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The Union Government has announced revised rates of interest on Small Savings Schemes for the First Quarter of 2017-18 to bring them somewhat closer t
Mar 31,2017

The Union Government has announced revised rates of interest on various small savings schemes for the first quarter of the financial year 2017-18. To bring such rates somewhat closer to market rates, the Government has decided to effect a reduction of 0.1 percentage points (10 basis points) in interest rates across the board in all the schemes except the Post Office Savings Account, which has been left untouched.

Government continues to accord highest priority to the interest of small savers, especially savings for the benefit of girl child, the senior citizens and the regular savers who form the backbone of our savings architecture. The current revision of rates is reflective of the Governments commitment to calibrated reform in the financial sector to ensure better interest rate transmission.

Various small savings schemes will continue to be very attractive compared to bank deposits of similar maturities and tenor even after this marginal reduction in interest rates by 0.1 percentage points. Apart from offering higher interest rates compared to bank deposits, some of the small savings schemes also enjoy income tax benefits. Further, small savings schemes like Senior Citizens Savings Scheme (SCSS), Sukanya Samriddhi Account (SSA), PPF, 5 year National Savings Certificate (NSC), 5 year Monthly Income Scheme (MIS) and 5 year Time Deposits (TD) enjoy additional interest rate spreads. This additional interest rate spread is 100 basis points in the case of Senior Citizen Savings Scheme, 75 basis points in Sukanya Samriddhi Account and 25 basis points spread in PPF, 5 year NSC, 5 year MIS and 5 year TD.

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Service charge on online booking of tickets has been withdrawn for the railway tickets booked from 23 November 2016 to 31 March 2017
Mar 31,2017

In order to help passengers and incentivize the payment through digital modes for booking of reserved tickets, service charge on online booking of tickets has been withdrawn for the tickets booked from 23 November 2016 to 31 March 2017. Approximately, an amount of Rs 184 crore has not been realized from passengers on account of service charge and service tax thereon on reserved tickets booked online from 23 November 2016 to 28 February 2017.

With a view to promoting cashless transaction on Indian Railways, various initiatives have been taken including the following:-

i. The facility of online booking of reserved ticket has been provided through Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) website. The payment for tickets booked through IRCTC website is made through various cashless modes such as net banking, through credit/debit cards, cash cards and e-wallets. Further, to incentivize cashless transaction, service charge on online booking of tickets has been withdrawn for the tickets booked from 23.11.2016 to 31.03.2017.

ii. The facility of booking unreserved ticket including journey, season and platform tickets through mobile phone has been introduced in all suburban sections of Central, Western, Southern, Eastern, South Central, South Eastern and Delhi-Palwal section of Northern Railway. Additional payment options under the digital modes have also been introduced to widen the scope of digital payments for purchase of unreserved tickets.

iii. The facility of renewal of season tickets through IRCTC website has been provided for suburban train services on Western and Central Railways wherein payment is made through electronic mode.

iv. It has been decided to install 10,000 Point of Sale (POS) machines in association with State Bank of India at various locations of Indian Railways i.e. PRS locations, UTS locations, Parcel/Goods locations. At present, more than 4100 POS machines have been installed over the Zonal Railways.

v. An advanced Beta version of the mobile application for booking of reserved tickets has also been launched by IRCTC giving additional options of cashless payment.

vi. Service charge applicable on transactions against credit/debit cards for purchasing journey tickets at Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS)/ Passenger Reservation System (PRS) counters has been withdrawn.

vii. Online booking facility for accredited press correspondents on the basis of registered ID card has been launched.

viii. International Credit/ Debit cards issued outside India are accepted for booking of e-tickets through IRCTC website.

ix. Free accidental insurance cover of upto `10 lakh for confirmed/RAC passengers in case of tickets booked online from 10.12.2016 to 31.03.2017.

x. Provision of 0.5% discount on season tickets purchased through digital means with effect from 01.01.2017.

xi. Provision of 5% discount on payment made online for availing services like online booking of retiring rooms with effect from 01.01.2017.

xii. Catering stalls have also been instructed to provide options for making cashless payments.

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South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Operational Plan (OP) 2016-25 includes nine projects worth $2.4 Billion
Mar 31,2017

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a total of nine projects costing $2.42 billion as part of the Operational Plan (OP) 2016-2025 of the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program. These projects will receive ADB financing of $1.43 billion. These nine projects represent a significant increase compared to the previous 15 years, when the annual average value of projects approved was only about $500 million.

The nine projects comprise of two rail projects in Bangladesh worth $890 million, two economic corridor initiatives (a project and program loan) and a bridge project in India worth an aggregate of $1.2 billion, trade facilitation and airport projects in Bhutan worth $27 million and key SASEC road and energy projects in Nepal worth $302 million. All these projects are aligned with the SASEC OPs thrusts of developing road and rail links aligned closely with trade routes toward the east, streamlining trade procedures, and improving energy infrastructure.

The Indian corridor projects reflect the SASEC OPs recent shift in emphasis on developing economic corridors within and between member countries. Shri Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Multilateral Institutions Division, Department of Economic Affairs stressed that India fully supports the SASEC OP as an important milestone in the SASEC program, especially as it will pursue the development of infrastructure to improve our economic linkages with East and Southeast Asia, in accordance with Indias Act East policy, thereby raising the competitiveness of the sub-regions enterprises.

The SASEC OP has identified over 200 potential transport, trade facilitation and energy projects which will require over $120 billion in investments for the next five years, out of which 74 projects have been identified in India with an estimated project cost of over $60 billion. Majority of these projects are located in the Northeast or Eastern part of the country.

The SASEC OP, endorsed in June 2016 by the SASEC member countries, is SASECs first comprehensive long-term plan to promote greater economic cooperation among the member countries in the areas of transport, trade facilitation, energy, and economic corridor development. Bringing regional cooperation to a higher level, the SASEC OP plans to extend physical linkages not only within SASEC but also with East and Southeast Asia by the next decade.

Established in 2001, the SASEC program is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries and strengthening regional economic cooperation. ADB is the secretariat and lead financier of the SASEC program, which to date has supported a total of 46 projects worth $9.17 billion in transport, trade facilitation, energy and information and communications technology (ICT).

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13,002 villages electrified till date under DDUGJY: A new milestone achieved
Mar 31,2017

13,002 villages have been electrified till date under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram JyotiYojna (DDUGJY). Out of remaining 5450 un-electrified villages, 835 villages are uninhabited. All the remaining 4615 un-electrified villages are to targeted to be electrified by 1st May, 2018. The State Wise details are as follows:

The progress of ongoing electrification process can be tracked on

Background of Electrification Process:

In view of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modis address to nation, on Independence Day, Government of India has decided to electrify remaining 18,452 un-electrified villages within 1000 days i.e. by 01stMay, 2018.  The project has been taken on mission mode and strategy for electrification consists of squeezing the implementation schedule to 12 months and also dividing village electrification process in 12 Stage milestones with defined timelines for monitoring.

In order to expedite the progress further, a close monitoring is being done through Gram Vidyut Abhiyanta (GVA) and various actions are also being taken on regular basis like reviewing the progress on monthly basis during the RPM meeting, sharing of list of villages which are at the stage of under energization with the state DISCOM, identifying the villages where milestone progress are delayed.

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SASEC facilitating trade for speedier clearances with reduced transaction costs and greater predictability for trade
Mar 31,2017

South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) is facilitating trade guided by the SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework (2014-2018) in the sub-region through various projects. The key projects underway in the region include, among others: (i) formulation and implementation of new Customs laws and regulations; (ii) strengthening of automated Customs systems; (iii) implementing provisions of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) such as on pre-arrival processing, risk management and post-clearance audit; (iv) developing trade portals for better transparency; and (v) establishing trusted trader programs, which assure facilitation to those with proven record of compliance. The RKC is the legal instrument of the World Customs Organization (WCO) that aims to simplify and harmonize international customs procedures globally, in order to achieve faster, more predictable and efficient customs clearances.

Considering the progress made by India in the above areas, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been partnering with Indian Customs for sharing best practices and technical expertise with other countries under the SASEC umbrella. This form of South-South collaboration will support harmonizing the systems and processes within the sub-region thereby creating a conducive environment for intra-regional trade in SASEC to flourish.

The through-transport arrangements being finalized among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) is an initiative that would help in seamless cross-border movement of vehicles/cargo among identified corridors bringing down transaction costs and delays and easing the border congestion.

ADB is also supporting India to develop integrated solutions for enhancing their logistics efficiency, covering the infrastructure and connectivity needed, as well as a logistics facilitation model that would enable faster and more efficient vehicle/cargo movement. This project would also cover international cargo, providing options for cargo clearance (e.g., at inland/ dry ports, bonded warehouses, etc.) enabling traders to manage their supply chain efficiently and decongesting ports.

ADB has been following a consultative process in working with private sector stakeholders for raising awareness and building their capacity and to make sure their views are reflected in designing the national trade facilitation initiatives.

All of these efforts are expected to lead to speedier clearances with reduced transaction costs and greater predictability for trade. These will also improve compliance levels and more efficient allocation and use of resources by the regulatory agencies in the sub-region, which will ultimately lead to enhanced trade activity and improved economic competitiveness of the SASEC sub-region.

The trade facilitation actions under SASEC are guided by the SASEC Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework (2014-2018), adopted by the SASEC members in March 2014, across its priority areas of: (i) Customs modernization/ harmonization, (ii) standards and conformity assessment, (iii) cross-border facilities improvement, (iv) through transport facilitation, and (v) institution/ capacity building. Under the Framework, various initiatives are underway to ensure that measures in relation to import, export and transit are efficient, proportionate, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable and, to the extent possible, based on International standards and instruments.

Established in 2001, the SASEC program is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by improving cross-border connectivity, boosting trade among member countries and strengthening regional economic cooperation. The Asian Development Bank is the secretariat and lead financier of the program, which to date has supported a total of 46 projects worth about $9.2 billion in transport, trade facilitation, energy, information and communications technology (ICT) and economic corridor development.

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Introduction of RFID in Ports
Mar 31,2017

All Major Ports have been directed to implement RFID system by 31st March,2017. Implementation of RFID system will eliminate manual checking of documents at port gate and real time tracking of movement of vehicles, men and materials. This would reduce congestion and also cost of operations at Ports.   Present status of RFID system (Port-wise) is given below:-


Name of the Port



Kolkata Port Trust


At Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), work order issued and trial run and software development is under progress. The system will be implemented by 31.03.2017.

At Kolkata Dock System (KDS), tendering is under process.


Paradip port trust

Already operational since 25.09.2016.


Vishakhapatnam Port Trust

Work order issued and the system will be implemented by 31.03.2017.


Kamarajar  Port Ltd

Already operational since 15.11.2016.


Chennai Port Trust

Pilot run of RFID based Export document verification system is in operation for Export container trailers entering into ChPT from 22.08.2016.


V.O.C Port Trust

Work order issued on 20.02.2017 and the system will be implemented by 21.04.2017.


Cochin Port Trust

Fully functional since 20.07.2016 at Ernakulam Wharf.


New Mangalore Port Trust

Gó         RFID based Access Control System started trial run from 01.03.2017. The system will go live from 31.03.2017.


Mormugao Port Trust

Already operational since 22.12.2016.



Fully operational in all terminals.


Mumbai Port Trust


Work has been awarded. Installation & commissioning of devices like Flap Barriers, Boom Barriers, RFID readers, Biometric Readers is in progress. The work is expected to be completed by 31.05.2017.


Kandla Port Trust

The system will be fully operational from 01.04.2017.

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15 proposals under the Nirbhaya Fund of more than Rs.2000 Crore appraised and recommended by the Empowered Committee
Mar 31,2017

Ministry of Finance, Government of India had set up a dedicated fund called Nirbhaya Fund for implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety and security for women in the country. Recognizing the need to strengthen the mechanism for scrutiny and sanction of the proposals under Nirbhaya Fund, Ministry of Finance (MoF), Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) has issued guidelines from time to time for administration and operationalization of the Fund. The Empowered Committee of Officers has been constituted by the MoF under the chairpersonship of Secretary, WCD, which is an inter-ministerial committee, and it appraises and recommends various proposals/projects proposed by different Ministries/Departments/States. The concerned Ministries then take up the sanction and implementation of the schemes/proposals so appraised as they do for their other schemes/projects. The allocation of funds is subsequently done by Ministry of Finance, DEA. This Committee regularly reviews the implementation of projects from time to time with the concerned Ministries.

Under Nirbhaya fund, 16 proposals amounting to Rs.2348.85 Crores have been received so far, out of which 15 proposals amounting to Rs. 2047.85 Crores have been appraised and recommended by the Empowered Committee. The proposals so appraised are at different stages of implementation and fund is utilized as per the requirement of the project.

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India signs First Loan Agreement with NDB for US$ 350 million for Development and Up-gradation of Major District Roads Project in MP
Mar 31,2017

The Loan Agreement for New Development Bank (NDB) financing of US$ 350 Million for Development and Up-gradation of Major District Roads Project in Madhya Pradesh (MP) was signed between Government of India and the New Development Bank (NDB). This is the First Loan Agreement for NDB assisted project in India.

The Loan Agreement was signed by Mr. Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. Xian Zhu, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer on behalf of the New Development Bank. The Project Agreement was signed by Mr. Pramod Agrawal, Principal Secretary, Public Works Department and Mr. Manish Rastogi, Managing Director, Madhya Pradesh Road Development Corporation (MPRDC), on behalf of Government of Madhya Pradesh.

The objective of the Project is upgradation of major district roads in the state of Madhya Pradesh to improve connectivity of the interior areas of the state with the national and state highway networks. The Project would include upgradation, rehabilitation or reconstruction of approx. 1,500 (One thousand Five Hundred Only) km of district roads to intermediate lane, all-weather standards, with road safety features and improved road asset maintenance & management. The project outcome is to improve transport connectivity to the interior regions and resultant boost to economic activity in the rural hinterland.

The project implementation is 5 years. Government of Madhya Pradesh and the MPRDC are the implementing agencies.

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Memorandum on Pilot Project for Electronic Cargo Tracking System to facilitate transit cargo movement between India and Nepal to be signed
Mar 30,2017

A Memorandum of Intent (MOI) on India-Nepal Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) Pilot Run will soon be signed by the Governments of India and Nepal to facilitate movement of traffic-in-transit belonging to Nepal from the port of arrival in India to Nepal. The India-Nepal pilot aims to demonstrate the benefits, especially in terms of reduced costs, of the ECTS system.

The pilot project will be supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Trade Facilitation Strategic Framework, and its success will serve as the basis for its use in other SASEC corridors as well as in inland movement of cargo.

Currently clearance is done through physical inspection and it is time-consuming as well as costly for business. The MOI will include use of Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) to follow the cargo (containers and full-body trucks) as it moves from port of arrival through India, to the Nepal border. ECTS will lead to reduced cost and time as it speeds up cargo clearance at border crossings.

Electronic Cargo Tracking System uses technology such as satellite positioning systems, cellular communications, radio frequency (RF) identification, web-based software and others, to ensure the security of cargo and avoid any interference in transit.

ECTS pilots have already been done along the Kolkata-Jaigaon-Phuentsholing route between India and Bhutan, and for inland transshipment in India.

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Environment Minister Launches Online Filing of Access and Benefit Sharing Applications
Mar 30,2017

Taking yet another important step towards contributing to and promoting Digital India and Ease of Doing Business, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Anil Madhav Dave, launched the online filing of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) applications through videoconferencing, here today. Emphasising that the meaning of good governance lies in making processes transparent, Shri Dave said that the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, inspires everyone to embrace E-governance. The Environment Minister expressed the hope that E-governance will be made 100% operational in the near future and all the processes of the Ministry will be made fully transparent.

Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Ajay Narayan Jha, said that digital technology must be accessed not only to promote Ease of Doing Business, but also to facilitate transactions for the general public. Shri Jha expressed the hope that NBA will put all the other processes in a digital format, so that the people who used these services are served in a better manner.

The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), teamed up with the National Informatics Centre (NIC), to launch the Online Filing of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Applications at - - to enable E-filing of applications. Applications seeking such approval are to be made on the appropriate forms available online. If Indian or foreign individuals and entities like registered companies wish to access biological resources and associated knowledge to carry out various activities, prior approval of NBA, or the State Biodiversity Boards is a pre-requisite. NBA will adhere to stipulated timelines to process applications. With the process being made online, the attempt is to address these issues better and also to keep pace with digitisation.

The online portal is in sync with the Governments policy of n++Digital Indian++. The NBA website hosts the detailed procedure to be observed for filing of applications, the key information required and information regarding the supporting documents that are to be filed by applicants. This online process is user-friendly and has salient features such as editing, reviewing, printing, digital signature, online payment of fee. These features are expected to considerably reduce the processing time of applications. For any new user, the portal provides a step-by-step guide, right from choosing the relevant form, to submission. Tool tips/pop up messages are provided to assist the applicants in filling up the columns in the application. The portal also provides the facility for making online payment of application fee before submission of the application. Once the online portal is fully operational, it is expected to ease the submission of application and speed-up the process of granting approvals by NBA. As part of n++Digital Indian++ policy, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) will also accept online application, which will help in tracking applications and reducing delays.

The primary factor to be ascertained before filing any application in NBA is to identify whether the applicant is dealing with a biological resource, as defined by the Biological Diversity Act. Applications are scrutinized at different levels, before the Authority decides to grant approval. Till date, over 1, 600 applications have been received and 980 applications have been cleared. A total of 440 agreements have been signed by the NBA with the applicants, which is construed as an approval.

In the past, a large number of applications could not be processed, as they lacked important information/documents needed for scrutiny.

The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) is a statutory body established under the provisions of the Biological Diversity Act (2002). NBA performs facilitative and advisory functions for the Government of India on issues of conservation, sustainable use of biological resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources.

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The MCA has undertaken a major reform in the regulation of combinations under the Competition Act, bringing India in line with the global practice
Mar 30,2017

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has undertaken a major reform in the regulation of combinations under the Competition Act, bringing India in line with the global practice. The Act which was passed by Parliament in 2002 had initially provided for notice of combinations to be given by enterprises, as per Section 5 of the Act, on a voluntary basis. However, this Section was amended in 2007 making the notice mandatory.

In 2011, in response to concerns expressed by various stake holders, the Government had issued a notification exempting an enterprise, whose control, shares, voting rights or assets are being acquired has either assets of the value of not more than Rs. 250 crores in India or turnover of not more than Rs. 750 crores in India from the applicability of Section 5 of the Competition Act, 2002, for a period of 5 years. These limits were enhanced to Rs. 350 crores and Rs. 1000 crores, respectively, in March, 2016.

It was, however, noted by the Government that the said notification was being applied to Combinations which resulted only from acquisition but was not extended to Merger/Amalgamation and Acquiring of Control Cases. It was also noted that where only a segment/portion/business of an enterprise was being combined with another enterprise, the relevant assets and turnovers attributable to the target segment/portion/business were not being considered and instead the transferors total assets and turnover were being considered for determining the applicability of the exemption.

Stakeholders had been voicing their concerns over the issue and in keeping with the Governments principle of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance, the Ministry has issued fresh notifications No. S.O. 988 (E) and No. S.O. 989(E) dated 27.03.2017 wherein, the Central Government intends to provide

(i) Clarity on the applicability of the threshold exemption limits to all forms of combinations as referred under Section 5 of the Act.

(ii) Clarity on the methodology to be adopted for calculating the relevant assets and turnover of the target when only a portion or segment or business of one enterprise is being combined with another.

With the issue of these notifications, combinations falling within the threshold limits would not require to be filed before the Competition Commission of India. The reform is in pursuance of the Governments objective of promoting Ease of Doing Business in the country and is expected to make India a more attractive destination for Foreign Direct Investment. The notification is expected to enable greater freedom to industry in taking legitimate business decisions towards further accelerating Indias economic growth.

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Steps Taken to Improve The Efficiency of Coal Based Thermal Power Plants
Mar 30,2017

The Government has taken several measures to improve the efficiency of coal based thermal power plants & improve the air quality in the vicinity of these plants. These are as follows:-

i) Supercritical technology has already been adopted for thermal power generation. The design efficiency of Supercritical units is about 5% higher than typical 500 MW subcritical units and these (supercritical) units are likely to have correspondingly lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in ambient air. A capacity addition of 39,710 MW based on supercritical technology has already been achieved and 48,060 MW of supercritical is in the pipeline.

(ii) All Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPPs) are required to use supercritical technology.

(iii) Coal based capacity addition during 13th Plan shall be through super-critical units.

(iv) Indigenous research is being pursued for development of Advanced Ultra Supercritical Technology (A-USC) with targeted efficiency improvement of about 10% over supercritical unit. Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), NTPC and BHEL have signed an MoU in August 2010 for development of 800 MW A-USC indigenous demonstration plant with main steam pressure of 310 kg/cm2 and temperature of 710/ 720 deg C.

(v) A capacity of about 7751.94 MW of old and inefficient unit has already been retired till date.

(vi) To facilitate State Utilities/IPPs to replace old inefficient coal based thermal units with supercritical units, Ministry of Coal, Government of India has formulated a policy of automatic transfer of LOA/Coal linkage (granted to old plants) to new (proposed) super-critical units.

(vii) Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) Scheme under National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency is under implementation by BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency). In PAT cycle-II, individual target for improving efficiency has been assigned to 154 thermal power stations.

(viii) High efficiency Electrostatics Preceptor (ESP) are installed to capture Particulate Matters (Fly ash) from Flue gases.

(ix) Low NOX burners are installed for reducing NOx emission from flue gases.

(x) SO2 emission control is achieved through dispersion of flue gases through tall stacks (275 metres) to reduce the concentration of polluting gases at ground level.

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Gujarat far ahead of other States in construction of houses for urban poor
Mar 30,2017

Gujarat is far ahead of other States in construction of affordable houses for urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) launched by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on June 25, 2015. In Gujarat, 25,873 houses have so far been built for the benefit of urban poor accounting for 32% of the total 82,048 such houses built under PMAY(Urban) in 30 States and Union Territories.

Gujarat is followed by Rajasthan with 10,805 houses constructed so far (13.17% of total), Karnataka-10,447 (12.70%), Tamil Nadu- 6,940 (8.00%), Maharashtra-5,506 (6.70%), Uttar Pradesh-3,822 (4.65%), Madhya Pradesh-2,666 (3.%), Bihar-2,409 (2.90%), Jammu & Kashmir-1,986 (2.42%) and Andhra Pradesh -1,650 houses accounting for 2% of the total houses so far built.

City-wise, Ahmadabad led others with construction of 10,183 followed by Jaipur-7,434, Surat-5,216, Rajkot-3,817, Bengaluru-3,428, Vadodara-1,665, Gaya-1,334, Tumkur(Karnataka)-1,286, Chennai-1,279, Gulbaraga(Karnataka)-1,203, Jamnagar(Gujarat)-1,111, Dhanbad-1,156, Visakhapatnam-1,094,Alwar(Rajasthan)-883 and Rai Bareli (UP)-802.

Under PMAY(Urban), beneficiaries belonging to Economically Weaker Sections. Low Income Groups and Middle Income Groups under the components of In-Situ Slum Redevelopment, Affordable Housing in Partnership, Beneficiary Led Construction and Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme.

Central assistance of up to Rs.1.00 lakh is provided for each dwelling unit to be built for the benefit of slum dwellers using land as resource there by slum dwellers getting new pucca houses free of cost. Central assistance of Rs.1.50 lakh per each beneficiary is provided under AHP and BLC components while interest subsidy of 6.50% is extended under CLSS for LIG and interest subsidy of 3% and 4% under recently announced CLSS for Middle Income Groups.

During the last three years, 3.55 lakh affordable houses have been constructed for urban poor including those sanctioned under JNNURM prior to March, 2014.

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Centre to build 1 crore houses under PMAY-G by 2019
Mar 30,2017

The Government today said that it has approved the construction of 1 crore houses with the financial implication of Rs. 81,975 crore for the period 2016-17 to 2018-19. As per provisional figures of Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011, approximately 4 crore rural households face housing deprivation. After accounting for the houses that were constructed under Indira Aawas Yojana, IAY and State sponsored housing schemes since 2011, it has been estimated that 2.95 crore more houses, with an anticipated variation of n++ 10%, would need to be constructed to achieve the objective of Housing For All by the year 2022.

In the first phase (from 2016-17 to 2018-19) one crore houses are targeted for construction under Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana-Grameen, PMAY-G. Targets for the remaining period (till 2022) will be decided after verification and finalisation of permanent wait lists, based on SECC 2011 data by all States/UTs. To provide technical support in achieving the targets of n++Housing for Alln++ a National Technical Support Agency (NTSA) for Rural Housing shall be set up at the national level.

To achieve the objective of Housing for All various features have been incorporated into the scheme architecture of PMAY-G, some of which are as below:

(i) Availability of sufficient financial resources both in the form of budgetary support and borrowing from NABARD to meet the expenditure for construction of houses.

(ii) Electronic transfer of assistance under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to resolve problems of delayed payments and expedite completion.

(iii) Comprehensive online monitoring through the scheme MIS-AwaasSoft.

(iv) Inspection and Geo tagging of houses, through the mobile app- AwaasApp by beneficiaries to reduce delays.

(v) Increasing number of trained rural masons through Training, Assessment and Certification.

(vi) Setting up of Programme Management Unit (PMUs) at state and sub state level to review progress on a daily basis, provide requisite technical support and facilitation and plug gaps in implementation using administrative funds available under the scheme.

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Fitch: Indian Telcos Tower Sales are Credit Positive
Mar 30,2017

Indian telcos plans to sell tower assets or stakes in tower subsidiaries should provide headroom to allow data-related capex with less strain on companies credit metrics, Fitch Ratings says. Bharti Airtel Limited (BBB-/Stable) announced yesterday that it has sold a 10.3% stake in its tower subsidiary, Bharti Infratel for USD952 million to KKR and Canada Pension Investment Board. Bharti will retain a 61.7% stake in Infratel.

We expect Infratels stake sale will benefit Bhartis March 2017 FFO-adjusted net leverage, which we forecast to be around 1.8x-2.0x (FY16: 1.8x; excluding USD5bn in deferred spectrum costs) - slightly below the threshold above which we may consider negative rating action. Bharti will use the proceeds to pay down some debt and to fund its USD235 million 2,300MHz spectrum acquisition from Tikona Digital in five Indian telecom coverage areas, or circles. Bharti had earlier acquired 43MHz of 1800MHz spectrum from Telenor India in seven circles to enhance its 4G spectrum portfolio.

Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, which are merging, also intend to sell Ideas 11% stake and Vodafone Indias 42% stake in Indias largest independent tower company, Indus Towers, which is a joint venture between Bharti, Vodafone India and Idea.

Such a sale would help reduce the debt at the Vodafone India-Idea combined entity. With a sale - and assuming opex and capex synergies - we estimate the combined entitys net debt/EBITDA should improve to around 3.0x-3.2x (pro forma 4.4x) with net debt of USD16.1 billion. Idea and Vodafone India intend to contribute about USD7.9 billion and USD8.2 billion of debt, respectively, to the combined entity. For the 12 months ending December 2016, the combined entity, on a pro forma basis, generated revenue of USD12.2 billion or 40% revenue market share - and USD3.6 billion in EBITDA.

Reliance Communications Limited (Rcom, B+/Rating Watch Negative) is in the process of selling 51% of its tower business - Reliance Infratel Ltd (Infratel) - for USD1.6 billion, and intends to use the proceeds to pay down debt. However, the sale will not be sufficient to ease Rcoms financial stress, given its high indebtedness and plan to merge its wireless operations with Aircel Limited; we do not foresee FFO-adjusted net leverage reducing to below 4.5x for the foreseeable future.

We continue to have a negative outlook on the Indian telecom sector as competition will continue to remain high, and consolidation is not likely to return any pricing power to the operators in the near term. The entry of Reliance Jio, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL, BBB-/Stable), has accelerated industry consolidation. The ongoing consolidation is likely to leave four larger operators - Bharti, Jio, the combination of Vodafone India and Idea, and the combined Rcom and Aircel Limited.

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