Kolkata: The first round of talks between the West Bengal government and the Trinamool Congress, the state’s principal opposition party, on the Singur impasse ended inconclusively, though both side agreed to talk some more.
After a two-hour meeting at the Writers Buildings — the state secretariat — on Wednesday, Trinamool Congress leader Partho Chatterjee said his party would not budge from its demand for the return of 400 acres to those farmers who were unwilling to sell land for Tata Motors Ltd’s small car factory in Singur. “We will go ahead with our sit-in demonstration (in Singur) starting 24 August,” Chatterjee said before leaving the Writers Buildings.
The state’s commerce and industries minister Nirupam Sen said the government had explained why it was impossible to return 400 acres. The government acquired 1,006 acres for the factory almost two years ago.
“But the Trinamool says it can illustrate how it could be done without disturbing the project. We have asked them to put forth their suggestions. We will soon meet them again,” Sen added.
The chief minister also took part in the discussion, which the government later described as “constructive”.
Addressing chambers of commerce on Tuesday, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had said her party wasn’t opposed to Tata Motors’ factory in Singur or industrialization in general, but she wants the government to make sure it didn’t happen at the cost of poor farmers.
— Romita Datta
India’s peak electricity shortage may hit 18.1%
Mumbai: The country’s peak electricity shortage may widen to 18.1% in the year to March as demand outstrips supply, according to a government report.
Peak demand this year may rise to 120,109MW against availability of 98,408MW, according to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), while peak shortage was 16.6%. Power generators, dogged by equipment and labour shortages, haven’t kept pace with rising demand from homes, factories, shopping malls and cinemas in India, causing blackouts in many parts. The country expanded 9% last year, the second fastest pace among major economies.
India plans to add 10,178MW of capacity by March, according to the CEA report. The target is to build 78,700MW in the five years ending March 2012.
Peak shortages may be the highest in western India, home to the country’s financial hub Mumbai and large plants including Reliance Industries Ltd’s Jamnagar refinery. Demand in the region may exceed supply by 27.4%.
Tata Motors may seek to sell investments
New Delhi: The country’s biggest truck maker, Tata Motors Ltd, may raise funds for its June purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover by selling investments to group companies as India’s benchmark equity index heads for its worst year on record.
The board scrapped a plan to raise funds by issuing convertible preference shares to help pay for the acquisition of Ford Motor Co.’s units, the company said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
The Tata group of companies includes India’s biggest steelmaker and largest computer-services provider.
Omaxe says it prepaid Rs180 cr to Indiabulls
New Delhi: Real estate developer, Omaxe Ltd said that it has pre-paid Rs180 crore, which works out to 60% of the Rs300 crore, term facility it had availed from Indiabulls Financial Services Ltd in December, 2007. The term facility was for a period of three years, Omaxe said in a filing with the Bombay Stock Exchange.
A promoter of Omaxe had pledged 2,50,58,000 equity shares of the company as collateral security with Indiabulls Financial Services to get the loan. About, 14.44% of the total paid-up share capital of the company is pledged till date with Indiabulls Financial Services. Since then, Omaxe has pre-paid Rs180 crore and the outstanding loan amount is Rs120 crore as of now.
— Shabana Hussain
‘No interference in daily functioning’ of BSE
Mumbai: Asia’s oldest stock exchange, the 133-year old Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), on Wednesday, said its board of directors does not interfere with the professional managers of the exchange.
A BSE release blamed the media for creating impression that the directors have been “interfering with the day-to-day working of the exchange and creating hurdles in the work of professional managers” and some of the “board level resignations … are the outcome” of such interference.
“BSE would like to clarify that there is no truth in these allegations” it said, adding, “board meetings are conducted in a business-like manner and … attended by top executives of the exchange as permanent invitees.”
— Staff Writer
Curfew imposed in Jammu district
Srinagar/Jammu: Police imposed curfew in Jammu district on Wednesday after 40 people were injured in clashes late on Tuesday night. The transfer of 99 acres to the Hindu Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board was scrapped in July after protests by members of the Muslim majority in Jammu and Kashmir state.
Hindus prompted further Muslim rallies with a blockade of goods from Srinagar destined for Jammu and other parts of India.
Trai allows calling cards for long-distance calls
New Delhi: In a measure that would further reduce call rates within the country, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, or Trai, on Wednesday allowed companies offering long distance calls to both within the country and abroad to sell calling cards in the country.
This recommendation, when implemented, will give mobile phone users a choice to select a telecom operator for making long distance calls. .
Calling cards, also known as telephone cards, are used to pay for telephone services. In its recommendations to the department of telecommunications or DoT, the telecom regulator said calling cards would make it possible for subscribers to select their long distance carrier “The consumer will be able to exercise choice of long distance operator for the national and international calls through calling cards. Competition would be encouraged and affordable innovative tariff plans would become available. The consumer can subscribe to any access provider and still not be dependent on the access provider for long distance calls. Through long distance calling cards, customers can make long distance calls from telephone of any access provider,” Trai said in its recommendations.
Trai has also recommended changes in the license conditions of long distance operators, allowing them to sell their services directly to the consumer.
On Wednesday, ‘The Economic Times’ first reported that telecom subscribers would be able to choose the cheapest ISD and STD tariffs, irrespective of the service provider.
— R Jai Krishna
Matrix Partners invests in pre-school chain
Mumbai: Venture firm Matrix Partners India has invested Rs30 crore in the first round of funding in preschool education chain Tree House Education and Accessories Pvt. Ltd.
The company currently owns about 45 preschools across India, mostly in Mumbai. It will use the funding to expand its footprint in other parts of the country as well. Tree House is aimed at children aged between 18 months and six years. “It is a market where parents are willing to pay for quality education,” says Matrix Partners India managing director Rishi Navani, who will join the company board. Unlike other pre-school education brands such as Eurokids and Kidzee that operate on a franchised model, Tree House owns all its centres, making it a more capital-intensive business. It is Matrix Partners’ first investment in the education space. The $450 million (Rs1,967 crore) fund has so far closed eight deals, including $10 million in the Murjani Group and an undisclosed round in eBay Inc. spin-off Quikr India Pvt. Ltd.
— Namitha Jagadeesh