Chopper Crash Brings Maintenance, Infrastructure, Training Issues Back To The Fore

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By The Economic Times

Inadequate maintenance, infrastructure problems including ill-equipped offshore helidecks, lax regulation and lack of proper crew training at operators such as state-run Pawan Hans Helicopters bog down chopper operations in India.
The issues have been brought to the fore again by the weekend’s helicopter crash. The aircraft, belonging to Oil & Natural Gas Corp and operated by Pawan Hans, crashed 30 nautical miles off Mumbai’s coast, killing five ONGC officials and two crew members on board.
While the final jury is out on the incident, sources ET spoke to primarily blamed poor maintenance of aircraft for such accidents.
“This aircraft which crashed had just returned from routine inspection and was doing its first revenue flight,” said a person in the know.
The pilot was experienced and the plane was new, made in 2010 and with just 7,000 hours of flying, he said. That would evidently leave poor maintenance as the reason, he added. Read More…

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Japan In Driver’s Seat For Indian Bullet Train Deals

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By The Economic Times

Japanese steel and engineering companies are in the driver’s seat to bag major supply contracts for a $17 billion Indian bullet train, several sources said, undermining a key component of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic policy – a push to ‘Make in India’.

Japan is funding most of the project, and Japanese companies are likely to supply at least 70 percent of the core components of the rail line, said five sources in New Delhi with direct knowledge of the matter.

A spokesman for Modi’s office declined comment.

A Japanese transport ministry official involved in the project said the two countries were still working out a strategy for the supply of key components, and would unveil a plan for procurements around July. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

The September 2017 agreement between Japan and India for the bullet train project included two clauses – the promotion of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Transfer of Technology’ – through which New Delhi had hoped to set up manufacturing facilities in the country, generate jobs and get a toehold in Japanese technology. Modi faces a general election in 2019 and is under pressure to provide more jobs to millions of unemployed in India. Critics also say the bullet train is wasteful and that the money could be better used elsewhere. Read More…

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Indian Oil Planning To Enhance Fuel Trade With Bangladesh, Myanmar

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By The Economic Times

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the nation’s largest refiner and fossil fuel retailer, is in talks with Bangladesh and Myanmar to enhance trade of petroleum products and offer its expertise to set up oil infrastructure in the two countries.
This month, IndianOil will open offices in Bangladesh and Myanmar, with a plan to closely pursue business opportunities in the two countries.
“For the neighbouring countries, we are not only looking for business, we are looking for association beyond business. Because these countries are also facing similar problems which we have encountered in past, we will be happy to share our experience with them and help them in solving whatever problems they are facing,” IndianOil chairman Sanjiv Singh told ET.
The first thing that may materialise in a month or so is a deal for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), or cooking gas, under which Bangladesh would export LPG to India’s northeastern states. “We are working on concepts that their trucks can come to India and give us LPG. Rather than we trying to feed those parts of North-East, all along from Haldia, it makes tremendous sense (to depend on Bangladesh trucks for supply),” Singh said.
Bangladesh imports all LPG it needs, and the plan is to augment import for supply to north-eastern states. Read More…

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EESL Invites Bid For 2,000 Electric Vehicle Chargers For Phase II

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By The Economic Times

State-run Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) has invited a bid for 2,000 electric vehicle chargers for the second phase of its EV programme, which will see the rollout of 9,500 electric vehicles across different states.

“We have invited the bid for 2,000 electric vehicle chargers. We will need more chargers, of course, but we want to do it in phases,” Saurabh Kumar, managing director at EESL, told ET.

EESL, which is a joint venture of PSUs under the power ministry, had floated a global tender for 10,000 electric vehicles to replace the government fleet. The tender was split in two parts, where 500 vehicles were to be procured in phase one, while the remaining would be procured in the second phase.

The roll out of the first 500 cars has already begun in Delhi, and the second phase will see 9,500 electric cars being leased to government authorities on a pan-India basis.

While the previously announced tender for 4,000 electric chargers was scrapped by EESL, they floated a pilot tender of about a 100 chargers for the first phase and the results have been satisfactory, Kumar said, adding, “Now, we have tested these (chargers) and everything is in place. Therefore we now feel that these specifications can work on the ground.” Read More…

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Piyush Goyal Aims To Make Mumbai India’s Best Transport Hub By August 2022

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By The Hindustan Times

Union railway minister Piyush Goyal wants Mumbai to be the best transport hub in India by August 2022.

In a meeting of officials from the railways, state government, MMRDA and BMC and attended by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday, Goyal told the officials to work in coordination to ensure the city has the best public transport system in India.

Goyal is pushing for implementation of Rs50,000-crore Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) 3A, which includes improving the current suburban railway network, building new projects such as elevated railway and also extending the suburban railway network to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), which is implementing MUTP-3A was asked to complete all projects by 2022, said an official, who was present at the meeting.

Some of the major projects include CSMT-Panvel elevated corridor, Panvel-Virar suburban railway line, harbour railway extension till Borivli, fifth and sixth line between Borivli and Virar, third and fourth line between Kalyan and Badlapur and communication-based train control (CBTC) on harbour line.

The project will be funded jointly by the state government and the MRVC. “Coordination of work is required in order to meet the deadline. The minister has asked all nodal agencies to work together and solve commuting woes and make the city the best transport hub. The work has already begun in full swing,” said a senior MRVC official, who attended the meeting.

“We have submitted a proposal to the state government. The approval is expected within a week. The project approval will then go to the railway board, after which the plans for diversification of different works will be made,” said the official.

The different projects under MUTP-3A will give the much-needed relief to commuters. A case in point could be the elevated corridor between CSMT and Panvel, which will not just help people living in Navi Mumbai, but will also become a connecting point to the new airport in Navi Mumbai and the existing airport.

The Panvel- Virar suburban line will help commuters from Navi Mumbai travel on the western railway. They currently switch between central and western line at Dadar railway station.

The fifth and sixth lines between Borivli and Virar will improve punctuality of local trains, as it will segregate the suburban and long-distance trains up till Virar.

The CBTC will help railways to operate more trains on the harbour line.

The procurement of the new trains will increase the number of air-conditioned (AC) local trains in the city. The MRVC plans to procure 210 AC local trains under MUTP-3A and the railways later plans to convert all regular 0local trains into AC ones. Read More

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India To Auction 55 Oil And Gas Exploration Blocks

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By The Economic Times (Reuters)

India will begin the auction of 55 oil and gas exploration blocks from Thursday under new rules, the country’s first licensing round after eight years, as it seeks to unlock its vast hydrocarbon resources, the upstream regulator said.

The world’s third biggest oil importer last year eased rules and allowed companies to carve out areas where they want to drill to attract greater interest and quickly monetise as much as 220 billion barrels of oil and gas resources.

The identified blocks, spread over a 59,000 sq. km area, will now go under the hammer with some advantages given to companies that first identified the area.

“We are now putting up the blocks for bidding to ensure transparency and greater participation,” Atanu Chakraborty, head of India’s Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, told Reuters.

India imports nearly three-quarters of its energy requirements but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of cutting the country’s fuel import dependency to two-thirds by 2022 and to half by 2030.

In previous licensing rounds, India had muted response from global oil firms but Chakraborty is hopeful of getting a good response as oil prices are moving up.

“With oil prices now looking up, we anticipate good interest and more people would come in for exploration,” he said.

The last date to submit bids is on April 3 and the contracts are expected to be signed by the end of July, he said.

“This is the biggest offering (of blocks) in the last decade and we are offering a high-quality area, as the companies themselves have chosen it,” he said.

About 65 percent of the 55 blocks are on land and mostly in the northeastern state of Assam and western states of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

India is estimated to hold 42 billion tonnes or 315 billion barrels of oil and gas resources, he said.

“Of this, 220 billion barrels are yet to be recovered,” he said. Read More

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