All you need to know about Single emergency helpline number ‘112’

Single emergency helpline number ‘112’ launched: All you need to know

Single emergency helpline number '112' launched: All you need to know

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Single emergency helpline number ‘112’ launched: All you need to know

India is finally getting its single emergency helpline number. The number is similar to ‘911’ in the United States. Launching the helpline number, the home minister Rajnath Singh said, “The helpline number ‘112’ will be activated across the country by next year and anyone in distress can reach the helpline by pressing a single key on phones which will be pre-programmed.”

Here’s all you need to know about the single-emergency number …

'112' is pan-India single emergency helpline number

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‘112’ is pan-India single emergency helpline number

The ‘112’ emergency number has been launched under Emergency Response Support System (ERSS).

The '112' emergency number will connect to Police, Fire, and Women helplines (for now)

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The ‘112’ emergency number will connect to Police, Fire, and Women helplines (for now)

The ‘112’ number is an integration of Police (100), Fire (101) and Women (1090) helpline numbers. The aim is to provide all these emergency services through a single number.

The Health helpline (108) will be integrated with it soon

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The Health helpline (108) will be integrated with it soon

According to officials, the Health helpline number ‘108’ will be integrated with this soon.

This service obviates the need for citizens to remember multiple helpline numbers

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This service obviates the need for citizens to remember multiple helpline numbers

With the new single-emergency number in place, citizens will no longer have to remember multiple helpline numbers.

The '112' number has been launched today in 16 states and union territories

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The ‘112’ number has been launched today in 16 states and union territories

The emergency number ‘112’ has been launched in 16 states and union territories. These include Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Andaman, Dadar Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Jammu and Kashmir.

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How it works

To access the ‘112’ emergency services, a person can dial the number on a phone or press the power button three times quickly to send a panic call to the Emergency Response Centre (ERC).

Long press '5' or '9' on feature phones

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Long press ‘5’ or ‘9’ on feature phones

In case of feature phone, a long press on ‘5’ or ‘9’ keys too will activate the panic call function.

'112' helpline has already been launched in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland

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‘112’ helpline has already been launched in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland

Himachal Pradesh became the first state to launch the emergency number ‘112’ in November 2018.

The emergency number will be gradually rolled out across the country.

A century-old residence gets a makeover in Chennai

Art of fine living The original porch was given a glamorous touch (above and left) while the living room turned more vibrant (right). The library (extreme right) began to let in more light and look trendier. Photos: Pallon DaruwalaArt of fine living The original porch was given a glamorous touch (above and left) while the living room turned more vibrant (right). The library (extreme right) began to let in more light and look trendier. Photos: Pallon Daruwala

A century-old residence gets a makeover, yet retains its glory at the hands of architect Husna Rahaman who deftly plays with hues and patterns. By Nandhini Sundar

When faced with a century-old residence or even one that is half the age, the immediate reaction is to demolish and develop the site or build a fabulous contemporary dwelling, money and space permitting. Restoring such a building to its former glory is beyond the radar, especially given the economics behind such an initiative. The state of the structure and the lifestyle the interior facilities offer, further promote this inclination.

Old living room

Old living room

Yet, one such stately colonial residence came up, not for being rebuilt, but for restoration, keeping intact the fibre of the structure while infusing just the right level of contemporary comforts.

When architect Husna Rahaman of Fulcrum Studio was given the century-old sprawling 7,000 sq. ft colonial home for restoration, the structure essentially a no-nonsense load-bearing piece of engineering that cannot be tampered with on whim, she realised that strategic alterations, if any, could happen only where absolutely necessary.

New-look living area

New-look living area

The entire restoration thus occurred on a delicate balance of reverence and relevance, the regal aura retained while the modern functional quotient was brought in where relevant.

Profusion of hues, patterns

In tune with the era it related to, the residence came with its accompanying hues and patterns that literally saturated the spaces, the patterned antique floor and wall tiles engulfing the ambience. Without shunning this past grandeur, Rahaman set about managing deftly the play of hues and patterns where they would enchant and refresh, without submerging the senses.

Porch after restoration

Porch after restoration

“It was literally a riot of colours and this base was used as a spring board to complement the residence where it is not eliminated but used to balance”, she explains. Keeping this intent in perspective, an elegant network of wood verticals and horizontals were brought in to frame the length and breadth of the expansive living area. A new set of chandeliers were added, yet the design of these were kept deliberately colonial in keeping with the structure.

The rich flooring was retained, along with the porcelain tile dadoing on the walls, both in the living area as well as rest of the residence. A refreshing contemporary twist was brought into the space by introducing metal motifs on the walls, the motifs reflecting the existing patterns. While the walls and ceiling continue to accommodate the wooden columns and beams, a reminder of the colonial past, the contemporary flavour wafts into the spaces through concealed lights and metal motifs.

Contemporary upgrade

The living area reveals the presence of two groups of furniture, each connected by a large back-to-back sofa cluster. The unusual blend of materials and styles seen in the living area and carried methodically into the rest of the residence, where luxury is paired with minimalism and exquisite Indian crafts tie in seamlessly with streamlined forms, reveals a reverential contemporary upgrade of a glorious past.

Lovely library

Lovely library

While the strong imperial character of the structure has been reverentially retained, the spaces have been infused with warmth to address the home it ultimately is. This has been successfully achieved through application of soft roses on the walls, neutral colours with subtle pops of colour in the rugs, strips of wallpaper and cushions in shades of pink and orange.

Likewise, the spatial poetry of the house, an element lacking in modern crowded structures, has been preserved to integrate the multiple rooms, where the past meets the present, opening the spaces to surreal vistas.

Infusing metal

Given the era of the residence, metal does not figure in its construction. Yet, a contemporary twist has been brought in by infusing metal craftily into the stately space, lightening the palette. The floral medallion in the living area serves as a symbolic confluence of the metallic motifs used in the rest of the residence. Metal also features as an artistic railing for the staircase, replacing the previous cement and brick staircase. The terrace further reveals a stunning dark grey metal gazebo to unwind and relax, besides serving as an entertainment zone when need arises.

Sun room

The first level of the building came with narrow spaces, yet the interiors were filled with abundant natural light. Rahaman decided to capture this effectively to create a sunny library. “The room came with its quota of colours and patterns like the rest of the house and the space was converted into a turquoise library with a western exposure by merely introducing rugs into the space.”

The ‘sun room’ reveals rugs in intense hues of ochre and turquoise blue, soaked in geometric patterns where they define the floor, with the turquoise blue and wood verticals on the walls complementing the same. Vibrant in conception, the space greets with a burst of exuberance, the twin daybeds created between the columns further enhancing with their presence.

Source The Hindu

Lower GST will lead to greater alignment in real estate: SBI Chairman

Lower GST will lead to greater alignment in real estate: SBI Chairman

A lowering of goods and services tax for under-construction houses would bring about greater alignment in the real estate sector, said SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar.

In an exclusive interview with ETNow, the SBI chief said: “GST on non-affordable housing rate may fall to 5 percent and that of affordable housing to 3 percent. The move will bring alignment in the real estate sector.”

His remarks come against the backdrop of a panel, headed by Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, favoring a cut in GST on under-construction residential properties to 5 percent, from 12 percent currently. In its first meeting, the group of ministers (GoM) also pitched for slashing GST on affordable housing from 8 percent to 3 percent.

The GoM was set up last month to examine tax rates and issues and challenges being faced by the real estate sector under the GST regime.

The Chairman of the largest state-owned bank hoped that any such decision by the GST Council in its next meeting will lead to faster clearance of houses.

A build-up in inventory and subdued prices have long been a pain for the realty industry. Reflecting the state of affairs, industry body Credai said people are postponing their decisions to buy under-construction flats because of high GST rate of 12 percent and 8 percent on affordable homes.

About RBI’s recent surprise policy move to slash benchmark lending rate in a bid to boost lending and lift economic growth, Kumar said the benefit will be passed on to borrowers “if our marginal cost of funding comes down”.

Bankers are reluctant to pass on all of 25 basis point rate cut because of loads of bad loans and the high cost of deposits, according to Reuters. For the banks, any cut in loan rates will have to be accompanied by a corresponding fall in deposit rates, which is linked to a significant improvement in cash conditions.

Banks price their benchmark loan rates, known as the marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR), mainly based on the cost of deposits.

Source: Economic Times

Chennai tops in broadband speed

 

Records download speed of over 32.67 Mbps, finds study

At 32.67 Megabits per second (Mbps), Chennai clocks the highest fixed broadband download speed among cities, according to a study titled ‘India’s digital divide: how broadband speed splits the nation’ by Seattle-headquartered firm Ookla. Globally, India is ranked 67th with an average speed of 20.72 Mbps.

“Of the 20 largest cities in India, Chennai’s download speed of over 32.67 Mbps for fixed broadband is 57.7% faster than the average for the rest of the country,” the analysis said. The analysis is based on February 2018 data from real consumer-initiated tests taken using Speedtest.

Speedtest by Ookla provides independent insight into the speed and quality of mobile and fixed broadband connections.

Fixed broadband speeds in metros including Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam were also higher than the country’s average of 20.72 Mbps.

Bengaluru follows Chennai in terms of fixed broadband speed with reported average speeds of 27.2 Mbps, while Delhi ranked fifth with average speeds of 18.16 Mbps. Mumbai was the lowest among the four big metros with an overall ranking of eight and broadband speeds averaging 12.06 Mbps.

The study also revealed that Patna is by far the slowest city compared to the rest of the country, with average speeds 62.4% slower than the country’s average.

Top States

A quick scan of the States shows that residents of Karnataka enjoyed the fastest broadband in India, with a mean download speed of 28.46 Mbps during the month of February, which is 37.4% faster than the rest of the country.

Tamil Nadu is a close second at 27.94 Mbps. Mizoram is the slowest with a mean download speed of 3.62 Mbps.

The Hindu

Chennai records highest percentage of unsold houses

Besides demonetisation and GST, location of the units in places affected by December floods a reason for poor uptake Chennai has 20% completed unsold inventory in real estate, the highest percentage in the country, according to a recent survey by real estate services firm, Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL).

As per a JLL survey, as many as 42,500 units are unsold, of which nearly 8,500 are in ready-to-move-in condition.

The southern suburbs of Chennai including Old Mahabalipuram Road and East Coast Road have approximately unsold 30,000 units, which account for 75% of the total unsold inventory, while western suburbs, including NH 4 and GST road, recorded the second largest volume of unsold inventory of 8,000 units. Both these locations are driven by end-user demand, which has been slow in uptake last year.

A close scrutiny of the data shows that most of the unsold inventory is in locations that were impacted in the deluge of December 2015, which drastically brought down the attractiveness of such projects.

Having said that, Chennai has seen a strong trend in the uptake of commercial office space in the last few quarters. “If the trend continues to remain strong, we should expect to see a simultaneous uptake in residential sector, albeit, the trend usually takes a few quarters to follow,” said, Ramesh Nair, CEO & Country Head, JLL India.

Buyers’ market
“Largely end-user driven, the Chennai residential market has tried to maintain its balance by limiting the unit launches in the last few quarters. Capital values have remained stable, indicating it to be a buyers’ market. The prolonged period of low activity in this asset class is, however, impacting the market, which is not witnessing investments to its true potential,” he said.

Suresh Krishn, President, Credai Chennai,said the unsold inventory would soon find takers. It is just a matter of time. “Currently, the market trend is customers are looking at ready-to-move homes. They want projects which can be delivered soon and occupied immediately.”

He said other real estate firms also felt this trend during FAIRPRO 2018, a real estate expo organised in the city last week. “The expo generated revenues of around ₹176 crore, which indicates the positive sentiments in this sector,” he said.

“Demonetisation, RERA and GST hit the realty sector hard in Chennai in 2017. Also, there was an impact on the inventory because of natural calamities like Cyclone Vardah, flood in the city, and the overall decrease in the number of jobs being created,” said T. Chitty Babu, Chairman and CEO, Akshaya Pvt. Ltd.

“With the advent of new sectors like affordable housing and smart homes, the real estate sector is on a revival mode now. We have seen a steady growth in the demand from homebuyers in the past few months and this is the right time for homebuyers to invest in homes as we expect the prices and home loan interest rates to go up due to the constant rise in input costs and reduced new launches.”

The survey showed that as many as 4,40,000 residential units remain unsold across key cities of India at the end of 2017.

The Hindu

 

GST relief for low-cost homes, First-time buyers

GST relief for low-cost homes, 1st-time buyers

 Now, a first-house buyer with a household income of up to Rs 18 lakh per annum can avail a benefit of up to Rs 2.7 lakh.
  • The tax benefit will also be extended to an affordable housing project, which has been given infrastructure status.

NEW DELHI: The GST rate has been reduced to 8% from the existing 12% on purchase of houses availing of the credit-linked subsidy scheme (CLSS) under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna, and of those houses that are constructed in a project that has got infrastructure status.
Under the CLSS scheme, a first-house buyer with a household income of up to Rs 18 lakh per annum can avail a benefit of up to Rs 2.7 lakh while buying a house or apartment of up to 150 square metres (1,615 sq ft) carpet area.

Those who do not qualify for credit linked subsidy scheme (CLSS) will continue to pay GST at 12% for the same house. The tax benefit will also be extended to an affordable housing project, which has been given infrastructure status, in case the maximum unit size in the project is a carpet area of 646sq ft. The first-house condition on the buyer will not be applied in this case. Whether or not the buyer gets the CLSS benefit under PM Awas Yojna, GST will be levied at 8%.

“The decision will give a push to the real estatesector, particularly affordable housing, as prices will fall by up to 4%,” said Getamber Anand, chairman of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (Credai).

The cap on the size of housing unit to avail of the benefit under CLSS has been kept at 1,615sqft carpet area, which is equivalent to around 2,200sq ft built-up area. This would cover most three-bedroom apartments and houses in the country and particularly in metro cities, said Anand. The Rs 18 lakh cap on household income is also sufficiently large to cover most first-time house buyers. But those buying their second house, or more, would not be able to avail this benefit. NAREDCO vicechairman Parveen Jain said the decision would prove a boon for the masses and fuel rapid growth and development of the real estate sector, furthering the cause of ‘housing for all by 2022’. Developers pay GST on inputs used for the construction of a project. Under GST, taxes paid on the inputs are taken back as credit from the GST paid by the buyer. Input taxes on construction amount to around Rs 400 to Rs 500 per sq ft.

GST in Real Estate: Is one sector and one tax possible?

Ahead of the GST Council’s meeting on November 9 and 10, subsuming all real estate related taxes under GST is a major talking point. Here is a look at the nitty gritty of the same

NEW DELHI: The real estate sector is expected to feature in the November 9, 2017 GST meet. The government has been hinting that the sector can be considered to be brought under GST. Then all individual taxes would be subsumed into the GST. Or will it?

Practically, can all central, state and local taxes on real estate be subsumed into GST? The finance minister has implied that it can be considered and is expected to one of the major talking points in GST Council’s meeting on November 9 and 10. Real estate is unique because it is an immovable asset and is also bound by state laws.

What is Goods & Services: Under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act), goods and services have been defined as:

  • Goods: Section 2(52) of the CGST Act: “Goods” means every kind of movable property other than money and securities but includes actionable claim, growing crops, grass and things attached to or forming part of land which are agreed to be severed before supply or under a contract of supply;
  • Services: Defined under section 2 (102) “services” means anything other than goods, money and securities but includes activities relating to the use of money or its conversion by cash or by any other mode, from one form, currency or denomination, to another form, currency or denomination for which a separate consideration is charged
  • Schedule III of the CGST Act which states the activities or transactions which shall be treated neither as a supply of goods nor a supply of services includes “Sale of land and Sale of building”(except under-construction buildings which are deemed as supply of service) at Sr. no 5 of this Schedule.

Immovable asset

In real estate, since land is an immovable asset, the industry has been given a 33 per cent abatement on the 18 per cent GST. Therefore, the effective charge on the sector is now 12 per cent as against the listed 18 per cent. During the period of construction, when the developer collects money from the consumers, pays different vendors and service providers and gets the asset constructed, the under construction product is considered a service and therefore, comes under the purview of GST. It also gets input credit from many of the 267 allied industries. Once the input credit starts flowing in there would be clarity on how much the prices can drop by.

Anuj Puri, Chairman, Anarock Property Consultants Pvt Ltd, estimates that the quantum of input credit should come to roughly 2-3 per cent. Therefore, the effective GST impact should be 9-10 per cent. As it stands today, ongoing projects are in different stages of completion and the input credit may not all come back to the developer. However, if developers don’t pass on the input credit benefit to customers, it can be construed as profiteering.

GST can’t be applicable to land as it is an immovable asset and that is why there is an abatement of land value provided to developers in the GST on real estate. There is no GST levied on completed projects which are again considered immovable assets.

Sudip Mullick, Partner, Khaitan & Co says, “The Schedule III note implies that sale of land or buildings are neither goods nor services. If the Government decides to include land and building under GST, firstly, they will have to delete the entry from Schedule III and bring it under Schedule II which deals with activities which can be treated as goods or services.”

Other taxes like stamp duty and property taxes are local taxes and there is as yet no means of subsuming them. If the government decides to include real estate in GST then there has to be a way of compensating the states for this loss of revenue. With 12 per cent GST, 6 per cent stamp duty, 1 per cent land under construction, a labour cess and various other taxes, currently, the sector is already burdened with many invisible taxes. If all of them are subsumed into GST then the rate will have to go up.

Inflationary pressure

Niranjan Hiranandani, President Naredco (National Real Estate Development Council), says that GST has put inflationary pressure of 3.5 per cent on affordable and 5.5 per cent on ongoing luxury housing. “The underlying principle of GST was to keep it revenue neutral.” There are 31 or 32 taxes on affordable housing. No country in the world has such high taxation on affordable housing. He suggests that there should be no tax at all on affordable housing till 2022. Let industry get the input credits so that it becomes profitable and there is ample stock in five years to rationalize rates.

Hiranandani maintains that bringing real estate under GST will make the sector more transparent and hidden charges will come to the forefront.

Current tax rates

Getamber Anand, Chairman, Confederation of Real Estate Associations of India (Credai), estimates that taxes account for 10 per cent of the cost of real estate. Hiranandani says “About a third of the cost of housing can be attributed to taxation.” PWC estimates the tax burden @18 per cent. Essentially, the taxes are so many and varied across states, that one figure is difficult to compute today. Naredco has made a comprehensive list of taxes that are applicable to the sector. (see Box)

Stamp duty

Can stamp duties be subsumed in GST? It is a state tax and the total tax amount comes solely to the state. GST is a central tax and needs to be shared with the Centre. If this issue is discussed at the GST council meeting in Kolkata, then there has to be consensus among the states. Past High Court orders on stamp duty also need to be revisited.

Advantages

If GST is applied on land and immovable property, the buyer has to pay one tax at uniform rate across states (eg stamp duty varies state wise).

The industry benefits in the long run, if the timing is right. Prajakta Menezes, Principal Associate, Khaitan & Co says, “In the short term this sector is already grappling due to demonetization (purchases were deferred by buyers), RERA and GST. One more amendment may aggravate the shock in the short term.”

Implemented efficiently and effectively, one GST for real estate across the country is the way to go. How the states will agree to this and what changes have to be made to compensate them for loss of revenue remain subjects of debate. However, both, the industry and the consumer, seem to be beneficiaries of a more transparent way of taxation

GST – The Hindu cartoon

The Hindu