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Fire on merchant vessel MV Amsterdam under control

Colombo-bound merchant vessel MV Amsterdam carrying hazardous cargo, caught fire near the Prongs Reef Lighthouse in South Mumbai yesterday

 
Mumbai: A major fire that broke out on the Colombo-bound merchant vessel MV Amsterdam Bridge off Mumbai coast has been contained and cooling operations are underway, reports PTI quoting Coast Guard officials.
 
"The flames have been contained but not extinguished. A thick plume of smoke continues to emanate from the vessel and fire-fighting as well as cooling operations are on," officials said.
 
The ship, carrying hazardous cargo, caught fire near the Prongs Reef Lighthouse in South Mumbai yesterday.
 
"It is learnt that 24 containers out of the 112 on board the vessel contained 45 tonnes of dangerous cargo," they said, adding some containers seemed to carry petrol, turpentine and some inflammable gas.
 
Coast Guard officials said that they have not witnessed any oil spill so far even though the ship fuel tank contained 2,600 tonnes of heavy fuel.
 
The cause of the blaze is not yet known but the actual seat of the fire has been localised in hold number three of the vessel, officials said.
 
Apart from four Indian Coast Guard ships -- ICGS Samudra Prahari, ICGS Subhadra Kumari Chouhan, ICGS Sankalp, ICGS Sangram -- two Indian naval vessels, two Mumbai Port Trust (MPT) fire-fighting tugs and five ONGC tugs are assisting the Coast Guard in containing the fire.
 
It is only after extinguishing the fire, that the estimate of the damage can be evaluated, officials said.
 
The crew of the 54,405 tonne vessel is safe, they said.
 
According to Coast Guard, the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged merchant vessel had anchored at the inner anchorage after discharging cargo at Nava Sheva, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) on Friday. It left for Colombo after loading containers and was supposed to reach the Sri Lankan capital tomorrow.
 

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Finance Ministry says no to Iranian bank's plan to open branch in India

Earlier, Ministry of Home Affairs had also denied security clearance to applications by Parsian Bank and two other Iranian banks fearing threat of money laundering and terror financing in banking transactions

 
New Delhi: The Finance Ministry has declined permission to Iran's Parsian Bank to open a branch in India apparently due to security concerns and threat of money laundering, reports PTI.
 
Iran had been pressing New Delhi for allowing Parsian Bank to open a branch to settle oil and other trade with India.
 
The matter was examined by Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and subsequently, based on RBI's report, a decision was taken by the Finance Ministry not to agree to Parsian Bank's application, sources privy to the development said.
 
Earlier, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had denied security clearance to applications by Parsian Bank and two other Iranian banks fearing threat of money laundering and terror financing in banking transactions as cautioned by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
 
India became a member of Paris-based FATF in 2010 and is required to follow standards prescribed by FATF to check money laundering and terror-financing activities.
 
Sources said since RBI in December 2010 scrapped a long-standing mechanism of settling payments through the Asian Clearing Union mechanism; India pays 55% of the value of oil its imports from Iran in euro payments through Turkey's Turkiye Halk Bankasia. The balances 45% of crude payments are made in rupees through UCO Bank.
 
Under the rupee payment mechanism, 45% of the payments made by Indian oil companies for their imports from Iran are credited in rupees in the accounts of Iranian Banks maintained with UCO Bank.
 
These rupee resources are being used for making payments for Indian exports, including project exports, to Iran.
 
Besides opening a branch, Tehran also wants the rupee balance in the UCO Bank accounts to be permitted to finance third country imports by Iran.
 
The operational modalities have to be discussed and agreed between the two sides, sources said.
 
India imported 17.44-18 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran -- 10.5% of the nation's total oil imports in 2011-12. This year, imports from Iran are likely to dip to 14-16 million tonnes or 8.4% of 190 million tonnes of planned crude oil imports.
 
Bilateral trade between the two nations is skewed in favour of Iran. In 2011-12, the total trade between India and Iran was around $15.94 billion. While India's exports were around $2.4 billion, India's imports from Iran were around $13.5 billion. India's imports exceed that of its exports by $11.14 billion.
 
Sources said while India's gross exports to the world increased by more than 21% during 2011-12 as compared to previous year, India's exports to Iran declined by 3.8%.
 

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