PMO sets the ball rolling on key infra projects

Ireo Waterfront, Ludhiana

Ireo Waterfront, Ludhiana

The steering group appointed by the Prime Minister to accelerate infrastructure investment in its first meeting has set deadlines for award of projects such as Mumbai rail corridor and Navi Mumbai Airport, among others.

The projects are across railway, highway, airport, port and power sectors.

Many of these projects were proposed during the UPA-I period and have not been awarded yet.

The progress on the preparatory steps to ensure meeting of the project award deadline will be monitored on a regular basis, an official statement said on Thursday.

This will ensure that the Ministries or departments are clear about not just the final deadline but also all requisite steps such as land acquisition, environment clearance, that need to be completed so that there are no slippages.

The Principal Secretary to Prime Minister has directed all ministries/departments to nominate a nodal officer each, of the rank of a joint secretary or above, who will report on a weekly basis on the progress of their department’s project(s). The names would be intimated to the Prime Minister’s Office by Friday, the statement said.

Read more: Business Line

Govt comes up with first wireless traffic controller

The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) has developed India’s first wireless road traffic controller technology at around one-third price of the international product, and would help in controlling traffic from any remote location.

“If we have wireless traffic control system it will help us to collate data, it will help us show if traffic is heavy, it can move forward quickly.

You will also get to know number of cars on a particular route…Kind of parking facility required,” Law and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said here today at the ‘Transfer of Technology’ of the product.

C-DAC is the premier R&D organisation of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY), Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT) for carrying out R&D in IT, electronics and associated areas.

Government has invested Rs 14.75 crore in its research and development.

The Minister handed over the technology developed by a CDAC-lead consortium to eight Indian companies for commercial production for which government will charge royalty of Rs 15,000 for every Wireless Traffic Control System (WiTraC) that will be installed.

The system can run without power for three days.

“The system suits Indian traffic and is different from products developed abroad,” DEITY Secretary J Satyanarayana, who was also present at the event, said.

Read more: Business Standard

Investment

Private Equity ups investment spend in India’s Healthcare sector

Risk capital funds, including Anand Burman’s Asian Healthcare Fund and Singapore and New Delhi-based Quadria Capital, are raising more money to invest in healthcare companies as demand for quality medical care increases across the country.

Asian Healthcare, co-founded by Dabur group chairman Burman and former Dabur Pharma chief executive Ajay Kumar Vij, will raise an over $100-million fund (Rs 597 crore), beginning December.

Quadria Capital, which is raising a $300-million (Rs 1,779 crore) healthcare-focused fund, will allocate 30% of the corpus for investments in Indian firms. The first close of the new fund is expected to be announced over the next few weeks.

“The investment thesis is built around the massive need in India; we have seen over 200 deals over the last several months,” said Vij, whose fund has invested in dental care clinic MyDentist and primary healthcare chain Wellspring Healthcare so far. These investments were made from the first fund of Rs. 200 crore raised in 2010.

The sector continues to gain ground with risk capital, with private equity firms signaling their intention to raise fresh funds, following a bumper 2012, which saw investments in the space outpace a number of core sectors.

Last year, investments in India’s $65 billion healthcare sector were second only to the country’s technology industry, with $1.3 billion (about Rs 7,750 crore) of risk capital invested in healthcare companies, according to a report by Bain and Co.

Read more: The Economic Times

Energy/Power

India seeks to revive interest in wind sector

The government plans to revive interest in the wind energy sector by reintroducing tax and fiscal incentives that were removed last year, a move that a lobby group alleges caused a fall of 1,500 megawatts (MW) in wind power generation in 2012-13.

Specifically, the government is considering the reinstatement of accelerated depreciation benefits, which reduce tax and strengthen cash flows, and generation-based incentives (GBIs).

The Indian Wind Power Association grouping has been lobbying for such a change and the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) has now drafted a note to this effect that’s being circulated among various ministries before a decision is taken at the end of the month.

“The finance ministry has agreed. We have moved a note. It will offer a huge relief to the sector and will restart the interest in wind power generation. We expect the decision to be taken within a month,” said a senior MNRE official who didn’t want to be identified.

The cabinet note is yet to reach the finance ministry, said a senior finance ministry official, who also didn’t want to be identified.

Under the earlier accelerated depreciation benefit that was withdrawn by the Central Board of Direct Taxes in April 2012, wind power generation companies could claim a depreciation benefit of up to 80% of their investment in the first year of the project itself.

Read more: Mint

Electrical equipment industry output to be raised to $100 bn by 2022

The size of the industry is valued at around $25 billion, a fourth of it made up of power generation equipment, and transmission and distribution contributing the rest. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

India plans to increase the output of the electrical equipment industry to $100 billion by 2022 and become a destination of choice for overseas producers of such equipment.

The size of the industry is valued at around $25 billion, a fourth of it made up of power generation equipment, and transmission and distribution contributing the rest. The industry provides direct employment to about 500,000 people and indirectly to about 1 million.

The target was outlined in a 2012-2022 mission plan for the electrical equipment industry released on Wednesday by the ministry of heavy industry.

“It is imperative to build our own industry to make it competitive for its global growth, also looking at ways and means to draw in more investment,” said Praful Patel, minister for heavy industry, who launched the plan.

“The size of the sector is growing, and companies can pool their resources for investing in R&D (research and development) for moving ahead,” Patel said.

Read more: Mint

NRIs

Now, apply for passport through smartphones

Applicants will soon be able to apply for passports through their smart phones, a senior official said today.

“Applicants can fill details on passport applications through mPassport Seva App. We are working on this and are hopeful it will be launched in next few months,” Joint Secretary (Passport Seva Project) and Chief Passport Officer Muktesh Kumar Pardeshi told reporters.

The ‘mPassport Seva’–an android App, developed by the Ministry of External Affairs was earlier launched in March.

The App which can be downloaded at http://www.passportindia.gov.in, as of now is providing smart phone and tablet users with a variety of services including passport application status, tracking, locating the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) and general information on various steps involved in obtaining a passport.

Speaking after inaugurating the passport office CCTV control room at Regional Passport Office at Secunderabad, Pardeshi said the Ministry of External Affairs is likely to issue over 85 lakh passports by the end of this year as compared to 74 lakh issued during last year.

“Between January to June 2013, 37 lakh passports were issued and by this year end. We hope to issue over 75 lakh passports through Passport Offices in India while another 11-12 lakh passports through missions/embassys abroad,” he said.

Read more: The Economic Times

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