Mukesh Am­bani fires first shot in data war with Reliance Jio Ir­ri­ga­tion scam: Trouble ahead for Ajit Pawar? STATE CAB­I­NET SCRAPPED 94 TEN­DERS

MO­BILE JUGGERNAUT 4G tele­com net­work’s low-low price of­fer could shake up mo­bile in­dus­try

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­ Ke­taki Ghoge ke­taki.ghoge@hin­dus­tan­

Reliance In­dus­tries launched its new 4G tele­com net­work on Thurs­day, of­fer­ing free voice calls and rock-bot­tom data prices in a po­ten­tial game-changer that could fuel an all-out price war in a mar­ket of 950-odd mil­lion mo­bile sub­scribers in In­dia. RIL chair­man Mukesh Am­bani, In­dia’s rich­est man, an­nounced the launch of Jio at the com­pany’s 42nd an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Mum­bai, vow­ing to “take our na­tion from data short­age to data abun­dance and to en­able a dig­i­tal life for dig­i­tal In­dia”.

“The world’s de­mand for dig­i­tal oxy­gen, that is data, is grow­ing ex­plo­sively. Jio’s mis­sion is to meet this ex­plod­ing need for In­dia…”

The ag­gres­sive pric­ing sent shares of es­tab­lished tele­com play­ers into a nose­dive and brought back mem­o­ries of 2003 when Reliance In­fo­comm, then part of the un­di­vided Reliance group, launched what was called the ‘Mon­soon Hungama’ that of­fered ser­vices bun­dled with hand­sets at Rs501.

Reliance In­fo­comm is now un­der the Reliance Anil Dhirub­hai Am­bani Group headed by Mukesh’s brother TAR­IFF THE NET­WORK Anil Am­bani. “We can trans­form In­dia from a high price data mar­ket to one with the low­est data rates any­where in the world,” said Mukesh Am­bani, promis­ing free voice calls and roam­ing even af­ter the com­mer­cial launch on De­cem­ber 31.

The net­work will be run by a new com­pany called RJio, a dig­i­tal em­pire stretch­ing from phones and hard­ware to home en­ter­tain­ment and cus­tom­made apps, Am­bani said as he ded­i­cated his most am­bi­tious ven­ture to PM Naren­dra Modi’s Dig­i­tal In­dia ini­tia­tive. GET­TING CON­NECTED ADD-ONS

Is for­mer deputy chief min­is­ter Ajit Pawar, ac­cused of mas­sive ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in Ma­ha­rash­tra’s multi-crore ir­ri­ga­tion scam, headed down the same path as his party col­league Ch­ha­gan Bhu­jbal who was ar­rested by the en­force­ment direc­torate (ED) in March?

With the ED set to probe the Rs465-crore money trail af­ter the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau (ACB) this month filed a charge sheet in the Bal­ganga project, the in­di­ca­tions are that things may now get more dif­fi­cult for Pawar. The ACB charge sheet, which HT has ac­cessed, did not name him but had made it clear that the politi­cian had not got a clean chit. It had kept room open for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The ACB charge sheet says the con­trac­tor, FA En­ter­prises was paid Rs465 crore (to­tal cost of the project had been hiked to Rs1220 crore) un­til De­cem­ber 2013 to con­struct the Bal­ganga Dam. The ACB said Rs344.16 crore had been di­verted by the con­trac­tor to nine other com­pa­nies of his in the name of sub con­tract­ing the works. The charge sheet states that many of these com­pa­nies had no prior ex­pe­ri­ence of such work.

The ED will now probe whether this money can be tracked back to any in­di­vid­u­als in­clud­ing politi­cians in­volved in clear­ing the project. Ajit Pawar, who had cleared the project as wa­ter re­sources min­is­ter, has al­ready been ques­tioned in the Bal­ganga project case.

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