USDA lowers India’s wheat output forecast to 79 million tonnes

India, the world's second largest grower, produced a record 80.68MT of wheat in 2009

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has lowered India's wheat output estimate by 3.65% to 79 million tonnes (MT) for the current crop year from 82MT on crop damage due to extreme heat, reports PTI.

India, the world's second largest grower, produced a record 80.68MT of wheat in 2009.

Wheat harvesting for the 2010-11 marketing year began on 1st April and will continue till June.

"The initial optimism regarding the 2010 wheat crop following favourable growing conditions through mid-March was tempered by a sudden significant rise in temperature, which affected proper grain development, lowering yield prospects," the USDA said in its latest report.

The extreme hot weather at harvest time resulted in lower-than-normal grain moisture levels, further contributing to a potential yield reduction, it said.

The fall in production is despite an increase in wheat acreage to 28.7 million hectares, it added.

The report, however, warned that the impact of high temperature is likely to be more pronounced in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana where the crop was planted late.

Wheat production in Madhya Pradesh, however, is expected to touch record levels as the crop was unaffected by the rise in temperature.

However, the production gain in Madhya Pradesh is unlikely to offset the likely combined decline in wheat production in Punjab and Haryana, it observed.

Due to lower output, wheat procurement is also expected to fall by 2MT to 3MT from the record 25.4MT procured in 2009-10, the USDA said, adding that the government's wheat stock on 1st June could peak to near record level of around 40MT.

Despite the huge stock lying in granaries, the USDA said India may not lift the ban on wheat exports due to concerns of food inflation.

Even if exports were allowed, Indian wheat would remain uncompetitive in the global market without an export subsidy from the government, the report said.

Also, the recent appreciation of the Indian rupee against the US dollar would make exports more costlier, the report added.

"At the current exchange rate of around Rs44.5 for one US dollar, the Free on board (FOB) cost of Indian wheat would be around $310 per tonne against the US price of less than $200 per tonne and even lower for Baltic Sea origin wheat," it said.

In early 2007, the government banned exports of wheat to increase the availability of the commodity in the domestic market.


Around 74,000MW of power to be added in XI Plan

Earlier in its mid-term review, the Planning Commission had reduced power generation capacity addition target by over 20% to 62,374MW for the current plan period from the original 78,577MW

The government today said that the power generation capacity addition in the XI five-year plan, ending 2012, would be about 74,000MW, close to the original target of 78,577MW, reports PTI.

"With best efforts, we would add about 12,000MW-13,000MW power generation capacity over the likely addition of 62,000MW in the current five-year plan. This would be at 74,000MW near to the original target of electricity generation capacity of 78,577MW," power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told reporters at a FICCI conference on energy efficiency.

Earlier in its mid-term review, the Planning Commission had reduced power generation capacity addition target by over 20% to 62,374MW for the current plan period from the original 78,577MW.

In the mid-term appraisal report, the Plan panel had stated: "It is anticipated that additional power generation capacity of 45,234MW can be commissioned during the remaining period of the XIth Plan, noting that 19,207MW capacity was added till 31 December 2009."

Mr Shinde further said, "I purposely took the power generation capacity addition target of 78,577MW in XIth Plan considering prime minister Manmohan Singh's announcement of 'power to all' by March 2012."

"I could have taken 50,000MW as the target. But we took the challenge and added over 22,000MW as on today during the first three years of the current five-year plan. I have two years in hand," he said.

During the Xth Plan, 21,080MW was added against the target of 41,000MW.

Addressing the conference, the minister also said, "The CDM executive board has approved our 'Bachat Lamp Yojana' under which incandescent bulbs are replaced by energy efficient CFLs at a cost of Rs15 only."

The CDM is an international organisation for approval of carbon credit projects under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The replacement of all incandescent bulbs in the country is expected to result in saving of 6,000MW of power.


HCC may emerge as lowest bidder for two Rajasthan atomic power projects

The company expects to achieve financial closure for one road project and the letter of intent for the nuclear power contract this month

Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) is expected to emerge as the lowest bidder in two of the contracts issued for nuclear power projects under the Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (RAPP) quota.

“We are the lowest bidder in five to six projects of the value of Rs4,500 crore. One of the latest projects in which we are likely to be the lowest bidder is the nuclear power project given under the RAPP quota for Units 7 and 8,” said Praveen Sood, group CFO, HCC. The letter of intent for this project is likely to be given within this month.

The contract, if awarded, would comprise developing a Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) for Unit 7 and Unit 8 under the RAPP quota, each unit having an expected capacity of 700MW each. The investment in such projects is being quoted at around Rs8 crore per MW. Both these units are expected to start commercial operations by 2016.

In addition, the HCC Group, which also has a wide presence in the road sector, plans financial closures for one of the three road projects currently in its kitty. “We plan to achieve financial closure for one of the three road projects that we have, this month,” said Mr Sood. He refused to divulge any further details of the financial closure.

HCC had been awarded three National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) projects to develop three contiguous sections of approximately 256 km length between Bahrampore to Dalkhola on NH-34 in West Bengal on a build-operate-transfer basis. Financial closure for one of these three projects is expected to take place this month.


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