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NEWS AT NINE

2100 HRS.

23rd March, 2017

THE HEADLINES :-

  • Centre approves over five thousand crore rupees assistance to ten states affected by flood, drought and other natural disasters. 
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rules out farm loan waivers by the Centre but says states can utilise their own resources in this regard.
  • Government rejects opposition's allegations of rigging of EVMs in the UP assembly polls; Says such charges are an insult to public mandate.
  • Supreme Court adjourns till April 6th hearing on Ayodhya disputed structure demolition case involving BJP leader LK Advani and others.
  • Resident doctors in Maharashtra refuse to resume duties despite Bombay High Court's order and Chief Minister's assurance.
  • London Police detain 7 people in connection with yesterday's  Parliament terror attack ; Islamic State group claims responsibility of the attack.
  • Nation pays tribute to freedom fighters - Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev on their 86th martyrdom day.

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Centre today approved assistance of about five thousand 21 crore rupees to ten states affected by flood, drought and other natural disasters. These states are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Manipur, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. This was decided at a High Level Committee meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi. An official release said, four thousand 979 crore rupees are approved from National Disaster Response Fund and over 40 crore rupees from the National Rural Drinking Water Programme.

Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and senior representatives from NITI Aayog and Finance Ministry also attended the meeting.

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has ruled out farm loan waivers by the Centre but said states can utilise their own resources in this regard. He clarified that the Centre will not adopt a selective approach by helping one state. Replying to a  query in the Rajya Sabha today during a discussion on General Budget, the Minister said, Centre has its policies for agriculture sector under which it  provides interest subvention and other supports.

The Congress had demanded that the government announce a loan waiver for farmers across the country as was done by the UPA in 2006 and not just for UP where the BJP has returned to power with a thumping majority.

 Speaking on the demonetization of high value currency, the Finance Minister said, the move gave a shock to the country’s informal economy leading to expansion of the formal economy. He said, 18 lakh bank accounts have come under the scanner of Income Tax Department as there are several mismatches between the income and tax profile.

Giving details of the benefits to the economy following demonetization, Mr Jaitley said, the tax collection has gone up during November and December 2016 barring few states. He said the people have supported the demonetization. The Finance Minister said, adequate funds have been allocated for several sectors including Infrastructure, Agriculture, SC,ST sub-plans.

Mr Jaitley said, after implementation of GST, food items and other essential items will be taxed at Zero rate. He hoped that under GST regime, tax evasion will be difficult because of technological applications.

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The government has done away with the one per cent tax on cash payments of over  2 lakh rupees  for purchase of any goods or service after it banned cash dealings above that limit from 1st of April. The government in the previous  Budget had provided for the seller to collect tax at the rate of 1 per cent from the purchaser on sale in cash of any goods or offering any services exceeding 2 lakh rupees.However, in the Budget 2017-18, presented last month, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley brought in a new provision banning cash transaction above  3 lakh rupees but through an amendment the limit was lowered to two lakh rupees. To reconcile the two provisions, the tax at source on goods and services, including jewellery, has now been removed through an amendment to the Finance Bill, 2017.

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Government today outrightly rejected opposition allegations of rigging of EVMs in the recent UP assembly polls saying such charges are an insult to public mandate. Defending the use of EVMs, it said the system has brought transparency and accountability by stopping booth capturing and manipulations of the election process.  Replying to a short duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the electoral reforms, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, wondered if Central government had that much influence to rig the polls, BJP would not have lost polls in Bihar and Delhi. He questioned why opposition parties including Congress, BSP and SP did not raise fingers on EVMs when they won several elections in the past. 

Lauding the role of Election Commission for conducting free and fair polls in the country, Mr. Prasad cited several rulings of High Courts and Supreme Court dismissing apprehension about manipulation of EVMs.

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The Lok Sabha today passed the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders Amendment),Bill,2017. The bill seeks to amend the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 to modify the list of Scheduled Castes in the State of Odisha. It also seeks to amend the Constitution (Pondicherry) Scheduled Castes Order, 1964 to change name of the Union Territory from Pondicherry to Puducherry in the Order. Replying to a debate on the bill, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot said, the NDA government has taken various steps in the last three years for the welfare and upliftment of the people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Mr Gehlot also said, the BJP led government is in support of current system of reservation and it will continue.

Earlier, initiating the discussion, Mallikarjun Kharge of Congress stressed on the need for inclusion of only those communities who are deprived and disadvantaged.

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Government today said that more than 23 thousand Crore rupees have been released to states and union territories under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme for adolescent girls and Maternity Benefit Programme in last three years. This was informed by Minister of State for Women and Child Development, Krishna Raj in a written reply in Rajya Sabha. She said, her Ministry is implementing ICDS Scheme, Scheme for Adolescent Girls and Maternity Benefit Programme as direct targeted interventions to address the problem of malnutrition in the country. Under the ICDS scheme, there is a provision of supplementary nutritious food to the beneficiaries. The Minister said, malnutrition is not a direct cause of death but contributes to mortality and morbidity by reducing resistance to infections.

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The Supreme Court today asked BJP leaders L K Advani, M M Joshi and other accused in the Ayodhya disputed structure demolition case to give their written submissions and adjourned the matter for two weeks. A bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman asked all the parties in the case to file their written arguments by April 6 and posted the matter for further hearing on April 7. The court was hearing the CBI's plea against the Allahabad High Court order dropping criminal conspiracy charges against them in the case.

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Resident doctors in Maharashtra have refused to resume duties despite Bombay High Court's order and Chief Minister's assurance. Over 4000 resident doctors affiliated to Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors continue to remain on mass casual leave defying the High Court’s order asking them to resume work immediately. The Court had asked doctors to resolve their issues amicably with the government.

Backing resident doctors, the Medical Teachers' Association has also given an ultimatum to the Maharashtra government to fulfil their demands. The association has threatened mass resignation if their demands are not fulfilled within two days.

Earlier today, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had assured doctors that security across government hospitals will be enhanced at the earliest. He said, the government will proactively work towards resolving their issues. Mr. Fadnavis had even suggested setting up of apex council with government representatives and doctors who will meet every 3 months to resolve the issues in a timely manner.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked BJP MPs  from  Uttar Pradesh to extend co-operation to Adityanath Yogi  government to rid the state of backwardness. In a meeting with Parliamentarians at his residence in New Delhi today, Mr. Modi urged them to support the new government to fulfill the peoples' expectations and in establishing a corruption free government. He said, the new government has started its developmental work with full strength. During the meeting the Prime Minister Narendra Modi  is reported to have instructed MPs  to refrain from seeking favours from Chief Minister Adityanath Yogi in transfers and postings. 

BJP President Amit Shah, senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and others were also present on the occasion.

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In Uttar Pradesh, 43 persons have been arrested in different districts for their alleged involvement in cattle smuggling. Police has initiated a drive across the state against the culprits involved in cattle smuggling. Maximum 26 persons have been arrested from Agra division.

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New Delhi today said Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit's remarks on Jammu and Kashmir are not in keeping with diplomatic niceties and are tantamount to interference in India's internal affairs. In reply to a media query this evening, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said Pakistan should effectively address the challenge of terrorism emanating it, which has adversely affected peace and stability in the entire neighbourhood as well as Pakistan's relations with other countries.

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Police in London have raided 6 places and detained 7 people in connection with yesterday's Parliament attack in Britain's capital. The police made the announcement today, a day after a man rammed a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbed a police officer outside the Houses of Parliament. British Prime Minister Theresa May said, the attacker was British-born and known to the police and intelligence services. In a statement to the Commons today, Ms May said, he had been investigated some years ago over violent extremism but had been a peripheral figure. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Four people were killed and several others injured in the attack.

Meanwhile, a man has been arrested in the north Belgian city of Antwerp on suspicion of driving at a crowd. The vehicle, bearing French number plates, was driven at high speed towards Antwerp's main shopping street. There are no reports of injuries.

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Nation paid tributes to freedom fighters - Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev - on their 86th martyrdom day today. Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to the freedom fighters. On March 23, 1931, the three freedom fighters were hanged by British rulers in Lahore jail for their involvement in the killing of John Saunders.

Our correspondent reports that a number of programmes have been organised across the country, especially in Punjab to mark the day.

Different functions were organised in Punjab and Haryana to mark the martyrdom day. At some places blood donation camps were organised yesterday and today to remember the martyrs, in which hundreds of units of blood were collected for the welfare of mankind. In Ambala a wrestling competition is being held in the memory of martyrs. Youth clubs organised sports festivals at many places in which youth  articipated and took a pledge not to indulge in any such activity which is harmful to society. Jaswinder Singh AIR news Chandigarh.

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The domestic stock markets ended three days of losses, today, but the rupee weakened against the dollar. A report:

The Sensex at the Bombay Stock Exchange gained 164 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 29,332. The Sensex had lost over 480 points in the previous three sessions. The Nifty at the National Stock Exchange rose 56 points, to 9,086. At the forex market, the rupee depreciated 8 paise, to  65.52 against the dollar.Gold plunged 350 rupees, to 29,000 rupees per ten grams in Delhi. And Brent crude oil futures climbed 0.7 percent, to 50.99 dollars a barrel.  Pradeep Kumar, AIR News,

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West Bengal have entered the final of 71st Santosh Trophy football tourament.  At Bambolim, Goa, today,  they prevailed 6-5 over Mizoram via sudden death. 

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