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Global Market-Based Measures in International Civil Aviation Must Take Care of Interests of Poor, Developing Countries- Environment Minister
Aug 09,2016

India has said that the global market-based measures in international civil aviation sector must follow the principles of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities - Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC). Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Environment, Forest and Climate, Shri Anil Madhav Dave said that the interests of poor, developing countries should be taken on board in the development of the global market-based measures. Moreover, in view of the universal consensus achieved under the Paris Agreement, all measures to address the greenhouse gases must follow the mandate and framework emanating from it.

Shri Dave was speaking at a meeting with the President of the Council of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, to discuss the global market-based measures in ICAO in the context of emissions from the civil aviation sector. The ICAO President lauded Indias constructive role during CoP-21 at Paris. He also appreciated the ambition displayed in Indias climate actions under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Liberalised visa Policy to Boost Trade
Aug 09,2016

A liberalized visa regime helps in promotion of trade in services in different modes of supply particularly, Mode 2 which includes tourism, medical value travel and education services. The Department of Commerce accordingly advocates for a liberal regime with adequate safeguards and works with Ministry of Home Affairs who deals with the subject. As per Ministry of Home Affairs, rationalization and simplification of the visa regime is a continuous process. A proposal to further liberalize the visa policy is under consideration in Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with all stakeholders.

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Rs.142.00 Crore Sanctioned for Biogas Programme in 2016-17
Aug 08,2016

An amount of Rs.142.00 crore has been allocated under n++Biogas Programme during the current year 2016-17.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is promoting setting up of biogas plants under three Central Sector Schemes. National Biogas and Manure Management Programme (NBMMP) caters to setting up of family type biogas plants for meeting cooking energy needs of rural and semi-urban areas of the country. A target for setting up of 1,00,000 biogas plants under the NBMMP has been fixed during the current year, 2016-17 and communicated to the States. Biogas Power Generation Programme (Off-grid) is meant for setting up of biogas plants in the size range of 25 to 2000 cubic metre per day for producing biogas for power generation in the range from 3 kw to 250 kw or for thermal applications and Waste to Energy Programme for setting up of large size biogas plants to recover energy from Urban, Industrial and Agricultural wastes/residues..

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Scheme Sanction for 1,000 MW CTU Connected Wind Power Projects in the Country
Aug 08,2016

Government has sanctioned a scheme for setting up of 1,000 MW Central Transmission Utility (CTU) connected Wind Power Projects in the country. This Scheme will be implemented by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and the wind power projects will be selected through transparent e-bidding process.

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Over 226.98 Lakh e-returns filed as on 5th August 2016 in FY 2016-17
Aug 08,2016

The facility of e-verification of IT returns has been used by over 75.3 Lakh taxpayers till 5th August, 2016 as compared to 32.95 Lakh taxpayers last year till 7th September 2015. Of these Aadhar based E- verification was used by 17.68 lakh taxpayers during the current year as against 10.41 lakh taxpayers during the same period in 2015-16. In addition to these, 3.32 Lakh returns were digitally signed. Thus, over 35% of taxpayers have already completed the entire process of Return submission electronically. The Department encourages all taxpayers who have submitted their ITRs to use the e-verification as an easy alternative to sending their ITR-V form to CPC, Bengaluru.

As on 5th August 2016, over 226.98 Lakh e-returns had been filed in F.Y. 2016-17 as compared to 70.97 Lakh for the same period in FY 2015-16. The growth is over 9.8% even if comparison is made with E-returns filed of 206.55 Lakh as on 7th September 2015 (the extended due date in FY 2015-16) which is for a period more than a month later.

Taxpayers have appreciated the early processing of Income Tax Returns by CPC Bangalore last year. Keeping the same momentum, the CPC Bengaluru has already issued over 54.35 Lakh refunds totaling to Rs 14,332 Crore which includes 20.81 Lakh refunds for AY 2016-17 (current year returns) totaling to Rs 2,922 Crore till 5th August 2016.

The Department is committed to continuous improvement of taxpayer services and seeks the cooperation of all taxpayers in contributing their fair share of taxes voluntarily.

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Numerous Steps Taken by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways on Road Safety
Aug 08,2016

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways have drafted a Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2016 covering the entire gamut of issues related to motor vehicles and road safety including higher compensation for the road accident victims. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has taken a number of steps to prevent road accidents as per details mentioned under:

i. The Government has approved a National Road Safety Policy. This Policy outlines various policy measures such as promoting awareness, encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent transport, enforcement of safety laws trauma care etc.

ii. The Government has constituted the National Road Safety Council as the apex body to take policy decisions in matters of road safety.

iii. The Ministry has requested all States/UTs for setting up of State Road Safety Council and District Road Safety Committees, and to hold their meetings regularly.

iv. The Ministry has formulated a multi-pronged strategy to address the issue of road safety based on 4 Es viz. Education, Engineering (both of roads and vehicles), Enforcement and Emergency Care. Based on this, a draft action plan has been shared with the states.

v. Road safety has been made an integral part of road design at planning stage.

vi. Road Safety Audit of selected stretches of National Highways has been taken up.

vii. High priority has been accorded to identification and rectification of black spots (accident prone spots) on national highways. Around 700 such black spots have been identified for improvement.

viii. The threshold for four Laning of national highway has been reduced from 15,000 Passenger Car Units (PCUs) to 10,000 PCUs. About 52,000 Km of stretches of State Highways has been identified for conversion to national highways.

ix. Setting up of model driving training institutes in States and refresher training to drivers of Heavy Motor Vehicle in the unorganized sector.

x. Advocacy/Publicity campaign on road safety through the electronic and print media. xi. Tightening of safety standards for vehicles like Seat Belts, Power-steering, anti-lock braking system etc.

xii. Providing cranes and ambulances to various State Governments under the National Highway Accident Relief Service Scheme for development on National Highways. National Highways Authority of India also provides ambulances at a distance of 50 Km. on each of its completed stretches of National Highways under its Operation & Maintenance contracts.

xiii. Launch of pilot projects for providing cashless treatment of road accident victims on Gurgaon - Jaipur, Vadodara - Mumbai stretch of National Highways No. 8 and Ranchi - Rargaon - Mahulia stretch of National Highway No. 33.

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FDI in petroleum sector permitted across the Hydrocarbon value chain
Aug 08,2016

The Government of India permits Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) across the hydrocarbon value chain covering the upstream, downstream and midstream sectors. The present FDI policy for petroleum & natural gas sector allows 100% automatic route for exploration and production, refining by the private companies (for public sector companies 49% on automatic route without any divestment or dilution of domestic equity in the existing PSUs), marketing of petroleum products, pipelines, storage and LNG regasification infrastructure and all related services, subject to existing sectoral policy and regulatory framework in the oil and gas sector.

Exploration and Production of oil and gas are capital intensive and high risk activities requiring use of expensive stat-of-the-art technologies and best management practices. Accordingly, the Government is encouraging participation of the private sector, including foreign companies in exploration, production and transportation network for petroleum and natural gas, in order to supplement the domestic investment as well as the efforts of the national oil companies in meeting the rising demand of oil and gas and reducing import dependence.

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No visible impact currently on Production of Crude Oil and gas due to slump in crude oil prices
Aug 08,2016

Currently, there is no visible impact on countrys oil & natural gas production due to slump in crude oil prices. Decline in Crude oil prices affect revenues and profits of E&P companies and extended declines may even adversely affect their ability to finance planned capital expenditures for major exploration, development and re-development projects resulting in adverse impact on production of oil and gas in the long run.

In order to accelerate the pace of exploration and enhance production of natural gas in the country and to reduce import dependency, the Government has taken various policy initiatives which are as under:

n++ Government has approved a new Hydrocarbon and Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP) and same has been notified on 30th March 2016.

n++ Marketing and Pricing freedom for new gas production from Deepwater, Ultra Deepwater and High Pressure-High Temperature areas subject to certain conditions, to incentivize gas production from such areas.

n++ Policy for grant of extension to the Production Sharing Contracts of 28 Small and medium sized discovered blocks, so that investors can plan their investment.

n++ Policy Framework for relaxation, extensions and clarifications at the development and production stage under PSC regime for early monetization of hydrocarbon discoveries.

n++ New Domestic Natural Gas price Guidelines, 2014: Under these guidelines, gas price has been linked to the market/ important hub prices.

n++ Discovered Small Fields Policy- 67 oil & gas fields which have been held by ONGC and OIL for many years, but have not been exploited, has been approved for bidding under this policy. The bid has been launched on 25.05.2016.

n++ Appraisal of about 1.5 million sq. km un-appraised area of the Indian Sedimentary Basins has been initiated.

n++ Re-assessment of Hydrocarbon Resources.

n++ National Data Repository has been setup.

n++ Policy for exploration and exploitation of Shale Gas/Shale Oil resources by NOCs under the Nomination Regime.

n++ Policy for exploration in the Mining Lease (ML) areas after the expiry of exploration period.

n++ Policy on Non-exclusive Multi-client Speculative Survey for assessment of unexplored sedimentary basins has been operationalized.

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4497 New Projects Sanctioned for Rural Electrification under DDUGJY
Aug 08,2016

Under Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), 4497 new projects have been sanctioned in the country with the project cost of Rs. 42392.47 crore for various rural electrification works. In addition to the projects sanctioned under erstwhile Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana are also subsumed with DDUGJY as Rural Electrification (RE) component.

Government of India has this Scheme in December, 2014 for separation of agriculture and non-agriculture feeders, facilitating supply of power to agricultural & non- agricultural consumers in the rural areas, strengthening and augmentation of sub-transmission & distribution infrastructure in rural areas, including metering at distribution transformers/feeders/consumers.

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NSTFDC extends concessional financial assistance to individuals or group of STs for undertaking income generation/ business activities
Aug 08,2016

National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC), under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, extends concessional financial assistance to individuals or group of STs for undertaking income generation/ business activities for their economic empowerment. The financial assistance is extended through State Channelizing Agencies and certain PSU Banks/ RRBs and National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) having refinance agreements with NSTFDC for eligible STs upto Double the Poverty Line Income limit which is ₹98,000/- p.a. for rural areas and ₹1, 20,000/- p.a. for urban areas.

Some of the prominent schemes of NSTFDC are:

n++ Term Loan scheme: NSTFDC provides Term Loan for any income generation scheme costing upto₹25.00 lakhs per unit. Financial assistance is extended upto 90% of the cost of the scheme and the balance is met by way of subsidy/ promoters contribution/ margin money. Interest rate chargeable is 6% p.a. for loan upto₹ 5 lakhs, 8% p.a. for loans ranging between ₹ 5 lakhs to ₹ 10 lakhs and 10% p.a. for loan exceeding ₹10 lakhs on the entire amount of loan.

n++ Adivasi MahilaSashaktikaranYojana (AMSY): Under the scheme, Scheduled Tribes women can undertake any income generation activity. Loans upto 90% for scheme costing upto₹1 lakh are provided at a concessional rate of interest of 4% p.a.

n++ Micro Credit Scheme for Self Help Groups: The Corporation provides loans upto₹50,000/- per member and ₹ 5 Lakhs per Self Help Group (SHG). Interest rate chargeable is 6% p.a.

n++ Adivasi ShikshaRrinnYojana: Under this scheme, financial assistance upto₹5.00 lakh at concessional rate of interest of 6% per annum is provided to ST students for pursuing professional/ technical education including Ph.D. in India. Ministry of Human Resources Development, Govt. of India provides interest subsidy for this scheme, whereby, no interest is payable by a student during the course period and one year or six months after getting the job, as the case may be. There is also a provision for providing further concessional finance for undertaking any income generation activity after completion of studies.

n++ Tribal Forest Dwellers Empowerment Scheme: Under the scheme, NSTFDC provides financial assistance to Scheduled Tribes given land rights under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Loan upto 90% of the scheme costing upto₹1 lakh can be provided at rate of interest of 6% p.a. This is a new scheme introduced and NSTFDC has requested the SCAs to implement the same.

n++ Scheme for NGOs/ EVAs: This is a newly launched scheme under which NSTFDC provides loans upto₹50,000/- per member and ₹ 5 Lakhs per Self Help Group (SHG) through NGOs/ EVAs. The interest rate chargeable is 12% p.a. from members of SHGs against which they will get an interest incentive of 4% on timely payment thus making the effective rate of interest to 8%.

State-wise funds disbursed by NSTFDC during 2013-14 to 2016-17 (upto 30.06.2016) and number of beneficiaries is given below:-

S.No.State2013-142014-152015-162016-17 (upto 30.06.2016)DisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of Beneficiaries1ANDHRA PRADESHn++----3313.141010691.301552ARUNACHAL PRADESH8.8434653.0023501863.6036546--3ASSAM203.24108746.0017010.0057172.3229824CHHATTISGARH1558.97115720.538933.5334453.37675GUJARAT3372.87268502343.19118852137.84121921000.00100006HIMACHAL PRADESH201.052219154.94286611.32238.5017JAMMU & KASHMIR0.5410.69n++-271.00169--8JHARKHAND616.32301841.6735204.50606n++--9KARNATAKA2500.0032672500.001010n++----10KERALA76.248895.1810983.929617.101911MANIPUR-n++-200.00

NSTFDCextends concessional financial assistance to individuals or group of STs for undertaking income generation/ business activities
Aug 08,2016

National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC), under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, extends concessional financial assistance to individuals or group of STs for undertaking income generation/ business activities for their economic empowerment. The financial assistance is extended through State Channelizing Agencies and certain PSU Banks/ RRBs and National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) having refinance agreements with NSTFDC for eligible STs upto Double the Poverty Line Income limit which is ₹98,000/- p.a. for rural areas and ₹1, 20,000/- p.a. for urban areas.

Some of the prominent schemes of NSTFDC are:

n++ Term Loan scheme: NSTFDC provides Term Loan for any income generation scheme costing upto₹25.00 lakhs per unit. Financial assistance is extended upto 90% of the cost of the scheme and the balance is met by way of subsidy/ promoters contribution/ margin money. Interest rate chargeable is 6% p.a. for loan upto₹ 5 lakhs, 8% p.a. for loans ranging between ₹ 5 lakhs to ₹ 10 lakhs and 10% p.a. for loan exceeding ₹10 lakhs on the entire amount of loan.

n++ Adivasi MahilaSashaktikaranYojana (AMSY): Under the scheme, Scheduled Tribes women can undertake any income generation activity. Loans upto 90% for scheme costing upto₹1 lakh are provided at a concessional rate of interest of 4% p.a.

n++ Micro Credit Scheme for Self Help Groups: The Corporation provides loans upto₹50,000/- per member and ₹ 5 Lakhs per Self Help Group (SHG). Interest rate chargeable is 6% p.a.

n++ Adivasi ShikshaRrinnYojana: Under this scheme, financial assistance upto₹5.00 lakh at concessional rate of interest of 6% per annum is provided to ST students for pursuing professional/ technical education including Ph.D. in India. Ministry of Human Resources Development, Govt. of India provides interest subsidy for this scheme, whereby, no interest is payable by a student during the course period and one year or six months after getting the job, as the case may be. There is also a provision for providing further concessional finance for undertaking any income generation activity after completion of studies.

n++ Tribal Forest Dwellers Empowerment Scheme: Under the scheme, NSTFDC provides financial assistance to Scheduled Tribes given land rights under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Loan upto 90% of the scheme costing upto₹1 lakh can be provided at rate of interest of 6% p.a. This is a new scheme introduced and NSTFDC has requested the SCAs to implement the same.

n++ Scheme for NGOs/ EVAs: This is a newly launched scheme under which NSTFDC provides loans upto₹50,000/- per member and ₹ 5 Lakhs per Self Help Group (SHG) through NGOs/ EVAs. The interest rate chargeable is 12% p.a. from members of SHGs against which they will get an interest incentive of 4% on timely payment thus making the effective rate of interest to 8%.

State-wise funds disbursed by NSTFDC during 2013-14 to 2016-17 (upto 30.06.2016) and number of beneficiaries is given below:-

S.No.State2013-142014-152015-162016-17 (upto 30.06.2016)DisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of BeneficiariesDisbursementNo. of Beneficiaries1ANDHRA PRADESH ----3313.141010691.301552ARUNACHAL PRADESH8.8434653.0023501863.6036546--3ASSAM203.24108746.0017010.0057172.3229824CHHATTISGARH1558.97115720.538933.5334453.37675GUJARAT3372.87268502343.19118852137.84121921000.00100006HIMACHAL PRADESH201.052219154.94286611.32238.5017JAMMU & KASHMIR0.5410.69 -271.00169--8JHARKHAND616.32301841.6735204.50606 --9KARNATAKA2500.0032672500.001010 ----10KERALA76.248895.1810983.929617.101911MANIPUR- -

FICCI and EYEON Group join hands to provide industry assessment on Indias energy sector
Aug 08,2016

FICCI and EYEON are undertaking a joint exercise in the assessment and promotion of Indias energy sector under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The MoU provides the framework for FICCI and EYEONs cooperation on the production of valuable and innovative content covering Indias energy sector, and on the organization of key events providing relevant business information to local and international investors.

FICCI and EYEON will be conducting a new market survey from August through September to gather the industrys feedback on the attractiveness of the countrys energy sector, especially as it relates to investors sentiments on new sector regulations and initiatives. The results will be released by the end of the September, and will be used to inspire sector reforms.

n++Indias energy sector is seeing profound transformations since the past two years and key challenges remain to be overcome to ensure the development of a robust industry, including restructuring the distribution sector, developing domestic content, ensuring grid integration, securing financing for Indias expanding renewable energy sector, and revitalising the countrys wind and hydro sectors. It is now time to take a closer look at these challenges and opportunities and assess the industry sentiment on the same. In that regard, EYEON is honoured to have FICCI as an industry partner to jointly look at the evolutions of the industry,n++ Mickael Vogel, Regional Director at EYE ON, said.

FICCI is excited to partner with EYEON on this journey to track the opportunities and challenges in Indias energy sector taking Industrys feedback through targeted surveys and roundtables. Energy is the key to Indias growth ambitions and as the energy markets are moving forward, the sectors learning curve is incredible.

EYEONs Managing Director, Asli Konyali, called the MoU an exciting development that will allow EYE ON to support the local industry in its efforts of conveying the investment potential and strength of Indias energys industry worldwide.

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Fitch: India GST Bill a Positive Reform Signal
Aug 08,2016

Indias passage of a long-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill is an important reform which will remove barriers to trade, improve economic efficiency and lead to higher growth in the long run, says Fitch Ratings. In addition, parliamentary approval sends a further positive signal of the governments ability to enact major reforms following the passage of a national bankruptcy law in May.

The GST bill is a constitutional amendment which will allow for a single national indirect tax to replace a myriad of state and national taxes. This will result in a substantial simplification of the indirect tax system, leading to potentially significant productivity gains and boosting long-term growth.

It remains to be seen, though, whether the introduction of a national GST will lead to a higher intake of tax revenue. This will depend on a number of factors, such as the level at which the tax rate will be set. The rate still needs to be decided by the GST Council, which includes representatives from the Ministry of Finance and each state government.

The introduction of national GST, though positive from a longer-term economic perspective, should not have a substantive effect on the fiscal account in the short term. Indias fiscal balances are a weak point of the sovereigns credit profile, with both general government debt and the deficit well above its BBB peer medians. Fitch expects the debt to reach 69.4% of GDP and the deficit to fall to 6.8% in FY17.

Passage of the bill is an important indicator of Indias ability to push through transformative structural reforms. This is especially the case, as it required a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament and cross-party consensus for passage as a constitutional amendment. The bill will now go back to the lower house for final approval, and will then require ratification by more than 50% of state legislatures.

More broadly, the GST bill is part of an ambitious policy drive which includes a series of reforms. In addition to the GST and aforementioned bankruptcy law, the agenda includes liberalisation of the FDI regime, financial and agriculture sector reforms, and changes to cut red tape and improve the efficiency of administration.

Fitch affirmed Indias BBB- rating with a stable outlook last month.

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Fitch: Masala Bonds to Facilitate Indian Funding Diversification
Aug 08,2016

The recent issuance of the first offshore masala bonds by Indian companies could pave the way for a broader opening and development of the market, says Fitch Ratings. This will be positive for the better-quality issuers that are able to take advantage of offshore capital markets to diversify their funding sources without assuming currency risk.

The inaugural offshore masala bonds issued by HDFC on 14 July and NTPC on 4 August mark the first time Indian firms issued rupee-denominated debt overseas. HDFC raised INR30bn (USD449m) through its three-year bonds, while NTPC raised INR20bn by selling five-year green bonds, which Fitch rated BBB-(emr), to support renewable power projects. Both issues were over-subscribed, attracting 40 and 60 international investors for HDFC and NTPC, respectively.

The masala bond market is in its infancy, but the two recent issues should mitigate initial market concerns about liquidity. That Indias first corporate masala bonds were issued by better-quality firms probably helped support investor demand and with their relatively attractive pricing. The bond pricing was surprisingly competitive relative to onshore funding considering uncertainty over liquidity and currency risks. We believe this could encourage other Indian issuers to go to the market.

Indias forecast high growth relative to other emerging markets over the next several years should help to bolster global-investor interest in the masala bond market. The next test will be for issuers further down the credit curve to try tapping into this market. We believe it is likely only the large, well-known and better-quality issuers will tap that market in the near-term.

Foreign investors take currency risk when buying masala bonds; the limited offshore liquidity in rupee, cost and availability of hedging, and investors view of exchange rate movements will affect pricing. As such, the markets development will remain especially subject to international liquidity, foreign investor sentiment, and global and domestic macroeconomic conditions.

Fitch maintains that non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) could particularly benefit from offshore rupee financing. NBFIs currently rely heavily on domestic banks for funding and are likely to be incentivized to issue bonds, even for slightly higher costs, to diversify funding sources. Electricity utilities in India with assets operating under a regulated return-on-invested capital model, such as NTPC and transmission utilities, are also likely candidates.

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327 Villages Electrified Last Week; 9,653 Villages Electrified till date under DDUGJY
Aug 08,2016

327 villages have been electrified across the country during last week (from 1st to 7th August 2016) under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna (DDUGJY). Out of these electrified villages, 7 villages belong to Arunachal Pradesh, 12 to Assam, 10 to Bihar, 4 to Chattisgarh, 68 to Jharkhand, , 4 to Madhya Pradesh, 11 to Manipur, 136 to Meghalaya, 8 to Nagaland, 24 to Odisha, 6 to Rajasthan, 2 to Tripura, 31 to Uttar Pradesh and 1 each to Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka and Mizoram.

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