According to a US consul cable, the company pays Maoists significant amounts not to harm or interfere with its operations in Chattisgarh. Company denies statement
Washington: A leaked US diplomatic cable has said that the Ruias-led Essar Group, which has mining interests in Chhattisgarh, pays protection money to Maoists to safeguard its operations in the state. However, the company has dismissed this suggestion as baseless.
"A senior representative from Essar, a major industrial company with large mining and steel-related facilities in Chhattisgarh, told Congenoff (Consul General Office) that the company pays the Maoists 'a significant amount' not to harm or interfere with their operations," a cable dated 11 January 2010, originating from the US consulate in Mumbai and released by WikiLeaks stated.
"When the Maoists occasionally break this agreement and damage Essar property, or threaten personnel, Essar sets different Maoist groups against each other to suppress the situation," it said.
The cable said the Maoists pose a real threat to development and security in the region and efforts to bring these areas back into the orbit of the government is warranted, reports PTI.
The Essar group has denied the statement as baseless. "Essar is a law-abiding corporate. We don't think it is appropriate or necessary to react to baseless and unfounded allegations," the company spokesperson said.
While government authorities and the police are engaged with the Naxals, the US consulate, based on a trip by its officials to the region, also said that the potential for human rights abuses by security forces was high.
Both petition special judge for exemption; Amar says he has undergone kidney transplant, while Sudheendra says he is away in the US. Two former members of parliament of the BJP present themselves before court, seek bail
New Delhi: Former Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh and Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani's former aide Sudheendra Kulkarni today failed to appear before a Delhi court that had summoned them for alleged involvement in the 2008 cash-for-votes scam. They are said to have moved the court of Special Judge Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, seeking exemption from personal appearance.
However, former BJP members of parliament Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Singh Bhagora appeared in court in the case and sought bail, reports PTI.
Mr Singh's lawyer sought exemption from personal appearance on medical grounds, whereas the advocate for Mr Kulkarni petitioned the court to be exempted as he is away in the US and that the court summons were not served on him.
Mr Singh's lawyer said he had undergone a kidney transplant recently and that he was suffering from various health problems, including kidney infection and high blood pressure. The court asked the lawyer to submit all the medical papers related to Mr Singh's medical condition.
When the lawyer sought two days to submit the medical papers to the court, the judge ordered him to submit them today itself.
The advocate for Mr Kulkarni assured the court that "Mr Kulkarni is in the US and he will appear in court within two weeks."
Meanwhile, the court scheduled the bail petitions of Mr Kulaste and Mr Bagora for hearing together with the petitions of two other accused, Sohail Hindustani and Amar Singh's aide Sanjeev Saxena, who have also been arrested. The hearing is scheduled for later today.
The court had issued summons to Amar Singh, Sudheendra Kulkarni, Mr Kulaste and Mr Bagora on a Delhi Police chargesheet that indicted them in the cash-for-votes scam.
The Delhi police has accused Mr Singh of conspiring with Saxena and others to bribe some members of parliament, and Mr Kulkarni is said to have played an active role to get their votes on a trust motion for the Congress-led UPA government.
Some ministers concerned over extent of compensation that could lead to land prices shooting up
New Delhi: The much-talked about Land Acquisition Bill that provides for enhanced compensation to land owners and other benefits, was approved by the Union Cabinet on Monday, notwithstanding reservations from some senior ministers on some aspects.
The legislation, titled the Land Acquisition, Relief and Rehabilitation Bill, 2011, was fast-tracked in the context of a numerous agitations in different parts of the country over the takeover of land. The Bill will be tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said after the Cabinet meeting that was chaired by prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Various aspects of the bill, said to be the brainchild of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress party general secretary, were discussed extensively over 90 minutes, reports PTI.
It is learnt that some former chief ministers now in the Union Cabinet, among them Veerappa Moily, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Virbhadra Singh, held firm views on certain aspects of the Bill and suggested that these be ironed out in the Standing Committee.
One of their concerns was that the measure could result in land prices shooting up across the country. The Bill is said to have a proposal for compensation of land that is four times higher than the market rate for owners.
It also proposes government help for acquisition of 20% of the land for a private project in case the firm has managed to acquire 80% of the land required.
The Bill also includes a proposal for subsistence allowance of Rs3,000 per family per month for a year and an annuity of Rs2,000 per family per month for 20 years.
The proposed legislation also suggests a "livelihood compensation" for displaced persons who do not own the land but are dependent on its produce for their livelihood. And it states that the public purpose once stated cannot be changed.
It has been said that the states would be free to also formulate their own laws on land acquisition.
The Bill that was adopted by the Union Cabinet yesterday, retains certain aspects suggested by the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC), like having a single legislation for land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement.
The Council had recommended six times the registered value of the land as compensation, which was to be calculated by tripling the registered sale price of the land and adding a 100% solatium.
Farmers in various parts of the country have been at loggerheads with state governments on this issue for many months now, and some of these protests have even resulted in the loss of life and property in some instances.