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Assam

Northeast flood situation grim, Army help sought

 
Floods wreak havoc in Northeast India
 
 
The flood situation in the Northeast continued to be grim on Thursday with at least nine people losing their lives and thousands displaced in Assam, Manipur and Tripura, where the state governments have sought Armys help in rescue operations.
 
Two people lost their lives in a landslide in a remote location in Assam's Dima Hasao district and one person died in Golaghat due to floods even as a total of 1,66,836 people are marooned in seven districts of the state. 
 
This is the first wave of floods to hit the state this year and according to Disaster Management Department officials, 370 villages were submerged by floods since Wednesday evening. The districts of Hojai, Cachar, Golaghat, Hailakandi, Karimganj, and East and West Karbi Anglong have been affected.
 
Three major rivers are flowing above the danger mark at different places, officials said.
 
While Dhansiri river is flowing over the danger level at Numaligarh in Golaghat, Barak river is flowing above Cachar followed by Badarpurghat at Karimganj, and at Matizuri in Hailakandi. Kushiyara river is flowing above danger level in Karimganj district, the officials said. 
 
The state government has pressed National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force teams into service in the affected areas for search and rescue operation. NDRF sources said that 422 persons have been rescued in from Karimganj, Hailakandi, Cacahar and Golaghat as on Thursday. 
 
Over 36,000 people are living in 115 relief camps in the flood-affected districts.
 
Train traffic has been affected following landslides triggered by incessant rains for past few days. 
 
Northeast Frontier Railway's Chief Public Relations Officer P.J. Sharma said at least four trains have been suspended due to the landslides, which have occurred in at least five locations in the Lumding-Badarpur hill section.
 
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Thursday sought the Army's assistance in rescue operations in the flood-hit state as incessant rains continued for the third day leading to floods and landslides -- forcing some 50,000 people to take shelter in relief camps and claiming four lives.
 
Deb informed Union Home Minister Rajanth Singh in a telephonic conversation on Thursday morning of the situation and apprised him of the steps taken by the state government. 
 
He also requested the Home Minister to "urgently" increase the number of National Disaster Response Force personnel in the state. 
 
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An official statement said the Centre has assured all the necessary support to Tripura to deal with the flood situation, while asking Army Chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat, to take necessary action.
 
Meanwhile, an official of the Tripura Disaster Management Control Centre said that around 50,000 people of over 10,000 families took shelter in around 200 relief camps in different parts of the state mostly in northern Tripura.
 
"At least four people, including two aged men and a teenager, died across Tripura since Tuesday due to landslides, falling trees or fishing in flooded rivers," the official said.
 
"We have kept ready a Pawan Hans helicopter and sent requisition to the Indian Air Force (IAF) to provide two more copters to rescue marooned people and to provide relief to the affected families if necessary."
 
He said that IAF helicopters on Wednesday and Thursday could not fly from Silchar in southern Assam due to bad weather.
 
The Disaster Management official said that the situation in northern Tripura's Unokoti district deteriorated after three old embankments of the Manu River were breached.
 
Waters of many rivers of Tripura are flowing over the danger levels. Flood waters inundated many villages, homes, paddy fields highways besides low-lying areas. 
 
Landslides have occurred in many highways affecting movement of traffic.
 
In Manipur, two persons including a 7-year-old boy drowned in Thoubal district. 
 
Four members of a family in Chajing in Imphal west district were trapped in the second floor of their submerged house. The government has requested the Army to rescue them. 
 
Chief Minister N.Biren Singh supervised the repairing works of the breached banks of the Imphal river on Wednesday, said officials, adding that he left only when the breached bank was repaired. 
 
Several houses and paddy fields in Thoubal district have been inundated from Thursday morning. Flood waters are running across the state and national highways. Officials said that more areas in the Imphal east and west districts had been inundated. 
 
The NH 37 linking Manipur with Assam was severely damaged near Sinam village in Noney district. Due to landslide and massive depressions along this highway triggered by the rains the vehicles cannot ply. Most of the drivers had turned back to come along the NH 2 that passes through Nagaland. 
 
IANS
 
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Train services suspended in Assam's hill section due to landslide

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Running of trains has been affected in the Lumding-Badarpur hill section of Assam following landslides triggered by incessant rains for the past few days.
 
Chief Public Relations Officer of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) P.J. Sharma said at least four trains have been suspended due to the landslides, which have occurred in at least five locations in the hill section -- between Dautohaja and Phiding, Phiding station yard, between Phiding and Mahur, between Jatingalampur and New Harangajao and between two tunnels on the stretch.
 
"The landslides occurred between 1.30 a.m. and 3.30 a.m.," Sharma said.
 
As a result, the Guwahati-Silchar Fast passenger is controlled at Lumding, followed by Sealdah-Silchar Kanchanjungha Express to be controlled at Lumding.
 
"Silchar-Guwahati Fast passenger has been cancelled on date. Agartala-Sealdah Kanchanjunga Express to be controlled in Badarpur," he said adding there is, however, no passenger train stranded within the affected section.
 
"Although the extent of damage is yet to be fully ascertained, restoration work has already started in all affected locations," the NFR CPRO said.
 
The Divisional Railway Manager of Lumding is already at the site monitoring the situation, Sharma said adding work is on to restart the train services as early as possible.
 
IANS
 
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16 arrested for lynching youths in Assam, CM holds review meet

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The Assam Police has arrested 16 persons in connection with the lynching of two Guwahati-based youths in Karbi Anglong district by villagers who mistook them to be child abductors, authorities said on Sunday.
 
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwala said that police was on the lookout for more people involved in the Friday evening incident.
 
Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath were brutally killed by a mob near Kathilangso waterfall. The incident has been widely condemned.
 
Agarwala said that the situation in Dokmoka, where the killings took place, was under control. 
 
"There was tension in the area following the incident but it is under control now," he said.
 
"In four to five villages around Dokmoka, fake posts went viral on social media about 'xopadhara' or child abductors in the area. Preliminary investigation says that the people in the area suspected the two youths as child lifters and attacked them.
 
"We appeal to people not to believe rumours and social media posts. We also appeal to the people to inform the police immediately if they find anyone spreading rumours and hate messages," Agarwala added.
 
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal later in the day held a high-level meeting to take stock of the law and order situation in the state.
 
Sonowal asked Director General of Police Kuladhar Saikia to ensure police vigil on all activities and to put an end to canards likely to vitiate public order and peace.
 
He said that no leniency should be shown to the culprits. 
 
Chief Secretary T.Y. Das and Saikia told the media after the meeting that the state government had taken the lynchings very seriously.
 
"While 15 were arrested for their involvement in killing, one person was arrested for posting objectionable and fake information on the social media while the mob fury was on on Friday," the DGP said.
 
The officer also appealed to the people not to pay heed to rumours. "We have instructed police in all Assam districts to take action against those spreading rumours," he said.
 
A team headed by Additional DGP Harmeet Singh has been set up to strengthen web monitoring.
 
IANS
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Centre to consider concerns of Assam people before Citizenship Bill: Sonowal

Sarbananda Sonowal (File photo: IANS)
Sarbananda Sonowal (File photo: IANS)
The Centre has assured the people of Assam that their concerns will be taken into consideration before taking any decision on amendment to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, the state's Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said on Wednesday.
 
Sonowal told the media that he got this assurance from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during a long meeting on Wednesday, a day after thousands of people participated in a mass hunger strike in Assam to protest against the bill. 
 
"There should be no apprehension in the minds of the people of Assam about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. The Centre has given an assurance that concerns of the people of Assam will be allayed before taking any step. All stakeholders will be consulted," Sonowal said.
 
The All Assam Students Union, supported by at least 28 other organisations including the Asom Gana Parishad, a partner of the BJP-led government in Assam, and the Congress on Tuesday staged protests in Guwahati warning of a massive agitation in case the Centre and the state went ahead with the passage and implementation of the bill.
 
Protests have become the order of the day in Assam since a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, visited the state this month. 
 
The bill aims to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees who have fled from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan following persecution. However, in Assam, several indigenous groups view it as a move to legitimise Hindu migration from Bangladesh after 1971. 
 
United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) has also threatened to derail the peace accord with the Central government over the issue related to the bill by conveying its strong opposition to government interlocutor A.B. Mathur during a meeting in New Delhi last week. Ulfa suspects the bill would reduce the indigenous people in Assam to a minority. 
 
Sonowal also said all efforts would be made to address the concerns of people of Assam in this regard.
 
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He also requested Rajnath Singh to set up a committee to make recommendations for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord which provides for constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese people.
 
"The Home Minister assured Assam Chief Minister that a committee will be set up at the earliest in consultation with the state government," a Home Ministry statement said.
 
The meeting discussed various administrative and security arrangements related to the updation exercise of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) as per the orders of the Supreme Court. A massive exercise to update the NRC was being carried out in Assam following a directive of the Supreme Court in 2005.
 
Issues related to arrangements required to dispose of claims and objections after publication of the next draft NRC on June 30 was also discussed in the meeting, the statement said.
 
It was emphasised that adequate opportunity be given to people in this regard and necessary arrangements made to avoid any inconvenience to public. It should be ensured that claims and objections are disposed of as per law, and in a proper manner, it said.
 
According to the statement, the meeting also emphasised that a strong information, education and communication campaign be launched to inform people about the process of filing claims and objections after publication of final draft NRC.
 
IANS
 
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Australian tourist falls to death from Assam hotel

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An Australian tourist fell to his death from a hotel in Assam capital Guwahati, police said on Sunday.
 
William Marinus fell from the third floor of the hotel around 11.20 p.m. on Saturday.
 
"Four Australians and an Indian, including William, were staying in our hotel. They checked in around 3 p.m. on Saturday after returning from Shillong," said a hotel staff.
 
"They were having a room party when we got a call around 11.20 about an accident. Hotel staff called emergency service personnel, who said William had already died."
 
Police said that a case of unnatural death was registered and an investigation launched to find out the circumstances leading to his death.
 
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CCEA okays expansion, upgrading of integrated terminals at Chennai, Guwahati, Lucknow airports

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today gave its approval for the expansion and upgrading of integrated terminals at Chennai, Guwahati and Lucknow Airports, at a cost of Rs 2467 crore, Rs 1383 crore and Rs 1232 crore, respectively.
 
An official press release said the new integrated terminal at Lucknow airport will have an area of 88,000 sq.m, along with the existing terminal building with 16292 sq.m, with an annual capacity to handle 2.6 million international and 11 million domestic passengers.
 
The new terminal building will cater to passenger growth up to the year 2030-31, the release said.
 
Total built-up area of the proposed terminal building at Chennai airport, including the present proposal measuring 197000 sq.m, will be 336000 sq.m with an annual capacity to handle 35 million passengers per annum (MPPA). The new terminal building incorporates green building features with an aim to achieve GRIHA-4 Star rating. The building will cater to the requirement of passenger growth up to the year 2026-27, it said.
 
The new terminal building at Guwahati airport will have an area of 102500 sqm to handle combined annual capacity (old and new terminals) of 9 MPPA. The building would cater to the requirement of passenger growth up to the year 2026-27. This will encourage investment and tourism in North East Region with thrust on ‘Act East’ Policy, it said.
 
According to the release, India has witnessed phenomenal growth rate in the range of 18 to 20% in the last three years in the aviation sector. According to IATA Traffic Study, India, at 7th position as of now, is likely to take the 3rd position by 2023-24 by overtaking the UK, Japan, Spain and Germany. The current rate of the growth in the domestic aviation sector of India is the highest globally.
 
To meet the growing demand, the Government has launched a new initiative of NABH Nirman (NextGen Airports for Bharat), wherein systems and processes are geared to provide enhanced airport capacity to handle 1 billion trips in the next 10 to 15 years.
 
Airport capacity upgrading and expansion require both the development of new greenfield airports and expansion of existing brownfield airports and same will be funded by the Indian private sector and Airports Authority of India by leveraging its balance sheet.
 
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Airports Authority of India is in the process of implementing plans for development of infrastructure to meet growing aviation demand by creating additional capacity at AAI Airports including Chennai, Guwahati, Lucknow, Agartala, Patna, Srinagar, Pune, Trichy, Vijayawada, Port Blair, Jaipur, Mangalore, Dehradun, Jabalpur, Kolhapur, Goa, Rupsi, Leh, Calicut, Imphal, Varanasi and Bhubaneswar with a capex of Rs 20,178 crore in the next 4 to 5 years.
 
AAI has already awarded the works at Agartala, Calicut and Port Blair towards construction of new state-of-the-art integrated terminals and is in the process of awarding the works for upgrading and expansion of capacity at Chennai, Lucknow and Guwahati Airports.
 
Similarly, upgrading of airside capacity by way of strengthening and extension of runways, construction of new apron bays has been taken up to cater to the demand from airline operators who have placed confirmed orders for almost 900 aircraft in the coming 10 years.
 
Under New Greenfield Airport Policy, many major cities are expected to have multiple airports. The government has granted approval for Noida International Airport (Jewar), Mopa (Goa), Purandar Airport (Pune), Bhogapuram Airport (Visakhapatnam), Dholera Airport (Ahmedabad) and Hirasar Airport (Rajkot).
 
Capex outlay of Rs 50,000 crore is expected in the development of New Greenfield Airports, wherein approval of Government of India has been given. In the private sector also, upgrading and expansion are in the offing for Delhi and Bengaluru, Hyderabad Airports at a cost of Rs 25,000 crore in the next five years, the release added.
 
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CCEA okays revised cost estimates of updation of National Register of Citizens, 1951 in Assam

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved the revised cost estimates (RCE) of the scheme of Updation of National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951 in Assam at a cost of Rs. 1220.93 crore upto December 31, 2018.
 
The scheme of NRC, 1951 is specific to the state of Assam covering about 3.29 crore applicants.
 
An official press release said the exercise would help in preparation of National Register of Citizens in Assam. The proposed date for publication of final NRC is December 31, 2018.
 
A part Draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), Assam covering 1.90 crore persons out of 3.29 crore applicants was published on December 31, 2017 including names of those applicants in respect of whom the entire process of verification has been completed.
 
The verification of remaining applicants is at various stages of scrutiny and the complete draft NRC will be published by June 30, 2018, whereafter claims and objections will be received and disposed of, leading to the publication of the final NRC, the release said.
 
The NRC Assam is being updated as per the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. It will include persons whose names appear in any of the electoral rolls upto the midnight of 24th March, 1971 or National Register of Citizens, 1951 and their descendants.
 
The release said 3.29 crore persons have applied along with 6.63 crore documents in 2015 for inclusion of their names in NRC. Thereafter extensive field and document verification has been done in respect of each applicant.
 
The actual implementation of NRC update is done by the Statutory Authorities i.e.Local Registrars and District Magistrates appointed by the State Government. A senior official of the State Government functions as State Coordinator and coordinates with the RGI/Government of India in regard to various activities.
 
The NRC update work is done under the supervision and control of the Registrar General of Citizen Registration (RGI). The administrative and operational matters are handled by the State Government as per their extant rules.
 
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The preparation of NRC is the most extensive citizen engaging exercise, which touches the life of every resident of Assam. It is part of the action for the fulfilment of Assam Accord and understanding arrived in a tripartite meeting held in 2005 at the level of Prime Minister. The National Register of Citizens, Assam will contain the names of genuine Indian citizens and will help the government to check illegal immigration in India, the release said.
 
The NRC Assam, the Register containing names of Indian Citizens in Assam, was prepared in 1951 as a non-statutory process by recording particulars of all the persons enumerated during 1951 Census. The Assam agitation (1979-85) against the illegal foreigners led to the signing of Assam Accord on 15th August 1985 between the Central Government, State Government, All India Students' Union (AASU) and All Assam Gan Sangram Parishad (AAGSP), which stipulated 24th March, 1971 as the cut-off date for identification and deportation of illegal migrants from East Pakistan (Bangladesh). Accordingly, the Citizenship Act, 1955 was amended by inserting section 6A as special provisions for Assam.
 
In a tripartite meeting of the Central Government, State Government and AASU chaired by the Prime Minister in May, 2005, it was agreed to update NRC, 1951. The modalities were approved by the Government of India in consultation with the Government of Assam.
 
In pursuance of the Supreme Court's direction, the exercise of NRC update in Assam commenced in December 2013 to be completed over a period of three years. The Supreme Court is continuously monitoring the progress of NRC update and has given various directions from time to time, the release added.
 
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Union Home Secretary holds meeting with Chief Secretaries of Assam, Mizoram on inter-State border issue

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Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba held a meeting of the Chief Secretaries of Assam and Mizoram on the inter-State border issue in the context of recent incidents at Bairabi on March 8 and 10.
 
The Chief Secretary of Assam, Ms. T. Y. Das and the Chief Secretary of Mizoram, Mr. Arvind Ray stated the position of their respective State Governments on the issue of construction of a shed at Kachurtal near Bairabi. 
 
Both State Governments reiterated their commitment to maintain peace and resolve the issues amicably, an official press release said.
 
"It was decided in the meeting to maintain status quo at the spot. Assembly of people at the site will not be allowed. Both the Governments of Assam and Mizoram will take all measures to maintain peace in their respective areas," the release said.
 
It was unanimously decided that a team comprising Joint Secretary (North-East), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Principal Secretaries (Home) of Mizoram and Assam will visit the area within a week. This team will be assisted by officials of Survey of India in its work. The team will submit its findings to the Union Home Secretary which will be discussed in a follow-up meeting with the Chief Secretaries of the two States. 
 
Thereafter, a meeting will be convened by the Union Home Minister with the Chief Ministers of Assam and Mizoram, the release added.
 
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Union Home Secretary convenes meeting of Assam, Mizoram Chief Secretaries on March 20 on border issue

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has stated that a meeting of the Chief Secretaries of Assam and Mizoram will be held here next week to discuss the inter-State border issue.
 
The meeting of Chief Secretaries of the two States has been convened by the Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on March 20.
 
Mr. Rajnath Singh also wrote a letter to Mizoram Chief Minister Lalthanhawla, in response to a communication from him regarding the Bairabi incident of March 9. 
 
The State Governments of Mizoram and Assam must take all possible measures to maintain peace and public order. The outstanding issues between both the States need to be resolved mutually and amicably, he added.
 
The Union Home Minister has expressed the hope that the State Governments of Mizoram and Assam will take all steps to defuse the situation and prevent assembly of people at Bairabi.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Karbi Anglong region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, shook the Karbi Anglong region of Assam in the early hours of today.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.5 N and longitude 93.4 E, occurred at 0211 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Sonitpur region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Sonitpur region of Assam today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The  quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.8°N and longitude 92.7°E, occurred at 1524 hours at a focal depth of 18 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Karbi Anglong region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Karbi Anglong region of Assam today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.2°N and longitude 92.9°E, occurred at 1512 hours at a focal depth of 25 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Two pilots die as IAF's microlight aircraft crashes in Assam

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Two pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) died when an IAF Microlight Virus SW-80 crashed around noon today, after getting airborne from Air Force Station Jorhat in Assam for a routine sortie.
 
"Two pilots, Wg Cdr J James and Wg Cdr D Vats, sustained fatal injuries," a press release from the Ministry of Defence said.
 
A court of inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident, the release added.
 
Reports  reaching here said the aircraft crashed at Somoimari in Majuli, one of the largest river islands in the world, in Assam.
 
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Modi says North-East at heart of India's Act East Policy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asserted that the North-East was at the heart of India's Act East Policy, which envisions increased people-to-people contacts, trade ties and other relations with ASEAN countries.
 
North East is at heart of Act East Policy: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asserted that the North-East was at the heart of India's Act East Policy, which envisions increased people-to-people contacts, trade ties and other relations with ASEAN countries.
 
Inaugurating Advantage Assam - Global Investors Summit 2018 here, he recalled the recent ASEAN India Commemorative Summit celebrating 25 years of partnership between ASEAN and India. 
 
He added that ties between India and the ASEAN countries go back thousands of years. He said it was a privilege for India to host the heads of state or government of 10 ASEAN countries as honoured guests at the Republic Day function in New Delhi on January 26.
 
Mr. Modi said India's growth story would be further energised through balanced and fast-paced growth of the North-Eastern region. He said all the schemes of the Union Government are oriented towards bringing about a qualitative change in the lives of the people. He said the aim is to improve "Ease of Living".
 
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The Prime Minister said that the "Ayushman Bharat" scheme announced in the Union Budget on February 1 is the largest scheme of its kind in the world. He said this healthcare scheme would benefit about 45 to 50 crore people. He also mentioned other steps that had been taken by the Union Government for healthcare for the poor.
 
Mr. Modi said the Government was working towards the target of doubling farmers' incomes, by lowering input costs and enabling appropriate price for their produce. He outlined other steps being taken by the Union Government for the welfare of farmers.
 
He mentioned the steps taken to provide affordable housing to people. He spoke of the Ujala Yojana for distribution of LED bulbs, which is resulting in significant savings on household electricity bills. He mentioned the restructuring of the National Bamboo Mission, which he said, is especially significant for the North-East.
 
The Prime Minister said that a revamp of administrative structures within the Union Government has greatly speeded up the implementation of projects.
 
He spoke of steps taken for providing collateral free loans to entrepreneurs, under the Mudra Yojana. He spoke of steps taken in the Union Budget to provide tax relief to MSMEs.
 
Mr. Modi reiterated the commitment of the Union Government to curb corruption and black money. He said Government had taken up many path breaking economic reforms in last three years, which have simplified procedures for doing business. It is a result of these reforms that India today ranks 100 among 190 countries in the Doing Business Report of the World Bank, after climbing up 42 ranks, he added.
 
Quoting the great Assamese musician Bhupen Hazarika, the Prime Minister said it is our collective responsibility to achieve the vision and dreams of our freedom fighters, and create a New India by 2022.
 
He outlined the work done to create new transportation infrastructure in the North-East. He congratulated Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal for creating a business friendly and development friendly environment in Assam.
 
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MoU signed for Twin Tower Trade Centre in Guwahati

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A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed for a Twin Tower Trade Centre between Assam Government and the National Building Construction Corporation here today.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep S Puri said it was part of the Government's “Act East Policy” to elevate and harness the strengths of North-East India and reduce the isolation of the region by improving all-round connectivity and civic infrastructure. 
 
The Union Government has planned an investment to the tune of approximately Rs. 45,000 crore for the development of India's North-Eastern regions bordering China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. 
 
Mr. Puri pointed out that Guwahati is one of the 100 smart cities chosen in a determined bid to recast the urban landscape of the country. It is being established as a Regional Hub for North East India and a world-class city by anchoring and reorienting it towards its natural assets. The proposed Twin Tower Trade Centre will definitively add to this transformational plan, he said.
 
“I am truly excited by the prospects and possibilities this trade centre will generate once established and made operational, by connecting us with South East Nations and being a major trading hub thereby increasing economic interlinkages,” he added.
 
“I do realize, that a vision can only be realized when we have the determination to do our very best, take the right decisions and pursue a mix of policies that create the most appropriate environment to facilitate the realisation of that vision. 
 
“I am aware that NBCC, which comes under my Ministry, is fully equipped with technology, technical capacity, design and intuition to implement this illustrious project and shall proactively work along the lines of sustainable and quality development and deliver the project to Assam on schedule,” he added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Karbi Anglong region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, shook the Karbi Anglong region of Assam in the early hours of today, about 13 hours after another earthquake hit the same region yesterday.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.0°N and longitude 92.3°E, occurred at 0153 hours today at a focal depth of 10 km, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
Earlier, an earthquake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, had been recorded in the same region yesterday.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.1°N and longitude 92.1°E, occurred at 1241 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 20 km.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Karbi Anglong region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, shook the Karbi Anglong region of Assam today.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.1°N and longitude 92.1°E, occurred at 1241 hours at a focal depth of 20 km, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
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Gadkari to visit Majuli Island in Assam on December 29

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Union Minister for Water Resources & River Development Nitin Gadkari will visit Assam on December 29 to lay the foundation stone of protection work of Majuli Island from floods and erosion and construction of the Brahmaputra Board Complex.
 
The Brahmaputra Board under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation was entrusted the work of protection of Majuli Island from floods and erosion in 2004.
 
Since then, the Board has completed execution of Immediate Measures, Phase-I and Emergent Works. About 22.08 sq.km of land has been reclaimed and secured by Brahmaputra Board during the period 2004 to 2016. Phase - II & III are on the verge of completion during 2017-18, an official press release said.
 
To address the issues of erosion in vulnerable reaches and reclaim more land by pro-siltation and other measures in the east-west reach length of about 80 km on south bank, a detailed project report (DPR) was formulated for “Protection of Majuli Island from flood and erosion of river Brahmaputra” as per the recommendations of the Standing Committee of Experts for Majuli Island and Technical Advisory Committee of Brahmaputra Board (TAC- BB).
 
An SFC of Rs 233.57 crore for the work has been approved by the Union Government. The Ministry of DoNER will fund an amount of Rs 207.00 crore under NLCPR mode. The work is under implementation for which the work order has been issued.
 
On the request of the Assam Government, Brahmaputra Board has approved the establishment of an office-cum-residential complex at Majuli. The complex will also include a godown and a skill development centre.
 
The Brahmaputra Board, in its meeting, decided that this work should be executed by NPCC Ltd., a PSU under this Ministry. Consequently, the work of construction of Brahmaputra Board office-cum-residential complex at Majuli has been assigned to NPCC Ltd. The work will be executed in a period of 24 months.
 
During 2016, Majuli was upgraded from a Civil Sub-Division to the status of a District. Protection of Majuli Island from the menace of floods and erosion by Brahmaputra River is thus one of the prime objectives of the State Government, with support from the Centre.
 
The average elevation of the Island is 87 m (at Bessamara) above mean sea level as against the High Flood Level of 88.32 m. The present area of Main Island is about 524 sq-km with a population of 1.68 lakh as per 2011 Census.
 
Majuli Island has been under severe threat of bank erosion by the flow of river Brahmaputra since the formation of the Island and particularly after the Assam earthquake of August 15, 1950.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Dhemaji region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale, shook the Dhemaji region of Assam today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 27.6°N and longitude 94.3°E, occurred at 1150 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Karbi Anglong region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Karbi Anglong region of Assam in the early hours of today.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.4°N and longitude 93.7°E, occurred at 0255 hours at a focal depth of 30 km, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) added.
 
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Naidu asks media to shun sensationalism and slanted reporting

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Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu has asked the media to avoid sensationalism and report news without colouring it with views.
 
Addressing a gathering after giving away Pratidin Achievers Awards 2017, instituted by Sadin Pratidin Group here yesterday, Mr Naidu said such awards will not only motivate the recipients to scale greater heights but also inspire others to excel in their respective fields.
 
“Conferring awards and lauding the achievements of individuals or organizations will create a competitive spirit and help in promoting excellence,” he added.
 
Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal were present at the ceremony. 
 
Mr Naidu complimented the Pratidin Group for instituting the awards to recognize the achievements of individuals from different professions. He said he was happy that the media group has not confined the awards to Assam alone but has conferred them upon achievers from across the North East.
 
 Assam and the other North Eastern States are known for their rich culture, traditions, literature, folk arts and the breathtaking scenic locales. Representing diverse fields, the awardees have not only done themselves proud but the entire North Eastern region and the country also with their achievements, he added.
 
The Vice-President also appealed to such media houses to conduct campaigns and competitions on issues such as ‘Swachh Bharat’ to promote awareness of cleanliness and sanitation.
 
Awareness should also be created on fighting various challenges confronting the nation such as growing atrocities on women, dangers of drug and alcohol addiction, casteism, religious fundamentalism, corruption, illiteracy and terrorism, he added.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in North Cachar Hills region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the North Cachar Hills region of Assam in the early hours of today.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the  quake, which  had its epicentre at laitude  25.2°N and longitude 93.3°E, occurred at 0155 hours at a focal depth of 10 km.
 
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6th International Tourism Mart in Guwahati from December 5-7

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The 6th International Tourism Mart (ITM) will be held in Guwahati, Assam from December 5-7.
 
Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi will inaugurate the Mart in the presence of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union Minister of State for Tourism K J Alphons.
 
The Mart will put the spotlight on India’s “Act East Policy”, its blossoming ties with ASEAN and the larger East Asia region, home to the world’s rapidly growing economies, and India’s emerging tourism markets.
 
Besides deliberations on promotion of tourism in the North East Region, in general, keeping the objectives of the ''Act East Policy” in view, the panel discussions will also focus on promoting cultural ties, people-to-people contact with countries in the ASEAN region and providing enhanced connectivity to the States of North Eastern Region with other countries in the neighbourhood, thereby developing inter-regional tourism.
 
The ITM 2017 will also see an active participation by the Ministry of Development of North East Region (DONER) to synergize the process of development of tourism of the North East Region.
 
ITM is an annual event organised in the North Eastern region with the objective of highlighting the tourism potential of the region in the domestic and international markets. It brings together the tourism business fraternity and entrepreneurs from the eight North Eastern States. The event has been planned and scheduled to facilitate interaction between buyers, sellers, media, Government agencies and other stakeholders.
 
The North East Region of India comprising the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim, is endowed with diverse tourist attractions and products. The varied topography of the region, its flora and fauna, the ethnic communities with their rich heritage of ancient traditions and lifestyles, its festivals, arts and crafts, make it a holiday destination waiting to be explored.
 
Buyer and media delegates from around the world and from different regions of the country are participating in the Mart and will engage in one-to-one meetings with sellers from the North East Region. This will enable the tourism product suppliers from the region to reach out to international and domestic buyers, with the objective of promoting tourism to the region. 
 
A total of 76 foreign buyer delegates from over 29 countries are participating in the event. The countries are Australia, Bhutan, Brunei, Canada, China, Combodia, Cyprus, Fiji, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, USA, UK, Vietnam, Turkey and South Korea.
 
Besides the foreign delegates, 50 domestic stakeholders in the tourism sector from other parts of the country and 86 sellers from the North Eastern States are participating in the Mart. Representatives of State Tourism Departments of these North East States will also be present to showcase their tourism destinations and to interact with the delegates.
 
An exhibition by State Tourism Departments from the North Eastern States including display of beautiful handicrafts and handlooms is also being organised to show case the tourism products of respective participating States.
 
The International Tourism Marts are organised in the North Eastern States on rotation basis. The earlier editions of this mart have been held in Guwahati, Tawang, Shillong, Gangtok and Imphal.
 
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GST Council prunes headings in 28% bracket to 50, cuts tax for restaurants to 5%

In the biggest rejig of the GST regime since it was launched on July 1 this year, the GST Council on Friday decided to prune the 224 tariff headings in the 28% tax bracket to only 50 tariff headings and reduced the tax for restaurants to 5 percent without input tax credit.
Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley addressing a press conference after the 23rd GST Council meeting, at Guwahati on November 10, 2017.
Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley addressing a press conference after the 23rd GST Council meeting, at Guwahati on November 10, 2017.
In the biggest rejig of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime since it was launched on July 1 this year, the GST Council today decided to prune the 224 tariff headings in the 28% tax bracket to only  50 tariff headings, including four headings which have been partially reduced to 18%.
 
At its meeting held here today, the Council also decided that all stand-alone restaurants irrespective of air conditioned or otherwise, will attract 5% GST without input tax credit (ITC). Food parcels (or takeaways) will also attract 5% GST without ITC.
 
Restaurants in hotel premises having room tariff of less than Rs 7500 per unit per day will attract GST of 5% without ITC. 
 
Restaurants in hotel premises having room tariff of Rs 7500 and above per unit per day (even for a single room) will attract GST of 18% with full ITC. Outdoor catering will continue to be at 18% with full ITC.
 
The decisions were announced by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who chaired the meeting, and Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia at a press conference here this evening.
 
Mr. Jaitley said the Council had recommended changes in GST rates on a number of goods, so as to rationalise the rate structure with a view to minimise classification disputes. It has also recommended issuance of certain clarifications to address the grievance of trade on issues relating to GST rates and taxability of certain goods and services.
 
On the services side also, the Council recommended changes in GST rates to provide relief to aviation & handicraft sectors, apart from restaurants.  
 
The changes, which will become effective on November 15, have come at a time when, on the one  hand, the opposition Congress has made demonetisation and the allegedly ill-planned implementation of GST as one of its major elections plans in the crucial Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and, on the other, there have been widespread demand for changes in the GST structure from the trade and industry.
 
According to an official press release, the following are the major recommendations of the Council:
 
(I)      Pruning of list of 28% rated goods: 
 
The Council has recommended reduction in GST rate from 28% to 18% on goods falling in 178 headings at 4-digit level (including 4 tariff heading that are partially pruned). After these changes, only 50 items will attract GST rate of 28%.
 
 a)        Goods on which the Council has recommended reduction in GST rate from 28% to 18% include:
 
-- Wire, cables, insulated conductors, electrical insulators, electrical plugs, switches, sockets, fuses, relays, electrical connectors
-- Electrical boards, panels, consoles, cabinets etc for electric control or distribution
-- Particle/fibre boards and ply wood. Article of wood, wooden frame, paving block
-- Furniture, mattress, bedding and similar furnishing
-- Trunk, suitcase, vanity cases, brief cases, travelling bags and other hand bags, cases
-- Detergents, washing and cleaning preparations
-- Liquid or cream for washing the skin
-- Shampoos; Hair cream, Hair dyes (natural, herbal or synthetic) and similar other goods; henna powder or paste, not mixed with any other ingredient;
-- Pre-shave, shaving or after-shave preparations, personal deodorants, bath preparations, perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations, room deodorisers
-- Perfumes and toilet waters
-- Beauty or make-up preparations
-- Fans, pumps, compressors
-- Lamp and light fitting
-- Primary cell and primary batteries
-- Sanitary ware and parts thereof of all kind
-- Articles of plastic, floor covering, baths, shower, sinks, washbasins, seats, sanitary ware of plastic
-- Slabs of marbles and granite
-- Goods of marble and granite such as tiles
-- Ceramic tiles of all kinds
-- Miscellaneous articles such as vacuum flasks, lighters,
-- Wrist watches, clocks, watch movement, watch cases, straps, parts
-- Article of apparel & clothing accessories of leather, guts, furskin, artificial fur and other articles such as saddlery and harness for any animal
-- Articles of cutlery, stoves, cookers and similar non electric domestic appliances
-- Razor and razor blades
-- Multi-functional printers, cartridges
-- Office or desk equipment
-- Door, windows and frames of aluminium.
-- Articles of plaster such as board, sheet,
-- Articles of cement or concrete or stone and artificial stone,
-- Articles of asphalt or slate,
-- Articles of mica
-- Ceramic flooring blocks, pipes, conduit, pipe fitting
-- Wall paper and wall covering
-- Glass of all kinds and articles thereof such as mirror, safety glass, sheets, glassware
-- Electrical, electronic weighing machinery
-- Fire extinguishers and fire extinguishing charge
-- Fork lifts, lifting and handling equipment,
-- Bull dozers, excavators, loaders, road rollers, 
-- Earth moving and levelling machinery,
-- Escalators,
-- Cooling towers, pressure vessels, reactors
-- Crankshaft for sewing machine, tailor’s dummies, bearing housings, gears and gearing; ball or roller screws; gaskets
-- Electrical apparatus for radio and television broadcasting
-- Sound recording or reproducing apparatus
-- Signalling, safety or traffic control equipment for transports
-- Physical exercise equipment, festival and carnival equipment, swings, shooting galleries, roundabouts, gymnastic and athletic equipment
-- All musical instruments and their parts
-- Artificial flowers, foliage and artificial fruits
-- Explosive, anti-knocking preparation, fireworks
-- Cocoa butter, fat, oil powder,
-- Extract, essence ad concentrates of coffee, miscellaneous food preparations
-- Chocolates, Chewing gum / bubble gum
-- Malt extract and food preparations of flour, groats, meal, starch or malt extract
-- Waffles and wafers coated with chocolate or containing chocolate
-- Rubber tubes and miscellaneous articles of rubber
-- Goggles, binoculars, telescope,
-- Cinematographic cameras and projectors, image projector,
--  Microscope, specified laboratory equipment, specified scientific equipment such as for meteorology, hydrology, oceanography, geology
-- Solvent, thinners, hydraulic fluids, anti-freezing preparation
 
b)       Goods on which the Council has recommended reduction in GST rate from 28% to 12% are:
 
-- Wet grinders consisting of stone as grinder
-- Tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles
 
(II)        Other changes/rationalisation of GST rates on goods:
 
a)        18% to 12%
 
i.         Condensed milk
ii.         Refined sugar and sugar cubes
iii.         Pasta
iv.         Curry paste, mayonnaise and salad dressings, mixed condiments and mixed seasoning
v.         Diabetic food
vi.         Medicinal grade oxygen
vii.         Printing ink
viii.         Hand bags and shopping bags of jute and cotton
ix.         Hats (knitted or crocheted)
x.         Parts of specified agricultural, horticultural, forestry, harvesting or threshing machinery
xi.         Specified parts of sewing machine
xii.         Spectacles frames
xiii.         Furniture wholly made of bamboo or cane
 
b)     18% to 5%
 
i.            Puffed rice chikki, peanut chikki, sesame chikki, revdi, tilrevdi, khaza, kazuali, groundnut sweets gatta, kuliya
ii.            Flour of potatoes put up in unit container bearing a brand name
iii.            Chutney powder
iv.            Fly ash
v.            Sulphur recovered in refining of crude
vi.            Fly ash aggregate with 90% or more fly ash content
 
c)     12% to 5%
 
i.            Desiccated coconut
ii.            Narrow woven fabric including cotton newar [with no refund of unutilised input tax credit]
iii.            Idli, dosa batter
iv.            Finished leather, chamois and composition leather
v.            Coir cordage and ropes, jute twine, coir products
vi.            Fishing net and fishing hooks
vii.            Worn clothing
viii.            Fly ash brick
 
d)      5% to nil
 
i.            Guar meal
ii.            Hop cone (other than grounded, powdered or in pellet form)
iii.            Certain dried vegetables such as sweet potatoes, maniac
iv.            Unworked coconut shell
v.            Fish frozen or dried (not put up in unit container bearing a brand name)
vi.            Khandsari sugar
 
e)                Miscellaneous
 
i.            GST rates on aircraft engines from 28%/18% to 5%, aircraft tyres from 28% to 5% and aircraft seats from 28% to 5%.
ii.            GST rate on bangles of lac/shellac from 3% GST rate to Nil.
 
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III)Exemption from IGST/GST in certain specified cases:
 
i.            Exemption from IGST on imports of lifesaving medicine supplied free of cost by overseas supplier for patients, subject to certification by DGHS of Centre or State and certain other conditions
ii.            Exemption from IGST on imports of goods (other than motor vehicles) under a lease agreement if IGST is paid on the lease amount.
iii.            To extend IGST exemption presently applicable to skimmed milk powder or concentrated milk, when supplied to distinct person under section 25(4) for use in production of milk for distribution through dairy cooperatives to where such milk is distributed through companies registered under the Companies Act.
iv.            Exemption from IGST on imports of specified goods by a sports person of outstanding eminence, subject to specified conditions
v.            Exemption from GST on specified goods, such as scientific or technical instruments, software, prototype supplied to public funded research institution or a university or IISc, or IITs or NIT.
vi.            Coverage of more items, such as temporary import of professional equipment by accredited press persons visiting India to cover certain events, broadcasting equipments, sports items, testing equipment, under ATA carnet system. These goods are to be re-exported after the specified use is over.
 
(IV) Other changes for simplification and harmonisation or clarification of issues
 
i.            To clarify that inter-state movement of goods like rigs, tools, spares and goods on wheel like cranes, not being in the course of furtherance of supply of such goods, does not constitute a supply. This clarification gives major compliance relief to industry as there are frequent inter-state movement of such kind in the course of providing services to customers or for the purposes of getting such goods repaired or refurbished or for any self-use.  Service provided using such goods would in any case attract applicable tax.
ii.            To prescribe that GST on supply of raw cotton by agriculturist will be liable to be paid by the recipient of such supply under reverse charge.
iii.            Supply of e-waste attracts 5% GST rate. Concerned notification to be amended to make it amply clear that this rate applies only to e-waste discarded as waste by the consumer or bulk consumer.
 
 (V)             Changes relating to GST rates on certain services
 
 (A)        Exemptions / Changes in GST Rates / ITC Eligibility Criteria
 
i.            All stand-alone restaurants irrespective of air conditioned or otherwise, will attract 5% without ITC. Food parcels (or takeaways) will also attract 5% GST without ITC.
ii.            Restaurants in hotel premises having room tariff of less than Rs 7500 per unit per day will attract GST of 5% without ITC.
iii.            Restaurants in hotel premises having room tariff of Rs 7500 and above per unit per day (even for a single room) will attract GST of 18% with full ITC.
iv.            Outdoor catering will continue to be at 18% with full ITC.
v.            GST on services by way of admission to "protected monuments" to be exempted.
vi.            GST rate on job work services in relation to manufacture of those handicraft goods in respect of which the casual taxable person has been exempted from obtaining registration, to be reduced to 5% with full input tax credit. 
 
(B)    Rationalization of certain exemption entries
 
i.            The existing exemption entries with respect to services provided by Fair Price Shops to the Central Government, State Governments or Union Territories by way of sale of food grains, kerosene, sugar, edible oil, etc. under Public Distribution System (PDS) against consideration in the form of commission or margin, is being rationalized so as to remove ambiguity regarding list of items and the category of recipients to whom the exemption is available.
ii.            In order to maintain consistency, entry at item (vi) of Sr. No.3 of notification No. 11/2017-CT(R) will be aligned with the entries at items (ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) of SI.No.3. [The word “services” in entry (vi) will be replaced with "Composite supply of Works contract as defined in clause 119 of Section 2 of CGST Act, 2017"].
iii.            In order to obviate dispute and litigation, it is proposed that irrespective of whether permanent transfer of Intellectual Property is a supply of goods or service:
 
               (i) permanent transfer of Intellectual Property other than Information Technology software attracts GST at the rate of 12%; and
               (ii) permanent transfer of Intellectual Property in respect of Information Technology software attracts GST at the rate of 18%.
 
(C)    Clarifications
 
i.            It is being clarified that credit of GST paid on aircraft engines, parts & accessories will be available for discharging GST on inter–state supply of such aircraft engines, parts & accessories by way of inter-state stock transfers between distinct persons as specified in section 25 of the CGST Act.
ii.            A circular will be issued clarifying that processed products such as tea (i.e. black tea, white tea etc.), processed coffee beans or powder, pulses (de-husked or split), jaggery, processed spices, processed dry fruits & cashew nuts etc. fall outside the definition of agricultural produce given in notification No. 11/2017-CT(R) and 12/2017-CT(R) and therefore the exemption from GST is not available to their loading, packing, warehousing etc.
iii.            A suitable clarification will be issued that (i) services provided to the Central Government, State Government, Union territory under any insurance scheme for which total premium is paid by the Central Government, State Government, Union territory are exempt from GST under Sl. No. 40 of notification No. 12/2017-Central Tax (Rate);  (ii) services provided by State Government by way of general insurance (managed by government) to employees of the State government/ Police personnel, employees of Electricity Department or students are exempt vide entry 6 of notification No. 12/2017-CT(R) which exempts Services by Central Government, State Government, Union territory or local authority to individuals.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Nagaon region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Nagaon region of Assam in the early hours of today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.5 N and longitude 92.6 E, occurred at 0115 hours today at a focal depth of 31 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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