Cabinet to discuss issue of ‘no-go’ mining areas next week

New Delhi: Amid the Plan panel seeking 'sensible' definition of 'no-go' mining areas, coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal today said the issue will come up before the Cabinet next week to work out a solution, reports PTI.

"We have circulated a cabinet note 15 days back.

Hopefully, it will be taken up by the Cabinet next week for discussion and some way out will be found," Mr Jaiswal told reporters here on the sidelines of a meeting of Parliamentary Standing Committee on safety of mines.

"We have explained in the cabinet note about the impact that how much (coal) production is being affected," Mr Jaiswal said.

ministry of environment and forests Jairam Ramesh has defined 'no-go' areas for mining as those that have over 30% gross forest cover or over 10% weighted forest cover.

As per the guidelines, the mining is allowed only in the 'go' areas.

Due to this classification, 206 coal blocks spread across 4,039 sq km in nine coalfields, involving a production potential of 660 million tonnes (MT), have been designated as 'no go' areas.

Plan Panel deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had said on Wednesday that "if we get a sensible definition of what is 'no-go'...something that is called 'no-go' for now does not have to be 'no-go' forever. But the main point is that they should be flexible."

He had also said, "The criteria that we use to establish what is 'no-go' should be very carefully defined and should be based on some scientific considerations."

The coal ministry, in its note, had said that "all the proposals should be considered for forestry clearance unless these are insurmountable issues on grounds of biodiversity, wildlife reserves and rich forests."

Debarring such big areas with production capacity of 660 million tonnes coal from mining will adversely impact power generation capacity, the coal ministry proposal has argued.

It was also of the view that the country could see a coal shortage of 500 million tonnes in the next few years on account of such a classification.

Such categorisation has also put several existing and upcoming coal mining operations, including captive mines of two ultra mega power projects on bidding in Chhattisgarh and Orissa, under 'no go' besides affecting Coal India's operations.


Many independent directors have quit MFIs fearing persecution: Parekh

Mumbai: HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh has decried Andhra Pradesh government for "hastily" passing a legislation regulating micro lenders, stating many independent directors of microfinance institutions (MFIs) have quit in its aftermath, reports PTI.

The passing of the Andhra Pradesh Microfinance Institutions (Regulation of Moneylending) Act on 15th December has led to "consternation" among independent directors and many of them have resigned fearing arrest, Mr Parekh said in a public lecture on governance at the Indian Merchants' Chamber (IMC) here.

"...the hastily recently-passed AP Act of microfinance has led to consternation among independent directors of certain micro finance agencies and many of them have resigned in the last week under fear of being arrested," he said.

The AP government moved in with a law to regulate MFIs following allegations of suicide by some borrowers in the coastal state due to pressure from collection agents of MFIs.

The legislation has led to wide scepticism among banks which lend to microfinance institutions and a majority of them have stopped fresh loans to MFIs since an ordinance for the act was made public two months ago.

MFIN, an umbrella body of MFIs, had said repayments from borrowers in AP-the biggest MFI market in the country-have stopped and feared a wipe-out of the once sunrise sector.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stepped in yesterday, asking banks to continue funding MFIs in a bid to contain the problem within AP.

Mr Parekh said there should be some distinction between the liabilities of independent directors and executive directors and highlighted the fact that 340 independent directors had resigned from companies after the Satyam scandal, fearing "persecution".

As a solution, Mr Parekh said, "I believe India Inc and the government need to work towards rebuilding a sense of mutual trust."

Mr Parekh's comments come within a fortnight of him expressing reservations on the functioning of administrative machineries following the second generation (2G) scam.

In his speech, Mr Parekh reiterated the stance, saying India Inc has got a feeling of "mistrust" these days and CEOs are fearful of who "could be the next target".

"Where does one draw a line between privacy and right to information?" he asked.

The veteran financial sector expert also asked for more co-ordination in the functioning of government departments.

"Right now ministries function in silos, with little co-ordination. There has to be equilibrium between infrastructure development and environmental considerations.

Mr Parekh also quipped that looking at the burgeoning cases of corruption, India may soon need to start a Supreme Court exclusively for handling corruption cases.

Among other issues, he demanded the installation of chief executives for cities and the need for government to "extricate itself" from running businesses.


Thursday Closing Report: No major movement until 20,200 and 19,900 are broken

The Indian market opened with marginal gains on mixed global cues. The steep rise in the weekly food inflation numbers put the indices under pressure and kept them in a narrow range on both sides of the neutral line till the end of the session.

The market opened with meagre gains, tracking its Asian peers that were mixed this morning. Early gains came in from the broader markets and realty, banking and healthcare stocks. The indices slipped into the red after touching the day's high and were range-bound. However, a sharp rise in the weekly food inflation data put pressure on the market, dragging the indices down.

The post-noon session saw the key indices trading sideways on both sides of the neutral line. The market closed flat with a negative bias, down for the second day in a row.

The Sensex ended at 19,982.88, below its psychological level of 20,000 and down by 32.92 points (0.16%) over its previous close. The index touched a high of 20,076.08 and a low of 19,939.30, intraday. The Nifty settled 4.40 points (0.07%) lower at 5,980. The benchmark touched a high of 6,006.45 and a low of 5,964.60 today.

The market breadth was in favour of the losers today. The Sensex had 20 declining stocks and 10 advancers. The Nifty closed with 34 losers and 16 gainers. Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index declined 0.23%, while the BSE Small-cap index was down 0.13%.

The top Sensex performers were NTPC (up 1.50%), Sterlite Industries (up 0.95%) and Infosys Technologies (up 0.77%). The top losers on the index were Hindalco Industries (down 1.81%), Tata Steel (down 1.61%) and DLF (down 1.26%).

BSE Healthcare (up 0.69%), BSE IT (up 0.27%) and BSE TECk (up 0.18%) were the noteworthy gainers in the sectoral space. BSE Consumer Durables (down 1.11%), BSE Metal (down 0.97%) and BSE Realty (down 0.89%) were among the sectoral losers today.

Markets in Asia ended mostly lower as China enhanced scrutiny of foreign fund inflows into its realty sector in a bid to curb spiralling property prices. This apart, the recent hike in gasoline and diesel prices by the Chinese government, also weighed on investor sentiments.

The Shanghai Composite tanked 0.79%, the Hang Seng declined 0.62%, the Jakarta Composite slid 0.25%, the KLSE Composite shed 0.04% and the Seoul Composite lost 0.03%. Bucking the trend, the Taiwan Weighted gained 0.43%.

Returning to double digits, food inflation rose to 12.13% for the week ended 11th December, the third successive weekly increase, with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee attributing high onion prices as one of the reasons.

The official data released today showed that for the week ended 11th December, food inflation rose by 2.67 percentage points from 9.46%, touching a six-week high.

The US markets continued to make fresh two-year highs on Wednesday, with banking stocks leading the gains on deal news. However, lower-than-expected economic data put a cap on gains. Sales of existing homes rose 5.6% from the previous month to a 4.68 million annual rate, the National Association of Realtors said in Washington. Economists projected sales would rise to a 4.75 million pace. Another report showed the US economy grew at a 2.6% annual rate in the third quarter, more than the previously calculated 2.5% gain and up from a 1.7% rise in the second quarter. The growth was below expectations.

The Dow gained 26.33 points (0.23%) to 11,559.49. The S&P 500 added 4.24 points (0.34%) to 1,258.84. The index climbed above 1,255.08 where it closed just days after Lehman filed for bankruptcy in September 2008. The Nasdaq surged 3.87 points (0.15%) at 2,671.48.

Concerned over the possibility of repayment defaults by microfinance institutions (MFIs) to banks, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked lenders to maintain funding lines to MFIs to prevent the problem from spreading out of Andhra Pradesh.

The bankers informed the RBI that collections by MFIs in Andhra Pradesh have deteriorated considerably and there were some incipient signs of the problem spreading to other states.

Participation by institutional investors in the equities segment on Wednesday was meagre. While foreign institutional investors were net sellers of stocks worth Rs67.57 crore, domestic institutional investors were net buyers totalling Rs98.93 crore.

Pipavav Shipyard (up 1.35%) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Sweden-based SAAB Dynamics AB, part of the Wallenberg Group, for developing products in the defence and aerospace sectors.

This is the first major defence co-production initiative undertaken by the Wallenberg Group in India, which will help it gain a foothold in the Indian Army and Airforce segments.

Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group company Reliance MediaWorks (down 0.42%) has inked a deal with Russian World Studios (RWS) to outsource film restoration, image processing and enhancement work.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed by the Indian company with the private film company RWS and the Obyedinennaya Gosudarstvennaya Kinokollektsia (OGK) during the visit of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

RWS is one of the largest private film companies in the Russian market and has produced several projects, both for TV and the big screen, while OGK is Russia's federal state unitary enterprise that preserves and manages Russian film archives.

Adani Enterprise run Adani Power (APL) (up 1.45%) said that it has synchronised the country's first supercritical unit of 660MW power plant, taking its coal power generation capacity to 1,980MW. APL is setting up a 4620MW coal-fired power plant at Mundra, in Kutch district of Gujarat, consisting of four units of 330MW and five units of 660MW.


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