India ready for talks with Pak but only on terrorism State to auction its land to build roads and dams
DELHI RESPONDS Foreign secretary conveys ‘willingness’, but redefines focus
India is willing to send foreign secretary S Jaishankar to Pakistan for talks provided they focus on cross-border terrorism and not the unrest in Kashmir, sources said on Wednesday.
The move comes after a spike in tensions between the two sides over weeks of protests in Kashmir following the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani by security forces. More than 60 people have died in the protests, which were followed by a spate of militant attacks.
India’s position was conveyed by high commissioner Gautam Bambawale, who handed over the formal response to Pakistani foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry’s letter inviting his Indian counterpart for talks on the Kashmir issue.
The Indian foreign secretary “conveyed his willingness to visit Islamabad”, the sources said. “Since aspects related to crossborder terrorism are central to the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir, we have proposed that discussions between the foreign secretaries be focussed on them,” a source said.
India made it clear it is not willing to back down on its stated position on Kashmir and rejected Pakistan’s allegations about rights abuses and extrajudicial killings in the state.
“We have also conveyed that government of India rejects in their entirety the self-serving allegations regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India where Pakistan has no locus standi,” a source said.
The situation in Kashmir was the result of Pakistan’s interference and backing of cross-border terrorism, the sources said.
Explaining the Indian response, sources said it was aimed at scuttling any move by Islamabad to create the impression that New Delhi would not take up the offer of talks at a time when Kashmir is on the boil. After responding to the offer, India will now take up issues it wants to be addressed, they said.
In an address at the Foreign Correspondents Club in the evening, foreign secretary Jaishankar said: “Problem is that the terrorism issue has become so central to the relationship that it makes the relationship difficult to grow.”
He said though all Saarc nations had agreed on moving forward for regional development, Pakistan’s support to terrorism had made the country a difficult regional partner.
The Maharashtra government is planning to auction and mortgage its large land bank to fund the building of roads, expressways and dams across the state, without adding to its debt.
Several mega infrastructure projects are in the pipeline, including the Rs30,000-crore NagpurMumbai expressway and incomplete irrigation projects that could cost up to Rs80,000 crore, a senior government official said.
A panel of senior bureaucrats will frame the policy that will decide how vacant plots of land can be used to fund the state’s infrastructure plans. The policy will also cover infrastructure upgrades — improving the state’s highways and strengthening the power distribution network to cut distribution losses to 8% from 14.6%. The official said the two projects are likely to add a financial burden of nearly Rs70,000 crore.
“If we want rapid infrastructure development, we cannot depend only on debt. There is a limit to how much debt the state government can take,” said Sudhir Mungantiwar, the state’s finance minister. The state’s latest economic survey report shows debt has touched Rs3.33 lakh crore.
“Countries like China have also fuelled their aggressive infrastructure development plans by making more effective use of government land. With this approach, the government will not have to burden the people and businesses with levies,” the official said.
You will soon receive a monthly SMS from the income tax department telling you whether the tax deducted from your salary has been received.
The move is aimed at building trust between the taxpayer and the I-T department, by avoiding a repeat of the Kingfisher incident where employees of the now defunct airline were served tax notices when it was the company that had defaulted on payments.
“The system should be ready in a month or two,” Central Board of Direct Taxes chairperson Rani Singh Nair told HT on Wednesday.
“A lot of cases were reported where companies were not submitting taxes they had deducted from salaries and notices were going out to the employees. To avoid this, we are working on a system where an SMS will tell you whether the tax deducted has reached the department or not. In case it hasn’t, you can ask your company why it is defaulting on your taxes,” she said.
Among other measures, the department plans to email certificates of appreciation to employees for paying their taxes on time, and issue directives to taxmen to maintain integrity and accountability while adopting zero tolerance for corruption.
Nair, who took charge as CBDT chief on August 1, said her agenda was to correct the image of the department — which is often accused of ‘tax terrorism’ in its pursuit of defaulters.