Low turnout marks Anna’s fast

The Gandhian, who began the latest round of protest ignoring concerns over his health, asserted that the ambit of his agitation will soon be expanded to include radical electoral reforms like Right to Reject candidates

Mumbai: A surprisingly low turn-out marked the launch of social activist Anna Hazare’s three-day fast against the government’s Lokpal bill which he described as ‘betrayal’ of the people, reports PTI.

As 74-year-old Mr Hazare sat on the fast at the MMRDA ground, the estimate of people at the venue varied between 4,000 and 10,000 in sharp contrast to the 30,000-40,000 that poured in Ramlila Maidan in August.

Team Anna had said that they expected over a lakh people to turn up at the protest venue here. In Delhi too, a negligible number of protesters were at Ramlila Maidan.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Hazare vowed to continue the “fight to the finish”, warning the UPA government that he will campaign against it in the upcoming assembly elections in five states and later in the Lok Sabha polls.

The Gandhian, who began the latest round of protest ignoring concerns over his health, asserted that the ambit of his agitation will soon be expanded to include radical electoral reforms like Right to Reject candidates.

Seeking to broad base his agitation, Mr Hazare said he has invited Baba Ramdev to join his stir and the yoga guru will visit the fast venue tomorrow or the day after.

“It is going to be a long-drawn battle. The agitation for a strong Lokpal is like second war of independence and it has to be treated like that. We have to fight to the finish, even if we have to go to jail, we don't care,” MR Hazare, who looked a little under the weather but resolute as usual, said.

Accusing the government at the Centre of betraying the people, he said, “This is not betrayal of Anna Hazare or Team Anna. This is the betrayal of people who will teach you a lesson.”

Mr Hazare, who is suffering from viral infection, reaffirmed his decision to campaign against the Congress in all the five election-bound states that includes Uttar Pradesh.

“Some people are trying to threaten us. They say they will not allow us to visit (the states where polls are to be held). Those whose fear of death has died don't fear anything,” he said.

Mr Hazare said he would tour the entire country to spread awareness about the intentions of the government. “We will tell them that the nation’s treasury is under threat more from its keepers than thieves. The nation faces greater threat from traitors within than enemies outside.”

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Meeting of oversight panel on RIL’s KG-D6 block postponed

Oil ministry joint secretary (exploration) DN Narasimha Raju and DGH director general SK Srivastava, who had confirmed participation in the Management Committee meeting scheduled at 1130 hours today, recused themselves at the eleventh hour, citing personal reasons

New Delhi: A meeting of an oversight panel to vet Reliance Industries’ (RIL) $1.529 billion investment plan for development of satellite fields in the KG-D6 block was postponed today after government representatives declared themselves unavailable for the meet, reports PTI.

Oil ministry joint secretary (exploration) DN Narasimha Raju and Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) director general SK Srivastava, who had confirmed participation in the Management Committee meeting scheduled at 1130 hours today, recused themselves at the eleventh hour, citing personal reasons, sources privy to the development said.

The oversight panel, called the Management Committee, was to consider giving approval to the proposal by RIL to develop four satellite fields in the flagging KG-D6 block.

Development of the four fields by 2016 would help arrest the fall in output in the producing fields.

Sources said no new dates have been intimated for the MC meeting. Mr Raju, who along with Mr Srivastava did not attend the last KG-D6 MC meeting on 2nd December that failed to approve the development plan, is completing his deputation to the oil ministry on 5 January 2012.

Incidentally, a separate meeting of the MC on blocks operated by state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) took place as scheduled this afternoon.

The KG-D6 MC was to consider the Field Development Plan for the Dhirubhai-2, 6, 19 and 22 (D-2, D-6, D-19 and D-22) fields surrounding the currently producing D-1 and D-3 fields.

The fields can produce 10 million metric standard cubic metres of gas per day (mmscmd) by 2016 and will help shore up output from the block, which has seen a 35% drop in output in the past 15 months.

The MC had in its last meeting on 2nd December refused to approve the investment plan, saying the proposal made in December 2009 was based on the prices of that year and new rates needed to be worked out at the current prices.

Sources said RIL and its partners, UK’s BP Plc and Niko Resources of Canada, felt reworking the rates would require several months and would lead to the loss of the four-month fair weather window in the Bay of Bengal that began this month.

As a compromise, RIL agreed to cap spending on the four fields at $1.529 billion, plus or minus 15%.

This includes $30 million on pre-development activities that RIL and BP have insisted on taking up during the next quarter, including pre-engineering and other studies.

RIL has so far made 18 gas discoveries in the KG-D6 block. Of these, D-1 and D-3—the largest among the lot—were brought on to production from April 2009 but output has fallen from 54 mmscmd, reached in March 2010, to 31.86 mmscmd this month.

Together with 6.83 mmscmd of associated gas produced from the MA oilfield in the same area, total production from the block is 38.66 mmscmd.

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Now Canara Robeco Gold fund

The year 2011 has been the year for gold funds. Canara Robeco too does not want to be left out

Recently Canara Robeco filed an offer document with the Securities and Exchange board of India (SEBI) to launch a gold Exchange Traded fund (ETF) and gold Savings Fund. The gold ETF will invest 90%-100% of its assets in physical gold while the gold Savings Fund will in turn invest 95%-100% of its assets in the units of the gold ETF. This new offering will be an addition to the eight gold funds already present in the market, all of which were launched this year.

Why have so many funds taken to gold? According to the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) data, as on September 2011 there were 4.29 lakh folios (accounts) of retail investors in gold ETFs, up by 76% (1.77 lakh) over September 2010. Investor interest towards gold has significantly increased over the last year owing to the uncertainty and volatility of the equity markets. The folios of retail investors in equity-oriented schemes and ETFs have fallen from 387 lakh in September 2010 to 382 lakh in September 2011. The folios may have reduced by just 1.22% but the number of folios amount to nearly 5 lakh. But naturally fund houses would be inclined to launch schemes to capitalise on this investor interest.

By launching gold mutual funds, they can also capture those investors who do not have a trading account as ETFs, as the name suggests, can be only bought and sold only through the exchange. Therefore gold funds save the investors the trouble of trading by themselves and invest on their behalf in gold ETFs. This is why out of the 12 fund houses that have they own gold ETF, eight of them have a gold fund and one of them will be launching its gold fund soon. (Read: IDBI Gold Fund: More of the same http://www.moneylife.in/article/22323.html)

But is investing in gold a safe and smart option? Gold is a high risk asset class and one should be aware of these risks before investing in a highly speculative product like gold. Investors who shun equities due to risk should think twice before investing in gold because it carries a huge risk of a crash having gone up six times in the last 10 years.

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