Stock, forex markets closed

Mumbai: The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the National Stock Exchange (NSE), forex, money as well as oils & oilseeds markets will remain closed today, 10th November, on account of 'Gurunanak Jayanti'.

Other markets including bullion will, however, remain open.


IRDA wants insurers to disclose pension benefits upfront

While issuing guidelines for pension products, IRDA said, “All pension products shall have explicitly defined assured benefit that is applicable on death, on surrender and on vesting, which is disclosed at the time of sale”

New Delhi: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) on Wednesday asked all insurers selling pension products to disclose in the policy document maturity benefits, a move that will make it easier for individuals to opt for the best policy as per their needs, reports PTI.

While issuing guidelines for pension products, IRDA said, “All pension products shall have explicitly defined assured benefit that is applicable on death, on surrender and on vesting, which is disclosed at the time of sale.”

The new guidelines by IRDA will come into force from 1 December 2011. Existing pension products, which do not comply with the guidelines, will have to be withdrawn from 1 January 2012, it said.

The guidelines do away with the earlier requirement of providing a minimum guaranteed return of 4.5% on all pension products that did not find favour with life insurers.

The insurers at the time of sale of policies would have to make an illustration of the returns which it is expected to provide, in the range of 4%-8%, to the policyholders.

“The need for greater security of the pensioner’s fund and the stability and financial viability of the insurance companies need to be balanced for healthy growth of the sector,” IRDA said.

In September 2010, IRDA introduced guidelines for pension products which mandated returns on such products to be linked to the reverse repo rate and the minimum guaranteed return was fixed at 4.5%.

The guidelines did not find favour with insurers, who argued that they would be forced to invest only in debt instruments. Following this, there was a decline in the sale of pension products as private insurers did not come out with any regular premium unit-linked pension products.


Environment ministry gives nod to Lavasa hill city project

The Union environment ministry granted clearance to the first phase of the Lavasa project, subject to “strict compliance” of certain terms and conditions

New Delhi: Lavasa’s multi-crore hill city project near Pune yesterday overcame the green hurdle with Union environment ministry granting clearance for its first phase subject to “strict compliance” of certain terms and conditions, reports PTI.

“The ministry, hereby, accords environmental clearance for the project as per provisions of Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 and its subsequent amendments, subject to strict compliance of terms and conditions,” a government order said.

The ministry’s decision came after the Maharashtra government filed a case against the promoters of Lavasa Hill City for alleged violations of the Environment Protection Act (EPA).

Filing of the case under the EPA was one of the key pre-conditions of the environment ministry for granting clearance to the first phase of the project.

“We have now got environment clearance from the ministry of environment and forests and the stakeholders will be happy to hear this," a relieved Ajit Gulabchand, chairman, Lavasa Corporation, told PTI.

He said the decision would also reassure hundreds of villagers and workers engaged in the construction of the hill city project.

The ministry had laid down five pre-conditions, as suggested by the Expert Appraisal Committee, for Lavasa to comply with before grant of environment clearance.

These conditions include demarcation of land usage which includes open spaces, diverting 5% of its expenses for corporate social responsibility, creation of an environment restoration fund, which in turn will be monitored by a verification and monitoring committee and a submission by the company that violations would not be repeated.

The ministry has set out a list of 47 conditions for Lavasa, to be followed in letter and spirit, which includes earmarking five per cent of the total project cost for CSR initiatives.

These also include having a separate budget for community development activities and income generating programmes over and above the vocational training for individuals to take up self-employment and jobs.

The ministry also asked Lavasa to submit its environment- related policy and plan of action to it within three months and abide by the written undertaking given to the government.

The project developers have been asked to make a clear demarcation of ‘no development and construction zones’.

The developers have been directed to avoid carrying out hill cutting, digging, excavation or any other activity involving generation of soil “as far as possible”.

“There shall be no discharge of any kind of effluents from any facilities, including the treated waste water, from the sewage treatment plant/effluent treatment plant. The entire treated waste water from STP/ETP shall be recycled,” the order said.

The ministry has set eight conditions for the operational phase of the project which include using solar power to illuminate common areas, lighting for gardens and streets in addition to provision for solar water heating.

“Six monthly monitoring reports shall be submitted to the ministry and its regional office at Bhopal,” the order said.

“We are committed to developing Lavasa as an economic, social and environmentally sustainable city and we will work closely with MoEF and Maharashtra government for a sustainable development within a pre-agreed framework, while creating replicable benchmarks,” a Lavasa statement said.


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