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India would need to bring 88 km2 land under waste disposal by 2050: Study
Jul 03,2017

Considering the present scenario of waste management in India, where most of the waste is dumped without treatment, it would require an estimated 88 square kilometer (km2) of precious land to be brought under waste disposal through landfilling by 2050, which is equivalent to the size of area under administration of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), noted a recent joint study by ASSOCHAM and PwC.

n++This will eventually render the land unfit for any other use for as long as a half century before it can be stabilised for other uses,n++ said the report jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and global consulting firm PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers).

As such it is imperative to relook into present systems of waste management in the country, suggested the ASSOCHAM-PwC study.

As per a previous estimate, by 2050 about 50 per cent of Indias population will be living in urban areas, and the volume of waste generation will grow by five per cent per year.

Accordingly, the expected waste quantity we are looking at for the year 2021, 2031, and 2050 are 101 million metric tonnes (MMT) per year, 164 MMT, and 436 MMT per year respectively.

The report noted that waste generation of Class I cities (with population between 0.1 million to five million) in India has been estimated to be around 80 per cent of countrys total waste generation.

Highlighting the concerns about per capita waste generation rate, the study said that presently it is about 300-400 gm/capita for medium cities and 400-600 gm/capita for large cities. n++This is going to increase with the present trend of urbanisation and consumption patterns.n++

On the need for proper waste treatment to generate environmental and monetary benefits, the study said that poorly managed waste has direct implications to urban environment, leading to air, water, and soil pollution, together with long-term health impacts, while it has indirect implications to our economy and growth prospects.

However, improper planning for waste management, complex institutional setup, constraints in capacity for waste management using modern techniques and best practices, and limited funds with urban local bodies (ULBs) are some of the reasons waste management in India has become an area of concern.

It also said that though private sector can play a critical and greater role in waste management in India, there are a various issues and bottlenecks on different fronts that have made it challenging to successfully implement projects - policy and regulatory, financing, project conceptualisation and structuring, technology and capacity.

The ASSOCHAM-PwC study has recommended the government to accord industry status to waste management sector to provide it necessary boost and regulatory adherence with dedicated monitoring and compliance cell.n++

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Fitch: Indian Loan Waivers are a Risk to Fiscal Consolidation
Jul 03,2017

The farm loan-waiver schemes being discussed and rolled out across an increasing number of Indian states could have a significant impact on state government finances, and might undermine efforts to bring down general government debt, says Fitch Ratings. The impact on Indias debt dynamics and capital spending will depend on the total size of loans waived, how the scheme is financed, and whether there are possible offsets from cuts to other forms of spending, including capital projects.

Larger state deficits would delay an expected gradual reduction in general government debt, which includes central and state government debt. When Indias rating was affirmed at BBB-/Stable in May, Fitch forecast general government debt to fall to 64.9% of GDP by FY21, from 67.9% in FY17, and we highlighted that potential changes to Indias fiscal position are a rating sensitivity. Public finances are a key weakness in Indias sovereign credit profile, with general government debt well above the BBB median of 40.9% and the fiscal deficit of 6.6% of GDP in FY17 much higher than the BBB median of 2.7%.

Indias central government has gradually consolidated its fiscal position in recent years, and has indicated it will not participate in the waivers. However, the combined finances of the states - which are included in general government debt and deficits - have been under pressure. Public pay hikes, election spending and higher interest costs stemming from the UDAY scheme - under which state governments have taken on debt from power distribution companies - are all likely to add to expenditure.

There is a risk that farm loan waivers - which we have not previously factored into our assumptions - will lead to further fiscal slippage at the state level or will reduce the funds available for public investment. The central government has the authority to block states from borrowing to finance persistently large deficits, but it could be reluctant ahead of approaching elections in some states, and with the 2019 Lok Sabha election drawing nearer.

The last widespread farm loan-waiver scheme was rolled out in 2008 by the central government, and covered 43 million farmers. It reportedly cost around 1.3% of GDP. The combined cost to the states could also become large this time. Schemes have already been announced in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka, which account for around one-third of Indias population. Other governments are likely to feel pressure to implement similar policies, particularly in states with upcoming elections. A roll-out across much of India is not unthinkable.

Banks could also be affected by the waiver schemes. The schemes will benefit banks to the extent that they offload farm loans with weak repayment prospects to state governments. Uniform farm loan waivers could lead to moral hazard and weaken the general repayment culture among financially healthy farmers, but they will still have an incentive to repay loans in order to retain access to future funding. Agricultural loans account for 14% of total bank lending, according to the Reserve Bank of India, and are equivalent to around 6.5% of GDP.

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ASSOCHAM seeks dropping of proposal for mandatory telecom equipment testing
Jul 03,2017

Opposing any more layer of regulation to the highly indebted telecom industry, battling several challenges, the ASSOCHAM has approached the Department of Telecommunication with a plea to drop the proposal of mandatory testing of telecom equipment which is used in India after certification from well-known third party global bodies.

In a letter to the Telecommunication Secretary and Chairperson of the Telecom Commission , Ms Aruna Sundarajan, the ASSOCHAM has said that the move to get the draft guidelines by the Telecom Engineering Centre for mandatory testing of the end to end equipment would add one more layer of regulation and go against the spirit of ease of doing business.

It said, in any case, the telecom industry is n++already heavily debt riddenn++ and any more regulatory compliance burden would create serious issues in the global supply chain cycle. n++Declining revenues, mounting debt, hyper-competitive market place have posed tremendous pressure on network investments, expansionsn++.

The ASSOCHAM letter signed by its Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said, n++products (end to end equipment) are developed keeping in view the relevant legal and regulatory requirements in global markets including India and equipment makers proactively ensure stringent technical and environmental standards. The telecom products that are envisaged in mandatory testing by TEC are developed based on various international standards and do undergo rigorous testing and certification regime at international labs for Environment, Health, Safetyn++.

Mr. Rawat also said that most of the critical telecom infrastructure supplied to operators and other intermediaries in the entire voice and data chain are being manufactured in India itself, in the spirit of the Make in India programme.

The ASSOCHAM, thus sought doing away with the proposal. n++Instead of adding one more layer of testing, when in doubt, TEC may recognize and review from time to time the test reports and certificates issued by conformity assessment bodies that are internationally reputed to assess whether products conform to the standards and safety requirements, as happening nown++.

ASSOCHAM has cautioned that this mandatory testing would not only be counter-productive to the industry which is already heavily debt ridden and would also create serious issues in the global supply chain cycle. Declining revenues, mounting debt, hyper-competitive market place have posed tremendous pressure on network investments, expansions. The financial pressure is leading to further debt and the industry is already going through a rough patch leading to consolidations at both operators as well as the global OEMs.

There have been consistent efforts from the government to improve the ease of doing business in India to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of industry. While the industry is on its way to gear up towards new era in to digital networked society with mass uptake of mobile broadband and digitalization of industry to embark upon the next revolution in telecom in India, the proposed draft guidelines for n++Mandatory Testingn++ of telecom equipment will definitely be a showstopper for this journey.

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Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers (RCFL) OFS oversubscribed 2.82 times
Jul 03,2017

The retail portion of Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers Ltd (RCFL) OFS got thumbs-up from retail investors. Against the 20% portion amounting to Rs 40.96 cr reserved for retail investors, the total bids of Rs 237.28 crore has been received, thus the retail portion got oversubscribed approximately by 5.62 times.

The Non Retail portion of the OFS opened on 29th June, 2017. Total subscription of Rs 350.62 crore has been received against shares for value of Rs 163.85 crore at floor price and oversubscribed by 2.14 times.

Overall, RCFL OFS for 5% divestment for equity shares of 27,584,405 amounting to Rs 204.81 crore at the floor price of Rs.74.25 per share, received a total demand for 7,82,00,420 equity shares amounting to Rs 587.9 crore. Therefore, the OFS of RCFL over-subscribed by 2.83 times.

This is the 2nd CPSE OFS in the current financial year, and Government is likely to get Rs 203 crore approximately. The Government shareholding in RCFL after this OFS will come down to 75%.

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86% timely wage payment under MGNREGS in 2017-18
Jul 03,2017

Under MGNREGS, April to June, 2017 has seen a significant demand for wage labour specially for water conservation works. Nearly 75 Crore person days of work has already been created and more is expected by 15th July, 2017. This means that nearly 80 lakhs to 1 crore workers are coming everyday for work in different parts of the country under MGNREGS. Over 86% of them are paid within 15 days. This is a remarkable improvement compared to earlier years. 99% payments are on the electronic Financial Management System (e-FMS). The Central Government has ensured timely release of funds and States have responded by strengthening the implementation machinery to provide timely payments.

The thrust on agriculture and allied activities, is showing at the field level with 74% expenditure on these works. 2,264 water stressed blocks have received special attention for Natural Resource Management, Water Harvesting and Water Conservation. 2.62 lakh water conservation works have been completed in the Current Financial Year including 1,31,789 Farm Ponds across the country. MGNREGS has created over 91 lakh hectares irrigation potential in the last 2 years which is currently being evaluated by the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG), New Delhi. The report is expected by 30th September, 2017.

1.45 crore assets of MGNREGS have been geo-tagged so far and are in the public domain. 5.2 crore workers are already on the Aadhar-based Payment System (ABPS) and over 9 crore workers have seeded their Aadhar details with consent in NREGA Soft MIS. 87% job cards have been verified and 1.1 crore job cards have been deleted so far after giving reasons. There has been a registration of 89 lakh new job cards to ensure that deprived households get work.

24 States have set up independent Social Audit Units and 3100 State Resource Persons have been trained to conduct social audit as per auditing standards. Large scale training of Self-Help Group women as Village Resource Persons for social audit is being undertaken. 5,245 Bare Foot Technicians (BFT) have been trained so far in 19 States to provide technical support at field level. Stress has been laid on public information and Citizen Information Boards at all work sites is being ensured. Record maintenance has been simplified and over 90% Gram Panchayats have already adopted the simplified seven Registers.

Concerted efforts to move MGNREGS workers on the skilling ladder through placement-based wage employment under DDUGKY and self-employment with Bank linkage through Rural Self-Employment Training Institutes (RESTIs) have also been going on effectively across the States. Diversification of livelihoods through women Self-Help Groups is the core thrust of MGNREGS for sustainable economic well-being of the poor households.

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RLDA and NBCC sign an MoU regarding redevelopment of identified railway stations on Indian Railways
Jul 03,2017

An MoU was signed on 30th June,2017 between Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), an institution under Ministry of Railways and National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), a PSU of Ministry of Urban Development for implementation of station redevelopment projects for 10 identified stations in partnership with respective Smart Cities.

Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development, Minister of Housing & Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Information & Broadcasting said that the people of the country are looking for new facilities and new changes, they expect transformations to be done expeditiously in all spheres of life. It is a very good idea to develop smart stations along with the smart cities. He said that the PSUs of his ministry will undertake stations redevelopment in a professional way.

Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Minister of Railways said that Indian Railways has taken up this ambitious program of station redevelopment in a big way and have adopted multi pronged strategy to accomplish this mammoth task. He said we have chosen PPP model and are roping in varied agencies to execute the project namely Railways own PSUs, other Central Government PSUs, foreign countries through Government to Government cooperation and state governments. He said that once the stations are redeveloped, the passengers will get facilities of world standard. He said that NBCC has now been given 10 stations in first phase for redevelopment and more stations would be given to them in subsequent phases.

RLDA and NBCC shall form a SPV in the form of a JV Company to execute the station redevelopment project. The JV shall redevelop the stations on a self-financing model. NBCC shall use its expertise in preparing DPR of the Project and business model. RLDA shall extend necessary help to NBCC in arranging all requisite data pertaining to the stations and get the vacant land entrusted from Ministry of Railway as per approved master plan of the station. The JV of NBCC and RLDA shall also enter into city support agreement with the respective Smart City Authorities and local bodies to obtain support relating to development of approach infrastructure and favorable Development Control Norms for the project.

Background

Earlier in October 2016, the MoU was entered into between Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Urban Development for mutual cooperation between the two Ministries for integrated planning of redevelopment of railway stations in the cities included in the SMART Cities and AMRUT schemes. The proposal was to plan the redevelopment of stations in partnership with the smart city SPVs and Urban Local Bodies so that the planning and redevelopment of the station and the city areas near the station is done in an integrated manner. This MoU between Ministry of Railways and Ministry of Urban Development provided for formation of a JV company between NBCC and RLDA to take up the station redevelopment projects as NBCC has very wide and varied business experience in and expertise in the field of construction & real estate development and RLDA has expertise in monetization of Railway land by way of long term leasing of land.

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India and Thailand sign MoU on Cooperation in Controlling Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances, their Precursors and Chemicals and Drug Abuse
Jul 03,2017

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Thailand was signed in the presence of Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir and Minister of Justice of Thailand, Mr. Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana, on Cooperation in Controlling Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances, their Precursors and Chemicals and Drug Abuse. The MoU was signed by Dr. Rina Mitra, Special Secretary, MHA & DG, Narcotics Control Bureau and Mr. Sirinya Sitdhichai, Secretary General, Office of Narcotics Control Board, Thailand.

The MoU will enhance the mutual cooperation between India and Thailand in regulation of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and combating drug trafficking. It will facilitate the exchange of information of new trends and modus operandi of drug traffickers, sharing the list of smugglers/syndicates in operation, sharing of best practices in the field of supply and demand reduction and help to provide mutual assistance & cooperation in investigation of drug offences.

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Decision to reduce Tax Rate on Fertilizers from existing 12% to 5 % under GST taken in the interests of the Farmers
Jul 03,2017

Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar said that it was decided to reduce the GST rate of fertilizers from the existing 12% to 5%. This decision was primarily taken in the interests of the farmers. The Government has also taken up with the Industry to pass on the benefit to the Farmers, the Minister informed.

Shri Ananthkumar said that farmers would benefit to the tune of Rs. 1261 crores under GST regime. Under the new GST rates announced by the Council, average weighted MRP will decrease to Rs. 5909/ Ton (or Rs. 295.47/ 50kg bag) as compared to the existing All India weighted Average of Rs 5923/ Ton (or Rs. 296.18/50 kg bag).

Consequent to the ushering in of the GST regime, Shri Ananthkumar informed, there will be a uniform MRP of Rs.295.47 per 50 kg bag across the country except couple of States where additional VAT is charged on the natural gas as Natural gas has not been brought within the ambit of GST. However, even in these States, MRP will reduce by Rs 3 per 50 kg bag. Similarly, MRP of P&K Fertilisers, for which the prices are not administered, are also expected to come down on an average basis as the incidence of tax will be lower than the existing tax on an average, the Minister added.

The GST regime, apart from integrating the entire fertilizer market into a single market, will also deter inter-state smuggling of fertilizers which may be currently happening due to differing levels of taxes and consequently MRPs in different adjoining States. The GST would realize the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modis vision of One Nation, One Market, One Tax, Shri Ananthkumar said.

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Rules related to Registration and Composition Scheme have been notified on 19th June 2017& came into effect from 22nd June 2017
Jul 03,2017

The rules related to Registration and Composition Scheme have been notified on 19th June, 2017. These rules have been brought into effect from 22nd June, 2017. The intent of notifying these rules is to start the process of issue of registration certificate, called Goods and Services Tax Identification Number (GSTIN), to taxpayers who have already been issued provisional ID for registration (PID) as well as to the new taxpayers.

Any person who has been granted PID and who opts for composition scheme, should submit an intimation of option in a prescribed form on GSTN on or before 21st July, 2017.

Any persons who has PID may submit the required documents on GSTN for getting the certificate of registration. It is clarified that a period of three months is allowed to complete this procedure i.e. the formalities can be completed on or before 22nd September, 2017. In the interim, they can issue tax invoice using the PID already allotted to them.

A person seeking fresh registration can apply for registration within thirty days from the date on which he becomes liable for registration. They can also opt for composition scheme at the time of filing of registration form.

The applicant for grant of new registration can issue a bill of supply for supplying goods or services during the period from the date of liability to obtain registration till date of issuance of the registration certificate, if he has applied for registration within thirty days from the date he has become liable for registration. On grant of certificate of registration he can issue revised tax invoices for the supplies made during this period.

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65 MoUs signed at Textiles India 2017 in the presence of Union Textiles Minister
Jul 03,2017

Union Textiles Minister Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani and Minister of State, Textiles, Shri Ajay Tamta witnessed the signing of 65 MoUs in the textiles sector today, on the 2nd day of the three-day mega textiles trade fair, Textiles India 2017. MoUs were signed between various domestic and international organizations from industry and government; three of the MoUs signed are G2G MoUs.

The MoUs signed relate to exchange of information and documentation, Research & Development, commercialization of handloom products and silk production, cooperation in Geo textiles, skill development, supply of cotton and trade promotion with overseas partners, etc.

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Government imposes levy of 10% basic customs duty (BCD) on cellular mobile phone, specified parts thereof and certain electronic goods
Jul 03,2017

The Government had constituted Inter Ministerial Committee [IMC] comprising of officers from Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the Department of Commerce (DoC), Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and Department of Revenue (DoR) to identify electronic / IT / telecom products, which are not Information Technology Agreement [ITA] - I bound, for customs duty enhancement on them.

With effect from 01.07.2017, the Government has imposed 10% basic customs duty (BCD) on:

a) Cellular mobile phones and specified parts of cellular mobile phones like charger, battery, wire headset, Microphone and Receiver, Key Pad, USB Cable etc.

b) Certain other specified electronic goods.

The present exemption from basic customs duty on specified parts of mobiles, namely, Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA), Camera Module, Connectors Display Assembly, Touch Panel / Cover Glass Assembly, Vibrator Motor / Ringer will continue.

Further, inputs and raw material for manufacture of parts of above specified electronics goods including mobile phones will also continue to be exempt from BCD.

Notification Nos. 56/2017-Customs, 57/2017-Customs and 58/2017-Customs, all dated 30.06.2017 have been issued in this regard.

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GSTN unveils excel template for to help taxpayers perform easy data entry offline before uploading on the GST portal
Jul 03,2017

Goods and Services Network (GSTN) has unveiled a simple excel based template that will facilitate the taxpayers in preparing and filing their monthly returns with maximum ease and minimal cost.

The excel template is a part of GST Councils approach to make tax compliance highly easy and convenient for taxpayers and also reduce the time of compliance to improve ease of doing business. This excel workbook template can be freely downloaded from the GST Common portal (www.gst.gov.in), and can be used by taxpayers to collate all invoice related data on a regular basis.

The Excel format can be used by businesses to start maintaining their data. The taxpayer can prepare the details of his outward supply on weekly or any other suitable regular interval which can then be uploaded on GST portal on or before the 10th of subsequent month. The GSTR1 excel template workbook can be used to prepare the data for GSTR 1 return without connecting to internet in offline mode. This also benefits taxpayers in remote areas where Internet connectivity might not be good.

The template comprises of eight worksheets. Summary of key values in each worksheet has been provided at the top to help taxpayers easily reconcile the data entered in the worksheets with that recorded in his accounting system/books to accurately prepare the return. Based on data entered in the Excel sheet, offline tool will prepare a file which will have to be uploaded by the taxpayer on GST Portal to create GSTR-1. Only while uploading the file on the GST portal, Internet connectivity will be required.

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Indias external debt declines to US$ 471.9 billion end March 2017
Jun 30,2017

Indias external debt has declined 2.7% US$ 471.9 billion end March 2017 over its level at end March 2016, primarily on account of a decline in Non-resident Indian (NRI) deposits and commercial borrowings. The external debt to GDP ratio stood at 20.2% as at end-March 2017, lower than its level of 23.5% at end-March 2016.

Valuation loss due to depreciation of the US dollar against the Indian rupee was placed at US$ 1.5 billion. Excluding the valuation effect, the decline in external debt would have been US$ 14.6 billion instead of US$ 13.1 billion as at end-March 2017 over the level at end-March 2016.

Commercial borrowings continued to be the largest component of external debt with a share of 36.7%, followed by NRI deposits (24.8%) and short-term trade credit (18.3%).

At end-March 2017, long-term debt was placed at US$ 383.9 billion, recording a decline of US$ 17.7 billion over its level at end-March 2016.

The share of long-term debt in total external debt as at end-March 2017 was 81.4%, lower than 82.8% at end-March 2016.

The share of short-term debt (original maturity) in total external debt increased to 18.6% at end-March 2017 from 17.2% at end-March 2016. The ratio of short-term debt (original maturity) to foreign exchange reserves increased to 23.8% as at end-March 2017 (23.1% at end-March 2016).

On a residual maturity basis, short-term debt constituted 41.5% of total external debt at end-March 2017 (42.7% at end-March 2016) and stood at 52.9% of total foreign exchange reserves (57.4% at end-March 2016).

US dollar denominated debt continued to be the largest component of Indias external debt with a share of 52.1% as at end-March 2017, followed by the Indian rupee (33.6%), SDR (5.8%), Japanese yen (4.6%) and Euro (2.9%).

The borrower classification shows that the outstanding debt of the Government increased; however, non-Government debt declined at end-March 2017.

Debt service payments declined to 8.3% of current receipts as at end-March 2017 as compared with 8.9% at end-March 2016.

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Eight core infrastructure output rises 3.6% May 2017
Jun 30,2017

The output of eight core infrastructure industries, comprising 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), improved 3.6% in May 2017. The cumulative output of eight core infrastructure industries moved up 3.2% in April-May 2017-18.

Coal production (weight: 10.33%) declined by 3.3% in May 2017 over May 2016. Its cumulative index declined by 3.3% during April to May 2017-18 over corresponding period of the previous year.

Crude Oil production (weight: 8.98%) increased by 0.7% in May 2017 over May 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 0.1% during April to May 2017-18 over the corresponding period of previous year.

The Natural Gas production (weight: 6.88%) increased by 4.5% in May 2017 over May 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 3.3% during April to May 2017-18 over the corresponding period of previous year.

Petroleum Refinery production (weight: 28.04%) increased by 5.4% in May 2017 over May 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 2.8% during April to May 2017-18 over the corresponding period of previous year.

Fertilizer production (weight: 2.63%) declined by 6.5% in May 2017 over May 2016. Its cumulative index declined by 0.8% during April to May 2017-18 over the corresponding period of previous year.

Steel production (weight: 17.92%) increased by 3.7% in May 2017 over May 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 6.3% during April to May 2017-18 over the corresponding period of previous year.

Cement production (weight: 5.37%) increased by 1.8% in May 2017 over May 2016. Its cumulative index declined by 0.3% during April to May 2017-18 over the corresponding period of previous year.

Electricity generation (weight: 19.85%) increased by 6.4% in May 2017 over May 2016. Its cumulative index increased by 5.9% during April to May 2017-18 over the corresponding period of previous year.

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Cabinet gives in principle approval for disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries
Jun 29,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval to fourth tranche recommendations of NITI Aayog on strategic disinvestment of CPSE (strategic disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries) based on the recommendations of Core Group of Secretaries on Disinvestment (CGD).

(i) In principle approval for considering strategic disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries.

(ii) Constitution of an Air India-specific Alternative Mechanism headed by Minister of Finance including Minister for Civil Aviation and such other Minister(s) to guide the process on strategic disinvestment from time to time and decide the following:

a. Treatment of unsustainable debt of Air India;

b. Hiving off of certain assets to a shell company;

c. Demerger and strategic disinvestment of three profit-making subsidiaries;

d. The quantum of disinvestment; and

e. The universe of bidders.

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