New Delhi: Days ahead of opening of new airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad, a parliamentary committee on Wednesday asked the government to renegotiate agreements with private parties developing the new airports to ensure that the existing airports are not closed down.
“The government still has time to renegotiate the issue with the concessionaire and can modify or scrap the clause which facilitates the closure of the existing airports,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, who heads the standing committee on transport, tourism and culture, told reporters here.
“The committee strongly recommends unanimously and unequivocally to the government of India that the existing Hyderabad and Bangalore airports should not be closed for commercial operations,” the 131st report of the committee, tabled in Parliament, said.
Set for takeoff: The new Bangalore airport is likely to be opened later this month. (Photo: Hemant Mishra/ Mint)
While the new Hyderabad airport is slated for inauguration on 14 March, the new Bangalore airport is likely to be opened later this month. The existing airports in the two cities are to be closed down from the next day of the opening of the new ones.
Quoting the report on the closure of the airports, Yechury said, “The possible revenue implications of such a renegotiation must not inhibit the government from proceeding on such a course in national interest.”
Asked about high costs involved in renegotiating the agreements with the developers, Yechury said increased air traffic in the two cities and commercial viability of having more than one airport in a city were “enough basis to renegotiate the concession agreements in national interests”. Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh high court on Wednesday posted further hearings to 4 April on a public interest litigation filed seeking orders against the closure of the current airport in Hyderabad. It asked the government to produce the recommendations of the task force on infrastructure, based on which the airport deals were signed.
(C.R. Sukumar in Hyderabad contributed to this story.)
Civic bodies get a carbon credits manual
New Delhi: In a bid to get the 3,000 municipalities across the country to improve the efficiency of their public works projects, the International Finance Corp., a member of the World Bank group, the government’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency and international non-profit organization Alliance to Save Energy have developed a manual that, among other things, will be a reference guide to apply for carbon credits.
The manual, which also doubles as a status report, says energy costs account for 40-60% of municipalities’ operating expenses on water supply alone. If the recommendations of the manual are implemented, India can avoid 600MW of fresh installations every year. India accounts for nearly one-third of clean development mechanism projects, a popular way to generate tradable carbon credits.
India must move fast to finalize nuke deal: Boucher
New Delhi: A top US diplomat gave India until the end of May to finalize a landmark nuclear energy deal with the US, saying on Wednesday that American lawmakers would need time to debate and, hopefully, ratify the pact before their summer break.
The renewed American pressure came as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was still trying to overcome fierce domestic opposition to the pact, which both sides had originally hoped to wrap up before the end of last year.
“We’re kind of playing in overtime right now. There’s a lot of work, not a lot of time,” US assistant secretary of state Richard Boucher told reporters in New Delhi.
With American elections coming up—and no guarantee the next US administration will keep the deal on the table—Boucher said India needed to complete two final steps by May if the US Congress was going to have time to deal with it. Congress breaks for the summer in early July, and many lawmakers will be busy campaigning in the fall.
“You need to get it to Congress by June, which means we need to get some of the other steps completed by the end of May,” said Boucher.
Those other steps Boucher referred to are India reaching separate deals with the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Commission and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a collection of countries that export nuclear material. Both deals are needed before the US Congress can ratify the pact.
“It is still possible to do all these things, but they’re each going to require an accelerated timetable and a lot of effort,” he added.
The nuclear pact faces stiff opposition in India.
-Matthew Rosenberg/ AP
Nimbus plans Rs15 cr ad pitch for ‘niche’ channel
New Delhi: Neo Sports Plus, the non-cricket TV channel launched by media and entertainment firm Nimbus Communications Ltd, is looking to the very sport it doesn’t telecast—cricket—to promote itself among affluent viewers.
“We’re getting into an overdrive next month with Neo Sports Plus, we are targeting the elite,” says Nimbus marketing vice-president Ranjith Rajashekharan. The company has planned a Rs15 crore promotional budget to target this section.
Neo Plus has especially targeted three “niche” sports— tennis, golf and European football. Unlike Neo Sports, which Rajashekharan described as a mass channel, Neo Plus is not looking at large viewership but at “quality numbers”.
Its new path, however, is through cricket. The company plans to begin peddling the channel’s promotional campaign when the South African cricket team visits India this month. The promo will be aired on Neo Sports, which owns the exclusive telecast rights to all official international and domestic matches played in India. “Cricket has a captive attention,” says Rajashekharan.
Neo Plus has also tied up with about 30 golf clubs to reach out to a “cream audience” that plays and follows the sport.
Nimbus Sports has planned a year-long acquisition of specific sports properties for Neo Plus, and recently acquired the telecast right of major tennis tournaments with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
Additionally, it has signed an agreement with the International Tennis Federation to telecast the Federation Cup and the Davis Cup in the Indian subcontinent from 2008 to 2011, as well as the PGA Tour for broadcasting the US arm of the tour in 2008 and 2009.
Rajashekharan says they are looking at the German and Italian football leagues. Badminton, motor sport, snooker and pool will be secondary drivers for the channel.
In the long run, the plan is to have live telecast of major international sports events six days a week on an average, he says.