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Deal with NPAs in flexible, pragmatic way: ASSOCHAM
Jun 12,2017

Reviewing the state of economy, ASSOCHAMs Managing Committee, the top most organ of the apex chamber, has most urgently and strongly impressed upon the government and the RBI to take a pragmatic approach while resolving the complex issue of non-performing assets (NPAs) of the banks so that the same can be nursed back to health and the biggest hurdle to growth is removed.

It also expressed concern that the RBI, in its credit policy review, has missed yet another opportunity to lower the policy interest rates and help revive the industrial and overall economic growth.

n++The national wealth is not segregated into private sector or public sector resources. Whatever the circumstances, most of which beyond the control of the promoters, might have been, all out efforts must be made to resurrect the stressed or non-performing assets. It will be only when a realistic assessment of the state of the stressed or NP assets is done and commercial decisions are taken by the banks or other intermediaries without fear of being haunted that the gigantic problem could be resolved, the ASSOCHAM said, airing the collective views of its Managing Committee comprising countrys top industrial houses, professional bodies and organisations representing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The ASSOCHAM President Mr Sandeep Jajodia said, the terms of different schemes for resolution of the NPAs should be flexible and liberal enough to be accommodative, rather than being rigid. n++Once an account is turned into NPAs, the avenues for working capital are choked which hastens the curtains on the enterprise. Thus, whatever chances are there for survival and revival of a stressed enterprise or a project, are gone once the working capital requirements are not met.

He said there are several incomplete projects, especially in the real estate sector, where the developers have run out of cash at a stage where the projects are almost near completion. With little more cash, the projects can be completed and handed over to those who have booked the same; it could be win : win for all the stakeholders: families or entities which booked the flats or commercial space, developers and the banks. But the banks need to be supportive and the government must encourage them.

He also said, for converting standard account into an NPA, the 90 - day limit for non-payment of interest or principal should not be treated sacrosanct. n++Because, the moment an account becomes an NPA, all finance channels are chocked. Besides, the NPA resolution would also lead to cleaning up of the bank balance sheets. The RBI itself has underscored the need for revival of the banks health and uptick in the private sector investment.

The Managing Committee also said that as indicated by the latest data of GDP for the fourth quarter of the previous fiscal, the NPAs and the lack of private sector investment are the biggest road blocks for the economic growth. Unless we bring a sustainable growth of at least 8-9 per cent across the spectrum, we will not be able to generate jobs; so the stakes are high.

Besides, the interest rates need to come down further with inflation at the retail level staying below three per cent. Moreover, full transmission of the policy rates should be ensured. While the bulk of the deposits have been mobilised by the banks at the CASA (Current Account Saving Account) of 3-4 per cent, most of the borrowers are charged a double digit and plus rates. Such a large gap cannot be justified and are a big drain on the balance sheets which are under heavy leverage.

The top policy making body of the chamber also took note of the July 1 roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax. While, the GST would no doubt be a game-changer for the Indian economy over a medium and long term, the teething troubles cannot be ruled out. The tax authorities have so far been quite supportive and we hope that even after July 1 a friendly approach towards the tax-payers would be followed with a common objective of making GST a success. The unintentional lapses should be dealt with in a friendly manner rather than in an adversarial way.

The chamber also expressed optimism that the Monsoon would be normal this year as well, and the agriculture would remain a major trigger for growth. However, farmers should be equally helped for an overall development of the economy. The policy and fiscal support along with active involvement of the state governments would go a long way in improving the lot of the farmers, the chamber President said.

He also said a close watch needs to be kept on the unfolding and somewhat uncertain geo-political situations in the Middle East, while new situation in the US should be met with new solutions. At the same time, India must also be pro-active in dealing with the post-Brexit scenario both with the United Kingdom and the European Union.

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Depression over northwest & adjoining northeast Bay of Bengal intensified into deep depression and crossed Bangladesh coast
Jun 12,2017

The depression over northwest & adjoining northeast Bay of Bengal moved north-northeastwards with a speed of about 30 kmph in past six hours, intensified into a deep depression and crossed Bangladesh coast near Khepupara between 0430 and 0530 hours IST of today, 12th June 2017. It lay centered near Latitude 22.5n++N and Longitude 90.5n++E over south Bangladesh & neighbourhood about 60 km northeast of Khepupara (Bangladesh) and 170 km south-southwest of Agartala. The system is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards and weaken into a depression during next 12 hours.

Warning:

(i) Heavy Rainfall warning: Rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places is very likely to occur over Assam & Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura during next 24 hours and heavy rainfall at isolated places during subsequent 24 hours. Rainfall at most places with heavy rainfall at isolated places is also very likely to occur over coastal districts of north Odisha and West Bengal during next 24 hours.

(ii) Wind warning: Squally winds speed reaching 50-60 kmph gusting to 70 kmph would prevail along & off north Odisha and West Bengal coast during next 12 hours. Strong winds of order 30-40 kmph gusting to 50 kmph would prevail over Assam & Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura during next 48 hours.

(iii) Sea condition: Sea condition would be very rough along & off north Odisha and West Bengal coasts during next 12 hours.

(iv) Fishermen Warning: Fishermen along & off north Odisha and West Bengal coasts are advised not to venture into sea during the same period.

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Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) signs Agreement with the Metal Industries Development Institute (MIDI), Ethiopia
Jun 12,2017

Keeping in line with Prime Minister Modis stress on stronger and long-term cooperation between African countries and India for mutual benefits in the areas of agriculture, women empowerment, rural development, infrastructure etc., while addressing the annual meeting of African Development Bank at Gujarat recently, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has entered into an agreement with the Metal Industries Development Institute (MIDI), Ethiopia to implement a twinning programme. The same is aimed at R&D capacity building of MIDI. CSIR has clinched this multi-million US dollar assignment through a process where many international organisations were considered. The twinning is one of the largest programs (in terms of contractual amount) between a CSIR institute and a foreign entity. It should also facilitate CSIRs future collaborations with African Organizations.

Dr. Girish Sahni on the occasion said that the knowledgebase of CSIR in the identified areas could be of immense importance for leveraging the technology capacity of African countries. He invited the industry to join hands with CSIR and its counterparts in respective African countries to deploy the technology for benefitting the masses in the region.

The agreement was signed by the Director of National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur (CSIR-NML) on behalf of the participating CSIR Laboratories, and the Director General of Metals Industry Development Institute (MIDI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. CSIR will enhance the capacity and capability of MIDI under the twinning arrangement and thereby enable it to contribute more efficiently towards the development of Metals and Engineering sectors in Ethiopia and thus enhance their competitiveness. The MIDI will be positioned to emerge as a globally competitive center of excellence in the field of Metals and Engineering, through the twinning programme.

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ASSOCHAMs six point growth agenda for State - Study
Jun 12,2017

Apex industry body ASSOCHAM has submitted a six-point innovative five-year-development agenda to the Chief Minister Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath to serve as a quick guide to the areas needing interventions to help new government focuses its energies for growth of the state.

The Action Agenda was jointly prepared by ASSOCHAM and Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI).

The study has recommended a slew of measures for making Uttar Pradesh a vibrant economy with a focus on skill development, agriculture, horticulture, handicraft, handloom, leather and leather products.

Suggesting an economic road map for the next five years to the Yogi Adityanath Government, the study noted that the net migration of people in the age-group of 20-29 years was found to be 58,34,000 between 2001-11 up from 29,55,000 in 1991-2001. The net migration is more than double that of the next state in the pan-India list - Bihar. Besides, it is not always that only illiterate and labour class migrate; often highly skilled talents are also lost to migration.

Monitoring and management centres of the State Skill Development Mission should be set up at district level. Focus of skilling programme should be on high growth areas such as agriculture, building and constructions, handloom and handicraft, food processing, healthcare, leather and unorganised sector - beauty culture, security guards, facility management etc, adds the paper.

District-specific policies for skilling and livelihood generation in migration-hit regions should be formulated. Focus of skilling should be on trades in which they gain employment outside the state construction, (ii) organised retail, (iii)transportation (drivers) to help them gain competitive advantage, highlighted the study.

Economic growth of Uttar Pradesh is critical for India since it is the most populous state as well as home to the most number of poor - 17% of the total population and 22% of the total poor (Census 2011). An economically stronger Uttar Pradesh with its huge market can be an engine of growth for rest of the country.

The states economic growth (GSDP) has been, for most of the time in the past decade, lower than the national average. This lower growth has been accompanied with a higher population growth. Its decadal growth in population between 1991 and 2001 was 25.8%, as against the national average of 21.3% and that between 2001 and 2011, it was 20.9% against the national average of 17.64%, noted the study.

If we look at the sectoral composition of GSDP, it is the services sector which drives the growth and contributes about 60% to the total income. This is followed by agriculture and allied activities, contributing more than 20%. The industries contribute the least, reflecting poor industrial activities in the state.

There is, therefore, a need to rework the states strategies towards improving public investment and encourage private participation in agriculture and allied activities. Not only is there need to catch up with the higher productivity level of Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu in food grains by providing improved seeds, training farmers to adopt modern and scientific practices, but there is also a need to pay attention to neglected crops like sugar, maize, groundnut, fruits and vegetables in terms of availability of improved seeds and marketing facilities. Promoting bio-technology and genetic engineering could help. Since farming is rain-dependent, the priority should be to develop community-based surface water irrigation.

The states industrial sector is driven by the small and medium scale industries - contributing about 60% of total manufacturing output and significant employment (about 60 lakhs). The states strategy of setting up industrial clusters has produced rich dividend and should be continued. However, poor marketing linkages and skill level are lingering concerns which needs to be addressed. Common skilling centres for a group of product cluster in modern design, production management, sales and marketing, inventory management and soft skills would help.

The state should also focus on the development of integrated industrial towns (NIMZs) in Auraiya and Jhansi,setting up of Dadri-Noida-Ghaziabad Investment Region, IT Investment Region (ITIR) along Agra-Lucknow expressway and mega food park in Jagdishpur - all are either proposed or cleared. More such projects could be taken up.

Finance is a major concern, especially for SSIs and MSMEs, since long term loans are not available in the existing financing channels. There is a need to revive the erstwhile state industrial development corporations. FDI inflows have been meagre, in comparison to states like Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka and Gujarat. It is important that the state studies the FDI policies of those states and tweaks its own policies accordingly and take steps to improve ease of doing business to attract more investment.

The services sector has been doing well and driving the states growth but there is a greater potential to grow, especially in education and health services, given the poor state of affairs in these areas. The budget allocations need to at least double to catch up with the rest of India in terms of coverage. Low literacy base, high drop out of students, poor student-teacher ratio and lack of adequate higher education institutions should be addressed by roping in private and voluntary sectors.

Tourism is another area in which growth prospects are high but require significant investments. Encouraging private sector to build hotels, recreation facilities and development of civic facilities in existing tourist destinations and developing new tourist centres to attract tourists to religious and historical places and wildlife sanctuaries/parks could pay rich dividend.

Infrastructure has emerged as a major constraint for growth. The states power shortage was highest in India in 2015-16 (12.5%). The per capita consumption of power is nearly half the national average. The state needs to revisit its 2009 energy policy to bring greater participation of the private sector, improve transmission and distribution through modernisation and cut in AT&C loss (about 50%). Efforts should also be made to complete the ongoing projects since about 68% of all power sector investment are under implementation stage.

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Punjab should invite top global universities, focus on food processing, industrial hubs, says ASSOCHAM in presentation to CM
Jun 12,2017

Offering itself to be a Value Partner in the development of Punjab, ASSOCHAM suggested to the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh that tens of thousands of students, boys and girls migrating abroad for quality higher education can be provided the top global standards of learning here, if well known foreign universities, particularly from the US, Canada and UK are roped in to set up their campuses in India.

n++We have suggested that since not all students aspiring for quality education can afford to go abroad and there are limited number of A-grade institutions within the country and the state, Punjab should take a lead and collaborate with some top foreign universities, preferably from the Canada, UK and the US,n++ ASSOCHAM president Mr Sandeep Jajodia said after his meeting with Captain Amarinder Singh along with chambers secretary general, Mr D S Rawat, Chairmen of ASSOCHAM Regional Council Mr. A S Mittal and ASSOCHAM Punjab State Committee, Mr. Suneet Kochhar here today.

n++We should allow them to set up full-fledged campuses here, which would mean that the best of education can be imparted within the country at one-third or one-fourth of the cost which is spent by the aspiring students,n++ he said.

n++Though the policy parameters for opening doors for foreign universities largely fall within the purview of the Centre, states like Punjab can take a lead in working with the Union Government to bring the best of the foreign universities within the country,n++ added Mr Jajodia.

n++The favourite destinations for students and young professionals are Canada, the USA, UK and other European countries. While, the state surely gets remittances, those choosing to stay within the country and the state are bereft of adequate opportunities in upgrading their skills, education and gainful employment,n++ he said further.

Supplementing the point, ASSOCHAM secretary general, Mr Rawat said, n++Quality education would open up several opportunities and lead to industries, especially those in high-end manufacturing, agro-industries, food processing, information technology, health services, financial services to invest in Punjab.n++

The ASSOCHAM chief said there are several other areas which give distinctive advantage to Punjab and in all these areas, the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can be roped in to be part of the overall supply chain, rather than operate in isolated manner.

For instance, the organised retail need not always be big time hyper stores; the neighbourhood kirana shops can become part of a well-integrated supply chain with the help of modern IT applications. Likewise, SME traders and manufacturers of textiles in Ludhiana need to remodel their businesses with the help of the state government and policy support of the Centre, in terms of becoming more cost competitive and quality-oriented.

n++If gainfully utilised, the biggest resource for Punjab is its youth who need employment outside agriculture into different sectors viz., industry, trade, health, education, transportation, food processing, dairy products and tourism. All these sectors need a re-look and infrastructure support along with friendly policy environment,n++ Mr Jajodia said.

Sectors like food processing and dairy products would be transformational for the farmers and entire rural landscape. Besides cooperatives, the private sector entrepreneurs should be involved in the value-additions in the entire agri-chain. n++Here, there are some examples to be replicated by the successful NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) who can be roped in to look back and handhold the budding entrepreneurs.n++

n++The traditional industrial hubs like Jallandhar should be given a lift-up with liberal infrastructure support, particularly for SMEs. These cities can be catalysts again for re-invigorating the industrial development while cities like Patiala should reach out to top notch foreign universities. While the policy has to be dealt largely with the Central Government, Captain Saheb can take up the issue with New Delhi and get the policy re-aligned. In the process, not only Punjab but other states would also gain,n++ said the ASSOCHAM president.

When it comes to the states agricultural economy, water management is key. It appears to be a somewhat paradox that while Punjab is considered to be a land of rivers, its dependence on groundwater has been rather excessive, leaving the negative fall-outs like toxicity. The state should work closely with the Centre and work out some large irrigation and water management projects which can help both the hinterland as also cities for the drinking water.

On tourism, while religious tourism is on top the chart, with Punjab being the land of the revered Gurus and the holiest Golden Temple, the state can become a major centre of other opportunities like conferences, conventions including those from the government agencies and India Inc.

Cities like Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jallandhar, Mohali should be promoted for organising meetings, conferences by the private sector companies. ASSOCHAM would like to work with the state government in this regard.

Mr Jajodia said ASSOCHAM would be happy to partner with the Punjab Government to hold Invest in Punjab events supported by expositions in different sectors.

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SATH program launched by NITI Aayog
Jun 12,2017

Furthering the agenda for cooperative federalism, NITI Aayog has launched SATH, a program providing Sustainable Action for Transforming Human capital with the State Governments. The vision of the program is to initiate transformation in the education and health sectors. The program addresses the need expressed by many states for technical support from NITI .

SATH aims to identify and build three future role model states for health systems. NITI will work in close collaboration with their state machinery to design a robust roadmap of intervention, develop a program governance structure, set up monitoring and tracking mechanisms, hand-hold state institutions through the execution stage and provide support on a range of institutional measures to achieve the end objectives. The program will be implemented by NITI along with McKinsey & Company and IPE Global consortium, who were selected through a competitive bidding process.

To select the three model states, NITI defined a three-stage process - expression of interest, presentations by the states and assessment of commitment to health sector reforms. NITI invited all states and UTs to participate in the program. Sixteen states expressed prima facie interest, of which fourteen made their presentations. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh presented their project proposal to a Committee headed by Member of NITI Aayog, Shri Bibek Debroy and comprising of CEO, Amitabh Kant as well as a representative from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Of these fourteen states, five have been shortlisted. Subsequently, three will be selected on the basis of further evaluations and objective assessment of criteria affecting the potential for impact and likelihood of success. Metrics such as MMR, IMR, incidence of malaria and others have been considered for determining potential impact while density of doctors and nurses, compliance to IPHS norms are some of the metrics used to determine likelihood of success. The program will be launched in the three selected states after the signing of MoUs.

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DGFT creates GST Facilitation Cell for exporters
Jun 12,2017

DGFT has constituted a GST facilitation cell in DGFT Headquarters to assist and advice exporters , trade and industry for smooth transition from present regime to GST regime w.e.f. 1st July 2017.The GST facilitation cell is headed by Mr Nikunj Kumar Srivastava, Add DGFT and comprises two other officers Mr Rakesh Kumar Joint DGFT(r.kumar73@nic.in), Mr Kaushlendra Pratap Singh Deputy DGFT(Kaushlendrap.singh@nic.in. Exporters can email their queries concerning GST and pertaining to FTP.

Similarly all regional offices of DGFT have constituted GST facilitation cell and the cell would headed by head of the regional office i.e. Add DGFT/ Joint DGFT with other two officers of the rank of Deputy DGFTor Asst DGFT.

Recently, DG, DGFT also convened a meeting of stakeholders (FIEO/ trade/ industry) on 9 th June to understand the issues being faced by them in GST system. These issues have been taken up with department of revenue and GSTN, who have informed that most of the issues have already been resolved.

Earlier, DGFT, jointly with FIEO, had also organised an outreach program on 2nd June, 2017 to educate the exporters about GST regime. This program was attended by large number of exporters. Shri Ajay Bhalla, Director General DGFT himself addressed the exporters and explained them about all aspects of GST including benefits that will accrue to them because of automatic and quick refund of all taxes paid on inputs. DG also responded to many queries of the exporters regarding various export promotion schemes, filing of GST returns and claiming refund. Shri Tejpal singh, Addl DG, DGEP and Shri Yoginder Garg commissioner customs were also present in the workshop, who made detailed presentation on GST.

It may be noted that earlier Department of Commerce had announced to align the mid-term review of Foreign Trade Policy with roll out of GST for the convenience of exporters and industry.

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IT, ITeS reach plateau in job creation; real estate, retail may drive employment: ASSOCHAM
Jun 12,2017

The IT and ITeS has almost reached a plateau in new job creation and may add, at best one million jobs in the next five years, whereas the real employment opportunities lie in less fancy areas of building, construction and real estate, followed by skill based and daily user- oriented sectors like beauty and wellness, according to an ASSOCHAM- Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI) Paper.

Another sector with high employment potential listed by the study is the organised retail while transportation and logistics too holds a good potential.

The IT and ITeS which is under pressure at present, in any case, was to expand at lesser pace in the job creation. On the employment base of 3.3 million in 2013, the much-touted sector had an incremental human resource requirement of 2.2 million by 2022, of which about one million have been added in the last three-four years.

So, net-net, the potential for new jobs in the sector is about one million, that too over a period of next five years. In any case, the IT and ITeS is going through fresh challenges of technology upgradation, automation, visa restrictions in the US and increasing skill gaps. Thus, as a country which requires at least 15-20 million jobs a year, we need to look quite broader and at those areas which expand not only in the export market but also within the country, said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat.

Mapping the job potential, the Paper found that on the employment base of 45.4 million in 2013, the building, construction and real estate (including infrastructure) would require 31.1 million incremental human resources. As the sector has been going through challenging times in the last two-three years, not much of job addition would have taken place. Thus, this is one sector of the economy which can revive the sentiment and the job scenario, if given some support.

The sector has been the worst hit because multiple factors including high level debts and non-performing assets, delays in delivery of housing projects, and environmental and regulatory hurdles. We need to get these issues out of the way and refine and re-align it in a manner that it becomes a robust and an engine of job creation and economic growth, the chamber Secretary General said.

Likewise, with still a low level of organised retail, the sector which contributes maximum to the economy, it is dominated by the unorganised players who suffer from several operational inefficiencies. The sector, again, can create incremental level of at least 10-12 million new jobs in the next five years.

Textiles and clothing can also be a potential area of job creation, the paper said, underscoring the need for skill upgradation in all those sectors of the economy which are largely focussed on domestic demand.

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Tele-Law through CSCs To Mainstream Legal Aid in Rural India
Jun 12,2017

- The pilot to be rolled out across 1000 Common Service Centres (CSC) in Uttar Pradesh & Bihar

- This initiative will also serve as an opportunity to build capacity of 1000 women Para Legal Volunteers (PLV)

- Training of VLEs across 1000 Common Service Centres (CSC) able to effectively operationalize the tele- law services

In its effort to make legal aid easily accessible to the marginalized communities and citizens living in rural areas, the Government of India has launched the Tele-Law. The Ministry of Law and Justice partnered with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), which anchors the Digital India programme, to provide legal aid services through its Common Service Centres (CSC) at the panchayat level, spread across the country. In the first phase, the Tele-Law scheme will be tested as a pilot across 500 Common service Centres (CSC) in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to understand the challenges and make necessary corrections to the scheme before it is scaled up and rolled out across the country in a phased manner.

Under the scheme, a portal called Tele-Law will be launched, which will be available across the Common Service Centre (CSC) network. This will connect the citizens to legal service providers with the help of technology enabled platforms. Tele-Law will enable people to seek legal advice from lawyers through video conferencing available at the Common Service Centres (CSC). Additionally, law school clinics, District Legal Service Authorities, voluntary service providers and Non-Government Organisations working on legal aid and empowerment can also be connected through the CSCs anywhere and anytime, in order to strengthen access to justice for the marginalized communities. The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) will provide a panel of lawyers from State capitals, who will be available through video conferencing to provide legal advice and counselling to the applicants, across the 1000 Common Service Centres (CSC). A robust monitoring and evaluation system is also being designed which will help in assessing the quality of legal advice provided and the ensuing benefit to those accessing it.

Announcing, the launch of Tele-Law, Honble Minister for Electronics, IT, Law and Justice, Shri. Ravi Shankar Prasad said, n++I am extremely happy to have launched the Tele Law, the legal aid to poor through which will be made available through the Common Services Centers. Tele-Law will fulfill our commitment to ensure access to justice & empowerment of the poor. The Common Services Centers and Para Legal Volunteers will offer easy legal advice to litigants in rural India making them digitally and financially inclusive.n++

In addition to this, under this scheme, every Common Service Centre (CSC) will engage a Para Legal Volunteer (PLV), who will be the first point of contact for the rural citizens and will help them in understanding the legal issues, explain the advice given by lawyers and assist in further action required in cases as per the advice of the lawyer. Women PLVs will be encouraged and trained under the Scheme. One thousand women PLVs will work for mainstreaming legal aid services through the CSCs. The aim is to promote women entrepreneurship and empowerment and ensure women participation. The selected PLVs will also be provided with relevant training to fulfil their responsibilities effectively.

A trained PLV will be available in a CSC for ten days in a month under the Scheme. These PLVs will help the applicant connect with a lawyer through the video conferencing facility at the CSC and will keep a track of the progress of the applicants cases and grievances and maintain a record. They will also submit the records maintained to the District Legal Service Authority every week. The National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) will provide a panel of lawyers who will be sitting in the State capitals and will be available through video conferencing to provide legal advice/counselling to the applicant at the CSCs.

This scheme comes as a continuation to the Access to Justice Project for Marginalized Persons which is being implemented by Department of Justice and United Nation Development Programme (UNDP). The Access to Justice Project partnered with CSC-E-governance Services India Limited to mainstream legal literacy through common service centres in Jharkhand (10 CSCs in 3 districts) and then through 500 CSCs across 11 districts in Rajasthan. Under the program, 500 VLEs in Rajasthan were trained on social justice legislations such as fundamental rights, the right to information, citizen rights vis-n++-vis policing, gender laws, child rights and labour laws.

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Preliminary Report of Crop Coverage in the Kharif Season
Jun 09,2017

Preliminary reports of crop coverage in the Kharif season have started coming in. The total sown area as on 9th June 2017, as per reports received from States, stands at 81.33 lakh hectare as compared to 72.31 lakh hectare at this time last year. 

It is reported that rice has been sown/transplanted in 5.51 lakh ha, pulses in 1.64 lakh ha, sugarcane in 47.39 lakh hectare and cotton in 14.06 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 2016-17Rice5.514.52Pulses1.641.20Coarse Cereals4.593.89Oilseeds1.270.94Sugarcane47.3944.82Jute & Mesta6.887.07Cotton14.069.88Total81.3372.31

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New Projects Inaugurated at Kamarajar Port in Tamil Nadu
Jun 09,2017

The Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways Shri Nitin Gadkari has said that an investment of Rs 2 lakh 50000 crore is being made in Tamil Nadu under Sagarmala. Of this Rs.39,000 crore will be for port modernization, Rs.55,000 crore for port connectivity and Rs.1,50,000 crore for port led industrialization. The minister said this at Kamarajar Port in Chennai, where he inaugurated several new projects.

The projects include a New Container Terminal worth Rs.1270 crore, a new multi cargo terminal worth Rs.151 crores, Railway line to Container and Multi cargo terminal worth Rs. 60 crore, and RFID system worth Rs.11.82 crore. Shri Gadkari said the work being done under Sagarmala is estimated to create about 2 lakh direct jobs in the state in the next two years.

The Development of New Container Terminal project will provide more container handling facility for traders, it will also facilitate the new industries and ancillaries in the vicinity of the port, provide new job opportunities and will give boost to local economy.

The development of New Cargo Terminal project will provide more multi -cargo handling facility for traders, the new industries and ancillaries in the vicinity of the port and will boost the local economy. The New Container Terminal will also provide job opportunities.

The Rail Connectivity to Container and Multi Cargo Terminal project will improve cargo movement through rail route. The terminal will also reduce the logistic cost and reduce the load on roads and decongest the nearby roads for the benefit of general public.

The implementation of RFID System project will enhance the Ease of doing Business for traders. The RFID system will lead to reduction of time and congestion in cargo traffic and enhance the port operations.

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GST Council constitutes 18 Sectoral Groups for smooth roll-out of GST
Jun 09,2017

As decided in the 14th Meeting of the GST Council held on 18th-19th May, 2017 in Srinagar, J&K, 18 Sectoral Groups have been constituted representing various sectors of the economy in order to ensure smooth roll-out of GST. These 18 Sectoral Groups representing various sectors of the economy and containing Senior Officers of the Centre and the States are being set-up to ensure smooth implementation of GST by timely responding to the issues and problems of their respective Sector(s).

In fact, they are being with the following objectives:

i) Interact and examine representations received from trade and industry associations/bodies of their respective sector.

ii) Highlight specific issues for the smooth transition of the respective sector to the GST regime.

iii) Prepare sector specific draft guidance.

These Sectoral Working Groups consist of Senior Officers from the Centre and the States.

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Ind-Ra: Capital Expenditure May be the Soft Target to Accommodate Maharashtra Farm Loan Waiver
Jun 09,2017

The Maharashtra farm loan waiver of INR 300 billion for small and marginal farmers will push up states fiscal deficit to 2.71% (budgeted: 1.53%) in FY18 of gross state domestic product (GSDP) and in order to manage the elevated debt levels the state could reduce expenditure on capital formation, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Ind-Ra believes the loan waiver is likely to reduce the fiscal space for the government to undertake higher capital expenditure over the medium-term, thus affecting its medium-term growth prospects.

Ind-Ra estimates that the debt/GSDP will rise to 17.44% against the budgeted 16.26% in FY18. Ind-Ra assesses the impact however will depend on whether the entire loan waiver is absorbed in FY18 or is staggered over a period of three to four years.

The Chief Minister of Maharashtra has promised a farm loan waiver of INR300 billion to small and marginal farmers of the state on 4 June 2017. Ind-Ra opines that the pressure on Maharashtras fiscal position would be less intensive if the debt waiver is absorbed in the state finances in a staggered manner. Ind-Ra estimates the fiscal deficit to increase by 29.5bp to 1.82% of GSDP in FY18 if the loan waiver is phased equally (INR75 billion) over a four-year period. In this scenario, the fiscal deficit/GSDP is estimated to increase by 22bps-27bps over FY19-FY21. However, despite fiscal deficit expansion, it is likely to remain within the 14th Finance Commissions prescribed limit of 3% of GSDP.

Ind-Ra estimates debt/GSDP to increase to 17.44% in FY18 (with entire waived amount absorbed in FY18) as against the budgeted 16.26%. The state has budgeted debt stock at INR4,129.92 billion for FY18. With the loan waiver, this will rise to INR4,429.92 billion. Ind-Ra believes that the elevated debt levels will raise concern that the state could reduce expenditure on capital formation. The share of capital expenditure in total expenditure averaged 16.6% during FY10-FY17 (revised estimate). Deficits in the revenue account persisted during this period due to large interest payments. Interest payment (INR341.27 billion) to revenue expenditure ratio is budgeted at 13.75% for FY18. The state government has budgeted capex at 15.21% of total expenditure in FY18.

This is the second farm waiver announced by a state this year after Uttar Pradesh and farmers in states namely Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Tamil Nadu are also demanding similar waivers.

Ind-Ra had highlighted in the report the negative implication that debt waivers have on credit culture. The debt waiver announced can significantly impact the credit culture among the agriculture communities in other states. More importantly demand for debt waiver may also come in from other states as well. The waivers may mask the delinquencies for the time being. Nevertheless, it carries the risk of significantly impairing asset quality going forward. The unintended outcome of this could be reduced availability of credit to the farmers from banks, forcing them to resort to the unorganised lending sector.

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Water level of 91 Major Reservoirs of the country goes down by One per cent
Jun 09,2017

The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on June 08, 2017 was 31.862 BCM, which is 20% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This percentage was at 21 for the week ending on June 01, 2017. The level of June 08, 2017 was 130% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 107% of storage of average of last ten years.

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

REGION WISE STORAGE STATUS:-

NORTHERN REGION

The northern region includes States of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. There are 6 reservoirs under Central Water Commission (CWC) monitoring having total live storage capacity of 18.01 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 4.72 BCM which is 26% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 22% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 28% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is better than the corresponding period of last year but is less than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

EASTERN REGION

The Eastern region includes States of Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Tripura. There are 15 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 18.83 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 4.31 BCM which is 23% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 18% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 17% 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.

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 6.00 BCM which is 22% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 12% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 21% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is better than the storage of last year and is also better 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 13.04 BCM which is 31% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 20% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 17% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is better than the storage of last year and is also better than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

SOUTHERN REGION

The Southern region includes States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states) Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. There are 31 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 51.59 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 3.79 BCM which is 7 % of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 10% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 17% 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, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Tripura, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana. States having equal storage than last year for corresponding period are AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states). States having lesser storage than last year for corresponding period are Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

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India announces mounting of a National Mission on advanced ultra supercritical technologies for cleaner coal utilization
Jun 09,2017

India announces mounting a National Mission on advanced ultra supercritical technologies for cleaner coal utilisation at a total cost of US $ 238 million and setting up of two Centres of Excellence on Clean Coal Technologies at US $5 million each. In its quest for cleaner fuels, a National Mission on methanol and di-methyl ether is being mounted. A new centre on solar photovoltaic, thermal storage and solar fuels research has been approved ~ US $ 5 million. Funding opportunities have been announced in the area of energy storage, clean coal, waste water treatment amounting to US $ 10 million. This announcement was made at the 2ndMission Innovation Ministerial and 8th Clean Energy Ministerial at Beijing, China.

India also announced two MI-centric Funding Opportunities in Smart Grid and Offgrid Access at US $ 5 million each. Joint virtual Clean Energy Centre with UK and Indian Government funding of UK n++ 5 million each has been initiated. Under the Indo - USJoint Clean Energy Research (PACE - R) the new collaborative public - private programme on Smart Grids & Energy Storage has been approved. India has also embarked upon a joint programme on renewable energy with Norway

Energy Ministers from 23 Nations with 80% of Clean Energy Investments and 75% of GHG Emission met on June 6-8, 2017 at Beijing, China to focus on Advancing Clean Energy Cooperation and Implementing Paris Agreement Commitments

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also participated alongwith 4 other Ministers in a roundtable on n++Accelerating innovation via public-private synergies, n++Getting to the Future Faster: Accelerating Innovation in Clean Energy Technology through Public and Private Collaborationn++, which considered the roles of the private and public sectors in the innovation ecosystem, synergies between the two, and successful models for feeding the innovation pipeline and accelerating outcomes.

The Minister held a successful bilateral meeting with US Secretary Rick Perry. Joint collaboration in clean energy was discussed to widen new areas of research cooperation in clean coal, carbon capture and accessible and affordable water. These areas will be in addition to strengthening ongoing partnerships under PACE-R. A new partnership in india-US clean energy was also discussed,

Eighteen months ago on 30th November 2015, leaders of 20 countries came together to launch Mission Innovation (MI), a landmark 5-year commitment to accelerate the pace of innovation and make clean energy widely affordable and accessible worldwide. MI now comprises 22 economies and the European Commission, representing the European Union, and collectively accounts for more than 80 percent of the worlds total public financing of clean energy R&D.

Mission Innovation developed and launched 7 Innovation Challenges in November 2016. These Innovation Challenges focus on selected technical area where MI members believe increased international attention would make a significant impact. India is Co-leading three Challenges - Smart Grid, Off Grid Access and Sustainable Biofuels. Minister Harsh Vardhan released the India Action Plan for next 3 years

Energy ministers and other high-level delegates from all MI member governments participated in a business meeting on June 7 to discuss plans, progress, country highlights, and preview a series of public announcements on selected areas of joint cooperation.

Ministers and delegates gave their encouragement to carrying out an MI Action Plan. This Plan highlights a number of priority areas for cooperative work, as identified by MI members who have opted-in, in joint research, business and investor engagement and information sharing.

India informed that two MI-India Workshops were organized on 22-23 May, 2017 on Innovation Challenge (IC#1) on Smart Grids and Innovation Challenge ( IC#2) Offgrid access to electricity at New Delhi., India which identified possible topics of co-operation with MI countries. India also launched MI-India funding opportunity of US $ 5 million each for achieving objectives envisaged in both these Innovation Challenges.

India announced its plan for hosting a MI Sustainable Biofuel Innovation Challenge Workshop in December, 2017 in New Delhi, India in collaboration with Biofuture platform.

The increased focus on Innovation by both public and private sectors is expected to give rise to new and advanced technologies, performance breakthroughs, and significant cost reductions. These, in turn, will create opportunities for new industries and jobs and expand markets for reliable and clean energy - for both production and demand. The lower costs will spur economic growth and accelerate market uptake, enabling the realization of the benefits of accessible, reliable and affordable clean energy worldwide.

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