Bud­get in Jan­uary IN COURT

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -

The Union Min­istry of Fi­nance is con­sid­er­ing a pro­posal by the Depart­ment of Eco­nomic Af­fairs to ad­vance the pre­sen­ta­tion of the Union bud­get by a month to Jan­uary 31 in­stead of Fe­bru­ary 28. The govern­ment says if im­ple­mented, the mea­sure will help ini­ti­ate rev­enue mo­bil­i­sa­tion and cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture mea­sures right from the be­gin­ning of the fis­cal year. Usu­ally, the bud­get is tabled in Fe­bru­ary end. But the re­lease of funds comes only by July. Three to four months of the fis­cal year are wasted in com­plet­ing the for­mal­i­ties. By shift­ing the bud­get to Jan­uary, all min­istries will get a full year to spend what is al­lo­cated to them. If ac­cepted, this could mean a sec­ond ma­jor shift in the sched­ule of the bud­get by the Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance ( NDA). The pre­vi­ous NDA govern­ment, un­der Prime Min­is­ter Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee, had changed the time of presenting the bud­get to 11 am, from the Bri­tish era prac­tice of presenting it at 5 pm, in 2001. The shift­ing of the bud­get is one of three ma­jor changes the govern­ment is look­ing into. It has formed a com­mit­tee un­der for­mer Chief Eco­nomic Ad­vi­sor Shankar Acharya that has been tasked with study­ing the shift­ing of the fi­nan­cial year it­self from the cur­rent April-March pe­riod to Jan­uary-De­cem­ber. Union Min­is­ter for Rail­ways, Suresh Prabhu has also sug­gested that the Rail­way Bud­get be merged with the Union bud­get. On Au­gust 22, the Supreme Court or­dered the Delhi govern­ment to in­stall ra­dio-fre­quency iden­ti­fi­ca­tion de­vices to fa­cil­i­tate im­po­si­tion of green cess on com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles en­ter­ing the na­tional cap­i­tal. On Au­gust 24, the Gu­jarat High Court is­sued a no­tice to the Na­tional High­ways Author­ity of In­dia ( NHAI) against the widen­ing of the na­tional high­way con­nect­ing Ahmedabad with north Gu­jarat. The no­tice has been is­sued in re­sponse to the pe­ti­tion filed by farm­ers from Gand­hi­na­gar district. On Au­gust 23, NGT im­posed a fine of ` 100 crore on a Qatar­based ship­ping com­pany, Delta Nav­i­ga­tion, for pol­lu­tion caused by an oil spill off the coast of Mum­bai in 2011 by the MVRak. On Au­gust 19, the Na­tional Green Tri­bunal ( NGT) or­dered the Alak­nanda Hy­dro Power Co. Ltd. to de­posit ` 9 crore with the En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­lief Fund Author­ity within 30 days as com­pen­sa­tion to the vic­tims of the June, 2013, floods in Sri­na­gar. On Au­gust 24, NGT or­dered that the 2.2 km long wall around a golf course in As­sam's Kazi­ranga Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary was il­le­gal and should be brought down within one month. The wall was erected by the Nu­ma­li­garh re­fin­ery around the golf course built for its of­fi­cials. On Au­gust 12, the Supreme Court said that the com­plaints of trib­als in three dis­tricts in Mad­hya Pradesh re­gard­ing al­leged ha­rass­ment by for­est of­fi­cials and po­lice in­ac­tion would be taken care of by the griev­ance re­dres­sal author­ity set up by it. On Au­gust 12, the Supreme Court held that an ap­proval was given to Talaulicar & Sons Pvt Ltd for min­ing ac­tiv­ity in the Saniem-Sa­corda iron ore mine in South Goa district in 2007 with­out com­ply­ing with the var­i­ous re­quire­ments un­der the En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Act, in­clud­ing a pub­lic hear­ing.

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