High Court upholds validity of Singur Land Act

The Calcutta High Court held that if Tata Motors, which had shifted its Nano car plant from Singur to Sanand in Gujarat alleging political unrest, makes the application for compensation, the district judge would have to dispose it within six months

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court today upheld as constitutional and valid the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011 by which the West Bengal government vested the land leased to Tata Motors (TML), reports PTI.

Justice IP Mukerji, while upholding the validity of the Act, directed that compensation be paid to TML if it makes an application for it while noting that the district judge of Hooghly should determine the amount of compensation to be paid.

It held that if TML, which had shifted its Nano car plant from Singur to Sanand in Gujarat alleging political unrest, makes the application for compensation, the district judge would have to dispose it within six months.

Justice Mukerji stayed the application of the order till 2nd November to give the parties a fair chance to appeal before a higher court, if aggrieved with the order.

The court also appointed the district magistrate and SP of Hooghly district, within which Singur falls, as special officers to ensure smooth transfer of land from TML to the state in two months.

The court also upheld the vesting of the land given to vendors, who had also challenged the Act in a separate application.

Justice Mukerji disposed both the applications, by TML and the vendors, challenging the Singur Act which was notified on 21st June.

The government took possession of the Singur land totalling 997 acres on the evening of 21st June itself.

TML had challenged the Act before the high court on 22nd June, claiming that it was unconstitutional and as such vesting of the 600 acres of land leased to it was invalid.

Around 300 acres had been earmarked for the vendors.

The West Bengal government had acquired 997 acres of land at Singur besides Durgapur Expressway, about 50 km from here, in 2006 for the Tata Nano factory.

The Singur acquisition by the erstwhile Left Front government had led to a huge political unrest in the state over acquisition of fertile land, ripple effects of which were witnessed in other parts of the country as well.

Political analysts say that the Singur acquisition was the first stumbling block faced by the then CPI (M)-led Left Front government that led to its debacle in the elections ranging from the panchayat to the assembly.

The Trinamool Congress, which had led the movement against acquisition of fertile land, won the assembly elections by a landslide margin in May this year and the first legislation by it was the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011 by which it vested the land leased to TML as also to the vendors.

TML had moved its Nano plant from the state to Gujarat after it decided to shift the factory alleging political unrest and expressing apprehension for the safety of its workers and officials in October 2008.

Though TML shifted all the machinery from Singur, it maintained the leasehold of the land.

In reply to a letter by West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) in September 2010, TML had expressed its willingness to hand over the land to it provided it was suitably compensated.


BP pushes for early govt nod on D6 satellite field development

"We are hopeful that the government will approve development of satellites and that is how you can bring gas production back up," Bob Dudley, the chief executive of BP Plc said in a TV interview

New Delhi: Fresh after getting approval for investing $7.2 billion in Reliance Industries' (RIL) oil and gas properties, BP Plc today pressed for an early government nod to develop satellite fields in the KG-D6 block and reverse sagging natural gas output from the prolific acreage, reports PTI.

Bob Dudley, the chief executive of Europe's second biggest oil company, arrived here yesterday evening on a two-day visit during which he will meet the virtual who's-who of the government-from prime minister Manmohan Singh to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and oil minister S Jaipal Reddy.

Before his Thursday visit to the KG-D6 fields, which has been at the centre of BP's $7.2 billion investment to buy a 30% stake in 23 oil and gas properties held by the Mukesh Ambani-run firm, Mr Dudley said the block holds the resources to get back to the planned 80 million metric standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd) of gas output.

"I think yes," he told NDTV in an interview when asked if there was enough gas in the block.

Referring to D6 as the 'Golden Block', he said: "D6 is a world class resource, but also a complex reservoir that needs high technology and risk taking."

"BP's great sub-surface exploration skill" can help Reliance get back the sagging output, he said.

There are more fields around the currently producing Dhirubhai-1 and 3 (D1 and D3) fields in block KG-DWN-98/3, or KG-D6, which need to be quickly brought to production.

"What we need to do now is develop those satellite fields... We are hopeful that the government will approve development of satellites and that is how you can bring gas production back up," he said.

Reliance has submitted a plan to invest over $1.5 billion in developing four satellite fields around D1 and D3 to produce up to 10 mmscmd of gas by 2016.

D1 and D3 have seen output drop to 36.5 mmscmd from 54 mmscmd in March last year instead of rising to 61.88 mmscmd as planned for the current year. Together with 7.4 mmscmd from the MA oilfield in the same block, the total gas production from KG-D6 currently is 43.9 mmscmd.

RIL has attributed the fall in output to a drop in reservoir pressure and water ingress, but upstream oil regulator DGH said the company has not drilled an adequate number of wells.

Mr Dudley stressed that approval for the satellite field development should come so that the winter-when weather does not permit drilling in Bay of Bengal-can be used for engineering and actual site work can begin when the weather window opens up early next year.

"I believe it will take to 2014 to get these kinds of structures developed and tied back into infrastructure. We can see the resources out there and I believe by 2014, we will be back up," he said.

Mr Dudley said production from KG-D6 will rise in 2014. Interestingly, 2014 is also when the price of gas from KG-D6 comes up for review. The government had fixed the KG-D6 gas price at $4.205 per million metric British thermal units (mmBtu) during the first five years of production. The KG-D6 fields began production in April, 2009.

"D6 is a world-class resource. But as always when you get into oilfields and gas fields, you are trying to imagine down miles under the sea, (but often) it is not quite as you expect. You find some surprises. So the field has declined and our teams and Reliance teams are working on that," he said.

Mr Dudley, however, said drilling more wells in the currently producing D1 and D3 fields are not the answer to the fall in production.

"People are advocating that we put more straws (wells) in it. But actually what is around (D1 and D3) are a few more (reservoirs). What we need to do now is develop those satellite fields and some R-series fields around it," he said.

"We are just getting in and looking at the economics now.

It is deepwater. It is lots of technology, it is high risk. I think they (satellite fields) should be economic. I am hopeful we will be able to find a way to make those economic," he said.

The priority for BP is to get KG-D6 production back to its envisaged levels.

"But for us, the priority working with RIL is to get gas production back up. It will take some time... So if we get these satellites going, we can restore this," he said.


Indians as guinea pigs: Clinical trials killed 1,600 people in the past two years; only 22 compensated for fatalities

It took five months for the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to reply to Hisar-based RTI activist Ramesh Verma to tell him the gory truth about how multinational pharmaceutical companies play with the lives of Indians during clinical trials and almost never bother to pay compensation

Here are a few shocking facts that will expose the extent of the rot in the Indian pharma industry, and more important, how multinational (MNC) pharma companies toy around with the lives of Indians.

  • Number of dead between the year 2008 and 2010 due to clinical trials of various drugs by multinational companies in India is 1,600!
  •   The compensation paid by pharmaceutical companies including Merck, Wyeth, Bayer, Pfizer, Amgen, Lilly, Sanofi, PPD, Quintiles and Bristol Myers is for only 22 of the 1,600 who died (as per information, all these 22 people died in 2010). The compensation together, totals to a mere Rs53.30 lakh (at an average of Rs.1.50 lakh to Rs2 lakh. One company by the name of PPD has paid Rs10 lakh—perhaps for the death of more than one person (and this is only an estimate).
  •  288 people lost their lives in 2008; 637 people died in 2009 and 668 died in 2010.
  •  No of registered trials: 11 between July and December 2007; 137 between January and December 2008; 548 between January and December 2009; 806 between January and December 2010 (note the increase in the number of people volunteering for clinical trials over the last three years).

 This shocking information was revealed by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to Hisar-based RTI (Right to Information) activist Ramesh Verma, who has filed more than 500 RTI applications, most of them pertaining to health issues.
It took five months for the DGHS to finally bow down to transparency after the Central Information Commission (CIC) slammed it for not providing the required information by its PIO (Public Information Officer). Besides giving the PIO a show-cause notice for penalty under Section 20 (1) and (2) of the RTI Act, the CIC ordered that information be given to Mr Verma before 25 September 2011. Accordingly, he was provided information on 23rd September. However, he has still not received complete information and is now filing his complaint again to CIC Shailesh Gandhi.
Verma asked the following queries in his RTI application:
1.    In the past 10 years, approvals for clinical trials have been given for which drugs... Please give names of the drugs, name of the pharmaceutical company, name of the research organisation conducting trials, conditions on which such trials have been approved.
2.    What are the mandatory requirements for the organisation which conducts such clinical trials?
3.    Sample copy of written approval by the member of the family of the person who would be undergoing the clinical trial of the drug.
4.    Details of the compensation paid in case of harm caused to the person during the course of trials. How many people have received how much compensation in the last 10 years?
5.    How many complaints have been received in the last 10 years regarding clinical trials and copy of action taken against such complaints.
6.    How many deaths have occurred during such clinical trials and details of compensation given—along with names of the companies.
 But the shocking fact is that there is no basic figure of financial compensation fixed for monetary compensation for these pharma companies despite the fact that they are playing with the lives and health of people.
Regarding details of compensation, the DGHS in its reply quoted from the Good Clinical Practices Guidelines (GCP) recognised under Schedule Y to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules issued by the DGHS, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which prescribes:

"The compensation for accidental injury for Research subjects who suffer physical injury as a result of their participation in clinical trial... are entitled to financial or other assistance to compensate them equitably for any temporary or permanent or disability subject to confirmation from IEC. In case of death, their dependents are entitled to material compensation.

"Obligations of the sponsor to pay: The sponsor whether a pharmaceutical company, a government or an institution should agree, before the research begins, to provide compensation for any serious physical or mental injury for which subjects are entitled to compensation or agree to provide insurance coverage for an unforeseen injury whenever possible.''
Regarding complaints received from those adversely affected by clinical trials, DGHS replied: "As per available records, one complaint was received from R Rajendran, Sivakasi, regarding clinical trial of Vitreosolve injection in patients with non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. The matter is sub-judice in the High Court of Judicature of Madras at Madurai Bench in Writ Petition (MD) No 9894 of 2010 filed by R Rajendran, son of A Raju…"
Regarding deaths due to clinical trials
, the DGHS provided information only of the past three years and not 10 years as asked by Mr Verma, stating: "Serious adverse events of deaths may occur during clinical trials due to various reasons. These could be disease related deaths like cancer etc or administration to critical or terminally ill patients or side effects or unrelated causes. Such deaths are investigated for causal relationship by investigator and by Medical Monitor of sponsor. The information collated revealed that there were 288 deaths in 2008, 637 in 2009 and 668 in 2010... There were 22 cases of deaths which were related to clinical trial in the year 2010 where compensation has been provided by company."
Regarding the norms of clinical trials, DGHS replies: "[The] number of clinical trials actually conducted in government hospitals/private hospitals is not available with Central Drugs Standard Control Organisations (CDSCO) as prior to 17.11.2008 registration of clinical trial was voluntary. For all clinical trials, permission of which was granted between 17.11.2008 to 14.05.2009, applicants were advised to get the trials registered at ICMR registry at www.ctri.in.

"However, for all clinical trials permitted on or after 15.06.2009, applicants are being informed that it is now mandatory to register the trial at the said ICMR site before enrolling first patient in the study."
(This is the first part of a two-part series)



Krishnaraj Rao

5 years ago

Life is indeed worthless in India. Brilliant expose of shocking institutionalized negligence. Waiting eagerly for Part II of this article.



5 years ago

Life is very cheap in India. That is why many of the multinational companies are setting their research shop India.
You would note that from the earlier days of manufacturing tie-ups nowadays research-lab tie-ups are increasing because local companies could use their political clout and HUSH-UP things. Recent example that life is cheap in India was the shooting of the personal of toll-booth. The killer is a rich drunkard just trigger happy. Who would sustain the life of the dependant wife and young kid as well as the two mentally deranged brothers dpendant on the poor fellow murdered. BMWs mowing down roadside sleepers by drunkan driving is an ordinary matter in India.


5 years ago

After so called LIBERALISATION of INDIAN ECONOMY many sins in many areas are being practicised. We need thousands of Brave people to dig out the GRAVES.

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