Almost every website of coal mining companies has shown that they have pending cases for clearance with Ministry of Environment & Forests or with some other state departments
India's proven coal reserves are estimated to be over 60 billion tonnes, purportedly the largest in the world, and enough to last for centuries of consumption in the country. And the entire coal production is the monopoly of the government-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL), whose annual production is struggling to each 500 million tonnes (mt), with actuals at about 482 mt.
The demand for coal is growing, due to greater needs for power generation and other industrial demand, poorly let down by inadequate gas supplies, and is expected to grow from current needs of 650 mt to reach 730 mt by 2016-17.
According to Commerce Ministry, during 2012-13, coal imports were valued at $16 billion consisting of 35.6 mt of coking coal and 106.7 mt of steam coal. In the first quarter of 2013-14, 7.9 mt of coking coal and 32.8 mt of steam coal (used for thermal power generation purposes) were imported at a cost of $3.8 billion mostly from Indonesia, Mozambique and Australia.
The indigenous coal supplied by CIL Ltd, with 5,200 kcal/kg gross calorific value commands a rate of Rs1,250 ($20.42) in case of power utilities and defence sectors, while Rs1,690 ($27.60) is charged for other consumers, per tonne. This is nearly 75% lower than international rates for similar varieties.
As against, Asian benchmark thermal coal prices (Newcastle) touched a peak of $139.05 (January 2011) and down now to a low of about $80 (lowest was $76.45) per tonne, due to China, the main importer not showing keen interest and being able to get domestic supplies at Yuan 531 (around $87), according to Bohai-Bay Rim Steam Coal Index.
The fuel shortages in India have reached uncontrollable situation. On one hand domestic production could not be increased and a great number of coal blocks allotted for development are unable to even commence production for a number of reasons, mainly for lack of clearances in one form or another. On the top of these, the current major problem covers the CBI investigation and allegations of improper allotments etc. This has greatly caused fear in the minds of the business community.
Meantime, the Coal Ministry decided to approach the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) to allow fuel supplies to power companies in developing their captive coal blocks and to get CCEA nod to extend tapering linkage beyond three years or till such time they are actually able to start getting coal from these blocks.
All these would only mean one thing: CIL needs to do whatever it can to increase production from its mines. The requirement pattern during 2016-17 is 730 mt, against the production estimate of 550 mt and this war ill balloon upto 850 mt by 2017-22. This means CIL has to work overtime to increase production by 240 mt from 26 new fields in the next 5 years to March 2022, but as it takes a minimum of six years from the date of allocating the field to actual production, this target looks ambitious and beyond the means of CIL. Regrettably, coal imports will have to continue at high cost. CIL needs to invite Coal mine owners from the current import sources if they can enter into joint ventures, and bring in their more sophisticated technology to apply in India.
In the current five year plan (2012-17) target of 80,000 MW of power generation has been set, out of which 71,000 MW is coal based, which is why it is imperative that fuel security be guaranteed, so as to ensure power supply. It appears a joint plan by Planning Commission, Ministry of Power and Coal is likely to be presented to the Prime Minister for his clearance.
Moneylife, in the past, has had the opportunity to study this issue as the situations developed and our own observation has been that there are too many obstacles that come in the form of "clearances" that delay the mining work inordinately. Almost every web site of coal mining companies has shown that they have pending cases for clearance with Ministry of Environment & Forests or with some other state departments.
CIL, and particularly the Coal Ministry has a pivotal role to play in India's power development and it needs to identify each colliery that has such issues pending with MOEF or any other body and have them sorted out. These cannot be kept "secret" or "confidential" any more and the exact reasons for such delays in clearances must be notified in public. The fault may actually lie with the colliery concerned in not "complying" with some basic requirement that may be causing heartburn. Both sides have to sit across the table, one to one basis, and find a solution.
If CIL has some issues with Railways for rakes or they do not have dedicated corridors for transportation of coal mined, they need to be clubbed in for this joint meeting and ensure all the problems are sorted out in unison.
This "clearance" business must stop and in order to ensure we dig our own coal (not the grave by importing coal for huge sums - last $16 billion spent last year and ensure power supply), the government must act seriously and urgently.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
Fifty two persons, including 50 passengers, were travelling in the Volvo bus coming from Bangalore to Hyderabad
Forty five passengers were charred to death as a private luxury bus burst into flames after its fuel tank caught fire in Mahbubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh early on Wednesday.
“Charred bodies of 45 persons have been retrieved from the bus,” Deputy Inspector General (Hyderabad Range) V Naveen Chand said.
The accident occurred at 5.10am when the diesel tank of the Hyderabad-bound bus from Bangalore hit against a culvert near Palem in Mahabubnagar, around 140 km from Hyderabad on Bangalore-Hyderabad highway. Police said, the entire bus was engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes.
Fifty two persons, including 50 passengers, were travelling in the Volvo bus when the accident occurred. Initial reports had said that some software engineers were among the victims.
The bodies have been burnt beyond recognition and it is difficult to ascertain how many of the dead are men or women.
Five passengers, the driver Feroze Khan and cleaner Ayyaz, managed to escape with burn injuries and were undergoing treatment at different hospitals, another police officer said.
Mahabubnagar District Collector Girija Shankar and District SP D Nagendra Kumar, who were supervising the rescue operation, said: “The identification of the deceased will be determined after conducting DNA tests and collecting blood samples of the relatives.
“The mortal remains will be handed over the kin of the deceased after the DNA tests,” the Collector said.
A team of doctors from Gandhi Hospital and Osmania General Hospital and forensic experts from Hyderabad rushed to the spot to conduct post-mortem of the bodies.
The bus started from Bangalore at 11pm last night.
“It seems the bus was travelling at a high speed when its fuel tank hit the roadside culvert and caught fire and got burst.The passengers in the bus were burnt beyond recognition.The entire bus has been gutted,” Wanaparthy DSP, Srinivas Reddy, said.
Police said that they had collected the list of passengers from the private bus operators and found that the online booking list had the names of 33 bus passengers and other travellers may have boarded the bus later.
A passenger, who survived the accident, and is undergoing treatment at a hospital, said: “All passengers were sleeping when the bus caught fire. Some of us tried to break open the window glass, however, we were unable to do so. I immediately moved towards the emergency (exit) window and broke it and managed to jump out of the bus.”
According to the cleaner of the bus, most of the passengers were sleeping when the accident took place.
The cleaner, who has been admitted to a hospital in Hyderabad, said that he was pulled out of the burning bus by the driver of a car passing through the area.
An eyewitness said that he saw the bus going in flames at around 5.15am and within 30 minutes, it was reduced to ashes.
Meanwhile, worried relatives rushed to the office of the bus operator in Lakdi-Ka-Pul area in Hyderabad to collect information.
“When we enquired no details are being given.We are worried. There is no clarity here. They are still collecting the list from their Bangalore office,” some of the relatives said.
During the September quarter, Shriram Transport Finance reported 3% decline in net profit at Rs326.83 crore due to higher finance cost despite significant growth in its revenues
Shriram Transport Finance Co Ltd, India's largest commercial vehicle and leasing and hire purchase financer, reported 3% fall in its net profit during the second quarter as finance cost increased 44%.
For the quarter to end-September, the vehicle financer said its net profit increased to Rs326.83 crore from Rs337.56 crore while its total revenues rose 22% to Rs1,951.33 crore from Rs1,597.56 crore, same period last year.
During the September quarter, its net interest income (NII) increased 4% to Rs905.11 crore from Rs867.77 crore, in same a period year ago. The finance cost of company increased by 44% at Rs990.49 from Rs690.18 crore a year ago period.
Driven by healthy inflows, the company’s total asset under management (AUM) increased 22% at Rs53,781.49 crore for the quarter ended September 2013, compared with Rs44,085.01 crore for the same period last year.
Shriram Transport Finance has declared an interim dividend of 30%.
At 2.35pm Wednesday, Shriram Transport Finance was trading 6.3% higher at Rs608.5 on the BSE, while the 30-share benchmark was marginally up at 21,050.
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