Opp attacks on Govt turn stronger as Parliament concludes Budget Session


Opp attacks on Govt turn stronger as Parliament concludes Budget Session

Confrontation took place on the Insurance Amendment Bill, 2021 and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. Like the rest of the Session, there were repeated adjournments and walkouts.

Opposition attacks on the Government turned stronger as Parliament concluded its Budget Session last week, completing the entire financial business well before 31st March.

The opposition was exercised not just on financial policies; there were Bills that it wanted not passed in haste, but got no concessions from the Government . Confrontation took place on the Insurance Amendment Bill, 2021 and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. Like the rest of the Session, there were repeated adjournments and walkouts.

While the Insurance Bill sought to raise the limit of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance sector from 49 per cent to 74 per cent, the Delhi NCT Bill sought to redefine certain basic features of the original NCT governance law.

The Insurance Bill was already passed by the Rajya Sabha when the Lok Sabha considered it last week. Still, doubts were raised how the substantial increase in FDI would impact the Indian insurance domain where public sector entities had provided reliable services to their customers and large dividends to the Government.

In both Houses, the Congress recalled that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had opened FDI into the sector with a 26 per cent limit, but blocked its increase to 49 per cent when the UPA Government under Manmohan Singh proposed it. The Rajya Sabha had seen a more aggressive Opposition on the Bill, forcing several adjournments before the discussion, but the Lok Sabha allowed its passage without any difficulty.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the FDI limit revision to 49 per cent had brought Rs 26,000 crores in foreign capital for the liquidity- starved sector.

The Finance Bill discussions on Tuesday and Wednesday, in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, respectively, were more comprehensive in reviewing the performance of the economy. Quite expectedly, the steep increases in the sale prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas came under attack.

In the Rajya Sabha, Sushil Kumar Modi (BJP) responded on behalf of the Government and said those criticizing the taxation rates for petrol and diesel must know that any reduction in the rates would seriously impact the States’ income, and their developmental projects eventually. If out of Rs 100 a litre petrol, Rs 60 was the tax component; the Centre received only Rs 35, and Rs 25 went to the States’ coffers. Even out of the Central share, 42 per cent devolved on the States as per the 14th Finance Commission formula.

A former deputy chief minister of Bihar, Modi said he had long been associated with the evolution of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), and knew that the States would never accept bringing petrol and diesel under the GST purview, as this would mean a reduction in the tax rates, and an annual loss of over Rs 2 lakh crores to them in tax revenues.

Trinamul Congress members led by their leader Derek O’Brien complained of injustice towards West Bengal in the Rajya Sabha, but the finance minister replied the state government was responsible for depriving the poor farmers of the state their due under the Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme by not supplying their names to the Centre.

The toughest battle during the Budget Session was on the Delhi NCT Bill, but the Government eventually managed to get it passed. The Bill was first passed by the Lok Sabha after heated exchanges. The Government defence was the Opposition read too much in the Bill which was just removing some ambiguities in the existing law.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed much more drama, but walkouts before the voting by several regional parties made things easier for the Government. The Bill came up before the Upper House first on 23rd March but had to be deferred till the next day, after the Opposition described it as “unconstitutional” and forced four adjournments.

On the next day, too, there were two adjournments, and a discussion on the Bill remained stalled for 40 minutes. Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge this time described the Bill as dangerous, designed to deprive an elected Government of its democratic powers.

He suggested a Select Committee reference for the Bill, saying the NCT of Delhi Act was protected by Article 239AA of the Constitution, and a Constitutional amendment must also come. Sanjay Singh, member representing Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), had given a notice against the Bill but it was rejected.




Sharad Pawar admitted to Breach Candy following complaint of abdominal pain


Sharad Pawar admitted to Breach Candy following complaint of abdominal pain

All eyes set on Nandigram where Mamata Banerjee takes on her protege-turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari

All eyes are on battleground Nandigram, where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has locked horns with her protege- turned-rival Suvendu Adhikari.

The campaigning in the constituency, which will go to the polls on April 1, ended at 5 p.m. today.

The stage is all set for the voting in 30 constituencies spread across four districts on April 1. The fate of 171 candidates will be decided in the second phase by 75,94,549 voters who will exercise their franchise in 10,620 polling booths spread across the 30 constituencies, the Election Commission sources said.

All the booths where polling will be held in the second phase have been declared as “sensitive” by the EC, sources in it said.

It will deploy total 651 companies of Central Armed Police for this phase of election which will be held in Bankura (Part II), Purba Medinipur (Part II), Paschim Medinipur (Part II) and South 24 Parganas (Part I), they said.

A total of 199 companies of CAPF will be deployed in Purba Medinipur, 210 companies in Paschim Medinipur, 170 in South 24 Parganas and 72 in Bankura, the sources said.

The final day of the campaigning saw hectic canvassing for the Nandigram seat in Purba Medinipur district where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is facing BJP leader and her former follower Suvendu Adhikari.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah held roadshows with Bengal’s megastar Mithun Chakraborty in support of Adhikari in Nandigram during the day, while Banerjee, who is confined to a wheelchair following her injury which she had sustained while campaigning in the constituency, crisscrossed it addressing rallies at several venues.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah and BJP national president J P Nadda had led BJP’s campaign from the front addressing rallies at Kanthi and Nandigram and urging the electorate to vote for the saffron party to usher in ‘ashol poriborton’ (actual change) to build ‘Sonar Bangla’ (prosperous Bengal).

Modi in his rallies had attacked the TMC government and Banerjee, accusing her of “appeasement politics” and asserting that “khela shesh hobe” (game will be over).

Other star campaigners of the BJP stressed on various scams of the ruling Trinamool Congress – from the Saradha and Narada tape scam to the recent allegations over the siphoning of funds for Amphan relief and the Covid-19 pandemic.

They highlighted the achievements of the BJPled government at the Centre in their rallies and blamed the TMC government for not allowing schemes like the Ayushman Bharat, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi to be implemented in the state, where the BJP leaders claimed corruption and anarchy are prevalent.

Banerjee, who has chosen to contest from Nandigram instead of from her home seat Bhowanipore in the city, stayed put there and campaigned from her wheelchair.

The feisty politician held two back-to-back rallies in Paschim Medinipur despite the early summer heat urging people to vote for TMC so that the development work taken up there by the government continued.

Banerjee, who was accompanied by TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee attacked the Adhikary family, calling them “gaddars” (traitors) and “Mir Jafars” and asked people not to vote for them.

“Bangla wants her own daughter (Mamata). So vote for her,” Abhishek Banerjee urged in his meetings.

~With inputs from PTI~




Maharashtra’s ‘Lady Singham’ found dead, suicide note ‘accuses Sr forest officer’


Maharashtra’s ‘Lady Singham’ found dead, suicide note ‘accuses Sr forest officer’

When questioned about the tragedy, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said that a thorough probe will be conducted into the incident covering all angles and no guilty would be spared.

In a shocking incident, a 28-year-old female Range Forest Officer posted in the Melghat Tiger Reserve (MRT) in Amravati, committed suicide after alleging sexual harassment and torture at the hands of an Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, in a purported suicide note, officials said here on Friday.

The young woman RFO, (Mrs.) Dipali Chavan-Mohite, 28, shot herself at her official quarters in the Harisal village near the tiger reserve with her service revolver and succumbed on the spot, late on Thursday. Her blood-splattered body with the gun was recovered later by relatives and colleagues.

A no-nonsense and tough officer, famous as ‘Lady Singham’ for her dare-devilry against the forest mafias, Dipali’s husband Rajesh Mohite is working as a Treasury Officer in Chikhaldhara, while her mother had gone to her native Satara when she resorted to the extreme step.

Earlier Friday, Dipali’s family refused to take over her body for the last rites till the Amravati Police nabbed the accused named in her suicide note, sending shockwaves in the forestry circles across the state.

Acting swiftly, the Amravati police went after the Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) Vinod Shivkumar, who figured in Dipali’s 4-page suicide note, with an earnest plea that strict action should be taken against him so that nobody else should suffer her ordeal.

An IFS officer, Shivkumar, was detained at the Nagpur railway station when he was waiting to board a train to Bengaluru and was being brought to Amravati for further formalities.

Among other things, she has mentioned how Shivkumar, abused his position, harassed her sexually and inflicted mental trauma on her continuously since the past few months.

On several occasions in the past, Dipali had complained about Shivkumar to his senior, MTR Field Director, M.S. Reddy (IFS), who reportedly ignored her pleas and ostensibly sided with the accused DCF.

Dipali had highlighted Shivkumar’s alcoholism, using abusive or foul language at her in public and private, making advances and dropping hints to get physical.

However, as she repeatedly rebuffed him, she earned his wrath in the form of difficult assignments, punishing work schedules, abuses, and once even holding back her salary for a month.

Married in 2020 and pregnant, in early-February, Shivkumar had compelled Dipali to accompany him on a gruelling 3-day forest patrol, walking or driving hundreds of kms ignoring her maternal condition, a colleague close to her told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Consequently, upon return from the forest ordeal, she suffered a miscarriage and was in deep depression and recovered with the loving care of her single-mother Shakuntala Chavan, who rushed to Amravati from Satara, he added.

Living up to her honest and upright image, around five years ago, in her official vehicle, Dipali displayed huge courage by chasing a gang of forest smugglers which was escaping by a train to Madhya Pradesh.

At the next station she intercepted the gang trying to smuggle out over five tonnes of a valuable jungle produce ‘lac’, arrested them, seized the consignment, and brought them back to Maharashtra.

Dreaded by local mafias out to steal forest produce or poach big and small animals, Dipali was known to run after them, often alone in remote areas when they would disappear in the thick forests, said another friend Rohan Bhate.

Joining the Maharashtra government service in 2013, she had taken up cudgels against illegal encroachments in the forests for which she faced the ire of local politicians or mafia who instigated such activities for their vested interests or pecuniary gains, said Bhate.

When questioned about the tragedy, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said that a thorough probe will be conducted into the incident covering all angles and no guilty would be spared.




CAG: Serious lapses in students’ admission in Bihar med colleges


CAG: Serious lapses in students’ admission in Bihar med colleges

According to the CAG report tabled on the floor of the State assembly a couple of days back, deficient monitoring and supervision of the Department and medical institutes resulted in “irregular admission, admission on false mark-sheets, admission through fraudulent practices and irregular admission beyond sanctioned seats” in Patna Medical College, Patna and Government Ayurvedic College, Begusarai.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, empowered to audit all receipts and expenditures from the Government of India and the state governments, has noticed serious lapses in the functioning of the Bihar government in various sectors. Especially, the CAG has highlighted the pathetic tale of medical education and patient’ troubles as a result of medical equipment in government hospitals in Bihar headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar.

According to the CAG report tabled on the floor of the State assembly a couple of days back, deficient monitoring and supervision of the Department and medical institutes resulted in “irregular admission, admission on false mark-sheets, admission through fraudulent practices and irregular admission beyond sanctioned seats” in Patna Medical College, Patna and Government Ayurvedic College, Begusarai.

The report said the vacancies of physicians, AYUSH doctors, dentists and nurses per one lakh population has now ranged up to 92 percent. “Our audit found that against construction of 12 medical colleges taken up during 2006-07 to 2016-17, only two of them became functional till 2018 against the planned 61. The government of Bihar didn’t make effective efforts to increase seats of existing medical colleges,” the CAG report for the year ending on 31 March 2018 said.

The report added that the shortage of teaching and non-teaching staff in all streams of medical education has ranged from six to 56 percent and eight to 70 percent.The report also found significant deficiencies in infrastructure.

What, however, was found alarming was the severe shortage of medical equipment in five top medical colleges in the state, such as Patna Medical College, Nalanda Medical College, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, all in Patna, Government Medical College, Bettiah and Darbhanga Medical College.

The report also found excess payment/inadmissible payments to the tune of Rs78.47 crore were made towards hiring security agencies, cleaning and house-keeping purposes in at least two medical colleges.

The CAG report further stumbled upon large-scale irregularities in the execution of chief minister’s “Seven Resolves” or “Saat Nischay” scheme.

“The progress of works under Mukhya Mantri Nischaya Yojana was not satisfactory in Siwan as only 15 to 24 percent of works were completed,” the report said. It also found irregular payment of Rs3.15 crore for acquisition of land for landfill site.

The report added that road construction works valued at Rs424.67 crore were started without obtaining technical sanctions in 13 packages while an excess payment of Rs3.57 crore was made on road marking work under three packages in Road Divisions, Madhubani and excess payment of Rs99.05 lakh in Road Division Motihari and Sitamarhi.




Mufti: Dissent has been criminalised by BJP govt


Mufti: Dissent has been criminalised by BJP govt

“Whoever speaks up, ED, CBI and NIA are used against them. The nation is not running according to the Constitution of India but according to the agenda of a particular party,” she said.

PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday lashed out at the BJP government, saying that “dissent has been criminalised” in the country.

She made the remark soon after her questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money-laundering probe. She was questioned for more than five and a half hours by the probe agency in its Srinagar office.

“Whoever speaks up, ED, CBI and NIA are used against them. The nation is not running according to the Constitution of India but according to the agenda of a particular party,” she said.

“One who speaks against you (BJP government) is either booked under charges of sedition or summoned by the investigative agencies”.

The government is hounding the dissenting voices by misusing these agencies. Dissent has been criminalized in this country that is being ruled by the ED, CBI and NIA, Mehbooba alleged.




Train movement stopped at 32 locations in Punjab, Haryana


Train movement stopped at 32 locations in Punjab, Haryana

The Bharat Bandh called by SKM is being supported by representatives of various farmer organisations, trade unions, student groups, lawyer associations, political parties and state governments.

Train services were disrupted at 32 locations in Punjab and Haryana on Friday in the wake of the Bharat Bandh called by farmers on the completion of four months of their protests against the three farm laws passed by the Centre.

The Railways cancelled four Shatabdi Express trains.

Northern Railways spokesperson Deepak Kumar said, “Agitating farmers are sitting at 32 locations across Punjab and Haryana spanning Delhi, Ambala and Firozepur division affecting rail movement.”

He said that 31 trains were detained due to farmers agitation. “Four Shatabdi Express trains have been cancelled.”

On Thursday, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) said that all shops, malls, markets and commercial establishments will remain shut on Friday in view of its ‘Bharat Bandh’ call.

According to the SKM, the 12-hour bandh will be observed between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. However, ambulances and other essential services will be allowed.

The Bharat Bandh called by SKM is being supported by representatives of various farmer organisations, trade unions, student groups, lawyer associations, political parties and state governments.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at the Delhi’s borders — Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur — since November 26 last year, demanding the repeal of farm laws and ensuring MSP of their produce.




YSRCP plans to turn Vizag into capital city


YSRCP plans to turn Vizag into capital city

While reviewing the Vishakapatnam Metro Rail Project, officials said a detailed project report was being prepared for Metro between the Vizag Steel Plant and Bhogapuram where the airport was located covering about 76.9 kilometer stretch with a total of 53 stations.

After Kolkata, Visakhapatnam is all set to to be the country’s second city to run trams after Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy proposed to introduce the environment-friendly public transport system along with the much-awaited Metro in the port city which is gearing up to be the executive capital of the state.

Addressing a meeting to discuss prioritised projects for Vishakapatnam the chief minister proposed to set up both Metro and trams in order to beautify the city along with the task of providing an efficient public transport system. YSRCP has recently won the Greater Vishakapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) and claimed that it was a mandate for developing the city as an executive capital.

While reviewing the Vishakapatnam Metro Rail Project, officials said a detailed project report was being prepared for Metro between the Vizag Steel Plant and Bhogapuram where the airport was located covering about 76.9 kilometer stretch with a total of 53 stations. Proposals were also being prepared for 60.2 kilometer long tram corridor and both would cover nearly 137 km. It has been estimated that the cost for construction of Metro would be Rs 14,000 crore and another Rs 6,000 crore will be required for the tram services.

He instructed officials to start construction work for the Bhogapuram Airport, Beach Corridor Project and improve water supply by diverting from Godavari in Polavaram to Visakhapatnam through pipelines immediately and then to focus on Metro projects. The existing Visakhapatnam- Bhimili Beach Road will be expanded.




Helpline no. for Kumbh Mela launched


Helpline no. for Kumbh Mela launched

The helpline number, 1902, will remain active round the clock. By dialling the number the devotees could obtain information about traffic, Covid-19, hotels, Kumbh Mela, ‘Shahi Snan,’ and could also register complaints about missing persons and get other details.

Uttarakhand Police launched a helpline number for Kumbh Mela in Haridwar on Tuesday. The helpline number, 1902, will remain active round the clock. By dialling the number the devotees could obtain information about traffic, Covid-19, hotels, Kumbh Mela, ‘Shahi Snan,’ and could also register complaints about missing persons and get other details.

Uttarakhand Police’s Inspector General (Kumbh Mela) Sanjay Gunjyal said, “The helpline will turn helpful for the devotees visiting Har idwar for attending Kumbh Mela.”

After conducting the first Shahi Snan of the Kumbh Mela successfully on 11 March, Uttarakhand Police is all prepared for the next Shahi Snan slated for 12 April.

On 11 March, Haridwar was packed with devotees and it is estimated that about 37 lakh pilgrims took holy dip in Ganga on that day




BJP-led U’khand govt doesn’t hold any event to celebrate its 4th anniversary


BJP-led U’khand govt doesn’t hold any event to celebrate its 4th anniversary

The new Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Tirath Singh Rawat, is more in news these days for his comments on women wearing “ripped jeans” and for comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Lord Ram and Lord Krishna.

Facing a challenging situation, the BJP-led Uttarakhand government decided not to host any function to celebrate the completion of four years of its regime.The recent sudden change in the leadership of the Uttarakhand government, with Tirath Rawat replacing Trivendra Singh Rawat as Chief Minister, derailed all plans of the celebrations for this occasion. The BJP government completed four years in office in the hill state on Thursday.The new Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Tirath Singh Rawat, is more in news these days for his comments on women wearing “ripped jeans” and for comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Lord Ram and Lord Krishna.

When Trivendra Rawat was in power he had chalked out elaborate plans to celebrate the four year of the BJP government by hosting programmes in every state assembly constituency. After Tirath Rawat took charge a sudden and surprising development took place.Uttarakhand Chief Secretary Om Prakash issued a notification on 13 March, ordering cancellation of all the assembly constituency wise programmes to mark the four year completion of the BJP government in Uttarakhand. The withdrawal of programmes has provided opposition parties with a new issue and on Thursday the Aam Admi Party staged a protest march in Dehradun.Uttarakhand Congress president Pritam Singh says, “The public has lost their attachment with BJP due to their anti-people policies. There is anarchy and misery in the state. As a result, every Uttarakhand resident is ready to change the system.”

Seeking to beat the Congress, the BJP government had decided to make Gairsain the summer capital of the hill state. The projects of the central government like the all-weather road connecting the Char Dhams and Rishikesh-Karanprayag rail line project provided the BJP an edge over other political parties. But, suddenly there was a change in guard and now the BJP is struggling to provide clarification on the works done by Trivendra Rawat and actual reasons for his removal.

The people were expecting a big administrative change in the Uttarakhand government. By retaining old ministers and providing them old portfolios, Tirath Rawat has so far failed to provide any clarity on, “How is his governance different from Trivendra Singh Rawat government?” It is early to predict anything, but the new Uttarakhand CM does not seem to have started his leadership innings on a high note.




Covid spike: T’gana HC cautions govt


Covid spike: T’gana HC cautions govt

Governor seeks report on wastage of vaccine in state

Concerned over the rising number of Covid-19 cases Telangana High Court has directed the state government to restrict gatherings to just 100 people and follow ICMR guidelines strictly while governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan has sought a report from the state health department in residential schools and wastage of vaccine in the state.

The state has seen a huge spurt in cases particularly with many students and teachers of government run residential schools testing positive for the virus prompting calls from guardians to shut down schools.

The state was also asked to identify areas with high incidence of cases as containment ones. The bench headed by chief justice Hima Kohli directed the state government to perform 50,000 RT-PCR tests everyday. Petitioners cited past daily medical bulletins to prove that the government didn’t perform 50,000 tests despite the increase in Covid- 19 cases contrary to High Court’s order.

However the advocate general said health staff were involved in vaccination programme and mobile buses were being used at state borders, railway stations and bus stations to conduct tests.

According to a release from the Raj Bhavan the governor directed her officials to get report from the health department about the vaccine wastage after the state was called out for being leading the numbers among all states in this regard. She also asked for report bout the increase in the number of cases in schools and hostels and the measures taken to contain the spread. “I m concerned bout the high number of Covid- 19 positive cases in couple of residential schools. “I m worried bout the high rate of vaccine wastage in our Telangana state.




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