Achieving Significant Milestones - Indian Space Programme

by - G Madhavan Nair, Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman, ISRO

The successful launching of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C9) on April 28, 2008 putting ten satellites, viz., CARTOSAT-2A, Indian Mini Satellite (IMS-1) and eight nano-satellites from abroad into the orbit has given the country a coveted status among space faring nations. In its twelve consecutively successful flights so far, PSLV has repeatedly proved itself as a reliable and versatile workhorse launch vehicle.

It has demonstrated multiple satellite launch capability having launched a total of sixteen satellites for international customers besides thirteen Indian payloads, which are for remote sensing, amateur radio communications and Space capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-1). PSLV was used to launch ISRO’s exclusive meteorological satellite, KALPANA-1, into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) in September 2002 and thus proved its versatility.

CARTOSAT-2A is a state-of-the art remote sensing satellite with a spatial resolution of better than one metre and swath of 9.6 km. The satellite carries a panchromatic camera (PAN) capable of taking black-and-white pictures in the visible region of electromagnetic spectrum. The highly agile CARTOSAT-2A is steerable along as well as across the direction of its movement to facilitate imaging of any area more frequently. High-resolution data from CARTOSAT-2A will be invaluable in urban and rural development applications calling for large scale mapping.

Indian Mini Satellite (IMS-1), flown as an auxiliary payload weighing 83 Kg at lift-off, incorporates many new technologies and has miniaturised subsystems. IMS-1 carries two remote sensing payloads – a Multi-spectral camera (Mx Payload) and a Hyper-spectral camera (HySI Payload), operating in the visible and near infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The spatial resolution of Mx camera is 37 metre with a swath of 151 km while that of HySI is about 506 metre with a swath of about 130 km.

The data from this mission will be made available to interested space agencies and student community from developing countries to provide necessary impetus to capacity building in using satellite data. The versatile IMS-1 has been specifically developed to carry different payloads in future without significant changes in it and has a design life time of two years.

Establishing Indigenous Systems
Space programme in the country started in the 1960’s with the launching of small sounding rockets to investigate the ionosphere over the magnetic equator that passes over Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram. Since then, India has been able to successfully master space technology and, more importantly, use it effectively for deriving benefits for the society at grassroots level. Today, Indian National satellite (INSAT) system and Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) Satellite System form an important element of the national developmental infrastructure. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV, and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV, designed and built indigenously have made the space programme self-reliant.

INSAT System
INSAT System is the largest domestic communication satellite system in the Asia Pacific region with eleven satellites in operation carrying a total of 210 transponders for communication and broadcast services including Direct-To-Home (DTH) service besides meteorological instruments for providing meteorological services.

Today, more than 65,000 VSATs – both in private and government sectors – are operating through INSAT. INSAT has enabled the expansion of television coverage with more than 40 Doordarshan channels and 50 private TV channels operating through INSAT. DTH television services have become a reality. More importantly, there have been several innovative applications of INSAT system. EDUSAT, launched in September 2004, is the first thematic satellite dedicated exclusively for educational services. EDUSAT is providing a wide range of educational delivery modes like one-way TV broadcast, interactive TV, video conferencing, computer conferencing, web-based instructions, etc. About 46 networks that utilise EDUSAT covering 23 states have been setup across the country. These networks connect more than 2500 interactive and about 31,000 receive-only nodes setup at different schools, colleges, training institutes and other departments.

Telemedicine is another important initiative to use space technology for societal benefits. It has enabled the population, even in the remotest parts, access to super specialty medical care. At present, the telemedicine network of ISRO has more than 300 installations of which about 45 are super specialty hospitals and 10 are mobile units. Till now, more than three lakh patients have been benefited annually through telemedicine system.

Meteorological data from INSAT is used for weather forecasting and specially designed disaster warning receivers have been installed in vulnerable coastal areas for direct transmission of warnings against impending disaster like cyclones.

The major emphasis in the coming years will be to meet the growing demand for transponders by progressively increasing the capacity to about 500 transponders. An Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS), with a constellation of seven satellites is also being established over the next 6-7 years to provide navigation and timing services over the Indian subcontinent. IRNSS will be an important component of the Indian strategy for establishing an indigenous and independent satellite navigation system.

Indian Remote Sensing Satellite System
With eight satellites in operation, Indian remote Sensing Satellite System (IRS) is the largest civilian remote sensing satellite constellation in the world providing imageries in a variety of spatial resolutions and spectral bands. CARTOSAT-2A, is a state-of-the art remote sensing satellite with better than one meter resolution. The highly agile CARTOSAT-2A is steer-able along as well as across the direction of its movement to facilitate imaging of any area more frequently. IMS-1, flown, as an auxiliary payload on board PSLV-C9 along with CARTOSAT-2A is a Mini Satellite developed by ISRO for remote sensing.

The data from IRS satellites is used for a variety of applications including groundwater prospect mapping, crop acreage and production estimation, potential fishing zone forecasting based on chlorophyll and sea surface temperature, biodiversity characterisation, detailed impact assessment of watershed development projects, generation of natural resources information system, etc.

In order to reach space-based services directly to the rural population, establishment of Village Resource Centres (VRC) has been operationalised with the participation of NGOs. VRCs provide a variety of space based products and services such as tele-education; telemedicine; information on natural resources; interactive advisories on agriculture, fisheries, land and water resources management; livestock management; interactive vocational training towards livelihood support; etc. So far, 410 VRCs have been set up.

Space systems also help in disaster management through creation of database for facilitating hazard zonation and damage assessment, monitoring of major natural disasters using satellite and aerial data and strengthening the communication backbone for timely dissemination of information and emergency support.

Indian Launch Vehicles
India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) are now used for launching the remote sensing and communication satellites.

ISRO has achieved a significant milestone through the successful test of indigenously developed Cryogenic Stage, to be employed as the upper stage of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The test was conducted for its full flight duration of 720 seconds on November 15, 2007 at Liquid Propulsion test facility at Mahendragiri, in Tamil Nadu. With this test, the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage has been fully qualified on the ground.

Launch of PSLV-C9 is a significant milestone for the country, as it has again proved the reliability and versatility of PSLV and its ability to put satellites in different types of orbits, thus proving its commercial potential as well. This provides an excellent opportunity to undertake commercial launches of different class of satellites as stand-alone launches or as shared launches with our own satellites.

Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F04) was launched successfully on September 2, 2007 carrying INSAT-4CR into the desired orbit. The successful launch of GSLV-F04 demonstrated the operational reliability of GSLV as well as reiterating the end-to-end capability of ISRO to not only build state-of-the-art communication satellites, but also to launch them using the indigenously designed and built launch vehicle.

The immediate target is to complete the development of GSLV Mk III capable of launching 4 tonne class communication satellites. Technology development and demonstration missions on reusable launch vehicle including space recovery technologies and air breathing propulsion are also envisaged.

Contributing to Scientific Knowledge
Indian space programme encompasses research in atmospheric sciences, planetary and geosciences and theoretical physics. There are ground facilities like Mesosphere-Stratosphere-Troposphere Radar at Tirupati and Udaipur Solar Observatory. A series of sounding rockets are available for atmospheric experiments. Several scientific instruments have been flown on satellites especially to direct celestial X-ray and gamma-ray bursts.

India has now embarked on a major mission, Chandrayaan-1. It is an un-manned Indian scientific mission to moon planned shortly. The objective is high resolution mapping of the moon in visible, near infrared, low energy X-ray and high-energy X-ray regions and prepares a 3-dimensional atlas of regions of scientific interest. The spacecraft will carry six primary Indian scientific instruments besides two from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of USA, three instruments from the European Space Agency and another from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

ASTROSAT is another major initiative. This satellite, to be launched during 2009, will be useful for multi-wavelength studies of a variety of celestial sources and phenomena using a cluster of X-ray astronomy instruments and Ultraviolet imaging telescope.

Follow-on missions to Chandrayaan-1 and ASTROSAT are also envisaged for pursuing scientific exploration. Besides, small satellite missions for scientific studies in the areas of solar physics, earth’s near space environment, inner magnetosphere and atmospheric aerosol and trace gases are also proposed. Further, with the primary interest to understand the origin and evolution of solar system, technology development could be initiated in the coming years towards exploration of Mars, Asteroids and comets.

Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology
Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) was inaugurated on September 14, 2007 with the objective of offering high quality education in space science and technology to meet the growing demands of the Indian Space Programme. The Institute offers Bachelors degree in Space Technology with specialization in avionics, and aerospace engineering as well as Integrated Masters degree in applied sciences with special emphasis on space related subjects. The Institute started from the current academic year and 140 students from various parts of the country have enrolled for under graduate and masters courses.

Commercial Success
The capabilities created under the Indian space programme are bringing in commercial benefits too. Antrix Corporation Limited was specially created in 1992 under the Department of Space to market space services and hardware in the international market. ANTRIX provides transponders on lease and remote sensing data services as well as launch services. It also provides technical services for launch and early-orbit-phase mission support and in-orbit testing for satellites of other countries. ANTRIX has been profitable throughout registering an annual growth rate of about 20 percent in the past few years. The present turn-over of ANTRIX is Rs.664 crore with a profit of Rs.105 crore.

ANTRIX’s vision is to further expand its market share in fields such as remote sensing imageries, commercial satellites and infrastructure services in space for broadcasting and other emerging services like mobile communication and positioning systems. It also envisions strengthening the role of Indian industries and would develop alliances with other major global players to make forays into new markets in the markets in the developing part of the world.

Towards manned Space Mission
Space has emerged as the next frontier of human kind. Involvement of human beings in space for building and maintaining space assets will become important in the coming decades and it will be necessary to initiate the activities towards manned missions by developing critical technologies. The immediate objective will be to develop a fully autonomous manned space vehicle – in about 8-10 years – which could be launched by India’s GSLV and can carry a two-member crew to low earth orbit and safely return to earth.
The Indian space programme, while meeting the developmental needs of the nation through establishment of space systems in a self reliant manner, is poised to expand further and play an increasing role in the national developmental efforts besides substantially contributing to the exploration of outer space. (PIB Features)

Indian Genome Variation Consortium Project: Genetic Map of India

by -

Prof. Samir K. Brahmachari, Director General, CSIR & Secretary, Department of Scientific & Industrial Research

Dr Mitali Mukherjee, Scientist, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi

Dr Samam Habib, Scientist, Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow

Contemporary India comprising nearly 1/6th of the world population is a huge melting pot of human diversity brought about by wave upon wave of human migrations followed by admixtures with the existing populations. It is organized into various ethnic, religious, caste groups and isolated tribal populations. There are over 4693 communities, 325 functioning languages and 25 scripts.

Indian Genome Variation Project completed recently, was aimed at studying diversity of 1000 biomedically important and pharmaco-genetically relevant genes in populations representing the genetic spectrum of India. A careful effort was first made to select representative populations of diverse linguistic, ethnic origins from all the major geographical zones of the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Gujarat to Assam. This ambitious project is also unprecedented in terms of the number of participants—over half a dozen Institutes and over 150 CSIR scientists contributed to it.

The Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata, Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow, Industrial Toxicological Research Centre (ITRC), Lucknow, Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), Chandigarh, The Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata, Anthropological Survey of India and The Centre for Genomic Applications (TCGA), a public-private partnership were closely involved in the study

Increased life-expectancy and life-style changes have ushered in complex diseases like diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disorders, epilepsy, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Nearly 1% of the Indian population suffers from complex diseases that need expensive interventions and prolonged medication, which again, are not free of side–effects. Identifying optimum dosage and a suitable schedule of medication customized for each individual to minimize side effects is a major challenge.

Uses of Gene Mapping
There are over 6 million differences at the basic genetic level between two unrelated individuals. Variations at the level of single nucleotides are commonly referred to as Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP). Most variations arise randomly and do not affect survival. Complex disorders are a consequence of the cumulative effect of a large number of variations that independently have small effects that are, individually neither necessary nor sufficient, to cause the disease. Of course, the interplay of environment, diet and lifestyle are often triggering factors.

IGVCP sought to provide answers to vexing questions such as “which genetic marker(s) predisposes an individual to a certain genetic disease/disorder placing him at greater risk or, how do certain groups of people respond to a given drug. It focused on actions that can be initiated with the current levels of knowledge; with disorders where the number of genes involved is known. For example, as in the case of ocular and muscular problems, diabetes and drug metabolism/response genes. The exciting outcome of the IGVCP is that it has presented scientists with a clear genetic profile of our populations and has shown that there is a strong association between genetic and linguistic profiles in India.

IGVC results have revealed that though India is a conglomerate of diverse ethnic and linguistic lineages nevertheless they cluster into broader groups of genetic homogeneity and there are significant differences in the frequencies of disease-associated genetic markers between the groups. With IGVdb, scientists can scan the national frequencies of the 1000 genes.

A closer scrutiny will no doubt reveal finer nuances of the genetic pre-disposition that the Indian population has to certain diseases and ultimately, facilitate personalized therapies for people by matching drug design to their genetic profile. In the era of predictive medicine, each individual could have a personalized health regime based on his/her genetic make-up.

Clues for Disease Association and Drug Response
The results of this study will help in making predictions of diseases and effectiveness of specific drugs used for various diseases, and in designing future scientific studies to understand genetic underpinnings of major diseases in India. These results have also provided the first set of insights into the processes of human adaptation to different environments in India.

This study has revealed that a known protective genetic marker against HIV-1 is virtually absent in India, implying that we do not have a natural or genetic protection against HIV-AIDS. This validates the HIV epidemiology data and further reiterates for a national policy to combat this dreaded disease.

The IGVdb data has major implications in designing drug-discovery studies and selecting suitable populations for testing drug efficacy. It has suggested that the Indian populations are likely to respond differently to salbutamol (drug for bronchial asthma). This information also provides a framework that will enable identification of specific populations with differential response to different classes of drugs for future studies on epidemiology and drug response determinants.

Incidence of the more severe form of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum is high in India (~0.9 million cases reported annually). However, some, but not all, infected individuals develop severe complications. Polymorphisms in more than 30 human genes have been associated with susceptibility/resistance to severe malaria. Data from IGVC revealed significant differences in genotype frequencies of the Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) in populations residing in P. falciparum-endemic and non-endemic regions of India.

IGVCP has mapped a SNP (in the gene CYP1B1), which is an allele for Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) across the different population groups. Over 70 per cent of the POAG cases appear to be inherited although the pattern of inheritance does not seem to clearly follow the classical laws of Mendelian inheritance. Glaucoma is now included in the list of disorders that can be investigated using the IGVdb.

Cardiovascular Diseases
Increased levels of Homocysteine (Hcy) are associated with a range of disorders including pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, ischemic stroke and cardiovascular disease. Normally, Hcy plays an important role in the metabolic cycle of Methionine. Any anomaly in the levels of Hcy impairs the Methionine cycle and interferes with the balance of critical proteins required by the body. Folates and Vitamin B 12 are dietary factors that are instrumental in maintaining the conversion of Hcy to Methionine via an enzyme called MTHFR. Mutations in the MTHFR gene can lead to altered levels of Hcy. The allele MTHFR C677T ( a tiny change where base T replaces base C) is one of the better known polymorphism responsible for raising Hcy levels. The IGVdb provides information that can be used to home in on populations that could benefit from supplementation of folate and Vitamin B 12 in their diets—thus effectively short circuiting their predisposition to cardio vascular diseases because of a genetic condition.

Neurological Disorders
IGVdb is a treasure trove for those studying the genetic pre-disposition of neurological disorders such as Schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. The IGVdb clearly establishes that polymorphisms of certain genes on Chromosome 22 that are known to be associated with these two disorders, vary markedly across ethnic groups in India. Polymorphisms in one gene—MLC1—has been associated with both these neuro –psychiatric disorders/ IGVdb will allow scientists to work out, on large and diverse population sample, how polymorphic alleles interact with other genes.
Gene-disease association studies have been carried out in India earlier too. But these were restricted both geographically as well in sample size. With IGVDb has come a quantum change in the way we look at populations and genetic predispositions. It is the harbinger of a paradigm shift in our way of addressing the healthcare problem on a pan- India basis yet focusing on an individual at a personal level as well.

The critical importance of IGVdb lies in the fact that there now is, for the first time in India, a scientific basis for the identification of appropriate cohort groups for pooling samples to arrive at a gene-disease association applicable across the length and breadth of the country.

After the second phase of IGVdb there will be enough data to fashion tools for population-specific, pro-active medical interventions that can bring affordable healthcare to the doorstep of every Indian citizen. (PIB Features)

National Action Plan on Climate Change

by - Namo Narain Meena, Minister of State for Environment & Forests

India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was released by the Prime Minister on 30th June 2008. The National Action Plan outlines India’s strategy to meet the challenge of Climate Change. The strategy promotes, firstly, the adaptation to Climate Change and secondly, further enhancement of the ecological sustainability of India’s development path.

Approach to Climate Change

The National Action Plan recognises that climate change is a global challenge and, that it should be overcome through a globally collaborative and cooperative effort based on the principle of equity. India is willing to play its role as a responsible member of the international community and to make its contribution. However, this requires not only sustainable production processes, but also sustainable life styles across the globe. In this effort, every citizen of the planet should have an equal share of the planetary atmospheric space.

Long-term convergence of per capita GHG emissions is the only equitable basis for a global agreement to tackle climate change. The Action Plan assures the international community that India’s per capita GHG emissions would not exceed the per capita GHG emissions of developed countries, despite India’s developmental imperatives.

Domestic Action

India’s National Action Plan stresses that maintaining a high growth rate is essential for increasing living standards of the vast majority of people of India and reducing their vulnerability is the impacts of climate change. Accordingly, the Action Plan identifies measures that promote the objectives of sustainable development of India while also yielding co-benefits for addressing climate change.

Eight National Missions which form the core of the National Action Plan represent multi-pronged, long term and integrated strategies for achieving key goals in the context of climate change. The focus is on promoting understanding of Climate Change, adaptation and mitigation, energy efficiency and natural resource conservation. While, several of these programmes are already a part of the current actions, the Action Plan seeks to enhance them in scope, and effectiveness and implement them in an accelerated manner through time bound plans.

National Missions

The National Solar Mission aims at increasing the share of solar energy in the total energy mix through development of new solar technologies, while attempting to expand the scope of other renewable and non fossil options such as nuclear energy, wind energy and biomass.

The National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency comprises of four new initiatives, namely, a market based mechanism for trading in certified energy savings in energy-intensive large industries and facilities, accelerating the shift to energy efficient appliances in designated sectors, demand side management programmes in all sectors by capturing future energy savings, and developing fiscal instruments to promote energy efficiency.

The National Mission on Sustainable Habitat attempts to promote energy efficiency in buildings, management of solid waste and modal shift to public transport including transport options based on bio-diesel and hydrogen. The National Water Mission has, as its objective, the conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring more equitable distribution both across and within States.

The National Mission for sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem is aimed at evolving management measures for sustaining and safeguarding the Himalayan glacier and mountain eco-system. The National Mission for a Green India focusses on enhancing eco-system services and carbon sinks through afforestation on degraded forest land in line with the national policy of expanding the forest and tree cover to 33% of the total land area of the country.

The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture would develop strategies to make Indian agriculture more resilient to climate change through development of new varieties of thermal resistant crops, new credit and insurance mechanisms and improving productivity of rainfed agriculture. The National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change is intended to identify the challenges of, and the responses to, climate change through research and technology development and ensure funding of high quality and focused research into various aspects of climate change.

Other Initiatives

Apart from the eight National Missions, the National Action Plan also envisages other initiatives aimed at enhancing mitigation and adaptation.

These include

research & development in the area of ultra super critical boilers in coal-based thermal plants;

integrated gasification combined cycle technology to make coal based power generation efficient;

setting up more combined cycle natural gas plants;

promotion of nuclear energy through adoption of fast breeder and thorium-based thermal reactor technology in nuclear power generation; adoption of high-voltage AC and high-voltage DC transmission to reduce technical losses during transmission and distribution;

development of small and large scale hydro power; promotion of renewable energy technologies such as bio-mass combustion and gasification-based power generation;

enhancements in the regulatory/tariff regimes to help mainstream renewable-based sources in the national power system;

and renewable energy technologies for transportation and industrial fuels.

In addition, the Action Plan envisages effective disaster management strategies that include mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into infrastructure project design, strengthening communication networks and disaster management facilities at all levels, protection of coastal areas, provision of enhanced public health care services, and assessment of increased burden of vector-borne diseases due to climate change.

The Central Government, State Governments and Local Bodies will have a key role in putting in place appropriate delivery mechanisms and building adequate capacity and knowledge in the relevant institutions for effective adaptation and mitigation actions.

Institutional Mechanism

Comprehensive Mission documents detailing objectives, strategies, plan of action, timelines and monitoring and evaluation criteria of all eight Missions and Other Initiatives are being developed by the relevant nodal Ministries and will be finalised by the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. The work is being coordinated by the Ministry of Environment & Forests.

International Cooperation

The National Action Plan looks forward to enhanced international cooperation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It renews India’s pledge to play an active role in multilateral cooperation in addressing climate change based on the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’.

The Action Plan acknowledges that, in the move towards a low carbon economy, technology has a vital role to play. Models and mechanisms for technology transfer will need to incorporate the key elements such as appropriate funding modalities and approaches; a facilitative IPR environment, and enhancing the absorptive capacity within developing countries. Some reforms in the carbon market, such as mainstreaming the bundling and programmatic CDM, also need to be carried out multilaterally.

The international cooperation should aim at enhanced implementation of the UNFCCC through minimising of the negative impacts of climate change through suitable adaptation measures, providing fairness and equity in actions and measures, and ensuring concessional financial flows from the developed countries and access to technology on affordable terms.

India’s National Action on Climate Change will evolve on the basis of new scientific and technical knowledge, and in response to the evolution of the multilateral climate change regime including arrangements for international cooperation.

Radio broadcasting in India – a service to the community

by - Smt. Sushma Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting

Radio broadcasting began in India in the early 1920’s. The Radio Club of Bombay broadcast the first programme in 1923. This was followed by the setting up of a Broadcasting Service that began broadcasting on 23rd July 1927 on an experimental basis in Bombay and Calcutta, under an agreement between the then Government of India and a private company called the Indian Broadcasting Company Ltd. When this company went into liquidation in 1930, Indian State Broadcasting Service under the Department of “Controller of Broadcasts” was constituted. The Indian State Broadcasting Service was renamed as All India Radio in June, 1936. All India Radio also came to be known as Akashvani in 1956.

When India attained Independence in 1947, AIR had a network of six stations and 18 transmitters. The coverage was 2.5 % of the area and just 11% of the population. AIR today has 231 radio stations and 373 transmitters and its coverage extends to 91.79 % by area and 99.14 % by population. Operating in a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic country like India, AIR broadcasts in 24 languages and 146 dialects, in its home service. In External Services, it covers 27 languages including 16 foreign and 11 Indian languages. AIR operates its broadcasting services on Medium Wave, Short Wave and FM. The FM Service uses a larger bandwidth to provide a programme service of high fidelity and lower noise distortion. AIR started the FM network with its channels viz. AIR FM Gold, and AIR FM Rainbow,

In its programming and other activities AIR is guided by its motto “Bahujana Hitaya; Bahujana Sukhaya” i.e to promote the happiness and welfare of the masses through information, education and entertainment. To realize its objectives, AIR has evolved a three-tier system of broadcasting – national, regional and local. It caters to the mass communication needs of the people through its various stations spread across the country. They provide music, spoken word, news and other programmes. Local stations meet the area specific needs of the listener.
At present All India Radio operates its services through:
 Primary Channels
 Commercial Broadcasting Service (Vividh Bharati)
 FM Channels (Rainbow and Gold)
 Local Radio Station (LRS)
 National Channel
 External Services broadcast
 Other niche channels: Amrutha Varshini

Emergency Warning Broadcasting System (EWBS)
Broadcasting is a very effective medium for relaying life-saving information on the preventive measures to be taken and also about the rescue measures envisaged after the disaster has happened. Japan has developed a technique in which a sleeping radio set can be switched on automatically in case of emergency. All India radio has already tested the technique in MW/FM transmitters. Further work is proposed in coordination with National Disaster Management Authority.
With the passage of time operating broadcasting services on Medium Wave and Short Wave, AIR has had stepped into the larger bandwidth to provide a programme service of high fidelity and lower noise distortion and thus came the era of FM.

Expansion Of FM Through Private Participation
With the advent of liberalization in India. Government of India brought out a policy to expand FM Radio Network through participation of private agencies in 1999 and again a revised policy in 2005. Accordingly, 21 channels were operationalised in various states in Phase- I and 236 channels have been operationalised in Phase- II, out of the 266 channels for which licenses have been given. Government has received a sum of Rs.35.53 crores (approx.) license fee from these channels during 2007- 08.

Community Radio Setup in India
After the success of the FM Radio Broadcasting, the Government of India approved a policy for the grant of licenses for setting up of Community Radio Stations to well established educational institutions including IITs/IIMs, Krishi Vikas Kendras, State Agricultural universities, Indian Council of Agricultural Research institutions and ‘Non-profit’ organizations like civil society and voluntary organizations.
The basic objective of the Community Radio broadcasting is to serve the cause of the community in the service area by involving members of the community in the broadcast of their programmes. These small Radio Stations set up by educational institutions, civil society organizations etc., would cater to the needs of the population in a range of 10-15 km and would have programmes of immediate relevance to the community. The emphasis should be on developmental, agricultural, health, educational, environmental, social welfare, community development and cultural programmes. The programming should reflect the special interests and needs of the local community and at least 50% of content shall be generated with the participation of the local community, for which the station has been set up.

Challenge to AIR - Technological Advancements
With the advent of private channels in FM Radio, the Public Broadcaster’s monopoly has been threatened. To compete with the upcoming channels the AIR also has been adopting new technologies and techniques to continue to reach out to the masses. AIR has added another feather to its cap by making available the ‘SMS News on Mobile Phone’ service. Anyone can now get news through SMS by sending a SMS – NEWS at 5676744.

The ‘News on Phone’ service is another landmark being presented by AIR. Anyone can get the latest news by simply making a phone call on the designated numbers and listen to national / international news or regional news in English, Hindi and local language. The service is now operational in 14 cities across the country including Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Patna, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Thiruvananthpuram.

Utilizing the technological advancements, AIR has also launched its website for the news lovers. AIR News can be accessed through NSD website

Introduction of Internet broadcasting by AIR has enabled its listeners in parts of the world like USA, Canada, West and South Africa to avail of AIR’s Services on Internet 24 hrs. 21 AIR channels are also available through Doordarshan DTH services.

The External Services Division has started digital transmission from its new set up installed in the New Broadcasting House. All modern gadgets and equipments are being used to attract as many listeners as possible.

Computer Hard Disc based recording, editing and playback system has already been provided at 76 AIR stations and is under implementation at 61 stations. Provision of Hard Disc Based System at 48 major stations of All India Radio is also currently in progress.

Computerization of AIR stations and offices is in progress to facilitate online exchange of information and improvement of efficiency.

Permanent Studios with digital equipment & Compterised hard disc based work stations for recording, dubbing, editing & playback facilities etc. are being provided at AIR Leh, Dehradun, Mysore, Jaipur, & Tawang.

AIR has started “AIR RESOURCES” as one of its commercial arm to provide consultancy and turnkey solutions in the field of broadcasting. Its present activities include the following:
It is providing turnkey solutions to IGNOU in setting up FM Transmitters for their Gyan-Vani stations at 40 places in the country. Infrastructure like land, building and tower has also been leased out to Gyan-Vani stations. 26 Gyan-Vani stations are already operational. Operation & maintenance of all the Gyan-Vani stations commissioned so far has also been undertaken.

All India Radio, with its reach to nearly the whole of population, continues in its effort to spread awareness among the people about the initiatives taken by the Government to improve the standard of living of the common man. From its post Independence stature as channel associated only with classical music it has graduated into a educational-cum-entertainment channel and is once again looking forward to gain the ground it had lost to the private operators in the recent past.

Nutrient Management – A Challenging Task Ahead

by - Dr Mangala Rai, Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), & Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)

Fertilizer is the mainstay of food production in the country; hence its judicious use is the need of the hour. The integrated nutrient management is a panacea for sound soil health, higher farm productivity and profitability. Accordingly, our Government has taken historical decisions on nutrient-based pricing and subsidy, meeting additional cost of fortification/ coating of fertilizers, payment of freight subsidy for all fertilizers on actual basis and revival of single super phosphate industry. Simultaneously, to ensure adequate supply of fertilizers, the fertilizer industry needs to be cajoled from the continued stagnation due to low level of investment.

To reduce dependence on import of fertilizers, the indigenously available nutrient sources like low grade rock phosphate, waste mica and phosphogypsum need to be promoted as a source of phosphorus, potassium and sulphur, respectively. At the same time, there should be adequate provision for setting up of compost and bio-fertilizer units in rural and urban areas. The soil testing service requires to be strengthened for precise and efficient fertilizer use.

Fertilizers have played a stellar role in improving crop productivity and production and would continue to do so in future as well. However, presently there is a growing concern about the low use efficiency of nutrients which range from 2 to 50%. Such a low efficiency increases the cost of production and leads to severe environmental consequences. It is estimated that just by raising the nutrient-use efficiency by 10%, the country can save almost 20 million ha of land at the current level of productivity.

The impaired soil health and the declined productive potential is primarily due to imbalanced fertilizer use coupled with low use of organic manures. The soils are not being adequately replenished even with the macro-nutrients, let alone secondary and micro-nutrients. The improper nutrient management has, therefore, led to multi-nutrient deficiencies in Indian soils. The deficiencies range from 3% of copper to 89% of nitrogen with other elements falling in the range. The deficiencies are becoming more critical for sulphur, zinc and boron. About 47 million ha in major cropping systems are deficient in sulphur. The zinc deficiency is rampant in alluvial soils of Indo-Gangetic plain, black soils of Deccan Plateau and red and other associated soils. The boron deficiencies are showing up in red, lateritic and calcareous soils of Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. The limiting nutrients by not allowing the full expression of other nutrients, lower fertilizer responses and crop productivity.

The site-specific integrated nutrient management encompassing conjunctive use of inorganic and organic fertilizers is the most ideal system for maintaining soil health and enhancing nutrient-use efficiency. The country will require about 45 MT of nutrients to produce 300 MT of foodgrains by 2025. Therefore, the fertilizer industry has to augment fertilizer production substantially from the present level of about 22 million tonnes of nutrients to keep pace with the growing food demands of the country. At the same time, the Government should have adequate provisions for setting up of units of compost and biofertilizers in rural and urban areas of the country.

There is near stagnation in capacity and investment in fertilizer sector since 2000, which has adversely affected the production of fertilizers in the country. The existing gap of about 10 million tonnes of fertilizers between demand and supply is likely to grow to 16 million tonnes by the end of 11th Plan thus necessitating import which would, obviously, cause drain on the state exchequer.

The fertilizer industry needs to gear up to meet national demands in view of the rise in the cost of raw materials/intermediates and finished fertilizers in the international markets. The country lacks raw materials for manufacturing phosphatic and potassic fertilizers. Large quantities of high grade rock phosphate and phosphoric acid for the manufacture of phosphatic fertilizers are imported. Potassium fertilizer is fully imported as the indigenous sources of potash are not of high quality and uneconomic for exploitation. The present prices of rock phosphate, sulphur and phosphoric acid used for the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers have increased by 3.5, 6.4 and 2.8 times, respectively, compared to the prices of last year.

Appropriate policy initiatives are, therefore, required to restore health of fertilizer industry, and make it a vibrant sector to face formidable challenges of supplying adequate quantities of fertilizers to domestic agricultural sector. The investment friendly policy is the need of the hour to enhance capacity through revamp, expansion, new plants and joint ventures abroad. A start has already been made in developing such ventures with Morocco, Jordan, Senegal, Oman, and UAE with 100% buy back arrangements for the products. A large number of old Naphtha and fuel oil based plants (present capacity being 26%) with about 2.5 times more cost of production compared to gas based plants need to be phased out. Seeing the present and future requirements, the fertilizer sector should have priority allocations of the natural gas. Although the supplies are going to improve soon with the production from the Krishna-Godavari (KG) Basin fields, the demand is likely to outstrip supplies.

The subsidy, hitherto, was fixed product-wise and not as per nutrient content in the product, and hence was a cause of nutrient imbalance and deterioration of soil health. Also, the fertilizers fortified and coated with micro- and secondary-nutrients could not be produced on a large-scale due to no provision in the fertilizer policy for meeting their additional cost on account of fortification and coating. To promote balance use of fertilizers, the Government has recently taken historical decisions on moving to nutrient based pricing and subsidy, and allowing additional cost of fortification and coating of fertilizers to manufacturers. The new policy would broaden the basket of fertilizers and enable fertilizer use as per soil and crop requirements. The other policy decisions taken by the Government are on paying freight subsidy for all fertilizers on actual basis instead of uniform basis and allowing higher rate of concession to single super phosphate (SSP) fertilizer. The freight subsidy on actual basis would ensure wider spread of fertilizers and their availability in distant areas from the manufacturing sites/ports. The upward revision of rate of concession on SSP would revive the SSP industry; suffering sickness for long, due to ad hoc and low rate of concession. Needless to say, the SSP containing 11% sulphur would correct widespread sulphur deficiency in Indian soils as well, besides serving as a P source.

Presently, only 15 fertilizers are covered under subsidy/concession scheme and a large number of other fertilizers including the products containing secondary and micronutrients are outside the ambit of subsidy policy. Hence, incentive for their use would be required. Also to reduce dependence on import of fertilizer raw materials/intermediates and finished products, we need to utilize all indigenously available nutrient sources. There are good reserves of low grade rock phosphate and potassium-bearing mica in the country. The reserves are uneconomic for exploitation as fertilizers could be used for production of enriched manures containing P and K through co-composting. The low grade phosphate rock could also be used for direct application in acid soils.

Phosphogypsum, a byproduct of phosphoric acid based fertilizer industry, contains 16 to 18% S and can serve as a potential source of sulphur to crops. Over 5 to 6 million tonnes of phosphogypsum are generated per annum by the industry. It may be included under FCO as sulphur fertilizer and considered for concession/transport subsidy. The product has a potential to supply about 1 million tonne of sulphur annually. There are also significant reserves of gypsum containing 16 to 18% S in the country, which can be exploited as source of sulphur besides serving as an amendment for sodic lands. The sources of lime like limestone/dolomite, basic slag from steel industries and lime sludge from the paper industries should be used for liming of acid soils to enhance their nutrient/fertilizer-use efficiency. Liming could save half of the recommended fertilizer, especially for legumes and pulses. Mass movement on vermi-composting, residue recycling and green manuring is to be undertaken as a mission in each and every village in the country.

The geo-referenced soil fertility maps including macro, secondary and micro-nutrients should be prepared speedily at district and block levels to serve as guide for proper fertilizer allocation, distribution and application. A good number of well equipped and functional soil testing laboratories, at least one in each district, are required to have precise soil test-based fertilizer recommendations. Research needs to be guided towards development of nano-fertilizers for enhancing nutrient-use efficiency, which is still low for majority of nutrients.

Inflation in Consolidation Mood

by - Awanish K Mishra, Editor, Pearl News Network

Inflation has crossed the psychological barrier of 12 percent. It has breached 13 year old record defying bandobast by policymakers. But there is silver lining in the cloud. It has started consolidating, it’s loosing its momentum. Interestingly, the debate of inflation has now shifted to another level. People are more worried about inflation peaking out around 12 percent than the rate itself.

Has Inflation Peaked Out At 12%

Finance Ministry is of the opinion that inflation is consolidating around 12 percent. But it is hesitant to say, whether it has peaked out or not. Peaking out means the rate of inflation will not increase further. Our policy makers are non committal for the short term. They hope to see inflation at 8 percent level by March 2009. Saumitra Chaudhary, Member, PM’s Economic Advisory Council has recently said, “Inflation may peak in November-December and slip into single-digit by March 2009. Going by the current price situation, there may be another round of monetary tightening.” Finance Ministry’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Virmani is cautiously optimistic. At a CII conference in Chennai, he said, “The uncertain oil prices make it difficult to make short-term predictions, but in the next 12 months, the inflation rate would return to normal levels of 5-6%.” In my opinion, moderation in oil demand by developed countries, growing strength of dollar and near normal monsoon may bring inflation below 10 percent by November-December 2008.

It’s Cooling Down!

Let us see which components of wholesale price index are fueling inflation. As regards to inflation data dated 26th July, out of a total of 98 articles in primary article group, 18 articles have shown a decline in prices as compared to July 19, 2008. Another 53 articles have shown no increase in prices. Prices of 18 articles (out of a total of 19) in commodity group ‘fuel and power’ have not shown any increase. In the case of ‘manufactured products’, out of a total 318 commodities, a large number, 299 in all, have shown no increase in prices over the last week. In the case of 4 commodities there is a decline in prices. The annual inflation rate for the group of 30 essential commodities at 6.66 per cent was marginally lower than the inflation of 6.67 per cent recorded in previous week. Only 15 products, particularly the cotton and woolen yarn, woolen cloth, groundnut cake, white printing paper, ball bearings, caustic soda, cement, newsprint and sugar witnessed an increase in prices. This indicates that inflation is more or less stable. Global Forces Fueling Inflation Indian inflation has much to do with global developments. It’s due to soaring oil and commodity prices. It has its root in the Gulf and Western countries. In a span of 5-6 months the rate of crude oil almost doubled to 145 dollar per barrel. Budgetary estimates made at 100-110 dollar per barrel went haywire. The Government was compelled to take unpopular measure of hiking petro prices. Consequently wholesale price based inflation jumped from 8 percent to 11 percent alarming consumers as well as market participants. The fact remains that Indian inflation is very much a result of growing demand led by increase in per capita income. It is, therefore, that stiff monetary tightening by RBI is taking time in delivering desired result.

Who’s Responsible?

Who is responsible for inflation? The government, the global developments or the people. All of them are responsible to some extent. The Government because it didn’t foresee the spurt in oil price and didn’t increase the rate of domestic petro prices in consonance with rising oil prices; it didn’t book oil in futures market to buffer any upswing in prices. Global developments like Iraq oil syndrome, Israel –Iran imbroglio, monopoly of OPEC countries on oil supply and poorly regulated oil future market have worsened the situation. The rise in per capita income has equipped people with surplus money to spend which has led to spurt in demand leading to demand-supply mismatch.

Ray Of Hope

Oil prices have declined from the peak of 145 dollar per barrel to below 120 dollar per barrel. Slowdown in global economy, increase in production by OPEC nations and proposed tightening of regulatory mechanism governing oil futures may bring it further down. Normalcy of monsoon may ease pressure on food grain prices. Hike in CRR and Repo Rate will start showing their impact in coming days. These factors will keep a check on inflation and stabilise it further.

Government Should Act

ToughIn the meantime, Government should act tough on hoarders. This will dampen bullish sentiment in commodity futures market and result in fall of prices. It should resort to purchase of oil options keeping in view further escalation in oil prices. The fact that the Government is ready to compromise with GDP growth rate in order to contain inflation and curb inflationary pressures is enough to indicate its seriousness, but this must be combined with prudent foresight and coherent action.

Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB

Vegetation-An effective tool to change climate

Scientific experts agrees that global climate change is accelerating. Human activities are responsible for the vast majority of climate change. If it is left unchecked, climate change threatens to harm current and future generations. The emission of heat trapping gases by vehicles, industrial processes, power plants and deforestations cause climate change. Rising temperature and changing patterns of precipitation drastically shift vegetation. We forget that this vegetation plays an important role in changing the climate of a city. It is also effective in controlling the microclimate. Plants, shrubs and trees cool the environment when they absorb radiation for photosynthesis. They are useful in shading a particular part of the structure and ground for reducing the heat gain and reflected radiation. By releasing moisture, they help raise the humidity level. Vegetation also creates different air flow patterns by causing minor pressure differences, and thus can be used to direct or divert the prevailing wing advantages.
Based on the requirement of a climate, appropriate type of trees can be selected to preserve good climate of cities. Planning deciduous trees such as mulberry to shade east and west walls would prove beneficial in hot and dry zones. In summer, they provide shade from intense morning and evening sun, reduce glare, as well as cut off hot breezes. On the other hand, deciduous trees shed their leaves in winter and allow solar radiation to heat the building. The cooling effect of vegetation in hot and dry climates comes predominantly from evaporation, while in hot humid climates the shading effect is more significant.
Trees can be used as windbreaks to protect both buildings and outer areas such as lawns and patios from both hot and cold winds. The velocity reduction behind the windbreak depends on their height, density, cross-sectional shape, width, and length, the first two being the most important factors. When the wind does not blow perpendicular to the windbreak, the sheltered area is decreased. The rate of infiltration in buildings is proportional to the wind speed reduction in extreme climates, than to attempt to maximize the distance over which the windbreak is effective.
In cold climates, windbreak can reduce the heat loss in buildings by reducing wind flow over the buildings, thereby reducing convection and infiltration losses. A single-row of high density trees in the form of a windbreak can reduce infiltration in a residence by about 60% when planted about four tree heights from the building. This corresponds to about 15% reduction in energy costs.
Thus, trees can be effectively used to control the microclimate.


by - Dr.Pradeep Kumar, Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries

Milk is not only a staple food but is an instrument of economic progress. Dairying is one of the most important livelihood options for the rural poor in India. India’s growth in the dairy sector has been phenomenal and has enabled it to claim the position of the largest producer of milk in the world. India is estimated to produce about 102 million tonnes of milk by 2007-08 and the milk production has been growing at the rate of 4% per annum.

Dairy development in India has been an effective and important instrument of rural development as it generates self-employment opportunity, increases the income of landless, marginal and small farmers while providing the much needed nutrition to people. Compared to other agricultural products the inherent qualities of dairying, such as relative stability in yield and price, regular cash flow throughout the year, utilization of family labour, use of crop residues as cattle feed has helped in laying a stable foundation for rural development. Contributing about 5.3% to India’s agricultural GDP, milk is a leading agricultural produce. The value of output from milk at current prices during 2006-07 has been over Rs.144386 crore which is higher than the output from paddy (Rs.85032 crore) and also higher than the combined value of output from wheat (Rs.66791 crore) and sugarcane (Rs.28488 crore). As many as 120 million rural families are engaged in dairying.

Phenomenal Growth
This phenomenal growth in dairy sector can be attributed to a great extent to the various initiatives of the Government starting with Operation Flood followed by schemes like Integrated Dairy Development Project (IDDP) in non-operation flood, hilly and backward areas. Various initiatives in the last few years have been taken, which are:-
* Reorienting IDDP to cover districts which received nil or less than 50 lakh investment for dairy development activities during Operation Flood. Under this 100% grant is provided for development of milch cattle, increasing milk production by providing technical inputs; creating infrastructure for procurement, processing and marketing of milk; strengthening of dairy cooperative societies at village level.
* Strengthening Infrastructure for Quality and Clean Milk Production (CMP) scheme to improve the quality of raw milk produced at village level by creating awareness among dairy farmers and setting up of bulk milk coolers at the dairy cooperative societies.
* Dairy Venture Capital Fund to bring about structural changes in the unorganized sector by providing interest free loan for various activities related to milk processing, marketing, upgradation of traditional technology etc, with the Government of India contributing 50% of the projects as interest free loan. The scheme covers establishment of small dairy farms, purchase of milking machines, bulk milk coolers, dairy processing equipments, establishment of cold chain facilities and cold storage facilities among other things.
Under IDDP the Government has approved 84 projects covering 206 districts with an outlay of 480 crore since inception, benefiting about 15 lakh farmers in 24814 villages. Around 130 projects with a total cost of Rs.195 crore have been approved under Clean Milk Production scheme, benefiting 4.17 lakh farmers and creating a chilling capacity of 15.56 lakh litres per day and strengthening of 685 existing laboratories. Under Dairy Venture Capital Fund, nearly 700 dairy units have been sanctioned.
Further, the Government has been implementing genetic improvement programme titled “National Project for Cattle and Buffalo Breeding” with a total outlay of Rs.1178 crore during X and XI plans. Under this,100% grant is provided to improve and provide artificial insemination services at farmers doorstep; to cover all breedable females under organized breeding, undertake breed improvement programme for indigenous cattle and buffaloes and for bull production programme. The Government has also launched a centrally sponsored Fodder Development Scheme to address the feed and fodder requirement of the sector during the X Plan. Under this, assistance is provided for fodder block making units, development of grasslands, fodder seed production and distribution and for research projects to improve feed and fodder quality.
The Department is working on a comprehensive Feed and Fodder Scheme for the XI plan period. In addition, the Government is implementing a Livestock Health and Disease Control Programme under which assistance is provided for disease control, rinderpest eradication and control of foot and mouth disease in addition to professional efficiency development. An amount of Rs.1300 crore has been earmarked for this during XI plan. Despite all these efforts the country’s per capita availability of milk is still lower at 246 grams per day as against the world’s average of 285 grams per day. The productivity of milch animal is only about 987 kg per lactation as against the world average of 2,308 kg. This low productivity is due to gradual genetic deterioration resulting in the rise of population of nondescript cows and buffaloes. The other factors contributing to low productivity are shortage of feed and fodder and their poor nutritive value. The other constraint in dairy sector is that only about 15-16% of the milk produced (30% of the marketable surplus) is handled in organized sector and the quality aspects need improvement and investment in value addition as well as development of indigenous products needs to be increased.

National Dairy Plan
A study conducted by Planning Commission, ‘Vision 2020; Food Security and Nutrition’, through Shri R Radhakrishnan and K. Venkata reddy has estimated that demand for milk in 2020 would be about 166 million tonnes. This will require continued production of milk at 4% every year. In real terms this will be a challenge because India added an average of about 2.5 million tonnes of milk annually in the last 15 years.
In order to achieve this production level by 2020 the average incremental annual output of milk has to double from 2.5 million tonnes to 5 million tonnes in the next 15 years. This requires a focused national initiative and a National Dairy Plan is under contemplation to achieve the objective. National Dairy Plan is a strategic plan under consideration of the government to address the needs of dairy sector so as to meet the demand for milk, driven by burgeoning population, rising income due to accelerated GDP growth and increased export opportunities. This plan with an outlay of more than Rs.17000 crores proposes to achieve a target of 180 million tonnes of milk annually by 2022. Under this plan the Government is contemplating to enhance milk production in major milk producing areas, strengthen and expand infrastructure to procure, process and market milk through the existing and new institutional structures. A consortium consisting of NDDB, NABARD and NCDC is envisaged to implement this scheme by categorizing districts into two categories, 324 high potential districts for intensive development and remaining 282 low potential districts for further expansion of the sector.

The plan envisages breed improvement through AI and through natural service. Since feed/fodder constitutes 70% of the cost of milk production, it is proposed to set up plants to augment cattle feed, by- pass protein and mineral mixture. Setting up of fodder seed and fodder desalination and quality control labs are also envisaged. The plan also proposes to bring 65% of the milk produced under organized sector for procurement as against the present 30%. However, it may not be possible for the cooperative sector to accomplish this as it would require them to increase procurement by fourfold to achieve 800 lakh kg per day as it requires doubling their current coverage of villages and trippling the current coverage of dairy households. Hence, the NDP envisages a complimentary cooperative strategy under which producer companies would be set up under Companies Act. The Government is exploring World Bank assistance to bring down the cost on the Government and also to provide loans at a cheaper rate. The Government has also launched a new scheme called Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana(RKVY) with a massive investment of Rs.25000 crore during the XI Plan period to promote agriculture and allied sectors. Under this any activity that promotes dairy development can also be taken up by the State Government for which 100% central assistance is provided. State governments have been advised to accord highest priority to Animal Husbandry and Dairying sectors commensurate with their contribution to the agricultural output. With huge potential available in the dairy sector in the form of domestic demand and scope for exports, various initiatives of the government are expected to make the country self-sufficient and a global power in dairy sector. This would not only increase per capita milk availability, income and employment generation but also would empower millions of the downtrodden and women who play a crucial role in dairying in this country. A target of 5% growth has been set for dairy sector for the XI plan and an outlay of Rs.8174 crore have been provided for Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries, a hike of 300% over X plan.

Indian Railways – New Vistas of Growth

by - K.C.Jena, Chairman, Railway Board

Indian Railway network is the prime infrastructural sector of the country and in view of the fact that it is five to six times more energy efficient, four times more efficient in land use and significantly superior from the standpoints of environment impact and safety, compared to other transportation options, it needs to expand and develop in order to keep pace with the growth of Indian economy.
A massive investment is urgently required for the development of the railway system. The budgetary support to the railways has been increasing, but the quantum leap that the Indian Railways is seeking to undertake, requires much more in terms of resources. The high growth path that the country has embarked upon under the 11th Five Year Plan, envisages that Indian Railway would need to spend around Rs. 2,51,000 crore (US$ 62 billion) on various capacity enhancement measures over the next 5 years. A major part of the investment would come from internally generated resources and Budgetary support to the extent feasible.
However, to meet the massive investment needed, these would need to be leveraged to mobilize an adequate level of extra budgetary resources. Around Rs. 1,00,000 crore is expected to accrue from extra budgetary resources including Public Private Partnership (PPP). PPP would, thus, play a crucial role in the attainment of the strategic goals outlined above. In the past Indian Railways had made several attempts to rope in private participation in areas such as catering, wagon ownership and leasing and joint ventures for rail infrastructure projects. These efforts were, however, limited in scale and scope.
The current strategy is to leverage private capital through PPPs to the maximum extent in areas which are amenable to PPPs to improve efficiencies and control costs. To begin with the following projects have been identified to be implemented fully or partly on PPP route:

Construction of Dedicated Freight Corridor
It has been planned to construct a new Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), initially covering about 2700 route kms equivalent to around 5000 track kilometers with an approximate cost of Rs. 28000 crore (US$6 billion) linking the ports of western India and the ports and mines of Eastern India to Delhi and Punjab respectively.
The construction of this corridor will be implemented through an SPV which has been created for the purpose through a mix of Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) and PPP methods. Ministry of Railways is in the process of selecting a global consultant to advise on the concession agreement, principles of track access charges and other financing and bidding issues. It is envisaged that innovative ideas on design, construction and maintenance of railway to achieve optimal life – cycle costs would be forthcoming through PPP especially as the work progresses on the initial two corridors and further corridors are taken up. The concessionaire could also tap additional ancillary revenue streams through commercial exploitation of land, construction of freight terminal/logistic part/ICDs etc. World Class Railway StationsRailway stations at metropolitan cities and important tourist centers need to be modernized to provide world class passenger amenities and services to the multitude of passengers using these stations. Indian Railway is planning to do so by attracting private investments in the area by leveraging the land around and airspace above the stations. The concessionaire would be expected to construct and maintain the operational and passenger areas free of cost, share the revenue earned from the real-estate created and hand over the same after the expiry of the concessional period. Altogether 24 stations have been identified in the first stage. These are CST Mumbai (Carnac Bunder), Pune, Howrah (Kolkata), Lucknow, New Delhi, Anand Vihar and Bijwasan at Delhi, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Varanasi, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Secunderabad, Ahmedabad, Patna, Bhubaneshwar, Mathura, Agra, Gaya, Jaipur, Nagpur, Tirupati, Bangalore and Bhopal. Pre-qualification process for bidders for the pilot project for New Delhi Station has been initiated. Redevelopment of Patna, Secunderabad and Mumbai will also be taken up during the current year. Development of other stations and green field passenger terminals would be taken up subsequently.

Commercial Utilization of Vacant Land
Indian Railways has approximately 43,000 hectares of vacant land. These are mostly situated alongside tracks in longitudinal strips, around railway stations, and in railway colonies especially in metro and other important cities/towns with the potential of being used commercially to generate revenue as well as capital for modernization and capacity addition. A new body, namely, Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) has been set up under the Railway (Amendment) Act 2005 to pursue, inter alia, the main objectives of generating revenue and up grading railway assets. 110 sites have already been entrusted to RLDA.

Manufacturing of locomotives/coaches/wagons Units
With sustained economic growth and the resultant demand for rail transport, the requirement of rolling stock has increased manifold. The requirement of coaches/Electrical Multiple Units is projected at 22689 vehicle units for the XIth Five Year Plan. The gap between the requirement and the combined capacity of the two Production Units at Integral Coach Factory, Perambur and Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala (around 2500 per annum) is planned to be bridged by augmenting the existing capacity of these Production Units and setting up a new manufacturing unit through a Joint Venture under PPP. Similarly, the requirement of Electric and Diesel Locomotives has been projected at 1800 each during the 11th Five Year Plan i.e. 360 locos per year. The existing in –house capacity for the manufacture of these locomotives is presently 150 per annum and can be augmented to 200 locos each per annum for Electric and Diesel locos. The gap between the requirement and capacity in this case too, is planned to be bridged by setting up two locomotive manufacturing units, one each for diesel and electric locomotives, through PPP. The possibility of PPP through long-term demand guarantee to prospective manufactures of modern wagons is also being explored. The new wagon investment scheme is another means of attracting private investment in building railway infrastructure under the PPP initiative.

High Speed Corridors
Pre-feasibility studies are being awarded for a few identified corridors to examine the linking of a few of our bustling metropolises with high speed rail links to facilitate train travel over a distance of 600-1000 km within 2.5 to 4 hours. All options including PPP will be explored towards this end.

Operation of Container Trains and Construction of Multi-modal Logistics Parks
Private operators have been allowed to manage rail-borne Container Services on Indian Railways. Concession agreement setting out the terms of such operation has been signed with 15 private operators. The scheme is also open for other operators to join. So far private operators have inducted 45 rakes and built 3 ICDs at Garihassru, Patli and Loni. Policy framework to facilitate setting up of Multi-modal Logistics Parks (MLPs) in SEZs or private land with rail connectivity has been formulated. The policy also envisages utilization of surplus railway land available at suitable locations for development of MLPs and/or bulk or dedicated freight terminals.

Port Connectivity
RVNL has been mandated to undertake capacity augmentation works and port connectivity projects by establishing Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs). Some of the projects taken up or under consideration of RVNL include Palanpur –Gandhidham gauge conversion project (linking Kandla and Mundhra Ports to North India), Haridaspur – Paradeep New Line (linking iron ore mines of Orissa and Jharkhand to Paradeep port), Anugul-Sukinda (linking iron-ore and coal-belts of Orissa), Obulavaripalli-Krishnapatnam Port of Andhra Pradesh, Bharuch-Dahej and Surat-Hazira projects in the State of Gujarat and Penn-Rewas Port link (Maharashtsa).

Budget Hotels and Food Plazas
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been mandated to develop catering services, budget hotels and food plazas at major stations through involvement of private entrepreneurs. IRCTC is commissioning new Food Plazas in Railway premises with private participation. The license period for food plazas is of nine years with a provision of extension for another three years. Already 53 such Food Plazas have been commissioned. Indian Railways is also in the process of carrying out an examination of the scope of need-based ‘base kitchens’ and ‘launderettes’ with public private partnership to strengthen the infrastructure for on-board services.
Call Centers are also being planned under PPP by IRCTC to cater to the need for information dissemination to the railway customers. Indian Railways is also planning to launch new services for the luxury tourism segment on the pattern of ‘Palace on Wheel’ in partnership with other interested State Governments. The above mentioned list of initiatives is not exhaustive. This is but a glimpse into the array of such activities planned by the Railways that seek to place the efforts of the Indian Railways on a more sound footing in its quest for a world class infrastructure.
Such efforts carry the potential of paving the way for the giant leap that this organization has been gearing up for over the past few years. The PPP route has well and truly opened up new vistas of growth opportunities for the Indian Railways.

Rapid transformation in Technical Education in India

by - Ashok Thakur, Additional Secretary, Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development

India has the potential to be a global technology leader. Its economy has been growing at the rate of 9% per year. The industry has also become globally competitive in several sectors and can increase its global market share. A critical factor in this will be the success of the technical education system in the nation.
The investment made in higher education in the 1950s and 1960s has given us a strong knowledge base in many fields and contributed significantly to economic development, social progress and political democracy in independent India. At the time of Independence, the number of universities was no more than 20, of colleges around 500 and the total enrolment was less than 1.0 lakh. By the end of the X Plan, the Indian higher education system has grown into one of the largest in the world with 5818 technical institutions with an intake capacity of 11,18,810 students.

Prevalence of Low General Enrolment Ratio
Despite the expansion that has occurred, it is evident that the system is under stress to provide a sufficient volume of skilled human power, equipped with the required knowledge and technical skills to cater to the demands of the economy. The accelerated growth of our economy has already created shortages of high quality technical manpower. The demographic advantages of a young population can only be realised if we can expand opportunities for our youth on a massive scale and in diverse fields of basic science, engineering and technology, healthcare, architecture, management etc.
Expansion, inclusion and rapid improvement in quality throughout the higher and technical education system by enhancing public spending, encouraging private initiatives and initiating the long overdue major institutional and policy reforms will form the core of the Eleventh plan effort.
Our GER of around 11% is very low compared to the world average of 23.2%, 36.5% for countries in transition, 54.6% for Asian countries. We should aim to increase the GER to 21% by the end of the Twelfth Plan with an interim target of 15% by 2011-12.

Expansion of Technical Education with Quality
As on August 31, 2007, the annual intake of technical education institutions at Degree and Diploma levels, as approved by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), was 9.08 lakh and 3.95 lakh respectively. To further increase this intake several new initiatives have been undertaken in the sector of technical education in the XI Five year Plan. The following expansion is proposed without letting the brand value of these institutions get diluted :

Eight New Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)
 The main objective of Indian Institutes of Tech is to impart world class education in engineering and technology. The Government has decided to set up 8 new IITs in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat during the XI Plan Period. It is also proposed to convert the Institute of Technology, BHU into an IIT. An allocation of Rs. 2000 crore has been provided in the XI Plan and Rs. 50 crore has been allocated for 2008-09.
 B.Tech Courses in three branches with a limited batch of about 120 first year students, have started from the academic session of 2008-09 in the 6 new IITs being set up in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Orissa, Punjab and Gujarat and these will be mentored by the existing IITs of Madras, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Delhi and Mumbai respectively.
 The State Governments have been requested to identify the suitable sites for setting up of the new IITs which is likely to be finalized soon.

Seven New Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs)
 The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are institutions of excellence, established with the objectives of imparting high quality management education and training conducting research and providing consultancy services in the field of management to various sectors of the Indian economy. Seven new IIMs are proposed, out of which, the IIM at Shillong has commenced its academic session from 2008-09 with an initial intake of 64 students based on CAT 2007 score.
 The remaining six IIMs will be located in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and Haryana. Several State Government have identified land for the campuses and the same will be finalized soon after the Site Selection Committee visits the them shortly
 Educational Consultants India Limited (Ed.CIL) has been requested to prepare a Model DPR for all the new IIMs.
 An allocation of Rs. 600 crore has been provided in the XI Plan and Rs. 10 crore has been allocated for the year 2008-09.

Five Indian Institute of Science, Education & Research (IISERs)
 The Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (SAC-PM), under the Chairmanship of Prof. C.N.R.Rao, recommended creation of five new institutions devoted to science education and research to be named “Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research” broadly on the lines of IISc., Bangalore. 3 IISERs at Mohali, Pune and Kolkata have already been functioning and two more at Bhopal and Thiruvanthapuram will start their classes this year in the month of August.
 An allocation of Rs. 2000 crores has been provided in the XI Plan and Rs. 150 crores has been allocated for 2008-09 for 5 IISERs.

Twenty Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs)
 In order to develop manpower for different areas of the knowledge economy, education and training of information technology is a core prerequisite. The Central Government has established four IIITs at Allahabad, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Kanchipuram. 20 more IIITs are proposed under the PPP mode. NASSCOM has very recently submitted its model Project Report, which is being sent to the State Governments and to the concerned Ministries in the Government of India for inter-ministerial consultations.
 The setting up of IIITs in PPP mode has been discussed with the State Education Ministers in the national conference held on 23rd and 24th July 2008 under the Chairmanship of HRM. Most of the States were agreed to tap not for profit private investment, ensuring that PPP should not lead to any erosion of access to poor sections of society.
 The IIIT at Kanchipuram has started functioning from its temporary campus at IIT Madras since the last academic session in 2007.
 An allocation of Rs. 400 crore has been provided in the XI Plan and Rs. 30 crores has been allocated for 2008-09.

Two Schools of Planning & Architecture (SPAs)
 SPA provides undergraduate and post-graduate education and training in the fields of architecture, planning, design and management of different aspects of human habitat and environment. Two schools of Planning & Architecture are to be set up at Bhopal and Vijayawada.
 The State Governments had offered about 100 acres of land each in Bhopal and Vijayawada, free of cost. However, it is proposed to start the academic session in both the new SPAs through temporary campuses by taking suitable accommodation on rent from this academic session of 2008. While the NIT Bhopal will mentor the new SPA at Bhopal, SPA at Vijayawada will be mentored by SPA, Delhi.
* An allocation of Rs. 250 crore has been provided in the XI Plan and Rs. 15 crores has been allocated for 2008-09.

Setting up of new Polytechnics
In pursuance of Hon’ble Prime Minister’s speech on Independence Day in 2007, to launch a mission on vocational education and skill development, the Department of Higher Education had prepared a scheme on Sub-Mission of Polytechnics under National Skill Development Mission. Under Sub-Mission of Polytechnics, it is proposed to take up the following four components:-
 Setting up of 1000 polytechnics (300 in Government Sectors, 300 through PPP mode and 400 private polytechnics;
 Strengthening of existing 500 polytechnics;
 Construction of women’s hostel in 500 polytechnics;
 Revamping of the Community Polytechnics scheme and increasing their number from 669 to 1000.
The Expenditure Finance Committee in its meeting held on 28th May, 2008 has approved the above proposal. An allocation of Rs. 6310 crore has been provided in the XI Plan and Rs. 141.5 crore has been allocated for 2008-09.

Scholarship for College and University students
 It is proposed to give scholarships, based on merit, at the rate of Rs. 1000 per month for the first 3 years and after that Rs. 2000 per month for the balance period of the professional or other courses in Higher Education to non-creamy layer students to the extent of about 2% of the student population who pass out from various intermediate boards. It is proposed to cover every year about 41,000 boys and 41,000 girls under the above scheme.
 An amount of Rs. 1000 crores has been provided for in the XI Plan allocations for this scheme and Rs. 50 crore is allocated for 2008-09.

Review of functioning of UGC and AICTE
A Committee has been set up on 30/4/08 under the Chairmanship of Prof. Yash Pal, former UGC Chairman, to review the role and functioning of UGC and AICTE. The Committee has started functioning and has held several meetings.

Summer Training of Teachers
With a view to improve the quality and standard of teaching by the faculty, in this summer i.e. in June and July 2008, 10,000 faculty members of the Engineering Institutions and 5,000 faculty members of the University system teaching basic/social sciences, are being given summer training/refresher courses to improve their domain knowledge as well as pedagogy. The refresher/summer training courses on the technical subjects are being given in the IITs, NITs, NITTTRs etc

Education Loan Interest Subsidy Scheme
 A proposal to introduce a Central Sector scheme for providing interest subsidy during the moratorium period on the educational loans taken by students belonging to “non-creamy” layer for pursuing professional education in India under the revised Model Educational Loan Scheme formulated by the Indian Banks’ Association has been under consideration of the Government.
 A provision of Rs. 4000 crore has been provided in the XI Plan for this proposed scheme and Rs. 2 crore has been allocated for 2008-09.

National Education Mission through ICT
 Under this Mission, it is proposed to network each of the Departments of about 400 university level institutions & 20000 colleges through broadband connectivity and make available suitable e-learning material. State Governments have to share 25% of the cost of providing broadband connectivity to the institutions under their control. Private institutions will have to share 25% of the cost of providing the broadband connectivity.
 States have also been consulted on this issue during the conference of the States Education Ministers’ by the Human Resource Development Minister (HRM) held on 23rd and 24th July 2008 and have agreed for above proposal.

National Institutes of Technology (NITs)
 The main aim of setting up NITs is to create the required technical manpower by providing undergraduate education and training in different branches of engineering & technology. At present there are 20 National Institutes of Technology (NITs) which are fully funded by the Central Government. NIT Act 2007, which came into effect from 15.8.2007, has declared these NITs as Institutes of National Importance.
 In the XIth Plan period, it is proposed to establish 10 new NITs. Probable location of these NITs will be in States/UTs, which at present don’t have an NIT. MHRD will consider establishing NITs in Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Uttrakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
 The NIT at Goa may also cater to the needs of Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep.
 Pudducherry or Andaman & Nicobar may have one common NIT, which will cater the needs of each others.
 For establishing new NITs, States/UTs are required to provide 300 acres of land, at a place having road, rail and air connectivity.

Status of Implementation of the recommendations of Oversight Committee (OSC) for ensuring OBC reservation in technical institutions

Allocation of Rs. 2522 crore has been provided in 2008-09 for implementation of the recommendations of OSC. All the Central Educational Institutions are implementing OBC reservations as per the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 from this year onward on a staggered basis and the necessary funds have been released to many of them after holding the meetings of the Empowered Committees, while the balance will get funds in the next few days. As per the CCPA approval, it is also proposed to amend the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 so as to extend the three years staggering period up to the year 2010.With the implementation of the OSC recommendation, an additional student capacity of 6,204 has been created in this academic session.

Controlling Inflation Without Hurting Growth

by - Ashok Handoo, Freelance Journalist

Has the inflation peaked in India? Well, if the international credit rating agency Moody is to be believed it “may have”. But there is no occasion to be euphoric as, it says, the internal situation will continue to be difficult for some time. That explains why both the Central government and the Reserve Bank of India continue to be firm in dealing with both the supply side and the liquidity side.
When the RBI recently raised the Repo Rate (the rate at which it lends money to the banks) by 50 basis points and the Cash Reserve Ratio, CRR, (the percentage of money that the banks are mandatorily required to keep with the Reserve Bank) by 25 basis points- taking it to as much as 9 percent -many of us did not like it because it in turn led to further increase in the already high interest rates. But if the bull of rising inflation, which has crossed the psychological barrier of 12 percent, has to be taken by its horns, drastic steps can not be avoided. The prescription is to reduce liquidity through monetary measures on the one hand and increase the supply of goods on the other, through fiscal and other measures.
Money supply in the country has been increasing at the rate of 20 percent a year, consistently for the last 3 years. This in turn leads to increase in demand for goods and commodities which forces the prices to go up. Thus, the need for curbing money supply for the time being.
But the real thrust has to be on the supply side because unless we increase the supply of goods, the always existing demand will keep on pushing the prices upwards. Besides, restricting the flow of funds beyond a point is bound to affect the growth rate as well. Already, economists have started admitting that the hard steps being taken by the government to tackle inflation will reduce the growth rate this year to some extent. But this may still hover around 7.5 to 8 percent against the backdrop of 9.1 percent growth the country witnessed last year.
It is in this background that the Prime Minister during the recent debate in Parliament emphasized that the government’s two top priorities are tackling inflation without hurting growth and revitalizing the farm sector to increase the agricultural output.
One of the latest economists to join those predicting an early control on inflation is the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia. He believes that the inflation rate will come down to single digit in a few months The RBI puts it at 7 percent by the end of this fiscal. Shri C Rangarajan, who has just resigned as Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, believes it may be in the range of 8 to 9 percent by the year end.
Perhaps what makes them optimistic is the hope of a good monsoon this year that can boost agricultural production. Despite it being erratic in July and below average in critical states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, which could affect the production of ground nuts and cotton prices, it is expected to pick up in the current month. The falling crude oil prices, which have already come down to $118 per barrel from $143 a barrel only a few weeks ago is another indication of better days ahead. The international crude prices are expected to fall further due to moderation of demand in the developed countries, increase in the value of dollar and pressures from the developing countries that speculators should not be allowed to raise oil prices artificially. If the Monsoon really behaves and oil prices continue to fall to a reasonable level the country can make a turn around on the inflation front.
As a short term measure, the government has already banned the export of sensitive commodities like cement and non-basmati rice and reduced substantially import duties on a number of other commodities like steel, cement, pulses and other goods to increase their domestic supply. The cost of inputs has also been reduced to help the farmers grow more. There is however a limit to which the government can go in reducing duties. Beyond that point, reduction of duties can be counter-productive since loss of revenue can lead to fiscal deficit and consequently inflation. The government has also persuaded steel manufacturers to keep the prices of steel in check as it is a key component in the list of commodities that determine the wholesale price index.
The Government did well in deferring the decision on decontrolling sugar. It is widely believed that despite a good stocks position of 110 lakh tonnes and an expected good sugarcane crop this year, decontrolling it would lead to increase in its price. In the previous two years also successive glut in sugarcane crop could not prevent increase in sugar prices as the demand always outstrips its supply.
The government also plans to boost the flow of essential commodities by strengthening the state-run agencies and consumer federations. It will involve providing non- plan assistance to these agencies subject to certain eligibility conditions.
Thus while inflation continues to be a major concern there are indications to have almost peaked and would begin to subside in a few months. How soon can that happen will depend on how merciful is the rain God, how international crude oil prices behave and how good is the agriculture production in the country.
Disclaimer : The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB

Augmenting Oil & Gas Production

*PIB Features. Inputs from the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas

India’s energy needs are growing with rising income levels, burgeoning population and a rapidly growing economy. Indigenous energy resources may not be sufficient in the long run to sustain a GDP growth rate of 9%. The country’s energy supply system continues to be dependent on fossil fuels, which are finite. Oil and gas share in the energy consumption basket has reached a level of about 41%. Average per capita energy consumption in India is about 358 kilogram of oil equivalent (kgoe) as against 1681 kgoe world wide indicating high energy requirement in future in order to maintain the pace of economic development in the country.

The total primary energy mix for India comprises Coal 51%, Crude oil 32%, Natural Gas 9%, Hydro 7% and Nuclear energy 1%. Whereas the crude oil consumption of India is about same as global average share of natural gas in primary energy mix i.e. 9% in the country is significantly lower than the world average of 24%, indicating huge potential of growth in the natural gas sector. Import dependence accounts for about 30% of our Total Primary Commercial Energy Supply (TPCES). However, oil imports constitute more than 70% of our total oil consumption.

Oil & Gas Demand Supply Scenario
Consumption of petroleum products in the financial year 2007-08 was about 129 million metric tonnes (MMT), which puts India as fifth largest consumer after USA, China, Japan and Russia. Domestic crude oil production in the country is about 34 MMT per annum. Although total imports of crude oil and petroleum products in 2007-08 were of the order of 144 MMT including 121 MMT of crude oil amounting to nearly US$ 83.2 billion (Rs.3,34,203 crore), India has also exported petroleum products amounting to 39 MMT, earning foreign exchange worth nearly US$ 26.7 billion (Rs.1,07,603 crore). After exports, our net imports amount to nearly 105 MMT of crude and petroleum products worth nearly US$ 56.473 billion (Rs.2,26,600 crore).
In 2007-08, natural gas supply was of the order of 114 Million Metric Standard Cubic Metres per day (MMSCMD), out of which 88 MMSCMD was through domestic production and remaining supply of 26 MMSCMD was through import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). However, gas supply position in the country is likely to improve on production of additional 40 MMSCMD of natural gas in 2008 and rising to 80 MMSCMD in 2011.

Enhancing Oil & Gas Production
In order to increase oil & gas security for the country, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas along with PSUs have adopted a multi-pronged strategy, which inter-alia, includes: increasing exploration efforts through the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). Under the Six rounds of NELP, 162 blocks have been awarded and 62 discoveries have already been made.

In seventh round of NELP, 45 exploration blocks are likely to be awarded; improving the recovery factor from existing major fields by implementing Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)/Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) schemes. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) has taken up 15 fields for this purpose at an estimated investment of Rs. 13,651 crore, which would also help in accelerating oil production from these fields; acquiring acreages abroad and tapping alternate sources of energy such as Coal Bed Methane.

New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP)
The Government approved a policy called New Exploration Licensing Policy in 1999 with the objective to attract significant risk capital from Indian and Foreign companies, state of the art technologies, new geological concepts and best management practices to explore oil and gas resources in the country. 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is allowed in E&P sector under NELP regime. Companies either Indian or Foreign may bid for one or more blocks, alone or in association with other companies, through an unincorporated or incorporated venture.

Licenses for exploration are being awarded only through a competitive bidding system and National Oil Companies (NOCs) are required to compete on an equal footing with Indian and foreign companies to secure Petroleum Exploration Licences (PELs). Six rounds of bids have so far been concluded under NELP, in which Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) for 162 exploration blocks have been signed.

Under NELP, 62 oil and gas discoveries in 17 blocks have already been made in Cambay onland, North East Coast and Krishna-Godavari deepwater areas, for which, development plans by the operators, viz., Cairn, RIL and Niko are in progress. The NELP investment commitments are of the order of US$ 8 billions on exploration alone, out of which, about US$ 4 billons has already been made. This investment in E&P sector will increase manifolds once development of discoveries progresses. With Exploration and development efforts made under NELP, Natural Gas production in the country is likely to be doubled from the present level of gas production of about 90 million standard cubic metres per day by end of 11th Five Year Plan. Commercial production of oil and gas from two blocks from Gujarat has already commenced.

Improved Oil Recovery/Enhanced Oil Recovery Projects
Work programmes have been undertaken primarily by ONGC for IOR/EOR in its 15 largest fields, which account for 80% of ONGC’s reserves and production. The challenge for ONGC is to arrest the decline of crude oil production at the rate of 7-8% per annum. To do so, ONGC has made an investment of about Rs. 13,434 crore on Improved Oil Recovery and Enhanced Oil Recovery projects. Through these efforts, incremental crude oil gain for ONGC was of the order of 40.1 MMT till 2007-08. The incremental production over the base case is expected to increase significantly from about 5 MMT in 2002-2003 to 11 MMT in 2007-2008.

The total work incorporating innovative technological solutions include installations/upgradation of production facilities, laying of pipelines, drilling of about 650 new development wells, side tracking of existing wells, zone transfers, optimization of artificial lift systems etc. In addition, private sector /JV companies and Oil India Limited (OIL) are also implementing Improved Oil Recovery /Enhanced Oil Recovery schemes in a few select reservoirs of the producing fields.

Oil And Gas From Abroad
In view of unfavourable demand – supply balance of hydrocarbons in the country, acquiring equity oil and gas assets overseas is one of the important components of enhancing energy security. The Government is encouraging national oil companies to aggressively pursue equity oil and gas opportunities overseas. Oil & gas production from overseas can be swapped, sold or brought to Indian refineries on commercial considerations. ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) today has presence in 18 countries, viz. Russia, Sudan, Vietnam, Iran, Libya, Syria, Myanmar, Iraq, Egypt, Qatar, Cuba, Nigeria, Sao-Tome-Principe Joint Development Zone, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Turkmenistan and Republic of Congo. OVL has a target to acquire 20 MMTPA of O+OEG production by 2020 but efforts are on to achieve it even earlier. OVL produced about 8.76 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) of oil and equivalent gas during the year 2007-08 from its assets abroad in Sudan, Vietnam, Russia, Syria and Colombia. In 2007-08, OVL acquired 11 blocks and OIL-IOC acquired one block. So far, Oil PSUs altogether have presence in 22 countries.

Alternate Sources of Oil and Gas
The national endeavor to bridge the ever-increasing gap between demand and supply of petroleum products in India by intensifying exploratory efforts for oil and gas in the Indian sedimentary basins and abroad need to be supported by other alternate sources of energy like Coal Bed Methane, Gas Hydrates, Under ground Coal Gasification.

Coal Bed Methane
Coal Bed Methane (CBM) is a natural gas (Methane) adsorbed in coal and lignite seams and is an eco-friendly source of energy. Coal is both the source and reservoir rock for CBM. CBM production is done by simple depressurization and dewatering process. To harness this new source of energy in the country, the Government approved a comprehensive CBM policy in July, 1997 for exploration and production of CBM gas. As of now, 23 CBM Blocks were awarded through competitive international bidding in first three rounds of CBM policy, under which blocks are being operated by technically competent companies. 2 blocks were awarded on nomination basis and one block through FIPB route. Thus a total of 26 CBM exploration blocks are under operation. So far, 6 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) reserves have already been established in 4 CBM blocks. First commercial production of CBM has commenced from July 2007.

Underground Coal Gassification
ONGC entered into an Agreement of Collaboration (AOC-MOU) with National Mining Research Centre-Skochinsky Institute of Mining (NMRC-SIM), Russia. In the selected Vastan mine block, ONGC carried out seismic survey was carried out and 18 boreholes were drilled for detailed UCG site characterization. Based on geological hydrological and geo-mechanical data analysis, Vastan in Gujarat and Hodu Sindri in Rajasthan have been found suitable for UCG station. Pilot production of Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) at Vastan by ONGC would commence in 2009-10.

Gas Hydrates
Gas hydrates, generally found in deep sea, are basically methane molecules trapped in ice. At present, there is no commercial production of gas hydrates in any part of the world and the technology is only at research and development stage. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has a roadmap regarding exploration of gas hydrates, which is under implementation. Prioritization of areas of operations have since been made and a road map for National Gas Hydrate Programme (NGHP) has been prepared. The Directorate of Hydrocarbons is the nodal agency. In accordance with the R&D efforts, the drill ship “JOIDES Resolution” has collected good quality gas hydrates samples in the sedimentary basins in India. Results from the second site in KG basin are particularly remarkable. These have shown the presence of a 128 m thick gas hydrate layer indicating massive to dispersed gas hydrates. The gas hydrate samples were physically collected for the first time in India, which is the third country in the world after USA and Japan to do so in its deep waters. The resource estimation of gas hydrates is in progress.
Achievements In E&P Sector
The achievements made in exploration and production during the last four years are --
 121 oil and gas discoveries have been made from 2004-05 to 2007-08 in various States, Shallow water and Deepwater areas in Eastern & Western offshore. In the financial year, 2007-08, 48 oil and gas discoveries have been made.
 The position of balance recoverable reserves was of the order of 1573 MMTOE in 2003-04, which has increased to a level of 1843 MMTOE, maintaining positive reserve replacement ratio in last 4 years.
 Overseas oil and gas production in 2003-04 was of the order of 3.86 MMTOE which has doubled in the last 4 years and reached a level of 8.76 MMTOE in 2007-08.
 ONGC Videsh Limited and other PSUs have a presence in 22 countries world wide as against 7 countries in 2003-04.
 First CBM gas production in India started from July 2007 from a CBM block in West Bengal.
 During X plan period, crude oil production was about 33 MMT per annum. Projection of average crude oil production during XI plan period (2007-12) has been targeted at 41.35 MMT per annum, which is 24% higher than X plan actual.
 First natural gas production of 40 MMSCMD from deepwater areas is likely to commence in 3rd quarter of 2008.
 Under NELP, Government has awarded 72 exploration blocks in the last 4 years which has increased area under exploration by 30%. In the seventh round, 57 exploration blocks were offered, out of which, 45 exploration blocks are likely to be awarded.

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