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Shimla’s Popular Baljees Restaurant Shuts Down, Workers Protest Over Unpaid Dues Worth Crores

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Baljees shimla closed, workers protest

Shimla-Today, the iconic Baljees — a 65-years-old restaurant located on the Shimla Mall will be winding up its operation. While the media is highlighting Shimla’s mourning over the closing of Baljees, its 70 workers, who are now rendered jobless, are protesting for the last two days for their unpaid dues. Several of these workers have been serving in the restaurant for over four decades and have contributed a lot towards its growth.

The workers alleged that the restaurant has not paid their dues worth about two crores. As per the workers, these dues include gratuity, bonus, leave encashment, notice pay, retrenchment compensation etc.  However, the Baljees management had earlier assured that all the dues would be cleared before closing.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has also come in support of these workers. It said the Baljees not only violating the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 but also going against the orders passed by the State High Court on July 12, 2018. In its July 12 orders, the court had made it clear that the management of the restaurant would have to pay all the dues before handing over the building to its owner.  In case the management fails to do so, this action would be considered as a contempt of the court orders, the CITU said.

The workers have urged the district administration and district police to make the management of the restaurant comply with the orders of the court. Otherwise, the workers said, they would file a contempt of court petition along with more protests.

 The Baljees, which was considered a destination restaurant, had gained popularity among both locals as well as tourists. Several influential political names from Virbhadra Singh to Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to visit the restaurant, it is said.  

Chandra Baljee had set up this restaurant in 1954. It was expanded in 1972 after which it became famous for Indian and continental food. The decision to close the building had come in 2018 after Baljees management lost the legal battle against the owner of the building, Lok Nath & Sons. The battle had started over operation charges for the building.

In 2015, the District and Sessions Court had ordered eviction. Later, the matter reached the state High Court where operation charges were hiked from Rs 18,000 to 1.35 lakh per month.  However, the owner was demanding. Then, the case reached the Supreme court, and then back to the High Court. Finally, in July 2018, Baljees management and Alok Nath & sons arrived at a mutual compromise. The management decided to evacuate the building and sought one year’s time to wind up its operation. This deadline ended today.   

Misc News/Press Release

HP Vidhan Sabha Brawl: Suspension of Five Legislators Revoked

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hp vidhan sabha suspension of mlas revoked

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha witnessed the return of five suspended legislators of the opposition as a resolution was passed revoking their suspension after six days. It’s pertinent to mention that the State Government is to table the Budget for the 2021-22 session tomorrow.

A resolution moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Bhardwaj for the revocation of suspension was unanimously passed on Friday, Speaker Vipin Parmar informed.

Also Read: Ugly Brawl at HP Vidhan Sabha on Budget Session’s Opening Day, Five Congress Legislators Suspended for Rest of Session

Following a brawl between Congress and BJP legislators on the opening day of the budget session, five legislators including the opposition leader Mukesh Agnihotri, Harsh Vardhan Chauhan, Stapal Raizada, Sunder Singh and Vijay Kumar were suspended as the legislators of the ruling party passed a motion alleging misbehaviour with Governor Bandaru Dattatreya. An FIR was also lodged against these legislators at the Boileauganj Police Station. 

The opposition legislators had been staging a protest outside the assembly since their suspension, terming the decision to be one-sided. 

 

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Petrol, Diesel Prices Can be Cut, But Lack of ‘Political Will’ Keeping Prices in India Highest in World: SBI Economists

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Decreasing petrol and diesel price under gst sbi ecowrap report 2021

Shimla-Petrol and Diesel prices in India could be brought under control and their price could be reduced to Rs. 75 and Rs. 68, respectively, says the SBI’s Ecowrap report released by its Economic Research Department. The Indian Government can do this simply by brining these fuels under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the report said.

However, according to the report, lack of political will is keeping Indian oil product prices at one of the highest in the world. This lack of will arises from the fact that Centre and States are loathe to bring crude oil products under the GST regime as Sales Tax/VAT on petroleum products is a major source of own tax revenue for them. The states, in particular, would face a loss in revenue.

However contrary to this possibility, the government had been maintaining that it doesn’t control fuel prices. On February 17, 2021, on a day when petrol crossed the ₹100 mark, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had blamed it all on the previous governments. 

The report said that one of the unfinished agendas of the current GST regime is bringing petrol and diesel under GST.

Every state has its own tax structure. The states choose to levy a combination of ad valorem tax, cess, extra VAT/Surcharge based on their needs. These taxes are imposed after taking into account the crude price, the transportation charge, the dealer commission and the flat excise duty imposed by the centre. The multiple taxes have made petroleum products prices one of the highest in the world, the report said.

share of states in petrol taxes

The base price of Rs 75 for petrol and Rs 68 for diesel has been calculated on the following assumptions: Crude price at $60/bbl, exchange rate of Rs 73 for a dollar, transportation charges of Rs 7.25 for diesel and Rs 3.82 for petrol, dealer commission of Rs 2.53 for diesel and Rs 3.67 for petrol, cess of Rs 30 for petrol and Rs 20 for diesel, GST rate at 28 per cent and petrol consumption growth rate of 10% y-o-y and 15% for diesel y-o-y.

Using all these assumptions, the researchers have found that the base price for petrol and diesel comes out to be Rs 75 and Rs. 68, respectively at pan India level. At this base price, with multiple simulations Centre and States have a revenue deviation from budget estimates by only Rs. 1 lakh crore 90.4% of the GDP) after adjusting for the increase in consumption with the intended price cut.

The report further said that a dollar increase in the crude oil prices will push up the petrol price by around 50 paisa and diesel prices by around 150 paisa and bring down the overall deviation by around Rs. 1500 crore under the suggested baseline scenario.

If this tax structure is used for the Financial year 2022, when Centre and states taxes are already so high, we see that states which have the highest rates are losing revenue if they shift to this GST regime. But this flat taxation structure brings in uniformity and as per the calculations, it brings down the burden of taxes on the common man by almost Rs. 10-30 depending on the product consumed and the state in which it is consumed, the report said.

Additionally, it benefits some states which do not drastically tax their petroleum products, like Uttar Pradesh.

“Interestingly, our simulation exercise suggests that when crude oil/bbl declines by 10 dollars, Centre and states could save close to Rs 18,000 cres, if they keep the petrol prices at baseline Rs 75 and diesel at Rs 68 and don’t pass on the benefit to consumers,” the report said.

Further, the report recommended that the Government should build up an oil price stabilization fund which can be used in bad times for compensating revenue loss by cross subsiding fund saved from good times, without hurting the consumer.

Further, since November 2020, the prices of non-subsidized cylinders have increased from Rs. 594 to Rs 819 in Delhi, a substantial increase of Rs. 255 er cylinder. The data on DBTL (Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG) indicate that the subsidy amount has sharply plunged to merely Rs. 3,363 crores in April-December 20220 period from Rs 22, 635 in Financial Year 2020. There is negligible or no difference between subsidized and non-subsized cylinder.

Price hike in lpg cylinders by sbi report

The report also said that though the government has announced to give one crore more free connections to the needy over the next two years, affordability barriers still exist. The government should focus on the affordability issue and to achieve this, the SBI researchers have suggested a set of measures.

Separately, for the LPG cylinders, the report proposed an increased and graded subsidy to provide to poor consumers which can be tapered off over a period of, say, five years. For this, the Government can create a comprehensive merged database using database of Ayushman Bharat, PM-KISAN, PMJDY, PMUY and MUDRA and then provide these people with maximum four free cylinders in a year. Even if five crore people are eligible for this then the total cost to exchequer per year will be maximum Rs 16,000 crore.

Besides, the report suggested that the Government might cancel its borrowing planed in the last two weeks of March 2021, totaling Rs. 49,000 crores.

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Foundation Stone of Shiv Dham at Mandi Laid, Will Cost Rs. 150 Crore

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Shiv Dham Mandi model

Mandi: Shiv Dham construction at Mandi would cost over Rs. 150 crores to the State. It was informed during the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Shiv Dham Phase-I to be developed at Kangnidhar. The First Phase of this project would be completed at a cost of Rs. 40 crore, the government said.

The Shiv Dham would be developed in an area of 9.5 hectares. Shiv Dham would have replicas of twelve Jyotirlingam, a statue of Lord Shiva and Ganesh, Museum, Food Court, Herbal Garden, Nakshatra Vatika, Amphi-theatre, Orientation Centre, Car Parking etc. 

Further, it was informed that the foundation stone of multi-storey parking was laid near U-Block. An estimated amount of Rs. 100 crore would be spent on Public-Private Partnership mode, the government informed.

There is also a proposal to construct Rs. 27 crore Anaj Mandi (Grain Market) in Mandi, it was informed.

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