Vol. 65 No. 176 | WEDNESDAY | NOVEMBER 24, 2021 | 14 Pages | Crypto Bill to be tabled; govt intends to create official digital currency, prohibit private players Bill to Ban cyber cash OUR BUREAU New Delhi The government is likely to table a Bill in the winter session to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India, subject to certain exceptions, to promote the underlying technology and its uses. The government's objective is "to create a facilitative framework for the creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India." Currently there is no regulation or any , ban on the use of cryptocurrencies. Against this backdrop, PM Modi, earlier this month, held a meeting with senior officials, from which came indications that strong regulatory steps could be taken to deal with the issue. Recently there has been a spike in adver, tisements, some of them featuring film stars, promising easy and high returns on investments in cryptocurrencies; witgh that has emanated concern that such currencies are being allegedly used for luring investors with misleading claims. Last week, the Standing Committee on Finance, chaired by BJP member Jayant Sinha, met the representatives of crypto exchanges, Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BACC), among others, and concluded that cryptocurrencies should not be banned, but be regulated. CONTD. ON NATION PAGE US, India bid to tame oil prices MORE TAX SOPS ON SCRAPPING OLD VEHICLES ON CARDS: MINISTER EDIT DRAFT DATA PROTECTION BILL NEEDS WIDER DEBATE 330c. 230c. Sunrise: 06:51 am Sunset : 05:59 pm India to release 5mn barrels from strategic reserves; US will tap 50mn barrels; move could impact petrol prices OUR BUREAU / New Delhi that India, which has stored 5.33 million tonnes or about 38 million barrels of crude oil in underground caverns at three locations on the east and west coast, is releasing stocks to cool down prices. The US, in turn, will release 50 million barrels from its strategic reserves while China has said it is working India will release 5 million barrels of crude oil from its emergency stockpile in tandem with the US, China, Japan, South Korea and the UK to rein in international oil prices, the government announced on Tuesday . This is the first time ever BMC poll may be postponed To facilitate remapping of wards since their number has increased; will give MVA, BJP extra time to step up voter outreach SANJAY JOG Mumbai Press Journal, “The BMC cannot simply add nine wards in the delimitation exercise which it has completed recently but will , have to revise it. It will have to conduct a fresh exercise after receiving directions from the State Election Commission (SEC). This will be possible after the state government issues an ordinance on increase in the number of wards as the state legislature session is not underway . There is every possibility that the election will be postponed by at least two to three months.” CONTD. ON NATION PAGE Elections to the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are expected to be postponed as the civic body will have to undertake a fresh exercise in the remapping of its wards, from northwest to southeast Mumbai, in the wake of the state cabinet’s decision to increase the number of wards to 236 from 229. This makes it likely that the upcoming election scheduled for February may have to be postponed to April or May . A senior Maha Vikas Aghadi minister told The Free PHOTO BY BL SONI on the quantum. The decision to collectively discharge crude reserves, after OPEC+ ignored calls to significantly boost production, marks a diplomatic win for the US and a challenge to the tenacious hold that Saudi Arabia, Russia and other OPEC producers have on the market. But the move is not without @Rs 100 per kg, tomato brings on the blushes unseasonal rain has damaged crops in produce-growing areas W Poll Pourri Price comparison of vegetables: Vegetable Cauliflower Cabbage Brinjal Ladies finger Carrot November 11 (Retail price in Rs per kg) November 23 (Retail price in Rs per kg) Rs 20 Rs 60 Rs 60 Rs 30 Rs 40 Rs 40 Rs 80 Rs 80 Rs 80-Rs100 Rs 80-Rs100 When can city say 'cheers' to petrol & diesel? COMMENT Peas Rs 40 Rs 80 Seamless mobility if you have UTS app, universal pass portal to the railway booking counters to buy tickets. This facility will be available on Android Google Play Store and Apple App Store from November 24. Those who have already downloaded the UTS app in the past will have to up- PBS officially a ‘proclaimed offender,' now SACHIN GAAD Mumbai SP has already allied with Suheldeo Rajbhar Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), Mahan Dal and Janwadi Kranti Party. All these small parties have a base in east UP while in the west RLD is dominant. SP is already in talks with a few more small outfits, including Apna Dal (Krishna Patel) and Jan Adhikaar Party. With that, Akhilesh hopes to cover both his east and west flanks. The Jat population is about 1.8 per cent in UP but in 25 district of west they constitute , 18 per cent of the total electorate. Once a dominant force in west UP RLD could not win a , single seat in the 2014 & 2019 Parliament elections. It, however, won a single seat in the 2017 assembly polls but its lone legislator switched his loyalties to the BJP . Tomato Days after a Mumbai court declared former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh as a proclaimed offender, a notice in this regard has been pasted outside the former police chief's residences in Mumbai on Tuesday Last . week, a magistrate court had accepted the Mumbai crime branch’s plea to declare Singh and two others in an extortion case registered with them as proclaimed offenders. CONTD. ON NATION PAGE date the app to activate this new utility . Until recently, those who were fully vaccinated, with 14 days having elapsed since their last dose, had to obtain a state government-issued universal pass, after due verification of their vacci- Rs80-Rs100 Rs 160 nation status by the state government portal. Passengers then had to produce this universal pass at the booking counter to purchase tickets for travel. Now that the state government portal issuing the universal pass has been linked to the Railways’ UTS mobile app, passengers can buy their tickets without having to go to the railway counter. CONTD. ON NATION PAGE Retd ACP says son was framed in drugs case BHAVNA UCHIL Mumbai A retired assistant commissioner of police has said in an affidavit filed before a special court that his son has been falsely implicated in a drugs case. He has alleged that the contents of the search panchnama made by the agency are incorrect and that he has CCTV recordings to support the same. Former Police Officer Anant Kenjale, whose son Shreyas was arrested by the agency in June this year, said in his affidavit that he had seen NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede come to his house for some time and thereafter, he was also in the building compound with other NCB officers. In a retraction statement made by his son, he had stated regarding the panchnama that the panchas mentioned in the document were not in his house during the times mentioned, nor were the NCB officers mentioned in it. “I say that the zonal director Sameer Wankhede had briefly come to my house. However, his name is not mentioned in the panchnama for reasons best known to the prosecution,” the son said in his retraction statement. CONTD. ON NATION PAGE Bhajji sells Andheri Team India can hog; no diet curbs, says BCCI flat for `17.58 crore A TAILPIECE LAST WORD S SUDARSHANAN / Mumbai VARUN SINGH / Mumbai Senior India cricketer Harbhajan Singh has sold his Andheri apartment to JBC International LLP for a whopping Rs 17.58 crore, having purchased it in December 2017 for ₹14.5 crore. According to registration documents accessed by SquareFeatIndia provided by Zapkey .com, the total carpet area of the apartment is 2,830 square feet. The apartment is on the ninth floor of the G-wing of ‘Rustomjee Elements’. The buyer will have access to four car parking spaces in the building. The building received an occupancy certificate on September 19, 2018. The documents with regard to the sale of the apartment were registered on November 18, 2021. CONTD. ON NATION PAGE n off-field controversy ahead of India's opening Test match against New Zealand was quelled by the BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal on Tuesday night. Earlier in the day reports in the media claimed , the BCCI has banned beef and pork in any form in Team India’s new diet plan, also, the players are allowed to consume only 'halal' meat. Dismissing the rumours, Dhumal said, "The BCCI has not given any direction to any player or team staff on what to eat and what not to eat. All these rumours are baseless. This diet plan has never been discussed and will not be enforced. The board doesn't advise anyone on what to eat and what not to eat. They are free to choose their own food." The report further said that the Indian cricket board has introduced the diet regimen in order to ensure the health and fitness of the players ahead of the upcoming events. While many criticised the board’s move, a few couldn't hide their glee. ANIL SINGH The Maharashtra government’s decision to slash excise duty on imported liquor from 300 per cent to 150 per cent has led to a comparison with petrol. If liquor can be made cheaper, asks the public, why not petrol? The layman also expects the state government to reduce the VAT (Value Added Tax) on petrol and diesel in State Govt can line with the Central gov- slash excise ernment’s excise duty cut duty on of Rs 5/ litre on petrol imported liquor and Rs 10/ litre on diesel. by 50% but is However, the Maharashnot inclined to tra government is reluccut VAT on tant to forgo any revenue petrol; MVA is from fuel, leading to taunts from the opposi- even refusing to tion that the Maha Vikas take a cue from Aghadi is the ‘Madya’ (al- other non-BJP cohol in Marathi) Vikas states like Aghadi government and Rajasthan, that it is running an agen- Chhattisgarh da of ‘pub, party and peg’. and Punjab The issue though is not as simple as it seems and the key lies in the tax structures of the two liquids, both of which are outside the ambit of the goods and services tax (GST) regime and both of which are rich sources of revenue for the Centre as well as for state governments. Alcohol was not brought under the ambit of the GST to ensure that state governments continue to have a strong inflow of revenue, other than what they get from their share of the GST. CONTD. ON NATION PAGE Now, you can skip trip to Railways booking counter TMC’S CATCH: KIRTI AZAD RLD, SP CHAT AS BJP SULKS & PAWAN VERMA Rashmi Sharma/Lucknow: Amidst the buzz about a possible alliance between Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the UP elections, RLD boss Jayant Choudhury had a crucial meeting with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Monday. After the repeal of farm laws, the BJP had tried inching closer to RLD; this is because the RLD has a strong base in the Jat community in west UP where farmers’ , agitation is most visible. Jayant and Akhilesh had discussions for 45 minutes. Soon after this, Akhilesh tweeted a picture of both with the caption, ‘Jayant Choudhury Ke Saath Badlao Ki Ore.’ Jayant was not far behind and he too tweeted a picture with the caption ‘Badhte Kadam.’ According to SP insiders, both the leaders discussed the contours of the alliance. Both have agreed on certain terms which include the number of seats to be fought individually and the campaign strategy. A formal announcement regarding the alliance may come at the end of the month. AMIT SRIVASTAVA Navi Mumbai ith a sharp drop in the arrival of tomatoes at the wholesale market, the retail price of an important kitchen staple has skyrocketed. Prices have touched Rs 100 per kg in many parts of the city and traders say there will be no respite for at least the next 20 days. As if that were not enough, retail prices of other vegetables too have doubled, as crops have been damaged due to unseasonal rain in vegetablegrowing areas. Shankar Pingle, director of the vegetable market at the Agriculture Produce Market (APMC) in Vashi says that poor supply has pushed up the price of tomatoes. “The dip in supply began in Septemberend and unseasonal rains in many parts of the state made the situation worse,” Pingle explained. He added that it would take at least 20 days for new arrivals and there could be no respite in sight till then. CONTD. ON NATION PAGE The Railways and the state government of Maharashtra have linked the UTS mobile app and the universal pass portal. Through the UTS app, both single-journey and season tickets can be issued and renewal of season tickets is also possible. There is no need for the passenger to go Not Lhasa, this, it's Bandra east hazard. OPEC+ officials have warned they're likely to retaliate by cancelling plans to boost their own production, thereby neutralising the addition of stockpiled oil into the market. The standoff has set the stage for a frantic tussle for the control of global energy market. CONTD. ON NATION PAGE VEGGIE WASHOUT: Traders say no respite for next 20 days; KAMAL MISHRA Mumbai Two Congress leaders -- Kirti Azad and Ashok Tanwar -- and Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Pawan Varma joined the TMC in presence of Mamata Banerjee in the national capital on Tuesday. Cricketer-turnedpolitico Kirti Azad declared in his new avatar that a ‘strong leader’ like Mamata is needed to trounce the BJP. “Mamata can alone give the right direction to the country,’’ said Azad. The TMC leader is leaving no stones unturned to expand her national footprint, after the landslide victory in recent by-polls, when BJP candidates had to forfeit their security deposits. Varma asserted that there is no doubt the Trinamool Congress has emerged as the main opposition; also, he hopes to see the TMC supremo on the national stage in 2024. – Aritra Singh/Kolkata IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE MOVIE INDUSTRY GETS BACK ON ITS FEET: SALMAN KHAN Result: The “#BCCI_Promotes_Halal” was in the top trending list on Twitter with questions being asked about the restrictions on the players’ choice of food. The New Zealand team, on the other hand, has listed both red and white meat options for their Lunch break during the Test. "The food should contain moderate amounts of carbohydrate and protein and lower amounts of fat, to ensure these athletes get all the energy and nutrients required for their training and games. The prepared food must have plenty of flavour and be as fresh and natural as possible,” read the Black Caps’ diet plan. “Please note that some members of the BLACKCAPS have special dietary requirements, including a severe nut allergy .” CONTD. ON NATION PAGE Legal Briefs SC WON’T DEFER TRIPURA POLLS T he Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to postpone Thursday’s municipal elections in Tripura on account of political violence in the state, saying "postponing elections is a last and extreme recourse." Also, any such decision will set a bad precedent. The Bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Vikram Nath, however, took serious note of various incidents of political violence in the run-up to the elections and issued a slew of directions to the state and police authorities for ensuring peace on the polling and counting days and sought details of the security arrangements. The court was hearing a contempt petition filed by the Trinamool Congress (TMC), alleging that violence against its party workers is continuing unabated in Tripura and false cases are being filed against them by the ruling BJP government. CENTRAL VISTA: PLEA RUBBISHED T he Supreme Court on Tuesday trashed a plea by an engineer settled in Singapore, challenging the change in land use of a plot, where the new official residences of the vicepresident and the prime minister are to come up as part of the Central Vista project. The court reasoned that the change in land use was a matter of policy and no mala fide intent was shown by the petitioners. Therefore, the court is not inclined to interfere. In his petition, social activist Rajeev Suri had said that land use in some areas was changed from "public recreational" to "residential" for the project. He argued that it would affect the area currently meant for public recreation. The Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar ruled: "Petitioner has not argued that the change in land use has been done in a malafide manner. It petitioner has instead contended that since in the past it was recreational area it should have been retained like that. This cannot be scope of judicial review. It is for the authority concerned and is a matter of public policy."