Maharashtra to crack down on corruption in co-operative credit societies

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government will launch a drive against corruption in co-operative credit societies, beginning today, with office-bearers and staff in societies which duped depositors and borrowers, facing criminal charges, reports PTI.

Criminal cases have already been registered against 144 such societies and 2,112 persons, of which 634 have been arrested, cooperatives minister Harshwardhan Patil said.

A survey conducted by the department found that there was corruption to the tune of Rs373 crore in these societies, the minister said.

There are altogether 1.14 crore members of the 17,278 such societies in the state till March 2009, Mr Patil said. The deposits are of Rs13,812 crore, he said. "In the last two years, we haven't allowed any new society to be formed," he added.

The government has proposed setting up an authority to "deal sternly" with frauds in these societies, the minister said.

A Bill on the issue is likely in the winter session of the State legislature beginning at Nagpur on 1st December, he added.


Tata sets aside Rs850 cr to boost power supply in Mumbai till FY11-12

Mumbai: Tata Power plans to invest Rs850 crore till FY11-12 to beef up generation, transmission and distribution, a senior company official told PTI.

The company will be investing Rs850-crore over 3 years (FY 10 till FY 12) to enhance its generation, transmission and distribution capabilities, said Tata Power's executive director-operations, S Padmanabhan.

According to Mr Padmanabhan, the company is also “eyeing a customer-base of close 1,40,000 by March 2011” from the existing clientele of 85,000. He claims more than 50,000 customers have shifted to Tata Power from its competitor—RInfra (Reliance Infrastructure)—in recent months.

Besides, to improve the power supply, the company has earmarked Rs300 crore each for transmission and distribution while Rs250 crore will be invested in upping generation capacity, he said.

Tata Power is witnessing a significant market response and this is evident from the nearly 1,200-calls per day received by the company's officials (seeking its power) over the last two weekends, Mr Padmanabhan said.

“We will be laying a new network for all our new customers. In the current fiscal, we will be laying around 110 circuit kilometres of network,” the Tata Power official said.

The cost of laying one-kilometre of such a network works out to around Rs1 crore, he said.

The company has also set up 17 consumer sub-stations in the last six-months to support its expansion.

Besides, to facilitate customers' change-over from RInfra to Tata Power, it has set up two call-centres capable of handling 1,000 calls per day, five customer-care centres, 40 drop-boxes and kiosks.

“We have 40 officials who go to small colonies, including slums, to collect payments and also vans to go to different places to fill-up forms. Our aim is to create infrastructure, which will make it easy for people to become Tata Power customers,” Mr Padmanabhan said.


The plot sickens: Probe into the Commonwealth Games mess takes a backseat

An RTI activist’s query shows that the Commonwealth Games probe is just inching along. Should we assume that the probe will be just another Indian case of justice delayed—and denied?

The Commonwealth Games (CWG) scandal, where allegedly crores of rupees were siphoned away at the cost of the exchequer, simply refuses to fade away. Today's news reports indicate that the first draft of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the CWG issue will be tabled by the beginning of next year.

But will the CAG report actually manage to unearth all the dirt behind the shoddy, opaque-and as been alleged, corrupt-goings-on that the country was subject to in the run-up to the Games? Since the jury is out on this one, one can only wait and watch.

Readers should be cautioned, though. The same daily from which we carried the information on the CAG report also indicates that the entity had voiced concern about various CWG projects about a year ago to the government. But this CAG alert was ignored.

Right to Information (RTI) activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal has been repeatedly trying to unearth "complete and detailed information together with related correspondence/documents/file-notings on under-mentioned (Mr Agrawal's RTI petition to the Central Public Information Officer, Central Vigilance Commission, New Delhi has a long list of hard-hitting queries) aspects relating to irregularities and corruption relating to the Commonwealth Games."

Mr Agrawal has consented to share his RTI documents with Moneylife. He finally got a reply from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on 19th November, for his RTI application dated 18th October.

The CVC answer provides a few 'answers' (all these points are based on the documents provided to Moneylife by Mr Agrawal), and here is our interpretation of the same:

1) The probe is meandering along at the proverbial Indian rate. Almost all the detailed queries put forward by Mr Agrawal have answers which seem to indicate that there has been no progress on any of the issues, despite the media-and public-outcry. Here's a sample:

a) "Complaint regarding alleged irregularities in the construction of Bus Queue Shelters for Commonwealth Games, 2010 by DIMTS - CBI has registered an FIR in this matter"

b) "Procurement of 'Secure Communication Network' for Commonwealth Games, 2010-the Commission informed Govt of NCT of Delhi that it would not pursue the matter further at this stage (emphasis ours). Subsequently, another complaint was received from Dr Harsh Vardhan, MLA, and the Commission sought comments (sic) from Govt of NCT of Delhi on the complaint, which are awaited.  

At this stage, it is a veritable alphabet soup-of agencies against whom corruption charges have been levied and government entities ostensibly probing these graft allegations.

What's more, here's the clincher in the reply given to Mr Agrawal from the CVC:
"As regards the details of the correspondence/documents/file noting etc as sought by you in these paras, you may please note that in these cases the authorities concerned have not yet issued final orders in these matters, that is, the cases have not reached their logical conclusion and hence, are to be considered under investigation. Therefore, the information sought by you cannot be provided at present, keeping in view the provisions contained under Section 8 (l) (h) of the RTI Act."

This ensures that there is a lid firmly kept on the actions of the various bureaucrats and politicians responsible for aiding these alleged corrupt activities in the run-up to the CWG.

Yesterday, the country faced another major embarrassment when the national broadcaster and telecaster went on the blink. Employees of Doordarshan and All India Radio went on a flash strike protesting against the alleged role of Prasar Bharati's CEO, BS Lalli, in the CWG broadcast mess (yes, there is one). What next, a go-slow from the babus at the sports ministry?

Will this whole CWG imbroglio just become yet another Indian case of justice (much) delayed-and also denied?    


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