thehindu.com 2018-11-28 17:37:00
02 23:07 IST more-in The government's maternity benefit programme must be implemented better and comply with the Food Security Act Yashoda Devi was five months pregnant with her third child when we met her in Jharkhand in June. She was in extreme pain. The doctor had told her that she was very weak and had advised her to improve her nutritional intake. But Ms. Devi did not have money to follow the doctor's advice. Not serving its purpose Ms. Devi was one of the 98 women we interviewed in the course of a small survey in 12 villages spread across two blocks of Jharkhand: Manika in Latehar district and Khunti in Khunti district. We enquired about the financial and physical hardships experienced by the respondents during pregnancy and delivery, and also studied the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), a maternity benefit programme, nearly one year after it was officially launched. Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) of 2013, every pregnant woman is entitled to maternity benefits of â‚¹6,000, unless she is already receiving similar benefits as a government employee or under other laws. The PMMVY was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 31, 2016. Unfortunately, it violates the NFSA in several ways. First, the benefits have been reduced from â‚¹6,000 to â‚¹5,000 per child. Second, they are now restricted to the first living child. Third, they are further restricted to women above the age of 18 years. The scheme largely defeats the purpose it is supposed to serve: according to a recent analysis, it excludes more than half of all pregnancies because first-order births account for only 43% of all births in India. In our sample, less than half of the women met the PMMVY eligibility criteria. Among those who were eligible, a little over half had applied for maternity benefits. The application process is cumbersome and exclusionary: a separate form has to be filled, signed and submitted for each of the three instalments, along with a copy of the applicant's mother-child protection card, her Aadhaar card, her husband's Aadhaar card, and the details of a bank account linked to her Aadhaar number. The compulsory linking of the applicant's bank account with Aadhaar often causes problems. Further, the PMMVY provides little assistance to women who lose their baby, because the successive payments are made only if the corresponding conditionalities are met. Many hardships The worst form of hardship reported by pregnant women in our sample, among those related to lack of funds, was the inability to improve their nutritional intake or even to eat properly during pregnancy. Ms. Devi, during and before her second pregnancy, was working in someone else's field where she was paid in kind (5 kg of grain per day). This time, as she was in pain, she was unable to work for wages during her pregnancy. This reduced the family's income, already strained by the last delivery's debts when they had to spend more than â‚¹12,000 by borrowing and selling assets. Ms. Devi said that if she had received maternity benefits under the PMMVY, she could have used the money to take care of her health and eat nutritious food as advised by the doctor. Like her, 42% of respondents in the sub-sample of women who were working for wages before pregnancy with an average wage of â‚¹126 per day of work could not work during their pregnancy and earned zero wages. In our sample, on average, respondents spent â‚¹8,272 on their deliveries alone. Half of the respondents who had spent money during delivery or pregnancy said that they had to borrow money to meet the expenses. It was also common for the families of the respondents to sell assets or migrate to cover these costs. The PMMVY could help protect poor families from these financial contingencies. The provision for maternity entitlements in the NFSA is very important for women who are not employed in the formal sector. The PMMVY, however, undermines this provision due to the dilution of the entitled amount and the exclusion criteria. Even in this restricted form, the scheme is yet to reach eligible women as the implementation record has been dismal till date. In our sample, 30 women had applied for maternity benefits, but none of them had actually received any PMMVY money. No doubt some women did receive PMMVY benefits in both districts by June (this was confirmed by the block offices), but the numbers were so small that none of them emerged in our sample. The scheme seems to be achieving very little for now, in Jharkhand at least. There is an urgent need for better implementation as well as for compliance of the scheme with the NFSA. Maternity benefits should be raised to â‚¹6,000 per child at least, for all pregnancies and not just the first living child. Aditi Priya is an MA student at the Delhi School of Economics
thehindu.com 2018-11-25 19:39:00
November 26, 2018 01:09 26, 2018 01:09 IST more-in The neighbouring State has not banned consignments from other States: Minister Revenue Minister R.V. Deshpande said here on Sunday that as per his understanding the Goa government has not banned fish from other States, including Karnataka, but was only insisting on fishermen producing certificate from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for selling fish in that State. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Deshpande, who is also in-charge Minister of Uttara Kannada, said that he spoke to Goa's Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on November 21 over the issue. Mr. Rane told Mr. Deshpande that Goa gets fish from many States. Fish arriving in Goa from other States is not fresh. In addition, there is an issue over formalin coated fish arriving in Goa from other States. It is posing a threat to the health of the people. Hence, Goa has asked those who send fish to it to produce quality certificate from the Food Department and not banned fish from other States. Mr. Deshpande said that as the matter is related to a risk to the health of the people as they may be forced to consume chemically coated fish, all should support the decision taken by the Goa government. It has taken the decision in the interest of all. The Revenue Minister said that he called a meeting of fishermen in Karwar on November 22 in this regard. All fishermen have agreed to maintain standards. He believed that fishermen from the State do not send formalin-coated fish to Goa and do not mix any chemical with ice while sending consignments to other States. He said that Kerala and Andhra Pradesh too send fish to other States. There is nothing wrong in obtaining certificate from FSSAI. If one got certificate, it might fetch more rate as the quality is certified. There will also be no threat to the health of the people. Meanwhile, a delegation of MLAs from fishing areas in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kanada to be led by Nalin Kumar Kateel, Member of Parliament, is scheduled to visit Goa on November 27 to discuss the issue. Mr. Kateel told The Hindu that the delegation will meet Goa's Speaker, Health and Fisheries Ministers and discuss the issue.
thehindu.com 2018-11-25 19:31:00
November 26, 2018 01:01 26, 2018 01:01 IST more-in A task force police team here on Sunday arrested four persons, who were conducting raids on hotels as Food Safety Department officials. They seized fake certificates of the Civil Supplies Corporation, the A.P. Pollution Control Board and the Food Safety Department; rubber stamps, ID cards, a car and â‚¹4,590 from their possession. On a tip-off that the impersonators were visiting hotels and collecting money, the task force, led by Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) G. Rajiv Kumar, arrested four persons - Vajjala Srinivas Kumar, Lokam Balaji, Attamui Kiran Kumar, of Vidyadharapuram here and Kaligiti Kiran Kumar - of Tadepalli in Guntur district. The accused were checking samples of food items and collecting fines by issuing fake receipts. Srinivas Kumar, who was arrested on the charge earlier by the Vuyyur police, was acting as a food inspector and the remaining were pretending to be attenders and a car driver, the police said. The Bhavanipuram police the accused into custody.
thehindu.com 2018-11-25 17:49:00
November 25, 2018 23:19 23:19 IST more-in But some gaps remain; expectations are high in new regime A year after implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the system is getting streamlined for the intended purpose of achieving the objective of 'One nation one tax'. In the excise regime, multiple tax systems had increased administrative costs for manufacturers and distributors. With GST in place, the compliance burden has eased. GST brought in developments and changed the way businesses conducted themselves. It is commendable on the part of the GST Council to arrive at decisions on a consistent basis, despite differences of opinion among various sectors and political parties. The textile sector is one of the oldest and largest in the country and a major contributor to the development of the economy. The industry employs both skilled and unskilled manpower and contributes over 10% of the total annual exports of the country, which is likely to increase under the GST regime. Tax burden declines Many from the textile industry have stated that the overall tax burden has come down for the sector to 18% from 20% and that the new system has also increased transparency in the sector, which provides employment to 45 million people. A majority of the Indian industry functions in the unorganised sector or the composition scheme, creating a gap in the flow of input tax credit (ITC). If a registered taxpayer procures the input from taxpayers under the composition scheme or the unorganised sector, ITC will not be allowed for him. With the implementation of GST, the input credit system has smoothly shifted the balance towards the organised sector. By subsuming different taxes such as entry tax, luxury tax and octroi, the costs for manufacturers will be reduced in the textile industry. For textile mills, the import cost of the latest technology to manufacture textile goods is expensive because the excise duty paid for the same was not allowed in ITC. Under GST, ITC is available for all the tax paid on capital goods. The process of claiming ITC is simplified in GST, which allows the textile sector to be competitive in the export market. Expectations are high on three counts. First, yarn now attracts 5% GST and the machinery to manufacture yarn attracts 18%. This is uneven. Yarn manufacturers will be left with a huge input credit which they won't be able to utilise. There is no provision under GST to get such accumulated credit as refund for capital goods. This will contribute to dead investment for the textile industry over several years. Second, a foreign manufacturing company is now permitted to set up a unit without any investment from the domestic market, bring in 100% of their share, and repatriate profit to their countries. This has made the domestic textile machinery manufacturing companies to compete in an unfavourable environment. To safeguard the domestic industry's interest, government should create a level-playing field which will pave the way for 'Make in India' to prosper. It also keeps domestic industries healthy and facilitates a healthy employment environment. Also, more incentives must be given to the textile sector to help explore the export market at competitive prices. Finally, a simplified procedure is needed in the e-way bill legislation to ease transportation of goods by minimising documentation, physical verification and the like. (The author is Deputy Chairman, CII Southern Region & Chairman & Managing Director, Lakshmi Machine Works Ltd.)
thehindu.com 2018-11-20 02:48:00
November 20, 2018 08:18 08:18 IST more-in Officials of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India seized 830 kg of banned tobacco products from Telungupalayam here on Monday. The seized products are worth more than â‚¹10 lakh. According to FSSAI officials, the stock of prohibited tobacco products was found in a warehouse belonged to Chinnadurai on Bharathi Road near Telungupalayam. He had rented out the warehouse to Govind Singh, a native of Rajasthan. The owner had rented out the facility to Singh for 11 months in October. Designated Officer of FSSAI B. Vijayalalithambigai said that the warehouse was sealed by the FSSAI team late on Sunday based on specific information regarding the stock of banned tobacco products. "The sealed warehouse was opened on Monday and the tobacco products were taken into custody. Samples of the seized products have been taken for analysis," she said. The seized tobacco products were found in packets, each priced at â‚¹150. But the dealer had been selling them at higher rates.
thehindu.com 2018-11-19 19:41:00
November 20, 2018 01:11 01:11 IST more-in Members of the Udupi District Beedi Workers Federation and South Kanara Beedi Workers Federation staged a dharna in front of the Ganesh Beedi Company at Santhekatte here on Monday demanding that minimum wages be implemented for beedi workers. Addressing the protestors, Balakrishna Shetty, labour leader, said that a committee formed by the State government had decided that beedi workers should be given a minimum wage of â‚¹ 210 for every 1,000 beedis rolled. As per the recommendation of this committee, the State government had fixed minimum wages at â‚¹ 210. The representatives of both the owners of beedi companies and beedi workers had participated in this committee's proceedings. But the owners of the beedi companies had not implemented this decision of the government. By doing so, they had done injustice to the beedi workers. So far, three phases of agitations against the violation of the decision by the beedi companies had been carried out. This was the fourth phase of the agitation being launched by the beedi workers in front of the depots of various beedi companies, he said. Besides not paying minimum wages, the companies had not paid Dearness Allowance of â‚¹ 12.75 per 1,000 beedis since April 1, 2015. This had resulted in the beedi workers losing a lot of money. The dissatisfaction among beedi workers was rising on these issues with every passing day. Hence, both the federations wanted the beedi companies to implement minimum wages for beedi workers from April 1, 2018. They should pay the pending Dearness Allowance to the workers from April 1, 2015. The beedi workers should have work only for six days in a week. If this was not possible, they should be paid as per provisions in Labour Laws. If these demands were not met, the federations would not hesitate to intensify their agitation, Mr. Shetty said. Shantha Nayak, presdient of Udupi Taluk Beedi Labour Union, Shashikala, secretary, Mahabala Voderhobli, president of District Beedi Workers Federation, Umesh Kundar, secretary, K. Lakshman, treasurer, K.V. Bhat, president of district unit of South Kanara Beedi Workers Federation, were present.
thehindu.com 2018-11-19 18:58:00
28 28 IST more-in Around 78% of all the milk samples analysed by a consumer sector NGO were found to have fallen short of the standard quality. According to the Consumer Guidance Society of India (CGSI), the milk samples "” branded as well as non-branded "” did not meet the specifications of the Food Standard and Safety Authority of India (FSSAI). The CGSI tested a total of 690 (228 branded and 462 unbranded) samples collected from across the State from January to October this year. Of the total, only 151 or 21.88% samples complied with the standards. "We have tested the samples for the presence of the required contents. We have not carried out chemical testing to detect the adulterants," said Dr. Sitaram Dixit, chairman of CGSI. 'Mainly diluted' He said the samples that were not of standard quality were mainly diluted. "The required content of milk fat and milk solids not fat [SNF] was below the requirements set by the FSSAI." According to the FSSAI, raw, pasteurised, boiled, flavoured and sterilised cow milk should contain 3.2% milk fat and 8.3% SNF, while buffalo milk should contain 6% milk fat and 9% SNF. Dr. Dixit said, "All the samples we tested had much lower content of milk fat and SNF, suggesting severe dilution." He said the tests were carried out with the help of an electronic milk analyser called Lactoscan-S. It can test fat content, protein content, SNF, water content and lactose in the milk.
thehindu.com 2018-11-04 19:39:00
November 05, 2018 01:09 05, 2018 01:09 IST more-in It will be used to revive Orchid Pharma The Chennai Bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has directed Ingen Capital Group LCC, which was selected to take over Orchid Pharma Ltd, to deposit â‚¹334 crore, which is one-third of the amount due to lenders, within five days. In August 2017, the NCLT ordered insolvency proceedings against Orchid in a case filed by the Lakshmi Vilas Bank. The company owed â‚¹3,200 crore to a consortium of 24 banks. The company figured in the second RBI list that had the names of 28 large defaulters. In September 2018, the committee of creditors approved the resolution plan from Ingen Capital for the revival of Orchid Pharma. As a part of the resolution plan, Ingen agreed to bring â‚¹1,060 crore as upfront payment within 30 days from the date of the approval of plan, which is September 17, 2018. However, the NCLT noted that from the submission made by the Resolution Professional and banks, till date, not even a single rupee had come from Ingen. 'Free to take action' The Bench said that if the company were to be saved from falling into liquidation, it was essential on the part of Ingen to deposit â‚¹334 crore, which was one-third of the amount due to lenders, as sought by the Resolution Professional, within five days from the date of its order on November 2. The amount would be kept in an escrow account as security of performance of obligations by Ingen and would be adjusted against the final amount of â‚¹1,060 crore, the NCLT said. If the amount was not deposited, the Resolution Professional was at liberty to take up further action, it added.
thehindu.com 2018-11-04 02:50:00
November 04, 2018 08:20 04, 2018 08:20 IST more-in As the festival of light is just around the corner, the Food Safety Department on Saturday inspected small and large manufacturing units to check the quality of sweets and savouries sold. Officials of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) seized sweets that were made with artificial colourants beyond the permissible limit and lifted samples for laboratory examination. B. Vijayalalithambigai, designated Officer of FSSAI in Coimbatore, said that 68.5 kg of sweets that were found with excessive use of artificial colourants were seized during the inspections. The foods safety officers also seized 35 litre of reused oil and 13 kg of packaged sweets and savouries that did not have label as mandated by the FSSAI Act. "Notices have been served to nine shops during the inspections for various violations. We have lifted four samples that will be sent to a Government laboratory for examination," said Ms. Vijayalalithambigai.
thehindu.com 2018-11-01 02:21:00
November 01, 2018 07:51 IST Updated: November 01, 2018 07:51 IST more-in Government to do away with different codes to each district The government has decided to do away with district-wise codes for registration of vehicles and introduce a single code across the State. At present, the codes 1 to 38 are being given for identifying the vehicle with the district where it is registered. The government, with a slogan 'One State-One code', is contemplating introducing the single code for the entire State and has decided to introduce 39 as the code for all new registrations hereafter. It is expecting that it would help in addressing the problem of providing false address by vehicle owners. The series with T, U, V, W, X and Y, however, would exclusively continue for the transport vehicles (including tractor-trailers). The APSRTC vehicles and all the series starting with 'Z' Police Department Vehicles under '9' starting with 'P' would continue. The government has already issued a preliminary notification. After receiving suggestions, a final notification would be issued. A G.O.) would follow it. But, code only would change to 39, Transport Minister K. Atchannaidu told the media on Wednesday. Auction of numbers He said there was a possibility of increasing revenue through auction of fancy numbers. The new system would not impact easy identification of vehicle owners or registered address as everything has been digitalised. Previously, the registrations used to be entered into records manually. So, the codes were introduced to identify the district etc., he explained. Transport Commissioner Balasubrahmanyam said the availability of fancy numbers would also be more. Last year, the auction fetched â‚¹2.98 crore, he said. The Minister said the government has decided to release â‚¹335 crore EPF dues of RTC staff.