kottayam l thursday l june 23, 2022 l `9.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION Biden calls for 3-month suspension of fuel tax US President Joe Biden has also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief, the White House said Consumers to save 3.6% at the pump Move to salvage prez’s low ratings The federal tax on gas is 18.4 cents-a-gallon, while it is 24.4 cents on diesel. In his speech to Congress on Wednesday, Biden will suggest suspending fuel tax till September, the White House said. If the benefits are fully passed on to consumers, it will translate into 3.6% saving at the pump. Biden also called on energy firms to accept lower profit margins to raise oil production ■ White House had been considering a gas tax holiday for months, but held off till now over concerns how Congress will take it. The latest move comes at a time when Biden’s ratings have taken a battering as inflation soared to its highest level since the 1980s and the national average gas price has reached $5 per gallon $10 billion Estimated cost of the three-month tax freeze to the federal government CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Shinde rejects Uddhav’s CMship offer Pawar tries to play peacemaker; chief minister issues emotional appeal to the rebels; vacates official residence Rebels ‘elect’ him Sena legislative party leader S u d h ir S u r ya w a ns h i @ Mumbai 1,000 dead in deadly Af quake 1,500 people have been injured and many villages destroyed in the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan in more than two decades 6.1-magnitude quake struck around 1.30 am local time, catching many in their sleep Its epicentre was in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan, not very far from the Pak border Tremors were felt in Pakistan and India as well The toll may rise as many people are still trapped beneath the debris and rescue works are hampered by a lack of machinery Experts blame poor building quality and high population density for the high toll | P9 Property tax to go up, movie tickets may burn bigger hole in pockets ed before 31 March, 2023, the cabinet decided. Local bodies have to prepare and publish a GIS-based plan to collect tax. A facility for people to check tax details on the LSG website and e-payment would be set up. Entertainment tax for cinema halls would be hiked to 10%. LSG bodies will prepare software for ticket distribution and determining the tax. Theatres that use own programme should prepare a bridge software to pass the data to the LSG concerned, it was decided. The cabinet had recommended to reinstate Section 241 of the Kerala Municipality Act. It would make it mandatory for a person to inform the LSG body about the demolition of a building he or she owns or else pay tax until a formal communica● More on P4 tion is made. E xpress N ews S ervice @T’Puram The state cabinet on Wednesday approved the sixth Finance Commission’s recommendations to hike property tax and revise the rates every year as well as to raise entertainment tax. The recommendation to levy tax for houses built on more than 50 square metre (538.19 sq ft) area was also approved. The tax rate will be half for houses between 50 and 60 sq m. Additional tax of 15% will be levied on houses built on over 3,000 sq feet area on or after April 1. It was decided to make taxrelated information available on the local self-government (LSG) website. A tax arrears list will be prepared on ward/ division basis. Steps for property tax revision in rural and urban areas should be complet- Tax on houses above 50 sq m Approved 15% extra tax on houses above 3000 sq ft Complaint redressal system on online payment e-payment facility for property tax Local bodies to devise strategy to receive donations Technical agencies to be identified to implement PPP projects With the Uddhav Thackerayled government in Maharashtra wobbling following a massive revolt in the Shiv Sena, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday tried to save it by suggesting rebel leader Eknath Shinde be made the new chief minister to contain the haemorrhage, but the latter promptly rejected the offer. With the writing on the wall, Uddhav vacated Varsha, his official residence in south Mumbai, and left for his family’s Matoshree bungalow in Bandra. Pawar, the chief architect of the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi, called on Uddhav along with Supriya Sule and housing minister Jitendra Ahwad and proposed that the chief ministership be offered to Shinde while Uddhav stays as party president. His logic was the CM post is part of Shiv Sena’s quota and must stay that way . But Shinde, whose rebel group has numerical majority among lawmakers in the Shiv Sena, rejected the offer, saying his action was in the larger interests of the party, adding there will be compromise with the Hindutva ideology . Earlier in the day, Uddhav made an emotional webcast ap- CM Uddhav Thackeray after vacating his official residence on Wednesday | pti peal saying he was ready to resign as both CM and party head if the rebels meet him face to face and ask him to do so. But after the speech, Sena leader Sanjay Raut tweeted that they will fight till the last moment. Uddhav admitted that during the pandemic and due to his spinal surgery he could not in, teract with party lawmakers earlier, but was now meeting them. He lauded Pawar and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, with whose party the Sena is in an alliance, saying they were very cooperative and kind. “I am ready to resign as the CM. Our rebelling MLAs should choose a CM from amongst themselves. The CM should be from Shiv Sena... Why speak from Surat and Guwahati, please come to Mumbai and talk to me. If you do not want to The CBI action follows a complaint from the Union Bank of India, leader THE Central Bureau of Investigation of the 17-member consortium which has registered a case against Dewan had extended credit facilities to the Housing Finance Corporation pro- tune of `42,871 crore between 2010 moters Kapil Wadhawan, and 2018. It is alleged that Dheeraj Wadhawan and Bandra Books the Wadhawan brothers others for defrauding a conand DFL director Sudhakar DHFL allegedly sortium of 17 banks to the maintained 1,81,664 Shetty along with other actune of `34,615 crore, makcused entered into a conghost retail loan ing it the biggest banking spiracy to cheat banks. The accounts having fraud probed by the agency . FIR also names Amaryllis liability of over Following registration of I14,000 crore, kept Realtors LLP, Gulmarg Rethe case on June 20, the CBI altors LLP, Skylark Buildin a parallel set of on Wednesday carried out accounts database con, Darshan Developers, coordinated searches on 12 Sigtia Constructions, Creaknown as ‘Bandra properties of the accused Books’, officials said tor Builders, Township Dein Mumbai. velopers, Shishir Realty, “Searches were conducted at 12 lo- Sunblink Real Estate and others, incations in Mumbai at the premises of cluding public servants. accused, which led to recovery of inThe accused allegedly cheated the criminating documents,” the CBI consortium by siphoning off loans afsaid. ter creating shell companies. E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi Kingpin in wife’s house amid manhunt Alleged kingpin of Kuwait trafficking case enjoyed with family at wife’s house in Kannur as police searched for him, goes absconding again | P5 brahma kumaris Murmu’s spiritual calling at Mt Abu A wave of excitement swept across the normally sedate Brahma Kumari spiritual fraternity after learning that Droupadi Murmu was set to be the country’s new President. For Murmu has been a follower and a regular visitor of the Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Spiritual University at Mount Abu in Rajasthan. The meditation technique she lear nt from them helped her overcome grave personal tragedies in her life, as she unfortunately lost both her sons and husband within just five years. Murmu’s life has been full of struggles, hail as she does from the Santhal tribal community in Odisha. When one of her sons, meet me, at least call and convey your thoughts,” he said. Rebutting Shinde’s charge on compromising with Hindutva, Uddhav said: “Aditya Thackeray recently went to Ayodhya with Shinde. Hindutva is part of Shiv Sena. I may be the first Maharashtra CM who spoke on Hindutva in the state Assembly . I am not a person who will stick with the CM’s chair. I have already written the resignation letter,” said Uddhav adding that he would not like anyone voting from his party against him in the floor test. Uddhav said he was pained that his own people were saying he should not be the CM. He claimed he was not worried about the numbers. “Numbers are not important, people are,” he said trying to tug at the P7 rebels’ heartstrings. CBI books Wadhawan bros in `34,615 cr fraud R a j es h Asn a ni @ Jaipur File photo of Droupadi Murmu (C) at the Brahma Kumaris HQ in Rajasthan Laxman, died in an accident in 2009, she went into depression. That was when she went to the Brahma Kumaris headquarters to learn Raja Yoga meditation from the sisters there, informed the executive secretary of the institute, B K Mrityunjay . He said Murmu was able to somehow come out of the shock, rebels sought to paint the Uddhav government as corrupt, A day after the Shiv Sena sacked pointing to the serious allegarebel leader Eknath Shinde as tions against jailed Aghadi the head of the party in the Ma- leaders Anil Deshmukh and Naharashtra Assembly, his loyal- wab Malik. “The Congress and ists appointed him as the par- the NCP are using their office ty’s legislative party leader and and power to undermine the named a new party base and foundation whip. Four more our Shiv Sena cadre,” After shifting the 34 in Guwahati the resolution alleged. rebel MLAs to Guwa“The Sena is a party Another hati from Surat overwith strong ideology night, Shinde sought to chartered plane and was formed for consolidate his posi- with four Sena fighting for the rights tion, as the party brass MLAs arrived in the Marathi manoos. Guwahati on in Mumbai called a legSince the last two-andislative party meeting Wednesday to a-half years, our party join the rebel and threatened to inand its leadership comShiv Sena voke the anti-defection promised on its princilaw. Shinde’s group ap- legislators who ples. Severing the allipointed Bharat Goga- reached the city ance with the BJP has wale as the new party earlier, sources had a tremendous negsaid whip replacing Sunil ative impact on the votPrabhu. ers and party cadre at Shinde claimed he had sup- large,” the resolution read. port of 40 Sena MLAs and that It added that the party’s leadnumbers will go up by and by If . ers were facing tremendous Shinde can prove he has 37 of pressure from their electorate. them with him, then they will “We have been subjected to lot escape the defection law. of criticism for being part of A resolution adopted by the this corrupt government.” E xpress N ews S ervice @ Mumbai but then in 2013, her second son, too, died in an accident. And a year later, she lost her husband. “These tragic accidents brought an earthquake in her life, but she held the strings of spirituality so tightly that life got the strength to bear the adversities. She has a deep connection with spirituality and is constantly in touch with the headquarters of our institute,” Mrityunjay said. During an event at the Mt Abu centre, Murmu said, “I come here because brothers and sisters are very dear and I take their positivity and vibrations because the atmosphere here is different.” Many at Mt Abu recall her as saying that “when people change by taking advantage of the valuebased education of this institution, then India will rise again. Key witness says Latvian woman may have drowned E xpress N ews S ervice @T’Puram The prosecution suffered a major setback during the trial in the alleged rape and murder of a Latvian woman when the witness who conducted chemical examination of the body said drowning could not be ruled out and that no trace of semen was found in the body . The prosecution’s case is that two youths from Panathura lured the woman from Kovalam beach, raped her and murdered her in 2018. Her headless body was found days after she was reported missing from a wellness centre near Pothencode here. However, assistant chemical examiner Ashok Kumar P G of Chief Examiners Laboratory, who examined the samples collected from the body and prepared the chemical examination report, said identical microorganisms were found in the body and the water sample produced by the prosecution which meant drowning could not be ruled out. “The diatoms found in the body matched those found in the water sample produced by the prosecution. In drowning, such a similarity is noticed. So, chances of the Latvian’s death being due to drowning cannot ● More on P4 be ruled out,” he said. E X P R E SS R E A D Vijay Babu case: Victim, govt to file appeal in SC Patient’s death: Probe sabotage, say doctors Kochi: The government is likely to approach the apex court challenging the HC order granting anticipatory bail to actor-producer Vijay Babu, an accused in a rape case. The victim’s counsel also said that they are planning to challenge the order. P5 T’Puram: Doctors have demanded a comprehensive probe into the sabotage angle in the death of a a kidney transplant patient in the capital. They have also sought reinstatement of the two doctors who were suspended. P4
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