DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 18 PAGES BY UNNY PLI SCHEME FOR AUTO, DRONE SECTOR; REFORMS FOR TELECOM Major relief for telecom sector, Govt gives 4-year moratorium on AGR dues Will help address liquidity concerns: Vaishnaw; telcos welcome measures BJP battling infighting, new Gujarat Cabinet waits another day PARIMAL DABHI & GOPAL KATESHIYA GANDHINAGAR, RAJKOT, SEPTEMBER 15 THE SWEARING-IN of the new Bhupendra Patel-led government that was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon was put off to Thursday, reportedly after severalministersof theoutgoing government protested on being informed that they would not find a berth in the new Cabinet. BJP state unit president C R Paatilhadtold The Indian Express onWednesdaymorningthatthe swearing-in of the new Council of Ministers “is almost final between 2 pm and 4 pm”. This,afterthepartygaveindicationsonTuesdaythatThursday would be the date for the oathtaking.Byafternoon,postershad comeupattheRajBhavanvenue, bearingWednesday’sdateforthe ceremony. However, until Wednesday afternoon, neither the General Administration Department (GAD) nor the Roads and Buildings Department that wouldhavehandledthelogistics of such an event had any official intimation about the advancing of the date, sources in the two departments claimed. By 3.30 pm, when The Indian Express team visited Raj Bhavan, supporters of Limbdi MLA Kiritsinh Rana had reached from Surendranagar on hearing CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 TELECOM ■ Non-telecom revenues out of definition of AGR AASHISH ARYAN & KARUNJIT SINGH ■ 4-year break from paying statutory dues NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 15 THEUNIONCabinetWednesday approved reform proposals for thetelecomsector,entailingnine structural and procedural measures that aim at alleviating sectoral stress by addressing nearterm liquidity concerns. It also cleared a production linkedincentive(PLI)schemefor automobile, auto component and drone manufacturers to boost domestic production. Among the steps approved for the telecom sector, the one that is likely to provide immediate relief to debt-laden companies such as Vodafone Idea is the decision to provide a four- A HELPLINE ■ 100% FDI through automatic route Union ministers Vaishnaw, Thakur brief the press. PTI ■ Scrapping of Spectrum Usage Charge for airwaves acquired in future auctions BID TOBOOST PRODUCTION ■ Shifting between prepaid, post-paid to not require fresh KYC PAGE 13 year moratorium on payment of all dues arising due to the Supreme Court’s September 1, 2020, judgment on adjusted gross revenue (AGR). AUTO ■ Rs 26,058 cr PLI scheme ■ Scheme to incentivise high-value advanced automotive technology vehicles and products CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Measure will give relief for now to telcos, but may not stop balance sheet bleed PRANAV MUKUL, SUNNY VERMA & SANDEEP SINGH NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 15 THE RELIEF package for the telecom sector, while offering the prospect of an annual cash flow breather of an estimated Rs 45,000 crore to the fund-starved industry, falls short of addressing the significant smudges of redalreadyonthebalance sheets of a majority of the players. The measures, all of them prospective in nature, also potentially miss out on fostering a more sustainable tariff regime which, according to industry players, could have come as a shot in the arm for players in the capital-intensive sector and other stakeholders, such as banks that have an exposure exceeding Rs 1 lakh crore to telecom companies. Amongthemeasures,theannouncement of a moratorium up to four years on dues arising out of the Supreme Court judgment on annual ● gross revenue (AGR), and on due payments of spectrumpurchasedinpastauctions, is seen as positive in stemmingthebleedintheshortterm. E EXPLAINED BUSINESS AS USUAL `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 EXPRESS NETWORK I-T VISITS PREMISES OF SONU SOOD PAGE 7 Tatas, SpiceJet chief in race as Air India divestment enters the concluding stage PRANAV MUKUL NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 15 AIR INDIA’S disinvestment process has moved into the final stages, with Tata Sons and SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh havingsubmittedtheirfinalbids to acquire 100% stake in the national airline. The stake sale includes Air India’s 100% shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50% in Air India SATSAirportServicesPrivateLtd. “FinancialbidsforAirIndiadisinvestment received by Transaction Adviser. Process nowmovestoconcludingstage,” Secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), Tuhin Kanta Pandey said in a tweet. The government had in Januarylastyearinvitedsubmission of expressions of interest (EoIs) for full stake in Air India, and made certain changes to the bidconditionsovertime, including allowing interested parties to bid at an enterprise value of theairline, combiningthevalues of both debt and equity. But, soon after the government openedinvitedbids,theCovid19 crisishadhitandtheprocesshad got delayed. In April this year, the Centre Over Rs 60,000 cr debt, last try to sell AI in 2017 failed had finalised the qualified interested bidders and asked them to submit a final bid. A Tata Sons spokesperson and a source close to Singh confirmed their participation in the disinvestment process. Singh is bidding in his individual capacity. Officials in the Civil Aviation Ministry said that in an ideal situation the transfer of shares was to happen by December, but it is likely to happen by the end of current fiscal. Notably, the government’s 2017 attempt at selling the airline had failed to attract any interest. After receiving feedback from potential investors, it had sweetened the EoI clause relating to transfer of debt to the new investor, giving bidders the flexibility to decide the quantum of CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Tribunal posts: Govt claims right to reject, SC flays ‘cherry-picking’ EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 15 ICE, ICE BABIES Humboldt penguins Donald, Daisy at Byculla Zoo in Mumbai, Wednesday. Amidst row over a Rs 15.26 cr tender by BMC for their upkeep, Mayor Kishori Pednekar said the zoo had seen birth of two chicks, rise in ticket sales due to the birds. Pradip Das NEET skewed results in favour Police tie tractor sales of English-medium, well-off, to farm protest: Spurt urban, CBSE kids, TN panel finds began much earlier EXPRESSINGDISPLEASUREatthe unfilled vacancies in various tribunals, the Supreme Court on Wednesdaytookexceptiontothe Centre’s stand that it “has the power not to accept the recommendationsmade”bytheSearchcum-SelectionCommittee(SCSC), comprising judges of the top court, for appointments. The court also expressed displeasure at the manner in which appointments were made, saying that “there cannot be any cherry-picking” of names. “We are in a democratic country, following the rule of law. It is under the Constitution that we are working. You cannot say that,” Chief Justice of India N V Ramana told Attorney General K K Venugopal, who sought to submit that the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021, enables the government to take a decision on the recommendations. Hearing the matter on September6,thecourt,whileexpressing its anguish over the delay in appointments, had given the government one week to fill the posts. Inanaffidavitfiledthereafter, the Centre said it had made 84 appointments to tribunals since 2020, including 38 recently — 18 to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT); 1 to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT); 13 to the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT); and 6 to the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT). The government said no name recommended by the SCSC was pending with it. But the bench, also comprisingJusticesDYChandrachudand LNageswaraRao,questionedthe CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PUNJAB, HARYANA JUST 7% OF TOTAL HARIKISHAN SHARMA & HARISH DAMODARAN NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 15 A SEEMINGLY unusual jump in tractor sales in Punjab and Haryana during November 2020-January 2021 has been cited by the Delhi Police as proof of a “well-orchestrated conspiracy” behind the protests against the Centre’s three farm laws. The Delhi Police has pointed out that tractor sales growth, year-on-year, in Punjab were 43.53 per cent in November, 94.30 per cent in December and 85.13 per cent in January, while in Haryana, the growth figures INSIDE NCRB DATA SHOWS CRIME DIP, RISE IN CLASHES AMID FARM STIR, LOCKDOWN UDDHAV GOVT PLANS OBC ORDINANCE PAGES 5, 6 THE WORLD 1MONTH LATER, ECONOMIC CRISIS STALKS TALIBAN PAGE 12 stoodat 31.81per cent,50.32per centand48percentforthesame months. ButdatafromtheTractorand Mechanisation Association (TMA), whose figures the Delhi Policehascited,alsoshowasimilar high year-on-year sales growth trend across India — at 51.25 per cent in November, 43.09 per cent in December and 46.75 per cent in January. What is more, the spurt in salesstartedinMay2020(before the farm protests took off) and continuedrighttillAprilthisyear (well past the peak of the protests in November to February). CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 RITIKA CHOPRA NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 15 THE PROPORTION of students from rural areas, economically weaker backgrounds, Tamilmedium schools, and state board affiliated schools in Tamil Nadu’s medical colleges has decreased significantly after the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) was introduced in 2017-18, according to data crunched by a government-appointed committee. The panel’s findings formed the basis of the Tamil Nadu government’s move to scrap NEET for admission to MBBS programmes in the state. The nine-member panel, THECHANGE PRE-NEET (2016-17) TO POST-NEET (2020-21) CBSE students: 0.97% to 38.84% State board students: 98.23% to 59.41% English-medium: 85.12% to 98.01% Tamil-medium: 14.88% to 1.99% Parents earning less than Rs 2.5 lakh p.a: 47.42% to 41.05% Parents earning above Rs 2.5 lakh p.a: 52.11% to 58.95% tasked by the state government to assess the impact of NEET on medical admissions, found that the proportion of rural students fell from an average of 61.45% (pre-NEET) to 50.81% (post-NEET). Candidates from government schools, who were underrepresented even before NEET’s introduction, fell further behind (see chart on Page 2). On average, government school students made up 1.12% of the first-year MBBS batch in Tamil Nadu preNEET. The figure dropped to 0.16% post-NEET (unreserved seats).Lastyear,thestategovernment introduceda7.5%horizontal reservation for state-run school students. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Sansad TV gets in Opp’s Tharoor, Chaturvedi, to talk all but politics PAGE 1 ANCHOR KRISHN KAUSHIK NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 15 WHAT DO politicians talk about when they get together? Not necessarilypolitics,itseems.The Congress’s Shashi Tharoor and Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi will put that to test as hosts of chat shows on the newly launched Sansad TV. While Tharoor has been asked to host To The Point, a series of interviews with eminent PM Modi, Speaker Birla at Sansad TV launch Wednesday. PTI personalities, Chaturvedi will interview women parliamentarians in her show Meri Kahaani. However, both shows will steer clear of politics. At least for now. The channel, set up by merging Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Wednesday. 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