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

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Rezaul H Laskar and Jayanth Ja­cob let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com A jawan dur­ing the cur­few in Sri­na­gar, J&K. Manasi Phadke ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com Timsy Jaipuria timsy.jaipuria@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

WASEEM AN­DRABI/HT

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