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Delhi-NCR tops job creation among 8 cities in Q4 of FY 16: ASSOCHAM study
May 30,2016

Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region) has emerged as the leader in creating the maximum number of jobs during the fourth quarter of the last fiscal, generating over 2.6 laks new jobs while a total of 8.5 lakh jobs were created in eight major cities, an ASSOCHAM study has found.

Cornering over one-fourth share of the total number of new jobs generated across India, Delhi-NCR emerged on top with over 2.6 lakh new jobs created during January to March 2016 followed by Bangalore (1.9 lakh), Mumbai (1.5 Lakh), Chennai (82.2 thousand) and Hyderabad ( 60 thousand). About 88.9 percent of job openings have been recorded in these top five cities, ASSOCHAM placement study.

Among top metro cities, Delhi-NCR had maximum share of over 30.1 per cent in job creation while Bangalore witnessed a 23.4 per cent contribution in job creation followed by Mumbai with 18.6 per cent, said Mr. D S Rawat, Secretary General ASSOCHAM while releasing the study.

Other major cities that have recorded significant job openings during January to March 2016 are Pune (49.2 thousand), Kolkata (25.2 thousand) and Ahmedabad (20.5 thousand), highlighted the study.

Information technology (IT), IT-enabled services (ITeS) and IT hardware sector together accounted for a majority share of about 60.6 per cent in the total number of new jobs generated across sectors during January - March 2016, while services has ranked second with 17.6 percent share followed by manufacturing (9.4 percent), banking, financial services & insurance (7.6 percent) and construction & real estate (3.2 percent) in total employment generation in July, says the chamber study.

A total of over 8,50,000 lakhs new jobs were generated across India during the last quarter of 2016, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said in a release.

However, banking, construction, financial services, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), human resources (HR), manufacturing, advertising, event management, real estate, retail and telecom are the other sectors which created job creation during 2016.

In Delhi-NCR, out of the total job openings about 61.1 percent of job openings are recorded from ITEs followed by services (18.5), manufacturing (8.4 percent), banking financial services & insurance (7.2 percent) and construction & real estate (3.1 percent) of all the new jobs generated.

Sector wise Job Openings

Banking Financial Services and Insurance

Manufacturing

ITEs

Construction and Real Estate

Services

Others

Total

Mumbai1604915380872276228308822788158554Bangalore12668171501259905208352012928199145Delhi & NCR18585215681570728016474324253256926Chennai6067973850619241712150126682257Hyderabad37295849384681489999592560455Kolkata21603106134851310474144925251Ahmadabad1712291111212776355437620541Pune35874547321741956639055349207Total64557802495162472740015034513538852336

City wise share in Job Openings

Banking Financial Services and Insurance

Manufacturing

ITEs

Construction and Real Estate

Services

Others

Total

Mumbai24.919.216.922.720.520.618.6Banglore19.621.424.41923.421.623.4Delhi28.826.930.429.331.531.430.1Chennai9.412.19.88.88.19.49.7Hyderabad5.87.37.5

GDP Growth Estimated at 7.7% for 2016-17 - FICCIs Economic Outlook Survey
May 30,2016

The results of latest round of FICCIs Economic Outlook Survey puts across a median GDP growth forecast of 7.7% for the fiscal year 201617. The growth in 2016-17 is expected to be supported by an improvement in the agricultural and industrial sector performance. Prediction of a good monsoon after two consecutive years of sub-optimal rainfall backs the improved outlook in the current fiscal.

According to the survey results, agriculture sector is expected to record a median growth of 2.8% in 2016-17, with a minimum and maximum range of 1.6% and 3.5% respectively. Industrial growth is anticipated to grow by 7.1% in 2016-17, while services sector growth is estimated at 9.6%.

The survey was conducted during April/May 2016 among economists belonging to the industry, banking and financial services sector. The economists were asked to provide forecast for key macro-economic variables for the year 2016-17 as well as for Q4 (JanuaryMarch) FY16 and Q1 (April-June) FY17.

The median growth forecast for IIP has been put at 3.5% for the year 2016-17, with a minimum and maximum range of 3.0% and 4.5% respectively.

The outlook of the participating economists on inflation remained moderate. The median forecast for Wholesale Price Index based inflation rate for 2016-17 has been put at 2.2%, with a minimum and maximum range of (-)1.3% and 2.9% respectively. The Consumer Price Index has a median forecast of 5.1% for 2016-17, with a minimum and maximum range of 4.5% and 5.5% respectively.

Views of the economists were sought on whether the government will be able to achieve the fiscal deficit target of 3.5% in 2016-17. The government has been serious about treading on the path of fiscal consolidation and maintained its credibility by meeting the targeted fiscal deficit of 3.9% for the financial year 2015-16.

A majority of the participating economists believe that the fiscal deficit target for the year 2016-17 seems achievable. It was pointed out that some of the enabling factors would include expectation of a normal rainfall, improved buoyancy in domestic growth leading to higher revenue collection through direct and indirect tax collections and government continuing with subsidy rationalization. However, it was also pointed out that it would be important to realize the non-tax revenue target for achieving the targeted fiscal deficit to GDP ratio. Realising the targeted receipts from disinvestment and spectrum sales would be a critical factor. Furthermore, it was mentioned that the economy will have to achieve a GDP growth rate between 7% - 7.75% this fiscal year (as also projected in the Economic Survey) to be able to garner the requisite amount of revenue receipts.

It was also felt that going ahead, risk could arise from an increase in global crude oil prices and this could possibly change the projected trajectory of fiscal deficit this year. A few economists also pointed out that continuing productive capital expenditure like infrastructure will be important as that will remain a major driving factor to push the economy forward.

Further, on being asked about expectations for recovery of the banking system, majority of the economists felt that while the government and the RBI are working together to address the issues at hand, recovery will take time. It was unanimously felt that a turnaround in this fiscal year looks unlikely and an improvement in numbers would not come until next financial year. It was also mentioned that the passage of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Bill, 2015 is a very positive step to deal with the challenging issue of exiting unviable businesses. Easy exit for a business would help in speedy winding up, productive redeployment of capital and ensure greater availability of credit by freeing up of capital.

In the current round, the participating economists were asked to share their thoughts on bank consolidation. A majority of participating economists said that bank consolidation will be the way forward as it will improve capital efficiency significantly. Further, consolidation would enhance the ability of banks to recover bad loans.

A majority of the economists said that we can move forward on the path of consolidation only when the banks balance sheets are cleaned. It would be imperative to ensure that issues related to asset quality of banks and capital shortfalls are addressed. It is essential to empower banks by allowing them greater operational flexibility. Most of the participating economists felt that overhauling the banking industry through consolidation is one of the most challenging tasks in hands of the Bank Board Bureau.

In addition, economists also shared their prognosis about the expected recovery in the investment cycle. A majority of the economists were of the view that investment cycle will take at least two more quarters to witness a pickup. It was further opined that an uptick is likely post monsoons as good monsoons will give an impetus to rural demand. Also, urban demand is expected to strengthen once the pay and pension hikes are rolled out. An improvement in demand conditions would be a key driving factor for investments to gain strength. Furthermore, much would also be contingent upon greater infrastructure spending by the government. The interest rate scenario was deemed positive by the respondents for a pick-up in credit growth.

In the Union Budget 2016-17, the Honble Finance Minister announced that the government will reorient its interventions in the agriculture sector to double the income of farmers by 2022. This is an ambitious target; nonetheless an important one given that a majority of our population is still dependent on agriculture. In the current survey, the respondents were asked to indicate the way forward to achieve this target.

The participating economists unanimously felt that first and foremost the basics have to be in place. For instance, setting up proper irrigation facilities is definitely a prerequisite. Along with this, encouraging water harvesting, promoting crop insurance schemes with greater vigour and creating a unified agricultural market that would ensure appropriate price for the agricultural produce by eliminating middlemen, will be most critical.

Economists were of the opinion that a structural change in the sector is required to invigorate the sectors growth potential. It was recommended that research and development in agriculture sector should be encouraged along with strengthening of extension services at the ground level to make the farmers aware of the available technology and its usage.

It was also proposed that greater investments are needed towards building necessary rural infrastructure (such as warehouses, roads) and rural supply chain infrastructure. This will not only lead to seamless movement of agricultural commodities across the country but will also be the key to generate greater income for farmers. Besides ensuring higher public spending on rural infrastructure, economists believed that increasing expenditure on NREGA will also help increasing farmer incomes especially during distress in the agriculture sector.

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Moodys: Most Asia Pacific banks have buffers against commodity risks
May 30,2016

Moodys Investors Service says that banks in Asia Pacific (ex-Japan) show moderate loan exposure to borrowers in commodity-related industries, with such loans making up around 7% of gross loans on average at end-2015.

However, the quality of such loans will likely continue to deteriorate, based on Moodys assessment that energy and commodity prices will remain low over a prolonged period.

In Asia Pacific (ex-Japan), the riskiest exposure for banks in terms of energy and other commodity loans originate from metals and mining, as well as from certain parts of the oil and gas sector, including services, offshore marine and shipping and shipbuilders, says Eugene Tarzimanov, a Moodys Vice President and Senior Credit Officer.

In general, we do not expect negative bank rating actions related to commodity exposures, because banks in Asia Pacific have either good financial buffers, moderate commodity exposures, or ratings that already capture asset quality weakness, adds Tarzimanov.

The report says that based on Moodys expectation that commodity prices will stay low for a prolonged period, corporate earnings will be negatively affected; thereby weakening the debt repayment capacity of many commodity firms, and creating pressure on or delaying the recovery of asset quality and profitability for the banks in Asia Pacific.

Moodys notes that the pressure on the quality of commodity-related loans could lead to possible negative bank rating actions in Singapore, Korea and Mongolia over the next 12-18 months, as reflected in Moodys negative outlooks on many banks in these economies.

Moodys report says that for oil & gas and related industries such as shipping and ship and rig building, banks in Singapore and Korea are more exposed when compared with other banks in Asia Pacific. In Singapore and Korea, the exposure is around 5% of gross loans.

As for the metals & mining sector, banks most exposed to these sectors are in Mongolia (10% of gross loans), India (7%, including steel), Indonesia (around 5%) and China (around 4%). The global metals & mining sector has been under stress for many years and some Asia Pacific banks demonstrate large legacy problem loans in this industry.

On the issue of agriculture-related exposures, Moodys does not expect a material weakening in the banks asset quality, because global agriculture prices have shown better performance relative to energy and metals prices. Moodys points out that banks most exposed to agriculture are in New Zealand (14% of gross loans), India (13%), and Thailand (around 6%).

Moodys report says that overall, banks in Asia Pacific demonstrate good buffers against rising credit risks, despite the likely continued pressure on the quality of their commodity portfolios. Such buffers include their generally low problem loan ratios and a problem loan coverage above 80% for more than half of Asia Pacific banking systems. Banks in Asia Pacificn++except for banks in Vietnam and public-sector banks in Indian++also show good capital buffers and profitability, providing a good line of defense against rising problem loans.

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Fare Fixation Committee for Delhi Metro notified ; to submit report in 3 months
May 30,2016

Ministry of Urban Development has notified the Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) for recommending the passenger fares for Delhi Metro network in Delhi and its extension to National Capital Region.

Set up under Sections 33 and 34 of the Metro Railway (Operations and Maintenance) Act, 2002, the Committee has been given three month time from the date of assumption of charge by the Chairperson of the Committee Shri Justice M.L.Mehta, retired Judge of the High Court of Delhi, for submission of its report and recommendations to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

The other members of the fourth FFC are Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Urban Development (Shri Durga Shanker Mishra) and Shri K.K.Sharma, Chief Secretary, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The last Fare Fixation Committee submitted their recommendations on metro fares in 2009.

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117 Villages Electrified last week
May 30,2016

117 villages have been electrified across the country during last week (from 23rd to 29th May 2016) under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY). Out of these electrified villages, 18 villages belong to Arunachal Pradesh , 26 in Assam, 23 in Jharkhand, 1 in Rajasthan, 6 in Madhya Pradesh , 3 in Uttar Pradesh , 5 in Bihar, 2 in Chhattisgarh, 11 in Odisha and 22 in Meghalaya .

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Centre asks States to prevent diversion of 14th Finance Commission Grants meant for Urban Local Bodies
May 30,2016

Central Government has asked the States to prevent diversion and misuse of 14th Finance Commission (FFC) Grants meant for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and ensure their utilization only for improving delivery of basic urban services like sanitation, water supply, solid and liquid waste management, storm water drains, maintenance of community assets, roads and footpaths, street lighting and burial and cremation grounds.

Following a review of utilization of FFC grants by Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, the Ministry has issued guidelines in the matter for strict compliance by the States.

Shri Rajiv Gauba, Secretary (Urban Development), in his communication to the States/UTs has sought utilization reports in respect of FFC grants for the year 2015-16 by the end of next month. Shri Gauba has also urged the States/UTs to prepare annual plans for city-level utilization of FFC grants linked to improving basic urban infrastructure till 2019-20.

Asking the States/UTs to ensure transfer of FFC grants to the ULBs within 15 days of receipt of the same from the Central Government, Shri Gauba said that Bank rate of interest shall be paid for any delays and the same shall be reflected in the utilization reports to be sent to the Ministry of Urban Development.

In a threefold increase over that of the 13th Finance Commission, the 14th Finance Commission awarded total grants of Rs.87,144 cr to Urban Local Bodies as Basic Grant (80%) and Performance Grant (20%). While Basic Grant is given to all States/UTs, release of Performance Grant is linked to ULBs ensuring audit of accounts for the previous two years, increase in revenues over the previous year and notification of Service Level Improvement Plans in respect of basic services.

States/UTs have been advised to use FFC grants to provide additional assistance to eligible beneficiaries over that of Central and State governments assistance wherever required under Swachh Bharat Mission, towards ULB share for projects for water supply and solid and liquid waste management and for Operation & Maintenance of infrastructure assets in urban areas.

States/UTs have also been asked to ensure effective monitoring of utilization of FFC grants at the level of Chief Secretaries besides concurrent evaluation by third party.

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Moratorium from CEPI area of Chandrapur lifted
May 30,2016

The Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change vide Office Memorandum dated 20 May 2016 has lifted moratorium under the Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) in respect of the industrial cluster/area of Chandrapur (MIDC Chandrapur, Tadali, Ghuggus, Ballapur), Maharashtra. This will enable new investments in the region, which was stalled for last more than 5 years.

The Ministry had imposed moratorium in 43 CEPI areas on 13.01.2010.

The CPCB conducted monitoring in Critically Polluted Areas (CPA) of Chandrapur, Maharashtra during February - March, 2016 and re-assessed the CEPI score. The CPCB, vide its communication, dated April 18, 2016 informed MoEFCC about the revised CEPI score based on the monitoring conducted during February-March 2016.

The evaluation of the CEPI score in the Chandrapur (Maharashtra) is 54.42, as compared to the CEPI score assessed by CPCB in 2013 (81.90). It has also been intimated that the action plan formulated for Chandrapur is at various stages of implementation.

In view of the re-assessment of CEPI score and taking into consideration that action plans for improving environment quality take time to yield results, it has been decided to lift the moratorium on the consideration of projects for environmental clearance in respect of projects to be located in Chandrapur (Maharashtra), where CEPI score is below 70 as compared to the CEPI score of 2013 (81.93), subject to the following conditions:

n++CPCB and the SPCB will immediately put the approved action plan on their website along with implementation status.

n++The SPCB to ensure that any new project/activity or any expansion or modernization of existing project or activity or any change in product mix is in line with the overall approved action plan of the CPA.

n++The implementation of action plan of CPA to be reviewed by the Chairman, SPCB on quarterly basis and report sent to CPCB by the 7th day of the month succeeding the end of quarter. It would be ensured that there is no slippage either in terms of time frame or the activities to be completed relating to the action plan.

n++Monitoring in CPA be got done by SPCB through a third party on annual basis for computing CEPI. The monitoring be done during December-February and the report sent to CPCB by April. CPCB, in turn, to submit its report to MoEFCC.

n++Monitoring in CPA be got done by CPCB through a third party on biennial basis for computing CEPI and report submitted to MoEF for taking an appropriate view.

n++The EAC/SEAC will take extra precaution during appraisal of projects to be located in these areas and prescribe the requisite stringent safeguard measures, so that the environmental quality is not deteriorated further in the CPA.

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Policy interventions by the Government bring cane arrears down remarkably
May 28,2016

Indian Sugar industry was deregulated in 2013. Only regulation which remains is called the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP); which the Government notifies essentially to protect farmers incomes. Presently, the FRP is Rs. 230 per quintal of cane at a base sugar recovery of 9.5%. It is mandated that farmers be remunerated in accordance with FRP and sugar recoveries, within a period of 14 days failing which interest is payable by the mills. In a year, typically, the cane price payable to farmers is in the range of Rs.60, 000 cr to 65,000 cr.

In 2014, when the NDA government took over, the Sugar Industry was facing severe crisis of arrears of cane payments. Over the past two year, the policy interventions by the Government have shown remarkable progress in reducing arrears. Starting with a legacy of arrears of Rs.14,000 cr pertaining to many years, and a severe liquidity stress in the sector, the policy interventions have borne results. The cane arrears relating to the preceding year (Sugar season 14-15) has reduced to about Rs.780 cr. Out of this UP accounts for just Rs 191 Cr.

For the current year (Sugar season 15-16) the arrears are only about Rs.9361 cr compared to arrears of Rs.22,000 cr last year. Out of this UP accounts for Rs. 2855 cr. The State of UP has allowed a two stage payment of FRP. Till end June, mills are expected to pay cane dues based on FRP (Rs.230/qtl), according to which arrears are presently Rs.2,855 cr. However, July onwards the mills will have to pay dues based on State Advised Prices (Rs.280/qtl) on the basis of which the dues come to Rs.5,795 cr.

A new policy was designed by the Central Govt. to address this extra-ordinary situation. In the first step, a soft loan was notified with a one year moratorium on interest payments. Unlike in the past, provisions for direct payment to farmers were made even though mills undertook the loan sand Rs.4305 cr was disbursed in 2015-16 by the Banks towards payment of cane dues. This provided a direct relief to farmers which reduced cane dues arrears and also provided support to the sugar industry in terms of liquidity to settle their arrear commitments.

Secondly, the Central Governmentalso introduced a modified Ethanol Blending Program(EBP) to achieve up to 10% blending levels with Motor Spirit. Remunerative prices of ethanol were fixed in an administered price regime, to help sugar industry come out of a crisis, so as to pay its cane arrears to farmers. Central Excise duties were waived for the current year increasing the ex-mill realization on ethanol to about Rs.48/liter. EBP also had several other benefits such as reducing environmental pollution and saving foreign exchange as also serve as a vent for excess sugar production, thereby, preventing excessive stock build up. The results have been quite dramatic, with suppliesdoubling every year. In the year 2013-14, ethanol supplied for blending was only 38crL. In 2014-15, under the modified EBP supplies increased to 67crL.In the current year i.e. 2015-16 it is expected to reach 130 crL achieving 5% blending. The Central Government through EBP has injected substantial liquidity to help the sugar industry reduce cane dues arrears. In a significant departure from previous years, the Central Government also prepared a national supply grid indicating the linkages of mills and OMC fueldepots alongwith quantities to be supplied. In SS 2014-15 imports of about 4.2 million million barrels of crude was saved through blending resulting in foreign exchange saving of USD 286 million. In this SS, it is likely to be higher. It is also estimated that in SS 2014-15, there has been a net reduction of CO2 emissions to the extent of 12.3 LMT.

Lastly a comprehensive performance based production subsidy was notified at a rate of Rs. 4.50 per quintal of cane crushed, payable to farmers against cane dues contingent on mills undertaking exports and supplying ethanol. Minimum indicative export targets were notified with a view to evacuating stocks to improve capacity to make payments to farmers.

In the sugar sector, the Central Governments policy initiatives, aimed to improve sugar industry performance by optimizing gains from by-products (ethanol & cogen) as well as reduction of excessive domestic stocks (by export) helped the sector bounce back. The direct payment of industry loans into farmers account is a best practice in the DBT format, where cane arrears were directly reduced by a whopping Rs.4305 cr. which otherwise mills may have been diverted or delayed in giving to farmers.

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NDA Has Set Strong Foundation for Growth : Naushad Forbes
May 28,2016

n++The scale and content of economic reforms from the Government in the past two years has been very healthy. Industry believes that the range of policy actions across various economic dimensions sets a very strong foundation for future growth,n++ said Dr Naushad Forbes, President, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), commenting on completion of two years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government at the Centre.

Identifying major policy measures in the areas of taxation, ease of doing business, public-private partnerships, and financial sector, among others, Dr Forbes emphasized that the Government has taken a series of steps that together add up to a renewed business environment. n++With demand conditions picking up on a normal monsoon, investment will turn up in the coming 6-9 months, kickstarting a new growth cycle,n++ he added.

n++Targeted and comprehensive interventions in infrastructure with faster clearances have got delayed projects moving, particularly in the road sector,n++ said Dr Forbes. He commented that lead sectors such as cement, steel and power are firming up, indicating pick-up in construction activity. Besides, campaigns such as Make in India, Smart Cities, Clean Energy, Namami Gange and others add to infrastructure creation.

The CII President highlighted the Governments initiatives in social security through empowerment and new opportunities. n++We commend the Government for rolling out direct benefits transfer which reaches subsidies to the needy sections of society, prevents leakages and provides for substantial savings in spending,n++ he stated. The success of large-scale social sector schemes such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Skill India, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, and Ujjwala Yojana will promote inclusive growth, he felt.

Rural India will benefit from emphasis on irrigation and infrastructure connectivity, added Dr Forbes. Besides, integration of agricultural markets, soil health cards and rural housing program will add to rural prosperity and demand.

Simplification and predictability in tax administration and reforms in the financial sector are comprehensive and well-directed, said CII. The introduction of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, Real Estate and Infrastructure Investment Trusts, and measures to curb NPAs and strengthen banks has added to investor comfort, pointed out President, CII. The Government has also taken commendable action for tax dispute resolution.

CII called on the Government to continue on the path of quick and forceful reforms. n++We are optimistic that Government would be able to get the GST Bill passed in the coming monsoon session, paving the way for its introduction in April 2017,n++ said Dr Forbes, referring to the Goods and Services Tax. n++Rapid implementation of various key measures announced already and spread of reforms to the state level are key to economic success going forward,n++ he concluded.

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FSSAI assigned with task to come up with standards for fortification of food grains: Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Ministry
May 28,2016

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution together with Union Ministry of Health and various other ministries have assigned the mandate to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to come up with standards for fortification of food grains such as wheat flour, rice which will add to the nutrient value of food intake, a top government official said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++The government has urged the industry to participate in recently floated tender process for construction of steel silos with capacity of 1.3 million tonnes (MT) of wheat storage,n++ said Mr Subhasish Panda, joint secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM summit on Food grains storage in India: Technology option for upgradation.

n++There has been great success in floating tenders and also entering into agreements with private sector for construction of steel silos for storage of wheat, only day before yesterday we have floated a capacity of 1.3 MT and couple of months ago another 0.25 MT were floated and the industry has readily accepted the challenge of going in with the PPP mode and working on it and the process is on to start implementing them,n++ said Mr Panda.

n++Steel silos is an accepted technology for wheat storage and there is nothing mischievous about it any longer,n++ he added.

n++We are now looking not in terms of creating more space but more of upgrading our existing spaces so that we demolish our traditional godowns, wherever there has been a godown in an end of life situation and come up with steel silos,n++ further said Mr Panda.

Talking about the issues regarding bulk storage of rice, he said n++We are a bit stumped and flummoxed as to what should be the technology which can be adopted for storage and transportation of rice in bulk, the industries into the food products know that they cannot build big silos for rice storage as of now as there is a lot of temperature control to be done and long storage is not possible as rice tends to break/crumble under its own weight if you keep them for a fairly long period.n++

He said that the government is trying to address every aspect of food supply chain, particularly issues related to food grains thereby looking at how they are stored, transported to states and from there to the fair price shops that distribute it to the beneficiaries.

n++We are looking at efficiencies and trying to bring in technology at these locations that are specific to transportation from the FCI (Food Corporation of India) godowns to the state governments and fair price shops,n++ said Mr Panda.

n++Further down the chain we are looking at automating the operations of fair price shops so that a beneficiary is targeted and a genuine person who is supposed to get benefit of subsidised food grain is entitled to it and is ensured that it is he/she gets it and not anybody else,n++ he added.

Mr Panda also informed that government has more than 80 million metric tonnes (MMT) of storage in partnership with states and at any point of time there is a peak of 60 MMT of food grains that are stored in the capacity all over the country.

n++We are working on different components of the entire food chain i.e. at the field, farmer, procurement of food grains as that is one of our critical activity throughout the year, state governments are our partners in helping us during that procurement so that we can build up a buffer stock and have a central pool of stocks from which we can address our food security issues,n++ he said.

n++At the field level we are looking at procurement, we are looking at adopting information technology as a means of providing convenience to farmers, centralising database of the amount of procurement taking place, facilitation of payments to be made to the farmers so that they are encouraged to go in for higher production in the next year,n++ added Mr Panda.

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Lakshadweep signs 24x7 Power for All document
May 28,2016

Lakshadweep became first Union Territory (UT) to sign n++24x7 Power for Alln++ document. Representative of Government of India and the Administration of Lakshadweep signed the document in presence of Shri P.K. Pujari, Secretary, Ministry of Power.

The document chalks out a plan to increase solar capacity of the region from 2.15 MW to 8.45 MW. At present, 10 inhabited islands of Lakshadweep are being fed by diesel mostly. The plan also envisions reduction of AT & C losses from current level of 21% to 6.7% till 2019 by increasing the collection efficiency up to 99 %.

As a part of energy efficiency measures, 1 lakh LED bulbs will be distributed by UT administration through Energy Efficiency Services (EESL) and Incandescent lamps/CFL bulbs will be replaced with LED bulbs under UJALA programme. Additionally, replacement of 3000 conventional street lights with LED street lights is also being taken up.

The Government of India is committed to improve the quality of life of its citizens through higher electricity consumption. Our aim is to provide each household access to electricity, 24x7 Power supply by 2019.

The Power for All programme is a major step in this direction. Government of India have taken a joint initiative with respective State Governments for preparation of State specific documents for providing 24x7 power supply to all households /homes, industrial & commercial consumers and adequate supply of power to Agricultural consumers as per state policy.

As on date, because of the joint efforts of State Governments and Government of India, 22 States have already signed the 24x7 Power For All Documents. Implementation of the plan envisaged in the document is under progress, which is being jointly monitored by the State and the Central Government. Successful implementation of these plans will ensure reliable and affordable power round the clock to all the consumers.

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Petroleum Minister Launches Website of IIPE Visakhapatnam
May 28,2016

The Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum & Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan launched the website of Indian Institute of Petroleum & Energy (IIPE), Visakhapatnam (www.iipe.ac.in).

As per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, Government of India had agreed to establish institutions of national importance in Andhra Pradesh, one of them being a Petroleum University. In pursuance of this, Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy is being set up at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The institute will primarily focus on teaching and research in petroleum and energy. IIT Kharagpur will be the mentor institute for the establishment of IIPE.

Government of Andhra Pradesh has allotted 150 acres of land free of cost in Visakhapatnam district for setting up the permanent campus of IIPE and has facilitated the provision of a temporary campus in the Engineering College, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam.

IIPE will commence its academic programmes from the Academic Year 2016-17 at its temporary campus by offering undergraduate programmes in Petroleum Engineering and Chemical Engineering. Admission to these programmes will be on the basis of scores in JEE (Advanced) 2016-17.

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Portal launched to promote Net Zero Energy Buildings
May 28,2016

Ministry of Power and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched Indias first integrated web portal designed to promote and mainstream Net Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) in India. The portal (www.nzeb.in) was launched by Shri Pradeep Kumar Pujari, Secretary, Ministry of Power, and Ambassador Mr Jonathan Addleton, USAID Mission Director to India.

A first of its kind, the portal provides complete information about Net Zero Energy Buildings - those that generate as much energy as they use - as well as how to achieve near-zero energy status through the use of efficient lighting and equipment, integration of renewable energy technologies, and best practice design strategies. In addition, the portal hosts the NZEB Alliance, an industry-wide body setup to drive the Indian markets toward highly energy-efficient buildings.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri P.K. Pujari outlined his vision to mainstream Net Zero Energy Buildings in India and said, n++While it is important to implement minimum energy performance standards for buildings to reduce energy consumption, we should now start looking at the broader NZEB goal.n++ Shri Pujari urged to mandate the ECBC codes in the remaining states. He also acknowledged the collaboration of the USAID and BEE in the update process of the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) to reflect the market changes and technological advancement

Congratulating the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and USAID on the culmination of their three-year effort to develop the portal, Ambassador Mr Addleton remarked that n++USAID is pleased to partner with the Government of India on this initiative to promote Net Zero Energy Buildings across India. This portal will provide a wealth of information for policymakers, developers, architects, engineers, sustainability consultants, and academia, and will surely allow the vibrant Indian building industry to leapfrog towards energy efficiency standards and practices.n++

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Mission 11 Million to engage more than 11 million children in activities relating to Football to be launched in October, 2016
May 27,2016

The Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has urged the states and Union Territories to take necessary steps to popularize and promote the sport of Football in their territory in order to make the FIFA U-17 World Cup a huge success, by including Football in various programmes of the State Governments. In a letter sent to all Chief Secretaries of states and Union Territories, the Secretary, Department of Sports Shri Rajiv Yadav has said that FIFA U-17 World Cup is going to be held in India in October, 2017 and it is the first time that this prestigious tournament will be held in India.

Referring to Prime Ministers Mann ki Baat programme on 27th March, 2016, the letter said that the Prime Minister has called for building an atmosphere and fervor of Football in the country as a run up to the FIFA U-17 World Cup. He wants Football to be played in every nook and corner of the country.

The communication further said that following the call of the Prime Minister, the Department of Sports has initiated a series of steps to popularize Football throughout the country. Several rounds of discussion have been held with FIFA, AIFF, KVS, CBSE, Subroto Mukerjee Sports Education Society and other stake-holders to firm up appropriate programmes. As a result, Mission 11 Million programme has been formulated and will be launched in coordination with FIFA in about 30 cities across the country. The letter said, the primary objective of the programme is to engage more than 11 million children in activities relating to Football. It said, the programme is likely to be launched in October, 2016.

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Unique Disability Identity Card will be soon made Available - Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot
May 27,2016

Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment felicitated the beneficiaries of its various schemes. Speaking on the occasion after felicitating the beneficiaries Shri Gehlot said that it is the right of every individual to lead a dignified life and the present government in the past two years has strived hard to make this possible for persons with disabilities (PwDs). Informing the gathering about the various schemes of the Department, the Union minister said that a Unique Disability Identity Card to be valid across the country, will soon be made available to PwDs. Adding further, he said that the current government has brought in transparency in the distribution by using the mode of Direct Benefits Transfer. Reiterating the Departments commitment towards empowering the persons with disabilities he pledged that Department will try to provide all necessary facilities to the sector. The Union Minister also met the beneficiaries on the dais and shared their life-changing experience after being provided with Assistive Devices by the Department . It was a heart-warming sight for the members of the audience to see Children, under the age of 5, fitted with Cochlear Implants and recently showing signs of speech, interacting with the Minister. He saluted the indomitable spirit of the beneficiaries and congratulated them for being able partners in bringing in the change in the mindset of the society towards persons with disabilities.

Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar said that Persons with Disabilities have carved a niche for themselves in the society and are climbing ladders of success overcoming all kinds of barriers. He said that the current government has emphasized on modernization of assistive aids and equipments by signing MoUs with Ottobock (Germany) and Motivation (UK). This transfer of technology under Make in India Programme will help the Department further reach out to Persons with Disabilities. He also informed the audience that the department has so far conducted more than 115 Mega Camps in this two-year period.

Secretary DEPwD, Dr Vinod Aggarwal said that the Department through National Institutes like NIVH, NIMH, NIOH and its CRCs; National Trust; National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation (NHFDC); PDUIPH; runs many Schemes and programmes for empowering the Persons with Disabilities. He said that the Department has so far approved 140 hospitals for Cochlear Implant Procedure which have successfully conducted 359 implants. He also informed that the Department has for the first time ever has issued guidelines for the certification of Autism through INCLEN diagnostic tools.

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