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DoT panel needs more data for deciding on AGR relief

Airtel has AGR dues of Rs 35,500 core, Tata Teleservices has said it has submitted Rs 2,197 crore as full and final amount against an AGR order of Rs 14, 829 crore. Airtel and VIL are yet to submit self-assessment numbers of AGR.

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New Delhi, Feb 28 : Digital Communications Commission (DCC), the interministerial panel of Telecom Ministry, on Friday did not take any decision on possible relief to the financially distressed telecom sector with officials saying more data are required for reconciliation of AGR numbers, dashing the hopes of telcos, especially Vodafone Idea.

The DCC meeting that lasted two hours will be held again in the coming days, sources said.

No decision has been taken on any relief to the telecom companies, sources said, adding, the department needs more data, and that there will be more meetings and reconciliation of AGR figures.

Secretaries in the Ministries of Finance (DEA), Commerce, and Electronics and IT, as well as CEO of NITI Aayog, are the members of DCC. Vodafone Idea, the worst hit telco with Rs 53,000 crore AGR dues, has told the government that it would not be able to pay the dues unless state support is extended to it to survive the crisis.

While the rationale behind giving any relief to the telcos is that government wants to avoid a duopoly situation in the event Vodafone Idea is forced to shut operations, it is also in a bind over implementation of the Supreme Court order which directs DoT to recover the dues.

DoT is examining the COAI and Vodafone Idea proposals and waiting for the self-assessment numbers of the telcos to come to it. Once the department has an idea how much the telcos’ calculations are and reconcile with its own demands, the picture will be a little clear about payment.

One option is upfront payment of the entire principal amount on licence fee and spectrum usage charges and 50% of the interest, penalty and interest on penalty. The rest could be paid over four years with interest.

The other option is once DoT gets the self-assessment figures of the telcos, it may ask them to pay that amount immediately and the gap between the DoT and telcos could be a staggered payment after reconciliation of both figures over 4 to 5 years, said sources.

Both the options seek some payment first then any relief to the telcos on the remaining amount payment.

Airtel has AGR dues of Rs 35,500 core, Tata Teleservices has said it has submitted Rs 2,197 crore as full and final amount against an AGR order of Rs 14, 829 crore. Airtel and VIL are yet to submit self-assessment numbers of AGR.

The government is also said to be considering, among others, setting up a stress fund for telcos to draw from and pay off AGR dues and repay on easy terms, besides deferment of licence fees and spectrum usage charge (SUC) for a substantial period to free up cash flows.

Airtel has paid Rs 10,000 crore and VIL has paid Rs 3,500 crore as AGR dues.

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Equity indices rise, Sensex up 700 points

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Mumbai, March 31 (The key Indian equity indices traded on a positive note on Tuesday with the BSE Sensex trading over 700 points higher.

The Sensex was above the 29,000 mark while Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was around the 8,500 level.

The gains were in tandem with the rise in Asian markets.

At 10 38 a.m., it was trading at 29,171.89, higher by 731.57 points or 2.57 per cent from the previous close of 28,440.32.

It had opened at 29,294.9 and has so far touched an intra-day high of 29,316.80 and a low of 28,667.36

The Nifty was trading at 8,509.15, higher by 228.05 points, 2.75 per cent.

Among the Sensex stocks, the top gainers so far were Infosys, ONGC, HCL Technologies, ITC and Tata Steel, while, IndusInd Bank, Bajaj Finance, Maruti Suzuki and Bharti Airtel were the only losers.

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Corona positive cases from Nizamuddin religious gathering spread across states, 6 dead in Telangana

More than 2,000 delegates, including from Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan, attended the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat – a Muslim religious organisation – from March 13 to 15.

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New Delhi, March 31 : A religious congregation of 2000 people at a mosque in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area which has thrown up several corona positive cases is a ticking time bomb as six of the persons who returned to Telangana have died from the virus and positive cases are emerging from at least five regions including J&K, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The Telangana Chief Minister’s Office said in a tweet, “Six people from Telangana who attended a religious congregation at Markaz in Nizamuddin area of New Delhi from March 13-15 succumbed after they contracted coronavirus. Two died in Gandhi Hospital while one each died in Apollo Hospital, Global Hospital, Nizamabad and Gadwal.”

The state has intensified its efforts to locate all those who returned from the event and the contact trail.

The suspected outbreak was discovered earlier today in Delhi as it emerged that several hid their travel history to foreign countries and a large congregation was held on March 13-5 at a markaz in Nizamuddin. The area was sealed today and hundreds of those present were whisked away to hospitals.

The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium which otherwise holds sporting events is being prepared for a possible large size quarantine centre in case there is a huge outbreak of the virus. Reports are emerging that COVID-19 cases linked to this gathering are being across the country in J&K, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar and Telangana.

As many as 1,400 people continued to stay at the Tabligh-e-Jamaat’s “Markaz” in Delhi’s Nizamuddin West even after the event.

The Telangana Chief Medical Officer confirmed that six people who attended this congregation have died in Telangana after testing positive for coronavirus. A cleric who was there had died after testing positive for coronavirus in Srinagar last week.

More than 2,000 delegates, including from Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan, attended the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat – a Muslim religious organisation – from March 13 to 15.

So now, after the congregation dispersed, those who had gathered have gone in different directions and six have died in Telangana.

This constitutes a mammoth health risk for those present and others who may have come in contact or are even now coming into contact through transit.

Sooner or later, it is feared this may be a form of community transmission as infected people move in different directions.

This is so symptomatic of the virus spread where even once infected person can pass it onto hundreds of others.

Jammu and Kashmir where many of these people returned is already on alert. The district administration in all ten districts have fanned out teams to trace those who might not have disclosed their travel history or contact history with Tabligi Jamaat.

Another worrying strand that has emerged is that the list of those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat event in Nizamuddin from Jammu & Kashmir is huge. Clearly, many of them are not in quarantine yet and the administration and police are making efforts to identity, trace and isolate.

It is learnt that the government has prepared a 50 page list of people from J&K who attended the congregation or came in contact with those. Efforts are being made to identify these people and isolate them.

District magistrates in different districts of Kashmir have issued a strong warning today evening to those who have entered the Valley after March 1 and have not so far revealed their travel history to the authorities.

The order issued today evening by the various district magistrates said all those who entered the Valley after March 1 with travel history abroad, outside the Valley or association with members of the Tabligi group are given the last chance to report to the authorities within two days failing which they could face imprisonment under the provisions of the disaster management act, 2005.

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Infosys Foundation commits Rs 100 crore to fight Covid-19

Half of the donation, Rs 50 crore has been committed to the PM Cares Fund.

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Bengaluru, March 30 : Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the software company, On Monday onated Rs 100 crore to fight Covid-19.

“These are unprecedented times that require every section of the society to rise up to the challenge,” said Sudha Murty, Chairperson, Infosys Foundation in a statement.

Half of the donation, Rs 50 crore has been committed to the PM Cares Fund.

The foundation has identified three broad areas to which the balance funds will be directed to: expanding hospitals capacity to treat Covid-19 patients, providing ventilators, test kits and personal protective equipment, and to ensure access to food and nutrition for the underprivileged.

“All our efforts will be targeted towards ensuring that the relief material reaches the people who need it the most, whether it is a patient who cannot afford treatment, our healthcare personnel, or daily-wage workers whose livelihood has been severely impacted,” Murty said.

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