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200 meters down an Indian mine: Why the country’s digging deep for coal

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(CNN)Holding onto the rails of a cage, we descend lower and lower into the coal mine. It is pitch dark, hot and humid. Every now and then a spray of water drizzles on us.

The two-minute ride down seems much longer than that.

Once we reach the bottom of the shaft, we begin a 3.5 kilometer walk underground to the site where miners are excavating coal.

For almost an hour, we trudge through the slush, the light from our safety helmets the only illumination underground. Our protective clothes and faces quickly develop a black layer of coal dust.

Coal is a polluting fossil fuel, which currently powers more than 60% of India. The government produced 462 million tonnes of it last year and is targeting a billion tonnes by 2019.

Typically, the coal that burns in power plants across India is of poor quality, therefore more harmful. India is already the world’s third highest emitter of greenhouse gases.

So why is India so hungry for coal? Read more

Courtesy: cnn

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

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

MMDR Act set for a revamp, government may issue an ordinance to allocate minerals through auctions

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BHUBANESWAR: The Cabinet will soon consider amendments to the mining and minerals development and regulation (MMDR) Act, which will extend the reforms under way in the coal sector to minerals such as iron ore and bauxite, according to industry sources familiar with proposed changes in the 57-year old law. The changes in the MMDR Act, which would stipulate that minerals other than coal, henceforth will also be allocated though auction, may be brought about through an ordinance, according to these sources.

The amendments, as per a draft version, will allow a transfer of mining leases. Further, leases will cover a far larger area,100 sq km instead of 10 sq km, and will be for longer periods, possibly 50 years. Also companies, which have applied for renewals, might be exempted from the auction route for between five and 15 years in case of captive mines for players such as Tata Steel, according to officials at mining companies, who are aware of the proposed changes. A levy linked to royalty that will be paid to district mineral foundations for all districts affected by mining, also figures among the amendments. Read more

Courtesy: The Economic Times

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