New SEZ draft to relook at land ceiling norms: Govt

With land acquisition becoming an emotive issue for farmers and increasing litigations against such moves, SEZ developers are finding it difficult to acquire even 5,000 hectares

Kolkata: The commerce ministry on Wednesday said there is a need for a relook at the land ceiling rules for Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in view of protests against land acquisitions and it will shortly come out with a draft to bring changes in the SEZ Act of 2005, reports PTI.

“There is a need (for a relook at) the SEZ rules and policies.... the minimum land requirement will also be relooked at, as land is a major issue in many states,” said commerce secretary Rahul Khullar.

A group of ministers had earlier lowered the land ceiling for SEZs from 10,000 hectares to 5,000 hectares in the face of protests, including against Nandigram.

With land acquisition becoming an emotive issue for farmers and increasing litigations against such moves, SEZ developers are finding it difficult to acquire even 5,000 hectares.

A number of developers, including that of Mukesh Ambani-promoted Navi Mumbai SEZ Pvt Ltd, are grappling with the problems of land acquisition. Several of them have also dropped their projects because of such problems.

Criticising various state governments for not going the SEZ route for attracting investments, Mr Khullar said, “Those states that are not keen on setting up SEZs are going to lose out in the long run. Look at states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Kerala and the kind of development happened there due to SEZs.”

On India’s exports forecast in the wake of uncertain economic conditions in the West, he said the government had urged the exporters to diversify into other markets.

“The world does not stop with the United States and Europe...Keep diversifying and look for new markets...go to Columbia and similar countries,” Mr Khullar said.

He said that in the next three to six months, there would a fair amount of exchange-rate volatility.

“Exporters should not get greedy or scared due to volatility in exchange rates. Last time, many exporters who took risks during the crisis got clobbered. So, be cautious,” he warned.

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26 co-operative banks go belly up in 2010-11

26 co-operative banks, which include 10 from Maharashtra, six from Gujarat and five from Karnataka, have failed to repay deposits to customers during the last fiscal. The RBI’s credit insurance arm DICGC paid over Rs268 crore to depositors of the co-operative banks which went bankrupt in 2010-11

New Delhi As many as 26 co-operative banks failed in 2010-11 which resulted in credit insurance companies paying over Rs268 crore to depositors, reports PTI.

26 co-operative banks, which include 10 from Maharashtra, six from Gujarat and five from Karnataka, have failed to repay deposits to customers during the last fiscal.

In 2009-10, 29 cooperative banks across the country had closed operations.

Under the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), insurance norms, a maximum of Rs1 lakh is paid to a depositor in case the bank goes insolvent.

The RBI’s credit insurance arm has paid over Rs268 crore to depositors of 26 co-operative banks which went bankrupt in 2010-11.

The DICGC paid the maximum amount of Rs45.43 crore to Ahmedabad Peoples Cooperative Bank of Gujarat. Another Gujarat-based lender Shri Sinnar Vyapari Sahakari Bank got Rs40.66 crore, Surendranagar Peoples Cooperative Bank (Rs30.74 crore) and Surat Mahila Sahakari Bank (Rs26.44 crore).

Besides, the credit insurance company paid Rs16.92 crore to depositors of Rahuri Peoples Cooperative Bank of Maharashtra and also Rs15.24 crore to the account holders of Katkol Cooperative Bank of Karnataka, according to RBI.

At the same time, one each from Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Andhra Pradesh also closed operations.

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SEBI bars 7 companies from issuing fresh shares

The companies have been barred from issuing fresh shares due to matters relating to manipulation of GDR issues. SEBI also barred has 10 other persons and entities from dealing in securities or instruments for involvement in the matter

Mumbai: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Wednesday barred seven companies, including Asahi Infrastructure & Projects and K Sera Sera, from issuing any fresh shares or altering their capital structure in a matter relating to manipulation of GDR issues, reports PTI.

“...in order to protect the interest of investors and the integrity of the securities market...direct following companies not to issue equity shares or any other instrument convertible into equity shares or alter their capital structure in any manner till further directions in this regard,” SEBI said in an order.

Besides Asahi Infrastructure & Projects and K Sera Sera, the other companies are IKF Technologies, Avon Corporation, CAT Technologies, Maars Software International and Cals Refineries.

SEBI also barred 10 other persons and entities from dealing in securities or instruments for involvement in the matter.

They are India Focus Cardinal Fund, MAVI Investment, KII Ltd, Sophia Growth, European American Investment Bank Ag, Basmati Securities, Oudh Finance & Investment, Alka India, SV Enterprises and JMP Securities.

SEBI has also directed the National Securities Depository (NSDL) and Central Depository Services (India) (CDSL) to “freeze the beneficial owner accounts” of the ten persons or entities.

“Further, the concerned stock exchanges should also ensure that said persons/entities do not take fresh positions or increase their open positions,” it said.

SEBI had in 2009-10 received alerts regarding large scale off-market transactions in its IMSS system regarding a few scrips like IKF Technologies, Avon Corporation, Asahi Infrastructure and K Sera Sera.

The companies had issued the GDRs, a financial instrument used by private markets to raise capital denominated in either dollars or euros, between 2007 and 2009.

“A preliminary examination revealed that foreign institutional investors (FIIs) like India Focus Cardinal Fund and Mavi Investment Fund, were converting the GDRs held by them into normal shares (known as cancelling GDRs) to sell in Indian markets.”

“It was also observed that most cancellations were happening within a short period from the issue of the GDRs by the company,” it said.

It was observed that between 33% and 75% of the shares sold by these FIIs in various scrips were bought by recurring clients. In view of such large scale selling by the FIIs and its matching with these clients, a detailed examination was carried out in these scrips.

It was found that between 1 January 2009 and 31 May 2010, the average daily volume has increased significantly on the days when the entities, sub-accounts and group, were found to be trading in the scrip.

A detailed examination was carried out into the matter by SEBI.

“The companies examined were generally less-liquid before the GDR issues compared to the period post-GDR issues. After the GDR issue there has been substantial increase in the average daily volume of these scrips,” it added.

SEBI also found that one Arun Panchariya of India Focus Cardinal Fund facilitated issue of GDRs and later their sale to a set of counterparties on domestic exchanges who in turn sell to retail domestic investors.

“... it is prima facie found that Arun Panchariya related Group entities buy shares from sub-accounts like India Focus and later sell it to retail investors thereby setting up a funds flow from retail clients to Panchariya related counterparties and then to sub-accounts which take the money outside India,” SEBI said.

In its order, the regulator also barred Pan Asia Advisors and Arun Panchariya from rendering services in connection with any securities instruments.

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