Shipping Ministry seeks 5% of Central Road Fund for waterways

The Shipping Ministry has mooted a proposal to utilize part of the fuel cess collected for building national highways for expansion of National Waterways as well, Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari said here today.
“My Ministry has prepared the proposal, but the final decision will be taken by the Ministry of Finance. I am pursuing the matter," he said at the Infrastructure Session of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Convention here.
He said his Ministry had sought allocation of 5% of the Central Road Fund for development of Inland Waterways. 
Central Road Fund is a non-lapsable fund created under the Central Road Fund Act 2000 out of a cess imposed on petrol and high-speed diesel. The funds are meant to be used to develop and maintain national highways, state roads and railway over and under bridges. The move to seek a pie in the CRF follows government’s ambitious plan to tap India’s vast network of rivers and canals stretching 14,500 kms for moving goods. 
“It is far cheaper to transport goods by water as compared to road or rail. Currently cargo movement along the five existing national waterways is a paltry 3% of all cargo movement in India. We want to raise the share of waterways in overall cargo movements to 15%," Mr. Gadkari said.
Business and political leaders such as State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya; Dinesh Keskar from Boeing; PS Jayakumar of Bank of Baroda; SIDBI Chairman Kshatrapati Shivaji and BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi participated in the inaugural day of the annual convention.
Mr. Gadkari said the ambitious Sagarmala programme launched by the Government for port-led development aimed to change the way logistics evacuation happens in India, save logistics costs nationwide for cargo handled and evacuated through seaports, boost overall economic development through ports and empower coastal communities.
“The Sagarmala project has the potential to significantly reduce the logistics cost. The project would serve industrial clusters and help generate employment opportunities," he said, inviting investment in the project.
He said the Government intended to construct 41 km of roads per day from the present 22 km per day. He said the Government has removed constraints such as land acquisition, forest and environment clearances and have fast-tracked many processes, de-risking private participation in the road sector.
Speaking at the event on the advent of alternate delivery channels, Ms. Bhattacharya said, “Actually, if you go to our branches and see the number of footfalls, then you will realise that India has a very peculiar demography. It is a young country with a median age of 26.2, I am told. But it has also got a lot of people who are of the older generation. And the older generation people still believe in brick-and-mortar banking. So, in the next 10-12 years I don’t think the need for branches will disappear. It will still be there.”
Mr. Keskar said, "Boeing has contributed largely to India since its presence. We see there is huge scope in the aviation sector. The government has announced 32 more airports to be operational which will help to grown regional connectivity. . The Air India has recently got into operational profit which is good thing. India will need more planes."
“Recent forecast on Indian aviation sector released by the company says that the country will need 1850 new aircraft worth $265 billion in the next 20 years," he said.
He said the purchase of Boeing 787s had also led to India adding new routes. He also added that recently in Nagpur,  Tata Group’s TAL manufacturing solutions delivered the  5000th floor beam to  Boeing. 
Mr. Ketan Dalal, Managing Partner, PwC, said, “India will grow at 8 % and the growth will come from 3 baskets – a) High value – Infra & Pharma b) Value Chain & c) Bollywood. The growth will come from sectors like Defense equipment, Coal, Digital, Pharma, Chemical, Infra, Education & Healthcare. Large investment is likely to come to India. There is clarity now on Taxation, Digital initiative, Liberalization in FDI, Defined legislation all will help India GDP."
IACC National President and Convention Chair Lalit Kanodia said “India needs around 1.6 trillion USD worth of investment by 2025 to achieve its winning leap growth. A majority of this investment will be directed to sectors like technology, infrastructure, services, A&D, all of which are currently nascent in India but poised for huge growth. We feel that Indo-US bilateral trade can play a significant role in boosting this growth."

Ashok Chawla appointed Non-Executive Part-Time Chairman of Yes Bank

Ashok Chawla
Ashok Chawla
Former Finance Secretary and Competition Commission of India Chairman Ashok Chawla will be the Non-Executive Part-time Chairman of Yes Bank.
A press release from the private sector bank said it had received approval for the appointment of Mr. Chawla from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Mr. Chawla, who will have a three-year term, will take charge with effect from October 30 upon the expirity of the term of the current Chairperson of the bank, Ms. Radha Singh. He had appointed as an Independent Director on the Board of Yes Bank on March 5, 2016.
A distinguished civil servant with over 40 years of experience in various sectors of the economy in India as well as in international multilateral agencies, Mr. Chawla has a Master's in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics (1972). He joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1973. 
He started his career in Gujarat and held various positions, including Chief Executive of important state-owned enterprises. Among others, he was the head of Sardar Sarovar Narmada multi-purpose project. In the late 1980s, he was posted as Economic Counsellor in the Indian Embassy in Washington, United States. 
Between 1998 and 2011, Mr. Chawla worked in several senior positions in the Union Government. He served as Secretary, Civil Aviation and Secretary, Economic Affairs, before being named Finance Secretary.
He has been on the Boards of Reserve Bank of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, State Bank of India and Life Insurance Corporation of India. He was also at different points in time India's Executive Director on the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Alternate Governor for India at the World Bank and at the Asian Development Bank.
Mr. Chawla had also held leadership positions in the corporate sector. He has been Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited and a Director in the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). He served as Chairman of the Competition Commission of India during 2011-2016. 
Mr. Chawla is also currently the Chairman of the National Stock Exchange of India Limited, and Chairman of the Governing Council of The Energy and Research Institute (TERI).

India's forex reserves go up by $ 73.2 million to $ 365.822 billion

Rising for the third consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves increased by $ 73.2 million to $ 365.822 billion in the week ended August 12, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had gone up by $ 253.6 million to $ 365.749 billion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had, risen by $ 81.6 million to $ 340.36 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 remained changed at $ 21.584 billion while its special drawing rights decreased by $ 3.2 million to $ 1.486 billion.
India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fell by $ 5.2 million to $ 2.392 billion, the bulletin added.

L&T Infotech, Coupa form strategic partnership for cloud-based Spend Management Solutions

IT services provider Larsen & Toubro Infotech (LTI) today announced a strategic partnership with Coupa, a leader in cloud-based spend management and procurement software platform.
The partnership will enable enterprises to rationalize spends, achieve measurable savings, control costs and improve cash management, a press release from the company said.
Coupa offers comprehensive solutions for items such as Procure-to-Pay, Travel & Expense Management, Invoicing, e-sourcing, Supplier Management and Contract Management, it said.
As part of the partnership, LTI will establish a Coupa Center of Excellence (CoE) to strengthen its Coupa practice. 
The CoE will develop spend management solutions to help companies control and regulate all forms of spend in the organization and streamline the procurement process by opportunity identification, proposals, requisitioning, contract management, invoicing and settlement, the release said.
“LTI and Coupa are innovative leaders that provide companies with the latest technology solutions and services needed to help build profitable, interactive businesses,” said Roger Goulart, Vice President of Business Development and Alliances, Coupa. 
“Together, we share a commitment to helping companies achieve success by arming them with the tools and support needed to become more competitive than ever.”
“Global organizations are looking for spend management solutions that can enhance responsiveness and effectiveness of their procurement efforts, ultimately leading to higher profitability,” said Aftab Ullah, Chief Operating Officer, LTI. “This partnership will add to the capabilities of our Cloud Apps practice and enable us to help our clients modernize and transform these functions.”
The partnership will help global companies improve supplier relations and mitigate supplier risks. It will focus on customer success and transform traditional procurement departments into next generation digital procurement organizations, the release added.

Piramal Enterprises to acquire Ash Stevens, US based CDMO for high potency APIs

Piramal Enterprises Limited (PEL) today said its wholly owned subsidiary in the United States had entered into an agreement to acquire 100% stake in Ash Stevens Inc., a US based contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) of high potency active pharmaceutical ingredients (HPAPIs).
A press release from the company said it would be an all-cash deal for a consideration of $ 42.95 million plus an earn-out consideration capped at $10 million. 
This potential transaction is expected to be completed by the end of August, it said.
The release said that, located in Riverview, Michigan, Ash Stevens has over 50 years of experience in contract manufacturing of and serves several biotech, mid-size pharma, and large pharmaceutical clients worldwide.
With over 60,000 sq. ft. of facilities, eight chemical drug development and production laboratories, and six full-scale production areas, Ash Stevens has built a stellar reputation, led by science, driven by operational excellence, and one that emphasizes quality as a culture. 
"As one of the leaders in HPAPI manufacture, Ash Stevens has an impeccable safety record of working with high potency anti-cancer agents and other highly potent therapeutics. The state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Michigan features all necessary engineering and containment controls for the safe handling and cGMP manufacture of small and large-scale HPAPIs, with Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) ? 0.1µg/m3. The facility has approvals from US, EU, Australia, Japan, Korea, Mexico regulatory agencies," the release said.
“The acquisition of Ash Stevens fits well with our strategy to build an asset platform that offers value to our partners and collaborators. Currently, around 25% of the molecules in clinical development are potent. Our clients are looking for reliable partners that can assist them in advancing these programs forward,” said Vivek Sharma, CEO of Piramal Pharma Solutions.
“North America is a key market that we can now service with our three local facilities - the Coldstream Labs in Kentucky for fill finish needs, the Torcan facility in Toronto for complex high value API’s and now, Ash Stevens in Michigan for HPAPIs. Having facilities with a differentiated platform and geographical proximity to clients are keys towards building strategic partnerships. We expect this acquisition to also be synergistic with our Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) and injectable business. We can now fulfill client requirements for a single source of supply for both high potent APIs and drug products," he added.
“With its rich history of scientific excellence, a track record of 12 product launches, Ash Stevens is well poised to become the partner of choice for clients looking to advance programs from early development through launch. In addition to the business benefits that the combined entity will bring to our clients, I am also pleased that the firms share common core values: both were founded by successful entrepreneurs, value integrity, and are committed to a customer-first approach”, said Dr. Mark Cassidy, President of the API Business at Piramal Pharma Solutions, “I am pleased to welcome the Ash Stevens team into the Piramal group. We expect them to be an integral part of our future growth plans.”
Added Dr. Stephen Munk, CEO of Ash Stevens, “We look forward to working with the Piramal leadership and management team, to develop API solutions that benefit customers and improve the lives of patients. The commitment that Piramal has shown towards growing its healthcare businesses, coupled with the complementary capabilities that our two firms have, makes this an exciting time for Ash Stevens and our employees. We have already identified areas where we can create significant value together, and will be moving forward rapidly to achieve those objectives.”
The transaction is not subject to any regulatory approvals. No related party of PEL has any interest in Ash Stevens, the release added.

India's forex reserves rise by $ 253.6 million to $ 365.749 billion

Rising for the second consecutive week, India's foreign exchange reserves went up by $ 253.6 million to $ 365.749 bilion in the week ended August 5, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had soared by $ 2.808 billion to $ 365.496 billion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had, however, decreased by $ 765.4 million to $ 340.278 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 $ 1.008 billion to $ 21.584 billion while its special drawing rights (SDR) rose by$ 4.1 million to $ 1.489 billion.
India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 6.7 million to $ 2.397 billion, the bulletin added.

Global gold demand touches record high in H1, driven by western investors

Global gold demand reached 2,335 tonnes (t) in the first half of 2016 with investment reaching record H1 levels, 16% higher than the previous record in H1 2009, according to the World Gold Council’s latest Gold Demand Trends report.
The first half of the year saw increases for jewellery demand in the United States (up 1%) and Iran (up 10%), while the customary powerhouses of China and India saw drops in the second quarter (Q2) of 15% to 144t and 20% to 98t, respectively. 
India was further impacted by rural incomes remaining under pressure, as well as the government’s decision to increase excise duty, a press release from the Council said.
Meanwhile, China faced a challenging quarter against a relatively soft economic backdrop and the implementation of new hallmarking legislation in May, it said.
The report said Q2 2016 continued in the same vein as the first quarter this year with overall gold demand growing to 1,050t, up 15% from the Q2 2015 figure of 910t, boosted by considerable and consistent investment demand.
Investment demand reached 448t as investors sought risk diversification and a safe store of value in the face of continued political, economic and social instability. 
Exchange traded funds (ETFs) had a stellar first half of the year at almost 580t due to the additional inflows in Q2 of 237t. Bar and coin demand was also up in a number of markets in Q2, including the US at 25t (up 101%), leading to H1 bar and coin investment of 485t, 4% higher than the first half last year.
A cause and effect of the growth in investment demand was a 25% rise in the US$ gold price, the strongest H1 price gain since 1980. This contributed to lacklustre consumer purchasing, particularly in price sensitive markets. 
Central bank demand decreased 40% in Q2 2016 (77t), compared to 127t in the same period last year, resulting in net purchases for H1 now totalling 185t. While this quarter was the lowest level of net purchases since Q2 2011, it comes amid a significant rise in gold prices over H1, dramatically increasing the value of central bank gold holdings to US$1.4trn. Central banks are still expected to be key contributors to global demand, as gold provides diversification from currency reserves and, most notably, the dollar.
Alistair Hewitt, Head of Market Intelligence at the World Gold Council, said, “The strength of this quarter’s demand means that the first half of 2016 has been the second highest for gold on record, weighing in at 2,335t. The global picture for gold is dominated by considerable and continued investment demand driven by the West as investors rebalance their investments in response to the ever-expanding pool of negative yielding government bonds and heightened political and economic uncertainty."
"The foundations for this demand are strong and diverse, drawing on a broad spectrum of investors accessing gold via a range of products, with gold-backed ETFs and bars and coins performing particularly strongly. But the global gold market is, and has always been, based on balance: so whilst investment is currently the largest component of demand, we see a gradual return for the jewellery market in the second half of 2016," he said.
Total supply for Q2 2016 saw an increase of 10% to 1,145t compared to 1,042t in the second quarter of 2015. The primary driver of this increase was recycling, which saw a significant rise  of 23%, as consumers capitalised on the rising gold price, leading to first half recycled gold supply of 687t, 10% higher than the 626t seen in H1 2015. Mine production remained broadly flat at 787t (790t in Q2 2015), while gold producers added 30t to the hedgebook.

RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 6.5%, CRR at 4.0%

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today kept its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.5 percent, saying it was appropriate for it to do so while awaiting space for policy action.
In the third Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement for 2016-17, the last, incidentally, by outgoing RBI Governor Raghuram G. Rajan, the central bank also, on the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, kept the cash reserve ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks unchanged at 4.0 per cent of net demand and time liabilities (NDTL).
It said it would continue to provide liquidity as required but progressively lower the average ex ante liquidity deficit in the system from one per cent of NDTL to a position closer to neutrality.
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF will remain unchanged at 6.0 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 7.0 per cent.
Dr. Rajan said that the stance of monetary policy remained accommodative and would continue to emphasise the adequate provision of liquidity. Easy liquidity conditions are already prompting banks to modestly transmit past policy rate cuts through their MCLRs and pro-active liquidity management should facilitate more pass-through.
He recalled that the refinements to the liquidity management framework effected in April 2016 were intended to smooth the supply of durable liquidity over the year using asset purchases and sales as needed, and progressively lower the average ex ante liquidity deficit in the system to a position closer to neutrality. 
"The Reserve Bank intends to continue with this strategy, with the intention of closing the underlying liquidity deficit over time so that the system moves to a position of structural balance. As regards the management of the imminent FCNR(B) redemptions, the Reserve Bank has been frontloading liquidity provision through open market operations and spot interventions/deliveries of forward purchases. 
"The Reserve Bank will continue with both domestic liquidity operations and foreign exchange interventions that should also enable management of the FCNR(B) redemptions without market disruptions. With a view to further front-loading the provision of liquidity, it has been decided to conduct an open market purchase auction on August 11, 2016. Details are being announced separately," he said.
The statement said that, since the second bi-monthly statement of June 2016, several developments have clouded the outlook for the global economy.
"Across advanced economies (AEs), growth in Q2 of 2016 has been slower than anticipated, and the outlook is still mixed. Headwinds in the United States from declining inventory investment were offset somewhat by strong payroll numbers. In the Euro area, the re-emergence of stress in some parts of the banking sector and the Brexit vote increased uncertainty. In Japan, downside risks have intensified in the form of a stronger yen, deflationary risks and contracting industrial production, triggering monetary and fiscal stimuli," it said.
"World trade remains sluggish in the first half of 2016. International financial markets did not anticipate the Brexit vote and equities plunged worldwide, currency volatility increased and investors herded into safe havens. Since then, however, equity markets have regained lost ground. Currencies, barring the pound sterling, have stabilised, with the yen appreciating the most on risk-on demand as well as the announcement of fresh stimulus. Yields on government bonds have fallen further and the universe of negative yielding assets is expanding at a fast pace, reflecting high risk aversion and expectations of further monetary accommodation by systemic central banks. Crude prices, which had risen to an intra-year high in May on supply disruptions, remain volatile. Other commodity prices, barring those of precious metals, remain soft due to weak demand," he said.
Dr. Rajan said that, on the domestic front, several factors are helping to support the recovery. After a delayed onset, the south west monsoon picked up vigorously from the third week of June. By early August, the cumulative rainfall was 3 per cent higher than the long period average, with more than 80 per cent of the country receiving normal to excess precipitation. Kharif sowing strengthened after a lacklustre start, particularly with respect to pulses. Barring cotton, jute and mesta, sowing of all crops is currently above last year’s acreage. These developments engender greater confidence about the near-term outlook for value added in agriculture. The target for kharif production set by the Ministry of Agriculture appears within reach.
He noted that industrial production picked up in May on the back of manufacturing and mining, following a contraction in the preceding month. The uneven performance of industrial output reflects the lumpy and order-driven contraction of insulated rubber cables, a component of capital goods. Excluding this item, industrial production rose at 3.0 per cent in the current financial year. In fact, capital goods production excluding insulated rubber cables expanded by 8.0 per cent. Nonetheless, the prolonged sluggishness in the capital goods sector is indicative of weak investment demand. The rate of contraction in consumer non-durables slowed, pointing to some revival in rural demand. On the other hand, the pace of growth of consumer durables has been stable and buoyed by urban consumption demand, although it eased in May on base effects. 
"Barring the contraction in natural gas and crude oil on account of structural bottlenecks, the core sector has been resilient as of 2016-17 so far, and should support industrial activity going forward. There are some signs of green shoots in manufacturing too, with purchasing managers and the Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey indicating a pick-up in new orders, both domestic and external. Business confidence is also looking up in recent months, though the Reserve Bank’s survey for March 2016 suggests that capacity utilisation, seasonally adjusted, is still weak," he said.
The statement said that service sector purchasing managers polled the thirteenth successive month of expansion in July on the basis of a sharp acceleration in new business. Business expectations remained optimistic on better economic conditions and planned increases in marketing budgets. High frequency indicators of service sector activity are still, however, emitting mixed signals, although a larger number of indicators are in acceleration mode in Q1 of 2016-17 than in the preceding quarter. Automobile sales across most segments, railway, port and international air freight traffic, foreign tourist arrivals, and domestic air passenger traffic are providing the underlying momentum for the upturn. The gradual improvement in the services sector is getting broad-based.
According to the statement, retail inflation measured by the headline consumer price index (CPI) rose to a 22-month high in June, with a sharp pick-up in momentum overwhelming favourable base effects. The rise was mainly driven by food, with vegetable inflation higher than the usual seasonal rise at this time of the year. Sugar prices also firmed up due to a decline in domestic production after two successive years of drought. While pulses inflation started moderating, prices of pulses have been rising again since April after a short-lived correction in the previous quarter. Inflation pressures are also incipient in cereals. These developments fed through into households’ inflation expectations three months ahead, reversing the decline seen in the last two quarters, it said.
Fuel inflation remained subdued, mainly due to sustained deflation in prices of liquefied petroleum gas. Excluding food and fuel, inflation eased across major sub-groups. Further excluding petrol and diesel from transport, inflation fell below 5 per cent for the first time since the introduction of the combined CPI. Softer inflation readings were recorded across services constituents in health, education, personal care and effects, and other categories of household consumption. Rural wage growth has been rising albeit moderately, driven up by wages of agricultural labourers. On the other hand, staff costs in the organised sector were relatively restrained, it said.
The statement said liquidity conditions eased significantly during June and July on the back of increased spending by the Government which more than offset the reduction in market liquidity because of higher-than-usual currency demand. The injection of durable liquidity through purchases under open market operations (OMOs), amounting to Rs. 805 billion so far, also helped in easing liquidity conditions, bringing the system-level ex ante liquidity deficit to close to neutrality (albeit without seasonal adjustment). Accordingly, the average daily liquidity operation switched from net injection of liquidity of Rs. 370 billion in June to net absorption of Rs. 141 billion in July and Rs. 405 billion in August (up to August 8). 
The Reserve Bank conducted variable rate repos and reverse repos of varying tenors in order to manage evolving liquidity conditions, with a more active use of reverse repos to manage the surplus liquidity. Reflecting the easy liquidity conditions, the weighted average call rate (WACR) and money market weighted average rate remained on average 15 basis points below the policy repo rate since June. Interest rates on other money market instruments such as certificates of deposit (CDs) and commercial paper (CPs) have also declined in both the primary and secondary markets.
"In the external sector, merchandise export growth moved into positive territory in June after eighteen months. This upturn was reasonably widespread, covering chemicals, marine products, handicraft, plastic, rice, electronic and engineering goods. On the other hand, imports continued to decline, albeit at a slower pace than in recent months. While lower crude oil prices continued to compress the POL import bill, domestic demand for gold remained muted, with domestic gold prices trading at a discount vis-a-vis international prices. Non-oil non-gold imports continued to shrink, pulled down by coal, fertilisers, ores, iron and steel and machinery and transport equipment. Cumulatively, the trade deficit narrowed in Q1 of 2016-17 on a year-on-year basis. Net receipts on account of services remained flat in April-May 2016, with net outflow under communication services and sluggish software earnings. While the pace of foreign direct investment inflows slowed in the first two months of 2016-17, net portfolio flows were stronger after the Brexit vote, notwithstanding considerable volatility characterising these flows. The level of foreign exchange reserves rose to US$ 365.7 billion by August 5, 2016," the statement added.
Dr. Rajan said that the recent sharper-than-anticipated increase in food prices had pushed up the projected trajectory of inflation over the rest of the year. 
"Moreover, prices of pulses and cereals are rising and services inflation remains somewhat sticky. There are early indications, however, that prices of vegetables are edging down. Going forward, the strong improvement in sowing on the back of the monsoon’s steady progress, along with supply management measures, augers well for the food inflation outlook. The prospects for inflation excluding food and fuel are more uncertain; if the current softness in crude prices proves to be transient and as the output gap continues to close, inflation excluding food and fuel may likely trend upwards and counterbalance the benefit of the expected easing of food inflation. 
"In addition, the full implementation of the recommendations of the 7th central pay commission (CPC) on allowances will affect the magnitude of the direct effect of house rents on the CPI. On balance, inflation projections as given in the June bi-monthly statement, i.e. of a central trajectory towards 5 per cent by March 2017 with risks tilted to the upside, are retained.
"Looking ahead, the momentum of growth is expected to be quickened by the normal monsoon raising agricultural growth and rural demand, as well as by the stimulus to consumption spending that can be expected from the disbursement of pay, pension and arrears following the implementation of the 7th CPC’s award. The passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill augurs well for the growing political consensus for economic reforms. While timely implementation of GST will be challenging, there is no doubt that it should raise returns to investment across much of the economy, even while strengthening government finances over the medium-term. This should boost business sentiment and eventually investment.
"The current accommodative stance of monetary policy and comfortable liquidity conditions should also provide a congenial environment for the reinvigoration of aggregate demand conditions. However, successive downgrades of global growth projections by multilateral agencies and the continuing sluggishness in world trade points to further slackening of external demand going forward. Accordingly, the GVA growth projection for 2016-17 is retained at 7.6 per cent, with risks facing the economy at this juncture evenly balanced around it. 
"Risks to the inflation target of 5 per cent for March 2017 continue to be on the upside. Furthermore, while the direct statistical effect of house rent allowances under the 7th CPC’s award may be looked through, its impact on inflation expectations will have to be carefully monitored so as to pre-empt a generalisation of inflation pressures. In terms of immediate outcomes, much will depend on the benign effects of the monsoon on food prices," he added.

Two dead, some more feared trapped after two-storeyed building collapses in Bhiwandi

Two dead, some others trapped as two-storeyed building collapses
At least two persons died and some more are feared trapped after an old two-storeyed building collapsed in Bhiwandi, near here, in Thane district of Maharashtra this morning.
Thane Police officials told NetIndian over the telephone that the incident occurred around 7.30 am today.
They said two bodies had been found and rescue teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the local fire brigade, police and the municipal corporation were searching for some more people reported missing.
Two families were staying in the dilapidated building, located in the Hanuman Tekri area, and about eight to ten people were reported missing, they said.
The local authorities had issued a notice some time ago advising the residents to vacate the rickety structure, but the two families had not done so, they said.
This is the second such incident in Bhiwandi town, known for its powerloom industry, in a week.
On July 31, eight persons had died and 22 others suffered injuries when a three-storyeyed building collapsed in the Gabinagar area of the town.

Raigad bridge collapse: 22 bodies recovered, search area to be expanded

Mahad bridge collapse: Death toll reaches 22
As many as 22 bodies have so far been recovered and identified so far by search and rescue teams after a British-era bridge across the swollen Savitri river in Raigad district of Maharashtra, on the Mumbai-Goa highway, collapsed late on Tuesday night following which two state transport buses were reported missing.
The bridge, the older one of a pair of parallel bridges near Mahad town, about 170 km south of Mumbai, collapsed around 11.30 pm on Tuesday in the wake of continuous rainfall in Mahabaleshwar and other areas in the catchment region of the river.
Search and rescue teams from the local police, fire brigade and other emergency services, including the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), have been working round the clock since then to trace the missing people.
A helicopter of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) as well as boats and rafts had been pressed into service in the search and rescue operations.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir reviewed the search and rescue operations during a visit to Maharashtra yesterday.
An official press release said Mr. Ahir directed NDRF to expand its search and rescue operations beyond the present 15 kms to an area 30 kms downstream. 
Officials said 22 bodies have been recovered and identified so far, it said.
Accompanied by Mr. Anant Geete, Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Mr. Ahir visited the site of mishap yesterday. The two Union Ministers reviewed the search and rescue operations at a meeting with the District Collector, Superintendent of Police, Officers of District Administration and the NDRF.
Mr. Ahir assured all possible help from the Central Government, it said.
Apart from the two buses, at least two cars were also reported to have crashed into the river when the bridge collapsed suddenly. There is no accurate estimate of the number of people missing.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh to the next-of-kin of those killed in the incident.

India's forex reserves soar by $ 2.808 billion to $ 365.496 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves soared by $ 2.808 billion to $ 365.496 billion in the week ended July 29, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had dipped by $ 664 million to $ 362.687 billion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 2.786 billion to $ 341.044 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 remained unchanged at $ 20.576 billion while its special drawing rights (SDR) rose by $ 8. 5million to $ 1.485 billion.
India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 13.6 million to $ 2.391 billion, the bulletin added.

Nita Ambani gets elected at Rio, becomes first Indian woman in IOC

Nita Ambani
Nita Ambani
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced that leading Indian philanthropist and Founder-Chairperson of the Reliance Foundation Nita Ambani has been elected as an individual member of the IOC, and will become India’s first woman to join the prestigious body.
Ms. Ambani, wife of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, is the only individual member from India and her appointment at the world body is until she attains the age of 70.
After being nominated in June 2016 by the IOC Executive Board, Nita Ambani was elected by IOC members in Rio de Janeiro today at the 129th IOC Session.
The independent selection process follows a new procedure for the recruitment of IOC members based on the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendations; those nominated are done so wholly on merit and then elected by existing IOC members.
As Founder and Chairperson of the Reliance Foundation, Ms. Ambani has been steering initiatives in the area of education, sports, health and art and culture. She is involved in promoting multiple sports in the country with focus on developing talent through a number of large-scale grassroots initiatives. The grassroots programmes that she has initiated have reached out to over three million children in multiple sports. She is the architect of the Indian Super League which is galvanising Indian football.
“I am truly humbled and overwhelmed to be elected by the IOC. This is a recognition of the growing importance of India in the world stage and a recognition for Indian women," Ms. Ambani said.
“I have always believed in the power of sport to shape our youth. I believe that sports brings together communities, cultures, and generations has the power to unify and unite people. I look forward to spreading the spirit of Olympics and sports across our nation.”

Bridge on Mumbai-Goa highway collapses; 22 people, two buses reported missing

A British-era bridge across the swollen Savitri river in Raigad district of Maharashtra, on the Mumbai-Goa highway, collapsed late on Tuesday night after heavy rains in the area and two state transport buses with 22 people in them are reported missing, official sources said.

Bridge on Mumbai-Goa highway collapses
A British-era bridge across the swollen Savitri river in Raigad district of Maharashtra, on the Mumbai-Goa highway, collapsed late last night after heavy rains in the area and two state transport buses with 22 people in them are reported missing, official sources said.
The bridge, the older one of a pair of parallel bridges near Mahad town, about 170 km south of Mumbai, collapsed around 11.30 pm yesterday in the wake of continuous rainfall in Mahabaleshwar and other areas in the catchment region of the river.
Senior police officials in Raigad told NetIndian that search operations through the night had not yielded any trace of the missing persons or vehicles and there were no confirmed numbers in this regard.
They rescue teams from the local police, fire brigade and other emergency services had rushed to the scene and were searching the entire area for those reported missing.
A helicopter of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) as well as boats and rafts had been pressed into service in the search and rescue operations, they said.
Teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are expected to reach the spot soon, they said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on micro-blogging site Twitter that he was in touch with the Raigad district collector and superintendent of police and that the administration had launched search and rescue efforts immediately.
He said there were two parallel bridges across the river, including a new one and pointed out that it was the old one, constructed during British rule, that had collapsed.
"The primary reason seems to be the high pressure caused due to flooding of river Savitri due to heavy rains in catchment of Mahabaleshwar," he said.
Mr. Fadnavis said there was no confirmed assessment about casualties, but assured the people that the administration would ensure speed rescue and relief operations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Mr. Fadnavis over the telephone this morning and offered all help from the Centre in the rescue and relief efforts.
Traffic on the highway was stopped in the night but it was resumed on the new bridge this morning after ascertaining its strength and stability.
According to the police, the two missing buses, which were bound for Mumbai from Chiplun and Ratnagir, were carrying 11 persons each.

Coal to acetylene - the pit stop fixes

The manufacture of acetylene from coal is a path-breaking production route for the Indian chemical industry.
The manufacture of acetylene from coal is a path-breaking production route for the Indian chemical industry.
Coal, found in abundance in many countries, is a wonder feedstock for several major industries and utilities. During the early industrialisation era, coal was used as feedstock in the manufacture of most chemicals, which were derived through mainly the coal-to-acetylene route. 
However, the abundance of crude oil and natural gas has led to these replacing coal, and this proved beneficial for large-capacity production of polymers and petrochemicals despite the process being a complex one — a process using steam crackers. 
This production route requires significant unit sizes in order to realise economies of scale, and remain viable. It is indeed a good option when crude oil is available in plenty and at low cost.
In the case of relatively low volume, ’fit for purpose’ chemicals, the crude oil and natural gas route may not be a viable option especially when such feedstock is imported and the ‘mother’ feed molecules are obtained from mega scale plants that require considerable capex outlay. 
The last decade has seen significant volatility in global crude oil prices. However, even at falling prices, dependence on imports for feedstock poses a risk especially when large production setups are built around such imports. 
For several countries like India, China, Australia, Indonesia, etc, coal as a feedstock is available in abundance and at low prices. It makes sound business sense to exploit this feedstock instead, with due processes plugged in for efficiency.
Acetylene is a very versatile and reactive molecule and is known to be the ’mother of organic synthesis’; many chemicals can be derived from acetylene with relative ease. Manufacturing of relatively low-volume chemicals — for example VCM/PVC, VAM, acrylics, BDO, etc — can be potentially considered through the coal-acetylene route, which is a relatively low capex option more suited for distributed production. 
Further, this process facilitates the capture of the carbon content as a valuable chemical product and hence contains carbon emission.
The manufacture of acetylene from coal can be made efficient and cost-competitive through integrated process interventions at every stage of the production life cycle:
Managing the quality of coal: Coal drying, coal beneficiation, de-ashing of coal, efficient coal handling, and feedstock management and coal conversion.
Managing the conversion process: The process involves conversion of coal to carbide, carbide to acetylene, and conversion of acetylene to product molecule.
Energy integration and optimisation
Plant and process efficiencies
Managing the carbon fototprin: Coal ash management, carbon capture and re-utilisation.
Effective project evaluation, design and execution through the entire project life cycle.
Mahesh Marve
Mahesh Marve
Tata Consulting Engineers, through its wide knowledge base and expertise in coal, chemicals and logistics systems, can provide holistic support for this potentially path-breaking production route for the Indian chemical industry and contribute to the ‘Make in India’ campaign in a truly meaningful way.
Courtesy: Tata Review
Mahesh Marve is senior vice-president and chief technology officer, Tata Consulting Engineers

L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 1167 crore

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 1167 crore across various business segments.
These include orders valued at Rs. 843 crore bagged by its Water & Effluent Treatment Business from various customers.
Among them is an order from Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) for the construction of a second water storage reservoir in its  Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. The scope of the contract includes construction of an additional Balancing Reservoir of 12.32 million cubic meters storage capacity and erection of associated structures which will meet the water requirements and ensure uninterrupted production from the Vizag Steel plant, taking care of its expansion plans, too.
Another order was secured from Karnataka Urban Water Supply & Distribution Board (KUWSDB) for 24/7 Pressurized Water Supply for Tumkuru city. This contract encompasses upgrading the existing water supply system for conversion to 24/7 supply. The scope of the project includes improvements to the 50 MLD WTP, laying of 560 km pipeline network, metered house service connections and other associated infrastructure works.
The business also bagged an order from Public Health & Municipal Engineering Department (PHMED), Government of Andhra Pradesh for providing comprehensive Storm Water Drainage Scheme for Vijayawada city.
The release said the division's Metallurgical and Material Handling Business had bagged orders worth Rs. 259 crore, including add-ons.
A fresh order has been secured from Indian Oil Corporation Limited for the construction of Pet Coke Handling System in Haldia. This order is in sync with the company's strategy to increase market presence in Pet Coke Handling.
Additional orders worth Rs. 65 crore have been bagged by other businesses from various ongoing projects, the release added.

Eight dead, 22 injured in building collapse in Bhiwandi near Mumbai

8 dead, 22 hurt in Bhiwandi building collapse
As many as eight persons died and 22 others suffered injuries when a three-storyeyed building collapsed in Bhiwandi town of Thane district, near here, this morning.
Police officials in Thane told NetIndian over the telephone that the deceased included two women, five boys and a girl.
They said the injured -- five men, seven women, three boys and seven girls -- were extricated from the debris and rushed to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in the district, where 18 were admitted for treatment and four were discharged after first aid.
Sources said the building, located in the Gabinagar area of the town which is known for its powerloom industry, was in a dilapidated condition and came down around 9.30 am today.
The local municipal authorities had issued a notice asking residents of the building to vacate the premises and while many of them did heed the advice, some had not acted on the notice.
Senior officials and emergency personnel, including teams from disaster management agencies, the fire brigade and the local police, rushed to the spot immediately after hearing of the incident.

India's forex reserves dip by $ 664 million to $ 362.687 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 664 million to $ 362.687 billion in the week ended July 22, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had risen by $ 1.408 billion to $ 363.351 billion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone down by $ 640.7 million to $ 338.257 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 remained unchanged at $ 20.576 billion while its special drawing rights (SDR) went down by $ 9.1 million to $ 1.476 billion.
India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 14.2 million to $ 2.377 billion, the bulletin added.

Piramal Realty forays into commercial real estate

Piramal Realty, the real estate development arm of Piramal Group, has launched Piramal Agastya, a corporate park located on the arterial LBS Road at Kurla in the city.
This follows the success of its residential projects at Thane and Byculla a press release from the company said.
The release said Kurla is a strategic location that enjoys excellent connectivity being the epicenter of key infrastructure developments in Mumbai such as Santacruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR) and in close proximity of Mumbai Metro Phase 1 and Eastern Freeway. 
"Piramal Agastya Corporate Park will redefine the urban landscape with a well-connected state of the art commercial property in this fast growing business district of Kurla," it said.
Mr. Anand Piramal, Executive Director, Piramal Group said, “Piramal Realty aspires to build properties that represent world class standards of customer centricity, design construction and quality. Piramal Agastya, as one of Mumbai’s premier commercial addresses, integrates natural beauty with urban landscape inspired by biophilic design. Kurla is a rapidly changing urban blend of residential colonies, industrial estates and commercial enclaves. We believe, Piramal Agastya will add to the overall socio-economic development of the landscape and break new ground as the business environment of the future.”
Leveraging global expertise with the advantage of local market knowledge, Piramal Agastya Corporate Park is partners with internationally acclaimed companies such as Callison, Seattle (USA); SSA, India; L&T, India; Turner, USA; Buro Happold, UK; 
Priedemann, Germany; Arup Acoustics, Singapore; Belt Collins, Singapore; Max Security, Israel; and Lerch Bates, UK.
The release said the proposed development of Piramal Agastya Business Park will be completed in two phases. Phase I will cover an approximate leasable area of 1 million square feet. The project consists of three buildings; one at two level above ground and the others at six level above ground, both with two basement levels for dedicated parking spaces.
The Kurla area is home to numerous landmarks and close to key mega infrastructure projects. Bandra Kurla Complex and the business district of Powai are located in a radius of 3 and 6 kilometres. Premium retail and entertainment brands along with 5-star hotels are also situated in close vicinity, it said.
Piramal Group is one of India’s leading conglomerates with interests in pharmaceuticals, financial services, information management, glass packaging and real estate.  

Axis Bank to offer LIC's life insurance products to its customers

Axis Bank has signed a memorandum of understanding with Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), the country's largest life insurance company, to distribute LIC's multiple life insurance products to its customers.
While LIC has a market share of 76.8% in policies and 70.4% in first premium, Axis Bank is India's third largest private sector bank with a network of 3006 branches, incuding extension counters.
A press release from Axis Bank said this was one of the largest Bancassurance partnerships after the recent Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) regulations issued on open architecture framework for banks.
The release said that, in the preliminary phase, the bank would distribute LIC’s life insurance products across its branches in West Bengal, Bangalore and Haryana – Panchkula. Additionally, the bank will also provide post sales services such as premium collection and renewal of policies.
Mr. Mukesh Gupta, Executive Director, Bancassurance, LIC expressed that “the coming together of the two major reputed organisations would enable them to combine and utilise the synergies for enhancing customer satisfaction and for serving social objectives of the nation."
Mr. Rajiv Anand, Executive Director & Head Retail Banking, Axis Bank added, “Banks have increased their role in Insurance distribution with Bancassurance being the biggest contributor. Over the last five years the life insurance business at Axis Bank has grown at a CAGR of over 25%. The partnership with LIC would enable us to further expand our existing bouquet of offerings and put forth a compelling proposition for our customers.”
The bank will continue to invest in disruptive technologies to translate customer requirements into actionable insights and accordingly advice on the best fit policies from India’s leading insurance companies, the release added.

L&T Infotech, GE Digital in strategic partnership to develop digital industrial solutions

IT services provider L&T Infotech (LTI) has announced a strategic partnership with GE Digital that will combine LTI's diverse industrial capabilities with GE’s Predix cloud-based operating system for the Industrial Internet. 
LTI and GE Digital will collaborate to develop innovative digital-industrial solutions powered by Predix analytics and real-time insights to enhance competitiveness and transform the way companies manage their assets and workforce, a press release from the company said.
The release said LTI’s Industrial IoT Practice develops comprehensive solutions and applications encompassing smart sensors, connected machinery, real-time visualization and advanced analytics. 
As strategic partners, the two companies will synergize their group industrial heritage and domain expertise to deliver Predix-enriched applications for various industries like oil and gas; power & utilities; construction; and industrial manufacturing, it said.
"LTI and GE Digital will explore the concept of an Innovation Center to tap into their rich industry knowledge to quickly bring to market scalable digital solutions based on real-life scenarios," the release said.
Mr. Sanjay Jalona, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director, LTI said, “Our core vision is to deliver outcome-based innovations to the world’s leading companies and help them to solve their complex digital-industrial problems. Our clients will benefit from our dedicated IIoT Center of Excellence offering end-to-end consulting and implementation solutions.”
Mr. Denzil Samuels, Global Head of Channels and Alliances, GE Digital said, “L&T Infotech brings deep understanding and proven expertise in the various sectors like Engineering, Power, Construction, and Manufacturing. Our joint solutions in these industries will help companies improve utilization, reduce maintenance costs, and enhance efficiencies to be more competitive.”
Mr. Rohit Kedia, Chief Business Officer, Manufacturing, LTI said, “This partnership with GE enables us to better support our clients as they increasingly invest in digitization to not only transform their own operations, but to empower them to offer differentiated solutions to their clients as well.”

Eros International, Pooja Entertainment & Films align for release of Dishoom, Banjo

Film entertainment major Eros International Media limited and veteran producer Vashu Bhagnani's Pooja Entertainment & Films Ltd will jointly distribute the films Dishoom and Banjo in India.
A press release from Eros said this followed their strategic alliance announced recently.
Sajid Nadiadwala’s action drama Dishoom, directed by Rohit Dhawan, starring John Abraham, Varun Dhawan and Jacqueline Fernandez will release on Friday, July 29 while the musical drama Banjo, directed by Ravi Jadhav, starring Riteish Deshmukh and Nargis Fakhri will release on September 23, the release said.
Eros and Bhagnani announced their collaboration last month to jointly remake and distribute films including Bhagnani’s blockbuster hits of the '90s such as Hero No 1, Coolie No 1 and Bade Miyan Chote Miyan.

HCC wins Rs. 1750 crore contract from IRCON

Infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) today said it had won a prestigious contract worth Rs. 1749.59 crore from Ircon International Ltd to construct two tunnels and a bridge on th Katra - Banihal Section of Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla new broad gauge railway line project.
The project will be completed in 30 months, a press release from the company said.
The contract involves construction of two main tunnels (T13 and part of T14) totaling 12.8 km along with parallel safety tunnels, a 200 m bridge adjoining these two tunnels and a station yard at Basindadhar.
This is the fourth order HCC has been awarded by Ircon, a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Railways.
The first order was to construct the 11 km long Pir Panjal Railway tunnel, the longest transportation tunnel in India, which has been successfully commissioned.  The other two orders include construction of 10.2 km long T48 tunnel between Sumber and Sangaldan stations and 5.1 km long tunnel T49A, which are currently under construction.
Mr. Arun Karambelkar, President & CEO, HCC Ltd, said, “HCC is pioneer in tunnelling works with over 300 kms of tunnels constructed so far by various methodologies and in some of the most challenging geologies in the world. Besides, the company is currently engaged in tunnelling works of over 280 kms across various sectors. Repeat orders from Ircon reflect our expertise in executing complex projects under challenging conditions.” 
Ircon has been entrusted with the task to construct the Baramulla-Dharam section of the Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla rail link. The railway line from Baramulla to Quazigund (119 km) was made operational for the public in October 2009. The Pir Panjal tunnel constructed between Quazigund and Banihal was inaugurated in July 2013, extending the train service till Banihal.

INS Viraat sails on her own steam for one last time

Aircraft carrier sailing out from Mumbai for Kochi on her last sailing under her own steam, on July 23, 2016, ahead of her decommissioning later in the year.
Aircraft carrier sailing out from Mumbai for Kochi on her last sailing under her own steam, on July 23, 2016, ahead of her decommissioning later in the year.
India's aircraft carrier INS Viraat set sail from here for Kochi this afternoon for Essential Repairs and Dry Docking (ERDD) at the Cochin Shipyard on what is her last sailing under her own steam as she is slated for decommissioning later this year.
Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command and other senior officers of the command, visited the ship and interacted with the crew prior to her departure.
The carrier was escorted out of harbour by Fast Interceptor Craft and helicopters from the Western Naval Command. The ship will be towed back to Mumbai on completion of ERDD, for the decommissioning ceremony later this year.
INS Viraat was commissioned into the Indian Navy on May 12, 1987. The ship operated Sea Harrier (White Tigers - fighter aircraft), Seaking 42B (Harpoons - Anti Submarine helicopters),  Seaking 42C (Commando Carrier helicopters) and Chetak (Angles - SAR helicopter) as her main air elements. The Sea Harrier fleet was also recently decommissioned at Goa in May 16.
Under the Indian flag, various aircraft have flown more than 22,034 hours from the decks of INS Viraat. She has spent nearly 2,250 days at sea sailing 5,88,288 NM (10, 94,215 KM). This implies that Viraat has been at sea for over six years covering the entire globe about 27 times.
She played a major role in the Operation Jupiter in 1989 (Indian Peace Keeping operations in Sri Lanka) and Operation Vijay in the year 1999 (Kargil War). The ship has also participated in various international joint exercises like Malabar (with US Navy), Varuna (with French Navy), Naseem-Al-Bahar (with Oman Navy) and has been an integral element of all major naval exercises.
The last operational deployment of the ship was for participation in International Fleet Review (IFR-2016) at Visakhapatnam. Having served the country and the Navy for nearly three decades, INS Viraat handed over the mantle of carrier operations to INS Vikramaditya which was commissioned in the year 2013.
The second aircraft carrier of the country has spent 29 years under the Indian Flag and 27 years with the Royal Navy (United Kingdom). The ship holds the Guinness record for being the oldest serving warship.
INS Viraat is a Centaur-Class Aircraft Carrier and served in the Royal Navy as HMS Hermes, which was the flag ship of Royal Navy during the Falklands campaign of 1982. She is commonly referred to as the ‘Grand Old Lady’ among the Naval community.

India's forex reserves rise by $ 1.408 billion to $ $ 363.351 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 1.408 billion to $ 363.351 billion in the week ended July 15, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
The country's forex reserves had dipped by $ 1.228 billion to $ 361.943 billion in the previous week.
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone up by $ 1.404 billion t $338.898 bilion 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 remained unchanged at $ 20.576 billion while its special drawing rights (SDR) went up by $ 1.4 million to $ 1.485 billion.
India's India's reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased by $ 2.3 million to $ 2.391 billion, the bulletin added.

L&T Hydrocarbon-led consortium wins contract of over $ 1.6 billion from Saudi Aramco

Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said that its fully owned subsidiary L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering (LTHE),in consortium with Emas Chiyoda Subsea (ECS),  has won a $ 1.6 billion contract from Saudi Aramco, the biggest oil company in the world.
ECs is a 50:50 joint venture company owned by Ezra Holdings Limited and Chiyoda Corporation.
A press release from L&T said the contract was for the development of the second phase of Hasbah Offshore Gas field situated off the coast of Saudi Arabia. LTHE’s share in the contract value is approximately over 60%. 
Coming in as the first major contract from Saudi Aramco after the finalization of the long term agreement executed by Saudi Aramco with LTHE – ECS Consortium in June last year, the order is an affirmation of the superior capabilities of LTHE - ECS consortium, the release said.
Mr. Subramanian Sarma, MD & CEO, L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering said, “We are dedicated to providing bespoke EPCI services in this region with our state-of-the-art facilities and strong team delivering excellence in execution. We believe that this is the first of many successful results for our consortium and look forward to more accomplishments with our consortium partner Emas-Chiyoda Subsea under the long term agreement, which is for six years extendable by another six years.”
The consortium will be carrying out the complete ‘EPCI’ work – Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Installation of the offshore plant which includes two streams of three wellhead platform topsides, one tie-in platform with flare platforms and bridges tied together by 20 km umbilicals and 25 km of in-field pipelines.
Other works include interconnections of two 36” trunk lines to transport produced gas from offshore to Fadhili Gas Plant complete with 110 km of fiber optic and power cables for power and communication network with the onshore facilities.
Other onshore facilities like beach valve station, sectionalizing valve station, four scraper traps and laying of 35 km of fibre optic cable will also be executed as part of the contract.
The project is scheduled to be completed over a period of three and half years and will serve Saudi Aramco’s strategy to supply additional 2,500 MMSCFD of clean natural gas through the Fadhili Gas Plant to meet Saudi Arabia’s growing domestic energy demand, the release added.
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