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Mumbai, 8th February, 2016, Mumbai: So what is going on with RNA Builders? Back in December 2013, those who had purchased flats in RNA Grande, Kandivali West, must have been quite impressed by this notice issued by RNA Universal, signed by Anil Aggarwal himself, proclaiming that flat buyers would be given possession for interior decoration and furniture work in October 2014, subject to force majeure. The passing away of Anil Aggarwal in May 2014 from the complications of bariatric surgery must indeed have been a “force majeure”, because the project is very far from complete, and hundreds of flat purchasers have become “Project Affected People”. It's an old story; shit happens, and it keeps happening in Mumbai. 

So, is RNA Corp the victim of a financial crisis? Or is it a willful defaulter and habitual truant? This auction notice says that RNA Corporate Park owes State Bank of India Rs 61.50 crore, and to realize this amount, parcels of land in Palghar district owned by RNA Corp Pvt. Ltd. will be auctioned. (If you have super-deep pockets and wish to bid in the auction, 23rd February 2016 is the last date for submitting your request letter of participation). But knowledgeable insiders think that SBI has joined the long list of RNA Corp's victims, because the land being auctioned is barely worth even Rs 40 crore, and so Anil's sons Anubhav and Gokul Aggarwal are saving over Rs 21 crore by being willful defaulters and letting the bank take a hit. Anil Aggarwal was a dab hand at fooling the government and the public, and he will now be laughing from the grave as his sons follow in his footsteps, they allege. It certainly looks like they could be right!

The art of selling an 18th floor flat in a 16-storey building is certainly something that the Aggarwals seem to excel at. Even Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis isn't surprised! In October 2015, RNA Corp spent crores on this front-page cover advert in prominent national dailies, showing their closeness to the Maharashtra Chief Minister and the Mira Bhayendar politicos. Barely three months later, in January 2016, the land-grabbing by RNA in Mira-Bhayendar was discovered, and a Stop Work Notice was issued by the District Collector. But did the Chief Minister blush? Nope, he didn't bat an eyelid! Fadnavis must have been thinking, “The Aggarwals made a fool of me, so what's new? It's all right, business-as-usual, because they have been making fools of Maharashtra government for a long time”.

It is indeed a fact of life that the late Anil Aggarwal has frequently given the babaji-ka-thullu to the administration in Maharashtra, and in return, they have kept giving him fresh lifelines. Many powerful people keep raising their voices against RNA, to no avail. A lesser business group would have fled in shame from the construction industry, but RNA Corp and its group companies just keep marching on. Hats off to them!

Some instances of when people and authorities pinpointed RNA's misdoings:

  1. Dr. Bharati Lavekar, BJP MLA from Versova, wrote this letter to CM Fadnavis last week, requesting him to cancel the agreement of Aram Nagar redevelopment project awarded to RNA by MHADA. She wrote that the tenants of Aram Nagar were kept in dark and the project would only benefit only RNA, and not tenants. The CM noted in red ink on the letter that VP MHADA should stay the redevelopment process and examine the issues.

  2. “The SRA scheme was initiated by the government to give a better quality of life to slumdwellers by moving them into well-constructed buildings. But the developer has taken undue advantage of this scheme for the last 12 years and is causing harassment to the Project Affected Persons (PAPs),” wrote Rajya Sabha MP Ramdas Athawale in this letter to Fadnavis in February 2015. In this letter, Athawale complained that although RNA builders had undertaken the redevelopment of Parishram SRA Cooperative Housing Society in Bandra East in 2002, it had completely stopped the construction work for the last two years, stopped paying rent to the displaced persons, and bounced the cheques issued to them. Although RNA was granted Commencement Certificate (CC) in 2004, it delayed construction by continually changing the plans of the sale-component for its undue advantage. As per a CAG report and as per the SRA Act, appropriate action has to be taken against the developer, Athawale said. After the demise of Anil Agarwal, his company was required to submit fresh Annexure-3 (financial capability report), or the developer should be changed by SRA, Athawale pointed out. “The developer has constructed A1 and A2 buildings in which the height of the individual flats is less than 8 ft 3 inches. The developer was given notice to demolish the same. After that, the same buildings were regularized.” said Athawale, pointing out the collusion of the administration with Anil Aggarwal. “The developer has illegally incorporated into his project the areas occupied by shop owners who are not within the scope of the SRA scheme. Also, he has illegally incorporated open plot of market admeasuring 2300 sq. metres. The developer has included 56 bogus Project Affected Persons (PAPs) supported by bogus documents. For the last 10 years, many people were accommodated in the transit camp, in individual units admeasuring around 100 square feet, forcing the families to live in cramped conditions and raising the probability of accidents. An FIR was registered against the builders for various MRTP violations. The offences were explained in a letter to the then Chief Minister Ashok Chavan by project affected persons

     

  3. Bombay High Court passed an order against GA Builders, an RNA group entity, on 21st September 2015 for not paying rent to tenants and not getting Occupation Certificate (OC). GA Builders Pvt. Ltd. is owned by Gokul Anilkumar Aggarwal, Anubhav Anilkumar Aggarwal and Saranga Anil Aggarwal. The order in “Manjula S. Chauhan V/s. GA Builders Pvt. Ltd. and Others” panned the builder for not getting Occupation Certificate, not paying transit rent and also breach of undertaking given to the court. But this order reveals only the tip of the iceberg; the society in question, namely GA Ganga Sagar CHS of Ghatkopar East, is so full of fraud, forgery and violations committed by GA Builders in collusion with the society's office bearers, that this building can never hope to get MCGM's occupation certificate. There are many criminal and civil suits pending in Metropolitan Court and High court pending in this case.

  4. East & West Builders (RNA Group) with the connivance of MCGM and SRA officials, illegally incorporated the Shastrinagar Municipal Market, Bandra East, and its open plot into an SRA scheme, causing MCGM an estimated loss of over Rs 150 crore. Thirteen shop owners led by Prabhakar M Shetty wrote a letter to CM Devendra Fadnavis in January 2015, explaining their plight. The letter says that in 2012, the developer demolished six shops completely and 21 shops partially, reducing their length by 12 feet and leaving only five feet. The shopkeepers were promised that they would be accommodated in the newly constructed building within six months. But till date, the construction work had not commenced, nor were they given any rent for alternative accommodation. In fact, after giving cheques to the shopkeepers, the builder fraudulently issued stop-payment instructions. All the shopkeepers' efforts to contact the developer on phone and in person have been futile. Although the developer has received IOA and CC as early as 2004, the A4 building that is supposed to be constructed for shop-owners of municipal market has not been started. The site for A4 building is currently an open plot without any obstructions or encumbrances, but the work is at a complete standstill. 

  5. In January 2012, MCGM itself had red-flagged RNA with this show-cause notice. Assistant Commissioner (Estates), MCGM, wrote to RNA's East & West Builders: “Whereas the Pariwar Safalya Cooperative Housing Society formed by the tenants on the subject property have appointed you as the developer for the redevelopment of the property; Whereas your architect has submitted the proposal for redevelopment of above property, the same was approved by Improvement Committee/Corporation under the Resolution no. 174 dated 7th Feb 2005 and No. 113 dated 10th February 2005 respectively, as per the total capitalized value amounting to Rs 29,02,91,270/- in the scheme is required to be paid by you to MCGM; Whereas you were required to complete the project within three years and also to pay remaining 90% capitalized value to MCGM before Occupation Certificate to sale component; Whereas you have failed to complete the project till date as the project completion period is already over on 17th March 2010 and therefore cost delay for payment 90% capitalized value to the MCGM till this date; Whereas it is a failure on your part to complete the project within stipulated period which is causing loss of revenue to the MCGM and hardship to the tenants residing in the old buildings who had consented for this development as per the clause in the tripartite agreement, the project period is fixed as three years from the date of issuance of the commencement certificate by Building Proposal Department. The project period can be extended by the Municipal Corporation for the reason of delay state in your reply letter subject to your consent and payment of capitalized value on revised 20:60:20 basis of approval vide ICR 175 dated 4th February 2009 and CR/1259 dated 9thFebruary 2009 respectively; This office has received orders from Additional Municipal Commissioner to inform you that the Municipal Commissioner will not extend the project period if you are not able to give satisfactory explanation of the delay in completion of the project... You are hereby finally directed to show cause within seven days on receipt of this letter and to pay the 90% capitalized value amounting to Rs 26,12,62,143/- with interest thereon at 18% calculated till 31st December 2011, amounting to Rs 8,43,91,251/-. The total amounting to Rs 34,56,53,394/- within seven days and payment of applicable stamp duty with penalty if any failing which following action will be initiated against you; The Building Proposal Department will be directed to issue stop work notice for the above referred project work and all other projects undertaken by you in MCGM; You and your companies will not be allowed to take up any other MCGM project in future; The law officer will launch prosecution against you for recovery of payment which is due to MCGM. If the building is found occupied in part or full, the building Proposal Department will be asked to issue notice u/s 353 of MMC Act and take further action, which please note”. This letter has a footnote directing Executive Engineer (Building Proposal) City to issue stop work notice to the Pariwar Safalya CHS redevelopment project and “any other project being undertaken by this developer / Notice u/s 353 of MMC Act and not to process any other redevelopment project as per AMC(ES)s order under No. AMC/ES/702/4 dated 26-12-2011.”

  6. RTI Activist Sulaiman Bhimani, who is also a Project Affected Person (PAP), recently made a detailed complaint to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police regarding the corrupt misdoings of Skyline Construction Company of RNA Group at its SRA project at Oshiwara District Centre (ODC), Jogeshwari West. Highlights of this complaint: “MMRDA has spent almost Rs 9 crore for repairing the substandard work in PAP building in lieu of which TDR was released, and MMRDA has not recovered any amount from the developer, the MMRDA officials accepted the substandard work without any verification. The plumber has certified that he has used AC pipes but on site very low quality and substandard PVC pipes have been used and the engineer who accepted this certificate has not put any note on it for the change of material nor raised any objection for substandard work. The Project Management Consultant (PMC) certified that Plumbing and Drainage work is done as per approved plan, but on site the story is different. The Chambers as per approved plan have been shown 1.5mts away from the building line but onsite they are touching the building line as well as the underground water tank. Due to this shoddy work the water gets contaminated and even after spending Rs 9 crores this defect still exists. The Developer was issued IOA and CC on the same day, which is very unusual. Normally IOA is issued to the developer with 38 conditions to comply and it takes almost 45 days to comply all the conditions of IOA and the developer after complying all the conditions applies for CC and the MMRDA officials visit the site to verify all the compliance but in this case the IOA and CC were issued on the same day. There is open space violation which is in violation of fire safety norms, but MMRDA officials have turned Nelson eyes even after repeated complaints. The Recreation which as per Agreement was supposed to be developed by developer not been handed over to MMRDA for Public Use even after 10 years. Pedestrian Plaza as per Agreement and IOA condition and LOI was supposed to be developed by developer, but the same is not constructed. But TDR/FSI of 55000 sft is released for the same to the developer.” The so-called pedestrian plaza is a scam whereby, without laying a single brick or redeveloping a single inch of slum land, RNA earned 55,000 square feet of TDR, worth over Rs 4,000/- per square foot. That alone means a free gift of over Rs 22 crore for the Aggarwal family. He has also pointed out how RNA Exotica in ODC has gobbled up a 25-metre public road and used it for RNA's site office.

  7. In the case of RNA Palazzo in Kandivali West, which is being advertised as “space, Luxury and lifestyle all packed into your customized 2 BHK apartments”, 24 investors and flat purchasers have filed a complaint to EOW of Mumbai Police of outright cheating and fraud. After cumulatively paying more than Rs 50 crore (some have paid 50 percent, and other 100 percent of the value of the flat purchase), these purchasers are left high and dry, because the construction work stopped in September 2011, and has not resumed till date. The completion date was December 2012, and more thanthree years later, the Aggarwals have nothing to offer their buyers other than false assurances.

There are at least a dozen such stories about RNA Corp in Mumbai, still waiting to be told. One keeps getting calls from victims all the time – many of them so demoralized that they are unlikely to ever lift a finger to even write a letter of complaint.

Well done, Anil Aggarwal. Your legacy is in safe hands. Lagey raho!

WANT TO HEAR ABOUT RNA'S SCAMS FROM THE HORSES' MOUTH? 

CONTACTS:

a) For details on GA Ganga Sagar in Ghatkopar East, call Mukesh Chauhan 9324526890

b) For details on RNA Grande in Kandivali West, call Mr Mihir 75060940. 

c) For details on RNA's SRA project at Sewri, call Sujata Vijay Kumar 9869286842

d) For details on RNA's Aram Nagar redevelopment project in Versova, call Shaikh Nasreen 9833639370 

e) For details of RNA Palazzo project, Kandivali West, call Advocate Ameet Mehta 9821283232

f) For details of RNA's redevelopment project in Kalina (where the building was demolished five years ago, and rent for alternative accommodation stopped getting paid), 

g) For details of RNA's multifaceted cheating in the SRA project at Oshiwara District Centre, RNA Exotica and many other RNA projects in Mumbai,call Sulaiman Bhimani 9323642081

ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY

KRISHNARAJ RAO

9821588114

While we all agree that research and science are important and that innovation shouldn't be blocked, here's a little devil-in-the-details sharing about GM (genetically modified) foods technology.

The present GM varieties being marketed, those being in focus, are defective models that a company shouldn't be pushing to market. Kind of like releasing a car model whose braking system the company's management internally knows tends to get defective after the first 10,000kms, so they decided to test the car only for 1000 kms. Results were positive so it went into production and is now being aggressively marketed. The industry regulator believes that there is no further independent testing of the car needed since they already know that it is safe, from the 1000km test. The top boss of the regulatory commission happens to be the car company's former high-level employee. Oh, and IPR (intellectual property rights) laws ban any third party from conducting any kind of tests on the car, they're quite strict about that. If you as an independent consumer try to conduct any test or research on this car model, you're likely to get sued and loose everything you have in lifelong litigation, and your research results likely cannot be accepted as evidence. Hence, the car company isn't doing the tests needed and isn't letting anyone else do them either.

The car is now released for open trials, which isn't actually a test for safety; it's one for studying financial potential and performance metrics. But people are led to falsely believe it's a safety test and the car company likes it that way. This test isn't being conducted in separate off-limits proving grounds or Top Gear style retired airport runways where the car being tested wouldn't interact with normal civilian traffic.. several units of the car are actually being driven actively all throughout the country, including on the streets you cross everyday, highways, expressways, AutoBahns etc, by regular people and with children in the back seat. The law of the land has exempted the company from any liability or any obligation for call-back or money-back should anything unfortunate happen, since the regulatory agency has already declared it to be safe. No one wants to talk about what will start to happen when the users of this car cross the 10,000km mark. Right now there are very few first-buyers who have, and the company is quick to respond to any complaints with the standard "it's the driver's fault, we are not liable" reply.

As per our current wisdom which is brought to us by our academia, government and media, all the people who are protesting against the release of this car model or its open testing are hereby decreed to be against technology and anti-progress, anti-science, and should not be listened to. Otherwise society will end up going backwards and we will all die for lack of cars, as if there isn't any other company on the planet capable of manufacturing the requisite number of cars (scroll down to find out that there actually is).

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Coming back to the GMOs.. two main technologies:

BT : they produce a toxin that supposedly only harms one specific insect (in the patent they're classified as pesticide and not as food), but it turns out that humans and that insect are not from different planets after all and share certain physiology. Hence, that toxin is turning out to be harmful to living organisms other than that particular insect, surprise surprise. Plus, it turns out that insect is already evolving to beat the BT-toxin, and there's other pests coming in too, resulting in farmers having to resume spraying pesticides on their crops. That ruins the single most important USP of BT technology : that pesticides would no longer be required. The technology was basically betting that biological evolution doesn't happen. (and that's Intelligent Design for you). It also turns out horizontal gene transfer does exist as a phenomena.. the technology was betting on the assumption that it didn't. Which means that the BT-toxin-producing tendency is capable of "installing" itself into other plants as well as the human body's gut bacteria : that itself was a very grey area and treated as non-existent until quite recently.

HT  or "Roundup-ready" herbicide tolerant : glyphosate tolerant.. the recent Mexico court ruling was mainly about glyphosate. It's a toxin right up there next to DDT and friends, and its devastating effect on pollinators like bees (without whom you can't have most plant reproduction) as well as on humans is only now being brought out. If you remove the glyphosate herbicide, that GM crop is useless.. the whole technology was betting on the assumption that glyphosate only kills every single other plant in the whole field (making multicropping impossible btw) but is perfectly safe for humans and other non-plants (despite Monsanto in their own fields mandating their employees wear fully enclosed protective suits and not get in contact with any particles in the field).

Some other technologies being explored:

Golden Rice : It is being compared only with rice, and so is claimed to provide more necessary nutrients. The assumption here again is that people only eat rice and nothing else. Foods like drumsticks (Moringa) have more of those nutrients than the Golden Rice can ever hope to achieve, and it's far cheaper to increase their consumption in the target population. (this thing and others like it literally grow on trees) But the assumption is that people prefer eating only and only rice in their meals and will never ever touch anything like drumsticks, so one must try squeezing all the required stuff into the rice only while forgetting that there are other items in people's meals and the rice was supposed to be for the carbs.

DNA structure:

Also, it turns out that plants are not predominantly left-brained like the people who designed the GM seeds. So DNA is quite messy and integrative, whereas the gene theory upon which the entire GM technology is based, says that DNA is linear and reductive. It assumes that there is an exact input-to-output relation between gene and characteristic. So they thought that precisely X gene sequence controls Y characteristic, and its placement or removal will then control only and only that characteristic of the plant and have absolutely no side effect whatsoever on the rest of the living being and its other characteristics. It was assumed that there is no integrative overall structure  or inter-relationship between the various parts of the genetic sequence. Typical assumptions of the techno-savvy left-brain mindset. All very neat and orderly, a place for everything and everything in its place. Turns out that assumption was false, DNA is integrative and inter-relational, and one drastic change in one part tends to have other effects on other characteristics too which they didn't bother to check out, since the assumption was that nothing else will get affected.

So it's not like the flagship products of the GMO sector have "a few chinks to iron out". The very technologies they are based upon have lost their core USPs in light of emerging realities, and have become redundant. You can't make an improved version of a floppy disk : it's pointless, you need to go back to the drawing board and look at the whole thing again from an improved understanding of the science of food.

Some websites where you'll find good info on this topic:
GMO Evidence
GMO Seralini  : this European scientist repeated Monsanto's same feeding trial on rats that had "proved" safety of their GM products, but made one tiny alteration: He ran the experiment for 2 years instead of Monsanto's 3 months. (after which their opposition to independent testing really kicked in!) The result : After 2 years of eating them, those GM foods seem to be the exact opposite of safe, and the rats that managed to survive the feeding trial are just not what you'd call "perfectly healthy". To this day, Monsanto is refusing to accept the research's results, but not daring to repeat it, which would have been the scientific way of proving something wrong, which happened to them (Seralini repeated their study and got disputing results). They even terminated another long-term study of theirs midway and refused to share the results with anyone. So for someone who supports science, it's worth questioning which side of science are GM producers on? If they are pro-science, then why are they and their supporters opposing independent scientific research?

8 ways Monsanto fails at sustainable agriculture

Videos : Genetic Roulette, Seed Freedom, Bought... there's many independent films out there which channels like Discovery don't want to show, even if the film-makers themselves aren't charging any money. (saala tereko free mein itna mast maal mil raha hai... fir bhi wohi purane shows repeat pe repeat karte jaa raha hai tu?). But there's surprisingly no independent films out there (not in my years of looking around) which make any case FOR GM foods. It seems every independent film maker out there working on food sector is against GM only, while every corporate studio wants to religiously avoid sharing these objections. Wonder why?

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Now, for those who don't care about the harms part and want to "be positive" and focus on the gains, here's a 30-year side by side growing study by Rodale Institute (they incorporated GM when it became mainstream). Tested conventional non-gm, GM, organic.
Farming Systems trial: 30 year report

Result? Organic won hands down. Greater yield per unit area, lower costs, lower inputs, lower CO2 emissions, negative damage to soil (ie, soil health improved year on year). Everything that the world's  scientists and our governments have been desiring from a technology to grow food, delivered without the pesky patents or high input costs. And what's more, it's an industry alternative that while lowering the bottom line, actually creates more jobs (with zero work related illnesses) at the same time! Organic technology has much higher job creation opportunities, while simultaneously having much lower costs than GM technology! Now you'd object that this organization might have had some bias (but apparently Monsanto conducting its own tests has no bias). May I point you to the scientific method : The best way to prove a research study wrong is by repeating the experiment as defined and publishing your results.

Note: There are presently heavy government subsidies given to the competitors, and the market dominance combined with lack of market mechanisms for decentralized organic technology are hampering these cost benefits from making their way to the retail end. That changes when more people join in and market share increases, and this sector is witnessing exponential growth right now, with the first adopters being everyone from politicians' families to movie stars to industry leaders to well-educated people. Like in any other technology's life cycle, early adopters pay higher but this funds the technology and enables it to come into its own.

What makes things difficult here for those who love technology and internally bracket everything natural as non-technological and backward, is having to eat humble pie and admit that nature might be technologically more advanced than present human attempts in at least ONE sector (saala ek ko jaane do, kya jaata hai tumhaara?), and might have a solution that is still far better than what our best scientists and mega-corporations have come up with so far. Given the fact that she has had a multi-billion year head start and access to a planet-full of resources to tap into for her research, we shouldn't be so surprised and definitely not so jealous of her. On our end, more research should happen of course, but it should happen safely, without treating you and me and our children like lab rats. Defective products shouldn't be pushed to market for the sake of recouping investments made so far. If you know your closest competitor is so far ahead of you, then you should either invest in researching something like GMOs for the long, long run (I'm talking multiple human lifetimes here), or not invest at all and simply go for the best alternative solution available that delivers better, even if you can't earn royalties off it. But it's wrong to get impatient or greedy and push defective products to market just for the sake of showing a profit this year, and it's wrong to use massive government subsidies, IPR and friends in high places as a crutch to conceal your product's defectiveness.

And that's pretty much what all your "anti-technology" friends are trying to tell you. Nobody's being anti-technology. They're just warning about defective products that can cause irreversible harm. That is all. On the other hand, they are also actively supporting organic technology which seems much more promising, so it would be nice if we didn't have anti-technology and anti-science people and mega corporations unnecessarily harming progress.

Mumbai, 5 December 2014: Shocked by online reports of the plight of birds, snakes and other creatures housed in Culcutta Snake Park located at Kolkata’s Madhyamgram area, Mumbai animal activist Shakuntala Majumdar (09322271966, thanespca@hotmail.com) sent independent investigators and later made a detailed complained to the Animal Welfare Board of India. The Animal Welfare Board, in turn, wrote a complaint to the Central Zoo Authority on 17 November 2014 that pointed out, “The snakes are kept in a small cage and monkeys were kept in metal rusting bars in a smaller cage, tortoises locked in rusting boxes, crocodile swimming among plastic bottles and birds in cages are very small (sic). It was also alleged that the place may well be a holding place for trafficking of wild animals.”

“It was also reported that several dogs are being held in Kennels behind the birds enclosures. The kennels were soaking wet, and many different breeds were in a single kennel with little personal space or shelter,” said the letter addressed by S Vinod Kumar (98848 81355), Secretary of Animal Welfare Board of India, to Bishan Bonal, Member Secretary, Central Zoo Authority, Janpath (9868100169). See the attached letter.

The complainant, Shakuntala Majumdar, is herself an active member of Maharashtra State Animal Welfare Board.

The Kolkata Snake Park is owned by showman and entrepreneur Deepak Mitra (See http://www.dipakmitra.net/cnp_dipakmitra.htm). Mr Dipak Mitra is a member of the West Bengal state wildlife advisory board, and may be contacted on 09831404379 and 033-24632425.

“While we hope that the allegations are exaggerated, we would request that a thorough investigation be made with immediate effect,” wrote Ms Majumdar in her complaint, citing page 44 to 48 of an earlier report by Canadian NGO Zoo Check (http://www.zoocheck.com/reportpdfs/indianreport1.pdf ) and also a blog

https://adiplomatsdaughter.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/i-visited-the-worst-zoo-in-the-world/

“Snakes are kept in tiny boxes with no environmental enrichment and many of them had dry skins flaking off their bodies. At least twenty Water Monitor Lizards were observed, all malnourished and dehydrated, with ribs showing and dehydrated. These animals had insufficient access to water and were in overcrowded conditions. Investigators were told by reliable sources that they were collected from the wild in very large numbers by misusing permits provided to the owner for conducting reptile research,” says Ms Majumdar, who is Chairman of Thane SPCA.

“The investigators noticed many animals in Calcutta Snake Park in tiny, stygian and filthy cages. Monkeys were also observed in very small cages with signboards saying, ‘Rescued on Behalf of the Chief Wildlife Warden of Bengal. Birds have been kept in cages hardly bigger than they are and their feathers were observed twisted and broken. This facility has been reported repeatedly for inadequate conditions for animals and also for its involvement in alleged illegal wildlife trade for many decades now but surprisingly, the West Bengal Forest Department has continued to send wild animals to this place, despite the fact that many animals have been reported to die here. The Indian Zoo Inquiry suggested that this place be closed down for numerous serious deficiencies and the animals be relocated elsewhere to more appropriate accommodation elsewhere.

“Calcutta Snake Park is abusing wildlife along with West Bengal Snake Park. Animal Welfare Board of India has already requested the Central Zoo Authority to act to take action against the owner, Dipak Mitra. The same also applies for the West Bengal Snake Park. Wildlife and animal welfare activists alike fervently urge enforcement authorities, the West Bengal Forest Department and the Central Zoo Authority to take necessary action to close down these captive animal dungeons and relocate the abused animals to more appropriate facilities.

3

The Narendra Modi government has allowed 21 new varieties of GMO crops for field trials in India. This decision was made based on the recommendations of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC). This is the new GEAC. The old GEAC had the first item listed under "Main functions" on its page as "To permit the use of GMOs and products thereof for commercial applications." This one has "approval of activities involving large-scale use of hazardous living microorganisms and recombinants..." and they are making decisions that will impact our food, here. This is rather like the world's nuclear "watchdog" being created to promote nuclear power.

It is rather strange that a body implies evaluation, but is actually created to proliferate. This GEAC rejected 1 application out of 28 it received. In a world where more and more countries are banning GM crops, India naturally is fertile grounds for yet another reject of the West, where opposition to genetically modified food is increasing. And of course, it helps that if anything can be centralized and made money out of, Indias political cartels will have takers.

In a country where farmers quit farming as a full time profession at a rate that amounts to 2000 less farmers each day over a decade and over a quarter of the country is below an insanely low poverty line, replacing seeds collected from harvests to seed next years crops with expensive genetically modified varieties that need to be purchased each year alone is an economic nightmare, even if GM crops were safe, which I'm going to show below that they are not. It is no coincidence that there are very few suicides among rice and wheat farmers in comparison with cotton farmers whose lives have been devastated by BtCotton.

First, raising some quality concerns. GM crops are not reversible. They introduce new traits into the ecology of the fields where millions of lifeforms live in a symbiosis. The impact of changed traits of crops on other life forms including essential microorganisms in the soil to beneficial insects and contamination of adjacent fields or wild plants is impossible to determine when there are no long term tests of any sort including direct impact on humans. The assumption that it is safe is naive at best and unleashes irreversible changes which cannot be erased with an "oops. Sorry, we thought..." in the future if uncontrolled hybrids emerge.

Additionally, when GM seeds like these - that are resistant to specific poisons are grown in a region, the adaptations of pests to survive result in pests of the region becoming more and more resistant to pesticides and requiring greater applications of chemicals to control crops (including on the GM crops). This has happened in India. In Modi's own Gujarat. India approved Bt Cotton in 2002. In 2010, it failed pest tests in Gujarat. By 2013, the five year decline in cotton production was being blamed on everything from lack of innovation to climate change by GM apologists in media. Anything but GMO. By 2014, Modi who was CM in Gujarat when above failure happened is Prime Minister and opening more crops like wheat, rice and maize for GM field trials.

And guess what Monsanto did? It blamed the farmers for not following the "fine print" like planting refuge areas. A refuge area is basically a strip of ordinary cotton planted around the main crop of BtCotton. Guess why? Because when pests susceptible to the Bt gene die, the ones that survive are those that are resistant to it. So the idea is that they will breed with the pests from the normal cotton and thus lose some of their resistance. And if this doesn't happen (and tough to imagine how that would work effectively given that species breed to become stronger and survive and most of the field is Bt allowing most pests to find their Bt resistant dates on hand, without going to the other crops), it is apparently the farmer's fault. In other words, GM is not responsible...

Of course, that isn't what they had said when promoting BtCotton.

It [traditional methods of farming] has been a complete failure, because you have to modify infrastructure, you have to re-educate them as to how to modify their farming practices themselves. But with biotech, the technology is in a seed. All you have to do is give them the seed.

Because of course the guy with the powerpoint presentation understands agriculture better than the guy who doesn't even understand English and is too dumb to read instructions.

While there is little evidence of safety on various issues, the evidence that GM crops are not safe is mounting.

About a year and a half ago, a farmer in Oregon, USA found some wheat growing in an empty field. He tried to kill it with a herbicide. IT DIDN'T die. Astonished, the farmer sent the wheat to the Oregon state University for testing and it was found that it was genetically modified wheat containing Monsanto's a Roundup resistant CP4/maize EPSPS gene. The USDA confirms this. When this happened, there was no GM wheat approved for use anywhere in the world. Field trials had ended in 2005 on the wheat that was not expected to be viable for more than 2 years. Do the math.

Chief Technology Officer at Monsanto, Robb Fraley tried damage control "It seems likely to be a random, isolated occurrence more consistent with the accidental or purposeful mixing of a small amount of seed during the planting, harvesting or during the fallow cycle in an individual field." However, that doesn't solve the problem that wheat had turned into what basically amounted to a weed. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan postponed wheat imports from the region to avoid the contamination.

This basically shows that GMO food crops are not a choice as advertized. Seeds propagate, and the best intentioned organic farmer may still end up with GM contaminants.

Speaking of GM maize, in Hesse, Germany, many cows in a slaughterhouse died when they were fed Syngenta’s genetically engineered maize cow food. The remaining cattle were slaughtered on the decision of the authorities to... you guessed it... prevent spread of contamination. Syngenta withdrew the "protein" (not one of the better associations with this word) after being charged for covering up livestock deaths including those on the farm of a tenacious farmer who participated in trials and his cattle developed diseases and five cattle died. Syngenta paid him forty thousand euros basically as hush up money and other cover ups, including in tests. In India, maize is not cattle feed, but consumed by humans for the most part. Remember your "makki roti and sarson saag"? Now Modi sarkar has allowed field trials on GM maize in India.

A research paper published by Dr. Judy Carman last year showed marked increase in abdominal inflammation and on an average a 25% heavier uterus among female pigs fed GM feed. In 2009, American Academy Of Environmental Medicine called for Immediate Moratorium on Genetically Modified Foods stating a whole list of health risks related with GM food.

Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes "there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects" and that "GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health."

I could go on listing studies that have clearly shown the danger, but then what is my voice in the face of an all party (including BJP MPs) Parliamentary Standing Committee that overcame attempts of the state government to prevent them interviewing farmers and recommended against GM in its report?

1

India’s Sovereignty, Security and Freedom at risk-

Is the IB being used by foreign corporations to take over India’s vital seed sector?

The IB report has a special section on GMOs (genetically modified/engineered organisms). It clearly supports the introduction of GM crops into Indian agriculture.

The IB report makes specific mention of the Supreme Court cases which have beenfiled. It curiously also accuses civil society organisations and individuals of influencing 3 Committees that were officially mandated to assess GMOs. The IB report objects to these formal government reports, the Moratorium Orders of Shri Jairam Ramesh, the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report and the Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee Report (TEC) because they find that on current evidence, GM crops have little to contribute to Indian agriculture, safe food and food security. These findings did not accord with the view of the PMO, when headed by the erstwhile Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. This report was initiated under the UPA Government.

IB objects to protection of Indian seed and food sovereignty?

In 1998, when Monsanto introduced Bt cotton illegally, without the statutory approvals from the GEAC, we had to file a case in the SC to defend the laws of the land, our Constitution, our Seed Sovereignty and Food Sovereignty. When open field trials were being conducted without appropriate and independent Biosafety assessments, and expertise inthese matters, the current cases in the Supreme Court were initiated in 2003 and 2005 to uphold the law: protect the environment and safety of our seeds and food from irreversible genetic contamination, protect smallholder farming in India, and the health safety of 1 billion citizens. The country faces a major threat from the multinational Seed/chemical industry, seeking control over our seeds, our agriculture and our food. This is the corporate focus. This is their AGENDA. Thousands of organizations and many multiples of thousands of individuals are committed to resisting this unacceptable corporate goal for India.

IB favors the foreign hand in the ‘making of India’s Bt brinjal’:

The IB report quotes a Dr Ronald Herring of Cornell University who promotes GMOs and the monopoly of Monsanto. It is ironic that the IB report relies on the evidence of Dr Herring with his antecedents in Cornell University, a hub of blind GMO promotion. It is the direct foreign hand along with USAID and Monsanto funding, behind the ‘making of India’s Bt brinjal’. Here is a real foreign hand that informs the IB report. Has the IB report been written then with foreign influence, for the benefit and profits of foreign corporations? Thestrategy of the global GMO seed industry with their patents & IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights) is to bend regulation and influence governments and regulators to approve GMOs, by-passing scientific, transparent and independent safety testing.

Outrageous insult to our Parliamentarians and Contempt of Court by the IB:

The PSC recommended a high-level enquiry into how Bt brinjal was approved by the Regulators for commercial release. The self-assessed safety-dossier by Mahyco-Monsanto was a cover-up as evidenced in independent assessments of the raw data by several leading international scientists.  It staggers belief that the IB find it possible to hand out an outrageous insult to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, by suggesting  that they have in effect been led ‘by the nose’ by activists and civil society groups and have no competence to address their official mandate on the subject. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the IB report has been influenced by those who have most to gain by undermining our seed and food sovereignty ie. the foreign corporations.

The IB report has also attacked the government decision made under our Biosafety laws to impose a moratorium on Bt Brinjal. It is thus attacking our Biosafety. This will only suit foreign interests.

The IB is guilty of contempt of court since it attacks the Technical Expert Committee set up by the Supreme Court to look into the issues of GMOs and Biosafety. The case is still being heard.

The IB fails to refer to the important other official report, the ‘Sopory Committee Report’. This report of 2012 commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture itself is a stinging commentary on what is wrong with GMO regulation in India. Ourregulatory institutions and the MoA have been indicted in this report for lies, fraud and lacking GMO expertise. And the truth with regard to massive contamination was revealed in this report.

NGOs saving Indian seed and food sovereignty:

The biggest foreign hand by STEALTH and official COVER-UP will be in GMOs/GM crops if introduced into Indian agriculture. All that stands between a corporate takeover of our seeds and agriculture is the committed and exemplary work by the not-for-profit sector that helped create an informed debate on GMOs and has postponed, even stopped government action from introducing them for over 15 years.  In conspiring with deeply conflicted institutions of regulation, governance and agriculture, of which there is incontrovertible proof, to introduce GM crops into India, the IB will in fact aid the hand-over of the ownership of our seeds and foods to Multi-NationalCorporations. This will represent the largest take-over of any nation’s agriculture and future development by foreign-hands and this time it will be no bogey foreign hand. This will be for real.  China is on record as saying that she will not allow her armed forces to eat any GM food. This not-to-be-imagined future will plunge India into the biggest breach of internal security; of a biosecurity threat and food security crisis from which we will never recover. The fallout of this mere 20 year-old laboratory technology is, that it is irreversible. This is what must give us sober ‘food for thought’ uncontaminated by GMOs, something the IB seems to be supremely oblivious of. GM crops have already demonstrated no yield gain, no ability to engineer for traits of drought, saline resistance etc and have some  serious bio-safety issues which no regulator wishes  to examine.

Indian Cotton in Foreign Hands, Indian farmers’ hard earned money expatriated to foreign lands:

India’s Bt cotton is an outstanding example of the above scenario. It was introduced into India’s hybrids, not varieties so our farmers would be forced to buy seeds each year. This ‘VALUE CAPTURE’ for Monsanto which was contrived and approved by our own government mortgaging the public interest has ensured that in a short 10 years, 95% of cotton seeds in the form of Bt cotton are owned by Monsanto. The damage to India’s organic cotton market and status is significant. India is the largest organic cotton producer/exporter in the world. It is Monsanto now that decides where cotton should be planted and when by our farmers, a role that the MoA has absconded or been eliminated from. The Royalties accruing to Monsanto that have been expatriated are approximately Rs 4800 Crores in 12 years,   (excludingother profit mark-ups). What would this figure be if GMOs and propriety seeds flooded our farms without Biosafety assessment and regulation? This is the arithmetic the IB should have done, instead of throwing an arbitrary figure of 2-3% loss of growth. The IB is thus conspiring with global corporate interests to hemorrhage India’s agricultural economy. More than 284000 Indian farmers have been pushed to suicide because of a debt trap, lack of government investment in smallholder farming and dependence on non-renewable, propriety seeds and chemicals sold by the corporations. We call for an investigation on the foreign influence in writing the GMO section in the IB report.

If India's intelligence agencies become instruments of global corporations working against the public interest and national interest of India, our national security is under threat.

This IB report is deeply anti-national and subversive of constitutional rights of citizens in our country.  It does India nocredit.

Signed:

 Vandana Shiva,               Aruna Rodrigues,                Kavitha Kuruganti

Navdanya

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