Educate People on GST Regime
INDIA would become 166th country in the world to have a systematic fiscal regime, as the goods and service tax bill has been adopted by Rajya Sabha. At least 15 state assemblies will also pass the bill helping achieve a dream for uniting India through trade. It is a mere coincidence that India has also fixed GST rate same as in Pakistan at 18 per cent; the nieghbouring country it implemented the taxation regime long back. The GST mechanism will induce much-desired uniform rates of commodities throughout the country, and is expected to reduce corruption, multiple taxes, cost on tax collection by the Centre and states. But GST implementation will also lead to heavy jerks (rise and fall) in prices of various commodities for which the central government should make the public ready. While luxury goods like cars and electronic gadgets will become cheaper, prices of commodities of day-to-day use like packaged food, readymade garments etc will rise substantially. The central government will also have to take steps to prevent unbilled sale of jewellery which will have highest tax increase to 18 per cent from the present nominal one-per cent excise duty and sales tax. The Centre should start a awareness drive about probable percentage of price difference for various commodities after implementation of GST so that people may plan their purchases accordingly before or after implementation of the new regime.
MADHU AGRAWAL, DELHI
Reach of Pothole-ridden Roads
BY now I am convinced that the potholes on all Indian roads surpass the human population of the country. I am somewhat perplexed as to why no politician or Governor attempted a ‘photo opportunity’ in filling up some of these potholes, like they so passionately did for the Swatch Bharat mission with brooms and gloves to impress upon the people. Perhaps they have run out of mackintoshes and spades! On a serious note, the rise of road accidents and deaths is alarming. It’s only in India that no strict action is taken against the concerned authorities. All VIPs travel on well-laid roads or by helicopters. Public money is used for their comfort with little concern for the people. Being in the risk consultancy business, I can assertively say that a majority of accidents are caused by bad conditions of roads and their layouts. Insurance companies ought to take this aspect seriously and discuss the condition of roads in order to cut down on claim payments. It’s the insurance contributions that are given away generously to the claimant for the neglect by the authorities – be it PWD or national highway authorities.
ALIC ALEXANDER, BORDA
Averting Mahad-type Tragedy in Goa
THE collapse of the old bridge over Savitri river in Mahad, Maharashtra, has triggered a human tragedy. Two passenger buses and unknown number of cars just vanished and have been untraceable. I shudder to imagine the ordeal the occupants of these ill-fated vehicles must have gone through. It would be no less than a miracle for them to survive. The speed of water was such that it is presumed that the vehicles must have been swept over 25 km away from the accident site. Only in May, this year, the Maharashtra government had cleared this bridge to be safe by plying a 20-tonne truck over it. The Mahad tragedy is an eye-opener to the kind of safety tests, which are grossly inadequate. Goans have been expressing concerns regarding health of bridges in Goa, and more specifically the Zuari bridge: one can actually feel vibrations while travelling in car, even at low speed, on this bridge. The Borim bridge is used for transportation of goods and heavy trucks ply over it. The authorities have clarified that they monitor bridges in Goa once in six months. This is very inefficient approach as any damage can occur in between the two monitoring periods. The Mahad tragedy has shown us how the test turned misleading within three months. More sophisticated systems are available today that consist of robotic arms, cameras and communication devices which continuously ‘talk’ to a satellite. Bridges experience vibrations in three dimensions – along, across and vertical. There is a fourth parameter – the effect of mighty splashes of water on support columns of bridges in torrential rains in the monsoon. Moreover, Goan bridges face problem of salinity. We need more sophisticated systems, as human lives are precious. In modern systems, vibrations are measured round the clock and chief engineer of the PWD can actually monitor these vibrations on a computer screen sitting in Panaji. If vibrations cross a threshold limit, SMS can be sent to alert authorities. This happens in automated manner. If a loaded truck goes over Zuari bridge at night, vibrations will increase and the police can get SMS alert. Such systems are in place at Seattle bridge USA, at a dam at Canberra, Australia, tall buildings in New York. Such systems should be put at Zuari and Borim bridges to facilitate automated minute-by-minute monitoring. They should become part of specifications for new Zuari bridge. This will help get early warnings of deteriorations thus saving loss of life and property. The solution costs just about one per cent of the cost of a bridge.
SANJIV NADKARNI, ST INEZ