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ACC, HP govt tax battle heats up over Gagal II unit

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After HP High Court dismissed its appeal against recovery of Rs 64 crore by state’s sales tax authorities, ACC moved SC with a SLP

The tax battle between ACC, India’s one of the leading cement companies, and tax authorities of Himachal Pradesh (HP) government is set to intensify over company’s second manufacturing unit at Gagal in Mandi district.

After the HP High Court dismissed the company’s appeal against recovery of Rs 64 crore by state’s sales tax authorities, ACC moved the Supreme Court (SC) with a Special Leave Petition (SLP).

Meanwhile, the cement maker has already filed a review petition before the state’s High Court.

A company’s spokesperson told Business Standard, “An SLP was filed with the Honourable Supreme Court and was heard on 1 April 2013. The Honourable Supreme Court directed withdrawal of the SLP since our review petition filed with the Honourable Himachal Pradesh High Court was still pending hearing and directed that we approach the Supreme Court again only after the Review Petition is heard and disposed off.”

The matter is in connection with ACC’s second manufacturing unit of 1 million tonne atGagal, for which the company said that it had availed sales tax incentives under the HP State Industrial Policy, 1991.

“Gagal Unit II, a new unit, is eligible for incentives, as per the Industrial Policy. However the Excise and taxation department, Himachal Pradesh, imposed certain restrictive conditions on eligibility,” added the spokesperson.

In its latest annual report, the company said, “The company had, as on Decebmer 31, 2011, claimed and accrued sales tax incentives aggregating to Rs 56 crore even though the sales tax authorities had introduced certain restrictive conditions after commissioning of the unit stipulating that incentive is available only for incremental amount over the base revenue and production (of Gagal I unit) prior to the commissioning of Gagal II.”

According to the report, ACC contends that Gagal II is a new unit, as decided by the HP High Court and confirmed by the Supreme Court while determining the eligibility for transport subsidy, and hence such restrictions are not applicable to the (new) unit.

“The department had recovered Rs 64 crore (tax of Rs 56 crore plus interest of Rs 7 crore) and the same is accounted as an amount recoverable,” adds the report.

Despite High Court’s dismissal of company’s appeal, ACC feels that the court had decided against the company based on erroneous understanding of certain facts and legal positions and has also failed to consider certain key facts in its order.

Himachal Pradesh is among the top states having high resources of limestone. With state’s tax incentives to attract investment, several companies set up their facilities in the state. ACC’s sister-concern company Ambuja too has presence in the state.

ACC is holding its annual general meeting (AGM) this friday. On the BSE, shares of the cement giant rose 1.4% on Tuesday to Rs 1,176.40, up Rs 16.3.

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal: Education Minister, 22 Teachers in Three Schools, SDM Test Positive for COVID-19

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Shimla-Ahead of re-opening of schools for regular classes from November 2,  22 teachers in three schools of Mandi district – Sarkaghat, Killing, Thunag- have tested positive. Today, Education Minister Govind Singh Thakur and a person in his staff also tested positive. He informed regarding the report through a social media post. He has quarantined himself at his residence, he said. He has requested other people who have come in contact with him recently to get tested and isolate themselves.

Besides, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Joginder Nagar, has also tested positive.

A total of 332 new cases with two deaths were recorded on Wednesday, according to the statistics provided by the Health Department. So far, about half a dozen ministers and the Chief Minister have tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered too. 

Four deaths have been reported today (till 12 pm), and the COVID-19 tally for the state had reached 21150, of which 2513 were active cases.  

So far, a total of 298 persons have lost their lives due to COVID-19, if the official statistics to be believed. The actual number of cases, as well as, deaths could be higher due to a community spread. However, so far, the state government has not given any projection regarding the actual numbers.

Till yesterday evening (9 PM), a total of 380415 persons had been tested for COVID-19 in the state.   

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Campus Watch

Nauni Varsity COH&F to Prepare ‘Peoples Biodiversity Registers’

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HP Peoples diversity registers

Hamirpur-The College of Horticulture & Forestry (COH&F), Neri, Hamirpur, a constituent College of the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni is preparing Peoples Biodiversity Registers (PBRs) of Hamirpur, Una, Bilaspur and Chamba districts and 15 blocks. The project has been funded by the HP State Biodiversity Board, Shimla for which the university has been sanctioned a budget of Rs 27.50 lakh, informed the Public Relation Officer of the varsity Suchet Attri.

He informed that these PBRs contain comprehensive information on biodiversity components such as plants, animals, microbes, insects and their possible use by the local communities in the BMC areas. Further, PBRs also include information on topographic and socio-economic parameters including human population, climate, topography, natural ecosystems, livestock resources, livelihood patterns, etc.

He said that in addition, these 32 types of formats including agricultural, fodder crops, fruits, medicinal, ornamental, timber plants, weeds, pests and insects of crops, microbial diversity, domesticated animals, fish diversity, the market for domesticated animals, market/fairs for domesticated animals, and other products, people-scape, landscape, waterscape, soil type, trees, shrubs, herbs, tubers, grasses, climbers, wild plant species of importance, wild plants of medicinal importance, wild relatives of crops, wild ornamental plants, wild fumigate/chewing plants, timber plants, other plants in the wild, wild animal species, wild aquatic biodiversity and wild aquatic species of importance are covered under the PBR.  

UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr Parvinder Kaushal said,

 “Once these PBRs are prepared, the University, the Biodiversity Board and the concerned BMCs will have all information about the biological resources, their sustainable use, threatened species, etc. found in different blocks of these districts. This information will be helpful for any type of future planning and research on conservation and sustainable harnessing and judicious use of biological resources found in these districts”.  

Attri informed further informed that these PBRs are being prepared as per the Biological Diversity Act 2002, and in accordance with the standardized formats of the National Biodiversity Authority, Chennai. Dr Dushyant Sharma, Assistant Professor, COH&F Neri has been designated by the University as a Nodal Officer for the preparation of these PBRs. Dr Sanjeev Banyal, Dr Deepa Sharma, Dr Ravi Bhardwaj and Dr Richa Salwan will also be a part of the project. 

The Biological Diversity Act 2002 has been enacted by the Parliament of India for conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of the biological resources. Under this Act, committees named as Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) have been formed at all 3371 local body levels in the State.

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Campus Watch

Jio TV Launches Three new Channels in Himachal for Elementary, Higher and Vocational Education

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Shimla– Jio TV has launched three new Elementary, Higher and vocational channels in Himachal Pradesh. The Government of Himachal Pradesh has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Jio TV on 20th August, 2020 so that Education Department could reach the students. The government said that soon two more channels would also be started for students.

E-content of every subject for students of 1st to 12th classes would be made available on Jio TV. If any student is unable to view this e-content as per the subject schedule due to any reason, then the missed e-content will be available in catch up throughout the week. On converting this facility to video on demand, the overall education is going to be made available through Himachal Pradesh Jio TV soon, the government said.

In the view of COVID-19 pandemic, currently, the state government is running WhatsApp groups for pre-nursery to 12th standard. Other than that, Gyanshala programme is being run for class 10th and 12th through Doordarshan Shimla.

According to the state government, online content is being prepared by 200 teachers (State Resource Group) of the state.

It’s pertinent to mention that students of government schools have been facing a huge loss in terms of studies as WhatsApp groups haven’t proved effective enough to be termed as online education. As most children in government schools come from economically weak background and rural areas, procuring smartphones and Internet service is no less than a challenge for them. While private schools are using web applications like zoom and google hangout to conduct online classes, according to several teachers, government school students and their parents are not taking study through WhatsApp groups seriously.

The state government has yesterday decided to open schools for regular classes for students of 9th to 12th standard. The syllabus has been cut short but still teachers are likely to face tough time covering it.

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