Business Line

  • ISRO's manned space mission gets Rs 125-cr allocation

    Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) human space mission proposal has got its first significant budgetary share, Rs 125 crore, while the Department of Space has got 24 per cent raise in outlay for its 2008-09 activities. The space budget of Rs 4,074 crore, compared with Rs 3,290 crore last fiscal, partially provides for at least three major projects

  • Duty on naphtha will hit Haldia Petro bottomline

    The Union Budget proposal for re-imposition of five per cent import duty on naphtha for petrochemical production seems to have found its single largest casualty in West Bengal government-promoted Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL). HPL is reportedly the only major standalone petrochemical facility using naphtha as feedstock. The showpiece industrial project of the State Government estimates a Rs 300-crore hit on bottomline

  • New institution to fund irrigation projects

    The Government is investing heavily in the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme and the Rainfed Area Development Programme and in the management and augmentation of water resources. Notwithstanding some shortcomings, the growth of agricultural credit has been impressive and for this I have to thank our scheduled commercial banks and Regional Rural Banks. Between them, they account for about 75-79 per cent of agricultural credit disbursed during any year. We will exceed the target set for 2007-08. For 2008-09, I propose to set a target of Rs 2,80,000 crore. Short-term crop loans will continue to be disbursed at 7 per cent per annum and I am making an initial provision of Rs 1,600 crore for interest subvention in 2008-09. What ails agriculture, among other things, is the fall in investment. However, there seems to be a turnaround. Gross Capital Formation (GCF) in agriculture as a proportion of GDP in the agriculture sector has improved from a low of 10.2 per cent in 2003-04 to 12.5 per cent in 2006-07. This, however, needs to be raised to 16 per cent during the Eleventh Plan to achieve the target growth rate of 4 per cent. Government is investing heavily in the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) and the Rainfed Area Development Programme and in the management and augmentation of water resources. Under AIBP, 24 major and medium irrigation projects and 753 minor irrigation schemes will be completed in this financial year, creating additional irrigation potential of 5,00,000 hectares. The outlay for 2007-08 was Rs 11,000 crore with a grant component of Rs 3,580 crore. These are being increased in 2008-09, and the estimated outlay is Rs 20,000 crore with a grant component of Rs 5,550 crore. The Rainfed Area Development Programme has been finalised and will be implemented in 2008-09 with an allocation of Rs 348 crore. Priority will be given to those areas that have not been the beneficiaries of watershed development schemes. The centrally sponsored scheme on micro irrigation launched in January 2006 has brought an area of 5,48,000 hectares under drip and sprinkler irrigation within two years. I propose to allocate Rs 500 crore for the scheme in 2008-09 with a target of covering another 4,00,000 hectares. Pacts with World Bank Agreements have been signed with the World Bank by the Governments of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka under the project to repair, renovate and restore water bodies. The three agreements are for a total sum of $738 million that will benefit a command area of 9,00,000 hectares. I am confident that similar agreements will be signed soon between the World Bank and the Governments of Orissa, West Bengal and some other States. While these ongoing programmes will raise the level of investment in agriculture, I think that we need an ambitious scheme of a much larger proportion. Government is of the view that massive investments are required to be made in irrigation projects. Recently, Government has approved 14 projects that satisfy certain criteria as national projects and three of them alone would require Rs 7,000 crore during the Eleventh Plan period. Having regard to the magnitude of the challenge, I propose to establish the Irrigation and Water Resources Finance Corporation (IWRFC) with an initial capital of Rs 100 crore contributed by the Central Government. State Governments and other financial institutions will be invited to contribute to the equity. It is our intention to mobilise the very large resources that will be required to fund major and medium irrigation projects. I hope to be able to incorporate IWRFC as a company before March 31, 2008. Pending a decision on an alternative crop insurance scheme that is acceptable to the farmers as well as viable to the insurer, the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS) will be continued in its present form for kharif and rabi 2008-09. I propose to provide Rs 644 crore for the scheme. Government will continue to provide fertilisers to farmers at subsidised prices. Government is examining proposals to move to a nutrient based subsidy regime and alternative methods of delivering the subsidy.

  • Mango crop hopes turn sour on adverse weather

    Adverse weather conditions, including heavy rains, have affected mango crop in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, while the prospects in Maharashtra, the largest producer of the

  • Patent dispute: TVS Motor goes on appeal

    Company plans to sell Flame with single spark plug Stressing "there is no injunction against selling the

  • NREGS: AP sets example with biometric smart cards

    Does away with middlemen; ten States keen to replicate model The implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) through biometric smart cards in Andhra Pradesh has attracted nationwide attention, with many States planning to adopt a similar method. Financial Information Network and Operations Ltd (FINO), a Mumbai-based technology solutions provider, is presently implementing NREGS in five districts of Andhra Pradesh by paying wages through biometric smart cards. "The hassle-free mode of payment sans middlemen has become a hit with the unskilled manual labourers. Encouraged by the feedback, at least 10 other States, including Orissa, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, are showing interest in adopting similar methods,' Mr Rishi Gupta, Chief Financial Officer and President (Sales), FINO, told Business Line over phone from Mumbai. Implementation After a successful pilot programme in eight mandals of Warangal and Karimnagar districts, the payment of pension and National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme wages are now being paid through smart cards in 259 villages

  • Job guarantee scheme for all rural districts soon

    Economy on the move: The President, Ms Pratibha Patil, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr Somnath Chatterjee, and the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr P.R. Dasmunshi, arriving to attend the first day of the Budget Session at Parliament House in the Capital on Monday.

  • SIDBI facilitates Rs 50-cr carbon credits to Ludhiana cluster

    The Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has facilitated Rs 50-crore worth of carbon credits to the 300-odd forging units in Ludhiana. The SIDBI's new Chairman and Managing Director, Mr R.M. Malla, sees this as the first among many such initiatives. Mr Malla told Business Line recently that SIDBI's study of the units

  • 'Green' homes to earn carbon credits

    The lesser density of houses coupled with use of hollow concrete blocks and an underground tunnel ventilation to provide natural air-conditioning add to the carbon credit earning capacity. Bangalore, Feb. 21 A local real estate company, which is implementing a residential complex under the

  • Bollworm may be developing resistance to Bt cotton

    Even as life science companies in seed business and vocal lobbyists for pro-genetically modified (GM) crops combine to make propagandist noises about the goodness of the technology and rapid spread of area under GM crops worldwide comes the news that pests are slowly developing resistance to transgenic crops. Currently, corn (maize), soyabean and cotton are the major field crops in which transgenic varieties have been commercialised. Cotton was the first major field GM crop to go commercial in 1996 in the US. Incidentally, the US is the world's largest producer of soyabean and corn.

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