TIRUCHY l thursday l september 16, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l lATE CITY EDITION Tatas bid to re-acquire Air India 68 years after losing it Tata Sons, the holding company of Tata Group, on Wednesday submitted a financial bid to acquire the loss-making carrier SpiceJet Also in the race, say reports Cabinet to clear the winning bid If the bid by Tata Sons, the holding company of India’s largest conglomerate, is successful, it will mark the return of Air India to Tatas. The Tata Group founded Air India as Tata Airlines in October 1932 but lost it after the government nationalised the airline in 1953. SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh has also bid for the airline in his personal capacity, reports said ■ ■ The bid offering the highest price above the reserve price would be accepted. The winning bid will be examined by the transaction advisor before the recommendation is sent to the Cabinet Govt plans to sell 100% of its stake in AI, including AI’s 100% stake in AI Express Ltd and 50% in Air India SATS Airport Services Wednesday was the last day for putting in financial bids to buy air india CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Reforms, relief for bleeding telecom firms 100% FDI through automatic route; 4-year moratorium on all government dues; non-telecom revenues out of AGR J o n at h a n A n a n da @ Chennai THE Centre on Wednesday opened up the telecom sector to 100% foreign direct investment through the automatic route and announced a slew of measures to lift the distressed industry. These include a four-year moratorium on government dues such as adjusted gross revenue (AGR) and spectrum payments, besides rationaisation of spectrum charges. The government also tweaked the definition of AGR to confine it to telecom revenues, seeking to ease the `1.52 lakh crore burden on telcos caused by a 2019 Supreme Court order that held that the existing definition of AGR included nontelecom revenues. The moratorium on AGR dues provides an annual cash flow breather of around `14,000 crore for the industry, while the break on spectrum dues gives another `32,000 crore of annual cash flow relief, according to rating agency ICRA. Companies opting for moratorium need to pay interest on the amount and such firms will have the option to pay this interest by way of equity. Guidelines for the same will be finalised by the finance ministry . The relief on AGR and statutory dues will have a big impact on freeing up the telecom industry’s cash flow. Upcoming AGR due payments had placed serious financial constraints on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, which were struggling to arrange large-scale capital expenditure required for network upgradation and expansion. AGR dues of cash-strapped Vodafone Idea amounted to `58,000 crore and for Airtel, it `26,058 crore incentive scheme for auto sector The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Production Linked Incentive scheme for the auto sector to promote advance automotive technologies, including clean energy vehicles, with incentives worth `26,058 crore over a five-year period | P10 Survey was `43,000 crore. Reliance Jio only had to pay `190 crore as AGR dues by virtue of being a late entrant to the market. Among the other reforms announced by Union telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw are an 80% reduction in bank guarantees against licence fees. From now on, there will be no need to produce multiple bank guarantees to secure licences, he said. Interest rates and penalties on delayed statutory payments have also been cut, while the tenure of spectrum licences for future auctions has been raised from 20 to 30 years. With the enhanced FDI limit, the Centre expects to attract fresh investment in the sector. ngt panel to probe illegal sand mining I-T sleuths search actor Sonu Sood’s properties ment Authority, Chennai District Collector, Superintending Engineer from the Public Works The Southern Bench of the Na- Department (PWD), and the City tional Green T ribunal on Police Commissioner or another Wednesday constituted a com- officer recommended by him. mittee to look into the illegal The committee shall submit a sand mining from the Cooum report before October 8. river close to the Marina in The committee is to inChennai. The tribunal vestigate whether sand was hearing a petition express was mined illegally, who that cited TNIE’s excluused the sand, what acImpact tion has been initiated, sive report on the mining taking place in the heart and also to assess the enof the city . vironmental impact of such The bench of judicial member an operation in the area. The Justice K Ramakrishnan and ex- PWD, State Coastal Management pert member K Satyagopal said Authority and the Collector have , the committee will have a senior also been asked to submit indeofficial from the regional office pendent reports. They must conof the Ministry of Environment duct surprise inspections, inand Forest, a senior official of cluding at nights, the bench the TN Coastal Zone Manage- directed. continued on: p5 N i r u pa m a V i s w a n at h a n @ Chennai The September 7 TNIE story highlighted illegal sand mining off Marina beach E x p r e ss Ne ws Se r v i c e @ Mumbai THE income tax department on Wednesday searched the Mumbai properties of film actor Sonu Sood, who has earned wide acclaim for his charity work during the pandemic. According to officials, the recent deal between Sood’s company and a Lucknowbased real estate firm is under the scanner and there was a mismatch in the account book. Therefore, a ‘survey operation’ was initiated on Wednesday they added. , The 48-year-old is known for his humanitarian efforts. He had organised special flights and buses for migrants stranded during the lockdown. He also arranged oxygen supply for Covid patients during the peak of the second Covid wave. Recently, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal declared him the brand ambassador for his government’s mentorship programme for school students. The move created a buzz that Sood may join politics, though the actor denied this. Reacting sharply to the survey, the Aam Aadmi Party alleged political vendetta behind it. “An I-T raid on a man as upright as Sonu Sood, somebody who has been called a messiah by lakhs of people, somebody who helped the downtrodden. If a man like him can be politically targeted in a well thought out witch-hunt shows that the current regime is insensitive and politically insecure,” said AAP leader Raghav Chaddha. Kejriwal tweeted that truth will prevail in the end. “Sonu Sood has the blessings of lakhs of families, whom he had helped during their difficult times,” he tweeted. ‘Severe degradation to coastal ecosystem’ The NGT tribunal was hearing a petition filed by MR Thiyagarajan, president of Meenava Thanthai KR Selvaraj Kumar Meenava Nala Sangam. Thiyagarajan stated the large-scale illegal mining of sand from the area had caused severe degradation to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and to the coastal ecosystem, thereby posing a risk to the fishing community’s livelihood. The petitioner had cited the TNIE report highlighting the issue India calls out Pak, OIC for K-anard at UNHRC session E x p r e s s Ne w s Se r v i c e India on Wednesday gave the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) a piece of its mind for raising Kashmir at the UN Human Rights Commission, calling it out for allowing itself to be held hostage by Pakistan. Exercising its rights to respond to comments made by Pakistan and the OIC on Kashmir at the ongoing session of the council, India said Pakistan has been globally recognised as a country openly supporting, training, financing and arming terrorists as a matter of state policy . The stinging response came from Pawan Badhe, first secretary in India’s permanent mission in Geneva. “India, as not only the world’s largest democracy but a robustly functional and vibrant one, does not need lessons from a failed state like Pakistan which is the epicentre of terrorism and worst abuser of human rights,” he acidly said. Pakistan, he added, has failed to protect the rights of its minorities, including Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and Ahmadiyas. “Pakistan has been engaged in systematic persecution, forced conversions, targeted killings, sectarian violence and faith-based discrimination against its ethnic and religious minorities,” he said. Turning his attention to the OIC, Badhe said it has no locus to comment on Kashmir. “The OIC has helplessly allowed itself to be held hostage by Pakistan.... It’s for the members of the OIC to decide if it is in their interest to allow Pakistan to do so.” all eyes on sept 22 meeting Will TN host Tamil conference again? T M u r u g a n a n d h a m @ Chennai The preliminary work in organising the 11th World Tamil Conference (WTC), that has been on informally for the past several months, is expected to gain momentum with the International Association of Tamil Research (IATR) scheduling its formal meeting on September 22 in Chennai. DMK spokesperson KS Radhakrishnan, who is also coordinator of the IATR, has brought it to the notice of Chief Minister MK Stalin that his government could have the privilege of conducting this conference, wherein hun- dreds of scholars from across the globe would take part. Also, Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, Thangam Thennarasu, had said the CM is keen on conducting the next WTC in TN. Stalin’s father, M Karunanidhi, was eager to conduct the event in the State when he was CM in 2010 but was unable to do so. Stalin is likely to take a decision on this soon. Sources said the IATR has received requests from many countries, including France, South Africa, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka, among others to conduct the 11th WTC. Interestingly, the Union Ministry of Culture, too, has sought permission to conduct the next WTC and proposed an Indian Institute of Technology complex as the venue for the same. The meeting is likely to consider these requests besides discussing the conference’s theme. Ever since its inception in 1964, the IATR has conducted 10 such conferences, of which three were held in TN — the second (1968) in Chennai, the fifth (1981) in Madurai, and the eighth (1995) in Thanjavur. continued on: p5 stalin urges students not to worry about neet The CM’s statement comes even as another student in Vellore killed herself over concerns about the test | P2 AICTE bars intake to 5 TN engg colleges S MANNAR MANNAN @ Chennai The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has debarred six institutions in Tamil Nadu from admitting students this year after they were found violating the council’s norms. Among the institutes, five are engineering colle g es (two in Kancheepuram and one each in Coimbatore, Tiruchy and Vellore , districts), and one polytechnic in Pudukkottai. The AICTE has stopped admission in 34 institutions across the country . “This year, we did not conducted a surprise inspection at technical education institutions. We only took action on colleges against which we received complaints. The violations include not maintaining faculty-student ratio, and not having required infrastructure, including land, among others,” said an AICTE official. The AICTE allowed 108 technical institutions, including 18 in TN, to wind up operations, after the latter felt it was not viable for them to function. Further, four new institutions in TN (two MBA colleges, one MCA college, and one offering MBA and MCA) have been allowed to open. P4 Jab-o-meter Take your shot Sep 14 54,72,356 doses Sep 15 57,10,380 doses Total doses 76,49,36,158 N TO WD sep14 sep15 AI N I E Fresh cases 25,404 27,176 Recoveries 32,127 38,012 Deaths 339 284 tamil nadu sept sep15 14 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 1,591 1,537 27 1,658 1,542 29 Cherry-picking names for tribunals angers SC this,” the CJI asked. ITAT appointments, too, were on simiT he S u p r e m e C o u r t o n lar lines, the bench said. Wednesday came down heavily “As part of SCSC for NCLT, I on the Centre for cherry-pick- interviewed 534 candidates for ing names recommended by the judicial post and 400-odd for Search and Selection Commit- technical. Out of that we chose tees (SCSCs) for filling up tribu- 11 for judicial and 10 for techninal vacancies, adding it will cal. Of the judicial members, hold its hand for now on they selected four and hauling the government picked up three others up for contempt. from the waitlist. Same While the Centre with technical memclaimed it had notified b e r s. We t r ave l l e d 84 appointments in across the country for three different tributhis... But it seems to nals — National Com- Time sought be a waste of time,” pany Law Tribunal the CJI rued. “What is the (NCLT), Armed ForcVenugopal defended sanctity of the es Tribunal (AFT) and the government, citprocess if govt Income Tax Appellate ing a provision under has the last Tribunal (ITAT) — on the new Act. Justice September 12, a spe- word?” the bench Chandrachud remindasked. The A-G cial bench led by Chief ed him that he was resaid, “Please Justice of India N V lying on a provision have it after a Ramana and comprisstruck down by the SC week. We’ll ing justices D Y Chanin July. When Justice reconsider nondrachud and L N Rao Rao emphasised the acceptance list.” took a swipe at it. government couldn’t The SCSC recomhave picked up people mended 11 judicial members from the list prepared for laterand 10 technical members for day vacancies, the A-G said the NCLT. But the appointment let- government was well within its ters suggest some members rights to do so. were cherry-picked. “We canVenugopal cited the The Trinot ignore selected candidates bunal Reforms Act, 2021, to asand go to waitlist. What type of sert the Centre’s dominance selection and appointment is over such appointments. K a n u S a r d a @ New Delhi express read Modi, Mamata, Adar on Time’s list West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made her debut on the list of 100 most influential people put out by Time magazine this year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued to stay on the list, in the leaders’ category. The surprise element was Taliban’s negotiator with the US and Afghanistan’s new deputy prime minister Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was injured in a brawl with the Haqqani group in Kabul last week over the spoils of power and has since gone to Kandahar. The other Indian to figure on the list is vaccine czar Adar Poonawalla, who heads the Serum Institute of India
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