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‘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

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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

Government acquiring land for ‘public purpose’ to include private hospitals and institutions

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NEW DELHI: In a major boost to private players scouting for land in the country to set up hospitals and educational institutions, the government will go out and acquire land for them under the comprehensive amendment to the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 wherein it has redefined ‘public purpose’ to now include private hospitals and institutions.

The government has also done away with the time limit of five years to start construction of work on the acquired land, enabling public/private players to sit on the acquired land as per their plan through the recently promulgated ordinance issued to bring about changes in the Act.

“We have redefined ‘public purpose’ for which land will be acquired by the government to now include even private hospitals and private educational institutions because the government does not have the capacity to set up big universities, institutes and hospitals on its own,” a senior government official told ET requesting anonymity. Read more

Courtesy: The Economic Times

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