Reshuffle in Cabinet in offing; Chidambaram likely to be FM

A minor reshuffle of portfolios in the Union Cabinet is likely to bring back Chidambaram as finance minister while Sushil Kumar Shinde may be the next home minister  

New Delhi: A minor reshuffle of portfolios in the Union Cabinet appeared to be in the offing with indications today that Home Minister P Chidambaram was being made the Finance Minister, reports PTI.
Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was tipped to be the Home Minister, according to sources.
Minister for Corporate Affairs M Veerappa Moily is likely to be given the additional charge of the Power Ministry, the sources said.
The reshuffle of portfolios has been necessitated by the exit of Pranab Mukherjee, who held the portfolio of Finance Ministry before getting elected as the President.
When asked about the speculation, Chidambaram sought to downplay it.
"I don't think so. I am very happy to meet you once in a month. I am content with the job I am doing and we will meet next month," he told reporters when asked during his monthly press conference as Home Minister whether this would be his last one in this portfolio.
Chidambaram was the Finance Minister before being given the charge of the Home Minister in the wake of November 2008 Mumbai attack.

Chidambaram has taken a major share of the pie of the Empowered Group of Ministers and Group of Ministers after the exit of Pranab Mukherjee.


Chidambaram now heads seven out of the 15 Group of Ministers (GoM) and two Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoMs), followed by Defence Minister AK Antony who chairs three EGoMs and four GoMs.


Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who a fortnight ago had threatened to pull out of government contending lack of say in governance to coalition partners, has been made chairman of one EGoM and three GoMs.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also pruned the number EGoMs from the earlier 12 to six at present. Earlier, all the EGoMs were chaired by Mukherjee.


The list of GoMs has also been brought down to 15 from the earlier 27.


The six EGoMs wound up by the government include those on the Food Security Act, National Highways Development Project, issues related to SEZs, and under-recoveries of oil marketing companies.


Antony chairs the EGoMs on gas pricing, mass rapid transit systems, and ultra mega power projects, Chidambaram heads EGoMs on telecom spectrum allocation, and reforms in the Central public sector enterprises.


Pawar has been made the chairman of the EGoM on drought.



Blackout in half of the country; 200 miners trapped in W Bengal

The Northern Grid, which collapsed on Monday and was restored after 15 hours, again tripped on Tuesday. The Eastern and North-Eastern transmission lines too failed this afternoon, worsening the power situation in the country 


New Delhi: India faced a major power crisis for the second consecutive day on Tuesday as three grids serving Northern, Eastern and North-Eastern regions failed this afternoon, leading to 200 coal miners getting trapped in eastern state of West Bengal and throwing normal life out of gear in 22 states, reports PTI.


As the grids collapsed around 1pm, miners in Eastern Coalfields got trapped in Sodepur and Satgram in Burdwan districts of West Bengal, according to officials who said rescue efforts are on.


In Delhi, Metro commuters were trapped inside the tunnels for sometime as trains came to a halt as electricity supplies got snapped.


The Centre blamed overdrawal by states in the Eastern region for Tuesday's grid collapse. Power Grid Corp promised normalcy would be restored by 7pm.


The states affected included Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha, Bihar, Rajasthan and Assam and Union Territory of Chandigarh, covering more than half of the population.


In Kolkata, Metro Rail services were unaffected, according to state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The state government declared holiday in its offices after 3 PM.


The Railways network across major parts of the country was among the worst hit services, as trains, other than those running on diesel engine, stopped midway.


Assam witnessed large-scale power cuts throughout the state. In Orissa also, train services were hit.


The Northern Grid, which collapsed on Monday and was restored after 15 hours, again tripped on Tuesday. The Eastern and North-Eastern transmission lines too failed this afternoon, worsening the power situation in the country when it is facing drought-like situation in most parts.


"Some sections are creating problems by overdrawing power," Power Grid CMD RN Nayak said.


This is probably the first time that three grids have collapsed simultaneously.


When asked about the reasons for the failure of grids, Shinde said some states are drawing electricity over and above their limits. "This was creating problems," the minister said.


"This morning only, I was told (by officials) that about 3,000 MW extra power has been over drawn from the Eastern Grid. We have given the direction to either stop it (over drawal) or take action against them," he added.


"Grid incident occurred at 13:00 hours affecting the Northern Grid, Eastern Grid and North Eastern Grid," National Load Despatch Centre (NLDC) said. The authorities began to restore power for essential services on a priority basis at around 1500 hours in the National Capital and other states.


India has five electricity grids -- Northern, Eastern, North Eastern, Southern and Western. All of them are inter- connected, except the Southern grid.


All the grids are being run by the state-owned Power Grid Corporation, which operates more than 95,000 circuit km of transmission lines.


One circuit km refers to one kilometre of electrical transmission line.


The authorities began restoring power to essential services at around 1500 hours, pursuant to which many services including Delhi Metro resumed operations. Services at airports and hospitals remained largely unaffected due to backup electricity available with them.


Nearly 300 trains came to a grinding halt at various places due to the grids' failure, including on the busy Delhi-Howrah route. The Metro services in Kolkata were also affected, while the West Bengal government asked the employees to leave early for home in the wake of power crisis.


Petronet LNG Q1 net profit up 5% to Rs270.8 crore

Despite low volumes, the LNG importer's total revenues jumped 52% to Rs7,030.4 crore during the June quarter

New Delhi: Petronet LNG Ltd, India's largest liquefied natural gas importer, on Tuesday reported 5% increase in its June quarter net profit as rise in margins made up for fall in volumes, reports PTI.
April-June quarter net profit at Rs 270.85 crore was higher than Rs 256.71 crore net profit in the same period a year ago, company Managing Director and CEO AK Balyan told reporters.
Petronet's Dahej LNG import and regasification terminal processed 127.17 Trillion British thermal units of gas in Q1 as against a volume of 133 TBtus in the corresponding quarter.
The company imports natural gas in its liquid form (LNG) in cryogenic ships and then turns it back into its gaseous state before supplying to consumers.
"The volumes are less because 5-6 fertiliser plants (who consume the imported gas) took maintenance shutdown in April. Things improved from April-end and this month we have seen full recovery," he said.
Turnover, however, soared 52% to Rs7,030.41 crore.
"The increase in turnover during this quarter is mainly on account of increased price of LNG under the long term contract as well as the appreciation in the exchange rate," he said.
Petronet Director (Finance) RK Garg said the net profit was higher because of "operational efficiency and better margins".
The 10 million tons Dahej terminal operated at 100% capacity in the quarter, he said adding the facility is operating at more than its nameplate capacity currently.
Balyan said the company's 5 million tons a year Kochi terminal in Kerala was on schedule and was expected to be completed by end-2012.
Petronet, which is expanding Dahej terminal to 15 million tons by 2015, has awarded the work of Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) for a 5 million tons import facility at Gangavaram port in Andhra Pradesh to state-owned Engineers India Ltd, he said.
He said the Kochi terminal would initially operate at 0.5 to 1 million tons capacity at state gas utility GAIL India Ltd would complete the Kochi-Kanjirkkod-Bangalore-Mangalore pipeline, which is to take the fuel to consumers, only by December 2013.


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