Cane growers’ plea on open market sale

ERODE: The State Government should allow the sugarcane growers to sell their produce in the open market without obtaining a no-objection certificate from the respective sugar mills, farmers said.

Participating in their grievances redressal day meeting held here recently, the farmers pointed out that the government was implementing a rule, which mandates the sugarcane growers to get no-objection certificate from the respective sugar mills before selling their produce to the manufacturers of jaggery and sale of other products in the open market.

Refusal

A majority of the sugar mills were refusing to provide no-objection certificate to the growers.

The government should scrap the rule immediately and allow the growers to sell their produce in the open market, farmers said.

A few farmers also complained that they were facing difficulties in obtaining crop loans from the banks.

They wanted the district administration to instruct the banks to extend crop loans to all the eligible farmers without unnecessary delays.

Collector R. Sudalaikannan, in his reply, assured that the administration would initiate efforts to redress the grievances of farmers quickly.

He also appealed to the farmers to co-operate with the district administration for the establishment of an integrated marketing complex for turmeric.

From THE HINDU

Human rights commission orders filing of report on water contamination

CHENNAI: The State Human Rights Commission on Monday ordered that the Chairman, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, Commissioner, Chennai Corporation, and the Chennai Collector should file a report to the Commission on a report regarding contamination of groundwater in West Mogappair. Taking suo motu cognisance of a report in The Hindu dated June 21, a Bench of the Commission comprising Justice A.S. Venkatachalamoorthy, Chairperson, and A.R. Selvakumar, Member, said the officials should file the report on the various averments made in the news item. It should be sent to the Commission in three days. As per the report, the residents alleged that contamination was due to leak of oil from a petrol filling station.

From THE HINDU

Where has all the flood money gone?

BANGALORE: Last year’s floods in North Karnataka, the biggest natural disaster in the state in public memory, triggered the largest fund-raising exercise, generating about Rs 1,000 crore, including Rs 500 crore collected by state government agencies.

While chief minister B S Yeddyurappa has announced that he would make public the money collected and spent by the state government during the upcoming legislature session starting June 28, one wonders where all the other money has gone.

“We recently issued notices to various NGOs and social organisations, seeking a detailed report on how they spent or are spending the money collected for flood relief. But we have had little or no response,’’ said a senior officer associated with the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. He blamed the officials for it.

WHEN CASH POURED IN
Waking up from its slumber, maybe just a little late, the state government is now seriously contemplating bringing out a policy to check large-scale bungling or misuse of funds collected to provide relief to victims of natural disasters/calamities. “There is an urgent need to frame a policy to keep a check on funds raised from the public for relief and rehabilitation work. I will soon hold a meeting with experts to see what best the government can do to prevent such scams,’’ said law and parliamentary affairs minister S Suresh Kumar. Home minister V S Acharya also expressed similar views.

A week after the worst flood of the century hit the state last September-October, politicians, NGOs and social organisations were quick to raise funds and gather relief material for the affected through padayatras, donation box in hand.

According to officials, crores of rupees collected during such sundry padayatras never reached the victims, and the funds were utilised for other purposes. Not only that, money collected by these societies has been allegedly misused for personal expenses of office-bearers.

EASY MONEY
An analysis of accounts shows that in 2009, a Bangalore-based social organisation collected donations amounting to Rs 2.16 lakh for flood relief, but spent only Rs 300 out of it. The remaining funds were diverted for other purposes.

Likewise, several lakhs of rupees collected by organisations in the name of tsunami, Orissa cyclone and Gujarat earthquake were also not sent to the victims. It’s not that everybody and anybody can collect funds from the public. There is a stringent law to check arbitrary collection of funds, and police officials have limited this authority only to keep a tab on fraudulent elements during Ganesha festivities.

As per law, those organizations that want to collect funds from the public for a special or noble cause should seek the permission of the police. While grating permission, the police should verify the track record of the organizations and also be satisfied with their commitment and integrity to the cause.

manu.aiyappa@timesgroup.com

Laying waste

UNPROTECTED:Sewage being dumped into the field - Photo : N. Rajesh

From THE HINDU

Villagers protesting against POSCO plant lathicharged

BHUBANESWAR: At least two persons were injured when the police resorted to lathi charge villagers opposing the establishment of a mega steel plant by Posco India Private Limited in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district on Wednesday.

The police also arrested two persons on the charges of obstructing government officials from discharging their duties.

Wait till talks end

The incident took place when hundreds of residents of Nuagaon village staged a dharna on the main road to their village, to prevent administration officials from carrying out survey work for the proposed steel mill.

The villagers, who have been opposing displacement by the 12 million tonne capacity steel plant project for the past five years, have been opposing survey work saying that the State government should stop the work till talks between the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central) and the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti get over.

Meeting on June 5

A meeting between the two sides was held at Cuttack on May 29, and the next round of talks is scheduled to be held on June 5.

The Orissa government has earmarked 4,004 acres of land in three Jagatsinghpur gram panchayats for the proposed plant.

But no land has been acquired for the project till date due to stiff opposition from the locals, who were demanding that the site be shifted to another place.

From THE HINDU

Illegal sand mining poses threat to river, bridges

Rules on sand lifting near bridge to keep pillars safe are flouted

DINDIGUL: Rampant illegal sand mining being taken up in large scale, that too in broad day light, on Sandhanavarthini River poses grave threat to bridges constructed across culverts and prime roads, cultivable lands in rain fed areas and irrigation wells.

Alarming:Illegal sand mining taken up on Sandhanavarthini river at Kulathur near Dindigul on Saturday.— PHOTO: G. KARTHIKEYAN

Neither the government officials nor elected representatives of local bodies pay attention to it. Even local people too do not object to these illegal activities without realising that such activities will ultimately affect their livelihood.

Earlier, sand lifters used to lift sand from the interior parts of the river either at dusk or at night discreetly using bullock carts or mini goods carrier vehicles. With not even a reprimand either from revenue or from mining officials, sand lifters do all the processing work including collection, stone removal and sieving on the river bed and dispatch the finished product leisurely in lorries to the respective destination.

Even elected representatives do not care to realise its adverse impact and take steps to prevent this hazard.

The abundant lenience of the officials and representatives encourages sand lifters to start lifting sand even near the main road in Kulathur without fear. All rules on sand lifting near the bridge area in order to keep the pillars and abutment safe are flouted as they lift large quantity of sand near the bridge, said environmentalists. “This illegal exercise will cause a grave threat to the river environment and severe damage to the bridge.”

Now, the river bed near Kulauthur is full of large pits. The worst affected are farmers. Flow of rainwater in the river recharges irrigation wells that irrigate at least one rain fed crop per year. Sand mining wipes out their last hope also.

Top soil is a non-renewable resource. The river bed sans sand does not retain water and allow it to flow towards dam without recharging ground water table and irrigation wells. In the long run, it will cripple the economic development of rural areas parlaying even rain-fed agriculture activities, they stated.

Originated from Sirumalai, Sandhanavarthini River passes through Sanarpatti, Eriyode, Kulathur and several villages and hamlets and finally confluence with Kudaganar River.

From THE HINDU

Hubli-Illegal mining: Plea to hasten probe

HUBLI: Environmentalists have urged the central government to speed up the CBI inquiry into illegal mining in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

National Committee for Protection of Natural Resources president S R Hiremath and A S Salanki of Jan Vikas Andolan told reporters here on Saturday that money from illegal mining had led to corruption and power politics.

“There is an immediate need to curb illegal mining by ending the nexus between politicians, officials and miners,” Hiremath said.

Investigating agencies should also look into allegations of tax evasions and violations under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

“The inquiry into illegal mining by several companies, including the Obalapuram Mining Company and Bellary Iron Ore Private Ltd, began well but it stopped because of a stay order issued by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh. The Andhra and the Union governments should work towards vacating the stay,” Salanki said.

Hiremath said they would urge the seven-member multi-disciplinary team constituted by Andhra Pradesh government to expedite survey of the mines and the inter-state border. “We will also urge Karnataka CM to join this initiative,” Hiremath said.

From TOI