VILLUPURAM THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 12, 2019 `4.00 PAGES 14 CITY EDITION MORE STATES TO FOLLOW GUJ ON SLASHING TRAFFIC FINES K’taka CM directs his officials to study Gujarat model a day after that state cut fines under amended Motor Vehicles Act EVEN BJP-RULED STATES UNHAPPY GADKARI PUTS ONUS ON STATES Poll-bound Maharashtra, another BJP-ruled state, has written to Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari asking him to slash the ‘exorbitant’ recent hikes in traffic penalties, a state minister said on Wednesday. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee called the fines harsh and said she will not implement the new law as it was against India’s federal structure ■ ■ NO-GO Gadkari defended the hike after Gujarat cut fines from 25% to 90% for offences for which fines can be collected on the spot States are welcome to take populist measures, but they will be FINES FOR DRUNK DRIVING, JUMPING responsible for any eventuality, he told a television channel on Wednesday and added that people need to have a fear of the law SIGNAL, JUVENILE DRIVING CAN’T BE CUT CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Situation challenging, admits FM, says govt is addressing it Signs of slowdown became visible in auto, finance & real estate sectors even 2-3 quarters ahead of polls, but spending had to wait for a new mandate: Sitharaman G S V A S U & S U N I T H A N AT T I @ Chennai INDIA’S GDP touching a six-year-low of 5 per cent in June wasn’t an unexpected summer phenomenon. The economy was already blowing hot and cold much before the general elections in May, when government spending and policy slipped into a donothing phase, which in turn quickened the pace of the slowdown. Acknowledging as much, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said there were disparate, but visible signs of the downturn in auto, finance and real estate sectors two or three quarters ahead of elections. While the government was responding to the crisis with commitment, Sitharaman said, the Budget announcements made in July and the basket of measures announced last month will lead to economic recovery sooner or later. “As the auto sector challenges were coming to the fore, NBFC crisis happened ... the retrieval of NPAs was happening, with banks, particularly , PSBs cleaning up their books...and then came elections, when for nearly 3-4 months, a lot of things were discussed, but you had to wait for the government to get elected and then start spending,” Sitharaman said. Speaking exclusively to TNIE here Wednesday she said the government , wasn’t ‘sitting idle’, but keeping ears close to the ground and responding with short and long-term relief measures to recuperate the economy’s sore spots notably, NBFCs and auto sector. As part of the fiscal push, the government is hitting the road with its mighty `100 lakh crore infrastructure investment bazooka to fire up the growth engines. “Consumption needs a boost, We will front-load the proposed `100 lakh crore investments. As soon as the task force identifies projects, I’ll release funds. That’s how quickly I’ll move Nirmala Sitharaman, Union finance minister whether public or private. As for public spending, we will front-load the proposed `100 lakh crore investments. As soon as the task force identifies projects, I’ll release funds. That’s how quickly I’ll move,” she said, adding, “I’m sure you’ll see clear signals of recovery in consumption sooner or later.” But even as experts are busting blood vessels if it’s a cyclical or structural slowdown, Sitharaman was nonchalant. She also remained tight-lipped about the gravity of the slowdown. Is the economy in the ICU? She gave no answers. “I’m not good at analogies, but I’ll certainly say, every challenge that has been voiced is taken seriously ...The economy may have its challenges, but is still growing at 5 per cent...The challenges are there, I’m not denying it. The challenges are there and we’ve seized of it. And for the challenges, we are also coming with the responses. But we are still growing at 5 (per cent) and above. And one quarter low of 5 per cent, as we EXCLUSIVE all know, for a INTERVIEW growing economy, rises and dips are part of growth,” she explained. With FPIs pulling out of the Indian market despite the rollback of enhanced surcharge and firms like Reliance deleveraging, it appears to be a reflection of the state of the economy But Sitharaman dismissed such . overt concerns. “I think business decisions are taken on many considerations. The economy, I repeat, may have its challenges, but is still growing at 5 per cent,” she said. While admitting that slowdown affects tax collections, she reasoned the government will get into the driver’s seat ‘’to do the balancing act..”’ But she declined to disclose if she would don a fiscal straitjacket like her predecessor Arun Jaitley or break open the coffers to resurrect growth. The recent transfer of `1.76 lakh crore from RBI should come in handy as part of a fiscal stimulus, but Sitharaman kept all cards close to her chest. “As finance minister, I have to find the elbow room (for fiscal expansion if need be),” she said. FULL INTERVIEW: P9 Vikram was in touch till 335m above the lunar surface: ISRO S V K R I S H N A C H A I TA N YA @ Chennai IN a new revelation, it is learnt that Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander was much closer than 2.1 km to the lunar surface when it went incommunicado. ISRO sources told Express that the lander communication link was intact till it was 335 metres above the moon’s surface. ISRO scientists failed to softland Vikram lander safely during the last 15 minutes of ‘terror’ operation. The national space agency has been tight-lipped about what caused the glitch, which denied India the credit of becoming the fourth nation to soft-land on the moon’s surface. Initially ISRO , chairman K Sivan said: “Vikram lander descent was as planned and nor mal perfor mance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently the communication , from the lander to the ground centre was lost.” This suggested that communication was lost at an altitude of 2.1 km. On Tuesday ISRO , said, “Vikram lander has been located by the orbiter... All possible efforts are being made to establish communication with the lander.” Sources said the first phase of braking of the lander — from a 30 km-altitude to 400 metres where velocity is reduced from 1.66 km/ sec to 60 m/sec — was nearly successful. In this phase, orientation of the lander was changed from horizontal to vertical. At a height of 400 metres, the second phase of braking started and the communication link was lost when the lander was 335 metres above the lunar surface, sources said. MAHABALI’S RETURN Devotees celebrate Onam at the Sidhapudur Sree Ayyappan Temple in Coimbatore city on Wednesday. | U RAKESH KUMAR 12-year-old schoolgirl falls out of moving auto & dies E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Vellore A 12-year-old girl died after falling from a moving autorickshaw while returning home from school near Katpadi in Vellore district on Tuesday evening. The girl, R Madhu Lekha, a resident of Keezhvadugankuttai near Tharasamangalam in Katpadi, was studying in class VI in a private school near Katpadi. “She was travelling in the autorickshaw with five other school children. While Madhu was sitting with the driver in the driver’s seat, the five others occupied the passengers’ seat,” said a police officer. While nearing the rice mill bus stop near Keezhvadugankuttai on Katpadi to Gudiyattam road, Madhu fell from the auto allegedly after losing balance, police sources said. She sustained severe injuries, and was rushed to a private hospital, but was declared brought dead, police sources said. Katpadi police registered a case under Section 279 (rash driving or riding on a public way), and Section 304 (A) (causing death by negligence), based on a complaint lodged by Madhu’s father, M Ramamoorthy (42). The driver, Saravanan, a resident of Old Katpadi in Vellore, has absconded, and the police have launched a search. Further investigation is on. Police said that Saravanan picked the children up from home and dropped them back after school in his autorickshaw every day . Month ahead of Modi-Xi meet, Indian, Chinese troops in Ladakh lake face-off M AYA N K S I N G H @ New Delhi INDIAN and Chinese army troops were involved in a face-off in Ladakh on Wednesday morning, the first since over a year and amid a dip in trust levels between the two nations after India took away special privileges to Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370. Sources said an Indian Army patrol was moving in the northern bank of Pangong Tso, or lake, when Chinese troops objected to their presence. Many areas of the Pangong lake are disputed. “On Wednesday morning there was a face-off between the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA when they objected to our troop movement in the area,” a senior Army officer said. But the Indian Armymen stood their ground as they were within India’s territory the of, ficer added. Pangong Tso STAND-OFF INDIA CHINA The two sides have since returned to their bases. This is the first faceoff since July 2018, when the two nations’ troops confronted each other in Burtse in northern Ladakh after the Chinese built a temporary hut. The officer said the Army had registered a complaint after Wednesday’s incident and asked for a border personnel meeting in Chushul-Moldo near the spot of the latest face-off. Instances of transgressions and face-offs have come down in recent years. In its annual report of 201819, the defence ministry said the situation along the India-China border had remained peaceful. “Compared to last year, the number of transgressions this year has considerably reduced. Concomitantly the percentage of face-offs or ag, gressive interactions during these transgressions has also reduced this year,” the report said. But a disturbing trend is that such incidents happen before any high level contact between the two countries. The present face-off has taken place just a month before PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to hold an informal summit on Oct 10-12 at Mamallapuram near Chennai. CONTINUED ON: P7 EXPRESS READ TN to adopt engg admission system for all colleges? Advocates to return to work at Madras HC from today You can stay for 2 yrs after graduation in UK to find job The Tamil Nadu government is contemplating introduction of online admission system for all colleges and universities in the State similar to the system available for engineering courses. It may be implemented from the next academic year | P3 Members of Madras High Court Advocates’ Association have decided to resume work from Thursday. Ever since the collegium transferred the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, the court premises had been witnessing protests | P2 London: International students will now be allowed to stay for two years after graduation before finding a job, the UK said on Wednesday, reversing a 2012 move under which it was cut to five months. It will apply to students who start courses from 2020 | P9
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