UIDAI to record biometric data of applicants seeking NRC inclusion
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will record
biometric data including the fingerprints and iris scans of about 30 lakh
applicants who have sought to be included in the National Register of
Citizens (NRC) after having been excluded from the final draft published
Almost 30 lakh out of the 40 lakh people who found their names
missing had filed claims to be included during the claims and objections
round that ended on December 31.
A senior government official said the UIDAI would obtain the
biometrics when the applicants appeared for hearings to be held by Class-I
officers starting from February 15.
By the standard operating procedure (SOP) submitted by the Centre
in the Supreme Court, “during the course of the hearings, the State
government in collaboration with UIDAI will undertake the process of
biometric enrolment of all the applicants of NRC.
“This means that they do not have documents to prove that they
came to India before March 1971, the cut-off date to be included in the
NRC,” said the official, adding that the 10 lakh people had been identified
and that their details were available with the authorities.
“Once the claims have been heard and the final NRC has been
decided, only the eligible applicants will be given the Aadhaar card. The
authorities will have the biometrics of all the applicants,” said the
Centre claims Ganga water quality has improved
The water quality of the Ganga in 2018 has “improved over last
year”, according to a written statement in the RajyaSabha on Monday by
junior Water Resources Minister Satyapal Singh.
The statement said “dissolved oxygen” levels had improved at 39
locations, and “biological oxygen demand” (BOD) levels and faecal coliform
had decreased at 42 and 47 locations respectively.
These three parameters are a proxy for both the presence of
aquatic life as well as microbes that may be harmful to these biota, and are
conventionally used to assess the quality of the river.
The government said Rs. 5,100 crore, of the Rs. 20,000 crore
allotted to clean the Ganga, had been spent under the NamamiGange Programme
from 2014-15 to 2018-19.
Last year, Rs. 1,725.86 crore had been spent till December 26,
taking the cumulative expenditure to Rs. 5,187.37 crore.
More than half the funds had been directed towards making new
sewage treatment plants (STP) and effluent treatment plants (ETP), as well
as making sub-par plants work better. From April 2014 to March 2018, a total
of 145 projects were sanctioned at an estimated cost of Rs. 15,074.76 crore.
However, independent experts have said the cleaning efforts were
half-hearted and there was little effort to ensure that the river’s
voluminous flow in the upper stretches of Uttarakhand is maintained
RBI allows relaxation of provisioning norms for MSME loans
Following a demand from the government for a debt recast package
for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Reserve Bank of India
(RBI) has relaxed the provisioning norms for lenders for restructuring loans
of up to Rs. 25 crore.
According to the guidelines released on Tuesday, the RBI has
allowed one-time restructuring of existing loans to MSMEs that are in
default but ‘standard’ as on January 1, 2019. Banks have to make only 5%
provisioning for restructuring the loans as compared to 15-20% earlier.
The government has been asking for such a package for a long time
for the MSME sector which was severely hit due to demonetisation exercise
and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“Considering the importance of MSMEs in the Indian economy, it is
considered necessary at this juncture to take certain measures for creating
an enabling environment for the sector,” RBI said. The issue of
restructuring of MSME accounts was discussed by the RBI board on November
19, 2018 . The issue also figured during RBI’s recent interactions with the
“The above issue has been examined in RBI and a view has been
taken to facilitate meaningful restructuring of MSME accounts that have
become stressed,” RBI said.
GST collection declines twice in a row
The government’s collections from the Goods and Services Tax (GST)
declined for the second month in a row to Rs. 94,726 crore in December,
official data released on Tuesday showed.
Collections declined from the Rs. 97,637 crore in November, which
was itself lower than the Rs. 1,00,710 crore collected in October.
“This may deter the government from rationalising the rate of
goods left in the 28% category like cement, auto parts, etc, in the short
term,” Mr. Jain a tax expert added.
The GST Council had in its 31st meeting in December cut rates on
17 items and six types of services, leaving just one common use item —
cement — in the 28% tax bracket. The new rates took effect from January 1,
“While the December collections are lesser than October (where it
exceeded Rs. 1 lakh crore) and November, overall average collection for
2018-19 has shown marked improvement over 2017-18,” Pratik Jain, partner and
leader, indirect tax, PwC India, said.
This, coupled with decent growth in income tax collections, gives
a clear indication that the tax base is expanding.”
Mr. Jain said the next couple of months may also see similar
collections, which means that the central government might want to come up
with a “more realistic” estimate of GST collections for next year.
In a peace overture, India has asked Islamabad to take back dozens
of Pakistani nationals who have completed jail terms here. The Indian
request came in the context of the exchange of the lists of prisoners in
both countries that took place on the first day of the new year.
Out of the total number of Indian prisoners in Pakistan, Delhi has
asked Islamabad to release 17 Indian civilian prisoners and 369 Indian
fishermen whose nationality has been confirmed.
The MEA said India has shared details of the reconstituted Joint
Judicial Committee and of the medical professionals who are expected to
visit Pakistan to help the elderly and mentally unsound Indian prisoners in
Activists have welcomed the bilateral move, saying this will help
long suffering prisoners in each other’s custody. Peace activist Jatin Desai
of Pakistan-India Peoples’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD reiterated
that both countries in fact claim that the exact number of prisoners in each
other’s custody is “a bit higher” than the official numbers shared.
The exchange of lists comes despite continued military tension,
which has, however, not dampened humanitarian moves by both sides. In
December 2018, Pakistan sent back Indian prisoner Hamid Nehal Ansari who had
completed both regular and irregular prison terms. India subsequently
released Pakistani Imran Warsi, who was awaiting repatriation after serving
a jail term.