CHENNAI THURSDAY NOVEMBER 07, 2019 `5.00 PAGES 26 LATE CITY EDITION GOVT RELAXES ONION IMPORT NORMS AS PRICES SHOOT UP The Union agriculture ministry on Wednesday relaxed fumigation norms for imported onions till November 30 AFGHANISTAN, IRAN TO RUSH SUPPLIES SHORTAGE DUE TO MAHARASHTRA RAINS As prices touched `80 a kg in Delhi, the government decided to allow private import from Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran to boost supplies. Traders who have imported onions without fumigation or having endorsement of such treatment on phytosanitary certificate will be allowed to fumigate in India through an accredited treatment provider ■ ■ Currently, imported onions are allowed only after the commodity is fumigated with Methyl Bromide. Importers are required to pay huge charges if found to be violating this condition Prices are ruling high due to supply disruption following heavy rains in onion-growing states such as Maharashtra 45% INCREASE IN RETAIL PRICE OF ONION IN MAJOR CITIES IN THE PAST ONE WEEK 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 SC orders incentive to curb stubble burning Punishing farmers isn’t the solution Noting that people dying isn’t given as serious attention as cattle deaths, the Supreme Court said punishing farmers is not the solution either Bench rebukes Punjab chief secretary, threatens to suspend him EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi Scale of the problem 2L GOVT SITTING IN IVORY TOWERS A farmer burns paddy stubble at a farm on the outskirts of Amritsar in Punjab on Wednesday | PTI farmers can’t be monitored, says A-G. It’s time to make chief secys accountable, the bench retorts S “We expect more from a democratic government of the country to deal with issue of stubble burning and curbing pollution. You (states) have forgotten the concept of welfare government. You are not bothered about poor people... You just want to sit in your ivory towers and rule. You are not bothered and are letting the people die... If you do not bother about people, tou have no right to be in power,” the bench said GIVING the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and UP an earful for failing to curb stubble burning in their states, which pollutes Delhi, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked them to incentivise small and marginalised farmers by offering `100 per quintal to those who have not burnt their stubble yet. The court also ordered the three states to bear the cost of hiring machines for handling the farm residue. Chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, UP and Delhi were present in the court on Wednes- Realty sector gets `25,000-crore smile EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi IN a major relief for homebuyers and developers, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved infusion of `10,000 crore into a fund to complete about 1,600 stalled middle and low-income housing projects, including those which are under insolvency proceedings or have been declared as NPAs. In the initial announcement made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in September, projects caught up in insolvency proceedings or which were declared as bad loans were excluded. The Cabinet has now included projects under these categories as well. However, projects ordered by courts to be liquidated will not be covered under the new scheme. According to analysts, this will give hope to homebuyers of Jaypee, Amrapali, Unitech and other realtors with stalled projects. “This will be a winwin for home buyers and real estate developers as it will help alleviate financial stress faced by homebuyers who have invested their hard earned money, while also releasing funds stuck in such delayed or stalled projects for productive purposes,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, president of Naredco and MD, Hiranandani Group. The new fund will be run as an Alter native Investment Fund. Besides the gover nment’s initial funding of `10,000 crore, it will also get `15,000 crore as investment from state-run insurer LIC and the country’s largest lender SBI. The fund will be managed by SBI Caps. Money will be released in stages through an escrow account and will be contingent upon completion of the approved phase, Sitharaman said adding that the size of the fund would go up with sovereign and pension funds joining in. Priority for affordable housing projects Govt okays setting up of a `25,000 cr fund to help finish stalled realty projects Govt will contribute `10,000 crore to the fund, with `15,000 crore being provided by LIC and SBI The fund will act as a ‘special window’ to provide loans to 1,600 affordable and middle-lower income housing projects In all, the govt targets 4.58 lakh housing units to be completed Indian IT firms face highest H-1B visa denial under Don day as they had been summoned earlier this week. At one point, the bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta threatened to suspend the Punjab chief secretary over the issue, and asked him to list the steps the state planned to address it. “We will send you back suspended,” the court warned. “It is a question of life and death for crores of people. They suffer from diseases such as asthma and cancer because of all this. We outrightly reject the suggestion of allowing stubble burning on certain conditions,” the bench told Punjab’s chief secretary . HORROR STORY TUITION TEACHER PREYS ON STUDENTS, TAKES EXPLICIT VIDS J AYA N T H I PA W A R @ Chennai IN a shocking case, a 28-yearold tuition teacher and her male friend were arrested by the police for allegedly forcing two teenage students to pose in compromising positions for explicit videos. Police suspect the duo could have abused many more children. The issue came to light after a 14-year-old girl filed a complaint with the police. It says the teacher, S Sanjana, and her friend S Balaji (38) forced the girl to pose for ex- E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi INFRA BOOST Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami inaugurated a slew of projects on Wednesday, including a PET-CT scan facility at the Madurai GH | Report: P4 Delhi Police back at work, lawyers continue protest EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi JUDICIAL work remained paralysed for the third consecutive day in Delhi’s six district courts on Wednesday, while the Bar Council of India alleged the protests by Delhi Police personnel on Tuesday were “politically motivated”. “The strike will continue on Thursday,” said advocate D S Kasana, secretary of Co-ordination Committee of All District Courts Bar Association, while asserting they will not relent unless the ASI who allegedly fired at a lawyer is arrested. The ongoing strike by lawyers brought hardship to the litigants, who were not allowed to enter the court premises in Saket and Rohini. The Rohini Court complex witnessed drama as one lawyer threatened to immolate h i m s e l f, wh i l e a n o t h e r climbed atop a building. There was no protest by the police on Wednesday, while cops deployed in courtrooms to assist in judicial work were absent in Saket, Rohini and Tis Hazari courts. Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court clarified that its observations in the November 3 order against police officials were only “prima facie” and “tentative”. The District and Sessions Judge, Delhi, Girish Kathpalia issued a circular warning all officials in district courts to refrain from forwarding any videos, photographs or texts pertaining to the recent Tis Hazari violence on social media or any other platform. AS US President Donald Trump pushes for more restrictions on immigration and increase in US employees for foreign firms operating there, the denial rate for H-1B visa applications jumped four times from 6% in 2014 to 24% in the third quarter of this year, according to the National Foundation for American Policy . Notably the denial rate is the highest for major Indian IT com, panies, which generate $57.2 billion in revenues in the US. The denial rate for H-1B visas for initial employment jumped from just 2% to 45% for Infosys, from 4% to 41% for Tech Mahindra, from 6% to 34% for Tata Consultancy Services and from 7% to 53% for Wipro, the study based on data received from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services showed. In contrast, the denial rate for similar H-1B visas for initial employment in Apple remained constant at 2%, while for Google it increased from 1% to 3% and for Intel and Microsoft it went up from 1% to 7% and 8%, respectively . Infosys, which is reportedly laying off nearly 10,000 employees in India this year, has hired some 5,000 tech workers in the US over the past one year alone. Analysts point out that Wipro has achieved 68% localisation in the US due to pressure from the Trump administration. “Can you permit people to die like this due to pollution? Can you permit the country to go back by 100 years?” the bench asked, adding, “We have to make the government responsible for this. Why can’t govt machinery stop stubble burning?” Rebuking the Haryana chief secretary the , court said, “You are worse than Punjab.” “Why can’t the government purchase stubble from farmers?” the bench asked, in response to Attorney General K K Venugopal’s suggestion that farmers be allowed to burn stubble region-wise and disP11 trict-wise. plicit videos with another student. The incident happened at Sanjana’s house. Balaji, who recorded the video, threatened the students that he would upload it online if they reported the matter. Though only one girl has come forward with a written complaint, police suspect many others were also abused. Sanjana was taking tuition classes for students of classes 10 and 12. Balaji was her neighbour. He visited Sanjana’s house often. “This is an unusual case as the accused have forced children to be intimate with each other,” said an officer. “Only detailed investigation will bring out further details.” “This incident is a pointer to how technology is changing the nature of sexual crimes,” says Vidya Reddy of Tulir. “Instead of panicking about safety of children, parents must enable children with the ability to understand how people can exploit them. It’s important to create trust in children, so that they can speak out about abuse.” “Schools should start appointing counsellors, and teachers and parents must observe behavioural changes in children,” says policy reP5 searcher Vanessa Peter. MORE CHILDREN ABUSED BY THE DUO? Though only one 14-year-old girl has come forward with a written complaint, police suspect the duo could have abused several other children who went to the woman for tuition PEACE DEAL Steering panel with Uddhav as head to end Maha drama? A B H I J I T M U LY E @ Mumbai A steering committee to run the new Maharashtra government with Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray possibly at its helm, could be the face saver for the party as it prepares to formally do business with the BJP again, sources said. With just two days left for the outgoing Assembly to expire, they have little time left for government formation. “Now our formula is in place. Sena’s resentment will be put to an end. The people of Maharashtra have voted for the Mahayuti (grand alliance). Hence, we shall form the government. Me and state BJP president Chandrakant Patil will meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari tomorrow to discuss the next steps,” finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told this newspaper without divulging any details. Earlier in the day six Shiv , Sena ministers attended a meeting of guardian ministers called by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, which was seen as a positive sign from the grumpy ally Also, . two of the Sena ministers had a short discussion with Fadnavis on government formation. One of the proposals was on the formation of a steering panel headed by Uddhav Thackeray to placate the ally sources said. , Sena leaders then gave Uddhav a full briefing. The final call on the peace formula and government formation will be taken at a meeting of the party’s MLAs on Thursday For the record, Sena MP . Sanjay Raut parroted the line on getting no offer from the BJP, but sources said that the mood within Shiv Sena is inclined towards accepting the proposals and forming the government. EXPRESS READ VRS scheme for BSNL, MTNL employees New Delhi: The first phase of the government’s multipronged strategy to revive ailing state-run telcos BSNL and MTNL has kicked off, with both firms rolling out voluntary retirement schemes. According to officials, the schemes may result in nearly 40% of their combined 2 lakhstrong workforce hanging up their boots, saving around `7,000 crore in annual wages. Both the schemes will be up for grabs between November 4 and December 3. Regular and permanent employees aged 50 and above are eligible | P15 WHERE’S THE GROUND? It’s all study no play for many Corporation school children N I R U PA M A V I S W A N AT H A N @ Chennai SPORT is a luxury for many corporation school students in the city According to corpora. tion data, more than half of its primary and middle schools, and almost half of its high schools don’t have playgrounds. The city corporation runs a total of 281 schools in the city, with a total strength of 83,200. Law mandates that every school must have a playground among other facilities. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act states that play materials, games, and sports equipment must be provided to each class as required. However, with school managements appealing citing the lack of land resources, the Centre in 2012 said it would be sufficient if schools make adequate arrangements in the adjoining playgrounds or parks for children. This, however, is only possible if there is a Corporation playground nearby, said an official. “Students will be taken to the nearest Corporation playground for sports practice. But this is done only once a week,” the official said. “Whenever the Corporation holds inter-school sports meet, only students from schools with playgrounds win. That is because they get sufficient practice unlike kids in our school, who practice just once or twice a week,” said a school headmaster. T Devi Selvam, president, Tamil Nadu Physical Education Teachers/Physical Directors Association, said that for teachers and students, the aim is Type Primary Middle High Higher Secondary Total Schools with Schools no ground 118 75 91 54 38 16 34 5 SCHOOL usually for their kids to do well academically “Parents are not . usually concer ned about sports. This will also affect the fitness of students,” he said. When contacted, a senior cor poration of ficial said, “There are no playgrounds in some schools because there is no availability of land. Even a lot of private schools don’t have playgrounds.” To improve facilities, the Corporation is planning to build a 22-yard cricket pitch at the Nungambakkam boys higher secondary school.
Express Publications (Madurai) Limited publishes the prestigious English language newspaper The New Indian Express from 21 centres in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Orissa.
Express Publications (Madurai) Ltd. also publishes the Tamil daily Dinamani, Cinema Express (Tamil) and Malayalam Vaarika (Malayalam). Through a sister company, Kannada Prabha Publications Ltd., it publishes the Kannada daily Kannada Prabha.
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