Gurgaon, Dec 12 (IANS) Four teenagers were arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 30-year-old working woman in Udyog Vihar Phase-I here, police said Wednesday.
According to police, the incident happened near Shani Mandir Tuesday around 7.30 p.m.
The victim, Veena (name changed), a native of Uttar Pradesh, works with an Udyog Vihar-based company and lives in Kapashera in Delhi with her brother Naveen (name changed).
While she was going home with her brother, four youths known to Naveen met them near Shani Mandir and started teasing her. When Naveen objected, saying she was his sister, they beat him and forced him to leave.
The accused then sexually assaulted her after beating her and fled.
Her brother called police.
After Veena’s medical examination in a government hospital, an FIR was lodged Tuesday night.
Police said the accused were Maha Singh, Harjit alias Hariya, Vivek alias Vikki, resident of Dundahera village, and Shahvan, resident of Haridwar in Uttarakhand. They were also working with companies in Udyog Vihar.
“We constituted four special police teams to nab the accused and arrested them within an hour. They are around 19 years old. Two of them were known to victim’s brother,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Surendra Pal Singh.
The attackers were presented in a city court Wednesday and sent to 14 days’ judicial custody.
New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) Two people were killed when a mini-truck and an autorickshaw collided here due to fog, police said.
Motilal, 60, and Jaiprakash, 24, died in hospital where they were taken after the collision around Tuesday midnight near Holambi Chowk in Narela area of north Delhi, police said.
They were going in the autorickshaw along with three others, police said.
A case of negligent and rash driving was registered against the mini-truck driver, officer added.
Bangalore, Dec 12 (IANS) Arch rivals India and Pakistan will clash in the T20 World Cup for the sightless Thursday as both teams cruised through semi-finals Wednesday, beating Sri Lanka and England respectively at the Central College ground here.
India piled up 318 runs for eight wickets in the stipulated 20 overs and restricted the Lankans to 195 for six wickets in their 20 overs to storm into the final by 123 runs.
In the other semi-final, Pakistan surpassed the modest target (182) by hitting 184 for loss of one wicket in just 12.2 overs after restricting England to 181 runs for nine wickets in their 20 overs.
Opting to bat first after captain Shekar Naik won the toss, India made a breezy start posting 78 runs in the first three overs as vice-captain Ajay Kumar Reddy (partially blind) carried his brilliant form to hit 134 off 55 balls, while Ketan Patel (totally blind) and Ganesh Bushara (partially blind) contributed valuable runs to make 54 in 31 balls and 59 not out in 25 balls.
Though in-form Prakash Jayaramaiah (partial vision) was out plumb while attempting an outlandish drive after posting 27 in eight balls with flurry of shots, the Indian batsmen accelerated the run rate, thanks to sloppy fielding and dropped catches in the outfield by the beleaguered Sri Lankans.
Chasing an imposing target of 319 runs, the Sri Lankans made a hash of their batting by losing wickets regularly and trailing behind in the run rate even in the slog overs.
Deshapriya (partial vision) waged a lonely battle for the Sri Lankans with an unbeaten 111 off 63 balls.
Reddy was adjudged man of the match for his century and two wickets for 23 runs.
Legendary former Lankan skipper Arjuna Ranatunga, who flew in to watch his team face off against the Indians said, blind cricket was a treat to watch the high commitment levels of the players, which is even more than that of many regular cricket players.
In the other exciting semis, England messed up its campaign and were outplayed by a surcharged Pakistan, whose in-form Mohammad Akram (partial vision) hammered 103 not out in 42 balls to reach the target in the 13th over, as he was ably assisted by Aamir Ishfaq (totally blind) with 36 not out in 22 balls and Aleem Murtaza (partially blind) scoring 29 in nine balls.
Pakistan won the semis by nine wickets.
Akram was declared man of the match.
Emotions ran high in a surcharged atmosphere in anticipation of an Indo-Pak final Thursday.
While the Pakistan contingent, fresh from emphatic win over England in the other semis, rent the ground with cries of “Pakistan Zindabad”, Indian fans responded with frenzy catch phrases “Jeetega bhai Jeetega, World Cup Jeetega!”
With both India and Pakistan in nick en route to the title clash, the stage is set for a cracker of a contest in the finale.
The players are classified into three categories – totally blind as B1, partially blind as B2 and with partial vision B3. Each team of 11 members comprises four blind (B1), three partially blind (B2) and four with partial vision (B3). The wicketkeeper is a B3 player.
Interestingly, for every run scored by the blind, one more is added. As a result, a hit to the boundary will be counted as eight and a sixer as 12.
New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) The Election Commission Wednesday expressed its “strong disapproval” of Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily’s remarks on raising the cap on LPG cylinder supply ahead of the Gujarat elections and asked him to be “circumspect in future.”
Moily, whom the commission Tuesday asked to explain his remark over LPG cap being increased from six to nine, in his reply to the commission Wednesday accepted that he made the announcement.
The commission said the remarks amount to violation of Model Code of Conduct as the first phase of the Gujarat elections are slated for Thursday. The second round is on Dec 17. Counting in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, where polls were held Nov 4, will be on Dec 20.
“..the commission hereby conveys its strong disapproval of your above action and cautions you to be circumspect in future,” the panel said.
In its letter to the minister, secretary Harbans Singh said that though he said that the government is yet to take a decision in the matter, it has emerged that the cap on the supply of the subsidized LPG cylinders is being raised from the present six to nine a family a year.
“The commission is of the considered view that your above mentioned reply amounts to announcement of promise of financial grant by the government, which the Model Code of Conduct prohibits during its operation when the election process is on,” the poll panel said.
The poll panel said that when the Model Code of Conduct becomes effective, ministers and other authorities cannot make any announcement of any financial grants.
It said the announcement is thus “a clear violation both of the letter and spirit of the Model Code of Conduct.”
In his reply to the commission that was submitted Wednesday morning, Moily said there has been widespread demand from all sections of society, particularly women, for raising the cap on supply of domestic LPG cylinders.
In an event Tuesday, Moily told reporters that the LPG cap is “likely to go up definitely from six cylinders to nine cylinders”.
The minister said the decision to raise the cap will be taken by the union cabinet “very shortly”.
The government had, in September, limited the supply of subsidised LPG to six cylinders per household in a year.
Subsidised cooking gas costs Rs.410.50 per 14.2 kg cylinder at present. Additional requirements have to be bought at the market price of Rs.931.
Moily said as the capping decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, it would also decide on raising the cap.
Asked about the time-frame for the decision, he had said: “I think as early as possible.”
The government will have to provide an additional Rs.9,000 crore per annum if the cap is raised.
The petroleum minister had said the government was working on a “certain formula” to neutralise the impact of any additional subsidy burden, and he has had two rounds of discussions with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on the issue.
New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) Impatient over the delay in passing a bill that promises reservations for Dalits and tribals in job promotions, the BSP Wednesday stalled both houses of parliament, directly attacking Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Hamid Ansari.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, apparently, tried to hit two birds with one stone by telling Ansari that running the house was his responsibility, and putting pressure on the government by asking her party members not to let the Lok Sabha run.
A day after Ansari suggested scrapping or shifting the question hour as members were regularly disrupting the proceedings, Mayawati stunned the Rajya Sabha by blaming the chairman for non-functioning of the upper house.
“I am not ready to listen to anything…,” Mayawati said, interrupting the question hour.
“…The house does not run after 12. You are the chairman of the house. It is your responsibility that the house is in order,” she said.
Certain comments which launched a direct assault at the chair were however expunged later.
Ansari said he was “upset” by the comments and it would be difficult for him to work in such conditions.
“I am upset, it will be difficult to work in such a situation,” he said told some members, according to an MP present in a meeting soon after the house was adjourned.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and several key leaders were present at the meeting.
According to highly-placed sources, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up Ansari after the incident and expressed his concern over the development.
Mayawati, however, defended her remarks and accused the government of not being serious about passing the promotion quota bill.
She said both the government and “BJP and company” had assured that the quota bill would be taken up after the house debated foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.
By convention, members do not cast personal aspersions on the chair.
The chairman presides over the question hour while zero hour and subsequent proceedings are generally conducted by the deputy chairman.
A cabinet minister, who did not wish to be named, called Mayawati’s outburst “pressure tactics”.
“She is using pressure tactics by disrupting the Lok Sabha over coal blocks issue so the government pushes the jobs quota bill,” the minister told IANS.
Both the Congress and the BJP, meanwhile, made calculated comments terming Mayawati’s remark on Ansari “unfortunate”.
“It is unfortunate (Mayawati made the remarks)…the chairman made certain observations Tuesday, we should watch our conduct,” Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Renuka Chowdhury told reporters.
BJP spokesperson Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said: “It is unfortunate. The government is responsible for the situation, it is because of their behaviour they (BSP) are behaving like this.”
The upper house has witnessed repeated disruptions over the past week over the constitution amendment bill on promotion quotas.
While the BSP is pressing the government to pass the quota bill so that Mayawati can showcase it as a victory to her voters in Uttar Pradesh, the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in the state is dead opposed to the legislation to keep its other backward classes vote bank intact.
The Congress is in a bind as both the SP and the BSP helped the United Progressive Alliance win in parliament the crucial vote on allowing 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail last week.
Congress managers have been trying hard to end the logjam over the jobs promotion quota bill but have achieved little success so far.
An all-party meeting called by Ansari failed to find a solution.
Government sources said they were still hopeful of working out a compromise formula but agreed that the SP was proving to be a tough customer.
The Congress tried to hit the middle ground by saying the bill was an emotive issue for both the SP and the BSP but said it was different from FDI in retail.
“It is an emotive issue in a large state like Uttar Pradesh but it is different from the FDI issue,” said Chowdhury.
The Congress also said it could not force its views on any other party (read the SP).
“It is not for us to spell out our stand and force it down on any other party,” she said.
Kochi, Dec 12 (IANS) A three-month festival of art, heritage and culture on a scale unseen in India before, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, began here Wednesday, 12/12/12, with a spectacular cultural event that included a mesmerising ‘panchavadyam’ (five-instrument) performance by 44 musicians.
Leading the inaugural festivities was Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at the imposing parade grounds in the heart of Fort Kochi, once used by the Portuguese to store arms and then by the Dutch and the British to conduct military drills.
The venue reverberated later again with the dazzling sounds of the orchestra of 44 musicians, led by maestro Panamanna Sasi, using traditional chendas (drums), ilathalam (cymbals), kuzhals (pipes), kombus (horns) and nadaswarams (Indian clarinet).
The grand finale and, indeed a treat to the ears, was a fusion between these 44 musicians and the resonant voice of New York- and Britain-based Mathangi Maya Arulpragasam, Sri Lankan-born artist and musician, better known as M.I.A., whose track for “Slumdog Millionnaire” was nominated for the Oscars.
“This event the first in India is a great honour for Kerala and our country,” Chandy said, adding it is gratifying that some 80 artists from 24 countries were participating.
“This biennale, I am sure, will alter our false notion that high art is for the elite and expect people to visit in large numbers. I also expect around 800,000 visitors during the three-month event,” he added.
Globally, the biennale as a form of celebration of art has a history that dates back to 1895, when Venice in Italy held one such event.
Since then, as the organisers of the Kochi festival state, it has seen some 150 editions across the globe.
For India, however, the Kochi event is the first.
Earlier in the day, 14 venues, all of which have a deep-rooted history, saw works of art exhibited by some 80 artists from India and abroad in formats and mediums such as installations, paintings, sculpture, music and films.
The artists — 22 of whom trace their roots to Kerala, an equal number from other parts of India and the rest from across the globe, are showing their talent at venues in different locations, spread over 300,000 square feet of this ancient port city, including the recently renovated British-era warehouse, the Aspinwall House.
The big names from overseas include Ariel Hassan from Argentina, Amanullah Mojadidi from Afghanistan, Rigo 23 from Portugal, Joseph Semah, an Israeli based in Amsterdam, Ernesto Neto from Brazil, and Jonas Staal from the Netherlands.
Representing India is the cutting edge art of Kerala-born painter Velu Paris Viswanathan, who is now in his home state and has recreated his four-decade-old masterpiece showing the essence of human life through grains of sand.
Joining him are artists including Subodh Gupta, Sheela Gowda and Vivan Sundaram.
“It was an interesting challenge for both M.I.A. and me,” said Sasi. “There is a big difference in our cultures, art and language. But in the end we have succeeded,” the maestro from Palakkad, which has produced several artistes like him, said.
The art extravaganza here has been brought together by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, with Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu as co-curators.
Kochi has also already been declared a Biennale City and the event will be held every two years in different forms and formats.
“Through the celebration of contemporary art from around the world, Kochi Muziris Biennale seeks to invoke the historic cosmopolitan legacy of the modern metropolis of Kochi, and its ancient predecessor, the port of Muziris,” Krishnamachari said.
“This is a non-commercial project. The exhibits are open to all. The programme of events will run for three months, closing on 13/03/13. The Biennale will then take place every two years in Kochi and Muziris,” Krishnamachari said.
Kolkata, Dec 12 (IANS) Trinamool Congress legislator Sikha Mitra Wednesday admitted being apprehensive about attending the West Bengal assembly following fisticuffs between members of her ruling party and the opposition.
“I don’t know which party was involved, but whoever has done it is highly deplorable. It was a heinous act and should be condemned. After the incident, I am highly apprehensive about attending the assembly,” said Sikha Mitra, who is the wife of Trinamool Congress MP Somen Mitra.
Mitra’s comments come a day after the assembly witnessed a scuffle between ruling Trinamool Congress and opposition Left Front members that left three legislators hospitalised.
The legislator from Chowringhee constitency in Kolkata also refused to abide by the party’s diktat that important functionaries, ministers, parliament and assembly members seek permission in advance from the party before speaking to the media. She called the directive “a Talibani fatwa”.
“I do not live in a land where I will have to abide by a Talibani fatwa. I am not sorry for my comment and I stick to what I said. I stated the truth and have no qualms in saying what is true. There are many such truths to be said,” she said.
“Why should I be sorry? I am answerable only to the people who have elected me and no one else. If we the elected representatives indulge in fistfights, then how can we have the moral right to judge the wrongs committed by the common man? Who will judge our follies?” Mitra added.
“I have not received any official communication as of yet and can only comment after I get it,” Sikha said about media reports which claimed she was suspended from the party for her outburst.
The legislator earlier attracted the party’s wrath when she filed a defamation case against her party leader and state industries minister Partha Chatterjee.
Chatterjee allegedly had made defamatory remarks earlier this year against Sikha Mitra after she attended a programme at the rival Congress’ headquarters in the city.
New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) “Something should be done to reduce…human sufferings,” Pakistani doctor Mohammad Khalil Chisty, a life convict set free by the Supreme Court in a 1992 murder case, Wednesday said seeking help for other convicts like him in both countries.
“In my opinion the justice system in our countries (India and Pakistan) is a lengthy process…something should be done to reduce the time (involved in deciding the cases) and to check the human sufferings,” he said, after the court allowed him to return to his country.
Saying that he was glad that he finally got justice from the Supreme Court, Chisty said: “Khuda ke ghar mein der hai, andher nahin.”
“I am, by training and birth, a Muslim who believes in the supremacy of Allah and Allah will not let me down,” he said.
He wished that the people of India and Pakistan should “live in a friendly manner and minor differences should not make them forget that once they were related to each other”.
Besides going back to Karachi, Chisty is also looking forward to revisiting Ajmer. “Yes I will (come again). Don’t forget it (Ajmer) is my birth place,” said the octogenarian.
Chisty said that all through his five-month stay in Pakistan, allowed during the pendency of his petition before the apex court, he was “haunted by the prospects of the worst”, if things did not go in his favour in the hearing of his appeal against the life sentence given to him for a murder he committed in Rajasthan.
On being told that he had not been acquitted but his conviction and sentence had been modified, Chisty said: “I don’t know what legal terminology is. As an ordinary person, I believe in result and not procedure.”
Saying that he would not have a hitch in coming back to India, Chisty said right now he just wanted to get back to his home in Karachi and spend some time with his family and his grand-children.
On going back to the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty in Ajmer, near which the murder took place, he said: “It is not the place that matters. The place is a piece of land and bricks. I belong to him (saint). He is a mediator between us and the God.”
Chisty praised his wife Mehrunisa who not only shouldered the burden of his family in the last 20 years but also arranged money for his bail.
The man who waged a two-decade legal battle overcame two heart attacks and a hip fracture during the period.
Bangalore, Dec 12 (IANS) Over 7,000 tickets for the first India-Pakistan T20 tie at Chinnaswamy stadium here Dec 25 will be sold online from Thursday, former Test cricketer and Karnataka State Cricket Stadium (KSCA) secretary Javagal Srinath said.
Maximum tickets for public – 7,187 – will be sold online at www.bookmyshow.com for stands across the stadium at different fares, while 5,500 tickets for gallery stands, priced at Rs.250, will be sold Dec 21 through counters at the stadium,” Srinath told reporters.
Online tickets are priced between Rs.1,600-15,000, with those for corporates priced at Rs.12,500 and executive lounges at Rs.6,000, and terrace seats at Rs.9,000.
Though the stadium in the city centre facing the famous Cubbon Park boasts of 35,533-seat capacity, only 12,687 seats are available to the general public, as the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) has to provide the remaining seats to various associations, clubs, boards and VIPs.
“Of the total seats, 2,800 are reserved for KSCA members, 3,600 for cricket clubs, 3,400 for other cricket associations, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) 2,673, corporates 3,705, complimentary tickets 6,168 and the remaining for our staff and officials,” Srinath said.
Tickets for about 500 fans from Pakistan will be issued through the PCB.
Police will provide security. “As per the guidelines, the stadium will be handed over to the city police for sanitising and making fool-proof security arrangements…movement of fans will be regulated and restricted,” KSCA president and former ace leggie Anil Kumble said.
The match between the arch rivals will be played in the night from 7 p.m. onwards on Christmas day.
A four-member Pakistan official team visited Bangalore Dec 3 to inspect security and other arrangements being made for their team and their fans in the city.
About 500 Pakistani fans have been given visa to witness the two T20 matches and three one-dayers between the two countries. In addition, high profile persons, including former Pakistan players, will also be visiting India as PCB guests to watch the matches.
The second T20 will be played at Ahmedabad in Gujarat Dec 27 and the three one-dayers in Chennai Dec 30, Kolkata Jan 3 and New Delhi Jan 6.
New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday launched memoirs of former Chief Justice of India P.N. Bhagwati at an event at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The memoirs – titled ‘My Tryst With Justice’ – provide an insight into Justice Bhagwati’s career spread over many years as an advocate, judge and chief justice.
Highlighting and admiring Bhagwati’s achievements, the president said that he “humanised law” and proved how judges can be instrumental in helping the poor and backward.
“His contribution and continued efforts to improve justice system in India are remarkable through his judgments. He made justice more accessible for the poor,” said Mukherjee.
Bhagwati’s daughter Pallavi, speaking on behalf of her father, said that his spiritual learnings helped him a lot while passing judgments.
Also present at the event were External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Minister of Law and Justice Ashwani Kumar and Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir.
Bhagwati was appointed the 17th Chief Justice of India July 1985 and held that office till December 1986. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2007.
New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) A day before the Gujarat assembly poll, Chief Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday stirred a hornet’s nest by writing to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against handint over Sir Creek to Pakistan. In a strong rebuttal, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said the claims are “unsubstantiated” “untrue” and “mischievous”.
In his letter, signed as “a concerned citizen”, the Gujarat chief minister said: “I am writing on a serious issue of talks being held on Sir Creek being handed over to Pakistan. Any attempt to hand over Sir Creek to Pakistan would be a strategic blunder considering the history and sensitivity of the region.”
The two-time Gujarat chief minister, said : “I would earnestly request you to stop this dialogue with Pakistan at once and Sir Creek should not be handed over to Pakistan.”
“I am writing to you at this juncture as I was told that a decision is being taken on Sir Creek issue on December 15,” Modi said in the letter.
He asked the prime minister to “stop taking any decision on this issue”.
Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik is likely to visit India December 14-16 for talks on the demarcation of the Sir Creek, among other issues.
In a strongly worded rebuttal, the PMO said : “The prime minister has received a letter dated 12th December 2012 from Narendra Modi, making unsubstantiated allegations and statements about discussions with Pakistan on the Sir Creek issue.”
“The contents of the letter and the timing of its release to the public, even before it was formally received in this office, raise questions about the motives behind its issue. The writing and release of this baseless letter by the Chief Minister of Gujarat in his ‘personal’ capacity, a day before elections in the state, is mischievous,” it added.
The first phase of the Gujarat elections are slated for Thursday, while the second phase is on Dec 17. Counting is on Dec 20. Modi, a senior BJP leader, who has been the chief minister of the state for two terms, is tipped to return to power once again.
The PMO also said the discussions with Pakistan had been carried out by successive Indian governments since the dialogue process began in 1998 and continued after former prime minister and Bharatitya Janata Party (BJP) leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore in 1999.
“The allegation in the letter that Sir Creek is about to be given to Pakistan is untrue. Therefore, the other conclusions drawn by Modi from this alleged fact are also not real,” the statement said.
“It also seems that Modi has written his letter without making any efforts to ascertain the facts from the government of India,” it added.
Sir Creek is a 96-km-long disputed area between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands, which opens up into the Arabian Sea. The Sir Creek divides the Kutch region of Gujrat and Pakistan’s Sindh province.
The marshy waterbody has been under dispute with the two countries and India and Pakistan have been discussing the issue for quite a long time.
In his letter, Modi said Sir Creek has been settled 100 years back between rulers of Kutch and Sindh.
“Even the tribunal verdict in 1968 headed by the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson shows Pakistan getting only 10 per cent of its claim of 9,000 sq kms of this border area,” he said.
“Handing over Sir Creek to Pakistan will totally open up Gujarat border with Pakistan. I was given to understand that recently Pakistan carried out a joint operation of their army, airforce and navy code named Sea-spark-12, almost one month ago very near to Sir Creek,” the chief minister alleged.
“Handing over Sir Creek to Pakistan will give them more control over the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the sea. This will be a permanent threat to fishermen of Saurashtra and Kutch area and also to the vital installations and major industrial installations like refineries and ports,” he said.
“Handing over Sir Creek to Pakistan will endanger our energy security as Kutch, Saurashtra and North Gujarat has vast potential of oil and gas both off shore and onshore,” he said.
“At no point in the entire process has the Gujarat government been consulted. In a similar case of Teesta agreement with Bangladesh, West Bengal Chief Minister was consulted and the agreement was cancelled,” he added.
“After the elections are over in Gujarat, I shall seek your time to discuss this issue with you,” he added.
Kolkata, Dec 12 (IANS) Coal India Ltd. (CIL) Wednesday said it would appoint an independent international agency to check the quality following a long brawl with India’s major power producer NTPC over its coal quality and signing the fuel supply agreement (FSA).
“We will appoint a third party for sampling and quality check of coal for the first time. The agency will be an alternative for joint-sampling, which we currently do with all of our customers,” CIL chairman and managing director S. Narsing Rao told reporters after the coal major’s board meeting here.
“This will not just be the case with NTPC but with all customers. Within the next two-three months we will invite bids to appoint the international agency in this regard,” Rao said.
Power major NTPC had earlier repeatedly raised its concern over various quality issues and “inflated prices” of the coal behemoth.
After a long tussle with Coal India, NTPC, however, two days ago decided to enter into FSA with the firm within a month.
The public sector power utility’s move came irrespective of any major breakthrough in the company’s demand for a revision in FSA terms. However, Rao maintained Wednesday that as far as the FSA was concerned, there would be no change in the draft.
Although the Prime Minister’s Office had set a deadline for power producers and the public sector CIL to sign the FSA by November, only 33 companies have signed the accord till now.
Meanwhile, Rao said Coal India was awaiting a green signal from the central cabinet to allow it to extract coal-bed methane (CBM) gas from its leasehold mining areas.
“There are a series of discussions in the ministries to entrust it (extraction of CBM) to CIL and we would be doing it. The process requires approval from cabinet,” he said.
On the extraction of CBM gas, the new area of operation that the CIL may soon venture into, the CMD said it has already suggested to the central government that the company was not in favour of allowing other firms to extract the gas from its own leasehold mining areas,” Rao said.
“While the marketing aspect would be regulated by government policy, for extraction we have suggested that there would be no other bidder. CIL authorities are already doing mining within their leasehold areas and there are practical problems and issues of safety if somebody else comes in,” he added.