PM Modi opens two expressways around Delhi to reduce pollution

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May
28

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday he expected around a 30 percent drop in the number of vehicles entering Delhi, as he opened two new expressways around the capital aimed at decongesting its streets and reducing deadly pollution.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the Digital Art Gallery before inaugurating the Delhi-Meerut Expressway in New Delhi, May 27, 2018. India’s Press Information Bureau/Handout via REUTERS

A damning report by the World Health Organisation this month said India was home to the world’s 14 most polluted cities, with Delhi ranked sixth most polluted. Air quality has worsened over recent winters, prompting Modi’s office to directly monitor measures to clean up the capital’s air.

“The expressways will greatly benefit the people of Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) by reducing pollution and will bring down traffic jams,” Modi said.

The NCR is a rapidly urbanising and polluted area around New Delhi that is one-third the size of New York state, but houses 2.5 times more people.

Illegal crop burning in farm states surrounding New Delhi, vehicle exhausts and swirling construction dust have contributed to what has become an annual crisis.

The 135-kilometre (84-mile), six-lane Eastern Peripheral Expressway was built in 17 months at a total cost of around 110 billion rupees ($1.62 billion), the government said.

More than 50,000 vehicles that transit the capital city on their way to other destinations would no longer need to enter New Delhi, Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari told reporters on Saturday.

It offers signal-free connectivity and is the first green highway fully lit by solar power, has drip pumps for watering plants alongside the highway and has rain water harvesting.

Modi also opened an initial stretch of an 82 km Delhi-Meerut highway, which is India’s first 14-lane.

Modi’s administration is marking its fourth year in office this weekend and has vowed to speed up infrastructure development as it heads into a national election in 2019.

($1 = 67.7300 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Malini Menon; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

Taimur is summer ready in his new haircut

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May
28

Taimur Ali Khan has become one of the most clicked star kid in Bollywood. The Chota Nawab is sure to get snapped every time he steps out of the house. In a similar instance, he was clicked outside his playschool again today. But what caught our attention was the munchkin waving at the paparazzi.

Dressed in a light blue half-sleeved shirt and shorts, the little Nawab has surely learnt the traits of being a celebrity. His cute cherubic looks and inevitable smile is something which makes him the paparazzi’s favourite.

The little star kid has several fan groups on social media with an enormous amount of fan following which matches the likes of the Khans in Bollywood.

Whats Popular Today Sun 27 May

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May
27

Dua Lipa, Indy 500, Braves Vs Red Sox, Stevie Nicks, …

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Alibaba Security Researcher to Jailbreak iOS 11.3 With Cydia?

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May
27

Zheng had already shown a capacity to get root shell access on the platform. However, a famous tweet from the security study inquires about exhibits that he could accomplish read and write access keeping in mind the end goal to jailbreak iOS 11.3 and install Cydia.

Min Zheng, a Chinese programmer, and security researcher has effectively the capacity to jailbreak iOS 11.3 by installing Cydia

Tragically for those in the group looking to jailbreak iOS 11.3, Zheng is collaborating with Apple with regards to fixing out the issues. As a security researcher for Alibaba, his advantage is more in testing and expanding security instead of exposing operating systems and enabling individuals to jailbreak iOS 11.3 voluntarily.

In any case, one thing to remember is that it’s currently affirmed that it’s possible to install Cydia. It’s merely an issue of the jailbreaking group achieving the arrangement all alone as opposed to the help of Zheng. Any fixes from Apple will arrive in a patch, and on the off chance that they pick not to introduce that fix they can take a shot at the capacity to jailbreak iOS 11.3.

The tweet accompanies some words that affirm that Zheng could sidestep a portion of the issues the group was having beforehand and install Cydia on the gadget. As should be evident in the tweet, two screen captures show Cydia running on the iPhone home screen and also a photo with root shell accessing demonstrating the presence of Cydia.app in the/Applications folder.

It’s great to see that the capacity to jailbreak iOS 11.3 is there. However, it’s critical to hold desires under control. Min Zheng is a security proficient that could install Cydia utilizing complex techniques that used a considerable measure of work in the charge line; a procedure that isn’t precisely possible for the average gadget proprietor.

Nicole Hicks

Nicole Hicks a graduate of UFT. She’s based in Toronto but travels much of the year. Nicole has written for NPR, Motherboard, MSN Money, and the Huffington Post. Nicole is a financial reporter, focusing on technology, national security, and policing.

Neesham signs up with Wellington for 2018-19 domestic season

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May
27

James Neesham, the New Zealand allrounder, has signed up with Wellington for the upcoming domestic season, ending a seven-year tenure with Otago. The 27-year-old is seeking a return to the national side after he was one of the notable omissions from the annual contracted players’ list announced by New Zealand Cricket earlier this month.

Neesham said his relationship with the Wellington coach Bruce Edgar convinced him to make the move. “Me and Bruce always had a good relationship from back when he was a national selector. When he knew I was looking at other opportunities, he had a good chat with me about Wellington. I liked the look of the set up and I flew down to meet a few of the lads, and it seems like it will be a great fit for me. I’m 27, I’m reaching the time when an all-rounder comes into his peak. This is a good chance to show it.”

Auckland was the other team Neesham was looking at. However, his equation with Edgar, as well as a proud record at the Basin Reserve, eventually influenced his decision. Neesham has played six first-class matches at the venue and averages 42.72 with the bat. He also struck a career-best 137 not out against India in February 2014, in the same Test where Brendon McCullum became New Zealand’s first Test triple-centurion.

“Jimmy is a quality player who will add a lot to our middle order with the bat and complement a pace attack who have done pretty well in recent seasons,” Cricket Wellington said in a statement. “We think that will make him an asset to our squad and he’s been very clear that a return to the national side is part of his focus and a strong incentive to contribute to the Firebirds this coming summer.”

Neesham made his international debut in December 2012, in a T20 international against South Africa in Durban. He has since played 12 Tests, 41 ODIs and 15 T20Is. However, the previous season was marked by a dip in form, particularly with the ball, leading to his falling out of favour with the selectors.

Vedanta sticks with plan to expand Tamil Nadu smelter despite deadly protests

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May
27

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – London-listed Vedanta Resources hopes to restart its copper smelter in a southern Indian city and still wants to double its capacity despite protests demanding its closure that killed 13 people this week, a company executive told Reuters on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows Sterlite Industries Ltd’s copper plant, a unit of London-based Vedanta Resources, in Tuticorin, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu April 5, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

The company’s position comes a day after the state of Tamil Nadu, where the smelter is located, said it was seeking a permanent closure of the plant due to allegations that it pollutes the air and water of the locality.

“We’re not in that stage to look at setting up a plant elsewhere,” P. Ramnath, chief executive of Vedanta’s India copper business, said in an interview.

“We’re confident that we will be able to overcome these issues. It will certainly require a huge effort but I am sure we can hope to restart as quickly as possible.”

The plant, in the coastal city of Thoothukudi, has been shut since late March for maintenance and pending a renewal of its license, even as locals continued largely peaceful protests demanding its permanent shutdown.

The opposition escalated on Tuesday when thousands of people marched towards a local government office on the 100th day of the protest. Ten people died in police firing that day; three more died in subsequent days.

Ramnath said the smelter suffered from a “perception” that it was the most polluting industry in Thoothukudi because of its size, and that support of the local community would be important to restart the plant and double its capacity, as suggested by Vedanta’s billionaire chairman Anil Agarwal.

“Our chairman has said that we need the license to operate, but also we need to build bridges with the local community so that we get their license to operate as well,” he said.

“But at this point of time the atmosphere is very tense, temperatures are high.”

LEGAL OPTIONS

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board cut the power to the smelter on Thursday, saying that last week it found the company preparing to resume production without permission.

Ramnath denied the allegation.

“There was no reason for making preparations to restart the plant when we are still under maintenance that happens once in four years,” he said.

Ramnath said the company was considering legal options to get power restored to the smelter, which produces 400,000 tonnes of copper a year.

Around 250,000 tonnes of the output is consumed locally, making up for 36 percent of India’s demand. The rest is exported to countries such as China.

Vedanta wants to double the smelter’s capacity mainly to meet India’s rising copper demand, which Ramnath expects to grow by up to 10 percent annually. The expansion would, however, be delayed from its earlier completion target of late 2019.

Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Elaine Hardcastle

Kareena Kapoor Khan feels Taimur’s eyes look like a Japanese Samurai

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May
27

While Bollywood’s favourite Kareena Kapoor Khan is known to be always paparazzi-ready, her son Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi is no less. Within just a few months of his birth, he gave the media all kinds of poses and never got intimidated or scared for a new-born with all the attention that he got from the shutterbugs.

Earlier while talking about Taimur, Kareena had said that he looks like her father Randhir Kapoor. However, while interacting with a media portal recently, Bebo went on to say that Taimur looks like his father, Saif Ali Khan. She further quipped that his eyes look like a Japanese samurai.

In the same interview, Kareena’s co-star from ‘Veere Di Wedding’ Sonam Kapoor expressed that Taimur looks like Kareena, not Saif. In fact, Saif, on the other hand, had earlier said that somedays he looks like Kareena and somedays he looks like him. Saif too added that he looks like a Chinese version of his mother and called him Mongol.

Well, we think that Taimur is a perfect blend of Saif and Kareena’s best genes.

Whats Popular Today Sat 26 May

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May
26

Drake Duppy Freestyle, Cavs, Indiana school shooting, …

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Alibaba Security Researcher Can Now Jailbreak iOS 11.3 With Cydia

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May
26
Jailbreak iOS 11.3 With Cydia
Image source: Min(Spark) Zheng/Twitter

Min Zheng, a Chinese hacker and security researcher, has successfully the ability to jailbreak iOS 11.3 by installing Cydia.

Zheng had previously demonstrated an ability to get root shell access on the platform, but a recent tweet from the security research demonstrates that he was able to achieve read and write access in order to jailbreak iOS 11.3 and install Cydia.

Unfortunately for those in the community looking to jailbreak iOS 11.3, Zheng is fully cooperating with Apple when it comes to patching out the problems. As a security researcher for Alibaba, his interest is more in testing and increasing security rather than blowing operating systems wide open and allowing people to jailbreak iOS 11.3 at will.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that it’s now confirmed possible to install Cydia – it’s just a matter of the jailbreaking community reaching the solution on their own rather than with the assistance of Zheng. Any fixes from Apple will come in a patch, and if they choose not to install that patch they can work on the ability to jailbreak iOS 11.3.

The tweet, included below, comes with the words “This time. It’s a real JB now,” confirming that Zheng was able to bypass some of the problems the community was having previously and actually install Cydia on the device. As you can see in the tweet, two screenshots show Cydia running on the iPhone home screen as well as a picture with root shell access showing the existence of Cydia.app in the /Applications folder.

It’s exciting to see that the ability to jailbreak iOS 11.3 is there, but it’s important to keep expectations in check. Min Zheng is a security professional that was able to install Cydia using complex methods that used a lot of work in the command line – a process that isn’t exactly feasible for the average device owner.

While jailbreak developers may be able to streamline the process moving forward, the fact that Zheng is cooperating with Apple rather than with the jailbreaking community is certainly going to make the process take longer and it will make it more difficult moving forward into new builds of the operating system.

There’s a possibility that Zheng will eventually make his work public, but given his previous statements and his current cooperation with Apple it’s extremely unlikely that his specific command line work will ever come to light. The ability to jailbreak iOS 11.3 will have to come from the community themselves.

As far as the next public jailbreak goes, we expect to see one for iOS 11.2.6 before people are able to jailbreak iOS 11.3. The iOS 11.3 fix should follow shortly thereafter, but only if Ian Beer’s exploit is able to be turned into a usable jailbreak.

Unfortunately, Apple has already closed the iOS 11.3 signing window, meaning that it will be basically impossible for people to downgrade moving forward. If you haven’t yet upgraded and are looking to jailbreak iOS 11.3, make sure you don’t accidentally move to the latest operating system. As Zheng cooperates with Apple, it may be more difficult to move forward than we think.

Varun Chopra’s career-best too much for Somerset

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May
26

Essex 313 (Chopra 160, Bopara 73, Groenewald 3-43) beat Somerset 273 (van der Merwe 61, Trego 50, Snater 5-60)
Scorecard

A monumental innings of 160, the highest List A score of his career, by Varun Chopra helped Essex Eagles revive their Royal London Cup campaign against Somerset at Chelmsford.

Chopra’s 149-ball innings lasted from the first delivery of the match to the second ball of the final over, and included nine fours and six sixes. It took his total in the 50-over competition this season to 286 at an average of 71.50.

But Essex’s 40-run victory, ending two successive defeats, was also aided by a five-wicket haul from Shane Snater, the Zimbabwe-born Netherlands seamer, playing only his second game after a successful spell in the 2nd XI. Snater broke two promising partnerships that knocked the stuffing out of the Somerset response, and removed their top four run-scorers. He finished with 5 for 60.

Chopra shared a 141-run stand for the fourth wicket in 27 overs with Ravi Bopara, who hit 73, and 50 in 28 balls with Ryan ten Doeschate for the fifth wicket.

In pursuit of 314, Somerset lost two wickets to Neil Wagner inside the first six overs. Steve Davies fell lbw for two and Johann Myburgh, having hit successive boundaries, flashed at one outside off stump and was caught behind.

Peter Trego and James Hildreth settled into a 69-run partnership in 13 overs that righted the Somerset response until three wickets fell in the space of 17 balls.

Snater had bowled a succession of wides and long hops, but had the prized scalp of James Hildreth as his first Essex wicket. Hildreth, who had scored 281 in three previous Royal London games this season, chipped the ball up to Ashar Zaidi at mid-on for 24.

And Snater had a second wicket seven balls later when Trego got a leading edge and lobbed it back to the bowler. Trego had reached his half-century from 49 balls just three deliveries earlier.

The collapse continued when Simon Harmer had Matt Renshaw lbw, and suddenly half the Somerset side had gone for 120 in the 20th over. But 19-year-old Tom Banton posted his highest List A score of 40 in a 65-run stand with Roelof van der Merwe that frustrated Essex for 13 overs.

However, Banton became Snater’s third wicket, when he hammered the ball back to the bowler. Wagner’s return accounted for Craig Overton, who played into Harmer’s hands at midwicket for 12.

Van der Merwe continued to offer resistance and reached a 47-ball fifty with a six off Ashar Zaidi, but then swept Snater high to deep midwicket on 61. Somerset’s second defeat in a row was confirmed when Sam Cook took a catch over his shoulder to give Snater his fifth wicket with 11 balls to go.

Put in, the Essex openers had 33 on the board in six overs when Adam Wheater bounced down the wicket and smashed Craig Overton straight to van der Merwe at cover. The same Overton accounted for Westley for 4 to a leg before that might have been heading down leg side.

When Dan Lawrence chipped up Trego’s slower ball tamely to Hildreth at cover, Essex had lost three key wickets in seven overs for 37 runs.

Chopra took a liking to Jamie Overton, twice pulling him over square leg for six, one flat, the other long and high and his century came from 114 balls.

As the innings entered the final 10 overs, the scoring tempo increased dramatically and ten Doeschate helped himself to 10 runs from two balls by van der Merwe, including a six out of the ground. Chopra followed with two sixes over deep extra cover against Groenewald, the second taking him past his previous best of 124. But on 261, ten Doeschate picked out Jamie Overton at deep midwicket for 23 to spark a tumble of six wickets for 52 runs.

Chopra’s fifth six sailed over midwicket off Craig Overton before he passed his 150 from 145 balls and his sixth cleared long-off from the first ball of the last over before he was finally out next ball, caught just behind square.

Vedanta sticks with plan to expand Tamil Nadu smelter despite deadly protests

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May
26

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – London-listed Vedanta Resources hopes to restart its copper smelter in a southern Indian city and still wants to double its capacity despite protests demanding its closure that killed 13 people this week, a company executive told Reuters on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows Sterlite Industries Ltd’s copper plant, a unit of London-based Vedanta Resources, in Tuticorin, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu April 5, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

The company’s position comes a day after the state of Tamil Nadu, where the smelter is located, said it was seeking a permanent closure of the plant due to allegations that it pollutes the air and water of the locality.

“We’re not in that stage to look at setting up a plant elsewhere,” P. Ramnath, chief executive of Vedanta’s India copper business, said in an interview.

“We’re confident that we will be able to overcome these issues. It will certainly require a huge effort but I am sure we can hope to restart as quickly as possible.”

The plant, in the coastal city of Thoothukudi, has been shut since late March for maintenance and pending a renewal of its license, even as locals continued largely peaceful protests demanding its permanent shutdown.

The opposition escalated on Tuesday when thousands of people marched towards a local government office on the 100th day of the protest. Ten people died in police firing that day; three more died in subsequent days.

Ramnath said the smelter suffered from a “perception” that it was the most polluting industry in Thoothukudi because of its size, and that support of the local community would be important to restart the plant and double its capacity, as suggested by Vedanta’s billionaire chairman Anil Agarwal.

“Our chairman has said that we need the license to operate, but also we need to build bridges with the local community so that we get their license to operate as well,” he said.

“But at this point of time the atmosphere is very tense, temperatures are high.”

LEGAL OPTIONS

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board cut the power to the smelter on Thursday, saying that last week it found the company preparing to resume production without permission.

Ramnath denied the allegation.

“There was no reason for making preparations to restart the plant when we are still under maintenance that happens once in four years,” he said.

Ramnath said the company was considering legal options to get power restored to the smelter, which produces 400,000 tonnes of copper a year.

Around 250,000 tonnes of the output is consumed locally, making up for 36 percent of India’s demand. The rest is exported to countries such as China.

Vedanta wants to double the smelter’s capacity mainly to meet India’s rising copper demand, which Ramnath expects to grow by up to 10 percent annually. The expansion would, however, be delayed from its earlier completion target of late 2019.

Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Elaine Hardcastle

Mumbai Pune Mumbai to release its third part

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May
26

Refrain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks, name calling or inciting hatred against any community. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines by marking them offensive. Let’s work together to keep the conversation civil.

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Whats Popular Today Fri 25 May

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May
25

ASAP Rocky, James Wong Howe, Morgan Freeman, TotalBiscuit, …

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Live report

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May
25

Follow ESPNcricinfo’s Live Report of the second Qualifier between Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad at Eden Gardens. The winner plays Chennai Super Kings in the final on Sunday. If you don’t see the blog below immediately, please refresh the page. Enjoy the game.

Tamil Nadu seeks permanent closure of Vedanta’s copper smelter: officials

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May
25

THOOTHUKUDI, India (Reuters) – Tamil Nadu state said on Thursday that it was seeking a permanent closure of a big copper smelter run by London-listed Vedanta Resources after 13 people died in protests demanding the closure of the plant on environmental grounds.

Policemen stand guard ahead of a protest, after at least 13 people were killed when police fired on protesters seeking closure of plant on environmental grounds in town of Thoothukudi in southern state of Tamil Nadu, in Chennai, India, May 24, 2018. REUTERS/P.Ravikumar

“The government’s position is very clear, it doesn’t want the plant to run,” said Sandeep Nanduri, the top official of the district where the plant is located, after a meeting with senior state government officials.

Other state officials confirmed the government’s position.

On Tuesday, police opened fire on protesters demanding that the smelter in the port city of Thoothukudi be shut down. In all, 13 protesters have been killed this week.

Residents and environmental activists say emissions from the plant, India’s second biggest, are polluting the air and water, affecting people’s health.

Earlier on Thursday, authorities cut the power to the smelter. The pollution control board of Tamil Nadu said the smelter, which was shut pending renewal of its operating license, was found last week to be preparing to resume production without permission.

A general view shows Sterlite Industries Ltd’s copper plant in Tuticorin, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu April 5, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

On Thursday, Vedanta’s Indian stock closed down 2 percent.

A company spokesman did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ email seeking comment on Tamil Nadu’s closure plan and the allegation that it had been preparing to resume production without approvals. Vedanta has previously denied that the smelter has been polluting the air and water.

“The issue of renewal of consent for the year 2018-2023 has been rejected … due to non compliance of certain conditions,” the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) said in an order dated Wednesday.

It did not elaborate on the conditions the smelter had not met but said it “shall be disconnected with power supply and closed with immediate effect”.

Slideshow (5 Images)

The agency told Vedanta it could not resume operations without permission.

The plant has already been shut for more than 50 days and had been ordered to stay closed until at least June 6, pending environmental clearances.

Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert Birsel and Martin Howell

Kalyan Dev’s debut film gets a perfect title- ‘Vijetha’

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May
25

Refrain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks, name calling or inciting hatred against any community. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines by marking them offensive. Let’s work together to keep the conversation civil.

HIDE

Alibaba Security Researcher Can Now Jailbreak iOS 11.3 With Cydia

Posted Posted by Admin in News     Comments Comments Off on Alibaba Security Researcher Can Now Jailbreak iOS 11.3 With Cydia
May
25
Jailbreak iOS 11.3 With Cydia
Image source: Min(Spark) Zheng/Twitter

Min Zheng, a Chinese hacker and security researcher, has successfully the ability to jailbreak iOS 11.3 by installing Cydia.

Zheng had previously demonstrated an ability to get root shell access on the platform, but a recent tweet from the security research demonstrates that he was able to achieve read and write access in order to jailbreak iOS 11.3 and install Cydia.

Unfortunately for those in the community looking to jailbreak iOS 11.3, Zheng is fully cooperating with Apple when it comes to patching out the problems. As a security researcher for Alibaba, his interest is more in testing and increasing security rather than blowing operating systems wide open and allowing people to jailbreak iOS 11.3 at will.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that it’s now confirmed possible to install Cydia – it’s just a matter of the jailbreaking community reaching the solution on their own rather than with the assistance of Zheng. Any fixes from Apple will come in a patch, and if they choose not to install that patch they can work on the ability to jailbreak iOS 11.3.

The tweet, included below, comes with the words “This time. It’s a real JB now,” confirming that Zheng was able to bypass some of the problems the community was having previously and actually install Cydia on the device. As you can see in the tweet, two screenshots show Cydia running on the iPhone home screen as well as a picture with root shell access showing the existence of Cydia.app in the /Applications folder.

It’s exciting to see that the ability to jailbreak iOS 11.3 is there, but it’s important to keep expectations in check. Min Zheng is a security professional that was able to install Cydia using complex methods that used a lot of work in the command line – a process that isn’t exactly feasible for the average device owner.

While jailbreak developers may be able to streamline the process moving forward, the fact that Zheng is cooperating with Apple rather than with the jailbreaking community is certainly going to make the process take longer and it will make it more difficult moving forward into new builds of the operating system.

There’s a possibility that Zheng will eventually make his work public, but given his previous statements and his current cooperation with Apple it’s extremely unlikely that his specific command line work will ever come to light. The ability to jailbreak iOS 11.3 will have to come from the community themselves.

As far as the next public jailbreak goes, we expect to see one for iOS 11.2.6 before people are able to jailbreak iOS 11.3. The iOS 11.3 fix should follow shortly thereafter, but only if Ian Beer’s exploit is able to be turned into a usable jailbreak.

Unfortunately, Apple has already closed the iOS 11.3 signing window, meaning that it will be basically impossible for people to downgrade moving forward. If you haven’t yet upgraded and are looking to jailbreak iOS 11.3, make sure you don’t accidentally move to the latest operating system. As Zheng cooperates with Apple, it may be more difficult to move forward than we think.

Whats Popular Today Thu 24 May

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May
24

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Live Report: England v Pakistan

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May
24

Welcome to our new rolling report. This page will keep you up to date throughout the match, with updates from our team at the ground, stats and graphics, end-of-session reports, and more (if you don’t see the blog immediately, please hit refresh). But don’t worry, you can still follow traditional ball-by-ball commentary as well

Deadly protests land a blow to Indian resources magnate Agarwal’s ambitions

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May
24

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal often talks about his dream to turn his London-listed company Vedanta Resources into a global resources giant. He has already bought stakes in big mining companies, such as Anglo American Plc, and says he plans to spend at least $1 billion on investments in Africa.

People pelt stones during a protest against the construction of a copper smelter by Vedanta Resources from the road, in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, India in this still image from May 22, 2018 video footage. Video taken May 22, 2018. ANI via REUTERS TV

But in his home country, where he rose from a scrap dealer to a metals magnate, court-imposed fines, costly plant and mine shutdowns, and public protests against his businesses for allegedly polluting the environment, have held back his lofty ambitions and hurt the company’s valuation, according to bankers and analysts.

The struggle with opponents took a particularly ugly turn on Tuesday when police opened fire on protesters seeking to shut down Vedanta’s copper smelter in the southern Indian port city of Thoothukudi, killing 10. Two more people died on Wednesday, and the state government has transferred senior police and administrative officials from the city.

Vedanta said in a statement it regretted the incidents and was working with authorities to ensure the safety of its employees, facilities and the surrounding community.

“This can lead to investors becoming more conscious against investing in the company which can hurt long term sustainability of some of the businesses,” said Shriram Subramanian, managing director of proxy advisory firm InGovern, adding that the violence in southern India suggested they weren’t listening to concerns about the environment and health issues.

Agarwal, who holds a 71.4 percent stake in Vedanta, told the Financial Times in an interview published on Wednesday that he plans to step back from running the company.

TEMPORARY HALT

Agarwal said on Twitter earlier this month that his company was the victim of a foreign conspiracy aimed at keeping India reliant on imports. He did not name any specific countries or companies.

“Certain vested interests will prefer India to remain import dependent and use our country as their market, making India spend hard-earned foreign exchange and lose millions of jobs,” he said, in reference to a court-ordered stoppage of iron ore mining in Goa state, the campaign against the Thoothukudi copper plant and a shortage of bauxite for an aluminium smelter.

A court on Wednesday put a temporary halt to Vedanta’s much-delayed plan to nearly double capacity at the Thoothukudi plant, which would make it one of the biggest copper smelters in the world.

Residents and environmental activists say emissions from the plant, India’s second biggest, are polluting the air and water, affecting people’s health.

Vedanta has denied the allegations and said it was working on restarting the plant as soon as possible. Analysts say copper contributes around 8 percent to the consolidated operating profit of the company.

Investors sent Vedanta’s London-listed shares down 7 percent in afternoon trading on Wednesday despite the company posting better-than-expected full-year results. Its Indian stock closed down more than 6 percent.

At about eight times, the company has the lowest price to earnings ratio among eight top London-listed resources companies including Anglo American, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Glencore, according to Thomson Reuters SmartEstimate.

Vedanta analysts are split on their recommendation on the stock: five rate it ‘strong buy’ or ‘buy’, while three have placed ‘hold’ on the stock and two have tagged it a ‘sell’.

ELEMENT OF FEAR

Several investment bankers said that Vedanta’s management did have a strong reputation for turning around businesses and keeping costs under control.

“Still, there is always an element of fear among the investors,” said an international banker in reference to the various controversies it is entangled in. The banker, who has previously advised the company, declined to be named.

Vedanta, whose acquisitive journey started with Agarwal buying a copper company in 1979, now has businesses spread across the world, including India, Africa, Ireland and Australia. It was the first Indian company to list in London in 2003.

But that listing meant it became the target of a sustained campaign by a London-registered environmental group called Foil Vedanta, which holds demonstrations outside Vedanta’s annual meetings in London.

The government-run Norwegian Pension Fund dropped Vedanta from its investment portfolio in 2007, partly because of environmental issues in India. In 2014, the fund dropped Vedanta’s then unit, Sesa Sterlite.

Norway’s Council on Ethics, which makes recommendations to the pension fund, said it did a “particularly thorough assessment of Vedanta Resources in 2016 and found grounds to stay away from it. Edinburgh-based investment fund Martin Currie has also sold off its Vedanta shares on ethical grounds.

In Thoothukudi, Vedanta’s copper plant has been shut for more than 50 days and will remain closed until at least June 6 because the local pollution regulator has said the facility is not complying with environmental rules.

Several cases have been filed against the plant since it started in 1996, and India’s top court in 2013 fined it about $18 million for breaking environmental laws.

The next year, Vedanta lost a battle to mine bauxite in the a lushly forested area, Niyamgiri hills in Odisha state, that the Dongria Kondh tribe there considers sacred.

The rejection forced the company to not only import expensive bauxite for an aluminium plant in the same state but to also delay its expansion.

FILE PHOTO: A bird flies past the logo of Vedanta installed on the facade of its headquarters in Mumbai, India January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Promit Mukherjee; Additional reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan in Thoothukudi; Edited by Martin Howell

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