Financial distress not to compromise on air safety: Patel

New Delhi : In the wake of the Mangalore air disaster which claimed 158 lives, government today said it was in the process of framing fresh regulations to ensure that safety is not compromised on account of financial distress of airlines, reports PTI.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has started evaluating the financial health of the scheduled airlines and whether it has an impact on safety, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said in the Rajya Sabha.

In a statement on a calling attention motion on the Mangalore air crash on 22nd May, Mr Patel said the Court of Inquiry headed by Air Marshal (Retd) BN Gokhale, going into the mishap, is expected to submit its report by 31st August.

"The challenge before the DGCA is to manage phenomenal growth of air traffic without compromising on aviation safety," he said.

The DGCA has decided to carry out a special audit of airports identified as critical on a priority basis and review thoroughly the system and facilities at these aerodromes.

Most of the airlines, including the national carrier Air India, are going through financial crisis with mounting debts and losses.

Recommendations of the audit would be implemented by the Airport Authority of India within a month at 11 airports - Agartala, Calicut, Jammu, Kullu, Latur, Leh, Lengpui, Mangalore, Patna, Port Blair and Shimla, he said.

Mr Patel said the matter would also be taken up with the Defence Ministry with regard to the Defence airports.

The minister said the government is also considering a draft regulation on the concept of Safety Management System recommended by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Moreover, three ICAO technical projects in the area of flight safety, aerodrome standards and navigation services have also been commissioned by the DGCA to enhance its safety oversight capabilities, he said. Mr Patel said a Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council has been set up in the DGCA. It has constituted four different working groups for operations, airworthiness, air navigation and aerodromes.

An Aviation Regulatory Advisory Panel (ARAP) with eight working groups has been established to review existing regulations in airworthiness, flight operations, flight safety, licensing, air transport services and air navigation services, Patel said.

A Surveillance and Enforcement Division has been set up in DGCA for preparation and monitoring of the Annual Surveillance Programme.

He said the DGCA has recently directed the airlines operators to strictly adhere to the standard operating procedures for safe landings.


Mines Ministry prepares a fresh draft of new Mining Bill for GoM

New Delhi : The Mines Ministry is in the process of preparing a fresh draft of a new mining Act that would provide for 26% profit sharing by miners with the local community and setting up of a regulator to check illegal mining, reports PTI.

The revised draft would be sent to a Group of Ministers and upon approval will be introduced in Parliament possibly during the ongoing monsoon session, which will conclude later this month, a top official said here.

In the earlier bill, the provision was made for companies to either share 26 per cent equity or profits with the locals and tribals. However, the equity-sharing proviso was opposed fiercely by the industry, especially chamber FICCI.

"We are working very hard to finalise a fresh draft of Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation Act, 2010 (MMDRA) to be placed before the GoM shortly. It would be our priority to introduce the Bill in the current session of Parliament," Mines Secretary Subramanyam Vijay Kumar told PTI.

The new mining legislation to replace the existing MMDR Act, 1957, will incorporate all the suggestions of the GoM including decision to share 26% of the net profit by mining companies for local community, a senior official said.

The GoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, constituted in June to examine the Bill met twice on 20th July and 30th July and took a decision that 26% of the net profit of the mining company will go towards the local community, which will include every affected person including land-owners and people residing in the area, the official added.    

The modalities for use of the net profit for development of the area will be worked out, he said.

Besides the GoM was of the view that instead of 26% free equity in mining ventures to persons, whose land is to be acquired by corporates, they would be given some shares in a symbolic measure to have a say in the management and decision, the official said adding that this was also being incorporated in the new draft.    

Asked whether the symbolic representation would have any say, another official said, village leaders and active NGOs will get the right to raise their voice right in front of the chiefs of the companies.    

Meanwhile, the date for the GoM meet is yet to be finalised. Besides Mukherjee, it includes Home Minister P Chidambaram, Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, Law Minister V Moily, Mines Minister B K Handique, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Tribal Affairs Minister K Bhuria, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.    

The new Bill seeks to expedite grant of mineral concessions in an expeditious and transparent manner, besides attracting investments in the sector.

Investment of a few lakh crores of rupees has been delayed because of resistance by land owners to part with their assets. Companies like ArcelorMittal, Posco have been facing protests against land acquisition in Orissa and Jharkhand.


Land acquisition for Posco resumes

Paradip (Orissa): Land acquisition for the Rs51,000 crore Posco steel project near here in Jagatsinghpur district resumed today after a day's halt following opposition to it, reports PTI.

"Acquisition of land in some areas under Gada Kujang gram panchayat was resumed with the consent of the affected people," Additional District Magistrate (ADM), Paradip, Saroj K Choudhury said.

The acquisition resumed after talks with local people and betel vines of only cultivators who willingly accepted the compensation package were being acquired, Choudhury said. Over 12 betel vines were demolished at Bhuyanpal and cultivators handed over compensation, Choudhury said.

"Work progressed smoothly with the cooperation of the villagers. There was no opposition," the ADM said. So far around 34 betel vines raised on government land have been acquired.

Around 60 personnel and officials in four teams were engaged in the land acquisition process, officials said. The acquired betel vines were being demolished with bulldozers.

The district administration halted land acquisition yesterday after villagers opposed to it staged a road blockade, preventing officials from entering the area.

Members of the pro-Posco outfit, United Action Committee (UAC) headed by Anadi Rout, who had put up the road blockade yesterday, offered no resistance today, officials said.

UAC appeared to have agreed to allow land acquisition following talks with district administration and elected representatives from the area, with its demand for modification of the method of measuring betel vines apparently being considered by the administration, the sources said.

Yesterday, the UAC had split, with 22 members forming a new group, 'Bhitamati Surakshya Manch' opposing the project.

The new outfit, headed by headed by Nuagaon gram panchayat sarpanch Bhaskar Swain, said it would work to safeguard the interest of the people.


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