EGoM likely to meet on 30th Dec to consider diesel, LPG hike

New Delhi: An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) is likely to meet on 30th December to consider hike in diesel and domestic LPG prices, reports PTI.

This comes in the wake of crude oil prices ruling at a two-year high of $93.59 per barrel and widening the gap between retail fuel price and their cost.

“The EGoM meeting has tentatively been proposed for the afternoon of 30th December,” a government official said.

Oil prices today rose to the highest over the past two years supported by a weak dollar and chilly weather in northern Europe and the United States that increased heating fuel demand.

“However, a confirmation of the date is awaited from EGoM head (finance minister Pranab Mukherjee),” he said.

Oil secretary S Sundareshan had yesterday stated that the EGoM will meet before month-end to consider raising diesel and domestic LPG prices.

The EGoM was originally scheduled to meet on Wednesday but has been deferred due to non availability of certain ministers in the grouping.

The ministerial panel may consider a Rs2 per litre hike in diesel prices to narrow the difference between the domestic retail price of the transport fuel and its imported cost.

“The under-recovery (or the revenue oil companies lose) on diesel today stands at Rs6.09 per litre,” the official said.

Besides diesel, the oil firms lose Rs17.72 per litre on PDS kerosene sales and Rs272.19 on (14.2kg) LPG cylinder.

Mr Sundareshan had yesterday stated there was “certainly” a need to raise LPG prices as the expert group on fuel pricing headed by Kirit Parikh had suggested hiking domestic cooking fuel price by Rs100 per cylinder. But rates were increased by only Rs35 per bottle in June.

The necessity of a price increase has arisen because global crude oil (raw material) has climbed to over $93 per barrel from $73-$74 at the time of last revision in June.

Even after last week’s steep Rs2.94-Rs2.96 a litre hike, the retail price of petrol is Rs1.2-Rs1.25 a litre short of the imported cost.

The government had in June this year freed petrol prices, but the state firms, who control 98% of the retail market, continue to informally consult the oil ministry before revising prices.

Also, the government had decided to make diesel price market-determined in stages. “Freeing diesel prices at current crude prices is simply not possible,” the official said.

The three firms are projected to end the fiscal with a Rs68,361 crore revenue loss on account of the sale of diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene below cost.

“They are losing Rs215 crore per day on the sale of the three products. Also there are marginal under-recoveries on petrol,” the official said.


Adequate spectrum availability must for telecom growth: Sibal

New Delhi: Telecom minister Kapil Sibal today said the growth in the sector is essentially centred on adequate spectrum availability, assuring government will make all efforts to provide requisite airwaves to meet the industry’s demand, reports PTI.

“The real problem is that there is scarcity of spectrum and we need to increase the amount of spectrum that can be distributed.

This is because it (spectrum) is a vehicle through which people of India will be empowered and therefore we need a very broad area within the spectrum available that can be put to civilian use,” Mr Sibal told reporters.

His assertion comes a day after he met top telecom honchos who, among other things, expressed concern over the shortage of spectrum.

Yesterday, Mr Sibal had met Sunil Mittal of Bharti, Anil Ambani of RCom and Ratan Tata of TTSL and discussed the current scenario in the sector.

He would also be meeting other players including Idea and Vodafone.

Asked whether he would also hold meetings with new operators, Mr Sibal said “I will meet all the captains of the industry and of course we are dealing with so many things simultaneously.

Lets move forward and the road ahead will be a road of prosperity for the industry... the road ahead will be a level playing field road, a non-discriminatory road the road that will help the economy move forward.”

He further added, “I was very happy that the three captains of the telecom sector whom I met were extremely constructive about their approach and they have been assured of a level playing field.”

The meeting with the industry comes at a time when the sector is grappling with uncertainties with regard to spectrum allocation policies and CBI probe into the decisions taken by telecom ministry between 2001 and 2008.

The idea was to meet the leaders of the telecom sector and find out their concerns.

“It is not in our interest to destroy this sector. It is in our interest to take the industry forward, give them confidence, assure them of a level playing field or a non-discriminatory regime,” he said.

This, he said, was to ensure the “industry can realise its true potential and also mutually share its vision on where the telecom sector should be going, whether its broadband, or its other path of the telecom sector where decisions will have to be taken”.


Plan panel for ‘sensible’ definition of ‘no-go’ mining areas

New Delhi: In a veiled criticism of environment minister Jairam Ramesh’s approach, the Planning Commission today said there should be a “sensible” definition of ‘no-go’ areas where mining activities are prohibited, reports PTI.

“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’ for ever,” Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said on the sidelines of public private partnership (PPP) conclave.

“The criteria that we use to establish what is ‘no-go’ should be very carefully defined and should be based on some scientific considerations,” Mr Ahluwalia said, adding, “But the main point is that they should be flexible.”

He said he had taken up the issue with Mr Ramesh and “he is quite willing to be flexible in what the criteria should be”.

Of late, there have been widespread concerns over the environment ministry’s classification of ‘no-go’ areas, which have hit projects of companies like Hindustan Zinc, UltraTech and Essar group, said such areas need not be excluded from mining activities for ever.

The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has divided mineral bearing regions into ‘go’ and ‘no-go’ areas.

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

Recently, the coal ministry had sought the Cabinet approval for its proposal that mining be allowed in 90% of coal blocks labelled as ‘no-mining’ areas by the environment ministry.

There are 206 coal blocks spread across 4,039 sq km in nine coalfields, with a production potential of 660 million tonnes (MT), which have been designated as ‘no go’ areas.

The coal ministry, in a note to the Cabinet secretary is believed to have sought expeditious forest clearance for all coal blocks under ‘no go’ areas except 10% of them.


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