National News Analysis

23 May 2024, 17:32 PM

Income Tax Department Refunded Rs. 62,361 crore to more than 20 lakh taxpayers amid COVID-19 pandemic

In pursuance to the Government’s decision vide Press Note dated April 8th, 2020 to issue pending income tax refunds in order to help taxpayers in a COVID-19 pandemic situation, the Income Tax Department has issued tax refunds at a speed of 76 cases per minute from 8th April to 30th June, 2020. During this period of just 56 weekdays, the Central Board of Direct taxes (CBDT) has issued refunds in more than 20.44 lakh cases amounting to more than Rs. 62,361 crore. It is stated that taxpayers are experiencing this facet of the I-T Department which is not only taxpayer-friendly, but also that of a facilitator providing liquidity in this hard time of COVID-19 pandemic. Income tax refunds amounting to Rs. 23,453.57 crore have been issued in 19,07,853 cases to taxpayers and corporate tax refunds amounting to Rs. 38,908.37 crore have been issued in 1,36,744 cases to taxpayers during this period. Refunds of this magnitude and numbers have been issued completely electronically and have been directly deposited into the bank accounts of the taxpayers. Unlike what used to happen some years ago, in these refund cases, no taxpayer had to approach the Department to request for release of refund. They got refunds directly into their bank accounts. CBDT reiterated that taxpayers should provide immediate response to emails of the Department so that refunds in their cases too could be processed and issued right away. Such emails of I-T Department seek taxpayers to confirm their outstanding demand, their bank account number and reconciliation of defect/mismatch prior to issue of refund. In all such cases, quick responses from the taxpayers would enable the I-T Department to process their refunds expeditiously. **** Karnataka ASHA: Demonstrating the true spirit of a Social Health Activist About 1.59 crore households covered in a Vulnerability Mapping Survey by 42000 ASHAs Posted On: 03 JUL 2020 2:08PM by PIB Delhi Annapurna is an ASHA working in Tunganagar in Shivamogga District, Karnataka. She covers a population of 3000 in the slum area and has been working there since 2015, when urban ASHA were introduced as part of the National Health Mission. One of her key tasks as part of COVID-19 activities is to conduct household surveys. Karnataka’s 42,000 ASHAs have emerged as a crucial pillar in the State’s success in combating COVID-19. They have been actively participating in the COVID-19 household surveys and screening inter-state passengers, migrant workers, and others in the community for symptoms of COVID-19. Recognizing the increased vulnerability of certain population groups to COVID-19, in a one-time survey to identify households with the elderly, persons with co-morbidities, and immuno-compromised individuals, about 1.59 crore households were covered. ASHAs regularly monitor such high-risk groups in their area with periodicity of follow-up visits varying from once a day in the Containment Zones to once very 15 days in other areas. They also visit the houses of persons expressing complaints of ILI/SARI symptoms, and high-risk individuals who have called the State Health Department helpline numbers. Uniquely, ASHAs are part of the Rural Task Force headed by Panchayat Development Officer (PDO) at the Gram Panchayat level for addressing public grievances on both COVID-19 and non COVID-19 related services. Urban ASHAs have been on the forefront of dissemination of various awareness activities in the Fever clinics and Swab Collection Centres in Urban areas. They have also actively screened cases of ILI and SARI in the urban areas.  They are also part of the screening teams at the International and Interstate check-posts. Glimpses from Karnataka: ASHAs at work against COVID-19       ****** More than 2 Crore N95 Masks & more than 1 Crore PPEs distributed Free of Cost by Central Government to States Posted On: 03 JUL 2020 12:37PM by PIB Delhi Union Government along with States/UTs has been relentlessly working for prevention, containment and management of COVID-19. Union Government’s central role has been in strengthening health infrastructure to fight the pandemic. Along with augmenting COVID-19 facilities, Centre has been providing medical supplies free of cost to the State/UT governments to supplement their efforts. Most of the products supplied by Government of India (GOI) were not being manufactured in the country in the beginning, and there was a global demand due to the pandemic resulting in scare availability in the foreign markets. However, with the combined efforts of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of Pharmaceuticals, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Defence Research and Development Organisation  (DRDO) and others, domestic industry has been encouraged to manufacture and supply essential medical equipment like PPEs, N95 masks, ventilators etc., during this period. With the result, resolve for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ has been strengthened and most of the supplies made by GOI are domestically manufactured. Since 1st April 2020, Centre has distributed more than 2.02 crore N95 masks and more than 1.18 crore PPE kits to States / UTs / Central Institutions, free of cost. Also, more than 6.12 crore HCQ tablets have been distributed to them. In addition, so far, 11,300 ‘Make in India’ ventilators have been dispatched to various States / UTs / Central Institutions, out of which 6154 ventilators stand already delivered to various hospitals. GOI is also ensuring their installation/commissioning. This will help to bridge the massive gap in availability of ventilators in COVID ICU facilities. MoHFW is also supplying 1.02 lakh oxygen cylinders to States/UTs, out of which 72,293 have been delivered to strengthen oxygen beds there. Till now, 7.81 lakh PPEs and 12.76 lakh N95 masks have been supplied in Delhi, 11.78 lakh PPEs and 20.64 N95 masks in Maharashtra, and 5.39 lakh PPEs and 9.81 lakh N95 masks in Tamil Nadu by MoHFW. For all authentic & updated information on COVID-19 related technical issues, guidelines & advisories please regularly visit: and @MoHFW_INDIA. Technical queries related to COVID-19 may be sent to and other queries on and @CovidIndiaSeva . In case of any queries on COVID-19, please call at the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare helpline no.: +91-11-23978046 or 1075 (Toll-free). List of helpline numbers of States/UTs on COVID-19 is also available at . **** ‘PRERAK DAUUR SAMMAN’ NEW CATEGORY OF AWARDS INTRODUCED SEGREGATION OF WASTE INTO WET, DRY & HAZARD CATEGORIES, C&D WASTE PROCESSING, SANITATION STATUS OF CITIES ETC TO BE THE PERFORMANCE CRITERIA SWACHH SURVEKSHAN 2021 TOOLKIT LAUNCHED – SIXTH EDITION OF ANNUAL CLEANLINESS SURVEY OF URBAN INDIA INTEGRATED SBM-URBAN MIS PORTAL LAUNCHED LIGHTHOUSE CITIES OF NAVI MUMBAI, SURAT, KHARGONE AND KARAD SHOWCASED SOURCE SEGREGATION MODELS Posted On: 03 JUL 2020 4:01PM by PIB Delhi Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA), while launching the toolkit for Swachh Survekshan 2021, the sixth edition of the annual cleanliness survey of urban India conducted by MoHUA has stated that , “Every year, the Swachh Survekshan is redesigned innovatively, to ensure that the process becomes more robust, with focus on sustaining the behaviour change. Like in the last year, keeping in mind the Ministry’s efforts towards ensuring sustainability of the sanitation value chain, the SS 2021 indicators focus on parameters pertaining to wastewater treatment and reuse along with faecal sludge, he added. Also present on the occasion was Shri Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA who made a detailed presentation on the methodology and various parameters of Swachh Survekshan 2021. Sh Puri announced a new category of awards titled ‘Prerak Dauur Samman’ as part of Swachh Survekshan 2021.The Prerak Dauur Samman has a total of five additional sub- categories -Divya (Platinum), Anupam (Gold), Ujjwal (Silver), Udit (Bronze), Aarohi (Aspiring) – with top three cities being recognized in each. In a departure from the present criteria of evaluating cities on ‘population category’, this new category will categorize cities on the basis of six select indicator wise performance criteria which are as follows: • Segregation of waste into Wet, Dry and Hazard categories • Processing capacity against wet waste generated • Processing and recycling of wet and dry waste • Construction & Demolition (C&D) waste processing • Percentage of waste going to landfills • Sanitation status of cities While addressing the participants through a webinar, the Minister also touched upon how Swachh Survekhan has become a tool for citizen engagement in the spirit of a true ‘Jan Andolan’. “This year, the focus on citizen participation has taken a notch higher by introducing indicators that encourage innovations led by citizens, start-ups, entrepreneurs and Swachhata Champions amongst others”.  A key highlight of the event was also the launch of the integrated SBM-Urban MIS portal. Over the years, digital innovations have always been at the forefront of the Mission enabling scaling up and better monitoring of outcomes along with increased citizen engagement. The launch of the integrated MIS portal is an effort by the Ministry to bring the numerous digital initiatives on a single platform thus ensuring a unified and hassle-free experience for States and cities and leading the way towards the creation of not just a Swachh but a truly digital India. The virtual event also saw the signing of the Engagement and Coordination Arrangement (ECA) between MoHUA and the USAID which is a continuation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on co-operation in the field of WASH that was signed between GOI and USAID in 2015.   These launches were followed by a webinar on ‘Segregation at Source: Key to Solid Waste Management’ which was attended by over 1,000 State and Urban Local Body (ULB) officials and other stakeholders. The workshop saw presentations from lighthouse cities such as Navi Mumbai, Surat, Khargone and Karad who showcased their source segregation models along with the release of a report ‘Segregate, Segregate, Segregate’ by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). A workshop on ‘Source Segregation: The Key to Solid Waste Management’ was also organized on the sidelines and was attended by over 1000 State and Urban Local Body (ULB) officials and other stakeholders. Similarly, the crucial issues of legacy waste management and remediation of landfills have also been brought to the fore in this edition of Survekshan”.   As a prelude to encouraging cities to improve urban sanitation, MoHUA had conducted Swachh Survekshan 2016 survey for the rating of 73 cities in January 2016, followed by Swachh Survekshan 2017 conducted in January-February 2017 ranking 434 cities. Swachh Survekshan 2018, which became the world’s largest cleanliness survey, ranked 4203 cities followed by Swachh Survekshan 2019 which not only covered 4237 cities but was also the first of its kind completely digital survey completed in a record time of 28 days. Swachh Survekshan 2020 continued the momentum and saw an unprecedented participation of 1.87 crore citizens.  Going a step forward, to ensure sustainability of on-ground performance of cities, the Ministry has also introduced Swachh Survekshan League last year, a quarterly cleanliness assessment of cities and towns to be done in three quarters and 25% weightage integrated into the final Swachh Survekshan results.   Since its launch in 2014, Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) has made significant progress in the area of both sanitation and solid waste management. 4324 Urban ULBs have been declared ODF (4204 certified ODF), 1306 cities certified ODF+ and 489 cities certified ODF++.  Moreover, 66 lakhs individual household toilets and over 6 lakhs community/ public toilets have been constructed/ or are under construction. Additionally, over 59,900 toilets across 2900+ cities have been made live on Google Maps. In the area of solid waste management, 96% of wards have 100% door-to door collection while 66% of the total waste generated is being processed. A total of six cities have been certified as 5 Star, 86 as 3 star and 64 as 1 star under the Star Rating Protocol for Garbage Free Cities.   Swachh Survekshan has caught the imagination of citizens and stakeholder alike and the increasing participation with every passing year is testimony to the way in which the citizens have taken complete ownership of the Swachhata of their cities. The survey has thus succeeded in fostering a spirit of healthy competition among towns and cities to improve their service delivery to citizens, towards creating cleaner, more habitable cities. Swachh Survekshan has today made ‘Swachhata’ a thing of motivation and pride – something to look forward to and aspire for.  While Mysuru had won the award for the Cleanest City of India in the first edition of the survey, Indore has retained the top position for three consecutive years (2017,2018, 2019). The results for Swachh Survekshan 2020 will be announced shortly by the Ministry.   Knowledge management and capacity building continues to be a key focus of the Ministry. With this objective in mind, the Ministry launched two documents prepared by the Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO) – the ‘Advisory on On-Site and Off-Site Sewage Management Practices’ and the guidance book on ‘Segregated Collection and Transportation of Municipal Solid Waste’. While the first will be of immense use to States and cities in adopting integrated on-site and off-site sewage treatment technologies, the latter elaborates on various aspects of segregated waste collection and transportation systems along with case studies and best practices from different ULBs.   *********** Comments invited on All India Tourist Vehicles Authorization and Permit Rules, 2020 New Rules proposed to promote tourism across the country, and enhance revenue of the States Posted On: 03 JUL 2020 9:32AM by PIB Delhi The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued a notification for amendment to National Permit regime under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989 for promoting tourism across the country. The Ministry is in the pursuit of providing seamless movement to the tourist passenger vehicles after the success of goods carriage vehicle under National Permit Regime. This motive has culminated into a new set of rules, which henceforth will be known as, “All India Tourist Vehicles Authorization and Permit Rules, 2020”  published vide GSR 425( E) dated 01 July 2020 for public and stakeholders consultation, which shall go a long way in promoting tourism across the States in our country on one side, while enhancing the revenue of State Governments. The same was discussed in the 39Th Transport Development Council Meeting and was appreciated and concurred by the state participants.  Under this new scheme, any tourist vehicle operator may apply for an “All India Tourist Authorization/Permit” through online mode. All such authorizations/permits shall be issued, after all relevant documents submitted as stipulated in the rules and due nationwide fees deposited towards such authorization/permit, within 30 days of submission of such applications, subject to all compliances being met by such an applicant as one stop solution. Moreover, the scheme entails flexibility in the form of authorization/permit being granted, as the case may be, and shall be valid for a period of three months or its multiples thereof not exceeding three years at a time. This provision has been incorporated keeping in mind those areas of our country where there is a limited season of tourism and also for those operators who have limited financial capacity. This scheme will render consolidation of a central database and fees of all such authorization/permits, which might give a sense of tourist movements, scope of improvement, promotion of tourism and help increase revenues generated through such registrations. All existing permits shall continue to be in force during their validity. Travel and tourism industry in our country have increased manifold in last ten-fifteen years. The growth has been contributed by both domestic and international tourists, and there is a trend of high expectation and consumer experience. *** COVID-19 serves as a clarion call to achieve Atmanirbhar Bharat, says Dr Raghunath Mashelkar Dr. Mashelkaremphasizes on five pillars of ‘atmanirbharata’ – Buy, Make, Buy to make better, Make to buy better, and Make it together (building public-private partnerships) Posted On: 03 JUL 2020 2:12PM by PIB Delhi COVID-19 has brought into the country a clarion call for everyone to rebuild, recover, and re-imagine ourselves in order to achieve Atmanirbhar Bharat, said Padma Vibhushan, Dr Raghunath Anant Mashelkar. He was delivering a talk on “Building Atmanirbhar Bharat with Atmabishwas” under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Summer Research Training Programme (CSIR-SRTP), 2020, programme coordinated by the North East Institute of Science and Technology (CSIR-NEIST). Dr Mashelkar said that in our endeavour to attain self-reliance or Atmanirbhar Bharat, we cannot isolate ourselves from the world but integrate with global supply chain. He emphasized on five pillars of ‘atmanirbharata’ – Buy, Make, Buy to make better, Make to buy better, and Make it together (building public-private partnerships). He said that he has unequivocal confidence in the youth power of the country, which needs to be harnessed with a back-up of technology and trust, for our country to flourish. Dr Mashelkar was of the view that the ‘Make in India’ initiative should not only focus on assembling products, but inventing in India as well. He said that assembling products will no doubt create jobs, but for newer substitutes, we need to do vigorous research. Underlining the importance of research, he said research converts money into knowledge and innovation converts knowledge into money, so both needs to go hand in hand for our nation to prosper. He emphasized that we have talent and technologies but now we need to build trust or believe in our capabilities. This is important because the post-COVID-19 world would be looking for an alternative destination to China as the trust on them is lost. And India has emerged as a viable alternative for which India needs to build proper logistics and adequate infrastructure to ease the process of doing business and build a favourable climate for foreign investments. He said that India’s fortune is going to change in a big way because she is recognised as one of the politically trusted countries of the world. He concluded by elucidating upon 10 Mashelkar mantras (or the 10 RAM Mantras), namely: (1) Aim high – Aspirations are your possibilities; (2) Perseverance; (3) We are always a part of the solution not the problem; (4) Create your own doors when all the other doors are closed; (5) Work hard in silence, let success make all the noise; (6) Three important attributes – Innovation, Passion, Compassion in the heart; (7) We can do anything but not everything – Focus on what you do; (8) Be positive; (9) New skills and new technologies are required as the world is changing; and (10) There is no limit to human imagination, human achievement, and human endurance. His message to the youth brigade is to believe that the best is yet to come and urged everybody to keep working hard and age should not be a deterrent, and that will only take our country to the zenith, which is his dream for an Atmanirbhar Bharat with ‘atmabishwas’. ***** IIT Hyderabad uses artificial intelligence to study supply chain network of biofuels Dr Kishalay Mitra: “In India, biofuels generated from non-food sources is the most promising source of carbon-neutral renewable energy Posted On: 03 JUL 2020 2:11PM by PIB Delhi –By: Jyoti Singh Bio-derived fuels are gaining widespread attention among the scientific community across the world. The work on biofuels is in response to the global call for reducing carbon emissions associated with the use of fossil fuels. In India too, biofuels have caught the imagination of researchers. For instance, researchers of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad have started using computational methods to understand the factors and impediments in incorporating biofuels into the fuel sector in India. A unique feature of this work is that the framework considers revenue generation not only as an outcome of sales of the biofuel but also in terms of carbon credits via greenhouse gas emission savings throughout the project lifecycle. The model has shown that if bioethanol is integrated with mainstream fuel, the costs associated with it are follows: production cost 43 per cent, import 25 per cent, transport 17 per cent, infrastructure 15 per cent, and inventory 0.43 per cent. The model has also shown that the feed availability to the tune of at least 40 per cent of the capacity is needed to meet the projected demands. Kapil Gumte and Dr Kishalay Mitra Dr Kishalay Mitra, lead researcher, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Hyderabad, said, “In India, biofuels generated from non-food sources is the most promising source of carbon-neutral renewable energy. These second-generation sources include agricultural waste products such as straw, hay and wood, among others, that do not intrude upon food sources.” The team has considered multiple technologies available for bioenergy generation across several zones in the country and performed a thorough feasibility study using data of suppliers, transport, storage and production, among others, published by the Indian Government.  Elaborating on this research, Kapil Gumte, Research Scholar, IIT Hyderabad, said, “We use machine learning techniques to understand the supply chain network. Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence in which the computer learns patterns from available data and updates automatically to produce an understanding of the system and predictions for the future.”  “The techno-economic-environmental analysis on country-wide multi-layered supply chain network and the use of machine learning techniques have helped us capture the uncertainty in forecasting demands and other supply chain parameters and their effects on the operational and design decisions in the long run,” added Dr Mitra. The results of this work have been published in the Journal of Cleaner Production. *****

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