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Greens reject list of landfill sites

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NEW DELHI: While North and South corporations have each announced five tentative sanitary landfill sites, environmentalists have protested against the choice of areas.

In south, one option is 450 acres of Bhatti Mines against which forest officials have reservations. In the north, two of the five options are located near Palla village which is part of the original Yamuna flood plain.

A proposal to use part of the Bhatti Mines as a landfill site has been shot down once in 2011 by the Delhi forest department and the environment ministry. This time, too, sources say, attempts to use the forest land as a landfill site will be thwarted. “We understand that the municipal agency needs land but as long as it is on forest area, the plan will not be supported,” said a source.

NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan has written to the LG, protesting against the proposal for landfill sites in north. Its’ convener Manoj Misra said, “We are alarmed that two of the sites are proposed in Zone P II in north Delhi near Palla village. This zone being largely rural should be maintained to meet the city’s growing need of food and water,” he said.

The two proposed sites are a 42.5 acre land on Bakhtawarpur Road and a 62.5 acre land between Palla village and Haryana border. “The land’s proximity to the river give it an excellent potential for massive water storages, both underground in aquifers and for raising off-channel reservoirs where part of flood flows in river Yamuna could be stored for later use. A landfill site here may pollute the ground water,” said Misra.

Corporation officials say they haven’t finalized any site yet and are awaiting suggestions from the forest and environment department. “We want 200acre of land. It will be more convenient if we get land at different places,” said P K Gupta, commissioner, North corporation.

Courtesy: THE TIMES OF INDIA

Mining above 10 hectares needs green nod

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The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has decided that all mining projects coming up in the State in area above 10 hectares should get its environmental clearance.

The mining lobby had been exerting pressure on the government to issue an order that projects coming up in areas less than 25 hectares need not apply for environmental clearance. Till recently, area less than 5 hectares didn’t need environment clearance for mining operations.

As per the latest guidelines issued by the SEIAA, mining area less than 10 hectares will be classified as category B2 (environment clearance not required). Mining area above 10 hectares in the State will be classified as category B1 (require clearance).

In Tamil Nadu, mining area below 25 hectares come under the B2 category while area above 25 hectares is classified as category B1. The SEIAA in Andhra Pradesh has classified area below 25 hectares as B2 category and area above that as category B1. In Uttar Pradesh, area below 20 hectares comes under the B2 category while the area above it is classified as category B1.

The SEIAA Kerala decided to fix category B1 as mining area having more than 10 hectares considering the State’s particular scenario, with high density of population and scarcity of land. The authority also took into note the anticipated adverse impact of mining projects while fixing these categories.

SEIAA has also added certain new clauses to the general conditions of environmental clearance for mining projects. No mining operations should be carried out at places having a slope greater than 45 degrees. Blasting should be done in a controlled manner as specified by the regulations of explosives department or any other agency concerned.

The workers on the site should be provided with the required protective equipment, including ear muffs and helmet. At least 10 per cent out of the total excavated pit area should be retained as water storage areas.

Barbed metal wire fencing around the mining area/abandoned quarry should be provided with a height of not less than 5 feet to check accidents and to prevent waste dumping.

The SEIAA Kerala has cleared 15 mining proposals of the total 52 applications since its inception. Seven projects were denied clearance for violating various general conditions. The remaining applications were deferred for not meeting the guidelines proposed by the authority.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Ravi returns to CBI, Coalgate probe

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NEW DELHI After facing flak from the Supreme Court, the federal government has re-appointed senior IPS officer Ravi Kant in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to complete the probe in the high-profile coal blocks allocation case. 

Ravi Kant, a 1998-batch IPS officer of Odisha cadre, will return to Intelligence Bureau after completion of his assignment. 

“Approval of the competent authority is conveyed for reappointment of Ravi Kant, IPS as DIG CBI for the purpose of enquiry and investigation into allocation of Coal Blocks. 

“Ravi Kant, IPS will be reverted back to IB on completion of assigned duties in CBI,” said an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which acts as nodal department for administrative matters of the investigating agency. 

The DoPT’s directive has been sent to CBI director for necessary action. 

 While hearing a case related to coal blocks allocation, the Supreme Court had on May 8 asked the Centre and the CBI to take immediate steps to repatriate Ravi Kant, who was the investigating officer in the multi-million scam. 

 He was sent to Intelligence Bureau on promotion as Deputy Inspector General (DIG) from Superintendent of Police (SP). 

The CBI had, however, said the officer had completed his tenure in the agency and left because of “family reasons” even though he was given an extension.  CBI has so far registered 11 first information reports in the coal blocks allocation scam.

Courtesy: Press Trust of India

A day after Green Tribunal Notice: Betel vines demolished, trees spared

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After the National Green Tribunal issued a status quo, the district administration has stopped felling trees in Gobindapur. However, land acquisition by dismantling betel vines has not been stopped.

Arguing that the Tribunal’s notification has called for halt to felling of trees in proposed Posco area, not demolition of betel vines, the district administration has dismantled betel vines and dug trench in Gobindapur for land acquisition.

In-charge Special Land Acquisition Officer Sarat Kumar Purohit said, “The administration respects the verdict of Green Tribunal and therefore we have completely stopped tree cutting in Gobindapur.”

“As the betel vines do not come under forest cover, we have dismantled nearly 12 vines by disbursing Rs 15.01 lakh to their owners as compensation. Our team has also dug 30 metres of trench on Wednesday,” added Purohit.

Meanwhile, the anti-Posco activists have rebuilt betel vines protesting illegal demolition of their vines on Wednesday. The activists have also threatened to commit mass suicide if forcible demolition of betel vines continues. Protesting the administration’s stand on the Tribunal’s order, the activists of Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS) conducted a meeting at Patanahat and vowed to intensify agitation against forcible demolition of betel vines.

Jharana Jena, wife of Manas Jena, who was killed in bomb explosion at Patana, attempted suicide after the administration demolished her betel vines forcibly. Earlier, another betel vine owner had also attempted suicide for the same cause. PPSS woman leader Manorama Khatua said, “Anti-Posco activists have vowed to commit mass suicide if forcible demolition continues.”

Anti-Posco activists led by Abhiram Swain and three others, whose betel vines were demolished without their consent, have rebuilt their vines.

Official sources said the district administration has demolished nearly 350 betel vines of pro-Posco families while 70 to 80 vines of anti-Posco activists still exist in the area of the proposed Posco plant. Those will also be demolished as the administration had served notice in this regard last week.

Courtesy: The New Indian Express

End state monopoly in coal mining sector

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The Coal Regulatory Authority Bill, cleared by the group of ministers appointed for the purpose, is unlikely to serve the purpose for which it was meant. By taking away two crucial functions from the authority — pricing of coal and allocation of coal blocks — it has been reduced to a toothless organisation. Under these circumstances, if the people concerned have lost interest in the bill, they cannot be blamed. Coalgate might have prompted the government to think of the bill but the need for reforms in the coal sector has been felt for a long time. In fact, it is the least reformed sector in the country, so much so that the systems followed in it are outdated.

Most problems facing the sector can be traced to the monopoly the public sector Coal India Limited and its subsidiaries enjoy. India has vast coal reserves but these companies have not been able to serve the needs of the primary consumers of coal like the power sector. One of the perennial complaints of the industries using coal as a raw material is about the quality of coal the CIL subsidiaries supply. Though there is clear evidence that the policy of nationalisation of coal has failed, there has been no attempt whatsoever to address the problems the failure has caused. Small wonder that today many Indian companies find it economical to import coal!

Monopoly in any form is unacceptable and detrimental to public interest. CIL has not been able to modernise mining of coal and it follows traditional, labour-intensive practices. The lack of competition is responsible for CIL’s slackness. Thus, there is a strong case for liberalising the coal sector and allowing the private sector to make a foray into it. However welcome the strict implementation of environmental law is, it should not be at the cost of meeting the needs of the power and other industries, which are dependent on coal. Speedy environmental clearances for mining and quicker transport of coal from the mines to the user industries need to be ensured.

Courtesy: The New Indian Express

India gives coal regulator coal pricing powers

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KOLKATA – The Indian government has decided to vest powers of pricing, including a pass-through mechanism, with the proposed Coal Regulatory Authority, overriding opposition from producers.

Arriving at a consensus between the Power and Coal Ministries, which had taken divergent stands on pricing, the government decided to vest with the regulator, powers over the supply, quality and pricing of coal.

The Coal Regulatory Authority Bill would now be forwarded to the Cabinet for approval and then sent to Parliament, an official said.

The development marked a shift, as government had earlier sided with the Coal Ministry in opposing pricing powers to the regulator.

The most significant issue which was settled by a Group of Ministers convened to determine the powers of the regulator, was enabling it to frame a pass-through mechanism under which the price of coal supplied to thermal power generating companies would factor in the cost of coal sourced from both domestic mines and imports.

This pass-through mechanism would eliminate elements of subsidy in a pool price mechanism which averaged the price of domestic and imported coal.

Earlier last month, the government had failed to finalise a pool price mechanism, facing opposition from coal producers, including Coal India Limited (CIL), claiming miners would have to bear losses on their balance sheets if higher-priced imported coal was to be averaged with domestic production.

The regulator, which would have an appellate body attached to it, would be the arbitrator on fuel supply agreements between coal producers and thermal power companies, fixing guidelines for price revisions, ensuring transparency in e-auctions, and governing coal trading and allocation of coal reserves for standalone as well as captive mines, the official said.

Significantly, the speedy setting up of a regulator was necessitated by the prolonged disputes between CIL, which accounts for over 80% of domestic supplies, and NTPC Limited, the country largest thermal power generator.

Recently, NTPC held back payment of $178-million owed to CIL claiming poor coal supplied to it was of poor quality. At the same time, CIL had been dragging its feet in concluding fuel supply agreements with various NTPC power plants on the grounds that penalties for supply shortfalls being insisted on by NTPC were too harsh.

Courtesy: mining weekly

Tribunal wants segregation plant at Okhla

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Another scientific report has found that the waste-to-energy plant running at Okhla in South Delhi is causing pollution beyond permissible limits.

Rahul Choudhary, a local commissioner appointed by the National Green Tribunal, said, “On Tuesday, the Central Pollution Control Board filed its report on stack and ambient air quality samples in which it found pollutants beyond permissible limits.”

“The tribunal asked the firm running the plant to consider setting up a segregation plant,” he said. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation and the New Delhi Municipal Council are supposed to segregate wet waste for composting, pick out recyclables and send only the non-hazardous, dry waste to the plant.

But residents allege this hardly happens; with the job of segregation mostly left to the “illegal” ragpickers.

Earlier, Choudhary had found in his report that the collection of bottom ash and fly ash inside the plant was not being regulated as per norms, which could turn hazardous. Residents of Sukhdev Vihar in Okhla had been saying said the plant burns wastes and releases harmful ‘dioxins’ into the air and sought closure of the firm. Vimal Monga, a resident, said, “As part of a monitoring programme started by residents, Chennai-based Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives has collected samples and found the pollution level to be life-threatening.”

The matter would be heard next on July 22.

Courtesy: hindustantimes

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