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Indias services export declines 12.6% in February 2016
Apr 18,2016

As per the data released by the Reserve Bank of India, Indias services exports declined 12.6% to US$ 12.33 billion in February 2016 over February 2015. Meanwhile, Indias services imports also fell 9.0% to US$ 7.19 billion in February 2016.

Indias services trade surplus narrowed 20.5% to US$ 5.14 billion in February 2016 from US$ 6.46 billion in February 2015.

Indias services trade surplus fell 6.0% to US$ 64.43 billion, with 2.8% decline in services exports to US$ 142.24 billion in April-February 2016 over a year ago. Indias services imports eased 0.3% to US$ 77.81 billion in April-February 2016.

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Indias merchandise trade trade narrows to seven year low of US$ 5.07 billion in March 2016
Apr 18,2016

Indias merchandise exports continued to decline for the sixteenth straight month at 5.5% to US$ 22.72 billion in March 2016 over a year ago. Meanwhile, merchandise imports also dipped 21.6% to US$ 27.79 billion. The trade deficit narrowed 55.5% to seven year low of US$ 5.07 billion in March 2016 from US$ 11.40 billion in March 2015.

Oil imports plunged 35.3% to US$ 4.80 billion, while non-oil imports also declined 17.9% to US$ 22.99 billion in March 2016 over March 2015. The share of oil imports in total imports was 17.3% in March 2016. Indias basket of crude oil plunged 34.0% to US$ 36.42 per barrel in March 2016 over March 2015.

Among the non-oil imports, the major contributors to the overall decline in imports were petroleum, crude & products imports declining 35.3% to US$ 4.80 billion, machinery, electrical & non-electrical 5.6% to US$ 2.33 billion, precious & semi-precious stones 11.0% to US$ 1.96 billion, iron & steel 7.0% to US$ 1.15 billion, coal 37.4% to US$ 1.00 billion, gold 80.5% to US$ 0.97 billion, non-ferrous metals 10.9% to US$ 0.77 billion, metaliferrous ores 49.2% to US$ 0.36 billion, silver 62.4% to US$ 0.21 billion and organic & inorganic chemicals 1.6% to US$ 1.24 billion.

On the other hand, the imports have increased for electronic goods 19.0% to US$ 3.70 billion, transport equipment 34.7% to US$ 2.03 billion, artificial resins, plastic materials, etc. 4.1% to US$ 0.95 billion, vegetable oil 4.2% to US$ 0.83 billion, chemical material & products 5.8% to US$ 0.42 billion, pulses 25.8% to US$ 0.21 billion and pulp and waste paper 25.2% to US$ 0.09 billion in March 2016.

On exports front, the engineering goods recorded a sharp dip in exports by 11.3% to US$ 2.46 billion, followed by petroleum products 21.4% to US$ 4.58 billion, RMG of all textiles 4.1% to US$ 3.49 billion, cotton yarn and fabrics 8.7% to US$ 0.40 billion, rice 27.7% to US$ 1.10 billion, leather & leather products 3.1% to US$ 0.86 billion, man-made yarn/ fabrics 8.7% to US$ 0.54 billion, and meat, dairy & poultry products 14.3% to US$ 0.41 billion.

However, the exports improved for, gems & jewellery 4.6% to US$ 3.62 billion, drugs & pharmaceuticals 4.1% to US$ 1.52 billion, electronic goods 11.5% to US$ 0.59 billion, plastic & linoleum 30.2% to US$ 0.48 billion, spices 12.6% to US$ 0.27 billion, fruits & vegetables 14.1% to US$ 0.26 billion, in March 2016.

Merchandise exports in rupees increased 1.5% to Rs 152265 crore, while imports dipped 15.8% to Rs 186251 crore in March 2016 over March 2015. The trade deficit narrowed to Rs 33986 crore in March 2016 compared with Rs 71169 crore in March 2015.

Indias merchandise exports declined 15.9% to US$ 261.14 billion, while merchandise imports fell 15.3% to US$ 379.60 billion in April-March FY2016. The decline in imports was driven by a 40.2% plunge in oil imports to US$ 82.66 billion. Indias merchandise trade deficit declined to US$ 118.46 billion in April-March 2016 from US$ 137.69 billion in April-March 2015.

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Global trade in fake goods worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year: OECD & EUIPO
Apr 18,2016

Imports of counterfeit and pirated goods are worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year, or around 2.5% of global imports, with US, Italian and French brands the hardest hit and many of the proceeds going to organised crime, according to a new report by the OECD and the EUs Intellectual Property Office.

Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Mapping the Economic Impact puts the value of imported fake goods worldwide at USD 461 billion in 2013, compared with total imports in world trade of USD 17.9 trillion. Up to 5% of goods imported into the European Union are fakes. Most originate in middle income or emerging countries, with China the top producer.

The report analyses nearly half a million customs seizures around the world over 2011-13 to produce the most rigorous estimate to date of the scale of counterfeit trade. It points to a larger volume than a 2008 OECD study which estimated fake goods accounted for up to 1.9% of global imports, though the 2008 study used more limited data and methodology.

The findings of this new report contradict the image that counterfeiters only hurt big companies and luxury goods manufacturers. They take advantage of our trust in trademarks and brand names to undermine economies and endanger lives, said OECD Deputy Secretary-General Doug Frantz, launching the report with EUIPO Executive Director Antn++nio Campinos as part of OECD Integrity Week.

Fake products crop up in everything from handbags and perfumes to machine parts and chemicals. Footwear is the most-copied item though trademarks are infringed even on strawberries and bananas. Counterfeiting also produces knockoffs that endanger lives - auto parts that fail, pharmaceuticals that make people sick, toys that harm children, baby formula that provides no nourishment and medical instruments that deliver false readings.

The report covers all physical counterfeit goods, which infringe trademarks, design rights or patents, and tangible pirated products, which breach copyright. It does not cover online piracy, which is a further drain on the formal economy.

It notes that emerging economies tend to have the infrastructure for large-scale trade but often suffer from governance gaps and may lack the institutions and enforcement capacity to effectively tackle counterfeiting. While China is the top provenance of fake goods, its most innovative companies also fall victim to counterfeiters.

The top countries whose companies had their intellectual property rights infringed in the 2011-13 seizures were the United States, whose brands or patents were affected by 20% of the knock-offs, then Italy with 15%, and France and Switzerland with 12% each. Japan and Germany stood at 8% each followed by the UK and Luxembourg.

Postal parcels are the top method of shipping bogus goods, accounting for 62% of seizures over 2011-13, reflecting the growing importance of online commerce in international trade. The traffic goes through complex routes via major trade hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore and free trade zones such as those in the United Arab Emirates. Other transit points include countries with weak governance and widespread organised crime such as Afghanistan and Syria. The report shows trade routes change greatly from year to year as counterfeit gangs spot new weak points.

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Nalco Pays Rs.260.72 Crore Interim Dividend to Government
Apr 18,2016

National Aluminium Company (NALCO), the Navratna PSU, under Ministry of Mines, Govt. of India, has declared an interim dividend of 25%, i.e. Rs.1.25 per share of Rs.5 each, amounting to Rs.322.16 crore for the financial year 2015-16, on the paid-up equity share capital of Rs.1288.62 crore. Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Steel & Mines, Govt. of India, was presented a cheque, amounting to Rs.260.72 crore by Dr. Tapan Kumar Chand, CMD, NALCO, in the presence of Shri Balvinder Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Mines, as interim dividend on the 80.93% shares held by the Govt of India, in New Delhi today. The Minister Shri Tomar had a word of praise for the effective functioning of NALCO despite sluggishness in the market. Particularly, he was appreciative of the companys all-time high bauxite production of 63.40 lakh tonnes and 19.53 lakh tonnes of alumina in 2015-16.

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WPI inflation flat at (-) 0.85% in March 2016
Apr 18,2016

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based inflation was flat at (-) 0.85% in March 2016 from February 2016, while the inflation figure continued to be in the negative zone for the seventeenth straight month. The inflation for primary articles as well as manufactured products has increased, while the inflation for fuel products declined helping to maintain inflation rate nearly steady in March 2016

As per the revised data, the inflation figure for January 2016 was revised down to (-) 1.1% compared with (-) 0.9% reported provisionally.

Inflation of primary articles rebounded to 2.1% in March 2016 from 1.6% in February 2016, while snapping rise for last two months. The inflation for manufactured products also rose to (-) 0.1% in March 2016 from (-) 0.6% in February 2016. However, the inflation for fuel items declined to (-) 8.3% from (-) 6.4%

As per major commodity group-wise, inflation declined for fruits, spices, raw cotton, raw silk, oilseeds, crude petroleum, mineral oils, electricity, oilcakes, tea, paper & products, chemicals and products, and non-metallic mineral products in March 2016. On the other hand, inflation increased for basic metals, transport equipment & parts, textiles item, beverages, sugar, sugarcane, raw rubber, milk, vegetables, and food grains in March 2016.

Inflation of food items (food articles and food products) rose to 4% in March 2016 from 3.7% in February 2016. Meanwhile, inflation of non-food items (all commodities excluding food items) was flat at (-) 2.9% in March 2016 from in February 2016.

Core inflation (manufactured products excluding foods products) increased to (-) 1.1% in March 2016, from 1.7% in February 2016.

The contribution of primary articles to the overall inflation, at (-) 0.85%, was 58 basis points (bps) in March 2016 compared with 44 bps in February 2016. The contribution of manufactured products was (-) 07 bps compared with (-) 33 bps, while that of fuel product group was (-) 132 bps against (-) 98 bps in February 2016.

The contribution of food items (food articles and food products) to inflation rose to 119 bps in (-) 0.85% in March 2016 compared with 111 bps to (-) 0.91% in February 2016. Meanwhile, the contribution of non-food items (all commodities excluding food items) was (-) 200 bps in March 2016 compared with (-) 204 bps in February 2016.

The WPI inflation turned negative at (-) 2.5% in the financial year ended March 2016 (FY2016) from 2.0% in FY2015. The inflation for primary articles eased to 0.1% in FY2016 from 0.8% in FY2015. The inflation for fuel products dipped deeper to (-) 2% from (-) 0.2%, while that for manufactured products also plunged to (-) 0.6% from 1.3%.

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New CII President Announces 6-Pronged Strategy for n++Building National Competitivenessn++
Apr 18,2016

Delineating emerging growth drivers, Dr Naushad Forbes, President, CII, pegged Indias GDP growth rate for 2016-17 at 7.75 - 8.25 per cent. n++Strong macroeconomic fundamentals, favorable business sentiments, and downward trend in interest rates are significant positives for the economy. CII estimates that Government infrastructure investments and increased investments from the private sector will boost GDP growth to the 8 per cent range,n++ he stated.

Dr Forbes, Co-Chairman, Forbes Marshall, was addressing his first press conference since assuming charge as CII President on April 5.

Noting risk factors, Dr Forbes added that the external demand situation would have to be closely watched. A flat corporate performance, fiscal pressure from the Seventh Pay Commission and potential increase in oil prices in the coming year would be further risk factors.

With this mix of positive and risk factors, Dr Forbes announced the CII Theme for 2016-17 as Building National Competitiveness.

Giving the example of countries such as Japan and Korea, he stressed, n++No country has grown without rapid increases in productivity at all levels, including human resources, capital and innovation. India must accelerate its productivity attainments through strategic interventions on building human talent, quality, and technology.n++

Employment generation and entrepreneurship are imperatives to address inclusiveness of the growth process, felt Dr Forbes. He observed that initiatives such as Standup India launched yesterday by Honble Prime Minister would create new opportunities for inclusive growth. He also outlined CII initiatives in this critical area.

The new CII President lauded the Government for its strong reform agenda and highlighted further areas to be addressed at the policy level to enhance competitiveness. He urged for the quick passage of the Constitutional Amendment to introduce the Goods and Services Tax, adding that this would make India a single market and reduce transaction costs.

The Bankruptcy Bill and a uniform public procurement policy are further items on the legislative agenda. States should consider amending their labour regulations and land acquisition processes to create a better investment climate, stressed Dr Forbes.

According to the CII President, non-legislative reforms that can be implemented through administrative action should be accelerated. Some of these include expansion of the JAM trinity of Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhar and mobile telephony, grandfathering and sunset clauses for new Government schemes, and continued action on infrastructure investments.

The CII President delineated six key enablers for building national competitiveness and announced new CII action initiatives for the year for each:

1. Human Development:

CII will set up 3 Model Career Centers in Gurgaon, Mumbai and Chennai. A hundred district-level corporate training centers would be established in 2016-17.

CII will set up the CII University in Amaravati, the designated new capital of Andhra Pradesh. It would also work with the Government on taking 10 public and private universities to world class levels.

2. Ease of Doing Business:

CII would continuously monitor Ease of Doing Business progress. An industry-Trade Union dialogue would be commenced for better industrial relations.

3. Corporate Integrity and Good Citizenship:

CII is launching the CII Model Code of Conduct and Code of Good Corporate Citizenship to guide members on ethical business.

A course would be commenced in collaboration with Indian School of Business (ISB) and GE on training Compliance Officers.

4. Innovation and Technical Capability:

To facilitate R&D, CII proposes to establish India Design Center, Indian Industry IP Foundation, and a National Startup Center for non-IT rural entrepreneurship. The Confederation called for targeting total R&D spending at 2 per cent of GDP with equal shares of public and private sectors.

5. Sustainability:

In line with the countrys commitment to reduce emissions intensity by a third by 2030, CII would undertake a national movement for doubling energy efficiency by that year. The Green Company rating, GreenCo, will be disseminated for adoption by all CII members over the next three years.

CII also recommended a comprehensive policy for developing solar energy, including solar panel manufacturing, standards and financial strategies.

6. Integrating with the World:

Dr Forbes announced the launch of CII Market Facilitation Services for end-to-end services for Indian companies to operate overseas. Likewise, services to overseas companies entering India would also be provided.

The Confederation proposes to set up a world-class International Convention Center in Amaravati in collaboration with the Government of Andhra Pradesh.

Dr Forbes also outlined CII policy recommendations for all six enablers.

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Water storage of 91 major reservoirs declines to 35.839 billion cubic meters as on 13 April
Apr 18,2016

The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on April 13, 2016 was 35.839 billion cubic meters (bcm) which is 23% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This was 67% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 77% 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.

REGION WISE STORAGE STATUS

NORTHERN REGION

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 4.15 bcm which is 23% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 35% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 30% 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.

EASTERN REGION

The Eastern region includes States of Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Tripura. There are 15 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 18.83 bcm. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 6.40 bcm which is 34% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 46% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 35% 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.

WESTERN REGION

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 4.79 bcm which is 18% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 36% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 40% 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.

CENTRAL REGION

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 12.95 bcm which is 31% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 39% 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 but is better than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

SOUTHERN REGION

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 7.55 bcm which is 15% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 24% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 25% 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 Andhra Pradesh and Tripura. States having lesser storage than last year for corresponding period are Himachal Pradesh, AP&TG (Two combined project in both states), Punjab, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

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Government agencies procure 50,000 MT pulses and contract import of 25,000 MT
Apr 18,2016

The Government is keeping a close watch on the prices and availability of pulses and it is being monitored regularly at the highest level. The Centre has requested the States to project their demands for pulses so that timely release from buffer stock can be ensured.

The Government agencies have procured 50,000 tonnes pulses and 25,000 have been contracted so far during the year for import. This year 55 lakh MT pulses have also been imported by private traders which are 10 lakh tonne more than the last years import.

States/UTs have been empowered to impose stock limits on pulses to ensure ability and check hoarding. They have been asked to strictly enforce the stock limits and take stringent action against hoarding.

In order to encourage pulses production the Government has already increased MSP for pulses, by Rs 275 per qtl for Tur&Urad, and by Rs 250 per qtl for Moong.

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Project Digital India Will Attain Its Desired Objectives, Says Dr. Ajay Kumar
Apr 18,2016

Additional Secretary, Department of Electronics & Information Technology, Dr. Ajay Kumar emphasized that digital India project of the Prime Minister would integrate India in a multifaceted manner so that the accruals of information technology percolate down to each stakeholders in an equitable manner.

Delivering his address at the Seminar on n++Unleashing Growth Potential of E-Commerce in Indian++ under aegis of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Kumar added that the pace of the project would accelerate and it would attain all its desired objectives as intended by the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.

Speaking on the occasion, Joint Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Mr. Atul Chaturvedi said that the government of the day would bring in many more reforms and further liberalized the FDIs and IPR regime as lot more needs to be done to make India bring on par with economies of scale in terms of its FDIs and IPR policies.

Mr. Chaturvedi said, n++the government has done a great deal of work in the last 12 to 16 months to liberalize and reform on its FDIs front and opened them up broadly expanding the chasm of restrictive policies of the close economies. Yet lot more needs to be done which will be facilitated with a faster pacen++.

He also said that the recent guidelines relating to 100 per cent FDIs in market place e-commerce would spur up manufacturing as also encourage domestic sales of indigenous products.

This according to him is a decision that would promote and prompt Make-in-India as also proves the spirit of the government of the day that it is pro-reforms oriented and it would do all possible to reform Indias economy so that it becomes an integral part of the economies of scale in terms of Indias policy framework.

On a question on 100 per cent FDIs on multi brand retail, the DIPP official admitted saying that it is a political call but the government is committed to introduce and further liberalize its FDI and IPR policies among others.

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Tata Steel - Greybull Capital Deal to Reduce Cash Burn-Ind-Ra
Apr 18,2016

The planned sale of Tata Steels (IND AA/RWE) Long Products Europe business to Greybull Capital LLP will help lower cash burn and will be credit positive, says India Ratings and Research. Ind-Ra however expects that the uncertain timelines associated with the sale of the overall loss-making UK steel business may delay the expected recovery in its credit profile. Maintenance capex in Europe would also decline significantly post the deal. Ind-Ras rating view on the company is on a consolidated basis and the rating approach factors in a one-notch uplift for its strong operational and strategic linkages with the Tata Group.

The complete exit from UK can translate into positive EBITDA profits in the overseas operations and improve long-term cash flow visibility. While leverage levels are unlikely to see any direct reduction from the sale of the Long Products Europe business, its EBITDA losses from the region will be curtailed, which will facilitate gradual deleveraging of the company. During the nine months ended 31 December 2015, Tata Steels European operations reported EBITDA loss of INR3.39bn, largely on account of its loss making UK operations.

The UK assets have a combined steelmaking capacity of around 10.2m tonnes distributed across the Port Talbot (Blast Furnace, Flat Products), Scunthorpe (Blast Furnace, Long Products) and Rotherham (EAF) plants. The n++Sale and Purchasen++ agreement that Tata Steel has now signed covers primarily around 4.5m tonnes long steel products facility at Scunthorpe and other associated long products facilities in the UK. Within Tata Steels portfolio of European assets, these facilities were the least profitable, and hence the divestment of these is a positive.

The European region, which includes UK and Netherlands, accounts for 52% of Tata Steels total revenues in FY15. After the sale of UK assets, TSE will consist primarily of the highly efficient and moderately profitable facility in the Netherlands, leading to a sharp improvement in TSEs margin and profitability, providing a improvement in credit profile in the long-term.

The deal with Greybull Capital will be completed once the outstanding conditions have been resolved, including transfer of contracts, certain government approvals and satisfactory completion of financing arrangements. The concern remains as far as the main UK pension fund deficit is concerned, which expanded to GBP485m as of 31 March 2015.

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GST will settle issues regarding double taxation of software: Commissioner of Service Tax
Apr 18,2016

Introduction of goods and services tax (GST) will help settle the issue of double taxation on some transactions like in case of information technology software, a top Finance Ministry official said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++On the issue of double taxation on some transactions like software, it is true that there are disputes on the issue pending in various courts and forums, but I sincerely hope that will settle only after introduction of GST,n++ said Mr Sanjay Gupta, Commissioner of Service Tax, Delhi - IV while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM national seminar on Service Tax & CENVAT Credit.

n++It is because most of the times there are two authorities i.e. Centre and states, though both are independent authorities and are entitled to take their view, even courts have given contradictory judgements, therefore I hope only GST will solve this problem,n++ said Mr Gupta.

He also said that government had already moved miles ahead on the roadmap to GST as various committees have been formed by CBEC and administrative setup has also been augmented to face the upcoming challenges.

n++The present service tax laws are aligned with most of the international GST laws of taxation of services, thus by understanding correctly, the present law will not help now but will also help as and when the GST is introduced,n++ added Mr Gupta.

He further said that acceptance of surrender of service tax registration is an area which needs to be improved. n++We are working upon it and very soon we will come out with simplified procedure.n++

Mr Gupta informed that large pendency of adjudication is slowly being solved after cadre restructuring and allocation of cases to other commissioners of central excise.

He also informed that Gurgaon commissionareate headed by him, is the single largest revenue collecting commissionareate in the country as last year its total collection was about Rs 19,300 crore.

n++After number of years, the service tax zone - Delhi could exceed the revenue target in FY15-16 without resorting to usual year-end practice of CENVAT management,n++ he added.

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110 Villages Electrified last week under DDUGJY
Apr 18,2016

110 villages have been electrified across the country during last week (from 11th to 17th April 2016) under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY). Out of these electrified villages, 24 villages belong to Arunachal Pradesh , 24 in Assam, 21 in Jharkhand, 18 in Rajasthan, 6 in Bihar, 4 in Chhattisgarh, 4 in Odisha , 5 in Madhya Pradesh, 2 in Manipur and 2 in Uttar Pradesh .

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Govt. action plan on climate change; implement climate resilient technologies: Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture
Apr 18,2016

The government is doing all efforts to make Indian Agriculture climate resilient but considering the challenges, there is still lot more to be done in terms of scale of implementation and adoption more climate resilient technologies, said Mr Shobhana K. Pattanayak, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare at an ASSOCHAM event.

The government is giving adequate emphasis to make agriculture sustainable through effective agronomic management including soil health and water resources, said Mr Pattanayak, while inaugurating a Managing Climate Risk in Agriculture, organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Bima Yojana (PMKBY) has been operationlised for addressing the concerns of farmer due to crop damage and extreme climate events. Various other initiatives like enhanced credit support, market infrastructure, post harvest management are being emphasized for the benefit of farming community. Information and support and agriculture extension systems are being strengthened through the Mission on Agriculture Extension & Technology, said Mr Pattanayak.

n++The IMT forecast on weather is a welcome development for us because we all know that there has been a shortfall of rainfall in the last two seasons and most of the mini parts of the country especially ten states are having drought like conditions so the predictions of the normal monsoon is a very good news for all of us especially the farmers because our khariff will go on in full swingsn++, said Pattanayak.

On the issue of distribution concern Mr. Pattanayak said, as you know the crops are sensitive to distribution of rainfall and we expect that there should be even distribution of rainfall but there has been prediction that around August and September rains may be slightly more than in past, but we have to closely watch the situation.

The Agriculture ministry got a higher allocation for micro irrigation this year and for entire Sinchayee Yojana which includes the micro irrigation, stated the Secretary.

The adverse impacts of climate changes can therefore be devastating for agriculture, disproportionately affecting the poor. Rise in temperatures would affect tropical countries like India much more as these are already at the higher end of the temperature band.

The recent study has done by Indian Agricultural Research institute indicate the possibility of loss of 4-5 million tons in wheat production with every rise of 1 degree centigrade temperature throughout the growing period even after considering carbon fertilization. Losses for other crops are still uncertain but are expected to be smaller, especially for crops grown during monsoon season, said Mr. Pattanayak.

To minimize the impact of climate variabilities, government has developed contingency crop plans based on models on projected climate conditions for about 600 districts taking into account 126 agro-ecological zones of the country, highlighted Mr. Pattanayak.

To focus on sustained production of specific commodities to meet the projected consumption demand, National Food Security Mission has been launched to address the production and productivity with respect to major crops viz rice, wheat and pulses.

For increasing productivity as well as encouraging economic returns from the wasteland, dry & degraded lands, horticulture plantations have been encouraged under the scheme of National Horticulture Mission (NHM).

Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, Mission Director, USAID in India said lack of reliable climate information at local level is one of the primary challenges that affect decision-making at the farmer level. There is a critical need to improve access to good scientific data and a comprehensive approach to utilizing this data, supported by appropriate risk mitigation approaches.

To fill thus critical void, USAID-Skymet programs is establishing a network of Automatic Weather Stations in 31 districts across nine states in India. The program sends daily crop advisory to farmers as a text message, alerting them about todays weather conditions. To further mitigate risks, the program is also promoting farmers to purchases crop insurance. Majority of smallholders farmer in India and in other developing countries are vulnerable and do not have the financial capacity to mitigate risks associated with crop failure, said Ambassador.

The India-US strategic partnership is a significant contributor to regional and global stability and prosperity and the two governments are working together and leveraging our combined capacities to assist other developing countries and address global development challenges for the benefit of the wider region and the world. This program will not only strengthen the agricultural sector in India, but also create stories of success and resilience that will replicated across Asia and Africa, added Ambassador Addleton.

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ICMR and National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Japan sign Letter of Intent
Apr 18,2016

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Department of Bacteriology, National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) of Japan signed a Letter of Intent on the sidelines of the meeting of the Health Ministers from WHO South East Asia Region and Western Pacific Region countries at Tokyo today, in the presence of Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare.

Terming the collaboration as another significant milestone in the strong ties between the two countries, the Union Health Minister stated that this will further help in deepening the relations between the two in research and development in scientific areas, particularly public health.

The letter of Intent noted that n++Recognizing the global burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and its impact on global health security; Recalling the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Republic of India in the field of healthcare signed on 1 September, 2014; and Desiring to start collaboration between NIID of Japan and ICMR of the Republic of India in antimicrobial resistance research to include but not limited to the following areas:

- Development of integrated surveillance program covering epidemiology data and genomic data of antimicrobial resistance in each country

- Mutual exchange of information of molecular and epidemiological data of antimicrobial resistance by developing of comparable surveillance program in each country

Shri J P Nadda is participating in the meeting of the Health Ministers from WHO South East Asia Region and Western Pacific Region countries, in Tokyo. At the Health Ministers meeting, Shri Nadda emphasized on the importance of collaborative effort and mobilizing the necessary resources for the implementation of AMR national action plans in all countries. The Indian Health Minister also underscored the need to encourage research and development and discovery of new drugs and ensure equitable and affordable access.

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ADB Loan to Help Uttar Pradesh Boost Connectivity, Safety on District Roads
Apr 18,2016

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a project loan of $300 million to upgrade over 400 kilometers (km) of major district roads in Uttar Pradesh with improved maintenance, and to strengthen road safety on the major district roads forming part of the core road network in the state. The project supports the state governments core road network improvement master plan, under which the government plans to improve roads through a combination of state, private and multilateral resources.

Major district roads provide key links between rural roads and state highways, and connect peri-urban and urban areas, so improving them is essential to give more communities better access to markets and basic social services, said Ravi Venkat Peri, Principal Transport Specialist in ADBs South Asia Department. Along with the physical upgrades and maintenance components, the project will conduct a road safety analysis of the district roads in the core road network, and implement remedial measures at identified trouble spots, to reduce the rate of accidents.

Uttar Pradesh is Indias most populous state and has the largest rural population, along with widely dispersed industrial centers, making its total road network of around 300,000 km crucial for its economy and development. However significant sections of the roads have inadequate widths and poor surfacing, increasing economic costs and also making them vulnerable to bottlenecks and hazards. In addition, Uttar Pradesh has a challenging record on road safety for accidents and fatalities, which has promoted the Government of Uttar Pradesh to establish a new policy for road safety in 2014.

The loan, which is ADBs first road sector assistance in Uttar Pradesh, will be used to improve around 430 km of major district roads, upgrading them to standard design widths, suitable for use in all weather and with safety features, including widened and strengthened culverts and bridges. A key element of the project is the inclusion of 5-year performance-based maintenance contracts to ensure ongoing high-standard upkeep of the roads.

Along with ADBs loan, the Government of Uttar Pradesh will provide counterpart support of $128 million. The project will run for almost five years with an expected completion date of end-March 2021.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members - 48 from the region.

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