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Modi govt aims to deliver 1 crore houses 2 years before the 2022 deadline

The Housing Ministry on Tuesday announced it would advance the deadline for delivering one crore houses under PM Awas Yojna (PMAY) in urban areas by almost a period of two years to 2020. Earlier, the central government had set the deadline for PMAY to 2022.

Union Housing Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that he was confident that sanction for almost all required number of houses would be received by the first quarter of next year and the construction work would be completed by the end of the year, reported The Times of India.

Puri added that more than 81 lakh houses have been sanctioned so far with an investment of Rs 4.83 lakh crore which was out of the validated demand for one crore dwelling units. He asserted that more than 6.32 lakh families have availed interest subsidy under credit-linked subsidy scheme of PMAY.

"We have achieved the progress only by taking states on board unlike the UPA when projects were approved from the Centre. Real practice of Cooperative federalism has worked", said Puri.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter and wrote, "No stone will be left unturned to fulfil the dream of Housing for All, which will give wings to crores of aspirations". PM Modi further stated that his government is committed to improving urban infrastructure while citing that "PMAY (Urban), AMRUT and Smart Cities missions" were launched four years back with the objective of transforming urban landscape.

NPAs under PM Modi's Mudra scheme jumped 126% in FY19, shows RTI

The Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) saw a jump of 126% in just one year. The NPAs of loans issued under the programme leapt Rs 9,204.14 in FY 19 from Rs 7,277.31 crore in March 2018 to Rs 16,481.45 crore in March 2019. This information was obtained as a response to an RTI filed by The Wire.

A total of 30.57 lakh accounts have been declared as NPAs under the Mudra scheme. Even though the value of NPAs is not very high as compared to the total loan value granted under the scheme, it is nevertheless increasing constantly.

More data from the RTI reveals that the loans to the tune of Rs 3.11 lakh crore in total were granted between April 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019, which means that the value of NPAs is 2.89% of the total value of loans.

Meanwhile, according to the official government website, the total amount of sanctioned loans increased 26.82% from Rs 2.53 lakh crore to Rs. 3.21 lakh crore in FY 19. The loan disbursal increased 26.53% from Rs 2.26 lakh crore to Rs 3.11 lakh crore in the same period. The total number of loans also saw a 24.39% jump from 4.8 crore on April 1, 2018, to 5.9 crore on March 31, 2019.

As per a report in IANS published on January 13, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had cautioned the Finance Ministry that Mudra scheme might become a major contributor to NPAs.

Under the RBI norms, an account is classified as a Non-Performing Asset (NPA) if it is not serviced for 90 days.

"In case of national banks, this deadline is 90 days, while the deadline is 120 days for NBFCs and MFIs. These rules apply to all types of loans, Mudra or otherwise," Harshit Agrawal, assistant manager of Mudra Ltd told the news website.

While the RTI response did give details concerning the total NPA amount, it did not reveal any information about the NPA account-holders such as their names, the total borrowed sum, interest rates etc. Mudra Ltd said that it does not have the required information regarding the same.

New industrial policy to be announced soon: President Kovind

The government will soon announce a new industrial policy aimed at promoting growth of industries and creation of jobs, President Ram Nath Kovind said Thursday.

Addressing the joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament, the President said work is underway in full earnest to transform India into a global manufacturing hub.

"Keeping in view Industry 4.0, a new industrial policy will be announced shortly," he said.

The new policy will replace the industrial policy of 1991 which was prepared in the backdrop of balance of payment crisis. This will be the third industrial policy after the ones released in 1956 and 1991.

The proposed policy aims at promoting emerging sectors and modernising existing industries. It will also look to reduce regulatory hurdles and encourage adoption of frontier technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), under the Commerce and Industry ministry, in August 2017 had floated a draft industrial policy with an aim to create jobs for the next two decades, promote foreign technology transfer and attract USD 100 billion FDI annually.

The department last year submitted a cabinet note on the policy.

Talking about strengthening start-up ecosystem in the country, Kovind said India has joined the league of countries with most number of start-ups in the world.

"To improve the start-up ecosystem, the government is simplifying rules. This campaign will be further expedited.

Our goal is to establish 50,000 start-ups in the country by 2024," he added.

Startup India is the flagship initiative of the government. Launched in January 2016, it intends to build a strong ecosystem for the growth of startup businesses, to drive sustainable economic growth and generate employment opportunities. It also provides tax and other incentives.

So far, as many as 19,280 startups have been recognised by the department.

To create a conducive environment for businesses in the country, Kovind said the government would work with states in further simplification of processes.

He said in the ease of doing business report, India has jumped 65 positions during the past five years, from a ranking of 142 in 2014 to 77 last year.

"Now our goal is to be among the top 50 countries of the world. In order to achieve this, process of simplification of rules will be further expedited in collaboration with states.

"Necessary amendments are also being brought in the Companies Law," he said, while noting that easy procedures and processes helps a country attract both domestic and foreign investments.

On MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), he said to ensure entrepreneurs associated with the sector do not face any problem in accessing credit, the credit guarantee coverage is being enhanced to Rs one lakh crore.

MSMEs contribute around 45 per cent to India's exports, about 25 per cent to the GDP from service activities and over 33 per cent to manufacturing output of India.

15 More Senior Tax Officials, Accused Of Corruption, Made To Retire

The Government of India compulsorily retired 15 Commissioner-level officials of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs. According to finance ministry sources, the ousted officials were charged with corruption, collecting and giving bribes, smuggling and even criminal conspiracy.

Of late, the Modi government has intensified its efforts to clean-up the bureaucracy. Last week, the government had compulsorily retired 12 senior IRS officials from the Income Tax department over charges of corruption, sexual harassment, disproportionate assets under Rule 56(j) of Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules.

In the latest crackdown, the government compulsorily retired CBIC Principal Commissioner Anup Srivastava (1984-batch IRS), as well as commissioners Atul Dikshit (1988-batch IRS), Sansar Chand (1986-batch IRS), G Shree Harsha (1991-batch IRS), and Vinay Brij (1995-batch IRS).

Other officials who faced the music included CBIC additional commissioners Ashok R Mahida (1990-batch IRS) and Virendra Kumar Agarwal (1990-batch IRS), along with Deputy Commissioner Amresh Jain (1992-batch IRS), Joint  Commissioner Nalin Kumar (2005-batch IRS), assistant commissioners SS Pabana (2014-batch IRS), SS Bisht (2014-batch IRS) and Vinod Kumar Sanga (2014-batch IRS).

Additional Commissioner Raju Sekar (1992-batch IRS), Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Aswal (2003-batch IRS) and Assistant Commissioner Mohammad Altaf (2009-batch IRS) have also been compulsorily retired.

The Rule 56(j) of Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 provides for periodical review of performance of government servants with a view to ascertain whether they should be retained in service or retired from service in public interest.

As per these instructions, the cases of government servants covered by FR 56(j), 56(1) or Rule 48(1) (b) of CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 should be reviewed six months before they attain the age of 50-55 years, in cases covered by FR 56(j) and on completion of 30 years of qualifying service under FR 56(1) or Rule 48 of CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972.

UK High Court denies bail to Nirav Modi fearing obstruction of justice

The UK High Court has denied bail to fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi on Wednesday. This is the fourth bail plea by Modi that has been refused by UK courts. Modi remains in custody at Wandsworth prison in south-west London and is due to appear for his next remand hearing via videolink on June 27.

Judge Ingrid Simler at the Royal Court of Justice in London delivered this judgement on grounds that there are substantial reasons to believe that Modi will fail to surrender if granted bail. She also ruled that after considering all the material "carefully", she had found strong evidence to suggest there had been interference with witnesses and destruction of evidence in the case and concluded it can still occur.

"It is difficult, in my judgement, to see how the UK is safe haven as there is no case of him being tried here. There are still places in world one can escape to which are an even safer haven from Indian investigating authorities," she said, countering Modi's lawyers' assertion that he did not have any incentive to flee the UK as he sees it as a safe haven of justice.

Listening to his bail plea on Tuesday, Justice Simler had ruled that the matter was of "some importance" and she would take some time to consider it. She had reserved her judgement for Wednesday.

The judge concluded that it is "difficult to predict" how Modi would react to developments in the extradition process, raising a strong incentive of failure to surrender before the courts to avoid returning to India. She also accepted the Westminster Magistrates' Court concerns that the diamond merchant had been based in the UK for only a short period of time and had no significant ties to the country.

On Tuesday, Modi's legal team tried to persuade Judge Simler to overturn the Westminster Magistrates' Court decision to deny him bail in three previous attempts. The lower court had similar misgivings as the UK High Court regarding Modi's intentions to surrender if he is allowed to go free.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Modi's legal team reiterated many of its assertions from previous three bail pleas before Westminster Magistrates' Court to claim that the diamond merchant did not pose a "substantial" flight risk, as claimed by the Indian government. His barrister Clare Montgomery once again offered to put Modi under house arrest and electronic monitoring at his lavish Centrepoint apartment in central London.

"The reality is that he is not the cold-blooded hardened criminal as claimed by the government of India but a jewellery designer from a long line of diamond dealers, and regarded as being honest, careful and reliable," Montgomery said.

However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing the case for the Indian government, argued that Modi had enough reasons and resources to flee to a country which does not have an extradition treaty with India.

The government of India has strong, friendly bilateral relations with the UK, including an extradition treaty, and this case involves widespread allegations which have been submitted in good faith by Indian authorities, said CPS barrister Nicholas Hearn, who argued that the threat of Modi interfering with witnesses and destruction of evidence continued to loom as part of the ongoing investigations.

He also reiterated that while Modi's legal team has attempted to characterise the case as a commercial matter, the Indian investigations carried out at high levels by two agencies the CBI and ED prove that it is a serious criminal case.

Modi has been in judicial custody since his arrest in March earlier this year. This three bail pleas were turned down by the Westminster Magistrates' Court. He had the automatic right to file an application in the higher court and did not require permission to appeal.

The first case management hearing in the extradition case took place at Westminster Magistrates' Court on May 30. Back then, Judge Emma Arbuthnot had directed the Indian government to confirm which prison Modi is to be held in if he were to be extradited to India, setting a 14-day deadline for a confirmation of the prison plans in India.

The CPS, representing the Indian government, has until July 11 to present an opening position statement laying out the prima facie case against Modi, with the next case management hearing set for July 29 when a timeline for extradition trial is expected to be laid out.

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