COVID 19 Spread : Status Update India as of August 8th

There are over 19 million cases of COVID-19 in the world today with over 729586 deaths. In India there has been 2152020 ( covid19india.org) cases till 18th July with 43453 deaths. Here is a summary of the situation in India.

ALL INDIA

Data Source: covid19india.org

There are over 399849 new cases in the week of 2nd to 8th August with 35 states and Union territories impacted all across the country. The weekly growth rate declined second week in a row. There has been a 23% increase in the total number of cases in the week. During this week there has been a 16% increase in the total number of deaths from 37408 in the week ending on 1st August to 43453 in the week ending on 8th August.

Data Source: covid19india.org

India has maintained a high recovery rate of 68% till August 8th. This is higher than the world recovery rate of 64%. In terms of death rate, India has lower death rate as compared to the world death rate of 3.7%.

Data Source: covid19india.org

STATE

Data Source: covid19india.org

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are the top three states and UTs in terms of the spread of COVID-19 cases. The three states together account for over 46% of all the cases in the country. Maharashtra alone contributes to 23% of all the cases in the country. Karnataka and Delhi are the other two states in the top 5.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Both in terms of number of cases and number of deaths per million, India has lesser number compared to the world average. However there are 9 states in India which has higher number of cases per million than even the world average and there are 2 states which have higher number of deaths per million than the world average. Among the states with over 20,000 cases, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have highest number of cases per million Of them Delhi and Maharashtra not only have the highest number of cases per million but also highest number of deaths per million. Goa, Ladakh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andamn & Nicobar Islands and Karnataka are the other states/UTs apart from Maharashtra, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh which have higher number of cases per million than world average. In terms of number of cases per million, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have the lowest number of cases among states with over 20,000 cases. Kerala , Bihar and Assam has the lowest number of deaths per million among states with over 20,000 cases.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Delhi, Haryana and Tamil Nadu are the top three states among recovery rate while Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are the bottom three states among all the states which have over 20000 cases of COVID 19. Nine states have higher recovery rate than the national average.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Gujarat is the only state in India which has a death rate higher than the world average. Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi are the top three states in terms of death rate. Assam, Kerala and Bihar has the lowest death rate among all states with over 20000 cases of corona.

CITY

Data Source: covid19india.org

Over 38% of all the cases in the country comes from 10 cities in the country with over 53% of all the deaths. Another 9.4% comes from the next 10 cities with around 7.0% of all the deaths. So only 20 cities put together contribute to over 47.6% of all the cases in the country. The share of rest of India has been rising over weeks suggesting more spread of the virus.

Data Source: covid19india.org

There are over 30 cities in India which have a higher number of cases per million compared to the world average of 2541.Twenty one cities have higher number of deaths per million than the world average of 94. Chennai, Mumbai and Pune are in the top 5 cities both in terms of number of cases per million and number of deaths per million. So utmost focus needs to given to control spread of the virus in these cities. The number of cases per million in Chennai, the top state is comparable to the 10th place country in the world in terms of number of cases per million. The same for Kamrup M is comparable to 12th place country in the world. Similarly Mumbai which has the highest number of death per million in the country is comparable to the 9th place country in the world in terms of number of deaths per million.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Delhi has the highest number of cases followed by Mumbai. Both cities together account for 12.0% of the total cases in India. But 25% of all the deaths comes from these two cities. In the top 10 cities there are three cities from Maharashtra ( Mumbai, Thane, Pune), one each from Tamil Nadu (Chennai), Telangana ( Hyderabad), Gujarat ( Ahmedabad), Karnataka ( Bengaluru), West Bengal (Kolkata) and Andhra Pradesh (East Godavari).

In terms of death rate, Ahmadabad has been leading with over 5.9% death rate. Mumbai which has the second highest number of cases also has a very high death rate of 5.5%. Kolkata is the third city which have a death rate. Both Ahmadabad and Mumbai have higher death rate than the world average.

July brings much needed cheer for India’s 2-wheeler and Passenger Vehicle businesses

The nation wide lockdown imposed in the last week of March, 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic brought businesses across the country to a near standstill. The situation made matters worse for the automobile segment which had already suffered it’s worst year in nearly two decades in 2019. Sales hit near blank in April with showrooms closed and remained very low even in May. Some positive movement was observed in June with the lockdown gradually eased. Now, July has finally brought some cheer for India’s 2-wheeler and passenger vehicle (PV) makers with all major players registering growth over June. However, in a stark reminder of the severe economic blow of covid-19, year-on-year figures remain in the red for all top 2-wheeler manufacturers and also for many of the PV OEMs.

Snapshot of 2-wheeler segment:

Sales in no. of units (source: carandbike.com, rushlane.com)

As can be observed, all the major players have taken a major hit in July sales compared to same period a month ago with market leader Hero Moto Corp having the best performance. With the pandemic still raging, people are wary of using public transport and this has had a major effect on the boost in sales from last month especially for the top 3, according to experts.

Snapshot of Passenger Vehicles segment:

(Sales in no. of units; source: autocarindia.com, rushlane.com)

In the passenger vehicle segment, it has been bit of a mixed-bag scenario. In an encouraging development, market leader Maruti Suzuki India has been able to register a small positive movement y-o-y while no. 2 Hyundai Motors coming close to matching last year July sales. Both have registered bumper growth vis-à-vis last month. TATA Motors and Renault had strong showing compared to same period last year, albeit on a smaller base. New entrants like MG India and KIA Motors continued their positive movement. Mahindra, Toyota, Honda and Ford witnessed sharp de-growth y-o-y although all had significantly better nos. compared to June.

Conclusion: With economic activities getting further relaxations in August, it is hoped that the automotive sector will be able to maintain its positive momentum in the current month as well.

Core sectors output continues to shrink in June, rate of contraction reduces

The output of the eight core sectors continued to shrink for a 4th consecutive month in June, as the economy gradually comes out of a nationwide lockdown imposed in end-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Data released by the Commerce & Industry Ministry earlier today showed that the output of the core sectors shrank by 15% in June’20 – the rate of contraction stood at 22% in May – as compared to a 1.2% growth in corresponding period of 2019. Overall, the core sector output has dropped by 24.6% in the April-June quarter, compared to a 3.4% growth in the same period last year.

For the second consecutive month, Fertilizers was the only core sector that registered positive movement – a growth of 4.2% in June. All the other core sectors remained in the negative zone:

  • Steel : – 33.8%
  • Coal : – 15.5%
  • Natural gas : – 12%
  • Electricity generation : – 11%
  • Refinery products : – 8.9%
  • Cement : – 6.9%
  • Crude oil : – 6%

These 8 core sectors contribute 40.27% in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). The May IIP had witnessed a 34.7% contraction y-o-y. With economic activities gradually resuming from May and picking up some pace in June, it is expected that an improvement will be observed in June IIP figure.

Key highlights of the new Education policy 2020

The Union Cabinet today approved the proposed new Education Policy 2020. The key changes proposed are as below:

* HRD Ministry to be renamed Education Ministry

* Education sector to get 6% of GDP from 1.7% earlier

* MPhil courses to be discontinued. All courses at UG, PG and PhD levels to be inter-disciplinary

* Even engineering institutions, such as IITs, will move towards more holistic and multidisciplinary education with more arts and humanities. Students of arts and humanities will aim to learn more science

* The undergraduate degree courses will be of either 3 or 4- year duration, with multiple exit options. A certificate course after completing 1 year in a discipline or field, including vocational and professional areas, or a diploma after 2 years of study, or a Bachelor’s degree after a 3-year programme. The 4-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programme, however, shall be the preferred option

* All higher education institutions, except legal and medical colleges, to be governed by a single body

* All districts to have at least one large multi-disciplinary institution by 2030

* Board exams in schools will be low stakes, and test actual knowledge instead of “rote learning”

* Home language, mother tongue or regional language to be medium of instruction till class 5

* Three languages learned by children will be the choices of States, regions, and of the students, so long as at least two of the three languages are native to India

* Report cards will be a comprehensive report on skills and capabilities instead of just marks and statements

* Common norms will be in place for public and private higher education institutions

* Fees charged by institutes to be capped

* Common entrance examination to be held for admission to universities and higher education institutions

* The ministry also announced that there will be holistic and multidisciplinary education in terms of flexibility of subjects

* Other features include graded academic, administrative and financial autonomy of institutions

* E-courses to be developed in regional languages; virtual labs to be developed and a National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) is being created

* National mission will focus on basic literacy and basic numeracy

* National Assessment Center, PARAKH has been created for assessment of students

* Major changes to be introduced in pedagogical structure of curriculum with no rigid separation between streams; all separations between vocational and academic and curricular and extra-curricular will also be removed

* School curriculum to be reduced to be reduced to core concepts and there will be integration of vocational education from class 6

* Every child to learn at least one vocational course in school and be exposed to several more. Sampling of important vocational crafts, such as carpentry, electric work, metal work, gardening, pottery making, etc., as decided by States and local communities during Grades 6-8

* By 2025, at least 50% of learners through the school and higher education system shall have exposure to vocational education

* A 10-day bagless period sometime during Grades 6-8 to intern with local vocational experts such as carpenters, gardeners, potters, artists, etc.

* Similar internship opportunities to learn vocational subjects to students throughout Grades 6-12, including holiday periods. Vocational courses through online mode will also be made available

* The Policy targets to increase Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education including vocational education from 26.3% (2018) to 50% by 2035

* At least 3.5 crore new seats to be added to higher education institutes

* School complexes to be used for adult education courses in after-school hours

* Under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence, State Governments may encourage opening NCC wings in their secondary and higher secondary schools, including those located in tribal dominated areas

* Free boarding facilities will be built – matching the standard of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas particularly for students who from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds

* National Scholarship portal for SC, ST, OBC, SEDGs students to be expanded

* A dedicated unit for the purpose of orchestrating the building of digital infrastructure, digital content and capacity building will be created in the MHRD to look after the e-education needs of both school and higher education

* By 2030, minimum educational qualification for teaching will be a 4-year integrated B.Ed. degree

* The nutrition and health (including mental health) of children will be addressed, through healthy meals and regular health check-ups, and health cards will be issued to monitor the same

* Students of class 6 and onwards will be taught coding in schools as a part of 21st century skills, school education secretary said

* High performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries. Selected universities like those from among the top 100 universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India

COVID 19 Spread : Status Update India as of July 25th

There are over 16 million cases of COVID-19 in the world today with over 648445 deaths. In India there has been 1385494 ( covid19india.org) cases till 18th July with 32096 deaths. Here is a summary of the situation in India.

ALL INDIA LEVEL

Data Source: covid19india.org

There are over 307775 new cases in the week of 19th to 25th July with 35 states and Union territories impacted all across the country. The weekly growth rate marginally increased second week in a row. There has been a 29% increase in the total number of cases in the week. During this week there has been a 20% increase in the total number of deaths from 26828 in the week ending on 18th July to 32096 in the week ending on 25th July.

Data Source: covid19india.org

India has maintained a high recovery rate of 64% till July 25th. This is higher than the world recovery rate of 61%. In terms of death rate, India has lower death rate as compared to the world death rate of 4.0%.

Data Source: covid19india.org

STATE LEVEL

Data Source: covid19india.org

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi are the top three states and UTs in terms of the spread of COVID-19 cases. The three states together account for over 50% of all the cases in the country. Maharashtra alone contributes to 26% of all the cases in the country. Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are the other two states in the top 5. Andhra Pradesh has over 95% weekly growth in the number of cases and is becoming the new hotspot of the country. Two districts in Andhra Pradesh, East Godavari and Kurnool are seeing a surge in number of cases. Karnataka, Kerala, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim are other states with over 50% growth rate this week.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Both in terms of number of cases and number of deaths per million, India has lesser number compared to the world average. However there are 5 states in India which has higher number of cases per million than even the world average and there are 2 states which have higher number of deaths per million than the world average. Among the states with over 10,000 cases, Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu not only have the highest number of cases per million but also highest number of deaths per million. Goa and Ladakh are the other two states/UTs apart from Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu which have higher number of cases per million than world average. In terms of number of cases per million, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have the lowest number of cases among states with over 10,000 cases. Kerala , Bihar and Assam has the lowest number of deaths per million among states with over 10,000 cases.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Delhi, Haryana and Telangana are the top three states among recovery rate while Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are the bottom three states among all the states which have over 10000 cases of COVID 19. Eleven states have higher recovery rate than the national average.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Gujarat is the only state in India which has a death rate higher than the world average. Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are the top three states in terms of death rate. Assam, Kerala and Bihar has the lowest death rate among all states with over 10000 cases of corona.

Let us deep dive on the top 3 states which account for over 50% of all cases in India.

Data Source: covid19india.org

The total number of new cases in Maharashtra has been over 65431 this week, the highest till date. There has been a decline in death rate since last four weeks It is important to note here that Maharashtra is among the bottom five states in terms of recovery rate among the states with more than 10000 cases and is among the top three among the death rate. For the state which accounts for over 26% of the total cases in the country, this is an alarming situation. Pune , Thane and Mumbai show the highest growth in number of cases among the districts.

Data Source: covid19india.org

The total number of new cases in Tamil Nadu has been over 41023 this week, the highest till date. There has been constant increase in death rate from the week of May, 23rd. It needs to be noted here that Tamil Nadu has one of the lowest death rates among the states with highest spread and its recovery rate is also decent. Chennai remains the hotspot in the state.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Delhi has seen 7949 cases this week. There has been a decline in growth in Delhi cases since last three weeks. The death rate also is seeing a marginal decline from last 3 weeks. Delhi had seen a increase in recovery rate as well. It has the highest recovery rate in the country today. This was becoming the hot spot till last week of June with growing number of cases. Now it is showing signs of recovery.

CITY LEVEL

Data Source: covid19india.org

Over 45% of all the cases in the country comes from 10 cities in the country with over 60% of all the deaths. Another 8.7% comes from the next 10 cities with around 8.5% of all the deaths. So only 20 cities put together contribute to over 55% of all the cases in the country. The share of rest of India has been rising over weeks suggesting more spread of the virus.

Data Source: covid19india.org

There are over 30 cities in India which have a higher number of cases per million compared to the world average of 2079. Fifteen cities have higher number of deaths per million than the world average of 78. Chennai, Mumbai and Thane are in the top 5 cities both in terms of number of cases per million and number of deaths per million. So utmost focus needs to given to control spread of the virus in these cities. The number of cases per million in Chennai, the top state is comparable to the 10th and 11th place country in the world in terms of number of cases per million. Similarly Mumbai which has the highest number of death per million in the country is comparable to the 9th place country in the world in terms of number of deaths per million.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Delhi has the highest number of cases followed by Mumbai. Both cities together account for 17.0% of the total cases in India. But 31% of all the deaths comes from these two cities. In the top 10 cities there are three cities from Maharashtra ( Mumbai, Thane, Pune), one each from Tamil Nadu (Chennai), Telangana ( Hyderabad), Gujarat ( Ahmedabad), Karnataka ( Bengaluru), West Bengal (Kolkata) and Assam (Kamrup M).

In terms of death rate, Ahmadabad has been leading with over 6.2% death rate. Mumbai which has the second highest number of cases also has a very high death rate of 5.6%. Kolkata is the third city which have a death rate. Both Ahmadabad and Mumbai have higher death rate than the world average.

Serious fraud in GST refunds comes to light

In a worrying development, it has come to light that more than 1300 exporters who have wrongfully claimed Rs. 1875 crores GST refunds have been found untraceable in their at their registered place of business. Exporters get refund of the taxes that go into the raw materials and services used as it cannot be part of the international price of their exports. Additionally, the government has also identified 7516 business entities as “risky” exporters basis red flags raised against these by various statutory agencies. Exporters are identified as ‘risky’ on the basis of specific risk indicators based on data relating to customs, GST, income tax and foreign trade transactions.

Among the 1300+ missing exporters, seven were accredited as “STAR” exporters. Additionally, 3 other STAR rated have also been reported under “adverse” category to The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC). These 10 exporters together have claimed Integrated GST (IGST) refund of Rs 28.9 crores deceitfully, as per the media reports on the matter. The reports quote an unidentified official in further claiming that authorities have suspended IGST refund or drawback claim worth Rs1,363 crore in the case of 2,830 risky exporters.

Refund of tax credits has always been a matter of debate with government agencies remaining skeptical of the possibilities of fraud in grant approval process. On the other hand, business houses state that delay in refund processing adversely impact their liquidity position, making it a tricky affair. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses were granted additional time to file tax returns and audit reports in addition to given relief on interests and late fees payable. With the economy gradually coming out of the 2+ month long lockdown, statutory agencies are now starting to focus more on compliance with such violations coming to light.

COVID 19 Spread : Status Update India as of July 18th

There are over 14 million cases of COVID-19 in the world today with over 604903 deaths. In India there has been 1077719 ( covid19india.org) cases till 18th July with 26828 deaths. Here is a summary of the situation in India.

ALL INDIA LEVEL

Data Source: covid19india.org

There are over 227361 new cases in the week of 12th to 18th July with 35 states and Union territories impacted all across the country. The weekly growth rate marginally increased from last week. There has been a 27% increase in the total number of cases in the week. During this week there has been a 18% increase in the total number of deaths from 22687 in the week ending on 11th July to 26828 in the week ending on 18th July. So in this week the growth rate of number of deaths was lesser than that of the overall cases.

Data Source: covid19india.org

India has maintained a high recovery rate of 63% till July 18th. This is higher than the world recovery rate of 60%. In terms of death rate, India has lower death rate as compared to the world death rate of 4.2%.

Data Source: covid19india.org

STATE LEVEL

Data Source: covid19india.org

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi are the top three states and UTs in terms of the spread of COVID-19 cases. The three states together account for over 55% of all the cases in the country. Maharashtra alone contributes to 28% of all the cases in the country.Karnataka and Gujarat are the other two states in the top 5. Karnataka, Bihar, Kerala, Meghalaya and Sikkim have over 50% growth rate this week.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Both in terms of number of cases and number of deaths per million, India has lesser number compared to the world average. However there are 5 states in India which has higher number of cases per million than even the world average and there are 2 states which have higher number of deaths per million than the world average. Among the states with over 10,000 cases, Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu not only have the highest number of cases per million but also highest number of deaths per million. Goa and Ladakh are the other two states/UTs apart from Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu which have higher number of cases per million than world average. In terms of number of cases per million, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have the lowest number of cases among states with over 10,000 cases. Kerala , Bihar and Assam has the lowest number of deaths per million among states with over 10,000 cases.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan are the top three states among recovery rate while Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are the bottom three states among all the states which have over 10000 cases of COVID 19. Nine states have higher recovery rate than the national average.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Gujarat is the only state in India which has a death rate higher than the world average. Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are the top three states in terms of death rate. Assam, Kerala and Odhisa has the lowest death rate among all states with over 10000 cases of corona.

Let us deep dive on the top 3 states which account for over 55% of all cases in India.

Data Source: covid19india.org

The total number of new cases in Maharashtra has been over 54337 this week, the highest till date. There has been a decline in death rate since last three weeks It is important to note here that Maharashtra is among the bottom five states in terms of recovery rate among the states with more than 10000 cases and is among the top three among the death rate. For the state which accounts for over 28% of the total cases in the country, this is an alarming situation. One silver lining is that the spread in Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum has been arrested and this has been lauded by World Health Organisation as well.

Data Source: covid19india.org

The total number of new cases in Tamil Nadu has been over 31488 this week, the highest till date. There has been marginal increase in death rate from the week of May, 23rd. It needs to be noted here that Tamil Nadu has one of the lowest death rates among the states with highest spread and its recovery rate is also decent.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Delhi has seen over 10000 cases this week. There has been a decline in growth in Delhi cases since last two weeks. The death rate also is seeing a marginal decline from last 3 weeks. Delhi had seen a increase in recovery rate as well. This was becoming the hot spot till last week of June with growing number of cases. Now it is showing signs of recovery.

CITY LEVEL

Data Source: covid19india.org

Over 51% of all the cases in the country comes from 10 cities in the country with over 64% of all the deaths. Another 8.4% comes from the next 10 cities with around 7.5% of all the deaths. So only 20 cities put together contribute to over 60% of all the cases in the country. The share of rest of India has been rising over weeks suggesting more spread of the virus.

Data Source: covid19india.org

There are over 25 cities in India which have a higher number of cases per million compared to the world average of 1851. Thirteen cities have higher number of deaths per million than the world average of 78. Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Thane are in the top 5 cities both in terms of number of cases per million and number of deaths per million. So utmost focus needs to given to control spread of the virus in these cities. The number of cases per million in Chennai, the top state is comparable to the 10th place country in the world in terms of number of cases per million. Similarly Mumbai which has the highest number of death per million in the country is comparable to the 9th place country in the world in terms of number of deaths per million.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Delhi has the highest number of cases followed by Mumbai. Both cities together account for 21.0% of the total cases in India. But 34% of all the deaths comes from these two cities. In the top 10 cities there are four cities from Maharashtra ( Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Palgarh), one each from Tamil Nadu (Chennai), Telangana ( Hyderabad), Gujarat ( Ahmedabad), Karnataka ( Bengaluru) and West Bengal (Kolkata).

In terms of death rate, Ahmadabad has been leading with over 6.4% death rate. Mumbai which has the second highest number of cases also has a very high death rate of 5.6%. Kolkata is the third city which have a death rate more than the world average.

India’s new Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) draft 2020 – a critical assessment

With the entire country battling the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic for more than 3 months now, the current year has been one of the most difficult ones for the nation. During this lockdown period, two separate incidents had caused major environmental damage. On May 7th, a polymer industrial plant in Vizag leaked toxic gas into the surrounding environment, killing 12 people, besides many hospitalized. The 2nd incident happened in Assam and hence received less coverage in national media. A gas well in Baghjan of Assam’s Tinsukia district suffered a blow out on May 27th. The fire kept burning for days and June 9th, the explosion was so severe that it was visible from as far as 30 kms. 2 firefighters died trying to contain the fire and hundreds of local residents were shifted to save them from danger. But an immeasurable damage was caused to the local environment. The Baghjan oil field is in close proximity to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park – the oil spill in the local waterbodies led to severe damage to marine life and among the heartbreaking images was the burnt carcass of a critically endangered river dolphin.

In both the above incidents, the environmental clearance issued for the enterprises to operate comes under question. Especially more so in case of the Baghjan oil blowout given the rich biodiversity of Dibru-Saikhowa – home to 36 Mammalian species and close to 400 bird species. In this article, we explore the proposed amendments in the Environmental Impact Assessment that is currently under progress.

The Background: India was one of the signatories to the Stockholm Declaration (1972) on Environment and enacted statutes to regulate water pollution and air pollution in 1974 and ’81, respectively. However, it was the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984 which generated the need for an umbrella environment clearance mechanism leading to the EIA getting introduced in 1994. A further amendment happened in 2006. Every development project in India has to go through the EIA before it is allowed to start operating. Over time, there have been discontent regarding the EIA – the main objection being that it involves multiple levels of bureaucracy and red tapism that leads to slowdown of development projects. However, environmentalists have counter argued that to ensure balance between development and environment, a monitoring agency is critical and indispensable.

Current Development: On March 12, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF & CC) put the draft of the modified EIA in the public domain and requested views from different stakeholders on the same within 60 days. With the lockdown coming into effect at midnight of 25th March, various agencies voiced objection regarding the turnaround time and the ministry, taking cognizance of the same, extended it further to June 30th. Delhi High Court has since set August 11 as the last day for airing of views regarding the draft EIA. Modifications proposed in the draft EIA have come under criticism of environment experts. Some of the major concerns from experts are as below:

Lack of transparency in project details: The new draft fundamentally alters how projects related to coal mining, real estate and power generation get cleared. It gives the government a blanket authority to “Tag and clear” any project as one of “national importance”. No details of such projects will be available in public domain – this lack of transparency could see projects getting cleared without the necessary pre-diligence, experts fear.

Treatment of violations / “post-facto” clearance: In March, 2017, a new notification was issued with respect to treatment of violators with respect to EIA. This has new been formally proposed in the new EIA. As per this new proposal, any agency found to be in violation of environmental norms can continue the work subject to payment of a sizeable penalty – they need to provide two plans for remedy and compensate the estimated damage to the ecology in the range of 1.5-2 times. In other words, a kind of “post facto” clearance. However, as anyone can well appreciate, compensating for damage to a fragile eco-system is well nigh impossible. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has consistently opposed the “post facto” process.

EIA is hardly full proof: While the EIA has been in place since 1994, in reality it has often failed to serve the desired purpose. The reports on potential environmental damage are frequently shoddy and lacking in details. Moreover, consulting agencies that prepare these reports for a fee are easily influenced. A classic example was the construction of the Commonwealth Games (CWG) Village in Delhi for the 2010 CWG. Prior to the construction, several experts had warned that the location was on the Yamuna Plains. But NEERI, a top government agency carried out a survey and adjudged that the construction spot was not on the riverine plains. In the first monsoon after the construction was over, the complex was flooded showing the lacunae in the assessment process. Experts fear that with the dilution of checks in the new draft, such instances are likely to increase.

Too much discretionary power: The new draft increases the discretionary powers invested on the government manifold, argue environment experts. For e.g. it is proposed that hydro-electric projects below 25 MW will be exempt from EIA. However, this decision also opens up the possibility of a large hydel project in an ecologically sensitive zone like the Himalayas could be presented as a multitude of <25 MW ones on paper to get the exemption from EIA. Similarly, it is also proposed that linear projects like roadways and pipelines within 100 KMs aerial distance from international border/line of control/line of actual control will not require any form of public hearing. This new measure would put the North-East, an incredibly rich treasure trove of bio diversity at risk of significant environmental damage with little or no public scrutiny. Also, widening of national highways and projects of inland waterways are also proposed to be made free of EIA clearance. Given that significant stretches of national highways pass through forested areas, this is also a potentially dangerous decision.

Relaxation of norms: Of particular concern to experts are proposed dilution of norms. Some of these include (a) Validity of environment clearance for mining projects proposed to be extended from 30 years to 50 years (b) Similar extension of river valley projects from 10 years to 15 years (c) Time limit for members of the public to submit their views on hearing of application seeking environmental clearance to be reduced from 30 days to 25 days (d) The last amendment of the EIA in 2006 required the promoting agency to submit a report detailing progress and impact assessments to surrounding environment once every 6 months. The new draft proposes to increase the frequency to once a year. All the changes potentially can lead to significantly greater risk to the environment with lesser scope of scrutiny.

It is no doubt that development is a critical part of ensuring betterment in the lives of greater number of people. However, such betterment needs to also be done with caution and respect to the environment. World over, we are witnessing the adverse consequences of damage mankind is causing nature with rise in natural calamities like forest fires, cyclones, floods and so on. India already ranked a low 177 out of 180 counties in the Environment Performance Index (EPI) of 2018. Sacrificing naturals conservation at the altars of development would only lead to accelerated harm to the ecology. The way forward should be to ensure that bureaucratic obstacles in the EIA process are minimized ensuring faster clearance for critical projects but at the same time, keeping strong checks on potential ecological damage. Else, disasters like the one recently at Baghjan would keep recurring time and time again.

COVID 19 Spread : Status Update India as of July 11th

There are over 12 million cases of COVID-19 in the world today with over 567653 deaths. In India there has been 850358 ( covid19india.org) cases till 27th June with 22687 deaths. Here is a summary of the situation in India.

ALL INDIA LEVEL ANALYSIS

Data source: covid19india.org

There are over 177663 new cases in the week of 5th to 11th July with 35 states and Union territories impacted all across the country. The weekly growth rate marginally declinedfrom last week. There has been a 26% increase in the total number of cases in the week. During this week there has been a 18% increase in the total number of deaths from 19280 in the week ending on 4th July to 22687 in the week ending on 11th July. So in this week the growth rate of number of deaths was lesser than that of the overall cases.

Data Source: covid19india.org

India has maintained a high recovery rate of 63% till July 11th. This is higher than the world recovery rate of 58%. There has been a increase in recovery rate also this week. In terms of death rate, India has lower death rate as compared to the world death rate of 4.4%.

Data Source: covid19india.org

STATE LEVEL ANALYSIS

Data Source: covid19india.org

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi are the top three states and UTs in terms of the spread of COVID-19 cases. The three states together account for over 58% of all the cases in the country. Maharashtra alone contributes to 29% of all the cases in the country. Gujarat and Karnataka are the other two states in the top 5. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya and Sikkim have over 50% growth rate this week.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Delhi, Rajasthan and Haryana are the top three states among recovery rate while Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are the bottom three states among all the states which have over 5000 cases of COVID 19. Thirteen states have higher recovery rate than the national average.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Gujarat is the only state in India which has a death rate higher than the world average. Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are the top three states in terms of death rate. Assam, Kerala and Odhisa has the lowest death rate among all states with over 5000 cases of corona.

Let us deep dive on the top 3 states which account for over 58% of all cases in India.

Data Source: covid19india.org

The total number of new cases in Maharashtra has been over 46000 this week, the highest till date. There has been a marginal decline in death rate since last three weeks It is important to note here that Maharashtra is among the bottom four states in terms of recovery rate among the states with more than 5000 cases and is among the top three among the death rate. For the state which accounts for over 29% of the total cases in the country, this is an alarming situation. One silver lining is that the spread in Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum has been arrested and this has been lauded by World Health Organisation as well.

Data Source: covid19india.org

The total number of new cases in Tamil Nadu has been over 27000 this week, the highest till date. There has been marginal increase in death rate from the week of May, 23rd. It needs to be noted here that Tamil Nadu has one of the lowest death rates among the states with highest spread and its recovery rate is also decent.

Data Source: covid19india.org

Delhi has seen over 13000 cases this week. There has been a decline in growth in Delhi cases since last week. The death rate also is seeing a marginal decline from last 2 weeks. Delhi had seen a increase in recovery rate as well. This was becoming the hot spot till last week of June with growing number of cases. Now it is showing signs of recovery.

CITY LEVEL ANALYSIS

Data Source: covid19india.org

Almost 54% of all the cases in the country comes from 10 cities in the country with over 65% of all the deaths. Another 8.2% comes from the next 10 cities with around 8% of all the deaths. So only 20 cities put together contribute to over 62% of all the cases in the country. The share of rest of India has been rising over weeks suggesting more spread of the virus.

Delhi has the highest number of cases followed by Mumbai. Both cities together account for 24.0% of the total cases in India. But 38% of all the deaths comes from these two cities. In the top 10 cities there are four cities from Maharashtra ( Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Palgarh), one each from Tamil Nadu (Chennai), Telangana ( Hyderabad), Gujarat ( Ahmedabad), Karnataka ( Bengaluru) and West Bengal (Kolkata).

Data Source: covid19india.org

In terms of death rate, Ahmadabad has been leading with over 6.6% death rate. Mumbai which has the second highest number of cases also has a very high death rate of 5.7%. Kolkata is the other city among the top 10 cities with over 5% death rate. All these cities have much higher death rate than even the world average. It needs to be noted here that the death numbers of Hyderabad might be incorrect as Telangana state has reported the death number only at a state level and not at a city level for a long period of time.

Report on Key Economic Parameters of India

India has been under lock down due to the COVID -19 pandemic since March, 25th, 2020. The lock down has been stringent for the first months with the first set of relaxations announced from April 21st, 2020. This lock down is expected to have severe impact on the economy. From May there has been gradual relaxations.

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) , Government of India announced the IIP growth numbers and the Core sector growth figures on July , 10th and June, 30th respectively. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced the sectoral credit growth numbers for May, 20 on June, 30th. Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) is publishing the unemployment numbers in regular intervals. Let us examine how the Indian economy has been impacted by this lock down.

IIP and Core Sector Growth

Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), Government of India

The IIP numbers which saw a decline of 55% in the month of April, saw a decline of 34% in the month of May, The core sector growth stood at -23.4% in the month of May as against -37% in the month of April. So in May, both IIP and Core sector growth showed some improvement as against April with the lock down being relaxed over time. However as compared to May, last year, both the IIP and core sector growth has been significantly lower. So while the economy has seen more activity in May compared to April, 2020, it is still far away from normal and still sees a significant de growth in the month of May also. It needs to be noted here that IIP has a very high correlation with GDP growth. So a negative IIP growth indicates that the first quarter GDP growth of FY, 2020-21 will most likely be negative.

It needs to be noted here that in view of the preventive measures and announcement of nation-wide lockdown by the Government to contain spread of COVID-19 pandemic, majority of the industrial sector establishments were not operating from the end of March, 2020 onwards. This has had an impact on the items being produced by the establishments during the month of April and May, 2020, where a number of responding units have reported NIL production. Consequently, it is not appropriate to compare the IIP of April and May 2020 with earlier months. Moreover the estimated of April and May 2020 are quick estimates and may be subject to change in subsequent months.

Source: Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), Government of India

The growth of all the sectors showed some improvement with respect to April, 2020 but continued to show a decline as compared to last year same month. Manufacturing sector, which is one of the most people intensive sectors continued to have the severest fall in growth among all the sectors. It needs to be noted here that manufacturing sector contributed to almost 80% of the total IIP.

Similar pattern is witnessed in terms of Core sector growth. Cement and Steel industry has witnessed the severest burnt in the stringent lock down month. Apart from the fertilizers sector, all other sector continued to show negative growth in May. The Covid -19 pandemic has very less impact on rural India and hence agricultural activity continued to function since April, 21st. Given this there has been a need of fertilizer leading to higher production and hence positive growth in that sector. All other sector did not witness such stream of demand and hence continued to show a decline in growth.

Source: Source: Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), Government of India

CREDIT GROWTH

In order to combat the impact on economy due the pandemic induced lock down, the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India announced an economic package. A sizable section of the economic package announced by the government and the central bank is targeted to provide more liquidity and credit in the economy. The first set of such policies was announced by RBI in March 28th and then again around mid April. Government of India announced such measures in mid May. Many economists believe that with lack in demand in the economy, there might not be a higher credit off take even after those measures. Let us examine what has been the scenario in terms of credit growth.

Source: Reserve Bank of India

The sectoral credit growth rate showed either a marginal decline or remained same in the month of May, 2020 as compared to the growth rate of April, 2020. The decline has been severe for personal loan segment. The personal loan growth is a reflection of demand in the economy and a decline in this reflects lack of demand in the economy. However within the retail loan sector, there has been a surge in auto loan. There has been a considerable decline in all other type of retail loans.

A host of credit measures were taken focusing on the small and medium enterprises. It needs to be noted here that both the micro and medium industrial sector which actually is a source of employment for vast majority witnessed a decline in credit growth. Only the large industrial segment witnessed a positive growth.

Source: Reserve Bank of India

The decline in credit growth for small and micro industry segment has been more severe in May as compared to April. The medium and large industries have a higher growth in May as compared to April. So the small and micro industry sector which is one of the most people intensive sectors does not show a credit uptake at least till May. During mid of May, a host of credit schemes targeting this sector has been announced by the government. It remains to be seen how this will impact in the month of June.

CAR and TWO WHEELER SALES

Source: http://www.rushlane.com

Month of June has seen a significant growth in both car and two wheeler sales as compared to the previous month. This is a reflection of the fact that there has been significant surge in economic activity after unlock 1 starting from June, 1st. However the sales numbers of both cars and two wheeler has been significantly lower when compared to the same month previous year. So while there is signs of recovery in the month of June as compared to the previous two months, it is still much lesser than the pre-corona level. It needs to be noted here that both the car sales and two wheeler sales declined in previous financial year as compared to the earlier years. This year it shows further decline.

UNEMPLOYMENT

The IIP figures and the credit growth numbers suggest slump in the manufacturing sector and small and micro enterprises. Both these sectors are people intensive sectors and can have severe impact on unemployment levels. However agriculture sector has been functioning. Moreover additional budget has been allocated to MGNREGA for ensuring more employment, Let us see what has been the impact of unemployment trends.

Source: CMIE

The unemployment rates had seen a record increase in the month of April and May. However with the unlock 1 starting from June, 1st, there has been a significant decline in unemployment rate in the month of June, 2020. However the unemployment rates of June still remain higher when compared with the unemployment rates for the same month in 2019.

It needs to be noted here that the unemployment levels in the pre-corona level has itself been in the higher side. The overall unemployment rate which stood at 2.3% in 2011-12 showed a record increase to 6.1% in 2017-18, highest in 45 years. This showed a marginal decline to 5.8% in 2018-19. So overall the unemployment rate which has been in a higher side sees a further growth given this pandemic.