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Mexico taxi drivers step up pressure against Uber
Mexico City taxi drivers staged a protest against the recent approval to private transport services offered via smartphone apps, while police investigated attacks on Uber drivers in the past few hours.
 
Dozens of taxis gathered in the centrally located Paseo de la Reforma on Wednesday to protest the decision two weeks ago by the federal district to allow ride-sharing services like Uber and Cabify to operate.
 
The new regulations will be overturned because they have "no legal basis", Mexico City Organized Taxi Drivers Association spokesman Ignacio Rodriguez told EFE.
 
"There's not a single article in the mobility law or in the current transport regulations that establish a foundation for such an agreement," Rodriguez said, adding that the association planned to take legal action against the new rules.
 
The protest took place in the wake of attacks on several Uber vehicles on Tuesday.
 
Individuals armed with sticks, pipes and stones damaged the windows, windshields, bodies and tyres of several vehicles parked around the Mexico City International Airport.
 
The victims have filed complaints and "Uber is not saying that the taxi drivers' organisation had anything to do with it", but that it was "an attack by residents" of the area, federal district police chief Patricia Mercado said on Wednesday.
 
About 250 people attacked between seven and 12 vehicles, Mercado said, adding that police had not ruled out the possibility that some taxi drivers were involved.

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BSNL to invest Rs.6,000 crore for 40,000 Wi-Fi hotspots: Chairman
State-run telecom service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will invest Rs.6,000 crore over the next three years to set up some 40,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, its chairman-cum-managing director Anupam Shrivastava has said.
 
"We are now thinking of rolling out wi-fi hotspot through capital expenditure model also. We are in the process of having our tender ready. We will be floating our tender and put our own equipment. We will be doing everything," Shrivastava told IANS in an interview.
 
"We have a targeted to have 40,000 wi-fi hotspots in course of next three years. We will be investing Rs.6,000 crore for that," he said, adding: "For our initiative with the private sector, we have set a target of 250 locations in 2015-16 with 2,500 hotspots."
 
A Wi-Fi hotspot offers clients access to the Internet over a wireless local area network.
 
The company has already rolled out Wi-Fi hotspots in 70-75 locations in the country. But these have not been fully deployed by BSNL. The state-run firm has roped in private players for the majority of the work.
 
"When we did an analysis of BSNL, we found that we neither have 4G licence nor the money to buy spectrum. Yet we knew that 4G will be the in-thing for the future generation. We also realised that our biggest strength is the landline structure that we have," Shrivastava said.
 
"But we have optical fibre network almost to the tune of 700,000 kilometres countrywide. The natural thing that comes to us is to utilise these resources. Then we found wi-fi is the new technology that is coming and taking on 4G area," he added.
 
"So Wi-Fi became our obvious choice."
 
The chairman explained that earlier the company was not investing on wi-fi roll-out and opting, instead, for a revenue sharing model with private players. 
 
"We floated expression of interest through which we asked private parties to install the wi-fi hotspots, maintain it for five years and manage the sales and marketing functions as well. We at BSNL provide the back-haul connectivity through optic fibre -- at 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps," he said.
 
The ballpark investment to construct five wi-fi hotspots in one place is around Rs.10 lakh.
 
Shrivastava also expressed optimism that capital employed on wi-fi operations will be realised soon. "But for that, we have to reach certain threshold. The moment we complete this year's target of 250 locations, the revenue stream will start ploughing the investments back."
 
Talking about BSNL's inherent strengths, notably as a landline service, Shrivastava said in the next two-three years even rural exchanges will become next generation network NGN) exchanges.
 

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At latest count, Haryana's ambitious expressway falls back by 9 years
The silver lining is that the cost of the project is being brought down by Rs.183 crore (nearly $29 million) from its original estimated cost of Rs 1,863 crore
 
Intended to free the national capital New Delhi from traffic congestion, an ambitious 136-km expressway project in Haryana is unlikely to be completed even nine years beyond its original deadline.
 
The construction work of the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) expressway, which has courted controversies ever since it was allotted in January 2006, has now been given a new deadline - August 2018.
 
But the silver lining is that the cost of the project is being brought down by Rs.183 crore (nearly $29 million) from its original estimated cost of Rs 1,863 crore.
 
"The project involves the construction of a six-lane expressway, instead of the earlier proposed four-lane road. The project cost would come to Rs 1,680 crore, which is less than the estimated project cost of Rs.1,863 crore," Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) managing director Vineet Garg told IANS.
 
The original deadline for the KMP expressway was July 2009 but the project got mired in controversies and litigation with deadlines being continuously extended.
 
The project, touted to help ease traffic flow, especially of heavy vehicles, through New Delhi, has itself been crawling for the past over six years. It will pass through five districts in Haryana - Sonipat, Jhajjar, Gurgaon, Mewat and Palwal.
 
The significance of the expressway is that it will not only connect four major national highways (NHs) - NH-1 (Delhi-Ambala-Amritsar), NH-2 (Delhi-Agra-Varanasi-Dankuni), NH-8 (Delhi-Jaipur-Ahmedabad-Mumbai) and NH-10 (Delhi-Hisar-Fazilka-Indo-Pak border), but will significantly reduce the traffic from north Indian states to central, western and southen India and vice versa.
 
The Haryana government, under Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, had earlier this year decided to re-allot the work after this was halted due to acquisition issues and litigation.
 
"The company which had been awarded the work of KMP Expressway has been halting the project for long," Khattar had said earlier.
 
The Manesar-Palwal section of the expressway is likely to be completed by January 2016 while the Kundli-Manesar section is likely to be completed by August 2018.
 
The earlier concessionaire, KMP Expressway Limited, failed to complete the work even up to December 2014, despite warnings from the Haryana government.
 
The Supreme Court had on January 30 directed the state government to award the contract to a new concessionaire. Thereafter, the agreement of KMP Expressway Limited was terminated on March 19.
 
The previous Congress government of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, which had launched the project, had claimed that "work on the expressway was going on a war footing".
 
"The matter got into litigation and was pending before the Supreme Court, leading to delays," Hooda told IANS.

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