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Electricity Act 2020: Analysis and Perspectives

The industrial consumer who consumes in bulk should be cross subsidized rather than the present practice of they cross subsidizing the urban consumers

Arup Roy Chouhdury

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Electricity act

Preamble-An Electricity act was required historically to consolidate the laws relating to the electricity sector and allow the private sector participation. Today after 75 years of independence and almost 20 years of enactment of EA 2003 do we still require an imperial colonialist control mechanism in free India? This attempted draft is nothing but tweak of the old act. We could have done better to think on a fresh and virgin board at the Electricity sector as it is, today. Generation and reaching power to the last consumer is no more an issue, as proclaimed by us in various national and international platforms. Transmission also to a great extent has become free from any requirement of hand holding because of the central and private transmission set ups. Distribution, theft and financial health remains a major concern. These are state subject and must be left to states to sort out their specific state problems. The central generators and the electricity exchanges can transparently declare the tariff at which these states have purchased power and then the consumer themselves dictate the electricity tariff and force the states to clean up their act.

There are new areas where the policy makers need to look at and if they feel a hand holding is required introduce an Act that too with a limited shelf life of the Commissions. Solar power is one such area which needs to be specially treated in this Act. Almost 80% of our solar cells are imported. Using various financial modeling price quoted, needs to be checked and re checked. The life of large solar generating units which are now being treated at par with Thermal units. Life availability of 25 years is yet to be seen for solar stations where as we have several Thermal Power stations which are running in our own country for 40 years plus. The loss of generation and our capability of operations and maintenance of this huge areas of solar cell are yet to be seen. The new Act should seriously look at encouraging unit’s set up with indigenously manufactured solar cells even if they have to be allowed to be bundled with cheaper conventional power as a hand holding mechanism. Govt. can provide some subsidy to lower their power cost for them for some time and they could operate their units during “no peak” hours. This will increase domestic manufacturing capacity and also reduce cost due to economy of scale.

For Hydro this Act must look at how to encourage building the entire potential of our country. An empowered body of cross representation from Security, Environment etc. working under the Home Ministry (if possible PMO) is a possible solution. Bhakra Nangal should be our bench mark for Hydro projects. Many Hydro projects were abandoned after substantial investment more due to individual and political reasons. Post Covid the environmental assessment may yield positive results.

Across our country Bio mass and other type of small generators will have to be encouraged specially to consume the farm waste and crop stubble / residual. These have to be given a special platform encouraging NGO’s and other Village Panchyats with “off grid” option for sale of their generation. Here again the strong role of the District Administration is required.

The Authorities created for hand holding these sector must be headed by a person who has been fully involved with the sector and should have technical knowledge to understand the intricacies and can understand and meet the wave length the engineers from state and central organizations who frame the demands before allowing any relief. Adequate amendment have to be made to ensure that these are not made mandatory positions for retired Judges or bureaucrats. Then only they would be able to see through the hidden agenda and counter the demands made on the tariff. Ultimately any cost allowed by them will get loaded on the consumer of electricity who are at the bottom of the pyramid. They should also have commercial knowledge to understand that the aim is to increase consumption and drive the economy. The industrial consumer who consume in Bulk should be cross subsidized rather than present practice of they cross subsidizing the urban consumers. Rules must be made to see how rural consumer can be encouraged. Those setting up economic units and generate employment for rural people. This will create growth centers in Villages encouraging population to find employment in their own villages rather than running to towns and creating slums where theft of electricity is rampant. The provision of “time of the day” metering/ tariff should encourage these manufacturing units to run at night thus consuming cheaper power and reducing the price of domestic produce which are unable to compete internationally one of the reason being our huge production cost.

Retrospect Did Electricity act 2003 achieve what it set out to achieve? The act was enacted to consolidate laws relating to generation, transmission, and distribution and trading of electricity with following objectives:

1. supply of electricity to all areas by adding generating capacity ,

2. rationalization of electricity tariff i.e. provide cheap and affordable power to the consumer,

3. protecting interest of consumer by providing reliable and cheap power

4. Open out electricity to create competition and transparency in pricing

In terms of adding generation capacity in the country and reaching it to the last mile, we could say the goal has been achieved, especially when from being a country where generation capacity was less than the demand; to an electricity surplus situation when we are able to export to neighboring countries, even if our own per capital consumption remains a third of China.

However, after 17 years of EA 2003, we failed in providing the cheapest / affordable electricity to the ultimate consumer. Thus failing to protect the interest of the customer and justifying the poor per capita consumption and our inability as a nation to convert electricity to drive our GDP growth.

The Generation sector has been opened up to transparency and competition by establishing exchanges but the tariff fixation of a sizeable number of generating plants through Central and State regulator makes the competitive tariff a mockery. Often these rates are also not very transparently fixed.

To rectify the situation it has been thought necessary to have an amendment with a new act EA 2020. In my opening for Generators, this not required at all because electricity act 2003 already provided for competitive tariff through a transparent bidding process through it section 62 & 63 and generation should migrate totally to 63. Hand holding beyond 17 years is not required. All the generators would be required to bid for or to go through the competitive bidding and thus will emerged the cheapest electricity price for the consumer.

However, it is strongly recommend here that a coal regulator is put in position in our country. To make the power cost competitive, transparent and cheap cost of coal should be free on inefficiencies, theft better mining technique to provide clean washed coal for the power plants. The cost and transportation of coal is a sizeable component of the price of power and hence could be in the preview of the Coal regulator.

The fact that India remains one of the largest coal bearing country in the world and Coal is an energy resource which is freely and domestically available in our own country, is reason enough for not moving away from coal generation. Any other source of fuel like Oil or gas have to be imported and increases our forex expenditure and is also subject international price variation is better avoided when as a nation we are moving towards self-reliance. The effect of Coal on environment is an issue which needs to be tackled separately by a task force and there are methods available to address the concerns. The coal regulator will therefore fix the price of the coal at each of their plants across the nation and the variable cost (fuel cost) of generation can be known transparently. (since the heat rate of the generators and the calorific value of the coal will be in public domain). The fix cost of insulation of plants has already been well established. (the maximum fixed cost of electricity would be declared by the CEA). Clause 62 (1) of EA 2003 has already mandated the “fixing of maximum ceiling of tariff” as a bench mark.

Power portability Power portability is it the same as “carrier and content”

Unlike mobile phone here we need cables which historically belong to the Govt Discoms. These lines are all overhead and obsolete requires replacement by underground cable network. New Act can look at encouraging entrepreneurs in this area that will greatly complement the Power Portability and Pre paid metering of Power.

For industrial supply it can be adapted straight away.

CRUX of my response to proposed EA 2020 As a country we cannot ignore that Coal is the only energy which we have in abundance (large reserves are burning underground) in our country. Post Corona all countries are realizing the virtue to look inwards for basic needs. Power is the driver of economy and must grow at a faster rate than GDP in the interest of prosperity of the Nation. We have somehow bungled to harness our huge potential of Hydro Power and we must now make amends of our mistakes and create a separate the National Hydro Policy separating it from National Renewable Policy. Initial investment are high, gestation period is more and terrain is treacherous and over time has developed fear of insurgency. We cannot handle these in separate silo’s and create a National Body to give comfort for NHPC & private sector to open up more project sites simultaneously so that we can have 1,50,000 MW of Hydro generation by 2030.

For Coal Based Plants Regulator in the generating sector has to be disbanded and no further regulation authority must be created. This will reduce a lot of overhead cost ultimately loaded on the tariff paid by the consumer. EA 2003 through sections 62 &specifically 63 has clearly specified that tariff arrived through competitive process of bidding will be in the best interest of the consumer. Hence all procurement of electricity should be through the exchanges which have now stabilized and matured in the country. This would seem like a bohemian approach but if regulator is needed beyond 20 years, the sector will never be off “crutches” .

The leadership of our country is propagating that there should be no role of Govt. in business, we are unable to break out.

How will it works: a. The generating company would sell their power at the switch yard / bus bar of the beneficiary (Transco central or state) based on schedule received from the load dispatch center and bill on the competitive tariff arrived through transparent tender at the exchange.

b. Before giving the schedule the Load dispatch Centre will check that the beneficiary has a valid LC which can be charged by the generator immediately 80% and rest 20% before next dispatch. This will give some comfort to buyer and will also meet the input cost of the generator immediately. Without checking valid LC the dispatch center will not give the schedule and thus this will work as the payment security mechanism.

c. Based on the average cost data on installation of power plants through transparent (open tender with reverse auction provision) and audited(CAG) procurement system, the CEA will declare maximum the fixed in tariff and hence reduce the chance of Gold/ Platinum plating. At today’s prices Rs.1.50 per unit is a fair price.

d. The Coal price should be fixed by regulator for each mine. Infact gradually each mine should be made free of any Govt. control on linkage and allowed to bid for any generator.

Considering all these variables the power generator would offer their price to the exchange like a commodity. Their commercial ingenuity and financial reengineering could increase their profitability and market price at stock exchange for these generating companies.

For Central Generator NTPC and State Generators, they could be allowed to pool their prices and probably would offset high tariff in units set up a non-viable areas due to political or other geographical compulsions since they will earn more profits from their depreciated but efficiently maintained plants. This will compensate them for having made investments at a time when private investors were hesitant to make large investments in Power. Ultimately the efficient and well run private plants would catch up and run a profitable business. For those who have misused the EA 2003 and colluded with states to Gold/Platinum plate their plants would have to sell, in distress, and unscrupulous lenders will have to face heavy hair cuts. They would however come under purview of the ECEA.

The Coal Generating units would have thus complied with the Statement of Objects & Reasons of any Electricity Act 2020 i.e. promoting competition therein, protecting interest of consumers and supply of electricity to all areas, rationalization of electricity tariff i.e. provide cheap and affordable power to the consumer.

Dr. Arup Roy Choudhury is the Chief Commissioner, Right to Public Service Commission, West Bengal. He has served as the Chairman and Managing Director of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), India’s biggest power generation utility. Choudhury has also served as the Chairman of National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC).

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Opinion

GOVERNMENT ACTS SWIFTLY, MOVES ERRANT IAS OFFICERS OUT OF DELHI

Pankaj Vohra

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The Centre on Thursday night acted swiftly against two IAS officers, Sanjeev Khirwar and his wife, Rinku Dugga by moving them out from Delhi to Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh respectively. The action came after the Indian Express published a report which stated that the IAS couple had misused their position to get the Thyagraj Stadium vacated every evening so that they could do their daily walking on the tracks meant for training athletes. How this was happening should also be a subject of an inquiry since there could be involvement of some more officials in this glaring dereliction of duty. The stadiums are meant for sportspersons and the top priority should always be given to their training and preparedness. However, this particular IAS couple, perhaps intoxicated by the immense power they wielded used it to intimidate everyone so that they could follow their walking regimen on a daily basis. There could be numerous other examples of senior civil servants abusing their positions to show their clout to their peers and others. There was an example of a Delhi police official who was known for getting the petrol from his official car transferred to his personal car.

He would many times get police recruits to line up outside his house and chant Zindabad with his name. The government at that time had taken a lenient view of his deviant behaviour and allowed him to continue in his position in the national capital till he was routinely transferred out to another post. There are stories of how so many IAS officers manage to write books when they should be serving the people at that time. Instead of clearing their files, many of the bureaucrats have secretarial assistance available to them and use that help to dictate the drafts of books which later get published by willing publishers who get these books picked up by various agencies of the government itself. The government of the day has on earlier occasions too acted against civil servants who have been overstepping their boundaries to assert their positions.

The primary task of the bureaucracy is to assist the elected representatives in discharging their duties based on the stipulated policies of the government. The bureaucrats cannot be bossing their political bosses which is very often happening, primarily because a large number of politicians are totally at sea when it comes to understanding the nuances of the administration and are heavily dependent on civil servants. Gone are the days when integrity and civil service were synonymous with each other. Unless and until the political will is strong, the bureaucrats shall always continue to exploit the situation. Delhi has always attracted a lot of attention and therefore, those who get posted here must be carefully selected.

The new Lt. Governor has recently been appointed and shall now have to ensure that the postings and transfers are done carefully and by going through proper background checks. Many IAS officers are back in the city and are awaiting postings. They would obviously get their new assignments shortly. So far as the two deviant IAS officers are concerned, they should be strictly dealt with in accordance with the service rules applicable to the civil servants

Editorial Director: Prof. M.D. Nalapat; Managing Editor: Pankaj Vohra; Editor: Joyeeta Basu; Executive Editor: Bikash C Paul; Printed and Published by Rakesh Sharma for and on behalf of Good Morning India Media Pvt. Ltd.; Printed at: Good Morning India Media Pvt. Ltd, Khasra No. 39, Village Basai Brahuddin Nagar, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, (U.P.-201301); Published at: S-I, 2nd Floor, Green Park, Opp Canara Bank, New Delhi-110016; The Editorial offices: 275 Captain Gaur Marg Sriniwaspuri Okhla, New Delhi – 110065; Mumbai Office: Juhu Hotel, Juhu Tara Road, Santa Cruz-West, Mumbai-400049; Chandigarh Office: SCO-7, Sector 17-E, Chandigarh- 160017; RNI Registration No: Applied For; Title Code No: DELENG19869; For Subscriptions and Circulation Complaints Contact: Delhi: Mahesh Chandra Saxena Mobile:+ 91 9911825289, CISN 0976 – 0008

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Auto & Tech

Nitroex Coin Moves Towards Its Targets

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Nitroex Coin

NTX Token is the native token of the Nitroex cryptocurrency exchange. People who buy Ntx coins will have a 25% discount on the transaction fee they will give in every trading transaction on the nitroex crypto money exchange.

What are the NTX Token Advantages?

In addition to purchasing NTX Tokens, there are many other services, such as the NitroEx Wealth System, which offers its users a share of the company revenues from trading fees that NitroEx generates by providing exchange services. The company sells 25% of the shares and distributes profits as NTX every quarter. Thanks to this system that NTX won, users also get many privileges. Since NTX Token will be used as fuel, inflation and deflation over price are kept under control. You can benefit from NitroEx privileges by being included in the system.

With the Wealth System project, NitroEx Company distributed a total of $1,852,312 worth of NTX Tokens among users who were included in the system in 4 different periods for 1 year. Although Asset System project purchases are currently closed, distributions continue within the scope of the project. It is eagerly awaited by users that the company will start working on new purchases for the project.

How Much is the NTX Token Supply?

Maximum Total Supply of NTX at 11,000,000,000 NTX. The Circulating Supply of NTX is 3,500,000,000 NTX. 250,000,000 NTX Tokens burned. After the token was burned, the Total Supply was 10,750,000,000.

What are NTX Coin’s Achievements in 2021?

  • NitroEx distributed a total of $1,852,312 worth of NTX Tokens to Wealth System investors in 4 different periods during 1 year in the Wealth System project.
  • NitroEx Mobile Application, which has a user-friendly interface, was launched on the Google Play Store and App Store on July 6, 2021.
  • NitroEx Exchange and NTX Token were listed on CoinMarketCap in 2021. Data flow was provided to users for NTX Token.
  • NTX Token was listed on CoinGecko on February 19, 2021.
  • NTX Token was listed on Nomics on March 5, 2021.
  • NTX Token was listed on Hotbit Exchange in 2021 and ranked in the top 50 on CoinMarketCap. NTX Token was traded in pairs NTX/USDT and NTX/ETH.
  • NitroEx celebrated its 1st anniversary on June 27, 2021 and distributed its awards to its investors. In order to better serve its users in its new era, it accelerated its work and organized the NitroEx Listing Festival.
  • NTX Token was listed on ProBit Exchange on October 5, 2021 and ranked in the top 50 on CoinMarketCap. NTX Token is traded on the NTX/USDT pair.
  • The first NTX Token was burned on the Ethereum blockchain by NitroEx on October 9, 2021. By incineration, 50,000,000 NTX was removed from circulation from the total supply of 11,000,000,000 NTX. Public burning is proven on Etherscan.
  • A big step was taken by burning a total of 200,000,000 ntx coins on March 11, 2022. The exchange will burn 20 percent of the total supply and remove it from the market.
  • NTX Token was listed on the LBank Exchange on October 26, 2021 and ranked in the top 25 on CoinMarketCap. NTX Token is traded on the NTX/USDT pair.
  • The announcement was made for the second NTX Token burn. After the preparations are completed, the NTX Token will be burned.
  • Investors using the NitroBot App made 8% profit from their funds in 2021.
  • NTX Token will be used as Fuel Token and by using the “Pay commission with NTX” option, 25% savings in commissions will be achieved.
  • NTX Token increased from 0.0007 USDT to 0.0019 USDT in 2021 according to CoinMarketCap data.
  • As we approach the new year, NTX Token is preparing to make new listing announcements on the top 50 exchanges on CoinMarketCap.

He stated that Ntx coin will continue to progress by taking successful steps in 2022.

On Which Exchanges Is Ntx Coin Available?

You can trade Ntx coins from the following exchanges.

  • Probit Global
  • lbank
  • hotbit
  • Nitroex.io
nitroex coin

The Future of NTX Coins

ntx coin, which is among the promising altcoins of the last period, continues to attract the attention of investors. It is promising for the future of ntx coin that it was last listed on the world-famous cryptocurrency exchange hotbit on March 5 and that the company officials continue their negotiations with the gate.io stock exchange. Regular burning of Ntx coin and listing on many exchanges will contribute to the valuation of ntx coin.

What are the NTX Coin 2022 Plans?

What are the plans for ntx coin 2022, one of the important fuel coins;

  • Entering the top 20 exchanges in the market
  • Reaching the 0.1 cent target within the year
  • Using the fuel coin feature in trade (using it as a payment method in companies such as shell, Bp)
  • To be able to use in world famous fuel and energy companies
  • Increasing the discount rate within the exchange (paying less fees)
  • Increasing social activities and growing the community
  • Increasing transaction volume
  • Increasing the number of whales (holders)

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Opinion

IDEA OF INDIA: FACILE BAD-MOUTHING OR MUCH MORE

Nitin Mehta

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Around 500 delegates, 50 of whom were from abroad, took part in the conference. The conference was called ‘The Idea of India’ and took place in London from 18 to 20 May 2022. It was organised by Bridge India Foundation which registered as a charity in the UK in 2019. It describes itself as a ‘progressive non-profit think tank which will help India watchers to understand India better’. The conference was ostensibly to deliberate on issues like investment, education and green technology. Pushpraj Deshpande, one of the sponsors of the event and founder of the Samruddha Bharat Foundation, said, “the conference was organised to change the narrative in India which was not casteist or communalist.” He further said, “the West is very worried, the UK especially, about racism and communalism in their societies. No UK political party would want to be seen to endorse the systematic targeting of minorities, so how can the West sit silently on what is happening in India? They expect India to be a regional antidote to China. Are they really expecting us to be a regional antidote when we are going the China and Russian way?” Deshpande is a supporter of the Congress Party and his organisation was actually launched by Rahul Gandhi.

Amongst those present at the conference were Gandhi, Communist leader Sitaram Yechury, Congress leader Salman Kurshid, and Mohua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress. Sam Pitroda and Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India were amongst the speakers. Gandhi, in his address to the conference, said, “India was not in a good place and PM Modi does not listen. There is kerosene all over the country and all it needs is one spark.” Gandhi continued that mass action is required to free India from ‘deep state’ organisations like RSS and even CBI! He also remarked that some European bureaucrats complained that the Indian Foreign Service has completely changed and the officers are arrogant! Gandhi also spoke at an event organised by Dr Shruti Kapila, assistant professor of History at Cambridge and Fellow of Corpus Christi College. Dr Kapila is a Congress supporter and has stated that Veer Savarkar (Vinayak Damodar Savarkar) is the Father of new India, presumably under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In her speech, Moitra emphasised, “India needs a multicultural Indian government, not a uni-dimensional narrow one. I do not have to prove my patriotism every time I open my mouth.”

According to The Times of India, meetings were held behind closed doors with senior left-wing politicians and shadow ministers in the UK as well as business leaders, activists, and academics. Amongst the trustees of Bridge India are Suprio Chaudhuri, Chief Learning Officer, ATMC; Ashwin Kumara Swamy, Investment Director Mercia Management; and Raquib Islam, a British civil servant. Author Salil Tripathi and Santosh Bhanot of the Asian Circle are amongst the advisers. The Bridge Foundation is a sponsor of the Asian Achievements Awards. For an organisation which professes to encourage exchange of ideas, there was no one from the BJP among the speakers. No one remotely sympathetic to the ruling party, which has won two elections, was among the speakers. It is obvious that this conference was a coming together of failed left-wing politicians, academics, and evangelical groups. These groups have paid lip service to disadvantaged groups for decades and the overwhelming numbers of people in India have seen through their fake stomach thumping!

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Opinion

Transforming slums via upgradation and delisting: Odisha’s approach

The model for slum upgradation by Government of Odisha, utilising public resources during the ongoing pandemic and ensuring better preparedness against similar health crises in the future, has the potential to be scaled up to other states within the country.

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By Shubhagato Dasgupta, Anindita Mukherjee, Baisakhi Sarkar Dhar

Slums are not a new phenomenon. They have been concomitant to increasing urbanisation and industrialisation as populations boomed . These pockets of informal settlements are characterised by overcrowding, insanitary, unhealthy, and dehumanising living conditions, insecure land tenure, lack of access to basic civic services, education, and health care, among others. While the challenges faced at the slum level are not new, the ongoing pandemic has exacerbated their substandard living conditions while preventing them from practicing seemingly simple preventive measures such as frequent handwashing and maintaining social distancing, threatening more than one billion people worldwide in slums as well as in the non-slum urban areas at large. Those living in slums and informal settlements are also most vulnerable to the economic consequences of a widespread lockdown. The COVID-19 pandemic, through its various peaks, has further heightened the need for a more robust and immediate solution for improving living condition and access to service in slums. Integrating slums within city fabric by slum upgradation has the potential to be one of the crucial interventions that can foster inclusive and resilient cities as we ‘build back better’.

The approach to slum upgrading has changed considerably from the 1950s to the 2000s. Beginning in 1972, the World Bank launched urban upgrading projects to improve services, infrastructure, and housing in hopes of reducing poverty and meeting basic needs (Corburn & Sverdlik, 2017). In the 2000s, the slum upgradation programmes became more comprehensive, calling for an enabling approach combining good policies, community participation, engagement of the private sector and strategies to prevent future proliferation of slums. Through the years, slum upgrading initiatives in countries across the world like Bandung, Indonesia, and Vietnam, among others, have been considered relatively successful; however, upscaling projects from small neighbourhoods to the city and to the state scales remained a challenge.

Slum upgrading is a complex phenomenon as several interrelated components requires to be addressed to implement it successfully. It is not simply about providing basic infrastructures or housing but also about integrating the economic, social, institutional, and community activities that are needed to turn around downward trends in an area . The two most important factors for a slum upgrading programme to be successful are strong political will on behalf of the government and a strong buy-in from communities. However, in most cases, achieving some coherence in the community, finding solutions for a wide range of needs and sustaining political will across government terms remain primary challenges.

Odisha’s approach to the challenge

Although one of the least urbanised states in India, Odisha grew at a rate double that of its overall population during the 2001-2011 period. Moreover, one in every four urban dwellers in Odisha was living in slums (Census 2011) and lacked access to basic infrastructure while occupying only 2- 4% of the urban land . Against this background, Odisha embarked on its journey of providing land rights to slum dwellers and enacted the Odisha Land Rights to Slum Dwellers Act in September 2017, followed by launch of Jaga Mission or the Odisha Liveable Habitat Mission in 2018. By 2021, the GoO distributed more than 70,000 Land Rights Certificate (LRC) across 109 small and medium urban local bodies (ULBs) while according more than 99,000 Land Entitlement Certificate (LEC).

However, as mentioned above, mere according land rights do not improve the living quality in these urban informal settings. The continuum of land rights, from de-jure to de-facto presented a range of opportunities to incrementally transform urban slums and the lives of the people who live there. Accordingly, a ‘Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Slum Upgrading and Delisting in Odisha’ designed to integrate the urban poor settlements into the mainstream city fabric and transform the slums into liveable habitats called Biju Adarsh Colonies (BACs). It was launched on 28th September 2020 amidst the pandemic, and the work was initiated immediately. It intended to benefit the slum dwellers by jointly identifying with the communities the key infrastructure gaps and subsequently filling those gaps by process of upgradation. It focused on improving access to six civic infrastructures i.e. i) in-house water supply, ii) paver roads, iii) pucca stormwater drainage, iv) street lights, v) individual household toilets (IHHL), vi) in-house electricity, and common social infrastructures i.e. vii) Parichaya, signature community centres viii) Open space development including ix) development of childrens’ play areas. The state government’s effort through asset creation and improved service delivery aimed to address the demands of urbanisation and bridge the gap between developmental outcomes and the growing needs of people in the state. This, in turn, translated into increased infrastructure resilience and reduced vulnerability towards health risks like the ones posed by the ongoing pandemic.

Community engagement has been one of the key features of the programme. By stimulating and fostering the capacity of community-based organisations namely the Slum Dwellers’ Association (SDA) and Self-Help Groups (SHGs), the government ensured that not only they become the beneficiaries of the development but also becomes the partner in the process of development instilling a sense of ownership of the process. Moreover, the projects supported climate-sensitive infrastructure development by mandating paver blocks for new roads, LED bulbs for Street Lighting, construction of toilet with Septic Tank, and encouraging the use of solar-powered street lights. These technologies are expected to result in positive environmental impact by subsoil percolation & groundwater recharge, energy conservation, reduction in carbon footprint, groundwater contamination, waterbody contamination, and eventual decline in health hazards.

Complementarity of other infrastructure programmes

Convergence with other ongoing state and central government schemes has been another key constituent of the program. Various government schemes like Urban Wage Employment Initiative (UWEI)/ Mukhyamantri Karma Tatapara Abhiyan Yojana (MUKTA), Buxi Jagabandhu Assured Water Supply to Habitations (BASUDHA), Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), and UNNATI funded the public works component of the slum upgradation under JAGA Mission, covering all parts of the project. While the water supply component is complemented by Mission BASUDHA, which seeks to provide piped drinking water supply to all households in Odisha, Swachh Bharat Mission was leveraged for individual toilets and CT/PTs. It also went ahead to integrate community participation and wage employment scheme with the slum upgradation process to reduce social, economic, and infrastructural vulnerability among the urban poor. The participation was further bolstered by the UWEI scheme launched initially for six months as a COVID-19 response to provide livelihood opportunities to around 450,000 urban poor families. The scheme was converged with JAGA Mission to provide employment to the urban poor by engaging them in creating urban infrastructure for slum upgradation. It not only provided gainful livelihood opportunities to urban poor families during the ongoing pandemic but also created community assets, strengthened community institutions, enhanced ecological resilience, and applied innovative technologies to enhance the sustainability of welfare schemes and measures.

Way Forward

While slum upgrading benefits a city by fostering inclusion, promoting economic development, addressing overall city issues, and improving the quality of life of the urban poor, there remain other challenges with mainstreaming. The upgraded slums, most often than not, remains unaccounted for in the city planning exercise and the upgradation wears off with time perpetuating the slum like situation. Odisha’s slum upgradation program is uniquely designed to tackle this challenge as well. The slums, once upgraded, are delisted and are integrated into the city fabric, thus bringing them within the purview of the statutory planning exercises. This is a step towards making the program sustainable in the long term. Another major challenge is the sustained flow of funds, which the Odisha government also addresses by amending its Odisha Municipal Act-1950 and Odisha Municipal Corporation Act-2003 to provide for internal earmarking of 25 percent fund for urban poor under the head of capital expenditure in all ULBs of the State. This allocation of sum for delivering basic services and infrastructure to slums in the ULB budgets aims at providing for the fiscal requirements and planning needs for the urban poor in the state. Internal resource earmarking aimed to channelize the municipal spending to become inclusive and pro-poor in their approach and functioning.

Informal settlements typically suffer from a lack of access to basic civic and social amenities and remain characterized by dilapidated built structures – increasing their vulnerability considerably. Hence, building forward better from this pandemic will necessitate integrating slums within the city fabric, further fostering inclusive and resilient cities envisioned in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA). With access to all basic infrastructures backed by a strong local body, communities can be more cohesive, more resilient, and better placed to confront economic and social challenges. The model for slum upgradation by GoO utilising public resources during the ongoing pandemic and ensuring better preparedness against similar health crises in the future has the potential to be scaled up to other states within the country. Partnership between government and community along with a demand driven approach is the key to success of programs like JAGA Mission. The only key to this up scaling is to build continued complementarity with other state and national level urban development programmes and develop community partnerships.

Shubhagato Dasgupta is a Senior fellow, Anindita Mukherjee is an Associate Fellow and Baisakhi Sarkar Dhar is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. Views are personal.

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Opinion

UKRAINE IS NOT AFGHANISTAN, BUT…

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Ukraine-crisis is likely to be prolonged with a similar objective responsible for Afghanistan-war lasting for years. Geographically, culturally, histo rically and at numerous other levels, there is no comparison between Afghanistan-wars fought at different periods by United States as well as former Soviet Union and the ongoing Ukraine-war. Ukraine is not Afghanistan. The only similarity is that people have suffered and are suffering the most in both countries. But when superpower and/or major powers’ key interest is their own agenda, why should they be expected to be worry about grievances of common citizens in targeted countries?

Seriously, diplomatic promises, claims, assurances and so forth voiced by any power- which itself cannot claim to be above board in the same area- only sound hollow, including United States as well as Russia. Notwithstanding claims made by US and its allies about former’s aid to Ukraine, helping this country gain an upper edge against Russia, several key factors cannot be side-lined. It is astonishing, US waited for Russian strikes against Ukraine to begin and then started supplying weapons to latter. Weapons and not diplomatic cards have been (and are being) made use of. Secondly, this suggests a motive of Washington was and perhaps is continuance of Russian-Ukraine war. The limited or practically no importance being accorded to diplomatic negotiations for an end to this conflict indicates this. United States is apparently more concerned about continuance of Ukraine-crisis till Russia weakens more. It is equivalent to expecting history to repeat itself. Afghan-ploy was also responsible for collapse of Soviet Union.

Ukraine-crisis, it is feared, spells dangerous signals for other European countries. This refers to plans of Finland and Sweden to backtrack from their policies of military non-alignment and join NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that such a move “would certainly provoke our response.” Notwithstanding diplomatic legitimacy and/or credibility of this stand, what needs greater attention is the havoc that even a minor military move from Russia against these countries can lead to. Chances of American soldiers stepping in to confront Russian soldiers to check such a move may be viewed as non-existent. Those talking of Ukraine-crisis leading to third World War had probably envisaged such a situation, that of American soldiers actually helping Ukraine.

Geographically, terrain of these countries, including Ukraine is different from that of Afghanistan. Besides, spill-over of Afghanistan-war’s negative impact into Pakistan cannot be forgotten. It is difficult to assume that rest of Europe would not be affected by continuance of Ukraine-crisis and if other countries are caught in similar situation. Geographical proximity of Finland and Sweden to Russia cannot be ignored.

Diplomatically, United States is close enough to issue periodic assurances and perhaps also help with weapons. But that’s it. It is high time that European countries judged the situation as per their standing and not as laid out by other powers. Rather than risk facing any war or war-like situation and/or waiting for any external power to decide their diplomatic strategy, it may be more practical of Finland as well as Sweden to have one-to-one talk with Moscow. Waiting for third world countries to help them out may take too long a time and perhaps only worsen the situation.

NATO-diplomacy, inclusion in NATO and other similar diplomatic vibes sound great. But their limitation in spelling peace and relief as well as not permitting conflicts to take place standout by continuation of Ukraine-crisis. Yes, claims have been made by Ukrainian soldiers about having “made it to border” with “enemy state.” Their counter-offensive operations have been described as a “success”. NATO countries are going all out to boost Ukraine’s confidence by appreciating its success against Russia. These are definitely great diplomatic moves but of limited relevance when war is showing no sign of coming to an end. Chances of it spreading further stand out too markedly to be ignored.

Once a war begins between neighbouring countries, prospects of it coming to a quick end may be viewed as remote unless they mutually agree to give greater importance to diplomacy. Ukraine is caught in this trap. United States probably wants this “war,” as suggested earlier, to further weaken Russia, which would according to speculations be viewed by Washington as a major victory. But at what cost?

– Nilofar Suhrawardy

Editorial Director: Prof. M.D. Nalapat; Managing Editor: Pankaj Vohra; Editor: Joyeeta Basu; Executive Editor: Bikash C Paul; Printed and Published by Rakesh Sharma for and on behalf of Good Morning India Media Pvt. Ltd.; Printed at: Good Morning India Media Pvt. Ltd, Khasra No. 39, Village Basai Brahuddin Nagar, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, (U.P.-201301); Published at: S-I, 2nd Floor, Green Park, Opp Canara Bank, New Delhi-110016; The Editorial offices: 275 Captain Gaur Marg Sriniwaspuri Okhla, New Delhi – 110065; Mumbai Office: Juhu Hotel, Juhu Tara Road, Santa Cruz-West, Mumbai-400049; Chandigarh Office: SCO-7, Sector 17-E, Chandigarh- 160017; RNI Registration No: Applied For; Title Code No: DELENG19869; For Subscriptions and Circulation Complaints Contact: Delhi: Mahesh Chandra Saxena Mobile:+ 91 9911825289, CISN 0976 – 0008

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Why India-Japan relations matter in the 21st century

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One should make good people their friends. One who keeps good friends, benefits, and lives in peace. – Rig Veda

Time, when in a span of 15 days (March –April 2022), 11 high-level delegations from foreign countries (including the Chinese foreign minister) visited India, and India is visiting Japan to strengthen the Quad, showing the rise of a new economic coalition or something more or something else?

There have been murmurs on the sidelines about Quad Plus. What about Supply Chain Resilience Initiative? What is this Quad, Quad Plus, and why have Japanese ties become so relevant in recent times under the recent geopolitical environment?

Starting from the historic perspective, relations between India and Japan have been strong for centuries on account of Buddhism which originated in India and spread through entire Japan.

In the last century, in Auust 1942, one of the greatest Indian leaders, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose formed the Indian National Army (INA) with Japanese support and the Japanese-captured Indian prisoners of war.

The offensive from this army (INA) and their grit along with Satyagraha from within led by Mahatma Gandhi, severe losses (suffered by Britishers in WW II), the huge quantum of debt (raised by the UK to fight the war), and the massive cost of maintenance of a plundered nation forced Britishers to give India Independence in 1947.

Just before the Indian Independence in Feb 1946, the soldiers, officers, and personnel who were captured by the Japanese belonging to the Royal Indian Navy (one of the bravest contingents of Indian fighting for Allied forces posing a strong opposition to the Japanese invasion in the Indian Ocean during World War II) and were eventually freed by Japanese (post-WW II) raised a revolt and organized a mutiny to overthrow British.

Indian hearts and Indians’ minds by now were aligned to India and Indian Independence and eventually, Independence came in.

Fast-forward 75 years to the present day, the official reason why the Prime Minister of India visited Japan was to be part of the second physical meeting of Quad. A group of 4 countries, the US, Japan, Australia, and India.

Initiated in 2007 and finally taking shape in 2017, Quad or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue came into existence. Today what is perceived as “Asian NATO” the Core thought process of Quad came into existence in 2004 on account of the Boxing Day Tsunami that killed 2.28 lac people in 14 countries.

From a humble humanitarian helping hand approach Quad has turned now out to be a formidable force to contain the influence of the reign of China in the Asia Pacific region.

Over the last 2 decades with the rise of China, there has been a steep fall in allies China. All 4 founding or Core members of Quad have or continue to have challenging relations with China.

AUSTRALIA, INDIA & CHINA

Starting with Australia. Australia’s largest trading partner is China, Australia is the largest exporter to China (37%) by a mile (the second largest being Japan with 11% exports) and now Australia wishes to reduce its export dependence on China.

Why this change in mind, change in alignment, change in future strategy?

In May 2020, Australia called for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, infuriating China. In April 2021, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne cancels two MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding) signed by the state of Victoria in 2018 and 2019 with China’s National Development and Reform Commission on Chinese participation in infrastructure projects under China’s Belt and Road initiatives.

In April 2022, Australian Minister for Defence Peter Dutton accused China of paying bribes to win international deals. Why this distrust, mistrust, and unease between Australia and China, When Australia’s largest output is absorbed by China?

It’s a long story in itself and it all started with espionage by Huawei – the largest manufacturer of telecom, equipment, smart devices, and consumer electronic items. On the recommendation from the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) concerned with cyber security & espionage, in 2010, Australia’s National Broadband Network quietly rejected Huawei’s bids for the creation of the national broadband network. In 2018 Huawei and ZTE (Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer) were banned from constructing Australia’s 5G network and the saga started.

Once a friend, now a foe, seeking more de-alignment. Somebody’s loss is always somebody’s gain. As Australia was looking to de-align itself from China, India emerged as a formidable, credible, ethical, all-weather partner to Australia.

Swiftly, in April 2022, India strengthened its ties & alliance with Australia by signing the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) that aims at doubling bilateral trade in the next five years to USD 45-50 billion from USD 27 billion as of FY 22.

Presently India is Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner, Australia wants India to be top three export markets by 2035. ECTA was historic in the way that tariffs were removed on more than 85% of Australian goods exported to India. In return, Australia agreed to Indian terms of 96% of Indian goods arriving in Australia to be duty-free.

On the Oil side, India is tying deeply with UAE giving UAE companies equivalent status as compared to Indian businesses for sourcing done by the Indian government on the other hand, with Australia India is finding an ally that shares common insecurity & challenges with another Asian giant China.

Australia on an ongoing basis has backed the US, stating that there is ‘no legal basis to several Chinese claims in the disputed South China sea.

THE UNITED STATES, INDIA & CHINA

The US (United States of America), the second formidable partner in Quad wishes to control its trading partner China’s might and influence in the Asia Pacific region by Quad. Also, the US is an ally of Taiwan and in case of aggression by China to annex Taiwan which China believes is part of the People’s Republic of China will need assistance from Quad allies.

To make the geo-political situation a little more chaotic, a latest news coverage by a reputed publication suggested that the Chinese President, aged 68, is suffering from a cerebral aneurysm, a condition when a bulge forms in one of the blood vessels in the brain with a 50% probability of mortality and Chinese President publicly vowed in 2019 that Taiwan must and will be reunited with China and that China reserves the right to use the force. In such a scenario, the US finds India’s largest military as a natural ally against the largest military in the world.

INDIA

India welcomed its way into the Quad as it enabled India both in terms of economic ties as well as a forging formidable force in case of aggression. India had in the past and recently witnessed conflicts with China (in 2020) in the Galwan Valley, the Eastern region of Ladakh. For decades, India continues to fight and reclaim its rights and control over parts of Aksai Chin, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, and Ladakh that are illegally controlled and occupied by China.

On the economic front, India had an import of 100 billion USD from China with India’s trade deficit with China clocking a whooping USD 69.38 billion in 2021. India surely wishes to replace this as quickly as it can. Quad surely can do wonders.

JAPAN, INDIA & CHINA

The next pillar of Quad, Japan has been India’s oldest ally in development, and both have deep social as well as historic links as covered in the earlier part of the note.

The Japanese investments in India touched USD 32 billion between 2000 and 2019, across all core sectors including automobile, electrical equipment, telecommunications, chemical, insurance, pharmaceutical, etc. What was done in 19 years, nearly one-third more (USD 42 billion) will be done in the next 5 years as investments by Japan in India (Intent & actions remain so)?

In 2014, India and Japan entered into a strategic global partnership, a unique and first of its kind in the world whereby it was agreed (other things as well) that in a specific period of the next 5 years Japan’s foreign direct investment and the number of Japanese companies operating in India to double and the target was met.

As India is important to Japan for its slow or DE growing economy with an aged population to rely on the huge market like India, India is dependent on Japan for its cheap capital to build infrastructure to grow its economy on a fast track and provide large scale employment to Indian Youth who need jobs to sustain the family and country.

China remains Japan’s largest trading partner but the conflict continues with China despite economic ties. The conflict started in 2012, when Japan nationalized the Senkaku islands (the Senkaku Islands are a group of uninhabited islands in the East), sparking widespread protests across China. Since then, China has affected a strategy of active non-acquiescence to Japan’s occupation of the islands.

Though Quad was largely formulated and constituted before Covid, Covid expedited the Vaccination diplomacy, Where Russia (not in the context of Quad) China, India, and the US-led the vaccine manufacturing largely.

In a couple of meetings virtually in 2020, South Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand, Brazil, and Israel, most of which are allies of the US took part and there have been murmurs of having these other nations, which share common anxiety against China can be brought in the group known as Quad Plus.

Covid was handled by all countries differently as per their capacity and wisdom and unique amongst it was and are China, where one witnessed zero-tolerance policy on something which is beyond human control.

Thus world which is largely dependent on China across most goods & services found India as a strong ally and thus came China + 1 policy for the world.

Witnessing the disruptions in the Supply chain caused by Covid and to handle any other equivalent situation better and reduce vulnerability and dependence on China, thus came the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) is a trilateral agreement that was led by Japan, Australia, and India. The core idea of this initiative was to create a “virtuous cycle” of strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth throughout the Indo-Pacific region by sharing best practices, investment promotion, and buyer-seller matching events for supply chain diversification.

Quad, Quad Plus, SCRI are some of the reasons why India visited Japan, but more importantly, to, strengthen ties to fast-track cheap capital flows into India from Japan so that India can continue to remain the Engine of growth for the World, clocking CAGR of 8% real GDP growth.

Interestingly Japan chose India from thousands of miles away as a partner for growth and a friend, and India relied upon a nation far away instead of its neighbours.

As one says, one cannot choose neighbours but surely can choose whom one remains friends with.

Siddhartha Rastogi, Managing Director & COO, Asset Management Vertical of a leading full-service Investment Bank. (The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official view or position of any company or sister concerns or Group company where the Author is presently employed.)

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