www.freepressjournal.in | twitter.com/fpjindia Reg. No. Mcs/048/2018-20; RNI No. 1541/1957 I M.p.c.s office Mumbai-400001 RCOM SAYS IT OWES ANNUS HORRIBILIS: A YEAR RS 26K CR, BANK FRAUD LAID WASTE BY PANDEMIC CLAIM UNJUSTIFIED Pg 13 Pg 10 FPJ LIST OF THE BEST MOVIES OF 2020 Pg 21 310c. 180c. Sunrise: 07:12 am Sunset: 06:12 pm Vol. 64 No. 208 | THURSDAY | DECEMBER 31, 2020 | 15 Pages | EDITIONS: Mumbai*, Pune, Indore, Bhopal, E-Paper EDIT 2020 has truly been an unforgettable year — one in which social distancing, the lockdown and work from home became the new normal. Amid all the chaos (financial crisis, unemployment, the migrant exodus and more), there were those individuals, COVID warriors as they are called, who went out of their way and soldiered on selflessly to bring a little sunshine in people’s lives. The FPJ spotlights and honours the work of such Mumbaikars... check out our special ‘Angels of Mumbai’ pages with today’s edition. 5-star ruckus at BMC Oppn comes down heavily on nod for Rs 9.52 crore waiver for Taj hotel by cash-strapped corporation Hotel Taj Mahal is occupying 800 sq m of public road and over 1,100 sq m of footpath space, for which Rs 10.18 crore is payable The hotel placed barricades on a portion of the road and footpath, citing security reasons after the 26/11 terrorist attack. BETWEEN THE LINES I-T RETURN DATE JAN 10 T he Finance Ministry on Wednesday extended the last date for filing of income tax returns by ordinary taxpayers for the assessment year 202021 from December 31 to January 10, while extending the dates for others also for the third time. On Wednesday, the social media was flooded with pleas for extension of the due date. The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the Assessment Year 2020-21 by taxpayers, who are required to get their accounts audited and companies has been further extended to 15th February, 2021. Earlier, with only two days left for the filing of IT returns, there was a scramble among taxpayers to put their papers in order. Some of them were facing difficulty in obtaining receipt of Aadhaarbased OTP for the purpose of e-verification of ITRs filed. The income tax department had put out a reassuring tweet saying it was discussing the matter with authorities. It was further clarified by the department that, while filing of ITR is to be done within the stipulated period, the everification of ITR filed can/may be done with Aadhaar OTP or other options within 120 days from the date of filing of the ITR. In order to verify the ITR using the Aadhaar-based onetime password (OTP), the candidate's mobile number should be linked to Aadhaar card and registered in the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) database. Apart from this, the PAN card must be linked with Aadhaar. More than 4.54 crore Income Tax Returns for AY 2020-21 have already been filed. Yet, the income tax department was tweeting every hour reminding taxpayers about the deadline of December 31, 2020. An extension has been also granted for furnishing of annual CGST returns for the financial year 2019-20 -- from December 31 to February 28, the announcement said. To provide relief for the third time to small and middle class taxpayers in the matter of payment of self-assessment tax and whose liability is up to Rs 1 lakh, the deadline has been extended to January 10 in case of ordinary taxpayers and up to February 15 for others. The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the Assessment Year 2020-21 by taxpayers, who are required to furnish report in respect of international/ specified domestic transactions, has been further extended to 15th Feb. The standing committee has allowed a waiver of Rs 9.52cr without letting the opposition discuss the matter. UK nod to Oxford vaccine but India is in no tearing hurry ADITI KHANNA London The UK on Wednesday approved a cheaper and easyto-handle COVID-19 vaccine developed by scientists at Oxford University and produced by AstraZeneca. This is the second coronavirus vaccine to be cleared for rollout in Britain after the Pfizer/BioNTech jab. The Oxford vaccine also has a tie-up with the Serum Institute of India, which has been keenly watching the evaluation by the British regulator, after the final data was submitted. The approval by the British regulator means the vaccine is both "safe and effective." "It is truly fantastic news and a triumph for British science - that the vaccine has been approved for use. We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible," said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The transportation and storage requirements mean that it needs to be kept at temperatures of 2C to 8C, PRATIP ACHARYA / Mumbai Despite the strong objection of opposition leaders, the standing committee of the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) approved the proposal to waive the Rs 9.52 crore to be paid by the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai, on Wednesday After deferring . the matter multiple times, the civic standing committee gave its final nod to the waiver, without letting the opposition discuss the matter. Hotel Taj Mahal Palace, near the Gateway of India in Colaba, has placed barricades on a portion of the road and footpath outside its premises, citing security reasons after the 26/11 terrorist attacks in 2008. According to the BMC, which is similar to a conventional fridge, for up to six months. This is ideally suited for Indian conditions. Though each person will require two doses, it will be easier to transport and deliver; as against this, the storage and delivery of the Pfizer vaccine is a logistical challenge in a country like India with its huge population. CONTD. ON P9 14 more test +ve for new corona strain FPJ NEWS SERVICE / New Delhi Fourteen more people who returned to India from the United Kingdom have tested positive for the new UK strain of coronavirus, taking the tally to 20. It is understood that from November 25 to December 23 midnight, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK. How many of them are carrying the strain is a matter of conjecture, thus far. The poor global response to the new mutant, which is 70 more transmittable, can be gauged from the fact that it was first detected in September this year in the United Kingdom. It became a public scare only by mid-December, finally leading to India and other nations suspending flight operations to and from the UK on December 23. (These flights will remain suspended till January 7, as per the new order of the ministry.) Incidentally, the presence of the new variant has already been reported by Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore. The samples of all recent Covid-19 positive cases are being genome sequenced to ascertain the extent and scale of the mutant menace in India. even the Mumbai Police have acknowledged the security requirement for which the road and footpath are required to be barricaded. Following this, the BMC decided to waive the amount. According to the BMC’s proposal for a waiver, the hotel has occupied around 800 square metres (sq m) of public road and over 1,100 sq m of footpath space, for which over Rs 10.18 crore is payable. Of the Rs 10.18 crore, the BMC has proposed to entirely waive around Rs 8.85 crore for the occupation of footpath, as requested by the hotel which said the exercise of barricading parts of the footpath had been undertaken for security reasons and not for commercial purposes. On the remaining amount of Rs 1.33 crore payable by the luxury hotel, the BMC has proposed to give a 50 per cent waiver. The hotel has already paid Rs 66 lakh, while the remaining amount of Rs 9.52 crore was waived by the civic body on Wednesday . This led to the Opposition in the civic body comprising of , the Congress, the NCP and the Samajwadi party which are , allies of the Shiv Sena in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) state government, raising a ruckus. Meanwhile, the standing committee, chaired by a Shiv Sena corporator, passed the proposal. “The BMC is providing such preferential treatment to the hotel because there are people CONTD. ON P9 PANDEMIC CURBS REMAIN TILL JAN 31 Train services will depend on trend in new year SANJAY JOG / Mumbai To prevent the spread of Covid-19 and its new variant, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday extended the surveillance, containment and caution guidelines till January 31, 2021. However, the government order is silent on the reopening of schools and colleges and also on the full-scale resumption of Mumbai suburban trains. According to Maharashtra Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope, full-scale resumption of train services will depend on the COVID19 trend in the new year. Currently only , certain categories of commuters, including those providing essential services, and women, can travel by local trains in the Mumbai region after obtaining a special pass. "If (Covid-19) cases are not spiralling, a decision on resumption of suburban services (for all) will be taken. The government is keeping a close watch on the situation," he said. Amid concerns over UK returnees testing positive for the new Covid-19 variant, Tope US nurse tests positive days after vaccine AP Washington An ICU nurse in San Diego, who had received Pfizer’s shot against COVID-19 on December 18, has tested positive for the virus. Matthew W a 45-year-old nurse in San , Diego, told ABC News affiliate that after receiving the vaccine he had only experienced soreness in the arm as a side-effect but six days later, after working a shift in the COVID-19 unit, he had chills, muscle pain and fatigue. A coronavirus test confirmed that he was positive. CONTD. ON P9 said so far no patient had been detected in the state. He told The Free Press Journal, ‘‘The government is keeping a close vigil and has stepped up testing at the airports. Of the 43 passengers who have returned to Maharashtra from the UK, not a single one has tested positive for the new coronavirus strain.’’ Since December 23, the state government has ordered an extensive survey of passengers who have come from the Middle East, Europe and South Africa. The order on the extension of the lockdown was issued by Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar who explained that he was doing so under Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, read with all other enabling provisions of The Disaster Management Act, 2005, He added that the activities already allowed and permitted from time to time shall continue. ‘‘The activities already allowed and permitted from time to time shall continue and all earlier orders shall be aligned with this order and shall remain in force up to 31st January 2021,’’ the order said. , CONTD. ON P9 “If you get the cool breeze which is only possible when this yoga (union) takes place with the All-pervading-power, all your chakras get enlightened.” Record sale of 18,000 homes in city this month Her Holiness Mataji Nirmala Devi SWEETY ADIMULAM Mumbai The 'stamp of relief ' felt by homebuyers is evinced by the record sale of 18,000 homes in Mumbai so far this month -- the two per cent relief on stamp duty registration till December-end, offered by the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government to encourage the sale of houses in the STAMP pandemic has proved to be a hit. This is the highest number of houses sold in the city in December in the history of the real estate market. The stellar sales have raked in Rs 6,48,32,82,117 crore in revenue for the state exchequer through stamp duty accord, ing to sources from the realty industry . A total of 24,000 registrations have been recorded in the city and its suburbs for the period of December 1-23, according to the records available with the stamp duty registration office. However, these registrations also include rental agree- ments, mortgage and sales deeds and so on. The revenue recorded from all these registrations is Rs 5,39,21,25,728 crore. Real estate pundits say demand has been on the rise ever since the stamp duty was reduced and new project launched by developers in the mid-to-premium segment, along with discounts and other ofOF RELIEF fers. There were many buyers who took advantage of the two per cent reduction in stamp duty until December 31, 2020. From January 1, 2021, this rate will go up to 3 per cent. Manju Yagnik, VCP Nahar , Group and Senior Vice President, NAREDCO Maharashtra, said, "Record sales registered in December is a reflection of customer confidence in the sector and showcases the revival in demand for more spacious homes. The increased sales are also an indication of the quick economic recovery resulting in additional job creation in the industry ." ONLINE MEDIA REPORT Chandigarh/ New Delhi In what may be seen in some quarters as a fallout of its ham-handed handling of the farmers’ agitation, Haryana's ruling BJP-JJP combine received a jolt in municipal elections on Wednesday losing mayoral , contests in Sonipat and Ambala, as well as three of the five other civic body polls. Two of those three defeats were in politically sensitive Hisar's Ukalana and Rewari's Dharuhera - both of which are perceived as strongholds of Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala's Jannayak Janata Party reports , NDTV The defeats have come . within a year of the BJP-JJP combine coming to power and amid protests over three agriculture laws passed by the BJP the channel adds. , CONTD. ON P9 BJP front jolted in Haryana local polls Some momentum but not enough Farm talks move into next round OUR BUREAU New Delhi Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday claimed after the sixth round of talks with the protesting farmers that a consensus has been reached on two of the four issues listed by them and said the next round will be held on January 4. The union leaders, however, dismissed his claim, asserting that the issues on which the government had yielded in the 5-hour-long meeting were secondary; it did not concede – rather, it rejected outright -- their main demand for rollback of the three contentious farm bills and provision of a legal guarantee to the Minimum Support Price. This is no progress, they 7asserted. The government agreed to two demands – to take back the stubble burning and electricity bills; the first will bring a perceptible improvement in the ambient air of Delhi and the neighbouring states; and the second intends to cut down the power subsidy being extended to the farmers. The farmer unions said they had rejected outright CONTD. ON P9 Let the umpire take the call, in Test cricket at least BJP drops ‘shooter’ CONTD. ON P9 FPJ SPECIAL NIKHIL BHAGAT / Mumbai The Indian team found itself at the receiving end in the recently concluded Boxing Day Test with Australia as regards the 'umpire's call' for leg-before-wicket decisions. In all the instances, the on-field umpire had ruled the batsmen not out and the DRS technology had failed to overrule the decision, although the ball was clipping the stumps, as 'not enough of the ball' was hitting the stumps. According to the current rules, if a 'not out' decision is given by the on-field umpire, to overrule it, the DRS (Decision Review System) must show more than 50 per cent of the ball hitting the wicket. And if the umpire raises his finger, to overrule it, the DRS must show that no part of the ball hit the wicket. Hence the initial decision made by the on-field umpire assumes significant importance. The umpire's call has riled many cricketing greats of yore. Sachin Tendulkar, for one, feels that if the ball is clipping the bail and the umpire has given not out, that decision should be overturned. ''The umpire's call is too confusing and is unfair to bowlers also," he says. Shane Warne is also of the opinion that "if the ball hits the stumps, it cannot be out and not out at the same time". Sunil Gavaskar too agrees but also mentions that "if everything clipping the stumps is given out for an lbw decision then matches would become very short". The ball-tracking technology (Hawk-Eye) in DRS for leg-before decisions has a margin of error. It is the post-impact trajectory of the ball which the technology projects that is questionable. This again depends on the speed of the ball and the amount of spin on the ball. Ground conditions too would impact the trajectory Hence, if a batsman were to be . given out, if say five per cent of the ball were , to hit the stumps, then it would not be fair. That is the reason the umpire's call was introduced in the first place. CONTD. ON P9 within hrs of entry OUR CORRESPONDENT / Lucknow Kapil Gujjar, the alleged AAP member who had fired at the anti-CAA protestors in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh earlier this year, was expelled from the BJP hours after the party inducted him. The BJP unit in Ghaziabad claimed in a press statement that they did not know of Gujjar’s past when he was inducted into the party on Wednesday morning. In February this year, Kapil Gujjar aka Kapil Baisala had fired twice in the air at Shaheen Bagh, where a protest was underway After being overpow. ered by police personnel, he shouted "Jai Shri Ram" and said, "Hamare desh me aur kisi ki nahi chalegi, sirf Hinduon ki chalegi (only Hindus will rule in our country , no one else)," as he was taken into custody by Delhi Police.