02082017-TTC-01.qxd 8/2/2017 1:19 AM Page 1 13 established in 1881 wednesday,august 2, 2017 late city chandigarh | gurugram | jalandhar | bathinda | jammu | srinagar | www.tribuneindia.com | vol. 137 no. 212 | 32 pages | ~4.50 | regd. no. chd/0006/2015-2017 /thetribunechd Cong stalls RS on NOTA, goes to poll panel Tribune News Service New Delhi, August 1 The Rajya Sabha today witnessed uproarious scenes and adjournments as the Opposition protested a notification by the Election Commission providing the “None of the Above” (NOTA) option in the voting slip for state legislatures to elect members to the Council of States. The Opposition, led by the Congress, raised the issue by questioning the move. The protests came ahead of the August 8 election to three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat where the BJP has fielded party chief Amit Shah, Union Minister Smriti Irani besides Balwant Rajput, and the Congress Ahmed Patel, political secretary to party chief Sonia Gandhi. Congress Deputy Leader Anand Sharma said the move vitiated the election since neither the Constitution nor the Representation of the People Act had been amended to introduce NOTA. Chairman Hamid Ansari suggested the matter be taken up with the EC but attempts to proceed with Question Hour did not succeed. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is the Leader of the House, said continued on page 10 more on page 7, 10 /thetribunechd Lashkar chief killed in Pulwama Abu Dujana had plotted several fidayeen attacks; civilian protester shot Majid Jahangir Tribune News Service Srinagar, August 1 Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Abu Dujana, recently named the second-in-command of the Zakir Musa-led outfit with Al-Qaeda links, was killed in a surgical operation in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district early this morning. Married seven months ago, the “most-wanted” terrorist was killed at his in-laws’ house while visiting his wife. Dujana’s aide, a local man, was killed too. As the gunbattle raged, locals, mostly youngsters, marched to the encounter site and hurled stones at the security forces. They were fired upon. One person, identified as Firdous Ahmad of Begumbagh, Kakapora, was killed and several others were injured. The protests spread to other parts of the Valley, including Srinagar, leaving several injured. Thereafter, educational institutions across Kashmir were closed for the day and mobile Internet services suspended. The operation was launched by the Army, police and CRPF in the wee hours at Hakripora Pulwama, 25 km from Srinagar. “The Army and the CRPF cordoned off 10 to 12 houses at Villagers stand on the rubble of a house after it was damaged during a gunbattle between terrorists and security forces in Hakripora in Pulwama district and (inset) the slain LeT chief Abu Dujana. AMIN WAR about 4 am. We zeroed in on a house and spoke to the owner. We learnt that terrorists were not allowing members of the family to come out. After a couple of hours, all came out and that is the time we launched an operation at 8 am. Within a couple of hours, two terrorists were killed,” the GOC of Army’s 15 Corps, Lt Gen JS Sandhu, said. “Those killed are Abu Dujana, the LeT chief in Kashmir and an A plus terrorist, and Arif Nabi Dar, also a terrorist,” he said. Dujana had escaped the police dragnet more than 12 times earlier, officials claimed. Police chief SP Vaid called the killings a huge success. He said Dujana, who belonged to Gilgit-Baltistan, had been active in Kashmir for six years. He had masterminded several fidayeen attacks on security forces along the Srinagar-Anantnag highway in the last two years. Kashmir IGP Muneer Khan claimed Dujana had “become a ‘nuisance’ for everyone, specially the girls.” related reports page 13 Focus on big fish: back page Panagariya to leave Niti; back to teaching New Delhi, August 1 Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya today said he will leave the government think-tank on August 31 and return to Columbia University. The Indian-American, who joined as the first vice-chairman of Niti Aayog in January 2015, is the second high-profile academic-economist after former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan to quit a top job to return to teaching in the US. Like Rajan, Panagariya was often outspoken on issues, including labour reforms, privatisation of Air India and sick PSUs, for which RSSaffiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) had accused Niti Aayog of furthering the corporate lobby’s agenda. Professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia, he did not have a fixed term at the government think-tank. Going by convention, followed by the erstwhile Planning Commission which was replaced by Niti Aayog, the term was to be co-terminus with that of the PM, who is chairperson of the body. Panagariya, 64, said the university was not giving him further extension. He said about two months ago he had expressed his desire to PM Narendra Modi to be relieved. Arvind Panagariya Panagariya said he had to make a choice as it would not be possible for him to get the job he had been doing at Columbia University. At US universities, one can teach as long as one’s health permits. On his tenure at Niti Aayog, Panagariya said it was tough initially, but once he got into the groove, it had been smooth sailing. He said he wanted to complete the Seven-Year Strategy Paper and 15-Year Vision Document, but it would have to be done by his successor. The papers were “80-85 per cent ready”. BMS’ Virjesh Upadhyay said: “We were not against anybody. But we were against Aayog policies on labour laws, PSU disinvestment... it used to meet corporate lobbies, but not labour unions.” — TNS/PTI Edit: Panagariya departs 30,000 Punjab traders ‘skip’ GST switchover Gujarat ex-DIGVanzara absolved Taxation Dept to identify wilful defaulters earlier registered under Value Added Tax, initiate action Ruchika M Khanna Tribune News Service Chandigarh, August 1 In what may be a major cause for concern for the state government, nearly 30,000 traders in Punjab, earlier registered under the Value Added Tax, have failed to migrate to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime. While some of them may be exempt from paying the GST — their annual turnover is less than Rs 20 lakh or they deal in goods exempt under the new tax regime — the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department has decided to verify such traders. The traders were given provisional IDs and passwords under the GST, but they failed to get themselves registered. Officials in the department say action will be taken against those who have wilfully not migrated to the GST by registering themselves, even though they are liable to pay tax. Of the 2.41 lakh traders that the state government estimates come under the GST regime, only 2.10 lakh have so far been registered. In the previous tax regime, traders whose annual turnover was more than Rs 5 WILL CANCEL VAT REGISTRATION: GOVT We will cancel their registration under VAT, and impose VAT on the closing stocks available with such defaulting traders. Punjab Excise & ❝ Taxation Department official lakh had to pay VAT. The bar had been raised to Rs 20 lakh under the GST. However, officials feel there is a high probability of wilful default. Even as the count of traders has fallen, there is still no assessment of how much State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) will be collected. Though the state has been assured of a 14 per cent hike in devolution, on a compoundable basis, each year for the next five years, it is only after the first returns under the GST are filed on August 20 and again on September 5 that the real assessment of the revenues will be known. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had gone on record to say that the state would benefit by Rs 5,000 crore in the first year after the switchover to GST. However, officials in the tax department say there is no assessment of the likely revenues generated from GST, even as state taxes worth almost Rs 2,800 crore have been subsumed. “Punjab is a consumption state, and the more sales that happen here, will mean higher realisation of the SGST and Central GST. But this being the ‘gestation period’, the sales are low, and we think the revenues will initially be low,” said a senior officer overseeing the GST rollout and implementation. in Sohrabuddin ‘fake killing’ case mumbai, August 1 The special CBI court here today discharged former IPS officer from Gujarat DG Vanzara and Rajasthan-cadre IPS officer Dinesh MN in the case of alleged fake encounters of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati. Vanzara, a DIG-rank officer, was arrested on April 24, 2007, in connection with the alleged fake encounter of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh, whom the Gujarat Police claimed had links with Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba. DG Vanzara The Bombay High Court had granted bail to Vanzara in 2014. “Justice has finally been done,” he reacted today. Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad from Hyderabad on their way to Sangli in Maharashtra. Sheikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter near Gandhinagar in 2005, after which his wife disappeared and was believed to have been done to death. Prajapati, an aide of the gangster and an eyewitness, was allegedly killed by cops in 2006. The Sohrabuddin case was transferred to Mumbai in 2012 on the CBI’s request for a fair trial. In 2013, the Supreme Court clubbed the “fake encounter” case of Prajapati with that of Sheikh. — PTI Privacy: Expert panel World’s ‘highest’ village runs dry as warming hits Himalayas to suggest draft law Nita Bhalla Satya Prakash Tribune News Service New Delhi, August 1 The government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it has set up a panel of experts under former top court judge BN Srikrishna to study issues relating to right to privacy and suggest a draft law on data protection. During a hearing on the right to privacy issue before a nine-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta — who is representing the UIDAI and some of the states — said the 10-member expert panel would identify key data protection issues and suggest measures to address them. Mehta asserted that the government was cognizant of the growing importance of data protection in view of the need to ensure growth of the digital economy to keep individuals’ personal data secure. Attorney General KK Venugopal has already conceded that right to privacy is a fundamental right but a qualified one and that the government has a right to regulate it through a law. On Tuesday, the Maharashtra Government told the Bench that courts cannot introduce right to privacy as a fundamental right under the Constitution. The MP Government supported Maharashtra’s stand. Komik (HP), August 1 With a backdrop of the snowcapped Himalayas stretched out across a vibrant blue sky, it is hard to dispute the sign as you enter Komik that declares it to be the world’s highest village with a road. Others also boast the title — from Nepal’s Dho Tarap to Bolivia’s Santa Barbara. But at 4,587 metres, this remote Buddhist hamlet in Himachal Pradesh near India’s border with Tibet is no doubt among the planet’s topmost motorable human settlements. Yet despite its coveted status, life is harsh for the 130 residents of Komik, a quaint collection of whitewashed mud-and-stone houses located in the desolate Spiti valley. The region is a cold transHimalayan desert cut off from the rest of India for six months of the year when snowfall blocks mountain passes. Phone and Internet connectivity is almost nonexistent. Schools and clinics are a tough trek away. But Spiti’s inhabitants, who eke out a living farming green peas and barley, have a much bigger concern: their main sources of water — streams, rivers, ponds — are drying up. “We are used to being in a remote place. We have our traditional ways of living,” said farmer Nawang Phunchok, 32, as he sat tying bundles of a prickly desert bush to insulate a monastery roof. “But these days the water is not coming like it used to. The seasons are changing. We see Komik village in Spiti is facing a severe shortage of water. TWITTER there is less water than before.” There is little doubt India is facing a water crisis. Decades of over-extraction of ground water, wasteful and inefficient irrigation practices, pollution of surface water like lakes and rivers, and erratic weather patterns attributed to climate change, have left many parts of the country thirsty. From its deepest aquifers to its biggest rivers, India is one of the most water-challenged countries in the world. More than half of the country, including Punjab and Haryana, is considered highly water-stressed. Today’s issue is of 32 pages, including four-page Jobs and Careers, six-page Chandigarh Tribune and four-page Life+Style. More than 50 per cent of the country’s wells have registered a decline in volumes in the last decade. Up to 80 per cent of rivers, lakes, ponds and streams are polluted with human waste and sewage. Over 6.3 crore rural Indians do not have clean water to drink, cook or wash with, says WaterAid. Around 7.6 crore need improved water sources and 77 crore require proper toilets. And climate change is exacerbating the situation. Overall rainfall in the last century has been erratic, and the annual average temperature has risen by 0.5 degrees Celsius, says India’s meteorological department. India is forecast to overtake China as the most populous nation with 1.7 billion people by 2050. With rapid urbanisa- tion, rising demand for hydropower and changing weather patterns, the situation is set to worsen. Government data forecasts India’s annual water availability per person to drop by over 25 per cent by 2050 to 1,140 cubic metres from 1,545 cubic metres in 2011. Authorities have in recent years moved to better support farmers and boost water security in drought-prone areas. But environmentalists say the focus is largely on plains. The Himalayas are one of the world’s most sensitive hotspots to climate change. Melting glaciers, erratic rainfall, less snow and rising temperatures are taking their toll. And Spiti valley — “Middle Land” (between India and continued on page 12
The Tribune, now published from Chandigarh, started publication on February 2, 1881, in Lahore (now in Pakistan). It was started by Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, a public-spirited philanthropist, and is run by a trust comprising four eminent persons as trustees.
The Tribune, the largest selling daily in North India, publishes news and views without any bias or prejudice of any kind. Restraint and moderation, rather than agitational language and partisanship, are the hallmarks of the paper. It is an independent newspaper in the real sense of the term.
The English edition apart, the 133-year-old Tribune has two sister publications, Punjabi Tribune (in Punjabi) and Dainik Tribune (in Hindi).