Alleged flouting of forest laws by Vedanta, Posco being probed

New Delhi: Union Ministry of Environment and Forests is investigating alleged violation of forest laws by Vedanta Co and Korean steel maker Posco in Orissa, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Monday, reports PTI.

Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said a four-member expert group is currently in Orissa looking at all cases of alleged violation by Vedanta Co.

An iron ore mining project may comprise both forest and non-forest area and a company can initiate action in non-forest area only after it has received approval for mining in the forest area, he said.

Vedanta Co is being investigated by the ministry for alleged violation of this guideline, he said. "We will take a final call after report of the expert group is received."

Similarly, Posco was under investigation for alleged violation of forest act in acquisition of land for the mega project. "Any violation of forest act will not be tolerated," he said.

On the issue of illegal mining in Karnataka, Mr Ramesh said he had written to Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa on 3rd July pointing out "gross violation (of the Forest Conservation Act) by private iron ore mining companies" in the forest area of Sandur near Bellary.

SB Minerals, Trident Minerals and Veeyam Minerals continued to mine in the area "in complete violation of the Forest Advisory Committee resolution of 10 May 2010, which clearly and explicitly directed that such mining be stopped."

The Chief Minister has "promised to take action against illegal mining," he said pointing that the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 does not empower his ministry to take action.

The Forest Advisory Committee had recommended that the state government should take up a survey and demarcate the area designated under the mining licence.

Mr Ramesh said between 1950 and 1980, four million hectare forest land was converted for non-forest use while during the subsequent 30 years, only one million of forest land was diverted for non-forest purposes.

The Forest Conservation Act does not prohibit use of forest land for non-forest purposes. "It cannot be anybody's case that we stop all mining activities... we stop all development activities," he said, adding the diversion has to be kept barest minimum and should be done under strict conditions and stipulations including compensatory forestation.

"Today honestly, the truth is that regulatory system is not effective enough to stop illegal mining in the country," he said. "The honest truth is that we do not have effective regulatory system to deal with illegal mining."

A group of minister is among other things looking at regulatory deficiencies in dealing with illegal mining.

On alleged illegal mining of iron ore in Obulapuram on the AP-Karnataka border, Mr Ramesh said Survey of India has been asked to do a survey of the disputed territory. Bases on the survey, "if there is any violation of forest conservation act, we will take action."

He said permission for three power projects and one aluminium smelter refinery in Andhra Pradesh has been suspended on the ground of violation of environmental laws.


Bajaj Corp IPO: High growth, high return, high risk

Its competitors have a PE between 22.80-42.90, while Bajaj’s PE works out to 22-23 on a post-issue EPS basis

Hair-oil producer Bajaj Corp Ltd is entering the capital markets with its initial public offering (IPO) to raise Rs283.50 crore-Rs297 crore through a 100% book-building issue. Bajaj Corp Ltd is a part of the Shishir Bajaj Group of companies with operations in consumer goods, sugar, power generation and infrastructure development.

The issue opens today and closes on 4 August 2010 for qualified institutional buyers (QIBs). The bidding for retail and non-institutional investors (NIIs) closes on 5 August 2010. The price band has been fixed at Rs630-Rs660 per share. The company is issuing 45 lakh equity shares of Rs5 each. Retail investors will be allotted 13.50 lakh shares.

The earnings per share (EPS) of Bajaj Corp for the year ended 31 March 2010 stood at Rs33.57. The company will use Rs220 crore over the next three years to fund its future projects and will use Rs50 crore for acquisitions and other strategic initiatives. It plans to launch four products in the personal care segment.

The average price-earnings (PE) ratio of the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry is 32.85. Bajaj's competitors like Marico, Dabur India, Emami and Godrej Consumer have PEs between 29.90- 42.90.

"The company is bringing the issue at a price band of Rs 630-Rs660 per share which will turn into a PE multiple of 22-23 at post-issue EPS on FY10 basis of Rs28.44. The company has posted strong growth in its financials over the past couple of years," said a research report from Hem Securities.

Bajaj Corp recorded net sales of Rs330 crore for the year ended 31 March 2010 with a net profit of Rs83.90 crore, which translates into a net profit margin (NPM) of 25%. It has spent Rs17.90 crore in FY09 and Rs27 crore in FY10 for its advertising and brand-building activities. Its 'Almond Drops' hair oil contributed 92.4% and 93% of its total sales and gross profit respectively for the year ended 31 March 2010. 

Bajaj's competitor Marico reported a net profit of Rs74.70 crore on net sales of Rs790.15 crore, posting NPM of just 9% in the first quarter of the current financial year. Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL) posted a net profit of Rs116.39 crore with net sales of Rs645.28 crore with NPM of 18% in its June quarter results. Dabur, another competitor in the hair-oil space, reported a net profit of Rs107.39 crore with net sales of Rs925 crore, recording NPM of 12%. Emami Limited, which has over 30 brands under its umbrella, had net sales of Rs1,037 crore with a net profit of Rs169.73 crore, (NPM of 16%) for the year ended March 2010. Clearly, Bajaj Corp's net profit margin is among the best in the industry.

According to the Nielsen Retail Audit Report, the 'Almond Drops' brand has increased its market share in the Indian light hair-oil market to 50.3% in FY10, from 46.5% in FY09. Bajaj Corp sells 'Bajaj Almond Drops', 'Amla Shikakai', 'Brahmi Amla' and 'Jasmine Hair Oil' brands. 'Almond Drops' is the flagship product of the company. It also produces oral-care products under the brand name 'Bajaj Black Tooth Powder'.

Kotak Mahindra Capital is the sole lead book running manager to the issue. Rating agency CRISIL has assigned an 'IPO Grade 4' to the issue indicating 'Above Average' fundamentals.   



k a prasanna

6 years ago

Quality issue. No risk involved. Will list at substantial premium to the offer price.

Chinese food: The books are being cooked

The total sum of China's regional GDP figures in the first half of this year was about 1.5 trillion yuan ($220 billion) more than the national figure released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

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