THURSDAY 27 AUGUST, 2020 morningstandard.in CHINA SPRUCING UP MILITARY INFRA IN EASTERN SECTOR facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard instagram.com/themorningstandard China has begun construction of huge habitat for large troop formation in the Eastern Sector, sources said UP BOARD SPENT ONLY 3-7 % FUNDS CAG also says very few workers getting benefits A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 8 l NEW DELHI l l J8.00 PAGES 12 Stage set for stormy GST Council meet today States against the idea of market borrowing to bridge revenue deficit, want Centre to pay up compensation dues A N U R A D H A S H U K L A @ New Delhi THURSDAY’S GST Council meeting is likely to be stormy as many states, including BJPruled ones, are miffed at nonpayment of compensation. Most states are going through a rough patch with revenues drying up due to the pandemicinduced economic distress. The situation has been exacerbated by the non-payment of GST compensation by the Centre. When the GST was rolled out, states were promised they would be compensated for the loss of revenue arising from the implementation of the new indirect tax regime. The 101st Constitution Amendment says states will have to be compensated for five years from the day GST was implemented (July 2017) till July 2022 for any losses. Last month, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had termed the Centre’s non-pay- D E L H I COV I D WAT C H STATUS OF CASES Today Cumulative Recovered 1154 148897 Death 17 4347 Active cases -- 12520 Total +ve cases 1693 165764 PATIENT MANAGEMENT Total beds Occupied Hospital 14130 3682 Covid care centre 10143 694 Covid health centre 594 243 Vacant 10448 5374* 351 HOME ISOLATION : 6208 *4075 beds of CCC are occupied by persons under quarantine including travellers who came by Vande Bharat Mission and bubble flights (COVID-19) TESTING STATUS 5,912 13,904 RTPCR/CBNAAT/ TrueNat tests conducted Rapid antigen test conducted in city 14,82,661 78,034 Total tests done so far Tests per million n Containment zones as on date: 716 n received in control room: 88 Calls Source: Delhi health bulletin | Data for Aug 26 TUSHAR MEHTA ‘Contempt plea against Swara misconceived’ EXPRES NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi DAYS after Attorney General K K Venugopal refused to give his consent for initiating contempt proceedings against actor Swara Bhasker, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Wednesday did the same saying the tactic of approaching him to seek the nod is misconceived. “The Attorney General for India has declined to provide his consent for the reasons stated in the reply Con. sidering the fact that the Attorney General has already declined to grant his consent in the present matter for the reasons detailed in the said letter dated 21.08.2020, the present request made to me is misconceived,” Mehta wrote in his letter to the petitioner, advocate Anuj Saxena. Venugopal had asserted that Bhasker’s remarks were not an attack on the institution (the SC) and refers to its judgment. “This does not offer any comment on the SC itself or say anything that would scandalise or lower the authority of the SC.” He had said the second part of the statement is vague not related to any particular court, and “something is so general that no one would take any serious note”. When the states were suffering losses in revenue due to Covid, the Centre has informed that it doesn’t have the funds to pay the GST compensation to the states. This amounts to a sovereign default —Manpreet Badal, Punjab finance min If not immediately, the Union Government, at least in terms of guarantee, will have to make up for the compensation during the year. If they assure that, then we can make our own arrangements till such time. Ultimately, the GST Council has to compensateum —Basavaraj Bommai, Karnataka home minister The refusal to compensate states for GST payments that are due is nothing short of betrayal —Sonia Gandhi, Congress president ‘THE MEETING WILL DISCUSS ALL OPTIONS’ A senior official finance ministry told this newspaper that “Revenue fall is a known fact. In the last meeting, the Centre had shared the revenue situation. This meeting will discuss all the options.” ment of GST compensation unconstitutional. While Kerala and West Bengal have been very vocal on the delay in GST payout, now many Congress-ruled states are also raising their voice against the Centre’s non-payment of dues. Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the Centre is sitting over `4,400 crore unpaid dues to the state, adding that there has been no compensation since April 2020. Chhattisgarh also said the state has not received even a single penny since April 2020. According to sources, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh – all BJP-ruled states – too have conveyed their displeasure over the Centre’s stand on delaying GST compensation to states. Thursday’s GST Council meet is expected to take up the issue of market borrowing by states. However, most states are not in favour of opting for this as they feel that is not the right way to fix revenue shortfall. They say the Centre should use the Consolidated Fund of India to pay states or allow them to levy some tax. The compensation would meet the shortfall in revenue to the states, assuming a 14% growth annually in GST revenues. However, the GST revenue growth was less than anticipated. Even three years after the GST rollout, monthly mop-up has remained under `1 lakh cr. Meanwhile, Union finance ministry sources said all solutions will be discussed at Thursday’s GST Council meeting. P8 PLA BUILDING A BRIGADE-SIZE GARRISON The PLA is building a brigade size garrison at Gyantse in Tibet, which appears to be meant for the ground forces, sources said. Its construction reportedly began after January. Also, satellite images from June and July confirm that China is building and connecting roads to border areas at multiple points in the Eastern Sector | P7 2021 WHEN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE GARRISON IS EXPECTED TO BE FINISHED Waiver: Clear the mess you created, SC to govt EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi ASKING the Centre not to hide behind the RBI, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed it to clarify its stand on waiving interest on loans d u r i n g t h e m o r at o r i u m period. “It is your responsibility to take steps under the Disaster Management Act. You have enough powers to decide the issue of waiver. You cannot just depend on the RBI,” the bench said while hearing a petetion filed by Agra resident Gajendra Sharma. Noting that the economic distress was created by the Centre’s nationwide lockdown, the SC asked the government to decide on the matter within one week. The court’s observation came after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta referred to the RBI’s affidavit, and said the banking institutions are also GOVT TO MAKE STAND ON MORATORIUM CLEAR BY SEPT 1 Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for a petitioner, said the loan moratorium scheme is ending on Aug 31 and it should be extended. SC posted the matter for Sept 1, asking the Centre to rturn with its stand distressed. “The problem was created by your (Centre) lockdown. This isn’t the time to take care of only the business interests. You must also consider the plight of the people,” the bench noted. Mehta said such observations could have some repercussions for the government, which is issuing all necessary directions under the Disaster Management Act. “Then you must take a stand. Whether interest should be charged and any interest on interest should be charged during moratorium period,” the bench noted. Opposition to move SC As cases resurge, testing to double in Delhi seeking postponement of JEE (Main), NEET EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi DELHI Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal acknowledged that daily new cases after August 17 had gone up in the city and announced that testing would be doubled in order to isolate patients. “There has been a marginal increase in the number of corona cases in Delhi after August 17, but all other paramet e r s a re u n d e r c o n t ro l . Looking at this we have decided to double our daily tests. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi AMID rising chorus against holding JEET/NEET in the midst of a pandemic, the CMs of seven Opposition-ruled states met on Wednesday to discuss the prospects of filing a joint petition in the Supreme Court to postpone the exams. The development comes a day after the Centre decided to increase the number of examination centres for JEET and NEET to ensure social distancing. Both the exams are scheduled to be held in early September. During a virtual meeting called by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, West Beng al CM Mamata Banerjee mooted the idea of filing a joint petition before the SC seeking a review after it rejected a plea on August 17 to postpone the exams. “Let us go to the Supreme Court and talk about this matter. This is a mental agony for students and with limited trains and flight operations, I don’t know how they will commute to sit for the exams. The situation is very serious with cases rising, we have to speak up for the children,” said Banerjee. Other CMs supported Mamata’s suggestion. Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren said a delegation should also meet President Ramnath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the matter. Keeping in mind the urgency of the matter, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh tweeted after the meeting: “I From next week 40,000 tests will be conducted in Delhi,” Kejriwal said while briefing reporters after a highlevel meeting with Chief Secretary Vijay Dev and senior officials of the health department. The officials updated the CM on the situation in the national capital after which Kejriwal said the strategy of the government would be to test and isolate aggressively . After a significant dip in the daily number of corona cases for a few days, fresh cases have increased in the past week, causing concern in the administration. Kejriwal appealed to the people to strictly follow social distancing nor ms laid down by the gover nment and wear masks. “The confidence of the people has increased in the last few days, which is very impor- Can Messi leave Barca? Youth Congress workers protest Centre’s move to hold JEE, NEET | PARVEEN NEGI have asked Advocate General, Punjab to coordinate with his counterparts in other States and to file a review petition in Supreme Court on NEET/JEE issue. In the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it is not safe for lakhs of students to appear for these examinations.” Addressing the Chief Ministers, Sonia said the Centre is indifferent to the difficulty students will have to endure if they have to write the exams amid Covid-19 induced restrictions. She also accused the government of handling the whole issue in a careless manner. Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray cited a US report that said 97,000 children there were infected when schools reopened and expressed concern what will states do if such a situation arises here. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Bhagel and Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy agreed that they are ready to approach the apex court on the matter. P5 Barcelona star Lionel Messi has asked club to release him. Here’s a brief look what transpired... Messi has told Barcelona through his lawyers he wants to leave despite a year remaining on his contract. This may lead to legal complications if both sides remain firm. The club buying Messi has to pay Barcelona €700 million as release fee, but the 33-year-old believes he can leave as a free agent. Few clubs can match his weekly salary of €1 million, but the names of Bayern Munich, Manchester City, PSG are doing the rounds. 2001 Year when Messi joined the club’s junior team 20 NATURE’S WRATH Locals gather near a bridge that was washed away due to heavy rainfall on the outskirts of Jammu on Wednesday | PTI HELP AT HAND PMO steps in to get broadband for Konkan student S U D H I R S U R YA W A N S H I @ Mumbai Swapnali studying at a makeshift camp; at home after PMO’s help We didn’t get an internet connection at our house. So, I would go up the rocks and sit in a makeshift camp from 7 am to 6.30 pm. I had to be careful of the rain — Swapnali Sutar, student tant for our social and economic activity But social dis. tancing nor ms should be followed by everyone and all have to wear masks, we are together in this fight against the pandemic. There should be no complacency because of this confidence,” Kejriwal said. The number of daily cases has been around 1,200-1,500 since August 17. Earlier, the cases had gone down to less than 1,000. But Kejriwal said “we cannot say that the intensity of corona is increasing.” WHEN it came to attending online classes, this third year veterinary college student in Konkan’s Dharishte town would climb rocks for more than an hour so that she could access the broadband connection. Her pictures went viral, reaching the Prime Minister’s Office which stepped in to bring some relief to Swapnali Sutar. “We didn’t get an internet connection at our house. So, I would go up the rocks and sit in a makeshift camp from 7 am to 6.30 pm. I had to be careful of the rain; it would soak my notebook. Every day was a chal- lenge,” said Swapnali. The photograph of Swapnali studying in a makeshift hut in rain got viral. Local BJP MLA Nitesh Rane extended help by shouldering education expenses. Social groups gave her a laptop, replacing her brother’s mobile phone, while others have extended financial help. Swapnali’s pictures also reached the PMO, and soon local government services swung into action. Under the Bharat Internet scheme, the broadband internet service came to Swapnali’s hamlet of 1,200 people at Dharishte in Kankavli tehsil in Maharashtra’s Konkan region. “My parents (her father is a farmer and mother a homemaker) were concerned about my safety but I did not want to , skip my classes. Getting food was also a problem, so I ate only once in the morning. By the time I returned, it was already evening,” Swapnali said. The internet connection was first given to the local gram panchayat. Through WiFi, the students were given the connection. “Now I don’t have to stay out in a forest. I am grateful to the PMO for quick response. We will also get photocopy and other online services at our place. We would be saving a lot of time,” she said. Major titles Messi won at Barcelona P11 GARIB KALYAN SCHEME GENERATED JOBS WORTH `19K CR Over 85,000 water conservation structures, over 2.6 lakh rural houses, over 12,000 farm ponds and around 4,200 community sanitary complexes constructed in six states | P7
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