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Fitch: Brexit Has No Direct APAC Sovereigns, Bank Ratings Impact
Jun 30,2016

The UKs vote to leave the European Union - Brexit - has no immediate direct ratings impact on Asia-Pacific (APAC) sovereigns or banks, says Fitch Ratings.

The spike in political uncertainty in the UK - and resulting effects on investor risk appetite - could pose the greatest challenges for Asia in the short term. If protracted uncertainty has a sustained effect on investor and consumer confidence, the resulting tightened liquidity conditions and pressure on emerging markets capital markets could weigh on growth in the region. This is especially the case for more trade-integrated economies such as Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea.

But it remains far from clear that such a sustained market reaction will develop. Some of the negative risk off market moves that occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote have already been partly unwound this week. Furthermore, Asian market reaction has been far more muted than in Europe. The potential for developed market central banks to act, namely the Fed slowing the pace of its rate increases, could also play a key role in calming markets.

The one outlier is Japan, where the immediate flight to safety saw the yen spike upward versus the US dollar and other major Asian currencies. This will add to the short-term challenges for Japan to escape deflation as well as raise risks to the export sector.

The direct impact from UK trade on Asian economies is also likely to be limited. The UK is the worlds fifth-largest economy, and Fitch expects a slowdown in short-term GDP growth as a result of the referendum. But exports to the UK equate to less than 1% of GDP and account for less than 3.5% of total exports for every Asian country. Over the long term, it is also possible that a UK outside the EU may be able to make quicker progress on trade liberalisation with Asian countries than as a member of the EU. Only Korea currently has a free trade agreement with the EU among Fitch-rated APAC countries (some smaller Pacific island economies also have agreements).

The direct financial linkages are limited as well, and so the risks are more indirect with respect to Asias banking systems. But emerging Asia accounts for less than 15% of the total external claims of UK banks, according to BIS data. Singapore and Hong Kong, as offshore financial centres, are more significantly exposed relative to the size of their economies, but these are mainly local/regional claims from UK subsidiaries and unlikely to see significant withdrawal as a result of Brexit.

Indirect trade effects should the Brexit vote lead to wider political instability and a broader slowdown in Europe could be more significant for Asia, with the EU as a whole accounting for a much larger share of Asian exports than the UK alone. But the effects should take time to materialise, and Fitch believes that it is the smaller economies in Europe that are most at risk from Brexit - as opposed to the larger economies such as Germany and France which account for the bulk of Asian exports.

Fitch maintains its base case for APAC sovereigns and banks. Emerging Asia will remain the fastest-growing global region. Rising political uncertainty in Europe may lead to some downward revisions to regional growth projections, depending on how serious this turns out to be. However, China is likely to remain a much more significant driver of economic outcomes in APAC than Brexit, while risks from tightening US monetary policy also remain a key challenge.

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Domestic as well as foreign tourist visits post healthy growth in 2015
Jun 30,2016

As per the data from Market Research Division of Ministry of Tourism, the number of domestic tourist visits to the States/ UTs was 1432 million in 2015 as compared to 1282.8 million in 2014 registering a growth of 11.63% over 2014.

The top ten States in terms of number of domestic tourist visits (in millions), during 2015, were Tamil Nadu (333.5), Uttar Pradesh (204.9), Andhra Pradesh (121.6), Karnataka (119.9), Maharashtra (103.4), Telangana (94.5), Madhya Pradesh (78), West Bengal (70.2), Gujarat(36.3) and Rajasthan (35.2).

The contribution of top 10 States was about 83.62% to the total number of domestic tourist visits during 2015.

Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh have maintained the first and second rank respectively in terms of DTVs in 2015. Andhra Pradesh has gained the third position leaving Karnataka and Maharashtra at the succeeding fourth and fifth positions respectively.

Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal have retained their previous rankings at sixth, seventh and eighth. Gujarat, showing significant improvement has risen to rank ninth leaving Rajasthan at the tenth and causing Jharkhand to slip out of the top 10 most visited states.

Foreign Tourist Visits to States/ UTs

The number of foreign tourist visits (FTVs) to the States/ UTs was 23.3 million in 2015 as compared to 22.3 million in 2014 registering a growth of 4.4% over 2014.

The top ten States in terms of number of FTVs (in millions) during 2015 were Tamil Nadu (4.68), Maharashtra (4.41), Uttar Pradesh (3.1), Delhi (2.38), West Bengal (1.49), Rajasthan (1.48), Kerala (0.98), Bihar (0.92), Karnataka (0.64) and Goa (0.54).

The contribution of top 10 States was about 88.4% to the total number of FTVs in the country during 2015.

In 2015, while the top 4 states retained their previous rankings, West Bengal improved by one rank to leave Rajasthan at sixth rank. Kerala, Bihar and Karnataka retained their ranks at seventh, eighth and ninth and Goa re-entered the top 10 most visited states causing Haryana to drop out of the ranks.

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Further import of pulses ordered
Jun 30,2016

In order to ensure availability of pulses at reasonable prices, National Consumer Cooperative Federation (NCCF) has been directed to start selling Chana Dal at Rs.60/kg thorough its mobile outlets in Delhi. NCCF is already selling Tur and Urad through its outlets at Rs.120/kg. Decision in this regard was taken in the meeting of Management Committee of Price Stabilisation Fund. Chaired by Secretary Consumer Affairs, Shri Hem Pande, the meeting reviewed the import and procurement of pulses for buffer stock and allocation to the States for further distribution.

The meeting decided to further tender import of 5000 MT Chana and 2500 MT Masoor. It also asked MMTC to order import of 2500 Masoor against its already contracted quantity.

So far, MMTC has contracted import of 46,000 MT pulses and out of the 14,321 MT pulses have been delivered. Besides this 68,000 MT Rabi pulses and 51,000 MT Kharif pulses have been procured. Procurement of rabi pulses is expected to continue till July.

The meeting also approved allocations of pulses from buffer stock to Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Andaman & Nicobar.

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Ind-Ra: 7th Pay Commission to Boost Consumption in the Economy by INR451.1bn
Jun 30,2016

The union cabinet cleared the Seventh Central Pay Commission (7CPC) recommendations, which boost consumption to the economy by INR451.1bn (0.30% of GDP) and increase savings by INR307.1bn (0.20% of GDP), says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Ind-Ra believes that after the sharing of central taxes with the state governments, the central governments net tax revenue will increase by INR141bn (0.09% of GDP) in FY17.

The revised salaries of central government employees are likely to be paid from 1 July 2016. While the employees will get salary arrears from 1 January 2016, allowances will be paid only from 1 July 2016. Thus the gross impact of 7CPC is likely to be INR947.75bn (0.63% of GDP). The central government will receive income tax on this pay out and collect excise duty on consumption, after sharing the increase in income tax and excise duty with states. Thus the net impact on the central government finances is estimated to be INR806.41bn (0.54% of GDP).

Ind-Ra believes the impact of pay revision of state government employees will be felt only in FY18. The Seventh Central Pay Commission award is expected to be less severe on state finances than expected earlier due to a lower arrear pay out. In all likelihood, the impact of a salary revision of the Seventh Central Pay Commission on state government finances will be INR1.58trn in FY18 (0.95% of FY18 GDP).

Salaries and pension of state and central government employees are not alike; however, the common thread between the revisions is constitution, award and implementation. Now that the central government has accepted the report of the Central Pay Commission, state governments will also follow suit after a gap of six months to a year.

A major difference between the previous pay commissions and the seventh pay commission is that there is hardly any lag between the day from when the award is to be implemented and the date on which the award was announced. As a result, the size of the arrears to be paid will be negligible compared with the payouts of the fifth and sixth pay commissions. The fiscal impact of the arrears of the sixth pay commission was so onerous that it was spread over two fiscals, FY10 and FY11.

Although 7CPC is applicable to central government employees, the salaries and pensions of state government employees, urban local bodies, central and state public sector undertakings, autonomous bodies and universities will also be revised in FY17 and FY18. Ind-Ras estimate shows that the demand boost to the economy as a result of the revision in the salaries/pensions of the above mentioned employees will be at least four times the 7CPCs award.

Ind-Ra does not see any immediate threat to inflation due to the award of 7CPC. Though consumer price inflation may inch up somewhat due to higher prices of services, impact on wholesale price index is likely to be muted due to the counter balance provided by the deflation in commodity prices and the availability of excess capacity in several manufacturing sectors. A rise in demand is likely to not only increase capacity utilisation but may also help revive the investment cycle earlier than expected.

The pay panel had in November 2015 recommended 14.27% hike in basic pay at junior levels, the recommendations amount to 23.55% overall hike in salaries, allowances and pension. The date of implementation for the recommendations is 1 January 2016. However, it is likely that allowances will be paid only from 1 July 2016.

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Unlikely to Destabilise Aggregate State Finances but Select States Will Feel the Pinch
Jun 30,2016

Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) is unlikely to have a destabilising effect on fiscal consolidation at an aggregate level, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Ind-Ras estimate shows that the aggregate fiscal deficit of states at 3.2% of GDP in FY17 is expected to be marginally better than the 3.4% recorded in FY16 (revised estimates (RE)). The aggregate impact of UDAY on the fiscal deficits of the 13 states that have joined UDAY till date will be 0.47% of gross domestic product (GDP) in FY17.

However, state finances of select states namely Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh will come under pressure. Five states incurring high distribution losses that have yet not joined the UDAY scheme are Telangana, Madhya Pradesh Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Ind-Ras analysis shows that once they do, state finances of even Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu will come under stress.

Despite showing a marginally better fiscal performance, states at the aggregate level are likely to miss the fiscal deficit target of 2.8% of GDP in FY17 by a wide margin. Similarly, despite showing an improvement over FY16 (RE), the combined revenue account of the states will miss the budgetary target of FY17. However, the agency does not foresee any risk to the aggregate debt sustainability of the states in the medium term.

Only 12 out of 23 states will be able to take the advantage of the window for additional borrowings in FY17 provided by the 14th Finance Commission (14FC). Among these 12 states, two fulfilled the criterion of interest/revenue being below 10% in the preceding year, four fulfilled the criterion of debt/GSDP less than 25% in the preceding year and six states fulfilled both these criteria in the preceding year. Thus, the states that fulfilled only one criterion became eligible for an additional borrowing of 0.25% of GSDP and the states that fulfilled both criteria became eligible for an additional borrowing of 0.50% of GSDP over and above the annual limit of 3.0% of GSDP.

The aggregate capex of state governments (FY16: 10.64% of GDP) is nearly double the capex of central government (FY16: 5.41%). Ind-Ra, however, believes the capex of state and central government together can play only a limited role in reviving the capex cycle as an overwhelming proportion of the total capex (FY16: 83.96% of GSDP) in the economy comes from the private sector (including central and state public sector undertakings and households). Aggregate capital expenditure by states in FY16 grew 50.5% compared to 20.9% by the central government. In fact, growth in the aggregate capital expenditure of states has been consistently been higher than the central governments since 1990s and the actual aggregate capital expenditure of the states has been higher than the capital expenditure of the central government since FY06.

Ind-Ra believes the impact of pay revision of state government employees in line with the recommendations of the Seventh Central Pay Commission will be felt only in FY18. The Seventh Central Pay Commission award is under review by a committee, and its impact is likely to be less severe than the award of earlier pay commissions on state finances due to a lower arrear pay out. Ind-Ras estimate shows that the likely impact of the recommendations of the Seventh Central Pay Commission on state government finances will be INR1.58trn in FY18 (0.95% of GDP).

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Ind-Ra: Farm Sector Recovery to be Delayed Despite Favourable Monsoon
Jun 30,2016

A complete recovery in farm sector may require more than two favourable monsoons considering the severity of current stress, says India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra). Nearly 15% of tractor loans disbursed during 2014 and 2015 were overdue for more than three months as of March 2016.

The average delinquency rate for close to 12 months seasoned loans was only 9% during 2009 amid deficient rainfall and low agri-GDP, and still it took nearly two years for the delinquency rate and agriculture output growth rate to completely normalise. Ind-Ra believes that the consecutive monsoon failures have created a much more severe impact on the farm sector and tractor loans now than in 2009 and hence a recovery is likely to be protracted. 47% of subdivisions (as classified by India Metrological Department) faced a deficient monsoon in 2015 compared to 64% in 2009. However, nearly half of these subdivisions have faced two consecutive deficient monsoons by 2015 unlike in 2009.

Ind-Ra believes that just one favourable monsoon may prove quite inadequate to completely restore the farm sector. This is because unlike the 2009 downturn, the current cycle has so far seen almost five years of muted growth in not only production and price but also acreage and crop yields. During the 2009 slowdown, the production of all crops dropped 4% yoy. However, over 25% increase in minimum support price for both food grain and non-food grain crops and nearly 4% drop in key input cost (diesel and fertiliser) lessened farmers problems. In 2014 and 2015, not only the production suffered but also the growth in minimum support price was low at a CAGR of below 3%. Even after factoring in the reduction in diesel prices in the last two years, farmers net profit has been growing at a CAGR of below 10% since 2014 and hence impact on farmers income has been more pronounced.

The woes of the farm sector have also been accentuated by the glut in tractor financing, with tractor loans disbursement in 2015 being 8x of the 2009 loan disbursement volumes. Excess supply of vehicles in a subdued economy has resulted in reduced utilisation rates for tractors. The reduced utilisation rate is clearly borne out by proxy such as growth rate of tractor wages which dropped to 5% in November 2015 from over 15% from 2009-2013.

The declining tractor sales indicated early signs of recovery with growth of 5.70% yoy in March 2016. However, Ind-Ra believes that if sales are pushed without a commensurate improvement in farmers/tractor owners income, the reduction in delinquency levels would be prolonged. The improvement in delinquency levels came with a long lag of nearly two years in the last cycle - while sales growth rate turned positive in June 2009 itself, the delinquency levels came back to the normal level only in 4Q11.

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Total Cargo Traffic Handled at Major Ports Increases by 107.52 MT in April- May 2016
Jun 30,2016

The Ministry of Shipping has initiated many measures to improve the performance of ports which include mechanization of the terminals, improving the TAT (turn-around time), quick evacuation of cargo, expansion of infrastructure and skill development of employees. The slew of measures taken by the Ministry of Shipping to improve performance of Ports has started to yield positive results. The Major Ports in India handled 107.52 MT (Million Tonnes) of cargo during April-May 2016 and showed a positive growth of 6.3 percent as compared to a growth of 5.7 percent which it achieved last year in the same period. Out of the 107.52 MT of cargo handled during April-May this year, 55.1 MT was handled in the month of May alone showing a growth of 3.3 percent. Mormugao Port Trust showed the highest growth in traffic (105.6 %), followed by Paradip Port Trust (15.3 %), Vishakhapatnam Port Trust (13.5%), New Mangalore Port Trust (2.8%) and Kandla Port Trust at 2.1%.

The main reason for the phenomenal growth of traffic at Mormugao Port can be attributed to the increase in iron ore traffic at Murmugao Port which grew from 0.09 MT in May, 2015 to 1.7 MT in the month of May 2016. If the traffic growth of Major Ports in April-May is taken together and analyzed, Murmugao Port was a leader again with a growth of 125.9%. Paradip Port Trust came second with an increase of 17.2 %, followed by Vishakhapatnam (15.6%), Kandla Port Trust (8.4%), Cochin (3.4%) and New Manglore Port Trust at 1.7%.

In the same period (April-May 2016) Kandla Port Trust was the leader among Major Ports to handle cargo, Kandla Port handled 17.4 MT of cargo with a share of 16.2 %, a close second was Paradip Port Trust with 14.01 MT of cargo with a share of 13.1 %. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) had a share of 10.0% (10.8 MT) followed by Mumbai Port Trust at 9.8% (10.5 MT).

Vishakhapatnam Port Trust had a share of 9.6 % (10.3 MT), followed by Chennai Port Trust at sixth position with 8.0 % share (8.5MT). Mormugao port Trust (6.3% - 6.7MT), V.O Chidambaranar (5.7 % - 6.1MT), New Manglore Port Trust (5.5% - 5.8MT), HDC (Haldia Dock Complex) (5.0% - 5.3MT), Kamarajar Port Trust (4.8% -5.1 MT), Cochin Port Trust (3.7% - 3.9 MT) and KDS (Kolkata Dock System) (2.5% - 8.0 MT) formed the bottom half of the table.

Commodity-wise growth of cargo traffic at Major Ports

The months of April-May witnessed a growth in iron ore which showed a growth of 523.2% as compared to the same period last year. POL (Petroleum, oil & Lubricants) increased by 3.5% followed by Container at 0.7% as compared to the same period in 2015.

Commodities such as Fertilizer & FRM (7.4%), other Cargo (5.0%) & Coal (1.8%) showed negative growth in the same period.

In terms of composition of the cargo handled at Major Ports is concerned the largest commodity handled in the period of April-May 2016 was POL (35.8%), followed by Coal at (25.2%), container traffic (19.2%), other cargo (11%), Iron ore (7.0%) and Fertilizer and FRM (1.9%).

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Memorandum of Agreement Signed between JNU and National Institute of Animal Welfare
Jun 30,2016

National Institute of Animal Welfare (NIAW) and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (JNU) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to conduct academic programmes that will focus on development of Animal Welfare Sciences. The MoA was signed by Vice Chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Prof. M Jagdish Kumar, and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Shri Anil Sant, here today. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Minister of Human Resource Development, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, and Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Shri Prakash Javadekar. The Secretaries of the two Ministries were also present on the occasion.

On the occasion, Smt. Irani said that JNU is a university that has name and credibility in academic activities and launching of this course is a good beginning for expanding its academic activities.

Shri Javadekar said that such courses were being conducted in countries like Australia and New Zealand and now will be conducted by JNU in NIAW campus. He said that the introduction of this course will help in preparing competent manpower to man various posts in zoos, municipalities, slaughter houses and veterinary hospitals. He said that the MoEFCC has sought JNU as an academic partner to help the Institute in developing academic programmes according to national needs and global standards in the field of animal welfare. He further hoped that this endeavor will go a long way to meet the objectives and mission of NIAW.

The total cost of the project for the first year is Rs.88 lakh. More than 200 students are expected to be enrolled for diploma and certificate courses in the first year. These courses are aimed at providing a direction to the youth for employment in the sector.

A website for NIAW will be in place, illustrating information on the programmes, resources available and facilities such as animal shelter/ houses, OT Labs etc.

The National Institute of Animal Welfare (NIAW) was set up to meet the education and training needs of the Animal Welfare sector across the country. The Institute had launched short term courses in 2005, which has so far trained more than 1000 personnel, already engaged in Animal Welfare and those handling animals in the formal and non-formal sector.

On the workshop of State-level Environment Impact Assessment authorities held today, the Environment Minister said that all processes for granting environmental and forest approvals have been made online. He also emphasised that along with transparency, 100 days time has been given to complete all processes. Shri Javadekar also said that the governments effort is to bring in more transparency and avoid delays.

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NSSO should release data in 5 years instead of 10 years- Radha Mohan Singh
Jun 30,2016

Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Mr. Radha Mohan Singh has said that NSSO should release data in 5 years instead of 10 years. He added that this will help government to formulate plans for the farmers especially the small and marginal farmers. Shri Singh said this on the occasion of the 10th Statistics Day.

Shri Singh said that it is imperative to remove regional disparity so as to achieve economic and social development and regional disparity cannot be removed until the related statistics are provided. He further said that statistics play a vital role to formulate the schemes related to agriculture, agricultural products and other arenas. For instance, to implement crop insurance scheme, its product estimation is required on Panchayat and at village level.

Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister added that according to available updated land utilization statistics 2012-13, more than half of the cropped area had been remained un-irrigated in the country even after 60 years of planned development. To face the situation created by delayed / deficit rainfall, preparation of suitable emergent schemes and their affective implementation, crop component, irrigation facilities, situation of rainfall, agriculture related climatic condition, etc. - the timely availability of all these statistics are critical. The availability of credible data related to output utilization along with agricultural products is not only significant for agriculture and allied sector but also important to assess the potentiality related to farmers income and their profession.

Shri Singh further added that central government has implemented a number of important schemes for the welfare of agriculture and farmers. In the back ground of these schemes, the agricultural statistics has to play an important role so as to improve the condition of the farmers and to increase food grain security. He further observed that time bound data is required for the compilation of data related, on sophisticated technology and policy making basis.

The Minister said that sophisticated technology should be utilized for the compilation of data. He further said affective methodology should be explored for the assured statistics and agricultural sectors with minimum time gap.

Shri Singh briefed that Ministry of Agriculture is implementing a scheme named as Fasal for the utilization of sophisticated technology available to assess the Agricultural products. The Department of Space, Indian Metrological Department and Economic Development Institute are sharing the process of implementation of this scheme. A Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC) has been established in the Department which is providing the estimate related to remote sensing technology based production of chosen crops. He observed that forecast estimates provided by MNCFC are very much useful. Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister said that Ministry of Agriculture has taken an important initiative in respect of adopting remote sensing technology for the assessment of horticultural production. The Ministry has initiated a pilot project named as Chaman. 11 prominent states have been included in this project so as to develop remote sensing based program for the assessment of area and production related to horticulture crop.

Shri Singh briefed that Government is formulating a scheme with the use of sophisticated technology so that extensive physical data may be created through livestock census.

The Minister said that it is high time that statistics methodology should be utilized to sort out the problem for providing credible and assured data on lower level. This challenge may be used through the use of sophisticated technology for the compilation of data related. Shri Singh requested the state government that they should take an active initiative to strengthen their methodology in the perspective of agricultural statistics.

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Cabinet approves four laning of Angul-Sambalpur Section of NH-42 (New NH-55) in Odisha
Jun 30,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the development of four laning of Angul-Sambalpur Section of NH-42 (New NH-55) in Odisha.

The cost is estimated to be Rs.2491.53 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road to be developed is approximately 151 kms.

This work will be done under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase-IV on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) basis.

The project will help in expediting the improvement of infrastructure in Odisha and in reducing the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying between Angul and Sambalpur section. The development of this stretch will also help in uplifting the socio-economic condition of this region in the State.

It would also increase employment potential for local labourers for project activities. It has been estimated that a total number of 4,076 mandays are required for construction of one kilometre of highway. As such, employment potential of 6,16,600 (approx.) mandays will be generated locally during the construction period of this stretch.

Background:

The project was earlier approved and awarded on BOT (Toll). The project was awarded. However, the concessionaire did not submit Performance Security within the stipulated period and the concession was terminated. Subsequently, due to restriction on mining activities and reduced commercial traffic, the project was not found viable on BOT (Toll). As such, it was decided to implement the project through EPC mode. The project has been appraised by Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) in March, 2016.

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Cabinet approves four laning of Phagwara-Rupnagar Section of NH-344A in Punjab
Jun 30,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the development of four laning of Phagwara-Rupnagar Section of NH-344A in Punjab.

The cost is estimated to be Rs.1444.42 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road to be developed is approximately 80.820 kms.

This work will be done under the National Highways (Others) on Hybrid Annuity Mode.

The project will help in expediting the improvement of infrastructure in Punjab and in reducing the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying between Phagwara-Rupnagar section. The development of this stretch will also help in uplifting the socio-economic condition of this region in the State.

It would also increase employment potential for local labourers for project activities. It has been estimated that a total number of 4,076 mandays are required for construction of one kilometre of highway. As such, employment potential of 3,30,000 (approx.) mandays will be generated locally during the construction period of this stretch.

Background:

The Phagwara-Rupnagar section is recently declared as NH-344A. Presently, the proposed project highway is 2-lane with paved shoulder (68.820 km) and four lane (15.8 km). The proposal is for four laning of road section which will serve as high speed link between NH-1 and NH-21.

The project starts from Phagwara town and passes through Banga Town, proposed Nawashahir bypass and will be terminated near Rupnagar. This road will join Phagwara to Rupnagar via Nawashahir and will be the shortest route for movement to Amritsar from Chandigarh side and vice-versa.

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Cabinet approves four laning of Aurangabad-Telwadi Section of NH-211 in Maharashtra
Jun 30,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the development of four laning of Aurangabad-Telwadi Section of NH-211 in Maharashtra.

The cost is estimated to be Rs.2028.91 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road to be developed is approximately 87 kms.

This work will be done under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase-IV on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (BOT/DBFOT) basis in Build-operate-Transfer (BOT) (Toll) mode.

The project will help in expediting the improvement of infrastructure in Maharashtra and in reducing the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying between Aurangabad and Telwandi. The development of this stretch will also help in uplifting the socio-economic condition of this region in the State.

It would also increase employment potential for local labourers for project activities. It has been estimated that a total number of 4,076 mandays are required for construction of one kilometre of highway. As such, employment potential of 3,54,090 (approx.) mandays will be generated locally during the construction period of this stretch.

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Cabinet approval of road projects in Odisha and Punjab will improve the infrastructure and connectivity: PM
Jun 30,2016

The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has said that the CCEA approval of road projects in Odisha and Punjab will help improve the infrastructure and connectivity in these states. In a series of tweets, he said

n++CCEA approved the development of four laning of Phagwara-Rupnagar Section of NH-344A in Punjab.

The cost is estimated to be Rs.1444.42 crore and total length of the road to be developed is approximately 80.820 kms.

Project will improve infrastructure in Punjab & will also help in uplifting the socio-economic condition of this region in the State.

CCEA approved the development of four laning of Angul-Sambalpur Section of NH-42 (New NH-55) in Odisha.

The cost is estimated to be Rs. 2491.53 crore and total length of the road to be developed is approximately 151 kms.

The project will help in expediting the improvement of infrastructure in Odisha and in reducing the time and cost of travel for trafficn++particularly heavy traffic, plying between Angul and Sambalpur section.

CCEA approved the development of four laning of Aurangabad-Telwadi Section of NH-211 in Maharashtra.

The cost is estimated to be Rs.2028.91 crore and total length of the road to be developed is approximately 87 kms.

Development of this stretch will also help uplifting the socio-economic condition and also increase employment potential for people.n++

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Cabinet approves Cadre Review of Group A Officers of Central Reserve Police Force
Jun 30,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Cadre Review of Group A Executive officers of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) with net creation of 90 posts of various ranks from Deputy Commandant to Special DG ranks. After creation of these posts in CRPF, the operational efficiency and capacity building of the Force including its administrative capabilities would be enhanced.

Under the cadre review, the increase in existing structure of Group A posts from 4210 to 4300 posts is as under:-

1. Increase of one post of Special DG (HAG + level).

2. Net increase of 11 posts of Inspector General (SAG level).

3. Net increase of 277 posts of DIG/Commandant/2-l/C (JAG level).

4. Net reduction of 199 posts of Deputy Commandants (STS level).

Background:

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), is one of the Central Armed Police Forces. It was formed in 1939. The first Cadre Review of the service was conducted in 1983 and the second and last Cadre Review was conducted in 1991. Though no formal cadre review has been carried out after 1991, major augmentation-cum-restructuring were carried out in 2004 and 2009. During these augmentations, additional battalions were raised without proportionate addition of supervisory and support staff.

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Extension of Addendum IX and renewal of MoU between India and Canada by way of signing supplementary addendum X
Jun 29,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post-facto approval for extension of Addendum IX for the period from 1 April, 2011 to 31st March, 2016 and renewal of Memorandum of Understanding between Government of India and Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SlCI) by way of signing supplementary Addendum X to the Memorandum of Understanding signed in November,1968.

The approval would pave the way of following activities to be undertaken:

A. Shastri Research Fellowship & Mobility Programme

i. Shastri Research Fellowships

- Doctoral Research

- Postdoctoral Research

- Institutional Collaborative Research

ii. Shastri Mobility Programme

B. Faculty-ln-Residence Programme (New)

C. Faculty Development Programme for Vocational Education (New)

D. Library Programme

Online journals for Indian scholars and institutions

E. Facilitation cum Information Services (New)

i. Resource Centre (To Provide Access & Linkages to Institutions in both Countries)

ii. Seminars, Conferences & Consultations

iii. Publication of Research Materials, Documents & Reports

SICI shall also undertake such other activities, which will be recommended by Ministry of Human Resource Development based on new programmes and areas of cooperation between the two countries.

The SICI would undertake a number of programmes of the HRD Ministry requiring international engagement like Global Initiative for Academic Networks (GIAN), Impacting Research, Innovation & Technology (IMPRINT), National Digital Library programme etc. The institute also carries out programmes as laid out in the MoU signed on Higher Education Cooperation between the two countries in 2010 and under consideration for renewal for a further period of five years.

Ministry of HRD has approved an expenditure of Rs.33.176 crore for the period from 1st April, 2016 to 31st March, 2021 for the entire five years period of Addendum X.

Background:

SlCI, a bi-national organization, was established in 1968 through a Memorandum of Understanding between Government of Republic of India and SlCI signed on November 29, 1968 for an initial period of three years. Since then, with the approval of the Cabinet, the MoU with the Institute has been renewed from time to time by signing Supplementary Addenda. The last of such Supplementary Addendum called Supplementary Addendum IX signed for a five year period, expired on 31st March 2011.

Named after Late Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, former Prime Minister of India, the Shastri Indo-Canadian institute (SlCI) was established with an aim to promote understanding between India and Canada through facilitation of academic activities between the two countries. The Institute maintains offices in both India and Canada. The role of SlCI is of facilitating fellowships and collaborative research initiatives that focus principally on the aspects that bring advantage to Indian-Canadian institutions and academics. SlCI, in the past, had focused in the fields of Humanities and Social Sciences but expanded its area of interest from 2001 onwards into the fields of Law, Management, Information Science, Science and Technology and Human Interface of Science.

The membership of SlCI has expanded from the original four founding members to 35 Canadian Universities and 54 Indian Institutions including some of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), Indian Institutes of Technology (lITs), National Law Schools, National Museum institute, apex bodies & institutions of research and premier Central and State Universities.

The SlCI is governed by Executive Council, formerly known as Board of Directors, which has three representatives each of Canadian and Indian Member Councils and representatives of Government of Canada and Government of India. The Government of India provides financial assistance to SICI for maintenance of its Delhi office and for the promotion of Indian Studies in Canada. The Institute also receives assistance from the Government of Canada, Canadian institutions and organizations.

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