Monday, December 22, 2014

Greek PM offers elections in 2015 for presidency vote deal

22122014
Greek PM offers elections in 2015 for presidency vote deal
>Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on sunday offered to hold early elections in late 2015 to clinch a crucial presidential vote next week that could affect the country’s economic future.
We can find the proper timeframe for national elections,even at the end of 2015,provided the president is elected and crunch EU-IMF loan talks are concluded,Samaras said in a nationally televised address.It is a national duty and common sense also dictates that we first conclude negotiations with the (EU-IMF)creditors,Samaras said.
Upcoming votes in parliament to elect a successor to President Karolos Papoulias,whose term ends in March,looks likely to end in a stalemate which would automatically spark early elections.
Parliament last week fell 40 votes short of the required 200 to elect the government’s candidate for president,former EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.
Parliament will vote again on Tuesday when 200 votes are again required in the 300-seat chamber.
Should that also fail,a third and final vote requiring 180 votes would be held on December 29. Samaras had until now steadfastly refused to bring forward the elections,which are normally due in June 2016.
But today he also offered to broaden his cabinet to include pro-European voices.After the presidential election,we can broaden the government to bring in other people who believe in the country’s European perspective,the PM said.
The government coalition has only 155 lawmakers in parliament and most analysts agree that finding even 180 supporters would be a tall order.
European Union and International Monetary Fund officials fear an early election–which could be held as early as January 25–would be won by radical leftist party Syriza and undo Greece’s ongoing fiscal reforms. Syriza on sundaty argued that Samaras efforts to persuade independent lawmakers to support his candidate was futile.Above all the PM fears the judgement of the people and he will not be able to avoid it,the radical leftists said.
Greece recently secured a two-month extension from its international creditors to conclude an ongoing fiscal audit that will determine the release of some 7.0 billion euros (USD 8.6 billion)in loans.
In 2012,back-to-back elections were needed in May and June to form a shaky coalition government,stalling Greece’s fiscal reforms and sparking speculation that the country was about to be ejected from the eurozone.




INDIA EXPORTS FIRST WARSHIP TO MAURITIUS

22122014

India exports first warship  to Mauritius
By delivering an offshore patrol vessel to Mauritius, India on Saturday exported its first warship.
“This is the first time that the export barrier has been breached. This would be the first among the long line of ships that we hope to export to various parts of the world,” Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh said during the warship handing over ceremony.Built by defence PSU Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE) in Kolkata, the USD 58.5 million ‘CGS Barracuda’ measures 74.10 m in length. It is capable of moving at a maximum speed of 22 knots with an approximate displacement of 1350 tonnes.Describing it as a red-letter day in the history of ship-building in India, Singh said it proves that the industry has come of age. When asked, he said the Goa shipyard has also got orders from Sri Lanka for making offshore patrol vessels.GRSE’s Chairman and Managing Director Rear Admiral A K Verma said they were getting enquires for building similar ships for other friendly nations.They have so far made 92 warships for the Indian Navy and Coast Guard.”After our modernisation we have increased our capacity to meet the requirements of our defence forces without overrun in time and cost,” Verma said.




22122014

Verma sworn in as US Ambassador to India

Indian-American Verma sworn in as US Ambassador to India
Indian-American Richard Rahul Verma has been sworn in as the US Ambassador to India by Secretary of State John Kerry.
46-year-old Verma is the first ever Indian-American to be the top US diplomat in New Delhi.
He is scheduled to arrive in India ahead of Kerry’s visit to Delhi next month.
US President Barack Obama will arrive in late January to attend the Republic Day Parade on January 26, 2015 as the Chief Guest.
He was confirmed by the US Senate by a voice vote last week. Last week he met Obama at the White House.
Verma, who quietly played an important role in the Congressional passage of civil nuclear deal with India, had advocated for strong Indo-US ties when in the administration and recently started “India 2020″ project at Centre for American Progress — a top American-think tank.
He will replace Nancy Powell, who resigned in March after a damaging row over the treatment of diplomat Devyani Khobragade over visa fraud charges.
The US Embassy in New Delhi is currently headed by a charge d’affaires, Kathleen Stephens.
Verma’s association with Obama goes back to 2008 when he worked on presidential debate preparations for the then Illinois senator.
His parents came to the US in the early 1960s.
“It is a day of celebration for Indian Americans,” said Dr Sampat Shivangi, national president of Indian American Forum for Political Education.
“Verma deserves this worthy appointment due to his dedication and well deserved respect he commands from President Obama and entire US Congress and the nation,” said Shivangi, one of the few Indian-Americans invited to attend the swearing in ceremony at the State Department.
The event was closed for the press.




Role of IAF During Assembly Elections in J&K

22122014
 
From braving bullets in the Maoist infested Chhattisgarh, the IAF helicopters played a key role in facilitating the democratic process during the J&K elections. Western Air Command pressed its helicopter fleet into action from 25 November in aid of the J&K election undertaking nearly 300 sorties in over 160 hours. Acceding to request of the Election Commission to fly electoral officers, security personnel & EVMs to far flung & remote regions and back, IAF helicopters have operated to over 25 helipads at altitudes ranging from 6000 feet to 14000 feet above mean sea level.The Assembly elections were planned in five phases. The first phase was conducted on 25 November while the last phase was on 20 December. The state comprises of high mountainous terrain that poses difficulty for the authorities while conducting polls. IAF plays a major role in reaching these far flung and inaccessible areas. Taking EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines), electoral staff and also transporting the security forces, in time, is a herculean challenge that is overcome by employing the IAF transport and helicopter fleet. Helicopters were utilised for inducting and de-inducting personnel and equipment during the conduct of polls at remote locations at Inshan, Nawapanchi and Sondar, Kargil and the high altitude and remote locations in Zanskar and Laddakh ranges.
The IAFMi 17V5, ALH and Cheetah helicopters were engaged in this task. For aircrew who undertook these flights, the task provided an opportunity tohone their flying skills. Thesemissionswere planned wellin advance and pose a lesser challenge than the rescue and relief missions undertakenbarely a weeks before the election in the same region. One junior pilot remarked “election task provided us with an opportunity to observe the valleys and the lay of the land which we generally miss out during high pressure tasks that we undertake otherwise”.
Planning, coordination and execution of the election task, spread over five weeks, was undertaken by Advance HQ, AOC J&K “ The planning and execution was flawless and without any hiccups”,remarked a senior officer of HQ WAC who coordinates helicopter operations.




Focus on Development of Energy Infrastructure

22122014
Giving a fillip to the country’s renewable energy programme, the new government led by Shri Narendra Modi has taken a slew of decisions in a span of six months to boost “Clean Energy” in the country.  These include providing support to Rs 1000 crore to Central Public Sector units to set up over 1,000 MW grid connected solar photovoltaic power projects, setting up of 25 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW requiring financial support from the centre of Rs 4050 crore and setting up of over 300 MW of solar power projects by Defence and Para military establishments. With these decisions, India will emerge as a major solar power producing country as nowhere in the world are solar parks are being developed on such a large scale. 

The Government restored Accelerated Depreciation benefit in the Union Budget 2014 to give much-needed relief to wind power developers and to ensure ramp-up of production. This will enable to kick start & ramp up wind capacity addition expeditiously. The Government amicably resolved the anti-dumping duty dispute. A whole host of measures have been undertaken to make India “Solar manufacturing” hubwith priority for domestic players in line with “Make in India” programme. With these initiatives, domestic manufacturers will have greater visibility on order books, have an opportunity to upgrade technologically and be able to reduce costs.

In order to facilitate speedy growth of Renewable energy Power generation in the country, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is preparing a Renewable Energy Bill. This apart, the Ministry is also preparing a scale up plan for the development of Solar in the next five years.

Outlining the new government’s priorities in the energy sector, President Shri Pranab Mukherjee, while addressing the first session of both Houses of Parliament after the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha, said that the  government will come out with a comprehensive National Energy Policy and focus on development of energy related infrastructure, human resource and technology. The aim of the government will be to substantially augment electricity generation capacity through judicious mix of conventional and non-conventional sources. It will expand the national solar mission and connect households and industries with gas-grids.

To showcase India’s renewable energy potential globally, the MNRE in partnership with Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA), the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is organizing the Global Renewable Energy Investment Promotion Meet (RE-INVEST) from 15-17 February, 2015 as a follow-up to the ‘Make in India’ initiative launched by the Prime Minister . RE-INVEST will enable the global investment community to connect with the renewable energy stakeholders in India.

 The details of the major initiatives of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to boost “Clean Energy” in the country are as follows:


1.    Scheme for development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects : 

The Government  has recently approved a Scheme for setting up of 25 Solar Parks, each with the capacity of 500 MW and above and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects to be developed in next 5 years in various States and will require Central Government financial support of Rs 4050 crore. These parks will be able to accommodate over 20,000 MW of solar power projects. 12 states have so far given consent for setting up of Solar Parks. They are:  Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Meghalaya, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Odisha. The solar parks will be developed in collaboration with State Governments and their agencies.

2.      Setting up of over 300 MW of  Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects by Defence establishments and Para Military Forces with viability gap funding : 
Under this Scheme over 300 MW of Grid-Connected and Off-Grid Solar PV Power Projects will be set up by Defence Establishments under Ministry of Defence and Para Military Force under Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) with Viability Gap Fund (VGF) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) in five years that is from 2014 to 2019. Under the Scheme there is a stipulation of mandatory condition that all PV cells and modules used in the solar plants set up under this Scheme will be made in India. To implement this Scheme a provision of an amount of Rs 750 crore for MNRE from the National Clean Energy Fund has been earmarked.

3.        Implementation of Scheme for setting up 1000 MW of Grid Connected Solar PV Power projects by CPSUs and GoI organisations with Viability Gap Funding :

The  Government  has also approved the Scheme for setting up of 1000 MW of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects with VGF (Viability Gap Fund) support of Rs.1000 crore, by CPSUs under various Central/State Schemes, in three years period from 2015-16 to 2017-18. The Scheme will have a mandatory condition that all PV cells and modules used in solar plants set up under this Scheme, will be made in India.  The CPSUs and Government of India organisations like NTPC, NHPC, CIL, IREDA, Indian Railways, etc. are coming forward to set up solar power projects.

4.         Classification of Renewable Projects from Red to Green Category:

On the request of MNRE, Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided that classification of Solar, Wind and Small Hydro Projects be out of Red Category to Green Category under Central and State Pollution Control Boards. CPCB has issued an amendment in the categories of industries, according to which the Wind and Solar power projects of all capacities and Small Hydro projects of <25 and="" been="" beginning.="" capacity="" category="" clearance="" developers="" establish="" from="" green="" have="" i.e.="" in="" mw="" obtain="" once="" only="" operate="" p="" project="" put="" spcb="" the="" to="">


5.         Continuation of Schemes for 12th Plan Period:

The Government approved the following schemes for their continuation during the 12th Plan period: (i) National Biogas and Manure Management Programme (NBMMP), (ii) Scheme to Support Promotion of Grid-Interactive Biomass Power and Bagasse Co-generation in Sugar Mills, (iii) Programme for the Development of Small Hydro Power, and (iv) Off-grid and Decentralized Solar Applications under JNNSM.

6.         Enhancement in MNRE’s Budget by 65.8% in Regular Budget, 2014-15:

The Budget Estimate of the Ministry is increased by 65.8% to Rs.2519 crore in the Regular Budget passed by the Parliament in July from Rs.1,519 crore provided in the Interim Budget.  Clean Energy Cess on coal has been increased from Rs 50 per tonne to Rs 100 per tonne so that adequate funds are available for financing Renewable Energy projects.

7.      Restoration of Accelerated Depreciation (AD) Benefits to Wind Power Projects :

After significant harm was done to the wind sector due to withdrawal of AD with effect from 1.4.2012, it has been restored on 18.7.2014. This decision of the Government will help in creating a robust manufacturing base of wind turbines in the country.


8.         Scheme  for Development of Grid Connected Solar PV Power Plants on Canal Banks and Canal Tops :

MNRE launched a Scheme   for Development of Grid Connected Solar PV Power Plants on Canal Banks and Canal Tops in the country during the 12th Plan period at an estimated cost of Rs. 975 crore and with Central Financial Assistance (CFA) of Rs. 228 crore. The objective of this scheme is to achieve gainful utilization of the unutilized area on top of Canals and also the vacant Government land along the banks of Canals wherever available, for setting up Solar PV power generation plants for feeding the generated power to Grid and to set up a total capacity of 100 MW solar PV power projects.


9.               9.    Financing Roof top Solar PV:

The Department of Financial Services under the Union Finance Ministry has advised all banks to encourage home loan/home improvement loan seekers to install roof top solar PVs and include the cost of  equipment in their home loan proposals just like non solar lighting, wiring and other such fittings. Apart from this , the RBI have issued instructions to all Scheduled Commercial Banks that the loans sanctioned by banks directly to individuals for setting up off-grid solar and other off-grid renewable energy solutions for households will be covered under Priority Sector lending.


10.     Scaling up of a programme of Solar Pumps:

The existing programme of Solar Pumps has been scaled up to solarize one lakh solar pumps and supplementary guidelines to this effect have been issued. The target of one lakh pumps has been allocated amongst, 20,000 are allocated to Ministry of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation (20000 pumps for drinking water), MNRE (solarizing 50,000 pumps for irrigation purpose through States) and to NABARD (30000 pumps) for innovative implementation

11.   Improved Cook-stoves:
  
 Unnat Chulha Abhiyan9uca) Programme with the objectives to develop and deploy improved cook-stoves for providing cleaner cooking energy solutions in rural , semi –urban and urban areas using biomass as fuel for cooking launched. This will save rural women from the carcinogenic fumes emitted when traditional fuels are burned.


12.  Obtaining/Extending Line of Credits for IREDA:

·      The Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) of France has decided to extend a Line of Credit (LoC) of Euro 100 million to Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA), for the tenure of 15 years without any guarantee from Government of India, for financing the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency projects in the country. An agreement to this effect was signed between AFD and IREDA on 22 May, 2014.
·      Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) Ltd and Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) signed an Agreement for availing another Line of Credit (LoC) of JPY 30 billion for 30 years (including the grace period of 10 years) from JICA according to which IREDA shall utilize the funds for financing Renewable Energy projects in India.
·      A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed by IREDA and US Exim Bank with respect to cooperation on clean energy investment. As per MoU, US Exim Bank shall provide US $ 1 Billion medium and long-term guaranteed and/or direct dollar loans to finance U.S. technologies, products and services utilized during commercial development activities within the clean energy sector by IREDA.

13.  Setting up a JVC for undertaking the First Demonstration Offshore Wind Power Project in the country along the Gujarat Coast:

An MOU was signed on 1st October, 2014 for setting up a Joint Venture Company (JVC) to undertake first Demonstration Offshore Wind Power Project in the country along the Gujarat coast. The signatories of the MoU were Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), and Consortium of partners consisting of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL), Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), Power Finance Corporation (PFC), Power Trading Corporation (PTC), and Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd (GPCL). The JVC will undertake detailed feasibility study and necessary steps as deemed necessary for implementation of the first offshore demonstration wind power project.

14.  Formation of an Association of Renewable Energy Agencies of States (AREAS):

To promote the interaction amongst the State Nodal Agencies (SNAs) implementing the renewable energy programmes to enable them to learn from each other’s experiences and share their best practices, MNRE took an initiative in consultation with SNAs and formed an Association of Renewable Energy Agencies of States (abbreviated as “AREAS), registered as a society on 27 August 2014, under Society Registration Act 1860.


IN A NUTSHELL:MAJOR INITIATIVES TO BOOST  CLEAN ENERGY IN THE COUNTRY

 
ü  Scheme for setting up 25 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW and above and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects; to be set up during five years that is from 2014-15 to 2018-19 and will require Central Government financial support of Rs.4050 crore.

ü  Setting up over 300 MW of Grid-Connected and Off-Grid Solar PV Power Projects by Defence Establishments and Para Military Forces with Viability Gap Fund (VGF) under JNNSM; Provision of an amount of Rs.750 crore from the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) for the purpose.

ü  Scheme for setting up 1000 MW of Grid Connected Solar PV Power projects by CPSUs and GoI organisations under various Central / State      Schemes / self-use / 3rd party sale / merchant sale with Viability Gap Funding under batch – V of Phase-II of   JNNSM.

ü  Scheme  for Development of Grid Connected Solar PV Power Plants on Canal Banks and Canal Tops ; to be implemented during the 12th Plan period at an estimated cost of Rs. 975 crore and with Central Financial Assistance (CFA) of Rs. 228 crore.


ü  Enhancement in MNRE’s Budget by 65.8% in Regular Budget, 2014-15.


ü  Restoration of Accelerated Depreciation (AD) Benefits to Wind Power Projects .

ü  Clean Energy Cess on coal  increased from Rs 50 per tonne to Rs 100 per tonne so that adequate funds are available for financing Renewable Energy projects.
ü  Banks advised to encourage home loan/home improvement loan seekers to install roof top solar PVs

ü  Classification of Solar, Wind and Small Hydro Projects be out of Red Category to Green Category.

ü  Existing programme of Solar Pumps scaled up to solarize one lakh solar pumps.

ü  Setting up a JVC for undertaking the First Demonstration Offshore Wind Power Project in the country.

ü  Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) of France extended a Line of Credit (LoC) of Euro 100 million to Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA).

ü  IREDA and Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) signed an Agreement for availing another Line of Credit (LoC) of JPY 30 billion for 30 years .

ü  An MOU was signed for setting up a Joint Venture Company (JVC) to undertake first Demonstration Offshore Wind Power Project in the country along the Gujarat coast.


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