India adds 12.29 million GSM subscribers in June

Bharti Airtel, the number one GSM operator, added three million new users in June while rival Vodafone Essar added 2.71 million subscribers during the month

Indian GSM telecom operators added 12.29 million new subscribers in the month of June, taking the all-India GSM cellular subscriber base to 456.58 million, according to the Cellular Operators Association of India COAI, reports PTI.

Bharti Airtel, the number one GSM operator, added three million new users in June, taking its total subscriber base to 136.6 million, data released by COAI showed today.

Bharti is the leader with a 29.92% market share.

Rival Vodafone Essar added 2.71 million subscribers during the month, taking its subscriber base to 109 million, it said. It had a market share of 23.89% by the end of June 2010.

Idea Cellular added 2.15 million users in June, taking its total user base to 68.88 million, while Aircel — in which Malaysia's Maxis owns a majority stake — added 1.6 million customers to reach 41.67 million subscribers.

State-run telecom firms BSNL and MTNL added 1.09 million and 44,413 new users respectively, taking their subscriber base to 66.88 million (BSNL) and 4.90 million (MTNL).


Power ministry seeks data on gas availability

An Empowered Group of Ministers headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is likely to meet on 27th July to consider allocating natural gas from RIL's KG-D6 field

The power ministry is believed to have asked the oil ministry to provide data on the availability of gas from all sources — including Reliance Industries' (RIL) Krishna Godavari (KG) basin — for power projects, so it could decide on fuel allocation.

"We have asked petroleum ministry to indicate likely availability of gas from all sources," a power ministry official said.

The power ministry would soon decide on the allocation of fuel to gas-based power stations, including NTPC's expansion projects at Anta (Rajasthan), Auraiya (Uttar Pradesh), Faridabad (Haryana) and Dadri (UP).

The ministry has also sought a list of gas-based power plants that would come up during the current financial year (2010-11) from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).

NTPC is planning to augment the combined capacity of its four power stations by about 6,000 MW in the next five years, for which the company would require 30 million standard cubic metres (mmscmd) of gas per day.

"We are planning an expansion of 6,000 MW of our gas-based stations at Anta, Auraiya, Faridabad and Dadri," NTPC official said, adding that the company requires 30 mmscmd of gas for the same.

"If we get the gas, we would be able to start work on the projects by February 2011," he added.

The fuel allocation would also be for Reliance Power's three gas-based power projects -- Samalkot (Andhra Pradesh), Shahapur (Maharashtra) and Bharuch in Gujarat.

An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is likely to meet on 27th July to consider allocating natural gas from RIL's KG-D6 field.

It is likely to allocate gas to the projects, based on recommendations made by the power ministry.

Meanwhile, Reliance Power is also believed to have written to the oil ministry, asking for 29 mmscmd of gas for its three gas-based projects.


Pawar confident of better production despite monsoon hiccups

While there has been insufficient rain in UP, Jharkhand and parts of Bihar, heavy rains have lashed Punjab and Haryana. However, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar is optimistic about foodgrain output

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today expressed confidence that India's foodgrain production would be better than last year despite scanty rain in Uttar Pradesh and flooding in parts of Punjab and Haryana, reports PTI.

"It is true that in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and in some parts of Bihar, there has been insufficient rain. It is also true that because of heavy rain in Punjab and Haryana, there are some damages. However, we will have more production than last year," Mr Pawar said in New Delhi.

India had produced 234.47 million tonnes of foodgrains in 2008-09 and last week, the agriculture minister, enthused by better prospect of rain, had said that the country would have "bumper produce" this year.

"The latest sowing report shows that compared to last year, the area coverage is more for rice, oilseeds, pulses, cotton, sugarcane and jute," Mr Pawar said, adding the prospect of monsoon is "quite encouraging" as of today.

The monsoon, however, has started playing truant since the past one week, raising some concerns about lower production.

"Definitely, there is a gap, but there will be continuity (of rainfall) after the gap. I am not worried as this happens sometimes. A year before also there was some gap but we could produce substantially without any problem," he said.

The Met department has predicted that rainfall would be 98% in July and 102% in August, he said.

Mr Pawar said that though there are "some damages" because of rain in Punjab and Haryana, the farmers and the government of the two states exuded confidence that the production, particularly rice, would not be affected.

"There could be some damages, but they are hopeful of meeting the gap," he said. Punjab and Haryana contribute maximum foodgrains to the Central pool.

The minister, however, expressed concerns about storage capacity, and said that the government is seriously pursuing state and private participation in the construction of godowns.

Currently, the government's storage capacity is 41 million tonnes against the stock of 60 million tonnes.

"If the assessment (sowing) is correct and the next year production is higher, then storage will be a serious problem.

That's why, we are aggressively going with the help of the state governments to construct warehouses in different parts of the country," Mr Pawar said.

Mr Pawar said that his ministry will assess the space crunch in a week's time and if required, might seek more concession from the finance ministry for parties interested in constructing warehouses.


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