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Aug 07 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
OUT OF SIGHT LEAVES SLUM DWELLERS OUT OF MIND
 
 
 

As govt moves to resettle 30,000 more families, activists fear repeat of past mistakes

By the beginning of 1970,the population of Chen nai, or Madras as it was then known, reached 25 lakh, of which more than 10 lakh people lived in what the city authorities called `slums'. As early as the 70s, authorities were unable to keep pace satisfying the civic needs of the slum population that provided the city's work force ­ daily wage earners, housemaids, construction labourers and so on.

Some ten years back the government started resettling the slumdwellers in new apartments constructed in Perumbakkam and Kannagi Nagar, but without a proper rehabilitation package that would include schools and job opportunities. Over 21,000 families today live in these tenement towns, but the people there need to commute to the city for livelihood. The local schools can handle only 10% of the resettled children.

Studies have shown that more than half of the slum dwellers were relocated from their livelihood without prior notice. No legal notices were issued. Some 38% of the evictions were carried out during the mid-academic year, disrupting the academic life of thou sands of children. Many said they lost their property back in the city as they had little time to prepare for their move. Studies by NGOs have shown that school dropout rates and crime levels are up in the colonies, as a result.

Recently , chief minister Jayala lithaa announced in the assembly that the government is building 10,000 new flats in Chennai and other cities to resettle slumdwellers. In the coming months, the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) would be relocating over 31,912 households in the city to the newly constructed flats in the existing sites.

Even as the city is set to see a massive slum resettlement operation this year, activists fear that the mistakes of the past will be repeated. While the state agencies should be ideally cracking their heads at this point on facilitating a better life for the new batch of settlers, no such efforts are visible at these sites other than construction, say researchers.

Vanessa Peter, policy researcher at the Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities says: “What we need is comprehensive legislation ensuring the living rights of slumdwellers and an inclusive system for people who actually sustain this city ,“ she said.

But R Palaniswamy , the new managing director of TNSCB, is optimistic that many of the mistakes of the past would be corrected. He says the quality of living, security and the provision of basic needs in Kannagi Nagar have improved a lot in the last three years. “At a time when we are beginning the next phase of the resettlement process, comm u n i t y d eve l o p m e n t p ro grammes are going to play a crucial role to improve the system. We are also studying better models of slum resettlements implemented elsewhere. Besides improving the quality of living, social security systems including job opportunities in the companies in the vicinity and skill training programmes are all being planned,“ he said.

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Aug 07 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
31 firms yet to transfer 9 acres of OSR land
Chennai:
 
 
 
 
As many as 31 large establishments in the city are yet to transfer more than 9 acres of land to the corporation under open space reservation (OSR) rules, says a letter sent by the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA).

In a recent council meet, mayor Saidai S Duriasamy said he had written to CMDA on the number of OSR violations. In its reply on July 30, CMDA said 31 large establishments in areas like T Nagar, Mylapore, Alwarpet and Perambur had violated the rules in the past few years.

According to the rules, developers of complexes between 3,000 sq m and 10,000 sq m should keep aside 10% of the land for parks or playgrounds and hand over gift deeds of the properties to the corporation through CMDA. The civic body will also check complaints against malls, hotels and several government departments that have violated OSR rules.

“We have decided to take stringent measures to recover OSR lands. We will conduct a field verification exercise to ensure the pieces of land are not encroached upon. All recovered lands will be converted into parks for the benefit of public,” said a corporation official.

A 2010-11 audit report of CMDA annual accounts found that more than 15,000 sq m of OSR land were not transferred to local bodies in 2011. According to corporation records, of the 578 identified OSR lands, parks were set up in 152 places.

While 161 parks were set up during 1991-2006, 99 parks were set up during 2006-11.

Sources say several OSR lands are being used for private purposes and also encroached upon due to lack of records. All the corporation’s land holdings are to be managed by the parks and land and estates departments but both are suffering from a staff crunch.

V Gopalakrishnan, an RTI activist, said OSR violations were rampant. “For instance, the Tamil Nadu Housing Board is yet to transfer an OSR land at Sathyamurthy Block in West Jafferkhanpet despite several petitions. ” He added that the corporation should put up a list of OSR lands on its website.



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Aug 07 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
PEDESTRIAN RIGHTS - 'Parking fares should be linked to real estate rates'
Chennai:
 
 
 
 
Parking rates in a locality should correspond to real estate rates there, said environmentalist and writer Sunita Narain, in Chennai on Wednesday .

“Why should parking be so cheap or free? Can we run offices like that?“ she said at a meeting organised by Transparent Chennai, a non-governmental organisation

working for sustainable transport. The lecture was part of a series in memory of Kadambari Badami, an urban planner working with Transparent Chennai who died in an accident earlier this year.

In Chennai, close to 40% of all road accident victims are pe destrians. Narain advocated the right to walk and said cities should be built keeping pedestrians in mind first and then make space for cars. “The right to walk is the right to breathe.
Five years ago, traffic police in Delhi wanted flyovers and ring roads for smooth traffic. But ask any of them now, they would want signals and speed breakers and other speed-calming measures. The Chennai police may be a few years behind and may still want flyovers,“ she said.

The chief minister in the assembly announced at least 12 new flyovers for the city at a cost of Rs 1,750 crore. Apart from this, there are plans for two elevated roads that are more than 40km--from Chengalpet to Tirusulam and from Madhya Kailash to Mammallapuram. The corporation has taken up 71 roads to lay wide footpaths. TNN



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Aug 07 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Coming soon: Old bldgs as movie halls
Chennai:
 
 
 

15 AC Amma Theatres In Community Halls; Tickets To Be Priced Below Rs 25

By year-end, you may find yourself walking into one of the now unused buildings in your neighbourhood to watch a movie. Corporation officials have identified land and buildings in several neighbourhoods to set up airconditioned Amma theatres that will offer tickets at less than `25.

With a target of having one Amma theatre in each of the 15 zones in the first phase, the civic body is looking to convert some of its old unused buildings including community halls. Nungambakkam, Ramapuram, Mint, Anna Nagar, Harbour, Maduravoyal and Perungudi will be among the first neighbourhoods to get Amma theatres.

After mayor Saidai S Duraisamy made the announcement in the corporation bud get for 2014-15, officials have been identifying land and buildings for the theatres. A corporation official said, “We are studying the space and location in each zone. Tenders will soon be issued to set up the theatres.“

He said only `U' certified Tamil movies would be screened in these theatres.
“The theatres will be airconditioned, will have advanced sound systems and show the latest movies. It will provide entertainment for residents at an affordable cost,“ the official said.

“Land for the theatres in outlying areas is not a prob lem. But it is difficult to get space in the city . But we are in the process of finalising unused space in the city ,“ the official said.

Not everyone, however, is enthused by the move. R Panneerselvam, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors' Association, said there was a huge decline of audience in theatres because of pirated CDs and satellite TV .
“The number of theatres in Tamil Nadu has reduced from 2,600 in 1984 to 1,160 now. Last week, three theatres closed down in the state. Multiplexes in shopping malls are surviving by selling food products at high rates,“ he said.

Kollywood movie buffs, especially students, have welcomed the move. “I am excited about these Amma theatres.
Where else can I watch movies for less than `25 in an airconditioned cinema hall? But I hope they also maintain them well.

Since the tickets come at a subsidized rate, miscreants and drunkards may find a haven there,” said Arun Kumar, a Vijay fan.

Some residents are sceptical about the move. “I am not sure if the government has its priorities right,” said V Prakash, a resident of Kodambakkam. “The civic body should concentrate on good roads, public toilets and other basic amenities which would help all strata of people.” The corporation official said Amma theatres would offer more than entertainment.

“Recently, the civic body screened the biopic of mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan for 5,000 students of corporation schools in private theatres. Such inspiring movies would be screened for students in Amma theatres,” the official added.

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Aug 07 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
TN tourism still treads THE TEMPLE TRAIL
 
 
 

State Attracts Many Tourists, But Yet To Promote Destinations, Tap Revenue

Tamil Nadu may have topped in attracting domestic tourists and ranked second in drawing foreign tourists but the state government is yet to tap this potential to translate the visits into revenue. Promotion has not gone beyond temple tourism and the government is yet to include the private sector. In neighbouring states, brand building by the government and investment by the private sector has generated jobs and benefitted communities.

In contrast, Tamil Nadu tourism's marketing initiatives are limited to advertisements about Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) hotels and tours on Google and messages on mobile phones and Facebook, as per plans for 2014-15 set out in the policy note on tourism, presented in the state legislature on Tuesday .
Brand promotion includes a plan to rope in brand ambassadors but the government has not fixed a deadline for the initiative.

The policy note for 2012-13 listed “adventure tourism, niche tourism (golf, billiards, polo and skiing), cruise tourism, ecotourism, sea tourism (sea planes, aeroplanes, hovercraft)“ as new segments. Even the more realistic ideas relating to ecotourism and adventure tourism have taken off.

TTDC's profits have declined from 16.3% in 2012-13 to 11.9% in 2013-14 though there is a marginal increase in turnover, which officials say was mainly from income from exhibitions and sale in restaurants and bars at its hotels.
Room occupancy has declined.

Experts say the government should brand the state, allow private entrepreneurs to invest and create an environment sensitive to the needs of tourists. UN World Tourism Organisation has spelt out community development as a goal for tourism promotion. “Each time we travel, use local transport or buy products from a local market, we are contributing to a value chain that creates jobs, provides livelihoods, empowers local communities, and ultimately brings in new opportunities for a better future,“ said UNWTO secretarygeneral, Taleb Rifai in his world tourism day message in June.

It's not a message TTDC has taken note of. Tourists who visit Tamil Nadu are at a loss for connectivity and clear information.
Tourism assistance booths are not run efficiently at airports, bus stands and railway stations.

“In the domestic circuit, most tourists will be pilgrims. The stress on temples sometimes bores foreign tourists. The government should focus on promoting different spots and allow private players a stake instead of trying to control the sector,“ said M K Ajith Kumar, president, Asia Pacific Tours.

“TTDC is renovating hotels but doing nothing to ensure repeat customers. Management of a few were outsourced but there are no checks on them,“ said a former tourism department official.

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Aug 07 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Chennai's trees are finally free from the death grip of concrete
Chennai:
 
 
 
 
Trees in the city will no longer choke on concrete. The corporation on Wednesday submitted a report to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on steps taken to free trees from layers of concrete around them, and from wires and ad boards.

Chennai resident P Edwin Wilson moved the southern bench of NGT seeking a direction to remove concrete laid around trees. The concrete hinders the absorption of water by trees and ultimately results in their death, he said. On June 14, a vacation bench of the NGT passed a order directing the civic body to act on the issue. When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday ,M S Pingale, joint commissioner (works), said in conso nance with the directions of the NGT, all zonal officers had been instructed to ensure that “concrete/bitumen within 1 metre of trees“ was removed.

The civic body filled the area around trees with sand or gravel to enable them to absorb water better so the environment at large would be protected. The corporation removed concrete around trees on Balfour Road, Ormes Road, Luz Avenue, Kilpauk Garden Road, Beach Road, in Besant Nagar and near Nageswara Park, and on 4th Main Road, Adyar, Gandhi Nagar. The corporation will also remove signboards and advertisements nailed to trees.

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Aug 06 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Ancient temples help Tamil Nadu top tourism chart
Chennai
 
 
 
 
The rich temple heritage of Tamil Nadu is bringing in tourists by droves. For the first time, the state topped in domestic tourist arrivals, and came a close second after Maharashtra in foreign tourist arrivals.

A state government report said while 25 crore domestic tourists visited popular temple towns in Tamil Nadu in 2013, the number of foreign tourists from the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy touched 39.9 lakh.

The culturally rich temple cities and towns, including Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai, Thanjavur, Trichy, Madurai and Ramanathapuram, drew foreigners in large numbers. The world heritage site of Brihadeeswarar Temple or Big Temple in Thanjavur, the towering Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple in Madurai, the Kamatchi Amman Temple in Kancheepuram and Rockfort/Uchi Pillaiyar Temple in Trichy were

some of the biggest draws.

Encouraged by the huge tourist arrivals, the state government has drawn up an ambitious plan to strengthen facilities in temple towns. “We have kept a target of getting 1.5 crore foreign tourists by 2023,“ tourism minister S P Shunmuganathan told the assembly on Tuesday .

Mohit Gupta, chief business officer -holidays, MakeMyTrip, said the state had become an ideal destination for those seeking a relaxing holiday . As the state is blessed with natural beauty , stunning botanical and horticultural gardens, beach resorts, impressive waterfalls and zoological parks, tourists seeking a relaxing holiday find Tamil Nadu an ideal destination. “Unlike the northern states, Tamil Nadu has good hotels because many international hospitality brands have turned set up shop here,“ he said.

Hill stations like Ooty , Kodaikanal and Yercaud, heritage attractions, beaches, wildlife sanctuaries and adventure tourism sites lure domestic tourists throughout the year. Cox and Kings team leader (south) M G Babu said the spurt in foreign tourist arrivals could be attributed to the desire to explore the land of temples and its striking features.

“Lot of Spanish and French tourists visit Tiruvannamalai for a spiritual experience,“ he said. A world heritage site, Mamallapuram, a Pallava splendor with rock-cut caves and monolithic free standing temples, has been a big attraction among foreigners.

Rural tourism is picking up pace, say tour operators. If Spanish arrive during mid-year, other Europeans hang about during monsoon, while Americans and Brit ish love the winter of Tamil Nadu. Padmanabapuram palace of the erstwhile Tra vancore kings in Nagercoil and Ramanathasamy Tem ple in Ramanthapuram are on the must see-list. For do mestic tourists, Chennai re mains their favourite in north and Kodaikanal in the south.

Public representatives point to lack of amenities that still keep away visitors.

CPM MLA R Annadurai urged the government to provide toilets, cloak room facilities, handbooks on the signifi cance of sites and maps and engage guides. Pulicat lake, a paradise for wetland birds, still does not have facilities for tourists. “Cable cars can be explored for hill stations like Ooty , Kodaikanal, Yer caud, Kollimalai and Yelagi ri. Ports can be roped in to promote tourism,“ he said.

The Sri Andal temple in Srivilliputhur, the tower of which depicted in TN's offi cial logo, lacked even basic amenities. “We have to make amenities better and identi fy new destinations to at tract more tourists,“ said CPI MLA K Ulaganathan.

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 Aug 06 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
OVER 1L HAWKERS UNREGISTERED - City fails to rein in hawkers despite SC order
Chennai:
 
 
 
 
While cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune have constituted town vending committees (TVC) to demarcate hawking spaces and prevent hawkers from encroaching upon road space, Chennai Corporation is yet to regulate hawkers despite the Supreme Court order to this effect in September last.

The Lok Sabha passed the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill on September 6 and three days later, the SC asked all states to form TVCs within two months and register vendors in four months.

The Street Vendors Bill sets the maximum number of hawkers in a city at 2.5% of its total population.
Chennai, with a popula tion of 65 lakh, can have up to 1.62 lakh hawkers or an additional 50,000. The corporation will have to register all of them and provide them with dedicated hawking spaces and identity cards. The city has 3,966 registered hawkers, but more than a lakh others have no licence.

A TVC has to be set up under the chairmanship of the municipal commissioner. Besides the 40% hawker union presence, 10% of the commit the commit tee will be members from NGOs and the remaining 50% will be made up of bureaucrats, police and other authorities.

The new policy says hawkers will be rehabilitated in a systematic manner in areas that will be demarcated as hawking and non-hawking zones. The criterion for mark ing hawking zones is that they should not affect pedestrian movement in the area.

V Maheswaran, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Street Vending Workers Federation, said, “The corporation doesn’t have any right to evict hawkers from the roadsides till licensing, registration and hawking zone demarcations are completed.” The civic body has also failed to act on the Madras HC directive to regulate hawkers on Marina and Elliot’s beaches. Corporation officials said they are yet to get an instruction from the state government on setting up of TVCs.

 
 
 

 



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Aug 06 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Temple land worth Rs.1,700cr recovered from encroachers
Chennai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
In a huge reclamation drive carried out over the past three years, the state government has retrieved 1,565 acres of temple land worth `1,700 crore from land sharks and encroachers. Temples and charitable trusts are among the biggest landlords in the state and a sizeable share of their landed assets is encroached upon.

About 14 acres of residential land and buildings on about four acres of land were also retrieved from illegal occupants, Hindu religious and charitable endowments minister P Chendur Pandian told the assembly on Tuesday . In the last financial year, `930 crore worth of properties, including 1,167 acres of cultivated land, were taken back from illegal occupants.

As the government updated land registers, it came to light that several thousand acres of temple land were wrongly transferred in the names of private individuals. In the three years since the AIADMK government assumed office, 2,790 acres belonging to 357 temples were restored to their owners, said Pandian. The deeds and other records were fraudulently transferred in the names of land sharks. Revenue records of about 1,790 acres of land belonging to 169 temples were set right during the last financial year.

In Kanyakumari district, Killiyur MLA John Jacob of Congress said, land belonging to nearly 400 temples was now in the possession of private individuals. But CPM's R Annadurai said many people who occupied temple properties for shelter and livelihood would suffer if evicted and urged the government to target only the affluent. The rich who occupy temple land should be made to pay its commercial value to continue to occupy the land. This would help the state earn additional revenue, he said.

Taking into account the gravity of the issue (irregularities in revenue records), the government has appointed two revenue officers in Madurai and Coimbatore to retrieve temple lands. Five more district revenue officers would be appointed to speed up the process. To assist them, six retired deputy collectors, 10 retired tahsildars and three retired surveyors had been appointed on consolidated pay, said Pandian.

The state has taken a lenient view on people residing on encroached temple land for more than 30 years. So far, it has accepted 3,253 encroachers, who have occupied 142 acres of temple land, as tenants. They are eligible to stay on the premises if they pay the rent fixed by the state.

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Aug 06 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
SR to hand over land plan for new terminal
Chennai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 

Royapuram Pushes For Facility

Southern Railway will soon submit to the city corporation details of land needed to develop a passenger terminal at Royapuram, Tondiarpet or Ponneri. The decision was taken after railway officials met mayor Saidai Duraisamy .

Residents of Royapuram have been campaigning for a few years to put pressure on railways to turn Royapuram railway station into a terminal to decongest Egmore railway station. They formed an organization, Tamil Nadu Rail Passengers Rights Tribune (TRPRT), and presented their case before successive railway ministers.

But the railways had maintained that the station could not be made a passenger terminal because it is sandwiched between two bridges and land would have to be acquired from Stanley Medical College and Hospital.

TRPRT has now prepared a study comparing Howrah station in West Bengal to substantiate that a railway terminus can be built in the space between the bridges.

“We are sure that the terminus can be built with the available land at Royapuram by protecting the heritage building. The suggestions have been submitted to the ministry and Chennai Corporation. Railways does not need a yard near the station. The yard can be in Tondiarpet. Yards of Egmore railway station and Central are not located on the station campus,“ said T Rajkumar, TRPRT.

S Vijayakumaran, Southern Railway , additional general manager, said “We will submit details of requirement of land to the corporation. A decision on passenger terminal will be taken based on availability of land. We will require additional land from Stanley College and private houses to make Royapuram into a terminal. Different options are being considered, including Tondiarpet and Ponneri.“ He said the bridge would have to be demolished and rebuilt.

“We have not taken a decision so far to demolish the old railway building. Track will become curved because of the structure so we will need additional land. Residents feel that it can be done with the available land. The British shifted passenger terminal to virgin land at Central because there was no land available in Royapuram in the 1850s,“ he added.

The meeting with corporation officials discussed various possibilities to build a terminal in Royapuram and nearby places and the support available from the state government. Southern Railway conducted studies on the feasibility of a coach terminal at Royapuram and concluded that it would need 2.53 hectares from Stanley Medical College and 1.53 hectares more to build a terminal capable of handling 12 trains a day.
It estimated that it would cost `250 crore to build four platforms, four pit lines, four stabling lines, three sick lines and a new building with parking and circulating area.

Railways had asked the corporation to acquire land free of cost, and for permission to demolish part of the heritage building.

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 Aug 06 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)

 
Govt to repair 469 temple tanks to tap rainwater
Chennai:
TNN
 
 
 
Given Tamil Nadu’s water-deficit status, the government is turning its attention to temple tanks to recharge the groundwater table. As many as 469 tanks across the state would be taken up for renovation soon, Hindu religious and charitable endowments minister P Chendur Pandian said in the assembly on Tuesday.

The department is the custodian of 2,359 tanks in 1,586 temples. Of them, 1,068 tanks were identified for refurbishment. While 599 temple tanks were renovated in the past three years, efforts to renovate the remaining will help

tap rainwater during the northeast monsoon.

Temple tanks will be protected by clearing encroachments, deepening and desilting, re-laying the steps of the tanks and providing facilities for the inflow of rainwater into the tanks, Pandian said.

 

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Aug 06 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Realty players under CCI lens
New Delhi:
PTI
 
 

Suspected Anti-Consumer Practices, Emergence Of Cartels

Widening its probe into suspected anti-consumer practices in the real estate sector, fair trade watchdog CCI has issued notices to at least 20 developers and their industry body Credai for alleged cartelisation and unfair trade practices.

Among other charges, these developers are being probed for inserting one-sided clauses in favour of the companies and against the interest of consumers in the buyer agreements for sale of flats, apartments and other residential properties, along with other other anti-competitive practices.

A senior Competition Commission (CCI) official told PTI that certain details have also been sought from these real estate players, while they would also be given an opportunity to present their case before the regulator. However, it could not be ascertained whether any company has already been found prima facie guilty of violating any provisions of the Competition Act.

The CCI has pulled up many realty players in the past for violating fair trade norms, while a huge penalty of Rs 630 crore was earlier imposed on DLF . The order was later upheld by the Competition Appellate Tribunal as well and DLF has now filed an appeal in the Supreme Court. Among others, information has been sought in the present case from Unitech, Omaxe, Puravankara, Parsvnath, Supertech, BPTP , Oberoi Realty, Amrapali, Ansal Properties & Infra, Prestige Estates, Tata Housing, Gaursons, K Raheja, Avalon, Purohit Construction, Aparna Construction and Amit Enterprises, as also from the Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India (Credai).

Sources said that notices were issued following a detailed investigation report by the CCI's director general that flagged off various issues in the realty sector. The Director General had probed certain alleged common practices by builders and developers who are members of Credai.

Some of the companies have already submitted their written responses to CCI on this matter.

When contacted, a Tata Housing spokesperson said the company has filed its response to the CCI notice well within the stipulated time.

An Omaxe spokesperson also said it had received a notice from CCI “like all other major developers in India“ and it has filed its reply to the regulator.

“The matter came before CCI on July 24. A few other developers sought time to file reply. The adjourned date is September 24, 2014,“ the spokesperson added .

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Aug 05 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Desal plant does little to quench thirst
 
 
 

Water Supply From Nemmeli Plant Short Of Its Total Capacity By 500 Million Litres Every Month From March To June

Every time the issue of possible drought crops up in the state, governments toss out what they think is a magic worddesalination plant. But figures accessed through RTI reveal that during the peak of summer this year, the government's trump card failed to meet expectations.

In response to an RTI query , Metrowater said water supply from Nemmeli desalination plant fell short of its total capacity by 500 million litres every month from March to June. In March, for example, the supply dropped to 11.06 million litres, while its capacity is 100 million litres a day .

Metrowater officials attribute the drop in supply during summer to frequent power fluctuations and turbidity (presence of suspended par ticles like sand) in the sea. “Even a slight trip in power supply means we have to start the process all over again and it takes up to four hours for the entire set-up to stabilise. The technology is new and we are still learning,“ said a Metrowater official. In March, supply from the desalination plant touched or crossed 100MLD on just seven days, and in April the number dropped to six. In May , there were only three days where the plant touched the magic number. VaTech Wabag, entrusted with the construction and running of the plant, wasn't available for comment.

Set up at a cost of `871.24 crore, the Nemmeli plant was commissioned in February last year.
In December, it was shut down for two days and production dropped to 20mld owing to turbidity .
On February 16, for example, the plant produced just 4.92mld of water. Despite this, the govern ment plans to set up another `1,000crore desalination plant in the vicinity , which is expected to supply 400mld of water.

Experts say turbidity and power fluctuations cannot be cited as excuses. “Even before the plant was set up the government was aware of the state's power situation. As for turbidity, everyone knows the sea is unpredictable. The design of the plant should have factored in how to overcome routine hurdles like high turbidity ,“ said water expert T K Ramkumar.

The plants are power-intensive and high on maintenance. To a question on expenditure on maintenance, Metrowater said “not applicable“.

“The state has explored various options-inter-state transfer from AP to Chennai, transfer from Veeranam tank in Cuddalore to Chennai.
None were sustainable. Now it is looking at an expensive project that is a burden on financiallystrained Metrowater,“ said former member of Dhan Foundation J Saravanan. He pegged the cost of water procured from Veeranam at `20 per kilo litre, Red Hills lake at Rs10 per kilo litre and desalination plant at `29 per kilo litre. “It's time Metrowater hikes water charges,“ he said.

The state plans to set up two plants in Ramanathapuram and Tuticorin. Plans are underway to have a series of plants with a capacity to treat 50-100 million litres a day along the coast.

“The power consumed by the desalination plant is equivalent to what 373 basic households consume in a month,“ said enivronmentalist Nityanand Jayaramanan. “The concentration of brine released is twice that of the sea water. This will kill aquatic life and form a death blanket.“

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Aug 05 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Is ex-judge a superhero, asks Madras HC
Chennai:
 
 
 

`Why Same Man For So Many Panels'

Is he a superhero and the only competent person to juggle around several sensitive assignments simultaneously? The Madras high court on Monday wondered as to how an ex-judge, R Reghupathy , was named to probe the June 28 Moulivakkam building collapse while his hands are already full with other responsibilities such as investigating the new secretariat issue and heading the Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, as well as the statutory board to review Goondas Act detentions.

As if to remind the former judge about his responsibilities as head of the consumer panel, the first bench, comprising Chief Justice S K Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan, called for a report from the com mission on how many cases are pending before it, and for how long.

“It appears that the government has appointed a commission of inquiry to probe the incident (building collapse). We are, however, told that the commission of inquiry is headed by a retired HC judge who happens to be holding another inquiry apart from holding the post of president of state consumer commission. There is no second say that the matter needs attention and quick investigation,“ the judges said.

`Probe panels rarely indict govt'

Barring a few, all inquiry commissions give a clean chit to the governments which constituted them or give `findings' which are so delayed that they hardly matter.
“There is hardly any case to show that inquiry commission found them (governments) guilty,“ ex-HC judge K Chandru said. P 2 “A moot point is whether somebody burdened already with so many tasks would be able to find time for an exclusive inquiry, and that too at the cost of the judicial work at the state consumer commission,” the judges said.

The judges made the observations when a PIL filed by DMK leader and former deputy chief minister M K Stalin came up for hearing.

The PIL said the official figure of 61 dead and 27 injured was “incorrect”, as there were at least 300 families of workers staying in the ill-fated Moulivakkam building, and even today there are some relatives visiting the spot looking for their relatives. Perhaps alarmed by the claim, the first bench called for a status report on the progress of the probe after state advocate general A L Somayaji offered to file a report. The judges said the report should address the allegations about the possibility of more bodies lying buried and undiscovered under the debris.

Earlier, P Wilson, senior counsel for Stalin, told the bench that several crucial relaxations were made in the development control rules to enable builder Ma

noharan to construct a 12storeyed building at the site, though he had originally applied for a 6-storeyed structure only. Besides raising the issue of Justice Reghupathy holding several positions, he said a major coverup exercise had been taken up to shield the culprits.“The exercise undertaken by the government to appoint one-man commission is only an eyewash, and to save corrupt bureaucrats and high constitutional functionaries,” Stalin said in his petition.

He said the FIR in the case had been carefully drafted to ensure that it revolved around only the builders, and that nothing is mentioned about corruption of officials, favours done and involvement of constitutional functionaries who granted planning permission.

He said there was a great hurry in giving statutory clearance for the housing project, and several state ministers helped the builder speed up the process. Two government orders were issued in November 2012 and June 2013 relaxing building rules relating to road width, he said.

The bench adjourned the matter to August 28 for further proceedings.

 



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Aug 05 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Judges say bldg collapse culprits been protected
Chennai:
 
 
 
 
Is he a superhero and the only competent person to juggle around several sensitive assignments simultaneously? The Madras high court on Monday wondered as to how an ex-judge, R Reghupathy , was named to probe the June 28 Moulivakkam building collapse while his hands are already full with other responsibilities such as investigating the new secretariat issue and heading the Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, as well as the statutory board to review Goondas Act detentions.

As if to remind the former judge about his responsibilities as head of the consumer panel, the first bench, comprising Chief Justice S K Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan, called for a report from the com mission on how many cases are pending before it, and for how long.

“It appears that the government has appointed a commission of inquiry to probe the incident (building collapse). We are, however, told that the commission of inquiry is headed by a retired HC judge who happens to be holding another inquiry apart from holding the post of president of state consumer commission. There is no second say that the matter needs attention and quick investigation,“ the judges said.

`Probe panels rarely indict govt'

Barring a few, all inquiry commissions give a clean chit to the governments which constituted them or give `findings' which are so delayed that they hardly matter.
“There is hardly any case to show that inquiry commission found them (governments) guilty,“ ex-HC judge K Chandru said. P 2 “A moot point is whether somebody burdened already with so many tasks would be able to find time for an exclusive inquiry, and that too at the cost of the judicial work at the state consumer commission,” the judges said.

The judges made the observations when a PIL filed by DMK leader and former deputy chief minister M K Stalin came up for hearing.

The PIL said the official figure of 61 dead and 27 injured was “incorrect”, as there were at least 300 families of workers staying in the ill-fated Moulivakkam building, and even today there are some relatives visiting the spot looking for their relatives. Perhaps alarmed by the claim, the first bench called for a status report on the progress of the probe after state advocate general A L Somayaji offered to file a report. The judges said the report should address the allegations about the possibility of more bodies lying buried and undiscovered under the debris.

Earlier, P Wilson, senior counsel for Stalin, told the bench that several crucial relaxations were made in the development control rules to enable builder Ma

noharan to construct a 12storeyed building at the site, though he had originally applied for a 6-storeyed structure only. Besides raising the issue of Justice Reghupathy holding several positions, he said a major coverup exercise had been taken up to shield the culprits.“The exercise undertaken by the government to appoint one-man commission is only an eyewash, and to save corrupt bureaucrats and high constitutional functionaries,” Stalin said in his petition.

He said the FIR in the case had been carefully drafted to ensure that it revolved around only the builders, and that nothing is mentioned about corruption of officials, favours done and involvement of constitutional functionaries who granted planning permission.

He said there was a great hurry in giving statutory clearance for the housing project, and several state ministers helped the builder speed up the process. Two government orders were issued in November 2012 and June 2013 relaxing building rules relating to road width, he said.

The bench adjourned the matter to August 28 for further proceedings.



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Aug 08 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Real estate lobby must drop prices, not us: cement cos
Chennai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
The wrangle between property developers and cement manufacturers on rising cement prices, escalated on Thursday with cement makers accusing developers of profiteering and claiming to be facing losses.

Retail price of a 50kg bag has increased to nearly `350 from less than `300 a few months ago. Real estate developers body Credai chairman Lalit Kumar Jain said his association would move fairplay watchdog Competition Commission of India, to seek action against cement manufacturers.

But N Srinivasan of India Cements, MD of The India Cements, south India's largest cement maker by volume, denied the charges.
“This is nonsense. We have announced our financial results for the quarter ending June. We incurred a net loss of `2.96 crore,“ he said.

“A square foot of construction requires half a bag of cement. At today's price, this would mean that the cement component of the overall construction cost is just `180/sqft,“ he said.

“Between 2009 and now, cement prices have gone up from `250 to `350 per bag. We have analysed real estate prices in this period. The minimum increase in apartment prices is `3,200/sqft in Mogappair and the maximum `11,000/sqft in RA Puram,“ Srinivasan said.

Credai members have also mooted the idea of setting up or acquiring a plant to sell cement to its members at lower prices. “They want to set up a cement plant when we are unable to run our plants due to poor demand and low prices,“ another cement manufacturer said.

Srinivasan said longterm special prices or negotiated prices with cement companies may help. In the city the negotiated price is `310 per bag while the stickiest price is `350 per bag.

“No builder buys at market price. They buy at negotiated special prices. Because cement is an organised industry , they are attacking us,“ he said. “Can they protest against the increase in the price of sand or steel, which are not in the organised sector?“

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 Aug 08 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
At 40m, Ashok Ngr to be tallest metro stn
Chennai:
 
 
 
 
Ashok Nagar metro rail station will be the tallest elevated station as four more floors will be added to make it a sixstorey structure. This is aimed at generating revenue by letting out the floors to offices and commercial establishments.

The initial plan was to have a ground floor, a concourse floor and a platform floor, and the structural work on this is nearing completion. When rail services begin by the end of the year, the originally planned floors will be operational, and construction of the additional floors will continue. A contractor will soon be identified for this.

After completion, the station will have a height of more than 40m, which will be higher than Alandur metro rail elevated sta tion where the WashermenpetAirport and Central-St Thomas Mount lines converge. “When we started considering different options we found that the foundation of Ashok Nagar station and the location is suitable for such an expansion. Inner Ring Road, along which the station is coming up, is a happening place. So it makes sense to have more space for commercial exploitation.

There will be provision for additional parking,” the official said.

Metro rail is also planning to use land available nearby to create parking for commuters and non-commuters who would be visiting the metro station. The station is located a little away from

100 Feet Road in the middle of a residential area, unlike other stations which are located in the middle of busy main roads.

Work on the eight elevated stations on the Koyambedu-St Thomas Mount line is going on briskly. Structural work of the buildings, concourse and platforms are complete while interior work, including installing amenities, is going on.

Underground stations will have more space for commercial complexes and offices depending on the location. Central metro station is going to be the largest underground station because it is going to be the hub where commuters from two suburban lines, an MRTS line and Express trains converge to change over to different modes of transport. A bus bay is also being planned opposite Central station.

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Aug 08 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Power up: Graveyards to get biogas plants
Chennai:
 
 
 

Unused Space To Be Utilised To Make Electricity

With residents in several neighbourhoods up in arms against setting up of biogas power plants in their localities, Chennai Corporation has now sought recourse in the silence of the dead.

The civic body is now planning to set up biogas plants at burial grounds in the city. A corporation official said there were nearly 200 burial grounds. “Ideally, every ward should have a biogas plant to convert organic waste to energy. But most residents don’t want such plants in their localities even though they generate waste. So we are now looking at burial grounds.” He said they had earlier proposed to set up such plants in a few public parks, but scrapped the proposal after opposition from locals who feared the parks would turn filthy. Nearly 30% of the 5,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste generated in Chennai every day is biodegradable. The corporation plans to segregate waste at garbage transfer stations to reduce the volume of waste reaching the city’s two

dumping yards, in Kodungaiyur and Perungudi.

Meanwhile, the corporation will declare ward 173 in Adyar, where people have begun source segregation, a ‘zero waste’ model ward. It also plans to set up a biogas plant in the ward to handle food waste. “We plan to use electricity produced to power street lights in the area,” the official said. Transparent Chennai, an NGO, was mapping the waste generation pattern of the ward, which includes Greenways

Road, MRC Nagar, Kesavaperumalpuram, Srinivasapuram and Bishop Garden. The ward has a diverse population ranging from fishermen to educated residents to high-profile government officials.

Corporation officials have received good response for source segregation from areas like Harrington Road, Boat Club Road and MRC Nagar. The civic body will rope in bulk garbage generators like hotels, shopping malls and marriage halls to reduce the volume of non-degradable waste going to the dumping yards. In Central Chennai, for instance, several hotels have agreed to segregate food waste and provide it to the plant. A special vehicle has been arranged to pick up garbage at night.

“If they don’t set up these biogas plants, then they may have to pay additional conservancy charge for transporting waste”, the official added. Officials said the corporation would soon float tenders to set up solid waste processing plants before scientifically closing down the Perungudi and Kodangaiyur dumpyards.

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Aug 08 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
HC ultimatum to raze George Town's illegal bldgs
Chennai
 
 
 
 
Rolling up its sleeves to purge George Town, particularly Sowcarpet, of illegal buildings, the Madras high court has set a threemonth deadline for the civic authorities to survey the entire region for violation of building regulations and another two months for demolishing illegal structures.

The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan, passing orders on a PIL filed by social activist K R `Traffic' Ramaswamy on Thursday , said: “We are constrained to pass these orders, as it appears to us that municipal authorities are not taking their responsibility seriously and there is danger to the life and limb of residents on account of rampant unauthorised constructions which make buildings unsafe.“

The PIL was filed after a fire accident at an unauthorised commercial complex on Narayana Mudali Street in Sowcarpet on July 23, which killed one person. Ramaswamy said despite complaints and re minders, civic authorities were not taking any action for reasons best known to themselves.

Citing the bunch of photo graphs accompanying the PIL, the bench said even fire service engines would not be able to access the area during emergencies, and added, “We cannot let such mischance to continue.“

The judges then laid down a roadmap to clean up George Town area. They asked the civic authorities to conduct a detailed inspection of each building in the area and prepare two lists ­ one consisting of buildings that can be allowed to remain after paying a fine for deviating from the approved plan and the second comprising structures which cannot be allowed to stand even on payment of compounding charges. The au thorities shall then take a month's time to slap notice on owners of these buildings -asking them to pay the requisite charges in cases where vi olations are minor and face demolition in cases of serious violations.

Adjourning the matter to November for further hearing, the judges said a progress and status report should be fil ed before the date of next hearing.

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Aug 08 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Taj top earning monument in India, Mahabs leads south
 
 
 
 
Its white marble may be turning yellow as air pollution takes its toll on the world's most celebrated monument to love, but here's hard evidence that the allure of the 361-year-old structure has not faded at all: Taj Mahal continues to generate more than twice as much revenue through tourist visits than any other monument in the country .

According to estimates from the Centre, the mausoleum and its integrated com plex of structures raked in ` `21.84 crore, mostly in entrance fees, in 2013-14.

The top 20 monuments collected ` `80.01 crore. Palla

va-era temples in Mamallapuram generated ` `2.72 crore, the highest in the south. The collection at Agra Fort, a distant second to the Taj, was Rs 10.22 crore in that fiscal, Union minister of state (independent charge) for culture and tourism Shri Shripad Yesso Naik said in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Qutub-Minar, Delhi’s landmark red sandstone tower, came in third with Rs 10.16 crore, Humayun Tomb was fourth (Rs 7.12 crore) and Red Fort fifth (Rs 6.15 crore).

The beauty of Shah Jahan’s memorial to Mumtaz Mahal has fascinated people from across the world for centuries. It was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1983 and is considered one of the 7 New Wonders of the World.

The country’s top 20 monuments earned Rs 80.01 crore in gate fees, of which those in and around Delhi accounted for Rs 49.36 crore. The Ellora and Ajanta Caves earned Rs 3.06 crore, with Ellora alone generating Rs 2.06 crore.

Historic sites in Fatehpur Sikri like the Tomb of Salim Chishti and Akbar’s imposing Buland Darwaza together collected Rs 5.62 crore.In the south, Pallava-era temples and other structures at Mamallapuram, 50km south of Chennai, generated Rs 2.72 crore in revenue, the highest in the southern states. Charminar in Hydera

bad recorded a take of Rs 84.76 lakh, Golconda Fort in the same city Rs 92.92 lakh, and monuments in Hampi, Karnataka, Rs1.57 crore.

But historians say the authorities do not plough back enough of the revenue earned to conserve historic structures.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) spent only a fraction of Taj Mahal’s take — Rs 2.85 crore — on maintenance and repairs of the monument in the last fiscal.

With a giant loop of the extremely polluted River Yamuna within touching distance of the structure’s northern face, and

architects warning that that wear and tear could consign the Taj to history within a decade, heritage experts say the government will have to pump in much more funds and come up with a comprehensive plan to save the structure. ASI allocated Rs 10.15 crore on the upkeep of Qutb Minar, the most it spent on any monument in the country. By contrast, it cost ASI just Rs 1.21 crore to maintain Darasuram Temple, a Unesco heritage site in Kumbakonam.

The tourism industry says the government could earn even more from its historic sites if it marketed them better.

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Aug 08 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Mistry makes first big CEO change, Hyatt vet to replace Bickson at Taj
Mumbai:
 
 
 
 
The Tata Groupcontrolled Taj, India's biggest hospitality chain, is parting ways with its first non-Indian MD & CEO Raymond Bickson this month-end. Bickson (59), who joined the Taj in 2003, will be replaced by Rakesh Sarna (57), who was with the Hyatt for 35 years till June, most recently as group president of Americas.

The development marks the first big management change in a Tata Group company under Cyrus Mistry since he took over from Ratan Tata as group chairman in December 2012. It comes at a time when Taj's earnings have been hit hard; it showed a net i loss of Rs 590 crore in 2013-14 (compared to a net profit of Rs 95 crore for the Oberois).

Bickson “has expressed a desire to resign from the chain and pursue his professional interests elsewhere“, said a statement by Taj's parent Indian Hotels Company (IHCL).

Reviving the fortunes of the Taj Group will be Sarna's first challenge. A hospitality veteran, his last responsibilic ty was overseeing Hyatt hotels 3 in the US, Canada, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, according to Bloomberg Businessweek (BBW).
He's also been chief operating officer of international operations at Hyatt Hotels Corp. At different points of time, he has run Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, and was general manager Hyatt UN Plaza, New York.
BBW said his total calculated compensation for 2013 was $ 3,401,761 (about Rs 20 crore). Sarna will be the fourth CEO ­ after Ajit Kerkar, R K Krishna Kumar and Bickson -since the 109-year-old Taj went public in 1970. Like a number of satraps from J R D Tata's time, Kerkar went out in a blaze of controversy as Ratan Tata consolidated his hold on the empire.

The Hawaiian-born, American national Bickson was handpicked by Tata when he was serving as general manager at the Mark Ho tel in New York. For Bickson, Tata's offer was tempting as it came with the responsibility of heading a chain of properties. His challenges included re-entering the US market after failing to make a mark, scaling up the chain's international presence, creating a brand architecture as the Taj brand was spread across luxury to economy categories, and ensuring that Asia's largest hospitality chain stayed ahead of the curve on home turf as well.

Today , the Taj Group is among the top 50 chains globally ­ up from 130 when he joined. Although Bickson managed to ramp up the chain's portfolio from 62 to 108 properties, and acquired the iconic The Pierre in New York, industry slowdown, increased competition, lower room tariffs and huge debt impacted IHCL's earnings.
While revenues, on a `standalone' basis, have trebled to Rs 1,930 crore in 2013-14 since Bickson joined (Rs 665 crore in 2003-04), its bottomline looks dismal at the moment.

Perhaps Bickson's biggest achievement -one, that changed the fortunes of the flagship Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai -was when he displayed extraordinary leadership and motivated the employees, their families, and guests who were inside the hotel during the 26/11 terrorist attack.

There were some misses too for Bickson ­ notably , IHCL's failure to bag the Orient Express hotel chain, which could have marked an entry into Europe. Besides ensuring profitability for the chain, Sarna's job will also be to take the chain into the top ten.

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Aug 08 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Dhirubhai's grandsons step into fathers' shoes
Mumbai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 

Akash To Help Launch Mukesh's Telecom Venture Rel Jio, Jai Anmol Joins Anil's Fin Co

The coincidences are hard to miss. Akash and Jai Anmol, cousins and scions of the country's leading business family , have joined the now-divided empire originally founded by their grandfather Dhirubhai Ambani, within months of each other. Both are stepping into areas that were the core strengths of Dhirubhai's sons, their fathers.

Reliance Industries (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani's elder son Akash Ambani recently joined RIL to help launch the conglomerate's re-entry in telecommunications with Reliance Jio, while Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani's son Jai Anmol has joined Reliance Capital. While Akash will be in operations, it'll be finance for Jai Anmol. When contacted by TOI, officials in both companies confirmed the move.

Rewind to the eighties when the family was still very much together. Mukesh gave up his management studies at Stanford midway to join Reliance Industries in 1981 when his father called him back. Famed for his project management skills, Mukesh initiated Reliance's backward integration journey from textiles into polyester fibres and further into petrochemicals and petroleum refining, and upstream into oil and gas exploration and production. In the process he created the world's large st grassroots petroleum refinery in Jamnagar. Two years later, his younger brother Anil after finishing his management at Wharton joined RIL as co-chief executive officer to pioneer financial innovations and lead India Inc's foray into overseas capital markets.

The clock appears to have come a full circle. The cousins, both 22, representing the third generation of the Ambanis, are joining their respective businesses at a time when the next big push is needed for both groups, as they chase growth in an economy struggling to come out of a slowdown. Their fathers had entered the business when they were around 24 and the group needed a big move forward.

Akash, an economics graduate from Brown University , who was first formally seen with his father in 2011 at the signing the $7.2-billion deal with BP Plc, is now involved in rolling out Reliance Jio's complex 4G broadband wireless service offerings, which could redraw the telecommunications landscape. His father did the same more than a decade ago with the launch of Reliance Infocom, now Reliance Communications (part of Anil Ambani's portfolio following the demerger of the Reliance empire in 2005).

On the other hand, Anil Ambani's son Jai Anmol, a graduate from UK's Warwick Business School, has joined Reliance Capital, as he is said to have demonstrated a keen interest in finance.

Jai Anmol is learnt to have been actively involved in the Rs 12,000-crore acquisition of Jaypee Associates's power assets, where the Adani Group and JSW Group had also thrown in their hats. “Reliance Capital CEO Sam Ghosh is mentoring Jai Anmol for a bigger role in the Reliance Group,“ said a company insider.

The Ambani cousins are joining their father's business at a time when a host of other business family scions are already learning the ropes in their respective groups. Gautam Adani's son Karan, who got married last year, is helping shape Mundra into a leading global port operator. Suzlon Group chairman Tulsi Tanti's son Pranav, on the other hand, is working to improve the group's financials for a turnaround in 2015. Vedanta Group chairman Anil Agarwal's son Agnivesh, who's based out of Dubai, is taking care of the metals trading business while his daughter Priya is a non-executive director at Cairn India and handles CSR and branding activities. RPG Group chairman Harsh Goenka's son Anant Goenka became the managing director of CEAT Ltd at 30. However, HCL promoter Shiv Nadar's daughter Roshni is stepping out of her father's shadow to make a foray into the healthcare business.

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Aug 08 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Charge on certifying tech export bills to go
Coimbatore
 
 
 

Process Set To Migrate To Online Platform

The Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) will not charge any fee for certifying export invoices of IT (information technology) companies from March next year as the entire process would migrate to an online platform making it totally seamless, a top official said.

The STPI has however made it clear that there is no going back on the stipulation that IT companies have to get certification for each and every export invoice. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in a circular, had said that all export invoices should be certified by STPI.

“There is merit in the (RBI) instruction. We will be able to capture all the data in a better way,” said Omkar Rai, Director General, STPI.

“We need data. Without data how can we plan? The industry should see it in a pragmatic manner,” he said on the sidelines of ‘Connect Coimbatore 2014’, the annual IT event organised by CII here on Thursday.

The export threshold limit was $25000 earlier but exporters of software services/ products must now get export invoices certified from STPI even if the value of the

transaction is as low as $1 raising concerns in the industry that it would affect small and medium IT units adversely. STPI however allayed the apprehensions. “It is a misplaced concern. It (certification) is in the interest of everybody,” Rai said.

The ERP (enterprise resource planning) project for ensuring that certification is done in a seamless manner has been awarded to Infosys and would be available from March, he said. “We will not charge anything. IT companies are not required to pay any transaction fee,” Rai said

IT companies would be required to visit the STPI office only for important work such as obtaining the letter of permission and renewals, he said. STPI, which comes under the Ministry of Communication and IT, charges a small fee for certifying export invoices now.

The fee, which could be as low as Rs 4, 000 per certification, has not been revised for the past 20 years, a senior STPI official said. The STPI ploughs back the entire money to develop the industry, which includes setting up of incubation centres, he said.

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 Aug 09 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Cheque bouncing offence will be prosecuted at place of origin: SC
New Delhi
 
 
 
 
Recovering money if a cheque bounces will now be a lot more tedious and costly. In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has changed the ground rule under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act to prosecute a person who presented the cheque that bounced for insufficiency of funds.

Earlier, a case under Section 138 could be initiated by the holder of the cheque at his place of business or residence. But a bench of Justice T S Thakur, Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice C Nagappan ruled that the case has to be initiated at the place where the bank branch on which the cheque was drawn is located.

This means that if a man from Delhi gives a cheque drawn on a Delhi bank for buying something in Chennai and it bounces due to insufficient funds, the aggrieved person will have to travel all the way from Chennai to Delhi to initiate prosecution under Section 138.

Also, the judgment will apply retrospectively. This means that lakhs of pending cases will witness a interstate transfer.

Writing the judgment, Justice Sen said: “We are quite alive to the magnitude of the impact the present decision shall have to possibly lakhs of cases pending in various courts.”

However, the court said that those cases where recording of evidence has started after issuance of summons to the accused, would continue to be tried at the place they were instituted.

“To clarify, regardless of whether evidence has been led before the magistrate at the pre-summoning stage, either by affidavit or by oral statement, the complaint will be maintainable only at the place where the cheque stands dishonoured,“ the bench said.

The bench said: “In this analysis, we hold that the place, or venue of judicial inquiry and trial of the offence must logically be restricted to where the drawee bank is located.“

“An interpretation should not be imparted to Section 138 which will render it as a device of harassment, that is, by sending notices (about the bouncing of cheque under Section 138) from a place which has no casual connection with the transaction itself, andor by presenting cheques at any of the banks where the payee may have an account,“ the bench said.

“It is also now manifest that traders and businessmen have become reckless and incautious in extending credit where they would heretofore have been extremely hesitant, solely because of the availability of redress by criminal proceedings,“ the bench said referring to the rapid increase in institution of cases under Section 138 of NI Act after it was made a criminal offence.

“Today's reality is that every magistracy is inundated with prosecutions under Section 138 of the NI Act, so much so that the burden is becoming unbearable and detrimental to the disposal of other equally pressing litigation,“ the court said. For filing a criminal case under Section 138 NI Act, the holder of the cheque must have to travel to the place where the branch of the bank on which the cheque was drawn is located, it said. In the alternative, he could institute acase under Section 420 (cheating) at the place of his residence or where he ordinarily carries out business.

“If the payee succeeds in establishing that the inducement for accepting a cheque which subsequently bounced had occurred where he resides or ordinarily transacts business, he will not have to suffer the travails of journeying to the place where the cheque has been dishonoured,“ it said.

“All remedies under the IPC and CrPC are available to such a payee if he chooses to pursue this course of action, rather than a complaint under Section 138 of NI Act. And of course, he can file a suit for recovery wherever the cause of action arises dependent on his choosing,“ the court said.

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 Aug 09 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
TN to set up sewage plant at Kodungaiyur
Chennai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
Chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Friday announced a series of integrated drinking water projects for water-starved Tamil Nadu. Making suo motu announcements in the state assembly , she said her government would implement six integrated drinking water schemes totalling `1,672 crore.

To meet growing water needs of industries in Manali and Minjur in North Chennai, she announced setting up a 45mld sewage recycling plant at Kodungaiyur at `255 crore to serve industries and power generation stations.

She said a rainwater drainage system for the expanded areas of Corporation of Chennai would be taken up at a cost of `1,101.43 crore. A report has been prepared for a `4,034 crore integrated drainage system.

Jayalalithaa announced `20.85 crore for Theni and proposed a `1,160 crore drinking water project for Sivaganga district.

“More than five lakh people in eight town panchayats, like Manamadurai, Kottaiyur and Pallathur will benefit from this,“ she said.
An integrated drinking water scheme in Coimbatore district will be implemented at a cost of `42.94 crore, while `11.72 crore will be allocated for a similar project in Erode district.

The government also proposes to take up solid waste management projects at zonal levels in Trichy, Tirupur, Tuticorin and Vellore corporations and Nagercoil municipality at a cost of `631.39 crore.

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Aug 09 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
3 deals to improve TN's power grid
Chennai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
The Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation (Tantransco) has awarded three contracts worth `240 crore to Alstom T&D India to help strengthen the state's grid infrastructure. With energy consumption in Tamil Nadu estimated to grow at 7% during the 12th five year plan, the substations will transmit power generated by various new thermal plants and the company will supply three airinsulated substations.

“The three turnkey projects will establish a 400230 100 KV air-insulated substation at Rasipalayam near Sulur in Coimbatore district, connecting the state's transmission network to the national grid. It will also establish two 230110 KV air-insulated substations in Vyasarpadi and in an industrial estate, both in Chennai,“ an Alstom official said. The substations to be set up near Chennai will stabilise power supply in and around the city and cope with increasing industrialisation.

“Alstom will supply 62 airinsulated bays, two power transformers, eight autotransformers and other equipment for these contracts.
Equipment will be supplied from Alstom T&D India's manufacturing facilities spread across the country ,“ Al stom T&D India MD, Rathin Basu said. “Alstom is ready to support the state government's plans to strengthen the transmission network backbone, and to distribute quality power efficiently to the consumers,“ Basu said.

“The substation to be set up near Sulur will evacuate power from wind mills in and around Pollachi,“ a TNEB official said. TNEB has already awarded a transmission contract to L&T to evacuate power from the region. A separate substation will be set up at the Omega Industrial Estate coming up with Japanese support near Ambattur. “The substation to be set up at Vyasarpadi will be used to evacuate power from the thermal plants at Ennore and north Chennai,“ the official said.

“Gas-insulated substations are set up in places like Mylapore where land is scarce. These substations are costly to set up but require little land. The substation cost is offset by savings on the land cost. But air-insulated substation needs more land and that is why we have such substations in suburbs and other towns of the state where land is not very scarce,“ said the official. At present, Tantransco has 14 400KV substations, 72 230KV substations and 580 110KV substations and 95 substations in Chennai.

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Aug 09 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
SBI wants external agency to run Bhushan Steel after MD's arrest
Mumbai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
The State Bank of India (SBI) will push for appointing a managing agency to run Bhushan Steel after the arrest of its vice-chairman and managing director Neeraj Singal. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Singal earlier this week in the Rs 50-lakh bribery scandal involving Syndicate Bank chairman S K Jain, who is also in custody.

SBI has a Rs 6,000-crore exposure to Bhushan Steel, a sizeable chunk of the steelmaker's Rs 40,000-crore borrowings from Indian banks. Syndicate Bank has a Rs 100-crore exposure the steelmaker. Bhushan Steel's market cap stood at Rs 4,969 crore on Friday.

SBI officials said usually a consultancy firm or an investment bank is appointed as a managing agency to look after the day-to-day affairs of a company .

“We have talked to the consortium leader Punjab National Bank as well as other banks, including private lenders. We will try to bring in a management agency , which will look at the day-to-day running of Bhushan Steel. This is a very good quality asset, it is running properly and we don't want it getting into any kind of trouble,“ said Arundhati Bhattacharya, SBI chairman. She said that the managing agency would be like an administrator and there was no move to change the management “This is a listed company and we cannot just ask the management to go out,“ said Bhattacharya.

The SBI chairman said if approved by the consortium of lenders, the proposal would be taken to the board and that they expected the company to be conducive to it. “Earlier, when there had been an accident (at one of the company's plants), the consortium had advised appointing a safety adviser on the board, which the company did. Even in this case, I don't really think the borrower will have any objections,“ Bhattacharya said.

Bhattacharya said the SBI was not reviewing its lending to the steelmaker as the loan was a standard asset and instalments were being paid in time.
“I don't think a forensic audit is called for at this stage. If at a later date we feel it necessary , we will ask for it,“ she said.

Bhushan Steel has the country's largest cold-rolled steel plant and is a major supplier to automotive companies.

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Aug 09 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Surge in agri loan defaults: SBI
Mumbai
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 

State Bank Warns Of Repayment Crisis In Poll-Bound States

State Bank of India has seen a surge in its agri bad loans following the farm loan waiver announced by the Andhra Pradesh government. The bank said that not only farmers in Andhra, but even those in other states which are due for polls have begun to default.

The bank has said that it is cutting off credit to defaulters and expects repayments to commence if there is no clarity on the waivers for a couple of months. Announcing the bank's results, SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said that there were Rs 1,959 crore of fresh slippages in NPAs, of which Rs 600 crore was due to bad loans from Andhra.

“The problem is that when one account of a borrower is classified as NPA, all his other accounts also become NPAs. So the agri slippage of Rs 600 crore has resulted in another Rs 150 crore of slippage in retail loans because any gold loans or auto loans these borrowers have also gets classified as NPAs,“ she said. “We believe that these two states have a lot of potential and unless these two states have access to bank finance, they will not be able to come up to full potential,“ said Bhattacharya speaking of the damage caused by defaults.



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Company buys 1 acre plot in Boat Club plot for 210cr

The previous benchmark price registered in the city was close to 100 crore that Chennai-based builder Ravi Appasamy paid for a 9.5 ground land owned by Viju Mahtaney of Ambattur Clothing in the same Boat Club. The deal, mediated by JLL, was finalised a few weeks ago. 


The two deals have stirred up Chennai realty market even as most builders struggle to push apartment sales. 

Chennai has witnessed more than 3,000 crore worth high-value land transactions in the past 19 months. The highest deal in terms of overall cost was clocked by Xander, the largest foreign investor in Indian realty assets, which invested 690 crore in Shriram Property's IT SEZ in Perungalathur in the outskirts of the city. Last year, Landmark Builders bought 14.16 acres from erstwhile Binny Mills for 490 crore. In other major deals, Ceebros bought Viceroy Hotels for 480 crore and Atlantic Hotel for 165 crore, VGN bought 1.43 acres in Nungambakkam from Tata Communications for 195 crore and 10 acres in Guindy industrial estate from Hindustan Teleprinters for 272 crore and Sugal and Damani Foundation purchased 8.6 acres of land in Padi from Britannia for 172 crore. 

In the past, Boat Club had witnessed several high-value transactions. Shyam Kothari bought 2.39 acres from IDBI for 175 crore in 2007 and Maran brothers bought 28,000sqft from HSBC for 42 crore and 55,344 sq ft from TVS for 80 crore in 2006.

 

 



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Aug 24 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Court allows bank to take over `agri land'
Chennai
A.Subramani@timesgroup.com
 
 
Land In `Posh' Area Was Given As Collateral For Loan
This “agricultural“ land with a standing crop of casuarina is located in the posh Neelankarai area off East Coast Road, and has a farmhouse, swimming pool and a tennis court.Citing this as “farmland“, its owner sought to escape a nationalised bank's takeover bid saying farmlands given as collateral security for loans could not be touched or auctioned by financial institutions.

A division bench of the Madras high court trashed the claim on Friday , saying, “The secured asset is situated at Casuarina Drive in Neelankarai, which has become a very posh residential area in Chennai and a number of posh and giant residential projects have come up in and around the area. The petitioners themselves have constructed a huge bungalow with a swimming pool and a tennis court there. Therefore, when the bank resorted to taking possession of the same, we do not find any justification on the part of the petitioners to contend that the asset is an agricultural land.“

The private auto components company had taken Rs 26 crore as loan from Indian Bank and pledged the Neelankarai property as collateral security . It moved the high court after the bank took steps to take possession of the property under the SARFAESI Act.

V Raghavachari, company's counsel, said since the property was agricultural land, no recovery could be made. The bank has no authority to initiate proceedings under the SARFAESI Act and it is open to the bank to recover the amount due in any other manner known to law, he said.He also submitted income tax receipts and certificates by a village administrative officer certify ing that it was indeed agricultural land.

B Benjamin George, counsel for the bank, said it was the company's attempt to defeat the bank's bid to realize the loan amount, and added that mere production of VAO certificates and photos was not sufficient to prove it was agricultural land. There should be basic operations involving human skill and labour.

Concurring with him, a division bench headed by Justice S Rajeswaran said income tax returns, photographs and certificates issued by VAO cannot conclusively prove that the secured property was agricultural land. Noting that prior to the arrival of the SARFAESI Act, banks were not empowered to take possession of securities and dispose them of to realise debts, it said, “When the bank had resorted to take possession of the secured asset, the petitioners are trying to frustrate the attempt of the bank.“

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Aug 24 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Poor upkeep ails TN's irrigation tanks
Chennai:
 
 
 
Only 3,350 Out Of 13,779 Water Bodies Refurbished In 3 Yrs, Admits Govt
Yet another rainy season is ending and the state is eagerly waiting for the northeast monsoon to set in.And once again, the major rivers in the state will drain out huge quantity of rainwater into the Bay of Bengal, all because the state has not taken enough steps to improve the irrigation tanks.

Going by state government's own admission, only 3,350 out of the 13,779 tanks have been refurbished in the last three years under the World Bank-sponsored schemes though the bank had provided `2,820 crore to take up irrigation projects in 2008.

Even after discounting the tanks refurbished during the previous DMK regime, about 54% of irrigation tanks in the state are crying for attention. If some are encroached upon, others are silted owing to lack of maintenance. Experts say these tanks can provide round the-year supply of drinking and irrigation water if properly maintained.

State administration maintains that the remaining work would be taken up on a priority basis soon. P R Pan dian of Mannargudi in Tiruvarur district said many irrigation tanks in the region need renovation. For instance, 12 big tanks in Needamangalam union have not been desilted for many years. “Haphazard sand mining in Cauvery, Vennar, Vettar, Pammani and Mulliar have resulted in theser rivers shifting their course away from water harvesting systems,” Pandian said.

If groundwater table has depleted in inland areas, saline water incursion is posing problem along the coastal belt.

Nagapattinam district, the tail end of the Cauvery basin, is the worst affected with groundwater turning saline in 6 out of 11 blocks. V Dhanapal of Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Protection Association said rehabilitation of irrigation tanks could have improved quality of water table considerably. Thick vegetation has reduced water storage capacity in many tanks in the district, he said.

A study on ‘effective utilization of northeast monsoon’ jointly by various government agencies in 2013 said per capita storage in the state was only 175 cubic metres as against the national average of 225 cubic metres, stressing the need for restoring the storage capacity of existing structures and creating additional storage facilities. “About 80% of the runoff of Tamil Nadu rivers occurs during northeast monsoon,” the report said.

The state, which has set an ambitious target of producing 145 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrain this fiscal, has to act fast.

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Plea in court: Housing board sold prime land in Chennai for pittance

CHENNAI: While the going market rate for a ground (2,400sqft) of land in Thiruvanmiyur is more than 3 crore, the cash-starved Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) has sold a piece of 7.44 acres to a private trust at 6.01 lakh per ground. A sale deed was signed by TNHB in favour of Sri Ramachandra Educational Trust which runs Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Hospital (SRMC) on July 16 this year.

Questioning this sale, a petition has been filed by an advocate in the Madras high court. On Wednesday, Justice V Ramasubramanian passed an interim order stating that any activity of the trust on the property would be "at their own risk and cost, and that it would not confer any right upon them until further orders of this court." He also made it clear that the trust cannot claim equity at the end of the day, even if it carried out any activity at the spot.

Advocate T Kalaimani of Thiruvanmiyur said he had applied for a TNHB housing plot under the neighbourhood scheme in 2008, and that so far he had not been allotted any. He said he came to know about a land transfer involving 7.44 acres in Thiruvanmiyur. An inquiry revealed that the property was sold for a fraction of its original value and that a huge financial loss had been caused to the state.



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Oct 13 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Builder reneges on deal, to pay Rs 7.8L
Chennai:
 
 
 
Panel Also Fines Firm `10K For Failing To Hand Over Flat, Secure Bank Loan
Coming to the rescue of a couple who were not allotted an apartment after paying an advance for it, the Tamil Nadu Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed the builder to refund them ` `7.8 lakh.

Upholding an order of the Chengalpet District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, the commission said the Chennai-based builder would have to pay a sum of ` `10,000 in addition for the mental agony and hardship caused to the complainants.

The bank had denied the couple a housing loan as the builder had violated the plan approval by constructing an 8storey building instead of a 4storey structure that he had obtained permission for.

Petitioners J Leo and Padmini Jayaraj, represented by S R Pasupathi of Sankarankovil, Tirunelveli, submitted that they booked a flat from Pace Builders, Anna Nagar, by paying an advance of ` `1 lakh out of a total cost of ` `46.45 lakh. They entered into a sale cum-construction agreement on May 12, 2007. They then paid `6.80 lakh for the construction. The building firm, which assured the couple that it would arrange for a housing loan, failed to secure the loan because of development violations in the building from the approved plan and the sale cum-construction agreement.

The couple appealed to the consumer forum and sought a direction that they be granted possession of the flat. In case the builder failed to give them possession of the flat, they sought compensation of ` `12 lakh for mental agony and also refund of the advance.

While denying the allegations, the construction company admitted that it had collected ` `7.80 lakh from the couple. But the company said the couple had not paid the balance they owed and said it had never guaranteed that it would secure a housing loan for the couple from a bank.

In October 2012, the Chengalpet District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum directed the builder to refund ` `7.80 lakh and awarded a compen sation of ` `10,000 for mental agony and hardship caused to the complainant. The builder filed an appeal.

A bench of president Justice R Regupathi and judicial member A K Annamalai said the builder could not fulfil its promise to secure a housing loan because of deviations from the approved plan. “It is clear there was lapse on the part of [the builder] in fulfilling the terms and conditions of the agreement and [it has] not denied deviation from the plan… Thereby the district forum’s award is normal and justifiable,” it said.

“The builder has not fulfilled the terms of agreement,” the bench said. Dismissing the appeal, the bench said, “The case needs no interference by the commission.”

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 Oct 14 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Why no official named in Porur tower crash chargesheet, asks HC
Chennai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
More than three months after the Moulivakkam building collapse, which killed 61 people, the Madras high court has posed a series of questions to the state government, asking why no official in charge of implementing building rules was named in the chargesheet and under what circumstances a government order was issued relaxing rules for the high-rise.

Concerned at the unseemly haste with which the chargesheet was filed, the court said: “The worry we have is whether the final report has been filed in a hurry without completion of investigation process.“

The first bench, giving in terim directions on Monday on a PIL filed by DMK leader M K Stalin, also said details of steps taken to relax building rules for the structure, and details of a report submitted by the Justice R Reghupathy Commission, which investigated the collapse, too needed to be analysed. If there appears to be a defect in design, the same should have been apparent to authorities who granted sanction for the building plan, the first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan, said. “Why the complicity of any government officials has not been gone into before filing the final report,” it asked. The 12-storey structure, one of twin residential towers under construction at Moulivakkam near Porur, collapsed on June 28, exposing rampant violation of building rules.

The judges said a special permission had been given for the towers to have a common basement, and a government order was issued on May 28, 2013. “Under what circumstances this exception was granted would be available from the records which are required to be produced before us,” they said, adding: “We are of the view that a meaningful thought can be given to the matter only when contents of the inquiry report (submitted by Justice Reghupathy) being placed before the assembly are made available.” They then gave six weeks for furnishing the required details, and adjourned the case to December 4 for further hearing.

Earlier, P Wilson, senior counsel for Stalin, who filed the petition seeking CBI probe into the collapse, said there were discrepancies with regard to the number of people engaged by the builder for the work and those who died and injured in the incident.

Advocate general of Tamil Nadu A L Somayaji, however, said relaxation given to the building was very marginal which is usual for all similar cases. Stalin, in his reply to the government’s counter-affidavit, said the status report was an eyewash and was an attempt to mislead and misdirect the court, which is seized of PILs that raised questions about the manner in which exemptions were given to the ill-fated building and the alleged cover-up attempt after the June 28 tragedy.



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Oct 14 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
STUDENT ARCHITECTS PLAN GORGEOUS GEORGE TOWN
 
 
 
Re-Routing Traffic To Make Streets Pedestrian Friendly, Multi-Level Parking Lot To Decongest Roadsides And A Designated Path For Religious Processions Are Highlights Of An Ambitious Project That Experts Find Feasible
Student architects havedrawn up a vision of aclean, green and heritage friendly George Town, un der the guidance of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach).

After studying the neighbourhood for two months and interacting with Chennai Corporation officials, about 60 final year students of MEASI Academy of Architecture have proposed, as the prime agenda, pedestrianisation of the busy lanes. The students say that proposal is realistic with a long-term focus. The plan is in tune with the CMDA development control regulations.

The proposal suggests rerouting traffic by closing down lanes adjoining Rajaji Salai, NSC Bose Road, Broadway and Erabalu Street. By diverting traffic away to Armenian Street, these lanes could be made pedestrian-only zones. According to the plan, the lanes would be lined with pavements, lights, benches and plants to make them walker-friendly .

To prevent haphazard parking of vehicles on either side of roads, a multi-level parking lot will be constructed in an empty plot in the Binny Mills premises. A three-storey commercial complex with a recreational park on the terrace has been envisioned and a 2,500sqm area near the CSI Church on Broadway has been identified for the purpose.

To move away hawkers and roving peddlers, a MARKETarrow-10x10.png similar to Delhi Haat has been proposed. The relocation of about 82 dwellers of a slum close to Binny Mills, to a new building proposed on a government plot nearby, could lead to the creation of a `Madras Haat'. For devotees, a processional path is proposed between the Kaligambal temple and Kachaleeshwarar temple on Thambu Chetty Street.

To create a natural ecosystem at Kachaleeshwarar temple, its tank is to be revitalised by opening 10 new water inlets to allow storm water.Now only one of the six inlets is func tional. At the entrance of the Kaligambal temple, a green space for special pooja would be created adjacent to the mandapam. The green space can also be used for cultural activities.This space, the `sthlaavruksham', was once home to plants like hibiscus, turmeric, tulsi and shivlinga tree. “We conducted workshops for students to sensitise them on the importance of conserving heritage,“ said S Suresh, Tamil Nadu convener of Intach which had restored the 125-year-old Senate House in the Madras University campus in 2006. The voluntary body is now in volved in restoration of a Pallava temple at Vedal, Cheyyur taluk, Kanchipuram district.

MEASI Academy of Architecture dean A N Sachidhanandan said, “Revamps by the corporation were planned and dropped for various reasons. We wanted to generate ideas for a new vision of George Town. Such a vision depends on the people to come together and demand a better living space. The student vision is not just a blueprint.It attempts to achieve a socio-economic harmony .“

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 Oct 14 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
TREATING WASTE: WHAT AP CAN TEACH
 
 
 
 
Tamil Nadu lags far behind Andhra Pradesh in treating solid waste generated in its cities, as per the latest planning commission figures. Observers say the state should draw lessons from Andhra Pradesh (figures come from undivided AP) while it moves forward to handle the solid waste challenge.

The commission's May 2014 report `Waste to Energy' says that only 1,607 tonnes (11%) of the total 14,532 tonnes of collected garbage in TN is being treated every day. The garbage is treated through composting (162 units), vermi-composting (24) and refuse derived fuel (RDF) plants (3).In composting, organic waste is biodegraded. In vermi-composting, worms aid biodegradation. In RDF, waste is processed to produce fuel that is typically burned to generate power.

The planning commission report indicates that undivided AP treats 90% of the 10,656 tonnes it generates.But a recent report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) says AP treats only 3,656 tonnes of garbage per day . Despite this discrepancy , AP is far ahead of Tamil Nadu, and the rest of the country ­ in treating municipal solid waste. Across the nation, only 25,884 tonnes of the total 1.33 lakh garbage generated every day are treated.

Andhra's success has been largely due to its source-segregation efforts feeding into recycling. But, Almitra Patel, an activisit who was instrumental in drafting municipal solid waste management rules, says most of the waste-to-energy and RDF plants in Andhra Pradesh have failed and are no longer functioning. “The only solution is to segregate waste at source,“ she said. “Citizens should give only wet waste to garbage collectors and donate all dry waste to rag pickers for a safe city ,“ she added.

B Janardhan Reddy , who was the director of municipal administration of united Andhra Pradesh, said: “Our waste-to-energy plants are not functioning, but we have initiated several composting and vermi-composting facilities in several civic bodies. This has resulted in the increase in the treatment of solid waste“.

Dharmesh Shah, environmentalist, said apart from composting and recycling, other solutions are not sustainable. “TN does not need to go around the world looking for models to emulate. We need to understand the problem and then apply appropriate solutions instead of shopping for solutions to fit a problem,“ he adds.

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 Oct 14 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
DLF scions hid info before IPO, finds Sebi
Mumbai:
 
 
 
 
DLF's run-ins with regulators continues to haunt it. On Monday , MARKETarrow-10x10.pngregulator Sebi barred the Delhibased real estate major and six of its top executives, including promoter-chairman K P Singh, from the capital MARKETarrow-10x10.png for three years due to lack of disclosure in the company's IPO prospectus when it went public in 2007.

The Sebi order follows a `630 crore fine imposed by fairplay regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) against DLF for abusing its dominant position to seriously discomfit flat owners in three Gurgaon apartments.The case is now in the Supreme Court.

The Sebi order, which relates to non-disclosure of an FIR against Sudipti Estates -a subsidiary of DLF -during the IPO process, now curtails DLF's ability to raise funds from the market. In its order, Sebi said that it found DLF and its directors, including Singh's son Rajiv and daughter Pia, guilty of “active and deliberate suppression“ of material information at the time of its public offer. The three others banned by Sebi are T C Goyal (MD), Kameshwar Swarup and Ramesh Sanka, both former directors on its board. Sebi, however, did not pass any order against G S Talwar, who was a non-executive director at that time, and gave him ‘benefit of doubt’. Sebi barred DLF and these six people from ‘accessing the securities market’ and prohibited them from ‘buying, selling or otherwise dealing in securities, directly or indirectly,’ for three years.

According to sources DLF is likely to contest the order in Securities Appellate Tribunal. Till late on Monday DLF, did not send its official comment on the Sebi order.

In April 2010, under order from Delhi high court, the MARKETarrow-10x10.png regulator started a probe to see if the disclosures made during DLF's IPO were proper. The HC order came after Kimsuk Krishna Sinha, a Delhi resident filed a case in the HC. In 2007 Sinha had also complained to Sebi against DLF which related to the company's dealings with other companies which were alleged to be closely related to the real estate major.

After serving a show cause notice (SCN), giving DLF and its directors to examine relevant documents based on which the SCN was served, Sebi also gave them a chance for personal representation. Post the due process, Sebi barred the company and the six people.

Sebi wholetime member Rajeev Kumar Agarwal found DLF and its top executives to have violated, among other laws, Disclosure and Investor Protection Guidelines and Prevention of Fraudulent and Unfair TRADEarrow-10x10.png Practices norms.

“In this case, I have already found that the process of share transfer of three subsidiaries of DLF in Sudipti, Shalika and Felicite was through sham transactions as alleged in the SCN and that the seven entities employed a plan, scheme, design and device to camouflage the association of DLF with its three subsidiaries,” the order noted.

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Oct 28 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Building collapses on Millers Road
Chennai
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
A two-storey commercial building collapsed on Millers Road near Motcham theatre around 11.30pm on Monday . Nobody was injured in the accident.

The building tilted to one side and a portion of it crashed down on a parked car on the road, a fire and rescue services official said, adding that the building was around 50 years old and had five shops on the ground floor and an empty hall on the first floor. The car on which the debris fell was badly damaged. It had been parked nearby when the building collapsed. building collapsed.

Earthmovers were used to excavate the de bris and remove the car. Police blocked the road so that the debris could be re moved quickly .

“There was nobody in side the building when the accident happened.We received a call at 1.40am and three fire tenders were rushed to the spot. We initially believed that there were people inside, but the owner informed us that the shops were closed for the day , he added.

Three fire tenders from Egmore, Kilpauk . and Ayanavaram rushed to the spot prepared for a rescue operation.

“We suspected that rain weakened the struc ture,“ a police officer said.

 
 
 
 
 


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Oct 28 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
SC offers hope to Campa residents, says new govt can take call
Mumbai
 
 
 
 
The Supreme Court again offered a glimmer of hope to the residents of Worli’s Campa Cola society, where the fate of nearly 100 illegal flats hangs in the balance.

The court said on Monday it was “not averse to any relief that the new government in Maharashtra may offer the residents, if it does”, while adjourning the case till next Monday.

The residents’ hopes now rest on the BJP-led government that will take power in the state. BJP leaders, particularly Shaina N C, have fought for the residents during the two long eviction dramas.

An SC bench of Justice S J Mukhopadhaya and Justice Sharad Bobde is hearing a residents’ petition seeking clarification on the apex court’s orders last year upholding the BMC’s demolition notice. All six buildings on the compound have several floors in excess of what was permitted.

The residents, seeking clarity on the possible actions the BMC could take, said regularization of the illegal floors was possible as there was space available near the compound to offset them. The civic body itself had earlier agreed and had accepted part payment of penalty from the builder, they pointed out.

When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, lawyer for the residents Kamini Jaiswal sought an adjournment as senior counsel Shanti Bhushan was not present. The judges asked if the state assembly elections were over. When informed that they were and the process of government formation was on, they said, “If the new government were to offer any relief, we would not be averse to it” and adjourned the hearing.

But the BMC has adopted a tough stand, opposing regularisation and saying the society did not even own the land it stood on. Deemed conveyance has been granted, but the BMC cited a June 12, 2014, government resolution dealing with unauthorised construction to claim that regularisation couldn’t be done.

 
 
 
 
 


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Oct 28 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Govt to launch zero liquid discharge pilot project
New Delhi:
 
 
 
 
If the Centre gets states on board, it will not allow any of the 140 drains between Gangotri and Gangasagar to open into the river Ganga to discharge municipal and industrial waste. A small step in this direction was taken on Monday when the government decided to launch a pilot project to usher in a ‘zero liquid discharge’ (ZLD) regime.

ZLD is a concept where the entire industrial and municipal waste can be reused after recycling without discharging a drop into any river.

At present, after being treated in different sewage treatment plants (STPs) and common effluent treatment plants (CETPs), municipalindustrial waste goes into drains and is eventually discharged into the river.

Announcing her ministry’s ambitious plan, Union water resources and Ganga rejuvenation minister Uma Bharti said, “A pilot project will be launched along Yamuna river stretch within 45 days. It will hopefully be completed in six months.

The success model will eventually be replicated for all drains and rivers across the country in due course.” The pilot project, between Mathura and Vrindavan in western Uttar Pradesh, will be carried out involving private companies in consulta tion with the state government. Water resources ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will be involved at every stage of implementation.

Emphasizing on dealing with dirty drains, Bharti said, “We have also prepared a plan. It will be implemented in such a manner that the drains do not open into rivers at all. All water will be recycled in a scientific manner so that it can be reused by municipal bodies and industrial units. Even farmers may be able to use it for irrigation“.

She also referred to a concept where the recycled water can be sold to end users. Many western countries use this model to not only keep their rivers and water streams clean but also conserve precious water.

Besides launching this ambitious project, the government will also set up a national volunteer force — Ganga Vahini — on the pattern of the Red Cross to keep watch on activities that pollute river. Volunteers, mainly ex-servicemen, college students and members of civil societies and Territorial Army, will help peopletourists to follow all dos and don’ts to keep the river clean.

Bharti said, “Volunteers will not interfere with religious practices of people.

They will only guide the people to practice it in a manner that it does not pollute the river”.

For full report, log on to http:www.timesofindia.com

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Nov 20 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Ambattur IT park sold for Rs 600 crore
Chennai:
TNN
 
 
 
Reflecting the appetite for quality IT space in the city, Indiabulls has acquired India Land Tech Park in Ambattur for `600 crore. It will be renamed One Indiabulls Park.

The 2.4 million sqft IT park, with leasable area of 2 million sqft and 10 acres of land, has gone at a conservative `3,000 per sqft. Taking into account the construction cost of IT parks in the city, the buyer has got the land virtually free, said a realty consultant. The Gagan Banga-promoted Indiabulls Securities' subsidiary, Indiabulls Distribution Services Limited, had purchased the IT park, the company informed stock exchanges. India Land in Ambattur industrial estate has three 16-storey towers. With steel girders and glass panels, it is one among the iconic buildings in Chennai. The park was designed by interna tionally acclaimed Zaha Hadid, UK.

“The buyer has got a good deal while for India Land the exit appears smooth considering they have divested two other real estate assets in Chennai. The transaction is a welcome sign and any rebranding by India Bulls will bring in a fresh perspective,“ said Rajesh Babu, chief consultant, RECS Group, a consultancy which marketed India Land to several clients including RBS.

India Land, promoted by Madrid-based NRI Harish Fa biani who is a co-promoter of Americorp Ventures is an in vestor in several successful companies including IndiaBulls, Edelweiss and TV 18.Fabiani brothers, Harish and Kamal, had purchased the land in 2006 at nearly `4 crore per acre, said sources.

Currently some portions of the towers are leased to tenants like RBS, Kone, Britannia Industries, Ajuba, Cov enant, Telebuy and IBox. By present rentals, Indiabulls may manage to get just about 10% annual returns from the investment, said a realtor.

Chennai has witnessed a few high-value land deals in the past two years. IndiabullsIndia Land deal announced on Wednesday is the second highest realty deal in Chennai.Chennai, saw a strong quarterly growth rate of more than 50% in Grade A office space absorption during the third quarter of 2014, signalling a sustained improvement in office space leasing sentiments, consultants CBRE said.

The office district of the Ambattur micro-market has attracted enhanced transactions over the past couple of quarters. Its proximity to the city centre and cost-effective rents have aided its emergance as a potential IT hub.

Nov 20 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
16-storey buildings are iconic structures
Chennai:
 
 
 
 
Reflecting the appetite for quality IT space in the city, Indiabulls has acquired India Land Tech Park in Ambattur for `600 crore. It will be renamed One Indiabulls Park.

The 2.4 million sqft IT park, with leasable area of 2 million sqft and 10 acres of land, has gone at a conservative `3,000 per sqft. Taking into account the construction cost of IT parks in the city, the buyer has got the land virtually free, said a realty consultant. The Gagan Banga-promoted Indiabulls Securities' subsidiary, Indiabulls Distribution Services Limited, had purchased the IT park, the company informed stock exchanges. India Land in Ambattur industrial estate has three 16-storey towers. With steel girders and glass panels, it is one among the iconic buildings in Chennai. The park was designed by interna tionally acclaimed Zaha Hadid, UK.

“The buyer has got a good deal while for India Land the exit appears smooth considering they have divested two other real estate assets in Chennai. The transaction is a welcome sign and any rebranding by India Bulls will bring in a fresh perspective,“ said Rajesh Babu, chief consultant, RECS Group, a consultancy which marketed India Land to several clients including RBS.

India Land, promoted by Madrid-based NRI Harish Fa biani who is a co-promoter of Americorp Ventures is an in vestor in several successful companies including IndiaBulls, Edelweiss and TV 18.Fabiani brothers, Harish and Kamal, had purchased the land in 2006 at nearly `4 crore per acre, said sources.

Currently some portions of the towers are leased to tenants like RBS, Kone, Britannia Industries, Ajuba, Cov enant, Telebuy and IBox. By present rentals, Indiabulls may manage to get just about 10% annual returns from the investment, said a realtor.

Chennai has witnessed a few high-value land deals in the past two years. IndiabullsIndia Land deal announced on Wednesday is the second highest realty deal in Chennai.Chennai, saw a strong quarterly growth rate of more than 50% in Grade A office space absorption during the third quarter of 2014, signalling a sustained improvement in office space leasing sentiments, consultants CBRE said.

The office district of the Ambattur micro-market has attracted enhanced transactions over the past couple of quarters. Its proximity to the city centre and cost-effective rents have aided its emergance as a potential IT hub.

20_11_2014_001_049_007.jpg
 


-- Edited by Admin on Thursday 20th of November 2014 02:39:29 PM

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Nov 23 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Alarm in K'taka, TN as Naidu 2.0 goes on biz hunt
HyderabadBengaluru Chennai
TNN
 
 
Uses New State's Tax Breaks To Woo Tech, Mfg Investment
For many years, after he lost office in 2004, Chandrababu Naidu would flinch when complimented on his industry-friendly approach as chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh. He seemed wary of owning up to his past, attributing his electoral loss to the pursuit of liberal economic policies that were seen to be focussed around Hyderabad and ignored the rest of the state, particularly rural Andhra.

Back in the saddle this June, Naidu 2.0 is closer to his old avatar. His pincer raids on Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have raised hackles in both Bengaluru and Chennai. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah has complained to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the unfair tax breaks Andhra gets because of its `new state' status.And no surprise, J Jayalalithaa had also shot off a similar missive to the PM.

That the CM of a state that's synonymous with IT and accounts for almost 40% of India's technology industry is worried about Naidu's charm offensive is a good indicator of how seriously Karnataka is taking the threat.

Naidu wants to attract $2 billion in IT investments over the next five years to Andhra.He also wants to create 50 lakh tech jobs, take broadband connectivity (1000 mbps or gigabit) to every village, and make at least one person e-literate in every household. To boost entrepreneurship, he plans to create one million sq ft of incubation space by 2019.

In early November, Naidu was back in Bengaluru meeting industry captains. He shared his vision on how technology would be the backbone of his new state. He also met senior executives from firms like Flipkart, First American Corporation, ITC Infotech and ABB among others.

Naidu also inaugurated the Bengaluru facility of Nutanix, one of Silicon Valley’s hottest start-ups, before sitting through an hour-long session on e-governance and financial inclusion at the start-up incubator founded by American-Indian billionaire Vinod Khosla. He visited Khosla Labs and was keen on exploring the possibility of using Aadhaar at MeeSeva (at your service in Telugu), a single portal for government-tocustomer and governmentto-business services. “He had a lot of questions on how GIS (geographic information systems) could help solve civic problems. Our whole pitch was about governing using data, about running cities using a single dashboard, and he was very impressed,” Srikanth Nadhamuni, CEO of Khosla Labs, told TOI.

“He’s clearly a very forward thinking leader, an entrepreneur at heart, someone very keen on public service,” said Dheeraj Pandey, founder of Nutanix, the five-year-old California-based company.

Naidu got to know of Nutanix thanks to B V Jagadeesh, an American-Indian entrepreneur who grew up in Bengaluru and is now an investor in a range of start-ups, including Nutanix. Naidu’s forays to Bengaluru have a specific purpose: To lure investments into the backward Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh, whose border lies just 80km from Bengaluru international airport. Naidu, in his state, is being accused of being partial to the region around Vijayawada, leaving the drylands of Rayalaseema — where his rival Jagan Reddy is strong — out of the development agenda.

In Tamil Nadu, Naidu’s focus is to get manufacturing investment to move across the border to Sri City, a special economic zone located in Tada, just 55km from Chennai, at the southernmost tip of Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district.

Naidu is pushing for Tada so that major investments that can leverage proximity to Chennai can be located here.

Japanese auto giant Isuzu first zeroed in on Chennai for its India plant, before settling on Sri City. Lack of industrial land and power in Tamil Nadu combined with access to a high-quality port at Krishnapatnam in Nellore is moving industrial projects across the border. This is naturally causing jitters in Chennai.

In fact, much to Karnataka’s chagrin, Naidu got Hero MotorCorp to set up its first factory in south Andhra Pradesh. Siddaramaiah had then said, “We offered maximum concessions to the company (tax holidays, excise duty exemption). But, AP offered them free land. We cannot do that.” Power is another plus for Naidu. With his government promising uninterrupted power to factories, the Andhra-TN border area is turning attractive for industry. In fact, what Naidu is doing to TN is exactly what that state did to Karnataka a couple of decades ago. Between 1978 and 1985, a flurry of investments meant for Bangalore stopped just inside the TN border. TVS Motor, Ashok Leyland, Titan and several others pumped in hundreds of crores into Hosur, which is 40km from Bangalore.

Manufacturing investments, obviously, are big on Naidu’s mind. End-November will see Naidu in Japan where he will pitch for Japanese companies to set up shop in Tada even while seeking investments for his new capital.

This is reminiscent of what he did earlier. In December 1999, Naidu had flown to Bangalore — which was a redhot tech destination — and pleaded with members of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to consider Andhra. He pitched proximity to the interstate border and assured investors of royal treatment. “More than what he said it was his audacity to call for investments from another state that appealed to businessmen. He was the first chief minister anywhere to woo investors from other states. Previously CMs only went to Delhi to showcase their states,” remembers T Ramappa, then secretary of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Businessmen were smitten and poured into Hyderabad for follow-up meetings.

Babu — as Naidu is referred to in Andhra Pradesh — did not restrict himself to the Karnataka capital. In the manner of a salesman, he travelled to the US and sat outside the office of Bill Gates for a few hours to meet him. The result: Microsoft set up a development centre in Hyderabad and kickstarted an IT enclave in the city of Nizams appropriately called Cyberabad. Many other tech companies followed although by the time they actually set up shop Naidu had lost the elections. They included Infosys, Wipro, Facebook and Google. Naidu also offered free land to the Indian School of Business and got it located in Hyderabad though its first choice was Maharashtra. Impressed by the upcoming Hyderabad, even US President Bill Clinton decided to drop by.

This time around, Naidu’s mission is different. Although he claims that creation of a modern IT industry in the new Andhra Pradesh is also his mission, insiders know that with a large coastline, exportoriented manufacturing near the ports offers a greater opportunity. Moreover, strapped for cash, Naidu requires a lot of investment for the mega new capital that he wants to build on the river Krishna across the city of Vijayawada. “I had wanted to develop Visakhapatnam after Hyderabad but by the time its turn came I had lost elections,” he says candidly.

Now, Visakhapatnam — with a navy base, two ports and a significant cosmopolitan crowd — is sought to be promoted as the Mumbai of the east. This is a trifle ambitious considering that the city is still reeling from a major cyclone and being on the east coast is vulnerable to more such storms in the future. “We also want to develop ocean-front Vizag that is surrounded by hills and exotic spots as a major tourism destination,” says Andhra’s special chief secretary Chandana Khan. According to latest reports, Singapore is weighing Naidu’s plea to help prepare a blue print for Andhra’s capital.

S M Krishna, when he was Karnataka chief minister, went head-to-head with Naidu to attract IT investments and turn Bangalore into a Singapore. If Naidu has his way, perhaps it will be Vijayawada that will become India’s Singapore.

(Inputs from ND Shivakumar in Bengaluru)

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 Nov 23 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Andhra woos cos with power, free land
 
 
 
Uses New State's Tax Breaks To Woo Tech, Mfg Investment
For many years, after he lost office in 2004, Chandrababu Naidu would flinch when complimented on his industry-friendly approach as chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh. He seemed wary of owning up to his past, attributing his electoral loss to the pursuit of liberal economic policies that were seen to be focussed around Hyderabad and ignored the rest of the state, particularly rural Andhra.

Back in the saddle this June, Naidu 2.0 is closer to his old avatar. His pincer raids on Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have raised hackles in both Bengaluru and Chennai. Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah has complained to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the unfair tax breaks Andhra gets because of its `new state' status.And no surprise, J Jayalalithaa had also shot off a similar missive to the PM.

That the CM of a state that's synonymous with IT and accounts for almost 40% of India's technology industry is worried about Naidu's charm offensive is a good indicator of how seriously Karnataka is taking the threat.

Naidu wants to attract $2 billion in IT investments over the next five years to Andhra.He also wants to create 50 lakh tech jobs, take broadband connectivity (1000 mbps or gigabit) to every village, and make at least one person e-literate in every household. To boost entrepreneurship, he plans to create one million sq ft of incubation space by 2019.

In early November, Naidu was back in Bengaluru meeting industry captains. He shared his vision on how technology would be the backbone of his new state. He also met senior executives from firms like Flipkart, First American Corporation, ITC Infotech and ABB among others.

Naidu also inaugurated the Bengaluru facility of Nutanix, one of Silicon Valley’s hottest start-ups, before sitting through an hour-long session on e-governance and financial inclusion at the start-up incubator founded by American-Indian billionaire Vinod Khosla. He visited Khosla Labs and was keen on exploring the possibility of using Aadhaar at MeeSeva (at your service in Telugu), a single portal for government-tocustomer and governmentto-business services. “He had a lot of questions on how GIS (geographic information systems) could help solve civic problems. Our whole pitch was about governing using data, about running cities using a single dashboard, and he was very impressed,” Srikanth Nadhamuni, CEO of Khosla Labs, told TOI.

“He’s clearly a very forward thinking leader, an entrepreneur at heart, someone very keen on public service,” said Dheeraj Pandey, founder of Nutanix, the five-year-old California-based company.

Naidu got to know of Nutanix thanks to B V Jagadeesh, an American-Indian entrepreneur who grew up in Bengaluru and is now an investor in a range of start-ups, including Nutanix. Naidu’s forays to Bengaluru have a specific purpose: To lure investments into the backward Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh, whose border lies just 80km from Bengaluru international airport. Naidu, in his state, is being accused of being partial to the region around Vijayawada, leaving the drylands of Rayalaseema — where his rival Jagan Reddy is strong — out of the development agenda.

In Tamil Nadu, Naidu’s focus is to get manufacturing investment to move across the border to Sri City, a special economic zone located in Tada, just 55km from Chennai, at the southernmost tip of Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district.

Naidu is pushing for Tada so that major investments that can leverage proximity to Chennai can be located here.

Japanese auto giant Isuzu first zeroed in on Chennai for its India plant, before settling on Sri City. Lack of industrial land and power in Tamil Nadu combined with access to a high-quality port at Krishnapatnam in Nellore is moving industrial projects across the border. This is naturally causing jitters in Chennai.

In fact, much to Karnataka’s chagrin, Naidu got Hero MotorCorp to set up its first factory in south Andhra Pradesh. Siddaramaiah had then said, “We offered maximum concessions to the company (tax holidays, excise duty exemption). But, AP offered them free land. We cannot do that.” Power is another plus for Naidu. With his government promising uninterrupted power to factories, the Andhra-TN border area is turning attractive for industry. In fact, what Naidu is doing to TN is exactly what that state did to Karnataka a couple of decades ago. Between 1978 and 1985, a flurry of investments meant for Bangalore stopped just inside the TN border. TVS Motor, Ashok Leyland, Titan and several others pumped in hundreds of crores into Hosur, which is 40km from Bangalore.

Manufacturing investments, obviously, are big on Naidu’s mind. End-November will see Naidu in Japan where he will pitch for Japanese companies to set up shop in Tada even while seeking investments for his new capital.

This is reminiscent of what he did earlier. In December 1999, Naidu had flown to Bangalore — which was a redhot tech destination — and pleaded with members of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to consider Andhra. He pitched proximity to the interstate border and assured investors of royal treatment. “More than what he said it was his audacity to call for investments from another state that appealed to businessmen. He was the first chief minister anywhere to woo investors from other states. Previously CMs only went to Delhi to showcase their states,” remembers T Ramappa, then secretary of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Businessmen were smitten and poured into Hyderabad for follow-up meetings.

Babu — as Naidu is referred to in Andhra Pradesh — did not restrict himself to the Karnataka capital. In the manner of a salesman, he travelled to the US and sat outside the office of Bill Gates for a few hours to meet him. The result: Microsoft set up a development centre in Hyderabad and kickstarted an IT enclave in the city of Nizams appropriately called Cyberabad. Many other tech companies followed although by the time they actually set up shop Naidu had lost the elections. They included Infosys, Wipro, Facebook and Google. Naidu also offered free land to the Indian School of Business and got it located in Hyderabad though its first choice was Maharashtra. Impressed by the upcoming Hyderabad, even US President Bill Clinton decided to drop by.

This time around, Naidu’s mission is different. Although he claims that creation of a modern IT industry in the new Andhra Pradesh is also his mission, insiders know that with a large coastline, exportoriented manufacturing near the ports offers a greater opportunity. Moreover, strapped for cash, Naidu requires a lot of investment for the mega new capital that he wants to build on the river Krishna across the city of Vijayawada. “I had wanted to develop Visakhapatnam after Hyderabad but by the time its turn came I had lost elections,” he says candidly.

Now, Visakhapatnam — with a navy base, two ports and a significant cosmopolitan crowd — is sought to be promoted as the Mumbai of the east. This is a trifle ambitious considering that the city is still reeling from a major cyclone and being on the east coast is vulnerable to more such storms in the future. “We also want to develop ocean-front Vizag that is surrounded by hills and exotic spots as a major tourism destination,” says Andhra’s special chief secretary Chandana Khan. According to latest reports, Singapore is weighing Naidu’s plea to help prepare a blue print for Andhra’s capital.

S M Krishna, when he was Karnataka chief minister, went head-to-head with Naidu to attract IT investments and turn Bangalore into a Singapore. If Naidu has his way, perhaps it will be Vijayawada that will become India’s Singapore.

(Inputs from ND Shivakumar in Bengaluru)

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Nov 24 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
IIT-M shows the way in low-cost housing
Chennai:
 
 
 
In Talks With Tata Housing For Project In Mumbai
With real estate prices and cost of construction on the rise, owning a house in cities remains a dream for the middle class.

But it might soon be a thing of the past, courtesy IIT-Madras and its efforts to popularise the cost-effective, rapid and eco-friendly method of construction using Glass Fiber Reinforced Gypsum (GFRG) panels.

After the successful construction of a two-storey building at the IIT campus in June this year using GFRG panels, experts from the civil engineering department of the institute are close to an agreement with Tata Housing Development Corporation Ltd to build a housing project at Boisar, a suburb in Mumbai, for low-income groups.

The GFRG building method essentially uses glass fibres and specially calcined gypsum plaster to make the regular panel stronger and water resistant.

According to Shinto Paul, structural design engineer for the GFRG building at IIT-M and PhD scholar at the civil engineering department, the foundation for the building is laid in the regular manner and GFRG panels are used for erecting the remaining superstructure with minimum concrete usage except at the joints and cavities of the panel. Once the foundation is constructed and the panels are erected, the main structure can be built in a few days.

However, while using GFRG panels, all floors should ideally have the same floor plan. Curved structures and domes are best avoided or concrete can be used for such areas.

“The rapid low-cost housing project is headed in the right direction and we are in talks with Tata Housing to use the technology for mass housing projects. We are also collaborating with various state governments and housing structures are already being built in Kerala using this technique.” said Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director, IIT Madras.

A senior official with Tata Housing confirmed the development and said the pilot project discussions were under way. The pilot module of the Boisar project consists of nine buildings, each with five floors and eight apartments on each floor. After the construction of the pilot module, the project may be scaled up with more buildings. It is estimated that the total cost of construction will be limited to less than `1,200 per sqft.

“We have been getting numerous enquiries about the project after the completion of the demo building at our campus,“ said A Meher Prasad, head of the department of civil engineering, IIT Madras. The 1,981sqft two-storeyed building at the IIT campus, with two one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments, was completed in just a month at a cost of `24 lakh.

“We are constructing a 54unit housing building for Kerala government at Chottanikara at a cost of `1,000 per sqft. The idea is to bring down the cost of constructing the structure and the customer can choose the remaining accessories and fittings,“ said Shinto Paul.

As of now, the GFRG panels are being manufactured at FACT-RCF Building Products Ltd (FRBL) in Kochi, a joint venture between The Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd (FACT) and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mumbai. Proposals have been mooted to the Union government and more manufacturing units for GFRG panels are expected to be set up across the country to further scale down the transportation cost of the panels.

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Nov 24 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Coimbatore rises in ranking for IT potential
Coimbatore:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
City Tops Nasscom List Of Challengers To Metros
As the textile city gears up to celebrate Coimbatore Day on Monday to mark the day when the town was declared the district headquarters in 1804, residents and industrialists are rather chuffed to hear that a Nasscom report has placed Coimbatore high on the list of challengers to established metros like Mumbai and Chennai, thanks to its talent pool and low cost.

The city ranked first in available talent pool among 10 challenger cities, including Ahmedabad and Kolkata and second in cost effectiveness. Coimbatore hosts companies such as Cognizant, Wipro, Infosys, Robert Bosch, TCS, IBM and KGISL.

In the last three years, 100 startup IT companies have set up shop in Coimbatore, said K Purushothaman, regional director, Nasscom, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. “ About 50 of these companies are valued between `1 crore and `10 crore,“ he said.

Starting out as a cotton mill cluster, its industry focus shifted to textiles then pumpset and wet grinder manufacturing. It then became an auto spare parts making pioneer. Coimbatore has constantly reinvented itself as a thriving industrial destination. The coming decade could perhaps belong to the IT sector.

The newly established IT companies in Coimbatore are growing at a healthy 15%, said Purushothaman. “These companies are doing better than those in other tier II cities,“ he said.

This growth has happened at a time when the manufacturing sector in the city was going through a turbulent period due to power cuts, taxation policy and economic slowdown. “ After the economic slowdown in 2008, suspension of yarn export and high volatility in cotton price, power crisis and high VAT affected the textile industry ,“ said K Selvaraj, secretary general, South India Mills Association.

K Nandakumar, president, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry , said auto spares makers and the pump set sector, which is the largest in the country with a 50% market share, were also hit over the past few years. “Usually , the pump set sector slows down in September and picks up in January . But the pattern did not set in this year,“ he said. “But the future is bright. The sluggish pace is only part of a cycle.“

Industry captains expressed apprehension over growth of IT sector in Coimbatore. “Connectivity is a major drawback. Though IT companies have branches here, big projects go to other cities,“ said an industrialist.

Representatives of the IT sector said connectivity is a problem but they are optimistic. “These are challenges not deterrents. Even Bangalore faced lot of problems in the early days,“ said Anand Purushothaman, CEO of Payoda Technologies, which opened in the city four years ago. “We have plans for exponential growth next year.“

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MRF to buy Sterling Towers for Rs90 crore

India's largest tyre maker MRF is in an advanced stage of negotiations to buy Sterling Towers on Anna Salai, NRI businessman C Sivasankaran's headquarters. 
      “The transaction is in its final leg and could be announced anytime. The deal size is nearly `90 crore, making it one of the biggest on the arterial stretch,“ a source said. The funds raised through the sale will be used to repay debt the seller has with Axis Bank, it is learnt. 
      Sivasankaran (known as Siva in business circles and who does not hold any shares in any of his businesses) filed for bankruptcy protection in a Seychelles court to ward off a claim by his Bahrain-based telecom partner Batelco, which won a court decree for its $212million claim on its investment in S Tel, for which he stood personal guarantee.S Tel's telecom licences were cancelled by the Supreme Court in the 2G case. Sivasankaran, 59, a resident of Seychelles, filed for insolvency in a court there in early August. The Supreme Court of Seychelles ordered him insolvent on August 26 and has since appointed a receiver. 
      Sterling Towers, owned by Siva Industries and Holdings, was promoted by Arihant Foundations and was purchased by Sivasankaran for `24 crore in the late 1990s.Built on 26,275 square feet of land, the iconic building in Teynampet abuts the Gemini flyover.The 13-storey tower has 92,300sqft of built-up area and a swimming pool on the roof. 
      MRF could not be contacted for confirmation and offi cials of the Siva group were tight-lipped on the deal. “At nearly `10,000sqft, both parties must have a winning feeling. Such transactions trigger interest in the sector,“ S Ramaswamy, chief consultant at RECS Group, a real estate consultancy said. 
      New properties are fetching around `12,500sqft in the vicinity of Sterling Towers, he said. 



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Dec 05 2014 : The Times of India (Chennai)
 
Lack of clarity on bldg plan hampers Moulivakkam case
Chennai:
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
 
 
 
Even about six months after 61 people lost their lives in the building collapse at Moulivakkam, there is little clarity about the building plan application and structural stability details submitted by the promoter to authorities.

The 12-storey residential tower under construction near Porur collapsed on June 28, apparently owing to poor quality of construction and grave vio lations of building rules. Much of the area around the collapse site still remains a `danger zone' as declared by the government.

When the PILs relating to the collapse, including one seeking a CBI probe, came up for hearing before the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan on Thursday , advocate general of Tamil Nadu A L Somayaji said whether the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) had approved the original plan or a `modified plan' had to be clarified by the officials concerned.

P Wilson, senior counsel for DMK leader M K Stalin, who has filed a PIL seeking a CBI probe, submitted that there was no such a thing as `modified plan' and that CMDA officials had cleared an original plan which did not have crucial details. The judges said if it was the original plan that was cleared, then there were grave deficiencies on the part of the authority concerned. Referring to shortfalls pointed out by experts who had analysed the documents, the judges said if such irregularities pertained to the original plan then the investigating officer must look into it.

Opening up the possibility of the investigating officials filing supplementary chargesheet in the case, the judges said: “We are conscious of the fact that the statements recorded under Section 161(3) of the CrPC would have been placed before the magistrate, who, of course, can always examine whether any more accused are required to be added or not.“

Wondering as to how the authorities could issue planning permission without looking into the structural stability, they said required road width and setback too had been relaxed by the government.

Earlier, Wilson charged officials with trying to protect the building which stood next to the collapsed building and said said it must be razed.

To this, Somayaji said a notice has been issued to demolish the building. However, the notice had been challenged in the high court and the petition is scheduled to come up for hearing on December 11. The bench posted that case also to January 8 for a hearing.

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