Kolkata: Realty firm DLF Ltd’s biggest project in eastern India—a 4,840-acre township at Dankuni near Kolkata on which the company plans to spend around Rs40,000 crore—was virtually called off by West Bengal’s urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya, who said on Tuesday his government wouldn’t acquire land forcibly even if it meant giving up on the project.
“People don’t seem to mind private companies acquiring land (in Dankuni), but when the government wants to buy land there, they resist. Anyhow we’ll try to convince people there, but if at the end of the day, people don’t want the township, it won’t happen,” Bhattacharya said at state secretariat Writers’ Buildings. “We’ll not acquire land forcibly.” “There is no point in people having to live in fear of losing land,” Bhattacharya said.
In July 2006, DLF beat Emaar MGF Land Ltd and a few other real estate companies to win the right to build the proposed township at Dankuni through competitive bidding. It offered more than Rs2,700 crore for 4,840 acres, or around Rs56 lakh an acre. The company paid 10% of the amount it bid in January last year to formally secure the project.
The West Bengal government, which had committed in an agreement with DLF to start delivering land from the middle of this year, has so far managed to acquire as little as about 150 acres, according to a bureaucrat at the urban development department, who did not wish to be named. “This (acquisition) was done with consent from some 350 people,” he said.
Local people are resisting to the project. The ruling Left Front did poorly in Dankuni in the local body polls last month, losing both the district council seats there.
DLF’s eastern India head Sudhir Sahgal said his company was still committed to the project. “It was to be built under a public-private partnership with the government. So, we aren’t the only loser. What we had planned is a city of the future—a truly global city—that would have benefited the local people,” Sahgal told ‘Mint’.
In Bangalore, too, DLF’s projects are facing delay for want of government clearances. The company proposes to build three townships in the southern city, including one on 9,170 acres, but each is trailing schedule.
Though he didn’t elaborate, Bhattachayra referred to a spate of land deals that have resulted in prices of land at Dankuni, particularly of plots along the NH2, or Grand Trunk Road, the national highway that connects Kolkata with northern India, going up to Rs1.2 crore an acre.
Anisur Rahman, a real estate broker from Dankuni, said plots along the highway were selling at Rs1.7-2 lakh a ‘cottah’, which is a sixtieth of an acre.
“Our understanding is ownership of as much as 2,000 acres (at Dankuni) has changed over the last two years. Small companies have been buying land from farmers in the hope of making a killing when the DLF project happened,” said the bureaucrat at the urban development department.
This means even if the government chooses to buy land with consent of owners, it might end up paying much more than what it would earn from DLF. “The project might have already turned a loss proposition for us,” he said.
Méthode publishing system at Dow Jones
New York :Dow Jones and Co. will use Milano, Italy-based EidosMedia SpA’s Méthode publishing platform for the print and Web editions of ‘The Wall Street Journal’.
‘WSJ’ has an exclusive content partnership in India with ‘Mint’.
Dow will also use the system to produce its weekly ‘Barron’s’ magazine and its online edition, as well as its free financial news website MarketWatch.com.
“We have built a global, integrated newsroom and we need the latest technology that fully supports the high demands of this environment,” said Jim Pensiero, ‘WSJ’ vice-president of news projects. “Méthode is the right technology for this environment.”
“Being able to manage all of our news products from a common Méthode platform will simplify our operations considerably,” said Jack Gelman, chief technology officer of the Dow Jones Consumer Media Group.
‘WSJ’ is currently produced in three main print editions for the US, Europe and Asia. Localized news and advertising in the US edition result in several dozen variants, all of which will be created and managed within Méthode.
Dow Jones is the third user to adopt the EidosMedia platform in the US, after ‘The Seattle Times’ and asset management company AllianceBernstein Holding Lp.
‘Mint’, published by HT Media Ltd, has been using the Méthode publishing system since its launch in February 2007. Staff Writer
Oil bubble raises chances of a recession, says Soros
New York: Billionaire investor George Soros said an oil price “bubble” is working with fundamentals in the market that may lead to a recession in the world’s largest economy, the US.
“The rise in oil prices aggravates the prospects for a recession,” Soros said in testimony prepared for delivery on Tuesday to the US senate committee on commerce, science, and transportation. “The bubble is superimposed on an upward trend in oil prices that has a strong foundation in reality,” he said. “To be sure, a crash in the oil market is not imminent.”
The committee is holding hearings on potential energy price manipulation. Congressional leaders are pushing the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and other agencies to step up efforts at overseeing the markets for fuels such as petrol as retail prices are forcing consumers to drive less. The hearings come as oil has retreated from a record $135.09 a barrel on May 22.
Petrol demand in America fell 5.5% from a year ago in the week ended 23 May, according to MasterCard Inc.’s weekly SpendingPulse report. Sales have declined in 15 of the past 18 reports, when compared with a year earlier.
Soros said too much regulation of oil markets could drive trading into unregulated areas such as the over-the-counter market. He laid some of the blame on recent oil price rises on commodity index funds, which only buy oil contracts, helping to push prices higher.
“Commodity indexes are not a legitimate asset class,” he said. He added that raising margin accounts would not affect index trading but could function to limit speculation.
Oil has gained 91% in a year. CFTC said it’s been investigating the transportation, storage and trading of US crude since December. Matthew Leising