World
China plans urban utilities tunnels
China is planning to establish by 2020 a network of urban tunnels to hold pipelines for public utilities ranging from electricity, gas and water to telecommunications.
 
The nationwide project is likely to be written into China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) for development, which is set to be discussed in October, said Lu Kehua, deputy minister of housing and urban-rural development, on Friday.
 
Better urban underground infrastructure will stimulate investment, improve supply of public goods and drive urbanisation, Xinhua news agency reported.

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After Chikki, now a biscuit scam!
Maharashtra CM Fadnavis announced a three-member committee to investigate the Chikki scam; hope it includes biscuits’ procurements too. RTI activists have made documents of the biscuit scam public even as the CM and CIC are mum on the issue of putting them up in the public domain – mandatory under Section 4 of the RTI Act
 
Maharashtra Minister of Women and Child Welfare Department, Pankaja Munde who has been in the eye of the storm for the Rs206 crore chikki scam, has been given a clean chit once again by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, in the Assembly on 29 July 2015. The CM also announced the setting up of the three-member committee headed by the present chief secretary to investigate the chikki scam.
 
While CM Fadnavis confidently mentioned that no rule has been flouted in the case of chikki, it would do well for his government and now the chief secretary to visit the blog – www.vijaykumbhar.blogspot.in where documents that shockingly reveal illegalities and financial misappropriations of this scam have been uploaded.
 
Nevertheless, Kumbhar is now compelled to send an official complaint to Governor of Maharashtra and request him to order the State Central Information Commission (CIC), which is strangely sitting over his complaint, to put the documents in the public domain, as it concerns the health, safety and lives of children and pregnant and lactating mothers of Maharashtra.
 
Moneylife’s articles on this issue, Chikki moment: When the SCIC also keeps mum on RTI queries and Why Pankaja Munde cannot get away by saying sorry which went viral is but a tip of the iceberg of the scam.
 
Munde allocated the order of chikki worth Rs75 crore, to the same contractor that the previous government of Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) did. That too, when the Tribal Commissioner had given an adverse report and the Industries Commissioner had raised an objection on the procurement procedure and remarked that such a purchase on rate fixation was not correct and had advised to adopt tender procedure. Similarly, the order given for biscuits is equally a scandalous story.
 
As per the documents procured - on 12 February 2015, Munde ordered purchases of Ayurvedic biscuits worth Rs95.51 lakh (Anne 23 enclosed). However, the very next day, that is on 13th February, the order was increased to Rs5 crore without any changes in the number of beneficiaries (Anne 23 A). The order was given indiscriminately to Gowardhan Ayur Pharma Pvt Ltd. In addition, competitive bids were not invited; rate contract with the company was not in force, (As per GR dated 28 July 2011 rate contract was applicable till 27 July 2014 only). (See Anne -22). More seriously, the company does not have its own production unit. Even the company does not possess a license issued by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for any of its products. The company had applied for the same but the file was closed for lack of some compliance from applicant (Anne 24). The company does not have a production unit for manufacturing of biscuits but illegally uses the license of its ‘milk chilling plant’ for the same.
 
Considering that the biscuits are given for overcoming malnourishment amongst children between the age group of 3 and 6 years and lactating mothers, it is not clear why there is no transparency about the name of the medical expert or experts committee, who has recommended these biscuits as good for nutrition. Since these biscuits have been supplied to the state government for several years, it is a mystery that no third party health impact study has been conducted. More shockingly, these biscuits are not sold in the open market but are solely supplied as supplementary nutrition for this contract. So, one wonders whether children are being used as guinea pigs for an unknown product.
 
The company has mentioned three manufacturing units on their packets, when as per rules there can be only one license per product. Here, not only does the company, Govardhan Ayur Pharma not have a license, but it seems to have borrowed licenses from other companies which have them for their own products -
1) Gowardhan Ayur Farma Pvt Ltd, Gat No 432 A, property no 1304, Induri, Tal – Maval, dist – Pune, but no such factory exists. The land is vacant.
2) Srujan Foods Pvt Ltd, Plot No D 8, Chincholi, Solapur, but this company belongs to some other persons  
3) Uttara Foods and Feed Pvt Ltd, Ranjangaon, Tal: Shirur Dist: Pune but this company belongs to Venky’s.
 
When Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members created a hue and cry over the chikki scam, when this party was in the opposition, a one man committee under PS Meena was appointed. But he did not submit any report at all. The government changed and BJP too has gone along with the tarnished contractors. Let’s see what this three member committee headed by Chief Secretary, does.
 
Annexure 22
 
 
 
Annexure 23
 
 
 
Annexure 23A
 
 
Annexure 24
 
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.

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COMMENTS

LALIT SHAH

1 year ago

Clean and transparent nango ki Sarkar under national leadership of khato nathi khava deto nathi

webkitendfullscreen

1 year ago

It's depressing to see that people don't spare their greed in food items for kids and lactating mother. At least keep the greed off the food items of innocent kids. The article written narrates the fact which itself is enough to conclude that all rules were flouted

vnrao

1 year ago

inheritence from her father of money and position is not suffiecent ruining herself at the young age

Time to revamp human resource policies at government, PSUs
The government should not further delay a revamp of the policy relating to recruitment, training, placement and compensation strategies 
 
A newspaper report earlier this month says, “To ensure uniform minimum wages across the country, the Centre has hiked the national floor level from Rs137 per day to Rs160 a day with effect from 1 July 2015.” Last such revision was two years back when the revision was from Rs115 a day to Rs137 per day. As more and more jobs are going out of the organised sector and employment of all unskilled labour and skilled labour in many sectors are being sourced through ‘service providers’ the bench-mark minimum wage becomes more relevant in present day India. I am not able to relate the rates of minimum wages mentioned here to the needs of individuals/families in any geographical area in India. Perhaps, some researchers may be able to guide how the nutrition needs, clothes, shelter, healthcare and post-job needs are factored-in, in these figures. Let us wait and watch.
 
Our country, since independence, or more appropriately, right from the First Five Year Plan has been giving due importance for a vibrant and growing public sector in the nation’s economic development. In fact, certain sectors like defense production, Railways, Post and Telegraph were almost monopolised by public sector till a change in policy became necessary post-LPG (Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation). The policy shift has thrown up many challenges before the government and the organizations in the public sector.
 
Actually, the private-public sector divide in regard to meeting social responsibility obligations/ commitments and a discriminatory approach between the two sectors, when it comes to government policy support is a legacy of the British Raj. Once it is accepted that the resources of the country are the property of the people and irrespective of ownership (whether government or private individuals/ groups/ families/ organisations), all are handling public funds/ resources in a trusteeship sense, this divide can be bridged to a great extent.
 
Presently, in the above background, Indian public sector is ailing from lack of autonomy, indecent competition arising from a wrong understanding of the unique position of our country and irrelevant comparisons. Unique position because, our per capita geographical area, availability of resources, literacy rate, development needs, system of governance  and so on are not amenable to comparison with most of the developed and developing countries of the world. Day in and day out, India is given a rank or rating among the assortment of nations in the world, many of them together can be accommodated in one of the states of India.
 
We are persuaded to believe that corruption and inefficiency exist only in government and public sector. In fact there is nothing farther than truth than this belief. The pre-IT success stories of Railways, Posts & Telegraph, Oil sector, Space Research, Defense Production and several other sectors, which functioned efficiently and where corrupt practices were brought to light quickly and remedial action initiated departmentally are easily and conveniently forgotten. Of course, now, one gets an impression that there is a vested interest working in the private sector to keep government corrupt and public sector inefficient. If Human Resources related issues in the government and public sector are given the attention they deserve, many of the present problems can be solved.
 
The absence of talent in government and public sector is the product of a deliberate neglect of HR-related issues by the government. The ageing top level in government and public sector is a serious issue.  In the present context when performance of government and institutions in public and private sectors is being watched by the world and judged almost online, human resources development HRD at the top across sectors should become a national priority. As a fire-fighting measure, there is a need for a comprehensive look at the manpower planning and deployment of available expertise among institutions across private and public sectors and related HRD issues, which have to be handled without further loss of time.
 
A long-term solution may  have to be found for the HR-related problems, including inability to hire experts at market related compensation (this is applicable up to the position of Secretary or CEO in government and public sector), skills becoming obsolete in short periods, employees’ reluctance to change and demands from trade unions emanating from job security concerns. There may not be a fit for all remedy, as the issues are diverse and sometimes sector or institution-specific.
 
A transparent guidance for a remuneration package based on paying capacity and need for skills for different sectors and ensuring social security should come from government without always worrying about what will be the impact on Cabinet Secretary’s salary or trade union demands. If the government secretary deserves a higher salary, government should not raise budgetary concerns for not paying it. Instead, merger of some departments and utilising the surplus manpower for new job opportunities should be a wiser option.
 
Time is opportune for both private and public sector organisations to have some introspection on their HR practices right from recruitment at the lowest level to selection of CEOs, remuneration packages, training facilities and social security measures for their employees. While organisations in the private sector may have to review the optimum pressure they can put on their executives and managers, government and public sector counterparts may dispassionately examine and modify their remuneration packages to ensure attracting and retaining competitive talent in the present market scenario. Let us not forget that the civil services, executives and staff of public and private sector undertakings have to supplement the skills of the increasing number of political masters who were not as fortunate to get trained or groomed.  The nation is immensely dependent on them for carrying out the development agenda on hand.
 
Government should not further delay a revamp of the policy relating to recruitment, training, placement and compensation strategies across government, public and private sectors.
 
The Government and public sector organizations may have to consider how best the ‘Cost to Company’(C to C) principles can be integrated into their existing recruitment, training, placement and career progression policies. This may involve convincing the existing employees that the changes will only improve the working results of the government departments and organisations they belong to and they will get opportunity to share the benefits and new job opportunities and so long as they are prepared to learn new things/upgrade their skills the infusion of ‘experts’ will not eat into their career progression opportunities. Inter-mobility of executives at higher levels among comparable departments of government and public and private sector organisations should be possible, on transparent norms and strictly based on merits. Changes may have to come first in the recruitment and training procedures for IAS and relates services, management trainees in public/private sector undertakings including probationary officers in PSBs.
 
The revamping of Tata Administrative Service sometime back gives enough food for thought for thinking on these lines. Specialized services like one for Banking/Financial Sector could be evolved for institutions including those in the private sector and all regulatory bodies in the financial sector.
 
There is no denying that there is no dearth of research, studies and analyses on issues relating to prices, income and wages discussed above. Pay Commissions (Central and at state level), wage negotiations in industries as between IBA and Unions in banking industry and in individual companies/organisations and academic research by scholars cover several aspects in different contexts. But at this juncture, as comparisons and need for ‘level playing field’ across sectors and geographies make handling of HR-related matters including maintenance of industrial peace and level of satisfaction at optimum level more complicated and tough, government should consider commissioning a national level comprehensive study by experts covering all aspects of Human Resources Management in the present Indian context.  
 
Till, perhaps ten years back, employers could depend on a growing population of educated unemployed from which they could hire and fire candidates on their terms. Position has changed with the opening up of the economy and sooner we realize it and act, the better. Dodging real issues could take us back to pre-reform days.
 
(MG Warrier is former general manager, RBI, Mumbai and author of the 2014 book “Banking, Reforms & Corruption: Development Issues in 21st Century India”.)

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