Tuesday, December 11, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

SC upholds Balco disinvestment
New Delhi, December 10
In a shot in the arm for the disinvestment policy, the Supreme Court today upheld the Centre’s decision to transfer 51 per cent of its share in Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) at Korba “transparently” to the highest bidder Sterlite Industries for Rs 551.5 crore.

CMIE lowers GDP growth to 5.7 pc
Mumbai, December 10
The Indian economy is estimated to grow by 5.7 per cent this fiscal as against the earlier projection of 6 per cent, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.

Car exports rise except Maruti’s
New Delhi, December 10
Exports of “Made-in-India” commercial vehicles, multi-utility-vehicles, scooters, mopeds and three-wheelers dropped this fiscal even as cars and motor cycles continued to post positive growth.

  • LML bike sales up

Spice slashes airtime tariff
Chandigarh, December 10
Spice today announced a drop of up to 50 per cent in its outgoing airtime rates. The charges will be applicable from today. Mr Vinod Sawhney, MD, Spice, said the new tariffs would provide a growth accelerator to the mobile telephone market in Punjab.

Naik: ethanol to be mixed with petrol
New Delhi, December 10
The sale of petrol blended with 5 per cent ethanol derived from sugarcane will soon begin in Punjab, Haryana and some other states, the Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Ram Naik informed Parliament today.

Picasso collection in India
New Delhi, December 10
Hold your breath. France's priceless collection of Pablo Picasso, easily the most influential artist of the 20th century, is set to touch Indian shores for the first time.

VIDEO
The Indian jewellery show, "Jewel 2001," showcasing the most exquisite creations, was inaugurated in Hyderabad recently.
(28k, 56k)


Madonna
US pop star Madonna presents this year's Turner's Prize of £ 20,000 at a ceremony at the Tate Britain art gallery in London on Sunday. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 
A Chinese resident bicycles past a billboard, showing a foreigner bathing on a pool, in Shanghai on Monday.
A Chinese resident bicycles past a billboard, showing a foreigner bathing on a pool, in Shanghai on Monday. More advertisements have appeared throughout China, trying to lure more foreigners to the country as it formally enters the WTO on Tuesday. — Reuters

Videocon third bidder for Dabhol Power?
Mumbai, December 10
The Videocon group is understood to have emerged as the third bidder for the troubled Dabhol Power Company (DPC) amid reports that embattled energy major Enron might sell its stake in the company at a lesser value than the official price tag of $ 1.2 billion.

Punjab asks FCI to clear wheat stocks
New Delhi, December 10
The Punjab Government has asked the FCI to clear around Rs 13,000 crore worth of stocks lying with it.

ROUND-UP

AI loses Rs 68 cr due to Haj flights
New Delhi, December 10
Air India has suffered a loss of over Rs 68 crore on operation of Haj chartered flights, the Lok Sabha was informed today.

  • HCL rated top PC company
  • Jindal Steel in pact with Japan firm
  • United India’s heartcare policy
  • Philippines offers to buy wheat
  • Bank of Punjab opens branches
  • Amitabh may host KBC on radioTop








 

SC upholds Balco disinvestment

New Delhi, December 10
In a shot in the arm for the disinvestment policy, the Supreme Court today upheld the Centre’s decision to transfer 51 per cent of its share in Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) at Korba “transparently” to the highest bidder Sterlite Industries for Rs 551.5 crore.

A three-judge Bench headed by Justice B.N. Kirpal, while holding the disinvestment in Balco as valid, came down heavily on the Chhattisgarh Government for raising a controversy without any basis both regarding the transfer of tribal land on the transparency of the deal.

“It is a matter of regret that the Chhattisgarh Government raised such allegations against the Government. We strongly deprecate such allegations made without any basis,” the Bench of Justice Kirpal, Justice Shivaraj V Patil and Justice P.V. Reddi said.

Writing the judgement for the Bench, Justice Kirpal said it was not for the court to consider the merit of the economic policies of the government. “Parliament is the proper forum for questioning such policy,” the Bench said.

Giving a general ruling, the apex court said no ex-parte relief should be given specifically with regard to matters pertaining to economic policy unless grave irregularities were pointed out.

“Only when the court is prima facie satisfied that there would be irreparable damage caused, then the interim relief could be granted,” it said.

The court said the government proceeded with the disinvestment in a transparent manner and awarded the shares to the highest bidder.

Rejecting the Chhattisgarh Government’s contention that the valuation of the 51 per cent share of the profit-making plant was made arbitrarily, the Bench said: “The court will not interfere in the valuation process unless something gravely irregular is pointed out.”

The court said that the Ajit Jogi Government had made baseless allegations against the government and accepted the contention of Attorney General Soli Sorabjee that the court had a limited role in the scrutiny of the economic policy decisions of the government.

The state government had contended that the disinvestment in Balco would lead to the transfer of the tribal land to a private company which would be in violation of the apex court ruling in the Samata case.

The court also rejected this contention saying the ruling in the Samata case did not apply to Balco disinvestment and added “the land was given to Balco years back. It is not open to the Chhattisgarh Government to somersault and challenge the transfer of the land.”

Dealing with a public interest litigation petition challenging the government’s decision to disinvest in Balco, the apex court said every matter evoking curiousity could not be put before the court by means of a PIL.

The court can interfere only in those matters where grave violations of statutory provisions were pointed out in the PIL, the Bench said adding that no statutory violation has been pointed out in this case. PTI
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CMIE lowers GDP growth to 5.7 pc

Mumbai, December 10
The Indian economy is estimated to grow by 5.7 per cent this fiscal as against the earlier projection of 6 per cent, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.

The revision follows the slower than expected growth in the industry during the first half, sharp fall in exports and concerns following a fall in the capital goods index, the CMIE said in a statement here today.

The monitoring agency had recently revised the industrial sector growth to 3.5 per cent against its earlier projection of 4.5 per cent.

The CMIE said the industrial sector was expected to recover in the second half of 2001-02, after having recorded a growth of only 2.3 per cent in the first half while the consumer goods segment was expected to perform well.

The index for consumer durables grew by 16 per cent in the second quarter of this fiscal as against the 6.5-7 per cent growth recorded in the preceding two quarters. “We expect the index to rise at an even faster pace during the second half”, it added.

The index for capital goods fell by 6 per cent in the first quarter and then by 11 per cent in the second quarter. “We had expected a decline in investment activity” but the decline reflected in IIP (Index of Industrial Production) estimates were sharper than our expectations”, the CMIE said.

Similarily, the CMIE said, as against official projections of a 12 per cent rise in exports in 2001-02, “we had predicted a zero growth. The trend so far is negative and there are no chances of the year returning positive growth in exports”, it added.

The forecast for growth in the services sector was also being maintained at 6.6 per cent. PTI
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Car exports rise except Maruti’s

New Delhi, December 10
Exports of “Made-in-India” commercial vehicles, multi-utility-vehicles, scooters, mopeds and three-wheelers dropped this fiscal even as cars and motor cycles continued to post positive growth.

Car exports surged ahead by 14.7 per cent at 27,691 units during April-October, 2001-02, data compiled by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) showed.

However, Maruti Udyog’s exports dipped 23.2 per cent to 6,188 cars from 8,059 units in the same period last fiscal.

Hyundai Motor posted a 112 per cent rise at 3,285 units during the review period.

Exports of Tata Engineering (Telco) and General Motors India went up by 7.2 and 12.5 per cent at 281 and 35 cars, respectively.

But commercial vehicles exports declined by 27.7 per cent at 5,358 units as against 7,416 units during the year-on-year period due to poor performance by Telco.

Telco’s light commercial vehicles (LCV) exports fell by 42.7 per cent while in the medium and heavy (M&H) category, it declined by 47.5 per cent to 788 units during the first seven months this fiscal.

LML bike sales up

LML Ltd today said its motor cycles sales rose by 96.6 per cent in November to 5,873 units from 2,987 units in the same month last year.

Scooter sales, however, fell by 28 per cent to 9,863 units from 13,707 units, a company spokesperson told PTI today.

LML also sold 270 “Trendy” scoterettes this month. The scooter sales went up marginally as compared to 9,790 units sold in October while motor cycles increased by 44.5 per cent over 4,063 units sold in the previous month. PTI
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Spice slashes airtime tariff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Spice today announced a drop of up to 50 per cent in its outgoing airtime rates. The charges will be applicable from today. Mr Vinod Sawhney, MD, Spice, said the new tariffs would provide a growth accelerator to the mobile telephone market in Punjab.

The outgoing airtime rates per 30 seconds (day) will be as following: Spice Prize Rs 1.25, Spice Bonus Rs 2.25, Spice Bumper Rs 0.88, Spice Fortune Rs 0.75, Spice Jackpot Rs 0.50, Spice Bonanza Mini Rs 1.13 and Spice Bonanza Max Rs 0.63.

Along with the drop in the airtime rates, the company has also announced the delinkage of the caller line identification (CLI) from the monthly rental. CLI will now be charged at Rs 99 per month and will be optional for the consumer on rental plans. For the pre-paid offering Spice Quicky, the validity period has been increased.
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Naik: ethanol to be mixed with petrol
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 10
The sale of petrol blended with 5 per cent ethanol derived from sugarcane will soon begin in Punjab, Haryana and some other states, the Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Ram Naik informed Parliament today.

The move intended to help save foreign exchange and boost the prospects of sugarcane growers has been initiated following the success of pilot projects, Mr Naik said.

He said the sale of petrol blended with ethanol would initially be implemented in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh and then extended to other states in the second phase.

Mr Naik said the three existing pilot projects would take up the blending of ethanol in petrol at the rate of 10 per cent after sorting the issues such as modifications of BIS specifications etc.

He said Rs 4 crore would be sanctioned for research and development studies on blending of ethanol in diesel, keeping in view the fact that about 80 per cent of fuel consumed by automobiles in India is diesel. These studies are to be completed within six months.

Mr Naik said the government had taken a major decision to amend the Sugar Development Act, 1982 so that production of ethanol and co-generation of power from bagasse would get financial assistance from the Sugar Development Fund.

This would give impetus to the increased use of ethanol and efficient use of entire quantity of molasses currently produced.

Mr Naik said Brazil has been producing ethanol from sugarcane molasses and juice for more than 40 years. Similarly the USA has been producing it from corn-maize.

Ethanol thus produced is being blended with petrol to the extent of 20 per cent to 24 per cent in Brazil and is widely used as auto fuel.
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Picasso collection in India

New Delhi, December 10
Hold your breath. France's priceless collection of Pablo Picasso, easily the most influential artist of the 20th century, is set to touch Indian shores for the first time.

"This is the absolute first time that the prized Picasso collection is coming to India," Rajeev Lochan, Director of the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), which is organising the exhibition in India, told IANS.

A collection of 122 works will be on display from December 14 at the National Museum here. It will remain in the country for over three months and will also go to Mumbai.

The priceless collection will be given high security. A special Air France plane will fly in the works of the Spanish artist and it will be escorted in India by paramilitary platoons in armoured vehicles. France will bear the insurance premium and airfreight.

"Picasso: Metamorphosis 1900-1972, Picasso from the French collections," is being organised by the Indian government together with the French embassy.

"I won't be able to reveal the works that will be featured for security reasons," said Lochan. But the exhibition, he promised, will showcase some of his major paintings, sketches, sculptures and ceramics.

The works will cover the artist's transition from cubism to neo-classism and surrealism. "The exhibition will be the largest venture of its scale and will have works spanning his entire career."

Picasso is easily the most influential artist of the 20th century. Born in Spain in 1881 to an art teacher, he showed exceptional talent at an early age. It is said he had his first exhibition at the age of 13.

Unlike most artists who die poor and unknown, Picasso got both wealth and fame in his lifetime. He created over 20,000 works till his death at the age of 91 in 1973.

The works that are to be exhibited here come from Musee Picasso, Centre Georges Pompidou and Musee d'art Moderne d la ville de Paris and a few private collections, all from France.

Around 200,000 art lovers in India are expected to view the Picasso works. A special photography exhibition will show snatches of the artist's carefree life in Paris, his role in the Spanish war and the many women in his life.

"The exhibition will be a hallmark art event not to be missed," said Lochan. IANS
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Videocon third bidder for Dabhol Power?

Mumbai, December 10
The Videocon group is understood to have emerged as the third bidder for the troubled Dabhol Power Company (DPC) amid reports that embattled energy major Enron might sell its stake in the company at a lesser value than the official price tag of $ 1.2 billion.

“This is a matter of top secret and we will not be able to divulge details”, group Director Rajkumar Dhoot told PTI from Aurangabad here yesterday.

He also refused to comment on whether Videocon was planning to rope in a multinational partner to pick up DPC stake.

Videocon is also believed to have initiated talks with the IDBI-led financial institutions and state Energy Secretary V.M. Lal over their interest in the “distress sale” of the $ 3 billion power project in Guhagar, Maharashtra.

However, when contacted, Mr Lal expressed surprise over the Development. “The Videocon group has never held any discussions with the Maharashtra Government regarding DPC’s buyout, nor has it put forward any proposal for the same”, he said.

An experienced player in the power sector, Videocon Power a group of Videocon International, has two south-based projects in its kitty, both of which have run into serious trouble on account of escrow-related issues.

Apart from Videocon, the two other serious bidders for the project are the Tata Power Company (TPC) and BSES Ltd. PTI
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Punjab asks FCI to clear wheat stocks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 10
The Punjab Government has asked the FCI to clear around Rs 13,000 crore worth of stocks lying with it.

According to official sources, the Punjab Government has sent a communication to the Centre where it has mentioned that it has Rs 12,916 crore worth of wheat lying with agencies. It wants the FCI to purchase the stocks on as is where is basis and make payment for the same.

The sources said Punjab was facing a severe shortage of storing space and it has worsened as the movement of foodgrains was less due to paucity of demand from other states.

PTI adds: They said as the amount involved was huge, interest charged alone was around Rs 1,300 crore annually causing a large liquidity crunch in the state, prompting the state to send the communique.

While new crops are being procured, there has hardly been any offtake. Public Distribution System figures show that during September and October, 2001, there was no movement through Punjab Markfed, one of the procurement agencies, whose 92 per cent of the stocks were lying in the open.
Top


 
ROUND-UP

AI loses Rs 68 cr due to Haj flights

New Delhi, December 10
Air India has suffered a loss of over Rs 68 crore on operation of Haj chartered flights, the Lok Sabha was informed today.

The loss during 1993-99 was on account of various expenses, including “catering on ground” and “give-aways” to the Haj pilgrims as a gesture of goodwill and loss of interest on delayed payments, Civil Aviation Minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said in a written reply. PTI

HCL rated top PC company

NEW DELHI: HCL Infosystems has been rated as the number one PC company in India with overall market share of 8.6 per cent in the desktop category, according to a report of the International Data Corporation (IDC).

HCL Infosys has shipped 1,14,989 PCs in the first three quarters of the current fiscal and recorded a growth of over 18.6 per cent over the same period of the previous year, the report said. TNS

Jindal Steel in pact with Japan firm

NEW DELHI: Jindal Steel and Power Ltd today signed a long-term technical collaboration agreement with the NKK Corporation of Japan.

The agreement, signed by Jindal Steel Managing Director Naveen Jindal and NKK Director Katsutoshi Kosaka in Japan, envisages that the Japanese company would transfer the know-how for producing world’s longest rails of 120 metres and universal beam of a larger size. PTI

United India’s heartcare policy

VIJAYAWADA: The United India insurance company will introduce a heartcare policy for hospitals to help them recover all their expenses if untoward things happened to the cardiac patient during operation or after a certain period.

The new policy was being designed and would soon be in the market, Mr V. Jaganathan, Chairman and Managing Director of the company, told newspersons here today.

Mr Jaganathan said United India would tap the middle income group population of 30 crore to get a premium of Rs 30,000 crore by providing cover for household articles, medicare and personal accident. PTI

Philippines offers to buy wheat

NEW DELHI: There are fresh wheat purchase offers coming the Indian way, including 50,000 tonnes to Philippines but deals are yet to be clinched owing to haggling over prices.

Offers are also there from Burma for purchase of 3,500 tonnes and Indonesia for a long-term contract but again issues like credit facilities and price are crucial.

“Philippines is offering to buy four vessels for January-April 2002 delivery but are quoting rock bottom price of $ 97 per tonne free on board (FoB) while Indian exporters want to deliver at $ 100 per tonne,” according to market sources. PTI

Bank of Punjab opens branches

CHANDIGARH: Bank of Punjab has opened its 19th branch in NCR of Delhi. The branch was opened at Friends Colony (East), New Delhi. The Bank also opened its another branch in Calibre Market, Rajpura. This is the first banking office of the bank in Rajpura and would provide extended banking services from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

These branches are equipped with ATM for 24-hr cash withdrawal and deposit facility and customers of the Friends Colony branch would be able to access their account through the bank’s ebank Global Debit Card in association with (Maestro) Master Card International. TNS

Amitabh may host KBC on radio

LUCKNOW: The big ‘B’ could consider hosting a “Kaun Banega Crorepati” on the radio too if a suitable offer is made.

“If an offer to host the game show on radio is made, I will have to consider it”, Amitabh Bachchan, the KBC anchorman of the popular television serial, told newsmen here today. Bachchan was here to announce the launch of the 24-hrs FM channel radio here.

To a question whether he would also consider hosting another game show after KBC which is scheduled to go off the air from January next year, he said he was under contractual obligation to complete 390 episodes of KBC of which 305 had already been completed. PTI
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BIZ BRIEFS

Aptech centre
New Delhi, December 10
Aptech training and education has become the world’s first IT training centre to be present in 50 countries. With 235 international centres among its 2,436 centres worldwide. Aptech has consistently remained a dominant player in the international arena, Mr Pramod Khera, CEO, of the Aptech Training and Educational, said. TNS

Workshop
Panipat, December 10
The Haryana Chambers of Commerce in collaboration with the Industries Department will organise a workshop on “solar thermal technology for low and medium grade heating application” here on December 10. The Financial Commissioner and Secretary, Non-Conventional Energy Sources, Haryana, Ms Meenakshi Anand Chaudhury, will preside over the function while Mr P.S. Nayya, Secretary will be the chief guest. TNS

PHDCCI chief
New Delhi, December 10
Arun Kapur, Additional Joint president of Atlas Cycle Industries, has taken over as the president of PHD CC for 2001-2002. P.K. Jain, Chairman-cum-Managing Director. Malt Company (India) Ltd, has taken over as the vice-president. TNS

Wipronet pact
Bangalore, December 10
Wipronet today tied up with Watch-Guard Technologies to provide Managed Firewell to corporate in India. Wipronet is the first internet service provider to offer this service in South Asia and under the alliance with WatchGuard it will provide dynamic, comprehensive Internet security solutions. UNI

ICICI bond
Mumbai, December 10
ICICI Ltd will make the sixth public offering of Rs 400 crore unsecured redeemable bonds, in the form of debentures, for subscription from December 15. The issue will have six types of bonds, including tax saving bond, regular income bond and remain open till December 29, ICICI said in a release here today. PTI
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