Vizag airport set to go international

The Visakhapatnam airport is all set to go international once the Indian Navy gives its green signal as three international airlines are ready to operate flights from the industrial hub of the state. However, highly-placed sources said the hitch is over the timings of the flights. While the international airlines — Air Arabia, Fly Dubai and Silk Airways — are asking for the night slot ie. after 11 pm till early in the morning, the airport currently functions only between 8 am and 8 pm because of the restrictions imposed by the Navy on night operations. The Naval authorities claim it is not possible for them to operate night flights due to insufficient manpower and other logistics. The airport, which is under the control of the Indian Navy, handles 12 domestic services to cater to the needs of north coastal districts and the neighbouring districts of Orissa and some parts of Chhattisgarh. According sources, Air Arabia wants to operate its Sharjah-Vizag-Sharjah service in the early hours. Fly Dubai Airlines, which has plans to run a direct flight to Dubai from Vizag, has asked for 12 am-2 pm time slot. Officials of Silk Airways, which has been evincing keen interest to operate flights since a year, visited the airport and even conducted a feasible study also. However, the Navy said that it does not have sufficient skilled manpower to operate the air traffic control. Currently, 97 personnel man the Vizag airport through Navy’s INS Dega establishment. Sources said a requisition to sanction another 320 trained manpower has been sent to the civil aviation authorities. Sources said six new flights are in the pipeline and waiting for clearance from the director general of Civil Aviation and the Navy. Spice Jet is planning to operate Chennai-Vizag-Kolkata, while Jetlite is planning Kolkata-Vizag-Kolkata flight. Jet Airways has a proposal to run Boeing-737 in Mumbai-Vizag-Mumbai and Delhi-Vizag-Delhi sectors. The port city, which has a population of 18 lakh, has been growing rapidly with the influx of IT and industrial honchos setting up shop here. Nearly six lakh passengers fly in and fly out of the Vizag airport every year.

Chennai ORR snippets

Tamil Nadu Deputy chief minister M K Stalin laid the foundation for the first phase of the Outer Ring Road project. Spanning 62.3km from Vandalur to Minjur, the width of the ring road would 122 metre, said Stalin. “The first phase would stretch from Vandalur to Nemilicherry and it spans over 30km,” he said. “Meanwhile, we are in the process of acquiring land for the second phase—from Nemilicherry to Minjur. The total cost of construction for both phases is estimated at Rs 1,082 crore.”

Somewhere in Chennai....

‘Kancheepuram Silk’ GI tag

The days of just about everybody churning out silk sarees and selling them under the famed ‘Kancheepuram silk saree’ brand is over. Now, 21 Kancheepuram-based silk saree cooperatives, besides 10 licensed individuals, alone can use the term ‘Kancheepuram silk saree’ as unique selling proposition (USP). Others, including the owners of textile malls in Chennai and elsewhere, found using the term now face the prospect of either being jailed for a term ranging from six months to three years or paying a fine between Rs 50,000 and Rs 3 lakh.
The 21 cooperative societies and 10 individuals have been recognised as authorised users under the provisions of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. An official announcement
of this recognition will be made very shortly. The move is bound to give a significant boost to the debt-ridden cooperative societies that churn out the popular Kancheepuram silks, distinct in weave and design, and contribute to the Rs 200-crore silk industry.
Kancheepuram silks is the only GI-tagged product which will have a list of authorised users of the term

Some of the popular products already enjoying GI tags

Darjeeling Tea, Thanjavur Paintings, Mysore Silk, Mysore Sandal Oil and Soap, Palakkadan Matta Rice of Kerala, Goan Feni & Tirupati Laddu

‘Kancheepuram Silk’ GI tag

The days of just about everybody churning out silk sarees and selling them under the famed ‘Kancheepuram silk saree’ brand is over. Now, 21 Kancheepuram-based silk saree cooperatives, besides 10 licensed individuals, alone can use the term ‘Kancheepuram silk saree’ as unique selling proposition (USP). Others, including the owners of textile malls in Chennai and elsewhere, found using the term now face the prospect of either being jailed for a term ranging from six months to three years or paying a fine between Rs 50,000 and Rs 3 lakh.
The 21 cooperative societies and 10 individuals have been recognised as authorised users under the provisions of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. An official announcement
of this recognition will be made very shortly. The move is bound to give a significant boost to the debt-ridden cooperative societies that churn out the popular Kancheepuram silks, distinct in weave and design, and contribute to the Rs 200-crore silk industry.
Kancheepuram silks is the only GI-tagged product which will have a list of authorised users of the term

Some of the popular products already enjoying GI tags

Darjeeling Tea, Thanjavur Paintings, Mysore Silk, Mysore Sandal Oil and Soap, Palakkadan Matta Rice of Kerala, Goan Feni & Tirupati Laddu

Ahmedabad BRTS update

Until now, civic authorities have had only one way of skirting traffic jams at railway crossings in the city — building underpasses that invariably turn into waterlogged pools during monsoon. But when the BRTS project reaches Gujarat College, Amdavadis will be able to fly over trains passing through the city. A 1.5-kilometre elevated corridor will soon come up and go right past the college junction and the clogger Gandhigram railway crossing. There would also be a bus stop on the flyover near MJ Library. The elevated corridor would have two lanes, each 7.5 metres wide. The corridor would begin on the Law Garden road near Church of North India, pass Gujarat college crossroads, fly over the railway line and pass along Ashima House. The flyover would then widen at MJ Library to accommodate a bus stop. The corridor will hit Ashram Road and turn right towards Town Hall crossroads to finally descend at the mouth of Ellisbridge. Officials say that they are debating giving BRTS an independent track across the river once a decision is taken on the fate of Ellisbridge.
“Vehicles often get stuck at the inundated Parimal, Usmanpura, Mithakali and Town Hall underpasses in the western part during monsoons. The BRTS corridor will be thrown open to mixed traffic during these emergencies. We took the decision after observing three monsoons,” says Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited (AJL) chairman IP Gautam.
The design for the corridor has been passed by the AJL board and construction will begin in three to five months. There are just two small stretches on the sides that are yet to be acquired by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC).
Vehicular movement was studied on the Shreyas crossing, and Vasna-Vadaj stretch for the elevated corridor. “We had originally planned an elevated corridor above Gandhigram railway station two years ago but the Railways did not permit us due to technical issues. Besides we could not get a gradual descent for the corridor at Nehru bridge. It was then decided to take the corridor to Ellisbridge,” Gautam added.

Delhi Eye

For those who want to visit some of the capital’s popular tourist attractions but are discouraged by heavy traffic, and hot and humid weather, here’s one way of capturing a panoramic view of the city from one spot. Built on the lines of the London Eye and Singapore Flyer, this 45-m high giant wheel—called Delhi Eye—is housed in an amusement park in Kalindi Kunj and is all set to roll from September 25. As tall as a 15-storey building, the state-of-the-art wheel promises a snapshot of monuments located as far as Qutub Minar and Red Fort to places like Akshardham Temple, Lotus Temple and Humayun’s Tomb in the vicinity apart from a bird’s-eye view of Connaught Place—all in a matter of 20 minutes. For a ride in one of the wheel’s 36 airconditioned cabins you will have to shell out about Rs 250. ‘‘The luxurious cabins of the wheel are centrally airconditioned and are fitted with LCD screens. All the city’s major landmarks can be seen from top. You can sit back and relax as the wheel virtually takes you on a Delhi tour,’’ said Imran Ali Khan, promoter of the project. The strategic location of Delhi Eye makes it attractive for residents of Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad too. Each of the 36 airconditioned capsules can hold eight people which takes the total capacity of the wheel to 288. One complete rotation of the wheel takes approximately 20 minutes. ‘‘The wheel is equipped with an operating system, which allows any passenger to press the ‘help’ button if he feels scared at any point of time,’’ said Khan. The giant wheel has been built by a European company and has been installed with all safety equipment. ‘‘We have carried out safety tests and the wheel is internationally certified. A power backup, along with a manual brake system, makes it risk-free. Two hours before each ride, we check the wheel for safety,’’ said wheel inspector Patrick Peck.

Colaba - Bandra Metro link snippets

After demanding 54 acres for a depot for the Colaba-Bandra metro underneath the stables at Mahalaxmi Race course, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is thinking of constructing a tunnel under the Mithi river and stretching the metro to the airport to link it with the island city. MMRDA commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad said, “We have to extend the Colaba-Bandra metro to the airport for better connectivity and constructing a tunnel under the Mithi is one option we are exploring, which is also recommended by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) study. But we will analyse its techno-economic feasibility before taking a decision.’’
MMRDA officials said it will be a tough task constructing a tunnel under the Mithi River’s bed. “But at least, this line will not pass through the mangroves of Mithi like the Bandra-Mankhurd section.’’ Another option is to bring it via the Mahim causeway. Gaikwad said the MMRDA is studying three to four options.
The Colaba-Bandra metro will pass through Prakash Pethe road in Colaba, Ja
gannath Bhosale Road near Mantralaya, Hutatma Chowk, D N Road, Jagannath Sunkersett Road in the crowded Girgaum area, Dr D B Marg at Grant Road, Nair Road, E Moses Road in Worli, Annie Besant Road in Worli, Shankar Ghanekar Road in Dadar, Lady Jamshetji Road in Mahim and traverse a distance of 38.24 km.
A senior planner in the railways said the six lines of the Western Railway corridor pass underneath and the MMRDA must take a great deal of care if they plan to dig a tunnel while taking the metro to Bandra East. The costs of the tunnel and extension to the airport are yet to be worked out. Environmentalists are not averse to the idea of the tunnel.


Top forensic lab to come up near Pune

The Union home ministry’s directorate of forensic science (DFS) has set the ball rolling for setting up a hi-tech Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) on a 25-acre campus at Wadgaon Maval, about 25 kms from Pune, along the Pune-Mumbai highway. Apart from the forensic lab, the campus would house the Government Examiner of Questioned Documents (GEQD) unit, which plays a pivotal role in the unravelling of high-profile white-collar crimes. The existing GEQDs have played a key role in the scrutiny of the fake stamp papers in the multi-crore Telgi scam. Under the 11th Five-Year Plan, the MHA has made a provision of Rs 200 crore for the DFS to implement 26 projects aimed at modernization of forensic science applications across the country. “Consolidated funds worth Rs 42.60 crore have been set aside for the CFSL/GEQD near Pune and similar facilities in Bhopal and Guwahati,” said Tripathi. As of now, there are four CFSL/GEQD facilities —in Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Delhi. The last one directly falls under the CBI.

Agni V ready for test

India’s indigenous 5,000-km range Agni-V nuclear-capable missile that can hit targets in northernmost China is ready for testfiring, defence minister A K Antony said but declined to state when this would happen. The missile was developed following the denial of technology to India. He said Indian scientists working in many critical areas have proved that India can overcome sanctions and denials. Later, Antony declined to give any date for the test-firing of the Agni-V, India’s only inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM). Allaying apprehensions that the defence sector would lose able hands with the retirement of present generation of scientists, the defence minister assured that new blood would be injected.


Mumbai BRTS snapshotz

Top states GDP

Sponsors required !

Bullion snapshot

Maha's DMIC hope

Maharashtra has pinned high hopes on the $90-billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, or DMIC. The 1,500-km route is expected to boost the state’s industrial output by an additional Rs 20 lakh crore over the next 30 years, believes the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, or MIDC, the nodal agency for industry. The industrial corridor, which will be spread across a 300-km wide belt in the state, is also expected to create an additional 23 lakh industrial and manufacturing jobs once it is ready. The corridor will connect the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, or JNPT, with New Delhi.
The corridor, according to the plan, will divide the state into two economic influence zones — the Nashik-Sinnar-Igatpuri Investment Region (NSIIR) and one along the state’s coastal belt.
The state government plans to set up five mega industrial estates along the DMIC. These will be at Shendra in Aurangabad district, Sinnar and Malegaon in Nashik district, Dighi in Ratnagiri district and Dhule in north Maharashtra. Among the proposals for the Shendra region is the setting up of an international convention and exhibition centre to be developed by MIDC that will be operational by 2014. With the site selection having been completed, bids are likely to called soon, according to a MIDC release. The project is proposed to be on a build-own-operate-transfer basis.
The state government has proposed a high-speed rail service, along with roads and highways, to connect industrial area around ports near Mumbai. Among the projects to be located in this area are a mega industrial port city at Tale in Raigad and a multi-modal logistics park at Karla near Pune.
MIDC, the nodal agency in the state to implement the DMIC project, is acquiring 70,000 hectares of land to accommodate the proposed projects. The state government has constituted a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of the chief secretary to facilitate inter-departmental coordination and fast-tracking of approvals.

Along the route will be the Posco steel project at Vile Bhagad in the Konkan region. The South Korean major has begun construction of a distribution centre in the port area to handle all final products from its Vile Bhagad plant.

Direct Tax Code gets Cabinet's approval

The Union Cabinet has approved a new set of direct tax rules that proposes to raise income tax exemption limit from 1.6 lakh to 2 lakh, leaving more money in the hands of individuals, and a lower tax rate for companies. The much-awaited Direct Taxes Code, or DTC, Bill, which seeks to replace the nearly 50-year-old income tax law, is likely to be introduced in Parliament on Monday and may then be referred to a select committee of members of both houses of Parliament. The basic exemption limit is proposed to be raised to 2 lakh from the current 1.6 lakh and corporate tax rate for both domestic and foreign companies proposed is at 30%, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said after the meeting of the Union Cabinet. Senior citizens and women will enjoy a higher exemption to up to 2.5 lakh. There will be no surcharge or cess on companies, thereby bringing the corporate tax rate to 30% from present 34%. The new code proposes three income tax slabs—income of up to 2-5 lakh will face 10%, 5-10 lakh will attract 20% and income over 10 lakh will face tax at the rate of 30%. The housing loan exemption of 1.5 lakh would also be available to individual taxpayers on the interest component. The new changes in the tax rates, expected to come into effect from April 1, 2011, could lead to some loss in revenue and raise the government deficit. However, the government proposes to raise the minimum alternate tax (MAT) on book profits to 20% from current 18%. The move will be a big blow for Reliance and a host of IT and infrastructure companies that pay MAT. The government has given a go-by to original proposal of MAT on gross assets after drawing strong criticism from the industry. It had also proposed to tax longterm savings like provident fund at the time of withdrawal. The revised draft that was made public some time ago exempted them. Securitities transaction tax will remain as the current regime is being continued for the capital market transactions, said a senior cabinet minister who attended the meeting. Dividend distribution tax rate of 15% remains unchanged. The finance minister who seeks to phase out profit-linked incentives for corporate sector has given relief to the developers of special economic zones and units located in them by dropping the original proposal of withdrawing all tax benefits once the code comes into effect. SEZs may be able to enjoy tax sops for two more years. The government had announced its intention to introduce a revised and simplified Income-Tax Bill while presenting the Union Budget for 2005-06. Subsequently, work was undertaken on drafting the code to replace the current Income-tax Act, 1961 and the Wealth-tax Act, 1957.

India's Gems & Jewellery industry

Flush with rough diamonds from Africa and having organised itself in a large company to eliminate middlemen, Surat's diamond industry has more good news. The size of the Indian gems and jewellery industry is expected to cross $31 billion or Rs 1.47 lakh crore in 2010-2011. This is largely due to the improved demand for polished diamonds in the US, China, Hong Kong, UAE and Commonwealth of Independent States. Surat itself is expected to process $18 billion worth of the glittering gems in this financial year. From a mere $8 billion worth of exports in 1999-2000, the Indian gems and jewellery industry has come a long way by capturing 70% of the global polished diamond share.


July 2010 aviation snapshot

India's prospects for renewable energy

Changing structure of India's economy

Aadhaar snapshot

What will your unique ID will look like....

Power woes

Hyderabad Metro update

Per Capita Income of some States

Somewhere in Mumbai....

Fishermen celebrate Narli Poornima in Worli . The festival marks the commencement of the new fishing season.

Mother Teresa's 100th birth anniversary

Kolkata remembers....

India's demand for Gold surges

India’s consumption of gold zoomed 94% to 365 tonnes in the first half of 2010 as against 188 tonnes in the same period last year, showing a revival in the demand for yellow metal in the country. In value terms, demand for gold in India grew from Rs 27,300 crore in the first half of 2009 to Rs 60,500 crore in the same period of 2010, an increase of 122%.
In a report, World Gold Council (WGC) said that global demand for gold will remain robust during 2010
as a result of acceleration in demand in India and China, as well as increasing demand for investment, driven by continuing uncertainty over public debt and economic recovery. The report said gold demand has returned, particularly in India. The total demand of gold jewellery in the country remained strong in the first half of 2010, which showed an increase in volume by 67% to 272.5 tonnes as compared to 163 tonnes in the corresponding period of the last year. In rupee terms, this translates to an increase by 94% to Rs 45,700 crore.
The investment in the yellow metal also grew very strongly by 264% to 92.5 tonnes in the first half as compared to 25.4 tonnes in the corresponding period last year. In terms of value, investment accounted for Rs 14,800 crore in January-June of 2010, compared to Rs 3,700 crore in the same period of the last year.
According to the WGC, 2010 has provided a clear indication of the diversity in the usage of gold as an asset. As the year has progressed, the report said, the Indian gold market has grown significantly.
With the Indian marriage season and important festivals like Dhanteras and Diwali coming up, the future seems to augur well for the yellow metal, it added. The report said India and China will continue to provide the main thrust of overall growth in demand, particularly for gold jewellery for the rest of 2010.

Somewhere near Pune....

A proposed international airport, a residential school run by the Krishnamurti Foundation, an SEZ at Khed and acres of farmland are Rajgurunagar’s current claim to fame. But the memorial to freedom fighter Shivram Hari Rajguru, who gave the village its name, has been five years in the making and is nowhere near completion. Most of the house where he lived is dilapidated. Only the room where he was born in 1908 and the outhouse have been restored, and a retaining wall along Bhima river has been built. The rest of the work on the place, some 45 km from Pune, ground to a halt two years ago. Rajguru was sent to the gallows by the British in 1931 in the Lahore conspiracy case along with Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev Thapar. On Tuesday, the village celebrated Rajguru’s 101st birth anniversary. But efforts by his followers to have the young revolutionary’s wada restored and build a memorial have, at best, crawled. Work on the memorial began in 2005 with Rs 2 crore from the state government. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was roped in to restore the house. But funds crunch and a slow-moving state government have ensured that much of the house has run to seed, said locals. Corruption has brought work to a standstill, said Atul Deshmukh, a member of the Rajguru Smarak Samiti. “The last construction work on this site was in 2008. Nothing has happened after that,” said Deshmukh.

Lok Sabha passes the Nuclear liability bill

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said charges that his government’s push for the contentious bill was motivated by his concern for American interests and corporations were “far from the truth’’. The bill was later passed by the Lok Sabha by a majority of 252-25 because of the BJP’s support. Singh’s defence was prompted by opposition speakers like the BJP’s Jaswant Singh who said the government was trying to “hustle’’ Parliament into passing the liability bill ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit in November. The PM said this was not the first time he was being accused of working for American interests. Singh said that just as his 1992 budget—then criticised as “made in US’’—had stood the test of time, history would judge the government’s steps to end what he called a nuclear apartheid imposed on India. “To say that this has been brought to promote American interests, to promote American corporations, I think, this is far from the truth,’’ he said. “I beg of this House to pass this bill with unanimity,’’ the PM said. Singh’s denial, however, also marked an acknowledgement of the larger perception about his being pro-America, especially since he had staked the fate of the UPA-1 over the nuclear deal with the US.
The passage of the N-liability bill with the BJP's support on Wednesday marked a huge respite for the government which had slogged hard for the enactment of the law, crucial to the operationalization of the nuclear deals India has signed with the US and other countries. But that it had to give in to the BJP's insistence on a crucial change regarding the liability of the supplier in the draft the Union cabinet cleared on Monday marked a setback to those in the government and industry who opposed the demand to toughen the clause. The version of the bill cleared by the cabinet had held that the supplier could not be held liable unless he was found to have intentionally caused a mishap--a bar of evidence almost impossible to clear. The Congress had to agree to the BJP's demand because it did not want to strike the deals it signed with the BSP, SP and RJD during the confrontation with the opposition over cut motions in the Budget session. In his impassioned intervention, Singh pointed out that the civil liability for nuclear damage bill was the culmination of a journey begun in 1999 when the NDA, and not the UPA, was in power. He said the NDA's decisions indicated a similar assessment of events. Though the bill's passage was a forgone conclusion with the Left's insistence on a division rejected 252-25, the PM in his brief speech set out a case for the use of nuclear power as an essential option, particularly in areas away from coal mines. Coal also had an environmental price tag, he said. Singh said he agreed with Jaswant Singh that nuclear energy was a serious issue and added that he was committed to the safety of nuclear power plants. He dismissed the Left's arguments on energy sources like coal and hydel power and said the bill was a much-needed step in the right direction.
What is nuclear liability Bill?
The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010 was crafted after the India-US nuclear deal went through in 2008. In order to facilitate nuclear trade with global companies it is necessary for India to enact the law. It aims to define financial and legal liabilities by operators, suppliers of equipment, vendors and government in case of a nuclear accident.
Why is the law necessary?
India is negotiating with four foreign firms engaged in making large nuclear reactors. All of them want a specific limit on liability to avail insurance cover. Though even the French and Russians want a law, there has been consistent US pressure for the legislation as two Japanese-US firms are also in the fray.
How does it impact India’s nuclear power plans?
India wants to rev up nuclear power production from 4,000 MW to 40,000 MW by 2020. Getting foreign firms to build mega units of 1650 MW and setting up 10,000 MW parks is key to this strategy. These plans were held up first by the Left’s opposition to the India-US nuclear deal. Then approaching 2009 elections made govt cautious.
What are its salient features?
The bill envisages a three-tier liability system where the operator (the bill says only govt and govt-owned companies) assumes a liability up to Rs 1500 crore where no proof of culpability is needed. The second tier makes govt liable upto 300 million SDRs or Rs 2,133 crore. In the third tier, India can draw upon funds pooled under the Convention of Supplementary Compensation if it joins the group.
What is “no-fault” liability?
This means victims of a nuclear incident will be compensated even without any fault being fixed for the same. The Bill fixes nofault liability on operators so that payment to victims is prompt and does not get entangled in legal tangles like in the Bhopal gas tragedy.

What were the controversies about?
Operator liability — initially Rs 500 crore — was deemed too low. After BJP, Left and some experts opposed the bill govt raised it to Rs 1500 crore. Then, govt was accused of diluting liability of suppliers as the bill said a “willful act” and “gross negligence” had to be established. Some felt that CSC tied in India to unnecessary international commitments. If the damage exceeds upper limit of $ SDR 300 million there was no procedure to higher compensation.
What was the “deal” between the govt and BJP?
First the report of the standing committee examining the bill was mysteriously altered to link specific supplier liability to a written contract with an operator. Then Govt went back on an agreement to specifically state supplier liability irrespective of a contract. The bill in clause 17 (b) said an operator can pursue a supplier in court if a nuclear accident was the result of an "act of supplier or his employees done with the intent to cause nuclear damage". The use of the word intent was again seen to be a sop for foreign suppliers.
BJP and Left said "intent" meant making supplier liability contingent upon proof of deliberate act. Govt has dropped the word.


Somewhere in Delhi....

As the city races against time to complete works before the Common Wealth Games, the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the beautiful backdrop of the monsoon clouds.

Somewhere in Hampi....

North Karnataka continued to be battered by rain. With 31 of the 33 crest gates of Tungabhadra dam having been opened, many heritage sites, including the Purandara Mantapa , Saalu Mantapa and Rama-Lakshmana Temple in Hampi, have gone under water. Tungabhadra dam is the lifeline for the people of Bellary, Raichur and Koppal districts for both drinking and agricultural purposes.

India & China :2009

Of Desi wealth....

Software exports from Tamil Nadu : Snapshot

Then and Now....


Space achievements

Satellites launched since April 1975 — 47

Satellites in operation — 17 (10 Insat, 7 IRS)

Insat system — Largest domestic communication satellite system in Asia-Pacific

IRS system — Largest remote sensing satellite system in the world

Insat system — helps India in telecommunications, broadcasting (TV, radio), business and mobile communication, telemedicine, search and rescue, satellite navigation, meteorology, interactive education, development communication and disaster management

Space achievements

Satellites launched since April 1975 — 47

Satellites in operation — 17 (10 Insat, 7 IRS)

Insat system — Largest domestic communication satellite system in Asia-Pacific

IRS system — Largest remote sensing satellite system in the world

Insat system — helps India in telecommunications, broadcasting (TV, radio), business and mobile communication, telemedicine, search and rescue, satellite navigation, meteorology, interactive education, development communication and disaster management

Somewhere in West Bengal....

Dry , parched land waiting for the rains.....a drought in the making ?

U - City : Dholera

Dholera would be much more than a smart city in the days to come. In its latest report Gujarat Industrial Development Board (GIDB) has envisioned Dholera to be a ubiquitous city —called the U-City where life would be controlled centrally by a well laid network of sensors and would be developed into a high-tech urban space. The special investment region spread over approximately 800 sq km would be one of the nodal regions along the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC). The U-city concept in Dholera basically looks forward to integrating city operation centres right from civic, transportation, environment, security and even one’s office. This technology would be indigenously designed for Dholera SIR according to GIDB officials.
“The U-infrastructure uses sensors networks to communicate with wired or wireless computer embedded in personal devices like mobile phones, buildings or any part of urban infrastructure. This allows ubiquitous communication of person-to-person, person-to-object and object-to-object interaction even though computers and devices are invisible to users,” says a senior GIDB official. The U-city provides
an opportunity where one may not have to, for instance, access information without using the internet, while electronic devices share data automatically without being asked to do it by the user of the technology. The U-city infrastructure has a common core service followed by specialised services. It consists of U-administration, U-facility management, U-transportation, U-environmental service and a U-waterfront too,” adds the GIDB official.
A certain degree of the integration of services has been done in South Korea, Japan, and host of other cities in the world. This includes the London Urban Village, Koeln Media Park, Copenhagen crossroads, Montreal industrial area, Shanghai Financial, HK Cyber Port, and Dalian.
Though in these specialised regions the U-city concept exists in bits and pieces. Dholera would be a class apart. The plan was accepted in March this year. we are now looking for investors for the city,” adds the GIDB official.

A service that provides visual presentations such as waterscreen or advanced streetlights, creating a fascinating virtual night view like at harbours, waterfront restaurants and theme bridges
U-transportation service
Converges existing road, vehicle, traffic signs, with IT, telecommunications, electronics, control and other ubiquitous technologies, allowing efficient traffic facility and ease traffic congestion
A service that improves the overall city civic management by providing information and monitoring services for public administration
U-facility management
Builds integrated and remote operation service system for the city infrastructure and provides prompt correspondence system through real-time disaster and safety accident detection

Learning from Gujarat

A latest World Bank (WB) study says exemplary reforms in Gujarat’s highway sector should be replicated by Indian states to establish an “enabling framework” for creating “efficient governance”. Titled “Good Governance in Highway Sector: Learning from Gujarat”, the 60-page, yet-to-be-published report is based on the implementation of the World Bankfunded Gujarat State Highway Project (GSHP) during the 2001-07 period. The project was implemented by the state roads and buildings ((R&B) department.
Identifying private sector involvement as a crucial factor in shaping the reforms, the bank points out how the R&B department, under principal secretary SS
Rathore, a technocrat, switched “from the role of provider to manager of road infrastructure”. This enabled the department to embrace a whole-of-network approach to planning and management of road network development and maintenance, and to take a more integrated approach in the budgeting and funding process, the study says.
As a result, GSHP “was implemented with a significant cost reduction (about 23%)”, even as im
proving “the network to meet the rapidly growing transport demand in the state”. The bank stresses that: “The GSHP had the unique distinction of no contract disputes, a rarity among highway development projects in India”, even as it set best practices in “developing and managing a very comprehensive asset management system, state-of-the-art quality assurance framework and a very comprehensive training and capacity building programme”.
Noting that the current planned road network size in Gujarat of 74,111 km is among the highest in terms of network density per sq km in India, the report says, it is also “among the best managed networks”.
Investment in new roads in Gujarat increased six times compared to the pre-reforms times, with the state paying more attention to maintenance “than any other state”. It spent $884, 15% more than the second highest spending state, Kerala. As a result, the maintenance backlog has been reduced from 10,000 km to 5,000 km, including the 1,800 km reduction spurred by the GSHP. “Gujarat is one of the first states to develop a strategic or core road network by applying the 80/20 rule, i.e. 80% of the traffic is carried by 20% of the road network,” says the report. First formulated during the GSHP, the concept was used during the development later, the bank says. However, it adds that the concept may go a long way in implementing the chief minister’s “vision” of travelling by road in the state between any two locations within six to seven hours at 80 km per hour.


Somewhere in Pune....

The Ayyappa temple in Rasta Peth wears a glittering look as the Malayali community in the city gears up to celebrate the traditional festival of Onam

Jaipur Ring Road snippets

The Jaipur ring road will be around 147 km in length in the new designs being prepared by the National Highway Authority of India.
The initial detailed project report (DPR) submitted by Reliance Infrastructure in 2007
suggested a 145-km-long ring road to be developed on public-private partnership model. Acquisition exercise for 47-km stretch was carried out between Agra Road and Ajmer Road for the southern zone. However, the urban development ministry later proposed a reduction in the length of Northern Zone by almost 40 km and assigned National Highway Authority of India to prepare a fresh DPR. Urban development ministry decided to hand over the project to JDA due to slow pace of work by NHAI. The highway authority has been unable to prepare the DPR in time and the designs being proposed have suggested an even longer ring road. The JDA officials are expected to incorporate the suggestions from NHAI.
A ring road had been proposed for Jaipur nearly a decade ago. However, the project had been transferred from one department to another. The JDA had previously tried to develop the project on PPP model and Reliance Infrastructure bagged the contract
in 2005. A 145-km long road costing nearly Rs 6,000 crore was proposed. The company, however, withdrew from the project in 2008 following a demand of Rs 2,700 crore reverse payment demanded by the government, the project the project came to a standstill. The urban development ministry later handed over the project to National Highway Authority of India in January. It was expected to begin work by June.
However, the Jaipur Development Authority once again has been given the responsibility. An understanding is yet to be achieved on developing the ring road path connecting Ajmer Road-Tonk Road-Agra Road. The work on the southern part is expected to begin by 2011.

Somewhere in Gujarat....

Banskantha district is aiming at a world record by planting 11.11 lakh saplings in a single day. On August 30, the last Monday of holy Shravan month, all 12 talukas, taluka panchayats, gram panchayats, religious places, schools, colleges and co-operative organisations in the district will go for the world record. Addressing a press conference, district collector RJ Patel said, “The collection of saplings is being done and digging of ditches started since launch of Van Mahotsav on August 16.” He said, “Such a Herculean task cannot be accomplished without public participation. We are fortunate to receive the active support and co-operation of the people in bringing about greenery in the drought-prone district of Banaskantha,”
Banas, the largest dairy in Asia, has vowed to grow over
four lakh trees on the premises of 1,400 milk collecting centres in the district. “We have instructed all our milk collecting centres to ensure that they collect the saplings through forest department,” said S S Chaudhri, managing director, Banas Dairy.
On July 31, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation had claimed to having planting 9.19 lakh saplings in a day in association with the forest department. The earlier record was in the name of Pakistan which had planted five lakh saplings in one month, he added.


July export growth slips

India's exports growth moderated sharply in July due to weak consumer demand in its key markets such as the US and Europe, but the country may still achieve the target of $200 billion exports set for the fiscal year to March 2011 . The 13.2% growth is the slowest in the last six months. Exports grew more than 30% in the five preceding months partly due to the base effect, reflecting a sluggish 2009 when exports contracted 5%. Imports grew at a faster rate of 34.3% to $29.17 billion indicating growing manufacturing activity. It increased the trade gap for the month to $12.93 billion. The country’s exports began to recover in November 2009 after a 13-month slump mainly due to more exports to non-traditional markets in Africa, Latin America and West Asia. Although exports registered a growth of 30% to $68.63 billion in the April-July 2010 period, in absolute terms it remained lower than the 2008 levels. Since the traditional markets such as the US, EU and Japan account for the bulk of India’s exports, the government is looking at extending sops to select sectors for exports to such markets. Similar sops that were extended to a host of sectors earlier this year ran out on March 31, 2010. China, however, defied the slack global demand to post a 38.1% growth in July to $145.5 billion. But slowing imports growth raised visions of an economic slowdown in the world’s second largest economy.