Companies & Sectors
Power generation at cross-roads: Strong action needed from the government

It is time that the government announces a more lenient policy towards power related programmes. Why not give the oil and gas exploration industry a free hand instead of creating stumbling blocks?

It is common knowledge that power is in short supply. The public is also aware that the path to increase production of power is full of potholes, government hurdles, creation of unnecessary and avoidable intermediary clearances and the actual time frame required before power can be generated. Meantime, the demand for power grows by leaps and bounds.

 

Take the primary source of coal supplies needed to generate this power. The monopoly, Coal India, through its various mining units obtains coal of various grades. These, or at least a substantial portion, lie at the pit heads due to transport logistics. The Indian Railways is unable to move all the coal mined and deliver it to the required sites.

 

Why can’t we have power generating plants at the vicinity of coal production areas is still a mystery and no one has bothered to comment or shown willingness to set up such a unit.  Why not induce and encourage the concerned state governments to take the responsibility of setting up such power plants to make their own state self-sufficient or become a surplus producer, willing to pass the power generated to the neighbouring states?

 

Indigenous coal is insufficient to meet the national demand resulting in imports from various countries at higher prices. These have different grades in terms of caloric value, naturally higher in price as compared to their indigenous counterparts, and the coal price pooling arrangement proposed is not acceptable to all. Besides, this procedure is also not considered a panacea to our problems. The tug-of-war between NTPC and Coal India does not appear to be anywhere near an amicable solution.

 

According to media reports, efforts by Coal Secretary, SK Srivastava, to settle the payment dispute between two CMDs, Narasing Rao of Coal India and Arup Roy Chowdhury of NTPC is likely to affect the consumers, though Rao's offer to have a third party quality inspection at mines for determining the caloric value looks reasonable; but to expect this matter to be resolved in the next few months, so as to permit the system to be in place is not acceptable.  Why not appoint an arbitrator and set a time frame of 30/60 days to settle the issue?

 

Why this inordinate delay in FSAs and what is is preventing the government to give clear-cut directives on these matters?

 

In the meantime, two significant events have come to light that in the very near future may help to reduce the tension in power generation area.

 

Press reports indicate that, at last, Reliance Industries has got some good news emanating from its D-6 block. Preliminary reports suggest that, indeed, gas has been found in the D-6 block, but this is too early to predict the outcome as several site tests will have to be carried before the potential can be ascertained.

 

With the assurance of the petroleum ministry that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) will conduct only an ‘audit’ as per the production sharing agreement, there is apparent enthusiasm at RIL that work will be carried without much hindrance and there is a glimmer of hope that all the four satellite fields, coupled with R-series discovered in the D6 block may yield up to 30 mmscmd additionally.

 

By a sheer coincidence, Cairn India has struck fresh oil in the Barmer block in Rajasthan.  This joint venture with ONGC had originally surrendered area in this block which, now they want to re-explore, which appear to have potential.

 

Cairn presently produces 175,000 barrels per day and feels that the basin and has the potential to increase it to 300,000 bpd.  But this will be only possible when government clearances are obtained to carry out the exploration work aggressively, bearing in mind that the time-frame to achieve this target would still be around three years.

 

It is time now that the government announces a more lenient policy towards such power related programmes.  Why not give the oil and gas exploration industry a free hand instead of creating stumbling blocks?

 

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)

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Why I-T returns of Pawar, Jindal and Gandhi are exempted from RTI?

Income Tax authorities have denied information about I-T returns of 22 MPs, including Sharad Pawar, Naveen Jindal, Maneka Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Beni Prasad Verma, Ajit Singh and Lalu Prasad Yadav and 20 MLAs. After suspending the hearing 27 times for over three years, the CIC has given the MPs and MLAs three weeks to file their replies


It often takes just one election victory of five years—for Members of the Parliament and Legislative Assemblies to get stinking rich, what with their wealth increasing a 1,000 times, in some cases.
 

According to a research carried out by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), the Lok Sabha MPs (2004-2009) have had an average increase in assets to the tune of 289% or Rs2.9 crore per MP within five years.
 

As for the MPs from the Rajya Sabha, BJP has 14 out of 16 candidates who are crorepatis, followed by Congress with 12 crorepati candidates out of 15 candidates. “There is also the issue of conflict of interest,” says Anil Bairwal of ADR. “58% of the Rajya Sabha members are ‘crorepatis’ with flourishing professional practices, shareholding in media, infrastructure, hospitality besides paid consultancy and other engagements,” he adds.
 

Thus, Bairwal says, “Going by the swelling in the pouches of our MPs and MLAs in the 2009 elections, it is extremely desirable that their I-T returns are made public. The recent increase in the assets of Members of Parliament (MPs) portrays some figures which appear lopsided and doubtful. There are parliamentarians who have increased their assets more than one thousand times over while in Parliament. Furthermore, what is the foundation of this breeding money among the political parties, nobody knows.”
 

Bairwal has filled innumerable RTI applications in the relevant Income Tax offices of the 22 MPs and 20 MLAs, which he zeroed on, considering the increase in their assets between 2004 and 2009.  His RTIs, which were filed in 2010 were stonewalled by all the respective Public Information Officers and Appellate Authorities. In fact, his second appeal with the Central Information Commission (CIC) was suspended 27 times until it was finally heard on 16 April 2013, a good three years later. Once again, three more weeks have been given to reply.
 

The prominent names in the list of 22 MPs and 20 MLAs whose I-T returns were asked for under RTI are Sharad Pawar, Naveen Jindal, Maneka Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Beni Prasad Verma, Ajit Singh and Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Bairwal has asked for the following information in his RTI application:
 

1. Whether the MPs/MLAs who fall in your jurisdiction have filed their I-T returns for all the five years (2004-2009)
 

2. Please provide the years for which these MPs have not filed their returns
 

3. Please provide details of the -IT return & assessment orders for all the years for which they have filed.
 

Apart from the RTI application, Bairwal also separately requested all Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs to disclose their I-T returns in larger public interest. Says Bairwal, “Some of these MPs sent us their I-T Returns and insisted that we make them public on our website whereas others uploaded them on their own website. We also came across some MPs and MLAs who have already submitted their I-T returns along with the respective chief minister's office and the prime minister's office.’’ In all, 28 of them including Anu Aga and Ambika Soni have revealed their I-T returns – (see box below).
 

As per the press release issued by ADR on 16 April 2013 “Of the 20 MPs whose I-T returns were asked for under RTI, the details of only three MPs—Mr Baju Ban Ryan MP from Tripura East constituency), Mr Shafiqur Rahman Barq (MP from Sambhal constituency of Uttar Pradesh) and Ms Usha Verma (MP from Hardoi constituency of Uttar Pradesh) were made available by the Public Information Officers (PIO). The I-T returns of others MPs were denied under various sections, like 8(1)(j), 8(1)(d), 11(1) and 11(3) of the RTI Act. TheRTIs of seven MPs were transferred but lost in transit hence no information was available.”
 

At the CIC hearing, representatives of 10 out of 20 MPs were present. The public information officers who denied the information stating lack of larger public interest and the representatives of MPs/ MLAs were invited for the hearing. The bench comprised Information Commissoners (IC) Mr ML Sharma, Ms Annapurna Dixit and Mr Rajiv Mathur.
 

The three CICs repeatedly questioned the representatives of the MPs as to how disclosing of their I-T returns was not in larger public interest. They repeatedly referred to the Supreme Court judgment which made declarations of assets and other details mandatory at thetime of contesting elections.. However, no arguments were put forth by the Public information Officers of the I-T department who had initially denied providing the information stating lack of public interest, states the press statement of ADR.
 

Mr Bairwal argued that there is overriding public interest in I-T returns of the MPs and that most of the requested information was already in public domain as the total income filed in the latest I-T returns of all candidates have to be provided in their affidavits along with their nomination papers to the Election Commission of India (ECI).
 

Mr Bairwal stated during the argument at the CIC that, “the Supreme Court has deliberated in detail on this issue while directing the ECI to collect and make public the information on assets of the contesting candidates at the time of elections through affidavits. The Supreme Court of India had specifically noted through its decision on 13 March 2003 (Writ Petition No. 490/509/515 of 2002) that asking for asset details of the parliamentarians/legislatures does not invade the privacy of the individual.”
 

Amongst the arguments put forth by representatives of MPs, Mr Ajith Singh’s senior advocate argued “that if the MPs are considered public servants, the I-T returns of every public servant should be requested for; lawyers of Mr Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia argued that any tax payer serves larger public interest by paying tax hence their personal information cannot be made available in the public domain; the representative of Kumari Selja when asked if he would be willing to declare his/his client’s I-T returns, stated that “rule of privacy will prevail” and “I am not obliged under law to declare my I-T returns in the public domain”.
 

The attendees included lawyers, chartered accountants and representatives of Mr Uday Singh, Ms Maneka Gandhi, Mr Sachin Pilot, Mr Dushyant Singh, Kumari Selja, Mr Beni Prasad Verma, Mr Ajith Singh, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mr T R Baalu.
 

The CIC has given three weeks’ time for the representatives of the MPs to provide a copy of their written submissions after which it will give its decision.
 

Says Mr Bairwal, “Tax returns of Parliamentarians are voluntarily being disclosed in countries like the US and UK. Presidential tax returns in the United States are available online. Like all other citizens, US presidents also enjoy the protection of their privacy, but they chose to release their tax returns publicly. Tax returns of Barack Obama, George W Bush and others are available online. (www.Presidentsusa.net). Their tax returns are open for public scrutiny and such sort of a transparency is truly commendable. Our parliamentarians should also do likewise as this will underline the faith of the citizens in the representatives chosen by them…”
 

State Average asset in 2007(Rs) Average asset in 2012(Rs)

Percentage

Goa 2.91 crore 7.65 crore 163%
Punjab 5.73 crore 9.17 crore 60%
Uttar Pradesh 98.05 lakh 3.10 crore 217%
Uttaranchal 83 lakh 2 crore 177%
Manipur 20 lakh 1 crore 492%
 
 

The timeline of events for MP I-T returns case

1. 22 February 2010: An RTI was filed with the respective I-T departments to retrieve I-T Returns of 20 MPs with exponential growth in assets between two elections.
2. 6 May 2010: First Appeal with I-T department for follow up on information denied under Sections 8(1)(j), 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act
3. 20 August 2010: Second Appeal with Central Information Commission.
4. 20 April 2012: Notice for the first hearing at CIC sent to concerned parties.
5. 3 May 2012: First hearing with the CIC takes place for MP Uday Singh and MP Dushyant Singh
6. 8 November 2012: Notice for second hearing of CIC was sent to concerned parties in the case.
7. 22 November 2012: Second hearing at CIC takes place. Press Release for this CIC hearing to make MP I-T Returns public.
8. 22 November 2013: Submission No. I filed with the CIC on the day of this hearing.
9. 7 March 2013: Notice for the hearing of the full bench of CIC sent to concerned parties.
10. 4 April 2013: Submission No. II filed with the CIC based on voluntary disclosure by MPs prior to the full bench hearing.
11. 12 April 2013: Larger Bench of CIC to hear the case on making income tax returns of MPs public.
12. 16 April 2013: Hearing with the larger bench at CIC takes place.
 

 

Those who voluntarily put their Income Tax returns in the public domain
S No Name State Constituency Party MP/MLA ITR
1 Neeraj Shekhar UP Ballia SP MP LS ITR
2 Sadashiv Dadoba Mandlik Maharashtra Kolhapur IND MP LS ITR
3 Abhijit Mukherjee West Bengal Jangipur INC MP LS ITR
4 Mirza Mehboob Beg J&K Anantnag J&K National Conference MP LS ITR
5 Bijoy Krishna Handique Assam Jorhat INC MP LS ITR
6 Arnavaz Rohinton Aga Maharashtra NIL Nominated MP RS ITR
7 Raju Anna Shetty Maharashtra Hatkanangle Swabhimani Paksha MP LS ITR
8 Dr Ajoy Kumar Jharkhand Jamshedpur JVM MP LS ITR
9 Mandagadde Rama Jois Karnataka Karnataka BJP MP RS ITR
10 Dinesh Trivedi West Bengal Barrackpur AITC MP LS ITR
11 Vilas Baburao Muttemwar Maharashtra Nagpur INC MP LS ITR
12 Baishnab Charan Parida Orissa Orissa BJD MP RS ITR
13 Tathagata Satpathy Orissa Dhenkanal BJD MP LS ITR
14 Baju Ban Riyan Tripura Tripura East CPI(M) MP LS ITR
15 Sudip Bandyopadhyay West Bengal Kolkata Utter AITC MP LS ITR
16 Subodh Kant Sahay Jharkhand Ranchi INC MP LS ITR
17 Pratik Prakashbapu Patil Maharashtra Sangli INC MP LS ITR
18 Mahadeo Singh Khandela Rajasthan Sikar INC MP LS ITR
19 Ajay Maken Delhi New Delhi INC MP LS ITR
20 AmbikaSoni Punjab Punjab INC MP RS ITR
21 Sadanand Singh Bihar Kahalgaon INC MLA ITR
22 Pramod Kumar Bihar Motihari BJP MLA ITR
23 Subodh Roy Bihar Sultanganj JDU MLA ITR
24 Virendra Beniwal Rajasthan Lunkaransar INC MLA ITR
25 Rajkumar Sharma Rajasthan Nawalgarh INC (contested on BSP ticket) MLA ITR
26 Rajendra Pareek Rajasthan Sikar INC MLA ITR
27 Murari Lal Meena Rajasthan Dasua INC (contested on BSP ticket) MLA ITR
28 Hema Ram Choudhry Rajasthan Gudamalani INC MLA ITR
             


(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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COMMENTS

SuchindranathAiyerS

2 years ago

Nothing short of a Guillotine at every street corner will purge India of the burden of criminal rulers.

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

4 years ago

These politicians have made everybody corrupt, go to the markets see the roads occupied by them illegally, who is there to stop them, they say we pay weekly and daily payoffs to the Depts. will anybody correct them? No, because corruption has reached every nook and corner-Actually in the lifeline of the system, without incurring mass displeasure it cannot be corrected is What I feel? Request all to please answer might be on the other side of the fence, but it hardly matters at least views will be known.

sohan modak

4 years ago

How does EC know that these super rich politicians are actually filing IT returns that reflect their true assets and earnings? For example, if Pawar wields clout in, say, sugar industry, BCCI or Educational institutes, there must be a way to monetize these and shown as such in the returns. Do they? Does IT dept know how to monetize? Does EC know how and where to draw a line?

REPLY

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to sohan modak 4 years ago

Do you know by chance how much do these I TAX/VAT OFFICERS/EXCISE-SERVICE TAX DEPT OR people charge a Common Business man on completion of case, and who do these business man charge i.e. AAM AADMI so ultimately who is paying for the luxuries of these so called HIGH CLASS OFFICERS.

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to sohan modak 4 years ago

Their wealth is anybody's guess? Monetizing is virtually impossible.

manoharlalsharma

4 years ago

Super POLITICAL-POWER never Keep the A/C'S with them just findout thire CAS.

REPLY

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to manoharlalsharma 4 years ago

No doubt politicians have made them untouchables vide enormous accumulation of wealth. By chance I am also a CA, but misguiding anybody is impossible.

nagesh kini

In Reply to CA PRADEEP AGARWAL 4 years ago

Yes,Mr. Agarwal, we see that you are a CA by the first two letters before your name.
By the way what is the dividing line between "tax planning" and tax evasion?
Question from another CA!

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to nagesh kini 4 years ago

The same as tax avoidance and tax evasion, tax evasion is a crime but tax avoidance is a skillful planning of resources and its utilization(but is not a crime).

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to nagesh kini 4 years ago

Further our Institute had got an amendment passed that CA's will write CA before their name as Doctors write Dr. so you will find CA appearing before my name.

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

4 years ago

Feel every defaulter should be sent a copy with comments by MLF and a copy to PM/Leader of Opposition in both houses, INC President/BJP President/SP President/BSP and JD President etc. alongwith the list showing IT defaulters/i.e. not filing returns on IT website, plus banning them from polls in future(not contesting)

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

4 years ago

Those whose assets have arisen abnormally should be subject to JPC/seperate ITax Dept. formed through statute and returns to be accepted via Chairman/Leader of LS/RS.

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

4 years ago

The filing of return should be compulsory to all n sundry, whosoever it might be, high and mighty and the higher the person the more he should be subject to scruitny, but in our country it is vice versa, even the guardians of law are there to protect-Bhai Bhatija vad

ashwin bahl

4 years ago

We have one neta representing Congress in Mumbai who had 2 or more Pan Cards and he did not know about it,nor did he know how much property he and his wife owned or his son did and then what is the outcome of this unaccounted wealth case ? Sad state of affairs!

REPLY

nagesh kini

In Reply to ashwin bahl 4 years ago

another neta maintains that his wife's mother and sister are not relations, he believes they are in-laws. he always believes that 'law has to take its own course'.

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to nagesh kini 4 years ago

actually these netas have made mockery of the law and sorry to say our janta blindly following them or can say MONEYPOWER

nagesh kini

In Reply to ashwin bahl 4 years ago

another neta maintains that his wife's mother and sister are not relations, he believes they are in-laws. he always believes that 'law has to take its own course'.

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to ashwin bahl 4 years ago

This is happening everywhere take leaders of BSP/SP/Congress/BJP

mumbaiwadapav

4 years ago

Great article: But how can our many great leaders (Thanks GOD But not all) file IT return properly, whatever they earn more than 97% they earn from wrong means. So they know that 97% of tax already they are evading and if it doesn't affect country and it population so why again to bother our great country and its population by filling IT return for remaining 3%. As simple as that, see how much our great leaders care.

REPLY

nagesh kini

In Reply to mumbaiwadapav 4 years ago

Mumbaiwadapav, you write about our great leaders filing returns properly. What about the veteran neta who completely and conveniently "forgetting" to file returns for ten long years and yet got away? And the house that he occupied in Lutyen's Delhi is now sought to be converted into a memorial at other taxpayers' cost!

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to nagesh kini 4 years ago

SO WHO IS MAKING THE ISSUE BY TAKING OUT DHARNAS AND WILL PEOPLE COME IN SUPPORT?

sohan modak

4 years ago

I wonder if a PIL on this issue would be admissible.

REPLY

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to sohan modak 4 years ago

Can try one?

Arun Mehta

4 years ago

One wonders the futility of expecting the politicians to any way shamed or humiliated by their not being too honest with their IT returns.Lots of factors are involved,his/her tax management style,the respective Auditor and finally the politicians 'halo' effect on the concerned IT Officer.The fact that a very very Rich IT declarant with the leading Dalit party ticket lost in Delhi in last elections,speaks a lot to say voters are not influenced by the honesty or otherwise of the IT related data.There are 'other' factors.

Deepak Dubey

4 years ago

are we 1,241,491,960 Indian Citizen fool, why is there such discrimination between certain people ?

we have made them MLA, MP we have right to know what their current assets is ? have their multiplied their income and funds misusing their power.

we want RTI to be applicable to those MP and MLA

IF NOT CHANGE THE LAW AND CHANGE THE RULES.

We all are Indian, RULES and LAW should be same for everyone

REPLY

nagesh kini

In Reply to Deepak Dubey 4 years ago

The IT returns are inaccessible because they are more equal than others read George Orwell's "Animal Farm" and you will know why and how!

Deepak Dubey

In Reply to nagesh kini 4 years ago

very true, here all are in race to become leader but not a good human being !!!

their basic is not clear !!!

vrajesh s

4 years ago

goood article we must fight for more transperency

sohan modak

4 years ago

Great revelation, Vinita. When examining the personal details of MPs in 2009, turned out most have either filed wrong, incomplete or no information. In cases like Pawar, Praful Patel, Vija Mallya, Jaiswal, Ms Sule, and those playing musical chairs at ministrys of commers, Textiles, Telecom, Transportation, Agriculture, etc must have reaped more than 600% gains, i.e. if one can find the truth hidden behind layers of Trusts, Companies and offshore holdings in their own names or those of their relatives.

sohan modak

4 years ago

Great revelation, Vinita. When examining the personal details of MPs in 2009, turned out most have either filed wrong, incomplete or no information. In cases like Pawar, Praful Patel, Vija Mallya, Jaiswal, Ms Sule, and those playing musical chairs at ministrys of commers, Textiles, Telecom, Transportation, Agriculture, etc must have reaped more than 600% gains, i.e. if one can find the truth hidden behind layers of Trusts, Companies and offshore holdings in their own names or those of their relatives.

Markets closed on account of Mahavir Jayanti

All the futures commodities were closed for the festival, while base metals and precious metals on the Multi Commodity Exchange will open in the later half of the session at 1700 hours for regular trading

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), National Stock Exchange (NSE), forex, money and all wholesale commodities markets including bullion will remain closed today on account of “Mahavir Jayanti”.

 

All the futures commodities were closed for the festival, while base metals and precious metals on the Multi Commodity Exchange will open in the later half of the session at 1700 hours for regular trading.

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