They spent two years sifting through scrapyards to find appropriate material for the car. The creator of the common man's car Ratan Tata might be interested in reading this. Inspired by the cult reality show American Choppers where a father and son team create custom-made motorbike masterpieces out of parts of scrap, a group of five teenagers in Ahmedabad have used otherwise unusable scrap material to create a ready-to-drive four-wheeler for Rs 11,000. The students, Aditya Sen (16), Debanshu Samanta (17), Purna Singh (14), Sukanya Rajgopal (12) and Jaidev Singh (13), who study at Delhi Public School (DPS) and Anand Niketan School, spent two years sifting through scrap yards in the city to find appropriate materials for the car. As opposed to the accepted norm of creating a car design first and building it subsequently, the students had no rough sketch of the vehicle when they started out and built it up according to the materials they could gather. The rear window of the car has been sourced from a Fiat 1965 model. A Kinetic scooter and TVS Scooty's tyres make up the wheels of the car. The petrol tank is an unusable old geyser from a neighbour's home which has been connected to a gutter pipe and stuck with strong adhesive. The tank has a 3-4 litre capacity. A 125cc Honda engine ripped off from a Kinetic scooter is the vehicle's engine. In fact, other than a hydraulic brake, every other component of the car is scrap material. Although the commercial viability of the vehicle is not on the cards at the moment, Aditya Sen said the group had written to Ratan Tata explaining how the car was put together. While RTO regulations prohibit the use of an unapproved vehicle on the road for safety reasons, the car has interested officials of Anand Niketan School who have agreed to fund the groups second venture which is creation of an eco-friendly four-wheeler. "The students are keen to develop a solar-powered car for which I have already ordered solar panels from China which should be delivered within a month,' said Kamal Mangal, head trustee, Anand Niketan School.

JOBS: Allocation for the scheme, which provides job on demand to the rural population, is Rs 16,000 crore. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, the flagship programme of the UPA government, which provides job on demand to the rural population, has been extended to all the 596 rural districts in the country with effect from April 1, 2008. The allocation made for the scheme with legislative backing is Rs 16,000 crore. For 2007-08, the allocation for the scheme implemented in 330 districts was Rs 12,000 crore. The finance minister assured that as the scheme was not an Act, the government would provide financial backing for it, no matter what the amount. But, according to the Ministry of Rural Development, till December 2007, the NREGA was able to spend only 60 per cent of the funds available. At the same time, the NREGA was able to provide more than 85 crore man-days of work to more than 25 million households in 2007-08. The finance minister also said that as long as the country experienced a growth rate of more than 8.5 per cent, it could create jobs required for all segments. For Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana, a programme providing self-employment to the rural poor, an allocation of Rs 2,150 crore was made, up Rs 350 crore from Rs 1,800 crore provided in Budget 2007-08. While letting the individual ministries like labour and employment carry on with their own skill development programmes, the finance minister announced establishment of a non-profit corporation with the mission of imparting world-class skills for the emerging economy. The government will provide Rs 1,000 crore, while Rs 15,000 crore will be raised from other sources. The government has alloted Rs 750 crore for the upgrade of 300 ITIs next year. It intends to upgrade 1,396 out of the 1,896 government ITIs in public-private partnership by the end of the Eleventh Plan period, which will provide quality technicians to the industry.

BHARAT NIRMAN: Allocation increased to Rs 31,280 crore against Rs 24,603 crore in 2007-08. Bharat Nirman, the flagship programme of the UPA government for rural infrastructure, with a cost of Rs 1,74,000 crore and a fast approaching deadline of 2009, got an allocation of Rs 31,280 crore this Budget. The highlight this year is the increase in allocation for rural housing. Bharat Nirman targets six development components, viz rural access to housing, roads, drinking water, telephony, electrification and irrigation. For the rural housing scheme, called Indira Awas Yojana, which benefits only those who have land, the Budget provides an increased subsidy for building houses under the programme. The government subsidy of Rs 25,000 crore for houses in the plains will now increase to Rs 35,000 crore. The public sector banks have been asked to give up to Rs 20,000 in loans at an interest of 4 per cent for the Indira Awas Yojana houses. About 6 million houses are targeted to be built under the programme by 2009. So far, 5.1 million houses have been constructed, according to Finance Minister P Chidambaram. OUTLAYS vs OUTCOMES Expenditure is up, education is not % children who can Class Read* Subtract Divide 1 3 3.9 1.5 2 9 14.2 3.7 3 21.6 31.1 11.2 4 42.5 34.7 27.6 5 58.7 31.9 42.4 6 71.7 27.8 54.2 7 79.7 23.4 62.8 8 86.6 18.3 71.6 Average 41.6 23.1 30.1 Note: Children who can divide can subtract as well Source: Pratham 2007 * Read a Class 2 text The allocation of Rs 5,400 crore for rural housing is up from Rs 4,400 crore last year. Bharat Nirman, as a whole, received Rs 31,280 crore, compared to Rs 24,603 crore in 2007-08. Bharat Nirman's component on drinking water, implemented through the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, got another feature under the Budget with the finance minister allocating a separate amount of Rs 200 crore for providing drinking water in schools. The allocation for the scheme has also been enhanced from Rs 6,500 crore last year to Rs 7,300 crore this year. The Budget was silent on rural access to telephony under Bharat Nirman except saying that 52 villages were getting access to telephone, well ahead of the target. The scheme targets reaching over 66,000 villages by 2009 and can progress at a rate of 45 houses per day. The Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, which aims at providing electricity connections to all villages by 2009, has been allocated Rs 5,500 crore this year. Access to irrigation under Bharat Nirman got a fillip with the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme allocations getting almost doubled from Rs 11,000 crore to Rs 20,000 crore. Under the programme, 24 major and medium irrigation projects and 753 minor irrigation projects will be completed in this financial year, creating an irrigation potential of 500,000 hectares. The scheme targets 10 million hectares. While six million hectares are to be covered under major and medium projects, one million hectares are to be brought under micro irrigation. Chidambaram said that 548,000 hectares were brought under drip and sprinkler irrigation since 2006, while, with a budgetary allocation of Rs 500 crore, 400,000 hectares were being targeted for coverage this year.

First, it was Congress President Sonia Gandhi publicly indicating to Finance Minister P Chidambaram the direction she wanted the budget to take

A 111-year-old law is one of the key options the government could invoke to handle the challenges arising out of the possible denotification of three Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Goa. Last week, the inter-ministerial Board of Approvals had recommended starting talks with the Goa government on denotifying the three SEZs following strong local protests in Goa last year, creating a precedent that is being closely watched by potential investors in India and abroad. This is because the process of denotification itself is complex and could be long-drawn. The SEZ Act, 2005, does not have specific provisions for denotification. The Act, however, has provisions empowering the central government to issue policy directions to the Board of Approvals (under subsections 5 and 6 of Section 9). This power is derived from the General Clauses Act of 1897, an umbrella law covering all Acts and government notifications passed by the Centre. Section 21 of this Act empowers the government to add, amend, vary or rescind sections in notifications, orders, rules or bylaws issued by it. This means the central government is, on reading the two laws together, empowered to override the SEZ Act to account for measures like denotification. The other two denotification routes are amendment of the SEZ Act through Parliament and through a presidential ordinance. The latter has been ruled out since Parliament is in session and there is nothing to stop the developers of the three SEZs from going to court if the government waits for the session to end. An amendment of the SEZ Act will not only need approval from the commerce ministry, but also may provoke political opposition from the Congress itself. For this reason, the government is unlikely to follow this route. There are, however, some aspects of the denotification that the government cannot escape

Global fertiliser supply is expected to outstrip demand by 2011-12 and will support higher levels of food and bio-fuel production, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has said in a report. The supply of fertiliser

Citing reports of higher wheat output this year, Food Corporation of India (FCI) today said it expected to lift at least 13.5 million tonnes of wheat in 2008-09, up by 2.3 million tonnes over the current fiscal. "This year (2008-09), the wheat procurement from across the country by FCI is expected to be between 13.5 and 15 million tonnes of wheat which is quite high as compared to procurement done in earlier years,' FCI Chairman and Managing Director Alok Sinha told reporters here today. He said, "The major factors behind the increase in procurement will be higher MSP, good crop in Punjab, Haryana, Northern Rajasthan and Western Uttar Pradesh, and low interest of private buyers in buying the crop.' FCI procured 9.2 million tonnes of wheat in 2006-07, followed by 11.2 million tonnes lifted in 2007-08. With the procurement of 13.5 million tonnes of the crop, the wheat stock of the country would reach 18.8 million tonnes. "From April 1 this year, we will have a stock of 5.3 million tonnes of wheat and if we add the figure of expected lifting then it will reach 188 lakh tons,' Sinha said. From Punjab and Haryana alone, FCI expects to lift 8.5 million tonnes and 40 million tonnes of wheat respectively, he informed. The agency predicts that the private buyers would not be aggressive this year for wheat buying due to stabilised domestic wheat prices. Elaborating on the low interest of private traders in wheat buying this year, Sinha said, "The wholesale prices of wheat in domestic market remained lower in 2007-08 than the prices in 2006-07, although the global prices remained high.' Moreover, the domestic wheat prices are stabilised at the moment. Therefore, in view of such a situation, private buyers will not as much as aggressive they were in 2006-07, he added. He said that the private buyers procured 3 million tonnes of wheat last year from the country and they did not make expected gains from this buying. As far as rice procurement is concerned, Sinha said FCI would buy 27 million tonnes of rice by September 30 this year as against rice procurement of 25 million tonnes last year.

Mixing of cheap coconut oil with costly edible oils is rampant in south Adulteration is posing a serious threat to the edible oil trade in south India. Mixing of refined coconut oil, made from poor quality copra, with other oils is on the rise. As coconut oil is the cheapest edible oil available in the market, mixing it with other oils is turning into a profitable business here. The practice is rampant in the case of palm oil as its availability is low due to high global prices and import restrictions. A few years back, when coconut oil had crossed Rs 65 a kg, it was mixed with refined palm kernel oil, which was cheaper then. But now, when the retail prices of palm oil have crossed Rs 68-70 a kg, while coconut oil remains stable at Rs 60, the trend has reversed. According to copra dealers, the palm oil refiners, especially in Tamil Nadu, have large stocks of low quality copra, which is available at Rs 3,400-3,500 a quintal. "The refined oil made from this is ideal for mixing with other costly oils,' they said. All edible oil prices except for coconut oil are ruling above Rs 70 a kg. Ground nut oil and sunflower oil have a retail price of Rs 95 a kg while gingelly oil is costing Rs 100. Meanwhile, coconut oil prices are also on the rise. Today in Kochi, prices were hovering around Rs 5,650 a quintal, up by Rs 50.

Rehab, clearances a bother in Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh. Tata Steel's greenfield projects in Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh have been delayed by about 12 to 16 months due to issues over land acquisition and resettlement, the company's executives said. The company plans to invest about Rs 90,000 crore in the three projects, which will have a total capacity of 23 million tonnes. Speaking to journalists today on the sidelines of Steelrise 2008, a three-day conference, the company's Chief Operating Officer H M Nerurkar said that all the projects were delayed. Construction work has not started on the first project, which was to go on stream in Kalinganagar (six million tonnes). About 400 families are yet to be re-settled for the project. Equipment costing about Rs 10,000 crore had already been ordered for the Kalinganagar plant, said Amit Chatterjee, advisor to Tata Steel Managing Director B Muthuraman. The project would be spared some cost overruns as the equipment was ordered some time back. Still, the equipment is expected to come this year and there could be penalties if it was not cleared in time from the ports. Nerurkar was optimistic about the construction work starting by March-end. In Orissa, the company is yet to get recommendation for iron ore mines for its project in the state. The state government was assessing the mines that Tata Steel already has there, Nerurukar said. The scenario is no better for the company's proposed five million tonnes plant in Chhattisgarh. According to Varun Jha, vice president, Chhattisgarh project, the first phase is planned to be commissioned by 2011 and the second phase by 2015. But the project has been delayed on account of litigation over mines. About two-thirds of the residents have accepted the compensation package. Investments would depend on when the project would start, Jha said. Addressing a seminar at the steel conference, Partha Sengupta, vice president (corporate services), Tata Steel, who is in charge of the Jharkhand project, pointed out that applications for land acquisitins were made a year and a half ago. However, the state government was yet to announce a rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) package, which was necessary for land acquisition, he said.

China-based Sinosteel today said it would set up its first integrated steel plant in Jharkhand and a cold forged rolls unit at Haldia in West Bengal. "We are in the mining, designing and equipment supply business and have participated in the construction of big steel plants in China. But, for the first time we are putting up an integrated steel plant,' Hongsen Wang, managing director of Sinosteel India, told reporters on the eve of the International Steel Seminar being organised by the Steel Scenario journal. Wang said Sinosteel has submitted the proposal to the government for setting up the steel plant in Jharkhand for which the company would invest $ 2 billion. "It will be a five-million-tonne plant, but in the first phase we will start with two million tonne,' he said, adding that 3,000 acres would be required for the project. He said the company has prepared a report for its plant which would come up between Silli and Chandil and was being vetted through MECON. Asked whether Sinosteel has tied up with a company for iron ore supply for its Jharkhand plant, Wang said, "We will try to get a captive mine and apply for the mining lease. We will, however, not wait for the captive mine. We will start construction as soon as we get the land.' On the cold forged rolls unit in West Bengal, he said 30 acres had been acquired, which would be set up at a cost of $ 25 million.