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No charges on card payments for customers, pumps: Pradhan



Card Payment

New Delhi, Jan 9 

There will be no additional charges on digital transactions made at petrol stations, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan announced on Monday even as petroleum dealers threatened to stop accepting credit and debit cards after Friday.

“Neither the customers nor petrol pumps will bear additional charges on digital transactions. The issue will be resolved,” Pradhan told reporters here after meeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the matter.

“Regarding the issue, it is a business module between banks and oil marketing companies which they will resolve.

“Government will abide by guidelines issued in February 2016 wherein it stated customers won’t bear extra charges on digital transactions,” Pradhan said.

The minister said the discussions between the petrol pump association and banks over card transaction charges does not affect consumers, since it focuses on sharing of the merchant discount rate (MDR) charges between petrol pumps and banks, none of which will be passed on to consumers.

The All India Petroleum Dealers Association (AIPDA) on Sunday announced that it would not accept payments through credit and debit cards from Monday in protest against various banks’ decision to levy additional transaction charge of up to one per cent on petrol pumps instead of on customers.

On Monday, AIPDA said pumps across the country will continue to accept cards till Friday, as banks have deferred charging transaction fee till then.

“Late on Sunday, banks communicated to us they will not levy the transaction fee on card payments till January 13. Accordingly, we have decided to continue accepting payments through cards till Friday,” AIPDA West Bengal unit General Secretary Saradindu Pal told IANS.

West Bengal Petroleum Dealers Association President Tushar Kanti Sen said: “We took the decision very late on Sunday night because some banks communicated they would not levy transaction fee till January 13 but some did not.

“We kept a close watch. Eventually, the Ministry requested us to defer the decision till January 13.”

In a letter to Jaitley, AIPDA President Ajay Bansal said HDFC and other banks would start charging one per cent on all credit card transactions and between 0.25 and 1 per cent on all debit card transactions from Monday.

“The same will be debited to petroleum dealers’ account and net transaction value will be credited to our account… This will lead to financial losses for the dealers,” Bansal wrote.

Jaitley on Monday said the Centre was discussing with all the stakeholders about the issue of levying transaction fee for payments through cards for selling and purchasing fuel.

“We are trying to resolve the issue,” he said.

The AIPDA decision not to accept payments through cards came at a time when the Centre had directed state-run oil companies to offer a 0.75 per cent discount on price of petrol and diesel to consumers paying by cards or mobile wallets to encourage people to move towards digital payments.

“This discount amount was supposed to be reimbursed to the dealers but is not being executed properly,” Pal said.

He said dealers have been working on a low margin and demanded raising the dealers’ commission to 5 per cent from the existing 3 per cent taking petrol and diesel together.

A Petroleum Ministry release subsequently clarified that there will be no additional levy on digital transaction at petrol stations even after Friday.

“The Government had issued guidelines in February 2016 stating that the Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) charge will not be passed on to the consumers and that the stakeholders will take appropriate steps to absorb the MDR charges,” it said.




Election Commission orders repoll in 6 polling stations in Tripura



Election Commission

Agartala, Feb 23: The Election Commission on Friday directed the Tripura Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to conduct a repoll in six polling stations on Monday, an official said.

One polling station falls in Dhanpur segment, from where Chief Minister and CPI-M politburo member Manik Sarkar is contesting.

While the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist criticised the Election Department officials for “criminal negligence” in performing polling duties on February 18, the Congress flayed them for playing a “biased role” and criticised both the Election Commission and the state election machinery.

“The Election Commission has asked the CEO to conduct repoll in six polling stations in six Assembly constituencies across Tripura on February 26,” an official of the Tripura Election Department said.

The official said the EC also issued orders regarding VVPATs (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails) of seven polling stations in seven Assembly constituencies since their respective Presiding Officers did not allegedly get clearance from EVM (Electronic Voting Machines) control units of the votes cast during the mandatory mock poll before the start of actual polling.

The Election Commission said in four polling stations in four Assembly seats, the total number of electors did not tally with the total number of votes recorded.

“The Election Commission has also asked the Returning Officers of these four Assembly constituencies not to declare results without prior permission, if the winning margin is one vote,” the official added.

The CPI-M Tripura State Secretary Bijan Dhar criticised the Election Department for what he called “criminal negligence” regarding polling in 59 of the 60 Assembly seats.

“Due to technical problems in EVMs-VVPATs the voters suffered inordinate delay in casting their ballots till February 18 midnight. This happened because of incompetence and apathy of the election officials,” Dhar said in a media statement.

Chief Electoral Officer Sriram Taranikanti earlier said that 191 (6 per cent) VVPATs and 89 (5 per cent) EVMs malfunctioned across the state.

Dhar said technical glitches in EVMs-VVPATs were reported from around 520 polling stations and demanded a probe.

Tripura Pradesh Congress Vice-President Tapas Dey, without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said officials of the Election Commission and the Election Department were biased in favour of a particular party.

Over 92 per cent of Tripura’s 2,536,589 voters cast their votes in Sunday’s peaceful elections in 59 of the 60 Assembly seats, setting a new record in the electoral history of India.

In the 2013 and 2008 Assembly polls, Tripura registered 92 per cent and 91 per cent voting respectively.


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Chhattisgarh: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mascot Kunwar Bai passed away at the age of 106



Kunwar Bai
Kunwar Bai, Mascot of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (File Photo)

Kunwar Bai, who was chosen as the mascot for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by PM Narendra Modi for building toilets by selling off her goats passed away at the age of 106.

Kunwar Bai was felicitated Kotabharri village of Dhamtari in Chhattisgarh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met her during a programme to declare Two development blocks – Ambagarh Chowki and Chhuriya – of Rajnandgaon open defecation free.

The leader appraising Bai’s efforts said,“An elderly woman of 104 years who stays in a remote village, does not watch TV or read papers, but the message of building toilets under clean India mission somehow reached her. She sold off her goats to build a toilet at home and also encouraged others from the village to build.”

The leader also asked media to share the inspiring story of story Kunwar Bai instead of covering him.


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India successfully test fires nuclear capable ballistic missile ‘Dhanush’



Dhanush Ballistic Missile - File Photo

Bhubaneswar, Feb 23: India on Friday successfully test-fired nuclear-capable ‘Dhanush’ ballistic missile from a naval ship off Odisha.

The surface-to-surface missile, with a strike range of 350 km, was test-fired from the ship positioned near Paradip in the Bay of Bengal, said a defence official.

The trial was carried out by the Strategic Force Command (SFC).

Dhanush, a naval variant of the indigenously-developed ‘Prithvi’ missile, is capable of carrying a payload of 500kg and hitting both land and sea-based targets, the sources said.

The missile launch and its flight performance were monitored from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) base off Odisha coast.

The missile has already been inducted into the defence services.


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