Endangered Lizard penises sold as talismanic plant roots: Wild Life Trust of India

Who knew that Bengal monitor lizards and yellow monitor lizards look similar to a rare plant named ‘Hatha Jodi’ which is considered pious by many?

Whoever did, was caught along with their accomplices in what turned out to be one of the biggest international scams in illegal wildlife trade. After police crackdown in the state of Orissa, a huge volume of penises of the above-mentioned species of lizards was discovered.

“Wildlife traffickers have been buying the dried lizard penises and fraudulently selling them online as the original plant has slowly faded away from the country” exclaimed Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). Neil de Cruz of the London-based group, World Animal Protection(WAP) made it clear t that the dried lizard hemipenis looks like two hands joined in prayer which resembles the now extinct “Hatha Jodi” which has a demand among the Asian Diaspora in the UK, other parts of Europe and the US.

“These lizards were being illegally poached from the wild, as poachers caught them in traps and snares in order to remove their genitals usually by slitting their throats or crushing their skulls “indicated scientists at Manchester Metropolitan College.

 

News Sources- ANI, BBC News

ASSOCHAM against GST for roads and railways

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India (ASSOCHAM), an apex trade association of India suggested keeping Roads and Railways at an arm’s length of Goods and Services Tax (GST). Due to the long incubation period for GST and the negative returns which accompanied it, ASSOCHAM submitted a letter to the Finance Ministry making certain suggestions.

“Accumulation of Input tax credit with the contractors should be avoided and similar exemptions should be made on direct procurements made by contractors as it would have an adverse effect on business revenue” expressed the trade association. A policy for

A policy for zero-rating the contract value chain if the current exonerations are discontinued, so that immunization of infrastructural projects against tax burdens can be possible was suggested by ASSOCHAM.

“If GST is levied on existing contracts with non-recoverable taxes from National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), revenue would be adversely affected,” the chamber said.

As laid down in the contract with NHAI, the Concessionaire is required to a share a pre-defined percentage of income from toll collected by NHAI and there is no clarification whether sharing of such exempted income would be outside the jurisdiction of GST.

The services provided to infrastructure projects are currently exempted from service tax, making contract abatement (which is also available under VAT) and pushing the combined rate to 10 % -12 % which is quite low when compared with the GST rate of 18%. AASOCHAM believes the GST rate on works contract services should be 12 percent instead of 1 percent.

 

News Sources- ANI, PTI