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Andhra Pradesh

Higher coal production saves Rs 22,000 crore in foreign exchange: Govt.

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Higher production of coal during the current financial year has resulted in about 16 percent decrease in import of coal, leading to savings of about Rs 22,000 crore in foreign exchange, according to Minister of State for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal.
 
Addressing the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Coal here yesterday, Mr Goyal said coal production at mines operated by Coal India Limited (CIL) went up by nine percent and that of  Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) by 23 percent.
 
An official press release said the committee reviewed the status of implementation of coal washeries and measures being taken for improvement of quality of coal by CIL and its subsidiaries.
 
Mr D N Prasad, Adviser (Projects), gave a detailed presentation highlighting long-term plan of washing and crushing of coal by setting up new coal washeries.
 
Members were informed that CIL had 15 washeries with capacity of 38 million tonns per year. As part of future plan, CIL proposed to build 15 new washeries for augmenting the demand of washed coal for energy needs and compliance of environmental regulations.
 
These washeries will be built in two phases on Build-Own-Maintain and EPC contract on turnkey basis and would be operational by September 2017, he said.
 
Regarding new initiatives taken for quality improvement of coal , the members were informed that from January 1 this year, it has been made mandatory to supply 100 percent crushed coal of (-) 100 mm size to power sector consumers having FSA, excluding pit -head power plants of NCL and ECL.
 
During 2015-16 a total of 63.8 MT crushing capacity has been added with installation of mobile crushers and feeder breakers.
 
Giving details of further improvement of third party sampling introduced on November 26, 2015, it was stated that an independent Third Party Agency was to be empanelled by Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research at the loading end on behalf of both the power plant and coal companies.
 
The new system started from January 1 in Northern Coalfields Limited.
 
During discussions, members gave several suggestions for mitigating water scarcity problem in the villages surrounding mining areas, using fly ash as a soil nutrient, setting up of washeries and crushers at same location, utilisation of washeries wastage and reducing coal thefts.
 
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In his response, Mr Goyal said directions had already been given to all companies to process the extracted water from the coal mines for supplying to nearby villages. 
 
Regarding utilisation of washeries wastage, he said efforts will be made to set up small power plants to supply power in nearby localities in consultation with State Governments.
 
In order to resolve issues concerning coal mining areas faster, he directed CMDs of coal companies to interact with Members of Parliament from coal-bearing States on the last Saturday, every three months.
 
The meeting, chaired by Mr Goyal, was attended by Lok Sabha Members Dalpat Singh Paraste, Hari Manjhi, Kaushlendra Kumar,  Midhun Reddy, Santosh Kumar , Laxmi Narayan Yadav, Ramchandra Paswan, Ravindra Kumar Pandey and Vijay Kumar Handsdak. Members of the Rajya Sabha present were Dr. Bhushan Lal Jangde and Dhiraj Prasad Sahu and Ms Renuka Chowdhary.
 
Mr Anil Swarup, Coal Secretary, CMDs and Directors of CIL and NLC Ltd and senior officers of the Ministry of Coal also attended the meeting.
 
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International Fleet Review 2016 concludes with Passage Exercise

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The International Fleet Review 2016 has culminated with Indian and foreign naval ships undertaking a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) in the Bay of Bengal.
 
All the 54 ships that had participated in IFR-16 sailed out from Visakhapatnam in the first ever Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with combined participation of foreign and Indian warships yesterday.
 
The IFR 2016 was conducted from February 4-8.
 
As per the maritime traditions, visiting foreign ships are generally escorted to the open seas on their way home (on completion of the visit).
 
The PASSEX was aimed at fostering greater cooperation and camaraderie with friendly foreign navies, increasing interoperability, providing the requisite operational element to IFR as also to mark the culmination of IFR 16, an event that saw the largest scale participation of foreign ships ever in a Fleet Review in India.
 
As many as 34 Indian Naval ships and 20 foreign warships from across 14 countries participated in the exercise. The US Navy, Peoples Liberation Army (Navy) and the Royal Navy of Oman deployed two ships each for the exercise.
 
The Passage Exercise was conducted in two groups, centred on Indian Naval aircraft carriers INS.Vikramaditya and INS Viraat. The ships sailed out in two groups of 27 each.
 
The first group under the command of Rear Admiral Ravneet Singh, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, embarked onboard aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and the second group under the command of Rear Admiral SV Bhokare, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet embarked onboard the aircraft carrier INS Viraat.
 
The exercises included manoeuvres and flying operations. A ceremonial steam-past, with Indian and foreign warships sailing past each other in formation, provided an opportunity for participants to bid adieu to fellow seafarers and marked the finale of the exercise.
 
Notably, the flying operations also included landing of a helicopter from Royal Navy ship HMS Defender onboard INS Viraat to commemorate the historic association of the aircraft carrier with the Royal Navy.
 
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Maritime stability must be shared responsibility of all seafaring nations: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that, given the scale and complexity of modern day challenges, international maritime stability could not be the preserve of a single nation but the shared goal and responsibility of all seafaring countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessing the fly-past at the International Fleet Review-2016, at Visakhapatnam on February 7, 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessing the fly-past at the International Fleet Review-2016, at Visakhapatnam on February 7, 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that, given the scale and complexity of modern day challenges, international maritime stability could not be the preserve of a single nation but the shared goal and responsibility of all seafaring countries. 
 
"To this end, the Navies and maritime agencies of the world need to work together, and engineer virtuous cycles of cooperation," he said in his address at the International Fleet Review (IFR) - 2016, the largest international event hosted by the Indian Navy on the eastern seaboard here.
 
Mr. Modi said oceans were lifelines of global prosperity, presenting the world with great economic opportunities to build nations. 
 
"Over 90% of global merchandise trade is carried on the oceans. 
Over the last 15 years, its value has grown from about 6 trillion dollars to about 20 trillion dollars. Oceans are critical for the global energy security as over 60% of world’s oil production moves through sea routes," he said.
 
He said the world's ability to reap economic benefits from the oceans rested on the capacity to respond to the challenges in the maritime domain. 
 
"The threat of sea borne terror, of which India has been a direct victim, continues to endanger the regional and global peace and stability. Piracy too remains a strong challenge. The threat of natural disasters like tsunamis and cyclones is ever present. Manmade problems such as oil spills, climate change continue to risk the stability of the maritime domain. 
 
"A peaceful and stable maritime environment is, therefore, critical for the regional and global security. It is also a must to harvest the riches of the oceanic ecosystems," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said navies must, where necessary, act to secure the international sea lanes of communication. 
 
"I believe that if oceans were to propel our economies, then we must use seas to build peace, friendship and trust, and curb conflict; respect and ensure freedom of navigation; and cooperate, not compete in responding to the challenges in the seas," he said.
 
He said the large presence of foreign navies at this fleet review was a confirmation of their shared urge to walk the pathways of peace and cooperation to keep the maritime domain safe and secure. 
 
"India is, and has always been, a maritime nation...Surrounded by sea from three sides, India has a long coastline of over 7500 kilometres," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said India’s central location in the Indian Ocean had connected it with other cultures, shaped its maritime trade routes, influenced India’s strategic thought, and defined its maritime character. 
 
"Since the days of the Indus Valley Civilization, India has maintained an extensive network of maritime links, including with Africa, Western Asia, the Mediterranean region, the West, South East Asia and the Far East. We are delighted that the Navies from all these regions have joined in this Fleet Review," he said.
 
"In modern times too, the oceans, especially the Indian Ocean, occupy a vital place in India’s national security and economic prosperity.The waters of the Indian Ocean touch the shores of over 40 countries. 
 
"About half of world's container traffic; and close to one-third of world's cargo traffic passes through this region. Ninety percent of our trade by volume and 90% of our oil imports are carried on the seas. 
 
"India’s 1200 island territories, and our huge Exclusive Economic Zone of 2.4 million square kilometers makes clear the economic significance of the Indian Ocean. For us, it also serves as a strategic bridge with the nations in our immediate and extended maritime neighbourhood," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said the Indian Ocean Region was one of his foremost policy priorities. He said India would continue to actively pursue and promote its geo-political, strategic and economic interests on the seas, in particular the Indian Ocean. 
 
"To this end, India's modern and multi-dimensional Navy leads from the front. It is a force for peace and good. A network of growing political and economic maritime partnerships, and strengthening of regional framework salso helps us pursue our goals," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said India's quest for economic prosperity through oceans is a part of our larger efforts to transform India. 
 
"We are not just a bright spot in the global economy. Regionally and internationally, we are a pillar of stability and an important growth centre. India's rise is in harmony with the goal of maintaining the regional and global peace and security," he said.
 
He said that, within the country, there was great optimism, enthusiasm and a "can do" mindset.
 
"This optimism comes from the energy and enterprise of our confident youth. It also comes from our bold and sustained measures to transform our country, improve our laws, processes and institutions. We are launching new initiatives and creating opportunities to empower people, and give them a sense of ownership in nation's progress. 
 
"'Make in India', which has re-ignited our manufacturing sector is one such initiative. Defence manufacturing and ship building are among its focus areas. 
 
"In a week from now, on 13 February, we would hold seven days of global engagement under 'Make in India' in Mumbai. During this time, the best in the global industry would link up with the innovation, design and manufacturing opportunities of India- the world's fastest growing economy. We want to invite the world to Make in India, Make for India, and Make for the World," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said India was proud of the fact that, of the Indian naval ships participating in the fleet review, at least 37 are Mde in India.
 
"Our Skill India program is building institutions that train, support, encourage and guide our 800 million youth on the path of entrepreneurship. Our skilled youth are ready to respond to the national and global manpower demands of the 21st century," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said an important part of India’s transformation was his vision of “Blue Economy” in its widest sense. 
 
"An essential part of this pursuit is the development of India's coastal and island territories: but, not just for tourism. We want to build new pillars of economic activity in the coastal areas and in linked hinterlands through sustainable tapping of oceanic resources. Strengthening our marine research, development of eco-friendly, marine industrial and technology base, and fisheries are other elements of our goal. 
 
"In this endeavour, I see youth in the coastal areas as our true assets. They have a natural and deep understanding of the Oceans. They could lead the way in the development of blue economy in India. In partnership with all the coastal states of India, I want to shape a special program of skilling India's youth in the coastal areas of the country," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said that, to build on the gains from today's gathering, India would host the first ever Global Maritime Summit in April this year. 
 
"Its priority would be to scale up and strengthen the vibrant trade,  investment, technology and commercial linkages between India and other maritime nations," he added.
 
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Mukherjee says navies of the world must counter non-traditional maritime challenges

President Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday that navies across the world must re-focus their efforts to counter the rising tide of non-traditional maritime challenges in the brown, green and blue waters across all oceans.

 
Indian Navy displays might at International Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam
 
President Pranab Mukherjee today said that, considering the globalised nature of today's political and economic environment, India believed that the present-day maritime domain required navies across the world to re-focus their efforts to counter the rising tide of non-traditional maritime challenges in the brown, green and blue waters across all oceans. 
 
"India’s geographical location, astride the major shipping routes of the Indian Ocean, gives it a pivotal maritime role," he said in his address at the International Fleet Review (IFR)-2016, the largest international event hosted by the Indian Navy, on the Eastern Seaboard at Visakhapatnam.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said the Indian Navy had re-aligned its maritime strategy, to reflect the changes in the evolving global environment, and had established a credible record of cooperative initiatives to promote stability of the oceans, and played a central role in ensuring safety of the vital sea lines of communication, across the Indian Ocean. 
 
"It is indeed a privilege for me to have the splendid sight of majestic warships anchored in these waters of Bay of Bengal. The fluttering pennants and flags on the dressing lines, happy and proud men in white manning their ships is indeed heartwarming. I am privileged to be here today with all of you and review this imposing international parade of ships," he said.
 
He noted that 50 friendly navies had sailed across oceans and sent naval ships and/or delegations to participate in the first International Fleet Review on the east coast of India.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and several other dignitaries from India and abroad were present on the occasion.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said navies world over had conducted Fleet Reviews to symbolise their loyalty, allegiance to the nation, and strengthen bonds between the sailors and the state. 
 
"The International Fleet Review 2016 does that and much more. IFR 2016, while showcasing the prowess of the Indian Navy, has brought together navies from across the globe here on Indian shores, signifying our common desire to use the seas to promote peace, cooperation and friendship, as also to develop partnerships for a secure maritime future. 
 
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"Your presence in such large numbers has made this international event spectacular and truly reflects the spirit of this IFR, we are indeed ‘United through Oceans’. The waters that lap our coast also wash your shores, these great blue ‘commons' indeed link us to each other. IFR 2016 has enabled us to join hands and work together to secure our seas for the greater good of humanity and the world," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said the navies of the world had a unique role in promoting goodwill, nurturing peace and tranquility of the oceans. 
 
"Your ships and all personnel participating at this momentous fleet review are ambassadors of great nations that you represent. The message of friendship and goodwill of your people strengthens our belief in promoting peace, prosperity and stability for mutual co-existence and ensuring secure seas. I understand that your interactions during the past few days of your stay here have been exciting and you all are keenly looking forward to take part in passage exercises and will ‘sail together’ on completion of IFR," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee paid special compliments to the Indian Navy, especially the Eastern Naval Command, for the meticulous planning and flawless conduct of the Fleet Review. 
 
"An event of such magnitude could be organised only by the involvement and support of the people. May I thank and congratulate the Government of Andhra Pradesh and all citizens of Visakhapatnam for their cooperation. 
 
"I thank all naval ships and delegations assembled here for the Fleet Review to mark this historic occasion. I am confident that our guests from far and wide, will carry with them pleasant memories of the warmth and traditional hospitality shown by the people of India. I would urge that as you sail back to your homelands, carry with you our message of global peace and brotherhood, so that we can strengthen our bonds of friendship and secure a better maritime environment for future generations," he added.
 
As the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the President reviews the Indian Naval Fleet once in his or her term as part of the ‘President’s Fleet Review’. This review aims at assuring the country of the Indian Navy’s preparedness, high morale and discipline. 
 
The International Fleet Review allows the host nation an occasion to display its maritime capabilities and the "bridges of friendship" it has built with other maritime nations. The last IFR was conducted in January 2001, off Mumbai with participation from 29 countries. 
 
This year's IFR has been organized on a much larger scale, with the participation of about 50 countries.
 
The Fleet Review is one of the important ways used by navies to enhance cooperation and promote friendship amongst the seafaring community.
 
The leading nations of the world use the opportunity provided by the Fleet Review to enhance mutual trust and confidence with their maritime neighbours by inviting their ships to participate in the Review. The event also provides the host nation an occasion to display its own naval prowess and maritime capabilities whilst simultaneously generating goodwill amongst other maritime nations. 
 
The visiting navies will also have the opportunity to display their professional skills as they sail together for exercises to increase mutual cooperation and interoperability, with the underlying theme of keeping the global commons safe and secure in the 21st century.
 
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Centre approves heritage development projects in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana

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The Union Ministry of Urban Development yesterday approved projects worth more than Rs. 12 crore for improving tourist infrastructure in heritage locations in Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh and Warangal in Telangana.
 
An official press release said an Inter-Ministerial National Empowered Committee for the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) approved the projects, which include a heritage park in Amaravati and developmental works at the 1000 Pillar Temple and Kazipet Durgah and rejuvenation of pondat Padmakshi Temple in Warangal city.
 
In Amaravati, the heritage park will be developed over an area of 3.50 acres opposite Dhyan Buddha Statue at a total cost of Rs.7.36 crore. The park will have an exhibition complex with four halls to be developed at a cost of Rs. 92 lakh, 22 statues at a cost of Rs. 2 crore, more than 20 shops at a cost of over Rs.1 crore, four food courts at a cost of Rs. 95 lakhs, parking area at a cost of Rs.60 lakh, pathways at a cost of Rs. 44 lakh and landscaping at a cost of Rs. 76 lakh. Other facilities to be provided include seating benches, pergolas, and so on, an official press release said.
 
The exhibition halls and shops will be used to promote to local art and handicrafts and other products. 
 
For Warangal, an expenditure of Rs. 4.85 crore has been approved for undertaking development works at 1000 Pillar Temple at a cost of Rs. 94 lakh, at Kazipet Durgah at a cost of Rs. 1.78 crore and rejuvenation of pond at Padmakshi Temple with an investment of Rs. 2.13 crore, the release said.
 
At the 1000 Pillar Temple, illumination works will be taken up at a cost of Rs. 28 lakh, development of parking area at a cost of Rs. 27 lakh, e-toilets at a cost of Rs. 16 lakhs, and landscaping at a cost of Rs. 9 lakh. Other facilities to be provided are seating spaces, information signages, solar lightings, dustbins, and so on.
 
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Keeping in view the tradition of cooking food at the Kazipet dargah, a dormitory will be developed at a cost of Rs. 60 lakh and a kitchen at a cost of Rs. 2 lakhs. Other facilities to be provided are toilets – Rs. 26 lakh, parking – Rs. 13 lakh, pavements – Rs.18 lakhs and illumination – Rs.13 lakh.
 
For rejuvenation of pond at Padmakshi Temple, civil works including approach road will be taken up at a cost of Rs. 1 crore,  toilets -- Rs.26 lakhs, illumination -- Rs. 22 lakh, landscaping --Rs. 20 lakhs, paving -- Rs.11 lakh and parking facilities at a cost of Rs. 11 lakhs. Facilities like seating spaces, information signages and dustbins will also be provided. 
 
Amaravati and Warangal are among the 12 cities included in the HRIDAY scheme for improving the social, cultural and economic ecosystems by augmenting necessary infrastructure with the objective of conserving the rich cultural heritage and enabling better facilities for tourists and pilgrims. More projects will be approved for Amaravati and Warangal in the near future. 
 
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Modi to visit Assam, Odisha; attend International Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a three-day visit to Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha from tomorrow.
 
In Assam, he will inaugurate the Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Ltd at Lepetkata, which is the first ever petro-chemical project in the entire North-East, tomorrow.
 
As part of the same event, the Prime Minister will also dedicate to the nation India's highest wax producing unit using indigenous technology in Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. 
 
He will address tea workers at Moran, near Dibrugarh. He will also address the 85th Annual Conference of Srimanta Sankaradeva Sangha at Sibsagar. 
 
In Guwahati, he will inaugurate the 12th South Asian Games, in which Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are participating, apart from India.
 
On February 6, Mr. Modi will attend the International Fleet Review at Visakhapatnam. He will also visit a maritime exhibition. 
 
The Prime Minister will reach Bhubaneswar on February 7, and will dedicate to the nation the National Institute of Science Education and Research. He will also visit the Shri Jagannath Temple in Puri. 
 
Mr. Modi will dedicate to the nation the state-of-the-art Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) Refinery at Paradip. 
 
The refinery will have a total capacity of 15 MMTPA. The Indane Maximization unit at the refinery has been set up using indigenous technology to produce a higher quantity of LPG. The refinery is expected to unleash a new wave of industrialization in the hydrocarbon sector, and accelerate economic development in Eastern India. 
 
The Prime Minister will reach Visakhapatnam on the afternoon of February 7 and witness the operational demonstration and the International City Parade at the International Fleet Review. The Prime Minister will also deliver an address, an official press release added.
 
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Justice R. Subhash Reddy named Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court

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Mr. Justice Ramayyagari Subhash Reddy, Judge of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh, has been appointed as the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court.
 
An official press release said here today that the appointment would be with effect from the date he assumed charge of his office. 
 
Born in 1957 in Medak district, Mr. Justice Reddy graduated from the Andhra Vidyalaya College (AV College), Hyderabad and obtained a degree in law from the University College of Law, Osmania University, Hyderabad. 
 
He enrolled as an advocate on the rolls of the Bar Council of Andhra Pradesh on October 30, 1980.
 
He actively practised in civil, criminal, Constitutional and almost a other branchesof law. He was Standing Counsel for institutions like S.V.University and Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University. 
 
He was elevated as Additional Judge of High Court of Andhra Pradesh on December 2, 2002 and sworn in as Judge in that court on June 24, 2004.
 
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Krishnapatnam Port to set up LNG Regasification Terminal in Andhra Pradesh

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Krishnapatnam, India’s largest; all weather, deep water port on the east coast of the country in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh, said yesterday that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Petrogas Pvt. Ltd. and the Government of Andhra Pradesh for setting up a liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification terminal.
 
Petrogas will commit a direct investment of Rs. 3,000 crore at Krishnapatnam in the fields of LNG regasification terminal and allied industries, a press release from the company said.
 
The MoU, which is between Krishnapatnam Port (represented by C. Sasidhar – Managing Director), the Andhra Pradesh government (represented by V Ravi Kumar – Director of Ports) and Petrogas which is a JV of Isomeric Holdings Sdn Berhad and Vijayawada-based LEPL Ventures Private Limited (represented by SDV Krishna Kumar), was signed in the presence of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
 
The release said the LNG terminal will use a state-of-the-art Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) with a minimum capacity of 5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) which shall be doubled to 10 million MT in another three years.
 
The commercial operations for the project will commence within three years and it is expected to create more than 500 job opportunities, it said.
 
“The project is ambitious and we are proud to contribute to this opportunity along with our esteemed partners. The infrastructure story of Andhra Pradesh is set on a promising horizon and projects of such scale will only provide significant boost to the country’s trade potential apart from creating immense job opportunities," Mr. Sasidhar said.
 
“We are extremely grateful to the Government of Andhra Pradesh  for the tremendous support and co-operation towards relevant clearances, permits and licenses, and support from allied industries,” he  added.
 
Krishnapatnam Port, promoted by the Hyderabad-based C.V.R. Group, is a privately built and owned all weather, deep water port.
 
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AAI's land at Vizag to be exchanged with land offered by Visakhapatnam Port Trust

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The Union Cabinet today approved the exchange of Airports Authority of India's (AAI) land measuring 11.45 acres at Visakhapatnam Airport with an equivalent area of land offered by Visakhapatnam Port Trust for setting up of Multi Modal Logistics Park (MMLP) by the public sector Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) at Visakhapatnam. 
 
An official press release said the exchange of land will be beneficial to both AAI and VPT. 
 
The land offered for exchange by VPT is in continuation to existing AAI land and will be useful for AAI, in view of future developmental plans for Visakhapatnam Airport. The setting up of Multi Modal Logistics Park and other customer related facilities by CONCOR will also help in substantial development of Andhra Pradesh by enhancing the cargo handling capacity and development of an integrated rail-road logistics hub, thereby facilitating a boost in the economy and trade of the State, it said.
 
CONCOR is setting up the MMLP on 98 acres of land, taken on lease from VPT.
 
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NHAI okays substitution of concessionare in Vijayawada-Gundugolanu highway project

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The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has approved the harmonious substitution of Gammon Infrastructure Private Limited by Brookfield India Holding Pvt. Ltd. for the Vijayawada-Gundugolanu highway project in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which was stalled. 
 
An official press release said the substitution was possible due to the recent policy initiative of the Government wherein the concessionaires who are facing difficulties in implementing public private partnership (PPP) projects can be substituted in harmonious manner by a new investor. 
 
The project was approved at a total cost of Rs 1684 crore. Later, NHAI observed that the concessionaire was facing financial stress and was unable to meet its obligations under the Concession Agreement. 
 
"This initiative of NHAI and the Government will help in salvaging this prestigious project by bringing in fresh investment from M/s. Brookfield India Holding Pvt. Ltd. (a subsidiary of M/s Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP, an international infrastructure fund), who will bring in $ 100 million as equity investment," the release added.
 
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Additional Judges appointed to Telangana & AP, Kerala and Jharkhand High Courts

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The President has appointed Mr. Asapu Ramalingeswara Rao to be an Additional Judge of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, for a period of three months with effect from December 21.
 
Nine others -- Mr. Bulusu Siva Sankara Rao, Mr. Mandhata Seetharama Murti, Mr. Saripella Ravi Kumar, Mr. Upmaka Durga Prasad Rao, Mr. Talluri Sunil Chowdary, Mr. Mallavolu Satyanarayana Murthy, Mr. Misrilal Sunil Kishore Jaiswal,  Mr. Ambati Shankar Narayana, and Ms. Anis -- have been appointed as Additional Judges of the same High Court for a period of three months with effect from January 23, 2016.
 
An official press release said that Mr. Dama Seshadri Naidu had been appointed as an Additional Judge of the Kerala High Court, for a period of three months with effect from December 21.
 
Mr. Amitav Kumar Gupta has been appointed as an Additional Judhe in Jharkhand High Court for a period of three onths with effect from December 18, the release added.
 
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Rajnath to chair 26th Meeting of Southern Zonal Council in Vijayawada on Saturday

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will chair the 26th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council to be held in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh tomorrow. 
 
The Southern Zonal Council comprises the States of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Puducherry. 
 
The Chief Ministers of all these states and senior officers from both Central and State Governments are expected to participate in this meeting, an official press release said.
 
The 8th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Southern Zonal Council was held at Hyderabad on November 19 to scrutinize the agenda for deliberation and resolution for this meeting. 
 
Issues of Inter-State and Centre-State cooperation and coordination have been flagged for this meeting, such as coastal security, peninsular region industrial corridor, introduction of peninsular tourism trains, finalization of inter-state reciprocal transport agreement, curbing the use of unacceptable levels of pesticides in fruits and vegetables, maintaining uniform standards of nursing courses, and so on.
 
Some other substantial issues of Centre State and Inter-State matters are also likely to be raised by Member States in the Council, the release said.
 
The Zonal Councils, created under the State Reorganization Act, 1956, are advisory bodies that discuss and advise the Central and State Governments on matters of common interest pertaining to a gamut of subjects such as infrastructures, health, security, social welfare, linguistic minorities and border disputes, and on the action to be taken on them.
 
There are five Councils, one for each Zone viz., Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern, and Central. The secretarial functions of the Zonal Councils have been transferred to the Inter State Council Secretariat with effect from 1 April, 2011. The North-East Council set up under a separate Act of 1971 is under the administrative ambit of the Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER). 
 
The meeting of each Zonal Council needs to be held once in a year to iron out the differences between the governments on issues of development concerning regional interest and national programmes. However, meetings of most of the zonal councils were quite infrequent during the past. 
 
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"Given the great potential of these institutions in resolving regional and interstate issues through their consultative mechanism, the present Government immediately after coming to power decided to revive and further strengthen these fora. Inter State Council Secretariat, which looks after the work of Zonal Council since 2011, was instructed to take on the preparatory work to complete meetings of all Zonal Councils, pending for years, by the end of 2015," the release said.
 
"It was a challenging task as it mandatorily required holding of all the meetings of Standing Committees of these Zonal Councils prior to the Councils’ meetings. It called for immense coordination and networking to have all the states to meet on the table under the Chairmanship of Union Home Minister for each of these Zonal Councils. 
 
"State elections, natural calamities, law and order problems and such other pressing situations, more often than not, stymied the execution of this task but the government machinery rose to the occasion and pulled it off. With completion of this meeting of Southern Zonal Council which is last in the series of the Councils’ meetings this year, all the meetings of the Zonal Councils will be completed as committed by the Government," it added.
 
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Heavy rains likely over south coastal AP, Rayalaseema, TN, Puducherry, Kerala over next four days

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The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today said a low pressure area was expected to form over southeast Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood by tomorrow and heavy rains were likely at isolated places over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala today. 
 
An official press release said heavy rains would occur tomorrow at isolated places over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
 
Heavy to very heavy rains are expected on Sunday at a few places over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and heavy rains at isolated places over coastal Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. 
 
The IMD said that heavy to very heavy rains would occur at a few places over Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Monday, with extremely heavy falls at isolated places.
 
Heavy to very heavy rain at isolated places are also expected over coastal Andhra Pradesh and heavy rains over Rayalaseema, south interior Karnataka and Kerala, it said.
 
On November 17, too, heavy to very heavy rain could occur at a few places over Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and coastal Andhra Pradesh, with extremely heavy falls at isolated places, it said.
 
Heavy to very heavy rains are expected at isolated places over Rayalaseema and heavy rains over south interior Karnataka and Kerala, the release added.
 
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Tobacco Board Chairman K. Gopal relieved of his post, put on compulsory wait

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The Government has placed Tobacco Board Chairman K. Gopal, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the 1992 batch (Tamil Nadu cadre) on compulsory wait in the Department of Personnel and Training with immediate effect and until further orders.
 
An official press release said Dr. Gopal had been releived of his duties with effect from this afternoon with the directions to report to the Department of Personnel and Training. 
 
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SunEdison wins 500 MW solar power project in AP with record low bid of Rs. 4.63/Kwhr

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SunEdison, the largest global renewable energy development company with headquarters in the United States, yesterday won all 500 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity put up for auction by the Government in Andhra Pradesh with a record low tariff of Rs. 4.63/Kwhr.
 
In an e-reverse auction conducted by the public sector NTPC for 10 projects of 50 MW each, a total of 30 bids were received, adding up to a capacity of 5500 MW.
 
The ten projects are to be set up at Ghani Solar Park in Andhra Pradesh under National Solar Mission, Phase-II, Batch-II, Tranche-I of the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.
 
According to an official press release, the lowest quoted tariff in the price bid was Rs 5.21/Kwhr and weighted average quoted tariff in price bid was Rs 5.334/Kwhr.
 
E-reverse auction was conducted from 14:30 hrs of November 3 to 00:50 hrs of yesterday.
 
"Weighted average quoted tariff at closing of e-reverse auction was Rs 4.63/Kwhr, with reduction of Rs 0.704/ Kwhr in the reverse auction. Sun Edison is the successful bidder," the release added.
 
SoftBank Group of Japan and Trina Solar Ltd and other Chinese companies also participated in the auction.
 
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Govt. clears first batch of AMRUT projects worth Rs 2786 crore for 89 cities

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The Ministry of Urban Development has approved the first batch of state-level Action Plans worth Rs 2786.28 crore for 89 cities under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) aimed at enabling water supply as per the norm and providing water supply and sewerage connections to all urban households.
 
An inter-ministerial Apex Committee of AMRUT chaired by Mr. Madhusudhan Prasad, Secretary (Urban Development) cleared the plans for the 89 cities in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan yesterday. 
 
This is for the first time that the Urban Development Ministry has approved state-level plans unlike the past practice of appraising and approving individual projects. 
 
The approved Action Plans have a total of 143 projects in 89 AMRUT cities in these three states. These include 47 schemes relating to ensuring water supply connections and augmenting water supply and 31 projects for expanding sewerage network services in identified cities and towns. The rest pertain to storm water drains, urban transport and green spaces and parks, an official press release said.
 
Sewerage projects got a lion share of Rs. 1,471.07crore followed by Rs. 1,225 crore for water supply related schemes. 
 
The Apex Committee of AMRUT approved State Annual Action Plans (SAAP) for the three states for 2015-16. Gujarat proposed SAAP entailing an investment of Rs. 1,204.42 crore, followed by Rajasthan at Rs.919 crore and Andhra Pradesh proposing an investment of Rs. 662.86 crore.
 
Under the SAAP approved, Gujarat will take up sewerage projects in 25 AMRUT cities at a cost of Rs. 916 crore and water supply schemes in 11 cities with an investment of Rs. 233.65 crore.
 
Rajasthan will take up sewerage schemes in six cities at a cost of Rs. 555 crore and water supply projects in 10 cities at a cost of Rs.344 crore.
 
Andhra Pradesh will focus on water supply in 26 AMRUT cities at a cost of Rs. 646.29 crore and provision of green spaces and parks in 30 cities at a cost of Rs. 16.57 crore.
 
Under AMRUT, Central Government will provide an assistance of 50% of project cost for cities with a population of up to 10 lakhs each and one third of project cost for cities with a population of above 10 lakhs each. Rest of the project cost has to be borne by the states and urban local bodies. As per these norms, central assistance for the approved projects in three states comes to Rs. 1,356.23 crore.
 
The SAAP of each state is an integration of all city level Service Level Improvement Plans (SLIP) of all Atal Mission cities in the respective states. 
 
City level SLIP is formulated based on detailed assessment of gaps in the availability of infrastructure pertaining to water supply, sewerage network services, storm water drains, urban transport and so on.
 
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Ensuring water supply of 135 litres per capita per day in urban areas besides providing water supply and sewerage connections to all urban households is the national priority, which Atal Mission seeks to achieve. 
 
Mr. Prasad urged all the states to ensure water meters for all consumers in urban areas for efficient management of water supply and reducing supply of water without collecting fee (non-revenue water). States have been asked to focus on this from next year onwards. 
 
First installment of central assistance of Rs.118.03 crore for Gujarat, Rs. 91.90 crore for Rajasthan and Rs.66.29 crore for Andhra Pradesh under Atal Mission will be released shortly, the release said.
 
The states made a detailed presentation on implementation of a set of 11 reforms including time lines for them. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan will also undertake capacity building of urban local bodies at a cost of Rs.22.23 crore, it added.
 
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Modi to visit Andhra Pradesh on Thursday, to lay foundation stone for new state capital

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Andhra Pradesh tomorrow when he will, among other things, attend the function for the laying of the foundation stone of the new capital of the state at Amaravathi.
 
An official press release said Mr. Modi would also inaugurate the Garuda Terminal at Tirupati Airport and lay the foundation stone for the Tirupati Mobile Manufacturing Hub.
 
He will also visit the Tirumala Temple, the release added.
 
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Rahul Gandhi writes to Modi about "unfulfilled" commitments to Andhra Pradesh

File photo of Rahul Gandhi
File photo of Rahul Gandhi
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that, even though more than a year had elapsed since his government came to power, many of the commitments made by the Centre to Andhra Pradesh, including Special Category Status, at the time of its bifurcation remained unfulfilled.
 
"I have been to Andhra Pradesh twice over the last year. Everywhere I went, I could sense the severe disappointment and pain the people were in due to the Centre's failure to honour its commitments," Mr. Gandhi said in his letter dated October 17.
 
"Today, the state is facing a huge revenue deficit and development initiatives are at a virtual standstill. Despite the obvious need for immediate aid, the Centre has still not acted to extend support," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi noted that Mr. Modi was due to visit Andhra Pradesh on October 22 to lay the foundation stone for its new capital, Amaravathi, and requested him to use the opportunity to grant Special Category Status to the state and announce a time frame for the fulfillment of the commitments made to it in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.
 
Mr. Gandhi recalled in his letter that, during the process of reorganisation, one of the major concerns of the people of Andhra Pradesh was the economic viability of their state.
 
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He said that, to address these concerns, the then Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was careful to include a comprehensive development package for Andhra Pradesh within the Act itself. 
 
"For further support, (then) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also announced Special Category Status to Andhra Padesh on the floor of the Rajya Sabha on February 20, 2014. This announcement was later approved by the UPA Cabinet and sent to the Planning Commission for implementation," he added.
 
The bifurcaction of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh took place on June 2, 2014, with the newly created State of Telangana coming into existence with ten districts carved out of Andhra Pradesh.
 
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15 dead, 20 injured as mini-truck collides with bus in Andhra Pradesh

 
15 dead, 20 injured in mini-truck-bus collision in Andhra Pradesh
 
At least 15 members of a marriage party, including three children, died and about 20 others suffered injuries when a mini-truck carrying them collided head-on with a bus near Kandukur town in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh early this morning.
 
Police sources in Ongole, the district headquarters, told NetIndian that the mishap occurred around 4.30 am today.
 
According to them, the bus caught fire after the collision and fire tenders rushed to the spot to douse the flames. There were no passengers in the bus, the sources said.
 
The mini-truck was carrying about 40 people in all. While those with minor injuries were treated at a nearby government hospital, about 10 persons with severe injuries were rushed to the general hospital in Ongole, they added.
 
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Indian Navy to host International Fleet Review 2016 on Feb 4-8

The Indian Navy will host its largest international event, the International Fleet Review (IFR), on the Eastern Seaboard at Visakhapatnam from February 4-8, 2016.
 
Announcing the plans at a press conference here yesterday, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R. K. Dhowan said that, apart from the Indian Navy which will showcase its capabilities, more than 50 navies from around the world were expected to participate in the event, which would be reviewed by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 6.
 
In the current geo-political scenario, seafarers of the world, represented by their navies have taken a leading role in bringing nations together by steadily increasing cooperation at sea. One of the important ways used by navies to enhance cooperation and promote friendship amongst the seafaring community is through the conduct of the Fleet Review. 
 
The leading nations of the world use the opportunity provided by the Fleet Review to enhance mutual trust and confidence with their maritime neighbours by inviting their ships to participate in the Review. Called an International Fleet Review, this event then provides the host nation an occasion to display its own naval prowess and maritime capabilities whilst simultaneously generating goodwill amongst other maritime nations. 
 
The review also aims at assuring the country of the Indian Navy’s preparedness, high morale and discipline.
 
“During the International Fleet Review, the navies of the world will come together at Visakhapatnam to strengthen bridges of friendship. We may be separated by geography, but we are certainly united through oceans. The visiting navies will also have the opportunity to display their professional skills as they sail together for exercises to increase mutual cooperation and interoperability, with the underlying theme of keeping the global commons safe and secure in the 21st century," Admiral Dhowan said.
 
The logo, the chosen mascot -- the Dolphin, the adopted theme, "United through Oceans", and the theme song composed for the event were also released on the occasion.
 
The website www.ifr16.indiannavy.gov.in and the mobile app IFR-16 Indian Navy, which will serve as the single window interface for interaction with the public and the participants, was also launched.
 
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Andhra Pradesh proposes AMRUT Action Plan for 31 cities at cost of Rs 28,756 crore

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The Andhra Pradesh government has proposed a comprehension action plan under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for 31 cities and towns of the state at an estimated cost of Rs 28,756.30 crore.
 
The plan is aimed at ensuring basic infrastructure relating to water supply, sewerage and septage management, drainage, urban transport and green spaces and parks during the next five years in these cities and towns.
 
An official press release said that, for the current financial year (2015-16), the State Government has sought approval of the Miistry of Urban Development for its State Level Annual Action Plan (SAAP) involving central assistance of Rs. 673.12 crore for water supply projects and development  of parks.
 
The State’s SAAP is based on city level plans formulated after assessing the gaps in basic infrastructure and investments to be made to meet the norms prescribed for urban areas.
 
The release said the extent of coverage of urban households with water supply connections in AMRUT cities and towns in Andhra Pradesh ranged from 7.50% in Tenali to 78.80% in Rajahmundry. On the whole, 50.22% of all urban households in the Mission cities have water connections at present.
 
Cities with  below 30% coverage include Tenali (7.50%), Madanapalle (20%), Chittor(21%) and Vizianagaram(30%).
 
Cities with coverage between 31% and 50% include Srikakulam (58%), Bhimavaram(43.60%), Kakinada(49.36%), Vijayawada(48.75%), Gudivada (48%), Machilipatnam(50%), Tirupati(45%), Ongole (49%), Nellore(45%), Proddatur(45%), Tadipatri(42.50%), Hindupur(37%), Guntakal (47%), Anantapur (45%), Kurnool (45.94%) and Adoni (43%).
 
Cities with coverage between 51% and 75% coverage include Visakhapatnam (61%), Tadepallegudem(57.37%), Eluru (66.31%), Chilakaluripeta (51%), Narsaraopeta (61.46%), Kadapa(52%), Dharmavaram(69%) and Nandyal (50.85%).
 
Rajahmundry has more 78% of households with water supply connections, the release said.
 
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The per capita water supply rnaged from 20 litres per capita per day (lpcd) in Madanapalle to 145 lpcd in Vijayawada as against the norm for urban areas of 135 lpcd. On an average, water supply in AMRUT cities in Andhra Pradesh at present is 104 lpcd.
 
Cities with water supply of less than 50 lpcd include Madanapalle-20 lpcd, Chittor(48) and Tadipatri (49). Cities with water supply between 50 and 100 lpcd include Vizianagaram (70), Bhimavaram(88), Tadepallegudem(78), Gudivada (95), Machilipatnam (68), Chilakaluripeta(99), Guntur(100), Ongole (88), Proddatur(73), Hindupur(56), Nandyal(73) and Kurnool (80 lpcd).
 
Cities with water supply between 101 and 134 lpcd include Srikakulam(115 lpcd), Vizag(109), Kakinada (108), Narsaraopeta (126), Tirupati(114), Nellore(126), Kadapa (116), Guntakal(107), Dharmavaram(114), Adoni(104). 
 
Eluru, Rajahmundry, Tenali, Anantapur (135 lpcd each) and Vijayawada (145 lpcd) are among the cities with water supply of 135 lpcd and more, the release said.
 
The State Government reported that sewerage network services are available only in six Mission cities. These include : 10% in Guntur, 18% in Proddatur, 19.56% in Vizag, 49% in Kadapa, 70% in Vijayawada and 79% in Tadipatri. It has proposed to bridge the gaps in respect of these infrastructure areas progressively over the next five years.
 
The State Government projected a cost of Rs. 6,117.24 crore for ensuring universal coverage of urban households in Mission cities in respect of water supply and Rs.10,888 crore for providing sewerage networks and septage management over the next five years.
 
To provide adequate drainage facilities in the Mission cities in the state, the State Government has proposed construction of outfall drains, major and minor drains besides rejuvenation of existing drains covering a total length of 6,753 km at an estimated cost of Rs. 6,814.85 crore.
 
Regarding improving urban transport, the State Government has proposed development of 336.50 kms of pathways at a cost of Rs.178.10 crore, 232 km of cycle tracks at a cost of Rs.11.50 crore, 215 kms of BRTS (Bus Rapid Transport Systems) corridors at a cost of Rs.702 crore and procurement of 710 buses at a cost of Rs.376 crore. Total investments proposed in urban transport sector over the next five years is Rs.1998.88 crore.
 
Development of green spaces and parks will be undertaken at a cost of Rs. 120 crore under the Atal Mission.
 
Capacity building of urban local bodies will be taken up at a cost of Rs. 120 crore. Administrative and Other Expenses during the Mission period till 2019 is estimated to be Rs. 2,614 crore.
 
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The State Government reported that as required under AMRUT Guidelines, Operation & Maintenance costs of infrastructure assets to be created will be included in the Detailed Project Reports and operation and maintenance (O&M) costs will be borne by the urban local bodies through user charges including tariff rationalization, reduction of quantum of water being supplied without any collection of charges, energy conservation and efficiency improvement and improvement of systems efficiency by adopting ICT.
 
The Andhra Pradesh Government has assured the Urban Development Ministry that the mandated 11 urban sector reforms will be implemented in 6 to 36 months. This includes e-governance, Municipal Tax and Fee improvement, improvement in levy and collection of user charges and credit rating of urban local bodies.
 
The Andhra Pradesh Urban Finance and Infrastructure Development Corporation (AUFIDC) has been designated as the financial intermediary for mobilization of required resources. The State Government has set up Andhra Pradesh Greening and Beautification Corporation for taking up greening projects.
 
Under Atal Mission, the Central Government provides assistance up to 50% of projects for cities with a population of up to 10 lakhs and one third of project cost for cities with population of above 10 lakhs. In Andhra Pradesh, only Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada have population of over 10 lakhs each, the release added.
 
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Employability: Soft skills are the need of the hour

Employment is a serious concern in India. The last decade, however, has seen an increase in the number of industries like the IT Services, ITeS, Retail, Travel, Transport, Financial Services, Hospitality, Beauty and Health care. This has brought a positive change creating more employment opportunities. 
 
For a competitive edge companies are basing their initiatives on customer or client expectations. Companies look for a blend of innovative solutions and the ‘transactional’ services they provide. People today are better informed of the market and the options available.  Their expectations need to be met and the responsibility lies with each individual at every point of interaction within the company.  
 
There was a time when the BPO sector was thriving in India. Today, we see a saturation of sorts taking place. One important aspect that has led to this is the lack of quality in the service. I remember a BPO employee stating “End of the day the customer wants the problem solved.” Well, it’s not only that but importantly how the problem was solved. One could speak about the quality based on several parameters however, today they speak in terms of only one that comprises all.  ‘Soft skills’- The need of the hour. 
 
The talent acquisition team faces the burden of hiring people who are competent of positively interacting within the corporate culture. With several students passing out of various institutions, the recruitment team has one statement to make, “It’s difficult to find a suitable candidate”.  This merely indicates that we have a shortage of individuals who are employable. The growth in the number of students waiting to be employed versus those who could be employed, requires urgent attention.  
 
Educational institutions are beginning to realize that along with the academic qualification (the hard skills), students need to learn skills that ensure their employability. They need to understand this better and work towards being extremely professional. These are the ‘soft skills’ a term we hear more often now a days. 
 
Soft skills are distinct from the hard skills and is recognized as the key to bridge the talent gap we face in India today. It is an essential to interact with the clients and to work in a collaborative manner within the team. This reflects on the work quality and 
productivity. Soft skills are more to do with who we are than what we know. It depends on the attitude.
 
The hard skills may be the foundation to a successful career. However, they need to be cemented with soft skills.
 
Soft skills include an individual’s ability to communicate effectively, to be time efficient, to have appropriate interpersonal skills, to be able to analyze situations beyond the technical aspect and to problem solve accordingly, to be able to lead and work in a team and so on. 
 
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In this context an apt statement would be ‘To change history one needs to know history’. To be able to improve on one’s soft skills one needs to know what it means. 
 
People often use the terms soft skills and communication skills inappropriately. Communication skills include using the right words, speaking in the right tone, using the right gestures with confidence, understanding the situation, and who the receiver 
is, etc.. To improve on communication skills one needs to improve the language and be a good listener. Remember! Using words that entirely contradict the intention leads to unforeseen situations. These situations should be tactfully dealt with. It is a skill that needs to be learnt and practiced. 
 
This is where training and facilitation play a vital role. The ability of a trainer or a facilitator depends on whether they are driven by passion. They need to ensure effective delivery through role plays, case studies and other interactive methodologies with both groups as well as individuals. 
 
Change is imperative. We need to understand this and be willing to change. This would lead to a better tomorrow resulting in an improvement in the employable quotient. It means bringing about a change in the existing scenario and thus looking at the larger picture, contributing to the society.
 
Anita Peter
Anita Peter
Anita Peter is the Founder & Managing Director of Persona Script, a soft skills and leadership development training company. A motivator and facilitator, she supports, promotes and conducts motivational programs for women who have taken a sabbatical from work. Her strength has been her ability to connect with the audience. She won the Kerala state level competition for artistic and figure roller skating. She is a Mohiniattam performer and teacher. She has acted in two Malayalam films, several Malayalam and Tamil television serials and in plays. She has compered shows and programmes and modelled for several print ads and television commercials for popular brands. She was among the top 10 finalists of the Haier Gladrags Mrs India 2011.
 
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Cabinet nod for three new AIIMS at Nagpur, Manglagiri, Kalyani

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for the setting up of three new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AllMS) at Nagpur in Maharashtra, Manglagiri in Andhra Pradesh and Kalyani in West Bengal under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna (PMSSY). 
 
The decision involves a financial implication of Rs. 4949 crore, an official press release said.
 
The new AIIMS will be established as institutes of national importance for providing quality medical education, nursing education and also to provide tertiary healthcare facilities to the people of these locations. 
 
The proposed institutions will have a hospital with capacity of 960 beds. In addition, there shall be a teaching block, administrative block, AYUSH block, auditorium, nursing college, night shelter, hostel and residential facilities. 
 
Of the total expenditure of Rs. 4949 crore, the cost of the new AIIMS at Manglagiri will be Rs. 1618 crore, at Nagpur Rs.1577 crore and at Kalyani Rs. 1754 crore. 
 
"Setting up of these AIIMS will address regional imbalances in availability of affordable and reliable tertiary health care services in these regions. It will augment the facilities of quality medical education and would also address the shortfall of health care professionals in these regions," the release said.
 
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The large populations of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra (Vidarbha) and West Bengal along with adjoining States and regions will be beneficiary of this project, it said.
 
Six new AIIMS under the PMSSY have been made functional. Also construction of AIIMS, Rae Bareli is under progress. 
 
Today's decision is in accordance with the announcement made by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget Speech 2014-15 on establishing new AIIMS at these places. This also fulfils the promise made under the Andhra Pradesh re-organization Act 2014 that provides for establishment of one AIIMS-type institute in the successor state of Andhra Pradesh, the release added.
 
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Govt. signs loan agreements worth Euro 125m with KFW for green energy corridors

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The Government signed two loan agreements worth Euro 125 million with KFW of Germany here yesterday for financing two projects under the Green Energy Corridors (GEC) programme in Himachal Pradesh (Euro 57 million) and Andhra Pradesh (Euro 68 million). 
 
The loan agreements were signed by Mr. S. Selvakumar, Joint Secretary (Bilateral Cooperation), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. Roland Sillar, Member, KFW Board Management.
 
Project agreements were also signed by Mr. S.L. Sharma, MD, HPPTCL and Mr. P. Satyamoorty, Director (Finance), Andhra Pradesh TRANSCO relating to their respective states.
 
With the Green Energy Corridors, the intra-State network will feed the renewable energy to the respective State grids and the high capacity transmission corridors and inter-State network will connect major renewable energy pockets with the national grid. 
 
Renewable energy is one of the key areas of Indo-German partnership mentioned in the Joint Statement of Hannover in April 2015 and with financing of the transmission infrastructure of Renewable Energy projects, the Central and State grids will be strengthened to evacuate more green energy, an official press release said.
 
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Torpedo launch and recovery vessel INS Astradharini joins Navy

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The indigenously built torpedo launch and recovery vessel INS Astradharini was commissioned by Vice-Admiral Satish Soni, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command at a ceremony held at the Naval Base in Visakhapatnam today.
 
Dr. V Bhujanga Rao, Director General (NS &M) DRDO, Mr. C. D. Malleswar, Director, NSTL, Visakhapatnam and Mr. Sahay Raj, Chairman and Managing Director of Shoft Shipyard Pvt. Ltd, Bharuch, Gujarat were amongst those present on the occasion.
 
The Commissioning Warrant of the ship was read out by Commanding Officer, Commander Deepak Singh Bist. Subsequently, hoisting of the Naval ensign onboard for the first time and breaking of the Commissioning Pennant, with the National Anthem being played, marked the completion of the commissioning ceremony.
 
Vice-Admiral Soni said that the induction of INS Ashtradharini added thrust to the nation’s ongoing endeavours at indigenisation and achieving its goal of self-reliance in underwater weapons development. He later unveiled the commissioning plaque and dedicated the ship to the nation. 
 
The design of the Astradharini was a collaborative effort of NSTL, Shoft Shipyard and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur and has a unique design of a catamaran hull form that significantly reduces its power requirement and is built with indigenous steel. 
 
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Having a length of 50 m, the vessel is capable of achieving speeds upto 15 knots. It can operate at high sea states and has a large deck area with torpedo launchers for deploying and recovering various kinds of torpedos during the trials. The ship also has modern power generation and distribution, navigation and communication systems. 
 
"The unique hull form of the ship demonstrates the country’s ship design and shipbuilding capabilities. It is a matter of pride that 95% of the ship’s systems are of indigenous design thus demonstrating the Navy’s continued adherence to the ‘Make in India’ philosophy," the release said.
 
INS Astradharini will be used to carry out the technical trials of underwater weapons and systems developed by NSTL, a naval systems laboratory of DRDO. It is an advanced replacement for Astravahini which was decommissioned on July 17 this year.
 
Astradharini has a complement of two officers and 27 sailors. It   can accommodate 13 DRDO scientists and has the capacity to undertake multiple trials during a single sortie.
 
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