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Transport industry is limping after demonetisation



trucks -up

Kolkata, December 15: Attacking the central government over demonetisation, Goods Transport Associations on Thursday declared in unison that the transport industry has suffered a massive setback since the note ban and claimed government’s push towards a cashless economy needs serious retrospection.

The transporters stated their support for the government’s initiative in curbing the black money but said the industry was taken aback by the abruptness of the decision and is stumbling ever since.

The government should understand every cash driven industry is not equivalent to black money. There is no question of black money in the road transport industry as almost everything related to transportation is paid well in advance,” said Calcutta Goods Transport Association’s General Secretary Sunil Agarwal said at an event here.

He said that 40 percent of the freight amount in India is handled in cash.

“Several transportation aspects like toll taxes, minor repair of vehicles, loading and unloading expenditure, food expenditure of drivers etc have been paid in cash. The government should have given us time to convert to cashless system,” he added.

The Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators Association (FWBTOA) said more than 40 percent of the total goods trucks in the state have stopped plying since the note ban and warned about a complete break-down in the road transportation system if cash flow is not improved.

“If the vehicle owners were in ICU earlier, the demonitisation has pushed them to a state of coma. Out of 3.70 lakh trucks in the state, 40 percent has already stopped plying. The rest will follow shortly if the situation stays like this,” said FWBTOA’s President Subhash Chandra Bose

He appealed to the government and Reserve Bank of India to increase withdrawal limit to Rs 50,000 for a truck for inter-state transportation.

“Unlike other industries, the transport industry pays all the taxes well in advance. The road tax, toll tax, fuel tax are all paid, before a goods vehicle hits the road but the industry is not getting any relaxations in terms of cash withdrawals from the government,” he complained.

Describing the goods transport industry as the ‘blood line of the nation’, Prabhat K Mittal, the president of CGTA, suggested the government should eradicate the instances of corruption and use improved infrastructure to make the industry cashless.

“Government should take practical decisions like abolishing toll tax at least for a month as toll cards at many plazas are not working. We are also proposed to pay toll tax in advance for vehicles with national permit,” he added.



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



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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Modi, Hasina jointly inaugurate oil pipeline, railway projects



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



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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