Saturday, June 12, 2010

Premkumar Dhumal interview


Himachal Pradesh is the first Indian state to get carbon credit for reducing pollution. I met HP chief minister Pramkumar Dhumal when he was in Mumbai for the BJP national conclave on good governance. I wanted to know what steps his government took to preserve the environment. I got an interesting interview. I filed it for may newspaper on the occasion of World Environment Day. But it was not published. I am giving it here, on my personal place, for your information.


“A lecture on global warming was an alarming bell for preserving environment”

Premkumar Dhumal is the only chief minister in the country who holds a portfolio of agriculture and animal husbandry. Under his leadership Himachal Pradesh has become the first Indian state which has obtained carbon credit for preserving environment. Dhumal, who joined politics after quiting his job as a English teacher, spoke over the measures his government took to make HP almost free from pollution.

Q. What steps have you taken for preserving environment?
A. We promoted use of polythene bags mixing with cement in building roads all over the state. Our Public Works Department purchase the polythene bags from people at a rate of Rs4 per kg and give it to the cement industries. The result is that you will not find polythene bags lying on the streets in HP. Also, the quality of roads built using polythene bags is better than the tar and bitumen roads.

Q. What made you take these steps?
A. Once I heard a lecture on global warming. The speaker talked about rising sea water level and warned that some port cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata will have to face the flooding in near future. He then added that the states in Himalayan ranges will also have to face the flood like situation due to melting of ice. It was an alarm bell for us and we decided to curb the pollution first.

Q. Did you run any awareness campaign regarding preserving environment?
A. We ran a campaign called Community Led Awareness, Assessment, Advocacy and Action Program. Under this program we pledged all school children not to waste water. The children were asked to argue their parents to cut down the wastage of water. The campaign was successful.

Q. What about tree cuttings?
A. We have adopted a policy which states that the residents of forest areas have the first right over the forest wealth. We share the forest's wealth with the residents. Whatever is the income from the forest products, right from tree to their leaves, is shared among the residents, local governing body and the state government. The residents get 70 percent of the income, the local governing body 20 percent and the remaining 10 percent goes to the state government. After adopting the policy the residents of forest areas felt that the forest was their property and they spontaneously started taking care of the forest.

Q. How you preserved greenery?
A. HP's 90.2 percent population stay in villages. We give 80 percent subsidy for installing poly houses and drip irrigation. We also give 90 percent subsidy for using bamboo instead of steal or iron. We have encouraged the rural youth for opting horticulture and flouriculture instead of running behind government jobs. It has given us the positive results.

Q. Has the measures affected the state's economy?
A. Not at all. In fact, our economy is growing after that. We have founded India's first Information Technology as well as Bio-technology university. We have entered into an agreement with Yoga guru Ramdev for the selling of Aloe Vera and Amla, which is produced in the state on a large scale. Ramdev purchases these items from us in lieu of a handsome amount.

Q. Being a tourism destination how you manage the filth the tourists bring in?
A. Around 1.46 crore tourists visited HP last year. We have launched a concept of rural tourism. Under this concept we do not impose tax on the tourist if they prefer to stay in a village. We provide them secured tents in the forest and give a feeling a forest life. Also, we provide cheapest training in water sports. Interestingly, not only the human beings the tourist birds have also been attracted to HP on a large scale in comparison to other states.

Friday, January 8, 2010

अवधूत गुप्ते

अवधूत गुप्ते अभिमानाने म्हणत असतो मी शिवसैनिक आहे म्हणून. मग शिवसेनेने त्याच्या सिनेमाला संरक्षण का नाही दिले? सेनेने गुप्तेला म्हणायला हवे होते की तू तुझा सिनेमा आहे तसाच प्रदर्शित कर. आम्ही तुझ्या पाठीशी उभे राहू. मग कोण नारायण राणे आहे ते पाहून घेऊ. पण इथे सेनाच राणेंना घाबरते त्याचे काय?
I want your opinion on this story. The story tells you about the tactics used by a 'powerful' Congress leader Kripashankar Singh to get a flat from Mhada for his 'poor' daughter and son-in-law.

Daughter's papers show Kripashankar became Paa at the age of three

A birth date proof submitted by Mumbai Congress president Kripashankar Singh's daughter Sunita and son-in-law Vijaykumar along with an application for a flat from Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) in 2000 may return to haunt the leader. According to the ration card copies submitted by Vijaykumar in 2000, Sunita was born in 1953 – three years after her father Kripashankar was born in 1950. However, another ration card copy submitted by Sunita in 2008 for the purpose of investment in commodity states that she was born in 1972.

The difference came into light after Chandrakant More, a worker of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) who lost the assembly election to Kripashankar Singh from Kalina, procured the documents related with Sunita's asset. More has filed a petition in the Bombay High Court demanding cancellation of Singh's election because “he hid the family's assets from the election commission.”

In an application to commodity firm Religare as an investor, Sunita showed her birth date as February 21, 1972. Her PAN card also has the same birth date. Along with the application she had attached a copy of ration card issued in 2008 which shows her age as 30. On the contrary, in an application to Mhada in 1999 she had submitted a copy of ration card issued in 1983 which also showed that she was 30 at that time. Mhada had alloted Sunita and Vijaykumar flat of 862 sq ft at Kingstone building in Powai in 2000 because they were “in dire need of residential place.” The flat was alloted from the chief minister's quota. They sold the flat in 2006 because they were worried about “their son's future,” the documents show.

More said that he will continue his fight against Kripashankar in the HC. “Kripashankar Singh hid the details of his asset from the election commission. After I filed the petition, many irregularities by him are coming into light. But I have decided to concentrate on only one demand – hold Singh's election invalid,” he said.

Singh neither attended the phone calls nor responded the text messages. Earlier, he was in news after his name had cropped up in the Madhu Koda scam. Kamlesh Singh, father-in-law of Kripashankar's son Sanjay, was arrested along with Koda for having disproportionate assets and is facing cases filed by the Enforcement Directorate as well as the Income Tax department. Kripashankar also faced much embarrassment recently when it came to light that he had two PAN cards in his name.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Oil theft on Pune Highway

During a midnight travel on Mumbai’s roads, I came across with an oil adulteration racket. After watching the developments on the roads closely, I came to a conclusion that most of the industrial units in Maharashtra probably do not get pure fuel. What they receive is actually an adulterated form of the pure fuel which affects their productivity. Reason: Whenever the pure fuel is transported from Mumbai, it is theft and later adulterated with water and powder near Vadgaon Maval in Pune district.

The industrial units use Furnace Oil as the fuel for the generation of power or heat. The oil is transported from Sewree to Pune railway yard everyday. From Pune, it is further carried out to various industrial units in the state. Public sector refineries produce Furnace Oil.

The Furnace Oil is theft and adulterated in Vadgaon Maval. Everyday at least 50 tankers carry the oil to Pune. A gang of oil thieves is active in Vadgaon Maval. They stop the tankers, steal a few tones of the oil from the tankers and add water and powder in the remaining oil. Furnace oil is available in the market at a price of Rs2 lakh per metric tonn. Due to theft and adulteration, the government is losing more than Rs1 crore per day.

As far as storage of Furnace Oil is concerned, the rules governing the same are less stringent compared to more volatile fuels like petrol and diesel. If water is contained in the Furnace Oil it can cause sputtering of the flame at the burner tip.

I was surprised when Ravindra Kadam, superintendent of police (Pune rural), admitted that the oil was theft in his area. “Probably, drivers of the oil tankers have nexus with the oil thieves. But I do not think there is any gang operational in the area. However, I will look into the matter and investigate it thoroughly,” he told me.

The most interesting part is that though the oil theft has been reported, no oil company has officially complained about it till date.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Let us do

The Taj Mahal Hotel will resume its glory soon. Let us expeditite our efforts to bring back the glory on the historical place.

Why the fuel prices are soaring?

I cannot understand why the government cannot bring down fuel prices though the prices in internationnal market have been marginally down. Is the UPA gogernment is trying to raise election fund from the fuel money or is it trying to fill the loss of revenue due to the subsidy on petroleum products?
Ordinary citizen should get gas, petrol, diesel as cheap prices. The government can impose heavy levy on luxurious goods to recover the loss on petroleum products. But at the same time, we should learn to use the fuel carefully and avoid the wastage just like we do with water and electricity.