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Delhi Ring Railway to soon see steam-hauled service to attract tourists

Two options are being considered: A round trip or a hop-on-hop-off ticket.

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Steam locomotives will be chugging along on all hill railways across the country — besides charting out a new course on the Delhi Ring Railway — as the Railways pushes the idea of reviving the glory of its steam heritage.

With the successful operation of a steam-hauled train on the Palanpur-Jogindernagar section of Kangra Valley Railway, all five hill railways now have steam loco services to attract tourists.

Kangra Valley Railway, which is on the tentative list of Unesco’s World Heritage Sites, witnessed the revived steam loco operation recently after more than 20 years. The regular steam loco operation is expected to boost tourism in Himachal Pradesh.

While Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and Nilgiri Mountain Railway have regular steam locos services, the Kalka-Shimla Railway and Matheran Hill Railway are equipped to conduct chartered services on tourist demand.

But the big thrust will be seen in the capital’s long-neglected — and once-popular — Ring Railway, that has fallen by the wayside as the city expanded rapidly.

“It is a big revival of steam locomotives in Indian Railways, and our aim is to have regular steam loco operations in all hill railways — and also in the long-awaited Delhi Ring Railway route,” said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with rail heritage.

With the advent of diesel and electric locomotives, steam engines were phased out in 1995 by the Railways.

Ring Rail Delhi

Though there was a move to run a steam locomotive on the Delhi Ring Railway during the Commonwealth Games in 2010, this did not materialise for various reasons.

However, the state-run transporter is now actively working on reviving the service to showcase its heritage, bring back the romance of steam engines and promote tourism. The task has been assigned to Northern Railway.

The existing 34 km-long ring railway, which runs parallel to the Ring Road, passes through several prominent places of Delhi like Chanakyapuri, Safdarjung and Sarojini Nagar and is expected to attract large numbers of tourists and rail enthusiasts interested in steam locos.

As per the plan, the train, comprising four heritage coaches with a steam locomotive, would start from Safdarjung station and travel to Anand Vihar, Old Yamuna Bridge, Old Delhi, New Delhi and Nizamuddin station before returning to Safdarjung.

Delhi Ring Rail

Tourists will be able to visit the Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, National Rail Museum, the historic Old Yamuna Bridge, Humayun’s tomb and rail buildings such as Old Delhi station, Kashmere Gate and Baroda House by using the service.

“The landscape along the proposed route will be beautified, besides other necessary arrangements to make it operational. The fare structure and timings are yet to be decided,” the official said.

“Two options are being considered: A round trip or a hop-on-hop-off ticket,” the official added.

At present, there are very few steam locos across the world that are still in working condition.

By : Arun Kumar Das

(Arun Kumar Das is a senior Delhi-based freelance journalist. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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Who is Murari Lal Jalan, the ‘mysterious’ buyer of Jet Airways?

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Jet Airways

New Delhi: The consortium of Kalrock Capital and Murari Lal Jalan won the bid to revive Jet Airways but not much is known about how Jalan made his riches and how he plans to revive the airline.

According to a report in Marketfeed: “According to many in the business world, Murari Lal Jalan is a very mysterious man. There is not much information about how he was able to create all his wealth.”

“He has always kept a very low profile, and is not popular among the business communities in India or abroad. Totally inexperienced in the field, he has confused a lot of people as to how he was able to enter into the airline industry,” it said.

In the 1980s, Jalan started working at his family’s paper trading business in Kolkata. He also worked as a trader for JK Paper and Ballarpur Industries, which were once big paper manufacturing companies.

In 2003, he wanted to expand his paper business, and acquired Kolkata-based Kanoi Paper and Industries. He renamed it Agio Paper, and it currently has a manufacturing facility in Bilaspur (Chattisgarh).

However, in 2010, the paper company faced a lawsuit from government agencies, for pollution-related issues, and its production activities have been suspended since then, as per the report. “So almost his whole career, his focus was on the paper industry and even that did not end well either,” it said.

Jalan then began plans to enter the real estate and healthcare sector.

“In 2015, he approached Dr. Naresh Trehan and Associates Health Services. He went on to acquire a stake in the company for Rs 75 crore, through a secondary share sale transaction. A secondary sale means that Jalan bought-out the shares from an existing stockholder. Around the same time as the acquisition, Dr. Trehan’s Medanta Hospital had plans to establish a hospital in Dubai, with the help of Jalan. Unfortunately, this plan was not implemented,” Marketfeed reported.

Once Jalan moved his base to the UAE, he quickly expanded to sectors such as real estate, mining, fast-moving consumer goods, and construction. He was chairman of the Agio Image group, which sold and distributed photographic and consumer products of well-known companies such as Sony, Panasonic, and Konica.

He also established a real estate development company, MJ Developers. The firm has its headquarters in Dubai, but its main businesses span over countries such as Russia, Brazil, and India. MJ Developers is currently engaged in developing residential and commercial properties in Uzbekistan.

Jalan had partnered with his own family relatives to set up Patanjali India Distribution Ltd. The report says that documents from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs state that this company would be involved in trading, export, distribution, and marketing of milk products and health foods. The list of products also included herbal medicines and ayurvedic cosmetic items.

“Regardless of these claims, the company never opened, and the founders never looked back on it. We do know that Patanjali Ayurved is owned by the yoga guru, Baba Ramdev. However, it is not clear whether the two companies are linked in some way,” the report said.

Some may question as to why there was a sudden need for Jalan to enter into the airline field. Many have suspicions whether this deal would really help the airline to bring back its former glory, the report said.

Jalan, however, said: “Jet Airways is a renowned Indian aviation company with a strong legacy. The aviation sector underwent substantial correction on account of Covid-19 and created an opportune time to enter the sector. Our vision for Jet Airways is to operate the carrier as a full-service airline, both domestic and international.”

But, as per the report: “The point to be noted here is that Jalan has no expertise in this particular sector. However, the management team of Kalrock does have the essential experience from cargo and logistics management through past deals.”

“But now, a major doubt remains to be answered – how was Jalan able to create all this wealth and expand his business to such a large magnitude? We have seen that his initial business in the paper manufacturing industry had failed. Also, when Jalan moved to the UAE, he was not able to contribute effectively towards the implementation of projects in the healthcare sector. He created a company in India that was never launched. Moreover, the fact that most business people don’t know about him, makes everything all the more suspicious. All these facts make us feel very unsure and doubtful about his new deal with Jet Airways,” it said.

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Will work with JPC to set record straight on data privacy: Amazon

Google and Paytm too have been asked to appear before the committee on October 29.

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Jeff Bezos Amazon CEO

New Delhi: Amazon, which has refused to appear before a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) next week, said on Friday that its position on the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 has been “misconstrued” and the e-commerce giant would work with “the JPC to set the record straight”.

The online retail giant is scheduled to appear before the committee on October 28.

In a statement shared with IANS, an Amazon spokesperson said that they have the utmost respect and regard for the important work being done by the JPC on the PDP Bill.

“We have already offered our written submissions for consideration of this august committee. We will continue to engage in any way the JPC considers fit,” the spokesperson said.

“The inability of our experts to travel from overseas due to travel restrictions and depose before the JPC during the ongoing pandemic may have been misconstrued and led to a misunderstanding,” the spokesperson added.

Sources suggest that the committee, which has 20 members from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha, is of the unanimous opinion that if Amazon representatives indeed fail to show up on October 28, “appropriate actions” can be initiated against the US business giant.

However, there is no clarity so far, as far as the nature of “appropriate actions” is concerned.

Apart from Amazon, companies such as Twitter and Facebook have also been summoned.

Google and Paytm too have been asked to appear before the committee on October 29.

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Urgent need to rationalise weights under retail inflation: Report

“Clearly, the inflation numbers based on a broken CPI methodology hides more things than it reveals and RBI will be constrained in its policy decisions, an irony in itself!”

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Inflation

New Delhi, Oct 23 : There is an urgent need to rationalise the weights under retail inflation, a SBI Ecowrap report said on Friday.

According to the report, inflation numbers based on a broken CPI methodology hides more things than it reveals.

Consequently, the headline inflation constrains the RBI in its policy decisions.

“With the recent changes in CPI (IW), we again raise questions on the validity of continuing with existing weights in Headline CPI,” the report said.

The weighting pattern of food items in CPI, at 45.86 per cent, is based on 2011-12 Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES).

This is significantly different from the share of food and beverages (30 per cent) in the ‘Private Final Consumption Expenditure’ published by the National Account Statistics (NAS).

“Against such a backdrop, we again reiterate there is urgent need to rationalise the weights under CPI,” the report said.

“If we provisionally calculate the new CPI by looking at revised weights of CPI (IW) with 2016 as the base and logically assuming the same trend in CPI, we find that the weights of food in CPI could decline by at least as much as 6 per cent, thus shaving of 50 basis points from current headline CPI at 7.34 per cent.”

Such rebasing of CPI, the report pointed out, also finds mention in MPC minutes.

“However, the weights of services could jump by at least 7 per cent through the postulated increase in service consumption pushing up the weighted contribution of miscellaneous inflation by 42 basis points,” the Ecowrap said.

“Thus, the overall impact will depend on the strength of food and services, though the bottomline is the revised hypothetical CPI is more representative of demand pressures as weights of services and food could be almost in equal proportion.”

However, the report cited that CPI is drawn from “CES and such survey is still pending since 2017”.

“Adding to woes, the Oct’ 20 CPI inflation will be more than 7 per cent due to unexpected rains in major part of the country,” it said.

“Clearly, the inflation numbers based on a broken CPI methodology hides more things than it reveals and RBI will be constrained in its policy decisions, an irony in itself!”

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