Hyderabad: The heat wave sweeping across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana claimed over 200 more lives since Tuesday, taking the toll to 1,360.
Officials on Wednesday night said 157 people succumbed to sunstroke in Andhra Pradesh while 70 died in Telangana since Tuesday.
There was no respite from the blistering heat as both the states recorded temperatures three to seven degrees Celsius higher than the average.
Almost all the deaths were reported during the past one week.
Though Andhra Pradesh’s Deputy Chief Minister N. Chinna Rajappa had confirmed 551 deaths on Tuesday, the toll was revised later based on reports received from the districts.
Disaster management department officials said they were revising the figures after receiving confirmation from field-level officials about the deaths.
Though temperatures dropped in parts of Telangana and also in north coastal Andhra on Wednesday, both the states continued to reel under the searing heat.
The Hyderabad Meteorological Centre has warned that severe heat wave conditions may continue for another two days.
The heat wave, attributed to dry winds from the north-westerly direction, may abate after two days.
The highest temperature of 47 degrees Celsius was recorded at Jangamaheswarapuram in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday. Vijayawada, Bapatla and Machilipatnam sizzled at 46 degrees.
The mercury continued to be above 42 degrees in most parts of south coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.
In Telangana, Nalgonda and Khammam were the hottest places on Wednesday at 46 degrees Celsius.
Poor people, especially the homeless, construction workers, rickshaw pullers and street vendors were the worst hit by the heat wave.
According to officials, the majority of the victims were the elderly and children. The Andhra Pradesh government has already announced compensation of Rs.1 lakh each for the families of the victims.
Out of 867 deaths confirmed by officials in Andhra Pradesh till Tuesday night, Prakasam district accounted for 202. Guntur (130), Visakhapatnam (112) and East Godavari (107) also bore the brunt of the heat wave.
Vijayanagaram district accounted for 78 deaths, Nellore 74, Srikakulam 40, Chittoor 29, Kadapa 22, Kurnool 17 and Anantapur 14.
In Telangana, Nalgonda district was the worst hit with 73 deaths. Khammam district accounted for 60 deaths, Mahabubnagar 32, Medak 26, Karimnagar and Adilabad 22 each, Warangal 9, Nizamabad 8 and Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy seven each.
The Goods and Services Tax is a consumption tax that has changed the way India does indirect taxation. The GST was under consideration for a very long time. The tax structure which India had before the advent of the GST was quite complicated and extremely convoluted.
There were many taxes which were administered by a myriad of governing bodies, some going down to the city level. This created a lot of problems for businesses and consumers alike. Not only did businesses have to employ people to figure out and compute the tax, but they also had to figure out who to pay it to.
This created a drag on the economy and took money out of productive uses. All of this changed with the introduction of the GST tax. The GST created a unified tax structure and provided businesses with certainty and transparency.
Simplification of small business was a priority which is why, for example, the Composition Scheme under GST was introduced. This scheme helps small businesses reduce red tape and file more straightforward tax returns.
Some of the main benefits of the Goods and Services Tax system are:
1. Simplification of the Tax Code:
The pre-GST era was characterized by a complex and murky tax structure in which companies had to navigate as best they could. There were many layers of taxes such as VAT, Cess, Central Excise Duty as well as local taxes at the city level, which needed to be paid when a product or service was delivered to the customer.
This has now been simplified with the introduction of the GST. Now companies need to keep track of one single tax. They can now file taxes with a single entity in a secure manner.
2. Ease of Doing Business:
The implementation of GST has brought India up the ease of doing business rankings. Having a convoluted and complex tax structure with the manual filing of taxes creates a massive volume of paperwork.
Not only was there a lot of paperwork, but offline tax filing also created scope for corruption. GST has changed all of that with the introduction of one single tax under a single tax authority. It is now a much more streamlined process which is easier for businesses to navigate.
It is also essential to have a streamlined tax process for attracting foreign investors, so that has helped with Foreign Direct Investment in India.
3. Double Taxation:
Pre-GST, there was a problem of cascading taxation, wherein taxes would be piled on top of each other, leading to double taxation. A lot of the time, businesses and consumers had to pay a tax on top of another tax.
This was because there was no way for businesses to claim an input tax credit for every step of the way. GST has changed that entirely by introducing a system where each every step of production of a product is recorded, so taxes are only added incrementally, and double taxation is avoided.
Also, small businesses faced a daunting task of navigating the complex tax system, and the GST has enabled small businesses to simplify their tax return by introducing the Composition Scheme under GST. This has been a significant benefit of GST.
4. Tax Compliance:
Tax compliance has always been an issue in India, under the older tax system where tax filing was mostly done manually, there was a lot of tax evasion and under-invoicing.
Since there was very little that the government could do to track the production of goods. With the advent of the GST, the way the system is designed, it is much easier to track the production of products through the various invoices uploaded by businesses.
The Input Tax Credit system also incentivizes companies to report the number of goods and services used so that they can claim Input Tax Credit. This has been a positive development for tax collection.
5. Increased Tax Collections:
With increasing tax compliance, there is a potential for increasing tax collections. With the increased tax collection, the government can spend more money on important public services like health, safety, etc.
This is also one of the most important benefits of having a tax system that allows higher rates of compliance.
6. Foreign Investment:
In a globalized world, it is vital to attract capital from around the world. Top companies who want to invest in a country look for stable and transparent tax regimes so that they have regulatory certainty.
The older tax structure was haphazard and under the authority of multiple tax collecting bodies. This created a problem for foreign firms who wanted to invest in the country but had a tough time negotiating the tax landscape of the country.
The GST has completely changed that. The GST is under one central authority and uses the GSTN (Goods and Services Tax Network), which is the information technology service which underpins the whole system.
The GST system is also much more nimble and able to respond to the needs of the market because it is under one single tax authority, the GST Council. This is also an excellent benefit for the country as it doesn’t take a lot of consultation to change the rules in case of adverse market conditions.
In conclusion, there are several benefits to the country as a whole with the implementation of the GST system. Small business is the driving force of the Indian economy, providing a lot of employment. Things like the Composition Scheme under GST has helped simplify the tax filing for small business while maintaining compliance.