News Wrap


Indian Navy controls the Air Traffic Control of Goa’s Dabolin Air port. The new air terminal at Dabolin has the capacity to handle 9.5 million passengers a year. The Goa State Government estimates air traffic at 9.27 million, in 2035. Airport Paris (ADPI) estimates traffic in 2035 at 7.3 million. Besides, there are existing or proposed airports in Belgum, Karwar, Hubli and Kolhapur, in the region. Citing tourism potential the state government is planning to build a second international airport on Public-Private-Partnership basis, 75 kms north in Mopa, and another 75 km north, in Chipi. The state plans visualize three airports, within a stretch of 150 km. Acquisition of 82 lac square metres of largely agricultural land, across six villages is complete, in spite of resistance of villagers, who are tenants, as per a 40-year-old law. Planning and development of land for proposed airports covers non aeronautical facilities, such as Hotels, Catering Facilities, Flying Clubs, Shopping Malls, Multiplex, Special Economic Zone and IT Park. A six lane north-south highway is also envisaged. Thousands of rural people will be displaced.

Demolition of Delhi Slums
110 million people across India live in slums. Around a quarter of the total living in the vast sprawl of Delhi and its satellite areas live in slums. The number of people living in the slums of Delhi, exceeds four million. Kathputli colony, is a small, choked west Delhi neighbourhood. It is the biggest single concentration of traditional street artists in the world. Narrow lanes and brick houses provide shelter to dancers, sword swallowers, singers, fire-eaters, sculptors and other performers of fast disappearing arts. The alleys of Kathputli colony are strewn with garbage and human faeces, and stinking black drains. The water is undrinkable, and electricity supply is intermittent. Alcohol abuse, along with other social problems, are rife. Raheja Ltd, a private firm, in partnership with local municipal authorities, planned to redevelop the site. The plan envisaged provision of houses to the community in a comfortable transit camp, two miles away, while the 40 million Pound scheme of building a 54-storey tower block with a shopping mall and luxury flats, was completed. Each family would be provided one of 2,800 one-bedroom flats, built on around 60% of the five-hectare (12.5 acre) site. Luxury flats and the mall would be constructed on the rest. After five years of the launching of the project, only 70 families have moved to the transit camps. Recently, Delhi High Court has refused to block a bid by the property company to flatten 3000 homes of Kathputli colony.

Investments by LIC
The Life Insurance Corporation of India has over 27 crore individual policies in force. LIC’s total investment portfolio of Rs 14.8 lac crore in nearly twice the sum (Rs 8.2 lac croe), managed by all the mutual funds is India, aggregated. During 2013-14, when the Union Government of India, decided to sell equity stake in ONGC, NMDC, NALCO, Hindustan Copper and SAIL amid moribund markets, the LIC mopped up nearly half the shares on offer. LIC purchased shares, when the government sold stakes in the less attractive and fairly illiquid RCF, MMTC, ITDC and the Central Public Sector Enterprise ETF (Exchange Traded Fund). LIC has been subscribing to loan write offs and subordinated debt, for meeting Basel III Norms on capital adequacy, of many public sector banks. Unlike other mutual fund schemes, there is a lack of disclosures about LIC’s operations. A worrying policy holder has no way of checking what its portfolio, stock and sector holdings and exposures are, in any given month. The LIC’s disclosures are restricted to the annual statements, in its annual report, unlike other domestic fund institutions, which make their portfolio public monthly or quarterly.

OIL Boom’s dust in Chicago
Petcoke, a Canadian by-product is piling up near US communities. The powdery substance of petroleum coke, a by-product of the Canadian tar sands boom, is coating houses, cars and lungs in poor neighbourhoods on the south east side of Chicago. Stored by two terminals owned by KCBX on the banks of the Calumet river, it is stirred by the dust storms in autumn and spring every year. Increase in oil production from Canada’s tar sands is driving expansion at refineries throughout USA. Petcoke is piling up from Texas to Toledo. The North American energy independence has been strengthened by the tar sands boom, along with the shale oil revolution.

There has been increased support for the controversial keystone XL pipeline, which if approved would carry oil, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The high carbon oil has quantities of heavy metals and toxic chemicals. Chicago’s petcoke piles originate just over the Illinois state border, at BP’s sprawling refinery in Whitemore Indiana. Resulting from oil refining, petcoke production will triple from 730,000 tons a year to 2.19 million tons, making the Whiting (Indiana) facility, one of the largest global producers. There is a proposed ordinance that would ban net petcoke facilities in Chicago, and prevent expansion of existing facilities. KCBX has been storing petcoke for decades, in spite of blackened houses, communities unable to picnic outdoors, and children confined indoors.

Vol. 46, No. 45, May 18 -24, 2014