Regulations
Goa mines' green clearance to be restored: Javadekar

Javadekar said the Goa government will now have to decide on ore extraction limits for individuals mines in the state, so that extraction does not exceed the cap of 20 million tonnes

 

In a major development which could bring cheer to Goa's multi-crore-rupee mining sector, Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said his ministry has decided to revoke its 2012 order that held in abeyance environment clearances granted to all mining leases operating then in Goa.
 
Speaking to reporters at Parliament House, Javadekar said the Goa government will now have to decide on ore extraction limits for individuals mine in the state, so that extraction does not exceed the cap of 20 million tonnes set by the Supreme Court for all mining output generated in the state.
 
"We have decided to lift the abeyance of mines in Goa by following all Supreme Court directives. The ministry, in an earlier decision in the wake of the MB Shah Commission report, had suspended all mining. That had created unemployment and created a loss of income to the country," he said.
 
Incidentally, a committee formed to examine the environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports for individual mining leases, which was the basis on which environment clearances were granted, said in a study that nearly all the EIAs were bogus and did not reflect a lot of flora, fauna and natural resources present on the ground.
 
Javadekar's announcement came on the eve of zila panchayat elections in Goa. Sustained mining closure has been one of the major poll issues.
 
In September 2012, then environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan during a visit to Goa suspended environment clearances granted to 93 mining leases at the time.
 
Her decision came only days after then chief minister Manohar Parrrikar had already temporarily suspended mining operations following the revelation of a Rs35,000-crore mining scam by the Justice MB Shah Commission.
 
Goa's mining sector has been non-operational for more than two years because of the three successive actions, which include temporary suspension of mining permission by the then Parrikar-state government, a revocation of green clearances by the Natarajan-led union ministry, and then a subsequent ban by the Supreme Court following the mammoth mining scam.
 
While the state government lifted the temporary suspension last year, and the Supreme Court revoked the ban in April 2014, the ministry's decision now clears the last technical hurdle in resumption of mining.
 
According to Defence Minister and former Goa chief minister Parrikar, who was also present during the brief interaction with Javadekar, it was now up to the mining industry players to ensure resumption of mining at the earliest.
 
"Now it is up to the mining industry to get the required air and water pollution permissions and start," Parrikar said.
 
Javdekar added: "We have cleared the last hurdle for resumption of mining. It is up to the (mining) industry now."
 

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SEBI to take action against companies with no woman director
With just a fortnight left to meet the deadline, SEBI has written to more than 160 among the top 500 listed companies to ensure compliance
 
Market regulator Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will take 'necessary' action against listed companies, which fail to appoint at least one woman director on their Boards by the end of this month.
 
Jayant Sinha, minister of state for finance, informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that "SEBI will take necessary action when the compliance position by companies is known after 31 March 2015".
 
The market regulator had issued guidelines in February last year asking companies to appoint at least one woman director on their boards by 1 October 2014 which was later relaxed to 1 April 2015.
 
According to an estimate, nearly one-third of the top-500 listed companies do not have any female representation on their respective Boards.
 
With just a fortnight left to meet the deadline, SEBI has written to more than 160 such companies to ensure compliance.
 
After SEBI's direction in February last year, many companies had stepped up efforts to have women directors on their Boards and nearly 500 female members were nominated to the Boards till December 2014, although many of them happen to be family members of the promoters.
 
Still, a large number of companies are yet to comply.
 
The norms were finalised by the regulator after detailed discussions were held between SEBI and concerned stakeholders for over a year and involve stronger regulations for listed companies than those prescribed under the Companies Act for non-listed entities.
 
These include clarifications on rules relating to the appointment and qualification of directors as well as independent directors, matters relating to related party transactions, and rules governing meetings of Board and its powers.
 

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COMMENTS

R Balakrishnan

2 years ago

lol And who will take action against SEBI? Jayant Sinha, those who live in glass houses, shouldn't.

Sugar mills facing closure due to disparity in prices
The price of sugar, both in the domestic market and the international market even with the export incentive, does not make the whole business viable. No wonder, several large sugar mills are seriously considering closure as an option due to this disparity in prices
 
According to Abinash Verma, Director General of Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), the sugar mills are continuing to be under terrible stress due to the increasing burden of arrear dues to farmers, which has crossed Rs15,000 crore so far, and may go beyond Rs17,000 crore by the end of this month. The backlog of last year to cane growers is said to be over Rs2,600 crore.
 
In the meantime, the global sugar prices have also fallen, and, after many delays, petitions and protests, at last the government agreed to an export incentive of Rs4,000 per tonne for raw sugar.
By the time the Indian government announced this incentive, and permitted the export of 1.4 million tonnes, not only the international prices have fallen, but our competitors, like Brazil and Thailand, have now their own sugar to offer in the market.  
 
Because of this change in the international market, even the Rs4,000 per tonne incentive offered has become unworkable, and an additional Rs1,500 may help in making some exports. So far, in spite of the clearance for 1.4 million tonne exports, only 18,000 tonnes appear to have been committed, as per press reports.
 
No one, particularly in the government, seems to realise the irony of mills having to pay a mandated price for sugarcane purchase, accepting what is offered by the farmers, while the sugar prices are determined by the market forces. 
 
Sugar production is expected to be between 26.5 and 27 million tonnes (mt), as against the earlier estimate of 25 mt, thus leaving a surplus of 3 million. Domestic consumption is around 24.8 mt. This is in addition to the stock that has been carried forward from the last season.
Verma from ISMA echoes the feeling of being the most conversant with the sugar industry by saying that the problems faced by both cane growers and mills need a permanent, workable, long term solution. There is a need to link the cane price to sugar content. The "link-formula" recommended by the C Rangarajan Committee is collecting dust and not made applicable on a practical basis. This is likely to resolve many issues that have been plaguing the industry. The government should introduce this linkage-formula, and modify it later, if need be.
 
Most of the sugar mills are in a financial squeeze.  Banks are hesitant to give working capital, and by continuing to crush the cane, as they come to their door steps, the mills are taking the liability to pay, sooner or later!  The price of sugar, both in the domestic market and the international market even with the export incentive, does not make the whole business viable!
 
Press reports indicate that several large sugar mills are seriously considering closure as an option due to this disparity in prices. A reference can be made to Mawana Sugar Mills and Modi Sugar Mills in UP, who have informed their situation to Principal Secretary of State for Sugarcane Development, their plans to do so. Others seem to be sitting on the fence to see how the government reacts.
 
In a recent press conference, held by Indian Sugar Mills Association, they have made some serious suggestions and have reiterated that, prima facie, the difference between the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) and State Advised Price (SAP) should be met the relative state concerned. As reported, earlier in these very columns, ISMA has suggested that the government must create a buffer stock of say 2 million tonnes of sugar, so as to mop it up from the market, to make it available through the PDS - Public Distribution System.
 
Additionally, ISMA feels that it is time some serious thought is given to this industry in regard to financial restructuring, conversion of working capital to term loans, rescheduling of payments besides offering interest free loans to the industry. These would help revive the industry which is in dire straits with huge arrears to farmers and banks. Though the export market is dull at the moment, the incentive of Rs4,000 per tonne needs to be increased by Rs1,500 and also extended to white sugar. They have sought an incentive of Rs7/8 per litre of ethanol or removal of central excise duty on fuel grade ethanol, which, they feel would absorb 1 to 2 million tonnes of sugar in the market.
 
Also, sugar mills having ethanol production capacity will need to supply 25% of their alcohol production as ethanol for blending programme to be eligible for the export incentives. The tender for supply of ethanol by OMCs is likely to come out soon. Why not bring this supply also as a product that can be brought under the umbrella of DGS&D contract and eliminate the need to go for tenders every now and then?
 
On the whole, it is time the government organised a workshop on this industry to sort out the various issues that have been a hindrance in growth!  
 
(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.)

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COMMENTS

Veeresh Malik

2 years ago

Sugar is sociologically a very destructive crop. Farmers who grow sugar are unable to grow anything else for their own consumption or for cash crops thus placing themselves in debt as sugar mills delay payments for one reason or the other.

It is good to observe that some parts of India known as "sugar belt" are moving away to less water intensive crops, especially and also because of climate change, which have shorter growth-cycles.

In any case, much of the white sugar goes into the terrible soft drink industry, which does not need any subsidy for sure.

SuchindranathAiyerS

2 years ago

It is not just the Sugar Industry. No Indian industry can bear the burden of Indian taxation and the overheads of India governance from reservations and extortion (corruption)to education fostered incompetence and legally fomented non-accountability and remain internationally competitive. The only things that can survive in India in the present state of inefficiency and ineffectiveness are monopolies that have been created by Government regulation or India's many boundaries such as education, hospitals, services that must be locally availed such as restaurants, DRDO, PSUs like Air India, HAL, HMT, ITI, BEL, BHEL, BGML, BEML and of course, "Government" and "Courts".

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