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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 (

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 ( 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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Storage status of 91 major reservoirs of the country was 26.816 BCM as on May 26, 2016
May 27,2016

The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on May 26, 2016 was 26.816 BCM which is 17% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This was 55% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 79% of storage of average of last ten years.

The total storage capacity of these 91 reservoirs is 157.799 BCM which is about 62% of the total storage capacity of 253.388 BCM which is estimated to have been created in the country. 37 Reservoirs out of these 91 have hydropower benefit with installed capacity of more than 60 MW.



The northern region includes States of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. There are 6 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 18.01 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 3.91 BCM which is 22% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 43% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 29% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the corresponding period of last year and is also less than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.


The Eastern region includes States of Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Tripura. There are 15 reservoirs under Central Water Commission (CWC) monitoring having total live storage capacity of 18.83 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 4.22 BCM which is 22% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 34% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 20% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the corresponding period of last year and is better than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.


The Western region includes States of Gujarat and Maharashtra. There are 27 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 27.07 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 3.90 BCM which is 14% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 26% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 26% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the storage of last year and is also less than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.


The Central region includes States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. There are 12 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 42.30 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 9.59 BCM which is 23% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 33% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 18% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the storage of last year but is better than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.


The Southern region includes States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states) Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. There are 31 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 51.59 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 5.21 BCM which is 10% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 27% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 20% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the corresponding period of last year and is also less than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

States having better storage than last year for corresponding period are Tripura, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. States having lesser storage than last year for corresponding period are Himachal Pradesh, AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states), Punjab, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

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Great Potential for Economic and Commercial Cooperation between India and China: President of India
May 27,2016

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee said India believes that there is great potential for economic and commercial cooperation between India and China, which face similar opportunities and challenges. According to the President, the stability of the bilateral relationship between the two countries in recent years provides an enabling basis for utilizing these opportunities and coming together.

According to the President of India, to realize the full potential of our economic partnership, it was important to bridge the information gap between our business communities. India was committed to providing a conducive environment for more investments from China and stood ready to facilitate many more collaborations between the industry and businesses of our two countries across different sectors. India invites investors from China to be partners in Indias growth story.

The President said India is a young nation. Our primary goal is to build a modern economy that puts a premium on sustainable development. We are steadily moving towards this objective and a profound socio-economic transformation is taking place in our country. Chinas economic achievements are a source of inspiration for us. We believe that stepping up our two way trade and investment flows will be of mutual benefit to both our nations. We welcome Chinese investments and entrepreneurs to participate in Make in India and other flagship initiatives of Government of India. India will facilitate efforts of Chinese investors to make their investments in India profitable. We must take advantage of the opportunities that abound in the growth of both our economies.

Dr. Naushad Forbes, President, CII stated that Indian industry warmly welcomes Chinese investments and participation in the Indian economy and we hope to likewise extend our cooperation in the Chinese economy. He envisaged huge opportunities for Chinese participation in Indias ambitious program for infrastructure construction in power, railways, roads and highways and urban development. Chinese companies have demonstrated high technical and engineering capabilities in project management and can deliver excellent outcomes in India.

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Agriculture Minister exhorts corporate sector to add value to maize produce Sees big role for FICCI in setting up corn-based industry in PPP mode
May 27,2016

Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, exhorted the corporate sector to step in and add value to the maize produce to enhance farm incomes and reap sustainable dividends for itself.

Inaugurating the India Maize Summit, 2016, organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX), Mr. Singh said in spite of 12% below average rainfall in 2014-15, the worst ever drought in last five years, maize production stood at 24.17 million tonnes. Maize production declined by just 0.37% as compared to 4.9% reduction in total food grain production. This signifies the resilience of the maize system against climatic variability.

Maize is primarily used for feed (64%) followed by human food (16%), industrial starch and beverage (19%) and seed (1%). Thus, maize has attained an important position as industrial crop because 83% of its produce is used in starch and feed industries.

The Minister said that in view of the increasing demand of specialty corn (baby corn, sweet corn), FICCI can play an important role in further strengthening the public-private partnership by encouraging the establishment of corn-based industry.

He said maize is a very suitable crop for supply of green fodder to dairy industry. The cultivars of baby corn are most suitable for the development of stage. FICCI, he said, could take initiative for the promotion of silage industry in various states of the country.

Mr. Singh said that in order to explore high uses of maize, the maize based industry need to be promoted in a big way. Special incentives need to be given for the cultivation of specialty corn like, baby corn, popcorn, sweet corn, multigrain flour etc. The QPM (Quality Protein Maize) provides nutrient security to even remote areas and special efforts/programmes are needed to give emphasis to QPM in the country and special incentives to be provided to private sector so that they may provide improved seed to remote areas like north eastern region.

In his special address, Mr. Ashok M.R. Dalwai, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, said that there was a need for a demand-driven approach to increase crop productivity and move from low value crop to high value crop. He added that adopting single-hybrid crops could immensely benefit the sector.

Mr. Dalwai said that Indian diet lacks nutritional value and maize could be a great supplement. He suggested that emphasis should be laid on producing Quality Protein Maize and aadded that industry should work towards value addition to maize as it was a versatile crop with varied uses. Crop geometry should be adopted keeping farmers interest in mind to match global standards.

Mr. Sarat Mulukutla, Chief Commercial Segment, NCDEX, said that it was important to build market linkages and give the farmer a choice of markets. Encouraging farmer participation in regulated markets was one such way. NCDEX undertakes extensive training and capacity building programs for various Farmer Producer Companies, Resource organisations and NGOs, across the country to educate and build marketing skills amongst farmers.

He said that the technology platform created by NCDEX has enabled integration of markets across geographies and ensured wider participation. There has been a significant improvement in the warehousing infrastructure in the country, empowering maize farmers with waiting power, which leads to better price realization.

Dr. A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, said that there was a need to enhance the productivity of maize while increasing the income of the framers. The state governments along with various stakeholders were making a conscious effort towards this end. He added that the government was cognizant of the needs of the maize sector and the Maize Summit was an effort to bring to fore the global and domestic scenario of maize and issues confronting the maize supply chain.

According to the knowledge paper, India is traditionally a major exporter of maize to Southeast Asia but the fall in its production from record 24.26 million tonnes in 2013-14 to 21 million tonnes in 2015-16 has forced India to ban its export and prepare to import corn for the first time in 16 years to help ensure its availability in the domestic market. To combat this situation, emphasis should be on increased yield per unit area and augmented productivity levels to help buffer production against acreage fluctuations and vagaries of weather.

Driven by structural changes in agriculture and food consumption patterns, maize is bound to hold its share as an important cereal crop in future. Besides its export potential and diversified uses, maize cultivation offers solutions for sustainable intensification of agriculture. By cultivating maize, farmers can protect the worsening quality of soil, save 90 per cent of water and 70 per cent of power as compared to paddy and earn far more than they are earning through paddy and wheat.

Domestic utilization of maize in India is high and net surplus available for exports is less. Stock to consumption ratio in India is low. Production fluctuation, largely because of rainfed cultivation of the crop in large pockets, has not encouraged steady exports from the country. India exports maize in small quantities to South East Asia, Bangladesh and Nepal. Major importers of maize, e.g. the EU, Japan, Mexico and South Korea depend on the USA, Brazil, Argentina and Ukraine for supply. Ukraine and Argentina are the emerging players in maize trade with impressive growth rates in productivity and production.

The paper states that while area under maize will fluctuate as a resultant of demand, policies and agro climatic conditions, emphasis should be on increased yield per unit area. Increase productivity can help buffer production against acreage fluctuations and vagaries of weather. While several potential HYVs and hybrids have been released, awareness and adoption is a challenge. Seed replacement ratio for maize in India is 60-65%, though it is much higher for hybrids. Promoting cultivars apposite to different end uses and agro climatic conditions is another challenge.

Post-harvest processes in India are not scientific and conventional methods of storage and handling influence quality and price realized by farmers. High moisture content in stored grains affects the market value of grains. Initiatives to set up maize drying units, e.g. in Punjab, is a laudable effort in post-harvest management. Maize value chain in India can thus be strengthened with adoption of appropriate cultivars, scientific crop management and improved postharvest handling, the knowledge paper notes.

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Report Mapping the CSR trends in Water Sanitation and Hygiene in India
May 27,2016

The India Sanitation Coalition (ISC) and Samhita Social Ventures, a partner of the ISC, announces the launch of a report mapping the CSR trends in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) of the 100 companies with the largest CSR budgets on the BSE 500.

The report highlights major trends, gaps and potential solutions for companies who are implementing sanitation programs in line with the Swachh Bharat Mission.

n++The Swachh Bharat Mission has catalysed the conversation around sanitation, right from the streets to the boardrooms of corporate India. However, despite substantial support from the corporate sector, the road ahead remains challenging. We need to recognise that tackling this issue is as much about changing ingrained behaviour and social norms as it is about infrastructure.n++ - Naina Lal Kidwai, Chair, India Sanitation Coalition and Past President, FICCI

Here are highlights from the report:

90% of companies have at least one CSR program in WASH

While the report shows that most companies are focused on constructing toilets, several companies are engaging across the value chain of sanitation that includes Build, Use, Maintain and Treat (BUMT)

Several companies reported implementing O&M programs including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), NTPC, Coal India, NMDC, Hindustan Zinc, Rural Electrification Corporation, GAIL India, Punjab National Bank, Cipla, Bosch Petronet LNG, Bajaj Finance and Titan Industries. More than the 15% of companies reported, increased corporate intervention in this area could make a huge difference

Companies such as ITC, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), Titan Industries, Jindal Steel and Power and Hindustan Zinc reported behaviour change programs. It was found that FMCG companies were more likely to focus on behaviour change. In addition to the 20% of companies that reported investing in aspects such as behaviour change or encouraging community participation in WASH, there is a huge potential for more companies to get engaged in this area

Leading the group in terms of contribution to the Swachh Bharat Kosh was companies like Larsen & Toubro (L&T), BHEL, the Bajaj Group (Bajaj Auto and Bajaj Finance), Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and IDBI.

Industries with a strategic interest, like Heavy Engineering & Manufacturing and FMCG companies were more likely to support WASH programs than other industries

CSR in WASH is concentrated in rural areas. More focus on urban WASH is also required

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FICCI welcomes the steps taken by US legislators towards elevating Indias status as a defense partner
May 27,2016

FICCI welcomes the bipartisan support to the initiative taken by Representative George Holding (R-NC) to institutionalize the Indo-US defense relationship through an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed by the House on May 18.

This amendment recognizes Indias status as a trusted defense partner of the United States and calls for a dedicated official in the executive branch and an official in the Department of Defense to focus on Indo-US defense cooperation, including the transfer of advanced defense technology.

Dr. A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI said n++This elevated status will not only fast track congressional approval of licenses but also give access to state of the art technologies of today, that would kick start coproduction and co-development activities thereby realising the objectives of both n++Make in Indian++ and DTTIn++.

n++Over the years, FICCI has been engaging with all the stakeholders through Track II diplomacy and outreach initiatives to boost high-technology traden++, Dr. Singh added.

FICCI is hopeful that these encouraging steps by US legislators towards elevating Indias status as a defense partner to a level equiva

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Ensure Indian firms not subjected to double taxation; ASSOCHAM to CBDT
May 27,2016

In the backdrop of the government fine-tuning tax regime with the countries which have the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with India, the ASSOCHAM has made a presentation to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) suggesting changes in the proposed Foreign Tax Credit rules to ensure the Indian tax payer is subjected to double tax incidence on income.

The chamber has said difference in accounting practices followed by different countries would lead to a double taxation on the income of an Indian taxpayer. A high level delegation led by Chairman of the ASSOCHAM National Council on Direct Taxes Mr Rajesh Garg, recently called on the CBDT Member Mrs Rani Singh Nair and had detailed discussion on the issue threadbare. A committee was set up by CBDT to suggest the methodology for grant of Foreign Tax Credit (FTC). The committee has since submitted its report, following which the CBDT has come out with the draft rules seeking comments of the stakeholders. As per the draft Rules, Foreign Tax Credit (FTC) is allowed to the extent of the Indian tax. Enumerating its concerns the ASSOCHAM delegation pointed out that it may be possible that in the initial years, FTC exceeds the amount of Indian taxes, whereas in the subsequent years, the Indian taxes exceed FTC.

n++In such a scenario, where, in the initial years, the foreign taxes, in excess of the Indian taxes is a dead loss to the company; if carry forward is not allowed in the subsequent years, the Company would be required to pay higher taxes,n++ it said. In addition there may be difference in accounting mechanism followed by different countries. For instance, source country may follow cash basis accounting, whereas, India follows accrual basis. Accordingly, in India, foreign income may be subject to tax in Year 1, whereas such income may be taxable in the source country in Year 4. n++In order to address this use, it is suggested that carry forward provision be introduced in the rules and the timeline for revision of the tax return of earlier years be appropriately amended for claiming FTC in the given situationsn++.

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Ministry of HRD directs UGC to amend regulations regarding workload of teachers
May 27,2016

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has reviewed the recent amendment to the UGC (Minimum Qualifications for appointment of teachers and other academic staff in universities and colleges and measures for the maintenance of standards in higher education) Regulations, 2010.

Consequent on the review, the Ministry has issued a direction to the UGC, under Section 20(1) of the UGC Act, 1956, to undertake amendments in the Regulation. After these amendments are carried out, the position regarding workload will be as follows:-

(i) In the UGC (Minimum Qualifications for appointment of teachers and other academic staff in universities and colleges and measures for the maintenance of standards in higher education) Regulations, 2010, the overall workload of Assistant Professors and Associate Professors/Professors in full employment was prescribed to be not less than 40 hours a week for 180 teaching days. This workload remains unchanged, even with the amended Regulation.

(ii) The direct teaching-learning hours to be devoted by Assistant Professors (16 hours) and Associate Professors/Professors (14 hours) too will remain unchanged, as a consequence of the direction from the MHRD and subsequent notification by the UGC.

In consonance with established academic and teaching traditions, and with a view to reinforcing a student-centric and caring approach, teachers are encouraged to work with students, beyond the structure of classroom teaching. Indicatively, this could entail mentoring, guiding and counselling students. In particular teachers would be the best placed to identify and address the needs of students who may be differently-abled, or require assistance to improve their academic performance, or to overcome a disadvantage. There are no prescribed hours for such efforts, measured either in weeks or months. While they will not be included in the calculation of the API scores, these are nevertheless important and significant activities that could be carried out by teachers.

Teachers were required to allocate 6 additional hours per week, beyond the direct teaching-learning hours, on research. These hours can now be also utilized for tutorials/remedial classes/seminars/administrative responsibilities/ innovation and updating of course contents.

There will be no increase in the workload of teachers, after the amendments, in comparison with the workload prescribed earlier.

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Moodys: Greenfield expansion in India and expected restructuring of UK operations to drive Tata Steel and TSUKHs earnings improvement in FY2017
May 27,2016

Moodys Investors Service says its ratings on Tata Steel (Tata Steel, Ba3 negative) and Tata Steel UK Holdings (TSUKH, B3 negative) remain unchanged at this point in time, despite their weak operating results for the full year ending March 2016 (FY2016).

The two companies operating results for FY2016 while weak, were in line with our revised expectations in February at the time of the ratings downgrade.

Tata Steel reported consolidated revenue of INR1,172 billion and consolidated underlying EBITDA of INR79 billion, down 16% and 39% respectively from a year ago. Although, the results for the quarter ended March 2016 (QE3/2016) showed a substantial improvement over the previous trailing quarter with consolidated revenue and EBITDA of INR295 billion and INR23 billion, an increase of 5% and 171% respectively. The improvement in the operating performance was a result of the general uptick in global steel prices in February and March, after an all-time dip in January.

We estimate consolidated adjusted leverage of 8.7x at March 2016, slightly below the peak of 9.0x at December 2015. Looking ahead into FY2017 we expect leverage to correct towards 6.5x-7.5x, says Kaustubh Chaubal, a Moodys Vice President and Senior Analyst.

Tata Steels reported gross debt of INR862 billion at March 2016 rose by only INR55 billion from March 2015 debt levels, despite capital expenditure of INR115 billion and weak operations during the year.

The proposed sale of the long products business to Greybull Capital (unrated) and the companys intention to sell its UK business are credit positive, although there is no immediate impact on our ratings or outlook, adds Chaubal, who is also the Lead Analyst for Tata Steel and TSUKH.

The divestment of the loss making operations will reduce the drag on the European business profitability which has been under strain for a while; although much is unknown about the divestment contours including debt and pension liabilities to be transferred, which in particular will drive the impact, if any, on the ratings and outlook on Tata Steel and TSUKH, continues Chaubal.

Tata Steels India (TSI) business revenues and underlying EBITDA of INR382 billion and INR74 billion were down 9% and 27% from last year. EBITDA/tonne of INR7,744 for the full year was down 33%, although for QE3/2016 was higher by INR1,563 over the previous trailing quarter and represented price increases effected in February and March.

Tata Steels European operations reported revenue of INR674 billion and underlying EBITDA loss of INR6 billion, down 16% and 115% respectively for fiscal 2016. Steel prices in Europe also remained weak with cheaper imports from China and Russia. Tata Steels European operations registered a sharp 115% drop in its EBITDA/tonne to negative INR439 in FY2016.

In our view, continuing protectionist measures are imperative especially as global steel over supply prevails, exerting pressure on prices globally.

In India, we see the extension of the safeguard duty for three years until 2019 from an initial 200 day period, the imposition of an minimum import price (MIP) on some 173 grades of steel imports (in its current form until early August 2016), and a possible antidumping duty, as a reflection of continuing support for the ailing steel sector.

In Europe, we expect the European Unions (EU) anti-dumping duties on steel imports from China and Russia to provide some support to steel prices.

Increase in TSIs production with the commissioning of 3 million tonnes per annum (3mtpa) greenfield expansion at Kalinganagar which started commercial production in May 2016, a higher proportion of value added products in its product basket, and the expected completion of the restructuring of Tata Steel Europe will drive earnings expansion for Tata Steel and TSUKH and lead the path towards leverage correction.

We will watch out for the progress on the UK business divestments; clarity on divestment of liabilities including pensions and erasing the negative EBITDA impact of the UK facilities on TSUKHs credit metrics would be critical for any change in outlook to the TSUKH ratings. Credit metrics that would support such an action include adjusted leverage trending towards 7.0x and EBIT/interest coverage of at least 1.0x on a sustained basis.

As to a change in our outlook on Tata Steel to stable, other than the improvement in its operating and credit metrics as a result of the divestment of the lossmaking UK operations, we would need to see: (1) domestic steel prices continuing on their recovery path, or, on the back of an increase in steel volumes -- Tata Steel shows a substantial improvement in profitability, with consolidated EBITDA/tonne in the INR6,000-7,000 range; and (2) the companys free cash flow turns positive on a sustained basis.

Adjusted consolidated leverage trending towards 4.5x -- 5.0x would constitute a leading indicator for a change in Tata Steels outlook to stable.

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FICCI hails India-Iran Chabahar agreement as big leap forward in bilateral ties
May 27,2016

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry has welcomed the signing of the long envisioned agreement on developing the key Chabahar port between India and Iran as a landmark development and a big leap forward in co-operation between Iran and India. Prime Minister Narendra Modis outreach to Tehran has infused vigour into the momentum to develop connectivity, infrastructure and in Indias energy security goals.

Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Irans southern coast, is of great strategic importance for India. India and Iran had in 2003 agreed to develop Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman outside the Strait of Hormuz, near Irans border with Pakistan.

The bilateral agreement to develop the Chabahar port and related infrastructure signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, underlines the extraordinary strategic opportunities that present themselves for India in the region. The signing of commercial contract for the Chabahar Phase 1 will open a route to land-locked Afghanistan and cut transport costs/time by third. The development of the port for which India will provide $500 million will help Indian companies enhance engagement in Iran and gain access to Afghanistan & Central Asia. In the long run Chahabar will also serve as the point of origin for the proposed Iran-Oman-India pipeline.

A multiplier effect rests on the possibility that other international investors may also see the rationale of this important investment, thus paving the way for creation of a strategic bulwark that facilitates greater flow of people and goods among the three countries, as well as in the region and contributes to economic growth of Afghanistan.

FICCI also sees PM Modis timely visit to Iran setting the stage for boosting trade in a big way. The 12 MoUs signed between the two countries cutting across culture, science & technology, exchange of info& knowledge and many another aspects of economic engagement, as a significant effort to build enduring partnership.

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Rs.5,534 cr investment in basic urban infra under Atal Mission approved in 6 States for 2016-17
May 27,2016

Ministry of Urban Development will convene annual meetings of all States and Union Territories to discuss and review at the highest level progress of urban renaissance set in motion. A decision taken in this regard by the Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu was today conveyed to the six States that attended the meeting of the Apex Committee convened for approving annual action plans of States under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).

Shri Rajiv Gauba, Secretary (UD), who is also the Chairman of the Inter-ministerial Apex Committee informed the participating States that Ministers of Urban Development and Housing of all States/UTs, Mayors and Municipal Chairpersons, Secretaries of Urban Development of States/UTs, Mission Directors and Municipal Commissioners of all 500 AMRUT cities will be attending the two day conference for taking stock of progress of urban sector reforms, implementation of new schemes etc., initiated during the last two years as a part of urban renaissance. The first such conference will be held in the next two months.

Shri Gauba said that henceforth, the Ministry will approve States Annual Action Plans for the entire mission period based on which annual plans could be prepared and considered for approval before the commencement of a financial year to ensure timely execution.

The six participating States informed the Committee that action is in progress for obtaining Credit Ratings for over 100 mission cities and the process would be completed before the end of this year.

The Apex Committee chaired by Shri Rajiv Gauba approved a total investment of Rs.5,534 cr for providing household water taps, improving water supply, sewerage networks/septage management, storm water drains, urban transport and provision of open and green spaces in 111 Atal Mission cities in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand and Meghalaya. A total Central Assistance of Rs.2,453 cr will be given to these States.

Under first approvals under AMRUT during the current financial year, Rs.2,126 cr will be spent on providing water supply connections to unconnected households and augmenting water supply, Rs.2,848 cr on expanding sewerage networks, Rs.140 cr on storm water drains, Rs.190 cr on urban transport and Rs.101 cr for improving open and green spaces in 111 mission cities in the six States.

For 2016-17, approved investment in 34 mission cities of Madha Pradesh has been Rs.2,074 cr with Central assistance of Rs.862.80 cr, for 31 cities of Gujarat-Rs.1,401 cr with Central assistance of Rs.599.18 cr, for 29 cities of Rajasthan-Rs.1,120 cr with Central assistance of Rs.536 cr, for 9 cities of Odisha-Rs.531 cr with Central assistance of 265 cr, for 7 cities of Jharkhand-Rs.381 cr with Central assistance of Rs.164 cr and for the lone Mission city of Shillong in Meghalaya-Rs.26.67 cr with Central assistance of Rs.24 cr.

These six States proposed a total investment of Rs.43,569 cr by 2019-20 under AMRUT. The proposals include : Gujarat- Rs.15,375 cr, Odisha-Rs.10,226 cr, MP-Rs.8,279 cr, Rajasthan-Rs.5,498 cr, Jharkhand-Rs.3,919 cr and Meghalaya-Rs.172 cr.

With todays approvals, the total investment approved for improvement of basic urban infrastructure under Atal Mission has gone up to Rs.26,416 cr with a total Central assistance of Rs.12,347 cr.

The Apex Committee also approved release of Central assistance of Rs.520 cr for the JNNURM schemes under implementation.

The Committee also approved release of Central assistance of Rs.20.19 cr to Meghalaya as second installment for procurement of 240 buses and Rs.4.00 cr to Maharashtra for Bus depot at Ghansoli and development of Intelligent Traffic Management System.

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Jawahar Lal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) Approves Rebate For Containers Moved by Rail TO ICD Mulund
May 26,2016

JNPT Board has approved waiver of Rs. 728/- per container towards handling charges for all containers moved by rail to and from Inland Container Depot, Mulund on CONCOR rakes to be placed at JNPCT. ICD Mulund is strategically located & accessible by road & rail to the catchment area around Mumbai.

Similar waiver has been granted to 3 Container Freight Staions- Navkar, CWC and DRT on Exim containers which have either arrived through dedicated rakes or moved out through dedicated rakes placed on JNPCT lines. This initiative has been taken to encourage trade to shift to rail mode. This will be a win-win situation for all stakeholders and the local people, as this will decongest the roads & reduce pollution around the Ports vicinity.

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