Income Tax statz

Bombay HC orders Adarsh's demolition

The Bombay High Court ordered demolition of the 31-storey Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society, and sought criminal proceedings against politicians and bureaucrats for “misuse“ of power, holding that the Cuffe Parade tower was illegally constructed. Termed as the `tower of deceit', the Adarsh society scam had led to the resignation of Congress' Ashok Chavan as the state's chief minister in November 2010. The high court ruled on Friday that the cost of demolition be recovered from the society, but stayed its order for 12 weeks to allow the society members to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.
A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Rajesh Ketkar also asked the state government to consider initiating civil and criminal proceedings against the bureaucrats and politicians involved in the project, and ordered departmental inquiries against the government officials connected with the society. The society, originally meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil War heroes and war widows, was converted into a 100-metre-tall building with politicians, bureaucrats and army officers allegedly conspiring to get flats at below market rates.
After the scam came to light, the occupation certificate granted to the society was revoked in 2010, and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the probe. The building still remains unoccupied and without electricity and water supply.
Ashok Chavan, retired army officers Major Generals TK Kaul and AR Kumar, Brigadiers Madan Mohan Wanchoo and TK Sinha, and Colonel P K Bakshi, former MLC Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, IAS officers Jairaj Phatak, Ramanand Tiwari and Subhash Lalla, Adarsh Society secretary RC Thakur, former deputy secretary of State Urban Development Department PV Deshmukh, and former collec tor Pradeep Vyas have been named as accused in the case.
The court, in its 221 page order, praised activist Simprit Singh, associated with the National Alliance for People's Movement,­ calling him an “unsung hero“. The order observed that the scam was unearthed due to his efforts but because he was not a party to the litigations in the high court, he was never heard and didn't get an opportunity to appear before the court in these proceedings. The Adarsh Society secretary, RC Thakur, said that the building plan was sanctioned by the MMRDA. “We have respect for the judiciary and will approach the Supreme Court,“ he said.

Govt raises EPF rate to 8.8% after protests

The finance ministry reversed its decision and agreed to the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) paying 8.8% interest to over five crore subscribers during 2015-16.
The rethink came amid strong protests from trade unions which insisted that the 8.8% rate recommended by the EPFO's central board of trustees should be accepted. Last week, the finance ministry had insisted on offering 8.7%, the first time it was going against the recommendation.
The ministry had argued that a lower payout would help EPFO have sufficient reserves to meet higher interest outgo on inoperative accounts during the current fiscal. But following consultations with the labour ministry on Thursday and Friday , the finance ministry opted to go with the EPFO board's decision.
This is the Centre's third U-turn on EPF in the last two months. In early March, it was forced to withdraw the Budget proposal to tax the maturity corpus unless a part of it was used to invest in annuities.

IndiGo's profit zooms 53% in FY16

Low-cost carrier IndiGo reported a net profit of Rs.1,990 crore in FY 2015-16, up 53% from previous fiscal's profit of Rs.1,304 crore. Net profit in the January-March period was at Rs.579 crore, marginally (0.3%) higher than Rs.577 crore profit reported in the same quarter of the previous fiscal.
The total revenue in FY 2015-16 was Rs.16,140 crore, up 16% from the revenue in the previous fiscal. Of this, Rs.14,062 crore was passenger revenue (rise of 14.4% from the previous fiscal) and Rs .2,002 crore was ancillary revenue (up 27.3%).
The LCC, which currently has 107 aircraft in its fleet, says it will end FY 2016-17 with a fleet of 136 planes. “We have started getting deliveries of Airbus A320 neos. The A320 neo powered by Pratt and Whitney's fuel efficient geared turbo fan engines will enable us to structurally reduce our costs as fuel continues to be the single largest element of our cost structure,“ said IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh.
IndiGo is India's largest airline (by domestic carriage) with a market share of 38.4% in March, 2016. It is the fastest growing budget carrier in the world.


Urban Population statz

Of Air Passenger Traffic @ Indian Airports....

India Asks UK to Deport Mallya

India has asked the UK to deport Vijay Mallya, who has been chased by banks over unpaid loans and interest running into to thousands of crores, citing revocation of his passport and a non-bailable warrant against him.
The foreign ministry has written to the High Commission of the UK in Delhi requesting the deportation of Mallya, so that his presence can be secured for investigations over money laundering, ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told a press meet on Thursday, four days after India revoked the businessman's passport.
The Indian High Commission in the UK will also be issuing a similar note verbally to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Swarup said.
The passport was revoked after a Mumbai court issued the arrest warrant against Mallya in connection with a probe into alleged fraud in the Rs.900 crores IDBI Bank loan case. The Enforcement Directorate is probing whether he siphoned off money that his now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines had borrowed. Mallya and the company deny any wrongdoing.
Mallya, who had left India in early March, can approach the British authorities to grant him permission to continue his stay in that country or challenge the revocation of his passport.

Namma Metro Underground Link

Ventura AirConnect

Ventura AirConnect, the air-charter company promoted by a consortium of Surat's diamond barons, has won the state government's tender to launch intra-state air connectivity in May .
The company , which had started Surat-Bhavnagar operations in 2015 but later suspended the service, will be handed the contract by chief minister Anandiben Patel at the air show in Ahmedabad on Friday.. “Ventura will connect Surat to Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar and Ahmedabad with Surat, Bhuj, Kandla, Porbandar and Keshod,“ said Kartikey Garasia, CEO, Ventura AirConnect. Ventura presently owns two nine-seater Cessna (single turboprop) 208B Grand Caravans. “We plan to add three more aircraft. We have placed the order for Diamond 42 aircraft, which is expected to arrive from the US soon,“ Garasia said.
As per the contract, the state government will pay Rs.22,900 subsidy per flying hour for operating the services for three years. The average monthly subsidy will be for 200 hours. “We will be able to claim VAT relief on the subsidy amount payable by the government for 200 hours per month,“ said Garasia. The company is confident of clocking more than 400 flying hours a month.“Earlier, we had clocked over 287 flying hours in a month in the Surat-Bhavnagar and Surat-Rajkot services. We are focussing on Surat-Bhavnagar and Surat-Rajkot routes as development works are going on at other airports,“ he added.
This is the second attempt b the state government to connect various cities of Gujarat with flights. Last January, Maritime Energy Heli Air Services Ltd (MehAir) had launched the first-ever intra-state service with Gujarat State Aviation Infrastructure Co. Ltd (GUJSAIL) from Ahmedabad. However, it stopped the operations within just three months after failing to attract passengers. State civil aviation minister Saurabh Patel said, “Ventura AirConnect has proven record of operating between Surat and Bhavnagar.“

Satellite septet complete

India has joined an elite group of countries, including the US and Russia, to have their own satellite navigation system. Indian Space Research Organsation (Isro) successfully launched the PSLV-C33 delivering its payload, IRNSS-1G, the seventh and last in a constellation of satellites that make up the indigenous GPS system.
An XL version of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLVC33) placed the satellite in orbit around 20.19 minutes after lift off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 12.50 pm. Congratulating scientists on the successful launch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the new technology will not only help India but can also help the Saarc nations.
“The new technology will benefit our people, our fishermen,“ he said. “The world will know it as Navic.“ he said. The EU and China, along with US and Russia, have indigenous satellite navigation systems.
IRNSS mission director B Jayakumar said the complete network of seven satellites will be fully functional within two months. “The first six satellites in the orbit have already started functioning from their designated orbits,“ he said.
When the entire network becomes fully operational, it can provide navigation and positioning services to users via their smartphones and devices in vehicles with an expected positional accuracy of 20 metres. It can also provide the service in areas that require high-precision for marine navigation, rail transport, aviation and military applications with an accuracy of 10 m.
But for the positioning service to reach the common man on a handheld device may take some time as it will require Isro's installation of additional hardware. An Isro official said the space agency had developed a coded chipset that can be incorporated with an existing receiver of a smartphone or any positioning device on vehicles, ships or planes to communicate with the satellite and get position information. “But entrepreneurs have to step up and make these chipsets on a large scale,“ he said.
Isro has also been conducting meetings with navigation device manufacturers and mobile phone manufacturers to demonstrate how IRNSS could provide accurate information on par with US's GPS, which is the most widely-used system in the world. Compared to the US GPS, which has a precision of 5 m and global coverage, IRNSS covers a 1,500 km radius with India at the centre. However, it will reduce India's dependence on the US and Russia's GLONASS particularly during emergencies, including military situations. The IRNSS project was envisioned after the US denied GPS information during the Kargil war.

Maharashtra's Cereal output to fall by 41%

Maharashtra's production of cereals is set to plummet by as much as 41% and oilseeds by 56% in the recently concluded rabi season on account of the fierce drought in the state. The production of rabi pulses is also expected to fall by 30% compared to 2014-15, according to the latest government estimates.
The kharif or monsoon crop, which is the main crop in the state, has also been impacted. The state is expecting a 28% drop in the the output of kharif foodgrains this year. In 2014-15, kharif foodgrain production was 98 lakh tonnes. It is expected to fall to 70 lakh tonnes in 2015-16. Maharashtra produces roughly 10% of the foodgrains in the country .Cash crops during the kharif season also witnessed a decline with sugarcane production expected to fall by 19% compared to 2014-15. However, cotton production will go up by as much as 11%, according to the estimates.
These figures were revealed during a review meeting conducted by the state government on Thursday to prepare for the next kharif season, which will begin with the monsoon. Over the last year, the state had an average of only 59.4% rainfall but officials said they are hoping for a better forecast this June.



Bombay HC cuts water by 50% to breweries in 12 districts

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court on Tuesday ordered a 50% cut in water supply to liquor and beer industries in 12 of the state's parched districts from Wednesday till May 10. The cut has been imposed in Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed, Parbhani, Nanded, Latur, Hingoli and Osmanabad in Marathwada, and Ahmednagar, Jalgaon, Nandurbar and Dhule. After May 10, the units will face a 60% cut till June 10, the HC said, allowing the government to impose more cuts if needed.
For general industries, it has ordered a 20% cut till May 10, with an additional 5% cut till June 10, when it will hear the matter next.
The HC also sought weekly reports on the water scenario. Petitioner Sanjay Kale said he would request the government to implement the order in the entire state.


Story of FDI inflows

Water statz

EPF Rates pared

Somewhere in Surat....

Coffee with Captain

After Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh's Canadian tour hit a roadblock, he has decided to go full-throttle back home with as many as 80 events planned under his `Coffee with Captain' campaign. After his return from the US, Amarinder's the interactions with voters, mainly some meetings with farmers, will now go on for at least three more months.
Sources in the Punjab Congress said that the plan worked out by political strategist Prashant Kishor got Amarinder's nod on Sunday and nitty-gritty of interactions with different communities ­ farmers, women, teachers and traders will be now worked out.
In his trademark style, Kishor's team Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) will also be finalizing the branding for each sub-campaign and the interactions with farmers will be held in village-like ambiance with the audience seated on cots. The theme `Coffee with Captain' will also be changed from time to time. Alongside, other campaigns will be launched to keep pace with the rival parties.
Amarinder's direct interactions in smaller towns in the heartland of Punjab will also help the Congress counter Aam Aadmi Party's `Punjab Dialogue' launched recently , as part of which its leaders are taking feedback from the youth for the manifesto. “AAP's Punjab dialogue does not have its tall leaders like Arvind Kejriwal interacting with people as was the case in Delhi Dialogue. This is where Amarinder's mass contact with so many voters from different section is expected to of the society is expected to have more impact,“ said a Congress leader.
So far, Amarinder has held four sessions of `Coffee with Captain' in Chandigarh, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala.
Even though there were plans to revive it after Amarinder's return with a few interactions, it has now been decided to go full throttle. So far, 5,000 students have attended the events held under the campaign.
The Amritsar MP is going in for an image makeover by holding extended meetings with party workers, besides embarking on his campaign for `barrier-free' two-hour spontaneous interactions with college students. In the next phase, he is likely to be meeting farmers across Punjab, depending on the logistics and the availability of the targeted community .
Rival parties have been closely watching response to the `Coffee with Captain' campaign, which is a new experiment for the state.

Of Jairam's PIL on Aadhaar bill....

The Supreme Court has sought AG Mukul Rohatgi's stand on Congress MP Jairam Ramesh's PIL challenging introduction of Aadhar bill in Parliament as a `money bill' accusing the BJP-led NDA government of committing a `Constitutional fraud' and acting mala- fide to bypass RS approval.
“The introduction of Aadhar bill as a `money bill' was nothing but a brazen and malafide attempt to bypass the approval of Rajya Sabha which holds an important place in the Constitutional and democratic framework of lawmaking,“ Ramesh said, challenging the Constitutional validity of the Aadhar Act.
Congress leaders and senior advocates -P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal -appeared for Ramesh before a bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit.
They said the `money bill' route was a narrow channel not meant to cover an ordinary finance bill that would require approval of both Houses of Parliament.
The bench, without issuing notice to the Union government, asked the top law officer of the Modi government to present his stand.

Hiware Bazar

Amid desperate denizens scrounging for water in the drought-affected parts of Maharashtra stands a village which has not felt the need to call a single water tanker for the last 21 years! While other villages in the arid Ahmednagar district are digging borewells even up to 400 feet, the underground water table in Hiware Bazar is so good that the precious commodity is available barely 20 to 40 feet below. Though the village has banned water guzzling cash crops like sugarcane and banana, farmers here are still far richer than their counterparts in the region.For the record, no family is below the poverty line. Hiware Bazar, now a by word for watershed management and water conservation, had found special mention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's `Mann ki Baat' programme on Sunday . “People in this village have done exemplary work,“ Modi had said. Village sarpanch Popatrao Pawar, who has been specially invited by Modi for a cup of tea, said, “We are glad that our efforts are being recognized.“
The road to shaping the village to be self-sufficient has been a long and arduous one.Like any other village in the region, Hiware Bazar used to face a major water crisis each year because of the measly 200-300 mm rainfall it gets.“We kicked off our water conservation efforts in 1994-95. Various watershed management programmes and water conservation initiatives were started. But we realized that this alone was not going to help. So we decided to choose a cropping pattern,“ Pawar said. The village decided to shun water-intensive crops and opted for vegetables, fruits, flowers and pulses. Dairy development was encouraged. “We resolved that no borewell would be dug in the village and that every drop of water would be used cautiously .We have a water budget. The villagers meet on December 31 each year, during which a review of the rainfall and available water is taken. We then decide which crops can be grown in the next season. In fact, we decided to take a break from farming this year as there was no rain. The villagers reaped the last kharif crop and have stopped farming for the last four or five months since then,“ he said. Mohan Chattar, a villager, said taking a break from farming did not affect earnings.“The daily milk collection in the village is itself about 4,000 litres. Dairy farming brings in good money . There is also enough fodder here,“ he said. The village has a rule that no resident can sell his land to an outsider. “People from other villages migrate in search of jobs, particularly during tough times like these. However, it is migration in the reverse out here. Around 40 families have returned to the village from cities over the last few years,“ another villager said.
The villagers are not resting on their laurels and are already chalking out a ten-year plan. “Water scarcity is going to worsen. As part of our ten year plan, we will opt for growing pulses and oilseed crops and brand them. This will not only boost our earnings but also help save water,“ Pawar said. Pawar is unwilling to blame the poor monsoon for water scarcity . “It is lack of vision and discipline that brings about scarcity and drought,“ he said.
Politics is a strict no-no here. “There is neither politics nor liquor shops in the village.Both intoxicate and destroy development,“ said Chattar.

Somewhere in Maharashtra....

The state government-appointed Farm Distress Management Task Force, in its report, has recommended that sugarcane and Bt Cotton be banned in Marathwada and Vidarbha. Both the “killer crops“ should be replaced with food crops like oil seeds, pulses, maize and sorghum with state incentive and support price protection.
Renowned agrarian expert and head of the task force Kishore Tiwari submitted the report to the government, stating that 14 districts in Marathwada and Vidarbha region, where rain-sensitive cash crops like sugarcane and Bt cotton are cultivated, have witnessed farmer suicides and led to acute water shortage. These should be replaced with the food crops, he said, adding that sugarcane and Bt cotton have over-exploited water in the dry land region and resulted in the manmade drought.
“At present, only 35% of the 4 million distressed farmers of the 14 districts are getting fresh crop loans. Suicide is a burning issue in the area and hence Rs.10,000 crore additional farm credit cover should be provided to the 4 million farmers under institutional farm credit. The state can also cover them under the Prime Minister Crop Insurance scheme,“ stated Tiwari in his report.
Tiwari said that farm credit, crop pattern and cultivation practices are core issues related to the existing farm distress and agrarian crisis. The Farm Distress Management Task Force has asked the government to address these issues in the next kharif session.The task force has demanded a meeting on April 28 with the chief minister to discuss and resolve these issues.
Tiwari, who also heads the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti that works in the suicide-prone belts of Vidarbha region, was appointed by the government to lead the state panel to recommend steps to curb the rising numbers of farmer deaths and to find alternative crops suitable for cultivation in the area.
The state has already decided not to permit new sugar factories in Marathwada on account of the worst-ever drought in the region. The region is reeling under the crisis for the fourth consecutive year.


CJI Makes Emotional Appeal to PM

Supreme Court chief justice TS Thakur made an unusually direct and, at times, emotional appeal to PM Narendra Modi to increase the number of judges by six to seven times to clear up the mounting backlog of cases, improve investor sentiment and hasten economic development. “Whether a foreign investor invests will depend upon his faith in the ability of the country's judicial system to deal with his cases. Efficacy of the judicial system is vitally connected to development,“ he said at a joint conference of chief ministers and high court chief justices in the capital on Sunday.
“We are asking (for more funds, man power) not for the poor, not for those languishing in the jails, but for development.“ In his reply, Modi reminded the august gathering how he had been scoffed at when he had first suggested that courts work on holidays to deal with the pressures of increasing litigation.“Who do you think you are? I was told,“ he said in Hindi to much laughter. But he quickly added: “I understand your pain.“ He said greater clarity in drafting laws would help and invited the CJI and his senior colleagues to sit down with him and resolve the issue. “It is not enough to always criticise,“ Thakur had said earlier during his speech.“The entire burden (of delays, pending cases) cannot be shifted to the judges.“
Thakur said India had about 19,000 judges, which was “grossly inadequate“ for a country of over a billion which had seen an explosion in litigation. He cited Law Commission reports prepared 30 years ago that argued for at least a five-fold jump in the judge-population ratio from 10 for every million to 50 per million.

Somewhere in Andhra Pradesh....

Don't brand students as anti-national: Udhav

Uddhav Thackeray has slammed the BJP for condemning youth leaders such as Hardik Patel, Kanhaiya Kumar and the late Rahul Vemula as “anti-nationals“.Addressing a Shiv Sena conclave in Nashik on Sunday, Thackeray said the next chief minister of Maharashtra would belong to the Sena. He dropped broad hints that the Sena would snap poll ties with the BJP and go solo in the 2017 BMC elections. The parties had separately contested the 2014 state assembly elections.Stating that the country has the largest GenNext population in the world, Thackeray said the young generation was destined to lead India and it need to be guided in its task. “Rohit Vemula is no more, while Hardik Patel and Kanhaiya Kumar have been declared anti-national. How will the young generation work if they are condemned in such a manner?“ Thackeray asked.

Maharashtra's Start-Up Policy

The Maharashtra government is coming up with a start-up policy of its own. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has stressed that he wants Maharashtra to be the start-up capital of the country , and officials said the policy hopes to bring in more investment.
Many sops are being included in the policy , which is being drafted, to attract entrepreneurs. A venture capital fund will be set up, there will be concessions in labour regulations, environmental norms will be relaxed, making the process of allotting licences easier, and the number of licences will be reduced.
Officials said most features in Maharashtra's startup policy will be on the lines of the central government's policy . As part of the policy, the state government will offer concessions to start-ups.The state-run Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi) and state government have set up a Rs.200-crore venture capital fund to provide easy financing options to micro, small and medium entrepreneurs, who generally find it difficult to get funding.
The government also plans to have 2% reservation of space in IT parks for incubator firms. “We are trying to make available office space to the start-ups as this is one of the concerns that have been brought to our notice by industry experts,“ said an official. Officials said they are working out concessions in labour laws too. The central government has proposed to relax nine labour laws, which the state government too will do. “We are working on reducing the number of licences required to set up business, including relaxation in environment norms and permission,“ the official said.
Though Mumbai is the commercial capital of the country , it's start-up ecosystem is ranked third by Nasscom in its latest report, `Start-up India: The Momentous Rise of the Indian Start-up Ecosystem'. While Bengaluru tops the Nasscom index, the National Capital Region (NCR) takes second position.Chennai is first, while Pune is in second position among emerging cities.


Motown Exports

Religious Districts

Of China & India....

Domestic Air Traffic statz

Somewhere in Pune....

Water statz

Indian flotilla plans goodwill tour of Gulf

India is dispatching a flotilla of warships to the Persian Gulf to add military heft to its ongoing stepped-up diplomatic outreach to countries of the region while striking a fine balance between Sunni-led Arab states like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait on one hand and the Shiite Iran on the other.
Guided-missile destroyer INS Delhi, stealth frigates INS Tarkash and INS Trikhand, missile frigate INS Ganga and tanker INS Deepak of the western naval fleet will leave Mumbai for Dubai (UAE) on May 3.After three days in Dubai, the warships will reach Kuwait around May 12 before heading for Manama (Bahrain) and Muscat (Oman) and then finally return to Mumbai by May 27-28. Around the same time, from May 20 to 23, another Indian warship will be at the famous Bandar Abbas port city on southern coast of Iran.
That's not all. While defence minister Manohar Parrikar is slated to visit Oman in May, IAF's Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets and IL-78 mid-air refuelling aircraft will also touch down in the UAE for an exercise while returning from the Red Flag exercise at the Eielson airbase in Alaska (US) being held from April 28 to May 13.
With India's primary area of strategic interest stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Strait, the country's military establishment is cranking up ties with the Arab states as well as Iran.“The visits by our warships and aircraft to the Persian Gulf are aimed at enhancing defence relationships and inter-operability with the countries there as well as showing the Indian flag in this region of strategic importance,“ an official said. This military diplomacy is in tune with the political one to bolster economic and security bonds with a region that has around eight million Indian expatriates, apart from being a big trading partner and major source of energy, but has more than a few regional fault-lines..


India Signs Historic Paris Climate Pact

India on Friday signed the historic Paris climate agreement here along with more than 170 nations, marking a significant step that has brought together developing and developed nations for beginning work on cutting down greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar signed the agreement in the UN General Assembly hall at a high-level ceremony hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.The ceremony was attended by heads of government, ministers, corporate leaders and artists. “This is a moment in history. Today , you are signing a new covenant with the future,“ Ban said, adding that, “We are in a race against time“. The opening ceremony included music from students of New York's Julliard School and a short video bringing the “gavel moment“ from Paris to the signature ceremony .
The signing ceremony for set the record for the most countries to sign an international agreement on one day, previously set in 1982, when 119 countries signed the Law of the Sea Convention.

Somewhere in Bangalore....

The much-awaited underground Metro stretch between Cubbon Road and Majestic is all set to be thrown open to the public on May 4. Confirming the date, Union minister of urban development M Venkaiah Naidu said he'll be in the city to inaugurate the stretch, along with chief minister Siddaramaiah.
With the inauguration, the east-west corridor under Phase 1 will be finally complete. The 4.8 km-stretch will given commuters a feel of the ride down under. The complete stretch connects Byappanahalli in the east to Mysuru Road in the west. The underground section alone will have five stations and will connect the two corridors with Majestic -the city centre, from where people will be able to access inter-city and inter-state buses from the KSRTC bus terminus and the Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna railway station (City railway station).
On April 7, commissioner of Metro railway safety (CMRS) SK Mittal issued safety certificate for the line, following an inspection on April 5 and 6. However, he had mentioned that a few civil works were to be completed before commuters could be let in. Kharola said, “The few works mentioned by CMRS have been completed.We are finalizing the inaugural date depending on the schedules of the Union and state ministers.“
The underground stretch was expected to be ready by March but got delayed by almost two months; Metro authorities applied for safety clearance during the third week of March.
Kharola said the complete route (between Byappanahalli and Mysuru Road stations) will see footfalls go up to over 5 lakh a day.
The corporation maintained that the northern line from Peenya will be connected to Majestic by June-end. However, sources said it'll be possible only by September. On Tuesday, Godavari, the second tunnel-boring machine, finished drilling 1.5 km between Sampige Road and Majestic stations.

Forex kitty swells to record $360bn

The country's foreign exchange reserves rose by $333.7 million to reach a fresh life-time high of $360.3 billion in the week to April 15.
In the previous week, the reserves had increased by $157.4 million to $359.9 billion. The forex kitty increased on account of rise in foreign currency assets (FCAs), which constitute a major component of the overall reserves. FCAs rose by $341.4 million to $336.2 billion in the week under review, an RBI release said. FCAs, expressed in dollar terms, include the effect of appreciation and depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and the yen held in the reserves. Gold reserves remained unchanged at $20.1 billion.


India to Become $10t Economy by 2032: Kant

Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant gave a 2032 date to India becoming a $10-trillion economy, a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India should dream of a $20 trillion economy but did not fix a target. The PM, while speaking at the ET Global Summit last year had asked why the country could not dream of a $20-trillion economy and said his government was preparing the ground for it.
Kant, in a presentation before the Prime Minister, said the country needs to work towards a 10% growth rate year-on-year against its projected growth rate of 7.4% to achieve a $10 trillion economy by 2032.
Kant said the aim was to create 175 million jobs and achieving zero percent of Below Poverty Line population by 2032. “If we achieve a $10 trillion economy target by 2032 by a 10% growth rate year-on-year, the compounding effect would be such that ours could be a $20 trillion economy in the next 6-7 years after 2032. The 10% y-o-y growth is the biggest challenge.“
In his presentation, Kant said if India grows at 7% till 2032, its GDP will only be $6 trillion in 2032 against $2 trillion as on today while 5-6% of the population will remain below poverty line.
The new plan flows out of a Group of Secretaries report that talked of achieving 10% growth “year-on-year in the next five years“ by aiming at 10 `Champion States' growing at 12% and more, 4% agricultural growth rate, 10-12% growth in manufacturing and services, worldclass infrastructure and the advancements in technology and innovation.
The immediate targets specified for 2019 are India moving up to No. 1 Start-up destination, India's rank in Ease of Doing Business being in Top 30 and 60% digital penetration through JAM Platform and e-payment mobile applications for government programmes. Target for manufacturing contribution rising to 25% of GDP is fixed for 2022.
Kant said that each department's targets had been specified with clear dates and it will be monitored through an online dashboard by NITI Aayog. “It has never happened before in the history of the country,“ he added.

India Pips China as Top FDI Destination

India has replaced China as top destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) by attracting $63 billion worth FDI projects in 2015. “India was the highest ranked country by capital investment in 2015, with $63 billion-worth of FDI projects announced,“ according to fDi Intelligence, a division of The Financial Times.
Also there was an 8% increase in project numbers to 697. Major companies such as Foxconn and SunEdison have agreed to invest in projects valued at $5 billion and $4 billion, respectively, in India in 2015, it said. “India replaced China as the top destination for FDI by capital in vestment following a year of high-value project announcements specifically across the coal, oil and natural gas and renewable energy sectors,“ the report said.
It said the biggest change in greenfield FDI was the near tripling of greenfield FDI into India, at an estimated $63 billion. “In 2015, India was for the first time the leading country in the world for FDI, overtaking the US (which had $59.6 billion of greenfield FDI) and China ($56.6 billion),“ the report noted.
Minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha tweeted: “India emerges on top in attracting FDI.“
Of the top 10 destination states for FDI in 2015, India claims five places, with the top place going to Gujarat, which attracted $12.4 billion.

Taj Connemara to be Shut for Renovation

The iconic Vivanta by Taj-Connemara -a landmark heritage hotel in the heart of Chennai -will be shut down for major renovation from May 10. Operated by the Taj Group on lease from Spencer's, the property is expected to take more than a year for the facelift.
The 150-room art deco hotel is one of the oldest heritage hotels in Chennai. “...the legendary hotel, when fully renovated, will ensure that the discerning traveler finds all modern amenities and conveniences discreetly placed beneath the hotel's old world charm, colonial legacy and heritage for which it has been admired for over a century,“ the hotel said in a statement.
Apart from Vivanta by Taj-Connemara, Taj Group operates four other properties in the city which include Taj Coromandel, Vivanta by Taj ­ Fisherman's Cove, Taj Club House and Gateway Hotel IT Expressway. A spokesperson for the hotel chain did not disclose the investment set aside for the renovation.
This is the second landmark hotel in India to be shut down temporarily after the Oberoi Delhi, which closed from April 1 for major renovations and is expected to be open by April 1, 2018.
Built in 1854 as the Imperial Hotel, the property was renamed Albany in 1886, and finally re-established as The Connemara in 1890 in honour of Robert Bourke, the Baron of Connemara; the Governor of Madras from 1886 to 1890. The Connemara Hotel came under the Taj Group on a lease from Spencer's in 1984 and was initially called Taj Connemara. In September 2010, the hotel was re-branded under Vivanta.

1 crore homes give up LPG subsidy

The number of households that have voluntarily given up subsidy on LPG (domestic cooking gas supplied in cylinders) crossed one crore, firing a shot in the arm of Ujjwala -the Modi government's scheme to provide gas connections free of cost to women from five crore BPL (below poverty line) families in the next three years.
The number of households surrendering subsidy represents over 6% of the total registered LPG consumer base and comes within a year of the PM's appeal. The pace of surrenders is an indication that the Modi magic is still working among cooking gas consumers, especially from the middle class who make up the bulk of the households that have foregone subsidy.
Modi had launched the `Give It Up' campaign on March 27, 2015. While inaugurating `Urja Sangam', a global energy meet, he appealed the economically well-off to voluntarily surrender subsidy and promised to give back LPG connections to poor households.
Till late Thursday afternoon, the government's website for Pahal -the scheme for cash transfer of cooking gas subsidy -said 1,00,06,303 households had voluntarily given up subsidy. But the number was changed to 99,06,410 later in the evening.Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan is expected to announce the milestone number on Friday .
A subsidised cylinder costs Rs.419.13 in Delhi, while a non-subsidised refill for domestic use costs Rs.509.50. Consumers are currently entitled to 12 cylinders of 14.2 kg each in a year at subsidised rates.
The government intends to provide gas connection to 1.5 crore BPL households free of cost in this financial year. The number of surrendered subsidy covers two-thirds of this target and would make the government's task financially easier.
The Ujjwala scheme was announced in the budget, which earmarked Rs.2,000 crore for rolling out 1.5 crore BPL connections in this fiscal. Subsequently, the Cabinet on March 10 decided to expand the scope to five crore BPL connections in the next three years and earmarked atotal of Rs.8,000 crore.
The Ujjwala scheme will no doubt help improve women's health -especially in rural areas -and the environment. But it is also expected to yield rich political dividends for parties, making LPG the new vehicle for political outreach.

World Earth Day

Mumbai's 3 big rail projects to start by August

Three delayed projects, which promise to ease commuting on the city's suburban network, received a major boost after the railway ministry and the state government addressed the roadblocks to enable work on them to begin by August 2016. These include an elevated rail corridor between Bandra and Virar, a road and rail corridor between CST and Panvel and cab signalling system on the Harbour line.
The decision was taken at a meeting between railway minister Suresh Prabhu and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday . Moreover, to expedite other projects across Maharashtra, the railway ministry and the state government are close to setting up an SPV , called the `Maharashtra Railway Infrastructure Development Company'.Work can begin once the company is registered, said Prab hu. The SPV will complete nine projects across the state worth Rs.23,000 crore, which Fadnavis said have been pending for years.
Bottlenecks in the crucial projects--CST-Panvel elevated corridor, Bandra-Virar elevated corridor and cab signalling system--were also addressed and it has been decided to execute them on a cost-sharing basis. Prabhu said a remodelling of CST station will also be undertaken to increase passenger handling capacity .The project includes an underground corridor which will be connected to the proposed Metro at Azad Maidan. This will also boost CST-Churchgate connectivity , said Prabhu. Besides, 33 stations across the state will be upgraded vertically so that malls and food courts can be constructed on top of the station buildings.
Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation chairman and managing director Prabhat Sahai said, “While the WR elevated corridor will be executed on the public-private-partnership model, work on CST-Panvel elevated corridor will be carried out on cash contract basis.Cab signalling will be included in Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III.“
A CR official said, “The introduction of cab signalling will help us run more services on Harbour line as the frequency achieved per train will be two minutes compared to existing four minutes.“ Sahai said the detailed project report of the WR elevated line and CST-Panvel hi-speed line will have to be updated. MMRDA has kept on hold its plan to extend the Eastern Freeway , paving the way to build the elevated CST-Panvel road via P D'mello Road, he added.
The WR elevated rail project was stalled in 2013 after the state government asked the railway ministry to run the corridor only between Bandra-Virar instead of extending it to Churchgate. It felt that the proposed Metro-III corridor (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) will cater to commuters in South Mumbai.

Dynamic trials of the first air-conditioned rake on Mumbai's suburban system will be held from May 15, said railway minister Suresh Prabhu. Static trials were on and dynamic trials will be conducted for three months.

Women enter Trimbakeshwar temple sanctum

Marking a departure from a 500-year-old tradition, three women activists from Pune entered the sanctum sanctorum of the Trimbakeshwhar Temple near Nashik amid protests, and worshipped the deity on Thursday. Vanita Gutte, Mayuri Deshmane and Hema Jha of Swarajya Mahila Sanghathana reached the temple around 5.30 am amid tight police security and waited for the one-hour window from 6 am, when devotees are allowed into the temple.
The temple trust had recently decided to allow women into the “garbha griha“ for an hour every day , provided they followed the dress code--wearing wet cotton or silk clothes. The decision was made after the Bombay high court held in March that entry to temples was a fundamental right of women. On Thursday , the Trimba keshwar temple trustees allowed the three activists--Vanita Gutte, Mayuri Deshmade and Hema Jha -to enter the sanctum, while other worshippers, cleaners and priests also helped them.
Gutte and her supporters were then driven in private vehicles to Nashik, 30 km from Tribakeshwar, with police vans escorting them. “About 50 senior police officers ensured the activists' security ,“ ASP Prashant Mohite said.
However, a section of residents called a bandh opposing the women's entry into the sanctum. All shops and kiosks around the temple remained closed. “We are deeply hurt and ashamed that we could not preserve the temple's tradition,“ said Sunil Lohgaonkar, a local resident. On Wednesday , the three women had filed an FIR, accusing 200 people, including four former mayors of Trimbakeshwar, of attacking them during their attempt to enter the core area of the shrine.
“This is a victory of the Indian Constitution which gives equal rights to men and women at all places of worship. We fought a prolonged battle. At times, they manhandled and abused us. But finally , the law prevailed,“ Gutte said, as she walked out of the temple. She hoped all women devotees would now get access to the temple's core areas on the lines of Shani Shingnapur and Mahalaxmi temples.


Services Exports: February 2016

Still a Long Way to Go....

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan cautioned that being the world's fastest-growing major economy shouldn't breed complacency , setting in context his remark that “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king“. The latter comment, made recently in the US about India's growth in the backdrop of global economic uncertainty , appears to have hit a political nerve.
“Growth... is just one measure of performance,“ Rajan told students graduating from NIBM in Pune on Wednesday . “The level of per capita GDP is also important. We are still one of the poorest large countries in the world on a per capita basis, and have a long way to go before we reasonably address the concerns of each one of our citizens.“
He compared the country's record with that of its northern neighbour, the world's fastest-growing economy until being overtaken by India. “We are often compared with China. But the Chinese economy , which was smaller than ours in the 1960s, is now five times our size at market-exchange rates,“ he said. “The average Chinese citizen is over four times richer than the average Indian. The sobering thought is that we have a long way to go before we can claim we have arrived.“
As head of RBI, he needed to have a clear-eyed, non-triumphalist view.“As a central banker who has to be pragmatic, I can't get euphoric if India is the fastest-growing large economy . Our current growth certainly reflects the hard work of the government and the people of the country , but we have to repeat this performance for the next 20 years,“ Rajan said. “We cannot get carried away by our current growth superiority , for as soon as we believe in our own superiority and start distributing future wealth as if we already have it, we stop doing all that is required to continue growing... This movie has played too many times in India's past for us to not know how it ends.“ He also made the point that attempting to get to the literal meaning of every phrase uttered by a public figure would stifle debate.
“My intent was to signal that our outperformance was accentuated because world growth was weak, but we in India were still hungry for more growth,“ Rajan told the students.

India's Pollution