The Indian government has launched an ambitious capacity-building programme to upgrade skills for planning good urban transport policies
India needs solutions and strategies to improve sustainability of transport system in the cities, director general of the New Delhi-based Institute of Transport has said, reports PTI.
"We need a wide range of strategies," Bharat Indu Singal said at a plenary forum on "New Vision for Sustainable Urban Transport," in Singapore today.
Supports for such strategies were coming as the Indian government has already launched an ambitious capacity building programme to upgrade skills for planning good urban transport policies, he told the forum, which is part of the World Urban Transport Leaders Summit 2010 being held by Singapore Land Transport Authority 30th June to 1st July.
Additionally, the government has also tied its financial aid with the cities bringing in reforms including institutional set ups.
"This has obviously worked," added Singal.
He pointed out that previously the institutions were weak and the urban transport was being managed by 20 odd agencies without any coordination either on planning or on operation.
On environment, he said, "We have improved emission standards, especially the percentage of sulphur in diesel and petrol is to be lowered to 0.5% from 8% previously".
Singal has also called for immediate action on short-term and long-term plans for the cities.
The short-term initiative would be to make the cities "walkable" by providing footpaths and non-motor traffic by providing cycle tracks.
For the long-term, he called for sustainable public transport system which must be city-wide to ensure people are able to complete the full journey.
"If the people have to worry about the first mile and the last mile of their journey, they would take out their cars," he said.
Furthermore, he stressed on the need for holistic planning in managing the public transport system and traffic network that would benefit the people.
All components of public urban transport must be planned in a comprehensive and holistic manner and implemented together for full benefits, Singal said.
Lastly, he called for control on cities' urban outlays, as it would lengthen the public transport journey.
Singal also highlighted the need for people-friendly interchanges for changing transportation modes.
The interchanges should be vertical or adjacent but not 200 metre apart which would discourage people for taking a walk.
Under the Open Acreage Licensing Policy, companies can suggest any block for offer at any time, without waiting for the announcement of the bids under the New Exploration Licensing Policy
After eight rounds of auction, India is moving towards Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), where oil firms can choose the blocks they want to explore without waiting for the government to put them on offer, reports PTI.
"Our intention is to move to the OALP regime as soon as possible," oil minister Murli Deora said at the signing of the Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) for blocks awarded in the eighth round of auction.
"Under this policy, companies can suggest any block for offer at any time, without waiting for the announcement of the bids under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP)," he said.
Companies can choose any area or block they wish to explore for oil and gas and approach the government for award. The government will then put up an offer for that particular area.
"The block will be awarded to the party giving the best bid," Mr Deora said.
The OALP is likely to be preceded by a last round of auction under NELP (NELP-IX) by the end of the year.
"It would be our endeavour to launch NELP-IX round in the third quarter of 2010," Mr Deora said.
For the OALP to become operational, the establishment of the National Data Repository (NDR) was a pre-requisite.
"Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) is in the process of setting up the NDR, which will archive all exploration and production (E&P) data, under one roof," minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Jitin Prasada said.
"Certain regulations regarding ownership of data, sharing of information in the public domain, etc will be required to be formulated while setting up the NDR. These issues are being looked into," he said.
DGH director general S K Srivastava said that $1.34 billion investment has been committed in oil and gas hunt in the 36 blocks that were bid for in the NELP-VIII round that concluded last year.
"This was better than $1.2 billion investment committed in the previous round (NELP-VII)," he said.
State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and its' partners will sign contracts for half of 34 oil and gas blocks awarded in NELP-VIII.
In all, Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) for 31 out of the 36 exploration areas that were bid for in the eighth edition of NELP were signed tomorrow.
Of the 70 blocks offered in NELP-VIII, only 36 attracted bids from interested companies. Bids for two blocks were rejected and only 34 blocks were awarded. Of these 34 blocks, PSC for 31 were signed today and the rest would be done later.
ONGC and its partner won 17 areas out of a maximum of 25 blocks they bid for.
Among the 24 deep water blocks that the government had put on offer, only eight received bids, all of which were single bids.
ONGC and partners signed PSC for seven, while Cairn Energy Plc of UK inked contract for the other.
Of the 28 shallow water blocks on offer, 13 received bids.
BHP Billiton Petroleum won three, while ONGC got five of these as lead partner and one where Oil India Ltd (OIL) was the operator. Cairn Energy got a KG basin offshore block.
Rick Bott, executive director and chief operating officer, Cairn India said, "Cairn only bid for two blocks and secured both of them."
"The award of the KG-OSN-2009/3 block, which was also the most contested offshore block, allows us to use our knowledge and experience gained from Ravva (oil and gas field off the east coast) and increases our presence in the prospective Krishna Godavari (KG) basin," he said.
"The award of the MB-DWN-2009/1 offshore block gives us the opportunity to test a frontier basin and will act as a focal point for further evaluation of the offshore west coast of India," he said.
"The award of both blocks underlines our confidence in India's hydrocarbon resources and our continued commitment to explore for new oil and gas resources in the country," he added.
As egards 18 onland blocks, bids were received for 15, four of which went to ONGC. Other winners include Jubilant, Oil India, NTPC and Esveegee Steel.
Sources said that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had in March rejected Deep Energy's offer for two onland blocks in view of "very low percentage share of profit to the Government."
ONGC signed PSC for seven deep-sea blocks—five as the sole operator, one as a joint operator with OIL and one with the BG Group of UK as the operator.
Its other partners in deep-water blocks included Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), GAIL India, NTPC and Andhra Pradesh Gas Infrastructure Corporation. Shallow water blocks had Indian Oil Corporation and Adani Welspun Exploration Ltd as additional partners.
In all, ONGC got 17 blocks—in 14 as operator and three as non-operator. In the previous seven rounds too, ONGC had won almost half of the 203 blocks awarded.
The rupee loans to exporters engaged in four labour-intensive sectors—handicrafts, carpets, handlooms and SMEs— will be exempt from the base rate system, but the lending rate to these sectors cannot fall below 7%
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday exempted the rupee loans to exporters engaged in four labour-intensive sectors—handicrafts, carpets, handlooms and SMEs—from the base rate system, a new minimum lending rate that will be effective from next month, reports PTI.
The RBI, however, clarified that the lending rate to these sectors cannot fall below 7%.
"If the interest rate charged to exporters (of the above sectors) goes below the base rate, such lending will not be construed to be violative of the base rate guidelines," it said in a notification.
Currently, the government provides interest subsidy of 2 percentage points on these loans subject to the condition that banks will charge interest rate not exceeding the benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR) minus 4.5%. From 1st July, base rate will replace BPLR.
The country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) on Tuesday announced its base rate at 7.5%, the lowest amongst all banks. This means that SBI can provide loans to exporters in these sectors below 7.5% but cannot provide them below 7%.
As per industry sources, while exports in segments like gems and jewellery and engineering goods have started showing signs of recovery, these four sectors continue to reel under the global demand slowdown.