The Hindu Important Articles 30 May 2018

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#   Sterlite Copper told to shut shop in T.N.

State government orders “permanent closure” of plant
Sterlite Copper, the Vedanta Group’s copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi, was sealed on Monday evening, shortly after the Tamil Nadu Environment and Forests Department issued a two-page Government Order for its “permanent” closure. Vedanta termed the decision “unfortunate.”

The decision to close down the factory that directly employed around 3,500 workers, including 2,500 on contract (since put on notice), comes against the backdrop of the killing of 13 persons in police firing at an anti-Sterlite rally a week ago.

The order said, “Under Sections 18(1)(b) of the Water Act 1974, in the larger public interest, the government endorse the closure direction of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and also direct the TNPCB to seal the unit and close the plant permanently.” It pointed out that the TNPCB did not renew the ‘consent to operate’ to Vedanta Ltd.’s copper smelter plant in its order dated April 9, 2018.

Power supply cut

“Subsequently, on May 23, the TNPCB has also issued directions for closure and disconnection of power supply to the unit. The power supply has been disconnected on May 24,” it said.

Sterlite Copper’s CEO P. Ramnath had recently claimed that the company was responsible for generating indirect employment for an estimated 30,000-40,000 people.

“The Amma [former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa] government has issued an order to have the Sterlite plant closed down permanently in deference to the sentiments of the people of Thoothukudi,” Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami told journalists in the evening after chairing a meeting of legislators at the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai.

Mr. Palaniswami, who earlier met a cross-section of traders, fishermen and the church members for over an hour, along with Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and other Ministers, told the media that the representatives of Thoothukudi had conveyed to him that “the closure of the plant is the demand of all [in the area].”

To a question on the proceedings in the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court on the issue, he pointed out that there was no stay order. The case was under way. “We have taken this decision as a mark of respecting the feelings of the people. We are doing what we consider is good for the people,” he said. The Chief Minister added that Mr. Panneerselvam and other Ministers went to Thoothukudi in the morning, met the affected people and assured them that proper medical treatment would continue to be provided. “If they desire, they can be shifted to hospitals of their choice,” he said.

In a stock exchange announcement, the Sterlite confirmed the receipt of order from the Tamil Nadu government directing the TNPCB to seal its ‘Copper Smelter Plant 1 at Thoothukudi District, Tamil Nadu’ and to close the said plant permanently.

#  EC plays down VVPAT malfunction

Terms allegations exaggerated; Akhilesh demands restoration of paper ballots
Allegations of largescale malfunctioning of VVPATs and EVMs were reported from Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra during Monday’s bypolls for four Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly seats across 10 States.

The Election Commission (EC), however, termed them an exaggerated projection of reality, stating that defective machines were replaced. The counting for all the seats will be on May 31.

Elections were also conducted in R.R. Nagar in Bengaluru, where polling had been deferred following allegations of electoral malpractice by political parties.

According to the EC, only 96 ballot and 84 control units of EVMs, besides 1,202 VVPATs had to be replaced. “It amounts to 0.76% of the ballot units, 0.81% control units and 11.60% of total VVPATs,” said an official.

The highest number of VVPATS (20.82%) were replaced in Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana parliamentary constituency, followed by 19.22% in the Bhandara-Gondiya and 13.16% in the Palghar Lok Sabha constituencies of Maharashtra.

With the Opposition hoping to repeat the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha byelection victories of the Samajwadi Party, backed by the BSP, the focus was sharply on Kairana.

The constituency, however, reported a low turnout if 54.17% till 6 p.m.

The highest of turnout of 90.42% was recorded in Meghalaya’s Ampati Assembly constituency, followed by 76.60% in Shahkot and 75% in the Nagaland Lok Sabha constituency. In Maharashtra’s Bhandara-Gondiya, the turnout was 38.65% till 6 p.m. while in Palghar it stood at 46.5% till 5 pm. Following reports of VVPAT malfunctions, a joint delegation of the RLD, SP and the Congress, besides a separate BJP delegation, met the EC.

#  76.27% turnout in Chengannur bypoll

Polling peaceful barring minor incidents
Polling for the Chengannur Assembly byelection ended peacefully with a high voter turnout on Monday.

The Election Commission put the preliminary polling figures at 76.27% of the 1.99 lakh voters who exercised their franchise when polling closed at 6 p.m. In the 2016 election, the voter turnout was 74.36%.

Peaceful polling

Officials said polling was by and large peaceful barring minor incidents.

Technical snags in electronic voting machines (EVMs) interrupted polling at booths at Kallissery and Thripperumthura.

The polling started at 7 a.m. on a brisk note with 15.7% turnout registered in the first two hours. Despite the heavy downpour, voters, including women, turned out in large numbers to cast their votes across the constituency.

Although it witnessed a lull around midday, the momentum picked up again in the afternoon.

All voters who reached the polling station by 6 p.m. were allowed to exercise their franchise.

Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate Saji Cherian and United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate D. Vijayakumar exercised their franchise at SNDP Higher Secondary School, Kozhuvalloor, and Government Higher Secondary School, Puliyoor, respectively.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala cast his vote at Government Upper Primary School, Thripperumthura.

The byelection was necessitated following the death of Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA K.K. Ramachandran Nair.

17 in the fray

Although, 17 candidates are in the fray, the battle is between Saji Cherian, D. Vijayakumar, and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate P.S Sreedharan Pillai.

While the LDF is eyeing to retain the seat, the UDF is expecting to wrest the seat it lost in 2016, after several years of dominance.

Triangular fight

Making it a triangular fight, the National Democratic Alliance, which came a close third in 2016 is hoping for a surprise victory.

Ramachandran Nair had won from Chengannur by a margin of 7,983 votes in 2016.

Although the election result will not have an impact on the LDF’s majority in the Assembly, the outcome is significant for the ruling front as it is seen as an assessment of the two-year-old State government. The counting of votes will take place on May 31.

#  States yet to decide on national anthem query

Home Ministry circular had sought their views but none has responded
None of the States, including 21 ruled by the BJP and its allies, have responded to the Centre’s letter seeking their opinion on playing of the national anthem in cinema halls and public places.

The Union Home Ministry had written to all States seeking their opinion on the issue but none responded. It sent a reminder to all the States again this month.

On December 5 last year, the Home Ministry notified the appointment of a 12-member inter- ministerial committee which would take a final call on the playing of national anthem in cinema and public places. The panel, led by Special Secretary B.R. Sharma, is expected to give its report on the existing laws.

Time frame

The committee comprises Joint Secretary-level officers from 11 ministries and departments of the Central government. It was expected to submit its report within six months.

“We have sent two reminders to the State governments to give their opinion on playing of national anthem in cinema halls. Not one has responded so far,” said a senior government official.

The Central government’s decision to set up the expert committee came after the Supreme Court in October last year observed that people “cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves” and it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is “less patriotic.”

Rule book

The committee is expected to give recommendations regarding regulations on playing/singing of the national anthem and suggest changes in the acts and orders relating to the Insult of National Honour Act 1971.

An earlier advisory of the Home Ministry said that audiences were not expected to stand if the national anthem is played as part of the film.

#  Delhi govt. proposes 50% profit cap on medicines

Once notified, private hospitals that flout advisory may face punitive measures
Private hospitals in the Capital should be allowed only up to a 50% profit margin over the procurement price of medicines and other consumables, the Delhi government proposed on Monday.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain announced that the government would be putting a draft advisory in the public domain for 30 days, seeking comments and objections. After that, Mr. Jain said the government would notify the advisory and amend the Delhi Nursing Homes Act in order to introduce punitive measures, including cancellation of licence, for those who don’t follow the advisory.

Addressing a press conference, Mr. Jain said the government had formed a nine-member committee to look into “complaints of over charging” and other issues at private hospitals in December 2017. In its report, the committee had recommended various measures, which had been compiled into an advisory.

The draft advisory says hospitals and nursing homes would have to cap their mark-ups on medicines and consumables that are not in the National List of Essential Medicines at 50% of the procurement prices or charge the maximum retail price, whichever is lowest. For implants, the cap proposed was 35% of the procurement price.

‘Dignity of the dead’

The government also proposed a 50% waiver on the total bill if a patient dies within six hours of being admitted to a hospital’s emergency or casualty wards. Similarly, if a patient dies within 24 hours of admission, then 20% of the bill should be proposed, the draft advisory says.

The advisory also says that hospitals would not be allowed to refuse releasing a deceased patient’s body if the bill has not been paid. Mr. Jain said this was to ensure the “dignity of the dead”.

The government proposed increased transparency for the packages sold by hospitals. In case a patient requires additional procedures after being admitted for one surgery, the second surgery should have a 50% discount, the draft proposed.

#  States yet to decide on national anthem query

Home Ministry circular had sought their views but none has responded
None of the States, including the 21 ruled by the BJP and its allies, has responded to the Centre’s letter seeking their opinion on playing of the national anthem in cinema halls and public places.

The Union Home Ministry had written to the States seeking their opinion on the issue. It sent a reminder to all the States again this month.

On December 5 last year, the Home Ministry notified the appointment of a 12-member inter-ministerial committee which would take a final call on the playing of the national anthem in cinemas and public places.

The panel, led by Special Secretary B.R. Sharma, is expected to give its report on the existing laws.

Time frame

The committee comprises Joint Secretary-level officers from 11 Ministries and departments of the Central government. It was expected to submit its report within six months.

“We have sent two reminders to the State governments to give their opinion on playing of national anthem in cinema halls. Not one has responded so far,” said a senior government official.

The Central government’s decision to set up the expert committee came after the Supreme Court in October last year observed that people “cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves” and it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she was “less patriotic.”

Rule book

The committee is expected to give recommendations regarding regulations on playing/singing of the national anthem and suggest changes in the acts and orders relating to the Insult of National Honour Act, 1971.

An earlier advisory of the Home Ministry said that audiences were not expected to stand if the national anthem was played as part of the film.

#  Sunanda death case: court reserves order

A Delhi court on Monday reserved its order on taking cognisance of the chargesheet against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor in the case of his wife Sunanda Pushkar’s death. Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Samar Vishal reserved the order for June 5 after brief arguments by the prosecutor.

#  Administrative sanction for water project

The State government has given the administrative sanction for the Mullaperiyar drinking water project on Saturday. The Detailed Project Reports had been approved. By implementing the project costing Rs. 1,200 crore, it had been planned to supply 125 million litres per day (MLD) from the Lower Camp hydroelectric power station to Madurai city through a 143-km pipeline.

#  HDK: Will unveil plan on loan waiver tomorrow

CM is said to be keen on retaining Finance portfolio
Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Monday said he would announce his plan on farm loan waiver on Wednesday in Bengaluru.

Speaking to presspersons here, he said, “I will put forward my government’s plans on farm loan waiver in very clear terms and with all modalities laid out, on Wednesday in Bengaluru.”

Lashing out at the BJP and its State president B.S. Yeddyurappa, Mr. Kumaraswamy said his [the Chief Minister’s] words had been twisted out of context to suggest that he had gone back on the pre-poll promise of loan waiver.

Mr. Kumaraswamy met Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and other Congress leaders. Sources confirmed that Mr. Kumaraswamy wanted to retain the Finance portfolio as the Congress was claiming it along with Home, Rural Development, Irrigation, and Energy, among others.

The Chief Minister also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought allocation of coal to the thermal plants in the State.

Source:- The Hindu

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