26.9.16

DMIC snippets



The $100-billion Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, one of India's most ambitious infrastructure projects, will kick off land allotments next month and those eyeing plots are said to include big global investors like Ikea, Kia Motors and China Railway Construction Corp.
The allocations will mark a significant step forward in a project that was approved by cabinet in 2011. Other potential investors include German wind turbine manufacturer Senvion, Korean Land & Housing Corp. and Chinese real estate company Country Garden. The land will be fully developed with world-class infrastructure, a big attraction for investors ready to pay a premium for clean titles in four brand new industrial cities being developed as part of the project.
The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corp. (DMICDC) has received several queries about available land with many asking for assurances of litigation-free land in the past few weeks, said the person cited above. Many of those seeking land are said to have informally visited sites to inspect infrastructure and availability.
The project will be implemented in three phases, with the first expected to be completed by 2025 and the second by 2032. Work on trunk infrastructure is on in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh and is expected to be completed by 2019. The corporation has finalised its land use plan and is now in the process of finalising its land policy after which it will start allocations. The policy will determine whether land will be allotted through auction or on a first-come-first-served basis.
DMIDC is looking for big anchor investors, especially in the manufacturing sector, that will infuse large amounts of capital and in turn attract others, turning into employment-generation hubs.
The government will extend concessions to anchor investor in terms of price or tax benefits. The four industrial cities under the project are Dholera Special Investment Region (Gujarat), Shendra Bidkin Industrial Park & Dighi Port Industrial Area (Maharashtra), Integrated Industrial Township (Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh) and Vikram Udyogpuri (Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh).

25.9.16

Somewhere in Daman & Diu....


Parched Maharashtra gets record rain

Incessant rain in the past three days has changed Marathwada's dry region image overnight, especially in Beed district that registered up to 180 mm rainfall in a day . Two dams that were in dead storage until Thursday are now filled to over 80% of their capacity .
After battling drought for four consecutive years, the Beed district administration has now issued a flood alert in many parts as the district has roped in teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to manage any disaster. At least three persons from Beed are missing and feared to have drowned.
The latest downpour has taken the total rainfall in Beed district to 668.36 mm, which is just over 100% of the annual average rainfall. Beed is now just the second drought-hit district in the region to meet its annual rainfall expectation. Parched Latur district has recorded 906.79mm so far, which is over 113% of its annual rainfall.
The India Meteorological Department's heavy rainfall alert held true in several other parts of Marathwada too, including Latur, Parbhani and Nanded districts. As many as 129 circles from Marathwada region have reported heavy rainfall, which is more than 65 mm in 24 hours, till Saturday morning.
Official data showed that eight of the nine talukas from Beed district had reported heavy downpour on Friday and Saturday . In Beed city, the main ST bus stand, Subhash Road and several low-lying areas were completely waterlogged throwing routine life completely out of gear.
The Bindusara dam, located around 15 km from city , began overflowing on Saturday morning, drawing hundreds of youths to its backwaters.The discharge from the dam caused the Bindusara river, a tributary of the Godavari, to flow above danger level for a few hours on Saturday morning. Vehicular traffic on a bridge over Bindusara river on the National Highway no.211 passing through Beed was briefly stopped, as the river was above the danger mark.
Beed resident deputy collector Chandrakant Suryawanshi said barring two major dams, most of the remaining 140 dams in the district were filled to full capacity by Saturday afternoon .
Latur, where reservoirs had run dry , received 63.66 mm rainfall in the 24 hours till Saturday morning. The latest downpour brought good showers to almost all parts of Marathwada, with Parbhani (57.19 mm), Jalna (52.75 mm), Nanded (50.08 mm), Hingoli (45.32 mm) and Osmanabad (41.92 mm) also reporting moderate to heavy showers.
At 19.16 mm, Aurangabad district recorded the lowest rainfall among eight districts in Marathwada in the past 24 hours until Saturday morning.

Gangajal


Until now, it was believed that the healing properties of the Ganga were merely the stuff of myths. However, scientists from the Institute of Microbial Technology (Imtech), Chandigarh, have for the first time come forward with scientific evidence that the water of Ganga does not putrefy easily . They have identified new viruses, or bacteriophages, which mimic bacteria in the river's sediment and eat them up.
The scientific world has always been baffled by the antiseptic properties of Ganga's waters. In 1896, British physician E Hanbury Hankin observed that cholera microbes died within three hours in its water, but thrived in distilled water even after 48 hours. This remained hypothetical until Imtech experts found the new viruses which, in effect, make the water a disinfectant.
Imtech is one of the laboratories of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Scientists say the bacteriophages get their nutrients from decomposing bodies and other waste dumped into the river.The study has revealed 20 to 25 types of bacteriophages in the river which can fight microorganisms that cause diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, cholera and urinary tract infection, among others. “We analyzed the viral metagenomes in sediments of the Ganga and found different types of phages, said Dr Shanmugam Mayilraj, senior principal scientist and professor at Imtech.
He said the sediments house several novel viruses, which were never reported earlier. These are active against certain bacterial strains and can be used against multi-drug resistant infections. “Bacteriophages we re represented by the order Caudovirales which shared the 57% of the total viral community . Further analysis showed the presence of families Siphoviridae, Podoviridae and Myoviridae,“ said Mayilraj.
The team collected pre monsoon and post-monsoon samples from the highly polluted Haridwar-Varanasi stretch. Also part of the project were Nagpur-based National Environment Engineering Research Institute co-ordinating lab, National Botanical Research Institute, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research and Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, all in Lucknow. The consolidated report of all these laboratories would be submitted to the water resources ministry by December.

PM slams Pakistan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck a combative note in his first public address after the Uri attack, saying the sacrifice of 18 soldiers martyred in the Army camp would not go in vain. At a rally here, the PM issued a blunt warning that India would make every effort to isolate Pakistan for exporting terrorism. “The leaders of Pakistan should not forget that the sacrifice of our 18 jawans will not go in vain. We will quicken our campaign to isolate Pakistan in the world. We will force you to remain alone in the world,“ Modi said. “Terrorists should hear clearly , India will never forget Uri...India has not bowed to terrorism and will not do so now.“
Modi did not make a direct threat but was relentless in accusing Pakistan of being the “one nation in Asia“ wanting to plunge the region into bloodshed and terrorism. Virtually jettisoning his efforts to build an equation with Nawaz Sharif and push for normalisation of ties in the first two years of his prime ministership, Modi blamed the Uri strike on Pakistan and slammed his counterpart for toeing the line of terrorist masterminds and said he and the rest of the world had no illusions that Sharif could stop the export of terror. The world has no hope that the ruling establishment in Pakistan will stop exporting terror,“ PM Narendra Modi said as he reached out to the people of Pakistan, saying they ought to realise that the bellicose rhetoric of their rulers was a ploy to conceal their failure to develop the country .He hit out at Sharif 's reference to Burhan Wani in his UN speech, describing it as a “stuti gaan (eulogy)“ of a terrorist. “Pakistan's leaders read out speeches prepared by the masters of terrorists to preach on Kashmir,“ said Modi. “People of Pakistan should know their leaders talk of a 1,000-year war to mislead them. Today , there is such a government in Delhi ...I am ready to accept this challenge,“ the PM said.
The speech came against a groundswell of anger against Pakistan and expectation of retribution, as well as taunts from opponents about his failure to walk the talk. In his keenly awaited speech, the PM gave no indication that the response of the government would go beyond the effort to isolate Pakistan and could cover military option, but catered to the popular expectation of vengeance. He said, “ About 110 terrorists were killed in the past few months. They succeeded once and we lost 18 jawans. Just think if those 17 attempts had succeeded how much damage it would have resulted in. I salute our jawans for stopping them.“
He said whenever a major incident of terrorism happens anywhere in the world, the trail leads to Pakistan, either before or after the event, as was the case when 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden found refuge there. The PM said he would like to address the Pakistani people directly and ask whether they are being misled over Kashmir. “People of Pakistan should ask their leaders that PoK is with them but they cannot handle it. Some time back, Bangladesh was with you. You cannot handle Gilgit, Pakhunistan and Balochistan...by talking of Kashmir they are befooling you,“ the PM said.

24.9.16

Apple buys Tuplejump

Apple quietly acquired a little-known Hyderabad-based startup a few months ago for an undisclosed amount and while little is known about what Tuplejump does, the word is that this is part of the Cupertino-based giant's exploration into artificial intelligence. Known in the trade as an acqui-hire, nearly all of Tuplejump's 16 employees are in the process of becoming Apple staffers. A back-of-the-envelope calculation by an expert put the valuation at about $20 million (Rs.27 crore).
Tuplejump is Apple's first acquisition in India. Including this, the iPhone-maker has bought three artificial intelligence companies this year, the others being Turi and Emotient. Apple's AI-based assistant Siri is facing increasing competition from similar services out of Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
Apple did not give any details on the Tuplejump acquisition, only saying, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.“ TechCrunch first reported the news. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook had visited Hyderabad in May, shortly after the Tuplejump acquisition, to inaugurate his company's first development centre in the country. During his first official visit to India, Cook also announced plans to set up a design and development startup accelerator in Bengaluru and open retail outlets in the country. While iPhone purchases have increased in India, globally Apple is struggling with slowing sales.
Tuplejump was founded in 2013 by Rohit Rai, Satyaprakash Buddhavarapu and Deepak Alur. While Rai and Buddhavarapu relocated to Apple's office in Silicon Valley in May, Alur joined Premji Invest-backed Anaplan as engineering head. Rai and Buddhavarapu were equal partners in Tuplejump as of March 31, 2015.
The bootstrapped company reported a profit of Rs.80,000 in 2014-15 on revenue of about Rs.70 lakh, according the company's annual report.

GST Council Gets Off to Flying Start

The Centre and states made substantial progress on the goods and services tax by arriving at several decisions on the levy at the first meeting of the GST Council, bolstering expectations that the government will be able to meet an April 1, 2017 deadline for its rollout.
The two-day inaugural meeting of the council, consisting of state and central representatives, has set the stage for a discussion on rules and what the eventual rates will be. The council will meet next on September 30 to finalise rules and subsequently on October 17-19 to thrash out the rates.
Given that views among the states and the Centre vary widely on rates, that meeting could see some tough negotiations. The government doesn't want to set the rate too high as that could be inflationary and make it a harder sell, while states are wary of losing too much revenue with a low rate.
On Friday, the council agreed to an exemption threshold of Rs.20 lakh for all states barring the north-east and hill-area states. It also adopted a cross-empowerment model for tax administration, a formula for compensating states and agreed to subsume all cesses into the new tax.
The GST threshold was set at Rs.10 lakh for the north-east and hill states, which had been given a carve-out in the constitutional amendment that paved the way for GST.
Some states, including UP had favoured a lower threshold than the Rs.25 lakh proposed earlier.
Experts welcomed the raft of decisions at the first council meeting.“
The cross-empowerment model will allow taxpayers to restrict their interaction to a single tax authority for central GST, state GST and integrated, or iGST. Central and state GST are two components of a single GST levied on intra-state sales, while iGST will apply to inter-state sales.
Jaitley said all 11 lakh service providers registered with the tax department will be assessed by central tax authorities and new ones will be shared with state authorities after due training.
Assessees with a turnover of less than Rs.1.5 crore annually will be assessed by state tax authorities and those above that through the new cross-empowerment model. Under this model, tax administrators will use a formula to decide which assessees they will audit or register. The taxpayer will then have to interact with one authority.
The Centre is required to compensate states for any loss of revenue for the first five years. Jaitley said the draft compensation formula has been decided and the Centre has agreed to states' demand that FY16 be set as the base year for measuring these losses apart from the payment of compensation at regular intervals on a quarterly basis.
The growth rate formula in revenue is yet to be worked out. Some states want the three best of the last five years to be taken up, others want two outliers among five.