The Hindu Important Articles 19 June 2018

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# Chanda Kochhar to go on leave till probe gets over
Chanda Kochhar to go on leave till probe gets over

Remains MD & CEO; Sandeep Bakhshi, COO, to run ICICI Bank in the interim
ICICI Bank’s MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar, at the centre of a row over conflict of interest, has decided to go on leave till an independent probe into the allegations is completed.

The bank has appointed the chief executive of its life insurance arm, Sandeep Bakhshi, as whole-time director and chief operating officer (COO) to run the bank during her absence.

Ms. Kochhar will continue as MD and CEO, and Mr. Bakhshi will report to the board during her leave. All executive directors and the executive management will report to Mr. Bakhshi, the bank informed the stock exchanges following a meeting of its board on Monday.

Five-year term

“Mr. Bakhshi will be responsible for handling all the businesses and corporate centre functions at the bank,” the lender said. He will take charge as the COO on June 19 for a five-year term.

“In line with the highest levels of governance and corporate standards, Ms. Chanda Kochhar has decided to go on leave till the completion of the inquiry, as announced on May 30, 2018,” the bank said.

Last month, ICICI Bank said it would set up an inquiry committee to examine a whistleblower’s complaint against Ms. Kochhar for violating the code of conduct of the bank. It was also alleged that Ms. Kochhar had not adhered to legal and regulatory provisions relating to conflict of interest over a period of time, and that she had indulged in quid pro quo while dealing with certain borrowers.

Justice B.N. Srikrishna, a former judge of the Supreme Court, will head the committee for the probe, though the other members are yet to be named. ICICI Bank has not disclosed the timeframe for the committee to submit its report.

Investor’s complaint

The controversy started in 2016 when Arvind Gupta, an investor, wrote letters to the Prime Minister’s Office, the then Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, and other authorities, seeking an inquiry into the transactions between ICICI Bank, the Videocon Group and NuPower Renewables — a company promoted by Ms. Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar in 2010.

It was alleged that a company related to Videocon Group chairman Venugopal Dhoot had invested Rs. 64 crore in NuPower in 2010 and later, the proprietorship of the company was transferred to a trust owned by Mr. Kochhar for Rs. 9 lakh after the Videocon Group received a loan of Rs. 3,250 crore from ICICI Bank in 2012.

# Four mega projects shelved in the State
A big blow especially to the development of North Andhra
In a big blow to the development of North Andhra, five mega projects sanctioned for Visakhapatnam including the 4x1000 MW ultra modern power project by the NTPC at Pudimadaka have been shelved due to various reasons.

Touted as the largest single investment after formation of Sunrise Andhra Pradesh, the NTPC project was dropped on the directive from the Centre to set up the unit at Rs. 26,828 crore by using domestic coal instead of imported coal as envisaged originally.

“Redesigning the project after acquiring 1,200 acres from the APIIC was found unviable... we have decided not to go ahead with the project,” an NTPC official told The Hindu . The decision is yet to be announced officially though the NTPC withdrew the officials it had posted for the project at the temporary office opened at the Visakhapatnam Special Economic Zone, Atchutapuram.

Premature death

Another project conceived before bifurcation, the IT Investment Region (ITIR), has also met with a premature death due to the Centre’s decision to spike the ITIR Policy.

The TDP government identified 4,074 acres of processing and 5,905 acres of non-processing area for an investment of Rs. 50,000 crore to Rs. 60,000 crore.

It commissioned Ernst and Young to conduct a study and submitted a proposal to the Centre to sanction it.

Another setback was the shelving of the LNG terminal at the Gangavaram Port by the Petronet LNG Ltd, a company floated by several profit-making oil companies. The public hearing for the project envisaged with a two-phase 10-million tonne capacity and an investment of Rs. 9,000 crore was held in 2013.

Poor response

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s promise to develop a better version of the Cyber Tower with a Signature Tower at the sea-facing Rushikonda in 20 acres has fallen flat after naming the American realty firm Janes Long LaSalle (JLL) as project consultant.

Poor response to the PPP modelled project from investors led to the permanent closure.

An investment of Rs. 500 crore was mooted for the project under Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis.

The lapse of Rs. 40 crore led to the removal of plaque to mark the foundation stone laid by Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the Visakhapatnam Special Economic Zone-Duvvada.

The tower with 1.09 square ft. area along with 30,000 sft exclusively for disaster data recovery was a long-awaited need.

“North Andhra needs several projects from both the Centre and the State. How can the area develop if projects are dropped at this rate,” asked Vizag Development Forum vice-president O. Naresh Kumar.

# Forces in J&K given a free hand: Rajnath Singh
Home Minister cites spate of killings
A day after the Centre decided not to extend the suspension of operations (SoO) or cease-ops in Jammu and Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said “security forces have been given a free hand.”

Mr. Singh told The Hindu on Monday that he was pained by the murders of Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari and Army rifleman Aurangzeb.

“A person like Shujaat was killed, Aurangzeb was killed. Apart from this, many other security personnel were killed. We have given a free hand to security forces to conduct operations against terrorists,” Mr. Singh said, explaining why the SoO was not extended beyond the month of Ramzan.

Mr. Bukhari and his two personal security officers were killed by three motorcycle-borne “terrorists” on June 14 near his office at Press Enclave in the heart of Srinagar. Next day, the body of Aurangzeb, who was part of the team that killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sameer Tiger in April, was found in Pulwama. Aurangzeb had been abducted the previous day, when he left his camp to proceed for his home in Poonch to celebrate Eid.

Smooth yatra

Mr. Singh said the Amarnath Yatra, which commences on June 28, would be conducted smoothly.

On Monday, Dineshwar Sharma, special representative for J&K met the family of Mr. Bukhari. Mr. Sharma who was instrumental in the implementation of SoO is visiting the State this week.

The SoO was announced on May 16, for the month of Ramzan that ended on June 16.

# Vimala selected to hear MLAs’ disqualification case
There is no confirmation about her consent to take it up
Justice Huluvadi G. Ramesh, the senior-most judge of the Madras High Court, on Monday asked Justice S. Vimala to be the third judge to hear the 18 MLAs’ disqualification case since the first Division Bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar had delivered a split verdict in the case on Thursday.

According to court sources, the High Court Registry had placed the papers before Mr. Ramesh on Thursday itself after the Chief Justice recused herself from nominating the third judge on moral grounds since it was her judgment with which her companion judge, Mr. Sundar, had differed.

The senior-most judge took into consideration several factors before finalising the name of Ms. Vimala, the 15th judge in terms of seniority from among 63 judges.

He could not select the top eight judges since they are heading Division Benches at present.

Further, some of the senior judges were posted at the Madurai Bench of the High Court.

Justices M. Duraiswamy and K. Ravichandrabaabu could not be given the task since they had handled the MLAs’ disqualification case last year and it was the latter who had referred the case to the first Division Bench in view of the constitutional issues involved.

Seniority

“It was only after taking into consideration all these factors that Justice Ramesh zeroed in on Justice Vimala who is next in seniority to Justice Ravichandrabaabu,” a court official said.

He, however, added that there was no confirmation as to whether Ms. Vimala had agreed to hear the case.

# TS to set up special turmeric cell
Move to improve yield, quality and export
TS to set up special turmeric cell

The Union Commerce Ministry, which has set up Spice Board Development Agency in Warangal, is also proposing to set up a special cell for turmeric in Nizamabad. These two organisations in association with TS government agencies can help in improving the production, quality, marketing and export of turmeric, said Spices Board India’s Director of Research & Development A.B. Remashree on Monday.

The State Horticulture Mission and the Farmers Producers Groups too can join forces to help improve the content of ‘curcumin’, the naturally occurring chemical compound found in turmeric, which will provide better price for the crop and also enhance the export potential, she said.

Addressing a one-day turmeric workshop on ‘Production and export promotion of turmeric in Telangana attended by farmers, scientists, elected representatives and others, the director said the ‘curcumin’ content in crop grown in TS is less than 5% whereas it is 8% in the crop grown in North-East. The Spices Board is ready to assist in improving the ‘curcumin’ content, help in conducting workshops, holding buyer-seller meets, etc.

# Delhi HC questions AAP’s sit-in at L-G’s office
Who authorised you, asks Bench
The Delhi High Court on Monday questioned Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal whether his sit-in or ‘dharna’ at the Lieutenant-Governor’s office was authorised by the L-G, saying such a strike could not be inside someone’s office or residence.

“If it is a strike or dharna, it has to be somewhere else. This can’t be called a strike. You cannot go inside someone’s office or house and hold a strike,” a Vacation Bench of Justices A.K. Chawla and Navin Chawla remarked.

The Bench was dealing with three different petitions — one seeking to declare the sit-in by Mr. Kejriwal and his Cabinet colleagues unconstitutional and illegal, the other to end the alleged ‘informal strike’ by IAS officers, and another by BJP leader Vijender Gupta against the AAP’s sit-in.

The Bench did not pass any direction but made party in the case members of the IAS Officers Association of the AGMUT (also known as Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territories) cadre who on Sunday said at a press conference that they were not on strike.

“Why are you [the AAP government] sitting there? It has the semblance of a sit-in dharna. Who authorised them,” the Bench asked the government. Senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog, appearing for the Delhi government, said it was an “individual decision.”

Mr. Nandrajog said the AAP leaders were not preventing or blocking any official work inside the L-G’s office.

He also contended that in Sunday’s press conference the IAS officers accepted that they are not attending meetings called by the Ministers.

The Central government claimed that the IAS officers were not on strike and urged the Bench to direct AAP leaders to vacate the Lieutenant-Governor’s office.

The High Court has posted all the cases for further hearing on Friday.

One of the petitions, filed by advocate Umesh Gupta, has sought a direction to the IAS officers to attend meetings called by the Ministers of the Delhi government and perform their duties as public servants.

# Chinese envoy moots trilateral with India & Pak.
Proposal a ‘personal opinion’: MEA
India should join a “trilateral” mechanism with China and Pakistan, the Chinese Ambassador to India said on Monday, suggesting that the idea for a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) had come from Indian officials or experts.

“Security cooperation is one of the three pillars of the SCO. Some Indian friends suggested that China, India and Pakistan have some kind of trilateral cooperation under the SCO,” Ambassador Luo Zhaohui said in his first public comments since the SCO summit in Qingdao, China, last week. Mr. Luo’s proposal came in his keynote address at a seminar organised by the Embassy of China here.

‘A personal view’

The Ministry of External Affairs dismissed the startling statement, calling it his personal opinion. “We have not received any such suggestion from the Chinese government. We consider the statement as the personal opinion of the Ambassador. Matters related to India-Pakistan relations are purely bilateral in nature and have no scope for involvement of any third country.”

# Sisodia shifted to hospital
Deputy CM Manish Sisodia was shifted to LNJP Hospital here on Monday due to failing health. On Sunday night, Minister Satyendar Jain was moved to the same hospital after his health deteriorated.

# Holidays to schools for three days
Human Resources Development Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao on Monday announced holidays to all schools from June 19 to 21 in view of the forecast of very high temperature.

He said the decision was taken to protect children from the heat wave like conditions as high temperature was recorded on Monday.

Both private and corporate schools would remain closed.

# No inquiry into ketamine unit in Goa, says Parrikar
At his first press conference in three months, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday ruled out an independent probe into the ketamine manufacturing unit unearthed in Pissurlem industrial estate by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.

Source:- The Hindu

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