zoom Golar Power, a join venture company between LNG shipping firm Golar LNG Limited and private equity firm Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, has secured a long-term charter deal for the Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) Golar Nanook.The contract for the 25-year charter was entered into in connection with the Final Investment Decision on the Porto de Sergipe Project under which the US-based firm General Electric was hired to build, maintain and operate a 1.5 GW combined cycle power plant in Brazil.The 170,000 m3 Golar Nanook, which features a length of 292.5 meters and a width of 43.4 meters, is scheduled for delivery in November 2017.The annual EBITDA contribution for Golar Power is currently projected to be USD 39 million with upside potential for Golar Power from FSRU capacity not utilised by the Sergipe power plant, the company said.Located near Aracaju, the state capital of Sergipe, the 1,516 megawatt power station will be the largest thermal power station in South America, Golar Power said. The project is expected to supplement hydropower during dry seasons and help meet growing demand for electricity in the region.
zoom Oregon’s Port of Portland and ICTSI Oregon have reached an agreement to terminate a 25-year lease agreement to operate the container facility at the port’s Terminal 6 following a number of labor issues.“Hopefully, this agreement with the port will make it possible for business to return to the terminal more quickly. However, ICTSI Oregon will continue to address the labor issues that gave rise to its decision to enter into this agreement and will pursue its legal claims against the ILWU,” Elvis Ganda, ICTSI Oregon CEO, said.With the termination ICTSI Oregon will be relieved of its long-term lease obligations effective March 31, 2017, pending approval by the Port Commission.In exchange, the port will receive USD 11.45 million in compensation to rebuild business, as well as additional container handling equipment, spare parts and tools at the terminal.“This is the best opportunity to launch a new strategy to restore carrier service for Oregon and Northwest shippers,” Bill Wyatt, port executive director, said. “While the global carrier industry continues to undergo rapid change, we now have a new path to redefine our future in this business and launch new strategies to bring the terminal back to life,” Wyatt added.The port signed the lease with ICTSI Oregon in 2010 to ensure a long-term funding mechanism for Oregon’s only deep draft international container terminal.The port said it will engage with a broad range of stakeholders including ocean carriers, shippers, railroads, truckers, barge operators, terminal operators and labor to create a new plan to bring business back to the terminal.
zoom The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has taken a step toward implementing modifications to its current tolls structure as its Board of Directors gave its nod to the changes on May 25, 2017.“The proposed modifications safeguard the competitiveness of the waterway, the value of the route, and facilitates the Canal’s goal of providing an efficient and reliable service to the global shipping community,” Jorge L. Quijano, Panama Canal Administrator, said.Following an evaluation and analysis of the comments received on the matter, and once any pertinent changes are incorporated in the proposal, the Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama is set to officially approve the modifications.The date for implementation of the modifications to the tolls structure is planned for October 1, 2017.The approval comes on the back of a proposal for modifications published by the ACP, which signaled the beginning of a 30-day formal consultation period for industry feedback.Over the past few months, Quijano and executives met with Canal customers and industry representatives in Europe, Asia and North America.After analysing the feedback obtained during these meetings, and the current utilization and productivity of the Neopanamax locks, it was deemed necessary to provide additional incentives to the containership segment, the largest user of the Expanded Canal, to revise the tolls for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels, and to reclassify container/breakbulk vessels.For the containership segment, the proposal offers more attractive rates per loaded containers on the return voyage, applicable only to those Neopanamax vessels deployed on the Canal route in the head and back haul legs. This also applies when the utilization rate of the northbound transit is higher or equal to 70 percent, and the time lapse between the northbound and the southbound transit is not greater than 25 days.The proposal also modifies the tolls charged to LPG and LNG vessels, but keeps the units of measurement unchanged, as they have proven to be in accordance with industry standards.In addition, this tolls proposal reassigns the vessels classified by the ACP as “container/breakbulk” into the “general cargo segment.” These vessels are currently part of the “others segment.”“This reassignment will result in more attractive tariffs for customers in this category, as general cargo tolls are lower,” the ACP informed.
zoomImage Courtesy: Sea Machines Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk has teamed up with Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics to trial the tech hub’s perception and situational awareness technology aboard one of its newbuild Winter Palace ice-class containerships.The installation marks the first-time utilization of computer vision, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and perception software aboard a container vessel to augment and upgrade transit operations.The solution chosen by Maersk uses artificial intelligence (AI) to improve at-sea situational awareness, object identification and tracking capabilities, Sea Machines Robotics said.As explained, the system uses advanced sensors to collect a continuous stream of information from a vessel’s environmental surroundings, identify and track potential conflicts, and displays the knowledge in the wheelhouse.By turning to such a system Maersk wants to prove the technology can remove the line of sight restriction from the bridge, providing the infrastructure for a future autonomous collision avoidance system. “This partnership with Maersk marks our first foray into the shipping sector and allows us to positively contribute towards the operator’s technology goals. Our mission is to propel the maritime industry forward with 21st-century technology and it’s exciting to see the growing demand for Sea Machines products,” Michael Johnson, founder and CEO of Sea Machines, said.“For this containership situational awareness program, we aim to prove the technology increases our safety, efficiency, and reliability. Autonomous vessels are not an end goal for Maersk nor is unmanned vessels, what is more of interest is the technology along the journey and the value it brings,” said P. Michael A. Rodey, senior innovation manager, A.P. Moller-Maersk.The duo started exploring their collaboration three years ago, according to Rodey, when the company was developing the concepts of its first autonomous systems.Sea Machines is also managing a pilot program with Tuco Marine, of Denmark, to test the autonomous technology aboard ProZero workboats. Its first industrial-grade control system, the SM300, serves operations looking for level 3 operator-in-the loop autonomy in survey, spill response, dredging and security/surveillance.
zoomIllustration. Image Courtesy: Pexels under CC0 Creative Commons license Norway-based bulk ship operator Belships has finalized its merger with Lighthouse Group after receiving an approval of the merger plan by the extraordinary general meeting on October 26.The company concluded the merger between its wholly-owned subsidiary, Belships Chartering AS, and LHS Holdco AS, LHS Holdco II AS, LHN Holdco 1 AS and LHN Holdco 2 AS, on December 10.Upon completion of the merger, Belships issued 127,7 million consideration shares to the shareholders of the assigning companies, and following the issuance there are 175,1 million shares outstanding in Belships, each with a nominal value of NOK 2.The new share capital of the company is NOK 350.2 million.Following completion of the merger Sonata AS owns 10% of the shares and votes in the company, while Kontrari AS and Kontrazi AS own 68.8%.
zoomIllustration. Source: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license Containership charter owner Global Ship Lease has secured a term loan of up to USD 37 million from Hellenic Bank Public Company Limited.The facility agreement was signed on Many 23, 2019, and would be used to partially finance the acquisition of three 7,849 TEU containerships, according to the company.The Hellenic Bank Facility is available in three tranches, that have a final maturity date of the earlier of November 30, 2024 and the fifth anniversary of the utilization date of such tranche. The loan is repayable in equal quarterly installments with a bullet payment of USD 4 million at its maturity.Once fully drawn, the Hellenic Bank Facility will be secured by first priority ship mortgages on the three acquired vessels, assignments of earnings, insurances and charters exceeding 11 months, as well as pledges of certain bank accounts and membership interests of each subsidiary acquiring a secured vessel.To remind, Global Ship Lease agreed to expand its fleet with the three 2004-built Post-Panamax containerships earlier this month. The company would pay USD 48.5 million for the trio, being acquired from Bremen-based ship owner Zeaborn GmbH, according to VesselsValue data. The vessels in question are the MSC Ningbo, E.R. Montecito and E.R. Santa Barbara.Upon delivery at the end of May, the first vessel commence a five-year charter with Danish shipping major Maersk Line. The two other vessels are expected to join their new owner during the third quarter and will commence three-year charters with Maersk Line, with two consecutive one-year extensions at the charterer’s option.
“We see significant potential in using LNG as a fuel for sea and river vessels thanks to its economic and environmental advantages,” Oleg Melekhin, Director General of Gazprom Gazomotornoye Toplivo, said.“The newly-signed memorandum will allow the parties to consolidate their efforts and expertise in this strategic area,” Melekhin added. Gazpromneft Marine Bunker, United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) and Gazprom Gazomotornoye Toplivo have teamed up on the expansion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as marine fuel in Russia.The parties signed a memorandum of cooperation and strategic partnership on September 5, during the 5th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.The companies said they intend to cooperate in developing LNG-powered vessels, interacting with potential consumers from among shipping companies, building infrastructure for LNG bunkering, and creating an up-to-date legal and regulatory framework for the use of LNG as a motor fuel.#Gazprom Gazomotornoye Toplivo, Gazpromneft Marine Bunker & USC agree on strategic partnership: https://t.co/ONazAffWWL pic.twitter.com/lnCCqXkh0S— Gazprom (@GazpromEN) September 5, 2019
Atlantic Canada’s organic community will get together next week to look at the opportunities and challenges that are evolving within the sector. The Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN) will hold it’s annual conference and trade show at the Old Orchard Inn near Wolfville from March 2 to 4. “The organic sector of agriculture is appealing to new entrants who are bringing new ideas, new investment and new energy to our rural communities,” said Nova Scotia Agriculture Minister Ron Chisholm. “Many people have moved to Nova Scotia to farm organically because of the quality of life, the clean environment and the potential opportunities in agriculture.” The conference, called Organic Prosperity — Rooted in Community, will feature keynote speaker Janine Gibson, president of the Canadian Organic Growers, and a debate on the future of organics on Thursday, March 2. The organic trade show, with more than 30 exhibitors, will be held on Thursday, March 2, and Friday, March 3. The public is invited to attend the Wolfville Farmers’ Market in the barn of the Old Orchard Inn, free workshops and tours of local organic farms on Saturday, March 4. For more information call 1-866-322-2676 or see the website at www.acornorganic.org .
The Canso Causeway has reopened to traffic today, Jan. 2. It was closed on Thursday, Jan. 1, and earlier today, Jan. 2, due to a winter storm and whiteout conditions. Winter conditions continue and whiteouts may develop suddenly. Drivers are advised to proceed with caution. More information on road conditions is available by dialing 511 for provincial highway conditions, or 1-888-432-3233 for local road information. -30-
L’archevêque Pedro Quintana, nonce apostolique au Canada, fera partie des dignitaires qui viendront célébrer le 400e anniversaire du baptême du grand chef Henri Membertou. « Nous sommes ravis que le représentant du pape au Canada se joindra à nous alors que nous rendons hommage à la vie et à l’héritage de Membertou, renforçons notre foi et célébrons notre culture mi’kmaq, » a dit Deborah Ginnish, directrice générale de la Mi’kmaq Association of Cultural Studies. « La présence de Son Excellence, ainsi que celle de l’archevêque Martin Currie, de l’évêque Brian Dunn et des membres de la Conférence des évêques catholiques du Canada, démontre l’importance de cet anniversaire tant pour le peuple mi’kmaq que pour le Saint-Siège. » L’archevêque Currie, évêque de Grand Falls et St. John’s, Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, célébrera la messe en plein air au lieu historique national de Port-Royal le 24 juin, puis au Halifax Common le 27 juin. L’évêque Dunn, du diocèse d’Antigonish, participera également aux deux messes, qui sont offertes aux gens de toutes les cultures et de toutes les religions. « Il s’agit d’une merveilleuse occasion pour les personnes autochtones, non autochtones, catholiques et non catholiques de se réunir et de célébrer notre histoire commune, de reconnaître notre humanité commune et d’apprendre les uns des autres, » a dit Mme Ginnish. En plus des messes célébrées à Port-Royal et à Halifax, les célébrations du grand chef Membertou 400 incluent un programme de cinq jours d’événements éducatifs et divertissants, notamment un village culturel mi’kmaq, des compétitions de danse et de tambour autochtones, des démonstrations interactives et un concert gratuit présenté par Buffy Sainte-Marie, artiste canadienne bien connu et récipiendaire d’un oscar. Le grand chef Henri Membertou, shaman et prophète mi’kmaq, a été la première personne autochtone à être baptisée dans le territoire qui deviendra plus tard le Canada. Son baptême a non seulement établi une alliance de quatre siècles entre le peuple mi’kmaq et l’Église catholique, mais il représentait aussi le désir des Mi’kmaq d’établir des relations pacifiques avec les nations européennes et préparait le Canada a devenir une nation multiculturelle. Pour obtenir plus d’information sur les célébrations du 400e anniversaire du baptême du grand chef Membertou, consultez le www.membertou400.com.
PICTOU COUNTY: Pine Tree Road Closure Pine Tree Road will be closed to all traffic at the Highway 104 underpass from 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8 until 6 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12. This closure is necessary to allow for the removal of the existing overpass structure on Pine Tree Road. Traffic on Highway 104 will not be affected. Local Area Office: 902-752-6224 -30-
The province is fostering a school environment that respects, celebrates and values racial and cultural diversity. With the release of the Racial Equity/Cultural Proficiency Framework, educators will have a tool that helps meet the cultural needs of all learners. The framework, released today, June 21, was written by the Provincial Racial Equity Policy Leadership Team (PREP), which includes representatives from the Department of Education and school boards. “Nova Scotia has a diverse culture that students and teachers can be proud of,” said Education Minister Ramona Jennex. “I thank the Provincial Racial Equity Policy Leadership Team for their work in creating and maintaining a culturally proficient environment for our students and teachers.” Cultural proficiency is an approach which offers both educators and students knowledge and understanding of how to interact with people. “The recommendations outlined in the framework will help the province advance and maintain fairness and equity in the education community,” said Sylvia Parris, multicultural education consultant, Department of Education. “Teachers and administrators can use the framework as a guide to support the development and implementation of school-based activities designed to engage learners, their families and the community.” The Racial Equity/Cultural Proficiency Framework is available at www.ednet.ns.ca .
Eight women in Annapolis Royal will receive help to improve their skills and re-enter the workforce through the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers. The announcement was made today, Nov. 30, by Premier Stephen McNeil and Member of Parliament Greg Kerr on behalf of Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development). “This program helps people turn their great talents and life experiences into new opportunities,” said Premier McNeil. “These women will now have the skills and the confidence they need to not only re-enter the workforce but to start their own businesses and create jobs for others in their communities.” Together, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia are investing over $78,000 in the Western Area Women’s Coalition’s project to help participants gain entrepreneurial skills so that they can establish their own local businesses. “The government’s top priorities are creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity”, said Mr. Kerr. “Through the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers, we are helping unemployed older workers in Nova Scotia develop the skills they need so they can find jobs.” The project will help participants prepare for self-employment through training focused on marketing, budgeting, financing, operational planning and management. “Over the last few years, this program has provided training and employment for many women in the Annapolis area, benefitting both them and their families,” said Della Longmire, executive director of the Western Area Women’s Coalition. “Not only does it provide women with essential skills to open a new business, it also teaches us that a new journey can begin at any age.” The Targeted Initiative for Older Workers is one of the government of Canada’s initiatives that help unemployed Canadians stay connected to the job market, while addressing skills shortages. To date, it has targeted more than 32,000 unemployed older workers across Canada, including more than 1,100 in Nova Scotia. The initiative provides retraining for new careers and supports the government of Canada’s broader strategy to create an educated, skilled and flexible workforce. To learn more about Canada’s Economic Action Plan, visit www.actionplan.gc.ca .
Dix membres de la communauté acadienne et francophone ont été reçus dans l’Ordre de la Pléiade lors d’une cérémonie qui a eu lieu à Province House, à Halifax, aujourd’hui 8 mai. L’Ordre de la Pléiade est une initiative lancée par l’Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie en 1976. Cette distinction internationale est accordée aux personnes qui se sont particulièrement distinguées dans la promotion de la langue française. La section néo-écossaise de l’Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, qui est gérée par le Bureau du président de l’Assemblée législative et qui inclut tous les membres élus, a présenté des mises en candidature à l’Ordre de la Pléiade lors de la réunion de janvier du Bureau de l’Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie. « Le dévouement de ces membres de la communauté acadienne et francophone envers leur communauté et la francophonie de la Nouvelle-Écosse est exemplaire, affirme Lena Metlege Diab, ministre des Affaires acadiennes et de la Francophonie. Je reconnais et je célèbre les contributions inestimables de ces dix Néo-Écossais et Néo-Écossaises remarquables à la dynamique communauté acadienne et francophone de la province. » Les dix Néo-Écossais et Néo-Écossaises ont été honorés pour leurs contributions à la communauté acadienne et francophone dans les domaines de l’éducation en français langue maternelle, de la radiodiffusion communautaire, du développement communautaire, de la musique, de l’écriture, de la santé, des droits de la femme et de la préservation de la culture et de la langue française. Les récipiendaires ont reçu le grade de Chevalier. Il s’agit de l’un des cinq grades de l’Ordre de la Pléiade qui est remis à des gens du monde politique, social, scientifique ou littéraire. « C’est un honneur pour moi de célébrer les récipiendaires de l’Ordre de la Pléiade cette année pour leur passion, leur dévouement et leur engagement envers la préservation de la langue française et de la culture acadienne et francophone, souligne Chris d’Entremont, président de la section néo-écossaise de l’Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie. Grâce à leurs contributions, les générations futures pourront préserver leur langue et assurer le dynamisme de leur culture dans notre province. Nous les en remercions. » L’Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie compte des sections en Afrique, en Amérique, en Asie-Pacifique et en Europe. Son mandat est de promouvoir la démocratie, la primauté du droit, le respect des droits de la personne et le rayonnement international de la langue française et de la diversité culturelle.
Paris: Serena Williams heads into this year’s French Open as an outsider for a Grand Slam title for possibly the first time in 20 years, with questions surrounding her fitness after a poor start to the season, while Naomi Osaka needs to rediscover her best form to solidify her position at the top of the women’s game with a third straight major crown. The 37-year-old Williams is still waiting for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam triumph, with her last victory coming at the 2017 Australian Open shortly before taking a break from the sport due to pregnancy. Also Read – We don’t ask for kind of tracks we get: Bowling coach ArunShe impressed initially after returning, but last year twice fell just short of drawing level with Margaret Court’s mark, losing in the Wimbledon final to Angelique Kerber before her infamous meltdown en route to another final defeat by Osaka at Flushing Meadows. Williams’ 2019 campaign has not gone to plan so far, with a series of injuries seeing her manage just four matches since her Australian Open quarter-final exit to Karolina Pliskova. But she is confident her work off the court can help her find her best game in the biggest tournaments. Also Read – Bastian Schweinsteiger announces retirement, could join Germany set-up”I actually haven’t been able to train or practice a lot. I was out much longer than I expected,” admitted the three-time French Open champion last week in Rome, before pulling out of the tournament ahead of a second-round tie with sister Venus. “But I did everything I could to stay fit. I knew that I love the clay season and I wanted to be a part of it. “It’s not about today or tomorrow. For me obviously it’s about playing well at all the big moments… Obviously the Slams, etc, just getting ready for those events.” World number one Osaka has not been overly struggling since surprisingly splitting with coach Sascha Bajin in the wake of her Australian Open title. But the Japanese star has not won a title since, and like Williams, withdrew from the Italian Open through injury before her quarter-final against Kiki Bertens. It has still been the 21-year-old’s best-ever clay-court campaign, having also reached the last eight in Madrid and the semi-finals in Stuttgart, and she feels her big-hitting game is now ready for the red dirt. “I’m kind of comfortable with it now. It’s just like I randomly slip. I feel like if I can get that under control, I’ll be good,” Osaka, who has never reached the second week in Paris, said. She also does not feel that her lack of a title since Melbourne will have a large bearing on her Roland Garros prospects. “I can’t necessarily say it’s been ups and downs because if I think about it, it’s definitely been going up,” she said. “Every match that I’ve played, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve tried to take what I’ve learned into the next match. I think I’ve done that well.” Reigning champion Simona Halep will enter the tournament somewhat under the radar with much of the focus on Williams and Osaka, but the Romanian remains the world’s most consistent player on clay. The three-time French Open finalist is the bookmakers’ favourite for the title, despite having lost both her finals so far this year and being knocked out in her first match in Rome by Czech youngster Marketa Vondrousova. But she will be the third seed in Paris and a name everyone will want to avoid in the draw. “I can’t expect anything because to be a defending champion in Grand Slam is for (the) first time for me, so it’s something new,” said Halep, who won her maiden major title 12 months ago in her fourth final.
London: Afghanistan opener Mohammad Shahzad will miss the rest of the World Cup after suffering a knee injury, tournament organisers revealed on Thursday. Wicketkeeper-batsman Shahzad will be replaced by Ikram Ali Khil in a blow to the World Cup minnows, who have lost their opening two matches. The 32-year-old scored just seven runs against Australia and Sri Lanka before the injury curtailed his tournament. “The ICC has approved Ikram Ali Khil as a replacement player for Mohammad Shahzad in the Afghanistan squad for the remainder of the tournament,” an ICC statement said. Also Read – We don’t ask for kind of tracks we get: Bowling coach Arun “Wicketkeeper Shahzad has suffered a knee injury which has ruled him out of further participation in the event.” Shahzad had retired hurt after suffering a knee injury in Afghanistan’s World Cup warm-up fixture against Pakistan. While he featured in their opening games against Australia and Sri Lanka, the aggravated injury has ruled him out of the rest of the competition. Since the 2015 World Cup, Shahzad has been Afghanistan’s second highest run-scorer in one-day internationals with 1843 runs in 55 innings.
What did the recently concluded NITI Aayog meet chaired by the Prime Minister of India achieve in real terms? How many of its recommendations of the past four meetings were considered by the Union government with real help being extended to states which were described by the PM as members of Team India? Like in the earlier four meetings, the fifth meeting was also expected to discuss important subjects. The council, the apex body of NITI Aayog, includes all Chief Ministers, Lieutenant Governors of Union Territories, several Union Ministers and senior government officials. Also Read – A special kind of bondHeaded by the Prime Minister, the Governing Council meets regularly, and its first meeting took place on February 8, 2015. In the first meeting, the Prime Minister laid down the key mandates of NITI Aayog such as fostering cooperative federalism and addressing national issues through active participation of the states. The second meeting of council on July 15, 2015, reviewed the progress made by the three sub-groups of Chief Ministers and the two task forces. Also Read – Insider threat managementIn the third meeting of the council on April 23, 2017, Modi had pitched for conducting simultaneous elections of the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies and shifting to a January-December fiscal year. The fourth meeting of the council on June 17, 2018, deliberated upon measures taken to double farmers’ income and the progress of government’s flagship schemes. None of the outcomes of those meetings took real shape in effect. The fifth meeting among others discussed subjects including major issues concerning water management, agriculture, and aspirational district programme. Besides, the council also deliberated on security issues in districts impacted by left-wing extremism in states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The best example of flouting NITI Aayog recommendations is that of Telangana State wherein despite it recommending a grant of Rs 24,000 crores for Mission Bhagiratha and Mission Kakatiya, the Centre did not give even a single rupee. Even for the world’s largest multi-stage lift irrigation, Kaleshwaram Project, which will provide assured irrigation to 45 lakhs of acres in Telangana besides meeting drinking water and industrial water requirements, the Centre has not given a single rupee despite the NITI Aayog recommendation. Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, during the third NITI Aayog meeting, pitched for various measures to pull the farming sector in the country out of distress. CM brought to the notice of NITI Aayog and PM about several steps to address the agrarian distress and to revive the farm sector in Telangana and to revamp the rural economy by reviving traditional activities such as sheep rearing, fisheries dairy, etc. KCR requested the Central government support to such initiatives by the state governments to address the agrarian distress. Nothing happened subsequently. At the fourth meeting of NITI Aayog, Chief Minister KCR asked the Centre to encourage fast-growing states such as Telangana by giving tax incentives if additional devolution of funds linked to performance is not possible as the prosperity of the country lies in the growth of states. He also wanted to link the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to agriculture as part of the need to focus on agriculture and allied activities as an integrated sector. Stressing on the need of cooperative federalism, often talked about by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the CM wanted more freedom to states in the implementation of schemes in the areas such as health, education, urban development, agriculture, and rural development. CM also mentioned about Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu scheme. No concrete steps were initiated to take cognizance of CM KCR’s suggestions nor, for that matter, any other CM’s suggestions. In fact, CM while participating in a discussion on “Emerging Markets at Cross Roads” at the World Economic Forum Meeting in China in September 2015, strongly supported initiatives of PM and his concept of NITI Aayog. He said, “In place of the earlier Planning Commission an organisation called NITI Aayog consisting of all the Chief Ministers of all the states with Prime Minister as its Chairman has come into existence. We call this as Team India. With Prime Minister as Chairman and CMs as members, we all together plan the development of the country as a whole and also the states’ development as well”. Is it happening the way he anticipated then? Against this background, the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog was held under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhawan on June 15. It was attended by 26 chief ministers and others. Telangana CM did not attend the meeting may be due to preoccupation with prior commitments. As usual, setting the tone of the meeting, PM mentioned about Team India concept and highlighted with all lofty narratives of the importance of NITI Aayog meet as a platform to inspire cooperative federalism, to collectively combat poverty, unemployment, drought, pollution, pockets of under-development and all such factors that constrain India’s progress. As in the earlier four meetings, PM welcomed constructive discussion and suggestions made by various Chief Ministers and assured the Council that these suggestions would be seriously considered in the course of the decision-making. There was broad consensus on reducing water wastage, promoting efficient water conservation practices across states, with rain-water harvesting to be undertaken at the household and community level with proactive policy and investment support. Various Chief Ministers presented best practices from their respective states which can serve as templates for replication across the country. The Council also deliberated upon a closely related and deeply important issue of drought management and associate relief measures. It also reviewed the implementation of the Aspirational Districts Programme. PM also reaffirmed the commitment of the government to combat left-wing extremism. As usual, the courtesies were exchanged and the Prime Minister thanked chief ministers for their suggestions and reiterated that the Union government is keen to partner with states and work together for India’s development. The NITI Aayog which was mandated with fostering cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with states on a continuous basis, recognising that strong states make a strong nation has not been successful in its objective. Though it seeks to design and assist the implementation of strategic, long-term policy frameworks and programme initiatives of state governments, it never gives any proper directive to the Union government to realise this. The Governing Council, which is supposed to embody the objective of cooperative federalism seldom adheres to it. (The author is Chief PRO to Telangana CM. Views expressed are strictly personal)
New Delhi: Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday said the government was committed to “strategic disinvestment” of Air India due to “unsustainable debt burden” but promised that the national carrier will remain with an Indian entity. Responding to supplementaries during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha, Puri also said that though Air India was doing “extremely well”, the debt burden on the carrier was unsustainable. He said the decision on Air India’s privatization was for the benefit of citizens and the government will do its best to ensure that the company was purchased by an Indian entity. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep”It is not the government which has failed to attract the passengers. Air India in fact is a first class asset. It has 125 planes. Half of them fly to 40 international directions and 80 to domestic destinations. It is doing extremely well. “The problem is that it has taken an unsustainable debt burden. It is servicing of that debt burden which is a problem,” Puri said. Replying to a question from Congress member Manish Tewari, the Minister said: “Previous attempts to disinvest the carrier could not succeed. But now the government has learnt its lessons and a mechanism will ensure the move (succeeds) this time… Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs”But the government wants the airline to remain in Indian hands and the disinvestment mechanism will take care of the details,” Puri said. The Minister also told the Lower House that when the Pakistan airspace was closed following a stand-off between the two countries, Air India had to spend an extra Rs 430 crore on longer routes. Puri said it was only a “narrative” that the domestic civil aviation market was declining. “In fact it has seen a steady annual growth of 17 per cent. Contrary to speculation, the number of flights haven’t gone down either.”
Kolkata: A youth, who was suffering from cardiac and bronchial diseases, died due to his illness at the Sealdah railway station on Sunday.According to police sources, Maheswar Mondal, (32), a resident of Mandirbazar in South 24-Parganas, had visited many state-run hospitals in South 24-Parganas but his health problems were not properly detected. Moreover, he could not afford the treatment due to financial crisis. His 75-year-old mother Padma Mondal recently came to know about an ayurvedic doctor at Nasibpur in Hooghly. On Sunday, Padma along with one of her neighbours, took Maheswar to Nasibpur. While returning home Maheswar fell ill and started throwing up at the platform number 1 of the Sealdah Railway Station. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersAfter a few minutes, Maheswar reportedly fell asleep on his mother’s lap. Some passengers also offered money to Padma thinking she was a beggar. Sealdah Government Railway Police (GRP) was informed. A doctor from the Eastern Railway arrived and declared Maheswar dead. On Monday, police arranged for a quick autopsy and made arrangement to sent Maheswar’s body home. Some of his neighbours received the body. The surgeon who conducted the autopsy said no foul play was detected in the case.