The PAC, chaired by senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi, is likely to quiz Mr Vahanvati about the legal opinions he may have given to the telecom ministry when he was Solicitor General in UPA-I
New Delhi: Attorney General of India Goolam Vahanvati, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director AP Singh and law secretary DR Meena are expected to appear before the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Friday to give evidence in the probe into the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation scam, reports PTI.
The PAC, chaired by senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi, is likely to quiz Mr Vahanvati about the legal opinions he may have given to the telecom ministry when he was Solicitor General in UPA-I.
The Attorney General has been made a witness by India's premier investigating agency Central Bureau of Investigating (CBI) in its charge-sheet filed before the special court in the 2G scam.
The CBI director has been asked to appear before the PAC for the second time. Mr Singh had appeared before the PAC on 15th February and told the panel that it was wrong to say that the 2G spectrum allocation had caused zero loss to the national exchequer.
Mr Singh also had a one-to-one meeting with MR Joshi last month. The CBI is investigating the 2G spectrum case and has already filed a charge-sheet.
The committee has also called Cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar and principal secretary in the PMO TKA Nair to depose before it on 16th April.
The 15th and 16th April sessions will be the last hearings by the outgoing PAC.
The PAC headed by Mr Joshi is already in the process of filing its report on the 2G spectrum case and is likely to complete it before its term ends on 30th April.
The new PAC, in which Mr Joshi will continue to be the chairperson, will take charge on 1st May and is set to carry on the probe into the anomalies in 2G spectrum allocation.
Mr Chandrasekhar and Mr Nair have been asked to appear as the PAC is likely to scrutinise the role of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in the controversial allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008.
The two senior bureaucrats are likely to be asked questions on the communications between the finance ministry, the Department of Telecom and the PMO on the allocation of 2G spectrum.
Sources said the two top officials could also be asked questions based on the prime minister's recent statement that the finance ministry and telecom ministry had concurred on the issue, after which he did not press the matter further.
Two years after the introduction of the extra FSI scheme that was subsequently struck down in court, builders are concerned that the Maharashtra government does not appear keen to resolve the matter
With the issue of additional floor space index (FSI) for constructions in suburban Mumbai still unresolved, and the Maharashtra government undecided on the matter, builders are considering formulating a new strategy in this regard.
"The government has not done what it should have," said a representative of a developers' association. "If the largesse is rolled back, we have to find a way to convince them to rethink." But he did not elaborate on the possible course of action, and refrained from saying whether a legal option was being considered.
In April 2008, the state government decided to allow an additional 0.33 FSI, over and above the existing cap of 2. This additional FSI could be availed on payment of premium. However, this was stayed and subsequently set aside by the Bombay High Court in October 2008 on the grounds that the provisions of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act (MRTP), 1966 did not authorise levy of premium.
FSI (short for floor space index) is the ratio of buildable area to the total area of the plot. As a formula:
FSI= (Total covered area on all floors of all buildings on a certain plot)/(Area of the plot)
Thus, an FSI of 2.0 would indicate that the total floor area of a building is two times the gross area of the plot on which it is constructed.
Then in October last year, the MRTP Act was amended to authorise the levy of premium. However, developers have been pleading with the government to implement the amended provision so they can avail of the extra FSI by paying the premium.
In the meanwhile, several builders who had availed of the extra FSI when it was implemented two years ago and have completed their projects, have been hampered by the change in the policy as the municipal corporation has not allowed occupancy for these constructions yet. So if the government does not resolve the matter, they could suffer major losses. The problem was described by Sunil Mantri, president of the Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI), in a letter to the state chief minister last month. This is also why some commentators are suggesting that the matter could go to the courts.
One analyst explained, "If the policy is struck down and these buildings have to be regularised, it would lead to harassment, both financially and otherwise. Already, delay in getting official permits has left them with many unsold properties. Developers are not likely to take this lying down and they will try some way to get the government to implement the additional FSI norm."
MCHI, after legal consultation with senior advocate KK Singhvi, has said that the government can implement the 0.33 FSI scheme without inviting suggestions or objections regarding the amendment to the Development Control Regulations. He cited the provisions to the MRTP Act that were amended retrospectively in 2010, and published in the official gazette dated 21 December 2010.
There is another aspect related to this FSI matter which is also worrying builders. This is the TDR matter. TDR (or transfer of development rights) is granted to plot owners whose land has been taken for a public purpose. TDR is saleable and added on to the permitted FSI, increases the buildable area.
But TDR is more expensive than FSI and the additional FSI scheme helped builders counter the TDR lobby. Today, TDR is mostly available from developers involved with slum rehabilitation and only a few like DB Realty, Ackruti and HDIL sell TDR. "A rollback on the extra FSI," Mr Mantri wrote in his letter to the chief minister, "will frustrate the intention to curb rising prices of TDR in the hands of a cartel."
But it appears that the government has no intention of allowing the extra FSI. In a recent note to the state chief minister, the Urban Development Department has said that increasing the FSI in the suburbs would affect the fabric of the city's development plan. It says that additional FSI should not be granted unless the plan is amended suitably and infrastructure augmented.
The representative of the developers' association challenged this saying, "It is not rational to say that infrastructure will be overburdened, because in 2008 (when the extra FSI scheme was introduced) obviously the government did not think so."
If the goes back on the scheme, it will be the second instance of the government reviewing a real estate policy decision of the earlier dispensation. In the first instance, the government had stayed the additional FSI granted to builders for parking lots.
This is a new fraud on email that uses the names of Grameen Foundation, and Nobel Peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus, to lure gullible people
A new mail is doing the rounds over the Internet, seeking to give money for a noble cause to the 'chosen' recipient. The email, under the name of Grameen Foundation, is nothing but a fraud and it has nothing to do with the Foundation by the same name that was founded to follow the model of Grameen Bank beyond the borders of Bangladesh to help poor people. But more about Grameen Foundation later.
The scamsters have not just used Grameen Foundation's name as the sender, but they have also provided the registered office address, the website link, and used the name of Paul Maritz, the chair of the Foundation. However, one look at the email ID from where it originates, immediately reveals the hidden face of the scamsters and their agenda.
The email reads: "To celebrate the new year 35th anniversary program, Grameen Foundation is giving out a yearly donation of 950,000.00 (nine hundred and fifty thousand Great Britain pounds) to 10 lucky recipients, by which at least 15% of the awarded funds should be used by you to develop a part of your environment. This is a yearly program which is a measure of universal development strategy. You are to contact Rosanna Ramos-Velita, Treasurer ([email protected]) with your PIN number (GF.101) in order to redeem your grant and get more information."
The question is, when the Foundation itself needs donations, funding, to run its projects, why would it give money to people like you and me? Why would some one who does not know us shell out 9.5 lakh pounds (about Rs6.87 crore) through an email. Besides, the email says that you must spend a minimum 15% of this amount for development of your environment. In other words, you can spend the rest of the amount for your own development!
Clearly, this is yet another fraud in progress, aimed at gullible people who are lured by lotteries or free money schemes. So, if you receive such a message, delete it immediately. Here are some points to keep in mind to help you identify such fake and fraud messages. Such scams are widespread, so governments and web sites like www.truthorfiction.com, www.fraudwatchers.org or www.scambaits.com, are giving special attention to the matter, to warn and help potential victims and catch scamsters. The web site of the Nigerian Central Bank has a warning on the home page that says, "If it looks too good to be true, it usually is." The US Secret Service and the British National Criminal Intelligence Service also undertake investigations regularly and issue warnings to people constantly.
Now about the Grameen Foundation. It is a global non-profit organisation based in Washington that aims to increase access of poor people to microfinance, like it has successfully done thrugh Grameen Bank which was set up by Nobel Peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus. The Foundation helps the world's poorest, especially women, to improve their lives through access to microfinance and technology. Being a non-profit organisation, it needs donations from people to implement its projects.