SEMINAR ON ROLE OF JUDICIAL PROCESS IN THE DRIVE AGAINST SMUGGLING AND DRUG TRAFFICKING
Department of Revenue is organizing a seminar to deliberate on the legal issues related to combating smuggling and drug trafficking and to give renewed thrust to effective enforcement of provisions relating to forfeiture of illegally acquired property. This one-day seminar, will be inaugurated by the Union Finance Minister, Shri Yashwant Sinha on 5th February, 2000 in the capital. Union ministers of Law, Home and the Minister of State for Revenue will be participating in this seminar.
Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts, senior officials of State Governments and Government of India, Attorney General and Solicitor General of India, members of Law Commission will be taking part in this seminar.
It may be noted that the drug trafficking, smuggling and foreign exchange manipulations have been posing a serious threat to the country and the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 was amended to provide for forfeiture of illegally acquired property of drug traffickers. As certain conflicting judgement of courts had affected the enforcement of the act, a bill has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha to strengthen the act.
The Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1976 was enacted with a view to provide for forfeiture of illegally acquired property of smugglers and foreign exchange manipulators. This act could not make any headway till 1994 due to litigation. The Judgement of Supreme Court in the Attorney General of India Vs. Amritlal Prajivandas has paved the way for the enforcement of the Act.
INCENTIVE TO SMALL SCALE/ANCILLARY UNITS ACQUIRING ISO-9000The Government of India has extended the scheme of incentives to small scale/ancillary units acquiring ISO-9000 up to the end of the 9th Five Year Plan i.e., 31st March, 2002. The procedural norms and the application form to claim reimbursement of charges incurred for acquiring ISO-9000 have also been simplified.
The scheme was launched in 1994 and provides for reimbursement of charges for acquiring ISO-9000 (or its equivalent) certification to the extent of 75 per cent of the cost, subject to a maximum of Rs. 75000/- in each case.
According to the revised norms, which aim at reducing the documentation work, a certificate from Chartered Accountant, certifying the expenditure incurred in acquiring ISO-9000 (excluding hotel and travel expenses), would now be sufficient in place of the certified copies of various vouchers/receipts.
The industrial units desirous of getting reimbursement are required to submit their applications for reimbursement to the Development Commissioner (SSI), Ministry of Small Scale Industries and Agro and Rural Industries, New Delhi. The revised application forms and guidelines can be obtained from Development Commissioner or from Small Industries Services Institutes or Industries Commissioner/Directorate of Industries of the State concerned.
GOVERNMENT AMENDS COMPANIES GENERAL RULES AND FORMS
The Department of Company Affairs has issued a notification amending the Companies (Central Governments) General Rules and Forms, 1956. Accordingly, new rules called the Companies (Central Governments) General Rules and Forms (Fourth Amendment) Rules, 1999 have been framed.
In the Companies (Central Governments) General Rules and Forms, 1956, for Rule (5-C), the following rule has been substituted, namely, 5-C, Section 77A (1). A declaration of solvency under sub section (6) of Section 77 A shall be in Form 4 A.
The register of the securities bought back by a company under sub-section (9) of Section of Section 77 A of the Companies Act shall be in Form 4 B.
The return relating to the buy-back of securities shall be in Form 4-C.
In Annexture A Companies (Central Governments) General Rules and Forms, 1956, after Form No.4-A, a nine column Form No.4-B under Section 77 A (9) and under section 77 A (10) a twenty five column Form No. 4-C have been inserted.
These two new Forms will help rationalise the register of securities bought back by the (indicate the name of the Company) and return in respect of buy-back of securities.
'42'REVIVAL PLAN FOR MANGALORE CHEMICALS AND FERTILIZERS
The Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers is working on a plan for the revival of the Mangalore Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited (MCF). This follows a meeting here between the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers Shri Suresh Prabhu and the Chairman of the MCF Shri Vijay Mallya and other officials of the unit. The revival plan will help in saving the impending closure of the unit, with timely and prompt action by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.
The revival plan for MCF is part of a major initiative taken by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers in its efforts to rehabilitate and revive sick units, which have potential and viability. This will save jobs of thousands of workers as well as preventing colossal national loss through the loss of productive resources.
The Ministry is already engaged in the process of developing plans for overhauling all sick units with potential and viability in the Departments of Fertilizers and Chemicals and Petro-chemicals, and a series of meetings are taking place for this purpose.
Recently as part of this exercise Shri Suresh Prabhu visited Calcutta and met the West Bengal Chief Minister Shri Jyoti Basu to look into the revival of viable units in the state.
MANEKA GANDHI STRESSES NEED TO REACH OLD PEOPLE IN POORER SECTION OF SOCIETY
The Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment, Smt. Maneka Gandhi inaugurated a Workshop on "National Policy on Older Persons - Action Plan" here today designed at drafting and implementation plan for the policy on older persons. The workshop has been organised by the Help Age India.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that the ultimate goal of National Policy on Older Persons announced by her last year was to do the maximum for the maximum. She said that Old-age homes, day care centres and mobile Medicare units for older persons were of course important for the welfare of senior citizens but more important was to reach the maximum number of older people across the country who did not have the sufficient income.
For a better future of older people in the lower income groups, Smt. Gandhi said that her Ministry was actively working on the recommendations of the report of a national project `OASIS` ( Old Age Social and Income Security) to ensure that every young worker could genuinely build up a stock of wealth through his or her working life. This, she said, would serve as a shield against poverty in old age. The Minister pointed out that only 9% of people were presently being covered under the current pension schemes as of now and unorganised sector was entirely left out. She disclosed that recommendations of the `OASIS` report were being discussed with the Secretaries of some Central Ministries for evolving future course of action for implementation of these recommendations. The Minister hoped that her Ministry's efforts in setting up of a Pension Authority of India would succeed and workers of unorganised sector could look forward to a more secure aged life.
Smt. Gandhi said that her Ministry has approached Union Ministry of Health to issue instructions to the States to ensure separate queues for older persons at all stages in the Government hospitals. She, however, regretted that not many states have responded favourably till now. The Minister said that on her Ministry's request, Hon'ble Chief Justice of India had advised the Chief Justices of all High Courts for ensuring expeditious disposals of cases involving older persons. She said that National Council on Older Persons (NCOP) has been constituted and "AADHAR" has been set up to act as Secretariat of NCOP to receive, process and take follow-up action on the representations of older persons. She said that "AADHAR" has been asked to set up its branches across the country.
The Deputy Chief Executive of Help-Age International, Mr. Mark Gorman lauded the role of Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in formulating a policy statement for the older people. He said India was amongst those very few countries of the world that have a separate National Policy on Older Persons. Mr Gorman said that India has successfully belied the charge that aging was low on the priorities of developing countries.
The workshop was a culmination of various panel discussions held in late 1999. Some of the points of concern, for the elderly addressed in previous seminars are the financial aspects, the health issues, emotional security, the role of media and NGOs, education and research and the problems of shelter, among many others.
MR. S.S. DHINDSA TAKES OVER ADDITIONAL CHARGE OF YOUTH AFFAIRS AND SPORTS
The Minister of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation, Shri Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa today formally took additional charge of Youth Affairs and Sports. The Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports will be Shri Chaoba Singh.
After formally taking over the additional charge, Shri Dhindsa said all programmes relating to Youth affairs and sports will be given the focus of attention. Special efforts will be made to boost the image of India in the sports arena.
SHRI JAITLEY CONDOLES THE DEATH OF USTAD ALLAH RAKHA KHAN
The Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shri Arun Jaitley has expressed deep sorrow at the death of the Tabla Maestro, Ustad Allah Rakha Khan who passed away in Mumbai this morning. Shri Jaitley said that in his death, the music world has lost a great exponent of classical music. Shri Allah Rakha Khan enriched the music treasure of India and also trained several other great artists, he said.
PM CONDOLES DEATH OF USTAD ALLAHRAKHA
The Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has expressed deep grief over the passing away of Ustad Allahrakha. In a condolence message, the Prime Minister recalled Ustad Allahrakha's contribution to the world of Indian classical music and popularising it both at home and abroad. In his death, the country has lost an accomplished maestro whose mastery over the tabla created waves all over the world. He strode like a colossus on the scene of Indian classical music and enjoyed a huge fan following among people of all ages and many countries. Posterity will remember him for his talent and the laurels that he fetched his country.
EXPRESSWAY DEVELOPMENT IN THE NCR
"The institutional frame-work, particularly in the realm of Administration, as stipulated in the Constitution, appears somewhat out of lag with todays requirements".
This observation was made by Shri Jagmohan, Union Urban Development Minister, while inaugurating the Seminar on Development of Expressways in National Capital Region at the India Habitat Centre, today.
Shri Jagmohan said: "Those who are opposing a review of the Constitution are overlooking an important issue the issue of adjusting the institutional framework to the new realities that are emerging at the ground level. For example, one of the reasons for non-implementation of National Capital Region Plan is the constitutional provisions which, quite often, stood in way of putting on the ground an effective administrative machinery for dealing with the problems of the Region in an integrated way. Both dynamism and result-orientation were undermined. Though the human material and issue of constitutional maturity is of fundamental significance, the issue of providing a suitable structure of the Constitution cannot be ignored. Surely, time has come to subject to close scrutiny the present institutional frame-work and readjust it to the new needs and aspirations".
Shri Jagmohan also referred to the huge gap between the funds required for development of infrastructure in the Region and the funds that are available under the Five Years Plans. He said that the best way of overcoming this difficulty would be to set up joint ventures of Central Government Agencies and the Agencies of the State Governments of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi and also foreign companies which are interested in making direct investment and bringing in latest technology. He stressed the need for building immediately important Expressways of Kundli-Ghaziabad and Ghaziabad-Meerut which would cost about Rs. 1100 crores.
Shri Jagmohan invited attention to the phenomenal increase in the urban density of Delhi and also to rapidly deteriorating environmental conditions due to traffic, industrial and commercial congestion. He said: "Those industrialists who have vision would move to and invest in the National Capital Region and those who are short-sighted would stick to non-conforming areas of Delhi".
In his address, the Minister of State for Urban Development, Shri Bandaru Dattatraya said that the construction of Expressways has become very relevant in the context of serious urban management problems in Delhi. He said that the Expressways will ease congestion and allow fast movement
The seminar has been organised by the NCR Planning Board in association with Japan International Cooperation Agency on the feasibility study for the construction of Expressways in the NCR with special reference to Kundli-Ghaziabad and Ghaziabad-Meerut Expressways.
MARAN CHAIRS MEETING OF ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE
INDIAS INTERESTS TO BE PRIORITISED
Shri Murasoli Maran, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, chaired the 6th Meeting of the National Advisory Committee on International Trade here today. Among the members who attended were Dr. Abid Hussain; Shri A.V. Ganesan; Shri Muchkund Dubey; Dr. Suman Sahai and Shri Pradeep S. Mehta. Shri P.P. Prabhu, Commerce Secretary, along with other senior officials of the Ministry participated. Shri Maran agreed with the members that the countrys interests would have to be prioritised in the post-Seattle scenario with a clear focus on what India should seek from the world trading system. He welcomed the valuable suggestions made by members of the Committee and said that these would serve as a guide in future strategies.
The Committee deliberated on various issues in the context of the post-Seattle situation and gave its suggestions. Shri Dubey felt that the opportunity of the post-Seattle time out should be utilised to build solidarity among developing nations as much as possible; to continue opposition to non-trade issues which had the potential to harm free trade and to persist with the thrust on implementation issues which had received wide acceptance and recognition at the Seattle meet. Dr. Hussain also emphasised the importance of utilising the time out period effectively. He said that this would, among other things, entail a battle of ideas as well as mobilisation of common opinion through bilateral and other meetings. Shri Ganesan suggested that the government should prioritise its concerns sector-wise agreement-by-agreement in consultation with the trade and industry and other stakeholders and make specific proposals so as to ensure optimum benefit for the country from the multilateral trading system. How to handle demands being made by other member countries is another area which would need attention, he said. He further stressed that market access issues should be considered in a holistic manner to facilitate trade-offs. He also suggested that meetings could be convened with the Chief Ministers with a view to building of consensus on WTO issues in the states, particularly in sectors of specific interest to them. Dr. Suman Sahai pointed to the possibility of the GM (genetically modified organisms) issue coming up in view of the recent signing of the bio-safety protocol which had excluded labelling and trade. Shri Pradeep Mehta cautioned that apart from the existing non-trade issues, issues such as human rights, animal welfare and gender could also come up in the future. He said there were emerging concerns about unilateral standards such as take-back regulations being adopted in Europe and felt that efforts to promote solidarity should not be confined only to developing countries but also extend to sympathisers in the developed world, especially on non-trade issues.
INCREASE IN PRODUCTION OF BOKARO STEEL PLANTThe production of saleable steel in Bokaro Steel Plant of the steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) during April-December, 1999 has grown by more than 41 per cent over the corresponding period of 1998. The plant produced 2.435 million tonnes of saleable steel during April December 1999 in place of 1.724 million tonnes during the same period last year. The Plant has deployed foreign experts for stabilisation of modernised facilities to increase its production. Operating personnel are being trained on the modernised facilities for their efficient utilisation.
The production of saleable steel in the plant had to be regulated due to sluggishness in demand of steel particularly in flat products during 1996-97 to 1998-99. During 1997-98 Hot Strip Mill of the Plant was shut down for 39 days for modernisation. Besides, the power problem contributed to slow down of production in the plant during these 3 years.
EMPLOYEES OF LUBRIZOL INDIA CONTRIBUTE OVER 2 LAKH RUPEES TO ORISSA CYCLONE RELIEF FUND
The Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Ram Naik received a cheque of Rs. 2,15,963 from Shri M.G. Banerjee, Chairman and Managing Director, Lubrizol India Ltd. (LIL) towards National Relief Fund for relief and rehabilitation of cyclone affected people of Orissa. The amount represents one day's salary contribution of all the employees of LIL.
Speaking on the occasion Shri Ram Naik said that it was heartening to note that the members of Public Sector Oil Companies have come forward to make liberal contribution towards a noble cause to mitigate sufferings of our brethren. The Public Sector Oil Companies have already contributed an amount of about Rs. 40 crore for the relief work in cyclone affected parts of Orissa.
SIGNIFICANT INITIATIVES MARK 100 DAYS OF THE GOVERNMENT IN OIL SECTOR
ACCELERATION TO EXPLORATION ACTIVITES AND CONSUMER-FRIENDLY MEASURESThe Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas, Shri Ram Naik, has said that the emphasis during the first 100 days of the new government has been on improving the consumer service on one hand and on expediting decisions for rejuvenating the speed of exploration of oil and gas on the other. Making his opening remarks at a Press Conference, here today, he said that over 25 lakh gas connections were released by the Public Sector Oil Companies during the last three months. Another 110 lakh connections will be released during the calendar year 2000 so that the entire waiting list as on 1.12.1999 is wiped out.
The Minister said that this period is remarkable for speedy approval to award of 25 Exploration Blocks under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). This decision will bring in an investment in the first phase of exploration around US $ 250 million. A drive was launched against adulteration of petroleum products wherein nearly 2000 outlets were checked and 129 cases of suspected adulteration and 18 cases of tampering of weighs and seals were detected. Depots in oil terminals of the Oil Companies were also checked and 44 irregularities were detected.
Supply of low sulphur content diesel (0.25 per cent) started on 1st January, through out the country, which will considerably bring down the level of air-pollution caused by vehicular emission. Refining capacity increased to 110 million tonnes per annum which has brought self-sufficiency to the country in the oil sector. Elaborating various other initiatives, the Minister said the most heartening side of has been the concern shown towards the national cause and steps taken to overcome the devastating effects of the natural calamity.
Following is the uncorrected text of opening statement made by Shri Ram Naik at the Press Conference:-
"National Democratic Alliance Government led by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has completed its first 100 days in office. I would like to take this opportunity to brief you regarding the achievements of my Ministry during this period and also to inform you of the issues we would be addressing in the coming months on a priority basis.
In the brief period that I have been Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, I have given importance to improving the consumer service on one hand and to expediting decisions for rejuvenating the speed of exploration of oil and gas on the other.
In a concerted move to increase availability of cooking gas (LPG) to the people, 25.42 lakhs gas connections were released by the Public Sector Oil Companies during the last three months as against a total of 42 lakhs connections released during the full year 1998-99. Between January December 2000 another 1.10 crores gas connections will be released in order to clear the entire waiting list as on 1.12.99. This figure of 1.10 crores would compare well with the total number of 4.36 crores existing connections.
Presently, the country imports 70% of its petroleum requirements. To increase the indigenous production and to take the country to self-sufficiency, exploration efforts in the country have been given a boost with the approval of the award of 25 exploration blocks under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). This includes 7 deep water offshore blocks, 16 shallow water offshore blocks and 2 onland blocks (1 each in Uttar Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh). The award of the deep-water blocks for the first time in the country has opened up a new horizon for oil and gas exploration. The minimum committed investment in the first phase of exploration in these 25 blocks will be around US$ 250 million. The investment figures will go up several fold depending upon the size of discoveries in these blocks. We have also commenced negotiations for finalisation of contracts for 12 discovered fields and have accorded approval for finalisation of contracts in respect of 2 exploration blocks in Gujarat.
Emphasis is being given on ensuring supply of quality products to the public. A special vigilance drive was launched from 29.11.1999 to 3.12.1999 in order to check and curb the menace of adulteration of petrol and diesel at retail outlets. During the drive, nearly 2000 retail outlets were checked and 129 cases of suspected adulteration and 18 cases of tampering of weights and measures seals were detected. The Oil Companies are taking action against the erring dealers. Depots and terminals of the Oil Companies were also checked and 44 irregularities detected for which corrective action has been taken. In this regard, a Conference of State Ministers for Food & Civil Supplies was also held on 24th December 1999.
We have also been taking eco-friendly measures in order to reduce the pollution. With effect from 1.1.2000, low sulphur diesel (0.25%) is being supplied throughout the country. Unleaded petrol, which is currently available only in some centres will now be supplied throughout the country from 1.2.2000. The National Capital Region, Delhi will also be supplied with 0.05% sulphur, diesel and petrol from 1.4.2000.
The Oil Sector PSUs were among the first to take up relief measures during Orissa super cyclone. A contribution of Rs.39.50 crores has been made by these companies to the Prime Ministers Relief Fund for providing relief to the cyclone affected people. Six blocks in the affected areas have been entrusted, one each to ONGC, IOC, BPCL, HPCL, GAIL and IBP for taking up the relief and rehabilitation operations. These companies are also engaged in construction/repair of public utility buildings like schools, drilling wells for drinking water and in construction of houses.
As a part of the National cause, allotment of 116 retail outlet dealerships and LPG distributorships have been approved for the widows/next of kin of defence personnel killed in action in Kargil. Under the scheme, the retail outlets/LPG distributorships would be handed over to the beneficiaries in a fully functional form. In this connection, the Oil Companies would be spending upto Rs.40 lakhs per retail outlet and upto Rs.20 lakhs per LPG agency.
The refining capacity has seen a substantial increase and now stands at the level of 110 million tonnes per annum (MMTPA). Apart from the large capacity private sector refinery of Reliance Petroleum Ltd. at Jamnagar, Koyali Refinery of IOC has been expanded by 3 MMTPA, Mangalore Refinery by 6 MMTPA, Mathura Refinery by 0.6 MMTPA. The commissioning activities of Visakh Refinery capacity expansion by 3 MMTPA are in progress. This has brought self-sufficiency to the country in the refining sector.
In keeping with the Government policy of disinvestment, GAIL shares were sold in the international GDR market which brought Rs.945 crores to the National Exchequer.
In order to have a long term policy in the sector, the Government is developing the Hydrocarbon Vision 2025. The Sub-Groups constituted on the different sectors have submitted their reports. The Group of Ministers constituted for this purpose, consisting of Ministers of Petroleum, Finance and External Affairs and Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission is currently in the process of finalising its Report. The Report will be finalised before 15th February 2000.
There has been a long-standing demand from the oil producing States for revising the royalty on crude oil. The rate of royalty has been revised from Rs.578/MT to Rs.750/MT or 20% of the well head value whichever is lower. This revision will be effective from June 1999 and will benefit Gujarat, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Arunachal Pradesh.
For strengthening the regulatory structure and processes on the upstream side, a high level inter-Ministerial Working Group has been constituted under the Chairmanship of Additional Secretary (P&NG). This Group will study and examine the regulatory structure and processes in other parts of the world and suggest suitable regulatory mechanisms for the Indian upstream petroleum industry.
In order to ensure better consumer service, quality product supply and improved safety measures at the retail outlets/LPG distributorships, the dealer commission has been revised w.e.f. 5.1.2000. The commission for petrol has been revised from Rs.413 to Rs.462 per KL, for diesel from Rs.224 to Rs.257per KL and for LPG from Rs.11.10 to Rs.13.83 per cylinder. The slab rates of commission for diesel have also been done away with.
In order to expedite the implementation of the LNG import projects of Petronet LNG Ltd., action has been taken for restructuring of equity in this company thereby paving the way for induction of NTPC as a partner. In the new structure 50% of the equity in this joint venture company will be shared equally between GAIL, ONGC, IOC, BPCL and NTPC.
The Oil Sector had a smooth rollover into the year 2000 by ensuring Y2K compliance by all its plants, machinery and equipment. We will launch Petroleum Website on 26th January 2000.
The Government has also successfully faced the transporters strike in the wake of hike in diesel prices. Similarly, it was ensured that the strike by the Officers in the Oil Sector on 11.1.2000 did not go beyond few hours and the detrimental consequences of a prolonged strike were avoided.
The above list is only indicative and it is not possible to list all the achievements that we have made during the last 100 days. We also propose to continue making efforts to achieve more in the coming months. Some of the issues which we would be attending to on a priority basis in the coming months are as follows:-
The list of some of the achievements during the last 100 days in the Petroleum & Natural Gas Sector are as follows:-
2. The above list is only indicative and it is not possible to list all the achievements that we have made during the last 100 days. We also propose to continue making efforts to achieve more in the coming months. Some of the issues which we would be attending to in the coming months are as follows:-
WORLD BOOK FAIR OPENS ON SATURDAY
The weeklong world book fair opens here on Saturday. It is scheduled to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and attended by the Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Israels reputed historian and South Asia Specialist Prof. Milton and Gyanpeeth Award Winner Dr. C. Narayana Reddy.
A wide variety of books catering to all age groups and taste will be on display and sale with a uniform discount of 10% . The Fair which has assumed larger proportions will be the biggest book event of Asia and Africa. Over 1,250 participants , 40 from abroad, will be taking part. The foreign participants will be from United States, U.K. Germany, Russia, Japan and France among others.
Addressing a Press Conference here today, the Chairman of the Book Trust, Dr. Sitakant Mahapatra said the Fair will have childrens literature as the central theme. Apart from a colorful range of childrens literature, there will be a number of literary activities for them. A Panorama of books and events will provide an insight into the achievements of the Indian publishing industry, he said. Some other important programmes envisaged during the fair include seminars and symposia.
The Fair will remain open on all days from 5th to 13th February, 2000, 11 AM to 8 PM.
'11' SHRI JAITLEY CONDEMNS KILLING OF DD STAFFER
The Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shri Arun Jaitley has condemned the killing of one Doordarshan staffer and a Police Guard by the terrorists in Srinagar yesterday. Terming this as a cowardly act of terrorists against innocent employees performing their duties, Shri Jaitley expressed his grief and conveyed his sympathy to the families of the victims. He also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh to the family of the deceased.
'28' SMT. JAYAWANTI MEHTA HOLDS TALKS WITH WORLD BANK OFFICIALS
Minister of State for Power Smt. Jayawanti Mehta led a team of power sector professionals and developers to USA to attend conferences in Washington DC on January 25 and New York on January 26, on the theme "Investment Opportunities in Transmission and Distribution with advantages of Convergence". The Minister also met the Managing Director and senior officials of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation to discuss the support of these institutions for the power sector in India. The Minister emphasized the full commitment of the Government of India to support and carry forward the reform process. This was evidenced by the strong handling of the power strike in Uttar Pradesh. The Government is looking forward for expanding investments in the hydel sector to correct the hydel thermal imbalance. She also called for a hydel initiative by the World Bank in India's power sector. The need for continuing Bank support to NTPC, Powergrid was also underlined. The Managing Director of the Bank assured full support of his organisation to the reform efforts in Indian power sector.
The Conferences organized in Washington DC and New York attracted considerable interest on the increasing opportunities in India's transmission and distribution network. Since Powergrid has announced its plan for associating with private sector companies for undertaking investments in telecommunication sector using the right of way available with the PGCIL, considerable scope exists for increasing revenues and achieving synergy in terms of investment and technology. Government of India is also committed to developing a more competitive power sector in India. The regulatory mechanism is already in place for attracting private investments into India's power sector. The Conference recognized that the experience of USA in convergence and competitive power markets could be usefully considered while taking similar initiative in India's Power Sector.
ANANT KUMAR TAKES OVER AS TOURISM MINISTER
Shri Anant Kumar, newly appointed Minister of Tourism has said that combining of culture with tourism will promote Tourism in real sense as Tourism is experiencing India's art, music and cultural heritage. Shri Anant Kumar said that beside 2.47 million foreign tourists, 167 million people criss cross the country every year. These domestic tourists are basically cultural tourists. Now, culture with tourism will facilitate this concept further. In the 50 years of history this is a great initiative.
Shri Anant Kumar has joined the Ministry in Place of Ms. Uma Bharati who resigned from the Union Cabinet recsently and will look after Department of Culture also in addition to Tourism.
STEPS TAKEN TO ENSURE THAT INCINERATORS ARE INSTALLED IN MAJOR HOSPITALS AND THE WASTE IS TREATED
The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri N.T.Shanmugam has said that bio-medical waste management has become a major issue due to proliferation of hospitals, nursing homes, blood banks mainly in the urban areas. Hospital waste is a potential source of infections, which may lead to diseases. Safe disposal of hospital waste, is also necessary considering emergence of diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis. There are also ethical issues involved with hospital waste as it involves human flesh and blood.
In his inaugural address at the symposium on Hospital Waste Management organized by Indian Medical Association, here today, the Minister has said that the Government has already taken steps to ensure that the incinerators are installed in major hospitals and the waste is treated. One of the problems associated with the treatment of bio-medical waste is that of expenses. He underlined the need for evolving a technology which is cost-effective and user-friendly. The Government is committed to provide a safe hygienic and clean environment to the people.
Dr.Prem Aggarwal, General Secretary of IMA and Dr.Vijay Aggarwal, Convenor of the Symposium have also addressed.
'31' GOVERNMENT IS EXAMINING THE FEASIBILITY OF INCLUDING HEPATITIS-B-VACCINE IN THE NATIONAL IMMUNIZATION PROGRAMME
The Union Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare, Shri N.T.Shanmugam has said that the Government is examining the feasibility and practicability of including Hepatitis-B-Vaccine in the National Immunization Programme as it involves a financial implication of about Rs.500 Crore. Talking to media persons here today, the Minister said that 70-80 per cent of deliveries are taking place outside the medical institution. As the Hepatitis-B-Vaccine has to be administered to the babies within 24 hours from the time of birth, it will be a difficult task to cover all the new born. In the back drop of indigenous production of Hepatitis-B-Vaccine, it will be less expensive in the days to come. As such the Department of Family Welfare of the Ministry has been considering this Vaccine for inclusion in the National Immunization Programme. With the assistance from the Ministry of Finance , this can be implemented initially in Delhi where the Government of National Capital Territory has already been implementing this programme. As for Central Government Health Service Dispensaries, their employees have already been covered by this Hepatitis-B-Vaccine Programme free of cost, since they are higher risk group.
Earlier, the Minister, Shri N.T.Shanmugam has visited the Lady Hardinge Hospital and newly constructed Kalavati Saran Hospital accompanied by senior officials of the Ministry and journalists. He has met the cross section of patients, Doctors and para medical staff. He has informed them that training programme for motivating the staff in discharging the duties better, will be imparted very soon. The newly constructed Rs.54 Crore Children Hospital with 150 beds and high-tech facilities, fully aided by Japan will be inaugurated by last week of next month of March. The present 80-year old buildings of the Lady Hardinge Hospital will be phased out and new buildings will be constructed in stages.
Director General of Health Services, Dr.S.P.Aggarwal and senior officials of the Ministry and senior doctors of the Hospital accompanied the Minister during his 2-hour long hospital rounds.
MARAN CLEARS FDI OF OVER Rs.402 CRORESShri Murasoli Maran, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has approved 31 cases of Foreign Direct Investment of about Rs. 402.42 crores, based on the recommendations of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). The proposals cover various sectors like consultancy services, investment services, computer software development, prospecting and exploration of minerals, Internet services, manufacture and export of garments, manufacture of machinery and equipments, etc. A list of proposals cleared is enclosed.
LIBERALISATION OF AIR SERVICES ARRANGEMENT BETWEEN INDIA - U.K.
The talks between the delegations of the Government of India and the Government of United Kingdom were held in New Delhi concerning the operation of air services to and from their respective countries. The delegations signed an agreement that represents a significant liberalisation of the air services arrangements between UK and India and will provide for additional capacity between the two countries. The main points of the Agreement are:
In addition, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic agreed to provide active and on-going assistance to Air India in their dealings with the slot co-ordinator at Heathrow.
It may be recalled that in December last year, Deputy Prime Minister of Britain had requested the Union Civil Aviation Minister Shri Sharad Yadav for talks on air services. Both sides had recognised the growth in demand for air services between and beyond their two countries which reflected the continuing economic growth in India and the UK.
'17'CREDIT GUARANTEE SCHEME FOR LOANS TO SMALL AND TINY INDUSTRIES
The Government of India is finalizing a Credit Guarantee Scheme for providing loans to the Small and Tiny Industries Sector up to Rs. 10 lakhs. By providing risk-sharing instruments, the scheme is expected to enhance the comfort level of banks in respect of tiny sector lending. It would also obviate the need of collateral security, which had been a problem area.
Addressing a SSI Seminar of Swadeshi Vigyan Mela at Indian Institute of Technology here today, the Minister for Small Scale Industries and Agro and Rural Industries, Smt. Vasundhara Raje said that this step is expected to result in larger credit flow to the tiny sector leading to a greater production and employment generation. Simultaneously, renewed thrust is being given to micro credit which has emerged as a powerful tool for empowering rural poor.
Smt. Vasundhara Raje, also revealed a proposal to launch an Interest Subsidy Scheme to help small and tiny industries for modernisation. The Ministry is also working on a major plan to strengthen the rural marketing set up by a revamping Khadi and Village Industries Commission sales outlets as also other marketing outfits in the cooperation fold. Smt. Raje said that marketing assistance is one of the immediate priorities as the small and tiny industries, though capable of producing quality products are facing a lot of problem in marketing their products for want of funds and marketing expertise, including access to a distribution and retail network.
The seminar was organised by Vigyan Bharati, Students for Development and Centre for Bharatiya Marketing Development.
REVENUE COLLECTION UP 16.91 PER CENT DURING JANUARY 2000
DIRECT TAX REVENUE REGISTERS 43.82 PER CENT GROWTH DURING JANUARY 2000
CORPORATION TAX UP BY 146.45 PER CENT IN JANUARY 2000
Total tax collection, both direct and indirect taxes, have amounted to Rs.125278.64 crore upto January, 2000 as compared to total collection of Rs.107136.43 crore during the same period (April-January) last year, thereby registering an increase of 16.93 per cent.
Total collection of direct taxes upto January, 2000 is Rs.36946.82 crore as against Rs.32087.74 crore upto January, 1999, an increase of 15.14 per cent.
The collection of income tax upto end of January, 2000 is Rs.16590.59 crore as compared to 13940.61 crore upto the end of January, 1999, showing an increase of 19.01 per cent. Collection of corporation tax upto January, 2000 is 19683.46 crore as compared to Rs.17054.20 crore during the corresponding period last year, an increase of 15.42 per cent.
Total collection of indirect taxes upto January, 2000 is Rs.88331.82 crore as compared to Rs.75048.69 crore upto January, 1999, an increase of 17.70 per cent.
The collection of excise duties upto end of January, 2000 is Rs.47686.33 crore compared to Rs.39946.89 crore upto January, 1999 registering an increase of 19.37 per cent. Collection of customs revenue upto January, 2000 is Rs.38340.39 crore as compared to Rs.32887.50 crore during the corresponding period last year, thereby registering a growth of 16.58 per cent.
Tax Collection During January 2000
Total collection of all taxes during the month of January, 2000 have amounted to Rs.11707.17 crore as compared to Rs.10013.73 crore during January, 1999, registering a growth of 16.91 per cent.
Total collection of direct taxes during January, 2000 is Rs.2338.45 crore as against Rs.1625.92 crore during the corresponding month of last year showing a growth of 43.82 per cent.
The collection of income tax during January, 2000 is Rs.1543.42 crore as compared to Rs.1213.93 crore during the corresponding month of last year showing an increase of 27.14 per cent. Collection of corporation tax during the month is Rs.754.67 crore as compared to Rs.306.22 crore during January, 1999, a growth of 146.45 per cent.
Total collection of indirect taxes during January 2000 is Rs. 9368.72 crore as compared to Rs.8387.81 crore during the same month last year representing an increase of 11.69 per cent.
The collection of excise duties during the month of January, 2000 is Rs.5351.70 crore as compared to Rs. 4637.82 crore collected during January 1999. Therefore, excise collection during January, 2000 is higher by 15.39 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year. The collection of customs revenue during January, 2000 is Rs. 3797.78 crore against Rs.3580.80 crore during January, 1999, a growth of 6.06 per cent.
INDIA TO HOST EXECUTIVE ASSEMBLY OF WORLD ENERGY CONGRESS
India will host the Executive Assembly 2000 of the World Energy Congress from November 19 to 24, 2000. Mr. Gerald Douset, Secretary General of the World Energy Council called on the Power Minister today. He is visiting India to hold discussions with the Indian Members Committee. Shri P.R. Kumaramanglam is the patron of the Indian Member Committee. Power Secretary, Shri V.K. Pandit will be the Chairman and Shri Rajinder Singh, CMD, NTPC the Member Secretary of the Indian Member Committee. Representatives of the Petroleum, Coal, MNES, GAIL, Institution of Engineers, ONGC, CII and FICCI are also in the Committee.
The WEC is the leading global multi-energy organisation with committees and activities in approximately 100 countries, including the largest energy producing and covering countries in the world.
The Minister of Power was confident that the Executive Assembly 2000 will be a grand event when nearly 500 energy policy makers and executives will address major energy issues at a time when the energy in India and the power sector is undergoing major reform and restructuring. The sector is getting increasingly investor friendly and more consumer oriented. Shri P.R. Kumaramanglam explained about the opening up of the Indian Power Sector in generations, to announce and distribution for private investments.
GOVERNMENT APPROVES SANKHYA VAHINI PROJECT
The Government has approved the Sankhya Vahini India Limited (SVIL) to provide high speed data access to educational institutions, private and public corporations, service providers, organisations and individuals for learning, training, research and other multi-media activities. The project is a joint venture company between the Department of Telecom Services (DTS) and IUNet, a wholly owned subsidiary company incorporated by Carnegie Mellon University, USA. It is proposed that the Ministry of Information Technology (MIT) and educational institutions in India would also participate in the Project. The company which will establish and operate nation wide data network will consist of a number of STM-16 rings with Dense Wave Length Division multiplexing to provide bandwidth ranging from 2.5 Gbps to 40 Gbps over the existing optical fibers of DTS.
The Government has taken the decision keeping in view the pace of development of IT sector all over the world and India's own commitment to give the sector a boost as also the need to deploy suitable cutting edge telecom and networking technology in the field of high speed data communication to help the country leap frog into the 21st century.
The authorised share capital of the company will be Rs.1000 crores. The initial issued, subscribed and paid up share capital will be Rs.300 crores. The proposed equity participation by IUNet, DTS, MIT and Educational Institutions is in the ratio of 49%, 45%, 2% and 4% respectively.
The SVIL Project will implement a very high speed data network connecting all the metro and major towns needing such connectivity from commercial and educational angle. The benefits will reach educational institutions, governments, research establishments, corporations, software companies and financial institutions, and individuals. A healthy cooperation between the service industry and the Educational Institutions in India in the Telecom sector is expected to emerge leading to larger gains to the society. Sankhya Vahini will invest in R&D and thus sustain the country's competitive edge in high-speed data networking. The network can be used very effectively for distance learning, tele-conferencing, setting up universal digital libraries and hazard and disaster management. Another area of future potential is E-Commerce where again, it is expected that Sankhya Vahini will provide the necessary platform for its rapid growth.
INITIATIVES BY DEPARTMENT OF TELECOM SERVICES DURING THE LAST THREE MONTHS
PRESIDENT CONDOLES DEATH OF USTAD ALLA RAKHA KHAN
In the passing away of Ustad Alla Rakha Khan an uncommon pulsation has been stilled. His wrists, palms and fingers produced from the tabla a percussion of magical quality, which maintained the tempo and tenor of India's uniquely assimilative musical culture. I join the nation in paying tribute to this genius as he joins the musical immortals of India. I offer my sincere condolences to the Ustad's talented sons who will, I am sure, keep alive the tradition set by Ustad Alla Rakha.
'21'ESTABLISHMENTS MANUFACTURING NUCLEAR FUEL, HEAVY WATER AND ATOMIC ENERGY DECLARED PUBLIC UTILITY SERVICE FOR ANOTHER SIX MONTHS
Industrial establishments manufacturing nuclear fuel and components, heavy water and allied chemicals and atomic energy have been declared public utility service under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 for another six months. These establishments were in public interest declared as public utility service for six months on August 26, 1999. This period is expiring on February 26, 2000. These establishments will now continue to be public utility service till August 26, 2000