Citizens' Issues
HC seeks Pachauri's response on bail cancellation

Justice S.P. Garg granted Pachauri four weeks time to respond and posted the matter for July 16

 

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked TERI director general R.K. Pachauri to file his response on a plea by a woman research analyst who has accused him of sexual harassment to cancel the bail granted to him.
 
Justice S.P. Garg granted Pachauri four weeks time to respond and posted the matter for July 16.
 
During the hearing, senior advocates Ramesh Gupta and Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Pachauri, sought more time to file their response.
 
On Tuesday, the court issued notice to Pachauri and sought his response on the plea by Wednesday while admitting the woman's plea who asked court to cancel his bail.
 
Appearing for the research analyst, advocate Prashant Mendiratta told the court that Pachauri was "influencing" the witnesses in the case and a "free and fair investigation" cannot be carried out if Pachauri is allowed to roam free.
 
The woman alleged that there is "overwhelming evidence" that he misused the bail granted to him by the trial court on March 21.
 
"Even police has filed an application in the trial court alongwith some documents that Pachauri has violated various conditions imposed on him while he was given bail and that he also influenced witnesses.
 
"Police have even said that he was not cooperating with them," the advocate told the court.
 
Mendiratta contended that Pachauri is an "influential man" who has been the top boss of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) for the last 34 years and was in active touch with its officials.
 
Pachauri is "dictating what needs to be said to the witnesses" in the case, the lawyer added.
 
The woman also opposed Pachauri seeking modification of a trial court order that bars him from entering the TERI premises.
 
Pachauri, who is facing charges of sexual harassment and currently is on leave from TERI has requested a modification of an earlier court order and permission to resume work from the office premises.
 
"Pachauri now sought modification of order by which he was granted anticipatory bail. He is an influential man. He should not be allowed to enter TERI premises till the investigation is going on," argued Mendiratta on Tuesday.
 
After the sexual harassment complaint, Pachauri had stepped down as chairperson of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February and proceeded on leave from TERI.
 
He has denied the allegations against him.
 
Citing several SMS texts, e-mails and WhatsApp messages as evidence, the woman accused Pachauri of sexually harassing her soon after she joined TERI in September 2013 and filed a complaint this February.
 
Pachauri was granted anticipatory bail on March 21 but was directed not to not enter the TERI office till the investigation is complete and not to leave the country without the court's permission.

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Huge cache of detonators seized in Bengal

The detonators were found in an abandoned sports utility vehicle (SUV) in Gangajalghati area of the district, some 200 km from Kolkata

 

In a major haul, at least 25,000 electronic detonators were seized on Wednesday from West Bengal's Bankura district, police said.
 
The detonators were found in an abandoned sports utility vehicle (SUV) in Gangajalghati area of the district, some 200 km from Kolkata.
 
"We have seized 25,000 electronic detonators. Evident from the labels on them, the devices were manufactured in a company in Andhra Pradesh and brought here without any documents," said Superintendent of Police (Bankura) Sudheer Kumar Neelakantam.
 
"We are probing the matter. Prima facie it appears they were brought here for some illegal purpose," added Neelakantam.

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State of SEZs is warning for land acquisition

The new land acquisition bill piloted by the government of Prime Minister Modi has been sent to a parliamentary committee for re-consideration after facing opposition and accused of being against farm interests

 

There is strong evidence that past acquisitions of land for development have gone awry. That should serve as a warning, as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government enters the second year in office and proposes to continue its battle for a new, controversial land acquisition law.
 
A 2012-13 report of the Comptroller and Audit General of India, the official auditor of the central government, revealed these key findings:
 
- No more than 62 percent of land -- much of it acquired from farmers -- for special economic zones (SEZs) has been used for its intended purpose: to boost manufacturing, exports and jobs.
 
-- Most SEZs are populated with information technology (IT) and IT-related companies, while manufacturing accounts for only 9 percent of all SEZ projects.
 
-- SEZs fell short of their job, investment and exports targets by wide margins. For instance, they generated less than 8 percent of the jobs expected.
 
The auditor analysed a representative sample of 187 developers and 574 SEZ units spread across 13 states (Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) and the union territory of Chandigarh for the period 2012-13.
 
The new land acquisition bill piloted by the government of Prime Minister Modi has been sent to a parliamentary committee for re-consideration after facing opposition and accused of being against farm interests. 
 
The government’s argument is that India needs to fast track the bill, so that land can be made available for industries-to generate employment and power economic growth. 
 
What about SEZs? They were created, with motives similar to those expressed by the government, under the Special Economic Zone Act, 2000. This was enacted in 2005 to make SEZs growth-engines of the economy. An SEZ is a specifically delineated duty-free enclave, deemed foreign territory for the purpose of trade operations, duties and tariffs.
 
The previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government cleared 576 SEZs covering 60,375 hectares, of which 392 SEZs covering 45,636 hectares were notified (approved land) till March 2014. But on the use of land, of the 392 notified zones, only 152 are operational, accounting ro4 28,489 hectares.
 
The land allotted to the remaining 424 SEZs (31,886 hectares) has not been put to use (52.8% of total approved SEZs), although approvals and notifications in 54 cases date back to 2006. A look at some states and the percentage of idle land, based on the audit report: 
 
- Odisha 96.6 percent
- West Bengal 96.3 percent
- Maharashtra 70.1 percent
- Karnataka 56.7 percent
- Tamil Nadu 49 percent
- Andhra Pradesh 48.3 percent
- Gujarat 47.5 percent
 
In 30 SEZs (1,858 hectares) in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Gujarat, developers made no investments; the land is idle and has been in their custody for between two and seven years.
 
This apart, jobs, investment and exports also fell short of targets by a wide margin, the audit report found.
 
- Employment fell short by 93 percent: SEZs generated 0.2 million jobs instead of 3.9 million.
 
- Investments fell short by 59 percent: SEZs were to attract investments of Rs.194,662.5 crore ($36 billion) and no more than Rs.80,176.3 crore ($14.8 billion) was invested.
 
- Exports fell short by 74 percent SEZs exported goods valued at Rs 100,579.7 crore ($18.6 billion) instead of the projected Rs.395,547.4 crore ($73. 2 billion).
 
Manufacturing was supposed to be a key focus of SEZs, but that did not happen. Of the 625 approved projects, only 152 -- or 24 percent -- of the approved projects were operational. In IT/ITES, out of 354 notified projects, 91 were operational, in multi-product zones, out of 60 approved, 13 percent operations. It was 31 and a mere one for biotech, 26 and nine for pharma and 153 and 38 for others.
 
Almost 56 percent of the approved projects are from the IT sector, while only 9 percent are in the multi-sector, manufacturing business. While 59 percent of of the operational SEZs are in the IT sector, only 8.5 percent are from the manufacturing sector.
 
“The large number of IT/ITES SEZs coincides with the expiry of the 10-year income-tax break period allowed to IT sector under Software Technology Park Scheme which gave a fillip to the sector. Several units closed and shifted to SEZs to avail of the benefits offered in SEZ area,” the report said.
 
Aongthe states, out of the 392 notified SEZs in India, 301 (77 percent) are located in states regarded to be developed. Andhra Pradesh (now bifurcated into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) has 78 units, followed by Maharashtra (65), Tamil Nadu (53), Karnataka (40), Haryana (35) and Gujarat (30).
 
A key reason for the uneven spread of the SEZs across the states, according to the audit report, was the absence of single-window clearance in many states. This led to approval delays.
 
SEZs are mainly located close to urban areas. For example, in undivided Andhra Pradesh, of 36 operational SEZs, 20 were close to the capital city, Hyderabad.
 
The report, in conclusion, said: “The SEZ policy and procedures need to be integrated with the sectoral and state policies with the involvement of the unique advantageous points therein.”

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