ONGC plans urea plant in Tripura

“A survey for setting up a urea plant is going on. Based on gas availability in Thobal plant in North Tripura district and if feasibility is found positive, the plant would be set up:” Sudhir Vasudeva, CMD, ONGC

State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) on Thursday said they were planning to set up hydrocarbon-based urea fertiliser plant in Tripura after completion of Rs 3,950 crore power project at Palatana in South Tripura district.

The company's chairman-cum-managing director, Mr Sudhir Vasudeva, said, “A survey for setting up a urea plant is going on. Based on gas availability in Thobal plant in North Tripura district and if feasibility is found positive, the plant would be set up.”

Mr Vasudeva, who is visiting the State, met the Chief Minister, Mr Manik Sarkar, and state Power Minister, Mr Manik Dey. He said two months ago Mr Sarkar requested ONGC to set up urea plant on the basis of which the survey was started.

The gas-based thermal project at Palatana would start generation by May next year, he said, adding that in the first phase 363.3 MW would be generated by May 2012 and three months later another 363.3 MW would be generated.

Mr Vasudeva, who led the ONGC team in a spot visit programme, inspected several units of the gas-based project and reviewed the ongoing work status.
In the late afternoon, ONGC was trading at around Rs262.25 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 1.46% up from the previous close.

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Cyclone Thane leaves six dead in TN and Puducherry

Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu was the most affected, with damaged roads rendering it difficult for rescue teams including those from National Disaster Response Force and Fire and Rescue Services to reach the cyclone hit fishing hamlets

Chennai: The very severe cyclonic storm, ‘Thane’, today crossed the Tamil Nadu coast, leaving six persons dead and causing extensive damage to Cuddalore and the neighbouring Union Territory of Puducherry which remained cut-off from the nearby districts of the state, reports PTI.

Five persons died in Cuddalore in incidents of wall collapse and electrocution, officials said. A 45-year old man of Vanarampet village in Puducherry died in house collapse.

Train services from southern Tamil Nadu were hit as many of them ran late or were stopped in the nearby station while flights to international destinations by private carriers including to Kuwait and Malaysia from Chennai were cancelled.

Puducherry district collector SB Deepak Kumar told PTI that rescue operations were in full swing in the Union Territory. Uprooted trees were being removed from the roads.

The regional weather office here said, “The very severe cyclonic storm ‘Thane’ over southwest Bay of Bengal moved further westward and crossed north Tamil Nadu coast between Cuddalore and Puducherry between 6.30 and 7.30am today.”

It had now weakened into a severe cyclonic storm and lay about 30km west of Cuddalore and 35 km southwest of Puducherry, it said, adding wind speeds of up to 140 kph was recorded during this period.

“Under the influence of this system, rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places would occur over north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry during next 12 hours and over north interior Tamil Nadu during next 24 hours,” a weather bulletin said.

Further, isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur over south coastal Andhra Pradesh during next 12 hours and over Rayalseema, north Kerala and south Karnataka during the next 24 hours.

Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu was the most affected, with damaged roads rendering it difficult for rescue teams including those from National Disaster Response Force and Fire and Rescue Services to reach the cyclone hit fishing hamlets.

District collector Amuthavalli said even as communication lines remained affected, over 5000 houses of fishermen had been damaged.

An official said around 400 trees had been uprooted on the Cuddalore-Chidambaram road, resulting in suspension of vehicular movement.

Power production at Neyveli Lignite Corporation was affected as the mines were submerged.

Puducherry was cut off from the neighbouring districts of Villupuram and Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu as several trees fell on the roads due to the impact of gale, official sources said.

Bus services between Puducherry and Tamil Nadu and other distant pockets were suspended due to disruption of traffic.

Power supply was suspended since last night as a precautionary measure.

At Chennai, the City Corporation moved more than 2,700 persons to safer areas and had made all arrangements for providing food.

Around 50 trees had been uprooted following the overnight squally winds, but no casualty or injury was reported, the civic agency said in a release.

Meanwhile, high wind speed, reaching up to 90-100 kmph and gusting to 110 kmph was likely along and off north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts and adjoining areas of north interior Tamil Nadu during next few hours and then decrease gradually, the weather office said.

Sea condition was very high along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts and fishermen were not asked to venture into the sea.

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Uncertainty over EPFO rates haunted subscribers during 2011

The EPFO trustees took up the issue for a final decision on the rate of return for its subscribers at a meeting held this month.

The 4.7 crore EPFO (Employees' Provident Fund Organisation) subscribers were left guessing during the year on continuance of 9.5% interest rate for this fiscal, with the retirement fund body, in an unprecedented development, deciding to refer it to the finance ministry for a final decision.

Despite intense deliberations during the year, the EPFO’s apex decision making body, Central Board of Trustees (CBT), headed by the Labour Minister, failed to arrive at a conclusion on the issue. The EPFO trustees took up the issue for a final decision on the rate of return for its subscribers at a meeting held this month. It has provided three different alternative rates to the Finance Ministry for consideration, including its own recommendation of 8.25%, 9.5% as demanded by the unionists and employer's prescribed rate of 8.5% for current fiscal.

"There are different views that emerged on the issue of rate of interest to be paid this fiscal. We will send the viewpoints of the EPFO, unionists and employers' representatives to Finance Ministry for a decision," said Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge. As per the practice, the EPFO, which is an autonomous body, decides the interest rate on provident fund deposits for every financial year in advance on the basis of income projection and then seeks finance ministry's concurrence.

The EPFO's way of handling the issue invited sharp reaction from the unionists with Hind Mazdoor Sabha Secretary AD Nagpal, who is also a trustee, saying: "This is unfortunate. It has happened for the first time".

Similar views were expressed by another trustee and All India Trade Union Congress Secretary DL Sachdev who said CBT should have taken a decision on the matter.

The CBT takes the final call on the issue on the basis of the recommendations of its advisory body Finance and Investment (FIC) and sends its decision to the finance ministry for its concurrence. Interestingly, even the FIC could not give a firm recommendation and reported its unionists members' reservations on the issue.

However, it pointed out in its recommendations to the CBT that providing 8.25% rate for the current fiscal would result in a deficit of Rs24 lakh which would further swell to Rs526.44 crore at 8.5%.

During the FIC meeting on December 22, the unionist punched many holes on the accuracy of the EPFO's official estimate of income projections and demanded maintaining 9.5% rate of return during 2011-12 as in the last fiscal.

The employees' representatives in the FIC meeting sought clarification about the income estimation error, which was Rs458.73 crore. They pointed out that when rate of return on over 85% of the investment made by the EPFO is fixed, how could they calculate this amount on entire possible income of the body.

The unionists were of the view that if this estimation error is factored in properly, then EPFO can spare around Rs400 crore which is sufficient to pay additional 0.25% over projected 8.25% rate of return this fiscal.

EPFO has reduced 2.5% (Rs458.73) crore as estimation error from an estimated income of Rs18,349.20 crore and projected an income of Rs17,890.47 crore for 2011-12. The unionists, on their part, also raised the issue of interest income on the inoperative accounts on which EPFO has stopped paying interest rate from April 1, 2011, to the subscribers. Inoperative accounts are those accounts which have not received any contribution for 36 months or more. There is about Rs15,000 crore lying in those account, which was also invested and was yielding some returns, it was pointed out.

These points were again raised during the CBT meeting on December 23, with the unionists again demanding 9.5% rate of return for the current fiscal.

However, the minister clarified on the issue of distribution of income from inoperative accounts to live accounts, and said that "it could not be done as actual income assessment from those account will be possible only after end of this fiscal".

Besides the interest rate, the trustees also deferred the decision on their ambitious plan of fixing minimum pension at Rs1,000 per month for its subscribers and issuing contribution cards similar to bank passbook to its members.

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