India Post to set up 1000 ATMs at post offices

An application for converting post offices into banks has been made to the and once implemented, coverage of the banking network in the country will increase three-fold in one go

New Delhi: The Department of Post plans to set up 1000 ATMs at post offices and convert them into banks for taking core banking to unbanked population using the vast postal network, reports PTI.

Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said there are 154,688 post offices in the country, the largest postal network in the world. Of these 25,154 are departmental post offices and the rest Gramin Dak Sewak (GDS) managed post offices which are predominantly in the rural areas. These post offices, he said, can double up as banks once they are computerised.

About 24,969 departmental post offices have been computerised as on 31st March, out of which 19,890 have been provided with network connectivity. The GDS managed post offices will be computerised under a comprehensive IT project for which an outlay of Rs1,877.2 crore has been made, he said.

"Introduction of core banking in networked post offices and setting up of 1,000 ATMs is also part of this project," he said.

An application for converting post offices into banks has been made to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Once implemented, coverage of the banking network in the country will increase three-fold in one go, he said.

Mr Sibal said financial services at post office will cost a fraction of the cost of setting up a bank branch.

Besides, post offices could also double up as retail intermediaries, buying rural products, besides being delivery vehicle for schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). "This is what we need to be doing. I hope we have resources," he said.

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DGCA warns airlines against hiking fares

The DGCA asked scheduled airlines to ensure that no upward revision in tariff is effected due to ongoing industrial unrest in Air India and also surge in demand during this period

New Delhi: Noting that private airlines have suddenly raised fares by up to 20% on certain sectors in view of Air India strike, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday warned them against hiking fares beyond their band, saying the cost of operation has not undergone any major change over the past two months, reports PTI.

The DGCA order came in the wake of some member of parliament (MPs) raising the issue in Parliament yesterday and asking the government to act.

"It has been brought to the notice of the DGCA through search of websites of airlines and media reports as well as feedback from air travellers that fares on certain high demand sectors have registered a sudden spurt, which is almost 15% to 20% higher on various metro routes compared to a month ago," the DGCA said in its order.

It noted that the cost of operation of scheduled airlines on account of various constituent elements have not undergone any major change over the past two months.

"In view of the above, all the scheduled domestic airlines are directed to ensure that fares offered on various sectors remain within the fare band uploaded on the website of respective airlines," the DGCA order said.

It asked the scheduled airlines to "ensure that no upward revision in tariff is effected due to ongoing industrial unrest in Air India and also surge in demand during this period."

The order said any violation of these directives will be dealt with under the provisions of Rule 135 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, which provides for intervention by the DGCA in case transparency in air fares is violated by any airline,

BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had raised the issue in Rajya Sabha yesterday, saying passengers were facing harassment due to cancellation of Air India flights on one hand and hike in fares by private airlines on the other.

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India invites Chinese steel makers to set up pellet plants

Chinese steel makers can take full advantage of the zero duties on pellet exports from India besides the drastic reduction in customs duty on imports of pellatisation machinery into the country

Beijing: India has invited China, the biggest importer of its iron ore, to set up pellet plants in the country, reports PTI.

The Chinese steel makers have been asked to take full advantage of the zero duties on pellet exports from India besides the drastic reduction in customs duty on imports of pellatisation machinery into the country. Pellets are made by moulding ore powder into desired configurations, with some value addition.

It is a win win deal for Chinese steel industry to set up pelletisation plants in India as it would make up for the extra expenditure being incurred by them in view of 30% duty on iron ore exports from India, CS Verma, Chairman of Steel Authority of India (SAIL), said.

Mr Verma, who signed an MOU with the Chinese Iron and Steel Association (CISA) to step up interaction between the two major producers and consumers of steel, invited them to set up their plants in India.

He said they could take full advantage of the new duty structure in India to encourage setting up of pelletisation plants.

Indian iron ore which has traditionally been the top item of exports to China has dropped by 14%t to $9.6 billion in value terms during 2011, compared to the $11.2 billion in 2010.

It was expected to come down further due to increase in export duty from 20% to 30% early this year.

Mr Verma said, India, which has about 25 billion tonnes of iron ore reserves will continue to export it but at the same it would be advantageous to get value addition from the raw material.

"Since buying ore will be costlier, companies who need it have to nuetralise it. "This is why we should export it in the value added form not in the mineral form," Mr Verma who wound up his four day visit here told PTI.

"It will create employment and investment opportunities for India to have the value addition," he said.

China has been importing 75 to 80 MT every year. In the recent the Indian government has also reduced customs duty on the import of pellatisation plants from 7.5% to 2.5%.

"That means there is lot of incentives for setting up pellatisation plants in India," he said.

There is no export duty from India on pellets. He said the Chinese companies have shown keen interest in the proposal.
 

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