Nation
Lok Sabha takes up real estate bill, Congress assures support
The real estate bill, which seeks to protect interests of property buyers against unscrupulous promoters and set up a sectoral watchdog is taken up for discussion in the Lok Sabha
 
The Lok Sabha on Tuesday discussed the Real Estate Regulator (Regulation and Development) Bill that seeks to protect the interests of property buyers against unscrupulous promoters and set up a sectoral watchdog, with the opposition Congress party saying it too favours the legislation.
 
"We want to pass the bill," Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge said in a brief intervention when Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was explaining to the members various facets of the bill.
 
Naidu said the Bill is a pro-reform step undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government in order to bring about ease of doing business in the country. "We can no longer perform without reforms," he said.
 
The Real Estate Bill, pending before parliament since 2013, got approval of the Rajya Sabha on 10th March.
 
A major benefit for consumers proposed in the bill is that builders will have to quote prices based on carpet area and not super built-up area, while carpet area has been clearly defined in the bill to include usable spaces like kitchen and toilets.
 
The bill makes it mandatory for all commercial and residential real estate projects where the land is over 500 square metres, or eight apartments, to register with the regulator for launching a project, in order to provide greater transparency in project-marketing and execution. 
 
For failure to register, it proposes a penalty of up to 10% of the project cost or three years' imprisonment.
 
Naidu said the main purpose of the bill is to protect consumer interest.
 
"Sometimes we are called pro-business, I do not mind being called that. After all business and industry (people) are also Indians," he said, adding the interests of farmers and consumers will also be protected.
 
In order to ensure protection of all stakeholders and concerned sectors, Naidu said before bringing the Bill in parliament, he and his department had held elaborate consultations with various ministries.
 
"We held detailed meetings with colleagues like Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and others from the ministries of environment, defence, civil aviation and culture," he said. 

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Congress workers from Allahabad announce Rs10 lakh bounty on Mallya
Congress workers in Allahabad have announced Rs10 lakh bounty on liquor baron Mallya, for leaving the country despite huge bank debts
 
Congress workers in Allahabad have announced a Rs10 lakh bounty on liquor baron and Rajya Sabha member Vijay Mallya after allegations surfaced about his leaving the country despite huge debts last week.
 
Carrying placards, posters and banners, the Allahabad district unit workers of the Congress on Monday strutted around Subhash roundabout and other places in the Sangam city, portraying the UB Group chairman as a bandit with an award on his head.
 
On Tuesday, the Congress workers plastered the Civil Lines with similar posters and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of helping Mallya to flee the country.
 
Raising anti-government slogans, the party workers said they would rake up the matter in other places too to expose the double-speak of the prime minister on black money, an issue on which he stormed to power in the 2014 Lok Sahba polls.
 
Sources in the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee said they would be taking up the issue further among the people and try to put the Modi government on the backfoot. 

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Don't hide taxable income as farm earnings, says Jaitley
The Finance Minister told Rajya Sabha that the government may take action against prominent people who try to conceal taxable income as agricultural earnings
 
The Indian government on Tuesday indicated that action could be taken against "prominent people" who are trying to conceal taxable income as agricultural earnings.
 
"Many prominent people are doing this. Please do not say it is political victimisation if names come out afterwards," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha.
 
Several opposition members, including from the Janata Dal-United and Samajwadi Party, cited reports that large amounts of black money were being shown as agriculture income.
 
Sharad Yadav of Janata Dal-United said reports suggested that Rs.2,000 lakh crore of income has been concealed as agriculture earnings.
 
Jaitley said anyone abusing the provisions of the Income Tax Act could be investigated and proceeded against. 
 
Under the existing norms, agricultural income is exempted from income tax.
 
Some members alleged that the government might be thinking of starting to tax the farm incomes henceforth.
 
There could be a "conspiracy of taxing agriculture income" which must be opposed, said Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party.
 
Congress member Digvijay Singh said instead of "threatening", the finance minister should reveal names.
 
"He is misleading the house. Do not threaten us," Digvijay Singh said.

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