New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Two weeks into the first phase of 'Unlock-1', the Finance Ministry has cited several indicators ranging from wheat procurement, rise in railway freight to lower contraction in manufacturing PMI and power consumption to show an increase in economic activities.In a statement, the Finance Ministry on Tuesday noted that agriculture remains the foundation of the Indian economy and with a forecast of a normal monsoon, should support the economy's rebooting."Though the GDP contribution of the sector may not be very large (in relation to industry and services), its growth has a very positive impact on the large population dependent on agriculture," it said.Further, the recent landmark reforms announced in the sector will go a long way in building efficient value chains and ensuring better returns for farmers.Outlining the developments which suggest an increase in economic activity, the official statement said that the procurement of wheat from farmers by government agencies has touched an all-time record figure of382 lakh metric tonne on June 16, 2020 surpassing the earlier record of 381.48 lakh metric tonne achieved in 2012-13.It said that this landmark has been accomplished during the trying times of the pandemic under the social distancing restrictions.Around 42 lakh farmers have been benefited and a total amount of about Rs. 73,500 crore has been paid to them towards Minimum Support Price (MSP) for wheat.Further, the procurement of Minor Forest Produces (MFP) under the MSP for MFP Scheme in 16 states has hit a record-breaking high with the procurement touching Rs 79.42 crores."This has proved to be a much needed panacea in these distressing times of Covid-19 pandemic, which has disrupted lives and livelihoods of tribals," it said.As on June 19, farmers have sown 13.13 million hectares of Kharif crops, 39 per cent higher than corresponding period of last year with a big jump in area coverage under oil seeds, course cereals, pulses and cotton.Fertiliser sales have also surged by almost 98 per cent year-on-year in May 2020 to 40.02 lakh tonne, reflecting a robust agricultural sector.The Finance Ministry also cited the lower contraction of the PMI for manufacturing and services to show a rise in economic activities.India's PMI Manufacturing and Services showed lower contraction in May at 30.8 and 12.6 respectively over April, it said.Electricity consumption saw lower contraction in growth rates from (-) 24 per cent in April to (-) 15.2 per cent in May to (-)12.5 per cent in June so far, it said.Further, the total assessable value of E-Way bills picked up by a massive 130 per cent in May 2020 to Rs 8.98 lakh crore compared to Rs 3.9 lakh crore in April 2020, though lower than previous year and pre-lockdown levels.Value of E-Way bills generated during June 1-19 stood at Rs 7.7 lakh crore, with 11 days left for the month to complete, the ministry said.Consumption of petroleum products, a major indicator reflecting consumption and manufacturing activity in the country, increased by 47 per cent from 99,37,000 metric tonne in April to 1,46,46,000 metric tonnes in May.Consequently, year-on-year contraction in consumption growth of petroleum products was much smaller at (-)23.2 per cent in May against (-)45.7 per cent in April, it said, adding that in June, growth in consumption of petroleum products is expected to be still higher after one month of Unlock 1.0.It also said that railway freight traffic improved by 26 per cent in May over April, though still lower than previous year levels. The improvement is likely to continue in June in sync with growth in movement of goods on National Highways, according to the government.Average daily electronic toll collections increased from Rs 8.25 crore in April, 2020 to Rs 36.84 crore in May, rising more than four times. In the first three weeks of June, it has improved further to Rs 49.8 crore, showed the ministry data.It further noted that with RBI's efforts towards ensuring adequate liquidity, private placement of corporate bonds picked up sharply by 94.1 per cent YoY in May as compared to a contraction of 22 per cent in April. June is likely to see a still larger placement as excess liquidity persists in the system, it said.India's forex reserves at $507.6 billion as on June 12, continue to provide a crucial cushion to external shocks on the back of higher FDI, portfolio flows and low oil prices. FDI in India recorded inflow of $73.45 billion in FY 2019-20, an increase of 18.5 per cent over the previous fiscal.In a tweet, the ministry said: "As India Unlocks, Economic Indicators improve prompt policy measures by @RBI & Govt spawn green shoots in economy Structural reforms & welfare measures will help build on these & lead us towards #AatmaNirbharBharat & a strong vibrant economy."The Finance Ministry statement further said that the commitment of the government towards both structural reforms and supportive social welfare measures will help build on these 'green shoots'."The resolve for 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' will be strengthened with the collective effort of all stakeholders and contribute to rebuilding a strong vibrant Indian economy," it said.The statement comes at a time when serious concerns have been raised over the growth rate of the Indian economy. Several global banks and rating agencies, along with the Reserve Bank of India have projected a contraction in India's GDP this fiscal.--IANSrrb/sn/sdr/
New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) A high power committee constituted for taking steps to decongest prisons in the national capital in the wake of Coronavirus has asked the Director General (DG) Prisons for "rapid testing" of jail staff and new inmates in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside jail premises."Committee opined that 'Rapid Tests' need to be conducted to tackle the situation and to prevent the inmates already in Jail from catching the infection. On directions of the Chair, D.G. (Prisons) readily agreed to check the feasibility of getting these 'Rapid Tests' conducted as per the ICMR guidelines," an order of the high powered committee said.The Committee headed by Delhi High Court judge Justice Hima Kohli and also comprising Tihar Jail DG Sandeep Goyal, Principal Secretary (Home) Satya Gopal and Kanwaljit Arora was set up pursuant to the orders of the Supreme Court in order to decongest the prisons.In order to present the spread of the virus inside the jail premises, the Committee directed the Jail Staff to continue to conduct Thermal Screening and Medical Examination of any suspected case. Jail Administration is also conducting CT-PCR test in cases of any medical necessity.It also directed DG (Prisons) for having regular medical checkup of the entire Jail Staff and inmates through Jail Doctors and to strictly follow the advisory and guidelines issued by ICMR and Delhi government's health department."Directions have been given to DG (Prisons) for creation of separate isolation ward for the fresh inmates so that they be not permitted to intermingle with other inmates immediately on their arrival in the Jail," the order read.In view of the prevailing situation and to prevent Covid-19 spread in jail, the Committee opined that criteria for grant of interim bail/parole shall be further relaxed. The committee has now included various new categories for this relief including Under trial prisoners (UTPs) (who are related as spouse of the deceased) facing trial for a case under Section 498A and 304B IPC and are in jail for more than two years with no involvement in any other case.Under trial prisoners (UTPs) (who are related as father-in-law, mother-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law of the deceased) facing trial for offence under Section 498A and 304B IPC and are in jail for more than one year with no involvement in any other case will also be considered for the relief."Delhi still has prison population of 13,677 as on June 19, 2020 against the combined holding capacity of 10,026 of 16 Jails of the national capital," the order read.Earlier on Friday, a senior official of the of Tihar Central Jail - Asia's largest prison - tested positive for Covid-19.According to the jail officials, the officer was the Superintendent of Jail Number 4. He had complained of fever on June 4 and was on leave since then before getting tested for Covid-19 on June 11.The report, which came on June 13, showed he was positive. "He is currently fine and has recovered but will continue home quarantine till next Saturday (June 27)," Director General, Prisons, Sandeep Goyal said. With this, a total of 56 persons -- 37 staffers and 19 inmates -- at the Tihar Central Jail have tested positive so far.--IANSanb/pgh
Bhopal, June 17 (IANS) Amid the ongoing corona pandemic, the employees of the Madhya Pradesh electricity distribution company will now have to register their attendance with a selfie. They had been so far registering their attendance through the biometric system.As per the official information, the Madhya Kshetra Vidyut Vitaran Company Limited has taken the step as a precautionary measure against the corona outbreak. The selfie-based alternative arrangement would replace the current biometric attendance system.To register attendance at the time of their entry and exit from the company premises, the employees have to upload their selfies on their mobile phones through the company's 'Prayas' app. The employees have to take the selfie at a place from where their seating or workplace is clearly visible.--IANShindi-khz/dpb
New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that with the efforts of the past few weeks, green shoots in the economy are visible, including rise in power consumption which was earlier falling, production of two-wheelers increasing, digital payment in retail reaching pre-lockdown levels, rise in toll collection in May, and bouncing back of exports.These are encouraging signals, Modi said, with a clear hint that the opening of the economy is likely to continue, however, with caution.Modi was speaking at the 6th PM-CM video interaction, where he asserted that India fared better than many nations as far as handling the Covid-19 pandemic was concerned. He claimed that India's mortality rate has been quite low and the timely decisions taken to combat the pandemic have been effective in containing the spread of the virus. He also highlighted how India's recovery rate has crossed the 50 per cent mark.However, while making a compelling case for opening up of the economy, he warned, "We have to always keep in mind that the more we can stop the corona, the more it will stop growing, the more our economy will open, our offices will open, the markets will open, the means of transport will open, and so will new employment opportunities."He forewarned that any laxity in discipline will weaken the fight against the virus.While he talked about boosting the health infrastructure and increasing the testing capacity in the country, Modi stressed on the importance of the economy to bounce back as well as his call for "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" and invited all states to be a part of the mission. "Specific economic activity points in the states should work 24 hours a day and loading and unloading should be quickened to give further boost to economic activities," he said. He also talked about the "hand holding" that is required for smaller factories and timely credit to MSMEs.The Chief Ministers mentioned about the awareness campaigns being run by them, help being provided to the workers who have returned home, usage of the Aarogya Setu app, and kickstarting of economic activities in their respective states. Chief Ministers or representatives of Punjab, Assam, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Goa, Manipur, Nagaland, Ladakh, Puducherry, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra Nagar Haveli & Daman Diu, Sikkim and Lakshadweep were part of Tuesday's interaction. The second leg of the meeting will be held on Wednesday when other states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar will participate.The Prime Minister hailed the role of the Chief Ministers and the Centre-state cooperation during these trying times. "When India's fight against Covid-19 will be analysed in future, this time will be remembered for how we worked together and served as an example of cooperative federalism," added Modi.The Prime Minister had held a detailed meeting with senior ministers and officials on June 13 to review India's response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The meeting had reviewed the national level status and preparation in the context of the pandemic.In that meeting, Home Minister Amit Shah had said that while "we have so far fought a successful battle against the pandemic, the road ahead is long and suggestions given by the Prime Minister regarding the use of mask/face cover, maintaining ‘do gaz doori' should be followed by all".This was the sixth interaction between the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers. The five earlier ones had been held on March 20, April 2, April 11, April 27 and May 11.--IANSabn/arm
New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) Amid the Covid-19 induced lockdown, the national capital has faced higher power bills with several people complaining of getting bills much more than their usual charges, while the BSES said that provisional bills are being served as readings could not be taken due to the lockdown.Speaking to IANS, Anurag Dodwal, one of the residents who has been served a higher bill, said the income has gone down drastically amid the lockdown, so the family is cutting down on the expenses. "We, a family of seven, are cutting down our expenses. We are also using minimum electricity. Our electricity bill usually came between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500, and even zero in some months. In April, our bill was Rs 600 and we paid it. Now in May, it is Rs 3,100. They (the BSES) are not sending anyone for reading and are charging people based on some calculations," the 35-year-old told IANS.Similar issue was faced by Anshuman Bhargava, a resident of Krishan Nagar, who said that while his bill was zero for the past several months before the lockdown, in May, it jumped to Rs 11,000."Since March, no one has come for the reading. However, we have been receiving bills. In March it was Rs 3,000 and in April the bill was Rs 7,000. In May the bill is for Rs 11,000. Now they have revised the bill after I submitted my latest reading online. However, they are saying the money which I have already paid in the last two months -- over 10, 000 -- will be adjusted in the coming month," Bhargava told IANS.He said while the money will be adjusted, his amount is stuck with the BSES for so long."At a time when the income is limited, blocking my Rs 10,000 makes no sense," he added.Sajid Khan from Karawal Nagar also has the same complaint that in April, his bill was Rs 690 and in May, it shot up to Rs 3,140."Under the subsidy, we didn't get so much bills since August last year. Now, we are being charged so high every month," Khan said.Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said the power bill for May was Rs 12,700. "My house has been vacant since March. Yet I got a bill of Rs 5,290 in March and Rs 2,690 in April," he said.A Delhi University student, who left his home in March before the lockdown, said that she received a bill of about Rs 6,000 in April and May."There is no one at the flat. Yet we were charged Rs 6,000. Last month, I paid the amount thinking there must be some issue. Now again on June 1, I received a message that the bill is of Rs 5,973. The entire city is working, but the BSES is still not sending people for taking readings. This is simply a loot," the 23-year-old said.Sunita Anand from Laxmi Nagar said that the bill amount was zero between December and March. "In April, it was Rs 970 and in May, it jumped to Rs 1,900. I am staying alone and do not consume so much electricity," she said.When contacted, the BSES said the bills are being generated on a provisional basis as readings could not be taken due to the lockdown situation."We have been encouraging people for self reading. They can send us the current meter reading photo with details to get the bill revised. We have been revising the bills as and when people are updating their details," the company said.It also said that any excess payments received from provisional bills will be self-adjusted in the later bills once the reading is done."The customers are requested to make the payment on estimated reading. The actual reading bill with adjustment of payment made during the lockdown period will be sent once the lockdown situation gets normalised," the BSES said in one of the messages to the customers.It said that as per the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission guidelines, electricity bills may be raised on a provisional basis with respect to consumers not covered under the Smart Meters and Automatic Meter Reading."An additional rebate of Rs 20 per bill shall be provided to the consumer if the consumer furnishes the meter reading(s) himself," the BSES added.On August 1, 2019, the Delhi government had announced that people living in the national capital will not have to pay any electricity bill for consuming up to 200 units of power. For those consuming electricity between 201 and 400 units, about 50 per cent of subsidy will be provided.--IANSnks/arm
New Delhi, May 11 (IANS) Soon after an employee of the Ministry of Power tested positive for COVID-19, the Shram Shakti Bhawan that houses the ministry's office was sealed.The ministry tweeted: "An official of Ministry of Power has been detected positive for Covid-19. All the due protocols as per extant guidelines are being followed."The Power Ministry will now resume its normal functioning from Tuesday. "Ministry is functional through work from home. Normal functioning, as per extant guidelines, will resume from Tuesday," the tweet read further.India saw the highest spike of 4,213 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours taking the total tally up to 67,152, the Union Health Ministry said on Monday. At least 97 new fatalities were also reported in a day.Of the total cases, 44,029 are active and 2,206 are fatalities so far while at least 20,916 people have recovered from the disease.--IANSanb/in
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