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India's coal output rises 7.4 per cent to 73.26 million tonnes in April

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India's coal output rises 7.4 per cent to 73.26 million tonnes in April

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) India’s coal production increased by 7.4 per cent in April to 78.69 million tonnes compared to the corresponding figure of 73.26 million tonnes for the same month last year, the Ministry of Coal said on Thursday.

During April 2024, Coal India Limited (CIL) achieved a coal production of 61.78 million tonnes (MT) marking a growth of 7.31 per cent compared to the same period last year when it was 57.57 MT.

Additionally, coal production by captive/others in April 2024 stood at 11.43 MT, reflecting a growth of 12.99 per cent compared to the previous year’s production of 10.12 MT.

India’s coal dispatches for April 2024 reached 85.10 MT, up 6.07 per cent compared to the same period last year when it was recorded at 80.23 MT.

During April 2024, CIL dispatched 64.26 MT of coal, with a growth of 3.18 per cent compared to the corresponding period of the previous year when it was 62.28 MT.

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Additionally, coal dispatch by captive/others in April was recorded at 15.16 MT (Provisional), reflecting a growth of 26.9 per cent from the previous year, which was 11.95 MT.

–IANS

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Union Budget only for Andhra, Bihar; Maha got nothing, says MVA

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Union Budget only for Andhra, Bihar; Maha got nothing, says MVA

Union Budget only for Andhra, Bihar; Maha got nothing, says MVA

Mumbai, July 23 (IANS) The Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi on Tuesday slammed the Union Budget 2024-2025 as “intended only for Andhra Pradesh and Bihar”, “copying many points of the INDIA alliance Lok Sabha manifesto” with “nothing for the farmers.”

The MVA-INDIA bloc partners claimed that the budget was only aimed at “saving” the BJP-led government at the Centre which has shown its “hatred” for Maharashtra.

MVA Leader of Opposition in the Council, Shiv Sena (UBT)’s Ambadas Danve said that just recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Maharashtra the ‘powerhouse’ of the country that generates the highest taxation revenues.

“The state has been again tossed around for the goal of a $5 trillion economy, but since the people here did not vote for the BJP in LS polls, the Centre has hit back at them. The three leaders of the ruling Mahayuti alliance are now defeated by their own people,” said Danve.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, the Congress’ Vijay Wadettiwar said that Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, whose parties are supporting the NDA regime, “have been given a boost in the budget.”

“Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde has also supported them…But what did this state get in return – Thenga! Why treat (like this) the state that pays the highest tax (revenue) in the country,” Wadettiwar demanded.

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NCP(SP) National General Secretary Jitendra Awhad said Naidu and Nitish Kumar have got a “return gift” for propping up the BJP, though Mumbai and Maharashtra play a major role in the country’s economic development.

“The PM came to Mumbai and promised to make it a world-class financial centre, but when it comes to giving funds, Maharashtra is left high and dry. The fact that the stock markets crashed today is enough to make sense of the budget,” Awhad said sharply.

Congress state President, Nana Patole said the budget is all about big numbers and catchy slogans but bereft of any concrete policy or vision.

“Despite huge unemployment, there is nothing real to provide stable jobs to the youth, not a single relief for the farmers on the GST aspects, nothing to tackle inflation. All sections are disappointed including the tillers, youth, students, women, MSMEs, and others. It’s clear that the Mahayuti enjoys no credit at the Centre as huge funds have been given to Bihar and Andhra Pradesh,” said Patole strongly.

NCP(SP) state President Jayant Patil said that belying claims, the Centre failed to take any bold decision even the size of a sesame seed and there was no funding for social welfare schemes and other sections of people, but it was only intended to prevent the government from falling.

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“This is a compromise budget, the states that did not support BJP in LS polls like Maharashtra or even Uttar Pradesh, got nothing. Surprisingly, the MGNREGS which Modi had termed as the ‘monument of UPA failure’ has received the highest funding in the budget, proving the utility of the UPA’s welfare policies,” said Patil.

SS(UBT) leader Aditya Thackeray said that it was understandable to give huge funds for Bihar-Andhra Pradesh, but what was Maharashtra’s fault as it was ignored completely though it is the largest source of tax collection.

“What did this state get against its huge contribution to the nation, despite having an unconstitutional and corrupt government in the state… It’s only looting the state with corruption and then taxes after taxes,” said Thackeray Jr.

The SS(UBT) said that the budget has given huge provisions for Bihar of Rs 58,900 crore for infrastructure and other schemes, Rs 26,000 crore for roads, Rs 21,400 crore for Pirpainti power plant, etc. Similarly Andhra Pradesh has got Rs 15,000 crore for various projects, and despite the PM’s claims to give equal justice to all in the country, the government has only helped those states which bow before it, while Maharashtra remains neglected.

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Taking a swipe, NCP(SP) National Spokesperson Clyde Crasto wondered if Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has presented the national budget only for Bihar-Andhra Pradesh – “a hold-onto crutches budget” – and it was a budget for the NDA not the country, and if it was unfavourable to them (Bihar-Andhra Pradesh), the government would fall.

SS(UBT) National Spokesperson Kishore Tiwari said that as expected, the budget has thumbed its nose at the agricultural community and pointed out how he had submitted a series of suggestions to give a Rs 1 lakh crore package (July 17) for the farmers in Maharashtra plagued by the highest number of farmland suicides.

Patole added that the NDA has copied the Congress’ 2024 Manifesto almost in toto, proving it has no policy at all to provide permanent jobs to millions of youth that can help reduce the unemployment burden.

“Due to demonetisation, lockdown and a faulty GST policy, the NDA-BJP government devastated the MSME sector which accounts for 50 per cent of employment and 25 per cent of GDP, but this has been virtually ignored in the budget,” Patole said.

–IANS

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Centre again disappointed by ignoring demands of Himachal: CM on Budget

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Centre again disappointed by ignoring demands of Himachal: CM on Budget

Centre again disappointed by ignoring demands of Himachal: CM on Budget

Shimla, July 23 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu on Tuesday said the Centre had again disappointed the state by ignoring its long-pending demands and aspirations of the people.

Terming the budget “inequitable”, he highlighted several key areas of concern and called for immediate revisions to address the needs of the wider population of the state.

The Chief Minister said the Union Budget has once again failed to address the pressing issues that plague “our country, particularly unemployment, poverty and rising prices. Though the increase in the allocation for interest-free loans to states to Rs 1.5 lakh crore from the existing allocation of Rs 1.3 Lakh crore is a welcome measure, the tough conditions attached to it do not favour small states like Himachal Pradesh due to cost disabilities.”

He said the state had repeatedly raised its demands for financial assistance for road, air and rail connectivity but it was unfortunate that none of them had been given any attention.

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“The Budget fails to address the issue of expansion of the rail network in the state. The government had also urged for financial assistance for the industrial sector and various tourism schemes but these also had been overlooked.”

He said the state had urged to release Rs 3,500 crore under capital investment for the Kangra airport which was not only important from a tourism point of view but also for the defence of the nation. He added despite strong recommendations, a special grant for the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh has also been denied.

“Knowing well that the state suffered enormously during the disaster last year, but instead of assurances and promises made in the Budget, nothing concrete has been announced in the name of the relief package,” the Chief Minister said.

He said the state government had requested the Centre to release Rs 9,042 crore as financial assistance following a post-disaster assessment carried out by a central team.

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“It was expected that Himachal too will be given direct assistance on the pattern of Assam, Sikkim and Uttarakhand,” the Chief Minister said.

He said that although an announcement has been made for assistance to cope up losses due to the monsoon last year, there is no mention of how much aid the state would get.

The Chief Minister said the cessation of GST compensation has put Himachal Pradesh in a precarious financial position, resulting in an annual loss that the state can’t afford.

“A special financial package was urgently needed for Himachal too like Bihar and Andhra Pradesh to mitigate this loss and support the state’s fiscal stability,” the Chief Minister said.

–IANS

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Union Budget: A forward-looking one, centred on continuity in economic policy

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Union Budget: A forward-looking one, centred on continuity in economic policy

Union Budget: A forward-looking one, centred on continuity in economic policy

New Delhi: The Union Budget 2024-25 is a clear indication that the Modi government would continue to cater to its four core constituencies on a priority basis – women, poor, youth and farmers.

In this context, the government has underlined nine thrust areas: Productivity and resilience in Agriculture, Employment and Skilling, Inclusive Human Resource Development and Social Justice, Manufacturing and Services, Urban Development, Energy Security, Infrastructure Innovation, Research and Development and Next Generation Reforms.

Employment generation

The top priority of the Modi government seems to be employment generation and rightly so as India has one of the largest young work forces globally. Lack of employment is often the result of poor skill sets.

So, to deal with the challenge holistically, the union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the Prime Minister’s package of 5 schemes and initiatives to facilitate employment, skilling and other opportunities for 4.1 crore youth over a 5-year period with a central outlay of ₹2 lakh crore. This year, ₹1.48 lakh crore has been allocated for education, employment and skilling.

The government will implement three schemes for ‘Employment Linked Incentive’, as part of the Prime Minister’s package. These will be based on enrolment in the EPFO, and focus on recognition of first-time employees, and support to employees and employers.

The government will also facilitate higher participation of women in the workforce through setting up of working women hostels in collaboration with industry and establishing creches.

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As the 5th scheme under the Prime Minister’s package, the government will launch a comprehensive scheme for providing internship opportunities in 500 top companies to 1 crore youth in 5 years.

Skilling

The Finance Minister has announced a new centrally sponsored scheme, as the 4th scheme under the Prime Minister’s package, for skilling in collaboration with state governments and Industry. Around 20 lakh youth will be skilled over a 5-year period and 1,000 Industrial Training Institutes will be upgraded in hub and spoke arrangements with outcome orientation.

She also announced that the Model Skill Loan Scheme will be revised to facilitate loans up to ₹7.5 lakh with a guarantee from a government-promoted Fund, which is expected to help 25,000 students every year.

For helping the youth, who have not been eligible for any benefit under government schemes and policies, financial support for loans up to ₹10 lakh for higher education in domestic institutions will be provided. E-vouchers for this purpose will be given directly to one lakh students every year for annual interest subvention of three per cent of the loan amount.

Agriculture

Modi government has announced a provision of ₹1.52 lakh crore for agriculture and allied sectors this year. This shows that agriculture and farmers’ welfare remain on top of the government’s agenda. This has been the consistent stand of the Modi government for the last two terms.

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And in this first union budget of the third term of this government, it is significant that this continuity has been maintained. Agriculture and allied services form the nucleus of economic activities in India and strengthening this sector brings multiple gains for the industry and services sector through backward and forward linkages.

Modi government has adopted a futuristic view of Indian agriculture as in the next two years, one crore farmers across the country will be initiated into natural farming supported by certification and branding.

Around 10,000 need-based bio-input resource centres will be established. To achieve self-sufficiency in pulses and oilseeds, the government will strengthen their production, storage and marketing and to achieve ‘aatmanirbharta’ for oil seeds such as mustard, groundnut, sesame, soybean, and sunflower.

The government, in partnership with the states, will facilitate the implementation of the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) in agriculture for coverage of farmers and their lands in three years.

The digitalisation of land records of farmers will go a long way to provide ‘ease of doing farming and other allied activities’ to Indian farmers. This would reduce litigation, social friction and tension in rural India where doubts over the veracity of land records are at the core of many land disputes that often result in serious criminal offences also. This would also ensure that the farmers aren’t exploited by vested interests by undermining the value of their land.

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Big push to MSMEs

This budget provides special attention to MSMEs and manufacturing, particularly labour-intensive manufacturing. A separately constituted self-financing guarantee fund will provide, to each applicant, a guarantee covering up to ₹100 crore, while the loan amount may be larger. The limit of Mudra loans has been enhanced to ₹ 20 lakh from the current ₹ 10 lakh for those entrepreneurs who have availed and successfully repaid previous loans under the ‘Tarun’ category.

Urban housing

Three crore additional houses under the PM Awas Yojana in rural and urban areas in the country have been announced for which necessary allocations have been made in the Budget. Under the PM AwasYojana Urban 2.0, the housing needs of 1 crore urban poor and middle-class families will be addressed with an investment of ₹ 10 lakh crore. This will include the central assistance of ₹ 2.2 lakh crore in the next 5 years.

Conclusion

Overall, this budget indicates a continuity in the Modi government’s approach towards economic policy. It is forward-looking and reformist with a major focus on ensuring that while the economy should grow rapidly, the benefits should be distributed in such a manner that the fruits of prosperity should benefit the most those who are on the bottom of the pyramid.

(Singapore-based Indian entrepreneur Deepshikha Kumar is the founder-director of SpeakIn. The views expressed are personal)

–IANS

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Union Budget 2024-25 earmarks Rs 4,883 crore as aid to neighbouring countries

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Union Budget 2024-25 earmarks Rs 4,883 crore as aid to neighbouring countries

Union Budget 2024-25 earmarks Rs 4,883 crore as aid to neighbouring countries

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) India has allocated Rs 4,883 crore as aid to foreign countries in the Union budget tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament on Tuesday.

This year’s allocation marks a decrease from Rs 5,408.37 crore designated in the fiscal year 2023-24.

India has allocated Rs 2,068.56 crore to Bhutan, down from Rs 2,400.58 crore allocated last year, of which Rs 2,398.97 crore was used. Afghanistan sees an allocation of Rs 200 crore, the same as the fiscal year 2023-24, however, last year an extra Rs 20 crore was used. Bangladesh will receive Rs 120 crore, a decrease from Rs 200 crore allocated last year, with only Rs 130 crore used.

Nepal was allotted Rs 700 crore, up from Rs 550 crore allocated, and an extra Rs 100 crore used in the previous year. Sri Lanka received an increased allocation of Rs 245 crore, up from Rs 150 crore allocated last year. India continues to extend support of Rs 400 crore to the Maldives, consistent with the previous year’s allocation, though actual usage last year was Rs 770.90 crore.

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Allocation to Myanmar is Rs 250 crore, down from Rs 400 crore allocated last year, with Rs 370 crore used. Mongolia received Rs 5 crore, down from last year, which was Rs 7 crore, but only Rs 5 crore was used. Chabahar Port is to get Rs 100 crore, the same amount as last year.

India has allocated Rs 370 crore to Mauritius, down from Rs 460.79 crore allocated last year, with Rs 330 crore used. Seychelles was allocated Rs 40 crore, up from Rs 10 crore allocated last year, with Rs 9.91 crore used.

African countries received Rs 200 crore, down from Rs 250 crore allocated last year, with Rs 180 crore used. India has allocated Rs 20 crore to Eurasian countries, down from Rs 75 crore allocated last year, with only Rs 20 crore used.

Latin American countries will receive Rs 30 crore, down from Rs 50 crore allocated last year, with Rs 32 crore used.

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Meanwhile, aid for other developing countries and disaster relief is Rs 125 crore and Rs 10 crore, respectively.

It is worth noting that aid for Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Seychelles increased in the new Budget, while allocations for Bhutan, Myanmar, Mauritius, Bangladesh, and Mongolia decreased compared to 2023.

Aid to Afghanistan and Maldives remained unchanged.

Additionally, the aid allocation to Chabahar Port also remained unchanged.

This was the Modi government’s first Budget for its third term, with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman making history by presenting her seventh consecutive budget, surpassing the record held by former Prime Minister and Finance Minister Morarji Desai.

–IANS

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MP gave 29 LS seats to BJP but got nothing in Budget: Congress

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MP gave 29 LS seats to BJP but got nothing in Budget: Congress

MP gave 29 LS seats to BJP but got nothing in Budget: Congress

Bhopal, July 23 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh Congress Chief Jitendra Patwari on Tuesday criticised the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that the state gave all its 29 seats to the party but in return, they have failed its people.

“People in MP gave all 29 Lok Sabha seats to BJP but today when the annual Budget was announced, they feel betrayed,” Jitendra Patwari said while addressing a press conference at party headwaters in Bhopal.

He said that during the elections (Assembly and Lok Sabha), to gain public support, the BJP gave a slogan – ‘MP Ke Man Men Modi – Modi Ke Man Men MP’, but there is nothing for the people of MP in the annual Budget presented by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

He also hit at Union Ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Jyotiraditya Scindia, saying that despite being the top leaders of the state in PM Modi’s government, they couldn’t provide anything fruitful from the Budget for Madhya Pradesh.

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He also alleged that the BJP tried to copy of promises of the Congress’ election manifesto. “They (BJP) tried to copy of Congress’ manifesto, which is clearly visible in the Budget announcement,” Patwari said.

However, the MP BJP said that the annual Budget has a lot for the state which will help the growth of Madhya Pradesh, especially, the fund allocation for education, health, tourism and for tribals.

MP BJP Chief V. D. Sharma said that the state is the hub of tourism, which has got a lot in the budget. “State also has a step for regional industrialisation and the Centre’s budget and policies will help to make it happen,” he said.

Notably, the BJP won all 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh on June 4 six months after it returned to power in the state by winning 163 out of 230 assembly seats in November last year.

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–IANS

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