India’s GDP grew 8.4% in Q3; 2023-24 growth scaled up to 7.6% from 7.3%

Published - February 29, 2024 09:18 pm IST

India’s economic growth has upgraded to 8.4% in the third quarter of 2023-24. The National Statistics Office has revised India’s GDP growth estimates for this year to 7.6% from 7.3% estimated in early January, even as it scaled down its 7.2% growth estimate for 2022-23 to 7%.

The NSO, in its advance estimate said that the Gross Value Added (GVA) in the economy is estimated to rise 6.9% this year, rising from a revised estimate of 6.7% GVA growth in 2022-23. The NSO had earlier pegged last year’s GVA growth at 7%.

The October to December 2023 quarter is reckoned to have clocked an 8.4% rise in GDP, up from a revised estimate of 8.2% in the first quarter of this fiscal and 8.1% in the second quarter (Q2). Earlier NSO estimates had pegged a 7.7% uptick in real GDP in the first half of 2023-24.

Interestingly, GVA growth is reckoned to have slid to just 6.5% in Q3 from revised estimates of 8.2% and 7.7% in Q1 and Q2, respectively.

In Q3, GVA growth from the farm sector is reckoned to have slipped into a 0.8% contraction, compared with a 5.2% uptick in the same quarter of 2022-23 and a 1.6% rise in the previous quarter. For the full year, farm GVA is now expected to grow just 0.7% compared with 4.7% in 2022-23 and 1.8% projected in this year’s first advance estimates released in early January.

Between October and December 2023, GVA growth slid sequentially in five of the seven other key segments of economic activity, including Mining (7.5% from 11.1% in Q2), Electricity, Gas and other utility services (9% from 10.5%), and Construction (9.5% from 13.5%). Manufacturing GVA rose 11.6% in Q3 from a 4.8% contraction in the same quarter of 2022-23 and a 14.4% surge in Q2 of this year.

For the full year, Construction GVA is estimated to rise 10.7% from 9.4% a year ago, with Manufacturing GVA bouncing 8.5% on the back of a 2.2% contraction in 2022-23. Financial, real estate and professional services are pegged to grow 8.2% (9.1% last year), while Mining GVA growth is expected to jump to 8.1% from 1.9% last year.

GVA growth in the employment-intensive Trade, Hotels, Transport, Communication & Services related to Broadcasting segments is expected to almost halve to 6.5% in 2023-24 from 12% in 2022-23. As of last month, the NSO had estimated 2022-23 GVA growth in this sector at 14%, while this year was projected to grow 6.3%.

Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking to reopen Thoothukudi Sterlite copper plant

The Supreme Court, on February 29, dismissed the special leave petition filed by Vedanta to reopen Thoothukudi Sterlite copper plant. The case is a victory for Tamil Nadu. The apex court upholds the Madras High Court judgment of August 2020 confirming the State government and TNPCB decision to permanently shut down plant for causing environmental violations.

The apex court noted that though the Thoothukudi plant was contributing to production and employment, the High Court was right in upholding essential principles of sustainable development, polluter pays principle, public health doctrine.

The health issue of the local populace was of ultimate concern, and the State was the obliged to protect them.

There had been repeated breaches on the part of the plant, including the indiscriminate dumping of copper slag in 11 sites, including private lands adjoining the river. There was failure to obtain authorisation for dumping of hazardous waste on the part of the plant.

The court however agreed with the High Court that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had shown a “lack of alacrity in discharging its duties”.

Himachal Pradesh political crisis | Six Congress MLAs, who cross-voted in BJP’s favour, disqualified

Amid the ongoing political turmoil in Himachal Pradesh, six Congress MLAs were disqualified on February 29 and they cease to be members of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly with immediate effect.

In Shimla, Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Pathania said the six Congress MLAs, including Rajinder Rana, Sudhir Sharma, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, Ravi Thakur, Chaitanya Sharma and Kutlehar MLA Davinder Bhutto, have defied the party whip issued during the Budget session, and hence attracted the provision under the anti-defection law.

“It is a matter of record that the six members, when the party had issued a whip, they defied the whip. Whether it attracted the provision of the anti-defection law or not, this point was before me to decide. The members were present in the Assembly, but when the cut motions and demands were put to vote [during the Budget session], they were not inside the House. Also, yesterday (February 28), when the Finance Bill was presented in the House, they were not there. This clearly shows they have defied the whip and invited the provision of the anti-defection law,” he said.

Pointing out that the six Congress MLAs had been disqualified, Pathania said, “I hold and declare the respondents [six Congress MLAs] cease to be members of the Himachal Pradesh State Legislative Assembly with immediate effect.”

Notably, these six Congress MLAs had also voted in favour of the BJP candidate in the recently held Rajya Sabha election. The political turmoil in Himachal Pradesh started on February 27, after the ruling Congress party’s candidate Abhishek Singhvi lost the election for the lone Rajya Sabha seat to the BJP’s Harsh Mahajan, following the cross-voting by these six Congress MLAs.

TADA court acquits Abdul Karim Tunda in 1993 serial blasts case

Abdul Karim Tunda, the main accused in 1993 serial train blasts case, was acquitted by a special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) court in Ajmer on February 29.

Two persons were killed and several others were injured in the blasts on five passenger trains in Lucknow, Kanpur, Hyderabad, Surat and Mumbai on the intervening night of December 5 and 6, 1993, on the first anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition.

The court sentenced two other accused, Irfan, alias Pappu, 70, and Hamiduddin, 44, to life imprisonment in the case. Tunda, 81, is said to be a close aide of wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim. The court did not find sufficient evidence to hold him guilty of carrying out the bomb explosions.

The TADA court framed charges against Tunda, Irfan and Hamiduddin on September 30, 2021 over the blasts in the trains. Irfan and Hamiduddin were sentenced to life term for the offence of planting the bombs.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which was in charge of the probe, could not prove the case against Tunda beyond reasonable doubt. Tunda’s lawyer Shafqatullah Sultani told the journalists in Ajmer that since the prosecution was unable to provide sufficient evidence to prove the charges under the TADA Act, Indian Penal Code, Railways Act, Arms Act and the Explosive Substances Act, he was let off in the case.

Irfan, who is around 70% paralysed, has been in the Central Jail in Ajmer for about 17 years and Hamiduddin for 14 years. The CBI had clubbed all the cases against the accused and sent them for trial to the TADA court in Ajmer in 1994.

Lawyer Abdul Rashid for the two convicted persons said they would file an appeal against the sentence in the Supreme Court. Tunda is currently serving a life term after his conviction in a 1996 bomb blast case by a court in Haryana. He was arrested by the special cell of Delhi Police in Uttarakhand’s Banbasa, situated near the India-Nepal border, in 2013.

There will be no automatic vacation of stay orders with lapse of time, Supreme Court holds

The Supreme Court on February 29 clarified it could not shrink the time period of interim orders passed by State High Courts or trial courts staying criminal or civil proceedings.

A Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said the top court had no power to declare that a stay order passed by a High Court after due application of mind would automatically expire within a particular period, say six months or so.

The five-judge Bench, in its verdict, also clarified that the Supreme Court could not, after lifting a stay order, put the High Court or trial courts on the clock, imposing a time schedule on them to complete a trial.

The judgment reinforced that the Supreme Court had no absolute power of hegemony over the State High Courts. The five-judge Bench highlighted that its seemingly invincible power to do “complete justice” under Article 142 of the Constitution did not extend to excessive interference in orders passed by High Courts after due consideration. It laid down guidelines for Supreme Court judges in the invocation of Article 142.

The Constitution Bench was responding to whether the Supreme Court, exercising powers under Article 142, could direct that a stay order passed by a High Court would automatically expire after the lapse of a specific period. The second question was whether the Supreme Court, again using Article 142, could order the resumed trial to be completed within a specific time.

Justice A.S. Oka, who authored the lead opinion for the Constitution Bench, held the top court could do no such things.

The period of operation of a stay order or by what time a case should be decided, etc, was entirely the call of the High Court order trial court concerned.

“Constitutional courts should not normally fix a time-bound schedule for disposal of cases pending in any court. The pattern of pendency of various categories of cases in courts, including High Courts, are different. The situation at the grassroot level is better known to the judges of the courts concerned. Therefore, giving out-of-turn priority to certain cases should be best left to the courts concerned,” Justice Oka observed, while reading out from the judgment.

Justice Oka held that an order fixing the outer limits for disposal of cases should be passed only in “exceptional circumstances to meet extraordinary situations”. “There also cannot be an automatic vacation of stay,” Justice Oka underscored.

Justice Pankaj Mithal, one of the Associate Judges on the Bench, in his concurrent opinion, agreed that a “reasoned stay order, if not specified to be time-bound, would remain in operation till there is a decision in the main matter or until and unless an application is moved for vacation and a speaking order is passed”.

The five-judge Bench was deciding a reference made to it about the correctness of a 2018 judgment in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Vs CBI. A three-judge Bench, in the 2018 verdict, had held that interim but open-ended orders of stay granted by courts, including High Courts, would get vacated by default within six months unless their period of operation was extended periodically.

Cabinet okays ₹75,000 crore rooftop solar scheme, 1 crore households to get subsidy of up to ₹78,000

The government on Thursday approved a rooftop solar scheme, PM-Surya Ghar: Mufti Bijli Yojna, with an outlay of ₹75,021 crore, to provide up to ₹78,000 subsidy for the installation of solar plants and 300 units free power for one crore households.

Briefing media after the Union Cabinet meeting, I&B Minister Anurag Thakur informed that approval has been given for the scheme for installing rooftop solar and providing free electricity up to 300 units every month for one crore households.

“The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved PM-Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana with a total outlay of ₹75,021 crore for installing rooftop solar and providing free electricity up to 300 units every month for one crore households,” an official statement said.

The Prime Minister had launched the scheme on 13th February 2024. The scheme provides a central financial assistance (CFA) of 60% of system cost for 2 kW systems and 40% of additional system cost for systems between 2 kW to 3 kW capacity. The CFA will be capped at 3 kW. At current benchmark prices, this will mean ₹30,000 subsidy for 1 kW system, ₹60,000 for 2 kW systems and ₹78,000 for 3 kW systems or higher.

The households will apply for subsidy through the National Portal and will be able to select a suitable vendor for installing rooftop solar. The National Portal will assist the households in their decision-making process by providing relevant information such as appropriate system sizes, benefits calculator, vendor rating etc.

Households will be able to access collateral-free low-interest loan products of around 7% at present for installation of residential RTS (rooftop solar) systems up to 3 kW.

Other Features of the scheme include a Model Solar Village to be developed in each district to act as a role model for adoption of rooftop solar in rural areas. Besides, Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions shall also benefit from incentives for promoting rooftop solar (RTS) installations in their areas.

The scheme provides a component for payment security for renewable energy service company (RESCO) based models as well as a fund for innovative projects in RTS.

Through this scheme, the households will be able to save electricity bills as well as earn additional income through sale of surplus power to DISCOMs. A 3 kW system will be able to generate more than 300 units a month on average for a household.

The proposed scheme will result in the addition of 30 GW of solar capacity through rooftop solar in the residential sector, generating 1000 BUs (billion units) of electricity and resulting in reduction of 720 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions over the 25-year lifetime of rooftop systems.

It is estimated that the scheme will create around 17 lakh direct jobs in manufacturing, logistics, supply chain, sales, installation, O&M and other services. For availing benefits of PM-Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana by households, the Government has launched a massive campaign since the launch of the scheme for raising awareness and generating applications from interested households. Households can register themselves on to avail of benefits under the scheme.

In brief

Israeli troops fire on Gaza crowd at aid point, health officials say 104 killed

Israeli forces in war-torn Gaza opened fire on a crowd of Palestinians at an aid distribution point on February 29, killing at least 104 people and wounding over 700 according to Palestinian health officials. Israeli sources confirmed that troops shot at the crowd, believing they “posed a threat”, in the pre-dawn incident in Gaza City in the north of the besieged territory.

Akhilesh Yadav fails to appear before CBI in illegal mining case

Samajwadi Party supremo and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on February 29 failed to appear before the CBI for recording his witness statement in connection with an illegal minor mineral mining case. Yadav, through his lawyer, reportedly told the agency that he would not be able to join the probe due to prior commitments, but promised all possible cooperation. Talking to the reporters at an event in Lucknow, he targeted the BJP over the issue.

Evening Wrap will return tomorrow.

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