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Oil regulator hikes tariff of pipeline transporting Reliance gas by 37%, half of sought

Agencies

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New Delhi: Oil regulator PNGRB has approved a 37 percent rise in tariff from April 1 for the pipeline that transports Reliance Industries’ eastern offshore KG-D6 gas to customers.

In its final tariff order, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) in a March 12 order said transporting natural gas on the East-West pipeline would cost Rs 71.66 per million British thermal unit (mmBtu) on gross calorific value (GCV) basis from April 1 as compared to Rs 52.33 per mmBtu tariff charged for April 1, 2009, to March 31, 2019, period.

The tariff approved is almost half of the tariff sought by East West Pipeline Ltd – the operator of the pipeline. It had sought the tariff to be raised to Rs 151.84 per mmBtu with effect from April 1, 2018.

 

A rise in tariff would lead to increase in the price of fertiliser as well as city gas like CNG that uses gas brought through the pipeline starting from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh and running up to Bharuch in Gujarat.

The pipeline primarily transports KG-D6 gas, which has steadily dipped from 69.43 million standard cubic meters per day achieved in March 2010 to under 3 mmscmd.
PNGRB in a 49-page order went into cost calculations and other parameters to fix the tariff.

“The tariff has been worked out based on information provided by the entity and deliberations. However, PNGRB intends to verify/audit the information provided for tariff determination and method of cost allocation, etc. By an internal team of PNGRB or by an external agency,” the order said.

The tariff, it said, will be subject to revision based on the audit of information and data.

Originally, EWPL had proposed a levelised tariff of Rs 55.91 per mmBtu for transporting the gas beginning April 1, 2009 but PNGRB fixed a provisional tariff of Rs 52.53 per mmBtu.

The company in October 2017 proposed a final tariff for the pipeline at Rs 78.72 effective from April 1, 2009, till the end of the economic life of the pipeline – up to March 31, 2034.

When PNGRB sought clarifications, EWPL updated the tariff filing to state that Rs 52.23 per mmBtu would be the tariff till 2017 and Rs 151.84 would be charged from 2018-19 to 2035-36.

The PNGRB order said the pipeline operator has claimed a total capex of Rs 18,307.37 crore under two heads – actual capex of Rs 16,347.96 crore and future capex of Rs 1,959.41 crore.

PNGRB said when it first fixed the provisional tariff, it had assessed the pipeline’s carrying capacity of 85 million standard cubic metres per day including 21.25 mmscmd for use on a common carrier, open access and non-discriminatory basis by any third party.

But the company challenged this first before the Appellate Tribunal of Electricity (APTEL) and then before the Delhi High Court. The Court had in April last year ordered fixing of the tariff once the quorum of PNGRB was complete.

PNGRB became fully functional a year back when the government made appointments of Chairman and members of the Board.

PNGRB sought views of stakeholders on EWPL’s tariff filing and gave a detailed order after considering all views.


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RBI asks banks to grout ATMs to wall, floor for security by September-end

Press Trust of India

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Mumbai: The Reserve Bank asked banks to ensure their ATMs are grouted to a wall, pillar, or floor by September-end, except those installed in high secured premises such as airports, to enhance security of the cash vending machines.

In 2016, the RBI had st up a Committee on Currency Movement (CCM) to review the entire gamut of security of treasure in transit.

Based on the recommendations of the panel, the central bank has now issued instructions aimed at mitigating risks in ATM operations and enhancing security.

 

As part of the security measures, all “ATMs shall be operated for cash replenishment only with digital One Time Combination (OTC) locks”.

Also, “All ATMs shall be grouted to a structure (wall, pillar, floor, etc.) by September 30, 2019, except for ATMs installed in highly secured premises such as airports, etc. which have adequate CCTV coverage and are guarded by state/central security personnel”.

Further, banks may also consider rolling out a comprehensive e-surveillance mechanism at the ATMs to ensure timely alerts and quick response, it said.

The new measures to be adopted by banks are in addition to the existing instructions, practices and guidance issued by the RBI and law enforcement agencies.

The RBI also warned the banks that non-adherence of timelines or non-observance of the instructions would attract regulatory action including levy of penalty.

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SBI refuses to disclose communication from RBI, govt on electoral bonds

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New Delhi: The State Bank of India has refused to disclose any communication it received from the government or the Reserve Bank of India on electoral bonds, terming it “personal information” and held in “fiduciary capacity”.

Responding to an RTI filed by Pune-based activist Vihar Durve who had demanded copies of all letters, correspondence, directions, notifications or e-mails received from the RBI or any government department between 2017 and 2019, the SBI said it cannot be provided by it.

The bank cited two exemption clauses under the RTI Act to deny information — Section 8(1)(e) which pertains to information held in fiduciary capacity and Section 8(1)(J) which pertains to personal information of a person which has no link to any public activity.

 

“Information sought by the applicant cannot be disclosed as it is in fiduciary capacity, disclosure of which is exempted under Section 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005,” the Central Public Information Officer of the bank said in his reply.

The bank also refused to give any details of action taken by it on such communications from the RBI and the government.

The electoral bonds, for giving donations to political parties, are being sold through SBI only. The sale opens in SBI branches when the Finance Ministry issues a notification of their sale for a given period.

The scheme of electoral bonds notified by the Centre in 2018 has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

Only the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State, shall be eligible to receive the bonds.

The bonds may be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India “or incorporated or established in India,” the government had said in a statement last year.

The bonds remain valid for 15 days and can be encashed by an eligible political party only through an account with the authorised bank within that period only.

A voluntary group working in the field of electoral reforms, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), has demanded a stay on the sale while the CPI(M) has challenged it before the Supreme Court in separate petitions.

ADR recently filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018 which was notified by the Centre in January last year.

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Walmart’s Flipkart, Indian startup GOQii settle dispute over sharp discounting

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New Delhi: Walmart unit Flipkart has settled a legal dispute with an Indian startup that alleged it suffered losses because its products were sharply discounted on the global retailer’s website.

GOQii, a seller of smartwatch-type health devices, sued Flipkart last month in a Mumbai court, alleging its devices were discounted by around 70 per cent to the retail price, much more than the two sides had agreed. The court had, as an interim measure, ordered device sales to be halted on Flipkart.

In a joint statement , the companies said the dispute had been resolved and GOQii health devices would again be available on Flipkart. They didn’t say how the settlement was reached.

 

Vishal Gondal, CEO of GOQii, told Reuters the company would withdraw the case against Flipkart. The e-commerce retailer’s “team worked on a resolution benefitting the brand and the customers”, Gondal said in the statement.

The legal spat was seen as a test case of the giant retailer’s operating strategy in the country.

Small traders and a right-wing group close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party have raised concerns about large e-commerce companies, saying they burn billions of dollars deeply discounting some products to lure customers onto their sites, in the expectation that they will also buy other goods.

GOQii said it signed an agreement last year with a Flipkart unit to sell two of its devices at a price not below 1,999 rupees (USD 28.63) and 1,499 rupees. It later found the devices were being sold for 999 rupees and 699 rupees, calling it “unauthorized” discounting.

In response, Flipkart said it reserved “the right to institute actions for defamation, both civil and criminal”, arguing it wasn’t responsible for any discounts which are determined by third-party firms which sell via its website.

The two companies struck a friendlier tone in their joint-statement on Friday as they brought the legal battle to an end.

“We have ensured constant engagement with GOQii to resolve any differences,” Flipkart said in the statement.

With a 19 per cent market share, GOQii was the second-biggest player in India’s so-called wearables market last year, data from industry tracker IDC showed. The market is dominated by China’s Xiaomi, with Samsung a small player.

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