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Vacant seats, more losses likely for Indian Railways this Diwali

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New Delhi, October 28: Indian Railways continue to face blues as seats in premium trains such as Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Express are reportedly going vacant, ahead of Diwali festival.

This could be a clear red signal of a looming threat of a further fall in railway revenues during the festival season including winter vacations, Christmas and New Year.

According to Dainik Bhaskar, as on 27 October, 72 seats were vacant in Rajdhani AC II Tier bound for Bilaspur. The figure is going to fall in the coming months as trains are expected to be facing at least 40 per cent more traffic during Diwali festival.

The Railways Ministry had introduced flexi surge pricing scheme as a “water test scheme” on September 9 on premium trains, ahead of festival season in the country so as to cap as much as Rs 1000 crore in a year.

Under the flexi surge pricing, the fare for premium trains go as high as 50 per cent. The fare hike is followed by every 10 percent sale of tickets. Thus during the festive rush, anyone who failed to book ticket in the past has available seats of premium trains to book at escalated price. The flexi fare was expected to add at least 200 crore in October month.

On the contrary, the revenue collection of Railways in the first half of October has declined by Rs 232 crore as compared to the revenues collected same time last year. In fact railways have experienced the lowest footfall this October.

The data reveals that railways collected only Rs 4,072 crore from October 1 to 10 this year which is Rs 232 crore lesser than the collection of 2015-16. Last year, railways collection was Rs 4,304 crore in the same period.

Another report claimed that Mumbai Rajdhani, August Kranti Rajdhani, Sealdah Rajdhani and Trivandrum Rajdhani have a large number of vacant seats for the coming festival season, including December and New Year. Normally these trains are jam packed, followed by a long waiting list.

A senior railway ministry official also admitted that occupancy in premium trains is certainly hit by 15 to 20 per cent after flexi fare scheme was introduced.

“The flexi fare scheme has backfired. Occupancy in trains has gone down substantially as passengers are getting flight tickets at cheaper rates. The railway ministry will review the scheme only after three months,” said the official.

Also Shatabdi trains to Amritsar, Lucknow and Kanpur have lower occupancy this year.

It is suspected that the airline companies are making out for this mega loss in Railways.

Clearly the central government has failed to run railways on track whether it is by scrapping railways budget and saving 10000 crore dividend or introducing flexi surge price scheme.

Wefornews Bureau

 

Business

India’s April industrial production output up 5%

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industrial production output

New Delhi, June 12: India’s industrial output rose by 4.9 per cent in April 2018 from a rise of 4.57 per cent in March, official data showed on Tuesday.

According to the data furnished by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the corresponding growth during April 2017 stood at 3.2 per cent.

“The General Index for the month of April 2018 stands at 123, which is 4.9 percent higher as compared to the level in the month of April 2017,” CSO said in the “Quick estimates of index of Industrial Production”.

“The cumulative growth for the period April-March 2017-18 over the corresponding period of the previous year stands at 4.3 per cent.”

IANS

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Business

McLeod Russel sign MoU to dispose of some Assam tea gardens

The company decided to dispose of certain tea estates in Assam, namely Beesakopie, Raidang, Daimukhia, Samdang, Baghjan, Bordubi, Koomsong and Phillobari.

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McLeod Russel

Kolkata, June 5 (IANS) World’s largest tea producer McLeod Russel India on Tuesday signed an MoU with city-based M.K Shah Exports Ltd to dispose of eight tea gardens in Assam for a consideration of Rs 331 crore.

The company decided to dispose of certain tea estates in Assam, namely Beesakopie, Raidang, Daimukhia, Samdang, Baghjan, Bordubi, Koomsong and Phillobari.

“…the company has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with M. K. Shah Exports Limited, having registered at Kolkata on June 5, 2018,” the tea producer said in a regulatory filing.

These gardens contributed Rs 192.76 crore to its turnover in the last fiscal, which was over 12 per cent of its last year’s revenue.

“The company proposes to utilise the sale proceeds in repayment of certain high interest bearing debts, for buying back company’s own shares from the shareholders of the company to the tune of Rs.100 crore…and making investment for diversification into packet tea business,” the company had said earlier.

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Analysis

Is your building earthquake safe? Probably not

Earthquake Resistant — Immediate Occupancy” in which the building may suffer some minor damage but there would not be any loss of life or property. “Rarely in the Indian real estate scenario buildings are designed to this category.

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Under construction buildings

Though earthquakes have wreaked havoc in many parts of the country, Indian real estate and infrastructure sector still has lots more to learn — and implement — to ensure the safety of life and property.

Although structural requirements and concerned technologies are incorporated in the building process, sector players say many modern technologies used worldwide are yet to be widely used in the country.

According to V.K. Gehlot, Director, National Centre for Seismology, “base isolation” and “dampers” are the major technologies to make buildings strong enough to resist seismic vibrations. But they are not widely used in India because of the cost involved and requirement of frequent maintenance.

Through base isolation, engineers decouple the building or the superstructure from its substructure which rests on ground, thus protecting the building during an earthquake.

Dampers on the other hand work as shock absorbers and minimise the magnitude of vibrations transmitted to the building from the ground.

The cost difference between a building with and without dampers is approximately Rs 350 per square feet, according to Major Sandeep Shah, Managing Director of Taylor Devices India.

The company is a manufacturer of earthquake-resistant equipment and he says “all developers” in the country are aware of the technology.

Shah said the company’s devices have been used in Terminal-2 of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai, lobby block building of Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, and New Udaan Bhavan at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi.

He pointed out that “at present none of the buyers are aware that by using dampers buildings can be protected and would remain habitable even after a major earthquake. That may be the reason why no one (buyer) is asking for such buildings.” But once they are made aware, Shah was sure they would want the technology in the building they are going to live in.

According to Aunirban Saha, Director (Marketing, Construction and Sustainability) of the Saha Groupe of Companies, “most of real estate projects are designed to the grade of ‘Earthquake Resistant — Collapse Prevention’ “. That means that in the event of a major earthquake, the building would not collapse and there won’t be any loss of life. However, the building itself would not be in a habitable condition and would need to be demolished and reconstructed, he explained.

The next higher standard is “Earthquake Resistant — Immediate Occupancy” in which the building may suffer some minor damage but there would not be any loss of life or property. “Rarely in the Indian real estate scenario buildings are designed to this category,” Saha added.

The highest category of structural safety is that of “Earthquake Resistant — Operational”. Under this, there would be no damage to the property or any injury caused to its occupants irrespective of the magnitude of the earthquake.

Saha said most developers go for the first category of “Collapse Prevention” as they find it more cost-effective. Most home buyers are not aware of earthquake-related safety grades, he added.

The higher structural grades, Saha said, made more sense in today’s market scenario for commercial real estate because such properties are preferred by big multinational companies.

According to Dikshu C. Kukreja, Principal Architect at C.P. Kukreja Associates, “all leading architects of India have the knowledge and skill about the technologies available to incorporate them in our designs and construction.”

Other than dampers, structural concepts such as bracing — where X-shaped braces strengthen the columns of the buildings — and couplers — where bars are joined together — help in absorbing movement during an earthquake.

Siesmologist Gehlot says that earthquake resistance should be enforced as a default, even for small structures. Today, when building a house, 95 per cent people do not bother about earthquakes. “Our usual way of construction is that we will give it to a mason and they will start constructing,” he adds.

All that needs to change, he emphasises.

By Rituraj Baruah

(Rituraj Baruah can be contacted at [email protected])

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