Allocations for women safety scheme drastically cut: Par Panel

A Parliamentary panel has rapped the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for its lack of seriousness in strengthening safety and security of women in the country, even as the crime against women are on the rise.

The comments comes as the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs led by former Home Minister P Chidambaram found that the allocations made for Schemes for Safety of Women has been “drastically” cut down from Rs 313.30 crore at Budget Estimates 2017-18 to just Rs 81.75 crore at Budget Estimate 2018-19. This amount is for whole country.

“The Committee is disappointed that the allocated amount of Rs. 22.69 crore (capital) could not be utilised completely due to which the allocation got substantially decreased to Rs.7.87 crore in Revised Estimates 2017-18. The Committee strongly disapproves of this lack of seriousness in strengthening the safety and security of women in the country,” the panel said.

Reminding the MHA that the Nirbhaya Fund was intended to implement schemes which are technology-driven and which will significantly enhance the security of women, the panel recommended that the Ministry should desist from allocating funds, which are granted under the Nirbhaya Fund, for the purposes that can be covered by normal spending.

“The Committee also recommends that at least one scheme should be implemented in every city under the Nirbhaya Fund to significantly enhance the security of women,” it said.

The panel was also “displeased to note” that the allocations made for border infrastructure and management have been constantly decreasing over the years.

“The Committee observes that the funds under this head were significantly decreased by Rs 560.16 crore at Revised Estimate stage in 2017-18 mostly due to delayed construction of infrastructure,” it said adding the MHA should “seriously go into the reasons for slow pace of work and poor utilization of funds”.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 14, 2018)

Advertisements

Nothing much changed in naxal hot-bed

Exactly a year ago, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called for an “introspection” on what led to the killing of 12 CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma despite naxals suffering “unprecedented losses” in 2016. But, it seems nothing much have changed in the naxal hot-bed.

Official figures showed that naxal violence in Chhattisgarh is on the rise this year so far compared to corresponding period of previous year though the overall figure is on the decline.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), there were 61 incidents in Chhattisgarh this year till February 15 as against 53 during the same period last year. While 15 people were killed in naxal violence this year, it was 17 in Chhattisgarh in 2017. Chhattisgarh also continue to be on the top of the list of naxal-infested states.

The attack on a mine-protected vehicle comes a year after a similar incident in Sukma when 12 CRPF personnel were ambushed.

Making a statement in Lok Sabha on 14 March, 2017, Singh then said, “there is a need for introspection on this incident. I have directed the Director General, CRPF to conduct a detailed enquiry into the incident so that the lapses that led to the incident can be identified which will reduce the possibility of repetition of such incidents in the future.” This time too, Singh has directed the CRPF chief to rush to the spot.

He had then said, “sustained operations by the Security Forces ensured that South Bastar districts, considered to be the nucleus of LWE strength witnessed a considerable fall in violence in 2016 (252 incidents as against 326 in 2015).”

In the latest budget, the government has earmarked Rs 1,344 crore for fighting naxals across the country and reaching out to people in Maoist-infested districts with development projects. The bulk of the allocation goes to projects proposed by states in 35 worst naxal-infested districts to tackle development issues.

Another Rs 200 crore is allocated for Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme for paying ex gratia to families of those killed in naxal violence, insurance premium of police, training and operational requirements, compensation for surrendered Maoists, security related infrastructure and other expenses of village defence committees.

The scheme is expected to reduce naxal violence and number of attacks on security personnel deployed in such areas.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 14, 2018)

‘Telagana govt gave no extraordinary reason why Muslim quota should be there’

TRS government’s plans to provide 12% quota to Muslims in Telangana may not see the light soon with the BJP-led NDA saying the state has not given any “extra-ordinary” reason for the President to give approval to such a proposal.

The Telangana government under K Chandrasekhara Rao has sent the bill it passed in April last year for the President’s approval and the Ministry of Home Affair’s (MHA) response in Rajya Sabha last week could further trigger a political battle.

Rao, the TRS chief, has already flexed his muscles in the state ahead of Lok Sabha polls talking about a third front to take on the BJP and may try too woo Muslims to his side by vociferously demanding an ascent to the Bill.

The Telangana Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in Services under the State) Bill, 2017 was passed unanimously at a special session where five BJP MLAs, who were opposed to the Bill, were suspended.

In a written response to TDP MP T Devender Goud’s question in Rajya Sabha last Wednesday, the MHA responded that the Bill has been circulated to the concerned ministries for their opinion.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) opined that the Supreme Court in Indira Sawhney case has held that Article 16 of Constitution speaks of “adequate representation and not proportionate representation”. It also noted that the quota should not exceed 50% while the Bill breaches this mark.

“As per observations of the Apex Court, relaxation can be done in extra-ordinary situations and while doing so, extreme caution has to be exercised and a special case made out. The Government of Telangana has not brought out any facts or grounds on the basis of which the present proposal, which is in violation of the orders of the Supreme Court, would deserve to be accorded approval,” the MHA said.

Reacting to the government response, Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP from Telangana Ananda Bhaskar Rapolu said time has come to recast the way reservations formula. “The Centre should take into account ground realities and go in for proportionate representation,” Rapolu said.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 12, 2018)

Don’t bring to us unbelievable stats: Par panel to MHA

Don’t bring to us “unbelievable statistics” — this was the terse message from a Parliamentary panel to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in its latest report on border security.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs led by former Home Minister P Chidambaram did not mince words when it wondered how terrorist attacks continued to happen in Jammu and Kashmir if security forces foiled all infiltration attempts in the past four years.

Acknowledging that the efforts taken to foil infiltration attempts had resulted in reduction in such incidents, the panel said its main concern was with the incidents where the terrorists “successfully infiltrate” into Indian territory and carry out terror attacks.

However, the report said, “the committee also takes exception to the confusing statistics furnished by the Ministry that show that all cases of infiltration were foiled in the past 4 years. If such was the case, no terrorist attack would have happened in the last three years.”

The Committee strongly recommends that instead of furnishing unbelievable statistics, the Ministry should focus on further augmenting the capacity of Border Guarding Forces to make Line of Control and International Boundary a zero-tolerance area for terrorist infiltration,” it said.

***************************************************

Reasons for increase in infiltration attempts from Pakistan

** Pakistan’s ability to regulate the inflow of terrorists into Kashmir

** To direct attention of international fora from internal security situation within Pakistan to Kashmir

** Help foment trouble and provide indigenous hue to the violence in Kashmir

** In view of damage inflicted by Indian forces to terrorists over the last five years, need to revive strength of terrorists operating in Kashmir to keep their movement alive

****************************************************

Ministry should focus on further augmenting the capacity of Border Guarding Forces to make Line of Control and International Boundary a zero-tolerance area for terrorist infiltration,” it said.

The comments are part of a report prepared by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs headed by former Home Minister P Chidambaram on the action taken by the government on its earlier recommendations on ‘Border Security: Capacity Building and Institutions’.

The report acknowledged the MHA’s argument that Pakistan is making attempts to “divert” international attention from the internal security situation within the country to Kashmir. The panel said India should use all diplomatic avenues to counter it.

It also said Pakistan’s efforts to “regulate the inflow” of terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir and to “foment violence” in the state need to be “combated/checked to eliminate any possibility of terrorist attacks” there.

The panel had in last April expressed concerns over the sudden spurt in infiltration attempts on Line of Control (LoC) and to this, the government has now replied that it has constructed 668.66 km long Anti-Infiltration Obstacle System (AIOS) along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border under the operational control of Army.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 9, 2018)

One defeat that brought relief to CPI(M)

This one defeat will bring some relief to the CPI(M), as it leaves the party the agony of deciding what to keep and what to forgo.

CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP Jharna Das Baidya (63) was fielded in Badharghat against sitting MLA Dilip Sarkar, who left Congress to join BJP, but she has lost by a margin of 5,448 votes.

While Sarkar polled 28,561 votes, Baidya garnered 23,113 votes. Congress candidate Ratan Das came third with just 505 votes, which was less than the margin Sarkar got in 2013 when he contested in Cong ticket.

There was speculation that the plan was to send senior Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat to Rajya Sabha from Tripura in place of Baidya, a post graduate in Bengali, after the results. However, this plan is improbable now with BJP winning the state.

A victory for Baidya, a Dalit whose Rajya Sabha terms only in April 2022, at a time CPI(M) losing the state would have put the party in a piquant situation. It would have meant CPI(M) would have to choose between membership in Rajya Sabha or Assembly and if party chooses that Baidya stay in Assembly, it would have lost one member in Rajya Sabha.

In a bypoll to the Rajya Sabha in such a scenario, BJP will win the polls and the CPI(M) will lose one more member in the Upper House. At present, CPI(M) has six members, including Baidya, and it will further go down to five with West Bengal MP Tapan Sen retiring on April 2.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 4, 2018)

Will it be ‘Chalo Paltai’ in CPI(M) too?

Tripura turning saffron by junking the 25-year-old red rule may force a chorus for ‘Chalo Paltai’ (Let’s Change) in CPI(M) over its relationship with Congress to take on a resurgent BJP ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

The big question for CPI(M) will be how to fight the BJP and what strategy to be adopted after the saffron surge in a Left bastion after losing deposits in 49 of the 50 seats it contested five years ago.

The CPI(M) puts the blame more on BJP’s money power and its virtual appropriation of Congress votes for the defeat but this defeat it knows has huge ramification inside and outside the party, as it being the ideological flag bearer in the fight against “communal RSS-BJP combine”.

Factions in the CPI(M) led by General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and his predecessor Prakash Karat are crossing swords over whether to have an understanding with the Congress and it would have its echo in Party Congress in Hyderabad next month. The Karat faction has so far dominated the party espousing a ‘big no to Congress’ line and winning a vote in Central Committee last month.

However, the Tripura decimation, which leaves the party’s dominance only in Kerala, will give Yechury supporters a handle to push for cooperation with all secular democratic forces, including Congress, to take on BJP. While Yechury does not argue for an electoral front or understanding with Congress, he is against any explicit mention closing doors to Congress.

Karat will have tough time rebutting this line, as the results will give more lung power to his opponents, including the Bengal unit that has been vociferously arguing for alliance with Congress.

The immediate task before CPI(M) will be to analyse the results and find out where it went wrong. “All is well” is was what “our comrades in Tripura” told the CPI(M) central leadership till the last minute.

Anti-incumbency and failure in meeting the aspirations of people, especially youth, despite in power for long are cited among reasons in the initial analysis. Senior party leaders also felt that the CPI(M) could not match the organisational strength of BJP, which went with the slogan ‘Chalo Paltai’.

Another reason cited by them was the total absence of Congress in electoral battle. CPI(M) was banking on Congress to cut into anti-Left votes but their absence led to consolidation of in favour of BJP.

The assessment that the CPI(M) could benefit from the BJP decision to align with Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) also went awry as the results show. The CPI(M) was expecting anti-Left Bengalis to vote for them instead of Congress to defeat BJP, which has aligned with the tribals.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 5, 2018)

Did Karti helped Bengaluru firm?

Investigators are scanning through a series of payments received by a company “indirectly” linked to former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti for services, including arranging government clearance for FDI in a Bengaluru firm.

The CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) have recovered a number of invoices from INX Media Ltd, whose previous promoters are Peter Mukherjea and Indrani Mukerjea, and Advance Strategic Consultancy Pvt Ltd (ASCPL), a company the CBI claims is “indirectly” linked to Karti.

While Chidambaram and his son have denied any wrongdoing, Karti is in custody in connection with the granting of approval for FDI in INX Media.

Sources said investigators are now looking into the clearance given by Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for FDI by Mauritius-based M/s Katra Katra Holdings Pvt Ltd in its Bengaluru-based subsidiary M/s Mason and Summer Alcobev Pvt Ltd, which manufactures and markets alcohol.

If one goes by an ED report, the Advance Strategic Consultancy Pvt Ltd (ASCPL) raised an invoice (No: ASCPL/0506/003) dated 20 August, 2005 for Rs 10 lakh plus service taxes on Katra Holdings. The ASCPL received a payment of Rs 9,39,050 (after Tax Deducted at Source or TDS).

According to the report, M/s Katra Holdings received approval of FIPB for FDI in its subsidiary M/s Mason and Summers Alcobev. “The invoice on Katra Holdings Ltd was raised on this same address in Bengaluru (that of Mason and Summers Alcobev). FIPB meeting in this case took place on 26 August, 2005 and invoice was raised on 20 August, 2005. Payment was made by Katra Holdings on 1 September, 2005,” it claimed.

Chidambaram had cleared the 36 cases, including Katra Holdings’, recommended by the FIPB Board, according to a statement issued by Ministry of Finance on 29 September, 2005. Katra Holdings was permitted to invest Rs 4.66 crore in Mason and Summers Alcobev “to set up a new JV (joint venture) to undertake wholesale trading on cash and carry basis”.

Officials of Katra Holdings and Mason and Summers Alcobev could not be contacted for their comments.

Another mention in the report is about the invoice dated 29 March, 2006 raised on Aircel Televentures Ltd, which obtained FIPB clearance for sale of its shares in Aircel Ltd to Maxis on 20 March, 2006.

“Aircel Televentures Ltd, which had no business other than holding shares of Aircel Ltd paid Rs 26,00,444 (after TDS) to ASCPL vide cheque no 9984075 dated 11 April 2006,” the report said.

The report also claimed that the ASCPL received Rs eight lakh plus taxes from EI Forge Ltd and the payment was admitted to made for sanction of a loan by SBI Global Factors Ltd. “The payment was 2% of the amount of the loan ie Rs 4 crore. The matter is being investigated further,” it said. (ENDS)

Name & Address of the existing/ proposed foreign company

Name & Address of the Indian company, if already incorporated

Activity

Particulars of the proposal

FDI/NRI Inflows

(Rs. in crore)

M/s Katra Holdings Limited

No. 06, St. James Court,

St. Denis Street,

Port Louis,

Mauritius

M/s Mason & summers

Alcobev Private Limited,

777-K/Z,

13th Main,

HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar

Bangaore-560 028

Providing technical

consultancy, wholesale trading on a cash and carry basis by importing spirits, wines, liquors, bitters, tonics etc and selling the same to wholesalers

To set up a new

JV to undertake

wholesale trading

on cash and

carry basis

4.66

Source: Press Release Issued by Ministry of Finance on 29 Sep, 2018

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 4, 2018)

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

%d bloggers like this: