Appalled by the way people tend to treat stray animals, Preeti Bhatt decided to set up an organisation especially for their protection at Pune.
I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man,” said Mahatma Gandhi. As much as this quote is true, it is also a bitter truth that in a nation where human beings are treated disrespectfully, expecting love and compassion for animals is a tall order. This is where Friends of Stray Animals (FSA) comes in. FSA, located in Pune, was founded in 2008 by Dr Preeti Bhatt, who has been a trustee of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Pune. While with SPCA, Dr Bhatt was appalled at how people treat stray animals; some horrifying cases were reported to the NGO, but lack of manpower, adequate facilities and internal conflicts prevented them from doing much about it. That was when she decided to start her own organisation that would provide the best treatment possible to these animals.
FSA started by providing a home to seven rescued cats; it now has three working branches looking after nearly 250 cats and 50 dogs. Its latest animal shelter was opened at Bhor, on the outskirts of Pune. Mitali Courtinho is another member of the organisation, who operates a separate animal shelter. One of the greatest challenges for Dr Bhatt was to convince people about her motives and to generate support for the organisation. Although financially independent, she required the support of the veterinary doctors, animal activists, government officials as well as people in her area to set up the organisation. She says, “My family has been my greatest strength. My husband and kids never questioned my beliefs. There were times when everyone was against us, but they always stood by me with as much compassion as I have for my pets.”
Born and raised in Mumbai, Dr Bhatt completed Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from R.A Podar Medical College in Mumbai. She practiced medicine for several years before shifting to Pune, completed her PG in Ayurveda from Pune University. Although a medical doctor by profession, she was always empathic towards animals. She actively participated in animal welfare, and often took them to treatment to the SPCA hospital. Well known for her dedication and goodwill, Dr. Bhatt became the trustee of SPCA Pune from 2005 to 2007.
She has witnessed a number of cases of cruelty to animals in the past 11 years; this has made her resolve to protect them even stronger. Initially, she faced much harassment from her neighbours who lodged several complaints against her. One of them even threw boiling water on one of the cats that was sleeping in his parking lot. “People will always harm the weak because they cannot fight back. It is a harsh reality that some people that can go to any limit to harm animals. We want to try and eradicate such behaviour,” she says. She has now given up her medical practice and manages the NGO full time.
The animals are looked after well and given timely medical help. FSA holds regular animal adoption as well as vaccination camps. FSA takes the initiative to sterilise stray animals in other localities. Apart from FSA’s employees, there are volunteers who work from their own localities. The local veterinarians also show their support to the organisation by charging less than the regular price for vaccinations and treatment. The support is growing now, with more people willing to come forward and show kindness to animals. Regarding donations for the trust, Dr Bhatt says, “We need volunteers who are willing to adopt pets or help in their own way. Also, since there are a large number of animals, we constantly require newspapers and old clothes, so anyone willing to donate that is always welcome.” Donation cheques can be sent to the address alongside. Donations are exempt under Section 80G of Income Tax Act.
Friends of Stray Animals
2, Indumati Apartments, Lane-7,
Plot-17, Dahanukar Colony,
Kothrud, Pune 411029
The new CMD is faced with the legacy of the on-going reservoir issue with Reliance. He also needs to pay attention to ONGC Videsh’s operations and expansion
State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) is India's single largest oil and gas explorer, whose production of oil in 2012-13 amounted to 26.12 million tonnes (against 26.92 mt in 2011-12) and gas to 25.33 billion cum (cbm) in 2012-13 (as against 25.51 cbm) in 2011-12.
According to TK Sengupta, ONGC's new director (offshore), based on the current plans and blocks that they have, they may be able to reach 100 mmscmd of natural gas by 2017-18. This they hope to obtain from their eastern and western gas fields, where gas has already been discovered. Many areas are under serious exploration, and ONGC hopes that they may strike it rich.
Although ONGC recently discovered two gas fields in the Mahanadi basin,
ONGC officials feel that even the proposed increased and revised rate of $8 per mBtu may not be workable in this block. In fact, it is felt that even at $11 per mBtu, assuming a 10% margin, it may not be worthwhile pursuing this exploration further.
Effective 1st April, the new gas price has been fixed at $8 per mBtu, against the current rate of $4.2, much to the dislike of all the consumers. Although the government has announced the rate, one does not know what legal obstacles that some consumers may resort to.
In any case, based on the revised price of gas at $8 per unit (mBtu), after paying a dividend to shareholders and providing for dividend tax, ONGC will be richer for Rs5,200 crore, and the revenue will reach Rs16,000 crore according to Dinesh K Sarraf, the new chairman and managing director (CMD). While this may be a happy state of affairs, there are few works on hand that needs Sarraf's continuous attention not only in India, but overseas as well, where ONGC's overseas arm, ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) operates.
Early this year, OVL acquired an additional 12% participating interest in Brazil's deepwater offshore block, in Campos basin, for $561 million, thus increasing their holdings to 27%. The balance of 73% is held by Shell. This additional purchase has been a lucky break because of the pre-emption rights exercised by old partners (both OVL and Shell) prevented Sinochem Group (of China) that had shown keen interest in the block! Although the production started in 2009, progress has been incrementally increasing and is said to reach 35,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boepd) by 2014.
OVL has been inroads in pre-partition Sudan, way back in 2003 where it has invested about $ 2.5 billion in petroleum exploration and production in land block No: 5 and offshore block No: 15. While traces of gas been found in block No: 5, exploration is yet to start in block No: 15. Readers may be aware of the serious problems that staff of ONGC faced due to the political turmoil there, where situation is slowly returning back to normalcy.
Investments made in Venezuela and Mozambique will also add to OVL's gas resources overseas. In Siberia, OVL are also working on Shale gas deposits and may seek expertise to assist in that area.
Back at home ONGC, as reported earlier in Moneylife, struck gas at a well at Noha in Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh in 2012, and two years down the line have discovered gas in four wells near Jabalpur. Further, appraiser wells are being drilled to assess the commercial viability.
In addition to all these activities, ONGC is also engaged in trying to get the best out of ageing old wells and increase production in existing blocks.
The new CMD is also faced with the legacy of the on-going reservoir issue with Reliance, where both the parties are working together to find out if, due to the proximity of the blocks, whether RIL has been drawing gas from ONGC's wells. Since the reservoir is deep down in the bowls of the earth, it is believed that such thing can happen; the matter is under investigation and likely to be settled in due course, possibly by a government appointed arbitrator.
With these data in the background, couple of interesting issues can be raised for a debate and for practical and realistic suggestions.
Since CMD Sarraf has stated that the estimated profit, after paying dividend and tax on dividend, will be Rs5,200 crore, what can ONGC do, for its corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending? For one thing, is it possible for ONGC to make a special dispensation in terms of price and offer certain quantity of gas to fertiliser manufacturers, if approved by the Government? Also, think in terms of committing the new gas discoveries to be assigned for such similar noble causes?
Secondly, will the Government come forward to realistically demarcate the blocks, leaving adequate "no man's land" between allotted parties, as the reservoir of one may be easily accessible to the neighbour, as it appears to have happened in the case of Reliance and ONGC?
They must take special care when NELP X is announced!
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
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