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‘TN govt may get into reform mode after local body polls’




The DMK-led Tamil Nadu government may get into reform mode post the local body elections likely to be held by the end of 2021, say party leaders and industry experts.

“Though a white paper on the Tamil Nadu government finances spoke about the necessity to hike tax rates and other things for those who can bear it, the state budget that was presented was a usual one. Perhaps the state government may get into reform mode after the local body elections,” K.C. Palanisamy, former AIADMK MP and MLA, told IANS.

Palanisamy said the local body elections may be held before the end of 2021 or February 2022.

Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan after declaring ‘once in a generation reforms a must’ and ‘business as usual’ approach cannot continue while presenting the white paper on the state government’s finances, came out with a relatively populist budget.

As per the white paper, reforms/restructuring in state government undertakings, statutory boards, power utilities, mobilisation of tax revenues, mode of subsidy deliveries were on the cards.

“As a debutant Finance Minister, he might have taken a soft approach with his first budget which is an interim budget,” Palanisamy said.

Industry experts said Finance Minister Rajan’s budget is nothing but a status quo or an extension of the previous AIADMK government’s budget.

“The white paper set the expectation that the Finance Minister will provide a reform budget to reduce the state debt. One could agree that he needed more time to come up with the actual reforms but least expected was the transformation roadmap, a timeline,” Sriram Seshadri, Founder and Managing Partner, Disha Consulting and formerly Partner and Managing Director, Accenture India, told IANS.

According to him, a white paper lays down the problem, analysis, probable solution.

On the other hand, the government’s white paper laid out the problem statement which was well known and the expectations were there on reform proposals in the budget which surprisingly did not happen, Seshadri said.

“As an economist, I feel satisfied that the budget didn’t provide for any of the poll promises. For an economist the white paper gave an expectation that there would be a reform and transformation roadmap but the budget was disappointing,” he added.

According to him, nothing was there in the budget for beefing up the state revenues while the debt was increasing.

“Tamil Nadu will cross the debt of Rs six lakh crore mark by 2021 end. Only solace is during the budget discussions in the state Assembly, the Finance Minister has said some of the poll promises will not be met such as revising the old pension scheme for government employees,” Seshadri added.

He said if there is a reform agenda with the DMK government it has to be rolled out soon and not wait for the next year’s budget.

However, he agreed that the government will take some reform steps mainly targeted subsidies to poor sections of the society, refine the rules for ration cards and revenue optimisation initiatives like tax reforms.

“Already Tamil Nadu’s economy is the fourth largest in the country and will slip to fifth or sixth place soon. Hence, the state should regain the momentum, cut the red tape and enable ease of doing business both in MSME and large industries,” Seshadri said.

While the government’s popularity endures it should take some tough decisions to reduce government spending, disinvestment and make announcements to attract investment, he said.

“Sterlite Copper (copper smelter unit of Vedanta Ltd in Tuticorin) closure is one of the stumbling blocks for investors to invest in a big way because there is no guarantee to their investment. The government should enable reopening of Sterlite within the guidelines of the pollution control norms. Likewise closely monitor to optimize revenue on the natural resources, mining and sand. The government gets less than Rs 1,000 crore revenue whereas the potential is much higher,” he added.

However, the signs of change in the government are seen in the budget by not implementing its populist poll promises like Rs 1,000 per month dole to the female head of the family.

“Instead the government had decided to conduct a study to identify eligible beneficiaries. This move is new as in the past the state government used to disburse financial assistance for almost all ration card holders,” K. Puhazhendi, Director, Perfint Healthcare, told IANS.

Referring to Rajan’s statement that the governance will be data-based, Puhazhendi said the government can mine data available in its own departments/municipal corporations.

The smart ration cards are linked with Aadhar cards.

Puhazendhi said the government employees themselves form a big database so that undeserved subsidies can be stopped.

“Data on property taxpayers, land owners, vehicle registrations, power consumers, ration card holders, data about government employees, shops and business establishments, factories and other data are available with different departments,” Puhazhendi said.

The government can collate and gather from the people with help of door-to-door data gathering. This could be a starting point to build a database and target the subsidies and other government schemes, he added.

Stressing that the government’s focus should be on making each department, municipal corporations self-financing, Puhazhendi called for a freeze on government hiring and investment should be made in information technology systems to digitise the services.

It is high time the state government goes in for public-private partnership in the tourism sector. The state government owns several hotel properties which are in need of private investment and management.


Pakistan: At Least 52 killed, More Than 50 Injured In Bomb Blast In Balochistan; Visuals Of Destruction Surface




At least 52 people were killed and over 50 injured in a suicide blast near a mosque in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province on Friday as they gathered to celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, authorities said.

The explosion occurred near Madina Mosque on Al Falah Road in the Mastung district. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mastung’s Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Nawaz Gashkori, who was on duty for the rally, was among the deceased.

The explosion took place when people were gathering to mark Eid Miladun Nabi, the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad.

City Station House Officer (SHO) Mohammad Javed Lehri said the explosion was a “suicide blast” and that the bomber exploded himself next to DSP’s car.

Lehri said that the wounded are being shifted to a medical facility while an emergency has been imposed in the hospitals.

At least 52 people were killed and over 50 injured in the blast, District Health Officer Mastung Rashid Muhammad Saeed said.

Some of the injured were in critical condition.

Balochistan interim Information Minister Jan Achakzai said rescue teams have been dispatched to Mastung. He added the critically injured persons are being transferred to Quetta and that an emergency has been imposed in all the hospitals.

“The enemy wants to destroy religious tolerance and peace in Balochistan…,” Achakzai said.”The explosion is unbearable.” Caretaker Chief Minister Ali Mardan Domki has directed authorities to arrest those responsible for the blast.

“The perpetrators of the destruction do not deserve any leniency,” he said. “Those who target peaceful processions will be dealt with firmly.” Chief Minister Domki urged the people to unite against terrorism, adding that Islam was a religion of peace and “those who commit such heinous acts cannot be called Muslims”.

The caretaker CM also announced three days of mourning throughout the province over the tragic incident.

Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti also strongly condemned the blast.

Stating that “terrorists have no faith or religion”, Bugti asserted that all resources were being put to use during the rescue operation. He added that no effort would be spared in treating the injured and that terrorist elements did not deserve any concession.

Soon after the explosion, the Punjab police also said that its “diligent officials” were performing security duties for Friday prayers at mosques across the province.

Meanwhile, the Karachi police said that Additional Inspector General Khadim Husain Rind has directed the police to remain “completely on high alert” in view of the Mastung blast.

He directed the policemen to tighten security arrangements regarding Eid-i-Miladun Nabi processions and Friday prayers across the city, as well as to monitor any unusual activities.

Second major blast in Mastung over last 15 days

This is the second major blast that has terrorised Mastung over the last 15 days, Geo News reported.

Earlier this month, at least 11 people were injured in a blast in the same district.

Mastung has remained a target of terror attacks for the past several years with a major attack in July 2018 being one of the deadliest in the district’s history during which at least 128 people were killed, The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, which set up as an umbrella group of several terrorist outfits in 2007, called off a ceasefire with the federal government and ordered its terrorists to stage terrorist attacks across the country.

Past attacks

The group, which is believed to be close to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases, and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

In January, a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque packed with worshippers during afternoon prayers in Pakistan’s restive northwestern Peshawar city, killing over 100 people.

Last year, a similar attack inside a Shia mosque in the Kocha Risaldar area in the city killed 63 people.

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UP: CCTV Footage Shows Drunk Rail Staffer Busy On Video Call, Places Bag On MEMU Throttle Causing Collision At Mathura Platform; 5 Suspended




UP: A joint report in the Tuesday Mathura train incident, in which an electric multiple unit (EMU) train broke the buffer dead end and entered platform number 2, has found that the staffer was watching his mobile phone while handling the train and was mildly drunk, sources have said.

The report, according to the sources, while narrating the prima facie reason of the incident, said that according to the Crew Voice & Video Recording System (CVVRS), after the train arrived at the platform, a staffer named Sachin entered the DTC cab (engine) while watching his mobile phone.

It said that while carelessly putting his bag on the throttle of the engine, he again got busy on his mobile.

Drunk Employee Puts Bag On Train’s Throttle

The throttle, due to the pressure of the bag, went into forward position and let the EMU move towards the platform. “It broke the dead end of the platform and half of the coach climbed onto the elevated portion of platform number 2, leading to breakdown of OHE (overhead wire).” The report also said that a breathalyzer test conducted on Sachin showed a reading of 47 mg/100 ml which is considered to be mildly drunk.

“He has been sent for a medical test in which his blood sample will be taken to find out the exact level of alcohol consumption,” a source from the Agra Railway Division, said.

Divisional Railway Manager Tej Prakash Agrawal has suspended five persons including Sachin in connection with the incident. Of the other four, Harbhajan Singh, Brajesh Kumar, and Kuljeet are technical staff and Govid Hari Sharma is a loco pilot.

“We have suspended five persons and further detailed investigation is on,” Agarwal said.

In one of its observations, the joint report said that generally technicians receive the DTC cab (engine) key, however, in this case, the technician sent Sachin to receive the key.

Details On The Incident

Giving the brief history of the incident, the report said that the train arrived at Mathura station at 10.49 pm. After the loco pilot got relieved from his duty and came out of the cab, Sachin entered the cab to take the keys. Within a minute of his entering the cab, it started moving, broke the dead end and half of its portion climbed onto the platform.

Sachin in a written statement said that as per the instruction of his duty in-charge, he asked for the key of the cab from the loco pilot who told him that it was inside the cab.

According to his statement, when he entered the cab and put his bag inside there, the train started moving on its own. He said that he got scared and by the time he applied the emergency brake, it had entered the platform.

He said that he informed his in-charge about it and when he tried to find out the reason why the train started moving, he found that the throttle was in forward position and key was also in position.

Blame Game Over Collision

In his statement, he blamed the loco pilot for keeping the train functions in “switched on” position. However, the loco pilot in his statement said that he had handed over the key to Sachin before the latter entered the cab.

The joint report has mentioned Sachin as ETL staff whereas in his statement, Sachin has mentioned his designation as helper.

The EMU starts from Delhi and covers various local stations before terminating in Mathura. The platform number 2 starts from the train’s terminating point where a buffer dead end has been created.

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UP Shocker: Cop Tied To Pole Naked, Thrashed After Being Caught Molesting Girl In Agra; Suspended After Video Goes Viral




Agra: In a shocking incident, a police sub-inspector was tied to pole and beaten in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra. The video of the incident is doing rounds on social media. It can be seen in the video that a Uttar Pradesh Police officer is being beaten after being tied naked to a pole in the village. The police sub-inspector was allegedly beaten by the villagers after he was caught in a compromising position with a woman. The family of the woman alleged that the police officer was molesting the woman.

He jumped through the roof and sneaked into the house in an inebriated condition

As per reports, the UP Police sub-inspector who was beaten by the villagers has been identified as Sandeep Kumar. Sandeep Kumar allegedly jumped through the roof and sneaked into the house in an inebriated condition and started to molest the girl present in the house.

The girl raised an alarm after which the family of the girl came

The girl raised an alarm after which the family of the girl came and caught the police officer red-handed in an objectionable position inside their house in Tihaiya village in Barhan Police Station limits. They then called the villagers and the angry villagers then stripped Sandeep Kumar naked and tied him to a pole. The villagers also thrashed the police officer for his act. The accused was rescued by the police that reached the spot and took the culprit with them.

Sandeep Kumar has been suspended

Uttar Pradesh Police Sub-Inspector Sandeep Kumar has been suspended and a departmental inquiry has been initiated against him after the video of the locals beating the police officer after tying him naked to the pole has gone viral on social media. A case of rape has been registered against the police officer. The incident occurred late night on Sunday (September 17) when the police officer sneaked into the house of the woman and was caught by her family in a compromising position with the woman.

The police have initiated an inquiry in connection with the matter

The police have initiated an inquiry in connection with the matter. They are also scanning the video that is going viral on social media. Etmadpur ACP said, “In the case of a sub-inspector being caught with a girl under police station Barhan area, the sub-inspector is being suspended with immediate effect, strictest departmental action is being taken and after receiving the complaint, legal action will be taken against the SI.”

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