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On his last day as Army Chief, Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag pays tribute to martyrs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>General Dalbir Singh paid tribute at Amar Jawan Jyoti on his last day as Army Chief on Saturday. He will be replaced by Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as new army chief.General Singh inspected the guard of honour on his last day as Army Chief. “I salute our martyrs who made supreme sacrifices in upholding honour of the nation,” he said. He also thanked the Centre for granting One Rank One Pension to the armed forces.He also thanked PM Narendra Modi and the Centre “for their full support and giving free hand in conduct of operations”. Gen Dalbir Singh praised the Indian Army saying ,”Indian army delievered that in the last 2 and a half years. Indian Army is fully prepared and well trained to tackle any challenges be it external or internal. I strongly believe that actions must speak louder than words.” “In 2012, we had killed 67 terrorists, 65 in 2013 & killed 141 terrorists alone in J&K this year,” said General Dalbir Singh on his last day as the Army Chief. (With ANI/PTI inputs)Lt Gen Bipin Rawat’s appointment as the new Army Chief had created a controversy as it superseding seniors Lt Gen Bakshi and Southern Army commander Lt Gen PM Hariz. It had also sparked a fierce political row between a section of the Opposition and the government.

Demonetization: PM Narendra Modi slams Congress for stalling debate, openly protecting dishonest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PM Narendra Modi has slammed the Opposition in his recent interview to the IndiaToday for stalling debate in the Parliament following demonetization. He also accused them for using the Upper and Lower House for ‘openly supporting and protecting the dishonest’.”While Parliament sessions being washed out is a major concern, this blatant endorsement of dishonesty is even more disconcerting for the nation. Debate is critical in a democracy. Had they allowed a debate to take place, it would have revealed a number of dimensions of this mammoth exercise to the nation,” PM Modi said.He said he wanted to speak in both houses but couldn’t as the Congress didn’t allow it, despite the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s appeal to them, as they did not want to a debate in the Parliament over the issue of note ban. He also dismissed the allegations by the Congress that the demonetization was done for political gains. He said that the while the party claims that the note ban was a political decision it also blames the Centre of making the common man suffer. Questioning the two contradictory accusations, Modi said that Congress’ attack on him was illogical. “Maybe, as members of the Opposition, they have to conjure something up to criticise me about, however illogical it may be. I sympathise with their difficulty,” ModiHe also reiterated his earlier attack on the Congress that former prime minister Indira Gandhi had junked the proposal of note ban – as claimed by Madhav Godbole’s in his book Unfinished Innings: Recollections and Reflections of a Civil Servant.- fearing backlash in elections. Rebutting Manmohan SinghModi said indicated that it was ironic that the former prime minister Manmohan Singh called the note ban “monumental mismanagement” as despite Singh’s various high profile roles in the government for 45 years, many in the country ‘continued to live in poverty and deprivation”.He also said that by calling demonetization ‘organised loot’ , Singh was probably referring to the various scams under his own tenure as the prime minister in the UPA governance.

TMC MP Tapas Paul arrested in Rose Valley case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Trinamul Congress (TMC) Lok Sabha MP and actor Tapas Paul was arrested on Friday after a four-hour-long questioning in two sessions at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office here for his alleged association with the Rose Valley Group.Paul had been the director of Brand Value Communication, the media division of the Group. His wife Nandini Paul, who was also an employee of the company, was also questioned on Friday.Sources said that he was arrested following several inconsistencies during interrogation. “He was mainly asked five questions: whether he had taken cash from the Rose Valley Group, what were the amenities he enjoyed as the director of the media wing, when had he written to the Centre against the chit fund companies of the state, why he had not mentioned Rose Valley when he had mentioned the Saradha Group and whether he had continued taking favours from the company even after stepping down from his post,” said a senior CBI official.He also said that the CBI had reasons to believe that Paul used to take cash from the company even after detaching himself from it. Sources said that Rose Valley employees had been questioned in the last one-and-a-half years and it was found out that Paul had met Goutam Kundu, who owned the company several times at different five-star hotels which Paul couldn’t give a satisfactory explanation to.Paul had been a TMC MLA for two terms from the Alipore constituency from 2001 till 2009 and had been representing the party in the Lok Sabha from 2009 from the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha constituency.Paul would be taken to Bhubaneswar and would be produced at a court there on Saturday and CBI officials said that they would seek Paul’s custody.In June 2010, he had written to Sebi and RBI against the chit fund companies in Bengal but had not mentioned Rose Valley at that time. Officials said that he had said that he did not know that Rose Valley raised money like a chit fund company but the CBI didn’t buy the theory.Another TMC MP, Sudip Bandopadhyay, had also been summoned by the CBI and he is believed to reach the CBI office on January 3.Interestingly, Paul’s arrest comes 50 days after the demonetization drive, against which the TMC had been vocal from the very beginning. Naturally, it has given rise to several political reactions from the TMC and other Opposition parties. TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that it was political vendetta and that she was not surprised and she was not afraid too. “We have been protesting the demonetization policy and knew something like this will happen. They may arrest more of our MPs but we will not deter from our protest,” Mamata said at a press conference.State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said that there may be other bigger names who should not be spared. “CBI investigation should be carried out the right way and the high and mighty should not be spared if found guilty. At the same time, no innocent person should be harassed,” he told DNA.CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty said, “Why only Tapas? He is not even the ear, which when pulled the head will be caught. Tapas is at the most the hand. Anyone who possesses money which has been siphoned off the common people should be arrested.”State BJP president Dilip Ghosh, however, said that it was only a matter of time. “It was inevitable. Why was he not arrested so far was the question. Another MP is also going to be questioned. He has been summoned by the CBI, but he is not going there probably he knows that he will be arrested too. There will be more such arrests, given the kind of corruption within the TMC,” Ghosh said.

Delhi: Fresh fight between AAP govt and Centre ahead of new LG Anil Baijal’s oath

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CBI raids in Delhi government secretariat on Friday stoked a fresh confrontation between the AAP and the Centre with a combative Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal once again asking the Prime Minister to agree to a probe into the controversial ‘Sahara-Birla’ papers.Hours after the agency raided the office of former OSD of Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain over alleged illegal appointments, Kejriwal sought to turn the tables on Prime Minister Narendra Modi by raking up the Sahara Birla papers, an issue over which he has been targeting the PM.Referring to the raids on his former Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar’s office last December, that had also triggered a political firestorm, Kejriwal said Modi not agreeing to an investigation by a Delhi government-appointed panel will prove that the PM “does not have the guts”.Kejriwal taunted Modi saying the 2015 CBI raid in the Delhi secretariat had thrown up “four mufflers” and that even the cost of the raid could not be recovered. Modiji had found a corrupt only in me at that point, Kejriwal said.”Today he (Modi) got a raid conducted on Satyendar Jain. But we are not going to be scared by your CBI,” Kejriwal said.Earlier, Kejriwal also got into a social media duel with Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta who accused the Chief Minister of peddling false charges, which he said won’t “mitigate your own crime”.”You levelled false charges against my wife as well, used foul language against a woman. We are not scared of any probe but there has to be a crime,” Gupta tweeted.Kejriwal alleged that the CBI has filed “seven FIRs” against Jain and “two” against Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, but did not elaborate.CBI carried out searches at the office of the former OSD of Jain in connection with alleged irregularities in his appointment at Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalya and subsequently as an aide to the Minister.A senior government official said that it is a prerogative of the minister to appoint his OSD and that there was no irregularity involved in appointing Nikunj Aggarwal to the post.”Since October, he has not been holding any official post in the Delhi government as Health Minister Satyendar Jain had discontinued his service. Aggarwal had been appointed on contractual basis,” the official said.Reacting strongly, Jain tweeted, “CBI raided my office today. We will not bow down by these acts. Why not investigate Sahara Birla Diaries.”

Demonetisation Day 50: Pain from ‘Mahayagna’ eases in India, but not in Bharat; what have we gained?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called demonetisation a ‘Mahayagna’ in his speech on the evening of 8 November when he scrapped Rs 500, Rs 1,000 currency notes asking citizens to ‘stand up and participate’ in the exercise to make it a grand success.

The note ban was initially sold as a war on black money, fake currency and terror funding and later as a project to create a cashless economy. Everyone, including Modi’s political rivals, lauded his intention behind note ban — cleansing the economy from illegal cash and fake currency and make each rupee floating in the banking system accountable to tax scrutiny — but in the same breath criticised the way the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) handled the implementation.

PM Modi asked for 50 days to end the common man’s pain. Post 50-days, let’s take a look at what has happened since the demonetisation announcement.

Prime minister Narendra Modi. PTI file photoPrime minister Narendra Modi. PTI file photo

Prime minister Narendra Modi. PTI file photo

To begin with, there were a series of flip-flops in rules that could have been avoided had there been a proper plan. More than 60 circulars were issued in just one month confusing both bankers and customers. Promises made by both the PM and RBI were broken adding to confusions.

Promises broken

Look at these statements: In his speech, Modi said “you will have 50 days to deposit your notes and there is no need for panic. Your money will remain yours. You need have no worry on this point. After depositing your money in your account, you can draw it when you need it. Keeping in mind the supply of new notes, in the first few days, there will be a limit of ten thousand rupees per day and twenty thousand rupees per week. This limit will be increased in the coming days.”

True, money in their bank accounts belonged to the citizens but Modi’s promise that people can withdraw as per their need wasn’t fulfilled since banks struggled to fill their ATMs and branches to meet the increasing customer demand. This was on account of three reasons: 1) the government mints couldn’t churn out enough new notes to meet the demand; it was beyond their capacity even after working in three shifts; 2) the fresh lot of new currencies that arrived were mostly Rs 2,000 notes; there were not enough change to go around; 3) people who managed to draw money started hoarding it as curbs on cash withdrawals created panic.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley refused to acknowledge even a single case of ‘unrest’ during the 50 days of demonetisation.

But, what about the ruckus at the banks and ATMs causing inconvenience to the public reported from across the country linked to demonetisation? Surely, all of it can’t be fake.

During his parivartan rally in Moradabad, UP, Modi asked Jan Dhan account holders not to withdraw the black money deposited in their accounts and promised that he will find a way for them to keep that money. This wasn’t in good taste because he was effectively offering a reward to the benami account holders for abetting a wrongdoing.

In his 8 November speech, Modi assured the citizens that they don’t need to panic and can exchange their old currency till 30 December. “From 10th November till 24th November the limit for such exchange will be 4,000 rupees. From 25th November till 30th December, the limit will be increased.”

But, the government, in fact, chose to advance the deadline much before the promised date. Lastly, there was a 19 December circular from RBI restricting deposits above Rs 5,000 only once, which was later withdrawn. Here again, a promise made initially was broken.

Lack of preparedness, transparency

The point here is both the government and the RBI were not prepared to face the rush for cash as evident from the frequent change in rules in the days following the demonetisation announcement. Even though the RBI promised a weekly withdrawal limits of Rs 24,000 (hiked from the initial Rs 20,000) and Rs 2,500 from recalibrated ATMs (from Rs 2000 initially), banks were unable to give even this amount to customers, often leading to altercations between staff and customers.

After 50 days, the cash situation has improved for sure, but only mildly. The situation has indeed turned better in metros, where ATM queues are now shorter. But, in rural areas the situation hasn’t improved much. As this Indian Express ground report states: since most farmers maintained accounts in cooperative banks, they continue to be in a spot. The informal economy, which offers employment to millions of workers, has been shattered. It will take a long time before small entrepreneurs recover from the shock. The cooperative banking sector, which plays a prominent role in rural India, is struggling to survive.

The RBI’s reluctance to communicate effectively and lack of transparency in updating information in public domain, added to confusion. An end to the cash-crunch isn’t in sight yet. Till 19 December, the RBI has infused Rs 5.92 lakh crore in the banking system as against the Rs 15.44 lakh crore demonetised. Given the physical constraints of four mints run by the RBI and government, it is unlikely that cash situation will return to normal before March 2017, according to bankers. This means, the cash curbs will stay longer.

Economy impact

Demonetisation is sure to have short-term impact on the economy which is predominantly dependendent on cash transactions the signs of which are already visible. The RBI has lowered the GDP forecast for the year to 7.1 percent, so have most private forecasters. The consumption story has taken a hit. The services sector PMI sharply fell to 46.7 in November from 54.5 in October — that is the biggest monthly drop since November 2008, just two months after the global financial crisis hit the economy following the US investment bank Lehman Brothers going bust in September.

Similarly, the manufacturing PMI too has fallen with the index shrinking to 52.3 in November from October’s 22-month high of 54.4. data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), unemployment rates fell to less than 5 percent in the week of 27 November, but has since risen to 6.1 percent in the week of 4 December to 6.6 percent in the week ended 11 December and then to 7 percent in the week ended 18 December. The impact comes with a lag and we need to wait for fresh numbers. The full impact of the demonetisation resulted cash crunch will only unfold in the next few months. If the cash crunch prolongs, things can get worse.

RBI fighting a trust deficit

Another highlight of the 50-day period was the fall of the RBI, which faced criticism for giving up its autonomy and credibility. The RBI appeared clueless how to take the demonetisation process ahead from the beginning and faced criticism from former central bankers including Usha Thorat and K C Chakrabarty. According to a Bloomberg report, the RBI board approved demonetisation less than three hours before Modi announced the decision in a televised address to the nation.

Information on how many members favored or opposed the move isn’t “on record,” the RBI said in response to queries from Bloomberg News under the Right to Information Act, the report said.

The report also cited Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s comment to lawmakers on 16 November that it was RBI’s 10-member board that came up with the idea of note ban. Was the RBI forced to approve the idea of demonetisation is something only time will tell.

Demonetisation gains

Will demonetisation deliver its originally stated long-term gains of demonetisation — winning black money, killing fake currency and terror? Long-term gains are hard to predict at this stage. The tangible gains of demonetisation will dependent up on how much illegal cash is unearthed at the end of this exercise. Demonetisation as a trigger for Indians to shift to a digital world of finance is a far-stretched idea since such a change can’t happen overnight and should be gradual. As of now, only pains are visible.

True, in the long term demonetisation may prove to be beneficial when more people come in the tax net. This coupled with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout can reboot the economy. But, that point is still away. Adjusting to the loss to the economy and the pain suffered by common man that isn’t quantifiable, what will be the net gain to economy from demonetisation is a question PM Modi will have to answer with support of evidence when he once again face the electorate in 2019.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 12:01 IST

Madhya Pradesh plans to develop 1,100 ‘climate-smart’ villages to help farmers

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh has embarked on an ambitious plan to develop 1,100 ‘climate-smart’ villages with an aim to prepare farmers to manage the climate change risks timely and ensure good productivity.

“The government has been planning to develop 1,100 villages as climate-smart villages in a period of next six years,” state Farmer Welfare & Agriculture Development Department Principal Secretary Dr Rajesh Rajora told PTI.

He said 100 villages in each of the 11 agro-climatic zones of the state would be taken up under the plan, which would incur a cost about Rs 150 crore every year.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PTI

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PTI

“The work is being taken up under the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP) and Indian National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture,” he said.

In these villages, the farmers would be encouraged to go for short duration variety of crops, in addition to using drought-resistance seeds.

“The focus would be on integrated agriculture, which comprises animal husbandry, fisheries, in addition to traditional farming. Agro-forestry would also be adopted in these villages,” Rajora said.

Agro-forestry conserves and protects the natural resources as it helps water retention and stops soil erosion.

He said integrated nutrients management would also be implemented to help in soil fertility and plant nutrients supply through optimisation of all possible sources of organic, inorganic and biological components.

“In addition, the integrated pest management, zero tillage, raised bed gardening techniques and micro-irrigation would also be introduced in the climate smart villages. This would help farmers to increase the productivity amid all challenges of climate change,” he said.

Zero tillage technique is a way of growing crops time and again without disturbing the soil through ploughing, another agriculture expert said.

“The micro-irrigation systems like drip and sprinklers would not only reduce the water use but also lessen the use of fertilisers and energy,” he said.

Rajora said the state government would seek help of International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), an international NGO working in the field of agriculture, and Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global agriculture research partnership.

“The Centre has set ICRISAT, the UN organisation, as nodal agency for developing the climate-smart villages. We would also seek expertise from scientists of two agriculture universities at Jabalpur and Gwalior in addition to state government’s scientists in various district headquarters,” he said.

According to agriculture department officials, various equipment and sensors would also be used in these villages to help the farmers.

The state government has already announced to open a soil testing laboratory at the block level. A plan is also on the anvil to provide soil health cards to farmers under state government’s efforts to double farmers’ income in five years.

To ensure sustainable agriculture growth, MP has also constituted a ‘Krishi (agriculture) Cabinet’ for the purpose.

The cabinet includes ministers of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries, cooperatives, water resources, Narmada valley development, energy, panchayat, rural development and SC/ST welfare departments.

MP had also received Krishi Karman award for 2014-15, the fourth during past five years, for increasing the food grains production and productivity by 254 lakh tonnes and 1,719 kg per hectare, respectively.

The state government also claimed to have increased the irrigated agriculture area to 40 lakh hectares from 7 lakh hectares in 2003.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 11:17 IST

Appointments row | Not scared of probe but investigate Sahara diaries too: Arvind Kejriwal dares Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday dared the Centre to get all the appointments made by his government probed after the CBI filed an FIR into the appointment of city Health Minister Satyendar Jain’s OSD.Asserting that he was not afraid of any probe, the AAP chief also wondered whether the Centre would accept a Delhi government-appointed committee to look into the Sahara Birla papers.Kejriwal alleged that the CBI has filed “seven FIRs” against Jain and “two” against Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, but did not elaborate.In fresh trouble for the AAP government, the CBI has filed an FIR into the appointment of Jain’s OSD while the LG office has recommended a probe by the agency into the appointment of his daughter Soumya Jain as a functionary in the Mohalla Clinic project.”You (Centre) make your committee and get all our appointments probed. And we will form one, and you get the Sahara Birla matter probed with it. Agree? “We are not scared of any probe as we have not done any wrong. Then why are you scared of a probe?” Kejriwal tweeted.

Kejriwal says he is not scared of any probe, dares Centre to accept Sahara diaries investigation

Kejriwal says he is not scared of any probe, dares Centre to accept Sahara diaries investigation

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New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday dared the Centre to get all the appointments made by his government probed after the CBI filed an FIR into the appointment of city Health Minister Satyendar Jain’s OSD.

Arvind Kejriwal. Getty Images

Arvind Kejriwal. Getty Images

Asserting that he was not afraid of any probe, the AAP chief also wondered whether the Centre would accept a Delhi government-appointed committee to look into the Sahara Birla papers.

Kejriwal alleged that the CBI has filed “seven FIRs” against Jain and “two” against Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, but did not elaborate.

In fresh trouble for the AAP government, the CBI has filed an FIR into the appointment of Jain’s OSD while the LG office has recommended a probe by the agency into the appointment of his daughter Soumya Jain as a functionary in the Mohalla Clinic project.

“You (Centre) make your committee and get all our appointments probed. And we will form one, and you get the Sahara Birla matter probed with it. Agree?”

“We are not scared of any probe as we have not done any wrong. Then why are you scared of a probe?” Kejriwal tweeted.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 10:59 IST

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Demonetization failed to check black money: Sharad Pawar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday said Centre’s demonetization move has failed to curb black money in country and questioned the “real reason” behind its roll out.”Rural economy is collapsed. Farmers and cooperative movement are affected due to denomination. The move has failed to curb black money. Rs 14.38 lakh crore out of Rs 15.42 lakh crore are deposited in banks till date. If this is the outcome of this major decision then what was the real reason behind it?” he said.Pawar appealed to people to come on streets in a peaceful manner to protest against “hypocrisy” of the BJP-led Central government.He was speaking after inaugurating refurbished YB Chavan auditorium at a cooperative bank here.”Common people are standing in queues since last 50 days, but no black money-holder is seen standing there. The farmers have lost the hope due to fallen prices of agri products. All the sensible and common citizens are now worried about future,” he said.

Patriotism should not result in ‘blinkered’ approaches in interpreting history: President Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lamenting the “unfortunate tendency” to take umbrage at the expression of any view considered hostile, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the “freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute” must be protected.Mukherjee also said patriotism should not result in “blinkered” approaches in interpreting history or a compromise with truth in order to justify an argument of choice.Asserting that the greatest strength of India is its pluralism and social, cultural, linguistic diversity, he said the country’s traditions have always celebrated the “argumentative Indian and not the intolerant Indian.” The President made the remarks after inaugurating the 77th session of the Indian History Congress in Thiruvananthapuram.There has been an “unfortunate tendency” in the country from time-to-time to take umbrage at the expression of any view perceived to be hostile to our social or cultural institutions past or present, Mukherjee said.Similarly, critical appraisals of heroes and national icons of the past have been met with hostility or sometimes even violence, he pointed out. “Freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute intellectually must be protected as an essential pillar of democracy. Nothing should lie outside realm of discussion and argument and such freedom is vital for the progress in any field especially in a craft like history,” he said.In his address, the President asked historians to be as objective as possible in their approach to history.Advocating that reason and moderation should be the guide, Mukherjee said, “It is natural to love one’s country and see as much glory in its past as one can detect. But, patriotism should not result in blinkered approaches in interpreting history or a compromise with truth in order to justify an argument of choice.””No society is perfect and history must be also seen as a guide on what went wrong and what were the contradictions, deficiencies and weaknesses of the past,” he said.”An objective pursuit of history, such as our best historians have attempted, requires an impartial mind of a judge and not the mind of an advocate,” the President said.”We must keep our eyes open for unfamiliar ideas and be ready to consider a range of different inferences or assumptions,” he said. He also said there should not be any conflict or contradiction between the promotion of regional history and the pursuit of the country’s history as a whole.Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged that attempts were being made by vested interests to distort history to suit the present government at the Centre.Mukherjee released the first copy of the proceedings of the Congress by presenting it to the Chief Minister.

Demonetisation: 56% of Kerala’s economic activity in doldrums, finds govt panel

The NDA government’s surprise demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has hit both leading and struggling sectors of the Kerala economy hard, pulling the state’s economy down and affecting potential resource mobilisation, a study by a panel has found.

The committee, set up on 23 November, is headed C P Chandrasekhar of the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning of the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

“Cash-intensive sectors such as retail trade, hotels, and restaurants and transportation account for over 40 percent of the Kerala economy, and the primary sector accounts for another 16 percent of the economy. Thus, 56 percent of the economic activity of Kerala is immediately affected by the withdrawal of specified bank notes,” an interim report submitted by the five-member committee has said.

According to the report, the impact of demonetisation in terms of the cash deficit and its consequences has been particularly severe in the state also because of the distinct character of its banking sector, where the cooperative sector and the primary agricultural cooperative societies (PACS) play a central role.

Prime minister Narendra Modi on 8 November announced the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, sucking out about 86 percent of Rs 15.44 lakh crore currency in circulation. As the RBI was not ready with the replacement currency, this resulted in a cash crunch, which has negatively impacted the daily lives of common people across the country and in turn the economy.

People have been given time until 30 December to deposit their old notes at banks and RBI counters. The government had also allowed exchange of these notes during the period, but did a U-turn and withdrew the facility from 25 November.

According to the Kerala government panel’s report – the first study on demonetisation and its impact – the notifications issued by the RBI, particularly the one that was issued on 14 November, which kept the cooperative banks and societies out of the note exchange process, were particularly damaging for Kerala.

The study estimates that there are about 14,000 co-operative societies in the state, including the state co-operative bank, the state agricultural and rural development bank, district co-operative banks, urban banks, primary agricultural and rural development banks and primary lending societies. These institutions are central to financial intermediation and inclusion in Kerala, the report has said.

Around 60 percent of all deposits are in the co-operatives in the state, according to the report.

Rolling out the figures, the report said besides not being allowed to exchange the notes, the access of PACS to currency was cut off. This forced these institutions to shut down their operations.

As far as the fisheries sector is concerned, cash crunch has hit the payments for fish auctioned at the point of landing, payments of wages by boat owners, supply to wholesalers and retailers, etc.

“As business has declined, workers get less work and lower earnings, and have had to get into debt to meet their daily expenses,” the report said.

In the tourism sector, the report estimates that the domestic tourist arrivals in November fell by 17.7 percent on year and foreign tourist arrivals by 8.7 percent. In October, the tourist arrivals had seen 5.2 percent and 6 percent increase respectively.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 15:48 IST

After CBI summons TMC MPs, Mamata alleges Modi govt of doing ‘politics of vendetta’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting sharply to the CBI issuing summons to two TMC MPs in connection with the alleged Rose Valley chit fund scam, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday alleged that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was resorting to “politics of vendetta”, but asserted that her party could not be stopped in this manner.”This is politics of vendetta. Trinamool Congress cannot be stopped in this way,” the TMC chief said. TMC parliamentary party leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay and party MP Tapas Pal have been asked to appear at the CBI office here on December 30. Banerjee had stated in Delhi yesterday that the country was witnessing a “super emergency” under Modi’s rule without its formal declaration.All sections of the society are being frightened by “Gabbar is coming, Gabbar is coming”, she had said and added that the country could not be run through such threats. She had also accused the prime minister of taking away the people’s rights. On demonetization, Banerjee said, “Let us wait for two more days and then, the 50 days would be over. We will decide accordingly.”

Govt approves Rs 11,000 crore road projects for areas hit by worst Left-wing extremism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government has approved an over Rs 11,000-crore project to construct all-weather roads and improve connectivity for security reasons in nearly 40 districts worst hit by the Left-wing extremism and violence.Approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), the ‘Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas’ will provide connectivity in 35 worst affected LWE districts – which account for 90% of total LWE violence in the country – and 9 adjoining districts, critical from security angle.To be implemented as a vertical under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, more than 5,400 kilometres of road would be constructed/upgraded and 126 bridges/cross drainage works would be taken up at an estimated cost of Rs 11,724.53 crore. The roads will be operable through the year, irrespective of weather conditions.The fund sharing for the LWE road project will be same as the PMGSY – in the ratio of 60:40 between the Centre and states for all states except for North Eastern and three Himalayan States (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) for which it is 90:10.Finance Ministry will allocate Rs 7,034.72 crore to the Ministry of Rural Development for the project during the implementation period 2016-17 to 2019-20. Ministry of Rural Development will be the responsible for sponsoring and implementing the project.The roads taken up under the scheme would include Other District Roads (ODRs), Village Roads (VRs) and upgrading of the existing Major District Roads (MDRs), that are critical from the security point of view.Bridges up to a span of 100 metres, critical from security angle, would also be funded on these roads. National and state highways have been excluded from the project.The roads to be constructed under the scheme have been identified by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the state governments and security agencies.PMGSY was launched in 2000 as a centrally-sponsored scheme with the objective to provide all-weather road connectivity to all eligible unconnected habitations in the rural areas.

Election Commission notifies five poll-bound states to prepare for schedule announcement

New Delhi: In an indication that assembly elections to five states could be announced anytime now, the Election Commission has asked the Centre and the state governments to implement the model code of conduct as soon as the schedule is out.

In a letter sent to the cabinet secretary and chief secretaries of the poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh,
Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab, the Commission has compiled a set of instructions issued in the past to drive home the point that model code should be implemented effectively with the announcement of poll schedule.

Poll time. ReutersPoll time. Reuters

Poll time. Reuters

The list of dos and don’ts issued by the Commission includes prevention of misuse of public place, avoiding use of official vehicles for campaigning, removing pictures of political functionaries from state government websites and bar on use of public money for advertisements to help the ruling party.

The poll panel has also reminded political parties to approach the Media Certification and Monitoring Committees at district and state level, for pre-certification of their political advertisements proposed to be issued in the
electronic media.

Sources in the Commission said assembly polls could be announced by 4 January to the five states.

Except Uttar Pradesh, which may go for a seven-phased election, the other states could have elections on a single day.

While the term of the Uttar Pradesh assembly expires on 27 May next, the terms of four state assemblies end in March next.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 17:09 IST

CBI summoning TMC MPs is ‘political revenge’: Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) summoning the Trinamool Congress MPs is nothing but political revenge of the Centre.”This is nothing but political revenge. This can’t stop the Trinamool Congress (TMC). We will stand by our people,” Mamata told the media.The CBI has issued summons to two TMC MPs- Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Paul, in connection with the alleged Rose Valley scam, one of the cases being probed by the investigating agency as part of the umbrella chit fund scams.Both the TMC MPs have been asked to appear at the CBI office on December 30.The CBI had filed its charge sheet in the Rose Valley Group chit fund scam naming Kundu and three others in a special court in Bhubaneswar on January 7.The firm was charged with defrauding depositors of Rs. 17,000 crore from across the country of which Rs. 450 crore was received by the ponzi firm from Odisha alone.In its charge sheet, CBI had claimed that it was still probing the role of ‘influential people’ in the scam.

No political interference in Rama Mohana Rao’s matter, law to take its course: Venkaiah Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dubbing as “irresponsible statements” the charges levelled by sacked Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao over the Income Tax raids against him, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Tuesday there was no political interference and the law will take its own course in the matter. “I do not want to react to irresponsible statements (made by Rao). He is known to me as well. I advise him not to make any unnecessary political statements and further complicate the issue,” he said.Naidu was responding to queries from reporters on the sidelines of the platinum jubilee celebrations of diversified business conglomerate KCP Ltd here. “If there is nothing found in his (Rao) house, law is there. He can take recourse to it. The Government of India has not removed him. I read in newspapers that somebody (Girija Vaidyanathan) has been appointed in his place. “Our interest is to see that the system functions. It is functioning. And if there is any problem, the chief minister will talk to the Centre,” said the Union Urban Development Minister.When asked about Rao’s remark that IT raids at his home and secretariat office were a Constitutional assault on the top office, Naidu shot back saying, “That does not require any response (from me) at all. Law will take its own course. The government has no role in this. There is no political interference.”
ALSO READ Removed after IT raids, Rama Mohana Rao says, I am Chief Secy of Tamil NaduAddressing a press conference here earlier in the day, Rao described the IT raids as a “Constitutional assault” on the top office and claimed that he was kept under “house arrest” by the CRPF during the raids last week. On demonetization and the problems being faced by the people due to the shortage of cash, Naidu said, “When there is a transformation in the system, there will be temporary pain. But, it will be a long-term gain. “When you are ill for a long time, you need to take a bitter pill. That is what is happening. Things will improve. After 50 days, they will start improving slowly,” he added.The pain of the honest would be “reduced” and that of those who have violated the law “will increase”, Naidu said in an indication of more steps against black money.

Demonetization: Tejaswi Yadav backs Mamata’s ‘super emergency’ assertion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav on Wednesday backed Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s assertion that the present situation in the country after the Centre’s demonetization drive is a ‘super emergency.’Yadav said, “The situation in the entire nation is very bad post this demonetization drive. There is no solution to the problems being faced by the people as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.””The situation is worse in downtrodden areas which are not well connected with the cities, do not have the facilities of ATMs and other modern techniques. Several people have lost their lives due to demonetization. However, the Prime Minister has said nothing over this. So, I think the statements made by Mamata Banerjee that is a super emergency is absolutely correct,” he added.The TMC chief on Tuesday led the attack on the Centre over their demonetization move alleging that the government had completely destroyed the federal structure.”It is not emergency; it’s super emergency. Just that it has not been officially declared,” said Banerjee addressing the media after an anti-demonetization meeting which was attended by all the opposition parties except the Left, Janata Dal (United) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).”Demonetization is a mega scam, biggest one after independence. The government is looting money of the poor and giving it to rich in the form of loans,” she added.The West Bengal Chief Minister further questioned Prime Minister Modi whether he would resign if things don’t get back to normal even after 50 days.”Even if after 50 days, things will not change. Will the Prime Minister resign,” she said.The TMC chief also accused the Modi government of pushing the country 20 years back.”In push for cashless economy, Modi government has become baseless. It’s a total loss of face for them,” she said while describing the situation prevailing in the country as ‘super emergency’.The West Bengal Chief Minister also insisted that all the opposition parties will make a common minimum agenda program.”Modi ji said we will have ‘acche din’. Is this what he meant by acche din? People are troubled. The country has been robbed in the name of acche din. In the name of cashless, Modi Government has gone baseless. It has become totally faceless,” she said.”This is a fearless government. They do not care about anything.”Meanwhile, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also escalated his attack on Prime Minister Modi, saying the goal of his ambitious demonetization drive has completely failed as people are continuing to suffer.”Demonetisation has done absolutely nothing against corruption. What it has done instead is to leave people without any money,” said Gandhi.”December 30th is about to come and the situation is still the same. The motive of demonetization has failed completely. The Prime Minister should answer the nation as to what was the real motive of demonetization and what will he do for those affected by it,” he added.The Congress vice-president further said that demonetization was an attack on the country’s poor and had only increased unemployment.Claiming that a new black market was created to exchange the demonetized notes, Gandhi said that demonetization was a direct attack on the country’s financial institutions and the poor.”A new market for conversion of money has been set up which has resulted in an attack on financial institutions and poor,” he said.

Embellishing Delhi with butterflies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi schools, homes for the underprivileged, and shelter homes for the old will soon have butterfly gardens in their backyards. The project is being undertaken by the Centre for Environment Communication (CEC) in the Delhi-NCR region. The proposed butterfly gardens, with host and nectar plants, will offer nature trail options for children, where they can learn about butterfly life cycles as part of their science syllabus. “Besides schools, such gardens will also be set up at centres and homes for the underprivileged. We have already set up butterfly gardens at the Shriram Millennium School, Noida; Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre in Tughlakabad Institutional Area, and Prayas Home for the Boys in Said-Ul-Ajab,” Head, Technical Content and Knowledge Management, CEC, Vijaya Sharma said. These were sponsored by the CEC. Funds for setting up more such gardens — at a cost of Rs35,000 each — are being raised by CEC via crowdfunding.“Children’s fascination with butterflies offers a great springboard to launch them into wonders of the nature. The garden will also help in habitat conservation and propagation of plant species,” she said.The CEC is working alongside schools for setting up of the garden. “We are guiding schools through the entire process, including the upkeep of the space. Regular inputs are shared with the school on operation and maintenance, how to engage children in projects etc. The aim is to inculcate a love for nature among children, and make its conservation a natural reflex as basic as breathing and eating,” Sharma said. Students will be assigned a science project on the life cycle of butterflies after they are exposed to the many local species.“Children will have to document the species and collect observation data. They would also maintain a log book on the life cycle and plan a photo exhibition on the butterflies in their school. Butterflies also serve as a wonderful example of insect migration and the garden will help explain the concept to children,” said Sharma.The space will also attract a host of other creatures such as lizards, spiders, praying mantis and birds, leading to a balanced and healthy ecosystem, which the children can witness first hand.CEC aims to coordinate for 10 more such gardens in Delhi over the next one year. They are also planning an educational butterfly festival in schools.

Indian diaspora can now apply for OCI cards till June 30, 2017

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre has extended for six months the last date for applying for conversion of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards to Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards to June 30, 2017 from December 31, 2016.It has been decided, with the approval of the competent authority, to extend the date for submission of the application for registration as OCI card holder by the erstwhile PIO cardholders till June 30, 2017, an official notification said. This was for the third time the date for conversion of PIO cards to OCI cards has been extended since March 31, 2016.The PIO card was first implemented in 2002 as a benefit to foreign nationals who could establish at least a third generation tie to Indian origin. The PIO card was valid for travel, work, and residence in India for a period of 15 years. The OCI card was implemented in 2005, carried more expansive benefits than the PIO card, and was valid for the holder’s lifetime.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced in 2014 that the PIO and OCI cards will be merged and the Indian diaspora will be given maximum possible benefits. Simultaneous existence of PIO and OCI cards led to confusion among People of Indian Origin residing abroad, officials said.

Ensure victims of sexual harassment at workplace are not subjected to vendetta: Government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> To prevent aggrieved women from being victimised in cases of sexual harassment at work places, the Centre has asked all ministries and departments to ensure that they are not posted under the accused or any other person where she may be subjected to harassment.The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) also said in proven cases of sexual harassment, for a period of five years, a watch should be kept to ensure that the victim is not subjected to vendetta.”It should be ensured that the aggrieved women are not victimised in connection with the complaints filed by them… In case of any victimisation, the complainant may submit a representation to the Secretary in the case of Ministries or Departments and Head of the Organisation in other cases,” the DoPT order said.These representations should be dealt with sensitivity, in consultation with the complaints committees, ministries or departments and heads of the departments. And a decision should be taken within 15 days of the submission. The order came following a meeting of Minister of Women and Child Development with the DoPT where concerns were raised over the undue delay in completion of inquiries in such cases.”Any inquiry in cases of sexual harassment of women at the work place should be completed within one month and no probe should take more than 90 days, the permissible time limit prescribed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013″ it said.The Ministries and Departments have been directed to include information related to the number of such cases and their disposal in their annual reports.They have also been directed to furnish the details of number of complaints received, disposed and action taken in a monthly report to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Kerala: Appointment of commission to re-examine UAPA cases sought

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Association of Muslim Scholars of India has urged the Centre to set up a commission to re-examine the cases registered under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against “innocent people” in the guise of national security.”The Centre should appoint a commission to re-examine the cases filed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) that have been imposed on innocent people under the guise of national security,”General Secretary of the Association, Kanthapuram AP Abubacker Musliyar said. He was delivering the keynote address at the international Milad Conference by ‘Jamia Markaz,’ here on December 25. He further said, the freedom of religion and freedom to believe and practice one’s faith is one of the cornerstones provided in the Constitution.Any attempt to curb this basic right should be fought by all means, a release from Markaz’s media wing quoted him as saying. “We will oppose tooth and nail every attempt to deny the citizens, comprising those from multi-faith communities, the right to live according to their religious convictions and ideals and also carry out a nation-wide system of unified civil code,” Musliyar added.A host of Muslim scholars representing different countries and international associations attended the conference.

Manipur govt extends suspension of mobile data for another week

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Centre has deployed additional 4,000 paramilitary forces in Manipur in a bid to reopen National Highway-2, the state government on Tuesday extended the suspension of mobile data services for another week.The United Naga Council has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the state.Curfew has been imposed in Imphal East district for the last fortnight after a mob torched and vandalised 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road, while curfew in Imphal West district was imposed from evening to dawn.The Centre last week came down heavily on Manipur Government for failing to resolve the economic blockade on the National Highway-2, which has throttled the supply of essential goods.In a scathing letter to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the state government had taken no steps to ensure that the NH-2 is kept open or at least movement of convoy is made, despite MHA officials being in constant touch with state officials.”For the sake of people of Manipur, I call upon you to discharge these constitutional obligations with utmost promptness, while reiterating Government of India’s commitment to support your forces in keeping NH-2 open,” the letter read.Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who visited Congress-ruled Manipur last week as a central emissary, said it is completely unacceptable to have such kinds of blockades in which thousands are suffering and both the Central and Manipur Governments will work together to end it.Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary Ram Madhav yesterday alleged that the Congress Government in Manipur was not clearing the economic blockade in the state for political benefits, adding that the Manipur Chief Minister should have cleared the blockade.”The Manipur Chief Minister is playing games with lives of people of the valley. The government of India from day one asked him to avail all required support from Centre,” Madhav said.

Centre launches anti-cancer crusade

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Criticising the Delhi Government for its inability to implement laws on tobacco ban, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of Health and Family Welfare on Monday said that the capital needed to step up its actions for tobacco control.“Sale of tobacco has been banned in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. In Delhi though, the ban on tobacco reflects only on papers,” he said at an event on Monday, where he launched, ‘Cancel Cancer’, a cancer awareness campaign.According to the latest data available with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, between April 2012 to September 2015, at least 13 states, including Delhi, didn’t issue any challan or fine for smoking in public.Speaking at the event held at the Lady Hardinge Medical College, he said, “Tobacco products are easily available at every nook and corner of our country and are being consumed mainly by the youth, specially school-going kids of the middle and poor class.” As part of the campaign on cancer, they aim to raise awareness on the lethal effects of tobacco, how it causes cancer and measures to control it. “Among other things, the campaign aims at educating people against the hazards of tobacco that is the root cause of cancer. The government supports this cause,” Kulaste said.According to a report released in 2013 by the Central Government one in every five person under 21 years of age is addicted to tobacco. The report also mentions that out of 2 crore homeless children in India, 40-70 per cent come in contact with some or the other form of intoxication.The Centre recently issued a complete ban on sale of food products containing tobacco and nicotine across India. These would include Gutka, Paan Masala, Zarda and tobacco-based flavoured mouth fresheners. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has directed all states to issue strict directions for banning the production, promotion and sale of these food products.

West Delhi school kids move NGT for more green cover

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aggrieved by the poor air quality due to industries and lack of green cover that is affecting their health, six teenagers from Mundka-Kirari suburbs in West Delhi have moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to seek an increase in green cover and to oppose proposed expansion of industrial activity. The six teenagers — aged between 12 and 16 years — attend schools in the Mundka-Kirari industrial belt and their petition was admitted by the Tribunal last week.The industrial belt in question is spread across eleven municipal wards of Mundka, Nangloi Jat West, Nilothi, Pratap Vihar, Nithari, Kirari Suleman Nagar, Prem Nagar, Sultanpur Majra, Sultanpuri South, Pooth Kalan and Nangloi East. The petition claimed that pollution emitted from industries in this belt is severely affecting the health of “more than 1 lakh children studying in these schools,” and that several students are suffering from breathing problems, especially during winters.Quoting results from the Centre for Science and Environment pollution test of the area, the petition said that PM 2.5 level for 24 hour average was found to be 556 µg/m3, which was 3.8 times higher than rest of Delhi. The petitioners point out that even as the area is already facing poor air quality, the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation has proposed to use 147 acres of vacant land for more industrial activity.“Of the 4,626 acres of land in 11 municipal wards, a mere 1 per cent is green whereas 1,400 acres or more than 30 per cent is an industrial area, 62 per cent is a residential area and rest is commercial area. As the area is already highly polluted… it is submitted that no further development of industries should be permitted in the area until existing pollution levels are brought down to permissible levels,” the petitioners prayed.Local residents also approached the Delhi Chief Minister’s office and the Delhi Development Authority with 5,000 signatures to convert the 147 acres into a biodiversity park, the petition claimed. Dewan Singh, a member of the Mundka Kirari Harit Abhiyan, Spoke to DNA said, “There are more than 50 schools in this area and whenever children go out for recreation, they are affected by the industrial pollution.”

Manipur: BJP slams CM Okram Ibobi Singh, Centre rushes 4000 paramiltary personnel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ram Madhav, the National General Secretary of the BJP hit out at Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh over the blockade in Manipur by the United Naga Council. He was quoted by ANI: “Manipur CM was asked to take help from forces & clear blockade, but blockade apparently politically suited him, so didn’t do needful. Manipur CM playing games with lives of people of Valley, Govt of India from day one asked him to avail all required support from Centre.”Earlier, the BJP appealed the United Naga Council (UNC) to immediately withdraw the ongoing economic blockade on the highways of Manipur. BJP spokesperson N Biren appealed the UNC to withdraw the blockade which entered its 56th day today and sought “another forum” to achieve its demands.Biren was speaking to the reporters on his return from Delhi, where an eight-member BJP delegation met top central leaders including Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue. Biren said, “The ruling Congress government is answerable to the people of the state for the hardship faced by them”.He questioned whether it has made any formal effort at the Centre regarding the presence of NSCN(IM) camps in the Manipur, the number of its cadre present in the state.He also sought to know whether there have been any effort to demolish the NSCN(IM)’s designated camps in the state as the ceasefire agreement between NSCN(IM) and the Centre does not cover Manipur. Biren also asked whether the state government has made any move to identify the perpetrators of the twin ambush on Manipur police at Lokchao and Bongyang in Tengnoupal district which claimed the lives of three policemen earlier this month. If there has been any such move, BJP demanded that the documents be made public. He also said the BJP was for a neutral CBI or NIA inquiry into the attacks on Manipur police. Later, lone BJP MLA Bishwajit said BJP’s philosophy is nation first, party second and self last. Centre rushes 4000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur The Centre has rushed additional 4,000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur in its efforts to reopen a national highway which has blocked for nearly two months by a Naga group.With this, the total number of central security personnel deployed in the sensitive northeastern state for assisting the local administration for maintaining law and order has gone up to 17,500.”Our top priority is now to reopen the National Highway-2 connecting Manipur (to Nagaland). While the other highway (NH-37) is reopened, we want to reopen the NH-2 too as early as possible,” a senior Home Ministry official said.The security personnel were sent to the northeastern state keeping in view the security situation in the wake of violence following the economic blockade imposed by the Union Naga Council (UNC) on the National Highways since November 1.The UNC has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur.Curfew has been clamped in Imphal East district for the last fortnight after a mob torched and vandalised 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road, while curfew in Imphal West district was imposed from evening to dawn.In a stern message, the Centre had on Friday told the Manipur government that it can’t escape responsibility for the “humanitarian crisis” arising out of the 52-day economic blockade by a Naga group and must work to end it, while making it clear that nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of it.Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who was on a day-long visit to Congress-ruled Manipur as a central emissary, said it is completely unacceptable to have such kinds of blockades in which thousands are suffering and both the central and Manipur governments will work together to end it.”The state government has not been able to end the blockade. It must end as soon as possible as law and order is the responsibility of the state government. Nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of a humanitarian crisis where common people are suffering,” he had said.

Suresh Prabhu promises WiFi in 200 stations in the coming year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As part of its programme to upgrade facilities for rail users, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday that 200 more stations and some additional trains would be provided with Wi-Fi in 2017. Dedicating six Wi-Fi facilities to rail users at Kannur, Ernakulam and Kollam at a function here, he said 100 stations had been fitted with Wi-Fi this year and the target was to double this number in 2017. “More trains will also would be provided with Wi-Fi next year,” he said. “The objective is to have Wi-Fi facility in all railway stations in small cities and towns,” he said.The Minister said steps were also on to construct escalators in stations, he said. Welcoming the Kerala government’s decision to sign a Joint Venture with Railways for development projects in the state, he said that as partners, the railways would be developed in the state. “The Centre and state will have equity in the venture and funds for the projects will be raised through market borrowings with the consent of the state government,” he said.The resources spent under the JV would be in addition to funds earmarked in the Railway budget, he added. Stating that investment in railway infrastructure can bring development to its optimum level in Kerala, Prabhu said he had asked some banks to prepare a business plan for the state.Prabhu admitted that there was a lack of railway investment in Kerala and said the NDA government’s move was to reverse that trend. Referring to remittances to the state from Non-Resident Keralites, he said even they could invest in railway projects. “They can develop a railway station”, he said, adding that the key objective was to join hands for development. The Railways was also looking out for resources other than its normal revenue. They were also looking into the possibility of converting its hospitals as medical college hospitals, he said.Chief Minister Pinrayi Vijayan and G Sudhakaran, PWD Minister and in charge of Railways were among those present.

Harish Rawat seeks fresh date from CBI for appearance in CD case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Monday did not appear before the CBI in connection with a probe into the purported sting operation involving him and has sought a fresh date for it.The matter pertains to CBI’s ongoing probe into the alleged sting operation purportedly showing Rawat negotiating a deal to buy support of disgruntled Congress MLAs to save his government earlier this year.Rawat has written to the apex investigating agency expressing his inability to appear before it and sought a fresh date for the purpose, his media advisor and spokesman Surendra Kumar said.He had been served summons by the CBI on Friday last, asking him to appear before it today.After the CBI summons were issued to him, Rawat had questioned its timing and accused the Centre of using the investigating agency as a tool to frame him as Assembly elections were round the corner in Uttarakhand.This is the second time that Rawat has been summoned by the CBI on a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) registered by it in last seven months. He had earlier appeared before the agency on May 24 during which he was questioned for nearly five hours.

Manipur violence: Centre rushes 4,000 additional paramilitary personnel

New Delhi: The Centre has rushed additional 4,000 paramilitary personnel to Manipur in its efforts to reopen a national highway which has been blocked for nearly two months by a Naga group.

With this, the total number of central security personnel deployed in the sensitive northeastern state for assisting the local administration for maintaining law and order has gone up to 17,500.

“Our top priority is now to reopen the National Highway-2 connecting Manipur (to Nagaland). While the other highway (NH-37) is reopened, we want to reopen the NH-2 too as early as possible,” a senior home ministry official said.

The security personnel were sent to the northeastern state keeping in view the security situation in the wake of violence following the economic blockade imposed by the Union Naga Council (UNC) on the National Highways since 1 November.

File photo. Reuters

File photo. Reuters

The UNC has imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH 37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur.

Curfew has been clamped in Imphal East district for the last fortnight after a mob torched and vandalised 22 passenger vehicles on the Imphal-Ukhrul road, while curfew in Imphal West district was imposed from evening to dawn.

In a stern message, the Centre had on Friday told the Manipur government that it can’t escape responsibility for the “humanitarian crisis” arising out of the 52-day economic blockade by a Naga group and must work to end it, while making it clear that nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of it.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who was on a day-long visit to Congress-ruled Manipur as a central emissary, said it is completely unacceptable to have such kinds of blockades in which thousands are suffering and both the central and Manipur governments will work together to end it.

“The state government has not been able to end the blockade. It must end as soon as possible as law and order is the responsibility of the state government. Nobody will be allowed to take political advantage out of a humanitarian crisis where common people are suffering,” he had said.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 18:11 IST

Indo-Bangla border to be completely sealed by mid 2018: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said the security of the more than 200-kilometre-long Indo-Bangladesh border was a priority for the BJP government and it will be completely sealed in next one and a half years.”We are committed to sealing the 223.7-km Indo-Bangladesh border and the process is on. It is expected to be completed within the next year and a half,” Singh said addressing BJP workers here.”Bangladesh is our neighbouring country and we share a good and warm relation, which we will continue to pursue and remain committed to in the future,” he said. The Union minister, without referring to the issues of illegal migration and granting of citizenship to Hindu refugees, assured the people of Assam that BJP was committed to protect the interests of the indigenous population of the state as per Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.”We are committed to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and will protect it even if we have to amend the Constitution,” he said. Referring to the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Singh said the process is underway and the state government should complete it soon. The Union minister said the Centre will make no compromise on the issue of insurgency as he claimed that violence has considerably come down in the state.”If any people or group have any grievances, problems or issues, we are ready to talk to them… We are ready to embrace them and talk. But if there is violence, there will be no compromise,” he added.

Committed to sealing border with Bangladesh in next year and half, says Rajnath Singh

Guwahati: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said the security of the more than 200-kilometre-long Indo-Bangladesh border was a priority for the BJP government and it will be completely sealed in next one and a half years.

“We are committed to sealing the 223.7-km Indo-Bangladesh border and the process is on. It is expected to be completed within the next year and a half,” Singh said addressing BJP workers in Guwahati.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

“Bangladesh is our neighbouring country and we share a good and warm relation, which we will continue to pursue and remain committed to in the future,” he said.

The Union minister, without referring to the issues of illegal migration and granting of citizenship to Hindu refugees, assured the people of Assam that BJP was committed to protect the interests of the indigenous population of the state as per Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.

“We are committed to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and will protect it even if we have to amend the Constitution,” he said.

Referring to the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, Singh said the process is underway and the state government should complete it soon.

The Union minister said the Centre will make no compromise on the issue of insurgency as he claimed that violence has considerably come down in the state.

“If any people or group have any grievances, problems or issues, we are ready to talk to them. We are ready to embrace them and talk. But if there is violence, there will be no compromise,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 16:59 IST

Delhi govt to make digital payments for transactions above Rs 5,000

New Delhi: The Delhi government has asked all its departments to make electronic payments to suppliers, contractors and institutions if the order value exceeds Rs 5,000.

The Finance Department of the Delhi government has issued an office memorandum deciding to implement the recent order of the Union Finance Ministry in this regard to promote e-payments.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

In the memorandum, the department has asked that payments should be made to contractors, suppliers and institutions through Real-Time Gross Settlement Systems (RTGS), National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) and Electronic Clearing Service (ECS).

“It has been decided to implement the instructions (of the Union Finance Ministry)…in the departments, autonomous institutions, public sector undertakings and Corporations of Government of NCT of Delhi.

“Accordingly, all payments to the suppliers, contractors, grantee/loanee institutions etc. above Rs 5,000 may be made through electronic mode i.e RTGS, NEFT and ECS with immediate effect,” the Finance Department said in the memorandum.

The city administration’s move comes in line with the Centre’s decision to promote digitisation of payments following the announcement of demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on 8 November.

Earlier this month, the Centre had lowered the threshold for making such payments from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,000, a move that was aimed at attaining the goal of complete digitisation of government payments.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 15:22 IST

Leh safest route on Kaliash Manasarovar yatra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Focus has shifted to the Centre after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti favoured starting the Kaliash Manasarovar yatra from Leh.“I am in favour of opening of more routes. I strongly favour starting of Kailash Manasarovar Yatra through Leh so that the area gets a tourist and economic boost,” said Mufti.Situated at the altitude of 22,028 feet, Mount Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva in Tibet. Pilgrims perform parikrama at Mount Kailash after the arduous trek. En route is the Manasarovar lake in which a dip is considered holy.So far, yatris took two routes—Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand and Nathu La in Sikkim. This involves trekking at altitudes of up to 19,500 feet in inhospitable conditions. An easier route is via Damchok, in the Leh district. However, the Chinese government is reluctant to open this as it falls on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).Leh-Damchok-Mansorvar is the shortest and safest route. In fact, the Ladakhi people have been demanding the opening of this route for economic prosperity as well. A memorandum presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 by former Chief Executive Councilor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, said, “From here, pilgrims can make the trek in two days. This would also give a much-needed fillip to the local economy.”Nawang Rigzin Jora, who represents Leh constituency in Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, said India has taken up the matter with China from time to time, but they are reluctant.“They may have their own reasons. There have been incursions off and on (from China) on the Indo China border. Another reason could be Ladakhis are big followers of the Dalai Lama,” Jora said.Jora said there is a road up to the Kailash Mansrovar right from Leh. “Safest route is through Leh. You can fly to Leh, take one or two days to acclimatize and then drive up to Kailash Mansarovar.”

Union minister Manoj Sinha undergoes surgery for fracture at AIIMS

Sun, 25 Dec 2016-12:15am , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union minister Manoj Sinha on Saturday underwent a surgery at AIIMS Trauma Centre for a fracture he suffered in the upper left arm in a road mishap in Gorakhpur.”The minister was operated on a fractured left upper arm. His condition is stable and is being monitored closely by a team of experts from critical care, anesthesia and orthopedics,” said a senior doctor at AIIMS Trauma Centre. The 57-year-old was involved in an accident that took place around 7.15 PM yesterday on the Tapti river bridge when he was coming to Gorakhpur from Barabanki.Sinha, who represents Gorakhpur in Lok Sabha, was initially admitted to Apollo Hospital and later shifted to the Lalit Narayan Mishra Railway Hospital. According to sources, the accident took place when the vehicle ahead of the minister’s car in the cavalcade suddenly applied brakes to avoid hitting a man. The car carrying Sinha hit the vehicle from behind and in the impact, the minister sustained the injury.

Necessary decisions in past would have avoided discomfort: PM Modi on demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a veiled attack on Congress for opposing demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the “sins” of benami properties would not have happened and people would not be standing in queues now had necessary decisions been taken in the past.”In 1988, Parliament passed Benami Property Act but it never got notified and implemented. The papers had got lost somewhere in a stack of files. It was me who re-opened it. Sins of benami properties would not have happened had the law been implemented,” he said after the inauguration of Pune metro. “Should I let the situation be as it is or should I change it? Should the wrongdoings be undone or not? If decisions were taken years ago, I would not have had to make people stand in queues. I have taken this step because I made a promise to save the country,” the Prime Minister said.Modi warned those possessing black money to come clean now or they will stand no chance to save themselves. “Some people thought all governments are the same and this government of mine will be no different. They thought they can put their black money in banks and convert it into white. Money did not become white but their faces turned black,” he said. “There is still time where laws can help you. Come on the right path and sleep peacefully. If not, I will not sleep. I have started this war against corruption, black money, terrorism, naxalism with a lot of ‘jigar’ (heart),” he said.The Prime Minister said that due to the demonetization decision, income of urban bodies have increased by 200-300 per cent and people, who were used to breaking rules at one point of time are now made to stand in queues. Modi said that urbanisation is taking place at a fast pace today and stressed on generating employment and improving the quality of life in villages to stop migration to cities. “Only then will the run from villages to cities will slow down. If we think in pieces and for immediate political gains, we can never overcome problems,” he said.The PM said the Centre has started with a ‘Rurban’ mission which focuses on ensuring that that villages close to cities have the soul of a village and facilities of a city. “Our Digital India campaign is not just meant for cities but for rural areas as well. We have decided to launch metro projects in more than 50 cities. Had we done so in bits and pieces, projects would have become costlier, more problems would have arisen and the projects would have had lagged even after we putting in money,” he said.Modi said benchmarks of development need to become modernise and transform with changing times. “Infrastructure is not just roads, rail and air transport but also highways and I-ways (information ways), for which we need an optical fibre network. We need to work on water grid, digital network, gas grid and space technology,” he said.Modi said Pune Metro should have been visualised and implemented much earlier. “Previous governments have left a lot of work for me to do,” Modi said. The development of phase -I of Pune Metro Rail Project, which will cover a total length of 31.25 km, is expected to provide the much needed connectivity to the commuters in Pune as well as neighbouring industrial town of Pimpri Chinchwad. The project comprises two corridors — Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC)- Swargate covering length of 16.589 km and Vanaz to Ramwadi with a length of 14.665 km.The project is scheduled to be completed in five years from the date of start of work as per the Detailed Project Report (DPR). The Project will be implemented by Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MAHA-METRO), which will be a 50:50 jointly owned company of Government of India and Maharashtra government. The existing Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (NMRCL), a joint Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of Government of India and Maharashtra government, would be reconstituted into MAHA-METRO for implementation of all metro projects including Pune Metro Rail Project Phase-1 in the state of Maharashtra outside Mumbai Metropolitan Region.The approved alignments are expected to provide the much needed connectivity to the commuters and would pass through some of the dense and traffic congested routes in the Pune Metropolitan Area.

BJP submits ‘charge sheet’ against Himachal govt, Virbhadra terms it ‘bundle of lies’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Himachal Pradesh BJP on Saturday submitted a “charge sheet” to the Governor against the alleged “omission and commission” by the Congress government, which completed four years in office, even as Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh termed it as a “bundle of lies”.The Congress government in the state celebrated four years in office today by organising a rally at Dharamsala which was addressed by party vice president Rahul Gandhi.The 75-page “charge sheet” submitted to Governor Acharya Devvrat includes allegations against the Chief Minister, his Cabinet colleagues, Congress leaders and 41 individuals and institutions and demands a probe into these charges by a central investigating agency.It also highlights the “failures” of the state government in developmental front, accuses it of financial mismanagement and its lukewarm attitude in implementing the projects sanctioned by the Modi government at the Centre.The charges levelled by BJP against Virbhadra Singh are a compendium of cases registered against him by various agencies and alleged misuse of office.Terming the “charge sheet” by BJP against his government a “bundle of lies”, the Chief Minister said, “It is an old habit of BJP to make false allegations. It had submitted similar “charge sheet” twice in the past and implicated me in false cases but I was acquitted by courts.” Singh claimed the Congress government has ensured overall development of the state during the last four years and the charge sheet was prepared out of “frustration” of BJP leaders.State irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes, health and family welfare minister Kaul Singh Thakur and agriculture minister Sujan Singh Pathania termed it a “futile exercise” as the charges were “contrary” to facts.Reacting to accusations of corruption, they claimed the state government has adopted a policy of zero tolerance towards corruption and if BJP leaders have any proof, they should go to the Lokayukta. Else the party should seek apology from the people.

FCRA cancellation forces NGO to lay off its 80-odd staff

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing cash crunch after the cancellation of FCRA licence, Gujarat-based NGO Navsarjan Trust, which was working for Dalit rights for the last 27 years, has sought resignation of its 80-odd employees and said that the three schools run by it shall be closed.Managing Trustee of Navsarjan Trust, Martin Macwan said the NGO was unable to pay for the salaries of its staff after the Centre revoked its licence to get foreign funds under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).”It is impossible for us to pay salaries of our employees after the Centre cancelled our FCRA licence. We are facing acute cash crunch due to that move. Thus, we have asked all our 80-odd employees to tender their resignations,” Macwan told PTI.Macwan founded this NGO in 1989 to fight for the rights of Dalits and to take up issues concerning them, such as manual scavenging and social boycott.According to him, the NGO needs around Rs 2.75 crore annually to meet various expenses.”We are largely dependent on the funds from foreign sources to meet our expenses, which runs into Rs 2.75 crore per annum. About 85% of that comes from foreign countries. Now, as our FCRA licence has been cancelled, it is impossible to run our operations or to pay salaries from what we get from local sources,” said Macwan.Apart from running various awareness programs for the upliftment of Dalits across the state, the NGO also runs three schools, one each in Ahmedabad, Surendranagar and Patan district. Now, these schools, where 102 students of 5th standard to 9th standard, are enrolled, are on the verge of closure, said Macwan.”These three schools, which impart education to 102 students of extremely poor Dalit and tribal communities, are having 12 teachers. Now, we have to shut these schools too, as we are unable to pay their salaries and meet other operational expenses. These teachers will be asked to leave only after the completion of this academic session,” said Macwan.A week back, seven NGOs, including Navsarjan Trust, were barred by the Centre government from receiving foreign funds after their FCRA licences were cancelled following alleged adverse intelligence reports against them.The decision has been taken after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) conducted an inquiry into the functioning of the NGOs whose FCRA licences were renewed in the recent past.

GST council talks on but states, Centre remain divided

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Loose ends continued to hang even after two days of deliberations by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council.Despite long hours of discussions on Friday, the council, which comprises officials and ministers from states and the Union finance ministry, could not approve or clear for introduction in the Budget session any of the four draft pieces of legislation – Central GST, State GST, integrated GST and Compensation Act.It remained split over the compensation to states for the revenues losses from GST rollout, administrative control of taxpayers and a host of other issues. It, however, discussed each clause of CGST separately and discussed them threadbare and agreed that the states would be compensated for revenue losses every two months instead of every quarter as decided earlier.The next meeting will be held on January 3 and 4.Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who heads the council, told the media that the council was “making reasonable headway”.”I am trying my best. I am not going to bind myself to anything. Our effort is to do it as quickly as possible and I think we are making reasonable headway,” he said.Rakesh Bhargava, Director, Taxmann, said it was “unfortunate” that the council could agree on dual control.”It is very unfortunate that the GST Council failed to agree on dual control. In the next meeting, IGST Bill and this issue will be taken up. We hope there will be an agreement,” he said.Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, Minister for Finance and Planning, commercial taxes, Andhra Pradesh, vehemently opposed the Centre’s suggestion to levy cess on some goods to compensate for states’ losses. He proposed that the Centre should fund the states’ dip in revenues from the Consolidated Fund of India.He welcomed the inclusion of fisheries in the definition of agriculture and agriculturists, which will keep fishermen out of the ambit of GST. Bhavna G Doshi, Senior Advisor, KPMG, said that the Centre would have to address the concerns of states on adequate reimbursement.”States are feeling that the cess may not be adequate. That is the point (West Bengal Finance Minister Amit) Mitra raised – that this year is not going to be good, and even the first quarter may not be good. The state may need more compensation as businesses have been hit (by demonetization). His concern was whether there would be adequate funds available (with the government for compensation),” she said.Doshi suggested that the government could consider a “special contingency fund”. Apparently, Mitra has pointed out that in the light of demonetization, resources required for compensation could go up. The government was working on compensation, based on estimated losses of Rs 50,000 crore to states.This, the KPMG expert said, may see more goods and services attracting cess than before. Doshi believes that if the council is able to thrash out all issues in the next meeting, the government may call a special session of Parliament to pass the GST Bills.MS Mani, Senior Director, Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP, feels the whole compensation discussion was very “hypothetical”.”The assumption is that revenues do not grow in GST, but past experience has shown that revenues will definitely grow under GST. The way I look at compensation is that it is more like underwriting. So, it is not necessary that compensation risk comes true. The compensation may not be as critical as it is being made out to be. I would say that the larger gains from today’s meeting is that on many issues they seem to have achieved consensus,” he said.Mani, however, feels that dual control could be a “difficult issue”. Even Pratik Jain, partner and leader indirect tax, PwC India, believes that the “most contentious issue was the dual control or cross empowerment”.

PM Modi should stop ‘ridiculing’ Rahul Gandhi, admit demonetization was a ‘mistake’: P Chidambaram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ridiculing Rahul Gandhi’s remarks, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said though he too could ridicule him, he will not do that and said Modi should rather answer the questions posed.”He (Rahul) says mock me but answer the questions of the people, the duty to respond to the question… lies with the Prime Minister… however he is ridiculing and acting (mocking Rahul),” Chidambaram said.Stating that he too knows how to mock and poke fun, the former finance minister said, “I can also talk like Prime Minister… and ridicule…, however, I will not do that because he is India’s Prime Minister.”Chidambaram said though Modi belonged to “another party” and “propagated several policies that we cannot accept, I respect him as he is India’s Prime Minister. I will not ridicule him or poke fun at him, I only ask questions, he should answer the questions.””Why are you (the Centre and Modi) punishing people like this (by demonetising) and what sin have they committed? Why are you harassing people and the farmers… what is the reason…I would like to ask,” he said.He said Rahul Gandhi is addressing people in several states, including Gujarat, on demonetisation and related issues.”The Prime Minister addresses meetings, Rahul Gandhi is also doing it and the media is giving equal importance to his speeches like they do for the PM and I welcome it. However that is not enough,” he said and described the claims of BJP government regarding demonetization as “falsehood.” Corruption is happening black money is being hoarded by using Rs 2,000 notes, he claimed and said party workers should apprise people on such “false claims.””I bow my head before the people for their patience,” Chidambaram said, adding people are perhaps waiting for the Prime Minister’s December 30 deadline for things to get normal.”No government or Prime Minister has the authority to inflict so much pain and harassment on the people. They did not vote for them (BJP) for this,” he said. Chidambaram said the Prime Minister should have accepted that he had taken a wrong decision. “He (Modi) is a big (magnanimous) man… had he said that I made a mistake, had Modi sought forgiveness, he would have been a big man,” the senior Congress leader said. He said Indira Gandhi had generously admitted that promulgation of Emergency in 1975 was a mistake as it had led to suffering of people (not in Tamil Nadu) and promised to never do it again till such time she was Prime Minister. “That is why she continues to live in the hearts of people as a towering leader though she passed away 32 years ago,” he said.”There is nothing wrong in accepting one’s mistake…there is nothing wrong in saying that I have done a mistake.” Chidambaram said if Modi had admitted he had taken a “wrong decision based on wrong advice” and he was not told of the quantum of currency that will be scrapped, it would have been generous.If Modi had said he was not apprised about the note printing capacity and how many months it would take to print such notes and on the duration of ATM recalibration, he would have been magnanimous, he said.Modi should have admitted that he had not taken into consideration the fact that people would be hit and daily wage earners would be affected, Chidambaram said.

Centre using CBI to cow-down political opponents: Harish Rawat’s media advisor

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Uttarakhand Chief Minister’s Media Advisor Surendra Kumar on Friday accused the Centre of “using CBI to cow-down political opponents”, after the probe agency again asked Harish Rawat to appear before it on Monday regarding an investigation into a purported sting operation involving him.The CBI has asked Rawat to appear before it in connection with a video allegedly showing him negotiating to “buy disgruntled” party MLAs to save his government during the political crisis in March.This is the second time that Rawat has been summoned by the CBI on a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) registered by it in last seven months. He had earlier appeared before the agency on May 24 during which he was questioned for nearly five hours.Questioning the timing of the summons that comes with the Uttarakhand Assembly polls round the corner, he alleged, “The CBI summons are as conspiratorial as toppling the Rawat government earlier this year.” Terming it a “premeditated conspiracy against the state government”, Kumar claimed, “We knew that the probe agency will be used by BJP against its opponents at the time of elections for petty political gains.””Going by the timing of the summons, it seems the BJP intends to contest the coming state Assembly elections by using the probe agency that has been reduced to an instrument by the Centre to settle political scores,” he alleged.It reflects the sense of frustration in the BJP over its impending electoral defeat, Kumar claimed.

Income Tax Department’s investigation wing: Deployment of CRPF personnel during search operations are as per law

Kolkata: The investigation wing of the Income Tax (IT) Department on Friday said the deployment of CRPF personnel during searches is as per the law, which West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has termed as “unconstitutional and illegal”.

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee addresses media after her party's win in the Assembly elections at her Kalighat residence in Kolkata on Thursday. PTI Photo by Swapan Mahapatra(PTI5_19_2016_000262B)

File photo of West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“The number of search operations being carried out now have increased manifold and this is why we are taking help of CRPF personnel,” a senior official of the IT investigation wing told PTI.

To a query, he said the investigation wing was also getting cooperation of West Bengal Police.

“As per law, we are authorised to seek the help of paramilitary forces, Customs, PSU banks and CISF personnel during search operations,” the official said.

“This is nothing new and we are doing it everytime.

“It is well known that we are carrying out such action day-in and day-out. So it is necessary to take the help of other central agencies besides the state police,” he said.

Mamata Banerjee on Friday objected to the Centre’s move to deploy CRPF personnel for providing security to Income Tax officials during search operations in the state and has also shot off a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding withdrawal of the decision.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 22:35 IST

Kannada excluded from NEET, political fight breaks out

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A political blame game has erupted between ruling Congress and opposition BJP in Karnataka over non-inclusion of Kannada among the languages for holding the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for admission in medical colleges for the academic year 2017-18.As Chief Minister Siddaramaiah sought to put the onus on the Centre, Union Minister Ananth Kumar hit back citing the state government had written to the Centre suggesting that the exam be held in English.”Our government had written a letter stating that NEET exams should be held in Kannada also, still it has not been done. I have asked the Chief Secretary to write a letter,” Siddaramaiah said.Speaking to reporters in Mysuru, he said, “It is wrong. We have written a letter, but what are our BJP ministers (at the Centre) and MPs doing? Don’t they have the responsibility? They have won from Karnataka… what are they doing?” The Union Health Ministry on December 21 had said NEET exams for admission in medical colleges will be held in eight languages – Hindi, English, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu.Taking strong exception to Kannada being left out, the Chief Minister said, “Omitting Kannada… is a wrong thing, we are writing a protest letter also.”However, Ananth Kumar held the state government responsible for it. Speaking to reporters in Delhi, he said, “When the Centre asked the states about the language for NEET exams in their respective states in November, Karnataka government’s medical education department had clearly said in writing that the exams be held in English.””It is only three days ago that they have awakened and sought that the exams be held in Kannada,” he added. The Kannada Development Authority (KDA) has called the move to exclude the language a “great injustice” to seven crore Kannadigas. Karnataka is considered to be the home for highest number of medical colleges in the country.

Centre versus Mamata: Bengal CM calls CRPF deployment for IT raids unconstitutional and illegal

Following the debacle with army deployment in her state earlier this month, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has written a stern letter to the Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh over the presence of 15 CRPF personnel to provide security to income tax officers during raids in the state. Mamata, in the letter, said, “It has come to the notice of the state government that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the central government are making available 15 personnel of the CRPF, for apparently, providing ‘security’ to Income Tax officials and staff deputed for operations in West Bengal.” Here is the copy of the letter

letter-mamata-pradesh18letter-mamata-pradesh18

Mamata said this was never conveyed to the state government, even though the alleged MHA instructions were reported by the media. However, an advisory by the Ministry of Home Affairs dated 20 December to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), mentioned that 15 CRPF personnel would be deployed in the state.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTIWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“The matter has been considered in this ministry and it has been decided that CRPF shall make available 15 personnel to Income Tax Department, Kolkata, for providing security to officers and staff deputed for search and seizure operations to be carried out by the Income Tax Directorate,” the advisory said.

The letter, addressed to “Dear Rajnath Singhji”, said that the Banerjee government strongly objects to “this decision which is blatantly unconstitutional, illegal and against all principle of constitutional federalism. Stating that the deployment of any central police force of the Union to any state can only be done at the request of the state government, her letter said, “The decision must immediately be revoked. The state government and its police forces will provide all necessary help and protection.”

Mamata had earlier this month accused the BJP government of “deploying the army” along a highway toll plaza at the second Hooghly Bridge, about 500 metres from the secretariat ‘Nabanna’ in neighbouring Howrah district, and said she would not leave till the army was withdrawn. “The state government has not been informed about this deployment by the Centre. This is clearly a violation of the rules and understanding (between the Centre and the state), when the army is deployed without informing a democratically elected government,” Mamata had said a day later at a press conference.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 18:03 IST

DMK seeks special assembly session to discuss Cauvery issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DMK urged the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu to convene a special session of the state assembly to discuss the Cauvery water issue and the situation faced by farmers in the delta region.Party Treasurer and Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin alleged that because of the ruling AIADMK’s “confrontational approach” toward the upper riparian state Karnataka, the state could not get its due share of water from the inter-state river for the past six years.In such a situation, some farmers in the Cauvery delta region had died unable to bear the losses suffered due to failure of crops or had committed suicide, he claimed. Farmers’ associations, besides DMK, had staged a series of protest on the Cauvery issue, but the government had so far neither held any talks with the ryots on the matter, nor has it provided any relief to them, he said in a statement here.With Karnataka not releasing water, the delta region was “dry” he said, adding, the lawmakers, should therefore discuss the “critical” situation of farmers.Further, with the Centre proposing to establish a single tribunal to look into all inter-state water disputes, he doubted if the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) will be constituted in the near future and sought confidence boosting steps from the government for the farmers. “Therefore, a special session of the Assembly should be convened to discuss the critical situation of farmers. Further, a resolution should be adopted for constituting the CMB and declaring Tamil Nadu as drought-hit and it should be sent to the Central government,” he said.

Let Centre complete Agusta probe, nail culprits under law: AK Antony

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former defence minister AK Antony on Thursday said let the Centre complete the investigation into the Agustawestland Scam and bring the guilty to book.”In our time, when we found something wrong, we only ordered an enquiry, cancelled the contract, fought in Italy and won. So, let them complete the probe. This Government has been there for two-and-a-half years; they must complete the enquiry and bring the guilty to justice.” Antony said.The Delhi Court had earlier adjourned the hearing on the bail plea of former air chief SP Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi and businessman-cum-lawyer Gautam Khaitan in the AgustaWestland chopper scam case till December 23.”All evidences asked by ED or CBI have been provided. Details of properties, bank accounts and foreign trips were handed over,” said the former air chief’s counsel.The Patiala House court on December 17 had remanded the trio to judicial custody till December 30 as their CBI custody ended.Also, The CBI had moved court seeking a 10-day custody to interrogate Tyagi and the other accused in the case.Tyagi has been accused of influencing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland during his tenure as the IAF chief.He has, however, repeatedly denied the allegations.

Manipur blockade | ‘This is humanitarian crisis’: Centre asks state govt to end ‘worrisome’ conditions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre on Friday reviewed the situation in Manipur in the wake of the crippling economic blockade of a highway, with Union Minister Kiren Rijiju asking the state government to end the “worrisome” conditions that have triggered a “humanitarian crisis”.At a high level meeting attended by the Union Minister of State for Home Rijiju, Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh and senior officials of the central and Manipur governments, the situation in the state was discussed threadbare.Rijiju, who is on a day-long trip to Manipur as a central emissary, stressed that the Manipur government must discharge is “constitutional duties” by ending the blockade and bring back normalcy in state.The blockade on National Highway 2 by United Naga Council (UNC) has been continuing since November 1 crippling normal life in the landlocked state.The UNC has been protesting against the creation of seven new districts in the state.”This is a humanitarian crisis. We want that the Manipur government end the blockade as early as possible. Whatever assistance from the central government is required, we will give,” Rijiju said.”There is a constitutional duty of the state government to bring back normalcy and they should ensure that there is no blockade along the highway,” he told PTI.The Minister of State for Home Affairs, said the ground situation in Manipur continues to be worrisome and the Central government wants that law and order prevail in the state.”I will talk to the state government and will try to find out a solution,” he said.Rijiju said the prices of essential commodities have gone up due to the economic blockade and people have been suffering a lot.So we want the problem to resolves as early as possible, he added.Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on Thursday told Manipur Chief Minister that there has been extremely distressing situation caused by the continuous blockade of National Highway-2, which has caused an acute shortage of essential and other goods in Manipur and breakdown of law and order.The landlocked state has been experiencing severe hardship in supply of essential items since November 1 after United Naga Council (UNC) imposed an indefinite economic blockade on the two national highways that serve as lifeline for the state.

AAP, Cong should not do politics on Najeeb Jung’s resignation: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Kiren Rijiju criticised the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress for “doing politics” over the resignation of Delhi LG Najeeb Jung. “I don’t know what problems do the AAP and Congress have. When Jung was working, they were demanding resignation. Now since he has resigned, they are questioning why he has resigned. Should Jung have resigned by taking permission from AAP and Congress?,” Rijiju said.The Minister of State for Home said the AAP and Congress leaders have no locus standi to ask questions. He asked the two parties “to give up doing politics” over Jung’s resignation.Rijiju also refused to speculate on the reasons behind Jung’s resignation saying only Jung could tell it.
ALSO READ LG v/s AAP: A timeline of the battle between Najeeb Jung and Arvind KejriwalRaising questions over Jung’s sudden resignation, Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken had demanded that the Centre should explain the reasons behind his “unceremonious exit”, saying there is more to it than meets the eye. The AAP had alleged that Jung worked under the “influence” of the Modi dispensation and questioned whether the power tussle between the Centre and Delhi government will continue even after the appointment of a new LG. “Modi government promotes its people. We hope he gets a better posting after this. I am unhappy that his tenure was disgraceful. Now that he has gone, good luck to him. Najeeb Jung’s behaviour was not his. He was under the influence of someone. We hope the next LG gives priority to issues concerning people and does not work under anyone’s influence,” AAP’s Kumar Vishwas had said.

Black chapter for women in Delhi over: DCW chief Swati Maliwal hails ‘tyrant’ Jung’s resignation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a sudden move, Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung resigned, ending a nearly three-and-half- year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with AAP government on a range of issues that virtually brought governance to a halt on many occasions. Without citing reasons for the decision, 65-year-old Jung, who had taken charge in July 2013, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his help and cooperation and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for his “association”.In a brief statement, Jung’s office said he has submitted his resignation to the Government of India and that he would be returning back to academics, “his first love”.Sources close to him told PTI that his resignation has nothing to do with his acrimonious relationship with the AAP government and he was contemplating to quit for last few months.”His decision to quit was not at all related to his relationship with the AAP government. It was purely a personal decision which he was mulling over for quite some time,” they said.One person who seemed thrilled with Jung’s reaction was Delhi Commission for Women Chief Swati Maliwal who claimed a ‘black chapter for women in Delhi was over’.She wrote on Twitter: “Double win for DCW. Delhi women freed from Jung tyranny. HC orderd release of 2 month DCW salary. Hope new LG will work toward women safety. Black chapter for women in Delhi over. Jung ji failed as LG. 6 rapes daily, didn’t hold single meet on women safety, brutally attacked DCW. Jung ji failed to even meet DCW. Last week 2 Notice issued on him by HC on DCW petition to explain why no meet in women safety in Delhi. LGs sudden resign proves all have to be accountable for women safety in Delhi. If you ignore and attack women, you will have to step down.”Earlier, reacting to Jung’s resignation, Kejriwal said the decision surprised him. “Sh Jung’s resignation is a surprise to me. My best wishes in all his future endeavours,” he tweeted.While BJP was guarded in its reaction, Congress said the Centre must explain why Jung was “unceremoniously removed and whether it was done to bring someone to the top administrative post who is ideologically close to the RSS.” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said despite several “bitter-sweet experiences, I can say that we have worked very well for Delhi with Jung. Good wishes for his future.” A 1973-batch IAS officer, Jung had assumed charge as 19th Lt Governor of Delhi on July 9, 2013, five months before the Delhi Assembly elections.The then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had played a role in appointing Jung, who was serving as Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia University, to the top post in the city administration.He had run the city for nearly one year after the AAP government had quit on February 14, 2014 after a short stint of 49 days.In the statement, his office also said “Jung also thanks the people of Delhi for all their support and affection, especially during the one year of President’s Rule in Delhi, when he got unstinted support from them and which in turn helped run the administration in Delhi smoothly and effortlessly.”

Was Najeeb Jung removed to bring someone who is close to RSS, asks Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The resignation of Najeeb Jung as Lt Governor today caught Delhi’s political circle by surprise with the Congress terming the exit “unceremonious” and the BJP claiming he was “upset” with the AAP government.Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta said a BJP delegation had met the L-G yesterday over delimitation of municipal wards when Jung had “expressed” his displeasure with the Kejriwal government.”Even then (yesterday) he was upset with the AAP government stalling work. But we did not foresee this. He told us that he was going a week-long leave. Delhi needed him,” Gupta said.Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said Jung has a meeting scheduled with him tomorrow.”The L-G met me day before yesterday but he did not give any indication of submitting his resignation. Another meeting of mine with the L-G is scheduled for Friday (tomorrow)… I have come to know about his resignation only through media,” Mehrishi said.Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken sought the response of the Centre over Jung’s “unceremonious exit” while party leader PC Chacko suggested the resignation might be due to BJP’s pressure.”Was he removed to bring someone who is close to RSS? Was it done considering the upcoming municipal polls? Jung is an able administrator,” Maken told reporters.”BJP never takes independent stand as far as the office of Governor is concerned and this is putting many a Governors in difficulty. May be this is behind the resignation,” Chacko said.

Demonetization: Noted economists criticize PM Modi’s decision in Standing Committee of Finance

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three out of four economists summoned by the Standing Committee of Finance headed by Congress MP Veerappa Moily, expressed deep anxiety and concern towards the demonetization being pursued by the Bhartiya Janata Party. Noted economists Kavita Rao, Professor at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Pronab Sen, former Chief Statistician to the government of India and Mahesh Vyas, CEO, Centre for Monitoring Indian economy were critical of the demonetization process whereas Rajiv Kumar, senior fellow, Centre for Policy Research argued for it in front of the committee. “This committee will submit its report on demonetization on the first day of the Budget Session of the Parliament,” said a member of the committee on the condition of anonymity.Sources confirmed to WION-DNA that the experts questioned how the conversion of cash economy into digital would take place within the confined time declared by the central government. All three economists who expressed concern on demonetization spoke on the issue of counterfeit currency, inflation and black money. The above mentioned economists argued in the committee that a lot of unaccounted black money does not exist in cash and is parked in other sectors of the economy. Sources also confirmed that three economists said that currency reform might end up spiking the inflation instead of reducing it. Lastly, it was also argued that for a meaningful war against black money, the government should denotify a part of the currency every two years.The Committee has decided to call Urjit Patel, Governor, Reserve Bank of India and members of the Indian Banking Association on January 19, 2017. The meeting was also attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.Even the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet the economists on December 27 to discuss the state of the economy. The economists in the first half of the day will meet the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and spend the second half with the PM. Since the exercise has become politically contested, every opinion of experts in this field counts both for the government and the Opposition.

Delhi: Anti-Corruption Branch chargesheets DCW chief Swati Maliwal

New Delhi: DCW chief Swati Maliwal was on Wednesday chargesheeted in a special court by the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) in a case of alleged irregularities in recruitment in the women’s panel.

The charge sheet was filed before special ACB judge at Tis Hazari Court against Maliwal for the alleged offences under section 13 (criminal misconduct by public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC.

DCW chief Swati Maliwal. News18DCW chief Swati Maliwal. News18

DCW chief Swati Maliwal. News18

The court is yet to take cognisance on the charge sheet.

ACB Chief and Special Commissioner (New Delhi) MK Meena said that charge sheet has been filed in the court in connection with alleged irregularities in appointment of AAP workers in DCW.

The ACB had taken up the probe on a complaint by former Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Barkha Shukla Singh, who alleged that several AAP supporters were given plum posts in the women’s panel.

Singh, in her complaint, had listed the names of 85 people who, she claimed, got jobs “without requisite credentials”. The FIR was registered against Maliwal on September 20 and the ACB had been probing the matter for the last nearly six months.

An ACB officer had earlier said that based on questioning of DCW employees, it was found that due procedure “was not followed in appointments” and a total of 91 appointments were found to be made without allegedly following due process.

Maliwal had earlier said that the FIR will not act as a deterrent for her and the panel will continue to work and raise questions which is “disturbing her opponents the most”.

“Even if I am sent to jail, I will prepare a report on the condition of women there and submit it to the Delhi government. The Delhi government and the Centre are working together towards ensuring safety of women,” she has said.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 20:28 IST

Odd-even cannot be implemented in one day, will happen after adequate preparations: Delhi govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government made it clear on Tuesday that the third phase of odd-even scheme will only happen in the city with prior adequate preparations and awareness to the people as Transport Minister Satyendar Jain conveyed it in the NCR Planning Board meeting chaired by Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu.Jain has asked the Centre to give the city administration sufficient time before asking it to implement the next round of car-rationing scheme as part of anti-pollution emergency measures. The main focus of the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) meeting was on the rising pollution level in the city.Earlier this month, the Centre had submitted in the Supreme Court its action plan to tackle the menace of air pollution and recommended slew of measures including ban on construction activities and implementation of odd-even scheme in the national capital. “In the NCR Planning Board meeting, I have requested the Centre to give us sufficient time before implementing the odd-even scheme so that we can sensitise people and generate awareness among the masses about it.”I have no objection on the next round of odd-even scheme. If Centre today says that odd-even will be implemented tomorrow, it cannot happen in one day. We need sufficient time before implementing the scheme,” Jain told reporters here.The minister also urged the central government to think about the livelihood of lakhs of labourers before banning construction activities as it has come to the notice that due to this move, labourers go to their native villages. “When the construction activities were recently banned in Delhi, most of labourers had gone to their villages. In view of this, I have requested the Union Minister to consider about their livelihood before taking any such decision,” he added.Jain said that during the meeting the report of IIT Kanpur on the city’s air pollution was also discussed, according to which there should be ban on power plants within radius of 300 km of Delhi. Apart from this, the report has also recommended controlling dust pollution through vacuum cleaning. “I raised both the issues in meeting and the Union Minister assured us to look into into,” Jain said, adding he also highlighted the delay in completion of three Urban Extension Roads being constructed by Delhi Development Authority (DDA).”There has already been a delay in completing these roads built in Outer Delhi. DDA has been constructing them for 15 years, but it is yet to complete them. “I have requested the Union Urban Development Minister to direct the agency to construct it as soon as possible so that there is no traffic congestion in Delhi,” he said.The Delhi government has also requested the Centre to construct Eastern and Western peripheral expressways at the earliest so that non-destined vehicles do not enter the city.

Government to check misuse of tax exemptions by political parties: Arun Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government plans to set a threshold criteria for political parties to enjoy tax exemptions to check money laundering by outfits that do not contest elections, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.He said the Revenue Secretary has been asked to look into the issue in the wake of Election Commission’s recommendations in this regard. Jaitley’s remarks at a Times Now event assume significance in the context of the Election Commission’s recommendations to the Government to amend laws to bar tax exemption to parties that do not contest elections and win seats in Lok Sabha and Assembly polls and to ban anonymous donations above Rs 2,000 to political parties.”I can point out one is invisible donation which Election Commission says is anonymous and the second is when political parties got exemptions. There are about 40/50/60 political parties which effectively contest elections in Centre and the states, (but) you have a large number of political parties which got registered not for contesting election but for availing tax exemption. “Now this part is easier to tackle. I have already asked the Revenue Secretary to look into this and therefore we will have to put a threshold criteria so that we are able to eliminate those which are not real political parties but only for money conversion which have come in,” Jaitley said.He said many political parties do not contest elections but only accept donations and convert money. “I have already told the Revenue Department to look at them and therefore some threshold criteria could be fixed and number of these could be eliminated,” Jaitley added. Jaitley underlined the need for making political funding as transparent as possible, saying donations must be smaller in size but huge in number. “Political funding is necessary, it should be smaller in terms of denomination but larger in its spread. And therefore not creating a quid pro quo and it should be absolutely transparent,” he said.And eventually it may be worthwhile to try and make efforts only for genuine political parties to get those benefits then start moving towards donations predominantly in the manner, he said regretting that electoral reform initiated during Vajpayee Government were not followed up by the UPA. He further said that once the country transforms into a less cash economy, the donors of the political party won’t have the kind of money in future to donate. “And they are going to straight away tell the political parties you are the ones who brought this change and therefore don’t expect us to give any invisible funding. We will fund you but we will fund you by cheque. And that’s how it should be,” he said.

Restore India’s sovereignty on Katchatheevu to aid fishermen: Tamil Nadu CM to PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to send a “firm message” to Sri Lanka over continued apprehension of the state’s fishermen and said a permanent solution would be in restoring India’s sovereignty over Katchatheevu islet.Citing reports of arrest of seven fishermen and seizure of their two mechanised fishing boats, Panneerselvam in a letter to the PM said the boats and fishermen were reportedly taken to Karainagar in Sri Lanka and were remanded in custody.The apprehension of fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy continues “unabated” despite Indo-Sri Lankan fishermen level talks and Inter-Ministerial talks being held from time to time, he said. “It is the consistent stand of the government of Tamil Nadu that a permanent solution to this vexatious problem faced by our fishermen will be possible only by restoring India’s sovereignty over Katchatheevu by securing the right to fish in traditional waters,” he said.
ALSO READ Seven Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan NavyThe right of the fishermen is continuously infringed upon by the Sri Lankan’s Navy “recurrent” actions of apprehension, the Chief minister said.Demanding that the Centre send a firm message to Sri Lanka on the issue, he said 109 boats, including the two boats apprehended on Tuesday, should be released by the island nation. “The Sri Lankan strategy of not releasing boats of our fishermen is causing great frustration among the fishermen of Tamil Nadu. Without their livelihood base, fishermen are in a state of despondency,” he said.Panneerselvam requested Modi to direct the External Affairs Ministry to take up the matter with Sri Lankan authorities to ensure immediate release of 22 fishermen and 109 boats.The Chief Minister’s letter comes a day after he met PM Modi in New Delhi seeking Rs 22,573 crore for relief and restoration works in Chennai and neighbouring districts following the devastation caused by cyclone Vardah.

Some forces trying to create disturbances in Punjab: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday said some forces are trying to fulfill their “nefarious designs” of creating disturbance in Punjab and that the intelligence agencies are fully alert.”Our intelligence agencies are fully alert and keeping a close eye on activities of some anti-national forces. We would not allow the peace of the state to be disturbed,” he said.The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs was addressing media after laying foundation of the complex of the 7th Battalion of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Ludhiana.The Punjab government has provided 51 acres of land free of cost at the outskirts of the city at Ladhowal for the project. An amount of Rs 200 crore would be spent on the complex and its infrastructure, Rijiju said. He said that the NDRF was one of the best forces in the world.Commenting on the Centre’s demonetization move, Rijiju said that the policy had broken the backbone of terrorist fundings.Asked about terrorist attacks on the Army and paramilitary forces, he said the vigilance and security on the international borders has been made very tight. “The incidents of attack on the Army in Kashmir is a desperate attempt by insurgents,” he said.The border states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir have come under a series of terror attacks this year.On the NIA filing chargesheet in the Pathankot airbase attack, the MoS said the Centre would pressurise Pakistan to extradite the perpetrators of terror to India. “India will seek the help and support of other countries for the purpose because all the countries are facing heat of terrorism,” he said.Wrapping up investigations in the Pathankot airbase attack case, NIA had on Monday filed a charge sheet against Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others for hatching the conspiracy of the January 2 audacious terror strike in the state that left seven personnel dead and 37 others injured.

Solution to note ban woes still out of reach: N Chandrababu Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday said demonetization was not what they wished for, adding he was still breaking his head as a solution to the ongoing (currency) crisis remained elusive.”Demonetization was not our wish but it happened. More than 40 days after demonetization, there are still a lot of problems but yet there appears to be no solution,” Chandrababu said addressing a workshop of Telugu Desam MPs, MLCs, MLAs and other leaders here today. “It still remains a sensitive and complicated problem,” Chandrababu — who heads the 13-member central committee to look into demonetization issues — observed.It was Chandrababu who had been a strong proponent of ban on high denomination currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000.In fact, he had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 12 reiterating his demand. On November 9, hours after the Prime Minister came out with the demonetization announcement, the Telugu Desam Party started claiming credit saying it was a “victory for Chandrababu” over his fight on corruption. “This is a moral victory for the TDP,” it said on posts on Facebook and Twitter. Prime Minister Modi may have taken the decision now but Chandrababu had these thoughts even when he was in the opposition (2004-14). He had been fighting for scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes since then,” the TDP pointed in a Facebook post. The party media cell dug out newspaper clippings dated back to June 2013 when Chandrababu raised the demand for the first time.But as people started facing trouble in exchanging the scrapped notes as well as in withdrawing cash from their savings accounts, Chandrababu seemed to change his tone and started making critical remarks about the Centre s move, particularly the introduction of Rs 2000 notes. “I am spending two hours daily to ease the problems caused by demonetization. I am breaking my head daily but we are unable to find a solution to this problem,” the Chief Minister said today.”We could resolve the ‘August crisis’ (an internal party coup dating back to 1984) in 30 days but this (demonetization) still persists,” he pointed out.He said banks were “not prepared” for a transition to digital economy. “They are unable to even register banking correspondents,” he added.Unless there were remedial measures, people’s woes would continue in the long-term, Chandrababu warned.

As all roads lead to UP, one for 84 Kosi Parikrama route

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Modi government is planning a two-lane 275-km road along the route of the 84 Kosi Parikrama, an age-old religious yatra touching the temple town of Ayodhya as it circum-ambulates six districts of Uttar Pradesh.If all goes well, roads and transport minister Nitin Gadkari could make the announcement about the Rs 750 crore project when he visits Faizabad on December 21, according to sources. Gadkari has been touring the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh since August for laying foundation stones for roads that are likely to cover all 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.Ayodhya in Faizabad district falls on the route of the 84 Kosi Parikrama yatra, beginning and ending in Makhurha in Uttar Pradesh’s Basti where the King of Ayodhya is believed to have performed “yagna” in the “treta” period. The belief is that the parikrama delivers penance from the cycle of birth and death.With the BJP giving priority to development over temple politics in UP, the focus was on addressing concerns of basic amenities, sources said. While the new projects cannot be completed before the UP polls due early next year, government was hoping it would send the message that it was serious about development, a promise on which the BJP had swept UP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.Gadkari will be in the state over the next two days to lay foundation stones for a spate of projects, including one for a four-lane road on the Jagdishpur-Faizabad section. On December 20, he will be in Ambedkar Nagar for a similar programme for the Dhadra pul to Varanasi section and Allahabad for laying foundation stone for a four-lane road connecting it to neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh.Having set himself a target of completing the exercise before the code of conduct came into force, Gadkari has already laid foundation stones for over a dozen projects, which include several highways from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency. His schedule has around another dozen projects. All of these would cost around Rs 40,000 crore, according to ministry sources. The elections were expected to be notified this month.Of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, BJP had won 71. The party was hoping to reach out across caste barriers by flaunting the Modi regime’s welfare schemes. However, with demonetization dominating the narrative, some state MPs have expressed their concern about it to the BJP leadership.Besides Varanasi, to which around eight new highway projects are linked, the ministry’s foundation laying programme included projects in Lucknow, home minister Rajnath Singh’s constituency, Kanpur section, where senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi is the MP, Pilibhit, union minister Maneka Gandhi’s seat. At Lalganj area in Azamgarh, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s constituency, Gadkari has launched upgradation and four-lane conversion of NH-233.While the Centre dotted the state with foundation stones, ministry sources said the state government had been cooperating with the Centre in the projects. With elections around the corner, the ruling Samajwadi Party was also in no mood for a confrontation over the issue of development of the state.

Nitish Kumar says his party will analyse "notebandi" effects post Dec 30

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar chief minister and JD (U) national president Nitish Kumar, among the few in Opposition who supported scrapping of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes by PM Narendra Modi, said on Monday that his party will hold a meeting post December 30 to analyse the effects, as well as the good and bad of demonetisation and then take any further stand on it.“My personal stand in known to everyone. I supported notebandi on November 9. But, I have also been saying that demonetisation alone is not sufficient to take on black money hoarders. The government should also attack on “benami” (proxy-owned) properties and enforce liquor prohibition if it is really serious about hitting on black money,” Nitish said while addressing a news conference in Patna on Monday.The Bihar CM said Prime Minister has asked for 50 days for the situation to improve and they will wait and watch till then. “It is a national issue. We will call a party meeting and take suggestions from everyone on it. They we’ll see what has to be done,” he said.The party spokespersons too have earlier said that the party will review its stand on demonetisation post December 30, when PM Modi’s 50 day time will end.It may be mentioned that Nitish has been among the few Opposition leaders who unequivocally supported demonetisation of big notes by even going against his alliance partners Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress.Reiterating that cashless economy will not work in India, Nitish said, “As per my information, even in the United States cashless transaction are limited to 40-45%. While cashless transactions in India too will increase, it is not going to happen suddenly, no matter how much you advertise about it,” he said.He also said the Centre should take an initiative to make it mandatory to disclose the name of those who make even 1 rupee donation to political parties. Nitish was referring to Election Commission of India’s recommendation to limit anonymous donations to Rs 2,000.

Demonetization: Mamata Banerjee slams PM Modi, terms govt as ‘deaf and dumb’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee fired fresh salvos at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that all the countrymen except PM Modi have realised that demonetization was a bad move, causing tremendous hardship and eventually lead to a crisis.“By the time the Prime Minister realises the down side of demonetization it will be too late, leaving the country in doldrums,” she said, addressing a public meeting at Fulkusma in Bankura district.Mamata termed the Modi government as “deaf and dumb” and oblivious to the suffering of the common people. “Farmers are in deep trouble. People don’t have cash to buy essential commodities. Businesses are incurring losses. MNREGA workers are being deprived of wages,” she said.She also cited the example of Venezuela and said that it had rolled back its decision of demonetization when it realised that it would spell disaster. “One cannot withdraw one’s own money, even if one’s salary is Rs 15,000. How can the government dictate terms and conditions on the way people should spend their own money? Why should the poor be forced to use Paytm from which the Centre is getting a commission? Before the polls he said he was a chaiwala. Now he has become a Paytm wala,” she said.She also said that there was a divisive force in the country which was trying to create communal tension by even naming a road accident as a clash between members of two communities. “There is peace in Junglemahal and the administration will ensure that it remains like that,” she said.Commenting on Mamata’s comments in Bankura, Left Front chairman Biman Bose said that it was peaceful according to the definition of the TMC. Meanwhile referring to today’s decision of the capping of bank deposits, Bose said, “It has been an economic emergency. Since demonetization, they have been changing their position and decisions. All this indecisiveness is causing problems to the middle class. Those who are part of the mall culture are hardly affected,” he said.

From ATM to Paytm, government must stop taking commission: Mamata hits out at Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday the Modi government did not understand the hardship faced by the people who were made “fakir” after demonetization. “Realising the people’s difficulties, Venezuala withdrew the decision on demonetization, but the Modi government doesn’t listen to anyone. It is a deaf and dumb government,” she told a public meeting here. “The common people understand the problem, but the Prime Minister does not. We don’t know when he will realise. By that time the country will be in the grip of a femine,” she added.”The people can’t withdraw their own money. We don’t know whether that is safe”, Banerjee said. Slamming the Centre for promoting a digital economy, the TMC chief said, “they are saying buy this app, buy this mobile. Don’t listen to them. Else you will become fakir”.She further hit out at Modi for dubbing himself a “fakir” and said that the Prime Minister used to describe himself as a “chaiwala” the before the Lok Sabha elections and claimed that now he has turned into a crorepati. “What is the definition of fakir,” Banerjee asked.”Money for the 100 days work should not be paid through Paytm in lieu of commission. From ATM to Paytm, govt must stop taking commission. Centre cannot dictate people where to keep their money,” she said.In an apparent reference to BJP, the chief minister alleged, “they are trying to divide the people in the name of religion when they cannot provide food to them. This will not be tolerated”. She also instructed the state administration to deal with such attempts firmly.”As long as I am alive, I’ll continue to work for the people. Political parties exist because of the people. Without them we are nothing,” Banerjee said.She said a water supply project “Jal Tirtha” worth Rs 1,100 crore had been taken up to irrigate 32,000 hectares of farmland in the district. “We started a university in Bankura. We have launched health centres, polytechnic colleges and Karma Tirthas here,” she added.

Barter of labour practice back among farmers of Odisha post demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the harvesting of paddy crop drawing near, the age old practice of ‘Badalia’, a system of exchanging labour services prevalent in coastal districts, is showing signs of revival in some pockets of Odisha.A small and marginal farmer like Jugal Kishore Lenka is all set to work in a fellow farmer’s plot during harvesting to cut down his need for cash in the post-demonetization scenario.Together with Sudam Sahu, a fellow farmer facing the same predicament, 45-year-old Lenka of Goda village in Jagatsinghpur district has decided to work in each other’s land as cash crunch has come in the way of landowners hiring farm labourers for paddy harvesting. “We will begin paddy harvesting soon. Note crisis has forced me not to involve farm labourers in harvesting. Sudam Sahu of my village is facing the same crisis. We both have four workers who were engaged in kharif cultivation work. We will now exchange labour with each other for smooth crop cutting”, said Lenka, who owns half-an-acre of irrigated land.Badalia is a system wherein a farmer, who is not necessarily a farm labourer, works in another’s field without taking any wage. Subsequently, he gets similar hours of labour in return. In other words, it is called barter of labour. Though this practice was in vogue long back, farmers used to resort to this practice when they face crisis of farm labour, Deputy Director Agriculture, Prafulla Mishra, said. “This practice of labour exchange is slowly picking up in some pockets due to the deepening of farm labour crisis. It was the only way out for farmers, who could not necessary arrange cash for wage payment in many coastal pockets. We have received reports of labour exchange from some areas”, he said.Another farmer Mukund Behera (53) of Nikirai village in Kendrapara district had no clue how to harvest his paddy crop as he had little cash to pay wages to labourers. He negotiated an understanding with a fellow farmer Gokuli Rout living in the same neighbourhood to get the harvesting done with the latter’s help. In return, he pledged to work in Rout’s field. “We have begun the harvesting. After Rout’s harvesting comes to an end, it will be my turn. We hope to finish the joint operation in eight to ten days from now,” Behera said.”We usually hire labourers for paddy cultivation. This year, we have a good crop and unless it is harvested in time, there will be huge waste. The Centre resorted to demonetization move, hitting us hard. Without adequate cash, finding farm labourers was very difficult,” he said.”It is a crisis situation. Toiling in other farmer’s field would not lower one’s dignity. But it is the need of the hour. Labour exchange also fosters a cordial social bond among farmers”, he added.

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