Consumer Issues
SC nixes TRAI order on call drops
The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) notification obligating telecom service providers (TSPs) to compensate consumers for dropped calls.
 
Striking down the notification dated October 16, 2015, an apex court bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman declared that "the impugned regulation is ultra vires of the TRAI Act and violative of the appellant's (Associations of TSPs) fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the constitution".
 
The apex court also underlined that subordinate legislations should be framed after due consultation with all stakeholders so that they are transparent and shorn of any arbitrariness.
 
The TRAI had notified the Telecom Consumers Protection (Ninth Amendment) Regulations, 2015, by which every provider of mobile telephone services was made liable to credit only the calling consumer (and not the receiving consumer) with one rupee for each call drop, which takes place within its network, up to a maximum of three call drops per day.
 
Setting aside the February 29 Delhi High Court judgment in the case, the apex court said the high court was incorrect in holding that the penal regulation for call drops was for ensuing quality of service.
 
Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Nariman said: "(October 16 TRAI) Regulation does not lay down any quality of service -- what it does is to penalise service providers even though they conform to the 2 percent standard laid down by the Quality of Service Regulations, 2009."
 
"The finding that a transparent process was followed by TRAI in making the Impugned Regulation is only partly correct. While it is true that all stakeholders were consulted, but unfortunately nothing is disclosed as to why service providers were incorrect when they said that call drops were due to various reasons, some of which cannot be said to be because of the fault of the service provider," the judgment said. 
 
Pointing that 2 percent ceiling on the call drops as a condition of licence and October 16 regulation penalising call drops should be seen together, the judgment said: "We also find that when the service provider argued that it was being penalised despite being within the tolerance limit of 2 percent, the answer given by the high court is disingenuous, to say the least, when the high court says that 2 percent is a quality parameter for the entire network as opposed to payment of compensation to an individual consumer. We are unable to appreciate the aforesaid reasoning."
 
"We find that, subject to certain well defined exceptions, it would be a healthy functioning of our democracy if all subordinate legislation were to be "transparent" and framed after consultation with all the stakeholders." 
 
"We would exhort parliament to take up this issue and frame a legislation along the lines of the US Administrative Procedure Act (with certain well defined exceptions) by which all subordinate legislation is subject to a transparent process" involving consultation with all the stakeholders," the court said.
 
Similarly, it said the power of making rules and regulations is exercised after due consideration of the views of all stakeholders with an explanatory memorandum stating as to why the views of the stakeholders were agreed with or disagreed.
 
"Not only would such legislation reduce arbitrariness in subordinate legislation making, but also conduce to openness in governance. It would also ensure the redressal, partial or otherwise, of grievances of the stakeholders concerned prior to the making of subordinate legislation," the Supreme Court said.
 
This, the court said, would "obviate, in many cases, the need for persons to approach courts to strike down subordinate legislation on the ground of such legislation being manifestly arbitrary or unreasonable".
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Dredged material from ports can be multi-crore business in construction
Can infrastructure be sustainably built in a developing economy? As India undergoes a developmental period, this question assumes importance.
 
Infrastructure growth is likely in railways, roads, airports, smart cities, large industrial units, super technological communication systems and the like. One of the major factors in infrastructure development is civil construction. In this sand, soil, cement, aggregate and steel are forerunners.
 
With shrinking utility services, the requirements of legal environmental restrictions and advocacy and desirability of sustainability, the cost of construction is steadily rising.
 
To overcome the above situation, it is possible to use the huge amount of dredged material from various ports. At the moment this material is dumped in the sea.
 
Every year, ports such as Kolkata, Paradip, Visakhapatanam and Chennai on the east coast of India produce millions of tonnes of dredged material. A similar situation also exists on the west coast.
 
Dredging is essential for navigation, remediation and flood management of waterways.
 
Use of dredged material can reduce the quantities of primary resource needed for activities such as construction and habitat creation. Some countries do already make extensive use of dredged material. In Japan, more than 90 percent of dredged material was used in the past.
 
In India, a new capital city of Andhra Pradesh is coming up at Amaravati. An area covering 30 villages between Vijayawada and Guntur, some 35 km away from Amaravati town has been marked for capital development.
 
Pitched as a world-class riverfront capital city, Amaravati will be an energy-efficient and green city with concentration on industrial hubs. The Andhra Pradesh government, through the Capital Region Development Authority, has acquired some 30,000 acres of land.
 
Expected to be completed by 2018-19, the Seed Capital Area (SCA) of 16.7 sq.km. will be home to about 300,000 residents. The business hub is expected to generate about 700,000 jobs in various sectors, including government. There will be a thriving, state-of-the- art Central Business District (CBD) for business and living.
 
The master plan envisages nodes and corridors for a transit-oriented development approach. So, there will be an integrated network of 12 km of Metro railway, 15 km of Bus Rapid Transit system, seven km of downtown roads, 26 km of arterial and sub-arterial roads and 53 km of collector roads.
 
The plan for the capital city has huge potential for infrastructure, civil engineering and construction activity.
 
It is possible that the dredged material from the ports on the east coast could be easily used at Amaravati. Depending upon properties of dredge material, it could be used for brick-making. Initially, some trials may be required for this purpose, but once it is found to be useful, it would be the most sustainable process for development.
 
The dredged material could also be used for several other purposes such as landfill caps and covers, beach nourishment, top soil creation and enhancement, habitat creation or restoration, reclaiming of mined land and parks as well as in agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and horticulture.
 
If the dredged material is sold to the Amaravati Capital Project, it would generate a huge business. The capital project is planned to be developed in three stages and over 10 years. Financially, that would be highly beneficial to all dredging companies and also to Andhra government which could use the material for sustainable development.
 
There's a historical example of such sustainable development happening.
 
In the sixties of last century, laboratory experiments were conducted to find out whether fly ash waste from thermal plants could serve as a partial replacement for cement. After successful trials, researchers came to the conclusion that fly ash could be used in making concrete. At present, about one-third of fly ash replaces cement in making concrete.
 
There is no reason why dredging material cannot do what fly ash did for the construction industry.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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India's gold demand dropped 39% in Q1 2016: World Gold Council
The demand for gold in India for the January-March quarter of 2016 was at 116.5 tonnes, down by 39% as compared to the corresponding period of the previous year, the World Gold Council said on Thursday.
 
The overall demand for gold in India was 191.7 tonnes in the first quarter of 2015.
 
"The jewellers' strike following the re-introduction of an excise duty, which left even wedding shoppers affected, was one major reason impacting demand," said a statement by the World Gold Council, citing Managing Director-India Somasundaram PR.
 
"The sharp increase in the price of gold since the beginning of the year and an expectation of a cut in the customs duty on gold also led consumers to hold back on purchases. The regulation introduced ensuring permanent account number (PAN) details are disclosed for purchases above Rs2 lakh is also reported to have affected buying," he added.
 
Globally, gold demand reached 1,290 tonnes in the first quarter of 2016, a 21% increase compared to the same period last year, making it the second largest quarter on record, according to the World Gold Council's Gold Demand Trends report.
 
"This increase was driven by huge inflows into exchange-traded funds, fuelled by investor concerns regarding economic fragility and an uncertain financial landscape. Concurrently, global demand for jewellery was down 19%, as higher prices and industrial action in India and a softening of the economy in China meant many consumers delayed making purchases," the report said.
 
India's first quarter gold demand value was Rs.29,900 crore, a 36% decline from the Rs46,730 crore recorded in same quarter of 2015.
 
The total jewellery demand in India for the period was down by 41% at 88.4 tonnes as compared to 150.8 tonnes in first quarter in 2015.
 
The World Gold Council has forecast India's full year demand is in the range of 850 and 950 tonnes.
 
However, the World Gold Council is hopeful that the low demand in the first quarter has caused a pent-up demand for gold and coupled with this gold has outperformed all other asset classes since the beginning of the year.
 
"The promised rural thrust in budget spends, favourable monsoons and the jewellery trade back to work adapting to the new regulations are all favourable factors which will lead to demand returning to normal levels," Somasundaram added.
 
In value terms, gold investment demand for the first quarter was Rs7,198 crore, a drop of 27.8% from Rs9,969 crore in the corresponding quarter in 2015, the report added.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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