CII asks PM to fast-track economic reforms

CII's new president Adi Godrej said it will work closely with central government, state government and opposition to form a consensus on reforms, including allowing FDI in multi-brand retail

New Delhi: The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to fast track economic reforms, which in turn would boost investments and accelerate growth, reports PTI.

Speaking at a press conference, Adi Godrej, the new president of CII, said, ""We met the Prime Minister yesterday and discussed with him about taking the reforms process forward. This will help in improving perception about India''s image, attract more investments and revive the growth".

He, however, did not mention about the Prime Minister''s response in this regard. The chamber's main agenda is to restore growth, which could be done through reforms and better governance practices, he said.

"Both these areas will be concentrated upon. We will work closely with central government, state government and opposition to form a consensus on reforms, including allowing FDI in multi-brand retail," Mr Godrej said.

In November last year, the Cabinet had approved allowing 51% FDI in multi-brand retail. But the government had to put its decision on hold following protests from political parties mainly Trinamool Congress and DMK.

On the economic growth, Mr Godrej said with GDP growth at 6.9% in 2011-12 vis-a-vis 8.4% in the previous two years, the Indian economy is currently in the midst of a slowdown.

"Given the current status of the economy, we have ahead of us the Herculean task of reviving economic growth to the pre-crisis (economic slowdown of 2008) level of over 9%. This needs structural reforms both at the central as well as the state level," he said.

The government expects the growth rate to rise to 7.6% during 2012-13 from the 6.9% in the previous fiscal.

Mr Godrej said to revive investment sentiment, the RBI needs to cut the interest rates by 100 basis points by December, 2012.

After a gap of three years, the Reserve Bank slashed the short-term lending rate (repo) by 0.50% to 8%.

RBI had raised lending rates 13 times between March, 2010 and October, 2011 to contain inflation that had been hovering near double-digit. This had led to clamour by industry to cut rates and spur industrial and economic growth that has slowed down considerably during the past few quarters.


Newsviewer Exclusive
Ajay Devgan invests in Gujarat-based solar power plant

The Bollywood actor is keen to introduce the concept in filmmaking, where solar powered generators can be used for electricity on sets, thus saving power

Mumbai: Showing his support for environment-friendly causes, Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn has invested in a state-of-the-art solar park in Gujarat, reports PTI.
The solar park located in Charanaka, Patan District in Gujarat is a joint venture between a corporate company, Ajay and producer Kumar Mangat of 'Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji', fame.

The project started operating in December last year. The plant is unique in its way and has been built using the most advanced technologies.  
"The thought behind our entry is that we believe that solar power is the future of industry. We are aiming to reach 500 mw within three-five years with a total investment of Rs5,000 crore," Mr Devgan said.
Reportedly, the 43-year-old actor is keen to introduce the concept in filmmaking, where solar powered generators can be used for electricity on sets, thus saving power.
Presently, he is shooting for 'Son of Sardar' and his next release is Priyadarshan's action-thriller film, 'Tezz'.


Public Interest Exclusive
Does Mumbai have a disaster mitigation plan?

Are we creating infrastructure with huge investments which have not been designed for meeting challenges from disasters? In fact, these infrastructure themselves pose problems during normal times and more so during disasters

26 July 2005: It was another normal cloudy July day. Stray showers here and there wouldn’t prevent Mumbai people from getting on with their normal commute to work activity in the morning. As day progressed, the suburbs began to receive a heavy downpour. A rain rate of 130 millimetre (mm) per hour is not unusual for Mumbai, but usually such intensities occur for a stretch of say 10 minutes and then averages to 250 to 300 mm in 24 hours about twice a year, with sporadic heavy downpours in between. But what happened on 26 July 2005 was incessant rain of that intensity for six hours at a stretch and then slowing down to 885 mm in 10 hours and 944 mm in 24 hours. This was highlighted by the author in his 24 August 2005 article.

To be able to tackle situation arising out of such calamities or to mitigate the hardship to people, loss of life and property, the government of Maharashtra set up expert’s committee headed by Madhavrao Chitale, a civil engineer who has dealt with the subject of hydraulics at the Maharashtra and central government bodies, at the helm. It gave a comprehensive action plan. To what extent this has been implemented is anyone’s guess. We have been fortunate that the rains in Mumbai have hardly been heavy although we have had August and September as wet months, besides July and June. The ugly face of global warming and climate change can show up as unpredictably as it did on 26 July 2005 and earthquakes do time to time at different locations.

Mumbai has three fault lines in its geological structure in the Basaltic Deccan Trap.  So far in the recorded seismic history of Mumbai, the city has managed with modest levels of earth movements with epicentres nowhere close except the couple of quakes taking place of low intensity with epicentres near the Thane-Kalyan region. Point to note is that until 1967, Koyna was nowhere near high intensity zone, nor was Killari, Latur as the 1993 earthquake disaster showed us. There have been incidents of building collapses in Mumbai from time to time, but it has nothing to do with earthquakes.

Nevertheless, these are disasters of some sorts just as we have fires occurring in buildings with poor inspections and rectification of electrical faults. Have our infrastructure been designed to meet such challenges? Have the Development Control Regulations been strictly followed to facilitate rescue operations in a post-disaster scenario and avoid occurrence of such incidents in future to a large extent?

Take the instance of what happened on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 midnight. The signal cabins between Kurla and Vidyavihar got gutted, taking about four hours to douse the fire. The entire signal system between Sion and Ghatkopar that these cabins controlled became dysfunctional. The Railways estimated that it would take three days to make it operational again. Kurla is the nerve centre on the Central Railway network. It controls operations on main line as well as harbour line and connects south Mumbai with eastern suburbs, as well as the Navi Mumbai right up to Panvel. With signals becoming dysfunctional, all trains passing through Kurla have to traverse with utmost care, taking half to three quarters of an hour for a trip which normally takes less than 10 minutes.

Imagine what situation Mumbai would be in if similar or worse damage would have occurred at several signal cabins for whatever reasons. Didn’t we have serial bombs exploding in 1993 in Mumbai and also on suburban railway network in 2006?

Do we have surplus mobility capacities to meet challenges posed by disasters? Have we learnt anything from the International Conference organized by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in 2009 on Disaster Risk Mitigation and Management? Are we creating infrastructure with such huge investments which have not been designed for meeting challenges from disasters? In fact, if one goes into details, it will become apparent that these infrastructure themselves pose problems during normal times and more so during disasters.

The traffic came to a standstill on 26 July 2005 with in some sections on the eastern suburbs and roads to Navi Mumbai witnessing traffic jams. What would have been the scenario in 2005 deluge disaster and also the 17 April 2012 signal cabin disaster had BRTS been in operation? At the time of writing this, it is not known whether the Traffic Police and the BEST (Brihanmumbai Electricity and Transport Undertaking) had considered the suggestion made to introduce Dedicated Bus Lanes (DBL) for the next three days, until the railways fully restore the disrupted services. DBL will require considerable manpower to enforce the scheme which can be managed for a few days, but ultimately, it has to be BRTS. In the passing, it would be most appropriate to state that if the Konkan Railway’s innovation—the “Sky bus” was operational in 2005, several people who were washed away and perished and many who contracted leptospirosis after walking in contaminated flood waters for long hours and died shortly thereafter, would not have lost their lives in the deluge.

To invoke thinking of disasters and overcoming them, at the 2004 Public Presentation of Mumbai Metro Mater Plan, the author had asked MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority) only to cite ten worst disasters that had occurred globally in the Metro System, especially in the underground sections. The answers are still awaited in 2012! To a query at the seminar on MRTS in 2009 on whether any of the provisions to meet disaster situation which were being shown in the presentation actually been included in the plans for Mumbai’s Monorail Project; the answer was in negative and the reason stated was that it would increase the cost of infrastructure. Even to a query on what mitigating measures were being planned in the fully underground 33.5 km Metro Line III, the managing director of Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation dwelt on only the Disaster Management Plan and did not touch upon mitigating features.

Transport planning goes hand in hand with Disaster Mitigation and Management Plans. As far as Mumbai is concerned, unless we create surplus public transport capacities and opt for those modes which will be economical, efficient, effective and provide infrastructure for disaster management facilities at the outset and not forgetting quickly implementable, we will continue to be vulnerable. As far as the author understands, BRTS will largely fulfil this need and Sky bus too. This author had written about it in his article “Commuting in Mumbai, 2008 - Room for Optimism” even much before the 2005 disaster.

(Sudhir Badami is a Civil Engineer and Transportation Analyst. He is on Government of Maharashtra’s Steering Committee on BRTS for Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s Technical Advisory Committee on BRTS for Mumbai. He is also member of Research & MIS Committee of Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority. He was member of Bombay High Court appointed erstwhile Road Monitoring Committee (2006-07). He is member of the Committee Constituted by the Bombay High Court for making the Railways, especially the Suburban Railways System Friendly towards Persons with Disability (2011- ). While he has been an active campaigner against Noise for more than a decade, he is a strong believer in functioning democracy. He can be contacted at [email protected])



Vitthal Sawant

5 years ago

I think even govt. is not aware about what happened on 17th April 2012 to the central railway or to the poor commuters.

If any disaster management cell is exist in Mumbai or Maharashtra, it could have acted to help poor commuters.

If we do not have backup plan at least govt. can ask offices and factories to work on minimum strength to avoid load on traffic. Govt. should immediately declare holidays to schools, colleges and all womens.

Krishnaraj Rao

5 years ago

Excellent questions raised, Sudhir. There is no long-term planning going on. This is like a race of lemmings to the cliff.

You need to make this debate happen in the mind of the public.

Warm Regards,

Harshad Kanu Kamdar

5 years ago

In emergencies like 120412 could train services not have been terminated at Ghatkopar on the Kayan Ghatkopar section and Matunga on CST-Matunga section? Similarly on the harbour branch also from CST to Chunabhatti and Panvel to Chembur. These sections had not been affected. Here the whole CR suburban section was in a chaos.
Also BEST would have been better equipped to take the passengers from Ghatkopar to Matunga and Chembur to Chunabhatti and back

These requires a good Disaster Management Plan

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