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Kharif Crop sown in 124.94 lakh hectare so far
Jun 24,2016

The total sown area as on 24th June, as per reports received from States, stands at 124.94 lakh hectare as compared to 164.10 lakh hectare at this time last year.

It is reported that rice has been sown/transplanted in 19.86 lakh ha, pulses in 9.66 lakh ha, coarse cereals in 17.60 lakh ha, oilseeds in 6.97 lakh ha, sugarcane in 44.38 lakh hectare and cotton in 19.07 lakh ha.

The details of the area covered so far and that covered during this time last year are given below:

Lakhn++hectaren++

CropArea sown in 2016-17Area sown in 2015-16Rice19.8621.86Pulses9.6612.19Coarse Cereals17.6018.19Oilseeds6.9727.85Sugarcane44.3841.58Jute & Mesta7.407.56Cotton19.0734.87Total124.94164.10

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Soft Global Economy Continues To Weigh On Emerging East Asian Bond Yields
Jun 24,2016

Bond yields in most emerging East Asian markets continued to track lower from 1 March to 15 May 2016 as investors factored in forecasts of continued slow growth for the global economy, Asian Development Banks (ADB) latest Asia Bond Monitor said.

At the same time, the US Federal Reserves cautious approach to keep interest rates steady in its first three meetings in 2016 led to positive inflows in a number of emerging East Asian local currency government bond markets between January and April. Domestic equity markets and emerging East Asian currencies were mostly stronger over the review period, while credit default swap spreads fell, reflecting reduced perceptions of default risk in the region.

n++The outlook for emerging East Asian bonds remains mostly benign given still strong fundamentals and interest in the region, however, there are downside risks, including the possibility that quicker than expected US Federal Reserve interest rate hikes trigger a foreign investor pullback from the region,n++ said Shang-Jin Wei, ADBs Chief Economist. n++At the same time policies to improve the efficiency and transparency of financial markets can help economies in the region remain flexible in the face of external shocks.n++

The report notes that further stagnation in the global economy and worries about financial instability, along with emerging deflation in emerging East Asia, are other risks.

Most local currency government bond yields, including for 10-year government paper, fell. The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the Philippines were exceptions, with yields mostly up.

Local currency bond markets in emerging East Asia continued to grow, rising to over $9.6 trillion at end-March, marking a nearly 4% rise from end-December, and a more than 20% climb over the same period the year earlier. Local currency bond issuance of over $1 trillion in the first quarter was down over 2% from the previous quarter, but was still up 51% from the year earlier period.

The PRCs bond market remained emerging East Asias largest, accounting for nearly 68% of total bond stock as of end-March 2016. Local currency government bonds continued to dominate, accounting for nearly 62% of total holdings at end-March with corporate bonds less attractive due to their more illiquid nature.

Between 1 March and 15 May, equities rose in all emerging East Asian markets, except for modest declines in Indonesia and Malaysia, while currencies were broadly stronger against the US dollar, with the Republic of Korea won appreciating the most (up 5% during the review period), followed by the Malaysian ringgit, which gained over 3%.

The reports theme chapter examines the macroeconomic factors affecting sovereign bond yields in emerging Asia, highlighting the role of inflation and the different yield impacts of consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI) inflation, the importance of domestic liquidity, and the influence of the global economic environment on bond yields.

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ADB, IRRI Sign Knowledge Partnership Agreement
Jun 24,2016

Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Director General Matthew Morell signed an agreement to promote food security in Asia and the Pacific by scaling up collaboration on disseminating research and other knowledge on the role of advanced agricultural technologies in providing affordable food for all.

Under the partnership agreement signed today during ADBs Food Security Forum 2016, the two institutions will undertake annual consultations to review and ensure alignment of ongoing collaborative activities, and to develop a joint work program. The 2016 program will focus on expanding the use of climate-smart agriculture and water-saving technologies to increase productivity and boost the resilience of rice cultivation systems, and to minimize the carbon footprint of rice production.

This new form of collaboration with IRRI is another step toward our shared goal of ensuring good food and nutrition for all citizens of this region, said Mr. Nakao. We look forward to further strengthening our cooperation in this area to promote inclusive and sustainable growth, as well as to combat climate change.

I am delighted to build on our partnership with ADB to add a new dimension to our long-standing collaborative work, Mr. Morell said.

IRRI looks forward to deepening our already strong partnership as we jointly develop and disseminate useful agricultural technologies throughout Asia.

ADB and IRRI have collaborated since 1975 on agricultural research to provide scientific solutions to a wide array of challenges including low crop yields, vulnerability to extreme weather, pests and disease, postharvest losses, deteriorating land and water resources, and greenhouse gas emissions.

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Storage Status of 91 Major Reservoirs of the Country is 15% of total storage capacity as on JUNE 23, 2016
Jun 24,2016

The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on June 23, 2016 was 23.202 BCM which is 15% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This was 54% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 75% 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 6 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 4.25 BCM which is 24% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 42% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 30% 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.

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 3.07 BCM which is 16% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 28% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 17% 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.

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 2.49 BCM which is 09% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 21% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was21% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the storage of last year and is also less 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 8.52 BCM which is 20% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 29% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 15% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the storage of last year but 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 4.88 BCM which is 9% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 23% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 21% 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 Rajasthan West Bengal, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh. States having lesser storage than last year for corresponding period are Himachal Pradesh, AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states), Punjab, Jharkhand, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.

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Ministry of HUPA to promote regional planning to meet urban housing demand
Jun 24,2016

Minister of State for Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Urban Development Shri Babul Supriyo has said that the Government will promote regional planning by moving beyond city-centric planning for construction of houses in satellite townships, peri-urban and peripheral areas to meet the housing demand in urban areas. He inaugurated an international workshop on n++Human Settlements-Planning and Design : A Shared Understandingn++.

Shri Supriyo said that the Government is committed to ensure housing for urban poor by 2022 and further observed that n++the government while acknowledging problems in urban areas is striving to solve them in an integrated and goal centric mannern++. The Minister stressed the need to assist the poor even in remote and far off places in planning , design and construction of safe and resilient houses.

Shri Supriyo referred to various initiatives launched by the Government to address infrastructure bottlenecks and housing shortage in urban areas.

Dr.Nandita Chatterjee, Secretary (HUPA) said that n++ the Ministry is close to finalizing a pro-active, practical and pragmatic Rental Housing Policy keeping in view that 27% of the housing demand is for such rental housingn++. She emphasized on the need for effective planning and design so as to meet the housing needs of all sections of the people in the context of rising costs of land, labour and availability of materials.

Dr. Chattejee noted that to move beyond city-centric planning for housing, construction of houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) is being allowed in planning areas which go beyond city limits. She said that planning needs to be done in the context of rural - urban continuum and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission is a step in this regard.

Ministry of HUPA has organized the workshop for sharing of ideas and experiences in respect of housing among the Asia-Pacific countries. Representatives from 9 countries viz., Japan, South Korea, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Fiji have attended the workshop.

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$500 Million ADB Loan To Help India Build Its Longest River Bridge
Jun 24,2016

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today approved a $500 million loan to build a bridge across Indias Ganges River. The 9.8 kilometer (km) road bridge in the northeastern state of Bihar will be Indias longest river bridge and will provide vital transport links between the northern and southern parts of the state and with neighboring Nepal.

The new bridge will make it easier for people to move between jobs and markets, particularly for poorer communities in the north wishing to travel to the state capital, Patna, just south of the river, said Dong Kyu Lee in ADBs South Asia Department who is leading the project. In all, the bridge is expected to benefit over nine million people.

Bihar, the third most populous state in India with over 100 million inhabitants, has poverty levels above the national average, with seven out of 10 of the states poorest districts located in the north. Traffic volumes are rising but there are only four operational bridges along the 200 km stretch of the Ganges River that pass through Bihar state, and the capacity of existing bridges is already stretched, undermining connectivity and access to opportunities for northern communities.

The new Ganga Bridge, to be located near Patna, will span both channels of the Ganges River and serve as an alternate route to the existing Ganga Bridge, which has begun to deteriorate. Along with the bridge structure itself, the project will also build viaducts, embankments, and toll and service facilities, and will link to national highway networks.

A key feature will be a year-round embankment access road for the 250,000 inhabitants of the Raghopur Diara river island, ending their reliance on boats and a seasonal pontoon bridge as their only links to Patna.

The bridge, using state-of-the-art engineering techniques, will be the first of its kind in India. The height and length have been designed to minimize impacts on the river itself and to ensure the bridge will be able to withstand climate-related stresses such as a rise in the water level.

Along with ADBs loan and $900,000 in technical assistance to improve bridge operation and management, the state government of Bihar will provide support equivalent to $215 million. The project will run for about 4 years with an expected completion date of the end of December 2020.

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Capping would not be the answer to deal airfares rise: Ashok Gajapathi Raju
Jun 24,2016

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said, to deal with steep rise in airfares, capping would not be the answer as it would also push the floor prices at an The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) event.

On capping airfares, We did analysis which showed that 1.7% of the tickets sold were of high cost. So, the last minute high price of ticket is matter of concernn++. But we should not land up in a situation that pushes price of over 90% of passengers for benefit of 1.7%, said Mr Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati, Union Minister, Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Mr Rajiv Nayan Choubey, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation said, n++the civil aviation policy is just the beginning. We wish to stay ahead of the growth curve and if we fall behind the growth curve, for example as it happened in case of urban development in the country, there will be aviation chaos in skies, airports....All that we must do in order to ensure that we stay ahead of the growth curven++.

There are couples of areas which require immediate attention like how to reduce the cost of leasing? If the cost leasing remains high either because of capital or any other procedural requirement, the regional connectivity may find difficulty in taking off so we are committed to exploring ways to reduce the cost of leasing, added Mr. Choubey.

Mr. Choubey further said if the crude price remains soft for the next 4-5 years, regional air connectivity would have found very strong roots in India.

The Civil Aviation Ministry would look at the possibility of utilizing certain unused airports for the purpose of parking aircraft and use aerodromes for plane-breaking or dismantling of old aircraft. There are around 400 unused airports and airstrips across the country, said Mr. Choubey.

He said, in the last 4-5 months, we interacted with the aircraft manufactures from all over the world where they could clearly see the scope of hundreds of small planes coming to the country in next 3-5 years.

To sell aircraft in India, sell an eco-system and should have elements which are excellent aircraft and fuel efficient. Secondly, it should also have maintenance facilities which should be created in country or maybe tie up with MROs in the country and make sure that the maintenance happens in the country.

Third, they must also come with the training infrastructure for the cabin crew and for cooperate groups. They must tie up again with several institutes which are already here or set up their own. Last, they must bring very attractive leasing packages, said Mr. Choubey .

Mr Ajay Singh, Chairman & MD, Spicejet Limited, Aviation India will grow only if we are able to constantly work to reduce the cost of aviation in India. We have to bring down the cost or fares and stimulate this market with low fares. The 20% growth we have seen today in the consequence of the reduction in fares from last year to this year and that must continue if you want to see sector growing.

Mr. Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO, YES BANK, said, n++It is indeed a great honour and privilege to be recognized for our contribution to promoting tourism. The award is a true recognition of YES BANKs decade-long relentless focus on providing innovative solutions to key sunrise sectors of the economy, like Tourism & Hospitality, which go beyond the traditional realm of banking and help unlock the enormous potential of the sector. The Award will surely strengthen YES BANKs endeavor in championing significant policy changes at various forums, aimed at the holistic development of the sector and unleash the sectors untapped potential.n++

At the programme, Airbus was given the award for being the best global aviation company in aviation, Pawan Hans for promoting remote & regional connectivity, best airport for GMR Dial, SafeExpress, the best air cargo logistics, the best banker promoting tourism, Yes Bank, the best luxury jet charter, Club One Air, Frankfin, the best air-hostess training institute and Swift Turnaround in a airline company, Spicejet.

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Time to take proactive approach towards bio-defence preparedness
Jun 24,2016

It has been witnessed in the past that bio-threat and bioterrorism have the ability to deeply impact the socio-economic status of a country; therefore, it is essential to anticipate potential threats in advance and take necessary steps to combat these bio-threats. This was stated by Mr. Jesper Elsgaard, Vice President, Governmental Affairs, Bavarian Nordic, Denmark, at a FICCI conference on Bio-Defence: Preparedness & Need for Proactive Approach. The conference focused on bioterrorism which is use of biological agents to intentionally produce disease or intoxication in susceptible populations - humans, animals, or plants - to meet terrorist aims. Bioterrorism and bio threat underline the need for a proactive approach, said Mr. Elsgaard and added that bio defence is a proactive action that uses medical measures to protect people against bioterrorism and includes medicines and vaccinations.

Mr. Elsgaard said that as bio defence is a complicated industry because of the many things that have to be aligned together such as public perception, incentives, understanding of threat, transparency, acceptance of failure and long-term commitment. He added that bio defence includes medical research and preparations to defend against bioterrorist attacks.

Through long-standing collaborations, including a collaboration with the U.S. government, Bavarian Nordic has developed a portfolio of vaccines for infectious diseases, including the nonreplicating smallpox vaccine, said Mr. Elsgaard and added that biotech companies spent considerable amount of time developing a vaccine against what has so far been a non-existent disease and also explore possible avenues for the re-emergence of disease, including the impact of developments in synthetic biology.

Lt. Gen. (Dr) JR Bhardwaj, PVSM AVSM VSM PHS (Retd), MD DCP PhD FICP FAMS FRC Path (London), Former Member, National Disaster Management Authority, Government of India, Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services, said that bio threat is from both state and non-state agents and there was a need to create awareness about bio threats as in India it has not been given due importance. India possesses one of the best national guidelines on biological warfare but not much progress has taken place on the ground, he added.

Lt. Gen. (Dr) JR Bhardwaj said that bio threats have the potential to paralyse an economy and can prove to be far more dangerous than nuclear and chemical weapons. India has the capability to undertake bio defence and DRDO and other such institutions were working towards it. He added that it is of great importance to define potential bio threat agents and keep the labs updated with skilled first responders and work on prevention by way of immunization.

Mr. Nirankar Saxena, Senior Director - BISNET, Science & Technology Innovation Disaster Management, ATA Carnet & Commercialization of Innovation, FICCI, said that the conference was focused on preparedness by having a plan before bio-terrorism strikes. The possible avenues for bio defence, including the impact of developments in synthetic biology were discussed, giving an inside view on the bio defence industry and its unusual business model.

Mr. Saxena said that the there was a need for long-term planning to resolve an outbreak of an infectious disease. The time is to be proactive, not reactive in developing preparedness against bio threats. He added that the leading companies and their experts should engage themselves in multiple development programmes with governments, the more success stories there will be, and eventually innovation will create a more substantial market with more players.

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World Bank partners with the Indian Council of Arbitration (ICA) for Dispute Board services in India
Jun 24,2016

Dispute Board (DB) system is a concurrent mechanism for resolution of dispute before arbitration/litigation. The DB usually consists of three experts, who are experienced, respected, and impartial, acceptable to both the parties and conversant with the nature and complexity of the work involved.

The DB is organized before construction begins and meets at the jobsite periodically. DB Members are provided with the contract plans and specifications, become familiar with the project procedures and the participants, and are kept abreast of job progress and developments. The DB process helps the parties to head off problems before they escalate into major disputes. The system has been highly effective in most parts of the world.

In India, however a perception have developed that the DB system is not implemented as envisaged and as a result is not effective. There is not much respect for the system of DB, whose decisions/recommendations are routinely rejected, and taken to arbitration, which is far more time consuming as also costlier, resulting in delays and cost overruns in project deliveries.

The World Bank has been advocating the use of the DBs as an effective and speedy means to resolve dispute in infrastructure projects so as to minimize, if not eliminate, the delays and consequent cost overruns. However, the DB system had lost its value mainly because of the mindset of the parties which led to treating the system lightly.

n++India is the largest borrower of the World Bank with about 100 Projects under implementation with loan commitment of about US$ 27 Billion.

Contractual disputes delay the implementation of the contracts as well as increase the cost and thus adversely impact development outcomes from Projects. Even though Dispute Boards (DB) are less legalistic, less adversarial, less time consuming and less costly, DBs are not popular in India and very few government agencies use them. Even in those contracts where DBs are mandatory, Parties to the Contract resist constituting DBs or try to bypass them.

World Bank has partnered with Indian Council of Arbitration (ICA) to introduce some improvements in DB to make them more popular and acceptable in India. This is a very important initiative as institutional DRB option (to be offered by ICA) would be available not only for Bank funded projects but also for projects funded by other sources.n++ Said Mr. Shanker Lal, Senior Procurement Specialist, World Bank.

ICA is an allied body of industry chamber FICCI. The concept of institutional support to DB system is new in this country. Under this system, the institution will provide various services for organizing empanelment of DB members, as well as updating the list of DB members from time to time, provide names of DB out of maintained panels, provide a continuous platform for training of all stakeholders including the functional employees and operating staff of the employer, the contractor and the engineers organizations, giving guidance on issues and problems faced in the operation of DBs, assisting the parties by appointments to vacancies in the DB as per contract conditions. The institution will also monitor whether this DB is performing its functions as stipulated and as expected and point out deficiencies, if any, and improvements required by DBs and also standardizing the procedure for functioning of DBs.

ICA has consequently empaneled nearly 200 experts in different trades. Besides the first training program for the empaneled DB members as also for several other professionals in the field have also been completed. Empanelment as well as training both are ongoing processes and will be continued from time to time.

The Institutional DB services, launched this day, along with standardizing of its operations and training of DB members, holds a promise to build up confidence among all stakeholders in the DB mechanism and usher the system in a new era of timely resolution of disputes.

ICA has thus become the pioneering institution in providing Institutional Dispute Board services in India.

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Proposal to provide flexibility to garment industry, under various labour laws would help industry to meet their orders timely & be competitive too
Jun 24,2016

Commenting on the Cabinets approval for a special package for employment generation and promotion of exports in Textile and Apparel sector, Mr Shishir Jaipuria, Chairman, FICCI Textiles Committee said n++We welcome the special package which addresses the issues of textiles industry holistically. This is timely and would provide a much needed impetus to the value addition and employment in the countryn++.

n++The proposal to provide flexibility to the garment industry which is seasonal in nature, under various labour laws would help the industry to meet their orders timely and be competitive too. This would attract large investments and create more job opportunities especially for the women in the sectorn++ said Mr Jaipuria.

n++As the Indian textiles and garment industry is facing tough competition in the global market, the refund of State levies come as a breather and would help them to gain more competitiveness in global markets where we have to compete with other countries that enjoy duty free regimen++ Mr Jaipuria stated further.

FICCI added that such a package could also be extended to made-up sector that is high employment generating sector and also a value added segment of the textiles value chain.

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Easing For FDIs In Various Sectors To Attract Chunk Of Investments: Phd Chamber
Jun 24,2016

President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Mahesh Gupta welcomed Union Cabinet decision, of radical changes in the FDI Policy regime terming it a right move which was long overdue, saying that it will not only boost the job creation in the economy but also enable India to attract chunk foreign direct investment (FDI).

Dr Gupta said that the increase in sectoral caps, bringing more activities under automatic route and easing of conditionalities for foreign investment will make India a more open economy in the world economic system.

We have a good room for more and more openness vis-a-vis strong macroeconomic fundamentals, said Dr. Gupta.

He added that the FDI reforms were very crucial at this juncture which will lead to further FDI inflows which already increased from around US$36 billion in FY14 to US$55 billion in FY16 due to recent initiatives of the government.

The PHD Chamber appreciates the Modi government for taking pro-active reforms oriented decisions.

The Chamber believes that the easing of FDI rules in various sectors viz. Animal Husbandry, Broadcasting, Civil Aviation, Defence, Pharmaceutical and Single Brand Retail trading is something which needs to be applauded.

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Pilot Programme to run two wheelers on CNG launched by Shri Dharmendra Pradhan & Shri Prakash Javadekar
Jun 24,2016

In a major step to curb rising air pollution in Indian cities, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas (I/C) Shri Dharmendra Pradhan and Minister of State (I/C) for Environment, Forests & Climate Change Shri Prakash Javadekar launched first of its kind Pilot Programme in the country to run two wheelers on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi, Member of Parliament, was also present on the occasion.

Welcoming the initiative, Shri Pradhan said that the Government is pro-actively striving to promote clean fuel in the country. He said that under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the Government is promoting the use of gas in the country, thereby providing a better lifestyle to the people and also fulfilling the COP-21 commitments to curb pollution. Shri Pradhan said that the Gas share in the countrys fuel basket is just 7% compared to world average of around 24%. Describing the pilot programme to run two wheelers on CNG as historic, he said that after evaluating its experience, it will be expanded very fast. Expressing the Governments commitment to Clean Delhi, the Minister said that he has already written to Delhi Government to make Bawana power plant fully operational on LNG so that cheaper and clean power is made available to residents of Delhi, but no satisfactory reply has been received. He said that 350 MW Badarpur Thermal power plant in the capital is making several times more pollution than all the vehicles of Delhi put together.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Prakash Javadekar said that the Government is fully committed to control pollution in the country, and for this purpose, there will be a jump from Euro-IV type fuel to Euro-VI by 2020. He said that Environment Ministry will fully support the endeavours to promote clean fuel, including Gas. The Minister said that the launch of pilot phase of the project for CNG kit in two-wheelers will have a far-reaching implication in reducing pollution. Outlining the steps taken by the government, Shri Javadekar said that steps such as cess of Rs. 400 per tonne on coal, introduction of E-rickshaws and providing subsidy to electric/hybrid cars, show the urgency and intention of the government to fight pollution.

Mrs Meenakshi Lekhi congratulated the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas for initiating the welfare measures. She said that pilot project is a sign of growing India-Iran cooperation, as the Iranian kits have been used for retrofitment.

Being implemented by Indraprastha Gas (IGL) and one of its parent company, GAIL (India), the Pilot Programme involves 50 CNG retrofitted two wheelers. Of these, the first batch of ten CNG retrofitted two wheelers were flagged off by the dignitaries today. The introduction of CNG in two wheeler segment has the capacity to revolutionize the fight against air pollution in the country and especially in the metros like Delhi, where two wheelers contribute a major portion in the vehicular emissions, according to several studies.

The Hawa Badlo movement is a peoples initiative to fight air pollution which is supported by GAIL and city gas distribution companies. As part of the movement, a number of awareness drives have been carried out regarding the fight against air pollution. Hawa Badlo also supports research initiatives in this regard, of which the CNG retrofitted two wheeler programme is a part.

The scooters are being retrofitted with CNG kit manufactured by M/s Ituk Manufacturing India Pvt. Ltd. The type approval of the CNG kit has been taken from Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) as well as Transport Department, Govt. of NCT of Delhi. The type approvals of all Components, parts, assemblies in the kit have been received from Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO), International Center for Automotive Technology (ICAT) and Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), as applicable. The retrofitment in vehicles has been undertaken in a centre authorized by Transport Department, Govt. of NCT of Delhi.

As per idle emission test, the hydrocarbon emissions from CNG retrofitted two wheelers are 75% lesser and CO emissions are 20% lesser as compared to petrol driven similar models. The CNG kit for two wheelers comprises two CNG cylinders of 4.8 litre water capacity each, which can be filled with up to 1 kg of CNG in each cylinder. These CNG retrofitted two wheelers can drive upto 120 kms in a single fill and are expected to be substantially economical as compared to a similar petrol run vehicle at the current level of prices, as per the kit manufacturer.

The performance of 50 CNG retrofitted two wheelers would be closely monitored in terms of efficiency, emissions, etc. during the pilot phase by all the stakeholders and the learning from this project would be used to develop the roadmap for introduction of CNG in two wheeler segment across the nation.

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Prime Minister to launch Smart City projects
Jun 23,2016

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will launch Smart City projects on Saturday i.e June 25,2016 kick starting execution of Smart City Plans of 20 cities selected in the first round of Smart City Challenge Competition. This marks the beginning of holistic and integrated urban development in the country as envisaged under the new urban missions launched by the Government.

Prime Minister will launch 14 projects under the Smart City Plan of Pune from the citys 5,000 capacity Shiv Chatrapati Sports Complex at a programme to be presided over by the Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu. Maharashtra Governor Shri Ch.Vidyasagara Rao and Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis will also be present on the occasion. Another 69 such projects will be launched the same day in the other Smart Cities entailing a total investment of about Rs.1,770 cr.

The projects to be launched in Pune and other cities include Solid Waste Management projects under Swachh Bharat Mission, Water Supply Projects, Sewage Treatment Plants and development of open and green spaces under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Housing Projects for urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and area development and technology based Pan-city Solutions under Smart Cities Mission realizing the objective of convergence in implementation of new urban missions.

Saturdays launch also marks the beginning of implementation of urban development plans based on five year action plans formulated after detailed analysis of infrastructure gaps in over 500 cities included in Smart City Mission and AMRUT, accounting for about 70% of countrys urban population. This brings to an end the ad hoc and project based approach to urban development followed so far.

Prime Minister Shri Modi will also inaugurate Make Your City SMART contest aimed at involving citizens in designing roads, junctions, parks etc. Suggestions and designs suggested by the citizens will be duly incorporated by respective smart cities. Winners of this contest will be given rewards in the range of Rs.10,000/- to Rs.1,00,000/-. This is aimed at continuing citizen participation in the planning under which about 1.50 crore citizens participated in the formulation of Smart City Plans to making of smart cities.

Smart Net Portal also will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister which enables the cities under different urban missions to share ideas and source solutions for various issues during the implementation of various missions.

All the first batch of 20 smart cities will be linked through video-conferencing on the occasion of launch of projects by the Prime Minister.

Smart Cities Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) were launched by the Prime Minister on June 25 last year. Subsequently, two rounds City Challenge competitions were conducted to pick up the first batch of 20 smart cities whose projects are being launched on Saturday. These 20 cities have proposed a total investment of Rs.48,000 cr in area development and Pan-city solutions.

Some of the projects to be launched city-wise are:

Pune : Slum Rehabilitation of Dr.Balasaheb Ambedkar Vasahat Aundh, Steet and Pedestrian Walkway, Modern Buses with Alternative Fuels, Traffic Demand Modelling Project, City Common Mobility Card.

Ahmedabad : Sewage Treatment Plant, Irradiation Sludge Hygienation project, housing project, River Front Garden, Common City Payment System, Smart Learning in Municipal Schools, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA) for water supply.

Bhubaneswar: Railway Multi-modal Hub, Traffic Signalisation Project, Urban Knowledge Centre.

New Delhi Municipal Council : Mini-sewerage Treatment Plants, 444 Smart Class Rooms, Bio-methanation Plant, WiFi, Smart LED streetlights, City Surveillance, Command and Control Centre.

Jabalpur: Waste to Energy Project, Sewerage Treatment Plant, Multilevel Car Parking, Multipurpose Smart Card, Sensor based tags for household dustbins.

Jaipur: Beautification of Ramnivas Garden, 100 MW Rooftop Solar Power Plant, Public Bike Sharing

Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh): Solar Roof Top Power Plant, distribution of e-rikshaws, e-pathasalas.

Kochi (Kerala):Pashinithodu canal rejuvenation and refurbishment, St.John Park renovation, MG Road Footpath renovation.

Belagavi (Karnataka): Natural Gas Distribution Network, Rooftop Solar Plant, GSM based monitoring of solid waste collection vehicles.

Under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), projects with a total investment of Rs.2,900 cr are also set to be launched in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kerala, Chandigarh and Manipur. These include sewerage projects with an investment of Rs.1,275 cr and water supply projects at a cost of Rs.817 cr.

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Suspension of Operations Agreement with NDFB (P) Extended
Jun 23,2016

A meeting of Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) consisting of representatives of Government of India, Government of Assam and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive) was held here today. The observance of Agreed Ground Rules for Suspension of Operations was reviewed.

After discussions, it was agreed to extend Suspension of Operations for a period of six months upto December 31, 2016.

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India and UK join hands to work as R&D partners in Solar Alliance and Nano Material Research
Jun 23,2016

Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan led the Indian delegation at the 5th Indo-UK Science and Innovation Council Meeting (SIC) held at London earlier last week, co-chaired by Mr. Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Science, UK. After the event, Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated that India and UK have agreed to work together in two major initiatives in the fields of Solar Energy and Nano Material Research, inter alia.

The SIC is the apex body which oversees the entire gamut of the India-UK science, technology and innovation cooperation and meets once in two years. The last meeting of the SIC was held in New Delhi in November 2014 during which both countries had launched the Newton-Bhabha Programme to support the bilateral Science & Technology cooperation. Currently, the value of investment in Indo-UK research and development cooperation from multiple Indian and UK agencies exceeds 200 million pounds of co-funding. UK stands amongst the top three collaborating countries in science and technology with India.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan informed that as a part of the commitment to the Solar Alliance, the India-UK networked Centre on Solar Energy would be established. It would be linked to Indias renewable energy mission and UKs Supergens Programme. The research projects will focus on systems level design and development covering Solar energy generation, storage systems and grid integration particularly for micro-grid systems. India would be investing Rs.50 crores over a period of five years with matching contribution from Research Council UK (RCUK) under the Newton-Bhabha Programme.

As a result of this strengthening of the Indo-UK Science & Technology cooperation, the SIC announced access to Indian researchers to the Neutron Scattering facility of the UKs Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxford. This unique facility, based on the use of neutron scattering and muon spectroscopy, is a world class facility at Oxford to carry out fundamental research on understanding a wide range of matter at the fundamental level. This will help to enhance Indian capability to fabricate structures at Nano scale level for creating interesting and technologically important materials through research in fundamental science. As a part of the Nano mission program, the Department of Science & Technology would be investing Rs.26.5 crores.

The Minister also noted that the Ministry of Earth Sciences of Government of India and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK are working on large observational campaign involving UK aircraft, Indian ships accompanied by surface observations primarily to address role of small scale processes to address variability of Indian monsoon leading to improved prediction of monsoon from short range to seasonal time scale.

Both nations have also agreed to address a gamut of societal challenges in the fields of food, energy and water security; health and well-being; smart cities and rapid urbanization with increasing access and sharing of expertise, resources and facilities. The cooperation is aimed to yield high quality and high impact research outputs having industrial relevance, targeted towards addressing societal needs.

In the area of life and health sciences, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), India and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), UK have agreed to provide continued support to the virtual joint centers on Agricultural Nitrogen. The two agencies are also supporting research collaboration under Global Research Partnership in Aquaculture. In the area of health sciences, the focus is to address health needs of women and children.

In the field of Water Quality Research, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and NERC-UK will initiate a collaborative research program to improve water quality in India. The program would address the problem of natural, geogenic contaminants such as arsenic and fluoride as well as man-made pollutants like pharmaceutical and personal care products increasingly being found in ground water. This program is being developed to support implementation of the goals of the National Mission for Clean Ganga.

Further, both sides would work towards augmenting the India-UK Centre of Advanced Manufacturing through DST-RCUK cooperation linked to the Make in India Program and UKs Catapult Centre program. The projects will be designed to deliver industry-relevant results that can be readily applied to current challenges in manufacturing supply chain.

Under the Newton-Bhabha Programme, the two sides have also agreed on a collaborative program on Energy Efficiency in Built Environment as a part of the Smart Cities mission. Both the countries have agreed on common research agenda focused on energy-efficient building envelop, low energy cooling and thermal comfort as well as energy efficient technologies for city and community level.

The Industrial R&D program was initiated in 2014 to support industry-led projects aimed to develop new Intellectual Property, technologies, processes and prototypes under the translation strand of the Newton-Bhabha Programme. In addition to the five ongoing projects, five new projects were identified for support in the areas of affordable health care, clean technology, electronic design and Internet of Things.

Besides the Newton-Bhabha Programme, the two countries have also been involved in promoting partnerships through the UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI). Acknowledging the success in building new scientific partnership through R&D projects and networking, the two governments concluded the implementation arrangement for the Phase III (2016-2021) of the UKIERI.

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