February, 2013

State gets its first solar toilets

The state got its first solar, sensor-based-toilets with the Tambaram Municipality installing three units at the junction of Duraiswamy Reddy st. and GST Road, “Namma toilets”, the user friendly units made of fibre reinforced polymer material, were inaugurated by animal husbandry minister. T.K.M. Chinmaya at an event that also saw the participation of Tambaram municipality chairman M. Karikalan. The toilets have several advantages over the conventional 12 existing toilets in Tambaram. Besides being corrosion – free, the toilets have two digesters to process waste and release sewage in to the existing network after processing it. People will not be charged for using these toilets.

City prof. bags C.V. Raman prize

Every year, Feb. 28 is celebrated as National Science Day to commemorate renowned physicist C.V. Raman’s discovery of what is known as the Raman effect. But it has taken over 20 years for a scientist from the state to receive the award constituted under his name. S. Rajarajan, 58, a Professor of microbiology at Presidency college has been awarded the Dr. Sir C.V. Raman birth centenary gold medal this year. Dr. Rajarajan, who hails from Cuddalore is an aluminus of Presidency college and the University of Madras and holds a Ph.D in medical microbiology.

White tiger cubs await Tamil names

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has an unusual task at hand-giving Tamil names to the four white tiger cubs who were born at Vandalur zoo on October 29 last year. The nine year old Anu, the oldest tigress at the zoo, gave birth to four cubs. With the new borns, the zoo, currently has 21 tigers. The gestation period of tigers is around 105 days. “Four months have passed since the cubs were born. It is time they are named since wild species, especially big cats respond when called by a name,” said a zoo official.

3 Ministers sacked, new faces inducted

Three members of the state cabinet Gokula Indra (Tourism), N.R. Sivapathy (School Education) and V.S. Vijay (Health) were dropped, in yet another reshuffle of Ministers that came after nearly time months. Tamil Nadu Poonachi, Vaigai – Chelvam and K.C. Veeramani will be inducted as Ministers at a Ceremony. The portfolio of P. Chendur Pandian has been charged. K.P. Munusamy, Municipal portfolio of P. Chendur Pandian has been changed. K.P. Munusamy, Municipal Administration and Rural Development Minister, has been given the portpolio of Law, which was hitherto handled by Mr. Sivapathy Mr. Chendur Pandian will look after Tourism and his portfolio of Khadi & Village Industries has been assigned to Mr. Poonachi Ms. Indra has been made party’s organising secretary. Mr. Vijay replaced with S.C. Ezhumalai.

Union Budget – 2013-14

28 : Finance Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram presents the 2013-14 Union Budget. He provides a tax break of 2,000 to individual tax payers with taxable income of up to    5 lakh. He imposes a one-year surcharge of 10 percent on the “super rich” section of tax payers. Duties are raised on luxury vehicles, mobile phones (priced over    2,000), cigarettes, etc. Investment allowance makes a comback. Bringing focus on women, the Budget provides for setting up women’s banks with   1,000 crore capital, besides setting up “Nirbhaya Fund” of  1,000 crore for women’s safety. The Budget gives first time buyers of affordable homes an additional deduction of Rs.1 lakh for home loans up to   25 lakh.

Highlights : • The Union Budget for 2013-14 aims at a higher growth rate leading to inclusive and sustainable development. • Fiscal Deficit for 2012-13 contained at 5.2%; pegged at 4.8% for 2013-14 • Plan Expenditure placed at    5,55,322 crore, 33.3% of total expenditure; Non-Plan Expenditure estimated at   11,09,975 crore. •  1,000 crore ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ for Women’s empowerment and safety. • Proposal to set up India’s first Women’s Bank •   1,000 crore for skill development of 10 lakh youth to enhance employability and productivity • Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme to be rolled out throughout the country during UPA-2 term • Substantial rise in social sector outlay Allocation for Rural Development Ministry up by 46% to   80,194 crore • Defence spending up by 14.1% with an allocation of   2,03,672 crore • Minority Affairs Ministry allocated   3,511 crore, 60% higher than revised estimates for 2012-13 • First home loan up to    25 lakh from bank or a housing finance corporation entitled to additional deduction of interest up to   1 lakh • Capital infusion of    14,000 crore in public sector banks. • New taxes to yield   18,000 crore • Personal Incoem Tax slabs unchanged : relief of  2,000 for tax payers in first slab of 2-5 lakhs • Surcharge of 10% levied on persons (other than companies) whose taxable income exceeds   1 crore • ;Voluntary Compilance Encouragement Scheme’ launched for recovering service tax dues • The Budget estimate of Plan expenditure for 2013-14 at   5,55,322 crore out of a total expenditure of   16,65,297 crore is 29.4 percent more than the revised estimate for the 2012-13 fiscal •  2,03,672 crore to the armed forces for 2013-14 •   86,741 crore has been set aside for modernising capabilities. • In the Budget,   6,275 crore has been allocated to the Ministry of Science and Technology •    5,615 crore to the Department of Space and   5,880 crore to the Department of Atomic Energy.

West Indies sweep the ODI series against Zimbabwe

Hosts West Indies sweep the ODI series against Zimbabwe 3-0, beating them in the third and final match by five wickets in St. George’s.

Iran and the P5+1 comprising six world powers – conclude two days of nuclear dialogue

Iran and the P5+1, comprising six world powers, conclude two days of nuclear dialogue in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The talks end on a positive note, with the participants reaching specific agreements for further meetings in coming months. The six global powers – the US, the UK, China, Russia, France and Germany – drop their original demand that Iran shut down its uranium enrichment plant at Fordow. Instead, they insist that Iran suspend its enrichment programme there.

Economic Survey 2012-13

The Economic Survey 2012-13 is tabled in the Parliament. It suggests a slew of hard, but good decisions to stick to the path of fiscal consolidation and rescue the economy out of the morass. Claiming that the downturn is “more or less over” and that the economy is looking up, the Survey projects a cautiously optimistic growth rate of 6.1-6.7 percent for 2013-14, while conceding that the GDP growth for the 2012-13 is likely to slip to a decade’s low of five percent

Highlights : • Inflation expected to come down to 6.2-6.6% by March 2013 • Fiscal deficit in 2012-13 likely to be contained at 5.3% • Fiscal deficit target pegged at 4.8% of GDP for 2013-14 and 3.0 for 2016-17 • Industrial output estimated to be growing around 3% in 2012-13 • Non-performing assets (NPA) of the banking sector increased from 2.36% in Mar 2011 to 3.57% in Sept. 2012. • Foreign exchange reserves remain steady; by end of Jan 2013 they stood at US $ 295.5 billion.

Railway Budget – 2013-14

Railway Minister Mr. Pawan Kumar Bansal presents the 2013-14 Railway Budget. Economy class passengers are spared from fare hikes, but those travelling on superfast trains and reserved compartments are subjected to various supplementary charges. Freight rates are hiked by about 5.79 percent on almost all categories of commodities.  

Highlights : • Highest ever plan outlay of    63,363 crore • 67 new express and 26 new passenger trains; run of 57 trains to be extended and freqency of 24 trains to be increased • 500 km of new lines, 750 km of doubling and 450 km gauge conversion targeted in 2013-14 • Freight loading of 1047 MT, 40 MT more than 2012-13 • Growth of passenger traffic pegged at 5.2% • Fuel Adjustment Component’ concept linking tariffs with movements of fuel prices • E-ticketing through mobile phones; internet ticketing from 0030 hrs to 2330 hrs; SMS  alerts providing updates on reservation status • Next-Gen e-ticketing system capable to handling 7,200 ticket per minute against 2,000 at present • Introduction of 160/200 kmph Self Propelled Accident Relief Trains • By announcing just seven new factories and just about 100 new trains, including 67 long-distance Main/Express trains, Mr. Bansal presented a stripped-down budget that stressed on reform more than political ambition • In a bid to provide comforts and facilities comparable to ful-service airlines, Indian Railways will introduce a new “hyper luxury” class for those wiling to pay more, Mr. Banzal announced. To be called ‘Anubhuti’, this class will use new coaches that will be manufactured exclusively at the coach factory in Rae Bareli at an additional cost of  30 lakh per coach. • Mr. Bansal has decided to go in for a massive augmentation of the IRCTC website during this calendar year • The Railway Budget hinted at the target to create fund balance of   30,000 crore in the terminal year of 12th Five-Year Plan.

Madurai temple under security blanket

After a specific alert from central security agencies, the Meenakshi Sundereswarar temple, Madurai has come under security blanket. Based on the instructions from the office of D.G.P. steps had been taken to step up vigil in and around the temple. The Central security agencies had warned of a “possible attack by trained terrorists who may have infiltrated to target specific infrastructural facilities in the country like in the past”, he noted. In a bid to ensure that there was no let down, the present security arrangement was reviewed and adequate precautionary steps would follow with immediate effect, it was decided at a meeting.