Business & Economy

HCL signs strategic engagement pact with MSD of US

IT services provider HCL Technologies today said it had signed a five-year, $ 500 million strategic engagement agreement with MSD, also known as Merck & Co., Inc., a global research-driven pharmaceutical company with headquarters in the United States.

Under the agreement, HCL will extend its existing relationship with MSD, dating back to 2004, to become an integral business and technology services partner and provide a multitude of services, including software-led IT solutions, remote infrastructure management, engineering and business and knowledge process services.

"For five years, MSD has leveraged HCL’s extensive expertise in life sciences and healthcare to streamline operational efficiencies and consolidate its IT portfolio," Mr Richard G. Branton, Vice President of Application Services, MSD, said.

"As we continue to leverage global delivery services to meet our business imperatives, we have chosen HCL as our strategic partner for its depth of technology and pharmaceutical domain experience, coupled with its flexibility to engage and a commitment to deliver," he said.

HCL Americas president Shami Khorana said it was a landmark win for HCL. He said the company was proud that its growing leadership in pharmaceutical and healthcare, coupled with its previous delivery for MSD had positioned it as a strategic partner for MSD.

"We are committed to creating transformational value for MSD in this engagement and we look forward to playing a key role in the organization’s growth across global markets," he said.

The release said MSD would leverage HCL's near-shore delivery network in the US comprising its operations centre in Raleigh, North Carolina and its global data center delivery ecosystem, powered by its partner footprints across the globe.

As a result of this engagement, HCL will expand its US team in North Carolina, relying on local hires to staff projects, thus creating jobs for the local community. In total, HCL will deliver services out of 20 worldwide locations including the US, Poland, China and Brazil.


Glenmark in agreement with Par Pharma to market Ezetimibe

Glenmark Generics Limited today announced that its United States subsidiary, Glenmark Generics Inc., had entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Par Pharmaceutical, the generic division of Par Pharmaceutical Companies, market Ezetimibe 10 mg tablets, the generic version of Merck- Schering Plough’s Zetia in the US.

A press release from Glenmark said Zetia is a cholesterol modifying agent with annual US sales of approximately $1.4 billion, according to IMS Health data.

"Glenmark believes it is the first to file an ANDA containing a paragraph IV certification for the product, which would potentially provide 180 days of marketing exclusivity. On April 24, 2009, Glenmark was granted tentative approval for its product by the US Food and Drug Administration," it said.

Under the terms of the licensing and supply agreement, Par has made a payment to Glenmark for exclusive rights to market, sell and distribute ezetimibe in the US. The companies will share in profits from the sales of the product.

Glenmark is currently involved in patent litigation concerning Ezetimibe in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey. Par will share control and costs with Glenmark for ongoing litigation. A trial is scheduled to commence on May 12, 2010, the release added.


NetCore acquires Greynium, owner of local languages and classifieds portals

NetCore Solutions Pvt Ltd today said it had acquired Greynium Information Technologies Pvt Ltd, the owner of portals in local languages and the classifieds space, but the terms of the deal were not disclosed.

NetCore's founder and Managing Director Rajesh Jain had earlier invested in Greynium through his personal venture capital fund, Emergic Venture Capital, a press release from the two companies said.

According to it, Greynium is a market leader in the Indian languages Internet portals space under the brand and also has a growing position in the online Indian classifieds space with its portal.

NetCore is one of India's largest digital communications companies, with its email and SMS solutions being used by over 2,000 companies, the release said.

"Given that local languages are crucial for India, this strategic acquisition will position NetCore well going ahead in building both reach (across Internet and mobile) and revenue (from ads, lead generation, content subscriptions and commerce)," Mr Abhijit Saxena, CEO of NetCore Solutions, said.

"Netcore through MyToday has been focused on driving a direct-to-consumer business and this conforms to that objective. Building a large digital consumer base across web, SMS and the mobile Internet will allow NetCore to monetise this base effectively not only across both media as also create opportunities around e-commerce and m-commerce," it said.

Mr B G Mahesh, founder and CEO of Greynium said: "Greynium has been an early pioneer in the local languages space in India. It has a large Internet reach (6+ million monthly unique visitors, on its portals in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam). This complements the 4 million mobile (SMS) reach that Netcore has through MyToday. Greynium's presence with its senior leadership team in Bangalore will also strengthen the Southern regional office for NetCore."

"In India, there is no company which has successfully managed to create a large presence in the consumer space on the Internet and mobile. The future of the Internet in India will be a multi-screen one, defined by services that span the mobile-PC continuum. The combination of MyToday's mobile services and OneIndia's Internet portals creates new opportunities for both consumers and enterprises," Mr Jain added.


L&T, Howden to set up JV to make axial fans, air pre-heaters

Engineering and construction giant (L&T) and Howden today signed an agreement to set up a joint venture (JV) to design, engineer, manufacture and supply axial fans and air pre-heaters to Indian thermal power plants ranging between 100 MW and1200 MW.

These products form vital components of energy efficient thermal power plants, a press release from L&T said.

The release said the joint venture would invest around Rs. 100 crore for setting up of the industrial facility and related infrastructure. The manufacturing unit will be set up in Hazira, Gujarat, and its operations are expected to commence in 2011.

"This strategic partnership allows L&T to join forces with a global technology leader, and offers Howden access to the fast growing Indian power plant equipment market," the release said.

According to the release, the establishment of the JV represents a further strengthening of capabilities of L&T Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of L&T, which provides a one stop-solution for the Indian power generation sector.

L&T also has joint ventures with MHI for the manufacturing of Super Critical Boilers, Steam Turbines and Generators. The manufacture of fans and air-heaters augments L&T Power’s portfolio of products from its own operations and operations of its existing joint ventures. With the combination of these joint ventures, L&T Power will have a distinct edge in the market for power plants.

The agreement was signed by Mr. Ravi Uppal, MD & CEO, L&T Power and Mr. Bob Cleland, CEO – Howden Global in the presence of Mr. A.M. Naik, Chairman and Managing Director, Larsen & Toubro.

“This JV marks another milestone for L&T Power. L&T is poised to emerge as India’s premier power sector company," Mr Naik said.

Mr Uppal said L&T and Howden possessed complementary strengths and made a winning combination in the Indian power generation market.

"The agreement is a landmark for both organisations, and the JV will aim at delighting its customers with steadfast project management and products of superior technology. We are very happy to join hands with a global technology leader like Howden, and I’m sure this partnership will go a long way forward," he said.

Mr Cleland said India provided one of the major growth opportunities in the power generation market worldwide over the coming years.

"Larsen & Toubro is one of the most respected companies in India. Further, Howden, with over one hundred years of experience in supplying fans and rotary heat exchangers to the power market, is the global market leader and supplies to over a hundred countries with a brand name respected the world over. The combination of Larsen & Toubro and Howden in this new joint venture is a completely natural fit and opens up wonderfully exciting opportunities into the future," he added.


MoU for DPR on Par-Tapi-Narmada and Damanganga-Pinjal river links signed

The States of Gujarat and Maharashtra and the Union Government for preparation of detailed project reports (DPRs) of the Damanganga-Pinjal and the Par-Tapi-Narmada river link projects.

The MoU was signed by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, his Maharashtra counterpart Ashok Chavan and Union Minister for Water Resources Pawan Kumar Bansal in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

An official press release said the agreement was the culmination of the joint efforts of the Central Government and the Governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra to initiate the process of preparation of DPRs of these two links for providing benefits to the people of the areas at the earliest.

The proposed projects are two Inter Basin Water Transfer links concerning Gujarat and Maharashtra. While the Damanganga – Pinjal link will mainly benefit Maharashtra, the Par – Tapi – Narmada will benefit Gujarat.

The Par – Tapi – Narmada link envisages the transfer of surplus water from west flowing rivers north of Damanganga upto Tapi to water-deficit areas in North Gujarat.

The scheme is located mainly in southern Gujarat; but it also covers part of the areas north of Mumbai on the Western Ghats in Maharashtra. The link project consists of seven proposed reservoirs on these rivers and a 395 km-long link canal. The diverted water will be used to irrigate a total of 1.63 lakh ha annually in the districts of Valsad, Navsari, Dang, Surat, Bharuch and Vadodara besides the drought prone Saurashtra and Kutch regions. Power houses proposed at the foot of the various dams will also generate hydropower to the tune of about 32.5 MW, an official press release said.

The Damanganga – Pinjal link envisages the transfer of surplus water of Damanganga basin available at the proposed Bhugad and Khargihill dam sites to Pinjal reservoir for augmentation of water supply to Greater Mumbai city. All the three reservoirs will be connected through tunnels --. Bhugad-Khargihill (16.85 Km) and Khargihill- Pinjal (25.70 Km) for the transfer of about 909 million cubic metres of water annually.

According to the release, the parameters of the two projects will be fine-tuned and finalized in the DPRs.

It may be recalled that the Ministry of Water Resources had prepared a National Perspective Plan (NPP) in the year 1980 for Water Resources Development in the country envisaging transfer of water from water surplus areas to water deficit areas. Based on numerous water balance studies, toposheet studies of reservoir sites and link alignments and so on, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) identified 30 links, 16 under Peninsular Component and 14 under Himalayan Component for the preparation of feasibility reports in line with the proposals of NPP.

The Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) programme has gained momentum in the recent past as efforts have been made by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government for a comprehensive assessment of this important infrastructure development programme with a focus on the Southern Rivers.

The NWDA has so far completed feasibility reports for 14 links under the Peninsular component. The Government of India has been making continuous efforts with the State Governments in building consensus on these ILR link proposals and has prioritized five link proposals to obtain the consent of basin states to take up the Detailed Project Reports of prioritized links.

The Detailed Project Report (DPR) of one of the priority links - the Ken-Betwa link has already been completed by NWDA. The DPR is under finalization in the light of modifications suggested by the party states before submission to appraising agencies, the release added.


Tamil Nadu's annual plan fixed at Rs 20,068 crore

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi meeting the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia to finalize Annual Plan 2010-11 of the State, in New Delhi on May 03, 2010.
Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi meeting the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia to finalize Annual Plan 2010-11 of the State, in New Delhi on May 03, 2010.

The annual plan for Tamil Nadu for 2010-11 was finalised at Rs 20,068 crore at a meeting here today between Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

This includes an additional Central assistance of Rs 150 crore provided for projects of special interest to the State.

In his comments on the plan performance of the State, Mr Ahluwalia said plan realization had been good but more efforts were needed to take the State's economy to previous levels of growth. He said Tamil Nadu’s economic performance was very impressive and better than the national average between 2004-05 and 2006-07.

He said the State had an impressive record of improvement in human development indices and growth in industry and services. It has a dynamic service sector, relatively stagnant agriculture sector and a modest industry sector, he said.

Mr Ahluwalia said Tamil Nadu was one of the most urbanised States with a high human development index. With improvement in infrastructure and high investment levels, it could graduate to the high income category, he said.

According to him, the State has better social indicators than the national average and even demographic indicators are better than the all India numbers.

During the discussions, the State Government was advised to give more emphasis to agricultural growth and to improve productivity in the sector by developing further dry-land agriculture and laying more stress on technology and research. The need to optimise water management and also increase area under cultivation was also mentioned.

The Commission suggested that the State Government should devise schemes in the State sector and provide matching funding so that it can avail of Central Government assistance under various central schemes for industrial development.

The State Government was advised to encourage public-private partnership (PPP) in development of infrastructure and take initiatives aimed at creating an investor- friendly environment. It was pointed out that the XIth Plan had emphasised the role of PPP infrastructure development and the Centre had followed an active plan of pushing PPP infrastructure. Mr. Ahluwalia said many States had taken important initiatives in this area including in social sectors like health and education.

Mr Karunanidhi said his Government was committed to social justice and inclusive growth. He said he considered it the duty of the government to ensure that the poor had a permanent house to live with dignity. He mentioned, in this context, the Kalaignar Housing Scheme under which permanent concrete houses would be provided to 2.1 million poor families over a period of six years.

He said that a health insurance scheme had been introduced to provide timely relief to poor sections of the society. The scheme, likely to benefit 1.44 crore families, entitles them to treatment for specified life-threatening diseases for up to Rs. one lakh in approved private hospitals. He demanded that more funds should be provided under PMGSY to the State for new link roads for habitation with population more than 250 as all habitations with 1000 or more population have been provided with link roads.


Coir Board showrooms register record Rs 14.06 crore in sales

The Coir Board's 31 showrooms and sales depots across the country sold coir products worth Rs 14.06 crores during the financial year 2009-10, ended March 31.

A press release from the Board said this was an all-time high and slightly more than the target of Rs 14 crore fixed for the year. Sales during the previous fiscal year had touched Rs 11.14 crores, it said.

According to the release, the showrooms at Jammu, Hyderabad, Rachi, Chennai, Mumbai, Guntur, Madurai and Bhbaneswar attained more than 100 per cent of the target for the year.

It said major items sold through these showrooms included rubberised coir, power loom mattings and handloom products.

Coir Board Chairman V S Vijayaraghavan said the Board soon planned to launch "e-marketing" of coir products. He said a separate web portal would be launched shortly to display the range of coir products and customers can place orders and make payments online after which the products would be delivered to their doorstep within a specified time.

This new system is intended to enable consumers across the country to source coir products directly, he added.


Sanofi-Aventis and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals sign license agreement

Glenmark Pharmaceuticals S.A, a wholly owned subsidiary of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Limited India (GPL), announced today that it had entered into an agreement with Sanofi-Aventis to grant Sanofi-Aventis a license for the development and commercialization of novel agents to treat chronic pain.

Those agents are vanilloid receptor (TRPV3) antagonist molecules, including a first-in-class clinical compound, GRC 15300. GRC 15300 is currently in Phase I clinical development as a potential next-generation treatment for various pain conditions, including diabetic neuropathic pain and osteoarthritic pain, a press release from Glenmark said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Glenmark will receive an upfront payment of $ 20 million, as well as development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments. All such payments could reach a total of $ 325 million.

In addition, Glenmark is eligible to receive tiered double-digit royalties on sales of products commercialized under the license. Sanofi-Aventis will have exclusive marketing rights for North America, European Union and Japan subject to Glenmark's right to co-promote the products in the United States and five Eastern European countries.

Sanofi-Aventis will also have co-marketing rights in 10 other countries including Brazil, Russia, and China, whereas Glenmark will retain exclusive rights in India and other countries of the rest of the world.

"There continues to be a medical need for safer and more efficacious products for the treatment of painful diabetic neurophathy and osteoarthritis pain," Mr Marc Cluzel, Executive Vice President, Research & Development, Sanofi-Aventis.

"GRC 15300 and its associated programme brings an innovative approach to sanofi-aventis’ pain portfolio. We are very pleased to collaborate with Glenmark Pharmaceuticals on the development of this new programme, which we believe may have promise to address a significant gap in treating chronic pain," he said.

According to Mr Glenn Saldanha MD and CEO of GPL, the agreement demonstrated his company's innovative R&D and validated its leadership in the Indian drug discovery arena.

"We have made excellent progress with our TRPV3 program at Glenmark and are very excited to be joining our efforts with those of sanofi-aventis, a world class research driven global pharmaceutical company," he added.


Essar Energy offer price set at 420 pence per share

Essar Energy, part of the Essar Group, today announced that an offer price of 420 pence per share had been set in respect of its initial public offering of its shares to institutional investors.

Conditional trading in the shares under the ticket symbol ESSR is expected to commence on the London Stock Exchange's main market on May 4, a press release from the company said.

The offer will comprise approximately 303 million new shares, representing 23.24% of the company’s enlarged issued share capital, assuming no exercise of the over-allotment option. The number of shares in issue at admission is expected to be approximately 1,303 million, the release said.

At the offer price, the company expects to raise gross proceeds of approximately £ 1,273 million (approximately US $ 1,947 million.

Based on the offer price, the market capitalisation of the company following completion of the offer is expected to be approximately £ 5,473 million (approximately $ 8,373 million), It is expected that Essar Energy will be considered for inclusion in the FTSE 100 Index, the release said.

It said that, in addition, an over-allotment option of up to 30.3 million shares, representing approximately 10% of the offer will be granted, exercisable once in a period of up to 30 days from the commencement of conditional dealings in the shares.

According to the release, immediately following completion of the offer and admission, it is expected that Essar Global Limited will continue to hold approximately 76.74% of the issued share capital of the company, assuming the over-allotment option is not exercised, and approximately 75% assuming the over-allotment option is exercised in full.

Conditional dealings in the shares are expected to commence on the London Stock Exchange from 8.00 a.m. on 4 May 2010 under the ticker symbol ESSR. In addition, allocations, stamping of the prospectus and the underwriting of the offer are also expected to commence on or before 4 May 2010. Admission and commencement of unconditional dealings in the shares is expected to take place from 8.00 a.m. on 7 May 2010.

"We are delighted to have successfully priced this landmark international debut offer by Essar Energy, the largest primary offering in London since December 2007," Mr Shashi Ruia, Chairman of Essar Group and Ravi Ruia, Chairman of Essar Energy, said.

"The Offer gives us a strong platform from which to deliver our significant pipeline of growth projects. We have been humbled by the interest shown from a broad range of high quality blue chip international institutional investors. They have shown a very high interest in the Indian growth story and confidence in Essar Energy's ability to meet the growing need for power, oil and gas in India. We would like to thank these institutions," they added.

The final allotment is being done at a price that is less than the original offer price of 450-550 pence a share.

"We are happy that the offer was fully subscribed within the price range initially announced. However, as this was our debut offering and given current market conditions, we decided on a small reduction in price for our new investors. This is one of the most significant days in the history of the Essar Group," Mr Prashant Ruia, Vice Chairman of Essar Energy, said.

"The management is aware of its responsibility to all our stakeholders to deliver against our stated aims. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with all our new shareholders," Mr Naresh Nayyar, Chief Executive Officer of Essar Energy, added.


MoUs signed for "smart communities" along Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor

The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC) today signed four memoranda of understanding (MoU) with selected Japanese consultants and the State Governments of Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra for building "smart communities" or "eco cities" along the proposed industrial corridor.

Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade ad Industry Naoshima Masayuki and Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma were amongst those present on the occasion.

The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), which will run through Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, is being developed in collaboration with the Japanese Government as a global and manufacturing hub.

Under the agreements signed today, the Japanese companies will launch feasibility studies to set up the first set of "smart communities" in the Manesar-Bawal region in Haryana, Dahej and Changodar in Gujarat and Shendra industrial region in Maharashtra.

Well-known Japanese firms such as Hitachi, Mitsubishi Corporation, Toshiba JGC, Itochu and Tokyo Electric Power Company as well as the cities of Yokohama and Kitakyushu will be part of the consortia conducting the feasibility studies, a press release from DMICDC said.

"The aim is to create a strong economic base with globally competitive environment and state-of-the-art infrastructure to boost local commerce, enhance foreign investments and attain sustainable development. As India urbanises rapidly, we need to treat our land and natural resources as scarce commodities and create models of urban development that become sustainable in the long run." said Mr. Sharma.

Mr. T K A Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, said the increased economic growth being witnessed in the country was likely to put additional pressure on environmental resources.

"In order to address this, it is essential to integrate the sustainability aspects by introducing proven planning methods and technological interventions at the initial stage itself," he stressed.

Mr. R P Singh, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, acknowledged the initiative being taken by the the Japanee Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in making available cutting-edge Japanese technology in sustainable development, which can then be replicated not only all across the DMIC region, but also across all urban centres of India.

DMICDC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director Amitabh Kant said the industrial corridor provided India a unique opportunity to adopt futuristic smart city concept of minimal pollution, maximum recycling and reuse of finite resources, optimisation of energy supplies and consumption-efficient use of public transportation in its new cities.

"A smart community can be defined as a city in which citizens, business and government live, work and interact in a sustainable manner through delivery of integrated, low carbon products and services," he said.

"A city can achieve this vision by adopting an integrated approach across water, waste, energy, transportation and public safety infrastructure by adopting innovative technology and achieving both sustainability and improved quality of life and creates a unique model of sustainable industrial development within the DMIC region," Mr Kant added.

The eco cities will be inspired by Japan’s Kitakyushu Eco Town, which set the stage for industrial advancement of the Asian giant from the ruins of World War II. The "Kitakyushu model" was the catalyst for providing impetus to Japan’s economic development. The rapid pace of industrial growth was, however, accompanied by serious industrial pollution. The Dukai Bay area near Kitakyushu came to be known as the "Sea of Death" due to pollution.

The Japanese Government and the city of Kitakyushu took several initiatives to overcome its pollution problem and improve the environment through a unique model of partnership between government, business and the citizens. Kitakyushu’s eco-friendly activities have been widely recognised as a trendsetting model city for environment improvement.

The city of Yokohama demonstrated how to realize significant environmental and economic benefits by engaging stakeholders in the private sector and civil society. The city, which is the second largest in Japan after Tokyo, reduced waste by 38.7% between 2001 and 2007 despite adding about 1,70,000 people.

The release said the Indian eco cities will follow the Japanese model of using all industrial wastes as raw materials for other industries to create a zero emission environment and an independent recycling-based society. METI and DMICDC have drawn up a roadmap for the implementation of the projects. A major feature is commissioning of feasibility studies at four sites through Japanese consultants, to be financed by METI in 2010. Based on the report, the Japanese consortia would start demonstration projects by the end of 2010, again funded by the Government of Japan.

After these experiments are successfully implemented, the Japanese Government would invite private investment through leading companies for implementation by 2011.


Third ministerial meeting of Japan- India Policy Dialogue held

India and Japan discussed ways of establishing broader and deeper bilateral economic relations during the third ministerial meeting of the Japan-India Policy Dialogue (JIPD) here today.

Mr Naoshima Masayuki, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry and Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma also discussed the development of regional economic cooperation in Asia and the WTO talks.

A joint statement issued after the meeting said the two ministers discussed the progress of the ongoing negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries.

The Ministers instructed their officials to accelerate the negotiations and to solve the remaining issues toward conclusion of a balanced and mutually beneficial agreement at the earliest.

Difficulties faced by the Indian exporters for footwear products and some agricultural products such as tea, coffee mangoes to Japan were also discussed in the meeting.

The two sides also discussed cooperation in high technology trade and creation of enabling conditions for encouraging business in high technology during the meeting.

Mr Masayuki and Mr Sharma welcomed the memorandum of understanding(MoU) for promotion of model "Smart Community" projects and expressed satisfaction at the early launch of the initiatives that aimed at integrated development of eco-friendly townships and industrial zones.

The MoU was concluded by a consortia of Japanese companies represented by Toshiba Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Hitachi and JGC Corporation, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation and Haryana State Industrial & Infrastructure Development Corporation, Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board and Maharashtra Infrastructure Development Corporation.

The Ministers welcomed the opening of JETRO’s Chennai office and shared the view that Southern India is an important area as gateway to rest of Southeast Asia and expressed hope that it would promote investment from Japan by contributing to improving business environment.

The Ministers recognized the importance of strengthening regional cooperation toward East Asian economic integration. In this regard, the Ministers agreed to immediately commence discussion among East Asia Summit (EAS) Senior Economic Officials on such issues as rules of origin, tariff nomenclature, customs related issues and economic cooperation.

The Ministers appreciated the research activities of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) to deepen the integration in East Asia.

Mr Sharma and Mr Masayuki were of the view that a strong multilateral trade system was vital for underpinning the recovery and ensuring future growth in the world economy. They committed themselves to continue their cooperation to achieve an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive conclusion of the Doha Development Round as early as possible.

The Ministers recognized the important role played by the Ministerial JIPD in promoting India-Japan economic engagement as a strategic priority for both countries and looked forward to the next meeting which would be convened in Tokyo in 2011.


PSBs not asked to exit insurance business: Govt.

The Government today said it had not issued any instructions to the public sector banks (PSBs) to exit non-core businesses, especially insurance.

"The Bank Boards are competent to decide on the issues relating to entering new lines of business as part of overall business strategy, make suitable acquisitions of companies or businesses, close/merge unviable branches, open overseas offices, set up subsidiaries and exit a line of business," Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena told the Lok Sabha in a written reply to a question today.

This was in keeping with the autonomy package announced by the Government for PSBs in February, 2005, he added.


Govt to set up Directorate of Currency

The Government today said it proposed to set up a Directorate of Currency (DOC) in the Ministry of Finance that would have the mandate to, among other things, monitor and review instances of breach of security features of bank notes in India.

Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena told the Lok Sabha in a written reply to a question that the DOC would also monitor and review best practices around the world.

He said it would identify new security features and fund research and development on a continuing basis.

"The efforts of the DOC are expected to substantially contain the counterfeiting of Indian bank notes," he added.


BEE's Bachat Lamp Yojana registered under CDM of Kyoto Protocol

The Bachat Lamp Yojana (BLY), developed by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) under the aegis of the Ministry of Power, is now registered under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Developed to promote energy efficient lighting in India, BLY encourages replacement of inefficient bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) by leveraging the sale of Certified Emission Rights (CERs) under the CDM. The scheme was launched by Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, in February 2009.

Under the BLY scheme, quality CFLs are distributed to grid-connected residential households in exchange of an incandescent lamp (ICL) and Rs 15. Given the high transaction cost of preparation and registration of CDM projects and for wider reach and faster implementation, BEE has developed a Programme of Activities (PoA) which would serve as an umbrella CDM project.

The individual projects, designed to be in conformance with the umbrella project, would be added to the umbrella project as and when they are prepared.

The development of the PoA is a voluntary action on the part of BEE and it would not seek any commercial revenues from the programme. On the other hand, on behalf of the Government of India it will take the responsibility of monitoring of all project areas after the power distributioncompanies (discoms) and the CFL suppliers have entered into a tripartite agreement (TPA) with BEE.

This is the largest PoA in terms of carbon dioxide emission reductions, to be ever registered by the CDM Executive Board, a pess release from BEE said.

Mr Shinde said the BLY was a move towards promoting energy efficiency in India."It is the biggest Programme of Activities of its kind in the world and provides a great opportunity for a robust public private partnership. We are not only looking at reducing emissions by way of efficient end use of electricity, but also at reducing the peak load in the country, which currently faces a shortage of up to 15 per cent. The replacement of the ICLs by CFLs would lead to a potential reduction of over 6,000 MW in electricity demand," he said.

Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General of BEE, said the current penetrationof CFL in the household sector remained low at about 5-10 per cent, largely due to the high price of the CFLs, which 8-10 times the cost of incandescent bulbs.

"The Bachat Lamp Yojana focuses on this first cost barrier to reduce the cost of CFLs to that of incandescent bulbs for consumers. At Rs 15 apiece for CFLs, the BLY is a win-win situation for all. Consumers will not only be able to save on their electricity bills but also help meet the energy efficiency targets of the country," he said.

The domestic appliances and lighting sector accounts for almost 22 per cent of the total electricity demand in India, and contributes almost fully to the peak load as well. It is estimated that there are over 400 million light points in India lighted using incandescent lamps.

According to the release, ICLs are extremely energy inefficient, with just 5 per cent of the electricity input converted to light. The remaining is lost as heat. In recent years the CFL has emerged as an energy efficient alternative, as a CFL uses only one-fifth as much electricity as an ICL to provide the same amount of illumination.

The release said the BLY scheme provides a platform for a healthy public-private partnership between the Government of India, private sector CFL suppliers and State level Electricity Distribution Companies.

Under the scheme, 60 Watt and 100 Watt incandescent Lamps will be replaced with 11 to 15 Watt and 20-25 Watt CFLs respectively. BEE will undertake monitoring of each project area as required under an approved methodology of CDM. The replacement potential of ICLs with CFLs is also borne out of the fact that in the year 2008, ICL sales in India were 734 million whereas CFL sales were just 199 million. The penetration share of incandescent lamps for lighting in commercial and residential sector put together is thus nearly 80% in India. The penetration of CFLs in households remains low very on account of the high price of the CFLs, which is 8-10 times the cost of incandescent bulbs, the release added.


New BMW 5 Series launched in India

Peter Kronschnabl, President, BMW India with the new BMW 5 Series launched in Mumbai, India on April 30, 2010.
Peter Kronschnabl, President, BMW India with the new BMW 5 Series launched in Mumbai, India on April 30, 2010.

The new BMW 5 Series was unveiled here today an exclusive pavilion specially constructed for the launch of the sixth generation of the immensely successful series.

The new BMW 5 Series is available in two petrol variants - 535i and 523i and two diesel variants - 530d and 525d.

"The 5 Series is the core model in our product portfolio. Each generation of the BMW 5 Series has been a winner and has played a major role in the company's success around the world. And we intend to keep it that way in India," Mr. Peter Kronschnabl, President, BMW India said.

"You can imagine what high expectations we have of the new BMW 5 Series Sedan: It has to live up to its highly successful predecessor both in terms of innovative technology and sales achievements," he said.

"Splendid design, flawless workmanship, driver orientation with ideally placed instruments and intuitive operation, the new BMW 5 Series embodies a formula to captivate the senses. The new BMW 5 Series is everything a BMW sedan is meant to be: aesthetic, dynamic and efficient," Mr. Kronschnabl added.

According to the release, the BMW 5 Series has significantly contributed to the success and image of BMW in India. BMW India has sold over 3600 units of the 5 Series in India since 2007, it said.

The all India ex-showroom prices are as follows: BMW 523i : Rs38,90,000, BMW 525d : Rs 39,90,000 and BMW 530d : Rs 45,90,000, the release said.

The release said the 523i, 525d and 530d will be produced at the BMW Plant Chennai. The 535i will be available as a CBU (completely built-up unit) and will have an ex-showroom price of Rs 58,00,000.

The new BMW 5 Series will be available in Alpine White as non-metallic paintwork and in the following metallic colours: Space Grey, Titanium Silver, Black Sapphire, Havanna, Cashmere Silver, Deep Sea Blue, Milano Beige, Imperial Blue Brilliant Effect and Sophisto Grey Brilliant Effect.

Dakota leather is the standard upholstery for the new BMW 5 Series and is available in the following colour combinations: Oyster / Black, Black / Black, Vento Beige / Vento Beige, Oyster / Oyster dark and Cinnamon Brown / Black. The following interior trims are available: Fine-wood trim Ash Grain Brown and Fine-wood trim "Fine line" anthracite.

The new BMW 5 Series Sedan is entering the market with the world's first straight-six petrol engine with twin power turbo, high precision injection and valvetronic (225 kW/306 hp) in the BMW 535i as well as straight-six petrol engine in the BMW 523i (150 kW/204 hp). The latest generation of straight-six diesels featuring an all-aluminium crankcase and common-rail direct injection develop 180 kW/245 hp in BMW 530d and 150 kW/204 hp in BMW 525d.

Eight-speed automatic transmission comes standard with the BMW 523i and the BMW 525d. Eight Speed Sports Automatic transmission with shift paddles on the steering wheel is standard feature on the BMW 535i and the BMW 530d.

Headquartered in Gurgaon, near Delhi, BMW India is a 100% subsidiary of the BMW Group.


World Bank provides $ 117.70 m for Tamil Nadu health project

The World Bank has approved a $ 117.70 million International Development Association (IDA) credit to India for improving the quality of and access to health services in Tamil Nadu.

This comes as additional financing to the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project, which was approved on December 16, 2004 with an IDA credit amount of $ 110.83 million.

A press release issued by the World Bank on Thursday said Tamil Nadu had made significant strides in improving the health status and increasing access to health care services in the last decade.

It quoted the 2005-06 National Family Health Survey to say that the state’s infant mortality rate dropped 35 per cent since the previous survey (1998-1999). These improvements are in part due to a significant increase in overall vaccination coverage of children between 12 and 23 months. The overall nutrition status of children under age 3 also has improved, with an 18 percent reduction in underweight children. The state’s maternal mortality ratio decreased from 167 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1999 to 111 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2006.

"Tamil Nadu has made impressive progress in improving maternal and child health, and further improvements would be achieved by improvement in the overall quality of care, particularly for provision of comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care," Ms Preeti Kudesia, World Bank Senior Public Health specialist and project team leader, said.

"The additional funding will support the continuation of successful activities, and will particularly focus on improving the quality of health care provision. The project will also enhance access to and utilization of health services by the state’s poor, remote, and tribal populations," she said.

According to the release, over the past four years, the project has helped establish 80 Comprehensive Emergency Obstetrics and Neonatal Centres throughout the state, leading to improved access and quality of care for pregnant women and infants. It has also provided 385 ambulances, which have strengthened the Emergency Transport Services in rural areas in Tamil Nadu. Health services in tribal areas of the state have also improved through mobile outreach services and supporting sickle cell anemia screening interventions and patient counseling services.

"These well-performing programmes supported by the original project that will be scaled up include state-wide expansion of non-communicable disease prevention and control activities, which are currently active in two districts in the state. The additional financing will also support state-wide implementation of hospital and health management information systems, and the strengthening and monitoring of maternal and neonatal health services at the tertiary level," the release said.

The loan from the IDA has a 35-year maturity including a 10-year grace period, the release added.


Ethos opens luxury watch outlet at Mumbai domestic airport

Ethos Swiss Watch Studios, a pioneer in luxury watch retail in India, has opened its latest store at the Mumbai Domestic Airport's recently-inaugurated Terminal 1-C.

The store offers travellers the chance to browse through more than 15 Swiss watch brands such as Claud Bernard, Seiko, Tissot, Edox, Morellato, Timex, Guess and so on while waiting for their flights.

The chain had forayed into airport travel retail in 2008 in the departures area of the new Bangalore International Airport. Later, it opened stores at Terminal 1 Departures in New Delhi followed by a duty free store at International Departures at the New Delhi Airport.

"All of us at Ethos love the airport experience of welcoming new customers and meeting old friends and customers passing through airports on business or holiday," Mr Yashovardhan Saboo, CEO, Ethos Swiss Watch Studios, said.

"The Ethos stores at domestic terminals focus on popular and fashion brands whereas at international terminals Ethos carries the full range of Ethos brands. At the grand new terminal at Mumbai Airport, we will offer our customers an extensive range of luxury brands to complete their travel retail experience at Ethos," he added.

Ethos had entered the watch retail market in 2003 when it opened its flagship store in Chandigarh. It has now grown into a chain of 18 stores in Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and the National Capital Region, retailing 35 Swiss brands.

Ethos also manages an exclusive Omega Boutique in Mumbai and a Rolex Boutique in Bangalore.


Electricity museum inaugurated in Ahmedabad

CLP Electrodrome, an interactive musuem on electricity that showcases the evolution of power, was inaugurated here today by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The museum is a joint initiative of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of Gujarat, Gujarat Science City and CLP, the largest foreign investor in the Indian power sector.

Housed in the Gujarat Science City, the museum, among other things, depicts the global reach of electricity, the technologies used and the importance of clean energy for the future of the country.

Those present on the occasion included Gujarat Energy Minister Saurabh Patel, Mr Ravi Saxena, Principal Secretary, Science and Technology, Mr D J Pandian, Principal Secretary, Energy & Petrochemicals, Mr Andrew Brandler, CEO of CLP Holdings and Mr Rajiv Mishra, Managing Director, CLP India.

"This revolutionary project is a reinforcement of Government of Gujarat’s commitment to building world-class knowledge infrastructure for our societies and helping the economy emerge as a global super power," Mr Modi said.

"The impact of such path-breaking initiatives will be seen at the very fundamental level of our society – the level that is super critical to progress of our nation but is tremendously underserved at present," he said.

Mr Patl said the museum was the first of its kind in India and would help ignite interest in electricity amongst children.

The 14,000 sq ft area in the museum is divided into 14 zones that highlight different aspects of electricity thorugh exhibits, information panels, movies and interactive sections. There are also miniature and actual working models, large format replicas, projection screens and sensor-activated audio-visual experiences and LCD screens.

CLP India owns and operates a 655 MW gas-fired independent power project in Gujarat. It is also one of the largest wind power developers in the country with approximately 446 MW of committed wind projects at different stages of implementation.

The total committed investment by CLP India is in excess of Rs 97 billion including the 1320 MW coal-fired Jhajjar Power Plant in Haryana, a press release from the company added.


Govt. identifies Hong Kong for Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement

The Government has notified Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, as "specified territory", enabling it to enter into a double taxation avoidance agreement with the territory.

Earlier, the Government had similarly notified Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, (all British Overseas Territories); Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, (all British Crown Dependencies); Netherlands Antilles (an Autonomous Part of the Kingdom of Netherlands); and Macau (a Special Administrative Region of China).

This had enabled the Government to initiate and negotiate agreements for exchange of information for the prevention of evasion or avoidance of income tax and assistance in collection of income tax with the nine specified territories.

Section 90 of the Income Tax Act was amended by the Finance Act 2009 to enable the Central Government to enter into an agreement with any specified territory outside India, in addition to the already existing provision of agreement with the government of any country.


Maharashtra's annual plan size fixed at Rs 37.916 crore

The Annual Plan outlay for Maharashtra for 2010-11 was agreed at Rs 37,916 crore at a meeting here today between Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

During the discussions, Mr Ahluwalia appreciated the efforts of the State Government in improving the pace of development and making development more inclusive.

He said especially commendable were the efforts to not allow resource constraints to come in the way of development through imaginative use of public private partnership (PPP) in major projects.

Mr Ahluwalia appreciated the State Government's performance in sectors such as agriculture, health and transport.

He said the Commission would shortly send to all State Governments the Mid-Term Review of the XIth Plan and begi the process of formulating the approach to the XIIth Plan. In this context, he invited suggestions from the States, including structural changes in the Plan process, so that the views of the States were fully considered while formulating the approach.

On the Plan performance of the State, it was pointed out that the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) at constant (1999-2000) prices increased from Rs.269,621 crore to Rs.426,248 crore between 2002-03 and 2007-08. The per capita Net State Domestic Product (NDSP) at constant prices increased from Rs.23447 in 2002-03 to Rs.33302 for the year 2007-08. Percentage growth GSDP over previous year for the year 2007-08 of Maharashtra was 9.18% which was higher than the all-India level of 9.01%.

The Chief Minister said that the State Government was looking forward to help from the Commission in putting in place a mechanism for effectively evaluating plan schemes.

The State would also like to obtain assistance from the Commission in identifying new avenues for using PPP, especially in the field of health and education.

Mr Chavan said the state would like the Commission's help and advice in putting in place a transparent system to award PPP contracts.

He said the Commission should help the State in bringing about better convergence of interventions by various Ministries to improve private sector participation in the marketing of agriculture produce and to remove intermediaries from the retail value chain.

He said that the State was witnessing rapid growth in trade, hotel and restaurant, transport and communication, and financial services resulting in massive growth in tertiary sector. He said the State was giving more emphasis on agriculture and allied sector and a provision of Rs.1865 crore had been made in this year’s budget.

Mr Chavan said efforts were on to provide credit to the farmers at affordable rate of interest. He said the State proposes to create 1.5 to 2 lakh hectare irrigation potential every year. Around Rs 55,000 crore is needed to complete on-going irrigation projects, he added.


LS passes Finance Bill, Mukherjee announces additional reliefs

File photo of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
File photo of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The Lok Sabha today passed the Finance Bill 2010, which will give effect to the proposals in the General Budget for 2010-11, after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced a debt relief package for coffee growers and some additional reliefs and concessions in direct and indirect taxes.

Replying to the debate on the Bill in the House, Mr Mukherjee said the reliefs were based on the discussions and representations received after the introduction of the Bill.

He said the emphasis in the Bill had been on relief to individual taxpayers, encouraging research and development in the country, providing some relief measures in view of the recessionary impact and rationalization of procedure and steps to mitigate compliance cost.

Mr Mukherjee said that new hospitals anywhere in India, with at least 100 beds for patients, would be included as a "specific business" for availing the benefit of investment-linked deduction.

Currently, hospitals of more than 100-bed capacity, constructed in any area other than the "excluded area" are eligible for claiming 100 per cent deduction under section 80-IB (11C) of the Income Tax Act. Today's announcement takes into account the pressing need for more hospitals all over the country.

Similarly, the business of developing and building a housing project under a scheme for slum redevelopment or rehabilitation framed by the Central Government or a State Government will also included as a "specified business" for availing of the benefit of investment-linked deduction.

Mr Mukherjee said that, in consequence of the decision to allow tax-neutrality for conversion of a company in to Limited Liability partnership (LLP), the transfer of shares by the shareholders of the company in respect of such a conversion would be exempted from taxation.

He clarified that the effective rates of levy of service tax imposed in the Budget proposals on international and domestic air passengers would be a maximum of Rs 100 per travel for domestic journey in any class and a maximum of Rs 500 per travel for internatioal journey by economy class. Further, domestic air travel to and from the North-Eastern sector would be exempt from this tax, he said.

He provided relief to the construction sector in the matter of service tax by enhancing their rate of abatement from 67% to 75% of the gross value where such value includes the value of the land constructed upon. Certain procedural bottlenecks relating to the completion certificate prescribed in the law would also be simplified, he said.

He said constructions under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and Rajiv Awas Yojana would be exempted from service tax in order to give a thrust to low-cost housing schemes for the urban poor.

Mr Mukherjee accepted a suggestion that the present service tax exemption available to the vocational training institutes affiliated to the National Council for Vocational Training and offering courses in designated trades should also be extended to "Modular Employment Skill Development courses" provided by the training institutes registered under ‘Skill Development Initiative Scheme’ of the Ministry of Labour.

"As this initiative intends to generate employment to the rural and urban poor, school dropouts and semi-skilled labourers, I propose to accept this suggestion and exempt such courses with immediate effect. The notification to this respect is being issued today," he said.

In the area of indirect taxes, Mr Mukherjee reduced the the excise duty on hand-rolled cheroots priced upto Rs.3 per stick to 10% ad valorem. Similarly, the additional excise duty on this product shall now be 1.6% ad valorem.

The full exemption from excise duty provided to betel nut product "supari" has now been extended to scented supari also, he said.

The reduction in central excise duty from 8 % to 4 % on corrugated boxes and cartons manufactured starting from kraft paper has been extended to cover units that manufacture such cartons from corrugated paper or paperboard also.

The excise duty on wate paper has been reduced to 4 % to rectify certain anamolies.

The excise exemption for small scale units is not available to goods that bear the brand name of another person, but a relaxation of this condition is available in respect of specified packing materials which are normally not sold under the brand name that they bear. In order to resolve disputes about the coverage of this relaxation, Mr Mukherjee has now extended it to all types of packing material.

Automobile components have been subjected to excise duty on the basis of their retail sale price. In order to resolve disputes about the coverage of this provision, it was amended so as to make it applicable to parts, components and assemblies of vehicles of Chapter 87 of the Excise Tariff. Since these components are also used for earthmoving machinery like loaders, excavators and so on, the Finance Minister has now decided to apply this provision to the parts, components and assemblies of such machinery as well.

The exemption from customs duty provided to tunnel boring machines for hydroelectric projects has been extended to parts and components of these machines because, owing to their huge size, they cannot be imported in a single consignment.

Concession on customs duty provided to medical equipment has been extended to Ostomy appliances, which has mainly used by cancer patients.

Mr Mukherjee reduced the basic customs duty on 11 specified drugs, including two anti-cancer and one for the treatment of AIDS, to 5%. These drugs are also being exempted from countervailing duty (CVD) by way of excise duty exemption.

Optical Disc Drives (ODD) are ITA-bound and thus permissible for import without payment of duty. Mr Mukherjee said he had decided to fully exempt specified parts or components required for the manufacture of ODD from basic customs duty.

Cigarette filter rods are manufactured from acetate rayon tow. While full CVD of 10% and special CVD of 4% is applicable to tow, the excise duty on filter rods is 10% creating an inversion in duty. Mr Mukherjee has now fully exempted acetate rayon tow from special CVD of 4%.

Flax fibre and yarn are not produced in India in significant quantities. The Minister has fully exempted them from basic customs duty in order to encourage domestic value addition.

The Government had imposed export duty at the statutory rate of Rs.2500 per metric tonne (PMT) on raw cotton with effect from April 9 this year to contain the spiraling prices by disincentivizing exports. The Government has now decided to enhance the statutory rate for this item to Rs.10,000 PMT while maintaining the effective rate at the current level. For this purpose, an official amendment to the Finance Bill, 2010 is being moved, he said.

In December, 2009 the export duty on iron ore lumps was enhanced from 5% to 10% and on fines from nil to 5%. Keeping in view the trend in the quantum of exports and domestic and international prices, the duty on iron ore lumps has been increased further to 15%.

In response to representations from the domestic producers of stainless steel, the Minister reduced basic customs duty on stainless steel melting scrap from 5% to 2.5%.

The Finance Minister also announced the Coffee Debt Relief Package 2010, specifically for small growers.

He noted that coffee growers in the country had been facing long-standing financial problems ever since the coffee prices fell to very low levels during the period 2000-2004.

Relief packages in the form of Special Coffee Term Loan 2002 and Special Coffee Relief Package 2005 were sanctioned to revive the coffee sector, besides other initiatives like the Prime Minister's Relief Package for Debt Stressed Farmers and Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme 2008. However, a large number of affected growers did not get the required relief, he said.

Mr Mukherjee said that, as per the new package, for pre-2002 loans, 50 per cent of the total liability shall be waived subject to a maximum benefit of Rs.5 lakh per farmer to be borne by Government of India.

An additional 25 per cent shall be waived by banks and the balance shall be rescheduled.

The package also envisages 20 per cent waiver of liability under crop loans with 10 per cent each being borne by the Government of India and banks respectively, subject to a maximum benefit of Rs.1 lakh.

For post-2002 term loans, 10 per cent of the total liability shall be waived subject to a maximum benefit of Rs.1 lakh. The package shall also provide relief to medium and large farmers who shall be permitted to reschedule the loans.

The total financial implication for the Government is Rs.241.33 crore while benefit to coffee growers will be around Rs.362.82 crore, Mr Mukherjee added.


Tripartite MoU to be signed on Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor

Tripartite memoranda of understanding (MoU) will be signed here tomorrow between the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC), the state governments concerned and the Japanese consultants to the ambitious project.

The State Governments that will sign the MoU tomorrow are Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima will also be present on the occasion.

According to an official press release, DMICDC is developing seven nodes in the first phase. These are: Dadri-Noida-Ghaziabad Investment Region in Uttar Pradesh; Manesar-Bawal Investment Region in Haryana; Khushkhera-Bhiwadi-Neemrana Investment Region in Rajasthan; Ahmedabad-Dholera Investment Region in Gujarat; Igatpuri-Nashik-Sinnar Investment Region in Maharashtra; Pithampura-Dhar-Mhow Investment Region in Madhya Pradesh; and Dighi Port Industrial Area.

The release said the corridor provides India a unique opportunity to adopt futuristic smart city concept of minimal pollution, maximum recycling and reuse of finite resources, optimization of energy supplies and consumption-efficient use of public transportation in its new cities.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (METI), Government of Japan, is providing expertise to DMICDC for development of small communities. METI, through its Japanese consultants, shall identify and implement various environmentally sustainable projects within the DMIC region.

The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), comprising the States of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, is being developed in collaboration with the Government of Japan as a global manufacturing and trading hub.

The vision is to create a strong economic base with globally competitive environment and state-of-the-art infrastructure to activate local commerce, enhance foreign investments and attain sustainable development.

The DMIC region covers a combination of well-developed, moderately developed and under-developed industrial areas with varying natural resources, human skills and with or without quality physical and social infrastructure.


India's food inflation rate declines to 16.61 %

India's food inflation rate declined to 16.61 per cent in the year to April 17 from 17.65 per cent in the previous week, while fuel prices were up 12.69 per cent from a year ago, an official statement said here today, quoting provisional data.

Rising food prices have been a matter of concern for the Government since the worst monsoon in more than three decades last year and floods in some states adversely affected the Kharif crop. The Government has initiated various steps to bring the prices under control, but their impact is yet to be fully felt by the common man.

According to the data released today, the price of pulses were up 29.89 per cent during the week from a year ago, milk by 22.21 per cent, cereals by 8.39 per cent, rice by 9.06 per cent and wheat by 7.38 per cent.

However, the prices of potatoes were down by 28.16 per cent, onions by 9.95 per cent and vegetables by 0.62 per cent, the statement said.

Overall, the annual rate of inflation for Primary Articles, which have a weight of 22.02 per cent in the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), stood at 13.55 per cent for the week ended April 17 as compared to 14.14 per cent for the previous week and 6.55 per cent during the corresponding week, ended April 18, 2009, of the previous year.

The WPI in respect of Primary Articles rose by 0.1 per cent to to 289.9 from 289.7 for the previous week, the statement said.

Within this group, the index for Food Articles declined by 0.2 per cent to 292.7 from 293.3 for the previous week due to lower prices of masur, fruits & vegetables and jowar (2% each) and wheat (1%). However, the prices of moong (4%), urad and fish-inland (3% each) and arhar, condiments & spices, rice, maize, gram and bajra (1% each) moved up.

The index for Non-Food Articles rose by 0.8 per cent to 257.5 from 255.4 for the previous week due to higher prices of logs & timber (10%), raw rubber (6%), gingelly seed (4%), raw silk (3%) and groundnut seed (1%). However, the prices of fodder (14 %), mesta (2%) and tobacco (1%) declined.

In the case of Fuel, Power, Light & Lubricants, which have a weight of 14.23 per cent in the WPI, the index rose by 0.5 per cent to 365.1 from 363.2 for the previous week due to higher prices of liquefied petroleum gas (3%), light diesel oil (2%) and naphtha and furnace oil (1% each). However, the price of bitumen (1%) declined.

The anual rate of inflation for this category stood at 12.69 per cent as compared to 12.45 per cent for the previous week and 5.54 per cent during the corresponding week of the previous week, the statement added.


India takes over as Chairman of ITU Council for 2010

India has become the new Chairman of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Council for 2010, an official press release said here today.

Mr R N Jha, Deputy Director General, Department of Telecommunications, took over the rotating chairmanship from Ghana at a meeting in Geneva recently, it said.

The Council, which is the ITU's governing body, comprises 46 member-states, the release said.

In his opening address as Chairman, Mr Jha said that the 2010 Session of the Council was particularly important as this is the year of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Mexico on October 4-22.

The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference is the key event in which its members decide the future role of the organization. This conference determines the ability of the organization to influence and affect the development of information and communication technologies (ITC) worldwide.

The Council at present is focusing on the "World Telecommunication Development Conference" (WTDC-10) which will take place in Hyderabad from May 24 to June 4 this year, the release added.


Reliance makes fourth oil discovery in Cambay Basin

Reliance logo
Reliance logo

Energy major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today said it had discovered oil in an exploratory block located onland in the Cambay Basin in Gujarat.

This is RIL's fourth discovery in the block, CB-ONN-2003/1 (CB 10 A&B), which was awarded to it under the fifth round of bidding in the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP-V).

A press release from RIL said the well, CB10A-F1, was drilled to a total depth of 1605 m in Part A of the block with the objective of exploring the play fairway in the Miocene Basal Sand (MBS) of Babaguru formation.

Two hydrocarbon bearing zones were identified from 1397-1407 m and 1378-
1382 m. Conventional production testing was carried out in one of the zones in the interval 1397-1400 m.

"The well flowed at a rate of 300 barrels of oil per day (bopd) through 6 mm
bean with a flowing tubing head pressure of 250 psi," the release said.

According to it, the discovery is significant as this play fairway is expected to open more oil pool areas leading to better hydrocarbon potential within the block.

The block CB-ONN-2003/1 is located at a distance of about 130 kms from Ahmedabad. It covers an area of 635 sq km in two parts - Part A & Part B.

RIL, as operator, holds 100% participating interest (PI) in the block. While the
entire block was covered with 2D seismic, about 80% of the block area has 3D seismic coverage. Of the 14 exploratory wells drilled in the block by RIL so far, 10 of them are located in Part-A and the remaining 4 in Part B of the block. RIL is continuing further exploratory drilling efforts in the block, the release said.

The release said the discovery, named Dhirubhai-47, had been notified to the Government of India and the Director General, Directorate General of Hydrocarbons.

"The potential commercial interest of the discovery is being ascertained
through more data gathering and analysis," it said.

"This discovery supplements RIL’s understanding of the petroleum system in the Cambay basin in general and this block in particular. Based on interpretation of the acquired 3D seismic campaign in the Contract Area, several more prospects with upside potential have been identified at different stratigraphic levels," it added.


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