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Rajnish Kumar appointed as Chairman of State Bank of India

Rajnish Kumar
Rajnish Kumar
Mr. Rajnish Kumar, Managing Director, State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, has been appointed as its Chairman, succeeding Ms. Arundhati Bhattacharya.
 
"The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the proposal of the Department of Financial Services for appointment of Mr. Rajnish Kumar, Managing Director (MD), State Bank of India as Chairman, State Bank of India (SBI)," a notification from the Department of Personnel and Training, said.
 
The appointment will be for a period of three years from the date of his taking over charge of the post on or after October 7, or until further orders, whichever is earlier, the notification added.
 
“It is indeed an honour to be entrusted with the leadership of SBI at a time when India is best poised for growth. I look forward to serving  the bank to the best of my abilities along with the support of all my colleagues spread across the globe," Mr. Kumar said.
 
Mr. Kumar has been Managing Director of SBI since May 26, 2015. Currently, he is looking after retail banking and latest initiatives in payments and digital banking. Prior to that, he headed SBI Capital Markets Ltd., which is the merchant banking arm of SBI, in the capacity of MD & CEO.
 
Mr. Kumar, who has an M. Sc. in Physics and is a Certified Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers (CAIIB), has been with SBI for over three decades, having joined the bank as a probationary officer in 1980. He has held several key assignments across various business verticals, including two overseas assignments in Canada and the United Kingdom. He has vast experience in handling large credit, project finance, forex and retail banking. He has also held important positions such as Regional Head - SBI (UK); Chief General Manager - North East Circle, Chief General Manager - project Finance and Managing Director (Risk & Compliance). 
 
Ms. Bhattacharya had assumed charge as Chairperson of SBI on October 7, 2013. She was given a one-year extension in tenure last year.
 
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RBI keeps key policy repo rate unchanged at 6.0 percent

The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday decided to keep its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility unchanged at 6.0 percent in keeping with its aim of keeping inflation under control while supporting growth.

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today decided to keep its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.0 percent in keeping with its aim of keeping inflation under control while supporting growth.
 
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.25 per cent.
 
"The decision of the MPC is consistent with a neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth," the central bank said in its Fourth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2017-18 on the basis of the resolution of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
 
The resolution said the decision was taken on the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation at a meeting of the MPC here today.
 
The statement said that, among the MPC members, Dr. Chetan Ghate, Dr. Pami Dua, Dr. Michael Debabrata Patra, Dr. Viral V. Acharya and RBI Governor Urjit R. Patel were in favour of the monetary policy decision, while Dr. Ravindra H. Dholakia voted for a policy rate reduction of at least 25 basis points. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by October 18, 2017.
 
The MPC resolution noted that, in August, headline inflation was projected at 3 per cent in Q2 and 4.0-4.5 per cent in the second half of 2017-18. Actual inflation outcomes so far have been broadly in line with projections, though the extent of the rise in inflation excluding food and fuel has been somewhat higher than expected. 
 
"The inflation path for the rest of 2017-18 is expected to be shaped by several factors. First, the assessment of food prices going forward is largely favourable, though the first advance estimates of kharif production pose some uncertainty. Early indicators show that prices of pulses which had declined significantly to undershoot trend levels in recent months, have now begun to stabilise. Second, some price revisions pending the goods and services tax (GST) implementation have been taking place. Third, there has been a broad-based increase in CPI inflation excluding food and fuel. Finally, international crude prices, which had started rising from early July, have firmed up further in September. 
 
"Taking into account these factors, inflation is expected to rise from its current level and range between 4.2-4.6 per cent in the second half of this year, including the house rent allowance by the Centre," the statement said.
 
The resolution said that, as noted in the August policy, there are factors that continue to impart upside risks to this baseline inflation trajectory: (a) implementation of farm loan waivers by States may result in possible fiscal slippages and undermine the quality of public spending, thereby exerting pressure on prices; and (b) States’ implementation of the salary and allowances award is not yet considered in the baseline projection; an increase by States similar to that by the Centre could push up headline inflation by about 100 basis points above the baseline over 18-24 months, a statistical effect that could have potential second round effects. 
 
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"However, adequate food stocks and effective supply management by the Government may keep food inflation more benign than assumed in the baseline," it said.
 
Turning to growth projections, the statement said the loss of momentum in Q1 of 2017-18 and the first advance estimates of kharif foodgrains production are early setbacks that impart a downside to the outlook. 
 
"The implementation of the GST so far also appears to have had an adverse impact, rendering prospects for the manufacturing sector uncertain in the short term. This may further delay the revival of investment activity, which is already hampered by stressed balance sheets of banks and corporates. 
 
"Consumer confidence and overall business assessment of the manufacturing and services sectors surveyed by the Reserve Bank weakened in Q2 of 2017-18; on the positive side, firms expect a significant improvement in business sentiment in Q3. Taking into account the above factors, the projection of real GVA growth for 2017-18 has been revised down to 6.7 per cent from the August 2017 projection of 7.3 per cent, with risks evenly balanced," it said.
 
"Imparting an upside to this baseline, household consumption demand may get a boost from upward salary and allowances revisions by states. Teething problems linked to the GST and bandwidth constraints may get resolved relatively soon, allowing growth to accelerate in H2. On the downside, a faster than expected rise in input costs and lack of pricing power may put further pressure on corporate margins, affecting value added by industry. Moreover, consumer confidence of households polled in the Reserve Bank’s survey has weakened in terms of the outlook on employment, income, prices faced and spending incurred," it said.
 
The MPC observed that CPI inflation has risen by around two percentage points since its last meeting. These price pressures have coincided with an escalation of global geopolitical uncertainty and heightened volatility in financial markets due to the US Fed’s plans of balance sheet unwinding and the risk of normalisation by the European Central Bank. 
 
"Such juxtaposition of risks to inflation needs to be carefully managed. Although the domestic food price outlook remains largely stable, generalised momentum is building in prices of items excluding food, especially emanating from crude oil. The possibility of fiscal slippages may add to this momentum in the future," the statement said.
 
The MPC also acknowledged the likelihood of the output gap widening, but requires more data to better ascertain the transient versus sustained headwinds in the recent growth prints. Accordingly, the MPC decided to keep the policy rate unchanged. The MPC also decided to keep the policy stance neutral and monitor incoming data closely.
 
"The MPC remains committed to keeping headline inflation close to 4 per cent on a durable basis.
 
"The MPC was of the view that various structural reforms introduced in the recent period will likely be growth augmenting over the medium- to long-term by improving the business environment, enhancing transparency and increasing formalisation of the economy.
 
"The Reserve Bank continues to work towards the resolution of stressed corporate exposures in bank balance sheets which should start yielding dividends for the economy over the medium term," it said.
 
The MPC reiterated that it is imperative to reinvigorate investment activity which, in turn, would revive the demand for bank credit by industry as existing capacities get utilised and the requirements of new capacity open up to be financed. 
 
"Recapitalising public sector banks adequately will ensure that credit flows to the productive sectors are not impeded and growth impulses not restrained. In addition, the following measures could be undertaken to support growth and achieve a faster closure of the output gap: a concerted drive to close the severe infrastructure gap; restarting stalled investment projects, particularly in the public sector; enhancing ease of doing business, including by further simplification of the GST; and ensuring faster rollout of the affordable housing program with time-bound single-window clearances and rationalisation of excessively high stamp duties by states," it said.
 
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Kovind attends function to declare urban Maharashtra open defecation free

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President Ram Nath Kovind today attended a function organised here to declare urban Maharashtra open defecation free (ODF).
 
During a visit to Maharashtra, Mr. Kovind also inaugurated the Shirdi airport and the centenary year celebrations of the samadhi of Sai Baba.
 
Speaking at the function in Mumbai, the President said a healthy and prosperous India could be built only on the foundations of a clean India. 
 
He congratulated the Government and Chief Minister of Maharashtra on the occasion of urban Maharashtra being declared Open Defecation Free. 
 
He congratulated all the members of the “Swachh Maharashtra Team” and those who worked hard on the ground to achieve this goal and had kept to the commitment of a two-year deadline, set on October 2, 2015. He stated that such success is possible only with the cooperation and participation of all stakeholders.
 
The President said that the declaration of 'ODF' Urban Maharashtra is particularly relevant for the state as 49 per cent of Maharashtra’s people live in urban areas. ‘Smart Cities’, he said, also require ‘Smart Sanitation’ and ‘Smart Waste Management’. 
 
Mr. Kovind added that it was a matter of great satisfaction that the Government is focusing on sustainability of this successful campaign. The ‘OD Watch’ monitoring will be useful in alerting people and helping them quit old habits and not relapsing to open defecation. He hoped that just as the state has been successful in realising the goal of 'ODF', it would also realise the goal of 'Managing 100 per cent Waste'. 
 
The President said that tomorrow is Gandhi Jayanti and Maharashtra has paid a befitting tribute to Gandhiji by declaring urban Maharashtra Open Defecation Free today.
 
Speaking in Shirdi, the President said that Sai Baba attracted people from every caste, religion, sect and class. Using simple phrases such as ‘Sabka Malik Ek Hai’, Sai Baba explained the philosophy of 'Advaita' to the common man. The influence of Sai Baba can be seen all over the world.
 
The President added that along with ‘spiritual connectivity’, the country also needed ‘physical connectivity’ through large infrastructure projects. He commended the building of the airport as a measure that would help pilgrims and visitors as well as trigger economic activity and job creation in Shirdi. He hoped that people in large numbers would use the Shirdi International Airport inaugurated today.
 
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Air India subsidiary Alliance Air links Shirdi to Mumbai, Hyderabad

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Alliance Air, the wholly owned subsidiary of national carrier Air India, today linked the pilgrimage town of Shirdi in Maharashtra to Mumbai and Hyderabad with an ATR 72 aircraft.
 
The first flight AI 9654 from Shirdi to Mumbai was flagged off by President Ram Nath Kovind.
 
Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajpati Raju and Maharashtra Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis launched the flight by giving away the boarding passes to passengers along with Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal and senior Air India officials.  
 
The flight from Mumbai to Shirdi and return will operate daily with an ATR 72 aircraft. Flight AI 9653 will depart Mumbai at 0830 hours to reach Shirdi at 0915hrs and the return flight will depart Shirdi at 0945 hrs to arrive in Mumbai at 1105 hrs on Wednesday,Friday and Sundays. 
 
On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays the flight AI 9653 will leave Mumbai at 1520 hrs to arrive in Shirdi at 1605 hrs and leave Shirdi at 1630 hrs to arrive in Mumbai at 1715 hrs.
 
The flight from Hyderabad to Shirdi and return will operate on all days except Thursdays with the ATR 72 aircraft. The flight AI 9869 will leave Hyderabad at 1410 hrs to arrive in Shirdi at 1600 hours and the return flight AI 9870 will depart Shirdi at 1630 hrs to arrive in Hyderabad at 1815 hrs. 
 
"This flight will also give a boost to tourism and will fulfill a long standing demand of travellers to this pilgrimage town.These new connections by Alliance Air will lend a further boost to the national carrier's Connect India mission," a press release from the airline added.
 
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Kovind to visit Shirdi and Mumbai in Maharashtra on Sunday

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President Ram Nath Kovind will visit Shirdi and Mumbai in Maharashtra tomorrow, an official press release said here today.
 
In Shirdi, the President will inaugurate the Shirdi international airport and flag off a flight from Shirdi to Mumbai. Later, he will also inaugurate the centenary year celebrations of Samadhi of Shri Sai Baba. 
 
In Mumbai, the President will attend a function organised to declare urban Maharashtra open defecation free (ODF), before returning to Delhi, the release added.
 
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Day after Mumbai stampede, Goyal holds high-level meeting on railway safety

A day after at least 22 persons died in a stampede on a foot overbridge at the Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai on Friday, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal chaired a high-level meeting on railways safety on Saturday at which several major decisions were taken to ensure such incidents did not recur.

A view of the rush on the foot overbridge at the Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai on September 29, 2017shortly before a stampede claimed the lives of 22 people and left more than 30 others injured.
A view of the rush on the foot overbridge at the Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai on September 29, 2017shortly before a stampede claimed the lives of 22 people and left more than 30 others injured.
A day after at least 22 persons died and more than 35 others suffered injuries in a stampede on a foot overbridge at the Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai yesterday, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal chaired a high-level meeting on railways safety here today at which several major decisions were taken to ensure such incidents did not recur.
 
The meeting, held at the headquarters of Western Railway at Churchgate here, conducted a comprehensive review of safety measures in the Mumbai Suburban Railways network as well as the entire Indian Railways, an official press release said.
 
The release said the decisions taken today accorded the highest priority to safety and would empower railway officers to take strong measures to improve passenger safety and security.
 
According to the release, foot overbridges (FOBs), platforms and pathways at the end of the platform would be treated as safety items having the highest priority, with no restriction of budget. Earlier, only the first FOB at a station was considered as essential and subsequent ones as passenger amenities.
 
The release said that, for the next 18 months, General Managers of Railway zones have been delegated powers without limit for safety related issues. They shall intimate Financial Commissioner (FC) within a week of sanction for provision, and FC shall confirm the same within 15 days. In case of disagreement, the matter shall be put up to the Railway Board for final decision within the same 15 days. 
 
Additional escalators sanctioned at stations of the Mumbai Suburban system having high footfall with the details to be finalised within 15 days. Similar exercise will be carried out for all high use stations all over India. 
 
As many as 200 officers will be relocated from headquarters to field positions to strengthen ground operations and project implementation. 
 
The release said "brilliant and enthusiastic" Station Directors would be posted at 75 stations all over India to bring dynamism in operations. 
 
Within the next 15 months, CCTV cameras will be installed in all suburban trains in Mumbai with monitoring mechanism. This shall be done in parallel across India as well. 
 
Delegation of financial and administration powers to field units will be done by October 2017 to reduce red tape and push development and delivery. 
 
"These steps will lead to improvement in the functioning and operations of railways to ensure improvement in the standards of safety," the release said.
 
Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani and all Railway Board Members were present at the meeting along with Mr. A. K. Gupta, General Manager of Western Railway and Mr. D. K. Sharma, General Manager of Central Railway, both headquartered in Mumbai, and security officials from the State Government.
 
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Yesterday's tragedy has evoked anger across Mumbai and other parts of the country, drawing attention as it did to the pathetic conditions that rail travellers have to endure as a matter of routine.
 
What caused even more concern was that the need for improvement of the overbridge at Elphinstone Road station and creation of additional facilities had been repeatedly pointed out by elected representatives, the media and others, but there had been no action.
 
The mishap occurred when two or suburban trains arrived at the station around the same time at about 10.30 am yesterday and heavy rains led to a huge rush of people on a narrow staircase leading to the North foot overbridge at the station, which ultimately led to the stampede.
 
The presence of hawkers with their wares on the bridge and a leaking roof on the staircase added to the problems, eyewitnesses told journalists at the scene.
 
The situation was aggravated by the fact that people were not evacuating the overbridge quickly enough because of the rains, the sources said.
  
The Elphinstone Road station, on the Western Railway's suburban rail network, gets crowded during peak hours because it caters to office-goers in the Lower Parel area. The foot overbridge connects the Elphinstone Road station on the Western Railway to the Parel station on the Central Railway. The station offers one of the few interchange points between the two networks and is, therefore, crowded at most times.
 
The tragedy occurred on a day when Railways Minister Piyush Goyal was due to launch 100 additional suburban train services on the Mumbai suburban network of Western Railway and Central Railway.
 
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Well-known actor Tom Alter passes away

Tom Alter
Tom Alter
Well-known film and theatre actor Tom Alter passed away at his residence here on Friday after losing a battle with skin cancer.
 
He was 67. He is survived by his wife Carol Evans, son Jamie Alter, a sports journalist, and daughter Afshaan.
 
According to sources, Alter was being treated for stage four of squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, at a Mumbai hospital, where he had been admitted earlier this month. He returned home on Thursday and breathed his last on Friday night, they said.
 
"It is with sadness we announce the death of Tom Alter, actor, writer, director, Padma Shri, and our dear husband and father. Tom passed away Friday night at home with his family and close family members in attendance. We ask for their privacy to be respected at this time," a statement issued by the family said.
 
During an illustrious career of more than four decades, Alter acted in more than 300 movies and in several television series and plays.
 
Thomas Beach Alter was born on June 22, 1950 at Landour near Musoorie, now in Uttarakhand, to American Christian missionaries of English and Scottish ancestry, who had made India their home.
 
His grandparents migrated to India from Ohio, United States in November 1916, arriving first in Madras, now Chennai and later settling down in Lahore. His father was born in Sialkot, now in Pakistan.
 
After the partition of India, his parents moved to India and lived in Allahabad, Jabalpur and Saharanpur before finally settling down in Rajpur, a small town between Dehradun and Mussoorie in present-day Uttarakhand in 1954. His elder sister, Martha Chen, has a PhD in South Asian Studies from University of Pennsylvania and teaches at Harvard University. His brother John is a poet and a teacher.
 
Alter picked up fluent Hindi at Woodstock School in Mussoorie and later went to study at Yale, but returned after a year. He worked as a school teacher and worked at various other jobs, but somewhere along the way was bitten by the Hindi film bug, especially after watching Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana. He finally ended up enrolling at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune and studied acting there from 1972-74 with  Naseeruddin Shah, Benjamin Gilani and Shabana Azmi among his fellow-students.
 
He made his debut in HIndi movies in 1976 with a small role in Charas and went on to appear in films such as Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Gandhi, Krant, Bose: The Forgotten Hero, Veer Zara, Junoon, Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Aashiqui, Gumrah, Sardar, Kala Pani and Parinda. He worked with top directors such as Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Raj Kapoor, Manoj Kumar, V. Shataram, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai, Subhash Ghai, Chetan Anand, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Mahesh Bhatt and Ketan Mehta.
 
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He also acted in several films in Bengali, Assamese, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kumaoni. Foreign films he appeared in included Gandhi and One Night with the King.
 
He also appeared in the much-acclaimed television series Zabaan Sambhalke (1993-97), an adaptation of the British sitcom Mind Your Language, which also featured Pankaj Kapoor. He was also part of TV shows such as Shaktiman and Captain Vyom, which were popular with children. He also did the role of the gangster Keshav Kalsi in the hit television series Junoon in the 1990s.
 
He remained active in theatre throughout his career and played Mirza Ghalib in the play Ghalib in Delhi.
 
In 1977, Naseeruddin Shah, Benjamin Gilani and he formed a theatre group called Motley Productions, which has produced many plays over the years. He also worked with New Delhi theatre group Pierrot's Troupe.
 
Among other things, he dabbled in direction and also worked as a sports journalist in the 1980s and 1990s. He has written three books, including two works of fiction.
 
The Government honoured him with the Padma Shri, the country's fourth highest civilian honour, in 2008 for his services to the field of arts and cinema.
 
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Railways issue lists of deceased, injured in Elphinstone Road station stampede

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Following are the lists issued by the Western Railway of those who died and those who suffered injuries in the stampede at the Elphinstone Road station here today.
 
Deceased passengers:
 
1. Mukesh Mishra (M) 
2. Shubhalata Shetty (F)
3. Sujata Shetty (F)
4. Sachin Kadam (M)
5. Mayresh Haldankar (M)
6. Ankush Jaiswal (M)
7. Jyotiba Chavan (M)
8. Suresh Jaiswal (M)
9. Teressa Fernandes (F)
10. Rohit Parab (M)
11. Alex Curia (M)
12. Hiloni Dedhia (F)
13. Chandan Ganesh Singh (M)
14. Mohammad Shakeel (M)
15. Shraddha Varpe (F)
16. Mina Varunkar (F)
17. Masood Alam (M)
 
(Five bodies -- three males and two females -- were yet to be identified).
 
Injured passengers
 
1. Akash (M)
2. Ajay (M)
3. Anuj (M)
4. Jeetinfra (M)
5. Jamuluddin (M)
6. Ismail (M)
7. Mohammad Ashraf (M)
8. Nitiesh (M)
9. Piyush (M)
10. Prahlad (M)
11. Rahun Ameen (M)
12. Rupesh (M)
13. Ramesh (M)
14. Rakesh Kadam (M)
15. Shrinivas (M)
16. Sameer (M)
17. Swaraj (M)
18. Sudeep (M)
19. Suraj (M)
20. Sagar (M)
21. Ritiesh (M)
22. Rahul (M)
23. Wasim (M)
24. Naresh (M)
25. Aparna (F)
26. Asha (F)
27. Dhunishta (F)
28. Mahananda (F)
29. Pratibha (F)
30. Sarayu (F)
31. Shraddha (F)
32. Seema (F)
33. Pragya (F)
 
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India's forex reserves dip by $ 262.3 million to $ 402.247 billion

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India's foreign exchange reserves dipped by $ 262.3 million to $ 402.247 billion during the week ended September 22, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had risen by $ 1.782 billion to a new high of $ 402.509 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that  foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had fallen by $ 259.3 million to $ 377,751 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  $ 20.692 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went down by $ 1.2 million to $ 1.512 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 1.8 million to $ 2.2916 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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22 people dead, 32 injured in stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station in Mumbai

At least 22 people died and more than 27 others suffered injuries in a horrifying stampede that occurred during rush hour at the Elphinstone Road railway station, renamed some time ago as Prabhadevi, in Mumbai on Friday morning, official sources said.

 
At least 22 people died and more than 32 others suffered injuries in a horrifying stampede that occurred during rush hour at the Elphinstone Road railway station, renamed some time ago as Prabhadevi, in Mumbai this morning, official sources said.
 
The sources said the deceased included 18 men and four women. The injured are undergoing treatment at the KEM Hospital nearby, they said.
 
Two or more suburban trains had arrived at the station around the same time at about 10.30 am and heavy rains led to a huge rush of people on a narrow staircase leading to the North foot overbridge at the station, which ultimately led to the stampede, official sources said.
 
The presence of hawkers with their wares on the bridge and a leaking roof on the staircase added to the problems, eyewitnesses told journalists at the scene.
 
The situation was aggravated by the fact that people were not evacuating the overbridge quickly enough because of the rains, the sources said.
 
Railway officials and emergency services personnel rushed to the scene and helped remove the injured to nearby hospitals, the sources said. Even before that, fellow commuters got into the act and helped move the injured to hospitals by any available vehicle, including taxis.
 
Western Railway officials said an accident relief medical train had reached the station and medical assistance was being provided to the injured.
 
 
22 dead in stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station
Police officials said the incident occurred around 9.30 am. The cause of the stampede was being investigated.
 
Television pictures of the stampede showed hundreds of people trying desperately to escape from the unmanageable crowds and, in fact, many people could be seen jumping off the staircase to escape the crush.
 
The Elphinstone Road station, on the Western Railway's suburban rail network, gets crowded during peak hours because it caters to office-goers in the Lower Parel area. The foot overbridge connects the Elphinstone Road station on the Western Railway to the Parel station on the Central Railway. The station offers one of the few interchange points between the two networks and is, therefore, crowded at most times.
 
The tragedy has occurred on a day when Railways Minister Piyush Goyal was due to launch 100 additional suburban train services on the Mumbai suburban network of Western Railway and Central Railway.
 
Official sources said Mr. Goyal, who took over as Railways Minister after the recent Cabinet reshuffle and hails from Mumbai, is expected to visit the scene of the tragedy.
 
"Just landed in Mumbai. Deeply grieved at tragic loss of innocent lives due to an unfortunate stampede at Elphinstone Road foot overbridge," Mr. Goyal said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"My heartfelt condolences to the families of the bereaved. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured persons," he said.
 
"Have ordered a high level enquiry headed by the Chief Safety Officer, Western Railways," he added.
 
Mr. Goyal announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh to the next-of-kin of the deceased, Rs. 1 lakh to those grievously injured and Rs. 50,000 to those with minor injuries.
 
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in the stampede.
 
"Anguished by the loss of lives in the stampede in Mumbai. Condolences to the bereaved families; prayers with injured," Mr. Kovind said on Twitter.
 
"My deepest condolences to all those who have lost their lives due to the stampede in Mumbai. Prayers with those who are injured," Mr. Modi said.
 
"Situation in Mumbai is being continuously monitored. @PiyushGoyal is in Mumbai taking stock of the situation & ensuring all assistance," he added.
 
"Saddened and shocked to know about the tragic stampede at #Elphinstone railway station, foot over bridge. My heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones and got affected," Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Twitter.
 
Mr. Fadnavis announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh for the next-of-kin of the deceased commuters. He said the State Government would bear all the medical expenses of the injured.
 
"Enquiry will be conducted by Government of Maharashtra and Ministry of Railways and necessary, strict action will be taken," he said.
 
He said he had asked the State Chief Secretary  and Commissioner of Police, Mumbai to reach the hospital and ensure all the injured got all the help necessary.
 
The Western Railway has set up the following helplines:
 
Churchgate - 22039840
Mumbai Central- 23051665
Elphinstone Road - 24301614 
KEM Hospital - 9004498888, 9004497300.
 
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Railways to launch 100 new suburban rail services in Mumbai area

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In a major boost to suburban rail services in Mumbai area, Indian Railways will introduce 100 additional local train services on its Mumbai suburban network of Western Railway and Central Railway.
 
With these additional services, the total suburban services in Mumbai of Western Railway and Central Railway put together will increase from existing 2983 services to 3083 suburban services, an official press release said here today.
 
These services will be launched tomorrow at a programme to be held in Mumbai by Minister of Railways & Coal Piyush Goyal in the presence of several dignitaries.
 
Out of these 100 services, 32 will be introduced on Western Railway while 68 will be introduced on Central Railway.
 
On Western Railway, 17 services will be introduced in the Up direction and 15 in the Down direction from October 1. With these, the number of Western Railway's suburban services will go up from 1323 to 1355.
 
On Central Railway, 14 services will be introduced on the Harbour Line from October 2, another 14 on the Trans-Harbour Line from the same date and 16 on the Main Line from November 1. As many as 24 services will be introduced on the Harbour and Trans-Harbour lines from January 31, 2018.
 
With  these, the number of suburban services on Central Railway will go up from 1660 at present to 1728.
 
The new services will benefit the 77 lakh commuters travelling daily on the Mumbai suburban network by reducing congestion and provider faster commute, the release added.
 
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Jio and Roy Kapur Films in multi-year deal for Original Digital Content

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Telecom services provider Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. (RJIL) and Roy Kapur Films (RKF), a leading film and media production company founded by Siddharth Roy Kapur, today announced an association wherein original digital video content for the Jio platform will be curated, developed, commissioned and creatively produced by Roy Kapur Films. 
 
This will include finite and continuing series, long form and short form content across genres, and over time, ‘First on Jio’ feature films, a press release from RJIL, a subsidiary of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), said.
 
"RKF will tap into the vibrant content production ecosystem in India and together with Jio’s cutting edge technologies, power the Jio platform with a robust content pipeline of Jio Originals. This exclusive content will be available to more than 128 million Jio subscribers all over the country, an unparalleled reach compared to any other digital platform showcasing original content in India," the release said.
 
Mr. Jyotindra Thacker from Jio said, “India is the leading country in the world for mobile data usage, and a significant part of this usage is driven by video content. Jio currently carries over 5.5 crore hours of video daily on its network, already making it one of the largest and most superior mobile video networks globally. This association with Roy Kapur Films will help us to power forward towards our goal of delivering the highest quality video entertainment content to our mobile subscribers. Over the last decade, Siddharth has developed and produced some of the most commercially successful and creatively pathbreaking movies in Indian cinema, and we are happy to partner with him in the creation of a creative ecosystem that enables everyone to fully live and experience the Jio Digital Life.” 
 
Siddharth Roy Kapur said, “Jio’s digital platform offers an unparalleled opportunity to produce and deliver high quality and world-class entertainment content at scale. Content that can be watched all over India, across all demographics and best of all completely at one’s convenience, across all screens mobile, tablet, laptop and TV. Never before has so much entertainment been so accessible to so many. Our goal is to provide Jio subscribers with a wide variety of content that caters to their diverse tastes and sensibilities, and keeps them coming back for more. Partnering with Jio to produce digital video content and sharing in its long term vision for an Indian digital revolution and global digital leadership is truly exciting!”
 
The release said the collaboration between RKF and Jio marks a milestone in the confluence between the rapidly evolving entertainment, technology and telecom sectors in India.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs. 2170 crore across various segments

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its construction arm had won orders valued at Rs. 2170 crore across various business segments.
 
These include an order worth Rs. 1547 crore bagged by its Water & Effluent Treatment Business for a major reservoir which involves formation of an earth bund of length 4.3 km with a height of 55 m at its maximum with all associated works, a press release from the company said.
 
According to the release, the company's Power Transmission & Distribution Business bagged orders worth Rs. 623 crore, including one from Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. for the supply and execution of +320kV Pugalur – Trichur HVDC line. This transmission line is a crucial element of the Pugalur Trichur 2 x 1000MW VSC based HVDC system forming a part of the HVDC link between western and southern regions of India.
 
A turnkey order has been bagged from Eastern Power Distribution Company of A.P. Limited (APEPDCL) for providing underground cable works in Visakhapatnam city in Andhra Pradesh. This package is meant for modernizing the power system network connecting seven 33/11kV substations in the zone – 1 division of Visakhapatnam by replacing the HT and LT overhead lines with underground power cables, it said.
 
Overseas, an order has been secured by the business, together with its consortium partners, from the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) for the supply and construction of a 500kV transmission line from Bang Saphan 2 to Surat Thani 2 substations, the release added.
 
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Thomson Reuters and MCX launch India Commodity Indices

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News and information provider Thomson Reuters and the Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) today announced the launch of their co-branded commodity index series, Thomson Reuters-MCX India Commodity Indices (iCOMDEX), that will track the performance of commodities listed on MCX. 
 
With the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) beginning to open up commodities derivatives to institutional investors, relevant investors will be able to leverage these indices not only to benchmark performance but to also build products, a press release from the two companies said.
 
Commodity index-based products would allow market participants to trade and invest in commodities on a short and long term basis, it said.
 
The Thomson Reuters-MCX iCOMDEX series utilize a similar methodology to other established commodity indices used by international investors, such as the popular Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB index, the release said.
 
MCX has worked with the Indian investors to ensure the new indices correctly represent Indian commodity markets, with Thomson Reuters validating this approach and ensuring the indices meet international standards such as the IOSCO principles for financial benchmarks, it said.
 
The release said the series includes a composite index consisting of 11 commodities; sector indices for bullion and base metals, and individual commodity indices for gold, copper and crude oil. 
 
These indices have been designed to be tracked by derivatives and exchange traded funds, to allow investors to monetize views and manage investment risk. As a part of the arrangement, Thomson Reuters will calculate and administer the indices, which would track the commodity futures prices traded on MCX, with MCX advising Thomson Reuters on index methodology and ensuring that it best meets the needs of Indian investors looking to increase their exposure to this asset class.
 
Mr. Pradeep Menon, Managing Director, Global Head of Investing and Advisory, Thomson Reuters said, “Thomson Reuters is delighted to further strengthen its commitment to the region with the launch of this co-branded commodity index series with MCX. These indices will help investors effectively benchmark commodities across categories in real-time to make efficient investment decisions when index-based products are available in Indian commodity markets.”
 
Mr. Mrugank Paranjape, Managing Director and CEO, MCX, said “The co-branded indices are an important addition to MCX’s portfolio and we are delighted to join hands with Thomson Reuters in developing and publishing them. The index series combines MCX price data and the exchange’s expertise of Indian Commodity markets with TR’s global benchmarking practices, distribution and compliant governance structures. Subject to regulatory approval, we would want to offer derivative products based on these indices, at an opportune time.”
 
Mr. Stephan Flagel, Global head of Benchmarks and Indices, Thomson Reuters said, “With our unparalleled expertise and decades of experience in providing benchmarks and indices for listed and OTC markets, we are excited about the many opportunities that this change in regulation has opened up for the Indian investor community.”
 
Dr. V. Shunmugam, Head, Research, MCX said, “We are happy to launch the Thomson Reuters–MCX iCOMDEX series, which would be the first co-branded indices for the exchange. The index methodology, choice of underlying, their relative weightage and history of price movements have been kept as the cornerstones in developing these indices, so as to make them the benchmarks in their respective index classes."
 
Thomson Reuters is a global provider of indices and index services, calculating over 10,000 different equity, fixed income, and commodity indices.
 
Having commenced operations on November 10, 2003, Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX) is India’s first listed, national-level, electronic, commodity futures exchange with permanent recognition from the Government of India. In the financial year 2016–17, the market share of MCX was 90.37%. 
 
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Indian Navy commissions Water Jet Fast Attack Craft in Mumbai

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INS Tarasa, a Water Jet Fast Attack Craft, was commissioned into the Indian Navy by Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command at the Naval Dockyard here today.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Vice-Admiral Luthra expressed confidence that the new ship would discharge her duties with élan and resolve, and bring laurels to the Western Naval Command and the nation.
 
Complimenting the designers, builders, engineers, overseers, and the officers and the men whose efforts have fructified in the commissioning of the ship, he said that the ship is of proven design, has good endurance, low draught, high speed and manoeuvrability,  thus making her most suited for her primary role of extended coastal and offshore surveillance and patrol. 
 
He reserved special praise for the ship’s crew and the Warship Overseeing Team, Kolkata for ensuring that the ship has been commissioned with all weapon and sensor trials completed. The passage of the ship during her maiden voyage from Kolkata to Mumbai, in rough weather, bears testimony to the seaworthiness of the ship, he said.
 
INS Tarasa is the fourth and last of the follow-on Water Jet FAC's built by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata. The first two ships of the class -- IN ships Tarmugli and Tihayu -- were commissioned in 2016 and are based at Visakhapatnam; while the third ship INS Tillanchang was commissioned earlier this year at Karwar on March 9. 
 
These ships are an upgrade of the Car Nicobar class Fast Attack Crafts with the Indian Navy, which were also indigenously designed and built by GRSE, Kolkata.
 
INS Tarasa is 50 m long and powered by three waterjets which give it speeds of over 35 knots (65 kmph). The ship is armed with a 30 mm main gun indigenously built , and a number of light, medium and heavy machine guns to undertake costal defence operations. 
 
"The ship is an ideal platform for missions like coastal and off-shore surveillance, EEZ Patrol, law enforcement as well as non-military missions such as Search and Rescue, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief," an official press releasse said. 
 
The commissioning Commanding Officer of the ship is Lieutenant Commander Praveen Kumar.
 
This is the second ship of the Indian Navy to be named INS Tarasa. The first INS Tarasa was in service of the Navy from 1999 to 2014. She was gifted to Seychelles Coast Guard as a symbol of India's partnership with friendly maritime nation in IOR. 
 
The new INS Tarasa will be based at Mumbai under the operational control of Western Naval Command, the release added.
 
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Isha Ambani unveils Reliance Foundation "Holistic Healing" Art Project in Mumbai

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Ms. Isha Ambani, a Director of telecom services provider Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), recently launched "Holistic Healing" a new public art project at the Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai.
 
Through this initiative, Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of energy and petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), aims to introduce cutting-edge, contemporary art to the Indian public.  
 
"It also offers patients and their families an opportunity to experience the extraordinary power of visual art. Holistic Healing offers a unique opportunity to introduce site-specific artworks by contemporary artists," a press release from the foundation said.
 
The release said 12 of India’s leading contemporary artists have created nine works of art to change the atmosphere of the Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre. 
 
"Splashing color, shape and rhythm to corridors of the hospital, the art simultaneously provokes thought and evokes conversation.  Rohini Devasher, Shilpa Gupta, Reena Saini Kallat, Suhasini Kejriwal, Sandeep Mukherjee, Sachin George Sebastian, Praneet Soi, Thukral & Tagra and Raqs Media Collective have all created the site-specific works which will be placed across various locations within the hospital," it said.
 
“Holistic Healing hopes to transform the environment of a hospital into a space that transports the viewer outside the confines of its walls. This initiative at the Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre will further motivate us to continue our work in the art world. We are truly delighted to be part of this inspiring collaboration with some of India’s leading contemporary artists," Ms. Ambani, daughter of RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, and his wife Nita Ambani, Chairperson of the Reliance Foundation, said.
 
As part of the launch, a panel discussion was held celebrating the new works of art at the hospital. Moderated by Dr. Deepanjana Klien, International Head of Classical and Contemporary South Asian Art at Christie’s, the panel featuring artists Sree Goswami, Shilpa Gupta, Reena Kallat, Sumir Tagra and Jiten Thukral discussed the significance of Public Art in India.
 
One of the Reliance Foundations’ key ongoing missions is to promote and offer opportunities and platforms for Indian art locally in India and at various institutions around the globe, the release added.
 
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SBI launches FTSE SBI Bond Index Series in London

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State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender, and FTSE Russell, the global index and data provider, launched the FTSE SBI Bond Index Series at London Stock Exchange yesterday.
 
The Index Series provides Global Investor community and other market participants the tools they need to analyse India’s bond market, a press release from SBI said.
 
In November 2015, during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United Kingdom, a letter of intent was signed between State Bank of India and FTSE to develop in partnership, a new index tracking Indian fixed income securities. This initiative was also announced as a priority under the India UK Financial Partnership (IUKFP). 
 
The launch of this innovative index series demonstrates SBI’s commitment to play befitting leadership role in  development of India’s bond market, the release said.
 
"This Index is also an important enabler to India focused funds and is expected to facilitate investment flows," it said.
 
Marking the launch, Ms. Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairman of State Bank of India, along with Mr. Venkat C Nageswar Deputy Managing Director (Global Markets) and Ms. Anuradha Rao, Managing Director & CEO, SBI Funds Management Private Limited, opened trading at London Stock Exchange yesterday.
 
“State Bank of India (SBI), India’s largest commercial bank, has been at the forefront of development of Financial markets in India. We have teamed up with FTSE RUSSELL to launch the FTSE-SBI Bond Index Series. This index will act as a key benchmark for Indian debt for foreign investors looking to invest in Indian debt market and will significantly contribute to development and broadening of the Indian Bond Market," Ms. Bhattacharya said on the occasion.
 
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Interest Subsidy Scheme on home loans for MIG extended by another 15 months

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The Central Government today announced that the benefit of interest subsidy of about Rs. 2.60 lakh on home loans under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) will now be available for beneficiaries belonging to Middle Income Groups (MIG) for 15 more months beyond December this year.
 
This was announced by Secretary (Housing & Urban Affairs) Durga Shanker Mishra while addressing the ‘Real Estate and Infrastructure Investors Summit’ organized by NAREDCO. He said the government has decided to give more time for MIG beneficiaries to avail interest subsidy under PMAY (Urban).
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his announcement on December 31 last year made applicable the Credit-Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) under PMAY (Urban) to MIG, till the end of December this year.
 
Under CLSS, MIG beneficiaries with annual income of above Rs. 6.00 lakh and up to Rs. 12.00 lakh would get an interest subsidy of 4.00% on a 20-year loan component of Rs. 9.00 lakhs. Those with annual income exceeding Rs.12.00 lakh and up to Rs. 18.00 lakh would get interest subsidy of 3.00%.
 
Reiterating the Government’s commitment to meet the Housing for All targets in urban areas by 2022, Mr Mishra urged private investors to invest in affordable housing, being promoted by the Government in a big way with several incentives and concessions.
 
He later held an hour-long discussion with a 30-member delegation of NAREDCO and assured them that the Government would look into various issues raised by them in all sincerity and possible interventions would be considered.
 
The delegation referred to what they called anomalies in GST rates for completed and under construction housing projects, Stamp Duties being higher and kept outside the purview of GST, scarcity of land, delays in granting construction permits, lack of coordination among different municipal agencies, RBI’s high-risk weightage for lending to real estate sector despite Real Estate Act coming into force, inadequate bank financing despite Non-Performing Assets in respect of construction being much less than other sectors etc.
 
The delegation expressed concern over GST and other taxes accounting for over one-third of the cost of residential properties.
 
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Smart cities acquiring sensor-based ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ connected to Command and Control Centres

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Smart cities in the making are set to rise to an entirely new level of monitoring and delivery of civic services through digitally integrated Central Command and Control Centres, Secretary (Housing & Urban Affairs) Durga Shanker Mishra said today.
 
Inaugurating a day-long ‘Learning and Experience Sharing Workshop on Digitally Integrated Command and Control Centres under Smart City Mission’, Mr Mishra said these centres would serve as the "brain centres" of smart cities for ensuring effective coordination in the functioning of various agencies of urban local bodies resulting in improved monitoring and delivery of services to citizens.
 
Mr Mishra urged the cities that are setting up such centres under Smart City Mission to ensure their timely completion so that citizens could benefit from them at the earliest.
 
Dr Samir Sharma, National Mission Director, Smart City Mission said different IT-based projects taken up by cities in recent years have been operating in isolation and CCCs seek to integrate all such systems with several enhanced features for better integration for better information and service delivery.
 
Dr Sharma said the Command and Control Centres are under implementation in 11 cities -- Pune, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Jaipur, Raipur, Naya Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam and Kakinada. These centres have already become partly operational in Pune and Nagpur while 23 other cities have completed the bidding process for setting up such centres.
 
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India's forex reserves rise by $ 1.782 billion to record $ 402.509 billion

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India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $ 1.782 billion to a new high of $ 402.509 billion during the week ended September 15, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here today.
 
The country's forex reserves had soared by $  2.604 billion to $ 400.726 billion during the previous week.
 
In its weekly statistical supplement, the central bank said that  foreign currency assets, which constitute a major chunk of the forex reserves, had increased by $ 1.8 billion to $ 378.011 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  $ 20.692 billion, while its special drawing rights (SDRs) went down by $ 7.3 million to $ 1.513 billion.
 
India’s reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $ 11 million to $ 2.293 billion during the week, the bulletin added.
 
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Centre announces new PPP Policy to promote private investments in affordable housing

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The Union Government yesterday announced a new Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Policy for Affordable Housing that allows extending central assistance of up to Rs. 2.50 lakh per house to be built by private builders even on private lands beside opening up the immense potential for private investments in affordable housing projects on government lands in urban areas.
 
Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri announced the policy that gives eight PPP (Public Private Partnership) options for the private sector to invest in affordable housing segment while addressing the Real Estate & Infrastructure Investors Summit-2017 organized by real estate body NAREDCO. 
 
Mr Puri explained that the policy seeks to assign risks among the government, developers and financial institutions, to those who can manage them the best besides leveraging under-utilized and unutilized private and public lands towards meeting the Housing for All target by 2022.
 
The two PPP models for private investments in affordable housing on private lands include extending central assistance of about Rs. 2.50 lakh per each house as interest subsidy on bank loans as upfront payment under the Credit-Linked Subsidy Component (CLSS) component of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). Under the second option, the central assistance of Rs. 1.50 lakh per each house to be built on private lands would be provided, in case the beneficiaries do not intend to take bank loans.
 
Mr Puri stated that eight PPP options, including six for promoting affordable housing with private investments using government lands, have been evolved after extensive consultations with States, promoter bodies, and other stakeholders.
 
The six models using government lands are the DBT Model under which private builders can design, build and transfer houses built on government lands to public authorities. Government land is to be allocated based on the least cost of construction. Payments to builders will be made by the public authority based on the progress of the project as per agreed upon milestones and buyers will pay to the Government.
 
Under the Mixed Development Cross-subsidized Housing, Government land will be allotted based on a number of affordable houses to be built on the plot offered to private builders,  cross-subsidizing this segment from revenues from high-end house building or commercial development.
 
Annuity Based Subsidized Housing envisages builders investing against deferred annuity payments by the Government. Land allocation to builders is based on the unit cost of construction.
 
Under the Annuity-cum-Capital Grant Based Affordable Housing, besides annuity payments, builders could be paid a share of the project cost as an upfront payment.
 
In Direct Relationship Ownership Housing, as against government mediated payments to builders and transfer of houses to beneficiaries in the other four models, promoters will directly deal with buyers and recover costs. Allocation of public land is based on the unit cost of construction.
 
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The Direct Relationship Rental Housing will see the recovery of the costs by builders through rental income from the houses built on government lands.
 
Under all these six Government land-based PPP models, beneficiaries can avail of the central assistance of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2.50 lakh per house as provisioned under different components of PMAY (Urban). Beneficiaries will be identified as per PMAY (Urban) norms.
 
Mr Puri expressed concern over the private sector so far not entering the affordable housing segment despite huge scope for the same under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) and an enabling eco-system put in place through several concessions and incentives offered including the grant of infrastructure status for this segment.      
 
Referring to the ‘Way Forward’ for heralding a new era of growth in real estate sector suggested by KPMG and NAREDCO in a publication last month, Mr Puri said that the Government has already initiated action in respect of each of the suggestions made therein.
 
Elaborating, he said that only last week he had announced a time-bound review of FSI/FAR norms in 53 cities with a population of million and above each and State capitals to enable better utilization of scarce urban land parcels.
 
The Minister said that a view would soon be taken on allowing urban housing projects in peripheral villages and talks are going on this regard with the Ministry of Rural Development.
 
The online mechanism for time-bound approvals for building plans and construction permits has already been introduced in Mumbai and Delhi and the same would happen soon in 53 cities with a population of above one million each, he said. The Model Tenancy Act and National Rental Housing Policy would be announced soon.
 
Mr Puri exhorted private developers to seize the investment opportunities in affordable housing in the prevailing enabling environment saying ‘’It is time to stop debate and swing into action”.
 
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thyssenkrupp, Tata Steel sign MoU to combine European steel activities in 50:50 JV

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German multi-national conglomerate thyssenkrupp today said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India's Tata Steel to combine their European steel activities in a 50:50 joint venture. 
 
"Their aim is to create a leading European flat steel player to be positioned as quality and technology leader," a press release from thyssenkrupp said.
 
The new entity is set to have pro-forma sales of about €15 billion and a workforce of about 48,000, currently at 34 locations. Shipments are envisioned to be about 21 million tons a year, it said.
 
Dr. Heinrich Hiesinger, CEO of thyssenkrupp AG, said: “Under the planned joint venture, we are giving the European steel activities of thyssenkrupp and Tata a lasting future. We are tackling the structural challenges of the European steel industry and creating a strong No. 2. In Tata, we have found a partner with a very good strategic and cultural fit. Not only do we share a clear performance orientation, but also the same understanding of entrepreneurial responsibility toward workforce and society.”
 
Mr. Natarajan Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Steel, said, “The Tata Group and thyssenkrupp have a strong heritage in the global steel industry and share similar culture and values. This partnership is a momentous occasion for both partners, who will focus on building a strong European steel enterprise. The strategic logic of the proposed joint venture in Europe is based on very strong fundamentals and I am confident that thyssenkrupp Tata Steel will have a great future.”
 
The release said that the planned joint venture (JV), to be named thyssenkrupp Tata Steel, would be managed through a lean holding company based in the Netherlands. It is to have a two-tier management structure comprising a management board and a supervisory board. Both boards are to have equal representation from thyssenkrupp and Tata. The codetermination structures in Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain will be retained, it said.
 
"thyssenkrupp intends to contribute its Steel Europe business to the planned joint venture. There are also plans for the joint venture to include thyssenkrupp MillServices & Systems GmbH, a steel mill services provider that is part of the Materials Services business. Tata would add all of their flat steel activities in Europe," it said.
 
According to the release, the MoU signed today paves the way for thyssenkrupp to involve employee representatives at thyssenkrupp AG and in the Steel business in the process ahead on an ongoing basis. All employee participation rights will continue to be respected as before, it said.
 
"In the months ahead, due diligence will be conducted. In the process, the negotiating parties will give each other access to confidential business documents to the extent permissible between competitors. Based on this as well as on discussions with the entire Supervisory Board, it is envisaged to sign a contract in early 2018. Closing – the effective start of the joint venture – could take place in late 2018 following antitrust approval by the relevant authorities," it said.
 
The release said that, in the initial years – from closing onward – the joint venture partners plan to focus on establishing the joint venture and leveraging synergies. These are anticipated among other things from integrating sales, administration, research and development, joint optimization of procurement, logistics and service centers as well as improved capacity utilization in downstream processing. After the ramp-up phase, the joint venture partners expect annual synergies of €400 million to €600 million.
 
Additionally, the production network is to be reviewed starting in 2020 with the aim of integrating and optimizing the production strategy for the entire joint venture. 
 
"It is not yet possible to quantify the additional synergies from this integration in detail. The scope for optimization also depends on numerous external factors such as the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and the implications that follow. Other external parameters include the development of the regulatory environment in areas such as emission trading and nternational trade policy," it said.
 
The two joint venture partners expect that leveraging the cost synergies across the entire entity will require a reduction in workforce over the years ahead by up to 2,000 jobs in administration and potentially up to 2,000 jobs in production. This burden is expected to be shared roughly evenly between the two parties, which means a total of about 2,000 jobs at thyssenkrupp.
 
“We will not be putting any measures into effect in the joint venture that we would not have had to adopt on our own. On the contrary: By combining our steel activities, the burdens for each partner are lower than they would have been on a stand-alone basis,” said Dr. Hiesinger.
 
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The release noted that the steel industry has faced massive challenges in Europe for many years.
 
"Steel demand is characterized by a lack of dynamic. There is structural overcapacity in supply and constantly high import pressure. This leads to the fact that various stages in the value chain are operating well below capacity. Consequently, all producers are under pressure to fill capacity and forced to pass on restructuring gains to the market time and again. The result is a downward spiral and a need for restructuring about every three to four years, with major steel assets coming under threat of closure in the medium term," the release said.
 
"There are five reasons why combining the European steel activities of thyssenkrupp and Tata is the best possible next consolidation move:
 
"Economies of scale: Economies of scale are a key success factor in a market caught up in ongoing consolidation. Combining the No. 2 and No. 3 in Europe results in a powerful new No. 2 for quality flat steel with a very competitive market position and promising growth prospects.
 
"Complementarity: The businesses of thyssenkrupp and Tata are a good complementary fit. thyssenkrupp is stronger in the OEM sector while Tata’s strength lies with industrial customers. The main operating locations in Duisburg, IJmuiden and Port Talbot have good logistics links and serve customers in different, economically powerful regions. That makes for significantly broader overall coverage of customer sectors throughout Europe.
 
"Performance orientation: The steelworks of thyssenkrupp and Tata rank among the most efficient facilities in Europe. Thanks to effective cost management, both producers operate at a profit. The two companies have paved the way for this over recent years, piece by piece and independently of each other: Tata, for instance, with the restructuring of Port Talbot and by selling long steel activities, and thyssenkrupp with the sale of CSA and capacity adjustment at HKM.
 
"Innovative strength: Both partners aspire to quality and technology leadership in the European steel industry and continually develop innovative products and solutions for customers. High-tech steels are frequently the basis of industrial value chains in Europe and a key competitive differentiator.
 
"Culture and capabilities: The two partners each have a highly capable and dedicated workforce who strongly identify with their company. thyssenkrupp and Tata have a cultural DNA equally characterized by the will to embrace change in order to secure their future. And both companies have the backing of strong shareholders through a trust structure that perpetuate the ideas and values of the original owners," the release added.
 
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L&T wins Rs. 1700 crore contract to build crude oil pipeline in Kuwait

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its Hydrocarbon Division had bagged a major contract, valued at close to Rs. 1700 crore, to build a crude oil pipeline in Kuwait.
 
The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract has been won from the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) for a new 48" Crude Transit Line (TL-5) from North Kuwait to Ahmadi, a press release from the company said.
 
The project is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2020, the release said.
 
"The order was won against stiff international competitive bidding which reinforces L&T’s unique capability to deliver 'design to build' engineering and construction solutions across the hydrocarbon spectrum," it said.
 
L&T is currently executing Gathering Centre-30 (GC-30) project for KOC, the release added.
 
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SBI ties up with Google on UPI-based payments app, Tez

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State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest commercial bank, has tied up with Google for its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) based payment app Tez that was launched today. 
 
SBI  is now gearing up to enable UPI across various services including  e-commerce and m-commerce merchants, toll payment, fuel stations, petrol pumps, malls, metro stations, railways and so on, a press release from the bank said.
 
The release said the app would provide all functionalities available in UPI as a bundled option for customers and merchants on Android and iOS platform for doing commercial (P2M) as well as personal (P2P) transactions through mobile authenticated with a secured UPI PIN. Customer has to onboard through a Google login and mobile number linked to any bank account.
 
Tez UPI platform will be guided by guidelines of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and will incorporate all new version updates like scheduled payments, and so on, it said.
 
Mr. Rajnish Kumar, MD (NBG), SBI said, "While we are already enabling UPI across a multitude of services including e-commerce and m-commerce, collaboration with Google will help us in giving a further push to our digital initiatives. By working with Tez, we will help drive adoption of UPI and bring simple and secure digital payments to more Indians."
 
Ms. Diana Layfield, Vice President, Head of Finance & Commerce Products, Next Billion Users said, “We look forward to have India’s largest bank, the State Bank of India, as a launch partner with us to integrate UPI into Tez. This will help offer simple and secure payment options for online and offline payments to even more Indian users and merchants. This is only the start of our partnership as we strive to digitize payments."
 
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India's CAD widens to $ 14.3 billion or 2.4% of GDP in Q1 on higher trade deficit

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India's current account deficit (CAD) widened sharply to $ 14.3 billion or 2.4% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter (Q1) of 2017-18 from $ 0.4 billion (0.1% of GDP) in Q1 of 2016 -17 and $ 3.4 billion (0.6% of GDP) in Q4 of 2016-17.
 
The widening of the CAD on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis was primarily on account of a higher trade deficit (US$ 41.2 billion) brought about by a larger increase in merchandise imports relative to exports, a press release from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said here yesterday.
 
Net services receipts increased by 15.7 per cent on a y-o-y basis mainly on the back of a rise in net earnings from travel, construction and other business services, it said.
 
Private transfer receipts, mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas, at $ 16.1 billion increased by 5.3% over the corresponding quarter of the previous year.
 
In the financial account, net foreign direct investment at $ 7.2 billion in Q1 of 2017-18 almost doubled from its level in Q1 of 2016-17.
 
Net portfolio investment recorded substantial inflow of $ 12.5 billion in Q1 of 2017-18, primarily in the debt segment, as compared with $ 2.1 billion in Q1 of last year.
 
Net receipts on account of non-resident deposits amounted to $ 1.2 billion in Q1 of 2017-18; this was lower than $ 1.4 billion a year ago.
 
In Q1 of 2017-18, there was an accretion of $ 11.4 billion to the foreign exchange reserves (on BoP basis) as compared with $ 7.0 billion in Q1 of 2016-17 and $ 7.3 billion in the preceding quarter, the release added.
 
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