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SEZ scam accused Rane, Luizinho, Babu to go scot free after “dealing” with our land

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Team Spotlight

1)    From March 2003 to March 2008 the GIDC had allocated 1709.48 acres of land of which 949.13 acres were allocated to the SEZs.

2)    55 per cent of the land which had been allotted over 5 years by the GIDC was allotted to seven SEZs in just five months.

Panjim: After the Parrikar led government came to power, in 2012. Messers Luizinho Faleiro, the smug former Congress chief with a holier than thou dispensation and his comrade in arms Pratap Singh Rane aka Senior Rane who prides himself as a pedigreed Congressman, (whose prodigal son, Junior Vishwajeet P. Rane ditched his own party) were summoned by the Anti-Corruption Bureau for their sordid role in the SEZ scam, which makes all other assorted scams look like a teddy bears picnic

But last week the BJP-led alliance government of Mr Parrikar have decided to drop cases against the former Congress ministers and current MLAs accused in the SEZ scam – Pratapsingh Rane, Luizinho Faleiro, Chandrakant Kavlekar and former MLA Alexio Sequeira.

Goans need to be reminded of this scam and the nature of this loot and ask if these Congressmen who were booted out of power in 2012 because people perceived them as a bunch of corrupt , greedy politicians who thrived on money and family raj, should have been let off  the hook. The facts are startling

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had himself vehemently fought against the illegality and corruption of the SEZ scam, he made this scam and many more scam his election tool during the 2012 election campaign.

Even though the State did not have an SEZ policy at the time, that the areas requested were sizeable, and some of the applicants were companies that were un-registered, under-formation or new, the GIDC Board was nonetheless expeditious in processing the applications of the developers. Resolutions were passed, to allocate land to the SEZ developers, by the Board of Directors within days of receiving the applications: just one day in the case of Meditab Specialities and Peninsula Pharma. One week in case of K. Raheja, Paradigm Logistics, Planetview Mercantile and Inox Mercantile, and twelve days in case of Maxgrow Finlease.

On the issue of the land that was allotted to the SEZ developers, Meditab Specialities and Peninsula Pharma got lands that were entirely contiguous properties whereas land allotted to K. Raheja, Paradigm Logistics, Planetview Mercantile, Inox Mercantile and Maxgrow Finlease comprised of plots within Phase IV of the Verna Industrial Estate. Surprising though on the Verna Industrial Estate case; it is interesting to note that the Verna Industrial Estate was developed under the Inclusive Growth Centre Scheme (IGC) of the Union Government which intended to promote industries in backward areas by allotting land to small and medium scale units. Thus the decision to allocate land to five SEZs in the industrial estate was a deviation from the purpose for which land was originally acquired.

When considering the amount of land normally allocated by the GIDC the allocations made to the seven SEZs were sizable. From March 2003 to March 2008 the GIDC had allocated 1709.48 acres of land of which 949.13 acres were allocated to the SEZs. In other words, 55 per cent of the land which had been allotted over 5 years by the GIDC was allotted to seven SEZs in just five months.

An 86.65 Crore Fraud

In effect on account of the suspicious working of the GIDC in some cases on the instructions of the ministers in question namely the then Chief Minister of Goa Pratapsingh Rane and Minister for Industries Luizinho Faleiro including Alexio Sequeira who was the Minister for Power and a director on the GIDC Board; the Government of Goa suffered a deliberate loss Rs 86.65 crores.
In all seven cases where land was allotted to the SEZs land it was leased initially for a period of 30 years, renewable up to 95 years.

Two months prior to receiving the applications from the five SEZ developers who were allotted land in the Verna Industrial Estate the GIDC Board decided on 7th February 2006 to revise the premium rates of plots in all its 21 Industrial Estates ‘since there was tremendous increase in maintenance costs…’. Before this, the premium for plots in Phase IV of the Verna Industrial Estate was tentatively priced at Rs 600 per square meter. The agenda of the board meeting listed Phase IV for the said revision. The Board thereafter resolved to increase the premium rates in 18 of the 21 Industrial Estates citing that ‘…there is constraint of land and the rates in the vicinity of the estates are also quite competitive…’ However the Board did not change the premium in Phase IV of the Verna Industrial Estate. This could be construed as an irregularity when considering that the GIDC increased the premiums of all other Phases of the Verna Industrial Estate and given that Phase IV comprised of 94 per cent of the available land in the Industrial Estate. Further, after 69 per cent of the land in Phase IV had been allotted to the five SEZs, the GIDC in August 2006 revised the premium in Phase IV to Rs 750 per square meter. Incidentally the GIDC did not even state in the lease agreement that the premium of Rs 600 sqmts was tentative and open to review. The GIDC stated that given the lack of infrastructure in Phase IV the SEZ developers would have to themselves bear expenses to develop the same and therefore a lower rate should be charged.

According to the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG), the failure of the GIDC to charge the five SEZs a premium of Rs 750 per sqmts resulted in a loss of Rs 36.89 crore to the GIDC.
In case of the premiums charged to Meditab Specialities and Peninsula Pharma for land in Keri and Sancoale respectively, since these were not Industrial Estates, the GIDC used an approved formula for calculating the premiums. Using these premium rates for properties in Keri and Sancoale worked out to Rs 95.50 per sqmts and Rs 934.20 per sqmts respectively. However when executing the lease deeds in March/April 2006 the GIDC charged Meditab Specialities and Peninsula Pharma premiums of Rs 80 per sq.mts. and Rs 270 per sqmts. Once again the lack of infrastructure and ‘sloppy nature’ of the land in case of Peninsula were cited as reasons for charging lower premiums.

According to the CAG report the differential between premiums calculated using the approved formula and the premium actually charged by the GIDC to the two SEZs resulted in a loss of Rs 15.44 crore.

More importantly land in addition to that amount resolved by the GIDC Board was allotted to the five SEZ developers in Phase IV of the Verna Industrial Estate at the time the lease deeds were executed. This was done by adding open spaces and roads to the allotments. In effect 5, 38,685 sqmts of land was given away free to the four SEZs. Following the protests against the SEZs it was almost a year later in May/July 2007 that rectification lease deeds were signed whereby a premium of Rs 100 per sqmts was charged.

According to the CAG since entire contiguous areas was allotted to the four SEZs the same should have been charged Rs 750 per sqmts. The discounted rate at which 5, 38,685 sqmts of land was allotted to the SEZs resulted in a loss of Rs 34.32 crore to the GIDC.

The GIDC levies an Annual Lease Rent (ALR) from all establishments that it leases out its plots/properties to. Since 2003 the GIDC has including relevant clauses in the lease agreement which allow it to revise the ALR as and when the premium rates of the plots/properties are revised. However in case of seven SEZs this clause was not included. The result being the ALR that was fixed at the time of the agreement would not be open to revision for the entire 30 year period for which the land was leased to the SEZs. The ALR charged from the SEZs is negligible vis-à-vis the land allotted to them, and it would these rates that would remain fixed for over 30 years. The failure to include this clause would result in recurring annual losses to the GIDC.
Here is the lease per year each developer would have to pay for the next 30 years;

No. SEZ Developer ALR (in Rs)
1. Meditab Specialities 4,92,800
2. Peninsula Pharma 2,74,928
3. K. Raheja 23,75,196
4. Paradigm Logistics 7,93,257
5. Planetview Mercantile 3,96,000
6. Inox Mercantile 14,54,496
Total 57,86,677

The Truth Behind SEZ Policy

The most important feature of the Goa SEZ Policy, 2006 is the fact that it was adopted after the State began the process of allocating and acquiring land for SEZs. Even the text of the land lease agreements contained clauses which reflected SEZ ‘principles’. The Congress-led Government, which came to power in the State in June 2005, notified the Goa SEZ Policy, 2006 on 13th July 2006 (Government of Goa Official Gazette 13th July 2006). There are no records listing the Goa SEZ Policy, 2006 for discussion in the Legislative Assembly. The policy was instead formulated and resolved upon by the State Cabinet during its 21st meeting held on the 5th June 2006. While the opposition did not get an opportunity to deliberate upon the SEZ policy the larger public were never informed that the state had adopted an SEZ policy.

The state Directorate of Industries, Trade and Commerce (DITC) received altogether 19 applications for setting up SEZs in the state. While one of the applicants, Meditab, submitted its SEZ application prior to the notification of the SEZ Policy, the remaining submitted it after the state formulated the SEZ policy – these included those whose requests for land were already being processed.

While it was up to the State to make recommendations to the Board of Approval (BoA) regarding the SEZs it wanted in the state, there was no selection criteria used by the government to assess the suitability of an SEZ application for the state. Instead, through a notice dated 3rd August 2006 the DITC ordered:

“where the applicant is in possession of land as per the requirement of SEZ Rules, 2006 and the land use is for “industrial purpose” and where the application has been made in the prescribed form and the applicant broadly fulfils the requirement of the said Rules, the state Government shall recommend all such cases to the Central Government for their consideration and approval”.
It was mandatory for the applicants to submit details regarding the type of industry, the employment potential, and the water and electricity requirements. None of these details, which were later furnished, were used to analyze the applications and only thereafter forward recommendations to the BoA. Instead it seems that the State specifically instructed its staff to forward all the applications so long as they were duly completed and that they fulfilled the requirements laid down by the SEZ, Rules 2006.

50 Per Cent Area for Malls, Multiplexes and Residential Buildings

According to the Goa SEZ Policy, 2006 SEZs were sought to be declared as industrial townships. By virtue of this the land use would automatically be changed to industrial – which is permitted a build-able area of 100 per cent Floor Area Ration (FAR). To add to this the SEZ Rules, 2006 permits that 50 per cent of the land could be used for the ‘Non-Processing Area’ in other words to be transferred for residential, leisure, entertainment, educational, business or hospital purpose. Thus by getting SEZ status the zoning of a particular property would automatically be changed to industrial wherein half of the land was permitted to be transferred for carrying out constructions in the ‘Non-Processing Area’.

After the process of allotting plots in the IT-Habitat had begun and after the notification of the SEZ policy the Government of Goa (GoG) modified the Town and Country Planning by-laws pertaining to IT/ITES and biotech buildings by increasing the permissible FAR from 100 per cent to 150 per cent.

This was done after the GIDC, in referring to a previous discussion, requested the Goa Town & Country Planning Department (TCP) to increasing the FAR to 150 per cent and also requesting ‘minimum setbacks’ for IT and biotech buildings. The TCP then replied stating that the GoG approved the same and recommended adopting the Model Building By-laws, Nov 2004 prepared by the Town & Country Planning Organization (TCPO), GoI, New Delhi through which the FAR was increased to 150 per cent and the setbacks reduced to 5 meters for IT and Biotech buildings.
Notice that most of the SEZs were proposed for IT/ITES and biotech and these would stand to benefit from the modified building by-laws. Many of the SEZs proposed to build malls, multiplexes and residential buildings in the non-processing areas of their SEZs.

What SEZ status meant was that these private owners would be able to convert the land use of their properties automatically to ‘industrial use’ and thereafter divert half of it for non-industrial constructions. In other words land which may have been designated as private forest, or agricultural/orchard could by virtue of being designated a SEZ converted to industrial, settlement and commercial purposes.

The SEZ policy also envisaged that the SEZs would be outside the jurisdiction of the bodies of local government bodies, the Village Panchayats and Municipalities. The GoG had also begun initiatives to put in place a bureaucratic structure for SEZs which was placed under the command of the Development Commissioner (DC) and thereby outside the purview of the state government.

Here is what transpired from April 12, 2006 to April 19th 2006

On April 12, 2006

Applications for 18, 77,723 sqmts of GIDC land in Verna were accepted. All applications were received without any inward stamps or company seals. The applicant companies are as follows; K Raheja Corporation, Paradigm Logistics and Distribution Pvt Ltd, Inox Mercantile Pvt Ltd, Planetview Mercantile Pvt Ltd, Peninsula Pharma Research Centre and Max Grow Finlease Pvt Ltd.(who had already received a go ahead for the Bio-Tech Park in Sancoale). Interestingly, while Ravi Raheja and Neel Raheja (promoters/directors) of the K Raheja Corporation are also (promoters/directors) of the Paradigm Logistics and Distribution Pvt Ltd. On the similar veins Jaydev Mody and Rajiv Piramal (promoters/directors) of the Peninsula Pharma Research Centre Pvt Ltd are also the (promoters/directors) of Inox Mercantile Pvt Ltd and Planetview Mercantile Pvt Ltd. Incidentally, Plantview Mercantile Pvt Ltd was not even a registered company during the time of putting its application papers and as per regulations stipulated by GIDC; it is not to entertain unregistered companies for government land allocation.

On April 19th 2006

April 13th was Maundy Thursday – a half day for government employees. April 14th was Good FridayApril 15th and April 16thwere Saturday –Sunday holidays. Leaving GIDC three and half working days to approve of the applicants on April 19th 2006 without providing sufficient time to study any feasibility reports from the competent authorities or receiving mandatory Project Report from the applicant companies. So in effect it took less than seven days for the GIDC to approve the applicants.

Interestingly though, according to the SEZ Act, “As per the SEZ Act, companies have first to identify land to set up the SEZ unit, after which they must approach the Central Board for approval. After obtaining approval, they may apply for allotment of land.” However in this case, the applicant companies have first got the land allotted in their names and then subsequently approached the Central Board for approval, in total violation of the SEZ Act.
The GIDC Board has also exceeded its jurisdiction, going beyond the scope of its powers, by waiving off Transfer Fees, sub-lease fees in the Board Meeting held on April 19, 2006, without even a request for the said waiver from the applicants.

Furthermore, an additional 5, 00,000 lakh sqmts of land were given by GIDC to the SEZ developers to construct internal roads and open space; free of cost, initially, and then subsequently at Board Meeting 295 imposing a rate of Rs 100 per sqmts to be changed and used as per the master plan and for their exclusive use. This even though SEZ are contiguous land and all roads and open spaces become part of the SEZ and therefore there was no question of allotting land for these purposes separately and that too at price far below the set price of GIDC.

Although the Board passed a resolution at its 285th meeting in February 2006, fixing the minimum rate for the industrial plots to be allotted at Rs 750 per sqmts for phase I, IA, II, IIA, and III of the Verna Industrial estate, interestingly they did not fix a rate for Phase 4 (which was acquired much after the above phases) which was allotted to the SEZ developers at an inexplicable rate of just Rs 600/- per square meter, much lower than the rate fixed for land acquired in earlier years. No Board resolution on these changes was ever passed.

Interestingly, the Agenda Note for the said 285th meeting clearly indicates that at the time pertaining to revision of land prices, for Verna Phase IV the rate proposed was Rs. 750 per metre but in the minutes of the same meeting, the figure ‘IV’ has been omitted. Whether this was done deliberately or inadvertently is anybody’s guess as the minutes are silent on the price for the land in Phase IV of Verna which was acquired much later and at a higher price than the earlier phases.

More importantly of the twelve Board of Directors of GIDC only four were present at the April 19th 2006 Board meeting when 18.77 lakh sqmts of land allotment was being finalized. Those present on the April 19th 2006 meeting where Chandrakant Kavlekar, Chairman, Goa IDC, Alexio Sequeira, director, Goa IDC, (also Minister for Power) A V Parlekar, managing director, Goa IDC and Nitin Kunkolienkar, Director, Goa IDC. This is in contravention to the procedure laid down under the Rules and Regulations framed under the Goa Industrial Development Corporation Act 1965 wherein it is specifically mentioned that though four members form the quorum for the meeting, one of the member has to necessarily be one appointed under Section 4(1)(d) of the Act, which translates to being an Officer of the Government of Secretary rank.

Neither was the government land auctioned nor was a tender floated to invite bids for the SEZ plots as is the laid down rule while dealing with any transfer or sale of government land.

The Government of Goa’s actual commitment to the interest of the ‘Aam Aadmi’ can be seen from the fact that while the ‘aam aadmi’ is permitted a Floor Area Ratio of just 80 per cent in rural areas, a Floor Area Ration of 150 per cent has been granted to SEZ for all sectors, including residential areas by mischievously extending this facility granted by the TCP to IT and Biotech companies to SEZ. Incidentally, it might be relevant to note that K Raheja Corp Pvt Ltd, which is purely real estate developer, were circulating a brochure all over the country, promoting the Verna SEZ as a real estate project. It is therefore apparent that the SEZ policy is Goa was being used merely as a ploy to sell off large chunks of land to real estate lobbies.

 

Goa Forward attacks Cong but sends message to BJP for letting SEZ scam accused get off the hook

Have the grounds of corruption charges against Luizinho & Rane changed, or have the goalposts simply shifted

Leads & Specials

Everyone in the Goa BJP will go home except Rajya Sabha member Vinay Tendulkar- Parsekar

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Not a single BJP karyakarta will support Sopte in Mandrem; the BJP is losing support of the bhandaris and Marathas too, says former CM Lakshmikant Parsekar

Team Spotlight

Mandrem: In a tone tinged with emotion and hurt former Goa Chief Minister, and a senior member of the BJP’s core committee said that if the party continues in this manner, then “everyone (all MLAs) will have to go home”. He sarcastically said that the only one who will be present in a legislative space would be BJP state president Vinay Tendulkar, who has been elected to the Rajya Sabha for 6 years.

Commenting on the larger issues plaguing the party, the former Chief Minister remarked that important sections of the population like the OBCs including the bhandaris and marathas are moving away from the BJP. The support base is shrinking. There is no doubt. If things go on in this manner, then everyone will go home, except Vinay Tendulkar” ( elected to the Rajya Sabha)

It is clear that it’s a no holds barred battle between a section of the veteran leadership in the BJP and party president Vinay Tendulkar. Speaking toThe Goa Spotlight,  Mr Parsekar said “Earlier Vinay used to say that he would consult ‘bhai’ before taking any decision. Now ‘bhai’ is not accessible and hence Vinay thinks he can take any decision that he wants”

Meanwhile the by-elections to the Mandrem constituency is due, after Congress MLA Dayanand Sopte resigned to join the BJP and will be the BJP candidate in Mandrem and Parsekar is clear that the local BJP unit will not be supporting him “Sopte said 80% of the BJP’s karyakartas are with him. He is lying. Zero percent are with him. There is not a single BJP worker who is with Sopte”. Elaborating further, he said that the party may have taken a decision to reduce the strength of the Congress and hence get Sopte to resign but they should have consulted local workers and leaders ( like him) before deciding to field him from Mandrem. “Sopte may have been lured to join the BJP but the party should have understood the ground reality of fielding him from Mandrem”, Parsekar quipped

Parsekar’s remarks assume political significance for three reasons a) It confirms that Sopte will not be able to hit the political ground in Mandrem, running and will face opposition not just from the Congress but the local BJP organization. b) Lakshmikant Parsekar is holding his own political cards to his chest and the possibility of him contesting as an independent after resigning from the party, with the support of local BJP workers, cannot be ruled out and c) Parsekar’s vociferous reaction may spark off a chain reaction among senior BJP leaders who will take on the Parrikar and Tendulkar led party leadership, with Francis D Souza already stating that he may be raided for speaking against the party.

Clearly in an attempt to shore up the party’s numbers in the Assembly, both Vinay Tendulkar and Parrikar,  either by design or bad politics, may have caused far reaching damage to the party, the results of which will be clear, in the next round of elections.

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‘Toilet’ is not a ‘prem katha’ in Goa

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Goa is one of India’s worst states in achieving the Open Defecation Free promise

TEAM SPOTLIGHT

GOA: As the deadline of December 19, 2018 is fast approaching, Goa has to achieve a milestone to rank on the national chart of being free from Open Defecation (ODF). The coastal State, having the lowest population of only 15 lakhs, tops the embarrassing chart of having the lowest ODF coverage in India. With total coverage of only 5.87 percent, the State is the only one in the country where the success rate is less than 10 percent.

 

What is humiliating is that States like Bihar, Odisha and Tripura are above Goa, where not a single village has been declared as total verified ODF. After being on top of the national chart on various fronts like tourism, Smart City Mission, literacy, etc, the State is far from achieving   ODF.

As per 2011 census, the State has nearly 20 percent households without toilet facility. There are also many community toilet facilities that are lacking in the State, which is known as international tourism destination on world map.

As a rough estimate, the government is of the view that it requires at least 65,000 bio-digester toilets, for which Goa Waste Management Corporation (GWMC) has already invited tender.

Kind of toilets to be provided

The toilets, costing Rs 40,000-Rs 45,000 per set, are fitted with bio-digester. Bio-digester toilet technology, perfected by the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), is an eco-friendly and maintenance-free system to manage human waste, which is being put to use under the Swachh Bharat Mission movement.

Scheme drafted by State Government 

Department of Urban Development has drafted a scheme for supply and installation of Bio-Digester Toilet in the State.  “If Goa is to achieve the goal of ODF by the year 2018, then it is essential that the construction of toilets is taken up on a mission mode by providing necessary financial assistance to the poor who are without an Individual Household Latrine (IHHL),” Secretary Urban Development R Menaka said.

Under the scheme, any household not having an individual sanitary toilet will be eligible on submission of documents like Aadhar card and an undertaking that he or she will pay the beneficiary share for the supply and installation of the Bio-Digester toilet in his household.

“No occupant of the household shall resort to open defecation and shall use toilet only for the purpose it is designed for.  The occupant will have to pay the entire cost of supply and installation of Bio-digester toilet to government in case of the toilet being not utilized or any occupants of the household resorting to open defecation,” Menaka said.

Urban development has made it mandatory for Certificate from Municipal Council/ /Corporation/Panchayat stating that the household does not have individual household latrine.

The department of urban development and panchayat will finalize the list of eligible applicants under the scheme and communicate the same to the Implementing Agency- GWMC.

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Parrikar returns home, on a stretcher & in an ambulance

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  1. Parrikar travelled in an ambulance to his home at Dona Paula.
  2. GMC has set up medical facility at his personal residence
  3. Party men and coalition partners were clueless over  his early arrival.

Team Spotlight

GOA: The usual bonhomie that surrounds arrival of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar when arrives back in the State was missing on Sunday, when the BJP leader was moved from AIIMS to Goa on a stretcher and travelled through ambulances.

Parrikar was flown to Goa in a special flight on Sunday afternoon. Two Ambulances equipped with the doctors was part of his carcade that went to receive him at INS Hansa base. The former union defence minister travelled on a stretcher to his home.

India’s news agency Press Trust of India in its report from New Delhi had said that Parrikar’s health had deteriorated at AIIMS last night after which he was shifted to Intensive Care Unit.

He was discharged from the hospital and then flown to Goa.

State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said that Goa Medical College and Hospital has set up facility at Parrikar’s residence at Dona Paula, where his medical needs would be looked after.

The arrival of Parrikar was sudden and unexpected. Rane was seen supervising the arrangements by calling special meeting of the GMC officials last night.

 

But what is shocking for his party members and coalition partners is unexpected arrival from AIIMS where he had met BJP Core Committee and coalition partners on Friday.

“Parrikar has been always commanding, whatever he decides for himself, he has been deciding. He never listens to his family or his close ones,” BJP Legislator and State Power Minister Cabral told reporters at the airport where he had come to receive Parrikar.

Unlike last two times when he had arrived from the USA wherein he had walked out of the Airport, this time, the ambulance was taken near the special flight to pick him up.

“We hope that he recovers fast and miracle happens. I think it must be his personal decision that he wants to come back to Goa. When I met him last time, he spoke well. It must be his decision to come to Goa,” Cabral said.

 Union AYUSH minister Shripad Naik who had met Parrikar along with Cabral at AIIMS on Friday said that he could not believe the news reports that Parrikar was coming back.

“I had met him day before yesterday. I got the news that he is coming back but I can’t believe that he is returning. His health is improving and he was expected stay at AIIMS for few more days,” Naik said talking to reporters in Panaji on Sunday morning at the sidelines of a function.

“It is okay if he takes treatment in Goa but he needs to take rest,” Naik said.

State Civil Supplies Minister and Independent MLA Govind Gawade said that Parrikar should have stayed back at AIIMS for some time and fully recovered before coming back to Goa.

“But we welcome him back. Goa was missing its leader,” he said.

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