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Stone of Rs 5,460-cr Assam Gas Cracker Project laid
Dibrugarh, April 9
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today pledged Centre’s support for rapid industrialisation of the North-East, saying the region requires investments to help ease its spiralling unemployment problem.

ONGC, OIL to supply subsidised gas
Lepetkata (Assam), April 9
ONGC and Oil India Ltd (OIL) will supply subsidised natural gas to Assam Gas Cracker project.

R-Comm user base
New Delhi, April 9
Reliance Communications (R-Comm) acquired over 1.2 million wireless subscribers in March this year and also maintained its position as India's second largest wireless operator, with a re-verified wireless subscriber base of over 28 million as on March 31, 2007.

Reliance Fresh enters western India

Ahmedabad, April 9
Reliance Fresh, a retail division of the Reliance group, will enter operations in western India by opening nine stores in Ahmedabad tomorrow, offering products ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables, staples, grocery to dairy items at competitive prices.

Group president of corporate affairs at Reliance Industries Parimal Nathwani arranges produce on the shelves of a supermarket style store in Ahmedabad on Monday, on the eve of the shop's grand opening.
Group president of corporate affairs at Reliance Industries Parimal Nathwani arranges produce on the shelves of a supermarket style store in Ahmedabad on Monday, on the eve of the shop's grand opening. — AFP







EARLIER STORIES

 
Models present creations by a Taiwanese designer at a government-sponsored fashion show in Taipei on Monday. The parade was organised to promote Taiwan's brandname fashion.
Models present creations by a Taiwanese designer at a government-sponsored fashion show in Taipei on Monday. The parade was organised to promote Taiwan's brandname fashion. — AFP photo

Uzbek fields attract OVL
New Delhi, April 9
ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, plans to invest in gas fields in Uzbekistan.

Nod to 13 FDI plans
New Delhi, April 9
The government today cleared sale of 6 per cent equity in the National Stock Exchange (NSE) to foreign investors while approving 13 FDI proposals amounting to Rs 477 crore.

RIL gas pricing pact by Aug
Mumbai, April 9
Index-heavyweight Reliance Industries (RIL) said today it would finalise its gas pricing agreement with all customers by August-end and seek government nod after that.

Australian cricketer and brand ambassador of Timex watches, Brett Lee, poses for photographers at the launch of 40th Time Factory, factory outlet store, in Noida on Monday.
Australian cricketer and brand ambassador of Timex watches, Brett Lee, poses for photographers at the launch of 40th Time Factory, factory outlet store, in Noida on Monday. — PTI

Bajaj cuts Platina prices
Opens new plant in Uttarakhand
New Delhi, April 9
Bajaj Auto Ltd has announced Rs 3,000 cut on its Platina model, leveraging the excise and income tax benefits from its fourth plant inaugurated today at Pantnagar, Uttarakhand. The vehicle will now be available at Rs 33,000 (ex-showroom).

HP allows Brakel to merge projects
Shimla, April 9
The Himachal Pradesh government has allowed Brakel, a Dutch company, which has been assigned Jhangi-Thopan (480 MW) and Thopan-Powari (480 MW) hydroelectric projects, to combine two mega ventures on the Sutlej in tribal Kinnaur into a two-stage project.

Telcos line up $20 b for expansion
New Delhi, April 9
The telecom market in the country is set to witness exponential growth this year with telecom operators planning billions of dollars in investment and global major Vodafone drawing plans to increase newly acquired Hutch subscriber base to 38 million by the end of 2007, from the current 25.3 million.

Eco-friendly batteries unveiled
Bangalore, April 9
Tata AutoComp Systems Ltd, the products and services provider for the automotive industry, along with GS Yuasa International Japan, today announced the launch of “Tata Green” range of eco-friendly car batteries here.

Assocham against VAT on cigarettes
New Delhi, April 9
Assocham today demanded withdrawal of 12.5 per cent VAT on cigarettes and tobacco products announced in the budget, stating the industry is already over taxed by 130 per cent off the net factory gate price.

Posco to hike steel prices
Seoul, April 9
Posco, the world’s third-largest steelmaker, will raise the prices of its stainless steel products for a fourth time this year as the cost of nickel, a key raw material, rises.

DONER to host mega business summit
Guwahati, April 9
The Department of Development of North-Eastern Region (DONER) of Government of India, in collaboration with the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), is hosting a mega North-East business summit in New Delhi on April 10 and 11 to market the industry-starved region as a destination for investment.

Toshiba sues 17 firms for patent breaches
Tokyo, April 9
Japanese high-tech giant Toshiba Corp said today it had filed a lawsuit in the United States against 17 companies for alleged infringement of its DVD patents.

Tata Tele seeks more time to sign NLD licence
New Delhi, April 9
Tata Teleservices Services Ltd (TTSL) has asked for more time from the government to sign the national long-distance licence, for which the Tata group telecom company has already received the required letter of intent.

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Stone of Rs 5,460-cr Assam Gas Cracker Project laid
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Dibrugarh, April 9
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today pledged Centre’s support for rapid industrialisation of the North-East, saying the region requires investments to help ease its spiralling unemployment problem.

Laying the foundation of Rs 5460-crore mega gas cracker project at its site at Lepetkata near here in front of a mammoth gathering, Dr Singh said, “India is today on the march. I expect industrial development will set the pace of national economic growth. We need industrial employment which alone can generate employment for youth and for the unskilled labour migrating from the rural to urban areas”.

PM exuded confidence that the project would facilitate an era of economic growth, progress and peace for the North-East region.

He exuded confidence that Assam Gas Cracker Project, which is slated to be implemented within the next five years, would facilitate an era of economic growth, progress, and peace for the North-East region.

He regretted that the project, which was part of 1985 Assam Accord and dream of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, had failed to take off although it was conceived way back in 1991.

Former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao had laid the foundation of the project at a different place called Tengakhat in the same district way back in November 24, 1995. However, it ran into rough weather because of various reasons though it was supposed to be set up by a private company.

The Primer Minister today recommended that the project should now be placed on “super fast track” and a specific timetable of activity followed for early completion of the project to restore confidence of the people.

Once commissioned, the project would generate over 600 jobs in factory itself besides creating thousands of indirect employment by facilitating setting up of about 500 downstream industrial units.

The central government has sanctioned capital investment subsidy of Rs 2138 crore for the project that will be implemented by a joint venture company being promoted by the GAIL with 70 per cent equity participation.

Oil India Limited, Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) and Assam government together share the rest 30 per cent of the equity.

According to an official source, the project work will start once the state government manages to hand over the total area of land required for the project. So far, about 50 per cent of the land has been acquired.

A large contingent of union ministers, including minister for petroleum and natural gas Murli Deora, minister for chemicals and fertilizer Ram Vilas Paswan, heavy industries minister Santosh Mohan Deb attended the function along with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

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ONGC, OIL to supply subsidised gas

Lepetkata (Assam), April 9
ONGC and Oil India Ltd (OIL) will supply subsidised natural gas to Assam Gas Cracker project.

ONGC and GAIL will supply feedstock to the petrochemical project at Rs 1,920 per thousand cubic metres, about one-third the price at which other petrochemical projects get natural gas in the country.

The subsidised natural to priority power and fertiliser units in the country cost Rs 3,200 per thousand cubic metres while for the rest of the industry, including petrochemical plants, it cost $3.86 per million British thermal unit.

OIL will supply 6 million standard cubic metres per day of natural gas from its Duliajan field. ONGC will supply 1.35 mmscmd up to March 31, 2012 and 1 mmscmd thereafter. The petrochemical complex would also utilise 160,000 tonnes per annum of petrochemical grade Naphtha from Numaligarh Refinery. — PTI

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R-Comm user base

New Delhi, April 9
Reliance Communications (R-Comm) acquired over 1.2 million wireless subscribers in March this year and also maintained its position as India's second largest wireless operator, with a re-verified wireless subscriber base of over 28 million as on March 31, 2007.

The telecom service provider had over 30 million customers as on March 31, 2007, across its wireless, wireline, broadband, and national and international long distance businesses. — UNI

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Reliance Fresh enters western India

Ahmedabad, April 9
Reliance Fresh, a retail division of the Reliance group, will enter operations in western India by opening nine stores in Ahmedabad tomorrow, offering products ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables, staples, grocery to dairy items at competitive prices.

Briefing reporters here today at a launch preview of the stores across the city, Parimal Nathwani, group president-corporate affairs said we would expand our network in all major cities of Gujarat with 180 plus stores within six to eight months period.

“In view of the overwhelming response to our retail foray numbering about 100 presently operating from Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, National Capital Region, Delhi, Jharkhand and Karnataka, we are now opening 101th reliance fresh stores along with eight others in Ahmedabad city tomorrow”, he said.

Carrying forward the vision of Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, Nathani said on one hand customers were being provided with competitive prices along with quality products in right quantity and choice products while it would bring prosperity to the farmers by giving them better value for their produce.

Besides this, half a million fresh employment was generated with the launch of Reliance retail business. After its successful launch across the urban parts of our country, we will expand out business to rural areas also, he said.— UNI

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Uzbek fields attract OVL

New Delhi, April 9
ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, plans to invest in gas fields in Uzbekistan.

The concrete outcome is expected to come during the coming six-day visit of Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh with his team to Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan starting from April 10.

Along with ONGC Videsh Ltd Managing Director, he will pursue India’s interests for oil and gas exploration in Azerbaijan, as ONGC Videsh has identified some promising prospects to be developed.

Ramesh is leading a multi-sectoral Indian delegation to Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan from April 10-16, to boost bilateral economic relationships covering both investment and trade.

He will sign the first-ever agreement with Azerbaijan for establishing the India-Azerbaijan Intergovernmental Commission on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation.

Accompanied by senior officials of GAIL, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, he will also pursue with the Uzbek government the projects identified by GAIL for investment in Uzbekistan in petrochemicals, LPG and city gas distribution.

Moreover, GAIL has identified four natural gas exploration and production blocks as prospective ones in Uzbekistan, one of the top natural gas producing countries in the world, on which it would like to move forward.

Azerbaijan also has vast resources of minerals and metals, senior officials from MMTC and the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) are accompanying Ramesh, to explore the possibilities of entering into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the mineral sector with the Azerbaijan government.

The public sector State Trading Corporation is also exploring a $10-million investment in Uzbekistan for cottonseed processing. — UNI

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Nod to 13 FDI plans
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
The government today cleared sale of 6 per cent equity in the National Stock Exchange (NSE) to foreign investors while approving 13 FDI proposals amounting to Rs 477 crore.

Finance minister P Chidambaram, on the basis of recommendations of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, approved these proposals.

Pursuant to government approval, the three Mauritius-based companies, MS Strategic (Mauritius), Actis Investment Holdings and Citigroup Strategic Holdings, will collectively pick up 6 per cent equity in NSE from IDBI, State Bank of India, SBI Capital Markets, Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Corporation Bank.

The government also sanctioned fresh investment of Rs 225 crore in construction sector by Sweden-based Quinn Logistics. The proposal includes incorporation of a holding company to make downstream investment in companies engaged in construction activities.

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RIL gas pricing pact by Aug

Mumbai, April 9
Index-heavyweight Reliance Industries (RIL) said today it would finalise its gas pricing agreement with all customers by August-end and seek government nod after that.

The company adds that the KG D6 gas will be supplied to existing gas-deficient fertiliser and power plants. RIL will spend Rs 25,000 to 30,000 crore in two gas grids covering 10,000 km and Rs 17,000 crores in the Kakinada-Hazira-Jamnagar pipeline.

RIL is looking at building the southern gas grid and its east-west gas pipeline will be ready by March next year. The new units are, however, unlikely to get KG Basin gas initially.

Reliance targets to become a fully integrated exploration and production player by 2011-12. The petchem major will fund the gas pipeline project via 70 per cent debt and 30 per cent equity. The high debt funding is mainly due to 12 per cent cap on marketing margins, the company said. — UNI

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Bajaj cuts Platina prices
Opens new plant in Uttarakhand

New Delhi, April 9
Bajaj Auto Ltd has announced Rs 3,000 cut on its Platina model, leveraging the excise and income tax benefits from its fourth plant inaugurated today at Pantnagar, Uttarakhand. The vehicle will now be available at Rs 33,000 (ex-showroom).

''The new standards in manufacturing efficiency together with the incentives for new investment in Uttarakhand has enabled Bajaj Auto to reduce the cost of production and offer even better value to its customers. Bajaj Platina, which has already sold seven lakh bikes, post its April 2006 launch, will be the first product to roll out of our new Pantnagar plant. This additional capacity will enable us to meet the demand for the Platina,'' Bajaj Auto vice- president (marketing and sales) S Sridhar said.

The Pantanagar plant has a capacity of one million motor cycles per annum which can be progressively expanded to three million vehicles.

The unit is built over 30 acres of land incurring an investment of Rs 150 crore.

The facility will be supported by manufacturing units of 16 auto component vendors in the immediate proximity. These cluster suppliers will meet 75 per cent of the component requirement of the new plant.

Bajaj Auto Chairman Rahul Bajaj said, ''We wish to compliment the Uttarakhand state on its excellent investment environment. This is our first manufacturing foray outside Maharashtra, with the best of manufacturing technology and processes. I am proud to inaugurate this new plant which sets new benchmarks in automobile manufacturing.'' — UNI

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HP allows Brakel to merge projects
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, April 9
The Himachal Pradesh government has allowed Brakel, a Dutch company, which has been assigned Jhangi-Thopan (480 MW) and Thopan-Powari (480 MW) hydroelectric projects, to combine two mega ventures on the Sutlej in tribal Kinnaur into a two-stage project.

The proposal of the company to utilise the tailrace water of the Jhangi-Thopan project for the Thopan-Powari project was approved by the state cabinet. Water from the tailrace will straightaway enter the headrace tunnel to generate power at Powari.

It will be essentially executed as the second of the Jhangi Thopan project, instead of an independent scheme as planned originally. The cost and gestation period for the second project will come down drastically as there will be no need to construct the 50-m high dam and de-silting chambers at Thopan.

The company had assured that there would be no loss of generation even though it would not be able to utilise the discharge of the Tidong Khad which joins the river upstream Thopan. The loss of Tidong discharge would be made by the additional head available due to elimination of the dam at Thopan.

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Telcos line up $20 b for expansion
R. Suryamurthy/Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
The telecom market in the country is set to witness exponential growth this year with telecom operators planning billions of dollars in investment and global major Vodafone drawing plans to increase newly acquired Hutch subscriber base to 38 million by the end of 2007, from the current 25.3 million.

According to global investment bank Macquarie, its latest report on India telecom sector said to achieve this target, mobile phone companies would offer the latest technology, design and the lowest pricing to woo Indian consumers.

Despite selling the phones at Rs 1,500 or even less, the customers would be able to get a mobile featuring camera with 10 mega pixels, 8 GB memory and even FM.

The report said the mobile penetration in India was set to increase to 36.7 per cent in the next three years.

Cellular operators have lined up investments of about $20 billion over the next two years to bring over 80 per cent of the population under mobile coverage. The planned investment for the next couple of years is 50 per cent higher than what has been invested in the past 12 years.

Sniffing huge potential in the mobile penetration and coverage area of networks, service providers are planning capital expenditure to the tune of $10 billion each in 2008 and 2009, it said.

Though at present, mobile penetration in India (14.3 per cent) is much lower than its neighboring countries like Pakistan (30 per cent), India beats everyone because of its sheer size of population.

The study said Vodafone’s subscriber base in India was expected to rise to about 38 million by the end of 2007, from Hutch-Essar’s current base of 25.3 million.

India is likely to surpass Germany and the US soon as Vodafone’s biggest market in terms of subscribers, although the company might fail short of its target of becoming number one mobile player in the country.

The combined revenue of all operators from their mobile businesses would more than double to $33.1 billion by 2010, from about $12.8 billion in 2006, the report said.

Total revenue of all telecom operators is also set to nearly double to $43.6 billion in four years, from $22.5 billion last year. The revenue share of mobile business would rise to 76 per cent in the same period, from 57 per cent currently, it added. 

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Eco-friendly batteries unveiled

Bangalore, April 9
Tata AutoComp Systems Ltd, the products and services provider for the automotive industry, along with GS Yuasa International Japan, today announced the launch of “Tata Green” range of eco-friendly car batteries here.

Tata AutoComp Managing Director D.S. Gupta said it had floated a 50 per cent joint venture with the Japanese battery giant, Tata AutoComp GY Batteries, to manufacture the eco-friendly batteries using advanced calcium-calcium technology. The product had several unique features like longer battery life and shelf life as compared to traditional batteries. — UNI

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Assocham against VAT on cigarettes

New Delhi, April 9
Assocham today demanded withdrawal of 12.5 per cent VAT on cigarettes and tobacco products announced in the budget, stating the industry is already over taxed by 130 per cent off the net factory gate price.

In a detailed note submitted to chairman of empowered committee of state finance ministers Asim Dasgupta, Assocham president Venugopal N Dhoot said the 12.5 per cent VAT would be equivalent to almost 29 per cent hike in excise duty and put the cigarette and tobacco industry under heavy pressure as the companies’ margins would shrink.

Pointing out that one of the objectives of VAT was to remove the cascading impact of taxes, it said in case of cigarettes the tax component was already very high at 130 per cent of the net factory gate price. Therefore, an ad valorem tax like VAT on cigarettes would be a “tax on excise” and not a “tax on value added”.

In the event that cigarettes were brought under VAT, it was necessary to ensure that VAT was levied on the value, net of excise duty and other taxes, as done under Section 4 of the Central Excise Act. In fact, the 2003 amendment to the Additional Duties of Excise Act limited the rate of sales tax to 4 per cent on the value net of excise duty and other taxes, said the chamber.

It added that the imposition of a state VAT on cigarettes, without a corresponding downward adjustment in the Central Excise, would adversely impact overall revenue collection. — UNI

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Posco to hike steel prices

Seoul, April 9
Posco, the world’s third-largest steelmaker, will raise the prices of its stainless steel products for a fourth time this year as the cost of nickel, a key raw material, rises.

The company will increase the price of its 300-series stainless steel hot-rolled coil by 8 per cent to 4.65 million won ($ 4,984) a metric tonne from April 23, said a spokesman at the Pohang, South Korea-based company.

The steelmaker will boost the price of 300-series stainless steel cold-rolled coil also by 8 per cent to 4.92 million won a tonne.

Nickel for delivery in three months on the London Metal Exchange has gained 48 per cent this year, touching a record $ 50,000 a tonne on April 5, on speculation demand will exceed supply. The alloy is the largest end-use for nickel. — Bloomberg

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DONER to host mega business summit
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 9
The Department of Development of North-Eastern Region (DONER) of Government of India, in collaboration with the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), is hosting a mega North-East business summit in New Delhi on April 10 and 11 to market the industry-starved region as a destination for investment.

Chairman of ICC’s NE regional advisory council M.K. Saharia has informed that the focus of the business summit would be to attract investments in the potent sectors of agro-food processing, tourism, healthcare, IT, international trade in the context of look-east policy of the central government.

The ICC official pointed out that the new North-East Industrial Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP) would be a boon for the business summit because of the unique incentives granted in the policy exclusively for the region to attract investment.

Union minister for DONER and panchayati raj Mani Shankar Aiyar will be present through most of the proceedings on both days of the summit. Union tourism minister Ambika Soni, food processing industries minister Subodhkant Sahay, minister of state for external affairs Anand Sharma and civil aviation minister Praful Patel will also address the summit.

A conclave of chief ministers of all eight NE states will be held where they will present investment opportunities in their respective states before top-line industrialists from the country and leaders and business delegates from Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh and other countries.

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Toshiba sues 17 firms for patent breaches

Tokyo, April 9
Japanese high-tech giant Toshiba Corp said today it had filed a lawsuit in the United States against 17 companies for alleged infringement of its DVD patents.

Toshiba filed the suit in the US district court for the northern district of California on Friday, seeking undisclosed damages and an injunction to prohibit the firms producing or selling the DVD products in the United States.

The firms are mostly from China or Hong Kong. The Japanese company said it had also filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission, calling for a halt to the importation of DVD players by the 17 companies.

The 17 companies do not have licence agreements with Toshiba and have imported and sold DVD products without permission, it said. — AFP

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Tata Tele seeks more time to sign NLD licence

New Delhi, April 9
Tata Teleservices Services Ltd (TTSL) has asked for more time from the government to sign the national long-distance licence, for which the Tata group telecom company has already received the required letter of intent.

TTSL has given submission that it needs three more months to sign the NLD licence. The LoI was issued to them two months ago, official sources said. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Birla Sun Life
Mumbai, April 9
Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund today launched Birla Sun life Long Term Advantage Fund-series 1(BSLAF 1) here. Mukul Gupta, CEO, Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund said,''There are lot of opportunities in the small and mid cap segment of our markets. A fund dedicated to the segment would have potential of generating superiors returns over the next three years.'' The fund is a three-year closed-end equity fund, which aims at generating consistent long-term capital appreciation by investing predominantly in equity and equity related securities of small and mid cap companies. — UNI

Moser Baer
New Delhi, April 9
Moser Baer has launched Telugu titles in its low-cost home video range in Hyderabad as part of its plan to expand the VCD/DVD business. The company, which has entered the home entertainment business, is offering movie titles in VCD as well as DVD for as low as Rs 28-Rs 34, a move that is aimed at combating piracy. Industry estimates suggest that piracy eats away Rs 300 crore of the about Rs 550 crore home entertainment market. — PTI

ONGC order
New Delhi, April 9
Marine operation and construction company Dolphin Offshore Enterprises India Ltd alongwith its consortium partner Larsen and Tourbo Ltd has bagged a $24-million order from ONGC. The contract invloves execution of works for six Clampon projects on turnkey basis. The order is to be executed before March 31, 2008. — UNI

Kirloskar Bros
New Delhi, April 9
Kirloskar Brothers Ltd has said it has secured an order worth Rs 255 crore to design and set up a water project in Andhra Pradesh. The contract received from the irrigation and CAD department in the state calls for survey, design, model study, manufacturing, supply, erection, testing, commissioning, operation and maintenance of complete electro-mechanical works for Sripada Sager Project Stage-II, Phase-I. — UNI

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