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Today's Hot Stories - January 11, 2013

10 Headlines for Today

(1) SC quashes Karnataka Upa Lokayukta appointment
(2) PAC panel points out lapses in irrigation projects
(3) Pak blasts toll rises to 115
(4) Power, Coal Ministry to speed up NTPC coal blocks re-allocation
(5) SAT adjourns RIL-SEBI case till January 24
(6) India’s trade with China falls 12 %
(7) AITA snubs rebels, picks second-string team for Davis Cup |
(8) Cook, Bell put on record stand to pilot England to 325/4
(9) Saina loses in Korea Open quarters
(10) Women in black: burqa gets a makeovers

5 Stories for Today

(1) Announcement on ‘T’ before January 28, says Shinde
(2) Iran, U.N. envoy hold talks ahead of Geneva meet
(3) Govt not satisfied with Kingfisher’s investment plan
(4) Nokia launches 920 model
(5) Govt approves 14 FDI proposals worth over Rs 1,300 cr

(1) Announcement on ‘T’ before January 28, says Shinde

‘I have heard the views of eight political parties from Andhra Pradesh’

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has reiterated that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government would make some announcement on the separate Telangana issue before January 28.

Replying to queries at a press conference in New Delhi, he said he had heard the views of eight political parties from the State on December 28 last and promised to make an announcement within a month. “But I did not say this way or that way. There is nothing at this moment,” he said.

He said the government was consulting all the concerned apart from political parties and collecting necessary information so that something could be worked out before January 28. It was in receipt of various suggestions on what to do and what not to do. Asked what would be the decision, he merely smiled.

Replying to a query on the possibility of Hyderabad becoming a Union Territory, he said there was no discussion on the issue as yet. “There are several suggestions including those made by the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee and these will be looked into,” he added.

Speculation

Mr. Shinde’s latest statement assumes significance in the light of speculation among different sections in the State over the stand that would be adopted by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government on the long pending issue.

Expectations over the kind of announcement to be made by the Centre are divergent. Pro-Telangana parties such as Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have made it clear that they expect the Centre to make a firm announcement on separate Telangana.

On the other hand, speculation in the Congress circles hovers around a regional board, a special package and even another States Reorganisation Commission.

(2) Iran, U.N. envoy hold talks ahead of Geneva meet

Iran has held talks with Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N. and Arab League envoy on Syria, who is set to jointly hold talks with American and Russian officials in Geneva on Friday.

Mr. Brahimi’s meeting with William Burns, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, and Mikhail Bogdanov, Kremlin’s West Asia envoy, has generated speculation that a plan to defuse the Syrian crisis that is jointly engineered by Moscow and Washington, is in the works.

Late on Wednesday, Iran’s visiting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met Mr. Brahimi at Cairo. Iran’s Press TV reported that the two discussed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s roadmap for peace and Iran’s six-point plan to settle the unrest in Syria.

Rebels

Mr. Assad on January 6 had proposed a conference with the opposition, but insisted on the exclusion of the western-backed “rebels” and Jihadists, with al-Qaeda affiliation, in the dialogue. He stressed that the proposed talks were meant to write a constitution, which would come into force once the draft was approved during a national referendum. He also proposed the formation of an interim government and an initiative for reconciliation.

Iran has supported Mr. Assad’s plan, and Russia has stressed that the presidential proposals “must be given consideration”.

Russian Foreign Ministry officials hoped that the Geneva meet would yield a solution based on last June’s Geneva Communiqué and the President’s proposals.

The agreement had called for the formation of a transitional government, but did not seek Mr. Assad’s exit.

Resistance

The Russian and Iranian positions are expected to encounter resistance from the U. S. which has already rejected Mr. Assad’s plan.

Separately, without mincing words, Mr. Brahimi also trashed the Syrian initiative. Speaking to BBC, he said “what has come out is very much a repeat of previous initiatives that obviously did not work... it’s not really different and perhaps is even more sectarian and one-sided.

“The time of reforms granted magnanimously from above has passed. People want to have a say in how they are governed and they want to take hold of their own future.”

(3) Govt not satisfied with Kingfisher’s investment plan

Government is not satisfied with Kingfisher Airlines’ plans to invest Rs 650 crore to resume its operations as it may not guarantee an efficient and reliable service, a senior DGCA official said on Friday.

“We want an airline to operate in consistent, efficient and reliable manner. The revival plan, which was submitted by the airline, had lots of issues regarding lenders, staff payment which we felt may not lead to reliable services,” the official said.

Kingfisher Airlines plans to invest Rs. 650 crore as part of its plan to return to the skies. The airlines had lost its operating licence on December 31, 2012 and had stopped flying since October last year.

The official, not wishing to be named, said the revival plan filed by Kingfisher Chairman Vijay Mallya last month with the country’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) may not be sufficient to carry out a reliable service.

“The plan had no provision for payment of airport operators, who want their dues to be paid before the airlines starts flying again,” the official said.

The official said the payment plan of due salary and wages of staff was in a phased manner, which “we felt may not lead to reliable services.

“If the employees were not paid, then the staff may stop working again which may cause inconvenience to passengers. There should be no inconvenience to passengers,” the official said.

On Thursday, Mr. Mallya had written a letter to Kingfisher employees, who have not been paid for eight months now, after they threatened to file a winding up petition in the court under the Company’s Act if the management did not share its revival plan with them.

In his letter, Mr. Mallya said, “We have submitted a detailed restart plan to the DGCA which is in two parts. The first part deals with a limited re-start utilising 7 aircraft ramping up to 21 aircraft in 4 months. The second part is a full scale rehabilitation of our airline growing to 57 aircraft within 12 months of recapitalisation.”

The letter, however, did not mention anything about the payment schedule of dues of the employees, but it said that “both plans contain detailed information on key assumptions and funding requirements, including payment of outstanding salaries to employees.”

The airline has not paid to its employees since May last year.

The official also said that four of Kingfisher’s leased Airbus 320 aircraft had been deregistered by the DGCA on the request of lessor two years back.

Once India’s second-largest airline, Kingfisher is burdened with a loss of Rs 8,000 crore and a debt burden of another over Rs 7,524 crore, a large part of that has not been serviced since January.

(4) Nokia launches 920 model

Nokia has launched its full range of Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices in the Indian market.

Three models of Nokia Lumia were unveiled on Thursday. While the top of the line Nokia Lumia 920 and the Nokia Lumia 820 would be available in the market from Friday, the affordable model Nokia Lumia 620, targeted at the youth, would be launched in February, company officials said.

With the latest range of Lumia WP8 devices, Nokia said it was all set to lead the change for the Windows Phone ecosystem with its Lumia differentiators.

Nokia Lumia 920, priced at Rs.38,199, will be available in yellow, red, white and black while Nokia Lumia 820, priced at Rs.27,559, will come in red, yellow, cyan, white and black. The price for Nokia Lumia 620 has not been announced but it will come in magenta, yellow, cyan, white and black colours.

The company refused to divulge the number of phones it would sell this year.

Addressing via video conferencing, Nokia India Managing Director and Vice-President P. Balaji, said, “We are focussed on redefining the future of smart devices and continue to invest towards delivering truly compelling experiences to consumers across price points.

“The launch of Lumia 920 and 820 on WP8 has instantly catapulted Windows Phone into the high-end smartphone shoot-out with their unique innovations.”

(5) Govt approves 14 FDI proposals worth over Rs 1,300 cr

The government on Friday said it has approved 14 FDI proposals worth about Rs 1,311 crore including that of Hindustan Port Ltd.

“Based on the recommendations of FIPB in its meeting held on December 21, government has approved 14 proposals of foreign direct investment amounting to Rs 1,310.60 crore approximately,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

The proposal of Mumbai-based Hindustan Port Ltd to induct foreign funds worth Rs 440 crore for investment in downstream companies was among those cleared by FIPB.

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board, headed by Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram, has also allowed pharma firm Aanhaneya Lifecare to raise funds worth Rs 405 crore through issue of foreign currency convertible bonds.

Besides, the board has allowed Bangalore-based Syngene International to induct foreign equity of Rs 125 crore.

US-based Gavis Pharma LLC can also invest Rs 73.75 crore in an Indian company engaged in the business of manufacture of injectable products.

Other major proposals which were approved by the FIPB include Excedo Reality Fund-I to accept NRI investment worth Rs 210 crore, and that of Punjab-based pharma company Saurav Chemicals Ltd to issue fresh equity shares valued Rs 14.85 crore to foreign company.

Other proposals approved include that of Ordain HealthCare Global for acquisition of manufacturing facility for its group pharma company and that of Arshiya International to issue warrants.

FIPB has deferred six and rejected three proposals. The proposals which were deferred include that of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd to provide service support for radar systems and defence electronic systems.

Those rejected include proposal of Mumbai-based Fullife Healthcare for induction of foreign equity.




           
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