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NRIDA to Explore Smart Solutions to Improve the Pace of Rural Road Construction and Up-keep

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NRIDA is set to pilot smart solutions backed by digital innovations to modernize existing performance monitoring mechanisms and improve the service delivery capacity of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), a flagship program of the Government of India.

The third phase of PMGSY will expand India’s rural road network by 125,000 km. With an outlay of INR 80,250 crore, the government plans to conclude this phase by 2025. PMGSY’s third phase has pushed the National Rural Infrastructure Development Agency (NRIDA), the nodal agency that manages and monitors the program, to accelerate its efforts to modernize performance monitoring systems. NRIDA, which operates under the Ministry of Rural Development, has been exploring potential smart solutions to improve PMGSY’s delivery capacity on the ground, particularly in the context of physical and financial management of projects.

L to R: Deepak Ashish Kaul, Director, Finance and Administration, NRIDA, Dr. Ashish Kumar Goel, IAS, JS, MoRD and DG, NRIDA, Manoj Kumar Sharma, MD, MSC

The envisaged solutions will introduce smart payments and microservices-based architecture under the program’s current monitoring and management mechanism. This move will help improve the pace of construction, reduce delays, prevent under-utilization of funds, avoid cost overruns, and strengthen the accountability of government officials and contractors.

In line with its efforts to introduce innovative solutions, NRIDA signed a statement of intent with MSC (MicroSave Consulting) on Monday to explore potential pilots for a smart payment solution. Dr. Ashish Kumar Goel, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development and Director General of NRIDA, presided over the brief singing-off ceremony. Other dignitaries from the Ministry of Rural Development and MSC also attended the ceremony. Mr. Manoj Sharma, Managing Director at MSC, Mitul Thapliyal, Partner at MSC, and other team members represented the consulting firm.

The proposed initiative is a part of the Ministry of Rural Development’s integrated efforts to improve the performance management of government programs. It also seeks to address capacity concerns in construction and maintenance management at the local level through a range of emerging IT solutions. The intended outcome of the project is to enhance transparency across the system. It will enable key decision-makers to have better observability of data from sites, trace fund flows, and monitor the program’s overall performance.

“The implementation of the smart payment engine will be the first-of-its-kind initiative of the Ministry. Interventions like the single project registry and electronic measurement book based on open-source architecture will set a precedent for other programs. Once implemented on the ground, this intervention will also help enable a smart payment system, which will reduce delays in implementation of projects,” said Dr. Ashish Kumar Goel, Joint Secretary, MoRD and DG, NRIDA.

“NRIDA’s novel initiative will not just help PMGSY but also create pathways for similar government programs. The proposed smart payments solution framework for PMGSY will be developed using emerging technology to improve the capacity of service delivery. Given the modern architecture proposed, we believe the smart payment framework will help NRIDA in its IT journey. It will facilitate the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices for effective monitoring in the future,” said Mr. Manoj Sharma, Managing Director, MicroSave Consulting.

About PMGSY

The Government of India launched PMGSY in 2000 to provide rural road connectivity to villages across India. The NRIDA functions under the Ministry of Rural Development and manages the centrally sponsored scheme. Phase three of PMGSY will involve consolidation through routes and major rural links connecting habitations to agricultural markets, higher secondary schools, and hospitals.

The central and state governments would share funds in the ratio of 60:40 in the current phase. The funding ratio for North Eastern and Hill States (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) is 90:10. So far, 6.71 lakh km long roads have been constructed under PMGSY.

About MSC

MSC, formerly MicroSave Consulting, is a boutique consulting firm contracted to design this unique digital solution. Over the past years, MSC has worked at the center of the digital finance revolution to enable social, financial, and economic inclusion for everyone in the digital age.

About the solution

PMGSY has an online management, monitoring, and accounting system (OMMAS) that helps NRIDA oversee the program’s nationwide implementation. However, the functionalities of OMMAS need to be upgraded to keep pace with advancements in digital technologies. The proposed solutions will supplement and enhance the existing OMMAS system.

The bouquet of solutions includes three key elements. The first solution is a “single projects registry“, which will act as the single source of truth for project execution. Once merged with other IT systems, it will serve as a single database for the program, from planning to implementation. The solution will also provide real-time information on the progress of all programs and help officials manage the project more effectively.

The second solution involves introducing an “e-measurement module” for real-time project monitoring and progress tracking. The platform will ensure mechanisms for proper compliances of quality and time by contractors. It will enforce accountability on government officials for timely approvals and validation of work by contractors.

The third solution involves building a “smart payment system” to manage expenditures and disburse payments at the last mile. It will facilitate the automatic release of payments to vendors upon completion of work targets and submission of invoices, thereby eliminating delays in payments. The payment system will also provide officials complete observability of the financial fund flow and the physical progress of the program.

Ultimately, all three components will work together to form robust and comprehensive fund management and monitoring system within the OMMAS system.

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Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited Announces Appointment of Five Independent Directors on Board

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Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) has announced the appointment of Shri Pradeep Vishambhar Agrawal, Shri Ghanshyam Sher, Dr. (Smt) Aiswarya Biswal, Prof. Bhagwati Prasad Saraswat and Shri Gopal Krishna Agarwal, as Independent Directors on the Board for a period of three years from the date of notification of their appointment or until further orders. Accordingly, they are appointed as Directors on the Board w.e.f. 12.11.2021.

Newly Appointed Independent Directors on the Board of BPCL

Shri Pradeep Vishambhar Agrawal is a Chartered Accountant and a Company Secretary. His fields of specialization are Finance, Business and Administration. He is a Managing Director in a pharmaceutical company and is in the Board of various other companies. He is also engaged in social activities and is a Director of two Section 8 (not for profit) companies. He also acts as a Trustee of the various Trusts.

Shri Ghanshyam Sher is M.Com, M.A. in Political Science, M.A. in Economics and L.L.B. He is an Advocate. He specializes in Legal advice and Social Service. He has gained administrative experience through various public associations. He has been honored with various awards by renowned personalities.

Dr. (Smt.) Aiswarya Biswal did her Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Utkal University and masters in Management from University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. She received honours in Strategic Management, which encouraged her to pursue her research in extraordinary leadership in University of Liverpool. As a Dentist, she took keen interest in organising various dental camps for the underprivileged and marginalised community both in urban and rural sector. She is a pioneer in awareness and prevention of Oral cancer and preventable dental diseases. Her special interest lies in eradicating of malnutrition and her articles on malnutrition were well received, simultaneously she has organised various awareness programs and seminars to curbs the debilitating effects of malnutrition. She is a well-known columnist and has been contributing her articles in various journals and newspapers internationally, nationally and regionally like Daily Pioneer, Outlook, & Sambad etc. She is a bilingual poet (English and Hindi) and has written two books. She was the Former Editor of Odisha Society of United Kingdom journal as well. She has been actively involved in many philanthropic work especially in Indian diaspora of U.K. and in India as well. She is also associated with various cultural, social and literary organisations worldwide.

Prof. (Dr.) Bhagwati Prasad Saraswat is M.Com, (Gold Medalist). He has done his Ph.D in Financial Evolution of Drugs & Pharmaceutical Companies in India. He was a Dean and Head of Faculty of Commerce/Department of Commerce, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University, Ajmer and has teaching experience of more than 38 years. He has held various academic and administrative responsibilities during his academic career such as Director of Center for Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University, Ajmer, Joint Conference Secretary, Controller of Examination organized by Indian Commerce Association, Coordinator of various exams, Registrar of Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University, Ajmer, and Member of Board of management and selection committees of various Universities He has published various books and papers, and has presented his papers in various prestigious conferences/seminars and attended various national/international conferences. He has also been editor of academic bodies of journals.

Shri Gopal Krishna Agarwal is a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of India (ICAI). He has done his post graduate in MA economics and graduation in BCom (Hons). He is an Economic thinker and writes extensively for newspaper, financial journals and delivers lectures in seminars & conferences. He has co-authored a book ‘Water an Element of Life: Price Sensitivity and Consumption by the Marginalisedpublished by Bloomsbury India. He was a Member of Board of Governors at the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), a think tank of GoI. He was a member of the Task Force on MSME of the Ministry of Finance and Former Director on the Board of Bank of Baroda (BOB) & North Eastern Electric Power Co. (NEEPCO). He was government nominee on the Central Council of The Institute of company secretaries of India (ICSI). He is an independent director on the board of ICSI (IIP). He is a trustee of India Policy Foundation and Dr. Mookherjee Smriti Nyas, (think tanks). He has initiated various public welfare projects like Jaladhikar Foundation, Nagrik Manch, Shree Jee Gausadan, Milk Cooperative Movement etc.

About Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL)

A Fortune Global 500 Company, Bharat Petroleum is the second largest Indian Oil Marketing Company and one of the premier integrated energy companies in India, engaged in refining of crude oil and marketing of petroleum products, with a significant presence in the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry. The company attained the coveted Maharatna status, joining the elite club of companies having greater operational & financial autonomy.

Bharat Petroleum’s Refineries at Mumbai & Kochi and subsidiary Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd., at Bina, Madhya Pradesh have a combined refining capacity of around 35.3 MMTPA. Its marketing infrastructure includes a network of installations, depots, retail outlets, aviation service stations and LPG distributors. Its distribution network comprises over 19,000 Retail Outlets, over 6,100 LPG distributorships, 733 Lubes distributorships, 123 POL storage locations, 53 LPG Bottling Plants, 60 Aviation Service Stations, 3 Lube blending plants and 4 cross-country pipelines.

With a focus on sustainable solutions, the company is developing a vibrant ecosystem. Bharat Petroleum has been partnering communities by supporting innumerable initiatives connected primarily in the areas of education, water conservation, skill development, health, community development, capacity building and employee volunteering. With ‘Energising Lives‘ as its core purpose, Bharat Petroleum’s vision is to be the most admired global energy company leveraging talent, innovation & technology.

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Top Five Upcoming Developers Changing the Skyline of Delhi NCR

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MRG World (Gurugram), Whiteland Corporation (Gurugram), Maasters Infra (Noida), SKA Group (Noida), and Axon Developers emerged as the ‘Top Five Emerging Developers of NCR‘ in the list announced by a Delhi-based research firm.

Real estate survey declares top five developers

The survey was conducted by International Brand & Research Forum (IBRF) across the region with a special focus on projects launched, projects delivered, and progress of the projects as per RERA; IBRF researched the quality & feedback index on various parameters to come up with the result. The prime focus was on the developers operating in Noida and Gurugram market.

Maasters Infra Group, instituted by seasoned professionals and under the patronage of five-decade-old infra company K. R. A. Engineers & Contractors, announced their first commercial project Maasters Capitol Avenue spread over 5 acres in Sector 63, Noida. The project will have office space and retail; the projects total area would be 10,00,000 sq. ft. to be completed in 42 to 45 months. The company says that the total sales realization from the project is between Rs. 800 crore to Rs. 1,000 crore. The Group is also coming up with a residential project and one IT project.

Whiteland Corporation, a real estate development company founded by industry stalwart, Mr. Navdeep JP Sardana unveiled the first look of their maiden commercial project Urban Cubes 71 recently in Gurugram. Some of the brands signed, include Striker, Beer Cafe, Nostalgia, Houz cafe & bar. The project on Golf Course Road extension, Sector 71, Gurugram, is on a land parcel of about 3 acres acquired from DLF. Urban Cubes 71 is an approved SCO (Shop-cum-Office) development with a total of 34 state-of-art buildings with maximum development facing the main road making it highly attractive. The project is slated to be delivered by October 2022 with a total salable area of 4.5 lac sq. ft. and projected sales value of Rs. 500 crore.

Realty firm Axon Developers, which has been newly set up by promoters of brokerage firm 360 Realtors, has recently taken over two stressed real estate projects in Delhi-NCR and will invest over Rs. 300 crore to complete them. The company has entered into a development agreement to complete Keltech Kumar Imperial Green project, comprising 350 flats at Noida extension in Uttar Pradesh. It has fully acquired a retail project Manish Gallexie 91, having 3.5 lakh square feet saleable area, in Gurugram from Manish Buildwell. The company expects a sales realisation of around Rs. 650 crore from these two projects, of which Rs. 500 crore will come from retail project. Axon Developers is looking at acquiring more projects in Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and Lucknow, both through greenfield and brownfield routes.

SKA GROUP was formed with a view to construct group housing society in Greater Noida-West. SKA Group was started in the year 2012. Recently, the Group announced its luxury residential project, SKA Orion in Sector-143, Noida. Spread over 3.5 acres, the cost of the project is Rs. 400 crore out of which Rs. 300 crore is the cost of construction and Rs. 100 crore is the land cost. The Group is looking at total sales realisation of approximately Rs. 450 crore. To be developed in single phase, the project has 508 units of 3 BHK configuration; the company has launched 380 units of the total stock and will complete the project by 2026. The company has completed four projects in Noida, Greater Noida, and Ghaziabad. All projects are completed before time. Presently, five projects are in progress and all projects are ahead of their schedule.

Catering to the affordable housing segment, MRG World has ensured that they live up to the expectations of the middle class to move into their abodes as soon as possible. The directors – Rajat Goel & Vikas Garg – set up the company with a motive to cater to the segment that has the maximum demand. From the initial days, MRG World ensured that they deliver projects before the promised deadline. The company at the onset decided to stick to the policy of delivering the projects before time. MRG world has sold out three projects in Gurugram – Meridien (755), Ultimus (720), and Balcony (730). The company will deliver these projects ahead of the scheduled deadline in 2022 – Balcony by March 2022, Meridien and Ultimus by December 2022. The company has plans to come up with a project in 30-40 acre with around 6,000 flats in the affordable segment.

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Travel Innovations by MakeMyTrip that Promise to Make Travelling Safe, Convenient, Flexible and Hassle-free

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As we march into 2022 with renewed vigor and hope for a healthy future, we have embraced the new normal by finding comfort in new ways of life. The world as we knew it has undergone major transformations and so has the world of travel too. Today, travellers demand unique and immersive travel experience that come with a promise of flexibility, convenience and a hassle-free end-to-end travelling experience.

To cater to the evolved demands of travellers, MakeMyTrip, India’s leading online travel company has rolled out a range of product innovations and updates. From new booking features for flyers, to guaranteeing a trip in case of an unconfirmed ticket for train passengers, to introducing a self-serve option on the platform that provides a centralized view of all travel-related information at one place and more – the company introduced new features on its app and website with a promise to make discovering, planning, booking and travelling more easy, convenient, flexible and seamless for customers. In parallel, MakeMyTrip launched an industry first platform for third-party travel agents with an aim to assist them in serving their customers better.

Here’s a list of top tech-enabled travel innovations launched by MakeMyTrip for customers and the partner ecosystem – Offering more flexibility and ease in travel planning and booking

Flight Price Lock to guarantee airfare hike protection and make travel planning stress-free

An industry-first feature, Flight Price Lock allows customers to lock flight fares for up to seven days while they firm up their travel plans. Built on data-driven capabilities and AI-rich airfare forecasting tools, the feature secures travellers against airfare volitality – enabling flyers to save more by locking airfares at attractive rates. By offering more time to book travel to its flyers, Flight Price Lock also helps solving for one of the major dilemma of travellers – should they book tickets or wait and consequently risk fare hike.

My Trips, a unique self-serve option for anything travel related

The in-app feature provides a centralized view with access and control to all travel-related data. From sourcing information pertaining to previous or upcoming trips, to making any last minute modifcations in the travel booking, to raising refund requests, downloading invoices – travellers now have full access and control of their bookings, in just a few taps.

Assuring safety and hygiene at all steps of the journey

MySafety, a safety-first program with hotel partners

Safety & hygiene is no longer a good-to-have option, it is the first parameter that travellers look for when planning and booking travel. And, this shall remain a top priority for travellers even when the pandemic will be far behind us. To assure superior standards of safety and hygiene for travellers during their stay, the company in collaboration with its hotel partners announced MySafety, a comprehensive safety compliance & audit program conceptulaized and designed in accordance to the guidelines of WHO and the Government of India.

Assuring driver and riders safety in cabs

To ensure safety of the driver partner and the rider during a cab journey, MakeMyTrip launched a AI-powered feature called ‘Optical Recognition‘ on the app available on the driver partner’s phone. The tech-proprietary tool ensures that the driver-partner can only start the trip after proper mask usage is detected via a selfie. The feature leverages optical character recognition technology to ensure the presence of sanitisers in the cabs as well.

COVID-19 insurance guaranteeing added safety during these times

Securing yourself and your loved ones with an additional layer of safety helps make travel planning and the post-travelling experience stress-free and comfortable. As the world upended during the pandemic, MakeMyTrip rolled out an option for COVID-19 insurance to secure travellers against any risk of infection during the trip. The option provides a coverage of INR 2 lacs (per customer) along with other benefits such as zero restrictions on room rent, consumables, post-hospitalization diagnostics etc. The insurance also covers hospitalization for 16 days post-travel in case of infection as it usually takes 14-15 days for the virus to surface.

Empowering local travel agents to serve their customers better

myPartner: The company launched a dedicated platform, myPartner for travel agents to empower and assist them in offering seamless and enhanced travel booking experience to travellers. The intuitive and user-friendly platform has been designed to help offline, local travel agents embrace digitization and to offer access to one of widest selection of online travel inventory. With real-time access to an inventory spanning across all travel segments, local agents in tier II, III markets and beyond will be able to simplify and provide transparency throughout the booking process to travellers, while providing more travel options than ever before.

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