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5

Varying accounts report between 9 and 18 deaths in 15 days and 800 instances of poisoning and 25 losing vision among farmers and farm labourers after spraying Profex Super pesticide on their Bt Cotton crops in Yavatmal. While most mainstream media is content to attribute the poisoning to farmers not taking adequate safety measures while spraying the crops, this blithe explanation doesn't quite cover what went down. The government needs to investigate the crisis immediately.

Local farmer leaders agree that there is inadequate regulation of manufacturers of pesticides and are angry that the farmer is being blamed for his own death as though they don't know how to spray pesticides on their own crops. An incident of this sort is unheard of for them as well.

'Profex Super' insecticide - contents, toxicity

Profex Super insecticide by Nagarjuna Agrichem (not linking because Google indicates the site may be hacked) contains Profenofos (an organophosphate) 40% + Cypermethrin (synthetic pyrethroid) 4% EC and its toxicity profile is between moderate to severe. Both are neurotoxins and have been implicated in harm to environment and other insects and animals. Both are dangerous to humans in high enough doses. However, a pesticide formulated for use on crops is formulated with the knowledge that there will be some inevitable human exposure and deaths from exposure like spraying do not seem to be a normal effect of a pesticide.

Failure of Bt Cotton?

Bt Cotton, promoted because of the inclusion of theBacillus thuringiensis gene in a genetically modified version of cotton, was intended to be lethal to various insects that feed on the foliage while being harmless to other life forms. It is known for a long time that pests have developed a resistance to the Bt strains used and thus, a crop intended to lower the use of insecticides instead is making headlines for farmers dying of insecticide exposure from spraying them.

If a company can collect money from patents for genetically modified seeds, it should also be responsible for the damage caused by its products not acting as advertised. But no one is speaking on behalf of farmers. The massive testimony they gave the All Party Parliamentary committee resulted in little more than the banning of one company. In the meanwhile, farmers are naively investing in useless seeds and still fighting overwhelming infestations on their crops.

Dubious logic to blame farmers

While the city based authors of articles on agriculture may see the possibility of farmers having inadvertently killed themselves through inadequate protection, it is worth mentioning that this is hardly agriculture's first prom when it comes to pesticides. Farmers have been spraying pesticides on crops for decades now. In fact, they have also been using pesticides to commit suicides when things get hopeless. It is rather naive to think farmers don't understand pesticide exposure or can just accidentally poison themselves to death. Even without adequate protections, the symptoms of exposure would include skin irritation, numbness, nausea and various other low key symptoms way before absorption through skin reached lethal levels. This is not a newly invented pesticide.

In fact, among the recorded deaths from Cypermethrin includes an accidental exposure that resulted in the death of one man when a 10% solution of Cypermethrin was accidentally used instead of cooking oil and consumed. One man died. Another recovered after being treated in hospital. Similar studies exist for other pesticides. Any pesticide with the potential to cause inadvertent death from absorption through the skin would not easily be released for spraying on crops!!!

Why only Yavatmal?

It is hardly like only farmers in Yavatmal use pesticides. So why has this crisis happened only in Yavatmal? The pesticide used by the farmers needs to be investigated. Was there a bad batch that got distributed to Yavatmal?

Was the pesticide formulated as per the claims on the labels?

Organophosphates are among the most lethal toxins invented by man. While they are widely used in pesticides, depending on formulation, they can also be lethal to humans in small quantities - think nerve gas, Sarin. If a pesticide is not being manufactured with adequate quality control, it can cause serious issues for lives, health, environment. Spraying of pesticide on outdoor crops, while still toxic, should not result in mass deaths and hospitalizations unless there is something wrong with the pesticide. This pesticide most certainly does not sound like it contains what it says on its labels. Either the contents are more lethal than disclosed or the quantities are.

The government needs to move IMMEDIATELY

The government needs to do the following:

  • Issue an urgent - red alert level - advisory publicized widely on all platforms to not sell or use any Profex Super pesticide till the matter is investigated.
  • Collect the used containers of the pesticide (and sprayers and such) from farmers who were affected and have them analyzed
  • Conduct post mortems on dead farmers to establish the cause of death and chemicals involved.
  • Depending on the analysis, remove the warning about the Profex Super pesticide or call for a complete withdrawal and action against the manufacturer.
  • Analyze samples from sprayed crops for toxicity and destroy if found toxic (cottonseed oil is used for commercial snack foods frying!)
  • Develop strong safeguards on use of dangerous chemicals in agriculture, educate farmers on safe use of chemical inputs, provide free and mandatory face masks and gloves along with containers of pesticide (we do it for freaking hair color!)

1

In 1865, a child was born in Madras, India. Her parents named her Lucy Deane. As destiny would have it, in 1893, Kensington Vestry (UK) wanted to hire women Inspectors where, at that time all inspectors were men. Lucy Deane was hired and was a factory inspector. In 1898, she cautioned the authorities that asbestos was causing lung disease. The report collected dust. It took a century and in 1998, EU and France banned all forms of asbestos. (1)

As we stand today, Government of India has approved the use of GM Mustard for use in India. Like all throughout the world, there is a pro-GM and anti-GM groups in India. There have been spate of articles and influential voices who are supporting GM Mustard and its widespread use, without knowing the ramifications. Those who are against it are being labelled Luddites, risk averse, unscientific, elites and hypocrites. With government approving this, we know where the government stands.

Comparing the incomparable:

In a recent article in Indian Express(2), an author compares Viagra, Insulin and cell-phone towers and makes a point whether the elites sought zero risk proof for these products. First it pitches the GM crop as pro-poor and pro-farmer and insinuates all others as elites who swallow Viagra and go out to protest. Let me not rebut on this clever ploy of making this about one man versus the other.

The larger stupidity of this is the comparison of risks of Viagra against the risks arising out of a GM Crop. Though it is appealing to the common sense and immediately identifiable, its conceptually flawed from the first word. Viagra is a thin tailed risk and GM is a fat tailed risk. Thin tailed risks are common sense probabilistic and form the majority of Risk Management. The world as we see, revolves around with the use of such risk.

Insurance, the business which completely relies on risk had a seminal paper by Filip Lundberg in 1903 which formed the basis of what risk managers and many insurance actuaries know as Ruin Theory. Ruin is “the physical destruction or disintegration” which has no chance of recovery. There cannot be an un-ruin. Rebuilding is not bringing back the same structure which was there. By ruin, in this context, we mean the ruin of the complete system. This is not fear mongering and is grounded on sound logic and evidence.

The system here is the nature. This system is so complex that we cannot predict the weather pattern for the next month. The complexity of the system also makes the impact of GM crops unquantifiable. In 2005, UNESCO with its advisory body World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), released a paper called as “The Precautionary Principle.”(8) It states:

“The emergence of increasingly unpredictable, uncertain, and unquantifiable but possibly catastrophic risks such as those associated with Genetically Modified Organisms, climate change etc., has confronted societies with the need to develop a third, anticipatory model to protect humans and the environment against uncertain risks of human action: The Precautionary Principle (PP).”

What it states is essentially this: lets protect before something bad occurs and not get into the damage control where we may not have any chance. This paper also puts forth when we need to apply this principle. Just by quoting this, we cannot stop the human progress.

Conditions to satisfy are:

  1. Complexity of the system
  2. Unquantifiable scientific uncertainty

If we look at GM Crops, it is a tailor case to apply this principle.

One, interaction of GM Crops with nature cannot be ascertained because nature is highly complex system and it is non-localised. Two, the impact is unquantifiable. Applying the risk of ruin, which essentially states that the impact cost will be infinity, and any non-zero probability will make the overall risk as infinity.

This is not same as one crore road accidents nor losing Titanic nor losing MH370. These are localised risks. Or the aforementioned opinion item provocatively mentions – Viagra.

Anyone who states that GM is completely safe is fooling us and fooling themselves. A recent study has revealed unintended mutations were induced in mice by a genome editing technique. And we are not sure how that will affect GM Crops.(3)

Thus we can safely conclude, that this is a system which must be seen from the Precautionary Principle and Ruin Theory view.

For detailed study of these risks, please read the books The Black Swan and Antifragile by Nicholas Taleb.  Also, he, along with many has authored a paper on GMO based on Precautionary Principle.(7)

Anti GM is essentially anti-corporates:

This is another lie that is being spread against the principled, theory and research oriented stand against GM Crops. What this essentially states are that since the anti-GM group, doesn’t like profits, are somehow socialists or communists and hence hate corporate profits. The same author(2)chides us for being perfectly fine with the duopoly of only Boeing and Airbus for travel and iOS and Android for mobile. Be that as it may, let me not address the trap again but the logic why this is wrong.

Nature provides biodiversity. What we essentially see in GM crops are close to monoculture. The single minded approach to GM crops as espoused by the pro-GM side is productivity. More, for less. More, for less land. More, for less water. More, for less pesticide. More for less, insecticide. More, for less fertilizer. Even our love of our own mother has some negatives but nowhere will you find any negatives that the pro-GM lobby presents with us. This is logical.

Let me present you another evidentiary proof. Between, 1845 and 1852, more than 10 lakh people died of famine in Ireland, also known as Great Famine of Ireland or Potato Famine. The root cause of this is a blight had wiped out the entire crop in Ireland.  What is also said and repeated many times, which we tend to forget is that the entire population was dependent on just one or two varieties of potato.

Now, you can see that why one loss of MH370 is not as same as a crop failure.

Now, you can see why the risk is unquantifiable and the losses in this case is near infinity or what we call as ruin.

With our single minded aim to improve productivity, we are laying the foundation for the unknown. Again, this is not fear mongering to be ignored, this is rooted in risk theories and in history.

Recent studies have also shown that GM crops may not be as insect resistance as we might have thought.(4)(5) This states that there is an evolutionary resistance to the GM crop. Again, we do not understand the nature as much as we think we do. And as stated above, nature is complex.

Mankind has always tampered with crops:

This is another half-truth that is being peddled by the lobby. For example, we are shown a black rose which is not available in nature but has been modified by the influence of mankind.

In 1865, Gregor Mendel, gave a speech on his experiments on peapods. The translated title of that speech stands “Experiments in Plant Hybridisation.”(6) This is essentially wrong comparison, again. Methodologies, processes and techniques were human but the ‘law of selection’ was left to nature. But, in present GM crops, we tend to select on behalf of nature. And herein lies the greatest issue we have.

Mankind have played with crops and animals. All the dogs that we see are examples. The interracial kids that we see are examples. We, you and I are examples of this selection. But nowhere but in GM crops have we altered at this micro level, the DNA.

The march of technology is inevitable. The advancement of science is unstoppable. But what can be and must be done is to make these crops into more and more trials till we are near certain that there won’t be any systemic impact of ruin.

The Precautionary Principle also states that the burden of proof does lies with the entity which brings into the system the GM crops.

To borrow Sun Tzu, “it’s a matter of life and death. A road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry, which can on no account be neglected.”

  1. http://www.wilpf.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Streatfeild-Lucy-Deane.pdf
  2. http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/gm-mustard-us-them-the-farmers-4683373/
  3. http://www.gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/17657-crispr-induced-mutations-what-do-they-mean-for-food-safety
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carey-gillam/new-research-shows-failin_b_14003604.html
  5. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169115
  6. https://archive.org/details/mendelsprinciple00bate – Page 317.
  7. http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/pp2
  8. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001395/139578e.pdf

This post was originally published here.

FIR against Directors Anubhav, Gukul & Saranga Aggarwal of RNA builders for duping buyers EOW not arresting the Accused.

The buyers claim that RNA Corp has been delaying handing over possession of apartments at Kalina complex for seven years

The Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai police have filed an FIR against a leading property developer for allegedly duping over 150 buyers.The complainants have alleged that the directors of RNA Corp and its associates have interminably delayed handing over possession of apartments booked by them at the developer's project in Kalina in 2010.The buyers claim that they have already paid around 70% of the money for apartments at RNA Address that were priced between Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 3 crore.

The builder, they said, had initially promised them possession in 2014, but has been delaying the handover claiming to have failed to acquire necessary permissions from the BMC. According to the buyers, in March 2013, after completing the third slab, the builder informed them that work would remain suspended until additional approvals were obtained within a few months.Further enquiries over the next couple of years, right until last year, were deflected by the builder, who kept blaming the civic body for taking time to grant approvals. Earlier this year, some of the exasperated buyers made enquiries with bodies such as MHADA and MCGM about the status of the project, and said they were surprised to find that RNA had not made certain payments with respect to the pending approvals.

Pradeep Banerjee, a director at an MNC, who has brought three apartments in the complex, told Mirror that the buyers were tired of RNA's excuses. “Every time we approach the builder he comes up with some excuse or the other. All promises made by the builder have been proven to be fake.“ Ashish Verma, another buyer, claimed that the police were delaying taking action against the builder. “Earlier the FIR was registered with Kherwadi police, and now EOW has filed the FIR on the same complaint. It's been four days since the FIR has been registered and no action has been taken. Instead of arresting the accused, the cops are asking for original documents from us.All these are delaying tactics. The delay in the handover of the flats, said advocate Ameet Mehta, who is representing the buyers, was severely inconveniencing several of them. “It's been seven years, and many buyers are senior citizens.“

An EOW official, involved in the investigations, said, “The scam could involve over Rs 100 crore. Statements are being recorded and suitable action will be taken soon.“

Anubhav Agarwal, a director at RNA, said “These are people with malicious intentions. We had moved court also because of such intentions. The delay in the project was due to us not getting permissions on time. The court is yet to pass an order on the same. The case is subjudice. Meanwhile, we can't understand how the cops can file a case against us. We will challenge the same in court.“

Mumbai, 30 June 2016: Hundreds of savvy and well-educated flat buyers have purchased "luxurious" flats in RNA Exotica without noticing what their sale-purchase agreements clearly says: that RNA Exotica is actually a large and shabby slum rehabilitation scheme with a tiny island of rich flat-buyers. The rich people's housing project is married and tied to the rehab component in the same undivided compound -- a marriage made in hell! Not just RNA Exotica's sale-purchase agreement, but also project layouts and plans presented to MOEF, give a birds-eye-view of this nightmarish neighbourhood. With clever advertizing, a tight-lipped sales staff, and several clauses in the sale-purchase agreements that forbid investors from asking the right questions, RNA Corp has been consistently misleading its investors for many years. A prospective home-buyer never gets to read the true facts before he is inside the builder's trap!

So let us take a close look at all the ugly truths that the sale-purchase agreement reveals. As a specimen, take the sale-purchase agreement of actor Arif Zakaria (Flat no. 1903, D-Wing).

Inline image 1

NINE WAYS THE BUILDER SCREWED YOU:

  1. RNA Exotica is a Apartment and Slum Rehab Project in a single compound, so you can't object to general public and outsiders in your compound. The agreement makes sure that flat-buyers will have no right in future to object to the rehab building and car park constructed adjoining RNA Exotica, in the same compound. This clause tells flat-buyers in no uncertain terms that the public parking being constructed on the rehab building is not available for their cars. Read this on page 13 and this on page 21 of the registered agreement. So, the proud flat purchasers should know from this clause that their building compound is only semi-private, unlike most of the apartment compounds that are completely private.

  2. RNA Corp can construct anything on top of your flats, so keep quiet and mind your business. The agreement gives the builder the unlimited right to build anything on top of the "top floor" flat, and the flat-purchaser must keep mum about it. In other words, the builder can continue to commercially exploit any increase in FSI or any changes in rules, even if it causes great delay, inconvenience and losses to the flat-buyers, and the only thing that they can do is smile and feel privileged about owning a luxury flat in RNA Exotica.

  3. RNA Corp can construct servants' toilets, septic tanks, electric sub-stations, closed garages, etc. etc. anywhere in the compound or in the building, so shut your nose, mouth and ears.The ground plans or floor plans shown in the agreement can and will be extensively changed to suit the builder's requirements, and this is plainly stated in the agreement itself. All kind of noisy, smelly or intrusive structures can and will be constructed in various parts of the building and compound where you live, including the same floor where you live, but you cannot object on any grounds because you have signed on an agreement that ties your hands. Your rights as a flat-buyer are restricted to the premises that you have purchased, and not, as is the case in other building projects, the common amenities.

  4. RNA Corp can and will create third-party rights and entitlements to various parts of your building and compound, including clubhouse and various parts that you may mistakenly consider as your common amenities. Read this point carefully again, and you will see that this clause is not just a routinely-drafted formality, but is cleverly drafted to take away all your legal rights.

  5. RNA Corp can decrease the common areas and facilities in your building, and you waived your right to raise any objections.People book luxury apartments not just because of spacious flats, but because of spacious and well-designed common amenities and facilities. These amenities and common spaces are factored into the price of the flat as "super-built-up area". But, after paying lakhs of rupees up front to book a flat in RNA Exotica, buyers are informed by their registered agreement on page 37 that the common areas cannot be taken for granted, and they have no right to object!

  6. You unknowingly gave a power-of-attorney to RNA Corp to sign legal waivers on your behalf before all government authorities, without even informing you. According to this clause, the developer need not consult you or even inform before making big or small changes in the plans, because he can always sign an indemnity or undertaking on your behalf to tell the government that you are OK with anything that he does!

  7. You have surrendered your right to independently verify title and ownership of the plot of land on which RNA Exotica is built... because agreement says you have already verified it and satisfied yourself! Mr flat-buyer, when you signed on every page of the agreement in the Stamp Duty Registrar's office, you definitely were not looking for tricky clauses like this one. But here is a clause on page 17 and another on page 25 that says that you have already verified the title and satisfied yourself, and now you have agreed not to investigate any further, or raise any objections.

  8. Possession date is deliberately left blank. Therefore, you have no way of holding RNA Corp accountable for delay of several years, although there is technically a clause for delays. Read this clause on page 37 and its continuation on page 39.

  9. RNA Corp can allot you car parking according to their own sweep pleasure, and you cannot object. The builder may allot you a really shitty parking in the basement, podium or stilt, and the builder may sell favourably-positioned parkings to others. You have no right to object. Read this clause on page 41.

So, Mr and Mrs Flat Purchaser, it is only in theory that you bought a luxury apartment in RNA Exotica. Your luxury apartment exists only in pretty advertisements. The fact is, you just bought a 2BHK or 3BHK in a shitty slum rehab neighbourhood overlooking the railway tracks, and you signed up on a document that says that you have no right to keep the people of your neighbourhood and sundry public from accessing your compound... and you have no right to object to this entire scheme of things. The only thing you can say now is, "It was nice being screwed by you, Mr Anil Aggarwal."

Inline image 2

Sincere thanks to Sulaiman "Superman" Bhimani (9323642081) for his continuous detective work, which enabled and motivated me to write this article.

ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY

Krishnaraj Rao

9821588114

krish.kkphoto@gmail.com

3

Mumbai, 5th March, 2016: Last week, one of RNA builders' thousands of cheated flat-purchasers sent the builder a legal ultimatum, and started taking steps for going to court after discovering that their promised 17th floor flat in RNA Regal, a project in Kandivali West, is the proverbial pie-in-the-sky! In February 2011, Sandeep Kothari and Apeksha Khabiya, a non-resident couple based in Doha-Qatar, booked a spacious 17th floor flat in RNA Regal, based on the builder's promise that they would get possession within three years. The couple planned to return to India to live in this spacious 1365 sq. ft. dream house. After paying nearly Rs 30 lakhs up front as initial booking amount, the couple was kept in the dark by RNA Corp which fed them a steady diet of outright lies during the three-year waiting period. Every time the couple phoned RNA Corp, they were informed that the project was making satisfactory progress. In the end, the couple's rude awakening consisted of not one, but three shocking jolts!

Shock # 1: When the promised possession date arrived in March 2014, Sandeep and Apeksha were shocked to learn that no further progress had been made in three years, and that the project was practically at a standstill at “25% progress”, the same as the time when they had booked the flat in Feb 2011. Today, two years after making this shocking discovery, they are still no closer to getting their dream house.

Shock # 2: Almost five years after booking the flat and two yearsafter the promised possession date (March-April 2014), the couple was shocked to discover documents through Right To Information that showed that RNA Regal didn't even have BMC permission for going up to 17 floors and above!

Shock # 3: The couple recently sent their authorised representative to visit the site and make a first-hand observation about whether the construction work is in progress. They were traumatised to learn that no construction activities were going on, and the plot where RNA Regal was expected to come up, was partly blocked by slum dwellers. The authorized representative estimated that the encroachment by slumdwellers appeared to be two to four years old.

These are many causes for worry, not only for Mr and Mrs Kothari, but also for all the flat buyers in RNA Regal! RNA Corp's owners, namely the late Anil Aggarwal, as well as his sons Anubhav and Gokul Aggarwal, have evidently been keeping a large number of buyers in the dark.

Read the legal notice issued by GC Mehta and Associates on behalf of Mr and Mrs Sandeep Kothari: http://tinyurl.com/RNA-Regal-Kandivali

RNA Regal

How the NRI couple was cheated by RNA Corp:

  • The NRI couple booked a 1365 Sq. Ft. Flat on the 17th floor of RNA Regal, by paying Rs. 29.98 lakhs between February and June 2011 against the builder's demand for Rs. 29.28 lakhs, being 25% of the flat's total cost, along with expression of interest. Against this, the builder issued a letter of allotment.

  • The NRI couple made this booking based on the builder's representations that they would get possession of the flatwithin three years e. in the first quarter of 2014.
  • Afterwards, the NRI couple regularly followed up the progress of construction of RNA Regal and were assured by the builder's office that the project was satisfactory progressing.
  • When the date of possession arrived in March-April 2014, RNA Corp informed the NRI couple that still, only 25% of the construction was complete, and the project was stuck due to some “additional statutory requirements”.The couple was assured that efforts were being made and the necessary clearances would be obtained soon.
  • Upset at being kept in the dark until their promised possession date, the NRI couple now started enquiring about the project status by email on a regular basis.
  • In an email dated 4th April 2014, the builder assured that that construction work would resume by June 2014.
  • In an email dated 14th June 2014, the builder claimed that the approvals are expected within 10-15 days.
  • In an email dated 2ndJanuary 2015, the builder said that the necessary approvals would take another 2-3 months.
  • Later on, the NRI couple's emails dated 31/07/2015, 04/08/2015, 06/08/2015, 07/08/2015 20/08/2015 and 23/08/2015 and letters dated 08/12/2015 and 05/02/2016 were acknowledged by the builder's office only with great reluctance, but they all went unanswered.
  • Whenever the NRI couple or their authorized representatives visited India, they made it a point to visit the builder's office to inquire about the progress on this project and understand the earliest date of their getting possession, so that they could permanently return to India and live in this house. But during their every visit, the NRI couple were told about some or the other kind progress as well as difficulties that the RNA Corp had been facing. RNA Corp continually made promises, but there was no performance to back up these promises.
  • In spite of repeated requests, RNA Corp did not fulfill their obligation for executing a registered Agreement for Sale.
  • The NRI couple got a huge shock when they learned through RTI thatRNA Corp had not even obtained approval for constructing a building with 17 or more floors!
  • The Kotharis requested their authorised representative to visit the site and make first hand observation about the actual progress and whether the construction work is in progress. They were traumatised to learn thatno construction activities were going on and the plot where RNA Regal was projected to be constructed was partly blocked by slum dwellers. This encroachment appeared to be 2 to 4 years old!

Driven by all these unpleasant discoveries, Sandeep Kothari and his wife Apeksha have now reached the inescapable conclusion that RNA Corp has cheated them by retaining their money for more than five years, and has kept on making false statements as well as promises, which entitles them to invoke all legal remedies against the builders, especially under Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

For more details on this case, contact Advocate GC Mehta (Mob 9820141178 Email advocategcm@gmail.com)

Postscript: Of late, RNA Corp has been in the news for failure to fulfill legal obligations to various stakeholders, including flat-buyers, project-affected-persons, lending banks, and multiple government agencies such as MCGM and MMRDA. After years or even decades of slippery behaviour by the late Anil Aggarwal and his sons Anubhav and Gokul, the patience of many stakeholders appears to have run out completely.

ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY

Krishnaraj Rao

9821588114

krish.kkphoto@gmail.com