Somewhere in Maharashtra....

The brutal picture of the tiger that was poached sometime ago at Tadoba. What a shocker !!
Nothing less than shoot at sight for the poachers would did this.....

Bollywood biz

Chennai Airport snapshot

Indian Railways

Delhi Monorail snippets

Monorails may act as feeders for the Delhi Metro in the future, the Delhi government has hinted.
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announced about 14 corridors of the monorail will be constructed in Delhi in another eight to 10 years. She also said that monorail would provide last mile connectivity to Metro commuters.
According to government sources, the state government might plan to reduce the 115 km length phase 4 of Delhi Metro, or even replace it with new corridors of monorails in the city to provide last-mile connectivity to residential colonies.
The Union urban development ministry gave the go ahead to the 11-km-long proposed monorail network connecting Shastri Park with Laxmi Nagar via Trilokpuri and asked the Delhi government to provide all possible help.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) will look after the construction and commissioning of the network.
The Delhi government plans to invite international tenders for the project after finalisation of a detailed project report in the next three months.
The chief minister, however, did not comment on whether DMRC would be given the task of construction and commissioning the new monorail corridors.
The government is also considering extending the approved monorail network to Delhi University, Kashmere Gate and Chandni Chowk so that students and traders can commute between both sides of Yamuna river.
The Delhi government will soon involve experts from Japan, Malaysia and Germany to conduct a feasibility study and prepare a comprehensive specialised report on the proposed monorail project, said Delhi government sources.
After completion of phase 3, Delhi Metro's network will be 392 km long.
The Metro extension project is already facing problems related to availability of land.

Pune's new airport update

The proposed international airport at Rajgurunagar in Pune district got a push as the state government  decided to set aside Rs 200 crore for the project as immediate allocation through supplementary demand in this year’s budget and Rs 600 crore in next year’s state budget. The estimated cost of the entire project is over Rs 1,000 crore.
District collector Vikas Deshmukh said the decision was taken during a meeting in Mumbai in the presence of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar.
Deshmukh said, “The project is proposed in Pait, Koye, Dhamne, Askhed Budruk, Roundarwadi villages. Officials of the Airport Authority of India had conducted a survey of the proposed site and had recommended that additional land could be required in the eastern part for runways. Based on these observations, instructions are being issued to conduct a re-survey of the eastern part of the proposed site to identify the land. The survey will be executed by revenue officials and the Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation.”
Deshmukh further said that about 1,650 hectare land has been identified for the project. The acquisition of land would be done as per the MIDC law, which would help offer better compensation to affected people.
The state government had earlier identified land in the Chakan area for the international airport. However, the entire project was shifted to Rajgurunagar because of stiff opposition from the local people there.

Uranium Deposits found

Large deposits of uranium have been discovered in Sikar district of mineral-rich Rajasthan giving a new fillip to the country’s nuclear power generation.
The initial estimates peg the uranium ore deposits at Rohil Central at 5,185 tonnes. Though the deposits are of low grade, the size of the deposits are considered to be significant and the fourth largest in the country after Tummalapalle, Chitrial and Peddagattu extension in Andhra Pradesh.
The adjoining Rohil North region has 381 tonnes of uranium ore.
Atomic Energy Commission chairman R K Sinha said the department was investing heavily on exploration of uranium across the country and had augmented its reserves by 50% in the 11th Plan period.
As of June this year, the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research has established 1.84 lakh tonnes of uranium ore resources across the country.
The Uranium Corporation of India Limited has mining operations at Bagjata, Jaduguda, Bhatin, Narwapahar,
Mohuldih, Tummalapalle, Turamdih underground mines and Banduhurang open cast mines. It also runs two processing plants at Jaduguda and Turamdih.
At present, India operates 20 nuclear power plants at six sites across the country which have the capacity to generate 4,780 megawatt of electricity. Of the 20 nuclear power plants in operation, 10 use imported uranium while the rest use domestic fuel.

Articulated buses on Ahmedabad's BRTS

Technically called the ‘articulated bus’, these buses are 18-meter long and can seat 130 passengers. Each of these new BRTS caterpillar buses will cost close to Rs 1.2 crore.
In the next two weeks, the special 11-member committee on ‘Urban Bus’ of the union urban development ministry will come out with a detailed specifications for these buses. There are articulated buses running in Chennai, but they are not fit to run on BRTS corridor.
Though Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited (AJL) had sought Expression of Interest (EOI) from bus manufacturers globally, two companies Corona bus and Chartered bus had responded. These EOIs have been set aside as the AJL is expecting a standard bus design from the union ministry of urban development.
 A senior AJL official said: “The special committee will come up with a standard bus design specification for all cities in two weeks. We’re waiting for the standard caterpillar bus specifications from the Union ministry and then we will prepare a fresh tender again asking for the new EOI.”
Sources say that the standard bus design involves 900mm height and would cost Rs 1.2 crore per bus. “At present, we would want just two buses and would run them during peak hours. Literally, no one makes 900mm articulated buses. The designs that we received were of 800 mm and 650mm height. This was not feasible for our BRTS corridor.

Patnaik undergoes angioplasty

Exactly a week after his transfer from the city police commissioner’s office, Arup Patnaik suffered a heart attack and was rushed to Jaslok Hospital, Pedder Road. Patnaik, who is now a director general of police, underwent an emergency angioplasty and was reportedly doing well.
“He came with 100% blockage in the right coronary artery. It was fixed with a stent and he will be discharged within the next four days,” said hospital authorities.
It is learnt that Patnaik had a history of heart disease, having suffered a minor episode a few years ago. He has apparently given strict instructions against any information being leaked about his condition and also forbidden visitors. Patnaik’s stint as the top cop of Mumbai ended abruptly last week after he drew criticism, which many called unfair, for the handling of the August 11 riots.

The Trickle Down Theory @ work


• In 2011-12, total rural consumption was 12.9 lakh crore, against urban figure of 10.44 lakh cr

• Between 2010-11 and 2011-12, rural consumption grew at 19%, urban at 17%

• 27% of rural household benefited from NREGA

• About 1 out of every 2 rural households in India has a mobile phone

• More than 50% of country’s TVs, fans, mobiles and 2-wheelers are in rural areas Trickle-down theory at work in last two years

Given the large size of India’s rural population, the absolute value of goods and services consumed in this segment of the economy has always been higher and continues to do so. However, urban India has narrowed the differential during most of the last decade by growing at a faster pace, mainly after the economic liberalization process which started in 1991.
Interestingly, the NSSO data revealed that about 70% of total income of the labour force in the urban sector—most of which comprises migrants from villages—is remitted to their homes, thus adding to the overall spending capacity of the rural household.
The last two years, however, showed a reversal in the trend which could be seen as another testimony of the trickle-down theory of development economics.
Data shows that in 2004-05, the aggregate value of rural consumption was Rs 5.22 lakh crore, or about 57% of the country’s total consumption spend of Rs 9.15 lakh crore. By 2009-10, this had fallen to 55.2% and then again, by 2011-12, it rose marginally to 55.3%.
NREGA, introduced in 2006 and extended to all of rural India in 2008, and the government’s other social sector schemes fuelled job creation at an unprecedented scale and provided an opportunity to rural households to supplement their traditional farm income, the report noted. Nearly 27% of rural households availed employment under (NREGA) in 2009-10. This scheme, which is linked to retail inflation (that is CPI, or consumer price index), is also fuelling inflation in the country. However, the main reason why the inflation remains at an elevated level is the supply constraints in the economy.
For example, in India the demand for pulses, the main source of proteins, is rising at a much faster clip than the rise in total production of these food items. However, low productivity level for protein-rich foods and thus lower returns to farmers compared to returns from cultivating rice and cereals is forcing them to continue farming rice and cereals. This is contributing to inflation for retail consumers.

Naroda Patia case judgement

A special court in Ahmedabad has convicted a former minister in NaMo's government of murder in the biggest post-Godhra communal massacre at Naroda Patia.
The court held 32 people guilty for the massacre, including the ex-minister, MLA and gynaecologist Dr Maya Kodnani, and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, saying the killings were a part of a pre-planned conspiracy. This is the largest number of people convicted in a single 2002 riots case and comes as Gujarat prepares to go into the run-up for the December assembly election.
This is also the sixth 2002 case investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), which has seen convictions.
All the convicts have been charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, rioting, arson, attempt to murder, unlawful assembly, insulting religious sentiments by targeting religious places and fanning communal hatred.
The court also convicted three persons—Suresh Didawala, Manubhai Maruda and Mukesh Rathod alias Vakil—of gang rape. This is only the second post-Godhra case in which rape charges have been proved, the first being the Bilkis Bano case.

Dr Maya Kodnani is a BJP MLA since 1998 and was minister of state for women and child development in 2009 when arrested. Soon after the verdict, she broke down and said she was a victim of politics. The Gujarat government distanced itself from Kodnani saying an MLA is not a govt functionary, nor was Kodnani a minister when the incident took place
BJP plays down verdict:

On February 28, 2002, 97 Muslims, including 36 children and 35 women, were killed after 59 people, mostly kar sevaks, were burned alive in the Sabarmati Express carnage at Godhra a day earlier.
Delivering the verdict, additional principal judge Jyotsna Yagnik acquitted 29 others, giving them the benefit of doubt. The quantum of punishment is likely to be declared on Friday.
The trial began in August 2009 and charges were framed against 62 people, while one accused died during the course of trial.
The judgment runs into 1,927 pages. The judge heard the case for 37 months and the prosecution examined 327 witnesses comprising eyewitnesses, victims, doctors, police personnel, government officials and forensic experts. Journalist Ashish Khetan, who conducted a TV sting operation on the accused, was also examined by the court.
The Gujarat police had arrested 46 people initially, whereas 24 more people were apprehended after the probe was handed over to the SIT in 2008. The court rejected victims’ plea to arraign top cops and kept its order on demand of compensation on Friday.

Three-term Naroda MLA Maya Kodnani gets 28 years in jail — 10 years for voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons and 18 years’ life imprisonment.
First woman and MLA to be convicted in post-Godhra riots case
Kodnani convicted for criminal conspiracy as well, disproving Modi’s claim that the riots were spontaneous
and the ruling BJP had nothing to do with it
Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi gets imprisonment till death; 22 to serve 14-year terms; 7 to serve 21 years

Coal block allocations

About 53 captive coal block allocations face trouble for not sticking to the government's timeline to start production. “In the terms and conditions of the allocation letters, it is categorically mentioned that in the event of willful delay in the development of coal blocks and in setting up of end-use projects, the government will take appropriate action to de-allocate the blocks,” a top coal ministry official said.
Any cancellation at a time when the opposition has stalled Parliament and is hammering the PM and other Congress leaders over the CAG report could be cited by the government to counter charges of corruption and crony-capitalism. An inter-ministerial group of officials, set up in June to monitor the progress of captive coal mines is likely to meet next week to examine the promoters’ side of the story and recommend the course of action.
“The coal ministry had served notice for de-allocation on the ground of delays in developing them. The replies from the allottees have been under scrutiny for some three months. The inter-ministerial group has held two meetings. Another meeting is likely next week and the final decision may be known only then,” the top coal ministry official said.
Industry sources said there were cases where companies may have failed to move on developing the blocks. They, however, said there were several cases where the companies were hamstrung by delays in environmental and other clearances or law and order problems.

SC upholds Kasab's death sentence

The Supreme Court has sent 26/11 Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab to the gallows, finding him guilty of the Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people. Upholding the Bombay high court’s sentence on five counts, the apex court said the “enormity of the crime on all scales” left it with no other option.

The Bombay high court had on February 22, 2011 upheld the death term awarded to Kasab by a trial court.
Focusing on the evidence that pointed to 26/11 being hatched in Pakistan and executed by a 10-member team trained by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and C K Prasad said the conspiracy was vicious and ruthless. “In short, this is a case of terror from across the border. It has a magnitude of unprecedented enormity on all scales. The conspiracy was as deep and large as it was vicious. The preparation and training for the execution was as thorough as the execution was ruthless,” the SC said.
Refusing to show mercy to Kasab, the court said he behaved as if he was a patriot from Pakistan who was proud of what he had done. But the SC upheld the acquittal of alleged Indian plotters Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed.

What next?
Kasab can file a review petition which is mostly disposed of by judges in their chambers. He can seek clemency, from governor, then President


Of economic reforms....

The finance standing committee headed by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has offered a tempting window of opportunity over a shared reforms agenda that can revive a moribund economy.
The standing committee has urged the government to speed up pension reforms, insurance and banking bills saying these legislations can act as a tonic to pep up the sagging investment climate. The bills have been in limbo for long, not the least due to Congress ally Trinamool’s bitter opposition.
Even with BJP support, the task of bringing Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee around is not easy. But the committee’s ringing endorsement, apart from the dissent of the CPM and CPI members, points to a wide political consensus of reforms. Finance minister P Chidambaram can take heart from the committee’s views given that Sinha is often seen as a hardliner in BJP ranks and has been a leading critic of Chidambaram’s alleged role in the 2G scam. However, Sinha’s prescriptions on the economy should gladden the Centre.
Taking note of “doom and gloom” scenarios being bandied about, the draft report on “current economic situation and policy options” backs the Prevention of Money Laundering Amendment Bill, 2001, the Direct Tax Code and the Companies Bill. Taken together, the six measures can be seen as a significant booster to investment at a time when fiscal and current account deficits have turned the government’s balance sheet into a nightmare. “The committee recommends speeding up of policy reforms and removing investment hurdles,” the report said.
The committee has called for a coherent and effective disinvestment policy and a plan for a 10% reduction in non-plan expenditure. On monetary management, it highlighted a divide between the Reserve Bank of India and government. The central bank has pointed a finger at governance issues as “…(RBI) states that the fiscal part of the obligation is not being fulfilled by government,” the report said.

Churchgate - Virar elevated rail corridor

Western Railway’s elevated corridor may have 8-car services, instead of the planned 15-car, due to obstacles in land acquisition. The authorities feel that the shorter the train’s length, the less area will be required to build platforms.
An official explained that having 8-car services will not reduce the passenger carrying capacity. He said, “The frequency of 15-car services was to be three minutes, or 20 per hour. But the 8-car services will be every two minutes or 30 per hour.”
The railways are reworking the project’s finer points after the state government raised a red flag on its offer to allow commercial exploitation of its land parcels.
It has issued a modified project information report, in which it has deleted land parcels at various spots in Mumbai Central, Mahalaxmi, Lower Parel, Bandra, Santa Cruz, Andheri, Jogeshwari and Borivli, whose cumulative area adds up to 1.32 square metres.
A railway official said, “After receiving feedback from interested parties, we are open to allowing multi-storey towers above station premises, which will substantially help generate funds for the project worth Rs 21,000 crore at present cost. After this option is utilized, we can think of offering land from our parcels.”
An alternative alignment has been proposed after a joint visit of WR’s general manager Mahesh Kumar and state chief secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia recently. At Vile Parle, where there is a paucity of land, the railways are considering to take the project underground, or build it at a height of five metres from ground level. This is being done to ensure that the elevated tracks do not come in the path of the airport funnel.
The possibility of a change in alignment between Malad and Borivli to reduce the requirement of acquisition and razing of buildings is also being examined.
The state government may give the railways the right of way on roads adjoining railway tracks in these areas, a source said. The railways had planned to acquired 25 hectares on a 60km stretch between the Oval Maidan and Virar. Banthia said the rehabilitation approach should be litigation-free to avoid delays in project execution.

Worli - Sewri Connector snippets

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has decided to appoint a developer by the year-end to build a 4.5km elevated road from Sewri to Worli, near the end of the sea link, at a cost of about Rs.200 crore.
The road will be attached to the upcoming eastern freeway, between Princes Dock (towards Colaba) and Chembur. The Chembur end will eventually be connected to the Eastern Express highway in Ghatkopar and Mankhurd on the Sion-Panvel highway.
Similarly, the elevated road will have connectivity with the proposed sea link between Sewri and Nhava, also known as the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL). Connectivity will be through a rotary or cloverleaf structure, offering entry and exit towards all four ends: Worli, Chembur, Navi Mumbai and Colaba.
While the Pedder Road flyover is being opposed by South Mumbai residents and is yet to be approved by the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), the coastal road till Cuffe Parade will require amendments in the Environment Act itself. Permission for both is expected to take two to three years. In the meantime, MMRDA officials said they can build the elevated road.
 “Instead of taking the traditional Marine Drive-Pedder Road route, traffic on the western corridor, over probably three years, will be signal-free between Worli and Princes Dock through this connector,” said MMRDA commissioner Rahul Asthana.
 “Although railway permission is not yet in to build a bridge above Elphinstone bridge, work will start by January 2013 to avoid delay. The bridge portion will be built only when permission is given,” said another MMRDA official.
 “The project will decongest Pedder Road in the absence of the 4km flyover and nearly 10km coastal road between Worli and Cuffe Parade,” said a senior MMRDA technocrat. While the eastern freeway too will decongest Dr Ambedkar Road, Eastern Express highway and Sion-Panvel road, the sea link will bring Navi Mumbai closer to South Mumbai.


N-Power crisis

Osama Suzuki @ Manesar

Making an unscheduled visit to the violence-afflicted Manesar plant, Suzuki Motor Corporation chairman Osamu Suzuki addressed workers and executives of its Indian subsidiary Maruti Suzuki on Monday, apologising for the violence and praising their spirit in difficult times.
The chairman chose to visit the car plant that was the scene of July 18 violence that left one senior HR official of Maruti dead and 96 others injured.
Suzuki has asked the managers to create a better industrial environment by improving the management-worker relationship.
The situation at the Manesar plant is still tense with workers not too sure about resuming duties, fearing some kind of backlash despite the three-tier security that’s enforced in the integrated car plant.
Maruti’s Manesar plant resumed operations under heavy security by the Haryana Police’s Rapid Acton Force (RAF) that has cordoned off the entire 600-acre facility, while internal security is manned by an extensive private armed force set up by the carmaker.
This comes on the back of 500 contract workers being dismissed by the Maruti management on charges of instigating violence and perpetuating crimes within the plant last month.
Suzuki chairman had visited Gujarat last week where Maruti Suzuki plans to set up a new manufacturing unit at an investment of Rs. 4,000 crore.
He has inspected the 700-acre site apart from meeting local people over there.
Maruti plans to set up a plant for 2.5 lakh cars annually by 2015-16, besides establishing a skill development centre to meet its manpower needs.
Maruti executives said 500 Indians would be trained initially in Japan so that they get accustomed to the Japanese way of functioning. The Gujarat plant is expected to become one of the largest units of the carmaker.
The chairman expressed hope that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the violence will get to the bottom of the workers’ stir so that such incidents can be avoided in the future. He also inspected few facilities such as the weld shop and took a tour of the plant.
Maruti increased the manpower at the same plant and doubled it to 696 workers to increase its output, which has been almost half of the target of 150 cars per day. The facility currently makes DZire sub-compact sedan while the high-selling Swift hatchback production would begin with Manesar’s second plant that is likely to go on stream in the next few days.
Osamu Suzuki also visited Suzuki Motorcycle India (SMIPL) for a brief period.
This is the only facility owned by Suzuki Motor Corp that makes diesel engines in any part of the world and is proposed to be merged with Maruti Suzuki.
With the Indian carmaker gaining full control of the engine plant, Suzuki’s stake would increase to 56% from the current 54.2%.

Agra - Lucknow Expressway snippets

The Uttar Pradesh Public Private Partnership Monitoring Committee has finalised the alignment of the Agra-Lucknow Green-Field Eco-Friendly Expressway Project. Reviewing the progress of its implementation, infrastructure and industrial development commissioner, Anil K Gupta examined the draft concept report submitted by consultants Redicon India Pvt Ltd and approved the final alignment proposal of an approximately 270-km long six-lane (extendable to eight lanes) expressway starting from proposed Agra Ring Road close to Yamuna Expressway, passing through Fatehabad, Shikohabad, Saifai, NH-92 near Etawah, NH-91 near Kannauj, NH-25A near Malihabad, and finally culminating at Inner Ring Road in Lucknow.
According to the draft concept report, the consultants have proposed five toll plazas, eight interchanges with 7.5 metres service lane along the expressway and 80 under passes, 135 cattle passes and four public amenities. The draft concept report has also fixed a project execution time of three years.
The state government also asked the consultants to incorporate design parameters for a speed of 120 km/ hour on the proposed expressway. The committee also observed that it should be clearly specified in the concept report that the concessionaire will have to acquire land himself, while the state government will only facilitate the acquisition. Moreover, the final concept report will also include provision for optional annuity or toll based revenue models, setting up two fuel stations, linkages to existing industrial clusters of potato-based food processing in and near Agra, glasswork of Firozabad, Attar (perfume) industry of Kannauj and the leather industry in Kanpur. Gupta said, “The finalised alignment has been derived on the criteria of maximum utilisation of barren, waste and low cost land in the area. To make the expressway economically inclusive, small Mandis have been proposed, as they will benefit farmers, schooling facilities for their wards and medical-care facilities will be developed along with eco-friendly green belt and water bodies with a view to protect environment and rain harvesting.”
Gupta also said the consultants have been asked to include alternative bidding processes for selecting developers for the entire expressway as a single project or in small pockets of growth centres. “In addition, masterplans of cities along the alignment must also be synchronised with the expressway, so that, there is no hurdle in execution of project later on,” Gupta said.
The final comments on the project by UP Expressways Industrial Development Authority will be made available to the consultants by early September after which the final concept report will be accepted by the PPP Monitoring Committee.
Apart from reducing travel time between Agra and Lucknow to three hours from the present seven, the access-controlled expressway will help the swift transportation of perishable farm produce to bigger markets, apart from boosting tourism.
The six-lane expressway, that seeks to reduce the distance between the two cities from the existing 350 kilometres to 274 kilometres, will pass through Yadav-dominated belt comprising Etawah, Mainpuri and Kannauj districts.
Proposed to come up at an estimated cost of about Rs 9,800 crore, the project aims to reduce the travel time between Lucknow and Agra from 5 hours to 3.5 hours. The expressway will be ready by 2016.
Government may put in place the annuity-based system to decide on the toll that will be charged from commuters. Infrastructure and industrial development commissioner Anil Kumar Gupta said the system would ensure that the developer doesn’t quote arbitrary toll rates.
“The traffic volume will be ascertained every year and accordingly the toll rates will be decided,” Gupta said.
While reviewing the project during a presentation, UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said the expressway will help farmers to ship their produce far and wide.

Vizag airport to expand operational hours

The ministry of defence has finally approved to extend the current operational hours of Vizag airport by three hours. The airport can now operate till 11 pm. Following the approval, there will be more late night flights to and from Vizag. 

Onam's here....

A man dressed as the mythical king Mahabali greets Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy and wife Mariyamma during Onam celebrations in Thiruvanthapuram.

SC extends 2G auction deadline

The Supreme Court gave more than what the Centre had pleaded for by extending the deadline for auction of cancelled 2G spectrum licences from August 31 to January 11 but pinned it with two discomfiting caveats — failure to adhere to the new schedule would invite contempt action against officials and possible imposition of heavy costs on the Union government.
The Centre had pleaded for extension of deadline to November 12 with an additional 40 days to complete the process for auction of 122 spectrum licences in 22 telecom circles, which were cancelled by the court in its February 2 judgment, while directing their auction by June 2.
Senior advocate P P Rao sought to stretch the time limit by narrating the lengthy process involved in auction and requested the bench of Justice G S Singhvi and Justice K S Radhakrishnan to grant such extension that the government would not need to come back with a request for further relaxation.
Having extended the deadline twice — first from June 2 to August 31 and now from August 31 to January 11 — the bench did not give all the relief at one go. Wanting to wait and test the Centre’s willingness to abide by its commitment, it posted the matter for further hearing on January 13 without specifying the time it was willing to grant for allocation of spectrum to successful bidders at the auction.
The bench warned the government that “if the Centre failed to complete the auction process by January 11, 2013, the court will be constrained to initiate suo motu proceedings against concerned officials under the Contempt of Court Act”. It also allowed existing service providers to continue operations till January 13.
While warning the Union government that it might get saddled with “exemplary cost” if it violated the fresh deadline, the bench barred all other courts in India from entertaining any petition, application or suit relating to auction of 2G spectrum being conducted on the directions of the Supreme Court.
Justice Singhvi and Justice Radhakrishnan agreed to entertain the plea for extension of auction deadline only after telecom secretary R Chandrasekhar filed an affidavit through advocate Apeksha Sharan undertaking that “the central government is firmly and irrevocably committed to implement the aforesaid judgment”.
To the discomfort of the government, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy said the seven-month delay in implementation of the 2G judgment due to Centre’s repeated attempts to extend the deadline benefited private operators, who as per the original judgment were to surrender their licences by June end.
The bench said it would consider at an appropriate time Swamy’s application and contention of advocate Prashant Bhushan that the government’s attempt was to overrule the 2G judgment by first withdrawing the review petition and then sending a presidential reference seeking clarifications.

Mota Maal

Rebuffing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s defence, the BJP on Monday further ramped up its offensive over Coalgate, with its leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj accusing the Congress of allocating coal mines in return for mega bribes.
Mota maal mila hai Congress ko ( Congress got big bucks),” Swaraj said, escalating the confrontation which has jammed Parliament and triggered speculation that the monsoon session could be adjourned sine die.
Swaraj, along with Arun Jaitley, her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha, was responding to the Prime Minister’s 32-point statement, where he rejected the charge of resignation by denying any wrongdoing in the allocation of coal mines and disputing CAG’s estimate of gains for private players.
“Congress has got a fat sum from coal block allocation, that is why this delay (in amending the laws) was caused. My charge is that huge revenue was generated but it did not go to the government and went to the Congress,” Swaraj said.

Asked if BJP is alone on this issue as even its allies have indicated that they would like a debate in Parliament on the issue, Jaitley said, “We don’t stand alone. And on corruption even if we have to fight alone it would be majestic isolation. The support of the people is with us.”
Swaraj claimed, allies SAD, JD(U) and Shiv Sena were with BJP and even parties like AIADMK were supporting NDA on the demand for PM’s resignation.
BJP said, as minister in-charge of coal ministry, PM was morally responsible and he should step down.

Business Environment

Data shows that Gujarat has attracted maximum number of expansion and investment interest applications this year. In fact, till May this year, proposed investments in Gujarat has crossed Rs 85,000 crore, which is more than half of proposed investments last year.
In 2011, Rs 1.42 lakh crore worth of investment was proposed in the state.
2012 doesn’t seem to be as rosy for other states, which have seen a sharp decline in their investments and number of applications for industrial licenses. States like Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal have seen the maximum decline in proposed investment and applications for fresh industrial licenses.
An industry body recently found that of the total 227 PPP projects worth over Rs 68,000 crore under operation in India as of December 2011, Gujarat accounted for about 31 completed PPP projects worth over Rs 24,000 crore. The state has attracted the maximum investments in the power and manufacturing sectors.
An Assocham report titled ‘Investment & Growth Patterns’ said that the project implementation rate in Gujarat was way below the national average and was marginally ahead of Jharkhand. “Gujarat is lagging behind with 41.9 per cent project implementation rate, much below the national average of 53.9 per cent,” the report said.
Industry experts believe that the difference Gujarat brings on table compared to other states is the pro-active approach. “The response time for business queries is much lesser in Gujarat. The state has also has been able to modernize its infrastructure with time which makes it a stable place of investments both in manufacturing and services sectors,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII.

With over 11 per cent share in the proposed foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2011-12, Gujarat has emerged as the third most favorite investment destination for overseas investors. An ASSOCHAM report released said that Gujarat got the second highest number of 131 FDI proposals attracting proposed investment worth Rs 20,258 crore during 2011-12. With over 27 per cent share, Odisha has emerged as the top investment destination followed by Andhra Pradesh for the period.

According to the latest study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), Gujarat attracted worth Rs20,258 crore of FDI proposals in 2011-12.
Of the total Rs1.78 lakh crore of FDI proposals, with over 11% share Gujarat takes the third spot, the report said. Gujarat got the second highest number of 131 FDI proposals attracting proposed investment worth Rs20,258 crore, according to a state-wise analysis of the proposed FDI and the number of FDI proposals filed in India during 2011-12.
With over 27% share in the total foreign direct investment (FDI) proposed in 2011-12, Odisha has emerged as the most favorite investment destination for overseas investors across India. Though, barely 17 FDI proposals were filed in Odisha, the state garnered lion’s share worth about Rs49,527 crore in the total FDI proposed across India, according to the Assocham analysis.
“A total of 763 FDI proposals worth over Rs1.78 lakh crore were filed across various states in India during the aforesaid period,” said Bhagyesh Soneji, chairperson of the Assocham Gujarat Council, while releasing the findings of the chamber’s analysis.
Attracting FDI proposals worth about Rs33,936 crore, Andhra Pradesh ranked second with a share of about 19% as about 70 proposals were filed by the foreign investors in the state. Chattisgarh and Karnataka ranked fourth and fifth of the top five investment destinations from the foreign investors’ point of view and got FDI proposals worth over Rs20,000 crore and Rs14,000 crore, respectively. Though at 144, Maharashtra got the highest number of FDI proposals but the state ranked sixth with proposed FDI worth over Rs12,000 crore.
Of top 20 states, West Bengal ranked 14th above states like Bihar, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Kerala and managed 24 FDI proposals worth a meager Rs1,243 crore, according to the Assocham study.

Scrap all allocations : Opposition

The opposition has demanded cancellation of 155 coal blocks awarded since 2006, citing the Comptroller & Auditor General’s (CAG) report, even as industry chambers joined the debate, arguing that scrapping the contracts would dampen investment sentiments further.
The BJP, which claimed the support of all NDA members as well as Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK, said all the blocks awarded since 2006 should be cancelled and these should be auctioned. Even the four Left parties and the Telugu Desam Party were on the same page and went on to say that the PM’s statement contained “several distortions”.
“We want a thorough probe into the entire allocation to find out who was responsible, howsoever highly placed the person might be, cancellation of all coal block allotments and a discussion in the House,” CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said.
He defended the earlier Left Front government in West Bengal and dismissed the PM’s statement that former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had opposed competitive bidding. In fact, Yechury cited two letters from the then state chief secretary to argue that Left-ruled West Bengal did not oppose competitive bidding.
But industry chambers said that cancellation was not the solution. “I am not sure about the demand for cancelling allocations as there will be implications on the players involved, which I am not clear about. But, definitely, cancellation will create a lot of confusion as people have already made the investments. To change all of that will really impact investment sentiment. The way forward should be to ensure a transparent auction and lay down all rules in advance. Some of them made investments in completely good faith. So why penalize them,” Ficci secretary general Rajiv Kumar said.



A positive point of view after ages !

Cricket cheer

The India U-19 team wins the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in Australia & India win their match against New Zealand in Hyderabad convincingly.

The PM on Coalgate

PM's 32-point statement in Parliament

1. I seek the indulgence of the House to make a statement on issues regarding coal block allocations which have been the subject of much discussion in the press and on which several Hon'ble members have also expressed concern.

2. The issues arise from a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General which has been tabled in Parliament and remitted to the Public Accounts Committee.  CAG reports are normally discussed in detail in the Public Accounts Committee, when the Ministry concerned responds to the issues raised. The PAC then submits its report to the Speaker and that Report is then discussed in Parliament.

3. I seek your indulgence to depart from this established procedure because of the nature of the allegations that are being made and because I was holding the charge of Coal Minister for a part of the time covered by the report. I want to assure Hon'ble Members that as the Minister in charge, I take full responsibility for the decisions of the Ministry. I wish to say that any allegations of impropriety are without basis and unsupported by the facts.

4. Allocation of coal blocks to private companies for captive use commenced in 1993, after the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 was amended. This was done with the objective of attracting private investments in specified end uses. As the economy grew in size, the demand for coal also grew and it became evident that Coal India Ltd. alone would not be able to meet the growing demand.

5. Since 1993, allocation of captive coal blocks was being done on the basis of recommendations made by an inter-Ministerial Screening Committee which also had representatives of State governments. Taking into account the increasing number of applicants for coal block allocation, the Government, in 2003, evolved a consolidated set of guidelines to ensure transparency and consistency in allocation.

6. In the wake of rapidly growing demand for coal and captive coal blocks, it was the UPA I Government which, for the first time, conceived the idea of making allocations through the competitive bidding route in June 2004.

7. The CAG report is critical of the allocations mainly on three counts. Firstly, it states that the Screening Committee did not follow a transparent and objective method while making recommendations for allocation of coal blocks.

8. Secondly, it observes that competitive bidding could have been introduced in 2006 by amending the administrative instructions in vogue instead of going through a prolonged legal examination of the issue which delayed the decision making process.

9. Finally, the report mentions that the delay in introduction of competitive bidding rendered the existing process beneficial to a large number of private companies. According to the assumptions and computations made by the CAG, there is a financial gain of about Rs. 1.86 lakh crore to private parties.

10. The observations of the CAG are clearly disputable.

11. The policy of allocation of coal blocks to private parties, which the CAG has criticised, was not a new policy introduced by the UPA. The policy has existed since 1993 and previous Governments also allocated coal blocks in precisely the manner that the CAG has now criticised.

12. The UPA made improvements in the procedure in 2005 by inviting applications through open advertisements after providing details of the coal blocks on offer along with the guidelines and the conditions of allotment. These applications were examined and evaluated by a broad based Steering Committee with representatives from state governments, related ministries of the central government and the coal companies. The applications were assessed on parameters such as the techno economic feasibility of the end use project, status of preparedness to set up the end use project, past track record in execution of projects, financial and technical capabilities of the applicant companies, recommendations of the state governments and the administrative ministry concerned.

13. Any administrative allocation procedure involves some judgment and in this case the judgment was that of the many participants in the Screening Committee acting collectively. There were then no allegations of impropriety in the functioning of the Committee.

14. The CAG says that competitive bidding could have been introduced in 2006 by amending the existing administrative instructions. This premise of the CAG is flawed.

15. The observation of the CAG that the process of competitive bidding could have been introduced by amending the administrative instructions is based on the opinion expressed by the Department of Legal Affairs in July and August 2006. However, the CAG's observation is based on a selective reading of the opinions given by the Department of Legal Affairs.

16. Initially, the Government had initiated a proposal to introduce competitive bidding by formulating appropriate rules. This matter was referred to the Department of Legal Affairs, which initially opined that amendment to the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act would be necessary for this purpose.

17. A meeting was convened in the PMO on 25 July 2005 which was attended by representatives of coal and lignite bearing states. In the meeting the representatives of state governments were opposed to the proposed switch over to competitive bidding. It was further noted that the legislative changes that would be required for the proposed change would require considerable time and the process of allocation of coal blocks for captive mining could not be kept in abeyance for so long given the pressing demand for coal.  Therefore, it was decided in this meeting to continue with the allocation of coal blocks through the extant Screening Committee procedure till the new competitive bidding procedure became operational. This was a collective decision of the centre and the state governments concerned.

18. It was only in August 2006 that the Department of Legal Affairs opined that competitive bidding could be introduced through administrative instructions. However, the same Department also opined that legislative amendments would be required for placing the proposed process on a sound legal footing. In a meeting held in September, 2006, Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs categorically opined that having regard to the nature and scope of the relevant legislation, it would be most appropriate to achieve the objective through amendment to the Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act.

19. In any case, in a democracy, it is difficult to accept the notion that a decision of the Government to seek legislative amendment to implement a change in policy should come for adverse audit scrutiny. The issue was contentious and the proposed change to competitive bidding required consensus building among various stakeholders with divergent views, which is inherent in the legislative process.

20. As stated above, major coal and lignite bearing states like West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Rajasthan that were ruled by opposition parties, were strongly opposed to a switch over to the process of competitive bidding as they felt that it would increase the cost of coal, adversely impact value addition and development of industries in their areas and would dilute their prerogative in the selection of lessees.

21. The then Chief Minister of Rajasthan Smt. Vasundhara Raje wrote to me in April 2005 opposing competitive bidding saying that it was against the spirit of the Sarkaria Commission recommendations. Dr. Raman Singh, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh wrote to me in June 2005 seeking continuation of the extant policy and requesting that any changes in coal policy be made after arriving at a consensus between the Central Government and the States. The State Governments of West Bengal and Orissa also wrote formally opposing a change to the system of competitive bidding.

22. Ministry of Power, too, felt that auctioning of coal could lead to enhanced cost of producing energy.

23. It is pertinent to mention that the Coal Mines Nationalisation (Amendment) Bill, 2000 to facilitate commercial mining by private companies was pending in the Parliament for a long time owing to stiff opposition from the stakeholders.

24. Despite the elaborate consultative process undertaken prior to introducing the amendment Bill in Parliament, the Standing Committee advised the Ministry of Coal to carry out another round of discussions with the States. This further demonstrates that the decision to seek broader consultation and consensus through a Parliamentary process was the right one.

25. The CAG report has criticised the Government for not implementing this decision speedily enough. In retrospect, I would readily agree that in a world where things can be done by fiat, we could have done it faster. But, given the complexities of the process of consensus building in our Parliamentary system, this is easier said than done.

26. Let me humbly submit that, even if we accept CAG's contention that benefits accrued to private companies, their computations can be questioned on a number of technical points. The CAG has computed financial gains to private parties as being the difference between the average sale price and the production cost of CIL of the estimated extractable reserves of the allocated coal blocks. Firstly, computation of extractable reserves based on averages would not be correct. Secondly, the cost of production of coal varies significantly from mine to mine even for CIL due to varying geo-mining conditions, method of extraction, surface features, number of settlements, availability of infrastructure etc. Thirdly, CIL has been generally mining coal in areas with better infrastructure and more favourable mining conditions, whereas the coal blocks offered for captive mining are generally located in areas with more difficult geological conditions. Fourthly, a part of the gains would in any case get appropriated by the government through taxation and under the MMDR Bill, presently being considered by the parliament, 26% of the profits earned on coal mining operations would have to be made available for local area development. Therefore, aggregating the purported financial gains to private parties merely on the basis of the average production costs and sale price of CIL could be highly misleading. Moreover, as the coal blocks were allocated to private companies only for captive purposes for specified end-uses, it would not be appropriate to link the allocated blocks to the price of coal set by CIL.

27. There are other important technical issues which will be gone into thoroughly in the Ministry of Coal's detailed response to the PAC and I do not propose to focus on them.

28. It is true that the private parties that were allocated captive coal blocks could not achieve their production targets. This could be partly due to cumbersome processes involved in getting statutory clearances, an issue we are addressing separately. We have initiated action to cancel the allocations of allottees who did not take adequate follow-up action to commence production. Moreover, CBI is separately investigating the allegations of malpractices, on the basis of which due action will be taken against wrongdoers, if any.

Hon'ble members,

29. From 1993 onwards, successive governments continued with the policy of allocation of coal blocks for captive use and did not treat such allocations as a revenue generating activity. Let me reiterate that the idea of introducing auction was conceived for the first time by the UPA Government in the wake of increasing demand for captive blocks. Action was initiated to examine the idea in all its dimensions and the process culminated in Parliament approving the necessary legislative amendments in 2010. The law making process inevitably took time on account of several factors that I have outlined.

30. While the process of making legislative changes was in progress, the only alternative before the Government was to continue with the current system of allocations through the Screening Committee mechanism till the new system of auction based competitive bidding could be put in place. Stopping the process of allocation would only have delayed the much needed expansion in the supply of coal. Although the coal produced thus far from the blocks allocated to the private sector is below the target, it is reasonable to expect that as clearances are speeded up, production will come into effect in the course of the Twelfth Plan. Postponing the allocation of coal blocks until the new system was in place would have meant lower energy production, lower GDP growth and also lower revenues. It is unfortunate that the CAG has not taken these aspects into account.

31. Let me state emphatically that it has always been the intention of Government to augment production of coal by making available coal blocks for captive mining through transparent processes and guidelines which fully took into account the legitimate concerns of all stakeholders, including the State Governments. The implicit suggestion of the CAG that the Government should have circumvented the legislative process through administrative instructions, over the registered objections of several state governments including those ruled by opposition parties, if implemented would have been undemocratic and contrary to the spirit of the functioning of our federal polity. The facts speak for themselves and show that the CAG's findings are flawed on multiple counts.

32. This, in short, is the background, the factual position and the rationale of government's actions. Now that the report of the CAG is before the House, appropriate action on the recommendations and observations contained in the report will follow through the established parliamentary procedures.

Speaking to the media after his statement, Singh said the BJP was bent on jamming Parliament. He recited a couplet to suggest his reticence was saving many their blushes — perhaps a hint that opposition-ruled states had opposed auctions in the past.
Hazaron jawabo se achchi hai khamoshi meri, Na jaane kitne sawalo ki aabru rakhe
(my silence is better than a thousand answers, it protects the honour of innumerable questions),” Singh said.

5th nation syndrome

Former president APJ Abdul Kalam has said the country is suffering from the “fifth nation syndrome” as it is always the fourth or fifth nation to launch any space mission or nuclear programme.
The Missile Man said that the country should strive to occupy the number one slot. Speaking at the foundation day programme of CSIRCentral Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, Kalam said, “Now we need to go beyond that syndrome and be number one.”
The Bharat Ratna awardee, who is known for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology spoke about the Assam violence and stressed on uniting the warring factions. “All of us should see that they come together as the unity of mind is very important. We need a cohesive society,” Kalam said.
When asked to comment on the rising corruption in the country, Kalam said,“Every home has to be clean–your home, my home, his home, every home. When every home is corruption-free only then India will be corruption-free.”
Kalam came out in support of FDI in retail, saying for a developing world to become developed, an atmosphere of competitiveness and aggressiveness should be there.
"As long as we have these,FDI in retail is not a dangerous thing," he said, adding that "I personally believe that in the globalised world,we need to collaborate and cooperate with other nations," Kalam said

First Dreamliner lands @ Mumbai

The Mumbai international airport saw its first Dreamliner aircraft landing when the Ethiopian Airline's flight from Addis Ababa to Mumbai landed on runway 0927 at 6.17 am on Saturday.
In keeping with a longstanding aviation tradition, a couple of fire engines gave the aircraft a 'water cannon' salute with a jet of water being sprayed at the plane as the airport touched down at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport's Sahar terminal.

Kolkata to get trolley buses

If everything goes according to plans, electricity-run trolley buses will start plying between Ballygunge and Tollygunge, where tram services had been suspended around a year back. The Ballygunge-Khidderpore route is the second in line to get these buses.
The transport department has decided to opt for trolley buses to make use of overhead wires of the tramways. After tram services were suspended in some parts of the city, the overhead wires were left unused for years. At many places, tracks have also been removed or have been covered with a coat of bitumen. But that won’t deter the introduction of trolley buses as these would ply on pneumatic tyres and no tracks will be required.
Top brass of the transport department feels these fuel-efficient buses will boost up the public transport system in a major way. Tenders have already been floated for private players to bid for the supply of these buses.
There will be an initial cost for setting up the power back-up system and the pantographs, a metal framework that ensure a smooth running of trolley buses. The department is in touch with German experts to bring in the technology for running trolley buses successfully.
Officials have pegged the cost of introducing the trolley buses at Rs 100 crore, with the cost of each bus ranging between Rs 30-40 lakh. Jain said the department was scouting for funds with the urban development ministry. JNNURM funds can also be used for buying these buses. Around 10 buses will be introduced in the first place.
The erstwhile Left government had also planned to introduce trolley buses in the city.

Anna Hazare targets Congress, BJP

Reacting sharply to the six-day parliamentary deadlock, social activist Anna Hazare accused both the Congress and the BJP of corruption in coal block allocation in his blog.
Supporting Sunday’s agitation by India Against Corruption volunteers, he said people only wanted to know where the politicians had spent public money. Accusing political parties of squandering away public money, he said the House had not been allowed to discuss the CAG report yet.

The gloves are off within erstwhile Team Anna with one of its core members Kiran Bedi, conspicuous by her absence at Sunday’s protest, coming out in support of the BJP in sharp contrast to her colleagues.
Bedi’s affinity to the opposition party could spell bad news for the fledgling political movement that erstwhile Team Anna is planning to establish. She is the only prominent woman face in the agitation.