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Super User

12th June 2014
 
Dear Shri Pradhan Ji,
 
Hopefully, you are kindly aware of the fact that the State-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), with the approval of its Board of Directors, has approached the Delhi High Court complaining theft of natural gas from its Bay of Bengal block by the Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL). It is said that RIL is not only pumping gas from its own entitled field, but also from those of ONGC’s reservoir positioned much closed to the common boundary of the blocks in Krishna-Godavari basin to the tune of 18 billion cubic metres of natural gas worth Rs.30, 000 crore since 2009.
 
By analyzing relevant data & other materials, ONGC found that some of RIL’s wells drilled adjacent to the boundary block have been drawing gas from its (ONGC) field and hence chose to sue the RIL in order to protect its commercial interest and natural resources of the country.
 
This situation, as the petition indicated, would have been avoided, had the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) been vigilant while clearing RIL’s field development plan involving drilling of wells at the close proximity of nearly 50 to 350 metres from the common boundary of the blocks with ONGC. As per ONGC petition in the High Court, the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas and RIL did not adhere to the globally-accepted mechanism stipulated in the production-sharing contract signed by Ministry and RIL for block KG-DWN-98/3.
 
As per report in the print media, “Documents with The Indian Express show that the Exploration Division of the Ministry was regularly appraised of the joint meetings between RIL and ONGC conducted by DGH on sharing geological and geophysical data of their blocks KG-DWN-98/3, and G-4 Godavari and KG-DWN-98/2 blocks. DGH was regularly informing the Joint Secretary (Exploration) who is also on the Board of Directors on ONGC.”
 
ONGC had approached the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) long back with a request to share production and well data of KG-D6 field for analyzing if the reservoir of the neighbouring field has same and continuous gas pool. But, it has been pointed out that, “the watchdog failed to take steps to prevent such a situation, resulting in a loss of crores of rupees to ONGC.” On the other hand, it has also been alleged that the government had not followed the internationally accepted global norm for joint development that had been provided for in the Production Sharing Contract (PSC).
                                      
Under the circumstances there is strong reason to believe that ONGC has been rather forced to approach the Court of Law against RIL after failing to prevent the loss of huge revenue by resolving the issue amicably through every possible manners including intervention of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.  On the contrary in the absence of such step it would have amounted to grave omission on the part of the Maharatna Oil PSU to act to safeguard interest of the nation.
 
In the meantime, it is shocking to note that motivated interpretation of the whole episode is floated and wild allegations against ONGC are being hurled by vested interest with the intention to derail the whole rightful approach of ONGC.  I request you to please ensure that interest of the Government exchequer and commercial right of ONGC is fought at all cost and any motivated ploy by the vested interests is defeated.
 
Latest status of case may be shared please.
 
With regards,

Yours sincerely,
( TAPAN SEN )

Shri Dharmendra Pradhan,
Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas (Independent Charge)
Government of India,
Shastri Bhawan
New Delhi

The Finance Minister of Govt of India called all the Central Trade Unions for  pre-budget consultation meeting  which was held on 6th June 2014. All the Central Trade Unions have submitted a joint memorandum to Finance Minister detailing  the  burning issues facing the working people of the country and the suggestions of the trade unions to address  the same in the process of budgetary exercise. 

The meeting was attended by Shri Arun Jailley, Finance Minister, Ms Nirmala Sitaraman, Minister of State for Finance along with Secretaries of Finance Ministry as well as Labour Ministry. The Central Trade Unions were represented by B N Rai and Mr Upadhyay (BMS), Chandraprakash Singh and Shantakumar(INTUC), Amarjeet Kaur and D L Sachdeva(AITUC) Sharad Rao and Harbhajan Singh Sidhu(HMS), Tapan Sen and Swadesh Dev Roye (CITU), Sankar Saha (AIUTUC), Abani Roy (UTUC), S P Tewari (TUCC), Mr  Sammugham (LPF), Santosh Roy (AICCTU) among others.

Tapan Sen, General Secretary, CITU, while presenting the trade unions’ views before the Finance Minister pointed out that the joint memorandum by all the central trade unions in the country reflects the serious concerns of the working people of the country in its entirety who create GDP for the country, resources for the country’s exchequer and also profit for the employer. Both in its contents and essence,  trade unions’ joint memorandum urges upon the Govt for bringing about a directional change away from the path of deregulation, privatization, promoting  price-rise of essential commodities for facilitating speculation, patronization of systematic deliberate default in tax-payment by the big-business and corporate houses, state-sponsored and patronized violations of all basic labour laws on Minimum Wages, Social Security, trade union rights, safety in workplaces, mass-scale contractorisation etc  and reckless opening of strategic and sensitive sectors of the national economies including public utilities for exploitation by foreign companies and speculators etc. The same set of policies have been followed by the previous Congress led Govt-all in the name of promoting employment generating investment from private sector, both domestic and foreign to facilitate growth and employment creation,  which finally landed the country in deeper economic crisis, aggravation of unemployment and joblosses, fuelling price-rise and widespread impoverishment and dwindling growth rates. The urgent need of the hour is a directional change in policy regime in the form of a complete ban on speculation in commodity market and universalisation of PDS, augmenting public investment in agriculture,  infrastructure and public utilities, strengthening and empowering  of public sectors units in strategic and sensitive sectors of economy including financial sector, energy, defence,  and natural resources and complete stoppage of all disinvestment and privatization moves and concrete steps and budgetary support for revival of sick but potentially viable PSUs, Tapan Sen asserted. It was also pointed out that all the central trade unions have been jointly struggling pressing for their ten-point demands and on many of them there has already been a consensus at tripartite forums including in the successive Indian Labour Conferences till 2013. Issues of consensus are formulation of Minimum Wage (which should be at present price level should not be less than Rs 15000/-), universlisation of social security including pension, regularization of all scheme workers in anganwadi, mid-day-meal, ASHA, sarb-siksha aviyan, child-labour projects and similar other centrally funded schemes, same wage and benefits  for the contract workers in line with regular workers etc. Sen demanded that the central budget must make provisions for at least for meeting the demands, on which there have been general consensus at the highest  tripartite level (comprising all governments, trade unions and employers’ organizations)  like Indian Labour Conference for the sake of propriety and fairness.

The Finance Minister, thanked the trade union representatives for their suggestions and submissions.     

Text of the joint memorandum is reproduced below:

CENTRAL TRADE UNIONS JOINT MEMORANDUM TO FINANCE MINISTER

6th June 2014
The Hon’ble Minister of Finance,
Govt. of India,
North Block,
New Delhi    

Dear Sir,

We welcome you over your takeover as Finance Minister of the new Govt. formed on verdict of the people of India and thank you for having invited the Central Trade Unions representing the most important stake holder, the working men and women of this country, in both organized as well as unorganized sector, to this pre-budget consultations.

We wish that our candid observations, considered views and concrete proposals are taken in the right spirit and responded with all seriousness and given appropriate reflections in the ensuing budget 2014-15.

Our proposals:

Some of these specific proposals have time and again been placed by us in various policy making fora including the earlier pre-budget consultations. However, we would like to reiterate them, urging  your positive response:

•    Take effective measures to arrest the spiraling price rise and to contain inflation; Ban speculative forward trading in commodities; Universalise and strengthen the Public Distribution System; Ensure proper check on hoarding; Rationalise, with a view to reduce the burden on people, the tax/duty/cess on petroleum products.


•    There must be massive investment in the infrastructure in order to stimulate the economy for job creation. It is our considered view that the Public sector should take the leading role in this regard. The plan & non-plan expenditure should be increased in the budget to stimulate jobs creation and guarantee consistent income to people.


•    Minimum wage linked to Consumer Price Index must be guaranteed to all workers, taking into consideration the recommendations of the 15th Indian Labour Conference as enriched by Apex Court of the country as reiterated in 44th ILC in 2012. In any case, it should not be less than Rs.15,000/- p.m.


•    FDI should not be allowed in crucial sectors like defence production, telecommunications, Railways, financial sector, retail trade, education, health and media.


•    The public sector units played a crucial role during the year of severe contraction of private capital investment immediately following the outbreak of global financial crisis. PSUs should be strengthened and expanded. Disinvestment of shares of profit making public sector units should be stopped forthwith. Budgetary support should be given for revival of potentially viable Sick CPSUs.


•    In view of huge joblosses and mounting unemployment problem, the ban on recruitment in Govt. deptts, PSUs and autonomous institutions (including recent Finance Ministry’s instruction to abolish those posts not filled for one year) should be lifted as recommended by 43rd Session of Indian Labour Conference. Condition of surrender of posts in govt. departments and PSUs should be scrapped and new posts be created keeping in view the new work and increased workload.


•    Proper allocation of funds be also made for interim relief and 7th Pay Commission.


•    The scope of MGNREGA be extended to agriculture operations and urban areas as well and employment for minimum period of 200 days with guaranteed statutory wage be provided, as unanimously recommended by 43rd Session of Indian Labour Conference.


•    The massive workforce engaged in ICDS, Mid-day meal scheme, Vidya volunteers, Guest Teachers, Siksha Mitra, the workers engaged in the Accredited Social Health Activities (ASHA) and other schemes be regularized. No to privatization of centrally funded schemes. Universalisation of ICDS be done as per Supreme Court directions by making adequate budgetary allocations.


•    Steps be taken for removal of all restrictive provisions based on poverty line in respect of eligibility coverage of the schemes under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act 2008 and allocation of adequate resources for the National Fund for Unorganised Workers to provide for Social Security to all unorganized workers including the contract/casual and migrant workers in line with the recommendations of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and also the 43rd Session of Indian Labour Conference.


•    Remunerative Prices should be ensured for the agricultural produce and Govt. investment public investment in agriculture sector must be substantially augmented as a proportion of GDP and total budgetary expenditure. It should also be ensured that benefits of the increase reach the small, marginal and medium cultivators only;


•    Budgetary provision should be made for providing essential services including housing, public transport, sanitation, water, schools, crèche health care etc. to workers in the new emerging industrial areas. Working women’s hostels should be set up where there is a concentration of women workers.


•    Requisite budgetary support for addressing crisis in traditional sectors like Jute, Textiles, Plantation, Handloom, Carpet and Coir etc.


•    Budgetary provision for elementary education should be increased, particularly in the context of the implementation of the ‘Right to Education’ as this is the most effective tool to combat child labour.


•    The system of computation of Consumer Price Index should be reviewed as the present index is causing heavy financial loss to the workers.


•    Income Tax exemption ceiling for the salaried persons should be raised to Rs.5 lakh per annum and fringe benefits like housing, medical and educational facilities and running allowances should be exempted from the income tax net in totality.


•    Threshold limit of 20 employees in EPF Scheme be brought down to 10 as recommended by CBT-EPF. Pension benefits under EPS unilaterally withdrawn by the Govt. should be restored. Govt. and Employers contribution be increased to allow sustainability of Employees Pension Scheme and for provision of minimum pension of Rs.3000/- p.m.


•    New Pension Scheme be withdrawn and newly recruited employees of central and state govts on or after 1.1.2004 be covered under Old Pension Scheme;


•    Demand for Dearness Allowance merger by Central Govt. and PSUs employees be accepted and adequate allocation of fund for this be made in the budget;


•    All interests and social security of the domestic workers to be statutorily protected on the lines of the ILO Convention on domestic workers.


•    The Cess Management of the construction workers is the responsibility of the Finance Ministry under the Act and the several irregularities found in collection of cess be rectified as well as their proper utilization must be ensured.

In regard to resource mobilization, we would like to emphasize the following:

•    A progressive taxation system should be put in place to ensure taxing the rich and the affluent sections who have the capacity to pay at a higher degree. The corporate service sector, traders, wholesale business, private hospitals and institutions etc. should be brought under broader and higher tax net. Increase taxes on luxury goods and reduce indirect taxes on essential commodities as at present the overwhelming majority of the populations are subjected to Indirect taxes that constitute 86% of the revenue.


•    Concrete steps must be taken to recover huge accumulated unpaid tax arrears which has already crossed more than Rs.5 lakh crore on direct and corporate tax account alone, and has been increasing at a geometric proportion. Such huge tax-evasion over and above the liberal tax concessions already given in the last two budgets should not be allowed to continue.


•    Effective measures should be taken to unearth huge accumulation of black money in the economy including the huge unaccounted money in tax heavens abroad and within the country. Finance Minister should make provisions to bring back the illicit flows from India which are at present more than twice the current external debt of US $ 230 billion. This money should be directed towards providing social security.


•    Concrete measures be expedited for recovering the NPAs of the banking system from the willfully defaulting corporate and business houses. By making provision in Banking Regulations Act, CMDs and Executives to be made accountable for creation of NPAs.


•    Tax on Long term capital gains to be introduced; so also higher taxes on the security transactions to be levied.


•    The rate of wealth tax, corporate tax, gift tax etc. to be expanded and enhanced.


•    ITES, outsourcing sector, Educational Institutions and Health Services etc. run on commercial basis should be brought under Service Tax net. Govt.


•    Small saving instruments under postal and other agencies be encouraged by incentivizing  commission agents of these scheme


OUR SERIOUS CONCERN:

We would like to express our strong resentment that the previous Govt. failed to positively respond to the collective voice of the Central Trade Unions on the very important issues concerning the working people of India, both organized and unorganized, consistently repeated in the form of a ‘10 point charter’ backed by several collective nationwide programmes. We expect that this Govt. will take initiative to discuss these issues with the Central Trade Unions in order to find a solution.

We also express our opposition to the so called Banking Reforms encouraging private sector/capitalists banking at the cost of public sector banks which saved the economy to an extent during the last global financial meltdown. We also oppose increase in limit of FDI and disinvestment of equity in insurance sector and FDI in pension. We strongly oppose the FDI in Defence and Retail Sector. Several such measures against the working men and women in this country including anti workers proposals contained in the New Manufacturing Policy have our strong opposition, as in our experience these kinds of measures have helped the growth of only a small section of the capitalists while the larger sections of the working population continue to be marginalized and impoverished.

POST BUDGET MEETING WITH TRADE UNIONS:

Successive Finance Ministers have agreed to hold post budget meetings / consultations with the central trade unions. However, it has not been materialized except for one occasion. We understand such meetings did take place with the Corporate Associations/Employers Federations. We would like to importunate upon you to arrange such post budget meeting with trade unions also.

With regards,
Yours sincerely,
           


B N Rai    Chandrapraksh Singh      D L Sachadeva     Harbhajan Singh    Tapan Sen
  BMS                       INTUC                          AITUC                        HMS                      CITU



Sankar Saha    S P Tewari        sd/-      Santosh Roy         Abani Roy    Sammugham   
    AIUTUC            TUCC          SEWA         AICCTU               UTUC                 LPF   

 

Press Release       

31st May 2014



It is reported in the media, that a circular has been issued by EPFO, stating that employers paying Provident Contributions to their employees can limit their contributions to the salary limit of Rs.6500 per month.    It is reported that the clarification is on the basis of a Supreme Court judgment in 2011.  What prompted the EPFO to issue a circular now after such a long time is not known.    CITU demands that this should no way result in curtailing the existing benefits  in the matter of PF contribution of employer which the employees in various private and public sector enterprises are now getting.    In this context, CITU wants to point out that the Govt. has not yet implemented the decision of CBT to increase the salary limit to Rs.15,000 per month for PF contribution which was to be implemented from 1st April 2014.  The decision to increase the wage ceiling and  and also to increase the minimum pension to Rs.1000 per month was unanimously taken by Central Board of Trustees and approved by Cabinet in February 2014.    CITU while demanding immediate implementation of increased ceiling and minimum pension of Rs.1000, also demands that the circular of EPFO should not lead to curtailment of existing benefits to any worker.                                  

 Issued by
( A K PADMANABHAN )
President


Press Release                                 

30th May 2014

CITU OPPOSES MOVE FOR
 ALLOWING 100% FDI IN DEFENCE PRODUCTION
 FOR DISINVESTMENT/PRIVATISATION OF PSUs

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) strongly opposes Modi government’s move, as reported by the media, for allowing 100% FDI in defence sector. Such move is totally detrimental to the interests of the indigenous defence production network, mainly under government departments and PSUs, and also to national security-management and preparedness. Such move would also directly provoke disinvestment/privatization of the Defence PSUs and Ordinance factories establishment via corporatization route which could so long be successfully resisted by the united trade union movement in the country as well as all the defence sector federations including those having allegiance with the political party in power.   

The CITU also expresses its deep concern and strong opposition to the overzealous drive of the government to push through disinvestment of shares in highly profit-making PSUs, mostly in the strategic, infrastructure and natural resources sector of the economy. As reported by the press, the Government has reportedly taken up as their priority agenda for off-loading government’s residual stakes at aluminum major BALCO and also expediting disinvestment in other blue-chip PSUs already shortlisted by the disinvestment department of the previous Government.   

CITU urges the Government to take serious note of the unanimous opposition of the working people of the country, who actually creates GDP for the country as well as resources for the national exchequer to such disastrous exercises of disinvestment and privatization and unrestricted FDI. Such opposition has been voiced through numerous agitations by the united platform of the entire trade union movement in the country irrespective of affiliations and political allegiances during last five years.

CITU demands of the Government to restrain itself from such moves which are detrimental to the interests of the people as well as of the national economy; and calls upon the trade unions and working people to unitedly voice their opposition and put up resistance to such disastrous moves.  

Issued by

( TAPAN SEN )
General Secretary

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 09:52

Condolence Comrade R Umanath

21st May 2014
                                                                                                                

COMRADE R UMANATH

CITU deeply mourns the demise of Comrade R Umanath, a veteran freedom-fighter, stalwart of the working class movement and of communist movement of the country who passed away on 21st May 2014 at around 7-15 am at Tiruchirapally after prolonged illness at the age of 93.  

A life-long revolutionary, over seven decades of political and public life, right from his school days at Kozhicode; Comrade Umanath was a frontline organizer and leader braving atrocities, attacks and imprisonment during both, British rule and independent India. His entire life is a commentary of struggle and sacrifice for the cause of the country and its toiling people. Altogether he was imprisoned for nine and half years and underground life for seven years.

He joined the communist movement in his early young age as a whole-timer in 1940 to work in the-then Madras Presidency area despite pressing family obligation. In 1940s itself he was arrested by the British rulers and convicted for two and half years’ imprisonment. After his release from jail, he started working among textile, cement and beedi workers in Coimbatore area and among railway workers in Tiruchirapally in Tamilnadu organizing them in trade unions and led numerous strike struggles. He played frontline role in various capacities in building and leading the working class movement in Tamilnadu and also in other parts of the country. In early post independence period, the Left movement and the trade union movement had to face tremendous atrocities and attacks of hired goons and the police.  

Comrade Umanath was one of the founders of CITU and was elected as the first General Secretary of the Tamilnadu CITU in 1970 and continued in that position till 1993 when became its state President till 1996. He was the national vice president of CITU From 1987 to 2010.

He was elected to the Central Committee of CPI(M) in 1978 and became its Polit Bureau member in 1991 and continued as PB member till Kozhikode Congress in 2012, where he was elected as a special invitee to the central committee. He was elected to Lok Sabha in 1962 and 1967 from Pudukottai in Tamilnadu and in the Tamilnadu State Legislatiure from Nagapattinam in 1977 and was re-elected in 1980.

Comrade Umanath had always remained concerned for inculcating revolutionary consciousness among the workers and activists of trade union movement considering the leading role of the working class in fighting and ending the exploitative regime. During his work at CITU Centre in the late eighties and early nineties, Comrade Umanath contributed valuable inputs in formulating the organizational document of CITU which is popularly known as Bhubaneswar Document.

At his demise, the working class movement lost a great leader and guide.  CITU Secretariat pays deep respectful homage to, recalls the great contribution and legacy of and salutes comrade Umanath and conveys heartfelt condolence to the bereaved comrades and family members of the departed leader.

      Tapan Sen 
 General Secretary

The CITU associated with eleven industry-wise federations operating in India. They are:

1) Steel Workers Federation of India
2) All India Plantation Workers’ Federation
3) Water Transport Workers’ Federation of India
4) All India Coal Workers’ Federation
5) Construction Workers Federation of India
6) All India Road Transport Workers Federation
7) Electricity Employees Federation of India
8) Sugar Workers’ Federation of India
9) All India Jute Workers Federation
10) All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers
11) All India Beedi Workers Federation.

Besides these CITU affiliated Industrial Federations, there are a number of Industry-wise Federations functioning in the country in various important industrial sectors, service sectors and Government sectors like Insurance, Banking, Oil and Petroleum, Chemical Fertilizer, Defence Production, Pharmaceutical Production & Marketing, Confederations of Central Government Employees, Federation of State Government Employees which are not affiliated with any central trade union but represent hundreds of thousands of workers. These Federations participate and contribute in big strength in the struggles of the working class in the country. Now amongst the leadership of these Federations there are important leaders who function in close coordination with CITU and these Federations are thus having close intimate organisational relations with CITU and hence can also be reckoned for counting the overall influence of CITU in the trade union movement of the country.

It is important to mention that the CITU has effective organisational presence in all the major industrial and service sectors in the country through different organisational structure apart from the federations noted above. The major sectors may be identified as Coal, Electricity, Steel, Heavy Engineering, Construction, Electronics, Oil & Natural Gas – production, refining and marketing, Petrochemicals, Fertilisers, Pharmaceuticals, Rail, Road, Air & Water Transport, Port & Docks, Telecommunications, Textile, Financial & other service sectors, Plantation etc.

The CITU’s understanding and perception about the whole idea of industry-wise all India federations has been to develop a unified common understanding on the approach and outlook and also to develop an organisation of the workers of the particular industry, on the basis of which a stronger countrywide movement can be launched. Further such Federations can play in developing the level of industry-wise countrywide consciousness of the workers of the respective industries and also address problem of uneven organisational development within the industry.

Our industry-wise Federations have played very important role in building up united struggles in different industries. CITU’s strength has considerably increased among the mass of the workers in the industries including the core and strategic ones.. CITU’s initiative have become much more pronounced in formulating the line and strategies of united struggles in different industry-wise struggles. Today any major industry-level united struggles cannot be even conceived of without active initiative and participation of CITU.

Some of the Federations working in public sector undertakings have recognised status in bipartite wage negotiations committee. They have also ties of friendship with several foreign trade unions working in their respective industries and participate in international T.U conference.

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02.05.2014

It is reported that the State Bank of India (SBI) has signed up Reliance Money Infrastructure (RMIL), an Anil Arnbani Group company, in a 'business correspondent' deal to source a range of banking services.The deal authorises RMIL to identify borrowers; collect, process, and submit loan applications; promote credit groups.take up post-sanction monitoring, follow-up, and recovery. As the service provider, RMILwill also collect small-value deposits; sell micro-insurance, mutual fund and pension products; and receive and deliver small-value remittances. According to the report the deal which was concluded onFebruary 25 this year had been made effective with retrospective effect from October 5, 2013.
This is nothing but backdoor privatization of the basic segment of the banking operation in the leading Public Sector bank like SBI-- the core area of lending, recovery and also a part of deposit collectionwork.

We fear that this strategy now started with SBI will make inroads in other nationalized banks.The outsourcing is being done to agencies controlled by the largest monopoly house which had beennamed by the CAG in a recent scam, having a clear conflict of interest striking at the root of the verypurpose of bank nationalization. Moreover, the Reserve Bank of India has blacklisted many of theservice providers engaged by AXIS BANK, HDFC BANK etc., in the recent past, mainly because these agencies breached the trust of the banks that have engaged them.

The amendment of banking regulations carried out in a UPA-NDAjoint operation inside Parliament has allowed a big number of private banks to enter into the field. The present move of outsourcing core lending cum deposit related jobs in nationalized banks is complementary to the former and the project isone of privatization of the entire banking operation and economy. This will be disastrous to the national economy, which could survive the global financial crisis primarily due to the nationalized banks. Thisalso exposes the real intent of the Congress and BJP policies in favor of corporate cliques, both domestic and foreign.

Centre of Indian Trade Unions opposes any move to privatise the Public Sectorl Banks in any form. This move must be resisted tooth and nail. The CITU extends full support and solidarity to the Bank Employees Federations in their struggle against this move. We call upon the people in general and working class in particular to oppose this atrocious move by the SBI.

Issued by,
A R SINDHU
Secretary

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