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Rabi Crops Sowing Crosess 637 Lakh Hactare
Jan 30,2017

As per preliminary reports received from the States, the total area sown under Rabi crops as on 27th January 2017 stands at 637.34 lakh hectares as compared to 600.02 lakh hectare this time in 2016.

Wheat has been sown/transplanted in 315.55 lakh hectares, rice in 21.77 lakh hectares, pulses in 159.28 lakh hectares, coarse cereals in 56.90 lakh hectares and area sown under oilseeds is 83.84 lakh hectares.

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

Lakh hectare 

CropArea sown in 2016-17Area sown in 2015-16Wheat315.55292.52Rice21.7725.64Pulses159.28143.05Coarse Cereals56.9060.24Oilseeds83.8478.58Total637.34600.02

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CWC Signs MoU with IIT Madras and IIS Bengaluru to Support Their Dam Safety Capacity Building
Jan 30,2017

Central Water Commission (CWC) under the Ministry of Water Resources River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation signed two separate MoUs with IIT Madras and IIS Bengaluru. This will help them for the procurement of specified equipment and software for enhancing their capability to support dam rehabilitation efforts of CWC.

The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has taken on board selected premier academic and research institutes, for capacity building in the areas of dam safety through World Bank assisted Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP). The scope includes strengthening the testing laboratories, enhancing analytical capabilities, exposure visits to best global institutions and on ground exposure to dam safety concerns to the faculty of these institutions.

DRIP is assisting rehabilitation of 250 dams in seven States which are experiencing different levels of distress. Owners of these dams require technical support for the investigation of site conditions and supporting rehabilitation efforts. The Government of India has decided to enhance the capability of select premier institutes in dam safety areas so that they, in turn, carry out field investigations at dam sites and provide training and consulting services to assist the dam owners in their dam rehabilitation efforts. It is a holistic effort of the Government of India to equip our national institutions to develop capability and expertise at par with global institutions in the times to come.

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National MSME Policy to be formulated for the First Time in India
Jan 30,2017

Dr.Prabhat Kumar, former Cabinet Secretary and Chairman One Member Committee for formulating National MSME Policy today presented its report to Shri Kalraj Mishra, Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. The One Member Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Prabhat Kumar was constituted by the Ministry of MSME on 31 December 2015 to help in formulating National MSME Policy. The country does not have an MSME policy till date.

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Clarifications on implementation of GAAR provisions under the Income Tax Act, 1961
Jan 30,2017

The General Anti Avoidance Rule (GAAR) provisions shall be effective from the Assessment Year 2018-19 onwards, i.e. Financial Year 2017-18 onwards. The necessary procedures for application of GAAR and conditions under which it shall not apply, have been enumerated in Rules 10U to 10UC of the Income-tax Rules, 1962.The provisions of General Anti Avoidance Rule (GAAR) are contained in Chapter X-A of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Stakeholders and industry associations had requested for clarifications on implementation of GAAR provisions and a Working Group was constituted by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to examine the issues raised. Accordingly, CBDT has issued the clarifications on implementation of GAAR provisions today.

Amongst others, it has been clarified that if the jurisdiction of FPI is finalized based on non-tax commercial considerations and the main purpose of the arrangement is not to obtain tax benefit, GAAR will not apply. GAAR will not interplay with the right of the taxpayer to select or choose method of implementing a transaction. Further, grandfathering as per IT Rules will be available to compulsorily convertible instruments, bonus issuances or split / consolidation of holdings in respect of investments made prior to 1st April 2017 in the hands of same investor. It has also been clarified that adoption of anti-abuse rules in tax treaties may not be sufficient to address all tax avoidance strategies and the same are required to be tackled through domestic anti-avoidance rules. However, if a case of avoidance is sufficiently addressed by Limitation of Benefits (LoB) provisions in the tax treaty, there shall not be an occasion to invoke GAAR.

It has been clarified that if at the time of sanctioning an arrangement, the Court has explicitly and adequately considered the tax implications, GAAR will not apply to such an arrangement. It has also been clarified that GAAR will not apply if an arrangement is held as permissible by the Authority for Advance Rulings. Further, it has been clarified that if an arrangement has been held to be permissible in one year by the PCIT/CIT/Approving Panel and the facts and circumstances remain the same, GAAR will not be invoked for that arrangement in a subsequent year.

The proposal to apply GAAR will be vetted first by the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax / Commissioner of Income Tax and at the second stage by an Approving Panel headed by a judge of High Court. The stakeholders have been assured that adequate procedural safeguards are in place to ensure that GAAR is invoked in a uniform, fair and rational manner.

Government is committed to provide certainty and clarity in tax rules. Further clarifications, if any, on doubts of stakeholders regarding GAAR implementation, will also be provided.

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NEC and Ministry of Textiles sign MoU to harness the hidden potential of Cane & Bamboo of NER
Jan 30,2017

The North Eastern Council (NEC) and the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)in Shillong today, to harness the hidden potential of Cane and Bamboo of North Eastern Region. The MoU was signed by the Secretary, NEC Shri Ram Muivah and Development Commissioner(Handicrafts) Shri Alok Kumar.

The MoU provides a push for the integrated and inclusive development of Cane & Bamboo Sector of North East Region by way of skilled manpower, technology dissemination, marketing support and institutional support required for the holistic development of Bamboo which can coordinate a mission to mobilise masses and promote Bamboo sector as a whole throughout the country.

The NEC and the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) will promote Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre (CBTC), Assam and the Bamboo & Cane Development Institute (BCDI), Tripura, as the Centres of Excellence not only in the North East Region, but also in South East Asia.

As per the MoU, the CBTC will be transformed into a Regional Centre of Excellence and the BCDI will be converted as a separate entity under the name Indian Institute of Bamboo Technology (IIBT). CBTC and BCDI will collaborate for Institutional support for bamboo sector and will generate awareness and cultivating knowledge base among the masses about possibilities of sustainable utilisation of the raw materials cultivated by the sector.

CBTC and BCDI will serve as a platform for generating and exchanging the knowledge base on the product development in Cane and Bamboo through the Discipline of Product Design and Innovation. The collective knowledge base of the sector would be documented and made available through library resources, multimedia, publications and online resources. The Discipline of Bamboo and Cane product Innovation will help in defining the criteria for Industry standards and certification in terms of Quality and protecting the geographical rights for traditional innovations.

To establish the presence of bamboo and cane as an economically strong industry, education will be imparted at various levels; to Craftsmen and Entrepreneurs, Designers, Farmers, Technologists and Marketing and Management professionals. Training programmes on subjects such as Entrepreneurship development among the artisan community with inputs in product innovation and design will also be provided in order to contribute in the up gradation of the socio economic status of the cane and bamboo industry in the region and at a national level. Inputs in business management and entrepreneurship development will also be a part of the curriculum. The knowledge base developed from such exercises will be fed into the educational programmes like

a) PG Diploma in Bamboo Cultivation & Resource Utilization

b) B.Tech Course in Cane & Bamboo Technology

c) Ph.D/Research Program

d) Establishing satellite Centres in the other NER states

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Cabinet approves Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana - 2017
Jan 24,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its post-facto approval for launching of Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017 (VPBY 2017). It is a part of Governments commitment for financial inclusion and social security.

The scheme will be implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) during the current financial year to provide social security during old age and protect elderly persons aged 60 years and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions.

The scheme will provide an assured pension based on a guaranteed rate of return of 8% per annum for ten years, with an option to opt for pension on a monthly / quarterly / halfyearly and annual basis. The differential return, i.e., the difference between the return generated by LIC and the assured return of 8% per annum would be borne by Government of India as subsidy on an annual basis.

VPBY-2017 is proposed to be open for subscription for a period of one year from the date of launch.

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Cabinet approves farm interest waiver for Nov-Dec 2016 period
Jan 24,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for interest waiver for the two months of November and December 2016 for farmers accessing short term crop loans from Cooperative Banks. The decision also provides for interest subvention to National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) on additional refinance by NABARD to Cooperative Banks.

Farmers in the whole of India availing short term crop loans, from Cooperative Banks will be benefitted.

The decision intends to ensure availability of resources with Cooperative Banks help farmers in easily accessing crop loans from Cooperative Banks to overcome the difficulties in view of the reduction in availability of cash for carrying out Rabi operations.

Additional resources are to be provided to Cooperative Banks through NABARD for refinance to the Cooperative Banks on account of interest waiver of two months for November and December, 2016. This will be extended by Cooperative Banks to the farmers in the current financial year 2016-17. An additional financial liability of Rs 1060.50 crore will be required for this purpose. A sum of Rs 15000 crore allocated during 2016-17 to implement the Interest Subvention Scheme (ISS) has already been utilised.

The Government of India has, since 2006-07, been implementing the Interest Subvention Scheme under which short-term crop loans upto Rs 3 lakh are made available to the farmers at an interest rate of 7% per annum by the Public Sector Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Cooperative Banks. Farmers are provided with 3% interest subvention for short term crop loan upto Rs 3 lakhs on prompt repayment of the loan. Thus, farmers have to effectively pay only 4% as interest for the said crop loan.

Due to the cancellation of legal tender character of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and the resulting difficulty faced by the farmers in en-cashing the cheques received against sale proceeds of their Kharif produce in the mandis; and also their constraints with adequacy of cash in carrying out Rabi operations and servicing the interest of the short term crop loans, especially in view of the restrictions imposed on Cooperative Banks, an interest waiver is being provided for a period of 2 months i.e. November & December 2016 to farmers who were disbursed crop loan from Cooperative Banks between 01 April 2016 and 30 April 2016.

The provision of additional financial resource of Rs 1060.50 crore is on account of (i) meeting the cost of interest waiver for 2 months ( November and December 2016) for crop loan disbursed by Cooperative Banks between 01 April 2016 and 30 April 2016 to farmers and (ii) providing interest subvention and administrative cost to NABARD on short term borrowing of about Rs 20000 crore for on-lending to Cooperatives Banks in the current financial year.

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Cabinet approves a new scheme for promotion of rural housing in the country
Jan 24,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved a new scheme for promotion of Rural Housing in the country. The Government would provide interest subsidy under the scheme. Interest subsidy would be available to every rural household who is not covered under the Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana (Grameen), PMAY(G).

The scheme would enable people in rural areas to construct new houses or add to their existing pucca houses to improve their dwelling units. The beneficiary who takes a loan under the scheme would be provided interest subsidy for loan amount upto Rs. 2 Lakhs.

National Housing Bank would implement the scheme. The Government would provide net present value of the interest subsidy of 3 percent to the National Housing Bank upfront which will, in turn, pass it to the Primary Lending Institutions (Scheduled Commercial Banks, NBFCs etc.). As a result the equated monthly installment (EMI) for the beneficiary would be reduced.

Under the scheme, the Government would also take necessary steps for proper convergence with PMAY-G including technical support to beneficiary through existing arrangements. The new scheme is expected to improve housing stock in the rural areas, as well as create employment opportunities in rural housing sector.

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FFO of CPSE ETF gets overwhelming response as issue gets oversubscribed by wide margin
Jan 21,2017

The Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE) Exchange Trade Fund (ETF) gets overwhelming response as issue gets over-subscribed by wide margin. CPSE ETF FFO gets bids of approx Rs. 12,000 crore (US$ 1.7 billion) -- Over two and half times the Base Issue size of Rs 4,500 crore (US$471 million). FFO was launched from January 17, 2017 till January 20, 2017. Investors across all categories offered 5% upfront discount.

CPSE ETF FFO received applications from over 2 lakh investors across 300 cities across India. This was the largest Disinvestment Program undertaken by the Government of India using ETF and largest fund offering by any Mutual Fund in India till date. Anchor investors submitted bids of Rs 6,000 crore (US$ 895.5 Million).

Morgan Stanley, Nomura, Kotak MF, EPFO, SBI Bank, LIC amongst prominent Domestic and Foreign Institutions that participated as Anchor Investors. Non-Anchor portion received bids of Rs 6,000 crore -- two times of Rs 3,000 crore ( Base) reserved in the issue. Non-anchor portion was largely subscribed by retail investors and PFS - both domestic and foreign.

Retail Investors will get First Preference and assured allotment as part of the CPSE ETF FFO norms. CPSE ETF FFO planned to raise up to Rs 4,500 crore (US$ 671 Million). As Base Issue size, with an option to retain over-subscription of Rs. 1500 crore.

Further Fund offer is part of larger Disinvestment Program announced by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), Ministry of Finance.

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Ministry of Railways Signs Joint Venture Agreement with the Govt. of Jharkhand
Jan 21,2017

A Joint Venture Agreement was signed on 20th January 2017 between Ministry of Railways and Government of Jharkhand for developing railway infrastructure in the State.

n++n++ This Joint Venture agreement for development of Railway Infrastructure will

n++n++ Provide active representation to States in the Planning and Implementation of Railway Infrastructure Projects

n++n++ Speed up the Development of Railway Projects on staten++fs priority

n++n++ Generate more financial resources through participation of State & other stakeholders in the project specific subsidiaries

n++n++ Government of Jharkhand has initially identified 3 projects viz., Namkum - Kandra, Giridih - Parasnath-Madhuban, Tori - Chatra Rail Line covering a length of 222 km at a cost of Rs. 2150 Crore for taking up through the proposed JV Company after establishing their viability, bankability and financial closure.

n++n++ Governments of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat have already signed JV agreement with Ministry of Railways.

n++n++ Government of Jharkhand with 51% equity is the 9th State which had agreed to form a Joint Venture Company with the Ministry of Railways.

n++n++ The present railway network density in Jharkhand is 17.64 Km per 100 square Km which is the best in India and way above the national average of 2.01 Km per 100 square Km.

n++n++ Signing of these JVs will go a long way in developing infrastructure in the State of Jharkhand.

n++n++ The average outlay to Jharkhand in Railway Budget was Rs.1544.3 crore during 2014-15 to 2016-17 which is an increase of 238% over the average outlay of 457.2 crore during 2009-10 to 2013-14.

BACKGROUND:

n++n++ Indian Railways has been playing a major role in national integration by connecting the remotest places and bringing people closer to each other. Railways receive a large number of demands for network expansion as a Railway line acts as an engine of growth for the area it serves.

n++n++ Railways have a large shelf of ongoing New Line, Gauge Conversion and Doubling projects needing about Rs 3.86 lakh crores to complete. We have been trying to meet the aspirations of public within limited availability of funds.

n++n++ To expedite the projects, Railways have been trying to mobilize resources through other than Gross Budgetary Support. Towards this mission, 10 State Governments have till now agreed to share the cost of 41 ongoing projects ranging from 25% to 67% of the project cost. Some States are providing land free of cost in addition to sharing of construction cost.

n++n++ In view of the growing demands for Railway Lines in various States and huge requirement of funds to execute them, Honn++fble Minister for Railways has taken an initiative for setting up of Joint Ventures with States for focused project development, resource mobilization, land acquisition, project implementation and monitoring of critical rail projects.

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Ministry of AYUSH and Advertising Standards Council of India sign MoU to co-regulate misleading advertisements in the AYUSH sector
Jan 21,2017

In order to curtail malpractices in the advertisement of AYUSH drugs, the Ministry of AYUSH has signed a MoU with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). Addressing the cases of misleading advertisements with respect to Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy drugs, treatments and related services, ASCI will comprehensively monitor these advertisements across print and electronic media. The MoU was signed by Advisor (Ayurveda), Ministry of AYUSH Dr, Dinesh Chan Katoch and Chairman, ASCI Shri Srinivasan K Swamy in the presence of Secretary AYUSH Shri Ajit M Sharan at New Delhi.

ASCI has been given a self-monitoring mandate by the Ministry of AYUSH to identify potentially misleading advertisement in the AYUSH sector and process complaints through its Consumer Complaints Council (CCC). The Ministry of AYUSH will also redirect complaints against misleading advertisements they receive, to the ASCI, which will be reviewed using ASCIs code and guidelines. The MoU also requires ASCI to report to the Ministry of AYUSH, all advertisements in potential violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 and Rules thereunder as well as non-compliance of ASCIs CCC recommendations for the Ministry of AYUSH to take further action.

Commenting on the partnership, Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH Sh. Ajit M. Sharan, said that the MOU is yet another important step taken by the AYUSH ministry to ensure that Indian consumers have access to safe and effective medicines. The arrangement would also ensure that any advertisement making claims for diseases and disorders, in violation of the existing regulations, are immediately brought to our attention.

Chairman, ASCI, Sh. S.K. Swamy, added that AYUSH is among top three sectors where we find a high incidence of misleading advertisements and some of the advertisements in the AYUSH sector claiming treatment of certain diseases in violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Regulations have been a cause of concern. ASCIs partnership with the Ministry of AYUSH will provide the necessary support to our efforts in effectively curtailing misleading advertisements in this sector.

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Indias natural gas production flat in December 2016
Jan 19,2017

Indias natural gas production was flat at 2.74 billion cubic meters (bcm) in December 2016 over December 2015. Natural gas output of ONGC rose 5.9% to 1.93 bcm, but that of private and JV companies dipped 13.6% to 0.56 bcm. Meanwhile, the natural gas production of Oil India also fell 7.4% to 0.25 bcm in December 2016.

Natural gas output declined 3.3% to 23.89 bcm in April-December 2016 over April-December 2015.

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Indias crude oil refinery output rises 5.3% in December 2016
Jan 19,2017

Indias crude oil refinery output increased 5.3% to 20.73 million tonnes (mt) in December 2016 over December 2015. The output of public sector refineries improved 11.2% to 11.39 mt, while the output of private refineries dipped 3.0% to 7.89 mt. Further, the refinery output of public-private JV refiners moved up 11.0% to 1.45 mt in December 2016.

Among public refineries, the output of Chennai Petroleum Corporation increased 48.1% to 0.70 mt, while the output of Bharat Petroleum Corporation moved up 12.7% to 2.19 mt and Indian Oil Corporation 12.3% to 5.36 mt in December 2016 over December 2015. The output of Numaligarh Refineries also inched up 11.2% to 0.26 mt and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation 7.7% to 1.54 mt, but the output of Mangalore Refineries declined 3.5% to 1.33 mt in December 2016.

Among private refiners, the output of Reliance Petroleum fell 3.0% to 6.20 mt, while that of Essar Oil declined 3.3% to 1.70 mt in December 2016 over December 2015. Among JV refineries, the output of Bharat Oman jumped 28.0% to 0.58 mt, while the output of HPCL Mittal rose 2.0% to 0.87 mt in December 2015.

The cumulative refinery output increased 6.7% to 178.59 mt in April-December 2016. The output of public refineries increased 10.9% to 96.45 mt, while that of private refineries moved up 2.9% to 70.32 mt. The refinery output of JV refineries declined 1.7% to 11.82 mt in April-December 2016. Among public refineries, the output of Chennai Petroleum Corporation improved 21.2%, Indian Oil Corporation 12.9%, Bharat Petroleum Corporation 8.4%, Mangalore Refineries 7.7%, Numaligarh Refineries 6.5% and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation 5.4%.

The overall capacity utilization was lower at 109.7% in December 2016 compared with 110.6% in December 2015, while it was higher at 106.1% in April-December 2016 compared with 105.5% in April-December 2015.

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Indias crude oil production declines 0.8% in December 2016
Jan 19,2017

Indias crude oil production declined 0.8% to 3.06 million tonnes (mt) in December 2016 over December 2015. Crude oil output of ONGC rose 0.5% to 1.90 mt, while that of Oil India also improved 3.9% to 0.28 mt. However, the crude oil production of private and joint venture (JV) companies dipped 4.8% to 0.87 mt in December 2016. ONGCs offshore output declined 0.7% to 1.40 mt, while onshore production rose 3.7% to 0.51 mt.

Crude oil output fell 3.2% to 27.05 mt in April-December period of the fiscal year ending March 2017 (April-December 2016), in addition to 0.8% fall recorded in the corresponding period of last year. Output of ONGC eased 1.5% to 16.63 mt, while that of Oil India declined 0.8% to 2.43 mt and private companies fell 7.3% to 7.99 mt in April-December 2016 over April-December 2015.

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Negotiation Committee Constituted on Mahanadi and its Tributaries
Jan 19,2017

Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has constituted a negotiations committee to assess availability and utilisation of waters of Mahanadi and its tributaries. The committee will also examine existing water sharing agreements on river Mahanadi and will consider claims of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand regarding availability and utilisation of waters of these rivers.

The committee has been set up with reference to complaint of State of Odisha under section 3 of the ISRWD Act, 1956 regarding utilisation of waters of Mahandi Basin. The committee will be chaired by Member (WP&P), Central Water Commission and will have 11 other members comprising representatives from the States of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, Union Ministries of Agriculture, Environment Forest and Climate Change, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, India Meteorological Department and Central Water Commission. The committee has been asked to submit its report within three months.

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