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Plan to curb subsidy on LPG, kerosene
ONGC confirms two gas finds in KG, Mahanadi basins

New Delhi, January 18
The ONGC today confirmed discovering natural gas in KG Basin off the Andhra Pradesh coast and Mahanadi Basin off Orissa coast, but said the find in KG Basin posts technological challenges and it was looking for a strategic partner.
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora (right) presents a memento to Vice-President of Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. Luis F. Vierma at the 'Petrotech-2007' conference in New Delhi Petroleum Minister Murli Deora (right) presents a memento to Vice-President of Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. Luis F. Vierma at the 'Petrotech-2007' conference in New Delhi on Thursday. — AFP photo

Assocham urges PM for meeting on SEZs 
New Delhi, January 18
Assocham President Venugopal Dhoot today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to immediately convene a meeting of the industry and states to review the situation arising out of the government's move to put SEZ clearances on hold.

Bill to up insurance FDI soon
Govt assures level playing field to Vodafone
New Delhi, January 18
The contentious Bill seeking to increase FDI in the insurance sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent will be introduced in the Budget session of Parliament next month.

Rs 3,000-cr FDI flows from Mauritius
New Delhi, January 18
The government today allowed Integrated Mobile Infrastructure Mauritius Ltd and its group companies to make foreign investment up to Rs 3,000 crore ($674 million) in the Indian telecom sector.

Airtel to invest over $2 billion
New Delhi, January 18
Bharti Airtel, India’s largest private Cellular operator, today announced an investment of over $ 2 billion (Rs 9,000 crore) in 2007-08 to expand network, but wanted state-run BSNL to share infrastructure.

Tatas to pick up stake in SpiceJet 
Mumbai, January 18
The Tata Group would pick up a stake worth $17 million in no-frill carrier SpiceJet. The budget carrier has requested the group to nominate a member on the company's Board, as well.


 

 

 

A model displays a creation by Enrico Coveri's 2007 men's collection as part of the Milan's Fashion Week
A model displays a creation by Enrico Coveri's 2007 men's collection as part of the Milan's Fashion Week on Thursday. — AFP photo

 

 
A Sony employee displays a new living room PC with digital broadcasting tuner "Vaio TP1DT" and a 46-inch LCD television set in Tokyo
A Sony employee displays a new living room PC with digital broadcasting tuner "Vaio TP1DT" and a 46-inch LCD television set in Tokyo on Thursday. It can record, pause and rewind high-definition TV programmes for on-demand playback. Sony will put it on the market soon with an estimated price of $1,700. — AFP photo

Pitroda favours telecom manufacturing
Bangalore, January 18
Knowledge Commission Chairman Sam Pitroda said today that giving market access to home-grown phone companies could herald the next telecommunications revolution in the country.

HPCL may sell 51 pc stake in Vizag refinery
New Delhi, January 18
Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), India's second-biggest state-run refiner, may sell up to 51 per cent stake in its upcoming refinery at Vizag in Andhra Pradesh to Total SA of France.

Ranbaxy posts 167 pc rise in Q4 net profit
New Delhi, January 18
Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd has reported a 167 per cent rise in its net profit for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2006, at Rs 186 crore as against Rs 68.6 crore during the previous year.

NLC plans 1000-MW plant in TN
New Delhi, January 18
The Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) has sought government nod for partnering the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board to set up a 1,000-MW power plant in Tuticorin at a cost of Rs 4,654 crore.
An attendant waits for customers, displaying apple iPods at a shopping mall in Jakarta
An attendant waits for customers, displaying apple iPods at a shopping mall in Jakarta on Thursday. An Australian bank unveiled a new indicator of future foreign exchange directions based on Apple's ubiquitous iPod that it says is more accurate than the Big Mac Index introduced by the Economist 
magazine in 1986. — AFP photo

Govt working on Bill for micro-finance: PM 
New Delhi, January 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called upon SAARC countries to accord priority in addressing the problem of home-based workers, the majority of whom are women, so that they benefit from regional and international trade.

Subex Azure buys Syndesis for Rs 728 cr
Bangalore, January 18
City-based Subex Azure, a vendor of revenue maximisation solutions for telecom operators, today announced it was acquiring telecom solutions provider Syndesis Ltd for $164.5 million (nearly Rs 728 crore) in an all-cash deal. 

JSW Steel plans Rs 85,000-cr investment
New Delhi, January 18
JSW Steel Limited is embarking on a mega expansion, entailing a total investment of Rs 85,000 crore in the next 15 years to take its total production capacity to 30 million tonnes. “By 2020, we are looking at having a total capacity of 30 MT from our three plants in Karnataka, West Bengal and the one being planned in Jharkhand,” JSW Steel Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal told reporters here. He said the company was in advanced stage of negotiations with the government in Jharkhand, where it has planned a 10 MT plant at an investment of Rs 35,000 crore.

Imtex starts
Bangalore, January 18
Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said today the manufacturing sector should contribute 25 per cent of the GDP against 17 per cent now to achieve the annual target growth of 10 per cent.

Rupee loses 14 paise
Mumbai, January 18
The rupee closed lower today at Rs 44.33/34 against the US dollar as compared to the previous day’s closing of Rs 44.19/20, dealers said.

Corporate Results
RIL Q3 net soars to Rs 2,799 crore

Mumbai, January 18
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) today announced a net profit of Rs 2,799 crore in the October-December quarter of 2006-07 as against Rs 1,776 crore in the same period last year.

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Plan to curb subsidy on LPG, kerosene
ONGC confirms two gas finds in KG, Mahanadi basins
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
The ONGC today confirmed discovering natural gas in KG Basin off the Andhra Pradesh coast and Mahanadi Basin off Orissa coast, but said the find in KG Basin posts technological challenges and it was looking for a strategic partner.

“I can confirm a huge gas find in ultra deepwater in KG Basin and a commercial discovery in Mahanadi Basin”, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora told reporters here.

ONGC Chairman R.S. Sharma said the KG well in water depth of 2,840 metres was still to reach its target depth, but initial testing in presence of Director-General of Hydrocarbons officials has confirmed presence of natural gas.

The well has reached a depth of 6,600 metres and the target depth of 7,000 metres would be reached in next two weeks. ONGC will drill four-five more appraisal wells before it can announce the size of discovery and the reserves it holds, he said.

“Production from such deepwater is a technological challenge and we are in talks with Petrobras of Brazil, ENI of Italy, Norsk Hydro of Norway and BG of the UK for a strategic tie-up,” Mr Sharma said, adding the company was willing to offer the partner equity stake in the block kg-dwn-98/2.

On Mahanadi gas find, he said the gas discovery was of commercial nature but reserve estimate could be put only after few more wells were drilled.

He said the government planned to restrict subsidised domestic cooking gas (LPG) and kerosene to the poor people only.

He said there should be dual pricing - subsidised price for poor and market price for those who can afford - for cooking fuels.

Mr Deora said the Petroleum Ministry wanted dual pricing but faced resistance from states who have to ensure that only poor get the subsidised product and rich have to pay market price.

“The Centre cannot impose its will. Commodity supplies is a state subject and unless they cooperate, we cannot implement this scheme,” he said.

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Assocham urges PM for meeting on SEZs 

New Delhi, January 18
Assocham President Venugopal Dhoot today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to immediately convene a meeting of the industry and states to review the situation arising out of the government's move to put SEZ clearances on hold.

"This is an alarming situation. We think the Prime Minister should call for a meeting of industry chambers, state governments, just as it did on the reservation policy, to find clarity on the issue," the industry chamber's newly elected president told reporters here.

Such a meeting was of importance so as prevent anybody from taking political advantage, he said alluding to the uproar in Nandigram and Singur over acquisition of land for industrial purposes. Since these developments, many of the state governments have been exercising caution on forwarding proposals to the Centre.

Mr Dhoot said the chamber was in favour of SEZs, which could play an important role in the country's growth.

"However, we are against exploitation of any form in the name of SEZs and we would ensure that the industry does not indulge in such practice," he added.

The chamber's demand comes on the heels of the government deciding to put on hold, fresh approvals for special economic zones pending a review by the Group of Ministers on SEZs and formulation of a new Rehabilitation Policy for farmers, mooted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently.

The meeting of Board of Approvals in Commerce Ministry, which was to take up more than 70 new cases on January 19, has been postponed. — PTI 

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Bill to up insurance FDI soon
Govt assures level playing field to Vodafone
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
The contentious Bill seeking to increase FDI in the insurance sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent will be introduced in the Budget session of Parliament next month.

"Finance Minister P. Chidambaram indicated that a Bill will be introduced in Parliament next month to increase the FDI limit in insurance to 49 per cent from 26 per cent," UK Chancellor of Exchequer Gordon Brown said after his meeting with the minister.

India opened its insurance market to foreign investment in 2000 in order to increase competition and raise funds for long-term projects, but capped the amount that could be held by overseas firms.

But the move could also be seen as a deal as Mr Brown, the Labour's Prime Minister-in-waiting, also received a request from Mr Chidambaram that he would help Indian banks open offices in Britain.

"We hope (the) UK will give more licences to Indian banks," Mr Chidambaram said.

Speaking to reporters after he along with Mr Chidambaram launched the India-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue, the visiting minister said it was conveyed to him that companies with unique structure like Lloyds of London would be allowed to offer reinsurance services in India.

The Finance Minister's emphasis on organic growth points to the fact that the freedom for foreign banks to acquire banks in India is unlikely to come soon.

The visiting delegation was assured that a level playing field would be offered to UK-based Vodafone, which is bidding for India's fourth largest cellular service provider Hutch-Essar.

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Rs 3,000-cr FDI flows from Mauritius
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
The government today allowed Integrated Mobile Infrastructure Mauritius Ltd and its group companies to make foreign investment up to Rs 3,000 crore ($674 million) in the Indian telecom sector.

‘”The approval is subject to licensing and security requirements of the Department of Telecom (DoT) and to the condition that the company would divest 26 per cent of equity in favour of the Indian public in five years if the company is listed in other parts of the world,’’ Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi said after the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs here.

The investment would be done by way of acquisition of 1,000 equity shares of Rs 10 each from S. Venkataeswarlu and Ms Chandra Padmasri, who represent 100 per cent shareholding of the company.

The balance will be invested by way of further issues of shares from time to time over five years depending on the capital recquirements of the company.

Today’s development comes close on the heels of the Cabinet giving its ‘’broad’’ approval to enhance the FDI limit to up to 74 per cent in the telecom sector.

The Cabinet has also extended the deadline for telecom operators to comply with the revised guidelines by three months till March,2007, for the enhanced FDI limit of 74 per cent.

A Cabinet meet earlier approved that FDI up to 49 per cent would continue to be on the automatic route and Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval would be required for FDI in companies if it has a bearing on the overall ceiling of 74 per cent.

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Airtel to invest over $2 billion

New Delhi, January 18
Bharti Airtel, India’s largest private Cellular operator, today announced an investment of over $ 2 billion (Rs 9,000 crore) in 2007-08 to expand network, but wanted state-run BSNL to share infrastructure.

“Of the total capex for the next financial year, maximum will go for the rural areas,” Mr Akhil Gupta, Joint Managing Director, Bharti Airtel, said on the sidelines of a conference organised by the CII and Ericsson.

Mr Gupta, however, raised the issue of infrastructure sharing with BSNL, saying this would lead to faster rollout of networks there.

BSNL has so far opposed such an arrangement, saying huge investments have gone in creating rural infrastructure and private players should to be allowed to take undue advantage.

The company has chalked out its rural strategy and would concentrate on the rural areas, which have huge growth potential, in the years to come, he said.

Bharti, which has 30 per cent market share in GSM-based industry with 32 million subscribers, would also bring the broadband in the rural areas, he said.

He claimed that as on September 2006, Bharti had presence in 155,000 smaller towns as part of its strategy to cover rural India and another 20,000 towns to be added soon.

Ericsson to pump in $100 m annually

Swedish telecom equipment giant Ericsson today announced an investment of $100 million (nearly Rs 450 crore) every year in India with an option to enhance it depending upon the growth in the telecom sector.

"We will be investing $100 million annually for the next five years. The figure could go up depending upon the growth in the sector," Mats Granryd, Managing Director, Ericsson India, told reporters here. — PTI

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Tatas to pick up stake in SpiceJet 

Mumbai, January 18
The Tata Group would pick up a stake worth $17 million in no-frill carrier SpiceJet.

The budget carrier has requested the group to nominate a member on the company's Board, as well.

In addition to the Tatas, Spicejet is offering stakes to Ishtitmar, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs and KBC (UK) Ltd worth $25 million, $15 million, $5 million and $2.5 million, respectively, totalling $64.5 million, Spicejet Chief Executive Officer Siddhanta Sharma said here.

The Tatas will make the investment in the company through the group's financial arm Ewart Investments.

He said the company's offering of shares on a preferential basis was aimed at raising funds for non-aircraft capacity expansion purposes like investment in engineering and strengthening call centres.

Ishtitmar would now have two nominees on the company's Board, he said. — PTI

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Pitroda favours telecom manufacturing
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, January 18
Knowledge Commission Chairman Sam Pitroda said today that giving market access to home-grown phone companies could herald the next telecommunications revolution in the country.

Speaking at a plenary session on “Innovation - New Models, New Ideas” at the CII partnership summit here, Mr Pitroda said the country had lost ground in telecom after the C-Dot exchanges.

India was the only country which expected growth from 150 million hand sets to 350 million hand sets within a few years. “If we allow local companies market access telecom manufacturing will set roots in India. It can be done but where are the people who can take such hard decisions”, he added.

When asked about his views on the next likely revolution in India after IT and telecom, Mr Pitroda said:" I feel the need of the hour is a knowledge revolution. The only capital the country has is knowledge capital. The challenge is how we get this capital organised to make it a workforce for the world”, he added. He said he also thought bio-technology would transform many areas like agriculture and heath in India.

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HPCL may sell 51 pc stake in Vizag refinery

New Delhi, January 18
Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), India's second-biggest state-run refiner, may sell up to 51 per cent stake in its upcoming refinery at Vizag in Andhra Pradesh to Total SA of France.

"We are in talks with Total for the 9 million tonne (MT) expansion at our Vizag refinery," HPCL CMD M.B. Lal told reporters on sidelines of the Petrotech oil and gas conference here.

Mr Lal will meet Total CEO Thierry Desmarest for talks on the planned stake sale.
— PTI

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Ranbaxy posts 167 pc rise in Q4 net profit

New Delhi, January 18
Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd has reported a 167 per cent rise in its net profit for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2006, at Rs 186 crore as against Rs 68.6 crore during the previous year.

The company's consolidated sales went up by 22 per cent at Rs 1,708 crore and earnings before interest, depreciation, tax and amortisation rose 216 per cent at Rs 266.5 crore during the quarter.

''We have had an extremely good year with robust sales across markets of US, BRICS, Africa, Latin America, West Asia and the Asia Pacific,'' Ranbaxy CEO and Managing Director Malvinder Singh said.

The company's net profit for the year ended December 31, 2006, also swung 97 per cent at Rs 520.4 crore over the consolidated sales of Rs 607 crore, up 17 per cent.

The company made eight acquisition transactions across the US, Europe, Africa and India during the year. — PTI

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NLC plans 1000-MW plant in TN

New Delhi, January 18
The Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) has sought government nod for partnering the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board to set up a 1,000-MW power plant in Tuticorin at a cost of Rs 4,654 crore.

In a note to the government, the NLC has proposed creating a subsidiary -NLC Tamil Nadu Power Ltd- which would be the JV in which the NLC would hold 89 per cent of equity (approximately Rs 1,243 crore).

The proposed project, which would be financed in a debt equity ratio of 70:30, is to be executed in two phases of 500 MW each.

NLC, a mini-ratna company, has said that coal linkage could be made available from Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd and the first unit would be made operational within 48 months and the second one in 53 months from the date of sanction. — PTI

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Govt working on Bill for micro-finance: PM 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called upon SAARC countries to accord priority in addressing the problem of home-based workers, the majority of whom are women, so that they benefit from regional and international trade.

Inaugurating a three-day South Asian Policy conference on home-based workers here, Dr Manmohan Singh stressed that the Kathmandu Declaration adopted by the UNIFEM conference identifies areas of deprivation faced by them, including recognition, social protection, skill building, technology development, credit availability and political participation.

Emphasising that SAARC member countries must identify the products of the home-based workers, he said: "I do believe that women's empowerment should be a major objective of our social, political and economic policy in our region as a whole."

Concerned that most home-based workers received very low levels of income due to a chain of middlemen, the Prime Minister said the main challenge pertained to increasing skills, productivity and earnings of these workers.

According to estimates, there are about 50 million home-based workers in South Asia, most of whom are women. In India, 57 per cent of all women workers are home-based.

Noting that a large number of home-based workers also reflected the fact that small units were still the norm in this region, Dr Manmohan Singh said about 86 per cent of the workers in the manufacturing sector still worked in small or household enterprise.

The Prime Minister disclosed that the government was working on a Bill for micro-finance to ensure greater credit availability to the poor as well small enterprises.

The Prime Minister said the government would try to facilitate various models of delivering micro-finance so that the services grow faster.

The conference, being attended by more than 250 home-based workers from all over the country, has been jointly organised by the United Nations Development Fund for Women and Ahmedabad based Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA).

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Subex Azure buys Syndesis for Rs 728 cr

Bangalore, January 18
City-based Subex Azure, a vendor of revenue maximisation solutions for telecom operators, today announced it was acquiring telecom solutions provider Syndesis Ltd for $164.5 million (nearly Rs 728 crore) in an all-cash deal.

The deal value is based on Syndesis' trading 12 months revenue of $45 million, company officials said here.

The transaction is expected to be completed by March end, the company's Chairman, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Subash Menon said.

Mr Menon said the acquisition strengthens the company's leadership in telecom OSS (operations, support, software) space, and extends its offering to the "fulfilment and assurance" solution segment.

"The acquisition of Syndesis — a recognised leader in the fulfilment and assurance solution segment — will enable Subex Azure extend its product portfolio to provide field- proven solutions that empower operational dexterity", he said. — PTI 

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JSW Steel plans Rs 85,000-cr investment

New Delhi, January 18
JSW Steel Limited is embarking on a mega expansion, entailing a total investment of Rs 85,000 crore in the next 15 years to take its total production capacity to 30 million tonnes. “By 2020, we are looking at having a total capacity of 30 MT from our three plants in Karnataka, West Bengal and the one being planned in Jharkhand,” JSW Steel Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Sajjan Jindal told reporters here. He said the company was in advanced stage of negotiations with the government in Jharkhand, where it has planned a 10 MT plant at an investment of Rs 35,000 crore.

“Currently, we are looking out for locations in the state although we have made down payments with the state. The relief and rehabilitation and mining policy are awaited,” he said. — PTI

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Imtex starts
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, January 18
Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said today the manufacturing sector should contribute 25 per cent of the GDP against 17 per cent now to achieve the annual target growth of 10 per cent.

Speaking at the inaugural function of the Indian Machine Tools Exhibition (IMTEX) here, Mr Nath said “India is emerging as the hub of manufacturing activity in Asia”. He said with the country now signing a number of trade agreements with various countries, it should emerge as the gateway to the Asian market.

IMTEX has around 800 exhibitor stands-representing participation from over 1,200 exhibitors from 25 countries and comprising all leading machine tools brands the world over. In his address Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said the state government had taken a number of steps to develop various industry clusters so as give a fillip to the manufacturing sector. 

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Rupee loses 14 paise

Mumbai, January 18
The rupee closed lower today at Rs 44.33/34 against the US dollar as compared to the previous day’s closing of Rs 44.19/20, dealers said.

The RBI today fixed the reference rate at Rs 44.25 per US dollar, up by two paise from it’s yesterday’s rate of Rs 44.27, an RBI spokesperson said here.

However, the performance of the domestic unit against other currencies was mixed. The rupee was down against the euro at Rs 57.38/40 (57.06/08) per unit, it was Rs 87.40/42 (86.85/87) per unit against pound sterling. — UNI

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Corporate Results
RIL Q3 net soars to Rs 2,799 crore

Mumbai, January 18
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) today announced a net profit of Rs 2,799 crore in the October-December quarter of 2006-07 as against Rs 1,776 crore in the same period last year.

The total income (net of excise) was Rs 26,514 crore for the third quarter ended December 31, 2006, while the same was at Rs 18,348 crore for the corresponding quarter a year ago, Reliance Industries said.

The figures for the corresponding periods of the previous year are not comparable in view of the planned shutdown of the refinery during October and November 2005, the company said.

Reliance Energy net up

Anil Ambani's Reliance Energy Ltd has announced a 22.10 per cent rise in profit after tax at Rs 201.03 crore for the third quarter this fiscal as compared to Rs 164.64 crore in the year-ago period.

Total income increased 60.01 per cent to Rs 1,820.43 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2006, from Rs 1,137.63 crore in the corresponding quarter a year ago, Reliance Energy said.

Biocon net up 45 pc

Drug-maker Biocon Ltd today reported a net profit of Rs 47.51 crore in the third quarter ended December 31 against Rs 32.79 crore in the same period a year ago, recording an increase of 44.89 per cent.

The net sales during the October-December, 2006, period stood at Rs 214.08 crore as against Rs 172.40 crore in the corresponding period last year.

During April-December, 2006, the company's revenues grew by 23 per cent to stand at Rs 710 crore while the profit after tax (PAT) was Rs 140 crore rising by 11 per cent over the same period in the previous year.

Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon, said, ''We are pleased that our investments in R&D and Biocon Park are beginning to deliver healthy and sustainable profits.

The company's recently launched BIOMAb-EGFRTM would undergo trials for label expansion while T1h (anti-CD6 antibody) and IN105 (oral insulin) are expected to enter the Phase II clinical trials this year, she said.

After its India debut, BIOMAb-EGFRTM is now set to enter the Pakistan market through a licensing arrangement with Ferozsons Laboratories, a leading onco-pharma company.

Exide Q3 net up 62 pc

Exide Industries posted a 61.79 per cent increase in net profit after tax at Rs 34.85 crore for the quarter ended December 31, as compared to Rs 21.54 crore for the same quarter last year.

The total income (net of excise and sales tax) increased 35.46 per cent to Rs 459.58 crore for the quarter under review. — TNS, Agencies

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BRIEFLY

SBI revises interest rates
Mumbai, January 18
The SBI today announced revision in interest rates of domestic term deposits, effective from January 22. Accordingly, the special rate of interest at 8.25 per cent a year, offered on deposits of Rs 15 lakh and above but less than Rs 1 crore for maturities of one year and above will now be applicable to all deposits irrespective of amount. The above offer will be applicable up to March 31. Senior citizens will get .5 per cent additional rate of interest. — UNI

Reliance tariff
Mumbai, January 18
Reliance Communications today announced the launch of its exciting tariff plan 'Simply 2030', which enables Reliance Hello post-paid customers to make calls at Rs 1.20 per minute, anywhere in the country, on any network. A Reliance Hello post-paid customer will have to pay a monthly rental of Rs 130 to enjoy calls at Rs 1.20 per minute anywhere in the country on any network. — UNI

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