Electricity fund proposal awaits Cabinet approval

New Delhi: The Centre's proposed Rs1,00,000 crore National Electricity Fund to finance development of power transmission and distribution (T&D) network will go for Cabinet approval after the Expenditure Finance Committee gives its go-ahead, reports PTI.

"We have sent the proposal (of National Electricity Fund) to the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) for their approval.

After they approve it ...it would go to the cabinet," member Planning Commission B K Chaturvedi told PTI.

The Planning Commission, last year, had announced setting up of NEF to finance the development of power transmission and distribution network by state utilities so as to reduce T&D losses.

The Plan panel has suggested that the government should provide interest subsidy aimed at bearing part of the interest cost by the Centre. For example, if a state utility plans to raise funds at 10% interest rate, 4% of that would be borne by the government.

"We have suggested that the (interest) subsidy should be based on the norms of the (state) utilities," Mr Chaturvedi said.

State-run Power Finance Corporation and Rural Electrification Corporation are likely to be the nodal agencies to finance state utilities.

The support of World Bank and Asian Development Bank could be sought for improving electricity transmission and distribution network in the country.

As per government estimates, power T&D losses in the country may exceed Rs68,000 crore by the end of the current financial year (2010-11).

Meanwhile, the power ministry is also mulling setting up of a fund for financing projects with a corpus of Rs50,000 crore.

The proposal is at a nascent stage and the ministry is yet to workout the modalities.


DoT extends subscriber verification deadline to 31st Dec

New Delhi: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) today extended the deadline for re-verification of subscribers by telecom operators to 31 December 2010, reports PTI.

"The service providers approached DoT in October for extension of time. They stated that creation of infrastructure for re-verification had taken some time," DoT said in a statement.

Now since the re-verification activities are in full swing, the operators need some more time to complete the process, it added.

DoT had asked telecom operators to complete re-verification of its subscribers over a window of one year starting from 1 November 2009 and had fixed 31st October as the deadline.

"After consideration of all relevant aspects and consultation with security agencies, the time limit has been extended till 31 December 2010," it said.

In the wake of security concerns, the telecom ministry has also proposed introducing new subscriber verification norms. One of the proposals states that telecom operators should send SIM cards to subscribers by registered post or through messengers on the rolls of the company.

On average, telecom operators add 10-12 million subscribers every month. In August, operators notched up 18.18 million new subscribers, taking the total number of mobile users in India to 670.60 million, as per the latest data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.


Tata DoCoMo launches 3G services

New Delhi: Tata Teleservices, which has Japanese firm DoCoMo as a partner, today launched third generation (3G) mobile services in nine circles, enabling subscribers to access high speed Internet and video telephony, reports PTI.

With this, Tata DoCoMo became the first private telecom firm to launch 3G mobile services in the country. Two state owned firms - Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) - had launched the services more than a year ago.

Tatas had bagged 3G spectrum in nine circles of Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh), Rajasthan, Gujarat, UP (West), Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra in the auction held recently.

Tata DoCoMo's 3G network, set up with the assistance of NTT DoCoMo, supports high-speed Internet access with speeds of up to 21.1 Mbps and the services would be available on commercial basis from the mid-night tomorrow, that is November 5 morning on the day of Diwali.

TTSL managing director Anil Sardana said, "We have been able to complete the ramp-up of our network to support 3G services due to the superb 3G-ready network we created at the time of our 2G launch itself, last year. Our 3G roll out across all nine circles will be completed this year itself."

Ryuji Yamada, president and CEO of NTT DoCoMo, said, "After nearly a decade of success in providing 3G service in Japan, we are delighted to have lent our technical and business knowhow to TTSL, our strategic global partner. Going forward, NTT DoCoMo will continue to leverage its mobile expertise and value-added services in markets worldwide through collaboration with partners such as TTSL."


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