August 31, 2011

Few claimants for seized Singur land

The district administration, which continues to scrutinize applications, expects only about 300 more valid claims to emerge from among near 2,000 lodged with it

Romita Datta

LIVEMINT, Posted: Sat, Aug 13, 2011. 12:33 AM IST

Kolkata: Only about 300 protesting farmers have so far managed to establish, with valid legal documents, their “rightful title” to the land seized from them in 2006 for Tata Motors Ltd’s small car factory in Singur. Their collective ownership is 40 acres at the most.

The state government gave farmers a month’s time till 22 July to file applications with the Hooghly district administration to reclaim land that they were forced to give up for the factory. The district administration, which continues to scrutinize applications, expects only about 300 more valid claims to emerge from among near 2,000 lodged with it.

Under the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, the first law passed by the newly elected Trinamool Congress government of the state, the administration seized the 997-acre plot allotted to Tata Motors and its component makers, with the aim of redistributing it among farmers. The Act named some 2,200-odd farmers as eligible to reclaim land, and their collective ownership was pegged at around 300 acres.

The Act said only those farmers who protested against the 2006 land acquisition for the now-abandoned Nano car factory by not receiving payment from the state government were entitled to reclaim as much land as was seized from them.

These people, named in the Act, were asked to file applications with the Hooghly district administration with proof of ownership, but it now appears that a “large majority” of these erstwhile landowners have no documents to establish their title to the land.

“So far, applications of only about 310 people have been found to be valid,” said Rabindranath Bhattacharya, a Trinamool Congress legislator from Singur and the state’s minister for agriculture. He was also one of the key leaders of the Trinamool Congress-spearheaded agitation against the factory.

“Going by the trend so far, we expect the number (of valid applications) to rise by another 300 at best,” he added.

District magistrate Sripriya Rangarajan refused to comment, saying she was busy dealing with the flood-like situation in Hooghly.

“A large majority of the applicants are unable to prove their ownership,” said Pulak Sarkar, Singur block development officer. “It appears from the hundreds of applications processed so far that a lot of people in that list (in the Act) have sold their land, and the people who currently claim to own these tracts of land have no document at all to establish their ownership.”

Moloy Ghatak, the state’s law minister and vice-chairman of an expert panel overseeing the land redistribution, said it would not be possible for the state government to return land unless people could establish their claim with valid legal documents.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has said that at least 400 acres of land was forcibly seized by the erstwhile Left Front government of the state. She demanded the return of 400 acres to the erstwhile owners, and didn’t budge from it, forcing Tata Motors to pull the plug on the Singur project.

According to the records of the state’s land and land reforms (L&LR) department, erstwhile owners of some 51 acres couldn’t claim compensation because of ownership being under legal dispute. Erstwhile owners of around 90 acres were found to be living abroad, and didn’t bother to collect compensation.

“To be realistic, only a little over 150 acres could be redistributed among local farmers in the best case scenario, but it now seems that only about 70-80 acres would be reclaimed,” said an officer of the L&LR department, who did not want to be named.

“We don’t know yet if people who live abroad have reclaimed land; if they have, the figure could go up, but only marginally.”

Incidentally, the erstwhile Left Front government had offered to carve out 70 acres from the plot allotted for the small car factory, to be developed and redistributed among all farmers forced to give up land for the project. It also offered to sweeten the cash compensation.

But Banerjee spurned the offer and continued to protest, which eventually led to the factory being moved to Sanand in Gujarat.

Farmers divided over Singur land bill

Priyanka Gupta

Updated Jun 17, 2011 at 04:25pm IST

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Singur Bill seems to have opened a Pandora's box. More than 10000 willing farmers handed over their land to the Tatas for compensation and a job. They are now prepared to take the government to court over the bill.

Sixty-year-old Swapan Kumar Das, one of the farmer who exchanged his land with the Tatas for compensation and a job for his son Soumen, feels cheated. 15 days from retirement at Singur, he's not looking forward to rest after decades of work. Instead, he is bracing himself for uncertain times.

Swapan Kumar Das said, "We have lost everything either way. We thought we will get jobs because there will be an industry and I spent the money to build my house. My son trained for the Tatas for two years like others and now he has no job and he is too old to study."

More than 10,000 people willingly gave up their land for the Singur project of the Tatas. Uday Das a local doctor is one of them. He is now leading those farmers who believe they are victims of both the Left and the TMC-led governments.

"We will challenge the bill in court because it is not fair. One government makes a decision, another government comes makes another decision. What about us! Why should we suffer in between?" said Uday Das.

Another farmer Rabindranath Bolen who exchanged his land with the Tatas is upset over the fact that his land will be given to someone else.

"Why should my land be given to someone else. I gave my land for industry not to give to someone else. Where is the public purpose in this?" said Bolen.

On the other hand, those farmers who struggled for six long years to get their land back have openly welcomed the bill.

Mahabir, a farmer who had to unwillingly give up his land, said, "We have fought for so many years and lived in poverty, this bill promises that we will get our land back, but why should they who took the compensation and willingly gave up their land now crib? You can't have it both the ways.

With several promises being made and broken, the Singur chapter has become a turbulent one for Bengal, with all eyes now on Mamata Banerjee to see if she can keep the people of Singur from being divided.

Office renovation of Chief Minister

Bengal becomes biggest borrower

THE TELEGRAPH, Issue Date: Wednesday, July 27, 2011


July 26: Bengal has become the biggest borrower among all states in the country, both the current and previous governments going neck and neck in raising loans in the first four months of this financial year.

Data available with the RBI suggest that the new Trinamul Congress-led government has raised Rs 5,000 crore in the two months since Mamata Banerjee took over as chief minister of the cash-strapped state on May 20.

The coalition government’s borrowing blitz began on June 7 when it raised Rs 3,000 crore and followed that up with two tranches of Rs 1,000 crore each on July 5 and 19. These loans came on top of borrowings worth Rs 5,173 crore by the Left Front government during its final months in office.

The combined effect of the borrowings by the two governments is that Bengal has now earned the dubious distinction of becoming the biggest borrower among the states. Last year, Bengal was ranked sixth among states in terms of annual borrowings.

Bengal’s borrowings now stand at Rs 10,173 crore — almost 70 per cent higher than last year’s level of Rs 6,000 crore during the same period. What’s worse is that its borrowings in the first four months of the current financial year at Rs 10,173 crore is 7 per cent higher than the Rs 9,500 crore it had borrowed in the 12 months ended March 31 this year.

State finance minister Amit Mitra declined comment on the borrowing programme of the state government.

“The borrowing spree will compound the problems that the government is facing. The government will have to find ways to increase its own revenue,” said a senior state government official on condition of anonymity.

Although the Centre has increased the plan budget for the state from Rs 17,985 crore to Rs 22,214 crore and promised to give more funds to Bengal, it has also suggested that the state government find ways to shore up its revenue collections.

While the state waits for Delhi to loosen its purse-strings, the question that is being asked at Writers’ is why does the government need to borrow so much? Is it to pay salaries, pension and interest on outstanding loans?

The available figures, however, don’t support this hypothesis. The monthly outgo on salaries, pension and interest on outstanding loans is around Rs 4,000 crore while the revenue earnings per month are around Rs 5,500 crore.

“A new government has to deliver on its promises and a lot of new projects are being taken up. As most of them have been announced without obtaining consent from the finance department, borrowing is the only option,” said a state government official.

Some of the big announcements by the chief minister include laying embankments in Aila-affected areas, rural healthcare upgradation, creation of 36 primary health care centres in Jungle Mahal, drinking water projects in Purulia, West Midnapore and Bankura, jobs for 10,000 tribal young men and women as part of a special police force in Jungle Mahal and the creation of 46,000 teachers’ posts.

“The state government doesn’t have the funds to roll out all these projects at one go and that’s why there is a need to borrow,” said an official. Borrowing by a state government is not a sin and Bengal can borrow up to Rs 17,000 crore a year.

But excessive borrowing has its ramifications. The borrowings will put a greater strain on Bengal’s finances since the interest payout will increase with yields (the rate of interest that the bond holders earn) climbing by 44 basis points from around 8.17 per cent last year to around 8.61 per cent at present.

The rising yields appear to have deterred the other states from accessing the RBI loan auction window. That’s the reason why Bengal’s borrowings account for almost 28 per cent of the total state government borrowings of Rs 37,023 crore till date.

Uttar Pradesh — the second highest borrower this year — has raised Rs 5,000 crore till date, less than half of what Bengal has garnered in the four-month period.

Cry of the comrades

TNN,  Aug 14, 2011, 04.00AM IST

All hell didn't break loose after the change of guard in West Bengal as the Left had predicted. The sun did shine after May 13 when the comrades found themselves relegated to a poor double-digit figure (62), and the last 10.03 pm metro from Esplanade was packed with men and women like it was the day before.

Banners changed from red to green (the Trinamool's favoured colour), indicating shakeups in the para rickshaw and bus unions. Local party offices that served as nuts and bolts to the "CM to LCM (local committee member)" command structure, running parallel with the administration, found themselves out of sync. And the men and women who ate and drank power for 34 long years in cosy collusion with the local police became targets of Trinamool Congress in select city pockets - from Jadavpur to Beliaghata, Kasba to Sealdah and Maniktala.

Even Left-dominated bodies that used to mobilise consent in favour of the government of the day, carving out ideologically-suitable policies, were suddenly under threat. Elected student representatives in some of the city colleges - Asutosh, St Paul's and Thakurpukur - were forced to resign while some of the nominees in the Left-dominated college governing bodies were unable to enter the institutions.

"The ruling Trinamool Congress occupied one local committee office and 13 branch offices in these areas," says the CPM's Kolkata district secretariat member, Kallol Majumdar. "Seven trade union offices affiliated to Citu have been locked from outside. In some places, party members were threatened and beaten up when they refused to fall in line. Local Trinamool councillors led the attack in St Paul's College, Thakurpukur College, Asutosh College, and forced the SFI union representatives to resign."

Such was the concern that the chancellor of all state universities, governor MK Narayan, in a written directive on June 14 asked varsities to refrain from making fresh selections at all levels and stop nominating people to governing bodies till further orders.

Yet there is no public outrage. People at large do not seem concerned with the much-touted assault on "democracy", a cry coming out loud from a CPM left in the opposition. A substantial number views it as just an attack on the "party-dominated mechanism" that ran roughshod over the state all these years. Worse is the scene in the villages - the traditional political minefields of Bengal - spread over Hooghly, Burdwan, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas. Then there are the three troubled districts of Jangalmahal - West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura - where CPM activists are on the run. Most of the CPM-managed panchayat offices are locked and deserted, even those in an area from where CPM strongman Anil Basu won the 2004 Lok Sabha polls with a record one lakh-plus margin.

According to CPM insiders, if things continue like this, the party will have a tough time fielding candidates in the 2013 panchayat polls. The party's North 24 Parganas leader Amitava Nandi says "supporters are staying outside their home. Their complaints to the police are not being entertained".

CPM leaders in Alimuddin Street, the party's nerve centre, are busy re-energising the party committees down to the unit level of which at least 30% has become defunct. To begin with, the party has planned a series of showdowns in front of the Legislative Assembly and Parliament in August. "We are now holding party committee meetings at various levels, organising protests at local levels. We will hit the streets after the monsoon. Prior to that the party will hold a three-day meet at Alimuddin Street beginning August 20 to identify the issues and chart out our future course," says CPM state secretariat member Gautam Deb.

But that's easier said than done. After such a long stint in power, the Bengal CPM still could not mobilise public opinion on issues like abnormal price rise - this, despite falling field prices of vegetables, even paddy. People do not take the official Left line seriously on these things anymore. "The CPM's legacy of mass movement became blunt long ago with its desperate overtures to continue in power. The party identified some of these factors in 2010 after the Left debacle in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. But we could not engage with the masses. We need to begin from scratch," a senior CPM state committee member said.

Perceptions vary over what course the strategy should now take. For instance, a minor section in Alimuddin Street still hopes to gain by targetting the Mamata Banerjee government, telling people the goodies that the Left Front government handed out. Others, however, want the party to build movements against the "anti-people policies" of the Congress-led UPA government and "expose Mamata Banerjee's double standards."

With the organised movements in factories and tea gardens becoming weak, and the Left students' movement losing its sheen, the CPM is confronted with the phenomenon of identity politics - in the Darjeeling Hills as well as the plains. "We do not expect to regain support in the Hills in the near future. At the same time, our party can't associate itself with Bengali chauvinist organisations such as Amra Bangali in Siliguri. We have to try and address the concerns of all ethnic populations and nationalities such as Nepali, Rajbanshi, Lepcha, Bhutia," says CPM state committee member and former minister Asok Bhattacharya.

Former land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Molla feels that the Left movement in Bengal can't revive without broadening its fold. "The Left Front made history. But this formula won't work if we can't expand the Left family and come out of our old practice," he says. In tatters and demoralized, it will take a while before the comrades can come out of the pit they have dug themselves into.

Petro Chem ministry reviews PCPIR scheme

Anindita Dey / Mumbai
Business Standard, June 17, 2011, 2:18 IST

The department of petrochemicals at the Centre has started a review of its flagship scheme, the Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Regions (PCPIR).

Officials said the ministry aimed at creating a window for government funding support and had proposed this to the Planning Commission. It is evaluating the scope of budgetary funding into these projects, apart from the specified mode of VGF (viability gap funding and through public private partnership (PPP).

A committee of the ministry has proposed government grants in the form of gross budgetary support or tax breaks for investors coming into the zone. PCPIR is the flagship scheme of the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers, with approved investments worth Rs 1,54,512 crore in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.

Under the extant project guidelines, there is no budgetary support and the entire funding is to be done by the participants, which includes a government petrochemical public sector undertaking (PSU) as anchor investor. The VGF scheme provides financial support in the form of grants, one-time or deferred, to infrastructure projects undertaken through PPPs.

The review follows sluggish growth in the projected investment inflow into the various projects of the PCPIR zones approved across India. The ministry met state government reprentatives and have asked for inputs to modify the scheme so as to attract investment in the PCPIR zones.

Officials said a major reason for the slow inflow was recession in various parts of the world. Various state governments extended infrastructure support but very few have offered tangible funding help, apart from Gujarat, till date. Gujarat has notified the PCPIR under the rules for special investment zones and thus extended several tax-related advantages to incoming investors into its Bharuch PCPIR.

The ministry has also taken the initiative of organising major trade fairs in Europe and Latin American countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Mexico to attract foreign investment.

Till date, the Bharuch PCPIR in Gujarat has received Rs 70,000 crore of investments and the state government has completed 60-70 per cent of land development. Petronet LNG is setting up a 1,200 Mw power plant. ONGC Petro Additionals Ltd, a joint venture of ONGC and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation, is the main anchor investor, with committed project investment of Rs 16,400 crore.

The investments are for a Rs 13,000-crore multi-feed petrochemical cracker and Rs 3,400-crore carbon extraction unit.

The newly approved PCPIR for Tamil Nadu, at Cuddalore and Nagapattinam, has received government support of Rs 5,120 crore. This will be part of investments in external infrastructure of Rs 13,800 crore, over and above an estimated investment of Rs 99,750 crore.The Visakhapatnam and East Godavari PCPIR in Andhra Pradesh has attracted additional investment of Rs 9,600 crore, apart from investment commitment of Rs 73,000 crore through its main or anchor investors — a consortium of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and GMR. The state government has committed Rs 2,132 crore for developing physical infrastructure, followed by Rs 10,565 crore from private parties and another Rs 6,334 crore through PPP.

Similarly, for the newly approved Orissa PCPIR at Paradeep, the anchor investor, Indian Oil Corporation, is setting up a 15-million tonne per annum refinery, likely to be commissioned in March 2012, at a cost of Rs 29,777 crore. The PCPIR is expected to attract total investment of Rs 2,77,734 crore.

World Bank report lauds Bengal for development in Ganga basin

NEW DELHI: Critics of the Left Front in West Bengal may have blamed its 34-year rule for underdevelopment there, but a World Bank report has commended the state for growth and poverty reduction in the Ganga basin.

The World Bank report on the river Ganga, however, said other basin states -- Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand -- are hit by a "disproportionately high incidence of income poverty" and lagging in development and eradication of poverty.

"These basin states have a disproportionately high incidence of income poverty and, with the exception of West Bengal, have generally lagged in growth and poverty reduction," World Bank's Project Appraisal Document on National Ganga River Basin said.

According to the report, the Ganga basin is the most populous in the world, with more than 400 million people in India alone.

"It accounts for 25 per cent of India's water resources, and the five states on its mainstream are home to more than 50 per cent of the poor people in the country," it said.

The report said the Ganga basin exemplifies a typical "hydraulic civilisation", where achieving water security to harness the river's productive potential and limit its destructive potential is critical for sustenance and economic growth.

The report was made public last week after the government signed a $1 billion loan agreement with the World Bank for cleaning the river, which is seriously polluted and under extreme environmental stress.

PTI , Jun 19, 2011, 10.28am IST

Bengal LF Memo to PM

Date: 25 August 2011

Memorandum Submitted to The Prime Minister By the
Left Front Committee, West Bengal on August 25, 2011

Dr. Mammohan Singh
Hon’ble Prime Minister
Government of India
South Block, Raisina Hill
New Delhi 110 101

Dear Prime Minister,

At the very outset, we would like to thank you for sparing some of your valuable time from your busy schedule and having agreed to meet the delegation as undersigned.

We have met the Hon’ble Governor of West Bengal on 16.05.2011 and on 12.08.2011 to apprise him of the reign of terror unleashed by All India Trinamul Congress (AITC) following the declaration of the last Assembly Election results in West Bengal. In this connection, a delegation from the Left Front Legislature party in West Bengal also met the Hon’ble Chief Minister on 03.06.2011. Since then, the Leader of the Opposition has written six letters to the Chief Minister which proved abortive as there has been escalation of terror and violent attacks in the State.

We are fully aware that the Law & Order as presently prevailing in the State is primarily under the jurisdiction of the State Government. However, in the background of recent developments of the Left Wing Extremists’ (LWEs) affected areas in the southern part of the State and in the Hills, Dooars, Terrai and adjoining areas in North Bengal, the present state of unrest distrust exist among the different linguistic people are jeopardising the spirit and unity, integrity and harmony in these sensitive area. We firmly believe that the Union Government can not afford to be a silent spectator in a situation like this.

The Left Front Government, when it was in office, fully agreed with your assessment of the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) as the greatest danger to the internal security of the country. There had been remarkable success in confronting this menace by the co-ordinated actions of the Central and State Governments by successful use of the joint forces. Unfortunately, the new Government in the State has completely reversed this stand, thereby giving the LWEs a freehand to regroup and expand their area of operation much beyond what had existed ever before. The State Administration, while keeping the joint forces idle, has concentrated its offensive against the leaders and workers of CPI(M) in particular and those of the Left Front parties in general, who had been at the fore-front of the political, ideological and developmental process, in a word, multiform battle against the self-styled “Maoist”. Even the present ruling parties of the State are unable to carry out their political activities in those areas. Even the adjoining States have complained against the inaction of the West Bengal Government in this regard.

The way the tripartite agreement has been signed on the problems of the Hills keeping the opposition and, we believe, the PCC in West Bengal, in dark, will further complicate the situation there. Keeping on record the demand of Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) for a separate State of ‘Gorkhaland’ and opening a Pandora’s Box by providing a High Power Committee to explore the possibilities for inclusion of new areas, from Dooars, Terrai and Plains in the proposed Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). These are clear departures from the understanding arrived at the tripartite meetings held when the Left Front Government was in the office. We believe, you will agree, that this will lead to discontent, particularly among the tribal and other people of the Dooars, Terrai and Plains and resultantly will destabilize the situation in these sensitive areas. In view of the situation which has developed there may be threat to the security of the country.

In the situation stated above we are compelled to seek redressal of our grievances from your honour. A complied report of Post-poll violence unleashed on the Left in this State as on 15.08.2011 is annexed herewith for your kind perusal and necessary intervention. As summary of this report reveals that 30 Left Front leaders and workers [CPI(M) : 28, RSP : 2] have been killed and 7 more were abetted to commit suicide during this period; 684 women were assaulted physically, 508 molested and 23 raped; 3785 persons had to be hospitalized for the treatment of injuries suffered by them and many more were forced not to lodge complaint and seek hospital treatment. There had been 2064 number of arson and looting of houses and 14081 persons were evicted from their place of living. Around 40,000 in total had to leave their home under threat. To buy peace and stay in their home, people have been forced to pay money to the local AITC leaders and workers. According to a conservative estimate, total extortion amount thus paid might exceed Rs. 277.7 million. 758 Party, Trade Union and other Mass Organisation offices were either attacked, ransacked, burnt, forced to close or captured. 77 Student Union offices have been captured. Their office-bearers have been driven out, some of them forced to resign and even others denied to appear for their Exams. There has been a widespread attack on the rights of the peasantry where by 3418 Ryots were denied the right to cultivate their own lands amounting 9222.73 acres. Besides 26838 number of Patta holders and Share croppers have been forcibly evicted from 9222.02 acres of Patta and Barga lands. While Maoist and KLO militants are promised to be released as political prisoners, thousands of Left Front activists have been implicated in false cases on fabricated grounds including those instituted on the plea of so-called recovery of arms. Even the Left Party organs have not been spared. 241 Boards displaying Ganashakti daily in public have been dismantled and thousands of its copies have been burnt and the hawkers have been beaten up in order to disrupt its circulation chain.

All democratic institutions, the Panchayats, Municipalities, Co-operatives, different elected bodies of educational institutions have been made defunct either by attacks, intimidations or Government fiats. Even in certain areas teachers, non-teaching staffs and students are not allowed to enter their institutions.

The State is in unrest. The districts affected by the terror unleashed by AITC, the Jangalmahal now made a sanctuary for the ‘Maoists’, the mounting tension in the Hills, Terrai, Dooars and the adjoining plain in the North are glaring examples. Basic democratic rights of all sections of the people of the state are under threat. Even the INC, the partner of the ruling coalition, is not spared from these attacks. Even armed conflicts between the different factions of AITC are taking place. Anarchy has come to prevail over the rule of law. People of the state can not be expected to remain a silent spectator in this situation for long.

We sincerely request you to take immediate remedial measures to restore peace and normalcy in the State.

With regards,
Yours truly,

Biman Basu
Left Front Committee, West Bengal

Left Front Parties:

1. Communist Party of India (Marxist)
2. All India Forward Block
3. Revolutionary Socialist Party
4. Communist Party of India
5. Samajwadi Party
6. Democratic Socialist Party
7. Marxist Forward Block
8. Revolutionary Communist Party of India
9. Biplabi Bangla Congress
10. Workers’ Party

Bengal Violence Aimed at Demobilising the Left: Yechury

Hyderabad, June 11, 2011

THE ongoing violence against the CPI(M) in West Bengal is not a routine political rivalry related violence. It is a systematic violence aimed at demobilising the Left in the state by eliminating key cadre who form the link of the party with the masses.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury stated this in Hyderabad on June 12 while releasing a CPI(M) Publications booklet titled Attack on Democratic Rights in West Bengal. He told how 12 CPI(M) cadre and leaders were killed since the assembly election results on May 13, taking the total number of killings of Left cadre to over 380 since the last Lok Sabha polls.

The present violence has a parallel with the 1970s white terror and therefore all democratic forces in the country must realise that democracy itself is in danger once again. The 1970s violence culminated in the imposition of internal emergency in the country, reminded Yechury. Today it is the Left that is under attack and tomorrow it could be all if the present authoritarian trends are allowed to flourish, felt the CPI(M) leader. “All those who cherish democracy must come together to strengthen democracy by not allowing such violence to continue,” he asserted. In this context he welcomed the INTUC’s all-India chief writing a letter to chief minister Mamata Banarjee asking her to stop the attacks on trade union offices in Bengal.

Yechury also released a book brought out by Prajasakti Book House, The People's Marx, written by Julian Borchardt. He said that in the background of current global financial crisis, Marxism has become more relevant and is being read more widely. Such books would help in understanding the inherent crises of capitalism. Yechury felt the global financial crisis is deepening as is evident from the sharp fall in employment in US.

CPI(M) state secretariat member Y Venkateshwara Rao and Prajashakti Book House director S Srinivas were present on the occasion.