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Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Press Release – Jharkhandi Organisation Against Radiation (JOAR) protest against UCIL Scam
Press Release – Jharkhandi Organisation Against Radiation (JOAR) protest against UCIL Scam
It is extremely shocking and shameful that the senior officials of the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) at their Jadugoda Headquarters have decided to bypass all rules and regulations. They have not only indulged in corruption but also nepotism by distributing jobs among their own kin. This is made easier by the routine cloak of "national interest" which prevents any sort of questioning by the people about the actions and activities of UCIL. Right from its inception, UCIL has been unjust to the tribal people of this region. The land acquisition policy, then as now, was authoritarian, and land for the project was grabbed virtually at gunpoint. For the construction of Tailing Dam No. 3, thirty homes were bulldozed in 1996. After a lot of struggle, the displaced people managed to get the company to agree to some demands, but the displaced families of Chaatikocha are yet to be rehabilitated even after 20 years of waiting neither got jobs till date. Moreover, they are forced to live within 100 metres from the bank of uranium tailing dam. This is the situation on the ground not just in Jadugoda but also in the other mine sites including Badhjanta, Baduhurang, Mahuldih, and Turmadih. Nor is UCIL's attitude to its own employees very different. When UCIL took over Bhatin and Narua Pahar mines from the Atomic Mineral Department in 1980, 70 workers were tricked who have worked for 10 years. After protests, ten percent of these were taken back, while the others were told they would be taken back later. A promise that is yet to be kept! The workers have pinned their hopes on the High Court. Corrupt practices are deeply entrenched. Insiders cite serious malpractices in the contracts/tenders given out for machinery, minerals and other material. Even the trucks hired to transport the uranium ore are part of the racket. Raising questions on all these practices is considered anti-national. On several occasions, the pipes transporting radioactive waste have burst, leaving this dangerous radioactive slurry around people's homes, seeping into the ground or contaminating the water sources. It is not surprising, therefore, that the local people of Jadugoda are suffering from a range of diseases from tuberculosis to cancer, as well as an abnormally high rate of miscarriages, still births and inability to conceive. Until the 90's, the local people were unaware of the dangers and continued to use the radiation-affected land for grazing and water for fishing. Children even played football around the tailing dams! JOAR was one of the first to uncover information about the fallouts of uranium mining in Jharkhand. With the help of the renowned IDPD – Indian Doctors for Peace & Democracy – a health survey of the area was conducted. UCIL, that never felt the need to conduct a health survey over the 4 decades of its existence, now put all its resources into undermining and trashing the results of the IDPD survey. Instead of doing something to ameliorate the conditions of the people, the Company's focus seems to weaken the organisations working for the people. ( one example – http://www.rediff.com/news/column/how-foreign-ngos-fuel-indias-anti-uranium-lobby/20141201.htm) It is against this backdrop that the recent hiring policy must be understood.
Having crushed the fundamental rights of the tribal people of Jadugoda, UCIL is now determined to uproot them completely. It is for this reason that the Company is bringing in outsiders to work here, so none of the benefits go to locals who have given their lives – and their children's' health – to keep UCIL going.
The chief vigilance officer (CVO) at Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) has unearthed a recruitment scam involving top management of the public-sector company, which is alleged to have illegally hired junior managerial-level employees over more than a decade.
The revelations are more significant because UCIL is the only agency permitted to commercially mine uranium for India's nuclear power needs and the recruits are expected to rise through the ranks over the years to take over the management of the company.
A series of official reports received by CBI, the Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC) and DAE, which have been reviewed by Business Standard, detail how recruitments were carried out illegally for years at the company. A report sent in February 2015 names the UCUL chairman & managing director, Diwakar Acharya, besides others, for illegally hiring officials in 2013.
Acharya did not respond to emailed queries, despite repeated reminders over four days. The department of atomic energy and CVC, too, did not answer emailed queries. Some sources in CBI who did not wish to be named confirmed that the agency was still looking into the matter, and that details could not be provided since the matter was confidential.
UCIL reports to DAE, which is controlled by a minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office.
"Only a comprehensive CBI inquiry can enforce a basic respect for law in the face of a breakdown of prescribed processes and their substitution by a culture of arbitrariness, nepotism, favouritism and criminal wrongdoing that prima facie appear to be the case with respect to the appointment of management trainees in UCIL," CVO Rajnish Kumar Rai has written in a report now awaiting action by the government.
"UCIL violated the instructions of the department of public enterprise, Government of India, regarding recruitment of management trainees. The criteria for screening applications were arbitrary and discriminatory, in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. The selection committee did not have any criteria for assessing performance of candidates," the report reads. It adds that neither were written tests given nor marks provided to individual candidates by the screening committee. No merit list of successful candidates was prepared. The report notes that the process followed was in violation not only of the government's laid-down regulations but of several Supreme Court orders.
The anti-graft official's report to DAE reads: "Over several past years, these illegal and arbitrary procedures of recruitment and selection for management trainee and/or equivalent posts, have almost become natural and normal at UCIL. All these recruitments prima facie suffer from the vice of arbitrariness, discrimination, unreasonableness, non-uniformity, abuse of discretion, etc."
The scam was unearthed when the CVO began investigating one case where the top management connived to hire the son of one of the company directors, by violating rules and favouring the candidate, despite he being medically disqualified. PMO and DAE initiated preliminary inquiries into this round of hiring, carried out in 2013, but the UCIL management dismissed the complaints in their responses to the government.
Acharya wrote to DAE, saying: "His selection was strictly as per the laid down procedure of the company… a large number of employees' wards routinely apply against vacancies in the company and whoever is found suitable by the duly constituted committee following laid down procedure of the company is given offer of appointment."
Not satisfied with the response, DAE kept asking specific questions all through 2014 about how the recruitments were being carried out.
Rai, when appointed the CVO on deputation, began investigations afresh and found not only had the son of the director been hired illegally but several documents were destroyed and fabricated to hide the truth. Senior officials of UCIL, including Acharya, have been named in the report for manipulating records to legitimise the hiring. The report notes that the director was also involved in the recruitment process of his son, and another senior UCIL official named a referee by the candidate was part of the selection process. The report adds that other recruitments done in this round were also carried out similarly, without following regulations.
In the 2013 round of recruitment, 16 vacancies were advertised and 13 finally filled after the procedures that the report concludes were in violation of norms. For the 10-year period, the CVO has listed more than 100 vacancies for which recruitment was done through the same flawed method.
Contacted by Business Standard, Rai refused to comment. The reports pertain to his tenure as the chief vigilance officer at UCIL. At present, he does not hold that position; he is now posted with the Central Reserve Police Force.
The report on UCIL recruitments is blunt: "The selection of candidates for the post of management trainees was done solely on the basis of their performance in the interview. However, this was executed in a completely inconsistent, non-transparent and arbitrary manner and suffered from illegalities and irregularities."
The main report says while the anti-graft officer carried out detailed investigations into the 2013 round of hiring at UCIL, he found same illegal procedures had been followed in earlier years as well.
The report to DAE says, though some of the recruitments were now more than a decade old, they merited a probe. Warning that these management trainees were expected to rise in the company and take charge of critical roles, the CVO has written: "When illegalities and irregularities in the appointment of management trainees and other equivalent posts are tolerated, the incentive for following laws, rules, norms and fair administrative procedures collapses, as it is these management trainees who later hold senior administrative posts later in their careers."