The finance minister's (FM) shrewd decision to waive small farmer loans may end up costing the nation much less than the Rs 60,000 crore earlier estimated.

Cold and isolated, iceland may be the last place that comes to your mind when you think of data centres.

The economy of Madhya Pradesh is largely natural resource driven, leveraging the state's advantage in agriculture and mineral resources. The key industries and sectors where Madhya Pradesh has competitive strength include cement, textiles, mining and food-processing. To give a fillip to industrial development in the State, the Madhya Pradesh government has decided to establish a SEZ in the industrially backward Hargarh village of Sihora tehsil, Jabalpur district, in Mahakaushal region of the State. The work on setting up the SEZ is on in full swing and the blueprint for it is ready. The SEZ will be formally inaugurated during the Investors' Meet to be held in Jabalpur. The Industries Department has proposed to build the SEZ on 623 acres of land in Hargarh. While 250 acres of the land is being dedicated to an SEZ on mineral and mineral-based products, a similar area of land has been earmarked for a SEZ dedicated to agro and food products. The rest of the land will be developed as an industrial area. The proposal for the mineral-based SEZ has already been sent to the Central government while the proposal for agro and food products SEZ is being prepared by the Industries Department. The mineral-based SEZ will have a budget of Rs 158.10 crore and will take three years to develop. The units that are likely to be a part of mineral-based SEZ are iron ore units, granite, marble processing units and fire clay units. A lot of work is being done in these fields in the Mahakaushal region. The preparations for the inauguration are in full swing. The empty fields of Hargarh are being cleaned up and the Pan Umaraiya road and a link road to the inauguration spot is being built rapidly. Work is also in progress on the National Highway between Sihora and Jabalpur. The inauguration will be done on February 15 with Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan taking part in the Bhoomi pujan ceremony. In fact, SEZ is one of the main focus areas of the two-day Investors' Meet in Jabalpur. The SEZ is likely to have a lot of positive spin-offs for the region. With the establishment of the SEZ, export companies will set up offices and complexes in Jabalpur creating opportunities for employment. Also, the air traffic to Jabalpur will get a fillip and, in turn, taxi and hotel services will gain from increased human traffic. The ancillary units and factories in Jabalpur and Katni regions will also gain from the SEZ, besides improvement in the industrial environment in Sihora region. Another major gain will be in terms of employment generation. Nearly 8,300 people will get employment in mineral-based SEZ. The SEZ will thus be a boon for skilled manpower in Jabalpur and for unskilled labour of Sihora and Hargarh, there will be work available. The state goernment has already developed a greenfield SEZ at Indore and its experience in that venture is certain to stand it in good stead in Jabalpur.

THE FACULTY AND STUDENTS OF MAHINDRA United World College of India have created a unique biodiversity park and reserve spread over 170 acres in Pune. Inaugurated on 9 February, the project aims to enhance the flora and fauna in the reserve on the Western Ghats, which itself is a global biodiversity hotspot. The second part of the project covers about 95 acres and consists of a conservation reserve. The forest department will add 80 acres of forest land to the reserve.

ONGC is collaborating with Norway's StatoilHydro on carbon management projects WHILE MOST OIL companies avoid speaking of climate change, India's ONGC has taken the issue head on. The oil and gas giant has signed an agreement with Norway's StatoilHydro to explore carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), clean development mechanism (CDM) and other carbon management projects. StatoilHydro, which runs one of the largest CCS projects in the world, will help ONGC's facilities suck C02 out of the atmosphere and pump it underground for storage. This reduces excessive levels of the gas in the atmosphere and lowers the risks of abrupt climate change. But for oil companies, there is an added benefit of pumping C02 underground, as it is also Recovery or EOR acts on the same principle, but uses C02 to extract hard-to-reach oil. By trapping C02 underground, ONGC will also earn revenues by selling carbon credits through the CDM. These credits can be sold to companies that have been unable to take their own C02 emissions below legally permissible limits.