Growth Of Air Cargo | PIB Summary

As per the statistics furnished by Airports Authority of India (AAI), total passenger traffic (both domestic and international) at all Indian Airports during 2016-17 (Apr’16-Feb’17) witnessed a growth rate of 18.9%. Total Growth Of Air Cargo at all Indian Airports during 2016-17 (Apr’16-Feb’17) was of 9.3%.

Growth Of Air Cargo | Steps taken by the Government

  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has got the Dwell-Time study conducted at six major airports in the recent past to identify the reasons for higher dwell time in Indian Airports and corrective action(s) required. The free period for air cargo has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours w.e.f. 1st April, 2017.
  • The concept of 24x7customs clearance of Import/Export Cargo has been initiated at 13 airports.
  • The concept of ”Single Window” has been launched by Customs w.e.f. 1st April,2016 in phased manner which inter-alia ensures on-line clearance from various regulatory agencies.
  • For handling International Cargo at its airports, AAI has provided Automatic Storage & Retrieval System (AS&RS) as well as Elevated Transfer Vehicle (ETV) facilities for handling both import and export cargo respectively at Chennai & Kolkata Airports.
  • All the International Air Cargo Terminals managed by AAI are well equipped with sufficient storage space, cargo handling equipment, cold rooms for perishable cargo and other basic facilities.
  • The Common User Domestic Cargo Terminal (CUDCT) concept has been introduced for maximum utilization of facilities.
  • AAI has prepared a road map to create cargo infrastructure and facilities at 24 AAI Airports initially provide impetus to economic growth and development on Pan-India basis to ensure harmonious growth of all regions in India.

Efficiency Of Thermal Power Plants | PIB Summary

The Government has taken several measures to improve the efficiency of coal based thermal power plants & improve the air quality in the vicinity of these plants. These are as follows:

  1. Supercritical technology has already been adopted for thermal power generation. The design efficiency of Supercritical units is about 5% higher than typical 500 MW subcritical units and these (supercritical) units are likely to have correspondingly lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in ambient air. A capacity addition of 39,710 MW based on supercritical technology has already been achieved and 48,060 MW of supercritical is in the pipeline.
  2. All Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPPs) are required to use supercritical technology.
  3. Coal based capacity addition during 13th Plan shall be through super-critical units.
  4. Indigenous research is being pursued for development of Advanced Ultra Supercritical Technology (A-USC) with targeted efficiency improvement of about 10% over supercritical unit. Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), NTPC and BHEL have signed an MoU in August 2010 for development of 800 MW A-USC indigenous demonstration plant with main stream pressure of 310 kg/cm2 and temperature of 710/ 720 deg C.
  5. A capacity of about 7751.94 MW of old and inefficient unit has already been retired till date.
  6. To facilitate State Utilities/IPPs to replace old inefficient coal based thermal units with supercritical units, Ministry of Coal, Government of India has formulated a policy of automatic transfer of LOA/Coal linkage (granted to old plants) to new (proposed) super-critical units.
  7. Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) Scheme under National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency is under implementation by BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency). In PAT cycle–II, individual target for improving efficiency has been assigned to 154 thermal power stations.
  8. High efficiency Electrostatics Preceptor (ESP) are installed to capture Particulate Matters (Fly ash) from Flue gases.
  9. Low NOX burners are installed for reducing NOx emission from flue gases.
  10. SO2 emission control is achieved through dispersion of flue gases through tall stacks (275 metres) to reduce the concentration of polluting gases at ground level.

Defence Procurement Policy | PIB Summary

Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)-2016, which has come into effect from April 2016, focuses on institutionalising, streamlining and simplifying defence procurement procedure to give a boost to “Make in India”  initiative of the Government of India, by promoting indigenous design, development and manufacturing of defence equipment, platforms, systems and sub-systems.

Procurement | Features

  • A new category of procurement ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)}’ has been introduced in Defence Procurement Procedure-2016 and the same has been accorded top most priority for procurement of capital equipment. 
  • Preference has been accorded to ‘Buy (Indian)’ and ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ categories of capital acquisition over ‘Buy (Global)’ & ‘Buy & Make (Global)’ categories.
  • Requirement of Indigenous content has been enhanced / rationalised for various categories of capital acquisition.
  • The ‘Make’ Procedure has been simplified with provisions for funding of   90 % of development cost by the government to Indian industry and reserving projects not exceeding development cost of Rs. 10 crores (government funded) and Rs. 3 crores (industry funded) for MSMEs.

Achievements of Defence Procurement Policy

  • Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) accorded approval of 136 capital procurement cases at an estimated cost of Rs. 4,00,714/- crore during the last two financial years (2014-15 and 2015-16) and current year 2016-17 (upto January 2017), out of which 96 cases involving Rs. 2,46,417/- crore are under the ‘Buy (Indian-IDDM)’, ‘Buy (Indian)’, ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’, ‘Make’ categories.
  • 141 contracts with total value of Rs. 2,00,010/- Crore (approx.) were signed during the last two financial years (2014-15 and    2015-16) and current year 2016-17 (upto December 2016), out of which 90 contracts involving a value of Rs. 83,344/- crore (Approx) were signed with Indian vendors.
  • Capital expenditure of Rs. 1,75,420/- Crore (approx.) was incurred on purchase of defence items for Armed forces during the last two financial years (2014-15 and 2015-16) and current year 2016-17 (upto December 2016), out of which of Capital expenditure of     Rs. 1,05,030/- Crore (approx.) was incurred on purchase from Indian vendors.

The responsibility of quality assurance of raw material used in defence products rests with Organizations such as Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA), etc.  At present, there is no proposal to open any new lab in the country to check / investigate the defence products. However, DGQA, DRDO, OFB, DPSUs and Armed forces already have their own laboratories or test facilities at various locations across the country to check / investigate the defence products. These agencies have offered some of their test facilities to private sector, details of which are available on their respective websites.

Indigenisation – Defence Equipment | PIB Summary

The Defence Production Policy promulgated by the Government, aims at achieving substantive self-reliance in the design, development and production of equipment, weapon systems, platforms required for defence in as early a time frame as possible, creating conditions conducive for private industry to play an active role in this endeavour; enhancing potential of SMEs in indigenisation and broadening the defence R&D base of the country.

Indigenisation | Steps taken by the Government 

  1. In order to promote indigenous design and development of defence equipment, a new category of procurement ‘Buy (Indian-IDDM (Indigenously designed, developed and manufactured)’ has been introduced in Defence Procurement Procedure-2016 and the same has been accorded top most priority for procurement of capital equipment.  The ‘Make’ Procedure has been simplified with provisions for funding of 90 % of development cost by the Government to Indian industry for design, develop and manufacture of defence equipment.
  2. FDI Policy has been revised and under the revised policy, FDI up to 49% is allowed through automatic route and beyond 49% under Government approval route wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded.
  3. Industrial licensing regime for Indian manufacturers has been liberalised and most of the components/ parts/ sub-systems have been taken out from the list of defence products requiring Industrial Licence.  This has reduced entry barriers for new entrants in this sector, particularly SMEs.  The initial validity of Industrial Licence has been increased from 3 years to 15 years with a provision to further extend it by 3 years on a case to case basis.
  4. Issues related to level-playing field between Indian & foreign manufacturers, and between public sector & private sector have also been addressed.  These include Exchange Rate Variation (ERV) protection for all Indian vendors, removing anomalies in customs/ excise duty etc.
  5. Offset guidelines have been made flexible by allowing change of Indian Offset Partners (IOPs) and offset components, even in signed contracts. Foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are now not required to indicate the details of IOPs and products at the time of signing of contracts.  Services as an avenue of offset have been re-instated.
  6. The process for export clearance has been streamlined and made transparent & online.

ADB LOAN FOR VCIC | PIB Summary

ADB LOAN – Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $631 million (Rs.4165 crore) in loans and grants for infrastructure development along the Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC) on 20th September, 2016.

ADB LOAN | Break-up of the loan amount

  • $ 500 million two-tranche facility to build key infrastructure
  • $ 125 million two-tranche loan to help with industrial policies and business promotion
  • $ 5 million grant from the multi-donor Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund that is managed by ADB to build climate resilient infrastructure, and
  • $1 million technical assistance to help the Andhra Pradesh local Government to manage the corridor.

ADB LOAN | Background

  • India and ADB have signed first tranche of loan USD 375 million pact for loans and grants to develop Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor.
  • First tranche loan will have a 25-year term, including a grace period of 5 years, a 20 year straight line repayment method at an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s LIBOR-based lending facility.

ADB LOAN | About Vishakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC)

  • Visakhapatnam–Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC), also Vizag–Chennai Industrial Corridor, is a key part of the East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC), India’s first coastal corridor.
  • VCIC is aligned with the Golden Quadrilateral and is poised to play a critical role in driving India’s Act East Policy and Make in India campaign.
  • The nearly 800-kilometer corridor links India with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asian economies that form the bedrock of global manufacturing economy.
  • The corridor traverses nine districts of the state of Andhra Pradesh. VCIC intends to complement the ongoing efforts of the Government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP) to enhance industrial growth and create high quality jobs.

ADB LOAN | Significance of VCIC

While India’s trade with East and Southeast Asia has increased at a rapid pace in the past decade, the bulk of this trade is done through the ports on the country’s west coast. This is largely due to lack of efficient transport networks linking the production clusters in northern and central India to ports on the east coast, and insufficient container capacities at the ports to handle the volume of trade flowing to East and Southeast Asia.

  • VCIC’s long coastline and strategically located ports allow development of multiple international gateways to connect India with global value chains (GVCs) in Southeast and East Asia.
  • VCIC aligns with the national objectives of expanding the domestic market and supports India’s port-led industrialization strategy (Sagar Mala initiative).

NICDIT for Industrial Corridors | PIB Summary

The Government has approved the expansion of the mandate of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Project Implementation Trust Fund (DMIC-PITF) and re-designated it as National Industrial Corridor Development and Implementation Trust – NICDIT.

NICDIT | About

  • NICDIT is an apex body under the administrative control of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) for coordinated and unified development of the following industrial corridors:
  1. Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC)
  2. Chennai Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC)
  3. Amritsar Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC)
  4. Bengaluru Mumbai Industrial Corridor (BMIC)
  5. Vizag Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC).
  • NICDIT will support project development activities and appraisal, approval and sanction of projects as per extant delegation. It will also coordinate and monitor all central efforts for the development of Industrial Corridor projects.
  • Government of India (GoI)’s contribution to NICDIT will be used as a revolving corpus. Investments into the SPVs by Government of India will be routed through NICDIT so that all debt service payments by SPVs and proceeds from equity disinvestment from SPVs including SPVs developed by Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) by utilizing grants given by GoI can be ploughed back into the corpus enabling NICDIT to support the development of more industrial cities in future.

NICDIT | About DMIC

  • Delhi – Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is India’s most ambitious infrastructure programme aiming to develop new industrial cities as “Smart Cities” and converging next generation technologies across infrastructure sectors.
  • The objective is to expand India’s Manufacturing & Services base and develop DMIC as a “Global Manufacturing and Trading Hub”.
  • The programme will provide a major impetus to planned urbanization in India with manufacturing as the key driver. In addition to new Industrial Cities, the programme envisages development of infrastructure linkages like power plants, assured water supply, high capacity transportation and logistics facilities as well as softer interventions like skill development programme for employment of the local populace.
  • In the first phase eight new industrial cities are being developed.
  • The programme has been conceptualized in partnership and collaboration with Government of Japan.

Extension of tenure of loans | PIB Summary

Cabinet approves Extension of tenure of loans under the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) from 15 to 20 years 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given ex-post facto approval to the proposals for

  • Extension of tenure of loans under the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) vertical of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Mission from 15 to 20 years (to be renamed as CLSS for EWS/LIG. It will be named as CLSS for economically weaker sections of society / Lower Income Group;
  • Introduction of a new Credit-Linked Subsidy Scheme for Middle Income Group for targeting the MIG category;
  • Allowing the Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs) that have signed MoU with the Central Nodal Agencies (CNAs), under the CLSS vertical of PMAY(Urban) (now CLSS for EWS/LIG), the option to extend the mandate of their MoU to CLSS for MIG with appropriate changes as applicable;
  • For rationalizing/introducing the processing fees payable to the PLIs for the loans sanctioned under these schemes;
  • Allocation of Rs. 1000 crore initially in the budget for 2017-18 at the BE stage for the proposed CLSS for MIG and
  • Issue of the operational guidelines for CLSS for MIG with approval of the Minister-in-charge.

Objectives

  • Increase the off-take in EWS and LIG segments under existing Pradhan MantriAwasYojana (Urban) – Housing for All Mission;
  • Outreach to the Middle Income Group (MIG);
  • Make procedures easy for the Primary Lending Institutions (PLIs);
  • Provide an incentive to PLIs for increased participation in the housing and urban development sector;
  • Make available funds through necessary funds through Budgetary provisions and
  • Clearly define the procedure /implementation of programmes.
  • The outreach of the schemes will ensure greater participation amongst the EWS, LIG and MIG segment of the society to provide Housing for All by 2022, thereby ensuring equity and inclusiveness.
  • The interest subsidy to be disbursed to the beneficiaries will be credited to their home loan accounts after the PLIs have satisfied the eligibility criteria through their due diligence processes.
  • The proposed interest subsidy scheme for the MIG is an innovative approach to address the needs of housing of this category.

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Urban Traffic – The Menance

Urban Traffic a core element of SMART city should be focused more efficiently during the urban planning. While more money, less corruption, more infrastructure and better design are indeed medium-term and long-term solutions, they are complex and unlikely to be easily addressed in the churn of India’s democratic politics. Even so, we must push forward on them. However, in the meantime, if we focus on improving flows we can enjoy some respite from the tyranny of traffic almost immediately.

Urban Traffic | The blame lies on….

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  • On the one hand policymakers blame lack of funds, and it is true that the municipal corporation’s entire annual budget is smaller than what is required to upgrade the road network to modern standards.
  • On the other, citizens blame the pyramid of corruption that brazenly siphons off even what little funds are allocated for the purpose. There are also issues of master-planning, infrastructure design and maintenance.

Urban Traffic | Improvements Required

This is an eight-fold path to improving traffic in the short term, without requiring to spends massive amounts of money 

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  • Focus on the flow Try to improve the width the road uniformly. Unless a road is of uniform width throughout its length, flow is unlikely to improve much by widening. In fact, uneven road width causes congestion and can actually worsen the situation. Do not widen a road unless you can widen it along its entire length.
  • Remove road cholesterol – In many places almost 40% of the road is unusable because, like clogged arteries, circulation of traffic is choked by various blockages. Potholes, construction materials, parked cars, auto rickshaw stands and street vendors interrupt traffic flow and not only cause congestion points but also endanger safety of motorists and pedestrians. They should be regulated to minimise the impact on traffic flow. Make it compulsory for construction material and debris to be placed in bins, with a fee charged for occupying road space. Make parallel parking compulsory, draw parking lots and assign a serial number to each of them. Move auto-rickshaw stands away from street intersections. Similarly, ensure street vendors occupy designated lots.
  • Get cows and other animals off the road – It should be astounding that a city that connects India to the global economy, and one that suffers so much traffic congestion, tolerates herds of cows on its major roads. Cows might be holy but that does not prevent them from causing congestion and endangering their own lives and the lives of motorists.
  • Make all lanes of uniform width – Today, lanes are mostly not marked, and where they are marked, they bisect the available road width. The lack of lane markings and lanes of varying widths create no behavioural triggers for people to drive in a disciplined manner. Lane markings should always be clearly visible and not left to drivers’ imaginations.
  • Enforce queuing for right turns – One of the biggest reasons for congestions on major roads is that when vehicles wait to turn right, they do not queue up one behind the other. Instead, they line up side-by-side in a right-turning arc. What this means is that all the vehicles that intend to go straight ahead or turn left are blocked. It doesn’t matter how wide the road is, if right-turning vehicles do not queue up. Barricades can be placed to create a right-turn queue to create this driving behaviour norm.
  • Directional signs – There have to be a lot more directional signs on our roads. Overhead gantries identifying lanes for left, right and straight ahead are necessary. These must be placed well-ahead of the intersection so that vehicles can change lanes much before the intersection.
  • Stop-line at intersections – The stop line at intersections must be prominent. Right now its exact position is left to the imagination and discretion of drivers. This makes it impossible for pedestrians to cross safely or other traffic to pass across the junction. The stop line must be a ‘lakshman rekha’ crossing which should attract severe penalties. Cameras already exist that can enforce this easily.
  • Heavy vehicles management – Movement of heavy vehicles and tractor-trailors cannot be unrestricted as it is now. Slow moving vehicles such as these not only slow down traffic but also create incentives for illegal and dangerous overtaking by other motorists. If they cannot be limited to certain corridors and certain times, then they must be compelled to move only in the left-most lane. Again, camera footage can be used for penalising offenders without burdening on-ground police personnel.

Urban Traffic | Way-forward

Although pedestrians ought to have the first right on the road, they are constantly robbed of their safety and dignity. Traffic lights for pedestrian crossings seem to have been designed for Olympic sprinters, as it is almost impossible to cross even a mid-sized road in the ten seconds that are allocated for the purpose.

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Sky-bridges and underpasses are impractical if they have steep staircases or are located at unnatural crossing points. At times where traffic lights are sought to be synchronised to create “green channels” and smooth traffic flows, the pedestrian’s rights must not be sacrificed. Give them more time to cross the road; and dissuade them from crossing where they shouldn’t.