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CILs Initiative to Prevent Pilferage of Coal From Mines
Aug 11,2016

Coal India (CIL) has adopted several measures based on Information Technology to contain pilferage of coal. Steps like implementing of Global Positioning System(GPS)based vehicle tracking system on trucks carrying coal to arrest diversion of coal en route, installation of Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTVs) at vulnerable points like entry/exit gate, weigh bridges, sidings etc. to keep a regular watch, installation of Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) tags on vehicles with readers at suitable locations and boom barriers based on RFID to identify illegal trucks carrying coal and connecting weigh bridges with Coal Net to capture and monitor weights of the coal carrying vehicles, etc help in preventing pilferage of coal from mines in the country. n++Control rooms have been established in each areas of the company in order to take prompt action whenever any alert or exception report is generated from the vehicle tracking system, the Minister added.

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Mormugao Port Registers Growth of 85.64 percent in traffic handling; Major Ports Grow at 5.28 percent
Aug 11,2016

Mormugao Port registered a stupendous growth of 85.64 percent in traffic handling during the period April to July, 2016 as compared to the corresponding period last month. The average growth of the twelve Major Ports during the period between April- July stood at 5.28 percent.

The total traffic handled at Major Ports during April to July, 2016 was 212.78 MT against 202.11 MT handled during the corresponding period of previous year. Six ports namely Paradip, Visakhapatnam, V.O. Chidambaranar, Cochin, Mormugao and Kandla registered positive growth.

Mormugao Port registered growth of 85.64, Paradip stood second with growth of 17.75 percent, the third spot was taken by Vishakhapatnam at 13.75 percent, Kandla Port registered growth of 8.12 percent followed by Cochin and V.O. Chidambaranar at 5.42 and 0.02 percent repectively. The astounding growth rate of Murmagao Port was due to increase in Iron Ore (1462.69%) and Thermal & Steam Coal (167.16%) traffic.

Six ports registered negative growth namely Kamarakar Port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Kolkata Port (Kolkata Dock System (KDS) + Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), Mumbai Port Trust, Chennai Port and New Manglore Port Trust. Decline in Kamrajar Port growth was due to reduction in Thermal & Steam Coal Traffic by 8.96 percent followed by other Miscellaneous Cargo by 3.04 per cent.

During the period between April to July, 2016 Kandla Port handled the highest volume of traffic i.e. 35.85 MTs, followed by Paradip with 28.65 MTs, JNPT with 20.93 MTS and Vishakhapatnam at 20.90 MTs. Mumbai Port came a close 5th with 20.11 MTs, followed by Chennai Port (17.41 MTs), V.O. Chidambaranar (13.06 MTs), New Manglore Port Trust (11.58 MTs), Kamarajar Port (10.12 MTs), Mormugao Port (99.54 MTs), Cochin Port (78.24 MTs) and Kolkata Port (KDS (5386)+HDS (10,966)- 16,352 MTs).

Among the commodities, POL (Petroleum, Oil & Lubricants) percent share was maximum with 31.98 percent, followed by container (19.5 percent), Thermal & Steam Coal (16.87 percent), Other Miscellaneous Cargo (11.52 percent), Coking & Other Coal (8.18 percent), Iron Ore & Pellets (5.55 percent), Other Liquids (4.09 percent), Finished Fertilizers (1.26 percent) & FRM (1.05 Percent).

Apart from Fertilizer (-11.36 percent) and FRM (-9.49 percent) all other commodities registered positive growth. Iron ore traffic registered the highest growth of 124.85 percent, while Coking & other Coal traffic registered the least growth of 0.57 percent. ...

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Central Railside Warehouse Company plans to set up ten warehouses
Aug 11,2016

The Central Railside Warehouse Company (CRWC), a subsidiary of Central Warehousing Corporation has planned 10 new warehouses with temperature controlled system at rail heads to facilitate handling and storage bagged commodities. The company has also undertaken up gradation of its existing 19 Railside Warehousing complexes across the country with the cost of Rs.200 crore. Briefing about the activities and plans of the Corporation to the members of Parliamentary Consultative Committee here today, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & public Distribution said that working of the corporation is being diversified to make its operations more competitive.

He said that as part of its diversification initiatives, CRWC has entered into a Joint Venture agreement with IFFCO Kisan SEZ (IKSEX), Indian Potash Limited for development of integrated Railside warehouse Complex and Freight terminal at Nellore. It has proposed to set up silos for storage of foodgrains for FCI at Jalalabad and New Jalpaiguri with the Railways. He informed that CRWC is also planning a foray into road transportation and has been awarded a contract for transportation of Manganese Ore for Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. The corporation is in discussions with NTPC for exploring avenues for bulk transportation of Fly Ash through specialized rakes.

Briefing about performance of Consumer Helpline being run by Department of Consumer Affairs, Shri Paswan informed to the members that capacity of the call center is being increased to 49 desks from existing 14 and it will be further expanded to 60. Six zonal Helpline centers will also be set up at Ahmedabad, Banalore, Guwahati, Kolkata, Patna and Jaipur. A cloud based new Customer relations Software has been developed to integrate the entire consumer grievance handling activities at helpline centers. Web chat and Mobile App will be developed in near future for handling consumer complaints.

Participating discussions, Members of Parliament suggested a publicity campaign to create awareness about consumer redressal system including the Consumer Helpline. They were of the view that disposal of cases at consumer forums should be expedited by strengthening infrastructure. The meeting was attend by S/Shri Balabhadra Majhi, K Ashok Kumar, Ram Prasad Sarmah and Ramesh Chander Kaushik.

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Central Railside Warehouse Company plans to set up ten ware houses
Aug 11,2016

The Central Railside Warehouse Company (CRWC), a subsidiary of Central Warehousing Corporation has planned 10 new warehouses with temperature controlled system at rail heads to facilitate handling and storage bagged commodities. The company has also undertaken up gradation of its existing 19 Railside Warehousing complexes across the country with the cost of Rs.200 crore. Briefing about the activities and plans of the Corporation to the members of Parliamentary Consultative Committee here today, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & public Distribution said that working of the corporation is being diversified to make its operations more competitive.

He said that as part of its diversification initiatives, CRWC has entered into a Joint Venture agreement with IFFCO Kisan SEZ (IKSEX), Indian Potash Limited for development of integrated Railside warehouse Complex and Freight terminal at Nellore. It has proposed to set up silos for storage of foodgrains for FCI at Jalalabad and New Jalpaiguri with the Railways. He informed that CRWC is also planning a foray into road transportation and has been awarded a contract for transportation of Manganese Ore for Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. The corporation is in discussions with NTPC for exploring avenues for bulk transportation of Fly Ash through specialized rakes.

Briefing about performance of Consumer Helpline being run by Department of Consumer Affairs, Shri Paswan informed to the members that capacity of the call center is being increased to 49 desks from existing 14 and it will be further expanded to 60. Six zonal Helpline centers will also be set up at Ahmedabad, Banalore, Guwahati, Kolkata, Patna and Jaipur. A cloud based new Customer relations Software has been developed to integrate the entire consumer grievance handling activities at helpline centers. Web chat and Mobile App will be developed in near future for handling consumer complaints.

Participating discussions, Members of Parliament suggested a publicity campaign to create awareness about consumer redressal system including the Consumer Helpline. They were of the view that disposal of cases at consumer forums should be expedited by strengthening infrastructure. The meeting was attend by S/Shri Balabhadra Majhi, K Ashok Kumar, Ram Prasad Sarmah and Ramesh Chander Kaushik.

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CPI reflects the realistic picture of the prices of consumer goods and services
Aug 11,2016

Consumer Price Indices (Rural, Urban, Combined), compiled by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, reflects the realistic picture of the prices of consumer goods and services because of the following reasons:

n++ prices are collected from 1,181 selected village markets covering all districts of the country for rural areas and from 1,114 urban markets of 310 selected towns of urban areas;

n++ these markets are, more or less equally, distributed over different weeks of a month to capture price variations during the month;

n++ only transaction prices, that is prices actually paid by the consumers, are collected for compilation of indices;

n++ the items having significant share in the overall consumption expenditure of the households, including the Public Distribution System (PDS) items and the items consumed by majority of the households are included in the basket; and

n++ specifications of items have been fixed, market wise, on the basis of popularity of the varieties and common buying behaviour, including common quantity purchased in that area.

Further, in the web - based data collection of rural and urban prices, there are facilities for checking real time uploading status and scrutiny of prices.

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Lot more families heading for holidays for coming week-ends: ASSOCHAM
Aug 11,2016

As the Independence Day extends the coming week-end and then the next week would have Raksha Bandhan holiday in lot of work places, the families are heading for short holidays in and around metro cities in far more numbers than the comparable period last year around August 15, an ASSOCHAM quick survey has pointed out.

As many 42% more of short duration domestic travellers would be driving or flying for leisure during this weekend than the same period in 2015, the survey found. Many Indians are travelling during the long weekend from August 13 to on 18 within the country. Working couples in metros flee taking advantage of the two public holidays for Independence Day (August 15) and Raksha Bandhan (August 18) in the same week. Almost half of the employees have applied for 2-3 casual leaves or restricted holidays to make it an extended holiday, the ASSOCHAM said.

The Associated Chamber of Commerce and industry of India (ASSOCHAM) carried out the survey in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Lucknow and Ahemdabad and interacted with as many as 350 tour operators. The estimates made by the ASSOCHAM are based on feedback received from various tour operators, travel portals, hoteliers.

As per the leading travel agencies and hoteliers, they have received maximum of bookings for traditional picturesque destinations of Jaipur, Manali, Shimla, Mussorrie, Nainital, Goa and Mount Abu. Tour operators are offering exciting new packages for couples and corporate houses to cash in on the newly developed concept of monsoon tourism.

As per the estimates, about 18-20 lakh travellers are likely to make a voyage to these renowned destinations, according to an ASSOCHAM analysis based on the feedback received from various tour operators and hoteliers in traditional tourist hot spots around these cities.

The weekend starting this Independence Day on gets extended up to Raksha Bandhan on Thursday (August 18) and about 46 per cent of working couples in Delhi-NCR have planned to make it an extended holiday and escape to the nearby tourist destinations, highlighted the ASSOCHAM survey.

As per the leading travel agencies and hoteliers, they have received maximum of bookings for traditional picturesque destinations of Jaipur, Manali, Shimla, Mussorrie, Nainital, Goa and Mount Abu. Tour operators are offering exciting new packages for couples and corporate houses to cash in on the newly developed concept of monsoon tourism.

Domestic travel gets a boost during the short holidays.....Though the required infrastructure needs to be jacked up, said Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM.

Destinations like Agra, Bharatpur bird sanctuary , Dharamshala, Haridwar, Jaipur, Jim Corbett, Landsdowne, Mathura & Vrindavan, Manali, Mussorrie, Nainital, Rishikesh, Shimla, Vaishno Devi and others are amid top weekend getaway destinations, add the Delhi tour operators.

Working couples in Mumbai planning a quick holiday this long weekend in Mahabaleshwar, Khandala, Lonavala and Matheran are some of the leading tour hot spots as tour operators have received maximum bookings in these areas.

Those with hefty pockets are going for a quick holiday to internationally renowned low-cost destinations like Thailand, Mauritius, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai, further noted the ASSOCHAM survey.

As per the paper, many hoteliers, travel agent have come up with their attractive offers for domestic routes. As per the findings, there is a rising trend seen wherein the Indian travellers are looking for short but multiple holiday experiences in a year, adds the paper.

Religious tourism is also on a high among travellers this season and the footfall at destinations like Golden temple (Amritsar), Vaishno Devi, Khatu Shayam (Rajasthan), Udaipur, Ashtvinayak and Char Dham is most likely to three-fold this weekend as of the overall bookings 20-25 per cent account for spiritual tourism destinations

The survey revealed that 62% of the respondents preferred hill stations during a long weekend break followed by beaches and historical destination for their weekend getaway. Goa as the most preferred destination for a short holiday followed by Jaipur in Rajasthan and Agra in Uttar Pradesh as the most popular destinations, the survey added.

The concepts such as night camping, trekking, forests trails, camping and rafting, which are best enjoyed during the rains, are fast catching up with young travelers.

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Cabinet approves financial support to BHEL for R&D project for development of Advanced Ultra Super Critical Technology
Aug 11,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved a proposal of R&D project for development of Advanced Ultra Super Critical (AUSC) Technology for Thermal Power Plant with an estimated cost of Rs.1554 crore and providing one time budgetary support of Rs.900 crore spread over a period of three years, commencing from 2017-18, to be provided as plan Gross Budgetary Support to BHEL for implementation of the R&D project.

A Consortium of three Government Entities, namely Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), Indira Gandhi Centre of Atomic Research (IGCAR) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) have proposed a R&D project for development of AUSC Technology for Thermal Power Plants of future, envisaging reduced coal consumption as well as Carbon Di-Oxide (CO2) emission. The project is formulated with a time cycle of two and a half years, with an estimated cost of Rs. 1554 crore, with a contribution of Rs. 270 crore from BHEL, Rs. 50 crore from NTPC, Rs. 234 crore from IGCAR, Rs. 100 Cr from Department of Science and Technology (DST). Balance amount of Rs. 900 crore will be contributed by Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) as grant.

The project will enable Indian industries to design, manufacture and commission higher efficiency coal fired power plants with indigenously developed technology and manufacturing processes. This will be the first time large power plant equipment will be manufactured with advanced technologies, but without any Technological Collaboration/ Licensing Agreement with foreign companies.

The proposed technology is still in research stage in all countries working on it. It is still not matured and demonstrated anywhere in the world. The consortium partners are working on the project from the basics of material development, characterisation of alloys for high temperature and high pressure applications, basic principles of thermal engineering useful in design from scratch for large equipment like boiler, valves and steam turbine suitable for the proposed operating parameters which are far elevated from the present day established parameters, as required for higher efficiency in energy conversion.

Power generation from coal contributes to about 38% of CO2 pollution in the atmosphere. 20% reduction in CO2 emission at source combined with 20% saving in coal consumption compared to a sub-critical plant and by about 11% compared to a supercritical plant are the primary reasons justifying this project. Use of this technology in all future large power plants will ensure energy security for the country for a longer period, along with a greener environment.

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Cabinet approves introduction of Pension and Post-Retirement Medical Schemes for Employees of Food Corporation of India
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for introduction of Pension and Post-Retirement Medical Schemes as part of superannuation benefits for Employees of Food Corporation of India (FCI) as per guidelines of Department of Public Enterprises (DPE).

The annual financial implication for both schemes combined would be around Rs. 134.4 crore at present level of salaries of the employees.

Salient Features of New Pension Scheme for Employees of FCI

1. Coverage - All employees. (Category I, II, III and IV) of the Corporation on the payroll as on 1.12.2008 or appointed thereafter are covered under the scheme.

2. Eligibility - Minimum service period of 15 years before superannuation except in case of death.

3. Effective date of implementation - 01.12.2008. (as per effective date of wage revised allowances.

4. Employers Contribution - 10% of Basic pay and DA per month in respect of all existing employees as on 01.12.2008 or appointed thereafter.

5. Employees Mandatory Contribution - 2% of basic pay + DA per month. Employees Voluntary Contribution - upto 25% of basic pay + DA per month

6. Benefits - Pension (Annuity) on superannuation and Death Cover.

Salient Features of New Post-Retirement Medical Scheme for employees of FCI

1. Applicability - All employees Category I, II, III & IV employees of the Corporation including retired employees who are members of the current employee funded Medical Health Scheme for Retirees.

2. Eligibility - Minimum service period of 15 years before superannuation except in case of death.

3. Employer contribution - 3.83% of Basic + DA w.e.f. 01.04.2016.

4. Employee Contribution - Last drawn Basic pay and DA at the time of retirement / death during service (for spouse), subject to minimum of Rs.10,000.

5. Coverage - The Scheme would cover the medical expenses of retired member, his/her spouse and dependent disabled child at any hospital in India subject to the overall annual ceiling.

Background:

FCI was established in 1965 under the Food Corporations Act, 1964 for the purpose of procurement, storage, distribution and sale of foodgrains and other foodstuffs. Over the years it has played a pivotal role in achieving the objective of food security for the country. Given its strategic importance, size of operations and other parameters, FCI has been recognised as Schedule A Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).

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Cabinet approves foreign investment in other Financial Services sector
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to amend regulation for foreign investment in the Non- Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs).

The amendment in the existing Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by the Person Resident Outside India) regulations on Non- Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) will enable inflow of foreign investment in Other Financial Services on automatic route provided such services are regulated by any financial sector regulators (RBI, SEBI, PFRDA etc.) / Government Agencies. Foreign investment in Other Financial Servicesn++, which are not regulated by any regulators / Government Agency, can be made on approval route.

Further, minimum capitalisation norms as mandated under FDI policy have been eliminated as most of the regulators have already fixed minimum capitalisation norms. This will induce FDI and spurt economic activities. It will cover whole India and is not limited to any State/Districts.

Background

In the Budget 2016-17 Speech, the Honble Finance Minister had announced that FDI will be allowed beyond the 18 specified NBFC activities in the automatic route in other activities which are regulated by financial sector regulators. The present regulations on Non-Banking Finance Companies stipulates that FDI would be allowed on automatic route for only 18 specified NBFC activities after fulfilling prescribed minimum capitalisation norms mentioned therein. In the proposed regulations, FDI is allowed on automatic route for all Other Financial Services provided such services are regulated by any regulators (RBI, SEBI, PFRDA etc.) / Government Agencies. Further, minimum capitalisation norms as mandated under FDI policy have been eliminated as most of the regulators have already fixed minimum capitalisation norms.

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Cabinet approves transfer of 13111.55 square meters of land belonging to IISWC at Chandigarh to HUDA
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for transfer of land belonging to the Indian Institute of Soil & Water Conservation (IISWC) Research Centre at Chandigarh to the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for construction of 60 meters Peripheral Master Road in Mansa Devi Complex (MDC), Panchkula in the following manner-

a) Transfer of 13,290.30 square meters of land belonging to IISWC Research Centre to HUDA at the collector rate applicable as on date.

b) Transfer of 178.75 square meters of land belonging to HUDA to the IISWC Research Centre, Chandigarh.

c) Mutual exchange of 410 square meters of land between IISWC Research Centre and HUDA.

The transfer of Government land for construction of Peripheral Master Road in Mansa Devi Complex (MDC), Panchkula will usher in growth and development in the region leading to more employment generation. The decision is also part of the Governments plans to boost infrastructure in key sectors for pushing overall economic growth.

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Cabinet approves Agreement between the India and Croatia on Economic Cooperation
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing and ratification of an Agreement between India and Croatia on Economic Cooperation.

India and Croatia had earlier signed an Agreement on trade and economic cooperation in September, 1994 with an aim to promote and develop bilateral trade and economic relations. Signing of the new Agreement between India and Croatia would be a step in continuity as the existing Agreement expired in November, 2009.

Indias bilateral trade with Croatia during 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 were US$ 152.01million, US$ 148.86 million and US$ 205.04 million respectively. The average bilateral trade growth was 17.44% during the last three years.

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Cabinet approves The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendment of Section 64 and section 65 and consequential amendment of section 115 of the Factories Act, 1948 by introducing the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament.

The approved amendments will give boost to the manufacturing sector and facilitate ease of doing business with an aim to enhance employment opportunities.

These amendments relate to increase in overtime hours from the existing 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours (Section 64) and existing 75 hours per quarter to 125 hours (Section 65).

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Amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 by introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament.

The maternity benefit Act 1961 protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a maternity benefit - i.e. full paid absence from work - to take care for her child. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The amendments will help 1.8 million (approx.) women workforce in organised sector.

The amendments to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 are as follows:

n++ Increase Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children.

n++ 12 weeks Maternity Benefit to a Commissioning mother and Adopting mother.

n++ Facilitate Work from home. n++ Mandatory provision of Creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees.

Justification:

n++ Maternal care to the Child during early childhood - crucial for growth and development of the child.

n++ The 44th, 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference recommended enhancement of Maternity Benefits to 24 weeks.

n++ Ministry of Women & Child Development proposed to enhance Maternity Benefit to 8 months.

n++ In Tripartite consultations, all stake holders, in general supported the amendment proposal.

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Cabinet approves The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendments to Section 44 and consequential amendments of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 by introducing the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament.

The approved amendments will address concerns and apprehensions expressed by different categories of public servants and addresses the difficulties being faced in implementing the provision of section 44 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. The amendments are in line with one of the recommendations of the Standing Committee.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and South Africa for cooperation in the field of Tourism
Aug 11,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and South Africa for cooperation in the field of Tourism. The MoU was signed on 08.07.2016.

The main objectives of the MoU are:

a) to expand bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector;

b) to exchange information and data related to tourism ;

c) to encourage cooperation between tourism stakeholders, including hotels and tour operators.

d) to establish exchange programmes for cooperation in Human Resource Development;

e) Investing in the tourism and hospitality sector;

f) to encourage visits of Tour Operators/Media/ Opinion Makers and tourists from both countries for promotion of two way tourism;

g) to exchange experiences in the areas of promotion, education, marketing, destination development and management;

h) to participate in travel fairs/exhibitions in each others country; and

i) to promote safe, honourable and sustainable tourism.

Background:

India and South Africa share and enjoy warm and friendly bilateral relations. South Africa is an emerging tourism source markets for India (India received approximately 51922 tourists from South Africa in 2015). India has extended the Electronic Tourist Visa (eTV) facility for the South African Nationals which elicited good response from travel trade of both. The MoU will be instrumental in increasing arrival from this emerging source market.

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