A number of hydropower projects awarded since 2006 are in the pre-development stages waiting for financial closure and project report clearances
While India continues to battle with the demand and supply scenario in the power sector, there are reports that a number of projects—especially hydropower projects sanctioned since 2006—are still waiting for financial closure, or in some cases even the detailed project report (DRP) clearance.
In 2007, Gammon Infrastructure Pvt Ltd (GIPL) was awarded a 66 megawatt (MW) Sikkim Hydropower project; the company expects to achieve financial closure in 2010. Commenting on the delay, Parvez Umrigar, managing director, GIPL said, “When a hydropower project is awarded, the first step is to submit a DPR. Usually to prepare the DPR we need about 16 to 18 months. Following the DPR submission and acceptance, we go in for land acquisitions and environment clearances from the Union government. These pre-development activities may take up to two years after which one can start work on the ground level.”
There is a different problem with GIPL’s other project, the 60-MW Tidong hydropower project that is waiting for clear guidance on its erection model. GIPL had formed a joint venture for this project in 2007-08 and expects to receive clear guidance from the government over the next two months. “The government is still not sure whether they want the Tidong project to be awarded on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis or on a different contract basis. I expect that on this project, we will have some concrete understanding in the next two months,” said Mr Umrigar.
Similarly, GMR Energy’s 300-MW Alaknanda hydropower project in Uttaranchal, which was awarded in FY06, is waiting for financial closure. According to a company official, the project is likely to achieve financial closure by March 2010. The project is expected to be commissioned by March 2015.
GMR Energy has submitted DPRs for two of its hydropower projects, the 160MW Talong project in Arunachal Pradesh and the 180MW Bajoli Holi project in Himachal Pradesh and is waiting for approval from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA). The company expects to achieve financial closure for the Bajoli Holi project in 2011.
Local issues have also affected some hydropower projects. In May 2008, a GMR Energy-led consortium got a license to develop a 302MW Upper Karnali hydro-electricity project in Nepal. However, last month, the Nepal Maoists have asked the company to halt its work and leave the site saying that the project was heavily in India's interest at the cost of Nepal. GMR Energy expected to achieve financial closure for this project in 2011 and commission it by the end of 2016. However, the Group stated that it is currently committed to completing the project on schedule.
Similarly, Hindustan Construction Co Ltd (HCC) has also lost revenues on its power projects, especially on its Lohari-Nagpala power project in Uttaranchal due to local issues like problems with the Ganga Bachao Aandolan.
“About 50% of our order backlog is from power projects and most of our projects are running on schedule. The work on the Lohari-Nagpala project has been temporarily suspended sometime in June-July 2009. There is a suspension of this project, but not termination. We would have lost about Rs35 crore-Rs40 crore in the past five–six months due to this suspension,” Vinayak Deshpande, president and chief operating officer (COO) for EPC & construction, HCC had said.
HCC had won this project in 2006, which comprises four units of 150MW each.
According to data available on the CEA website, the generation from hydroelectric power stations in India was 84,495 million units (MU) in 2004-05, which significantly increased to 1,01,293 MU in 2005-06. Later in 2006-07, there was a marginal increase to 1,13,359 MU that rose to 1,23,424 MU in 2007-08.
Although figures for 2008-09 are not available, according to the ministry of power’s website, hydropower generation in India increased by 8.4% during that period.
As of December 2009, India’s overall installed capacity in the hydropower segment was 36,885.4MW from 25,004.3MW in 2000-01.
The SEBI Board has finally exonerated NSDL from the depository's alleged failure in preventing the IPO scam as well as in the dubious DSQ Software case
Stock market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has exonerated National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL) for the depository's alleged failure in preventing the initial public offer (IPO) scam during 2003-2005.
(Moneylife had published a report on this issue in December, “SEBI calls board meeting to dispose NSDL issues” (see here).
The SEBI Board held a meeting on 2nd February. However, even after more than 24 hours there was no official communication on the Board’s decision. Later in the evening, SEBI put up the order on its website. The Board order said: "None of the directions issued under the 1st Interim Order needs affirmation and no further directions are required. In view of the above, in exercise of the powers of the Board under Sections 11, 11B and 11(4) of SEBI Act and Section 19 of the Depositories Act, 1996, we dispose of the ad interim ex-parte Order-cum-show cause notice (SCN) dated 27 April 2006 against NSDL accordingly."
The IPO scam goes back to 2006 when SEBI investigations conducted by the then chairman M Damodaran, unearthed that shares reserved for retail investors were illegally acquired by various entities through tens of thousands of fake dematerialised (demat) accounts and fictitious applications. From the facts, it appeared that NSDL was liable for poor oversight that allowed fake demat accounts to be opened. NSDL’s then head CB Bhave denied any responsibility for the scam even though the banks that had opened the fake demat accounts were penalised by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Based on the prima facie findings, SEBI issued various directions against 82 financiers, 24 key operators, 12 depository participants (DPs) and two depositories. The order also asked NSDL promoters to take all appropriate actions including revamping of management, that clearly has allowed matters to come to such a sorry pass, without further loss of time.
After CB Bhave took over as SEBI chairman, a two-member bench was constituted to look into the IPO scam as well as the DSQ Software Ltd case. The bench comprising G Mohan Gopal (director of National Judicial Academy) and former RBI deputy governor V Leeladhar passed an order against NSDL, directing it to carry out an independent enquiry to establish individual accountability for the failures of NSDL in the IPO scam.
This was followed by a one-year effort to bury the orders of the two-member bench. Finally, under pressure from a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court, the SEBI Board met and was forced to release the three orders of the Bench into the public domain. But the Board sought to kill the application of the orders by declaring that two of the orders as void or 'non est' since the Bench had gone beyond its brief in criticising the regulator itself.
Dr Gopal had objected to this action taken by SEBI. His reservations were echoed by Justice JS Verma, former Chief Justice of India, who declared that such quasi-judicial orders can only be reviewed and quashed “by a judicial forum with requisite jurisdiction, at the instance of a petitioner with standing to seek relief.” Justice Verma is one of the most respected jurists whose opinions are not for sale.
It is reliably learnt that Justice Verma’s opinion was formally put before the regulator’s board meeting on 22 December 2009, which was headed by Mohandas Pai. Curiously enough, although Mr Pai is on the SEBI board as an outside representative, his company, Infosys, is indirectly under SEBI regulations. The three whole-time members of SEBI were also present at the meeting held on 2nd February. Given that the representatives from the Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) on the SEBI board are new, it was more like a foregone conclusion that SEBI would clear NSDL and close the hugely controversial issue, which has damaged SEBI's reputation and that of its chairman.
Citing the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) orders, the SEBI Board said, “In substance, the Hon’ble SAT has held that NSDL cannot be faulted for any lapses or deficiencies on those counts. In view of this finding by Hon’ble SAT in its order and submission made by NSDL as in paragraph 11 above, we do not find it necessary to examine the very same aspects any further and issue any fresh directions."
Earlier, the SEBI board had also sought the legal opinion of C Achuthan, former presiding officer of the Securities and Appellate Tribunal (SAT), in relation to this matter. Dr Gopal had officially pointed out that Mr Achuthan’s position was conflicted because he had represented one of the IPO accused (Karvy) in a matter before the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Mr Achuthan is also a director on the NSE board, a SEBI-regulated entity. NSE is the promoter and major shareholder of NSDL.
Separately, the SEBI Board also exonerated NSDL in the DSQ Software case. In an order, the Board said: "We are unable to find any compelling evidence that can lead to a finding that NSDL is guilty of the violations charged in the notice. In the light of what we have discussed, we do not find it necessary to continue this proceeding against NSDL. In exercise of the powers of the Board under Section 11 and 11 B of the SEBI Act and Section 19 of the Depositories Act, we dispose of the Show Cause Notice accordingly."
In the DSQ Software case, NSDL dematerialised 1.3 crore shares allotted on preferential basis to four entities and allowed them to be delivered in settlement without verifying if they had obtained listing permission. It also dematerialised 30 lakh shares issued as employee stock options without the mandatory lock-in. The preferential allotment was a big scam engineered by Dinesh Dalmia who is languishing in jail for the past three years.
The Board order further said: “Clearly, there were lacunae in the regulatory framework that allowed the company to exploit them and perpetrate the fraud. Was it due to omissions or commissions, deliberate or otherwise, on the part of NSDL? As discussed above in our order, we do not find evidence to this effect. This was the first time that an issuer had perpetrated such a fraud of this type on its investors and that too on such a massive scale. SEBI as the regulator responded to the problem effectively through a circular that further strengthened the due diligence requirements precedent to the listing of stocks.”
There has been evidence that SEBI officials have worked overtime to protect Mr Bhave from the controversy, by delaying the proceedings relating to this case.
Finally, the Board not only exonerated NSDL but also SEBI and its chairman Mr Bhave in a short order without going too deep into the merits of the case against NSDL.
(Read the complete orders of the SEBI Board here
BSE's new facility will enable MF distributors to place orders directly from their own terminals through a browser-based system, rather than accessing the MF platform through RTAs
After launching its mutual fund (MF) transaction platform, Asia's oldest bourse Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) is considering a new facility which will allow distributors to directly access the new platform in a more efficient manner.
The Exchange is discussing the proposal with market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India and hopes to launch the new facility over the next two to three months, BSE's general manager for market operations, Khushro A Bulsara said.
"There are around 70,000 distributors in the country and even if at least 10,000 of them access this facility, that will be a very encouraging sign," Bulsara told PTI.
Distributors generally access the MF platform through registrar and transfer agents (RTAs). The new facility will enable them to place orders directly from their own terminals through a browser-based system, which will be faster. This will help to enhance the efficiency of transactions by faster realisation, the official said.
BSE launched its MF transaction platform—BSE StARMF—in December on the heels of rival NSE launching its own facility.
As of date, 14 found houses have joined the BSE StARMF platform to offer their schemes.