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India to Supply Additional 80 MW of Power to Nepal from 1st January 2017
Jan 02,2017

From the first day of the new year, 1st January, 2017, additional power transfer of 80MW to Nepal is expected to commence. With this, the total supply of electricity to Nepal from India will be about 400 MW.

Shri Janardan Sharma, Minister of Energy, Government of Nepal, in a recent visit to India, held discussions with Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Government of India. Besides reviewing cooperation and expanding ties between the two countries in the power/energy sector, Minister of Energy of Nepal requested for an additional supply of 80 MW from India to alleviate power shortage in Nepal due to seasonal reduction in supply from domestic hydro projects in winter months.

In a swift response to this request, within a period of 20 days, the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) installed an additional 220/132kV, 100MVA transformer at Muzaffarpur substation in India. This transformer will facilitate additional power supply up to 80MW to Nepal through the Muzaffarpur (India) - Dhalkebar (Nepal) transmission line. With this augmentation, a total of 160 MW can now be supplied to Nepal through this transmission line.

The electrical grids of India and Nepal are connected through various radial lines at 132kV, 33kV and 11kV voltage levels. Prior to February 2016, as per the request received from Nepal from time to time, various short-term augmentation schemes were carried out which resulted in enhancement of power flow to Nepal from 50MW to about 240MW.

In February 2016, Prime Ministers of India and Nepal inaugurated the first high capacity 400kV cross-border line, initially being operated at 132kV, from Muzaffarpur in India to Dhalkebar in Nepal. This had resulted in additional flow of 80 MW, enhancing the total power supply to Nepal to about 320MW.

The Muzaffapur - Dhalkebar line is planned to be charged at 220kV with the commissioning of 220kV Dhalkebar substation in Nepal by March 2017. This will facilitate additional 150 MW of power transfer to Nepal. This would be followed by commissioning of 400 kV substation at Dhalkebar (Nepal), which would enable operation of Muzaffarpur - Dhalkebar 400 kV DC line at its rated voltage, leading to increase in power transfer to Nepal by 300-400 MW.

India is also working with Nepal to supply power through two more radial 132kV lines viz. Raxaul-Parwanipur and Kataiya-Kushaha, which are being commissioned through the grant assistance of Government of India.

India, through PGCIL, has also assisted Nepal in preparation of electricity Master Plan for Nepal- short term (up to 2018-19), medium term (up to 2021-22) and long term (up to 2035). Accordingly, a number of high capacity cross-border interconnections are being considered between India and Nepal. Initially, these interconnections would be utilized for transfer of power from India to Nepal and later with the development of hydro projects in Nepal, these links would be utilized for transfer of surplus power from Nepal to India.

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Rabi Crops Sowing Crosess 582 Lakh Hactare
Dec 30,2016

As per preliminary reports received from the States, the total area sown under Rabi crops as on 30th December, 2016 stands at 582.87 lakh hectares as compared to 545.46 lakh hectare this time in 2015.

Wheat has been sown/transplanted in 292.39 lakh hectares, rice in 10.68 lakh hectares, pulses in 148.11 lakh hectares, coarse cereals in 52.21 lakh hectares and area sown under oilseeds is 79.48 lakh hectares.

The area sown so far and that sown during last year this time is as follows:

Lakh hectare 

CropArea sown in 2016-17Area sown in 2015-16Wheat292.39271.46Rice10.6814.77Pulses148.11131.12Coarse Cereals52.2156.29Oilseeds79.4871.83Total582.87545.46

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India and Singapore Sign a Third Protocol for Amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)
Dec 30,2016

India and Singapore have amended the DTAA for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income, by signing a Third Protocol today. This is in line with Indias treaty policy to prevent double non-taxation, curb revenue loss and check the menace of black money through automatic exchange of information, as reflected in Indias recently revised treaties with Mauritius and Cyprus and the joint declaration signed with Switzerland.

The Protocol for amendment of the India-Mauritius Convention signed on 10th May, 2016, provides for source-based taxation of capital gains arising from alienation of shares acquired from 1st April, 2017 in a company resident in India. Simultaneously, investments made before 1st April, 2017 have been grandfathered and will not be subject to capital gains taxation in India. Where such capital gains arise during the transition period from 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2019, the tax rate will be limited to 50% of the domestic tax rate of India. However, the benefit of 50% reduction in tax rate during the transition period shall be subject to the Limitation of Benefits Article. Taxation in India at full domestic tax rate will take place from financial year 2019-20 onwards.

The revised DTAA between India and Cyprus signed on 18th November, 2016, provides for source based taxation of capital gains arising from alienation of shares, instead of residence based taxation provided under the DTAA signed in 1994. However, a grandfathering clause has been provided for investments made prior to 1st April, 2017, in respect of which capital gains would continue to be taxed in the country of which taxpayer is a resident. It also provides for assistance between the two countries for collection of taxes and updates the provisions related to Exchange of Information to accepted international standards.

Fighting the menace of Black Money stashed in offshore accounts has been a key priority area for the Government. To further this goal, the Joint Declaration for the implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) between India and Switzerland was signed in November, 2016. It will now be possible for India to receive from September, 2019 onwards, the financial information of accounts held by Indian residents in Switzerland for 2018 and subsequent years, on an automatic basis.

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

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

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Awareness about Copyrights pertaining to Film and TV Industry emphasised to counter piracy
Dec 30,2016

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) convened a meeting of Stakeholders including producers from film and TV industry to discuss copyright and related issues concerning the industry on 28 December 2016. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Rajiv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary

The Department appreciated the efforts being initiated by the Telangana Intellectual Property Crime Unit (TIPCU) to curb piracy of copyright protected material and expressed the need to adopt this model by other states also to check this menace within their respective jurisdiction. The participants also expressed their views on various provisions of the Copyright Law and their effective implementation to counter piracy. The department exhorted the industry to undertake measures to create awareness in the general public, especially the youth, about piracy and its ill-effects.

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Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare decides to extend cut-off date for crop insurance during Rabi 2016-17 under PMFBY up to 10 January 2017
Dec 30,2016

The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare keeping in view the difficulties faced by the farmers in obtaining crop insurance during Rabi 2016-17 under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) due to demonetization of old currency notes, the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare to protect the interest of farmers, has decided to extend the cut-off date up to 10th January, 2017 for enrolment of non loanee farmers/debit of premium from eligible crop loan account/Kisan Credit Card of loanee farmers under PMFBY. Now the farmers who could not insure their crops due to demonetization can get their crops insured till 10th January, 2017.

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Indias External Debt at end-September 2016 stock stood at US$ 484.3 billion
Dec 30,2016

n++ At end-September 2016, Indias external debt stock stood at US$ 484.3 billion, recording a decline of US$ 0.8 billion (0.2 per cent) over the level at end-March 2016. The fall in external debt during the period was due to commercial borrowings and short term external debt. However, on a sequential basis, total external debt at end-September 2016 increased by US$ 4,768 million from the end-June 2016 level.

n++ The maturity pattern of Indias external debt indicates dominance of long-term borrowings. At end-September 2016, long-term external debt accounted for 83.2 per cent of Indias total external debt, while the remaining (16.8 per cent) was short-term external debt.

n++ Long-term debt at end-September 2016 was placed at US$ 403.1 billion, showing an increase of US$ 1.4 billion (0.4 per cent) over the level at end-March 2016. Short-term external debt witnessed a decline of 2.6 per cent and stood at US$ 81.2 billion at end-September 2016.

n++ Valuation loss (depreciation of US dollar against the Indian rupee and most other major currencies) was placed at US$ 1.0 billion. This implies that excluding the valuation effect, the decrease in debt would have been higher by US$ 1.8 billion at end-September 2016 over the end-March 2016 level.

n++ The shares of Government (Sovereign) and non-Government debt in the total external debt were 20.1 per cent and 79.9 per cent respectively, at end-September 2016.

n++ US dollar denominated debt accounted for 55.6 per cent of Indias total external debt at end-September 2016, followed by Indian rupee (30.1 per cent), SDR (5.8 per cent), Japanese Yen (4.8 per cent) Pound Sterling (0.7 per cent), Euro (2.4 per cent) and others (0.6 per cent).

n++ The ratio of short-term external debt by original maturity to foreign exchange reserves stood at 21.8 per cent at end-September 2016 lower than the 22.6 per cent at end June 2016 and 23.1 per cent at end-March 2016.

n++ On a residual maturity basis, short-term debt constituted 42.0 per cent of total external debt at end-September 2016 (42.4 per cent at end-June 2016 and 42.6 per cent at end-March 2016) and stood at 54.7 per cent of total foreign exchange reserves (55.9 per cent at end-June 2016 and 57.4 per cent at end-March 2016).

n++ The ratio of concessional debt to total external debt was 9.4 per cent at end-September 2016, same as at end-June 2016 and a marginal increase from the 9.0 per cent at end-March 2016.

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Sugar mills produce about 66 Lakh MT of sugar so far
Dec 30,2016

During the current Sugar Season 2016-17, the sugar mills of the country have commenced the crushing operation smoothly and have produced about 66 Lakh MT of sugar so far. The sugar production is expected to be about 22.5 million MT by the end of the season. With a carryover stock of 7.71 million MT, the total availability of sugar is sufficient to meet the estimated domestic requirement of about 25 mMT. The stock position at the close of the current sugar season (Sept. 2017) is likely to be 5.21 mMT which will be carried forward for the next sugar season 2017-18.

Further, the sugar production in the next sugar season (2017-18) is expected to be good and is likely to start early and therefore there will be no shortage of domestically produced sugar in India. By November 2017, another 2 mMT would be available from early crushing. The government has taken necessary steps to maintain sufficient stocks in the country and keep the sugar prices under control.

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Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme- 2016 extended up to 31st January 2017
Dec 30,2016

In view of the representations received from various stakeholders and for the convenience of the taxpayers, the last date for availing the Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme, 2016 (the Scheme) has been extended up to 31st January 2017. The scheme was to close on 31st December 2016.

In order to reduce the pending litigation, the Scheme was introduced by the Finance Act, 2016. The Scheme came into force from 1st June, 2016 vide notification S.O. 1902(E) dated 26th May, 2016.

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During the current Financial Year 2016-17, the Indian Economy continues to consolidate the gains achieved in restoring macro-economic stability
Dec 30,2016

During the current Financial Year 2016-17, the Indian Economy has continued to consolidate the gains achieved in restoring macro-economic stability. Despite the continuing global sluggishness and recent pick-up in petroleum prices, the economic growth has continued to be robust and inflation has remained more or less stable in the current year, while Fiscal Deficit and Current Account Deficit as percentage of GDP have improved. The Growth Rate of the economy during the First Half of the current Financial Year is estimated at 7.2 per cent, which makes India one of the fastest growing major economies in the world. At the sectoral level, the growth rates for agriculture & allied sectors, industry and services sectors for the First Half of the current year are estimated at 2.5 per cent, 5.6 per cent, and 9.2 per cent respectively. The stress given to fiscal consolidation through expenditure rationalization and revenue raising efforts and the focus on administrative measures for cooperative financial governance and also steps towards containing inflation have contributed significantly to macro-economic stability.

Inflation

Inflation measured in terms of Consumer Price Index and Wholesale Price Index has remained in comfort zone during the current Financial Year 2016-17. CPI (Combined) inflation for 2015-16 declined to 4.9 per cent from 5.9 per cent in 2014-15. It averaged 5.2 per cent in 2016-17 (Apr-Oct) and stood at 4.2 per cent in October 2016. Food inflation as measured by Consumer Food Price Index (CFPI) declined to 4.9 per cent in 2015-16 from 6.4 per cent in 2014-15. It averaged 6.1 per cent in 2016-17 (Apr-Oct) and eased to 3.3 per cent in October 2016.WPI inflation declined to (-) 2.5 per cent in 2015-16 from 2.0 per cent in 2014-15. It averaged 2.7 per cent in 2016-17 (Apr-Oct) and stood at 3.4 per cent in October 2016.

As per the revised Monetary Policy Framework, the Government has fixed the inflation target of 4 per cent with tolerance level of +/- 2 per cent for the period beginning from August 5, 2016 to March 31, 2021. The Government monitors the price situation on a regular basis as controlling inflation is a key priority and has taken a number of measures to control inflation especially food inflation. The steps taken, inter alia, include, (i) increased allocation of Rs. 900 crore for Price Stabilization Fund in the budget 2016-17 to check volatility of prices of essential commodities, in particular of pulses; (ii) created buffer stock of pulses through domestic procurement and imports; (iii) announced higher Minimum Support Prices so as to incentivize production; (iv) issued advisory to States/UTs to take strict action against hoarding and black marketing under the Essential Commodities Act 1955 and the Prevention of Black-marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980.

Trade

Indias merchandise exports (customs basis) declined by 15.5 per cent to US$ 262.3 billion in 2015-16. In 2016-17 (April-October), growth of exports declined by 0.2 per cent (US$ 154.9 billion vis-n++-vis US$ 155.2 billion in the corresponding period of previous year). Imports declined by 15.0 per cent to US$ 381.0 billion in 2015-16. Imports for 2016-17 (April-October) were at US$ 208.1 billion which is lower by 10.9 per cent as compared to US$ 233.4 billion in the corresponding period of previous year. During 2016-17 (April-October), trade deficit decreased to US$ 53.2 billion as against US$ 78.2 billion in the corresponding period of previous year. There has been significant market diversification in Indias trade from Europe and America to Asia and Africa in recent years -a process that has helped in coping up with the sluggish global demand.

Balance of Payments

Current Account Deficit (CAD) narrowed down to US$ 22.2 billion (1.1 per cent of GDP) in 2015-16 as compared to US$ 26.9 billion in 2014-15. CAD narrowed down to US$ 0.3 billion (0.1 per cent of GDP) in 2016-17 (April-June) from US$ 6.1 billion (1.2 per cent of GDP) in corresponding period of the previous year.

Foreign Exchange Reserves

In the current fiscal 2016-17, foreign exchange reserves culminated to US$ 372.0 billion at end September 2016 which reduced to US$ 366.2 billion at end October 2016. Foreign exchange reserves stood at US$ 365.3 billion on 25th November 2016, showing an increase of US$ 5.1 billion over the level of US$ 360.2 billion at end-March 2016. Countrys foreign exchange reserves are at a comfortable position to buffer any external shocks. In the current fiscal 2016-17 (April-November), the average monthly exchange rate of rupee (RBIs reference rate) was in the range of Rs. 66 - 67 per US dollar (Rs. 66.47 per US dollar in April 2016 and Rs. 67.80 per US dollar in November 2016).

External Debt

Indias external debt stock stood at US$ 479.7 billion at end-June 2016, witnessing a decline of US$ 5.4 billion (1.1 per cent) over the level at end-March 2016. The external debt-GDP ratio was 23.4 per cent at end-June 2016, as against 23.7 per cent at end March 2016. The share of long-term external debt in total external debt increased marginally to 82.9 per cent at end-June 2016 from 82.8 per cent at end-March 2016. All external debt indicators show that Indias external debt has remained within manageable limits. India continues to be among the less vulnerable nations in terms of its key debt indicators.

Agriculture and Food Management

Agriculture and allied sectors registered a growth of 2.5 per cent during the first half of 2016-17 as compared to 2.3 percent during the same period in 2015-16. As per the First Advance estimates (1st AE) 2016-17 released by Department of Economics and Statistics, production of Kharif food grains is estimated to increase to 135.03 million tonnes as compared to 124.01 million tonnes in 2015-16 (AE).

The report of the Committee on Incentivising Pulses Production through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Related Policies set up under the Chairmanship of Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India was submitted on 16th September, 2016.The Committee has recommended, among other things, an increase in the minimum support price (MSP) for all pulses, elimination of the export ban and stock limits on pulses, and intensified procurement.

Industry

The data on Index of Industrial Production (IIP) released by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) shows that the production of industrial sector broadly comprising mining, manufacturing and electricity sectors has fallen by 0.3 per cent during April-October (2016-17) as compared to 4.8 per cent growth during April-October (2015-16). The Government has undertaken a number of policy measures including enhanced public investment, kick starting stalled projects, improving governance through systemic changes like open auction for natural resources like coal and spectrum, improving business environment through programmes like Make in India, Ease of Doing Business, Start-up India. The Government has also liberalized and simplified the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy in the sectors like defence, railway infrastructure, construction and pharmaceuticals etc.

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Constitution of high level committee to review Institutionalization of Arbitration Mechanism in India
Dec 30,2016

Justice Dispensing System in India has come under great stress for various reasons including huge pendency of cases in various courts. The injustice is particularly egregious in commercial disputes, where cases remain pending for years. Accordingly, arbitration provides an effective and efficient alternative window for dispute resolution.

The Government of India has laid emphasis on making Arbitration a preferred mode for settlement of commercial disputes. We have been taking legislative and administrative initiatives on arbitration which aim at minimizing court intervention, bring down costs, fix timelines for expeditious disposal, and ensure neutrality of arbitrator and enforcement of awards. The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 envisages quick enforcement of contracts, easy recovery of monetary claims, reduce the pendency of cases in courts and hasten the process of dispute resolution through arbitration, so as to encourage foreign investment by projecting India as an investor friendly country having a sound legal framework and ease of doing business in India.

In order to ensure speedy resolution of commercial disputes and to facilitate effective conduct of international and domestic arbitrations raised under various agreements, it has been considered necessary to go into various factors to accelerate arbitration mechanism and strengthen the arbitration ecosystem in the country. It is also important to examine specific issues and roadmap required to make India a robust centre for international and domestic arbitration.

With the above end in view, the Government has decided to constitute a High Level Committee (HLC) in the Ministry of Law and Justice.

The terms of reference for the High Level Committee are as under:

(i) To analyze & review effectiveness of present arbitration mechanism.

(ii) To review the facilities, resources, funding and manpower of existing ADR institutions.

(iii) To review working of the institutions funded by the Government of India for arbitration purposes.

(iv) To assess skill gaps in ADR and allied institutions for both national and international arbitration.

(v) To evaluate information outreach and efficacy of existing legal framework for arbitration.

(vi) Based on the foregoing, to

(a) Suggest measures for institutionalization of arbitration mechanism, national and international, in India so as to make the country a hub of international commercial arbitration.

(b) Identify amendments in other laws that are needed to encourage International Commercial Arbitration (ICA).

(c) Devise an action plan for implementation of the law to ensure speedier arbitrations.

(d) Recommend revision in institutional rules & regulations and funding support thereof.

(e) Advise empanelment of national and international arbitrators for time bound arbitral proceedings.

(f) Suggest road map for further strengthening of research and development impacting the domain.

(g) Enlist requisite steps for augmenting skill sets and professional manpower buildup for the sector.

(h) Recommend measures to make arbitration more widely available in curricula and study materials.

(i) Focus on the role of arbitrations in matters involving the Union of India, including bilateral investment treaties (BIT) arbitrations and make recommendations where necessary.

(j) Evolving an efficient arbitration ecosystem for expeditious resolution of International and Domestic Commercial disputes.

The Committee shall submit its report within a period of 90 (ninety) days.

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Two More Advance Pricing Agreements signed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes
Dec 30,2016

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has closed the year 2016 by entering into two more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs).

The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012 and the n++Rollbackn++ provisions were introduced in 2014. The scheme endeavours to provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and setting the prices of international transactions in advance. Since its inception, the APA scheme has evinced a lot of interest from taxpayers and that has resulted in more than 700 applications (both unilateral and bilateral) being filed in just four years.

The two APAs signed today pertain to the Information Technology and Automobile sectors. The international transactions covered in these agreements include Software Development Services, IT enabled Services, Manufacturing and Business Support Services.

With this, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has reached 117. This includes 7 bilateral APAs and 110 Unilateral APAs. In the current financial year, a total of 53 APAs (4 bilateral APAs and 49 unilateral APAs) have already been entered into. The CBDT expects more APAs to be concluded and signed in the near future.

The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Governments resolve of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime. The Indian APA programme has been appreciated nationally and internationally for being able to address complex transfer pricing issues in a fair and transparent manner. The approach and functioning of the officers in the APA teams have been appreciated and acknowledged by the industry in India and abroad.

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Crisis management plan imperative to counter cybercrime threats in India: ASSOCHAM-PwC study
Dec 30,2016

Considering that Indian cyberspace is vulnerable to cyber crime, the country must formulate a crisis management plan to tackle cyber attacks, cyber terrorism and cyber espionage attempts, noted a recent ASSOCHAM-PwC joint study.

n++It is imperative for law enforcement agencies to have a system which will have a collaborative framework for receiving video feeds on a need basis from closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance systems and subsystems,n++ highlighted an ASSOCHAM-PwC joint study titled Safe cities: Collaborative monitoring - For the community, by the community.

Leveraging the capabilities of a good video management system (VMS), when clubbed with video analytics, will also allow efficient access to these external camera feeds at the command and control centre.

n++Collaborative monitoring of video feeds not only facilitates greater coverage of video surveillance within the city but also serves as deterrence for crimes and assists law enforcement agencies in controlling incident escalation, crime detection and its investigation,n++ said the study.

Collaborative monitoring is a unique tool, wherein the security and law enforcement agency takes advantage of the extensive network of surveillance cameras deployed by communities across the city as well as the cameras of other private and government establishments on a need basis.

It is an extremely prudent enabler for police department, as while they strengthen their bond with the communities, they can use any information or footage gathered from these security cameras to support investigation and the prosecution of criminals.

The advantage provided by leveraging the extensive network of external cameras ensures enhanced crime monitoring through a cost-effective, widespread and scalable model.

However, while implementing the collaborative monitoring framework there is a need to carefully manage certain risks like conflict with existing laws and regulatory proposals, lack of awareness within communities, funding related issues, privacy and anonymity related issues and others to garner maximum fruits out of such initiatives.

Showcasing the examples of the impact of collaborative surveillance, the study highlighted that crime graph in Hyderabad came down by 14 per cent in 2015 compared to that in previous year. While UK based Scotland Yard security agency used CCTV footage as evidence in 95 per cent of murder cases.

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After Demonetization, Steps Taken by Government to Ensure That no Hardship is Faced by the Tourists
Dec 29,2016

After demonetization, the Government has taken a number of steps to ensure that no hardship is faced by the tourists and the industry is not affected. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) smoothly transitioned to cashless mode of payment by simplifying process of e G tickets. Government efforts have paid dividend as there has been a notable growth in the comparative figures of Foreign Tourists Arrival (FTA), Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) and online sale of e G tickets after demonetization. The figures for the same are as follows: ParticularsNovember, 2015November, 2016Growth in PercentageFTA8.16 Lakh8.91 Lakh9.3%FEE11,431 Crore14,474 Crore14.4%

It can thus be observed that demonization did not have any impact on the Foreign Tourist Arrival and Foreign Exchange Earnings which have shown robust growth over the comparative period last year. It may also be noted that the number of e-tickets sold during 09-11-2016 to 08-12-2016 increase to 28,176 from 2807 during 09-10-2016 to 08-11-2016 with corresponding amount being Rs. 181.49 lakh and Rs. 3.10 lakh respectively. It can therefore be seen that sale of eGtickets and earnings from have increased significantly by 10 and 58 times respectively as people are buying tickets for ASI monuments online through cashless payments.

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Take digital era to in flights; ASSOCHAM seeks PM nod
Dec 29,2016

In an era of digital push, the ASSOCHAM has approached the Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi and other concerned senior ministers to permit satellite -based In Flight Connectivity (IFC) in the aircraft flying over the Indian air space, both for the domestic and foreign airlines.

n++IFC promises to substantially improve safety of airlines as it enables flight tracking in respect of aircraft in near real time reporting latitude, longitude, altitude, true heading and ground speed; Streaming of flight data recorder off the aircraft in real time; and Facilitating real time intervention for safety and security based on flight data monitoring,n++ the chamber said in a similar letter to the Prime Minister, Home Minister Mr Rajnath Singh, Civil Aviation Minister Mr Ashok Gajapati Raju and the Communication Minister Mr Manoj Sinha.

The ASSOCHAM letter said besides increased safety, the IFC would enable the passengers to stay connected and make use of several services. n++Aviation is facing a technological revolution. As aircraft becomes smart, fully connected machine, new services can be introduced to benefit the passenger experience, grow revenue for operators and improve safety. All this relies on stable and safe connectivity - from the cabin to the cockpit. IFC can in fact cover both cabin service provision to the passengers and cockpit safety and security services, such as flight trackingn++, it said.

Customer surveys clearly bring out that travellers expect to stay connected via their smart devices and laptops even while flying. Vast majority of them wants IFC and in fact choose an airline based on broadband availability. A number of airlines (72 airlines by the end of 2015) have already installed or announced plans to install passenger connectivity system on board and the number of connected commercial aircraft is increasing rapidly - thanks to the satellite high speed internet.

A large number of countries and airlines have already operationalised the in-flight connectivity. Even Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have permitted IFC in planes over- flying their territory while India is yet to take any decision. n++As a result each time an aircraft equipped with IFC enters Indian air space, it is forced to switch off the service to the passengers till it passes the Indian skies, causing hardship to the passengersn++, the chamber letter signed by its Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said.

It said the IFC is imperative for businessmen or other individuals to stay connected but its absence in the Indian territory which consumes on an average two hours of a journey, disrupts the communication n++ Earlier India permits the IFC, the better both for the air passengers as also for Indias image as a progressive country. IFC also enables digital payment in the aircraft while in the air and eliminates the need of cash.

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Centre assistance of Rs.489 cr for improving water supply and sewerage networks in Delhi
Dec 28,2016

Ministry of Urban Development has approved the Annual Action Plan of Delhi for 2016-17 under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) with a project investment of Rs.266 cr for improving water supply and sewerage networks. Similar Action Plan for 2015-16 of Delhi with an investment of Rs. 223 cr was approved earlier in January this year. With this, the total investment approved for Delhi under Atal Mission for improving basic urban infrastructure is Rs.489 cr.

The entire project costs of Rs.489 cr will be provided as central assistance to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi under Atal Mission Guidelines. Of this, Rs.215 cr will be invested in improving water supply, Rs.254 cr for improving sewerage networks and septage management, Rs.8.00 cr for drainage networks and Rs.12 cr for developing open and green spaces.

Under the AMRUT Actin Plan approved for 2016-17 for Delhi; Delhi Jal Board will take up five water supply projects in East Municipal Corporation of Delhi area at a total cost of Rs.102 cr, one sewerage project in North MCD area at a cost of Rs.95 cr and another sewerage project in South MCD area at a cost of Rs.55 cr. in addition, South MCD will take up a storm water drainage project with an investment of Rs.8.00 cr, East MCD will take up one park development at a cost of Rs.4.00 cr while New Delhi Municipal Council will take up one park development at a cost of Rs. 2.70 cr.

Under AMRUT Action Plan approved for 2015-16, one water supply project is to be taken up at a cost of Rs.113 cr in South MCD area and a sewerage project with an investment of Rs.104 cr in North MCD area.

As per AMRUT Guidelines, a total allocation of central assistance of Rs.804 cr has been made for the mission period based on total urban population in the four municipal areas of NDMC and North, South and East MCDs.

Delhi Government is now required AMRUT Action Plan for the remaining three years in one go for advance approval. Ministry of Urban Development has already approved such three year plans for 14 States.

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