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IT relief for elderly

While presenting the budget for 2013-14, the Finance Minister announced that income up to Rs 2 lakh will not be liable to tax. Additional benefit of a few thousand rupees available earlier to the women was withdrawn. Ironically, senior citizens were not provided any relief and the exemption limit for them has remained constant at Rs 2.5 lakh for the past two years. This has placed them at a disadvantage vis-ŕ-vis their juniors. At present, the general category persons can avail themselves of exemption of up to Rs 3.20 lakh whereas senior citizens are not entitled to any benefit beyond Rs 2.5 lakh.

In these days of rising prices, the exemption of Rs 2 lakh for the general category appears to be too meagre and should be raised to Rs 3 lakh. Similarly, senior citizens need relief at the fag end of their lives to enable them to have a comfortable living. The Finance Minister is requested enhance the income tax exemption limit to Rs 3.6 lakh for senior citizens.

Another aspect that requires attention is the need to rationalise the practice of allowing enhanced pension for citizens aged 80 years and above by dividing it in spans of 70 years, 75 years and 80 years. Also, senior citizens aged 75 years and above should not be required to file the income tax returns for taxable income up to Rs 5 lakh a year. It will mitigate the hardship caused to a number of people unable to visit the income tax office to file returns or bear the ordeal of standing in long queues.

R.L. Bhardwaj, Mohali

Fire-proof hill glory

This has reference to the editorial “Fire in hills” (January 31). The HP government does not seem to have learnt a lesson from past incidents. When the Governor’s house, known as Kennedy House, was consumed by fire a few yeas ago, the government was expected to take adequate measures to protect the heritage buildings, but it did not. Recently, Gorton Castle was gutted. Now, only a few heritage buildings, including the Institute of Advanced Studies, are intact. The interiors of these buildings are made of wood and their electrical fittings have become loose. If action is not taken, these buildings could meet the same fate anytime. These buildings are the prestige of Shimla. The government should protect them.

Urveshi Negi, New Delhi

Preserve heritage

The editorial “Fire in hills” (January 31) rightly stresses that unless the authorities responsible take ownership of the irreplaceable heritage, such fires would recur.

It is due to the utter carelessness on the part of caretakers that Gorton Castle in Shimla has been partially reduced to ashes in a series of fire accidents. The carelessness has taken a toll of more than a dozen heritage buildings in Shimla. Unfortunately, we have failed to learn any lesson from this colossal loss.

It is surprising that we have a lackadaisical approach to taking precautions to ensure the safety of these assets mirroring the glorious past of the township. The government orders an inquiry to fulfil the legal formalities and buries the issue till another building goes up in flames.

In some instances, the wiring in the heritage building is as old as the structure. No efforts are been made to check the increasing power load. During the winters, the heating systems are negligently overused, increasing the chances of shortcircuiting. Despite specific rules and procedures of maintenance, no one cares to inspect the wiring or check the fire-fighting equipment. Fire extinguishers are hardly refilled, water points rarely checked and mock demos never held.

The authorities should retrieve the traces of past that are left for the people to see where their ancestors lived.

R.M. Ramaul, Paonta Sahib

Surfeit of cricket

Despite the losses and wins, the game of cricket is always minting money for the players, the boards, the corporates and the media that sells it non-stop by adding hype and a dash of glamour to the game. Cricket obsession has ruined other sports in our country and now too much of the game and its many formats might destroy the game itself.

H.L. Sharma, Amritsar



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