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Procurement of Moong by Government agencies starts, process to be expended for Urad and Tur also
Sep 08,2016

The Government agencies have been directed to expand procurement of pulses directly from the farmers in all pulses producing States.

Procurement of Moong has already started by the agencies in Karnataka and Maharashtra and it will be soon expanded to other states according to arrivals. The agencies have been directed to take up procurement of Urad from September 15, 2016 and Tur also immediate from its arrival.

The directions in this regard were given by the Cabinet Secretary, Shri P.K. Sinha during a meeting held here today to review the prices and availability of essential commodities, especially pulses. All the concern Ministries and Departments have been directed to strengthen monitoring mechanism to ensure availability of these commodities at reasonable prices during the coming festival season.

The meeting was attended by Secretaries of Department of Consumer Affairs, Department of Food, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Commerce and by senior officials of related Ministries.

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Organised Jewellery Retailers Get their Glitter Back
Sep 08,2016

After the contraction in demand for jewellery in 1HCY16, organised jewellery retailers are expected to witness a change in fate in the next three quarters and record 10%-12% top line growth in FY17, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). The sector posted flat revenue growth in FY16 and low single digit growth in Q1FY17. Ind-Ra believes that the higher number of wedding days coupled with reduced obstacles on the regulatory front will drive volumes.

The World Gold Council highlighted that gold imports contracted and jewellery demand fell by 32% in H1CY16 to around 186 tonnes in India. The key hurdles that the industry faced in 1HCY16 have been 1) strike by jewellers on account of imposition of excise duty and government regulations, 2) delays in purchases on the expectation of fall in gold prices, 3) increase in recycled gold, and 4) possibility of higher share of unaccounted gold in the system due to the spike in prices, regulatory hurdles and levy of excise duty.

Higher number of wedding days in H2FY17 (both on a sequential and year on year basis) together with fading regulatory hurdles is likely to provide a boost to the revenue growth in the coming quarters. Wedding jewellery is a key driver for demand and accounts for 60%-65% of the market demand.

Additionally, the Governments recent measures namely, increase in the limit of collectible amount under the Gold Savings Scheme to 35% from 25% of net worth and the compulsory hallmarking of jewellery will boost the organised jewellery sector and aid in shifting some of the demand from the unorganised sector. The Gold Savings Scheme contributed 15%-30% of the revenues for the organised jewellers; prior to 2014 when it was closed by the Government. Although the Government resumed the Scheme in 2015, the maximum collectible amount was capped at 25% of the net worth.

The agency believes that organised jewellery retailers are likely to see an improvement in EBITDA margins in FY17 by 100-200bp (FY16: around 8%) on the back of the increased share of high margin diamond jewellery and higher gold prices. However the expansion through franchisee mode may constrain the improvement in margins, given the lower mark up in this channel.

Organised jewellers also face an overhang of the impending GST Bill. The GST committee report recommends an all-inclusive tax rate of 2%-6% on precious metals. The sector currently pays VAT and excise at 1% each and hence the GST rate over and above 2% is likely to increase the tax incidence on end consumers. We expect any increase on account of higher GST to be passed on to the end consumer; albeit it may impact non-wedding segment demand and prompt customers to opt for the unorganised sector.

Jewellery retailers suffered major disruptions in the last two quarters on account of closure of business, due to the jewellers 42-day strike which began in March 2016 in response to the Government regulations namely imposition of excise duty and mandatory pan card requirement for jewellery purchases above INR0.2m. Additionally, consumer demand for jewellery remained muted on account of high as well as volatile gold prices (gold prices have increased about 27% yoy in the H1CY16 to around INR30,000/10gm).

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4G telecom service to rake in Rs 80,000 cr in less than four years: ASSOCHAM-KPMG
Sep 08,2016

Amidst unfolding intense competition in the mobile data market, an ASSOCHAM-KPMG Paper expects a slew of data based services by the leading telecom operators even as the high speed 4G connections would account for 17 per cent of the total user base by 2020 with revenue in the range of Rs 80,000 crore.

The entire business mix of the telecom industry is going to witness a sea change. The unveiling of 4G on a large scale by one of the largest corporate houses, is going to be a major development. 4G is expected to n++significantly transform the revenue mix of service providers with estimated Long Term Evolution (LTE) revenues expected to reach Rs 79,580 crore in the next few years.

The ASSOCHAM-KPMG Paper on Powering Digital India said the demand for high speed internet services would receive a further push from key governmental initiatives such as Digital India, Smart Cities. Besides mobile networks have been identified as key tools for financial inclusion where 4G can facilitate implementation of governments social sector schemes in a faster and secure way. n++As a result, data traffic in India is expected to grow rapidlyn++.

It said the telecom sector in India is at an inflexion point, where it is poised not only to ride a high growth trajectory but also to provide a strong impetus to the governments key development initiatives. However, the paper also sounded a word of caution. n++While demand growth is expected to remain steady on the back of affordable smart phones, digital inclusion programs and 4G rollouts, high capital requirements and an extremely competitive scenario continue to affect the profitability of key playersn++.

The paper said to power the next phase of growth and to ensure that the industry achieves its true potential, n++it would be important for different sections of the industry to collaborate and work towards the common objectivesn++.

As a keen observer of the unfolding competition and the hype around the new entrant and impact on the incumbent players, ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said, the potential in the data market has not been utilized even to the extent of one-third of its size. n++There would be room for most of the established and a new player. However, the consumers would have more choices at affordable pricingn++.

According to the Paper, India is the second largest mobile market with over a billion subscribers at the end of February 2016 and 608 million urban subscribers and 444 million rural subscribers. n++There is a huge potential to grow in the rural sector where tele-density is still quite low at around 50 as compared to urban tele-density of over 153n++.

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Export of Oilmeals down by 46% in April - August 2016
Sep 08,2016

The Solvent Extractors Association of India has compiled the export data for export of oilmeals for the month of August 2016. The export of oilmeals during August 2016 is reported at 56,597 tons compared to 91,834 tons i.e. down by 38%. The overall export of oilmeals during April to August 2016 is reported at 330,834 tons compared to 609,748 tons during the same period of last year i.e. down by 46% due to lesser availability of oilseeds for crushing and continuous disparity in exporting oilmeals in International Market.

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To boost the tourism in the State of J&K, the Government has decided to extend the facility to travel by any airlines to visit J&K on LTC
Sep 08,2016

To boost the tourism in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, the Government has decided to extend the facility to travel by any airlines to visit Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) on LTC, under Special Dispensation Scheme for Central Government employees, for a period of two years beyond 25.09.2016.

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Over 5.15 Crore Households Lighting their Houses with LED Bulbs
Sep 08,2016

The Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs (UJALA) programme has been widely accepted across rural and urban areas of the country and so far over 15.45 crore LED bulbs have already been distributed under this programme. Over 5.15 crore Indian households have already benefitted from this programme and have made their homes brighter.

The UJALA is the worlds largest Light Emitting Diode (LED) programme for the residential sector. The initiative is being implemented by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) a public sector undertaking of Ministry of Power.

The scheme is presently operational in 18 states and 4 Union Territories. EESL will roll out the scheme in West Bengal and North Eastern states in the coming days. In the remaining states and Union Territories, the decision to roll out the scheme is pending with the respective state governments.

LED bulbs can be collected from designated distribution kiosks across the country, the details of which are available on

The LED bulbs distributed under the UJALA scheme is one third the market price and these superior quality bulbs also come with a three-year free replacement warranty. Under the UJALA scheme, consumers can avail these LED bulbs at an upfront cost and can save nearly Rs. 336 every year on their electricity bills per LED bulb, making the bulbs free to the user in just 3 months.

Ministry of Power, through Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), has ensured that the common man is made aware of the scheme through various platforms. In every state, where the scheme is functional, traditional media such as Television, Radio and Newspapers; Out of Home media such as Hoardings, Communication Vans, Posters, etc.; and Digital platforms such as website, Social Media, Mobile App and microsite are used to spread awareness about distribution of these bulbs.

Government of India is committed to achieving its target of replacing all the 77 crore inefficient bulbs in India with LEDs. This will result in reduction of 20,000 MW load, energy savings of 100 billion kWh and Green House Gas (GHG) reduction of 80 million tonnes every year.

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M/o Tourism approves projects of Rs. 450 Crore under Swadesh Darshan for Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim
Sep 08,2016

The Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) for the Swadesh Darshan Scheme in Ministry of Tourism has approved projects to the tune of Rs. 450 Crore for development of Heritage circuit in Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Ramayana Circuit in Uttar Pradesh, North East Circuit in Sikkim and Coastal Circuit of Tamil Nadu.

The Heritage Circuit in state of Madhya Pradesh, covers Gwalior- Orchha- Khajuraho-Chanderi-Bhimbetka-Mandu with total project cost of approximately Rs. 100.00 Crore. The project envisages world class infrastructural development of the sites which includes developing a Theme Park and Convention centre in Khajuraho, Sound and Light Show in Mandu. Site Illumination, Construction of Tourist Facilitation Centres and parking area are other intervention proposed in the circuit. The Heritage Circuit in Uttarakhand is on developing Tourism Infrastructure in Jageshwar-Devidhura-Katarmal-Baijnath sites with total project cost of approximately Rs.83 Crore. The highlights of project in Uttarakhand are development of Eco Log Huts, Sound and Light Show and Upgradation of Temple Pathways.

Coastal circuit in State of Tamil Nadu envisages development Chennai- Mamamallapuram-Rameshwaram-Manpadu-Kanyakumari with total project cost of approximately Rs.100 Crore has been approved. Sound and Light Show, development of Beach amenities, Construction of Pedestrian Bridge connecting Vivekanand memorial with Tiruvalluvar Statue are major highlights of project.

Ramayana Circuit in State of Uttar Pradesh envisages development of two destinations viz. Chitrakoot and Shringverpur. The Project cost for this circuit is approximately Rs.70 Crore for development of Parikrama marg, food Plaza, Laser Show, Foot Over Bridge connecting MP and UP part of Chitrakoot. Development of Ghats, Tourist Facilitation Centre and Parking area. Ramayana Circuit in Uttar Pradesh also includes Ayodhya for which the State Tourism Department of Uttar Pradesh is preparing Detailed Project Report (DPR).

North East circuit in State of Sikkim with approximate project cost of Rs.95.50 Crore includes development of eco log huts, cultural centre, paragliding centre, craft bazaar, base camp for mountaineering and meditation hall.

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Driving Licenses and Vehicle Registration Certificates can now be accessed through Mobile App
Sep 08,2016

Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping and Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice jointly launched a new service - integration of DigiLocker with Driving Licenses (DL) & Vehicle Registration Certificates (RC). With this integration people will no longer need to carry around physical copies of their RCs and Driving Licences. They can instead access digital copies of the same on their mobile phones via the DigiLocker mobile app. Driving Licenses and Vehicle Registration documents can now be issued directly to the DigiLockers of individuals in digital formats. These digital copies can be shared with other departments as identity and address proof. They will also be used for on the spot verification through the cittizens mobile, by various law enforcement authorities like the Traffic Police. Besides being convenient for people, this will also result in assured authenticity of such documents and reduction of administrative overhead.

Speaking on the occasion Shri Nitin Gadkari said that this platform is a major step forward towards ensuring greater transparency and cutting down corruption and red-tapism. He said the move will benefit a large number of people by facilitating ease of access to the documents.

Launching the service Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the integration will bring a paradigm shift in the vision of paperless governance. It will serve to bring agility and efficiency to the entire process of issuance of driving licenses and vehicle registration certificates through IT enablement.

DigiLocker, launched by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in July last year, aims at transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. It is a platform for issuance and verification of documents and certificates digitally. When a person signs up for a DigiLocker he gets access to a dedicated cloud storage space for his important documents. DigiLocker currently has 21,26,332 registered users with 24,11,702 uploaded documents and has issued over 4,26,73,232 documents as on 01 September 2016. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is actively digitizing driving licences and registration certificates and maintaining a National Register System. With todays launch this National Register System has got integrated with DigiLocker, making over 19 crore Vehicle Registration Certificates and over 9 crore driving licenses available in the citizens lockers. Once the data from the remaining RTOs is updated in the National Register Systems, the digital copies of those driving licenses and vehicle registration certificates will also be available via DigiLocker.

In order to access the digital RC and DL a person needs to first sign up for a DigiLocker. He then needs to download the DigiLocker Android App from Google PlayStore. In the Mobile App he will have to select the Issued Documents section and then the DL/RC. Field staff like the Traffic Police can do offline verification of RC/DL using QR Code. Apart from the mobile view version, digitally signed documents can also be accessed electronically, and these will be at par with the physical issued documents as per IT Act 2000.

Shri Ajay Kumar, Additional Secretary, MeitY informed that with integration, MoRTH becomes the 17th issuer to issue its documents to DigiLocker. He also informed that this is the largest such integration since DigiLocker was launched last July.

Shri Abhay Damle, Joint Secretary, MoRTH said that the Ministry is working towards intergrating even documents like vehicle insurance and fitness certificates to DigiLocker .

The integration is the result of continuous coordination between MoRTH and MeitY with technical support from National Informatics Centre and National e-Governance Division (NeGD) under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.

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Global air passenger demand shows resilience in July 2016: IATA
Sep 07,2016

Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic results for July showing an acceleration in demand growth over the previous five months. Total revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 5.9%, compared to the same month last year, with all regions reporting growth. Monthly capacity (available seat kilometers or ASKs) increased by 6.0%, and load factor was 83.7% - just 0.1 percentage point below the record July high achieved in 2015.

July saw demand strengthen, after a softening in June. Demand was stimulated by lower fares which, in turn, were supported by lower oil prices. And near record high load factors demonstrate that people want to travel. But, there are some important sub-plots to the narrative of strong demand. Long-haul travel to Europe, for example, suffered in the aftermath of a spate of terrorist attacks. And the mature domestic markets are seeing demand growth stall while Brazil and Russia contract, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATAs Director General and CEO.

July 2016 (% yoy)World share*RPKASKPLFPLF(%-pt)#(level)$Total Market 100.00%5.90%6.00%-0.10%83.70%Africa 2.20%6.80%5.30%1.10%72.70%Asia Pacific 31.50%9.60%8.20%1.00%81.20%Europe 26.70%3.40%3.60%-0.20%86.50%Latin America 5.40%2.90%0.50%2.00%85.10%Middle East 9.40%12.50%15.10%-1.90%78.60%North America 24.70%2.80%3.80%-0.90%86.70%* % of industry RPKs in 2015, # Year-on-year change in load factor  $ Load factor level

International Passenger Markets  

July international passenger demand rose 7.1% compared to July 2015, which was an increase over the 5.0% yearly increase in June. Airlines in all regions recorded growth. Total capacity climbed 7.3%, causing load factor to slip 0.2% percentage points to 83.5%. Middle East carriers posted the strongest growth in July, with a 13.1% year-over-year increase; demand had dipped in June owing to the timing of Ramadan. Capacity rose 15.5%, causing load factor to drop 1.7 percentage points to 78.6%. Asia-Pacific airlines July traffic rose 9.8% compared to the year-ago period. Capacity increased 8.6% and load factor climbed 0.9 percentage points to 81.7%. Reports suggest that Asian passengers are putting off traveling to Europe in favor of regional trips owing to terrorism fears: while traffic on Asia-Europe routes fell by 0.9% in June, international traffic within Asia rose 8.1%, which was a four-month high. European carriers saw July demand increased by 4.1% compared to a year ago, which was the slowest among the regions. Demand has been affected by the recent terrorist attacks as well as political instability in parts of the region: traffic has grown at an annualized rate of just 1.4% since March. Capacity climbed 4.7% and load factor dipped 0.5 percentage points to 86.7%, which was still the highest among regions. North American airlines traffic climbed 4.8%, while capacity rose 5.1% with the result that load factor fell 0.3 percentage points to 86.1%. Seasonally adjusted volumes have risen at an annualized rate of more than 8% since March helped by transpacific and leisure traffic to Central America and the Caribbean. Latin American airlines demand rose 7.5% compared to July 2015 as the upward trend in traffic resumed following a soft patch in the first quarter of 2016. Capacity increased by 4.2%, boosting load factor 2.6 percentage points to 85.3%. African airlines experienced a 7.4% increase in traffic compared to a year ago but this relates mainly to the strong upward trend in seasonally-adjusted traffic during the second half of 2015. Capacity rose 5.9%, and load factor climbed 1.0 percentage point to 72.4%, lowest among regions.

Domestic Passenger Markets

Domestic travel demand climbed 3.8% in July compared to July 2015, its slowest pace in 19 months. China and India are booming while more mature markets are stuck in neutral, and Brazil and Russia are sliding backwards. Domestic capacity climbed 3.7%, and load factor rose 0.1 percentage point to 84.0%.

July 2016 (% yoy)World share*RPKASKPLFPLF(%-pt)#(level)$Domestic 36.40%3.80%3.70%0.10%84.00%Australia1.10%0.20%-1.60%1.50%81.10%Brazil1.40%-6.80%-7.80%1.00%84.40%China P.R            8.40%10.20%9.70%0.40%82.10%Indian            1.20%26.20%20.50%3.90%84.50%Japan  &nbs

DST commits 500 Crores for PMs Vision on Startup India
Sep 06,2016

NIDHI (National Initiative for Development and Harnessing Innovations), an umbrella program is pioneered by the Department of Science & Technology(DST), Government of India, for nurturing ideas and innovations (knowledge-based and technology-driven) into successful startups.

In order to realize the Prime Ministers ambitious Initiative on Startup India, DST aims to bring both speed and scale to transform the Startup Ecosystem in the country and has committed 500 crores to implement these new programs in next few years. This was announced by the Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, while addressing the media in New Delhi today.

NIDHI focuses on building a seamless and innovation driven entrepreneurial ecosystem especially by channelizing youth towards it and thereby bringing in the positive impact on the socio-economic development of the country. The program aims to provide technological solutions not only to the pressing needs of the society but also targets to create new avenues for wealth and job creation.

NIDHI, by design connects and strengthens all the links of the innovation chain from scouting to sustaining to securing to scaling to showcasing, because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The key stakeholders of NIDHI includes various departments and ministries of the central government, state governments, academic and R & D institutions, mentors, financial institutions, angel investors, venture capitalists, industry champions and private sectors. NIDHI strongly addresses the new national aspirations by massively scaling up DSTs experience of three decades in promoting innovative startups.

There are 8 components of NIDHI that support each stage of a budding startup from idea to market. The first component PRAYAS (Promoting and Accelerating Young and Aspiring Innovators & Startups), launched on 2nd September, 2016, aims to support innovators to build prototypes of their ideas by providing a grant up to Rs.10 lakhs and an access to Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab). The final component is the Seed Support System which provides up to One Crore rupees per start-up and is implemented through Technology Business Incubators. During the current financial year with a view to drive the innovation and startup centric new initiatives in a scaled up manner for its wider outreach across the country, a 450% increase in allocation (Rs. 180 crores) has been made in the Departments budget.

So far, DST has established more than 100 Technology Business Incubators in academic and R & D institutions of repute. These institutions include IITs, IIMs, NITs and other institutions. Each of these incubator is focused on a Technology Domain and all of these combined together house more than 2000 startups currently and offer a total incubation space of approximately 7 lakh square feet.

The Minister, also mentioned that various successful and high growth stories in affordable health care, diagnostics, applications of unmanned aerial vehicles, renewable energy, service oriented online platforms, payment gateways etc. have emerged out of these incubators.

In the recently concluded National Expert Advisory Committee Meeting on 3rd September, 2016, proposal to establish 6 Centers of Excellence were decided, at SINE- IIT Bombay, Venture Center-NCL Pune, CIIE-IIM Ahmedabad etc.,14 Technology Business Incubators which include IIT Patna and Mizoram University etc.

Ten more Incubators to be supplemented with Seed Support Systems for startups include Startup Oasis-Jaipur, Amrita TBI -Kollam, Venture Center, NCL -Pune etc. establishing a Research Park at IIT Gandhinagar . In addition, a variety of other new programs including a fellowship program for Entrepreneurs i.e. Entrepreneurs in Residence, scaling up of startups through accelerator program and women empowerment through entrepreneurship.

Apart from setting the ground ready for the prospective startups in an enabling an environment of Incubators, DST has also partnered with large corporates like Intel, Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments and Boeing to initiate variety of technology driven and innovation based programs to promote startups. Further, DST has also partnered with Department of Higher Education, MHRD to establish Research Parks and Startup Centers in various academic institutions of national importance.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that Indian youth is highly talented and innovative and through NIDHI we would like to ignite the spark and help the youth to succeed and make India a preferred Startup Nation in near future.

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MoA signed with NABARD for providing central assistance to 99 prioritized irrigation projects under PMKSY
Sep 06,2016

Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti has said that Rs. 77000 crore will be raised during the nest four year from the market for speedy implementation of 99 prioritized projects under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) throughout the country. She was speaking at the signing ceremony of Memorandum of Agreement between Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and NABARD for providing central assistance to 99 prioritized irrigation projects under PMKSY in New Delhi today. The Minister said 56 AIBP projects will cover all most all drought prone districts of 18 States of country. She expressed the hope that with regular monitoring the speedy implementation the Government would be able to complete all the 99 projects well ahead of the schedule.

Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Dr. Sanjeev Balyan, Vice chairman of NITI Ayog Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Shri T. Harish Rao, Water Resources Minister of Telengana, Shri Brijmohan Agrawal, Water Resources Minister of Chhattisgarh, Shri Girish Mahajan, Water Resources Minister of Maharashtra and Shri Shashi Shekhar, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation also addressed the gathering.

The Union Cabinet on July 27, 2016 had approved the Establishment of Mission for completion of 99 prioritized projects and its funding arrangement through NABARD.

Central Government launched the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) in the year 1996-97 to provide Central Assistance to major/medium irrigation projects in the country, with the objective to accelerate implementation of such projects which were beyond resource capability of the States or were in advanced stage of completion. Priority was given to those projects which were started in Pre-Fifth and Fifth Plan period and also to those which were benefiting Tribal and Drought Prone Areas. From the year 1999-2000 onwards, Central Loan Assistance under AIBP was also extended to minor surface irrigation projects (SMI) of special category States (N.E. States & Hill States of H. P., Sikkim, J&K, Uttaranchal and projects benefiting KBK districts of Orissa).

Since its inception, 297 Irrigation / Multi Purpose Projects have been included for funding under AIBP. Out of this 143 projects have been completed and five projects were foreclosed. An irrigation potential of 24.39 Lakh ha has been created through these projects. The cumulative Central Loan Assistance / Grant provided to States under AIBP to all of above project still 31.3.2015 was Rs. 67539.52 crore. Twenty five States got benefited from the programme.

During 2015-16, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) was launched with an aim to enhance physical access of water on farm and expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on farm water use efficiency, introduce sustainable water conservation practices etc. Major and medium irrigation/multipurpose irrigation projects are being funded under PMKSY-AIBP and Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies, Surface Minor Irrigation (SMI) projects and Command Area Development & Water Management (CADWM) projects are being funded under PMKSY-Har Khet Ko Pani (HKKP). During 2015-16, Central Assistance of Rs. 2327.82 crore was released for projects under AIBP and CA of Rs. 1905.81 crore was released for projects under CADWM, SMI and RRR of water bodies together. Total CA of Rs 4233.63 crore was released during 2015-16 for PMKSY (AIBP+HKKP)

The issues related to implementation of projects under PMKSY-HKKP including prioritization of projects were deliberated in the Committee headed by Shri Brijmohan Agrawal, Minister (Water Resources) of Chhattisgarh. As per the information supplied by concerned States to the Committee, 99 projects have been identified for completion upto 2019-20. 23 projects (Priority-I) have been identified to be completed by 2016-17 and another 31 projects (Priority-II) have been identified to be completed by 2017-18. The balance 45 projects (Priority-III) have been identified to be completed by December 2019.

One of the major reasons for the projects to remain incomplete was inadequate provision of funds by the concerned State Governments. As a result, large amount of funds spent on these projects were locked up and the benefits envisaged at the time of formulation of the projects could not be achieved. This was a cause for concern and initiative was required at the national level to remedy the situation.

Total funds required for completion of all the 99 identified projects have been estimated at Rs.77595 crore (Rs.48546 crore for project works and Rs.29049 crore for CAD works) with estimated CA of Rs.31342 crore. Likely potential utilization through these projects is estimated to be 76.03 lakh hectare (Lakh ha).

An outlay of about Rs.11060 crore is indicated to be available from 2015-16 to 2019-20 (as per approved outlay) out of which an amount of Rs. 2327.82 crore has been released to MMI projects. Balance of Rs. 8732.18 crore may be available through budgetary support. However, the requirement of funds to complete the 99 projects is much more than the provision.

The Finance Minister in his budget speech during 2016 has announced for creation of dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) in NABARD with an initial corpus of about Rs. 20,000 Crore and an amount of Rs.12517 crore has been provided as budgetary resources and market borrowings during 2016-17.

Keeping in view of the budgetary constraints, it has been decided to borrow Central share/Assistance (CA) from NABARD as per year-wise requirements which could be paid back in 15 years time keeping a grace period of 3 years. Further, the proposal envisages that the State Governments, if required, may borrow funds from NABARD for the State Share.

The scheme at the Central level has been approved with projects to be completed in a mission mode and a Mission has been established with Additional Secretary/Special Secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation as the Mission Director.

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Service sector growth picks up and outlook brightens: Nikkei India Services PMI
Sep 06,2016

August saw a solid rebound in the rate of expansion in Indian service sector business activity. Output was raised in response to a marked improvement in new work inflows and increased levels of business confidence. The trend in employment remained comparatively subdued, however, with a slight decrease in jobs signalled for the first time since September of last year.

At 54.7 in August, up from 51.9 in July, the seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Services Business Activity Index posted its highest level for over three-and-a-half years. The headline index has now signalled expansion in each of the past 14 months. Output grew in five of the six monitored categories, the exception being Hotels & Restaurants.

With growth of manufacturing production also ticking higher, the seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index climbed from 52.4 in July to a 42-month high of 54.6 in August, highlighting a stronger improvement in private sector economic activity.

Measured across the service economy, the level of incoming new work rose at the quickest pace for three-and-a-half years. Where an expansion was registered, companies mainly linked this to improved market conditions. Similarly, manufacturing order books increased at a sharp rate that was the quickest since December 2014.

Stronger growth of business activity and incoming new work led to a modest recovery in optimism at service providers. Over 27% of companies expect activity to increase over the coming year, compared to 1% that forecast lower output volumes. Business confidence was linked to greater client interest and improved market conditions. Although the degree of positive sentiment rose to its highest since the start of 2015, it should be noted that it remained below its long-run survey average.

August saw no change in the level of Indian private sector employment, as a slight increase at manufacturers offset a mild fall at service providers. The latter registered the first decline in 11 months, but the rate of job shedding was only slight. Decreases in staffing levels were signalled across the Financial Intermediation, Hotels & Restaurants, Post & Telecommunications, Renting & Business Activities and Transport & Storage categories. However, rates of job losses were negligible in all of these categories.

Price pressures in the service sector remained subdued in August. Average costs declined marginally for the second successive month, which firms attributed to lower diesel, fuel and vegetable prices. Meanwhile, average service charges ticked higher, following a slight decrease in the prior survey month. Goods producers signalled further increases in purchase costs and factory gate charges, although rates of inflation eased in both cases.

Latest survey data pointed to additional pressure on the capacity of private sector companies in India as outstanding business rose at manufacturers and service providers alike. Rates of accumulation were at 32- and 22-month highs respectively.

Commenting on the Indian Services PMI survey data, Pollyanna De Lima, economist at IHS Markit, and author of the report, said: The service sector showed upbeat levels of performance in August. New business was the main driver of activity growth, even amid increased competition for new work. It was encouraging to see rates of expansion in output and incoming new work reaching 43- and 42-month highs respectively.

The numbers of in-house staff fell, however, as firms remained somewhat uncertain regarding the sustainability of the upturn in demand. However, a further uptick in backlogs - the sharpest in nearly two years - may lead service providers to create jobs in coming months.

Healthy levels of confidence were also signalled, with firms expecting greater client interest and improved market conditions to underpin output growth in the year ahead. All-in-all, PMI data suggest that the service sector looks set to maintain its strong performance in the months ahead.

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Credit rating of cities under urban reforms begins; Ahmedabad, NDMC get A- - rating
Sep 06,2016

Speedy implementation of new urban missions launched last year has resulted in the Ministry of Urban Development spending 70% of Plan Funds for 2016-17 during the last five months of the current financial year. This was revealed during a review of progress under different missions taken by the Minister of Urban Development Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu.

Under the initiative of Credit Rating of urban local bodies, 85 cities have launched the process and the same has been completed in respect of 12. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has got A- - rating (positive credit worthy). All these 85 cities would be given credit rating by March next year. Pune and Ahmedabad are in advanced stage of going for municipal bonds.

The Minister has directed the officials to follow up with States and ULBs on a regular basis to ensure that all ULBs get credit rating at the earliest which is necessary to float municipal bonds for mobilizing resources.

As a part of handholding the States and Urban Local Bodies for speedy execution of projects under new initiatives, the Ministry of Urban Development has identified substantial sources of resources from various domestic and multi-lateral lending agencies. This includes ; Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank- US $ 5 billion, Asian Development Bank- US $ 1 billion, Japanese International Cooperation Agency- US $ 500 million, BRICS Bank- US $ 500 million per city, AFD-Euro 100-200 million. HUDCO is likely to support Smart City Mission with Rs.10,000 cr.

The Minister was informed that in addition to 68 projects that were launched in 14 smart cities in June this year, another 134 projects have been identified of which 114 projects are under bidding. While the first batch of all 20 smart cities have set up Special Purpose Vehicles, the 13 cities identified under Fast Track Competition would do so by the end of this month.

Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu expressed satisfaction over the Ministry approving an investment of Rs.1.24 lakh crore for improving basic urban infrastructure. This includes Rs.78,000 cr investment under Smart City Plans of 33 cities and another Rs.45,935 cr under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).

Shri Naidu noted that reforms introduced like involvement of States and ULBs in conceptualization of new urban missions, autonomy to States in formulation of projects, their appraisal and approval, competition based selection of cities etc., have begun to yield positive results in the form of speedy clearance of investments.

The Minister directed the concerned officials to take necessary measures jointly with States and ULBs to promote conversion of municipal solid waste into compost.

As against Plan allocation of Rs.21,000 for 2016-17, the Ministry of Urban Development has incurred an expenditure of Rs.14,725 cr till August this year.

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Asia Pacific Shows Progress in Water Security, But Challenges Remain - ADB
Sep 06,2016

Water security in Asia and Pacific has progressed overall in the past 5 years, but major challenges remain, including overexploited groundwater, demand from rising populations, and climate variability, according to a new report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The new edition of the Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO 2016) released at World Water Week in Stockholm provides a snapshot of the water security status of 48 of the regions countries, using latest data sets. According to these, the number of countries assessed as water insecure has dropped to 29, compared to 38 (out of 49 countries) identified in the previous issue of the report in 2013.

n++Asia and Pacific remains the worlds most vulnerable region to water insecurity and cannot sustain its recent economic growth without addressing this issue,n++ said ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono, who led the launch in Stockholm. n++Meeting the regions socioeconomic challenges and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water will require bridging the gap in provision of water services between rich and poor in urban areas, and between rural and urban areas.n++

The report cites that in Asia and the Pacific, 1.7 billion people lack access to basic sanitation. Recent estimates suggest that by 2050, 3.4 billion people could be living in water-stressed areas in Asia and the Pacific while water demand will increase by 55%.

AWDO 2016 assesses water security in 5 key dimensionsn++namely household access, economic viability, urban services, restoring rivers and ecosystems, and resilience to water-related disasters. Advanced economies such as Australia, Japan and New Zealand consistently lead the way, followed by countries in East Asian++led by the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), which has taken the biggest stride to improve water security since the AWDO 2013 edition.

On household access to piped potable water and improved sanitation, the water security score in Asia and the Pacific on a 20-point scale ranges from 4.5 for South Asia to 20.0 for the advanced economies. All parts of the region improved their performance by about 2 points since 2013, except for the Pacific islands. But although the rural-urban gap has been reduced in some countries (such as Armenia and Thailand), the report says major disparities remain between rural and urban areas and between rich and poor on services and infrastructure for piped water supply and sanitation. South Asian countries particularly need to make considerable efforts to improve their performance in this dimension.

The second key dimension, economic water security, provides an assessment of the productive use of water to sustain economic growth in food production, industry and energy. Most of the change since 2013 has been positive with advanced countries again showing the highest scores and Pacific islands lagging. But there remains room for improvement across the region. Countries that merit strengthening current conditions are concentrated in Central Asia.

On No. 3, urban water security, East Asia has shown positive progress while South and Southeast Asia still have some way to go, particularly Myanmar, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Nearly half of the economies have piped water supply levels higher than 85% but less than 50% of the urban population have access to improved sanitation. In many areas, the majority of wastewater is discharged to the environment having received little to no treatment. The report says significant investment and leadership is needed to reliably meet the water needs of cities.

The fourth key dimension describes how well a country is able to manage its river basins and sustain ecosystem services. This shows a wide range of results, with the Pacific islands scoring highly due to good river health and advanced economies doing well due to strong governance. Declining river health is most evident in Bangladesh, the lower Yangtze River Basin of the PRC, Nepal, and Mekong Delta in Viet Nam, the report says.

For the fifth key dimension, resilience to water-related disasters, advanced economies show the strongest performance while much of the rest of Asia and the Pacific has been weak. Between 1995 and 2015, there were some 2,495 water-related disasters striking Asia, killing 332,000 people and affecting a further 3.7 billion. South Asia showed the lowest resilience score, but several other countries showed strong improvement since 2013. These included Pakistan; the Philippines; and Taipei,China.

The report concludes that the relationship between water security and the economy can be a virtuousn++or a viciousn++circle. n++There is a strong relationship between water management and the economy, and investments in good water management can be considered as a longer term payback for increased growth and poverty reduction,n++ the publication says. n++Water-related investments can increase economic productivity and growth, while economic growth provides the resources to invest in institutions and capital-intensive water infrastructure.n++

AWDO 2016 is produced by ADB in partnership with the Asia Pacific Water Forum and three specialist agenciesn++Asia Pacific Center for Water Security at Tsinghua University, International Water Management Institute, and International Water Centre. Key contributions have also been made by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

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Good rains set to move up earnings of farm related firms: ASSOCHAM study
Sep 06,2016

Thanks to bountiful rains this year, a large part of corporate India with direct connect with the agro and the entire rural economy is set to post handsome growth in the coming two quarters in sales and profitability ranging between 15 and 45% with benefits of Monsoon accruing to several mid and large cap firms Mahindra and Mahindra, Rallis India and Jain Irrigation, according to an ASSOCHAM paper.

n++The firms benefiting directly from abundant rainfall relate to those in the irrigation infrastructure, farm equipment like tractors, seed development and the food processingn++, the ASSOCHAM comprehensive Paper Monsoon Showers Fortune on Farm Related Firms noted.

It said a host of other firms engaged in fertilizers, seeds, farm equipment, food processing and consumer consumption would immensely benefit from a sizeable improvement in the demand for farm inputs as also higher farmers income leading to a significant rise in rural demand.

The paper projected that with a good monsoon, sale of tractors for Mahindra and Mahindra is expected to rise. The sale during the Sep-Mar 2017 window is expected by at least over 15 per cent, also resulting in commensurate uptick in bottom line. Other leading tractor and farm equipment firms including Escorts and VST Tillers Tractors are also expected to do well both in income and net earnings, according to the paper.

n++With Monsoon being the lifeline of the Indian economy, it is no surprise that good rains would bring good fortune not only to the companies engaged in the farm related sectors but also the entire macro picture,n++ ASSOCHAM President Mr. Sunil Kanoria said.

Likewise, for Rallis India is a subsidiary of the Tata Group which is a key player in the agriculture business, bountiful rains are expected to generate 33.58% higher sales during the monsoon months. Positive monsoon sentiment has already started showing its results. The company has reported a profit of Rs 174.20 crores for its first quarter of 2016, implying a 55% increase in sales.

Similarly, Coromandel International, a mid cap company operating in fertilizers sector is likely to see a trend of surge in sale during the months Sep-March, post the active period of monsoon and sowing of seeds. The company is expected to see a rise in sales by 5.13% for the period March -September 16, and a 19.82% for the period September 16-March 17.

Jain Irrigation Systems is a leading manufacturer of micro irrigation systems, piping, tissue cultured plants, solar photovoltaic and solar water heating systems. Micro irrigation systems and related products make up about 40% of the total sales of the company. Piping is also partly dependent on water and monsoon rains. A positive monsoon for the year 2016 is projected to put the irrigation business in good shape. A growth of 17-18% is expected in the sales during the monsoon season as well as the lean season.

Likewise, the leading sugar firms like Balram Chini and Mawana Sugar are projected to improve their performance significantly in the coming months, thanks to rain Gods and firming of prices.

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