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GST Council Finalises 4-slab Service Tax Structure

The GST Council headed by finance Minister Arun Jaitley has finalised a 4-slab service tax structure at the rates of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent as against the single rate of 15% levied on all taxable services. GST regime is scheduled to be implemented from July 1. In the next GST Council meeting, tax rates on gold and other precious metals will be taken up for discussion.

Salient Highlights

Luxury hotels, gambling, race club betting and cinema services will attract a tax rate of 28%.

Education, healthcare and non-AC rail travel will remain exempted from the GST tax regime. However, the states will be given the option to levy additional taxes on cinema to compensate for the revenue losses entailed due to merging of entertainment tax with GST. At present, the total tax incidence on cinema including entertainment and service tax is in the range of 55%. The states need to use the legislative route if it wants to levy additional tax on cinema.

States will also be permitted to levy any new tax as the taxation powers of the states have only been restricted and not abolished after the rollout of GST.

Telecom and financial services will be taxed at a rate of 18%.

Transport services will be taxed at the rate of 5%. Cab aggregators like Ola and Uber will have to pay 5% under GST in place of 6%. AC rail travel will attract 5% tax. Economy class air travel will attract 5 % GST while business class will attract 12%. Travelling on metro, local train and religious travel such as Haj Yatra would be exempted from GST.

The e-commerce players like Flipkart and Snapdeal would be required to shell out 1% Tax Collected at Source (TCS).

Non-AC restaurants and AC restaurants will attract a GST of 12% and 18% respectively.

Advertisements published in newspapers will attract 5% GST. At present it is exempt from service tax.

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Madhav Chitale Committee Recommends Measures for De-silting Ganga

The Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation had constituted a committee to prepare guidelines for desiltation of Ganga River last year. The four member committee is headed by Madhav Chitale (Expert Member of National Ganga River Basin Authority). The other members of the committee include Secretary, Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change and Dr. Mukesh Sinha, Director, Central Water and Power Research Station, Pune. The committee was constituted as per the commitment made by Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti while chairing the 6th meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority in New Delhi in July, 2016.

Salient Recommendations

The committee has recommended a series of measures that includes creation of sand registry for de-silting of the Ganga, study to guide de-silting activities and establishment of a technical institute to conduct the sediment budget.

The committee has recommended for the establishment of an institute for flood routing studies. 

The committee has observed that erosion, sediment transport and siltation are very complex phenomena and hence ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach cannot be applied to sediment management and control as the issues involved are regionally-specific. So, the committee suggests to evolve guidelines, better broad principles while planning and implementing de-silting works as the indiscriminate se-siltation works may cause more harm to ecology.

The committee recommends good agricultural practices, river bank anti-erosion works and reclamation of adjoining lakes along the river. The committee also favors de-silting of adjoining lakes to increase their storage capacities.

It has recommended dredging of shoals in the Farakka Barrage and usage of such sediments for re-grading the Farakka Feeder Canal. It has also suggested to modify  the bridges across the Ganga which are causing large afflux.

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National Green Tribunal Bans Open Defecation and Waste Dumping on Yamuna Floodplains

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar has banned open defecation and waste dumping on the floodplains of the Yamuna. It has also slapped an environment compensation of Rs 5,000 for people who violated the order. Apart from this, the NGT has also constituted a committee under the head of Delhi Jal Board CEO to oversee the cleaning works of the river and ordered it to submit reports at regular intervals.

The tribunal has also ordered the Delhi government and the municipal corporations to immediately take action against those polluting industries which function in residential areas. These industries are held as the major source of pollution to the river.

NGT’s above orders were issued after hearing a plea on the monitoring of execution of the ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017’.

Background

The NGT on May 1 ordered the inspection of the sewage treatment plants (STP) to make sure that the effluents are treated before it got released into Yamuna. Almost 67% of the wastewater reaching Yamuna are to be treated under the STPs set up under Phase 1 of the ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017’. Out of the total 14 STP projects that are to be built for treating wastewater, seven STP projects will be built by the Delhi Jal Board with its own funds.
The central government had sanctioned the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP)-I and YAP-II schemes for the states of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. YAP-III projects which are to be completed by December 2018 has been introduced in Delhi with financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The project involves works like sewerage/interception and diversion of drains, sewage treatment plants, low-cost sanitation and community toilet complexes, electric and improved wood crematoria among others.

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