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Government fixes ceiling prices of Knee Implants; People of India to save Rs.1500 crore per annum
Aug 17,2017

The Government has fixed the ceiling prices of orthopaedic implants used in knee surgeries, informed Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar..Based on the numbers of about 1 to 1.5 lakh orthopaedic knee procedures done in India every year,there will be a saving of about Rs.1500 crore for the people of India per annum. It is a step to prevent Unethical Profiteering and ensure Affordable and Quality Healthcare for the Last Man, the Minister added.

Shri Kumar said that as per the data analysis of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), under Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, there was huge margin in trade which was found to be unreasonable and in a way unethical profiteering. The NPPA, while fixing the ceiling prices, has kept all the new technology implants in mind and prices have been fixed accordingly, which are as follows:

Type of Knee ImplantAverage
New Ceiling
Price and MRP*
Cobalt Chromium (most widely used)1,58,32465%54,720 Special Metal like Titanium & Oxidized Zirconium2,49,25169%76,600 High Flexibility Implant1,81,72869%56,490 Revision Implants2,76,86959%1,13,950 Specialised Implants for Cancer &TumourCompany specific prices; to be fixed by NPPA at Rs. 1,13,950

*Companies will print the MRP by adding GST on these ceiling prices

Shri Kumar informed that it is estimated by World Health Organization (WHO) that by 2020, osteoarthritis is going to be the fourth largest cause of immobility in the world. India has about 1.2 to 1.5 crore orthopaedic patients who require orthopaedic implant surgery. Most of the diagnosed people requiring knee surgery are not able to afford because of very high cost. Government is reforming this state of affairs putting a ceiling on knee implants from today, the Minister added.

Shri Kumar said that the Government expects full cooperation from all the stakeholders including importers, distributors, retailers, hospitals etc. in ensuring that the benefit of reduction of prices of knee implants reaches the last man. The Minister added that all complaints of overcharging would be strictly monitored and the overcharged amount would be recovered from erring parties with an interest of 18% over it. A step further, Shri Kumar added that the Government might also consider cancelling of licenses and initiate criminal proceedings against stakeholders engaged in unethical profiteering.

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Total Foodgrains production is estimated at record 275.68 million tonnes
Aug 17,2017

The 4th Advance Estimates of production of major crops for 2016-17 have been released by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare on 16th August, 2017. The assessment of production of different crops is based on the feedback received from States and validated with information available from other sources. The estimated production of various crops as per the 4th Advance Estimates for 2016-17 vis-n++-vis the comparative estimates for the years 2003-04 onwards (click here).

As per 4th Advance Estimates, the estimated production of major crops during 2016-17 is as under:

n++ Foodgrains - 275.68 million tonnes (record)

n++ Rice - 110.15 million tonnes (record)

n++ Wheat - 98.38 million tonnes (record)

n++ Coarse Cereals - 44.19 million tonnes (record)

n++ Maize - 26.26 million tonnes (record)

n++ Pulses - 22.95 million tonnes (record)

n++ Gram - 9.33 million tonnes

n++ Tur - 4.78 million tonnes (record)

n++ Urad - 2.80 million tonnes (record)

n++ Oilseeds - 32.10 million tonnes

n++ Soyabean - 13.79 million tonnes

n++ Groundnut - 7.56 million tonnes

n++ Rapeseed & Mustard - 7.98 million tonnes

n++ Castorseed - 1.42 million tonnes

n++ Cotton - 33.09 million bales (of 170 kg each)

n++ Sugarcane - 306.72 million tonnes

As a result of very good rainfall during monsoon 2016 and various policy initiatives taken by the Government, the country has witnessed record foodgrain production in the current year. As per Fourth Advance Estimates for 2016-17, total Foodgrain production in the country is estimated at 275.68 million tonnes which is higher by 10.64 million tonnes (4.01%) than the previous record production of Foodgrain of 265.04 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. The current years production is also higher by 18.67 million tonnes (7.27%) than the previous five years (2011-12 to 2015-16) average production of Foodgrains. The current years production is significantly higher by 24.12 million tonnes (9.59%) than the last years foodgrain production.

Total production of Rice is estimated at record 110.15 million tonnes which is also a new record. This years Rice production is higher by 3.50 million tonnes (3.28%) than previous record production of 106.65 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. It is also higher by 4.74 million tonnes (4.49%) than the five years average Rice production of 105.42 million tonnes. Production of rice has increased significantly by 5.74 million tonnes (5.50%) than the production of 104.41 million tonnes during 2015-16.

Production of Wheat, estimated at 98.38 million tonnes is also a record. This years wheat production is higher by 2.64% than the previous record production of 95.85 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. Production of Wheat during 2016-17 is also higher by 5.77 million tonnes (6.23%) than the average wheat production. The current years production is higher by 6.10 million tonnes (6.61%) as compared to Wheat production of 92.29 million tonnes achieved during 2015-16.

Production of Coarse Cereals estimated at a new record level of 44.19 million tonnes is higher than the average production by 2.85 million tonnes (6.88%). It is higher than the previous record production of 43.40 million tonnes achieved during 2010-11 by 0.79 million tonnes (1.82%). Current years production is also higher by 5.67 million tonnes (14.72%) as compared to their production of 38.52 million tonnes achieved during 2015-16.

As a result of significant increase in the area coverage and productivity of all major Pulses, total production of pulses during 2016-17 is estimated at 22.95 million tonnes which is higher by 3.70 million tonnes (19.22%) than the previous record production of 19.25 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. Production of Pulses during 2016-17 is also higher by 5.32 million tonnes (30.16%) than their Five years average production. Current years production is higher by 6.61 million tonnes (40.41%) than the previous years production of 16.35 million tonnes.

With an increase of 6.85 million tonnes (27.11%) over the previous year, total Oilseeds production in the country is estimated at 32.10 million tonnes. The production of Oilseeds during 2016-17 is also higher by 2.84 million tonnes (9.72%) than the five years average Oilseeds production.

Production of Sugarcane is estimated at 306.72 million tonnes which is lower by 41.73 million tonnes (-11.98%) than the last years production of 348.45 million tonnes.

Despite lower area coverage during 2016-17, higher productivity of Cotton has resulted into higher production of 33.09 million bales (of 170 kg each), i.e. an increase of 10.29%, as compared to 30.01 million bales during 2015-16.

Production of Jute & Mesta estimated at 10.60 million bales (of 180 kg each) is marginally higher (0.73%) than their production of 10.52 million bales during the last year.

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Cabinet approves closure of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Forest and Plantation Development Corporation Limited (ANIFPDCL), Port Blair
Aug 17,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the closure of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Forest and Plantation Development Corporation Limited (ANIFPDCL), Port Blair, a Central Government Undertaking and discharging the liabilities of all the employees.

The closure will help to stop unproductive loans to ANIFPDCL from Gol and would enable a more productive utilization of assets.

This would be achieved by offering Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) / Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) package to willing employees and by retrenchment under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 of those not opting for VRS/VSS including settlement of other liabilities, if any.

At present, there are 836 employees on the rolls of the Corporation.

The closure will be done by infusing funds in the following manner:

n++ Infusion of funds of Rs. 125.72 crore through budgetary support from Gol for funding VSS of all employees on 2007 notional pay scales and for discharging other liabilities.

n++ Write-off of Gol loans of Rs. 186.83 crore given to ANIFPDCL and accrued interest of Rs 185.18 crore with freezing of interest as on 31.03.2017 after closure of the Corporation.

n++ Auction of movable assets (Plant & machinery, electrical equipment, vehicles & office equipment, furniture & fixture, elephant & livestock, plantation & other inventories etc.) of ANIFPDCL through Metal Scrap Trading Corporation Ltd. (MSTC Ltd),

n++ Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) will transfer/sale of immovable assets i.e. land and /or buildings of ANIFPDCL through NBCC Ltd.


The ANIFPDCL, a Government of India Public Sector Undertaking was set up in 1977, with the objective of development and managing forestry plantations in the Islands. The ANIFPDCL has been operating three main projects viz., Forestry Project, Red Oil Palm Project (ROP) and Katchal Rubber Project (KRP). The forestry operations were the main activities of the Corporation and contributed around 75% of the total revenue. Due to suspension of the forestry activities in view of the order dated 10.10,2001 and 07.05.2002 of Supreme Court, the ANIFPDCL has become an overall loss making venture since 2001 onwards. As a result, the ANIFPDCL was not able to pay salary and wages to its employees. In order to ensure disbursement of salary to the employees of tine Corporation, and other statutory payments, the GoI provided financial assistance to the ANIFPDCL in the form of interest bearing loan.

During the last fifteen years, various committees were appointed and professional agencies were engaged by the Ministry from time to time and they have thoroughly examined all possible avenues that could be availed for revival of the forest Corporation, including right sizing the staff. Based on those decisions, several proposals were examined, but none of them fructified. After thorough examination, Government of India decided to close down the Corporation.

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Cabinet approves Scheme of Budgetary Support under GST Regime to the eligible units located in States of J&K, Uttarakhand, HP, Sikkim
Aug 17,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the Scheme of providing Budgetary Support under Goods and Service Tax Regime for the eligible industrial units located in State of Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and North Eastern States including Sikkim. Budgetary support of Rs. 27,413 crore for the said Scheme has been approved for the period from 1.7.2017 till 31.03.2027 for such industrial units located in aforesaid States which availed the benefit of Central Excise exemption prior to coming into force of GST regime.

The Government of India was implementing North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), 2007 for North Eastern States including Sikkim and Package for Special Category States for Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to promote industrialization. One of the benefits of the NEIIPP, 2007 and Package for Special Category States was excise duty exemption for first 10 years after commencement of commercial production.

Upon repeal of the Central Excise duty laws, the Government has decided to pay a budgetary support equal to the central share of the cash component of CGST and IGST paid by the affected eligible industrial units. The support shall be available for the residual period (ten years from the date of the commercial production) in the States of North Eastern region and Himalayan States. DIPP will notify the Scheme, including detailed operational guidelines for implementation of the scheme within 6 weeks.

It is estimated that total number of 4284 eligible units located in the State(s) of Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and North Eastern States including Sikkim will benefit from the above scheme.

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Cabinet approves creation of one post of Director and three non-teaching posts for NIT, Andhra Pradesh
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the creation of one post of Director with basic pay of Rs. 75,000 + a special allowance of Rs,5000/- and three non-teaching posts (Registrar, Librarian and Principal Students Activity & Sports (SAS) Officer) with Grade Pay of Rs.10,000/- for National institute of Technology (NIT), Andhra Pradesh.


NITs are Institutions of National Importance known to be among the best teaching Institutions in the field of engineering and technology which have made a remarkable presence with their high quality technical education. The job opportunities will be for the post of Director and three Non Faculty posts i.e. Registrar, Librarian and Principal Students Activity & Sports (SAS) Officer. They will be responsible for running of NIT Andhra Pradesh which will produce high quality, technical manpower which will fuel entrepreneurship and generation of job opportunities throughout the country.

Consequent upon the assent of the President of India on 1st March, 2014 to the bifurcation of the State of Andhra Pradesh, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has established NIT at the successor State of Andhra Pradesh as per Schedule 13 (Education) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014.

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Cochin Shipyard completes a landmark IPO; Raises funds for its expansion projects
Aug 16,2017

Cochin Shipyard under the Ministry of Shipping was listed in Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange on 11 August 2017. The company has raised Rs 1442crores from the IPO which has been a combination of fresh issue and offer for sale in the ratio of 2:1. The IPO was oversubscribed by over 75 times with more than Rs 1.11 lakh crore being raised against the offer of Rs 1442crores.

The Issue also saw a strong interest from retail segment with over 20 lakh applications , the highest in the last decade. The QIB portion was over subscribed by over 63 times and the HNI portion was over subscribed by 287 times. After listing the shares in the exchange, they opened at 20% increase despits the markets being low. The company undertook very detailed roadshows in India, Far East, Europe and US. Overall there was very positive market sentiments, towards the IPO.

The proceeds of the fresh issue part of the IPO, totaling approximately Rs 961crores will be used by CSL for part funding two expansion projects costing Rs 2800 crores. The projects are - a dry dock at the Cochin Shipyard premises to accommodate bigger ships for building and repair and a ship repair facility in the adjacent Cochin Port Trust premises by setting up of a ship lift and transfer system.

Cochin Shipyard was incorporated in the year 1972 as the first green field shipyard of India. As on date Cochin Shipyard Limited is the largest public sector shipyard in India in terms of dock capacity. CSL caters to clients engaged in the Defence sector in India and clients engaged in the commercial sector worldwide for Shipbuilding and Ship Repair. In addition to shipbuilding and ship repair, CSL also offers marine engineering training.

The company has exported around 45 ships to overseas customers and has the pride of building the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier for the Indian Navy. The companys diversified business profile and presence in multi maritime segments have resulted in strong financial fundamentals. The companys turnover for FY 2017 was Rs 2059 crores as against a turnover of Rs 1404 crores for the FY 2012.The Profit After Tax for the FY 2017 was Rs 322 crores as against a PAT of Rs 172 crores for FY 2012. The Networth of the company as on March 2017 was Rs 2031 crores as against Rs 1051 crores at end of FY 2012.

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Cabinet approves creation of a single non-lapsable corpus fund for Secondary
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has accorded its approval today for creation of a non-lapsable pool in the Public Account for secondary and higher, education known as Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh (MUSK) into which all proceeds of Secondary and Higher Education Cess will be credited.

The funds arising from the MUSK would be utilized for schemes in the education sector which would be available for the benefit of students of secondary and higher education, all over the country.

In connection with the above fund, the Union Cabinet also accorded its approval to the following:

(i) Administration and maintenance of the above pool by Ministry of Human Resource Development.

(ii) Accruals from the Cess would be utilized in the ongoing schemes of Secondary and Higher Education. However, the Ministry of Human Resources Development can allocate funds for any future programme/scheme of secondary and higher education, based on the requirement, as per prescribed procedure,

(iii) In any financial year, the expenditure on ongoing schemes of the Department of School Education & Literacy and Department of Higher Education would be initially incurred from the gross budgetary support (GBS) and the expenditure would be financed from the MUSK only after the GBS is exhausted.

(iv) The MUSK would be maintained as a Reserve Fund in the non-interest bearing section of the Public Accounts of India.

The major benefit will be enhancing access to secondary and higher education through availability of adequate resources, while ensuring that the amount does not lapse at the end of financial year.


1. Accruals into the proposed non-lapsable fund will be made available for expansion of secondary education and higher education.

2. For Secondary Education: Presently, the Ministry of Human Resources Development envisages that the accruals from the Cess would be utilized in the secondary education for:

n++h ongoing Rashtriya Madhyamik Shlksha Abhiyan Scheme and other approved programmes including:

n++h National Means-Cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme and

n++h National Scheme for Incentives to Girls for Secondary Education.

3. For Higher Education: the accruals would be utilized for:

n++h Ongoing Schemes of Interest Subsidy and contribution for guarantee funds, Scholarship for College & University Students;

n++h Rashtriya Uchchtar Shiksha Abhiyaan;

n++h Scholarship (from Block Grant to the institutions) and National Mission on Teachers and Training.

n++h However, the Ministry of Human Resources Development can allocate funds for any programme/scheme of secondary and higher education, based on the requirement & prescribed procedure.

The purpose of levying cess for secondary and higher education is to provide adequate resources for secondary and higher education.

The fund would be operationalised as per the present arrangements under Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh (PSK) wherein the proceeds of cess are used for Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Schemes of the Department of School Education & Literacy.


(i) During the 10th Plan, an education cess of 2% on all central taxes was imposed w.e.f. 1.4.2004 to make available additional resources for basic education/elementary education to augment the existing budgetary resources. A need was felt to give a similar fillip to the effort of the Central Government in universalizing access to secondary education and expanding the reach of the higher education sector. Therefore, the Finance Minister, in his budget speech of 2007 proposed an additional cess of 1% on central taxes for secondary and higher education.

(ii) A cess @ 1% on central taxes, called the Secondary and Higher Education Cess was levied through Finance Act, 2007 to fulfil the commitment of the Government to provide and finance secondary and higher education (Section 136 of the Act).

(iii) In July, 2010, a draft cabinet note was circulated by the HRD Ministry wherein it was proposed to create a non-lapsable fund in the Public Account called Madhyamik and Uchchatar Shiksha Kosh (MUSK) as a receptacle for the proceeds of the Secondary and Higher Education Cess. The views of concerned Ministries viz the then Planning Commission, Ministry of North Eastern Region, and Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance were sought in this regard. The Department of Economic Affairs did not agree to the proposal on the grounds that the Budget allocations for the schemes of Secondary Education and Higher Education have been far more than the amount of 1% cess collected. Therefore, the amount of the cess collected is deemed to have been fully allocated for the schemes of Secondary and Higher Education in the respective financial years. Hence, funds on account of 1% cess for the past period are not available now for allocation.

(iv) Subsequently, the HRD Ministry sought the approval of the Department of Economic Affairs for revisiting the issue of creation of Madhyamik and Uchchatar Shiksha Kosh (MUSK) on 11th February, 2016. Department of Economic Affairs on 20th June, 2016 approved that this Ministry may move a draft Cabinet Note to seek the approval of the Cabinet for creation of. MUSK.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Sweden on IPRs
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today has given its approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Sweden on cooperation in the field of Intellectual Property (IPRs). The MoU establishes a wide ranging and flexible mechanism through which both countries can exchange best practices and work together on training programs and technical exchanges to raise awareness on IPRs and better protect intellectual property rights. Impact: The MoU will enable India to exchange experiences in the innovation and IP ecosystems that will substantially benefit entrepreneurs, investors and businesses on both sides. The exchange of best practices between the two countries will lead to improved protection and awareness about Indias range of Intellectual creations which are as diverse as its-people. It will be a landmark step forward in Indias journey towards becoming a major player in global Innovation and will further the objectives of National IPR Policy, 2016. Features: A Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) with members from both sides will be formed to decide cooperation activities to be taken under the MoU in following areas: a) Exchange of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP awareness among the public, businesses and educational institutions of both countries;b) Collaboration in training programmes, exchange of experts, technical exchanges and outreach activities;c) Exchange and dissemination of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP with the industry, universities, R & D organisations and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through participation in programs and events in the matter, organized singly or jointly by the Parties;

d) Exchange of information and best practices for disposal of applications for patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyrights and Geographical Indications, as also the protection, enforcement and use of IP rights;

e) Cooperation in the development of automation and implementation of modernization projects, new documentation and information systems in IP and procedures for management of IP;

f) Cooperation to understand how Traditional Knowledge is protected; and the exchange of best practices, including traditional knowledge related databases and awareness raising of existing IP systems;

g) Exchange of information and best practices regarding Intellectual Property law infringements in the digital environment, especially regarding Copyright issues; and

h) Other cooperation activities as may he decided by the Parties with mutual understanding.

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7.4% growth in Foreign Tourist arrivals in July 2017 over July 2016
Aug 16,2017

The following are the important highlights regarding Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) & also FTAs on e-Tourist Visa from tourism during the month of July, 2017.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs):

n++ The number of FTAs in July, 2017 were 7.88 lakh as compared to FTAs of 7.34 lakh in July, 2016 and 6.28 lakh in July, 2015.

n++ The growth rate in FTAs in July, 2017 over July, 2016 is 7.4% compared to 16.8% in July, 2016 over July, 2015.

n++ FTAs during the period January- July 2017 were 56.74 lakh with a growth of 15.7%, as compared to the FTAs of 49.03 lakh with a growth of 9.6% in January- July 2016 over January- July 2015.

n++ The percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during July 2017 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (20.12%) followed by USA (16.26%), UK (10.88%), France (3.01%), Malaysia (2.81%), Canada (2.66%), Sri Lanka (2.56%), China (2.32%), Oman (2.27%), Germany (2.21%), Australia (2.17%), Japan (2.10%), Nepal (1.84%), UAE (1.82%) and Singapore (1.69%).

n++ The percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during July 2017 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (25.95%) followed by Mumbai Airport (16.63%), Haridaspur Land Check Post (10.92%), Chennai Airport (9.09%), Bengaluru Airport (6.78%), Cochin Airport (5.39%), Hyderabad Airport (5.07%),Kolkata Airport (4.23%),Gede Rail Land Check Post (2.78%), Trivandrum Airport (1.81%), Ahmedabad Airport (1.72%), Ghojadanga Land Check Post (1.54%), Tiruchirapalli Airport (1.37%), Amritsar Airport (0.97%) and Calicut Airport (0.73%).

Foreign Tourist Arrivals on e-Tourist Visa:

n++ During the month of July, 2017 total of 1.19 lakh tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 0.68 lakh during the month of July 2016 registering a growth of 73.3%.

n++ During January-July 2017, a total of 8.36 lakh tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 5.40 lakh during January-July 2016, registering a growth of 54.7%.

n++ The percentage shares of top 15 source countries availing e- Tourist Visa facilities during July, 2017 were as follows:

UK (12.9%), USA (12.0%), UAE (7.2%), France (6.4%), Oman (6.1%), China (5.4%), Spain (4.3%), Korea (Rep.of) (3.9%), Germany (3.1%), Australia (3.1%), Canada (3.1%), Italy (2.4%), Singapore (2.3%), Netherlands (2.2%) and Thailand (1.8%).

n++ The percentage shares of top 15 ports in tourist arrivals on e-Tourist Visa during July, 2017 were as follows:

New Delhi Airport (41.0%), Mumbai Airport (20.6%), Chennai Airport (9.5%), Bengaluru Airport (7.8%), Kochi Airport (6.6%), Hyderabad Airport (5.1%), Kolkata Airport (2.2%), Ahmadabad Airport (1.4%), Trivandrum Airport (1.4%), Calicut Airport (1.2%), Amritsar Airport (1.1%), Tirchy Airport (0.8%), Dabolim (Goa) Airport (0.4%), Jaipur Airport (0.3%) and Pune Airport(0.3%).

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Cabinet approves completion of balance works of North Koel Reservoir Project
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the proposal to complete the balance works of the North Koel Reservoir Project in Jharkhand and Bihar at an estimated expenditure of Rs.1622.27 crore to be incurred during three financial years from the start of the project.

The Cabinet also approved storage of water in dam restricted at lower level than envisaged earlier to reduce the submergence and to protect Betla National Park and Palamau Tiger Reserve.

The project is situated on North Koel river which is a tributary of Sone river finally joining the river Ganga. The North Koel Reservoir is located in the most backward tribal areas in Palamau and Garhwa districts of Jharkhand State. The construction was originally started in the year 1972 and continued till 1993 when it was stopped by the Forest Department, Govt. of Bihar. Since then, the work on dam is at a standstill. The major components of project are: 67.86 m high and 343.33 m long concrete dam called Mandal dam originally intended to store 1160 million cubic metre (MCM) water; 819.6 m long barrage at Mohammadganj, 96 km downstream of the dam; and two canals originating from left and right banks of Mohammadganj Barrage with distributaries system for irrigation. With the new lowered elevation level (EL) of 341 metre, the Mandal dam will now have storage of 190 MCM. The project aims to provide irrigation to 111,521 hectares of land annually in the most backward and drought prone areas of Palamu & Garhwa districts in Jharkhand and Aurangabad & Gaya districts in Bihar. The unfinished project as on date is providing irrigation to 71,720 hectares and completion of this project will provide additional irrigation benefit to the extent of 39,801 hectares. The irrigation potential through this Project in the two States would be as follows:

Total irrigation potential: 1,11, 521 hectares

Irrigation potential in Bihar: 91,917 hectares

Irrigation potential in Jharkhand: 19,604 hectares

The total cost of the project as assessed on date is Rs 2391.36 crore. An expenditure amounting to Rs. 769.09 crore has been incurred on the project till date. The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for completing the balance of the North-Koel reservoir project in Jharkhand & Bihar at an estimated cost of Rs 1622.27 crore during three financial years.

The common components amounting to Rs.1013.11 crore of balance works would be funded by the Central Government as a grant from PMKSY Fund. This would include cost of Net Present Value (NPV) and Compensatory Afforestation (CA) which comes to Rs.607 crore and Rs.43 crore respectively. The Central Government will also fund 60% of the cost of balance works amounting to Rs.365.5 crore (Bihar Rs.318.64 crore and Jharkhand Rs.46.86 crore) from Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) under PMKSY as grant from the States of Bihar and Jharkhand. The States of Bihar and Jharkhand will arrange 40% of remaining cost of balance works amounting to Rs.243.66 crore (Bihar 212.43 crore and Jharkhand 31.23 crore) as loan from LTIF through NABARD at the rate which is not subsidised and is related to market borrowing cost with no interest subvention.

The Cabinet also approved execution of balance works of the project on turnkey basis by M/S WAPCOS Ltd., a CPSU under MoWR, RD & GR as Project Management Consultant (PMC). The execution of the project will be monitored by an Empowered Committee of Government of India headed by CEO NITI Aayog.

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Cabinet approves raising Extra Budgetary Resources upto Rs. 9020 crore for Long Term Irrigation Fund during the year 2017-18
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for raising Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) of upto Rs. 9020 crore as per the requirement during 2017-18 by NABARD through issuance of Bonds for ensuring lending rate of 6% per annum (pa) in respect of borrowings for implementation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) works of 99 ongoing prioritized irrigation projects along with their command area development (CAD) works under PMKSY.

A large number of major and medium irrigation projects taken up under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) were languishing mainly due to inadequate provision of funds. During 2016-17, 99 ongoing projects under PMKSY- AIBP were identified for completion in phases by December-2019. To cater to the large fund requirement and ensure completion of these projects, the Union Finance Minister, during his Budget speech 2016-17, announced creation of dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) in NABARD with an initial corpus of Rs. 20,000 crore for funding of Central and State share for the identified ongoing projects under PMKSY (AIBP and CAD).

To make the loan from NABARD attractive for states, it was decided that the rate of interest may be kept around 6% by providing requisite cost free funds to NABARD every year during 2016-17 to 2019-20 on which interest cost would be borne by Govt. of India.

During the year 2016-17, NABARD disbursed aggregate amount of Rs. 9086.02 crore under LTIF, out of which Rs. 2414.16 crore was released for Polavaram project (without EBR component) and balance Rs. 6671.86 crore was released to identified projects using EBR. Further, an amount of Rs. 924.9 crore was disbursed as Central Assistance (CA) through budgetary provision. During 2016-17, overall an amount of Rs 2187 crore was raised by NABARD in the form of Government of India fully serviced bond as EBR.

During 2017-18, it is estimated that an amount of Rs 29,000 Crore may be required through LTIF, for which EBR of Rs 9020 cr would be required.

As per the status reported by the states and Central Water Commission during various review meeting, 18 projects have been completed/almost completed. Irrigation potential utilization is expected to be more than 14 lakh hectares during 2016-17 from all the 99 projects. During 2017-18, 33 more projects are likely to be completed. The completion of the identified irrigation projects will generate immediate wage and other employment opportunities in good measure during the construction phase. More importantly, on completion of the projects, the utilization of irrigation potential of about 76 lakh hectares will transform the agriculture scenario of the region resulting in generation of substantially more employment opportunities through increase in cropping intensity, change in cropping pattern, agro processing and other ancillary activities.

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Cabinet approves creation of 7 posts of Principal Director and 36 posts of Director on regular basis in the Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for 7 posts of Principal Director and 36 posts of Director on regular basis in the Armed Forces Headquarters (AFHQ) Civil Service, Ministry of Defence as part of restructuring .

Creation of regular posts in the AFHQ Civil Service will alleviate stagnation the cadre. It will be in the interest of better cadre management and bring improvement in the efficiency of the service. This would be an innovative measure entailing no additional cost but would bring benefits from the perspective of cadre management and enable its better utilisation.

Creation of regular posts in the place of n++in situn++ promotions will ensure more transparency in cadre management. Assigning of higher responsibilities on regular posts will result in greater productivity and accountability with respect to AFHQ CS officers.

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Cabinet approves procedure and mechanism for Strategic Disinvestment
Aug 16,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the proposal of Department of Investment and public Asset Management (DIPAM) for the strategic disinvestment of the following:

(i) For setting up an Alternative Mechanism (AM) consisting of the Finance Minister, Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Minister of Administrative Department, to decide on the matters relating to terms and conditions of the sale from the stage of inviting of Express of Interests (Eols) till inviting of financial bid; and

(ii) For empowering the Core Group of Secretaries (CGD) to take policy decisions with regard to procedural issues and to consider deviations as necessary from time to time for effective implementation of decisions of CCEA.

The approval will help in speedy completion of strategic disinvestment transactions.

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Union Cabinet approves new Metro Rail Policy; Focus on compact urban development, cost reduction and multi-modal integration
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved a new Metro Rail Policy that seeks to enable realization of growing metro rail aspirations of a large number of cities but in a responsible manner.

The policy opens a big window for private investments across a range of metro operations making PPP component mandatory for availing central assistance for new metro projects. Private investment and other innovative forms of financing of metro projects have been made compulsory to meet the huge resource demand for capital intensive high capacity metro projects.

n++Private participation either for complete provision of metro rail or for some unbundled components (like Automatic Fare Collection, Operation & Maintenance of services etc) will form an essential requirement for all metro ra il projects seeking central financial assistancen++ says the policy, to capitalize on private resources, expertise and entrepreneurship.

In view of inadequate availability and even absence of last mile connectivity at present, the new policy seeks to ensure it focusing on a catchment area of five kms. on either side of metro stations requiring States to commit in project reports to provide necessary last mile connectivity through feeder services, Non-Motorised Transport infrastructure like walking and cycling pathways and introduction of para-transport facilities. States, proposing new metro projects will be required to indicate in project report the proposals and investments that would be made for such services.

Seeking to ensure that least cost mass transit mode is selected for public transport, the new policy mandates Alternate Analysis, requiring evaluation of other modes of mass transit like BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System), Light Rail Transit, Tramways, Metro Rail and Regional Rail in terms of demand, capacity, cost and ease of implementation. Setting up of Urban Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) has been made mandatory which is to prepare Comprehensive Mobility Plans for cities for ensuring complete multi-modal integration for optimal utilization of capacities.

The new Metro Rail Policy provides for rigorous assessment of new metro proposals and proposes an independent third party assessment by agencies to be identified by the Government like the Institute of Urban Transport and other such Centres of Excellence whose capacities would be augmented, as required in this regard.

Taking note of substantial social, economic and environmental gains of metro projects, the Policy stipulated a shift from the present Financial Internal Rate of Return of 8% to Economic Internal Rate of Return of 14% for approving metro projects, in line with global practices.

Noting that urban mass transit projects should not merely be seen as urban transport projects but more as urban transformation projects, the new policy mandates Transit Oriented Development (TOD) to promote compact and dense urban development along metro corridors since TOD reduces travel distances besides enabling efficient land use in urban areas. Under the policy, States need to adopt innovative mechanisms like Value Capture Financing tools to mobilize resources for financing metro projects by capturing a share of increase in the asset values through Betterment Levy. States would also be required to enable low cost debt capital through issuance of corporate bonds for metro projects.

Seeking to ensure financial viability of metro projects, the new Metro Rail Policy requires the States to clearly indicate in the project report the measures to be taken for commercial/property development at stations and on other urban land and for other means of maximum non-fare revenue generation through advertisements, lease of space etc., backed by statutory support. States are also required to commit to accord all required permissions and approvals.

The new policy empowers States to make rules and regulations and set up permanent Fare Fixation Authority for timely revision of fares. States can take up metro projects exercising any of the three options for availing central assistance. These include; PPP with central assistance under the Viability Gap Funding scheme of the Ministry of Finance, Grant by Government of India under which 10% of the project cost will be given as lump sum central assistance and 50:50 Equity sharing model between central and state governments. Under all these options, private participation, however, is mandatory.

The policy envisages private sector participation in O & M of metro services in different ways. These include:

1.Cost plus fee contract: Private operator is paid a monthly/annual payment for O&M of system. This can have a fixed and variable component depending on the quality of service. Operational and revenue risk is borne by the owner.

2. Gross Cost Contract: Private operator is paid a fixed sum for the duration of the contract. Operator to bear the O&M risk while the owner bears the revenue risk.

3. Net Cost Contract: Operator collects the complete revenue generated for the services provided. If revenue generation is below the O&M cost, the owner may agree to compensate.

At present, metro projects with a total length of 370 kms are operational in 8 cities viz., Delhi (217 kms), Bengaluru (42.30 kms), Kolkata (27.39 kms), Chennai (27.36 kms), Kochi (13.30 kms), Mumbai (Metro Line 1-11.40 km, Mono Rail Phase 1-9.0 km), Jaipur-9.00 kms and Gurugram (Rapid Metro-1.60 km).

Metro Projects with a total length of 537 kms are in progress in 13 cities including the eight mentioned above. New cities acquiring metro services are; Hyderabad (71 kms), Nagpur (38 kms), Ahmedabad (36 kms), Pune (31.25 kms) and Lucknow (23 kms).

Metro projects with a total length of 595 kms in 13 cities including 10 new cities are at various stages of planning and appraisal. These are; Delhi Metro Phase IV- 103.93 km, Delhi & NCR-21.10 km, Vijayawada-26.03 km, Visakhapatnam-42.55 km, Bhopal-27.87 km, Indore-31.55 km, Kochi Metro Phase II-11.20 km, Greater Chandigarh Region Metro Project-37.56 km, Patna-27.88 km, Guwahati-61 km, Varanasi-29.24 km, Thiruvananthapuram & Kozhikode (Light Rail Transport)-35.12 km and Chennai Phase II-107.50 km.

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Ind-Ra: Low Tariffs Face Uncertainty; Capex Pressure and Robust Capacity Additions to Continue in Solar Power Sector
Aug 16,2017

Low solar bids, while causing disruption in the power sector, have little financial buffers to face challenges such as cost overrun, increased interest rate and counterparty delays, according to India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). An analysis, where specific project features have been assumed by Ind-Ra, shows that a tariff of INR2.44/kWh could have an equity internal rate of return of 10%.

Falling panel prices and increased competition have contributed to aggressive bids. In addition, an increase in panel conversion efficiency has contributed to a reduction in land required for panels and a fall in the balance of system cost. Falling panel prices have encouraged developers to have a high DC/AC capacity ratio to optimise supply.

Risk allocation in tenders has taken centre stage in bids. Tenders floated consciously address payment security and grid curtailment to attract low bids. The Rewa bid started this trend. Solar Energy Corporation of India and NTPC Limited (IND AAA/Stable) have witnessed low bids from developers, because of the comfort derived from their credit profiles.

Utility scale solar capacity additions are likely to be in line with the Ministry of Power targets. The pace of solar capacity auctions, along with an emphasis on compliance with renewable purchase obligations, is critical. On the other hand, rooftop solar capacity installation is lagging behind ground-mounted installation owing to no concerted efforts to achieve targets.

Payments days across counterparties, except Tamil Nadus distribution utility, have been observed at less than 90 days. Adverse financial conditions can derail renewable projects. Also, the grid curtailment risk, albeit likely to be temporary in nature, is a concern as renewable penetration increases. Against the backdrop of distribution utilities trying to reduce power purchase costs, the emerging threat of renegotiation and termination of power purchase agreements can derail developments in the sector.

Developers seem to be favouring USD bonds for financing because of ease of placing large issuances. Rupee bonds for renewable projects have taken a backseat owing investor perception of fast-changing dynamics and doubts about long-term sustainability.

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