P. Sunderarajan

NEW DELHI: A quantum jump in postal services is in the offing with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs giving the green signal for the department to implement the next phase of its computerisation scheme at a cost of Rs. 629 crore.

The programme will involve computerisation and networking of divisional and sub-divisional offices as well as almost all post offices in both urban and rural areas, except Grameen Dak Sewak post offices and those manned by a single person.

Hardware will be upgraded in all the post offices that have already been computerised and postal accountant offices and the software centre at the Postal Training College, Mysore, will be modernised. In all, 6,915 post offices, 2,222 administrative offices and 23 account offices of the Department of Posts will be covered.

Briefing journalists after a CCEA meeting on Wednesday, Home Minister and Cabinet spokesperson P. Chidambaram said the programme would make modern services such as instant money order, e-payment and the facility for making enquiries under the Right to Information Act available to more citizens. This would improve the efficiency of head post offices as more accounts would now reach them from sub-post offices electronically. Transactions would be faster and more reliable.

Chaired by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, holding additional charge of Finance in the absence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the meeting approved the handing over of the Nagpur international airport, named after Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, to a joint venture company comprising the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the State government’s Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) for upgrading it into a world-class, multi-modal passenger and cargo hub.

The AAI was allowed to invest Rs. 4.9 crore. It would hold 49 per cent of the equity and the MADC 51 per cent. The joint venture company would later form another joint venture with a private operator, with the AAI-MADC holding 24 per cent of the equity and the private partner 76 per cent.

The airport would have an inland container terminal, a truck terminal, convention and exhibition centres and facilities for repackaging.

The airport, which falls in the fly zone between Dubai and Bangkok, is expected to become a major hub and start making profits. Ever since the airport was set up, it has been making losses.

At present, the five-hour fly zone between Dubai and Bangkok has no hub in between. Internationally, there are clusters of hub airports within one or two hours of fly zones.

Many countries around India have set up such major hubs, which are drawing huge transit traffic.

The Boeing Company has already announced that it will establish a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility for its aircraft at the Nagpur airport, with an initial investment of $100 million.

Highway four-laning

The CCEA gave the green signal for four-laning of the National Highway stretch between Madhya Pradesh/Maharashtra border and Nagpur at a cost of Rs. 1,205 crore. The project will include construction of a Kamptee-Kanhan and Nagpur bypass. It will be implemented on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis.

Revival package

The meeting gave the nod for a Rs. 652-crore revival package for Instrumentation Limited, Kota.

It includes a cash infusion of Rs. 103 crore, writeoff and waiver of the a Government of India loan and interest amounting to Rs. 504 crore and provision of a government guarantee of Rs. 45 crore.

The company has manufacturing plants for control valves and actuators at Palakkad in Kerala, apart from digital control systems, telecom products, railway signal and other such products in Kota, Rajasthan.