Proposal for Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) linked to funds envisaged in Companies Act and new Companies Bill
CCI will unleash terror of environmental diseases by handing over environment for electoral finance to ‘wolves’
New Delhi/14/12/2012: Electoral finance driven endorsement to a Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) headed by the Prime Minister to fast track projects above Rs 1,000 crore. The proposed CCI is situated in the Companies Act, 1956 and the proposed Companies Bill 2011 which provides corporate funding of political parties since 2002 amidst manifest collusion between the BJP and the Congress and their allies. A paper on 'Politics of Funding of Elections and Electoral Reform' published in Think India Quarterly is attached.
From the very outset, Ministry of environment & forests has consistently been kept structurally weak now the premature obituary of the ministry is being authored by the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister in lieu of electoral finance for the upcoming parliamentary elections for which parties have started declaring their candidates.
The deafening silence of almost the entire opposition party and members of United Progressive Alliance despite the protest by citizen groups even in the face of CCI proposal reveals the impact of electoral finance in dictating creation of docile investor friendly institutions that favor ungovernable business enterprises seemingly beyond legislative will. If their silence is viewed in the context of provision for corporate funding to political parties in the form of 5 % of annual profit to companies under the Companies Act, 1956 (amended in 2003) and 7.5 % of annual profit to companies under the proposed Companies Bill, 2011 (recommended by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance), it does not appear surprising. The Bill also provides for contributions to NGOs. The purchased silence of a large number of NGOs in this regard is not inexplicable either.
The proposal of CCI is pregnant with hitherto unacknowledged terror of environmental diseases. While efforts are on to monetize natural resources, it does not internalize the cost of inter-generational and intra-generational adverse health impacts. The CCI is reportedly expected to substitute the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) to ensure expeditious approval if timelines are not adhered to.’
This is contrary to globally acknowledged preventive route to reverse the trend of mortality and morbidity as has been confirmed by World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Global Burden of Disease project which has underlined that one-quarter of the global disease burden, and more than one-third of the burden among children is due to modifiable environmental factors.
Even a conservative National Environment Policy, 2006 revealed, “It is increasingly evident that poor environmental quality has adversely affected human health. Environmental factors are estimated as being responsible in some cases for nearly 20 percent of the burden of disease in India.” When country’s environmental health infrastructure is almost non-existent and admittedly public health system has collapsed, CCI proposal is an invitation for public health disaster.
The proposal for CCI to clear large projects has stirred opposition, including from within the government.
While the current Finance Minister and the Prime Minister will be remembered in the history as the most environmentally destructive individuals, the collusion of almost the entire political class and the so called voluntary organizations (who have been volunteered by corporate donations) will remain enshrined as an act of collaboration with terrorist activities against the ecosystem and the elements that constitute the substratum of human and non-human living existence. When billions of hazardous wastes and thousands of kilometers of ‘mined’ land is abandoned with impunity, it is not an exaggeration to refer to such acts of ‘development processes as developmental terrorism. CCI is an act of subordinating health and ecosystem of Indian to 2008 National Mineral Policy, 2008 in particular which advocates a regime of self-regulation.
It is increasingly becoming clearer that CCI like proposals are artifacts of investors in electoral finance. The proposal of CCI is an act that envisages devouring the present and future generations of Indians and their ecosystem.
The structural dependence of ministries environment and forests and tribal affairs on Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs makes their opposition a pro forma act. Given the fact that a junior environment and forests ministry and under a junior minister gives clearance to some 100 projects every month and some 25 of its officials are supposed to monitor compliance of environmental clearance conditions for over 6,000 projects which have been accorded clearance, its formal opposition does not inspire even an iota of confidence.
It is clear that India’s ecosystem is all set to be handed over to wolves. Forewarning future democracies, Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the USA said, “Cherish therefore the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention…If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, judges and governors shall all become wolves.” Jefferson was one of the Founding Fathers of USA and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence of USA.
If investors in electoral finance have not totally hollowed out the legislative will as yet and legislators remain homo sapiens, the winter session of the Parliament still can ensure that CCI does not see the light of day. Failing which peoples’ movements will have to gear up to give the proponents of despotic CCI a fitting reply in the 2014 elections.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: toxicswatch.blogpsot.com