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Cyclone Ockhi weakens, heads towards south Gujarat, north Maharashtra

Photo:IMD
Photo:IMD
Even as cyclone Ockhi over eastcentral Arabian Sea is gradually weakening and moving towards South Gujarat and north Maharashtra,  a well-marked low pressure area has developed over southeast Bay of Bengal, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said today.
 
A bulletin issued by IMD at 1620 hours today said Ockhi had moved further north-northeastwards with with a speed of 13 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1430 hours IST near latitude 15.2º N and longitude 69.0º E, about 590 km southwest of Mumbai and 770 km south-southwest of Surat. 
 
"It is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards, weaken gradually and cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a deep depression by the night of tomorrow, the 5th December 2017," it said.
 
The bulletin said heavy rainfall was light to moderate rainfall was very likely at a few places over Saurashtra and south Gujarat region today. Light to moderate rainfall was very likely at most places over Saurashtra and south Gujarat (Valsad, Surat, Navsari, Bharuch, Dang, Tapi, Amreli, Gir- Somnath, Bhavnagar, Diu, Daman, Dadra, and Nagar Haveli districts) tomorrow with heavy rainfall at isolated places, and light to moderate rainfall at many places in the two regions on December 6.
 
According to it, light to moderate rainfall was very likely over north Konkan, including Mumbai, in Maharashtra today. Light to moderate rainfall was also likely at most places over north Konkan (Palghar, Thane, Raigarh, Greater Mumbai, Dhule, Nandurbar, Nashik, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar and Pune districts) tomorrow, with isolated heavy rainfall.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 50-60 kmph, gusting to 70 kmph, were very likely along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts from today from tonight to December 6 morning.
 
Sea conditions would be rough to very rough along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts from tonight till December 6 morning, the bulletin said.
 
The IMD advised fishermen not to venture into the sea along and off south Gujarat and north Maharashtra coasts from today till December 6 morning.
 
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The bulletin said the low pressure area over southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining south Andaman Sea was very likely to become a depression during the next 24 hours and further intensify into a deep depression during the subsequent 48 hours. It is very likely to move west-northwestwards towards north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts during the next three days, it said.
 
According to it, rainfall was very likely at most places over Andaman Islands over Andaman Islands during the next three days, with isolated heavy rainfall.
 
Rainfall was also very likely at many places over north Andhra Pradesh and south Odisha on December 7 and 8, it said.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 30-40 kmph, gusting to 50 kmph, were likely around Nicobar Islands today and 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, on December 5 and 6 and would decrease thereafter.
 
Sea condition would be rough to very rough around Nicobar Islands during December 4 to 6.
 
Fishermen along and off Nicobar Islands are advised not to venture into sea during this period. Similarly, fishermen along and off the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu coasts were advised not to venture into the sea from December 6 to 8.
 
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HDFC AMC Board approves initiating process for IPO

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The Board of Directors of HDFC Asset Management Company Limited (HDFC AMC), chaired by Mr. Deepak Parekh, today approved initiating the process for an initial public offering (IPO), subject to relevant corporate, regulatory and other approvals as applicable or required.
 
Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC Ltd.) and Standard Life Investments Limited (SLI) have also, in principle, approved the IPO of HDFC AMC by offering shares to the public in one or more tranches, a press release from the company said.
 
Post such dilution in tranches, the shareholding of HDFC Ltd. and SLI in HDFC AMC will be at least 50.01% and 24.99%, respectively, it said.
 
Standard Life Aberdeen plc (the ultimate parent company of SLI), HDFC Ltd. and HDFC AMC also confirmed that it is their intention to enter into a Collaboration Agreement to work together towards developing new products in India which they believed would further enhance their successful long-term relationship.
 
“We believe that the listing would unlock value of the business for the shareholders and provide investors an opportunity to participate in the emerging Asset Management space within our group,” said Mr. Deepak Parekh, Chairman of HDFC AMC.
 
“The Indian Asset Management industry has seen strong business flows with increasing awareness of mutual fund products. The improving penetration levels of Mutual Fund products provide an interesting opportunity to channelize investments more productively," said Mr. Milind Barve, Managing Director of HDFC AMC.
 
HDFC Asset Management Company Limited (HDFC AMC), Investment Manager to HDFC Mutual Fund, is one of the leading asset management companies in the country. It manages a total AAUM of Rs. 2,69,781 crore of which Rs. 1,19,159 crore is in Equity Oriented Funds for the quarter ending September 2017.
 
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L&T bags EPC order for 400 MW gas-based power plant in Bangladesh

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The Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) has awarded the contract for setting up Bibiyana South 400 MW Combined Cycle Power Plant Project to a consortium of Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Samsung C&T Corporation of South Korea. 
 
L&T shall be executing the EPC contract valued at approximately $ 250 million, a press release from the company said here today.
 
The power plant will be located at Bibiyana Upzila in Hobiganj district of Sylhet division in the north-eastern sector of Bangladesh, around 215 km by road from Agartala in India.
 
L&T’s scope includes design, detail engineering, supply, installation and commissioning of the complete power plant on a turnkey basis. The plant will incorporate state-of-the-art Single Shaft Advanced Class Gas Turbine, Steam Turbine and Generator from Siemens AG of Germany, which will be procured by L&T. 
 
L&T-Sargent & Lundy, a joint venture company of L&T and Sargent & Lundy LLC, USA, will carry out the plant integration and detail engineering, using propriety technology of Sargent & Lundy, the release said.
 
Mr. Shailendra Roy, CEO & Managing Director–L&T Power & Whole-Time Director–L&T, said, “That L&T has bagged the fourth order in Bangladesh firmly establishes its project execution credentials in that country.”
 
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This project will be executed by the Gas Based Power Projects Business Unit of L&T, based out of Vadodara. 
 
"L&T’s well-established strengths in design, engineering and construction, combined with robust quality and safety standards and on-time delivery, are vital contributors to its success in the power sector," the release said.
 
L&T has executed several large gas based power projects on EPC basis for government utilities and independent power producers in India and abroad. L&T has recently commissioned two gas based power projects in Bangladesh - 360 MW Bheramara Combined Cycle Power Plant Development Project of North West Power Generation Co. Ltd., and 225 MW Sikalbaha Combined Cycle Power Plant Project of BPDB. L&T is also executing the Bibiyana III 400 MW Combined Cycle Power Project of BPDB for Marubeni Corporation of Japan on EPC basis, which is in advanced stage of execution.
 
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GJEPC to host India Gold Policy & Jewellery Summit in Delhi

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The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) will host the first India Gold Policy & Jewellery Summit in New Delhi on December 1-2 at which stakeholders of the industry will gather on a common platform and discuss the current status and challenges of the Indian bullion industry.
 
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia, NITI Aayog Principal Adviser Ratan Watal and Director General of Foreign Trade Alok Chaturvedi are among those slated to attend the event.
 
GJEPC Chairman Praveenkumar Pandya said India is one of the largest consumers of bullion. He said the decision to host the summit was in keeping with the government's intention to work on a comprehensive gold policy.
 
He said formulation of a gold policy with one authority; reduction of import duty on gold from 10% to 4% with a view to make the fragmented gold jewellery sector more organised; setting up of Jewellery Park and Common Facility Centres; setting up of Gem & Jewellery university to upgrade managerial skills; and inclusion of gems & jewellery in MEIS scheme should be part of a comprehensive package for the sector.
 
He felt the summit would also help India assume leadership in gold in the world and become a global hub for gems and jewellery as part of the Make in India agenda.
 
Participants in the summit will include Mr. Aram Shishmanian, Global CEO, World Gold Council (WGC); Mr. R C Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Udyog Ltd.;  Mr. P. N Prasad, CGM, SBI;  Mr. Mehul Choksi, Chairman, Gitanjali; Mr. Balram Garg, Managing Director, PC Jewellers; Mr. Bobby Kothari, Jewelex; Mr. Chandu Siroya, Vice Chairman, Dubai Gold & Jewellery Group; Mr. PR Somasundaram, Managing Director, WGC India;  Mr. Sunil Kashyap, Nova Scotia; Ms. Rhona O’Connell, Thomson Reuters; and Mr. Zhang Yongtao, China Gold Association.
 
Mr. Noray Isler, President of Istanbul Chamber of Jewellery; Ms. Shimul Vyas, NID; Mr. Doug Henry, Birmingham Assay Institute; Mr. Shivanshu Mehta, MCX; Mr. Rajesh Khosla, MMTC PAMP; Mr. Tyler Gillard, OECD; Mr. Surendra Mehta, IBJA; Mr. Shivanshu Mehta, MCX; Mr. James Jose, Hallmarking Association of India; Mr. Avinash Srivastava, Secretary, Consumer Affairs; Mr. Himmet Karadag,Chairman of Borsa Istanbul; Mr. S. V. Murali Dhar Rao, Executive Director, SEBI; Prof Arvind Sahay, Head of India Gold Policy Centre, IIM-A; Mr. S K Jindal, Chairman, ASSOCHAM; Mr. Rahul Gupta, Bullion Federation of India are also slated to participate in the discussions.
 
Mr. K Srinivasan, Convener, Jewellery Panel GJEPC, said, “A comprehensive gold policy framework is the need of the hour to make India a global hub for gems & jewellery and increase exports therein. The policy will also ensure transparency and trust amongst key stakeholders including consumers. It will stimulate efficiencies in supply chains and facilitate requisite delivery standards. Consultations amongst the key stakeholders will ensure hassle-free implementation. The summit will lead to discussions and deliberations amongst Indian and international stakeholders as to how to leverage a best-in-class gold policy in enhancing marketing, merchandising and manufacturing. It will also discuss and deliberate ways to get the public to recycle its jewellery to reduce the nation’s reliance on gold imports.”
  
GJEPC was set up by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 1966. It is one of several Export Promotion Councils (EPCs) launched by the Indian Government to boost the country’s export thrust.
 
Since 1998, the GJEPC has been granted autonomous status. It is the apex body of the gems & jewellery industry and represents over 6,000 exporters in the sector. 
 
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Salman Khan's Tiger Zinda Hai to hit theatres on December 22

 
Salman, Katrina sizzle in Swag Se Swagat
Actor Salman Khan's Tiger Zinda Hai, in which Katrina Kaif is his co-star, billed as the Bollywood's biggest action adventure of 2017, is set to hit the theatres on December 22.
 
The espionage drama has been shot in five different countries across the world to capture what is being described as a "gripping, explosive and entertaining story'.
 
A dramatic journey of two intelligence agents -- Tiger and Zoya -- the film is huge in scale and director Ali Abbas Zafar wanted the expanse of the movie to come out through Tiger’s adventures across Austria, Greece, Morocco, Abu Dhabi and India.
 
“To meet the scale of the film, we had to travel to four different countries for different reasons. Certain landscapes needed to become a part of the film, so we had to go to Austria to get the snow-covered mountains. We also had to go to Morocco to feature crucial fight sequences of horseback riding. The country’s landscape and topography brings a certain texture to these sequences. It also has horses trained for some fight sequences, as many Hollywood films like Troy, and Mummy Returns. Greece was absolutely picturesque and was the perfect location to shoot the celebratory anthem ‘Swag Se Karenge Sabka Swagat’.  Abu Dhabi gave us desert terrain. We got great support from the Abu Dhabi government be it locations, production, army and air-force requirement. They helped us create larger than life action drama sequences. We also shot a couple of scenes in North and South block, Delhi. Overall, each location has huge significance and is part of turning points in the film’s script," Zafar said.
 
As part of the efforts to make a movie with international standards, Yash Raj Films' Tiger Zinda Hai team engaged, in each foreign location, with film crews that have handled major Hollywood films.
 
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Essar concludes sale of Aegis to Capital Square Partners for $ 300 million

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AGC Holdings Limited (AGC) Mauritius, a wholly-owned portfolio company of Essar Global Fund Limited (Essar Global), has concluded the sale of 100% of its stake in ESM Holdings Limited, Mauritius, which is the holding company of Aegis, a major global outsourcing company, to Capital Square Partners (CSP) for $ 300 million (approximately Rs. 2,000 crore). 
 
Net proceeds from this sale, which was announced on 3 April 2017, will be used to retire Essar’s debt, a press release from the company said.
 
"The closure of this transaction is in line with Essar’s intent to reduce leverage that is complemented by an asset monetisation programme. The proceeds from the sale of Aegis and Essar Oil have enabled Essar to retire almost Rs. 75,000 crore of debt," it said.
 
"The transaction also marks Essar Global’s complete exit from the BPO business after creating significant value through organic growth and strategic acquisitions that helped diversify customer offerings," it said.
 
The release said that, since the acquisition of Aegis Communication by Essar Group in 2003, Aegis has grown over tenfold to become a significant player in the outsourcing industry. Through a mix of organic growth and strategic acquisitions, the company has expanded its global footprint across nine countries -- India, South Africa, Australia, Saudi Arabia, UK, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Peru and Malaysia. 
 
Aegis has concluded over 19 acquisitions with a 100% success ratio, in contrast with the 30% success rate of M&As prevalent in the BPO industry. In 2014, AGC had successfully sold its stake in Aegis USA Inc (comprising Aegis’ operations in the USA, the Philippines and Costa Rica) to Teleperformance.
 
Essar’s advisors in the transaction include Axis Capital as financial advisor, and Platinum Partners and Sidley Austin as legal advisors. Shearman & Sterling and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas acted as legal advisors to CSP.
 
Mr Uday Gujadhur, Director, AGC Holding, said: “The closure of this transaction is yet another validation of Essar Global Fund’s commitment to reduce its leverage by monetising the non-core businesses in its portfolio. I congratulate CSP for investing in a high quality asset, like Aegis, in the BPO space and adding to its breadth of expertise.”
 
Mr Sanjay Chakrabarty and Mr Mukesh Sharda, Managing Partners of CSP, jointly said: "With this acquisition now complete, we are keenly looking forward to working with the Aegis management team to grow its global footprint and enhance its capabilities and excellence in service to its customers.”
 
Mr Sandip Sen, Global CEO , Aegis said, "I am thankful to the Essar management for incubating the BPO business and nurturing it through timely and strategic acquisitions. Essar’s support and guidance helped us grow and reach a stage where we could dream bigger and strive higher. I am very excited to have CSP join us as our new partners in Aegis’ growth journey.”
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 3572 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 3572 crore across various business segments.
 
These included a contract worth Rs. 1358 crore won by its Transportation Infrastructure Business for the construction of a new South Parallel runway, apron and associated works (taxiway systems, pavement, drainage works, ancillary buildings and associated infrastructure facilities) at the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis from Bangalore International Airport Limited, a press release from the company said.
 
The project scope consists construction of North Remote Stands, East Remote Stands, South Parallel Runway, Cross Field Taxiway and T2 Apron that are to be completed in phases, it said.
 
"This project reinforces L&T Construction leadership in the design and construction of world-class airports," it said.
 
According to the release, the company's Metallurgical & Material Handling Business bagged orders worth Rs. 1264 crore, including one from JSW Steel for building India’s largest Blast Furnace and Steel Melt Shop that forms the backbone of their expansion plan of the 5 MTPA steel plant at Dolvi. 
 
"L&T has been associated with JSW in their previous endeavours of capacity augmentation across the country and this prominent order reveals the confidence customers have in L&T’s capability to deliver projects within demanding time schedules," it said.
 
The business has also secured add on jobs from its existing customers and from its product business, it said.
 
The release said the Power Transmission & Distribution Business of L&T Construction had bagged orders worth Rs. 595 crore in the international market. These included a contract for the construction of a new 380 kV Switching Station in the Central Operating Area of the Saudi Electricity Company.
 
"In a significant breakthrough, an order has been secured from Morocco’s Office National de l'Electricité et de l'Eau Potable (ONEE) for the construction of a 225/60 kV sub-station at Dakhla (Morocco) with associated 60kV overhead lines and underground cables. The business has also won an order from the Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited for the electrification of nine counties in Kenya," it said.
 
The company's Buildings & Factories Business has secured orders worth Rs. 355 crore. They incldue an order from a healthcare firm to design and build the ‘Lucknow International Hospital’ at Lucknow, which will be equipped with world class healthcare facilities like radiology & Imaging, laboratories, OPD, electro-diagnostics, chemotherapy, 10 Operation Theatre complexes, Hybrid OT & Brain suites, ICUs, and so on. The scope of works involves architecture, civil, MEP, a medical gas pipeline system and external works.
 
The business has also received additional orders from various ongoing projects, the release added.
 
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India’s forex reserves rise by $ 240.4 million to $ 399.533 billion

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Maintaining an uptrend for the second consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 240.4 million to $ 399.533 billion during the week ended November 17, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had gone up by $ 554.2 million to $ 399.293 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had risen by $ 220.4 million to $ 375.096 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 20.667 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) fell by $ 7.9 million to $ 1.497 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rose by $ 12.1 million to $ 2.273 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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One dead, 9 injured as four-storeyed building collapses in Thane

 
One dead, nine injured in Bhiwandi building collapse
An 18-year-old girl died and nine others suffered injuries when a portion of a four-storeyed building collapsed in Bhiwandi in Thane district near here this morning.
 
The injured persons were rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment, official sources said.
 
The deceased girl was identified as Ruksa Ahmed Khan, 18, whose body was extricated from the rubble.
 
Rescue teams, including personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), were digging through the debris to look for survivors, they said.
 
The building, located in the crowded K.G. Nagar locality of Navi Vasti area, collapsed around 9 am, the sources said. Rescue teams had a difficult time reaching the spot because of the congested streets leading to it.
 
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Reliance closes sale of its assets in Marcellus shale play in north-east and central Pennsylvania

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Reliance Marcellus II, LLC, a subsidiary of Reliance Holding USA, Inc., and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), today announced the closing of recently announced sale of its interest in certain upstream assets which were operated by Carrizo Oil & Gas, Inc to BKV Chelsea LLC, an affiliate of Kalnin Ventures.
 
In the transaction announced on October 06, 2017, Reliance agreed to sell its entire working interest in these upstream assets to BKV Chelsea for purchase consideration of $126 million with an effective date of April 1, 2017. 
 
Additionally, under the definitive documents, a contingent amount of up to $11.25 million may be paid to Reliance between years 2018 to 2020 based on certain gas price thresholds being achieved.
 
"The transaction closed on November 21, 2017 and Reliance received the purchase consideration subject to usual and customary purchase price adjustments," a press release from Reliance said.
 
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RIL raises $ 800 million through bond sale after India's ratings upgrade

Reliance logo
Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today said it had raised $ 800 million through the sale of 10-year bonds, becoming the first company to take advantage of India's rating upgrade by Moody's Investors Service last week.
 
In a press release here, the Mukesh Ambani-led company said it had yesterday priced a "Rule 144A/Regulation S offering of US$ 800 million 3.667% Senior Unsecured Notes due 2027."
 
The company said it would use the proceeds to redeem its existing US$ 800 million 5.875% senior perpetual fixed rate unsecured notes pursuant to the terms of such notes.
 
The Notes have been assigned a rating of BBB+ (S&P) and Baa2 (Moody’s), the release said.
 
"The Notes have been priced at 130 basis points over the 10-year US Treasury Note, at a price of 100 to yield at 3.667%.  The Notes will be denominated in US dollars, and will bear fixed interest of 3.667% p.a., with interest payable semi-annually in arrears and shall rank pari passu with all other unsecured and unsubordinated obligations of the Company," the release said.
 
The company said this was the lowest coupon ever achieved by an Indian corporate for a 10-year issuance. It was the tightest ever spread over US Treasury for an Indian entity for a 10 year issuance and for a 10-year BBB corporate issuance from Asia ex-Japan since the global financial crisism the release said.
 
The Notes were over 1.6 times over-subscribed across 90 accounts. In terms of geographic distribution, the Notes were distributed 62% in Asia, 13% in Europe and 25% in the United States. In terms of investor distribution, the Notes were distributed to high quality fixed income accounts: 57% to fund managers, 26% to insurance companies and pension funds; 11% to banks and 6% to public sector, the release said.
 
Mr. V. Srikanth, Joint Chief Financial Officer of RIL, said, “This refinancing transaction was well received by high quality investors across asset managers, insurance companies and banks and helped us achieve substantial savings in interest cost over the life of the Notes. Issued against the backdrop of the upgrade of the country ratings by Moody’s, we successfully concluded a swift intra-day execution to capitalize on the market window. We are delighted to have issued 10 year bonds at the lowest coupon ever for an Indian corporate.”
 
BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and HSBC acted as Joint Global Coordinators. Barclays, J. P. Morgan and Standard Chartered Bank acted as Active Joint Bookrunners. ANZ, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole CIB, DBS Bank Ltd., Deutsche Bank, Mizuho Securities, Morgan Stanley, Scotiabank, SMBC Nikko and Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking acted as Passive Bookrunners, the release added.
 
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L&T Construction to build Mumbai Trans Harbour Link; order valued at Rs. 8,650 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said the Heavy Civil Infrastructure business vertical of its construction arm had bagged a major order worth Rs. 8,650 crore from Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for the construction of Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), Packages 01 & 03. 
 
The project involves construction of a 21.8 km bridge connecting Mumbai mainland with Navi Mumbai, a press release from the company said.
 
The project was won against stiff competition from renowned international and domestic companies, it said.
 
The package-01 of the contract involves the construction of a multi-level interchange at Sewri and a 6-lane marine bridge from Sewri to 10.38 km into the Mumbai bay, crossing over the Sewri mudflats, Pir Pau Jetty and Thane Creek channels. 
 
The contract, secured in partnership with IHI Corporation, Japan involves the construction of an Orthotropic Steel Deck crossing the various obligatory navigation channels which will be first of its kind in India.
 
The package-03, won by L&T on a standalone basis, involves the construction of a 3.6 Km, 6-lane land bridge at Navi Mumbai connecting National Highway-4B and State Highway-54 apart from the construction of Interchanges, Rail Over Bridges and Toll Plazas.
 
The proposed Mumbai Trans Harbour Link will serve as an economic gateway to Navi Mumbai connecting to Nhava Sheva Port, the Mumbai Pune Expressway and the Mumbai Goa Highway.
 
“Being a city with a very large population, Mumbai requires a number of important infrastructure to meet its ever-increasing needs and we are delighted to have bagged this very crucial mandate that will significantly improve connectivity in and around Mumbai,” said Mr. S. N. Subrahmanyan, CEO and MD, Larsen & Toubro. 
 
“We are grateful to MMRDA to have reposed their trust in us and we are confident of executing and delivering this landmark project to quality and in time,” he added.
 
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India’s forex reserves rise by $ 554.2 million to $ 399.293 billion

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Reversing a three-week downtrend, India’s foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 554.2 million to $ 399.293 billion during the week ended November 10, the Reserve Bank of India said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had dipped by $ 22.2 million to $ 398.739 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had risen by $ 555.8 million to $ 374.876 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 20.667 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) fell by $ 1.8 million to $ 1.489 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rose by $ 0.2 million to $ 2.261 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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TCS announces Internet of Things digital transformation partnership with Rolls-Royce

 
TCS, Rolls-Royce announce tie-up
IT services major Tata Consultancy Services and Rolls Royce, the market leader in high performance power systems, have announced the expansion of their long-standing partnership in order to exploit future data innovation opportunities.
 
The partnership will help Rolls-Royce accelerate its ‘Digital First’ vision, deliver further value to customers, improve existing services, accelerate development and deployment times and create new areas of growth, a press release from TCS said here on Wednesday.
 
This digital transformation for Rolls-Royce will be supported by TCS’ Connected Universe Platform, a platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering that accelerates the development and deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) applications. As part of this agreement, TCS will provide IoT digital platform capability, allowing data to be captured, shared and analysed more quickly across Rolls-Royce so that new products and services can be developed at pace. This will enable Rolls-Royce to use data to innovate within all of its businesses and collaborate more effectively with partners and customers, the release said.
 
Mr. Rajesh Gopinathan, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Tata Consultancy Services said: “TCS is honoured to be part of this continuing Digital Transformation journey for Rolls-Royce. TCS’ Connected Universe Platform with its Services and Solutions offer a wealth of functionalities that will allow Rolls-Royce to more easily develop, deploy, and launch products and services to the market quickly. Organisations are increasingly building upon a digital foundation to transform their businesses, and TCS is actively guiding our customers to become increasingly more Intelligent, Automated and Agile. TCS continues to be the global technology partner of choice for navigating and taking advantage of the opportunities in the new Business 4.0 era.”
 
Mr. Neil Crockett, Chief Digital Officer at Rolls-Royce, added: “This is an example of how we intend to unleash data innovation through collaboration. TCS is an outstanding partner with excellent experience in delivering a flexible and agile platform capability across many different markets. We expect to be able to realise both short-term and long-term benefits through collaboration with partners and customers on the TCS IoT Platform. It will allow us to take advantage of fast-paced data innovation – including accelerating our application of industrial artificial intelligence and a range of other cutting edge breakthrough opportunities.”
 
In addition, TCS and Rolls-Royce will build on their long-standing collaborative partnership by launching a world-class analytics and agile applications capability hub in Bangalore. TCS has also recently opened a new customer delivery centre in Derby, UK dedicated to servicing Rolls-Royce, and also will be supporting from its Global Delivery Centres Rolls-Royce sites across the UK, Germany, Nordics, Canada, Singapore and India, the release added.
 
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Paytm, ICICI Bank tie up to offer short term instant digital credit

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Payments platform Paytm and India's largest private sector bank by consolidated assets ICICI Bank have tied up a partnership to jointly launch ‘Paytm-ICICI Bank Postpaid’ to enable customers to access interest-free short-term digital credit.
 
"This new offering will enable millions of Paytm customers to get access to instant credit for the first time for everyday use-cases ranging from movies to bill payments to flights to physical goods," a press release from ICICI Bank said here today.
 
According to it, this is the country’s first tie-up between a scheduled commercial bank and a payments platform to offer digital credit to customers of the commerce platform instantly.
 
Paytm-ICICI Bank Postpaid is a digital credit account with instant activation: with no hassles of documentation or branch visit, while activation is fully online. There is no transaction, joining or hidden administration fees either, it said.
 
"Available 24x7 and on all days, it is based on a new Big Data based algorithm by ICICI Bank for real-time credit assessment of customers. The algorithm uses an intelligent combination of financial and digital behaviour of the customer including credit bureau check, purchase patterns, frequency of purchase to ascertain the credit – worthiness of a customer within a few seconds. Based on the credit-score of the customer, the bank offers upto 45 days interest-free credit limit. It ranges from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000, extendable upto Rs 20,000 based on the repayment history. Paytm-ICICI Bank Postpaid will also offer a quick checkout to customers with the Paytm Passcode," the release said.
 
As a start, Paytm-ICICI Bank Postpaid will offer the credit limit to select customers of the bank using the Paytm app. It will shortly be available to non-ICICI Bank customers using the Paytm app. 
 
Once the credit limit is set up for a customer, a consolidated bill is generated on the first day of the next month, which has to be paid by the 15th day of the same month. Customers can use their Paytm Wallet, debit card or internet banking of any bank for repayment of their dues, the release said.
 
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Mr. Anup Bagchi, Executive Director, ICICI Bank said, “ICICI Bank revolutionised the consumer loan business in the country. We provide a host of personal loans and credit cards to millions of customers. We are now witnessing two distinct new trends: One, many customers—who are new-to-credit and therefore, do not have a credit history-- are looking for short term credit.  Two, millions of young Indians are now buying products online. We have combined these two insights to bring out a novel proposition of giving short term credit to people, completely online and instantly. In this endeavour, we have leveraged upon Big Data to develop a new algorithm that instantly assesses the credit worthiness of customers using a combination of financial and digital parameters to sanction the credit line instantly. We are delighted to launch Paytm-ICICI Bank Postpaid, our first offering in this space in association with Paytm.”
 
Mr. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder & CEO - Paytm said, “It’s common for us to ask a trusted friend for money for frequent expenses and promise to pay later. These exchanges are based on trust that you will pay back as soon as you have access to money. We believe our customers are sincere with their payments and Paytm Postpaid will play a major role in helping them pay for their daily expenses on time. This will democratize access to credit including those with less disposable income. We are happy to launch credit in a digital way to the masses in the form of Paytm Postpaid with ICICI Bank as our first partner.”
 
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Tata Motors joins hands with EESL for energy saving measures

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Automobile manufacturers Tata Motors Limited has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Energy Efficiencies Services Limited (EESL) to achieve energy saving and resource conservation by implementing various energy efficiency initiatives across the company’s manufacturing facilities in India.
 
The energy efficiency programme will be implemented in Tata Motors’ manufacturing plants located at Pantnagar (Uttarakhand), Lucknow & Pune in the first phase, and will be later extended to other facilities, a press release from the company said.
 
EESL will undertake the complete upfront investment for the energy efficiency programme, with zero investment from Tata Motors. The overall implementation period for the programme will be two years, it said.
 
Mr Saurabh Kumar, MD, EESL, said, “Indian businesses are increasingly adopting energy efficiency measures and are significantly contributing to the efforts of the Government. This MoU is big step towards companies proactively adopting such simple yet effective measures. We are proud to partner with Tata Motors and enable them to become efficient in their energy use across facilities. I am sure we will see more and more industries come forward the similar manner to be benefited by higher efficiency in their facilities and at the same time contribute to the country’s journey towards being a low carbon economy. .
 
Mr. Guenter Butschek, CEO & MD, Tata Motors Ltd. said, “Tata Motors has always been at the forefront of energy conservation initiatives. By executing innovative and sustainable solutions such as re-cycling of treated effluents, hazardous waste management and rainwater harvesting, Tata Motors has optimized its operations and ensured optimum resource utilization. Collaborating with EESL is a step further in this direction. By implementing energy efficient solutions, we are accelerating our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint in the form of lower greenhouse gas emissions, towards a cleaner future.”
 
The MoU covers such areas as diagnostic studies & pilot projects; energy audits for selected plant facilities to identify avenues for energy saving in electrical and thermal utilities; water audits to identify areas/means to reduce specific water consumption; pilot studies on cross-cutting technologies like tri-generation or VAM system for existing chiller based AC installation; waste heat recovery system; and fuel switching: electrical to gas and conventional to non-conventional.
 
Other highlights include implementation of energy efficiency projects through innovative financial models; installation/distribution of LED lights and energy efficient appliances (fans and/or air-conditioners) across the facilities of TML, and supply-chain entities; installation of energy efficient motors (IE3 type) in place of conventional motors; and installation of smart meters.
 
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L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering wins Rs. 1267 crore contract from ONGC

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L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering Limited (LTHE), a wholly-owned subsidiary of infrastructure and  constructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T), has bagged an offshore contract for the Balance Work for Pipeline Replacement Project-4 from public sector Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) valued at approximately Rs. 1,267 crore (about $ 194 million).
 
The contract, won against international competitive bidding, encompasses total Engineering, Procurement, Construction, Installation and Commissioning (EPCIC) for the project, a press release from L&T said.
 
The project is  part of ONGC’s strategy to replace some of its well fluid, gas lift and water injection pipelines along with brownfield modification works on existing platforms in its Mumbai High, Neelam, Heera and Bassein & Satellite Fields which are situated in the Western Offshore field in the Arabian Sea on the continental shelf of Western India.
 
"L&T has been serving the upstream hydrocarbon sector since the early ’90s. This contract reiterates the long term association of ONGC with L&T in the development of offshore fields in India. The company’s offshore track record includes successful completion of several challenging projects for domestic and international clients.
 
"LTHE provides complete ‘EPCIC’ solutions for the offshore oil & gas industry combining customized engineering, procurement, fast-track project management and world-class fabrication and sea installation capabilities meeting stringent timelines, conforming to international safety standards," the release added.
 
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India’s forex reserves fall by $ 22.2 million to $ 398.739 billion

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Maintaining a downtrend for the third consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 22.2 million to $ 398.739 billion during the week ended November 3, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had fallen by $.1.159 billion to $ 398.761 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had risen by $ 547.8 million to $ 374.320 billion during the week.
 
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves had fallen by $ 573.6 million to $ 20.667 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRS) increased by $ 1.4 million to $ 1.491 billion.
 
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rose by $ 2.2 million to $ 2.261 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 4023 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders worth Rs. 4023 crore across various business segments.
 
A press release from the company said its Heavy Civil Infrastructure Business had bagged orders cumulatively worth Rs. 1906 crore, including a major government order worth ? 1824 crores in a joint venture with an international partner - Seaport Dredging Private Limited - for the construction of various marine facilities.
 
In addition, L&T Geostructure, an arm of the Heavy Civil Infrastructure business, has bagged an order from the public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) for the execution of piling works for the Ennore SEZ Super Thermal Power Project in Chennai, it said.
 
The company said its Buildings & Factories Business had bagged an order worth Rs. 830 crore from a reputed client for the construction of a cancer hospital in Muscat, Oman, which will be equipped with high end facilities like ICUs, High Dependency Units, Chemotherapy bays, Medical Imaging units, Oncology Radiation units, and so on.
 
The release said the company's Water & Effluent Treatment Business had received engineering, procurement & construction orders worth Rs.  788 crore. An order has been secured from Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam for the construction of the Kanpur Water Carrier System. The scope includes survey, design, laying of water pipeline system, intake structures and other allied works for conveying raw water from Bidhnu canal to an upcoming thermal power plant at Kanpur.
 
Two orders have been received from Public Health Engineering Department of a major state to provide Rural Water and Fluorosis mitigation. The scope includes supply, laying & commissioning of distribution network, construction of clear water reservoirs, elevated storage reservoirs and house service connections.
 
The company said its Power Transmission & Distribution Business had  bagged orders worth Rs. 342 crore. An order has been bagged from Nepal Electricity Authority for the design, supply, installation and commissioning of the Kushma – New Butwal 220 kV Transmission Line which will help to meet the power demand of central Nepal and also enable cross-border power exchange. Advanced High Temperature Low Sag conductors are to be used in the project. This order has been secured under the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Power System Expansion Project amidst stiff international competition, it said.
 
Additional orders have been bagged from ongoing projects of the business. 
 
The Smart World Communication Business has has bagged an order worth Rs. 157 crore from Raipur Smart City Limited for the implementation of Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS), City Surveillance System and Integrated Command Control Centre in Raipur City. The scope of work also includes smart elements of Public Address, Emergency Call Box, Adaptive Traffic Control System, Smart Poles and Wi-Fi Access Points, the release added.
 
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India's gold demand drops by 24% to 145.9 tonnes in Q3 2017: WGC

 
Demand for gold in India for the third quarter (Q3) of 2017 fell by 24% to 145.9 tonnes (t) from 192.8t in the same quarter of 2016 as the newly introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST) and tighter anti-money laundering regulations deterred buyers, the World Gold Council's latest Gold Demand Trends report said today.
 
The report said India's gold demand value in Q3, ended September, fell 30% to Rs. 38,540 crore from Rs. 55,390 crore in Q3 2016.
 
According to it, total jewellery demand in India for Q3 2017 was down by 25% at 114.9t as compared to 152.7t in the same quarter last year. The value of jewellery demand was Rs 30,340 crores, down by 31% from Q3 2016 (Rs. 43,880 crore).
 
Total investment demand for Q3 2017 was down by 23% at 31t in comparison to Q3 2016 (40.1t). In value terms, gold investment demand was Rs. 8,200 crores, down by 29% from Q3 2016 (Rs. 11,520 crores), it said.
 
Total gold recycled in India in Q3 2017 was 26.7t , as compared to 25.7t tonnes in Q3 2016.
 
The report said the full-year market expectations of gold demand in India was 650-750t.
 
"Tax and regulatory changes in India weighed on domestic gold demand. The new GST regime deterred consumers, as did new anti-money laundering regulations governing jewellery retail transactions.
 
"Inflows into gold-backed ETFs stalled: holdings grew by just 19t. Investors continued to favour gold’s risk-hedging properties, but the greater focus was on buoyant stock markets," the report said.
 
Mr. Somasundaram PR, Managing Director, India, World Gold Council said: "India’s gold demand was down 24% YoY to 146t in Q3 2017, as the newly introduced Goods & Services Tax (GST) and anti-money laundering legislation (AML) around jewellery retail transactions deterred gold buyers. After three consecutive quarters of growth, jewellery demand fell by 25% to 115t YoY in Q3; bar and coin demand also fell by 23% to 31t."
 
"The drop can be attributed partly to some advance buying in Q2 to pre-empt the introduction of GST in Q3. However, with the industry’s gradual transition to GST proceeding on expected lines, and the removal of AML legislation, demand during the festive season seems to show clear signs of recovery in Q4. This is also underpinned by the faster growth in imports ahead of demand, and price factors in the market.
 
"Headwinds for demand continue though, following various measures since early 2016 to boost transparency, and therefore we expect full year demand in 2017 to be well below the 5-year average, our estimate being between 650 to 750 tonnes, the lower end of the range being more likely," he added.
 
The council said overall global gold demand fell 9% to 915 tonnes in Q3 2017 from 1,001t in Q3 2016 due to a softer quarter in in the jewellery sector and significantly lower inflows into exchange traded funds (ETFs) from uprecedented highs in 2016.
 
Global jewellery demand was down 3% year-on- year in Q3. While ETFs had another quarter of positive inflows, these fell far short of the remarkable 144t influx into the sector in Q3 2016. By contrast, demand from other sectors consolidated: central bank demand was healthy in Q3, up 25% year-on- year to 111t, while bar and coin investment strengthened by 17% to 222t, albeit from a low base.
 
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"Gold jewellery demand fell in Q3 2017. A weak quarter in India was the main reason for the year-on- year decline in global demand, down from 495t in Q3 2016 to 479t in Q3 2017. Jewellery volumes continue to languish below longer-term average levels," the report said.
 
Gold bar and coin demand growth was driven in large part by China. Global investment in bars and coins rose by 17%, from relatively weak year-earlier levels. Mainland investors in China bought on price dips, clocking up a fourth consecutive quarter of growth.
 
Central bank demand of 111t in Q3 was 25% higher year-on- year. Russia and Turkey together added nearly 95t of gold to global official reserves. Volumes of gold used in technology increased for the fourth consecutive quarter. Strong demand for LEDs and continued growth in the use of 3D sensors in new smartphones boosted demand by 2%.
 
Mr. Alistair Hewitt, Head of Market Intelligence at the World Gold Council, commented: “It was a tough quarter for gold demand. India was coming to terms with GST and anti-money laundering regulations and, although we saw ETF inflows at 19t, they were significantly lower than last year. But there were some real bright spots: retail investment demand in China grew for the fourth consecutive quarter; the Turkish and Russian central banks added to gold reserves; and, after years of declines, we also saw increased use of gold in technology, supported by the demand for high-end smartphones.”
 
The report said total supply of gold fell 2% in Q3 2017. Mine production fell 1% year-on- year in Q3, which was also the fifth consecutive quarter of net de-hedging. Recycling activity continued to normalise after jumping in 2016.
 
Some of the other key findings included in the report are:
 
• Total consumer demand rose by 2% to 701t, from 686t in the same period last year
• Total investment demand fell 28% to 241t compared with 335t in Q3 2016
• Global jewellery demand dropped 3% to 479t, from 495t in the same period last year
• Central bank demand climbed 25% to 111t compared with 89t in Q3 2016
• Demand in the technology sector increased 2% to 84t compared with 83t in Q3 2016
• Total supply was down 2% to 1,146t, from 1,168t in the same period last year
• Recycling fell 6% to 315t compared with 335t in Q3 2016
 
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GoAir adds 15 new flights to winter schedule, launches service from Jammu to Leh

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Low-cost carrier GoAir has added 15 new flights in its winter schedule, including the first daily service between Jammu and Leh from October 29.
 
The airline said in a press release that it had, from that date, also increased frequencies on flights on the Mumbai-Patna and Delhi-Chandigarh sectors, among others.
 
"This is in sync keeping in mind the response to growing demand from the corporate travelers and upcoming holidays for leisure travellers. With the introduction of the winter schedule, the airline will increase its operations by 26% to 1544 flights per week," it said.
 
Launched in November 2005, GoAir is the aviation foray of the Wadia Group and currently operates across 23 destinations with over 1544 weekly flights and approximately 2,000 plus connections weekly. 
 
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India’s forex reserves dip by $ 1.159 billion to $ 398.761 billion

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Maintaining a downward trend for the second consecutive week, India’s foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 1.159 billion to $ 398.761 billion during the week ended October 27, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country’s forex reserves had fallen by $ 375.8 million to $ 399.921 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement today, the central bank said that foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had gone down by $ 1.135 billion to $373.772 billion during the week.
 
Foreign currency assets expressed in US dollar terms include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen held in the reserves.
 
According to the bulletin, the country’s gold reserves remained unchanged at $ 21.240 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) decreased by $ 9.6 million to $ 1.490 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fell by $ 14.4 million to $ 2.258 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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HCC-Al Fara'a JV awarded Rs. 497 crore contract for Pune Metro

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Infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company Ltd. (HCC), as a lead partner in the joint venture (JV) with Al Fara'a, has been awarded a Rs.  497.09 crore contract by the Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Ltd for the Pune Metro Rail Project. 
 
HCC’s share in the JV is 51% (Rs 253.5 crore). The project is to be completed in 110 weeks, a press release from the company said here today
 
The contract is for construction of nine elevated metro stations -- Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, Tukaram Nagar, Bhosari, Kasarwadi, Phugewadi, Dapoli, Bopodi, Khadki and Range Hill. The work involves general and structural civil works of the station buildings and architectural and site development, it said.
 
The total length of Pune Metro – Phase I is 32 km. It is divided between Line I of 16.59 km and Line II of 14.66 km. The Line I is partly elevated and partly underground starting from Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation to Swargate. All elevated stations on the Line I are being constructed by the HCC-Al Fara'a JV, the release said.
 
“We are honored to be a part of this prestigious project with MMRCL, which is the testimony to our proven execution excellence and capabilities across Mumbai Metro, Delhi Metro and Kolkata Metro. The project will bring relief to millions of commuters and will assist in easing the severe traffic congestion in the city,” said Mr. Arun Karambelkar, President & CEO - E&C, HCC Ltd.
 
HCC has been associated with six packages of Delhi Metro totaling 18.14 km of tunnels and 13 underground stations. In Kolkata Metro, HCC has constructed 6.47 km tunnels in six packages that include four underground stations. In Mumbai Metro I, the company has built eight elevated stations. 
 
Currently, HCC is executing a section of Mumbai Metro Line III, involving 3,115 m long twin bored tunnels including four underground stations and a section of Bangalore Metro Rail Project involving 6,340 m long elevated corridor including a road-cum-rail flyover and five metro stations, the release added.
 
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SBI reduces home and auto loan interest rates by 5 bps

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State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, has reduced home loan and auto loan interest rates by 5 basis points.
 
A press release from the bank said it had reduced home loan rates from 8.35% to 8.30% per annum. Auto loans will now be offered at a starting interest rate of 8.70% per annum as compared to 8.75% earlier.
 
"With this reduction, SBI's offering in home loan is the lowest in the market. The new rates will be effective from November 1, 2017," the release said.
 
Mr. P. K. Gupta, Managing Director, Retail and Digital Banking, SBI said, “SBI has always been at the forefront in the passing the benefit to the customers. With this reduction in rates, we are offering lowest rates for most of our product offering in the retail loans. Lower rates along with wide distribution network and use of digital technology to enhance customer experience is a perfect package for any retail loan customer.”
 
The release said the effective interest rate for all eligible salaried customers will be 8.30% per annum for loans upto Rs. 30 lakh. Rates have been reduced by 5 bps in all the brackets. Over and above of 8.30% rate, an eligible home loan customer can also avail of an interest subsidy of Rs. 2.67 lakh under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana scheme.  
 
For car loan customer, the loan amount ranges from 8.70% per annum to 9.20% per annum compared to earlier range of 8.75% to 9.25% per annum. The exact rate depends on the amount of loan and the credit score of the individual, the release added.
 
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Army to help build new foot overbridge at Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai

 
Army to help build new bridge at Elphinstone Road station
The Indian Army will help build a new foot overbridge (FOB) at the Elphinstone Road station in Mumbai where 23 people people and more than 30 others suffered injuries in a stampede on September 29 -- and two other stations in the city -- a move that has attracted strong criticism from the Opposition.
 
The decision was announced by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis after a visit to the station where the tragedy had occurred because of overcrowding on one of the FOBs.
 
Mr. Goyal told reporters that, after the incident at Elphinstone Road station, the Railways had drawn up a report on safety of commuters. "Now action is being taken," he said.
 
He said the Army would help in constructing three FOBs at Elphinstone Road, Currey Road and Ambivali stations. He said the work would be completed by January 31, 2018.
 
Both Mr. Goyal and Ms. Sitharaman thanked the Army for readily agreeing to the request for their help in this matter. Army officials were present during the visit of the three leaders to the station.
 
While the Congress and other Opposition parties criticised the move to use the Armed Forces for such work, the Government said it had always relied on the Armed Forces during such crises.
 
They said the Army had strong expertise in the construction of roads and bridges and had come to the aid of civilian authorities in such areas in the past.
 
Punjab Chief Minister and Congress leader Amarinder Singh, an ex-Army man, was critical of the decision and said it amounted to an admission of failure on the part of the Government and the Railways. He said the Army's job was to train for war, not to be used for civilian works. "Don't divert defence resources to civilian jobs," he said.
 
Former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the army was meant to be a measure of last resort to be called upon in extreme emergency. "Now it seems like it's the 1st number on the speed dial," he said on Twitter.
 
In their defence, the government cited instances where the Army had been called in to help civilian authorities in the past. They said the armed forces played such roles in foreign countries, too.
 
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