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Coal scam: Working of PMO officials not above board, says Court

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New Delhi: The working of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) during the UPA regime Monday came in for sharp criticism by a special court which said the functioning of PMO officials “does not appear to be above board” in a coal blocks allocation case.

The court made the observations in an order relating to a case of Nagpur-based Grace Industries Ltd (GIL) in which it directed the CBI to further probe the alleged role and collusion between public servants and company officials.

The court also noted that when there were specific remarks by then Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao that GIL was “not eligible” for allocation of Lohara (east) coal block in Maharashtra, the PMO officials should have highlighted the same before the file was submitted to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was also the Coal Minister at that time.

“In these circumstances, I am constrained to observe that even the working of the officers of PMO also does not appear to be above board. When there was a specific observation by the Minister of State for Coal (Rao) regarding the case of M/s GIL, then at least the officers in PMO ought to have highlighted the said fact before the file was submitted to the Prime Minister,” Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar said. Read more

Courtesy: ZEENEWS.COM

Centre, states get notice on jail wages

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to Centre and state governments on a PIL seeking its direction to fix wage for prison workers on par with minimum wages and to provide eight hours work to all prisoners and under-trials who volunteer for such work.

Agreeing to hear the PIL filed by a Bihar-based NGO Bandi Adhikar Andolan, a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu sought response from the governments. The petitioner alleged that denying reasonable wages to a prisoner for his work amounts to violation of their rights.

“This Court had directed in 1998 to fix the wages of the prisoners according to the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Inspite of the directions of this Court, the prisoners’ wages continue to be much below than the average minimum wage thus violating the constitutional rights of a prisoner,” the petition said. Read more

More link: zeenews.india.comwww.business-standard.com

Courtesy: THE TIMES OF INDIA

‘Concerned people’ vow to protect Western Ghats

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The meet convened by the People for Western Ghats at Peaceful Society, Madkai, unanimously resolved to work for the protection and conservation of the eco-sensitive, biodiversity-rich wildlife corridor in the Western Ghats.

Pandurang Hegde and Kalandand Mani initiated and guided the discussions wherein various issues pertaining to the present status of protection and conservation of the Western Ghats, the concept of responsible tourism, politics behind non-implementation of Western Ghats Environment Expert Panel and efforts which are going on to dilute existing environmental laws were discussed.

Members of the organizing group expressed grave concern over unplanned tourism activities hampering the eco-sensitivity of the biodiversity rich Dudhsagar valley of the Mollem National Park. Read more

Courtesy: The Times of India

Coal Mines / Blocks earmarked for Action (Schedule – III)

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Earmarking of coal mines/blocks for action and allotment under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Second Ordinance, 2014 – reg. See details

Courtesy: Ministry of Coal

JSPL connived with MoC officials for excess mining: CBI alleges

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New Delhi: The Coal Ministry officials had “connived” with the JSPL, headed by former Congress MP Naveen Jindal, allowing it to “illegally” mine nearly three times more coal than permitted, claims a CBI probe into coal block allocation scam.

The agency, which has incorporated these details in the FIR in the case, has alleged that the Ministry officials in connivance with the company not only overlooked the excess mining but also regularised it.

The case relates to the ongoing probe of the CBI into the coal scam in which it had registered an FIR against the company alleging that instead of adhering to the rate of extraction of coal as provided in the approved Mine Plan, the company had resorted to “illegal excess mining”. Read more

Courtesy: zeenews

Modi Cabinet takes ordinance route for reforms

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The Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Monday approved an ordinance to ram through economic reforms to rev up the mining sector, covering iron ore and other non-coal minerals such as bauxite. The ordinance – the seventh cleared by the new government – is part of the Modi administration’s strategy to fast-track reforms and prevent a hostile Opposition from stalling the decision-making process.

It will pave the way for the allocation of iron ore and other non-coal mines through competitive bidding. It will also enable the creation of District Mineral Funds for the welfare of people affected by a given project.

The need to take the ordinance route was felt as the government was finding it difficult to allocate mines, because the mines ministry could not table a Bill in the Winter Session of Parliament to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. Industry body Federation of Indian Mineral Industries, however, has been opposing the auction route, saying it would sound the “death knell” for the industry and may lead to cartelisation and waste. Read more

Courtesy: indiatoday.in

Not Just A Coal Block

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The Hasdeo Arand forests spanning north Chhattisgarh’s Korba and Surguja districts comprise some of central India’s best contiguous tracts of forests, and are home to perennial water sources, rare plants as well as wildlife species, including elephants and leopards.

But this rich eco-system is also under threat because of the vast coal reserves it holds – the Hasdeo Arand Coalfield mapped by the Ministry of Coal has over a billion metric tonnes of proven coal reserves, across an area of 1878 square kilometres. 1502 square kilometres of this consist of forests.

The threat is accentuated with the central government’s swift moves in past weeks to hasten coal mining and acquisition of rural land from individuals and communities by corporations.

After its controversial coal mining bill was not passed in Parliament by the Rajya Sabha, the government re-issued an ordinance on 24 December 2014  to auction lands and forests across over 90 coal blocks (or mines), and to permit the commercial mining of coal. Read more

Courtesy: PARI News

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