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Railways rushes more coal to power plants to meet peak summer demand

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New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) Indian Railways transported 9.3 per cent more coal in May this year compared to the same month last year to help the country’s power plants meet the peak demand for electricity in the scorching summer from power plants, official data shows.

Coal stocks at thermal power plants have been replenished in time, as logistics planning was undertaken in advance for the onset of the summer. The full commissioning of the eastern dedicated freight corridor, which connects the coal mines in Bihar with the power plants in the north has helped to expedite the movement of coal.

The freight volumes for all commodities on the railway network also went up by 3.9 per cent beating the slowdown expected due to the Lok Sabha polls, campaigning for which was in full swing during the month.

With this, the national transporter has clocked the 56th straight month of highest-ever freight loading, beginning October 2020.

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Coal continued to remain the most carried commodity on the national transporter at 72.01 MT, followed by iron ore at 14.61 MT.

Sequentially, there was an 8.4 per cent increase at 139.16 million tonnes (mt) of freight loaded in May 2024 compared to 128.3 mt in April, a railway official confirmed.

Indian Railways earned a freight revenue of Rs 15,230.9 crore in May, up 8.2 per cent sequentially. In May 2023, the national transporter had earned Rs 14,641 crore, a 4 per cent increase in freight revenues.

There was also higher passenger movement on account of the ended Lok Sabha elections and the summer rush, for which the Railways is running 10,000 additional trains.

–IANS

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India's innovation ecosystem poised for exponential growth: Industry

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) India’s innovation ecosystem is poised for exponential growth, driven by robust government policies, increased venture capital and a dynamic talent pool, industry experts said on Saturday.

The country is likely to have at least 152 unicorns (with a valuation of $1 billion and above) over the next 3 to 5 years. The number of unicorns in the country increased from four in 2015 to more than 100 in 2024, with more than 1.25 lakh startups.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated that the government is committed to providing a conducive environment for startups to flourish, especially from the tier-2 and 3 cities.

“To cultivate more unicorns, India must prioritise substantial investments in research and development, enhancing digital infrastructure, and fostering a startup-friendly regulatory environment,” said Jitendra Patil, Managing Director of Pune-based energy-tech startup ARENQ.

Additionally, streamlining bureaucratic processes and providing tax incentives can further stimulate entrepreneurial ventures.

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“The future is bright for Indian startups, and with the right support, we can unlock unprecedented opportunities and create a thriving ecosystem for unicorns to flourish,” said Patil.

Every state will soon have multiple startups and unicorns with amazing business models and innovation.

According to Ritesh Malik, founder of Innov8 and a serial investor, in the next five years, India’s ecosystem, ease of doing business, Startup India and Make in India missions will keep on growing the economy of the country.

“India will continue its strong and resilient growth because of renewed capex, well-capitalised banking system, robust credit growth and digital-driven productivity gains” added Dr Manoranjan Sharma, Chief Economist, Infomerics Ratings.

–IANS

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How Vadhavan port will put India on global map, generate lakhs of jobs

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Mumbai, June 22 (IANS) The proposed mega Vadhavan port in the Palghar district of Maharashtra, worth Rs 76, 220 crore, would not only boost sea-based trade but also herald a new wave of industrial development towards the country becoming the world’s third-largest economy by 2027 with a GDP of $5 trillion but also generate 10 lakh direct and indirect jobs.

The port will be developed as an all-weather Greenfield deep draft major port, which will include the development of core infrastructure, terminals and other commercial infrastructure in public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

The move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government will further cement India’s position in the global port map.

Managed by 12 key ports, India’s cargo volume is growing rapidly and reached 12.31 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in FY24, up from 11.39 million TEUs in FY23, according to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.

Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) alone has seven strategically located ports and terminals on the western coast and eight ports and terminals on the eastern coast, representing 27 per cent of the country’s total port volumes.

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Adani Ports reached a record volume of 420 MMT (million metric tonnes) in FY24 which is 24 per cent growth (year-on-year).

With incremental cargo volumes of 100 MMT achieved in less than two years, APSEZ is well poised to achieve 500 MMT of cargo volumes in 2025, aided by the recently acquired Gopalpur Port, and the scheduled commissioning of Vizhinjam Port in the current year and West Container Terminal (WCT) in Sri Lanka next year.

In FY24, APSEZ handled 27 per cent of the country’s total cargo and 44 per cent of container cargo.

According to the ministry, the Vadhavan port will comprise nine container terminals, each 1,000 metres long, four multipurpose berths, including the coastal berth, four liquid cargo berths, a Ro-Ro berth, and a Coast Guard berth.

The project involves the reclamation of 1,448 hectares of area in the sea and the construction of 10.14 km of offshore breakwater and container/cargo storage areas. The project will create a cumulative capacity of 298 million metric tonnes (MMT) per annum, including around 23.2 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalents) of container handling capacity.

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Vadhavan Port, on completion, will be one of the top ten ports in the world. The project, aligned with the objectives of PM Gati Shakti programme, also has the potential for direct and indirect employment opportunities for around 10 lakh people.

According to Maharashtra Ports Minister Sanjay Bansode, the Vadhavan port will be a game changer for the state, helping it achieve the ambitious target of a $1 trillion economy.

–IANS

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FM Nirmala Sitharaman holds pre-Budget meeting with finance ministers of states

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Union Minister for Finance Nirmala Sitharaman chaired pre-Budget consultations with the Finance Ministers of states and Union Territories to take their views on board for the upcoming Union Budget 2024-25 here on Saturday.

The meeting was attended by Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary, Chief Ministers of Goa, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim; Deputy Chief Ministers of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana; State Finance Ministers and other Ministers; and Senior Officers from the States and Union Territories (with Legislature) and the Union Government.

This will be followed by the 53rd meeting of the GST (Goods & Services Tax) Council on Saturday of which the finance ministers of states and UTs are also members.

The GST Council is likely to deliberate on key issues such as the taxes on fertilisers and the inputs of chemicals used for making fertilisers and taxation on online gaming. The need for an amendment to overrule retrospective tax demands and a possible exemption for reinsurance is also likely to be taken up.

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The council may discuss the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Chemicals and Fertilisers to reduce GST on raw materials used to manufacture fertiliser in order to correct the inverted duty structure.

At present GST at a rate of five per cent is charged on fertilisers, while raw materials like Sulphuric Acid and Ammonia face a higher GST of 18 per cent.

A reduction in tax on the import of maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) services for foreign airlines in India which are currently taxed at 18 per cent may also be taken up for consideration.

–IANS

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Centre approves Rs 13,595 crore to evacuate green energy from Rajasthan, Karnataka

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Central government has approved two new Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) schemes to evacuate 9 GW of renewable energy from Rajasthan and Karnataka with an investment of Rs 13,595 crore, the Ministry of Power said on Saturday.

These schemes will be implemented through Tariff Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) mode and are part of the 500 GW renewable energy capacity to be created by 2030 out of which 200 GW is already connected.

The power evacuation scheme for Rajasthan Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) entails an investment of about Rs 12,241 crore and will evacuate 4.5 GW of RE power from Rajasthan. It comprises 1 GW from Fatehgarh Complex, 2.5 GW from Barmer Complex and 1 GW from Nagaur (Merta) Complex. This power will be transferred to Mainpuri Region, Fatehpur and Orai of Uttar Pradesh. The scheme is scheduled to be completed in two years.

The second scheme to be implemented at a cost of Rs 1,354 crore, involves the strengthening of the transmission system in Karnataka to evacuate 4.5 GW RE power from Koppal and Gadag areas. The scheme will be completed by June 2027.

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–IANS

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FMCG sales growth in rural areas to outstrip urban markets: Report

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Rural India has bounced back as a buyer of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) such as soaps and soft drinks and sales of these goods are expected to expand at a faster pace than urban areas in the second quarter of 2024, according to a report by consulting firm Kantar.

The report states that the rural market is a “bright star,” recording a “resurgence” in 2024 and is expected to further consolidate its position in the April-June quarter of the year.

This growth in the rural areas has been fuelled by region-centric measures announced by the government in the interim budget earlier this year, which provided stability.

Populist measures expected by some states which are going to face elections this year are also expected to drive up rural demand, the report added.

“The start to 2024 from a rural perspective has been brilliant, with rural growth overtaking urban’s; and the rural worm is looking upward,” according to the Kantar FMCG pulse report for Q2.

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The report also states that the urban market did not record growth for three straight quarters, and is contending with a huge Q2 2023 base.

The falling Urban curve coupled with a strong base is likely to constrict the numbers for the next quarters, the report states.

According to Kantar Worldpanel Managing Director – South Asia K Ramakrishnan, for the most part of 2023, Urban has maintained strong growth numbers.

“Rapid growth is unsustainable for the long term, and necessarily Urban is hitting brakes now. This has also coincided with typically Urban-centric categories such as noodles and salty snacks slowing down in growth within Urban, after continuously galloping since the pandemic,” he said.

The rural market may also get a boost from the rabi crop but the exact impact of the weather is still not clear, according to the report.

Normally, rural area contributes around 35 to 37 per cent of the FMCG sales.

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The report also highlighted that though inflation may have slowed down to acceptable levels, it still has an impact on the consumer.

Ramakrishnan said that the Indian rural market is full of potential and although has dampened the mood of the rural shopper for a time, the trends are now pointing up.

–IANS

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