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Friday,30-July-2021

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Noida International Airport aims to create much-needed aviation infra in NCR

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Once operational in 2024, Noida International Airport (NIA) will bring the much-needed aviation infrastructure in the National Capital Region (NCR), contended the builder of the upcoming facility.

Touted to be Asia’s largest airport once all phases are completed, the NIA will be designed and operated by Switzerland-based Zurich International Airport Limited AG (ZAIA) under a 40-year concession.

The first phase of the mammoth project is expected to be completed by 2024 with a capacity for 12 million passengers per year.

In a conversation with IANS, Daniel Bircher, CEO, Zurich Airport International (Asia), said: “We’re bringing much-needed aviation infrastructure to one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas – a region with a very strong economic and industrial growth outlook.”

“This is also crucial for the airlines that need space for strategic growth. Overall, we believe India is a strong market and the domestic demand will fuel the economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bircher added.

Recently, the Uttar Pradesh state government signed the concession agreement with the company to commence the development of the airport at Jewar.

Bircher elaborated that airport construction will create several thousand additional jobs in the next few years.

“The project will fuel employment generation in the state of Uttar Pradesh. We expect the airport ecosystem will create about 3,000 to 4,000 direct jobs once operational,” Bircher said.

On the likely traffic trends, he predicted that initially the airport will cater to the domestic demand.

“Once the airport is operational, 90 per cent of the initial traffic will be domestic. We will look at collaborating with foreign airlines to enhance international connectivity as well,” Bircher said.

“We will make sure to support them with cost-effective processes, low-turnaround costs and seamless transfer facilities,” he added.

Furthermore, the upcoming airport aims to offer competitive, cost-efficient processes for all airlines, he said.

“As a greenfield airport, the NIA will provide the necessary space for overnight parking and sufficient peak hour slots for an airline that wants to strategically grow in the Delhi NCR region,” Bircher said.

Another major advantage of the airport will be its proximity to upcoming industrial clusters and tourist destinations of Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan.

“We believe regional traffic will hugely contribute to the recovery and revival of air travel in India. The airport is located strategically between Delhi and Agra, close to the fast-developing Noida and Greater Noida area,” Bircher said.

“The region with infrastructure, traffic and big catchment area, has a huge potential. We are even optimistic that the location will help in drawing more traffic towards the airport from connected regions, once operational in 2024,” he added.

The NIA is about 72 km away from the IGI Airport, about 40 km from Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad, about 28 km from Greater Noida, 65 km from Gurugram and 130 km from Agra.

It is connected via Yamuna Expressway and other multi-modal transport options that are still in planning phase.

Last year, ZAIA had won the contract to build and operate the airport in Greater Noida for a period of 40 years.

It received the security clearance from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to develop the NIA at Jewar in May this year.

Bollywood

Film theaters in Telangana reopen after three months

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Film theaters in Telangana re-opened on Friday after a hiatus of more than three months.

Majority of about 600 theaters across the state re-opened with 100 per cent seating capacity.

The theaters resumed business with the screening of three new Telugu films – “Thimmarusu”, starring Satyadev and Priyanka Jawalkar, “Ishq – Not a Love Story”, starring Teja Sajja and Priya Prakash Varrier, and “Narasimhapuram” starring Nandakishore and Siri Hanumantu.

The first day saw a dull start as few cinema lovers turned out. However, the exhibitors expect the numbers to go up over next few days.

In Greater Hyderabad which has 160 theatres, single-screen theaters saw poor turnout while there was some activity at multiplexes.

INOX said it welcomed movie lovers at Hyderabad INOX at GVK One, Banjara Hills, and Maheshwari Parameshwari Mall. It said cinemas will be operated by a full vaccinated team and it is adhering to each and every instruction as prescribed in the notifications issued by the state government.

“We have curated a hygiene initiative called #SafetyFirst, which is a convergence of the measures prescribed by the government authorities and additional measures implemented by us. Besides the cinemas will be frequently deep cleaned and disinfection of all customer touch points including entrance, box office, lobbies, auditorium, F&B counters, restrooms and exit gates will be carried out,” it said.

“In an endeavour to provide enhanced hygiene, the protocols like mandatory mask, temperature check, e-tickets, contactless payment and entry and enhanced intake of fresh air have also been implemented,” it added.

Though the state government had lifted the lockdown and night curfew last month, the owners of cinema theatres did not resume the business immediately. They had presented few demands before the government to overcome the huge losses they suffered since last year due to Covid-19 induced lockdowns.

The government has agreed to allow theatres to collect parking fee. Theaters have remained shut for nearly 12 months since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and imposition of lockdown in March last year.

It was on November 23 that the Telangana government had permitted theatres in areas outside the containment zones to reopen with up to 50 of their seating capacity.

However, the business had remained dull due to fear of Covid. In February this year, theaters were allowed to operate at 100 per cent capacity.

Just as the film industry was trying to come out of the crisis, the second wave pushed it into further losses. Most of the theaters downed shutters in April.

The exhibitors hope that there will be no third wave of the pandemic. According to film industry sources, more than 20 Telugu films are waiting to be released in August-September.

S.S. Rajamouli’s much-awaited “RRR” starring Junior NTR and Ram Charan is expected to be released on October 13.

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Business

Income Tax conducts searches on Kanpur-based ‘pan masala’ group

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The Income Tax Department has carried out a search action on over 30 premises, in three states, of a large pan masala manufacturing and real estate group based in Kanpur and Delhi, an official statement said on Friday.

A total of 31 premises, spread across Kanpur, Noida, Ghaziabad, Delhi, and Kolkata, were searched on Thursday, a Finance Ministry statement said, adding that the group has been earning huge amounts through unaccounted sale of pan masala and unaccounted real estate business, and this unaccounted income was laundered back into the concerns through a vast link of shell companies.

Digital and paper evidence found during search revealed a nation-wide network of such paper companies created by the group, it said.

The Directors of these companies are persons of no financial means, the investigations revealed.

While some of these persons are not even filing income tax returns, some others who do so, show extremely meagre amounts. Field investigations further revealed that these paper companies did not exist at the addresses mentioned and never conducted any business.

However, surprisingly these companies advanced so called loans and advances to the real estate group amounting to Rs 226 crore in just three years, the IT Department said.

A network of 115 such shell companies has been found. Forensic analysis of the digital data is in progress. The ‘Directors’ also admitted that they were only ‘dummy Directors’ and signed on the dotted lines as and when required in return for commission for their “services”.

During the search, the Income Tax teams also discovered secret hideouts where troves of documents containing details of unaccounted money and their process of laundering have been unearthed. Analysis of such documents and evidence is also underway.

The complete modus operandi has been uncovered by the team including the role of “cash handlers” and their details.

The modus operandi is similar with respect to the business of pan masala. They too have laundered back their unaccounted income through an extensive network of such shell companies.

Unaccounted loans and premia received from such paper companies exceeding Rs 110 crore in three years, have been detected.

The group ploughed back their unaccounted money through such shell companies by showing bogus advances against property sale, bogus loans and share premia.

Forensic analysis of evidence is in progress.

So far 34 bogus bank accounts of shell companies have been found. Deductions claimed under Income Tax Act, 1961 with respect to treatment of biodegradable waste are under detailed scrutiny. It has also been discovered that through some of these paper companies based in Kolkata, bogus sale and purchase of manure has been shown, amounting to Rs 80 crore so that cash can be deposited into bank accounts.

During the search, cash of more than Rs 52 lakh was found along with more than 7 kg gold, while preliminary figures indicate unaccounted transactions exceeding Rs 400 crore.

Further investigations are in progress.

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Business

Alliance Air to operate Kolkata-Bhubaneswar flights via Ranchi

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Air India’s regional subsidiary Alliance Air will operate Kolkata-Bhubaneswar flights via Ranchi from August 11.

Accordingly, the airline has deployed a 70 seater aircraft to connect these cities.

“The flight will operate every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.”

“This new flight will give the travellers from Ranchi and Bhubaneswar multiple options for further connectivity. It is the constant endeavor of Alliance Air to bolster its network and soar higher connecting India and beyond.”

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