One India market soon as Rajya Sabha clears GST Bridge falls, vehicles swept away in river at Mahad; 29 feared dead
CONSENSUS WINS Nation’s biggest-ever tax reform may be in place next year 2 BUSES, OTHER VEHICLES MISSING; RESCUE OPS ON
India’s plan for a unified market under the goods and services tax (GST) moved closer to the finish line on Wednesday as the Rajya Sabha passed the 122nd Constitutional Amendment Bill, even as a few disputes remained unsettled.
At the end of a seven-hour debate, there was no clear picture on the tax rates. The Congress batted for a cap on the GST, but finance minister Arun Jaitley maintained that the government will try to keep the rate “moderate”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to thank leaders of all parties on the “truly historic occasion of the passage of the GST bill in the Rajya Sabha”.
“We continue to work with all parties and states to introduce a system that benefits all Indians and promotes a vibrant and unified national market. This reform will promote (Make in India), help exports and thus boost employment while providing enhanced revenue,” he said in a series of tweets.
The landmark legislation — first introduced by former finance minister P Chidambaram in his 2006-07 budget speech — will give further impetus to ease of doing business in the world’s fastest growing major economy.
“The GST regime will be a modern, better system that will help taxpayers, seamless transfer of goods and services across (the) country and check evasion. Some economists believe it will also give boost growth rate,” Jaitley said.
During the debate, Chidambaram said there is a broad consensus among opposition Union finance minister Arun Jaitley outside the Parliament after the Rajya Sabha cleared the GST bill. parties that the standard rate of 18% would be an “appropriate rate”, it would be non-inflationary, and it would be “something that could be sold to the people of India and it would be something that would not lead to tax evasion”. The rates will likely be specified in the sub-ordinate legislations that will have to be passed after the central law is enacted. These include the state GST law, the central GST law and the inter-state GST law.
At least 29 people are missing and feared dead after the rain-swollen Savithri river washed away a 100-yearold bridge on the Mumbai-Goa highway at Mahad 170 km south of Mumbai on Tuesday night, taking with it two buses and at least one SUV. Nearly 24 hours after the incident, there was no sign of either people or vehicles.
The danger was first spotted by a man who works in a garage nearby who saw the bridge disappear with two buses on it around 11.30 pm. He called up his employer who alerted the police.
Heavy and incessant rain and the moonless night hampered search efforts that had to wait till day broke nearly six hours later, by when three teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and squads from the Navy and the Coast Guard reached the scene.
They used helicopters and boats and rafts to scour the area all along the river’s course till Harihareshwar, where it empties into the Arabian Sea, but found no trace of people or vehicles till late on Wednesday, when operations were scaled back as night fell. The navy and the coast guard have stationed ships off Harhareshwar to try and spot any survivors who may have been washed out to sea.
Officials said the heavy rain in the catchment area at Mahabaleshwar (309 mm in the 24 hours ended 8.30 am on Wednesday) and all along its course upstream of Mahad (230 mm in the same period) had turned the river into a raging torrent of muddy water. This The colonial-era bridge near Mahad on the Mumbai-Goa national highway collapsed on Tuesday night. was hampering the search and rescue operations. The experts on the scene said they were at a loss to explain why there was no sign of at least the two big buses. They even used magnets in a bid to home in on the metal bodies of the vehicles.
The state had certified the bridge as safe in the inspection undertaken in May. There was reportedly also pressure from locals not to demolish it, though a new bridge had been Mumbai MAHAD built just a few feet away in 2000. This new bridge too has been closed to traffic as a precaution. The traffic along the highway has been diverted along smaller roads in the area.