SC notice to Centre to reveal content of Radia tapes

New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) today sought the Centre's response on a plea for disclosure of the entire contents of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia's conversation with politicians, journalists and corporate tycoons, which were tapped by government authorities, reports PTI.

A bench of justices GS Singhvi and SS Nijjar issued notice to the Centre and adjourned the matter for further hearing on 2nd February.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by civil society, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, seeking disclosure of the entire 5,800 conversations Ms Radia had with different people, including ministers, journalists and corporate honchos, saying that it was in public interest to disclose the contents as it might reveal corruption in different government departments.

The government had taped Ms Radia's telephonic conversation on a complaint to the finance ministry that she had been allegedly indulging in anti-national activities.

The petitioner also pleaded that disclosure of the contents of Ms Radia tapes would be in immense public interest as it might expose the vicious cycle of corruption involving various stakeholders, including politicians, bureaucrats, corporate and business houses and even scribes.

The petitioner asserted that bringing Ms Radia's tapes to the public domain might expose corruption in high places.

In the course of tapping Ms Radia's conversation, the government had also recorded her conversation with industrialist Ratan Tata, who too has moved court seeking its direction to the government to probe leakage of the part of the Radia tapes containing his conversation.

Mr Tata had move the court against leakage of his conversation with Ms Radia, saying that it violated his right to privacy, linked to his Fundamental Right of Life with dignity.

"Petitioner (Mr Tata) is seriously concerned about the lackadaisical attitude of the government on standing by and allowing purloined material of this kind to be freely distributed and published without taking any step to retrieve it or to find out the source of leakage," Mr Tata had said in his affidavit to the apex court, filed in response to the government's reply to his plea for probing the leakage of his talks with Ms Radia.

He had said failure to protect his tapped conversations from being leaked and letting it reach outsiders "was not a matter of many great moments in law".

Mr Tata pointed out that the Centre's affidavit to the apex court "gives the impression that it is the perception of the government that while protecting such wiretap material is required by the rules, the failure to safeguard such material leaking out and reaching the hands of outsiders does not warrant any step on the part of the government to retrieve it" or to probe as to how the leak occurred.

Mr Tata has also expressed reservations over the growing practise of intercepting telephonic conversation of individuals to probe cases involving violation of tax laws while the provision was originally used only to investigate serious offences involving the security of the state.

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ICICI Bank Q3 net up 77.5% to Rs2,039 crore

Mumbai: Private sector lender ICICI Bank today reported a 77.5% jump in consolidated net profit to Rs2,039 crore for the quarter ended December 30, 2010 compared to Rs1,149 crore for the same quarter last fiscal, reports PTI quoting ICICI Bank's filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

Total income of the bank on a consolidated basis increased to Rs15,415.8 crore during the quarter, against Rs14,176.8 crore in the same quarter last fiscal, it said.

On a standalone basis, the bank's net profit for the third quarter stood at Rs1,437.02 crore from Rs1,101.06 crore in the year-ago period, a growth of 30.51%. Total income on a standalone basis was Rs8,444.75 crore, u p from Rs7,762.71 crore earlier.

Shares of ICICI Bank were trading at Rs1,085 apiece on the BSE today, up 1.80% from the previous close.

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India to have its first coal-fired AUSC plant by 2017

Kalpakkam (TN): India's first 800MW coal-fired Advanced Ultra Supercritical (AUSC) power plant will be operational by 2017 which will help reduce operational costs and emit less carbon dioxide than existing similar units, reports PTI.

The AUSC will have 5% more efficiency than the existing thermal plants and help in 12% savings in coal thus reducing the overall amount of carbon dioxide emission, Dr SC Chetal, director, Reactor Engineering Group of IGCAR and a distinguished scientist told PTI.

A joint effort of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), the Advanced Ultra Supercritical power plant will be the first such indigenous plant, he said.

BHEL is a state-owned engineering and manufacturing enterprise while NTPC is a state-owned power generating company.

"At present there is no AUSC plant operating in the world and we will back the first indigenous AUSC with strong research and development (R&D) with IGCAR's expertise in design, materials and manufacturing technologies of the fast breeder reactor," Mr Chetal said.

Presentation of the project has already been made to prime minister Manmohan Singh and "we are waiting for the approval for R&D funds which is expected to come soon," he said.

Of the total cost of Rs7,000 crore of the project, Rs2,500 crore will be spent on research and development and public sector units, sources said.

IGCAR, BHEL and NTPC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for AUSC system in August last year.

The advanced ultra super-critical boilers, to be designed and developed by IGCAR, will be able to operate at a pressure of 300 kg per sq cm and 700 degree centigrade temperature, Mr Chetal said.

This kind of very high temperature and pressure will improve the steam cycle efficiency, which in turn means that for a given electrical output there will be less consumption of fuel (coal) and less release of carbon dioxide, he said.

After developing this technology, India will be one of the leaders in the world in terms of thermal power plant technologies, the scientist said.

"Once we are able to built and operate the AUSC, it is possible to decrease the cost of the coal-fired supercritical thermal plants in the country," he said.

The existing supercritical plants use imported technology. A large number of operating plants in the country (BHEL-NTPC) are of subcritical type running at 170 kg per sq cm pressure and 540 degree celsius.

Recently, India has introduced supercritical thermal plants-of 660MW and 800MW running at 565 degree Celsius in the mainstream line and with a supercritical pressure of 250 kg per sq cm.

India is planning to have 58 units based on supercritical plants from the 12th Five Year Plan onwards. But these plants are being built under foreign collaboration with large import content.

"Therefore, taking the step of building one AUSC plant and establishing in the country, it will be possible to reduce the foreign import content and thus reduce the cost of the plants," Mr Chetal said.

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