Economy
Dredged material from ports can be multi-crore business in construction
Can infrastructure be sustainably built in a developing economy? As India undergoes a developmental period, this question assumes importance.
 
Infrastructure growth is likely in railways, roads, airports, smart cities, large industrial units, super technological communication systems and the like. One of the major factors in infrastructure development is civil construction. In this sand, soil, cement, aggregate and steel are forerunners.
 
With shrinking utility services, the requirements of legal environmental restrictions and advocacy and desirability of sustainability, the cost of construction is steadily rising.
 
To overcome the above situation, it is possible to use the huge amount of dredged material from various ports. At the moment this material is dumped in the sea.
 
Every year, ports such as Kolkata, Paradip, Visakhapatanam and Chennai on the east coast of India produce millions of tonnes of dredged material. A similar situation also exists on the west coast.
 
Dredging is essential for navigation, remediation and flood management of waterways.
 
Use of dredged material can reduce the quantities of primary resource needed for activities such as construction and habitat creation. Some countries do already make extensive use of dredged material. In Japan, more than 90 percent of dredged material was used in the past.
 
In India, a new capital city of Andhra Pradesh is coming up at Amaravati. An area covering 30 villages between Vijayawada and Guntur, some 35 km away from Amaravati town has been marked for capital development.
 
Pitched as a world-class riverfront capital city, Amaravati will be an energy-efficient and green city with concentration on industrial hubs. The Andhra Pradesh government, through the Capital Region Development Authority, has acquired some 30,000 acres of land.
 
Expected to be completed by 2018-19, the Seed Capital Area (SCA) of 16.7 sq.km. will be home to about 300,000 residents. The business hub is expected to generate about 700,000 jobs in various sectors, including government. There will be a thriving, state-of-the- art Central Business District (CBD) for business and living.
 
The master plan envisages nodes and corridors for a transit-oriented development approach. So, there will be an integrated network of 12 km of Metro railway, 15 km of Bus Rapid Transit system, seven km of downtown roads, 26 km of arterial and sub-arterial roads and 53 km of collector roads.
 
The plan for the capital city has huge potential for infrastructure, civil engineering and construction activity.
 
It is possible that the dredged material from the ports on the east coast could be easily used at Amaravati. Depending upon properties of dredge material, it could be used for brick-making. Initially, some trials may be required for this purpose, but once it is found to be useful, it would be the most sustainable process for development.
 
The dredged material could also be used for several other purposes such as landfill caps and covers, beach nourishment, top soil creation and enhancement, habitat creation or restoration, reclaiming of mined land and parks as well as in agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and horticulture.
 
If the dredged material is sold to the Amaravati Capital Project, it would generate a huge business. The capital project is planned to be developed in three stages and over 10 years. Financially, that would be highly beneficial to all dredging companies and also to Andhra government which could use the material for sustainable development.
 
There's a historical example of such sustainable development happening.
 
In the sixties of last century, laboratory experiments were conducted to find out whether fly ash waste from thermal plants could serve as a partial replacement for cement. After successful trials, researchers came to the conclusion that fly ash could be used in making concrete. At present, about one-third of fly ash replaces cement in making concrete.
 
There is no reason why dredging material cannot do what fly ash did for the construction industry.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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India's gold demand dropped 39% in Q1 2016: World Gold Council
The demand for gold in India for the January-March quarter of 2016 was at 116.5 tonnes, down by 39% as compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, the World Gold Council said on Thursday.
 
The overall demand for gold in India was 191.7 tonnes in the first quarter of 2015.
 
"The jewellers' strike following the re-introduction of an excise duty, which left even wedding shoppers affected, was one major reason impacting demand," said a statement by the World Gold Council, citing Managing Director-India Somasundaram PR.
 
"The sharp increase in the price of gold since the beginning of the year and an expectation of a cut in the customs duty on gold also led consumers to hold back on purchases. The regulation introduced ensuring permanent account number (PAN) details are disclosed for purchases above Rs2 lakh is also reported to have affected buying," he added.
 
Globally, gold demand reached 1,290 tonnes in the first quarter of 2016, a 21% increase compared to the same period last year, making it the second largest quarter on record, according to the World Gold Council's Gold Demand Trends report.
 
"This increase was driven by huge inflows into exchange-traded funds, fuelled by investor concerns regarding economic fragility and an uncertain financial landscape. Concurrently, global demand for jewellery was down 19%, as higher prices and industrial action in India and a softening of the economy in China meant many consumers delayed making purchases," the report said.
 
India's first quarter gold demand value was Rs.29,900 crore, a 36% decline from the Rs46,730 crore recorded in same quarter of 2015.
 
The total jewellery demand in India for the period was down by 41% at 88.4 tonnes as compared to 150.8 tonnes in first quarter in 2015.
 
The World Gold Council has forecast India's full year demand is in the range of 850 and 950 tonnes.
 
However, the World Gold Council is hopeful that the low demand in the first quarter has caused a pent-up demand for gold and coupled with this gold has outperformed all other asset classes since the beginning of the year.
 
"The promised rural thrust in budget spends, favourable monsoons and the jewellery trade back to work adapting to the new regulations are all favourable factors which will lead to demand returning to normal levels," Somasundaram added.
 
In value terms, gold investment demand for the first quarter was Rs7,198 crore, a drop of 27.8% from Rs9,969 crore in the corresponding quarter in 2015, the report added.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Guess what is behind PSU banks’ poor performance. It is the RTI Act!
A Committee appointed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has found out that the Right to Information (RTI) Act is one of the factors behind the poor performance of public sector banks (PSBs) compared with private sector banks! The Committee to Review Governance of Boards of Banks in India constituted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor on 20 January 2014, in its report, says that RTI Act, is one of the several ‘external factors’ and hurdle to PSBs, as these kind of ‘constraints disadvantages these banks in their ability to compete with their private sector competitors’. Shockingly, this recommendation has been made without providing any data whatsoever as to how RTI has been an impediment.
 
The annual report of the Central Information Commission (CIC) for 2014-2015 shows that over 50% of RTI applications under the category ‘Finance Ministry’ have been made to various PSBs. Understandably, for most of the RTI applicants are those who have suffered deficiency of services by the banks and non-cooperation in providing information to them.
 
Another side that pins a hole in the RBI’s Committee recommendation, a cluster of court cases heard by the apex court. In the Reserve Bank of India vs Jayantilal N Mistry and related cases, the Supreme Court has upheld all the CIC decisions which ordered that information should be provided to the petitioners (RTI applicants).
 
For example, Jayantilal N Mistry sought information from the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of RBI about an inspection report on Saraspur Nagrik Sahkari Bank Ltd related to inspection report, but was denied the same by the CPIO. The reason being that the information was received by RBI in a fiduciary capacity and is therefore exempt under Section 8(1)(e) of RTI Act. The CIC directed the petitioner to furnish that information since the RBI expressed their willingness to disclose a summary of substantive part of the inspection report to the respondent. 
 
While disposing of the appeal the CIC observed:
 
“Before parting with this appeal, we would like to record our observations that in a rapidly unfolding economics scenario, there are public institutions, both in the banking and non-banking sector, whose activities have not served public interest. On the 67 Page 68 contrary, some such institutions may have attempted to defraud the public of their moneys kept with such institutions in trust. RBI being the Central Bank is one of the instrumentalities available to the public which as a regulator can inspect such institutions and initiate remedial measures where necessary. It is important that the general public, particularly, the shareholders and the depositors of such institutions are kept aware of RBI’s appraisal of the functioning of such institutions and taken into confidence about the remedial actions initiated in specific cases. This will serve the public interest. The RBI would therefore be well advised to be proactive in disclosing information to the public in general and the information seekers under the RTI Act, in particular. The provisions of Section 10(1) of the RTI Act can therefore be judiciously used when necessary to adhere to this objective.”
 
However, the Committee to Review Governance of Boards of Banks makes the following recommendations, aimed at subverting the RTI Act, but now with the Supreme Court upholding CIC decisions, the following recommendations fall flat:
 
Recommendation 2.2: There are several external constraints imposed upon public sector banks which are inapplicable to their private sector competitors. These constraints encompass dual regulation (by the Finance Ministry, and by the RBI, which goes substantially beyond the discharge of a principal shareholder function); the manner of appointment of directors to boards; the short average tenures of Chairmen and Executive Directors; compensation constraints; external vigilance enforcement; and applicability of the Right to Information Act. Each of these constraints disadvantages these banks in their ability to compete with their private sector competitors. The Government and RBI need to move to rapidly eliminate or significantly reduce these constraints, in the absence of which managements of public sector banks will continue to face an erosion of competitiveness. Further, it is only after these external constraints have been addressed would it be practicable for public sector banks to address a host of internal weaknesses which affect their competitiveness.
 
Recommendation 4.10: It is desirable for the Government to level the playing field for public sector banks in relation to their private sector competitors. Reducing the proposed Bank Investment Company's investment in a bank to less than 50% will free the bank from external vigilance emanating from the Central Vigilance Commission, from the Right to Information Act, and from Government constraints on employee compensation. The trade-off is worth grasping, as more competitive public sector banks will enhance financial returns to the Government with no effective dilution of control.
 
2.7 Easing External Constraints on Public Sector Banks
 
5. Applicability, although in a limited way, of the Right to Information Act. Private sector banks are free of this.
 
 
RTI researcher Venkatesh Nayak analysis the data of RTI applications made to public sector banks as per the 2014-2015 Annual Report of CIC
 
Major Findings
 
  1. The 24 PS Banks dealt with a total of 79,148 RTI applications in 2014-15 (including the backlog from 2013-13). This amounts to 56.4% of the total volume of RTI applications received by the Ministry of Finance in 2014-15 (140,324 RTI applications). The State Bank of India being the largest banking network across the country received the most number of RTI applications - 24,783 i.e, more than 31.3% of the total number of RTI applications received by the 24 PS Banks analysed here. Bank of India with 9,080 RTI applications is in 2nd place followed by Punjab National Bank at 3rd place with 7,779 RTI applications dealt with in 2014-15.
     
  2. In 2014-15, the State Bank of Hyderabad witnessed the largest increase (41.59%) in the number of RTI applications dealt with as compared to the previous year. State Bank of Patiala stood 2nd with an increase of 30.64% in the RTI applications dealt with in 2014-15. Punjab and Sind Bank took the 3rd place with an increase of 25.30% in the number of RTI applications dealt with during the same period.
     
  3. In 2014-15, 10 of the 24 PS Banks witnessed a significant decline in the number of RTI applications dealt with. In 2013-14 when data from 20 PS Banks was analysed by us, only 6 Banks witnessed a declining trend in the number of RTI applications dealt with when compared with the previous reporting year of 2012-13. This appears to be in tune with the overall trend of decline in the number of RTI applications dealt with by public authorities under the Central Government in 2014-15.
     
  4. The biggest decline in the RTI applications as compared to the immediately previous reporting period i.e. over 22% - dealt with during 2014-15 was reported by the Bank of Maharashtra, followed by State Bank of Travancore at 19.30%, with Central Bank of India occupying 3rd place with a decline of 17.17%.
     
  5. Andhra Bank reported rejecting every second RTI application during 2014-15. It had rejected 55.1%, i.e., more than half of the RTI applications dealt with during this period. Canara Bank takes 2nd place with a rejection of 49.1% (almost half) of the RTI applications dealt with in 2014-15. Corporation Bank takes the 3rd place with a rejection of 45.8%. These 3 Banks rejected between 4-5 of every 10 RTI applications they received during 2014-15.
     
  6. The lowest rejection figures are reported by the United Bank of India- 6.2% in 2014-15. The Indian Bank rejected a little less than 12% of the RTI applications during this period. The remaining 22 PS Banks rejected between one fifth to more than one half of the RTI applications during this period.
     
  7. During the period 2014-15, all 24 PS Banks included in this study, opened new offices across the country. Bank of India was the only bank which averaged close to 2 RTI applications per office (1.79). Only the State Bank of India, State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur and Punjab National bank averaged more than one RTI application per office during this period, with all other Banks averaging less than one RTI application per office. So the RTI statistics submitted by the banks to the CIC do not prove the “constraint theory” regarding their governance which was looked upon approvingly by the P J NayakCommittee in 2014.
     
  8. No positive or negative correlation could be identified between the volume of Net NPAs reported by the 24 PS Banks and the number RTI applications they dealt with during 2014-15. Several Banks with lesser volume of Net NPAs registered a hike of between 8%-40% increase in the number of RTI applications dealt with.
     
  9. However, the proportion of rejection of RTI applications was quite high in Banks that had reported large volumes of Net NPAs in 2014-15. Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of Baroda and Canara Bank which had reported Net NPAs ranging more than Rs8,000 crores, rejected between a third to almost one half of the RTI applications in 2014-15, indicating a very high proportion of rejection of RTI applications. The State Bank of India with the largest volume of Net NPAs amongst the 24 PS Banks included in this study rejected 20% of the RTI applications during this period. State Bank of Mysore and Vijaya Bank are exceptions to this trend as their rejections were very high – between 26%-39% despite the volume of their Net NPAs being less than Rs2,000 crore.
 
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet – The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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COMMENTS

Suraj Parkash Tuteja

5 months ago

The merger of State Bank of Patiala with SBI is the most satisfying and pleasing news ever because of its utmost lapses and careless handling of complaints, all protecting its employees to the point of stupidity, ny one and all, from junior to the top most excutive.

A written complaint made against a corrupt cashier, Balwinder Singh posted at Saha (Ambala) for indulging in sale of fake Indian currency notes, was covered up, upon asking, simply repy was nothing was found against the employee. Even under repeated RTI Applications, their stock repy has been nothing has been found against the employee. Asked for copies of the statements by the accused employees, each time a reply under the RI was the information cannot be disclosed being personal and confidential.
Even when insisted that the employee is charged with a very serious crime against the security of the country, but o body bothered, and would ot give me a copy of the fake and false statements against my first hand knowledge and information of dealing in fake currencies. Asked whether the complant was forwarded to the Fake Currency Complaints Cell, as stipulated by the RBI, bank does not even confirm or deny whether or not such a cell has been established. Such serious lapses, together with the State Bank of Patiala being the second most defaulting bank in matters to providing information against RTI Applicatios, as confirmed by the
A Committee appointed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has found out that the Right to Information (RTI) Act is one of the factors behind the poor performance of public sector banks (PSBs) compared with private sector banks!

One Assistant Regional Manager posted at Kurukshetra had the knowledge of English not even equivalent to 8th. class student of the Govt schools, because he confirmed he could not understand the RTI quarry. When pulled, he repeatedly state the reply to charges cannot be disclosed as information is confidential and personal.

In fact, the merger of the employees must prclude employees who have been complained against in their present jobs in SBof P because these even one fishes at each station will spoil the otherwise hard working bank employees at each station.

Will the leaders of these Unions, Ashok Malhan, Pawan Thakur, Harvinder Singh, Rajesh Verma, and Ashwani Singla,state on oath that your members in State Bank of Patiala are working honestly and faithfully conducting their futies, what is the use to support such criminals, and lethargic employees, for the criminal workings most are engaged in.
The merger of State Bank of Patiala with SBI is the most satisfying and pleasing news ever because of its utmost lapses and careless handling of complaints, all protecting its employees to the point of stupidity, ny one and all, from junior to the top most excutive.

A written complaint made against a corrupt cashier, Balwinder Singh posted at Saha (Ambala) for indulging in sale of fake Indian currency notes, was covered up, upon asking, simply repy was nothing was found against the employee. Even under repeated RTI Applications, their stock repy has been nothing has been found against the employee. Asked for copies of the statements by the accused employees, each time a reply under the RI was the information cannot be disclosed being personal and confidential.
Even when insisted that the employee is charged with a very serious crime against the security of the country, but o body bothered, and would ot give me a copy of the fake and false statements against my first hand knowledge and information of dealing in fake currencies. Asked whether the complant was forwarded to the Fake Currency Complaints Cell, as stipulated by the RBI, bank does not even confirm or deny whether or not such a cell has been established. Such serious lapses, together with the State Bank of Patiala being the second most defaulting bank in matters to providing information against RTI Applicatios, as confirmed by the
A Committee appointed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has found out that the Right to Information (RTI) Act is one of the factors behind the poor performance of public sector banks (PSBs) compared with private sector banks!

One Assistant Regional Manager posted at Kurukshetra had the knowledge of English not even equivalent to 8th. class student of the Govt schools, because he confirmed he could not understand the RTI quarry. When pulled, he repeatedly state the reply to charges cannot be disclosed as information is confidential and personal.

In fact, the merger of the employees must prclude employees who have been complained against in their present jobs in SBof P because these even one fishes at each station will spoil the otherwise hard working bank employees at each station.

Will the leaders of these Unions, Ashok Malhan, Pawan Thakur, Harvinder Singh, Rajesh Verma, and Ashwani Singla,state on oath that your members in State Bank of Patiala are working honestly and faithfully conducting their futies, what is the use to support such criminals, and lethargic employees, for the criminal workings most are engaged in.

Suraj Parkash Tuteja
9315879780

GLN Prasad

7 months ago

Let us think the other way. Had there been more transparency much earlier immediately after the account showed signs of sickness, this pathetic situation should have never happened. Instead of focusing on inherent reasons and accountability factors right from blaming RBI Governor to RTI Act, every one distracts the Public attention. When they were in Private sector, why they were nationlized, then why they wanted to privatise because holy cow is not yielding the milk.

Bapoo Malcolm

7 months ago

When a person like Mr. Mistry has to go so far for information that he is entitled to get, think of the trauma he has to undergo. The institutions have public money to play around with. The offending staff and their officers must be fined and compensation awarded to Mr. Mistry. Only then will the authorities be made to come to their senses. There are precedents where the staff has been made to pay out of their own pockets. Otherwise the compensation will come out of public funds.

PRAKASH D. BASRUR

7 months ago

It is typical of the behavior of any fraternity , in this case the banking fraternity , trying to help its members ! This is similar to MCI covering for erring medical fraternity or ICA doing similar thing for CA's ! What else can you expect from RBI , the fraternity head ? In all such cases the investigating committee should be a third party group consisting mostly of "non fraternity" professionals like ,say , Ratan Tata , ICAI Chairman , a well known lawyer conversant with banking systems & procedures and , perhaps , computer technologist like Nandan Nilekani who would be familiar with banking software thereby the intricacies of operating level banking. Alas ! we have inherited in toto all our systems , such as our gigantic railways system , PWD , CPWD , govrnment bureaucracy et al , from the British but NOT their impeccable system of impartial investigation in matters such as frauds or mismanagement of Public sector ! I am sure the labour and officer's unions of Public Sector banks would restart their daily post lunch "gate meetings" on this report of the RBI ! Good for their digestion of food !

MG Warrier

7 months ago

Very interesting revelations and analysis. It is time we start moving towards more transparency in the working of organisations dependent on public funds (When I refer to public funds, I have in mind resources belonging to the public including funds/capital mobilised by private sector organisations including corporates and religious/charitable bodies). Perhaps, RTI Act with suitable safeguards should be made applicable to all organisations in government and public/private sectors. We are under the wrong notion that corruption is rampant only in government, inadequacies and inefficiency in management are the monopoly of PSUs and PSBs. It is high time we corrected this attitude and changed our approach to governance, audit and regulation.

REPLY

D S Ranga Rao

In Reply to MG Warrier 7 months ago

Well said. It's the private sector which corrupts the public sector more.

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