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UG launches group to tackle energy issues

first_imgThe University of Guyana (UG) on Friday launched its Think Tank initiative which will see players from across the country brainstorming to tackle energy-related issues in Guyana.A few members of the Think Tank groupAt the launch at the Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown Campus, it was explained that the major focus of the group will be on how Guyana, which is becoming a major oil and gas producer, can maintain its pristine environment, energy sustainability and more importantly making Guyana a model energy country.Think Tank will bring together a number of players from Guyana, both in academics as well as industry experts, to“think” about the energy problems of the energy future here.Deputy Vice Chancellor of the tertiary institution, Dr Paloma Mohamed told that the challenge this group has taken on is no easy task.“It may seem simple but really no other country in the world has been able to achieve it because it’s not the easiest thing to do so for us we’ve brought together these four international players to begin with. There’ll be others who will join us,” she said.In addition to these persons, people from within the University as well as from the policy spectrum in Guyana and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) will be part of this group.Think Tank intends to soon come up with an agenda which will be shared with the general public. Furthermore, briefings and commentaries will be published to inform the Government on the way forward as recommended by the group.“We will come out of today with an agenda that we will publish so you will get a note on it on what we are going to do, what steps we are going to take and the media and the public and policymakers will begin to see our briefs so we will be writing and publishing and advising on what we think and how we think this can work and provide that kind of support to pretty much anybody who needs it”, Mohamed further explained.Five of the main persons who form part of the group are Verlyn Klass; Former Dean of the University, Thomas Singh; Former Head of Department of Chemistry, Patrick Ketwaroo; Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering, Vishal Persaud and Dean Calvin Bernard.Already the Department of Energy, Department of Environment and the Guyana Oil Company (GuyOil) have been engaged and will be working along with the newly established group.UG has also partnered with the Arizona State University from the United States on this venture. Funding for the project is coming from the Trent University of Canada.Acting Vice-Chancellor for UG, Professor Michael Scott explained the importance of the project that is being undertaken by the University. “I’ve often said that whatever we do, whether it’s oil and gas or whatever we do, beneath, behind, before, beyond and beside what we do are living beings called people and at the end of the day they are the ones who will be impacted upon,” he stated.last_img read more

Mt. St. Helens Renewal Slow, Steady

first_imgThis is an eyewitness report of ecological renewal at the volcano that erupted 32 years ago.This past Saturday, August 4, a group of about 60 people hiked the Johnston Ridge trail to view Mt. St. Helens and hear about its geology and ecology.  The event, advertised on DoNotBeDeceived.org, was organized with help from members of the Design Science Association of Portland and 7 Wonders Museum on highway 504 west of Mt. St. Helens.  The event featured geologist Dr. Steven A. Austin, who personally researched the volcano in the weeks and years after its May 18, 1980 eruption and has hiked the area numerous times.  Dr. Austin had even scuba-dived into Spirit Lake to view the patterns of tree deposition after sonar his team towed under a boat revealed trees sinking into the bottom in upright positions, analogous to the petrified forests of Specimen Ridge.  He also discovered a 1/4oth scale “miniature Grand Canyon” carved by a mudflow in 1982.  This canyon (left center in photo) was the destination of the hike.Renewal at Mt. St. HelensGeology:  The volcano is very stark, with most of the surroundings still highly impacted by the eruption 32 years ago.  Two deep gorges, Loowit Canyon, headed with a large waterfall, and Step Canyon, 600 feet deep, descend from the crater and flow into the North Fork of the Toutle River.  Mudflow damage along this river is still visible for miles west Mt. St. Helens.  In the vast landslide debris field below the crater, the “Little Grand Canyon” becomes visible after about 1.5 miles on the trail.  In many ways (except for color) the 200′ deep canyon resembles its larger namesake: it has stratified layers, round-headed side canyons and sharp gullies entering from both sides.  There is a small stream flowing through it reached after a descent down Truman Trail, after 4.6 miles of hiking (requires off-trail permit).What makes this little canyon fascinating and relevant to catastrophist geology is that we know exactly how and when it formed.  The main eruption on May 18, 1980 deposited a thick layer of landslide debris.  In June, a pyroclastic flow deposited 25 feet of sediments that show remarkable laminations at both large and small scales – a surprise to pre-eruption geological thinking.  Finally, on March 19, 1982, a mudflow that poured from the crater deposited mud on top of the other flows, then overtopped a debris dam, causing rapid downcutting and upstream cutting through the three layers.  While it might appear that the stream carved the canyon, we know from this highly-monitored volcano that the stream is a mere relic that had nothing to do with the canyon’s rapid, catastrophic formation.Ecology:  The blast zone north of the volcano still looks very desolate, especially south of Johnston Ridge.  Fallen trees remain all over the hillsides many miles from the crater, bearing mute testimony to the power of the eruption that flattened virgin forest in seconds.  Pioneer species are making a strong foothold, especially nitrogen-fixing lupine and alder.  Remarkably, some seeds and small animals survived the blast under snowfields and were able to re-establish small populations.  A few douglas fir saplings dot the landscape in places.  Elk herds are among the first large mammals that have entered the blast zone, living on grasses and vegetation growing on plateaus alongside the Toutle River canyons and debris hummocks.  Some birds and frogs inhabit the riparian environment along the stream in Little Grand Canyon.  There is very little shade, though, in the blast zone.Spirit Lake is 200 feet higher than its pre-eruption level.  The landslide on May 18, one of the largest ever witnessed, caused a water wave 860′ high that swept a million logs into the lake onto a new bed of debris.  So covered was the lake with logs and pumice from the blast, early reports claimed Spirit Lake had been obliterated entirely.  The heat and vegetation brought into the water created conditions for rapid growth of anaerobic bacteria, causing an opaque, churning stew of gases and germs.  Ecologists were surprised at how quickly the lake rebounded, however.   The water is blue and mostly clear.  Trout were probably illegally reintroduced by a tourist, since it is questionable they could have found their way in naturally.  They are doing well, after subsiding from record growth rates when first  introduced into the uncompetitive environment.  About 35% of the logs remain, mostly douglas fir that could float for decades more.  Snowmelt over the post-eruption years caused rapid rise in lake levels that threatened another catastrophic dam breach down the North Toutle drainage, so engineers carved a tunnel over a mile long to divert the excess water down Coldwater Canyon.It’s quite humbling to look at this environment that all changed so quickly on March 18, 1980.  Our guides told us that in places where we were walking along the ridge and in the valley, we would have been in the sky before the eruption, looking down on the tops of old-growth forest. The volume of material lost to the once-conical volcano is very striking, even as seen from airliners leaving Portland; it’s like the mountain was sliced horizontally, with a huge gash on the north side where the lateral eruption unleashed its energy.  And yet this was a small eruption as volcanoes go.Mt. St. Helens is important as a living laboratory of rapid geology and ecological succession.  Textbooks on geology and ecology had to be rewritten because of the events that followed that fateful morning (for example, see Science Daily article today).  Dr. Austin’s work is proof against the accusation that creationists only criticize evolution without offering original research.  To the contrary, his work, unfettered by Lyellian presuppositions, has been generally well received and has influenced secular geologists to reconsider the role of rapid catastrophic change.  The evidence he uncovered and published is second to none.  Moreover, his winsome Christian manner, alongside the quality of his research, has gained the respect of notable geologists willing to think outside the box.Several of our guides also believe that God, showcasing his power through this event, also showed mercy in providential timing of the eruption.  It could have destroyed much of Portland had the blast aimed in that direction instead of north, and would have killed many more people on the north side had it occurred the day before or after that Sunday morning, because the prior day property owners were allowed to come in and get their belongings, and the day after a new group of campers and sightseers would have come within the actual (not predicted) danger zone.  The 57 who were killed were all forewarned of the danger; now, Spirit Lake Lodge owner Harry A. Truman and the others are fossilizing under tons of sediments.  Solomon said, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”  (Account, photo and commentary by David Coppedge.) (Visited 98 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Freedom of Joburg for Mandela

first_img26 July 2004Five days after Nelson Mandela’s 86th birthday, Johannesburg gave its most famous resident the Freedom of the City at a ceremony at the Orlando East community hall in Soweto – used by Mandela for political meetings and for boxing training half a century ago.Friday’s event – which also celebrated a decade of democracy in South Africa – was to have taken place on 14 May, but was postponed to allow Mandela to fly to Zurich to be part of the SA 2010 bid team’s final presentation to Fifa ahead of the announcement of South Africa as the host country for the 2010 Football World Cup.Nelson Mandela was the third person to receive the city’s highest award. The first two recipients were also stalwarts of South Africa’s liberation struggle: Walter Sisulu, who received the award in 1997, and Beyers Naude, who received it in 2001.Mandela’s famous words, “The struggle is my life”, should not be taken lightly, the City Council said in a statement. “He has sacrificed his private life and his youth for his people, and remains South Africa’s best-loved personality.”Mandela, who turned 86 on 18 July, announced in June that he would be retiring from an active public life which continued unabated after he handed the country’s presidential reins over to Thabo Mbeki in 1999.Mandela’s spokesperson, Zelda le Grange, said Mandela was “very honoured by the award, as this has been his home since the 1940s.”Mandela the boxerThe Orlando East community hall was chosen for Friday’s award ceremony because of its historical ties to Mandela, who used to live in the area, and used the hall both for political meetings and for boxing training.Mandela was a keen boxer in his youth, and although he never took part in organised tournaments, he used to train at the hall, then known as the Donaldson Orlando Community Centre (DOCC). He joined the DOCC’s boxing club in the early 1950s, training there almost every weekday evening with his son, Thembekile.(The photo on the right shows Mandela sparring with the club’s star boxer of the time, Jerry Moloi. Drum photographer Bob Gosani took the photo on the rooftop of South African Associated Newspapers’ office in Johannesburg.)World heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, in Johannesburg to fight Hasim Rahman in 2001, gets some pointers from Mandela. Lewis lost the Rahman bout, but won the return match the following year. (Photo: Irish-Boxing.com)In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela writes: “I would go home directly after work, pick up Thembi, then drive to the community centre … We each took turns leading the training sessions in order to develop leadership, initiative and self-confidence.“Things would get a bit rough for me on the nights that my son was in charge, for he would single me out for criticism … When he saw me loafing, he would say in a stern voice, ‘Mister Mandela, you are wasting our time this evening. If you cannot keep up, why not go home and sit with the old women.’ Everyone enjoyed these jibes immensely, and it gave me pleasure to see my son so happy and confident.”Mandela writes that he was “never an outstanding boxer. I was in the heavyweight division, and I had neither enough power to compensate for my lack of speed nor enough speed to make up for my lack of power.“I did not enjoy the violence of boxing so much as the science of it. I was intrigued by how one moved one’s body to protect oneself, how one used a strategy both to attack and retreat, how one paced oneself over a match.“Boxing is egalitarian. In the ring, rank, age, colour, and wealth are irrelevant. When you are circling your opponent, probing his strengths and weaknesses, you are not thinking about his colour or social status.“I never did any real fighting after I entered politics. My main interest was in training; I found the rigorous exercise to be an excellent outlet for tension and stress. After a strenuous workout, I felt both mentally and physically lighter.“It was a way of losing myself in something that was not the struggle. After an evening’s workout I would wake up the next morning feeling strong and refreshed, ready to take up the fight again.”SouthAfrica.info reporterlast_img read more

Honouring black dead in Boer War

first_img26 September 2005Black South Africans who lost their lives in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902 are finally to be honoured. This is part of a memorandum of understanding signed by the British and South African governments to renovate and maintain the graves of some 25 000 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the war. The deal was signed in Tshwane on Friday.Supported by the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners, responsibility for the upkeep of the graves was officially handed over to the South African government at Heroes Acre Cemetery in Tshwane. The memorandum was signed by Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan and British high commissioner to South Africa Paul Boateng.According to the deal, over 200 cemeteries throughout South Africa will be renovated, with the UK government and private sponsors providing the £800 000 (R9.05-million) required over the next four years. A further £150 000 (R1.7-million) will be made available every year for maintenance.While black South Africans largely played a noncombatant role in the Anglo-Boer War – also known as the South African War because it involved more than the British and Boers – their contribution has largely been ignored.Jordan hailed the memorandum as a step towards finally honouring their role. He said their graves will be located and proper tombstones erected, and a monument built for those whose graves cannot be identified.“There is no memorial to blacks who lost their lives in the concentration camps,” he said. “That’s going to be one of the first big steps to commemorate them.”Norvalspont concentration camp, one of the notoriouscamps set up by the British in the Anglo-Boer War(Image: Anglo-Boer War Museum)Boateng described the signing as a historic occasion to give fallen heroes the respect and dignity they deserve.“We welcome the support of the South African government in continuing the restoration and maintenance of Commonwealth war graves in South Africa,” he said. “It is important that we do not forget all those of many lands and all races who have lost their lives in the fight for freedom and democracy.”Personal sacrifice and courageThe deal follows a 2003 report by the UK Ministry of Defence and the South African Department of Arts and Culture that revealed a need to recognise and honour those who died in the war.Boateng said there would also be an exchange programme between UK and South African schools to educate youngsters about historic wars and conflicts, and the importance of their commemoration.“The significant aspect is for children and young people in the UK and South Africa to be able to understand the story that lies behind these graves – a story of personal sacrifice and courage,” he said.Although both the British and Boers initially agreed that black people were not to be used in a combatant role in the war, at least 15 000 blacks were armed by the British and served in mobile columns to track down Boer commandos. A further 25 000 served as armed blockhouse guards.Black South Africans were also used on the Imperial Military Railway system, and served as scouts, agterryers and wagon drivers. They also became refugees of the war, had their homes and livelihoods destroyed in the British scorched earth policy, and were interned in the notorious British concentration camps.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Kareena helped in brand building: Pankaj-Nidhi

first_imgDesigner duo Pankaj and Nidhi Ahuja say getting actress Kareena Kapoor as the showstopper added value to their brand when they presented their collection at the Lakme Fashion Week Winter-Festive 2012.They were the grand finale designers along with Kallol Datta at the fashion week, which concluded Tuesday.”Having Kareena (Kapoor) walk the ramp for us helped a lot. Our brand got noticed a lot more due to this. Also, she has noticed us and was asking about our collection. It is very exciting and we are happy,” they told IANS.The actress sported an edgy look on the ramp – she flaunted a jet black long dress with infusions of leather and long fringe detailing.Originally from Delhi, Pankaj and Nidhi’s brand is six-year-old and is available in 20 stores across the country.This was their first stint at Mumbai fashion event and for them “the experience was awesome” and they “would love to come back to city again”.”This is our first show here and it was quite amazing to see our stall over-flowing with people. The reaction from Mumbai has been fantastic and we would love to work here,” Nidhi added.First time LFW roped in young designers for the grand finale.”It is new thing for Lakme, the finale had amazing energy because of new designers. I think everyone enjoyed the change,” Pankaj added.There were lots of graphic prints and monochromatic colours on ramp and according to the designer, the collection was was unique in it’s own way.advertisement”We were inspired from very diverse elements like paper cutting, handcrafting, origami, stitching, basket weaving which all came through in out collection,” he said.Short knitted dresses and jackets dominated the line in fabrics like wool and silk.last_img read more

Rami, Umtiti and Schneiderlin in France’s Euro squad

first_imgFrance coach Didier Deschamps confirmed his final Euro 2016 squad on Tuesday, including defenders Adil Rami and Samuel Umtiti plus midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin.The trio replace the injured Raphael Varane, Jeremy Mathieu and Lassana Diarra, a late withdrawal with a knee problem.Liverpool centre back Mamadou Sakho was not included even though his 30-day provisional suspension for failing a drugs test expired last weekend. Hosts France geared up for the finals with a 3-2 victory over Cameroon in Nantes on Monday. They take on Scotland in Metz on Saturday.Les Bleus face Romania in Group A in the opening game of the tournament on June 10 before playing Albania and Switzerland.France squad:Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Olympique de Marseille), Benoit Costil (Stade Rennais)Defenders: Samuel Umtiti (Olympique Lyonnais), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Adil Rami (Sevilla), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Lucas Digne (AS Roma), Christophe Jallet (Olympique Lyonnais)Midfielders: Paul Pogba (Juventus), Blaise Matuidi (Paris St Germain), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United), N’Golo Kante (Leicester City), Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United)Forwards: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Dimitri Payet (West Ham United), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Andre-Pierre Gignac (UANL Tigres)last_img read more

Japan website offers anonymity for variety of grievances

first_imgTOKYO – A cartoon cat in a purple robe brandishes a tiny gavel as it comforts another cat yowling from abuse: The images welcoming visitors to Sorehara, a Japanese website for anonymous complaints about harassment and other grievances, are deceptively endearing.“You don’t have to suffer alone. Get help from the cat who seeks justice,” it says.Sorehara, an abbreviation of the Japanese for “That’s harassment,” was devised by a 21-year-old college student and, like many #MeToo apps and websites, is meant to help victims of abuse safely fight back against their tormentors.It allows users to send anonymous complaints by email, without registering any personal information and is gaining popularity in Japan, despite some concerns over the potential for its misuse.On-the-job harassment is gaining attention as the #MeToo movement slowly takes root here. Sexual harassment claims have brought on recent resignations of high-profile officials, pop stars and professors.But the website doesn’t focus just on sexual misbehaviour. Sorehara goes to very Japanese extremes in allowing users to register their disapproval electronically to those who offend them in all sorts of ways, including indulging in garlic, wearing excessive perfume or smelling too strongly of cigarette smoke.Victim blaming can be severe in highly conformist Japan so anonymity is essential for helping them feel safe, says Tatsuki Yoshida, 21, who developed Sorehara and founded his start-up Quaerere last year.“In Japan, companies don’t like to deal with harassment issues. People who raise their voices about harassment usually just get moved to a different department or maybe given a raise. Or they get fired,” he told The Associated Press in a recent interview in Fujisawa, southwest of Tokyo.A college sophomore, he is taking time off from his studies to work on Sorehara.Inappropriate behaviour and unwanted sexual advances, repugnant and dangerous as they can be, are just part of a universe of gripes people might have about their co-workers.So Sorehara offers users various options, including “power harassment,” bullying, alcohol harassment, sexual harassment and even “smell harassment.”Next, they chose the level of severity, ranging from mere annoyance to threatening legal action. They fill in the email and a name or nickname of the person accused of the misbehaviour, but not their own email or name. The Japanese-language site gives an option to delay sending the message for up to two months, to reduce the possibility of the accuser being recognized.Recipients get an email politely notifying them of the harassment claim, asking if they recognize it and giving a choice of responses such as: “I will reflect on my behaviour,” or “I have done nothing wrong.”An English version was released recently, and a Korean-language version is in the works.The #MeToo era has inspired companies, colleges and support groups to devise all sorts of apps and other online support for victims of sexual harassment and other abuses.Some, like Protibadi in Bangladesh, HarassMap in Egypt and bSafe use mapping and GPS technology to help protect people by identifying potentially unsafe locations or notifying a user’s friends if the person seems to be in trouble. AI-powered chatbots like Spot, developed in California, automate harassment reporting. Others focus on support and counselling for victims. Few combine anonymity with direct online complaints the way Sorehara does.Some worry that this anonymity could invite abuse because the claims can’t be verified, and because many Japanese tend to view simple annoyances like body odour as grievous social transgressions.“There’s a possibility that the person you say is a harasser is not really harassing,” said Yoko Iwasaki of Cuore C Cube Co., a business management consulting company in Tokyo that focuses on harassment and diversity issues.“That person who receives that email from Sorehara might feel very weird and attacked. Sending that kind of message can also be harassment,” she said.But Hiroaki Morio, a professor at Kansai University, says he just believes the website is meant to be “light-hearted.”“They’re trying to make harassment easier to deal with,” Morio said.Despite the wider recognition of sexual harassment as a problem, Japanese thinking has not changed much and as most people still feel unable to speak up, so anonymous outlets like Sorehara can help, says Mayumi Haruno, who became the first Japanese woman to sue alleging on-the-job sexual harassment after she was forced out of her job in the 1980s. She won 1.65 million yen ($15,000) in damages in a lawsuit that she filed in 1989.Social media that allow anonymity, like Line, Twitter and Mixi are popular in Japan and in neighbouring South Korea, where Blind, an anonymous message board app for employees, launched a #MeToo message board early this year.“I think people are still afraid to make things public because they’re afraid of a backlash,” said Kyum Kim, co-founder of TeamBlind, which started the Blind app in 2013 and has offices in San Francisco, Seoul and Tokyo. “I think that’s the culture right now in Japan and Korea.”Sorehara says it sends about 50 complaints a day. Most people who get them accept or at least acknowledge them, suggesting most claims are genuine, Yoshida said.He says Sorehara is meant more to open lines of communication and raise awareness than to provide a formal way to report or solve harassment cases. Different people draw social lines in different places, Yoshida says, so he wants Sorehara to help people educate each other.Several companies, including one with about 200 employees, are working with Sorehara to use the service internally, and Yoshida says he is also collaborating with counselling services.“I don’t think companies are really changing internally,” Yoshida said. “But they are scared about their image, so at least they are paying more attention.”___Follow Nicola Shannon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nicolavshannonHer work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/Nicola%20Shannonlast_img read more

Lok Sabha polls: AAP names 15 star campaigners for Delhi

first_imgNEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has come up with 15 names to be the party’s star campaigners in Delhi, senior party leader Gopal Rai said. Rai said these names would be submitted to the Election Commission for approval on Wednesday and they would come up with more names in the coming weeks. “A total of 40 campaigners will be campaigning for the party in Delhi,” he said. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and senior party leaders Satyendra Jain, Sanjay Singh and he are among those chosen by the party, Rai said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderThe other names on the list include party members Bhagwant Mann, Sushil Gupta, ND Gupta, Imran Hussain, Kailash Gahlot, Saurabh Bhardwaj, Rajendra Pal Gautam, Rakhi Birla, Jarnail Singh and Shahnaz Hindustani, he said. The election to the seven Lok Sabha seats in the national Capital will be held on May 12. Meanwhile, AAP Delhi convenor Gopal Rai on Wednesday asked DPCC President Shiela Dikshit whether the people of Delhi should believe her latest statement on her earlier statement of November 21, 2013, when she had stated that due to Delhi not being a full state there has been a problem of coordination between different agencies and such problems would have been resolved had Delhi been a full state. “Dikshit has also stated that full statehood will no longer be a part of her party’s manifesto, she should explain what was the compulsion of her party in having promised full statehood for Delhi on 30th January 2015,” he said. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsRai also said that she should tell the people of Delhi whether the 2015 manifesto was a lie or what are her latest compulsions in going back from what her party had been promising to the people of Delhi for decades? “It is shocking that somebody who has been a Chief Minister of Delhi on Wednseady said that statehood for Delhi cannot be an issue for Lok Sabha elections. If one were to believe what Mrs Dikshit is saying today then on what basis she had got a resolution passed from the Assembly and sent it to the then central government for getting this demand fulfilled ?,” the AAP leader said.last_img read more

Sale of electoral bonds skyrocket by 62% in election year: RTI reply shows

first_imgNew Delhi: The sale of electoral bonds has skyrocketed ahead of Lok Sabha election by 62 per cent as compared to last year with the SBI selling bonds of over Rs 1700 crore, an RTI reply shows.In an RTI response to Pune-based Vihar Durve, the SBI has said that in 2018 it had sold bonds worth Rs 1056.73 crore in the months of March, April, May, July, October, November. This year in January and March the bank has sold Electoral Bonds worth Rs 1716.05 crore, the response said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The country will go to polls this month with first phase of voting to take place on April 11. The sale shows an increase of 62 per cent from those sold during 2018. The sale of electoral bonds opens in the SBI branches when Finance Ministry issues notification of the sale for a given period. The data provided by the SBI shows that highest purchase of electoral bonds for the year 2019 was reported from Mumbai where the bonds worth Rs 495.60 crore were sold. It was followed by Kolkata with the sale of Rs 370.07 crore, Hyderabad with sale of over Rs 290.50 crore, Delhi with Rs 205.92 crore and Bhubaneswar with the sale of 194 crore. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KThe scheme of electoral bonds notified by the central government 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 a Bank 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 CPI-M has challenged it before the Supreme Court in separate petitions. ADR recently filed an application in the apex court seeking stay on the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018 which was notified by the Centre in January last year. It said amendments carried out in relevant Acts have “opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies which can have serious repercussions on the Indian democracy”. The application further said: “Electoral bonds are being made available for a large number of days in three months leading to general elections in the country scheduled to be held…in April-May 2019 to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha. “It is expected that enormous amount of corporate funding would be received by political parties in April and May and this would play a critical role in the elections.” Referring to research and data compiled on the issue, the NGO has said that close to 97 per cent of all the bonds purchased so far were in denomination of Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore with no demand for bonds of smaller denominations. “The fear with regard to electoral bonds has been proven right in light of the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party’s annual audit report for 2017-18 according to which the ruling party received the largest chunk of the funds received through electoral bonds. “BJP has earned more than Rs 1,000 crore in 2017-18 and is all set to be the maximum gainer of political funding in the last financial year, according to its annual returns submitted to the Election Commission,” the application has alleged and also referred to media reports on this. During the hearing of a separate petition by the CPM on the issue, the Election Commission has informed the apex court that it had written to the Centre saying the changes made in several laws relating to political funding will have “serious repercussions” on transparency.last_img read more

PSBs continue with 180 days to resolve Jet issue

first_imgNew Delhi: Public sector banks, led by State Bank of India, have given themselves 180 days to resolve the Jet Airways account even though the time limit has become irrelevant post Supreme Court order that quashed an earlier RBI circular on debt resolution. Official sources in the Finance Ministry said that banks have informed the ministry that they were not ready to wait endlessly to restore health of the beleaguered airline and if attempts to bring in a strategic investor fails or is not completed by June 30, lenders may immediately initiate bankruptcy proceedings against Jet. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”All attempts are being made to see that Jet Airways does not fail and its operations are maintained albeit on a smaller scale. Banks, including SBI and Punjab National Bank (PNB) have already decided to provide interim funding support of Rs 1,500 crore to Jet,” a source in the finance ministry said. “Now effort is on to bring in a strategic investor. But if there are no satisfactory bids, banks would not wait anymore and refer the airline to National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for resolution,” the source added. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostJet first defaulted on loan repayment on December 31. Going by this, the 180 day period from default will end on June 30. Once the matter lands in NCLT, banks get another 180 days to find a resolution of the stressed asset with an extension of 90 days, if required. Post this, if banks fail to resolve the account, liquidation process starts. “We will go by the 180-day deadline that was being followed as per now defunct RBI circular. With each day the problem at Jet seems to be multiplying and if a resolution is not achieved immediately, there is no point to drag the issue any further but to take the account for bankruptcy. Otherwise, the airline account can become a further drag on the banks,” said an official of public sector bank asking not to be named. The Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed the February 12, 2018 circular of RBI that asked banks to start resolution of an account even if there was one day default in repayment of loans. This resolution would have to be completed in 180 days failing which it would be mandatory upon banks to refer it for bankruptcy proceedings. Following this order from the apex court, it was widely believed that banks would use extra time now available with them for resolution. But for Jet, PSBs are in no mood for extended period of resolution. Meanwhile, the lenders on Saturday invited expression of interest (EoI) from investors looking to pick up majority stake in Jet. The EoI would have to be submitted by April 9. Extensions could be considered, if bids are not satisfactory. A statement issued on Thursday by a consortium of lenders led by the State Bank of India (SBI) said : “The lenders intend to pursue the bank-Led resolution plan for sale of stake in the company in a time-bound manner under the present legal and regulatory framework and intend to invite expressions of interest.” Jet Airway’s former Chairman Naresh Goyal has said he has cooperated fully and facilitated the bank-led resolution programme for the company. On March 25, Goyal had stepped down from the board of the airline and ceded majority control to the SBI-led consortium. Under the debt resolution plan, the lenders would inject up to Rs 1,500 crore working capital into the airline and convert their debt into equity, to revive the airline and then sell their stake in it. The airline owes over Rs 8,000 crore to lenders. At present, the airline is hard-pressed for funds. It is expected to receive the first tranche of the Rs 1,500 crore promised by banks as part of the debt resolution plan. Industry sources informed that the first tranche of fund is expected in a day or two. However, without further funding the airline’s fleet size is expected to shrink further. It has already shrunk to 26. Jet Airways has been struggling with cash flows for the past six months because of rising fuel costs and intense competition. It has even delayed payment to lessors, airport operators and oil marketing companies besides a part of its workforce to keep the company running. On Wednesday evening, the airline informed employees that salaries for March will be delayed. Salaries are pending since January.last_img read more