Update on India’s States: December 3, 2015

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This week, the Union environment ministry instructed state environmental panels to speed up approvals; Karnataka’s Chief Minister cancels U.S. visit; Tamil Nadu’s Jayalalithaa comes out against the Goods and Services Tax; Karnataka sharply increases the powers of village councils; Japan loans Gujarat nearly $700 million to build a metro.

Center-State Relations

Jayalalithaa’s All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party (AIADMK), which governs Tamil Nadu, announced that it will oppose the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Amendment in Parliament. AIADMK controls 12 seats in the upper house of Parliament; with the support of Congress, this will be enough to block passage of the GST Amendment. Source: The Hindu

A working group of chief ministers headed by Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has recommended that the central government give states some control over the distribution of central funds for social welfare schemes. The group proposed that social welfare schemes be divided into three groups according to importance and that states be allowed to decide how central funds are distributed among the less important schemes. Source: The Economic Times

The Union environment ministry has directed state-level environmental panels to accelerate the approval process for construction and building projects by requesting all necessary information at a single stage and focusing solely on environmental concerns. Source: The Economic Times

The Airports Authority of India has for the first time identified several airports it plans to develop through joint ventures with state governments. A special purpose entity will be formed to develop the airports at Kushinagar (Uttar Pradesh), Devgarh (Rajasthan), Jharsuguda (Odisha), and Shirdi (Maharashtra), with the state governments as equity partners. Source: Business Standard

The Andhra Pradesh government released a new port policy with the goal of maximizing the potential of the state’s 605-mile coastline. Andhra Pradesh will develop new ports through public-private partnerships; all ports will operate on commercial and non-discriminatory principles, with open access for commercial cargo. Source: The New Indian Express

Andhra Pradesh has signed a memorandum of understanding with Suzlon Energy Ltd to build 4,000 megawatts worth of wind power projects in the Anantapuram district. Source: The New Indian Express

The World Bank has issued preliminary approval to provide nearly $615 million to help Andhra Pradesh develop its power infrastructure. Source: The Hindu Business Line

The Delhi government is going to appeal a Delhi High Court order preventing the Comptroller and Auditor General from conducting a planned audit of private power distribution companies. Source: The Economic Times

The Jan Lokpal Bill, establishing an anti-corruption ombudsman, has been cleared by the Cabinet and is set for a vote in the Delhi assembly. The Bill calls for a three-member panel with powers to investigate all acts of corruption taking place within the national capital territory, including those carried out by central ministers and civil servants. The legislation is likely to put the Delhi government in direct confrontation with the Center. Source: The Economic Times

The ongoing winter session of the Delhi Assembly was extended till December 4 in order to facilitate the passage of several bills, including the Jan Lokpal Bill, the Delhi School Education Amendment Bill (ending automatic promotion before Grade VIII), and the Delhi (Right to Citizens Time-Bound Service Delivery) Act, which imposes fines when government services are not provided in a timely manner. Source: The New Indian Express

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India and Japan formally agreed to a Japanese development loan worth $850 million for the Ahmedabad and Chennai metro rail projects. The Japanese government has committed Official Development Assistance funds of about $690 million for the Ahmedabad Metro and $166 million for the Chennai Metro. Source: The Economic Times

The second of the two-phase elections for local bodies in Gujarat – including 31 district panchayats, 230 block panchayats, and 56 municipalities – concluded November 29. The average turnout was 65 percent. Source: The Economic Times

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Chief Minister S Siddaramaiah has planned to visit the United States, but cancelled his trip. His meetings with the U.S.-India Business Council and the Business Council for International Understanding are being carried out by the state’s Minister of Industries RV Deshpande. Source: Deccan Herald

Congress Party members of Karnataka’s Legislative Assembly have brought a motion to impeach Upa Lokayukta (deputy ombudsman) Justice Subhash Adi on charges that he improperly ended an investigation of a civil servant with political connections. The move follows the scandal surrounding the state’s chief ombudsman, Justice Bhaskar Rao, whose son is accused of running an extortion racket within the anti-corruption bureau. Source: The Indian Express

Both Houses of the Karnataka Legislature have passed a bill that empowers the gram sabha (village council) as the basic unit of local self-governance. The Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Bill gives gram sabhas the final word on how to spend development funds, who should receive social welfare benefits, and what projects to undertake in the village. Source: The Economic Times

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party demanded the removal of Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya after a sting operation by a TV channel purportedly showed his wife accepting a bribe. The case is under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department. Source: The Economic Times

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has instructed state officials that they must transfer land zoned for industry to the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board by December 15. Source: The Economic Times

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Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari inaugurated 475 miles of road works worth $530 million in the Yavatmal and Washim districts. Source: The Times of India

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis promised to establish a state Housing Regulatory Authority within a month. The regulator will be a quasi-judicial body entrusted with safeguarding the interests of home buyers and resolving disputes relating to the housing sector. Source: Business Standard

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The Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau has filed a charge-sheet against suspended Rajasthan Administrative Service officer Nishkam Diwakar and three others in an alleged land scam case. Former urban development and housing minister Shanti Dhariwal, who was interrogated in connection with the case, was not named. Source: The Economic Times

Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje urged the central government to approve six newly proposed national highways in the state. The chief minister, meeting with Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi, requested approval for several pending road development works in the state. Source: The Economic Times

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The Sri Lankan navy on November 26 arrested 15 fishermen from Tamil Nadu who were fishing near the coast of Sri Lanka. Three days later, eight more Tamil Nadu fishermen were arrested. The arrests follow the November 13 release of more than 120 Tamil Nadu fishermen. Source: The Indian Express, The Indian Express

Telangana and Maharashtra have come to an in-principle agreement regarding construction of a dam across the Penganga River at Chanakha-Korata. The government of Telangana has already given administrative clearance for construction of the barrage and approved release of $56 million for the purpose. Source: The Hindu

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A study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India (Assocham) found that 86 percent of real estate projects in Uttar Pradesh are far behind schedule, with an average delay of 35 months. Source: The Times of India

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The Asian Development Bank has agreed to include West Bengal in a $273 million loan program meant to improve rural connectivity in five Indian states. The loan will finance 76 rural roads covering a total of 400 miles. Source: The Times of India

All households in West Bengal will soon receive four energy efficient light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs from power utilities as part of the state government’s initiative to cut down on energy consumption. Consumers will be able to purchase the bulbs on installment and poorer residents will receive the bulbs at a subsidized price. Source: The Economic Times

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