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Madhya Pradesh yet to pay up over Rs 3,100 crore as share of Narmada Project: Gujarat government to NCA

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial statement, the Gujarat government’s powerful arm implementing the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), has said that Madhya Pradesh has yet to pay up a whopping Rs 3,159.88 crore against the nieghbouring state’s share of expenditure in the SSP, followed by Maharashtra’s Rs 1,437.50 crore and Rajasthan’s Rs 471.70 crore. The statement is an “update” as on May 12, 2013 of the “Status Report on SSP”, sent by the SSNNL to the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) – the Government of India-appointed inter-state authority to give a final nod to the project’s various components – in December 2012.
The total amount the three states must pay up, according to the SSNNL, comes to Rs 5,059.08 crore. A further breakup, worked out by the SSNNL, suggests that out of Rs 3,159.88 crore that Madhya Pradesh must pay up, nearly two-thirds, or Rs 1,826.80 crore, is as interest, piling up for years for its failure to make regular payment against t…

Narendra Modi's solar eclipse

By Rajiv Shah
In was January-end 2008. I was planning a story on spurt of investment in Kutch district of Gujarat after the killer quake of January 26, 2001. I called up RJ Shah, then chief principal industrial advisor (a strange designation, I thought, principal and chief together!), and he immediately responded, saying, he had all the details and I should reach his office in the industries commissionerate in Udyog Bhawan, Gandhinagar. A diligent government official who always had all the industry figures on his tips – something which is a rarity in the babudom today – Shah scanned through his papers and was simply awestruck: “This is absolutely marvelous. Kutch has as of today Rs 78,688 crore worth of investment under implementation, which comes to 39 per cent of Gujarat.”
Then, Shah decided to have a closer look at the investment proposals, and one of them happened to be a solar project. “Wait, wait, wait”, he looked through his traditional spectacles. “This is really very strange. …

Govt admits SC, ST conviction rate in Gujarat is very low, 'decides' to hire low paid lawyers to overcome lag

By Rajiv Shah
In a major admission, the Gujarat government has said that government pleaders are so preoccupied with their jobs that they are “unable to address” and give “enough time” to fight cases related with Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. A government resolution (GR) issued by the state’s social justice and empowerment department with the specific intention of raising the conviction rate of atrocities cases has said that in the recent past the state government has witnessed a sharp fall in the ability to take up atrocity cases.
“Compared to many other states, the number of cases in which there is a failure to arrive at any conclusion in atrocity cases has gone up in Gujarat”, the GR admits, adding, the rate of success in the atrocities cases in the state is actually “negligible”. “In order to increase the success rate of conviction in atrocities cases and ensure their effectiveness, the Gujarat government has decided to provide certain c…

In a somersault, Gujarat govt says it never wanted CEPT University to "review" NGO study on untouchability

By Rajiv Shah
In a complete about-turn, the Gujarat government has asserted that it never asked the CEPT University to review or refute an NGO study by Navsarjan Trust on wide prevalence of untouchability in Gujarat's rural areas. The NGO study titled "Understanding Untouchability", carried out in 2010, was based on a survey of about 1,600 villages. The statement is in total contrast to what the introduction to the CEPT report says -- that the state government had sponsored it in order to "review" the NGO study and find out if there was such wide prevalence of untouchability as the study claims. It is not known what has prompted the state government to make a change in its stance.
The statement -- issued to refute media reports that the CEPT report was meant to prove that the NGO study's findings on untouchability were unfounded -- also states that the CEPT University was merely asked "to suggest ways on how to remove caste discrimination in Gujarat&quo…