The toxic waste has been lying in the UCIL plant since the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, the world's worst industrial disaster that left over 15,000 people dead and thousands maimed
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the Centre for not being serious on disposal of toxic waste lying in the defunct Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) plant, now represented by DOW Chemical Company, in Bhopal for the last 28 years and asked it to take a final decision on it soon, reports PTI.
"You are not sure even after 28 years. It is because people affected and living in Bhopal are poor. It is a failure on your part to deal with this," a bench of justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya said, adding that "there is lack of seriousness in handling this problem".
It asked the Centre to place before it the decision taken by the Group of Minister (GoM) on the issue by the end of June.
The toxic waste has been lying in the UCIL plant since the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, the world's worst industrial disaster that left over 15,000 people dead and thousands maimed.
Expressing reservation in interfering in government decision, the bench said it "never wants and should never want to run the government", but it has to keep in mind public interest.
The court on 11th May had put on hold its order directing disposal of toxic waste lying in the plant at the Pithampur waste treatment storage and disposal facility (TSDF) in Madhya Pradesh's Dhar district.
It had deferred the implementation of its 4th April order in the wake of various issues raised by Madhya Pradesh government and some NGOs about the "possible fall-out of the trial run" for the disposal of UCIL wastes and the fact that the "GoM considering the issue is yet to take a final decision".
When the matter was taken up today, the government, however, said that it will soon decide on the issue and the GoM will be meeting on 8th June to take a decision on it.
"In Pithampur, people are bound to protest. They are entitled to protest. You have not taken any decision. Even this affidavit of yours is so vague and you always say that you are hopeful," the bench said and said that people affected by the toxic waste can approach court for compensation.
"The court never wants and should never want to run the government. It is not our job. If media had continuously followed this like the environment issue then picture would have been different," the bench said.
The court was hearing an appeal against the Madhya Pradesh High Court's interim decision directing the Environment and Forests Ministry Secretary to explain what is to be done with the 350 tonnes of toxic wastes lying at the UCIP since 1984 when the Bhopal gas leak disaster had occurred.
Citing lack of uniformity in the prices of petrol, the petitioner said that in Thane, the price per litre is Rs81.70, while it is as low as Rs58.06 in Port Blair, Rs81.75 per litre in Bengaluru and Rs73.18 in Delhi
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday issued notices to Centre, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Finance Secretary, besides three oil marketing companies on a public interest litigation (PIL), which claimed that recent hike in petrol prices is "illegal" since it lacked the Parliament's approval and "ultra vires" of Constitution, reports PTI.
A bench of Justice RY Ganoo and Justice NM Jamdar ordered service of notices to the respondents, who apart from the central ministries also include the oil marketing companies, namely the Indian Oil Corp, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp.
The bench has posted the matter to 30th May.
The PIL, filed by Rajendra Phanse, submitted that the petrol prices were hiked "abruptly" on 23rd May 23 at the stroke of midnight after the conclusion of the budget session of Parliament.
The petitioner contended that the raise in petrol prices was "totally illegal" as it has no approval of the Parliament.
The oil marketing companies had increased prices of petrol by Rs7.50 per litre.
Terming as "undemocratic", the hike since it was announced after the Budget session was over, the petitioner argued that in the past the decisions like raising the rates of postal and telephone services used to be taken during the budget session.
The petitioner further said that the hike was against the principles of natural justice as it is bound to affect the entire population of the country.
Citing lack of uniformity in the prices of petrol, the petitioner said that in Thane (Maharashtra), the price per litre is Rs81.70, while it is as low as Rs58.06 in Port Blair, Rs81.75 per litre in Bengaluru and Rs73.18 in Delhi.
This showed that the prices of petrol change from city to city within the country, which is nothing but a geographical discrimination in contravention of Article 14 of the Constitution, he said.
Since petroleum is a Central subject, the prices of petrol must be uniform across the country in tandem with the principles of equality before law, the petition maintained, citing uniformity in scales of pay under the Central government, including subordinate judiciary, across the country.
Supply of petrol is a essential service required by the nation and the Centre should set up a Regulatory Commission to draft a uniform policy on the petroleum products, including petrol, diesel, CNG and LPG, and place the policy before Parliament for approval, the petitioner said.
Advocate VP Patil, who appeared for Phanse, a resident of neighbouring Thane, urged the court to direct the respondents to fix a uniform rate of petrol throughout the country.
He also urged the high court to direct respondents to roll back the hike of Rs7.50 per litre of petrol.
Phanse also requested the court to direct the respondents to take any policy decision pertaining to hiking petrol prices only during the parliament session since such decision affects common people the most.
The PIL also maintained that the Centre be refrained from taking any "hasty" decision--about increasing prices of petrol---when the House is adjourned sine-die because such decision is undemocratic and illegal in nature.
Schemes investing in US markets seem to be the flavour of the season and now JP Morgan, not wanting to be left behind, has joined in
Franklin Templeton MF recently launched a scheme—Franklin US Opportunities Fund and soon, Reliance Mutual Fund and DSP BlackRock Mutual Fund followed suit and filed offer documents to launch Reliance US Dollar Fund and DSP BlackRock US Flexible Equity Fund respectively. JP Morgan which has launched three offshore equity funds in the past, recently, filed an offer document with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to launch another fund-of-fund (FoF)— US Growth Equity Offshore Fund. The other FoF schemes are: JPMorgan JF ASEAN Equity Off-shore Fund, JPMorgan JF Greater China Equity Off-shore Fund and JPMorgan Emerging Europe Middle East and Africa Equity Off shore Fund. JP Morgan is probably looking to give investors a varied option of offshore funds to invest in and competition to DSP BlackRock MF, another fund house, which has a wide array of foreign funds. The asset management company filed a couple of offer documents last year to launch JP Morgan America Large Cap Equity Offshore Fund and JP Morgan Global Financial Equity Offshore Fund, these schemes, however, are yet to be launched.
According to the offer document, JPMorgan US Growth Equity Offshore Fund, will invest 95% to 100% of its assets in JPMorgan Funds—US Growth Fund. The rest would be kept in money market instruments, liquid schemes, cash and cash equivalents. The foreign fund which was launched in October 2000 has an objective to invest in companies that have the ability to deliver significantly higher growth than market expectations over the next three to five years. At least 67% of the assets of the underlying scheme will be invested in a growth style based portfolio of equity securities of companies that are domiciled in US or carrying out the main part of their economic activity in the US. The underlying scheme may also invest in Canadian companies. The scheme performance will be benchmarked to the INR equivalent Russell 1000 Growth Index (Total Return Net).
The underlying scheme, priced in US dollars, has returned 17.25% year-to-date, as on 30 April 2012. The benchmark returned 14.36% and the Sensex returned 5.86% in the same period. However, in the last three-year, five-year and 10-year period where it returned, 20.45%, 0.72%, and 2.18% respectively, it failed to outperform the benchmark which returned 20.85%, 3.61% and 4.73% in the respective periods. The top holdings of the fund are: Apple, Mastercard, Biogen Idec, IBM and Intuitive Surgical. More than half of the assets of the fund are invested in the technology and consumer products sectprs.
This being a FoF scheme you will not get any long-term tax benefit you would have got had you invested in any domestic equity scheme. A better option for the investors would be to rely on a systematic investment plan (SIP). Which scheme to choose? A good equity diversified scheme would do the trick. Namdev Chougule will be the fund manager of the scheme.
Additional Scheme Details
Minimum Investment amount: Rs5,000 and in multiple of Re1 thereof
Additional Investment amount: Rs1,000 and in multiple of Re1 thereof
Annual scheme recurring expenses: 1.650% p.a. of average daily net assets
Exit load if switched before one year: 1%, and nil after one year
Taxation: Investors would be subject to long-term and short-term tax on capital gains.