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Govt should have given relief of Rs 12-14 on petrol, diesel, says former Petroleum Secretary

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New Delhi [India], February 15 (ANI): As the fuel prices continued its upward spiral, SC Mishra, former Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas said the economic situation has improved since 2020 and the central government should have given a relief of Rs 12 per litre on petrol and Rs 14 per litre on diesel to the common man.
Mishra underlined the fact that the government had raised the taxes on petrol by Rs 12 per litre and on diesel Rs 14 per litre, twice in March and May 2020, to garner extra revenue.
Adding to this, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman levied an additional agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess (AIDC) of Rs 2.5 per litre on petrol and Rs 4 per litre on diesel in the Union Budget presented on February 1.
Talking to ANI, Mishra said the government finds fuel an easy commodity to tax.
“Both state governments and central government are quite happy to tax fuel and raise revenues for their various activities. I was, of course, expecting that the increase in tax, which was imposed by the central government in months of March and May, when the crude prices had come down, would be removed once things are normalised. Now that the crude prices have gone up to the earlier position of USD 60 per barrel, the government would have given a relief of Rs 12 per litre on petrol and Rs 14 per litre on diesel,” he said.
The former Secretary said since the state taxes are also levied there should have been some decrease in the state taxes also.
“So, the net benefit to the consumer would have been in the range of about Rs 15. But unfortunately, the Government of India, maybe due to their own considerations of raising other revenue sources, they have continued to have high taxes on petrol and diesel,” he stated.
Elaborating about the taxes levied on petrol and diesel, Mishra said the actual refinery rate price for petrol or diesel is between Rs 30 to Rs 31 per litre.
“The tax by Government of India on petrol is about Rs 33 per litre and diesel by about Rs 32 per litre. On top of it, there is Rs 2.5 per litre dealer commission for diesel and Rs 3.5 per litre on petrol. Adding all these prices state governments also imposed their Value Added Tax (VAT), which is in percentage terms and varies from Rs 15 to Rs 25 per litre,” said the former secretary.
So, being a commodity, which is available internationally at about Rs 30 to Rs 32 per litre, Mishra said Indians are paying for it between Rs 80 to Rs 90 per litre.
He added that the effective rate of tax comes to about 150 per cent to 200 per cent on both petrol and diesel.
“This is one commodity, which all finance ministers love to tax. This is a tax, which is very easy to collect. There is no charge of collection, there is hardly any leakage, and consumption is not decreasing because this is an essential item for a developing economy. You need to consume more and more energy resources,” Mishra said.
Talking about LPG and kerosene, Mishra said earlier there was no tax on these commodities.
“I think the position may be the same or they may tax, but not much. The reason that the prices are going up for LPG is that LPG production in India is not adequate and we are importing fairly large quantities. I think the government can take a look at it and organise a price control on LPG,” he said.
Mishra said central and state governments will not bring LPG under GST contrary to “whatever they might be saying in public”.
“The economic situation and budget situation of states and Centre, is such that they are unlikely to bring LPG under GST in the near future,” he said.
Notably, the Centre in May 2020 has raised excise duties by Rs 10 per litre on petrol and Rs 13 per litre on diesel.
Mishra said the duty increase has not led to a fuel price change for retail consumers.
Earlier on March 14, 2020, excise duty on petrol and diesel was hiked by Rs 3 per litre. An additional Re 1 per litre was also levied on both petrol and diesel under the road and infrastructure cess. The government roughly gets Rs 13,000-14,000 crore annually on every rupee hike in excise duty. (ANI)

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MK Stalin pays floral tribute to former chief ministers M Karunanidhi, CN Annadurai

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Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], March 1 (ANI): Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president MK Stalin on his birthday on Monday paid floral tribute to his father and former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s at his memorial in Chennai.
He also paid tribute to party founder and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, CN Annadurai at Anna Memorial.
On Sunday, Stalin formally expressed his willingness to the party to contest from the Kolathur constituency in the Tamil Nadu Assembly election.
At DMK party headquarters in Arivalayam, Stalin submitted a formal letter to the party’s election committee expressing his willingness to contest from the Kolathur constituency in the upcoming State Assembly elections.
If this happens, then it will be the third consecutive time that he will be contesting from the same constituency.
The 234-members Tamil Nadu assembly elections will be held in a single phase on April 6 and the counting of votes will be done on May 2.
Ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is contesting the polls in a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). DMK has joined hands with Congress. This time actor-turned-politician Kamal Hassan’s party Makkal Neethi Maiam (MNM) is also in the fray. (ANI)

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Mehul Choksi is Antiguan citizen, his citizenship has not been revoked, says his advocate

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Denying media reports regarding the revocation of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi’s citizenship by an Antiguan civil court, his advocate Vijay Aggarwal told ANI that Choksi is still very much an Antiguan citizen and his citizenship has not been revoked.
“My client Mehul Choksi has clarified that he is very much an Antiguan citizen. His citizenship has not been revoked,” Aggarwal told ANI.
According to a media report, Choksi is currently fighting revocation of his citizenship in an Antiguan civil court as Antigua cancelled his citizenship sometime last year.
The report added that as soon as Choksi exhausts his appeal against the revocation of citizenship order, his extradition proceedings will begin as Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne has already assured India of sending him back.
Earlier, Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne had said, the citizenship of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, an accused in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank scam, will be revoked and he will be extradited to India once all his legal options are exhausted.
Choksi, 61-year-old is an Indian-born businessman, residing in Antigua and Barbuda and wanted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Earlier, Choksi in an interview to ANI, had claimed that he is innocent and all allegations against him are false, baseless and motivated by political expediency.
Choksi holds Antiguan citizenship and is the owner of Gitanjali Group, a retail jewellery company. An arrest warrant for Choksi has been issued in connection with the alleged Punjab National Bank fraud case. He was allegedly involved in stock market manipulation in 2013.
Recently Nirav Modi, nephew of Choksi was ordered to be extradited to India from the United Kingdom to face charges of conspiring to defraud PNB of more than a billion dollars, a UK judge ruled. (ANI)

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SIT to probe Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar murder case

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been constituted to probe Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar case where a woman was stabbed to death by a chain snatcher while resisting the robbery, said DCP Northwest Usha Rangnani on Sunday.
“Special investigation team has been set up for speedy probe that will be monitored by me,” said DCP Northwest.
Earlier, the DCP of Northwest Usha Rangnani had informed that ten police teams have been constituted to probe the case.
The Delhi Police have arrested two persons in connection with a case.
According to the police, a 25-year-old woman was stabbed to death by a snatcher for resisting a robbery bid in the Adarsh Nagar area of the national capital.
The woman was stabbed to death in north-west Delhi’s Adarsh Nagar while trying to resist a snatching bid. She was coming home from a market and was holding her child when the incident occurred. (ANI)

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Kumbh 2021: Northern Railways prepares for surge in passengers at Haridwar

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Haridwar (Uttarakhand) [India], March 1 (ANI): With passenger traffic at Hardiwar station expected to go up from March 11, the Northern Railways has built four different colour-coded enclosures for passengers to book tickets to various destinations.
“There might be a surge in passengers coming to Haridwar from March 11. We have put four colour-coded enclosures based on the passenger’s destination at Haridwar station. We have made reserved ticket windows inside enclosures,” said Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Northern Railway Uttarakhand.
A centralised hi-tech control room has also been set up by Indian Railways at Haridwar railway station ahead of Kumbh 2021.
The preparations are underway for Kumbh to be held from 1st to 30th April in Haridwar.
The Uttarakhand government has decided to limit the Kumbh this year to 30 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officers in charge of the Kumbh said that those who attend the religious congregation should do prior registration at a portal and should have a COVID-19 negative report.
Kumbh is not only a religious pilgrimage, but one of the largest mass gatherings at one place. It is celebrated four times over a course of 12 years and spans four locations namely Prayagraj, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik.
The Maha Kumbh is celebrated in a cycle of 12 years at four river-bank pilgrimage sites across India. (ANI)

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Wanted Naxal surrenders in Jharkhand’s Ranchi

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Ranchi (Jharkhand) [India], March 1 (ANI): A Naxal carrying a reward of Rs 10 lakhs on his head surrendered before the district administration in Ranchi on Sunday.
Wanted Maoist Zonal Commander Jeevan, having a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head, surrendered before district administration in Ranchi.
He reportedly joined the Naxals in 2009.
According to the police, as many as 77 cases of loot, rape, murder, levy collection and involvement in Maoist activities, were registered against him in different police stations in Jharkhand.
He was active mostly in West Singbhum and Khunti districts and was wanted for the last 10 years. (ANI)

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PM Modi addresses vaccine hesitancy, gets Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin jab

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New Delhi [India], March 01 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took the first dose of Covaxin, India’s homegrown coronavirus vaccine developed by biotechnology firm Bharat Biotech and Indian Council of Medical Research, addressing the hesitancy over the COVID-19 vaccine.
PM Modi took the first dose of the vaccine at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi.
“Took my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS,” PM Modi tweeted with his picture of receiving the jab.
“Remarkable how our doctors and scientists have worked in quick time to strengthen the global fight against COVID-19,” the Prime Minister added.
Bharat Biotech’s coronavirus vaccine Covaxin had run into a controversy after it got regulatory approval for emergency use without phase-3 trial results.
However, in January, the company’s Chairman and Managing Director Dr Krishna Ella clarified that the vaccine is safe and Bharat Biotech conducted trials in over 12 countries besides India.
In the picture that PM Modi tweeted, he is seen wearing a gamcha of Assam, which is symbolic of blessings of women from the eastern state. He has been seen wearing it on many occasions.
PM Modi was administered Bharat BioTech’s Covaxin by Sister P Niveda from Puducherry. The second nurse was from Kerala.
The Covid-19 vaccines- Covaxin and Covishield, will be made available to the general public from today.
The PM went to AIIMS without any route on the roads, thus choosing early morning to avoid inconvenience to public.
The first phase of the nationwide vaccination drive against Covid-19 had begun on January 16. The second dose of vaccine had begun from February 13.(ANI)

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