Bank pays for blacklisting, threatening customer


Bank pays for blacklisting, threatening customer

C Unnikrishnan | TNN

Mumbai: The next time a bank offers a free credit card, think twice before saying yes. An advocate learnt this the hard way when a bank recently went to the extent of notifying his name as a defaulter with the Credit Information Bureau of (India) Limited (Cibil) even though it was not his fault.

The move meant that the advocate, K P Sreejith, would have found it impossible to avail a bank loan. However, refusing to take things lying down, Sreejith sued the bank, which was then directed by the consumer dispute redressal forum to pay up Rs 25,000 towards ‘mental agony and loss of reputation’ and another Rs 5,000 towards cost of litigation.

In August 2007, Barclay Bank approached Sreejith and offered a free life-time credit card considering his “good payment track record”.

Sreejith, who was initially reluctant, accepted the offer. On October 7, 2007, he made a purchase of Rs 918 through the card. A month later, the bank informed Sreejith over phone that he had not made the payment due on November 17.

Sreejith claimed that he had not received the statement but promptly paid the amount in accordance with the bank’s instructions. But soon he got the statement, in which where he was charged Rs 300 towards delayed payment. After Sreejith failed to get through to the bank over the phone, he sent an e-mail explaining the situation and requested them waive off the late fee.

The bank reverted saying the m at t e r had been forwarded to the department concerned. Even as the dispute was on, the late fee amount accumulated to Rs 2,000 and the bank allegedly sent recovery agents, who threatened Sreejith with dire consequences if the amount was not paid.

On January 4, 2008, the bank sent a letter to Sreejith asking him to pay Rs 734 and suspended his card. In February, the bank wrote saying the card would be permanently withdrawn and details would be forwarded to Cibil. On March 3, the bank carried out its threat after which Sreejith approached the consumer forum.

The bank denied issuing any threats and said levying late fee was proper. The bank also said that Cibil is not a defaulters’ list but only a data base of customers’ credit history.

The bank filed an affidavit saying the charges were reversed and there was no outstanding, which was intimated to Cibil.
The forum comprising president S P Mahajan and members Jyoti Iyer and S S Patil observed the bank had no regards for RBI directives as complaints to the customer services head was not attended to.

“The act of the bank in employing recovery agents is highly deplorable and it appears that the bank has no respect for the rule of the law.’’ the forum added.

Bangalore’s open drains


Another drain death and yet another drill of blame game

H S BALRAMNew Picture (84)

Why do our authorities run around in circles whenever they face an emergency?Why do they go on the defensive and engage in blame-game?

Why are they quick only in reeling out the reasons for a problem than finding a solution? Why do they fail to act upon umpteen promises made and decisions taken? Why do they refuse to learn from mistakes?

Take the killer drains of Bangalore. Four months ago, six-year-old Abhishek was washed away in an overflowing storm water drain. His body hasn’t been traced yet.

Four days ago a one-and-ahalf-year-old Vijay met the same fate. No trace of his body too. In both the cases, civic staff and fire force men went through a gruelling exercise of scouring the drains full of silt and filth. All in vain. The families of the victims are spending agonizing days.

The war of words that we witnessed after the Abhishek tragedy has surfaced again. Citizens blame the BBMP for not only leaving the drains open but also failing to desilt them. The BBMP in turn accuses the citizens of not taking care of their children during rains. It also charges them with throwing garbage into drains and choking them.

Then it turns to developers and accuses them of encroaching upon drains, narrowing them in the process and preventing free flow of rain water. While the blamegame is on, what does the government do? Just doles out compensation, makes some promises and retreats till another tragedy occurs.

Two senior ministers are in charge of Bangalore city. We have a minister for urban development. An adviser to the CM on urban planning. A proactive commissioner at the helm in BBMP.

A task force called ABide that works closely with the CM and makes recommendations. Many private companies are ever ready to chip in to resolve the city’s woes. RWAs are ready to help the civic staff rectify problems. Where then are the hitches?

Is the BBMP afraid of taking on the encroachers because of their political connections? If so, then the CM must step in, stand by the BBMP and give it a free hand to clear all encroachments at the earliest. The government cannot dilly-dally on this.

Is there difference of opinion on closure of drains? If yes, what are the arguments of those who oppose it? Can’t experts put their heads together and arrive at a consensus? The lives of citizens are at stake.

Sadly, we seem to wake up only when a tragedy occurs. We pledge religiously to work towards averting such tragedies. And then forget about it once the euphoria dies down. Only to wake up with a jolt when another tragedy strikes us. It’s time we stopped blaming one another and joined hands to make Bangalore a better place to live.
PARTING SHOT

Lesson for Late Latifs
Our netas have a lesson to learn from US consul general in Chennai, Andrew T Simkin. A couple of days ago he was in Bangalore to launch a ‘virtual consulate’. But he couldn’t reach the venue as he was caught in the city’s infamous traffic jam. As he was behind schedule, he called the venue and asked his staff to go ahead with the programme, so that ‘nobody should be kept waiting’. The programme began soon after with a consulate official launching the website. When can we see such professionalism in our netas?
balram.singh@timesgroup.com

RTO Delhi:Get driving licence from any city RTO


Get driving licence from any city RTO

A positive step. It will be possible to go to an RTO nearer to you now.

However will it bring down the harassment at the RTO offices, play of touts or graft?

Megha Suri | TNN

New Delhi: In about 10 days’ time, you will be able to get a driving licence issued from any of the 13 regional transport offices (RTOs) in Delhi, irrespective of where you stay in the capital. To bring down levels of corruption, all RTOs and the transport department unit at Burari are being interlinked and all records transferred to a central server.

Work on the project is nearing completion, after which the transport department will start trial runs. Interlinked RTOs would free the applicants from the current restriction of having to go to only the transport office which serves their area of residence.

NEW LICENSING FACILITY IN 10 DAYS To check graft, records being transferred to central server
New Delhi: To bring down levels of corruption, all RTOs and the transport department unit at Burari are being interlinked and all records transferred to a central server.
Though licence-seekers will now be free to apply at any RTO, they will need to complete all formalities — like the driving test for learners licence, payment of fees, final road test for permanent licence and the printing of the smart card — at the same RTO.

The driving licence will subsequently be delivered by courier to the applicant’s permanent address. Details of new licences etc, will get uploaded onto the centralized database, real time.

The department is also in the process of creating a centralized pool of information so that all records of present licence holders can be accessed by officials from any RTO. To get the new facility rolling, the transport department is now in the final stages of linking the existing databases of all the 13 RTOs and the Burari unit.
Official said there was a problem at the Sarai Kale Khan RTO, where the linking was stuck due to technical difficulties.

But the matter has been sorted out and even this RTO will be connected to the central server in 2-3 days. The ongoing festive season has caused some delays, but the new facility is expected to be in place in 10 days.

‘‘The new centralized system is being put in place to bring about more transparency in the process. We are going to launch a massive public awareness campaign to tell people about it. This way, the government will ensure that it doesn’t get sabotaged. The dummy run will start in 10 days and the teething troubles will be sorted out at the earliest,’’ said R K Verma, transport commissioner.

Another major step being taken is the weeding out of touts at RTOs who stamp medical certificates mandatory for every application for a driving licence. A cabinet note has been sent by the department which proposes that such medical certificates will be issued only by government hospitals and dispensaries.

At present, any registered medical practitioner can certify whether an applicant is fit to drive or not. Recently, the government had also started online tracking of applications for driving licences, which has got a good response from applicants.

IIT IIM : Professors aggrieved by HRD ministry actions


In a war of words the IIT / IIM professors are no match for Kapil Sibal who is a lawyer by profession, and also a politician.

He also has the wily bureaucracy behind him.

The aim of HRD ministry is ‘total control’. The dons cannot beat the bureaucracy.

Upset over pay, IIT profs to teach on empty stomach

Directors Label Protest An Ego Issue

TIMES NEWS NETWORKNew Picture (82)

New Delhi: The IIT faculty all over the country will teach but on an empty stomach on September 24 in protest against the pay revision announced by the HRD ministry on September 16. But their protest has not gone down well with the IIT directors who label it as an “ego issue”.

The matter seems to have hit a logjam. On September 25, a meeting between IIT faculty and directors has been called to sort out the issue. “The IIT faculty is raising ego-based issues not data-based issues. They want the moon,” one IIT director said. The All India IIT Faculty Federation (AIIITFF), however, says their protest is not about money.

“There is a big misconception about our protest,” one IIT-Bombay faculty member said. In fact, the teachers point out that the pay commission recommendations have gone beyond the mandate and “infringe on the autonomy” of IITs.

“We have a flexible cadre system that cannot accept regulations on the number of people hired at any level. Specifications such as 10% of the total faculty has to be hired at the level of ‘assistant professors on contract’, only 40% of professors with six years of experience at that level can advance to the next academic grade pay (AGP), etc. go against this spirit and cannot be accepted,” AIIITFF said in a statement.

“How is it about money?” one faculty member asked. But one IIT director said, “There is no way that autonomy of IITs can be affected by the government order. Every professor in IIT has enough independence.” It is also pointed out that the faculty bypassed the directors and directly approached HRD minister Kapil Sibal.

AIIITFF has also pointed out that there is an open selection policy for all advancements in career, wherein the candidates are judged on academic criteria like teaching effectiveness, sponsored/consultancy projects undertaken, masters and PhD thesis guidance, research publications and corporate responsibilities.

“Those who meet the criteria advance to the next level.” There is no space for defining in advance limits to how many people can be promoted, AIIITFF said.

IIM-A board to meet on Sept 25

Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, board will meet on September 25 to take a decision on the implementation of a new government order on pay structure that has been opposed by the faculty members, sources said.

The IIM-A faculty council during its meeting held on Saturday had opposed the government order on pay revision and asked IIM-A director Samir Barua to delay its implementation by a month. PTI

GOA: Foreigners beware when buying property


Change In Laws, Builder Scams Threaten Investment Of Hundreds Of Foreigners In State

Nicola Smith

Hundreds of Britons may lose their holiday homes and life savings in Goa after falling foul of changes in local laws and scams by builders and lawyers. Some allege they are victims of racism and have been told to ‘‘go home’’.

Many invested tens of thousands of pounds a few years ago in legitimate transactions, only to be told the rules had changed and their properties may be confiscated. In one of the most common scenarios in Goa, British buyers were told by local lawyers and the Reserve Bank of India that they could legally own property if they set up an Indian company and made the transaction through it. By 2007, the rules on foreigners owning property through a business appeared to have changed, though only in Goa.

The region used to be part of the hippie trail, but has reinvented itself as a package-holiday centre. It attracts 1,00,000 British holidaymakers a year, 60% of its foreign tourist trade.

The new interpretation of the law by the Goan authorities has left hundreds, such as Su Peplow, 57, from Bedfordshire, without property deeds and facing large financial losses.

In 2005, Peplow, a quality director for a human tissue research association, decided to retire to Goa with her husband. They settled on a two-storey flat under construction in Cavelossim, a fishing village, and invested more than £20,000. The couple signed a contract for a
56-month lease with a right to buy. Like many others, they hired local lawyers to help them and were advised to set up a business to buy the flat.

Peplow’s husband died in 2006 and she decided to proceed with the purchase alone. She paid the builder for registration of the deeds, transfer of the utilities into her name, land tax and stamp duties. She also handed over £6,500 for furniture and renovation, and paid legal fees.

After she paid the final instalment to the builder, he reportedly said he could not transfer the deeds as he would be ‘‘breaking Goan laws’’. Her lawyer disappeared and she stands to lose her entire investment when the lease runs out.

Another Briton said despite a letter from RBI affirming that she had done everything legally, she was told by a local subregistrar that he ‘‘couldn’t register our property as I was white and a foreigner’’.

Vikram Varma, a local lawyer, said more than 1,000 people could have been caught out by changes in the laws and by builders’ scams. The British deputy high commissioner is being sent to Goa to hear people’s concerns.

The enforcement directorate and Goan government declined to comment.

The difficulties coincided with a popular movement opposing the purchase of large tracts of land by Indian and Russian developers as Goans fear losing their cultural identity.

SUNDAY TIMES, LONDON

Cancer Care:Hospital offers EMI scheme


New Picture (81)Hospital offers EMI scheme for cancer care

Stanley G Pinto | TNN

Mangalore: You must have heard about EMI schemes for housing, vehicles, white goods loans and clothing. What about EMI for cancer care?

Health Care Global (HCG), a cancer care network in South Asia, is introducing EMI facility for treatment, that too without interest. Dr BS Ajai Kumar, chairman and CEO of HCG, told TOI the EMI facility is available in Bangalore and it will soon be available in Delhi and Ahmedabad.

So how does it work? First, HCG evaluates the patients economic condition. ‘‘Our goal is not to deny treatment to any patient for lack of money. Usually, patients from lower-middle class cannot afford cancer care, which runs into lakhs. We let them decide how much they can pay in EMIs and ask them to stick to it,’’ he said. The doctor said, ‘‘There’s also a section of patients who cannot pay much. For them we help through the HCG Foundation.’’ Recently, an auto driver from Mysore availed of the benefit.

Dr Ajai, a key member of the Task Force which spearheads the health and welfare development of Karnataka, said the idea generated from the micro-credit scheme he had started for rural women in Gundlupet near Mysore. It was part of a World Bank project to provide health care for women in 2000.

‘‘We documented that major source of their expenditure was loans. They borrowed in the four months of distress at 60% interest,’’ he said. Regarding cancer, Ajai said according to WHO, cancer will overtake cardiac disease as the major killer in the next decade and it will be prominent in India and China. The oncologist attributes this to changes in lifestyle. ‘‘The affluent disease like colon, breast cancer and lung cancer will hit the rural population when they go mainstream,’’ he warns.

Dr Ajai, a BC Roy awardee, says the advent of cyberknife, which delivers precise dose of radiation to targets thereby avoiding the healthy tissues, will help manage cancer like diabetes, blood pressure and asthma.

Deaths of children in the cotton fields of Gujarat: GOVT APATHY


GOVT APATHY CONTINUES

5 more die in Bt cotton fields of Gujarat

Rao Jaswant Singh | TNN

Jaipur: Barely a week after TOI first reported the deaths of children in the Bt cotton fields of Gujarat (August 28), five more deaths have been reported from the area, taking the total number of those dead in just over a month to 10. A majority of the dead are children, including six girls.

All those who died had been trafficked from Udaipur-Dungarpur-Banswara region of Rajasthan. They were taken to work in the Bt cotton fields at Gujarat’s Banaskantha district, when the cross-pollination season began July-end.

Ironically, even after so many deaths, the district administration has failed to check the migration and initiate action against middlemen, who take children from Rajasthan to Gujarat.

Dakshin Rajasthan Majdoor Union, a social organisation working for migrant workers, has been spreading awareness and also helping the affected families in their fight for justice. Executive member of DRMU, Sudhir Katiyar, told TOI that the deceased workers included Bhuri Ben (14), Haju Ben (16), Madi Ben (16) and Ramesh (14) — all from Dungarpur district — and Basu Hakra Kharadi (13) of Udaipur, Rekha Adela (19) and Nathi Ben (40) of Udaipur, Raju Nemchand (21) of Banswara and an unidentified child worker.

Preliminary investigation by the NGO revealed that Basu Hakra died after congestion and respiratory problems, Rekha and Raju died under mysterious conditions while Nathi Ben died due to snake bite, but no postmortem was done in her case.

Katiyar said though police have registered a case, investigation is still on. ‘‘The cotton field owners are strong enough and police are hand in glove with them,’’ he alleged.In two days, seven Maha farmers kill self

TIMES NEWS NETWORK