Evening digest: Delhi govt may extend odd-even scheme by a week

GN Bureau | January 8, 2016



The Delhi government today indicated in the high court that it may extend the Odd-Even scheme in the capital by one more week as the plan has helped stop pollution from rising further. Presenting arguments in the Delhi HC which is hearing a batch of petitions against the Odd-Even scheme, counsel for the Aam Aadmi Party government Harish Salve said that the formula has helped reduce pollution at peak hours. “There are definite positive results of Odd-Even formula. On January 5, PM levels were 391, much less than over 500 in December,” the counsel told the court. Salve added that the government needs data for at least 15 days to conclude whether the scheme has worked. On Wednesday, the court had asked the government if the formula could be wound up by  today. A division bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath today, meanwhile, asked the government why it has restricted only cars under the Odd-Even scheme, before posting the matter for further hearing on Monday.

Azim Premji is the ‘most generous Indian’ with Rs 27,514 cr donations
Azim Premji has emerged as the 'most generous Indian' in the Hurun India Philanthropy List 2015, a ranking of the most generous individuals from India released on Friday. Premji donated Rs 27,514 crore for education through The Azim Premji foundation. The foundation works in 8 states and has more than 350,000 schools. This is the third successive year that Premji has topped the philanthropy list, says Hurun Research Institute that released the ranking. Donations were measured by the value of their cash or cash equivalent from 1 November 2014 to 31 October 2015.

Nandan and Rohini Nilekani take the second spot in the list with a contribution of Rs 2,404 crore while NR Narayana Murthy & family take the third spot with donation of Rs 1,322 crore for encouraging entrepreneurship, social development and education. K Dinesh, who retired from Infosys in 2011, is at the fourth spot with donations of Rs 1,238 crore. K Dinesh has been actively involved in philanthropic ventures in education, entrepreneurship encouragement and healthcare. At fifth spot is Shiv Nadar who donated Rs 525 crore to various charitable activities while Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries is sixth. Ambani donated Rs 345 crore towards healthcare through Reliance foundation.

Centre allows jallikattu in Tamil Nadu

The Centre on Friday allowed the conduct of jallikattu in Tamil Nadu by altering a 2011 ministry of environment notification by exempting the sport from performances for which the bulls should not be used. The supreme court had in May 2014 upheld a 2011 notification by the ministry of environment and forests to include bulls in the category of animals that shall not be used as performing animals, meaning that bulls could not be exhibited or trained as performing animals for Jallikattu events. The present notification by the ministry clears the ground for Jallikattu events by making an exception for these and some other traditional bull-related events in other parts of India.

The action of the Centre is being seen as a bid to be standing by traditional customs in the face of opposition by voices who saw the event as cruelty to animals, thus also making a political gesture to a state where the BJP as a national party has practically no political presence. Superseding the 2011 notification, the present one, while underlining that bulls shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animals, says: “provided that bulls may continue to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal, at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat in the manner by the customs of any community or practiced traditionally under the customs or a part of culture…” It however adds a few guidelines to regulate it: these events shall take place in these areas at such places as the district magistrate or collector explicitly permits, and that the bull once out of the enclosure shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metres.

All airports may take names of their cities

In a bid to end constant disputes over naming of airports after personalities, the Union government is considering a proposal to name all airports in the country after their respective cities. Government sources said the decision might be a part of the civil aviation policy, which will be placed before the cabinet later this month. “It is under the active consideration of the government to name all the present and future airports after the city in which it is located. This may be a part of the civil aviation policy which will go to the Cabinet,” a civil aviation ministry source said. The Punjab and the Haryana governments have been locked in a tussle over naming the Chandigarh airport. While Punjab wants it to be named after martyr Bhagat Singh, Haryana has suggested an RSS leader’s name.

SP sweeps zilla panchayat chairman polls in UP

The ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh thumped all opponents in the zilla panchayat chairman elections to claim 60 out of 74 districts. The SP candidates were elected in 24 districts in addition to the 36 districts where its candidates won unopposed. The BJP was embarrassed in Varanasi as SP candidate Aparajita Sonkar defeated the BJP-Apna Dal combine candidate Amit Kumar Sonkar in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency. In Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s constituency, Amethi too, the SP tasted victory. The party’s candidate was elected unopposed after the Congress candidate Krishna Chaurasiya withdrew nomination, embarrassing the party. Out of the 74 districts, 44 were won by women candidates, including Mulayam Singh’s niece Sandhya Yadav, who was elected unopposed from Mainpuri.

While the BJP and its allies claimed victory in five districts, including Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, the BSP claimed four chairman posts and the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal got one each. The Congress’ lone chairman, Avdesh Pratap Singh, was elected in its bastion Rae Bareli. The BJP alleged that the SP misused the State machinery to win the elections. Putting up a brave face, BJP State chief Laxmikant Bajpai said the SP had “crossed all limits of anarchy” to “capture all the seats” but could not prevent the BJP from securing some.

SC fixes Jayalalithaa DA case appeal hearing from Feb 2
The Supreme Court today scheduled the final hearings on the appeals filed agai st the acquittal of Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa and others in a disproportiknate assets on February 2. A bench of Justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy said the hearings will start from February 2 and continue on February 3 and 4. It was Karnataka government counsel and senior advocate Dushyant Dave who suggested to the bench that the hearings should be posted from February 2. The court had fixed the hearing today to debate a date for the final arguments and highlight the issues to be argued on in the appeals. Justice Ghose agreed that the case would be kept at the top of the cause list on the three days of the hearing in the month of February.

Mamata Banerjee sells Bengal as investment paradise
Projecting West Bengal as an ideal investment destination, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday called upon entrepreneurs to set up industries in her state asserting that the government will "work as their employee". Addressing the inaugural session of the two-day Bengal Global Business Summit, Ms Banerjee harped on her government's achievements since coming to power in May 2011. "There is big scope and hope in Bengal. There is cheap labour, sufficient power, skilled manpower. We have land bank, suitable policies on textile, industry and the likes. We have highways and Asian highways connecting neighbouring countries," said Banerjee. "Please invest in Bengal. Whatever help you need, from small-scale to capital industries to agro and culture industries from education to medium-scale industry... wherever you need the help, our government will work as your worker. You would be the employer and I am the employee."

Shah Rukh, Aamir Khan's security not reduced, says Mumbai police
The Mumbai Police has denied reports from news organizations including NDTV that it has reduced security cover for 40 Bollywood celebrities including top actors Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan. There is no downscaling of existing personal security provided to film personalities, said a tweet of Mumbai police this afternoon. News reports this morning, based on Mumbai Police sources, said that only actors Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar and singer Lata Mangeshkar would retain the police security they had been granted which includes two armed constables and an escort vehicle with armed constables and a security-in-charge for each. Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan, sources had said, would get two armed constables instead of the escort vehicle with four armed constables that shadowed them so far.

Overseas Indian affairs ministry merged with external affairs
In order to avoid duplication of work and to improve efficiency, the government on Thursday merged the ministry of overseas Indian affairs (MOIA) with the ministry of external affairs. Announcing the merger, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Thursday, “As Minister of External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs, I realised that a substantial work of MOIA is done through our missions abroad. Therefore, I proposed to Hon’ble Prime Minister that MOIA should be merged with the Ministry of External Affairs.” Sources, however, indicated that the decision to merge MOIA with MEA was taken as senior diplomats wanted officials dealing with foreign workers-related issues and emergencies to have better diplomatic back-up and coordination. Explaining the official line, a spokesperson of MEA said the merger of MOIA was to avoid “duplication” as most of the work of MOIA was done by Indian missions abroad.

Delhi-Agra train fare less than one kg of apples
The Indian railways have come out with a chart comparing train fares with the prices of apples, movie ticket, refined oil, other commodities used in daily life in an indication of the subsidy provided for passenger travel. A passenger has to shell out Rs 85, which is less than the cost of one kg of apples, for travelling to Agra from Delhi in the general class, while the Chandigarh fare is Rs 95, lower than the price of one 140 gm toothpaste, according to the fare comparison chart. While the bus fare is Rs 350 for the 266-km-long New Delhi-Chandigarh route, it is Rs 280 for the 194-km-long Delhi-Agra bus drive. According to the data, the passenger fare for the 303 km distance between Delhi and Jaipur in general class is Rs 105, which can be compared with the mobile Internet pack of 500 MB.

The travel from Delhi to Dehradun is at present costing Rs 105 in the unreserved general class, less than the cost of one kg of refined oil. Bus fare to Dehradun and Jaipur is Rs 450 and Rs 400 respectively, it said. Train fare for the New Delhi-Lucknow sector, a distance of 513 km, is Rs 150 and the bus fare is Rs 700. According to the railways, train fare for Lucknow is less than the cost of one kg Tur dal. Similarly, Delhi-Amritsar fare of Rs 140 is less than the cost of one kg of mustard oil and Delhi-Jammu fare of Rs 175 is less than the half a kg of desi ghee, as per the chart.

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