Coal India’s production to fall short of target in FY’11

New Delhi: Coal India (CIL) today said its production will fall short of target by 16 million tonnes (MT) this fiscal and may miss the expected output by 39 MT in 2011-12 due to extension of tough environmental norms, reports PTI.

"The Comprehensive Environmental Pollution Index (CEPI) was supposed to be reviewed in October, but it has been extended till March. As a result, we clearly estimate an impact of 16 million tonnes reduction this year (on production)," Coal India chairman Partha Bhattacharya told reporters here on the sidelines of a Parliamentary Standing Committee meeting.

He added that "if it continues in 2012, then it will affect additional 39 MT, which means it will take away the growth process (of Coal India)".

Coal India has set a production target of 260.5 MT in 2010-11 and it has planned to produce 486.5 MT of coal in 2011-12.

In 2009, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had introduced the CEPI to categorise the environmental quality at given locations and conducted a nation-wide assessment of industrial clusters.

In a notification on 13th January, the MoEF had imposed a temporary moratorium on development projects in 43 clusters labelled critically polluted as they had a CEPI score of more than 70.

In a circular on 26th October, the MOEF further extended the moratorium considering projects located in critically polluted areas or industrial clusters for environment clearance (EC) till 31 March 2011.

"We have taken up this matter with the MOEF... this pollution index is basically on account of release of toxic wastes mostly. We have seen that score (in coal bearing areas) is much less than CEPI's score of 70," Mr Bhattacharya said.

He further said that "mining activity does not relate to release of toxic wastes", adding that "you allow us coal mining but ensure that coal is not consumed in that area because those areas are critically polluted.

If this dispensation is available, then we should be back on track next year. It is a question of priority."

Seven coalfields-Chandrapur, Korba, Dhanbad, Talcher, Singrauli, Asansol and IB Valley of Orissa-fall under the 43 clusters, where the temporary moratorium on developing projects have been imposed.


Ministers discussing FDI liberalisation: Sharma

New Delhi: As government faces heat on skyrocketing onion and vegetable prices, senior ministers have held discussions on a proposal for opening of multi-brand retail stores to the foreign direct investment (FDI) and hiking the FDI limit in defence production, reports PTI.

The discussions on the key issues of liberalising the FDI in the two sectors were held on Wednesday at a meeting attended by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram, defence minister AK Antony and commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma.

"We will be having more meetings. Policy (formation) is dynamic...we are very progressive and forward looking," Mr Sharma told reporters here.

While Mr Sharma said there was no connection between the soaring onion prices and the FDI in multi-brand retail, the demand for opening up the sector has been intensifying, especially in the wake of wide gap between the wholesale and retail prices.

The commerce and industry minister said the government has followed a "progressive approach and the liberalisation (in policy) have been incremental".

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) had floated discussion papers on opening FDI in multi-brand retail and increasing it in defence production. Consultations with the stakeholders have been completed.

Giving an annual review of performance of exports and the industrial production, Mr Sharma said the government would give further incentives to the exporting sectors which are labour intensive and have not fully recovered from the last year's slowdown.

"Reviews have been completed. We will now be making final analysis in the first half of January. Where further incentives are required, (they) will be announced," he said.

India's exports in the April-November period of this fiscal have crossed $140 billion, growing by about 27% and the annual target of $200 billion would be met, he said.

Mr Sharma said the country was on course to doubling its exports by 2014 from 2008-09 level of $168 billion.

The government has already taken various steps to help the export sector by giving incentives for market diversification, he said.

However, the FDI inflows have been lower at $12.5 billion for the April-October period this fiscal against $17.6 billion because of sluggish global recovery and "very weak flow of capital".


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.


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