Somewhere in Srinagar....

Summer in all its splendour!

Somewhere in Chennai....

Tata Motors rolls out World Truck

India's largest automobile company by size Tata Motors launched a new range of premium trucks called the ‘World Truck’, which is expected to give its commercial vehicles business a much-needed push. At present, Mercedes and Volvo are in the higher end truck segment. The product has been jointly developed by Tata Motors and its two subsidiaries — Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle Company in South Korea and the Tata Motors European Technical Centre in the UK. The auto major has made an investment of Rs 1,000 crore in developing the world truck. The new trucks will have a capacity that ranges from 10 to 75 tons and is expected to be priced at a premium compared to its current range. “This is meant to be for transforming the way we do trucking in the country,” said Prakash Telang, executive director for Tata’s commercial vehicles business. The company will not immediately phase out the current range of trucks. It is believed that at a later stage, the company may also export the World Trucks to other countries. The range of trucks includes multi-axle trucks, tractor-trailers, tippers, mixers, and special application vehicles. “Besides India, we will also gradually be introducing (World Trucks) in South Korea, South Africa, the SAARC countries and the Middle East,” the company said in a statement. This move to introduce new range of trucks is viewed as the company’s attempt to transform itself into a global auto power. Tata Motors in April sold 37,462 vehicles in India and exported 1,261 units. Menawhile the the Tata Motors is negotiating with the Jharkhand government to acquire 300 acres of land to set up a vendor park on the lines of the one in Pantnagar (Uttar Pradesh). Such a facility would help vendors keep their operational costs low.

Goan feni gets GI tag

Goa's humble feni, that comes under the category of “country liquor”, is now joining the ranks of Darjeeling Tea, Mysore Sandalwood and Scotch Whiskey. The cashew brew has been assigned a Geographical Indication Certificate, from the GI Registry in Chennai, making it the first such alcoholic beverage in the country to get the honour. With this, the product can be registered internationally, and only Goa will have the right to produce Feni. The GI certificate currently assigned to Feni is valid for 10 years. “We have received the GI Certificate for Feni. This is the first major step for claiming international registration,” Michael D’souza, director for department of science & technology, Government of Goa said. GI certificate lends authenticity on the unique properties a region could offer to a product, such as the weather and water that could not be replicated in any other part of the world. A prerequisite for getting a product registered internationally is registration under the local rules of GI Act. Mac Vaz, president of Goa Cashew Fertilizers and Distillers Association, said Feni provides employment directly and indirectly to about 40,000 people in the state and therefore an integral part of Goa’s economy. Though many African countries brew spirit from cashew fruit, the Goan Feni is qualitatively much superior, largely due to the uniqueness of the state’s weather and the production process that makes it a class apart from the cashew based spirit made in other parts of the world. Apart from the nature of the cashew apple, what makes the Goan Feni unique is the traditional method through which it is brewed. Called Postal method, it essentially involves a three tier distillation process. Goa makes Feni from coconut palms too, by distilling the toddy collected from the sap of coconut trees. However, the GI registration sought and received is only for cashew Feni.

India is the second largest CDMA market

India has become only the second country in the world to have more than 100 million CDMA-based (code division multiple access) mobile phone subscribers after the US, which has 157 million CDMA users. While India overtook China to become the second-largest CDMA market, the country’s leading service provider Reliance Communications (RCOM) has become the second-largest CDMA service provider behind the USA’s Verizon Wireless, the CDMA Development Group (CDG) said on Thursday. Tata Teleservices is ranked fourth in the list of top global players, behind China Telecom. It took CDMA, which competes with the GSM (global system of mobile communication) platform globally, six-anda-half years to reach the 100 million mark in India after being introduced in December 2002.GSM is much more popular, accounting for 80% of the global market, according to its promoter GSM Association. While there are 475 million CDMA users in the world, GSM standard is being used by over three billion people. In India, the GSM user base is close to 300 million. CDG executive director Perry LaForge attributed the rapid growth of CDMA users in India to a wide selection of affordable devices and technologies offering CDMA voice and data services in urban and rural areas. “CDMA allows a rich telecom experience, especially on the data side, and we are confident that experience will only get better, especially as 3G arrives and we are able to unleash the full potential of applications and services,” Tata Tele MD Anil Sardana said.

Bharti Wal-Mart opens first store

Bharti Wal-Mart, an equal joint venture between world’s largest retailer Wal Mart and the Bharti Group that owns India’s largest telecom company by sales, on Saturday said its first Indian cash-and-carry store will give up to 25% discount over the local wholesale market. With this, Wal Mart becomes the second foreign retailer after Germany’s Metro to start cash-and-carry operations in India. UK retailer Tesco’s and France’s Carrefour are also planning to set up wholesale stores in India. Government policy currently bars foreign companies from setting up retail chains in India. Bharti Wal Mart will sell cereals 2-5% cheaper, daily household products 10% cheaper, and higher-margin apparel and general merchandise 25% cheaper. At the inuguration of its Amritsar-based store, that cost over $6-7 million, excluding real estate expenses, the company didn’t specify by when the store would break even. “We are not worried about profitability now. We are focused on serving cheap products to our customers. If we can have satisfied customers, profits will flow in,” said Bharti Wal-Mart CEO Raj Jain. “There is a crying need for cash-and-carry business in India,” Bharti Enterprises MD Rajan Mittal said. Retailers can choose from 3,000 stock keeping units (SKU) in the Bharti Wal-Mart store compared to 700 SKUs in a typical wholesale store, he added. The 50,000-sq-ft Amritsar store has already got 30,000 kirana stores, hotels, restaurants, and offices signed up as members out of a potential 75,000 members in 25-km radius, Mittal said. The company has 800 suppliers, of which 80% are from Punjab. The store employs 200 people, including 60 from the company’s retail training school in the city. The company plans to roll out 15 such stores over three years in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

Somewhere in Kolkata....

After half a century, the Ambassador’s monopoly on the metered taxi market in Kolkata has ended. You will soon see sleek Wagon-Rs and Tata Indigos in the yellow-and-blue combo. The transport department has already issued the notification for permitting 1,000 vehicles of both makes (petrol and LPG versions of Wagon-R and diesel Indigos). The move comes in the wake of a Calcutta High Court order to phase out commercial vehicles more than 15 years old. Though the March 31 scrap deadline is over and 6,300 old Amby cabs continue to ply in the city, the government order will pave the way for a modern taxi fleet. Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors have offered a subsidy of Rs 20,000 to cab owners to match the one given by Hindustan Motors (HM) for Ambys. “If the response is good, we will consider allowing more Wagon-Rs and Indigos,” a transport department official said. Till now, the department has steadfastly sheltered the antiquated Ambys and prevented competition from modern cars despite repeated pleas by carmakers. Other cities have long dumped the Amby taxis. Taxi associations, while welcoming the move, want LPG Maruti Omni and diesel Indica to be allowed as well. “Omni is spacious and much cheaper,” said Calcutta Taxi Association secretary Tarak Nath Bari. Some years ago, a couple of Omni taxis were allowed but permission was quickly withdrawn. Transport secretary Sumantra Chowdhury claimed the vehicle was ‘unsafe’ but taxi associations allege there was pressure from HM. Little has changed in terms of ride comfort since Amby taxis were introduced in 1958. The fare has increased from 8 annas a kilometre to Rs 10/km. But the ride is still as bumpy.

Graphic warning implemented

The anti-tobacco movement gets a shot in the arm with the enforcement of graphic warnings on tobacco packs from today.

Per Capita income

For the first time, the per capita monthly income of an average Indian has crossed the Rs 3,000-mark on current price levels because of economic reforms and a high growth rate of above 9% achieved for three years since 2005-06. The per capita income, a measure of average income of a citizen, went up 12.2% to Rs 37,490 per annum during 2008-09, said the advance estimate for national income released by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) on Friday. During 2007-08, the per capita income was Rs 33,283 per annum. However, the per capita figures may look a bit less impressive when adjusted for inflation. The CSO estimates showed that when adjusted for inflation, the per capital income reached only Rs 25,494 against Rs 25,661 per annum estimated in February. Clearly, the slowdown in economy has taken money out of everyone’s pockets. Analysts also said the election spend in the March quarter could have helped tweak the figures up a bit. The real cause for worry for the government would come from the manufacturing sector, which continued to be hammered, registering a contraction of 1.4% after having clocked 0.9% growth in previous three quarters. For the UPA, keen to play the aam aadmi beat in celebration of its resounding victory at elections, the task seems to be cut out. With the WPI-based inflation data stabilising prices, global recessions seems to be corroding the financial ability of the poorest section. The upward movement in agriculture noted in the CSO surely seemed to have helped UPA in the elections. Farm production rose at an annualised rate of 2.7% in the first three months of 2009 after having shrunk by 0.8% in the previous quarter. But the government’s eyes would be set at the southern skies for the movement of monsoon. The per capita income would have been higher but for the global economic crisis, which pulled down the country’s economic growth during 2008-09 to 6.7% from 9% in the previous fiscal. The national income during the year went up to Rs 43.26 lakh crore, showing a rise of 14.2%, while the population of the country increased by 1.6 crore to 115.4 crore. The CSO data further says that the national income at 1999-2000 prices increased by 6.4% to Rs 29.42 lakh crore during 2008-09.

Steps discussed to make Jaipur world-class

The Rajasthan government on Saturday took what it claimed to be a first step to develop the state capital as a world-class city in a review meeting of the urban development and housing department. The meeting proposed facilitating satellite towns around Jaipur on lines of the national capital region, improving vehicle parking conditions and developing Mount Abu as the best hill station in the country. The ambitious project of international convention centre was also approved by chief minister Ashok Gehlot and discussions were held over the proposed Ring Road, Ghat Ki Ghuni tunnel, BRTS and other infrastructure projects. The need was also expressed to develop flyovers and railway overbridges (ROBs) to smoothen city traffic flow. Following the decision, the projects for extension of Bais Godaam ROB and construction of various proposed flyovers in the city have been strengthened. To enhance public participation in development projects, CM proposed to ascertain opinion of local residents before finalizing development plans. This has been proposed to minimize public resentment over displacement caused by development projects. The housing board department officials have also been instructed to prepare work plans for construction of affordable houses. As a major endowment to Mount Abu it was decided that the hill-top town shall be developed as “the best hill station” in the country. This would call for phased development of various tourist locations at Mount Abu and nearby areas. The development department officials have been reportedly asked to submit a plan in 30 days.

BSY completes a year

...and half the pages in the newspapers are filled with advertisements proclaiming his success....

Happy Birthday Deccan Queen !

The Deccan Queen started 79 years ago, on June 1, 1930. It was the first deluxe train introduced on the Railways . It had 7 coaches; one rake was painted aluminium with scarlet mouldings, and the other blue with gold lines. The under-frames of the coaches of the original rake were built in England. The coach bodies were built at the Matunga Workshop. A new rake, was pressed into service in 1966, and updated again in 1995. A single journey first-class fare in 1930 was Rs 11 and 4 annas. Today, a one-way fare is Rs 267 (AC chair-car).


Ganga Expressway hits roadblock

The Allahabad High Court on Friday restrained the Uttar Pradesh government from proceeding on the Rs 40k-crore Ganga Expressway project and directed it to first obtain an environmental clearanceRs 40,000-crore . Delivering the judgment, the division bench said, "The state government must not proceed with the eight-lane highway project unless and until it obtains a due clearance from the statelevel environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA)" in accordance with law. The court quashed a clearance certificate of the SEIAA dated 23.08. 2007, produced by the state government, saying the same had not been obtained "in accordance with the law". The expressway is slated to provide high-speed direct connectivity from Ballia on the eastern-most fringes of the state to Greater Noida on the west.
Though the order does not stay the project, per se, the fact that work on it would be halted until a fresh NOC is obtained from the environmental ministry, will definitely act as a dampener for the BSP government, which is already reeling under the impact of the recently held Lok Sabha elections and thereafter the blow of the Supreme Court order regarding the reinstatment of 18,000 police constables appointed by the previous government.
It maybe mentioned that the expressway, which would be cutting across 18 districts in the state,was awarded to the Jaypee group in February 2008, is to be built via the public-private-partnership (PPP) model and is expected to reduce the travel time from Ballia to the national capital to eight hours.
Ever since the concept of the expressway was mooted by the Mayawati government, it has been maintaining that the proposed land-parcels, to be given to the developer for development, would largely comprise infertile and barren land. Besides, it has also claimed that almost 60% of the entire area is flood prone, which creates havoc to the resource-starved population. Land parcels along the mega project would accentuate and add value to the produce of farmers and also leverage the process of economic development through establishment of industrial and residential areas, particularly in th eastern and central parts of the state the government had stated.

GDP growth pegged at 6.7%

6.7% is the weakest GDP growth in the last six years, and way below the 9% recorded in 2007-08, it is still seen as healthy in light of the global crisis that has crimped exports as also domestic demand. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, GDP grew at 5.8% in the last quarter of 2008-09, which was widely expected to register a sharp slowdown. The data raised hopes the Indian economy could be already on the uptick, with fears of further contraction in the global economy fading and domestic demand showing resilience. Economists still believe RBI may cut policy rates by another 50 basis points. Commerce & industry minister Anand Sharma said on Friday that there are signs of industrial revival. RBI has pegged this year’s growth at 6%. After the release of Friday’s data, three banks—Morgan Stanley, Nomura and Kotak Mahindra Bank—revised upward their GDP forecasts for 2009-10 from below 5% to 6% or more.
Economists believe India would benefit substantially in terms of capital inflows as the pace of contraction in the world economy slows and investors look for returns.

The UPA II Cabinet

A list of Cabinet and junior ministers:
HOME :P CHIDAMBARAM ■ Ajay Maken ■ Mullappally Ramachandran
FINANCE :PRANAB MUKHERJEE ■ Namo Narain Meena ■ S S Palanimanickam
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS :S M KRISHNA ■ Preneet Kaur ■ Shashi Tharoor
RURAL DEVELOPMENT, PANCHAYATI RAJ (Additional charge) : C P JOSHI ■ Sisir Adhikari ■ Agatha Sangma ■ Pradeep Jain
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOG AND EARTH SCIENCES : PRITHVIRAJ CHAVAN *Also MoS in Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, and Parliamentary Affairs

UP proposes international airport for Kushinagar

With the proposal for an international airport at Jewar having been shot down by the Government of India, the Uttar Pradesh government has now proposed an international airport at the Buddhist destination of Kushinagar. “Apart from boosting tourism in the state as many domestic and foreign tourists visit the Buddhist circuit, the airport will ensure development to the area, besides generating employment in the eastern part of the state,” said Principal Secretary, Tourism, Avneesh Awasthi.
Recently, a group of senior officials of the department of tourism, civil aviation, irrigation, revenue, PWD and Special Area Development Authority visited Kushinagar to inspect the proposed site of the airport. The government is ready with an initial Project Definition Report. To prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR), it has hired a Mumbai-based consultancy company, ILFS Infrastructure and Development Corporation or IIDC. The DPR is expected to be ready shortly and will be presented to the Government of India next month. Since the approximate cost of the airport is Rs 600 crore, the state Government has decided to go in for public-private partnership for construction of the airport, for which technical bids would be invited next month.
“The problem with Jewar airport was its proximity to Indira Gandhi International Airport, which is not the case with Kushinagar,” said Awasthi. Kushinagar already has an airstrip at Kasia, five kilometres from the city and 51 kilometres from Gorakhpur aerodrome. The existing airstrip is 1,750 metres whereas for an international airport 3,300 to 4,000 metres long runway is needed for operations of Boeings.
The Buddhist circuit in cludes places like Sarnath Kushinagar, Sankisa Kaushambi, Shravasti and Kapilvastu which are visited by tourists from countries like Japan, Myanmar, Korea China, Taiwan, Thailand Bhutan and Sri Lanka. Last year, 41,000 foreign tourists visited Kushinaga area and the government ex pects the number to go up two lakh once the airport comes into existence. “We will ask the construction agency to take up not just the airport work but complete development of the area. Besides, a high-speed road between Kushinagar and Gorakhpur is proposed to connect it with the division headquarter,” a governmen official explained.
He added that the Buddhist tourist circuit has immense potential which remained un explored due to the lack of infrastructure facilities, which would undergo a sea change once the international airport comes up.

Bombardier India snippets

On June 5, 2009, Candian transportation and aviation major Bombardier Inc.'s Indian unit will roll out the first metro car from Savli, a small town in Vadodara district.The metro car (coach) has been built for the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). This will be the first train made by a private company in India.
If all goes well, the metro rail built in Gujarat will be commissioned in Delhi in a couple of months. Bombardier is building a dedicated broad-gauge rail line at Savli unit so that the metro cars being built here can be transported via broad-gauge. The first metro is likely to be transported to Delhi by road as the broad gauge is still under construction at the Bombardier unit.
Bombardier has been able to set up the unit and deliver the first metro car in a record time. “We are happy to bring world class technology to India in a record time. We will now be handing over the metro car to DMRC. It is because of them that this project was developed and finally brought to India,” said Rajeev Jyoti, MD, Bombardier India. Chief Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the state-of-the-art railway vehicle manufacturing facility at Savli in November 2008. Bombardier has 1.4 lakh square feet land at Savli. The company plans to manufacture railway vehicles for south Asian markets from its unit in Savli.

Mumbai Metro II snippets

Mumbai's second Metro line, held up by delays and poor planning, has finally got one bidder.
Of the seven consortiums that had qualified, only the one led by Reliance Infrastructure Ltd has placed a bid before the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
This came in after the short-listed players had requested repeated extensions of the deadline since December 2008. Reliance Infrastructure has teamed up with Canada-based SNC Lavlin to bid for the Rs 8,250-crore line along the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd corridor. “They have quoted a viability gap fund of Rs 2,298 crore. This is a very vital step after delays in submission, mainly due to the global slowdown,” said Ratnakar Gaikwad, Metropolitan Commissioner.
He described the bid as a “reasonable” one and said the MMRDA will take a final call within a month. Reliance Infrastructure has already bagged the contract for the first Metro corridor along the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar stretch. The 11.7-km corridor is expected to be commissioned by July 2010.
MMRDA sources say the break-up of the public-private-partnership model would see Reliance Infrastructure spending Rs 5,952 crore, the Centre providing a viability gap fund of Rs 1,532 crore and the implementing agency provid ing the remaining Rs 766 crore. Some sources, however, say the Reliance Industries-led consortium did not submit the bid though officials had gone to the MMRDA headquarters on the Bandra-Kurla Complex.The other players in the fray for the 32 km corridor were the Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries with Siemens and Gammon, GE India-L&T-CA-IDPL, Tata Power-Mitsubishi-Tata Realty’s Pioneer Infrastructure, GVK Bombardier-YTL, IL&FS Soma Constructions-Punj Lloyd, and Essar-Alstom.


GDP & bank interest rates snapshotz

GDP figures and interest rates.

Somewhere in Bhopal....

A man walks across Upper Lake, Asia's largest artificial lake in Bhopal .Built by Raja Bhoj during his tenure as a king of Malwa (1005-1055), the lake is now completely dry due to a lack of rains for the past three years .

Somewhere in Tamil Nadu....

Torrid summer and the dry forest tracts in Tamil Nadu continue to take their toll on the wildlife with yet another elephant dying in the Erode forest region on Wednesday. It is the fifth elephant death in the region since December. A female elephant, about 20 years old, collapsed near the Varathupallam dam in the Andhiyur jungles of the Erode Forest division on Tuesday morning. A veterinary team rushed to examine the elephant and suspected it might be suffering from heat fatigue and severe worm infection caused due to drinking contaminated water. About 20 bottles of glucose were given to the elephant which was battling for life. After a day’s struggle, the elephant died on Wednesday morning. During summer, wildlife, especially elephants, from Thepakkadu in Mudumalai move towards Mettupalayam, Bhavanisagar, Sathyamangalam and Erode before reaching Karnataka forests in search of water and fodder. Usually, elephant herds traverse within a migratory area, ranging between 70 sqkm and 500 sqkm, every year. As the green cover and the water holes in the forests have gone dry, elephants are forced to drink slushy and worm-infested water. Often, sewage from the human habitations along the river course contaminates the water holes, say wildlife activists. In the last six months, at least five elephants have died due to severe heat conditions and suspected worm infections. Wildlife activists call for a comprehensive study on the "source" of infections caused to the elephants. "It is an alarming trend. For, more elephants die during summer due to infections than poaching now. Last year, at least 10 elephants died in the Sathyamangalam, Erode and Coimbatore forest divisions due to suspected worm infections and heat conditions.

Deccan 360 takes off

India’s first cargo airline to launch international freight operations was flagged off on Wednesday from IGI Airport Cargo Terminal. This is yet another brainchild of Capt G R Gopinath, the man who revolutionalized low cost travel in India. Called Deccan 360, the first plane, an A-310, took off from Delhi for Hong Kong, the world’s second largest cargo hub. It was flagged off by Dr Naseem Zaidi, director general of civil aviation. Two more A-310s, each capable of carrying 35 tonnes of cargo, will be inducted soon and by September, six ATR42 planes will be added to the fleet. Gopinath said the airline was born out of the frustrations he encountered while he was in Air Deccan, India’s first budget airline. ‘‘The logistics supply chain would often make us lose valuable time and money. Many companies go to six-seven such companies to transport vital airline spares such as tyres and engines across the country.’’ At present, India has seven cargo planes with a combined capacity of just 120 tonnes, as compared to China’s 100 dedicated cargo planes, he says.

Power packed 100 days

Starting on a good note....hope building infrastructure takes off in the next five years.

The Manmohan Team

Dr.Manmohan Singh completes the process of Cabinet formation.


The making of the UPA II Union Cabinet

The Union Cabinet will finally be expanded tomorrow morning.

Reviving Bangalore's Lakes

12 lakes at one shot....pretty good going BDA.

Hungry Aila tide swallows Sunderban tigers

It’s not just residents of Kolkata who bore the brunt of Cyclone Aila. Forest wardens fear that as the cyclone tore through the Sunderbans flooding the mangrove forests, it may have killed more than a dozen of the highly endangered Bengal tigers. As the human toll from Monday’s cyclone rose to 64, beat officers and range officials in the Sunderbans feared hundreds of herbivores and at least a dozen tigers might have been swept away by the giant waves that lashed the forests. While a tiger had sneaked into the Jamespur village wading through the flood waters and was tranquillised early on Tuesday morning, 20 crocodiles and two spotted deer were found dead. The full extent of damage will be known only after an assessment by forest teams. As per the last census, the Sunderbans had 265 tigers. Pintu Mirdha of Jamespur got the shock of his life when he spotted a male tiger crouching in his waterlogged cowshed. Mirdha managed to shut the cowshed door and informed the forest department. But forest guards had to wait for the water to recede to get close to the animal. At around 1pm, when the water level went down during low tide, the male tiger was tranquillised. “It swam into the village that was left flooded after the cyclone. Since most villagers weren’t present in the submerged huts, no one noticed the animal,” said Subrat Mukherjee, field director, Sunderban Tiger Reserve. “A storm like this has never hit the Sunderbans in the last three decades. Going by the extent of damage to the villages, the state of the forest could be terrible. Forests remained under eight feet of water till late Tuesday afternoon. Immediately after Aila hit, it had gone up to 20 feet,” said Mrinal Chattopadhyay of the Institute of Climbers and Nature Lovers. “Even if tigers manage to swim to higher grounds, deer and wild boars must have been swept away,’’ he said. Wardens fear that the lack of prey will kill tigers even if the waves haven’t. But some forest officials were cautious. ‘‘We shall study the damage once the water level goes down,’’ said Subhendu Bandopadhyay, divisional forest officer, South 24-Parganas. Beat wardens, however, said no assessment would be possible until the waters recede and that could take weeks. By that time many carcasses would have disintegrated.

India 2050 ?

Intel's advertisement...shape of things to come?

MUTP Snapshotz

Western Railway plans on starting 15-coach locals.Probably the longest local trains in the world.

Of Death and Birth anniversaries....

Today is the death anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru while it is also the birth anniversay of Maharana Pratap.

Pune - Sholapur to get quicker

In three years, Puneiites will be able to reach Solapur in two hours flat or even less, thanks to the agreement signed between the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Pune Solapur Expressway Pvt Ltd — a Special Purpose Vehicle floated by Tata group’s Navinya Buildcon Pvt Ltd and Italian group Atlantia SpA. The Rs 1,100-crore project plans to convert the existing ‘two-lane, undivided’ Solapur highway into a ‘four-lane divided carriageway’.
The speed limit on the new highway will be 100 km per hour. The MoU, which was signed on May 19, is only concerned with the 40 km mark to to 144 km mark on the highway and is the first phase of the project till Indapur.It will reduce the time taken to travel towards Solapur, especially the time taken from Pune to Daund and Pune to Baramati.“It is a Memorandum of Understanding for Rs 1,100 crore where the government grant is Rs 299 crore; the Navinya Buildcon Pvt Ltd will raise the rest of the amount. It is a contract for 21 years, which includes the three-year construction period.They will be able to collect the toll tax for 17 years,” said A P S Sethi, NHAI Chief General Manager.
According to sources, the project was, however, now pegged higher at Rs 1,400 crore because of cost escalation.The initial cost was estimated in 2005. The existing Solapur high way is a two-lane undivided lane with no median. The new highway will be a divided four-lane highway which will be a part of the National Highway-9 be tween Mumbai and Hyderabad. The earmarked stretch will have 7-8 grade separators that will include flyovers or underpasses.Unlike an expressway, this NH9 stretch will only have partial access control; which means vehicles will be able to join the highway at various points.
Although the average speed of vehicles, once the road comes up, will be higher, the four-lane highway, being broader, is also expected to reduce the number of accidents on the Solapur highway, which has been an accident-prone area.“It should reduce congestion; at present many sugar cane tractors ply on the high way and end up causing traffic jams. These vehicles would use the service roads after the highway is built,” said Ram Mishra, Projec Director, Nashik for NHAI. Meanwhile, NHAI is also working on converting the Pune-Kolhapur highway from four lanes to six lanes.“We have to call for tenders. It will take a few months,” Sethi said.


Somewhere in Jamnagar....

This handout photograph released by the IAF shows a newly delivered Il-76 Awacs (airborne warning and control system) aircraft landing at Jamnagar airbase.

Cyclone Aila

The name — Aila — that was on everyone’s lips denoted fire. The name was coined by Met officials of the Maldives. The storms that trigger cyclones in the North Indian Ocean zone are named by members of eight South Asian countries which are member of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The member countries are India, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The list of names of for cyclones that originate in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal are decided well in advance by WMO members, said Met officials. There is a procedure to name the cyclones in an ocean basin by the Tropical Cyclone Regional Body responsible for that basin. Normally the names of cyclones that are decided need to be short and readily understood when it is broadcast. The names must not be culturally sensitive. Moreover, the names of storms are not repeated, as they are associated with death and destruction. All storms are named in turn by the member nations.
Similarly, the storms of the future already have names: Phyan is named by Myanmar and Ward by Oman, while Laila is a Pakistani name, which would be followed by Bandu (Sri Lanka) and Phet (Thailand).

An Emerging Giant ?

Will the Bharti - MTN merger go through this time around?

The Arjun Main Battle Tank snippets

With the delivery of 16 Arjun tanks, the Army was equipped with the first armoured regiment of the indigenously built Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), the development of which took 35 years. Arjun tanks have good mobility and firepower, specially suited for the Indian desert. Of the total of 124 Arjun tanks to be delivered to the Army by March next year, Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has with this latest batch already handed over 45 MBTs in three phases. The tanks, with advance technology and capacity to fire in the range of 3-4 km, have been built at DRDO’s Avadi-based Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment. The six-speed MBT is fitted with a 1,400 HP engine and can notch up to 70km/hour of speed and climb on a surface with 30 degree gradient. The manufacture of 124 armoured vehicles is expected to cost Rs 1,760 crore. The Arjun regiment will be subjected to a conversion training and field practice for a period of three months before a comparative trial with T-90 tanks, sometime in October 2009, to assess the operational deployment role. Initially, 12 prototypes were developed during 1983 to 1990 and they were subjected to field trials of more than 20,000 km. Based on user feedback, 15 pre-production vehicles were developed between 1990 and 1995 and they were subjected to field trials of more than 70,000 km and 8,000 rounds.

Six months on....

It's been six months since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.Most of us have forgotten already...

More Berth Pangs ?

Forget the allies , more demands on the UPA...The Union Cabinet should have ministers based on merit.


Somewhere in New Delhi....

The DMK fiasco seems sorted out..The expansion of the Union Cabinet is slated for tomorrow.