KOCHI l Thursday l September 16, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 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 Stress-buster reforms for telecom sector 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 . Survey I-T sleuths search actor Sonu Sood’s properties E x p r e ss Ne ws Se r v i ce @ 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. 16 pages, including 4 pages of KOCHI Express 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 K26,058 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 D26,058 crore over a five-year period | P10 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. One more Cong leader joins CPM; CM says healthy trend C y n t h i a C h a n d r a n @ T’Puram CLOSE on the heels of K P Anilkumar, Congress former state general secretary G Rathikumar quit the party and joined the CPM on Wednesday. CM Pinarayi Vijayan said disgruntled Congress leaders joining CPM is a healthy trend. Rathikumar, who had begun his political career with the KSU, slammed AICC general secretary K C Venugopal, state chief K Sudhakaran and working president Kodikunnil Suresh for destroying the party. CPM politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan welcomed Rathikumar at AKG Centre. He was accompanied by CPM ing happened and we Kollam district secretary could revive the party,” S Sudevan, who had been said Satheesan. Rathikumar’s resignainstrumental in initiattion, eighth from the party ing talks with in the past six months, has Rathikumar. fuelled speculation that His resignation from more second-rung leaders the party happened a few G Rathikumar may join the CPM. hours after Opposition The Congress state leaderLeader V D Satheesan’s statement that nobody is indispensa- ship’s decision on Wednesday to not have leaders who had been ble to the party . “Even if I leave tomorrow, in a party post for five years in nothing will happen to the party district or state committees has . When legendary leader K Karu- left several of them disgruntled. ● More on P4 nakaran left the Congress, noth- Even if I leave tomorrow, nothing will happen to the party. When legendary leader K Karunakaran had left the Congress, nothing happened and we could revive the party — V D Satheesan, Oppn Leader 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 ce 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.” Rajamony to be state’s special envoy in Delhi E x p r e s s Ne w s Se r v i ce @ T’Puram FORMER Netherlands ambassador Venu Rajamony has been appointed the state government’s officer on special duty in New Delhi with chief secretary’s rank. During his one-year term, he will function as a link between the state and central governments. The 1986-batch IFS officer is expected to take up issues faced by non-resident Keralites with the Union government. CM Pinarayi Vijayan said. “The state will have to be in touch with other countries, their governments and ambassadors there. The services of a former diplomat will prove beneficial to the state,” the CM said. Rajamony’s honorarium of `1 lakh per month will be paid by Norka, said a government order. iuml, msf leaders slammed We’re portrayed as liars & arrogant: Haritha ex-leaders E x p r e s s Ne w s Se r v i ce @ Kozhikode UNLEASHING a scathing attack on a section of IUML and MSF leaders, former leaders of girls’ collective Haritha said there is a concerted move to denigrate them in public. Addressing a news conference here on Wednesday former , Haritha president Mufeeda Thesni and ex-general secretary Najma Thabsheera said they have been facing cyber attacks for the past few weeks. In a related development, MSF state vice-president P P Shyjal, who had extended support to the girls, has been removed from the post. Shyjal had openly protested the way the Haritha state committee was dissolved. Targeting IUML state acting secretary P M A Salam specifically, the former Haritha leaders said he has been spreading halftruth about them. Thabsheera said Salam had said the girls were keener on “roaming around Kozhikode market.” Thesni said some MSF leaders had remarked the girls are “a special kind of feminists who are reluctant to conceive” and “who would go for abortion when they become pregnant”. “We are being portrayed as arrogant, liars and as those who don’t follow party discipline. Some say we brought ignominy to the party by talking about menstrual cup,” Thesni said. She said that MSF state president P K Navas had said the girls in Haritha are controlled by one ‘cyber goonda’ and the party cannot take any action against him because the person is in possession of some photos and videos of them. ● More on P4 GIRLS’ GRIEVANCES Indian Union Muslim League state acting secretary P M A Salam said the girls were keener on “roaming around Kozhikode market” 1 MSF state president P K Navas said the girls in Haritha are controlled by one ‘cyber goonda’ 2 MSF leaders said they are “a special kind of feminists who are reluctant to conceive” and “who would go for abortion” 3 Some say Haritha girls brought ignominy to the League by talking about menstrual cup 4 Jab-o-meter Take your shot Sep 14 54,72,356 doses Sep 15 57,10,380 doses Total doses 76,49,36,158 NATIONWIDE sep 14 sep 15 Fresh cases 25,404 27,176 Recoveries 32,127 38,012 Deaths 339 284 statewide sept 14 sep 15 Fresh cases 15,876 17,681 Recoveries 25,654 25,588 Deaths 129 208 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 word?” the bench September 12, a speChandrachud 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 Suresh Gopi makes SI salute him, sparks row Thrissur: Actor-turned-Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi courted a controversy when he allegedly made an SI salute him. The incident occurred when Gopi visited Puthur to distribute aid to families hit by a storm. When the video clip of the incident went viral, the MP told reporters he did not force the officer to salute. P4 Modi, Mamata 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 Afghanistan’s new deputy prime minister Abdul Ghani Baradar. The other Indian to figure on the list is vaccine czar Adar Poonawalla, who heads the Serum Institute of India
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