Political rivals clash, scuffle in Bengal on demonetisation anniversary

Nov 8, 2017 0

Kolkata– The political temperatures soared in West Bengal on Wednesday, as rival political parties clashed and scuffled on the streets as they brought out rallies, marches, held meetings and street corners in support or against the demonetisation exercise carried out exactly a year back by the Narendra Modi-led Central government.

In Kolkata, there were clashes between the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP in south Kolkata’s Rashbehari Crossing and Central Avenue in central Kolkata.

The Congress workers came to blows with the BJP activists in Asansol of Paschin Bardhaman district.

At Rashbehari, BJP leaders started a road blockade alleging that Trinamool supporters beat up their cadres, ransacked the stage and broke chairs.

Trinamool leader and Minister of State for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya alleged that the BJP workers provoked her party activists by raising insulting slogans against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. “But we never manhandled them. There were only verbal clashes…”

But state Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee was more forthright. “The BJP started abusing and hitting our worker, who retaliated. If they use their hands on us, they should not expect to get ‘rosogollas’.”

The BJP leaders later lodged a complaint at the Tollygunge police station.

The BJP, which celebrated Wednesday as “ullas divas” and anti black money day”, brought out a rally near the Indian Airlines office on Central Avenue. Alleging that the rally was attacked by Trinamool-backed miscreants, the BJP cadres blocked Central Avenue and laid a siege outside Bowbazar police station.

As the BJP workers clashed with police, the Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed in the area.

The Congress and BJP workers fought a pitched battle at Asansol City Bus Stand. Local BJP leaders alleged that when Union Minister Babul Supriyo was addressing the workers, Congress supporters came before the stage and started a demonstration. BJP cadres physically confronted the Congressmen, sparking violence which spread to some nearby areas as well.

Chief Minister Banerjee later slammed the BJP for “indulging in violence”.

“Parties bereft of any issues resort to violence. But parties like Trinamool, who back people’s issues, come out with rallies. For the BJP, it is very difficult to gather one lakh peple. They only know hooliganism,” Banerjee told media persons at the state secretariat Nabanna.

Responding to the Trinamool chief, Supriyo challenged Banerjee to back her claim that his BJP indulged in hooliganism, adding that on the contrary, Banerjee was feeling disturbed because of his party’s rising vote share.

Trinamool brought out a series of protest marches in the city and the districts with all ministers and important leaders participating in the programmes as part of observance of “Kala Divas” (black day).

In Kolkata, the marches were led by senior Trinamool leaders like Abhishek Banerjee, Subrata Bakshi, and several ministers including Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, Firhad Hakim and Sovan Chatterjee.

The Trinamool workers sported kurtas on which were monogrammed slogans like “Modi hatao, desh bachao”, and “BJP hatao, desh bachao”.

The Left parties took out a protest march from central Kolkata’s Moulali Ram Lila Park to the Reseve Bank of India office here.

Leaders of Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, All India Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (Liberation) and Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) were among the participants.

The marchers raised slogans “against the sufferings of the common man across the country and the crisis in the Indian economy as a result of the note ban.

The Congress held as meeting close to the RBI office, where its state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury sharply criticised the Modi government for its “misconceived economic policies” like demonetisation which have aderailed’ the Indian economy.

The BJP Mahila Morcha organised a amanav bandhan’ programme in the city to show its solidarity with the demonetisation exercise. (IANS)

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Can build French-style ropeways, cable cars: Gadkari

Nov 7, 2017 0

Panaji– There is potential to build thousands of ropeways, cable cars and funicular railways in India’s hilly regions, just like in France, Union Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.

Gadkari, who was in Goa to conduct a review of all works related to major ports in the country, also said that the newly formed Indian Port Rail Corporation would be mandated with studying existing global construction and security norms for adaptation of the same in India vis-a-vis the alternative travel system projects.

“France alone has around 5,000 ropeways, cable car and funicular runway… We can undertake thousands of projects in hilly areas. Instead of using diesel, we can use electricity,” Gadkari said.

The Corporation, he said, will scout for an international organisation of repute to set up such transport systems after signing a joint venture for technology exchange.

“The most important thing is that the security norms and the construction norms in our country are not so updated. There are ropeways in some places. International codes and norms will be studied and a code will be created (for India),” Gadkari said.

“The Corporation will study codes and norms across the world and will submit it to us. We will clear it after getting approval from other departments,” he added.

Gadkari also said that in Goa, coastal hotels and resorts could be asked to construct temporary jetties, where tourists arriving from airports can be ferried to, with the help of waterways.

The Minister also said, that at the under-construction greenfield airport at Mopa plateau in north Goa, a canal should be build so that the landlocked region could be accessed by waterway and passengers could be ferried to and from the facility by boats. (IANS)

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Existing Indian ATMs to be replaced with innovative ones

Nov 7, 2017 0

Hyderabad,– Banks in India are likely to replace the existing ATMs with more innovative and multi-function machines in the next three to four months, said officials of NCR Corporation, a global leader in omni-channel solutions.

The multi-function ATMs will have innovative features like face recognition and biometrics and will facilitate customers in transferring money and depositing cash and cheques. The machines will not run out of money as the cash deposited by customers will be dispensed.

NCR, which has a 50 percent ATM market share in India, has come out with innovations like Interactive Teller ATM and EMV contactless ATM from its research and development centre in Hyderabad.

The ATM market in the country has gone down in the country post demonetization but NCR believes that with the replacement of existing ATMs, the market would return to 9 percent annual growth rate as the progression to cashless economy will be slow.

The existing ATMs were deployed 8 to 10 years ago and with the deployment of multi-function machines in metros, the existing ones will be moved to tier II and tier III cities.

The company executives shared these thoughts while announcing opening of their research and development centre in Hyderabad, its largest R&D centre outside the US.

Spread across 140,000 square feet and 1,200 employees, the software is working on innovative products and platforms for channel transformation and digital enablement.

Paul Langenbahn, Executive Vice President, NCR Software said that the R&D centre in Hyderabad would focus on the development of innovative technologies to assist customers across the industries NCR serves.

Eli Rosner, Chief Technology Officer, NCR Corporation said the centre will be developing and supporting innovative software and services that global institutions use to empower consumers through self-service applications.

Hyderabad facility is responsible for innovations including the Interactive Teller ATM, EMV contactless ATM, mobile payments solutions, retail self-checkout lanes, CRM platforms and cinema and stadium systems management solutions.

NCR’s manufacturing facility in Chennai has manufactured 200,000 ATMs since 2004. The company exports 70 percent of the machines manufactured in Chennai facility.

With about $7 billion global revenues, NCR has 30,000 employees including 3,600 in India. (IANS)

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Sanjay Dutt’s wife denies wrongdoing

Nov 6, 2017 0

Mumbai– Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s wife, named among those in the ‘Paradise Papers’ accused of parking their wealth in tax havens abroad, says all her financial dealings are above board.

Dilnashin figures among the 714 Indian links named in the ‘Paradise Papers’, said the Indian Express in a banner story done as part of a global probe carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Her spokesperson said in a statement: “As per the requirements of provisions of Income Tax Act, 1961, all the properties, company or body corporate or shares in any company are declared in the balance sheet.”

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan has been named as part of the leaks, regarding shareholding in a Bermuda company acquired before the 2004 Liberalised Remittance Scheme kicked in.

A day before the big story broke, Amitabh had penned his thoughts on being named in the Bofors scandal and the earlier Panama Papers leaks.

“Tomorrow there could be more… And the process of our cooperation shall continue,” he wrote in a blog post on Sunday.

On the Panama Papers of last year, he wrote: “We were asked for reactions, for responses, for justification or not, for replies to their investigative queries… Two instant replies were given out by us… Of denial and misuse of name. They were printed… but the questions continued.

“The fullest cooperation has been extended at all hours as dutiful citizens.. And even after, if there is any more query that needs to be addressed, we shall comply.” (IANS)

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Power ministers to meet on electrifying all households by 2018

Nov 6, 2017 0

New Delhi– Central and state Power Ministers are slated to brainstorm over how to realise the ‘Saubhagya’ scheme target of reaching electricity to all households by the end of 2018, at a two-day meeting in Bihar beginning on Friday, an official statement said here.

The conference of Power and New and Renewable Energy Ministers of states and union territories, to be held in Bihar’s Rajgir November 10-11, will be inaugurated by Union Power Minister R.K Singh, the ministry said in a statement.

The Saubhagya, or the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, aims to achieve 100 per cent electrification of households by end-2018 and was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September.

“The aim of this two-day conference is to review the implementation of various ongoing schemes/programmes and deliberate on a host of issues pertaining to power and renewable energy sectors,” said the Power Ministry statement.

The other areas to be covered at the meeting include promoting pre-paid meters, separation of power feeders in rural electrification, digital payment of bills and strategies to provide 24X7 power for all, it added.

Issues related to reforms in the power and renewable energy sectors would be taken up at the meeting.

Other areas to be covered include how to mandate charges for cross-subsidy and inter-state transmission, honouring of power purchase agreements and management of ash at thermal power plants, the statement said.

The ministers will also deliberate on the issues related to hydro power, wind energy, districts affected by left-wing extremists, rooftop solar systems and the biomass programme, it added. (IANS)

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Resist attacks on democracy: Biman Bose

Nov 3, 2017 0

Kolkata– Left Front chairman Biman Bose on Friday called upon the people to resist attacks on democracy and be prepared to lay down their lives in the struggles for life and livelihood.

Addressing a rally at the conclusion of the statewide jatha (march) brought out by the by ‘Bengal Platform of Mass Organisations’ (BPMO) pressing for a 17-point charter of demands, he said the Left workers should go to all the 40,000 villages and 126 municipalities in the state to reach their messages to the masses.

“When we started the march, we intended to reach out to all the 40,000 villages and the 126 municipalities. But it seems our work is unfinished as our message has not reached everywhere. So your responsibility has increased,” he said.

Targeting the ruling Trinamool Congress, he alleged that it has destroyed the state’s cultural ethos through its rowdyism.

“If there is an attack on democracy, you have to resist whenever any such incident happens… You have to be prepared to lay down your lives in the coming struggles for life and livelihood.”

Altogether 117 state based mass organisations including those of the Left Front, had come under the banner of BPMO which held big and numerous local level marches, culminating into rallies in the district headquarters, as also the state capital. The march started from October 22 and ended in Kolkata on Friday.

The 17-point charter of demands includes ensuring remunerative prices for farmers, digital ration cards for all, food for all, setting up of new factories to provide jobs, opening of closed factories, minimum guaranteed wages for workers in unorganised sectors, compensation to victims of ponzi scams, security for women and strenghening of ICDS and mid-day meal schemes. (IANS)

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Punjab unearths multi-crore scholarship scam

Nov 2, 2017 0

Chandigarh– A multi-crore scholarship scam involving various educational institutions has been unearthed in Punjab, a minister said here on Thursday.

Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes and Minority Welfare Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot disclosed that the scam came to light in the special audit of the ‘Post Matric Scholarship Scheme’ carried out by the department.

“Two departmental officers have been placed under suspension for scam in the academic welfare scheme, hobnobbing with the scamsters and gross negligence of duty,” he told media here.

Dharamsot said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had, on June 16, ordered the special audit of all the educational institutions of the state with regard to the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SC or OBC from 2011-12 to 2016-17.

While the special audit was still going on and would be completed by December 31, the scam had been detected in the audit done so far.

“Under the scheme for OBC, the Universal College, Dera Bassi claimed Rs 1.18 crore from the Welfare Department in the name of 311 students belonging to the OBC category which was thoroughly probed by the department resulting in the college returning the amount to the tune of Rs 1,17,62,000 to the department,” the minister said.

He said that during the course of the probe, two officials were found guilty of collaborating in the scam and indulging in gross negligence.

The Minister also revealed that during this specialised audit, Devraj Group of Colleges from Ferozepur also tried to defraud the department of Rs 4.4 crore by showing bogus students.

“This institution had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding pendency of Rs 4.40 crore with the Welfare Department. When the special audit of this institution was conducted, the claim of Rs 4.40 crore pertaining to this institution was found to be fraudulent.”

The Minister added that he has ordered registration of FIRs against both the institutions.

He said that the Finance Department has conducted the audit of 249 institutions under the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SC leading to the audit parties claiming Rs 53.76 crore amount against these institutions.

“The audit parties has calculated this objectionable amount against various educational institutions who had wrongfully claimed scholarship under the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SCs on the grounds of without acknowledgement to renewed students, without income certificate, unsigned applications by the students and in the name of drop out students,” he stated.

Dharamsot said that the department has also decided that the audit of the amount released under the Aashirwad Scheme (Shagun Scheme) during the previous five years (when the Akali Dal-BJP government was in power) would be conducted. (IANS)

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Fishermen Congress to hold ‘protest week’ against GST

Nov 2, 2017 0

New Delhi– The All India Fishermen Congress on Thursday said it will observe a “protest week” from November 21 to 26 against “faulty” implementation of GST and to press for formation of a separate fisheries ministry at the Centre.

The decision to observe protest week was taken in the first meeting of state presidents of the Fishermen Congress here on Thursday.

“The GST (Goods and Services Tax) implemented by the central government has negatively impacted fisheries sector. The government is imposing higher tax slab for fishing equipment and various fish products under GST which has caused irreparable damage to the sector,” said T.N. Prathapan, Chairman of Fishermen Congress, in a statement.

This would destroy fishing sector across the country, he said.

“All India Fishermen Congress will hold countrywide protest against ill thought out implementation of GST. As part of this ‘protest week’, fishermen will sit in protest in front of central government offices in various states,” Prathapan said.

The Fishermen Congress also underlined the need for a separate ministry for fisheries.

“A separate fisheries ministry under an independent minister in central government is inevitable to ensure the overall socio-economic development of fishermen communities in the country,” said the statement.

“This is a long-pending demand of fishermen and allied workers in the country who comprise around 10 per cent of total population. Currently, fisheries is a separate department under Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare causing lack of special care and attention,” it said. (IANS)

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Private investment can help India reduce 35% greenhouse gas emissions: IFC

Nov 2, 2017 0

New Delhi– India is on track to meet its climate targets, including reducing the greenhouse gas emissions by up to 35 per cent by 2030, by channelling trillions of dollars in private investments through a combination of policy reforms and innovative business models, a report said on Thursday.

“Developing countries like India can meet climate targets promised in the landmark Paris Agreement by catalysing trillions of dollars in private investments through a combination of smart policy reforms and innovative business models,” according to the report by International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group.

“Already, more than $1 trillion in investments are flowing into climate-related projects in these areas. But trillions more could be triggered by creating the right business conditions in emerging markets,” the report found.

The report titled ‘Creating Markets for Climate Business: An IFC Climate Investment Opportunities’ identifies seven industry sectors that can make a crucial difference in catalysing private investment – renewable energy, off-grid solar and energy storage, agribusiness, green buildings, urban transportation, water, and urban waste management.

India’s target, submitted as part of the Paris Climate Agreement, envisages a reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions intensity by up to 35 per cent by 2030. This presents the country as an attractive, and emerging market for climate business and will accelerate the market for climate-friendly solutions, it said.

“The private sector holds the key to fighting climate change. The private sector has the innovation, the financing, and the tools. We can help unlock more private sector investment, but this also requires government reforms as well as innovative business models – which together will create new markets and attract the necessary investment. This can fulfill the promise of Paris,” IFC CEO Philippe Le Houerou said.

India’s success in creating markets for solar power, estimated at more than 13 GW in capacity in 2017, has led the government to expand its National Solar Mission. The new target of 175 GW of installed solar energy by 2022 is five times the original target.

Similarly, India has now become the world’s fourth largest wind power generator, with a target to install 60GW by 2022. The government also recently announced a commitment to end the sale of gasoline-powered cars by 2030.

Additionally, India is leading the market, along with China, in grid-tied renewables with nearly half of new capacity added. The country leads the off-grid solar market, with over 3 million systems sold in 2016. It is also anticipated that rooftop solar for residential and commercial consumers, is set to grow in key emerging markets including India.

In India, IFC has invested about $1.2 billion in climate-friendly projects through direct investments, in the last five years.

“India is in the midst of a climate change revolution. It is making significant accomplishments in achieving its pledge to the Paris Agreement. IFC will continue working closely with businesses, investors, and governments to further support the goals set by the country,” Jun Zhang, IFC Country Head for India, said. (IANS)

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World Food India event expected to fetch $10 bn investment: Minister

Nov 1, 2017 0

New Delhi– The World Food India event beginning this week is expected to fetch foreign investment of $10 billion and would help in the government’s mission of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022, Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal said here on Wednesday.

“We are looking at the world collaborating with us. After the event, we expect investment of $10 billion. It will create over 10 lakh jobs. I say use foreign money for benefit of our country,” Badal said while briefing media about the November 3-5 global event.

“The government has taken several measures for welfare of farmers. However, in order to make the efforts to double farmers’ income, we need foreign investment.”

Citing the rise in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Badal said it was the right time for the food processing sector to get benefitted.

The global event that is happening for the first time in the country is expected to see delegates from over 60 countries.

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) CEO Pawan Agarwal said the authority was going to launch a ‘Food Regulatory Portal’ on Thursday, which would be a game changer for effective and transparent implementation of the food safety laws in the country.

Around 50 global CEOs are expected to attend the World Food India 2017 meet here from November 3-5.

The conference, being hosted by the Ministry of Food Processing in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), will also see the participation of over 200 international companies. (IANS)

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