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Do not get into policy formulation: PM to SC

New Delhi: Prime minister Manmohan Singh today gently told the Supreme Court, which recently directed the government to distribute foodgrains free to the poor, not to get into the "realm of policy formulation", reports PTI.

How can foodgrains be distributed free to an estimated 37% of the population, which lives below the poverty line, Mr Singh asserted during an interaction with editors at his residence here.

It was not possible to give free foodgrains to all the poor, he said while answering a question on the order of the apex court which had directed agriculture minister Sharad Pawar to distribute foodgrains to the poor instead of allowing them to rot.

The prime minister said he had not seen the final judgement of the court but he respected the "sentiments" behind the decision that a way should be found to ensure that at a time when foodgrains are rotting the needs of the people should be met.

"I do recognise that food should be available to the people below poverty line (BPL) at concessional prices. We have not allowed any increase in the issue price of foodgrains to people below poverty line since 2004," he said.

To the extent possible, the government had taken adequate steps in this direction while noting the apex court's concern that food should be available to the poor at affordable prices, he said.

At the same time making food available free would destroy incentives to farmers to produce more. If there was no food available there would be nothing to distribute, he said.

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RNRL-Reliance Power merger gets shareholders' nod

Mumbai: Two Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) companies, Reliance Power (R-Power) and Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL), today said their respective shareholders have approved merger between the two entities, estimated to create a Rs50,000 crore entity, reports PTI.

Shareholders of R-Power and RNRL at their respective meetings held on 4th September have approved the composite scheme of arrangement between the two companies, the ADAG companies said in separate filings to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

As per the deal approved by the boards of the two companies on 4th July, RNRL would merge with Reliance Power in an all-share deal, under which RNRL shareholders for their every four shares would get one share of Reliance Power.

Post the deal, which was valued at about Rs7,150 crore at the time of announcement, Reliance Power is estimated to have over 6 million shareholders.

The merger of RNRL will make Reliance Power a direct beneficiary of the gas deal signed with Mukesh Ambani-RIL.

The deal had come within days of RNRL signing a revised gas supply deal with RIL for power projects, which are under the charge of Reliance Power.

Following the Supreme Court decision on 7th May, wherein its plea was rejected for cheaper gas from RIL, RNRL had lost much of its relevance as a business entity.

RNRL was born out of demerger of Dhirubhai Ambani's Reliance empire five years ago. The purpose of creation of RNRL was for sourcing, supply and transportation of fuels, primarily natural gas.

As per the demerger scheme, RNRL was to source natural gas from Reliance Industries (RIL) and trade it to ADAG power plants, including the proposed mega 7,800-MW Dadri unit near here being set up by R-Power.

The combined entity would have a networth of over Rs16,000 crore.

In a statement issued today, Reliance Power said that the merger would allow RNRL shareholders to participate in the future growth prospects of Reliance Power's diversified generation portfolio of over 35,000 mega watt, and its substantial coal reserves in the country and abroad.

The scheme will also facilitate gas supply under RNRL's Gas Supply Master Agreements with RIL to Reliance Power and accelerate the implementation of its plans for setting up over 8,000 MW of gas based power generation capacity.

Besides, it will increase the prospects for gas from RNRL's coal bed methane (CBM) blocks and will enhance the cost efficiency for fuel supplies through its coal supply logistics and shipping business.

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