SC clears way for HUDA projects in Panchkula

Ireo Fiveriver, Panchkula

Ireo Fiveriver, Panchkula

The construction in the Pinjore-Kalka Urban Complex project, in 673 acres of land in Panchkula district of Haryana, can finally resume as the Supreme Court has dismissed the legal challenges to the land acquisition in the area. The land in question had been given to a number of real estate giants, including IREO and DLF, for developing residential projects of Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA). With this order, the court also lifted the eight-month old stay on the construction.

“In the result, the special leave petitions (SLPs) are dismissed. The interim orders stand automatically vacated. As a sequel to dismissal of the SLPs, all pending interlocutory applications are disposed of as infructuous,” said a Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya.

The Bench also said it will not go into the issue of legality of the land acquisition as the only argument made before the Punjab and Haryana High Court was related to the competence of the district revenue officer (DRO) to perform functions of a collector and no other issue was considered and decided by the high court.

The plea by a group of landowners and villagers had opposed a 2008 declaration of the state government, notifying acquisition of 809 acres of land in villages Bhogpur, Nangal Sodia, Islam Nagar, Bhagwan Pur and Mirapur Bakshiwala of Panchkula district.

Read more: Indian Express

Economy

Creative leaders needed for developed India beyond 2020: A P J Abdul Kalam

Creative leaders with vision will be among key drivers for evolution of a sustainable development model that can lead to an economically developed, happy and peaceful India beyond 2020, according to former President A P J Abdul Kalam.

“A creative leader is one who has a vision, a passion to transform that vision into action.

A P J Abdul Kalam

He or she should be able to travel the unexplored path, know how to manage success and failure, have courage to take decisions, have nobility in management and every action of the leaders should be transparent.

“A crucial aspect of leadership in the 21st century is that a leader should work with integrity,” said he.

Kalam was delivering the annual Penguin lecture–“Beyond 2020: Sustained Development Missions For the Nation”–here late last evening during which he outlined his beliefs on the the need for sustainable development of nations and visualised India as an economically developed nation by the year 2020.

The former President detailed that the sustainable development profile of the nation primarily depended on three things, first of which was “a steady economic growth of 9 per cent with minimum variations of 1.5 to 2 per cent.”

“Secondly, the job profile of the future is a function of technological nature of business and market operations for sustainaiblity that provides continuous income and growth assurance in such a situation,” said Kalam.

Read more: Indian Express

US supports strengthening of ties between India, ASEAN

Ahead of the India-ASEAN commemorative summit, the US has said that it is looking forward to see India and ASEAN signing a free trade agreement on services and investment.

The US also welcomed the steps taken to strengthen India’s ties with the region.

“They (India and ASEAN) have said that later this week they expect to enact a free trade agreement on services and investment, which would be something we would very much welcome,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference.

The United States is looking forward to such an agreement, she said.

“Obviously, we value increased cooperation between India and ASEAN across the board politically, economically, and in security terms,” Nuland said.

India has concluded discussions on a free trade agreement (FTA) in services and investment with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and a formal announcement is to be made during the summit on December 20-21.

See Article: Business Line

Policy

Realty industry body CREDAI terms RBI policy stand as ‘stubborn’

The real estate industry body CREDAI today said the Reserve Bank has been taking “stubborn” stand in not reducing the key interest rates and reiterated that funds should be made available to builders and home buyers at affordable rates.

“It is sad and unfortunate to see RBI taking such a stubborn stand, despite economic realities of the day,” CREDAI national president Lalit Kumar Jain said in a statement.

RBI today left the short-term lending (repo) rate to banks, and the cash reserve ratio ( CRR) — the amount of deposits banks have to park with RBI– unchanged.

CREDAI termed the status quo in RBI’s monetary policy review as “arbitrary” and “anti-growth” and sought that the stakeholders should be consulted before taking policy decisions.

“We wonder if the RBI policy of causing liquidity crunch leading to short supply and resultant price rise is good for the economy or increasing liquidity and pushing supply to bring prices under control is better,” Jain observed.

Read more: The Economic Times

Govt looks to increase loan amount to low-income group

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation aims to target around a million households through the Rajiv Rin Yojana (RRY), which provides subsidised loans to people from economically weaker sections for buying houses.

Under the revised terms , a household from the economically weaker section (EWS) will be provided a loan of up to Rs 3,00,000 for buying a house with a five per cent interest subsidy a year and a repayment period of up to 20 years.

Under the same scheme, households in the low-income group (LIG) category will get loans up to Rs 5,00,000 and with the same terms.

“We have floated a Cabinet note on increasing the loan amount in the EWS and LIG category, which is under inter-ministerial consultation now. We have said it that we expect around a million people to benefit from the scheme. That is our target but it will depend on the funds we get from the government in the Budget,” said a senior housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry official, adding that the implementation will also depend on the willingness of banks to lend.

At present, loan limit in the EWS category is Rs 1,00,000 and in the LIG category is Rs 1,80,000.

Read more: Indian Express

New Companies Bill makes 2% spend on social causes a must

Companies will have to necessarily spend two per cent of their average net profits in previous three preceding financial years towards corporate social responsibility (CSR).

The Government on Tuesday moved amendments to the Companies Bill 2011 to make CSR spend mandatory for most profit-making companies.

Also, companies will have to give preference to local area and areas around which they operate for spending the amount earmarked for CSR activities, according to an amendment moved by the Government.

The Bill in the original form had provided that CSR spend would be optional, but specified that companies should make every endeavour to undertake such expenditure.

The Companies Bill 2011 was passed by the Lok Sabha through voice vote on Tuesday night after a marathon sitting that lasted nearly four hours.

Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot moved 122 amendments to the original Bill.

The CSR spend would be mandatory for companies that have a net worth of Rs 500 crore or more, or turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or more or a net profit of Rs 5 crore or more in a financial year.

India has been looking to enact a new company law for over a decade now.

The proposed legislation will replace the existing Companies Act 1956.

The Bill also seeks to make independent directors more accountable and brought in certain steps to improve corporate governance practices

Replying to the discussions on the Bill, Pilot said that companies should not see the CSR spend requirement as a return of the “inspector raj”.

Read more: Business Line

Info-Tech

Internet to contribute up to 3.3% to GDP by 2015

Internet services and devices industry has potential to increase its contribution to up to 3.3 per cent to India’s gross domestic product by 2015, a report by McKinsey & Company said today.

“The Internet currently contributes a modest 1.6 per cent to India’s GDP in line with most aspiring countries. This could grow to 2.8-3.3 per cent by 2015, if India achieves its potential for growth in the number of Internet users and Internet technology related consumption and investment over this period,” it said.

This would increase Internet’s contribution to GDP from $30 billion now to nearly $100 billion in 2015.

At present, India’s information and communication technology (ICT) exports are the most significant component of the Internet’s impact on GDP but private consumption and investment from private and public sector have greater potential to grow in the future, the report said.

India with a user base of 120 million is the world’s third largest Internet market and is poised to have up to 370 million users in 2015.

China has the largest Internet user base in the world with 480 million users followed by the US with 245 million users as of 2011. By 2015 China is expected to have 583 million users, while the US is expected to have 279 million users.

Read more: Business Line

FDI

Realty JV only if local firm holds 25%

Foreign investors in Indian construction and housing projects will now have to give at least 25% stake to Indian partners if they have to be treated as joint ventures and claim the benefit of a low capital infusion norm of $5 million.

The department of economic affairs (DEA) has made this condition mandatory for foreign investment in these projects to prevent wholly-owned subsidiaries of international firms from acting as “joint venture entities” despite shareholding by Indian partner/s being minimal.

Under the existing FDI policy, 100% foreign investment is allowed in “construction development” projects that includes construction of townships and housing infrastructure. But FDI in “real estate companies” is barred. While the minimum capitalisation norm of $ 10 million is applicable for wholly-owned subsidiaries, only $ 5 million capital needs to be brought in for joint venture with Indian partners in the projects specified above.

Sources said the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), the nodal government agency for finalising the sectoral FDI policy, would soon come out with a press note on the matter after consulting the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation and the ministry of urban development.

With this move, the Centre has brought clarity in the definition of joint venture operations in the housing sector. Several government agencies, including the Reserve Bank of India, had raised concerns over the ambiguity in provisions, saying it could be easily misused by investors.

Read more: Financial Express

Education

Firms pick up 60% IITians in first phase

Over 60% students from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay have already been picked up in the first phase of the placement season that ended on Tuesday. Around 230 companies came to the campus during the first phase. Though the institute is yet to compute the average data of offers made to the students, pupils claim that the average annual package has not crossed Rs 10 lakh.

Of the 1,350 students registered for the placements, around 850 received offers by the end of the phase According to the figures quoted by an official, the numbers of students placed after the first phase was slightly more than what it was last year. Avijit Chatterjee, professor in-charge of placements, said, “This year, there were no public sector companies visiting the campus. We plan to target 100 more companies in the second phase, which will start from January 7 till the rest of the academic year.” The second phase will be a continuous process.

In the first phase, Sriram Bhargav, a computer science and engineering student, reportedly bagged the highest annual pay package worth $1,50,000 for placement in Samsung US/Korea. Major companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Samsung US/Korea visited the campus on the first day of the placements. Indian companies like L&T, Tatas, Reliance and Directi were also seen hiring from the premier institute. This year, Twitter and LinkedIn made their debut at the Powai campus. Several companies gave stock options to students if they stay for two years.

Read more: The Times of India

Online hiring activity grew 10% in Nov: Monster Index

Despite a month-on-month decline, online hiring activity in India registered a 10 per cent rise during November from the year ago period, signalling the ongoing confidence by Indian businesses in the economy, says a survey.

The Monster.com’s employment index, a monthly gauge of the country’s online job demand, rose by 12 points (up 10 per cent) to 129 in November this year from 117 in the same period a year ago.

“The Monster Employment Index India is carrying slightly less upward momentum than in October, but double digit gains on the year signal ongoing confidence by Indian businesses in the current economy,” Monster.com (India/ Middle-East/ South East Asia) Managing Director Sanjay Modi said.

On a month-to-month basis however, the index witnessed a decline after two consecutive months of improvement in online hiring activity as the month of November saw a fall of six points from 136 points in October.

A sectoral analysis showed that 16 of the 27 industry sectors monitored by the Monster Employment Index registered expansion in online recruitment activity between November 2011 and the same month this year.

“Sectors such as Engineering, Construction, Education, Auto, Healthcare have shown positive annual growth,” Modi added.

Read more: Business Line

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