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Kharif Crop Sowing Crosses 976 Lakh Hectare Area
Aug 18,2017

The total sown area as on 18th August 2017, as per reports received from States, stands at 976.34 lakh hectare as compared to 984.57 lakh hectare at this time last year.

 It is reported that rice has been sown/transplanted in 341.58 lakh ha, pulses in 130.68 lakh ha, coarse cereals in 171.75 lakh ha, sugarcane in 49.78 lakh hectare and cotton in 118.14 lakh ha.

 The details of the area covered so far and that covered during this time last year are given below:

                                                                                                                                Lakh hectare 

CropArea sown in 2017-18Area sown in 2016-17Rice341.58340.14Pulses130.68135.42Coarse Cereals171.75179.17Oilseeds157.36175.10Sugarcane49.7845.64Jute & Mesta7.057.56Cotton118.14101.54Total976.34984.57

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Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu Inaugurates/ Dedicates Various Initiatives pertaining to State of Karnataka
Aug 18,2017

In order to make the rail journey more comfortable and remarkable, Indian Railways has been launching various services and projects. In this direction, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu Dedicated/ Inaugurated following initiatives pertaining to Karnataka: -

1. Commencement of work of Hotgi-Kudgi-Gadag Doubling.

2. Commencement of work of Gadag-Wadi New Line.

3. Dedication to the Nation-Doubling of Tinaighat-Londa-Shivthan Section in Hospet-Tinaighat-Vasco Doubling.

4. Dedication to the Nation-Doubling of Banapur-Koppal in Hospet-tinaighat-Vasco Doubling.

5. Construction of new station building & extension of platform shelter at Chikkodi Road station.

6. Extension of platform shelter at Rayabag station.

7. Provision of Platform shelter on Platform no. 2 at Gadag station.

8. Construction of new Platform 2 & 3 at Koppal station.

9. VIP Lounge at Shivamogga Town station.

10. 500 Kwp Solar Roof Top System at Mysuru Work Shop.

11. Provision of water conservation & recycling plant at Mysuru station.

12. Dedication of Foot Over Bridge at Holenarasipura station.

13. New DEMU Service between Baiyappanahalli-Whitefild-Baiyappanahalli.

14. Commencement of work of ROB at LC 438 at Rayabag.

15. Laying of foundation stone for Bye-pass lines at Wadi.

16. Commissioning of Rail Bogie Karkhana, Yadgir (RVNL).

17. Laying of foundation stone for doubling between Nethravathi and Mangalore Central stations (at Mangalore Central Railway Station).

18. Laying of foundation stone for new FOB at Mangalore Central station (at Mangalore Central Railway Station).

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said, n++n++Karnataka is an important state for Indian Railways, we have allocated highest ever funds in the Budget for developing Railway Infrastructure in Karnataka. Indian Railways have formed JV with the State Government of Karnataka. Indian Railways is in transformation mode, Indian Railways have been focusing on improving Rail Infrastructure & passenger amenities like never before. Cleanliness & Make in India programmes have been successfully implemented in Indian Railways. High Speed Railway network is being worked upon Indian Railways. Soon, Indian Railways is working on the project to operate trains at 200 Kmph on trunk routes like Delhi- Mumbai, Delhi- Kolkata.

Salient Features of Projects launched

1. Commencement of work of Hotgi-Kudgi-Gadag Doubling.

At present, Hotgi-Kudgi-Gadag route is a single line rail link between Guntakal-Pune-Mumbai and Hospet-Hubli-Goa rail routes.

A number of Integrated Steel Plants/Power Plants/Cement Plants are coming up along the Hotgi-Kudgi-Gadag route. This doubling work will provide the necessary line capacity for introduction of additional trains and smooth movement of rakes to/from the industries/power plants.

Part length for this Doubling project, i.e. from Hotgi-Kudgi (134 km) has been taken up under n++n++Customer Funding Modeln++n++ with National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC). NTPC is setting up the Thermal Plant at Kudgi station of 4000 MW capacity.

2. Commencement of work of Gadag-Wadi New Line.

The new rail line would provide a direct shorter route for the people of the area in Gadag, Koppal, Raichur and Gulbarga areas of Karnataka.

Proposed route will shorten the distance between Gadag and Secunderabad by 150 km.

Project is 50:50 Cost Sharing basis with Government of Karnataka (GoK) and land free of cost by GoK.

3. Dedication to the Nation-Doubling of Tinaighat-Londa-Shivthan & Banapur-Koppal of Hospet-tinaighat-Vasco Doubling.

The Railway line passes through Bellary, Koppal, Gadag, Dharwad, Belgaum and Uttara Kannada districts of Karnataka State. Bellary-Hospet region in Karnataka is the heart of Iron ore industry in the country. Iron ore from this region is transported to Chennai and Goa ports for export.

The doubling of railway track is also necessary to move imported coal from Marmagao Port to the Steel industries and upcoming Thermal Power Plants in Jevargi In Gulbarga District, Thermal Expansion Phase-2 in Bellary Dist. in North Karnataka.

In this Project, 28.75 km doublings have been commissioned and being dedicated to Nation.

4. Construction of new station building & extension of platform shelter at Chikkodi Road station.

A new station building with built up area of 275 Sq. Meter has been constructed at Chikkoddi Road Station. Improvement to circulating area is done by providing paver blocks for area of 500 Sq.M. to improve the aesthetics of this station.

For convenience of passengers, platform at Chikkodi Road railway station has been extended by 320 meter with cement concrete flooring. New platform shelter has been provided for a length of 64 meter with seating arrangements. Above amenities towards improvements of Chikkodi Road Station were taken up at a cost of Rs. 15 Lakhs

5. Extension of platform shelter at Rayabag station.

6. Provision of Platform shelter on Platform no. 2 at Gadag station.

7. Construction of new Platform 2 & 3 at Koppal station.

Along with the doubling of Hosapete- Tinaighat railway line, Koppal railway station was provided with an additional platform No. 2/3.

This is a high level island platform having length of 540 meters which has been constructed within a time span of 2 months, and at a cost of Rs.60 lakhs.

8. VIP Lounge at Shivamogga Town station.

Shivamogga town is an important A category station of Mysore Division which attracts large number of tourists in the Malnad area of Karnataka. This station has been further upgraded by providing majestic VIP lounge. The VIP lounge is provided with proper ambience with granite flooring and cladding, air-conditioned seating arrangement with Sofa set, Luggage rack and improved bath-cum toilet facilities with hot and cold water. This facility to a great extent will grant better waiting experience to the travelling passengers visiting Shivamogga station.

9. 500 Kwp Solar Roof Top System at Mysuru Work Shop.

10. Provision of water conservation & recycling plant at Mysuru station.

The water consumption at Mysuru junction is quite high. The demand of water is being arranged through Municipal Corporation with hefty payment to the tune of Rs.18.00 Lakhs per month (Rs 2.16 crores per annum).

It is proposed to set up one water Recycling Plant of 4.00lakh liters capacity for using recycled water, which will have environmental benefit as well as economy by bringing down the reduction in the water bills.

11. Dedication of Foot Over Bridge at Holenarasipura station.

Holenarasipura is important D category station of Mysuru Division which is a famous for an important ancient Narasimha Temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha and river Hemavati, one of the many tributaries of the Kaveri.

Being the important tourist destination, the station was identified for upgradation as Adarsh station during year 2015-16. The important Passenger Amenity works to the tune of Rs.2.85 crores are added to upgrade the station as per norms of Adarsh station.

The work has been completed in stages and foot over bridge has been completed in the month July-17. After commissioning of foot over bridge at Holenarasipura, will have all required facilities as per Adarsh station norms.

12. New DEMU Service between Baiyappanahalli-Whitefild-Baiyappanahalli.

13. Commencement of work of ROB at LC 438 at Rayabag.

14. Laying of foundation stone for Bye-pass lines at Wadi.

Wadi station is strategically located at the junction of 3 Divisions CSholapur, Guntakal & SC Division . Though bye-pass exists towards Secunderabad(SC) from Guntkal(GTL), yet, heavy detentions occur due to interlocking arrangements and large no. of cross movements.

The proposed Bye-pass betw

Water storage level of 91 major reservoirs of the country
Aug 18,2017

The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on August 17, 2017 was 75.694 BCM which is 48% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This percentage was at 47 for the week ending on August 10, 2017. The level of August 17, 2017 was 79% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 82% 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 six reservoirs under Central Water Commission (CWC) monitoring having total live storage capacity of 18.01 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 14.29 BCM which is 79% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 69% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 69% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is better than the corresponding period of last year and is also better 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 8.97 BCM which is 48% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 55% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 47% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the corresponding period of last year but is better 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 15.51 BCM which is 57% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 71% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 62% 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 21.78 BCM which is 51% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 74% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 57% 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.

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 15.15 BCM which is 29% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 44% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 59% 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 Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura. States having lesser storage than last year for corresponding period are Rajasthan, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states), Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

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The FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) rises 2.3% in July 2017 to June 2017
Aug 18,2017

The FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) averaged 179.1 points in July 2017, up 3.9 points (2.3 percent) from June and the third successive month of increases. This latest rise put the Index nearly 16.6 points (10.2 percent) above last years level and at its highest since January 2015. A combination of supply constraints and currency movements provided support to prices of most cereals, sugar and dairy. Instead, meat values remained steady month-on-month, whereas the Vegetable Oil Index edged down.

The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 162.2 points in July, up almost 8 points (5.1 percent) from June and 14.1 points (9.5 percent) from July 2016. Cereal prices have risen consistently over the past three months, driven by stronger wheat prices and, to a lesser extent, also firmer rice quotations. Wheat values rose the most in July, as continued hot and dry weather deteriorated spring wheat conditions further in North America, fuelling quality concerns, particularly for higher protein wheat. Seasonal tightness also provided some support to rice quotations, although gains were capped by a slowdown in demand. Instead, maize values remained largely steady, as support provided by a more rapid pace of foreign purchases by China was outweighed by improved weather conditions in the United States.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 160.4 points in July, down 1.8 points (or 1.1 percent) from June and marking the lowest level since August 2016. The slide was driven by palm oil, the key commodity in the Index. International palm oil quotations continued to ease on good production prospects in Southeast Asia and weak global import demand, notwithstanding low inventory levels. On the other hand, world soy oil prices firmed, fuelled by concerns regarding soybean growing conditions in the United States, as unusually dry weather was reported from several producing regions. Rapeseed and sunflower oil values also strengthened, preventing the Index from falling more markedly.

The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 216.6 points in July, up 7.6 points (3.6 percent) from June and 74.3 points (52.2 percent) above its value in July 2016. Despite this latest increase, the Index is still 21 percent below its peak reached in February 2014. International prices of butter, cheese and Whole Milk Powder (WMP) increased, but those of Skimmed Milk Powder (SMP) declined. Tighter export availabilities pushed butter prices to a new high in July, widening the spread between butter quotations and other dairy products further. While strong buying activity from Asian importers also underpinned cheese and WMP quotations, SMP prices were weighed down by slack demand and prospects of larger releases from the intervention stocks in the EU.

The FAO Meat Price Index averaged 175.1 points in July, virtually unchanged from June. At this level, the Index is 8.2 percent above July 2016 and 17.4 percent below its peak reached in August 2014. An increase in international prices for ovine meat in July was offset by downward price movements in bovine, pig and poultry sectors. In the case of bovine meat, prices fell due to weaker import demand in the United States because of increased domestic supplies. While global markets for pig and poultry meat remained well supplied, international prices could have declined further if not for strong consumer demand. Ovine meat prices rose for the fourth consecutive month, reflecting reduced export supplies from Oceania.

The FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 207.5 points in July, up 10.2 points (5.2 percent) from June, but still 26 percent below its value a year earlier. July marked the first monthly increase in sugar prices since the beginning of the year. A strong appreciation of the Brazilian real was the main catalyst for Julys rebound in sugar quotations, although generally favourable weather aided the harvest in Brazil, the worlds largest supplier, as well as crop development in Thailand and India.

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Finance Minister writes to State Chief Ministers to reduce burden of Value Added Tax on Petroleum Products used for manufacturing
Aug 18,2017

The Union Minister of Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley has written to State Chief Ministers urging the States to reduce burden of Value Added Tax (VAT) on Petroleum Products used as inputs in making of goods after the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST).

The letter highlights a concern being raised by the manufacturing sector in the country regarding the rise in input costs of petroleum products happening on account of transition to Goods and Services Tax regime. In the pre-GST regime, because the petroleum products as well as the final goods produced both attracted VAT, input tax credit of petroleum products being used as inputs by manufacturers was allowed to varying extent by different States. However, in the post-GST scenario, the manufactured goods attract GST while the inputs of petroleum products used in the manufacturing attract VAT and, therefore, it would lead to cascading of taxes. In view of this, in the pre GST regime certain States had lower rate of 5% VAT on Compressed Natural Gas used for manufacturing of goods. Some States also had lower rate of VAT on diesel being used for manufacturing sector.

Thus Sh Arun Jaitley has requested other States also to explore the possibility of having a lower rate of VAT on petroleum products used for manufacturing of those items on which there is GST, so that there is minimum disruption in the costing of goods.

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Telecommunications sector to generate 30 lakh jobs by 2018: ASSOCHAM-KPMG
Aug 18,2017

Roll out of 4G technology with an increase in data, entry of new players in the market, introduction of digital wallets, popularity of smart phone leading to consistent increase in demand for technology and other developments in the telecom sector likely to increase job opportunities by 30 lakhs by 2018, according to an ASSOCHAM-KPMG joint study.

Emerging technologies such as 5G, M2M and the evolution of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) are expected to create employment avenues for almost 870,000 individuals by 2021, reveals the ASSOCHAM-KPMG joint study.

The existing manpower in the sector may not be adequate both in number as well as in skill to cater to the upcoming demand. There is a need to bridge the gap in skill which on the one hand would require identification of skilled manpower in diverse roles such as infra and cyber security experts, application developers, sales executives, infrastructure technicians, handset technicians etc. as well as on the other hand reskilling of existing manpower working on existing technologies for them to be updated with upcoming requirements.

The government initiatives such as Skill India have been implemented for the ease of providing sufficient and appropriate manpower to the telecom sector, among other sectors. The Telecom Sector Skill Council (TSSC) has been set up to cater to the demands and skill needs of the telecom sector. However, the Industry recommends more targeted and specialised skill development programmes that would enhance existing manpower capabilities and availability to ensure uninterrupted development of the sector as a whole.

The telecom sector has grown at 19.6 per cent CAGR in terms of subscriber base and at 7.07 per cent CAGR from a revenue perspective over the last few years.

n++TSPs have continued to invest in their networks and modernise their existing network infrastructure. Operators CAPEX investments stands at INR 85003 crore during Q1 2017 and the below figure depicts the significant CAPEX investment during the period 2012- 2016n++, noted the study.

Operators made these capex investments primarily to deploy new technologies like 4G and 4G-Advanced, to expand their fibre footprint and to acquire spectrum via spectrum auctions. These investments have resulted in increased borrowings for the TSPs and hence led to an increase in debt burden for the operators, resulting in highly leveraged TSP balance sheets.

Indian telecom sector is a highly price-sensitive market with a subscriber base that has majority prepaid subscribers with lower ARPU. Also, competition in the sector has increased thereby putting a pressure on the operator margins.

The increased debt burden on operators coupled with continuous pressure on profitability has affected the financial health of the telecom sector. Further, initiatives from the government to enhance the health of the telecom sector and enable a cost efficient expansion of digital services are required.

The Indian telecom industry has seen a paradigm shift from a voice centric market to a data-centric market. While voice business still contributes a large chunk towards operator revenues, data revenues have shown an exponential growth trajectory over the last few years. By the end of 2016 the number of internet subscribers in India was 391.50 million making India globally the 2nd highest in terms of internet users.

Mobile data traffic also grew by 76 per cent in India in 2016 primarily attributed to increased smart phone penetration. This growing usage of smart phones, especially in urban areas, has increased the usage of internet on hand-held devices - in 2016, 559 megabytes of mobile data was generated per month by an average smart phone, up from 430 megabytes per month in 2015. Consumption of video content is also forecasted to be 75 per cent of Indias mobile data traffic by 2021, compared to 49 per cent in 2016.

Advancements in innovative IoT technologies, like health monitors, smart transport, smart meters among others, is projected to result in 21 per cent increase in M2M services. These advances will result in a significant growth of mobile data, and as the telecom sector moves to newer technologies, TSPs will need to identify innovative avenues to monetise this data opportunity.

The Indian telecom industry is the second largest in the world by number of subscribers. The sector has witnessed exponential growth over the last few years primarily driven by affordable tariffs, wider availability, roll out of Mobile number portability (MNP), 3G and 4G, evolving consumption patterns of subscribers and a conducive regulatory environment. However, the hyper competitive nature of the Indian telecom market and introduction of disruptive tariff plans have put operator margins under pressure and resulted in consolidation via mergers and acquisitions. The telecom sector finds itself in an unenviable position where despite falling ARPU the players are forced to invest significantly in infrastructure and technology upgrades in order to maintain competiveness. Moving up the technology curve and expanding the breadth of coverage is paramount for the industry to provide differentiated value offerings to end customers.

Vision 2020

n++ Total number of SIM connections is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2020 from the current 1.1 billion

n++ With 646 million unique mobile subscribers, India is the second largest mobile market in the world and will add more than 300 million new unique subscribers by 2020

n++ Telecom sector contribution to GDP will reach 8.2 per cent by 2020

n++ Smart phone subscriptions will reach 674 million by 2020

n++ Wearable device market is expected to grow from 2.5 million units in 2016 to 4.1 million units in 2020

n++ India has shown tremendous growth potential for IOT solutions with the market poised to reach USD 15 billion by 2020 with 2.7 billion units of connected devices from the current USD 5.6 billion with 200 million units of connected devices in 2016

n++ Data growth driving operator revenues from USD 31 billion in 2016 to USD 39.7 billion in 2020 with a capex investment of USD 35 billion during the period 2016-2020.

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Taxpayers who want to avail transitional input tax credit should calculate tax liability after estimating amt. of transitional credit
Aug 18,2017

As per the rules, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for the month of July 2017 has to be paid by 20th August, 2017. Only after the payment of full GST, return in summary Form 3B can be filed.

Concerns have been raised about the form for claiming transitional input tax credit not being available on the GSTN website. This form will be available on the GSTN website from 21st August, 2017. In view of this, a small window of opportunity is being given to all the taxpayers. For those taxpayers who do not want to claim any transitional input tax credit have to necessarily pay the tax and file return in Form 3Bbefore the due date of 20th August, 2017. The taxpayers who want to avail the transitional input tax credit should also calculate their tax liability after estimating the amount of transitional credit as per Form TRANS I. They have to make full settlement of the liability after adjusting the transitional input tax credit before 20th August, 2017. However, in such cases, they will get time upto 28th August, 2017 to submit Form TRANS I and Form 3B. In case of shortfall in the amount already paid vis-n++-vis the amount payable on submission of Form 3B, the same will have to be paid with interest @ 18% for the period between 21stAugust,2017 till the payment of such differential amount.

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Government fixes ceiling prices of Knee Implants; People of India to save Rs.1500 crore per annum
Aug 17,2017

The Government has fixed the ceiling prices of orthopaedic implants used in knee surgeries, informed Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar..Based on the numbers of about 1 to 1.5 lakh orthopaedic knee procedures done in India every year,there will be a saving of about Rs.1500 crore for the people of India per annum. It is a step to prevent Unethical Profiteering and ensure Affordable and Quality Healthcare for the Last Man, the Minister added.

Shri Kumar said that as per the data analysis of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), under Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, there was huge margin in trade which was found to be unreasonable and in a way unethical profiteering. The NPPA, while fixing the ceiling prices, has kept all the new technology implants in mind and prices have been fixed accordingly, which are as follows:

Type of Knee ImplantAverage
MRP
Earlier
(Rupees)
Average
Price
Reduction
New Ceiling
Price and MRP*
(Rupees)
Cobalt Chromium (most widely used)1,58,32465%54,720 Special Metal like Titanium & Oxidized Zirconium2,49,25169%76,600 High Flexibility Implant1,81,72869%56,490 Revision Implants2,76,86959%1,13,950 Specialised Implants for Cancer &TumourCompany specific prices; to be fixed by NPPA at Rs. 1,13,950

*Companies will print the MRP by adding GST on these ceiling prices

Shri Kumar informed that it is estimated by World Health Organization (WHO) that by 2020, osteoarthritis is going to be the fourth largest cause of immobility in the world. India has about 1.2 to 1.5 crore orthopaedic patients who require orthopaedic implant surgery. Most of the diagnosed people requiring knee surgery are not able to afford because of very high cost. Government is reforming this state of affairs putting a ceiling on knee implants from today, the Minister added.

Shri Kumar said that the Government expects full cooperation from all the stakeholders including importers, distributors, retailers, hospitals etc. in ensuring that the benefit of reduction of prices of knee implants reaches the last man. The Minister added that all complaints of overcharging would be strictly monitored and the overcharged amount would be recovered from erring parties with an interest of 18% over it. A step further, Shri Kumar added that the Government might also consider cancelling of licenses and initiate criminal proceedings against stakeholders engaged in unethical profiteering.

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Total Foodgrains production is estimated at record 275.68 million tonnes
Aug 17,2017

The 4th Advance Estimates of production of major crops for 2016-17 have been released by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare on 16th August, 2017. The assessment of production of different crops is based on the feedback received from States and validated with information available from other sources. The estimated production of various crops as per the 4th Advance Estimates for 2016-17 vis-n++-vis the comparative estimates for the years 2003-04 onwards (click here).

As per 4th Advance Estimates, the estimated production of major crops during 2016-17 is as under:

n++ Foodgrains - 275.68 million tonnes (record)

n++ Rice - 110.15 million tonnes (record)

n++ Wheat - 98.38 million tonnes (record)

n++ Coarse Cereals - 44.19 million tonnes (record)

n++ Maize - 26.26 million tonnes (record)

n++ Pulses - 22.95 million tonnes (record)

n++ Gram - 9.33 million tonnes

n++ Tur - 4.78 million tonnes (record)

n++ Urad - 2.80 million tonnes (record)

n++ Oilseeds - 32.10 million tonnes

n++ Soyabean - 13.79 million tonnes

n++ Groundnut - 7.56 million tonnes

n++ Rapeseed & Mustard - 7.98 million tonnes

n++ Castorseed - 1.42 million tonnes

n++ Cotton - 33.09 million bales (of 170 kg each)

n++ Sugarcane - 306.72 million tonnes

As a result of very good rainfall during monsoon 2016 and various policy initiatives taken by the Government, the country has witnessed record foodgrain production in the current year. As per Fourth Advance Estimates for 2016-17, total Foodgrain production in the country is estimated at 275.68 million tonnes which is higher by 10.64 million tonnes (4.01%) than the previous record production of Foodgrain of 265.04 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. The current years production is also higher by 18.67 million tonnes (7.27%) than the previous five years (2011-12 to 2015-16) average production of Foodgrains. The current years production is significantly higher by 24.12 million tonnes (9.59%) than the last years foodgrain production.

Total production of Rice is estimated at record 110.15 million tonnes which is also a new record. This years Rice production is higher by 3.50 million tonnes (3.28%) than previous record production of 106.65 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. It is also higher by 4.74 million tonnes (4.49%) than the five years average Rice production of 105.42 million tonnes. Production of rice has increased significantly by 5.74 million tonnes (5.50%) than the production of 104.41 million tonnes during 2015-16.

Production of Wheat, estimated at 98.38 million tonnes is also a record. This years wheat production is higher by 2.64% than the previous record production of 95.85 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. Production of Wheat during 2016-17 is also higher by 5.77 million tonnes (6.23%) than the average wheat production. The current years production is higher by 6.10 million tonnes (6.61%) as compared to Wheat production of 92.29 million tonnes achieved during 2015-16.

Production of Coarse Cereals estimated at a new record level of 44.19 million tonnes is higher than the average production by 2.85 million tonnes (6.88%). It is higher than the previous record production of 43.40 million tonnes achieved during 2010-11 by 0.79 million tonnes (1.82%). Current years production is also higher by 5.67 million tonnes (14.72%) as compared to their production of 38.52 million tonnes achieved during 2015-16.

As a result of significant increase in the area coverage and productivity of all major Pulses, total production of pulses during 2016-17 is estimated at 22.95 million tonnes which is higher by 3.70 million tonnes (19.22%) than the previous record production of 19.25 million tonnes achieved during 2013-14. Production of Pulses during 2016-17 is also higher by 5.32 million tonnes (30.16%) than their Five years average production. Current years production is higher by 6.61 million tonnes (40.41%) than the previous years production of 16.35 million tonnes.

With an increase of 6.85 million tonnes (27.11%) over the previous year, total Oilseeds production in the country is estimated at 32.10 million tonnes. The production of Oilseeds during 2016-17 is also higher by 2.84 million tonnes (9.72%) than the five years average Oilseeds production.

Production of Sugarcane is estimated at 306.72 million tonnes which is lower by 41.73 million tonnes (-11.98%) than the last years production of 348.45 million tonnes.

Despite lower area coverage during 2016-17, higher productivity of Cotton has resulted into higher production of 33.09 million bales (of 170 kg each), i.e. an increase of 10.29%, as compared to 30.01 million bales during 2015-16.

Production of Jute & Mesta estimated at 10.60 million bales (of 180 kg each) is marginally higher (0.73%) than their production of 10.52 million bales during the last year.

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Cabinet approves closure of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Forest and Plantation Development Corporation Limited (ANIFPDCL), Port Blair
Aug 17,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the closure of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Forest and Plantation Development Corporation Limited (ANIFPDCL), Port Blair, a Central Government Undertaking and discharging the liabilities of all the employees.

The closure will help to stop unproductive loans to ANIFPDCL from Gol and would enable a more productive utilization of assets.

This would be achieved by offering Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) / Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) package to willing employees and by retrenchment under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 of those not opting for VRS/VSS including settlement of other liabilities, if any.

At present, there are 836 employees on the rolls of the Corporation.

The closure will be done by infusing funds in the following manner:

n++ Infusion of funds of Rs. 125.72 crore through budgetary support from Gol for funding VSS of all employees on 2007 notional pay scales and for discharging other liabilities.

n++ Write-off of Gol loans of Rs. 186.83 crore given to ANIFPDCL and accrued interest of Rs 185.18 crore with freezing of interest as on 31.03.2017 after closure of the Corporation.

n++ Auction of movable assets (Plant & machinery, electrical equipment, vehicles & office equipment, furniture & fixture, elephant & livestock, plantation & other inventories etc.) of ANIFPDCL through Metal Scrap Trading Corporation Ltd. (MSTC Ltd),

n++ Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) will transfer/sale of immovable assets i.e. land and /or buildings of ANIFPDCL through NBCC Ltd.

Background:

The ANIFPDCL, a Government of India Public Sector Undertaking was set up in 1977, with the objective of development and managing forestry plantations in the Islands. The ANIFPDCL has been operating three main projects viz., Forestry Project, Red Oil Palm Project (ROP) and Katchal Rubber Project (KRP). The forestry operations were the main activities of the Corporation and contributed around 75% of the total revenue. Due to suspension of the forestry activities in view of the order dated 10.10,2001 and 07.05.2002 of Supreme Court, the ANIFPDCL has become an overall loss making venture since 2001 onwards. As a result, the ANIFPDCL was not able to pay salary and wages to its employees. In order to ensure disbursement of salary to the employees of tine Corporation, and other statutory payments, the GoI provided financial assistance to the ANIFPDCL in the form of interest bearing loan.

During the last fifteen years, various committees were appointed and professional agencies were engaged by the Ministry from time to time and they have thoroughly examined all possible avenues that could be availed for revival of the forest Corporation, including right sizing the staff. Based on those decisions, several proposals were examined, but none of them fructified. After thorough examination, Government of India decided to close down the Corporation.

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Cabinet approves Scheme of Budgetary Support under GST Regime to the eligible units located in States of J&K, Uttarakhand, HP, Sikkim
Aug 17,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the Scheme of providing Budgetary Support under Goods and Service Tax Regime for the eligible industrial units located in State of Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and North Eastern States including Sikkim. Budgetary support of Rs. 27,413 crore for the said Scheme has been approved for the period from 1.7.2017 till 31.03.2027 for such industrial units located in aforesaid States which availed the benefit of Central Excise exemption prior to coming into force of GST regime.

The Government of India was implementing North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), 2007 for North Eastern States including Sikkim and Package for Special Category States for Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to promote industrialization. One of the benefits of the NEIIPP, 2007 and Package for Special Category States was excise duty exemption for first 10 years after commencement of commercial production.

Upon repeal of the Central Excise duty laws, the Government has decided to pay a budgetary support equal to the central share of the cash component of CGST and IGST paid by the affected eligible industrial units. The support shall be available for the residual period (ten years from the date of the commercial production) in the States of North Eastern region and Himalayan States. DIPP will notify the Scheme, including detailed operational guidelines for implementation of the scheme within 6 weeks.

It is estimated that total number of 4284 eligible units located in the State(s) of Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and North Eastern States including Sikkim will benefit from the above scheme.

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Cabinet approves creation of one post of Director and three non-teaching posts for NIT, Andhra Pradesh
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the creation of one post of Director with basic pay of Rs. 75,000 + a special allowance of Rs,5000/- and three non-teaching posts (Registrar, Librarian and Principal Students Activity & Sports (SAS) Officer) with Grade Pay of Rs.10,000/- for National institute of Technology (NIT), Andhra Pradesh.

Background:

NITs are Institutions of National Importance known to be among the best teaching Institutions in the field of engineering and technology which have made a remarkable presence with their high quality technical education. The job opportunities will be for the post of Director and three Non Faculty posts i.e. Registrar, Librarian and Principal Students Activity & Sports (SAS) Officer. They will be responsible for running of NIT Andhra Pradesh which will produce high quality, technical manpower which will fuel entrepreneurship and generation of job opportunities throughout the country.

Consequent upon the assent of the President of India on 1st March, 2014 to the bifurcation of the State of Andhra Pradesh, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has established NIT at the successor State of Andhra Pradesh as per Schedule 13 (Education) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014.

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Cochin Shipyard completes a landmark IPO; Raises funds for its expansion projects
Aug 16,2017

Cochin Shipyard under the Ministry of Shipping was listed in Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange on 11 August 2017. The company has raised Rs 1442crores from the IPO which has been a combination of fresh issue and offer for sale in the ratio of 2:1. The IPO was oversubscribed by over 75 times with more than Rs 1.11 lakh crore being raised against the offer of Rs 1442crores.

The Issue also saw a strong interest from retail segment with over 20 lakh applications , the highest in the last decade. The QIB portion was over subscribed by over 63 times and the HNI portion was over subscribed by 287 times. After listing the shares in the exchange, they opened at 20% increase despits the markets being low. The company undertook very detailed roadshows in India, Far East, Europe and US. Overall there was very positive market sentiments, towards the IPO.

The proceeds of the fresh issue part of the IPO, totaling approximately Rs 961crores will be used by CSL for part funding two expansion projects costing Rs 2800 crores. The projects are - a dry dock at the Cochin Shipyard premises to accommodate bigger ships for building and repair and a ship repair facility in the adjacent Cochin Port Trust premises by setting up of a ship lift and transfer system.

Cochin Shipyard was incorporated in the year 1972 as the first green field shipyard of India. As on date Cochin Shipyard Limited is the largest public sector shipyard in India in terms of dock capacity. CSL caters to clients engaged in the Defence sector in India and clients engaged in the commercial sector worldwide for Shipbuilding and Ship Repair. In addition to shipbuilding and ship repair, CSL also offers marine engineering training.

The company has exported around 45 ships to overseas customers and has the pride of building the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier for the Indian Navy. The companys diversified business profile and presence in multi maritime segments have resulted in strong financial fundamentals. The companys turnover for FY 2017 was Rs 2059 crores as against a turnover of Rs 1404 crores for the FY 2012.The Profit After Tax for the FY 2017 was Rs 322 crores as against a PAT of Rs 172 crores for FY 2012. The Networth of the company as on March 2017 was Rs 2031 crores as against Rs 1051 crores at end of FY 2012.

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Cabinet approves creation of a single non-lapsable corpus fund for Secondary
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has accorded its approval today for creation of a non-lapsable pool in the Public Account for secondary and higher, education known as Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh (MUSK) into which all proceeds of Secondary and Higher Education Cess will be credited.

The funds arising from the MUSK would be utilized for schemes in the education sector which would be available for the benefit of students of secondary and higher education, all over the country.

In connection with the above fund, the Union Cabinet also accorded its approval to the following:

(i) Administration and maintenance of the above pool by Ministry of Human Resource Development.

(ii) Accruals from the Cess would be utilized in the ongoing schemes of Secondary and Higher Education. However, the Ministry of Human Resources Development can allocate funds for any future programme/scheme of secondary and higher education, based on the requirement, as per prescribed procedure,

(iii) In any financial year, the expenditure on ongoing schemes of the Department of School Education & Literacy and Department of Higher Education would be initially incurred from the gross budgetary support (GBS) and the expenditure would be financed from the MUSK only after the GBS is exhausted.

(iv) The MUSK would be maintained as a Reserve Fund in the non-interest bearing section of the Public Accounts of India.

The major benefit will be enhancing access to secondary and higher education through availability of adequate resources, while ensuring that the amount does not lapse at the end of financial year.

Features:

1. Accruals into the proposed non-lapsable fund will be made available for expansion of secondary education and higher education.

2. For Secondary Education: Presently, the Ministry of Human Resources Development envisages that the accruals from the Cess would be utilized in the secondary education for:

Ongoing Rashtriya Madhyamik Shlksha Abhiyan Scheme and other approved programmes including:

National Means-Cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme and

National Scheme for Incentives to Girls for Secondary Education.

3. For Higher Education: the accruals would be utilized for:

Ongoing Schemes of Interest Subsidy and contribution for guarantee funds, Scholarship for College & University Students;

Rashtriya Uchchtar Shiksha Abhiyaan;

Scholarship (from Block Grant to the institutions) and National Mission on Teachers and Training.

However, the Ministry of Human Resources Development can allocate funds for any programme/scheme of secondary and higher education, based on the requirement & prescribed procedure.

The purpose of levying cess for secondary and higher education is to provide adequate resources for secondary and higher education.

The fund would be operationalised as per the present arrangements under Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh (PSK) wherein the proceeds of cess are used for Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Schemes of the Department of School Education & Literacy.

Background:

(i) During the 10th Plan, an education cess of 2% on all central taxes was imposed w.e.f. 1.4.2004 to make available additional resources for basic education/elementary education to augment the existing budgetary resources. A need was felt to give a similar fillip to the effort of the Central Government in universalizing access to secondary education and expanding the reach of the higher education sector. Therefore, the Finance Minister, in his budget speech of 2007 proposed an additional cess of 1% on central taxes for secondary and higher education.

(ii) A cess @ 1% on central taxes, called the Secondary and Higher Education Cess was levied through Finance Act, 2007 to fulfil the commitment of the Government to provide and finance secondary and higher education (Section 136 of the Act).

(iii) In July, 2010, a draft cabinet note was circulated by the HRD Ministry wherein it was proposed to create a non-lapsable fund in the Public Account called Madhyamik and Uchchatar Shiksha Kosh (MUSK) as a receptacle for the proceeds of the Secondary and Higher Education Cess. The views of concerned Ministries viz the then Planning Commission, Ministry of North Eastern Region, and Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance were sought in this regard. The Department of Economic Affairs did not agree to the proposal on the grounds that the Budget allocations for the schemes of Secondary Education and Higher Education have been far more than the amount of 1% cess collected. Therefore, the amount of the cess collected is deemed to have been fully allocated for the schemes of Secondary and Higher Education in the respective financial years. Hence, funds on account of 1% cess for the past period are not available now for allocation.

(iv) Subsequently, the HRD Ministry sought the approval of the Department of Economic Affairs for revisiting the issue of creation of Madhyamik and Uchchatar Shiksha Kosh (MUSK) on 11th February, 2016. Department of Economic Affairs on 20th June, 2016 approved that this Ministry may move a draft Cabinet Note to seek the approval of the Cabinet for creation of. MUSK.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Sweden on IPRs
Aug 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today has given its approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Sweden on cooperation in the field of Intellectual Property (IPRs). The MoU establishes a wide ranging and flexible mechanism through which both countries can exchange best practices and work together on training programs and technical exchanges to raise awareness on IPRs and better protect intellectual property rights. Impact: The MoU will enable India to exchange experiences in the innovation and IP ecosystems that will substantially benefit entrepreneurs, investors and businesses on both sides. The exchange of best practices between the two countries will lead to improved protection and awareness about Indias range of Intellectual creations which are as diverse as its-people. It will be a landmark step forward in Indias journey towards becoming a major player in global Innovation and will further the objectives of National IPR Policy, 2016. Features: A Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) with members from both sides will be formed to decide cooperation activities to be taken under the MoU in following areas: a) Exchange of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP awareness among the public, businesses and educational institutions of both countries;b) Collaboration in training programmes, exchange of experts, technical exchanges and outreach activities;c) Exchange and dissemination of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP with the industry, universities, R & D organisations and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through participation in programs and events in the matter, organized singly or jointly by the Parties;

d) Exchange of information and best practices for disposal of applications for patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyrights and Geographical Indications, as also the protection, enforcement and use of IP rights;

e) Cooperation in the development of automation and implementation of modernization projects, new documentation and information systems in IP and procedures for management of IP;

f) Cooperation to understand how Traditional Knowledge is protected; and the exchange of best practices, including traditional knowledge related databases and awareness raising of existing IP systems;

g) Exchange of information and best practices regarding Intellectual Property law infringements in the digital environment, especially regarding Copyright issues; and

h) Other cooperation activities as may he decided by the Parties with mutual understanding.

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