News in Numbers, Jan 11, 2017: Make hay while the sun shines…

2,250 MW

What is it? The solar power capacity commissioned by India between April and December 2016.

Why is it important? This is just 18.7% of the solar power target of 12,000 MW for 2016-17. This raises questions about India’s capability to increase its solar power target to 100,000 MW by 2022. Power Minister Piyush Goyal had said in April 2016 that it can achieve this target by the end of 2017 itself. Achieving this target is important for India, which has committed to source 40% of its electricity from non-fossil fuels under the 2015 Paris Agreement. The aim of the agreement is to limit the increase in the earth’s temperature to less than two degree celsius by 2100.

Tell me more: India’s cumulative solar energy capacity stands at 9,012.66 MW, as per the government data.

 

Rs 3,400 crore

What is it? The amount Tamil Nadu government has said it will spend for desilting reservoirs and channels and restoration of lakes, according to chief minister O Panneerselvam.

Why is it important? This is one of the measures announced by the government as it declared the state to be drought-hit. As many as 144 farmers have reportedly committed suicide between October and December 2016 and the northeast monsoon, which hits Tamil Nadu during this period, has been the worst in 2016 over the last 140 years. The northeast monsoon is responsible for the state’s main rainy season and accounts for nearly half (48%) of its rainfall.

Tell me more: Tamil Nadu has announced measures including conversion of crop loans to medium-term loans, increasing the number of days of work under the national rural employment guarantee scheme to 150 from 100 and allocation of funds to improve drinking water resources. The state will send a petition to the central government asking for drought relief.

 

16.05 million

What is it? The number of people who have reportedly enrolled for Aadhaar in December 2016.

Why is it important? This was the highest enrollment in a month for the 12-digit unique identity number in a month last year. This comes after the government decided to withdraw high-value currency notes from November 9 and the its subsequent push to encourage Aadhaar-enabled financial transactions in a bid to create a less-cash economy. The first week of January 2017 saw 3.63 million people enrolling for Aadhaar, which takes the total number of Aadhaar enrolments to 1.1 billion, covering about 98% of India’s adult population.

Tell me more: The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is planning to coordinate with the Finance Ministry to draw up a plan to enable financial transactions using Aadhaar (and without the need for mobile phones) at places including petrol pumps and common service centres. Of the 112 crore bank accounts, 40 crore are already linked to Aadhaar.

 

1.2 million

What is it? The number of automobiles sold in the domestic market in December, 2016.

Why is it important? The decline is at a 16-year-low. Overall automobile sales fell by 18.6% year-on-year, not seen since December 2000’s drop of 21.8%. Automobile sales is a measure of consumer sentiments, especially their capacity for discretionary spends, and it has taken a beating after demonetisation as consumers still turn to cash for buying vehicles or restrict non-cash purchases because of negative sentiments.

Tell me more: Retail segments such as passenger cars and two-wheelers registered sharp drops at 8% and 22% respectively. Siam, the industry body releasing the data, says it is a temporary lull. Automobile sales had registered 23.7%, 20%, and 8% rise in August, September, and October, before sliding in November by 5.4%.

 

Rs 4,350 crore

What is it? The contract value won by ABB India to build a power transmission link for Power Grid Corporation of India, the national power grid operator.

Why is it important? This will be one of the longest systems in the world. The two-way link spanning 1,830-km will connect thermal and wind energy plants to high-consumption urban centres, from Chhattisgarh to Tamil Nadu. It will have a capacity of 6,000-megawatts, and once complete, supply electricity to 80 million people by 2019. The win saw ABB India’s stock rise 13% on Tuesday.

Tell me more: ABB India is tasked with installing an ultra-high-voltage 800-kilovolt system for the link. While ABB won the major chunk of the Rs 5,700-crore project, state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals won the remaining mandate.

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News in numbers, Jan 29, 2016: First batch of India’s smart cities, agromet services’ impact…

 

Rs 102.7 crore

What is it? Revenue earned by Power Grid Corporation of India from its telecom business in the third quarter ended December. It has seen a jump of 49.2% from the year-ago quarter’s Rs 68.9 crore.

Why is it important? It’s an indicator of 4G investments by Indian telecom companies. Power Grid, which is India’s biggest transmission company, is the only utility firm that has overhead optic fibre network (by using optical ground wire on power transmission lines), which is used by telecom companies to provide their services. Telecom companies have committed to an investment of Rs 1.75 lakh crore, of which Rs 1.15 lakh crore is for 4G spectrum in five auctions.

Tell me more: Power Grid’s revenue from its core business (transmission services) increased by nearly 23% to Rs 5,142.8 crore.  The company plans to raise Rs 2,000 crore through domestic bonds in February to meet its capital requirements to execute the ongoing projects.

 

3.54 crore

What is it? Number of people in 20 ‘smart’ cities.

Why it is important? These people would soon see their cities getting a makeover under the government’s ‘Smart Cities’ programme: citizen-friendly governance, promotion of a variety of transport options, uninterrupted power and water supplies, provision of housing and integration of urban planning with the smart city mission to address issues such as infrastructure, land use planning, urban design and architecture. The cities would receive an investment of Rs 50,802 crore over a five-year period.

Tell me more: The 20 cities, which include Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Pune (Maharashtra), Jaipur (Rajasthan), Surat (Gujarat) and Kochi (Kerala) were chosen out of 98 based on the proposals submitted by them. The government plans to create 100 smart cities by 2022.

 

4 million

What is it? Estimated number of people who could get infected by the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease, in the Americas region (North and South America), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Why is it important? Zika might turn into an epidemic, With cases being reported in 23 countries in the region and the virus “now spreading explosively”. The virus has been linked to severe birth defects in babies born in Brazil, though it has not yet been proved. There is no cure or vaccine for the virus and clinical trials for two potential candidates in the United may begin by the end of this year, meaning we are still years away from a possible cure/vaccine. The most common symptoms of zika virus disease are fever, rashes, joint pain and conjunctivitis or red eyes. The WHO, which came under fire for its slow response time when Ebola broke out in West Africa in 2014, has promised a quicker turnaround time to tackle the spread of zika virus.

Tell me more: Closer home, though there have been no cases reported in Singapore, the authorities are preparing for the worst, because it could be imported into the country by tourists, and it’s a tropical country, prone to mosquito-borne diseases.

 

6

What is it? Maximum number of tickets one can book per month on the IRCTC website, effective February 15.

Why is it important? Presently one can book 10 tickets a month. Railways says the change is to prevent misuse of the online ticketing system by touts. According to an analysis, 90% of the users booked up to six tickets a month online. This will affect certain passengers who travel by train frequently for work or other purposes.

Tell me more: Other checks put in place by the IRCTC are: one can book only two tickets using his/her user-id in a day for advance reservation booking from 8-10 am, an individual can book only two tickets per day per user-id under the ‘Tatkal’ option from 10 am to noon.

 

Rs 50,000 crore

What is it? Economic benefit of providing agro-meteorological (agromet) advisory services to farmers in 550 districts in 2015. These include weather updates and information on crop-weather relationships.

Why is it important? This provides some cushioning against the vagaries of the weather and also, helpful to most Indian farmers who rely on the monsoon for agricultural production. Rain-fed agriculture accounts for over two-thirds of India’s cropped area, which provides livelihoods to 48 crore people. If all the farmers are provided with the agromet services, the potential economic benefit is estimated to be Rs 2.11 lakh crore.

Tell me more: Agromet services are also being provided through text and voice messages on mobile phones to over 2 million farmers currently.

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