Sagarmala: Concept and implementation towards Blue Revolution




Sagarmala: Concept and implementation towards Blue Revolution

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today gave its ‘in-principle’ approval for the concept and institutional framework of Sagarmala Project.


The prime objective of the Sagarmala project is to promote port-led direct and indirect development and to provide infrastructure to transport goods to and from ports quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. Therefore, the Sagarmala Project shall, inter alia, aim to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.

The Sagarmala initiative will address challenges by focusing on three pillars of development, namely (i) Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through appropriate policy and institutional interventions and providing for an institutional framework for ensuring inter-agency and ministries/departments/states’ collaboration for integrated development, (ii) Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports, and (iii) Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.

The Sagarmala Project therefore intends to achieve the broad objectives of enhancing the capacity of major and non-major ports and modernizing them to make them efficient, thereby enabling them to become drivers of port-led economic development, optimizing the use of existing and future transport assets and developing new lines/linkages for transport (including roads, rail, inland waterways and coastal routes), setting up of logistics hubs, and establishment of industries and manufacturing centres to be served by ports in EXIM and domestic trade. In addition to strengthening port and evacuation infrastructure, it also aims at simplifying procedures used at ports for cargo movement and promotes usage of electronic channels for information exchange leading to quick, efficient, hassle-free and seamless cargo movement.

For a comprehensive and integrated planning for “Sagarmala”, a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for the entire coastline shall be prepared within six months which will identify potential geographical regions to be called Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs). While preparing the NPP, synergy and integration with planned Industrial Corridors, Dedicated Freight Corridors, National Highway Development Programme, Industrial Clusters and SEZs would be ensured. Detailed Master Plans will be prepared for identified Coastal Economic Zones leading to identification of projects and preparation of their detailed project reports.

In order to have effective mechanism at the state level for coordinating and facilitating Sagarmala related projects, the State Governments will be suggested to set up State Sagarmala Committee to be headed by Chief Minister/Minister in Charge of Ports with members from relevant Departments and agencies. The state level Committee will also take up matters on priority as decided in the NSAC. At the state level, the State Maritime Boards/State Port Departments shall service the State Sagarmala Committee and also be, inter alia, responsible for coordination and implementation of individual projects, including through SPVs (as may be necessary) and oversight. The development of each Coastal economic zone shall be done through individual projects and supporting activities that will be undertaken by the State Government, Central line Ministries and SPVs to be formed by the State Governments at the state level or by SDC and ports, as may be necessary.

Sagarmala Coordination and Steering Committee (SCSC) shall be constituted under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary with Secretaries of the Ministries of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Tourism, Defence, Home Affairs, Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Departments of Revenue, Expenditure, Industrial Policy and Promotion, Chairman, Railway Board and CEO, NITI Aayog as members. This Committee will provide coordination between various ministries, state governments and agencies connected with implementation and review the progress of implementation of the National Perspective Plan, Detailed Master Plans and projects. It will, inter alia, consider issues relating to funding of projects and their implementation. This Committee will also examine financing options available for the funding of projects, the possibility of public-private partnership in project financing/construction/ operation.

Improvement of operational efficiency of existing ports, which is an objective of the Sagarmala initiative, shall be done by undertaking business process re-engineering to simplify processes and procedures in addition to modernizing and upgrading the existing infrastructure and improved mechanisation. Increased use of information technology and automation to ensure paperless and seamless transactions will be an important area for intervention. Under the Sagarmala Project, the use of coastal shipping and IWT are proposed to be enhanced through a mix of infrastructure enhancement and policy initiatives.

The Sagarmala initiative would also strive to ensure sustainable development of the population living in the Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ). This would be done by synergising and coordinating with State Governments and line Ministries of Central Government through their existing schemes and programmes such as those related to community and rural development, tribal development and employment generation, fisheries, skill development, tourism promotion etc. In order to provide funding for such projects and activities that may be covered by departmental schemes a separate fund by the name ‘Community Development Fund’ would be created.

The Institutional Framework for implementing Sagarmala has to provide for a coordinating role for the Central Government. It should provide a platform for central, state governments and local authorities to work in tandem and coordination under the established principles of “cooperative federalism”, in order to achieve the objectives of the Sagarmala Project and ensure port-led development.

A National Sagarmala Apex Committee (NSAC) is envisaged for overall policy guidance and high level coordination, and to review various aspects of planning and implementation of the plan and projects. The NSAC shall be chaired by the Minister incharge of Shipping, with Cabinet Ministers from stakeholder Ministries and Chief Ministers/Ministers incharge of ports of maritime states as members. This committee, while providing policy direction and guidance for the initiative’s implementation, shall approve the overall National Perspective Plan (NPP) and review the progress of implementation of these plans.

At the Central level, Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) will be set up under the Companies Act, 1956 to assist the State level/zone level Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), as well as SPVs to be set up by the ports, with equity support for implementation of projects to be undertaken by them. The SDC shall also get the Detailed Master Plans for individual zones prepared within a two year period. The business plan of the SDC shall be finalised within a period of six months. The SDC will provide a funding window and/or implement only those residual projects that cannot be funded by any other means/mode.

In order to kick start the implementation of projects it is proposed to take up identified projects covered in the concept of Sagarmala for implementation forthwith. These identified projects for implementation in the initial phase will be based on the available data and feasibility study reports and the preparedness, willingness and interest shown by the State Governments and Central Ministries to take up projects.

All efforts would be made to implement those projects through the private sector and through Public Private Participation (PPP) wherever feasible. Funds requirement for starting the implementation of projects in the initial phase of Sagarmala Project is projected at Rs. 692 crores for the FY 2015-16. Further requirement of funds will be finalized after completion of Detailed Master Plan for Coastal Economic Zones for future years. These funds will be used for implementation of projects by line ministries in accordance with approvals by the SCSC.

Background:

Presently, Indian ports handle more than 90 percent of India’s total EXIM trade volume. However, the current proportion of merchandize trade in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of India is only 42 percent, whereas for some developed countries and regions in the world such as Germany and European Union, it is 75 percent and 70 percent respectively. Therefore, there is a great scope to increase the share of merchandising trade in India’s GDP. With the Union Government’s “Make in India” initiative, the share of merchandise trade in India’s GDP is expected to increase and approach levels achieved in developed countries. India lags far behind in ports and logistics infrastructure. Against a share of 9 percent of railways and 6 percent of roads in the GDP the share of ports is only 1 percent. In addition high logistics costs make Indian exports uncompetitive. Therefore Sagarmala project has been envisioned to provide ports and the shipping the rightful place in the Indian economy and to enable port-led development.

Amongst Indian States, Gujarat has been a pioneer in adopting the strategy of port-led development, with significant results. While in the 1980’s the state grew at only 5.08 percent per year (National average was 5.47 percent), this accelerated to 8.15 percent per annum in the 1990’s (All India average 6.98 percent) and subsequently to more than 10 percent per annum, substantially benefitting from the port-led development model.

The growth of India’s maritime sector is constrained due to many developmental, procedural and policy related challenges namely, involvement of multiple agencies in development of infrastructure to promote industrialization, trade, tourism and transportation; presence of a dual institutional structure that has led to development of major and non-major ports as separate, unconnected entities; lack of requisite infrastructure for evacuation from major and non-major ports leading to sub-optimal transport modal mix; limited hinterland linkages that increases the cost of transportation and cargo movement; limited development of centres for manufacturing and urban and economic activities in the hinterland; low penetration of coastal and inland shipping in India, limited mechanization and procedural bottlenecks and lack of scale, deep draft and other facilities at various ports in India.

An illustrative list of the kind of development projects that could be undertaken in Sagarmala initiative are (i) Port-led industrialization (ii) Port based urbanization (iii) Port based and coastal tourism and recreational activities (iv) Short-sea shipping coastal shipping and Inland Waterways Transportation (v) Ship building, ship repair and ship recycling (vi) Logistics parks, warehousing, maritime zones/services (vii) Integration with hinterland hubs (viii) Offshore storage, drilling platforms (ix) Specialization of ports in certain economic activities such as energy, containers, chemicals, coal, agro products, etc. (x) Offshore Renewable Energy Projects with base ports for installations (xi) Modernizing the existing ports and development of new ports. This strategy incorporates both aspects of port-led development viz. port-led direct development and port-led indirect development.


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Formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle to provide efficient rail evacuation systems to Major Ports and thereby enhance their handling capacity and efficiency

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to provide efficient rail evacuation systems to Major Ports and thereby enhance their handling capacity and efficiency.

The SPV would undertake the following Projects:-

1. Last mile connectivity to Major Ports;

2. Modernization of evacuation infrastructure in Ports;

3. To operate and manage internal Port Railway system;

4. To raise financial resources for funding Port related Railway Projects

Major Ports have identified a shelf of nearly 40 Projects which includes the last mile connectivity Projects and internal Port Rail Projects which would require an estimated investment of Rs. 2,372 crore.

The SPV would be funded by all the 12 Major Ports and the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL). Major Ports would contribute 90 percent of the equity with RVNL contributing the rest.

The SPV would work in close co-ordination with the Indian Railways and leverage the existing participative model of the Indian Railways for enhancing last mile connectivity to Ports. The work of the SPV is expected to result in substantial reduction in dwell time of cargo at Ports and bring down the overall logistic cost for trade.

The SPV focusing on Port connectivity will fit into the ambitious Sagarmala Programme of the Government which aims at promoting port-led direct and indirect development and to provide infrastructure to evacuate goods from ports quickly and efficiently.

The SPV would be registered as a Company under the Companies Act with an initial authorized capital of Rs. 500 crore. The initial subscribed share capital would be Rs. 100 crore. It is also proposed to raise resources from multilateral funding agencies and other financial institutions to finance Port Connectivity Projects. The SPV would be manned by professionals with expertise on rail transport and port logistics. The SPV would be headquartered in Mumbai with a registered office in New Delhi.

Background:

Ports handle nearly 90 percent of the EXIM trade of the country by volume and are critical to enhance competitiveness of the country in the international trade. One of the key determinants for efficiency of Ports is evacuation and hinterland connectivity. An efficient evacuation system and seamless connectivity to the hinterland from the Port can substantially reduce the logistic costs for the trade which will enhance the competitiveness of India. The internal Rail Systems in Major Ports have evolved over the past five decades and are antiquated and need renewal. The 12 Major Ports have nearly 612 km of internal rail network. Though the Major Ports and Indian Railways have taken up many connectivity projects, there is an urgent need for focused attention and substantial allocation of resources. The Government is also keen on increasing the percentage of cargo being evacuated through rail from Major Ports which stands at 28 percent now. Increased movement through rail and coastal/ inland water transport can go a long way in reducing the congestion in the already stressed road network and reduce the adverse externalities associated with it.

The Government has taken many initiatives to improve the operational efficiency of the Major Ports to international standards. A massive thrust has been given to increase the capacity of the Major Ports and also to deepen the drafts so that larger vessels can be handled. Realizing that these efforts would not bear fruit unless evacuation and connectivity are improved, the Ministry of Shipping proposed the creation of a SPV.


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Approach and Key Components of e-Kranti : National e-Governance Plan 2.0

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for the Approach and Key Components of e-Kranti : National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) 2.0. This is a follow up to the key decisions taken in the first meeting of the Apex Committee on the Digital India programme held in November 2014. This programme has been envisaged by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY).

The objectives of `e-Kranti` are as follows:

i. To redefine NeGP with transformational and outcome oriented e-Governance initiatives.

ii. To enhance the portfolio of citizen centric services.

iii. To ensure optimum usage of core Information & Communication Technology (ICT).

iv. To promote rapid replication and integration of eGov applications.

v. To leverage emerging technologies.

vi. To make use of more agile implementation models.

The key principles of e-Kranti are as follows:

i. Transformation and not Translation.

ii. Integrated Services and not Individual Services.

iii. Government Process Reengineering (GPR) to be mandatory in every MMP.

iv. ICT Infrastructure on Demand.

v. Cloud by Default.

vi. Mobile First.

vii. Fast Tracking Approvals.

viii. Mandating Standards and Protocols.

ix. Language Localization.

x. National GIS (Geo-Spatial Information System).

xi. Security and Electronic Data Preservation.

e-Kranti is an important pillar of the Digital India programme. The Vision of e-Kranti is "Transforming e-Governance for Transforming Governance". The Mission of e-Kranti is to ensure a Government wide transformation by delivering all Government services electronically to citizens through integrated and interoperable systems via multiple modes, while ensuring efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs.

The approach and methodology of e-Kranti are fully aligned with the Digital India programme. The programme management structure approved for Digital India programme would be used for monitoring the implementation of e-Kranti and also for providing a forum to ascertain views of all stakeholders, overseeing implementation, resolving inter-Ministerial issues and ensuring speedy sanction of projects. Key components of the management structure would consist of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for according approval to projects according to the financial provisions, a Monitoring Committee on Digital India headed by the Prime Minister, Digital India Advisory Group chaired by the Minister of Communications and IT, an Apex Committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) / Committee on Non Plan Expenditure (CNE). The Apex Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary would undertake addition / deletion of Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) which are considered to be appropriate and resolve inter-Ministerial issues.

Central Ministries/ Departments and State Governments concerned would have the overall responsibility for implementation of the MMPs. Considering the need for overall aggregation and integration at the national level, it is felt appropriate to implement e-Kranti as a programme, with well defined roles and responsibilities of each agency involved. The thrust areas of the e-Kranti - electronic delivery of services under the Digital India programme are:-

Technology for Education (e-Education), Health (e-Healthcare), Farmers, Financial Inclusion, Planning, Justice, Security, Planning and Cyber Security.

e-Governance - Reforming Government through Technology, a pivotal pillar of the Digital India programme, would also be implemented under e-Kranti by undertaking and strengthening Government Process Re-engineering, electronic databases, complete workflow automation and IT based Public Grievance Redressal in all Government Departments.

Background

A strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of NeGP reveals several issues related to adopting new technologies, transforming processes and improving implementation that need to be addressed urgently. It derives from the reports of the Expert Groups and the experience of DeitY in working with various Ministries and Departments in implementing the 31 MMPs. It is evident that there is a need to make substantial improvements to the current framework of NeGP to bring about the desired transformation. It is also clear that the weaknesses and threats under the current framework adversely affect implementation of various MMPs, resulting in sub-optimal outcomes. On the other hand, the opportunities present a compelling case for a comprehensive revision of the entire e-Governance framework in the country, to achieve the full potential of e-Governance for improving delivery of Government services to citizens.


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Central assistance to States/Union Territories (UTs) under National Food Security Act for meeting expenditure on intra-State movement & handling of foodgrains and Fair Price Shop (FPS) dealers’ margin

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the  norms of the expenditure and pattern of central sharing on Central assistance to States/Union Territories (UTs) under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA).  This assistance is used for meeting expenditure on intra-state movement and handling of foodgrains and FPS dealers’ margin.

The norms of expenditure and pattern of Central sharing will be as follows:

Category of States/UTs
Norms of Expenditure
(Rate in Rs. Per quintal)
Central Share(in percentage)
Intra-State transportation and handling
FPS dealers margin
Basic
Addl. Margin for sale through Point of Sale (PoS) device
General
65
70
17
50
Special
100
143
17
75



The special category States/UTs are the seven States of North East, Sikkim, the Hill States of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand and Island UTs of Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.

This decision will help in the smooth implementation of the NFSA and will benefit the people.

The assistance will be available to States/UT where implementation of NFSA has started. The estimated financial assistance likely to flow to States/UTs annually, when the Act is fully implemented in all States/UTs, is Rs. 4,341 crore.

Accepting the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission the Government had hiked the share of States in Central taxes, from 32 percent to 42 percent, increasing availability of funds at their end. Inspite of the reduced share of Govt. of India, the GOI has agreed to this additional burden in the cost of transportation of foodgrains and margins to fair price shops to ensure that the beneficiaries will continue to get foodgrain at subsidised prices.

Implementation of NFSA has so far started only in 11 States/UTs. The period for identification of beneficiaries and implementation of the Act had to be extended twice, upto 04.04.2015 as its implementation is yet to start in the remaining 25 States/UTs. It has again been extended upto 30.09.2015 and it is expected that this decision on Central assistance will incentivise the States/UTs for early roll out of the Act.

Background:

The National Food Security Act came into force with effect from 5th July, 2013. It, amongst other things, provides for legal entitlement to two-thirds of the population to receive foodgrains at highly subsidized prices of Rs. 1/2/3 per kg for coarse grains/wheat/rice respectively

Coverage of beneficiaries under pre-NFSA TPDS is under three different categories of beneficiaries – Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL).   Central Issue Prices (CIPs) for these categories of households are   different. However, the States/UTs have been given flexibility to pass on the expenditure incurred by them on intra-State movement of foodgrains and dealers margin of fair price shops to beneficiaries (except AAY beneficiaries). Accordingly, many States/UTs are distributing foodgrains to beneficiaries under  Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) at prices higher than the CIPs.

NFSA provides that beneficiaries across the country will receive foodgrains under NFSA at uniform subsidized price. States/UTs, therefore, do not have the flexibility to pass on the expenditure incurred by them on intra-State movement of foodgrains and fair price shop dealers margin to beneficiaries.

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“National Supercomputing Mission (NSM): Building Capacity and Capability” to be jointly implemented by the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Electronics and Information Technology

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the launch of the National Supercomputing Mission. This is a visionary program to enable India to leapfrog to the league of world class computing power nations. The Mission would be implemented and steered jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) at an estimated cost of Rs.4500 crore over a period of seven years.

The Mission envisages empowering our national academic and R&D institutions spread over the country by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities. These supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN). The NKN is another programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network. Academic and R&D institutions as well as key user departments/ministries would participate by using these facilities and develop applications of national relevance. The Mission also includes development of highly professional High Performance Computing (HPC) aware human resource for meeting challenges of development of these applications.

The Mission implementation would bring supercomputing within the reach of the large Scientific & Technology community in the country; will provide significant qualitative and quantitative improvement in R&D and higher education in the disciplines of Science & Technology; and enable the country with a capacity of solving multi-disciplinary grand challenge problems. Currently, in the top Supercomputing machines in the world, a major share is taken from advanced countries such as the US, Japan, China and the European Union (EU). The mission envisages India to be in the select league of such nations. To provide continuity in maintaining a lead in supercomputing, the Mission also includes advanced R&D. This will create requisite expertise to build state-of-the-art next generation supercomputing. The Mission supports the government’s vision of “Digital India” and “Make in India” initiatives.

The Mission has been conceptualized and evolved keeping in view the ever increasing computing demand of the scientific and academic community in the country, international technology trends and roadmaps of leading countries in the area, strategic importance and emergence of supercomputing as a benchmark for Scientific & Technological advancements. Two key departments of the Government of India, DeitY and DST will be implementing the mission jointly through two leading organizations. These are the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.

Background:

World-wide supercomputing facilities have enabled countries in their S&T capabilities in areas such as designing vehicles, aeroplanes, massive structures like high rise buildings and bridges, infrastructure , discovery of new life saving drugs, discovery and extraction of new energy sources including oil, natural gas etc. Over the years, supercomputers have benefitted mankind in several ways. Weather prediction has reached accuracy of forecast as well as real time tracking of natural phenomenon. Timely warning of cyclones in the recent past have saved many lives and property. The Mission aims to further such capabilities beyond current levels.


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Approval to innovative mechanism for utilization of stranded gas based generation capacity

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved a major policy intervention, through an innovative mechanism, to revive and improve utilization of the stranded gas based power generation capacity in the country. This capacity has been lying idle or under-utilized due to shortfall in the production of domestic natural gas in the country.

In order to revive these stranded gas based plants, the mechanism envisages importing Regasified Liquified Natural Gas (RLNG) for supply to these plants so that they can generate power. The mechanism also envisages sacrifices to be made collectively by all stakeholders, including the Central and State Governments by way of exemptions from certain applicable taxes and levies on the incremental RLNG being imported for the purpose. Besides, gas transporters and re-gasification terminals have agreed to reduce their transportation tariff, marketing margin and re-gasification charges on the incremental RLNG. Power developers would completely forego the return on their equity. The Government of India also proposes to provide support to Discoms from the Power System Development Fund (PSDF) through a transparent reverse e-bidding process. This will make the cost of power affordable.

With this arrangement, electricity generation in the country would be enhanced significantly by around 79 billion units, valued at about Rs 42,000 crore. The additional generation would help light up many unconnected households in the country, besides benefitting the public at large, including farmers and poorer sections of the society who have limited access to electricity. This initiative is another key step towards achieving this Government’s commitment of 24X7 power supply to all.

This decision will also help improve grid stability and safety, as gas based plants are ideal for being used as spinning reserve, and for meeting peaking power requirements, as they can be started and shut down at very short notice. Grid collapse of the kind that happened in July, 2012, will be avoided with this measure. Besides, it can support renewable balancing power requirements and enable grid integration of renewable energy. This gains importance especially in the context of India’s aspiration to rapidly scale up renewable generation. Gas based power is also environment friendly and much less polluting than coal based generation.

Reviving these gas based power plants will go a long way in making peak load shortages in the summer months a thing of the past. Many of the stranded gas based power projects are located in the Southern region which is power deficit. With their revival, power shortage in the Southern region will be minimized significantly.

It is felt that the revival of stranded gas based capacity would ameliorate stress on the banking sector. This will kickstart growth and have a multiplier effect on the economy. It would also restore investors’ confidence in the power sector. The mechanism will also result in optimal use of gas infrastructure like gas pipelines and re-gasification capacities in the country, which are currently underutilized.

Out of 24,150 MW gas grid connected power generation capacity in the country, 14,305 MW of capacity has currently no supply of domestic gas and may be considered as stranded. This represents an investment of over Rs 60,000 crore which is at the threshold of becoming Non Performing Assets (NPAs). The balance capacity of 9,845 MW involving an investment of over Rs. 40,000 crore is also working at a sub optimal level based on the limited quantity of domestic gas in the country.

In this context, it may be noted that regarding supply gas to upcoming/proposed power plants, Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) in its meeting dated 8.1.2009 had decided that “subject to the availability of Gas, necessary allocations from or RIL KG-D-6 fields will be made to these projects in pipelines including Dabri Power Project as and when they are ready to commence production”. However, due to sharp decline in KG-D6 gas production not only could gas not be allocated, to new gas based projects, but the commissioned capacity that KG-D6 gas allocation also get stranded.

Background:

The need for this intervention has arisen because initially with the discovery of domestic natural gas in the Krishna – Godavari basin, there was an expectation of considerable increase in the availability of domestic gas in the country. Therefore, a large number of gas based plants were set up by power developers, some with firm allocation and others with expected allocation. However, the supply of domestic gas to power plants started declining since 2012 and completely stopped from the KG basin, in March 2013.Since then, these plants have either not been operating at all or are being under-utilized.


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The Auction of Spectrum in 2015 in 2100 MHz, 1800 MHz, 900 MHz and 800 MHz Bands ends on Day 19 AFTER 115 Rounds of Bidding



          The Auction of Spectrum in 2100 MHz, 1800 MHz, 900 MHz and 800 MHz Bands re- commenced today at 09.00 A.M. and today 5 rounds of bidding were completed. The Auction came to an end after 115 rounds of bidding.

          The bidding took place in all bands. At the end of 115th round, about 89% of the spectrum has been provisionally allocated to bidders. The provisional amount committed by bidders at the end of 115th round is Rs.1,09,874 Crore. Auction day end report and band-wise summary  after the final round are attached.


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“National Supercomputing Mission (NSM): Building Capacity and Capability” to be jointly implemented by the Department of Science and Technology and Department of Electronics and Information Technology 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the launch of the National Supercomputing Mission. This is a visionary program to enable India to leapfrog to the league of world class computing power nations. The Mission would be implemented and steered jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) at an estimated cost of Rs.4500 crore over a period of seven years. 

The Mission envisages empowering our national academic and R&D institutions spread over the country by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities. These supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN). The NKN is another programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network. Academic and R&D institutions as well as key user departments/ministries would participate by using these facilities and develop applications of national relevance. The Mission also includes development of highly professional High Performance Computing (HPC) aware human resource for meeting challenges of development of these applications. 

The Mission implementation would bring supercomputing within the reach of the large Scientific & Technology community in the country; will provide significant qualitative and quantitative improvement in R&D and higher education in the disciplines of Science & Technology; and enable the country with a capacity of solving multi-disciplinary grand challenge problems. Currently, in the top Supercomputing machines in the world, a major share is taken from advanced countries such as the US, Japan, China and the European Union (EU). The mission envisages India to be in the select league of such nations. To provide continuity in maintaining a lead in supercomputing, the Mission also includes advanced R&D. This will create requisite expertise to build state-of-the-art next generation supercomputing. The Mission supports the government’s vision of “Digital India” and “Make in India” initiatives. 

The Mission has been conceptualized and evolved keeping in view the ever increasing computing demand of the scientific and academic community in the country, international technology trends and roadmaps of leading countries in the area, strategic importance and emergence of supercomputing as a benchmark for Scientific & Technological advancements. Two key departments of the Government of India, DeitY and DST will be implementing the mission jointly through two leading organizations. These are the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. 

Background:

World-wide supercomputing facilities have enabled countries in their S&T capabilities in areas such as designing vehicles, aeroplanes, massive structures like high rise buildings and bridges, infrastructure , discovery of new life saving drugs, discovery and extraction of new energy sources including oil, natural gas etc. Over the years, supercomputers have benefitted mankind in several ways. Weather prediction has reached accuracy of forecast as well as real time tracking of natural phenomenon. Timely warning of cyclones in the recent past have saved many lives and property. The Mission aims to further such capabilities beyond current levels. 


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Approach and Key Components of e-Kranti : National e-Governance Plan 2.0 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for the Approach and Key Components of e-Kranti : National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) 2.0. This is a follow up to the key decisions taken in the first meeting of the Apex Committee on the Digital India programme held in November 2014. This programme has been envisaged by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY). 

The objectives of `e-Kranti` are as follows: 

i. To redefine NeGP with transformational and outcome oriented e-Governance initiatives. 

ii. To enhance the portfolio of citizen centric services. 

iii. To ensure optimum usage of core Information & Communication Technology (ICT). 

iv. To promote rapid replication and integration of eGov applications. 

v. To leverage emerging technologies. 

vi. To make use of more agile implementation models. 

The key principles of e-Kranti are as follows: 

i. Transformation and not Translation. 

ii. Integrated Services and not Individual Services. 

iii. Government Process Reengineering (GPR) to be mandatory in every MMP. 

iv. ICT Infrastructure on Demand. 

v. Cloud by Default. 

vi. Mobile First. 

vii. Fast Tracking Approvals. 

viii. Mandating Standards and Protocols. 

ix. Language Localization. 

x. National GIS (Geo-Spatial Information System). 

xi. Security and Electronic Data Preservation. 

e-Kranti is an important pillar of the Digital India programme. The Vision of e-Kranti is "Transforming e-Governance for Transforming Governance". The Mission of e-Kranti is to ensure a Government wide transformation by delivering all Government services electronically to citizens through integrated and interoperable systems via multiple modes, while ensuring efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs. 

The approach and methodology of e-Kranti are fully aligned with the Digital India programme. The programme management structure approved for Digital India programme would be used for monitoring the implementation of e-Kranti and also for providing a forum to ascertain views of all stakeholders, overseeing implementation, resolving inter-Ministerial issues and ensuring speedy sanction of projects. Key components of the management structure would consist of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for according approval to projects according to the financial provisions, a Monitoring Committee on Digital India headed by the Prime Minister, Digital India Advisory Group chaired by the Minister of Communications and IT, an Apex Committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) / Committee on Non Plan Expenditure (CNE). The Apex Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary would undertake addition / deletion of Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) which are considered to be appropriate and resolve inter-Ministerial issues. 

Central Ministries/ Departments and State Governments concerned would have the overall responsibility for implementation of the MMPs. Considering the need for overall aggregation and integration at the national level, it is felt appropriate to implement e-Kranti as a programme, with well defined roles and responsibilities of each agency involved. The thrust areas of the e-Kranti - electronic delivery of services under the Digital India programme are:- 

Technology for Education (e-Education), Health (e-Healthcare), Farmers, Financial Inclusion, Planning, Justice, Security, Planning and Cyber Security. 

e-Governance - Reforming Government through Technology, a pivotal pillar of the Digital India programme, would also be implemented under e-Kranti by undertaking and strengthening Government Process Re-engineering, electronic databases, complete workflow automation and IT based Public Grievance Redressal in all Government Departments. 

Background 

A strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of NeGP reveals several issues related to adopting new technologies, transforming processes and improving implementation that need to be addressed urgently. It derives from the reports of the Expert Groups and the experience of DeitY in working with various Ministries and Departments in implementing the 31 MMPs. It is evident that there is a need to make substantial improvements to the current framework of NeGP to bring about the desired transformation. It is also clear that the weaknesses and threats under the current framework adversely affect implementation of various MMPs, resulting in sub-optimal outcomes. On the other hand, the opportunities present a compelling case for a comprehensive revision of the entire e-Governance framework in the country, to achieve the full potential of e-Governance for improving delivery of Government services to citizens. 


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TRAI notifies amendments to the DAS Regulations incorporating provision of financial disincentives on MSOs. 

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, today, has notified the Standards of Quality of Service (Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems) (Amendment) Regulations, 2015 dated 25th March, 2015 applicable for Cable TV Services being provided through Digital Addressable Systems (DAS) incorporating provisions for levy of financial disincentives on Multi System Operators (MSOs). 

The Quality of Service (QoS) Regulation for DAS lays down the norms for (a) the issue of bills to subscribers, and, (b) the issue of receipts for every payment made by subscribers. 

It was observed that the prescribed norms for billing and issue of receipts for every payment made by subscribers are not being complied with by the MSOs. Such non-compliance has resulted in numerous legitimate consumer grievances. In the absence of a bill, a subscriber cannot ascertain whether the amount demanded by the MSO for the cable TV services is correct or not. Similarly, in the absence of a receipt for the payment made, there is no means to get a grievance redressed in case of any billing related dispute with the operators. 

For consumers, such bills and receipts are essential; when it is available to consumers in other commercial markets, why not in the cable TV market? 

Because of the non delivery of such bills and receipts by the MSOs, information of actual subscription vis-à-vis billing and payment details are not being entered into the Subscriber Management System (SMS). Consequently, commercial deals and financial transactions amongst operators are not being carried in a transparent manner. It is adversely affecting smooth implementation of DAS as mandated by law. 

Further, in absence of proper billing and accounting of receipts, there is a very real possibility of a loss of revenues accruable to the Government. It is essential that the Government gets its due tax revenues arising out of the business of the cable TV services sector. 

The Authority, after following exhaustive consultation process, has notified an amendment to the existing QoS Regulations for DAS by incorporating the provisions for levy of financial disincentives, on MSOs, who are not complying with the provisions regarding billing and issue of receipts for payment made by the subscribers. A provision for financial disincentive for an amount not exceeding Rs. 20/- per subscriber has been made in the amended Regulations. The Authority is of the view that enabling the imposition of financial disincentives will be an effective deterrent and will incentivize MSOs to issue bills and receipts to subscribers for payments made. 

The QoS Regulations also prescribe that the cable TV services shall be offered to the subscribers both on pre-paid and post paid payment models, with subscribers’ having option to choose from. In the amendment Regulation, notified today, an explanation has been incorporated, which clarifies that the pre-paid option offered by MSO shall be implemented through electronic pre-paid mechanisms. Further, in order to ensure that the MSOs honor the pre-paid or post-paid option given by the subscriber in a timely manner a financial disincentive of not exceeding Rs. 100/- per subscriber has been made on the MSO for each contravention. 

The Authority has provided MSOs a time of 60 days to align their business processes for compliance with the provisions of the Regulations. The Authority is of the view that the imposition of financial disincentives would effectively curb the non-compliance of the provisions of the regulations and would benefit consumers and the Cable TV sector. 

The amendment Regulation is available on TRAI website: http://www.trai.gov.in 


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IIIrd Web Ratna Awards 
Mr Prasad for collective approach to transform India 

Union Minister for Telecommunications and IT, Sh Ravi Shankar Prasad today called for collective approach of related Government Departments to create a friendly outlook. Speaking at the IIIrd Web Ratna Awards ceremony here today, he said “Digital India” initiative is  fundamentally aimed at  making  Government  more people friendly and  to bridge  the gap between haves’ and have not through digital empowerment. 

He said the Government is shortly coming out with “Open Software Policy to further the process of transparency and credibility in Government administration.  The Department of Posts and Common Service Centers with presence in nearly four lakh centers are being deployed to further empower less privileged people by digitalization. He said with  the internet penetration of  30 crore  reached India is only next to China in terms of  reach and  this number  is all set to touch 50 crore in couple of years, India is all set to digitally transform the society.

Web Ratna Awards since its inception has played a major role in recognizing the noteworthy and sustainable initiatives in the realm of e-Governance for better delivery of information and services. At the same time Web Ratna Awards have reestablished itself as an important platform to disseminate information about such path breaking initiatives, encouraging others to customize and replicate the successful solutions. Web Ratna Awards through its unique initiative has contributed to the overall increase in quality and quantity of web presence of various government departments across the country. Most importantly, it has created an atmosphere for further innovation in the web based services sphere promoting and encouraging Government Departments/Ministries and States to come out with their best.

E-Governance initiatives of Government Ministries and Departments across India were evaluated under various categories. Three awards Platinum, Gold and Silver were presented in each category to the winners shortlisted from the nominations received under each category. The categories included Citizen Centric Service, Open Data Champion, Outstanding Content, Innovative Use of Technology, Comprehensive Web Presence –Ministry and Comprehensive Web Presence-State/UT. Open Data Champion is a new addition to the awards. It honors Ministries/Departments who have contributed datasets to India’s Open Government Data (OGD) Platform (data.gov.in).

In the Citizen Centric Service Category Platinum Award was bagged by Passport Seva Project, followed by National Safai Karmchari Finance Development Corporation and National Institute of Open Schooling winning the Gold and Silver award respectively. In the newly instituted Open Data Champion category Platinum Award was won by Office of Registrar General & Census Commissioner. The Planning Commission and Ministry of Statistics & Program Implementation won the Gold Award. The Silver award was bagged by the Ministry of Water Resources.

For Innovative Use of Technology, MKisan-Government of India Portal for Farmer Centric Services won the Platinum Award. Madhya Pradesh Commercial Tax Department and Department of Commercial Tax, Tamil Nadu won the Gold Awards. The Silver Award was won by E-Sahakar, an online Cooperative Society Process Management System of Maharashtra Government. In the Outstanding Content Category Platinum Award was bagged by Ministry of External Affairs, followed by Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Kerala Tourism and Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region winning the Gold and Silver award respectively

For Innovative Use of Technology, MKisan-Government of India Portal for Farmer Centric Services won the Platinum Award. Madhya Pradesh Commercial Tax Department and Department of Commercial Tax, Tamil Nadu won the Gold Awards. The Silver Award was won by E-Sahakar, an online Cooperative Society Process Management System of Maharashtra Government.

Comprehensive Web Presence- Ministry, the Platinum was bagged by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Gold by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Silver by Controller General of Accounts. For Comprehensive Web Presence -State category the Platinum award has been won by Maharashtra followed by Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand in the Gold and Silver section respectively.


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TRAI issues recommendations on “Reserve Prices for auction of FM Radio channels in new cities” 


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has today issued its recommendations on “Reserve Prices for auction of FM Radio channels in new cities”.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) sent a reference dated 16th December 2014 to TRAI, seeking recommendations of the Authority on reserve prices for auction of FM Radio channels in 264 new cities as per the Phase-III policy guidelines. In all 831 FM Radio channels in these cities are proposed to be auctioned through an ascending e-auction process as provided in Phase-III policy. The list of cities with corresponding category and the number of channels being put up for auction were provided by MIB.

Out of 264 new cities, 253 cities have a population more than 1 lakh as per census data 2011 and are classified as B, C, and D category cities. There are 798 FM Radio channels in these 253 cities which are proposed to be put up for auction. The remaining 11 cities having a population less than 1 lakh are in the border areas of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and the North East (NE) region. There are 33 FM Radio channels in these 11 cities which are proposed to be put up for auction.

TRAI issued a consultation paper on “Reserve Price for auction of FM Radio channels in new cities” on 6th February, 2015. Written comments were invited from stakeholders by 25th February, 2015. All the comments received were posted on the TRAI website. Subsequently, an Open House Discussion was conducted by TRAI with all the stakeholders on 9th March, 2015 at New Delhi.

After considering all comments received from stakeholders during consultation process and further analysis of the issues, the Authority has finalised its recommendations. The salient features of the recommendations are given below:

i)       The valuation of FM radio channels in 253 new cities has been worked out as a simple mean of the three valuation approaches. The approaches are based on the following variables:
·         Population of the city
·         Per capita Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP)
·         Listenership of FM Radio
·         Per capita Gross Revenue earned by the existing FM Radio operators
ii)     The reserve price for FM radio channels for each of the 253 new cities has been fixed at 80% of the valuation for each city.

iii)    The recommended reserve prices for FM radio channels in 253 new cities are given in Annexure-I.
iv)    For 11 cities of ‘Others’ category, having a population less than 1 lakh in the border areas of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and the North East (NE) region, the reserve price is kept as Rs. 5 Lakh for each channel of each city, as approved by the Cabinet in the Phase-III policy.

The full text of recommendations is available on TRAI’s website www.trai.gov.in.
  
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