Morning Brief: Over 12 Years After Launch, Western Peripheral Expressway To Go Live In October; Large Number Of Bad Loans Originated Under UPA, Hints Rajan; And Other News

by Swarajya Staff - Sep 12, 2018 09:15 AM +05:30 IST
Morning Brief: Over 12 Years After Launch, Western Peripheral Expressway To Go Live In October; Large Number Of Bad Loans Originated Under UPA, Hints Rajan; And Other NewsRepresentative Image 

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news brief for today.

Western Peripheral Expressway To Go Live In October

Over 12 years after it was launched, the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway, a 136-km green and smart road intended to ease traffic by bypassing Delhi on its western border, is set to become fully operational on 2 October. Also called Western Peripheral Expressway, it connects Kundli with Palwal. In April 2016, the 53-km stretch of the expressway connecting Palwal and Manesar, which was completed at a cost of Rs 457.81 crore, was opened. It passes through five districts – Sonepat, Jhajjar, Nuh, Gurugram and Palwal and connects four national highways – Delhi-Ambala-Amritsar, Delhi-Agra-Varanasi, Delhi-Ahmedabad-Mumbai and Delhi to the India-Pakistan border at Attari.

The 134 km-long Easter Peripheral Expressway was opened to traffic in May this year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Since it became operational, there has been a reduction of around 20 per cent trucks entering Delhi. Together, both expressways form a 270 km-long beltway around the National Capital Territory. The project was conceived during the Prime Ministership of late Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 and was to be completed by 2009. However, like most other infrastructure projects, the expressway continued to hang fire during the 10-year rule of the Congress government led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Haryana and the United Progressive in the Centre between 2004 and 2014.

Large Number Of Bad Loans Originated Between 2006-2008: Rajan

In a note on non-performing assets (NPAs) to the Estimates Committee of Parliament headed by Bharatiya Janata Party’s Murli Manohar Joshi, former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan has said that a larger number of bad loans, which plague the banking system today, originated between 2006 and 2009. Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power during this period. Rajan also gives a clean chit to the Modi government on slow credit growth. According to him, credit to industry decelerated from early 2014 and the bank clean-up started in 2015 was not the cause.

In his note to the 30-member Lok Sabha committee, Rajan clearly lays the blame on the Congress, which led the UPA government between 2004 and 2014, for increased NPAs. Rajan also mentions that he had sent a list of high profile cases related to banking frauds to the Prime Minister’s Office for a coordinated action, but does not name the government under which he took this step or the year, leaving room for the BJP and the Congress to speculate and attack each other on the issue. On how to prevent NPAs, Rajan suggested that there is a need for improving governance of public sector banks and process of evaluating projects.

Asia’s First Narrow-Gauge Line In Gujarat Set To Broaden

The 33-km Dabhoi-Miyagam line, India’s first narrow gauge railway stretch which started operations in 1862, is set to be broadened. The decision to broaden it was first announced just weeks after the Railways identified it as one of the five narrow gauge lines that can be preserved to promote heritage tourism. This week, the Western Railways has written to the Railways Board highlighting that the work of converting this line into broad gauge and linking it to the main line was sanctioned in 2011-12, and that portions of the work have already started.

The line, which was closed on 15 July this year, was designed by a British engineer named A W Ford. When it started operation, coaches were pulled by oxen. However, steam engines were deployed in the year 1863, when Maharaja Khanderao of Baroda State purchased three steam locomotives built by Glasgow-based Neilson and Company. Apart from this, the other lines which were identified for preservation are the Miyagam-Malsar line, the Charonda-Moti Karal line, the Pratap Nagar-Jambusar line and the Bilmora-Waghi line.

Kerala Nun Rape Case: Victim Writes To Vatican, Questions ‘Silence’

A day after Missionaries of Jesus came out in support of rape accused Roman Catholic bishop Franco Mulakkal, the Kottayam-based victim nun has revealed a seven-page letter that she has written to the ambassador of the Pope in India pleading that a “speedy enquiry” be conducted into the case and that “Bishop Franco be removed from his responsibilities”. In the letter addressed to Apostolic Nuncio Giambattista Diquattro, the victim has asked if the “Catholic Church has concern only for bishops and priests. We would like to know if there is any provision in Canon Law for justice for nuns and women?”

This development came a day after a group of five nuns staged a protest in Kochi for the first time in the history of the Catholic church in India, demanding the arrest of the accused bishop. The nuns have also accused state police chief Loknath Behra and Ernakulam Range inspector general for trying to protect the rape accused Jalandhar bishop. On Sunday, former Kerala High court Justice Kemal Pasha also came down heavily on the government and the police, blaming an unholy nexus between the bishop and the police for the delay in action.

Supreme Court Provides Interim Relief To Stressed Power Firms

Granting interim relief to stressed power firms in the country, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a status quo on the Reserve Bank of India’s circular for banks to resolve these cases within 180 days. In its circular, the RBI had reportedly asked banks to stop debt restructuring and begin the insolvency process if a company delays payment even by a day. Earlier, the apex court has said that all pleas filed by the central bank related to the February circular should be transferred to it and it will hear the matter on 11 November.

On 27 August, the Allahabad High Court had refused to stay the RBI circular. After this ruling, the banks had another 15 days to find a resolution or put all the assets under the insolvency process. Lenders had identified around 20 out of 32 stressed assets to be referred to the National Company Law Tribunal. Companies like Punj Lloyd, GMR, RattanIndia and IL&FS had moved the Allahabad, Delhi and Madras High Courts seeking relief.

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We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!

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