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Income Tax Department Steps-up actions under Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016
May 25,2017

The Income-tax Department (ITD) has initiated actions under the new Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 (the Act) w.e.f. 1st November, 2016. The Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Rules, 2016 have been framed in this regard. As per the Act, Benami property includes movable or immovable property, tangible or intangible property, corporeal or incorporeal property. It empowers provisional attachment and subsequent confiscation of benami properties. It also allows for prosecution of the beneficial owner, the benamidar, the abettor and the inducer to benami transactions, which may result in rigorous imprisonment up to 7 years and fine up to 25% of fair market value of the property.

The Income-tax Directorates of Investigation have identified more than 400 benami transactions up to 23 May, 2017. These include deposits in bank accounts, plots of land, flat and jewellery. Provisional attachment of properties under the Act has been done in more than 240 cases. The market value of properties under attachment is more than Rs. 600 crore. Immovable properties have been attached in 40 cases with total value of more than Rs. 530 crore in Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

In one case in Jabalpur, the benamidar, a driver, was found to be owner of land worth Rs 7.7 crore. The beneficial owner is a Madhya Pradesh based listed company, his employer. In Mumbai a professional was found to be holding several immovable properties in the name of shell companies which exist only on paper. In another case in Sanganer, Rajasthan a jeweller was found to be beneficial owner of nine immovable properties in the name of his former employee, a man of no means. Certain properties purchased through shell companies have also been attached by the Department in Kolkata.

The Government is keen to implement the new Benami Act in an effective manner with visible outcomes on the ground. For this purpose, 24 dedicated Benami Prohibition Units (BPUs) have been set up all over India in the last week. These units are under the overall supervision of the Principal Directors of Investigation in the Income-tax Department to enable swift action and follow up, especially in cases where criminality has been detected.

In addition, the Income-tax Department, has undertaken searches on 10 senior government officials during the past one month, keeping in view its policy to unearth black money earned through corrupt practices and introduce accountability and probity in public life. The crackdown on all forms of illicit wealth is being spearheaded by the ITD to ensure that any economic misdeed is immediately identified and actions as per law follows.

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Cabinet approves Fair and Remunerative Price payable by sugar mills for 2017-18 sugar season
May 25,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for fixing the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane at Rs. 255/- per quintal (qt) for sugar season 2017-18 linked to a basic recovery rate of 9.5% subject to a premium of Rs. 2.68 per qtl for every 0.1% point increase in recovery above that level. The approved FRP reflects an increase of 10.87% over the FRP of sugar season 2016-17. The FRP so approved shall be applicable for purchase of sugarcane from the farmers in the sugar season 2017-18 by the sugar mills. The move is a reflection of the Governments pro-farmer initiatives, keeping in mind the interest of sugarcane farmers and importance of the sugar industry.

Details

The sugar industry is an important agro-based industry that impacts the livelihood of about 50 million sugarcane farmers and around 5 lakh workers directly employed in sugar mills, apart from those employed in various ancillary activities including farm labour and transporters. This decision has been taken to provide appropriate price to the farmers for their cane.

FRP of sugarcane has been determined on the basis of recommendations of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and after consultation with State Governments and other stake-holders. Recommended FRP has been arrived at by taking into account various factors such as cost of production, overall demand-supply situation, domestic and international prices, inter-crop price parity, terms of trade prices of primary by-products, and likely impact of FRP on general price level and resource use efficiency.

During the last 3 years, in order to support the sugarcane farmers and to ensure that their dues are paid by the sugar mills, the Government of India introduced schemes such as SEFASU; Soft Loan, Incentive for Raw Sugar Export and Production Subsidy. Through these interventions, the funds made available to the mills were utilized for payment of the cane price arrears of the farmers. Direct credit into the farmers bank accounts of their dues was also mandated.

As a consequence, clearance of cane price arrears of farmers reached 99.33% for 2014-15 sugar season and 98.5% for 2015-16 sugar season. Cane price arrears for the current sugar season 2016-17 is the lowest as compared to last five years of the corresponding period.

In order to address the current sugar seasons shortfall in production and any possible adverse price sentiment, the Government has allowed import of only 5 lakh MT of raw sugar at zero duty. However, to protect the Indian farmers, import quantity has been restricted along with zonal restrictions so as to make it available only in actually deficient areas and safeguard the interest of cane farmers.

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Cabinet approves allocation of 2.5% of Central Road Fund for development & maintenance of National Waterways (NWs)
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has accorded its approval today to a proposal jointly mooted by the Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) for amendment of Central Road Fund Act, 2000 to allocate 2.5 per cent of the proceeds of Central Road Fund (CRF) for development and maintenance of National Waterways (NWs) and a reduction in the share provided for development of National Highways. The Cabinet has also directed that while implementing viable National Waterways projects, all such components that can be done on PPP basis, should be explored accordingly and government funding may be used only if private investment is not forthcoming for any component

The Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017 would be moved by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in the ensuing Monsoon Session, 2017 of the Parliament.

Impact

An allocation of 2.5 per cent of CRF proceeds would provide approximately Rs.2000 crore per annum for the development and maintenance of NWs at existing rates of duties funding the CRF. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has estimated that approximately Rs. 25,000 crores would be required for development of identified projects on NWs till 2022-23. In this regard, works for construction of multi modal terminals, new navigation lock, River Information System, development of fairway etc., have already commenced under the Jal Marg Vikas Project being implemented on NW-1 (River Ganga). IWAI also has planned to undertake work on the development of 24 NWs during the next three years.

It is estimated that 1.8 lakh persons would be provided employment in the Inland Waterways Transport (IWT) sector in the next five years. New employment opportunities are expected to be generated for operation and management of fairway, terminals, aids to navigation, barges, training, etc. Further, development of additional 106 NWs will create additional job opportunities.

Background

The Government has been emphasizing the importance of developing Inland Water Transport Sector for the national economy. The National Waterways Act, 2016 for developing and maintaining the existing five NWs and new 106 NWs has been passed by Parliament and is now enforced. The arrangement approved by the Cabinet; would make available adequate and sustainable source of funding for NWs through institutional means of CRF. This is one more step towards promotion of Inland Water Transport sector as a cost effective, logistically efficient and environment friendly sector which would contribute in diverting traffic from the over congested roads and railways and offer an incentive and provide certainty for private companies to invest in the sector. It is estimated that a standard 2000 DWT vessel has the potential to transport 125 Truck Loads and almost one complete train rake (40 rail wagons) load on existing road and rail infrastructure.

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Cabinet approves setting up of new AIIMS in Kamrup, Assam
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for establishment of new AIIMS at Kamrup (North Guwahati Revenue circle). The cost of the project is Rs.1123 crore and it will be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).

The new AIIMS will be completed in a period of 48 months from the zero date (that is the date of the approval of Government of India), broadly comprising a pre-construction phase of 15 months, a construction phase of 30 months and stabilization / commissioning phase of three months.

Details:

The Institution will consist of a hospital with a capacity of 750 beds, trauma center facilities, medical college with an intake of 100 MBBS students per year, nursing college with an intake of 60 B.Sc. (Nursing) students per year, residential complexes and allied facilities / services, broadly on the pattern of AIIMS, New Delhi. The hospital will have 22 Speciality/Super-Speciality Departments including 16 Operation Theaters. It will also have an AYUSH department with 30 beds for providing treatment facilities in traditional system of medicine.

Impact:

The establishment of new AIIMS will serve the dual purpose of providing super speciality health care to the population while also help create a large pool of doctors and other health workers in this region that can be available for primary and secondary level institutions / facilities being created under National Health Mission (NHM).

Background:

Under this scheme, AIIMS have been established in Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, Raipur, Jodhpur, Rishikesh and Patna while work of AIIMS Rae Bareli is in progress. Also, three AIIMS in Nagpur (Maharashtra), Kalyani (West Bengal) and Mangalagiri in Guntur (Andhra Pradesh) have been sanctioned in 2015 and two AIIMS have been sanctioned at Bathinda and Gorakhpur in 2016.

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Cabinet approves MoU between Spain and India on cooperation in the field of Organ Transplant Services
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the National Transplant Organization, Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, Spain and the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India on cooperation in the field of

The MoU would facilitate bilateral cooperation in the field of organ and tissue procurement and transplantation and better understanding between the two countries. The knowledge gained will help in improving the services rendered to the patients suffering from end stage organ failure.

The Memorandum of Understanding is proposed to be signed during the forthcoming bilateral meeting with the Spanish side.

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Cabinet approves Joint Declaration of Intent between Germany and India regarding cooperation in the sector of alternative medicine
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Joint Declaration of Intent (JDI) between Germany and India regarding cooperation in the sector of alternative medicine.

The signing of the JDl will enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the areas of traditional/alternative medicine. Initiation of collaborative research, training and scientific capacity building in the field of alternative medicine under the JDI between the two countries would contribute to the enhanced employment opportunities in the AYUSH sector.

There are no additional financial implications involved. The financial resources necessary to conduct research, training courses, conferences / meetings will be met from the existing allocated budget and existing plan schemes of Ministry of AYUSH.

Background:

India is blessed with well-developed systems of traditional medicine which hold tremendous potential in the global health scenario. Germany has considerable interest in Traditional Systems of Medicine. The Ministry of AYUSH as a part of its mandate to propagate Indian systems of Medicine globally has taken effective steps by entering into MoU with China, Malaysia, Trinidad & Tobago Hungary, Bangladesh, Nepal, Mauritius, Mongolia and Myanmar.

The Ministry has taken many initiatives for promotion of Ayurveda in Germany with the recommendation and cooperation of the Indian Embassy in Berlin. One of the major initiatives is the collaborative research Project between the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) and Charite University, Berlin on Osteoarthritis of the knee. The results of the trial are encouraging and the clinical trial demonstrates significant improvement in patients. The study has been completed successfully and is under publication.

A delegation led by Shri Shripad Yesso Naik, Honble Minister of State, (Independent Charge). Ministry of AYUSH had visited Germany from 15-19 October 2016 to participate in the 2nd European World Ayurveda Congress (EWAC) and have interactions with the authorities in Germany. The Congress was supported by the Ministry of AYUSH. During the visit a bilateral meeting was held between Honble MoS(IC), AYUSH with the Parliamentary State Secretary Ms. Ingrid Fischbach during which both sides had unanimously agreed to begin the process of drafting and negotiating a JDl in the field of AYUSH and Natural medicine. It is expected that the JDI would give a boost to India-Germany ties and enhance cooperation between the two countries.

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Cabinet approves phasing out Foreign Investment Promotion Board
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the phasing out of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). The proposal entails abolishing the FIPB and allowing administrative Ministries/Departments to process applications for FDI requiring government approval.

Henceforth, the work relating to processing of applications for FDI and approval of the Government thereon under the extant FDI Policy and FEMA, shall now be handled by the concerned Ministries/Departments in consultation with the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion(DIPP), Ministry of Commerce, which will also issue the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for processing of applications and decision of the Government under the extant FDI policy.

In addition, Foreign Investors will find India more attractive destination and this will result in more inflow of FDI. The move will provide ease of doing business and will help in promoting the principle of Maximum Governance and Minimum Government.

Background

The proposal for abolition of FIPB was approved by the Cabinet in its meeting on 24-05-2017. Presently, applications are considered by FIPB in Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance comprising of various Secretaries of Government of India for making recommendation on FDI applications. After the Cabinet decision, it would be handled independently by Administrative Ministries as per Sector.

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Cabinet approves Raising of Bonds of Rs. 2360 crores for Renewable Energy
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to Raising of Bonds of Rs. 2360 crores for Renewable Energy.

The Bonds will be raised by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) through the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) during the 2017-18. These funds will be used by MNRE in the approved programmes/schemes for solar park, green energy corridor, generation-based incentives for wind projects, CPSU and defence solar projects, viability gap funding for solar projects, roof-top solar, off-grid/grid-distributed and decentralized renewable power, investment in corporations and autonomous bodies etc. Such timely investment would boost infrastructure in renewable sector and facilitate achievement of ambitious targets for the renewable energy sector. The resources raised would be used for developing additional capacity in renewable energy sector which would result in generation of additional employment.

Background

The Government had declared additional finance mobilization of Rs. 31,300 crore bonds through NHAI, PFC, REC, IREDA and IWAI in the budget for FYT 2016-17. As a part of this, the Government had allocated Rs. 4000 crores to IREDA to raise n++GOI fully serviced taxable Bondsn++ on behalf of the MNRE during the FY 2016-17. Out of this allocation, IREDA had raised Rs. 1640 crores as per the requirement of MNRE. The MNRE subsequently approached the Cabinet, to approve raising of the balance Rs. 2360 crores in the year 2016-17.

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Cabinet apprised of MoU between India and Bangladesh on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bangladesh on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. The MoU was signed at New Delhi in April, 2017.

This MoU shall enable the areas of cooperation such as, space science, technology and applications including remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication and satellite based navigation; Space science and planetary exploration; use of spacecraft and space systems and ground system; and application of space technology.

The MoU would lead to set up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from Department of Space/ Indian Space Research Organisation (DOS/ISRO), and the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC), which will further work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementing this MoU.

It will provide impetus to explore newer research activities and application possibilities in the field of remote sensing of the earth; satellite communication; satellite navigation; space science and exploration of outer space.

Financing of works carried out under this MoU shall be provided by the respective executive organisation with due consideration of national norms and rules concerning budgetary regulations in force in their respective States and within the limits of available resources. Joint projects and works carried out under this MoU depending on the type and field of activity shall be on non-commercial or commercial basis and shall be executed either without mutual payments or on the basis of compensatory arrangements or contracts.

The MoU would lead to develop a joint activity in the field of application of space technologies for the benefit of humanity. Thus all sections and regions of the country will get benefited.

Background:

India and Bangladesh have expressed interest to cooperate with each other in the area of space. Accordingly, a template of framework MoU for space cooperation was provided to Indian High Commission to Bangladesh & MEA in August 2016 for further processing at Government level, for which Bangladesh side has given its concurrence in December 2016. Accordingly, an MoU between India and Bangladesh on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, signed at New Delhi on April 08, 2017.

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Cabinet approves policy for providing preference to Make in India in Government procurements
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a policy for providing preference to Make in India in government procurements. The new policy will give a substantial boost to domestic manufacturing and service provision, thereby creating employment. It will also stimulate the flow of capital and technology into domestic manufacturing and services. It will also provide a further thrust towards manufacture of parts, components, sub-components etc. of these items, in line with the vision of Make in India.

The new policy is the reflection of the Government of India to encourage Make in India and promote manufacturing and production of goods and services in India with a view to enhancing income and employment. Procurement by the Government is substantial in amount and can contribute towards this policy objective. Local content can be increased through partnerships, cooperation with local companies, establishing production units in India or Joint Ventures (JV) with Indian suppliers, increasing the participation of local employees in services and by training them.

Details:

The policy will be implemented through an Order pursuant to Rule 153(iii) of the General Financial Rules, 2017 to provide purchase preference (linked with local content) in Government procurements. Under the policy, preference in Government procurement will be given to local suppliers. Local suppliers are those whose goods or services meet prescribed minimum thresholds (ordinarily 50%) for local content. Local content is essentially domestic value addition.

In procurement of goods for Rs. 50 lakhs and less, and where the Nodal Ministry determines that there is sufficient local capacity and local competition, only local suppliers will be eligible.

For procurements valued at more than Rs. 50 lakhs (or where there is insufficient local capacity/ competition) if the lowest bid is not from a non-local supplier, the lowest-cost local supplier who is within a margin of 20% of the lowest bid, will be given the opportunity to match the lowest bid. If the procurement is of a type that the order can be divided and given to more than one supplier, the non-local supplier who is the lowest bidder will get half of the order and the local supplier will get the other half if it agrees to match the price of the lowest bid. If the procurement cannot be divided, then the lowest cost local supplier will be given the order if it agrees to match the lowest bid.

Small purchases of less than Rs.5 lakhs are exempted. The order also covers autonomous bodies, government companies/ entities under the governments control.

The policy also requires that specifications in tenders must not be restrictive e.g. should not require proof of supply in other countries or proof of exports in respect of previous experience. They must not result in unreasonable exclusion of local suppliers who would otherwise be eligible, beyond what is essential for ensuring quality or creditworthiness of the supplier.

The policy lays down a procedure for verification of local content relying primarily on self-certification. There will be penal consequences for false declarations. In some cases, verification by statutory / cost auditors etc. will be required.

A Standing Committee in Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion will oversee the implementation of this order and issues arising therefrom, and make recommendations to Nodal Ministries and procuring entities.

The policy has been developed keeping in view the core principles of procurement including competitiveness and adhering to sound procurement practices and execution of orders. The policy would continue to maintain the balance between promoting Make in India and ensuring timely, value-for-money products for the procuring entities.

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Boost to Metro Rail Connectivity Cabinet approves Noida - Greater Noida Metro Rail Project
May 25,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Noida - Greater Noida Metro Rail Project covering a length of 29.707 k.m. Total completion cost of the project is Rs.5,503 crore.

Metro rail connection between NOIDA and Greater NOIDA will result into people being assured about their mobility and thus more people will like to move to these satellite towns of Delhi, thus decongesting Delhi. As a result, more residential and commercial complexes will develop in this region. With metro rail in place, there will be less vehicular traffic on roads leading to less congestion, less time and cost of journey, less consumption of fossil fuel and less environmental pollution. People of Noida-Greater Noida, which has a population of approx. 7.50 Lakhs and people of surrounding areas will be benefitted with this metro link.

Project will be implemented by Noida Metro Rail Corporation Limited, which will be a 50:50 jointly owned company of Govt. of India and Govt. of Uttar Pradesh. The existing Noida Metro Rail Corporation Limited (NMRCL) which is a State owned Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will be converted into a joint SPV of Government of India (Gol) and Government of Uttar Pradesh (GoUP), for implementation of the project.

The project would generate significant direct and indirect employment of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workforce. Substantial indirect employment will also be generated during construction and operation phases.

The project is scheduled to be completed by April, 2018 as per the Detailed Project Report (DPR). About 70% progress of civil work and 40% of overall financial progress of the project have been achieved.

Project will be covered under the legal framework of Central Metro Acts, Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978 and the Metro Railways (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002, as amended from time to time.

Background:

The Noida city, located in Gautam Buddha Nagar District of Uttar Pradesh State, was created under the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Area Development Act. It possesses all modern amenities and is considered to be one of the most modern suburbs of Delhi in the National Capital Region (NCR). The population of Noida and Greater Noida as per 2011 Census of India is about 7,50,000 and is projected to grow to 19,00,000 by the year 2021. People from Delhi and surrounding area are preferring NOIDA for settlement. Noida has a potential of about 10,000 industrial units and presently about 7,500 are developed and functional. Noida provides employment to over 2,00,000 in the region with these industrial units. Noida mainly has road linkages with Delhi and the adjoining areas of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana State. Noida does not have a railway station and the nearest railway station is Hazarat Nizamuddin, which is at a distance of about 15 km. The nearest airport Delhi is at about 30 km from Noida.

Greater Noida, also envisaged as a satellite town to control the migration to Delhi, is planned to have a population of 12,00,000 and employment potential of 4,50,000 by 2021. While settlements have started coming up in Greater Noida, it is still in the developing stage and needs greater connectivity with Noida and Delhi. Considering the relatively lower costs of housing at Greater Noida, people prefer staying in Greater Noida and commute to Noida / Delhi for employment. Greater Noida also mainly depends on road linkages for intra city traffic and connection with Noida and Delhi. Greater Noida does not have a railway station and the nearest railway station is Boraki, which is at 3 km from the proposed terminal metro station at Greater Noida. The nearest airport is Delhi at about 45 km from Greater Noida. The population is expected to grow exponentially in Noida -Greater Noida region in the coming years.

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Civil Aviation Ministry Seeks Flexibility in RCS to Promote Intra- Regional Air Connectivity
May 24,2017

The Minister for Civil Aviation Shri P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju announced that his Ministry would soon be launching the second round of bidding under RCS-UDAN. The Minister informed that Airline Operators have shown keen interest in undertaking operations under the scheme and on the basis of the experience of the first round of bidding his Ministry wanted to make the process more simpler and attractive. He also informed that a stakeholders consultation meeting is being organized on 7th June, 2017, to discuss the proposed amendments and key aspects of the scheme for the second round of bidding. Following this, the stakeholders will be expected to submit their inputs and observations by 9th June, 2017.

The Secretary for Civil Aviation, Shri R.N. Choubey highlighted the six aspects of the scheme for which suggestions have been invited from stakeholders.

Under Aspect No.1 proposes to consider routes between two airports which are neither under-served nor un-served. This is being proposed to further encourage intra-regional connectivity.

Aspect No.2 deals with whether fixed wing aircrafts should be allowed to operate below 150 km for specific areas/regions.

Under Aspect No.3, the exclusivity clause is sought to be made more flexible depending upon operators and certain rules.

Under Aspect No.4, the Ministry has sought suggestions with regard to minimum number of RCS seats. Also whether the minimum number and maximum number of RCS seats could be stretched over a period of a week instead of a particular flight. Opinion have also been sought whether seasonal flights should be permitted under RCS.

Aspect No.5 asks stakeholders to see whether non-RCS routes should be included as part of the network proposal.

Aspect No.6 seeks suggestions from stakeholders to incentivized helicopter operations under RCS.

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Fitch: Disruptive Trends May Roil the Global Auto Industry
May 24,2017

The global auto industry is ripe for disruption as a result of changing global demographics, increased urbanization, heightened environmental awareness, growing safety concerns and rapidly evolving technologies, according to Fitch Ratings. These changes are likely to create winners and losers and as technologies advance, there is an increased probability that they will play a potentially significant role in the ratings of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers.

Fitch is placing more emphasis on issuers long-term positioning relative to these developing trends as the global auto industry evolves. The shifting landscape is unlikely to directly influence most issuer ratings in the near term, but a rapid change in the competitive environment could alter Fitchs view of an issuers market position, which could affect its ratings.

As technology evolves, the car is being recognized as an under-utilized asset. New market entrants and business models pose an increasing threat to incumbent players. Pressure from startups and from technology companies outside the traditional auto industry is forcing OEMs and suppliers to work on new technologies, such as automated driving, and leading OEMs to consider transportation in addition to manufacturing vehicles. The success of these trends is not guaranteed as widespread adoption will require significant advances in technology, accommodating regulations, answers to thorny legal and ethical questions, and customer acceptance of new technologies.

Vehicle electrification, driven by tightening emissions regulations in most major global regions, is leading to significant changes in vehicle powertrains. Not all vehicles will be electric, but Fitch expects the number of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and fully electric vehicles (EVs) to increase significantly over the next decade.

Electrification will alter the playing field for OEMs, Fitch believes. EVs do not need to meet emissions requirements and their powertrains are relatively simple, which has helped prompt a large number of startup EV OEMs around the world. Most are likely to fail, and it remains unclear whether even Tesla will successfully evolve from a luxury vehicle maker into a mass-market OEM. However, a future automotive environment marked by high fuel costs or heavy regulation of internal combustion engines would support the EV startups, increasing their chances of competing with traditional OEMs.

The business potential of autonomous vehicles is tremendous, especially for taxi services. Some studies suggest removing the driver could reduce the cost of operating a taxi by more than 80%. As a result, driverless taxis could be cheaper and more convenient than owning a car, particularly in urban areas. This could reduce urban congestion and lessen the need to devote scarce urban property to parking lots. Autonomous vehicles also promise to open up personal transportation opportunities for people who are unable to drive themselves.

Fitch expects that it will likely be at least a decade before the general public will be able to purchase fully autonomous vehicles for personal use. In addition to the technological hurdles, cost will be a factor. While the significant additional cost of the technology might make sense in a taxi, private owners may find it harder to justify. Also, there are more than 250 million registered cars and trucks in the U.S. today, and even if all new vehicles had fully autonomous capabilities next year, it would likely be more than a decade before even the majority of vehicles on U.S. roads were autonomous.

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Indias total fisheries production could reach 16 MMT by 2019: ASSOCHAM study
May 24,2017

Urging the government to double the outlay of Rs 3,000 crore for development and management of fisheries sector, apex industry body ASSOCHAM said that India could achieve about 16 million metric tonnes (MMT) of inland and marine fisheries production by 2019-20 thereby adopting a target oriented approach to achieve eight per cent growth year-on-year.

n++Aided by governments efforts to bring systemic changes in processing sector, the domestic segment in raw and processed fisheries sector in value terms is expected to touch Rs 1.5 lakh crore by 2020 and total domestic retail market is forecast to cross Rs 61 lakh crore or almost triple in next 4-5 years,n++ noted a just-concluded ASSOCHAM study titled Fisheries in India: Potential & prospects; Reference state - West Bengal.

n++Thus coupled with exports, fisheries sector in India should aim at a target of Rs two lakh crore by 2020 in value terms,n++ added the study conducted by Agri & Food Processing Division of The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

n++Both direct and indirect employment in entire fisheries sector in India is likely to reach 15.25 million from an estimated 14 million in 2014-15,n++ said Mr D.S. Rawat, national secretary general of ASSOCHAM.

n++However, most of the incremental fish production will have to come from aquaculture and Blue Revolution will provide necessary impetus in this direction,n++ said Mr Rawat.

n++Achievement of ambitious targets in increasing fish production is possible only through harnessing potential in aquaculture,n++ he added.

The study further noted that since India is endowed with over 8,000 kilometres (kms) long coastline, exclusive economic zone of over two million square kms of continental shelf, there is scope to increase marine catch, which has turned sluggish lately.

Global fish production is likely to grow by about 1.5 per cent during 2015-2020 and reach a total of about 183 MT (million tonnes), while with value added/downstream products the trade in this sector could cross $200 billion by 2025, this despite the sluggish growth in exports, highlighted the ASSOCHAM study.

n++Marine/capture fisheries is set to hover around 93 MT and aquaculture production (89 MT) could overtake by 2021-22,n++ it said.

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Swachh Bharat App Launched in National Museum
May 24,2017

n++Swachh Bharat Appn++ has been launched in National Museum under Ministry of Culture by the Minister of State (I/C) for Culture & Tourism Dr. Mahesh Sharma yesterday. The main focus of this n++Swachh Bharat Appn++ is to basically involve people actively to become part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Movement).

At present, this App is available for Android Mobile phones which can be downloaded from Google Play Store. In this App the concept of Physical web is implemented. When you are in the monument or Museum it will deliver you the message about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and ask you to report the garbage around you. All you need is to enable the Bluetooth of your mobile device. Even if you did not have the App installed then also you will be delivered the message by Google about the Swachh Bharat Abiyan and which will give you the link to install the App. Once you start the App it will ask to take photograph of the garbage and write the comment and just submit. It will be reported to the authority on the backend.

The App will be monitored by the Ministry of Culture and will play an important role in cultivating the significance of cleanliness to the citizens.

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