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Development Watch – Week #2 March ’23

Development News

Rise in rural unemployment rate

According to a report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), unemployment in India increased from 7.14% in January 2023 to 7.45% in February 2023. In the preceding 4 months from September to December 2022, unemployment was on a decline. February also saw slight improvement in labour participation rate to 39.92%. This resulted in an increase in labour force from 440.8 million to 442.9 million.

Bullet trains to be completed by 2026

In the last 1 1/2 years, 154 pillars have been completed for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train. Due to delays which have now been resolved, the train will be completed by 2026. Budget 2023 saw a fairly large allocation to the Railways. It would fundamentally change the productivity of India’s economy. Recently, Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) in a joint venture with MEIL has bagged a Rs. 3,681 Crores project for construction of BKC Station. BKC station on the 508 km long route will have 6 platforms to accommodate a 16-coach bullet train. The Bandra-Kurla Complex bullet train station will have a total of 3 floors and is planned at a depth of 24 metres below ground level.

Increase in % of both international and domestic travelers

There has been a a rise of 58% in the number of domestic flights and 61% in international flights. 7 airports have seen an increase of 92% travelers in domestic, and 133% in international travelers. Compared to 2022, air traffic in India has nearly doubled. The numbers are now reaching pre-pandemic levels. One of the factors driving this growth is the restart of tourism after the pandemic. Gopinath Bordoloi airport in Guwahati recorded a footfall of 902,694 passengers and has flights to 32 domestic and 2 international destinations.

Five key expressways to enhance road connectivity

Among the various roadways projects across India, 5 major expressways stand to speed up connectivity. Delhi-Mumbai expressway will shorten the travel time to 12 hours between the two cities. Mumbai-Nagpur expressway covering a distance of 780+ km will be completed in 6 months. The total project cost is 55,335 Crores and includes 33 bridges, 25 interchanges, 190 underpasses and 274 minor bridges. Ganga Expressway in UP passes through 12 cities and is connected to Delhi-Meerut Expressway, Yamuna Expressway and Agra Expressway. 109 km long Ahmedabad-Dholera expressway in Gujarat will be completed by end of 2023. Raipur-Vizag corridor is a 6-lane, 464 km long greenfield expressway. It will pass through the states of Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Raipur-Vizag expressway will be ready by 2025.

Hike in hotel tariffs due to G20 meet

India’s G20 presidency has created business opportunities and added to demand for hotel bookings. Especially in the cities that will host G20 meetings. With Bengaluru hotels being sold out, other cities are also witnessing a surge in tariff hikes. There is strong demand for hotels due to meetings and events linked to G20. This includes corporate summits and seminars. Rates in hotels had begun to escalate since October 2022, and have increased further.

Engineers India expanding overseas and into new sectors

Engineers India ltd. (EIL) is working with GAIL and BPCL on blending green hydrogen with natural gas. They are also working on identifying electrolyzer technology suited to produce green hydrogen in India. EIL has secured orders worth Rs. 3,200 crores this year. This is nearly twice the previous year, as it widens the business portfolio. Current order book size of EIL is about Rs. 9,000 Crores, with about 45% of orders from private sector. This includes international projects. EIL has a big presence in oil and gas sector. It is an engineering and procurement company which began its operations in 1965 with the Madras refinery project.

End to FAME II scheme is likely

Second phase of the Rs. 10,000 Crores FAME II scheme may be discontinued after the next financial year. Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India (FAME II) may instead be replaced by incentives to EV makers through the PLI scheme. Under FAME, companies can offer a discount of up to 40% on cost of locally manufactured vehicles. They can then claim it as a subsidy from the government. However, the ministry of heavy industries has launched an investigation into alleged misappropriation of subsidies by 2-wheeler EV makers.

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