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CCI issues order against CIL and its subsidiaries for abusing dominant position, imposes penalty
Mar 24,2017

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Competition Act, 2002 for imposing unfair/ discriminatory conditions in Fuel Supply Agreements (FSAs) with the power producers for supply of non-coking coal.

The Final Order has been passed on a batch of informations filed by Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Ltd. and Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited against Coal India Ltd. and its subsidiaries (Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd., Western Coalfields Ltd., South Eastern Coalfields Ltd.).

The Order has been passed by CCI pursuant to the directions issued by Competition Appellate Tribunal remanding the matter back while setting aside the original order of CCI in which a penalty of Rs. 1773.05 crore had been imposed upon CIL. After hearing the parties afresh in terms of the directions issued by Competition Appellate Tribunal, CCI held that CIL through its subsidiaries operates independently of market forces and enjoys dominance in the relevant market of production and supply of non-coking coal in India. CCI noted in the order that CIL did not evolve/ draft/ finalize the terms and conditions of FSAs through a bilateral process and the same were imposed upon the buyers through a unilateral conduct. CCI found CIL and its subsidiaries to be in contravention of the provisions of Section 4(2)(a)(i) of the Competition Act, 2002 for imposing unfair/ discriminatory conditions in FSAs with the power producers for supply of non-coking coal.

Apart from issuing a cease and desist order against CIL and its subsidiaries, CCI has directed modification of FSAs in light of the findings and observations recorded in the order. The impugned clauses related to sampling and testing procedure, charging transportation and other expenses for supply of ungraded coal from the buyers, capping compensation for supply of stones etc. For effecting the modifications in FSAs, CIL has been ordered to consult all the stakeholders. CIL has also been directed to ensure uniformity between old and new power producers as well as between private and PSU power producers.

Further, CCI has imposed a penalty of Rs. 591.01 crore upon CIL for the abusive conduct. While reducing penalty, CCI noted the steps taken by CIL to improve the sampling procedure even post-passing of the original order by CCI. However, while holding the extant sampling procedure as unfair, CIL has been directed to incorporate suitable modifications in fuel supply agreements to provide for a fair and equitable sampling and testing procedure besides considering the feasibility of sampling at the unloading-end in consultation with power producers and adopting international best practices.

The common Order of the Commission has been passed in Case Nos. 03, 11 and 59 of 2012 and a copy thereof has been uploaded on the website of CCI at www.cci.gov.in.

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Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 amended through the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016
Mar 24,2017

Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016 Though the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 has been on the statute book since more than 28 years, the same could not be made operational because of certain inherent defects. With a view to providing effective regime for prohibition of benami transactions, the said Act was amended through the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amended Act, 2016. The amended law empowers the specified authorities to provisionally attach benami properties which can eventually be confiscated. Besides, if a person is found guilty of offence of benami transaction by the competent court, he shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than one year but which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to 25% of the fair market value of the property.

The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 came into effect from1st November, 2016. Several benami transactions have been identified since the coming into effect of the amended law. Show cause notices for provisional attachment of benami properties have been issued in 140 cases involving properties of the value of about Rs. 200 crore. Out of these, provisional attachment has already been effected in 124 cases. The benami properties attached include deposits in bank accounts and immovable properties.

The Government has put in place empowered institutions for efficient implementation of the amended law. In exercise of powers conferred under sub-section (2) of section 28 read with section 59 of the amended Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, vide Notification No. SO 3290E, dated 25.10.2016 the Central Government has notified specified Income-tax authorities to act as Initiating Officer, Approving Authority and Administrator in respect of benami transactions. Further, vide Notification No. SO 3288E, dated 25.10.2016, the Adjudicating Authority has been notified

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CCRAS has undertaken several projects to develop medicines for chronic and lifestyle diseases
Mar 24,2017

The technology related to the drug developed by Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), namely, AYUSH-82 has been given to eight manufacturing firms through National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), Dept. of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India. The scientific study on AYUSH-82 carried out by CCRAS has shown encouraging results.

CCRAS has developed medicine for other Chronic diseases like arthritis and cancer. CCRAS has developed AYUSH-SG (Sunthi Guggulu) for Arthritis and the technology has been transferred to five firms through NRDC and is available in the market.

Projects on AYUSH -QOL2C for improving quality of life in cancer patients and AYUSH-Manas in Mental Retardation have been recently concluded. Further, CCRAS has undertaken work for developing AYUSH-SL for Lymphatic Filariasis, AYUSH-D for Diabetes Mellitus, Carctol-S for Ovarian Cancer and AYUSH M-3 for Migrane.

The Ministry of AYUSH through its research organizations. namely, Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM), and Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH) have launched a pilot programme to integrate Ayurveda, Homoeopathy and Unani with National Programme for prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS). Initially the pilot study has been started in six districts.

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ITD conducted searches in about 2534 groups of persons led to admission of undisclosed income of about Rs. 45,622 crore
Mar 24,2017

As part of enforcement measures and based upon credible evidence of tax evasion and other serious violations of provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the Act), Income Tax Department (ITD) conducts searches in cases of various persons including companies and individuals. During the last three Financial Years (2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16) and the current Financial Year [2016-17 (up to January, 2017)], the ITD conducted searches in about 2534 groups of persons which led to admission of undisclosed income of about Rs. 45,622 crore apart from seizure of undisclosed assets (cash, jewellery etc) worth about Rs. 3,625 crore.

Based upon material recovered during searches, investigation is conducted by the investigating officers and findings of such investigations are shared with the Assessing Officers concerned. Such Assessing Officers initiate and complete assessment proceedings (a quasi-judicial proceeding) as per provisions of the Act with a view to assess the total income (including undisclosed income) and take other actions such as raising of tax demand, levy of applicable penalties, recovery of such demands, filing of prosecution complaints, (wherever applicable) etc. This is an on-going process.

The Government has taken various effective measures to tackle breach of law and tax evasion. These steps include focused enforcement actions and putting in place appropriate legislative & administrative frame works & processes. Due attention has been given to capacity building and integration of information and its mining through enhanced use of information technology. Serious violations of provisions of the Act by persons including individuals, companies etc lead to civil as well as criminal consequences. The civil consequences include levy of taxes (including interest) and penalties and criminal consequences include prosecutions before criminal courts for offences under the Act. Besides levy of taxes on the total income of those persons whose assessments were completed during last three years and current Financial Year (up to Jan, 2017), the ITD filed prosecution complaints in 2432 cases. During the same period, 4264 compounding applications were also received from persons who had committed offences under the Act, as offences committed under the Act are compoundable. Out of the cases disposed of by the criminal courts during this period, 116 persons were convicted of the offences committed under the Act. Besides, in 3218 cases offences were compounded by the competent Income-tax authorities. Person-wise details are not maintained centrally. Further, disclosure of information in respect of specific assessees is prohibited except as provided under section 138 of the Act.

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Centre approves construction of 10 Million MT capacity Silos by the end of year 2019-20
Mar 24,2017

Food Corporation of India (FCI) has awarded contracts for creation of 1.6 Million MT silos and State Governments have completed/awarded contracts for 2.15 Million MT silos. Thus, contracts for silos of 3.75 Million MT have been awarded.

Government has approved an action plan of FCI for construction of steel silos of capacity 10 Million MT by FCI as well as State Governments in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode in a phase-wise manner (3 phases) by the end of year 2019-20. FCI handles about 60 Million MT of wheat and rice annually.

The Silos are being constructed through Private Sector participation in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. FCI will be benefited as it will not incur any capital investment for any of the projects. The responsibility of designing, building, financing and operating the silos will be of private parties. Further, there will be benefits from creation of silos as it is a safer and modern means of storage. Foodgrains can be stored for a longer period, with reduced losses and less handling and labour costs.

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Government has divested a part of its stake in ITC to Life Insurance Corporation of India
Mar 24,2017

Government through Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India (SUUTI) has divested 2% shares of the total shares of ITC to LIC through block trade on 7th March, 2017. Government has received an amount of Rs. 6,682 crore from this transaction.

Disinvestment of Government of India equity is under taken as per the Disinvestment policy of the GoI keeping in view the resource requirement of the Government and the prevailing market condition.

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Powergrid Commissions n++800kV HVDC Champa - Kurukshetra Pole-I
Mar 24,2017

Trial operations of 1500MW, Pole-I of n++800kV HVDC Champa - Kurukshetra transmission System has been successfully completed and the Pole has been put to commercial operations, starting today. The above system is part of n++n++800kV, 3000MW WR-NR HVDC Interconnector Transmission System for IPP Projects in Chhattisgarhn++. With commercial operation of Pole-I, HVDC Terminal at Champa (in Western Region) & Kurukshetra (in Northern Region) alongwith 2576 Ckm Champa - Kurukshetra HVDC Transmission line have been commissioned, at a total cost of about ₹6,300Crore. Further, Pole-II of 1500MW capacity, is also expected to be commissioned by June17. This project will enable transfer of power from IPP generation projects coming up in Raigarh, Champa, and Raipur generation complex in Chhattisgarh to demand centres of Northern region viz. Haryana, Punjab, UP, Rajasthan and adjoining areas.

This transmission system is further being upgraded to 6000 MW capacity with addition of 2nd HVDC Bipole (CK-2) of 3000MW, n++800kV HVDC Terminals under n++Transmission System Strengthening in WR-NR Transmission corridor for IPP Projects in Chhattisgarhn++ at an additional cost of about ₹5200 Crore, which is expected to be completed by December 2018.

The above transmission system has been designed using State-of-the-art HVDC Technology and shall facilitate in meeting controlled power flow requirement, flexibility of operation as well as maintaining system parameters within limits through its control mechanism. The link augments the inter-regional capacity of Northern Region with Western Region, thereby facilitating economic dispatch of power and exchange of surplus power between Northern Region and Western Region, depending on the availability of generation and load demand in each region.

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NTPC Plans to Achieve 32 GW Installed Capacity via Renewable Sources by 2032
Mar 24,2017

NTPC Ltd. has raised Rs. 2,000 crore through issuance of green masala bonds in overseas market under its USD 4 billion medium term note programme. The proceeds of these bonds will be used for financing renewable energy projects in accordance with applicable guidelines and regulations of Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The details of the green masala bonds are given under:

Size of the Issue

INR 2,000 crore

Date of Issue

10.08.2016

Coupon

7.375% per annum, payable annually

Security

Unsecured

Listing

At Singapore Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange

Repayment Period

Bullet repayment after 5 years

Maturity date

10.08.2021

National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited has  drafted/prepared its long-term Corporate Plan and has planned to achieve 32 GW installed capacity through   renewable energy resources by 2032, the minister added. 

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Rs. 503.28 Crores spent during 2013-14 to 2015-16 under Early Childhood Care and Education Policy
Mar 24,2017

The aim of Early Childhood Care and Education policy is to achieve holistic development and active learning capacity of all children below 6 years of age by promoting free, universal, inclusive, equitable, joyful and contextualised opportunities for laying foundation and attaining full potential. A total of 3.4 Crores children of 3-6 year age group are availing benefits of Pre-School education including 1.7 Crore boys and 1.7 Crore girls. A total amount of Rs. 503.28 Crores has been spent during the year 2013-14 to year 2015-16.

Year wise details of amount spent under Early Childhood Care and Education Policy:

2013-14: Rs 145.32 crore

2014-15: Rs 231.95 crore

2015-16: Rs 126.01 crore

The key areas of the Policy are as below:

i. Access with equity and inclusion in programmes and interventions across service providers;

ii. Improving quality, Strengthening Capacity, Monitoring and Supervision

iii. Research and Documentation

iv. Advocacy and awareness generation

v. Convergence and Coordination among policies and programmes

vi. Institutional and Implementation Arrangements

vii. Partnerships, Periodic Review and Increased investment towards ECCE

Under the National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy the States/UTs are required to introduce Annual Contextualized Curriculum along with Pre-School Education (PSE) kit by aligning to the curriculum, activity books and celebrate ECCE day on monthly basis.

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Steps taken for revival of Ratnagiri Gas and Power Limited
Mar 24,2017

Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt. Limited (RGPPL) has started generation of power under the scheme of Utilization of gas based power generation capacity for the year 2015-16 and 2016-17. Total Debt of RGPPL is approximately Rs. 8906 Crs. Railways have agreed to continue to purchase 500 MW power from RGPPL power plant w.e.f 01.04.2017 for a period of five years. Govt. of Maharashtra has agreed, in principle, for granting waiver of State transmission charges and transmission losses and also waiver of VAT on gas purchase by the RGPPL.

Government has taken following steps for revival of RGPPL:

(i) Decided to demerge the Power Block and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal into two separate entities.

(ii) Banks/Financial Institutions have agreed to restructure the debt.

(iii) Gas supply to RGPPL at a firm price for the five year period has been agreed by GAIL.

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Centralised Digital Online Platform VAHAN and SARATHI to Curb Corruption
Mar 23,2017

The Provisions regarding issue of learners licence and driving licence are contained in Chapter II of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988(MV Act) and Chapter II of Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989(CMVRs). The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has introduced online based citizen centric application VAHAN 4.0 and SARATHI 4.0 under digitization to ease out the processes and curb corruption. 85 Road Transport offices under VAHAN4.0 and 235 Road Transport offices under SARATHI 4.0 have been brought to the centralised platform. Implementation of provisions of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act) and Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (CMVRs) comes under the purview of State Governments. Further, Ministry has issued notification GSR 1096(E) dated 28.11.2016 vide which fitness certificate for renewal of a motor vehicle can be obtained from a State/Union territory other than the State/Union territory where the vehicle is registered.

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Third Protocol Amending India-Singapore DTAA notified today; Comes into force with effect from 27th February 2017
Mar 23,2017

The Third Protocol amending India-Singapore Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) which was signed on 30th December, 2016, has come into force on 27th February 2017. The same has been notified in the Official Gazette today.

The India-Singapore DTAA at present provides for residence based taxation of Capital Gains of shares in a company. The Third Protocol amends the DTAA with effect from 01st April, 2017 to provide for source based taxation of capital gains arising on sale of shares in a company. This will curb revenue loss, prevent double non-taxation and streamline the flow of investments. In order to provide certainty to investors, investments in shares made before 01st April, 2017 have been grandfathered subject to fulfillment of conditions in Limitation of Benefits clause as per 2005 Protocol. Further, a two-year transition period from 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2019 has been provided during which capital gains on shares will be taxed in source country at half of normal tax rate, subject to fulfillment of conditions in Limitation of Benefits clause.

The Third Protocol also inserts Article 9(2) in the DTAA which would facilitate relieving of economic double taxation in transfer pricing cases. This is a taxpayer friendly measure and is in line with Indias commitments under Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan to meet the minimum standard of providing Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) access in transfer pricing cases. The Third Protocol also enables application of domestic law and measures concerning prevention of tax avoidance or tax evasion.

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Indias current account deficit spikes to 1.4% of GDP in Q3 of FY2017
Mar 23,2017

Indias current account deficit (CAD) at US$ 7.9 billion (1.4% of GDP) in Q3 of 2016-17 was higher than US$ 7.1 billion (1.4% of GDP) in Q3 of 2015-16 and US$ 3.4 billion (0.6% of GDP) in the preceding quarter.

Despite a slightly lower trade deficit on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis, the CAD widened primarily on account of a decline in net invisibles receipts. Net services receipts moderated on a y-o-y basis, primarily owing to the fall in earnings from software, financial services and charges for intellectual property rights.

Private transfer receipts, mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas, amounted to US$ 15.2 billion, having declined by 3.8% from their level a year ago.

In the financial account, net foreign direct investment at US$ 9.8 billion in Q3 of 2016-17 was marginally lower than its level a year ago.

There has been net outflow of portfolio investment to the tune of US$ 11.3 billion as against net inflow of US$ 0.6 billion in Q3 of last year; portfolio outflows occurred in both equity and debt segments.

Reflecting the redemption of FCNR (B) deposits, non-resident Indian (NRI) deposits declined by US$ 18.5 billion in Q3 of 2016-17 as against an inflow of US$ 1.6 billion a year ago.

In Q3 of 2016-17, foreign exchange reserves (on BoP basis) declined by US$ 1.2 billion as against an increase of US$ 4.1 billion in Q3 of last year.

BoP during April-December 2016

On a cumulative basis, the CAD narrowed to 0.7% of GDP in April-December 2016 from 1.4% in the corresponding period of 2015-16 on the back of the contraction in the trade deficit.

Indias trade deficit narrowed to US$ 82.8 billion in April-December 2016 from US$ 105.3 billion in April-December 2015.

Net invisible receipts were lower, mainly due to moderation in software exports and net private transfers and higher outgo on account of primary income (profit, interest and dividends).

Net FDI inflows during April-December 2016 (US$ 30.6 billion) rose by 12.3% over the level during the corresponding period of 2015-16.

Portfolio investment recorded a net outflow of US$ 3.2 billion during April-December 2016 as compared with US$ 3.0 billion a year ago.

In April-December 2016, there was an accretion of US$ 14.2 billion to the foreign exchange reserves.

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NFHS-4 indicates reduction in percentage of underweight and stunted children in the country
Mar 23,2017

The Ministry of Women & Child Development is implementing Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, Scheme for Adolescent Girls (AGs) and Maternity Benefit Programme (MBP) as direct targeted interventions to address the problem of malnutrition in the country.

An amount of Rs.5866.68 Crores, Rs.6711.90 Crores & Rs.8048.72 Crores released to States/UTs for Supplementary Nutrition under ICDS Scheme for the year 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively. Similarly, Rs.575.36, Rs.610.32 Crores, Rs. 470.40 Crores was released to States/UTs under Scheme for Adolescent Girls for the year 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively. An amount of Rs 232.05 Crores for the year 2013-14, Rs. 343.13 Crores for the year 2014-15 and Rs.233.46 Crores for the year 2015-16 was also released to States/UTs under Maternity Benefit Programme.

Under the ICDS scheme, there is a provision of Supplementary Nutritious Food to the beneficiaries. Take Home Ration is given to Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers, children (6 months - 3 years) and severely malnourished children and Hot Cooked Meals are provided to children (3 - 6 years). ICDS is a universal and a self-selecting scheme. Those who visit Anganwadi Centers and enroll themselves can avail these services.

As per the recent report of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) - 4, 2015-16, 35.7% children under 5 years of age are underweight and 38.4% are stunted indicating a reduction from the previous data captured in NFHS - 3, 2005-06, which reported 42.5% children under 5 years of age as underweight and 48% stunted.

Malnutrition is not a direct cause of death but contributes to mortality and morbidity by reducing resistance to infections. As per the Sample Registration Report (SRS), 2010-13 of Registrar General of India, the major causes of deaths of children are - Prematurity & low birth weight (29.8%); Pneumonia (17.1%); Diarrhoeal disease (8.6%); Other Non-Communicable Diseases (8.3%); Birth asphyxia & birth trauma (8.2%); Injuries (4.6%); Congenital anomalies (4.4%); Ill-defined or cause unknown (4.4%); Acute bacterial sepsis and severe infections (3.6%); Fever of unknown origin (2.5%) and all other remaining causes (8.4%). However, the data regarding death of children and women due to malnutrition is not maintained by this Ministry.

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The nuclear power plants in the country are presently operating close to their rated capacity
Mar 23,2017

The Government, in July 2014, had announced tripling of the then existing capacity of 4780 MW in the next ten years. With the commencement of commercial operation of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), Unit-1 (1000 MW) in December 2014, the installed nuclear power capacity in the country has reached 5780 MW. In addition, KKNPP, Unit-2 (1000 MW) has been connected to the grid for the first time in August-2016 and is presently generating infirm power. On commencement of commercial operation of KKNPP-2, the installed nuclear power capacity in the country will reach to 6780 MW.

Further, four reactors with a total capacity of 2800 MW are under construction and four more reactors with a total capacity of 3400 MW have been accorded sanction by the Government. Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), a public sector company under Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), is building one 500 MWe capacity Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu. PFBR is expected to be functional by October 2017. On progressive completion of these projects, the installed nuclear capacity will reach 13480 MW. More reactors based on both indigenous technologies and with foreign technical cooperation are also planned in future.

The present share of nuclear energy in the country is about 3.2% in the current financial year 2016-17 (up to Feb-2017).

The nuclear power plants in the country are presently operating close to their rated capacity.

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