SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Agriculture deserves more attention, says Montek
To undertake a mid-term review of the 10th Plan
New Delhi, June 5
Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia gestures after taking charge as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission at Yojana Bhavan in New Delhi Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia today came down heavily on the erstwhile NDA government’s policies on agriculture and infrastructure and said the neglect of these two sectors by the previous government was primarily instrumental for an average annual rate of growth of less than 6 per cent during its regime.
Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia gestures after taking charge as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission at Yojana Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI photo
In video (28k, 56k)

Sonia Gandhi, Ratan Tata shine in Businessweek constellation
New Delhi, July 5
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has been hailed as “India’s most powerful woman” by BusinessWeek which has envisioned that Mrs Gandhi would lead the country into a corruption-free society.

LIC Housing Finance nets Rs 167.47 cr
Chandigarh, July 5
LIC Housing Finance Ltd has disbursed housing loans worth Rs 270 crore in the northern region till June 30 and recorded a growth of 68 per cent as compared to the previous year.

Power crisis shocks industry
Ludhiana, July 5
The severe power crisis in Punjab has crippled the industrial production and great unrest is found among the labour. The power cut has also resulted in steep rise in the prices of steel.

No privatisation of Delhi, Mumbai airports, says Praful Patel
New Delhi, July 5
In a bid to allay the apprehensions of left parties and the trade unions, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said today the Delhi and Mumbai airports were not being privatised and the parties would be taken into confidence on any decision pertaining to the restructuring and modernisation of these airports.






Actress Riya Sen launches Airtel Live, a comprehensive multi-access entertainment portal on Airtel mobile, in New Delhi
Actress Riya Sen launches “Airtel Live”, a comprehensive multi-access entertainment portal on Airtel mobile, in New Delhi on Monday. — Photo by Rajeev Tyagi



EARLIER STORIES

 

Sops for Punjab’s border areas sought
Amritsar, July 5
PHDCII of Northern Region Development Council Chairman Ashok Khanna today strongly demanded a special package of incentives for the border districts of Punjab besides declaring the holy city Amritsar as a tax- free zone.

GRAPHIC: India's National & Per Capita Income

CORPORATE NEWS

AstraZeneca to delist shares
New Delhi, July 5
Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca group said today it planned to delist AstraZeneca Pharma India from Indian exchanges and is willing to pay $7.6 million to buy out the 8.4 per cent shares it does not already own in its subsidiary. AstraZeneca has set a floor price of Rs 825 per share under SEBI’s reverse book-building norms.

  • SRF to pump in Rs12.7 cr

  • Exide to pay 40 pc dividend

AUTO SCENE

Jagdish Khattar, MD, Maruti Udyog Ltd, at the launch of new-look Esteem in New Delhi New-look Esteem rolled out
New Delhi, July 5
Maruti Udyog Limited today rolled out a completely new-look mid-size sedan Esteem, which will give the customers, besides the features of the old car, the look of a contemporary new Baleno. And this too at a price which will be almost Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 cheaper than its existing models.


In video (28k, 56k)

Jagdish Khattar, MD, Maruti Udyog Ltd, at the launch of new-look Esteem in New Delhi on Monday. — Tribune photo

  • Yamaha Fazer for Rs 43,990

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Agriculture deserves more attention, says Montek
To undertake a mid-term review of the 10th Plan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 5
Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia today came down heavily on the erstwhile NDA government’s policies on agriculture and infrastructure and said the neglect of these two sectors by the previous government was primarily instrumental for an average annual rate of growth of less than 6 per cent during its regime.

“Agriculture deserves more attention as the growth has decelerated in the last five years.... I would like to say it deserved more attention”, Mr Ahluwalia told newspersons today.

Terming the deceleration in the agri sector in the past few years as a matter of “deep concern”, he said “if growth in the agrarian sector is not reversed, the targeted growth rate of 7 to 8 per cent will be difficult to achieve”.

The Planning Commission will undertake a “mid-term review” of the 10th Plan and will go into the details of all these issues.

The review may also come up with specific recommendations to the government suggesting various measures to meet the broad objectives of economic policy.

The review would be undertaken in the next few months and picked up health, education, agriculture and infrastructure as the high priority areas.

On infrastructure, he said even though a policy framework exists, “the environment is not very conducive for the required public-private partnership to achieve the desired level of infrastructure in the country”.

Similarly, on the issues pertaining to social sector, particularly health and education, he said while “a proper policy was in place during the previous government, the fund allocation may have been insufficient to achieve the desired goals”.

Mr Ahluwalia said he had held meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and discussed various issues, including that of the Gross Budgetary Support (GBS). However, he refused divulge any figures about the GBS saying it was part of the Budget-making exercise. He evaded any direct answer to politically sensitive issues such as free power, subsidies and the EPF rates.

“I have views on all these issues. But I would like to comment on all only after talking to other members of the Commission and after presentation of the Budget on July 8”, he said even as he added that the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the government provides scope for taking some hard economic decisions.
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Sonia Gandhi, Ratan Tata shine in Businessweek constellation
Tribune News Service

Sonia Gandhi,
Sonia Gandhi

Ratan Tata
Ratan Tata

New Delhi, July 5
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has been hailed as “India’s most powerful woman” by BusinessWeek which has envisioned that Mrs Gandhi would lead the country into a corruption-free society.

“By turning down the top office, Gandhi sets a new tone for public life in India. For much of its 55 years of independence, India has been mired in political corruption. Now ordinary Indians hope that Gandhi, who has never held high office and has a clean reputation, will tackle corruption and speed up India’s development”, the magazine said in a special report titled “Stars of Asia”.

Leading industrialist Ratan Tata and Nasscom chief Kiran Karnik are the other Indians in the list of 25.

Terming Mrs Gandhi as the “architect of the Congress victory”, the magazine said “her great strength is her commitment to fair play and decency. If she keeps that focus, she will make her mark”.

“With the Congress barely six weeks in power, Gandhi is already signalling the role she intends to play. She is leaving policy decisions to Singh and his team of liberal economists, although she will have some say behind the scenes. Gandhi will focus on the politics of managing her resurgent party and a fragile coalition of 18 partners”, the magazine said.

Stating that “India’s most powerful woman rarely speaks to the media”, and describing her as “intensely shy”, the magazine said that “Gandhi, who has only high school education, makes no claim to be an intellectual”.

Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Sons, was given the pride of place in the category of managers for building up the Tata empire as a global player.

“For decades, Tata Sons was the archetypal conservative Indian conglomerate: honest and solid but risk-averse... Its that late-career spurt of dynamism that makes Tata a star - and could catapult his 136-year-old company into the global big league,” the weekly wrote about this scion of Tata family.

Recognising the lobbying skills backed by strong technological credentials of Nasscom chief Mr Karnik that earned a place amongst the Stars of Asia in the category of Opinion shapers, the magazine credited him with handling successfully the controversial outsourcing issue with the US. 
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LIC Housing Finance nets Rs 167.47 cr
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 5
LIC Housing Finance Ltd has disbursed housing loans worth Rs 270 crore in the northern region till June 30 and recorded a growth of 68 per cent as compared to the previous year.

Divulging the results of the company for the period ending March 2004, the Director and Chief Executive of the Company, Mr A.K Dasgupta said while non-performing assets (NPA)-level of the company in the country was at 2.37 per cent, in Northern India it was only 0.7 per cent. However, the company has improved its recovery position and recovered Rs 9.58 crore from the defaulters.

Mr Dasgupta said the company, which had 8 per cent market share in the area of housing loans, has reported net profit of Rs 167.47 crore. The company has also decided to give 50 per cent dividends.

The housing finance company has, in the category of individual loans, sanctioned 92400 loans worth Rs 4069 crore. The total sanctions for the year inclusive of individual and project loans were Rs 4,693 crore with a growth of 38 per cent and total disbursements were Rs 4104 crore with a growth of 37 per cent.

The company will be shortly opening its offices in Patiala and Hisar.
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Power crisis shocks industry
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 5
The severe power crisis in Punjab has crippled the industrial production and great unrest is found among the labour. The power cut has also resulted in steep rise in the prices of steel.

The industrialists are contemplating to launch an agitation to protest against the failure of the state government to supply adequate power to them.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan, President and Mr Avtar Singh, General Secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, revealed that Ludhiana alone was losing industrial production worth Rs 400 crore daily.

They held the PSEB responsible for the present mess and said that the Chief Minister had promised to supply adequate power to the industry, but the promises had remained on paper only.

Mr Pradhan and Mr Avtar Singh said that the industries were being shifted to Himachal Pradesh from Ludhiana and other places of Punjab because there was no shortage of power in the state. Moreover, the Himachal Pradesh Government was supplying power at the cheaper rates i.e. at Rs 2.25 paise per unit whereas in Punjab the tariff was Rs 3.94 paise per unit.

But power was not available even at the higher rates in Punjab. They said the power shortage had resulted in the shortage of steel and the steel prices had witnessed a rise of Rs 5000 per tonne less than one month.
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No privatisation of Delhi, Mumbai airports, says Praful Patel

New Delhi, July 5
In a bid to allay the apprehensions of left parties and the trade unions, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said today the Delhi and Mumbai airports were not being privatised and the parties would be taken into confidence on any decision pertaining to the restructuring and modernisation of these airports.

“We will address the concerns of the left parties and the trade unions. We are talking to them and trying to explain to them. These discussions will continue. We want to avoid any confrontation,” he told reporters after the signing ceremony of a concession agreement for the ‘first greenfield airport’ coming up at Bangalore.

The Mumbai and Delhi airports “are not being privatised; they are being modernised and restructured”, he said in reply to questions.

Asked whether Indian Airlines subsidiary, Alliance Air, would be converted into a low-cost, no-frill carrier to face the competition in this sector, Patel said, “Our airlines will face this emerging competition. Let the competition come, we will address the issue”. — PTI
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Sops for Punjab’s border areas sought

Amritsar, July 5
PHDCII of Northern Region Development Council (NRDC) Chairman Ashok Khanna today strongly demanded a special package of incentives for the border districts of Punjab besides declaring the holy city Amritsar as a tax- free zone.

During the seventh annual workshop of PHD Chamber of Commerce here, Ashok Khanna said, “A special package of incentives including excise duty exemption, income tax holiday and capital subsidy on the lines of Himachal Pradesh, J&K and Uttaranchal should be announced for border areas also. Since, this would encourage flow of investment and create employment avenues for the sagging economy of the border district of Amritsar”. Emphasizing on the promotion of agro-business and food processing industries, Khanna called for building synergy between agriculture and industry. — PTI 
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CORPORATE NEWS

AstraZeneca to delist shares

New Delhi, July 5
Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca group said today it planned to delist AstraZeneca Pharma India from Indian exchanges and is willing to pay $7.6 million to buy out the 8.4 per cent shares it does not already own in its subsidiary.

AstraZeneca has set a floor price of Rs 825 per share under SEBI’s reverse book-building norms.

The bidding, under the delisting and book-building norms, for 4.19 lakh shares (8.4 per cent of capital) would open on July 19 and close on July 23, according to DSP Merill Lynch, manager to the offer.

The buyout and delisting are part of the AstraZeneca group’s strategy to wholly control all its units, sources said.

The company had, earlier, made two open offers at Rs 375 per share. But under the revised norms for delisting, it had to follow reverse book-building process.

Deloitte Haskins and Sells had been appointed to determine floor price for the shares. The price has been set at Rs 825 per share.

SRF to pump in Rs12.7 cr

The board of directors of SRF has approved a capital expenditure proposal for thermal oxidation project costing Rs12.7-crore.

Informing Bombay Stock Exchange, the company said the board at its meeting held on Saturday last approved a capital expenditure proposal for the project ‘’GHG emission reduction by thermal oxidation of HFC-23’’ at an approximate cost of Rs12.7-crore for Phase I.

The project is to be at the company’s chemical business plant located in Bhiwadi.

Exide to pay 40 pc dividend

Exide Industries has proposed payment of 40 per cent dividend for the 2003-04.

This will mean payment of 100 per cent hike in the dividend payment compared to the previous financial year.

The proposal to make 40 per cent dividend for the 2003-04 was expected to be placed in its 57th annual general meeting to be held here on July 14 .

Company sources said the company was expected to spend Rs 284.88 million for the payment of dividend for its shareholders. — Agencies
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AUTO SCENE

New-look Esteem rolled out
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) today rolled out a completely new-look mid-size sedan Esteem, which will give the customers, besides the features of the old car, the look of a contemporary new Baleno.

And this too at a price which will be almost Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 cheaper than its existing models. While the lower end base model Esteem (Lx) has been priced at Rs 4.25, ex-showroom, down from Rs 4.67 lakh for the earlier model, the high-end Esteem (Vxi) has been priced at Rs 4.90 lakh, ex-showroom against the previous cost of Rs 5.40 lakh.

Speaking at the launch, MUL Managing Director Jagdish Khattar said the new Esteem was part of Maruti’s strategy to increase its share in the rapidly growing A3 segment of domestic passenger car market this year.

The new entry-level mid-size car, which has 1300cc MPI engine has been developed in India by the engineers of Suzuki.

The upgraded Esteem comes with a new bonnet, multi-reflector clear headlamps, new bumper and new chrome grille. The rear has been redesigned with multi-reflector clear tail lamps and new boot garnish.

Besides the new plush upholstery, silver finished dashboard garnish and controls, a sportier speedometer, chrome-tipped parking lever and metal finished gear level make for the redefined interiors. It also comes with tubeless tyres.

Yamaha Fazer for Rs 43,990

CEO of Yamaha Motor Hiroyuki Yanagi poses for a photograph during the launch of Yamaha's new model Fazer in New Delhi Yamaha Motor India today introduced 125 cc bike Fazer in the domestic market with a price tag of Rs 43,990 and said it planned to foray into the scooter segment next year, besides investing Rs 400 crore over a three-year period. The company aims to sell around 40,000 Fazer, which comes with a BS carburetor equipped with Yamaha Throttle Position Sensor, by the year-end, Yamaha Executive Vice-President A. V. Srinivasan said after the launch of Fazer here. — PTI


Yamaha Motor CEO Hiroyuki Yanagi poses for a photograph during the launch of Yamaha's new model 'Fazer' in New Delhi on Monday.
— PTI

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BRIEFLY

BHEL project for J&K
New Delhi, July 5
Outbidding leading multinational companies from Australia and other countries in an international competitive bidding, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has bagged an order for setting up a 120 MW hydro-electric project in Jammu and Kashmir. Valued at Rs 142 crore, the prestigious contract for Sewa HEP Stage II (3X 40 MW) has been placed on BHEL by NHPC. — TNS

L&T contract
New Delhi, July 5
Larsen and Toubro today said it has bagged a Rs 58-crore contract from Gandhinagar-based Mother Dairy, a unit of Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF), for setting up Asia’s largest and fully-automated milk powder plant. This facility, to be developed on turnkey basis by Food and Pharma Strategic Business Unit of Larsen and Toubro, will have a capacity of 100 tonnes milk per day. — UNI

Tata Tea ED
Kolkata, July 5
Sangeeta Talwar, with an experience of over 25 years in marketing and sales, has been appointed as Executive Director on the Tata Tea board where she would be steering the company’s marketing and sales efforts. With her substantial international experience, Ms Talwar would be responsible for creating a global footprint for the company which has a significant presence in over 35 countries worldwide. She would also be responsible for building and leveraging the Tetley business in India. — UNI

Wockhardt
Mumbai, July 5
The Centre for Drug Evaluation & Research, an arm of the US Food & Drug Administration, has approved Wockhardt Ltd’s sterile injectable, sterile bulk drugs (active pharmaceutical ingredient) and formulation facilities at three locations in India. The approvals of the plants at Aurangabad, Waluj and Ankleshwar were granted in a record five months, the company Chairman Habil Khorikiwala said today. — PTI

Camera phone
Bangalore, July 5
Panasonic India today announced the launch of its new camera phone Panasonic X300. The phone is targeted at high-end consumers who are looking for “novelty and distinctiveness” in function and design, Panasonic said in a statement. It has a pop up LCD display screen, which helps display crystal clear images, the company said. — PTI

Green Tax
Shimla, July 5
The representatives of associations and unions engaged in tourism and allied trades have opposed the green tax being charged on the outside vehicles entering the key tourist resort of Manali in Kullu districts. The representatives urged the government to withdraw the tax as it was causing inconvenience to the tourists and affecting tourist inflow. — PTI

BoB MoU
Mumbai, July 5
Bank of Baroda has signed an MoU with Tractor & Farm Equipment Ltd for tractor financing. Under the MoU, the seventh by the bank, the farmers who purchased TAFE tractors through BoB, would be offered a special discount of Rs 4,000, the bank said in a release here today. — PTI
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