STAGE SET FOR COMMENCING WORK ON LNG IMPORT
TERMINAL OF PETRONET LNG LIMITED
All pending issues between Petronet LNG Limited (PLL) and Rasgas of Qatar have been resolved and the stage is now set for commencing the physical work in respect of LNG receiving terminal at Dahej, Gujarat. This was arrived at in a meeting held today at New Delhi between Shri Ram Naik, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Mr. Abdullah Bin Hammed Al Attiyah, Minister of Energy and Industries, State of Qatar. Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar and Shri E. Ponnuswamy, Ministers of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas and senior officials from Qatar and from the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas were also present at the meeting.
Shri Ram Naik stated that PLL has made substantial progress and is now ready to award the Engineering Procurement & Construction (EPC) contract in respect of the LNG terminal at Dahej, Gujarat while the tender in respect of LNG ships is in a very advanced stage. The EPC contract for the Dahej terminal is expected to be awarded in November 2000 and the LNG supplies would begin by the end of 2003. The progress in respect of the Kochi LNG terminal was also reviewed and it was agreed that both sides would work towards advancing the schedule of commencement of LNG deliveries from January 2005 to June 2004.
Recently, a team from PLL had visited Qatar to review the progress made by Rasgas in connection with the upstream facilities required for supply of LNG by the specified date.
Pursuant to an MOU signed in January 1998 between the Governments of Qatar and India, Petronet LNG Limited (PLL), a joint venture company promoted by Navratna oil sector PSUs had signed an LNG Sale Purchase Agreement (SPA) in July 1999 with Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company (Rasgas) for supply of 7.5 million tonnes of LNG per annum for a period of 25 years at Dahej (5 million tonnes per annum) and at Kochi (2.5 million tonnes per annum). The cost of the two terminals and the corresponding LNG ships is expected to be more than Rs.6000 crore.
Both sides also reiterated their desire to explore new avenues of cooperation in various areas of the oil and gas sector. Qatar has very large gas reserves and is a major producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) amongst the Gulf countries. It also exports crude oil and is one of the prominent members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
FREE LEGAL AID SERVICES IN JAILS
The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has suggested to all the State Legal Services Authorities to consider the proposal for holding the court by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or Chief Judicial Magistrate in the respective district jails. The Magistrate should hold court once or twice in a month to take up the case of those under trial prisoners who are involved in petty offences and are keen to confess their guilt. The advice of NALSA, if implemented by the States and Union Territories, will provide speedy justice to the under trials. This is also intended to reduce over crowding in jails which is becoming a cause of concern.
Meanwhile, the State Legal Services Authorities have begun providing free legal aid and advice to prisoners in jails all over the country. Besides, Legal Aid Counsel have been appointed in all the courts of Magistrates throughout the country to provide timely and free legal assistance to persons in custody who can not engage an advocate.
The NALSA, set up under an Act of Parliament, is the apex body at the Centre dispensing legal aid measures all over the country under the aegis of the Supreme Court of India. The President of the NALSA is the second senior most judge of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of India is its pattern.
BIOTECH SOLUTION TO CRUDE SPILLAGE AND PETROLEUM SLUDGE
A biotechnology solution has been found for spillage of crude oil and petroleum sludge. A bacterial consortia which effectively degrades a very efficient crude oil and oily sludge has been isolated by a team of scientists at the Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI). This project was supported by Department of Biotechnology of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The carrier-based consortia of bacteria has been named Oilzapper. It can be packed in polybags and easily transported to the sites of refinery or accidental crude-spill areas.
At present, refineries are dumping petroleum sludge (waste after refining of crude) into specially constructed sludge pits. These pits have to be cemented so that toxic substances do not reach the ground water. This was far more expensive and the area available with the refineries being limited. Each such pit costs about Rs. 1 crore and would be full in a period of three to four years. Oilzapper completely cleans up the site in four months and more sludge could be repeatedly dumped on the same pit or site. It can also quickly clean up farming land affected by oil spillage. Oilzapper is not only a highly economical and viable proposition but also an environment friendly application. It has a tremendous potential within the country and abroad.
This technology has been demonstrated at refineries in Mathura, Barauni, Bombay and Digboi. A large area of land contaminated by the oil sludge has been reclaimed at these refineries with the use of Oilzapper. An MoU has been signed between TERI and Sriram Biotech limited, Hyderabad for the transfer of this technology and commercial production.
Government have issued a notification GSR No.757 (E) dated 29.9.2000 seeking to amend the provisions of the Drug and Cosmetic Rules, 1945 relating to holding of blood donation camps and sale of homeopathic drugs listed in Schedule K of the Rules.
In the case of blood donation camps, Government had, in April 99 issued comprehension guidelines regarding procedures relating to blood donation and operation of blood banks, under these guidelines the earlier facility available for voluntary/charitable organizations to organise blood donation camps had been withdrawn for fear that this facility can be misused. However, it is now proposed to restore the facility of conducting such camps to registered voluntary/charitable organizations recognised by the State/UT Blood Transfusion Council.
Schedule K of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rule is being amended to allow sale of certain categories of homeopathic medicines through outlets of modern systems of medicine to enhance their accessibility to the public, subject to various conditions. These conditions include requirements that the products should be sold only in the original, sealed, small quantity packings of the manufactures and shall be stored separately from other allopathic drugs. Currently homeopathic drugs are dispensed only through the dealers who are specifically licensed to sell this category of drugs.
Comments are invited from public to the proposed draft rules within 45 days from the date the notification became accessible to the public viz. 2-10-2000. Comments may be sent to Secretary, Department of Health, Nirman Bhavan, New Delhi-110010.
Government have issued two notification amending the provisions of the PFA Rules to amend the existing standards for mineral water and introducing the standards for packaged drinking water.
GSR No.759 issued on 29.9.2000 has amended the existing standard for natural mineral water whereby only water obtained directly from natural drilled underground sources complying with specified standards and packaged close to the point of emergence of the source with specific hygienic precautions and is not subjected to any treatment can be termed as natural mineral water. It is also required to be sold only under mandatory BIS certification. The standards have been aligned with international standards for this product.
The GSR No.760(E) lays down the specifications for packaged drinking water. This water can be obtained from any source and it can be treated and disinfected to achieve the specifications laid down for this product. The treatment allowed includes a range of processes such as reverse osmosis, remineralisation, filteration, aeration, decantation etc. The standards for the packaging/bottles to be used for this product have also been specified. These products can also be sold only under mandatory BIS certification.
Both the notifications will come into effect on 29.3.2001, giving the industry 6 months time to gear themselves to obtain the BIS certification.
EXPORTS LIKELY TO CROSS TARGET
NOTIFICATIONS ON SEZs ISSUED -- CONVERSION OF FOUR EPZs INTO SEZs ON NOVEMBER 1
INDUSTRIAL DECELERATION A TEMPORARY PHENOMENON
NEW INDUSTRIES ACT SOON -- TO REFLECT THE NEW REALITIES IN THE WAKE OF ECONOMIC LIBERALISATION
MARAN ADDRESSES ECONOMIC EDITORS' CONFERENCE
Shri Murasoli Maran, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, has said that India's exports during the current financial year 2000-2001 are likely to exceed the target of 18 per cent growth set for the year, going by the record growth of 23.7 per cent in dollar terms achieved in April-August 2000. Addressing the Economic Editors' Conference here today, Shri Maran said that the current year's growth as also the export turnaround witnessed in 1999-2000 could be attributed not only to external factors like the South East Asian recovery and the revival of global demand but also to the series of policy initiatives taken to effect procedural simplifications and to sustain a high-level of performance through sector-specific initiatives. Import of capital goods worth Rs.50,000 crore under the Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme had been approved in the last few years, generating export obligations of nearly Rs.250,000 crore, while electronic processing and filing of applications had provided speed, certainty and transparency to the dealings of exporters with the government. However, the Minister emphasised that there was no complacency as India's share in global trade continued to be small and much below its potential. "What is needed is not only sustaining the high trajectory of growth but also achieving a quantum jump in exports", Shri Maran said and mentioned that a medium term export strategy was being drawn up with this objective in mind. On sectoral performance, Shri Maran referred in particular the success of the Indian dairy sector which had shown a phenomenal export growth in the current year so far. Besides, exports of agricultural products had also gone up during April-August as against corresponding period during last year. Shri Omar Abdullah and Dr. Raman Singh, Ministers of State for Commerce & Industry were present on the occasion along with Shri Ajit Kumar, Secretary (IPP), Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion; Shri N.L. Lakhanpal, Directorate General of Foreign Trade; and Shri Nripendra Misra, Special Secretary, Department of Commerce.
Shri Maran announced that the balance of government notifications for setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were being issued today by the Ministry of Finance (CBEC), providing for a customs framework free of controls and said that the Zones together with the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy recently announced for SEZs would act as "magnets for investments for export production from home and abroad". He further announced that the 3 existing export processing zones (EPZs) at Mumbai, Cochin and Kandla and a private EPZ of Surat would be converted into SEZs with effect from November 1, 2000 in order to give a fillip to the units in these zones. Stating that many state governments and the private sector were working hard to establish these zones, the Minister said that in principle approvals for setting up of seven SEZs had already been granted. Emphasising that exports should be viewed as a national effort, Shri Maran stated that the government had evolved a scheme for involving the state/UT governments by providing financial assistance proportionate to the export efforts for which an allocation of Rs.250 crore had already been proposed in the current year.
On industrial growth, Shri Maran said that the moderate deceleration in the current year (April-August 2000) was a temporary phenomenon and a pick up in industrial growth was expected later this year with increased domestic demand, buoyant exports and rise in investment. He announced that the New Industries Act would soon be put in place replacing the existing Act which would reflect the new realities in the wake of economic liberalisation. The new Act would focus on development and decentralisation, the Minister said. Referring to FDI, the Minister said that FDI inflows were likely to reach US $ 5 billion in this calendar year, with inflows in the first 8 months having already reached $ 3 billion. Stating that the government's focus was now on resolving post-approval difficulties faced by foreign investors through the mechanism of the Foreign Investment Implementation Authority (FIIA), Shri Maran underlined the importance of FDI in bringing in technology, supplementing the domestic savings and in generating jobs.
Responding to queries on imports, Shri Maran reiterated that the government would not allow the country to become a dumping ground and would use all possible measures through tariffs and other means to protect the interests of indigenous industry. Further, he said that there had been no surge in imports and cited data which showed that non-oil imports during April-August 2000 had increased only by 2.78 per cent. Of the 714 tariff lines on which the QRs had been removed with effect from 1 April, 2000, imports had taken place in respect of 400 tariff lines with a total value of around Rs.800 crore. Of this, Rs.600 crore worth of imports were of essential items such as those required by the gem & jewellery sector etc. for exports and only Rs.200 crore worth of imports were of consumer goods. However, Shri Maran stressed that keeping in view the dismantling of the remaining 715 QRs in 2001, the anti-dumping procedures were being streamlined and further strengthened. Anti-dumping actions had been initiated as many as 71 cases, he added.
On the post-Seattle scenario, Shri Maran said that India was participating effectively in the ongoing negotiations in the WTO in respect of services and agriculture which had commenced in January 2000 with a view to projecting and protecting national interests. India's main concern during the services negotiations would be to get commitments from the developed countries on the movement of natural persons, particularly professionals, while in agriculture, India's main concerns would be to get increased market access in the developed country markets by making them remove their trade distorting subsidies, Shri Maran said. "We would also like to ensure our food security by making sure that the livelihood of our farmers is not adversely affected due to imports", he stated. The Minister emphasised that India would like implementation issues to be tackled upfront before the launching of any new round.
PUNJAB C M THANKS CENTRE FOR FINALLY CLEARING WAY FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF BHATINDA REFINERY PROJECT
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Shri Prakash Singh Badal, today called on the Petroleum Minister, Shri Ram Naik to express his gratitude for providing final clearance to the Bhatinda (Punjab) Refinery project of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL). He said that the project, once implemented, would prove a catalyst in ushering fast paced industrial development in the region besides making available vital petroleum products to the people at their doorstep. Speaking at the meeting, Shri Ram Naik said that it would be his endeavour to see that the 9 million tonne refinery project is implemented expeditiously in keeping with the new result oriented working culture introduced by the Government. It may be recalled that this project had earlier been approved by the Government to be implemented by HPCL as a Joint Venture. However now the HPCL could start work on the refinery on their own and simultaneously look for the joint venture partner.
Referring to the recent increase in the prices of petroleum products necessitated by sharp increases in crude oil prices abroad, Shri Ram Naik expressed his happiness on the low sales-tax regime prevalent in the State of Punjab under the leadership of Shri Badal. The sales-tax rate on diesel in the State of Punjab is about 9% as compared to 34% in the case of Maharashtra, 25% in Madhya Pradesh, more than 20% in Gujarat and 20% in Uttar Pradesh and, to quote a few examples. The Minister, however, reiterated his appeal made recently to all the Chief Ministers regarding passing on to the consumers the incremental sales-tax revenue as a result of the price increase with suitable adjustments in sales-tax rate. The Chief Minister assured to consider the issue keeping in mind in the interest of consumers.
FIVE WOMEN TO RECEIVE STREE SHAKTI PURASKAR FOR 1999
The prestigious Stree Shakti Puraskar for 1999 has gone to five women, one each from Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala and Tamil Nadu who have triumphed over difficult circumstances and have fought and established rights of women in various fields. They are Smt. Kinkri Devi of Sirmaur, Himachal Pradesh, Smt. Lilatai Pradkar of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Smt. Brahamcharini Kamla Bai of District Nagaur, Rajasthan, Smt. K.V. Rabiya of Malappuram District, Kerala and Smt. Chinnapillai of Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
The Awards were instituted in 1999 after five eminent women in Indian history, viz. Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, Kannaki, Mata Jijabai, Rani Gaidinliu and Rani Lakshmi Bai. Each award which caries a cash prize of Rs.1 lakh and a citation is conferred on an individual woman who has made outstanding contribution in the field of social development.
Smt. Kinkri Devi was born in 1940 in village Ghaton which is located in the backward transgiri area of Tehsil Sangrah of District Sirmaur. She is the daughter of a poor scheduled caste farmer. Confronted with the grim scenario of reduction of forest cover and resultant depletion of fire wood, contamination of water supply and degradation of agriculture land due to reckless lime-stone quarrying in the hills of Sangrah, Smt. Kinkri Devi waged a relentless war against powerful vested interests by venturing into a domain hitherto no one had dared to enter and this has made her a living legend in Himachal Pradesh. Smt. Kinkri Devi will be conferred with the Jhansi Ki Rani Lakshmi Bai Stree Shakti Puraskar for the year 1999.
Smt. Lilatai Pradkar was born on 2.2.1925 and is associated with the cause of women empowerment for decades. She guided the women to fight for their rights and become self-reliant. From 1975 onwards Smt. Pradkar has established the 'Banwasi' Kalyan Ashram for Women, 'Nivedita Kanya Chhatrawas' in District Rai Garh, 'Banwasi Kanya Chatrawas', 'Maharani Durgawati Kanya Chhatrawas' and 'Banwasi Bal Sanskar Kendra' in Dhar District. Smt. Lilatai Pradkar will be conferred with the Rani Gaidinliu Stree Shakti Puraskar for the year 1999.
Smt. Brahamacharini Kamla Bai was born in 1923 at Kuchamancily, District Naguar (Rajasthan). She was married at a tender age of 12 and was unfortunately widowed barely two years thereafter. Being totally illiterate she found herself in wilderness, without any help or support. Her helplessness made her aware of the necessity of spreading literacy among women and girls in backward classes. This idea motivated her to shift to Shri Mahavirji - a small tribal town in Karauli District (Rajasthan), an economically backward district with no educational facilities. She joined Shri Mahavir Mumuksha Mahila Ashram - an orphanage for ladies and not only educated herself but acquired knowledge about our scriptures, history and culture. She started her own Adarsh Mahila Vidyalaya with barely six girls in 1953. The school today has a strength of 2000 girls students. Smt. Brahamcharini Kamla Bai will be conferred with the Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Stree Shakti Puraskar for the year 1999.
Smt. K.V. Rabiya was born on 25.2.1966 in a poor muslim family in the backward district of Malappuram in the State of Kerala. She lost the use of her legs in her first year at the College. Inspite of this she has built up a movement of community service and has spearheaded an adult literacy campaign. She achieved the unique distinction of bringing the illiterate population of Tirurangadi Constituency into her study classes. Smt. K.V. Rabiya will be conferred with the Kannaki Stree Shakti Puraskar for the year 1999.
Smt. Chinnapillai was born in Pullisery Village, Madurai District. She worked as a traditional Kothu leader for 35 years and was involved in organising and working with co-agricultural labourers in her own village for undertaking various agricultural operations on a collective basis to maximise benefits to individuals. She is actively engaged in organising the poor women into savings and credit groups not only in her village, block and district but also in other districts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Smt. Chinnapillai will be conferred with the Mata Jijabai Stree Shakti Puraskar for the year 1999.
HIGH PRIORITY TO THE MODERNISATION OF ARMED FORCES
DEFENCE MINISTER INAUGURATES COMBINED COMMANDERS CONFERENCE
Expeditious modernisation of armed forces and acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment in the context of long-term threat perception was a high priority area for the Government. This was stated by Defence Minister, Shri George Fernandes while inaugurating the annual Combined Commanders Conference of armed forces here today. He pointed out that in the recent past, agreements had been concluded for the transfer of technology for the indigenous production of T-90 tanks and Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft. He also referred to the acquisition of an additional 10 Mirage-2000 aircraft and aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. The Minister said that work on the acquisition of AJT Hawk was well underway. Shri Fernandes also mentioned the approval given by the Government for the construction of an indigenous aircraft carrier.
Referring to the significant hike of over 28 per cent in budgetary allocation for defence in the current budget as against the previous year, Shri Fernandes asked the Commanders to ensure that defence expenditure was cost effective and delays were avoided. He explained the measures that have been taken in the last two years to streamline procurement procedures and to arrive at quicker decisions. The Defence Minister also talked about the system of mandatory and time bound scrutiny and audit of all major past and future procurements to ensure utmost transparency and probity in
defence procurement and work contracts. He expressed the hope that the system would put to rest the numerous allegations of irregularities in different defence deals that have been made in the past. Shri Fernandes highlighted the fact that every extra rupee that was spent on defence was at the expense of allocation for priority sectors of the nations economic development.
Drawing the attention of the Commanders to the measures being taken to review national security system during the 15 months since the Kargil conflict, the Minister referred to the importance of the report of the Subrahmanyan Committee on Kargil and the establishment of the Group of Ministers (GoMs) to review the national security system in its entirety. He also indicated that the task forces set up by the GoM in the areas of intelligence apparatus, internal security, border management and defence management had submitted their reports and that the GoM was actively engaged in the expeditious consideration of the recommendations of the task forces.
The Defence Minister pointed out that the world was now poised for another revolution in military affairs with information technology and advanced military systems set to transform the very nature of war as we know it now. He also stated in this context that there was now a growing recognition of the role that India can play in ensuring regional and global peace and security in the emerging polycentric world. The Defence Minister stated that a militarily strong and confident India backed by a vibrant economy was the need of the hour.
Shri Fernandes noted that the security environment in Indias immediate and extended neighbourhood had continued to deteriorate over the years. In particular, he drew attention to the menace of international and cross-border terrorism which was growing rapidly in all parts of the world, both in magnitude and in sophistication. Shri Fernandes called for a continuous effort to monitor and analyse developments in this area in a more detailed and focused manner.
Shri Fernandes referred to the geo-strategic importance of the Central Asian Republics and countries in the sub-Saharan African region, particularly the Indian Ocean Rim states. He also said that the ASEAN countries which lay in our extended neighbourhood were important to India in security terms. The Minister expressed satisfaction that Indias efforts to bring these countries closer through diplomatic initiatives, economic relations, mutual exchanges and visits by Service Chiefs and goodwill visits by Indian Navy ships were bearing fruits.
At the outset, the Defence Minister congratulated the armed forces for the magnificent victory in Kargil and the professionalism, courage and competence of the Indian contingent in the UN Peace Keeping Force in Sierra Leone. He noted that India has emerged from the Kargil conflict as the clear victor both in military and diplomatic terms and now it had a new standing among the nations of the world and the major powers were now ready to open new vistas of cooperation with us. He also spoke highly of the tremendous contribution of the armed forces in disaster relief operations, particularly during the recent floods in various parts of the country.
In his concluding remarks, Shri Fernandes exhorted the Commanders to evolve ways and means of overcoming various problems that confront the armed forces and national security. He expressed full confidence that the armed forces would, as in the past, continue to meet any challenge to our national security.
INDIA GETS US $ 446 MILLION IDA CREDIT FOR DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
India and the World Bank signed Legal Agreements for the Third Technician Education Project and the Gujarat State Highway Project for International Development Association (IDA) credit of US $ 64.9 million and US $ 381million respectively, here today. The agreements were signed by Shri Navin Kumar, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Edwin Lim, Country Director, World Bank and representatives of the State Governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Jammu & Kashmir and Gujarat and the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar.
The Third Technician Education Project will assist the above mentioned States (except Gujarat) to meet their emerging manpower requirements of the industry, infrastructure and service sectors. Besides, 18 project polytechnics will develop close linkages with local community to train rural artisans, educated unemployed and school dropouts and assist in technology transfer to villages to enhance employability and income generation capacity of urban and rural poor.
The project aims to impart technical skills and meet the requirement of technical man power by (i) Developing/expanding capacity to provide increased access to technician education; (ii) Enhancing quality of education to produce better trained technicians; and (iii) Improving efficiency through better planning, administration and utilization of the system and increasing its responsiveness to emerging labour market needs.
The project would be implemented over a period of six years and has a total project cost of US $ 80.00 million. Out of this, US $ 64.90 million would be met through World Bank (IDA)'s interest free credit. The balance would be contributed by the Government of India/States. The project is expected to be completed by 30th June, 2006.
The Gujarat State Highway Project would assist the State of Gujarat in effective and efficient road infrastructure planning and management and maximising the existing road infrastructure asset utilisation through priority investments. The project also includes a component for road maintenance and institutional strengthening. Out of the total project cost of US $ 533 million, the World Bank would provide US $ 381 million and the balance would be contributed by the Government of India/State. The loan has a variable spread and rate, and is a single-currency loan with a grace period of five years and a maturity of 20 years. The project would be implemented over a period of five years and is expected to be completed by 31st December, 2005.
FOUR NEW MEMBERS JOIN CBDT
Four new Members have joined the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). They are Shri R. K. Pathania, Shri P.K. Sarma, Shri T.K. Das and Shri Raj Narain. With the four new members joining, the CBDT now has six Members', besides the Chairman.
While Shri R. K. Pathania is from the 1964 batch, the other three officers belong to the 1965 batch of the Indian Revenue Service. Shri Pathania was Chief Commissioner-III, Mumbai while Shri P. K. Sarma was Director-General (Investigation), Mumbai before their elevation as Members, CBDT. Shri T.K. Das was earlier Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Calcutta. Shri Raj Narain was Chief Commissioner, Income tax, Delhi before his present assignment.
'28' CEA FACILITATES INNOVATIVE POWER DEAL BETWEEN DELHI AND RAJASTHAN
Central Electricity Authority (CEA) through its Northern Regional Electricity Board (NREB) has facilitated the signing of an agreement between Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) and Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited (RRVPNL) for the supply of power to Rajasthan during night hours. Under the agreement, which will remain in force upto 15th March 2001, DVB would divert part of its share in Dadri Thermal Power Station to Rajasthan during 11 PM to 6 AM. Apart from the this, power allocated to Delhi out of unallocated portion from central sector power stations would also be shared between Delhi and Rajasthan on time slot basis. Delhi will utilize its share of unallocated power during morning and evening peak hours and Rajasthan during the remaining period of the day.
DVB becomes surplus in power during night hours from October to March whereas Rajasthan requires additional power to meet its irrigation requirements for Rabi crops during this period. According to the existing commercial arrangement in the Northern Region, the DVB had been paying penalty in the last couple of years for not being able to draw full power allocated to it during night hours when grid frequency is generally above 50.2 Hz. The above arrangement of sharing of allocation of power on time slot basis, conceived by NREB will prove beneficial to both Delhi and Rajasthan.
Last year CEA through its regional arms facilitated bulk inter-regional transfer of power exceeding 9,040 million units which helped in mitigating power shortages in the deficient regions.
RAILWAY EARNINGS GO UP BY OVER SEVEN PER CENT
Indian Railways earnings from passenger and goods traffic from the first of April to the 20th of September this year have shown an increase of 7.60 per cent over the corresponding period last year The Railways earned Rs.16033.79 crore from passenger and goods traffic during the report period, while it was Rs.14900.81 crore during the same period in 1999-2000.
Earnings from Passenger traffic showed an increase of 9.92 per cent and earnings from goods traffic went up by 6.44 per cent compared to the corresponding period in the last financial year.
RECOMMENDATIONS OF TRAI ON FRESH LICENSES FOR VSAT
TRAI today provided the Government with its recommendations on fresh licenses for VSATs. These recommendations reflect the view that at a time when the country is faced with acute shortage of bandwidth, the growth of VSATs needs to be encouraged so that their potential is fully harnessed. The present license conditions appear to be onerous and restrictive, and not conducive for promoting growth and helping VSATs to realize their full potential.
In a country like ours where distances are large and terrain not always conducive to laying of terrestrial lines, the role and importance of VSAT cannot be over emphasised. The urgent need to encourage growth of VSAT networks has, therefore, been the basis for the recommendations made in response to DOT's reference. Basically, these are for reducing entry and licence fees to practical levels and allowing due flexibility in the operations of the networks so that their enhanced utility leads to higher usage and revenue. TRAI is of the view that implementation of these recommendations is most likely to give the much needed fillip to the growth of this versatile and highly effective means of communication.
1.RECOMMENDATIONS RELATING TO ISSUE OF LICENSE & LICENSE FEE
TRAI has recommended the license to be non-exclusive, permitting unrestricted entry and free competition. Entry to new operators may be allowed freely, subject only to the licensor being satisfied about the operators seriousness to enter the business and his financial and technical ability to operate the network efficiently.
A modest one time entry fee of Rs. 30 lakhs has been recommended. The amount, which will have to be deposited in cash, will be utilised towards the prescribed per VSAT license fee as the roll out takes place.
A minimum roll out obligation of 5 VSATs along with the hub within one year of the grant of the license has been recommended.
An additional entry fee (as bank guarantee) of Rs. 10 lakhs, to be returned if the roll out obligation is fulfilled within the first year has been recommended. In case the agreed roll out does not take place even after one year of the grant of the license, the bank guarantee is to be encashed and another bank guarantee of Rs. 10 lakh is to be taken from the licensee. If the roll out obligation is not fulfilled by the end of two years, the license would be terminated.
Substantial reduction in the license fee has been recommended. Although the fee continues to be on the basis of per VSAT per annum, a graded scale of license fee based on the size of the VSAT network has been recommended. With the increasing size of the network, the license fee has been reduced so as to provide incentive to the operator for increasing the coverage of the network. As against the present license fee of Rs. 50,000/- per VSAT per annum, the revised license fee recommended is as under :-
License fee per VSAT for basic rate bearer service i.e. 64 kbps
1 to 500 VSATs Rs. 20,000 per VSAT per annum, with a minimum amount of Rs. 30 lakhs per annum #
501 to 1,000 VSATs Rs. 15,000 per VSAT per annum, with a
minimum amount of Rs. 100 lakhs per annum
Above 1,000 VSATs Rs. 10,000 per VSAT per annum, with a
minimum amount of Rs. 150 lakhs per annum
# the amount of Rs. 30.00 lakhs which is stipulated as the minimum license fee also serves the purpose of an entry fee.
Concessional license fee for inclined orbit operations has been recommended. A 25% discount has been recommended to be applied on the standard per VSAT license fee. The minimum amount payable, which is also the entry fee, i.e. Rs. 30 lakhs, will however remain unchanged.
Considering the role that Receive only terminals can play in transmission of information relating to health education, distance learning, and disaster management, TRAI is strongly in favour of their free proliferation and have accordingly recommended that no license fee be levied on Receive only terminals.
At present transmission at the speed of only 64 kbps is permitted to VSAT operators. In the interest of improving the range of services and the overall utility of these networks, TRAI has recommended that the VSAT service operators be allowed data transmission at speeds upto 512 kbps. For using speeds higher than the 64 kbps, which is being treated as the basic speed, TRAI has recommended a graded surcharge, per VSAT per annum, as under :-
1) Above 64 kbps and upto 128 kbps Rs. 10,000
2) Above 128 kbps and upto 384 kbps Rs. 20,000
3) Above 384 kbps and upto 512 kbps Rs. 50,000
(i) WPC Wing charges to be waived
In the interest of growth of VSAT services, it is recommended that the Government may consider not levying yet another Rs. 5,000/- per VSAT, charge by the WPC Wing. The following charges which go to the WPC Wing may, however, be continued:
1) Royalty - Rs. 20,000 per annum for the hub station
2) License fee - Rs. 100 per station (hub or VSAT
For the existing service providers, it is recommended that no additional entry fee be charged for migration because these service providers have been paying the minimum license fee per annum for the years they have been in operation.
2. OTHER ISSUES
In addition to the conditions of license, entry fee and license fee, TRAI has made some other far reaching recommendations which will change the nature and scope of VSAT services in the country. Some of these are the following:
TRAI has recommended that while private VSAT network services should continue to be a Closed User Group (CUG) service, in order to enhance its utility and usage, definition of CUG should be revised to increase the coverage of a group. In this regard TRAI has recommended that the definition of a group may be amended to allow formation of a larger group consisting of smaller groups amongst which there is community of interests, for example, groups of banks and financial institutions, health service providers, groups in the business of transportation, educational institutions and libraries, etc.
TRAI is of the view that the extant conditions regarding voice traffic on CUG networks should not be changed. Occasional voice traffic which is permissible in the current licensing conditions may be continued.
For more details, please see "http://www.trai.gov.in"
'33' AFWWA NOW ON INTERNET
TO START VENTURE CAPITAL FUND
FREE COMPUTER EDUCATION
With the launch of its website today, Air Force Wives Welfare Association is now only a click away for its more than one lac fifty thousand members in any part of the world. The website was launched by Mrs Usha Narayanan who was the Chief guest on the 31st anniversary celebrations of AFWWA today at Subroto Park. Mrs Narayanan also released the annual issue of AFWWA magazine "Sangini" and presented AFWWA awards to its members for outstanding contributions. She also presented scholarships to two of the special children from the Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute.
Speaking on the occasion Mrs Narayanan complimented AFWWA members for their contribution in making the Air Force a happy family. She said contribution of the organisation in the field of widow welfare, health care, adult literacy, vocational training and assistance to special children is worth emulating.
Mrs Molina Tipnis, President AFWWA, speaking on the occasion said that AFWWA will soon launch a venture capital fund to assist its members to start new ventures either individually or as a group. To start with, seven such ventures will be taken up, one at each of Air Force Command HQs. She also announced free basic computer training for all AFWWA members to help them participate in the IT revolution and get connected through the net.
During the last one year AFWWA contributed more than RS. 16.3 lacs for the soldiers killed/injured during Kargil Operations. Additionally approx 17 lac rupees were paid to the widows, more than Rs. 11 lacs for the scholarships and Rs. 15 lacs for the Super Speciality Veterans Hospital.
AFWWA is a welfare organisation for the personnel of the IAF and their family members. With a humble beginning and just seven members in 1970, today AFWWA has more than one lac fifty thousand members.
PRIMITIVE TRIBAL GROUPS (PTGs) OF INDIA NEED TO BE SOCIALLY AND ECONOMICALLY DEVELOPED AND INTEGRATED WITH THE MAIN STREAM
The Government of India has identified 75 tribal communities as Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs). According to 1991 census, the population of these groups is approximately 13-14 lacs.
As a first step toward this, a Conference was organised here yesterday with regard to mobilising voluntary efforts to supplement Government policies for the development of PTGs. It was inaugurated and conducted by Shri Jual Oram, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs.Around 53 reputed Voluntary Organisations (VOs) working all over India from North East to Andaman Nicobar and kanyakumari participated in the Conference.
The PTGs are the most underdeveloped section within the tribals. They are mostly food gatherers, hunters and nomadics. Literacy among these groups is negligible. It has been noticed that their survival is unstable and in some cases, population is declining. Government in the past have been trying to implement several schemes for economic and social development. Since the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is exclusively constituted for overall development of tribals, the emphasis is doubled for the economic upliftment of PTGs.
It is observed that may voluntary organisations like Ram Krishna Mission, Vidya Bharati, Bhartiya Adimjati Sevak Sangh, Akhil Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Bharat Sevashram Sangh, Seva Bharati, Vivekanand Kendra, Friends of Tribal Society, Bharat kalyan Pratishthan and Deendayal Research Institute are working in thousands of tribal villages all over the country in the field of education, health and social upliftment. Although they are implementing projects for PTGs directly or indirectly but these are not in an integrated and holistic manner. The Minister called upon VOs to work for specific PTGs and help them to achieve a certain level of social and economic development. In coming few weeks, many of them have proposed to come with concrete proposals for the PTGs. Later it was agreed that the projects would run for a specific time/period and the Government fund will be withdrawn after that in a systematic way. For established VOs the process of funding will be made easy. On the other hand, VOs which are not functioning properly would be heavily penalised. However, established VOs have been requested to watch the activities of NGOs who are not working sincerely.