New Delhi: Nearly 60,000 monuments across the country are at nature’s mercy with no agency taking measures for their protection, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), a non profit, said.
Intach has prepared a list of nearly 70,000 monuments in the country of which about 60,000 are not looked after by any government or private agency. “Many of these 60,000 monuments need immediate attention. Otherwise, they will be ruined,” Intach chairman S.K. Mishra said.
Bangalore company to launch electric scooter
Bangalore: Bangalore-based EKO Vehicle Pvt. Ltd is all set to launch its second product, EV 60 electric scooter, and said it would commence export of battery-operated two-wheelers to the US market from January.
The pollution-free EV 60 is priced at Rs39,600 and slated for launch next month, chairman Anil Ananthakrishna said. Set up in January 2005, the company has so far sold more than 15,000 units of its first product under the brandname Cosmic and Velociti. “We have orders to deliver (another) 100,000 units. ”
The company’s expansion activity entails an investment of about Rs30 crore to Rs50 crore, Ananthakrishna said, adding it’s in discussions with angel investors to raise funds. The company would dilute its stake by 20-30% to raise money. (PTI )
Maruti rides on old cars to push new sales
New Delhi: The country’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India Ltd has tied up with scrap dealers across India to dispose of old cars to boost sales of new ones. “We have tied up with 15-20 people dealing in scrap in each of the cities that we are present,” Maruti Suzuki India chief general manager (sales support) Ravi Bhatia said. The company is offering its customers a discount of up to Rs40,000 on exchange of their old cars for new ones, while at the same time inviting bids from scrap dealers for the old cars. (PTI )
5 firms in contention forcity-side development
New Delhi: Five of the companies that were shortlisted from nearly 24 firms for possible city-side development of non-metro airports at Amritsar and Udaipur will be retained, civil aviation minister Praful Patel said on Thursday.
Patel’s statement comes amid concerns that the process could be restarted from scratch after opposition from Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Left parties sought clarifications on various issues in the Request For Qualification or RFQ for the two airports. “Obviously they will be there,” he said when asked if there could be a fresh selection process.
He added that the city side development will be done by the private operator and “terminal building will remain with AAI”. Companies short listed for the bidding include GMR Infrastructure Ltd, Reliance Energy Ltd, and Lanco Infratech Ltd. (Tarun Shukla)
Aviation panel reviews key demands of airlines
New Delhi: A committee, setup by prime minister Manmohan Singh in July to examine various issues pertaining to the financial crises being faced by domestic airlines, met for the first time on Thursday to review key demands including state taxes on fuel, pricing mechanism of oil companies, and the throughput charges applied by Airports Authority of India . The final recommendation on all major issues will now be prepared, a senior government official present at the meeting said. “A final proposal will be worked out by the ministry; the next meeting will be in three weeks,” this official said asking not to be quoted. (Staff Writer)
Sanyo, BPL shut joint TV plant in India
Tokyo: Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd said it closed a box TV plant in India operated by a joint venture with local partner BPL after its profitability was hit by price falls and a shift in demand to flat TVs.
Sanyo BPL, created in 2004 to make cathode ray tube TVs for the Indian market, produced 400,000 colour CRT models in the year ended March, and had revenues of about 4.5 billion yen ($41.14 million). The loss-making venture is set to be dissolved, a Sanyo spokesman said on Thursday. The Japanese consumer electronics maker plans to continue marketing its products in India through its own local sales subsidiary, he said. (Reuters)
Indirect tax collections rise 12% in April-July
New Delhi: The collection of indirect taxes from customs and excise duties rose 12% in the first four months of the fiscal year to Rs74,360crore ($17.3 billion), the finance ministry said in a release on Thursday.
The government raised Rs38,250 crore from customs duties in the four-month period, 20.3% more than a year earlier. It collected Rs36,109 crore from excise taxes, or 4.4% more, the ministry said. (Bloomberg)
Govt approves 9 FDI worth Rs294 crore
New Delhi: The government on Thursday cleared nine foreign direct investment proposals totalling Rs294 crore ($68.5 million), including those of JP Morgan and Rio Tinto.
JP Morgan has been permitted to invest almost Rs100 crore, including in hotel and hospitality services.
The government, however, deferred a proposal from Idea Cellular arm Aditya Birla Telecom to raise its foreign investment holding to 74%. (Reuters)
ONGC refuses to reimburse service tax
New Delhi: Oil explorers such as Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) have refused to reimburse service tax on offshore vessels they hire, giving foreign flag vessel owners an edge over Indian shipowners.
Shipping secretary A.P.V.N Sarma has sought intervention of his counterpart in the petroleum ministry for “suitable directives to E&P (exploration and production) operators for reimbursement of service tax.”
“E&P operators such as ONGC who have charter hired offshore supply vessels (OSVs) have declined to reimburse the service tax on the basis of their own interpretation (of rules),” he wrote to Petroleum Secretary last month. The vessel owners are to pay service tax to government irrespective of the position taken by oil firms. (PTI)
No excise duty on UMPP equipment
New Delhi: The government has granted full exemption from central excise duty on goods procured for setting up ultra mega power projects, or UMPP, based on super critical coal thermal technology, from which power procurement has been tied up on the basis of tariff-based competitive bidding.
The exemption is applicable to goods procured for projects set up under government of India initiative and have an installed capacity of 3960MW or more.
Certain conditions have been prescribed for availing the benefit of exemption which comes into effect from 14 August. (Staff Writer)
RIL submits plan for 8 more gas discoveries
New Delhi: Reliance Industries Ltd has submitted a development plan for eight more gas discoveries in the eastern offshore KG-D6 block.
“The discoveries are adjacent to the Dhirubhai 1 and 3 gas fields that are currently under development,” said Canada’s Niko Resources, which is Reliance’s junior partner in KG-D6.
While Dhirubhai-1 and 3 discoveries are expected to start production by end September, it is intended that the eight satellite discoveries would be tied back to the Dhirubhai-1 and 3 facilities. (PTI)
Pakistan celebrates its 61st independence day
Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday celebrated its 61st independence day with traditional flag hoisting ceremonies and fireworks despite growing militant unrest and deadly bombings.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who hoisted the national flag in Islamabad, said the government was “committed to bringing relief to the common man, to steer Pakistan out of the current political, economic situation.”
Gilani vowed to fight the threats of domestic extremism and terrorism, and to forge friendly ties with nuclear-armed rival India. (AFP )
Indian Hotels draws up Rs2,100 cr capex plan
Mumbai: Tata-owned hospitality major Indian Hotels Co. Ltd said it has drawn up a Rs2,100 crore capex plan.
“We plan to invest Rs1,500 crore over the next three years to add about 1,900 rooms in the five-star and luxury category and Rs600 crore to add about 4,000 rooms in the premium and budget segments,” Indian Hotels chairman Ratan Tata told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) here on Thursday. He said the firm plans to build hotels in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Noida. “We also plan to renovate and refurbish existing properties and the food and beverage division,” Tata said. (PTI)
Flagstone keen to enter general insurance sector
Hyderabad: Bermuda-based global reinsurance firm Flagstone Reinsurance Holdings Ltd plans to enter the Indian non-life insurance sector, buoyed by the fast growing economy and low penetration of insurance in the subcontinent, said chairman Mark Byrne.
“We are currently in talks with some prospective Indian partners for a joint venture and should firm up the venture shortly,” he said on Thursday after inaugurating the company’s underwriting support services centre.
He said the company expects to complete the deal and begin Indian primary insurance operations in non-life segment within a year and plans to invest $30 million (Rs128.4 crore) in the venture to begin with.
The New York Stock Exchange-listed reinsurer that reported $577 million revenues for the year ended December also plans to expand its Indian reinsurance operations and opened a representative office at Mumbai in June. “We currently have limited exposure of around $30 million to the Indian reinsurance market and plan to significantly enhance our business here,” said David Brown, the chief executive officer of Flagstone. (C.R. Sukumar/ Mint)
Credit Suisse invests $77m in Indu Projects
Hyderabad: City-based construction company Indu Projects Ltd (IPL) has announced that global financial services company Credit Suisse Group AG has invested $77 million (Rs325 crore) in it for some 10% equity. The total commitment is for $113 million to pick up around 13% in the company’s paid-up equity of around Rs15 crore, its managing director and chief executive office, I. Syam Prasad Reddy, told Mint.
The ‘Times of India’ newspaper has first reported the Credit Suisse investment in Indu Projects on 12 August, attributing it to unnamed sources. While promoters and associates hold around 70% of its equity, the balance is held by partners such as Citigroup Venture Capital, Maple Holdings, IDFC, Sun Apollo and Red Fort Capital.
Indu Projects, which reported Rs1,300 crore of turnover for year to March, is currently executing projects worth Rs16,000 crore in irrigation, road and railway projects, said Reddy. The company plans to use the funds infused by Credit Suisse to expand its presence in the country and diversify into new areas such as contract coal mining, building health cities and agro-food parks, he said. (C.R. Sukumar / Mint)
Wikipedia founder aims to break Google grip
Singapore: Watch out Google, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales hopes that Wikia Search, a project he spearheads, will break Google Inc.’s domination as the world’s most widely used Internet search engine. Google and fellow titans Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp. dominate the Internet search engine market which Wales said was already causing some worry among Web users.
“Right now in the US in particular, we have a really strong concentration of the industry,” Wales said on Thursday at the Global Brand Forum in Singapore. Industry statistics showed over 90% of Internet searches in the US are done through the three firms, he said.
“So a lot of people are really concerned about this. Do we really want all of our traffic, all of our editorial control of the Internet all being piped through one, two or three companies? I don’t think we do. I think we want to have a broader marketplace than that.”
Wales said Wikia Search will run on an open platform, similar to the principles behind Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia in which entries can be made and edited by anyone with an Internet connection. (AFP)
Facebook is online social networking king
San Francisco: Industry figures available on Wednesday show Facebook has dethroned MySpace to become the world’s most popular social networking website. Slightly more than 132 million people visited Facebook in June, compared with the approximately 117.5 million that went to MySpace that month, according to industry tracker comScore.
Facebook seized the social networking crown from News Corp.-owned MySpace in April, comScore reported. Facebook’s moves to tailor versions of its website to languages other than English is credited with giving it a boost in international users that pushed it to the top of the social networking heap.
“Facebook has done an exceptional job of leveraging its brand internationally during the past year,” comScore vice-president Jack Flanagan said in a release. Ranks of social network users grew 9% in North America but leapt 25% globally to 580.51 million people, according to comScore. The number of people using social networking websites climbed 66% in the West Asia-Africa region and 35% in Europe. The number of people that visited Facebook in Europe in June was 35.2 million; more than triple what it was in the same month last year. (AFP)
Malaysian firm’s plea against ONGC dismissed
New Delhi: The Delhi high court has upheld ONGC Ltd’s decision not to award a contract to Malaysian Ramunia Fabricators Sdn Bhd to develop an oil field off Mumbai’s coast. Dismissing the petition of Ramunia, a division bench headed by justice Manmohan Sarin said ONGC was right in rejecting its bid for the project. “We are prima facie of the view that the plea of loss of confidence taken by ONGC (against) the petitioners for having failed to furnish the performance guarantee appears to be justifiable deserving credence,” the court said. The bench passed the order on a petition filed by the Malaysian company seeking court’s direction to award the contract to it which was earlier given to Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) but was later cancelled paving the way for fresh bidding. ONGC had invited bids in May 2007 for its B-22 field development project in which L&T and the Malaysian firm had participated.
The oil exploration major awarded the contract to L&T and dismissed the bid of Ramunia on the ground that the tender documents had been purchased by one company while the bid was submitted by another. (PTI)
HC dismisses Pilots Association’s petition
Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by Pilots Association against a Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) decision to implement the 1992 rules instead of the newly framed ones regarding duty hours.
A division bench of justices R.M.S. Khandeparkar and Amjad Sayed was hearing the application filed by pilots opposing the DGCA’s decision to keep its newly framed 2007 rules regarding duty hours of pilots in abeyance.
The association had said the 2007 rules were shunned because they lessened duty hours of the pilots and made the airlines to hire more pilots. DGCA says it has a right to amend the rules or keep them in abeyance, and 1992 rules were in operation for 15 years, so they can not be said to be causing much hardship to pilots now. (PTI)
Sebi passes consent order on IPO scam
Mumbai: Stock market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India, or Sebi, on Thursday passed a series of consent orders in cases related to the initial public offering (IPO) scam, in which a few market intermediaries cornered a sizable chunk of equity offerings meant for retail investors. In one such instance, the regulator has settled a case with the Reniwal Group, certain foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and sub-accounts, who were allegedly involved in cornering shares of Nissan Copper Ltd. Sebi has received a consent payment of over Rs11 crore from the accused.
In June, Sebi had received its first batch of a “consent” payment related to the IPO scam. These out-of-court settlements are reached with the consent of the involved parties and the regulator.
In the first six months of this year, the regulator has settled 66 cases this way. And since it introduced the norms for such so-called consent orders in April 2007, it has cleared 87 cases. (Khushboo Narayan / Mint)
Ranganayakulu is Sebi executive director
Mumbai: Capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India, or Sebi, on Thursday appointed Jagarlamudi Ranganayakulu as the executive director of its legal department. The position was vacant for past four months since its former legal executive director Sandeep Parekh quit in March. Ranganayakulu was a legal advisor in Sebi. He has also been an adjudicator and handled various cases, on behalf of Sebi, in courts. (Khushboo Narayan / Mint)
China’s ‘hot money’ flow slowing: report
Beijing: Foreign exchange deposits into Chinese banks in July dropped to $5.6 billion (Rs23,968 crore), down by nearly half from June, state media reported, indicating the flow of “hot money” into China is slowing.
The level of new foreign exchange deposits was lower than last month’s $8.3 billion in direct foreign investment and the $25.3-billion trade surplus, the Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.
The gap between the deposits and foreign investment showed an obvious outflow of short-term speculative funds, or hot money, the report quoted Chinese Academy of Social Sciences economist Liu Yuhui as saying. “Large amounts of capital have been flowing back to the US because of the stronger dollar,” Liu was quoted as saying.
The government has expressed concern that if the hot money trend reverses, a surge of funds out of the country could have a big impact on an economy that is already slowing down. (AFP)
Resurgere Mines IPO subscribed 1.2 times
Mumbai: Resurgere Mines and Minerals Ltd received bids for 1.2 times the shares on offer in its initial public sale that closed on Wednesday, bankers to the issue said.
The 4.45-million-share offer was fully subscribed on its last day, according to data from the National Stock Exchange (NSE). The shares were offered in a price band of Rs263-272 each. Resurgere, in which Merill Lynch and Co. Inc. holds more than 12% stake, is raising the funds for its extraction and crushing facilities and to purchase six railway wagons. “It is a small issue. So, it didn’t have a problem in sailing through,” a banker connected to the issue said. (Reuters)
Prasar Bharti notice to private news channels
New Delhi: State-owned broadcaster Prasar Bharti is believed to have issued a show cause notice to private news channels for “unauthorized” use of its Olympic footage while asking them to pay for it.
Sources close to the development said Prasar Bharti, in a strong letter to the news channels, has asked them to either stop using the Olympics footage or pay up. Official sources said Doordarshan has the sole rights to telecast the Olympics and private channels would have to take permission and come to an agreement for payment to use footage.
Top officials of leading news channels, including NDTV, CNN IBN, Zee News and India TV, declined to comment individually. News Broadcasters Association secretary general Annie Jospeh said, “This is an administrative issue and we would not like to go through the media.” (PTI)
President appeals for calm in Kashmir
New Delhi: Against the backdrop of escalating violence in Jammu and Kashmir over Amarnath land row, President Pratibha Patil on Thursday appealed for calm and said differences could be addressed through “dialogue and reconciliation.”
In her second address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day, Patil made no direct mention of the simmering crisis but said “whatever the problem, whatever the cause, whatever the reason, there is no place for violence in our society.”
She also said that India shouldn’t allow energy costs to hamper economic growth.
“We cannot let lack of energy become a constraint on our ability to deliver high levels of growth,” Patil said in her address. “With the challenges of increased oil prices and climate change, the question of energy security confronts us.”
India’s energy requirement is rising as an expanding economy boosts demand for electricity and spending by consumers on cars, motorcycles and trucks. Asia’s third-largest economy is expected to grow 7.7% in the year to 31 March from an estimated 9% a year ago, according to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s economic advisory panel report released on Wednesday. (Bloomberg/PTI)
FDA order won’t affect Subhiksha, says chief
Mumbai: Retailer Subhiksha Ltd, which has been slapped with a 20-day suspension order on its Mumbai warehouse by the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) on issues of hygiene, said that its operations in Mumbai would not be affected by it. The license of the warehouse which has been suspended is of one lakh sq. ft, managing director R. Subramaniansaid.
“We have a total of three warehouses in Maharashtra—Pune, Nagpur and Mumbai—totally comprising around three lakh sq. ft,” Subramanian said. “We always have a back-up for the supply from other warehouses in case there is some problem in any particular warehouse,” he added.
If need arises, the company may outsource from nearby states such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and other places, Subramanian said.
However, he said, “We don’t think that need will arise since we are appealing to the Bombay high court at the earliest and are confident that the matter will be resolved soon.”
Subhiksha has around 125 stores in Mumbai and 210 in the rest of Maharashtra, he said. (PTI)
Rainfall was 36% above normal last week: Met
Mumbai: The monsoon which accounts for four-fifths of India’s annual rainfall, was 36% more than average last week, likely boosting sowing of crops including rice, cotton, corn and soya bean.
The nation received 85.8 millimetres (mm) of rain in the week ended Wednesday, compared with the 50-year average of 63mm for the period, the India Meteorological Department said on its website.
Rains were excess or normal in 32 of the nation’s 36 weather zones last week, and deficient in the remainder. (Bloomberg)