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THE JOURNEY AHEAD: ALL ABOUT COP 26 AND ITS ROLE IN ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE

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INTRODUCTIONThe most firm steps are expected from the largest emitters across the globe, to start with, China has to change its path of increasing the emissions till 2030, then cutting down. If they can’t reduce the emissions, at least keep them at current level and then bring down to net zero by 2050. Along-with this, US net zero date is due in 2040, should focus on attaining faster reduction by 2030, same goes with Europe as a whole. In this way, their collective carbon emissions would fall to around 32% (against current 78%) of total carbon budget.

COP-26 stands for 26th conference of parties i.e., leaders from more than 190 countries where negotiators, intellectuals, researchers and citizens came together to curb the threat of climate disaster and climate change. This conference was hosted by UK at Glasgow which is most populous city in Scotland from 31st of October to 12th of November 2021. This conference is also known as CMP16(Kyoto Protocol) and CMA3(Paris agreement) UK Cabinet Minister Mr. Alok Sharma was the president of the COP-26. World leaders were arrived in this COP conference like Elizabeth II eldest son Prince Charles, India’s Prime Minister shri Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, First minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, president of France Emmanuel Macron and many more. The theme of COP-26 was “NET ZERO 2050” for ‘Make a plan for future’. Here, Net Zero means the amount of carbon being emitted from industries, automobiles, etc. is equal to the amount of carbon being sequestered(absorbed) by nature like forests, oceans, wetlands. Suriname and Bhutan are such countries who already attain Net-Zero mark where other countries are planning to achieve this remarkable feat. Bhutan is the only country in the world where carbon emission is in negative and this country is also act as a carbon sink for neighbouring countries. This conference was very crucial because a report was released in August 2021 by the name of ‘The sixth Assessment Report (AR6)’ of the intergovernmental panel on Climate Change had an alert for the world over global temperature rise and associated risks.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Agenda 21 for 21st century was introduced in Rio summit 1992 is also known as 1st Earth summit where an international environmental treaty was signed in 1992 to combat “dangerous human interference with climate change”. To make this treaty successful, a multilateral environmental agreement was made i.e., United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (hereinafter called UNFCCC) in 1992 at Rio Conference for stabilizing greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere.

As the name suggests the conference of parties or COP is a global conference that plans and set agendas for efficacious implementation of UNFCCC. UNFCCC came into effect in 1994 at New York, United States which is not legally binding and its headquater is in Bonn, Germany. First such meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in march, 1995 and it is held annually at a different venue with a different country as its president likewise.

OVERVIEW OF COP-26

The most crucial target set by countries, was to bring down the carbon emissions to net zero, where more than 135 countries countries announced their target dates who are responsible for more than 80% carbon emission around the globe and pledging to achieve net-zero carbon emission by 2050. But most of the developing countries (including India) didn’t concurred that there is any need to cut down the emissions by 2050.

Another important objective of COP-26 was Glasgow breakthrough Agenda put forward by 42countries (including India). It is a collective pledge to expedite the development of clean technologies, the target areas include power, road transport, steel and hydrogen.

The meeting was also significant as it was first time when notions were expected to submit their national targets to minimize climate change. This was termed as ‘Ratchet Mechanism’, which was to be updated every five years. However, despite the postponement due to COVID-19 Pandemic, many countries were still unprepared with their pledges.

The main motive of the meeting was to reduce the carbon consumption which leads to Net zero. For attaining this net-zero we also have to protect our forest because it helps in absorbs carbon dioxide from the air which we also called ‘Carbon Sink’. Oceans also plays vital role in absorbing the carbon dioxide from the air, but due to heavy industrialization in recent past years, it lost its capacity to absorb the Co2 from air. Amazon forest of Brazil which act as the biggest carbon sink in the world gives 20% of oxygen to the world also called lungs of earth.

INDIA AT COP-26

India’s stand towards minimizing climate change was put forward at summit by prime minister Narendra Modi while addressing COP-26, he presented the five commitments of India, collectively known as ‘Panchamrit’ –

1. Net Zero emissions by 2070. At this point, India has changed its stand from previous COPs, where it accepted the need of net-zero emissions.

2. Increase its capacity of non-fossil fuel energy to 500 GW

3. Carbon emissions to be reduced by one billion tonne.

4. Carbon intensity to be reduced by 45%

5. 50% Increase the share of renewable in the energy by 2030

The prime minister also mentioned about Indian Railways’ target to achieve net-zero by 2030. He also added that government of India’s initiative is aimed at reducing 40billion tonnes of emissions through the use of LEDs. He also reiterated that India is, and the only country in the world, working very hard to keep its promise of Paris agreement. He also said that, for him, Paris event was not a summit but a sentiment, a commitment and India was not only making promises to the world, instead, 125crores Indian were making promises to themselves.

Since India is not part of Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), faces problem and extending its time limit for Net-Zero carbon emission by 2070. India had committed to cut down the emission intensity from 33% in 2005 to 35% by 2030 and India’s continued its traditional diplomatic support other Developing countries.

SETBACKS OF THE SUMMIT

Despite setting massive targets for cutting carbon emissions, and for reducing climate change, it was lacking in several aspects. Firstly, there is no mechanism for enforcement. Moreover, there are no penalties for non-compliance; thus, there is no guarantee if the targets will be achieved or situations would get worse. Secondly, many countries have not, or even worse, have specific plans to attain their targets, creating an uncertainty in trajectory to net-zero. Thirdly, the summit only ‘urges’ and not strictly commands the member countries to accelerate their approach towards net-zero. It also fails to firmly secure the funding commitments of developed countries.

Another setback for the summit is that there is an unequal distribution in carbon emissions, the top three emitters (China, US and Europe) account for only 30% of world’s population, take up about 78% of carbon budgets. A positive note for India in this aspect is that, it has lowest per capita emissions – despite accounting for 17% of world’s population, emits only 5% of total carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the developed countries have also failed to keep their promise of providing financial support to developing countries; As many countries depend on other countries for financial support. They have had committed to provide 100 billion dollars each year, which is still unfulfilled. Thus, decelerating the pace of achieving set targets by developing countries.

Although, Climate Action Tracker, an independent organization, suggests that the targets asserted, have the potential to cut down global warming to around 1.8 degree Celsius; it has also alerted the global leaders that the current pace of 2030 targets could result in rising the global temperature by around 2.1 degree Celsius.

SOLUTIONS

Now, we have to focus on what can be done to minimize the global climate risks that the world may face in coming future.

The most firm steps are expected from the largest emitters across the globe, to start with, China has to change its path of increasing the emissions till 2030, then cutting down. If they can’t reduce the emissions, at least keep them at current level and then bring down to net zero by 2050. Along-with this, US net zero date is due in 2040, should focus on attaining faster reduction by 2030, same goes with Europe as a whole. In this way, their collective carbon emissions would fall to around 32% (against current 78%) of total carbon budget.

Talking about India, there is a lot that we have to do to contribute towards this collective interest of saving mother earth. First of all, we have no plans or commitments for reduction in coal based power. The government can start with banning any new coal based establishment. Secondly, electric vehicles need to be encouraged against the conventional petrol and diesel vehicles. Thirdly, Hydrogen and Titanium is seen as the fuel of the future as Hydrogen is an energy carrier that can be used in internal combustion or fuels which produce no greenhouse gases when it combusted with oxygen. Launch of the global green grids will also reduce the dependency on carbon fuels.

CONCLUSION

The COP-26 of UNFCCC is an affirmation that the global leaders are thoughtful towards climate change. Despite these huge affirmations in every COPs the pace of action plan is slower than required. A lot is expected from bigger economies country who are also top emitters of carbon, which, in spite of being most responsible for current scenario, looking most irresponsible towards their duties too. Moreover, all other countries need to work out on proper plan for achieving their commitments as soon as possible. Thus far, the promise of all climate finance from the countries have been proved as hollow ones. Bigger economies country must corroborate climate finance with 1 trillion Dollar as fast as possible and it is also the need of the hour to pressurize those countries who failed in their committment about the climate finance and reduce the carbon emission.

India too, needs to think strategically for keeping its promise. It will have to cut-down its coal use in power production as well as encouraging Electronic Vehicles(EVs). Also, we have to focus future fuels like Hydrogen and Titanium. We cannot wait for the anger of climate which will devastating result, we have to have implement the action plans at the earliest.

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Policy & Politics

PIYUSH GOYAL CALLS UPON STARTUPS TO LEVERAGE ‘DEEP TECH’

Goyal says start ups to build solutions for local & global markets: AI, IoT, Big Data, etc.

Tarun Nangia

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Piyush Goyal

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal today called upon the Indian industry to aim for raising 75 unicorns in the 75 weeks to the 75th anniversary of Independence next year.

“We have added 43 unicorns added in 45 weeks, since the start of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ on 12th March, 2021. Let us aim for atleast 75 unicorns in this 75 week period to 75thAnniversary of Independence,” he said, while releasing the NASSCOM Tech Start-up Report 2022.

Goyal said Startup India started a revolution six years ago and today ‘Startup’ has become a common household term. Indian Startups are fast becoming the champions of India Inc’s growth story, he added.

“India has now become the hallmark of a trailblazer & is leaving its mark on global startup landscape. Investments received by Indian startups overshadowed pre-pandemic highs. 2021 will be remembered as the year Indian start-ups delivered on their promise, – fearlessly chasing opportunities across verticals – Edtech, HealthTech & AgriTech amongst others,” he said.

Goyal lauded the ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) industry including the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector for the record Services exports during the last year. “Services Export for Apr-Dec 2021 reached more than $178 bn despite the Covid19 pandemic when the Travel, Hospitality & Tourism sectors were significantly down,” he said.

• “Let us aim for at least 75 unicorns in the 75 weeks to the 75th Anniversary of Independence”: Piyush Goyal

• Goyal lauds the ITES industry including the BPO sector for the record Services exports during the last year despite the pandemic

•  Piyush Goyal says the PM’s interaction with Startups a week ago has supercharged our innovators

• The next “UPI moment” will be the ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) – Goyal

• New India is today being led by new troika of Innovation, Technology & Entrepreneurship (ITE), ‘India at 100’ will be renowned as a Startup nation: Goyal

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Subhas Chandra Bose statue to be installed in India Gate, announced PM Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday that a grand statue of iconic freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will be installed at India Gate. This announcement came ahead of the 125th anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his statue will be installed at India Gate to honor his contribution to the independence movement.

The Prime Minister further said that Bose’s grand statue will be made of granite and will be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him. “Till the grand statue of Netaji Bose is completed, a hologram statue of his would be present at the same place. I will unveil the hologram statue on 23rd January, Netaji’s birth anniversary” PM Modi tweeted

“At a time when the entire nation is marking the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, I am glad to share that his grand statue, made of granite, will be installed at India Gate,” PM Modi tweeted on Friday. “This would be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him.”

The statue will be installed under the grand canopy near which the Amar Jawan Jyothi flickers in remembrance of India’s martyrs. The eternal flame, which has not been extinguished for 50 years, will be put off on Friday, as it will be merged with the flame at the National War Memorial.

The canopy, which was built along with the rest of the grand monument in the 1930s by Sir Edwin Lutyens, once housed a statue of the former king of England George V. The statue was later moved to Coronation Park in Central Delhi in the mid-1960s.

The announcement was hailed by many Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, Union ministers and civil society members.

“Great news for the entire nation as PM @narendramodi Ji has today announced that a grand statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, will be installed at the iconic India Gate, New Delhi. This is a befitting tribute to the legendary Netaji, who gave everything for India’s freedom.” Amit Shah tweeted.

“Netaji is an epitome of India’s true strength & resolve. Congress has left no stone unturned to forget the immortal contributions of India’s brave son. PM @narendramodi’s decision to install Netaji’s statue at India Gate on his 125th Jayanti will inspire our generations to come.” Amit Shah added in his tweet.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil a 216-foot statue of Ramanujacharya, a 11th century saint and a social reformer, in Hyderabad on February 5. The statue described as the ‘Statue of Equality is located in a 45-acre complex at Shamshabad on the outskirts of the city.

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‘US, India should set bold goals to attain $500bn target’, said Keshap

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Having achieved a huge success in their bilateral relations, two of the world’s greatest democracies – India and the United States of America should opt in favour of setting bold goals in order to take their relationship to a new high thereby achieving the ambitious target of $500 billion in bilateral trade echoes retired American Diplomat Atul Keshap, who recently became the new president of the US India Business Council (USIBC).

“I think it’s vitally important that we show that democracies can deliver; that the United States and India can be a driver of global growth and a model for prosperity and development in the 21st century,” Keshap said.

During his illustrious career, the veteran diplomat has served in various capacities with the US State Department. He has been the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives and has also served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

In 2021, he took over as the Chargé d’affaires of the United States mission to India and has been instrumental in shaping the US-India ties under the Joe Biden administration.

“I feel it’s critically important that we show that open societies powered by a free enterprise can be relevant for their people and can help power the world out of this pandemic. I tend to agree entirely with President Biden and PM Narendra Modi that the US India Partnership is a force for global good and it’s going to have a huge impact on economic growth,” he said.

Keshap feels that USIBC is the podium where he can give his best and help the people from both countries. “We need to move forward on the global trade agenda. We need to ensure the prosperity of the future, especially after this pandemic,” he said.

The 50-year-old diplomat reflected on the vision set by Biden, about potentially having a $500 billion trade in goods and services between the US and India. “That’s a very ambitious number and I believe in it. It is a great idea to try to have ambitious targets, else we are on a standstill” he said.

Having donned the new role recently, Keshap said he wants to help meet that $500 billion bilateral trade goal. “This is where the government and the private sector have to work together hand-in-hand,” he said.

“We have to articulate the benefits and have to convince all our stakeholders that there is value in lowering trade barriers, in creating strong standards and in creating positive ecosystems. There is value in dealing with small technical issues that might be creating a blockage to greater prosperity between our countries,” Keshap said.

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Coal crisis: How private sector can power India’s growth

Tarun Nangia

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India has been reeling under a coal shortage crisis and the situation got aggravated in October 2021 leading to a lot of concern amongst various stakeholders including government bodies, thermal power plants, industry and investors. The shortages, triggered by global factors, of course with Indian peculiarities, threatened supplies to thermal-based power plants, leading to an alarm.

Recovering from Covid-19-induced reverses, the global economy has rebounded and gathered steam. This was one of the prime reasons why there was an acute shortage of coal and sources of energy, worldwide. Global coal prices have risen by 40 per cent.

Port based Indian power plants normally rely on imports. Given the global conditions, and the sharp rise in coal prices internationally, the power plants are now almost solely dependent on Indian coal. It’s in this context that the coal crisis has been amplified by various stakeholders.

While global factors did contribute, did we fail to take necessary action, over a period of time? To highlight one prominent factor: Why should the Coal India Limited have monopoly over coal mining / supplies? Consider the CIL performance in the last few years: Its output was 606 MT in 2018-2019, 602 MT in 2019-2020, and 596 MT in 2020-2021. Contrast this with various governments’ efforts to ramp up Coal production in the 1992-2010 period.

So, why did Coal India Limited fail to expand capacity? This is one big question that must be debated. It can therefore be argued that CIL’s monopoly on coal extraction and supplies (till very recently) is one of the prime reasons why India’s thermal power plants faced a coal crisis.

India has the world’s fourth-largest coal reserve, with around 300 billion tonnes of coal. But it is also true that it imports approximately 250 million tonnes of coal. This is because we don’t mine enough and use our resources optimally.

CIL supplies 80 per cent of India’s coal needs. The demand for coal in India is nearly a billion tonnes a year, and the supply is below 800 million tonnes.

Unfortunately, based on then CAG Vinod Rai’s miscalculations and the Notional Loss theory, the Supreme Court cancelled 214 coal blocks in September 2014. Private players were not given a patient hearing on the issue. Rather than encouraging them, the private sector got punished unfairly for its efforts to strengthen the economy through coal mining. If 100 out of 214 of those mines were functional and each one was producing, say, 4 mtpa of Coal, India today would be a net exporter, not importer, of Coal.

Rai’s theory and the Supreme Court judgment had devastating consequences. The coal production in the country took a hit. The country’s GDP declined by almost 1 per cent. Millions of jobs were lost. NPAs of banks with exposure to power, steel and mining sector rose exponentially. Such is Rai’s credibility that he recently tendered an apology to a Congress leader, who, Rai claimed in his book, “requested him to remove then PM Manmohan Singh’s name from the coal scam”. Taking a cue, if someone sues Rai for his Coal Scam theory and numbers, would he be able to defend his report in court?

Against the recommendations of CAG of incentivizing good performers who produce coal, the Supreme Court imposed an additional levy of 295 rupees per ton on the coal extracted from operational mines retrospectively from 1993. The private miners were directed to deposit more than Rs. 9000 crore as penalty.

The stagnating CIL coal output should be seen in this background. Being a monopoly, CIL could have been a saviour for the nation. CIL however neither ramped up production nor invested in technology or expansion of new mines.

In 2020, in a bold and much welcome development, the Union Government opened up commercial coal mining, thus ending Coal India’s monopoly. PM Modi said that he wanted India to be a net exporter of coal, as he set ambitious targets.

A lesson from the recent crisis is this – the CIL monopoly, along with the no-entry sign for the private sector, harmed the country.

There are lessons to be drawn from the opening up of the aviation sector for the recent coal crisis episode. With a series of measures, the aviation sector was opened up, with the Air India privatisation being the latest example. The economy, the nation and consumer benefitted. When sectors as diverse as Steel, Infrastructure and Healthcare were unshackled, the end consumer, the economy and the nation benefitted.

Similarly, if the private sector in coal mining would have been encouraged consistently, and ill-advised measures like cancellation of coal blocks not taken, the coal situation would not have come to such a pass. In 2014, the private sector was said to be accounting for 90 million tons of coal – a substantial figure. Instead of getting encouraged, the private sector had to fight protracted court cases and spend its time wastefully.

There’s a consensus that Coal would continue to power economic growth for a country like India for the next two decades. It’s important that this abundantly-available natural resource is used optimally. The Private Sector can play a key role here.

The Government has shown intent and commitment. It’s time for all the stakeholders to ensure that the country faces no shortage of Coal hereafter. It’s time we all learnt our lessons and ensure that Coal and Mining booms and fires India’s growth march.

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eGrocers seize the day as orders rise 40% amid third wave

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In the ongoing third wave of Covid-19 one industry tops it all with high revenue generation based on more than enough orders to double their size of operation. eGrocers are riding the Corona wave high with record number of orders rising in the third wave and inevitably increasing the rate of their operations. Since December the online grocer Blinkit has added 200 “dark stores” that are designed only for deliveries in ten minutes.The company now plans to take the number to 1000 by March. Reliance owned MilkBasket is more than doubling its warehousing capacity to almost 350,000 sq ft in NCR to cater to 1,50,000 orders a day, double the current order size. In the midst of the growing Covid-19 cases while the brick and mortar retailers and dine-in restaurants are holding out on their expansion plans, online grocers like Blinkit and MilkBasket are going all out on aggressively pushing to take advantage of the growing demand for quick online deliveries. Even at the time of the first and second wave the online grocers had been in the works to expand their operations as millions of Indians gravitated to digital commerce. However the ongoing third wave has made the push on market capitalisation more aggressive and ambitious. “One thing has changed in this wave that our pace of expansion has doubled,” said Rohit Sharma head of supply chain at Blinkit.

The main rival of Blinkit, Tata owned BigBasket is planning to launch BB Now, its express delivery service of delivering products in 10-20 minutes, joining the growing space of quick commerce. Currently Blinkit, Swiggy’s Instamart, Dunzo and Zepto are active in that space. T K Balakumar, chief operating officer at Big Basket said his company is planning to increase its existing warehousing capacity by 40%. They are also planning to open more than 300 dark stores in the coming financial year starting April.

During the ongoing Covid wave the orders in various cities have gone up by 30-40%, said the online grocers. Milkbasket is currently catering to about 70,000 orders per day in the NCR. Its new 150,000 sq ft warehouse in the region will be ready by next month. “There is excess demand. They are already running 110% of capacity,” said a person familiar with MilkBaskets’ plans. MilkBasket operates in Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai and is set to enter Jaipur later this month.

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India-assisted projects launched for Mauritius by PMs Modi and Jugnauth

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During a virtual event on January 20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritius counterpart Pravind Kumar Jugnauth jointly opened an India-assisted social housing project in Mauritius. The two leaders also opened a civil service college and an 8-MW solar power project in Mauritius, both of which are being funded by India, as per the external affairs ministry. According to the ministry, a bilateral agreement for the implementation of modest development projects was exchanged, as well as an agreement to grant a $190 million line of credit from India to Mauritius for the Metro Express Project and other infrastructure projects. The news follows Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s tour to Indian Ocean countries like Sri Lanka, Comoros, and the Maldives, during which the Chinese side disclosed a number of business initiatives. Mauritius is an important aspect of India’s “Neighbourhood First” strategy, with New Delhi supporting a variety of projects in the African island nation. India supplied immunizations and medical supplies to Mauritius during the initial stages of the Covid-19 outbreak.. Last February, India, and Mauritius signed a free trade agreement aimed at making the island nation a regional center for Indian investments, and New Delhi offered a $100 million line of credit to cover defense gear purchases. Both governments decided to lease a Dornier plane and a Dhruv advanced light chopper to monitor Mauritius’ exclusive economic zone at the time.The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Pact (CECPA) between India and Mauritius was the country’s first free trade agreement with an African nation.

METRO EXPRESS PROJECT

PM Modi and his Mauritian counterpart Jugnauth jointly launched phase-I of the rail transportation line between India and Mauritius in 2019. The Light Rail Transit System Project represents a watershed moment in Indo-Mauritian ties, delivering significant economic benefits to both countries. In addition, the project provided engineering and technical skill development possibilities for the island nation. According to Rajeev Jyoti, Chief Executive of L&T, the construction company that won the contract from the Government of Mauritius, the large-scale investment also established India’s credibility in the international railway market. The first phase comprised the construction of a 26-kilometer railway with 19 stations connecting Curepipe and Immigration Square in Port Louis. Two of the stations were described as cutting-edge. Three major bus interchanges are included in the alignment, making it a multi-modal urban transit system. The bilateral flagship program was expanded in June 2021 with the start of phase-II, which runs from Rose Hill to the Quatre Bornes sector. PM Modi and PM Jugnauth jointly inaugurated the Metro Express corridor, “providing a safe, secure, dependable, and efficient method of transit in Mauritius,” according to the Indian embassy in Mauritius. Three major bus interchanges are included in the alignment, making it a multi-modal urban transit system. The bilateral flagship program was expanded in June 2021 with the start of phase-II, which runs from Rose Hill to the Quatre Bornes sector. PM Modi and PM Jugnauth jointly inaugurated the Metro Express corridor, “providing a safe, secure, dependable, and efficient method of transit in Mauritius,” according to the Indian embassy in Mauritius.

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