the case against USA's Union Carbide Corporation, currently owned by USA's Dow Chemicals Company. A five judge bench of the Supreme Court upheld that the State had rightly taken over the exclusive right to represent and act on behalf of every person entitled to make a claim in the Charan Lal Sahu Vs Union of India and others on 22 December, 1989. The Companies Bill should provide for “creation of an Industrial Disaster Fund” to comply with this very order in the aftermath of world worst industrial disaster before the nuclear disasters of Chernobyl and Fukushima. 

The political parties that will collect up to 7.5 % of annual profits of the companies as donations will not have the political will to regulate CSR activities and will not be able to acts in any case. A regime that is elected based on state funding of elections can undertake the above welfare activities and act as a genuine parens patriae. Citizens rightfully deserve it. The proposal of such CSR activities as acts of charity is an assault on provisions of the constitution that provides for entitlements for life and environment as a fundamental right.
The provision of corporate funding for political parties must be looked at in the backdrop of the decision of Supreme Court of USA on January 21, 2010 in the Citizens United case, which was denounced by US President Barack Obama, apparently for the sake of record. The US Court considered whether there could be a ban on corporations using their general treasury funds for elections-related expenditure. A majority (5-4) of the Court ruled that such a ban was violative of the right to free speech. Essentially, the US Court struck down certain campaign-finance limits as a violation. The impact of this ruling is that corporate entities in the USA are free to use their general treasury funds to incur election-related expenditure, in a departure from past precedents. It also raised a question do corporations have free-speech rights, just as do individuals? If this is the path of corporations very soon, indeed "We The People" will be excluded from even representative government because of Corporate Personhood. It was said in the newspapers in USA that it would turn the political class into prostitutes.

In connection with this, the six page long The Contesting Election on Government Expenses Bill, introduced by Prabhat Jha, Member of Parliament merits attention.
Contrary to the wisdom of the Bill, this Act is aimed at doing away with the requirement for filing a declaration by a company before commencement of business or exercising its borrowing powers and rationalizing the procedure for laying draft notifications granting exemptions to various classes of companies or modifying provisions of the Act in Parliament, in order to ensure speedier issue of final notifications. This Bill reveals the incestuous relationship between business enterprises and the ruling parties.   
Instead of setting matters right, the official amendments contained in the 2015 Act addresses issues related to ease of doing business and puts in place a speedier process for approval of draft notifications for providing exemptions etc. from specific provisions of the Act to a class of companies.  
There is a logical compulsion for amending the Companies Act to outlaw the provision for corporate funding to political parties and substitute it with the provision of state funding for the political parties as envisaged in The Contesting Election on Government Expenses Bill.
Following footsteps of the trends in USA, the provisions in the Companies Bill is all set to turn most political parties into brothels wherein made-to-order legislations will have a field day if it is not the case already. Given this trend will it be surprising if very soon there will be approval for foreign direct investments in myriad disguises to facilitate setting up of legislation manufacturing factories?

Democratic institutions can only be strengthened if political parties and other political organizations are given a priority by the state through fiscal support for becoming a democracy given the fact that it is always a work in progress. Studies based on large data sets on political financing in more than 40 democracies provide empirical account of campaign finance and have brought to light hidden aspects of politics and questioning widespread beliefs about political finance, such as the rapid increase of campaign costs. The problems associated with the high cost of election campaigns and the establishment of a balanced and transparent system for their financing merit state's attention.
The experience from contemporary European democracies shows that political parties are necessary and desirable institutions for democracy and direct involvement of the state through financing election campaigns is transforming parties from their status as voluntary private associations into parties as public utilities.
The legislation in question does not appreciate that it is the dependence of political parties on non-state actors for financing elections that determines their electoral and non-electoral performance. It is a flawed legislation which is compromising the political outcomes through an inherent political engineering which is co-terminus with property based citizens' rights.
While it has been admitted that --there is no guarantee that economic prosperity ensures democratization, the ulterior motive of the sponsors of electoral reforms is the former and not the latter. In the post-Citizens United era and in the era of legislated corporate funding through Companies Act is an act of rewriting the political geography and will reveal its residual democratic content.
By shaping not only the strategies, rational choice but also their goals, political parties as institutions structure political situations and leave their own imprint on political outcomes. This significance underlines the inference that parties cannot be left at the mercy of non-state actors. As long as these actors shape the outcome no matter who wins in electoral battles, democracy is not a winner because our deformed political system is turning legislatures into a forum for legalized bribery. The way out could be to recommend that these very corporate donations be pooled into an electoral fund which can be used for state funding of elections.


For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660, E-mail-1715krishna@gmail.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.org

Public Statement on Baby steps of Modi Regime

It’s a one year old infant. It has taken few perfect steps, has faltered on some but is yet to take several required steps to chart a course different from previous regimes. When the President appointed Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India on 21st May, 2014, an open letter was published providing some suggestions for the new government. The evaluation of its performance in the light of those suggestions is germane.
·         In a case of arresting the decline in autonomous foreign policy, Narendra Modi led government supported a UN treaty to regulate corporations reversing the stance of Dr Manmohan Singh led government. It was indeed a sad commentary on the state of affairs in India that Congress led Government of did not express its support for the Ecuadorian declaration regarding "Transnational Corporations and Human Rights" before the UN Human Rights Council session in September 2013.  
In a significant development at the 24th session of UN Human Rights Council in September 2013, the representative of government of Ecuador at the UN made a declaration  on the subject of "Transnational Corporations and Human Rights" proposing a legally binding international instrument on business & human rights under the UN.  The proposal was aimed at clarifying “the obligations of transnational corporations in the field of human rights" besides providing “for the establishment of effective remedies for victims in cases where domestic jurisdiction is clearly unable to" do so. 

But contrary to its consistent stand since the 1970s Congress led government chose to align itself with most of those countries like Norway that seem to safeguard the interests of transnational business enterprises. It is noteworthy that this reversal in India’s position for a brief period happened when Salman Khurshid was the Minister of External Affairs in the Congress led government from 28th October, 2012 to 26th May, 2014.

By June 2014, Norway responded to Ecuadorian proposal by tabling an alternative resolution co-signed by other countries different from that of Ecuador for adoption by the UN Human Rights Council. Ecuadorian resolution was drafted by Ecuador and South Africa and co-signed also by Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela.It appears from the UN records that India remained aligned with Norway at least till 24th June, 2014. 

It is apparent from the circumstantial evidence that when Sushma Swaraj of the BJP led government took over from Salman Khurshid as the Minister of External Affairs, India’s long held position was restored. It took exactly one month for the new minister to undo the damage done by her predecessor. The current position is apparently an outcome of the legacy of India’s role in the Non Aligned Movement. 

When the resolution was put to vote for adoption by the UN Human Rights Council on 26th June, 2014, India voted in favour of the Ecuador and South Africa’s resolution which was adopted by the Council. 

Notably, Government of India used to be at the forefront of initiatives like Code of Conduct for TNCs. Its support for the Ecuadorian resolution vindicated its consistent stand and rectified the brief aberration during Salman Khurshid’s tenure as Minister of External Affairs. 

The UN resolution officially titled “Elaboration of an international legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises with respect to Human Rights” was adopted at the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council during 10th -27th June 2014. The statement of the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva on Consideration of Draft Resolution provided the Explanation of vote by India.

The statement reads: “The issue of transnational corporations and other business enterprises is an important area where the international community must work together tonot only encourage businesses to respect human rights but also hold them accountable for violations arising out of their business operations….  When states are unable to enforce national laws with respect to the gross violations committed by businesses and hold them accountable due to the sheer size and clout of the transnational corporations, the international community must come together to seek justice for the victims of the violations committed by the Transnational corporations.  We believe that we need to further the dialogue on these aspects and the resolution gives us an acceptable roadmap for the Council to move forward in this direction. We will, therefore, vote in favour of the resolution.” 

The UN resolution reflected India’s concerns. It took into account “all the work undertaken by the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council on the question of the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises1 with respect to human rights.” It stressed that the obligations and primary responsibility to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms lie with the State, and that States must protect against human rights abuse within their territory and/or jurisdiction by third parties, including transnational corporations. 

This resolution has decided to establish an Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, the mandate of which shall be to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. 

It also decided that the first two sessions of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on a legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises shall be dedicated to conducting constructive deliberations on the content, scope, nature and form of the future international instrument.  It gave the task of preparing elements for the draft legally binding instrument to the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group ahead the thirtieth session of the UN Human Rights Council. This Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group is supposed to submit a report on progress to the thirty-first session of the Council. 

It is noteworthy that the resolution does not confine itself to TNCs, it also covers “Other business enterprises” which has been defined as “all business enterprises that have a transnational character in their operational activities, and does not apply to local businesses registered in terms of relevant domestic law.” This provision was incorporated at the suggestion of Government of India. Notably, “transactions and projects supported by export credit agencies are often protected by confidentiality provisions” unmindful of the fact that it undermines the interest of the affected communities.  

The experience of self-regulation – infamously manifested in the abuses that led to eruption of the global financial crisis in 2008 – suggests that business enterprises cannot be relied upon to self-regulate in a manner that ensures that their activities do not undermine the enjoyment of human rights. 

Voluntary and self regulatory frameworks have failed consistently to regulate corporations. There is an urgent need for a legally binding treaty is adopted to regulate admittedly undemocratic organisations like corporations which have become bigger and more powerful than democratic governments. Modi government took the right step at the most appropriate time. 
·         An argument was advanced for adoption of the Contesting Election on Government Expenses Bill, 2012 which is pending in the Rajya Sabha to combat black money. This Bill has been long due for putting a check on increasing use of black money in elections and political activities to facilitate State funding of elections. This six page long Bill introduced by Prabhat Jha, Member of Parliament from BJP merited his government’s attention. This Private Members' Bill reiterates what several Parliamentary Committees have recommended.
One used to hear that Asif Ali Zardari was called Mr 10 % during Benazir Bhutto's regime in Pakistan. Radia tapes revealed that there was a Mr 10 % in Indian National Congress led Government too. One year has passed but government has not pay any heed to Contesting Election on Government Expenses Bill. Given solemn assurances by the ruling party for combating black money, it is hoped the government will adopt the Bill in the next year.  

If corporate donation directly to political parties is justified then why are they stopping at 7.5 % (through Companies Act, 2013), how about having a 50-50 partnership! There was political consensus on 7.5 %. Has the government explored whether or not there can be no unanimity regarding 50-50 partnership?   
·         By shaping not only the strategies, rational choice but also their goals, political parties as institutions structure political situations and leave their own imprint on political outcomes. This significance underlines the inference that parties cannot be left at the mercy of non-state actors. As long as these actors shape the outcome no matter who wins in electoral battles, democracy is not a winner because our deformed political system is turning legislatures into a forum for legalized bribery.
The way out could be to ensure corporate donations are pooled into an electoral fund which can be used for state funding of elections.

An argument was made for adoption of the 20 page Bill titled "The Intelligence Services (Powers and Regulation) Bill, 2011" that was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Congress MP Manish Tewari, "to regulate the manner of the functioning and exercise of powers of Indian Intelligence Agencies within and beyond the territory of India and to provide for the coordination, control and oversight of such agencies…”

It states, "In view of the reasons stated, the Bill seeks to enact a legislation pursuant to Entry 8 of List I of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India to provide: a) A legislative and regulatory framework for the Intelligence Bureau, the Research and Analysis Wing and the National Technical Research Organisation; (b) Designated Authority regarding authorization procedure and system of warrants for operations by these agencies; (c) A National Intelligence Tribunal for the investigation of complaints against these agencies; (d) A National Intelligence and Security Oversight Committee for an effective oversight mechanism of these agencies; and (e) An Intelligence Ombudsman for efficient functioning of the agencies and for matters connected therewith. The Bill seeks to achieve the aforesaid objectives."
·         Prime Minister should have paid heed to the words Julian Assange , founder of Wikileaks, who may have to stay in Eucadorian Embassy until 2022 saying, “Who arrogates the power to spy on the entire earth-every single of us-and when he is caught red handed, explains to us that “we’re going to have to make a choice. Who is that person? Let’s be careful about who we call “traitor”. 
India should have taken explicit or implicit position on the revelations made about Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance and surveillance on head of States that has come to light thanks to the efforts of Assange and Snowden. A High Powered Committee needs to be given the task of analyzing and verifying the revelations made by Wikileaks and Snowden in a rigorous manner. India’s foreign policy and other related policies need to be guided in the light of these disclosures and should not remain caught in a time warp.

Advocacy of national identity cards as if “everyday forms of identity surveillance” is natural and rational is a hangover of the colonial and imperial times.  How is it that when heads of states are put under round the clock surveillance by colonial and imperial powers it is deemed an assault on national sovereignty but when a national government undertakes the same over their masters, the citizens, it becomes natural and rational. The democratic mandate is against electronic and biometric identification exercises like aadhaar, the government should have stopped the ongoing handing over of personal sensitive data to foreign intelligence companies like Mongo DB, Safran Group, Accenture, Ernst & Young and others and fixed accountability for the same on the acts of omission of the previous government.  This has not been done. The mandate which the NDA got is a mandate against aadhaar among other things. The NDA government has disrespected the mandate by endorsing aadhaar and related programs. Voters will remember it for sure.  

The report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Information Technology on Cyber Crime, Cyber Security and Right to Privacy reveals how aadhaar number compromises both national security and citizens’ sovereignty for good. The database of these numbers is being stored on cloud which is beyond India’s jurisdiction. In the light of the fact that in the previous government there were many ministers and cabinet minister ranking officials who seem to have violated the oath of office and secrecy, there was a need for the formation of a judicial commission to examine whether oath of office and secrecy has been adhered to by the ministers in the previous governments.

The servility of the previous regime towards agencies like NSA and their infantile reactions recorded in the report of the PSC in the face of evidence that the entire union cabinet was under NSA's surveillance must be remembered as one of the dark chapters of Indian history. 

This Bill merited the attention of the government. It needed to be examined by a High Powered Parliamentary Committee whose recommendations are mandatory. There is a need for a law and a Commission for Parliamentary Scrutiny and Audit of Intelligence Operations. In the one year of Modi government there has not been any initiative in this regard.
·         There was a need to end the Congress culture of tribunalization of judiciary, to ensure mandatory translation of all court orders in Hindi and other vernacular languages in High Court and Supreme Court and to ensure that official transcripts of arguments in the courts are put in public domain. 
The performance of National Green Tribunal is far from satisfactory. Such functions should be confined to judiciary but legislature has erred in encouraging one tribunal after another ignoring the views of legal scholars, jurists and bar associations. The existence of tribunals needed to be re-visited and the language of judicial process should have been accessible to seekers of justice. It has not been done so far.  
·         As to The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015, there is logical compulsion for bringing out a White Paper of land acquisitions undertaken by East India Companies, British Government and government of independent India so far in the name of public purpose.

Any peoples’ government would have rejected the recommendations of Dr Vijay Kelkar committee’s report which recommended sale of government owned lands, which has been acquired for ‘public purpose’ since 1894. This report was accepted by P Chidambram as Finance Minister in his 2013 budget speech. The Kelkar committee had submitted its report on 3rd September, 2012. The committee recommended that over the next two-three years the government should raise resources by selling unutilised and under-utilised land of the PSUs, port trusts, and the railways, to fund the infrastructure sector. Such stance with regard to government owned land for public purpose is totally immoral and erodes peoples’ trust in government. 
·         Conceptualization and implementation of economic activities in Ganga basin continues in a business as usual manner. Ganga river basin spreads over 239 parliamentary constituencies comprising 80 seats of Uttar Pradesh, 40 of Bihar, 40 of West Bengal, 25 of Madhya Pradesh, 16 of Rajasthan, 12 of Jharkhand, eight of Haryana, five of Uttarakhand, four of Chhattisgarh, two of Himachal Pradesh and seven of Union Territory of Delhi. The catchment area of the Ganga falls in four countries, namely India, Nepal, Tibet-China, and Bangladesh.
On 26th March, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the fifth meeting of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) and called for an "uncompromising mission-mode approach" to stop further pollution of the river. He said the task at hand could not be accomplished without "Jan-Bhaagidaari" (people's participation). The issue of Jan Bhaagidari can only be understood in relation to Sarkari Bhaagidaari (government participation), Bank Bhaagidari(participation of banks), Company Bhaagidari (participation of companies), Thekedar Bhaagidari (participation of contractors), Siyaasi Bhaagidari (participation of political parties) and Ganga Bhaagidari (participation of Ganga). But the meeting confined itself to the quality of water of Ganga river alone in a deeply parochial manner. Even with regard to water quality it did not address all the water sources in the Ganga basin and its relationship with soil pollution. Given the fact that Ganga river and Ganga basin has been divided into a large number of ongoing and proposed projects that focuses on water quantity. This includes diversion of rivers for Interlinking of Rivers project; NGRBA should have paid attention to how depletion of water due to extraction of water in myriad ways has deteriorated Ganga’s water quality.  The party and the government never talk of Jan Bhaagidari when they endorse and approve projects which pollute and degrade Ganga.
The reference to Jan Bhaagidari was made in BJP’s election manifesto 2014. It referred to cultural heritage wherein it promised to “Ensure  the  cleanliness, purity  and  uninterrupted  flow  of  the  Ganga  on priority. Massive Clean Rivers Programme across the country driven by people’s participation.” The survival of the river and its basin is hardly a priority; it’s the electoral slogan of nirmal Ganga (cleanliness of the river) which seems to pre-occupy the attention of the government at the moment. So far it has disregarded aviral (uninterrupted flow) of the Ganga. Water quality improvement is impossible without uninterrupted flow.
This meeting of the NGRBA assumed significance especially because it happened in the aftermath of the submission of 217 page long Main Plan Document titled Ganga River Basin Management Plan (GRBMP) dated January, 2015 along with complemented by eight mission reports and many thematic reports to the government. The plan provides a draft of a 36 page long National River Ganga Basin Management Bill, 2015 which proposes National River Ganga Basin Management Commission (NRGBMC) and National River Ganga Basin Tribunal.
As per the draft Bill, the NRGBMC is “to serve as a custodian of the Ganga basin and work for its upkeep and improvement on the premise that health of National River Ganga is a key indicator of the health of NRGB as a whole.” What is starkly evident is that this “whole” of “National Ganga” is actually only a part of the International Ganga but the plan fails to accommodate this reality. The plan is likely to face massive opposition from the residents of Ganga basin and the Ganga basin states because it recommends that although “Constitution gives full control over waters of a river to a State (List II entry 17)”, central government make “State’s rights….subject to any law made by Parliament for the regulation and development of interstate rivers” by invoking List I entry 56 of the constitution. The plan recommends that “Parliament can make a law taking over the regulation, development and management of an interstate river for the common benefit of the States in national interest.” In effect, the plan makes a controversial recommendation suggesting that Ganga river should be nationalized. The plan should have examined the role of bottle water industry in the Ganga basin, it failed to do so.   
This recommendation of the plan does not factor in the sad experience of declaring tiger as a national animal, for instance. Whenever living entities have been declared national in the country they have become endangered. 
It has been said that by 2025, India could become among the top five economies in the world. If India does become a $5 trillion economy but get all its rivers polluted, food chain poisoned and genetic pool depleted and biometric database of Indians sold or stolen at the behest of commercial czars, will it not be a pyrrhic economic victory? Will not tantamount Faustian bargain?

Benjamin Franklin, one of founding fathers of USA said, “Insanity is an expectation of a different result after doing the same thing over and over again.” NDA government is following the path that was paved by the previous governments’ policies and programs, in the one year it has not done anything to change the direction. Unless it does so NDA’s electoral victory would be another lost opportunity.  

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660, 08227816731, E-mail: 1715 krishna@gmail.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.org

Public Comments invited on Draft Solid Waste Management Rules, 2015

Written By Gopal Krishna on Sunday, May 24, 2015 | 2:27 AM

Central Government proposes to issue in exercise of the powers conferred by sections 3, 6 and 25 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) and in supersession of the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 except as respects things done or omitted to be done before such suppression, it is hereby published for the information of the public likely to be affected thereby; and the notice is hereby given that the said draft notification shall be taken in to consideration on or after the expiry of a period of sixty days from the date on which copies of this notification as published in the gazette of India are made available to public; 

Objections or suggestions on the proposals contained in the draft notification, if any may be addressed, within the period so specified, to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor bagh Road, New Delhi- 110 003 or electronically at e-mail addressed : bnsinha@gov.in, shard.sapra@nic.in; The objections and suggestion which may be received from any person with respect to the said draft rules before the expiry of the period so specified shall be considered by the Central Government. 

The text of Draft  Solid Waste Management Rules, 2015 is available at: http://www.moef.nic.in/sites/default/files/SWM%20Rules%202015%20-Vetted%201%20-%20final.pdf 

 
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