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Feb 04, 2013, 08.44 AM IST | Source: PTI

Wal-Mart continues lobbying in US for India entry

Amid a probe being initiated into Wal-Mart's US lobbying with regard to its India entry, the global retail giant has continued to lobby with the American lawmakers on this issue, as also others, and spent a total amount of USD 6.13 million on the same during 2012.

Amid a probe being initiated into Wal-Mart's US lobbying with regard to its India entry, the global retail giant has continued to lobby with the American lawmakers on this issue, as also others, and spent a total amount of USD 6.13 million on the same during 2012. As per the latest Congressional records of lobbying disclosure reports, the US-based Wal-Mart Stores spent a total amount of USD 1.48 million (about Rs eight crore) on lobbying for various issues, including on "discussions related to FDI in India", during the last quarter ended December 31, 2012.

This has taken the total lobbying bill of the company for entire 2012 to USD 6.13 million (about Rs 33 crore), the lobbying disclosure records available with the US Senate show. Wal-Mart has been lobbying with the US lawmakers on dozens of issues every quarter, whose disclosures it is mandatorily required to make under the American regulations. Recently, the Indian government initiated a probe into the lobbying activities by Wal-Mart in the US for gaining access to Indian market, after disclosures about these activities caused a furore and a political debate in India.

The company has, however, maintained that these disclosures have nothing to do with political or governmental contacts with India government officials and they only show that Wal-Mart's business interest in India was discussed with the US government officials along with many more other topics. Wal-Mart has been waiting for years to open its supermarkets in India and it has been lobbying with the US lawmakers since at least 2008 to facilitate its entry into the highly lucrative Indian market.

Its total bill on these activities has now crossed USD 34 million (about Rs 180 crore) since 2008, which has been incurred on account of lobbying for more than 50 issues every quarter, including the issues related to "enhanced market access for investment in India".

Also Read: Wal-Mart studying India's investment conditions

Bitkuli was selected on a priority basis as majority of people of the village, who were from marginal sections, were poor and lacked resources and knowledge. Being the last village of the Bilha block of the district, the socio-economic status of the community was miserable, Anupam said. Initially the people took charge to deepen the dam and ensured smooth supply of water to fields through constructing various drainage channels.

"We also turned the flow of rainwater from hill top towards the dam so that maximum amount of water could be conserved," he said. The villagers were involved in deepening the dam and very soon their efforts bore fruit and amount of water in dam increased, which automatically started supporting irrigation while soil erosion was also greatly reduced in the village. Over the last five years, another big pond and nine farm ponds have been dug in Bitkuli.

Also Read: Govt to set up committee to probe Walmart issue: Pilot

Besides these, a community tube well was also installed here. As a result, the moisture holding capacity of the soil rose, increasing its fertility and helping recharge ground water. Now that water is easily available, farmers in the region enjoy two harvests in a year. They grow rain-fed crops like paddy during the monsoon, and gram, pulses and vegetables during the other months. In addition, the self help groups and village development has also started fish rearing.

Besides, several farmers have started organic farming as productivity of land has been increased. "The farmers now have more money in their pockets, thanks to the second harvest," Gulabi Sarathi said. Now, the crop yield per acre has increased by four-six quintal, money lending decreased, migration completely stopped and it has turned Bitkuli into a "model village," Anupam said. SYM has also established a demo-cum-learning agricultural centre (Kisan Pathshala) for regular demonstration for the community and sustainability of the project.

Also Read: US lawmakers release documents on Walmart bribery charges

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