To allow for bidding of ultra mega projects

Our Bureau

New Delhi, Nov. 2

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today gave its approval for waiving the ceiling of Rs 1,000 crore for equity investments by NTPC Ltd to establish financial joint ventures and wholly-owned subsidiaries in India or abroad for ultra mega projects.

This is for the purpose of participating in the bidding of ultra mega projects (subject to the implementation of maximum two projects) being established at the initiative of the Ministry of Power. However, the ceiling of 15 per cent of the net worth of NTPC in one project and the overall ceiling of 30 per cent of the net worth of NTPC in all such projects of NTPC put together shall remain. This will facilitate participation of the joint venture of NTPC and BHEL in the bidding for the development of ultra mega power projects and result in a technically and commercially optimum bid as well as facilitate tying up with world-class mining operators, the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, told reporters after a CCEA meeting.

Coal-based plant

The Cabinet Committee also gave its approval for setting up a coal-based power plant in the State of Chhattisgarh by AES OPGC Holding, Mauritius. The project is expected to cost approximately $1,222 million. AES expects to bring $370 million as FDI and the balance $852 million shall be raised through loan from domestic and/or international banks and financial institutions.

7,051 posts for I-T Dept

Meanwhile, the Union Cabinet gave its approval for creation of additional 7,051 posts in various cadres in the Income-Tax Department. Mr Chidambaram said an expenditure of Rs 150.66 crore per annum would be incurred towards the additional manpower. He said the creation of the posts would meet the acute shortage of manpower being faced by the Department on account of exponential increase in workload due to new legislative measures brought into action.

The Union Cabinet also gave its ex-post-facto approval for amalgamation of the United Western Bank Ltd with Industrial Development Bank of India Ltd.

The CCEA gave its approval for relaxation of ceilings under the Market Access Initiative Scheme (MAI Scheme) for providing assistance to Seafood Exporters' Association of India for Anti Dumping Duty investigations and changed circumstance review for shrimp exports from India to the US, along with approval for construction of 1,000 km of expressway through public-private partnership on Build Operate and Transfer basis under NHDP Phase VI at a cost of Rs 16,680 crore. It also gave its approval for implementation of a project for modernisation and restructuring of Patent Offices in the 10th Five Year Plan at a revised cost of Rs 137.58 crore. Also, approval for a new component within the on-going Centrally Sponsored Scheme `National Horticulture Mission' for funding of modern Terminal Market projects for fruits, vegetables and other commodities in public-private-partnership mode was granted by the CCEA.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 3, 2006)
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