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HINDU21JULY13 Rethink Rangarajan formula on gas pricing, says House panel Yashwant Sinha-led committee protests price hike

With the Rangarajan formula raising concerns in the government and political circles about windfall gains to corporate houses, the Yashwant Sinha-chaired Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance has not only sought a rethink on the formula but also asked the Manmohan government to immediately review the decision to raise gas prices from April 2014. Backing the draft report of the Standing Committee, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar told The Hindu that the partys position was the same as that articulated by Mr. Sinha. The Power and Fertilizer Ministries have already expressed concern over the hike in gas prices and their adverse impact on power tariffs and fertilizer cost. The Left parties also sought a review of the gas pricing formula which, they alleged, was aimed at benefiting certain corporate houses. In its draft report, Economic Impact of Revision of Natural Gas Price, accessed by The Hindu, the Committee strongly recommends that the government review forthwith its decision to raise gas prices and come out with fresh pricing which is more balanced and holistic and closely related to the audited cost of production and a reasonable return on the capital invested. Arms length pricing cannot be construed to mean logic-less pricing. The decision to seek a review of gas prices comes close on the heels of the strong opposition the government faced from the Left and some other sections over virtually doubling of prices from April 2014. The government needs to rethink certain elements in the pricing formula suggested by the Rangarajan panel, which only serves to push the Indian gas price higher than it ought to be. A more realistic formulation better suited to our current priorities may be evolved, says the draft report. Further, there should be a cap on the suggested price under the formula and for this purpose, there should be a ceiling price. It cannot be the case that gas producers will be allowed to reap unlimited gains in the event of an upswing in global prices, at the expense of the core sectors of the economy. The government should also subject gas producers to closer regulation, especially on cost recovery and technical parameters related to production. A comprehensive technical study on cost estimates of gas production should be conducted for this purpose. Referring to the continued decline in production, the Committee says the government must ensure that the contractor responsible for delivering the major chunk of gas from KG D6 gasfield makes good the shortfall as per the agreement at the old price of $ 4.2 mbtu, rather than getting the benefit of the new price for previous commitments. The important recommendation of the Rangarajan panel of moving to a revenue sharing arrangement with gas producers should be considered. A new production sharing contract [PSC] model should be evolved that will do away with incentives to control production and manipulating investments, while assuring reasonable returns to the producers, says the Committee. The draft report calls for a thorough study on the impact of gas pricing on different sectors of the economy, particularly the core sectors power and fertilizer. The quantum of subsidy required to compensate these sectors should be precisely arrived at over the medium term.

Similarly, the revenue loss should be quantified over this period to grasp fully the i mplications of the price revision on the Union budget, the report states. The Committee states that as gas pricing will have implications for power tariffs as well, States should also be consulted. The Rangarajan formula only serves to push gas price higher than it ought to be. A more realistic formula better suited to our current priorities may be evolved, says the draft report Forensic report says pesticide in meal snuffed out young lives Students who fell ill after a mid-day meal in Chapra at a Patna hospital on Saturday. PHOTO: AP In an alarming revelation, forensic examination of the midday meal in the affected school in Bihar has found that the poison content in the food was five times more than what is found in insecticides and pesticides. Scientists found the presence of monocrotophos an organophosphorus compound in the samples of cooking oil and food, the police said on Saturday. The report of investigators was, however, silent on why such quantity of monocrotophos was present in the meal. The peak area of the poisonous substance in the oil was more than five times in comparison to the commercial preparations, a press release giving details of the forensic report said. Tests were conducted on samples of cooking oil, a plastic container found at the school, leftover food (rice and vegetable) from the utensils and plates, as well as other material like froth from the mouth of a sick child, water and oil from the local cold press extraction process. The samples were compared with a pesticide called hilcron, procured from the market. Monocrotophos is used as a pesticide for agricultural purpose. It is very toxic to human beings and other animals, the press note said. The poisoned food claimed the lives of 23 children of in Chapra, Saran district of Bihar. Over 50 children were rushed to the primary health care centre in Chapras Mashrakh block, when they took ill after eating the midday meal. Poison in mid-day meal 5 times more than in pesticides: Forensic report In an alarming revelation, forensic examination of the mid-day meal in the affected school in Bihar has found that the poison content in the food was five times more than what is found in insecticides and pesticides. Scientists found the presence of Monocrotophos an organophosphorus compound in the samples of cooking oil and food, the police said on Saturday. The report of investigators was however silent on the quantity of Monocrotophos present in the meal and why such a high proportion of the substance was present in the meal. The peak area of the poisonous substance in the oil was more than five times in comparison to the commercial preparations, a press release giving details of the forensic report said. Tests were conducted on samples of cooking oil, a plastic container found at the school, leftover food (rice and vegetable) from the utensils and plates, as well as other material like froth from the mouth of one sick child, water and oil from the local cold press extraction process. The samples were compared with a pesticide called Hilcron, procured from the market. Monocrotophos is used as a pesticide for agricultural purpose. It is very toxic to human beings and other animals, the press note said.

The poisoned food claimed the lives of 23 children of in Chapra, Saran district of Bihar. Over 50 children were rushed to the primary health care centre in Chapras Mashrakh block, when they took ill after eating the mid -day meal. In the PHC, four children, who were suffering from congestion were given atropine used as a treatment for phosphorous poisoning. About five to six ampoules of atropine were used at the PHC. At the Chapra government hospital, about 400-500 ampoules of atropine was used. Children were administered atropine every 15 to 30 minutes depending on their condition. At the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) where children in critical condition were taken on Tuesday night, 12,000 ampoules of atropine had been used up so far, medical heads at the respective hospitals told The Hindu . Gandhijis foot soldier: a reformed dacoit strives to end Chambals culture of violence Sureshchandra Sarvodaya . Photo : Special Arrangement In popular culture, the ravines of Chambal have more often than not been synonymous with feared dacoits, murder, underdevelopment, dacoit-politician nexus and everything else thats bad. Now, a dacoit-turnedGandhian is attempting to change that perception. Sixty-one-year-old Sureshchandra Sarvodaya does not resemble the archetypal Robin Hood figure; yet for much of his early life he has worn that character. He sports a Gandhian cap; his voice is meek but words strong. If spotted in a crowd you may even mistake him for an Anna Hazare supporter. In an attempt to dislodge the culture of violence in the ravines, he is working to build a school for the young and the old, based on Gandhijis principles of self-reliance. Those who quit violence can reform themselves here, he says. Besides education and exercise facilities, the school will serve as a character-reforming institute for the youth of the area. Its so easy for them to join gangs. While he hopes to complete the necessary groundwork for his ambitious non -violence institution within a year, Suresh has begun seeking the support and contribution of people. Notably, he is also part of a group of intellectuals, academicians and journalists that envisages a university in Chambal, something unthinkable to most observers. The dream project will cater to the educational needs of people in the Bundelkhand-Chambal region, one of the most backward areas of the country and often neglected. Born in Uttar Pradeshs Mahoba district, adjoining Madhya Pradesh, Sureshs family belongs to the goldsmith caste. His father was in the service sector while his mother taught in a primary girls school. Though from an early age Suresh was deeply religious and was fond of reading and reciting texts, he also revered freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh. Defiant, he even said no when as a child he was set to be married off. Suresh committed his first crime at the tender age of 16 after being inspired by the play Rang de Basanti Chola, which features the Kakori train robbery sequence. He then shot dead a rich man, who was accused of raping a girl in his locality. I always believed that for good to win over the bad, force is sometimes required. After this incident I began to think that it was not entirely wrong to kill for fighting injustice. As his reputation grew, his friends started seeking favours from him, which led Suresh to commit some robberies. Back then little did I realise that this chain of violence would never end, he says. Many stray incidents later, as if to follow protocol in Chambal of those days, Suresh formed his own gang. Yet, even while committing the most outrageous crimes Suresh made sure that no women, children or elderly people were harmed. We would target the rich in nearby cities of Madhya Pradesh and U.P. and distribute the wealth among the poor and the needy, he says.

But his run came to an end in 1973, when aged just 21, he was arrested and sentenced to life for murdering a policeman while escaping after a robbery. The court rejected Sureshs bail application, moved by his father, and sent him to a jail in Kanpur. However, after serving just one-and-a-half years behind bars Suresh escaped while he was out on bail. He went underground and spent his days on the run, mostly in forests and ravines but only to be captured again. This is when he accepted his destiny. The first time I was arrested I was angry and burning with vengeance. When I was captured again, I realised this was fate. The life of violence would never end. The more I harmed or killed, the more enemies I made, says Suresh, who was booked in at least 20 cases, including murder and dacoity. His life and perception changed during his stay in jail, in particular after he attended a lecture on Mahatma Gandhis philosophy of life during one of the rehabilitation missions led by a college principal in Hamidpur. The principal provided him with books and Suresh started reading on Gandhijis principles. Deeply influenced by the Mahatmas teachings, he decided to live the rest of his life on the basis his principles. He even used to read out to other prisoners. Based on his goodwill and Sarvodaya nature, Suresh was released from jail in March 1999 after serving a 21 year jail term. Unlike most dacoits who are hounded by the police even after their release, police have never had any complaint against me, he says. He even encouraged other dacoits to leave behind their life of violence. After his release, Suresh went to an ashram in Maharashtra and changed his surname to Sarvodaya, one of Gandhihis ideologies. Today, he carries on the Father of Nations message and travels around the country, delivering lectures in schools and colleges, participating in film festivals and cultural programmes. Poison content in mid-day meal was five times more than what is found in insecticides: report Monocrotophos is an insecticide used for agriculture purposes as well as in household insecticides Students who fell ill after having their mid-day meal at a Chapra school, recovering at a hospital in Patna on Saturday. PHOTO: AP In an alarming revelation, forensic examination of the midday meal in the affected school in Bihar has found that the poison content in the food was five times more than what is found in insecticides and pesticides. Scientists found the presence of monocrotophos an organophosphorus compound in the samples of cooking oil and food, the police said on Saturday. The report of investigators was, however, silent on why such quantity of monocrotophos was present in the meal. The peak area of the poisonous substance in the oil was more than five times in comparison to the commercial preparations, a press release giving details of the forensic report said. Tests were conducted on samples of cooking oil, a plastic container found at the school, leftover food (rice and vegetable) from the utensils and plates, as well as other material like froth from the mouth of a sick child, water and oil from the local cold press extraction process. The samples were compared with a pesticide called hilcron, procured from the market. Monocrotophos is used as a pesticide for agricultural purpose. It is very toxic to human beings and other animals, the press note said. The poisoned food claimed the lives of 23 children of in Chapra, Saran district of Bihar. Over 50 children were rushed to the primary health care centre in Chapras Mashrakh block, when they took ill after eating the midday meal. In the PHC, four children, who were suffering from congestion were given atropine used as a treatment for phosphorus poisoning. About five to six ampoules of atropine were used at the PHC. At the Chapra government hospital, about 400-500 ampoules of atropine was used. Children were administered atropine every 15 to 30 minutes depending on their condition.

At the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), where children in critical condition were taken on Tuesday night, 12,000 ampoules of atropine had been used up so far, medical heads at the respective hospitals told The Hindu . Monocrotophos is an insecticide used for agriculture purposes as well as in household insecticides. It is banned in the United States because of its toxicity. It was phased out after a large number of organophosphorus poisoning cases in the US. The World Health Organisation has classified it as highly hazardous based on its oral toxicity, Gopal Krishna, environment and health researcher from ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), told The Hindu .Chemical banned in many nationsThe use of organophosphorus insecticides is banned or restricted in 23 countries and its import is illegal in a total of 50 countries. Its use was banned in the U.S. in 2000 and it has not been used since 2003. The usage of such insecticides continues to be used because of the political patronage enjoyed by the manufacturers of these insecticides. Union Ministry of Agriculture should initiate efforts to recall organophosphorus pesticides, which is responsible for about 200,000 deaths annually. Organophosphorus pesticides cause poisoning by inhibiting release of enzymes. Lessons from the tragedy in Bihar should not be forgotten. It creates a compelling logic for initiating efforts to make Bihar insecticides-free, the TWA said in a statement. Mr. Gopal Krishna said the silence of the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee, which comes under the Agriculture Ministry, was shocking. Investigators have made no headway in the probe. In Gandaman village, where the tragedy struck, protests were staged once again on Saturday. Our thrust right now is on collection of evidence. Nothing can be said at the moment, Ravinder Kumar, Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters), told a press conf erence here.

Tests conducted on samples of cooking oil, plastic container in the school Monocrotophos is used as a pesticide for agricultural purpose State may create green corridor Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M. Veerappa Moily on Friday said an additional gas pipeline will be laid a diversion of the Dabhol-Bangalore gas pipeline from Chitradurga to Udupi passing through Shimoga and Mangalore. GAIL Chairperson and Managing Director B.C. Tripathi said this pipeline on 350-km stretch would cost Rs. 1,400 crore. Mr. Moily said there were plans to lay yet another 140-km pipeline from Chitradurga to Bellary, and Mr. Tripathi said this would cost Rs. 700 crore. GAIL would lay this pipeline once the industry comes forward with consumption requirement. The Minister noted that 80 per cent of the Dabhol-Bangalore gas pipeline passes through Karnataka, which now has an opportunity to create a green corridor. Mr. Tripathi said the pipeline touched the highway every 100 km and noted the possibility of having CNG stations there for the benefit of long-distance buses of KSRTC. On supply of gas to domestic users in Bangalore, Mr. Tripathi said a 50-km pipeline has been laid around Bangalore and now connections should be giv en inside Bangalore, and it may take an year, while Mr. Moily, said it may be possible within six months. FARC rebels offer U.S. soldiers release Colombias leftist FARC rebels have said they captured a U.S. soldier last month and are offering his release as a gesture toward peace with Bogota. The rebels said in a statement on their website that Kevin Scott Sutay was seized on June 20 and that they have made the political decision to release him as a gesture in the context of the peace talks with the government. American and Colombian authorities are neither confirming nor denying a claim by Colombias main rebel band that it seized the veteran. AFP