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Mumbai: Five coaches of Kurla-Ambernath local derail, services on Kalyan-Karjat line suspended

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Five coaches of Kurla-Ambernath local train derailed between Kalyan and Vithalwadi railway station, on Thursday morning.According to initial information, the incident took place at 5:50 am. However, no person has been injured, but services on Kalyan-Karjat line have been suspended.”Derailment of local train on Down Line between Kalyan and Vithalwadi station on Kalyan-Karjat route. Train movement disrupted. Restoration work underway.” said DRM Mumbai Central on Twitter.Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) has been requested to run extra buses between Kalyan-Ambarnath and CST-Kalyan.However, Kasara suburban services have not been affected. DRM Mumbai also said that shuttle train services are being run between Ambarnath and Karjat.

The Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mill still lies on paper, the project now stuck in CRZ rules

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A year after ground breaking ceremony, the proposed grand memorial of Dr Ambedkar at the defunct Indu Mill in Dadar is still lying on papers. Among other reasons such as delay in allocation of funds, finalising the deisgn and red tape at the centre and state both, the project is also stuck in CRZ rules, dna has learnt. Over 6.4 acre of the total 12 acre Mill land allocated for the memorial falls under the highly restricted coastal regulation zone (CRZ). “The government now plans to use the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority’s contentious redefinition of the Mahim shore as a bay to pull 6.4 acres of the Indu Mill land out of the CRZ,” said a highly placed official from the environment department. Tenders for the Rs450 crore project have not been floated yet because of pending issues. Rajkumar Badole, social justice minister, admitted the delay and promises to iron out the issues under his purview. “For the CRZ, the environment department and MMRDA are working to address the issue.”The government has plans to use the 12-acre mill land in Dadar’s Prabhadevi for building a grand memorial of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar with 4 lakh square feet built up area. The Memorial will have 350 feet high statue, taller than Statue of Liberty. Centre-owned National Textile Corporation (NTC), which is in possession of the land, has agreed to transfer it to the state in lieu of compensation in the form of floating floor space index or buildable space.

50 days are up, time for whip-lashes? Uddhav Thackeray mocks PM Modi’s demonetizaton move

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Continuing his tirade against Narendra Modi government over demonetization, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray asked what should we do now as the ’50-day’ period the prime minister asked for was about to end.”Narendra Modi had said give me 50 days’ time (for the situation to normalise after demonetization) or else give me whip-lashes. Fifty days are getting over on December 30, what should we do on December 31?” Thackeray asked at a rally in Dhule, north Maharashtra.He expressed confidence that Sena will retain power in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Sena will win maximum number of municipal corporations in the coming polls and have maximum number of mayors elected, Thackeray claimed.Referring to the Prime Minister’s speech at Bhoomi-pujan ceremony of Shivaji memorial off Mumbai coast, Uddhav said, “After listening to the Prime Minister’s speech, after some time I felt is there any end to this (constant speech-making)?”Meanwhile, a senior Sena minister in the Maharashtra government, requesting anonymity, said his party was ready to contest the crucial MCGM elections on its own.”Sena has made up its mind to contest the elections on its own, given the bitter experience we had with BJP calling off the alliance at the last minute before 2014 Assembly elections,” he said.The minister ruled out possibility of alliance with Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. MNS was a spent force, he said. According to a senior BJP minister, the party’s top brass in New Delhi has yet had not taken serious note of the ally Shiv Sena’s regular outbursts against the Modi government. Sena has been attacking the government over demonetization move, among other issues.Sena mouthpiece Saamana today took a swipe at Modi for greeting his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on birthday. Chhatrapati Shivaji never extended such greetings to “the enemies of the nation,” it said.

Govt to encourage online applications for around 1.36 lakh pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Around 1.36 lakh pilgrims have been travelling to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage from India since 2013. As part of its efforts to bring in transparency in processing applications from interested devotees, the government has decided to encourage applications online January 2, 2017 onwards.Besides, the ministry is also mulling launching a cell phone application to help devotees apply online for the pilgrimage. The ministry has a budget outlay of Rs 3,827 crore for the ongoing fiscal. Out of these, Rs 2,732 crore have already been spent on various works, sources said.These include Rs 1,800 sanctioned for distributing scholarships to students. The scholarships are being distributed through Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in phases. Besides, the government spent Rs 502 crore on multi-sectoral development programme, while the National Minority Development Finance Corporation (NMDFC) has been given equity of Rs 140 crore.Among other developments, the ministry released Rs 79.91 crore under Maulana Azad National Fellowship, Rs 4 crore as assistance to students willing to learn abroad under ‘Padho Pardesh’ scheme and Rs 13.19 crore out of Rs 15 crore allotted for ‘Nai Roshni’ scheme meant for leadership development among minority women.

Punjab’s first bioethanol plant set up in Bathinda

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal recently laid the foundation stone of Punjab’s first second-generation bioethanol plant at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda district.Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan were also present on the occasion. Built on 49 acres of land, the Rs 500 crore plant offers a practical solution to the problem of stubble burning by converting crop residue into ethanol.The state-of-the-art bioethanol plant offers a long-term solution to farmer’s challenge of disposing off crop residue. Using an efficient technology, agriculture waste is converted into fuel grade ethanol, offering a permanent solution to the age-old practice of crop residue burning.Talking about the long-term benefits of the plant, Harsimrat Kaur Badal said, “The ethanol plant besides addressing environment issues; would also provide an additional income source to farmers. Around 3 lakh farmers will be benefited with extra income of more than Rs 19.20 crore per annum (at an average biomass rate of Rs 1500 per ton).”Sharing details of the ethanol plant, Harsimrast Badal said, “It would use 400 tons of agriculture residue per day or 1.28 lakh ton of biomass as fuel and shall have a production capacity of around 100 KL per ethanol per day and around 3.20 crores liters of ethanol annually. This would be enough to meet 26% of the ethanol requirement of the state.”The project shall also yield 32000 MTPA of bio-fertilisers, which shall in turn be incorporated into soil for improving soil fertility raising overall farm productivity in the state. Apart from this the plant will also yield Bio-CNG, which can be used as clean cooking fuel and fuel in vehicles. The plant will be yielding 115.20 lacs kg of Bio CNG per annum.The Bathinda MP said, “Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) was bringing this capital intensive project to the State. The second-generation ethanol bio refinery shall operate on DBT-ICT, an indigenous technology funded by the Department of Biotechnology.”

NGT asks Delhi govt to shut hazardous industries in East Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noting that functioning of industrial units in residential areas is harmful, the National Green Tribunal has directed the Delhi government and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to take action against all such units operating without consent.A bench headed by Justice UD Salvi pulled up BSES Yamuna for supplying electricity to industrial units located in Vishwas Nagar area here and directed it to immediately snap electricity connections to them.”As of today, it is evident that several industrial units are being run unauthorisedly without consent to operate being obtained from the competent authority in accordance with law in Vishwas Nagar, Delhi. Obviously, their operations are deleterious to the environment generally and in particular to the area of Vishwas Nagar…”We direct the Delhi government and authorities concerned to take action against all the industrial units operating without consent to operate granted by DPCC in accordance with law,” the bench, also comprising Expert Member Ranjan Chatterjee, said.Advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, told the bench that several industrial units in Vishwas Nagar were being run unauthorisedly in gross violation of the provisions of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act and directions of the Supreme Court.However, the association of Vishwas Nagar Small Scale Manufacturing and Traders told the NGT that Vishwas Nagar has more than 70 per cent plots under manufacturing activity and according to the physical surveys carried out by the Delhi government, the area deserves to be declared as an industrial area.The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by local resident S N Rohatgi, who had approached green panel against industrial units operating in the area seeking their immediate closure on the ground that these industries were causing air and noise pollution.Rohatgi claimed that Vishwas Nagar was residential area where 70,000 residents reside and there were 13 schools besides Chartered Accountants Institute and several private coaching institutes.

Demonetisation: Over Rs 51 lakh in 2,000 denomination notes seized in Kerala

Kannur (Kerala): Unaccounted cash to the tune of Rs 51.86 lakh, almost all of them in Rs 2,000 denomination, was seized on Sunday by Kerala Excise officials from two passengers of a bus coming from Bengaluru at nearby Irrity, in the second major haul of currency in the last three days in the state.

They found Rs 51.80 lakh in Rs 2,000 notes and Rs 100 notes for Rs 6,300 in the bags of Ranjith Salangi (24) and Rahul Adhik alias Rahul Ghatoo (22).

Representational imageRepresentational image

Representational image

The duo, in their early 20s and hailing from Maharashtra, were found carrying the cash without any supporting documents after which they were detained. The haul came just two days after police seized Rs 39.98 lakh in Rs 2,000 denomination at Tirur area in Malapuram district.

Excise officials said Sunday’s seizure was made when a special Excise squad, acting on a tip-off, intercepted the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus heading to nearby Payyanur around 3.30 am.

They were taken into custody and would be questioned by Income Tax officials in Kerala.

Busting a currency exchange racket involving Rs 2,000 notes, police had on Friday seized Rs three lakh from Shoukath Ali, already facing a hawala case, and, based on information provided by him, recovered Rs 36.98 lakh from the residence of a businessman.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 12:13 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: PM kicks off development projects; Harjeet Singh talks hockey; Christmas 2016, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. PM Modi sounds BMC poll bugle with Mumbai growth pitch; kicks off projects worth Rs 1.06 lakh crEyeing ensuing elections, including the one to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday underlined the importance of development. Read more here2. From Saudi Arabia to Hyderabad, journey of ‘Army of the Caliph in South India’When 30-year-old Hyderabad youth Ibrahim Yazdani returned to his city from Saudi Arabia, he was convinced that ISIS was fighting a justifiable war against President Bashar Al Assad’s forces. Continue reading here3. Budget 2017: PM promises more difficult reforms; wants higher taxes from marketWith a little over two months left for the Budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised more “sound and prudent economic policies.” Read more here4. For 10 days, 25 of us were a family. We played like one as well: Harjeet SinghIndia’s World Cup-winning junior hockey captain Harjeet Singh talks about secret to his team’s incredible journey to title, his belief in this bunch repeating their heroics for seniors and why he made cups of tea for his teammates. Read more here5. DNA After Hrs goes the Grinch way for Christmas, gifts stars naughty giftsHo, Ho, Ho! Here’s what our bad Santa wants to gift these stars. He doesn’t have a naughty-or-nice list. But they’re sure getting something from us. Read more here

Thane: Third body recovered from landslide site

Sat, 24 Dec 2016-06:16pm , Thane , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With recovery of a body of a 27-year-old youth on Saturday morning, the death toll in the landslide mishap at Ghodbunder area of the city has climbed to three, official from Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) said. Chief of the Regional Disaster Management Cell (RDMC) Santosh Kadam informed that the body of the victim Lokeshwar Vishwakarma (27) which was trapped under the debris was pulled out by the rescue team and sent for postmortem. The land caved in at the site burying the workers who were working at the spot on Friday afternoon.A total of seven persons were safely pulled out of the debris after the landslide at the construction site. In a related development Kasarwadavali police have booked the owner of Gayatri Constructions and others following the mishap in which three lives were lost.

Boat capsizes in Powai lake, 3 died and 5 saved in search operation

Five people were saved and three are feared dead after a boat capsized in Powai lake in Mumbai late on Friday night, reports said.

Search operations were started immediately after the boat capsized. While some reports said the three boys are feared dead, search operations are still going on in the lake.

A DNA report said that a police official confirmed that the boat lost balance after colliding with a bamboo, and because the boat was close to the shore, locals could rush to the spot to help the people in the boat.

Fire officials have confirmed that they got the news at 11.30 pm and rushed to the spot to help the boys.

The people in the boat were going to for a party, Maharashtra Times report said.

On 13 December, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had issued notice to 17 houseboats to stop their business in Powai lake as they had not bothered to reply to the earlier notices by the municipal corporation, as reported in The Times Of India.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 14:25 IST

Maharashtra: Ex-bank manager among 24 booked for misappropriating Rs 3.14 cr

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly 24 persons, including former manager of a bank and son of an ex-MLA from Thane district, have been booked for allegedly misappropriating bank money to the tune of Rs 3.14 crore, police said on Friday.The former manager of a nationalised bank, in connivance with others, allegedly broke some fixed deposits from among the provident fund accounts of employees of Kalyan Dombivili Municipal Corporation to the tune of Rs 2.82 crore without the civic body’s permission, they said.He then allegedly diverted the sum and another Rs 72 lakhs of the corporation to another account of the bank, in violation of the bank regulations, to favour some businessmen and builders, police said.The alleged fraud took place in connivance with the beneficiaries between September 2015 and June 2016.Based on a complaint of a bank officer, an offence was on Thursday registered against all the accused under sections IPC sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and also relevant provisions of the IT Act with Khadakpada police under Kalyan zone.No arrest has been made so far in connection with the case, police added.

Lord Venkateswara comes to Belapur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) has allotted 2.4 acres land at Belapur in Navi Mumbai to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) for construction of a Lord Venkateswara Swamy temple. Its board approved the direct allotment of two plots at Parsik Hill, Belapur.According to a Cidco official, the TTD board chairman Chandalwada Krishnamurthy and executive officer D Sambasiva Rao had met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in April to this end.“They presented him a letter of representation from AP Chief Minister,” said an official.Early this month, Cidco board allocated two plots of 1900 and 2900 sq metre for the temple.

Ahead of Punjab elections, BJP-SAD alliance sweeps Chandigarh Municipal Corporation polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal alliance on Tuesday attained clear majority in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation polls winning 20 out of the 26 wards.BJP won in 20 wards, rival Congress 4 and Independent one, an election office spokesman said here.Prominent among those who won were BJP Mayor Arun Sood, and Congress stalwart Devinder Singh Babla.The overall polling percentage in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation election was 59.54 per cent.Election to 26 wards of the Municipal Corporation were seen as a litmus test for BJP and Congress post demonetization.Total 122 candidates, including 67 Independents, contested the polls.The total number of voters were 5,07,627, including 2,37,374 women voters.Both Congress and BJP contested all 26 wards, while BSP had also put up candidates in the fray from 17 wards.The Municipal Corporation has 36 members, of which 26 are elected councillors, nine are nominated councillors and one is an MP (ex-officio member of the House).In the last House, BJP has 15 councillors, Congress has nine, BSP has one and one is Independent.Congress had made demonetization a major issue in the polls, with its city unit leaders saying the move was implemented without any “application of mind” and had put the public to “great hardships”.

Chandigarh Municipal Corporation polls: Results out on Tuesday after record voting percentage

The results of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation elections will be announced on Tuesday at seven counting centres in the city. Elections to 26 civic wards of Chandigarh were held on Sunday with both BJP and Congress making demonetisation a major poll issue. 122 candidates, including 67 Independents, are in the fray for the civic polls. The polling was conducted at 460 booths from 8 am to 5 pm.

Both Congress and BJP contested from all 26 wards, while BSP has also put up candidates in the fray from 17 wards. The Municipal Corporation has 36 members, of which 26 are elected councillors, nine are nominated councillors and one is an MP (ex-officio member of the House). At present, BJP has 15 councillors, Congress has nine, BSP has one and one is independent candidate.

While the BJP is trying to cash in on demonetisation, Congress has made it a major issue with its city unit leaders saying the move was implemented without any “application of mind” as it has put the public to “great hardships”.

Around 51 percent voters exercised their franchise for 26 wards of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation the polling to which passed off peacefully.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Around 51 percent voters have exercised their franchise. The polling was peaceful,” Tarseem Lal, an election office spokesman said here after conclusion of polls quoting initial estimates of polling percentage. The total number of voters recorded were 5,07,627, including 2,37,374 female voters. 800 EVMs were used at 445 polling booths and over 4000 cops were deployed for smooth conduct of polling process.

The overall polling percentage in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation election jumped to a record 59.54 percent, following a re-polling in a ward of the civic body after officials noticed some discrepancies.

The re-polling in ward seven registered 71.48 polling, Tarseem Lal, an election office spokesman said here, adding that the overall poll percentage for the 26 wards was 59.54. It was ordered after electoral officials noticed that the number of votes polled yesterday had exceeded the number of voters in a booth of the ward. Since it’s inception, the polling in the civic body election had remained below 50 per cent. In 2011, the polling percentage to the MC was 59.37.

Post demonetisation, the election to 26 wards of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation is a litmus test for both BJP and Congress. Prominent among those included three-time councillor and former Mayor Subash Chawala (Cong), BJP’s leader Saurabh Joshi                                                                                                          and Congress stalwart Devinder Singh Babla and present mayor Arun Sood of BJP.

The results will be test of prestige of key political faces MP Kirron Kher (BJP), former Chandigarh MPs Pawan Kumar Bansal (Cong), Harmohan Dhawan (BJP), Satya Pal Jain (BJP) and Chandigarh BJP president Sanjay Tandon. All these political bigwigs have a key identity in Chandigarh, the results will somehow set their political future too, besides their current role in local politics.

All political bigwigs from Chandigarh intensively campaigned for their party candidates in the polls.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 11:51 IST

Chandigarh Municipal Corporation polls: BJP and Akali Dal combine registers landslide win

Punjab’s ruling BJP and Akali Dal combine have scored a landslide win in municipal elections in capital Chandigarh reported NDTV. The victory is important as it comes just ahead of crucial state assembly polls. The allies have won 21 of the 26 seats, while the Congress managed just four; one seat was won by an independent candidate.

Amit Shah has said that every poll win after 8 November is an approval of the people for the demonetisation decision.

BJP MP from Chandigarh Kirron Kher has said that the victory is a result of implementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s schemes at ground level and that the results prove it right.

The results of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation elections was announced on Tuesday at seven counting centres in the city. Elections to 26 civic wards of Chandigarh were held on Sunday with both BJP and Congress making demonetisation a major poll issue. 122 candidates, including 67 Independents, are in the fray for the civic polls. The polling was conducted at 460 booths from 8 am to 5 pm.

Both Congress and BJP contested from all 26 wards, while BSP has also put up candidates in the fray from 17 wards. The Municipal Corporation has 36 members, of which 26 are elected councillors, nine are nominated councillors and one is an MP (ex-officio member of the House). At present, BJP has 15 councillors, Congress has nine, BSP has one and one is independent candidate.

While the BJP is trying to cash in on demonetisation, Congress has made it a major issue with its city unit leaders saying the move was implemented without any “application of mind” as it has put the public to “great hardships”.

Around 51 percent voters exercised their franchise for 26 wards of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation the polling to which passed off peacefully.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Around 51 percent voters have exercised their franchise. The polling was peaceful,” Tarseem Lal, an election office spokesman said here after conclusion of polls quoting initial estimates of polling percentage. The total number of voters recorded were 5,07,627, including 2,37,374 female voters. 800 EVMs were used at 445 polling booths and over 4000 cops were deployed for smooth conduct of polling process.

The overall polling percentage in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation election jumped to a record 59.54 percent, following a re-polling in a ward of the civic body after officials noticed some discrepancies.

The re-polling in ward seven registered 71.48 polling, Tarseem Lal, an election office spokesman said here, adding that the overall poll percentage for the 26 wards was 59.54. It was ordered after electoral officials noticed that the number of votes polled yesterday had exceeded the number of voters in a booth of the ward. Since it’s inception, the polling in the civic body election had remained below 50 per cent. In 2011, the polling percentage to the MC was 59.37.

Post demonetisation, the election to 26 wards of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation is a litmus test for both BJP and Congress. Prominent among those included three-time councillor and former Mayor Subash Chawala (Cong), BJP’s leader Saurabh Joshi                                                                                                          and Congress stalwart Devinder Singh Babla and present mayor Arun Sood of BJP.

The results will be test of prestige of key political faces MP Kirron Kher (BJP), former Chandigarh MPs Pawan Kumar Bansal (Cong), Harmohan Dhawan (BJP), Satya Pal Jain (BJP) and Chandigarh BJP president Sanjay Tandon. All these political bigwigs have a key identity in Chandigarh, the results will somehow set their political future too, besides their current role in local politics. All political bigwigs from Chandigarh intensively campaigned for their party candidates in the polls.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 11:51 IST

Cyrus Mistry emerging as the country’s first activist investor in tussle with the Tatas

To understand the strange nature of the tussle between Cyrus Mistry and Ratan Tata to run the Tata group of companies, one must first understand the somewhat paradoxical nature of the way the group run from Bombay House is structured.

The holding company, Tata Sons Ltd, which ousted Mistry as chairman under Ratan Tata‘s controlling gaze, is a closely-held company that in turn is controlled by a clutch of trusts that in effect stand for the interests of a community and its values. At the other end, this closed group manages and often controls several publicly-held companies with millions of small investors who are either direct shareholders or hold stakes through mutual funds.

“The interface between the Trusts, Tata Sons and operating companies — these are elements that need to be discussed,” Mistry has said, defining a conundrum that needs to be resolved.

Cyrus Mistry. ReutersCyrus Mistry. Reuters

Cyrus Mistry. Reuters

Mistry’s decision this week to quit the boards of Tata companies and fight a legal battle instead of shareholder meetings is on the one hand acknowledging that the number game, whether in Tata Sons Ltd or in several public companies it controls, is not on his side. On the other hand, it announces his likely arrival as India’s first big-scale activist investor — which in a way marks the maturing of shareholder democracy in India.

The irony could lie in the fact that Mistry prefers courtroom battles to addressing shareholders, but this is because both independent directors as well as government-controlled financial institutions such as the Life Insurance Corporation would by and large prefer to avoid taking sides with Mistry, whose actions on investment decisions made by predecessor Ratan Tata fall in the grey area where open-and-shut answers are not easy.

Mistry now has to defend himself at two levels — which explains why he prefers legal battles. He has to talk over the heads of silent or reticent institutional voters to gain public credibility, and also has to redeem himself from implicit charges that he acted against Tata “values” which have a measure of concern for him as a member of the Parsi community.

In the 1990s, Ratan Tata ousted old-world satraps such as Russi Mody, Ajit Kerkar and Darbari Seth in largely silent coups. It was Rajan Nair, a trade union leader representing workers of the Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company (Telco — which became Tata Motors in 2003), who once spoke aloud in a shareholders meeting. Mistry is now donning battle fatigues — right at the top.

When Dhirubhai Ambani addressed literally crowds of Reliance investors with his hands on his hips at the then Bombay’s Brabourne Stadium, he ushered in the razzmatazz of shareholder democracy but with no significant dissent.

We saw skirmishes in the 1980s and 1990s when takeover tycoons such as Manu Chhabria, Rama Prasad Goenka and Swaraj Paul fought shareholder battles with mixed results. UK-based Paul’s bid to take over Escorts and DCM failed despite financial institutions (FIs) backing him as courts supported H.P. Nanda. Maybe Mistry has similar hopes from the courts, this time as an aggressor than as a defender.

The role of FIs has been controversial because there is an inevitable political angle to it. With Ratan Tata’s pet Nano project located in Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s Gujarat state, and Tata having met finance minister Arun Jaitley last month, Mistry is decidedly on a weak wicket if private lobbying is of essence. Activism in public fora such as media and the courts are a natural, logical next step.

The US has activist hedge funds and investors such as Kirk Kerkorian, Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman, who regularly stand up to ask tough questions to big business boards, and often swing boardroom decisions. India’s FIs and mutual funds have been largely passive at best and politicised at worst, despite having the mandate to represent small shareholders.

India has seen minority shareholders fighting small battles in companies such as Maruti Suzuki Ltd and Tata Motors, aided by incipient institutional advisory firms, but never a high-profile face with financial and legal msucle.

In this backdrop, Mistry’s role may be of historic significance, if he takes up corporate governance as an issue that concerns public discourse in a democracy than as one involving privately defined values in trusts.

(The author is a senior journalist. He tweets as @madversity)

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 10:22 IST

Uttarakhand government employees to get 7th Pay Commission hike from 1 January

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. File photo. PTIUttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. File photo. PTI

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat. File photo. PTI

Dehradun: Ahead of the Uttarakhand assembly elections next year, the state government has decided to implement recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission from 1 January, official sources said.

The decision, which will benefit around 2.5 lakh government employees and pensioners, was taken in the state cabinet meeting headed by Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Saturday.

The government employees will get the benefit of the 7th Pay Commission from January 1 next year, they said. The arrears for this year will be paid after the finalisation of the procedure for the same.

As a result of the cabinet’s decision, the treasury will have to bear a burden of Rs 3000 crore, they said. The decision to implement the 7th Pay Commission recommendations for government employees of corporation and public venture will be taken by their board and Finance Secretary Amit Negi has been assigned responsibility in this regard.

Dehradun-Haridwar-Rishikesh have been declared metropoliton cities and a consent to make a detailed project report for metro has been given to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

The state government also posed a penalty of Rs 2 crore and Rs 2.5 crore for PG doctors for violating bond of 5 years with the state for essential service.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 17:10 IST

FTII to deploy two armed guards on `special occasions’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Film & Television Institute of India has roped in a state-run security agency to replace a private security agency for guarding its sprawling campus here. In a fleet of 42 security men, two would carry arms on special occasions, it said. “There were instructions from the police department to upgrade the security and carry out a security audit for the last many years. After a letter bomb was received by my office in April this year, we thought of upgrading the security, and to safeguard the students and the staff, we decided to rope in Maharashtra State Security Corporation, a state government undertaking,” said Bhupendra Kainthola, director of FTII.There would be two armed security guards in the team. “Though the two security guards are equipped with .303 rifles, instructions have been given that they will be deployed only on specific occasions such as Republic Day, Independence Day or if there are security alerts in the city,” he said.FTII being a national institute, it was the responsibility of management to safeguard the students and staff, he said.However, a member of students association took exception to provision of armed guards. “Security guards with arms and camouflage attire on education campus is an intimidating image. It seems the government is trying to convert the education institutes into jail or army camp,” he said.FTII had witnessed a 139-day-long strike by the students last year against the appointment of TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as its chairman. Police had booked some of the students for `illegal confinement’ of the then director Prashant Pathrabe.

Thane: Shiv Sena corporator, others booked for rioting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than a dozen persons, including a Shiv Sena corporator from Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) were booked on charges of disrupting a meeting of citizens to discuss development of slum colony.The incident took place on December 11, while the suspects were booked yesterday, police said today. No arrests have been made so far.The complaint by one Lizzy Chako said the corporator who also doubles up as a developer had in 2009 undertaken to develop the slum colony at Pokhran Road No II and give tenements to the occupants, but he failed to keep up his commitment.In this connection the affected persons had called a meeting to discuss the issue. The meeting was addressed by social worker Adv Darmyansingh Bist and one Madhu Acharya and the issues relating to the delay in redevelopment were being discussed.When the meeting was in progress the accused arrived at the meeting place and allegedly started disrupting the meeting by snatched away the mike from the hands of Adv Bist and also threw the chairs away, the complaint said.The accused also threatened the organisers not to hold any such meeting again else they would face serious consequences, the complaint stated. The accused also beat some people were present for the meeting, it stated.

A clarion call for Aarey

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government’s decision to construct Metro Rail III car shed in Aarey Milk Colony, Goregaon, stands even after hundreds came out in protest earlier this week. Worried environmentalists and wildlifers give Mumbaikars something to think about over the weekend: what the city is about to lose.City’s air freshenerThe 3,160 acres of Aarey hosts 4,00,000 trees, as per a Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai survey. For the world‘s 5th most polluted megacity (WHO report), and also India’s noisiest (Central Pollution Control Board), losing any of it will be a travesty. Talking about the allied lifestyle diseases these titles bring to Mumbai, environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal says, “Even medical practitioners recognise that walking and being close to nature are the cures. With the current 0.03 acres of accessible open space per 1,000 people versus the recommended 4 acres, should we even consider touching Aarey that regulates our temperature and pollution levels?”Dairy heritage, our flood mitigatorAarey Milk Dairy, set up in 1956 is Asia’s first dairy, and few realise that “this dairy heritage acts as a flood mitigator. Cultivation of fodder in low lying areas creates a sponge for millions of litres of rainwater, as does the proposed car shed site located on the banks of Mithi river. We can’t afford another flood like the 2005 deluge due to reclaiming of land at Bandra Kurla Complex,” says Aggarwal.Felling 2,400 trees on the 20.8 hectare earmarked for the car shed will only add to Mumbai’s water woes. Kedar Gore, Director, The Corbett Foundation, says, “We have two fresh water lakes supplying 3 per cent of the city’s water.Without forests, that aid rainwater percolation, we can’t harvest water; it would get washed away.”Mother of SGNP“Few know that Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) is an extension of Aarey, and not the other way around,“ says Vanashakti Director, Stalin Dayanand. 70 sq km of Aarey land was given to create the world’s only national park within a city. “Our protected areas are supposed to have a 10 km buffer. While that’s almost impossible, and past construction around SGNP can’t be undone, we need to protect whatever is left of it,” says Gore, and asks, “Whether or not it’s notified as an eco-sensitive zone, with the biodiversity Aarey has, isn’t the habitat worth preserving?”Save Aarey’s website also lists a study by researchers Rajesh Sanap and Zeeshan Mirza, who found 76 bird, 86 butterfly, 13 amphibian, 38 reptile, 19 spider and 34 wild flower species. Mammals like spotted deer, jungle cats, sambar, barking deer and Schedule I species: leopards (seven), rusty spotted cat and phythons (three) also live here.“Aarey’s always had wild boar, jackal, civets… so much is yet to be explored. We should make it an educational hub for zoology, or botany, or an open-air lab for applied research. Given time and opportunity, the grasslands can grow into forests too,” adds Gore.Man-animal conflict, which one’s real?Adivasis residing in the colony, like Prakash Bhoir, aren’t afraid of animals, but ‘development‘. “Every time we give away land, we lose our source of water and other necessities.”They’ve borne the brunt of snake bites after Force 1 snatched their habitat in his village, “but we didn’t complain as we (adivasis) worship nature. But the government cites such instances to push us out.” The real conflict, according to him and Stalin, arises from increased traffic due to mushrooming buildings, and the resultant pollution and road kills.“Leopards and rock pythons have been found near the car shed site, too,” says Stalin.He insists that the protestors “are not against development, but have seen Aarey decline since Royal Palms was allowed in 1999. Leopards still think it is their territory and jump into balconies, scaring people.Land has been given away for cemeteries, a blind eye’s turned to encroachments and the milk industry has been gradually killed to make way for real estate opportunities. We’ve suggested seven alternatives outside Aarey, but the government isn’t responding.”

BMC tells Bombay HC could not meet due to Jayalalithaa’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bombay High Court on Thursday expressed surprise over civic body BMC’s contention that its general body could not meet on December 8 to grant approval for setting up of a doppler radar system due to AIADMK leader Jayalalithas demise and asked if corporators went to Tamil Nadu to mourn.The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) general body was to meet on December 8 to discuss a proposal for sanctioning of a site in suburban Goregaon to set up a doppler radar system.BMC counsel SU Kamdar on Thursday informed a division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak that the body, comprising corporators, could not meet due to the death of Jayalalithaa and Mumbai’s former Mayor Ramesh Prabhu. The bench expressed surprise at this and asked if the corporators had gone to Tamil Nadu to mourn after Jayalalithaa’s demise on the night of December 5.Kamdar told the court that the general body would now meet on Friday.The bench was hearing a public interest litigation by advocate Atal Bihari Dubey on the heavy rains that brought Mumbai to a halt in June this year. While there is one doppler radar system in Colaba weather station, a state government-appointed committee had recommended for setting up another system in suburban Mumbai.The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had identified three sites for construction of the system, but the civic body had not granted its approval to hand over the land. The high court had in the past come down heavily on the corporation for dragging its feet in the matter and directed the civic body to ensure that all efforts are taken to grant approval for the site.The bench has posted the petition for further hearing on December 20.

Cyclone Vardah rips through Chennai: City’s poor green record is a concern

The new Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam seems to be too modest — for the devastation of cyclone Vardah, he has asked the Centre for only Rs 1000 crore. Had it been Jayalalithaa, it would have been at least ten times as much.

In fact, that was the opposition leader MK Stalin’s instant ballpark estimate. Trade body Assocham has put it at Rs 6500 crore. An estimate is an estimate and nobody knows how all the losses add up, and for how long, because every aspect of life and business has been disrupted. Even on the third day, many parts of the city are struggling without power and communications.

A tree uprooted in T Nagar Chennai. Firstpost/Pramod Kumar

A tree uprooted in T Nagar Chennai. Firstpost/Pramod Kumar

Ten thousand electric posts and 800 transformers going down doesn’t summarise the damage because it could cascade down quite a bit. Most of the mobile phones went dead and even the BSNL lines, that depend on underground cables, were disrupted. Demonetised souls couldn’t eat because their digital fantasy wouldn’t work.

However, the biggest loss to Chennai is the loss of its precious green cover. As the The Hindu reported quoting a senior revenue official, about 10,000 trees have been uprooted and 75 per cent of them are in Chennai. In another report quoting workers on the field, the same newspaper said that the number of uprooted trees could exceed one lakh. This is in fact the most visible loss as well because what’s more visibly overwhelming and widespread than the mangled electric posts, tattered cables and the general raggedness, are uprooted trees.

All that one could see in the pitch dark city after the cyclone left the coast of Tamil Nadu, or rather Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts, on Monday evening were uprooted trees. Every neighbourhood and every street was covered by trees felled by the strong wind. The roads became unmotorable with ripped-out trees blocking them every few meters. Famous classical musician Sanjay Subramanyan tweeted the photo of a 40-year old neem tree that came down next to his house.

Uprooted trees topped the social media images of the impact of the cyclone. Although the workforce of the government, that ran to a few thousand, managed to move them aside to make the roads partly usable on Tuesday, they are still lying on either side of the roads. The next big headache for the civic authorities and the government is to find a place to dump them. Reportedly, they would be kept in the city playgrounds for the time being. The volume is too big to be transported to the municipal corporation’s dump yards. For a city that’s short on water and known for its intense summer, this is a tragedy because trees are its hard-gained treasure of a lifetime. Despite the adverse conditions, many parts of the city – mostly the traditional residential areas – have impressive canopies, tree-lined avenues and impeccably green parks. In fact, these patches held up even when it was losing its green cover to infrastructural development. Reportedly, in the last four years, Chennai lost about 10,000 acres of green cover although the state as a whole improved its record. In fact all the three cyclone-hit districts showed depleting green cover in the last satellite-based forest survey of India. In the light of this poor record, the impact of Vardah is a double whammy. Probably, it’s already showing on satellite images. Two of the most beautiful campuses in Chennai in terms of its green cover — the IIT and Madras Christian College (MCC) — have reported widespread uprooting of trees. A resident of the MCC said the college campus now looks like a warzone and the sight is heartbreaking because many of the trees were very old.

The only redeemable part of the tragedy is that some of the damage might be partial because what came down in a limited number of cases are the tree-branches that could grow back in a couple of years.

Since economic liberalisation, Chennai had ‘developed’ itself to be the city with the worst green cover in India. Even a highly polluted Delhi has three times more green cover. As this report explained in 2011 in some parts of Chennai, it lost about 99 percent of the green cover between 1997 and 2011.

If the city doesn’t repair the damage, the consequences are going to be grave because even during the disastrous floods last year, the reasons cited for the excessive rains and flooding included localised heat caused by increasing concrete and poor surface rundown that good green cover would have abated. Besides regular infrastructure, even utilities — roads, electric lines and sewers — come into conflict with trees and the narrowing roads allow very limited avenues for planting new ones although various research studies have proposed specific ideas for increasing the green cover.

The minimum that the three agencies responsible for green cover in the city — the Chennai Corporation, the forestry department and the highways department — can do is to compensate for the loss caused by Vardah. It’s also an opportunity to do something more — dust the proposals of various researchers, civil society organisations and agencies on how to make the city greener.

Unfortunately, it will still look too brown compared to other big cities in India.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 08:09 IST

In South Delhi civic schools, over 1,600 posts for special educators are yet to be filled

Due to the lack of an adequate number of eligible candidates, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation has failed to meet its judicial directive to fill up the posts of special educators in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) schools in the National Capital, the civic body recently admitted in an affidavit in the Delhi High Court. The civic body filed this affidavit as a reply to a contempt petition by Social Jurist, a lawyers group, alleging its non compliance with an earlier order by the same court to fill up the posts of special educators.

According to the affidavit accessed by Firstpost, despite two attempts to fill up more than 1,600 posts of special educators the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB) has not been able to find the required number of eligible candidates.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The DSSSB is responsible for selection of special educators for schools run by both the Delhi government and the MCD.

The affidavit says that the unified MCD had sent a letter to DSSSB to fill up 1,610 posts of special educators in the month of January 2012. But later on, the DSSSB let the civic body know that a sufficient number of applications had not been received by the DSSSB to fill up the posts and recommended only 40 names for appointment. Later still, another advertisement was issued to fill 1,695 vacancies for special educators in 2014. But this time, only 90 names were recommended by the DSSSB for appointment.

The DSSSB has also let the SDMC know that very few applications have been received against the vacancies.

The lack of special educators in MCD schools has led to serious difficulties in imparting education.

A teacher on condition of anonymity told Firstpost that students who need special education are to be identified and be provided separate education at an early stage. “But due to a lack of special educators, many schools under the MCD fail to identify them and take proper care of them. This is one of the reasons why many students who pass out of these schools often fail to demonstrate adequate reading and writing skills,” said the teacher.

Recently, the Delhi government launched a drive among students in high schools to teach them how to read. Teachers say that some of these students actually require special education in their early years. Ashok Agarwal, the advocate for the case in the Delhi High Court and an activist who has been fighting the case for the rights of special children, told Firstpost, “The lack of special educators in MCD schools have led to a rise in dropout rates in schools. Students who need special care often get frustrated due to lack of it and add up to the dropout list.”

He further said that the Delhi High Court ordered the Delhi government to appoint at least two special educator in every school in the year 2009.

“The government’s inability to meet this criteria is a painful failure,” he added.

Explaining the reason of lack of special educators in Delhi, a teacher in a Delhi government schools said Firstpost, “The career of a special educator has not been a very popular one even among the aspirants of teachers jobs. For very few want to get involved with the ‘disabled sector’.”

He further added that some of them join this profession only after they fail to get job anywhere else.

“By then, they cross the maximum age limit set by the DSSB to be appointed as a special educator in MCD schools in Delhi,” he contended.

Moreover, some candidates fail to meet other eligibilty criteria set by DSSB, such as qualifying the Teachers Education Test.

On account of this difficulty in filling these posts, recently the Delhi government has began appointing special educators as guest teachers by relaxing these norms.

Agarwal suggests that SDMC should also follow suit to fill these posts.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 08:08 IST

Kiren Rijiju clean, Congress will be exposed: Prakash Javadekar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defending Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju regarding his alleged involvement in a Hydro electric project in Arunachal Pradesh, Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday said the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) will expose the Congress party. “Rijiju is clean and the scam happened during the tenure of Congress,” he said adding that the BJP will expose the Congress.Rijiju, his distant cousin, a contractor in Arunachal Pradesh, Goboi Rijiju, and several other officials of North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) have been accused of corruption in the construction of two dams for the 600 megawatt Kameng hydro-electric projects, one of the biggest power generating project in Arunachal Pradesh.However, Rijiju has refuted all allegations of corruption against him, saying that the ones planting such news would be thrashed with shoes, should they come to Arunachal Pradesh.Echoing similar sentiments, Union Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal said Rijiju was innocent and the payment was released on the orders of Congress party and its government, “Payment was released on the orders of Congress official and now the concern party has to answer. Mr Rijiju was not involved in it.” Goyal added.Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma has given notice under Rule 267 in the Rajya Sabha, for a discussion over the alleged involvement Rijiju in the project.Rijiju is being pilloried by the Congress party in the wake of a 129-page report prepared by Satish Verma, the Chief Vigilance Officer of the North Eastern Electricity Power Corporation (NEEPCO), suggesting that he and his cousin Goboi were involved in a Rs 450 crore plus power project scam.

Cyclone Vardah: O Panneerselvam survives the storm with the right political optics

In his first week as third time chief minister, O Panneerselvam has impressed. It helped that expectations from him were very low. For a government known for its opacity, the fact that the AIADMK dispensation found a voice and communicated effectively in the run-up to Cyclone Vardah and through it, was commendable. All forms of social media were extensively used to ensure the messaging reached far and wide.

Once it was clear that the cyclone was headed towards north of Chennai and not between Kakinada and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh as it was initially predicted, work on warning people began 24 hours before 12 December. The first advisory asked people to stay indoors. Experience in other cities like Hyderabad during the 2016 floods and Visakhapatnam during the 2014 ‘Cyclone Hudhud’ has shown human misery can be minimised to a great extent by ensuring citizens did not venture outdoors. It was also ensured that those living in the low-lying areas were moved to safer locations and vigil posted on the Marina to keep an eye on any fishermen who tried to venture into the sea.

Area-wise groups were created on Whatsapp by the Chennai police, the city corporation and even some MLAs to disseminate information on real time basis. The Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority used its Twitter handle to keep a two-way communication going, informing people about the movement of Cyclone Vardah and asking people to send information about blockades and uprooting of trees in their areas. Electricity minister Thangamani was giving updates on when power will be restored in Chennai. Amma Canteens were kept open to serve food, free of cost.

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTIFile image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

The Tamil Nadu Public Relations department also was putting out information about what its ministers and bureaucrats were doing to tackle the devastation caused by the cyclone. Photographs of Panneerselvam at review meetings and distributing relief material were shared. As did the AIADMK twitter handle, which focused on reaching out to people in distress rather than scoring political brownie points.

Disaster management expert WG Prasanna Kumar says the government’s response was effective. “Northeast monsoon increasingly throws these challenges. Regular preparatory drill is a must. Chennai, in the long run, needs effective community-based disaster risk reduction management system where local communities along with local bodies should be able to alert and support each other,” says Prasanna Kumar.

Contrast this with December last year, when Jayalalithaa was at the helm of affairs. Barring the Chennai municipal commissioner who was drafted to be the face of the government and defend it, the political administration was clueless and completely absent. AIADMK spokespersons tried every trick in the book to ensure the buck did not stop with Poes Garden, even suggesting that it was because of Amma that Chennai was not devastated.

The distribution of relief material was largely a private affair, with several citizens including film stars, pitching in as volunteers. But overenthusiastic AIADMK cadre stopped several vehicles carrying relief material and allegedly pasted photographs of Jayalalithaa on the packets containing food, water, medicines, blankets and so on. That left a bad taste in the mouth.

AIADMK paid the price for this crass behaviour. In several localities of Chennai, the anger against the AIADMK representatives was so much they many were booed away after they made an appearance after the waters had receded. The people of Chennai showed their anger on the EVM in May this year, when 10 of the 16 AIADMK candidates in the Chennai constituencies lost.

But it is not as if the response to Cyclone Vardah was perfect. The AIADMK leadership was still in mourning after former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s demise on 5 December. And till Saturday, it was obsessed more with requesting Sasikala to take over the reins of the party as the next general secretary.

Chennai-based social activist Chandramohan points out that the city would not have lost more than 500 trees if the Corporation had planned for a stormy and wet December. “Common sense would suggest that when a cyclone approaches with over 100 kilometres per hour speed, the best way to deal with it is by trimming as many trees as you can so they do not get uprooted in the manner so many have in Chennai,” says Chandramohan.

Given that the cyclones frequently ravage the Andhra and Tamil Nadu coast, Vishakhapatnam and its experience with Cyclone Hudhud should be a template. A centralised control room that branches out to disseminate information to people, media and other agencies is critical to keep losses to the minimum. It will take several years for Chennai to replace the kind of green cover it has lost to Cyclone Vardah. Fortunately, human loss was kept low, unlike last December, when over 500 people were killed.

The sight of Chennai airport going under water each time the city faces rain fury is terrible advertisement for a metropolis. It urgently needs to ensure against flooding of the runway so that unless visibility is very low, the airport can still be operational. Last December saw Chennai airport cut off for close to a week, this year, the closure will be for a shorter period.

Chennai on Tuesday morning is picking up the pieces. It is a city ravaged with streets lined with uprooted trees, smashed cars, broken windowpanes and blown away hoardings. Life will return to normal soon but hopefully it has learnt its lessons and will better its response the next time a system in the Indian Ocean decides to test it.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 12:31 IST

PORN-hibition in the times of free WiFi: Bihar govt to ban ‘undesirable sites’ in colleges

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Bihar government will block pornography and other “undesirable sites” while providing free WiFi in colleges and universities to ensure that the facility is used purely for educational purposes. Restrictions would be put on data usage on the premises of educational institutions. Providing free WiFi in colleges and universities forms part of the ‘Seven Resolves’ which the Nitish Kumar government has adopted as a policy of good governance.Chief Minister Kumar, while addressing a meeting in Purnea on Friday last during his ‘Nischay Yatra’, said free WiFi facility in all colleges and universities would be in place by February next.”We have decided to block all pornography and other undesirable sites to enable the service for educational purpose only on the campuses of educational institutions,” Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation Limited (Beltron), Patna Managing Director Rahul Singh told PTI today.Beltron, which is an executive wing of the state IT department, has been entrusted with the job of providing WiFi system in the educational institutions.Beltron officials said free WiFi service would be provided in over 300 colleges and nine universities of Bihar. Besides, the Information Technology department has decided to put restrictions on data usage in all institutions which would be provided free WiFi service. “We will put a data-limit for usage, which will depend on usage. The quantum of data-limit is being worked out,” Singh said. While colleges would be provided with Internet speed of 10 MBPS, universities and other bigger institutions like IIT would be provided with the speed of 20 MBPS, Singh said. In a ‘Chetna Sabha’ at Purnea on Friday last, the CM had asked youths to use the facility for downloading books and knowledge materials and not for watching films. Citing a case of of how free WiFi was being misused, he had said, “It came to our knowledge that one gentleman has downloaded 300 movies on the 22 km area of main city street where the facility is available.” “Downloading one-two movies is OK, but the free WiFi facility in colleges and universities is conceived to help students download books and knowledge material,” Kumar had said.

Precautions taken for safety of Kalpakkam nuclear power plant: NDMA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government has taken all precautions for the safety of Kalpakkam nuclear power plant as Tamil Nadu faces a severe cyclonic storm Vardah on Monday.”All precautions are taken at nuclear plant Kalpakkam to face Vardah. So far all is well and plant operation is normal. The plant is in touch with the India Meteorological Department,” the National Disaster Management Authority said in a statement.Kalpakkam is in Kancheepuram, which along with Chennai, Tiruvallur and Villupuram in northern Tamil Nadu, has been pounded by heavy rainfall and high velocity winds.The Nuclear power Corporation of India-run power plant has two operational units which produces 440 MW power while another plant of 500 MW is undergoing construction.The wind speed of cyclone Vardah reached 110-120 kmph as the landfall process began.People are advised to remain in safe places and cooperate with state government officials and disaster management agencies, the NDMA said.As many as 19 team of National Disaster Response Force (one team comprises of 35 personnel) have been deployed in coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to deal with any situation arising out of the cyclone’s landfall.Fishermen are advised not to venture into sea along and off south Andhra Pradesh, north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts during next two days.So far 7,354 people from Tamil Nadu living in areas of possible landfall have been shifted to safer places and kept in 54 relief centres.

Govt trying to subvert attention from NITI Aayog’s failure to cashless transactions: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Slamming the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog’s decision to reward Rs.1 crore for promoting e-payment, Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit on Sunday questioned the government whether cashless exchange was more important to it than poverty eradication, employment generation and providing better life to the people.”What NITI Aayog has done to promote the government’s policy is fair enough. You can give a prize of (Rs) one crore, two crores or whatever you want, but the interesting and amusing part is that the real challenge of the government, which is reducing poverty, bringing fall in infant mortality rate, getting the sex ratio up, reducing malnourishment, out of these, the NITI Aayog has not even given a one-rupia prize to anybody. The problem with NITI Aayog is that in terms of employment, it cannot give prize to anybody, because unemployment is increasing and growth has stagnated, so you cannot reward anybody. Poverty is not reducing, thus, it cannot reward anyone for it; infant mortality rate and health is stagnating, so you can’t reward anybody; there is no initiative in education, so you cannot give prize to anyone,” he said, adding the government is a “complete failure so it is subverting every attention to cashless (exchange)”.”You are rewarding somebody to say that rather than keeping my own money, I will give money to Chinese company like Paytm that charges 2.5% on every transaction. So, to make them rich, the government is ultimately rewarding you,” said the Congress leader.Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dikshit added, “If my money is deposited in banks like ICICI, HDFC, IDBI, then its CEOs will earn profit by investing my money into short-term deposits and get astronomical salary. If these people living on my money and earning crores per month, then it is advisable for the Prime Minister, but if I will keep my money in cash under my own security, then it would be wrong for the nation.””The government and NITI Aayog are going to completely sell off all every little assets that I have to the service of the rich, who own and runs the banks, who take service from the banks, who take credits from the banks and for whom Indian banking system works.” he said.The NITI Aayog has planned an incentive scheme, including Rs one crore prize, for those who use digital payment systems the most, as the government steps up measures to push electronic transactions.Guiding India towards being a cashless society, the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) has proposed that all consumers and merchants using digital payments will be eligible for two levels of incentive amounts available under the scheme: weekly lucky draw of the transaction IDs generated in that week, the contours of which are being finalised, and quarterly draw for grand prizes.The detail guideline of the scheme will be unveiled soon, however, it would be ensured that all those who have used digital payment systems after November 8 will be eligible to participate in the scheme, the NITI Aayog stated. ANI

India seeks details of working reactors from US, French firms as proof of efficacy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has asked American and French nuclear companies, which propose to build atomic plants in the country, to furnish details of functional reactors designed by them as proof of their efficacy.Sources said French company EDF and US firm Westinghouse are still not ready with fully operational “reference plants”, a pre-requisite before a final General Framework Agreement could be signed with these entities.The EDF proposes to build six nuclear European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) of 1650 MW each in Jaitapur and Westinghouse another set of six AP1000 reactors in Kovadda in Andhra Pradesh with an individual capacity of 1000 MW.A senior government official said designs presented by the two companies are new, so even the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) wants to see how the technology works.”We have told them to show a reference nuclear plant, which is functional and produces electricity. On paper, the designs of these companies look nice, but we should also know whether they work well or not. This will also help in getting clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, the nuclear watchdog in the country,” the official said.India specialises in Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors while the one which foreign companies are building are Light Water Reactors (LWRs) with some distinction from one another.Interestingly, the Russian have built Kudankulam units one and two, a VVER technology.The EDF, which is now negotiating with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), said it had given Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant 3 as the reference plant.The French government-owned company said the Flamanville plant with a capacity of 1630 MW should be operational by next year.However, sources said it might take a tad longer for the plant to become operational.EDF is also building another EPR reactor Taishan in China and that is expected to be commissioned before Flamanville.The company, which took over the reactor component of another French company Areva that was initially involved in discussion with the NPCIL, is building two more EPR plants in Hinkley Point in England.The government official added that the NPCIL is hoping that by the time the negotiations are finalised, both these companies are in a position to showcase a reference plant.Currently, discussions are being held techno-commercial at level with both these companies.

Promoting electronic transactions: NITI Aayog asks NPCI to incentivise digital payment makers

New Delhi: In a bid to promote electronic transactions, NITI Aayog has asked National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to frame an award scheme to incentivise people using digital mode for making payments through weekly and quarterly lucky draws.

NITI Aayog has requested National Payments Corporation of India to conceptualise and launch a new scheme to incentivise digital payments. NPCI is a not for profit company which is charged with a responsibility of guiding India towards being a cashless society.

According to a NITI Aayog statement, there has been a remarkable increase in both volume and amount of digital payment transactions since 9 November, when government demonetised high value notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.

File photo. PTI

File photo. PTI

It is necessary to ensure that electronic payments are adopted by all sections of the society, it said.

“We need to encourage electronic payments and nudge the society to move from digital to digi-dhan,” NITI Aayog said.

Under the proposal all consumers and merchants using digital payments shall be eligible.

There will be two levels of incentive amounts available under the scheme. First, weekly lucky draw of the transaction IDs generated in that week. The contours of which are being finalised, it said.

NITI Aayog has also proposed quarterly draw for grand prizes and asked NPCI that while designing the scheme the focus will be on poor, lower middle class and small businesses.

All modes of digital payments – USSD, AEPS, UPI and RuPay Cards – will be eligible under the scheme. For merchants, transactions made on the POS machines installed at their locations would be considered, it said

NITI Aayog said that the detailed guideline of the scheme shall be unveiled soon. However, it would be ensured that all those who have                                                                                                               used digital payment systems after 8 November shall be eligible to participate in the scheme.

The scheme would also provide for recognition of state governments, their undertakings, districts and urban & rural local bodies who innovate for promoting electronic payment in their respective jurisdictions.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 19:25 IST

SC modifies National Anthem order, exempts differently abled from standing

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Supreme Court on Friday modified its order on the National Anthem and exempted physically handicapped persons from standing before screening of a movie in cinema halls across the nation.It also clarified that doors of theatres need not be bolted when the National Anthem is played. The order was passed by a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, which agreed to hear the plea seeking recall of its order mandating playing of the National Anthem before films. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed the apex court that the Centre will issue guidelines within ten days from today on how physically challenged persons should show respect to the National Anthem.The court, however, said that physically disabled must show “some such gesture” to express their respect for anthem. As the guidelines are going to be issued, we clarify, if a physically challenged person or physically handicapped person goes to the Cinema hall to watch a film, he need not stand up, if he is incapable to stand, but must show such conduct which is commensurate with respect for the National Anthem…”Another aspect needs to be cleared. When we said that the doors shall be closed, we did not mean that the doors shall be bolted as mentioned in the case of Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Delhi vs. Uphaar Tragedy Victims Association and Ors. …but only to regulate the ingress and egress during the period while the National Anthem is played,” the bench said. The matter is now fixed for hearing on February 14, 2017.The clarification came after an organiser of an international film festival in Kerala moved the apex court seeking exemption from the November 30 on the ground that it would cause inconvenience to its 1,500 foreign guests.In a bid to “instil committed patriotism and nationalism”, the top court had ordered cinema halls across the nation to mandatorily play the National Anthem before screening of a movie and the audience must stand and show respect.The apex court had said that “love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National Anthem as well as to the National Flag”. The court’s directions came on a PIL filed by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the National Anthem should be played in cinema halls across the country before a film begins and proper norms and protocol be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.

Hyderabad building collapse: One dead, many feared trapped under debris as rescue continues

A person has been killed and many feared trapped under the debris after a multi-storied, under construction building collapsed in Hyderabad Thursday night.

The incident occurred in Nanakramguda, an information technology suburb under the limits of Cyberabad police commissionerate limits.

Police said a seven-storied building collapsed. Construction workers and their families who were asleep were trapped under the rubble.

Police and fire brigade personnel launched rescue operation. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams also joined the rescue work.

Rescue workers pulled out 12 people from the rubble and shifted them to a nearby hospital.

Cyberabad Police Commissioner Sandeep Shandilya said 15 to 20 people could be trapped under the debris.

About 10 families, mostly labourers, were living in the premises of the building, according to Hyderabad Mayor B Rammohan.

Telangana Home Minister N Narsimha Reddy and several other leaders and officials rushed to the spot where rescue work is underway.

Reddy said violation of rules has been noticed in the construction of the building.

Telangana Home minister N Narshimha Reddy said different figures were being given on the number of persons trapped under the debris. “Nobody is saying exactly,” he said.

State Excise Minister T Padma Rao said the number of persons trapped would be known only after the debris are removed.

“Unless the slabs are removed, we can not say responsibly. Six slabs have fallen on one another. Neither I nor you can say… It would be known only after the slabs are removed, how many workers are there.

“Some say six persons have died and some say seven died. Nobody knows how many were there and how many killed, but the truth would come out only after the slabs are lifted,” he said.

The immediate priority right now is to remove the debris and ascertaining how many were trapped, he said.

The government would act tough against those responsible for this tragedy for any violation of rules, the Excise Minister said.

Expressing anguish on the collapse of the multi-storey building, Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao directed ministers from the city to take care of the rescue and relief operation.

He also directed officials to take the help of NDRF personnel.

Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Commissioner B Janardhan Reddy said no body had been recovered so far.

Efforts were on to remove the debris and the administrative machinery has been pressed into service, he said.

“At this stage, it is difficult to say the cause of the collapse,” the Commissioner said.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 07:56 IST

Discount shower on digital highway

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In all the liquidity crunch unleashed by demonetization, if you are feeling a bit technologically challenged, the government has now given you reasons to make that crucial switch in payment mode. After sucking out over 85 per cent of cash by making old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes illegal tenders since November 8, the government on Thursday announced a slew of incentives to boost the use of digital or electronic mode of payments. These sops are mostly in the form of discounts. For example, digital payment for petrol and diesel at government-owned gas stations can get you a 75 basis points (bps) off on the retail price.So, at the current price of Rs 66.10 per litre in Delhi, you can save around 50 paise per litre. Finance minister Arun Jaitley has worked out the math well. According to him, the percentage of digital transactions at state-owned petrol pumps has doubled from 20 per cent to 40 per cent in a month. He said around 4.5 crore customers bought fuel worth Rs 1,800 crore at these pumps every day in the last month. This means transaction worth Rs 360 crore has moved from cash to digital.Jaitley expects his discount offer to drive at least 30 per cent more customers to digital modes of payment, which will further slash cash usage at petrol pumps by Rs 2 lakh crore annually. The government has offered other concessions like a 50 bps off on monthly or seasonal tickets on suburban railway network beginning January 1 next year, and a 5 per cent discount on catering, accommodation, retiring rooms and other paid services of railways. In another major move, it has waived off service tax on the use of credit card, debit card, charge card or any other payment card for paying Rs 2,000 in a single transaction.Online train ticket booking will fetch a passenger free accidental insurance cover of up to Rs 10 lakh and use of RFID or fast-tags will lower toll fee paid at toll plazas on the National Highway by 10 per cent.Other measures include offering free point of sale (PoS) machines to 1 lakh villages with a population of up to 10,000, abolishing Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) on digital transactions for central government and PSU services, rental cap of Rs 100 for PoS terminals, micro ATMs and Mobil PoS, Rupay Kisan cards for Kisan cardholders and discount and credit by PSU insurance companies of up to 10 per cent of the premium for general insurance policies and 8 per cent for new life cover from Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).Meanwhile, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) declared that it will extend support to banks for deployment of two PoS devices per village in 1 lakh villages. The estimated cost of support will be around Rs 120 crore.For those farmers who are already on RuPay Kisan Credit Card (KCC) platform, NABARD will now support procurement of Europay, Mastercard and Visa chips and PIN-based RuPay Kisan cards by regional rural and rural cooperative banks. NABARD will spend approximately Rs 108 crore to cover around 4.32 crore KCC holders.“We believe that these two initiatives will have a positive impact in easing the transition to digital transactions,” said NABARD chairman Harsh Kumar Bhanwala.Naveen Surya, chairman, Payment Council of India, said the cost reduction that would accrue from the shift to digital modes of payment should be passed on to the end-consumers. “Benefits passed on to consumers will give a booster growth to digital payment companies,” he said.He called for more such incentives for other services like electricity or mobile bills, long-distance railway tickets and others. Jaitley said that the government was eventually aiming at making political donations payments also digital, like in many developed countries.“This (incentives and demonetization) will certainly move India to less cash economy,” he said.

Demonetization: Man dies of heart attack while standing in Rajasthan bank queue

Wed, 7 Dec 2016-07:03pm , Jaipur , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 46-year-old man on Wednesday allegedly died after he suffered a cardiac arrest while standing in a bank queue to withdraw money.Modu Singh Gurjar, an employee of Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) was at a bank in Chandwaji town. At around 2:30 pm, he complained of severe chest pain and fell unconscious.Gurjar was soon rushed to the nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival. “Gurjar was standing in a queue and waiting for his turn to withdraw the money. He fell down on floor all of a sudden. Though people waiting for their turn rushed for help, he succumbed owing to severity of the attack,” Rajveer Singh Champawat, SHO, Chandwaji said.

India will always be thankful to Dr. Ambedkar for his rich service to the nation: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday paid tributes to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the father of Indian Constitution, on his 60th death anniversary and said that India will always be thankful to Babasaheb for his rich service to the nation.Meanwhile, a special event was held at the Parliament complex to commemorate his death, which was attended by the Vice President Hamid Ansari, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran leader LK Adavani, former prime minister Manmohan Singh among other political top brass.Later in the day, lakhs of people are expected to converge at Chaitya Bhoomi today, where Ambedkar’s ashes have been interred.The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai – MCGM has made adequate arrangements for pilgrims who come to visit Chaityabhoomi on Mahaparinirvan Diwas.MCGM has set up 10 control rooms to guide visitors and almost 11 ambulances have been stationed at various locations around Shivaji Park and Chaityabhoomi.More than 400 stalls, about 200 mobile toilets, water tankers, utility vehicles and fire engines have also been set up to aid the visitors.Around 750 workers have been put on duty round the clock at the venue and Dadar Chowpatty beach, which has the book stalls.With lakhs of people expected to visit Chaityabhoomi, the venue will also be kept under constant CCTV surveillance.Mumbai Police too has made elaborate arrangements to maintain law and order and also to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

Rain lashes Tamil Nadu, but cyclone Nada weakens

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a relief, cyclonic storm Nada weakened on Thursday into a deep depression and is likely to cross the Tamil Nadu coast on Friday, even as rains lashed several parts of the scarcity-hit state. “From a cyclonic storm, it has weakened into deep depression and in the next 24 hours is likely to cross the coast,” Area Cyclone Warning Centre Director, S Balachandran, told reporters in Chennai.The deep depression is likely to cross coast between Cuddalore and Vedaranyam early morning on Friday, he said. The weakening of the cyclone brings partial relief to the authorities who have put the state machinery on high alert, deploying National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response teams, and taking elaborate precautionary measures to tackle any eventuality.Earlier, the MeT office had said the cyclone would cross the state coast near Cuddalore and under its impact, heavy rains could lash Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry. The deep depression in the south West Bay now lies about 210 km south east of Puducherry, Balachandran said, adding it would move in the West North Westwardly direction and cross the coast.He said moderate rains were being witnessed in several parts of the state and this was likely to continue. Some coastal areas are likely to receive heavy rains, the official said. During and before the land fall of the depression, winds gusting upto 55 kmph are likely in coastal regions, he said.Earlier in the day, Agricultural Production commissioner and Secretary, Gagandeep Singh Bedi, said in Cuddalore that all the 32 revenue districts, including 13 coastal districts were being monitored continuously. “The district administrations are fully prepared (to handle any eventuality),” he said.State Revenue Minister RB Udaya Kumar said, “Be it heavy rains (which is expected) and gusty winds, all preparations are on (to tackle the situation).” He said during heavy winds power lines will be needing more attention and the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation is fully prepared to tackle the situation.Holidays had been declared in schools in various coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry for Thursday and Friday in view of the cyclone threat. The rains under influence of the depression have, however, brought cheers to the farmers hit by crop failure due to lack of water for irrigation. The current spell of rains marked revival of the north east monsoon which accounts for the major share of rains for the state, after it virtually remained inactive since its onset in October.

Demonetisation: 1.80 lakh ATMs re-calibrated to dispense Rs 500, 2,000 notes

Mumbai: Nearly 90 percent of the 2 lakh ATMs deployed across the country have been re-calibrated to dispense the new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes, says a key maker of the machines even as millions of people continue to face acute cash shortages in the aftermath of demonetisation last month.

A customer uses his card to withdraw money from an ATM in Jammu October 14, 2008. Indian shares held gains of 1.5 percent on Tuesday, led by Reliance Industries, but investors were circumspect and watchful after a sharp rebound this week on concerted action across the world to rescue the financial sector. REUTERS/Amit Gupta (INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR) - RTX9J5LA customer uses his card to withdraw money from an ATM in Jammu October 14, 2008. Indian shares held gains of 1.5 percent on Tuesday, led by Reliance Industries, but investors were circumspect and watchful after a sharp rebound this week on concerted action across the world to rescue the financial sector. REUTERS/Amit Gupta (INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR) - RTX9J5L

Reuters

As per the plan, all the ATMs should have been ready by yesterday.

These machines needed to be re-calibrated after the government on 8 November announced the scrapping of old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes in a bid to crack down on black money, and introduced of new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes of different size and high security features.

“A working group, formed under a RBI headed task force, was given a deadline to recalibrate all the ATMs by 30 November. About 90 percent, which is around 1.80 lakh ATMs, have been re-calibrated so far to dispense new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes,” ATM manufacturer NCR Corporation’s managing director, (India & South Asia) Navroze Dastur told PTI.

Following the announcement to scrap old high currency notes, a task force was set up on 14 November under the chairmanship of Reserve Bank deputy governor S S Mundra to oversee the recalibration process of all the ATMs.

Under the task force, a working group was formed which included of representatives of ATMs manufacturers like NCR, Diebold Nixdor, cash in transit companies and managed service providers, among others.

Dastur said the working group consisted of around 40-60 people and they have been recalibrating on an average 12,000 ATMs per day.

He said the rest of the ATMs would be re-calibrated over the next 10 days to dispense new notes.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 17:51 IST

Cyclone Nada: Rains lash several parts of Tamil Nadu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rains on Thursday lashed several parts of Tamil Nadu influenced by cyclonic storm Nada, which is likely to cross the coast near here in the early hours of Friday.With the cyclonic storm expected to bring heavy downpour coupled with gusty winds, the state government said all precautionary measures have been taken by district administrations to handle any eventuality.IMD said yesterday’s depression over Bay of Bengal has intensified into cyclonic storm Nada and under its influence rains have begun in coastal, northern and some interior parts of Tamil Nadu.”All the 32 revenue districts including 13 coastal districts are being monitored continuously. The district administrations are fully prepared (to handle any eventuality),” Agricultural Production commissioner and Secretary, Gagandeep Singh Bedi said.State Revenue Minister RB Udaya Kumar said, “be it heavy rains (which is expected) and gusty winds, all preparations are on.”He said during heavy winds power lines will be needing more attention and the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation is fully prepared to tackle the situation.He said other preparations like setting up common kitchens to cater to the needs of people in relief centres and deployment of National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Fund teams were in place in coastal districts including Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Chennai.

ISRO will launch 83 satellites in one go in January 2017

Of the 83 satellites, three are Indian, namely, Cartosat-2 series weighing 730 kg as primary payload, INS-IA and INS-1B, total weighing 30 kg.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch 83 satellites, 80 of them being foreign, in one go in January next year, the Lok Sabha was told on Wednesday.80 satellites weighing 500 kg belonged to five foreign countries — Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland and the US. “These international customer satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangement between them and Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm and PSU under the ISRO,” Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the PMO said in a written reply. The Department of Space comes under the PMO.It will be the first of its kind mission in ISRO’s space history. Three Indian satellites are namely Cartosat-2 series weighing 730 kg as primary payload, INS-IA and INS-1B, total weighing 30 kg.

Kerala Vigilance chief Jacob Thomas seeks whistleblowers’ protection for self

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an unusual action, Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau chief and DGP Jacob Thomas, who has taken a tough stand against corrupt politicians including ex-ministers and bureaucrats, has sought whistleblowers protection for himself from the Centre.Thomas has sent a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Chief Secretary SM Vijayanand requesting them to urge the Centre “to grant him adequate protection from being harassed and put under any kind of pressure while exposing departmental corruption and irregularities by public functionaries,” official sources said.According to Whistleblowers Protection Act 2011, the “Central government shall ensure that no person or a public servant who has made a disclosure under this Act is victimised by initiation of any proceedings or otherwise merely on the ground that such person or a public servant had made a disclosure or rendered assistance in inquiry under this Act.” The Act, which received Presidential assent on May 9, 2014, also states that if any person was being victimised or likely to be victimised for making disclosures or rendered assistance under the Act, he may, file an application before the Competent Authority seeking redress in the matter.”And such authority shall take such action, as deemed fit and may give suitable directions to the concerned public servant or the public authority, as the case may be, to protect such person from being victimised or avoid his victimisation,” it says.The demand of the senior most IPS officer in the state assumes significance in the wake of a series of inquiries launched by the anti-corruption watchdog, including those against some top bureaucrats.Interestingly, Thomas was the first IPS officer in the state to get whistleblowers protection from the Union government in 2005 after he brought to light corruption in the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation while serving as its managing director.Advocate DB Binu, a state-based RTI activist, said even two years after the much-awaited Whistleblowers Protection Act came into existence, it was yet to be fully operational in the country. “There is no concrete system to protect whistleblowers in our country right now. If a person gets threat and harassment for whistleblowing a corruption, will anybody else be ready to follow his footsteps?” he said.”Whistleblowers play a significant role in anti-corruption drives. They face lot of threats and harassment while exposing corruption. This is much high in the case if an insider, who whistleblows about the corruption of a system by standing within it,” he said.

Demonetization: LDF strike begins in Kerala, tourism sector exempted

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The 12-hour strike called by the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala, as part of the nationwide agitation by opposition parties against demonetization and the resultant crisis being faced by the cooperative sector in the state, began this morning.In the early hours of the strike which started at 6.00 am, autorickshaws were seen plying in some places, providing some relief to people.Police vehicles were used to transport railway passengers and patients coming from far off places to the Regional Cancer Centre here. Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and private buses are keeping off roads in most places.Some Sabarimala pilgrims who arrived at Kottayam by train complained that they were unable to leave for the Ayyappa temple as buses were not plying. “We have been waiting for hours. Though some private taxis are available, we cannot afford them as the fares are exorbitant,” a man from Andhra Pradesh said. The tourism sector and vehicles of Sabarimala pilgrims have been exempted from the strike.Keeping in mind the peak tourist season, the government had decided to exempt tourists from the strike. It has issued instructions to all departments concerned, including police to take all possible steps to ensure that the tourism sector was not hit by the strike. Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran had also requested for exemption of tourists and tourist vehicles from the strike.German Cruise liner AIDAbella which had arrived in Kochi made a turnaround call at the Kochi port yesterday. At least 1000 tourists would be arriving at the airport today to embark the vessel, while some would be leaving it to explore various places. Tour operators were assured by Tourism Principal Secretary V Venu that the hartal would not affect the visitors.The opposition Congress-led UDF would be taking out a march to the Raj Bhavan here at 11.00 am on the crisis being faced by the cooperative sector. Banks, newspapers, milk supply, hospitals and marriage functions would be exempted from the shutdown, LDF convener Vaikom Viswam had said in a statement.The LDF had announced the strike as part of the nationwide protest against the Centre’s move of scrapping Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Indian Railways, IRCTC include transgender as third gender

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian Railways and IRCTC have included “transgender as third gender” in the option alongside male and female in ticket reservation and cancellation forms.The decision which was taken on a representation made by a lawyer will include the facility for reservations and cancellations, both online as well offline.The Delhi-based lawyer had made the representation after the Delhi High Court in February had asked him to approach the Railway Ministry while disposing of his petition.The ministry in its circular referred to the direction of the apex court of April 2014, which had said that hijras, eunuchs, apart from binary gender, be treated as third gender for protecting their rights.”Supreme Court (in the judgement) has directed that Hijras, Eunuchs, apart from binary gender, be treated as third gender for the purpose of safeguarding their rights under Part III of our Constitution and the laws made by the parliament and the State Legislature.”It has, therefore, been decided to include the third gender/transgender option alongside male/female in reservation cancellation requisition form. This information will be captured by the system and tickets to transgender will be issued on full fare,” the circular stated.Advocate Jamshed Ansari in his PIL before the high court had alleged violation of Article 14, 15, 19 and 21 of the Constitution by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), by non-inclusion of “transgender/third gender” as a gender option in its forms.He had also sought compliance of the apex court judgment in which it directed the Centre and the state governments to recognise transgender as the third sex, and to provide them with the benefits accorded to socially and economically backward classes. He had further demanded special coaches and reserved seats for the transgender community in all trains, for their “care and protection”.On which the bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini had asked the ministry to look into the averments made in the writ petition.

E-commerce will touch Rs 1 lakh cr in 5 years: Ravi Shankar Prasad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With a sustained push by the government, and its digital drive, it is likely that the volume of trade in the e-commerce sector will touch Rs 1,00,000 crore in the coming five years, said Union minister for law, eletronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad. Speaking at the 111th Annual Session PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the minister said that the government has already saved over Rs 36,000 crore by digitalising economic activities.”We have used payment methods like direct cash transfer for payment of subsidies and MGNREGA wages to the accounts of intended beneficiaries through aadhaar. With e-commerce facilities being made available to rural folk, we have successfully transferred wages for several social schemes into their accounts amounting to a savings of Rs 36,000 crore in the last year,” said Prasad.Prasad also said that close to 40 mobile units have come to India to manufacturer mobile devices, and 11 have already been approved. He further added that the digital drive is being extended to postal services, with banks like CitiBank, Deutsche Bank, and Barclays working on setting up payment kiosks in post offices.Among other who spoke on the occasion included Dr Mahesh Gupta, president of the PHD Chamber, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and union minister Harsh Vardhan among others. The gathering also saw the distribution of the PHD Chamber’s annual awards of excellence.While National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) bagged the Good Corporate Citizen Award, the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Social Welfare was taken away by Trident Limited. The Distinguished Entrepreneurship Award went to Narendra Bansal, chairman and managing director of Intex Technologies.Dr Jyotsna Suri, chairman and managing director of Bharat Hotels bagged the Outstanding Businesswoman Award and the Award for Excellence in Skill Development was conferred upon Jubilant Life Sciences. The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to RK Saboo, chairman of KDDL Ltd.

Note ban: Govt extends suspension of toll charges on National Highways till 1 December

New Delhi: The government on Thursday announced it was extending the suspension of fee collection at all toll plazas on National Highways in the country until 1 December.

“Toll suspension is extended until 1 December midnight across all national highways,” Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Chemicals and Fertilisers Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted.

Earlier, the government suspended fee collection at all toll plazas on National Highways till the midnight of 11 November. This was subsequently extended thrice – and the last extension was to end on the midnight of 24 November.

The Ministry had previously said that instructions for the suspension of fee collection had been issued to all the concessionaires, including BOT (build-operate-transfer), OMT (operate-maintain-transfer) operators and other fee collection agencies.

The decision has been taken to avoid any inconvenience to highway users following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

On 22 November, the government had also extended the suspension of vehicle parking charges at all airports till the midnight of 28 November.

Even, the Indian Railways have waived off service charges for ‘e-tickets’ and ‘i-tickets’ booked through Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) until 31 December.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 18:36 IST

Banks refill money chest with soiled notes, new Rs 10 coins

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With a surge in demand for smaller denomination notes, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has put soiled notes—mainly of Rs 100 and lower denominations—back into the system, along with a fresh supply of Rs 10 coins.According to the available data, as on March 2016, RBI had in its possession 16,368 million pieces of soiled notes, a substantial portion of which is back in circulation. These are notes that are collected by the banks from the customers as part of replacing soiled and torn notes. Once handed back to the RBI, the notes are examined by a committee and then destroyed.A senior official from the Punjab National Bank said, “We have received soiled notes and have started distributing it. Since there is a currency crunch, whatever supplies we are getting are being made use of. The soiled notes are not mutilated ones, but worn out or partially torn.”It’s estimated that these soiled notes will be in circulation for a couple of months till banks get enough supply of new currency. “Even if we make the printing presses work overtime, it may take a few months to bring the situation back to normalcy since we have sucked out 84 per cent of our currency,” said the executive director of a south-based private sector bank.Meanwhile, a RBI release said that the new coins to be distributed will come with distinctive features reflecting India’s socio-economic-cultural ethos.Fake notes in playAccording to a senior banker, as many as 6,32,926 pieces of counterfeit notes were detected in the banking system during the last fiscal. Of this 95 per cent were detected by commercial banks.While 2,21,447 pieces of fake Rs 100 notes were confiscated by the banks, 2,61,695 pieces of Rs 500 notes were detected. In Rs 1,000 denomination, 1,43,099 pieces were detected.During 2015-16, the RBI had printed 21.2 billion pieces, while it was 23.6 billion pieces the previous fiscal. In value terms, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes together accounted for 86.4 per cent of the currency in circulation, but going by volume, Rs 10 and Rs 100 bank notes constituted 53 per cent of the total currency in circulation.The value of the Rs 1,000 notes was Rs 6,32,600 crore from 6,326 million pieces in circulation and the value of the Rs 500 notes was Rs 7,65,400 crore from 15,707 million notes in circulation, according to RBI data.Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Pvt Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the RBI which runs two banknote printing presses in Mysore and Salboni, produced 14,714 million pieces of banknotes of different denominations as against its annual target of 15,700 million pieces in 2015-16.There are four currency presses – one each in Nashik (in Maharashtra), Dewas, (Madhya Pradesh), Salboni (West Bengal and Mysuru (Karnataka). The Nashik and the Dewas presses are owned by Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd.

Demonetization: Kerala govt to accept old notes for payment of state taxes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala government has decided to accept demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for payment of various taxes, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said today.The demonetized currency notes would be accepted for paying tax arrears too, the minister said, adding that the decision was taken after discussion with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during today’s GST Council meet.”Various state taxes including vehicle tax, registration tax, electricity bills, water tax can be paid using the old currency notes till November 24 and the order regarding this will be issued tomorrow,” Isaac said.The minister also said the people can use the demonetized notes to recharge season tickets of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation. The state government has also demanded the Centre allot a grant or a loan to compensate the losses suffered by the state due to demonetization.”The Union Finance Minister has agreed to consider our demand. We had set aside enough to pay the next month’s salary but if the Centre does not cooperate, then it will affect the Christmas celebrations,” Isaac said.The state government has also decided to appoint a panel to study long-term and short-term impacts of the demonetization move in the state. “The Centre’s decision to withdraw the banknotes have seriously affected the income of the state. VAT collection and vehicle registration have been badly hit,” he added.

Demonetization: Banks may allow cash withdrawal for weddings from next week

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Banks may allow withdrawal of Rs 2.5 lakh by the families with upcoming weddings from next week only after receiving operational guidelines from the RBI, even though the Centre announced the relaxation earlier this week.”In absence of operational guidelines from RBI, we are unable to give Rs 2.5 lakh for marriage purpose to each of the family (of bride and groom). We are awaiting direction from RBI,” Punjab National Bank Managing Director Usha Ananthasubramanian said. “We expect the norms by Monday and hopefully by Tuesday, branches should start disbursing for marriage. We understand that the amount can be drawn only by either parents or the person getting married. Only one of them will be permitted to draw this amount. The limit of Rs 2.5 lakh will apply separately to the girl’s and the boy’s family,” she said.Similarly, other banks are also not offering this facility in absence of directions from the RBI. According to a senior Corporation Bank official, “Withdrawal for marriage purpose can be availed only after RBI’s notification which will have clear direction about the various formalities needed to be furnished by the customers for withdrawal.”Earlier this week, the government had said it has been decided to permit families celebrating weddings to draw up to Rs 2.5 lakh in cash from their own bank accounts while encouraging families to incur wedding expenses through cheques or digital means. Following the announcement, families where marriage ceremonies are due started making beeline before the branches only to return empty handed as bank officials turned them away saying there is no direction from their head office or RBI in this regard.This being marriage season, people thronged the branches with all possible evidence for marriage and their identity proof to get much needed cash. With regard to PNB ATMs, Ananthasubramanian said, 2,000 out of 9,000 cash vending machines have been recalibrated and they are dispensing money. By next week, more ATMs would be recalibrated that will further ease the cash crunch. Asked if the surge in low-cost deposits by banks would translate into lower interest rate, she said, the bank is reviewing the situation and probably there would be cut in fixed deposit rate as early as Saturday.The bank has got deposits of 47,000 crore since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 8 surprised citizens by announcing demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes.

Madhya Pradesh: Nov 19 by-polls first litmus test for BJP after demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As campaigning ends on Thursday for the November 19 by-elections to the Shahdol Lok Sabha and Nepanagar Assembly seats, ruling BJP will face its first litmus test since demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.Retaining both the ST seats in this by-polls will be crucial for the BJP as if it loses any one of them it will be construed that the decision to scrap high denomination currency has not gone down well with the people, a Congress leader said. However, a BJP leader exuded confidence of retaining both the seats with a comfortable margin and claimed that the issue of demonetization will not affect its poll prospects.”People were facing grave problems with this dictatorial order. Both common man and farmers were forced to stand in long queues. Farmers are not having money to purchase fertilizers and seeds,” Madhya Pradesh Congress President Arun Yadav said. “People are highly annoyed with the decision and I am sure that they will vote against the BJP on the issue,” Yadav said. They are already facing a lot of problems because of lack of development and tall claims of the government that people are getting 24×7 power supply in the state. Now, the decision to demonetize Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes has added further fuel to the fire, the Congress leader said. However, BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd Chairman, Dr Hitesh Bajpai said that demonetization is not an issue in tribal-dominated areas. “They are more concerned with issues of getting land lease rights, their staple food is rice and jowar and they are happy with it,” he said. “(Earlier) the party had won the Shahdol seat with a margin of over two lakh votes and I am sure that we will retain it with a difference of more than 1.5 lakh ballots,” he said.Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan, former Union Minister Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and state Congress president Arun Yadav have addressed series of public meetings to woo voters and drum up support for their respective parties. Chouhan has frequented Shahdol to ensure that the BJP retains the seat. He is taking no chances given that the BJP had failed to retain the Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha by-polls in November 2015.

Demonetisation and ATM chaos: Is the execution failure worth the pain? Wait until 1 Jan

Consider some of these observations after the demonetisation scheme was announced.

First, as when one visited holy family hospital in Bandra, one could see several patients facing a conundrum. The patient was in distress but the hospital insisted that payment be made by plastic and not the Rs 500 and 1000 notes. The people here were from middle class but never used cards and had cash.

Second, several eateries saw sharp fall in business as they do not use cards and insist on cash. Business was low as they had to keep customers away.

Third, one saw vegetable and fruit dealers were sitting without wares because they could neither buy nor sell. The former because the mandis insisted on non-demonetised notes. The latter because they could not tender change even in case they had some goods.

Four, business for small shops slumped even as they gave goods on credit. Doctors had a serious problem on taking fees in non-cash as they could not be paid Rs 1,000 as fees, which is at specialists charge. Some asked for cheques and took the risk of them bouncing.

These are real instances in Mumbai after conversations with some of them.

PTIPTI

PTI

The government announced that banks would close on 9 November and ATMs would generally function from 11 November while some could open on 10 November. The picture here was predictable. Banks had long queues and had different interpretation of the rules.

While the RBI circular says that one can exchange Rs 4,000 a day, banks say that their branches can do so only once in a time band. Next you wait for 1.5 to 2 hours, which the author did, and you are provided with two Rs 2,000 notes. Are these notes useful? Definitely not now as there are no takers for the same as people need change which is not available. (It has to be noted the limits have changed on Sunday night. Read about it here.)

The crowd here is generally from the lower and middle income groups as they need this more than the affluent who can wait. Further while the RBI web site and government notification has a form appended, you cannot use it as banks have their own versions which added some more details and hence one cannot go prepared for the same. Some insist on writing the number of the notes as well as providing your phone numbers while others do not. Quite clearly this has not been thought of when the circular was issued.

There are separate queues for deposits and withdrawals. At present, bankers say that there are no Rs 500 notes (as of Sunday 13 November) provided and hence a withdrawal of Rs 10,000 could be meaningless with only Rs 2,000 notes being dispensed.

The deposits queue have the more affluent who come with stacks of notes and these queues move faster than the exchange ones. The latter runs the risk of coming to an end anytime money is exhausted. One has not come across bank branches which admit a fixed number of people through a system which ensures that you do not stand for two hours and asked to go without the money. It is hence a matter of chance.

The ATM story is still bizarre. On the 11 November one moved in a radius of 4 kms between Andheri East and Vile Parle East (in Mumbai), which houses around 25 ATMs. Several ATMs of Kotak Bank and YES Bank were closed with shutters down. The security guard said that cash was not received.

SBI was taking only deposits. ICICI Bank claimed money was exhausted while HDFC Bank had no one to talk to as the main shutter was down and locked. PNB, Canara, Karnataka bank, OBC and United Bank had not received stock of money. The only ATM which could give cash at 11 pm was IDBI Bank which probably had currency as it is located in a quiet place.

What are the issues here? A talk with bankers and security personnel reveal the following. All banks do not have currency chests and do not have access to money. They need to get from the RBI these bundles and the central bank appears not to have the stock which means that there is shortage of currency notes.

Second, once a bank gets the money it should have the wherewithal to handle it and disburse to branches. All do not have these facilities. Third, the ATMs need to be reprogrammed to dispense specific denomination notes of fixed quantity and also ensure that the same card cannot be used twice in a day.

There is a limit to it as it involves a physical exercise. There are over 2 lakh machines that need such attention. The outcome is also that once these machines are to provide a larger quantity after a pre-specified date, then they have to be reprogrammed. It is not surprising that these notes do not fit and the result is long queues.

The people in these lines are definitely from the lower income groups. Hence even these bold measures which serve the larger good has to be supported by the lower income people.

The problem with India and the schemes implemented is that most of them are formulated in the precincts of institutions with less knowledge of reality. Let us see some evident shortcomings.

Printing Rs 2,000 notes without having lower denomination currency is a losing proposition as it is quite meaningless. All those receiving them have to wait for the Rs 500 notes to come as there are no takers for the same.

Second announcing limits on withdrawals at ATMs or exchanging of currency sends out panic messages that the system does not have money today. If an equivalent amount was made available within the normal limits, there would be no panic.

Third, banks have their own interpretation of the RBI rules which creates confusion for customers. For example, ICICI bank told me that if I exchanged money today I could do the next one after 23rd November, but I could do successive transactions in Corporation Bank after enquiring about this issue and the officials saw no objection.

What does this all mean? Execution has always been our Achilles heel, and the attitude is always one of jugaad. It works actually because we feel that let us roll out something and then address issues as they come as we can never think of all contingencies. There is merit here and as and when an equilibrium finally comes things are forgotten. But there is a cost to this exercise. Let us try and impute the cost of such an exercise. There are around 290 million households of which two-thirds would be affected fully assuming the balance are very poor.

Each household would spend at least 12 hours standing in queues for exchanging, depositing and withdrawing money in the period up to December end. It could be higher too. This would be around 300 million working days assuming that a working day is 8 hours and one spends one-and-half days of time. What is the cost of this time? At the most basic level the per capita income of Rs 8,000 per month for the country implies a daily salary of Rs 360 which work s to Rs 540 for one-and-half days which comes to Rs 540×30 or around Rs 16,200 crore.

To this should be added the cost for banks where the pure salary bill is around Rs 400 crore a day (annual wage bill of Rs 1.2 lakh crore which implies Rs 10,000 crore a month or Rs 416 crore a day assuming 24 working days) where a multiple of one-and-half days can be added for other expenses that go with operations.

Now depending the number of days that banks have to put in terms of additional hours one can guess the overall cost. Assuming again that altogether banks will be working for at least 10 additional days the value will be between Rs 4,000 crore and Rs 6,000 crore. Hence the total imputed cost of operations would be a minimum of Rs 20,000-22,000 crore at the minimum. Add to this the cost of realigning ATMs, transportation of cash, security, besides the printing of new notes and destruction of old mites, the overall cost could run to anywhere between Rs 30,000 crore and Rs 40,000 crore. This excludes the loss of GDP which cannot be made up like in services.

Consumer goods would always see a revival once things settle down. Therefore, unearthing black money through demonetisation can be an expensive exercise if birth direct and direct costs are included.

Hopefully, the returns will justify this expense. This will be known on 1 January, whether the exercise has been worth the effort.

The author is chief economist, CARE Ratings. Views are personal

First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 08:55 IST

Demonetization brings Rs 173 crore to Maharashtra coffers in a single day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the wake of the recent demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes by the central government, the Maharashtra government collected water and property tax totalling Rs 173 crore, the highest amount ever collected in a day.Manisha Mhaiskar, Secretary of State Urban Development department told on Friday that they had permitted people to pay the property and water taxes in recently obsolete currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. “As a positive side effect, we were able to collect property and water taxes worth Rs 173 crore. This is the first time we have collected such a huge amount in one day. People are queuing up to pay taxes. We will continue doing this until Friday midnight and are looking at extending this scheme with permission from senior authority,” she said.Source said that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked him to allow them to charge and collect state taxes in the ongoing denominations. “Prime Minister Modi readily agreed, after which we issued the GR for the same. The entire process took up almost two days. Otherwise, we would have collected around Rs 500 crore in the last three days. There are many defaulters who have money but are reluctant to pay the government taxes. Now, permitting the people to pay taxes in the erstwhile currencies pushed them to stand in queues to pay up the same. It is completely unbelievable. Otherwise, we have to slap many notices. It has benefited them and us as well,” source from urban development said, requesting anonymity.He further said that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also likely to speak with the Prime Minister again to extend the deadline of accepting the passing currencies up to the end of November. “If Prime Minister Modi allows us, then we will able to collect maximum taxes in this month. People are paying taxes at their respective municipal corporation offices. Most of the corporations are garnering an average revenue of Rs 8-9 crore in a day. This is really encouraging and will boost revenue,” Senior Urban Development department official said.As per government data, the maximum collections took place in Nagpur, Pune, Nasik, Navi Mumbai, and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations. Also, the Solapur Municipal Corporation Mayor, Sushila Abute, on Friday, paid her Rs 1.15 lakh dues in denominations of Rs 500.

India, Japan sign landmark nuclear deal; Narendra Modi, Shinzo Abe seek to step up ties

Tokyo: India and Japan on Friday signed a landmark civil nuclear cooperation deal after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Shinzo Abe, a move that will boost bilateral economic and security ties and facilitate US-based players to set up atomic plants in India.

The two countries had reached a broad agreement for cooperation in civil nuclear energy sector during Abe’s visit to India in December last year, but the deal was yet to be signed as some issues were yet to be worked out.

Tokyo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his ceremonial welcome in Tokyo on Friday. PTI Photo by Shirish Shete  (PTI11_11_2016_000123B)

Tokyo: India and Japan sign historic nuclear deal. PTI

“A landmark deal for a cleaner, greener world! PM @narendramodi and PM @AbeShinzo witness exchange of the landmark Civil Nuclear Agreement,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted on Friday.

The deal would allow Japan to export nuclear technology to India, making it the first non-NPT signatory to have such a deal with Tokyo. It would also cement the bilateral economic and security ties as the two countries warm up to counter an assertive China.

There was political resistance in Japan – the only country to suffer atomic bombings during World War II – against a nuclear deal with India, particularly after the disaster at the Fukushima  Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.

Japan is a major player in the nuclear energy market and an atomic deal with it will make it easier for US-based nuclear plant makers Westinghouse Electric Corporation and GE Energy Inc to set up atomic plants in India as both these conglomerates have Japanese investments.

Other nations who have signed civil nuclear deal with India include the US, Russia, South Korea, Mangolia, France, Namibia, Argentina, Canada, Kazakhstan and Australia.

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 17:05 IST

World Bank probe into Tata tea project finds it failed to protect Indian workers | Reuters

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A World Bank investigation into a tea plantation project in India that it jointly finances with tea giant Tata Global Beverages has found that it has failed to tackle alleged abuses of impoverished workers, the group said on Wednesday.The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group – said its accountability office began a probe into the project, run by Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), after reports tea pickers were being exploited.In a statement emailed to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the IFC said it welcomed the investigation by the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) and would work towards improving conditions for workers in plantations in Assam.”IFC is continually working with APPL in its ongoing programme of improving living and working conditions and will continue to collaborate with the CAO on the next steps, post-audit,” it said.Officials from Tata Global Beverages and APPL were not immediately available for comment.APPL was set up in 2009 to acquire and manage tea plantations previously owned by Tata Global Beverages – which owns Tetley, the second-largest tea brand in the world.

The IFC’s $7.8 million involvement in the $87 million “Tata Tea” project was aimed at promoting shareholder workers and helping to create more than 30,000 permanent jobs.Tata Global Beverages took a 41 percent stake in APPL and the IFC took 20 percent, with the remainder held by workers and smaller firms.But complaints by charities and trade unions about exploitation and abuse of tea-pickers – including long working hours, low wages, lack of freedom of association, over-exposure to pesticides and poor health and living conditions – prompted the CAO to launch an investigation in February 2014.

The CAO’s findings, released on Monday, found the IFC failed to identify and address labour, social and environmental issues, including potential violations of Indian and international law, including those related to housing and wages.”CAO finds that IFC has not assured itself that the wages paid by the client are consistent with IFC’s commitment to support jobs which offer a ‘way out of poverty’ or ‘protect and promote the health’ of workers,” it said.The IFC’s investment also supported a problematic employee share-purchase programme, the CAO found. It said APPL misrepresented the risks associated with buying stock, resulting in debt incurred by workers who came under pressure to buy shares.

The CAO said the IFC supported issuing more shares, reducing the value of workers’ shares and diluting their stake in APPL, without consulting worker-shareholders. Human Rights Watch called on the IFC to conduct a review of the social impact of its investment and work with its clients to improve the plight of impoverished tea pickers in Assam. “The IFC has been sluggish in responding to its endemic failures and done little to remedy the impact of its past mistakes at the community level,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at HRW.”The IFC’s board should send the action plan back to the staff and require it to consult with workers and the groups that filed the complaints to make sure that all the violations are addressed and appropriate responses are developed.” (Reporting by Nita Bhalla; Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

BMC polls: Political leverage over Chhat festival to gather votes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With an eye on north Indian votes in the megalopolis which can tilt scales in upcoming high-stakes BMC polls, various political parties are trying to leverage the forthcoming Chhat festival, mainly celebrated by people from Bihar.While city unit of ruling BJP has organised Chhat puja at various places, Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which thrives on the sons-of-soil agenda, feels the saffron party was trying to “woo” outsiders ahead of BMC polls through the festival.Country’s richest civic body the Brihanumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been ruled by Sena, with BJP as a junior partner. The 2017 BMC polls are crucial for Sena, which is facing aggressive BJP on its home turf.Mumbai BJP is actively involved in organising Chhat Puja at around a dozen locations including popular Juhu beach. “BJP is holding Chhat puja to attract ‘outsiders'”, an MNS leader said, in a veiled reference to north Indian voters in Mumbai.Chhat is performed in order to thank the Sun god for sustaining life on earth. The festival is mainly celebrated in Bihar, eastern UP and Jharkhand. City unit Congress president Sanjay Nirupam has said that “BJP only celebrates Chhat Puja when there is an election round the corner.”Nirupam, who originally hails from Bihar, today asked Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to ensure that BJP does not politicise Chhat ahead of the BMC polls.”BJP is known to use religious rituals for political gains. I have been organising Chhath puja celebrations at Juhu beach for the last 18 years. As per the High Court guidelines, the celebrations should not take place under the banner of any political party and party flags should not be displayed at the venue,” Nirupam stated in a letter to Fadnavis on Friday.On Thursday, a delegation of some BJP leaders called on the CM and sought assistance of state government for celebrating Chhat puja at sea fronts in different parts of city on November 6. Shiv Sena, known for its aggressive ‘bhumiputra’ stance, said Chhat events are being organised with an eye on BMC polls and that they are a show of “political affection to people”.”Sena is not concerned about which party is doing what. Entire country knows Sena for its unwavering stand on Hindutva. It’s only Sena which never backtracked from its stand and even Biharis know that. All these events are being held in view of BMC polls, but it’s true love and affection that people require. People are fed up with political affection towards them,” said local Sena MP Arvind Sawant.

Delhi-NCR pollution: MCD schools to be closed on Saturday due to heavy smog

New Delhi: Schools running under the three municipal corporations of Delhi have been ordered to be closed in view of the heavy smog, the worst the national capital has faced in 17 years.

“All municipal schools under the three corporations will be closed on Saturday due to the heavy smog and pollution. The order for closure is only for a day as of now. As per the situation, we may decide to close them later as well,” Leader of Opposition in SDMC, Subhash Arya said.

New Delhi: A view of New Delhi street covered with dense smog on Friday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist(PTI11_4_2016_000040B)New Delhi: A view of New Delhi street covered with dense smog on Friday. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist(PTI11_4_2016_000040B)

The national capital is facing the worst smog in 17 years. PTI

About 10 lakh students are enrolled in the schools administered by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), Nouth Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).

“The decision was taken on Friday at a meeting held in the wake of severe pollution Delhiites are reeling under. And, since the smog is worse during the morning, it was decided to close the schools,” said Arya, also the former Mayor of south Delhi.

The national capital is facing the worst smog in 17 years, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had said on Thursday, while asking the Delhi government to issue health alerts and convey that children should stay indoors as there is a state of health emergency due to peaking air pollution.

Peak level of respirable pollutants PM 2.5 and PM 10 had also violated the safe limits by over 15 times at places like RK Puram. The prescribed standard of PM 2.5 is 60 micrograms per cubic metre, but it touched 955 in real-time during early morning hours.

Admitting that the enforcement of rules for tackling air pollution was “weak”, the Environment Ministry today asked states to “strictly” implement a host of measures, including checking spread of fly ash from Delhi’s Badarpur plant and shutting down of old brick kilns.

NGT asks Centre, state Pollution Control Committee to take steps to control pollution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking cognizance of the alarming air quality in Delhi, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday asked the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to take steps to control and curb the pollution.The Tribunal also summoned the Environment Secretary of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan over pollution increase in the region and asked Environment Secretaries of all the four states to submit a report on burning of agricultural residues and pollution control to the tribunal by November 8. Taking suo motu cognizance of the matter, the tribunal had yesterday directed Delhi Chief Secretary KK Sharma to hold a meeting urgently with all the concerned authorities. The NGT’s directive came while hearing a case related to the rising menace of Chikungunya and Dengue.During the hearing the Delhi government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had argued that the presence of mosquitoes declined drastically after Diwali. “Have you done anything to prevent children from going to school, did you give advisory to public. The people have the right to breathe fresh air,” the tribunal observed while reprimanding the Delhi Government over its lacklustre response towards tackling air pollution.As per System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), levels of Particulate Matter (PM) 10 levels reached a record 500 mark on Wednesday. The city witnessed low visibility and smog throughout Wednesday evening and night. The reasons for this are a drop in wind speed and rise in humidity in the atmosphere. Such severe pollution levels can cause breathing problems, lung and heart diseases among many other ailments. Next date for hearing is scheduled on November 8.

NGT to seek report on Delhi air pollution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday will hear a case related to the deteriorating quality of air in Delhi which has been designated as being in the ‘severe’ category post Diwali. Taking suo motu cognisance of the matter, the tribunal on Thursday directed Delhi Chief Secretary KK Sharma to hold a meeting urgently with all the concerned authorities. The chief secretary was told to file a status report by today. NGT’s directive came while hearing a case related to the rising menace of Chikungunya and Dengue. During the hearing the Delhi government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had argued that the presence of mosquitoes declined drastically after Diwali. “Have you done anything to prevent children from going to school, did you give advisory to public. The people have the right to breathe fresh air,” the tribunal observed while reprimanding the Delhi Government over its lacklustre response towards tackling air pollution.For the past three days, Delhiites have been inhaling copious amounts of particulate matter (PM) – both 2.5 micrometers and 10 micrometers – composed of dust, dirt, smoke, chemicals, etc., a deadly combination which enters the blood stream through one’s lungs and causes cancer.As per System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), levels of Particulate Matter (PM) 10 levels reached a record 500 mark on Wednesday.The city witnessed low visibility and smog throughout Wednesday evening and night. The reasons for this are a drop in wind speed and rise in humidity in the atmosphere. Such severe pollution levels can cause breathing problems, lung and heart diseases among many other ailments.ANI

Byculla Zoo penguin’s death: BMC confiscates Rs 1.40 crore deposit of contractor

Mumbai: Following the recent death of an 18-month-old Humboldt penguin in Mumbai zoo, the civic body has confiscated Rs 1.40 crore deposit of the contractor responsible for construction of the bird’s enclosure.

In another development, the Central Zoo Authority has written to Byculla Zoo officials seeking a status report on the seven remaining penguins in the zoo.

A senior official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) informed about this decision during a meeting of the standing committee of the house on Wednesday and said the decision to forfeit the deposit was taken last week.

Eight Humboldt penguins were brought to the Byculla zoo. News18

Eight Humboldt penguins were brought to the Byculla zoo. News18

BMC’s Additional Municipal Commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh, who presided over the meeting, informed the house saying, “We have come to know that there have been issues in the joint venture between the contractor — Highway Construction company — and SIVAT services.”

SIVAT is an expert in aquatic life support system. BMC had a contract with Highway Construction, which claimed to have a joint venture with SIVAT.

“For constructing a penguin enclosure, we had awarded a contract to Highway Construction company, which claimed to have forged a venture with SIVAT services. But, in our inquiry we found that there was no such joint venture and therefore, we decided to forfeit the deposit (of the construction company),” a civic official said.

Eight Humboldt penguins were brought from South Korea to the Byculla zoo here in July this year and the procuring agency was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of these aquatic flightless birds for the first three months. However, one penguin died on 23 October of bacterial infection and liver dysfunction.

Meanwhile, in a fresh development, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), the central government body that regulates and oversees the functioning of zoos in the country, has written to Byculla Zoo authorities and asked for a status report on the seven remaining penguins in the zoo.

Confirming the move, Byculla Zoo director Sanjay Tripathi said, “We have received a correspondence from CZA and would submit the report soon.”

He also said that the zoo administration has not received the detailed postmortem report from the Bombay Veterinary college, and that they were following the same.

Notably, MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande had earlier written to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta demanding that the remaining seven Humboldts be immediately sent back to ensure their survival.

Humboldt Penguins can only thrive in cold climate and MNS and environmentalists had been protesting against acquiring such exotic creatures right from the beginning.

Bhai Dooj treat: Free travel for women in all DTC buses

Tue, 1 Nov 2016-09:51am , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the occasion of Bhai Dooj, the Delhi Government on Tuesday announced free travel for women and girls throughout the day on all Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses.Delhi Transport Minister Satyendar Jain announced that all AC, non-AC and cluster buses will provide free travel facility.Jain said the decision has been taken to allow women and girls to travel without any hassle throughout the day to meet their family members and celebrate Bhai Dooj. He said all necessary formalities have been completed in this regard and relevant orders issued to the concerned officials for implementation.On the day of the festival, sisters invite their brothers for a lavish meal often including their favourite dishes. The whole ceremony signifies the duty of a brother to protect his sister, as well as a sister’s blessings for her brother.

Nagpur to get international-level zoo

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After several false starts, the state government has finally set the ball rolling for the proposed international standards zoo at Gorewada in Nagpur. The largest of its kind in Maharashtra, the zoo and rescue centre will enable people to view animals in their natural habitat and boost eco-tourism.The first in India to have a night safari like in foreign countries, the zoo was first proposed in 2005 but is still in incubation stage. The state’s attempts to develop the 1,914 hectare project—which falls in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ hometurf—on public private partnership (PPP) basis had been stillborn due to lack of response from bidders. The state will now undertake work through its own kitty.However, a high-power committee under Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya has approved the project’s first phase, which includes an Indian safari, with elements like tiger, leopard, sloth bear and herbivore safaris on 145 hectare of land.”We have approved the Indian safari in the first phase and the African safari will be next,” Kshatriya said DNA. The proposal will be submitted to Fadnavis for approval.Sources from the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM), said it would cost Rs44 crore.The state government had sought Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, clearances from the Centre as the area is a reserve forest. “This is likely to come in by next month. It will take around 10 months for the safari to start once clearances are through,” claimed the official. The animal rescue and rehab centre—among India’s largest–has already started operations.”We are falling short of time. The state government had asked us to complete the work in four years but one year has already been consumed,” the official lamented.”Response from private partners in the PPP route was negligible. So, the government will construct the project through its own kitty in phases based on availability of funds,” he added.”Such projects are not financially viable for private partners due to an element of risk. Footfalls peak may peak immediately after inauguration but may decline or stabilize later,” he explained, adding that a tender for selection of a joint venture partner for the zoo had met with poor response.The zoo will come up on around 650 hectare land with the rest housing the Gorewada reserve and rescue centre.

Cyrus Mistry-Ratan Tata tussle: Investors lose Rs 51,614 cr in 3 days as shares tumble

Following the Ratan TataCyrus Mistry tussle and the sacked chairman of Tata Sons shooting off a damning letter on Tuesday to the company board, several Tata group stocks are in the dock leading to persisting weakness on the bourses over the last three sessions.

As things continue to get murkier by the day with the ousted chairman coming out in open alleging discrepancies in several group companies, investors are hastily scurrying for cover in order to trim their losses.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

At 12:30 pm, Tata stocks have fallen up to 9 percent even as the broad market remained about xxx percent.

Tata Tele Maharashtra was the biggest loser among the pack, tumbling 9.1 percent. Shares of Indian Hotels Corp dropped 5.4 percent, Tata Investment Corporation 5 percent, Tata Global Beverages 4.7 percent and Tata Sponge Iron 3.6 percent.

Among the Sensex constituents, Tata Motors fell the most, dropping 2.1 percent to Rs 518.65, even though the company has been one of the two group firms (the other is TCS) which is consistent in delivering robust earnings.

Tata Steel and TCS shares were down around a percent each at Rs 395.05 and Rs 2,376.45, respectively.

Over the last three sessions, including today’s fall, several Tata shares felt the heat, losing over 4-12 percent each.

Tata Metaliks plunged 12.6 percent in three sessions, while Indian Hotels Corp tanked 11.5 percent, Tata Motors slipped 6.7 percent and Tata Communications tumbled 6 percent.

Tata Group stock performance - OCt 27, 2016Tata Group stock performance - OCt 27, 2016

Trent, Nelco, Oriental Hotels, Rallis India, Tata Chemicals, Tata Steel and Voltas were the other laggards, dropping 3-7 percent each during the period under review.

In last three sessions, the 27 listed stocks of the group collectively lost Rs 51,614 crore in market capitalisation. Of the lot, Tata Motors took the maximum beating as investors wealth in the counter eroded by a steep Rs 30,018 crore. Other big Tata stock that bore the brunt of investor selling was TCS, which resulted in its m-cap falling by Rs 8,800 crore.

Mistry in his letter to Tata board on Wednesday had listed out group companies such as Indian Hotel, Tata Motors PV, Tata Steel Europe, Tata Power Mundra and Tata Teleservices as ‘legacy hotspots’. According to him, the fair value of the legacy hotspots would result in a write-down of Rs 118,000 crore.

According to analysts, Tata group shares may remain weak for some more time, especially after the outgoing chairman highlighted several worrying factors at several group companies, weighed down by increasing debt level and subdued business proposition.