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Awasthi: Championing the farmers cause

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI: It was a moment of deep pride that ran through the veins while confronting this private soldier advocating an independent war on the betterment of rural India. He has set himself on a course that requires strong determination, dedication to a cause and a motivation level of the saints. He has chosen a path where the "self" is the least and becomes the last of the priorities. Let us meet this proud Indian who, with complete humility, has dedicated his life to a single point objective to uplift the state of our farmers.

The life of Mr Udai Shanker Awasthi, Managing director of Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), is a case study on an honest note of patriotism to the hilt. While lighting that flicker of hope in the eyes of the farmers, the vision of this man was the key to a turnaround in the agro sector making IFFCO the largest fertilizer cooperative in the world. He is also the Chairman of ICS, Industries Chimiques du Senegal, with offices in Dakar and Paris.

His soft sophisticated and balanced approach sums up the positive energy in Mr Awasthi's life. "This institution is my life" he admits. "Mybiggest joy is that reverence laden look in the eyes of our farmers when they meet me and tell me that I did achieve what I set myself to."

Compassion flows freely in this cooperator. Mr Awasthi has constructed a system whereby the needy will never go back empty handed. Keeping his social objectives in focus he started the "Kisan Sewa Fund" in 2001, which resulted in the construction of 2,000 houses for the earthquake victims in Gujarat. This fund provides medical assistance to the needy farmers and relief funds during any natural calamity.

Last year in collaboration with IFFCO Tokio General Insurance Company (ITGI), he also launched the pilot project called the "Baarish Bima Yojna" where the catch line is "Barse to Barse, na bares to Kahe ko tarse". Earlier, he was instrumental in introducing an insurance cover on every bag of fertilizer bought by a farmer with the slogan "Khaad to Khaad, Bima Saath".

"The IFFCO board is very conscious about its contribution to society. Environment protection is mandatory at all levels. All his units are at zero pollution level," he says proudly.

He has also introduced an integrated rural development programme where Rs 20 lakhs is spent on a village within the 20 km radius of an IFFCO plant for construction of roads, electricity, solar energy units, irrigation system, computers and any other civic needs.

Born in a small village of Rai Bareilly district in Uttar Pradesh, he lost his father at the tender age of two and was raised by his mother on the principles of patriotism. Being close to the Nehru/Gandhi family and Dr Harivanshrai Bachchan, his family nourished on the musical ambience of literature and poetry. "My mother always taught us to give. Patriotism and the desire to excel for the country were her gifts to me". He is grateful to God that his beautiful family also lives by these principles.

Inspired by several poets, Mr Awasthi himself gets into creative writing and composes poetry. He is a great orator with a natural born gift of keeping the audience mesmerized. "I plant to write my autobiography citing rare and spiced up instances that I lived during my career span of 37 years." Mr Awasthi retains an avid fan following, all this while, pledging his life to the betterment of the farmers.

At the age of 41, this Chemical Engineer became the youngest Chief Executive in India when he was appointed as Chairman and Managing Director of the Pyrites, Phosphates and Chemicals Ltd (PPCL). Since then there has been no looking back whereby he has had a unique distinction of serving private, public and cooperative sectors in the country. And 20 years later, he is now the senior most Chief Executive of India.

He is supported throughout by his petite soft spoken wife, Rekha, daughter of Sahitya Academy award winner author Shrilal Shukla. Mr Awasthi calls her his best friend. For it was she who supported him throughout his career giving him the nod and space to perform to achieve objectives.

Mr Awasthi recalls with pride the days when he first bought a Lambreta scooter RJR 5458 to woo her with his charm. It's a different story that coming from a well to do family she had never sat on a scooter before that. Today their relationship remains one of compassion, love and sincere understanding to each others needs. They share common interest in soft music and reading.

A great connoisseur of art, Mr Awasthi has built the art treasures of IFFCO with his strongly anchored admiration of this field of human endeavor. "Art is an expression of your feelings" he said. Recourse has been made to various styles to incorporate Cubism, Graphics, Impressionism, Symbolism, human figures, abstracts and landscapes. M F Hussain was commissioned by Mr Awasthi to create a painting for IFFCO in 1986. "Cooperation is an Angelic message" was the resulting work that was bought for Rs 30,000 then. Today this piece of art is valued in seven figures.

A true Congressman at heart, Mr Awasthi insists that he never mixes religion or politics with his work. "Religion and political beliefs are personal and should be kept to oneself". His secular beliefs have taken him to revered religiousS places such as Karbalah, the Vatican, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Tirupati Dev Sthanam and Mata Vaishno Devi temple.

The long association with the Nehru family cannot change the roots of their common ideology. Yet his workplace is a totally democratic and secular set up. When asked if he intended to join politics he immediately replied "Will I be able to do what I am doing now? Will I be able to contribute as much? The answer is no and therefore politics is ruled out."

His workplace is decorated with prestigious awards and recognitions. With total humility he laughs and admits having lost count of the awards and usually requests his senior executives to collect them on his behalf. "Let me do my work. My reward is the love and joy in the eyes of the farmers".

Anil Ambani resigns from IPCL

NEW DELHI, Jan 3: The battle within Reliance got hotter on Monday with Anil Ambani resigning from the board of group company IPCL and targeting one of Mukesh Ambani's closest lieutenants, Anand Jain, in writing. In his resignation letter to Mukesh, Anil is learnt to have accused Jain of conspiring to divide the brothers and written that he was quitting the IPCL board because it was "beneath his dignity, self-respect and self-esteem to be on the same board" as Jain, one of IPCL's non-executive directors.

The letter, according to sources, makes a scathing attack on Jain, suggesting that his dealings with Reliance were "improper and contrary to ethical norms" and that these dealings were impacting the business image and reputation of the group.

The letter says a large number of people have told Anil and other members of the Ambani family that Jain was heading a conspiracy to divide the Ambani siblings and to further aggravate differences between them. It also accuses Jain of having launched a "campaign of character assassination" against Anil in recent weeks and of playing an "obstructive and negative role" in affairs of the group and the family.

Anil's antipathy to Jain has hardly been a secret since news of the rift between the brothers first broke and his name has repeatedly cropped up in the off-the-record trading of charges by the two sides. Anil's resignation letter, however, is perhaps the first time that his objection to Jain has been put on record.

Jain, when contacted, declined to comment. However, sources close to him said "he has never engaged in character assassination of anyone in the Ambani family." These sources also pointed out that "he was appointed on the board of IPCL by Dhirubhai Ambani, the RIL founder."

Officials in the Mukesh camp said, "We are ignoring these allegations levelled against Anand Jain." They said Jain was one of the pillars of Dhirubhai Ambani in building the Reliance empire and the attack on him now was not fair. Jain, who was Mukesh's classmate at the Hill Grange high school in Mumbai, has been associated with the Reliance group ever since Mukesh returned to India from Stanford University in 1981. He holds no official position in Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), but has a wide range of dealings with the company through companies owned by him and his relatives.

Jain is a non-executive director in IPCL, Reliance Infocomm and some other companies of the Infocomm group. He is also non-executive vice-chairman of Reliance Capital. Jain's proximity to Mukesh is well-known, and by taking him head-on, Anil appears to be upping the ante.

Anil, in his letter to Mukesh, is also learnt to have questioned the conflict of interest involved in Jain being a director of IPCL and a buyer and distributor of RIL products. He has also questioned Jain being a member of RIL's pricing committee, which decides the monthly pricing of RIL products. How can a distributor be included in the panel which decides the prices, sources close to Anil asked.

Hudco earmarks Rs 2,000 cr for Tsunami rehabilitation: Selja

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Dec 28: The Minister for Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation, Kumari Selja, announced that HUDCO has earmarked a sum of Rs. 2000 crores, which will be made available for lending related to the construction and rehabilitation works in the Tsunami affected areas.

Speaking to newsmen after receiving the dividend cheques from HUDCO here on Tuesday, Kumari Selja further stated that a special loan scheme of HUDCO would be floated with immediate effect for the repairs, retrofitting and reconstruction of new houses for the economically weaker sections at a highly subsidized interest rate of up to 6.5 per cent for the calamity affected regions.

This is against 7.5 per cent presently applicable for EWS Schemes, which itself is among the lowest lending rates offered by any lending institution for economically weaker section category, she added.

The Minister further informed that HUDCO has contributed Rs. One crore to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund, and also earmarked additional Rs. One crore for construction of relief shelters with disaster resistant technologies, through Building Centers.

Stating that HUDCO has responded spontaneously to reach out to the people affected by the devastation caused by the Tsunami, Ms Selja assured that "HUDCO's past experiences in supporting rehabilitation projects in disaster hit areas will be effectively utilized to combat the current situation".

Kumari Selja said that HUDCO is already in touch with the State Governments through its network of Regional Offices assessing the damage caused and extending all support for rehabilitation of the affected population.

The Minister indicated that the Building Centres located near the affected areas would step in to provide technical guidelines and training for reconstruction of the affected houses in a cost-effective manner. The network of Building Centres promoted and supported by HUDCO throughout the country provide aesthetic, innovative, durable, cost effective and alternate building technologies utilizing locally available material and technical know-how.

The Minister received the dividend cheques from HUDCO of over Rs 102 crores for the year 2003-04 and also as interim dividend for the current year. The total payment comprises of Rs 66.49 Crores as dividend for the year 2003-2004 wherein HUDCO earned a net profit of Rs. 332.44 crores as against Rs. 266.54 crores last year.

The dividend would be payable to the Ministry of Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Urban Development and the Ministry of Rural Development in proportion to their equity contributions. The dividend paid also included the interim dividend declared by HUDCO for the current financial year 2004-2005 amounting to Rs. 35.68 crores. She highlighted the fact that HUDCO has been able to maintain its focus on the EWS and LIG and still achieve higher profitability.

IFFCO bags two prestigious awards

NEW DELHI, Dec 14: Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), globally acclaimed marketer and manufacturer of fertilisers in cooperative sector, has won the prestigious National Energy Conservation Award - 2004 ( Certificate of Merit in the Fertiliser Sector) from Ministry of Power, Govt. of India and Best Managed Work Force Award instituted by Hewitt Associates and CNBC TV18.

The Prime Minister, Dr Man Mohan Singh, presented the National Energy Conservation Award - 2004 on Tuesday. Best Managed Work Force Award was awarded by Mrs Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi, to Mr Surinder Kumar Jakhar, Chairman, IFFCO, at glittering and impressive ceremony in New Delhi. Besides a galaxy of personalities from various private and public enterprises, Mr Dayanidhi Maran, Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, was also present at the award ceremony.

IFFCO has been following a liberal, pragmatic and radical policy aimed at improving the living standards and productivity of employees. The society which has become 100 per cent cooperative this year has been recipient of awards instituted by Fertiliser Association of India (FAI). Its Phulpur-1 plant near Allahabad got FAI's runner up Award for the year 2003-04 for the Best Overall Performance of an operating unit for Nitrogen (Ammonia Plant).

Similarly, an article entitled " Cost Reduction and Power Savings in Utilities in a Mega Fertiliser Complex" published in the November 2003 issue of Fertiliser News has been adjudged best. The article has been co-authored by Mr M.M. Raheja, Sr. General Manager, IFFCO, Phulpur. IFFCO's all four plants after expansion have been exhibiting sterling display on production front year after year.

Intel, NIIT to drive computer-assisted education in schools

NEW DELHI, Nov 23: World's largest chipmaker Intel and NIIT have signed a memorandum of understanding to significantly enhance the use of technology-assisted learning in schools. As per the MoU, Intel and NIIT will seek to double the number of Indian schools benefiting from computer-assisted education to 80,000 by 2010, a statement issued here said.

The two companies will also set up collaborative teams, with professionals from the IT industry, educationists and community members, to support the country's most `challenging' technology induction initiative in schools. "Together with NIIT, we aim to infuse global best known practices into India's education system and introduce technology-assisted learning in this vast country," said Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel.

"Intel will contribute technology strengths to NIIT's content creation, curriculum delivery and education process management capability to enhance education across India," he added. The two will also develop new technologies and education models to make technology-assisted learning more affordable and accessible. They will work with governments and education planners to define new ICT deployment models, devise IT education standards and build replicable learning models.

IFFCO proposes new urea pricing policy

By Sushma Arora

NEW DELHI, Nov 21: Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), world leader in fertiliser production and marketing in cooperative sector, has called upon for formulation of a comprehensive policy covering all fertilisers and taking care of all shareholders' concerns. This has been done in this era when economic liberalization and reforms have emerged as two issues of Government's political philosophy and fertiliser sector has to fall in line with the rest of economy.

Under the present urea pricing policy, Government has assessed the capacity of existing domestic urea producing units as 200 lakh tones per annum (LTPA). This capacity is entitled to a concession from the Government, based on the Group Concession Scheme that has been effective since 2003. IFFCO suggests that the production price control may be restricted to the 200 LTPA currently covered by the concession scheme. Any production over and above the 200 LTPA, whether by way of de-bottlenecking or revamp or by way of new/expansion project or even production in excess of assessed capacity for reasons of increased stream days or any other reason, should be free of all controls.

The IFFCO Managing Director, Mr U S Awasthi, said that investors should be free to choose whether or not to invest in enhancing capacity of their existing units or whether or not to produce in excess of assessed capacity to benefit from the trends in the international market. He further said that there should be no controls on such decisions / investments and consequently, there should be no obligation on the Government to provide any subsidy to such production.

Investors should be free to either export the incremental production, or sell it to complex fertilizer manufacturers at negotiated prices. They should also be permitted to quote against international tenders floated from time to time either by the Government or nominated State Trading Enterprises. As indigenous supplies against import requirements would not get the handling charges of around Rs.1000-1500 that would have been provided by the Government in case of actual imports, Government could end up saving subsidy on its import requirements.

Mr Awasthi opined that in order to ensure the use of alternate energy source for the incremental capacity does not increase the subsidy burden of the Government, the subsidy on the existing capacity could be computed based on the cheapest source of energy available for production of up to 100 per cent of the existing capacity. Any investor would then invest in incremental capacity only if the cost benefit analysis favours investment based on the cost of production entirely based on the expensive energy source. Unlike the current policy, this would effectively pass on the demand risk, output price risk, input price risk and all other project risks on to the investor, thereby encouraging only efficient investments.

He further added that unlike the present policy for capacity additions and excess production, the suggestion above would move away from a cost plus approach, make for a more market-oriented system, lend much-needed transparency to the system, minimise administrative discretion, be more stable as it would obviate the need for a periodic review. Such a system would be equitable and would encourage efficiencies of operations as producers of new capacity would be exposed to international competition and would get a realisation equal to what they would have got had they competed in the open market.

If the ultimate aim is, as it should be, to free this industry from all sorts of controls, these measures would also serve the purpose of initiating the industry, the polity and the economy to the idea of decontrol, making the move to total decontrol and open competition, easier and more acceptable.

NHPC announces Rs 5 lakh reward

NEW DELHI, Nov 21: National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd. (NHPC) has announced reward of Rs 5 lakhs to the person giving information regarding whereabouts of its two senior officers missing since November 19, 2004. This is in addition to Rs 3 lakhs award declared by the State Government of Bihar.

The officers Mr T.Mandal, General Manager (Civil) and Mr K.K.Singh, Chief Engineer (Civil) were on the way to Betia from Muzaffarpur in Bihar where NHPC has been entrusted to construct about 6,000 km of rural roads under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna. The name of the person giving information/clue shall be kept secret. The information can be given on the telephone nos. 9431014464 (Patna) and 0129-2273634 (Faridabad).

India, Singapore trade to grow by 10 pc

CHENNAI, Nov 20: The two-way trade between India and Singapore, which stood at 7.9 billion Singapore dollars in 2003, was poised for a 10 per cent growth this year, Ramakrishna Kukkila, centre director of International Enterprise Singapore (IES), said on Friday. The bilateral trade is in favour of Singapore in the ratio of 2:1 and the trend continues in 2004 too, he told newsmen on the sidelines of a seminar on "Doing business with Singapore", here. IES assists Singapore-based companies to set up business in India.

In 2001, India was Singapore's 15th largest outward investment (OI) destination, absorbing only USD 1.3 billion or 0.6 per cent of OI. China was top, absorbing USD 18 billion. Kukkila said India offers great opportunity for Singapore firms in real-estate development, infrastructure, ports and in the setting up of special economic zones (SEZs).

Singapore firms were instrumental in setting up hi-tech parks in Bangalore and Andhra Pradesh. "Many firms are also involved in housing projects in Andhra Pradesh," he said. Koh Siew Mui, consul, Consulate of the Republic of Singapore, Chennai, inaugurated the seminar.

P S Grewal appointed Vice Chairman FAI; Grover is Chairman

NEW DELHI, Nov 10: Mr P.S. Grewal, Chairman and Managing Director of National Fertilizers Limited (NFL), has been appointed Vice Chairman of Fertilizer Association of Association (FAI) for the term 2004-06. Mr Grewal is currently also the Chairman, FAI (Northern Region). Mr H.C. Grover, Vice Chairman, PPL, has been appointed as Chairman of the FAI.

Mr Grewal took over as NFL CMD on February 1, 2001. NFL is a Mini Ratna Category "A" company and is a leading producers of nitrogenous fertilizers and has been continuously making profits. During his tenure, the Company has excelled on numerous fronts.

Mr Grewal started his professional career in Fertilizer Corporation of India, in January, 1968 and rendered professional expertise in the setting up Ammonia-Urea Plant at Nangal and he also headed Panipat Unit and occupied key posts at Bathinda and Nangal Units and Corporate Office of the Company. A Graduate in Mechanical Engg. from Guru Nanak Dev Engg. College, Ludhiana, he has served fertilizer industry in diverse capacities during his past career spanning over 35 years.

Vijaipur NFL unit begins producing Neem-coated urea

TTO News Service

NEW DELHI, Nov 9: To meet the growing demand, the Vijaipur Unit of National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) has started producing and marketing Neem-coated urea. The unit, which commenced producing neem-coated urea from October 30, has already dispatched 1,750 million tonnes of it in the market. Neem is a natural pesticide that helps in saving the crops from insects and pests. The Neem-coated urea is also having the advantage of anti-caking and meets specification of Fertilizer Control Order even after the coating.

NFL has played a pioneering role in the development and production of Neem-coated urea in its Panipat and Bathinda Plants, which has resulted in increased crop yield to the tune of 4 to 5 per cent. The Neem-coated Urea has become increasingly popular amongst the farmers for its advantages at the same selling cost.

Natural gas-based Vijaipur Unit of NFL, which has an installed capacity of 3,040 million tones of Ammonia and 5,240 million tonnes of urea per day is an ISO-9001:2000 and ISO-14001 accredited Unit. The Unit accords top priority to pollution control and ecological development. It has adopted pollution control measures to meet the prescribed standards.

To improve the environment, massive tree plantation is an on-going activity. What was once a barren land has now been transformed into a green forest with large number of birds and other animals taking refuge in it. Two comprehensive Impact Assessments and a Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Study by NEERI, Nagpur and CICON, Bhopal have been carried out till-date in NFL Vijaipur.

NHPC gets a pat from Dr Raguvansh Prasad on its 29th Foundation Day

FARIDABAD (HARYANA), Nov 7: National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd. (NHPC) got a pat from the Union Minister for Rural Development, Dr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, on its 29th foundation day here on Sunday. Inaugurating the celebrations, Dr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh announced that the Government would give more stress for developing the vast hydro power potential of the country.

The Minister said the NHPC has made commendable progress during its existence of 28 years. He said that the role of NHPC in the coming years would become more important as the Government is going to give more stress for developing the vast hydro power potential of the country. He praised the Management of NHPC and the employees posted in far flung areas of the country for taking NHPC to its present height of glory. He thanked NHPC for taking up the work of construction of Rural Roads in 6 Districts of Bihar and expressed confidence that NHPC will accomplish this task with full dedication and devotion.

The Minister visited the different stalls set-up in the fete by various projects situated in different parts of the country. He referred to NHPC as a mini India, as people from all States are working in NHPC and said that this is a best example of national integration.

Speaking on the occasion, the Power Secretary, Mr R.V.Shahi, said that the work done by NHPC during the last few years is commendable. He said that by completing the 300 MW Chamera Stage-II Project in Himachal Pradesh, NHPC has shown to the world that hydroelectric projects can be commissioned in a short span of less than five years.

Mr Shahi said that the year 2003-04 was very good for hydro sector as the share of hydro increased by 2590 MW . He also mentioned that during the period April to September, 2004, there was an increase in generation of electricity by 7.8 per cent when compared to the normal increase of 3 per ent to 4 per cent. He thanked the officers and employees of NHPC for the hard work being done by them and wished NHPC many more achievements in future.

In his address, the NHPC Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Yogendra Prasad, said that the motto of NHPC is to complete all the assigned works either on schedule or before schedule. He assured the Minister that whether it is constructing hydroelectric projects, or construction of roads which NHPC has taken up in six districts of Bihar, the work will be accomplished by NHPC with full dedication and devotion.

To mark the celebrations day long cultural programme by the employees and a grand fete were organized. An exhibition on NHPC was also organized on this occasion.

During the eventful 29 years, NHPC has made giant strides in the development of hydro power in the country. Today, NHPC is a premier
organisation in the country in the Central Sector for development of hydropower. The expertise available with NHPC for construction of small, medium and mega projects is unmatched in the country and the best available in the world.

The Corporation has been earning profits year after year. During the financial year 2003-04, NHPC has earned a net profit of Rs 621.38 crores which is 22 per cent more than the profit earned during the previous year.

During 2003-04, the Corporation has commissioned the 300 MW Chamera Stage-II Project in Himachal Pradesh ahead of schedule. Moreover, work on ongoing projects like Dul Hasti, Teesta Stage-V and Dhauliganga Projects are going on in full swing. Moreover, NHPC has taken up for development of more than 22000 MW hydro power in the Dibang, Siang and Subansiri River Basins of Arunachal Pradesh.

Recently, NHPC has signed an agreement with Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India to construct and maintain rural roads in six Districts of Bihar. MOU has also been signed with Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd. for electrification of rural areas in Bihar and West Bengal.

GE divests 60 % stake in Indian BPO arm for $500 m

NEW DELHI, Nov 8: General Electric on Monday announced it has sold 60 per cent stake in its BPO firm - GE Capital International Services (GECIS) - to two leading investment firms - General Atlantic Partners and Oak Hill Capital Partners - for $500 million. "The partnership is aimed at expanding the company's operations in its established markets as well as finding new markets globally,'' said GECIS CEO, Pramod Bhasin, here.

Informing that both General Atlantic Partners and Oak Hill Capital Partners had equally acquired stakes in GECIS, Mr. Bhasin said the deal, subject to regulatory approvals, was valued GE at $800 million and would be completed in the next six months. GE had retained 40 per cent share in GECIS as well as its 1,000 employees from the company's total workforce of 17,000.

"Under the new arrangement, GECIS as an independent company, will be well positioned to offer its quality business processing services to companies in the Americas, Europe and Asia. GE's decision to sell its stake in GECIS is aimed at broadening its global offerings by meeting the needs of other potential clients. Our aim is to expand our product offerings besides focusing on industry verticals to maintain 40-50 per cent year-on-year growth,'' Mr. Bhasin said.

Significantly, at present, GECIS' clients are largely GE subsidiaries. "Now the Gurgaon-based GECIS will focus on other non-GE clients to expand its operations. However, it will continue to serve GE under a multi-year contract,'' said the GECIS CEO, adding that the company would continue to expand its operations in China, Hungary and Mexico besides looking for other international markets like Romani and Tunisia. "We also plan to start our operations in smaller Indian cities like Kolkata and Jaipur.''

According to GE India President, Scott Bayman, for his company, India has always been an important part of its operations. GE would continue to capitalise on the intellectual talent available here and achieve growth in the industrial and financial services in a faster pace. As far as divesting its majority stake in GECIS was concerned, they wanted to focus on its core technology-driven businesses. "We are targeting at least 15 per cent growth in our revenues. At present, India contributes over $1 billion to GE's global business operations,'' he added.

GE said it was open to invest in Indian power projects despite the Dhabol Power Corporation imbroglio. "Dhabol was a big bump, but being a global company we cannot ignore India,'' Mr Bayman later told newsmen. He said GE would continue to explore opportunities to invest in the power sector.

Though he did not clarify whether GE had zeroed in on any project, he said the National Electricity Bill 2003 was a step in the right direction to attract private investment in the power sector.

Commenting on suggestions to rope in NTPC to revive Dhabol, he said, "The matter is sub-judice and I cannot comment on it. But we had earlier said that if the plant was in running condition, it would fetch a better price.''

Major reforms on anvil to hasten urban development: Ghulam Nabi Azad

NEW DELHI, Nov 1: The Urban Development Ministry is planning to bring the Centrally Sponsored Schemes of Infrastructure Development in Mega Cities and Integrated Development of Small and Medium Town (IDSMT) under one umbrella and extending its coverage to all the towns and cities of the country.

Announcing this here on Monday, the Union Minister for Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, the unified scheme would push forward the reforms agenda and the State Governments desirous of accessing funds under the scheme would have to enter in to a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Centre. The MoA will consist of a basket of reforms, some of which will have to be implemented by the ULBs.

Inaugurating the "Cityscapes 2004", jointly organized by Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation and FICCI, Mr Azad said "the MoA will consist of a basket of reforms, some of which will have to be implemented by the ULBs."

Elaborating the proposed merger of the two schemes, the Minister said that the scheme would help incentivise preparation of DPRs, capacity building, bringing in project efficiencies and adoption of innovative and proven technology. A similar scheme exclusively for water supply and sanitation also being under consideration, he said.

Mr Azad also said that to provide an additional incentive for Urban Local Bodies to become creditworthy and to invest in urban infrastructure, provision has been made for issue of tax-free municipal bonds up to Rs 300 crore in the financial year 2004-05. So far eight city governments have accessed capital market to raise funds for urban infrastructure financing by issue of Tax-free Municipal Bonds.

"Accessing the capital market by the cities has brought about a perceptible change in the mindset of policy makers as also the city managers," the Minister said. There now exists a consensus on the need for structuring commercially viable/ bankable projects that could become an instrument for developing a long-term debt market in India, he added.

Talking about improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the urban development system, the Minister said that the municipal governments and the urban infrastructure agencies are going for Management contract.

Speaking at the Convention, the Secretary, Minister of Urban Development, Mr Anil Baijal, said that the pattern and quantum of central government funding has been woefully inadequate. About Rs 1,200 crores released for five mega cities in the last 10 years and about Rs 650 crores released for water supply in 1000 towns. " We are currently engaged in the process of review and introspection- as regards the content as well as the entire approach to urban infrastructure improvement programme, Mr Baijal said.

Regarding the reforms that the States need to undertake, Mr Baijal said that basic issues which are inhibiting proper development like lack of Clear Titles of Land, Urban Land Ceiling Act, Rent Control Act and Devolution of Funds and Powers to ULBs needs to be amended.

Talking about the funding of the projects, Mr Baijal said that at the Ground level many programmes are operating in a fragmented manner- quite a few funded by bilateral/ multilateral donor agencies. For deriving optimal benefits from the pool of funds available, he said that all fiscal flows should be consistent with Government of India Policy framework and a co ordination policy needs to be put in place.

Earlier in the welcome address, Dr A C Muthiah, immediate past president, FICCI said "the biggest hurdle in promoting public private partnership is the absence of suitable provisions in the State Municipal Laws. Our Municipal laws lack provisions that permit private sector to provide municipal services."

KRIBHCO presents Rs 58.45 cr dividend cheque to PM

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, receiving KRIBHCO dividend cheque for Rs 58.45 crore. Seen in the picture are Mr Chandra Pal Singh, Chairman, KRIBHCO, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilisers and Steel, and Mr V.N. Rai, Managing Director, KRIBHCO.

NEW DELHI, Oct 30: KRIBHCO, a leading fertilizer producer in the cooperative sector, has paid a dividend of Rs 58.45 crore for the year 2003-04 to the Government.This is the highest dividend paid by any Cooperative Society to the exchequer. The cheque was presented to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh by Dr. Chandra Pal Singh, Chairman, KRIBHCO in the presence of the Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Steel, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, at a brief ceremony here. Present on the occasion, among others, were Mr SNPN Sinha, Secretary, Department of Fertilizers, Mr V.N. Rai, Managing Director, KRIBHCO and Mr B.D. Sinha, Finance Director of the Society.

Kribhco consists of 5,790 member cooperative soscieties at village and national level as on March 31, 2004. The Society since its inception in 1986-87 has been paying uninterupted dividend. The Society has so far paid Rs 881.14 crore dividend to its shareholders, out of which Rs 616.05 crores to Government of India. KRIBHCO has made a contribution to exchequer of Rs 3527.42 crore by way of taxes, duties and dividend upto March 31, 2004 which also is the highest in the cooperative sector in India. Soceity produced the cheapest urea in the country, took least subsidy from Government and achieved highest capacity utilization in industry in gas based plants establishing 38 new records in various fields.

Maruti October sales jump 28 %

NEW DELHI, Nov 1: India's biggest car maker, Maruti Udyog Ltd, has reported a 27.6 percent rise in October vehicle sales on Monday as rising incomes and cheap loans spurred buying in Asia's fourth-largest economy. Maruti, 54.2-percent-owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp, said in a statement it sold 49,399 vehicles in October, up from 38,715 units in the same month a year ago and compared with 43,949 in September, when sales rose 12.4 percent.

Domestic sales at the auto maker, which controls half the Indian car market, rose 31.3 percent to 43,949 units while exports were 3.8 percent higher at 5,458. Total vehicle sales in April-October, the first seven months of this business year, were up 20.6 percent to 302,871 vehicles from 251,183 units in the year-ago period.

The New Delhi-based firm reported a 30.3 percent rise in sales in the business year to March, helped by robust economic growth, three-decade-low interest rates and a product tax cut. Maruti, which mainly competes with the local unit of Hyundai Motor Co. and local firm Tata Motors Ltd, said domestic sales of its mini Maruti 800, India's top-selling car until a few months ago, fell 4.6 percent to 11,633 units. Sales of the Maruti 800 have been falling since April when the firm introduced a cut-price version of the competing Alto.

Total sales of its three compact cars - the Alto, Zen and Wagon R - jumped 57.6 percent to 23,334 units while the combined sales of its Omni and Versa vans rose 15.9 percent to 6,106. Sales of its Baleno and Esteem sedans jumped 144.3 percent to 2,577 units after the company introduced a new-look Esteem in July, while those of the Gypsy and Vitara multi-utility vehicles more than doubled to 291 units.

Maruti's shares were up 0.2 percent at 376.25 rupees in morning trade at the Bombay Stock Exchange, in line with a 0.2 percent rise in the exchange's benchmark index. Maruti shares have fallen more than 5 percent since September 13, when parent Suzuki announced plans to set up a new car assembling company in India rather than expand Maruti. Maruti will hold a 70 percent stake in the new company to be set up in early 2007.

India's car industry sales are forecast to rise by 8-10 percent annually this decade, spurred by rising incomes, an improving road network, inadequate public transport and a low ownership level of eight cars per 1,000 people. Maruti's total vehicle sales are expected to rise 15-19 percent in the business year to March 2005 from the previous year's 472,122 units. Exports are expected to remain flat compared with the previous year's 51,175 vehicles.

Maruti's shares trade at 12.4 times its forecast 2004/05 earnings, according to Reuters Research, a discount to truck market leader Tata Motors' forward PE of 13.2. In October, it announced a 48 percent jump in second quarter net profit to 1.84 billion rupees, helped by robust sales and sharp cost cutting.

54% increase in STC's turnover

NEW DELHI, Nov 1: The State Trading Corporation of India Ltd (STC) has registered a total turnover exceeding 5,000 crores during April- September this year, an increase of 54 percent over the corresponding period of last year. It has paid a final dividend of 5 per cent for the year 2003-04 to the Government of India. The dividend cheque was handed over by Dr. Arvind Pandalai, CMD of STC to the Minister for Commerce and Industry, Mr Kamal Nath, here on Monday.

It has also declared an interim dividend of 15 per cent this year, thus making a total contribution of Rs.5.46 crores to the Exchequer. The Corporation was able to achieve higher profits by negotiating better trading margins. The Corporation's domestic sales rose to the level of 150 crores during April- September this year and is confident of achieving another milestone in this year by recording a turnover of Rs. 10,000 crores.

Maruti H1 net profit up 45.1 per cent to Rs 3545.2 m

NEW DELHI, Oct 27: Maruti Udyog Limited registered total income of Rs 54062.5 million (Net of Excise) during the first half of the fiscal (April-September 2004), a growth of 23.3 per cent over the same period last year. Profit Before Tax went up to Rs 5425.8 million in the first half of
2004-05, a growth of 57 per cent over the same period last year. Net Profit stood at Rs 3545.2 million, up 45.1% over April-September 2003.

Quarter II total income (Net of Excise) was Rs 27897.9 million during July-September 2004 (Quarter II), a growth of 22.5% compared to the same period of the previous year. Net Profit stood at Rs 1836 million, up 48 per cent over July-September 2003. Quarter II (July-September 2004) was marked by higher raw material prices compared to the same period last year, and the impact of price repositioning of Esteem, WagonR and Zen models.

The company's performance has been powered by a 19.3 per cent growth in total unit sales during the first half of the year. Maruti sold 253,472 vehicles in the first half of this fiscal against 212,468 vehicles in the same period last year. This includes export of 23931 vehicles. The Company's market share in the domestic passenger car market went up to 55 per cent, from 54 per cent in the first half of last fiscal. Sales in the domestic
A 2 segment (Zen, WagonR, and Alto) grew by 77 per cent while those of A 3 segment (Esteem and Baleno) went up 73 per cent.

India aims at us $ 16 b export of gems, jewellery

JAIPUR, Oct 24: Targeting gem and jewellery export worth 16 billion US dollars within the next three years, the GJEPC has said the industry was recording an average growth of 25 to 30 per cent. "The Indian gem and jewellery industry has been growing leaps and bounds and we believe we will achieve our vision of touching exports of 16 billion US dollars by 2007," said Bakul Mehta, Chairman of the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).

The industry is recording an average growth of 25 to 30 per cent per annum with the country establishing itself as the world's largest manufacturing centre of cut and polished diamonds exports of which it had already reached 8.6 billion dollars, he said at the Council's 31st annual award function here. India, he said, was contributing 60 per cent of the world's supply in terms of value, 85 per cent in terms of caratage and 92 per cent in terms of pieces.

Eleven out of 12 stones set in jewellery world-wide go from India, making the country a preferred source of gem and jewellery, Mehta said. He, however, warned against any contentment as China and Thailand were posing challenge to India's supremacy in the trade. Stressing the need for effective implementation of supportive state policies, he said "we have a fine policy framework on paper but it must be implemented on the ground level fully and effectively so that India could achieve its full potential."

Coal India profit doubles

NEW DELHI, Oct 21. Having doubled its profit in the first half of the current fiscal, Coal India Limited (CIL) has paid a dividend of Rs. 181.32 crores to the Government for 2003-04. The dividend cheque was today presented to the Minister of State for Coal and Mines, Dasari Narayana Rao, by the Chairman-cum-Managing Director of CIL, Shashi Kumar. Pradeep Kumar, Additional Secretary (Coal), and other senior officials of CIL and the Ministry were present on the occasion.

The company has reported a profit before tax of Rs. 4,889 crores, the highest ever, marking an increase of about 70 per cent over the previous year.
The company has declared a dividend of 1.6 per cent on an equity base of Rs. 6,316 crores. It has reported a profit of Rs. 2,347.22 crores for the first half against Rs. 1,151.53 crores

Indian Hotels' expansion plans

MUMBAI, Oct 21: Indian Hotels Company Ltd. (IHCL) is looking to double its size from 8,000 plus rooms over the next five years. The company is in the process of expanding and renovating its rooms in several of its properties. This year, the company will add 534 keys (rooms/suites) and renovate 353 keys. Last year, the company incurred a capital expenditure of around Rs 120 crores on this exercise and in the current year, the capex will exceed Rs 100 crores.

Speaking to newsmen, Raymond Bickson, Managing Director, said, "the goal is to expand beyond India through management contracts. We have three focus areas of China, London and New York, which will act as gateway cities. We would be equity partners in these areas. However, it is best that we own assets in some areas and in others enter into management contracts and take sliver equity".

The company reported improved performance in the second quarter of the current year. The net profit was Rs. 22.31 crores against Rs. 3.50 crores in the same period of the previous year. Total income was Rs. 182 crores (Rs. 143.30 crores). For the half year ended September 2004, the net profit was up at Rs. 28.71 crores (Rs. 7.24 crores) on a total income of Rs. 350.80 crores (Rs. 277.20 crores).The company provided Rs 16.9 crore (Rs 12.5 crore) for interest, Rs 25.3 crore (Rs 22.9 crore) for depreciation and Rs 8.5 crore (Rs 3.3 crore) for tax.

The company's Budget hotels under the brand IndiOne have received a good response in Bangalore. "We will have ten hotels under IndiOne by this time next year. We are looking at secondary and tertiary areas such as Gurgaon and Navi Mumbai," said Mr. Bickson.

IHCL has a marketing alliance with Raffles International and is exploring similar tie-ups for Cruise Lines and Luxury Cruise lines. The company also launched its joint venture with CC Africa for safaris during the year.

BHEL wins Rs. 1,774 crore contract

NEW DELHI: Despite stiff competition from leading multinational equipment suppliers in international competitive bidding, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has won its first major contract from an independent power producer (IPP) for a 1,000 MW thermal power project in Chhattisgarh. Valued at Rs. 1,774 crores, the contract for the 4x250 MW Raigarh thermal power station, has been placed on BHEL by Jindal Power. - Our Special Correspondent

Maruti tops J D Power chart

NEW DELHI: Maruti Udyog has topped the list of J D Power ranking for the fifth year in a row in terms of customer satisfaction. J D Power Asia-Pacific Country Manager Mohit Arora said "Maruti Udyog continues to lead the industry on all factors that contribute to overall customer satisfaction." J D Power, a market research firm, conducts customer satisfaction research and provides consulting services in the automotive, information technology and finance industries.

Maruti, India's biggest car-maker, has scored 813 points on an industry average of 758 points. C K Birla group company Hindustan Motors has been ranked second followed by the Opel brand of General Motors India, Hyundai Motor India, Ford Motor and Toyota Kirloskar.

"Additionally, with a significant lead in Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) performance, Maruti is the only brand to rank above the industry average," he said in a statement. The study finds that due to the recent sharp increase in fuel prices, the average cost of operation per kilometre for both diesel and petrol models has gone up by nearly 25 per cent over the last year. Fuel cost accounts for over 85 per cent of the average cost of vehicle operation, which includes the usage-dependent components of fuel, repair, maintenance and tyres.

The study, now in its eighth year, measures the satisfaction of 3,550 new vehicle buyers with the dealership service experience at 12-18 months of ownership. Owners representing 11 makes and 27 models were covered in the study, which was fielded from June-August 2004. Overall, diesel models registered lower operating costs per kilometre than petrol models.

Diesel models performing particularly well in operating costs included Tata Motors' compact car Indica and Indigo Sedan while Maruti's entry-level car M800 and premium small car Alto "performed very well' among petrol vehicles, Arora said. "Nearly two out of three (62 per cent) Maruti customers indicate they definitely will purchase another vehicle of the same make - the highest repurchase intent in the industry," he said.

Himachal has surplus hydel potential

SHIMLA, Oct 17: Himachal Pradesh is fast becoming as the `Hydel Power State' of the country. The State has more than 20,000 MW of hydel potential, which is about 25 per cent of the total available potential of the country. Since the demand for power was growing at a much faster pace than the availability of power, the Government had assigned utmost priority to the power sector, according to an official spokesman.

The Government has made a perspective plan to harness 2773 MW under 10th Plan and 7755 MW under 11th Plan. As such by the end of 2012, at least 10, 528 MW potential was proposed to be added by execution of various hydel projects in the State, he said.

He claimed that the Government was adopting a prudent policy under which projects would be developed in the State sector and private sector besides joint venture between the State of Himachal with Central Power Sector undertakings and with other State Governments. Nathpa-Jhakri (1500 MW) and Chamera-II (300 MW) have been commissioned in the recent past. At present seven hydroelectric projects with aggregate generation capacity of 322.5 MW are under execution under State sector by State Electricity Board.

In order to give an extra boost to the transmission and distribution side, a large number of schemes had been prepared to strengthen the present transmission system under Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme. Under rural electrification, 173 hamlets would also be electrified in a phased manner, he added.

IFFCO to expand production capacity at four plants

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Oct 4: IFFCO has unveiled capacity expansion plans of its four plants at Phulpur and Aonla in the next two years along with converting the Phulpur units to LNG from Naptha, entailing a cost of Rs 480 crores. While the expansion of the four units -- Phulpur I and II and Aonla I and II -- would yield an additional 5.11 lakh tonnes urea annually, the conversion to LNG would save Rs 365 crores in subsidy to the Government every year, according to Mr U S Awasthi, Managing Director of the Indian Farmers Fertlizer Cooperative Ltd.

Mr Awasthi said the expansion-conversion project has been approved by the IFFCO Board. The capacity of Phulpur I will be increased to 2080 MTPD from the present 1670 MTPD and that of Phulpur II, Aonla-I and II will be raised to 3000 MTP each from the existing 2620 MTPD.

He said the capacity expansion plan will raise the urea production capacity to 42 lakh tonnes from the present 36.89 lakh tonnes.

The Project will also include the conversion of Phulpur plants from Naphtha to LNG. This will reduce the production cost of Urea and shall be in pursuant to the Government policy for switching over to Natural Gas (NG) / Liquefied Natural gas (LNG).

In order to reduce the cost further, recovery of carbondioxide from flue gases going to atmosphere in Aonla I & II units is also to be carried out to meet the carbondioxide requirement for converting total ammonia to urea.

Mr Awasthi said the new pricing scheme for fertiliser by the Government has considerably affected the survival of fertiliser industry. To reduce the cost of production, he said IFFCO has already launched Energy Saving Schemes in all five Ammonia-Urea plants at Kalol, Phulpur I and II and Aonla I and II, which are under implementation at various stages.

He noted that such measures would make home-produced urea cheaper than the imported one.

IFFCO's stake in new venture

NEW DELHI, Oct 12: Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) alongwith National Commodity and Derivative Exchange Limited (NCDEX), a few nationalised banks and Audit Control & Expertise, Geneva, has decided to promote collateral management company named National Collateral Management Services Limited (NCMSL). IFFCO would acquire 13 per cent equity in the proposed venture with an investment of Rs. 4 crore.

The new company, first of its kind in India, was incorporated on 28th September, 2004. It shall act as a service provider to facilitate linkages between the commodity exchange, banks and farmers. The company will essentially be responsible for accreditation of warehouses, certification of quality of goods stored in warehouses, controlling of commodity inflow and outflow during physical settlement of trade and dematerialised accounting of collateral.

These investments are part of IFFCO's continuous efforts to bring overall development in the living standards of the farming community and are aimed at taking the benefits of commodity futures trading to the grassroots, introducing transparency and reliability in trading systems, facilitating improved short term commodity based financing for farmers, equipping the Indian farmers with more information by introducing an efficient price discovery and price dissemination mechanism and providing an effective hedging tool to the farmers to help them minimise their risks.

National Collateral Management Services is also expected to remove the anomalies relating to factors such as quality, quantity, storage and safety currently prevalent in the warehousing and logistics industry.

IRFC pays Rs 110 cr dividend

TTO News Service

NEW DELHI, Oct 5: The Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC), a dedicated financing arm of the Indian Railways, has declared a dividend of Rs. 110 crores for the financial year 2003-2004. A cheque to this effect was presented by the Managing Director Mr S. Balachandran to the Union Minister of Railways, Mr Lalu Prasad, here on Tuesday. The Chairman, IRFC and Financial Commissioner, Indian Railways, Mrs Vijayalakshmi Viswanathan and Chairman Railway Board Mr R.K. Singh were present, among other senior officials, on the occasion.

This is the highest dividend paid by a railway public sector undertaking so far. With this, the cumulative return on an investment of Rs. 232 crores by the Indian Railways in IRFC works out to Rs. 742.5 crores.

IRFC posted a Profit After Tax of Rs. 378.85 crore for the financial year 2003-2004. The Company invests its borrowings mainly in the acquisition of moving infrastructure assets like locomotives, coaches and wagons. During 2003-2004, assets valued at Rs. 2706.46 crore were commissioned by the railways.

The Company has been rated "Excellent" for the seventh year in succession and for 2002-2003, it has received an award from the Prime Minister on September 4, 2004 for being one among the top ten PSUs in the country. It has 'AAA' ratings from CRISIL & ICRA and Sovereign Ratings from Moodys' & S&P's. The company is efficiently managed with a small overhead to turn over ratio of 0.113 per cent.

IRCON pays Rs 18.75 cr dividend

TTO News Service

NEW DELHI, Oct 5: The IRCON International Ltd., a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Railways, has posted a 380 per cent Annual dividend amounting to Rs. 18.75 crores for the financial year 2003-2004. A Cheque to this effect was presented by the Managing Director of the Company, Mr B.S. Kapur to the Union Minister of Railways, Mr Lalu Prasad, in the presence of Chairman, Railway Board and Chairman/IRCON, Mr R.K. Singh, Financial Commissioner (Railways), Mrs Vijayalakshmi Viswanathan and other senior officials of the Railway Board at a function here today.

IRCON has so far paid a cumulating dividend of Rs. 114.95 crores to the Ministry of Railways against the paid-up share capital of Rs. 4.95 crores.

IRCON is executing prestigious projects in India, like J&K projects for the Ministry of Railways, and road projects for the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and State Governments. Recently, IRON has secured road projects in Ethiopia and Indonesia for the first time and expects to secure at least two rail projects abroad. This apart, IRCON is working in countries like Malaysia, Bangladesh, Iran, Sharjah, Mozambique and UK.

Shram awards for BHEL staff

TTO News Service

NEW DELHI, Oct 4 : EMPLOYEES of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), have yet again won the Prime Minister's "Shram Awards", the country's highest honour bestowed on individuals for outstanding achievements, leading to higher productivity, improved quality, greater safety and foreign exchange savings.

This is the eighteenth year, since inception, that BHEL employees have won these prestigious awards, instituted by the Ministry of Labour, Government of India, for workmen of Public Sector Enterprises.

The awards were presented by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, at a function here on Monday.

Significantly, BHEL employees have bagged the coveted PM's 'Shram Bhushan' Award, carrying a cash prize of Rupees One Lakh and a Sanad, for the year 2002 as well as 2003. While Mr. R.C. Malhotra, Chief Technician at the company's Haridwar plant has been awarded the 'Shram Bhushan' for 2002, a team of 3 employees from BHEL's Electroporcelains Division (EPD), Bangalore has jointly won the award for the year 2003. The team comprises Mr. C. Hanumanthaiah, Mr. S. Titesh and Mr. N. Rajashekhar.

Besides, the PM's 'Shram Vir' Award, carrying a cash prize of Rupees Sixty Thousand and a Sanad is being awarded to Mr. S. Rajendran, from BHEL's Electronics Division (EDN) for 2002 and Mr. Bhimappa P. Dashyal from EPD, Bangalore for the year 2003.

In addition, two 'Shram Shri' awards have been awarded to Mr. T. Rajendran and Mr. S. Sandhanam, both from BHEL's Trichy plant, for the year 2002, while one has gone to Mr. Mangilal from BHEL Haridwar, for 2003.

Notably, Mr. R.C. Malhotra, the 'Shram Bhushan' awardee, has contributed towards enhancing productivity by developing several fixtures for machining operations in the manufacture of rotors and stators. His innovations have resulted in savings of Rs.600 Lakh for the company, including precious foreign exchange saving of Rs.100 Lakh for the country.

Similarly, the 'Shram Bhushan' winning team from BHEL's Bangalore plant has contributed significantly to the development and improvement of several processes and equipment. In addition to the in-house development of burner blocks as an import substitute, their efforts towards improving productivity and efficiency of various processes through innovative ideas, has resulted in cumulative savings of Rs.350 Lakh to the company.

KRIBHCO honours two Cooperators at AGM

NEW DELHI, Sept 30: Krishak Bharati Cooperative Limited (KRIBHCO), a premier fertiliser producing farmers cooperative, has honoured two eminent cooperators at its 24th annual general body meeting for their pioneering works in promoting the cooperative movement as a catalyst for national development.

For the year 2002-2003, KRIBHCO conferred "Sahakarita Shiromani" award on Mr Shivpal Singh Yadav from UP and "Sahakarita Vibhushan" award on Mr Maganlal Dhanjibhai Vadavia from Gujarat. While Mr Shivpal Singh Yadav, with his variegated experience loyalty and sincerity, has immensely served the cooperative movement in the country, Mr Maganlal Dhanjibhai Vadavia has transformed the lives of thousands of people in Gujarat through his dedicated work towards national and international cooperative education, planning and rural development.

The annual general meeting that was presided over by the Chairman, Mr Chandra Pal Singh, and attened by over 900 delegates, passed the annual accounts of the Society. It was announced that the Kribhco has had made a pre-tax profit of Rs. 219.51 crore during the financial year 2003-04.

The Society's plant at Surat produced 17.73 lakh MT of Urea and 11.17 lakh MT of Ammonia, operating at 103 per cent and 111 per cent capacity utilisation respectively. In the history of KRIBHCO, this year ammonia, urea and bio-fertiliser production and sales are the highest.

The Kribhco Managing Director, Mr V.N. Rai, informed the AGM that the society had established 38 records during the year in the fields of production, technology andmarketing of urea, ammonia, seeds and bio-fertilisers.

NFL declared Rs 25.51 cr dividend

NEW DELHI, Sept 30: National Fertilizers Limited (NFL), a leading producers of nitrogenous fertilizers with a market share of 16.9 per cent in domestic production, has declared dividend of Rs. 25.51 crores for the financial year 2003-2004. The Government of India holds 97.64 per cent shares and major portion of this dividend will go to the Government.

All NFL Units recorded 100 per cent capacity utilization during 2003-04 with aggregate Urea production of 32.50 lakh tonnes - the everbest production for any year so far. NFL has consistently been a profit making Company. The Company, for the year 2003-04, declared a net profit (before tax) of Rs. 121.96 crores after recording a sales turnover of Rs.3387.62 crores by marketing 34.58 lakh MT of fertilizers, the highest tonnage sold for any year so far. The above includes sales turnover of Rs. 105.08 crores on account of Industrial Products produced and sold during the year.

While highlighting achievements of the Company at the 30the Annual General Meeting held on September 29, the NFL Chairman and Managing Director, Mr P.S. Grewal, informed that during first Six months of current fiscal, the overall capacity utilization for Urea production of NFL is 107 per cent. The Company has Five Urea Plants located in the States of Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh with a total installed capacity of 32.31 lakh MT of Urea.

The Nangal Unit located in Punjab also produces Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN), which is the oldest plant of NFL. The Company also produces and markets several Industrial Products, for which, the demand on year-to-year basis is on an increase.

Mr Grewal informed that the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on September 4 awarded National Fertilizers Limited the "MERIT CERTIFICATE for Excellence in the Achievement of MoU Target" for the year 2002-03. The Company also expects "Excellent" rating from the Government for the year 2003-04.

NFL has undertaken several productivity measures towards cost reduction and energy improvements to effectively handle the situation emerging ahead.

He also highlighted the thrust given by the Company on the production and marketing of Neem-Coated Urea. The Company has decided to produce Neem-Coated Urea at all its Plants to match its growing demand in the market. Presently, Neem-Coated Urea is being produced at Panipat & Bathinda Plants of NFL. NFL is the First Company in Fertilizer Industry in the country to have its total business covered under ISO-9001: 2000 Certification.

Samsung targets flat TV, fridge segments for growth

OCTOBER 6: Samsung India Electronics Limited, subsidiary of Korean electronics major Samsung, has identified flat TV and frost-free refrigerators as the major growth of the company in coming years. The flat TV segment was witnessing the highest growth followed by plasma displays and LCDs, Samsung India director R Zutshi told newsmen.

Zutshi said the frost-free refrigerator segment was also growing at a substantial rate in the country. Commenting upon the revenue performance of the company, he said in the last financial year, Samsung clocked a turnover of Rs 3700 crore. He said the company was targeting a turnover of Rs 5273 crore in the current financial year. Contribution of flat TVs was going up significantly as compared to traditional curved ones, Zutshi said.

Asked about investment plans, he said Samsung would invest around Rs 23 crore in the home appliances division for manufacture of air-conditioners and heat exchangers. Samsung had identified India as the head quarters for South West Asia.

HSBC plans to invest $400 mn in India

OCTOBER 6: Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) is looking at investing over $400 million in India with organic growth driving expansion. The foreign bank plans to open five-10 new branches and launch consumer finance business next year as part of business plans.
India and China are strategically important markets over medium and long term and both are critical for future growth of the bank, according to Micheal Smith, HSBC chief executive officer (Asia Pacific).

HSBC's cumulative investments in China is about $3 billion and it would be comfortable for cumulative capital exposure of $1 billion or more in India, Smith said. There is no specific time frame for investments in India, he added.

HSBCs India chief executive Niall Booker said the bank has invested about $600 million in the country which includes financial investment in UTI Bank.
Smith said: "the bank wants to grow fast through organic route" and legal environment for acquisitions would not impact business plans."

Though, HSBC would look at acquisitions, subject to regulations, it would prefer organic route for growth despite longer payback period than pay a premium for acquisition.

Asked about the investment in UTI Bank, he said it was a financial investment and would be happy to broaden business relationship. "We have plans to open five-10 branches in 2005 and will prepare plans and seek Reserve Bank of India's permission for the same," Booker said.

On launching consumer finance business (CFB), he said the bank has skill sets within organisation for CFB which is a business line in itself. CFB is also a marketing tool to get customers at the beginning of value chain, he added. HSBC could start CFB through non-banking finance company or some other arrangement, he said adding the bank would look at regulatory trade-off before finalising structure for it.

Commenting on setting up a research unit for investment banking segment, Booker said it is yet to crystalise into business plan and one official is stationed in Bangalore to do the groundwork. Smith said the bank is looking at opening service centres to meet banking group needs and also look for business outside group. The quality of staff and language are critical issues before us while preparing plans for this centre, Smith added.

LG Electronics sees $10 b India sales by 2010

OCTOBER 6: South Korea's LG Electronics Inc said on Wednesday it aimed to boost investment in India and raise sales there almost 10-fold to $10 billion by 2010, helped by brisk sales of home appliances and mobile phones. LG, the world's top maker of air conditioners, said in a statement it would boost investment in its second-largest overseas market to $150 million by 2007 to expand facilities and build research and development efforts.
It projected $1.3 billion sales from India this year, up from $900 million in 2003.

"Through bold investments and securing top-class technological prowess, LG Electronics is committed to making India its second-largest global production base after China," its chief executive SS Kim said in the statement. "We will achieve $10 billion in sales in India by 2010 to leap toward the global top-three position."

With the new investment, the world's sixth-largest mobile phone maker is looking to double its R&D staff in India to 1,500 by 2007 to develop premium products. It hopes to export 30 per cent of its made-in-India products to Asia, West Asia and African markets by the same year.

Currently, LG Electronics manufactures TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, electronic ovens and computers in India. It plans to add a handset production line to its second new plant in the country, which is currently under construction, to give annual production capacity of two million mobile phones.

To meet booming demand for its mobile phones, LG Electronics, a unit of South Korea's second-largest conglomerate, planned to expand handset capacity to an annual 10 million units in India by 2010, it said.

Suzuki diesel engine plant in Haryana to be export hub

TTO News Service

NEW DELHI, Sept 14: Maruti Udyog Ltd's directors have approved a proposal that the forthcoming diesel engine manufacturing plant ton be set up in Haryana will be controlled and managed by Suzuki Metal India Limited, a joint venture between Maruti Udyog Limited and Suzuki Motor Corporation of Japan. Suzuki Metal India Limited currently operates a Foundry Plant located in Manesar, Haryana and manufactures engine components like Aluminum castings, cylinder blocks, transmission cases and cylinder heads.

It is proposed to rename Suzuki Metal India Limited as Suzuki Engineering India Limited to reflect the increased scope of its business.
Earlier, the diesel engine manufacturing plant was expected to meet the requirements only of Maruti Udyog Limited. It has now been decided that in addition to meeting the requirements of Maruti Udyog Limited, diesel engines manufactured here will also be exported to Suzuki subsidiaries/joint venture companies in Asia including in Indonesia, China and Japan.

The diesel engine manufacturing plant will be located in Manesar, Haryana, but away from the Foundry Plant of Suzuki Metal India Limited.
It may be mentioned that Suzuki Motor Corporation, the parent company of Maruti Udyog Limited, recently entered into a Product License Agreement with Fiat Auto and Adam Opel, Europe, to obtain Technology for the manufacture of a 1.3 litre, state-of-the-art diesel engine based on Common Rail Injection System.

Following the Agreement, a new facility to manufacture diesel engines for cars is being set up. The new facility will have capacity to manufacture 100,000 diesel engines annually. It will begin production in 2006. Suzuki owns 54.2 percent of Maruti, India's largest car maker.

However, an agency report stated that Suzuki Motor Corp said on Tuesday that no decision had been made yet on the participation of Maruti Udyog Ltd in a diesel engine plant to be constructed in India in two years. A day earlier, Suzuki Chief Executive Osamu Suzuki said the Japanese small car and mini-vehicle maker would take the lead in the diesel engine project, and said Maruti's role had been misunderstood. A Suzuki spokesman said the new 100,000 units a year engine plant could be a joint venture with Maruti or wholly owned by Suzuki, and that no decision had been reached. He added that a separate company would be formed to foster competition between it and Maruti's existing petrol engine plant.

Hyundai launches Getz in India

NEW DELHI, Sept 10: Korean auto giant Hyundai Motors has rolled out its international favourite 'Getz', a new variant in between 'Santro' and 'Accent' segment, in India and said it expects to sell 8,000 units of the new car by this fiscal-end.

Positioned as premium hatchback, the 1300cc petrol-driven Getz has two trim-levels -- GL and GLS -- priced at Rs 4.50 lakh and 4.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), respectively.

The euro-styled Getz is an upgrade option for existing B-segment (Santro, WagonR and Zen) owners and pitched against the Ikon, Esteem and Corsa.

''We aim to sell 8,000 Getz by the end of the current fiscal and our total vehicle sales are likely to be around 2.20 lakh units, despite a three-month production loss'' Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) Managing Director B H Sung told newspersons after unveiling the much-admired European lifestyle brand here.

Pointing out that the demand for Getz is around 2,000 units per month, Mr Sung said the company expects to deliver only 1,000 units in the first two months as the capacity expansion work is still going and expected to be over by December.

The Getz has been adjudged 'Europe's Car of 2002' and 'Australia's Best Small Car in 2003'.

''Currently, we have no concrete plan to look India as base for exporting Getz. In future, it may be a possibility,'' HMIL President B V R Subbu said, adding that the present 65 per cent local contents in the new vehicle will be raised up to 80 per cent in the next 12 months.

Available in nine colours, the Getz GL-GLS version is priced at Rs 4.71 lakh-4.98 lakh in Mumbai, Rs 4.57 lakh-4.82 lakh in Bangalore, Rs 4.57 lakh-4.82 lakh in Kolkata and Rs 4.54 lakh-Rs 4.79 lakh in Chennai, respectively.

Mr Subbu said Hyundai has invested an additional 220 million dollars to expand capacity of its Chennai facility to be around 2,50,000 cars-a-year by 2004-05 against 2,00,000 cars last fiscal.

The Rs 6,000-crore HMIL expects a 20-22 per cent topline growth in the business year to March 31, 2005.

Riding on the growing acceptance among global buyers for made-in-India compact cars, Hyundai Motor India has driven home export earnings to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore in the first 8 months of 2004.

With its small car Santro Xing now being sourced by global majors like DaimlerChrysler, the company has projected to earn Rs 1,700 crore in exports this fiscal, a 55 per cent jump year-on-year.

Hudco conferred Miniratna

TTO News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 31: The Government has conferred Miniratna Status for category - I Public Sector Enterprise to Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd. (HUDCO), a public sector undertaking under the administrative control of Ministry of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation.

Housing & Urban Development Corporation Ltd. (HUDCO) was incorporated in 1970 as a fully owned Government Company under the Companies Act, 1956 with the main objectives of financing Housing and Urban development projects in the country, to finance Building Material Industries and setting up of new township.

In order to achieve these objectives HUDCO finances a variety of housing and urban development projects formulated by the State Housing Boards, Development Authorities, Improvement Trusts, AND Co-operative Housing Societies.

Over the years HUDCO has emerged as the leading public financial institution with the major objective of financing and encouraging housing and urban development activity in the country and has developed sound capabilities of project preparation, appraisal, financial planning and monitoring.

During 2003-04, as on March 31, 2004, HUDCO sanctioned loans of Rs. 13413 crore for various housing and urban infrastructure schemes against the target of Rs. 10000 crore. The actual loan released by HUDCO during the same period was Rs. 6147 crore against the target of Rs. 6000 crore. The assistance has been instrumental in supporting construction of about 9.70 lakh dwelling units, over 15.31 lakh sanitation units and 143 urban infrastructure projects.

HUDCO sanctioned housing loans of Rs. 3102 crore against the target of Rs. 3000 crore, which facilitated 9.70 lakh dwelling units, including 4500 units under HUDCO Niwas. Out of these. 959373 dwelling units are meant for EWS/LIG categories. During the year 2003-04, an amount of Rs. 128 crore was sanctioned for 4500 applicants and Rs. 163 crores was released for 6075 applicants under HUDCO Niwas, the retail housing finance scheme meant for individual borrowers.

Cumulatively (upto 31.03.2004), HUDCO has sanctioned a total loan amount of Rs. 22999 crores (excluding HUDCO Niwas) for construction of over 139.14 lakh dwelling units, out of which 132.16 lacs dwelling (95%) have been sanctioned loans of Rs. 4092 crores for 424733 units for HUDCO Niwas.

During the year 2003-04, a total of 143 UI projects were sanctioned with a total project cost of Rs. 32,042.09 crores and HUDCO loan component of Rs. 10,311 crores (as against the target of Rs. 7000 crores).

Further, for supporting the infrastructure projects, an amount of Rs. 4848 crores was released against the target of Rs. 4200 crores. The projects sanctioned include 37 water supply schemes, 10 sewerage/drainage/solid waste management schemes, 3 commercial schemes, 1 area development scheme, 24 transport/roads/railways schemes, 44 social infrastructure schemes, 17 power projects, 3 projects under the scheme of Integrated Development of Small & Medium Towns (IDSMT) and 2 information/ communication projects.

ITGI, Toyota launch cashless auto repair insurance

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Aug 13: Iffco-Tokio General Insurance (ITGI) and Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) have come together to provide cashless insurance service for Toyota customers.

Henceforth, all Toyota customers would be able to insure and undertake cashless repairs of insured vehicles and parts at all the 3S Toyota Dealerships. Through this tie-up, Toyota will be able to offer its customers relief from problems related to post-accident repairs and recovery of insurance claims by providing complete support from the Toyota dealer network.

A MOU was signed here recently to commence the new relationship. Mr. Ajit Narain, Managing Director, ITGI, and Mr. A Toyoshima, TKM Managing Director signed the MOU. Mr. Jun Hemmi, Director Operations, ITGI and Mr. K.K Swamy, Deputy Managing Director, TKM were also present. First policy under the tie-up was issued at the venue of the function and handed over to customer.

This association with Toyota enables ITGI to reach customers and addressing their needs. This alliance is in tandem with the Toyota value of 'customer first'. Tokio-Marine and Fire Insurance Co Japan who are JV partners in ITGI have an immensely successful relationship with Toyota internationally.

Therefore by tying up in India now, not only a globally successful relationship is introduced to the country, but also the Indian automobile customers receive a service combination that has been tried and tested internationally. The customer gets the additional many benefits under this tie-up. It will be a one stop-shop - very convenient and hassle free for customer for all his needs. It will also offer customers' instant issue of new policies and their renewal at dealer location. It will enable customers to complete all insurance related transactions at the show room itself.

Customer gets cashless facility. Under this arrangement customer will be able to carryout repairs at the 3S dealerships without having to bother about survey and assessment formalities including paying for repairs and claiming reimbursement thereafter from Insurance company. The 3S dealerships will arrange for survey of vehicle and assist in completing the other formalities at dealer centre itself.

This will save customers from this time consuming procedures involved before claiming for insurance. The customer need not remit repair charges, as the dealer from the insurance company will directly claim the assessed amount payable under the policy. Overall the process promises to be a hassle free and convenient service for Toyota customers.

ITGI's wholly owned retail distribution arm, IFFCO- Tokio Insurance Services Ltd.(ITIS) with its presence in 68 centres spread across the country and rapidly expanding, would take care of servicing Customers through a dedicated person at Toyota's Dealer point.

In addition to the benefits for the customer, the insurance promises to be a win-win partnership for both the dealers and the insurance partner. This service will strengthen relationship between the customer and the dealer as well as between the customer and the insurance company. In turn, the convenience of cash-less transaction for post accident repairs provided by Toyota motivates customers to come in for repairs at Toyota dealerships, thereby protecting them from spurious parts.

India emerges third largest fertilizer producers in the world

By Sushma Arora

NEW DELHI: India has become the third largest fertilizer producer in the world with the installed capacity reaching a level of 119.98 lakh MT of Nitrogen and 54.20 lakh MT of Phosphatic nutrient on March 31 this year.

Over the years increase in the fertilizer production capacity in the country has been rapid. As of now the country has achieved near self-sufficiency in production capacity of Urea and DAP, with the result that India could manage its requirement of these fertilizers from indigenous industry.

The rapid build up of fertilizer production capacity in the country has been achieved as a result of a favourable policy environment facilitating large investments in the public, co-operative and private sectors. This is indicated in the annual report of the Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

The domestic fertilizer industry has attained the level of capacity utilization that compares favourably with others in the world. The capacity utilization during 2002-03 and 2003-04 was 87.2 per cent and 88.6 per cent for Nitrogen and 72.8 per cent and 67 per cent for Phosphate respectively. The capacity utilisation of the fertilizer industry is expected to improve through revamping, modernization of the existing plants and closure of unviable capacity of sick fertilizer units.

According to the report, the Department of fertilizers is in the process of formulating a long-term fertilizer policy that will aim at phased deregulation of the fertilizer sector. A committee was constituted under the chairmanship of Secretary, Fertilizers, with representatives from the fertilizer industry, media and others to examine responses to the draft policy.

The availability of urea, which is the only fertilizer under price and partial movement control of Government, remained satisfactory throughout the Kharif 2003 season and Rabi 2003-04. DAP and MOP, the major decontrolled and decanalised fertilizers are freely imported. In Kharif 2003, 4.65 lakh MTs of DAP and 10.81 lakh MTs of MOP was imported.

Regarding joint ventures abroad, the report points out that due to constraints in the availability of gas, which is the preferred feedstock for production of nitrogenous fertilizers and the near total dependence on imported raw materials for production of phosphatic fertilizers, the Government has been encouraging Indian companies to establish joint venture production facilities, with buy back arrangement, in other countries, which have rich reserves of natural gas and rock phosphate.

Fertiliser doyen Paul Pothen passes away

By Sushma Arora

NEW DELHI, Aug 3: Padamshri Paul Pothen, doyen of Indian fertiliser industry and founding Managing Director of IFFCO, passed away on Tuesday at Kochi in Kerala after a protracted illness. He was 88 and is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. Mr Pothen, a legend and a visionary of his time, had been instrumental in tending and nurturing IFFCO in its formative years. He worked for FAO, UNIDO and World Bank as Consultant. He was conferred Padamshri in 1977.

Board of Directors in its meeting held on July 30, 2004 under the chairmanship of Mr Surinder Kumar Jakhar had already taken a decision to rename the IFFCO township in Aonla near Bareilly as Paul Pothen Nagar and install his statue in the township to commemorate his valuable services not only to IFFCO but also to cooperative movement as a whole.

The IFFCO Managing Director, Mr U.S. Awasthi, personally reached Kochi to convey his heartfelt condolences on behalf of IFFCO to the members of bereaved family of this octogenarian architect of world's largest cooperative. He stayed in Kochi to offer solace to the bereaved family and participated in the funeral.

IFFCO Management at a condolence meeting paid rich tributes to Mr Pothen and recalled his inspired leadership and foundation provided to the Society at its infancy stage.

Maruti launches all new Esteem

By Sushma Arora

NEW DELHI, July 5: India's largest carmaker, Maruti Udyog Ltd, on Monday launched a new, upgraded Esteem. It comes in a refreshing new front styling, 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, its plush new upholstery, silver finished dashboard garnish and controls, a sportier speedometer, chrome tipped parking lever and metal finished gear lever, make for refined interiors. The new Esteem also comes with tubeless tyres.

The new Esteem will be offered in a new metallic colour: Fawn Mist. It will continue to be available in Silky Silver, Pearl Silver, Acqua Blue, Midnight Black and Superior White. The company also announced that it had cut prices of its new look compact sedan Esteem by at least Rs 40,000 to increase its share in the rapidly growing mid-sized segment.

Maruti, 54.2 per cent owned by Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp, has a 47 per cent share of the Indian car market and competes mainly with the local unit of Hyundai and domestic firm Tata Motors Ltd. "Our initiatives on the new Esteem are in line with Maruti's increased focus this year on the A3 segment (mid-sized) of the domestic passenger car market," Maruti Udyog managing director Jagdish Khattar told newsmen soon after the launch.

The mid-sized segment contributes nearly 20 per cent of overall car sales of nearly 700,000 units a year and is growing at 15 per cent annually.

The three petrol versions of the Esteem would now be available between Rs 4.25 lakh and Rs 4.9 lakh compared with Rs 4.67 lakh and Rs 5.4 lakh earlier. These showroom prices are for Delhi. Rates of two diesel models remain unchanged. The last major upgrade of Esteem was in Year 2000, when it received an all-aluminum 1300cc MPFI engine that generates a BHP of 85 @ 6000 rpm.

The sales of Esteem grew nearly 11 per cent in 2003-04. Customers rated it as "Best Entry Mid Size Car" in J D Power Initial Quality Study 2003. It was also the car with "Lowest Cost of Ownership" in its category in the NFO Automotive Cost of Ownership Study 2003. Nearly 1.75 lakh Esteem cars have been sold so far. Despite growing competition in recent years, the Esteem has maintained its sale volume, said Mr Khattar.

He said the new Esteem is part of Maruti's strategy to increase its share in the rapidly growing A3 Segment of the domestic passenger car market this year. In January 2004, the company had launched a new variant (LXi) of its premium sedan, Baleno, and undertaken a massive advertising campaign highlighting the car's "Surprising Performance". Those measures yielded results and Baleno sales have grown by over 250 per cent in the first half of this calendar year.

Maruti net profit up in Q1

NEW DELHI, July 26: Maruti Udyog Limited has recorded net profit of Rs 1709.2 million during April-June 2004 quarter, a growth of 42.1% over the same period last year. Profit before tax was Rs 2672 million during April-June 2004, a growth of 55.1% over the same period last year. Maruti's total income (net of excise) was Rs 26164.6 million during April-June 2004, a growth of 24.1 per cent compared to the same period last year. The company sold 123,624 vehicle units during April-June 2004. This included exports of 12,240 units.

While the domestic passenger car industry grew by 19.4 per cent in April-June 2004, Maruti's passenger car sales in the domestic market grew by 21.1% during this period. The company's marketshare in the domestic passenger car market increased from 55 per cent in April-June 2003 to 55.8 per cent in April-June 2004. The company attributed its performance during April-June 2004 to higher sales volume, and the benefits from its on-going program to enhance productivity and reduce costs across the value chain.

FDI cap in aviation, insurance hiked

TTO News Service

NEW DELHI, July 8: The Finance Minister, Mr P Chidambaram, has proposed a hike in sectoral caps in telecommunications, civil aviation and insurance keeping pace with the rapid changes in these areas.
In telecommunications, the existing cap of 49 per cent will be hiked to 74 per cent. In civil aviation, it is proposed to be increased from 40 to 49 per cent while in insurance the cap has been raised to 49 per cent from 26 per cent, he added.

Announcing this during the presentation of Union Budget 2004-05 in the Lok Sabha, the Finance Minister stated that the FDI has the potential to add a competitive edge, especially in the industrial sector. The Common Minimum Programme declares that FDI will continue to be encouraged and actively sought, particularly in the areas of infrastructure, high technology and exports. Three sectors of the economy namely, telecommunications, civil aviation and insurance fully meet this description, he said.

SJVN sets new benchmark in hydro power history

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, June 21: Nathpa Jhakri project of the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVN), whose final sixth unit was commissioned in May this year, provided 422 MW of much needed power to Delhi. This is much above the 142 MW allocated to the Capital, according to Mr Y N Apparao, Chairman and Managing Director of the corporation.
Though Delhi has been allocated 9.47 per cent of the total 1500 MW installed capacity, the SJVN orovided 26.47 per cent of power to bring relief to Delhi-ites from the scorching heat.

Besides the social and economic upliftment of the people in its vicinity, the 1500 MW hydro project generates 6950 MU of electrical energy in a 90 per cent dependable year. It also provides 1500 MW of valuable peaking power to the Northern Grid.

The first unit of Nathpa Jhakri hydro-electric project was synchorinsed with the grid on September 20, 2003 and it was declared under commercial operation on October 6. The second unit commenced commercial operation on January 4 this year, the third unit on March 30, the fourth on March 31 and the fifth unit was declared under commercial operation on May 6 this year.

Speaking to this correspondent in an exclusive interview, Mr Apparao said "the commissioning of six 250 MW units within a period of six months from the commencement of commercial operations of the first unit, has been treated as a bench mark in the hydro power history of the country."

The CMD informed that Delhi has been given the maximum allocation from the project, which is a joint venture of Central and Himachal governments. The allocation for the other States is Haryana 21.27 per cent, Himachal Pradesh 2.47 per cent, Chandigarh 0.53 per cent, Rajasthan 14.47 per cent and Uttar Pradesh 14.73 per cent.

After successfully commissioning the country's prestigious 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Project, Mr Apparao said the corporation plans to invest Rs 13,000 crore to develop 2,500 MW of additional hydro-power generating capacity. The five more projects in Himachal on river Satluj and two in Uttaranchal would help the corporation reach its target 4000 MW of power generation in five years.

Of the projects identified in Himachal, the Corporation has already commenced investigation works for the 439 MW Rampur hydro-electric project. This project being implemented down stream of the Nathpa Jhakri Project on river Satluj is slated to be completed within five years at a estimated cost of Rs. 2308 crore.

"This project will utilise the desilted tailrace water of the Nathpa Jhakri project thus eliminating the need for constructing a separate dam and desilting chambers. This will not only make the Project cost effective but also lead to its faster execution," he said.

For the other four identified projects in Himachal Pradesh, upstream on river Satluj, investigation works for making the Detailed Project Reports have also been commenced. These projects will be executed within five years from the date of commencement.

The Chairman said SJVN is exploring possibilities of taking up execution of two projects in the adjoining state of Uttaranchal. These two projects would be implemented on Dhauliganga River. With the expertise gained in executing this mega project, the corporation aims at implementing the new projects with latest technology expeditiously with utmost controls on time and cost over-runs.

Mr Apparao said the corpration plans to tap various avenues, including the World Bank for funding the projects.

The Corporation's expertise in underground works viz. one of the world's longest and largest hydropower tunnel, the world's largest disilting chambers and the country's largest underground power house complex, makes it a potential underground specialist organisation. The expertise gained can be useful for various types of tunnelling for hydro, water resources, irrigation and highways. He said the Corporation is also exploring possibilities of taking up projects in other states of the country in the times to come.

The SJVN (formerly Nathpa Jhakri Power Corporation Limited) was incorporated on May 24, 1988 as a joint venture of the Government of India (GOI) and the Government of Himachal Pradesh (GOHP) to plan, investigate, organize, execute, operate and maintain Hydro-electric power projects in the Satluj river basin in the state of Himachal Pradesh and at any other place.

SJVN to extend consultancy services abroad

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, June 22: Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVN), which has established benchmarks in executing and expeditious commissioning the Country's largest 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri hydro-electric power project in Himalchal Pradesh, has now begun extending its consultancy services not only in India but has abroad.

Speaking to this correspondent, the SJVN Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Y N Apparao, said Consultancy Development Centre (CDC), New Delhi, have approached the Corporation for preparing feasibility studies for hydroelectric projects in Afghanistan through Afghanistan Reconstruction Development Services (ARDS), Ministry of Water and Power.

"The Corporation has already prepared pre-feasibility reports (PFRs) for Khab-I and Khab-II hydroelectric projects on river Satluj for Central Electricity Authority under the Ministry of Power. The final DPRs for these projects are also being prepared by SJVN Ltd," said Mr Apparao.

The Chairman said the corporation has also provided consultancy Services to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) Bobba Power Projects Limited, Bangalore and Mount Kailash Power Projects (P) Ltd, Bangalore, for techno-economic viability of two hydel schemes namely Mulibetu (10.5 MW) and Mannapitlu (15 MW) located in Karnataka.

"Konkan Railway Corporation (KRCL) have sought consultancy from us for their underground works i.e. tunnels being constructed by them for Udhampur-Srinagar railway line," he added.

Mr Apparao informed that Uttaranchal Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd, Dehradun have also approached the Corporation for reviewing the design of Head Race Tunnel, Power House and Butter fly Valve house of Maneri Bhali HEP (Stage-II) . UJVNL has also approached us for consultancy on a 100m high gravity dam on river Song near Dehradun city, besides many other projects in Uttaranchal. Another independent power producer, Patikiri Power Corporation (P) Ltd, New Delhi, have also sought consultancy for their 16 MW power project in District Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, from SJVN Ltd, he added.

For furthering the need of promoting eco friendly hydel power, the Corporation is organising a meeting of the hydro-power professionals at New Delhi. The meet will address the importance of sustaining ecology in hydropower development in the country.

Mr Apparao said the Corporation has also set up a high-tech Hydel Training Institute at its Nathpa Jhakri project in Himachal Pradesh where professional training in the field of hydropower development is being imparted to the participating delegates. The Corporation is fully equipped to extend its expertise and consultancy services in any part of the country and abroad, he said with confidence. The SJVN was formerly known as Nathpa Jhakri Power Corporation Limited.

Surinder Jakhar elected IFFCO Chairman

NEW DELHI, May 21: Mr Surinder Kumar Jakhar has been unanimously elected Chairman of world's largest fertiliser cooperative, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), by the Board of Directors at its 31st Annual General Body Meeting held today. Likewise, Mr N.P. Patel has been re-elected Vice-Chairman of this premier cooperative institution for the second successive term.

Mr K. Srinivasa Gowda is taking new responsibility as Chairman of IFFCO Tokio General Insurance Company Limited (ITGI). Mr Gowda is a very senior cooperator and is presently a Member of Karnataka Legislative Assembly.

Mr Jakhar, a renowned cooperator, during his long and illustrious career, has made significant contribution aimed at accelerating the agricultural and rural development. A widely travelled person, he carries with him rich and varied experience in the field of agriculture and cooperation.

Ajit Kumar Singh, Vithalbhai H. Radadia, Sheeshpal Singh, Raj Kumar Tripathi, Balvinder Singh Nakai, R.P.Singh, and K. Srinivasa Gowda have also been elected on IFFCO's Board for a period of five years by around 1000 Representative General Body members representing around 37,000 cooperative societies all over the country.

Record operating turn-over by RITES

The Rail India Technical and Economic Services Ltd. (RITES), a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Railways, has posted a record operating turnover of Rs. 267 crores for the financial year ended March 31, 2004 as against Rs. 254 crores during the previous year. Total turnover excluding extra-ordinary items increased from Rs.269 crore to Rs. 285 crore. The overseas business grew from Rs. 92 crore in the previous year to Rs. 109 crores. The profit before tax excluding extra-ordinary items registered an impressive growth of 72 per cent from Rs. 47.83 crores during the previous year to Rs. 82.55 crores.

During the year the company issued bonus shares in the ratio of 1:1 and the paid up capital of the company increased from Rs.2 crores to Rs. 4 crores. Backed by the excellent results, the Company declared a record dividend of 400 per cent on the enhanced capital, amounting to Rs.11.67 crores, inclusive of the 150 per cent interim dividend paid. This is against last year's dividend of 250 per cent.

For the 12th year in succession, the Department of Public Enterprises has awarded "Excellent" rating to RITES on its performance of the year 2002-2003. RITES has been conferred with the "Top Exporters" Award for the year 2002-2003 by Engineering Exports Promotion Council-Northern Region and SCOPE Award for excellence and outstanding contribution on the Public Sector Management for the year 2002-2003.

Addressing the 30th Annual General Meeting of the Company, Chairman (RITES) and the Member Mechanical, Railway Board, Mr P.N. Garg, said that in the face of an extremely competitive international scenario, RITES succeeded in securing challenging and prestigious assignments in Uzbekistan, Uganda and Sudan. During the year the company executed contracts in UK, Sharjah, Malaysia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Botswana, Mozambique and Vietnam, amongst others, he added.

At home, the company is executing major consultancy and project management contracts in the areas of Railways, Power, Construction and Quality assurance, including quality and safety audit.

Hudco records Rs 266.54 cr profit

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI: Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd (HUDCO) plans to become more competitive in the field of housing loans to meet the challenge from the private and public sector banks. Speaking to this correspondent, the new Chairman and Managing Director of Hudco, Dr P S Rana, stated the corporation was keen to have a big pie of the loans being taken by individuals and organizations in the booming housing sector. Board members Mr R S Prasad, Mr G R Karunakar and Mr R K Khanna flanked Dr Rana.

Dr Rana stated that Hudco had recently brought down the interest rates for individual home loans under the Hudco Niwas by 1.25 per cent to 8.25 per cent against the existing rate of 9.5 per cent. Only two years ago Hudco Niwas was offering loans at 12.75 per cent. The current market rates vary between 8 and 9 per cent.

On the competitive rates being offered by some private banks, the CMD said that some banks, which had initially reduced their interest rate for the first year to 6 per cent, had announced increase in the interest rates. While warning public to read in between the lines before signing for such deals, he said "we will be more competitive".

He said Hudco has been contributing to all income categories of the people to meet their habitat requirements. However, a significant emphasis has been given to the weaker section and low-income housing with 95 per cent of the total dwelling units sanctioned by Hudco being for those categories in the urban and rural areas.

Dr Rana stated that with the total support and commitment of the Government, Hudco would continue to grow and contribute to the housing and urban development sector with special emphasis on the poorer section of the society through various Government Action Plan schemes such as Valmiki Ambedkar Awar Yojna, Night Shelters and two million housing programme.

Giving details of the company for the financial year 2002-03, the CMD said Hudco has posted an all time profit of Rs 266.54 crore (after tax and provisions) as against Rs 114.06 crore during the year thereby registering a growth of 133 per cent. He said the net worth of company has increased to Rs 2,724.05 crore at the end of the financial year.

Dr Rana said Hudco has achieved sanctions of Rs 15,627 crore as against Rs 8,141 crore during the year thereby registering growth of 92 per cent.

The loans have been sanctioned for variety of projects including housing for weaker sections of the society under VAMBAY schemes of the Government of India, infrastructure projects such as water supply, roads, drainage system, integrated development of townships and many other innovative projects.

Hudco has made fresh disbursement of Rs 8,180 crore as against Rs 4,662 crore during the year recording a growth of over 75 per cent.

Since its inception, Hudco has sactioned over 15,040 housing and urban development projects. These projects are worth Rs 92,357 crore for which Hudco loan commitment is of Rs 53,866 crore.

Dr Rana informed that the public deposit scheme has become one of the most popular deposit scheme with adequate safety and variety of liquidity options. Hudco has mobilized fresh deposits of Rs 836 crore during the year as against Rs 393 crore during the year recording growth of 113 per cent.

The Department of Public Enterprises has rated Hudco's performance against MOU targets as "excellent" for the year 2002-03.

On the future plans, he said the company plans to establish Hudco Haats in all the State Capitals as "permanent building technology exposition and housing guidance center". These Haats would also act as a "one step shop" Building Technology Park to provide for necessary guidance on access to technologies and building materials, property advisory services and housing finance access.

Dr Rana stated that Hudco, in collaboration with the State Governments, would facilitate setting up of Habitat centers in various States on the pattern of the India Habitat Center in Delhi.

Hudco's great contributions towards housing, upliftment of poor

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Dec 17: Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd (HUDCO) continues to be a great contributor for the development of housing and urban infrastructure in the country. The company would continue to lay special emphasis on the poorer section of the society through various action plan schemes such as Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojna, Night Shelter and two million housing programme, according to Dr P S Rana, Chairman and Managing Director of Hudco.

Since its inception, the new CMD said Hudco has sactioned over 15,000 housing and urban development projects. These projects are worth Rs 88,971 crore for which Hudco loan commitment is of Rs 52,912 crore (Housing Rs 24,659 crore and urban infrastructure Rs 28,253 crore). Against the sanctions, Hudco has release Rs 38,568 crore.

These projects on completion would provide nearly 1.32 crore residential units; over four lakh dwelling units for individuals under Hudco Niwas; over 17,000 night shelter beds; over five lakh developed plots and nearly 49 lakh sanitation units.

Dr Rana, who recently took over as the CMD, said Hudco has been contributing to all income categories of the people to meet their habitat requirements. However, a significant emphasis has been given to the weaker section and low-income housing with 95 per cent of the total dwelling units sanctioned by Hudco being for those categories in the urban and rural areas.

He said the Prime Minister launched the Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojna (VAMBAY) in December 2001 at Hyderbad as the first Central sector housing scheme for the urban slum dwellers and the urban poor. VAMBAY is a centrally sponsored scheme shared on a 50:50 basis with States. The scheme is primarily aimed at ameliorating the housing problems for the slum dwellers living below the poverty line in different towns and cities all over the country.

The allocation of Government of India subsidy for Vambay has been over 600 crore against which the Government of India's subsidy of 434 crore has been disbursed for construction of nearly two lakh dwelling units and about 28,000 toilet seats.

To compete with the private public sector banks, the Hudco recently reduced its interest rates by 1.25 per cent on loans for individuals as well as organizations. A similar reduction has been made for housing schemes of the Union Government. Hudco's retail home loans are now be available at a floating rate of 8.25 per cent for a period of up to 25 years against the existing rate of 9.5 per cent. Under the fixed rate category, the interest rate would be 8.25 per cent for a period of up to five years and 8.5 per cent up to 15 years.

The CMD informed that the Government launched the two million housing programme in 1998. Of this, Hudco has been assigned to take up six lakh units in rural areas and four lakh in urban areas, totaling to 10 lakh units every year. In the last five years, Hudco has exceeded its target of 50 lakh units.

He said Hudco continued its efforts in strengthening the Building Center Movement towards promoting environment friendly, ecologically appropriate, energy efficient, functionally durable, aesthetically pleasing and yet cost-effective and affordable building materials and technologies in the construction sector. Hudco till August 2003 had sanctioned 585 Building Centers in the urban areas covering 406 districts. Out of 585 Building Centers sactioned, 488 are functional.

As part of the celebration of 50th year of India's independence, Hudco initiated the programme for development of Model Villages (Adarsh Gram) and Model Improved Slums (Adarsh Basti) for providing, based on a convergence approach, (integrated inputs) of physical planning, architectural design, efficient utilisation of land and appropriate technologies ensuring user participation, and use of innovative and renewable sources of energy. Till August 2003, Hudco had sactioned 116 Model Villages and Model Bastis.

Rana is new CMD HUDCO

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI: Dr P S Rana is the new Chairman and Managing Director of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd (HUDCO). Prior to this, Dr. Rana held the post of Senior Executive Director, HUDCO.

A Graduate (B Tech, Civil) of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Masters in Town and Country planning from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, and Ph. D in Transport Engineering and Management from the University of New Castle Upon Tyne, UK, Dr Rana has held various important posts within and outside HUDCO.
He was Director (Corporate Planning), HUDCO from August 1997 to August 2002. Dr Rana was instrumental in formulating HUDCO's vision to emerge as the market leader in the core sector of Housing and Urban Infrastructure finance. He also held additional charge of Director (Finance), HUDCO from November 1999 to January 2001. He was also Executive Director (Urban Infrastructure) and Executive Director (Environment and Technology), HUDCO.

An expert in the field of urban transport management, Dr. Rana was General Manager, Delhi Transport Corporation from December 1986 to May 1990. Dr. Rana has over 31 years of experience in research, consultancy, planning and management of multi-modal integrated mass transport systems, planning and management of urban bus operations.
He is a Fellow of Institute of the Town Planners and Founder Member and Vice-President of Institute of Urban Transport.

Dr Rana also holds many prestigious positions in various professional bodies including: Secretary General, All India Housing Development Association, New Delhi; Advisor, Delhi Urban Arts Commission, Ministry of Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation, Government of India, New Delhi (since 1985); Director, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, Government of Maharashtra Delhi (since 1997), and Vice Chairman CDC.



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