Bangalore: India’s civil aviation ministry has postponed opening of the new international airport here, the third such delay in two months, ahead of a hearing in the Karnataka high court on a petition against closing the existing airport in the city.
The vacation bench of the Karnataka high court will hear arguments of the ministry on it deciding to close the older airport, owned by state-run aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. The new airport at Devanahalli might now open on Saturday, a day behind schedule.
“We are taken by surprise,” said Albert Brunner, chief operating officer of the Bangalore International Airport Ltd, or Bial, that has built and will operate the new airport. “However, there is nothing we can do at this point. All our efforts are now towards minimizing passenger and airline inconvenience owing to this postponement.”
A citizen’s group, Bangalore City Connect Foundation (BCCF), has been demanding that the existing airport in the city be kept open. BCCF has said the new airport would hit peak capacity in a year, on rising passenger traffic driven by high economic growth in India’s silicon city.
Bial has said the civil aviation ministry will conduct two studies on passenger traffic at the new international airport, which follows concerns that the airport would be operating at full capacity in its very first year of operations.
“They will arrive at a conclusion based on the number of passengers,” said Brunner, who has led a team to complete the airport project in 34 months. “We will not cross 12-13 million passengers in the first year, and the airport will not reach capacity in a few years,” he said.
The government and Bial had signed a so-called concession agreement in June 2004 that says the older airport will be closed once the new one opens.
Bial says the new airport with a 4km-long runway can handle around 17-20 million passengers a year, and it would begin building another runway in a few months, after it gets an approval from its board. HAL’s airport handled 10.5 million passengers last year. Bial, which has invested Rs2,470 crore in the project, declined to estimate its revenues for the first year.
Nat Geo to launch four new channels in India
New Delhi: National Geographic Channels International, or NGCI, plans to launch four new channels in India to expand its presence in the country.
NGC Network (India) Pvt. Ltd, part of NGCI, will launch National Geographic Wild, National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Music and National Geographic HD (high-definition) in the next two months. The new channels would be available along with NGC’s flagship National Geographic Channel, which has been present in the country for 11 years.
“We plan to leverage the strong brand presence of NGC in India by bringing our global bouquet of channels to the country,” said Sydney Suissa, its executive vice-president (content). “We are currently waiting for our licence and are in talks with DTH (direct-to-home), IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) and cable operators for distribution.”
The Nat Geo Wild channel comes nearly a decade after rival Discovery Networks India launched Animal Planet, a spin off from it’s flagship Discovery Channel in 1998.
NGC’s adventure channel, which will compete with Discovery’s Travel and Living, is already four years behind its rival.
But, the late entry does not seem to rattle NGC. “You’re late if you have a bad product but once the new channels are launched, it will become very clear how different we are from what our competitors are offering,” said Suissa.
The music channel would air world music targeting audiences in the 25- 35 age group, while the HD channel would offer documentary programmes to the more high-end viewer who have high-definition compatible television sets. Priyanka Mehra
Sebi seeks comments on alternative payment
Mumbai: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India, or Sebi, on Wednesday released a consultative paper on the proposed alternative payment mechanism for public issues.
The process, ‘Applications Supported by Blocked Amount’, would require investors to apply for issues through banks that would accept the applications, block the fund and upload the details in the electronic bidding system of the exchanges. After the share allotment, they would transfer the amount for allotted shares to the firms that are entering the stock market.
The guidelines outlining the role of intermediaries involved in the process have been put up on Sebi’s website for public comments. The regulator on 14 May announced the new mechanism, based on the recommendation of Sebi’s primary market advisory committee. Khushboo Narayan
Scientists only in CSIR selection process
New Delhi: Non-scientists will not be involved in selecting the directors for the laboratories run by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, or CSIR, said Samir Brahmachari, director-general, CSIR.
‘Mint’ had earlier reported that the government’s principal bureaucratic watchdog, the department of personnel and training, had recently proposed, among other things, that one of its representatives be involved in the director-selection process.
Several scientists expressed concerns that this could lead to low-calibre nominees heading these posts.
Fourteen director posts in CSIR laboratories lie vacant, with senior scientists holding temporary charge. “There is no major change from the previous rules, except that there will be a secretary from one of the government’s scientific departments. Earlier their presence was optional, now it is compulsory,” Brahmachari said. Jacob P. Koshy
IIFCL net profit up 307% to Rs14 crore
New Delhi:India Infrastructure Finance Co. Ltd (IIFCL), the special purpose vehicle floated by the Union government in January 2006 to finance infrastructure projects, recorded a net profit of Rs14.10 crore in 2007-08, up 307% from a year earlier. The company sanctioned assistance of Rs8,559 crore to 32 projects in 2007-08, about 1.7% higher in value than the amount sanctioned in the previous year, according to a company statement. A majority of IIFCL’s money has been directed towards highways projects, said S.S. Kohli, chairman and managing director. Sanjiv Shankaran