Ref: Your twenty minute televised address to the Nation on 4th June, 08
Most Respected Sir,
I convey sincere gratitude on your addressing the Nation to take the people of our country in to confidence by directly talking to them in an effort to convince them of the economical compulsions to increase the fuel prices. I am sure, if the political compulsion to go to polls in less than few months would not been there, the hike could have been much more.
I make it categorically clear that while I raise those issues, without having any doubt on your honesty, sincerity and love for the people of India. By your personality, character and conviction, I am fully assured that cherished principles under our sovereign constitution shall be enforced and attained, particularly concerning the welfare of the people of the country amongst whom 70% survive on mere Rs. 20 per day and nearly almost 50% are in Below Poverty Line category.
In the light of the current global and national scenario, your statement is highly solicited in respect of few issues that are raised here below in the larger interest of the people of the country.
1: WE ARE FORCED TO PAY GLOBAL MARKET RATES.
We are the largest importer of the petroleum products in the world. Despite we have limited domestic production, we increase the consumption with the passage of each day. The increasing global demand and the strategy adopted by "OPEC" is showing new higher crude prices which has touched $ 135 a barrel. Worst is yet to come, as there are fears that it may climb to $200 by the year end.
Eleven or more Oil Producing and Exporting Countries have formed a cartel known as "OPEC". The cartel has been a super success to squeeze money by pressing the noses of the oil importing nations. This has resulted in their economy riding on high waves of prosperity. This is the best example from which we can learn how best to use our natural resources and bring smiles on the faces of our over 1.1 billion people. Unfortunately, we do not do so. My country men deserves to know what is happening to our natural resources and why?
2: ALLOWING VIRTUAL LOOT OF OUR NATURAL RESOURCES
You will agree with me that we also have enough natural resources that can create sufficient wealth to tackle the rising oil prices to bring smiles on the faces of the people of India. I have drawn your attention in the matter in the past also giving example of OPEC before about eight months. Even the Chief Ministers of Orissa, Chhattisgarh & Jharkhand were able to meet you after great difficulty demanding a people friendly market rates linked share of Royalties on the minerals exploited from those states. Unfortunately, hard facts remains that only few handful mining and industrial houses are allowed to virtually loot the natural wealth of our country, poor persons are loaded with heavy burden of price rises on their head. I take Iron Ore for example to illustrate.
I would like to go back to 1993, when you as the then Union Finance Minister, had announced new liberalized Mineral policy. This opened the flood gates for eagle eyed private sector national and international players queuing up to grab mining leases, in the name of making investments and hundreds of MoUs have been inked, many have gone in to production. Despite the fact that we are best placed to market our natural resources, we have not done so. The prices of Iron ore went up by 71.5 % in 2005, 19 % in 2006 and 9.5% in 2007 and everything that is seen indicates they would rise between 30% & 35% in 2008. (Link: http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKN0560220920071205). To-day, when the International price of each ton of iron ore is about $ 210 /- , our country men should have also been addressed that we are allowing to loot it at laughably low rates, which is only about Rs. 17/- per ton [ Average receipt per ton in Orissa and Chhattisgarh during last three years]. I repeat the figure is Rs. 17/- (Rupees Seventeen only) and is not a typing error. Similar is the situation in bauxite or other costly minerals.
It is also evident from above facts that we have failed to learn lessons even in a hard way. OPEC has shown us the way. When 11 or more countries can join hands to form a cartel, who prevents us to demand at least 40% of the market linked rates of Royalty of our natural resources? This leads me to raise another question. Who runs the government?
3: WHO RUNS THE GOVERNMENT?
From the above facts, it is but natural to believe that the powerful industrial houses and mining contractors are behind the curtain drivers of the government, be it of any party. While large scale displacement brings tears in to the eyes of millions of displaced persons, be it for SEZ, Industrial projects or mining activities, handful few who are able to lay hands on those lands and mining rights, are busy buying the costliest mansion in London or construct a Rs. 600 Million house in Mumbai. While huge investments are justified in the name of development and creating employment, figures have proved that it has remained illusive. Rights of poor are crushed even at the cost of firing live bullets and brave police showing faces to crack on democratic protests of people demanding justice. Kalinga Nagar in Orissa, Nandigram & Singur in West Bengal, Dadri in U.P and Gurgaon in Haryana are the best examples. While we see on electronic media, a poor person, severely beaten on the streets of Patna for stealing food for his ailing hungry mother, corrupt people are busy depositing huge unaccounted money in to the secret Swiss bank accounts and drunken sons of neo rich crushing innocent poor during their sleep in the midnight, under the wheels of their costliest cars. Recently held Karnataka Polls have also demonstrated the huge money power of the Iron Ore Mining Mafias. Even the new National Mining policy is heavily tilted towards protecting the interest of mining corporations in the name of inviting investments. This leads me to believe that the real drivers of the government are those handfuls few, who in the guise of being the largest investors are acting heavier on the policy makers. One such face, who is the largest investor, is seen occupying the constituted chair of the chairman of the investment commission of India.
4: WHERE IS THE POOR FARMER IN THE PRESENT SCENERIO?
Loading burden on the poor citizen is the crudest way of governance but easily practiced in our country. While there is continuous sustained economic growth rate of our economy, agriculture sector is witnessing continuous negative growth rate. Farmers are made to make sacrifices. The one time debt relief of Rs. 60,000 Crore + can be discussed separately with huge sops and monetary concessions given to the industrial sector each year. I am sure; this is another Pandora's Box.
In your address you have rightly stated that "We will continue to give a fair price to our farmers for their produce." But what about those millions of farmers, who are not able to produce wheat in winter due to non availability of irrigation facilities despite six decades of our independence! Now water from the Dams constructed in the name of farmers for example Hirakud Dam at Orissa, is diverted to industries. Similar situation is at Raigarh in Chhattishgarh. At Kuarmunda in Orissa, an old British time canal that was used by the farmers was in bad shape, despite the assurance of the Chief Minister of Orissa, from the platform of a public meeting held in the village, the canal has given way to big dia pipes laid by a sponge iron plant despite the objections of the farmers.
5: "How can we afford to go on like this for ever?" While I appreciate that what has been done is the bare minimum. I also appreciate your statement during the televised address I quote, "Business cannot go on like this for ever. We need to learn to adjust to this new international scenario. We need to be efficient and economical in our use of energy". While specifically reacting to your above statements, in the light of the virtual loot of our natural resources and I ask the same question that you asked to the people of the country which I quote "How can we afford to go on like this for ever?" People of the country need an answer from you, how can we afford to allow such loot of our natural wealth for ever?
I have tried to impress upon you by bringing a complete picture in the light of the present petroleum price hikes. I humbly request you to please do the best needful to get free from the shackles of the behind the scene drivers and revise the rates of royalty of our natural wealth linking it to at least 40% of the market rates, that will take care of most of our economical problems. The surplus can be used for many developmental programs and granting further relief to the common man. Thanking you and with warm regards
Note: To post your contents (press release, messages, articles, write-up, issues for public discussions and documentary video) at Jharkhand Forum websites, simply send it to Jharkhand@yahoogroups.com. No sign-up required.