Govt. moves to clear the air
- Amid growing concerns over deteriorating air quality in India’s major cities, the government on March 6 launched the National Air Quality Index (AQI) that will put out real time data about the level of pollutants in the air and inform people about the possible impacts on health.
- Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the two-day Environment and Forest Minister's conference, the new index will initially cover 10 cities — Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad — each of which would have monitoring stations with Air Quality Index display boards. The government said the aim was to eventually deploy the index in all cities with a population of over one million.
- The government has been under immense pressure to take a strong stand on air pollution after a World Health Organization study of 1,600 cities released last year showed that Delhi was the world's most polluted capital. Another study, conducted by economists and public policy experts from the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago, Yale and Harvard University found that India's poor air quality reduces the lifespan of the average citizen by 3.2 years.
- “The Air Quality Index may prove to be a major impetus to improving air quality in urban areas, as it will improve public awareness in cities to take steps for air pollution mitigation,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said at the conference.
- The AQI is a global standard used to understand air quality. It takes multiple data on pollution already available with the country's Central Pollution Control Board and presents it as a colour coded scale with six levels. Dark green, the first level, indicates good quality air while maroon at the other end indicates severe pollution. For each category, the index identifies associated health impacts. For example when the scale touches maroon, the advisory reads: “May cause respiratory impact even on healthy people, and serious health impacts on people with lung/heart disease. The health impacts may be experienced even during light physical activity.”
Direct tax collection falls short of target
- Initial numbers suggest that direct tax collection is short of the revised target by over Rs.19,028 crore, but the Income Tax Department is hopeful of meeting the target.
- The department has, so far, collected Rs.6,85,972 crore during 2014-15 against the projected target of Rs.7,05,000 crore, thus falling short of Rs.19,028 crore as per the data internally released by the Department on April 4, a senior IT official told PTI here on Monday. In 2013-14, tax mop-up was Rs.5,83,000 crore.
- Officials believe that the figures are yet to come from some regions and once all the figures are in, which may take more than a week, the target would be met.
- So far only Delhi and Bengaluru zones have been able to meet the targets, the official said. New Delhi alone has collected Rs.1,02,083 crore in tax, up from Rs.86,619 crore in the previous fiscal, whereas Mumbai was able to mop up Rs.2,26,305 crore, short of the Rs.2,30,000 crore last fiscal.
- The department revised the direct tax collection to Rs.7,05,000 crore for the fiscal 2014-15 against the initial projection of Rs.7,36,000 crore in view of the sluggish economic growth.
Djokovic wins fifth Miami Masters title
- World No. 1 Novak Djokovic roared home in a 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-0 win over Andy Murray on March 5 to claim a fifth Miami Masters title.
- Djokovic beat Murray for the seventh consecutive time by showing superior stamina in the subtropical heat.
- “I could not ask for a better start of the season, winning three big titles,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic with Miami Open Cup
Sania Mirza-Martina Hingis win Miami Open title
- MIAMI (USA): Sania Mirza achieved yet another career milestone by capturing her 25th WTA doubles title as the Indian ace continued her dream start with Martina Hingis to win the Miami Open trophy, on March 6.
- The top seeded Indo-Swiss pair overcame a sluggish start to take the title with a 7-5, 6-1 scoreline against second seeded Russian team of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis with their
Miami Open's double title