Right to Information
MSRDC spends Rs119 crore on maintenance, while MEP collects toll
Over the past 17 years, MSRDC spent money on maintenance of 31 flyovers in and around Mumbai. However, since 2010-11, MEP Infrastructure is collecting toll at five Mumbai entry points and thus should have done the maintenance, says an RTI activist
 
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corp (MSRDC) has spent Rs119.44 crore on maintaining 31 flyovers, which was the responsibility of private toll collecting agency, reveals a reply received under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
 
As per the information received by RTI activist Anil Galgali, in the past 17 years, MSRDC has spent Rs119.44 crore on maintenance of the roads and flyovers. However, since 2010-11, MEP Infrastructure Pvt Ltd was awarded the toll collection contract for just Rs2,242.35 crore and thus the responsibility for maintenance rest with this private contractor, Galgali says.
 
Till, 2010-11, the MSRDC itself was collecting toll from five entry points in Mumbai. During FY1999-2000, it collected Rs28.35 crore, FY2000-01 Rs56.57 crore, FY2001-02 Rs65.12 crore, FY2002-03 Rs476.84 crore and so on. The year before the contract was allotted to MEP Infrastructure, the state-run Corporation earned Rs231.39 crore from toll in FY2009-10, the RTI reply reveals.
 
The MSRDC has spent Rs1,058.34 crore for building 31 flyovers in and around Mumbai.
 
However, Galgali, says, he did not get any information on toll collected over the past five years from the five entry points in Mumbai since MEP took over the job. "There are many flyovers, which were constructed prior to 2000 at the cost of the state exchequer, for which too toll is being collected. In addition, private entities like MEP Infrastructure are being given opportunities to earn huge profits, which is very surprising. At one end, the state government is talking of closing down all the toll booths, but there is no proposal to close these five toll nakas as specified by the MSRDC," he said.
 
Last year, following directions from the Maharashtra State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC), nearly 10,000 pages have been uploaded on the websites of Public Works Department (PWD) and MSRDC comprising toll contracts, as well as, toll collections of 16 projects of MSRDC and 42 projects of PWD. Strangely, the toll collection of Pune-Mumbai Expressway and five Mumbai entry points were not uploaded.
 
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Report of stake sale to Uber false and malicious: Ola
Bengaluru : App-based taxi service provider Ola on Friday termed "false" and "malicious" a media report claiming that certain of their investors are planning to sell their stake to rival Uber, and
 
"ANI Technologies Private Limited, promoters of Ola, categorically denies the contents of a news article published by a Mumbai-based newspaper and its website, mentioning that certain investors in Ola plan to sell their stake to Uber," said Ola in a statement.
 
The cab aggregator said the news report attributed to an unnamed source is completely false, misleading, malicious and planted with an intention to harm the Ola brand.
 
"We are shocked and dismayed at the lack of journalistic ethics in carrying the story, despite our repeated denial to the reporter and the publication's editorial representatives," it said, adding the the report was published despite assurances it would not be carried by the newspaper as the company denied the speculation.
 
"We will initiate appropriate legal action and seek redressal and compensation for the damage caused to us by this irresponsible reporting from the newspaper," it said.
 
It quoted Matrix Partners India MD Avnish Bajaj, who is one of its earliest investors, as saying that no stake sale discussions happened with Uber.
 
"No such discussions have taken place and even if we are approached anytime in the future, we have no intentions of selling to Uber. We believe we are pulling away and continue to gain market share over Uber in India," he said in the statement.
 
According to Bajaj, just one category of Ola's services, Ola Micro, is on road to becoming larger than entire Uber operations in India.
 
"We also hear this from employees who are leaving Uber for various jobs including wanting to work with Ola or other companies," he said, claiming Uber is frantically reacting to Ola's growth by resorting to front page advertisements, dramatic fare cuts and rapid knee jerk changes in its service categories.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Modinomics must address the rural economy
For a government that has been voted by a historic majority on the single promise of "ache din" and "vikas", today's agrarian reality can turn into its most potent cause of demise. The agricultural growth rate is creeping towards negative territory from a dismal 0.2 percent seen in 2014-2015. Data from the labour ministry shows that growth in rural wages slowed from a high of nearly 18 percent in August 2013 and 17.5 percent in August 2014 to a dismal 3.8 percent in August 2015.
 
The government is currently in the dock on an ongoing PIL filed in Supreme Court about its inability to alleviate distress in a time of drought. In this battle, the government's claim to have "transformed" the UPA flagship MGNREGA programme is truly put to test. 
 
It is perplexing to note that in a situation when the rural jobs scheme is best designed to operate, it has been failing - at huge costs to the lives of the poor. 
 
The MGNREGA has been provided with a budgetary allocation of Rs.38,500 crore for 2016-17. Though the allocation was touted to be the "highest ever", the truth appears to be far from that. 
 
After reducing the amount of funds owed to workers and material suppliers - nearly Rs. 12,000 crore at the end of the year - the States are left with Rs.26,500 crore to provide employment on demand in the third consecutive year of drought faced by nearly 50 percent of India's districts. 
 
Given that a MGNREGA worker performs 48 days of work in a year, on an average, and that the average cost of generating one personday is Rs.215 in a non-drought year, a budgetary allocation of Rs.26,500 crore would result in supporting only 2,56,78,294 workers. This translates into the fact that only 24 percent of workers will be provided average days of employment under the programme. 
 
If the intent of a government is indicated by where it allocates its resources, the government has a lot to answer for in this year of drought. 
 
One can juxtapose the stern treatment that MGNREGA allocations have received with the overwhelmingly generous allocation that the government has committed towards implementing the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission - Rs.1.02 lakh crore. Adding to this is the enhanced budgetary allocation to defence pensions by nearly 40 percent owing to the government’s decision of accepting the principle of ‘one rank one pension’. 
 
The skewed burden put on the country's fiscal health by these decisions is something that has not surpassed the concerns of the government's chief economic advisor, who states in the Economic Survey 2015-16: “The implementation of the Pay Commission recommendations and the one rank, one pension scheme will put an additional burden on expenditure”. 
 
Though mildly put, the intent of a government to scramble for funds to meet its political commitments, instead of allocating a just quantum of funds to respect the mandate of a legislation that guarantees employment by statute, especially in a drought year, is telling. 
 
As we approach the two-year anniversary of the Modi Government, it is clear that the domestic economy has far underperformed the expectations set out in May, 2014. The global economy is most likely to remain in a low inflation low growth mode for the foreseeable future even as central banks have moved into negative interest rate territory. It is, thus, prudent to focus on the distress in the rural economy to support growth during a period when the investment and capex cycles have failed to pick up even after a sharp fall in rates. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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