US-India Energy Storage task force for transition to clean energy
On October 7, India and US announced the launch of a new energy task force to support large-scale integration of renewable energy needed to support the clean energy transition. The initiative will further strengthen the India-US partnership in the energy sector. It was preceded by a bilateral meeting between Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Hardeep Singh Puri, and US Energy Secretary (Jennifer Granholm). The two leaders also highlighted the importance of private sector engagement to facilitate investment, inform policy and accelerate technology development.
Local servers for uninterrupted online Land registration services
The centre has directed state governments to install local servers as well as boost internet speed in sub-registrar offices. This would help to provide uninterrupted land registration services in rural areas. The central govt is digitalizing old land records as well as putting in place a system for online registration under Digital India Land Records Monetization Programme (DILRMP). It is being implemented by Union Ministry of Rural Development.
More than 70% of 94 Crore land parcels in India are maintained in computerized and digitalized format. Some of the tehsils and sub-registrar offices are also integrated with land records. Centre is also supporting states with funds for upgrading servers. Local servers and enhanced internet speed are also required. The states can easily set up a local server for National Generic Document Registration System (NGDRS), which facilitates online property registration. NGDRS is designed for use of sub-registrars, citizens and apex users from registration departments. Many states are yet to shift to NGDRS.
Rural demand in India set to rebound
Improving labour market and terms of trade for the rural sector are factors that will result in increased rural demand in India. High-frequency data suggests that overall economic activity has been normalizing over the past 3 months after remaining sluggish in the trailing 12 months. Improvement has been led by lower unemployment, recovering two wheeler sales, increasing growth of credit to the agriculture sector, and early signs of stabilization in terms of trade. Government spending directed towards rural areas continues to track at 3.3% of GDP vs pre-pandemic trend of 2.2% of GDP. A key area of focus for policymakers is accelerating rural incomes. Policy makers are also taking steps to diversify livelihoods in rural areas, improve access to basic amenities and improve productivity across agriculture sector.
“Infrastructure status” accorded to Data Centres with over 5 MW capacity
According to a recent notification, the government has accorded infrastructure status to data centers with more than 5 megawatt capacity of IT load. These centres would be housed in a dedicated/centralized building for storage and processing of digital data applications. Data Centre is now included in the Harmonized Master List of Infrastructure sub-sectors by a new item in the category of “Communication”. This move will help data centre companies to get easier access to institutional credit at lower rates and further attract foreign investments. Data centres capacity expansion in India is expected to add investments of up to Rs. 1.2 lakh crores over the next 5 years. Indian corporates like Hiranandani Group, Adani Group, and foreign investors including Amazon, EdgeConnex, Microsoft, CapitaLand, Mantra Group, etc. have started investing in Indian data centres. Existing players like CtrlS, Nxtra, STT India, are also expanding their capacities. India’s data centre market has already witnessed an investment of $14 billion (Rs. 1.15 lakh Cr) in the last five years.
EU guidance to Indore Development Authority (IDA) for sustainable urbanization
IDA has started a 5-day workshop with the help of the European Union (EU) on “Mainstreaming Resilience in Metropolitan Planning for Indore”. This would help to chalk out a plan to ensure systematic planning and avert haphazard development of Indore city. In India, EU is increasing regional and urban policy dialogues on climate change. A joint declaration between the Government of India and the EU was adopted in October 2017 on a partnership for smart and sustainable urbanization. Indore Metropolitan Region, due to its rapid growth, has been identified as one of the 6 Indian metropolises for the workshop. Long term challenges of up to 30 years would be identified and better stakeholder engagement would be aimed for through the workshop.
Modhera in Gujarat India’s first solar village
Modhera village in Mehsana district of Gujarat has a ground mounted solar power plant, and over 1,300 rooftop solar systems with 1 kW capacity. These have been installed on houses to generate electricity. All of these solar power systems are linked to a battery energy storage system (BESS). During the day, solar panels will provide power to the village and in the evening through the BESS. Modhera has India’s first grid-connected megawatt hour scale battery energy storage system. Modhera is famous for the Sun Temple built during the Chalukya reign. Recently, the Prime Minister also laid foundation of projects worth Rs. 3,900 crores in the village.
Both central and state govts have invested over Rs. 80 Crores in the solar development project. The state has allotted 12 hectares area for the project too. People in the village can save 60-100% on their electricity bills with this move. Various private players are expanding their solar rooftop partnership programs for increasing adoption of solar and renewable energy.
It’s interesting to note that in 2014 itself, Bihar’s Dharnai village had become India’s first solar powered village. However, the common solar power grid became defunct in 3 years due to the lack of maintenance and repair of the batteries. People in the village also shifted to thermal power as soon as it became available due to high costs. We hope that Modhera will have a more viable system in place.
MoU with Dubai for economic cooperation in Haryana
Haryana Government has finalized an MoU with government of Dubai for cooperation in various economic activities. Government of Dubai is the governing authority of the Emirate of Dubai. These activities include investment promotion and land development, real estate development, industrial parks, IT parks, multi-purpose towers, mix-use townships, innovation centres and projects related to logistics in Haryana. The state is creating a seamless business environment with different initiatives such as sector-focused investor-friendly policies, GIS land bank, investor facilitation cell, single roof clearance mechanism, time-bound delivery of services, grievance redressal system, etc.
Older office buildings being Renovated to cater to Demand
In cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune, there is more than 120 million sq ft of space in grade A office buildings. These are over 15 years old and can be refurbished to meet steadily rising demands from businesses and investors. Retrofitting and upgrading old commercial office spaces with modern amenities, designs and building technology presents an investment opportunity of over Rs. 5,500 Crores in India. There is increased demand for state-of-the-art real estate projects which are technically and operationally compliant. Refurbishing a building has greater benefits than costs as it saves substantial loss of money, time and legal hassles.