Citizens' Issues
Girl robbed at ATM in Hyderabad

An unidentified person opened fire and robbed a girl of money and jewellery at an ATM here on Wednesday, police said.
 
The incident occurred at State Bank ATM in Yousufguda area around 7.30 a.m. when she was withdrawing money.
 
The armed man threatened the girl by opening two rounds of fire and escaped with the money and jewellery. 
 
She lodged a complaint with police.
 
Senior police officials rushed to the scene.
 
The incident caused a flutter in the busy area.
 
Police said they were scanning the images from CCTV cameras in and around the ATM to identify and apprehend the robber.

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Once a land of ponds, Sri Krishna Bhoomi crying out for water today
Many mohallas and colonies in Mathura, Goverdhan, Vrindavan and Chaumuhan are still short of water. The piped water supply does not touch colonies on the periphery of the towns, which remain totally dependent on ground water
 
When cine veteran Hema Malini won the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Mathura-Vrindavan, the first commitment she made was to provide safe and adequate quantity of water for every home and a Yamuna fully rejuvenated and filled with water. As she completes one year as MP from the land of Sri Krishna's legend, voters are asking what happened to the commitment.
 
Many mohallas and colonies in Mathura, Goverdhan, Vrindavan and Chaumuhan are still short of water. The piped water supply does not touch colonies on the periphery of the towns, which remain totally dependent on ground water.
 
With the water table falling sharply, the problem gets aggravated.
 
"Earlier hand pumps were sufficient but now submersible pumps, tube wells and borings are coughing more air than water. No water is available till a depth of 150 feet or more, says river activist Madhu Mangal Shukla.
 
With the Yamuna being called a "sewage canal" by the residents, the water crisis just gets worse. Even the Gokul Barrage, set up to clean up the water, has not helped either.
 
Each day, people in some locality or the other have been protesting on the road, demanding uninterrupted supplies.
 
Despite hundreds of crores of rupees invested in infrastructural development in the eco-sensitive Taj Trapeizium Zone, spread over 10,400 sq km, the districts of Agra, Mathura and Firozabad continue to face acute shortage of power and water.
 
People in Firozabad are up in arms against the administration, demanding more water. Work on a canal to bring water from the river Ganga is progressing at a snail's pace.
 
"The problem is not only of quantity but also quality of water in the river. Unless they desilt and dredge the river on a massive scale from Delhi to Agra, the underground aquafiers would not be charged and the water table will not rise," activist Dr Ashok Bansal told IANS.
 
During summer the drinking water problem in the district becomes even more acute, forcing villagers to walk miles to fetch a pail of water.
 
Village panchayat member Ram Bharosey in Chaumuhan block says the villagers have been demanding extension of water pipeline network to cover more areas, but to no avail.
 
Perhaps recognising the gravity of the problem, the district administration is supporting installation of reverse-osmosis (RO) plants where villagers can pay for water. The one inaugurated by the UP chief minister in Goverdhan on March 11 became operational on April 1.
 
Mathura district magistrate Rajesh Kumar told IANS that the chief minister had sanctioned five more such plants for the Braj area. Each plant will provide 5,000 litres of water daily, which can be raised to 10,000 litres.
 
"The users will have to pay 50 paise per litre initially. Later it will be reduced to 25 paise per litre," he said.
 
But such efforts are like a drop in the ocean. Gopal Das, a farmer, says the ground water is hard and undrinkable. "Young people are turning old, suffering the consequences of hard water. Fluorosis is common from the excessive fluoride in the water."
 
Ram Beti, another farmer from Chaumuhan, wonders: "What kind of development is this where you do not even have drinking water for the common man?"
 
Dr M.K Mathur of the public health centre at Chaumuhan says that due to the fluoride, magnesium, arsenic, calcium and other trace elements in the water people are falling sick.
 
Village leader Ajit Singh says that a large number of people were suffering from chronic hepatitis and typhoid cases had multiplied.
 
Last week, out of 222 patients examined in a village near Kosi, 92 were found to be hepatitis B and C positive, indicating the poor quality of water. The alarm has put the health authorities in the district on high alert.
 
Mathura's chief development officer (CDO) Andra Vamsi has asked village level functionaries to hold awareness activities to educate people about water-borne diseases, He has also asked Jal Nigam officials to ensure supply of drinking water through tanks or pipelines to all such villages which have been identified as fluorosis-affected. But such efforts may take a while to bear fruit.
 
The water woes trail you wherever you go. In the Chata area, a resident, K.K Pathak, says state agencies have hardly helped to solve the problem. Kosi resident B.S Sharma says unless urgent measures are taken, the problem will become too big to tackle. In Nandgaon and Barsana, pilgrims are being fleeced with water bottles selling at a premium.
 
Shri Gopal of Chaumuhan says "we had big hopes from the Samajwadi Party government, but so far nothing has been done."
 
In Baldev, Vishnu Dixit had a simple plea: "Fancy development can wait, just give us water."
 
It's only the villagers of Pasauli who have got together and done something, not waiting for the administration to act. They pooled in money to dig a bore well where water could be reached.
 
Through a pipeline they brought the water to the village. To run the pump for the borewell, they arranged a tractor. The villagers realised that self-help was the only mantra for progress in the village. Politicians are not going to help.
 
Pankaj Goswami of Gokul says the Braj Bhoomi was once famous for its dense forests and water bodies. "In the name of development, nature has been the loser and we humans the sufferers," lamentd Goswami. It's high time politicians did something concrete and lasting.

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Draft gold deposit scheme out, sets 30 grams minimum limit
The government on Tuesday put in the public domain the draft guidelines for the much awaited, interest-bearing gold monetisation, or deposit scheme, for comments, proposing to put to productive use vast amounts of idle gold with households, and thereby cut its imports.
 
The objectives of the scheme, under which as little as 30 grams can be deposited, is three-fold: Mobilise the gold, give a fillip to the gems and jewellery sector by making gold available from banks on loan and reduce the reliance on imported gold and conserve foreign exchange.
 
"The minimum quantity of gold that a customer can bring in is proposed to be set at 30 grams, so that even small depositors are encouraged. Gold can be in any form, bullion or jewellery," the guidelines, said, adding the depositors can redeem the gold either in cash or in physical form.
 
The comments need to be furnished by June 2.
 
According to the World Gold Council, an estimated 22,000-23,000 tonnes of gold is lying idle with households and institutions in India. The annual imports amount to between 850-1,000 tonnes, valued at $35 billion to $45 billion.
 
In his budget speech on Feb 28, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the government will come up with two schemes for gold -- one on monetisation, or permitting gold deposits with banks for interest, and the other on redeemable gold sovereign bonds also with fixed interest.
 
"The new scheme will allow depositors of gold to earn interest in their metal accounts and the jewellers to obtain loans in their metal account. Banks and other dealers would also be able to monetise this gold," Jaitley had said.
 
As per the draft guidelines, the interest earned from the monetisation scheme will be exempt from income tax, wealth tax and capital gains tax to make it attractive for households. 
 
How the scheme will work: A person or institution holding gold can get it valued from any of the 350 hallmarking centres, then open a gold savings account with banks for a minimum period of one year and earn interest -- either in cash or gold units.
 
Interest on the gold savings account will be payable after every 30 or 60 days of the opening of the account. Banks will be free to decide the interest, and both the principal and interest will be valued in gold.
 
"Both directionally, and in terms of the content, this draft reflects a practical approach," said Somasundaram P.R., managing director for India with the World Gold Council. 
 
"Once the incentives fall into place to the satisfaction of banks, customers and others, we will own a 'Uniquely Indian' scheme that allows gold to become a dynamic, fungible asset in the hands of gold savers with significant benefits to the economy, and therefore provide the gold trade with consistent policies."
 
Under the draft guidelines, the charges for hallmarking have been proposed at Rs.500 per lot for melting up to 100 grams, going up to Rs.900 for between 900-1,000 grams. Then there is also the testing charge of Rs.300, while stone removing and melting loss is at actuals.
 
If the gold finds its way into the scheme, then the banks will bear the cost.
 
How do the banks benefit: To incentivise them, it is proposed to include the deposits under the cash reserve ratio requirements. Banks can also sell the deposits to generate foreign exchange, convert it into coins, use it on commodity exchanges and lend to jewellers.
 
The money made in the process, thus, can be used to pay the depositors, pay the fee charged by the hallmarking centres and retain the rest as profit. Banks can also fetch gold directly from the international markets to lend to jewellers.
 
Highlights of the scheme:
 
- Customers bring their idle gold, get it verified and melted, and are provided with a receipt.
 
- They open a gold savings account with a bank, show the receipt and the tenure starts.
 
- Verification centres prepare standard bars of gold, and inform banks about the value.
 
- Gold is then sent to a refinery and is deposited as bars in state-owned vaults.
 
- Jewellers approach banks for gold loans or for purchase of gold.
 
- Banks tell refinery to send the agreed amount of gold to jewellers.
 
- Upon maturity of loan, jewellers repay the banks in cash.
 
- Similarly, upon maturity, customers get back physical gold, cash or dematerialised gold.
 
- Banks extend interest to customers and make money by levying interest on gold loans.

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