Government confirms blast; says inner container housing fuel rods still intact; allays fears of massive radioactive leak
TOKYO: A hydrogen explosion erupted at the earthquake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan today, troubled second reactor, injuring at least three workers, Japan's nuclear safety agency said. Seven people, six of them soldiers were missing.
The Press Trust of India reported that Japan's Kyodo news agency quoted chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano as saying that the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co had confirmed the blast did not damage the container of the No 3 reactor. He tried to allay fears that the blast may have caused a massive release of radioactive substances.
"According to the plant chief's assessment, the container's health has been maintained," Mr Edano said. "The possibility is low that massive radioactive materials have spattered." He said that the blast which blew away the roof and the walls of the building housing the container was similar to an explosion on Saturday at another reactor of the plant, 240 km north of Tokyo. Some media reports said that the explosion was heard even about 40 km away.
The explosion happened just after prime minister Naoto Kan went on television to tell the nation that the situation at the 40-year-old Fukushima nuclear plant was "alarming" and that the authorities were doing their best to prevent the damage from spreading. "We have rescued over 15,000 people and we are working to support them and others. We will do our utmost in rescue efforts again today," he said.
The government sought to play down fears of a dangerous radiation leak, saying the reactor's inner containment vessel, which holds the nuclear fuel rods, was still intact following the blast, which was caused by a hydrogen build up. Engineers have been working desperately to cool the fuel rods, mainly with seawater, after coolant water levels fell following the quake. If they fail, the containers that house the core could melt, or even explode, releasing radioactive material into the atmosphere.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the radiation level had not significantly risen. The radiation at the plant's premises today rose over the benchmark limit of 500 micro sievert per hour at two locations, Kyodo reported. The hourly amounts are more than half the 1,000 micro sievert to which people are usually exposed to in one year. The maximum level detected so far around the plant is 1,557.5 micro sievert, which was logged yesterday, the report said.
Reuters news agency reported a Japanese official said before the blast that 22 people had been confirmed to have suffered radiation contamination and up to 190 may have been exposed. Workers in protective clothing have used hand-held scanners to check people arriving at evacuation centres. It also said that US warships and planes helping with relief efforts moved away from the coast temporarily because of low-level radiation. The US Seventh Fleet said the move was precautionary.
Japan's nuclear agency had declared a state of emergency at another nuclear facility at Onagawa after excessive nuclear radiation was reported there. The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was continuing to liaise with the Japanese authorities and monitoring the situation as it evolved.
SEBI has also flagged the need for concerted efforts and better coordination both at the operational as well as the surveillance level between various regulators to protect the interests of investors in this increasingly complex world of financial products
Mumbai: If the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has its way, wealth managers will have a tough time going forward as the capital markets watchdog is in the process of coming out with stern measures to regulate the relationship managers in particular and wealth management firms in general, reports PTI.
SEBI has also flagged the need for concerted efforts and better coordination both at the operational as well as the surveillance level between various regulators to protect the interests of investors in this increasingly complex world of financial products.
In fact, SEBI executive director KN Vaidhyanathan, who heads the investment management department that oversees foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and mutual funds (MFs) at SEBI, was very vocal at a seminar over the weekend here. "We can't remain silent. We need to come together and address how to regulate the wealth management sector which straddles across different jurisdictions," he said
"The markets are far too advanced now. The wealth managers of today straddle across products that cut through banking, capital markets and insurance regulatory frameworks.
We need to integrate across regulators, not just at the policy level, but at the operating and surveillance levels too," he stressed.
The strong pitch for co-ordination and firmer control on these nascent areas of the financial system assume critical importance in the light of the recent Rs350 crore wealth management fraud, which took place at the Gurgaon branch of Citi.
In the fraud, Citi's relationship manager allegedly used fraudulent documents to lure high networth individuals and companies such as the privately held Hero Investments, an arm of the country's largest two-wheeler maker.
Further, pointing fingers at the relationship managers at wealth management firms, he said the risk in the wealth management business lies with the relationship manager, as his remuneration is not completely aligned with the interest of the customer.
"Relationship managers are the key risk in the wealth management business from an investor's point of view. His remuneration is not fully aligned with the interest of the investor," Mr Vaidhyanathan said.
"The institution guards its risk by getting certain documents from the customer, so the risk of the relationship manager is actually borne by the customer. Therefore, we regulators should better address the issue of regulating the relationship manager," he added.
When contacted, Karvy Private Wealth Management chief executive Hrishikesh Parandekar said, "Such regulatory steps will definitely help the industry in a regulated manner so that another bad name can be avoided."
"At Karvy, we have a multi-layer screening process of our relationship managers and wealth managers, plus a long induction programme. Having said so, no authority on earth can prevent a person from committing a crime if he/she is hell-bent on committing it," he said.
The domestic private wealth management sector is pegged at round Rs2 lakh crore and had been growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 25%, Mr Parandekar said.
Another private manager said while it will be easier to work under one umbrella regulation instead of having different regulators for different products, it will increase the cost of operations for firms, as they would have to put in place new systems and infrastructure to comply with new norms.
It can be noted that following the fall of the Lehman Brothers and the resultant global financial meltdown, the government has set up a super regulatory body called the Financial Stability and Development Council, with the finance minister as the chairman and the Reserve Bank of India governor as deputy chairman.
With inflation showing no signs of moderation, it is widely expected that the RBI will raise key policy rates at its quarterly monetary policy review on 17th March
New Delhi: India's headline inflation rose marginally to 8.31% for the month ended February from 8.23% in the previous month, putting pressure on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to raise interest rates when it reviews the monetary policy later this week, reports PTI.
The rise in inflation was mainly on account of higher milk, edible oil, vegetables and fruit prices. In addition, high fuel prices on account of soaring international crude oil rates also contributed to the higher inflation.
With inflation showing no signs of moderation, it is widely expected that the RBI will raise key policy rates at its quarterly monetary policy review on 17th March.
It may be recalled that food inflation, which accounts for over 14% of overall wholesale price index (WPI) inflation, stood at 10.65% in February.
As per the WPI data, the prices of primary articles-food, non-food articles and minerals-shot up by 14.79% on an annual basis, official data released here showed. However, prices of certain food items declined on a year-on-year basis.
While wheat became cheaper by 1.67%, pulses prices fell by 5.10% and rates for potatoes by 11.28%.
During the month, fuel and power prices went up by 11.19%, driven mainly by a 28.73% rise in petrol prices and a 14.99% jump in cooking gas (LPG) rates.
At the same time, the manufactured goods group index rose by 4.49% on an annual basis. Manufactured items have the highest weight of 64.9% in the WPI.