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Business & Economy

14th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnerships to be held in New Delhi on March 17-19

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The Ministry of Commerce & Industry has organised the 14th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnerships, in association with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Export Import (Exim) Bank of India here from March 17-19.
 
The event will mark the deepening of India-Africa economic and business ties and pave the way for a whole range of cross-border project partnerships. 
 
The annual conclave, since its inception in 2005, will  bring senior Ministers, policy makers, officials, business leaders, bankers, technologists, start-up entrepreneurs and other professionals from India and Africa on a common platform in a spirit of partnership.
 
Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice-President of Ghana, Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, Prime Minister of Guinea, and Monyane Moleleki, Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho will be present in this conclave.
 
Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu, C. R. Chaudhary, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry and AnupWadhawan, Secretary, Department of Commerce will also participate in the conclave.
 
More than 31 senior Ministers from 21 African countries, apart from business delegates from 37 countries, would be participating in the event.
 
An official press release said the conclave would mark the pre-eminence of India-Africa partnership in the area of ‘South-South Cooperation’, at a time when the global economy is faced with intractable challenges that stem from rising protectionism and trade conflicts. 
 
The India-Africa bilateral partnership is augmented by India’s ascendency as the fastest growing major economy, as well as Africa’s new economic dynamism illustrated by some of the Sub-Saharan economies which are among the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world.
 
The conclave coheres into the Indian Government’s broader vision of long-term engagement with Africa. The Government of India’s unflinching commitment to expanding the canvas of India-Africa economic partnership which is evident from the increase in bilateral trade between India and Africa by nearly 22% from last year touching $ 62.66 billion in the year 2017-18.
 
The knowledge sessions at the conclave will focus upon the potential areas for bilateral economic and business partnerships, core capabilities of Indian and African enterprises and opportunities for joint ventures thereof, innovative financing of significant development projects, skill development and capacity building.
 
The deliberations will be guided by long-term goals and objectives:
 
--scaling up India-Africa bilateral trade volume to USD150 billion in the next few years
--encouraging Indian exporters to access the African countries and increase their presence in the region
--enabling geographical and product diversification of Indian exports to Africa 
--enhancing manufacturing exports of Africa by optimal utilisation of Duty Free Tariff Preference scheme and capacity building support from India
--expanding Indian investments in areas likeinfrastructure, agriculture and food-processing, energy, services, IT and knowledge industries.
 
The conclave is expected to see the participation of 400 plus delegates from Africa and around 300 delegates from India. The B2B meetings at the conclave are expected to be held on more than 500 project proposals from Africa, the release added.
 
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Kotak Mahindra Bank becomes first private sector bank to join ‘PSB Loans in 59 Minutes’

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Online PSB Loans Limited and Kotak Mahindra Bank today announced that Kotak has become the first private sector bank to join the platform psbloansin59minutes.com. 
 
Kotak will offer loans up to Rs one crore to micro, small & medium enterprises (MSME)  in India through this platform, a press release from the bank said.
 
MSME loan aspirants will now get the option to avail of ‘in-principle’ loan approvals in just 59 minutes from both public sector and private sector banks (presently only Kotak) through this platform.
 
Ambuj Chandna, Senior Executive Vice President & Head – Consumer Assets, Kotak Mahindra Bank said, “We are delighted to join psbloansin59minutes.com and participate in the Government of India’s initiative to facilitate easier access to credit to micro, small & medium enterprises. Small business owners require quick and hassle-free access to loans to grow or diversify their business. At Kotak, we offer a range of customised financing options with flexible repayment options. We are also seeing a steady rise in customers availing loans through digital channels.” 
 
Manoj Mittal, DMD, SIDBI said, “The on-boarding of Kotak Mahindra Bank is an important milestone for the portal. In addition to making a wide choice of credit products from public sector banks available to MSMEs registering on the platform, they now also get an option to access private sector lenders as well. This is true democratization of finance for the MSME segment."
 
The PSB Loans in 59 Minutes initiative aims at automation of various processes in loan appraisals in such a way that MSMEs get an eligibility letter and an in-principle approval in less than 60 minutes and can choose the bank of their choice. The value of the Contactless Business Loans offered ranges from Rs. 1 lakh up to Rs. 1 crore. The rate of interest starts from 8% onwards. The platform is directly connected to the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme. The solution uses advanced algorithms to analyze data points from various sources such as IT returns, GST data, bank statements, and so on.
 
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Sensex up 250 points, oil, gas stocks surge

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Amid mixed global cues, the Sensex surged close to 250 points as key equity indices opened in the green on Monday, owing to gains in the banking and finance stocks.
 
Healthy buying was seen in all the sectors with BSE Oil and Gas index leading the pack, closely followed by banking and finance scrips.
 
Oil prices rose on Monday, said Anuj Gupta of Angel Broking, owing to comments from Saudi Oil Minister, indicating that the supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would continue till June.
 
The Sensex of the BSE opened at 36,741.57 from its previous close at 36,671.43 on Friday.
 
At 9.31 a.m., the Sensex traded at 36,919.78 higher by 248.35 points or 0.68 per cent.
 
The Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 11,068.75 from it's previous close of 11,035.40. It traded at 11,035.40 during the morning trade session, up 22.80 points and 0.21 per cent.
 
On Friday, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) bought stocks worth Rs 1,095.06 crore while domestic institutional investors (DIIs) sold stocks to the tune of Rs 470.70 crore.
 
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Petrol prices on Sunday up 9-10 paise

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Petrol prices rose in the range of 9 to 10 paise in the four metropolitan cities of the country on Sunday, while diesel prices remained unchanged.
 
In the national capital, petrol was priced at Rs 72.40 a litre, 9 paise higher than Saturday's level. 
 
In Kolkata and Mumbai, the price of the fuel rose by 9 paise to Rs 74.48 and Rs 78.03 per litre, respectively, according to data on the Indian Oil Corporation's website. The price of petrol in Chennai increased by 10 paise to Rs 75.19 a litre.
 
The rise in fuel prices can be largely attributed to the increase in crude oil costs. Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Saturday conveyed India's concerns over rising crude oil prices and its effects on the domestic fuel rates during his meeting here with Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy, Khalid Al-Falih.
 
However, domestic fuel prices are likely to remain subdued till the upcoming general elections end, to prevent any outrage among the consumers, said informed sources.
 
Diesel prices across the four metros remained unchanged for the third straight day. 
 
While the fuel was priced at Rs 67.54 per litre in Delhi, in Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, diesel prices were at Rs 69.33, Rs 70.76 and Rs 71.38 per litre, respectively.
 
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India Cooling Action Plan launched to address requirement across sectors

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Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Harsh Vardhan launched here on Friday the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) that has a long-term vision to address the requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce the demand. 
 
With this, India has become one of the first countries in the world to develop a comprehensive Cooling Action Plan, an official press release said.
 
Cooling requirement is cross sectoral and an essential part for economic growth. It is required across different sectors of the economy such as residential and commercial buildings, cold-chain, refrigeration, transport and industries.
 
Speaking at the release function, the Minister said the thrust of the ICAP will be to look for synergies in actions for securing both environmental and socio-economic benefits. 
 
“The overarching goal of ICAP is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society. This will also help in reducing both direct and indirect emissions,” he said.
 
ICAP provides an integrated vision towards cooling across sectors encompassing inter alia reduction of cooling demand, refrigerant transition, enhancing energy efficiency and better technology options with a 20 year time horizon, he added.
 
The India Cooling Action seeks to reduce cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25% by 2037-38, reduce refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by 2037-38, reduce cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by 2037-38 and recognize “cooling and related areas” as a thrust area of research under national S&T Programme.
 
Under the plan, training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians will be completed by 2022-23, synergizing with Skill India Mission. These actions will have significant climate benefits, an official release said.
 
Over and above the environmental benefits, it will result in Thermal comfort for all – provision for cooling for EWS and LIG housing; Sustainable cooling – low GHG emissions related to cooling; Doubling Farmers Income – better cold chain infrastructure – better value of produce to farmers; less wastage of produce; Skilled workforce for better livelihoods and environmental protection, 
 
It will also promote Make in India – domestic manufacturing of air-conditioning and related cooling equipment and a robust R&D on alternative cooling technologies – to provide a push to innovation in cooling sector.
 
Cooling is also linked to human health and productivity. Linkages of cooling with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are well acknowledged. The cross-sectoral nature of cooling and its use in development of the economy makes provision for cooling an important developmental necessity. 
 
The development of ICAP has been a multi-stakeholder inclusive process encompassing different Government Ministries, Departments, organizations, industry and industry associations, think tanks, academic and R&D institutions, the release added.
 
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Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh get new NCLT benches

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The Government has approved the establishment of two new benches of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), one at Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh and the other at Indore in Madhya Pradesh. 
 
The step has been taken keeping in view the increasing caseload, especially under the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code 2016, an official press release said.
 
The jurisdiction of the Bench at Amaravati will be the state of Andhra Pradesh and that of Indore will be the state of Madhya Pradesh. At present Andhra Pradesh comes under the Jurisdiction of NCLT Bench at Hyderabad and Madhya Pradesh comes under the jurisdiction of NCLT Bench, Ahmedabad.  
 
It is expected that the creation of new benches will enable faster disposal of cases, the release said.
 
The NCLT, which has been set up under the Companies Act, 2013, has provided an effective and time-bound adjudication mechanism to deal with matters related to the Companies Act, 2013, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 and the LLP Act, 2008.  
 
The Act provides for the appointment of a President and such number of Members as the Government may deem necessary. As on date, there are 17 Judicial Members and 10 Technical Members.  Presently, 14 numbers of NCLT Benches have been established, including the Principal Bench in New Delhi, and three recently set up benches at Jaipur, Kochi and Cuttack.
 
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Govt. approves Surat Metro Rail Project with two corridors

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The Government has approved the Surat Metro Rail Project in Gujarat with two corridors with a combined length of 40.35 km.
 
The project will be completed in five years at an estimated project cost of Rs. 12020.32 crore, an official press release said.
 
"This project will provide continuous availability of affordable, reliable, safe, secure and seamless transport system in the urban agglomeration of the city. It will reduce the accidents, pollution, travel time, energy consumption, anti-social incidents as well as regulate urban expansion and land use for sustainable development. The Metro will provide eco friendly and sustainable public transport to residents, commuters, visitors and travelers," the release said.
 
The corridor-1, Sarthana to Dream City, is 21.61 kms comprising an   underground stretch of 6.47 km and an  elevated corridor of 15.14 km, which will connect 20 metro stations (via Sarthana, Nature Park, Kapodra, Labheshwar Chowk area, Central Warehouse, Surat Railway station, Maskati hospital, Gandhi Baug, Majura Gate, Roopali canal, Dream City). 
 
The corridor-2, Bhesan to Saroli, will be 18.74 kms long and will be entirely elevated. It will connect 18 stations. (via Bhesan, Ugat Vaarigruh, Palanpur Road, LP Savani School, Adajan Gam, Aquarium, Majuragate, Kamela Darwaza, Magob and Saroli).
 
Maintenance facilities will be set up at Dream City and Bhesan depots, the release said.
 
The project will be implemented by Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation (GMRC) Ltd.
 
The project will be financed mainly through equity from Government of India and Government of Gujarat on 50:50 basis and loan from bilateral/ multilateral agencies, the release added.
 
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SBI links its savings bank deposits, short term Loan pricing to RBI's repo rate

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State Bank of India (SBI) today linked its key pricing decision for savings bank deposits and short term loans to the repo rate of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), effective from May 1, 2019.
 
A press release from SBI said this was done in order to address the concern of rigidities in the Balance Sheet structure and address the issue of quick transmission of changes in RBI’s policy rates.
 
According to the release, SBI had linked its savings bank deposits, with balances above Rs. 1.0 lakh to repo rate with current effective rate being 3.50% p.a. (2.75% below current repo rate of 6.25%).
 
All cash credit accounts and overdrafts with limits above Rs 1.00 lac also will be linked to the repo rate (current repo rate 6.25% plus a spread of 2.25%).   The risk premiums over and above this floor rate of 8.50 % would be based on the risk profile of the borrower, as is the current practice, the release said.
 
In order to insulate the small deposit holders and small borrowers from the movement of external benchmarks, SBI has decided to exempt savings bank account holders with balances up to Rs 1.00 lac and borrowers with CC/ OD limits up to Rs 1.00 lac from linkage to the repo rate.
 
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Foundation stones laid for Dwarka Expressway and Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, Jaipur Ring Road inaugurated

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stones for development of the 8-lane access controlled Dwarka Expressway and Delhi-Mumbai Expressway here yesterday. 
 
The ministers also inaugurated the Jaipur Ring Road through a video link on the occasion. 
 
Speaking on the occasion, Swaraj said the three projects are a gift for Delhi and Haryana. The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will change the future of the Mewat region and will bring it on the industrial map of the country, she said.
 
She expressed appreciation for the proposal to plant more than two million new trees on these roads. 
 
Jaitley said the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will link two most important freight centres of the country, boost economic activity and generate employment opportunities. He extended compliments for Gadkari’s efforts in developing the National Highway network in the country. He has successfully brought up this sector to the building of 29 km per day against a mere seven km earlier. Nearly 91% of the country’s villages are now linked with main roads, he said.
 
Gadkari said that, while developing expressways and highways, full attention is being given to minimising pollution levels. The Delhi-Meerut Expressway, Dhaula Kuan flyover and others will definitely reduce traffic congestion thereby improving the air quality in the city. 
 
The Delhi- Mumbai Expressway will also speed up the development and smart cities will develop along them, generating vast employment opportunities for the local people. Projects worth over 15 lakh crore are underway in the Ministry and these are being taken up with full transparency, in a corruption-free atmosphere. All projects are being completed within the time schedule.
 
The Delhi-Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway is conceived as a 1320-km greenfield project with an estimated cost of Rs 90,000 crore. The existing Delhi-Mumbai National Corridor (NH-8 section of the Golden Quadrilateral) is one the busiest and most critical routes of the national highways network, witnessing average traffic of more than 80,000 CPUs per day. 
 
Considering the present traffic scenario, it was decided to develop an alternative alignment connecting Delhi with Vadodara, which on linking up with the proposed Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway, would create seamless connectivity between Delhi and Mumbai and improve the efficiency of this busy National Corridor. 
 
The proposed Delhi-Vadodara-Mumbai road will result in an overall reduction of about 150 km in the present distance between Delhi and Mumbai. In addition, Delhi-Vadodara expressway would also act as an expressway to Jaipur via the already developed Jaipur-Dausa NH-11. 
 
The expressway will also reduce the distance to other important economic centres of Kota, Bhopal and Indore from Delhi (through spurs of intersecting NHs being developed under Bharatmala) by about 100 km.
 
The Delhi-Vadodara Expressway is being taken up in 5 phases at a cost of Rs 45,000 crore. Bids have been invited for all these phases and are at various stages of finalization. Work has been awarded for a part of Phase I and will be done for the remaining phases this year.
 
The 29 km Dwarka Expressway (NH-248BB) being built at a cost of Rs 9,000 crore will start from Shiv Murti to terminate near Kherki Daula on NH-8. This section of NH-8 is a part of Delhi-Jaipur-Ahmedabad-Mumbai arm of Golden Quadrilateral and Delhi-Gurgaon section is presently carrying traffic of over 3 lakhs PCUs, much beyond the designed capacity of this highway, leading to severe congestion. 
 
Keeping this in view, Dwarka Expressway has been conceived as a bypass of Gurgaon. This Expressway stretches 18.9 km in Haryana and 10.1 km in Delhi. It is also proposed to provide western connectivity to Indira Gandhi International Airport from Dwarka side from this expressway, providing alternate connectivity to the airport for west Delhi and Haryana. 
 
The expressway will also provide direct access to upcoming Exhibition-Cum-Convention Centre in Sector 25 of Dwarka.
 
The 57-km long six-lane Jaipur Ring Road has been completed at a cost of Rs 1,217 crore. It connects NH-11 (Agra Road), NH-8 (Ajmer Road), NH-12 (Tonk Road), and NH-12 (Malpura Road). 
 
The project involved the construction of two road overbridges (ROBs), a flyover, two major bridges, 20 minor bridges, 32 Vehicular Underpasses (VUPs) and 31 culverts. The project envisages a considerable reduction in traffic congestion and pollution in Jaipur city.
 
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IGL to supply CNG, PNG in Kaithal district of Haryana

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Public sector Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL), the largest CNG distribution company of the country, has said that it has received a letter of intent (LOI) from the Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) for supply of compressed natural gas (CNG) and piped natural gas (PNG) in the Kaithal district of Haryana.
 
The LOI has come after the 10th round of bidding to lay City Gas Distribution (CGD) network in the district, a press release from the company said.
 
It is expected that the first CNG station and PNG connection would be made available within a year. IGL has already started its CGD project in adjoining Karnal district, the release said.
 
Priyanka Soni, Deputy Commissioner, Kaithal announced the decision at a function held here on Friday.
 
Satpal Garg, Member, PNGRB, E.S. Ranganathan, Managing Director, IGL, and other senior officials from the district administration and IGL were present on the occasion.
 
Addressing the gathering, Soni called upon IGL to undertake timely implementation of the project and assured all support from the district administration for statutory clearances. 
 
Garg said PNGRB is facilitating the roll-out of CGD projects across the country with an objective of making India a gas-based economy and increasing the share of gas in the overall energy basket of the country from the current 6% to 15%. 
 
Ranganathan outlined the plans of IGL to set up CNG refueling infrastructure and piped gas facilities in the area. He announced that as per minimum work programme, IGL plans to set up 4 CNG stations and provide PNG connections to around 10,000 households in the next two years across the geographical area.
 
He added that, along with domestic kitchens, IGL would be providing gas connections to industries and commercial establishments like hotels, restaurants and hospitals in the region.
 
IGL, a joint venture of PSUs, GAIL (India) Ltd. and BPCL is already engaged in supplying CNG and PNG in Delhi, Gautam Budh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Rewari and Gurugram.
 
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Cabinet approves FMBAP for Flood Management Works

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The Union Cabinet has approved the Flood Management and Border Areas Programme (FMBAP) in the entire country and River Management Activities and works related to Border Areas for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20 with a total outlay of Rs 3342.00 crore.
 
The FMBAP will be implemented for effective flood management, erosion control and anti-sea erosion. It will benefit towns, villages, industrial establishments, communication links, agricultural fields and infrastructure. The catchment area treatment works will help in reduction of sediment load into rivers, an official press release said.
 
The funding pattern for FM Component for works in general category States will continue to be 50% (Centre): 50% (State). For projects in North Eastern States, Sikkim, J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the funding pattern will continue to be 70% (Centre): 30% (State). 
 
RMBA component being specific to activities in border areas with neighbouring countries and in accordance with bilateral mechanisms, the projects/works will continue to be funded as 100% grant-in-aid/central assistance. 
 
FMBAP has been framed by merging the components of two continuing XII Plan schemes titled Flood Management Programme (FMP) and River Management Activities and Works related to Border Areas (RMBA).
 
The aim of the scheme is to assist the State Governments to provide a reasonable degree of protection against floods in critical areas by adopting an optimum combination of structural and non-structural measures and enhancing the capabilities of State /Central Government officials in related fields.
 
The works under the scheme will protect valuable land from erosion and flooding and help in maintaining peace along the border. The scheme aims at the completion of the on-going projects already approved under FMP. 
 
It also caters to hydro-meteorological observations and flood forecasting on common rivers with the neighbouring countries. The scheme includes survey and investigations, preparation of detailed project report, etc., of water resources projects on the common rivers with neighbouring countries like the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project, Sapta Kosi-Sun Kosi Projects in Nepal which would benefit both countries.
 
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Cabinet gives go-ahead for Kiru Hydro Electric Project in Jammu and Kashmir

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday approved the investment sanction for construction of Kiru Hydro Electric (HE) Project (624 MW) by Chenab Valley Power Projects Private Limited (CVPPPL) in Jammu & Kashmir.
 
The project will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 4287.59 crore (at July, 2018 price level), which includes Interest During Construction (IDC) and  Foreign Component (FC) of Rs 426.16 crore and infusion of equity of Rs 630.28 crore by NHPC in CVPPPL, for construction of Kiru HE Project (624 MW) including Rs 70 crore for pre-construction activities already approved by the Cabinet, while according the approval for execution of the Pakal Dul HE Project.
 
CVPPPL is a joint venture company with NHPC, Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC) and PTC having equity shareholding of 49%, 49% and 2%, respectively.
 
The project is located on River Chenab in Kishtwar district of Jammu & Kashmir. It envisages construction of a 135 m high concrete gravity dam above deepest foundation level, an official press release said.
 
The project will provide much-needed power in the northern grid and accelerate the process of development of remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir. It is scheduled to be completed in a period of four and a half years.
 
Kiru Project is envisaged as a Run of River (RoR) Scheme, designed complying with the requirements of Indus Water Treaty 1960, with installed capacity 624 MW (4 x 156 MW). The project would generate 2272.02 MU in a 90% dependable year, the release said.
 
The foundation stone of the project was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 3 this year.
 
The State Government has already granted exemption from toll tax, State Goods and Service Tax (SGST), waiver of free power in a decremental manner and water usage charges for a period of 10 years from the date of commercial operation.
 
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Cabinet approves Teesta Stage-VI hydel project in Sikkim

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday approved the investment sanction for the acquisition of Lanco Teesta Hydro Power Ltd (LTHPL) and execution of balance work of the Teesta Stage-Vl HE Project by NHPC Ltd in Sikkim.
 
The project will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 5748.04 crore (at July, 2018 price level), which includes bid amount of Rs 907 crore for acquisition of LTHPL and estimated cost of balance work of Rs 3863.95 crore including Interest During Construction (IDC)and Foreign Component (FC) of Rs 977.09 crore, an official press release said.
 
Teesta Stage-Vl HE Project is a run of river (RoR) scheme in Sirwani village of Sikkim to utilize the power potential of Teesta river basin in a cascade manner. It involves the construction of a 26.5 m high barrage across river Teesta; two horse shoe shaped Head Race Tunnels of 9.8 m dia with 13.76 km length; and an underground power house having four units of 125 MW each.
 
The project would generate 2400 MUs in a 90% dependable year with installed capacity of 500 MW (4x125MW), the release said.
 
By taking up this project, this sink cost will be utilized and this investment till now will also be used for the generation of energy. Further, the bid amount will be used to discharge the liability of banks and financial institutions, it said.
 
The project will help in meeting peaking demand of energy; balancing and ramping requirement of the grid and accelerate the process of the development of Sikkim, the release added.
 
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CCEA gives investment approval for 1320 MW Buxar Thermal Power Project

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its investment approval for the 2x660 MW Buxar Thermal Power Project (TPP) in Buxar district of Bihar.
 
The project will be completed at an estimated cost of Rs 10,439.09 crore and implemented by SJVN Thermal Private Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of SJVN Ltd., a Central public sector undertaking (CPSU) under the Ministry of Power, an official press release said.
 
The Buxar TPP will be based on supercritical technology with two units of 660 MW each, equipped with the latest emission control technology to protect the environment and has high efficiency and will use less fuel to generate power, it said.
 
The project will improve the deficit power scenario in Bihar and Eastern region. The government of Bihar has already signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the supply of not less than 85% of generated power.
 
The Buxar TPP will start yielding benefits from 2023-24, the release added.
 
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CCEA approves implementation of 1320 MW Khurja Super Thermal Power Project in UP

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday gave investment approval for the 2 x 660MW Khurja Super Thermal Power Plant (STPP) in Bulandshahar district of Uttar Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs. 11,089.42 crore and Amelia Coal Mine in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh. 
 
The project will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs. 1587.16 crore and will be implemented by THDC India Limited, a Central public sector undertaking (CPSU) under the Ministry of Power.
 
The Khurja STPP will be based on Supercritical Technology with two units of capacity 660 MW each, equipped with latest emission control technology to protect the environment and has high efficiency and uses less fuel to generate power. 
 
Amelia coal mine was allotted to THDC India Limited by the Ministry of Coal in January 2017. 
 
The Khurja STPP will improve the deficit power scenario of Northern Region and particularly of Uttar Pradesh, which has already signed Power Purchase Agreement with THDC for the purchase of 60% power from the project, and the other beneficiary states, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi.
 
The project is expected to generate substantial direct and indirect employment and overall development of district Bulandshahar and nearby districts of Western Uttar Pradesh. The Khurja STPP will start yielding benefits from 2023-24, an official press release said.
 
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CCEA clears third railway line between Narayangarh and Bhadrak

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The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday approved the construction of a third railway line between Narayangarh in West Bengal and Bhadrak in Odisha of 155 km length. 
 
To be built at a total cost of Rs 1,866.31 crore, it is slated for completion during the year 2023-24, an official press release said.
 
According to it, the construction of the third line will help create the capacity to cope with existing as well as additional traffic. The busy section between Narayangarh and Bhadrak is mainly used for the movement of coking coal to steel plants as well as the movement of export ore from the areas of Chakradharpur to several ports. 
 
The third line will help in easier movement of coal. This will help steel plants, power plants as well as the export industry, which will boost the economies of Odisha and West Bengal, and entire East India, the release said.
 
"It will ease congestion on this route. Narayangarh–Bhadrak section forms a part of the Howrah-Chennai trunk route. The present utilization (with maintenance block) of the section between Narayangarh and Bhadrak is to the tune of 138% as per Line Capacity Statement 2014-15. 
 
"Over and above the heavy freight traffic, the route has to accommodate 47 pairs of coaching trains including high-speed trains like Bhubaneswar Rajdhani, Howrah-Yesvantpur Duronto, Howrah-Puri Duronto, Sealdah-Puri Duronto and Howrah-Puri Shatabdi Express. This makes it highly congested," the release added.
 
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Govt. approves strategic disinvestment of 100% of its shares in Dredging Corporation of India

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The Government today said it had accorded approval for strategic disinvestment of 100% of its shares in the public sector Dredging Corporation of India Limited (DCIL) in favour of a consortium of four ports -- Visakhapatnam Port Trust, Paradip Port Trust, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Deendayal Port Trust (formely known as Kandla Port Trust). 
 
The share purchase agreement was executed between the Government of India (GOI) and the four ports today, an official press release said.
 
With this, the 73.47% holding of GOI in DCIL has been transferred to the four ports as follows: Visakhapatnam Port Trust (5,451,710 shares, 19.47% of paid-up share capital); and Deendayal Port Trust, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Paradip Port Trust (5,040,101 shares each, 18% each).
 
The Government has mobilized a total amount of Rs. 1049 crore through this strategic sale, the release said.
 
With this transfer of shares, the management and control of the company has been also transferred to the four ports. As per the Share Purchase Agreement, the new management consisting of the following Directors have been appointed by the purchasers subject to the compliance of statutory requirements: T Krishna Babu, Chairman, Visakhapatnam Port Trust (Chairman); Rajesh Tripathi (Managing Director); Sanjay Sethi, Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust; Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman, Deendayal Port Trust; Rinkesh Roy, Chairman, Paradip Port Trust (Directors); and Anoop Sharma, CMD, Shipping Corporation of India (Independent Director).
 
“With this transfer of the shares and management and control, of the company, it is expected that the company will have more operational and financial freedom in decision-making which would enable the company to take up and execute more works in an efficient way,” the release said.
 
DCIL was incorporated on March 29, 1976, as a wholly-owned Government-owned company. The GOI disinvested 1.44%, 20%, 5% and subsequently 0.09% (employee offer) of its share holding in the company in the years 1992, 2004, 2015 and 2016, respectively. 
 
The company undertakes capital dredging, maintenance dredging, beach nourishment, land reclamation, shallow water dredging, project management consultancy and marine construction for major ports and the Indian Navy, among  others.
 
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India’s forex reserves soar by $ 2.559 billion to $ 401.776 billion

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Continuing an uptrend for the third consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves soared by a whopping $ 2.559 billion to $ 401.776 billion during the week ended March 1, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had gone up by $ 944.7 million to $ 399.217 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement issued here today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 2.061 billion to $ 374.060 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves increased by $ 488.7 million to $ $ 23.253 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went up by $ 3.0 million to $ 1.463 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 6.2 million to $ 2.9998 billion, the bulletin added.
 
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Goyal lays foundation stone for new coaching terminal at Nemom in Kerala

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Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal laid the foundation stone for a new coaching terminal at Nemom, near Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, and unveiled the WAP-7HS passenger locomotive through video conferencing from here on Thursday.
 
Railway Board Member (Traction) Ghanshyam Singh, Member (Rolling Stock) Rajesh Agarwal and Member (Engineering) Vishwesh Chaubey and other senior railway officers were present on the occasion.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Goyal said that the present Government has consistently focused on development for all areas in the country. Focus has been on large scale infrastructure creation, both physical and social, he said.
 
He said the new coaching terminal at Nemom in the Thiruvananthapuram Division of Southern Railway would help in decongesting the already overloaded current coaching terminals. With the commencement of work at this new coaching terminal, Indian Railways can start providing large number of new trains which will either originate or terminate in Thiruvananthapuram, he said.
 
The Minister said there were no Unmanned Level Crossings in the entire state of Kerala and all the stations have been converted to 100 % LED lighting. 
 
He said Indian Railways were committed to faster development of Kerala and to make the state a better tourism destination which will help transform the local economy and give a big boost to the generation of employment and improve customer amenities and facilities for all the people using trains in Kerala. 
 
The high-speed WAP-7 HS locomotive has been indigenously developed at the Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) in West Bengal.
 
“The most powerful passenger locomotive over the Indian Railways which will be capable of hauling 24 coaches instead of 140 Kmph now at 160 kmph has been designed and manufactured at CLW by our own engineers and by our own workers, making the entire nation proud of the Indian engineering talent and Indian skilled manpower talent. This new engine will help us serve the larger distances much faster and will reduce pollution level and will improve the operation initially of the premium trains.”
 
WAP-7 is the most powerful passenger locomotive over Indian Railways capable of hauling 24-coach high speed trains. However, the maximum service speed of locomotive is 140 kmph. 
 
Railways have undertaken a project for upgradation of speed potential of WAP-7 locomotives from 140 kmph to 160 kmph. It will be put into service after statuary tests and trials. The new type of locomotive is expected to facilitate operation of premium trains such as Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duranto at higher speed.
 
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Cabinet approves creation of post of Technical Member in SAT, Mumbai

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The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a proposal for creation of the post of Technical Member in the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT), Mumbai at the level of Secretary to the Government of India.
 
The post will be in the pay scale of Rs. 2,25,000 (fixed) or Level 17 of the Pay Matrix as per the 7th Pay Commission, an official press release said.
 
According to it, the decision will facilitate the creation of an additional bench in SAT, Mumbai thereby allowing speedy disposal of the increased number of appeals with respect to Securities and Exchanges Board of India, (SEBI), Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA) and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), which will be much beneficial to investors, pensioners and the general public. 
 
"The securities market and insurance sector are growing rapidly. With increase in the volume of trading in securities market, and clients in the insurance sector, it is likely that the grievances will also increase. Therefore, it is necessary that a speedy redressal system is established. It would ensure speedy disposal of appeal cases related to insurance, securities market and pension benefitting the general public," the release added.
 
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Income tax exemption for gratuity enhanced to Rs. 20 lakhs

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The Ministry of Finance has enhanced the income tax exemption for gratuity under section 10 (10) (iii) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to Rs. 20 lakh.
 
Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar has expressed hope that this would benefit those employees of PSUs and other employees not covered by Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 and has thanked the Finance Minister for enhancing the exemption limit.
 
An official press release said the ceiling of gratuity amount under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 has been raised from time to time keeping in view over-all economic condition and employers capacity to pay and the salaries of the employees, which have been increased in private sector and in PSUs.  
 
The latest such enhancement of ceiling of gratuity was made vide Government of India Notification dated 29.03.2018 under which the gratuity amount ceiling has been increased from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh with effect from March 29, 2018.
 
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Cabinet approves recommendations of GoM on report of HLEC on Stressed Thermal Power Projects

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday approved the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM) that had examined the report of the High Level Empowered Committee (HLEC) constituted to address the issues of Stressed Thermal Power Projects.
 
The CCEA has approved recommendations of the GoM mainly relating to grant of linkage coal for short-term PPA, allowed existing coal linkage to be used in case of termination of PPAs due to payment default by DISCOMs, procurement of bulk power by a nodal agency against pre-declared linkages, Central/State Gencos may act as an aggregator of power, increase in quantity of coal for special forward e-auction for power sector, coal linkage auctions to be held at regular intervals, non-lapsing of short supplies of coal, ACQ to be determined based on efficiency, payment of Late Payment Surcharge (LPS) made mandatory, non-cancellation of PPA/FSA/LTOA post NCLT scenario and non-cancellation of PPA for non-compliance of COD. 
 
With the implementation of these recommendations, many of the issues affecting the thermal power sector are likely to get resolved, an official press release said.
 
The Government of India constituted the HLEC under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary to address the issues of stressed thermal power projects. The committee made its recommendations to resolve the stress in thermal power sector and submitted its report in November, 2018. The report of HLEC is available on the website of Ministry of Power. 
 
The Government thereafter constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to examine the specific recommendations of HLEC and forward its comments for consideration of the Cabinet. Subsequently GoM recommended majority of HLEC recommendations, the release added.
 
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CCEA approves Mumbai Urban Transport Project Phase-IIIA

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday approved Phase-IIIA of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project. 
 
The total estimated cost of the project is Rs. 30,849 crore with completion cost of Rs. 33690 crore.  The project is likely to be completed in five years, an official press release said.
 
Introduction of air-conditioned coaches with automatic door operation will improve comfort level and safety of commuters. Seamless travel for long distance suburban passengers will be ensured by extending and creating corridors. There will be improvement in passenger amenities, and passenger movement at stations. It will decongest entry/exit at the stations.
 
Increase in safety, capacity and efficiency of suburban network will be ensured by introduction of Communication Based Train Control System. There will be segregation of suburban rail operation on Central and Western Railway, the release said.
 
The Mumbai suburban railway network on Central and Western Railways has 385 route kms.  There are five corridors, two on Western Railway, two on Central Railway and one on Harbour Line. 
 
Every day about 8.0 million people travel in the suburban sections in more than 3000 train services.  There is severe overcrowding in the suburban trains and during peak hours, passengers carried are more than four times the carrying capacity, the release added.
 
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Government intervenes to support sugar sector and cane farmers

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday gave its approval for funds amounting to Rs 2,790 crore towards interest subvention for extending indicative loan amount of Rs 12,900 crore by banks to the sugar mills.
 
This will be under the scheme for extending financial assistance to sugar mills for enhancement and augmentation of ethanol production capacity for the 268 applications/proposals, in addition to Rs.1332 crore already approved by CCEA in June, 2018, an official press release said.
 
CCEA has also approved Rs 565 crore towards interest subvention for extending indicative loan amount of Rs 2,600 crore by banks to the molasses based standalone distilleries.
 
The money will be used to augment capacity through installation of incineration boilers and other methods in the existing distilleries for achieving ZLD and additional equipment for ethanol production.
 
It will also go towards setting up of new standalone distilleries for ethanol production.  A separate scheme for the molasses based standalone distilleries would be formulated accordingly by Department of Food & Public Distribution.
 
In continuation of the earlier scheme approved by the CCEA in June, 2018, the meeting approved the proposal for extending soft loans of about Rs. 15,500 crore through banks to sugar mills and molasses based standalone distilleries under the scheme, it said.
 
The financial assistance will be for enhancement and augmentation of ethanol production capacity for which Government will bear further interest subvention amounting to Rs 3,355 crore for five years including moratorium period of one year, the release added.
 
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Cabinet okays rebate of state and Central embedded taxes to support the textile sector

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The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a scheme to rebate state and Central embedded taxes to support the textile Sector. 
 
This will enable the government to take various measures for making exports of apparel and made-ups zero rated, an official press release said.
 
At present, apparel and made-ups segments are supported under the scheme for Rebate of State Levies (RoSL). However, certain state as well as Central taxes continued to be present in the cost of exports.
 
The Cabinet decision provides for a scheme to rebate all embedded state and Central taxes and levies for apparel and made-ups which have a combined share of around 56% in India’s textile export basket. Rebate of taxes and levies has been permitted through an IT-driven scrip system at notified rates the release said.
 
The decision is expected to boost India’s competitiveness in export markets and ensure equitable and inclusive growth of the textile and apparel sector.
 
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