Citizens' Issues
Monsoon will be promising for farmers: Skymet
Skymet, the private weather forecasting agency, has predicted a "promising monsoon" for farmers in India, sticking to its stand that rains this year would be normal or 102 per cent of the long term average.
 
In a report released on its website in the evening on Wednesday, Skymet said that "with the Indian Meteorological department predicting a second straight drought year for the country, a massive challenge could be ahead of Prime minister Narendra Modi's ambitious plans of reviving India's subdued economy.
 
However, it said it disagreed with IMD's prediction of 88% rains.
 
Skymet said that Monsoon 2015's overall performance will be normal, and promising for farmers.
 
But, it said, the monsoon is likely to be weak in the sub-divisions of south interior Karnataka, Rayalaseema, East Madhya Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh.
 
Noting that the main Kharif or Monsoon crops cultivated in India are paddy, soyabean, cotton and groundnut, it said that soyabean production would be hampered as Madhya Pradesh, which will be affected by a below normal monsoon, produces 53 per cent of the crop. The other crops will only be marginally affected.
 
Agricultural produce, it says, will not be hampered in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana as these states have sufficient irrigation facilities and will also receive normal rainfall throughout the four-month long monsoon season. The West Coast will also receive good showers, while Peninsular India will be at a moderate risk of below normal monsoon rains.
 
On Tuesday, Skymet had released a report saying why it was sticking to the 102% prediction for monsoon, despite the IMD forecasting a drought year.
 
It said that this year El Nino had been causing a lot of anxiety among people but El Nino has been continuing since 2014 and is not a cause of much concern. 
 
"Weather agencies worldwide are evaluating the performance of Monsoon 2015 under the scare of El Nino. However, Skymet has been assessing other oceanic parameters and atmospheric conditions since December 2014, and will not change its stance that monsoon will be ‘normal," the report says.
 
"We at Skymet believe that other forecasting agencies are over-weighing El Nino's impact on monsoon and therefore, sticks to normal rains to the tune of 102% of the long term average (based on 30 years)," it said.

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Government files complaint against Nestle with consumer disputes panel
The government on Wednesday filed a complaint against Nestle India with the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), following the controversy over samples of Maggi noodles containing lead beyond permissible limits.
 
Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters here that the NCDRC will probe the matter and take appropriate action.
 
He said the government, for the first time, was taking action under Section 12-1-D of the Consumer Protection Act, under which both Centre and states have powers to file complaints.
 
He said as there would be delay in getting the reports from food safety watchdog FSSAI (Food Safety Standards Authority of India) and since it concerned consumers' health, the government decided to file a written complaint before the NCDRC.
 
Paswan said he did not know what will be the outcome of the FSSAI reports.
 
"If the FSSAI reports are found to be positive, it is a very serious issue," he said.
 
The minister defended FSSAI over the Maggi noodles controversy, and said if a company violated the standards, the regulator cannot be responsible for it.
 
Asked whether FSSAI was responsible for not checking the quality of Maggi, he said: "After getting licence, if someone does wrong and misleads the consumer, how can FSSAI be held responsible?"
 
He also said that until the inquiry was complete, the government cannot take action either against the company or the brand ambassadors.
 
The Delhi government on Wednesday banned Maggi noodles for 15 days in the capital, after 10 of 13 samples were found to contain more than the permissible quantity of lead.

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Real estate prices stagnant since 2007, says Residex. Is it true?
The Residex of National Housing Bank, which tracks residential property prices across 26 cities, reveals that property prices have not appreciated as much over the past seven years
 
 
Of the 26 cities tracked by the National Housing Bank’s RESIDEX, an index, which tracks residential property prices, just nine cities have reported an annual price appreciation of 10% or more over the past seven years. The combined average of the 26 cities reveals that property prices appreciated by just about 8% over the past seven years. While price appreciation in certain cities may seem reasonable, in other areas, the index data seems plainly wrong.
 
Property prices in Chennai gained the most, appreciating by as much as 20% annually over the seven-year period. Pune and Mumbai followed with a price appreciation of about 13% each. Bhopal reported an appreciation of 12.44%, while Ahmedabad reported a gain of 11.39% during the same period. Among the other major cities, Kolkata was at number 7 with a return of 10.81% and Delhi was at number 10 with a gain of 9.27%.
 
 
At the bottom of the list were cities like Bengaluru, which reported a growth rate of just 1.21% and Hyderabad that reported a decline of 1.01%. Even over the past two years, the index has gained an average of just 4.53%. Anecdotal evidence raises doubts.
 
During 2008-09, the prices of flats in Kalyan (East), in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, were around Rs1,750 per sq ft. Last year, the prices went up to Rs5,500-6,000 per sq ft and as of today are being quoted at Rs4,600-Rs5,500 per sq ft in the same area. 
 

Similarly, at Viman Nagar area in Pune, the property (residential) rates per sq ft, were around Rs4,000 in 2008-09, which rose almost double to Rs7,500 as of June 2015.
 
NHB mentions that actual transactions prices are considered for the study in order to arrive at an Index. The source of the data is real estate agents or brokers by commissioning the services of private research organisations of national repute. In addition, data on housing prices is also being collected from the housing finance companies and bank, which is based on housing loans contracted by these institutions. 
 
Liases Foras, a real estate rating and research company, maintains a Real Estate Sensitivity Index known as RESSEX. According to this index, price in Mumbai’s central suburbs has appreciated by 13.59% from November 2007 to September 2014. This is in line with NHB’s RESIDEX. Unfortunately, index data relating to other cities during the same period is not freely available.
 
NHB launched RESIDEX in July 2007. It has been updated up to quarter ended September 2014. The index is currently being developed only for residential housing sector.
 
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