KOCHI l FRIDAY l JULY 24, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE 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 MAJOR SAFETY LAPSES 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 ■ ■ ■ 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 54% 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 a 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 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 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. P4 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. P2 The coming weeks are going to be crucial. The situation will depend on how we keep vigil Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister 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 Krishna 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, is 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 countries which funded the anti-CAA protests and violence. The gold was smuggled into Kerala with the help of these organisations which FFI activists booked for spam mails to Javadekar der with India can participate only if they are registered with a ‘competent authority’, a move aimed at restricting Chinese companies from bidding for government procurement or taking part in powe r, r a i l o r t e l e c o m projects. “Any bidder from such countries sharing a land border with India will be eligible to bid in any procurement whether of goods, services (including consultancy services and non-consultancy services) or works (including turnkey projects) only if the bidder is registered with the competent authority,” the re- 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 Greta Unlawful Activities PrevenThunberg tion 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 later. @ New Delhi MONTHS after putting the squeeze on Chinese investment in India and banning 59 apps, the Centre on Thursday raised a bigger firewall, this time creating checks and balances for procurement. A new layer of political clearance has also been added to the approval process. Vetting will be done both at the Central and state levels. According to a finance ministry release issued late on Thursday night, bidders from countries sharing a land bor- lease said. Curiously political , and security clearance from the ministries of External and Home Affairs, respectively, will be mandatory for companies to be eligible to bid. This means Chinese companies cannot participate in the power project or a rail project or the telecom bidding without getting security clearance. The competent authority will be the Registration Committee constituted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. The new order, will not apply to countries to which India has extended lines of credit or in which India is engaged in development projects. R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi 16 PAGES, INCLUDING 4 PAGES OF KOCHI EXPRESS TO TEACH PARTIES A LESSON Chellanam 20-20 to contest civic body elections P R A M D A S @Kochi 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 a social media campaign due to restrictions on public gatherings The team is not bothered about 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 have a 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 AntiTerrorism Squad (ATS) has a separate unit to monitor terror funding and we’ve been looking into various aspects — Loknath Behera, DGP Central govt adds to China squeeze, puts procurement behind firewall EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE 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 proceeding 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. RAJASTHAN 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 Arun Mishra, Supreme Court 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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