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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Make public the list of defaulters -- and the agitation at Kudankulam..

Corruption, hoarding of money, black money and stashing money in foreign banks have been haunting the Nation and have been the themes of many blockbuster films where the incidence of black money is very high !

Till a few decades ago, men lived for their pride – keeping up promises and paying back debts were virtues and somebody not able to do so would even give up their lives.  Those who were unable to pay back their debts for some reasons announced their position by filing ‘insolvency petition’ [called yellow leaf-let] and those who had done so, had no honour in the society and would often commit suicide.  One way of humiliating a person was to disclose his debts and write on a public place about the defaulters !  In recent times, we often see that Companies [chit funds and others] collect public money, don’t repay and cheat the public – the owners / directors when arrested, merrily wave their hands to the media, as if they had just achieved some notable thing.

There is news that the  Central Information Commission has directed the Reserve Bank of India to make public the names and other details of top 100 industrialists of the country who have defaulted on loans from public sector banks.  The commission also directed the bankers' bank to post on its website complete information on all such industrialists as part of suo-motu disclosure mandated under section four of the RTI Act before December 31 and asked it to update it every year.  The RBI had objected to making this information public saying it is held by it in fiduciary capacity and disclosing it would adversely affect economic interest of the State.  The reports suggest that  Information Commissioner  agreed that information is fiduciary in nature but said that such exemption does not stand when there is larger public interest in the disclosure.

It is felt that information about industrialists who are loan defaulters of the country may put pressure on such persons to pay their dues. This would have the impact of alerting citizens about those who are defaulting in payments and could also have some impact in shaming them.  This (disclosure) could lead to safeguarding the economic and moral interests of the nation.

The agitation at Kudankulam has thrown spanner on the plans and today quoting a senior Russian expert  fears have been expressed that the sudden halt in work on the troubled Kudankulam nuclear power project would mean extensive delay.  E N Dudkin, who heads a 90-member team helping Indian scientists at the site,  is quoted as saying that  one day lost now means a three-day delay in commissioning of the plant.  There have been agitations and suddenly one political party which has not been doing well in the elections, went to the extent of saying that they want even the Kalpakkam power plant to be closed.  Kudankulam is not merely about 13000 crore investment – it is more about electricity and growth of the Nation.   There is a view that  Koodankulam agitation  is no isolated event but part of a larger sinister plan.  It is being likened and linked to the decades old stir at West Khasi Hills in Meghalaya against uranium mining.   There can be no denial that Indiia needs nuclear power and nuclear weapons especially when there are reports that China has more than 100s targetted at India.  India badly needs electricity…  Nuclear energy does risk accidents — but experts state that it is far less risky compared thermal power.  There have been far more air accidents and rail accidents that do not stop people from travelling.   

More importantly, a handful of people cannot halt the plans of the Nation.  The protesters are entitled to their views but they cannot throw stones at maintenance officials and force the plant to its closure.   Elsewhere another group has created a road blockade which has resulted in acute shortage of resources in Manipur and has led to spiralling prices….. when will all this stop ?

S. Sampathkumar.

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