On Monday, French President Nicholas Sarkozy joined Prime Mnister Manmohan Singh in clinching a nuclear power deal between France’s Areva and India’s NPCIL. Under the agreement, Areva will supply two nuclear reactors. They’ll be set up in Jaitapur, Maharashtra, and will each have a capacity of 1, 650MW of electricity. Four more reactors will follow, bringing total capacity to some 10,000MW. France will meanwhile supply uranium for the project for a period of 25 years. Overall, the deal is worth €7 billion.
And while nuclear power dominated Sarkozy’s visit, several other matters also came up. Prime Minister Singh said France was India’s most reliable defence partner. Sarkozy meanwhile welcomed negotiations on upgrading India’s Mirage planes. He also mentioned the French bid for India’s mega contract for 126 combat aircraft. On a different note, Sarkozy said the two countries had similar views on Afghanistan and that Pakistan must commit itself to fighting terrorism.
And switching to the second generation spectrum scandal, the CBI finally began questioning aides of former telecom minister A. Raja late on Thursday. The move came just one day after CBI investigators swooped down on Raja’s own home in Delhi. Officials also searched his Tamil Nadu residence and the homes of some former telecom officials. Raja could meanwhile be spotted at his Delhi residence, looking at ease while the searches went on.
Also in the telecom scandal, Ratan Tata went public this week, with an angry reply to allegations against his telecom company. On Thursday, he sent out an open letter in which he denied Tata Teleservices had any connection to the scandal. He also claimed the allegations were part of an effort to malign the UPA government. Tata’s letter was addressed to Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar who had claimed Tata Teleservices had jumped the line to get second generation spectrum. Chandrasekhar was himself once a telecom entrepreneur and is now an independent MP backed by the BJP.
Also on Thursday, India’s current telecom minister, Kapil Sibal, announced the government was appointing a committee to investigate all spectrum allocations made since 2001. The new committee will consist of just one man, a former Supreme Court judge Shivraj Patil.
And car companies may be doing brisk business, but they’re also planning to hike prices. Firms like Hyundai Motor India and General Motors India have decided to increase prices across models by 1.5-2.5%. And Maruti Suzuki and Toyota says they’ll revise prices as well. The latest hikes have been driven by rising input costs.