BIHAR SPEEDS UP WITH NEW VANDE BHARAT TRAINS - Business Guardian
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Infrastructure Development

BIHAR SPEEDS UP WITH NEW VANDE BHARAT TRAINS

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a slew of railway projects in Bihar on Tuesday, including the introduction of two new Vande Bharat Express trains. These initiatives were part of a larger series of projects worth Rs 85,000 crore inaugurated by the Prime Minister via video conference from Ahmedabad.

Governor Rajendra V Arlekar, Deputy CM Vijay Kumar Sinha, Speaker Nand Kishor Yadav, and BJP MP Ravishankar Prasad were among the dignitaries present at the ceremony held at the Patna Junction railway station to mark the unveiling.

The two new Vande Bharat Express trains will operate on the Patna-Gomti Nagar and Patna-New Jalpaiguri routes, respectively, according to officials. The Patna-Gomti Nagar Vande Bharat Express will make halts at the revered towns of Varanasi and Ayodhya Dham. Additionally, a third Vande Bharat Express, also flagged off during the event, will include a stop at Gaya enroute to Varanasi from Ranchi.

In addition to the train services, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for a washing pit cum coaching complex at Narkatiaganj and inaugurated the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor’s New Chiraila Pauthu-New Son Nagar New DDU section. Other inaugurated facilities include Gati Shakti cargo terminals, Jan Aushadhi drug stores at Patna and Darbhanga, goods sheds, and washing pit lines at Arrah and Muzaffarpur.

Further promoting local economies, the Prime Minister also inaugurated ‘One Station One Product’ outlets aimed at supporting local small farmers and artisans. These initiatives mark a significant investment in Bihar’s infrastructure and are expected to enhance connectivity and economic opportunities in the region. The unveiling of these railway projects underscores the government’s commitment to bolstering transportation infrastructure in Bihar, a state that plays a crucial role in India’s economic landscape. With the introduction of the Vande Bharat Express trains and the inauguration of various ancillary facilities, the aim is to enhance passenger experience, streamline freight movement, and stimulate local economies.

The presence of high-ranking officials at the ceremony reflects the significance attached to these infrastructure developments. Governor Rajendra V Arlekar, Deputy CM Vijay Kumar Sinha, Speaker Nand Kishor Yadav, and other dignitaries’ attendance underscores the collaborative effort between the central and state governments in driving progress and development initiatives forward.

The expansion of railway services, including the introduction of Vande Bharat Express trains on new routes, holds the promise of increased connectivity and accessibility for commuters across Bihar and neighbouring regions. By extending the reach of modern, high-speed trains, the government aims to facilitate smoother and more efficient travel experiences for passengers while reducing travel time between key destinations.

Moreover, the inauguration of facilities such as the washing pit cum coaching complex, cargo terminals, and Jan Aushadhi drug stores underscores the multifaceted approach taken towards infrastructure development. These initiatives not only address the immediate needs of the transportation sector but also cater to ancillary services essential for supporting a robust and sustainable railway ecosystem.

Overall, the unveiling of these railway projects and ancillary facilities represents a significant milestone in Bihar’s journey towards comprehensive infrastructural growth. As these initiatives come to fruition, they are poised to contribute towards the state’s socio-economic development and position Bihar as a vital hub within India’s transportation network.

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Infrastructure Development

UP Govt likely to lay foundation stone of film city project after LS polls

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As per the real estate consultancy firm CBRE, the development of the first phase of International Film City in Noida is expected to generate direct and indirect employment for 10,000 people.

The foundation stone for Uttar Pradesh’s government ambitious International Film City project is likely to be laid soon after the Lok Sabha elections, according to sources. According to sources, the foundation stone of the project will probably be laid by late June 2024 after the general elections. The nationwide Lok Sabha elections are set to begin on 19 April and will continue till 1 June. The results of the election will be announced on 4 June, 2024. In a Cabinet meeting held last month in March, the UP government gave approval for the film city project.

Later that month, the government also issued the award letter for the concessionaire of the project. Baywatch Projects LLP, helmed by Bollywood filmmaker Boney Kapoor, heads a consortium with Noida’s Bhutani Infra to develop the Film City project near Noida International Airport along the Yamuna Expressway. The first phase of the project will be built on 230 acres of land. “The foundation stone of the project was to be laid by UP CM Yogi Adityanath in March 2024 before the model code of conduct, but it could not happen. So the state government is now likely to lay the foundation stone for the project in June 2024, soon after the Lok Sabha elections. Officials of the state government in Lucknow as well as of YEIDA (Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority) have also been asked to start preparations in this connection,” sources told the media.

He said that the work on the ground is likely to start soon after the foundation stone laying. UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s ambitious International Film City will be developed in Sector 21 along the Yamuna Expressway near Noida International Airport. Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) is helming the project and it has also allotted land to the consortium in sector 21 where construction work will be started.

USE OF SOLAR ENERGY

Sources also the use of solar energy is being considered for electricity. According to the master plan of the film city, all the studios in the film city will run on solar systems that will be installed on the rooftops of studios, sources said. They said that in a recent presentation, the company also informed officials that the International Film City will be developed by dividing it into seven zones in Sector-21 near Noida Airport and it is also likely to have a signature tower in the film city.

The financial bids for the film city project were opened on January 30, 2024 at the YEIDA office where Boney Kapoor’s Bayview Projects LLP in association with Bhutani Infra had emerged as the highest bidder for the project. Out of 230 acres of land, 155 acres will be dedicated for industrial use and the remaining 75 acres for commercial use.

The industrial aspect of the project will comprise the development of film studios, a film institute, post-production facilities, and other film related developments, while the commercial part will include activities such as hospitality projects and amusement parks, among others.

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Healthcare

India’s Healthcare Sector Shines on World Health Day with 12.59% Growth in 2024-2025

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The theme for World Health Day 2024 is ‘My health, my right.’ According to the World Health Organisation, this theme aims to promote the right of everyone, everywhere to have access to health services, education and information.

India’s healthcare realm is experiencing a profound shift, propelled by substantial investments in infrastructure development. The Union Health Ministry’s allocation of Rs 90,658.63 crore in the interim budget for 2024–2025 marks a notable 12.59 per cent increase, emphasizing the government’s prioritization of healthcare expenditure. As the globe observes World Health Day, India commemorates significant milestones in its healthcare sector, with a strategic focus on infrastructure enhancement, equitable access to quality care, and the implementation of transformative initiatives.

Since 2016, the Indian healthcare industry has been on a soaring trajectory, boasting a remarkable compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 22 per cent. The hospital market in India, valued at USD 98.98 billion in 2023, is poised to sustain its upward momentum, with projections foreseeing a CAGR of 8.0 percent from 2024 to 2032. By 2032, the market is anticipated to reach a staggering value of USD 193.59 billion. Beyond the burgeoning hospital market, various segments within the Indian healthcare industry are experiencing rapid expansion.

The telemedicine market, for instance, is anticipated to soar to USD 5.4 billion by 2025, exhibiting an impressive CAGR of 31 percent. Similarly, the adoption of AI applications in healthcare is projected to surge at an annual rate of 45 percent by 2024, indicating a notable shift towards technology-driven healthcare solutions. Furthermore, the health-tech sector is primed for substantial growth, with hiring anticipated to escalate by 15- 20 percent in 2024. With pioneering investments and visionary policies, India is reaffirming its commitment to ensuring health and wellness for all its citizens.

On February 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated five new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) facilities across the nation, including Rajkot (Gujarat), Bathinda (Punjab), Raebareli (Uttar Pradesh), Kalyani (West Bengal), and Mangalagiri (Andhra Pradesh). Additionally, he unveiled a total of 202 healthcare infrastructure projects worth over Rs 11,700 crores across 23 states and union territories, encompassing medical colleges, specialty units, and research facilities.

Transforming healthcare accessibility, PM Modi’s flagship scheme, Ayushman Bharat, stands as a testament to India’s commitment to providing accessible and affordable healthcare to all citizens. Launched in 2018, Ayushman Bharat comprises four pillars aimed at revolutionizing the healthcare landscape. PM-JAY, the world’s largest government-funded health insurance plan, extends coverage to nearly 55 crore individuals from vulnerable families, offering an assured health cover of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year.

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Business

APSEZ handled 420 MMT cargo globally, domestic ports +408 MMT in FY24

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Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), has handled 420 MMT cargo in FY24 — an increase of 24 per cent yoy – and this includes international ports, with domestic ports contributing over 408 MMT cargo. The company has also handled its highest ever monthly cargo volumes (including international ports) of over 38 MMT in March 2024. Ten of its ports and terminals handled record cargo volumes — Mundra 180 MMT, Tuna 10 MMT, Hazira 26 MMT, Mormugao 5 MMT, Karaikal 12 MMT, Ennore 13 MMT, Kattupalli 12 MMT, Krishnapatnam 59 MMT, Gangavaram 37 MMT and Dhamra 43 MMT.

During FY24, more than one-fourth of all India cargo volumes was routed through APSEZ ports, a mark of its active role in driving India’s growth trajectory. It also shows that India’s largest port operator comfortably surpassed its cargo volume guidance of 370 MMT – 390 MMT provided at the start of the financial year. According to Karan Adani, Managing Director, APSEZ, while it took 14 years for the company to achieve the first 100 MMT of annual cargo throughput, the second and third 100 MMT throughputs were achieved in 5 years and 3 years and the latest 100 MMT mark has been achieved in less than two years.

“This is a testament to our ongoing commitment and efforts towards enhancing operational efficiencies,” said Adani. A key approach was partnerships with customers which has ensured long-term associations with key stakeholders. Supported by investment in world-class infrastructure that has delivered a high level of operating efficiency and a business model focused on providing an end-to-end solution through last mile connectivity, APSEZ has managed to successfully win customers and improve its market share.

These were achieved despite multiple challenges, such as the global trade disruptions caused by the Red Sea crisis, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and issues at the Panama Canal, and disruption of operations due to cyclone biparjoy and cyclone michaung. This year saw APSEZ achieving various new operational milestones. Its flagship port Mundra became the first in India to handle 16 MMT cargo in a single month (October 2023). Its container terminal CT-3 achieved a milestone of becoming the first in India to handle 3 million TEUs during the year and around 3 lakh TEUs in a single month (November 2023).

It berthed the largest-ever vessel at any Indian port (around 399 m-long and 54 m-wide) and handled the highest number of TEUs (16,569) on a single ship, MV MSC Livorno, surpassing the national best of 16,400 TEUs. It handled over 4,300 vessels, crossing its previous record of 3,938 vessels. In the container segment, the ports at Mundra, Hazira, Kattupalli and Ennore handled record volumes. Around 44 per cent of the containerized seaborne cargo in India moves through APSEZ ports.

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Infrastructure Development

Mumbai’s Bandra-Worli sea link toll rates to increase by 18% from April 1

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Vehicle owners, travelling on Mumbai’s iconic Rajiv Gandhi Bandra Worli Sea Link will have to shell out more money from 1 April.

Officials from the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation announced that toll charges on Mumbai’s iconic Rajiv Gandhi Bandra Worli Sea Link will increase by approximately 18% starting April 1. According to an MSRDC spokesperson, the new toll rates for one-way journeys will be Rs 100 for cars and jeeps, Rs 160 for minibuses, tempos, and similar vehicles, and Rs 210 for two-axle trucks. Presently, motorists pay Rs 85 for cars and jeeps, Rs 130 for minibuses, tempos, and light commercial vehicles, and Rs 175 for two-axle trucks and buses.

These rates have been in effect since April 1, 2021. The new toll rates on the sea link, which opened for traffic in 2009, will be applicable between April 1, 2024, and March 31, 2027, he said. Every day, scores of motorists use the sea link, connecting Worli in the Island City and Bandra in the Western suburbs of Mumbai for south and north-bound travel, avoiding traffic snarls in Mahim, Dadar, Prabhadevi and Worli areas. As per the MSRDC official, motorists will get a rebate of 10 per cent and 20 per cent on the purchase of booklets containing 50 and 100 toll coupons in advance, respectively. The rates of return journey pass and daily pass, valid till midnight, for frequent travelers shall be 1.5 times and 2.5 times their respective one-way toll charges, the spokesperson said, adding the cost of monthly passes will be 50 times their respective one-way travel rates.

The authorities have planned to connect the sea link with the under-construction Marine Drive-Worli coastal road at the Southern end and the Bandra-Versova coastal road at the Northern end. Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde recently inaugurated the first phase of the coastal road project a 10.5-km stretch between Worli and Marine Drive in south Mumbai. This part is currently toll-free. Once connected with the coastal roads at both ends of the sea link, the traffic on the coastal road is expected to increase.

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Business News

Assam to become major player in global semiconductor industry, says Ratan Tata

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Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw confirms India’s first domestically produced semiconductor chip to be unveiled by December 2024, aligning with PM Modi’s tech vision.

In a significant development for both Assam’s industrial landscape and India’s semiconductor industry, industrialist and philanthropist Ratan Tata announced a substantial investment of Rs 27,000 crore towards establishing a semiconductor plant in Jagiroad, Assam. This move, hailed as transformative by Tata, is poised to place Assam prominently on the global semiconductor manufacturing map.

Collaborating with the Assam government, Tata Group has been instrumental in various initiatives, including setting up cancer care hospitals across the state. Ratan Tata expressed gratitude to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for his unwavering support and vision, acknowledging his pivotal role in making this endeavour possible.

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw affirmed that India’s first domestically produced semiconductor chip is slated to be unveiled by December 2024. This ambitious undertaking underscores the government’s commitment to bolstering electronics manufacturing, aligning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for a technologically advanced India.

Prime Minister Modi’s recent inauguration of three semiconductor facilities, with substantial investments totalling approximately Rs 1.25 lakh crore, marks a crucial milestone in India’s semiconductor journey. Tata Group’s involvement in setting up two of these plants, one each in Gujarat and Assam, signifies their strategic positioning within the burgeoning semiconductor sector.

Tata Semiconductor Assembly and Test Pvt Ltd (“TSAT”) is spearheading the establishment of a semiconductor unit in Morigaon, Assam, with a staggering capacity to produce 48 million chips per day. This facility, catering to diverse sectors such as automotive, electric vehicles, consumer electronics, telecom, and mobile phones, underscores the breadth of its impact on various industries.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma emphasized the significance of integrating the northeast region into the technological revolution initiated by Prime Minister Modi, highlighting the paradigm shift in industrial focus and inclusivity.

With the commercial production of semiconductor chips slated to commence in 2026 at the Gujarat and Assam plants, Tata Group aims to address chip shortages experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. This indigenous manufacturing initiative not only addresses national security concerns but also fosters indigenous innovation, positioning India as a key player in the global semiconductor landscape.

Meanwhile, the rapid progress of American chip maker Micron’s high-end semiconductor fabrication plant in Gujarat’s Sanand underscores India’s strides towards bolstering its semiconductor infrastructure. Expected to be operational by late 2024, this venture further accentuates India’s emergence as a formidable contender in semiconductor manufacturing.

As India marches towards self-reliance in semiconductor production, the Assam semiconductor plant stands as a beacon of technological advancement and economic empowerment. Ratan Tata’s visionary investment underscores the potential for transformative growth in Assam, propelling the state onto the global stage of semiconductor manufacturing.

The collaborative efforts between the private sector and the Assam government signify a paradigm shift in industrial development strategies, fostering a conducive environment for innovation and investment. With the establishment of cutting-edge semiconductor facilities, Assam is poised to emerge as a hub for technological innovation, attracting further investments and talent to the region. The commitment to indigenous semiconductor manufacturing not only addresses immediate supply chain challenges but also lays the foundation for sustained economic growth.

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Infrastructure Development

NHAI completes largest monetisation of over Rs16,000 cr through InvIT

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National Highways Infra Trust (NHIT) has successfully concluded fundraising for national highway stretches of aggregate length of 889 kilometres. The NHIT is the infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and serves like a mutual fund, which enables direct investment of money from individual and institutional investors in infrastructure projects to earn a portion of the income as return. The largest ever by NHAI monetisation of over Rs 16,000 crore has been caried out through Round 3 ’InvIT and is one of the largest transactions in the history of Indian road sector.

The Letter of Acceptance (LOA) to raise the highest ever concession value through ’InvIT Round-3’ was issued last month in February 2024. Since November 2021, NHIT has cumulatively raised around Rs.12,000 crore through first two rounds of monetisation for acquisition of eight operating road assets with an aggregate length of 636 km from NHAI. Historically, units of NHIT were issued at a price of Rs 101 in November 2021 and were listed on both BSE and NSE. According to Anurag Jain, Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, the NHIT is a successful example of public private partnership in which it has played a very important role in supporting national monetisation pipeline. While doing that NHIT has established itself as a leading player in the InvIT space, playing a critical role in channelising financial capital into the further development of Indian roads sector.

In the third round of monetisation, NHIT has raised unit capital of around Rs 7,272 crore from marquee domestic and international investors and debt of around Rs 9,000 crore from Indian lenders, to fund the acquisition of National Highway stretches, at a base concession fee of around Rs 15,625 crore, and additional concessional fees of Rs 75 crore. The units were subscribed by investors through a book build process at a cut off price of Rs 124.14 per unit, at a premium over the current NAV of Rs 122.86 per unit.

The units witnessed strong demand from both existing and new investors, including foreign pension funds viz. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, which are existing unitholders and subscribed to the maximum limit of 25 per cent each. The other investors included domestic pension/provident funds (IOCL Employee’s PF, L&T Staff PF, Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Karamchari Pension Fund, SBI Pension etc.), insurance companies (Tata AIG, SBI Life, HDFC Life), mutual funds (SBI, Nippon India), banks and few others. NHAI also subscribed to its share of ~15% of the units at the same price.

With completion of the third round of monetisation the total realised value of all three rounds of InvIT stands at Rs 26,125 crore and holds a diversified portfolio of fifteen operating toll roads with an aggregate length of about 1,525 km spread across the 9 states of Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, with concession periods ranging between 20 to 30 years. The National Highways Infra Trust (NHIT), the Infrastructure Investment Trust sponsored by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), was set up in 2021 to support Government of India’s National Monetization Pipeline.

Santosh Kumar Yadav, NHAI Chairman expects the successful completion of the largest monetisation of roads for NHAI to continue to play a stellar role in the monetisation and development of the Indian roads sector.

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