THRISSUR l FRIDAY l JULY 24, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l CITY EDITION 22% SCHOOL BUILDINGS IN INDIA OLD OR DILAPIDATED TOILETS WITHOUT RUNNING WATER Many of India’s schools lack basic amenities, finds an audit by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights The report, based on a two-year-long survey of 26,071 schools across 12 states in north, west, east and north-eastern India, noted that 24 per cent schools lack water supply in toilets, meaning students have to carry water from outside, posing a safety risk. Also, more than half of the schools (51%) don’t have special toilets catering to the differently-abled ■ 54% MAJOR SAFETY LAPSES ■ ■ There’s no zebra crossing outside 99% of the schools surveyed Another worrying finding is that about 22% of them have highvoltage wires/transformers within or adjacent to their premises There were some positive findings as well. For instance, most schools now have separate toilets for boys and girls SCHOOLS NOT PROVIDING MID-DAY MEALS AS PER THE STIPULATED MENU 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 Go for re-employment, hike Dissent cannot be shut down, says SC fuel tax, panel tells state K A N U S A R D A @ New Delhi Committee calls for rationalisation of employees’ salary and pension, says payment to aided edu institutions’ staff burden KEY RECOMMENDATIONS Raise retirement age of govt employees from 56 to 60. Salary and perks to remain same as retirement day 1 Engage panel of consultancy firms of int’l repute for functional review of govt departments 2 Bring 5% 3 increase inannual user charges collected from education and health sector. Addl revenue of L300 cr expected Voluntary interest bearing deductions from salary and pension of employees for 12 months. Will help raise L3,675 cr 4 Increase excise duty and sales tax ceiling on petrol and diesel from 44% & 40% to 55% & 50%, respectively. This will help raise L2,086 cr 5 Hike fair value of land accompanied by a reduction in stamp duty 6 M A N O J V I S W A N AT H A N @ Kochi AN expert panel constituted by the Finance Department to identify additional revenue resources to fund the extra expenditure for combating the pandemic and to bridge the steep decline in income due to the Covid-induced slowdown has recommended a slew of measures including raising the retirement age of government employees and levying additional tax on fuel and liquor. The panel headed by former chief secretary K M Abraham reviewed the state’s finances based on the report released by the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation which pegged the revenue loss at `33,456 crore. The Centre has allowed states to borrow an additional 2% of the gross state domestic product (GSDP) to fight the slowdown. Though it will enable Kerala to borrow `18,087 crore, the state will still need `15,369 crore to meet the budget requirements. The panel stressed on the need for rationalisation of Lockdown: Decision after Monday’s cabinet meet A decision on enforcing another complete lockdown will be taken after special cabinet meeting on Monday. An all-party meet and a meeting with religious leaders on Friday will also be crucial. Chief Minister has said the decision to postpone the day-long assembly session was taken after holding talks with Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala salary and pension as they account for 72.92% of the state’s expenditure, with 20% going into pension alone. Though it was pointed out that raising the pension age will cut employment opportunities of youths, the perception was not given much weight as only 18000-20,000 jobs are offered by the government annually. If the retirement age is raised from 56 to 60 years, the government will be able to defer retirement benefit payment. But the employee will be eligible for four increments during the extended period which will increase the quantum of pension payable to them. So instead of raising the pension age of all employees as a matter of right, the government should allow the privilege of re-employment as an option with the same pay and allowances existing on the date of retirement, the report said. Another recommendation is to increase the tax ceiling of petrol and diesel from the existing 44% and 40% to 55% and 50%, respectively, by bringing an amendment to ● More on P5 the KGST Act. KERALA CASE DIARY 1,078 fresh cases on Thursday 9,458 are under treatment 17,000 people have been infected in Pulluvila, says an official, but CM refutes it 5 DEATHS REPORTED Govt announces the formation of a Covid-19 brigade to bolster the functioning of the first-line treatment centres where the bulk of patients will be treated in the coming days The coming weeks are going to be crucial. The situation will depend on how we keep vigil Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister Production-linked incentives on the drawing board for 5 more industries tives, Bajaj said “the industri@ New Delhi al segments that will be chosen will be a mix of sunrise secIN a bid to boost local manu- tors, export-oriented sectors facturing and attract new in- and sectors that are facing sevestments to labour-inrious challenges due to t e n s ive p r o d u c t ive the economic sectors to lift the corodisruption”. navirus-stricken econoHe was speaking at a my, the Centre is workvirtual conference oring on a plan to offer ganised by industry production-linked inchamber Ficci. centives for four or five Earlier this month, Tarun Bajaj sectors, Economic Afthe government had anfairs Secretary Tarun Bajaj nounced production-linked insaid on Thursday . centives for large-scale elecThis will be in addition to tronic goods manufacturers to similar concessions already reduce dependence on imports announced for certain sectors from China. Incentives have in the recent past. also been announced for pharWithout naming which sec- maceutical companies for protors will be given the incen- duction of bulk drugs and on EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE medical devices. Bajaj added the government will expand the scope of the MSME credit support scheme to benefit more people who are facing liquidity crisis due to protracted lockdowns and restrictions due to Covid-19 Ter ming the economic growth in June and July “more promising than thought”, he said the central government is expecting India to make a quick ‘V’ shaped economic recovery from the sharp fall in GDP growth caused by economic disruptions in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. “The 14 to 15 parameters we are tracking are showing promising results,” Bajaj said. THE Supreme Cour t on Thursday observed that the voice of dissent cannot be suppressed, else democracy will shut down, while refusing to restrain the Rajasthan High Court from delivering its verdict on a petition by rebel Congress MLAs challenging the disqualification proceedings initiated against them by state Assembly Speaker C P Joshi. A three-judge bench comprising justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krsihna Mu- rari was hearing the Speaker’s petition’s questioning the July 21 Rajasthan High Court order directing him to extend the time given to the rebel lawmakers to reply to the disqualification notices. Interestingly, the same bench will hear a 2009 contempt petition against senior advocate Prashant Bhushan on Friday . Representing Joshi, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said the HC cannot give such a direction in view of the 1992 Constitution Bench judgment that courts cannot interdict the Gold smuggled into state funded anti-CAA protests? Probe is on A J AY K A N T H @ Kochi THE probe into the gold smuggling through diplomatic channel has assumed a new dimension with the central agencies launching an investigation to ascertain whether the money made through gold smuggling in Kerala was used to fund protests across the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), and related violence in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. The details TNIE accessed from intelligence officials reveal that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been trailing the funding sources in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE since December 2019 after a few people arrested in connection with riots in Delhi and UP spilled the beans. A Malayali youth, who was arrested in UP based on specific intelligence inputs from the Kerala Police, said to have given the agencies some vital information on the funding. Intelligence Bureau (IB) sources said they have identified some organisations in the Gulf counties which funded the CAA protests and violence. The gold was smuggled to Kerala with the help of these organisations which have a FFI activists booked for spam mails to Javadekar R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi THE activists of Friday for Future India (FFI), the Indian chapter of a global climate movement by students led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, were booked under the Unlawful Activities Greta Thunberg Prevention Act (UAPA) for sending thousands of emails to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar criticising a draft Environment Impact Assessment 2020 notification. On July 8, the Delhi Police Special Cell sent a notice to Endurance Domains Technology LLP, an internet service provider hosting FFI’s domain, asking it to block the group’s website for their “unlawful activities may disturb peace, sovereignty of India”. The site was taken down two days later. Chellanam 20-20 to contest in civic body poll IT SEEMS people of Chellanam, the coastal village in Ernakulam, who are caught between the fast Covid-19 spread and battering sea, have declared an all-out-war against all political parties in the state. They are planning to announce a new brotherhood and contest against the mainstream party candidates in the upcoming civic body poll. They have decided to form Chellanam 20-20, a non-political organisation along the lines of Kizhakkambalam Twenty-20, which is the first non-political organisation to come to power in a panchayat in the country The Kizhak. kambalam team won 17 out of the 19 seats on its home turf in the last Voice of dissent Chellanam 20-20 has started social media campaign due to restrictions on public gatherings The team is not bothered about the victory in the local body polls The rough sea has added to the worries of Chellanam, which has been under tight lockdown curbs following a huge rise in local transmission cases of Covid elections. The Chellanam 20-20 has already started its social media campaign as there are restrictions for public gatherings because of the pandemic situation. Chellanam is under tight lock- Sees the brotherhood as an apt way to protest against political parties’ apathy towards village Will soon meet office-bearers of ‘Kizhakkambalam Twenty-20’ down curbs after a huge rise in local transmission cases of Covid. For several years, the people of Chellanam have been staging protests and demanding ‘pulimuttu’ (groynes) to protect the fisher folk strong network in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “It was found that a few individuals in Kerala have active links with three Gulfbased organisations which were behind funding antiCAA protests. We’ve analysed the evidence and gold smuggling is one of the fundraising sources,” said a senior intelligence officer. “The organisations have also been operating in close coordination with a couple of outfits in Kerala that used youth for anti-national activities.” State police chief Loknath Behera said his department was passing on particular details to the central agencies on funding sources. ● More on P4 We’re also doing a lot of work in the state and sharing whatever information comes our way to the central agencies. Our AntiTerrorist Squad (ATS) has a separate unit to monitor terror funding and we’ve been looking into various aspects — Loknath Behera, DGP TO TEACH PARTIES A LESSON P R A M D A S @Kochi Speaker from proceeding before a final decision is taken. “The question is can voices of dissent be shut down like this. Can a person elected by the people not express his dissent? Voice of dissent cannot be suppressed. Then democracy will shut,” remarked Justice Mishra. During the hearing, Sibal said: “Proceedings under the 10th Schedule are proceedings before the Legislature and cannot be interfered with... There are allegations against the MLAs. They have given statements to the media. Why are they not replying?” who are facing severe threat from sea erosion. The political parties that came to power from time to time had made several promises to them, but these remain on paper. Now, people in the age group of 2050 years have decided to form 20-20 and to contest the elections in the 21 wards of Chellanam panchayat. They are not bothered about the victory of candidates, but they think that this is an apt way to stage a protest against all parties. “We have lost faith in the political parties. They have given tall promises, but nothing has been implemented to save our lives. We intend to express our strong protest by contesting in all wards of the panchayat,” said Charls Biju, who is in the forefront to form the ● More on P5 organisation. ASSEMBLY SESSION SOON Confident that he has ample support, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday said an Assembly session will be called soon and his government will prove its majority The question is can voices of dissent be shut down like this. Can a person elected by the people not express his dissent? Voice of dissent cannot be suppressed. Then democracy will shut Justice Mishra GOLD SMUGGLING NIA questions Sivasankar for 5 hours E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ T’Puram THE National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday questioned former IT Secretary M Sivasankar in connection with the gold smuggling case. NIA officers served him with a notice for questioning, after which he turned up at the Police Club in Peroorkada. Sivasankar, who was also the principal secretary to the chief minister, was sent home after a five-hour interrogation in the evening. The senior IAS officer landed in a tight spot after it turned out that the gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair and Sarith PS maintained close relationships with him. The Customs had subjected Sivasankar to a nine hour-long interrogation which extended well past the midnight ● More on P4 of July 14.
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