Sunday, April 29, 2012 - 0 comments

Integrated Check Posts To Smoothen Cross Border Movement of Goods & Passengers



Ravinder Singh*
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), in the year 2006, approved ‘in principle’ the setting up of Integrated Check Posts at 13 locations and Land Ports Authority of India as a statutory body. Integrated Check Posts are being constructed as a Plan scheme with an initial outlay of Rs. 635 crore during the 11th Five Year Plan. In the initial phase, 13 Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) were envisaged at major designated entry/exit points along India’s international land border. Of these, 7 ICPs are to be constructed in Phase I and 6 ICPs in Phase II. ICP Attari is the first to be completed. The other six ICPs planned in the first phase are, Raxaul and Jogbani in  Bihar, Agartala (Tripura), Petrapole (West Bengal), Dawki (Meghalya) and Moreh (Manipur).
Need for ICPs
Existing designated entry and exit points on the international borders are characterized by unplanned growth leading to delays and traffic jams. The need to develop infrastructure was recognized by the Government and after due consultations and deliberations, the concept of Integrated Check Post was devised. 
ICP is conceived as a sanitized zone having adequate passenger and freight processing facilities. The term integration refers to integration of sovereign functions and not of inter-modal integration of several transport modes such as; rail, road waterways etc. 
The ICP concept being new in the country, the planning was carried out through regular consultations with sovereign authorities and stake holders. The plans thus prepared were deliberated at length by Empowered Steering Committee before approving them.

Facilitating Movement of Vehicles Across Border

The Western and Eastern border of India has the peculiarity of restriction on vehicles of originating country to be allowed beyond a designated point in the destination country. The planning of ICP at these locations provides solution to this limitation. In these situations, while most of our neighboring countries are relying on solution linked to time separation, we have adopted the space separation approach. The solution involves provision of separate delivery and collection zone within ICP. This is achieved by treating passenger terminal and warehouse as interface where, unloading is done along one face and loading on the other face.   
Efficiency Inducing
The ICPs along Nepal Border are planned along the concept of primary and secondary checks to induce efficiency in regulatory process. This concept is similar to RED channel and GREEN channel witnessed at the airports. Government has initially identified 13 locations along the land borders ofIndia seven out of the thirteen are placed under priority.
First at Attari

ICP Attari is the first one to be completed and was inaugurated by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on April 13, 2012 in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Commerce Minister of Pakistan Makdoom Amin Fahim and Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab Province Md. Shahbaz Sharif. It has been constructed at a cost of about Rs.150 crores and is spread over 118 acres with dedicated passenger terminal building. Like other border crossing points, the existing facilities at Attari were also constrained. The Integrated Check Post not only provides planned and integrated facilities but also offer a new international gate removing restriction of timing.
The earlier  arrangement did pose lot of strain on passengers crossing on foot, as they had to walk substantial distance to come to the existing custom building. The ICP Attari offers dedicated vehicles between Gate and passenger terminal. This would not only offer comfort to the passengers but also ensure orderly movement within ICP, removing avoidable burden on the security.  The issue of movement of these vehicles from Wagah terminal to Attari terminal is already taken up with Pakistanand a favorable resolution is anticipated.  
Passenger Terminal Building
The passenger terminal building is the focal point of passenger processing zone. It is a two storied building with total 9600 sq. m. area. The passenger terminal is planned on the lines of airport terminals. The Building has two wings, one for departing passenger and other for arriving passengers. Each wing has eight Immigration counters, two Baggage scanners and six customs counters. Numbers of these processing units are derived methodically by considering the average process time. The health facilities for detection isolation and reporting are provided in conformity to International obligations, besides providing basic medical assistance to passengers. The terminal offers linear flow with strategically placed signage for passenger guidance. Passenger facilities such as Baggage trolleys, Duty free shops, dispensers for foods & beverages, toilets, etc. are integral part of terminal facilities. Paraplegic facilities such as ramps, wheelchairs, handicapped toilets are included in the passenger terminal.   It also has Tourist Information Centre, Vending Machines, Prayer Room and Child Care Room.
Jattha sheds have been provided along each face of the building to provide shelter and regulated flow of passengers into the terminal, to deal with sudden influx of passenger flow due to movement of pilgrimage groups.
Cargo Terminal
Cargo terminal building is a one and half storied structure, having total area of 4800 sqm. Unlike Passenger Terminal, Cargo terminal is an office complex having dedicated spaces for Sovereign agencies, Bank, Cargo handling agents etc. The cargo zone has total 55,000 sqm of parking area and warehouses having total area of 10,800 sqm. Majority of these warehouses are meant for receipt, inspection, trans-shipment  and delivery of imported goods. Cold storage of 1500 MT capacity spread over 5 chambers, for perishable imported goods is part of cargo processing facility.  
The flexible planning of ICP afforded development of segregated area to handle cargo in loose form. An area of 12000 sqm is developed with separate access system for Indian and Pakistani trucks, without disturbing the original traffic flow. An area of 99000 sqm is available for future augmentation of capacities.
Quarantine Facilities
The quarantine facilities including fumigation shed are part of ICP. Basic amenities for the truckers are available on arrival and departure side both.
Proper Surveillance
For the surveillance of the area, CCTV cameras and PA system are provided at strategic locations. 230 CCTV cameras have been placed at different locations for security. Control points on the road network are regulated through automatic boom barriers. Fire fighting and fire alarm system is in place. The complex is supported by 1800 KVA Electric sub-station with 100% power backup. A helipad is developed within the complex for quick and direct access to the complex.

Green Belt

Large green areas are being developed along both the faces of terminal building to offer a visual treat to the passengers. The building bears resemblance to the structures in Lutyen’s Delhi. The concept of providing such facade was selected to represent strength and receptiveness of the country. The road network in front of building is meticulously planned for each type of movement with no conflicts.

Construction of ICPs

The construction of ICPs began in Feb’ 2010 and the period of construction envisaged was 14 months. However, as ICP Attari was the first project on a newly devised concept. The project started evolving with construction, additional works were identified, as necessary and were and ordered. Besides this, the ICP had bilateral issues such as, the joint agreement on location of new international gate and construction close to zero line. These bilateral issues took longer than anticipated. However, the construction was done expeditiously, accommodating the extra work and other impediments.  
Frequent reviews, inspections were conducted by Senior Administrators and Engineers during the construction to ensure that the construction is progressing on agreed lines. Bilateral platform was formulated and frequent meetings were held to resolve the issues, acquire understanding, and update construction plans.  
ICP Attari is a modern facility and is being appreciated by all concerned. With the completion of ICP, the larger picture that shall emerge now would depend on efficiency of operations and the capacity constraint on other side of the border, if any.  
Land Ports Authority of India
The Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) is to provide better administration and cohesive management of entry points/land ports and entrusted with the task of development and management of Integrated Check Posts on the land borders and would be vested with the powers on the lines of similar bodies like Airports Authority of India. The Land Ports Authority of India has been established from 1st March, 2012 as a statutory body which will function as a body corporate under the administrative control of the Department of Border Management, Ministry of Home Affairs. 

Other Agencies Involved

As regards running the ICP efficiently sovereign authorities are already moving in, Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) is given the responsibility to function as custodian in accordance with customs regulations. Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been given the responsibility of catering and passenger facilitation.     
The capacity harmonization issues are already flagged in recent meetings with Pakistani delegation. The valuable experience gained during the planning and construction of ICP Attari is being used in other ICP projects.(PIB Feature.)

Nano Mission - Towards Global Knowledge Hub

Science & Technology

Kalpana Palkhiwala*

Nano Technology is acknowledge-intensive and ‘enabling technology’ which will influence a wide range of products and processes. It will have far-reaching implications for national economy and development. TheDepartment of Science and Technology (DST) launched many initiatives over the period of time and Nano was one of them. DST launched a modest programme called Nano Science and Technology Initiative (NIST) in 2001 in Nano Sciences. The Nano Mission is successor of this programme. The Government approved this as Nano Mission in 2007 with an allocation of Rs 1000/- crore for 5 years. The Nano Mission has been structured in a manner to achieve synergy between the national research efforts of various agencies in this field and launch new programmes in a concerted fashion. Today India has emerged 6th worldwide in terms of scientific publications. An active research community of about 1000 researchers has emerged. Besides, some interesting applications have already come out of the country.
Capacity building of the research is of utmost importance for Nano Mission so that India can emerge as a global knowledge hub. Large number of man power is getting prime attention in research and fundamental aspects of Nano science and training. Nano Mission is also striving for developments of products and processes for national development, especially in the area of national relevance like safe drinking water, materials development, sensors development, drug delivery etc. The objectives of Nano Mission include basic research promotion, infrastructure development, Nano applications and technology development, human resources development and international collaboration.
Basic Research Promotion
Basic research being carried out by individual scientist and /or groups of scientists will be funded. The Centers of excellence pursuing studies leading to fundamental understanding of matter that enables control and manipulation at the Nano scale will be created.
Infrastructure For Research
A chain of shared facility of expensive and sophisticated equipments required for various activities will be established across the country. Investigation on Nano scale require optical tweezer, Nano Indentor, Transmission Electron Microscope, Atomic Force Microscope, Scanning Tunneling Microscope, Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer, Microarray Spotter and Scanner etc.
Nano Applications and Technology Development Programme
To catalyze Nano Application and Technology Development programme leading to products and devices, the Mission proposes to promote application-oriented R&D projects, establish Nano Applications and Technology Development Centers, Nano-Technology Business Incubators etc. The industrial sector is being involved directly or through Public Private Partnership ventures into this Mission.
Human Resources Development
The Mission will focus on providing effective education and training to researchers and professionals in diversified fields so that a genuine interdisciplinary culture for nanoscale science, engineering and technology can emerge. M. A. and M. Sc. programmes will be benefited. National and Overseas post-doctoral fellowships, chairs in universities are other aspects.
International Collaboration
          Academia-industry partnership at the international level is one of the aspect under international collaboration. Besides, exploratory visits of scientists, organization of joint workshop, conferences and research projects, access to sophisticated research facilities abroad etc., are being achieved.
Structure and Activities
Nano Mission is steered by Nano Mission Council. The technical programmes are being guided by two advisory groups namely Nano Science Advisory Group (NSAG) and the Nano Applications and Technology Advisory Group (NATAG). Department of Science & Technology has supported a number of activities in Nano Science and Technology.
           Individual scientists have been supported for R & D projects. Detailed technologies have been developed for the medical purposes. Membrane scaffolds for wound healing using chitin/chitosan gels containing nanoparticles and nanoparticles for ophthalmic drug delivery have been developed by Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad and USV, Mumbai respectively. Around 130 projects have been supported for individual scientists mainly working on fundamental scientific aspects of nanoscale system. Extensive studies on semiconductor nanocrystals have been undertaken in several projects. As semiconductor particles exhibit size-dependent properties like scaling of the energy gap and corresponding change in the optical properties, they are considered as technologically important materials. Several projects have looked into synthesis of important nano materials like CdSe, ZnO etc. Size tunable, organic soluble industrially important CdS, AIN, GaN and InN nanocrystals have been  prepared by employing novel solvo thermal techniques and some soft chemical routes.
The other discovery of flow of various liquids and gases over a mat of single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) bundles generate electrical signals. This has several important technological implications. Development of micro fluidic devices will have several applications in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceutical industry, drug delivery, intelligent pneumatic systems, information technology etc.
DST has established an array of sophisticated equipments to enable researchers to work with nanoscale system. Eleven Units/Core Groups on Nano Science  have been sanctioned across the country. They house some of the more sophisticated facility for sharing with other scientists in the region and would help in promoting scientific research on nanoscale system in a decentralized manner. Seven centres for Nano Technology focusing on development of specific applications and a centre for excellence on Computational Materials has also been established. Joint R & D activities are taking place with several countries. DST has also promoted Joint Institution-Industry Linked Projects and some other Public Private Partnership activities for human resource development.(PIB Feature.)
Friday, April 27, 2012 - , 0 comments

'Solar' India




M.V.S. Prasad* 

World's production and use of energy over the past two decades have shown striking changes.  Use of electricity has risen phenomenally resulting in a remarkable difference in the pattern of energy consumption. The initial options that we had for switching fuel resource presented larger challenges in terms of global warming coupled with almost dwindling fossil fuel resources.
When we look at the world's energy resources, oil, natural gas and coal seem to be still riding the crest and the contribution of renewable seems marginal at this juncture.
         Solar energy seems to enjoy a better edge over the others at this juncture due to vigorous pursuit to transform it into an attractive and economic option. Power consumption in India has been increasing fast due to population growth and economic development. India has tremendous energy needs and faces an uphill task in meeting these requirements through traditional means of power generation.
The Indian economy faces increasing challenges because energy supply is struggling to keep pace with demand, and there are energy shortages of 10-13% daily almost everywhere in the country. Because India has so many black-outs, many factories and households use emergency generators and inverters as back-ups. This back-up power could be supplied by solar energy.
Solar has the potential to transform the Indian economy in the same way as the Information Technology (IT).India is in a unique position to introduce clean energy solutions on an enormous scale to provide affordable energy for everyone – especially the poor. From an energy security perspective, solar is the most secure of all sources, since it is abundantly available. Theoretically, a small fraction of the total incident solar energy (if captured effectively) can meet the entire country’s power requirements. It is also clear that given the large proportion of poor and energy un-served population in the country, every effort needs to be made to exploit the relatively abundant sources of energy available to the country. The National Solar Mission has targeted to deploy 20 million solar lighting systems for rural areas by 2022.
India is blessed with about an estimated 5000 TWh of solar radiation. This vast resource can be tapped to meet the growing energy demand. Even if a tenth of this potential is utilised, it could solve the country’s power problems. India could lead the world by embracing solar power, if favourable policies and business models are evolved and implemented nationwide.
India should take full advantage of this golden opportunity because solar energy has particular relevance in remote and rural areas, where around 289 million people live without access to electricity. Solar energy is the most cost-effective option for India to reduce energy poverty without having to extend national grid services to provide power for individual homes and buildings. Solar energy to power computers to assist learning in schools and hostels, Management Information System (MIS) to assist better management of forests, powering milk chilling plants, empowering women Self Help Groups (SHGs) involved in tussar silk  reeling, cold chain management for Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are some examples of new areas, being tried successfully in the country.
A State/UT wise list of grid solar power projects commissioned so far is as follows:
State / UT
Capacity (kWp)
Andhra Pradesh
Arunanchal Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal
Andaman & Nicobar


Launching the National Action Plan on Climate Change on June 30, 2008, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said “our vision is to make India’s economic development energy-efficient. Over a period of time, we must pioneer a graduated shift from economic activity based on fossil fuels to one based on non-fossil fuels and from reliance on non-renewable and depleting sources of energy to renewable sources of energy. In this strategy, the sun occupies centre-stage, as it should, being literally the original source of all energy. We will pool our scientific, technical and managerial talents, with sufficient financial resources, to develop solar energy as a source of abundant energy to power our economy and to transform the lives of our people. Our success in this endeavour will change the face of India. It would also enable India to help change the destinies of people around the world.”


The National Solar Mission is a major initiative of the Government of India and State Governments to promote ecologically sustainable growth while addressing India’s energy security challenge.  It will also constitute a major contribution by India to the global effort to meet the challenges of climate change. The National Action Plan on Climate Change also points out:  “India is a tropical country, where sunshine is available for longer hours per day and in great intensity.  Solar energy, therefore, has great potential as future energy source.  It also has the advantage of permitting the decentralized distribution of energy, thereby empowering people at the grassroots level”. 

Solar is currently high on absolute costs compared to other sources of power such as coal.  The objective of the Solar Mission is to create conditions, through rapid scale-up of capacity and technological innovation to drive down costs towards grid parity. The Mission has set an ambitious target to create an enabling policy framework for the deployment of  20,000 MW of solar power by 2022 and to ramp up capacity of grid-connected solar power generation to 1000 MW. The Solar Mission has set a target of 1000 MW by 2017, which may appear small, but its reach will add up to bringing changes in millions of households .For the first phase,a target has been fixed to set up 1,100 MW of grid connected solar power plants by March, 2013.

         Asia’s first and largest Solar Park has been set up at Charanka in Gujarat. The 3000 acre state of the art park has generation capacity of 500 MW with training facilities as well. Incidentally, Gujarat has taken the lead in solar power generation and has  been contributing 2/3rds of total 900 MW solar power  generated in the country.The state government is also working on a solar energy policy, which is likely to be launched soon.

India is endowed with vast solar energy potential. About 5,000 trillion kWh per year energy is incident overIndia’s land area with most parts receiving 4-7 kWh per sq. m per day. Hence both technology routes for conversion of solar radiation into heat and electricity, namely, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic, can effectively be harnessed providing huge scalability for solar in India.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) industry has demonstrated unprecedented growth over the recent past, with increased demand for solar power attracting more and more players into the market. The price of solar panels has come down considerably. This has made solar technology more competitive. The Government may consider favourable tax structures as well as provide financial resources for community solar farms as part of the energy development programmes.
Solar irradiance, economic installation costs, Government support and financing conditions in all probability, are likely to drive the growth of the solar photo-voltaic technology. The falling generation cost is another encouraging factor for the technology to emerge as the largest and most stable demand segment. Power cannot be produced at night or cloudy days is history as concentrated solar power plants and Nano-antennas are being developed to capture residual heat to overcome this limitation. Remote communities could eventually make their own solar cells using waste vegetation, thanks to a design developed by researchers in Switzerland and the United States. The technology is inspired by photosynthesis
Most of the solar installations are supported by incentives. However, until the efficiency of solar cell improves and the cost of generation competes with that of conventional energy, solar energy can only have a limited role.
Solar energy is a win-win for India and the environment, and India should make it a mainstream component of its energy diversification. There is really no better economical choice for the country. Renewable energy is also an attractive investment opportunity because it will provide long-term economic growth for the country. A favourable renewable energy policy could create millions of jobs.
As American economist and author Jeremy Rifkin  rightly said, India can usher in a third industrial revolution by properly utilising its renewable energy resources. In fact, progress on renewable energy front could determine the future road map for human sustainability.

Solar Energy has the potential to re-energise India’s economy by creating millions of new jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce the trade deficit and propel the nation forward as a ‘green nation’. In short, solar power offers too many benefits for India to ignore or delay its development. (PIB Feature.)

E-Governance in Panchayats

  The Government has formulated a project namely e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP) for e-enablement of all the Panchayats which will make their functioning more efficient and transparent. The Project received in principle approval from the Planning Commission in August 2007. Out of  130.39 crores only that have been allocated for the Project so far, 23 crores and 24 crores were allocated during 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively without any disbursement to States. However, during 2011-12, 40 crores was allocated of which the releases to States/Union Territories as under:
i            1.5 crores for incentivizing the adoption of PRIASoft; and
ii)            38.5 crores for setting up of Programme Management Units at State and District levels for rollout of e-Panchayat MMP.
iii)           The budgetary allocation during 2012-13 is  40 Crores.

e-Governance in Panchayats is sought to be achieved through the e-Panchayat MMP under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). Under the e-Panchayat MMP, 11 Core Common Software applications are planned. Four of these applications namely PRIASoftPlanPlus, National Panchayat Portal and Local Governance Directory have been rolled out. Six more applications except Geographic Information System (GIS) namely Area Profiler, ServicePlus, Asset Directory, ActionSoft, Social Audit and Trainings Management have also been launched on 24th April, 2012 on the occasion of National Panchayat Day. For effective implementation of the project, workshops are held to demonstrate the applications to the State Govt. functionaries. The present status of the 4 applications that have been rolled out is as under:

a)            PRIASoft – an online cash-based double entry accounting software that implements the Model Accounting System for PRIs, has been a major success with 1.2 lakh Panchayats on board and about 65,000Panchayats are making online voucher entries during 2011-2012. Over 60 lakhs vouchers have been entered till March, 2012 for the year 2011-12 and reports can be accessed at

b)            Over 75,000 Annual Draft Plans & Action Plans of different plan units (ULBs/ RLBs/ Line Deptts.) are available online on PlanPlus. The software facilitates planning by Panchayats, ULBs/RLBs and line departments. Over 43,000 Plan Units have uploaded their Annual Action Plans online in 2011-12. This includes 82 ZillaPanchayts, 1300 Block Panchayats & 41500 Gram Panchayats who have adopted PlanPlus during 2011-12. These can be accessed at

c)            The National Panchayat Portal: Over 2,36,500 dynamic websites have been created for Panchayats(95% adoption) and 30,000 of these websites are seeing an active content upload. It can be accessed at

d)            Local Governance Directory captures details of local governments and assigns unique code to allPanchayats to ensure interoperability amongst all applications of Panchayat Enterprise Suite (PES). It also mapsPanchayats with Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies. It can be accessed at

Since the Project so far has not provided any funds for hardware including computers, the States have been advised to utilize available funds from other sources such as 13th Central Finance Commission grants, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF),Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Yojana (RGSY) etc. for computerization of Panchayats.

Training of the Trainers (ToT) model has been adopted for training the PRI functionaries down to the grass-root level. The Ministry of Panchayati Raj is also providing trained faculty to provide training on PanchayatEnterprise Suite (PES) applications and has advised States to create a cadre of Master Trainers. So far, approximately 20,000 officials have been trained. Trainings are also being conducted to impart basic ICT literacy trainings to PRI functionaries and elected representatives. So far, 4500 functionaries and elected members have been trained in fourteen States.

The project is being regularly reviewed by NeGP Apex Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary, Government of India. Review Meetings chaired by the Secretary, Panchayati Raj are also held regularly to monitor the progress of the Project.

This information was given by the Minister of Panchayati Affairs, Shri V. Kishore Chandra Deo in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.