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Now, black money hoarders face 4 years in jail

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Cabinet has adopted amendments to the Income-Tax (IT) Act, incorporating a provision of 4-year imprisonment for those not able to explain their bank deposits. The government has also introduced a new disclosure scheme, Gareeb Kalyan Yojna, for those with unaccounted money.So far, there has been no penal provision under the I-T law and sources said that the amendments have already been sent to the President for his assent and they are likely to be introduced in Parliament next week.Black money holders investing in Gareeb Kalyan Yojna will have to pay a 50 per cent tax. Only 25 per cent of the total amount disclosed will be available for immediate use. “The rest of the money will be locked in for four years at zero interest and they (black money hoarders) will be issued bonds. The money will remain with the government and it will be used to budget cash-strapped social welfare schemes to uplift the poor,” sources said.The Union Cabinet, which met here late on Thursday evening, was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Anyone not availing Gareeb Kalyan Yojna till December 30 and gets subsequently caught will face a higher penalty of over 60 per cent. Sources said the move was aimed at helping those struggling with unaccounted income after the government demonetized high-value currency notes.A proposal to levy a 90 per cent tax and penalty has also been incorporated in the amendment, if the assessees do not declare unaccounted cash voluntarily. After demonetization, the government had given a 50-day window beginning November 10 for either depositing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes in circulation or for exchanging them.While the tax authorities had mulled levying a 200 per cent penalty for unexplained deposit above Rs 2.5 lakh between November 10 and December 30, it was felt that it may not get legal backing. It is to plug those loopholes, the Union Cabinet approved these amendments to the I-T Act.Sources said that without these amendments, the purpose of demonetization would have failed to yield results. The tax rate, however, cannot be the same as those for honest taxpayers.At the Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister also asked central ministries to switch to online transactions or issue cheques to have minimum face-to-face interactions with clients. He directed them to ensure downstream payments, including from contractors and labourers, go cashless too. On Friday, the Food and Agriculture ministries held meetings to chalk out steps to shift to cashless transactions at the earliest. Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, told DNA that he has directed officials to achieve 100 per cent cashless transactions in 15 days.The ministry is sending an advisory to state governments to promote cashless transactions at ration shops by installing card readers in Point of Sale (POS) machines. “Cashless transactions should be made a pre-condition in all contract works for making further payments. I will hold further review meetings next week,” he said.

No jail term but 3-year ban for celebs endorsing misleading ads: GoM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Diluting proposed penalties on endorsement of misleading ads, a GoM headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has dropped a panel’s recommendation for jail term to celebrities found guilty and decided to ban such offenders for up to three years.Now, the Consumer Affairs Ministry will move a cabinet note seeking approval for moving these additional amendments to the new Consumer Protection Bill 2015, which has already been introduced in Lok Sabha to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act.Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan is hoping to see the passage of this bill in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning from November 16. “In a recent meeting, the Group of Ministers discussed about the Parliamentary panel’s recommendation to impose jail term for celebs endorsing misleading ads. Since no country has such a stringent penalty, the GoM decided that instead of imposing jail term, they should be banned from endorsements,” a senior government official said.The GoM recommended that the first time offenders should be fined Rs 10 lakh and banned for one year, while the second and subsequent offenders should be fined Rs 50 lakh and banned for up to three years, the official said.A Parliamentary panel had recommended a fine of Rs 10 lakh and a jail term of up to two years for first time offence, while a fine of Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of five years for second and subsequent offence.”Incorporating the GoM suggestions, the ministry will soon move a cabinet note on the new bill,” he said.The GoM has also approved other recommendations of the panel to impose hefty penalty for adulteration besides license suspension/cancellation as well as inclusion of deficiency in services in product liability.It has agreed to provide an enabling provision to make rules to regulate e-commerce and direct selling, and remove overlap of powers of Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) and the Consumer Fora. It has also removed a provision for penalty on consumers for frivolous complaints.

SC directs Parsvnath developers to give flat to MoS Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in 2 days

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court directed Parsvnath developers on Friday to hand over possession of a flat in its Gurgaon project to Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in two days. A bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said “the possession of flat shall be handed over to the respondent in two days” and said Rathore should not pay any more amount to the developer.The apex court said the issue of compensation to be paid by the realty firm to Rathore for the delayed possession would be dealt with at a later stage of the hearing. During the hearing, counsel appearing for the builder said the flat was ready and they could handover possession. Rathore had booked a flat in Parsvnath’s Exotica project in Gurgaon in 2006 and paid around Rs 70 lakh for it. The firm was to deliver the flat in 2008-09. In January this year, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) had directed the bulider to refund the principal amount with interest and compensation to Rathore. Earlier, the apex court had rapped real-estate firms for making tall claims to purchasers which remained unfulfilled due to inordinate delay in completing the housing projects. The court had on October 18 directed the SC registry to disburse Rs 12 crore, deposited by real estate firm Parsvnath Buildwell Pvt Ltd, to 70 home buyers on pro-rata basis after proper identification. It had also directed the firm to deposit Rs 10 crore by December 10 with Supreme Court registry. The apex court’s observation had come after Parsvnath Buildwell Pvt Ltd had said it would give the flats to 70 home buyers, who are before the court, by December 17.

Selling packaged water above MRP will lead to stringent penalty: Govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sale of packaged water and soft drinks above MRP (Maximum Retail Price) — including at airports, multiplexes and hotels — will attract stringent penal actions like fines and jail term, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday.”Charging above MRP is violation of the law. But we still see at airports, multiplex and hotels, that packaged water is sold at more than the MRP. This needs to be stopped,” Paswan said in New Delhi.He said packaged drinking water is sold at 10-20% higher rates at these places, while in some cases, MRP is not even written on the water bottle and “soft drinks like Coca Cola are sold in loose at an increased rate”.”We have sufficient powers to take action against violators and we will take if consumers file complaints in this regard. There is penalty and even jail term for violators,” Paswan said on the sidelines of an event.Speaking at an event commemorating 47th World’s Standards Day with theme of ‘Standards build trust’, the Minister said the ‘ISI’ quality certification mark is mandatory for packaged water bottles and this needs to be implemented in true spirit in the interest of consumers.Recently, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) had imposed a penalty on a multiplex for selling water above MRP, he said adding that there is a need to create more awareness about consumer rights on this. “Despite this judgement, water is still continued to be sold above MRP in multiplexes and airports. So, consumers need to be more aware and file complaints. If there is no complaint, how can we take action?” he said.Talking about standards, the Minister said the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme cannot be successful unless domestic products/services follow the standards of international level.Calling for building trust among consumers about Indian standards, he said, “We go abroad and buy branded clothes happily when we see the label ‘Made in US’. The moment we see ‘Made in India’ label, we don’t buy as there is lack of trust among consumers.””This perception needs to be changed by creating awareness among consumers by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which is the nodal agency for making standards,” he said.Stating that BIS makes standards for betterment of both industry and also to protect consumers, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs C R Choudhary said: “I would like to request the industry to follow standards strictly because those will survive who will provide best goods/services to consumers.” More than 35 countries are adopting Indian standards and BIS is working on having unified standards for SAARC nations, he added.

All MNREGA projects in Maharashtra to be under GPS, GIS watch

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to usher in greater transparency and accountability in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MNREGA) works, Maharashtra is gearing up to implement the geographic information system (GIS) to digitise and decentralise the planning, monitoring and implementation of the scheme.GIS would enable the government to visualise and analyse the impact of NREGA with the help of real-time and micro data. Under the project, satellite images and scanned images with real world coordinates for all the projects across 28,600 gram panchayats are being created. The entire geo-tagged data of assets, such as water-sheds, farm ponds, irrigation channels and road layers, will be uploaded on a portal.A nine-member GIS working group, headed by the secretary of employment guarantee scheme, was constituted on Monday. The move followed the Union government’s June direction.”The working group has been tasked to lay out a detailed road map, streamline the process to procure satellite images from the National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) for each project, create a portal and geo-tag each project under the scheme,” said a state government official.Apart from effective and scientific planning, the move aims to ensure effective manpower management and validation of assets created in villages across the state. Moreover, the portal will also allow people to participate in the planning of upcoming projects and auditing of the on-going and completed projects.MNREGA has been marred with charges of corruption, duplicacy of projects and haphazard planning since beginning. Gujarat was first in the country to implement GIS in NREGA in 2011. Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and many other states have already been working on it.With the GIS, the Union Rural Development Ministry seeks to have an integrated view of the asset information system pan rural India. An official said, “An exclusive Bhuvan–MGNREGA Geo-portal is being established for the purpose. The NREGA monitoring will soon be available on a mobile app as well. The entire digitisation and geo-tagging of assets in all states is expected to be completed by year end.”The schemeMNREGA ensures right to work by offering a minimum of 100 days of work in a year in rural areas, to every household in which adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Wages differ from state to state and are revised time to time, as per the Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour. At present, the wages range from Rs150-175 a day.Under the scheme, 14 types of works are done, including water conservation and harvesting, drought-proofing including afforestation and tree plantation, irrigation canals, land development, rural connectivity, flood control, protection works and renovation of water bodies. Around 30 lakh assets are created annually under the scheme.

Govt considers proposal to ban celebrities from endorsing if found guilty of misleading ads

New Delhi: A proposal to ban celebrities from endorsements if found guilty of being part of a misleading advertisements is being considered by the Consumer Affairs Ministry, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Thursday.

File photo of Ram Vilas Paswan. AFP

File photo of Ram Vilas Paswan. AFP

Paswan was however non-committal on a Parliamentary panel recommendation for jail term to celebrities found guilty.

A group of ministers, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in late August, asked the ministry to look at laws of other countries related to misleading ads by celebrities before finalising the amendments to the Bill based on the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

The Committee had recommended a jail term of up to five years and a fine of Rs 50 lakh for celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements.

“We will take action against celebrities endorsing misleading advertisements. We have studied the laws prevailing in other countries on celebrities for misleading ads. There are penalties in some countries. There is a provision for ban of three years for celebrities in some countries and a life time ban in case of repeated offence,” Paswan told reporters.

“All these suggestions are under consideration. We will soon go to the Cabinet,” he said on the sidelines of an Assocham event ‘National Summit & Awards on FMCG’.

He declined to comment whether the ministry will accept the Parliamentary panel’s recommendation of jail term for celebrities.

Paswan said his ministry is preparing a cabinet note for moving additional amendments to the new Consumer Protection bill 2015, which has already been introduced in Lok Sabha to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act.

“We hope the bill will be passed in the coming session of Parliament,” he said, adding that the new law would have stringent provisions for adulteration.

Paswan asked the industry not to indulge in misleading ads and said that celebrities should endorse only what is mentioned on the products.

Air India to pay compensation of Rs 1L for serving stale food

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Air India has been directed to pay Rs one lakh by the apex consumer commission as compensation for serving stale food to a passenger aboard a Mumbai-New York flight.The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, while dismissing the revision petition filed by the airline in 2015, said “the nature of deficiency in service” could have affected the health of several passengers. “Taking into account the nature of deficiency in service and the fact that it would have affected the health of several passengers, we do not find any fault with the order of State Commission enhancing compensation to Rs one lakh,” the bench, presided by Justice Ajit Bharihoke, said while also upholding the award of Rs 10,000 as litigation cost by district forum.The Maharashtra State Consumer Commission had earlier enhanced to Rs one lakh from Rs 15,000, the compensation awarded by the district forum, saying the passenger might have been required to go foodless during the remaining journey and such conditions create a bad situation during air travel.According to the complaint filed by Malti Madhukar Pahade, she was served with stale food while travelling in the Air India flight from Mumbai to New York. She claimed she also found a strand of hair in the rice bowl. Pahade described the bad state of curd served and referred it as “green as cherry”.While challenging the State Commission’s order, Air India contended that the enhancement of compensation by the State Commission was not justified as it was “highly disproportionate to the negligence/deficiency in service alleged by the complainant.”The bench, also comprising member SM Kantikar, dismissed the contention and upheld the state commission’s order which said a passenger travelling with a reputed airline expected minimum courtesy and proper food for human consumption. It also noted that the airline had fined the caterer Rs 20,000 for serving stale food on board.”We do not wish to comment upon the motive or reason of the concerned authority to impose such a meagre amount of fine on the defaulting caterer particularly when the food supplied by the caterer is served to all the passengers travelling in the flight,” the bench said.

Bengaluru: NCDR directs school to pay Rs 50L for negligence to student who has ‘become vegetable’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The apex consumer commission has directed a private educational institution in Bengaluru to pay a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to a student who suffered brain inflammation due to alleged negligence of teachers during a study tour. The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission while disposing of an appeal filed by BNM Educational Institutions said the teachers accompanying this student and other children on the trip were negligent in performing their duty.NCDRC reduced the compensation amount from Rs 88.7 lakh granted to the girl by the state commission to Rs 50 lakh. “I have no hesitation in holding that since the teachers accompanying the complainant (child) were grossly negligent in taking her care despite taking such care being their mandatory duty … the appellants (institutions and school principal) have rightly been held vicariously liable for the said negligence and accordingly have to duly compensate the complainant, to the extent such a compensation is possible,” NCDRC Presiding Member VK Jain said.According to the complaint, Akshatha was among a group of students and teachers which travelled to North India as part of a study trip organised by the school in December 2006. On reaching Delhi, the girl had fever which was allegedly not taken proper care of by the teachers. The complaint further alleged that the girl was made to continue in the trip despite bad health. The bench, after taking note of medical reports and other documents, observed “a sudden blackout and becoming unconscious even for a minute or so, warranted immediate medical attention to the complainant by a qualified doctor. This was not something which could be ignored…”It also held that not taking the girl to a hospital, even after she had a repeat episode of blackout during the trip was a “clear indicator of the negligence, apathy and indifference” displayed by the teachers towards the health of the child. The school authorities, however, denied the allegations and claimed that the 14-year-old girl was not keeping good health for three months prior to the tour but this fact was withheld by her parents from them. They also denied negligence on their part in taking care of the girl.Noting that the girl was “not in a position even to identify her parents and her cognitive and perpetual abilities are seriously impaired”, the NCDRC said she was stated to have “become vegetable like for all practical purposes and needs to be bedridden 24 hours.””Considering all facts and circumstances of the case, the appellant in my opinion should pay a consolidated amount of Rs 50,00,000 as an all-inclusive one time compensation to the complainant,” the judge said.

Indian call centres a source of imposter frauds: US

Indian call centres continue to be the source of various frauds, the US government told lawmakers on Wednesday and said American officials were training Indian law enforcement agencies to act against the fraudsters.Lois C Greisman, Associate Director, Division of Marketing Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, at US Federal Trade Commission in her testimony before Senate Judiciary Committee said certain types of scams are more likely to impact older Americans, such as prize promotion and lottery schemes and imposter schemes purporting to provide technical support to “fix” non-existent computer problems.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Listing out various areas of concerns, Greisman listed fraud calls originating from India as one of them. “Another area of international concern involves Indian call centres, which like their Jamaican counterparts, continue to be the source of various imposter frauds that have reached consumers throughout the English-speaking world,” she said.”In addition to our enforcement cases, the FTC has organised three stakeholder meetings, including two in India, to develop a coordinated and multi-pronged approach to this threat,” she said.The most recent event, held this May in Washington DC, included representatives from several major technology companies, the US, Canadian and UK law enforcement, the Indian call center industry group and Indian government officials, Greisman said.”One result of this collaboration is a four-city law enforcement training in India this summer, in which the FTC is participating, aimed at developing Indian law enforcement’s capacity to arrest and prosecute the India-based individuals who perpetrate these frauds,” she said.The FTC will also continue to develop cross-border initiatives with our sister enforcement agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom, Greisman told lawmakers. Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said criminals have found deceptive ways to “set the hook” on a particular victim and then return for more.One study found that seniors who had been scammed out of just US $20 ended up losing an additional US $2,000 to other scams over the next five years. “But the most devastating impact of these crimes goes beyond seniors’ bank accounts. Victims of financial exploitation can experience loss of independence, deteriorated health and psychological distress all of which diminish the quality of life,” Grassley said.”In my home state of Iowa, we’re hearing more and more about sweetheart scams, where fraudsters cultivate a romantic relationship with a lonely elder typically online and then convince the senior to part with his or her hard earned money,” he said.

PM Modi pulls up officials over pile-up of large volume of complaints

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday pulled up officials for the large volume of complaints related to the e-commerce sector, such as booking of tickets and hotel reservations, and asked for taking steps to decisively address issues and for an effective follow-up action within next 10 days.Chairing his 13th interaction through PRAGATI — the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation — he called for increased efficiency and for more effective redressal of consumer grievances. He asked the officials for a comprehensive review of the nature of issues and work towards fixing responsibility and identifying solutions for them.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Top bureaucrats informed him about the steps being taken in this regard, including augmenting the capacity of the National Consumer Helpline.The Prime Minister also reviewed the progress of vital infrastructure projects in the road, railway, power, coal and mining sectors, spread over several states including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha, and Uttarakhand. He reviewed the progress in the installation of solar pumps across the country. It was noted that solar pumps with a total capacity of 208 MegaWatts have already been installed so far across the country.Those who interacted with the PM included Chief Secretaries of several states including Jharkhand, Telangana, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. He was informed that solar pumps are helping provide clean drinking water in remote and Naxalite affected areas of the country, particularly in South Bastar area of Chhattisgarh.During a review of the preparations for dealing with floods, the Prime Minister emphasised that states should identify vulnerable areas, properly conduct mock drills, and carry out desiltation work to ensure the efficacy of flood-relief mechanisms. He also emphasised the need for efforts towards water conservation.

India to buy tur dal from Mozambique for next five years

India, which is under pressure to check price rise in pulses, has offered to buy tur dal from Mozambique for the next five years at the support price plus additional transportation cost.Pulse prices in domestic markets are retailing as high as Rs 198 per kg due to shortfall in the local output in the wake of two consecutive droughts.According to sources, India has asked the Mozambique government if it can supply tur dal for the next five years on a government-to-government basis.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has offered to buy tur dal at the minimum support price (MSP) plus carrying and transportation cost. A draft proposal has been submitted to the African nation, which is yet to respond, they added.The MSP of tur dal has been fixed at Rs 5,050 per quintal, which includes a bonus of Rs 200 for 2016-17 crop year (July-June).An Indian team headed by Consumer Affairs Secretary Hem Pande, recently visited the African nation to negotiate the long-term arrangement for tur dal supply.After the visit, Pande said, “The delegation is back with long-term solution in sight. The final draft is awaiting response of the Mozambique government. The Government of India is expecting positive response as soon as possible.” The talks were “positive” and the country’s pulse supply would improve once the long-term arrangement is signed, he had said.Mozambique grows around 70,000 tonnes pulses, mainly tur dal and some urad. The entire quantity is exported to India and for meeting NRI demand in other parts of world. Its rabi tur crop is expected to arrive by September-October.India is also negotiating with Myanmar for the long-term supply of tur dal at similar rates and the latter is yet to respond.In the domestic market, retail pulse prices have risen unabated for more than a year and at present ruling close to Rs 200 per kg in view of 7-mt shortfall in domestic output following two drought years.To tame price rise, the government is creating buffer stock of pulses of up to 8 lakh tonnes from domestic procurement and imports. It has imposed stock holding limits to check hoarding, banned chana futures and is also selling tur and urad at subsidised rates to give relief to consumers.India’s pulse output is estimated to be 17.06 mt in 2015-16 crop year (July-June), marginally lower than the previous year’s production of 17.15 mt. But the estimated output is lower than the overall demand of 23.5 mt.

Madras High Court issues notice to govt, Coca Cola on pricing of beverages in cinema halls

The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered issue of notice to Tamil Nadu government, soft drink giant Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd and others on a PIL seeking to prohibit the sale of beverages and snacks at exobitant rates in cinema halls in the city.Hearing the petition by one G Devarajan, Justice M Sathyanarayana ordered issue of notice to Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Private Limited, S2 Cinemas and Special Government Pleader P Sanjay Gandhi on behalf of the Commissioner of Food, Civil Supplies, Consumer Protection and Price Control Protection Department, the Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies Consumer protection and price control, along with other authorities.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The petitioner submitted that the theatre owners prevented the movie-goers from bringing food from outside outside, thus leaving the audience with no other option but to purchase them from the stalls inside the halls, which were sold at exorbitant rates. Alleging that the Hindustan Coco Cola colluded with cinema theatres to swindle the public of their money, he prayed to the Court to direct the concerned authorities to take action against overcharging customers for products and initiate action against them.

Cheap Chinese coriander is flavour of the season

Forget all those made-in-China cheap toys and electronic gadgets that have flooded Indian markets, what’s in vogue this sparse season is Chinese coriander.This variety of the aromatic plant, the leaves and seeds of which are used as culinary herbs, comes with the dragon tag for the seeds are imported from China.For the local vendors, it comes cheap, and in large quantity. “What else is required for Chinese certification,” they ask.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At a time when veggie prices are sky-rocketing, and indigenous coriander is disappearing from retail shops, the Chinese coriander has come as a welcome relief and is much in demand.It also comes at less than half the price, compared to the home-grown variety.”Homemakers, who were reluctant in purchasing coriander because of its high prices, are happy. While Indian coriander is priced at Rs 50-80 per bunch, the Chinese variety comes as cheap as Rs 25-30 per bunch,” said Rajesh Mahale, a vendor at Navi Mumbai. “Unlike other vegetable items, people don’t want to spend much on coriander and other curry leaves,” he added.Not just the vendors, the farmers too have taken a liking for the Chinese coriander.”Chinese coriander will yield three consecutive crops from one-time sowing. It is harvested by cutting the stem from near to its roots. The plant will regrow in no time. Indian coriander, however, could be harvested only once as they are uprooted and gathered,” said Nanasaheb Patil, chairman of Agriculture Product Market Committee, Lasalgaon.”Also, the yield from the Chinese variety is high,” said Patil confirming that Chinese coriander seeds are hybrid and imported.According to Deepak Gujar, another vendor, there are stark differences between the Indian and Chinese coriander. Chinese coriander, which comes mostly brought from Gujarat and parts of Nasik, is mostly bought by hoteliers and Chinese restaurants. “Chinese coriander leaves are large in size and slightly different in shape. Also they are not strong in aroma when compared to Indian variety,” he said.”However, the buyers compare the prices and calculate their budget and leave with Chinese coriander. There are hardly any takers for Indian variety, though we do keep them,” said Gujar wondering whom should be blamed for the trend. “Drought and delayed monsoon have left an impact on the market. Consumer is left with no other option but to be content with Chinese coriander,” he said.Reshami Bhagat, a resident of Thane, said that they are buying less vegetable and spending more nowadays. “Earlier, I used to buy Indian coriander. My household budget is going haywire due to skyrocketing vegetables prices. We know that the Chinese coriander will not give the taste and aroma of India coriander. But, at least we get the satisfaction seeing dishes garnished with these leaves,” she said.

Pulses price rise: Govt orders crackdown on hoarders as prices reach Rs 200/kg

As pulses continued to soar to touch up to Rs 200 per kg, intelligence agencies were on Thursday asked to crack down on cartels, while futures trade was curbed to check speculation and buffer stock was hiked over 5-times to 8 lakh tonnes to boost supply in a multi-pronged approach.Efforts were also beefed up to sell larger quantities of pulses at highly-subsidised rates through government agencies and outlets, but any favourable results were hardly visible in the retail and wholesale markets.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Urad dal was selling at as high as Rs 196 per kg, while chana was also seen moving closer to Rs 100 per kg level. Tur dal continued to rule high at Rs 166 per kg, while moong and masur were being sold at Rs 125 and Rs 105 per kg, respectively, as per the latest government data.In some high-end markets in cities like Mumbai and Delhi, the prices of pulses were even higher.Taking forward the decisions taken at a high-profile meeting chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday, the Food Ministry decided to enhance the buffer stock of pulses from 1.5 lakh tonnes to 8 lakh tonnes. Markets regulator Sebi joined hands by banning any fresh futures market position in chana, the only commodity among pulses where such trading was allowed.At the outlets of the government agencies, further stocks were added to sell pulses at subsidised rates, including at Rs Rs 60 per kg for chana (gram) dal and 120 per kg for urad and tur dal.Concerned over rising prices, Consumer Affairs Secretary Hem Pande held a meeting with the officials of Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Income Tax, the Enforcement Directorate and Intelligence Bureau (IB). He also interacted with state government officials of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi via video conferencing and asked them to be alert to check hoarders.”I have asked all of them to pull up their socks and ensure that no artificial rise in pulses’ prices take place,” Pande told reporters after the meeting.Enforcement agencies have also been directed to check cartelisation and hoarding of pulses, he added.The secretary said that officials concerned have been told to keep a track of the entire supply chain of imported dal from shipment to final delivery point. That apart, the states have been told to sell tur and urad from the buffer stock at a subsidised rate of not more than Rs 120/kg and chana Rs 60/kg.”We have requested them (states) to cap the prices. We have told that the Centre will provide more pulses if state governments need,” Pande said.Meanwhile, Sebi decided to stop launch of new contracts in chana futures and any fresh position in existing contracts to check any speculative rally. It asked the investors to wind down their existing positions. Production of pulses is estimated to have declined to 17.06 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) due to two consecutive years of drought.The buffer stock is being created through domestic procurement as well as through imports in order to address the deficit of 7.6 million tonnes of pulses.

Crop damage hits tomato supply; prices surge up to Rs 80 per kg

New Delhi: Tomato prices in most retail markets across the country have doubled to up to Rs 80 per kg in last 15 days due to sluggish supply owing to crop damage.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Earlier this month, prices of tomato – a key kitchen vegetable – were ruling in the range of Rs 20-40 per kg, as per data maintained by the Consumer Affairs Ministry.

Among metros, Chennai recorded the highest price at Rs 80 per kg today compared with Rs 44 per kg on 1 June.

Similarly in Kolkata, the price is ruling at Rs 60 per kg on Tuesday as against Rs 30 per kg earlier this month.

In Mumbai, rates have risen to Rs 58 per kg from 38 per kg while in Delhi, prices have surged to Rs 51 per kg from Rs 25 per kg in the said period, the ministry data showed.

“Tomato prices have increased in last 15 days in Delhi. There is no sufficient supply as the crop got damaged in Haryana and Punjab because of unseasonal rains,” Azadpur Tomato Merchants Association President Ashok Kaushik said.

Due to rains, the crop in South India also got affected ecause of which prices have also risen there, he said, adding that even heat stress in north India has damaged the crop in
some parts.

Unlike potato and onion, there is short shelf life of tomato. The absence of adequate cold storage facilities in the supply chain has aggravated the problem.

The country’s tomato production is estimated at 18.28 million tonnes in the 2015-16 crop year (July-June) as against 16.38 million tonnes in the previous year.

Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Odisha are the major tomato growing states in the country.

Identify temples where Dalits can’t enter: Ram Vilas Paswan tells Centre

LJP supremo Ram Vilas Paswan on Sunday condemned the attack on BJP MP Tarun Vijay for leading Dalits into a temple in Dehradun recently and urged Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to identify temples and public places where their entry is prohibited.”We will request Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to get the work done on identification of temples and public places where Dalits and women are prohibited and if necessary, central forces should be deployed at such places,” Paswan told reporters, referring to the recent Supreme Court order that allowed women to enter temples.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, who was accompanied by party’s Parliamentary Board chairman Chirag Paswan, said a case of conspiracy to kill Vijay should be registered and speedy trial conducted in the matter.A mob had on May 20 attacked Vijay and Dalit leaders for visiting a temple in Chakrata in Dehradun where entry of Dalits is prohibited. Paswan said he would take up the matter with Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat.”After so many years of Independence and laws against untouchability, Dalits are still prohibited from entering temples and if someone like Tarun Vijay, who is an MP, tries to take Dalits into temples, he is attacked,” Paswan said.The minister said steps should be taken to ensure entry of Dalits into temples and public places where from they are, at present, prohibited.

Bihar: Paswan to sit on dharna tomorrow in support of toddy sellers

LJP chief and Union minister Ramvilas Paswan on Sunday said he will sit on a dharna here tomorrow demanding rollback of the decision to ban toddy under total prohibition as he lent support to the Pasi community which is up in arms against the move.”I will sit on dharna at Gardanibagh at 2 PM tomorrow in support of the toddy on ‘toddy’ (juice made from palm tree) cultivators and traders as it is their sole source of livelihood for ages which the Nitish Kumar government has tried to muzzle by banning toddy under total prohibition in Bihar,” Paswan told reporters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing toddy as “juice” and not liqour, he questioned the Nitish Kumar government’s wisdom in banning the traditional beverage, the cultivation and sale of which has sustained families of the Pasi community for generations. He demanded that the state government withdraw the decision, otherwise many people might have to commit commit suicide in fear loss of their only source of livelihood.Paswan, the Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister, defended consumption of toddy in raw form before sunshine, saying the juice was good for health, a view that even Mahatma Gandhi held. He said RJD supremo Lalu Prasad as Chief Minister had kept toddy out of the Excise Act in 1991 allowing free trade of this traditional beverage.The LJP supremo questioned Prasad for his silence over the incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to ban sale of toddy altogether at public places.”Why is Lalu Prasad not speaking on the toddy issue when he had himself lifted all restrictions on its sale long ago as the then chief minister in 1991?” Paswan asked.The state government has banned the sale of toddy at public places as part of prohibition in Bihar, but backed trade of ‘Nira’ (pure juice of palm tree) in organised manner.

Ram Vilas Paswan dubs Nitish Kumar being a ‘PM material’ as frivolous issue

Taking a dim view of JD(U) and RJD endorsing Nitish Kumar having ‘PM material’, LJP supremo and Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan on Thursday described the issue as “frivolous.””It’s a frivolous question…I don’t wish to comment on it,” he said in reply to a question on his views on JD(U) and RJD endorsing Kumar having ‘PM material’.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”What is the material” about it? Paswan shot back at reporters when pressed further for his views on the issue.
ALSO READ Bihar Dy CM Tejaswi backs father Lalu Yadav’s support to Nitish Kumar as PM candidatePaswan said that he had been given mandate to make Bihar a crime-free state, but murder, including that of police officers, had become the order of the day.”There is a murder taking place everyday….even police officers are falling prey to criminals,” he said, adding that three policemen were killed by criminals in the state.Paswan, however, said that nobody was stopping one from projecting oneself as PM candidate.JD(U) leaders have been egging on Kumar to take forward his prime ministerial ambition by describing him as ‘PM material’ ever since he has taken over the post of the party’s national president from Sharad Yadav recently. RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and his Deputy Chief Minister son Tejaswi Yadav also endorsed the chief minister’s prime ministerial ambition.

Drinking water not safe in Delhi, says Ram Vilas Paswan

Drinking water supplied by the Delhi Jal Board is not safe for consumption as prescribed quality standards are not being met, Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Tuesday.The Minister also urged consumers to complain if packaged drinking water is sold above maximum retail price at places like five star hotels, cinemas and airport so that the government can take strict action against such sellers.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The issue of safe drinking water was discussed in the meeting today. Nobody can drink tap water in Delhi. Delhi’s water is not safe for drinking, though there are quality standards in place,” Paswan told reporters after the meeting of the Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC).Food safety regulator FSSAI informed in the meeting that Delhi’s municipal corporation is responsible for setting the quality standards of drinking water, he said.”The Council was of the view that safe drinking water is the constitutional right of the people and the quality standards should be followed strictly,” he said.The Minister said regulation of quality of piped water should come under the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), while also regulates packaged drinking water.At present, it is mandatory for companies to comply with quality standards of packaged drinking water unlike piped water. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) under the Consumer Affairs Ministry is working on upgrading the quality standards for piped water and make it compulsory.To protect consumers from overpricing of packaged drinking water at select places, the Minister said both the Delhi High Court and consumer courts have given several rulings that packaged drinking water should be sold at MRP at all places.”There is lack of awareness among consumers on such issues. Be it cricket stadium or five star hotel or airport, if consumers see they are being charged more than MRP for packaged drinking water they should file complaint. We will take strict action,” Paswan added.Paswan also said the government will set up additional 50 consumer helpline counters in the next 15 days, taking the total number of helpline counters to 62. He also reviewed the performance of Grahak Suvidha Kendras being run on a pilot basis at five places.

Jamshedpur: 6 journalists injured after being lathicharged by police, 3 constables suspended

Jamshedpur: Six journalists and photo-journalists were injured when police used canes on them in front of a police station in Jamshedpur prompting the authorities to suspend three constables and close its officer-in-charge.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The incident occurred before the Sitaramdera police station on Sunday night when the scribes and photographers rushed to the police station on being informed that Jharkhand Food Supply and Consumer Affair Minister Saryu Roy visited the police station to enquire about a builder, who had lodged a FIR against a BJP district committee member for allegedly demanding Rs five lakh, was detained by the police, a police officer said.

A group of BJP supporters also demonstrated in front the police station. When police used canes to disperse the demonstrators, they also did not spare the media persons injuring six of them. The injured were later rushed to the MGM Hospital, where they were provided treatment and released at 1.30 am.

After meeting a delegation of the Press Club here, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Anoop T Mathew suspended three police constables while the officer-in-charge of concerned police station, Jayant Tirkey was closed, he said.

Consumer Affairs minister Paswan pushes for stricter food safety practices; pitches for ‘not healthy food’ warning on junk food

New Delhi: Pushing for stricter food safety practice, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Tuesday pitched for a statutory warning ‘not healthy food’ on junk food packets like chips on the lines of cigarette packs.

The Minister said he will write to the Health Minister on this issue.

Paswan also announced that the government will introduce e-warranty system to protect consumers in case they misplace warranties/ guarantees in physical forms.

“In some countries, it is written on the label if junk foods are healthy or not. We do not. We have received suggestions if cigarette pack can carry a warning ‘it is injurious to health’, then why not ‘not healthy food’ warning on junk foods,” Paswan said after announcing “antibiotics’ off the menu” as theme of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day.

A file photo of Ram Vilas Paswan. ReutersA file photo of Ram Vilas Paswan. Reuters

A file photo of Ram Vilas Paswan. Reuters

Since the issue is related to health, the Minister said, “I will write to the Health Ministry on this issue. We will see if something can be done in this area.”

Expressing concern over content of labels being written in tiny letters, Paswan said, “The letters on labels and their size is so small that no consumer can read. We have been thinking on this issue for last two years. We need to increase the size of the label.”

Though the state officials are required to keep a check on such matters, but the industry can self regulate and follow ethical business code of conduct, he said.

On e-warranty, Paswan said once the new Consumer Protection bill, which is being vetted by a Parliamentary
panel, is passed in Parliament, it will pave the way for introduction of e-warranty for products sold to consumers.

This will help in global tracking of goods and consumers need not keep the documents related to warranties and
guarantees in physical forms. Rather the industry will maintain stock of warranties on behalf of each and every
consumer in digital format, he added.

On UN’s revised guidelines on consumer protection, the Minister said that a committee would be set up to implement the guidelines in the country.

Paswan further said that passage of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) bill is another major step forward in empowering the central government and BIS to promote culture of quality product and services through the enforcement of mandatory and voluntary compliance with Indian standards through conformity assessment schemes.

Talking about ill effects of antibiotics in foods, the Minister said, “Antibiotic resistance infections are already
spreading all part of the world. Urgent action need to be taken to stop use of antibiotics in farming and foods.”

Paswan said he would speak to agriculture and health ministries on this issue.

Both the government and industry on Tuesday signed an agreement and pledged to implement self regulation code of ethical business covering six broad principles including ‘never indulge in unfair trade practices’, ‘marketing products ethically’ and ‘respond to consumer complaints promptly’.


Boost for Swachh Bharat: Former bureaucrat appointed secretary MoDW and Sanitation

New Delhi: In a rare case, former IAS officer and well known sanitation specialist Parameswaran Iyer was on Wednesday appointed as secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, which plays a key role in the government’s ambitious Swachh Bharat initiative.

The Swachh Bharat logo. Screengrab from MoDWS websiteThe Swachh Bharat logo. Screengrab from MoDWS website

The Swachh Bharat logo. Screengrab from MoDWS website

It is probably for the first time that a former bureaucrat has been appointed to the post in the Ministry instead of a serving IAS officer.

The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved the appointment of Iyer, who had taken voluntary retirement from Indian Administrative Service, on contract for a period two years, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.

The mandate of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is to provide technical and financial assistance to the states for accelerating rural sanitation coverage, among others.

The 56-year-old Iyer, a 1981 batch IAS officer hailing from Tamil Nadu had taken voluntary retirement in 2009. He worked as Senior Rural Water Sanitation Specialist at the United Nations between April 1998 and February 2006.

Iyer is known as leading water and sanitation specialist worldwide.

In another order, senior IAS officer Anil Kumar Agarwal has been appointed Secretary, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST). Agarwal, a 1981 batch IAS officer of West Bengal cadre, is currently Secretary in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA).

The Centre had last month decided to merge the MOIA with the External Affairs Ministry.

Kamal Chowdhery has been appointed as Managing Director of National Cooperative Consumer’s Federation of India Limited (NCCF), apex body of consumer cooperative societies in the country, under the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Chowdhery, a 1991 batch officer of Indian Defence Accounts Service, has been appointed for a period of five years.

AK Poddar has been appointed Chief Vigilance Officer, who acts as a distant arm of Central Vigilance Commission, of Container Corporation of India Ltd (Concor).

Poddar, a 1987 batch officer of Indian Postal Service, has been appointed for two years.

The ACC has approved appointment of IPS officer Anand Kumar as Special Director in Intelligence Bureau.


After SC raps Gujarat, govt says it is prepared to implement National Food Security Act

A day after Supreme Court rapped it for non-implementation of National Food Security Act, Gujarat government on Tuesday said it is prepared to implement the Act.”Gujarat government is prepared to implement the Food Security Act. For this, we have already identified the eligible households as per the prescribed criterion. Under the Act, we have to publish a list in all the villages and cities to invite objections from citizens,” Gujarat government spokesperson Nitin Patel said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Till now, this process has been completed in all the villages. Now, we will start this process in cities and towns. We will also apprise the Supreme Court about these steps in the next hearing on February 17,” Patel said. Patel, who is also the Health Minister, said Supreme Court will be informed on the implementation front in the next hearing.The apex court on Monday rapped Gujarat government as well as some other states for not implementing the National Food Security Act. The court observed, “Does Gujarat want to breakaway from India? A law is passed by Parliament. Can a state say that it will not follow the law?””What is Parliament doing? What is Government of India doing? Is Gujarat not a part of India? The Act says it extends to whole of India and Gujarat is not implementing it,” a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said.State minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Bhupendrasinh Chudasama on Monday claimed that the state administration has planned to implement the National Food Security Act by April this year.Meanwhile, on being asked on Union WCD minister Maneka Gandhi’s suggestion made recently that sex determination test should be made compulsory, Patel said all states are governed by central laws and they cannot have a different view.”There is a central law about sex determination and all states abide by it. Thus, as a health minister of a state, I cannot have a view of my own on this,” he said.Gandhi suggested on Monday that sex determination test should be made compulsory to track women pregnant with a girl child as a measure to check female foeticide.

Govt giving a penny, extracting a pound: Congress on petrol, diesel prices

Congress on Friday night reacted sharply on “giving a penny and extracting a pound” on the issue of petrol and diesel prices.”The government, going by the price it is paying for international crude oil, should be selling petrol at Rs 19.40 per litre instead of Rs 59.03 per litre and diesel at Rs 15.71 per litre instead of Rs 44.18 per litre,” Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said that prices of international crude oil is 72.21 per cent lower than what they were on May 26, 2014 when the BJP government took over and a proportionate reduction in retail prices should be transferred to the consumer.”Profiteering at the cost of the common hapless consumer- farmer-commuter, the government has reduced the prices of diesel and petrol by a few paise today and has diabolically increased excise on petrol and diesel for the 8th consecutive time,” he said.

The many ‘old’ shades of Facebook vanity

The writer is founder & CEO of The Key Consumer Diagnostics, a Mumbai-based qualitative research and consumer intelligence company

Shalini Rawla

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Capital’s air quality worse this winter than last year

In its analysis, CSE has said that if half the cars stay off the road in support of the odd-even system, the total load of particulate matter and nitrogen oxide can be halved from the car segment, cutting down on nitrogen oxide, benzene and carbon monoxide emissions. Reiterating the impact of vehicles on air quality, a recent study of the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur showed that in winters, vehicles are second largest emitters of PM 2.5 pollutant after road dust. These pollutants are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and get deposited in our respiratory organs and are also known to be carcinogenic, leading to lung cancer.

dna Correspondent

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