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Centre releases 16th instalment of Rs 5,000 crore to states to meet GST compensation shortfall

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New Delhi [India], February 15 (ANI): The Department of Expenditure under the Ministry of Finance has released the 16th weekly instalment of Rs 5,000 crore to the States on Monday to meet the Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation shortfall.
“Out of this, an amount of Rs 4,597.16 crore has been released to 23 states and an amount of Rs 402.84 crore has been released to the three Union Territories (UT) with Legislative Assembly (Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Puducherry) who are members of the GST Council. The remaining five states, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim do not have a gap in revenue on account of GST implementation,” read the press release by the Ministry of Finance.
Till now, 86 per cent of the total estimated GST compensation shortfall has been released to the States and UTs with Legislative Assembly. Out of this, an amount of Rs 86,729.93 crore has been released to the states and an amount of Rs 8,270.07 crore has been released to the three UTs with Legislative Assembly.
The Government of India had set up a special borrowing window in October 2020 to meet the estimated shortfall of Rs 1.10 lakh crore in revenue arising on account of implementation of GST. The borrowings are being done through this window by the Government of India on behalf of the States and UTs. 16 rounds of borrowings have been completed so far starting from October 23, 2020.
The amount released this week was the 16th instalment of such funds provided to the States. The amount has been borrowed this week at an interest rate of 4.6480 per cent. So far, an amount of Rs 95,000 crore has been borrowed by the Central Government through the special borrowing window at an average interest rate of 4.7831 per cent.
In addition to providing funds through the special borrowing window to meet the shortfall in revenue on account of GST implementation, the Government of India has also granted additional borrowing permission equivalent to 0.50 per cent of Gross States Domestic Product (GSDP) to the states choosing Option-I to meet GST compensation shortfall to help them in mobilising additional financial resources. All the States have given their preference for Option-I.
Permission for borrowing the entire additional amount of Rs 1,06,830 crore (0.50 per cent of GSDP) has been granted to 28 States under this provision. (ANI)

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Harsh Vardhan inaugurates new research building ‘Desikan Bhawan’ at ICMR’s institute in Agra

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Agra (Uttar Pradesh) [India], March 6 (ANI): Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan inaugurated the new research building ‘Desikan Bhawan’ equipped with a new COVID-19 diagnostic facility at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s National Jalma Institue for Leprosy and Other Mycobacterial Diseases (NJIL-OMD) in Agra.
The building was inaugurated in the presence of Director General ICMR and Secretary, Department of Health Research, Balram Bhargava.
“The building is dedicated to the research facilities like animal experimentation, COVID-19 diagnosis, whole-genome sequencing of different mycobacterial species, and phytochemical extraction from medicinal plants for anti-Tuberculosis (TB) drug development,” read the press release by the Ministry.
The capacity of the COVID-19 diagnostic laboratory is around 1,200 samples per day. This COVID diagnostic lab is loaded with Biosafety level II cabinets, automated RNA extractors, and Real-Time PCR machines with which the diagnostic results can be reported within a day.
The minister highlighted and appreciated DG, ICMR for the work done during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to help in preventing and managing emerging infectious diseases and also the efforts towards tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment to achieve the goal of ending TB by 2025, the dream of our beloved Prime Minister.
ICMR Director-General, Balram Bhargava appreciated the work being carried out at ICMR’s NJIL-OMD in the field of mycobacterial research. The DG, ICMR also remarked that ICMR has been very robust in managing COVID-19 by an intense diagnosis of COVID-19 across the ICMR institute labs which has facilitated the prompt management of the pandemic. It is the effort of ICMR which brought the vaccine for COVID-19 with 81 per cent efficacy.
The new building is named after Institute’s first Director, Dr.K.V. Desikan, who also graced the occasion with his presence.
ICMR-National JALMA Institute for Leprosy and Other Mycobacterial Diseases, Agra was established in 1967 by the Japan Leprosy Mission for Asia (JALMA) and was handed over to the Indian Council of Medical Research in 1976. (ANI)

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Committee formed to look into cryptocurrency, may present legislative proposal based on recommendations: Anurag Thakur

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Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], March 6 (ANI): Amid reports of the rising presence of bitcoins and other forms of virtual currencies in India, Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur on Saturday said the government has formed a High-Level Inter-Ministerial Committee to look into cryptocurrency, and based on its recommendations the government may present a legislative proposal in Parliament.
“Blockchain is a new emerging technology. Cryptocurrency is a form of digital currency. I firmly believe that we must always evaluate, explore and encourage new ideas with an open mind,” said the MoS while answering a media query about cryptocurrency at an event in Punjab.
He added that a High-Level Inter-Ministerial Committee was constituted by the central government to accept cryptocurrency as a lawful and legal tender in India.
“The government would take a decision (about cryptocurrency) on the recommendations of the committee and the legislative proposal, if any, would be introduced in the Parliament following the due process. I welcome your suggestions and views on this issue,” he added.
For the unversed, Bitcoins are a part of a rising new genre of digital payments called ‘cryptocurrencies’ that work on blockchain technology with no centralised administrator.
This virtual currency emerged in the aftermath of the financial crisis and allows people to bypass banks and traditional payment processes to pay for goods and services. (ANI)

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Lack of Covid appropriate behaviour possible cause of Maharashtra case surge: Govt report

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By Sahil Pandey
New Delhi [India], March 6 (ANI): The Union Health Ministry on Saturday released a report on surge of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra which suggested that “COVID inappropriate behaviour” and enhanced aggregations due to recent gram panchayat elections, marriage season and crowded public transport are possible causes of hike in coronavirus cases in the state.
“While the exact causes of the surge are not known – since laxity in COVID behaviour is not specific to the state – the possible factors are COVID inappropriate behaviour due to lack of fear of disease, pandemic fatigue; miss outs and super spreaders; and enhanced aggregations due to recent gram panchayat elections, marriage season and opening of schools and crowded public transport,” the report said.
The Health Ministry’s COVID management assessment report also suggested that the virus is spreading to hitherto unaffected areas and most cases are asymptomatic.
It mentioned that people are not forthcoming when it comes to strictly following the quarantine norms or getting tested. “The sense is that the current wave is less virulent,” it stated.
The report also suggested that the health machinery of the state may have become lax after cases came down after September 2020.
“Some amongst the doctor fraternity – especially private – may not be counselling patients for testing or following protocols, dismissing it as flu. District/state-wise participative plan, engaging the community may yield better results rather than knee-jerk reactions. Revenue machinery needs to take full charge,” it added.
Talking about the vaccination process, the health ministry said, “the state desires that while Centre may indicate total numbers to be vaccinated, actual vaccination implementation may be left to state with more flexibility in vaccination, the inclusion of private hospitals, time flexibility, and even data management.”
Maharashtra reported 10,216 new COVID-19 cases on Friday taking total cases in the state to 21,98,399. The state had 88,883 active cases till yesterday. (ANI)

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Adityanath meets farmers’ delegation from western UP, reiterates farm laws will double farmers’ income

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Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India], March 6 (ANI): Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday met a delegation of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh at his government residence and said the new farm laws are enacted with the objective to double the income of farmers.
“The farmers will get the benefit of the new agricultural laws implemented by the central government. The farm laws have been enacted with the objective to double the income of farmers. These laws will ensure a continuous increase in farmers’ income,” Adityanath said in the meeting.
“The state government is implementing the programmes and schemes in the interests of farmers. It is a result of this that under the Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi, Uttar Pradesh has been awarded the first prize for the best performance in the country,” the CM added.
He further added that the state government is making sincere efforts for the welfare of farmers under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as farmers are government’s priority.
According to a statement by the state government, the members of the delegation said the agricultural laws implemented by the central government are farmer-friendly. These laws are an effort to empower farmers. Small and marginal farmers will get the most benefit from these laws. That is why they support these laws.
Rajendra Singh Malik, Subhash Walian Sarvekhap Minister, Rajveer Singh Malik Thambedar, Harveer Singh, Rajpal Singh, Feru Singh, Karan Singh, Sunil Kumar, Ramveer Singh, Arvind Malik, Sarveer Singh, Sarvender Singh and Dharamvir Singh were present in the delegation under the leadership of MLA Umesh Malik. (ANI)

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Foundation laying ceremony of Samata Purushottam Agrawal Cancer Hospital and Research Institute takes place in Haryana

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Hisar (Haryana) [India], March 6 (ANI): The foundation laying ceremony of Samata Purushottam Agrawal Cancer Hospital and Research Institute took place on Friday evening on Agroha medical college campus in Hisar.
Gracing the occasion of the foundation laying ceremony, Rajya Sabha MP and BJP leader DP Vats said, “This is a major achievement during the tenure of President of Agroha Medical College Steering Committee (Maharaja Agrasen Medical Education and Scientific Research Society) and former Cabinet Minister of Haryana, Savitri Jindal. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is committed to providing modern healthcare facilities to every citizen.”
Lok Sabha MP from Sirsa, Sunita Duggal was also present on the occasion and said: “Agroha Medical College has been beneficial to the Sirsa parliamentary constituency also. This cancer hospital will be very much helpful to cure people of the area.”
Co-founder and Vice-Chairperson of Ajanta Pharma Limited, Madhusudan Agrawal expressed his gratitude to the former Chairperson of the Maharaja Agrasen Medical college management, OP Jindal, and said, “With the inspiration of philanthropist and Chairperson of Ajanta Pharma Limited, Purushottam Agrawal, the 70,000 square meters land area of the new cancer hospital campus in Maharaja Agrasen Medical College, Agroha in Hisar will be operational by November 2022”.
President of Maharaja Agrasen medical college, Savitri Jindal said: “This cancer hospital is a great contribution by Purushottam Agrawal and Madhusudan Agrawal, to benefit more than 2 crore people of Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan. I am thankful to the Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar and Health Minister Anil Vij for extending their support for this noble cause.”
The director of the Maharaja Agrasen Medical College, Gitika Duggal, congratulated her team of the college and said, “The college achieved a number of milestones under the leadership of Savitri Jindal and performed well during COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Mamta and Madhusudan Agrawal Foundation have taken this major initiative with the technical support of the Tata Memorial Center. The cancer hospital will be a 50-bed modern cancer treatment and care center. The cost of construction would be about Rs 60 crores. (ANI)

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88th Mahila Battalion: CRPF women continue to inspire people across the country

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New Delhi [India], March 6 (ANI): Just weeks after Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) inducted women commandos in its anti-Naxal Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) unit, several CRPF women came forward to share their experience that continues to inspire women across the country.
“I joined as head constable in 1986. There were a lot of family woes initially but now they are proud of me,” Deputy Commandant of CRPF’s 88th Mahila battalion, Krishna told ANI.
“I have served in Naxalite areas like Bijapur and Dantewada. I did not face any sort of problem because of my gender. Women’s induction in the CoBRA unit is surely a positive step,” she said.
Another CRPF commandant, Neeraj Bala told ANI, “Out of 1200, 1100 are women here for operational duty, signal, medical and other administrative duties. They are deployed in sensitive regions such as Srinagar for counter-insurgency, Naxalite areas, and static parts.”
“I also applaud induction of women in CoBRA,” she said.
This information comes just days before the International Women’s Day celebration that is held annually on March 8.
CRPF had informed on February 6: “On the occasion of the 88th all-women battalion Raising Day, women commandos have been inducted along with the introduction of all Mahila brass band which will make CRPF the first force to have a women brass band.”
“Mahila personnel of CRPF forming the first all-women brass band will also undergo a training course to acquire the requisite skills on the musical instruments. It deserves pertinent to mention that the force already has an all-women pipe band,” CRPF said in a press release.
Taking another step towards women empowerment, the 88th Mahila battalion of CRPF has the distinction of being the first all-Mahila battalion in the world.
“CRPF has taken another step towards women empowerment by inducting women commandos on the celebrations of 88th all-women battalion. Notably, 88th Mahila Battalion of CRPF has the distinction of being the first all-Mahila battalion in the world,” the CRPF had said. (ANI)

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