Archive | February, 2011

Key documents on 2G scam “untraceable” in DoT: CBI to court

Posted on 28 February 2011 by GGS News

New Delhi,(GGS NEWS) 28 Feb 2011 :  Some crucial documents of a telecom firm given to Department of Telecom for allocation of 2G spectrum to it and forming key evidence in the scam has gone missing from the Department, CBI told a court here on Monday.

“The documents submitted by one telecom company to DoT for allocation of spectrum, on the basis of which their (telecom firm’s) priority was to be determined, are reported to be untraceable and could not yet be traced or recovered,” CBI told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.CBI made the submission in its reply opposing the bail plea of former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura who was arrested with ex-Telecom Minister A Raja on February 2 for his alleged role in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

CBI opposed the bail plea also saying “some more documents are yet to be recovered” be them.

Detailing the alleged role of Behura in the 2G scam, CBI said Raja and Behura had abused their official position as “public servants” and approved the file relating to verification of eligibility conditions of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd.

“Raja and Behura, by abusing their official positions as public servants and thereby ignoring the serious issues raised by the concerned section for further verification of eligibility conditions of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, have dishonestly approved the file on January 9, 2008 for issue of Letters of Intent (LoI) for 13 telecom service areas,” CBI said.

CBI said Behura, in conspiracy with Raja’s former personal secretary R K Chandolia and others, had made arrangements for distribution of LoIs and responses of DoT in an arbitrary and unfair manner.

It said Behura and others have done this in an unfair manner as the same were “neither distributed simultaneously nor on first-come-first-serve basis, but instead were distributed in a manner designed to benefit Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and other companies.”

CBI opposed the bail plea of Behura, also saying he is “an influential person” and there is every likelihood of tampering of evidence and threatening of witnesses by him.

The court fixed March 9 to hear arguments on Behura’s bail plea.

CBI, meanwhile, sought some time from the court for filing its reply on Behura’s plea that his bank accounts, sealed by CBI, be de-freezed as he needs money for treatment of his wife who had recently undergone operation for cancer.

The court listed the matter for CBI’s reply on March 15. Behura is now in judicial custody till March 3.

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Union Budget on right track: India Inc

Posted on 28 February 2011 by GGS News

New Delhi,(GGS NEWS) 28 Feb 2011 :  Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s third Union Budget for current term of the UPA government got a thumbs-up from the Indian industries, which hailed it as the growth oriented one.

Reacting to the Union Budget, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) President Hari Bhartia said, “This is really a growth-oriented budget”. He, however, said the Finance Minister should have given more stress to the health sector and the demand for treatment of healthcare as infrastructure has been overlooked”.

The slew of measures announced by the Finance Minister to push economic growth on fast track, stirred-up exhilarated reactions from economists as well.

Terming the Budget as balanced, HSBC India country head Naina Lal Kidwai said: “The Finance Minister has allowed the growth agenda to stay on track.”

She also said the Budget has also set the direction for financial sectors reforms with Mukherjee promising take forward many pending Bills in Parliament soon.

FICCI President Rajan Bharti Mittal said the Budget is balanced and will sustain the growth momentum, while giving main emphasis on agriculture and manufacturing.

However, not all industries were happy with the Budget proposal, especially those in the iron ore mining sector which will now have to pay 20 percent export duty.

“Iron ore industry will not be able to absorb it (export duty 20 percent). It will affect export earnings of the country,” Roongta Mines Ltd President Siddharth Roongta said.

Expressing similar views, Kotak Mahindra Bank Vice Chairman and Managing Director Uday Kotak said, “Budget is positive for the equity and bond market. A 4.6 percent fiscal deficit is looking like a very good number.”

He said the auto sector was expecting a hike in excise, which has been kept unchanged at the existing levels.

“Budget has positively surprised us,” he said, adding the “Budget has done better than normal expectation”.

He, however, said that the income tax relief provided to general tax payers as “marginal move” as it has been increased by only Rs 20,000 to Rs 1.80 lakh from current limit of Rs 1.60 lakh.

Principal Economist for Deloitte in India Shanto Ghosh said: “Overall, the policy prescriptions outlined in the Budget were lacklustre and can be considered more of tinkering around the edges without ushering in radical reforms.”

Ghosh, however, said the commitment to refrain from additional borrowing to fund the fiscal deficit will certainly help retain the momentum in terms of private investment that is critical to sustained growth.

Although there were no specific measures, such as allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, Future Group Chief Kishore Biyani said the government is showing its recognition through the Budget what the modern retail has been saying so far.

“The announcements made to strengthen the farm sector, cold chain investments and recommendations to amend the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act are all indicative of the government`s will,” he said.

“All the measures announced today are a precursor for things to come,” Biyani added.

Expressing satisfaction over the various proposals of the Budget Adi Godrej, Chairman, Godrej Consumer Products said, “I think the most important thing is that he has clearly given a signal of GST coming through soon…that is a major development which is very welcome as it will help us solve a lot of macroeconomic issues, including inflation, fiscal deficit and help GDP growth.

However economist Shankar Acharya was upset with the fate of the multi-brand retail segment in the country.

Jaithirth Rao, Indian businessman and former CEO of the software company MphasiS said that it was an average budget.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Group CEO of Bharti Enterprises seemed happy with the budget. Reacting on the Union Budget the entrepreneur said, “Good that there are not too many social schemes”.

ENAM Securities Chairman Vallabh Bhansali said, “He (Mukherjee) has succeeded in fighting all populist forces I am happy with what he has done.”

V Vaidyanathan, MD & Vice Chairman, Future Capital Holdings said, “maintaining government borrowing at 3.4 lakh crores is a big relief, and achieving it despite not touching excise rates is a great job. The budget has spelt (out) reforms in Foreign Direct Investment in insurance, banking, infrastructure, despite not being very explicit about it, probably deliberately.”

Vardhan Dharkar, CFO, KEC International said, “It (the excise duty exemption on power equipment supplied to mega and ultra mega power projects) will correct the anomaly that existed between Indian suppliers and international suppliers who get customs duty exemption on power equipment supplied to mega power projects and will create a level-playing field for both.”

MS Unnikrishnan, MD, Thermax said, “certainly it (excise duty exemption on power equipment) will improve the competitiveness of Indian manufacturers (of capital goods)…We would certainly look forward to the terminal duty to be totally waived off with all input moved facilities being allowed…That is not enough but that is a move towards the right direction. “There is nothing which is substantially announced in the budget. It is a very normal budget.”

Akhil Jindal, Director, Welspun Group said, “There was no mention of TUF (technology up gradation fund), no mention of any subsidies – this (textiles) is such an employment generation unit. This is quite surprising. For textiles, I don`t think there was any sop, unless I missed something in the speech.”

Pranabh Mody, president, JB Chemicals said, “added tax exemption for outsourced R&D from 175 percent to 200 percent is a good step but that would be neutralised by the hiked MAT and surcharge.”

“There is nothing significant in terms of reforms and issues related to tax exemption for export units remain ignored while SEZs will face added taxes.”

Vinay Kshirsagar, CFO, Shreyas Shipping and Logistics said, “as far as shipping industry is concerned the Finance Minister has removed duty on imports of spares. This is a direct benefit for domestic shipping firms as repair costs will go down. He has also allocated funds for warehousing and announced steps to improve cold storage chains. This will indirectly help the logistic industry. He has taken note of the bottlenecks in supply chain process and there is an attempt to reduce the bottlenecks for the sector.”

“For the sector, another good development is reduction in surcharge from 7.5 percent to 5 percent. So as the surcharge comes down, even with the base MAT rate being hiked from 18 to 18.5 percent, it (the effective rate) remains unchanged.”

Arvind Parakh, Director, JSL Stainless said, “For the stainless steel industry, the budget has been very positive. Import duty on scrap, which was 2.5 percent, has been brought down to zero. Also, on ferro-chrome he has rationalised the import duty, we have to wait and see. So, net-net, it is positive for the industry as it will help us reduce the cost on an average by anywhere between $40 and $50 per tonne.”

Nittin Johari, CFO, Bhushan Steel said, “The increase in export duty on iron ore will increase its availability in the domestic market, thereby stabilising price and helping domestic steelmakers.”

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Del Potro wins Delray Beach ATP title

Posted on 28 February 2011 by GGS News

Delray Beach,(GGS NEWS) 28 Feb 2011 :  Juan Martin del Potro won his first title since his 2009 US Open triumph, beating Janko Tipsarevic in the final of the USD 442,500 Delray Beach International Championships.

Argentina’s Del Potro on Sunday defeated the sixth-seeded Serbian 6-4, 6-4 to pass another milestone in his injury comeback.

A former world number four, del Potro saw his 2010 campaign derailed by a right wrist injury that required surgery and limited him to just three tournaments.

He needed 1hr 54 min to fashion the victory, and left Tipsarevic still seeking a first career ATP title.

Del Potro had been building toward the victory, having reached back-to-back semi-finals in San Jose and Memphis the past two weeks.The Argentinian, who admitted he was tired after his semi-final victory over second-seeded Mardy Fish, quickly fell behind 1-4 in the first set.

He rallied, and saved five break points in the 10th game as claimed the first frame on his third set point.

“Janko had the control in the first set, but I was focused on my serve because it was only a break,” he said. “If I get a break soon, maybe I can come back to fight that set, and that’s what happened.”

“I served very bad at 5-4, he had the opportunity to break my serve, but I improved a little bit my game, my forehand started to work. That helped me to close the set.”

Del Potro broke Tipsarevic for a 3-2 lead in the second, then fended off three break points in the next game. Overall he saved 10 of 11 break points that he faced in the contest.

Tipsarevic could only regret the missed opportunities that prevented him from breaking through for a first title after runner-up finishes in his only two prior trips to a final — at Moscow in 2009 and ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2010.

“All the factors were going my way today to win,” Tipsarevic said, noting that he was more used to the mid-day conditions than del Potro, who played his earlier matches at night.

“You could see that in the middle of the first set that he picked up, but it was a tough match. We played almost two hours, two sets, but I really didn?t use my chances,” Tipsarevic said.

The victory will boost del Potro back into the top 100 for the first time since November.

In a three-week span he will have risen from 484th to 85th.

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Zimbabwe crush Canada in ‘Battle of Minnows’

Posted on 28 February 2011 by GGS News

Nagpur,(GGS NEWS) 28 Feb 2011 : Tatenda Taibu missed out on his maiden World Cup century by two runs but his superb run-a-ball knock helped Zimbabwe crush Canada by 175 runs in a Group A match here on Monday.

Former captain Taibu added 181 runs for the third wicket with Craig Ervine to lay the foundation of Zimbabwe innings after batting first in the match touted as the `Battle of Minnows` at the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground at Jamtha.

Zimbabwe then shot out Canada for just 123 in 42.1 overs with left-arm spinner Raymond Price taking three wickets for just 16 runs from his eight overs. Another leg-spinner Graeme Cremer also returned with figures of 3/31 as Canada failed to negotiate Zimbabwe slow bowlers.

Price sent back three top-order Canadian batsmen with less than 10 runs on the board. Victory was a mere formality for Zimbabwe from there on. Cremer polished off the tail as Zimbabwe scored an easy win.

Canadian batsmen never showed any intent of trying to make a match out of it and it was all over within 10 overs of their run chase. Their spineless display seemingly gave justification for ICC to curtail the number of teams to 10 in the nest edition of 50-over World Cup.

Price first dismissed John Davison (0) who was bowled while trying to mindlessly come down the track even before getting set. 16-year-old Nitish Kumar (1), who became the youngest player to make his World Cup debut, was caught by Price off his own bowling.

Nitish`s discomfort was a proof enough that he is far from being ready for this level. Skipper Ashish Bagai (0) tried to play a sweep shot from the very first delivery he faced and perished.

Zimbabweans have not had such an easy ODI win in recent times and will surely boost their confidence in the coming World Cup matches.

Earlier, Taibu found the gaps with aplomb during his knock of 98 of 99 balls from which he hit nine fours, Ervine (85 off 81 balls) was happy playing the second fiddle.

Once Ervine reached his personal milestone, he suddenly accelerated and matched his senior partner stroke for stroke after they were reduced to seven for two by the fourth over with both openers Brendan Taylor (0) and Charles Coventry (4) back in the hut.

But that was all Canada bowlers could manage for the next 27.5 overs as the Zimbabwean duo hardly looked in any kind of discomfort.

For Canada, former Tamil Nadu spinner Balaji Rao was the pick of the bowlers grabbing 4 for 57. Harvir Baidwan and Khurram Chohan scalped two wickets apiece.

Veteran leggie Balaji used all his years of experience in Ranji Trophy to ensure that Zimbabwe did not race away to a total that would be unattainable.

Taibu started playing his strokes from the onset. Not only did he punish the pacers, he was at ease against the Canadian spinners using his feet to good effect. Ervine, on the other hand, ran quick singles and gave the bulk of the strike to Taibu on a placid Jamtha strip.

While Taibu completed his half century off 45 deliveries with eight hits, Ervine took 55 deliveries to complete his 50 with four boundaries and a six.

However, once the duo completed their 50s, there seemed to be a reversal of roles. Suddenly it was Taibu who dropped the anchor and was happy taking singles while Ervine gave the slower bowlers some treatment. He hit two huge sixes – one over mid-wicket and the other straight over long-on boundary.

It was Balaji who put the brakes on Zimbabwe innings. Although he bowled a few long hops but he was not afraid of giving the ball air. He first got Ervine a bat-pad catch which was smartly taken by Bagai.

Taibu, who suddenly went quiet once he was in his 90s, was deceived by the flight and mistimed a sweep shot which was taken by Davison at mid-wicket.

Balaji then got Sean Williams with another bat-pad catch to Bagai while Greg Lamb went for a cut shot with very little room provided. This was former India A spinner`s best figures in ODIs.

Suddenly from 188 for two, Zimbabwe slumped to 240 for seven losing five wickets for 52 runs. But Prosper Utseya (22 off 29 balls) and Graeme Cremer (26 off 23 balls) added 41 useful runs for the eighth wicket to take the total near 300.

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Supreme Court asks report on level of pollution in Yamuna

Posted on 28 February 2011 by GGS News

New Delhi,(GGS NEWS) 28 Feb 2011 :  The Supreme Court on Monday sought to know the level of pollution in the river Yamuna and directed the Central Pollution Control Board to file a report within two weeks after examining the sample of its water.

A three Judge bench headed by the Chief Justice S H Kapadia asked the pollution board to take three water samples near severage plant and file the report on pollution level.Court wants to know the level of pollution in the river. Centre Pollution Control Board would file the report with regard to pollution level within two weeks,” the bench said asking the Board to examine the water pollution.

The Court passed the order in a case which it had taken suo-moto cognizance way back in December 1994 on the basis of news report on the level of pollution in Yamuna.

The apex court since then has been monitoring the cleaning of Yamuna.

When the apex court had pulled up the authority on January 30, 2008 and wanted to know if the river could be cleaned before 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Delhi Jal Board had said the cleaning project would be completed by January 2012.

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Mexico arrests two more in US agent Jaime Zapata murder

Posted on 28 February 2011 by GGS News

Mexico,(GGS NEWS) 28 Feb 2011 : Mexican authorities have arrested two alleged leaders of the Zetas drug gang in connection with the murder of a US immigration official.

The suspected local head of the Zetas drugs gang in the northern state of Coahuila, Sergio “El Toto” Mora, was arrested by marines in Saltillo.

Federal police meanwhile detained Luis Miguel Rojo in San Luis Potosi, where the attack took place.

Another suspected gang member has been accused of killing Agent Jaime Zapata.

Julian Zapata Espinoza, who was arrested last week, told soldiers he and other gunmen opened fire on the agent’s car, thinking it belonged to a rival gang, officials said.

Another US Immigrations and Customs (ICE) official, Victor Avila, was injured in the ambush outside the city of San Luis Potosi.

Mr Mora is suspected of running the Zetas’ operations in San Luis Potosi.

Mr Rojo is alleged to be responsible for handling the gang’s finances in the region.

Jaime Zapata, a 32-year-old Texan, was assigned to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) human smuggling and trafficking unit.

He had been on attachment to the ICE office within the US embassy in Mexico City.

Drug violence is set to be discussed when Mexican President Felipe Calderon visits President Obama this week.

More than 34,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since December 2006, when President Calderon’s government deployed soldiers and federal police in a widespread crackdown on the illegal cartels.

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Lawyers strike over Balochistan ‘kidnappings

Posted on 28 February 2011 by GGS News

Balochistan,(GGS NEWS) 28 Feb 2011 : Lawyers across the Pakistani province of Balochistan are on strike to pressure the authorities to take action over a series of alleged abductions.

Two judges went missing in eastern Balochistan on Saturday night, local officials in Naseerabad district said.

Last week two lawyers from the regional capital disappeared in the area. Two others have been missing for months.

It is not known who is responsible for the alleged kidnappings, but abductions for ransom have been on the increase.

Lawyers say they are on strike because the government has failed to protect the people.

They say kidnappings for ransom are on the rise in the region, and blame “terrorist groups” for them, arguing that targeting the judiciary only makes the province more vulnerable.

The two judges went missing while travelling from Dera Allahyar to attend a wedding in Osta Mohammad in eastern Balochistan, officials said. Their car was found abandoned in Naseerabad district on Sunday morning.

In January, the administrative head of Jhal Magsi district was kidnapped and four policemen who ventured into the area after reports of his kidnapping were shot dead by unknown gunmen. He was released 10 days ago – analysts believe a ransom was paid.

Correspondents say violence still wreaks havoc across Balochistan as the region’s separatist insurgency continues.

Human rights group Amnesty International recently asked the Pakistani government to investigate the alleged torture and killing of more than 40 political leaders in the province.

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Hosni Mubarak: Egypt’s former leader given travel ban

Posted on 28 February 2011 by GGS News

Egypt,(GGS NEWS) 28 Feb 2011 :Egypt’s public prosecutor has issued a travel ban on ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his family.

The order also freezes their money and assets, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said.

Mr Mubarak stepped down on 11 February, after almost 30 years in power, in the wake of mounting public protests.

He is believed to be living in his villa in Sharm el-Sheikh but in poor health, and has not been seen or heard of publicly since stepping down.

Mr Mubarak handed power to the military, which appointed an interim government to write a new constitution and hold elections.

The prosecutor’s office said the travel ban and asset freeze was issued while complaints – which were not specified – against the Mubarak family were being investigated, Reuters news agency reported.

The order applies to Mr Mubarak, his wife Suzanne, their two sons Ala and Gamal and their wives.

Egypt has already requested a number of governments to freeze the overseas assets of the Mubarak family.

Protesters and anti-corruption campaigners have been pressing for an investigation into the Mubarak family’s assets, put at anywhere from $1bn to $70bn (£616m-£43bn).

However, Mr Mubarak’s legal representative has denied reports that the former president amassed a fortune while in office.

Three of Mr Mubarak’s former officials have been charged with corruption-related offences: former ministers of interior Habib al-Adly, tourism Zuhair Garana, and housing Ahmed al-Maghrabi.

Justice officials said on Sunday that Mr Adly would face trial on money laundering charges from 5 March.

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Floods and landslides hit Bolivia

Posted on 28 February 2011 by GGS News

La Paz,(GGS NEWS) 28  feb 2011 : A landslide caused by intense rains has destroyed more than 300 homes in the Bolivian city of La Paz.

The authorities managed to evacuate the poor Kupini II area before it was smashed by a collapsing hillside.

Elsewhere in La Paz, at least five people drowned when a minibus was swept away by a swollen river.

Across Bolivia, weeks of heavy rain have killed at least 40 others and left more than 10,000 homeless.

Officials evacuated the Kupini II area on Saturday night after cracks began appearing in roads and bridges.

“My neighbours were running around and told me to get out,” local resident Maria Elena Siles told the Associated Press.

“I looked out the window and there were no more homes to the left or the right of mine”.

Residents have been trying to recover furniture and other belongings from wrecked houses, while crews with heavy equipment try to stop the landslide from threatening other areas.

Much of La Paz is built on steep mountainsides, and landslides are not uncommon, but officials say this was one of the worst the city has ever seen.

Troops have been mobilised to help the evacuation and recovery efforts.

So far the only confirmed fatalities in La Paz have been five people killed when a minibus fell into a raging river in the south of the city after a bridge collapsed.

The Bolivian government declared a national emergency last Tuesday because of torrential rains across much of the country.

The worst flooding has been in the northern Amazon lowlands, where dozens of rural communities have been cut off by rivers that have burst their banks.

Bolivian military planes and helicopters have been flying supplies to the worst-hit areas.

The government says this year’s rainy season has been particularly severe as a result of La Nina, a climatic phenomenon caused by a shift in currents in the Pacific Ocean.

In recent months parts of Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico and Central America have also experienced severe flooding.

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Criticism-hit France sends aid to Libya opposition

Posted on 28 February 2011 by GGS News

France,(GGS NEWS) 28 Feb 2011 : France is to send two planes of aid to opposition territory in Libya, Prime Minister Francois Fillon has said.

The announcement came hours after Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie quit amid controversy over her contacts with the former Tunisian regime.

Her decision to stand down was “political not moral”, Mr Fillon said.

Paris has been stung by accusations that it was too cosy with the authoritarian regimes overthrown in recent weeks, say analysts.

Ms Alliot-Marie was heavily criticised for initially offering French help to quell the uprising in Tunisia.

Subsequent revelations about her and her family’s links to the regime of former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, and the fact that she had taken a Christmas holiday in Tunisia during the uprising made her position increasingly untenable.

“In a few hours two French planes will leave for Benghazi on behalf of the French government with doctors, nurses, medical equipment and medicine,” Prime Minister Fillon said in an interview with France’s RTL radio – referring to the eastern Libyan town that has been at the centre of the Libyan uprising and is now in opposition hands.

“This will be the start of a massive humanitarian aid operation to the populations of liberated areas,” he declared.

He said France had not ruled out backing a Nato-enforced “no-fly zone” over Libya – one way it has been suggested that foreign governments could help defend Libyan rebels against the remaining air power of Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Mr Fillon insisted Ms Alliot-Marie had done nothing wrong.

“She was not at fault,” Mr Fillon said.

“This was not a moral decision, but a political one.

“The voice of France was no longer audible, because Michele Alliot-Marie had become the object of an unjust campaign.”

Ms Alliot-Marie had defended her conduct in her resignation letter to President Nicolas Sarkozy, a copy of which was seen by the AFP news agency, saying she had been “the target of political attacks”.

She will be replaced by Defence Minister Alain Juppe, 65, who previously served as foreign minister and prime minister in the 1990s. In 2004, he was convicted of mishandling public funds.

Mr Juppe will be replaced by Gerard Longuet, leader of Mr Sarkozy’s UMP party in the Senate and the president’s long-time collaborator.

Mr Sarkozy’s chief of staff, Claude Gueant, will become interior minister in place of controversy-hit Brice Hortefeux.

Mr Gueant will be in charge of restoring the government’s reputation as tough on crime with a view to his Mr Sarkozy’s expected 2012 re-election bid, observers say.

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