Citizens' Issues
A 'whale' of a problem on Tamil Nadu's coast, 45 mammals die
Chennai : It was a whale of a problem on Tuesday for officials to save 81 short finned pilot whales that beached near a village in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin district but they only managed to help less than half survive.
 
"Eighty one whales were beached. We tried to take all of them back into the sea with the use of boats. While 36 whales swam away, 45 died," a fisheries department official told IANS.
 
The whales got beached off last night of Manpadu and Alanthalai villages in Tuticorin district, around 600 km from here.
 
The district administration led by Collector M.Ravikumar mounted the massive rescue effort.
 
The whales were gently tied to boats of local fishermen and released mid sea but some returned towards the beach.
 
Around ten boats made the sorties with one whale each trip.
 
However officials were not able tell the probable reasons for the whales beaching in large numbers.
 
Speaking to reporters, Ravikumar said officials would investigate into the reasons for the whales getting beached.
 
"The whales could have been under stress. It could be due to coastal pollution by industrial effluents or even due to noise made by boats or ships," R.Rajaram, assistant professor, department of marine science, Bharathidasan University told IANS over phone from Tiruchirapalli.
 
In a statement, the Indian Coast Guard said it extended its helping hand in rescuing several whales off Alanthalai and Manapadu beach, noting the short finned pilot whales are normally found in Pacific Ocean.
 
Fishing boats were employed for pulling them to the deeper part of the sea against all the risks involved, it said.
 
The wildlife department in coordination with state administration is arranging for the burial of the dead whales.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Are spectrum charges being hiked, apex court asks government
New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the central government if it was seeking to hike the spectrum usage charge of one percent of the annual gross revenue of telecom companies for 4G services and if it had the powers to do so.
 
A bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice R. Banumathi also asked the central government to state if it, indeed, had the powers to hike the charges, then what was the source of that authority.
 
"What is the logic of an increase?" it queried.
 
The posers to the government came in the course of a hearing of a public interest plea by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation seeking the quashing of the decision permitting Reliance Jio to enter the voice telephony services using 4G spectrum.
 
Reserving the order after the daylong hearing, the apex court gave a week's time to the petitioner, the government and Reliance Jio to file their written notes, along with the citation of the previous judgments to back their contentions.
 
Counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, told the court that the official auditor had also flagged that a lower one percent spectrum charge can't be different from what was being charged from the holders of airwaves for 2G and 3G services.
 
"You (the government) will not be justified in levying a lower charge on the grounds that the cost of laying infrastructure is higher," the court observed. "Bhushan's worry is you are getting away cheaply."
 
Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Reliance Jio, said the services were becoming cheaper. "Reliance Communications is offering a package, which includes a smartphone, for Rs.7,000."
 
In an apparent jibe at former communications minister Kapil Sibal for his statement that there was "zero loss" to the exchequer for selling the spectrum cheap, the bench said: "Zero loss is also a mistake."
 
The apex court had on May 9 last year issued notice based on the plea that sought a probe into the decision by which Reliance Jio was allowed entry into the voice telephony space using 4G spectrum by paying the price that was determined way back in 2001.
 
The petition had sought a court-monitored probe and alleged the government decision was in violation of the apex court judgment in the presidential reference on the alienation of natural resource by the government to private operators.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Banking sector seeks hike in tax exemption limit for savings
New Delhi : India's banking sector on Tuesday sought increasing the tax exemption limit for savings to Rs.2.5 lakhs and allowing it to issue off-shore rupee bonds to finance infrastructure, at a pre-Budget meeting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had with banks and financial institutions.
 
"Other suggestions include listing of non-life insurance public sector undertakings while retaining majority government control and broad-based FDI (foreign direct investment) in agriculture sector," a finance ministry release here said.
 
The delegation also recommended digitization of land records to compensate farmers quickly, and direct distribution of fertilizer subsidies to farmers through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme so that savings on this account could be used for increasing public capex spending, it added.
 
"Other suggestions included interest rate of small savings schemes be rationalized and fixed at a five year government security yields," the ministry said.
 
Industry representatives who attended the meeting included Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor Urjit Patel, State Bank of India chairperson Arundhatti Bhatacharya, Bank of Baroda executive director B.B.Joshi, Janaagraha's Bharath Sondur, LIC chairman S.K Roy, IIFCL chairman S.B.Nayar, IDBI Bank chairman Kishore Kharat, Axis Bank chief executive Shikha Sharma, and Citibank chief executive Pramit Jhaveri.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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