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Shri Arun Jaitley: Bureaucrats are free to render their advice/opinion during the process of decision making
Jul 29,2017

The Union Minister of Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley said that the bureaucrats are free to render their advice/opinion during the process of decision making. He said that however, the Right to Information (RTI) Act can to some extent create hindrance in this regard and the civil servants may not feel free to do so apprehending that the later the same may become public. Thats why, the Finance Minister said that even Shri B.G.Verghese had stated that the opinion/advice given by public servants in the course of decision making should not be made public.

Shri Tejinder Khanna, former civil servant and Lt. Governor of Delhi said that the bureaucrats should be allowed to give their opinion in a free and fair manner so that the good suggestions are not left -out in the process of decision making.

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Water storage level of 91 major reservoirs of the country goes up by Eleven per cent
Jul 29,2017

The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on July 27, 2017 was 60.906 BCM, which is 39% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This percentage was at 28 for the week ending on July 20, 2017. The level of July 27, 2017 was 104% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 100% of storage of average of last ten years.

The total storage capacity of these 91 reservoirs is 157.799 BCM which is about 62% of the total storage capacity of 253.388 BCM which is estimated to have been created in the country. 37 Reservoirs out of these 91 have hydropower benefit with installed capacity of more than 60 MW.

REGION WISE STORAGE STATUS:-

NORTHERN REGION

The northern region includes States of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. There are six reservoirs under Central Water Commission (CWC) monitoring having total live storage capacity of 18.01 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 9.24 BCM which is 51% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 35% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 44% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is better than the corresponding period of last year and is also better than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

EASTERN REGION

The Eastern region includes States of Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Tripura. There are 15 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 18.83 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 8.20 BCM which is 44% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 32% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 32% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is better than the corresponding period of last year and is also better than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

WESTERN REGION

The Western region includes States of Gujarat and Maharashtra. There are 27 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 27.07 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 11.91 BCM which is 44% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 35% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 39% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is better than the storage of last year and is also better than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

CENTRAL REGION

The Central region includes States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. There are 12 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 42.30 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 18.43 BCM which is 44% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 50% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 35% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the storage of last year but is better than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

SOUTHERN REGION

The Southern region includes States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states) Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. There are 31 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 51.59 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 13.12 BCM which is 25 % of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 30% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 41% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the corresponding period of last year and is also less than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

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

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Consumer Grievance Redressal System in the Country
Jul 28,2017

Under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, there is a three-tier quasi-judicial mechanism in place for redressal of consumer grievances. These are District Fora at the districts, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in States and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission at the Centre.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission holds circuit bench sitting from time to time at different state capitals to expedite the process of adjudication.

As an alternative means of redressal, consumers can also lodge complaints with the National Consumer Helplines (NCH). There are around 250 companies which have partnered with NCH for redressal of consumer grievances. Complaints received against these companies are referred to them for redressal.

In terms of the BIS Act, 1986, the Bureau of Indian Standards has been established for the harmonious development of the activities of standardisation, and marking and quality certification of goods etc. The Bureau has powers to grant, renew, suspend or cancel a licence for use of the standard mark and inter alia, make inspections and collect samples to see conformity with the Indian standard as also whether the standard mark has been improperly used.

The Department has introduced Consumer Protection Bill, 2015 in the Lok Sabha in August, 2015, which contains a number of provisions for strengthening the consumer grievance redressal mechanism. A new BIS Act, 2016 has also been notified.

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More than 58 lakhs subscribers to Atal Pension Yojana (APY)
Jul 28,2017

The number of subscribers of the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) during each of the last three years is as follows: 

Particulars

As on 31.03.2016

As on 31.03.2017

As on 22.07.2017

Cumulative Subscribers

24,84,895

48,83,829

58,08,071

The funds allocated under APY during each of the last three years is as follows:

(Rs. in crore)

Particulars

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

Budget Estimates

173

120

155

The requirement of fund for APY is assessed as per the progress made under the Scheme and necessary provisioning of fund is done at appropriate stage. 

Vide Gazette Notification dated 11th May, 2017, an individual eligible for receiving the benefits under APY has been required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo Aadhaar authentication. Provided that till the time Aadhaar is assigned to the individual, benefits under the Scheme shall be given to such individuals, subject to the production of the following identification documents :-

i. if she or he has enrolled, her or his Aadhaar Enrolment ID slip; or a copy of her or his request made for Aadhaar enrolment,

ii.Other identification documents such as Bank or Post office Passbook with Photo; PAN Card; Passport; Ration Card; Voter Identity Card; MGNREGS card; Kisan Photo passbook; Driving license etc.

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Rate Revision of Interest on refinance by NABARD
Jul 28,2017

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) vide its Master Direction dated March 03, 2016 on Interest Rate on Advances, has deregulated the interest rate on advances sanctioned by Scheduled Commercial Banks (excluding RRBs). As per these directions, the banks prescribe a comprehensive policy on Interest Rate on Advances duly approved by their Board of Directors. Banks prescribe the rate as per their policy while extending credit to borrowers.

NABARD has reported that it offers the facility of long term refinance to different categories of banks out of resources raised from market and from own funds. The interest rates on refinance is reviewed by NABARD from time to time considering the prevailing market situation.

In respect of scheduled commercial banks the last revision was effected from 17 May 2017 and for other banks, viz. Regional Rural Banks (RRBs), State Cooperative Banks (StCBs), State Cooperative Agriculture & Rural Development Banks (SCARDBs) from 14 July 2017. The interest rates which were in the range of 8.80% to 9.20% as on 01.04.2016, are presently in the range of 7.65% to 8.10%.

Further, Long Term Rural Credit Fund (LTRCF), was created with NABARD with effect from 2014-15, in order to provide long term refinance to Cooperative banks and RRBs to meet the long term investment credit lending in agriculture, contributed out of shortfall in achievement of Priority Sector Lending (PSL) targets by Scheduled Commercial Banks. The interest rate on advances under LTRCF during 2014-15 was 7.85% which is presently at 4.90%.

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RBI sets up Supervisory Colleges for six Scheduled Commercial Banks which have sizeable international presence
Jul 28,2017

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has informed that Supervisory Colleges have been setup for the following six Scheduled Commercial Banks which have sizeable international presence:-

State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Axis Bank and Punjab National Bank.

The objectives of the colleges are to enhance information exchange and cooperation among supervisors, to improve understanding of the risk profile of the banking group and thereby facilitate more effective supervision of internationally active banks.

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Revival of Closed Fertilizer Plants
Jul 28,2017

Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Chemicals & Fertilizers, Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya, in a written reply to a question on revival of closed fertilizer plants in Rajya Sabha today, informed that at present eight fertilizer public sector plants have been lying closed. Out of these closed plants presently five plants namely Talcher, Ramagundam, Gorakhpur, Sindri and Barauni are being revived by setting up Ammonia-Urea plants of 1.27 million metric tonne per annum (MMTPA) capacity each, the Minister informed.

Gorakhpur &Sindri units of Fertilizer Corporation of India limited (FCIL) and Barauni unit of Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation Limited (HFCL) are being revived by means of Special Purpose Vehicle of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) through nomination route. A Joint Venture (JV) Company named Hindustan Urvarak&Rasayan Limited (HURL) comprising of National Thermal Power Corporation, Coal India Limited, Indian Oil Corporation Limited and FCIL/HFCL has been formed, Shi Mandaviya stated.

Further the Minister informed that the Talcher Unit of FCIL is being revived on Nomination basis by a Consortium of PSUs namely Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited (RCF), GAIL(India) Limited, CIL and FCIL. A JV Company named Talcher Fertilizers Limited (TFL) has been formed. Ramagundam unit of FCIL is being revived on nomination basis by consortium of PSUs namely Engineers India Limited (EIL), National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) and FCIL. A JV Company named Ramagundam Fertilizers & Chemicals Limited has been formed.

Expected date of operationalization of these plants are as under:

Fertilizer PlantExpected month of operationalizationTalcherDecember, 2020RamagundamNovember, 2018GorakhpurAugust, 2020SindriSeptember, 2020BarauniOctober, 2020

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Forecast for Rapid Rise in Water Levels of Rivers in Jharkhand, East Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, East Rajasthan, Gujarat & North Madhya Maharashtra
Jul 28,2017

Rainfall Forecast issued by India Meteorological Department for the next two days indicate that heavy to very heavy with extremely heavy falls very likely in East Madhya Pradesh, North Chhattisgarh, East Rajasthan and heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places in West Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, north Madhya Maharashtra, Gujarat on July 28 and 29, 2017. The rainfall is likely to decrease from July 30, 2017. Due to this, rivers in Sone basin, Southern Ganga tributaries between Allahabad and Ballia, Ken Betwa Basin, Chambal basin, Mahi, Sabarmati & Narmada Basins are likely to rise rapidly.

The likely impact of these rains as inferred from rainfall runoff model run for two days will be rapid rise in the river water levels in the following basins as under:- Sone Basin and Southern Ganga tributaries: River Sone and its tributaries such as Rihand, Kanhar, Koel are likely to rise in Palmau district of Jharkhand, Sarguja district in Chhattisgarh, Sonebhadra, Mirzapur districts of Uttar Pradesh, Shahdol, Siddhi and Satna districts of Madhya Pradesh. The inflows into Bansagar and Rihand Dams are likely to rise rapidly. However, since sufficient storage is available, no releases may be required from these reservoirs presently in view of less rainfall predications from July 29, 2017.

Ken and Betwa: River Ken and Betwa are expected to rise in Panna district of Madhya Pradesh, Banda and Hamirpu district of Uttar Pradesh. Inflows into Matatilla and Rajghat Dams are likely to increase. Close monitoring of the situation will be required for regulated release from the dams if required.

Chambal Basin: Chambal and its tributaries are likely to observe rise in water level in districts of Indore, Ujjain, Ratlam, Mandsaur and Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh, Kota and Jhalawar districts in Rajasthan. Since the dams in Chambal basins have sufficient storage, there may not be immediate necessity for release of water. However, situation has to be monitored closely in view of continuous warnings of heavy to very heavy rainfall in East Rajasthan during the next two days. The rainfall in Jhalawar, Pali, Chittorgarh districts of Rajasthan may also see increase in water levels of many of the tributaries of Chambal.

Narmada and Tapi Basins: These basins likely to receive isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall today and tomorrow especially in the lower Narmada, lower Tapi and Damanganga basins. River levels likely to increase in the Districts of Vadodara, Surat, Bharuch, Surat, Valsad and Navasari in Gujarat. Rainfall in Tapi basin likely to increase river level in the Nandurbar, Dhule and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra. Since sufficient storage is available in Ukai dam there is no immediate requirement of release. However the situation needs close monitoring. Since the reservoirs like Kadana, Dharoi, Dantiwada etc. are near Full Reservoir Level (FRL), strict vigilance is required to release water in regulated manner based on inflow forecast.

Mahi, Sabarmati and Banas Basin: The catchments of Mahi and Sabarmati are likely to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall in next two days. The river water levels are likely to increase in the Districts of Jhabua, Dhar and Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, Sirohi, Pali, Udaipur and Dungarpur districts of Rajasthan, Sabarkanta, Mehsana, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Banswara, Panchmahal, Mahisagar and Kheda districts of Gujarat.

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Government has taken a number of measures to curb malpractices in neem coating of urea: Shri Mansukh Lal Mandaviya
Jul 28,2017

Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Chemicals & Fertilizers, Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya, said that the Government has taken a number of measures to curb malpractice of using spurious/cheap oil in lieu of neem oil in neem coating of urea, which are as follows:-

n++ Department of Fertilizers (DoF) from time to time has issued instructions to urea units for ensuring the quality of neem oil and to procure it from genuine neem oil manufacturers only.

n++ Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW), in an order dated 06th February, 2017, has amended the specification of Neem Coated Urea wherein a foot note regarding specification of neem oil has been included. DoF has directed all the urea manufacturers/importers to strictly adhere to the specification of neem oil used for the purpose of production of neem coated urea.

n++ DoF has requested DAC&FW to advise the Central Laboratories to lift samples of neem oil used for neem coated urea from the premises of urea manufacturing units to test its quality as per the specification of neem oil.

n++ DoF has advised all the urea manufacturers/importers to include the details of the production/import capacity and quantity of neem oil to be supplied to urea manufacturers/importers as a condition in the Tender Notice.

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Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) in respect of tax matters identifying areas of cooperation signed by the BRICS Heads of Revenue
Jul 28,2017

Indias GST reform has been hailed by the BRICS countries in a meeting of Revenue Heads in China.

Indias GST reforms were appreciated and hailed by the BRICS countries.

The leaders and representatives from BRICS countries were inquisitive about GST Reforms introduced in India and appreciated efforts of India in bringing about this major reform. During the Press Conference held after the meeting, the media also enquired about the GST reforms introduced in India. The salient features and advantages of the reform were explained to the media.

During this meeting, the BRICS Heads of Revenue and Tax Experts deliberated upon contemporary International Tax issues. A joint communiqun++ was issued at the end of the meeting. A Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) in respect of tax matters identifying areas of cooperation, namely, coordination in International Forums, Capacity building, Experience sharing and regular interaction was also signed by the BRICS Heads of Revenue.

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Fitch: New Bond Rules Reduce Indian Corporates Funding Options
Jul 28,2017

New, tighter regulations on foreign holdings of Indian rupee-denominated corporate bonds and offshore issuance will reduce options for companies to diversify their funding sources, at least temporarily, Fitch Ratings says. The rules will also prevent the use of certain complex transaction structures, which have recently gained popularity among corporate issuers.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) announced last week that foreign purchases of rupee-denominated corporate notes would only be permitted through auction once foreign holdings reached 95% of the cap. At present, foreign portfolio investors can invest up to INR2,443 billion (USD51 billion) in corporate bonds issued by Indian companies. Foreign ownership is already above 95% of the cap, which means these restrictions have come into effect. Issuance of offshore masala bonds will also cease entirely until foreign ownership falls to 92% of the cap. A separate ruling earlier in the month by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had already tightened the rules on masala bond issuance, banning their sale to related entities, lowering the cap on spreads over government bonds, and extending the minimum maturity.

Borrowers can still tap rupee debt via the Track III External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) route. However, this option subjects borrowers to a higher withholding tax on interest (of 15% as against ongoing 5% for corporate notes), a minimum maturity period of five years for amounts raised in excess of USD50 million, and greater administrative requirements - and thus procedural delays. Moreover, if the investor in debt securities is a corporate entity (i.e. not a bank, financial institution or investment fund for example), such investors will need to have a minimum ownership interest in the onshore borrower or a common overseas parent; this requirement will prevent many companies from using this route as most Indian onshore issuers do not have off-shore incorporated holding companies. Even for those that can use this option, we do not think the ECB Track III route will be the first port of call; however, given the limitations introduced on other options, issuers looking to raise large amounts of funds may use a combination of the options, including ECB Track III, to meet their needs.

The hiatus on masala bond issuance triggered by SEBIs regulations has put the plans of some large corporates on hold. The decision could dent confidence in the instrument and hold back the markets medium-term development. The first masala bonds were only issued in mid-2016, and the market still lacks the depth that would make them more attractive to foreign investors. Better-quality issuers, such as NTPC Limited (BBB-/Stable; an active masala bond issuer) should be able to reconsider masala bonds, if and when the cap on foreign ownership of rupee bonds is eventually raised or foreign ownership falls sufficiently.

The RBIs regulations were more targeted, and aimed at ensuring that only relatively strong corporates tap the offshore market. Restrictions on maturity and cost will prevent issuance by lower-rated companies, while the ban on sales to related entities will tackle the issue of circuitous structures. Some companies have sold masala bonds to linked special-purpose vehicles, which in turn have raised funds for the purchase by issuing dollar-denominated debt. This structure allows issuers to take advantage of cheaper offshore borrowing costs, but effectively results in them assuming currency risk, which negates masala bonds intended function. Again, it is lower-rated entities that have tended to use this structure.

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ISA to bring out a global tender for 5 lakh solar pumps before December: Upendra Tripathy, Director General, ISA
Jul 28,2017

International Solar Alliance (ISA) plans to come out with a global tender for price discovery of 5 Lakhs solar pumps beore December and presumed prices will come down of the solar pumps, said Mr Upendra Tripathy, Director General, International Solar Alliance at an ASSOCHAM event.

The current price of solar pumps is about 10,000 US dollar globally average. On the bio mass segment in the country, Mr. Tripathy said, all the benefits giving it to solar, must be given it to the bio mass in country like tax exemption, tax concession credit etc., said Mr. Tripathy, Director General, International Solar Alliance.

n++International Solar Alliance (ISA) to bring out a tender for 5 lakh solar pumps for farmers across the world. He said that ISA proposing to set up a $300 biliion fund for initiatives in solar energy sectorn++.

Mr. Tripathy also said, n++By 2030 ISA aim to bring $1,000 billion investment into solar energy sectorn++. ISA is set to give a big push to solar water pumps and India is expected to play a leadership role.

n++ISA is also trying to persuade all multilateral banks to ensure 15% of this credit portfolio goes to the installation of solar energyn++.

Mr S.C. Tripathi, Former Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Chief Petron, IASRD, India needs to develop competitive PV module manufacturing capabilities.

We need several small 50 MW solar plants rather than a large 500 MW plants, Mr Deepak Gupta, Former Secretary, MNRE. By 2035 solar energy will be cheaper than any other form of energy.

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NITSER (National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research) Amendment Bill passed in Rajya Sabha
Jul 28,2017

NITSER (National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research) Amendment Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha on 26 July 2017. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on 28 March 2017. Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of State (HRD) in Rajya Sabha informed that the Bill proposes to introduce two new Institutions namely Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Tirupati and IISER Berhampur in the Second Schedule of the NITSER Act, 2007.

Five IISERs at Kolkata (2006), Pune (2006), Mohali (2007), Bhopal (2008) and Thiruvananthapuram (2008) mandated with promoting quality education and research in the sciences were established. With the establishment of the two new IISERs there are now seven IISERs.

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World Bank Loan for Solar Projects
Jul 27,2017

World Bank financing of USD 100 Million for development of internal infrastructure of solar parks has been planned by Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) under the aegis of Ministry of New & Renewable Energy. The World Bank loan is proposed to flow to the interested Solar Power Park Developers (SPPDs) through IREDA. This was stated by Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal & New and Renewable Energy and Mines.

In addition, the World Bank is providing low cost financing to roof-top solar developers under a $625 million Programme for Results (PforR) to be routed through the State Bank of India. These programmes will increase the availability of debt financing, de-risk commercial financial flows, and build capacity across the solar PV industry to significantly expand the programme of rooftop solar PV across India. The first 100 MW of solar rooftop financing under this loan has just been approved, the Minister added.

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Rice procurement estimated 375 lakh tonnes during 2017-18 for Kharif Crop
Jul 27,2017

In a meeting of State Food Secretaries held here today, procurement target for paddy in terms of rice for Kharif Crop  during Kharif Marketing Season (KMS) 2017-18 has been finalised as 375 lakh tonnes against target of 330 lakh tonnes of last year i.e. KMS 2016-17. In KMS 2016-17 actual procurement of rice (Kharif crop) was 343.52 LMT. 

The meeting chaired by the Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ms Preeti Sudan reviewed arrangements for procurement of paddy in producing States, particularly in decentralised procurement States and other non-traditional States during KMS 2017-18. 

State wise targets for procurement of paddy (in terms of rice) for KMS 2017-18 for Kharif season is as follows:

Sl. No.

State

Target of Procurement for Kharif Crop only (In Lakh MT)

1

Andhra Pradesh

25

2

Assam

0.75

3

Bihar

12

4

Chhattisgarh

48

5

Haryana

30

6

Jharkhand

2.5

7

Karnataka

1

8

Kerala

1

9

Madhya Pradesh

13

10

Maharashtra

4

11

Odisha

30

12

Punjab

115

13

Tamil Nadu

10

14

Telangana

15

15

Uttar Pradesh

37

16

Uttarakhand

7

17

West Bengal

23

18

Others

0.75

Total

 

375

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