Citizens' Issues
PharmaCity units have been disposing of their effluents leading to severe water pollution, says EAS Sarma

The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board apparently has not cared to take the water samples on time and subject them to an analysis in PharmaCity, Vishakapatnam, thereby allowing the polluting units to get off the hook, says EAS Sarma, convener, Forum for Better Visakha

There have been serious apprehensions about the manner in which the PharmaCity units have been disposing of their effluents, says EAS Sarma, convener, Forum for Better Visakha (FBV) and former secretary to the Government of India. Since December 2009, it has found Uracheruvu (a water body) in Tanam village adjacent to these units heavily polluted, presumably as a result of the effluents of PharmaCity draining into it. The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) apparently has not cared to take the water samples on time and subject them to an analysis, thereby allowing the polluting units to get off the hook.

 

FBV refers to a copy of the report submitted by the expert committee headed by Prof JM Dave submitted to APPCB in October 2009 on PharmaCity’s waste treatment facility. The report indicated the leaching of hazardous chemicals into the ground water and the unsatisfactory functioning of the treatment plant. The following questions are there for APPCB to answer:

 

(a) What is the follow up action taken by the APPCB on each of the findings of the Dave Committee?

(b) Why has the APPCB not displayed Dave Committee report and the action taken on it at its website as required under Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act? Are they not matters of public importance?

(c) Has the APPCB penalized PharmaCity for damaging the quality of the water? Has the APPCB asked for expert opinion on assessing the damage and recovering the costs from the Ramky Group?

(d) Ramky’s track record elsewhere has not been satisfactory. Why is the APPCB not taking stringent action against PharmaCity’s activities at Vizag, based on the Dave Committee’s findings?

 

In particular, FBV requests the APPCB to periodically monitor the quality of water in Uracheruvu, as it is likely that a part of the effluents from PharmaCity will enter the water in that tank. Downstream, this water mixes with the saltpans and the sea water.

 

The FPV is not alone in this battle against pollution. It is distressed at the reports appearing in the press of hazardous chemicals being dumped by some anti-social elements into Yeleru Canal near Lankelapalem village, as evidenced by the death of fish on a large scale in the water flowing in the Canal. FPV appeals to APPCB and the district collector (Visakhapatnam district) to undertake an urgent investigation to identify the culprits and prosecute them for this grievous offence that would have led to loss of life and widespread damage to the health of the people living downstream. The investigation should determine the nature of the pollutants and trace them to such industrial units that are known to have delayed setting up adequate effluent treatment facilities.

 

Here too, there has been inappropriate use of government funds. According to EAS Sarma, “I am surprised that the government (Industries Department) should issue orders on 2 December 2009 bestowing a grant of around Rs6 crore on the Ramky Group, in addition to allowing it to borrow another Rs32 crore from public financial institutions to set up a centralized effluent treatment plant for all chemical units in north Andhra. This is when the units in PharmaCity themselves have repeatedly indulged in wanton acts of pollution. As a regulatory authority, the APPCB should come clean on this and ask the government to keep the GO (Government Order)  in abeyance, failing which we will be constrained to conclude that APPCB is also a party to all this.”

 

The Ramky Group is a specialist multi-disciplinary organization with a turnover of over Rs4,500 crore, focused in the areas of civil, environmental and waste management infrastructure with specific emphasis on public private partnership (PPP) projects. The Group has over 6,000 employees. While the Group is yet to clear its name with environmentalists and NGOs, the Group has been flourishing in Andhra Pradesh and on the stock exchange, as well. It had the powers to sanction environmental clearances to industrial units. It was responsible for waste disposal. On the stock exchange its listed company was trading at around Rs450 just two years ago, and is now trading at an unexciting Rs111.

 

There is a clear case where the government should be strict with its funds and the public in PharmaCity, and the rest of Andhra Pradesh, must be allowed to use safer water.

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SEBI notifies IPO reforms; funds usage comes under scrutiny

The IPO reforms would help large number of small applicants get shares in an oversubscribed issue and minimum application size for all investors has also been increased to Rs10,000-Rs15,000 from Rs5,000-Rs7,000 at present

 
Mumbai: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has notified wide-ranging reforms in initial public offering (IPO) market, including a strict vigil on usage of issue proceeds, greater disclosure by companies and their bankers and allotment of a minimum number of shares to retail investors, reports PTI.
 
As per the notification issued by SEBI, no company can deploy more than 25% of the public offer proceeds in the name of "general corporate purposes". Besides, any issue-related expenses cannot be considered as a part of 'general corporate purpose' merely because no specific amount has been allocated for such expenses in draft offer document.
 
Among other measures, which have been approved by SEBI's board and are now being notified, any merchant banker that is an associate of the issuer would have to limit its role to marketing of the offer and declare itself as a marketing lead manager.
 
The company would also have to open the issue at least three working days from the date of registering the red herring prospectus with the Registrar of Companies.
 
Also, the disclosures made in the red herring prospectus while making an IPO, would need to be updated on an annual basis and made public by the issuer.
 
The companies would have to disclose the price band at least five days before the opening of the offer period, as against the current provision of two days. This will give the investors more time to analyse the IPO.
 
As per the notification, the issuer would need to allot a minimum lot of shares to each retail investor.
 
The measure would help larger number of smaller applicants get shares in oversubscribed issues. The minimum application size for all investors has also been increased to Rs10,000-Rs15,000, as against the existing Rs5,000-Rs7,000.
 
Among these, the eligibility criteria for the issuers coming through the "profitability route" has been redesigned to improve the quality of public offerings and enhance investor protection.
 
Now, only issuers with a minimum average pre-tax operating profit of Rs15 crore will be able to come through this route.
 
However, other issuers can access the capital market through either the SME platform or compulsory book building route with increased qualified institutional buyer (QIB) participation of 75%, as against existing 50%.
 
The companies can also offer a discount of up to 5% on the price in qualified institutions placement, subject to the shareholders' approval.
 
To help the companies achieve minimum public holding of 25%, SEBI has also amended the rules to allow sale of up to 10% stake to Alternative Investment Funds (AIF), a newly created category that includes venture funds, hedge funds, SME Funds among others.
 
Also, the companies would have to file fresh offer documents with SEBI if any changes in their issue objects leads to a decline of more than 20% in the offer size.
 
In another step aimed at helping the retail investors, SEBI has allowed retail individual investors to either withdraw or revise their bids until finalisation of the allotment, but institutional buyers and the non-institutional investors can neither withdraw nor lower the size of their bids at any stage.
 
The move is aimed at avoiding any misleading signals to retail investors about the extent of issue subscription.
 

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COMMENTS

Adi Daruwalla

4 years ago

What about the number of cities /centers across India , that has also increased from 50-60 to 100 or 1000 where the issue can be launched.

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