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Third Party Verification of ODF Claims by Cities/Towns Begins; 10 Of 11 Claims Certified
Aug 29,2016

Ten towns have been certified as Open Defecation Free with the Ministry of Urban Development beginning the process of third party verification of ODF claims by towns under Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).

The Ministry has got ODF claims of 11 towns independently verified by the Quality Council of India and certified the claims of ten of them as per the Protocol evolved for such certification. The towns certified to have become ODF are; Kagal, Panchgani, Vengurla, Murgud and Panhala in Maharashtra and Siddipet, Shadnaga, Suryapet, Achampet and Huzurnagar in Telangana. The claim of Bhongir in Telanagana will be reassessed.

A total of 141 towns in 7 States have claimed to have become Open Defecation Free including 100 in Maharashtra and these claims are under verification. The progress of Swachh Bharat Mission in urban areas was presented by the Ministry officials at a review meeting taken by the Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu. Shri Naidu, who has been regularly reviewing progress of the Mission asked the officials to ensure effective follow up action with States for realizing the objectives of the Mission.

13 towns claiming ODF status in Gujarat include; Gandhidham, Navsarai, Rapar and Mandavi. Six other towns making such claim in Telangana are; Gajwel, Ibrahimpatnam, Jagtiyal, Madhira, Sattupalli and Sircilla.

10 towns in West Bengal claiming elimination of Open Defecation include; Krishananagar, Nabadwip, Santipur and Kalyani. Other ODF claims are from Ambikapur, Dhamtari and Ambagarh Chowki in Chattisgarh, Dungarpur in Rajasthan and Mairang and kakching in Manipur.

As per the reports received from States so far in the Ministry, a total of 974 cities and towns will eliminate Open Defecation next year. These include-Andhra Pradesh-all 112 urban areas, Kerala- all 59, Gujarat-170 of 195, Uttar Pradesh-85 of 648, Madhya Pradesh-68 of 364, Karnataka-50 of 220, Chattisgarh-42 of 166, Assam-40 of 88, Telangana-37 of 68, Rajasthan-34 of 185, Tamil Nadu-25 of 721 and Jammu & Kashmir-22 of 86.

As per the Protocol for third party verification and certification of ODF status- each Ward and City first self-declares as ODF and on intimation of the same by the respective Urban Local Body or State, the Ministry gets such claims verified in 30 days based on assessment of service level status (construction and availability of household, community and public toilets) and independent observations by the third party. For each Zone in a city/town, a minimum of five places will be inspected i.e a slum, school, public area like market or religious place, residential area and bus stand/railway station. For a city with a population of less than five lakhs, a minimum of 9 places shall be inspected and 17 places for a city with more than five lakh population.

A Ward or City can be notified/declared as ODF if, at any point of the day, not a single person is found to be defecating in the open.

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Re-engineering Indian healthcare is critical for the country says FICCI
Aug 29,2016

Disruptive and innovative technologies are transforming the world today and hence, we are experiencing change in almost every aspect of our lives including healthcare. In the past decade or so, the way healthcare is perceived and delivered has changed dramatically. Technology and clinical advancements have simplified diagnosis and treatment of illness while telemedicine has improved access of care in remote areas. Further, healthcare apps have created awareness regarding wellness and prevention amongst people and personalized care has become common due to innovation of wearable gadgets. India, however, stands at a cross road despite these advancements in the healthcare industry. India needs to think about healthcare beyond hospital beds and innovate healthcare services.

Dr Nandakumar Jairam, Chair, FICCI Health Services Committee; Chairman, NABH and Chairman & Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia Hospitals India, states, n++We house 16% of worlds population and 21% of worlds disease burden equaling loss of ~6% of Indias GDP due to premature deaths and preventable illnesses. It is estimated that the increasing NCD burden will cost India USD 4.58 trillion due to loss of productivity. At the same time, our total health spend is only ~4.7% of GDP and out of pocket expenditure (OOP) is 62% of the total health spend. This is very high when compared to other countries such as Brazil 25%, China 32%, South Africa 6%, USA 11%, UK 9%. Therefore providing access to quality healthcare for 1.2 billion plus population is a huge challenge that the country has to deal withn++.

Mr Vishal Bali, Co-Chair, FICCI Health Services Committee & Chairman, Medwell Ventures elaborates, n++unprecedented demand due to demographic changes and shifting disease patterns, coupled with rising costs and the proliferation of technology, has led to demand for efficiency, transparency in care delivery. This has paved the way for innovation of processes and products and new business models in the healthcare sector to cater to the rising demand of the consumers. In view of the new era, it is time that we look at the Indian healthcare with a different lens keeping patient needs at the core and re-engineer the entire value chain of healthcare delivery. India needs to transform its healthcare sector.

Mr Ashok Kakkar, Co-Chair, FICCI Health Services Committee and Senior MD, Varian Medical Systems International India, added, n++Solving Indias healthcare affordability and accessibility problems is possible only if we bring in a complete paradigm shift and strategize a journey of transformation.n++

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Merge various govt. policies to address housing shortage issue: ASSOCHAM-JLL study
Aug 29,2016

The union government should try to merge various policies at a point to address housing shortage issue in India, an ASSOCHAM-JLL joint study has said.

n++The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), which mainly targets lower-end of pyramid, should be used to provide housing finance to the account owner, thereby directly catering to the targeted segment,n++ suggested the study titled Affordable Housing Finance in India, jointly conducted by ASSOCHAM and JLL.

Economically weaker section (EWS) and low-income group (LIG) categories are generally not given access to loans because of many reasons like - lack of proper documentation, higher credit and default risk, unavailability of guarantor and others, it noted.

Besides, income of this category is either uneven throughout the year or is below the viable threshold, to ensure repayment of the loan.

Absence of a developed market for financing home buying results into lacklustre supply because developers of affordable housing face a slowdown in absorption of constructed units, the study highlighted.

Development of affordable housing has consistently been a challenge due to reasons like - land cost and availability, practicality of affordable housing definition, complicated regulatory process for approvals and others.

Lack of financing option for land acquisition, poor adoption of technology in construction, dubious credentials of developers, under-developed mortgage finance market, tedious know your customer (KYC) norms, co-ordination and marketing of policy and higher cost of funds for housing finance companies (HFCs) are key supply-demand side challenges being faced by the affordable segment in India.

n++Relaxing the norms specifically for affordable housing segment can boost the depth and width of housing financing market like for example, making state mandated Aadhar card an acceptable identification for getting a loan,n++ suggested the ASSOCHAM-JLL study.

Empowering EWS/LIG categories with lower interest rates for home loans will reduce inventory in the market and ultimately benefit the buyer, it said.

Reducing cost of financing for developers and finalising various long-term funding options like real estate investment trusts (REITs) and real estate mutual funds (REMFs) will help them avail cheaper project financing for development of affordable housing projects.

Single-window clearance for project approval will significantly reduce costs and approval time needed for development as on an average permits take up to 36 months to get approval from 40 different departments which includes - revenue, fire, airport authority and others.

Highlighting that the policies implemented currently lack a definitive approval window, provision of land for the development of affordable housing project and lack of availability of land funding for the developers, the study suggested that government should act in a proactive manner to get rid of these bottlenecks for improving greater private sector participation.

Better use of newer technology leading to faster completion of projects, options availability for land financing, opening up of land parcels, incentivising lenders to cater to informal segment of home buyers are certain proactive reforms to revive private sector to invest more in this segment, suggested the study.

It also said that more licences should be given out to new housing finance companies, financing to HFCs should be done at lowest cost possible to increase the lending done by HFCs and catering to uncaptured market in need of housing finance.

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RBI Strengthens Rate Markets through Structural Reforms
Aug 29,2016

The Reserve Bank of Indias (RBIs) measures for the development of the fixed income and currency markets is a step in the right direction and can help broaden the market over the medium- to long-term, says India Ratings & Research (Ind-Ra). Ind-Ra believes that these initiatives along with the successful implementation of the bankruptcy laws can help broaden the markets, assuming some of the other issues relating to reissuances, stamp duty and asymmetry of information are addressed in the interim.

Ind-Ra expects higher rated corporates to directly benefit in the short-term; however the investment guidelines for most investor classes will require changes, to move down the credit curve. Ind-Ra believes that financial institutions will remain the primary source of funding for corporates, particularly stressed corporates. Ind-Ra estimates that the number of borrowers above the threshold of INR100bn debt obligation aggregates 50 - out of which potentially 24 are either stressed or fairly vulnerable.

RBIs measures include, allowing lenders to issue masala bonds, to accept corporate bonds under the liquidity adjustment facility, higher ceiling on credit enhancements and providing Foreign Portfolio investors (FPIs) direct access to bond trading platforms.

The measures are likely to give a flip to the lower rated category bonds in the long run since unlike in the developed markets, the Indian corporate bond market is characterised by issuances from higher rated corporates both in terms of public and private placements. While in the developed bond markets, the appetite for speculative/non-investment grade bonds remains high and they are issued and traded widely. In the Indian bond market however it is not as easy to place a bond below AA category.

The increase in the aggregate partial credit enhancement ceiling to 50% from the earlier 20% will help corporates to raise money through bonds. In most developed bond markets, corporate bonds are permitted to be used as collateral for liquidity operations. Allowing corporate bonds as collateral for liquidity operations will improve the demand for corporate bonds, from the perspective of banks subscribing to these bonds. This will help develop a robust secondary market for AAA rated bonds (assuming the final guidelines restrict it to AAA paper). However, this is unlikely to result in investors moving down the credit curve due to uncertainties relating to recoveries and asymmetry in information sharing. In a scenario, where AAA papers remain in short supply due to bank investments, it could help in the gradual process of migrating down the rating curve. This is a landmark step for the debt markets and will take Indias corporate bond market regulations closer to the global best practices.

Pension/provident/gratuity funds are major investors in the Indian bond markets and look for long term investments. Ind-Ra believes that the investment policies of these funds need to be aligned with the regulatory changes. The last time changes were made to the investment policies of these funds it resulted in some debt market issuers migrating to the bank loan market. Ind-Ra believes that unless investment policies of these funds are aligned with other regulatory changes, it will be difficult to develop a deep and vibrant corporate bond market in India.

With the change in the issuance guidelines for masala bonds - allowing banks to raise funds overseas as AT1 and T2 capital, India banks can take advantage of the negative sovereign yield (of most sovereigns) and use this opportunity to tap the international markets. Ind-Ra estimates that Banks need to raise INR710bn through AT1 Bond in FY17-18, assuming credit growth of 8%-9%. Ind-Ra believes that any issuance through this route will vacate space for the borrowings of lower rated banks in the domestic market.

Ind-Ra believes, giving direct access to FPI in the trading platform will add more vigor, especially in the shorter end of the curve. However, it will also mean faster transmission of shocks. Moreover, wide divergences in the normal ticket sizes for FPIs and retail investors compared to the normal market lot of INR50m and the price impact may together deter large scale participation in the near term.

Listed corporates can now park short term surplus cash under the repo facility with banks and primary dealers. Corporates holding on to high short term cash balances or parking funds with banks may turn to this window; however with better returns from liquid funds this mode is unlikely to witness a shift in volumes from MFs to banks.

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NHAI awards contract for 2-laning with formation of 4-lane of proposed Shimla Bypass (Kaithalighat-Shimla section) of NH-22
Aug 29,2016

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued Letter of Award (LOA) for development of following National Highway section in the state of Himachal Pradesh under NHDP Phase-III:

NH No.SectionLengthTotal Capital Cost Concessionaires Name22Two laning with formation of 4-lane of proposed Shimla Bypass (Kaithalighat to Shimla section) of NH-22 from km 129.050 to km 156.50727 kmRs. 1583 CroreM/s Chetak Enterprises Ltd.

The Present NH-22 (now NH-5) is a part of Hindustan Tibet Road and is a major link to Indo-Tibet Border. It connects tourist destination as well as state capital Shimla and a vital link for apple transportation from Kinnaur valley to rest of the country.n++

The 27 km long Shimla Bypass shall be executed on Hybrid Annuity mode and completed in 30 months from the date of commencement of the project.n++ The project will have 3 tunnels of a total length of about 2 km., 9 major bridges out of which one would be a cable stayed bridge, 4 minor bridges and 89 culverts.n++ The project would be developed on a new alignment and not only decongest Shimla city from non-destined traffic but also improve connectivity to Indo-Tibet Border and other tourist places in the region.

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Provide waiver on unintentional mistakes in compliance of GST during transition: ASSOCHAM President
Aug 29,2016

ASSOCHAM will bring forth before the Empowered Committee (EC) of State Finance Ministers certain concerns and areas of uncertainties while pleading for waiver of any penalties on unintentional compliance errors which may occur during the transition period of Goods and Services Tax (GST) said at an ASSOCHAM Managing Committee meeting.

Seeking adequate time for preparation of the required compliance systems for the industry, the ASSOCHAM memorandum to the empowered panel on GST, has listed issues for the state finance ministers meeting on August 30.

n++While the industry wants the GST to be introduced at the earliest in view of its benefits to all stake holders, the Government and Empowered Committee (EC) should give adequate time for preparation for its smooth transition. Considering significant increase in documentary requirement and digitisation of the entire GST process, industry has to gear up and change their accounting and computer system after the GST Rules are released,n++ said Mr. Sunil Kanoria President ASSOCHAM after discussing the issue at its Managing Committee, the top policy making and governing body of the chamber.

It said in such a mega tax reform, there will be requirement to issue clarification on various GST provisions and hence the Governments at Centre and States should gear up for such facility. n++Moreover, the penal provisions for unintended mistake during the transition phase should not be applied as was done in the case of service tax for few yearsn++.

The chamber also highlighted concerns over the administrative machinery for implementation of the GST. While the tax base is same for Central GST and SGST, the administration by two authorities may lead to harassment if there is difference of opinion. It is recommended that there should be only one administrative authority. Centre and state can form joint team for such purpose.

There is also concern about the multiple audits and investigations provided in the draft GST Bill spanning over a long period of 3 to 5 years whereas the entire GST process will be fully computerised and each transaction is required to be recorded in the monthly return. These excessive administrative provisions need to critically examine to avoid inspector raj which may be counter-productive to the objective of GST to provide ease of doing business.

There are issues regarding the construction industry as well. Input Tax Credit is not available for inputs/ input services utilised in the construction of immovable property. Tax paid on inputs/ input services would become a cost for the builders/ developers. Services like fees, user charge or rent or any other manner from use of such buildings or infrastructure would be subject to GST. This will make huge investment required in infrastructure development unattractive. The Draft Legislation does not provide for the abatement of the value of land for levy of GST. n++Need clarity on the taxability of the development rights under the Draft GST Legislationn++.

As regards banking and financial issues, there is no clarity on exclusion of interest from levy of GST. Interest is excluded from the taxable value the world over including in India under the service tax. It is suggested that draft GST law should make it clear. The recipient of service is not clearly defined for taxation of banking and insurance services. This may lead to tax dispute on jurisdiction for SGST purpose. Likewise, the valuation of services like currency conversion which forms part of pricing is not provided in draft GST Bill or Valuation Rules.

The chamber would seek clarifications on all these issues from the Empowered Committee (EC) of State Finance Ministers.

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Kharif Crop Sowing Crosses 1019 Lakh Hectare Areas
Aug 29,2016

The total sown area as on 26th August, 2016 as per reports received from States, stands at 1019.10 lakh hectare as compared to 973.40 lakh hectare at this time last year.

It is reported that rice has been sown/transplanted in 363.07 lakh ha, pulses in 139.42 lakh ha, coarse cereals in 182.99 lakh ha, oilseeds in 177.74 lakh ha, sugarcane in 45.55 lakh hectare and cotton in 102.78 lakh ha.

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

Lakh hectare 

Crop

Area sown in 2016-17

Area sown in 2015-16

Rice363.07352.23Pulses139.42103.85Coarse Cereals182.99172.73Oilseeds177.74174.58Sugarcane45.5549.60Jute & Mesta7.567.73Cotton102.78112.68Total1019.10973.40

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Government agencies to import further 90,000 MT pulses for buffer stock
Aug 29,2016

The Government today ordered further import of 90,000 MT pulses, consisting of 40,000MT Masur, 20,000 MT Tur, 20,000 Desi Chana and 10,000 MT Urad for the buffer stock. The decision to this effect was taken in a meeting of Price Stabilization Fund chaired by Union Consumer Affairs Secretary, Shri Hem Pande here today. With this order total import of pulses for buffer stock stands now 1, 76,000 MT. Domestic procurement of pulses has also to reached to 1,20,000 MT as on August 23,2016. The government agencies have been also been directed to gear up for domestic procurement for coming crop of pulses, which is expected to good this year.

The meeting reviewed the procurement and distribution of pulses from buffer stock. So far about 40,000 MT have been allocated to the States the buffer stock for distribution not more than Rs. 120/kg. These pulses are provided to the States- Tur at the rate of Rs. 67/kg and Urad at the rate of Rs. 82/kg.

Inter Ministerial Committee on prices of essential commodities also met today to review availability and prices of essential commodities.. The meeting observed that prices of pulses have come down but have not reflected in retail. It was of the opinion that States must be asked to take immediate action under Essential Commodes Act to ensure that decline in prices id also reflected in retail also.

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Electropreneur Park bolsters domestic electronics manufacturing with early stage start-up incubation
Aug 29,2016

Initiatives like Make in India, Digital India and Design in India along with Startup India taken by Government of India have injected new hopes in Indias electronics system design and product development space. Taking the vision forward, Electropreneur Park has been set-up at University of Delhi, South Campus to incubate 50 early stage start-ups and create atleast 5 global companies over a period of 5 years. The initiative was taken by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), managed by Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) and implemented by India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA).

Speaking on the occasion, Sh. Prasad said that having lost at the time of Indusrtial revolution, India can not afford to miss the bus once again. It has to take lead in the ongoing digital revolution and this alone has the potential to transform India into a vibrant economy. He said the NDA Government under the leadership of Prime Minister, Sh Modi has already sown seed for this and introduced programmes like make in INDIA, sKILL india and Stand Up India with the purpose of making all sections of the society equal partners in this game changing initiatives. Sh Prasad said digitalised India will not only make India a more effecient society but also encourage enterpreuners to invest in INDIA.

He said acadmecia clubed with invenstors and incubatees togather can expedite the process of transforming India . He said Government has already set up fund to incentivise such initiatives and would continue tyo focus on making India a hub centre of incubation,

The incubation centre has already incubated 6 early stage startups, with a few more in the process of on-boarding. The startups under incubation were awarded the admission certificate during the inauguration of the centre. The selection was done based on the stringent evaluation of about 200 proposals received. The selected start-ups are:

- Arogya Medtech- Cerebrosn++ : Portable and low cost combination of Neuro-imaging ( EEG) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) for stroke detection.

- Ceantra Technologies- Connected Vehicle Platform that enables Monitoring of Vehicle Health, Better Road Safety and Data driven Online Driver Marketplace.

- Intutive Scientific Research & Evaluations- Multi-featured women safety IOT wearable which includes features of SoS message, audible alarm and self defence.

- Resonant Electronics - Smart Modular Switch Boards, Smart Monitoring Control Panel Boards and Analytics for energy management and control system .

- Starbru Techsystems- Tactical android wireless data card (TAWDC) can be interfaced with Indian Army radio for sending images.

- Stemrobo Technologies- Creating multiple Electronic development and learning kits to be used in schools and institutes for skill development in ESDM sector.

Objective :

The park will focus on IP creation and Product Development to result in increased domestic value addition and will witness a unique integration of academia, industry, government and other incubation eco-system elements. The platform will also encourage R&D, innovation, Entrepreneurship in the ESDM sector in India and provide assistance during prototyping, development and commercialization for the products, conceptualized at Electropreneur Park, produced through the scheme for India and other growth markets.

Best-in-class facilities :

The initiative will provide the selected entrepreneurs with state-of-art laboratories as per international standard, ESDM mentorship by industry veterans and academicians, efficient supply chain and an eco-system that will bring in a bouquet of shared services and facilities to the incubatees like Taxation, Legal, Finance, Accounting, Patent Search, Training, interns, business counselling, etc. EP will also provide access to funding agencies to facilitate seed funding for the promising ventures and ensure a smooth transition from an incubatee to a self-sufficient electronics company.

About Electropreneur Park :

Funded by Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY), Government of India, the Electropreneur Park is an Incubation Centre under PPP mode in the Electronic Systems Design & Manufacturing (ESDM) sector. The Electropreneur Park will develop, promote, recruit, incubate, mentor, and create breakthrough innovations in the ESDM sector

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Centre Working Expeditiously to Provide Agriculture Loans to Farmers According to their Needs and in a Timely Manner: Shri Radha Mohan Singh
Aug 29,2016

Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh highlighted the following points.

n++ Central Government has made concerted efforts to strengthen Co-operative Societies.

n++ At the local level, through cooperative societies, employment opportunities are being created for farmers & youth.

n++ Efforts are on to make women of the villages self-reliant.

Union Minister said that the Central Government is working expeditiously to provide agriculture loans to farmers according to their needs and in a timely manner.

Shri Singh said that NABARD is making groups of farmers and agriculture producers to provide them cheap agricultural loans from banks. Till January 2016 across the country 14.43 lakh joint liability groups were formed and by March 2016, NABARD has set up approximately 2424 producer groups. The Minister said that from April 2005 to March 2014, Rs. 6775 crore were spent. Whereas, the new Government has, from April 2014 until December 2015, extended Rs.7084 crore as financial assistance to joint liability groups.

Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare said there is imbalance in the availability of credit to the agriculture sector and amongst small and big farmers. Shri Singh acknowledged that credit availability per capita in the region is much lower than in other regions. The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) survey, 46 percent of farming households are burdened by debt and the loans are from different institutions.

The Minister informed that the Central Government has taken concrete steps to strengthen cooperatives so that they are economically viable and active participation of their members, to make them dynamic democratic organizations. Shri Singh said that by doing so, cooperative societies will be able to withstand the competitive global economy. The Minister said for the development of the rural economy and to increase employment opportunities in the agricultural, cooperatives have an important role to play.

Shri Singh said farmers through cooperatives and youth employment at the local level being added, as well as through self-help groups of village women work towards self-sufficiency is happening. The Central and State Governments are working together in this direction rapidly. Shri Radha Mohan Singh informed that many cooperatives get NCDC funding so that they can create employment for the needy.

The Minister appealed to the people involved in the cooperative movement in the building and the strengthening of the cooperative farmers, to protect the interests of vulnerable groups and to come forward and give them active support. Employees Cooperative Society Ltd. Shri Radha Mohan Singh appreciated Kota Co-operative Societies Ltd. works and praised its achievements and hoped that one for all, all for one spirit will continue to be guiding philosophy for them.

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Storage Status of 91 Major Reservoirs of the Country is 65% of total storage capacity as on August 24, 2016
Aug 26,2016

The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on August 24, 2016 was 102.147 BCM, which is 65% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This was 112% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 102% 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 12.97 BCM which is 72% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 91% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 75% 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.

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 11.80 BCM which is 63% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 53% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 55% 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 19.73 BCM which is 73% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 56% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 66% 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 34.94 BCM which is 83% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 75% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 60% 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 22.70 BCM which is 44% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 35% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 65% 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.

States having better storage than last year for corresponding period are Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states), Telangana and Karnataka. States having lesser storage than last year for corresponding period are Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

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Slowdown in MHCV Sales Volumes - A Change in Trend
Aug 26,2016

The decline in the year on year sales growth in the Medium and Heavy Commercial Vehicles (MHCV) segment in June-July 2016 is a digression of the trend observed previously, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The agency believes that persistence in the slowdown in MHCV volumes in the next two to three months could point towards a change in the MHCV cycle.

Ind-Ra had earlier highlighted in its report FY17 Outlook: Auto that auto sales in FY17 will be driven by the MHCV segment. In January 2016 Ind-Ra had estimated MHCV volumes to grow by 12%-15% yoy in FY17 driven by demand for high tonnage vehicles to achieve cost efficiency in operations and replacement demand of old vehicles. The agency may re-look at its growth estimates based on MHCV volumes registered in the next one to two months.

The upturn in the MHCV cycle began around January 2014. The yoy growth was very strong at 30% in FY16 and 16% in FY15. As per Ind-Ras assessment, the growth is attributed to pent up demand, some pre-emptive purchases in August-September 2015 (due to new safety features being made compulsory from Oct 2015 - which increased prices) and improved cash flows of fleet operators due to the decline in diesel prices and the entire decrease not being passed on to clients. Another factor possibly supporting MHCV sales is the uptick in mining and the increase in infrastructure spending by the government in FY16/FY17, compared with previous years.

Consistent demand had been witnessed in FY15 and FY16 in the higher tonnage segment of MHCVs (>25T) typically used for long haul - fleet owners seem to be intent on reducing their per ton transportation costs by taking advantage of better road infrastructure in the country. The data compiled by Society of Indian Automotive Manufacturers for June and July 2016 indicates a decline of 9.2% and 24.9% respectively, in this segment in these two months.

The surge in the demand for MHCVs witnessed in the past two years is not corroborated by the Index of Industrial Production which has displayed an inconsistent trend in this period. Growth figures for MHCVs is also not supported by data on foreign direct investments in the country, with the major proportion of investments by FIIs in FY16 having been in the services sector, rather than in manufacturing. In addition, growth in the gross fixed capital formation (which is an indicator of an uptick in economic activity) has been tapering down in the past three years (FY16:3.3%, FY15: 7.9%, FY14: 13.6%). Further, capacity utilisations across industries have not improved, even growth in exports while positive, continue to be tepid. Also freight rates after declining towards the end of FY15 have remained flat in FY16, with a slight increase in certain sectors in the current financial year.

Historically, MHCV sales display a high degree of seasonality, with weak sales in the month of December due to the preference of buyers to purchase vehicles bearing the registration number of the next year (for better pricing in the second hand market), followed by a steady uptick in volumes in the following three months, namely January-March. Sales tend to peak around the month of March every year, as fleet owners increase purchases in Q4 to avail of depreciation benefits and use up their budgets and auto OEMs push sales to their dealers to achieve annual sales targets.

Naturally, the month of April each year registers the lowest sales due to sales peaking in March. However in May, June and July sales volume start their upward trend again. It may be noted that in 2016, the sales volume growth from June onwards has been muted. For June 2016 on a year on year basis, the volume growth slowed to 1.9% compared to the growth of 21% in June 2015, while for July 2016 volumes contracted by 7.6% compared to growth of 30% in July 2015. The agency will be closely monitoring MHCV domestic sales volumes for the next few months, as it believes that a steadily declining trend would possible indicate a reversal of the sales trend in this segment.

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Fitch: Masala Bonds Open Window for India AT1, T2 Bank Capital
Aug 26,2016

Fitch Ratings-Mumbai/Singapore-26 August 2016: The Reserve Bank of Indias (RBI) proposal to allow banks to issue masala bonds - rupee-denominated bonds issued in offshore capital markets - would widen the investor pool and ultimately deepen the market for Additional Tier 1 (AT1) and Tier 2 (T2) bond issuance, says Fitch Ratings. This measure would ease a key constraint for banks in accessing new AT1 and T2 capital, given the limited size of the domestic investor pool relative to the scale of the capital needed. Fitch estimates a capital shortfall of USD90bn over the next several years as Basel III regulatory requirements build from the financial year 2017 (FY17) to FY19.

The RBIs proposal came as part of a series of measures pertaining to Indias fixed-income and currency markets announced on 25 August. Fitch has long maintained that Indian banks would find it challenging to raise sufficient AT1 capital through the domestic markets. This is the case even as most of the capital needed will be required to be denominated in rupee owing to the currency structure of most banks balance sheets. As such, enabling banks to issue masala bonds opens a window to a much larger investment pool while simultaneously addressing the problem of currency mismatches which had existed with previous international bond issues.

The masala bonds market remains in its infancy, however, with the RBIs initial regulatory framework put in place only in September 2015 - and the first issues, by corporates HDFC and NTPC, only completed in July and August, respectively, this year. As such, the extent to which banks will be able to use the masala bonds channel to raise capital remains to be seen, and will depend to a large extent on foreign-investor risk appetite and pricing.

The public banks sharply deteriorating financial profiles over the past two years has raised their standalone credit risks and put their viability ratings under pressure. This in turn is likely to affect overseas investor risk perceptions and their expected risk premium. Furthermore, removing the foreign-currency risk for issuers will still mean that masala bonds will pass this risk on to investors. Weak rupee liquidity in overseas markets will add to the potential currency risk for investors, and raise the expected risk premium.

Therefore, the RBIs proposals have the potential to open up an international investor base to mid- and small-sized banks for the first time, while those firms with weaker credit profiles may find it difficult to use the masala bonds avenue to raise significant new capital.

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RBI decides to enhance the aggregate limit of partial credit enhancement (PCE) provided by banks
Aug 26,2016

The Reserve Bank of India today announced a package of measures for the development of fixed income and currency markets. These measures are intended to further market development, enhance participation, facilitate greater market liquidity and improve communication.

Accepting many of the recommendations of the Khan Committee to develop the corporate bond market, it has been decided to enhance the aggregate limit of partial credit enhancement (PCE) provided by banks, permit brokers in corporate bond repos, authorise the platform for repo in corporate bonds and encourage credit supply for large borrowers through market mechanism. It has also been decided to seek suitable legal amendments to enable the Reserve Bank to accept corporate bonds under Liquidity adjustment Facility (LAF).

To further encourage the overseas Rupee bond market, banks are being permitted to issue Rupee bonds overseas (Masala Bonds) for their capital requirements and for financing infrastructure and affordable housing.

A market making scheme in Government securities by Primary Dealers has been worked out in consultation with the Government which may help in increasing the liquidity of semi-liquid securities. Relaxation of tenor and counterparty restrictions in repo market in G-sec will also help in market liquidity.

Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) will be given direct access to NDS-OM to ease the process of investment in debt securities. It has also been agreed with SEBI to provide FPIs facility to trade directly in corporate bonds.

In a fundamental shift in foreign exchange market regulations, greater leeway is being proposed for residents to maintain open positions. The permissible limits for hedging in the OTC as well as exchange traded markets are also being rationalised. It is also proposed to comprehensively review the framework for hedging of commodity price risk in the overseas markets by Indian companies.

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World Bank Approves $55 Million to Strengthen Nepals Strategic Roads and Bridges
Aug 26,2016

The World Bank approved a credit of US$ 55 million for the Government of Nepal to scale up its Road Sector Development Program and address post-earthquake reconstruction needs, including the strengthening of the countrys strategic road and bridge network to withstand future seismic and climate vulnerabilities.

The additional financing will top up World Bank support to the Roads Sector Development Project (RSDP) which has been ongoing since 2008. When it began, the project intended to provide residents in 10 beneficiary districts, including the poorest, in the mid-western and far-western regions of Nepal with all-season road connectivity, reduced travel time, and improvements in access to economic centers and social services. With the additional financing, 25 more districts stand to benefit from the maintenance of earthquake-affected bridges. The original 10 districts will also continue to benefit from road upgrading, slope stabilization and bridge works.

n++The Road Sector Development Project has been the cornerstone of our support to Nepals strategic roads network for nearly a decade,n++ said Takuya Kamata, World Bank Country Manager for Nepal. n++While the primary focus has been to develop connectivity in the poorest and remotest regions of the country, the 2015 earthquakes highlighted the need to improve the resilience of key roads and bridges to future natural shocks.n++

RSDP currently serves a population of 2 million in 10 districts in the mid-western and far-western regions of Nepal. The project will serve another 10.2 million Nepalis following the maintenance of earthquake affected bridges in the 25 additional districts. The bridges that will undergo maintenance in these districts provide connectivity along the Birgunj-Narayanghat-Mugling-Kathmandu corridor which carries the vast majority of freight into and out of Kathmandu and Pokhara. This corridor is among Nepals most vital infrastructure assets for supporting economic growth and development.

n++Nepals hills and mountains are susceptible to extreme precipitation, earthquake, and landslides that can result in severed connectivity, loss of life, and damage to property,n++ said Farhad Ahmed, Task Team Leader for the project. n++Robust construction, better maintenance and improvements in the capacity to respond will help Nepal adapt to unforeseen events.n++

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