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Wednesday,27-October-2021

Business

Railways lose Rs 1,200 cr due to farmers’ stir at 32 places

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Amid the farmers protest at 32 locations in several parts of Punjab and Haryana, the Railways has lost revenue from freight to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore, the Railway Ministry said on Wednesday.

A railway spokesperson in a statement said the Railways continue to lose revenue as freight operations remain forcibly suspended due to the track blockages in Punjab.

“Till Date more than 2,225 freight rakes could not be operated upon carrying vital commodities. Loss already expected to have crossed Rs 1,200 crore already,” the spokesperson said.

He said that the agitators have continued dharna at platforms and near railway tracks. “Train movement again suspended due to operational and safety considerations as agitators have suddenly stopped some train movements and sporadic blockade continued at various places, especially around Jandiala, Nabha, Talwandi Sabo and Bathinda,” he said.

He said, as per the report at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the farmers’ agitation was continuing at 32 places — 31 in Northern Railway and one in North Western Railway division.

Farmers are protesting against the three controversial Agriculture Bills that were passed in Parliament in September.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had written to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on October 26 seeking assurance about the safety of tracks and running staff to resume operations.

The official said that due to the continued blockages at sections of tracks in Punjab, there has been a major adverse impact on the freight movement and, hence, on the availability of vital commodities for the farm, industrial and infrastructure sector as well.

He said that all passenger trains passing through the state of Punjab have been adversely impacted and till date more than 1,350 passenger trains have been cancelled, diverted or short terminated.

“All inward and outward goods transportation, including essential commodities have been affected adversely in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh. Number of freight trains, including loaded trains remained stuck as such for periods upto 15-20 days,” he said.

The official also pointed out that many freight customers, after having suffered business losses, are getting diverted to other modes of transportation.

The farmers agitation started on September 24 in Punjab after blocking railway tracks and stations. From October 1 onwards all movements had to be suspended as agitation spread all over Punjab which affected complete train operations in Firozpur Division, partially in Punjab area of Ambala, Delhi and Bikaner Division.

The Railways resumed operation of limited goods trains on October 22. However, within two days the services were again suspended due to operational and safety considerations as sporadic blockade continued at various places, especially around Amritsar, Nabha, Talwandi Sabo, Firozpur, Moga, Jandiala and Bathinda.

Business

Small LPG cylinders, financial services at FPS proposed

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 The Centre on Wednesday proposed to sell small LPG cylinders through Fair Price Shops (FPS) across the country.

There is a proposal to provide financial services through FPS and extending MUDRA loans to its dealers for capital augmentation.

There are a total of 5.32 lakh FPS in the country. With this step, the Centre is aiming at taking its services closer to poorer and needy consumers.

Focussing on enhancing financial viability of FPS, Department of Food and Public Distribution Secretary, Sudhanshu Pandey in a video conference with representatives of multiple ministries and PSUs stressed on the need of taking proactive measures for the same.

The representatives from oil marketing companies appreciated the proposal for retail selling of small LPG cylinders through FPS and informed that “necessary support required would be provided for the same in coordination with interested state or Union Territory (UT) governments,” said a release from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in New Delhi.

The representative from the Department of Financial Services appreciated the government’s proposal to provide financial services through FPS, extending MUDRA loans to FPS dealers for capital augmentation and informed that necessary support would be provided for it in coordination with interested state or UT governments.

Earlier, the CEO, Common Service Centre (CSC), gave a presentation about the various service offerings provided by it. An update on the activities undertaken by CSC to tie-up with individual state or UT governments to take this initiative forward was presented, too.

Set up under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the CSC scheme provides a centralised and collaborative framework for delivery of services to the citizens.

In his concluding remarks, Sudhanshu Pandey mentioned that different states or UTs can take up these initiatives and tailor them to suit their individual requirements.

Representatives from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, CSC e-Governance Services India Limited and all states/UTs participated in the virtual conference, the release added.

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Google logs record $18.9 bn profit, Search and YouTube soar

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Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has posted an all-time record revenue of $61.9 billion for the July-September quarter, along with record profits at $18.9 billion.

Google Services revenues were $59.9 billion, up 41 per cent, and Google Search and other advertising revenues of $37.9 million in the quarter were up 44 per cent.

The company said in a statement late on Tuesday that YouTube advertising revenues of $7.2 billion were up 43 per cent due to strength in both direct response and brand advertising.

“Our long-term investments in AI and Google Cloud are helping us drive significant improvements in everyone’s digital experience,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google.

“Search remains the heart of what we do. We have made remarkable advances over the past 23 years that benefits Search and related products like Google Assistant, which just celebrated five years,” he added.

For Google Cloud, the revenues were $5 billion for the third quarter, up 45 per cent.

“Google Cloud Platform’s (GCP) revenue growth was again above cloud overall, reflecting significant growth in both infrastructure and platform services,” said Ruth Porat, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

At the Alphabet level, headcount grew by nearly 6,000 in the third quarter, including seasonal campus hires.

“We expect robust headcount growth in Q4 for both Google Services and Google Cloud,” the company said.

Alphabet said that with respect to foreign exchange impact on reported revenues, it expects virtually no impact in Q4 in contrast to a 1.5 per cent tailwind in Q3 and 4 per cent in its Q2.

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Petrol, diesel rates raised again by 35 paise/ltr

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Petrol and diesel prices increased again on Wednesday after a two-day break as global oil prices failed to relent and continued to remain firm.

Accordingly, the pump price of petrol in Delhi increased by 35 paise per litre to jump to Rs 107.94 a litre while diesel prices also increased by the same margin to reach Rs 96.67 a litre, according to a price notification of state-owned fuel retailers.

In the financial capital Mumbai, petrol prices have now risen to Rs 113.80 per litre while diesel to Rs 104.8 5 a litre, the highest among all metros.

Across the country as well petrol and diesel prices increased between 35-40 paise per litre, but their retail rates varied depending on the level of local taxes on petroleum products.

The fuel prices remained static last week on Monday and Tuesday, but had risen for four straight days by 35 paise per litre previously before again rising for five consecutive days between Wednesday and Sunday. It remained static again on Monday and Tuesday before rising again on Wednesday. There was no change in rates on October 12 and 13.

Diesel prices have now increased for 25 of the last 33 days taking up its retail price by Rs 8.15 per litre in Delhi.

With diesel prices rising sharply, the fuel is now available at over Rs 100 a litre in several parts of the country. This dubious distinction was earlier available to petrol that had crossed Rs 100 a litre-mark across the country a few months earlier.

Petrol prices had maintained stability since September 5, but oil companies finally raised the pump prices last week and this week given a spurt in the product prices lately. Petrol prices have also risen on 22 of the previous 29 days taking up its pump price by Rs 6.75 per litre.

Crude prices have been on a surge rising over three year high level of over $ 86 a barrel now as global demand remains firm while OPEC+ continues to move slowly on increasing production. Since September 5, when both petrol and diesel prices were revised, the price of petrol and diesel in the international market is higher by around $9-10 per barrel as compared to average prices during August.

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