Cell towers violate health and safety norms

Government’s unresponsive attitude towards Bombay Telephone Users’ Association’s public meeting invite that discusses health hazards due to radiation

In January 2010, Usha Kiran apartments, on Carmichael Road in the plush South Mumbai area was in the news, after four of its residents  died due to cancer caused by electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted from the cluster of cell towers located on the terrace of the opposite building, named Vijay Apartments. It was only after a protracted fight by the residents of several buildings in the vicinity that these towers were removed. Since then, there have been several instances where mobile phone companies have yielded to the demands of citizens and removed cell towers rather than face the consequences of negative publicity due to protracted legal fights.

But is the government sensitive to these concerns of the aam aadmi that it woos? Not if you were to go by its cold response to a public meeting to discuss the "Radiation Health Hazards from Cell Towers: Myth or Reality". The meeting has been organised by Bombay Telephone Users' Association (BTUA) on Saturday 29 January 2011 "to raise awareness among the citizens and to help government in taking required steps in resolving this issue." The Association has been requesting the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to send a representative to attend the meeting with no success.

Experts from various fields will speak on the subject. The panel will consist of Dr RS Sharma from Indian Council for Medical Research, Anil Prakash representing Telecom User Group of India, New Delhi and Professor Girish Kumar, head of wireless from IIT Bombay, who is been researching the effects of EMR for the past couple of years.
 
"The aim of the programme is to bring together the citizens and experts who are concerned about the issue and share their knowledge on the subject. This will at least make the government aware, and required steps would be taken to curb the problems arising out of these towers." said Mr Achintya Mukherjee, secretary of BTUA.

"We have invited officials from DoT, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), but so far no confirmation has been received from them. Among the mobile network operators, IDEA cellular has confirmed that they will send their representatives" added Mr Mukherjee. Nor is there any participation from the BMC and the Maharashtra Government. It may be recalled that Prithviraj Chavan had stated in a written reply tabled in the Vidhan Sabha on 7 December 2010 that "the government is collecting feedback from concerned departments for framing comprehensive rules and regulations for installation of mobile towers by cellphone service providers in the state."

Government of Maharashtra, appointed a committee in March last year headed by additional chief health secretary to study the effect of mobile phone towers on public health. The committee had representatives from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Tata Memorial hospital, recommended to ban such towers near schools, hospitals and it should be only restricted on rooftops of the building.

In 2008, DoT has laid guidelines stating that the antennae must not directly face a nearby building. Despite this many such towers are visible across the city, as it remains main source of revenue for the housing societies. Often these towers are illegal and violate health and safety norms.
Lack of participation from the government indicates clearly that "collecting feedback" is a mere formality. As in many other cases of consumer safety, the government will respond only to public interest litigation and only when it is directed by the judiciary.

  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    COMMENTS

    Eileen OConnor

    9 years ago

    I was living 100m from a mobile phone mast in the UK for over 7 years and finally developed breast cancer at the age of 38, I discovered I was living in a cancer cluster and have since campaigned for the last decade lobbying the UK and European Parliament in order to encourage the authorities to adopt the precautionary approach for wireless technology. I have provided verbal and written evidence at many Inquires in the UK and Europe including the House of Commons, UK Health Protection Agency, WHO, the European Parliament in Brussels and the Liverpool and Birmingham City Council Inquiries into cell towers.

    Please download the following information.

    Please see video footage from the important event held at the San Francisco,
    Commonwealth Club EMF Program, Nov 18, 2010, "The Health Effects of
    Electromagnetic Fields", information is now posted on
    ElectromagneticHealth.org. You can view it here:
    http://electromagnetichealth.org/electro...


    Also download some of my older PowerPoint presentations:

    PowerPoint presentation for the European Commission, Feb 2009.

    http://www.radiationresearch.org/pdfs/20...
    .pdf

    Base Stations and Health concerns paper for the UK Health Protection Agency
    http://www.radiationresearch.org/pdfs/20...
    .pdf

    And PowerPoint presentation

    http://www.radiationresearch.org/pdfs/20...

    Personal story containing details about the phone mast and cancer cluster in
    Wishaw. PowerPoint presentation for the Royal Society, London:
    http://www.radiationresearch.org/pdfs/ei...

    Kind regards,

    Eileen O'Connor

    Director

    UK Radiation Research Trust

    http://www.radiationresearch.org

    Narendra Doshi

    9 years ago

    I sincerely hope Moneylife team assist on a consistent basis till the satisfactory end results are achieved. Could you summarize what has sofar been achieved and what specific future steps can be taken with an end everlasting result for the present & future citizens of Mumbai to begin with?
    Please also indicate what forums can be used to achieve the goals.

    How Aadhaar, or the UID project, can get you into deep trouble

    The UID project which is being rolled out with much fanfare by the government has innumerable pitfalls. Here are a few of them

    Aadhaar with its biometrics and the ability to facilitate convergence of information-bona fide or otherwise-has the potential to compromise privacy and put people in trouble.

    When such privacy concerns are raised, the oft-repeated rhetoric among the educated middle class is: "I am a law-abiding citizen and I do not have much to hide and fear. So, why should I be concerned with my personal data, including biometrics, being stored under the Aadhaar project, especially if it can make my life convenient?"  

    Well, if you are one of those who thought likewise, here are a few plausible ways in which you could be in trouble, thanks to Aadhaar and its indiscriminate use in the not too distant a future.

    Scenario 1: Techie tries to change his job…

    Ram is an upwardly-mobile young techie who is proud of his status. He is in love with the digital world; not bothered too much about issues around privacy. He is active on most of the social networking sites. He is proud of his connectedness. He has been the first one to get Aadhaar; he felt it would make his day-to-day transactions a lot more hassle-free. He has submitted his Aadhaar ID to all his previous employers, since it afforded him some additional benefits and privileges.

    Recently, he has got a call from an MNC promising him an overseas assignment. He is excited about the opportunity. He has had a successful technical round. However, to his dismay, he is rejected after the HR round.

    Trying to find the reason, he contacts an acquaintance in the company. To his surprise, he comes to know that the culprit is Aadhaar. A background check using Aadhaar by a company engaged by the MNC has revealed his problems with his boss in one of the companies he had worked for a long time back. He is not given a chance to explain himself but is presumed troublesome and rejected. He curses himself for being overzealous in his usage of Aadhaar.   

    Scenario 2: Sham tries to buy Medical Insurance...

    Though Aadhaar was optional in the beginning, most of the clinics and hospitals have started insisting on it citing identity reasons. Sham is a middle-aged IT manager who has seen the convenience of using digital identity cards in his office. It is logical for him to think that using Aadhaar would prevent any misplaced identity. He does not think twice when someone asks him for Aadhaar.

    Over the past few years, given the stress of his job, he has had episodes of "High Blood Pressure", treated occasionally at a few local clinics. In all those clinics he has unwittingly used Aadhaar. His doctors have told him that there is nothing chronic or serious about his occasional high BP. He has been able to manage his condition with minor lifestyle changes.

    Now that he is approaching middle age, he decides to take out a medical insurance cover for himself. Most of the insurance companies have started insisting on Aadhaar for enrollment. After completing all the required formalities, he gets his insurance policy. He is puzzled to find that he has been denied insurance coverage for 'heart ailments'. He versifies that his BP, ECG and other conditions were normal during the prescreening test. On further questioning, he is told that he has a preexisting high BP condition. The culprit - Aadhaar!  

    The insurance company has done a background search on him using his Aadhaar ID  and found out that he had taken some medicine for high BP sometime back in the past, though he is no longer on any medication. His argument that he has no chronic heart condition goes in vain.

    Scenario 3: Saralamma becomes a suspect in a crime she did not commit…

    Saralamma is a retired school teacher; very law-abiding. As soon as Aadhaar is rolled out, she is the first to get one. Someone has told her that her pension collection and bank transactions would be a lot easier with Aadhaar. She is not the one who is too concerned about what data is being collected; most of which she does not understand anyway.  

    Recently, she has received some arrears. She has decided to buy some silverware for her only daughter. She has checked out a specific set, but decides not to buy, as the cost is beyond her budget. After a few days, to her surprise, she gets a call from a security agency. There is a theft at the same jewelry shop she had visited. One of the items in the set that she had looked at is stolen. As part of the investigation, fingerprints are collected from items in and around the set. They are run against the biometrics stored by the UIDAI managing Aadhaar.

    Alas, one of the fingerprints on the silverware matches that of Saralamma. She is asked to explain as to why she should not be considered a suspect. Saralamma is aghast as she does not understand how she got linked to the crime she did not commit!

    Scenario 4: John loses money on a transaction he did not make…

    John runs a travel business. He maintains his account with a cooperative bank which has signed up with Aadhaar for complete authentication services. In addition to the account number, he is required to give his Aadhaar number and fingerprints (biometrics) to complete any transaction.

    One of his assistants has his eye on this account. He has found out that if he could capture the fingerprints of his boss, he could have fakes made to defraud the system. He transfers the drinking glass which has his boss' fingerprints to one of the petty shops which have recently sprung up to create fake fingerprints using digital scans, illegally.

    With the dummy fingerprints of his boss in hand, he successfully withdraws the money. When John gets his monthly transaction report, he is shocked to find a huge withdrawal. When he questions his bank, he is told the Aadhaar-based biometrics has confirmed his identity and there is not much they can do about it!

    Scenario 5: Ajay's son is denied admission to school …

    Ajay has lived most of his life in the US. He has relocated back to India a couple of years back. He admits his son to one of the pre-schools. As part of the admission process he is asked for his son's Aadhaar; it has become more or less compulsory to monitor the progress of the child. Unfortunately, Ajay's son has some minor developmental disability. His pre-school documents this fact against his son's Aadhaar.

    Now that his son is six years old, Ajay is desperately looking for a school for his son. He can even afford admission to any of the newly started international schools. To his surprise, he finds most of the schools denying admission. On investigation, he finds that the unique identity provided by Aadhaar is the cause. A background checking agency, employed by the schools, has done a search based on the Aadhaar ID and discovered that his son has a mild development disorder. Given that information, none of the schools want to take a chance!

    The above examples are just a small sample of the scenarios that are very plausible. Though Aadhaar is currently optional, it is apparent that overtime it would be mandatory. Even if some of the scenarios depicted above can be avoided with stronger privacy laws, in a country where enforcement is lax, one wonders whether such misuses can be completely prevented.

    Vulnerability of securely-stored digital information to theft has been exposed by recent leaks that have surfaced both nationally and internationally. As someone has commented, a safe digital record is an oxymoron. Some of the recent experiments have amply demonstrated how biometric fingerprints can be duplicated using technologies that are almost homemade. If you are still skeptical, read Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes's story, The Adventure of the Norwood Builder.  

    (Ramdass Keshavamurthy is a Bengaluru-based Technology Consultant)

  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    COMMENTS

    Prashant

    7 years ago

    Poor ethics from moneylife.in, I wasted my time visiting this site. if someone is commenting you must respect them and not take only what you like.

    REPLY

    MDT

    In Reply to Prashant 7 years ago

    Dear Prashant,
    Thanks for visiting and posting several comments in one go. While as a policy, we welcome all types of comments, promotional posts/comments are strictly no-no on this site. In all your posts you were found to be promoting one particular site, whose oweners/registrants are kept hidden behind PrivacyProtect.org. Hope you understand.

    Prashant

    7 years ago

    Strange facts ! i thought aadhaar will only empower the people. This is really scaring. Thanks for putting some light on such facts.

    Prashant

    7 years ago

    Strange facts ! i thought aadhaar will only empower the people. This is really scaring. Thanks for putting some light on such facts.

    killerwico

    7 years ago

    stupid alarmist article.even now corporate MNC put applicants through background checks by directly interfacing with other companies.as for the second story even now medical insurance companies perform compulsory medical tests before giving people medical insurance.As for the third story a person cannot become a suspect only by fingerprints from objects that have multiple sets of fingerprints on them. courts will overule it as someone else might have touched the same silverware.it is like telling that there is murder in some government office and all the people who visited that area and have their fingerprints on the table near the murder are suspects.And anyway such shops have video surveillance and metal detectors at their entrances.about the third story is like something off a hollywood movie.even now people can forge your signature and withdraw from your bank account using checks but they dont do it because it is embezzlement and invites a long jail term and the same would apply with biometrics if ever they are used for banking.and you need to sign before withdrawing your money.and what does the fraud do carry a printout of the fingerprints and shows them in the bank???this is a stupid argument as it is invalid.about the fifth even now schools require parents to declare any development disorder however minor it may be otherwise if found out after admission(it generally is discovered) the students are immediately thrown out.all the passports issued require biometric data then the same can be used to track you,your ration card,pan card can all be used to track you.they are made for the sole purpose of identifying you.following your recommendations on privacy then we should not have a name as anybody could track you with it we should also give up your email and social network accounts.so this is article is plain stupid.

    killerwico

    7 years ago

    stupid alarmist article.even now corporate MNC put applicants through background checks by directly interfacing with other companies.as for the second story even now medical insurance companies perform compulsory medical tests before giving people medical insurance.As for the third story a person cannot become a suspect only by fingerprints from objects that have multiple sets of fingerprints on them. courts will overule it as someone else might have touched the same silverware.it is like telling that there is murder in some government office and all the people who visited that area and have their fingerprints on the table near the murder are suspects.And anyway such shops have video surveillance and metal detectors at their entrances.about the third story is like something off a hollywood movie.even now people can forge your signature and withdraw from your bank account using checks but they dont do it because it is embezzlement and invites a long jail term and the same would apply with biometrics if ever they are used for banking.and you need to sign before withdrawing your money.and what does the fraud do carry a printout of the fingerprints and shows them in the bank???this is a stupid argument as it is invalid.about the fifth even now schools require parents to declare any development disorder however minor it may be otherwise if found out after admission(it generally is discovered) the students are immediately thrown out.all the passports issued require biometric data then the same can be used to track you,your ration card,pan card can all be used to track you.they are made for the sole purpose of identifying you.following your recommendations on privacy then we should not have a name as anybody could track you with it we should also give up your email and social network accounts.so this is article is plain stupid.

    Ram

    9 years ago

    Quoting Mahatma Gandhi
    "Let us begin by being clear... about General Smuts' new law. All Indians must now be fingerprinted... like criminals. Men and women. No marriage other than a Christian marriage is considered valid. Under this act our wives and mothers are whores. And every man here is a bastard."-

    Was Mahatma Gandhi wrong ? Can 1.2 billion Indians be treated like criminals and finger printed in year 2011 on false pretexts?

    History as we all know repeats itself.
    Even Hitler used IBM computers to identify Jews. So there is nothing Unique about Aadhaar. it is as Old as Nazi Germany.

    Can Nandan Nilekani be General Smut's reincarnation ? Will Aadhaar be valid in our next life ? Can we take this number with us to heaven or hell or to the next life ?

    How many experts who support Aadhaar have applied for one ?
    If not why not ?

    If the Aadhaar was genuinely good for the Nation, I am sure PM Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and UIDAI Chief Nandan Nilekani would have got their Aadhaars on the inaugural day. But they did not.
    Ever wondered why ? Because only the poor are faceless and lack identity; not the rich and powerful.

    Well to do people in India will not apply for Aadhaar. Aadhaar is aimed at the poor and illiterate who do not know or understand the consequences.

    Aadhaar will institutionalise poverty.

    Aadhaar will also divide a nation already divided by religion and by caste, into people with Aadhaar and without Aadhaar.

    At the end of the day how does Aadhaar benefit the nation as a whole?
    Are the benefits commensurate with the billions being splurged on this White elephant called Aadhaar whose very foundation is unstable?

    The British posed as East India Company and conquered India. Today The Corporations of USA are raiding India. East India Company sold Gun Powder and USA is now selling Nuclear Fuel and MNCs are mining away our minerals from tribal lands once more and Monsanto will genetically modify the very brinjaal, bendi, Basmati and neem we believe is Indian.

    L1 Identiy....... Readers can find out the companies history and who the Members of the Board of Directors are, for themselves doing Google searches.

    God save India from American Conquest

    som

    9 years ago

    The vast computer databases kept by government departments can be passed on to covert agencies and corporate entities. Many know that DNA databases, retina scans, handprint scans and such are becoming more commonplace. However, few know of the more advanced technologies used to monitor them RIGHT NOW!

    The World's Concerns Microchip Implants, Mind Control, and Cybernetics
    http://www.truedemocracy.net/td-19/23.ht...
    -By Rauni-Leena Luukanen-Kilde, MD Former Chief Medical Officer of Finland December 6, 2000

    Are we ready for the robotization of mankind and the total elimination of privacy, including freedom of thought? How many of us would want to cede our entire life, including our most secret thoughts, to Big Brother? Yet the technology exists to create a totalitarian New World Order. Covert neurological communication systems are in place to counteract independent thinking and to control social and political activity on behalf of self-serving private and military interests.

    When our brain functions are already connected to supercomputers by means of radio implants and microchips, it will be too late for protest. This threat can be defeated only by educating the public, using available literature on biotelemetry and information exchanged at international congresses……………

    …………Time is running out for changing the direction of military medicine, and ensuring the future of human freedom…………..

    This article was originally published in the 36th-year edition of the Finnish-language journal SPEKULA (3rd Quarter, 1999). SPEKULA (circulation 6500) is a publication of Northern Finland medical students and doctors of Oulu University OLK (Oulun Laaketieteellinen Kilta). It is mailed to all medical students of Finland and all Northern Finland medical doctors.

    RFID (Radio Frequency ID) chips are Comming
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlFi0GfrV...
    Here are a pair of patents which you can google yourself:Patent#20020165758: IBM – IDENTIFICATION AND TRACKING OF PERSONS
    USING RFID-TAGGED ITEMS.
    Patent#6659344: NCR – AUTOMATED MONITORING OF ACTIVITY OF SHOPPERS IN A MARKET.
    I am sure you will be fully convinved that these are threat to National security and sovereignity. I request you to go through this article to understand the full scope of this UID Concept which is being imposed on us. Its official Invasion of Our Fundamental Right Right to Privacy by Multinational Giant Corporations.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?c...
    Big Brother: Spying on Americans, The Threat of Satellite Surveillance
    by John Flemming

    http://www.freedomfchs.com/repjimguestlt...

    http://www.whale.to/b/nsa7.html
    Covert Operations of the U.S. National Security Agency
    A lawsuit filed against the U.S. National Security Agency reveals a frightening array of technologies and programs designed to keep tabs on individuals.
    From an article in Nexus Magazine April/May 96
    John St Clair Akwei
    vs
    National Security Agency
    Ft George G. Meade, MD, USA
    (Civil Action 92-0449)
    The following document comprises evidence for a lawsuit filed at the U.S. Courthouse in Washington, DC, by John St Clair Akwei against the National Security Agency, Ft George G. Meade, Maryland (Civil Action 92-0449), constitutes his knowledge of the NSA’s structure, national security activities proprietary technologies and covert operations to monitor individual citizens Ed.

    MIND CONTROL TECHNOLOGY EXPOSED
    http://www.docstoc.com/docs/36936010/MIN...

    Outside the Box #98 (Featuring Dr. Robert Duncan)
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=...
    Alex talks with Dr. Robert Duncan, an expert on mind control technology and artificial intelligence. Later, Alex discusses the recent shooting at Virginia Tech.
    http://www.surveillanceissues.com/articl...

    REPLY

    arjun

    In Reply to som 7 years ago

    thank you for the links brother :)

    glad to know there are others in the country who are "AWAKE" too ...

    wish there was a way to keep in touch with people like you!

    Sujit

    9 years ago

    @Ramdass Keshavamurthy

    You have listed down 5 Negatives of UID. Now how about listing down 5 Positives of UID???

    REPLY

    Vickram

    In Reply to Sujit 9 years ago

    Here, let me try:
    1. 50% UIDAI budget to be spent via IT industry; if Indian entrepreneurs are quick enough, they can pick up some of this business.
    2. UID will enable detailed surveillance and tracking of all registered people in India. This will ensure registered people in India think twice before engaging in suspicious activities.
    3. No, I can't think of anything else. Can you? I mean, things that can actually be delivered, not figments from somebody's fevered imagination.

    Ram

    In Reply to Vickram 9 years ago

    Sujit & Vickram,
    Should the positives not be listed by Pro Aadhaar advocates ? Why ask people who oppose them ?

    I look forward to a list of 100 positives that will convince me that the benefits outweigh the negatives.

    Privacy is like your VISION. You will not appreciate it until you have gone BLIND.

    vikas

    9 years ago

    I am surprised how could Moneylife publish such a third class article.......going by the fears the author has, one should not venture out of home.

    REPLY

    Ram

    In Reply to vikas 9 years ago

    Money Life Editorial Team are Top Notch and do not take instructions from Nira Radia, do they ?
    That is why Money Life echoes Voices opposing AAdhaar which is questionable.

    Ram

    In Reply to Ram 8 years ago

    I agree with Vikas. It is easy to comment but difficult to withdraw. I think Moneylife works for Chidambaram whose department has created this furore. None of the people in this country objected till about Nov 11. And why this diplomatism now...

    vikas

    9 years ago

    I am surprised how could Moneylife publish such a third class article.......going by the fears the author has, one should venture out of home.

    Manish Keswani

    9 years ago

    Seems like people are really passionate about this topic. How about a poll?

    1. Will Aadhar lead to scenarios as proposed by Mr. Ramdass (considering that privacy laws would be non-existent or lax)?

    2 Will Aadhar prove help in improving processes related to dealing with Govt. and other institutions (marginally or extensively)?

    3. Do you think Aadhar will end up costing more money than it would help save?

    Please reply with only YES or NO for all 3 questions.

    And DO MENTION whether you:
    a) Live in India
    b) Intend to come back in the next 5 years
    c) Will never come back to India

    REPLY

    Manish Keswani

    In Reply to Manish Keswani 9 years ago

    1. NO
    2. YES
    3. NO

    a) Live in India

    Vickram

    In Reply to Manish Keswani 9 years ago

    1. YES
    2. NO
    3. Yes
    a) Live in India

    Chowdhury

    9 years ago

    Seems like anything initiated by Indian, I mean pure Indian effort or homegrown by Indian professionals is not acceptable by some people like this author, the worse enemy of Indian progress to the future.

    I beg you, please stop scaring people! Let us Indian take the lead the world with some great examples which is one way or another countries likely to follow.

    I wonder does anyone pay you to do this “Scaring people away from a definite path to Progress?”

    Please let India towards a progressive and futuristic society, a step ahead of USA, China etc. Otherwise we are to stay back - same old India, nothing pioneering.. Let India show others an example of e-Governance.

    REPLY

    Vickram

    In Reply to Chowdhury 9 years ago

    Anyone who thinks this project is initiated by an Indian, and then is homegrown by Indian professionals, must be very busy, too busy to give the project and its antecedents more than a passing glance. However, that is no excuse to proclaim such lack of study to the world.

    To continue to relate this project to eGovernance is truly a risible idea, but to even think we need such lame techniques to implement decent practices of government, takes an incredible lack of imagination and knowledge of India's complex realities.

    sandhya subramaniam

    In Reply to Chowdhury 9 years ago

    Nandan Nilekani -- please throw a little more of tax payers money to hire better disinformation staff. These childish postings on Moneylife are getting tedious and obvious.

    At the same time, they are really worrying, because it means that you have something to worry about.

    what is it?
    1. the fact that contrary to chowdhury's claims the money goes to US MNCs who provide all the technology to tag and monitor us Indians?
    2. you are guilty of the high cost?

    3. you are afraid the hypocrisy of claiming Aadhar is voluntary while working relentlessly to mandate it through SEBI, RBI and banks will be exposed?

    Frankly, discerning Indians see through the game already.

    SS

    Ram

    In Reply to sandhya subramaniam 9 years ago

    @Sandhya
    60% of the population is illiterate and oblivious. Of the 40% literate 50% do not know English. So we have 20% of the population who could understand the problem but 90% are asleep, too busy or watching TV serials.
    Of the 10% left majority are not fully informed.
    At the moment the discerning few are in the minute minority and we do not have Tax payers money to splurge of PR Agencies like UIDAI, who control the Media with advertising money.
    The only time R.S.Sharma, 2nd in Command at UIDAI ventured to pen his thoughts in EPW, he got hammered and has never surfaced again.
    As for NN he will not even take questions at meetings.......He uses moderators to Block questions and Body guards to whisk him out the back door..
    Aadhaar at best may be good INTENT.
    One man's Good Intention cannot become a National Policy without public or parliamentary debate. Are we still a democracy, I wonder.

    B V KRISHNAN

    9 years ago

    AADHAAR is probably the only product in the world which is being maligned even before it is launched. It is almost like the thieves running for cover when the police appears on the scene!! I thought only currupt politicians will be affected by this new form of identification - as they cannot syphon off money meant for the poor by falsifying ids. But the opposition seems to be coming from well-heeled working class. What is it they are afraid of??

    REPLY

    Ram Krishnaswamy

    In Reply to B V KRISHNAN 9 years ago

    Should Aadhaar not be issued to corrupt politicians and Babus first to weed out corruption?
    No Sir Aadhaar is a Product as you say for the Last Mile, the poor BPL population. Every one of them is treated as a criminal and finger printed so that double dippers can be eliminated through authentication.
    Is trying to buy a few extra kilos of subsidised grain a bigger crime than the Babus controlling PDS who steal 80% of the National PDS budget, by selling interstate, by exporting to other countries like Singapore Malaysia and by fraudulently denying the starving poor only to sell PDS grains in the open market for huge profits.
    We cannot expect an Indian Billionaire to understand ground reality can we ? After all he knows more about the back streets of New York than the villages of India. I am not saying this. He himself confessed to this in a TV Interview

    Vickram

    In Reply to B V KRISHNAN 9 years ago

    Even Mr Nilekani continues to insist that Aadhaar is a service, yet you hit the nail on the head when you proclaim it for what it really is: a product. One wonders which side is the cops and which the robbers, actually, and why sensible people are 'running for cover' at the idea of yet another loot - but this one is not measured in notional losses.

    cm

    9 years ago

    "The scenarios, I thought, spoke for themselves. However, going by the number of comments, mostly critical of my line of reasoning, a few words of clarification might be in order".

    The scenarios DID NOT speak for themselves, in fact there are too many inconsistencies in your writing & in your logic.

    For example:

    "The UID project which is being rolled out with much fanfare by the government has innumerable pitfalls. Here are a few of them"

    Has pitfalls????? What you are really trying to say is the UID project has a lot of potential for misuse..which is what you go on to attempt to describe (and so poorly).


    "...When such privacy concerns are raised, the oft-repeated rhetoric among the educated middle class is..."

    What privacy concerns have you really introduced here ?????? Seriously, the so called 'privacy concerns' is the primary focus of your write-up, but this context is very poorly described.

    "The above examples are just a small sample of the scenarios that are very plausible"

    What are you really trying to say here? There are too many examples of conspiracies that one can invent in various spheres of life, if one thought really hard. Your argument that the described scenarios are likely to happen is poor.

    Finally, I read the entire article -- and have to ask myself - 'what now?' -- a section which is missing. For example - What are your suggestions for how to change the system to prevent such abuses OR what can the ordinary citizen do to protect their privacy?

    You had an opportunity to kick-start a good debate on how the UID could be misused and screwed it up.

    And please don't patronize your readers by saying that you did not intend to reply to your own article.

    REPLY

    UIndian

    In Reply to cm 9 years ago

    hey cm....why dont you come out and tell us your real name and where you work? Is it so secretive as a workplace like the UIDAI, Bengaluru?.....Come on...UIDAI. Have guts to come out in open....else stop using your PR machinery to post comments online in dozens or should I say dirty dozens...

    cm

    9 years ago

    "The scenarios, I thought, spoke for themselves. However, going by the number of comments, mostly critical of my line of reasoning, a few words of clarification might be in order". <<

    The scenarios DID not speak for themselves, in fact there are too many inconsistencies in your writing & in your logic.

    For example:

    "The UID project which is being rolled out with much fanfare by the government has innumerable pitfalls. Here are a few of them" << Has pitfalls????? What you are really trying to say is the UID project has a lot of potential for misuse..which is what you go on to attempt to describe (and so poorly).


    "...When such privacy concerns are raised, the oft-repeated rhetoric among the educated middle class is..." << What privacy concerns?????? Seriously, the so called 'privacy concerns' is the primary focus of the write-up, but this context is very poorly described.

    And then you go on to describe possible scenarios, once again, very poorly.

    "The above examples are just a small sample of the scenarios that are very plausible" << What are you really trying to say here? There are too many examples of conspiracies that one can invent in various spheres of life, if one thought really hard. Your argument that the described scenarios are likely to happen is poor.

    Finally, I read the entire article -- and have to ask myself - 'what now?' -- a section which is missing. For example - What are your suggestions for how to change the system to prevent such abuses OR what can the ordinary citizen do to protect their privacy?

    You had an opportunity to kick-start a good debate on how the UID could be misused and screwed it up.

    And please don't patronize your readers by saying that you did not intend to reply to your own article.

    The fuel mafia must go up in flames

    How long will the ‘common’ citizen wait for the system to cleanse itself? Good clean unadulterated fuel is your right. The time to act is now!

    Fuel adulteration is a subject that your humble correspondent has been very familiar with over the last few decades, in his many roles-as a seafarer working on oil tankers carrying clean and dirty petroleum products, as a shipbroker working for Transchart-the Government of India's chartering division which used to and still hires ships, as a cross-country rally-driver always on the lookout for good clean fuels, as an employee of a multimodal shipping company which handled thousands of containers in India by road and rail, as a freight forwarder who for a very short while owned and operated a modest fleet of mini-trucks, as a close relative of people who own and operate filling stations in India, as a close friend of somebody whose family made their fortunes and was part of the largest oil distribution network in remote parts of J&K...

    And finally, as a motoring media-person often on the roads who kept his eyes and ears open and refused to get co-opted by the various strong lobbies at play in this amazingly wide business.

    So here are a few simple truths, which need to be brought out again, in the wake of the Sonawane murder off Manmad, Maharashtra, a few days ago. Incidentally, such acts of violence against people who try to expose crimes are becoming increasingly commonplace in Maharashtra lately, it would seem-and nowhere in this does it appear as though "immigrants" are to blame.

    Here are a few noteworthy points:

    1) There is nothing new about fuel adulteration in and around the Mumbai-Pune-Nashik spheres of influence, within which Manmad certainly falls. As an important rail and road junction, and also as an important staging point for a variety of Armed Forces movements, one would have imagined that the powers of the State, whether Central, State or local, would have prevailed to an extent where such rampant and flagrant crimes could be controlled. Far from it-as any small auto or jeep-taxi operator will gladly let you know-the complete area is beholden to the smuggled as well as adulterated fuel rackets.

    2) What is "smuggled" fuel? Apart from small ocean tankers or "bunker barges" creeping into the Konkan coast inlets and discharging into smaller country craft for delivery upcountry, "smuggled" fuel also refers to fuel that is pilfered from the many Armed Forces formations in that area. The height of "smuggling" was reached a few years ago, when it was discovered that the extremely high quality aviation fuel used for the IAF's Sukhoi Mk-II aircraft based out of Pune had also been adulterated. Nothing much is known about what happened to that investigation, though it was reported in the media at that time, too.

    3) The side-roads of Maharashtra, and there are many, especially in the areas where rail transport has not made a dent, are dotted with signboards proclaiming "diesel/petrol available here", even at locations where genuine filling stations are not exactly rare. A quick pit-stop here will reveal that most of this fuel is certainly not genuine-a strip of blotting paper is enough to double-check this 'petrol'. And they will always be flying flags proclaiming theirpolitical affiliations.

    4) But the real games are played in and around the larger cities. The numbers are phenomenal, the middle-class is not likely to have the time or energy to protest-and the risks are non-existent-because the complete system has been co-opted. Certainly, it happens all over the country-but the open defiance with which it happens in Pune, a city where the octroi games add to the complete experience of adulterated everything, is unmatched elsewhere. With the exception, maybe, of Mumbai and Nashik.

    Here is one such personal experience, dating back to the winter of 2005, when I was a resident of Pune. And operating as well as driving my own car there, a reasonably decent diesel car, but one that I knew every breath and pulse beat of.

    If you live in any city for any length of time, you get to learn very soon which are the "good" filling stations, and which are suspect. By and large, the "CoCo", or "Company Owned Company Operated" pumps are reliable, and the long lines of motor vehicles waiting outside would bear testament. And then, there are those which are totally unreliable, which even the locals avoid.

    One such filling station, operated by HPCL, was located inside the largely residential area of Aundh. Living in nearby Baner myself, I had been warned not to take diesel from there, by others in the same area. Despite this, one fine day when I was away, the office staff decided to top up the car-and took fuel from there.

    I got into Pune, and as soon as I started driving the car, felt the difference in performance. So I went to the filling station in question, and asked to see the owner, the manager and the complaint book. The answer I got from the attendants was, in all three cases, that the owner was a senior Congress politician, Mr Datta Gaikwad, in those days loyal to Mr Suresh Kalmadi, who was also a leading HPCL distributor as well as kingpin in the automobile and fuel business in and around Pune and for that matter all over the Maharashtra and Goa belt, and that I could lump it but nothing and nobody was available.

    In addition, I was given the usual spiel by the hangers-on about how non-Maharashtrians were damaging the fabric of the city, which was even then becoming the standard ploy.

    So, in the next phase, I decided to escalate the issue to HPCL. One Mr Ingle was listed as the HPCL Area Manager, and his mobile phone number provided. I called Mr Ingle, who gave me, in turn, the royal run-around, and directed me to visit his office, offer a written complaint, provide him with samples, and do many more things, in triplicate and in three bottles full. Interestingly, within one hour of that phone call by yours truly, I started receiving calls from the dealer as well as his 'friends' who wished to meet me, to advise me. In Pune, people know what this "advice" means.

    A lesser man would have given up at this juncture-but by then I was in full flow, so I escalated the issue by email and written letters to everybody there was at HPCL. Interim, of course, I made sure I avoided Aundh-because by then HPCL and their cohorts, one Mr GSV Prasad Gottipati, Chief Regional Manager, presiding, had started laying on the heat. Open threats, followed by tapping of telephone bills and data therein, as well as insinuations which were followed by a major campaign by no less than the Chief Manager, PR & Corp Communication, Laxman Motwani, to force me into withdrawing my complaint.

    The matter then reached another level when the Maharashtra Herald, an independent newspaper in those days, organised a methodical survey of over 60 filling stations in the Pune-Pimpri-Chinchwad area, for fuel quantity and quality. The report was carried on its front page and was very illuminating. The MH was sold to the Pawars subsequently and the rest is media history.

    Eventually, of course, somebody from assorted Directors and Chairman's offices offered apologies. Another bunch promised action. Some people got transferred around. And Life went on. Till Life stopped for Mr Sonawane. On a side road off Manmad. While his driver and assistant were threatened or simply ran for their lives, knowing the fuel mafia-who wants to tangle with big politicians or their henchmen, then?

    Point here is this-the oil companies, state owned ones especially, have more clout with every segment of society than many other entities.

    Fuel adulteration, from the shipping and refinery stage onwards, can not be carried out without their direct complicity. Efforts to find out more about tank-cleaning using the Right to Information (RTI) Act, for example, are met with stonewalling. There is no cogent response on what exactly is better with the so-called "premium" fuels. So, when the rot flows top-down, why are we surprised about the effect it has at the bottom of the pyramid, the last mile from tank farm to retailer-it is actually nothing more than a final cover-up and blame point for a racket that starts at the refineries in far-away Persian Gulf countries or closer home in India.

    So, the unfortunate and fiery end that Mr Sonawane met off Manmad does not surprise me, though it certainly saddens me. It has made it to the media because he was a Government official, a senior one at that, and the open arrogance had reached a point where the perpetuators were simply not scared of anybody. They knew, and probably still know, that the system of fuel purchase and distribution in India will continue to protect them.

    In a day and age when even pizza delivery companies can and do track their delivery staff by a variety of methods, when the quality and quantity of orange juice in tetra-packs can and is maintained flawlessly, when milk distributed loose using Mother Dairy tankers is of a quality that has become a benchmark internationally-we are to believe that the oil companies and the Ministry in charge cannot assure us unadulterated fuel?

    The rot in the retail fuel business does not start and end at a small dhaba off Manmad. It certainly starts in the lofty towers of the Chairmen's office of the state-owned oil companies-and if anything needs to be fixed, it starts from there. Let us not just let it end with a hartal by Government officials in Maharashtra-as co-sufferers, we need to get a message across that Mr Sonawane did not die in vain-get out of your cars and bikes, and demand that you be given the complaint books, and write what you think and feel in them-today.

    Today. Good clean unadulterated fuel is your right, Time to stand up and demand it.

  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    COMMENTS

    malq

    8 years ago

    I think this deserves a mention here, especially in context with Mr. Manohar Ingale of HPCL . . .

    http://www.punemirror.in/index.aspx?page...

    ""The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has raided several flats, offices and bungalows belonging to Manohar Maruti Ingale, a project manager with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) on Friday evening. ""

    Java

    9 years ago

    One answer to this problem can be to end the artificially low price of kerosene and let it be market determined. The poor and those who deserve a subsidy, can get a certain limited quantity against their ration cards and this can be monitored through centralised on-line databases. At a time when a large number of even the rural poor are moving to gas for cooking, most of the heavily subsidised kerosene is being used for adulteration. And since this subsidy is being given in the name of the poor, it is incumbent upon the government to know, through survey or census, how many of the poor actually use kerosene now and provide for the subsidy directly, only to those identified users.

    Sunil

    9 years ago

    Why dont renewable fuels such as Biogas is subsidised?
    why dont people start using Biogas which can be easily generated thru any biodegradable waste and also attracts carbon credits?
    why government doesnt go for renewable field options?
    why technologies such as waste plastic to fuel doesnt get more and more publicity?
    i have personaly seen sucha s technology in pune where 5000 kgs of food waste is being converted to biogas and electricity and also waste plastic to fuel, Mr Sumedh Bapat and Mr Srinivas kasulla.
    I met Mr Amit sawant on their site and he explained me everything and i personally liked it very much.

    Rajan Manchanda

    9 years ago

    It is tragic Mr.Sonawane had to sacrifice his life for the Govt to act. All of a sudden raids were conducted all over and people arrested. Over night it was discoverd that adulteration was taking place. All news papers and TV channels beamed the story. Next few days will be full of action. A new scam will than emerge. The story of adulteration will than gather dust. Mr. Sonawane will then be forgotten except by his family who will continue to mourn and remember the dreadful day for the rest of their life.

    UNLESS THERE IS STRINGENT ACTION FOR ADULTERATION (NOTHING LESS THAN IMPRISONMENT) MILK , FUEL , FOOD ITERMS , MEDECINES etc the dubious trade will continue to flourish. We can shed crocodile tears every time a Sonawane is martyered.

    REPLY

    V Malik

    In Reply to Rajan Manchanda 9 years ago

    Thank you for writing in. Why don't we, simply, try to stop buying adulterated and fake stuff?

    Java

    In Reply to V Malik 9 years ago

    I am sorry, but this is not easy for a common man. Just how do we know the stuff is fake or adulterated? How does one know, for instance, that the medicine bought at the chemist is spurious?
    The answer is better implementation of our laws by those entrusted to protect them - the government servants. NGOs and pro bono publico entities can help to a limited extent, but if the govt has stopped functioning, then why do we need it? It should be changed. That includes not just removing the political parties, but the bureaurats who are not performing.

    K B Patil

    9 years ago

    The only reason for the rot is we, the educated middle class. All we do is read articles like the above and then mutter darkly about the state of affairs and then get on with our lives. As long as we dont shed our apathy and hit the streets, our miserable lives will continue unchanged and the government headed by a highly regarded NPA (non performing asset) will continue with its patronage of crooks.

    For all the hell and brimstone by the Mumbaikars immediately after the terror attacks, what was the voting percentage in South Mumbai? It was a pathetic 40%. There will be no release from bondage without a sustained struggle.

    REPLY

    Prakash

    In Reply to K B Patil 9 years ago

    Though I appreciate your view, I just want to mention that although after 26/11 people hit the street like never before (post independance) and gathered at Gateway of India, what has happened to Kasab ? Govt is still spending crores after him and the case just gets stretched since years. The only justice done due to massive public pressure, in my view, is in Jessica case. There has to be a continuous pressure and interest from public to make Govt act.

    K B Patil

    In Reply to Prakash 9 years ago

    Mr. Prakash, you have mentioned the issue but interpreted it differently. When the issue of 26/11 was hot, people were angry and came out and displayed their anger. What happened a few months later? The best way would have been seen in a high voting percentage. But the percentage of voting was pathetic i.e the sense of anger against decision makers had evaporated and so the politicians were back to their games. Most of the Indian middle class is not willing to come out and face the heat and so there is no pressure on the govt.

    RNandakumar

    9 years ago

    Dear Mr.Malik,
    Thank you immensely for your excellant article.It is tribute to the bravebut late Mr.Sonawane. The last but one paragraph needs to be printed in all Dailies in the front page as a demand by the road user. Could any Govt afford to be so inefficient. Our people deserve a better Govt at the centre.

    REPLY

    V Malik

    In Reply to RNandakumar 9 years ago

    Thank you for writing in. Please do share the article, grateful.

    Bhamy V Shenoy

    9 years ago

    There are thousands of stories like this one can write regarding oil adulteration. Hundreds of seminars, workshops, conferences have taken place to stop oil adulteration. Planning commission has studied the problem and made many recommendations. The government knows exactly what needs to be done. But they are afraid to implement them. It is just like PM knew that Raja was involved in 2G scam, but could not act lest he lose the support of DMK. In the case of kerosene he loses not just the support of his allies but even his own parties. There are studies which show the involvement of politically active netas of all political parties in this mother of all scams. It is this which is preventing any meaningful reform in kerosene distribution. It is the same which has made media to lose interest in reporting on kerosene scam. Only because there was brutal murder. media is allocating some space for this topic. Otherwise even Money Life would not have bothered to deal with this old problem.

    REPLY

    V Malik

    In Reply to Bhamy V Shenoy 9 years ago

    Thank you for writing in, Shenoy ji. Agreed with all your points - except that MoneyLife would not have bothered to write about this. MoneyLife have written on the subject in the past, too, but this is the first time I am naming some of the known entities - and MoneyLife have kindly carried the same.

    Please let us try to work together to fix this issue.

    Humbly submitted.

    Bhamy Shenoy

    In Reply to V Malik 9 years ago

    thanks for your very positive response. You are right that Money Life published your article and it is much appreciated. I was disappointed with Sucheta for not responding to you my emails on this topic. She knows me and my interest. Please browse the site of Global Subsidy Initiative to get a comprehensive report on kerosene reform in India since world war II .

    Pradeep Hattangadi

    9 years ago

    Mr. Malik has been specific about Maharastra. However, this is a national problem. Looking back we had the case of Manjunath an OMC officer who was shot point blank. I don't think anyone even remembers the case. The root problem as Mr. Malik has stated is most of the fuel station are owned by Politicians either in their own name or by proxy. The name of the Politicians or the Party differs but essentially it is the political class. Yesterday Mr. Jaipal Reddy was talking about re-introduction of markers. Will this solve the problem No. While the Government is not much bothered about food inflation (only lip service), it is certainly not bothered about the price differential in various fuels which is the major cause for these kind of incidents. So in the name of poor and PDS (Public Destruction System), price of kerosene is kept low which as it happens is the main culprit for the adulteration.

    REPLY

    V Malik

    In Reply to Pradeep Hattangadi 9 years ago

    Thank you for writing in, Pradeep. You are correct, this article was specific about Maharashtra because I can not recall any Government official being burnt in any other part of the country for trying to shoot a video of fuel being adulterated, and also because it relates to my experiences there. In addition, the element of coastal smuggling underway in the Konkan region is probably unmatched elsewhere, especially as pertains to fuel.

    The solution, even if the Government wishes to continue with the subsidy on kerosene, is brilliantly simple - test the fuel for quality and quantity at the retail outlet. An efficient lab to ensure this will fit inside a small suitcase, the sort we use as hand baggage in aircraft, and the price is about the same as an airline ticket too.

    And then, permit the public to carry out these tests under controlled conditions, at the filling stations.

    Will the oil companies allow this? They already have all this, and more - but will not do so. As other oil companies worldwide morph into energy companies, our bunch of colonial remnants is still into increasing profits by any means whatsoever.

    mukesh

    9 years ago

    we should publish the name of fuel stations where we get clean fuel

    REPLY

    V Malik

    In Reply to mukesh 9 years ago

    Fairly simple - just ask around with the taxi/auto drivers, and you will come to know. Or, use the CoCo pumps, if possible.

    ramchandran

    9 years ago

    kindly start a campaign for voicing our convern on this issue. This Govt is obviously very insensitive & lacks action.

    REPLY

    V Malik

    In Reply to ramchandran 9 years ago

    Thank you, Ramchandran ji - please start today in your own way, too.

    We are listening!

    Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
      Loading...
    Close

    To continue


    Please
    Sign Up or Sign In
    with

    Email
    Close

    To continue


    Please
    Sign Up or Sign In
    with

    Email

    BUY NOW

    online financial advisory
    Pathbreakers
    Pathbreakers 1 & Pathbreakers 2 contain deep insights, unknown facts and captivating events in the life of 51 top achievers, in their own words.
    online financia advisory
    The Scam
    24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
    Moneylife Online Magazine
    Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
    financial magazines online
    Stockletters in 3 Flavours
    Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
    financial magazines in india
    MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
    (Includes Moneylife Online Magazine)