Monday, April 8, 2013

‘Odisha Gave Undue Benefits to Posco India’

press trust of india
BHUBANESWAR, 7 APRIL: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has accused the Odisha government of extending undue benefits to South Korean steel major Posco in allotment of a piece of land in the state capital here.
“The company extended undue benefit in allotment of land, disregarding zonal regulation and charging of premium at a reduced rate,” the CAG in its latest report tabled in the Assembly yesterday said.
The CAG observation was made based on the performance audit on the land allotments by the state government's General Administration department headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The auditor has come across widespread irregularities in land allotments.
The CAG report said that the country arm of South Korean Steel major POSCO-India had applied for allotment of a plot measuring 12,000 square feet for its Chairman-cum-Managing Director's (CMD) residence-cum-guest house in 2006.
However, later it enhanced the requirement twice to 25,000 sq ft in April 2007 and later 2 acres for the same purpose.
“Though the same area was earmarked in the Comprehensive Development Plan of the Bhubaneswar Capital city for commercial use, the company was allotted 1.700 acres land in January 2008 at a premium of Rs 25 lakh per acre against prevalent market value of the land of Rs 64 lakh per acre resulting in a loss of Rs 66 lakhs to the state government,” the CAG has observed.
The CAG report also observed that the land was lying vacant till June 2012.
“The company, thus, was extended undue benefit in allotment of land disregarding zonal regulation and charging of premium at a reduced rate,” the CAG said in its report.
CAG raps govt for other arbitrary land allotments

BHUBANESWAR, 7 APRIL: The CAG has rapped the Odisha government for allotting valuable land here without any proper policy for the past 12 years.
The latest CAG report for the year ending 31 March 2012, that was tabled in the Assembly yesterday, said the General Administration (GA) department allotted 464.47 acres in Bhubaneswar in 337 cases during 2000-12 to individuals, government offices, government undertakings and private bodies for establishment of hotels, hospitals, educational institutions and NGOs. Of the 464.47 acres, NGOs/organisations were allotted 183.44 acres by the department headed by Mr Naveen Patnaik.
“Although the GA department was entrusted with the management of this land since 1952, yet no rules, regulations, manuals for allotment of land have been framed by the department for the past 60 years ... The department has no comprehensive data on total land available, allotted and encroached upon,” the report said. A test check of 164 cases of the total 337 found that the process of land allotment lacked a defined policy and procedure and absence of any rule or criteria gave room to arbitration in allotment. Of the cases checked, 63 pertained to other than government parties. Of these, 16 applications for land were disposed off within a year while in the rest delays ranged from a year to 24 years, it said. pti

Source: The Statesman, 8 April 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sugar Decontrol to up Subsidy Bill by Rs. 2,500 Crore: Chidambaram

The government's subsidy bill will shoot up by Rs. 2500 crore per year on account of decontrol of sugar, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Saturday.

The Cabinet decided on Thursday to decontrol the Rs. 80,000-crore sugar industry. While the move does not affect open market prices, the government will pay the difference between ex-mill price of Rs. 32 and the public distribution system (PDS) price of sugar.

The finance minister said that the states will have to make their own arrangements. "States are free to obtain sugar from competitive bidding and from sugar mills," he said, adding that the difference will be born by the government as a subsidy for two years.

In October last year, a panel headed by Dr C Rangarajan, chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, had recommended the removal of two control measures -- the regulated release mechanism and the levy sugar obligation -- immediately and of other restrictions gradually.

At present, the sugar sector is controlled from production to distribution. Through the release mechanism, the Centre fixes the sugar quota that can be sold in the open market. Under the levy system, it asks mills to contribute 10 per cent of their output to run ration shops costing the industry Rs. 3,000 crore a year.

The government currently buys sugar from mills for about Rs. 20 per kg and sells to ration card holders for Rs. 13.50 per kg.

Under the decontrolled regime, the sugar requirement of states for the public distribution system (PDS) will be met through purchases from the open market and the states will be given a fixed subsidy based on their existing allocations.

Karnataka Ministers’ Assets Grow 665 Per Cent

statesman news service
BANGALORE, 4 APRIL: The average assets of a minister in Karnataka increased by 665 per cent at Rs 6.96 crore between 2004 and 2008.
This has been revealed by the Association of Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch bodies comprising over 1,200 non government organisations and other citizen-led organisations. The findings follow analysis of 24 ministers’ assets from a batch of 27.
The results are based on the affidavits filed by them during the 2004 and 2008 elections. The progress between 2008 and 2013 would be known after they file their papers before contesting the 5 May Assembly polls.
According to Mr Tirlochan Shastri, member ADR, the exercise is part of an effort to educate the voters on bringing about  better governance and  cleaner elections This is being done under the Karnataka Election Watch, a non-political body which is plumbing for making the elections fair and transparent.
He told newsmen here that ADR’s analysis also revealed that 18 out of the 24 ministers whose assets were studied were crorepatis. This is not all. About 61 per cent or 131 out of 215 legislators whose details were examined turned out to be crorepatis in 2008.
In fact, BJP legislator from Vijaynagara constituency in Bellary–Hospet belt, Mr Anand Singh, topped the list with his wealth pegged at Rs 88 crore  followed by Mr V Somanna who accounted for Rs 11 crore and Mr A Asnotikar  a close third at Rs 10.4 crore. All of them were ministers in the BJP government.
Responding to queries, the ADR members explained that the average asset per MLA in Karnataka Assembly in 2008 was Rs 5.98 crore, at least  in the case of 214 out of the 224 legislators. Against this ,in 2004,   the average possession of  about 186  legislators  stood at Rs 1.29 crore.
Interestingly, the Karnataka MLA's average assets, at Rs 5.98 crore, were  the highest in comparison to his counterparts from the southern region. The Tamil Nadu legislator’s average assets, for example, in 2011 stood at Rs 3.98 crore and that of the Andhra Pradesh MLA’s at Rs 3.98 crore. The Kerala legislator, in turn, proved to be a poor cousin in that his average possession  in 2011 did not exceed Rs 1.43 crore.
Personal wealth and possessions apart,  the NEW found that  42 per cent ,or ten of the 24 ministers who were investigated, had “self-declared" criminal cases against them.
This information was based on the affidavits that they had submitted to the Election Commission before the 2008 elections. Further, two others had declared that there were serious charges of murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and theft against them.
Source: The Statesman, 5 April 2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013

CAG Indicts Modi Govt for ‘Undue’ Favours to Corporates

press trust of india
GANDHINAGAR, 3 APRIL: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has come down heavily on the Gujarat government and state Public Sector Undertakings for causing a loss of nearly Rs 580 crore to the exchequer by bestowing “undue” favours to large corporate entities.
The major industrial houses to whom the Narendra Modi government played the benefactor included Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Essar Steel and Adani Power Ltd (APL), the report for the year ended 31 March, 2012, said.
The government auditor's report, tabled in the state Assembly yesterday, also said the state government tweaked rules to grant land to automaker Ford India and engineering and construction major Larsen and Toubro resulting in loss of revenue. “Gujarat State Petronet Ltd (GSPL) was responsible for deviating from the agreed terms of recovery of gas transportation charges from the specified entry point of the company's pipeline network and this led to passing of undue benefit of Rs 52.27 crore to RIL,” the report said.
CAG was of the view that GSPL had failed to safeguard its own interest and passed on undue benefit to RIL. Similarly, it noted that Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) did not adhere to terms of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which led to short recovery of penalty of Rs 160.26 crore and passing of undue benefit to Adani Power Ltd (APL).
The CAG also indicted the Gujarat government for regularising 7,24,897 square metres of land “encroached” by Essar Steel Company Ltd (ESCL) at Hazira in Surat at “unjustifiable” price, resulting in short recovery of ad hoc occupancy price to the extent of Rs 238.50 crore.
“Government land measuring 7,24,897 square metres was encroached by ESCL in Hazira, Surat district. On request of the company, the government decided in July 2009, to regularise the encroachment by levy of 2.5 times of ad hoc value of land at Rs 700 per square metre, on the ground that the land in a nearby area was given to L&T,” the report said.
“We noticed that Rs 700 per square metre considered by the government for working out the ad hoc value was not justifiable,” the CAG report said.
The report said the state government granted land to Ford India and Larsen and Toubro at concessional rates “playing around the rules”.
L&T was alloted government land for manufacture of super critical steam generators and forging shop for nuclear power plant. The price of land was fixed by the District Level Valuation Committee instead of State Level Valuation Committee rate which resulted in forgoing of revenue of Rs 128.71 crore, it said.
The government auditor said the state government had allotted around 460 acres (18,63,687 square feet) valued at Rs 205 crore to Ford India Private Limited without price fixation by the State Level Valuation Committee. The report, however, did not mention the quantum of loss to state exchequer on this account. “It is desirable if the government followed a uniform policy for allotment of government land to safeguard its revenue and public interest at large,” the report said.
Source: The Statesman, 4 April 2013

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Janamuktikami April 2013 Available

April 2013 Issue of Janamuktikami is now available online.