Maharashtra to issue unique land identification no. to plots

After digitisation of its land records, the Maharashtra government will now issue a Unique Land Parcel Identification Number to every parcel of land in the state.

The ULPIN is similar to an individual’s Aadhar, said an official. “The ULPIN is generated for every plot based on georeference coordinate of vertices of the parcel. It is based on the longitude and latitude coordinates of the land parcel and relies on surveys and cadastral maps,” said an official. Land records in the state include record of rights, spatial records (cadastral maps) and sale/transfer deeds

Maharashtra has carried out the digitisation of its land records since 2014 onwards and has completed 99% of it. It is still underway for 323 villages of a total of 44,874 villages, as per the central government. According to a Government Resolution issued on Thursday by the state revenue and forest department it is yet to complete the work of georeferencing of all the plots. There are 2. 62 crore digitised 7/12 extracts (Record of Rights) for rural Maharashtra and 60 lakh Property Registration Cards (PRC) for urban Maharashtra. Each of these digitised 7/12 extracts and PRCs will be issued a11-digit ULPIN. In rural areas the ULPIN will begin with 1,2,3 or 4 while in urban areas the ULPIN will begin with 5,6,7,8 or 9. There will be no duplicate ULPIN. And if a plot is divided or plots are amalgamated, then the mutation will get a fresh ULPIN from the centralised database, states the GR.

The project is being undertaken under the central government’s Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme earlier known as the National Land Records Modernisation Programme. It is wholly financed by the Centre.


400 MiG-21s lost since 1971-72, 200 pilots killed

Over 400 of the 872 MiG-21s progressively inducted since the 1960s have been lost in accidents since 1971-72, killing over 200 pilots and 50 civilians on the ground.

Even before the crash on Thursday, the IAF had drawn up the phase-out plan for the around 70 MiG-21 ‘Bisons’ and trainers still in its fleet. It was as part of this plan that the Srinagar-based ‘51 Sword Arms’ Squadron will be “number-plated” in September this year. The other three MiG-21 squadrons at Uttarlai, Suratgarh and Nal in Rajasthan will subsequently be retired over the next three years. The 51 Squadron had played a major role in thwarting Pakistan Air Force’s retaliation a day after the IAF’s pre-dawn air strikes on the Jaish facility at Balakot on February 26, 2019.

Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman, then a Wing Commander, was awarded a Vir Chakra for shooting down a F-16, while hi s MiG-21 also went down during the aerial skirmish on that day.

“The Soviet-era MiG-21s played a stellar role in air operations as high-altitude supersonic interceptors during the 1965 and 1971 wars. But they are long past their retirement date,” a senior officer said.

Carlyle, Advent to put $1.1bn in Yes Bk for 10% stake each

Yes Bank will raise $1. 1 billion (around Rs 8,900 crore) from funds affiliated to two global private equity firms — Carlyle and Advent International. Each investor will potentially get a 10% stake in the private lender.

In a statement issued here, the bank said it would issue 370 crore equity shares on a preferential basis for Rs 13.8 per share and 257 crore warrants at Rs 14.8 per warrant, adding Rs 8,900 crore to its equity capital base. The deal was announced after market hours, with the bank’s shares closing 2.5% up at Rs 15.

SBI, HDFC, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, and Kotak Mahindra Bank are among the investors who stepped in to bail out Yes Bank after its collapse two years ago. These investors have their shares locked in until March 2023 for a big chunk of their holding, and at current valuations, they would have earned a return of 50% on their investment.

Yes Bank MD & CEO Prashant Kumar said, “We are not aware of any large financial institution that has successfully come out of reconstruction. In most cases, there has either been a merger or a liquidation. We have come out successfully with the formation of a new board, and all the issues facing the bank have been addressed. There has been growth both on the loan and deposit sides. We are also innovatively addressing the NPAs (non-performing assets) by getting them off the bank’s book and ensuring that the upside in recovery continues to flow to us. ”

The capital raise is subject to shareholders’ approval at the EGM of the bank to be held on August 24, 2022, and relevant approvals. Once approved, this would be one of the largest private capital raises by an Indian Private Sector Bank “The $1.1 billion we raise and the quality of investors we bring will raise confidence. We have stood by our word and are raising fresh equity after completing two years after our initial fund raise of Rs 15,000 crore in July 2020, although many thought that we would be back earlier. And this time, the equity raise is not for survival but growth. Since the bank is out of reconstruction, the capital adequacy ratio also should be in line with peers,” said Kumar.

Kutch dates to sweeten palates across the country

Efforts have picked up to accord official recognition to the best quality dates from Kutch. The best varieties will be registered in the name of the farmers concerned, which will enable them to earn grafting royalty from agro-companies There are around 20 lakh trees of date palm in Kutch and 17 lakh of them are indigenous, 60 per cent of which have grown from seedlings. Kutch is perhaps the only region in India which has a lot of diversity in date and the naturally grown date in Kutch has no official recognition now. For their convenience, the farmers use names like Dawoodi, Yakubi, Ghanshyam for their varieties in an informal way.

The Date Palm Research Station at Mundra (part of Dantiwada Agricultural University) and the Central Institute for Arid Horticulture at Bikaner will help the farmers recognize good quality dates in their farms and get them registered with the appropriate authority. A decision regarding this was taken at a national-level consultation meeting held in Kutch in July second week. Research scientist C M Murlidharan, who is also head of the research station at Mundra, said: “If a farmer has 1,000 plants, it is possible that 10 of them have extraordinary qualities. We will asses the quality on the parameters like sweetness in fruit, the minimum weight of a fruit being 25gram, fibre content, and rain tolerance. We will go to the farms, do testing and evaluate the variety. ”

Once a variety is registered in the name of a farmer, he will earn royalty from grafting. The registration will be done by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority, a statutory body under the ministry of agriculture. 

According to scientists, dates are grown in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kutch but the quality of the fruit in Kutch is the best. In Tamil Nadu, farmers get fruits in a gap of two to three years. “There is a scarcity of good quality dates in the country and Kutch has the potential to provide this. We will evaluate and find good indigenous variety, which can be cultivated in other parts of the country,” Murlidharan added.

The dates produced in Kutch are mainly used for direct consumption. But if processed and marketed as dry dates, then the value addition will also help the farmers. Dry dates can be used in products like mouth freshener, date flavoured ice cream, in sugarfree items with natural sugar of dates, and in making of chocolates.

Maharashtra Plans Mega Infra Push to Ease Mumbai’s Travel Woes

The government of Maharashtra is working toward connecting major nodal centres in and around Mumbai and is already preparing a special plan for the metropolis' transportation infrastructure keeping in mind the evolving needs over the next two decades.

Of the key ongoing infrastructure projects, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, is expected to be completed by the end of next year helping improve the connectivity further, said SVR Srinivas, metropolitan commissioner of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.

“At the moment, travelling even from places like Malabar Hill to Bandra-Kurla Complex takes more than 45 minutes. Once the MTHL project is operational, commuting even to Navi Mumbai will happen in 20 minutes. This would lead to a similar boom in these districts as well,” Srinivas said. According to him, enhancing connectivity is the key for the affordable housing ecosystem in Mumbai and its peripheral locations including places like Neral-Karjat, which will witness explosive growth with completion of several ongoing infrastructure projects. He was speaking at a conference organized by the National Real Estate Development Council. Maharashtra’s Neral-Karjat unit. “The city has a lot of space constraints; so it is critical to develop another city that not only meets the space criteria, but also provides facilities and offers affordable housing options,” said Gautam Thacker, president, Naredco Neral-Karjat.

According to him, as major industrial zones including MIDCs are in the Neral-Karjat-Panvel belt and along with expansion of JNPT, JNPT SEZ and the new airport; it provides residents with a variety of social amenities as well as employment opportunities in the IT & ITeS sector and knowledge-based research institutes. To ensure this trend continues all issues — be it civic, infrastructure, or even basic — will be addressed with assistance from governments and other agencies. “The government is investing in improving infrastructure in the Neral-Karjat belt, which, in turn, is contributing significantly to the region's residen- tial and commercial development growth, boosting overall real estate growth, and elevating and improving the quality of life for its residents,” said Rajan Bandelkar, president, Naredco India.

In recent years, residential supply has been increasing in Karjat and Neral, which were once devoid of infrastructure and connectivity. However, the government is constructing a slew of mega infrastructure projects now that will benefit homebuyers and spur real estate development. These mega infrastructure projects include the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, the Navi Mumbai International Airport, local railway connectivity via the Panvel-Karjat line, which is expected to be completed by 2024.

5G Auction Enters Day 5

The government added another ₹232 crore to its kitty from India’s first 5G spectrum auction on Friday, taking its total proceeds to ₹149,855 crore at the end of day four, driven entirely by the fight for the 1,800 MHz in UP (East) which ensured that the action will now move into day five.

The fourth day of the sale saw seven more rounds of bidding, with the per unit price of the 1800 MHz band increasing by 49% over its base price, to ₹ 135.6 crore for UP (East). The price jumped, said industry trackers, as Bharti Airtel fought with larger rival Reliance Jio to protect its market share in India’s most populous circle with some of its airwaves expiring in 2024.

Analysts estimate the outflow for the 1800 MHz band pan India has surged almost five times to ₹ 10,057 crore from the base price of ₹ 2,116 crore. At the end of Friday’s bidding, analysts estimated the spends for Jio to be over ₹ 84,000 crore, while Airtel’s spending is expected to be over ₹ 46,000 crore and that of Vi, to be around ₹ 18,500 crore. Day five with start from round 24, with some industry watchers expecting the sale to go onto Monday.

Bharti Airtel has 5 MHz of liberalised spectrum, or airwaves bought in an auction, in the efficient 900 MHz band and another 6. 2 MHz of unliberalised 900 MHz spectrum in UP-East, which is expiring in February 2024, said an industry executive. Unliberalised spectrum refers to those allotted administratively, or without auctions. “So, Bharti will be in a spot, post Feb 2024, as it will be left with just 5 MHz of liberalised 900 MHz spectrum, which won't be enough to compete with Jio, especially if the latter has acquired 10 MHz of 700 band in UP-East as well,” the executive said. 

Hence, Airtel is engaging in a bidding war with Reliance Jio to prevent a business crisis by targeting an extra 5 MHz in the 1800 MHz band to defend market share in this key circle. More so since there is no 900 MHz spectrum on offer in this circle in this auction.

Currently, Bharti Airtel has 15 MHz of liberalised spectrum in 1800 MHz band in UP-East, while Vi and Jio have less -10 MHz each in this band. “The demand for spectrum in the UP-E service area of the 1800MHz band was for 15 MHz compared to 10.8 MHz on offer,” thus driving up the price, Credit Suisse said in a note.

June 2022: Core sector grows in double digits

Core sector index expanded 12.7% in June, second straight month of double-digit growth, on the back of a sharp spike in petroleum refining, power and coal output. The numbers for June show that the eight core sector industries, which account for 40% of industrial output, grew at a slower pace than the 19.3% jump in May but faster than the pace of expansion a year ago . But at the dis-aggregated level the growth was not broadbased. Crude oil production saw a 1.7% decline in June, while natural gas and steel production saw a meagre growth of 1.2% and 3.3%, respectively.

What will provide relief to policymakers is the 31% jump in coal production given that the sector has been hit in recent months, as well as a 15.5% rise in power generation. With the onset of monsoon, however, coal production may be affected.

Time for India to become a market maker: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was time for India to become a market maker instead of merely remaining a market as he inaugurated the India International Bullion Exchange.  The exchange — the third such initiative globally, set up with an aim to enable India to become an influencer for global bullion prices — will help India achieve that role, given that India was a large consumer of gold and silver, Modi said. “With gold trade getting more and more organised through this exchange, India will be in a position to fix gold prices and it will leave an impact across the world. ”

The PM said India is now in the company of a select bunch of countries such as the US, the UK and Singapore, where new trends in the global financial sector are shaped.

After laying the foundation stone of the headquarters of the International Financial Services Centre Authority, Modi said the Indian economy was poised to grow bigger and India needed institutions that can facilitate its growing role in the world economy. “India is one of the largest economies of the world. So, in the future, when our economy will be bigger than it is today, we have to be ready for it now. For this, we need institutions that can cater to our present and future role in the global economy,” Modi said. He pointed to India accounting for 40% of real-time digital payments in the world.

The PM emphasised on integrating with global markets. “For us, integration is the biggest important agenda. Integration with global markets. In the global supply chains, we are fast integrating with them. GIFT City is an important gateway to connect with the global opportunities. When you integrate with GIFT City, you will integrate with the entire world. ”

During his tenure as the Gujarat CM, Modi had envisaged GIFT City as the global financial hub in 2007 and inaugurated it in 2013. “IFSC shall work as the Connect, that is, to enable cross-border bridging so that capital markets have India and Singapore,” said finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Delays likely to push bullet train cost up by over ₹50L cr

The cost of the country’s first high-speed rail, or bullet train, project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, is likely to cross Rs 1.6 lakh crore, excluding GST, due to delay in its implementation, primarily on account of Covid-19 pandemic and land acquisition issues. In the feasibility study in 2015, the estimated cost was pegged at Rs 1.08 lakh crore.

While sources said the rise in the cost is a foregone conclusion considering increased expenditure on land acquisition, rise in prices of cement, steel and other raw materials, the project implementation agency — National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited — maintained that the revised cost can be arrived at only “after the award of all the contracts and completion of land acquisition”.

The 508km project, launched in September 2017, had the initial deadline of 2022 end for its full operation. Official data shows that till now 100% land has been acquired only in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. While in Gujarat the land acquisition is around 98.9%, it’s barely 73% in Maharashtra. The government has now set the 2026 deadline for operation of the first phase, which is only a 51km stretch between Surat and Bilimora in Gujarat.

The government has not yet set any timeline for the entire stretch to become operational, though now it’s hopeful of speeding up the execution after the change of guard in Maharashtra.

In a written response to a question from BJP lawmaker Sushil Kumar Modi in Parliament on Friday, the railway ministry said: “Phasewise opening plan to be decided after completion of land acquisition, finalisation of contract packages and associated timelines. Delay in execution of project caused due to delay in land acquisition and contract finalisation in Maharashtra as well as Covid-19. ”


BSNL gets new lease of life

The government announced a hefty revival package of Rs 1.64 trillion for state-owned telecom service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam. This package for the ailing company is much bigger than the Rs 74,000-crore bailout announced in October 2019. 

The fresh package, which was approved by the Union Cabinet, comprises conversion of the company’s dues into equity, financial support and allocation of spectrum to provide 4G services. It may be mentioned that the 2019 package also included Rs 23,814 crore towards allocation of 4G spectrum.

In addition, Bharat Broadband Network, the special purpose vehicle which was created to lay a country-wide fibre network called BharatNet, will be merged with BSNL to boost its infrastructure and support telephony services.

The revival measures focus on fresh capital for upgrading services, allocating spectrum, de-stressing its balance sheet and augmenting its fibre network by BBNL, the telecom minister said, adding that the package has a cash component of Rs 43,964 crore and a non-cash component of Rs 1.2 trillion spread over four years.

However, most of the package will be implemented in the first two years, the minister added.

The Cabinet approved the allocation of 900/1800 MHz band spectrum worth Rs.44,993 crore to BSNL so that it can provide 4G services. The allocation has been made because the company did not participate in the ongoing auctions to buy spectrum.

Vaishnaw said that the allocation of spectrum will allow BSNL to compete in the market and provide high-speed data.

For technology upgrades, the government will fund a capex of Rs 22,471 crore over the next four years to boost development and deployment of indigenous fourth generation or 4G stack, Vaishnaw said.

Also, the government will provide Rs 13,789 crore to BSNL as a viability gap funding for commercially-unviable rural wireline operations done during 2014-15 to 2019-20.

To de-stress its balance sheet, Rs 33,404 crore of statutory dues will be converted into equity and the government will give a sovereign guarantee to the company to raise long-term bonds of Rs 40,399 crore to repay its current high-cost debt.

Also, BSNL will re-issue a preference share of Rs 7,500 crore to the government.

The authorised capital of BSNL will be increased from Rs 40,000 crore to Rs 1.5 trillion in lieu of dues, provision of capex and allotment of spectrum.

The Union Cabinet also approved a project for saturation of 4G mobile services in uncovered villages across the country at a total cost of Rs 26,316 crore.

The project will provide 4G mobile services in 24,680 uncovered villages in remote and difficult areas, he said.

Indian Navy Gets Its First Locally Developed Aircraft Carrier Vikrant

The first indigenous aircraft carrier has been delivered to the Indian Navy after a series of acceptance trials that validated its performance at sea. The warship will be formally commissioned next month and will initially operate with MiG 29K fighter jets and a variety of helicopters.

The Vikrant, which has been built at close to ₹20,000 crore and at 45,000 tonne displacement, is by far the biggest-ever warship constructed in India. Named after INS Vikrant, India’s first aircraft carrier that saw operations in the 1971 war, the ship’s keel was laid in February 2009 at the Cochin Shipyard Ltd.

Besides the government-owned shipyard and other PSUs, many Indian companies have contributed to the carrier, including Larsen and Toubro and Kirloskar.

Officials said that the ship has 76% indigenous content, with the design being carried out in-house by the Directorate of Naval Design. “With the delivery of Vikrant, India has joined a select group of nations having the niche capability to indigenously design and build an aircraft carrier,” officials said.

India currently has only one aircraft carrier –– the INS Vikramaditya –– procured from Russia.

The Navy has on several occasions said that the nation requires a total of three aircraft carriers to look after the vast areas of responsibility.

“The ship would be capable of operating an air wing consisting of 30 aircraft comprising MIG29K fighters, Kamov-31, MH-60R helicopters, in addition to indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters and Light Combat Aircraft (Navy),” officials said.

The Navy also received two of the MH 60R helicopters in Kochi on Thursday.

The Green Doctor Who Restored Delhi's Lungs

When CR Babu was given the charge to make a biodiversity park on the banks of the Yamuna in Delhi in 2001, he was appalled that the 156 acres of land only had some salt-loving bushes and common weeds. Babu, then Delhi University pro-vice-chancellor and head of the Centre for Environment Management of Degraded Ecosystems under the university, found the underground water to be highly saline even at the depth of 20 feet at Jagatpur village, where the park was supposed to be made.

Today, looking at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, it is hard to imagine that it is man-made and it came out of such barrenness. The park is the first of its kind globally.

Babu took up the project as a challenge and an opportunity. It has paid off. The park is now home to thousands of forest communities, fruit yielding species and medicinal herbs, biologically rich wetlands and hundreds of animals, birds, butterflies and insects. “We recruited scientists with the help of the Delhi Development Authority and studied the river basin stretch from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh to Haridwar in Uttarakhand to identify plant species along the stretch,” Babu said.

“After 40-45 plant communities were identified, their saplings were planted at the site,” he said. For two years, success eluded the team as “most of the plant species died because of the excessive salt”. “We then found some grass species in a saline area and the grass improved the soil from 12 pH to 7 pH. It made the soil neutral. It took almost 10 years to develop these three-storey forest communities with a tree canopy as high as 45 feet,” Babu said.

“We desilted the wetlands and used the material for landscaping and introduced aquatic plant species. In the first year of restoration of the wetlands, thousands of migratory birds arrived here,” Babu added. The park now attracts a large number of wild animals, birds and insects. Species of birds that were given up as lost have returned to the park, such as the black crowned night heron that has reappeared in the Tamarix and Phragmites plantations on the shallow wetland.

The restored Tamarix-Sacchharaum community also attracted a leopard in 2016. Hog deer, which was abundant in Delhi but lost, has made the park its home. Similarly, the Seibold snake Ferania sieboldii, lost some 70-80 years ago, was seen in the wetlands. The national capital now has seven biodiversity parks, which have been developed on such barren land. “It was a difficult task to create these parks. The Aravalli Biodiversity Park has been developed on a rocky habitat. Similarly, the Kamla Nehru Ridge, Tughlakabad Biodiversity Park and others had a lot of challenging problems such as monkey menace, invasive species and human disturbances,” Babu, who is 81 and continues to steer the Biodiversity Parks Programme, said. These biodiversity parks are the lungs of Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities. The three-storey-forest canopy helps in filtering pollutants, particularly PM1 and PM2. 5, from both point and nonpoint sources. They buffer the local weather conditions and help in carbon sequestration as a huge quantity of carbon is stored in the soil. They also recharge groundwater and store floodwater: 1.4 million gallons of rain was harvested by the seven biodiversity parks during the monsoon last year. “The plant resources can be used for drug development. They provide recreation to the public and students get practical environmental education at these parks,” Babu said. 

Other states have started following the biodiversity park model for their cities. “The Union ministry of environment and forest and climate change has directed all chief ministers to create biodiversity parks in each state capital and all district head- quarters. Many states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have started making the parks. Our staff in the biodiversity parks are providing guidance to officials of these states,” Babu said. “Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have also developed biodiversity parks,” he added. The idea of the biodiversity park was born in 2001 when at a conference organised by the Delhi environment department, Babu threw light on the acute loss of biodiversity. His speech on the extinction of local species attracted the attention of then Lieutenant Governor Vijai Kapoor. Faiyaz Khudsar, the scientist in charge of the Biodiversity Parks Programme at CMEDE, said maintaining biodiversity parks is an uphill task. “After restoration, it requires long-term monitoring for its survival.

For instance, if any of the species is increasing in number, it is necessary to address the issue. It is difficult as one has to monitor it early in the morning and late in the night,” he said.


➤ Delhi Development Authority in collaboration with Centre for Environment Management of Degraded Ecosystems has developed seven biodiversity parks in Delhi in the past two decades

➤ The model of biodiversity parks of Delhi is being adopted in different states of the country and in the Indian sub-continent


Many reasons, including urban sprawl, climate change, air and water pollution, population pressure, habitat loss, land degradation & deforestation


➤ Effective filter for both point and nonpoint source of air pollution

➤ Recharge ground water and store flood water. Contribute to rejuvenation of rivers

➤ Major sink for carbon dioxide and store huge carbon stocks. Buffer local weather conditions

➤ Serve as a natural habitat for vanishing flaura and fauna. Harbour a rich environment microbiome

➤ Rich plant resources can be used for developing drugs

➤ Platform for research on ecosystem, environmental education

➤ Recreation to public and promote eco-tourism


M’rashtra Tops BT Startups List

Maharashtra registered the maximum number of new biotech startups in calendar year 2021, followed by Telangana and Karnataka, a new report showed.

The state had 145 new registrations, with Telangana (100), Karnataka (95), Uttar Pradesh (93) and Delhi-NCR (90) closely behind, according to the India Bioeconomy Report put out by the Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises.

Maharashtra is home to 966 biotech startups, the largest number in any state.

Karnataka follows with 697 startups, while Delhi-NCR has 590 and Telangana has 563 such enterprises. According to the report, 2021 was a landmark year as the biotech industry in India recorded over 1,000 new startup registrations for the first time ever in a calendar year.

By the end of the year, new startups rose to 1,128, taking the cumulative number to 5,365 biotech startups. It was 4,237 at the end of calendar year 2020.

Of the new startups registered in 2021, 444 are engaged in bio-manufacturing, 402 in bio-services, 152 in biotech trading, 90 in biotech machinery and equipment and 40 in bio-agriculture and allied areas.

Google’s Street View Goes Live in 10 Indian Cities

If you could take a “virtual walk” through New York’s famed Central Park sitting in Delhi earlier, now you can be in New York but stroll virtually in Delhi’s Lodhi Gardens as well, thanks to Google’s Street View.

Google launched the feature — already available in over 100 countries — across 10 cities in India, enabling users to get a 360-degree view of any iconic destination, restaurant or street. This comes after it announced plans to capture street-level images in 2011 but had to stop the process in 2016 after the government restricted it citing security issues. Google, which typically collects street-level images via cars and bikes fitted with cameras, is offering the service in partnership with Tech Mahindra and Genesys International.

The service has gone live in Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Nashik, Vadodara, Ahmednagar, and Amritsar. The feature, available under Google Maps, is expected to help real estate companies and travel firms as well as aid in better navigation for users.

According to India’s geospatial policy, released last year, geospatial data of a spatial accuracy that is below one metre horizontally and three metres vertically can be collected only by entities controlled by Indian citizens. “This is the first time in the world that Google Street View is being brought to life completely by local partners,” Miriam Daniel, VP-maps experiences, Google, “They (the partners) have covered 150,000 kilometres in India. We plan to expand this to 50 cities by the end of this year. ”

Google Maps will also show information on speed limits shared by traffic authorities, starting with Bengaluru and Chandigarh.

It will also provide information on road closures and incidents on Google Maps across eight cities, including Delhi, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Gurugram, Bengaluru, and Agra, to help people avoid congestion zones. 

Meanwhile, the Indian rival to Google Maps, MapmyIndia has also launched its own 360-degree panoramic street view offering called Mappls RealView. The service will be available on the digital mapping firm’s consumer mapping portal Mappls on the web and Mappls App on Android and iOS.

“As an Indian company competing with a monopolistic big-tech foreign giant for the consumer market,” MapmyIndia’s aims to show how indigenous, home grown deep-tech companies are giving “advanced capabilities to users in the areas of maps,” CEO Rohan Verma said.

Somewhere in Chhattisgarh....


Somewhere in Tamil Nadu....


Maharashtra: Cabinet nod to ₹45kcr revamp for power infrastructure

The Maharashtra cabinet has approved a Rs 45,000-crore scheme to revamp the entire electricity distribution network of the state. The project has three parts — upgrading distribution infrastructure, installing smart meters and digitalising the distribution system.

The state government will implement the project under the central government’s Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme, under which 60% of the project cost will be borne by the Centre. The scheme will be executed by two electricity distribution companies — MSEDCL and BEST — at a cost of Rs 39,602 crore and 3,461 crore, respectively. Officials said MSEDCL plans to install nearly 1. 6 crore smart metres on all connections barring agricultural consumers.

“The aim is to reduce aggregate technical and commercial losses. We also want to improve operational efficiency and financial sustainability of the distribution companies,” said an official from the energy department. The deadline for the project is 2024-25. 


Maharashtra: Plastic-coated items will be banned in state from today

The state government on Tuesday announced an immediate ban on plastic coated or laminated items such as plates, cups, spoons, glasses and containers. The ban is on manufacturing, import and use of these items.

At a meeting with the state environment department, CM Eknath Shinde endorsed the recommendation of the empowered committee set up to implement the Centre’s ban on single use plastic, which came into force on July 1. The committee, at its July 18 meeting, had recommended a ban on plastic coated and laminated products.

Ashok Shingare, member-secretary of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, said there is a ban on plastic use in the state since 2018. “There was ambiguity with regard to single-use plastic, so recently, we issued an amended notification explicitly banning it,” he said.

MPCB, along with local bodies, has been raiding and seizing such material from manufacturers and users.

India slams China, Pak for seeking participation of 3rd countries in CPEC

India slammed China and Pakistan for seeking participation of third countries in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, saying such actions directly infringe on India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and will be treated accordingly.

The CPEC, which passes through disputed Gilgit-Baltistan, is one of the reasons India continues to boycott China’s BRI. China and Pakistan recently invited participation of third countries in what is considered the flagship BRI project. “We have seen reports on encouraging a proposed participation of third countries in the so-called CPEC projects,” MEA said.


IGI is now world’s 13th busiest airport

Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport jumped three spots to become the 13th busiest airport in terms of passenger footfall in the year 2021. According to Airports Council International, IGIA saw 3.7 crore passengers— 30.3% more than 2. 8 crore in 2020 when it was the 16th busiest. Of the 12 airports that handled more passengers than the Delhi airport last year, 10 were in the US and two in China.

In 2019, IGIA had touched its highest ever annual figure of 6.9 crore passengers. The busiest airports in 2021 were Atlanta at 7.6 crore passengers, Dallas Fort Worth 6.2 crore passengers and Denver 5.9 crore passengers. Guangzhou in China was the busiest airport in terms of passenger footfall in 2020 and it fell to the eighth spot last year due to continuing travel restrictions in China.

In terms of aircraft movement, Delhi moved up seven spots to the 18th place in 2021 with 3.3 lakh planes flying in and out — 32% more than 2.5 lakh in 2020. The busiest airports in this category were Atlanta (7.1 lakh aircraft movements), Chicago (6.8 lakh) and Dallas Forth Worth (6.5 lakh).

ACI is the trade association of the world’s airports with 717 members, operating 1,950 airports in 185 countries. The latest data is for traffic at over 2,600 airports in more than 180 countries and territories. 

With four runways, three mega terminals, and India’s first elevated taxiway (to be operational by next year), Delhi International Airport Ltd is preparing to handle traffic that the world’s busiest hubs do and consolidate its position as India’s biggest airport.

ACI said in a statement: “In 2021, the world’s airports saw 4.6 billion passengers, representing an increase of 28.3% from 2020 or a drop of 49.5% from 2019. The top 20 airports, representing 19% of global traffic (86.3 crore passengers), experienced a gain of 42.9% from 2020 or a drop of 31.9% vis-à-vis their 2019 results (1.27 billion passengers in 2019). ”

ACI World director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira said: “2021 represents the beginning of the aviation industry’s recovery. While some of the perennial busiest airport leaders have re-joined upper ranks, other regions struggle to recover leading to new entrants in the top 20. ”

No Indian airport figured in ACI’s list of 20 busiest airports in terms of cargo handling last year. Hong Kong was at the top.

Web of E-Ways & Highways To Bring Delhi Closer To Key Cities

A web of expressways and access-controlled highways connecting Delhi with other major cities by the end of 2024 will make it one of the most well-connected national capitals in the world. Moreover, the interlinking of these high-speed corridors will ensure seamless connectivity for traffic coming from cities like Mumbai, Vadodara, Jaipur, Srinagar and Dehradun.

Highway ministry officials said six expressways and access-controlled highways — two completed and four under construction — will provide Delhi high speed connectivity. While the Eastern Peripheral Expressway and the Meerut Expressway have been completed, the remaining four — Delhi-Mumbai Expressway with connectivity with Jaipur and Jewar airport, Delhi-Amritsar-Katra, Delhi-Dehradun with a spur towards Ambala and the Urban Extension Road II — will be completed in 2024.

“The aim behind road connectivity is to ensure that people can reach or leave Delhi quickly and easily,” explained an official. “At present, it takes a long time to get out of the city because people need to take the clogged arterial roads due to the huge volume of local traffic. The new networks being developed will give multiple options to commuters to leave the city limits smoothly. ”

For example, once the Delhi-Dehradun Expressway is operational and the spur from Shamli to Ambala is completed, people can take the expressway from Akshardham to reach Ambala and Chandigarh. “This link will be 10-15km longer than the existing Delhi-Chandigarh highway, but people can save nearly two hours because they can drive at a higher speed,” said an official of National Highways Authority of India.

Similarly, the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway terminating at DND Flyway in Delhi will be connected with an elevated road till Akshardham. People coming from the cities in west India can take the Dehradun Expressway to reach Chandigarh and Srinagar. In fact, the existing seamless road network connectivity from Akshardham to Meerut and Yamuna Expressway will ensure high speed link to different parts of Uttar Pradesh, where several new expressways are being constructed.

According to the NHAI data, high speed road links measuring over 330km are being developed at an investment of Rs 50,000 crore and all these roads are directly linked with Delhi. While inaugurating the Pragati Maidan tunnel project, PM Narendra Modi had listed the expressways that were being built to improve connectivity with the capital and had said that with these networks Delhi would “be one of the best connected capitals across the globe” and would will “reduce the city’s urban burden”.

Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari has also said that providing multiple good road connectivity across Delhi-NCR will reduce the congestion and pollution burden on the capital. According to NHAI, the existing and upcoming highway links from Delhi will connect them to the new expressways in UP. And with the implementation of the toll collection through the automatic RFID-based FASTag system on the roads built by states governments, travel to and from the capital can only become smoother.

From August 1, link voter ID to Aadhaar: EC

The election commission of India will start a special campaign in  Maharashtra from August 1 to encourage the citizens to link their voter ID cards with Aadhaar card.

Chief Electoral Officer Shrikant Deshpande said that the election commission of India has brought in certain additions to ensure that the electoral roll doesn't have any duplicate entries. In case Aadhaar card is not available, anyone of the 11 documents like job card, passport, Kisan passbook, driving licence too will be accepted.

However, a voter will not be de-listed if his name is not linked of Aadhaar card. “There are two ways to link these cards with voter ID--online and offline. Voters ar eencouraged to link these two cards to ensure duplicate enteries can be eliminated,” said Deshpande.


Neolithic grooves found in Mahabubnagar

Archaeologists have discovered 4,000-yearold Neolithic grooves at Basvaipalli village of Mahabubnagar district on Sunday.

During explorations conducted by archaeologist Dr E Sivanagireddy, four grooves formed out of sharpening of the cutting edge of stone axes made of basalt by Neolithic people were found. They are located on a huge low-profile hillock on which a Venugopala temple was built in the 18th century, said Sivanagireddy. He dated the Neolithic grooves to a period between 4000 BCE to 2000 BCE. “We found these grooves very close to the Mandapa of the temple towards the northeast corner while searching for granite stone quarries to extract new stone for the restoration works of medieval temples at Kolanupaka taken up by Yadadri Temple Development Authority,” said Sivanagireddy.

He said the areas around Basvaipalli might have served as a habitation to the Neolithic man, which was congenial for hunting and agriculture. There are a number of serpent-hood-shaped granite rocks and natural caverns in the hills at Manyamkonda, Choudarapalli, Tatikonda, Rachala, Asnapur and Moosapet, which might have been temporary shelters before they moved to other areas.

He appealed to the local communities to preserve these grooves, which bear archaeological significance.

To Maximise Delhi’s Potential As Food Capital, Govt To Redevelop Key Hubs

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that the Delhi government is going to redevelop Delhi’s food hubs starting with Majnu Ka Tilla and Chandni Chowk in the first phase in order to maximise the city’s potential as the food capital. “Delhi's food hubs will be promoted with unique branding all over the country and the world for people coming to Delhi from across the globe to experience,” Kejriwal said in a digital press briefing on Sunday. He added that a design competition for the project will be conducted within the next six weeks, in which layouts will be sought from the country's top architecture firms to develop both the market areas. “In the next 12 weeks, the architectural design will be finalised and the contracts will be granted to start the work of developing both the food hubs. Based on the experience, all the food hubs in Delhi will be identified and developed in the next phase,” he said. He stressed that with the development of these food hubs, business will increase in Delhi. “With the strengthening of the economy, a large number of new employment opportunities will be generated. The Delhi government is working day and night to create 20 lakh jobs in the next five years,” Kejriwal said.

“Delhi is considered the food capital of India. People of Delhi are very fond of both eating and feeding. All types of foods are available in Delhi, including South Indian, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali,” Kejriwal said. “Food from all over the world is available in Delhi. As Delhi is called the food capital of India, we have planned to take this concept forward in a good way,” he said.

He said the food hubs will be branded across the country and around the world so that people coming to Delhi from around the country and the world can come to Delhi’s food hubs too. “We are hopeful that this will generate a lot of jobs,” he said. “We are coming up with many new ideas so that employment opportunities can be created for the youth of Delhi,” he added

The CM said that Majnu Ka Tilla and Chandni Chowk have been selected to be developed as food hubs after ex- tensive research and several meetings with market associations. Kejriwal said that the government will make arrangements for roads, electricity, water, and sanitation inside the food hubs, and all guidelines of food safety and hygiene will be strictly followed.

“There are many food hubs where Tibetan food is good. . . somewhere Chinese. . . somewhere Punjabi. There are food hubs in many places inside Delhi, where all kinds of food are available. We have a plan to develop these as global food hubs,” he explained.

Imports from Russia up 3.5x since start of Ukraine war

Driven by a sharp spike in crude oil shipments, India’s imports from Russia have shot up 3.7 times to top $5 billion during April and May 2022, with the value of consignments nearly already half the imports for entire 2021-22.

Since February, when Russia attacked Ukraine, imports have risen close to three-and-a-half times to $8.6 billion, compared to $2.5 billion in the corresponding period in 2021. Apart from petroleum, some of the other product categories, such as fertiliser and edible oil, have also seen a significant increase, according to the disaggregated numbers available with the commerce department. Coking coal and steam coal have also seen a steep rise.

Project exports and precious and semi-precious stones, largely diamonds, are among sectors whose imports have shrunk. Soaring imports come in the backdrop of shrinking exports, which has widened the trade deficit during the first two months of 2022-23 to $4.8 billion, compared to $900 million in the corresponding period last year.

During April and May 2022, mineral fuel imports were estimated to have jumped six-fold to $4.2 billion. Within this segment, crude petroleum shipments were valued at around $3.2 billion, against no imports during April and May 2021, the official numbers showed.

With the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act coming into effect in the US last week, Indian textiles exporters have been asked to carry out due diligence and ensure that nothing is either directly or indirectly sourced from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which accounts for a bulk of cotton grown globally.

Barring a dip in February, when the war started, the import of “mineral oil” from Russia has
gone up in every subsequent month, with the value during February-May 2022 pegged at $5.3
billion—a five-fold jump over the corresponding period last year. The numbers indicate that since March, the government has not been shy of allowing imports from Russia despite international pressure, at least in areas where there is a major deficit.

Government sources said that the sanctions by the West have helped India get a better deal from
Russian companies and it is in the country’s economic interest to pursue what’s best for it. In fact, unlike the initial days of the war when Indian petroleum refiners were buying significant
amounts in high seas sales, the numbers indicate that the transactions are taking place directly as
crude oil is exempted from sanctions. As a result, fertilisers have seen an even bigger rise, with the value of shipments soaring over eight times to $608 million since the war began in February. Fertiliser has now emerged as the second biggest item in India’s import basket from Russia, overtaking diamonds and project
imports, during April-May 2022.

21st Century will Belong to India: Kovind

Delivering his farewell address to the nation, outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind said that the 21st century would be India’s and that the National Education Policy was laying down a path for the same along with necessary economic and health sector reforms.

President Kovind said the Covid-19 pandemic had underlined the need to further ‘improve the public healthcare infrastructure’ and he was glad that the government had accorded top priority to this task. “Once education and healthcare are in place, economic reforms will let citizens find the best course for their lives. I firmly believe that our country is getting equipped to make the 21st century, the century of India,” he said.

As first citizen, his advice to all fellow citizens would be to ‘take care of our environment, our land, air and water, for the sake of our children’.

The President also exhorted the younger generation to stay connected with their village or town, their schools and teachers saying that this connection with our roots has been ‘the essence of India’. President Kovind recalled his humble beginnings in a ‘kaccha’ (mud) house in Paraunkh village from Kanpur dehat and how it was a ‘testament to the strength of India’s democracy’ that it has created pathways to let each citizen take part in the shaping of our collective destiny. He also quoted the architect of India’ Constitution, BR Ambedkar, to point out that mere political democracy was insufficient and social democracy – which recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life was equally important.

These principles, he added, are still relevant and could help a common citizen discover the ‘joy of life’ beyond basic necessities. He said he felt ‘energised and enriched’ by his many interactions as President with extraordinary people from all walks of life from teachers to farmers to scientists.

Maharashtra: MIDC projects on course

The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation  has received the go ahead from the state government to continue with the process of land acquisition for various projects even though most works approved by the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government have been stayed by chief minister Eknath Shinde.

MIDC officials said deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis recently reviewed the progress of land acquisition. “The MIDC is continuing with the process of land acquisition and there are no hurdles to it,” said officials, adding that 77,000 acres of land will be acquired for previously announced projects. The maximum land acquisition of up to 26,000 acres will be from the Konkan region, followed by 18,500 acres each from Pune, Ahmednagar and Vidarbha regions, and 14,000 acres from the Marathwada region, said officials.

“The process of land acquisition is at various stages. For the Mangaon IT City in Delhi-Mumbai indust rial corridor, 85% of land has been procured and talks are on with the Centre for its share of funds,” said an official. “Around 14,000 acres will be required for Mangaon IT City. The process of acquisition of 4,500 acres for a pharma city in Raigad district is in progress, so is the process of land acquisition for a bulk drug park in Raigad,” he said.

HDFC Bank to be among global top 10 after merger

HDFC Bank will be among the world’s top 10 most valuable banks after its merger with parent HDFC at current valuations. It will also be the first Indian bank to make it to the top 10 club.

HDFC Bank has a market capitalisation of about $108 billion. It has recently edged past Citigroup (over $100.5 billion), which was at number 17. HDFC Bank is worth more than UBS and DBS Group (both valued at around $58 billion). The country’s largest lender SBI ($57 billion) is at number 32 ahead of BNP Paribas ($55 billion) in terms of valuation.

The combined market cap of HDFC Bank and HDFC ($52 billion) would be around $160 billion.

One of the implications of moving up the ranks in size and valuation is that the bank’s measure of being systemically important also rises. Such banks are required to hold more capital compared to those that are not deemed as systemically important. HDFC Bank is already a systemically important bank in India, but the increase in size would add to its global significance.

The Financial Stability Board, an international body which makes recommendations on financial regulation, had termed JP Morgan the most systemically important bank for 2021 followed by BNP Paribas, Citigroup and HSBC. The board publishes a list of 30 systemically important banks worldwide. While the 2021 list does not have any Indian bank, it has four Chinese lenders.

China currently has five banks in the top 10, which is the most for any country.

India to deploy 2nd S-400 squadron at China front

India’s capability to detect and destroy hostile fighters, strategic bombers, missiles and drones at long ranges will get another major boost when anew squadron of the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems becomes operational along the northern borders with China in the next two to three months.

Sources say deliveries of the second operational S-400 squadron through ships and aircraft are now underway from Russia, the first since the Russia-Ukraine war erupted on February 24. The new S-400 deliveries come at a time when China has cranked up its air activity across eastern Ladakh, with Chinese fighters often flying close to the Line of Actual Control in violation of the 10-km no-fly zone confidence building measure between the two sides.

“Chinese fighter deployments and sorties have gone up along the 3,488-km LAC since mid-June, especially across Ladakh, but also in other sectors like Arunachal Pradesh. There are often two-three Chinese fighter sorties near the LAC in a day,” a source said.

A Chinese jet had even flown over Indian troop positions at a friction point in eastern Ladakh on June 28, which led IAF to scramble its own jets and later raise the matter with China. China has systematically upgraded all its major air bases facing India like Hotan, Kashgar,Gargunsa and Shigatse, with extended runways, hardened shelters and fuel storage facilities for additional fighters, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft, over the last two years. It has also deployed two Russian-origin S-400 batteries and several other anti-aircraft systems to tackle any air strikes.

Apart from matching the military deployments, India till now has also managed to stave off sanctions under the US law seeking to prevent countries from buying Russian weapons. India told the US that the S-400 systems are an “urgent national security requirement” to counter its hostile neighbours.


Media running kangaroo courts: CJI Ramana

Chief Justice NV Ramana hit out at ‘trials’ by electronic and social media, saying that media run ‘kangaroo courts’ at times on issues and even experienced judges find it difficult to decide.

Speaking at the inaugural ‘Justice SB Sinha Memorial Lecture’ on “Life of a Judge” organised by National University of Study & Research in Law, Ranchi, the Chief Justice stressed the need to ensure proper judicial infrastructure, the problems created by media trial in judicial administration, future challenges of the judiciary and the importance of judicial review in protection of the Constitution.

Asserting that we are living in a complex society, Ramana said that the role of a person holding a position in the judiciary or governance becomes extremely crucial as their decisions at critical junctures influence the growth and progress of humanity.

“Doing justice is not an easy responsibility. It is becoming increasingly challenging with each passing day,” he said, pointing out the increasing number of media trials. “New media tools have the enormous amplifying ability but appear to be incapable of distinguishing between the right and the wrong, the good and the bad and the real and the fake. Media trials cannot be a guiding factor in deciding cases,” he said in the speech

Lashing out at biased views appearing on social media, the Chief Justice said: “Ill-informed and agenda-driven debates on issues involving justice delivery are proving to be detrimental to the health of democracy. ” He said further that biased views propagated by media are affecting people, weakening democracy, and harming the system.

In the process, justice delivery gets adversely affected. “By overstepping and breaching your responsibility, you are taking our democracy two steps backward,” he blasted. 

Now, tiranga can be flown day and night

As the nation gets ready to usher in the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence with ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’—as part of which 20 crore houses and 100 crore people will unfurl the national flag between August 13 and 15—the government has amended the Flag Code of India to allow the tricolour to be displayed in the open and on individual houses/buildings through “day and night”.

The provision earlier allowed the flag, when displayed in the open, to be flown from sunrise to sunset “as far as possible”, and “irrespective of weather conditions”. The Flag Code of India, 2002, was amended earlier this week and its Clause (xii) of Para 2. 2 of Part II has been revised as follows: “Where the flag is displayed in open or displayed on the house of a member of the public, it may be flown day and night”.

A member of the public, a private organisation or an educational institution is allowed to hoist the flag on all days and occasions, ceremonial or otherwise, consistent with dignity and honour of the national flag.

The Flag Code was earlier amended on December 30, 2021, allowing the use of polyester, apart from cotton, wool, silk and khadi for making the national flag. It also restricts flying of the tricolour on vehicles, other than that of dignitaries specifically mentioned in the Flag Code.


68th national film awards

Tamil film ‘Soorarai Pottru’ swept the 68th National Film Awards for films released in 2020 winning awards in five categories even as the other big winner of the day was Ajay Devgn starrer ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’, which won the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment’.

Tamil super star Suriya, who won the best actor for ‘Soorarai Pottru’ shared his award with Bollywood actor Devgn, ‘Soorarai Pottru’ also bagged the Best Feature Film, Best Actress, Best Music Direction (Score) and Best Original Screenplay prizes.

‘Tanhaji. . . ’, on the other hand, also won the Best Costume Designer for Nachiket Barve and Mahesh Sherla. Devgn has previously won the National Film Award for Best Actor for his performances in “Zakhm” (1998) and “The Legend of Bhagat Singh” (2002) and is receiving the honour for the third time.

Among other awards, Madhya Pradesh won the award for the Most Film Friendly state, while Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh won special mentions in the same category.

Malayalam filmmaker Sachidanandan KR was posthumously named Best Director for “Ayyappanum Koshiyum”, which won Best Supporting Actor for Biju Menon, Best Action Direction (Stunt Choreography) and Best Playback Female Singer for Nanchamma.

The Best Playback Singer Male was given to Rahul Deshpande for Marathi film “Mi Vasantrao”.

“Toolsidas Junior” won the best Hindi film award and child actor Varun Buddhadev also received a special jury mention. In the music category, Thaman S won the Best Music Direction (Songs) for Allu Arjun's Telugu hit “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo”, while Best Lyrics was given to Manoj Muntashir for Hindi film “Saina”. Telugu movie “Natyam” won awards for Best Make-up Artist (TV Rambabu) and Best Choreography (Sandhya Raju).

Tamil artiste Lakshmi Priya Chandramouli was named the Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Tamil movie “Sivaranjaniyum Innum Sila Pengallum”, which also received the Best Editing award for Sreekar Prasad. Filmmaker Madonne Ashwin won the Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut film of a Director for his Tamil venture “Mandela”. He was also given the Best Dialogue writer prize for the film. Best Cinematography award went to Supratim Bhol for the Bengali movie “Avijatrik”.

The winners for the 68th National Film Awards were selected by the 10-member jury headed by Hindi filmmaker Vipul Shah. The awards were announced by jury member Dharam Gulati.

PM Modi calls for intensifying ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ movement

Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to strengthen the “Har Ghar Tiranga’ movement. Modi also recalled the monumental courage and efforts of those who dreamt of a flag for free India and shared some interesting nuggets from history, including details of the committee associated with our Tricolour and the first Tricolour unfurled by Pandit Nehru.

He said that July 22 has a special relevance in the country’s history as on this day in 1947, the National Flag was adopted.In a series of posts on social media, Prime Minister Modi said: “This year, when we are marking ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, let us strengthen the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ movement. Hoist the Tricolour or display it in your homes between August 13 and 15. This movement will deepen our connection with the national flag. ” 

Maharashtra: Bullet train project picks pace

With a change in government in the state, the bullet train project, which lost a couple of years, has gained momentum. The project had stalled because of differences between the Centre and the state after the MVA came to power.

On July 22, the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Ltd invited bids for the design and construction of the BKC terminus, which will be the only underground station on the corridor. The terminus project will include related cut-and-cover work and the creation of a ventilation shaft (also to be used for TBM access).

Land of 4. 2 ha at BKC was allotted by the state in 2018 on the condition that the feasibility of the proposed International Finance and Service Centre should not be compromised. The state insisted the land cost be adjusted against its equity contribution. The NHSRCL has designed the BKC station as an integrated structure (with IFSC above it) to take a load of a 60-metre high building above it. The tender for the station was proposed to be floated in 2018. Later, the plan was changed to increase the height of the IFSC building to 95 metres, which required a change in design.

A week after the state government announced all clearances for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Ltd has floated bids for the design and construction of the corridor’s underground terminus at BKC. The first bids, floated in November 2019, were scrapped by NHSRCL in February since land at BKC had not been handed over by MMRDA. The said land is at present being used for a Covid care centre, but MMRDA has asked BMC to clear the area by September.

An NHSRCL spokesperson said, “The station will have six platforms, with the length of each being approximately 425 metres (sufficient to accommodate a 16-coach bullet train). The station will have connectivity with Metro and roads. ” It will be the only underground station of the corridor and the platform will be 24 metres below ground level.

Besides two platforms for the Ahmedabad route, it will have four platforms that may serve other routes in future. The bid will be opened on October 21 and after completing the process on technical and financial assessment, the contractor may be appointed by early next year soon after which the work will start.


UP has largest network of eways

The road to development is paved with the best intentions, and of course, bitumen. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken about the importance of good roads several times. “When a network of good roads is created… the economy of the country also picks up pace,” the PM said.

Translating the thoughts into action, the Uttar Pradesh government under the dynamic leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath started making concerted efforts to improve road connectivity in the state. The result: As on date, UP is home to the largest network of expressways in terms of total kilometres.

As many as six expressways are functional while seven are at different levels of progress. On the driver’s seat of this change is the UP Expressways and Industrial Development Authority. 

India Innovation Index 2021

Karnataka retained its top position in the major states category of the India Innovation Index 2021 followed by Telangana and Haryana. Among the north eastern and hilly states, Manpiur was the best performer followed by Uttarakhand and Meghalaya. Among the Union territories and city states, Chandigarh was the best performer followed by Delhi.

Prepared by Niti Aayog and the Institute for Competitiveness, the India Innovation Index is a tool for the evaluation and development of the country’s innovation ecosystem. It ranks states and UTs on their innovation performance to build healthy competition amongst them.

Karnataka’s high score can be attributed to its peak performance in attracting FDI and a large number of venture capital deals. The state also scores high in the ‘Performer’ dimension, with the highest share of ICT exports and GI registrations. Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have registered significant gains in promoting innovative business environments with a large base of internet subscribers and a safe ecosystem for further investment in the region, according to the report.

“Innovation is the key to sustainable and inclusive growth. It can help us solve the biggest challenges of our times — bringing millions out of poverty, generating livelihood opportunities, and paving the way for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat,” said Niti Aayog member V K Saraswat.

The results showed that Chandigarh topped the ‘knowledge worker’ pillar, while ensuring investment in school and higher education. Delhi has topped the ‘business environment’ and ‘investment’ pillars, with a large number of incubator centres, a skilled labour force and its continuously transforming startup ecosystem. This has been reflected in their overall performance as well. Both performed higher in the ‘performers’ pillars.

Ladakh and Lakshadweep occupy the last positions, with 5.91 and 7.86 scores, respectively. They have consistently performed low on all the pillars due to their geographical shortcomings and economic constraints. 

Adani : World’s 4th richest with $116bn

Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani overtook Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to be the 4th richest person in the world late on Wednesday, according to Forbes Real-Time Billionaires list. With a net worth of $116.3 billion, Adani was at the 4th position, while Gates, with a net worth of $105.1 billion, stood at the 5th position, as of Thursday evening.

Only three people were richer than Adani: Tesla chief Elon Musk ($252.2 billion net worth), Louis Vuitton CEO Bernard Arnault ($156.5 billion), and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ($149.9 billion).

However, Bloomberg Billionaires Index showed Adani at the 5th spot behind Gates on Thursday. Adani, who entered the $100-billion wealth club in April, is still the richest Asian on the list with Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani ranking 10th with about $90 billion wealth.

Shares of Adani Group companies have recorded strong performance in the last 2 years. Adani added the most wealth in 2021, about $49 billion, at the rate of Rs 6,000 crore per weak, according to Hurun rich list.

In 2022 so far, Adani’s net worth has grown by 45% or over $34 billion in absolute terms, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 

Mumbai Metro III: Aarey depot work resumes

Work on the construction of a car shed at Aarey for the Metro 3 (Colaba-Bandra-Seepz) corridor commenced on Thursday, immediately after the Eknath Shinde-led state government issued a notification lifting the stop-work order imposed by his predecessor’s regime. Work at the site had come to a standstill in November 2019 after the then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray issued a stay on any kind of construction activity in Aarey. A decision to lift the stay was taken in the very first cabinet meeting of the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government.

A notification issued on Thursday by the state urban development department to relevant agencies involved in the project stated, “The Metro 3 corridor has been jointly executed by the central government and the state government. On March 17, 2022, the Union government’s housing and urban affairs ministry had issued directions to complete car shed/depot and other works related to the project at the earliest. ” Announcing the lifting of the stay, it stated, “It should be ensured that there is no disturbance to the ecosystem there. ”

Chief minister Eknath Shinde said, “Environmentalists should take into account the facts of the project before protesting. Delay in executing the project will lead to increases in cost. ” Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The decision to vacate the stay has been taken in the interest of Mumbaikars who are dying each day due to overcrowding on trains. ” Fadnavis alleged that former CM Uddhav Thackeray decided to take the car shed to Kanjurmarg “only for his ego and not for the benefit of Mumbaikars”. “I respect the environmentalists but the motive is questionable if someone tries to stop work even after a Supreme Court verdict… We are going to stop carbon emissions of 2 lakh metric tons or more due to the Metro. Delaying Metro by one day means reducing the life of each and every Mumbaikar through pollution. ” Former environment minister Aaditya Thackeray claimed that a depot in Aarey will lead to flooding by Mithi river. To that, Fadnavis replied, “(He) may have been the environment minister, but it does not mean that he has done all the studies. If there is so much concern for Mithi flooding, what about encroachments and illegal constructions allowed by BMC along rivers?”

Droupadi Murmu will be youngest Prez

NDA’s presidential nominee Droupadi Murmu became the first tribal woman to be elected as President of India by defeating her rival, opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha, by a margin of 947 votes, bagging 64.03% of the electoral college votes against Sinha’s share of 35.97%.

Murmu, 64, is only the second former member of BJP after President Ram Nath Kovind to be elected President. A month younger than Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, who assumed office in 1977, she will be the youngest president ever. Murmu bagged votes from a total of 2,824 electors, including 540 MPs, while Sinha won the support of 1,877 electors, including 208 MPs.

The anti-BJP bloc can derive some satisfaction from the fact that their tally was better than what they had achieved five years ago when the NDA nominee beat opposition’s candidate Meira Kumar. In fact, Murmu’s first preference vote share, 64.03%, is the lowest since VV Giri’s 48.01% in the 1969 presidential polls.

However, there are doubts that the opposition achieved its objective of pitching this as a battle of ideologies. The support of parties like BSP and JD(S) for Murmu, the last-minute defection of her fellow Santhal, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, and confusing messages from senior figures like Mamata Banerjee muddied the message.

On top of that, by the time the counting got over, there was strong evidence of MPs and MLAs, 17 and 126 respectively, according to initial estimates, breaking away from their parties to vote for the former teacher from Odisha. NDA managers were happy with the across-the-aisle solidarity with her, something which pointed to the emergence of a tribal constituency in central and eastern India and appeared to validate BJP’s calculation behind the elevation of a tribal woman from a poor background who defied poverty, personal tragedies and social biases to become a minister and then Governor of Jharkhand.

Having made a big statement of their “pro-ST” credentials in the person of Murmu, they can be expected to cash in on any goodwill among the tribals of not only Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh but also the Northeast, which is home to many tribal The odds were stacked against them, and the opposition bloc failed to generate excitement. Sinha was enlisted in the battle after three others — Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah and Gopalkrishna Gandhi — refused to take the field. With a series of desertions by UPA allies, including Shiv Sena and JMM, besides Mamata Banerjee’s TMC, which had sought to take credit for Sinha’s candidature, teetering on the brink and the chatter about sizeable crossvoting by MPs and MLAs, the opposition had braced itself for a poorer show than what the final numbers delivered.

Murmu, who the NDA managers had predicted would bag over 68% votes, got the maximum votes from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, while Sinha's tally was the highest in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Counting of votes in the presidential polls began in Parliament House at 11am on Thursday and returning officer PC Mody declared Droupadi Murmu as the victor after 9.30pm. The Election Commission is likely to issue ‘certificate of election’ to the winning candidate on Friday.

Sinha conceded defeat to Murmu around 8pm, shortly after the third round of counting was completed, and Murmu crossed the halfway mark. In a statement congratulating Murmu, Sinha said every In- dian hopes that as the 15th President she functions as the “custodian of the Constitution” without fear or favour. He also thanked the leaders of the opposition parties for choosing him as their consensus candidate in this election. “I also thank all members of the Electoral College who voted for me. I accepted the offer of opposition parties solely guided by the philosophy of Karma Yoga preached by Lord Krishna in the Bhagvad Gita — ‘Do your duty without expectation of the fruits thereof ’,” he said.

PM Narendra Modi and BJP president JP Nadda visited Murmu’s residence to congratulate her. “Smt. Droupadi Murmu Ji has been an outstanding MLA and Minister. She had an excellent tenure as Jharkhand governor. I am certain she will be an outstanding President who will lead from the front and strengthen India’s development journey,” the PM said on Twitter, after Murmu’s victory.


Maruti’s Grand Vitara is back

It’s a straight battle between the Japanese challengers and the Korean domination. After being on the fringes for long, Maruti Suzuki finally gets the premium SUV that may help it take on top off-roaders such as Hyundai’s Creta and Kia’s Seltos in mid-sized category.

Maruti Suzuki brought back the ‘Grand Vitara’ brand for the new SUV that it has jointly developed in partnership with fellow Japanese Toyota. The Grand Vitara was earlier being sold in India around 2006-07, but that was an imported model and failed to enthuse buyers. The new vehicle, available in two separate 1,500cc-petrol engines (one with strong hybrid), will be sold under respective brands of the two companies. It is expected to see Maruti and Toyota (which has also unveiled its version of the vehicle) gain a foothold in the premium SUV category that has been witnessing strong growth, but is dominated by the Koreans Hyundai and Kia.

“This model gives the best of the brands, and we are confident of making a strong dent in the premium SUV space with the new car. Maruti hopes that the new model, and other SUVs that we will be getting in, would help us get back the number one position in the SUV category,” company MD and CEO Hisashi Takeuchi said. While the platform, architecture and development of the model has been done by Suzuki in partnership with Maruti and its vendors, Toyota has provided the strong hybrid set-up which promises to give the car a mileage of 27.97 kmpl.

First batch of 8 cheetahs from Namibia to arrive before I-Day

India and Namibia signed a memorandum of understanding for reintroduction of cheetahs into the historical range in India. First batch of eight cheetahs comprising four male and as many female cheetahs are expected to arrive in India before Independence Day. The cheetahs will be released in Kuno National Park, Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh. India plans to introduce 8-10 cheetahs every year with a total 50 from Namibia, South Africa and other African countries over the next five years. Besides Namibia and South Africa, cheetahs are also found in Botswana and Zimbabwe. “The MoU seeks to promote conservation and restoration of cheetahs in their former range from where the species went extinct,” tweeted environment minister

Bhupender Yadav after signing the MoU with the deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Namibia Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah. Under the MoU, both the countries will also collaborate in areas of climate change, environmental governance, environmental impact assessments, pollution and waste management and other areas of mutual interest.


Deloitte India to help UP achieve $1 trillion target

The state Cabinet approved a proposal to appoint Deloitte India as the consultant to work with the government for making UP a USD 1 trillion economy. To take the state’s economy to USD 1 trillion, the government is preparing sectorwise plans in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal to make India a USD 5 trillion economy. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said that UP will have a crucial role to play in this scheme and therefore should work towards improving its own economy to at least USD 1 trillion.

Looking at the scope of work, a high-powered committee, headed by the CM, had proposed that a consultant be appointed. A senior official said that the contract with the company would be signed by July 31. The company will have to submit its first technical draft within 90 days after consultation with stakeholders and departments. A presentation will then be made before the high powered committee and based on its inputs, a final plan will have to be submitted within 150 days of signing the contract As per that timeline, the preliminary plan should be ready by the end of October and final draft by the year-end.

“This draft will be a complete roadmap for various sectors like agriculture, investment, tourism etc. The company will study the model in other states and countries which have seen accelerated growth. It will assess where various sectors in the state are placed, their plans and policies etc and present a roadmap with complete evidence and timelines,” a senior official said.

The consultant will be paid Rs 120 crore plus GST for this project. Out of this, 10% will be issued on the acceptance of the first draft and then in 18 quarterly installments over the next 4.5 years.