Don't acquire excess land: Steel minister to industry

The Rs1.5 lakh crore projects of Posco and ArcelorMittal have remained stuck for the last nearly five years because of the bottlenecks related to land acquisition in Orissa and Jharkhand

Amid agitation against land acquisition for the Rs54,000-crore Posco steel project in Orissa, the Centre today warned the industry against creating a land-bank in excess of requirement, reports PTI.

"I fully endorse ... I support the opposition that land more than required, should not be acquired," Virbhadra Singh told PTI in an interview on completion of a year of the UPA-II government.

The comments come amid strong political protests against land acquisition by global steel majors Posco and ArcelorMittal, whose much-touted multi-billion dollar projects are still awaiting take-off.

He, however, said the Rs1.5 lakh crore projects of Posco and ArcelorMittal have remained stuck for the last nearly five years because of the bottlenecks related to land acquisition in Orissa and Jharkhand.

The issue needs to be resolved by striking a balance between the "welfare of the tribals and the genuine land requirement by the investors", he said.

With change in technology and plant design, big size equipment requiring huge tracts of land is not required.

"Now it is no longer necessary to acquire that much of land," the minister said.

Paradip, where the South Korean giant Posco has proposed to set up a 12-million tonne plant has been in the grip of violent protests by farmers and Left-backed Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti against land acquisition for past several weeks.

Faced with protests, ArcelorMittal was also forced to shift plans to set up the project in Bokaro from Khunti-Gumla in Jharkhand. ArcelorMittal has sought 8,000 acres of land.

Under pressure, the Orissa government has agreed to reduce the sanction of land by 300 acres out of 4,004 acres sought by the company.

Mr Singh said there must be an audit of the land demand.

"There must be an assessment whether what they are asking for is actually required," he said.

Referring to his recent meetings with ArcelorMittal and Posco chiefs—L N Mittal and Chung Joon-yang respectively, the minister said he had asked them "to be generous to the tribal people as they are very much attached to their land."

Asked about the delays in the big-ticket projects, Mr Singh said the issue was related to the State governments of Orissa and Jharkhand and his ministry was in constant touch with them.

"The prime minister has also written letters to State governments to expedite the matter... We are facilitators, we try to remove hurdles," he said, hoping for a breakthrough in the next 4-5 months.

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Indian Register of Shipping to tap US, Canadian markets

A ship classification society establishes and maintains standards for the construction and classification of ships and offshore structures

The Indian Register of Shipping (IRS), an independent ship classification society, has entered the US to tap the North American markets by making the major shipping city of Houston its home, reports PTI.

A ship classification society establishes and maintains standards for the construction and classification of ships and offshore structures.

IRS, an associate member of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), made the announcement at a formal reception organised jointly by consul general Sanjiv Arora and IRS chairman, J C Anand on 18th May.

The reception saw several local dignitaries including Harris County commissioner's court judge Ed Emmett Peter Brown, chairman of the Mayor's Trade and Development Council Noboro Ueda, chairman and president of Japan's Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK), who has been instrumental in launching the IRS office in the US, flying in from Tokyo for the opening.

Describing the entry of IRS as a milestone in Indo-US commerce and trade, consul general Sanjeev Arora said, "The opening of an office of the IRS would make a positive contribution in promoting India-US business cooperation."

The distinctive advantages of Houston, a major port and a leading global centre of oil and gas, were taken into account in choosing the location for an IRS office covering North and South America, he said, adding there are sizable trade and investment flows between companies in India, and in Texas and beyond.

"Houston’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico also offers considerable business opportunities for the IRS office here," said Mr Arora.

Explaining the activities and areas of operations, chairman of IRS J C Anand said, "We are looking forward to provide quality services to out clients and foster closer and enduring ties with them. IRS will act as a catalyst of self-regulation by Indian shipping industries and to serve as a forum of research and development".

"The services are designed to meet ISO 9001 specifications (the International standard on quality management systems) and thereby help achieve high levels of quality and reliability, while maintaining project schedules and integrity.

Further, they are proven to be cost-effective and meet timelines efficiently, Mr Anand said.

Introducing S B Paranjpe, country manager of IRS, Mr Anand said the organisation will flourish under his stewardship.

Judge Emmett said the Texas Gulf Coast should be the gateway to North America, as India expands its trade with the US, Mexico and Latin America.

He said that after Jindal Steel and Mahindra Tractors, the IRS is an important contribution from India to Indo-US trade.

The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) welcomed the organisation and offered all possible assistance.

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TRAI recommendations on 4G services by the year-end

The 4G telecom technology, known as ultra-broadband, offers downloads at much faster speeds and high definition video on demand, among other services

Close on the heels of a highly successful third generation (3G) spectrum auction, telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Thursday said it plans to bring out the recommendations on the fourth generation (4G) technology or ultra-broadband by the end of the year, reports PTI.

Chairman JS Sarma also said that TRAI plans to bring out a consultation paper on the 4G in the next two-three months.

"Before the year-end we should be ready with recommendations on 4G," he added.

The fourth-generation telecom technology, known as ultra-broadband, offers download at much faster speeds and high definition video on demand, among other services.

The 4G services are a successor to 3G and 2G standards, with the aim to provide a wide range of data rates up to ultra-broadband (gigabit-speed) Internet access to mobile as well as stationary users.

Concerned over the slow offtake of broadband services, the telecom regulator also plans to bring the consolation paper on pan-India broadband soon. "We want to give the recommendations on the National Broadband Plan by July," he said.

On 4G, TRAI would look into the various aspects, including spectrum band to be allotted and the quantum and mode of allotment to operators. A number of foreign players like US-based Motorola and Ericsson have already started testing the 4G technology in various parts of the world.
 

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