Free medical treatment for pregnant women

Under the Janani Suraksha Yojna (JSY) scheme, pregnant women are provided free medical treatment during the delivery and post natal care. The Centre will provide free pre-natal health care and ambulance facilities to pregnant women across the country, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad announced on 16 july 2013. 

Elaborating about the scheme to the media, the minister said pregnant women will be given “free medical and ambulance facilities” from conception to delivery. They will also be able to avail free consultation from doctors at government hospitals for 45 days from delivery and infants will be given free treatment at the hospitals for one year.

The minister said adolescent children (16 years and above) will be provided weekly supplements of iron and Folic Acid to prevent anaemic diseases in the children.

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Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh overtake Gujarat in investments, says latest report by top industries body

An ASSOCHAM (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) report has said that the proposed investments made by domestic and foreign entrepreneurs in Gujarat has dipped by almost 85 per cent for the year 2012-13. In 2011-12, Gujarat with an investment of Rs 1,26,000 crore ranked high among other states, with Gujarat government claiming to be the “most preferred investment destination”.

The figures clearly show that despite Vibrant Gujarat summits, which are a biennial event, the Gujarat government has failed to attract investment on a continuous basis. In fact, memorandums of understandings signed at these summits are in 85 per cent of cases just remain on paper, and the effort of these summits is to give personal publicity to one man, the chief minister of Gujarat.
“It has now fallen to the third spot, behind Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, with a figure of Rs 19,800 crore. It is a dip of about 85%, says the ASSOCHAM report based on data from DIPP (Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry).”, ASSOCHAM sources said.
In comparison to the 106 investment proposals Gujarat attracted during 2012-13, Maharashtra emerged as the “most preferred investment destination” across India, with 149 proposals worth over Rs 28,500 crore. Chhattisgarh ranked second, attracting 21 proposals worth over Rs 27,000 crore. As on March 2013, all the states together attracted 697 investment proposals amounting to over Rs 1.4 lakh crore. However, this number is a decline from last year’s 2,828 proposals worth about Rs 6 lakh crore.

Socio-cultural factors, poverty responsible for high maternal mortality, says GIDR study

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A recent study “Safe Maternal Health Care in India: Can it be Made Universal?”, sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for the Gujarat Institute of Development Research, Ahmedabad, has found that in rural Gujarat, while the overall proportion of home deliveries is low at 58 per cent, in tribal belt it continues to be high. The recently enacted schemes like the national Janani Suraksha Yojana and Gujarat’s Chiranjeevi scheme may have to a certain extent increased institutional deliveries and reduced home deliveries. Efforts of some of the health NGOs working in remote tribal areas have also helped increase institutional deliveries.
Yet, the study, carried out by a team led by senior academic Leela Visaria, underlines, “High pregnancy wastage and neonate mortality is a stark reality in poor tribal area even when efforts are made by committed NGOs to ensure safe assisted delivery. The important role of socio-economic and cultural factors in accessing care by women needs much deeper understanding.”
Based on data collected by a GIDR team in association with SEWA Rural, an NGO in predominantly tribal belt of South Gujarat, the study particularly focuses on 27 women who suffered maternal mortality. The study says, “In all 13 of the total 27 deceased women had been taken to at least two health facilities for pregnancy and child birth related complications. Of the 13 women, only two were more than 30 years old; all the others were less than 25. Except for two all of the others were illiterate and also belonged to poor households where husbands were also mostly illiterate and were engaged in manual work in construction or quarrying and had no regular employment.”
Profiling their death, the study says, “Five of the 13 women died in pregnancy. Of the remaining eight women, four had still births and two live born children died within few days of birth. We had collected information on the entire pregnancy history of all the women and it was very evident that those women who had experienced pregnancies earlier had very poor pregnancy outcomes. The 13 women between them had experienced a total of 30 pregnancies during their reproductive life but five women died during pregnancy. Of the 30 pregnancies, seven resulted in miscarriages, and five in still births. Only 14 pregnancies resulted in live births, but three babies died within a few hours or days of their birth.”
Pointing out that “domestic and cultural factors which play significant role in efforts to lower maternal mortality, the study says, “When women come for delivery to the parental home and need intervention in the event of an obstetric emergency, girl’s parents wait to receive her husband’s consent before agreeing in order to avoid his wrath. In the case of one woman this delay cost her life. In another case, in spite of five miscarriages and one live daughter, desire for a son put one woman’s life in danger. The repeated advice about either using a contraceptive method or seeking care early in pregnancy fell on deaf ears. Instead quacks were approached, and when the woman succumbed to profuse bleeding in the hospital, its staff was blamed for not administering oxygen to the woman and for not letting a family member in the operation theatre.”
The study underlines, “In the predominantly tribal belt even in the second decade of the 21st century, poverty and illiteracy continue to persist. Our data show that 16 out of 27 young women or three out of five were illiterate. In spite of efforts to enroll socially and economically disadvantaged students, especially girls, in schools, illiteracy continues to remain an entrenched problem. Their husbands are not much better. This limits employment in better paying economic activities and men and women in majority of the households worked as casual labourers either on farms of others, in construction or in quarrying. In all 17 of the 27 families we visited were visibly poor, lived in single room thatched roof homes with very few utensils and other amenities. Poverty coupled with illiteracy leads these tribal folks to not recognize the gravity of illness or emergency situation and the need to seek health care without any delay. They also fear the impersonal atmosphere of formal health care institutions and because of their belief in bhuva-bhagat or informal providers, who are often known to them, reach out to them first. The need to contact quacks or informal providers is even more pertinent when conception takes place outside socially sanctioned relationship. The informal providers can be trusted for maintaining secrecy and confidentiality, something that a public facility is almost unlikely to do so.”
Detailed inquiry and discussions with a range of individuals pointed to discordant inter-personal relationship between family members including between spouses at least among 14 of the 27 women who had died, the study says. “The two women who had conceived outside marriage or socially sanctioned relationship were abused and had become victim of physical violence from the members of their own natal family. At least three husbands had extra marital relations, which led to fights between spouses; men’s extra marital relations were rarely challenged by family members but for women such a situation led to harsh treatment. Young married women who become pregnant the first time also did not escape verbal abuse and physical violence. While being neglected by the family and not receiving emotional support, several of the women ended up neglecting their own health, became highly anemic and did not seek health care in spite of being visited by the health workers.13 In a few cases, there was evidence that women had willfully caused harm to their own health when husbands were suspected of having extra-marital relationship.”
Suggesting that there are enough studies on the status of women in the households and violence against them during pregnancy is also documented, the study says, “And yet, while trying to understand the determinants of maternal mortality, most of the studies focus on provision of emergency obstetric care in order to save the mother. When a young woman’s health deteriorates during pregnancy and the fear of chronic illness is on the horizon which would involve expenses over a long period, pros and cons of efforts involved in saving her are weighed by the families. We had a mother-in-law who openly informed us that instead of spending a lot of money on a chronically sick daughter-in-law, it would be more desirable to marry her son again. This reveals not only the worthlessness of a woman’s life, a woman who is in no position to fight for her right to life, but the cold calculations that are made. Such utterances also raise a question about how gender is constructed in our culture.”
Pointing out that underlying six cases in which women died even before being taken to a health facility or even before considering such a move, study stresses on “strong contributory social factors such as lack of family support available to them, and troubled or discordant relationship with husband or other family members.” It says, “This led the women to neglect their own health and that of their child’s health.” The study quotes one of the husbands, educated up to 10th as saying, “She was a sick person even before our marriage and was becoming very tired and was being treated by household remedies.”It quotes a health worker saying, “Her sickness was partly responsible for fights between her and her husband and mother-in-law. She refused to take care of herself during pregnancy.”
According to the study, “The compromised mental health or perceived mental instability, which continues to be a neglected health problem in India, adds to the misery of women. Medically, one may surmise that these women could have been saved if they had been brought to the health facility in time. However, the medical facility cannot change the social and familial situation or remove social stigma when, for example, women conceive out of wedlock. Such women become victims of violence and are abused and neglected by family members as well as by those responsible for pregnancy.”

 
 

Survey reveals internally displaced minorities in Gujarat remain socially vulnerable even a decade after riots

 

A fresh survey, carried out by Ahmedabad-based rights group, Centre for Social Justice January between January and March 2013, and sponsored by Action Aid, has revealed that thousands of victims of Gujarat riots, who still remained displaced a decade after the holocaust, are unable to return to their original habitat as they fear they will not be protected. Carried out among 464 internally displaced persons (IDPs), a term coined by the United Nations to identify those who are forced to leave their habitat because of violent situations, as many as 364 of the surveyed IDPs continue living in rehabilitation camps, and another 100 IDPs live in alternative housing provided to them in different towns in eight districts of Gujarat.
The survey results show that 65 per cent of the IDPs live a displaced life for the last 10 years, whereas 30 per cent have remained displaced between five and 10 years. During their displaced living, 90 per cent of the IDPs faced multiple displacements. Further, 75 per cent of the IDPs said as they feared fresh attack, which forced to shift from one place to another, and 50 per cent of the IDPs said they shifted to a new place because they lacked basic facilities at the earlier place of living.
The survey, which forms part of “A Study on Internally Displaced Persons of India: Mapping and Citizenship Rights”, to be released shortly, says that the aftermath of the violence was a disastrous experience for the IDPs. It reveals that 67 per cent of the IDPs mentioned that they were “not protected” from the attackers in the wake of brutal and violent attacks. Nearly 80 per cent of the IDPs were forced to immediately shift and take shelter in relief camps, out of which 43 per cent said they were accompanied by security agencies during their transit to relief camps.
“As many as 93 per cent of IDPs suffered losses of different types due to the violent conflict. The losses narrated included house burnt (71 per cent), looting of house (78 per cent), looting and burning of shop (37%), only looting of shop (27 per cent), and looting of food grains (66 per cent). The survey shows that the IDPs were left with nothing, and that they were in such heightened state of fear of losing their lives that they had to run away to safer places”, the survey said.
The survey information suggests that most of the efforts for ensuring justice by law enforcement came from non-state actors, while the state put maximum efforts to prevent fair trials and provide justice to the IDPs. Justice in majority cases remains a far cry.
“People have started losing hope in justice. Out of total incidents of violent attacks, police took suo motu action only in 41 per cent of cases, whereas in nearly 50 per cent of the victims said their FIRs were not registered. Further, 18 per cent of the victims whose FIRs were registered did not know whether the accused were arrested, whereas in 20 per cent of the cases the accused were not arrested at all”, the survey says.
Further, the survey says, merely 40 per cent of the victims said that they did not know about the filing of charge-sheet in court. “Only 2 per cent of the victims were satisfied with the charge-sheet filed in the court, whereas nearly 34 per cent were dissatisfied with it. Out of the 34 per cent dissatisfied victims, only 2 per cent could file protest petition in the court. As many as 43 per cent of victims were not aware of the current status of their case, whereas only 9 per cent said they do have hope for justice in the court of law”, the survey says.
The survey results further show that, on becoming IDPs, the victims found themselves in a more vulnerable socioeconomic position than earlier. “While earlier, before they became IDPs, living at their original habitat, just about 26 per cent of the IDPs surveyed said they worked as wage labourers. But now as IDPs, 63 per cent said they eked out their livelihood by earning wages”, the survey says, adding, “As many as 32 per cent of the IDPs said they had small business before the violence erupted, but on being forced to shift to the camps, just about 12 per cent said they owned small businesses.”
Further, the survey suggested that 22 per cent of the IDPs lost land and another 29 per cent lost shop. On being asked whether the government helped them provide any job, 87 per cent of the IDPs replied in the negative. While 68 per cent of the IDPs said that though that they lived in a more difficult situation than before, they never tried to return to their original place of living, another 31 per cent said they tried to return but in vain.
The survey says, “They could not go back and settle down because of variety of reasons — 17 per cent said they were attacked, 21 per cent said their property was attacked, while others said the police did not cooperate or they were threatened. As for those who did not try to return, the reasons advanced included fear of attack (54 per cent), social boycott (26 per cent), and no property to return (21 per cent). Only 9% said they had better opportunities at camps as IDPs.”
The surveyors carried out short focus group discussions (FGDs) with 20 to 50 residents at four IDP colonies of Mehsana, Himmatnagar, Anand and Sarkhej (Ahmedabad). “The discussions revealed the current condition in terms of access to civic amenities as well as social conditions. Young people said how they were forced to drop out from their studies due to the conflict-led displacement when they were small. Now they worked as casual workers”, the survey report says.
Housing and basic amenities remained a key concern in most IDPs. In many colonies the ownership of houses is yet to be transferred to the IDPs’ names. Besides, these colonies have not been provided with drinking water, approach roads, drainage, street lights etc. IDPs said, the compensation given to them is inadequate. The initial damage survey done by local government officials was done in a discriminatory and inappropriate manner, which resulted in minimal compensation.
“Indeed, normalcy eludes most the IDPs, as the state government has denied any recognition of their existence. Even after 12 years, these colonies have not been mainstreamed in the towns or villages where they are located. Most IDPs did not want to return to their original place of living, as they said, they did not have faith in the present administration for their safety. Their houses were burnt, property damaged, and many their own kin were killed. They did not want to risk their life again”, the survey concludes.

Setback to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s effort to undermine Gyan Shala experiment among slum children

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The Gujarat High Court, taking a serious view of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) School Board for failing to implement the right to education (RTE) Act provisions for 8,449 slum-dwelling children, has said that the board is “not following” the order and advice of the State Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) authorities to implement RTE norms. It ordered “immediate implementation” of RTE norms for these Gyan Shala children, who faced the predicament of becoming school dropouts only because the local body authorities refused to provide them a general register (GR) number, which would enable them to get admission in any school of their liking, government or private.
A petition was filed by Prof Pankaj Jain, CEO of the Education Support Organisation, with the help of the Centre for Social Justice, Ahmedabad, though senior advocate Shilpa Shah, against state officials in charge of education in Gandhinagar as also the AMC School Board. The Gyan Shala project, under which these children have been studying, is meant for underprivileged children of Ahmedabad. Begun in 2000, it was was recently extended to seven cities in four states, covering 30,000 children.
Under the project, education is provided to children through special training programme (STP) to “those children who are drop outs/ never enrolled from/to various schools i.e. government, semi-government or private schools in the age group of 6 to 14 years”, to quote from project sources. On completion of three years of STP, these children are “enrolled/ mainstreamed into other schools as per the choice of the children.”
Importance of the project, these sources said, can be gauged from the fact that it operates through the campus of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, and has been acclaimed by reputed national and international agencies like Poverty Action Lab MIT, USA, Educational Initiative, India and CFBT, UK. These bodies have found the learning imparted to these children quite better compared to the children educated in various government schools. Currently, STP is being imparted to 8,499 children in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation area. Its trustees, apart from Prof Jain, include Prof Pankaj Chandra, director, IIM, Bangalore; Prof Subhash Bhatnagar of the IIM-Ahmedabad; Prof Ajay Panday, dean, IIM, Ahmedabad; and Prof Ashok Korvar.
By refusing to provide the GR number, the petitioner argued, the AMC School Board would have meant an immediate end of schooling to 2,200 children, who have finished three years of STP. They should have been listed with the AMC School Board, allowing them to be registered with various municipal schools/ government schools in and around the area such children reside. But in order to get admission in a private school, they should be provided with a GR number. With this number in hand, they would become free to take admission in any school. But without it, they would be deprived of admission in any other school other than government.
”In the academic year 2012-2013, in all 2,200 children completed their three-year STP under the project, and their bio data was forwarded to the authorities, who in turn were required to register these children in municipal schools after verification and thereafter issue them their GR number”, the sources said. Prof Jain wrote two letters – on January 19, 2013 and March 16, 2013 – requesting to prepare a list of these 2,200 children who had completed their first three years. Yet, the authorities remained indifferent..
The sources believe, the AMC School Board a “a malafide intention in not preparing the list”, hence they refused to give GR. “The parents find the education imparted in the municipal schools not up to the mark and prefer to enroll their children in other semi-government or private schools. Board authorities feared that this would lead to a further decline in the ratio of children taking admission in municipality schools”, the petition said, adding, “The government spends Rs. 20,000 each child who is imparted education in the municipality run schools. This ratio has been continuously coming down since last few years, hence the need to to increase the strength of children in municipality run schools.”

Dalit students not being paid scholarship they are entitled to, reveals RTI reply received after three years

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In a major exposure of the working of the Gujarat government, a right to information (RTI) reply to a senior activist has revealed that as many as 3,125 Dalit undergraduate students of Ahmedabad district alone have not been paid scholarship despite the fact that they were entitled to it. “The matter came to light after earlier attempts to get information through RTI on scholarship to Dalit students failed to yield result”, said Kirit Rathod of the Navsarjan Trust, a Gujarat-based human rights NGO.
Rathod said, “We demand from state social justice and empowerment minister Ramanlal Vora to provide complete details of how many students in other districts of not just undergraduate level but also school level  have not been give scholarship and for how long.” He added, the decision to file an RTI application was taken after the Navsarjan Trust received “large number of complaints” about students studying in different colleges failing to get scholarship.
Despite the fact that the RTI application was filed three years ago, and an appeal was filed to Gujarat’s information commissioner Balwant Singh on July 7, 2010, against the refusal of the state officials to provide information, indifference ruled about the issue all around. Even at the information commissioner’s office the hearing took place only on April 4, 2013.
“The reason for such a long time to hear the appeal provided to us was, the state information commission was not given enough staff to handle appeals, whose number was piling up with every passing year”, Rathod said, adding, “Based on judgment of the information commissioner in our favour, we were able to get information only on May 15, 2013.”
Interestingly, the information provided, alleged Rathod, remained “incomplete”, as it was only for Ahmedabad city and the district’s several colleges of Sanand, Barwala, Dhandhuka, Mandal, Viramgam, Ranpur and Daskroi talukas and only for those who studied in degree colleges. No details of other districts has yet been given.

“Whatever information we got suggested that as on March 31, 2013, as many as 1,613 Dalit students’ applications had scholarship were pending to be cleared, while another 1,512 students were not provided with scholarship on account of lack of grants.”
Rathod estimates, “These students together have not been paid about Rs 3 crore as scholarship. If one adds the scholarship that needs to be given to students of primary and secondary schools, then it would multiply manifold. One has only to imagine what would have happened in districts other than Ahmedabad.”
These facts have come to light at a time when in Gujarat a lower percentage of SC children, especially girls, go to educational institutes compared to other districts. According to National Sample Survey (NSS) survey put out last year, among SCs, 71.2 per cent females in the age-group 5-14 were found to be attending an educational institution, which goes down to 18 per cent in the age-group 15-19, and further to 7.2 per cent in the age-group 20-24.
Gujarat’s percentage of sending 71.2 per cent of female SCs in the age-group 5-14 to an educational institution is lower than most states except Jharkhand (59.8 per cent). In the age-group 15-19, 18 per cent SC females go to an educational institution, which is lower than all other Indian states. And in the age-group 20-24, the corresponding figure for Gujarat is 7.2 per cent, which is worse than all states except Haryana (4.1 per cent), Jharkhand (2 per cent), Karnataka (5.3 per cent), Rajasthan 3.4 per cent) and West Bengal (4.4 per cent). 
 
 

Top Gujarat PSU faces fresh environmental hurdle in commercial production of gas “produced” off Andhra coast

 
The Gujarat government’s powerful state public sector undertaking (PSU), Gujarat State Public Corporation (GSPC), has faced a major environmental hurdle, putting its Rs 2,030 crore project to go in for commercial production of the gas it claims to have found in the KG Basin, off Andhra coast, in jeopardy. Asking the GSPC to “defer” the project till certain conditions are fulfilled, sources in Gujarat’s energy and petrochemicals department said, the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the Union ministry of environment and forests has refused to give blanket coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) clearance for laying down underground gas pipeline, optical fibre cable (OFC), an effluent disposal pipeline – all of which is proposed to pass through CRZ area of Yanam-Puducherry, along the Andhra Pradesh coast – as also the proposal to set up an onshore gas terminal off Mallavaram and a process-cum-living quarter platform at offshore in KG Basin, Andhra Pradesh.

The GSPC had argued that both these proposals were “component of a single project”, hence the EAC should consider all of it as a single project. The GSPC said, after “discovery” of gas in the Kakinada-Godavari (KG) basin’s block 8, GSPC had decided to develop the field as Deendayal Development Field. Environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) was obtained for the field development, which consisted of setting up of well head platform (WHP) at offshore ( KG 8 location), drilling of 15 development wells from WHP, laying of multiphase produced fluid pipeline from offshore (WHP) to land fall point (LFP), and from LFP to onshore gas terminal (OGT) at Mallavaram, laying of pipeline for disposal of treated effluent from OGT at identified marine outfall location, and processing facilities for 240 million metric standard cubic feet per day (MMSCFT), and a condensate.
The EAC note, which refused the CRZ clearance, says, “Subsequently, with receipt of consent for establishment (CFE) from the State Pollution Control Board, physical construction work for the above field development commenced. In the mean time, with availability of additional well test data, capacities of some of the already envisaged facilities were required to be enhanced, and some new facilities were required to be added in the development scheme so that it continued to remain effective and optimum.”
It is against this backdrop that the GSPC submitted an application for obtaining CRZ clearance for process-cum-living quarter platform connected to WHP (with gas dehydration, produced water treatment, living quarter facility) located at offshore, apart from other facilities. The GSPC simultaneously asked for enhancement of processing capacity of onshore gas terminal (natural gas – 240 MMSCFD to 300 MMSCFD, of capacity of the captive power plant (from four to 24 MW), and “evacuation of process sale gas from OGT through sale gas pipeline to East West Pipeline (EWPL) of Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Ltd (RGTIL)”, to quote from the EAC note.
The GSPC also wanted raw water pipeline (74 Km long) to draw raw water from the upstream of Dowlaiswaram barrage. “This proposal was considered by Andhra Pradesh state Coastal Zone Management Authority (APCZMA) on November 7, 2012 and recommended the project to MoEF”, the note said.
During the discussion on these issues, the note clarified, the GSPC was asked to submit: (1) details of the critical environmental issues identified during laying of pipeline, (2) environment clearance for enhancement of captive power plant, under consideration of environmental appraisal committee (EAC) of the thermal committee, which has also sought examining the requirement of wildlife clearance in view of Coringa Sanctuary located in 2.5 km distance, and (3) the plan of the pipeline to pass through the mangroves. “In view of the foregoing observations, the committee recommended to defer the proposal. The proposal shall be reconsidered after the above observations are addressed and submitted”, the top note said.
The EAC decision to ask the GSPC to defer its Rs 2030 crore worth of facilities comes after the Andhra Pradesh government took strong objection to the GSPC for failing to take necessary forest and wildlife clearances for its proposed facilities. It reportedly asked GSPC executives to “stop work” of laying down a crucial submarine pipeline to take gas from KG Basin to its onshore gas terminal (OGT) via an area which is 10 km of the Corianga sanctuary without necessary clearances. It asks them to explain “why action shouldn’t be taken” for violating forest and wildlife laws.
It is said, the GSPC “only took environmental clearance” and thought it was “enough.” After nearly two years, its top bosses found that environmental clearance was not enough, and that forest and wildlife clearance, under their respective Central laws, would also need to be taken, without which KG Basin gas cannot reach OGT. “Hectic preparations began to prepare papers”, a senior official said, adding, “The delay in failing to take necessary clearances will mean commercial production of KG Basin gas will have to be postponed by at least two years. ” The notice to “stop work” was delivered after GSPC failed to respond to two earlier warnings.
The work for the Rs 2,030 crore OGT was under progress at Mallavaram, and nearly 30 per cent of it had been complete. Under instructions of chief minister Narendra Modi, OGT it is said, was put on fast track, with the expectation that ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, GSPC would go into full-scale commercial operation. This would help neutralize some of the criticism being leveled against GSPC for creating hype around the KG operations, where instead of the prematurely announced 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas only 2 tcf was found. Nobody knows how of much of the 2 tcf is actually recoverable. Meanwhile, GSPC is search of a foreign partner who can help make maximum utilization of the KG gas.