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SJM up in arms against sale of Air India, BSNL, BPCL

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New Delhi: Coming out in strong opposition to the PSU disinvestment programme of the Modi government for companies like Air India, BSNL and BPCL, RSS affiliate, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has slammed the move, saying that “strategic sales can be misused by corrupt officials to benefit special business houses”.

The SJM’s national committee has passed a resolution opposing the strategic sale of these PSUs.

“India should not sell its national assets to multinationals. The present plan of disinvestment is the result of conspiracies of some consultants, bureaucrats affected by some business houses,” it said.

The SJM has demanded that the NITI Aayog’s report on public sector enterprises should be rejected, and stressed the “need to examine the evaluation of PSEs keeping in mind the idea of doubling GDP in the next five years and accelerating it in the respective years”.

“This report is the work of vested interests of some advisors, they should be kept away from this work. The new report should be created with a new set of people who are not only free from prior assumptions, but have open views to consider Indian needs,” the resolution said.

The SJM also expressed the view that that doing business is not the business of the government, but in the name of disinvestment, “we oppose the scheme of handing over national assets to multinational corporations and corporate houses”.

On the sale of BPCL, SJM said that Saudi Aramco is eyeing its assets after India announced divestment of the oil marketing company.

“This is not only unacceptable but also dangerous. Property created with national sentiments and hard work should not be held in the possession of foreign oil companies. The purchase of BPCL will only be a number for them to increase their wealth. Strategic sales are becoming strategic purchases for multinationals,” the RSS affiliate said, strongly condemning the government policy.

The resolution emphasised that there are many PSUs like Air India, and BSNL which are necessary for the strategic needs of the country. These PSUs can be improved again and efforts need to be made to accomplish this, it urged.

The SJM, which claimed its pushback as a reason for the government backtracking on the RCEP trade deal, said that there is a need for a large public deliberation and debate on the ways and timing of selling government equity.

It said the government should not fall into the Washington consensus trap and look for long-term solutions rather than selling equity to some corporate houses or multinationals.

SJM said that calling Air India a bad asset “is indeed painful and unfair”. A developing country like India needs a national carrier keeping in mind the strategic and market balancing requirements, it added.

Similarly, the RSS affiliate said the strategic sales of the Shipping Corporation of India and the Container Corporation of India are also not prudent business decisions. Both these enterprises are not only in a much better shape, but are also necessary to implement the government’s plan to further accelerate logistics for Indian industries, it said.

Attacking the Modi government policy on divestment, the SJM said collecting money by selling ownership and giving up future lifetime earnings will not be a wise business decision, especially when the government is saying that their tax collection is not meeting the target.

The resolution pointed out that a recent statement by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman indicated that the government is going to mop up Rs 1 lakh crore by selling its equity in five PSUs. The government has already prepared another 28 PSUs, their subsidiaries and joint ventures for disinvestment.

The list includes the strategically important Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd (HAL), Pawan Hans, and the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC).


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No decision to discontinue printing Rs 2,000 notes: Govt

Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL) has informed that printing of bank notes at their presses was also affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

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Rs 2000 Notes

New Delhi, Sep 19 : Although printing of Rs 2,000 denomination notes has been significantly lowered, the Centre has not decided to discontinue the high denomination notes.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on Saturday, Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur said that printing of bank notes of particular denomination is decided by the government in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to maintain desired denomination mix for facilitating transactional demand of public.

“During the year 2019-20 and 2020-21, no indent has been placed with the presses for printing of Rs. 2000 denomination notes. However, there is no decision to discontinue the printing of Rs. 2,000 denomination bank notes by the Government,” he said.

A total of 273.98 crore notes of the denomination of Rs 2,000, were in circulation as of March 31, 2020, compared to 329.10 crorenotes in March 31, 2019.

On a question regarding the impact of the pandemic on the currency printing process of various denomination notes, Thakur said that according to RBI in view of nation-wide lockdown printing of notes stopped temporarily.

However, the note printing presses resumed production in a phased manner, as per the guidelines issued by Central and state governments.

The production activities at Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Private Limited (BRBNMPL) presses were suspended from March 23, 2020 to May 3. Printing of bank notes at BRBNMPL presses resumed from May 4, 2020.

Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL) has informed that printing of bank notes at their presses was also affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

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Centre to buy aircraft worth Rs 250 cr for weather forecast

It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. Through this nodal agency, the people will get information about the weather.

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New Delhi, Sep 19 : The government is planning to use more hi-tech methods for accurate weather forecast. Union Minister Harsh Vardhan said there is a plan to purchase an aircraft at a cost of Rs 250 crore, which will help in accurate weather prediction in different parts of the country.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences, Ministry of Aeronautics and Technology is planning to purchase this aircraft. The information was given by Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Dr. Harsh Vardhan in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha on Friday.

On Friday, an MP in the Lok Sabha had asked whether the government is considering a proposal to buy a special aircraft for conducting experiments related to the weather forecast.

Answering this question, Harsh Vardhan said that his Ministry is considering purchasing a special research aircraft for atmospheric process studies in the country. Equipped with scientific equipment, the cost of this aircraft system can be Rs 250 crore.

Harsh Vardhan said the aircraft is likely to be used to solve various atmospheric research problems in weather, atmosphere in different parts of the country. This will help with meteorological cloud physics data.

The minister said that apart from this, it can also be helpful in the evaluation of air pollution assessment and studies related to health, need, climate environment and hydrology.

He said that Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) Pune will work as the nodal agency for this entire scheme.

It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. Through this nodal agency, the people will get information about the weather.

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BS-IV vehicles needed for public utility services & purchased up to March 31 be registered: SC

The issue of pollution from vehicles had cropped up before the apex court which is hearing a matter related to air pollution in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR).

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New Delhi, Sep 18 : The Supreme Court Friday said BS-IV vehicles, which were purchased on or before March 31 this year and are necessary for municipal corporation in Delhi to carry out essential public utility services, should be registered.

The apex court had in October 2018 said that no BS-IV compliant vehicle would be sold or registered in India from April 1, 2020.

In 2016, the Centre had also announced that India would skip the BS-V norms and adopt BS-VI by 2020.

BS emission norms are standards instituted by the government to regulate output of air pollutants from motor vehicles.

The matter came up for hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde which dealt with applications related to registration of three types of vehicles — CNG , BS-IV and BS-VI compliant — for being used for essential public utility services.

“Insofar as CNG vehicles are concerned, there cannot be any valid rejection to the vehicles, as the emission from these vehicles is within the limits. Therefore, we direct that these vehicles may be registered,” said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

It noted that BS-VI norms came into force on April 1, 2020 and vehicles purchased up to March 31 this year were BS-IV compliant.

“Admittedly the emission from BS-VI compliant vehicles is within the norms and hence the vehicles purchased on or after April 1, 2020 and which are BS-VI compliant, should also liable to be registered,” it said.

The top court noted in its order that BS-IV compliant vehicles purchased up to March 31 this year must have been registered with the E-Vahan portal of the government before the cut-off date to establish the date of purchase.

“If the purchase had been made on or before March 31, 2020 and these vehicles are BS-IV compliant, such vehicles necessary for the municipal corporation to carry essential public utility services should also be registered. But such cases shall be scrutinized by the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA),” the bench said.

The bench said to avoid repeated applications being filed before the court just for the purpose of getting registration, “we direct that the EPCA shall scrutiny the pending cases and submit a report to this court so that a common order could be passed without the necessity for several interlocutory applications.”

The issue of pollution from vehicles had cropped up before the apex court which is hearing a matter related to air pollution in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR).

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