Goa may ban exports to control rising fish prices

Oct 30, 2017 0

By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

Panaji– Faced with a shrinking catch and high prices, the Goa government may temporarily ban fish export to stabilise prices, Fisheries Minister Vinod Palienkar has said.

Speaking to IANS during the inspection of the Chapora Fort, 20 km from Panaji, Palienkar also said that subsidies for the fishing industry were not really helping to keep prices within the common man’s reach and a majority of the haul was being exported.

“We are looking to ban exports. Goans do not get much fish to eat here. There is a need for a ban,” Palienkar said.

Availability of cheap fish had been the poll plank of several political parties like the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and the Goa Forward ahead of the February 4 assembly polls.

The state is known for its seafood, which is sought after by six million plus tourists who visit the state every year.

Palienkar has also said his ministry doles out Rs 108 crore every year in subsidies to fishing trawler owners, but most of the fish caught is being diverted for exports.

“Most of the fish catch is being exported. How can we tolerate this when local Goans are not getting fish to eat and they have to shell out large sums of money to eat their fish thali at home,” he said.

“This government is thinking of cutting down the subsidy for large trawlers and the money saved will be diverted towards formation of a fisheries corporation,” Palienkar said.

Overkill of fish for exports and to cater to the hospitality industry in the tourism-oriented state as well as rising sea temperatures has resulted in a fish famine of sorts in the waters off Goa, driving prices of locally consumed staple fish through the roof.

Several marine experts have been warning the Goa government about how pollution near Goa’s river mouths and in the waters off the state’s coastline as well as over-fishing could create a fish famine in the state, which is as popular for tourism as it is for seafood.

According to fisheries department statistics, while 80,849 tonnes of sardines were caught in 2014, the catch dropped to 57,270 tonnes in 2015 — and to a mere 6,481 tonnes in 2016.

The same is the case with another staple — mackerel. In 2013, 12,994 tonnes were caught; the figure dropped to 10,308 tonnes in 2014 and further slipped to 10,876 tonnes in 2015. In 2016, just 3,908 tonnes were harvested.

Other species like the cuttle fish or the silver belly have also shown a sharp drop in haul. (IANS)

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Jet to enhance daily services between Mumbai-London

Oct 26, 2017 0

Mumbai– Airline major Jet Airways on Thursday said that it will commence a third daily non-stop service between Mumbai and London’s Heathrow airport with effect from October 29, 2017.

According to the airline, the latest frequency complements its existing operations to London from its hubs in Mumbai and Delhi.

“Our latest offering will enable us to capitalize on the demand and popularity of this sector, and together with our codeshare partners, allow us to offer convenience and seamless connectivity to travellers to 14 destinations in North America,” said Jayaraj Shanmugam, Chief Commercial Officer, Jet Airways. (IANS)


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India’s air passenger traffic to reach 478 million by 2036

Oct 25, 2017 0

New Delhi– India’s air passenger traffic is expected to reach 478 million passengers by 2036, a global airline association said on Tuesday.

According to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 20-year air passenger forecast, India will add 337 million new passengers by 2036.

“UK will fall to fifth place, surpassed by India in 2025, and Indonesia in 2030,” the forecast said.

On the global level, IATA expects 7.8 billion passengers to travel in 2036, a near doubling of the 4 billion air travellers expected to fly this year.

The association’s 20-Year Air Passenger forecast said that the prediction is based on a 3.6 per cent average compound annual growth rate (CAGR)

“All indicators lead to growing demand for global connectivity. The world needs to prepare for a doubling of passengers in the next 20 years. It’s fantastic news for innovation and prosperity, which is driven by air links. It is also a huge challenge for governments and industry to ensure we can successfully meet this essential demand,” said IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. (IANS)

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‘May the Farce be with you’, mocks Rahul at Jaitley’s growth prediction

Oct 25, 2017 0

New Delhi– Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday again mocked the government over its growth forecast, terming as a “farce” the Modi government’s statements on its economic performance.

Attaching a tweet posted on Tuesday by the Press Information Bureau, the government’s official publicity wing, which said that real GDP growth average was 7.5 per cent in the last three years, Rahul Gandhi posted: “Dear Mr. Jaitley, May the Farce be with you.” His remark was also a pun on the famous line from the “Star Wars” blockbuster movie series.

The table accompanying the PIB tweet said “IMF Forecast” said that 8.2 per cent growth was achieved in 2015-16, temporary economic slowdown was bottoming out and the GDP was projected to grow much faster in the times to come.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had on Tuesday said the Indian economy is on a strong wicket and expressed confidence in its macroeconomic fundamentals. He had also maintained that India has been the fastest growing major economy for the last three years and the government is attempting to maintain a high growth rate. (IANS)

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Strike derails government offices in Manipur

Oct 25, 2017 0

Imphal– Most government offices in Manipur were crippled on Wednesday as employees took mass Casual Leave protesting against the inordinate delay in implementing the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission.

Police arrested five employees for protesting at the Old Secretariat. The mass leave was organised by the Manipur Government Services Federation.

L. Purujit, General Secretary of the Federation, said: “Though other states had implemented the recommendations one-and-a-half years ago, the Manipur government is still fumbling. The BJP had promised before the elections that if voted to power, the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission will be implemented.”

But the Joint Administrative Council of two trade unions said they did not join the mass agitation. Directors of some departments claimed normal attendance.

Deputy Chief Minister Y. Joykumar said: “The government can’t pay the salaries as recommended by the 7th Pay Commission since it would involve over Rs 1,200 crore.”

The Manipur government has some 84,000 employees.(IANS)

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BJP to celebrate November 8 as ‘Anti-Black Money Day’

Oct 25, 2017 0

New Delhi– In a bid to counter the opposition campaign, the BJP will celebrate November 8, the day high value currencies were demonetised last year, as “Anti-Black Money Day” across the country.

Announcing the party’s decision to counter the opposition plans for observing the day as “Black Day”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said all prominent leaders, union ministers, state ministers and office bearers will participate in programmes across the country.

On November 8, the party will organise programmes highlighting all the steps the government has taken against black money. He said since the government was formed in 2014, from day one it had taken steps against black money.

“There was a parallel black money economy in the country. When the NDA government came to power (May 2014), Prime Minister Narendra Modi took steps to minimise and end it. On November 8, the BJP will celebrate ‘Anti-Black Money Day’ and mobilize people in favour of the steps taken against black money,” Jaitley told reporters here.

The special investigation team (SIT) to go into black money, which was directed by the Supreme Court in 2011 and was not acted upon by the previous UPA government, was formed by the NDA, the Finance Minister said.

He said the government also brought in laws to check black money by giving a last opportunity to those who had stashed money abroad by offering them 60 per cent for repatriating their assets.

“The account holders in Liechtenstein and HSBC have all been assessed and criminal action has been filed against them. The government has also worked internationally under the G20 framework and other fora, including an agreement with Switzerland, to get real time information on black money stashed abroad to evade tax.

“Agreements with Mauritius and Cyprus that allowed round tripping of money have been reworked.”

Jaitley also hit out at the Congress over its plans to observe the day because the demonetisation decision was “ill conceived”.

“Various account holders in banks which were illegal, cases were filed against them. Demonetisation was a big step towards it. It was a huge step for squeezing cash economy, cash-based transactions and widened the tax base. All the three steps were the positive results of demonetisation and along with GST it would make cash generation difficult.”

Apparently referring to the opposition criticism, Jaitley said it was normal for political parties which had a number of opportunities to be in power earlier not recognize that the squeeze on black money and the other steps cannot be achieved through baby steps.

The Finance Minister said the BJP would carry forward the debate by the opposition to polarize people against black money through its own campaign.

Asked whether the Prime Minister would participate in the campaign, Jaitley said the details were being worked out.

Asked about Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s remarks that demonetisation was the biggest blunder, the BJP leader said he could not recall a single significant step taken by the Congress against black money.

“They have reconciled to India living with black money. I can understand their discomfort. The Congress had adequate opportunities to be in power and I cannot recollect a single significant step that they ever took against black money. The steps taken by the NDA government are not small,” the BJP leader said.

He said the statements by the Congress and its leaders showed that they had not understood the objective behind demonetisation.

“Cash is bearer money in the system and its ownership is not known. It has an anonymous odour and anyone can use it. When cash gets deposited in banks, it gets into a lawful system. So for an entry into lawful system you are liable to pay tax. The entry into the formal system requires payment of tax and is not money laundering.”

Referring to questions about money deposited after demonetisation to convert black into white, Jaitley said mere depositing of money doesn’t make it legal. “Eighteen lakh people have been found to have deposited money disproportionate to their source of income.”

“Confiscation of money was never the objective of demonetisation. Squeezing of cash and that used by terrorists and negating counterfeit currency were the objectives of the note ban. I think once the fundamentals of the objective are understood, they (the Congress) will appreciate it better.”

The Congress led 18 opposition parties on Tuesday said they will observe November 8 as Black Day to protest against the “ill-conceived and hasty” decision of the government to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes a year ago.

Replying to another question, he said: “The government and the party feel that people are cleverer than you (Congress) and they are supporting us. This is not a one-off campaign and will continue to persist as part of the larger programme of the party.”

Replying to a question on the Congress criticism of the government’s Tuesday announcement of re-capitalisation of banks, he said: “Those who have destroyed the country are now preaching, Between 2008-12, there was indiscriminate lending by which banks were made hollow.

“It was sought to be hidden in the name of restructuring and the loans were made evergreen, hoodwinking people in the country and the world. It was a legacy that our government has inherited. By provisioning now, we want to strengthen the banks by capital adequacy under which small and medium enterprises will get required credit.”(IANS)

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Over 2 crore affordable houses to be built in three years

Oct 24, 2017 0

New Delhi–  The government said on Tuesday that a universal affordable housing scheme will give a big boost to the construction industry as 1.2 crore dwellings will be built in three years under PMAY’s urban component and another 1.02 crore units under its rural component by March 2019.

“The universal affordable housing for all will give a big boost to the construction industry,” Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa told the media in the presence of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley after a Union Cabinet meeting here.

Lavasa said 1.2 crore units under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana or PMAY (Urban) would entail an expenditure of Rs 1,85,069 crore in three years.

He said under PMAY (Gramin) 1.02 crore units would be built at a cost of Rs 1,26,795 crore by the Centre and states by March 2019. Lavasa said 51 lakh units will be built this year.

The government last month announced a new PPP (Private Public Partnership) Policy for Affordable Housing that allows extending central assistance of up to Rs 2.50 lakh per house to be built by private builders even on private land, besides opening up immense potential for private investments in affordable housing projects on government land in urban areas.

The government had launched “Housing for All” in rural areas in November 2016 under which the government proposes to provide an environment friendly and secure house to every rural household by 2022.

The government had in June 2015 given its approval for “Housing for All by 2022” for urban areas which provided for rehabilitation of slum dwellers, promotion of affordable housing for weaker sections through credit-linked subsidy and subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction or enhancement.(IANS)

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Diwali sales fail to bring cheer back to markets in Agra, Mathura

Oct 23, 2017 0

Mathura/Agra– A spurt in sales of consumer products, including cars and two-wheelers, during the five-day long Diwali festivities brought temporary cheer to markets in Agra, Mathura, Firozabad, after a prolonged subdued business environment in the post-demonetisation and GST phase.

For how long will this trend continue, ask shopkeepers of Kinari Bazar and Johri Bazar in Agra, who remain confused, uncertain and generally despondent after the multi-pronged attack on the informal sector of the economy.

“We do not think the markets after Diwali will continue to do brisk business as there is a general decline in the availability of liquid cash with all sectors. The sentiment is low, though we are expecting the marriage season to help sustain the momentum,” said Bankey Lal Maheshwari, a textile shopkeeper of the busy Johri Bazar.

The markets reported decline in sale of gift items, fire crackers and Chinese lights, tough halwai shops continued to remain swamped with demands for sweets in attractive packagings.

“Compared to previous years, our sales did not even touch 50 per cent mark for gift items this Diwali,” said Rajendra of Vidhyarthi Stores on Moti Lal Nehru road.

Estimates of sales in Agra markets ranged between Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore between Dhan Teras and Diwali. Easy loans helped boost automobile sales, helping company showrooms meet their targets.

In Mathura, the main market around the Holi Gate dazzled with lights offering a striking range of consumer products attractively displayed. “Sales however remained subdued and confined to just one day,” said Ashok Kumar, a shop keeper, near the famous Dwarkadheesh temple.

With scanty monsoon rains in the region, the vast rural hinterland is already alarmed at the prospect of poor crops.

“Money is being saved for buying diesel to run pumps and generators. We hope the winter rains will compensate but you never know,” said Mohan Choudhary of Goverdhan.

Agra has received hardly 50 per cent of its annual average rainfall. “The Yamuna river is already dry and we fear acute drinking water shortage,” said Devashish Bhattacharya of the River Connect Campaign.(IANS)

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Shipping industry lobbied UN on emissions

Oct 23, 2017 0

New Delhi– The shipping industry has aggressively lobbied the UN to obstruct climate change action for shipping, ensuring it remains the only sector in the world not currently subject to any emission reduction measures, a new research by InfluenceMap said on Monday.

The report, “Corporate capture of the UN International Maritime Organisation: How shipping lobbies to stay out of the Paris Agreement on climate”, said despite being responsible for close to three per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the shipping sector remains outside the UN Paris Agreement on climate control.

It has achieved this through corporate capture of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the UN body responsible for regulating global shipping, the report by the business lobbying watchdog said.

The report’s release coincides with a key IMO meeting on greenhouse gas emissions from ships beginning in London on Monday.

A 2015 European Parliament report estimated that shipping could be responsible for 17 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 if left unregulated, potentially jeopardising global ambitions set out under the Paris Agreement.

According to the 38-page report, the three main industry trade associations represented at the IMO are the International Chamber of Shipping, Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and World Shipping Council.

They have lobbied to delay greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures for shipping until 2023 and rejected any binding greenhouse gas emissions targets.

They have also collectively opposed ambitious energy efficiency standards and appear unsupportive of a price on carbon, it said.

The research found that at the most recent IMO environmental committee meeting 31 per cent of the nations were represented in part by direct business interests.

The IMO appears the only UN agency to allow such extensive corporate representation in the policy making process.

The shipping industry is highly fragmented with most shipping operators privately owned, with a particularly large concentration domiciled in Greece, it said.

The individual companies are largely silent on climate risk and their positions on climate regulation.

They prefer to allow their IMO-focused lobbying to be done by the powerful International Chamber of Shipping, BIMCO and World Shipping Council, all of whom oppose any binding greenhouse gas regulation in the sector.

The report praised AP Moller-Maersk as one of the only shipping companies to have a transparent – and relatively ambitious – position on climate policy. Some Scandinavian ship owners associations also support stronger action.

Climate advocates say the shipping industry is not up to speed with the 2015 Paris Agreement goal to hold global warming “well below 2 degrees Celsius”.

Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief and founder of Mission 2020, said: “The Paris Agreement committed the world to ambitious action on climate change, yet the shipping industry is not up to speed.”

“It’s time to raise the anchor and seize the opportunity between now and 2020 to align with other industries and chart the course to well below 2C pathway,” Figueres said. (IANS)

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SC refuses bail to Unitech’s Sanjay Chandra

Oct 23, 2017 0

New Delhi– The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a bail plea by Unitech’s Sanjay Chandra and asked the real estate major to deposit Rs 1,000 crore to prove its bona fides.

Refusing the bail plea, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud suggested that partially completed flats of the real estate major in its 64 projects across the country be auctioned.

The suggestion came after senior counsel Ranjit Kumar told the court that the company could sell these flats to raise money to refund the aggrieved flat buyers.

At the outset of the hearing, amicus curiae Pawanshri Agrawal told the court that Rs 1,865 crore was needed to pay the flat buyers who want refunds.

Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Unitech Limited, urged that Chandra be granted bail for four to five weeks, adding that he would, during this period, submit plans for raising the refund money.

He argued that Chandra cannot raise the money required both for refunds and completing the ongoing projects without coming out of jail.

He also urged the court to impose any stringent condition for his release.

Assuring that the Unitech top honcho wanted to pay everyone seeking a refund, his counsel sought appointment of a committee of judges to monitor refunds and handing over of flats who opted for the same.

Chandra and his brother Ajay were arrested in April after investors, who did not get flats in the company projects as promised, filed complaints of cheating against them.

They were sent in judicial custody after the trial court refused to extend the three- month interim bail granted to them in April.

The Delhi High Court too refused to extend the interim bail that ended on August 10. (IANS)

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