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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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B U S I N E S S

Tatas to go ahead with TN chemical project
Chennai, August 14
Despite strong political protests, Tata Steel will go ahead with its Rs 2,500-crore titanium dioxide project in Tamil Nadu.



                     B. Muthuraman
B. Muthuraman

Reliance Retail plans 500 hypermarkets
Ahmedabad, August 14
Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Retail today unveiled its first hypermarket here that will sell groceries to general merchandise at budget friendly prices, and announced setting up 500 such superstores across India by 2010.

RIL gets nod for agri retail chain in WB
Kolkata, August 14
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has received clearance from West Bengal's Food Processing and Horticulture Department for its agri-retail business in the state.

Ispat to invest Rs 10,000 cr
Mumbai, August 14
After the Tata and Essar, it is now the turn of another domestic steelmaker Ispat to expand overseas through capacity expansion and backward integration, and the steel major has plans to invest about Rs 10,000 crore within five years to ramp up its domestic production.



EARLIER STORIES

 
A man works on a huge beer tent in Munich on Monday where preparations are under way for the traditional Oktoberfest beer festival.
A man works on a huge beer tent in Munich on Monday where preparations are under way for the traditional Oktoberfest beer festival. This year’s world famous festival will take place from September 22 to October 7. — AFP

LIC women plans ‘ill-conceived’
New Delhi, August 14
Either there is something amiss with insurance schemes floated by the LIC for women or the government has not taken adequate measures to reach targeted beneficiaries.

MTNL eyes stake in Telkom Kenya
New Delhi, August 14
State-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) is likely to pick up 51 per cent stake in Telkom Kenya, the sole national operator in the east African country.

Indian IT majors not green
New Delhi, August 14
If the Greenpeace Indian guide to greener electronics is any indication, some of India’s top IT companies do not meet up global green standards and are far behind in the management of toxic substances in products as well as e-waste.

Protestors, including a dairy farmer with two cows, carry banners and balloons demanding a fair price of 40 cent per litre for milk in the southern German city of Munich on Tuesday.
Protestors, including a dairy farmer with two cows, carry banners and balloons demanding a fair price of 40 cent per litre for milk in the southern German city of Munich on Tuesday. The price of dairy products, including milk, have increased mainly due to an increase in demand from Asian markets. — AFP

BSNL launches customer care portal
Chandigarh, August 14
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) today launched the customer care portal for providing all services under one roof.

MUL to take innovations to vendors
New Delhi, August 14
To meet the gap between capacity and demand, Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) believes in stretching its existing assets to the maximum while also setting up new plants to increase capacity. The result can be seen in MUL’s capability to produce about 6,50,000 cars from its Gurgaon plant, which has an installed capacity of only about 3,50,000 cars per year.

M&M to drive Scorpio to Brazil, Egypt
Mumbai, August 14
Auto major Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is planning to roll out its SUV, Scorpio, from the Brazilian and Egyptian markets, a top company official said here today.

M&M schemes
Chandigarh, August 14
Celebrating the spirit of freedom, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited (M&M) today flagged off ‘Mahindra Swatantrata Mahotsav’ — a week-long programme that presents the farmer with a host of benefits, such as zero per cent interest scheme on loans, exchange of old tractors, labour free service and health check-up camps for farmers.

Zip-n-Match sari launched
Chennai, August 14
Adding another innovation to its silk sari colletion, a showroom 'Kumaran Stores', has come out with another innovation -- the unique 'Zip-N-Match' silk sari in the market.

Rupee closes at 6-week low
Mumbai, August 14
The rupee today fell by 12 paise to close at a six-week low of 40.7450/7550 against the US dollar on fresh dollar demand amid a firm dollar overseas.

India at ‘top spot’ in billionaire ranking: Forbes
Washington, August 14
From being one of the world’s poorest economies six decades ago to becoming a ‘top spot’ today, India has come a long way, Forbes says in a special report, ‘India at 60’, as it lists more billionaires in India than in any other Asian nation.

 

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Tatas to go ahead with TN chemical project
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 14
Despite strong political protests, Tata Steel will go ahead with its Rs 2,500-crore titanium dioxide project in Tamil Nadu.

The company’s managing director B. Muthuraman said: “The project is definitely on” and accused the former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government of trying to scuttle the project by not acquiring land in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts in the state.

The AIADMK regime, under the leadership of the then Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha, had signed an MoU in 2002 with Tata Steel for allowing the company to mine ilmenite, which will be used to manufacture titanium dioxide.

However, Jayalalithaa never gave a green signal to the project as she felt farmers in the “area will be deprived”.

Muthuraman said: “We want to do the project with the support of the people. Majority of them are supporting the project though some have doubts. We will clear those doubts,” he said in the wake of stiff opposition to the project from allies of the DMK-led government and various opposition parties.

“I am willing to have a debate with any cross-section of the people about the project,” he said.

Though Tata Steel has promised to provide jobs to the families of farmers, whose land would be acquired, the AIADMK and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) have threatened mass agitation if the state government started acquiring land.

MDMK general secretary Vaiko had threatened: “It is impossible to give jobs to thousands of people. The government must give up its plan to acquire land otherwise there will be another Nandigram.”

He contended that acquiring coastal land and handing it over for the chemical project would lead to the evacuation of about 40,000 families.

He pointed out: “These people are dependent on agricultural and palm products, and will lose their livelihood, if displaced. Moreover, such large scale displacement will also result in sea water incursion into agricultural land.”

Both Jayalalithaa and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi traded charges over the project. While Jayalalithaa said she had not cleared the project following adverse reports by the district collectors of the two districts, Karunanidhi alleged that the main reason behind her opposition was the fact that she had been abetting illegal mining in the area.

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Reliance Retail plans 500 hypermarkets

Ahmedabad, August 14
Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Retail today unveiled its first hypermarket here that will sell groceries to general merchandise at budget friendly prices, and announced setting up 500 such superstores across India by 2010.

The western-style retail facility ‘Reliance Mart’, touted as India’s largest at over 165,000 sq ft, “will be better than the best in the market,” RIL president and CEO (operations and strategy) Raghu Pillai said.

“We would ensure that our products would be cheapest on the consumers’ wallet and would match the lowest price in the market with the best quality as benchmark,” he said.

The company is targeting 30 stores by December this year.

Pillai said the company is planning to set up 500 hypermarkets in 784 towns by 2010 and expects a top-line of Rs 1,000 per sq ft per year.

Reliance, which last year announced Rs 25,000-crore investment in its retail initiative, would be spending Rs 2,500-3,000 in developing each sq ft, an informed source said.

Reliance Mart would retail over 95,000 products ranging from full lines of groceries to garments and consumer durables to garden equipment.

Reliance Hypermarket CEO K Radhakrishnan said six malls under the Reliance Mart brand would come up in the national capital, five each in Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, three in Gujarat and two in Bangalore. — PTI

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RIL gets nod for agri retail chain in WB

Kolkata, August 14
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has received clearance from West Bengal's Food Processing and Horticulture Department for its agri-retail business in the state.

Confirming this, land and reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Molla told reporters today the Food Processing Department had cleared the RIL project to roll out agri-retail chain comprising six distribution-cum-procurement hubs.

The six hubs, which received clearance included Asansol, Haldia, Kharagpur, Malda, Siliguri and Falta, the minister said, adding each hub would be spread over about 100 acres.

Molla, however, said his department was yet to receive papers for clearance for land acquisition.

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Ispat to invest Rs 10,000 cr

Mumbai, August 14
After the Tata and Essar, it is now the turn of another domestic steelmaker Ispat to expand overseas through capacity expansion and backward integration, and the steel major has plans to invest about Rs 10,000 crore within five years to ramp up its domestic production.

"Ispat Industries Limited (IIL) and its parent company Global Steel Holdings are working on plans to expand operations both in India and overseas. We would be ramping up our production at Dolvi plant near here from 3 MT to 3.6 MT per annum," IIL executive director, finance, Anil Surekha told PTI.

He said the company's domestic expansion plans include building a one million tonne per annum (MTPA) coke oven plant and 4.5 MTPA coke pellet plant (likely in Visakhapattanam).

"Rs 3,000 crore would be required for ramping up Dolvi plant's capacity from 3.6 MT to 5 MT by 2011-12," he said.

Surekha said IIL's proposed 2.8 MT plant in Jharkhand would require an investment of about Rs 5,750 crore, but fructification of the project would depend on availability of iron ore through captive mines which was indicated to the company by the state government in an MoU.

"IIL's parent company Global Steel Holdings is exploring the possibility of projects in the overseas for capacity expansion and backward integration to ensure a perennial source of raw materials and strike a business synergy in various parts of the world," he said. — PTI

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LIC women plans ‘ill-conceived’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
Either there is something amiss with insurance schemes floated by the LIC for women or the government has not taken adequate measures to reach targeted beneficiaries.

A government-appointed committed today expressed concern over low coverage under various insurance schemes of the LIC, especially under schemes designed for women.

Coming down heavily on LIC-designed insurance plans for women, it said though LIC had some exclusive schemes and plans for women beneficiaries like Jeevan Bharti Plan, Janashree Bima Yojana and Aanganwadi Karyakartri Bima Yojana, the response to these schemes had been far from promising.

“The coverage under the scheme has either been stagnant or declined,” the committee on empowerment of women noted, asking the government to augment awareness programmes and establish a tow-tier monitoring mechanism at the state and centre levels.

In its report, presented in the Lok Sabha, the 30-member committee headed by Krishna Tirath, noted that the main problem appeared to be delay in settling claims under the Jeeven Bharti Plan, thereby asking the government to expedite settlement of claims and provide assistance to beneficiaries.

“It is surprising to note that no claims had been received by the LIC under the plan during 2001 and 2003. In 2004, there were just three claims,” the committee said, adding that either beneficiaries were ignorant about benefits and entitlement available under the scheme or procedure to file their claims with the LIC was too complex and cumbersome. It was also possible that the scheme was ill-conceived.

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MTNL eyes stake in Telkom Kenya

New Delhi, August 14
State-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) is likely to pick up 51 per cent stake in Telkom Kenya, the sole national operator in the east African country.

A number of international telephony operators, namely Telkom South Africa, British Telecom, Reliance, VSNL and Alkazar Kuwait, have also expressed their interests in becoming strategic partners in the operator.

Also in the fray are India’s top mobile operator Bharti Airtel and the Tata Group.

Kenya, last month, nearly doubled the Telkom Kenya stake on offer to 51 per cent. The successful bidder would get a controlling stake but will have to sell off 11 per cent in an initial public offering on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. Telkom Kenya will open technical proposals from interested investors on October 30 and financial proposals on November 8. — UNI

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Indian IT majors not green
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
If the Greenpeace Indian guide to greener electronics is any indication, some of India’s top IT companies do not meet up global green standards and are far behind in the management of toxic substances in products as well as e-waste.

The guide, ranking IT companies on their “green performance”, says that HCL, Zenith and PCS are nowhere near the global standards while Wipro, with a score of 5.3 out of 10, was the best out of the lot.

Since the international ranking system was launched in August 2006, four editions of the global guide have been published.

Four leading computer manufacturers have been ranked on the basis of information provided on their websites and compared to global rankings. Greenpeace activist Ramapati Kumar says the ranking shows that most companies are yet to be on a par with global brands.

“Wipro tops Indian companies. Nokia continues to lead the global list with a score of 8 out of 10 while HCL has not earned a single point on any of the five chemical criteria. PCS and Zenith also failed to score any points,” he says.

As per Greenpeace most global companies are forthcoming in sharing information on products. “In March 2007, Panasonic launched a series of PVC-free products, including DVD players, recorders, home cinemas and video players and now provides a list of products that are PVC-free. Meanwhile, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Motorola are introducing models that are free from PVC and brominated flame-retardants,” he adds.

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BSNL launches customer care portal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 14
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) today launched the customer care portal for providing all services under one roof.

The portal http://portal.bsnl.in/ bsnlcca/login.aspx — will provide a single common web interface for the customers across the Punjab telecom circle and go a long in providing new services and redressing their grievances, SR Aggarwal, chief general manager telecom, Punjab circle, said here today.

Giving details about the functioning of the portal, officials said to avail of any service a customer was required to register by giving required details after which a user name and a password would be allotted through e-mail.

The portal would provide an array of services, including application for new telephone connection, shifting of telephone, change of tariff plan, requests for call transfer and STD/ISD facility and request for the broadband services.

Keeping in view the craze for the mobile phone connections, various services associated with CellOne, BSNL's mobile service, like applications for the new connections, addition and withdrawal of add-on facilities, change of tariff plan and change of address would also be entertained at the portal.

The other services offered would be request for the registration of leased line and the applications for free phone or universal access number.

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MUL to take innovations to vendors
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
To meet the gap between capacity and demand, Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL) believes in stretching its existing assets to the maximum while also setting up new plants to increase capacity.
The result can be seen in MUL’s capability to produce about 6,50,000 cars from its Gurgaon plant, which has an installed capacity of only about 3,50,000 cars per year.

MUL has been working hard towards its goal of achieving higher production through installed capacity by reducing waste in order to make its manufacturing systems leaner and more agile. The successful implementation of the production system has resulted in improved productivity by 46 per cent in the last three years and led to cost and quality improvement by 30 per cent.

Huge success of the project encouraged MUL to take this practice to the shop floor of its suppliers also. The motive was to share its learning and also upgrade suppliers manufacturing systems. Maruti production system (MPS) works on the principle of eliminating of ‘muda’ or waste, which eventually helps in improving productivity.

It has also set up a Maruti Centre for Excellence (MACE) in collaboration with its suppliers in 2004 as a non-profit organisation with an investment of Rs 10 crore.

The centre is responsible for providing consultancy and training support to its suppliers and sales network to enable them to achieve world-class standards in quality, cost, service and technology orientation.

Maruti plans to gradually extend this initiative to other business associates also. “Apart from vendors, MACE will work with our sales network. It will help around 250 True Value outlets, engaged in the business of pre-owned cars, to obtain an ISO 9000 certificate over tenure of three years,” say company officials.

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M&M to drive Scorpio to Brazil, Egypt

Mumbai, August 14
Auto major Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) is planning to roll out its SUV, Scorpio, from the Brazilian and Egyptian markets, a top company official said here today.

The company would assemble Scorpio, SUV and pick-up, in Brazil. It would send knocked-down units to Brazil, which will then be assembled there, M&M president Pawan Goenka said.

For this purpose, M&M has tied up with a local Brazilian partner Bramont to roll out 5,000 units annually, he said.

This is the company’s maiden entry into Brazil, but second in Latin America. M&M assembles Bolero in Uruguay. Its competitor Tata Motors has already set up operations in Brazil and Argentina.

Similarly, the company has tied up with a local partner in Egypt. — PTI

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M&M schemes

Chandigarh, August 14
Celebrating the spirit of freedom, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited (M&M) today flagged off ‘Mahindra Swatantrata Mahotsav’ — a week-long programme that presents the farmer with a host of benefits, such as zero per cent interest scheme on loans, exchange of old tractors, labour free service and health check-up camps for farmers. The benefits will be offered between August 13-19 at Mahindra Tractor dealerships across the country. M&M has also extended its ‘Jai Jawaan se Jai Kisaan’ rehabilitation scheme for soldiers. Under this scheme, Mahindra tractors will be made available at attractive prices to the soldiers. — TNS

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Zip-n-Match sari launched

Chennai, August 14
Adding another innovation to its silk sari colletion, a showroom 'Kumaran Stores', has come out with another innovation -- the unique 'Zip-N-Match' silk sari in the market.

The new product is a hand-woven pure silk sari with a set of interchangeable pallus matching different shades of colours and styles -- with intricate embroidery, attractive crystal work and zari woven designs, partner of the showroom P J Ravi told newspersons here today after the launch.

A woman wearing this sari "can look different each time she wears it", he quipped.

"All that she needs to do is to choose a different pallu from a set of pallus given with the saree -- and just zip it on," he said, adding: "just mix and match the various pallus and blouses and the wearer will come up with a unique trendy combination."

He said the zip, stiched to the sari, was an imported one. The price range of the sari would be from Rs 20,000.

"We are also working out to introduce 'Zip-n-Match' silk dhoti for men," he said. —UNI

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Rupee closes at 6-week low

Mumbai, August 14
The rupee today fell by 12 paise to close at a six-week low of 40.7450/7550 against the US dollar on fresh dollar demand amid a firm dollar overseas.

Capital outflows and some downward pressure on the Asian markets, including India, also weighed on the rupee.

In active trade at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (forex) market, the local currency opened slightly lower at 40.64/66 from yesterday's close of 40.6250/6350 per dollar. — PTI

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India at ‘top spot’ in billionaire ranking: Forbes

Washington, August 14
From being one of the world’s poorest economies six decades ago to becoming a ‘top spot’ today, India has come a long way, Forbes says in a special report, ‘India at 60’, as it lists more billionaires in India than in any other Asian nation.

“India’s rising fortunes are underscored by the increasing prosperity of its wealthiest citizens,” it adds, as it lists 36 billionaires in the country.

This year Forbes counted more Indians than Japanese billionaires. Three Indians made it to the list of top 20 of the world’s richest and only the USA had more billionaires than India.

“We have made decent progress in several areas during the past 60 years. We have produced world-class scientists, engineers, journalists, soldiers, bureaucrats, politicians and doctors,” says N.R. Narayana Murthy, co-founder of one of India’s best known software companies and among those in the rich list.

Veteran investment banker Nimesh Kampani predicts 100 billionaires by 2009 representing diverse fields. According to Forbes, it was a vastly different story in 1987 when the magazine began tracking fortunes around the world. That year, the only Indian on the list was the Birla family with a net worth of close to $2 billion.

It was only in 1994 when Dhirubhai Ambani of Reliance Industries made his debut with his petrochemicals fortune.

Today, London-based Lakshmi N. Mittal is the richest Indian worth $25 billion, followed by Mukesh and Anil Ambani. They unseated Wipro group’s chairman Azim Premji, who had been India’s richest resident for several years.

This apart, there were five newcomers in the latest Forbes list, including Kalanidhi Maran, who runs regional broadcaster Sun TV, and Ramesh Chandra, who made a fortune building middle-class housing.

Others are Jignesh Shah, who set up India’s largest commodities exchange, tractor tycoon Keshub Mahindra and Infosys Technologies co-founder K. Dinesh. — IANS

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BRIEFLY

ONGC plan
Dehra Dun, August 14
ONGC today said it will invest Rs 990 crore to establish a research centre here to look for alternative sources of energy. Company’s chief managing director R S sharma said: “With estimated cost of Rs 490 crore for building constructions and furnishings and Rs 500 crore for research and development work, the proposed centre would carry out research in alternative sources of energy like solar energy and hydrogen fuel.” — UNI

Market holiday
Mumbai, August 14
All trading in the capital markets, the Bombay Stock Exchange, National Stock Exchange, other essential and non-essential commodities markets, forex and call money will remain closed tomorrow to mark the country’s 60th Independence day, officials said. — UNI

Sterlite Optical
New Delhi, August 14
Sterlite Optical Technologies Ltd today said it has received a contract worth Rs 38 crore from state owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) for manufacture and supply of high fiber count ribbon fiber optic cables. These cables would be installed in BNSL’s Pan-India Optical Fiber Access Network and would be completed within the next six months, company said. — UNI

Centurion Bank
New Delhi, August 14
Centurion Bank of Punjab (CBoP) today launched a ‘SmartRemit — Gulf’, a service to help NRI clients based in the UAE to remit funds to their accounts with the bank. For this, the bank has entered into a remittance agreement with exchange houses in the UAE such as the UAE Exchange Centre LLC and Alukkas Exchange. — UNI

NHPC dividend
New Delhi, August 14
National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC) today paid its highest ever dividend of Rs 278 crore to the centre for the financial year 2006-07. The corporation has already paid an interim dividend of Rs 72 crore in December 2006. A cheque for the balance amount of Rs 206 crore was presented to union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde by S. K. Garg, CMD, NHPC. — TNS

British Airways
New Delhi, August 14
British Airways has launched a special scheme to celebrate 60 years of India's Independence, under which it is offering premier economy cabin return trip tickets to the UK starting at Rs 36,000. Passengers flying the airline between August 15 and September 30 would be able to avail of the 'World Traveller Plus' fare, the airline said in a statement here.— PTI

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