Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Highway - Chocolate scam

Have you ever received 1Re change from any of the toll booth in NH4 highway? Have you observed that most of the toll fee along the entire NH4 highway is like Rs19, Rs39, Rs44 etc. Have you observed that you always get a cadbury eclairs chocolate instead of 1Re change. Well how does it matter after all its just 1Re. Now if I travel from Bangalore to Goa with around 6-7 toll booths along the entire stretch it's just around 6-7Rs extra one way. What's the big deal?  
At the first place paying for toll doesn't make sense after paying all the taxes, roads are the basic necessity the government has to provide. Well at least we have few good roads after paying these toll, so I shouldn't be expecting too much. But then the concern I have here is, how are these rates fixed and who does it? How are these numbers 19, 39, 44 etc derived, it's always 1Re less. With around 4-8 collection center in each booth  and with around 60,000 - 1 lakh vehicles moving along the NH4 on an average, each booth would be earning around 60 to 1 lakh rupees extra. Now how much would Cadbury charge me for each eclairs if I promise to sell around 60,000 to 1 lakh chocolates from each booth ?  I guess it should not be more than 30-40 paise per chocolate. That is around 60-70 thousand rupees a day for each toll booth.
If this thing is knowingly or unknowingly happening across the entire country across all highways then this should be the next big potential highway chocolate scam!

Monday, December 19, 2011

PDS - Public Distribution System

When the food security bill was passed by the union cabinet ministry, I wanted to get back home and read more about the PDS (Public Distribution System)scam in Karnataka. At times I feel the common man of this country is like helpless or is made a fool by a bunch of rulers. I can only guess and get scared where this food security bill will head with no proper storage facility for the food grains procured by the government. More food will be procured by the government to feed the poor, there by creating a shortage and price rise for the rest. With no proper storage or distribution mechanism there is a high possibility that these food grains will be sold in black creating loss to the exchequer. How it can be done, I understood by reading the investigation report of Dr.R.Balasubramaniam, who investigated the PDS scam.

The current reality is that 57% of the PDS food grain doesn't reach the intended poor people. The planning commission has identified that for every Rs4 spent on PDS only Re1 reaches the poor which meant 75% of the money spent on PDS doesn't reach the needy. It's a well camouflaged setup in the system to loot money from this country. Telling this I am not against PDS but until there is a proper mechanism to deliver, this will be a big scam.

In Karnataka the government has distributed 1.6crore ration cards while the total number of families in the state itself is 1.2crore, which means there are nearly 40lakh ghost and ineligible cards. As per the study there are around 44lakh BPL (Below Poverty Line) families in Karnataka, but the government's claim that there are 96 lakh BPL families. This means 52 lakh families who actually belonged to the APL (Above Poverty Line) are included in the BPL list and are given subsidies which they are not entitled for. Also around 5.8lakh BPL families are excluded from this list. At the wholesaler shops it is observed that weighing scales are faulty, low quality products, adulteration, no bills issued and charging higher prices for commodities.

Allocation of supplies made by the government towards in-active cards leads to over allotment loss which is estimated around 38% i.e is around Rs54 crore every month. The loss incurred due to the leakage of grains that happens at all levels of supply chain which includes wholesale transportation, at the wholesaler level, during the rural transportation is estimated to be around 39% i.e around Rs56.6 crore every month. Households not eligible to rations, but drawing rations cause active suspect losses to treasury which is estimated around 17% i.e Rs24.5Crore every month. By charging higher price to the consumers, thus stealing the benefit intended by the government 4% loss is estimated i.e Rs 5.82crore in a month.

Overall as per an estimation Rs 144.8crore is lost every month from this one state Karnataka. Now can we imagine what will happen and how much money will be looted from the country without a proper mechanism or system in place?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dandeli - Old Magazine Hut

Around 5 years back had visited Dandeli on bike, on my way to Goa for new year. This place has changed a lot over 5 years. I see lots of resorts which have come up, lot many vehicles on the road. Yet some of the places deep inside if you are willing to explore is amazing be it the roads or the greenery. Probably this is the best place in Karnataka for Birding, how ever it was disappointing for wildlife siting.

I asked Diwi to stay with us over the night so that we can start very early in the morning. We started around 4.30 and by around 7 we where in Chitradurga. I have been to most of the hotels in Chitradurga as most of them are from my relatives, especially the older ones. But Diwi asked to try "Lakshmi Tiffin Room" for the "Kali Dosa". This was one of the best "Kali Dosa" I had ever tried. I made best use of it by having as much as I could. It was not right but then, I had to leave Durga without visiting my relatives as we were suppose to be in Dandeli by 12.
NH4 is probably one of the best roads in the country over a long stretch. I was consistently driving at 120-140 kmph. Reached Hubli by around 9:30 -10, however from Hubli towards Dharwad the speed dropped and then from Dharwad to Dandeli, the roads are not good. We reached Dandeli around 12.30 and we had the biggest shock, I wanted to stay in "Old Magazine Hut" @ Ganeshgudi but I didn't know the name of the place and asked for help from Jungle lodge team while booking who mistook and had booked us in "Kali Adventure Camp - Dandeli". This was not the place I wanted to stay, it was very disappointing but then after speaking to the Jungle lodges team, they were quick to put us in 2 log huts in Ganeshgudi.
We had a quick lunch at Dandeli and headed for rafting, I have done rafting thrice in Rishikesh in different weather conditions and once just after rains in red muddy water which was the most dangerous. When compared to that there was nothing in this but then, rafting again after long time was fun also it was great fun for all the beginners. Kali also has got the best rapids in Karnataka but then the water current is so much dependent of the water that is been released from the Dam.
Old Magazine hut in Ganeshgudi is almost in the middle of the forest and there has been many instances of wild life sighting at the camp site. I would still rate K.Gudi as the best of all. While driving to Ganeshgudi at night from Dandeli, I switched off the lights of my Car for a couple of seconds to get a feel of Darkness ahead and it was great fun. After having dinner in front of the camp fire we moved to our rooms.
We got up at 6 and went for birding and sighted lots of interesting birds .We sighted Malabar Trogon female/male, Red whisked bulbul, Asian paradise fly catcher (white), Golden fronted leaf bird, Sun bird, Emerald Dove, Red cheeked barbet, Blue capped rock thrush, Ruby throat bulbul, Yellow browed bulbul, White rumped Shama, Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar gaint squirrel and also Flying squirrel.
After breakfast we started driving towards Syntheri Rocks, the roads are the best with thick forest and very few vehicles. The roads are in good condition making it even more pleasant drive. We reached Syntheri rocks around 11 and spent some time enjoying the beauty of the water falls in front of the huge granite rock. I had got down into water at many places but here they have put up boards not to get into water and also there are guards who stop you from even going near the water, did not make much sense.
After coming back to Ganeshgudi, having lunch we went for the coracle ride. I didn't enjoy this, felt this was more for older people. Coming back from coracle ride we went for the peak behind the Ganeshgudi camping for sunset view. Its around 20min hike behind the camping site from where we get the entire view of the forest and also the back waters of Kali river. It was relaxing to feel the cool breeze but then at the last moment sun hid behind the clouds and we missed the beautiful sunset view.
We planned to go for safari next day, but then later felt it was a waste of time. Dandeli is not the place for Safari. You can best enjoy Dandeli for birding and then relaxing. I enjoyed the most photo shooting the "Hump nosed pit Viper" in front of our rooms. Viper was in an aggressive mood trying to strike again and again but gave some of the best shots for my camera.
On our journey back we stopped at "Dandeli Appa - temple", here we could watch around 30-40 crocodiles of Kali river which had come out to warm themselves. We heard that if we had come at around 9 we could have got a spectacular view of around 70 crocodiles in the river. I was a bit scared looking at these crocodiles for the sheer number as I was swimming in this river just a day before, but there has been no instances of any one being attacked by crocodile in Dandeli.
The return journey was very tiring as the traffic along the entire stretch was very heavy and finally we reached home around 12 in the midnight.