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BS-VI non-compliant four-wheelers should not be allowed after March 31, 2020: SC told

The government has decided to give time till June 30, 2020 to the automobile manufacturers to sell their BS-IV compliant four-wheelers manufactured till March 31, 2020.

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BS IV

New Delhi, Aug 27 : The government decision to give time till June 30, 2020, to automobile manufacturers to sell their BS-VI non-compliant four-wheelers manufactured till March 31, 2020, was opposed in the Supreme Court on Monday.

Advocate Aparajita Singh, who is the amicus curiae assisting the court in a pollution case, told a bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur that people were living in a “gas chamber” and that even the foetus was getting affected by high pollution.” So, grace period should not be granted to manufacturers, she said.

She contended that the government cannot allow the citizens to die due to a health emergency. “We can live without a car, but we cannot live without breath. We are facing emergency situations.”

The car makers supported the grace period to sell their vehicles. They told the bench also comprising Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta that India was leap-frogging from the BS IV emission norms to BS VI within a short span.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A.N.S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, said the government considered it appropriate to give three and six months to the manufacturers to sell their stock of BS-IV vehicles after April 1, 2020.

The Bharat Stage VI (or BS-VI) emission norm would come into force from April 1, 2020 across the country. The BS IV norms have been enforced across the country since April 2017.

The government has decided to give time till June 30, 2020 to the automobile manufacturers to sell their BS-IV compliant four-wheelers manufactured till March 31, 2020.

In case of heavy transport vehicles, the grace period has been extended by the government till September 30, 2020.

In 2016, the government had announced that the country would skip the BS-V norms altogether and adopt BS-VI norms by 2020.

Objecting the grace period, the amicus told the bench that in a report of the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, doctors have said they have not seen people having pink lungs in Delhi.

The bench also asked the ASG to place before it a copy of report of the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital if it was confidential.

The court, after hearing the submissions, reserved its order on the issue whether the grace period should be given to the manufacturers to sale BS-VI non-compliant vehicles after April 1, 2020.

IANS

India

‘Ex-HAL chief’s statements on Rafale factually incorrect’

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Rafale deal scam

New Delhi, Sep 20 : Government sources on Thursday dismissed as “factually incorrect” media reports of former Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chief T.S. Raju claiming that the defence undertaking had signed a work-share contract with French company Dassault Aviation — the manufacturer of Rafale fighter jets.

“In the news item published (Thursday) ex Chairman and Managing Director, (CMD) HAL has been quoted as stating that an agreed work-share with Dassault Aviation (DA) was submitted to government. The same news item also referred to the cost of the aircraft, life cycle cost issues, etc. The statement attributed to ex CMD, HAL is factually incorrect,” said the sources.

The sources said that Raju was a member of the Contract Negotiations Committee of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and “there were many major areas of disagreement between HAL and DA”.

They said that the HAL, in a letter on Oct 10, 2012 to the MOD, “brought out these disagreements pertaining to the work-share between them”.

“Subsequently in July 2014, HAL in its letter to MOD has also highlighted one major unresolved issue regarding responsibility sharing between DA and HAL for licence manufacture of the aircraft.

“Further, the man hours required for manufacture of various components of the aircraft in HAL was also a point of disagreement between DA and HAL. There is, therefore, a contradiction in the claims attributed to Raju,” they said.

The sources also said that the since the work-share between DA and HAL was “never agreed upon”, the statement claiming lower life cycle cost is “completely presumptive”.

They said that because of these reasons, the proposal for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) could not be progressed further.

In an interview to a national daily, Raju who retired from the HAL on Sep 1, asserted that HAL “could have built Rafale fighters in India had the government managed to close the original negotiations with Dassault”.

Riding on Raju’s statements, the Congress led by its president Rahul Gandhi demanded Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s resignation accusing her of “lying”.

The party claimed that Raju’s remarks “nailed Sitharaman’s lie” that HAL didn’t have the capability to build the Rafale.

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India

Modi, Hasina jointly inaugurate oil pipeline, railway projects

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Narendra Modi Sheikh Hasina

New Delhi/Dhaka, Sep 18 : Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday jointly e-inaugurated the construction work of a cross-border oil pipeline and a railway project, with the former describing the two countries as members of the same family.

Hasina and Modi joined the event in the evening via video-conferencing from Dhaka and New Delhi, respectively.

The 129 km India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline connecting Siliguri in India with Parbatipur in Bangladesh will transport petroleum products from Numaligarh Refinery in Assam. Of the total length, 124 km will be constructed in Bangladesh and 5 km in India.

“Geographically we may be neighbours, but emotionally we are members of the same family,” Modi said while addressing the programme.

“Our mutual cooperation in the last few years has shown the world that when two neighbouring countries strive to work together, what all can be achieved,” he said.

“Whether it be a decades-old border problem or development aid cooperation project, we have made unprecedented progress on all issues.”

At the same event, the ground-breaking ceremony of a rail project to improve Dhaka’s connectivity with Tongi and Joydebpur, two towns on the outskirts of the capital city, was also held.

Officials said 48.80 km of the two new dual gauge rail lines would be constructed on the Dhaka-Tongi route and a 12.28 km new dual gauge railway double line on the Tongi-Joydebpur route.

Tuesday’s inauguration of the two projects came a little over a week after both the Prime Ministers inaugurated two railway projects and an electricity project on September 10.

Stating that the pipeline will further boost bilateral cooperation, Modi said that energy was the cornerstone of any country’s development.

“The pipeline will help in the development of the northern Bangladesh. Though it is being done with grant-financing from India, the project will be dedicated to the people and government of Bangladesh once completed,” he said.

Modi said the railway project will not only bring relief to road traffic in Dhaka, but also boost freight revenues.

Speaking from Dhaka, Hasina said that ever since she formed her government in Bangladesh in 2009, she has been working relentlessly to deepen ties with India.

She thanked Modi for the new projects which she said will help in Bangladesh’s development.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan joined the video conference from Delhi and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali from Dhaka.

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No relief in sight from rising oil prices

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Dharmendra Pradhan

New Delhi, Sep 12 : There is no relief in sight from the rising petrol, diesel and gas prices which are burning a hole in the consumers’ pockets.

The government on Wednesday eluded questions on the subject at an official media briefing here, with Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan asserting that he would not answer questions outside of the day’s Cabinet decisions.

“We will confine ourselves to the Cabinet decisions only,” Pradhan told IANS when asked if a relief was in the offing from soaring oil prices.

The Minister also chose to keep mum when asked if the Union Cabinet discussed the issue on Wednesday.

On Monday, Pradhan had an hour-long meeting with BJP President Amit Shah after the opposition organised a Bharat bandh on the issue.

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