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Govt fields senior ministers to highlight achievements, defend demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Congress chalking out a national agitation against the demonetization from next week, the government here on Thursday went all out to defend its note ban move, rolling out figures to prove that its drive to transition to a cashless economy had takers. The government fielded three senior ministers — Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Ministry of Information Technology Ravi Shakar Prasad — to put forth an optimistic picture and highlight its achievements. Countering the opposition, the ruling BJP will also launch a massive political campaign to make people aware about digital economy.Jaitley said clear results from the notes ban were now coming in, tax collections were up, so was the life insurance business, petroleum consumption, tourism and investments in mutual funds. The minister countered naysayers who predicted that demonetization would have a severely adverse effect on the economy. “What was being predicted by the critics has to have a rationale with the revenue collections. Assessments can be unreal but revenue is real,” Jaitley said, adding that “in all the categories (of indirect tax) till November 30, there has been a significant increase in tax collection.” Till December 19, the income tax collection had gone up by 14.4%, he said.Giving a breakdown of central indirect tax collection, he said that the excise duty collection went up by 43.5%, service tax by 25.7% and customs duties by 5.6%. Even on a month-on-month basis, the tax collection this November was higher, he said.Prasad said, “Now the country is functioning at such a fast pace, but if the Congress party can’t see this, then it’s their loss.” He accused the main opposition party of being “the biggest patron of the corrupt and corruption”.Similarly, at a separate press conference, Naidu said that the note withdrawal was an effective Anti–Scam Vaccine to prevent scams taking place through corruption and black money generation. Attacking the Opposition, Naidu said that those rattled by the prospect of the government going after those who made illegitimate deposits in banks and bought benami properties were making such baseless allegations. “It is a cheap tactic to dilute the public perception about the potential benefits of note withdrawal. Government will not be retracted by such diversionary tactics,” he said.He further said that note withdrawal is a part of the grand anti-corruption strategy launched by the government in pursuit of the mandate give by the people in 2014 general elections but that some vested interested were questioning the initiatives against black money and corruption.Highlighting his government’s achievements, Naidu said his scandal-free governance, effective inflation management, increased Foreign Domestic Investments, enhanced pace of infrastructure creation, stepped up economic growth rate despite adversities, financial inclusion, transparent resource allocation, increased accountability and transparency in governance, positive macroeconomic parameters were among the achievements of the government in the past few years.Giving details about the tourism sector, he said that there had been notable growth in the comparative figures of Foreign Tourists Arrival (FTA) and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) and online sale of e–tickets after demonetization. The Minister said that earnings from cashless ticketing in Railways has increased by 30% and the number of people booking reserved tickets online using credit and debit cards or online transactions was at 58% in November, but had now reached over 75%.He also said that more than 26 crore accounts were opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana as a step towards financial inclusion. The Make in India initiative ensured enhanced the partnership between the government and the industry, he said, and India’s ease of business ranking had improved from 142 to 130 in the world.Naidu said that about 3.09 crore farmers were covered under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in 2015-16 and 3.66 crores this year. He stated that over 19 lakh youth were trained in useful skills under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Under the Stand Up India scheme, Rs 500 crore had been allocated in 2016-17 budget. Over 2.5 lakh entrepreneurs had benefited from the scheme so far, Naidu said. He also said that 1.22 crore LPG connections had been provided to BPL households under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. On the soil health card scheme for farmers, he said that over 2.5 crore health cards had been distributed so far.Prasad too opined that the demonetization was a big success and said that digital payments had gone up by anywhere between 300% to 1500% following the move. At another press conference, Prasad, who is also the law minister, said that the government was taking every step to make digital payments foolproof. “We are reinforcing all cyber security walls,” Prasad said, adding that the IT ministry will come out with a detailed plan in this regard within a fortnight. Prasad further said that the government was also considering whether amendments were required in the Income-Tax Act to plug loopholes which may have provided tax evaders a legitimate way of legalising their black money.

1.5 cr free LPG connections issued to BPL households in less than 8 months

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government has achieved its target of providing 1.5 crore free cooking gas (LPG) connections to poor households in less than 8 months.The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUJ) aimed to provide 5 crore free LPG connections to BPL families in three years.The target for the first was set at 1.5 crore.The first year target has been “achieved within a span of less than 8 months and the scheme is being implemented now across 35 states/UTs,” an official statement said.A woman member of BPL family identified through Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data is given a deposit free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection.The scheme was announced in the Budget for 2016-17 with an allocation of Rs 8,000 crore for three years.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched PMUJ on May 1 from Balia in Uttar Pradesh. “14 states/UTs having LPG coverage less than the national average, hilly states of J&K, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and all North-East States are identified as priority states for implementing the scheme,” the statement said.The top five states with maximum connections are UP (46 lakh), West Bengal (19 lakh), Bihar (19 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (17 lakh) and Rajasthan (14 lakh).These states constitutes nearly 75% of the total connections released.The households belonging to SC/ST constitute large chunk of beneficiaries with 35% of the connections being released to them. “With the implementation of PMUY, the national LPG coverage has increased from 61% (as on January 1) to 70% (as on December 12, 2016),” the statement added.

Demonetization: 60 lakh depositors put Rs 7 lakh cr in banks since Nov 8, claim govt officials

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 60 lakh individuals and firms have made large deposits totalling an astonishing Rs 7 lakh crore in old notes, top government officials said on Thursday while warning that every penny of tax will be extracted as the black money does not become white by merely putting it in banks.They said the government will not hound any genuine depositor but at the same time will not hesitate in tracking all such deposits and litigating any tax evasion by a black money holder trying to convert illegal wealth.Post demonetization, unaccounted wealth holders have an option to avail of a tax evasion amnesty scheme Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and pay their dues, failing which the government’s long arms will surely catch them, they said.
ALSO READ Demonetization ordinance: Minimum Rs 10,000 fine for holding more than 10 scrapped notes, no jail term”People are thinking that money has come into the banking system and it has all become white. This is not so. We have been getting daily information of all the deposits above Rs 2 lakh, Rs 5 lakh and the number and amount deposited. We have been collating this information with past information about the each person,” a top government official said.”So, there is a huge scope for taxing now which has arisen and we do hope that people will understand that simply because they have put in bank it has become white that is not the case. We do hope that people themselves will come forward to participate in the scheme. But if they don’t, they are not going to be happy,” the official further said.
ALSO READ Post demonetization, auto sector to see sharp decline in DecemberThe tax department is armed with systems to track those with multiple banks accounts as well as those who are depositing in accounts of others and tax department will not leave anyone who is trying to evade taxes, he added. “Even if you take deposits of more than Rs 2 lakh, we have information about more then 60 lakh individuals, companies and institutions who have deposited more than Rs 7 lakh crore of money. That’s an astonishing number. We will be looking at it. For individuals the deposit figure would be Rs 3-4 lakh crore.”We do expect a lot of revenue buoyancy because of this either in this year or in subsequent years but nobody will go scot-free,” the official said.Following the demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes on November 8, the government has come out with PMGKY under which people can disclose unaccounted cash and come clean by paying 50%. Besides, the scheme provides for a mandatory deposit of 25% of such income in the zero-interest bearing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme, 2016, for four years. PMGKY commenced on December 17 and shall remain open for declarations and deposits up to March 31, 2017.

Demonetisation ordinance explained in seven points: Here’s how it will impact you

In a bid to discourage holding of old denomination currencies beyond 31 March, 2017, the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved promulgation of an ordinance to impose a penalty, including a jail term, for possession of the scrapped 500 and 1,000 rupee notes beyond a cut-off.

Any currency note issued by the government is legal tender and the RBI has a legal obligation to make payment for the amount stated on the note. However, the ordinance does away with that legal obligation on the part of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

1) If you possess banned notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations, you can only exchange it at select branches of the Reserve Bank of India.

2) If you hold over 10 notes of the banned currency after 31 March, 2017, you could be fined Rs 5,000 or worse, sent to jail for four years. If you transact in these notes, you could likely attract a penalty of Rs 5,000.

3) If you possess banned notes in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 beyond March 31, 2017, you could be fined amounts in multiples ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000. You also have to give a declaration stating why you could not submit the money in the stipulated time frame until 30 December, 2017.

4) Just in case you cannot go physically to an RBI branch to deposit the banned notes, you can still do it by sending the money through insured post. You still will have to provide the aforementioned declaration on why you could not deposit the money.

5) If you have kept banned notes in hand for souvenirs, you can keep up to 10 notes and for numismatics upto 25.

6) Any citizen who is outside the country may authorise in writing enabling another person in India to deposit the notes into a bank account. The person so authorized has to come to the bank branch with the specified bank notes, the authority letter and a valid identity proof

7) Any payment towards tax, surcharge, penalty and deposit under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) can be made in old bank notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. However, this can be done only until December 30. The PMGKY which began on 17 December, is open for declarations till 31 March, 2017

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 11:02 IST

Demonetisation: Govt allows use of old notes for tax payment under PMGKY

New Delhi: The government today allowed use of junked Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes till 30 December for paying tax on disclosures made under the tax evasion amnesty scheme.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

After the shock demonetisation of high value notes on 8 November, the government allowed the banned currency to be deposited in bank accounts.

Those with unaccounted cash were offered a chance to come clean by paying 50 percent of it as tax, penalty and surcharge, while parking an additional 25 percent in a
non-interest bearing deposit for four years.

“An opportunity has been given to the public to make the payments towards tax, penalty, cess/surcharge and deposit under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) 2016 with the old bank notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination up to December 30, 2016,” an official statement said.

Explaining the provision, an official said a holder of unaccounted cash in Rs 500/1000 notes can now deposit half of it in any of the 29 scheduled bank that are entitled to accept income tax on behalf of the government.

A quarter of the amount can be deposited in cash in the non-interest rate bearing PMGK Deposit Scheme 2016. The remaining 25 percent can then be deposited in individual bank account.

After 30 December, tax as well as the deposit will have to be made through cheque or RTGS transfer.

The government has allowed holders of the scrapped notes to deposit them in their bank accounts till 30 December. No scheduled bank will accept them after that date.

The official said the tax authorities are collating information about deposits made in banks post demonetisation and will send notices if any unaccounted income holder does not make disclosures under the amnesty scheme.

While some 3,000 tax notices have already been issued, more will be sent next month after the deposit deadline of 30 December closes.

Those whose bank deposits do not match their income would be asked to explain and offered a chance to come clean under the amnesty scheme, which closes on March 31.

Tax at the rate of 30 per cent of the undisclosed income, surcharge of 33 percent of tax and penalty of 10 percent of such income is payable besides mandatory deposit of 25 percent of the undisclosed income in the PMGK Deposit Scheme.

Income declared under the Scheme will not be included in the total income of the declarant under the Income Tax Act for any assessment year.

Not declaring the black money under the scheme now but showing it as income in the tax return form would lead to a total levy of 77.25 percent in taxes and penalty. In case the disclosure is not made either using the scheme or in return, a further 10 per cent penalty on tax will be levied followed by prosecution, he added.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 17:48 IST

Demonetisation rule change: You can make more than Rs 5,000 deposit only once per a/c before 30 Dec

The finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India have put in place new restriction on deposits of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 until 30 December in another effort to curb money laundering.

According to a finance ministry notification (read here), deposits of the demonetised notes above Rs 5,000 can be made only once until 30 December, the last date for banks to take deposits of old notes. However, there is no restrictions on depositing cash under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, a black money declaration scheme under amended taxation laws.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

“Tenders of SBNs (specified bank notes) in excess of Rs 5,000 into a bank account will be received for credit only once during the remaining period till December 30, 2016,” the RBI said in a notification to banks posted on its website.

The central bank has also said in such cases the notes will be credited to deposits “only after questioning tenderer, on record, in the presence of at least two officials of the bank, as to why this could not be deposited earlier and receiving a satisfactory explanation”.

“The explanation should be kept on record to facilitate an audit trail at a later stage. An appropriate flag also should be raised in CBS to that effect so that no more tenders are allowed,” the RBI has said.

However, banks can allow deposits of up to Rs 5,000 in value to be credited to bank accounts in the normal course until 30 December.

Moreover, if you have made deposits smaller that Rs 5,000 your account, and if such deposits taken together on cumulative basis exceed Rs 5,000 then they may still have to face the questions from the banks officials. In such cases, you may not be allowed to make more deposits thereafter until December 30.

Also deposits above Rs 5,000 shall be credited to only KYC compliant accounts and if the accounts are not KYC compliant the limit for deposits stays at RS 50,000.

However, these rules are not applicable to deposits under the Taxation and Investment Regime for the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 13:53 IST

PM Modi to launch ‘Kaushal Kendras’ tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil a clutch of skill development initiatives on Monday aimed at skilling unemployed youth and also lay the foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Skills in Kanpur. “Apart from launching 31 Kaushal Kendras which will serve as skilling centres and target mainly unemployed youth for training purposes, the Prime Minister will also inaugurate an exhibition named Kaushal Mahotsav,” a senior official in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship said.”The PM will also lay the foundation stone for the Indian Institute of Skills in Kanpur which will focus on providing industrial training,” the official added.The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is also set to enter into a strategic partnership with the leather and textiles industry in Kanpur to place one lakh youth under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Moreover, the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme will also be launched formally, the official said.The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras are state-of-the-art Model Training Centres (MTCs) which the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship intends to establish in every district of the country. The model training centres envisage to create benchmark institutions that demonstrate aspirational value for competency based skill development training.They would focus on elements of quality, sustainability and connect with stakeholders in skills delivery process. The centres will transform from a mandate driven footloose model to a sustainable institutional model.

Government opens another come-clean account

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government has offered black-money holders three more months, starting from Saturday (today). The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna (PMGKY), which was announced earlier, will formally open on Saturday and close on March 31, 2017. The Centre also created an email id –[email protected] – which can be used to report information on black money.The PMGKY will be the last chance to black-money holders to come clean, according to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sudhir Chandra.The scheme came into force with the notification of the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016, and the Taxation and Investment Regime for PMGKY, 2016, on Thursday (or Friday?)A Finance ministry note clarified that the income declared under the scheme would not be included in the total income of the declarant under the Income-Tax (I-T) Act for any assessment year. It would also not be admitted as evidence under any other Act like the Central Excise Act, Wealth Tax Act, Companies Act, etc. However, it offers no relief from criminal proceedings.Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia on Friday said that the government did not want to resort to “inspector Raj” and would prefer black money depositors to voluntarily reveal their unaccounted incomes that have found their way into the system.”We have information from FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) on how much deposits have been made in dormant accounts, Jan Dhan accounts, urban cooperative banks, and how much loan repayments have been made in cash, and RTGS transfers and also on withdrawals,” he said.The government has seized Rs 393 crore in cash and jewellery in the recent raids throughout the country.In a clear warning to tax-evaders, Adhia said: “Mere depositing of money in bank accounts do not make it white. People should not make the mistake of thinking cash deposited in bank is white”.CBDT Chairman Sudhir Chandra cautioned black-money holders that the government had its hawk eye trained on them. “Everybody should be very clear that their deposits are being monitored and we are working on this data. Therefore, they should come very very clean under this scheme, which is the last window available for any taxpayer”.Tax experts feel that the scheme could have come as a second thought by the government after its hopes of around Rs 3-4 lakh crore of the Rs 14.80 lakh crore of demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 not returning to circulation were dashed.”That expectation has turned out to be incorrect because, until two days back, Rs 12.5 lakh crore has come back as deposits in banks. Now, the government is expects the entire money will to return. If that happens, it will not benefit the country. Therefore, they are now proposing to tax the income that people may have already deposited to get some gains from demonetization,” said a tax expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity.Shailesh Kumar, Director (direct taxation, Nangia & Co), said that the scheme emphasised the government’s aim to widen its tax base. Rakesh Bhargava, Director, Taxmann, said that PMGKY is the only option left now for tax-evaders. Any detection of unaccounted income thereafter would attract tax ranging from 83.25 per cent to 137.25 per cent.How PMGKY worksBlack-money holders have been offered confidentiality and immunity from prosecution if they declare their unexplained bank deposits of banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and pay 49.90 per cent tax, surcharge and penalty (30 per cent tax on undisclosed income, 33 per cent surcharge on tax and a 10 per cent penalty on income) during the specified window.Besides the levies, the declarant would have to mandatorily put 25 per cent of the undisclosed income in the PMGKY Deposit Scheme 2016, which is interest-free and has a lock-in period of four years.Those who would miss this opportunity to come out into the open with their undeclared incomes would be liable to tax, surcharge and cess of 77.25 per cent of the income, if declared in income tax returns.And, if it went undeclared even in the tax returns then there would be a further penalty 10 per cent on tax, “followed by prosecution”.This scheme has come into force with the notification of the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 and the Taxation and Investment Regime for Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2016 (the Scheme) on Thursday.

Income tax returns: Here’s why you will be scrutinised if you have revised after 8 Nov

CBDT has issued a stern warning to income tax assesses against “drastically” altering the returns forms to revise income. This comes as it found some of the tax payers were revising their returns in the aftermath of the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

If you have revised your income tax returns after 8 November, you may need to be careful that what you have done is all kosher.

Here’s is a decoder of what the CBDT warning means for the assessees:

Why is the warning issued?

The warning comes in the wake of demonetisationThe warning comes in the wake of demonetisation

The warning comes in the wake of demonetisation

CBDT feels some taxpayers may misuse the provision to revise the returns filed by them for the earlier assessment year for manipulating income with an intention to show the current year’s undisclosed earnings in the earlier filing.

“The provision to file a revised return… has been stipulated for revising any omission or wrong statement made in the original return of income and not for resorting to make changes in the income initially declared so as to drastically alter the form, substance and quantum of the earlier disclosed income,” CBDT has said.

What exactly will attract the penal action?

A scrutiny will conducted if the department notices any manipulation in income in the previous year’s ITR (income tax return). “Any instance coming to the notice of the I-T department which reflects manipulation in the amount of income, cash-in-hand, profits etc and fudging of accounts may necessitate scrutiny of such cases so as to ascertain the correct income of the year and may also attract penalty and prosecution in appropriate cases as per provision of law,” it said.

According to Rakesh Bhargava, Director, Taxmann, a leading publisher of tax and corporate laws in India, if taxpayers misuse the provisions of revised return, the assessing officer can invoke Section 271(1)(c) to levy penalty of 100 percent to 300 percent of tax evaded. They may also be liable under provisions of Benami Act and indirect tax laws.

“The CBDT has indicated that it would focus on tax returns revised by taxpayers in order to ensure that taxpayers with unaccounted cash do not circumvent the higher tax and penalty provisions by including the unaccounted income as part of the revised tax return for a previous year,” explains Alok Agrawal, senior director, Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP.

When can you revise your returns?

Under the Section 139(5) of the I-T Act, a revised ITR can only be filed if any person who has filed a return discovers any omission or any wrong statement therein.

Bhargava of Taxmann said a return of income can be revised only if the original return contains any error or omission or wrong statement therein.

“Post demonetisation, certain taxpayers are filing revised return to declare unaccounted income disguised as current year’s income. They are advised not to do so. Rather they should use the benefit of ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana’,” he said.

With PTI

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 11:01 IST

Congress seeks CAG probe in surge in deposits of Jan Dhan accounts post demonetisation

New Delhi: With reports of surge in deposits in Jan Dhan accounts with as much as Rs 21,000 crore being parked in them following demonetisation, Congress on Thursday sought a CAG probe into the entire issue saying the country is being taken for a ride.

“This whole Jan Dhan business, I have always believed from Day 1, that there is more to it than meets the eye. We hope the CAG will do a quick inquiry into this whole Jan Dhan issue,” Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh said.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

He said, “the entire country is being taken for a ride on the Jan Dhan issue.”

Jan Dhan Accounts have seen a huge surge in deposits, with Rs 21,000 crore being parked in such accounts following demonetisation announced earlier this month, with maximum being in West Bengal and followed by Congress-ruled Karnataka.

In the last 13 days, banks have been flooded with deposits in Jan Dhan accounts that have touched Rs 21,000 crore, sources said.

On 8 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a surprise move announced demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes and since then, long queues before banks and post offices are seen to deposit or exchange these currencies.

Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal leads the pack of states which has seen the highest deposits so far followed by Karnataka.

Following the currency withdrawal, the total balance has crossed Rs 65,000 crore to Rs 66,636 crore. As of 9 November, the balance in about 25.5 crore such accounts was Rs 45,636.61 crore.

With a view to increasing banking penetration and promoting financial inclusion and with the main objective of covering all households with at least one bank account per household across the country, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna (PMJDY) was launched on August 28, 2014. Such accounts have a deposit limit of Rs 50,000.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 22:08 IST

Odisha: Maoists kill villager, set ablaze 5 vehicles

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maoists killed a villager suspecting him to be a police informer and torched as many as five vehicles engaged in a road construction work in Odisha’s Koraput district, a senior police officer said on Sunday.A group of armed Maoists stormed a camp of the construction company at Bhitarakota village under Pottangi police station on Friday and abducted some labourers and villagers, who were taken inside the dense forest, the officer said.The Maoists held a meeting inside the forest and released the villagers and labourers in the evening with threat of dire consequences if they supported road construction work. The ultras also took away the mobile SIM cards of the villagers fearing they might inform police about the incident, they said quoting a delayed report. However, the group of Maoists returned to the camp site around night and torched the vehicles and murdered one Jayaram Khillo of the village.Due to the remoteness of the area, the incident came to light only on Saturday, they said. “The Maoists slit the throat of Khillo…We have seized Maoists posters from the spot,” said Dev Gomang, Inspector In-Charge of Pottngi police station.Officials said a 10-km road under ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramya Sadak Yojana’ was under construction from Sorisopadar to Bhitarakota at an estimated cost of Rs 6 crore with around nine km stretch already completed.

Following Delhi’s pollution disaster, Maharashtra adopts policy to curb transport of fly ash

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi’s air pollution disaster a fortnight ago seems to have alerted the Maharashtra government into taking preventive measures at the earliest. On Tuesday, the state cabinet approved the State Thermal Power Plant Ash Utilisation Policy which seeks to curb transport of fly ash produced in the coal-based thermal plants and stipulates measures to utilise all coal waste at source.The government has announced cluster development of ash-based industries, such as cement, in the vicinity of all thermal power plants. The industries, in joint venture with the government, will be given land, ash and tax incentives.Maharashtra produces nearly 18 million tonnes of fly ash annually. While one-third of it remains unutilised, the rest is provided to cement companies for free. The ash transportation cost, a Rs 2,000 crore burden on the state exchequer annually, is also borne by power stations.The policy has been announced after the Centre’s directive in this regard, issued early this year. Maharashtra is the first in the country to formulate such a policy. It seeks 100% compliance by the end of 2017.Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule said, “We have already received some proposals from cement companies which are willing to purchase the coal waste.” About a third of raw material used in cement is fly ash.Fly ash can be used for making cement, pre-fabricated building material, bricks, laying roads, housing and industrial buildings, dams, flyovers, reclaiming low-lying areas, wasteland development, stowing of mines and all other construction works. The government has directed departments like Rural Development, Public Works Development, Urban development, Tribal, Social Justice and premier schemes such as Housing for All, Pradhan Mantri and Mukhya Mantri Sadak Yojna to use at least 15% ash component in their works. The coal ash can be used in the agricultural land to increase its productivity and hence agriculture department has also been roped in to promote the fly ash among farmers. With the move, the government also hopes to bring down the cost of power generation and promises to pass it on to consumers.The government has also decided to export fly ash after treating it with cenospheres, which is expected to generate revenue of Rs 1,500 crore. “There is a great demand of fly ash generated from power plants abroad,” said Bawankule. The government has decided to set-up a company — Maha Gen Management Services (MahaGeMS) — to manage the ash generated at all government-run and private thermal plants in the state. Shyam Wardhane, the director of Mining in Maharashtra, has been given additional charge of the Managing Director of the under-construction company. The company will form joint ventures with private cement companies. The contribution of Mahagenco, the state-owned power generation company, will be its land and fly ash. Other investment will be done by the private partner.If the venture is successful, it will reduce air pollution in the areas around power plants. Presently, fly ash is transported in trucks to cement plants. Many times the transporters do not pour adequate water on the fly ash and it spreads around during transportation.“The cluster of industries can be set-up within 300-kilometer radius of the thermal plant. While those setting foot within 100-kilometer radius will have to collect ash on own expenses, for those established between 100- and 300-kilometer thermal plants will share 50% of the transport burden,” said Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule.Ash content of Indian coal is approximately 30-45% while imported coals have 10-15%. A large quantity of ash is thus being generated at coal/lignite-based thermal power stations in the country, which not only requires large areas of precious land for its disposal near power plants but is also one of the sources of pollution of both air and water.

Nothing has changed in last 2 years as 400 persons die every day in road accidents: Nitin Gadkari

An average of 400 persons die every day in road accidents in India with “faulty engineering” being a major cause, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday while admitting that not much has changed even after two years of “dedicated work and sincere efforts”.Releasing a report on road accidents in India in 2015, the Minister for Road Transport and Highways said he is “deeply pained” at the findings that show 17 deaths in 57 crashes per hour and over 54% of those getting killed being in the age group of 15-34 years.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Let people criticise us but I want to make the report public. Our two years of dedicated work and sincere efforts has resulted in not much change but we are committed to changing the scenario as I cannot allow this. My heart fills with immense pain,” he said.”This magnitude was not killed in wars, epidemic and militancy,” Gadkari told reporters while releasing the report.”Human sacrifices cannot be allowed. We have taken a slew of steps in the last two years to minimise this including launch of Pradhan Mantri Sadak Suraksha Yojana and earmarking 1% of the project cost for road safety that translates to Rs 5,000 crore on it,” he added.He said though the reports lists driver’s fault for 77.1% of the road accidents in 2015, “faulty road engineering” is one of the major causes.Gadkari also sought to blame the previous government, saying that the steps taken by the “UPA regime to economise construction cost has done away with several overbridges and underpasses on many crucial roads leading to high number of accidents at several places including on Delhi-Gurgaon stretch”.He said the government is confident of bringing down road fatalities by 50% in a year’s span through massive initiatives that include decision to construct 4-lane highways where the traffic is over 10,000 pcu (passenger car unit) as against previous specification of 25,000 pcu.

‘Pro-poor’ PM Modi launches eco-friendly boats in Varanasi

Asserting that a finally a pro-poor government is in power after several successive pro-rich governments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the launch of environment friendly E-boats would empower the economically weaker section of boat operators of Varanasi.In his address after launching solar powered E-boat, Prime Minister Modi said that his government is empowering the poor so that they can battle poverty and enjoy a better future. “This government is for those who have no support,” said Prime Minister Modi.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Previous government ignored the agony of the poor and only paid heed to the grievances of the rich but we are different. Several elections have been conducted and different parties have won but nobody has paid any attention to the fact that the poor is becoming poorer,” he added.Prime Minister Modi further highlighted his ambitious banking schemes for the poor ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’, ‘Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana’ and said that his government does not make schemes to strengthen vote banks, but to strengthen the poor. “Schemes that strengthen people are more important than the schemes that strengthen vote banks,” he said.”Through Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, we asked banks to give loans without guarantee as this country is for poor, banks are for poor,” he added.Earlier, Prime Minister Modi took a ride in an e-boat at Varanasi’s Assi Ghat. These E-boats will not only reduce pollution, but will also bring down the operational costs, thereby enabling higher incomes for those who earn their livelihoods through such boats on the River Ganga. During a hectic day in his Lok Sabha constituency, Prime Minister Modi also took a ride in an e-rickshaw at a function in Varanasi’s DLW ground, where he later distributed 1,000 such rickshaws to the people.The Prime Minister even met prominent citizens of the city at the guest house of Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) and launched the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojna (PMUY) at Ballia. At the launch of PMUY, the Prime Minister said that he chose Balia to launch the scheme because the number of LPG’s connections in Uttar Pradesh is lowest in this district.

Pune housing fraud: Fresh charges of forgery levelled against builder, pre-arrest bail rejected

Troubles mounted for Maple Group Chairman Sachin Agarwal on Thursday with the police pressing fresh charges of forgery against him for allegedly misleading people into purchasing flats promising cheaper rates by wrongfully using the logo of ‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana’ and a local court rejecting his anticipatory bail.The Economic Offences Wing (EOW), probing the case, booked Agarwal and other executives of the builder firm for forgery and criminal breach of trust. “We have slapped sections 467 (forgery of valuable security) 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 409 (criminal breach of trust) of Indian Penal Code,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Deepak Sakore.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police had earlier registered a cheating case against the accused. The DCP said one of the reasons behind imposing additional charges is that Maple Group had used the logo of ‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana’ in their advertisement without permission. He said the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and PMAY have informed police that the developer did not take any formal permission before releasing the advertisement.
ALSO READ Pune flat fraud: Depositors throng Maple office for refundEarlier in the day, Additional Sessions Judge S B Kachare rejected the bail plea filed on Wednesday by Agarwal, Managing Director Naveen Agrawal and Sales Manager Priyanka Agrawal after EOW opposed it. Maple Group had recently published advertisements promising a 1-BHK flat for only Rs 5 lakh on the outskirts of the city.The ‘dubious’ advertisement carried pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Pune Guardian Minister Girish Bapat, apparently to “mislead” people into believing that the project, titled Maharashtra Housing Day, was a part of Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana (PMAY).
ALSO READ Pune flat fraud: EOW begins probe, says 20,000 buyers registeredMeanwhile, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar accused the BJP government of delaying the arrest of Agarwal. “The government is dilly dallying on the issue of arrest of (Maple Group CMD) Sachin Agarwal, accused of cheating common people. Why are police unable to apprehend him?…”Is he Dawood Ibrahim that police are not able to trace him?, he said.Seeking a thorough probe, Pawar asked, “It has been a long time, the case has been registered but why is Agarwal not traceable.”
ALSO READ Maharashtra: Cheating case against developer of Maple Group for ‘misleading’ ad of cheap housing schemePolice had said around 32,000 people had booked a flat in the low-cost housing project. The firm later started returning money to depositors after a case was registered against them following uproar.

Maharashtra: Hologram and barcode compulsory on liquor bottles

Maharashtra government on Monday made it mandatory to have a ‘track and trace’ mechanism, and hologram on liquor bottles to ensure the stuff inside is genuine.In order to know if the liquor bottle is genuine or fake, all one will need is a barcode scan from mobile phone. The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet here, chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.To root out the menace of spurious liquor, the state Excise department proposed to make it mandatory for all liquor bottles to carry a hologram and barcode with embedded covert and overt features. This will enable a “track and trace mechanism”, which will follow the journey of the beverage from the manufacturer to the final point of sale and also reveal its authenticity to consumers and officials, an official said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Retailers will have to stock special lenses so that consumers can read the covert security features on the hologram, invisible to the naked eye, and thus verify the brew’s authenticity. The hologram cannot be replicated or reused and will also reveal if the liquor is duty-evaded or smuggled, he added.Scanning the barcode will enable consumers to know when and where the liquor was manufactured and when it was sent from the distillery to the wholesaler and further to the retailer and if it is an original or a fake, he said. The move is expected to eliminate duplicate and spurious liquor.Maharashtra Cabinet also decided to implement ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna’, new crop insurance scheme in the state to boost farming sector. There will be uniform premium of 2 per cent for all Kharif crops and 1.5 per cent for all Rabi crops, and five per cent in case of annual commercial and horticultural crops.The use of technologies like smart phone, remote sensing will be encouraged in this scheme to reduce the delays on settlement of claims.

Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: AIADMK, DMK ‘fooling people’, says BJP

BJP on Sunday accused the ruling AIADMK government and DMK of doing “petty politics”, saying both the Dravidian parties presented “corruption full bad governance” and were fooling people while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has presented “corruption free good governance.” “Modiji has presented corruption free good governance but AIADMK and DMK has presented in Tamil Nadu, a corruption full bad governance. They are doing petty politics and fooling voters,” Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”AIADMK and DMK are playing smart politics, smart games here,” he said. Flaying the AIADMK government for allegedly pasting ‘amma’ stickers on a centrally sponsored scheme, Javadekar, also BJP election in-charge for Tamil Nadu, said, “in giving free rice to poor, 90 per cent is central government subsidy. 10 per cent is what state government gives. But they are putting label and calling it as Amma Free Arisi (Rice) scheme. What we are saying at least call it as Pradhan Mantri Arisi.” “Poor people get Amma Arisi free of cost that is 20 kilos under free rice scheme. What is the proof of Amma free Arisi?…Central government gives Rs 32 where as Amma (Jayalalithaa) gives Rs three and that is labelled and stickers are pasted as Amma Arisi (rice)..This kind of politics they are playing.” “It is not Amma Arisi. It is Modi Arisi. We can say it as Pradhan Mantri Arisi. We are not fond of names. But who is giving what and it must be named together…they are fooling people,” Javadekar said.Claiming that coconut growers in Tamil Nadu were not given government subsidy, he said, “I met coconut growers here and they are suffering…They are not given any subsidy. They are not allowed to tap coconut for making herbal drink.” “Government does not want poor to take healthy drink but only TASMAC (state run liquor outlets) liquor. That is what they are interested in because it is their business,” he charged.For importing palmolein from Malaysia, Javadekar claimed the state government was giving subsidy to Malaysian farmers. “…You are not helping your own farmers. Why cannot you give subsidy on coconut oil. If you give subsidy on coconut oil, poor farmers growing coconut will survive and poor person will be happy to use coconut oil than palmolein for cooking.” “So you get votes from Malaysia not from Tamil Nadu farmers,” he said.

Mumbai: School puts up water bank in premises, create squads to conserve water

To teach students about the importance of water conservation, the Vidyanidhi Educational Complex has started a water bank on their school premises. The initiative is expected to save water and spread awareness among students.Basically, at the end of the day, students pour the water left in their bottles in one of the storage drums, named the camel water storage.Std V student Laxmi Shetty said, “We store the left-over water from our water bottles in the water bank. Every child has to do this without fail before leaving the school.” Std VIII student Chirag Jadhav said, “I am a member of the squad that patrols school taps the entire day. There are 20 students in the squad, from Std V-IX. We check taps in the morning – if they are open or leaking – and also before and after recess and end of the day.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Secretary of the Vidyanidhi Educational Complex, Dr Kitida Mehta, said, “We used to pay Rs 20,000 every month to get potable water tanker for the school. Now, this initiative is not just helping to save water but also creating awareness among children.”Chairman of Vidyanidhi Educational Complex, Sanjeev Mantri, said, “This initiative is a continuation of the Clean India mission. The initiative will bring discipline among children and make them responsible citizens.””To encourage students, the school makes them take an oath every day. The students in the squad, which takes care of leaking taps, have been given badges to put on their uniforms. We also make sure the students store water from their bottles in the camel water bank and don’t throw it out while going home,” said principal Priyanka Rajani.

Suicide by farmers given low compensation is a reality: Supreme Court

It is a reality that low compensation paid to calamity-hit farmers was leading some of them to commit suicide, the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday.”This is a reality. It needs to be corrected. It’s not against one government or other government. The central government always says they are doing good things but some people are committing suicide, we all know that,” a bench headed by Justice MB Lokur said. The bench, also comprising Justice NV Ramana, made the observation while examining various aspects of relief given to drought-hit farmers during the hearing on a PIL which seeks urgent implementation of guidelines for areas hit by natural calamity.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, who refuted the allegations on behalf of the Centre, said there was no “arbitrariness” in deciding compensation for crop losses. “There is no arbitrariness and the Centre has framed guidelines for distribution of compensation to the drought-hit farmers,” she said.Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for petitioner NGO Swaraj Abhiyan alleged arbitrariness on the part of the patwaris (officials who maintain land records) in calculating the compensation for the crop loss.Psephologist and political activist Yogendra Yadav, a key functionary of the NGO, informed the court that there are instances where two brothers having adjoining land with same dimensions and having suffered similar crop loss due to a natural calamity, getting differential compensation.While one brother gets Rs 16,000 as compensation, the other gets a meager Rs 160 for the same kind of loss, he claimed.The recently-launched flagship scheme of the NDA government ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’ also came up for discussion, with the bench asking the petitioner whether it could be relevant in such a situation and whether it could be beneficial to the farmers hit by drought. Bhushan said in Chhattisgarh, a similar scheme was launched but alleged that it appeared to him as a big scam as farmers were not given the benefit.

Bureaucrats from Centre and states to get awards for implementation of PM’s pet schemes

Bureaucrats from both the Centre and states will be conferred Prime Minister’s award for excellence in implementing NDA government’s priority programmes like ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ and ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’.The awards will be presented to the officers on April 21, observed as Civil Services’ Day, for their contribution to effective implementation of the government’s key initiatives.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The central government usually gives away “Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration” on the Civil Services Day.The award, which carries a citation and cash prize, is to recognise and reward the extraordinary and innovative works done by officers of the central and state governments. All officers of central and state governments, individually or as a group or as organisations are eligible for consideration.However, from this year onwards, the civil servants will get Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Implementation of Priority Programme–Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Gramin), Swachh Vidyalaya, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Soil Health Card.Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh said it is necessary to encourage bureaucrats doing good work as the effective implementation of the government’s key initiatives by them is essential for good governance.”All programmes like Clean India Mission, especially for rural areas, Jan Dhan Yojana for financial inclusion and Clean Schools are very important to ensure welfare of common people and country. That is why bureaucrats are being encouraged to ensure their effective implementation and their good work can be awarded.”Their way of implementing these programmes can also act as guidance for other states and union territories to implement other pro-people measures,” he told PTI.Singh said the government is taking various measures to ensure maximum governance. “We are encouraging bureaucrats to try innovative ideas by use of information technology to ensure that benefits of social welfare schemes and other economic measures reach even poorest of the poor man,” the Minister said.The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Gramin) is to bring about an improvement in the general quality of life in the rural areas, by promoting cleanliness, hygiene and eliminating open defecation in rural areas.Whereas, Swachh Vidyalaya mission is aimed at ensuring separate toilets in every school for boys and girls. The objective of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is to provide weaker sections and low income groups access to various financial services like savings bank account, need based credit, remittances facility, insurance and pension.The Soil Health Card scheme is meant to give each farmer the soil nutrient status of his holding and advise him on the dosage of fertilisers, besides information on soil modification for long-term improved soil health.

No detailed road map for rural and agriculture budget implementation

A day after the Union Budget was announced in Parliament, the ministers for agriculture and for rural development championed what they called the pro-farmer and pro-poor budget without being able to specifically detail plans to implement the allocations. The Ministry for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has an allocation of Rs. 44485 crore and the Ministry of Rural Development has that of Rs. 87765 crore.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As Birender Singh, minister for rural development said, this social sector combined has received almost one and a half lakh crore, an increase from last year.Both Birender Singh, and Radha Mohan Singh, the minister for agriculture, in their respective press conferences, paid special attention to the allocation for MNREGA (Rs. 38500) and to the perceived success of the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana. Birender Singh said that the adding to the 100 working days, the government would be providing skill training to workers for their upward mobility.As he repeatedly said, the point was to bring all the facilities of a city to a village to bring about a “qualitative change and sustainable livelihood” in rural Indian lives. He said the push was to increase “production capabilities” and also strengthen the populace’s buying capacity, which in turn would strengthen the manufacturing sector, so as to make up for shrinking exports.The minister stressed on increasing the income, especially of farmers, which has to be doubled by 2022 according to the budget. The grameen sadak yojana has been allocated Rs. 19000 crore, which Radha Mohan Singh called double the amount from last year, and by 2019 the remaining “65000 eligible villages will be linked with the road”.Mohan Singh also promised 100 percent rural electrification by May 2018. Irrigation was stressed on. The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana targets 28.5 lakh hectares to be brought under irrigation with a sum of Rs 5717 crore allocated. However, as agriculturist Devender Sharma told dna, there is no such paradigm shift in this years budget.The increase in farmers’ income is a paltry sum considering it is currently only approximately Rs. 1600 a month. Double the income five years later would still be a very small amount of money. Also, “why should the farmer have to wait for five years for this increase?” asked Sharma.He added that if the solution to a farmer’s woes was to bring a city’s facilities to his village — roads through the grameen sadak yojana, irrigation through the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, electricity — then why government employees in the city being given an income increase through the Seventh Pay Commission.The problem, Sharma said, lay in lack of income security of farmers, which Jaitley spoke about in Parliament on Monday, and called a major challenge when presenting the union budget last year for 2015-16. However, Sharma said, nothing was actually happening for income security, as the budget did not even talk about Minimum Support Price (MSP), despite 50 percent profit margins over cost of production promised in the BJP’s election manifesto.

PM Modi hails Budget 2016, calls it is pro-village, pro-poor, pro-farmers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the Budget is pro-village, poor and farmers with focus on bringing about qualitative change in the country and alleviate poverty through a slew of time-bound programmes.Commenting on the Budget 2016-17, he said special attention has been paid to agriculture, village infrastructure, healthcare, employment generation and Dalit entrepreneurship.”This Budget is pro-village, pro-poor, pro-farmer. The main focus is to bringing about qualitative change in the country,” Modi said, adding “there will be a big change in the lives of common people.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the Budget has laid a roadmap to alleviate poverty in a time-bound manner.Also read: Budget 2016: Income tax slabs unchanged; relief for small tax payers, first time home buyers from Jaitley”Several steps have been taken for the farmers. The most important is Pradhan Mantri Krishi Yojana,” he said.Noting that electricity and roads are crucial for villages, the Prime Minister said by 2019, all villages of the country will be connected by roads, while all of them will be electrified by 2018.For MNREGA, there has been the biggest allocation, he said.Talking about housing, Modi said every poor man dreams of owning a house and efforts will be made to strengthen this sector to ensure that the poor people realise their dreams.At the same time, exemptions have been given to those living in rented accommodations, he noted.

PM Modi under ‘heavy influence’ of RSS: Congress

Alleging that there was “heavy influence” of the RSS on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress on Thursday said if such people were around him, he would not be able to take his projects forward.”There is a heavy influence of RSS on you. This is fine for BJP and Pracharaks, but not good for the Prime Minister. There are different medicines for different diseases. RSS has never thought about poor,” Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said while speaking on the Motion of Thanks to the President for his address.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Aapke aaju-baaju me aise log rehenge to apke projects, apki gadi kitni door tak chalegi (If such people are around you, then how will you be able to take your projects forward),” he said.
ALSO READ Budget 2016: Congress ridicules Modi government’s India growth storyModi was present in the House when Kharge was speaking.Kharge also accused the government of repackaging most schemes of the erstwhile UPA government and cutting down benefits to farmers and said there was a huge difference between the “policies and intentions” of the NDA government.Maintaining that Modi had once criticised the national rural employment scheme, Kharge said the entire world had appreciated the flagship schemes of the UPA, including the MGNREGA, the Food Security Act and the Right To Education. He said the schemes like Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Swasthya Bima Yojana, Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, Krishi Sinchai Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana were all replicas of the UPA government schemes.’Global leaders do not appreciate Modi’Drawing the attention of the House to the recent India- Africa summit held, the Congress leader said while the global leaders appreciated the role of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, there was no word of appreciation from Modi.”The country cannot function if you create an atmosphere of such hatred. History will not change whether you take Nehru’s name or not. History will be written in golden letters,” Kharge said.He said the President’s speech had failed to focus on issues afflicting women, farmers, the poor, workers, dalits and adivasis and added that there was a need to change the thought process to build a strong and far sighted India.”Aap duniya ko gumrah karte rahen, ye zyada din chalne wala nahi hai. … Sarkar ke upar se janta ka bharosa uth jata hai (You cannot mislead the world for too long … the people’s faith in your government will go),” he said.’Govt rebranding UPA projects’Taking a dig at the government, Kharge said it was “rebranding old projects with new names. Whatever the UPA Government had done in the past, you have just embraced and re-branded it.””Koyle ko sabun se dhone pe safed nahi hota. Koyla ko jalane pe he safed hota hai. Naamantar se kisi ka udhhar nahi hota, kaam karne ki avashyakta hai (Coal can’t be washed to make it white, it can only be done by burning it. By merely changing the name no one benefits. For that, work is essential),” the Congress leader said.Asking the government to refrain from accusing the opposition for stalemate in the House, he said “you need to talk to Opposition and take their suggestion. We always coopoerate, like we are cooperating for the past two days. We want functioning under democracy and want you to function democratically as well.” He strongly objected to members of BJP or its affiliates saying “we will shoot them (Goli maar denge)” and said if such is the situation, then such issues would definitely find their echo in Parliament. He also asked why BJP-ruled Gujarat was not implementing the Food Security Act.With regard to security situation, he said the government has no firm policy on how to deal with terror strikes and hence there is an atmosphere of scare in the country. Kharge said even though Modi and US President Barack Obama spoke on phone regularly, “still the US gives F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.”What happened to the black money claims, asks KhargeWith regard to efforts to bring back black money, Kharge said the BJP had promised that Rs 15 lakh would be deposited in all bank accounts within 15 days, but even after 650 days not a single penny has come.Kharge accused the government of withdrawing certain benefits given to farmers under the Accelerated Irrigation Programme of the UPA government, and instead supporting the corporates by reducing their tax rates to 25 from 30 per cent.”By reducing the tax rates, the corporates will reap a benefit of Rs 3.5 lakh crore over 4 years and (the poor) will suffer loss of about Rs 4 lakh crore,” he said.As regards dire situation concerning bad loans in the banking sector, Kharge said the UPA government had written off farm loans worth Rs 72,000 crore but the NDA government is writing off loans of corporates.With regard to the atrocities on SC and ST, Kharge said the NDA government did not implement the SC, ST Atrocities Ordinance brought in by the UPA and hence it lapsed. Later, the NDA themselves brought in the same act.”You don’t want them (SCs and STs) the chance to stand on their own feet. Whatever they (Government) say, they do not act on it,” Kharge said.

PM Modi to address farmers at Sehore Kisan Kalyan Mela today

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address farmers at a Kisan Kalyan Mela at Sehore in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, highlighting his Government’s initiatives for the development of the agriculture sector and welfare of farmers.He will also release guidelines for operationalisation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, a path-breaking scheme for crop insurance, which was approved by the Union Cabinet last month.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The scheme will come into effect from the upcoming Kharif season. It envisages a uniform premium of 2 percent to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5 percent for Rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5 percent.There is no upper limit on the Government’s subsidy for this scheme. The provision of capping the premium rate, which existed in earlier schemes, and resulted in low claims being paid to farmers, has been done away with. Farmers will get claims against the full sum insured, without any reduction.The Prime Minister will also distribute soil health cards, and crop insurance settlement claims to select beneficiaries.”Will be in Madhya Pradesh for a special programme- the Kisan Kalyan Mela, where I will interact with my farmer sisters & brothers,” tweeted Prime Minister Modi.”I look forward to releasing guidelines for operationalisation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the path breaking crop insurance scheme,” he said.”Will distribute soil health cards & crop insurance settlement claims to some farmers during the programme,” he added.

Nitish Kumar denies calling Ishrat Jahan ‘daughter of Bihar’, threatens to sue media

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today denied describing Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in an encounter in Gujarat, as a “daughter of Bihar” and threatened to sue the media for “putting words into his mouth.”

“Show me any piece of evidence that I described Ishrat Jahan as daughter of Bihar?” Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of the ‘Janata Ke Darbar Mein Mukhya Mantri’ program me.

“I have been perusing through records and news clippings to ascertain if I ever used this (describing Ishrat Jahan as a daughter of Bihar). After doing necessary ground work, I will initiate legal action against the media, electronic as well print, for putting words in my mouth to this effect,” he said.

“I am very guarded in using words and making comments on anything, and will not tolerate this of putting words in my mouth to defame me,” the Bihar Chief Minister said.

In the wake of David Coleman Headley testifying Ishrat Jahan as a terrorist, the BJP had dug Kumar’s reported old comment describing Jahan, born in Bihar, as a “daughter of Bihar” to hit out at him.

The BJP leaders have on several occasions used the narration to accuse Kumar of appeasing a particular community as part of vote bank politics.

PTI

Nitish Kumar denies calling Ishrat Jahan ‘daughter of Bihar’

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday denied describing Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in an encounter in Gujarat, as a “daughter of Bihar” and threatened to sue the media for “putting words into his mouth.””Show me any piece of evidence that I described Ishrat Jahan as daughter of Bihar?” Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of the ‘Janata Ke Darbar Mein Mukhya Mantri’ programme.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I have been perusing through records and news clippings to ascertain if I ever used this (describing Ishrat Jahan as a daughter of Bihar). After doing necessary ground work, I will initiate legal action against the media, electronic as well print, for putting words in my mouth to this effect,” he said.”I am very guarded in using words and making comments on anything, and will not tolerate this of putting words in my mouth to defame me,” the Bihar Chief Minister said.In the wake of David Coleman Headley testifying Ishrat Jahan as a terrorist, the BJP had dug Kumar’s reported old comment describing Jahan, born in Bihar, as a “daughter of Bihar” to hit out at him.The BJP leaders have on several occasions used the narration to accuse Kumar of appeasing a particular community as part of vote bank politics.

Mann Ki Baat: Here’s what PM Modi said on crop insurance scheme, Start Up India and khadi

Highlighting benefits of the just- announced Crop Insurance Scheme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said awareness about it should be spread across the country so that at least 50 percent of the farmers join it within two years.In his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’, he also pitched for continued efforts to popularise Khadi and awareness to save girl child, mentioned about the recently launched ‘Start-Up India’ programme and talked about the upcoming International Fleet Review to be held in Visakhapatnam. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi said he needs the “maximum help” from people about spreading awareness regarding the Pradhan Mantri Crop Insurance Scheme which was launched earlier this month. “In our country, a lot is said in the name of farmers. I don’t want to get involved in that debate. But farmers face a major crisis. In natural calamity, their entire effort goes waste. His one year goes waste. To give him security, only one thing comes to mind and that is crop insurance,” he said in this year’s first edition of the monthly radio programme.”In (the New Year) 2016, the central government has given a big gift to the farmers — Pradhan Mantri Crop Insurance Scheme. This scheme has been brought not for the purpose that it should be praised or the Prime Minister should be hailed,” he said.The Prime Minister said that for so many years, there has been a talk regarding crop insurance but “not more than 20-25 per cent” of the country’s farmers had been been able to benefit from such schemes. “Can we take a pledge that we should connect at least 50 per cent of the farmers to this scheme in two years? I need this help from you. Because if a farmer joins the scheme, he will get huge help during a natural calamity,” he said.Modi said this time, the scheme has got “wide acceptability because it has been made quite extensive and easy and involves use of technology. Not only this. If something happens to the crop within 15 days after harvest, even then help is assured.”Usage of technology will ensure speedy assessment and disbursement of compensation, he said. “The biggest thing is that the rate of premium has been kept so low which nobody would have imagined. The rate of premium for Kharif crop has been kept 2 per cent while for Rabi crop it is one-and-a-half per cent. “Now tell me, if any farmer is deprived of the benefits of this scheme, will he not suffer loss? I want the awareness about this scheme to spread,” he said. The Prime Minister also referred to the ‘Start-Up India’ scheme rolled out on January 16 and said it had infused new energy among the youth.He said there was a wrong notion earlier that the initiative is limited to the sophisticated area of Information Technology and now it has become clear that there are enormous opportunities under this programme in all kinds of sectors and areas, including farming.In this regard, he gave some examples of Start Up in farming sector in Sikkim which was recently declared an Organic State. He invited more examples of Start Up initiatives.In his nearly 30-minute radio broadcast, Modi also talked about cleanliness and beautification efforts being made in the country as also the upcoming South Asian games to be held in Guwahati and board examinations for Class X and XII.Referring to efforts to beautify places like railway stations, bus stands, temples, mosques, churches, besides keeping them clean, he asked people to send photos to him displaying this endeavour. He also appealed to the people to keep statues clean as a mark of respect to departed leaders.Modi also underlined the importance of duty of citizens along with their rights. He referred to the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi which was yesterday and said people should every year observe a two-minute silence at 11 AM in the memory of the country’s martyrs.Talking about popularising of Khadi regarding which he had issued an appeal in his first ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme in October 2014, the Prime Minister said more and more youths are now using Khadi products. He, once again, asked people to have at least one set of Khadi clothing as part of their wardrobe.With regard to the International Fleet Review being held from February 4 to 8 in Visakhapatnam, Modi said naval assets several countries across the world will participate in the event being hosted by India. He said the event is of major significance and importance in the maritime history.While talking about the upcoming board examinations, Modi asked the students to appear without tension or anxiety. He asked the successful students of last year to send their examples to him so that he could publicise them and the students appearing now could learn how to appear without tension.He said people can listen to the ‘Mann Ki Baat’ episodes again by giving a missed call to the number 8190881908.

Mann Ki Baat: Govt aims to bring 50% farmers under crop insurance scheme, says PM Modi

Asserting that natural calamity is the biggest disaster for the farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that his government aimed at bringing 50 percent of the farmers under the ambit of the National Crop Insurance scheme. Addressing the nation in the 16th edition of his ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme, Prime Minister Modi said, “Let us integrate as many farmers as possible with the crop insurance scheme.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Indian Government has given a wonderful gift to the farmers in 2016, i.e. ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’. Can we pledge to bring 50 percent of the farmers to the scheme in the next two years?” he added.The Union Cabinet had earlier this month approved the ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’ for farmers’ welfare. As per this scheme, there will be a uniform premium of only two percent to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5 percent for all Rabi crops. In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only five percent.The premium rates to be paid by the farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by the government to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities.The new Crop Insurance Scheme, which is in line with ‘One Nation, One Scheme’ theme, incorporates the best features of all previous schemes.

Republic Day 2016: Full text of President Pranab Mukherjee’s powerful address to the nation

On the eve of the 67th Republic Day, President Pranab Mukherjee, addressed the nation. Here’s the full text of his address: 1. On the eve of the sixty-seventh Republic Day of our nation, I extend warm greetings to all of you in India and abroad. I convey my special greetings to members of our Armed Forces, Para-military Forces and Internal Security Forces. I pay my tribute to the brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives in defending India’s territorial integrity and in upholding the rule of law.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. On twenty-sixth January 1950, our Republic was born. On this day, we gave ourselves the Constitution of India. This day saw the culmination of heroic struggle of an extraordinary generation of leaders who overcame colonialism to establish the world’s largest democracy. They pulled together India’s amazing diversity to build national unity, which has brought us so far. The enduring democratic institutions they established have given us the gift of continuity on the path of progress. India today is a rising power, a country fast emerging as a global leader in science, technology, innovation and start-ups, and whose economic success is the envy of the world.3. The year 2015 has been a year of challenges. During this year, the global economy remained subdued. Unpredictability ruled the commodity markets. Uncertainty marked the institutional responses. In such troubled environment, no one nation could be an oasis of growth. India’s economy also had to face the blowback. Weak investor sentiments led to withdrawal of funds from emerging markets including India putting pressure on the Indian rupee. Our exports suffered. Our manufacturing sector is yet to recover fully.4. In 2015, we were also denied the bounty of nature. While large parts of India were affected by severe drought, other areas reeled under devastating floods. Unusual weather conditions impacted our agricultural production. Rural employment and income levels suffered.5. We can call out these challenges because we are aware of them. There is a great virtue in acknowledging a problem and resolving to address it. India is building and implementing strategies to solve these problems. This year, with an estimated growth rate of 7.3 per cent, India is poised to become the fastest growing large economy. Contraction in global oil prices has helped maintain external sector stability and control domestic prices. Despite occasional setbacks, industrial performance this year has been strong.6. Aadhaar, with its present reach of 96 crore people, is helping in direct transfer of benefits, plugging leakages and improving transparency. Over 19 crore bank accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is the single largest exercise in the world at financial inclusion. The Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana aims to create model villages. The Digital India programme is an effort to bridge the digital divide. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana targets farmer’s welfare. Increased spending on programmes like MGNREGA is aimed at enhancing employment generation to rejuvenate the rural economy.7. The Make-in-India campaign will boost manufacturing by facilitating easy conduct of business and improving competitiveness of domestic industry. The Start-up India programme will foster innovation and encourage new-age entrepreneurship. The National Skill Development Mission envisages skilling 300 million youth by 2022.8. There will be, amongst us, occasional doubters and baiters. Let us continue to complain; to demand; to rebel. This too is a virtue of democracy. But let us also applaud what our democracy has achieved. With investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, health, education, science and technology, we are positioning ourselves well for achieving a higher growth rate which will in the next ten to fifteen years help us eliminate poverty.9. Reverence for the past is one of the essential ingredients of nationalism. Our finest inheritance, the institutions of democracy, ensure to all citizens justice, equality, and gender and economic equity. When grim instances of violence hit at these established values which are at the core of our nationhood, it is time to take note. We must guard ourselves against the forces of violence, intolerance and unreason.10. For revitalizing the forces of growth, we need reforms and progressive legislation. It is the bounden duty of the law makers to ensure that such legislation is enacted after due discussion and debate. A spirit of accommodation, cooperation and consensus-building should be the preferred mode of decision-making. Delays in decision-making and implementation can only harm the process of development.11. Peace is the primary objective of a rational consciousness as well as our moral universe. It is the foundation of civilization and a necessity for economic progress. And yet, we have never been able to answer a simple question: why does peace remain so elusive? Why has peace been so much more difficult to attain than degenerate conflict?12. As the twentieth century closed down with a remarkable revolution in science and technology, we had some reason for optimism that the twenty-first century would mark an era in which the energies of people and nations would be committed to a rising prosperity that would eliminate, for the first time, the curse of extreme poverty. That optimism has faded in the first fifteen years of this century. There is unprecedented turbulence across vast regions, with alarming increase in regional instabilities. The scourge of terrorism has reshaped war into its most barbaric manifestation. No corner can now consider itself safe from this savage monster.13. Terrorism is inspired by insane objectives, motivated by bottomless depths of hatred, instigated by puppeteers who have invested heavily in havoc through the mass murder of innocents. This is war beyond any doctrine, a cancer which must be operated out with a firm scalpel. There is no good or bad terrorism; it is pure evil.14. Nations will never agree on everything; but the challenge today is existential. Terrorists seek to undermine order by rejecting the very basis of strategic stability, which are recognized borders. If outlaws are able to unravel borders, then we are heading towards an age of chaos. There will be disputes among nations; and, as is well-known, the closer we are to a neighbour the higher the propensity for disputes. There is a civilized way to bridge disagreement; dialogue, ideally, should be a continual engagement. But we cannot discuss peace under a shower of bullets.15. We on our subcontinent have a historic opportunity to become a beacon to the world at a time of great danger. We must attempt to resolve the complex edges of our emotional and geo-political inheritance with our neighbours through a peaceful dialogue, and invest in mutual prosperity by recognizing that human beings are best defined by a humane spirit, and not their worst instincts. Our example can be its own message to a world in anxious need of amity.16. Each of us has the right to lead a healthy, happy and productive life in India. This right has been breached, especially in our cities, where pollution has reached alarming levels. Climate change has acquired real meaning with 2015 turning out to be the warmest year on record. Multiple strategies and action at various levels is necessary. Innovative solutions of urban planning, use of clean energy, and changing the mindsets of the people call for active participation of all stakeholders. Permanence of such changes can be ensured only if people own these changes.17. Love for one’s motherland is the basis of all progress. Education, with its enlightening effect, leads to human progress and prosperity. It helps us develop forces of spirit which can revive lost hopes and ignored values. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had said and I quote: “End-product of education should be a free creative man who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature” (unquote). The advent of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” demands that this free and creative man should also be able to master the velocity of change to absorb disruptions which are getting embedded in the systems and societies. An eco-system that fosters critical thinking and makes teaching intellectually stimulating is necessary. It must inspire scholarship and encourage unfettered respect for knowledge and teachers. It must instill a spirit of reverence towards women that will guide social conduct of an individual throughout his life. It must breed a culture of deep thought and create an environment of contemplation and inner peace. Through an open-minded approach to the wider spectrum of ideas emanating from within, our academic institutions must become world-class. A beginning has already been made with two Indian institutes of higher education finding place in the top two hundred in international rankings.18. The generational change has happened. Youth have moved centre-stage to take charge. March ahead with Tagore’s words from Nutan Yuger Bhore:”CHOLAAY CHOLAAY BAAJBEY JOYER BHEREE -PAAYER BEGEYI POTH KETEY JAAY, KORISH NEY AAR DERI”Move ahead, the roll of drums announce your triumphal march;With feet of glory, you shall cut out your own path;Delay not, delay not, a new age dawns.Thank you.Jai Hind!

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