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PM Modi launches ‘Infrastructure for Resilient Island States’ for most vulnerable countries

India on Tuesday launched an ambitious initiative for developing the infrastructure of small island nations, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying it will give a new hope, a new confidence and satisfaction of doing something for the most vulnerable countries facing the biggest threat from climate change. Prime Minister Modi was joined by his British counterpart Boris Johnson on the second day of the COP26 climate summit here. The launch event was also attended by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“The launch of ‘Infrastructure for Resilient Island States‘ gives a new hope, a new confidence,” Modi said, adding that the initiative gives the satisfaction of doing something for the most vulnerable countries.

“The last few decades have proved that no one is untouched by the wrath of climate change. Whether they are developed countries or countries rich in natural resources, this is a big threat to everyone,” Modi said.

Stating that the Small Island Developing States or SIDS face the biggest threat from climate change, Modi said it is a matter of life and death for them, it is a challenge to their existence.

“The disasters caused by climate change can literally take the form of catastrophe for them. In such countries, climate change is a major challenge not only for the security of their lives, but also for their economies,” he said, adding that such countries are dependent on tourism, but due to natural calamities, tourists are also afraid to visit there.

Modi said that the SIDS countries have lived in harmony with nature for centuries and they know how to adapt to the natural cycles of nature.

“But due to the selfish behavior of the past several decades, the unnatural form of nature has come to the fore, the result of which innocent Small Island States are facing today,” he said.

Modi congratulated the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) for the initiative, saying for him the CDRI or

IRIS

is not just about infrastructure thing but it is part of a very sensitive responsibility of human welfare.

“It is the collective responsibility of all of us towards mankind. It is, in a way, a shared atonement for our sins,” he said.

The Prime Minister said India has made special arrangements for cooperation with the Pacific islands and Caricom countries in the wake of the threat of climate change.

He said India’s space agency ISRO will build a special data window for them to provide them timely information about cyclones, coral-reef monitoring, coast-line monitoring etc. through satellite.

Describing the launch of IRIS as “very important”, Modi said through this initiative, it will be easy for SIDS to mobilise technology, finance necessary information faster. “Promotion of quality infrastructure in Small Island States will benefit both lives and livelihoods there,” he added.

“I assure you that India will fully support this new project, and will work closely with CDRI, other partner countries and the United Nations for its success,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, British Prime Minister Johnson said he was “very grateful to my friend, Narendra Modi – the Prime Minister of India, for his leadership on the Coalition for Disaster Resilient infrastructure. He has been out in front on this for a long time.”

“This is an existential threat as we sit here in Glasgow today. Last year, 600 billion of ice melted away in Greenland. It’s incredibly cruel that these incredibly small island states are right in the frontline of the loss and damage that is caused by global warming,” he said.

“They have done virtually nothing to cause the problem, they didn’t produce the huge volumes of CO2 to be pumped into the atmosphere,” Johnson said as he urged countries to join this campaign and help.

“We have got to stop this remorseless increase in CO2 because there are people around this room, there are vulnerable populations who have done nothing to deserve it will be in the frontline, suffering catastrophic loss and damage,” he said.

Johnson said that the UK is contributing financially to the initiative IRIS. “We are stomping up as well.”

The Australian Prime Minister thanked India and the UK for their leadership of the CDRI. “I acknowledge the Quad support, including the US and Japan support for India’s CDRI,” Morrison said.

The IRIS initiative is a part of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient infrastructure that would focus on building capacity, having pilot projects, especially in small island developing states.

“That would also involve in some senses, setting up norms and standards for resilient infrastructure… with infrastructure loss from cyclones etc, especially small island states and coastal areas are vulnerable to these ravages of climate change, and this [IRIS] is an effort to try and equip countries that are particularly vulnerable to these effects of climate change,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters on Monday.

The new initiative is the result of cooperation between India, the UK and Australia and included the participation of leaders of small island nations Fiji, Jamaica and Mauritius.

India’s Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) welcomed the launch of IRIS as a recognition of the severity of climate risks which can unravel decades of development, especially for the most vulnerable countries and communities.

“It will need a combination of on-ground assessments of climate risk, financial innovation to help build resilient infrastructure, and the local capacity to manage such facilities,” said Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of CEEW.

You’re most popular man, join my party: Israeli PM to Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the newly elected Israeli PM Naftali Bennett on Tuesday and discussed possibilities of expanding ties in innovation, technology, space, security, farm and food technologies.

The two met on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in what was their maiden meeting. Modi invited Bennett to visit India and the Israeli prime minister is expected to be here in first quarter of 2022 to commemorate 30 years of bilateral partnership.

In a video of the interaction shared on social media, the Prime Minister of Israel can be heard saying to PM Modi, “You are the most popular man in Israel. Come and join my party.”

“Our goal is to continue the wonderful path that you placed with my predecessor, and bring it to a whole new level, so we can ensure that our two nations work together on innovation, technology, space, security, agriculture, food technologies, and of course climate-related technologies,” Bennett is understood to have told Modi.

Modi on his part told Bennett, who had replaced Benjamin Netanyahu as Israeli prime minister in June, that the people of India deeply value the friendship with Israel.

The two had a brief meeting on Monday as well where Modi was accompanied by foreign minister S Jaishankar.

“Indeed! We shall continue working together for stronger bilateral ties and for a better planet,” Modi tweeted on Tuesday along with a video of the two leaders exchanging pleasantries during their discussion.

India and Israel elevated their bilateral relations to a strategic partnership in July 2017 when Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel.

Since then, the relationship between the two countries has focused on expanding knowledge-based partnership, which includes collaboration in innovation and research, including boosting the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Modi, Deuba to Work Together on Post-covid Recovery
Modi on Tuesday also met his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba and the two leaders resolved to work together towards post-pandemic recovery. It was the first meeting between Modi and Deuba since the latter assumed the PM’s office in July.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the leaders discussed “ways to further strengthen our close bilateral ties” besides climate and Covid-19. They “resolved to work together toward post-pandemic recovery”, he tweeted.

PM Modi arrives in UK for COP26 summit, bilateral talks with Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Glasgow on Sunday for the COP26 climate summit and bilateral talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) meet.

“Landed in Glasgow. Will be joining the COP26 Summit, where I look forward to working with other world leaders on mitigating climate change and articulating India’s efforts in this regard,” Modi said on Twitter.

The Prime Minister was received to the tune of Scottish bagpipes as he arrived at his hotel in Glasgow, where he was greeted by a large group of Indian diaspora representatives with chants of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.

“Leaving for Glasgow after a fruitful G20 Summit in Rome. During the Summit, we were able to have elaborate deliberations on issues of global importance such as fighting the pandemic, improving health infrastructure, boosting economic cooperation and furthering innovation,” Modi said in an earlier tweet.

The Prime Minister, who flew into Glasgow from the G20 Summit in Italy, is scheduled to begin the UK leg of his European tour with a meeting with community leaders and Indologists based in Scotland on Monday morning.

He will then proceed for the opening ceremony of the World Leaders’ Summit (WLS) at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, where he is set to address the summit plenary session.

Modi’s bilateral meeting with Boris Johnson is expected to take place soon after Monday’s opening ceremony, which will include cultural performances and a speech by the UK Prime Minister. Johnson has said the summit will be the “world’s moment of truth” and has urged world leaders to make the most of it.

“The question everyone is asking is whether we seize this moment or let it slip away,” he said, ahead of the two-week conference.

His talks with Modi are expected to focus on the UK-India climate partnership as well as a stock-take of the 2030 Roadmap for stronger UK-India Strategic Partnership – signed by the two leaders during a virtual summit in May this year.

“Both governments remain committed to the implementation of the Roadmap, within prescribed timelines. Accordingly, we are looking to launch negotiations in November 2021 for an Interim Agreement to be signed in March 2022 and eventually a comprehensive agreement, if all goes according to schedule, by November 2022,” India’s High Commissioner to the UK, Gaitri Issar Kumar, said ahead of the prime ministerial talks – the first in-person meeting between Modi and Johnson following the UK PM’s twice cancelled visit to India earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Modi-Johnson meeting will be followed by a leader-level COP26 event entitled Action and Solidarity: The Critical Decade, with Modi set to deliver India’s national statement on the country’s climate action to the delegates soon after.

“India is among the top countries in the world in terms of installed renewable energy, wind and solar energy capacity. At the WLS, I will share India’s excellent track record on climate action and our achievements,” Modi said in a statement ahead of the summit.

“I will also highlight the need to comprehensively address climate change issues including equitable distribution of carbon space, support for mitigation and adaptation and resilience building measures, mobilisation of finance, technology transfer and importance of sustainable lifestyles for green and inclusive growth,” he said.

India’s focus at the COP26 Summit will be on the country’s “ambitious” Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) goals for the post-2020 period under the Paris Agreement.

These include a reduction in emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level, as well as achieving 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030.

Predictable and consistent financing of green technology for developing countries will be another key area of focus for India.

At the end of day one of the World Leaders’ Summit on Monday, Modi will join more than 120 Heads of Government and Heads of State at a special VVIP reception at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – one of Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions.

The reception will also involve members of the royal family, including Prince Charles and wife Camilla and Prince William and wife Kate Middleton.

Queen Elizabeth II was due to attend this special reception but pulled out last week after medical advice against travel.

On Tuesday, the final day of Modi’s UK visit, the PM is scheduled to hold a series of bilateral meetings with leaders of Switzerland, Finland, Israel, Nepal, Malawi, Ukraine, Japan and Argentina, as well as a meeting with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

The launch of the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States initiative and a leader-level event entitled Accelerating Clean Technology Innovation and Deployment are also scheduled for Tuesday before the Prime Minister flies back to New Delhi in the evening.

The India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA) will launch a new Green Grids Initiative in partnership with the UK, with an ambition to connect different parts of the world with a common solar grid.

How brand-building can give SMEs the competitive edge

By Lulu Raghavan

The air is filled with a new exuberance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Make In India’ aspires to turn India into a manufacturing hub for the rest of the world. Alongside, his invitation to US companies to participate in India’s industrial space signals a robust development for India’s booming SME community.

At an estimated 64 million in 2016, India has the second largest number of SMEs in the world, with China leading the table. While it has been established that SMEs have the potential to drive industry growth, what most entrepreneurs do not realise is that apart from conducive administrative reforms, some of the challenges they face can often be addressed by one important strategy in their arsenal: Branding.

Branding is a need, not a luxury.

We live in a world that is dominated by brands. A brand inspires trust. It is the single most powerful and unifying statement that embodies an organisation’s culture and values and once well established, can create incremental value. Unfortunately, the importance of branding is often undervalued. There are certain fundamental beliefs that SMEs often have about branding which makes it the last item on their checklist. Let us take a look at some of these:
Branding is for large organizations
As is obvious, most SMEs prefer to focus on perfecting their product and service strategies first. Prohibitive media costs and the bombardment of big campaigns by big brands only shine a spotlight on their scarce resources. However, just as there are SMEs across all industries, they even exist in the branding and advertising categories. As they share the same space, they offer specialised services tailored to the needs and requirements of limited budget clients. Hence, all opportunities must be explored.
Branding is an expensive exercise
There is a common belief that branding involves huge capital investment. Those were the days of traditional media. Fortunately in today’s digital era, brands can and are often built on limited resources. Digital solutions are multiple and better targeted to audiences, giving your brand high visibility at a fraction of the cost of newspaper and television advertising. Also, entrepreneurs are nimble, quick on their feet and are therefore able to strategically use ‘out of the box thinking’ to break through the clutter at lower costs.

We know our customers and vice versa, so we don’t need branding: A possible cover-up for lack of budgets, this is often the biggest hurdle given that growth comes from attracting new, unknown customers and not just from the existing customer base. If you are not out there as a brand, there is no way someone can know about you.

We would rather invest our limited resources in our product and other critical areas of the business: Very often, it is the day to day survival that occupies the time for most business owners leaving branding at the bottom of the strategy chain. Entrepreneurs need to realise that branding is also a critical part of the business building process.

Branding builds bigger, better business
SMEs should shift their mind-sets and make branding an integral part of their business plan rather than an afterthought. It should emerge, grow and evolve along with the business and the company will see a significant difference in the impact it creates.

Building the business and sustaining growth
Growing the business with limited access to capital and resources can prove to be challenging. Branding helps in creating demand for products and services, resulting in faster sales. Even for B2B business, branding creates recognition, reputation and trust resulting in better conversions.

GettyImages-949895874Getty Images

Expanding from local to national to international
No SME wants to remain an SME and always aims for bigger glory. The struggle to expand into national and international markets can be long and tedious. Branding helps in creating awareness and acceptance for products and services across borders, resulting in a faster adoption.

Attracting the right talent
Great brands are trusted. They cushion their stakeholders in security. People want to work for brands that they can entrust their career with, to the extent that they would willingly compromise on a higher salary offered by a smaller or lesser-established brand. This enables SMEs to attract good talent at lower costs which further increases their success ratio.

Getting a premium for products/services
People are willing to pay a premium for an enhanced, consistent brand experience. As a brand, SMEs focusing on the same can afford to charge a premium resulting in better business and sales.

Most of the large brands we trust today have started as SMEs. Whether we talk of Walmart or Virgin in the international space, or closer to home, Reliance, Airtel, Flipkart and Hero Group, among many others.

Today, best practice in corporate brand building involves defining the corporate brand (its purpose, beliefs, verbal and visual identity), integrating the brand in the culture, designing the brand experience for every stakeholder, and then relentlessly managing the brand across the universe of touch points.

Defining the corporate brand
The first step towards building your brand is to be crystal clear on what you stand for and what your promise is. There is no magic formula or model for this. It takes smart people, clarity and creativity of thought, debate, and sometimes more research to determine the right answer. Creating the brand idea also requires a leap of faith to find something that captures the current positive brand equities as well as a vision for the brand’s future.

It needs to be something that is relevant to your audiences but also differentiated; something credible to who you are and also accountable. The more visionary this idea, the more it can sustain in the long term. GE is about imagination at work. Nike stands for winning. Mahindra embodies rise. The brand idea acts as a strategic filter for the future. It should be reflected in the visual and verbal identity of the brand. The logo, colours, typography, photography, materials and tonality should all be in sync with the brand idea.

Integrating the brand in the culture
The smartest companies know that the brand must be lived internally first before being delivered externally. Once the brand is defined, you must spend time defining the culture that will best allow you to deliver what the brand promises. This is not about fancy internal brand launches that then fizzle off after launch day. It is a prolonged programme of engaging all employees with the brand so that it informs their daily behaviours.

Such engagement programmes involve consistent interventions by way of workshops, communication material, e-learning modules and other tools to take employees on the journey from awareness to understanding to belief to action. It can take anywhere from six months to several years depending on the complexity of the organization and the degree of behaviour change involved. The goal should be for everyone in the organsation to have shared brand values which they use every day in the decision-making on behalf of the brand. IBM is one example. After employees are on board, it is important to align other stakeholder groups as well including agency partners, vendors, government partners and others – to inspire them to live the brand promises.

Designing the brand experience for every stakeholder
Once the brand and culture have been defined, examine every relationship the brand has from the stakeholder’s perspective. A useful tool here is the Employee Journey or Customer Journey. It involves mapping every stage of the stakeholder’s relationship with the brand from awareness to loyalty. In each stage touch points are listed and are analysed based on the stakeholder needs. Then, using what the brand stands for, possible solutions are arrived at for various brand interventions across every stage of the journey. Companies typically roll-out such an exercise to improve the customer experience but rarely do they think of using the same tool to define the ideal employee experience.

Managing the corporate brand
It is always possible to do things well once (typically at launch or re-launch) but the hallmark of truly great brands is perseverance. Diligence and patience are needed in huge doses in the game of corporate brand building. Companies that have built valuable brands have institutionalized brand to the extent that there is no difference between doing something for the business and doing something for the brand. They know that perfection in execution is far more important than perfection in strategy.

They employ both simple and sophisticated stakeholder experience management tools to constantly mind the gap between promise and delivery in everything they say and do. If they do make mistakes, they quickly and transparently admit to their failings, solve the problem and get going with their daily task of building the corporate brand, one action at a time.

The rules of branding don’t really change whether implemented in a large organization context or aligning to the needs of an SME. However, there are some additional factors an entrepreneur must keep some important tips in mind:

  • Influence of the entrepreneur: Most SMEs are inpidual driven and born from his passion, personality and values. The brand must personify these to avoid discrepancy between the brand promise and customer experience.
  • Influence of the entrepreneur on the company structure: This is based on his awareness and comfort of brand management, the people chosen to run the branding function and the objectives set for the department.
  • Execution of the vision: The brand experience begins with the entrepreneur. He embodies the spirit of the brand and will affect everything – employee interactions, product and service interactions and other touch points.

To conclude, SMEs need to build and manage their corporate brands with the same urgency as their balance sheets. Investment in brand is investment in business. Brands project power. They are your differentiator in a world saturated with assembly line goods and services. This is the first and most important step towards achieving their goals.

(The writer is MD of brand consulting firm Landor in Mumbai. Founded in 1941, Landor has worked with a broad spectrum of brands including Barclays, FedEx, GE, Nike and Samsung, among others)

Cabinet approves Rs 19,041 cr viability gap funding for BharatNet in 16 states

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved public private partnership mode for the rollout of BharatNet project for broadband services in villages in 16 states with viability gap funding of Rs 19,041 crore, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. He said the total expense will be Rs 29,430 crore to cover around 3,60,000 villages in the 16 states, which includes Rs 19,041 crore to be spent by the government for the viability gap funding.

Prasad said the decision to involve private players was taken after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on August 15, 2020 that around 6 lakh villages in the country will be connected with broadband in 1,000 days.

He said till date, 1.56 lakh out of the 2.5 lakh village panchayats have been connected with broadband.

View: Greening public transport is absolutely necessary; Budget allocation to tackle air pollution is a st

Is Rs 2.6 trillion a big sum? It’s 1.4% of GDP and more than the central Budget for any sector, except defence. Therefore air pollution, the cause of Rs 2.6 trillion loss as estimated by a Lancet study (UNEP, BMGF and ICMR funded), deserves priority attention. More so because air pollution is also responsible for 1.7 million untimely deaths annually. It’s a good beginning, therefore, that the FM has promised Rs 2,217 crore in the Budget to tackle air pollution.

The recent economic order labelled cities as growth hubs and nodes for professional networks. No longer though. Those who can are exiting courtesy digitalisation enabled flexibility, lower cost, enhanced productivity, health and happiness. The migration is particularly evident in metros like Delhi. It’s not surprising that the capital topped Lancet rankings with the highest concentration of annual population-weighted mean PM2.5 (13.8 times national average) and the highest per capita economic loss of Rs 4,500.

A majority (70%) of the pollution is locally generated. This was evidenced by a reduction of over 70% in PM2.5, 80% for NO2, and 40% for SO2 during Delhi’s lockdown. Delhi has received increasing attention, including establishment of the Air Quality Management Commission recently. But others such as Pune, Kolkata and Mumbai face similar challenges due to increasing urban sprawl. Recent AQI numbers from Mumbai corroborate this conclusion.

Therefore, we need systemic pan-India solutions rather than focussing on a few cities. Two options exist to address the challenge. Mitigate at source – move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy or CNG/PNG. Second, end of pipe abatement – trap pollutants emitted by industries, power plants, transport.

Encouragingly, rapid expansion of cheap renewable energy has generated the institutional and corporate impetus to create new markets for electricity. Expanding public transport via electric mobility is thus a win-win strategy to absorb the surplus generation capacity. The government launched a public transport electrification plan in 2015, recast in 2019 (FAME II). It targets providing 7,000 electric buses to 100 cities with a 40% capital cost. Scaling the scheme can transform public transport.

A 2017 Copenhagen Consensus Center study for Vijayawada estimated that every rupee invested in e-buses returned 4X benefits. Metro and suburban rail – Delhi and Mumbai for example – further enhance benefits by deploying e-buses for last mile connectivity. There’s a strong case to prioritise and expand FAME II to provide 50,000 e-buses in large metros.

Emissions from transport must abate for India to meet its NDC target. Increasing the share of public transport (to 50%) and non-motorised (walking and bicycles) transport will be key enablers. This is so because even “green” private vehicles impose social cost by crowding out cyclists and pedestrians.

Can cities finance this transition? Rationalisation and compliance can substantially increase property tax revenues. Cities such as Bengaluru and Jaipur collect just 16% and 5% respectively of the due revenue (Economic Survey 2017). Bond financing, used sparingly, is another option. Recent evidence (Pune, Hyderabad, Lucknow) validates their potential. Bond issuances also require enhanced transparency, accountability and fiscal discipline, desired objectives on their own.

Private investments follow public leads. Centre can champion “green mobility” by enabling public investments. SECI and EESL have demonstrated scaling potential through standardisation and bulk procurement. They can partner cities and private sector to develop innovative business models.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal resulted in 10 million households giving up cooking gas subsidy. Same “Modi Magic” can “crowd-fund” 20% of the cost by appealing to well-off urbanites. Balance can be split between the Centre and states. The financial cost of clean air is Rs 5-6 per citizen per day in metros – half of Lancet estimated economic loss of Rs 12 per citizen per day, as cheap as mobile service and dare we say, a lot more necessary. The time is thus ripe for a new, urban Go-Green movement protecting polluters from themselves.

Union Cabinet approves Inland vessel bill to be presented in Parliament

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday has approved the Inland vessel bill which looks at streamlining vessels running on inland waterways in the country.

The bill will now be presented in the Parliament.

“The Cabinet has approved the Inland vessel bill which will streamline and regulate inland vessels,” Union minister for ports, shipping and waterways Mansukh Mandaviya said during a press briefing.

A total of 4,000 kilometres of inland waterways are operational. “The Cabinet has approved the Inland vessel bill to ensure the safety, security, of vessels running on waterways, besides seeing that their registration is done smoothly,” Mandaviya added.

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The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the proposal of ministry of earth sciences (MoES) on Deep Ocean Mission, with a view to explore deep ocean for resources and develop deep sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources.

The estimated cost of the mission will be Rs. 4077 crore for a period of five years to be implemented in a phase-wise manner.

The estimated cost for the first phase for the 3 years (2021-2024) would be Rs.2823.4 crore.

The deep ocean mission will be a mission mode project to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the government, it said in a statement.

MoES will be the nodal ministry implementing this multi-institutional mission.

The mission will include development of technologies for deep sea mining, and manned submersible, development of ocean climate change advisory services, technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biopersity, deep ocean survey and exploration, energy and freshwater from the ocean, and advanced marine station for ocean biology.

( Originally published on Jun 16, 2021 )

CCEA approves grant-in-aid of Rs 100 crore to Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation Limited

GUWAHATI: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi accorded approval to the proposal of the Department of Fertilizers for Grant-in-aid of Rs.100 crore to Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizers Corporation Limited (BVFCL), Namrup (Assam) to sustain operations of it’s urea manufacturing units.

BVFCL, Namrup is a Public Sector Undertaking formed as per Companies Act, under the administrative control of the Department of Fertilizers (DoF), Government of India. At present, the Company is operating its two vintage plants viz. Namrup-ll and Namrup-lll in the premises of BVFCL in Namrup, Assam. Despite being the first gas based urea manufacturing unit in India and having all the infrastructure and feedstock availability, it has been difficult to maintain reasonable production level from the existing units in a cost effective manner because of their old & obsolete technology.

In order to ensure the safe, sustainable and economic operation of the plants, certain equipment and machineries need to be replaced/overhauled. The minimum functional repair to be undertaken for smoother operation of the plants with procurement of mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and catalyst items etc. shall attract an estimated expenditure of Rs.100 crores and therefore, Gol approved Grant in Aid of Rs. 100 crores to BVFCL.

BVFCL is situated at North-Eastern part of India, which plays an important role of economic growth in the region. The grant in aid of Rs. 100 crore to BVFCL will restore the urea production capacity of 3.90 Lac MT per annum and ensure timely availability of Urea to Tea Industry & Farming Sector in the entire North Eastern region specially Assam. It will also continue the existing employment of about 580 employees on permanent basis and another 1500 persons on ad-hoc basis. Further, 28000 people get benefits indirectly by this establishment.

Petronet sees LNG price surge spurring long-term contracts

Surging liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices are pushing buyers to look at securing long-term contracts possibly with an option for a floor and ceiling price to hedge against extreme volatility, the CEO of top gas importer said on Friday.

“Such a volatility was never seen in the history of LNG markets. We have seen the lowest and the highest prices in the last one year,” A.K. Singh, chief executive of

Petronet LNG

, told the India Energy Forum by CERAWeek, an industry event.

Asia spot LNG prices dropped to a record low of below $2 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) in May last year when coronavirus-induced lockdowns depressed gas demand.

Earlier this month, they rocketed to a record high above $56 per mmBtu. Prices have pulled back to around $30 per mmBtu since, but remain nearly 500% up from last year.

“Every dark cloud has a silver lining and this (high price) situation is pushing people to have more long-term contracts than normally and that could be the best thing for the gas economy across the world,” he said.

Lower spot prices had hurt investment in gas production assets, leading to supply constraints when demand rebounded as the global economy recovered after the pandemic.

Low prices also encouraged buyers to take advantage of spot prices.

Global spot and short-term LNG contracts now account for over 40% of overall volumes, doubling in the last decade, also partly a result of Asian buyers hesitating to make long-term commitments amid energy transition uncertainties and growing supply liquidity, according to Valery Chow, head of Asia gas and LNG research at Wood Mackenzie.

Petronet says long-term LNG is currently costing it $11-$12/million British thermal units compared to spot prices of around $40/mmBtu.

Singh said recent volatility in gas prices is prompting buyers to look at linking long-term gas contracts with a mix of crude and gas indices.

Setting floor and ceiling of prices in long-term contracts would protect both buyers and sellers against volatility, Singh said.

Gas demand in India is set to rise as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target to raise the share of gas in India’s energy mix to 15% by 2030 from 6.2% now.

Meeting that goal requires building new LNG terminals of 70-75 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) capacity in the country, Singh said, as imports of the super cooled gas could rise to 120 mtpa from the current 26 mtpa.

India’s current LNG import capacity is 42 mtpa. New terminals of 19 mtpa capacity are under construction while plants totalling 9-10 mtpa capacity are at the design stage, he said.

PM to interact with CEOs, experts of global oil and gas sector

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with CEOs and experts of the global oil and gas sector on Wednesday via video conferencing, his office said.

This is the sixth such annual interaction which began in 2016 and marks the participation of global leaders in the oil and gas sector, who deliberate upon key issues of the sector and explore potential areas of collaboration and investment with India, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement.

Prime Minister Modi will interact with CEOs and experts of the global oil and gas sector on October 20 at 6 PM via video conferencing, it said.

The broad theme of the upcoming interaction is promotion of clean growth and sustainability.

The interaction will focus on areas like encouraging exploration and production in hydrocarbon sector in India, energy independence, gas-based economy, emissions reduction through clean and energy efficient solutions, green hydrogen economy, enhancement of biofuels production and waste to wealth creation, according to the PMO.

CEOs and experts from leading multinational corporations and top international organisations will be participating in this exchange of ideas, the statement said.

Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri will be present on the occasion.