Non-public fairness Fund India Agri business Fund II will make investments $15 million (Rs one zero one crore) to gather minority stake in FMCG firm Cremica meals Industries.
“Rabo fairness Advisors, investment Advisors for India Agri commercial enterprise Fund II, has announced an investment of $15 million into Cremica meals Industries for acquisition of a minority stake via the fund,” Cremica food stated in a statement.
Cremica – whose product range encompass chips, sauces, sandwich mayonnaise, salad dressings and syrups – is eyeing Rs 1,000 crore turnover by way of 2020.
India Agri business Fund II is a $200 million personal fairness fund centered at growth and growth of Indian food and agri-commercial enterprise businesses in India. it’s far sponsored by using Rabobank in conjunction with pedigreed institutional traders.
This is the primary investment with the aid of India Agri enterprise Fund II.
Rabo equity Advisors, controlled by using Rajesh Srivastava, advises funds in India, IABF–II and IABF–I.
India Agri business Fund (IABF) I – a $120 million fund that’s absolutely invested in companies like Prabhat Dairy, NCMSL, LT meals, Daawat meals, Vacmet, international inexperienced, among others, and the these days raised – IABF II.
The fund has a protracted-time period ‘expertise Sharing settlement” with Rabobank.
The BSE 30-share Sensex has plummeted by 1,631.59 points or 6.24 per cent to 24,485.95 so far this month. The index had hit its 52-week low of 23,839.76 on January 20.
Tracking the extreme weakness in the stock market, the total investor wealth of firms listed at BSE plunged by Rs 7,96,903 crore to Rs 92,40,831 crore from Rs 1,00,37,734 crore at the end of December 31.
Sentiment was hit mostly by renewed global sell-off on worries driven by volatility in crude oil, which slid below $28 per barrel, concern over the health of the Chinese economy, while domestic economy also contributed the fall with rupee slumping over 28-month low, along with muted earnings of some of the corporates.
However, shrugging-off weak trend in stocks, the total market valuation of firms listed on the BSE rose by Rs 2 lakh crore in 2015, mainly helped by a host of new listings at the bourses last year.
Reliance Communications on Wednesday said it has paid Rs 5,383.84 crore (Rs 53.83 billion) as spectrum liberalisation fee to Department of Telecommunication for radiowaves in the 800/850 MHz band held by it in 16 telecom circles.
“RCom has on January 20, 2016 paid an aggregate amount of Rs 5,383.84 crore as liberalisation fee to DoT in relation to spectrum in the 800/850 MHz band held by it in 16 telecom circles,” the company said in a statement.
“Kolkata High Court, vide its judgment dated January 14, 2016, has already directed that RCom is not required to furnish any bank guarantees for disputed OTSC, as required by DoT.”
On Monday, Reliance Communications and Reliance Jio Infocomm entered into spectrum-trading and spectrum sharing agreements allowing Reliance Jio to now get spectrum in 850 MHz band from RCOM in 9 Circles, enabling it to offer 4G LTE services.
Spectrum trading will happen in 9 circles; subsequently Reliance Jio and RCom will share spectrum in 17 circles.
Sources said eventually, spectrum sharing to be done in all 22 circles (to begin with, 17 circles in Phase 1 as RCom is still awaiting 800 MHz spectrum liberalisation demand letter from DoT in 4 circles where there is no market price benchmark [Rajasthan, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) and in last circle, J&K, there are some technical considerations which are being sorted out.
As per sources, RCom got immediate payout of Rs 4,500 crore (Rs 45 billion) from Rel Jio, and these proceeds were used to pay the Spectrum liberalisation cost.
Access to enhanced spectrum footprint in the 800 MHz band will complement RJIL’s LTE services rollout, providing increased network coverage and superior service quality
The spectrum arrangements between RJIL and RCom will result in network synergies, enhanced network capacity and optimise spectrum utilisation and capex efficiencies. Both operators see considerable savings in operating costs and future investment in networks.
Sources said that in all circles where RCom’s spectrum holdings come down to 1.25 MHz post spectrum trading deal with Reliance Jio, the company will be get 3.75 MHz of 800-850 MHz band spectrum from MTS once it proposed merger with the Russian firm is completed.
In November, India’s fourth-largest telecom operator RCom announced acquisition of Sistema’s Indian telecom unit in an all-stock deal that will create an operator with 118 million subscribers.
As per the deal, SSTL will hold about 10 per cent stake in RCom and pay off its existing debt before closing the deal.
Russian tycoon Vladimir Evtushenkov-controlled AFK Sistema currently holds 56.68 per cent stake in SSTL while Russian government owns 17.14 per cent interest. Shyam Group has 23.98 per cent stake and the rest is owned by small investors.
SSTL offers mobile telephony services under MTS brand across nine telecom circles in the country.
Business is business, so why not buy oil from ISIS. The Russians claim the Turks are doing it, and in all likelihood even Assad is buying it. No one can fight a war without oil, according to Robert Bensh, partner and managing director of Pelicourt LLC oil and gas company.
While the politically unhinged are coming out the woodwork, the more important aspects of this story remain elusive to the public. Is the dangerously unspoken theory that ISIS is a bulwark against Iran what’s keeping the West from tackling the Islamic State wholeheartedly on its territory? With no nation that can control it, the threat is now out of control and a war of ambiguous targets is emerging.
In an exclusive interview with James Stafford of Oilprice, Bensh discusses:
• How far the Russia-Turkey spat can go economically
• The fallout effects for countries caught in between
• What Russia wants
• What Turkey wants
• What other geopolitical purposes ISIS serves
• Why ISIS can’t be controlled
• How Shi’ite radical groups differ
• Why we’re looking at a possible remapping of a significant part of the energy arena
• Why we shouldn’t listen to billionaire buffoons
James Stafford: Just over a week after Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet targeting ISIS oil facilities in northern Syria and Moscow’s imposition of ‘special economic measures’ against Turkey, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Ankara that this “cowardly military crime” won’t be taken lightly with just a ban on imports of “tomatoes or some restrictions in the construction and other industries.” Putin also reverted to Allah, noting that ‘perhaps, Allah decided to punish the ruling clique of Turkey by depriving it of its mind and reason.” How much farther can this spat go from a geo-economic standpoint?
Robert Bensh: Russia and Turkey have a great deal of economic interdependence, and nowhere more than in the energy sector. There has been no talk of cutting Russian gas to Turkey, and I don’t see how Russia can afford this right now. Turkey is not only a significant customer for Russia, but it’s also a key gas-transit point.
James Stafford: So what does Turkey want?
Robert Bensh: The better question is: “What does Erdogan want?” You know, Putin’s probably not too far off in his statement referring to Erdogan’s loss of “mind and reason”. Erdogan has been going down this path little by little for some time and it’s no secret that he has some megalomaniacal tendencies that grow more and more out of control every year. It would seem that he has dreams of a return of the Ottoman Empire—and that ISIS could be a logical ally to that end. Of course, ISIS is not likely looking to be beholden to another Ottoman Empire controlling a greater Sunni-Arab dominion. Many, many Turks fail to share this dream with their leader, and his ambitions will also be his eventual downfall unfortunately.
For the Turkish regime, there is also the idea that ISIS will ostensibly give them more power against the rise of the Kurds, both in southeastern Turkey and in northern Syria. It will even raise the Turks’ status in the face of the Saudis whose oil wealth has make them more powerful than the Turks in many ways.
James Stafford: Ok, so what does Russia want?
Robert Bensh: The Russian stance on Syria has been less ambiguous: support Assad and strike ISIS. For Russia, there are a couple of ‘domestic’ angles to this as well. One—they have a radical Islamic problem always on the point of revival in the North Caucasus. The more ISIS is emboldened and empowered, the higher the threat to Russia from within its own borders. Two—the Levant Basin oil and gas prospects. Israel has already made geopolitically game-changing gas discoveries in its part of this basin. Lebanon—if it ever passes the necessary legislation—will also start exploring its part of this prolific basin. Syria has a part in this too, and the Russians already have the right to explore under Assad. They certainly won’t have it under an ISIS-created Sunni caliphate.
James Stafford: Russia claims to have evidence that Turkey was buying oil from ISIS. How much merit do you think there is to this claim?
Robert Bensh: I am not privy to this evidence, but I can tell you this. It certainly has merit in theory. In all likelihood ISIS is even selling oil to the Assad regime that it is fighting against in Syria. Assad needs oil; ISIS needs money. Business is business, even in war and even with your enemies.
James Stafford: What we want to know is why is the West holding back against ISIS? We hear conflicting reports about the targets of air strikes and we can’t get a clear picture.
Robert Bensh: Listen, this is all about Iran at the end of the day, and continually about the Sunni-Shi’ite balance of power. While the West shuffles back and forth uncertain whether to destroy Assad or to destroy the ISIS monster that they helped to create to destroy Assad, and which also in large part arose out of the ashes of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that overthrew Saddam Hussein and radically upset the Sunni-Shi’ite balance of power.
James Stafford: Can Western countries, or NATO, effectively defeat ISIS?
Robert Bensh: I suppose the more answerable question is whether the West is willing to truly fight ISIS—at least on ISIS’ territory.
James Stafford: Let me interrupt you here … That’s where many of our readers get lost in this chaos. Why does there seem to be no concerted military move against ISIS by Western nations, aside from the on-and-off airstrikes, the targets of which there is also a great deal of ambiguity?
Robert Bensh: First, let me just stress that I am not a military man, nor am I a politician or a diplomat. I’m a businessman; and businessmen look at things a bit differently because they need to be able to see where things are going and what that means for investments. What I see right now is a great deal of uncertainty as to who the real ‘enemy’ is—or, rather, who the worse enemy is.
There appears to have been for some time an overriding and unspoken conviction that ISIS was a convenient bulwark against an increase in Iranian power, in Shi’ite power. Either propping up ISIS or only half-heartedly pushing it back is a way to keep Iran subdued. This is a mistake that the West has made time again and refuses to learn from. When that bulwark comes back to launch terrorist attacks in your country—well, then it’s too late to rethink strategy effectively.
But here’s the part that I think everyone misses in this cynical way of looking at geopolitics and alliances that are forged along the lines of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”: Iran can control its Shi’ite radicals. No one can control the Sunni insurgents.
James Stafford: Why is that?
Robert Bensh: That’s easy—and this is where the historical lesson is continually ignored. The Sunni radical groups have been used over and over as a means of destabilizing regimes or the like, and then the modus operandi has always been to cut them loose. So they are armed, organized in a rather haphazard manner and on their own.
James Stafford: From a geopolitical standpoint, can you give us any prognosis for how the ISIS threat or the Russia-Turkey spat could extend with new alliances or other upsets to the balance of power?
Robert Bensh: We are now seeing a clearer re-mapping of geopolitical relationships. And more specifically, geopolitical agendas—some shrouded for some time; others simply incoherent—will surface in the light of day.
James Stafford: Well, we know that Russia-U.S. relations remain deadlocked over Assad and Ukraine, and we know that Russian-Turkish relations are at a dangerous tipping point—but are there some less obvious re-alignments?
Robert Bensh: Ok, let’s take Kazakhstan for instance—a country that is enormously important in the energy equation. Kazakhstan is a geopolitically complicated arena right now. On one hand, it belongs to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and boasts Russia as its largest trading partner. But Turkey is also a fairly significant trading partner for Kazakhstan and Turkish companies play a major role in Kazakhstan. These are highly strategic relationships, and one could argue that Turkey is the more strategically important for Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan’s response to Turkey’s downing of the Russian plane illustrates the difficult position in which Kazakhstan finds itself, with one official condemning the Turkish move and then the Foreign Ministry immediately toning that down. It’s trying desperately to maintain neutrality, but this will not be possible.
James Stafford: What does that mean for oil?
Robert Bensh: Again, to even attempt to determine the possible outcome, you have to follow the oil. Kazakhstan’s oil is largely exported through the Black Sea and then the Mediterranean. Turkey holds a major card here because it controls the Turkish Straits and could choose to block Russian tankers. Kazakhstan’s only real path right now is to pay lip service to Turkey to ensure no closing of the straits and to maintain a fair balance with Russia at the same time, but it’s the Turkish Straits that will be first and foremost on its mind.
James Stafford: Thank you for your time. I know that our audience—and most of the American public at least—is desperate to understand what’s really going on here; who ISIS actually is; and who everyone’s supposed to be scared of. This creates a huge amount of public insecurity, and that fear breeds all kinds of other dangers, not to mention support for ill-advised strategies.
Robert Bensh: Here’s the thing. This is when all the crazies come out of the woodwork—and I won’t even waste your time with certain attention-seeking billionaire buffoons here. There are very few analysts in the world who can paint a big picture for you here. No one can truly predict what will come next. ISIS is loosely comprised of too many different groups and alliances, and the emerging threat is becoming much more individual, which makes it much more unpredictable. And as far as geopolitics are concerned, agendas in this game are more often than not being made up as we go along. For the energy industry, it’s touch-and-go. The fate of key pipelines is in question and this conflict threatens to redraw some significant chunks of the energy map.
To the dismay of U.S. shale producers, oil prices continue their long slow slide into the abyss. Perhaps the current price of $35 per barrel – an 11 year low – is the final destination. More than likely, however, it’s a brief reprieve before the next descent.
Oil exporters, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, have maintained high production rates. Their goal is to bankrupt U.S. shale companies and preserve market share. At the same time, oil demand is tapering as the global economy cools.
Global crude oil and condensate (c+c) production as of June 2015. In record high territory.
The combination of high production and declining demand has resulted in excess supply, and lower prices. The trend of lower prices won’t change until either demand increases or production decreases. At the moment, it doesn’t appear that either of these factors will change any time soon.
So how low can oil prices go? If you recall, in the late-1990s, oil prices dropped below $20 per barrel. Goldman Sachs thinks we’ll see $20 per barrel oil again.
Obviously, oil prices can’t go to zero. However, this offers little consolation for the many oil companies that borrowed gobs of money from Wall Street to leverage development of fracked wells that require $60 per barrel oil to pencil out.
Contrary to widespread expectations, Russian production has proved more than resilient in the face of low prices. The decline in the ruble and high export taxes on oil (which are based on threshold prices) have left Russian producers in a competitive situation.
So while it isn’t possible for oil prices to go to zero. It is possible for the stock prices of oil companies to go to zero. In fact, over the next 12 months there could be a rash of bankruptcy’s that results in delisted, worthless shares.
Here’s why, as reported by Reuters…
“A Reuters analysis of hedging disclosures from the 30 largest oil producers showed the sector as a whole reduced its hedge books in the three months to September. When oil started falling from around $100 a barrel in mid-2014 due to a global supply glut, many U.S. producers had strong hedge books guaranteeing prices around $90 a barrel.
Now, with prices below $36 and flirting with 11-year lows on renewed oversupply fears, only five drillers among those reviewed by Reuters expanded their hedges in the third quarter and eight had no protection beyond 2015, leaving them fully exposed to price swings.
The five companies that increased outstanding oil options, swaps or other derivative hedging positions to secure a price floor for their production, added 13 million barrels in the third quarter to 327 million barrels covered, data show. Five other firms did not expand their books, with positions that either expire in 2016 or no hedges altogether. The remaining 20 companies had hedges decline by 72 million barrels from the previous quarter.”
It may be sensible to take hedges off here – we will only know for certain with hindsight (note that fundamental data will not inform us in real time about the timing and the height of the price low – the low will be made at a time when the fundamentals look their absolute worst, so now could actually be a good time). It certainly didn’t make sense a year or 18 months ago though – and some producers suffered from doing it way too early – click to enlarge.
Doom and Gloom for North American Oil Producers
Suspended animation, in the form of price hedges, allowed many U.S. oil companies to maintain production in 2015. Yet now that those hedges are expiring, and sales will be settled at daily market prices, these companies will get squeezed. In fact, it may get worse before it gets better.
Turning off oil production is not as simple is flipping off a light switch. Unfortunately, a twisted scenario can come about where output increases but revenues fall. In other words, companies can find themselves producing and selling more oil while earning less.
That’s what happened to Continental Resources. They foolishly sold their hedges in late 2014 and operated in 2015 without hedges. Given oil’s rapid price decline, it has been a brutal year.
During the third quarter 2015, Continental Resources increased output by 25 percent from the year before. However, crude and natural gas revenues fell 46 percent over this same period. What’s more, had Continental Resources merely held on to the hedges they sold in late 2014, they would have made $1 billion more in 2015 than they did.
As of mid-December, there have been 39 North American oil producers that have filed for bankruptcy protection. The latest being Texas driller, Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation. At the time of their bankruptcy filing, they had $6.4 million in cash and $1.1 billion in total liabilities. That represents a debt to cash ratio of 17,187 percent.
Unless they can figure out how to turn a profit on $35 per barrel oil, restructuring is futile. Indeed, it’s doom and gloom for North American oil producers.
The government, in two weeks, will unveil a blueprint for startups to ease the process of setting up new ventures.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release the blueprint of ‘Start Up India’ programme which may include a Startups and Entrepreneurship Law to make it easier for setting up new ventures and closing unviable ones, besides clearing regulatory issues that hamper access to finance.
The government is also seeking to define a new category of business — ‘Innovative Start-ups’ — to distinguish them from micro, small, medium and large enterprises that are built on conventional business models. There would be a special support structure for such innovative start-ups, including funding from the government.
“In such start-ups, the government, through the domestic venture capital funds, could take a 25 per cent stake. We will leave the due diligence, mentoring and refining of business ideas to the professional venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE) funds,” a senior government official familiar with the policy formulation told The Hindu.
“As these start-ups gain in scale after two or three years, other investors, including PE and VC funds could buy back the government venture fund’s stake. This would help create a revolving fund to finance such ventures with transformative potential, as the government can deploy the proceeds from exiting these start-ups to fund other ideas,” the official said.
The Start Up India policy would attempt to address two key concerns the government wants to fix in India’s start-up ecosystem. Over 65 per cent of successful start-ups re-locate out of India owing to the difficulty of doing business, usually to Singapore. Secondly, 90 per cent of start-up funding presently comes from foreign VC and PE funds.
“There tends to be a bias among foreign funds for backing business models that have worked in the developed world or those that can be tried in India and replicated there. We feel that if Indian start-ups focus on the country’s unique problems, the models they build can be exported to the world,” the official said. The focus of the Start Up and Entrepreneurship Bill, that the government could announce on January 16, would be on making it easier to start, operate and close a business. The attempt would be to allow an unsuccessful venture to shut shop in a few days without risk to an entrepreneur’s personal property.
While these measures would facilitate general support for young entrepreneurs, there will be special incentives for the category of innovative start-ups that the government feels need additional support as the risks may be higher than a conventional business. At the same time, the returns from such ventures would be higher if the idea in question achieves its transformative potential.
Currently, the government-backed India Aspiration Fund, announced in the Union Budget with a first tranche of Rs.2,000 crore, acts as a fund that allocates money to different domestic venture funds which provides seed funds to innovators and entrepreneurs.
Nearly 90 per cent of the first tranche of funds have been allocated already, said another senior official, adding that another tranche would be considered once this is exhausted.
The government is trying to broad-base the methodology for identifying an ‘innovative startup.’ Officials are working out the modalities for this in the run-up to the policy and one of the options under consideration is to allow the heads of a government-backed incubator or technology development bodies in different sectors to certify or vet which start-ups are innovative.
The Prime Minister had announced the ‘Start Up India, Stand Up India’ initiative in his Independence Day address last year and is expected to announce the specifics of an action plan to back start-ups on January 16.
Toshiba JSW Power Systems has deferred the expansion plan of its turbines and generators manufacturing facility in Manali, near Chennai, at least for the next two to three years as it wants to build a meaty export order book, a top official said.
Talking to The Hindu, Toshiba JSW Power Systems Managing Director, Yoshiaki Inayama, said: “This decision has been taken considering the present market conditions for which the existing production capacity is suitable.”
Recently, Toshiba Japan indicated that energy and data storage were going to be the main focus areas. “We will be tying up with Toshiba for exporting our turbines to South East Asian region. We might get export orders of 660 MW in early 2016 and it might take 22 months to execute,” he said.
Regarding the domestic market scenario, he said the performance for the current financial year was better than 2014. But production had to be suspended during December as the manufacturing activities were disrupted at Manali plant due to heavy rains and floods. “To maintain the commitments to our valued customers, we are working round-the-clock and putting in our best efforts to restore normal manufacturing levels,” he said.
Mr. Inayama said they hope the reallocation of coal blocks by the Union government will revive the fortunes of Toshiba JSW.
“The (thermal power) project biddings will commence next year and we hope to get some orders. It could be in the region of 660 MW. Currently, we are manufacturing turbines for NTPC, State Electricity Boards and Independent Power Producers,” he said.
JSW bagged three orders from NTPC for executing Steam Turbine Island projects on EPC basis for delivery of 800 MW and 660 MW ranges, which are now being delivered in stages. Recently, Toshiba bagged order on turnkey EPC basis from Uttar Pradesh Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam for setting up a 660 MW thermal power plant in Aligarh District. The foundation laying work began in December and it would be delivered soon, he said.
Toshiba JSW has a capacity to produce generators and turbines of 3,000 MW a year for thermal power plants. Currently, it is manufacturing five units of 880 MW turbines and generators and 2 numbers of 660 MW. In the over Rs.800 crore joint venture, Toshiba Corporation of Japan has 75 per cent stake while JSW group 25 per cent.
The government’s push towards implementing direct cash transfers for kerosene subsidies is a welcome move but implementation remains a key concern, according to experts.
“Such a move will certainly improve the targeting of the kerosene subsidy at a time when around half of the kerosene is currently being misappropriated. But the manner of implementation is key. One has to see whether it will achieve the intended outcomes,” Pronab Sen, economist and Chairman of the National Statistical Commission, told The Hindu.
The government’s decision to incentivise States to move to Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in keorsene involves the States being given a cash incentive of 75 per cent of subsidy savings during the first two years, 50 per cent in the third year and 25 per cent in the fourth year.
The significant leakages in the kerosene subsidy system are a matter of great concern, with any attempt to plug the leaks a welcome one.
“Given there is a subsidy and huge leakage, and given that it is not a secret that the other purposes [that kerosene is being put to] are not energy-efficient and not good for the environment, such a scheme is essential,” said N.R. Bhanumurthy, Professor of Economics at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. “It is important that all public distribution systems be channelled through the DBT, since the successes in MGNREGS wage transfers and LPG subsidy transfers show that we have the infrastructure in place,” Mr. Bhanumurthy added.
Used to dilute diesel
Kerosene, predominantly used as fuel for lighting in rural India, has increasingly been used to dilute diesel, which vastly increases the pollution caused by using the fuel.
Under the scheme, the consumer will pay the un-subsidised price of kerosene and then receive the subsidy amount in his bank account.
However, the problem with such a transfer system, Dr. Sen explained, stems from the fact that if the quantum of subsidy each household is eligible to is determined on the basis of current kerosene usage, then this means that the subsidy amount transferred to each household would be about double its actual usage, since currently around half is being pilfered.
This creates a situation where kerosene is so highly subsidised that there will never be an incentive for users to shift to cleaner forms of lighting such as solar, Dr. Sen pointed out.
India may increase its solar energy capacity four-fold during the next fiscal year ending March 2017, Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Coal, Power and Renewable Energy says.
“Today our solar capacity is about 4,500 MW and the capacity addition target for this year is about 2,000 MW. During 2016-17, we are hoping to add 12,000 MW in solar sector alone. Thus, including other renewable sources, there will be a total capacity addition of about 15,000 MW during next fiscal,” he said.
The government is focusing on speed, skill and scale rather than subsidies to drive reforms and progress in the energy sector. The minister said water heaters that ran on solar energy had subsidy components some years ago.
“Our government inherited a huge subsidy bill,” he said adding, “If you keep depending on the clutches of the government, you would never able to achieve scale and path breaking innovation. Our government will handhold and support you in the initial period for a while, but ultimately the project has to be techno-economically viable,” he added.
He highlighted the pace with which LED bulbs were distributed in the country as part of government’s energy efficiency drive initiative. Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL), a public sector entity engaged in distribution of LED bulbs, is expected to contribute about seven crore bulbs this year.
“The same company distributed six lakh bulbs in 2013-14 during previous government’s regime. Due to economies of scale, the prices have come down by 76 per cent now. It is a standalone project now and there is zero subsidy. Upfront payment is Rs.10 and the balance is paid over 10 months. Today, about 4 lakh bulbs are distributed every single day,” he added.
Mr Goyal also said that the ministry was expediting electrification of all villages without power. As on April 1, 2015, there were 18,452 villages across 19 states without electricity.
“Prime Minister, in August this year, has asked us to electrify these villages in the next 1,000 days. But we have taken a pledge to achieve that in the next 730 days. Currently we are electrifying 100-120 villages every day. We will ramp it up to 200 villages a day. We have also planned to install off-grid systems in villages that pose challenges for grid power,” he stated.
Maharashtra may waive all taxes for EVs
Maharashtra is likely to be the first State to waive value added tax (VAT), registration charges and road tax on electric vehicles (EVs), according to Mr.Goyal.
“I suggested it to the Maharashtra Chief Minister some time ago to waive all taxes on EVs as a mark of our support to clean environment. He was very responsive to the idea. So, I am confident that the state will exempt EVs from VAT, registration and tax charges,” he said.
On the challenges of imposing a charge on infrastructure for EVs, he stated: “I would ideally like to see every petrol bunk in the country to have a charging station. Normally, such vehicles can be charged at home. But, if one is doing long distance travel, he/she should be in a position to do that at a charging station. We are working on building that infrastructure.
“It could be a public-private partnership or initially seeded by the government and then subsequently it could become a business model. Also, power will no longer be an issue we have surplus coal and power in the country today.”
He added that the government was keen on facilitating faster roll-out of EVs across the states and government would partner with initiatives relating to EVs, hybrid technology or biogas programmes.