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First ATM installed at more than 11000 feet above sea level at Kedarnath

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The Uttarakhand chief minister of the double engine government Trivendra Singh Rawat has today inaugurated the ATM service at the historic Kedarnath Shrine precincts at more than 11000 ft altitude, after it was washed away in the massive ecological disaster of June 15. This is the only ATM in the entire Kedarnath valley.

Thanks to the untiring efforts and dedicated commitment of Uttarakhand government for having taken the pains to finally to get the ATM installed at the ancient Kedarnath Shrine after protracted five years, where more than two lakh pilgrims and tourists visit every season to pay their revered obeisance to Baba Kedarnath in His historic shrine established centuries ago.

Even the prime minister Narendra Modi visited this Kedarnath about four to five times after the dreaded ecological disaster for paying obeisance to Lord Shiva at Kedarnath and also directed the state government to expeditiously carry out the reconstruction work in the Kedarnath Dham precincts.

A massive budget was also allocated for the complete facelift of this historic shrine.

If we measure the approximate number of visitors at this historic shrine taking an average of one lakh visitors every season, the figure would come to more than five lakhs.  One can imagine how much inconvenience the visiting pilgrims were confronting in the absence of an ATM. The earlier available ATM was washed away in the heavy deluge on June 15/ 16 2013 that killed thousands of pilgrims from all over India who’d converged for Lord Kedar’s darshan.

We remember the news of this ATM being damaged due to the high-velocity tides and currents and of the deluge of the Chora baari lake also known as Gandhi Sarovar in June 2013.

On the day of this deluge and afterward, wads of notes were seen floating far away in the river which was finally picked up by some Sadhus who tried to siphon them off clandestinely but were caught carrying the wads of notes collected by them floating in the water.

Finally, the government of Uttarakhand realized this inconvenience to pilgrims and opened the only ATM at Kedarnath Shrine. The chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat jubilantly inaugurated it. Better late than never, after more than five years in 2019 we have the ATM again after it was washed away in 2013.

In a tweet, today along with the pictures of inauguration of this new ATM the chief minister Trivendra Singh proudly tweeted: Harsh ka vishay hai ki Kedarnath Dham mein pehla ATM aaj se shuru ho gaya hai. @ HDFC _Bank dwara sthapit ATM se shradhaluon ko badi raahat milegi. 2013 ki aapda mein Kedarnath mein maujud ATM bah gaya tha.

Matter of pleasure to announce that a first ATM has been installed at Kedarnath shrine. The HDFC ATM will be of immense help to pilgrims. In 2013’s disaster the Kedarnath ATM washed away in the deluge.

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Sunil Negi hails from Uttarakhand and is a veteran journalist and author. He is a prolific writer and has carved a name for himself in the media world. He received the 'Golden Achiever Award' in the '90th AIAC Excellence Awards 2019' for his book ''Havoc in Heaven'' based on the tragedy that struck Uttarakhand in which thousands of people lost their lives. He is also the President of Uttarakhand Journalists Forum and majorly writes on Politics, Current Affairs, and Social Issues.



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Investment: Do you need to invest in bank FDs

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Bank fixed deposit is one of the most popular investment product. It is liked by many, especially the conservative investor. Reasons being high liquidity and lower risk along with a fixed return. But have you ever thought about the fact that a higher exposure to FD eats into your returns big time because, one- it is not tax free and two- it cannot beat inflation.

Indians conventionally have been parking their money majorly in bank deposits or even postal deposit schemes. Due to the lack of awareness about equity and for a desire to protect their principal investment and returns, deposits are considered safer options.

In the past, it may have been fine to invest in FDs. But given the upgrade in lifestyles, it has become tough for people to manage expenses by continuing investments in the same old-fashioned low returns bearing financial products. That too needs an overhaul. Investor fail to realise that their returns are being compromised on account of their fear or need of safety. This does not allow their money to grow at a faster rate.

The first big dent that FD returns do to you is the tax you pay on it. Investors often look at the gross rate of FD return, rather than the net post-tax returns. So, even if a bank FD is offering say 7.50% returns and if your total income is already more than Rs 10 lakh in a financial year, then you would end paying 30% tax (excluding cess) on this return. So, your net returns would be only 5.25% (that is, 7.50% – 30% tax). This happens because your FD is subject to your normal slab of tax rate. This single disadvantage should keep you away from investing in FDs. Rather, you should focus tax planning which can help you save the tax on FDs. The same can then be invested elsewhere to earn better returns.

The second big turn off is the inflation rate. Your FD returns will only be able to match or hover around the inflation rate. In fact, it is already established that FDs returns cannot beat inflation. The typical inflation rate may range from say 6 to 7%, but that does not take in to account your lifestyle inflation that is, the change in your standard of living, emergent or sudden expenses, things you spend your money on such as, foreign travel, gadgets, apparels, etc, which were not there earlier or were nominal. Given the lifestyle and other higher expenses on education, medical, etc, your money has to work harder than you think and beating inflation is no longer a choice but a necessity.

Given that there is a growing concern about banks going bankrupt, due to issues like bank scams and rising non-performing assets, even the safety part of FDs is no longer valid. In fact, you be aware that only Rs 1 lakh of your FD investment is insured by the government.

The most important thing is to do a comprehensive financial planning to meet your financial goals. This will help you figure which goal requires which combination of financial products to invest in. So, focus on investing in a good mix of products offering higher returns, more tax efficiency and the capacity to beat the inflation evil. Invest in FDs only if you are in a stage of your life when you seek very safe return, say post retirement. But a young investor can take higher risk and invest more in other assets such as mutual funds or stocks that offer higher returns.

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