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2012 November 20 to 23 Current Affairs

International Issues 

European Union has recognized the new Syrian opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. The EU foreign ministers took a decision to this effect at a meeting in Brussels. France which is the first Western country to recognize the Coalition had urged EU nations to recognize the newly formed National Coalition for Syrian Opposition and Revolutionaries as the sole representative of the Syrian people. Britain is expected to clarify its position in a parliamentary debate. GCC, Arab League AND Turkey have already recognized the new bloc which came into existence in Qatar.

India was among the 39 countries that voted against a UN General Assembly draft resolution which called for abolishing the death penalty. The non-binding resolution called for a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. It was adopted at the General Assembly's Third Committee, which deals with social and humanitarian issues. 110 nations voted in favour of the resolution while 36 abstained. The draft resolution expresses its "deep concern about the continued application of the death penalty and calls on states to establish a moratorium on executions, with a view to abolishing the practice. It calls on nations to progressively restrict the death penalty's use and not impose capital punishment for offences committed by persons under age 18 or pregnant women. 

The 43rd edition of the International Film Festival of India began at Panaji in Goa on Nov 20,2012. Noted cine-actor Akshay Kumar inaugurated the 10-day cinematic extravaganza by lighting a traditional lamp.

Iran said that it was fully prepared to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA to reach an agreement which would guarantee Tehran's legitimate rights and remove the Agency's concerns about its peaceful nuclear activities.

Britain has recognized the newly formed Syrian opposition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. British decision follows a green signal to the newly formed Syrian National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionaries by the European nations. France was the first Western nation to officially recognize the new umbrella opposition.

The GCC, Arab League and Turkey have also recognized the new Syrian opposition bloc which came into existence in Qatar two weeks ago. The U.S. has also recognized the leadership body as a legitimate representative, but stopped short of describing it as a sole representative, saying the group must first demonstrate its ability to represent Syrians inside the country.

The World Bank has said, India will receive record 70 billion US dollar remittances in 2012, topping the list of developing countries which are expected to receive a total of 406 billion US dollar this year. After India, China will stand second with 66 billion US dollar, followed by Mexico and the Philippines with 24 billion US dollar each. In all worldwide remittances - including those to high income countries - will reach 534 billion US dollar in 2012, according to a newly updated World Bank brief on global migration and remittances.

Israel and the United States have agreed to work together to prevent the smuggling of weapons from Iran to militant groups in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said in Jerusalem. Netanyahu said that Israel's Operation Pillar of Defence began after increasing attacks by Gaza militants. He claimed success in the operation, which killed 155 Palestinians and seen more than 1,300 rockets fired over the border.

The Japanese government has officially approved the appointment of Masato Kitera as its new ambassador to China. 

First International textile and Apparel Fair ‘Vastra 2012’ has begun from Nov 22,2012 in Jaipur. The best and latest in textiles from fibre to fashion and from infrastructure to technology is showcased at the exposition.the fair is being jointly organized by Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation (RIICO) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). 

National Issues 

The Government signed a 37 million US dollar credit agreement with the World Bank for the ongoing Himachal Pradesh Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project. The credit will help the Himachal Pradesh Government to build sustainable watershed treatment models. The original 60 million US dollar Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project is aimed at reversing the process of degradation of the natural resource base, improve productivity, and raise rural household incomes. The ongoing project has converted about 9,000 hector of rainfed area into irrigated land through watershed management techniques.

RED RIBBON EXPRESS, special train, running across India for the third season to spread awareness on HIV/ AIDS. 

Assam government has launched a unique programme to send meritorious students of the state to NASA. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has launched the programme in Guwahati, named as Deba Kumar Bora Memorial NASA visit. Total six students, who topped in High School Leaving Certificate and Assam High Madrassa Examination this year, are being taken on this 14 days educational tour.

Assam is a pioneering state in the entire country where the students are being taken on a unique educational tour fully funded by the state government. The visit to NASA is likely to enrich the students with a firsthand understanding of Space Science and Astronomy.

Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia launched a skill development programme for 144 youth from Jammu and Kashmir in the power sector. The 36-week training programme will be conducted by the National Thermal Power Corporation, NTPC, at its various thermal power stations in the current year. With this, the company will be the first public sector undertaking to implement the Centre’s Udaan initiative aimed at imparting skills to the youth from the state.

In Uttar Pradesh, the government has announced its new 'food processing policy 2012' in a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow. Under the new policy many sops are announced for the new food processing units along with the other benefits. Uttar Pradesh tate government will make available up to fifty lakh Rupees per year at 7 per cent interest rate for plant, machinery and civil technical works of the new food processing plants. The units established with Rupees five crore and ten crores, who will use the perishable items for food processing and its export afterward, will be given exemption of Mandi fees or development cess for a period up to fifteen years.

Inaugurating the seventh national conference on "Krishi Vigyan Kendras 2012" in the Punjab Agricultural University at Ludhiana, he said that the fears that the FDI in multi-brand retail would badly affect the interests of small shopkeepers and traders are unfounded.

The Rajasthan Government has announced various measures to promote agro-processing industry and attract investment in agri-business. The state cabinet decided that established projects and projects to be established in agro-processing industry and agri-business sector would be provided 100 percent exemption on Electricity Duty for 7 years, and complete exemption on stamp duty for purchase of land and land conversion charges and Market Fee.

Earlier, minimum 25 Crore rupees investment was essential in agro processing industry in the state. This move will help the small and medium enterprise to set up their projects. In an another decision, the state cabinet has decided to allot land on concessional rates to central governments departments in the state. The cabinet also gave approval for the allotment of unoccupied Government land to an eligible co-operative society free of cost by amending the Rajasthan Land Revenue Rules.

The government is setting up a high-powered committee to implement the interlinking of rivers as directed by the Supreme Court. River interlinking proposals in the country envisage increased use of ground water and generation of thirty-five thousand MW of power besides creating irrigation facilities from surface water in 25 million hectares of land. The other benefits are flood control, navigation facilities, water supply and pollution control. Interlinking of rivers will also help in overcoming drought. Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat gave this information.

The Cabinet approved National Pharmaceutical Policy. Now 348 essential durg will come over price control of the goverment and the cost of essential drugs are likely to drop. Group of Ministers headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had finalised the Drug Pricing formula.

The Railways have generated Rs. 47063.59 crore of revenue earnings from commodity-wise freight traffic during April-October 2012 as compared to Rs. 37392.97 crore during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of 25.86 per cent. Railways carried 565.37 million tonnes of commodity-wise freight traffic during April-October 2012 as compared to 536.92 million tonnes carried during the corresponding period last year, registering an increase of 5.30 per cent. The Net Tonne Kilo Metres (NTKM) went up from 357750 million during April-October 2011 to 363834 million during April-October 2012, showing an increase of 1.70 per cent.

The UDAAN programme , a special industry initiative of the Centre for the youth of Jammu & Kashmir was launched by Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia , Minister for Power on Nov 20,2012. The youth from Jammu and Kashmir have been inducted by NTPC for training in thermal plant engineering.

The Chief of the Air Staff and Chairman COSC Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne PVSM AVSM VM ADC released a book titled “Victory India - A Key to Quality Military Leadership” by Colonel Vinay B Dalvi (Retd).

The President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the Mannam International Socio-cultural & Charitable Centre at a function on (20.11.2012) at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The President wished the Centre all success and congratulated NSS Delhi on its initiative to create such an institution to serve the needs of the under privileged. He said the NSS has a long tradition of being an organization which serves the needs of all communities.

The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Government of India has initiated the Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP) with the support of Global Environment Facility (GEF), the World Bank and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to foster a long-term partnership between the Central Government and state/local governments in the implementation of a greener environment under the ambit of the National Urban Transport Project (NUTP).

The main objectives of the Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP) are:

 • To strengthen the capacity of the Central Government, participating states and cities in planning, financing, implementing, operating and managing sustainable urban transport systems; and

 • To assist states and cities in preparing and implementing certain demonstration “Green Transport” projects towards reduction of green house gases in the urban environment.

The Union Government enacted the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, to correct this historic injustice and guaranteed rights to hold and live in the forest land under the individual or common occupation for habitation or for self-cultivation for livelihood.

The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure approved the Project for Development of Single Point Mooring (SPM) and allied facilities for the import of crude oil off Veera (outside Kandla creek) in Gulf of Kutch at Kandla Port on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis for a period of 30 years at an estimated cost of Rs. 621.53 crore.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the issue of pricing for bio-ethanol procurement by Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) for Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme as per following:

 i. The 5% mandatory ethanol blending with petrol as already decided by the CCEA in the past, should be implemented across the country, for which the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas will immediately issue a gazette notification, for the OMCs to implement from the 2012-13 sugar season, effective from 1st December, 2012.

ii. Procurement price of ethanol will be decided henceforth between OMCs and suppliers of ethanol. iii. In case of any shortfall in domestic supply, the OMCs and Chemical companies are free to import ethanol. It is expected that 5% bio-ethanol will be blended with petrol sold in all the States and UTs of the country.

The CCEA in its meeting held on 16th August 2010 had approved the ad-hoc price of Rs. 27.00 per litre for bio-ethanol for procurement by OMCs. This price was subject to adjustment on the basis of recommendation of an expert committee for pricing of ethanol. Later an Expert Committee headed by Dr. Saumitra Chaudhury, Member, Planning Commission, considered the issue of pricing of ethanol. In its report, submitted in March 2011, the expert committee recommended a formula which was derived broadly from the price of motor spirit. Subsequently, a report by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, submitted on 10.03.2011, recommended the fixation of price of bio-ethanol through the market mechanism. The issue of procurement price for bio-ethanol has been considered by a Group of Ministers and the CCEA.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation to extend the ongoing scheme of Integrated Low Cost Sanitation Scheme into the 12th Five Year Plan with revised features and cost estimates. The Government of India would extend the financial support to the State Governments for total eradication of the dry latrines from the urban areas at an estimated cost of Rs.481.45 crore, out of which the central share would be Rs. 367.33 crore and the rest will be borne by the State Governments and beneficiaries in the ratio of 3:1.

The cost ceiling has been realigned from the current level of Rs.10,000 (fixed in 2008) to Rs.15,000 and enhanced support has been announced for adoption of eco-friendly technologies like bio-digesters etc.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the proposal of Rs.4,909 crore towards IT modernisation project of the Department of Posts, covering 1.55 lakhs post offices. The total expenditure for the project involving Rs.4,909 crore includes both implementation phase and operation and maintenance phase for the IT infrastructure of Post Offices.

The IT project of the Department is a part of the Mission Mode Project (MMP) included in the National e-Governance Plan (NEGP). The Department of Posts has a network of 1.55 Lakhs post offices spread across all the States and Union Territories of the country. The key objective of the India Post IT Modernisation project is modernization and computerization of all Post offices in the country including branch post offices in rural areas to create a urban-rural network spanning across the length and breadth of the country.

The IT modernisation project is expected to give following benefits to the citizens of the country:
• Improve customer satisfaction due to faster and more reliable delivery of services
• Enhance visibility and transparency
• Provide access by multiple channels to the customers e.g. post office counters, kiosks, internet, mobiles ATMs etc;
• Ensure delivery of "citizen centric services" The IT modernisation project will provide a national asset and infrastructure for all users apart from the post offices including various government departments, business houses and the citizens to use the services effectively for their communication, banking, insurance and service delivery needs.

The proposal of the Department of Posts is in continuation of the proposal which was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 26th Aug 2010. The overall project has been segregated into eight RFPs, of which, selection of vendors have been finalized in case of 5 RFPs and LOIs have been issued. Of these 5 RFPs, in four cases the contracts have been signed with the selected bidders. In respect of two RFPs the financial bids have been opened and selection of the bidder is under process.

The Union Cabinet approved revising the Core Network under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yjana (PMGSY) by including 2,687 left-out unconnection habitations (as per 2001 census) in Tribal (Schedule-V) areas (other than 82 IAP districts already covered) and Blocks adjoining International Border under Border Area Development Programme (BADP) and to provide new connectivity to these habitations, at an estimated cost of Rs.5,929 crore. It also approved upgradation of selected roads measuring about 2000 km length out of the roads, the assessment of surface condition of which could not be carried out properly earlier, in the Tribal (Schedule-V) areas and Blocks adjoining the international border under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) at an estimated cost of Rs.1,000 core.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is implementing a Scheme on ’Development of Solar Cities’ which provides support for 60 cities to develop as Solar Cities in the country. The Ministry has given sanctions for 41 cities for developing as Solar Cities. Gandhinagar, Nagpur, Chandigarh and Mysore are being developed as Model Solar Cities. The Ministry has approved the Master Plants for the 28 Cities and the project installations have already started in few cities.

November 23rd is Prasar Bharati day. It was on this day in 1997 that the statutory autonomous body was established under the Prasar Bharati Act. Prasar Bharati was established following a demand that government-owned broadcasters in the country be given autonomy like those in many other countries.

Bilateral Issues 

India has added 22 commodities such as agricultural tools, bicycle, coal and garments in the list of items for border trade with Myanmar to boost the two-way commerce between the neighbours. Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a public notice that existing arrangements for import and export of items under Indo-Myanmar Border have been revised and 22 new items have been added to the existing list of 40 tradable items. According to industry body CII, the bilateral trade between India and Myanmar is expected to double by 2015 from the current level of 1.3 billion US dollar.

India and Singapore have agreed to further enhance the bilateral defence cooperation to strengthen regional peace and stability. Defence minister A K Antony and his Singapore counterpart Dr. Ng Eng Hen in a meeting in New Delhi expressed satisfaction over the wide ranging comprehensive defence exchanges between the two countries. Both sides also agreed that the on-going interactions between the defence establishments including regular joint military training and exercises had been useful.

India has signed a 70-million Dollar loan agreement with the World Bank for additional financing of Karnataka Health Systems Development and Reform Project. The main objective of the project is to improve the health services delivery, public-private collaboration and financing for the benefit of underserved and vulnerable groups in Karnataka. The agreement was signed by Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Prabodh Saxena and World Bank's India Operations Advisor, Michael Haney in New Delhi.

The Commerce and Industry Minisitry said that the proposed 750 million US dollar Saudi- Indo Investment Fund will be operational in near future. The fund , jointly set up by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and the Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation will focus on channelizing Saudi Investments into Indian infrastructure projects. The Union Minisiter of State for Commerce and Industry Dr. S Jagathrakshakan told this to 15 member delegation of Saudi - india Business Network- SIBN who called on the Minister in New Delhi. The delegation has shown keen interest in investing in India and forming joint ventures with indian companies.

The Government of India signed a $37 million credit agreement with the World Bank for the ongoing Himachal Pradesh Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project to support the Government of Himachal Pradesh build sustainable watershed treatment models. The agreement was signed by Prabodh Saxena on behalf of the Government of India, Bharathi S. Sihag, Principal Secretary, Forest, on behalf of the Government of Himachal Pradesh and Onno Rûhl, World Bank Country Director for India on behalf of the World Bank.

Economic Issues 

The Life Insurance Corporation of India ( LIC) and the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) have agreed to fully subscribe to the Rs 7,400 crore bond sale of national carrier Air India. This was stated by a top SBI Caps official in New Delhi. Life Insurance Corporation and the EPFO have agreed to purchase the entire Rs 7,400 crore Non-convertible debentures, NCDs being sold by Air India. This issue has a coupon of 9.08 per cent and will fetch 9.27 per cent for LIC and the EPFO on maturity after 19 years, he added. According to an Air India official, LIC has subscribed to bonds worth Rs 3,000 crore and the remaining have been purchased by the EPFO.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved disinvestment of 9.50% equity of NTPC Ltd., out of its holding of 84.50% through an offer for sale of Shares through Stock Exchanges as per SEBI Rules and Regulations. After this disinvestment Government of India’s shareholding in the company would come down to 75%. The paid up equity capital of the company, as on 31st March, 2012 is Rs. 8245.46 crore.

The President of India holds 84.50% of the paid up capital in NTPC Ltd. NTPC is a listed Maharatna Central Public Sector Enterprise. NTPC Ltd. is a Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Ministry of Power. NTPC is primarily engaged in business of power generation through coal based and gas based sources.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), in its meeting held on 14.9.2012, had approved disinvestment of 9.59% paid up equity capital of Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) through the Offer for Sale through Stock Exchange mechanism (OFS). The issue was held on 23.11.2012. A minimum of 4% of the paid up equity shares (3,70,08,720 shares) was offered for sale with an option to sell an additional 5.59% (ie.5,17,14,580 shares) paid up equity shares of the company. The floor price was fixed by the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) at Rs.155 per share.

A total bid for 5,16,11,858 shares were received. It has been decided to accept the entire number of shares bid for at or above the floor price. Thus, approximately 5.58% of the total paid up share capital of HCL stands divested through this issue. The approximate gross receipts from the issue is Rs. 800 crores.


The Interceptor Missile AAD launched by the Scientists on Nov 23, 2012 of DRDO from Wheeler’s Island, Odisha successfully destroyed the incoming Ballistic Missile at an altitude of 15 Kms. The interception took place at 12.52hrs. The target missile, a modified version of Prithvi, mimicking the enemy’s ballistic missile, was launched from Launch Complex III, Chandipur. Long Range Radar and MFC Radar located far away could detect the Missile from take-off and tracked it through its entire path.

The total trajectory of the incoming Missile was continuously estimated by the guidance computer and subsequently the AAD Missile was launched at an appropriate time to counter and kill the ballistic missile. The Ring Laser Gyro based Navigation System in Target, Fibre Optic Gyro based INS in Interceptor, Onboard computers, Guidance systems, Actuation Systems and the critical RF Seekers used for the terminal phase have performed excellently.

The AAD Missile system initially guided by Inertial Navigation system was continuously getting update of the target position by the Radar through a data link. The Radio Frequency (RF) seeker tracked the Missile & Onboard computer guided the Missile towards the Target Missile and hit the target. The Radio Proximity Fuse (RPF) exploded the warhead thereby destroying the target missile completely.

Indian Coast Guard Ship H-189, the third of the series of twelve Air Cushion Vehicles (ACVs) designed and built by M/s Griffon Hoverworks Limited (GHL), UK was commissioned at Mumbai by Vice Admiral SK Sinha, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command. The 21 metres long Air Cushion Vehicle with 31 tonnes displacement can achieve a maximum speed of 45 knots. The ACV is capable of undertaking multi-farious tasks such as surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue and rendering assistance to small boats/craft in distress at sea. With the commissioning of H-189, the force level of ICG has gone up to 77 ships & boats and with the planned inductions the force level would be doubling by 2018. The Air Cushion Vehicle H-189 will be based at Okha under the Administrative and Operational Control of the Commander Coast Guard Region (North-West). The hovercraft is commanded by Commandant YogeshDutta and has a crew of 02 Officers and 11 Enrolled Personnel.


Pakistani teenaged girl Malala Yousafzai, who became the face of the country's struggle against the Taliban, has been awarded for her bravery and commitment to education for girls in adverse conditions in Swat. The award was given out by World Peace and Prosperity Foundation. It was handed over by the foundation Chairman Prince Ali Khan, at the Cholmondeley Room of the House of Lords last night. Malala, who was shot in the head by Taliban militants in Swat last month, is being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham where she is recovering.

President Pranab Mukherjee on nov 21st 2012 gave away National Safety Awards to 102 people in the Mining industry for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010. Mr Mukherjee said there is no scope for any complacency in safety matters as it involves the lives of more than ten lakh people engaged in the mining sector. The President also called for application of the latest technologies to ensure the safety of the miners. The Labour and employment minister Mallikarjun Kharge said that his ministry is implementing in a comprehensive manner a national policy on mines safety.

President Pranabh Mukherjee presented the 2010 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development to former Brazilian President Lula Da Silva. In a glittering ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Nov 22, 2012, President Lula was honoured for his outstanding contribution to the cause of eliminating poverty and promoting inclusive growth in Brazil.

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on 23rd November, 2012 gave away Rashtrakavi Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’ Sahitya Ratna Samman to 21 prominent writers and social workers at a function organized in Rashtrapati Bhavan. On the occasion, the President recalled the contribution of Shri Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’ in the freedom struggle and his service to Hindi literature. He also called upon the Indian writers to bring international laurels to the country through their writings.

Former India captain and legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar was conferred with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the BCCI's prestigious Col C K Naidu Lifetime Achievement award. Gavaskar described the award as the biggest in Indian cricket and said that he was honoured to receive it. The award comprises a trophy, citation and a cheque for 25 lakh rupees.

Gavaskar has represented India in 125 Tests from 1970-71 to 1986-87. He was the first batsman to score 10,000 runs in Tests, and the first to play 100 consecutive Tests. He was the first batsman to surpass Sir Don Bradman's tally of 29 Test centuries. He has led India in 47 Tests. Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli were also awarded for their achievements in the international arena during the past season.


Terrorist and perpetrator of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack Ajmal Kasab was hanged in Yarawada jail of Pune at 7.30 on Nov 21st,2012. President Pranab Mukherjee had rejected the mercy petition filed by Ajmal Kasab sentenced to death for his role in the November 26, 2008 terror attack on Mumbai.

The competent authority has appointed Shri Ranjit Sinha, IPS (BH-1974) as Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a period of two years with effect from the date of assumption of charge. He will succeed Shri A.P. Singh, IPS (JH-1974) on his retirement on 30th November 2012.


Science & Technology 

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is designing a satellite – GEO Imaging Satellite (GISAT), which will be placed in geostationary orbit of 36,000 km. GISAT will provide near real time pictures of large areas of the country, under cloud free conditions, at frequent intervals. That is, selected sector-wise imaging every 5 minutes and entire Indian landmass every 30 minutes at 50m spatial resolution. GISAT will carry a GEO Imager with multi-spectral (visible, near infra-red and thermal), multi-resolution (50m to 1.5 km) imaging instruments. It will provide pictures of the area of interest on near real time basis including border areas.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has established tele-medicine network in various states and regions to provide access to specialized health care facilities to remote rural areas. Minister of State in the PMO, V Narayanasamy, said that at present, the tele-medicine network of ISRO covers 382 hospitals with 60 specialty hospitals connecting to 306 rural hospitals and 16 mobile units.



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