Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cong’s 48 hr mahadharna begins

Demands CM’s resignation on CAG disclosure, health minister’s resignation on Bhadoura land scam

Raipur, March 23, 2013

Congress started its 48 hour mahadharna against CAG disclosure and Bhadoura land scam on Saturday. In wake of CAG revelation, the party demanded chief minister Raman Singh’s resignation and conduction of special session in Vidhan Sabha to debate on CAG report. The party also sought health minister Amar Agrawal’s resignation on Bhadoura land scam. 

The party said state assembly Speaker Dharamlal Kaushik, alongwith his workers, too dented government exchequer by doing illegal mining of minerals of his constituency.

Addressing the Congmen at dharna spot, the state Congress president Nandkumar Patel said the BJP government only did corruption in its two terms and sold state’s water, forests and mineral resources. 

He said the CAG had estimated scam worth Rs 7000 crore including the benefit of over 1500 crore given by the government to Adani group - which is closely linked senior BJP leader. 

He said the relatives of health minister Amar Agrawal, who also held revenue portfolio earlier, had acquired benami lands through fake registrations. 

Congress legislators’ party (CLP) leader Ravindra Choubey said the people had realised that the government is corrupt as even ministers were illegally acquiring people’s lands. He said the BJP government was biggest enemy of the state.

PCC general secretary Devvrat Singh said the BJP government had nothing to do with public problems and its sole agenda was to do corruption. 

The mahadharna was also attended by DCC Raipur Urban president Inderchand Dhariwal, DC Raipur Rural president Pankaj Sharma, Pramod Dubey, Shivnarayan Dwivedi, Chandrashekhar Yadav, Kalpana Patel, Amit Pandey, Anjay Shukla, PR Khunte, Mahendra Chhabda, Amir Ali Farishta, Sushil Anand Shukla, Asha Israel Joseph, Bhojkumari Yadu, Chhaya Verma, Niranjan Haritwal, Madan Taleda, Kanhaiyya Agrawal, Jagdish Ahuja, Sahdev Vyavhar, Rakesh Dhotre, Aijaz Dhebar, Vikas Upadhyay, Gyanesh Sharma, Samir Akhtar, Babul Yadav, Rajesh Thakur, Avtar Singh Saini, etc.

Rs 252.63 cr recovered illegally from power consumers: Cong

Raipur, March 23, 2013

Congress on Saturday alleged that the government deceived power consumers by illegally recovering Rs 252.63 crore from them.

“According to CAG report, the government already gets tax on generated power in the form of duty and cess from the NTPC and captive power generating companies for selling and distributing electricity. But in the last one year, the government made wrong provision in power cess being taken from consumers and recovered Rs 252.63 crore from them,” said Congress spokesperson Mahendra Chhabda.

“Consumers are irked of power tariff hike, irregular power bills, wrong meter readings and undeclared power cuts and the government imposed additional illegal tax on them from the backdoor,” he said.

He demanded registration of criminal case against top officials of power companies for violating rules under Energy Act.


State assembly adjourns sine die

Monsoon session likely in July 2nd-3rd week

Raipur, March 22, 2013

The state assembly’s 25-day budget session (from Febraury 18 to March 22, 2013) concluded on Friday with Speaker Dharamlal Kaushik adjourning the House sine die. He said the next session would likely be conducted in 2nd-3rd week of July 2013. “In 25 sittings, the House debated for 148 hours 25 minutes,” he said during his concluding speech.

He informed that the opposition members proposed for 1064 amendments on Governor’s address and the House debated for 10 hours 10 minutes on them in three days. 

Similarly, the House debated for 7 hours 47 minutes on government’s income-expenditure for financial year 2013-14 in two days. He said the House had fixed debate for 36 hours 30 minutes in 12 days from Febraury 28 to March 18, 2013 but the members debated for 64 hours 51 minutes.

He informed that the House passed 11 out of 12 private member’s resolutions while one resolution was withdrawn from the member who moved it. Besides, 14 governmental bills were tabled and passed after debate in the House, he added.

He said the prominent bills were - Chhattisgarh SC, ST and OBC (Regulation for Certification of Social Status) Bill 2013, International Institute of Information Technology University Bill 2013, Criminal Law (Chhattisgarh Amendment) Bill 2013 and Right to Skill Development to Youth Bill 2013. He hoped that the four would prove as milestone in development of state. 

He informed that the House received the total of 2771 information regarding starred and unstarred questions and conducted debate on 230 starred questions. 

Similarly, the House received 190 proposals regarding adjournment motion, but debate was conducted over acceptability of 37 adjournment motions (which had proposed for one common subject). The House rejected 149 proposals of adjournment motion and transformed four into call attention. 

The House received 747 proposals regarding call attention of which 125 were accepted, 527 were rejected and 95 were transformed to zero hour. Likewise, 194 proposals were received for zero hour but the House accepted only 112. In this session, 25 reports of different governmental departments were also tabled.

During session, the House nominated two of its members – Pratima Chandrakar and Rajni Ravishankar Tripathi to participate in commonwealth women parliamentarians’ conference at New Delhi on March 8 and 9. “The two represented Chhattisgarh chapter of commonwealth parliamentary association and expressed their views in the conference,” he said congratulating the duo.

He informed that the state assembly issued 29750 visitor’s pass during budget session.

CG assly should be called ‘aam aadmi ka VS’: CM

Chief minister Raman Singh says that Chhattisgarh assembly should be called ‘aam aadmi ka Vidhan Sabha’ as 29750 people visited and watched House proceedings during current budget session. “There were range of visitors from engineers to doctors to advocates to students who curiously watched House proceedings and learned how active is our assembly,” Singh said.  

He said some of the bills tabled and passed in the House were on serious subjects that had drawn the nation’s attraction in the recent past. He said the House members debated on almost all the major issues during the session. He also termed all the private member’s resolution significant and related to public interest.

Terming the opposition like Amrit salt the CM appreciated it for playing its role responsible. 

He said Chhattisgarh assembly was different from other assemblies across the country as its members maintain decorum and pride of the House and never cross the line.

Opposition upheld democratic values: Choubey

Leader of opposition Ravindra Choubey said the opposition succeeded in upholding legislative supremacy democratic values and playing its role effectively in state assembly during budget session.

Terming the session as successful for Congress he said that the party strongly attacked the government on burning issues through debates. “This was the last session of this term as July 2013 session will be a farewell session. The opposition played creative role in this session,” he said. 

He said the opposition also strictly followed its own rules, i.e. of self-discipline and did not enter the well of the House. 

“Entering the well is always the last weapon of an opposition and we did not need to use it as we continuously gheraoed the government during question hours and debates,” he said. 

He slammed the BJP government for failing to construct MLA rest houses in ten years. 

Regretting that state assembly could not reach to 60 sittings in a session in last 13 years he said it was decided in the parliament that small Vidhan Sabhas including Chhattisgarh should conduct at least 60 sittings in a session. 

He also regretted that the parliamentary affairs minister Brijmohan Agrawal opposed reintroduction of Congress MLA Mohammad Akbar’s private member’s bill in the House and debate could not be held on it. He, however, hailed all other bills tabled and passed in the House.

He asked the government to put oil paintings of great leaders of Chhattisgarh including Pt Ravishankar Shukla in newly constructed Central Hall in Vidhan Sabha.


Opposition’s criticisms a touchstone in democracy: Boudh 

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Doojram Boudh said opposition’s criticisms were touchstone for ruling party in democracy. “The opposition plays big role in the democracy. Even the CM accepts it as he admired me recently when I criticised him and his government in the House on some issue and the next the media prominently flashed my name,” he said.

It was most successful session: Brijmohan

Parliamentary affairs minister Brijmohan Agrawal said the current budget session was the most successful in the history of Chhattisgarh assembly. “25 sittings were fixed for this session and the House successfully conducted all 25. The House members – be it from ruling party or opposition, participated actively in the debate and expressed their views. The opposition members compelled the ministers to reply while the latter too responded well,” he said.

CAG report: Cong asks CM to step down

Demands CBI report, special session in Vidhan Sabha to debate on it

Raipur, March 22, 2013

Congress on Fridays asked chief minister Raman Singh to tender his resignation in wake of revelation by CAG report that said that the government exchequer was dented by about 2500 crore for giving undue waiver benefits to Adani group and BALCO.

“The government received the CAG report one week earlier but it tabled in the House on the concluding day of budget session to escape debate on it. Te Congress even pressed the ruling party for debate CAG report but it refused to do so,” said state Congress president Nandkumar Patel while interacting with scribes at his residence.

He also demanded CBI probe into waiver benefits given to Adani group and BALCO and special session in state assembly to debate on CAG report. 

“The Adani group was appointed as mine developer and operator by the state power company which got Parsa East Coal Block for captive use. The contract to Adani group was given by amending unnecessary amendments in terms and conditions of contract that eventually would dent government exchequer by Rs 1568.91 crore,” Patel said.

“We all know with which BJP leader Adani is linked but the latter will face similar consequence as did Sancheti brothers faced despite their link with former BJP president Nitin Gadkari,” he added.

Besides, he said, the government benefited BALCO by giving it 3000 acre land at lease at the rate of Rs 200 per acre. “In this leasing process, the government incurred loss of Rs 965 crore,” he said.

He said the Congress would include both the issues along with Bhadoura land scam in its three-day statewide mahadharna beginning from Saturday.

Bill to check crime against women passed unanimously

Raipur, March 21, 2013

State assembly on Thursday unanimously passed Criminal Law (Chhattisgarh Amendment) Bill 2013 which is aimed to check crime against women. 

“The government is committed to protect women. There has been host of cases post Delhi gangrape incident. Considering this, we have brought this bill in the House,” said home minister Nankiram Kanwar who tabled the bill Vidhan Sabha.

He claimed that crime rate in state declined by 4%, especially crime against women.

“We have also started women helpline number, women desk and opened Mahila Thana in Raipur, Drug, Bilaspur and Sarguja to check women abuse cases,” he said.

Earlier, participating in debate Congress MLA Ambika Markam termed the bill as welcoming move for security of womenfolk. She pointed that sexual harassment of rural women continues as they hesitate in lodging complain against the accused. 

She suggested for increasing female police staff by fifty percent in rural pockets so that they could deal rape victims more sympathetically. She said the government should also ensure to appoint only female staff in girls ashram schools to prevent reiteration of Jhaliyamari (Kanker) incident. She also sought provision of stern action against those who molest children.  

She further suggested that female police staff should be pressed in civil dress near schools and colleges to prevent eve-teasing incidents. 

The BJP MLA Deepak Kumar Patel said the bill intended to strengthen womenfolk. He indicated that there was a provision of punishment in the bill for sending vulgar messages to harass women through cellphones. 

Congress MLA Pratima Chandrakar said the bill would boost self-confidence of the women. She said the government should ensure the rape accused may not escape punishment as it usually happens in the absence of evidence.

Congress MLA Dr Renu Jogi did not find anything new in the bill. She said even if the government would follow existing rules, crime against women would come down. She said the bill should not just become a mask and the provisions in it should be implemented at ground level.

The BSP MLA Doojram Boudh and Congress MLA Dr Haridas Bhardwaj asked the government to give pistol licence to women for self-defence. 

Three more bills passed in VS

The House also passed three more bills on Thursday. The bills are - International Institute of Information Technology University Bill 2013, Chhattisgarh Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill 2013 and Chhattisgarh University (Amendment) Bill2013.

Provisions under Criminal Law (Chhattisgarh Amendment) Bill 2013 are..

If a relative or a person would try to rape a woman who she trusts, he would be penalised.

If a relative will rape a woman, he will be penalised.

During rape, if the people present on the occasion intend to save the criminal and do not prevent the incident or fail to inform the police about it, punitive action will be taken against them.

If rape occurs at workplace, the incharge person would be penalised for not stopping the incident or for failing to inform about it to the police.

The people who use electronic means to physically abuse a woman would be punished.

The audio-video statement of rape victim will be taken by a female police officer as an evidence of the incident.

Medical examination of the rape victim will be done by female doctor.

The police can take presumption against rapist.

Youth get right to skill development

Govt to impart training in over 1400 disciplines

Raipur, March 21, 2013

Now, the state youth will have right to skill development as the state assembly unanimously passed Right to Skill Development to Youth Bill 2013 on Thursday. Under this right, the government will mandatorily provide opportunity for skill development to a candidate (between 14 to 45 years of age) within 90 days of his application.

Tabling this bill in the House, technical education minister Ramvichar Netam informed that the youth, aiming to enhance their skill to get job or start self-employment, would have option to get training in any of over 1400 disciplines. 

“We have uploaded information about these disciplines in the official website of the department too. Now, if a youngster could not continue his studies and fail to get job then he can apply for skill development and we will arrange training programme for him,” the minister said. 

He informed that the government had targeted to impart 1.25 crore youth by 2022. 

Terming the bill as boon to youth, he said although Chhattisgarh had immense possibilities, the youth move to other states in search of jobs, however, the bill gives them the right they deserve.

The minister even claimed that the bill was first of its kind in the world.

Leader of opposition Ravindra Choubey said the principal opposition was already surprised how the government claimed of getting national-level awards and now the minister was claiming the bill as first and foremost in the world. “Who will give you award, USA president Barack Obama,” he asked. 

Pointing that the bill was tabled in haste, he said let it not become just a poll promise and basic requisite for training should be arranged to benefit the youth. He said the government could start at last 10 disciplines in every block initially. He also suggested for opening rural training centres.

CG first in India to make an Act for caste certificate

House passes bill to protect rights of SC, ST, OBC categories unanimously

Govt makes provision of punishment for fake certificate makers

students of class IX, XII to get permanent caste certificates

Raipur, March 20, 2013

Chhattisgarh has become first state in country to make an Act for caste certificate. This Act has not only simplified procedures to make caste certificate for scheduled caste SC), scheduled tribe (ST) and other backward class (OBC) categories, but also makes a provision of punishment for fake certificate makers. In this connection, the state assembly unanimously passed Chhattisgarh SC, ST and OBC (Regulation for Certification of Social Status) Bill 2013 on Wednesday.

Health minister Amar Agrawal, who tabled the bill in absence of chief minister Raman Singh, said the Act would be first in the country to protect the rights of SC, ST and OBC categories. 

He informed the House that once a candidate would give application to obtain caste certificate, his application would be considered under Public Service Guarantee Act and he would get temporary certificate within one month.

He announced that the students of class IX and XII would get permanent caste certificates to pursue their higher studies. He informed that the insulting words being used for some castes too had been replaced.

He further informed that the state government had also sent a proposal to Centre to remove typographical errors of 12 castes pointing that the people of those castes were not getting reservation benefits. 

“We have sent the proposal to provide right to the people of 12 castes they deserve,” he told.  

He said Chhattisgarh had been adopting rules format of undivided Madhya Pradesh since it became state in November 2000. Pointing that large population of Chhattisgarh belonged to SC, ST and OBC categories, he said such people always require caste certificate to take admission in educational institutes, apply for jobs and contest elections under reserved category.

“The people under these categories face several problems in getting certificates while the ineligible ones make fake certificates to take benefit of the quota system. By far, neither Centre nor any state has made any Act in this regard. Now, with an Act coming into existence in state, not only the SC, ST and OBC people will easily get caste certificates, but action too would be taken against fake certificate makers,” Agrawal said.

What opposition MLAs said..

Participating in debate over the bill, Congress MLA Tamradhwaj Sahu said according to new Act procedures to make caste certificate would take ample time and it should be simplified. “Let schools mention caste as well as class of a child when he takes admission. Then, there will be no need to take certificate from Collector or SDM,” he said. He further hailed the provision of imprisonment from three months to two years in the bill for fake certificate makers and receivers.

Congress MLA Premsai Singh Tekam said caste certificates should be made on the basis of school certificates where caste of a student is mention. Pointing that about 400 government officials and employees were facing charge of obtaining job by producing fake caste certificate, he demanded quick action against them.

Congress legislator Ambika Markam termed the bill as good initiative for SC, ST and OBC categories. Advocating for simplification of caste certificate making procedures, she asked the government to remove typographical errors of some castes to give reservation benefit to the people of those categories.

Congress MLA Lekhram Sahu said landless people face problem in obtaining caste certificate. “It is very difficult to get a certificate without giving bribe,” he said.
“The caste certificate should be made at village level after approval of panchayat. This will not only be convenient for the applicants but also the bribery tradition will stop,” he said.

Congress MLA Dr Renu Jogi said the bill should not just become a poll weapon for the ruling party and people should get benefits from its provisions. She pointed that the Baiga tribes face problem in getting caste certificate as they fail to produce misal record.

BSP legislator Doojram Boudh said the talented students could not pursue their higher studies because they do not get caste certificate timely. He suggested to implement ancient varna system and provide certificates on that basis. He said nobody knows how much harassment a person faces due to the caste he belongs to. 

Congress MLA Amarjeet Bhagat said applicants should not be harassed when they seek caste certificate. He demanded provision of punishment for those who obtain caste certificate by giving false affidavit.

Congress MLA Dr Shiv Kumar Daharia asked the government to ensure that the bill may not violate Constitutional rules. Congress legislator Pratima Chandrakar pointed that the outsiders too were taking benefit of reservation by obtaining caste certificate in state. Congress MLA TS Singhdeo said the punishment period for fake caste certificate receivers should be more than two years so that they may not contest polls.

Now Govt to provide 150 days of work under MNREGA

Will incur payment of 50 days work

Will provide Right to Skill Development to youth

Will start Mukhyamantri Yuva Swarojgar Yojana to provide easy loans to unemployed

Will give tax relief to common consumers, small dealers, civil contractors

House passes Chhattisgarh appropriation bill 2013 related to budget 2013-14 through voice vote

Raipur, March 19, 2013

Chief minister Raman Singh on Tuesday announced in Vidhan Sabha that the government would provide 150 days of work under MNREGA and incur payment of 50 days. The CM’s announcement came while he was speaking during debate over Chhattisgarh appropriation bill 2013 related to budget 2013-14 at state assembly. 

“By far, under MNREGA, a registered rural household was getting at least 100 days of guaranteed employment in a year. We had sent a proposal to the Centre to increase job days from 100 to 150 but the latter has not taken any decision in this regard till now. About 50% of the job cardholders are women who do not get any benefit like maternity allowance under this scheme. Therefore, the state government has decided to increase MNREGA work days by additional 50 days. The payment of these 50 days job would be solely incurred by our government,” he said.

He informed the House that job cardholder pregnant women would be entitled to maternity allowance equivalent to a month's wages.

“Again, we will be the fist state to take this initiative and the Centre will surely follow us,” he said.

On youth, he said Chhattisgarh would be first state in the country to provide Right to Skill Development to the youth between 14 to 45 years of age. “Under this right, the government will mandatorily provide opportunity for skill development to the candidate within 90 days of his application. For this, a skill development fund will be constituted,” he informed.

He also announced to start Mukhyamantri Yuva Swarojgar Yojana to provide easy loans to unemployed youth for their self-employment.

He further declared to start Mukhyamantri Yuva Bharat Darshan Yojana (MMYBDY) and establish a sports university at Rajnandgaon. “While the MMYBDY will provide free travel facility to youth for skill enhancement, the sport varsity will promote sporting talents,” he said. 

He informed the House that the government had also launched a scheme to provide free laptops and tablets to about one lakh students of final year at graduation level.

The CM also announced VAT relief for common consumers, small dealers and civil contractors. “The turnover limit for small composition dealers has been raised from Rs 50 lakh per annum to Rs 60 lakh. Similarly, composition fee has been reduced from 0.50% to 0.25% of turnover. This tax relief will benefit about 40000 small dealers and they will be encouraged for self compliance,” he said.

In addition, consumers will relief from tax as the government has decided to reduce VAT from 14% to 5% on mineral water and sealed container water, shrikhand, paneer, cream, marble, Dhaulpur stone and Kota stone.

The state’s steel re-rolling mills, which are facing recession, too have been given relief by reducing VAT from 5% to 3% on steel bars and steel structural. Besides, entry tax on steel tube has been reduced from 1.5% to 0.5%. 

In his budget speech, the CM had announced that composition fee for road contractors, who does not import goods from outside the state, has been reduced from 2% to 1%. Now, it has been further reduced to 0.60%. Likewise, composition fee for other civil contractors, who construct building, bridge, dam etc and import goods from outside the state, has been reduced from 4% to 2%. The civil contractors who do not import goods from outside the state will also get relaxation in composition fee which has been reduced from 2% to 1%.

The VAT on machinery and equipment used in civil construction too has been reduced from 14% to 5%.

The CM said mere announcement of schemes was not enough as the administration too would be made prompt and accountable to ensure effective implementation of all schemes.  

“For this, GIS based monitoring and evaluation of government schemes would be made compulsory for their effective implementation. Besides, Chhattisgarh Lok Seva Guarantee Act will be extended to include more services. Also, appropriate legislation will be enacted to ensure integrity and transparency in public procurement,” he said.

Bhagat sat on dharna
After CM’s address, Congress MLA Amarjeet Bhagat entered the well of the House and sat on dharna demanding medical college in Sarguja.

By entering the well, Bhagat got suspended according to Vidhan Sabha rules. However, leader of the opposition Ravindra Choubey urged the House not to suspend him as he was quickly convinced by the fellow MLA TS Singhdeo to resume his seat.

The parliamentary affairs minister Brijmohan Agrawal too requested Speaker Dharamlal Kaushik to end Bhagat’s suspension period instantly.  

Kaushik announced to end Bhagat’s suspension period and warned the House members not to reiterate such acts again in future.

Govt did nothing for poor, youth, farmers: Choubey

Raipur, March 19, 2013

Leader of opposition Ravindra Choubey on Tuesday said that state government received Rs 3 lakh crore in ten years but failed to do anything for poor, youth and farmers. “Where has this fund gone when the government has failed to use it? Why its schemes are not reaching to the end beneficiaries? Why has it failed to produce result? Actually, it is incapable in doing balanced development of the state,” said Choubey while participating in debate over Chhattisgarh appropriation bill 2013 related to budget 2013-14 at state assembly.

“About 4 lakh acres of farmers’ land has been given to the industrialists. Still, the industries do not give jobs to state’s youths,” he said.

He pointed that government’s claims of high agricultural production was contradictory to shrinking crop area of the state. 

“It is an irony that this government has reduced value added tax (VAT) used on diesel used in industries but did not cut down VAT on diesel used by farmers,” he said.

“The government has not established any agri-based industry in last ten years. It has neither done anything for farmer nor for agriculture sector,” he added.

On chief minister’s announcement of Rs 270 paddy bonus distribution to farmers, Choubey said the government could not rub its hand merely by declaring one year’s bonus as it owed over Rs 4000 crore bonus of two more years. 

“The farmers know how to take their remaining bonus and they are just waiting for the right time,” he said.

He informed the farmers of village Nariyara (Janjgir) were striking for the past several months with their demand of proper compensation against their lands being acquired by industrialists, but the government was ignoring them. “Rather, when they shouted slogans, the police lathicharged on them,” he added.

He said the government was working in two directions and needed to search the face of development. 

Indicating that law and order in the state was in haywire he said - “There is no dearth of fund fro infrastructural development of home department, however the government failed to protect tribal girls of Jhaliyamari,” he added.

“We do not object when you give red carpet welcome to industrialists, but we feel sad when a tribal girl Meena Khalkhon gets killed and police fail to arrest the culprits,” he said. 

“It is also frustrating that the government does not take action against industries that give protection money to naxals as it happened in case of Essar. Why is it protecting industrialists? The CM should tell the House why his government is adopting double standards,” he added.

He alleged that the government launched Mukhyamantri Swasthya Bima Yojna (MMSBY) only to take poll benefit but not to benefit the needy. “The government has not yet done agreement with hospitals under MMSBY, hence the patients are not getting benefit of this facility,” he pointed.

He said the government was also supposed to make 32 lakh smart cards but had only issued 25 lakh. 

On education he said despite providing lands and other facilities to private schools the government had failed to ensure that such institutions keep 15% of their seats for children from financially weaker section. 

“It is also surprising that the government is planning to sell its guarantee bonds worth 1500 crore.  Is it facing acute financial crisis? If not then why it has resorted to this step,” he inquired.

On health he said the state had become hub of duplicate medicines. He pointed that several posts of paramedical staff and other support staff still were vacant. He said maximum corruption happen in health department.

He also lashed the government for not making any effective plan to create job opportunities for youth. 

He further asked the CM to fulfil his party’s promise give equal salary equal posts to Shikshakarmis. 

He said despite government’s claims that state marked high GDP rate and increased per capita income the condition of poor and farmers was dejected.

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