Govt's draft guidelines say coal blocks only for end-users

According to the draft guidelines, reserve price will be determined before 22nd December, while bidding fees will be based on geological reserves of coal mines


The Indian government has released draft guidelines for allocation of 74 coal blocks. Under the draft rules, issued by the Ministry of Coal, the Centre plans to allow a successful bidder of coal mines to use coal from the mine allocated to it for any its other plant after prior intimation the government.


The Centre government plans to conduct two-stage bidding under the Coal Mines Special Provisions Ordinance. Qualified bidder in stage one would be asked to put in financial bid under an electronic auctioning process. The bidding would be open to specified end use projects in power, steel and iron, and cement sectors.


"The floor, reserve price metrics being worked out currently by authorities," Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said, adding that idea is to keep a lid on tariff rather than adopt a revenue maximisation approach. The reserve price will be determined before 22nd December, while the bidding fees will be based on geological reserves of coal mines, he added said.


The due date for coal auction is 11 February 2015. The Ministry hopes to complete technical process of allotment by 3rd March and issue letter of award by 16 March 2015.


The tender documents, which are to be issued later, would specify the technical and financial qualification of participants in the auction.


The Supreme Court had in September cancelled 214 coal blocks allocated since 1993, saying the blocks had been given out in an ad-hoc and casual manner.


The NDA government moved an ordinance late in October enabling auctions of some of these blocks. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at the time that an enabling provision would be made later to introduce commercial mining, which would open up the sector to mining companies selling coal to users. However, introduction of commercial mining will require changes to the Coal Mining Nationalisation Act, 1973.


Personal Finance Exclusive
Will 'Jeevan Praman' really help ease life for pensioners?

The Modi government launched Jeevan Praman, an Aadhaar-based digital life certificate for pensioners. But who will bear the cost of biometric reading device required to submit pensioner’s data?


Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Jeevan Praman, a digital life certificate for pensioners, which could eventually benefit over a crore pensioners in the country. However, since this is based on Aadhaar number, several senior citizens may not find it useful because of issues related with registration of the unique identification number and their changing biometrics due to age. But more about it later.


According to the government release, the proposed digital certification will do away with the requirement of a pensioner having to submit a physical life certificate in November each year, in order to ensure continuity of pension being credited into his account. At present, all pensioners have to either personally present themselves before the pension disbursing agency, or submit a life certificate issued by authorities specified by the Central Pension Accounting Office (CPAO).


The Department of Electronics and IT has developed a software application, which will enable the recording of the pensioners' Aadhaar number and biometric details from their mobile device or computer, by plugging in a biometric reading device. Key details of the pensioner, including date, time, and biometric information will be uploaded to a central database on real-time basis, ultimately enabling the pension disbursing agency to access a digital life certificate. This will conclusively establish that the pensioner was alive at the time of authentication, says the release from the government.


Read some lines from the above statement again, especially, " plugging in a biometric reading device." This exactly is the issue with Jeevan Praman certificate. From where and how the pensioner would get this biometric device? And who will bear the cost?


The government release states that the software application system will be made available to pensioners and other stakeholders on a large scale at no extra cost and it can be operated on a personal computer or a smartphone, along with an inexpensive biometric reading device.  


This exactly is the same issue for which Moneylife Foundation and several like-minded non-governmental organisations (NGOs) fought with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for biometric-based ATMs . Luckily, some sense prevailed and the central bank allowed banks to adopt either Euro pay MasterCard Visa (EMV) chip and Pin technology or Aadhaar acceptance as additional factor of authentication for securing the card present payment infrastructure.


Imagine, if cash-rich banks found it difficult to install bio-metric enabled ATMs due to cost, then how would the pensioners get the 'inexpensive biometric reading device'? So far, UIDAI has made no mention of who will bear the cost of biometric POS readers (according to a senior banker, they will cost Rs8,000 each).


Moreover, biometric (fingerprint) identification is not fool proof. It is well known that fingerprints and irises can be faked, and one way to fix that problem could be to use fingerprint readers that detect live fingerprints, and iris readers that detect live irises.


According to JT D'Souza, who analysed the pilot study conducted by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), given the well-known lacunae in our infrastructure and massive demographics, biometrics as an ID will be a guaranteed failure and result in denial of service. He said, "The sum of false acceptance rate and false rejection rate (EER) reveals only part of the problem, which is rejection or acceptance within a short duration of enrolment. The bigger problem is ageing, including health and environment factors, which causes sufficient change to make biometrics completely unusable and requires very frequent re-enrolment."


They say when you give a hammer to a blacksmith he/she will only think in terms of nailing something. The only difference is that here it is the human body which is being nailed. If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. If biometric technologies are at hand, some people under the influence of technology tend to see every problem as an identification problem.


A UIDAI paper states, “Of the 3 modes, fingerprint biometric happens to be the most mature biometric technology in terms of usage, extraction/matching algorithms, standardisation as well as availability of various types of fingerprint capture devices. Iris authentication is a fast emerging technology which can further improve Aadhaar Authentication accuracy and be more inclusive.”


Such absolute faith in biometric technology is based on a misplaced assumption that are parts of human body that does not age, wither and decay with the passage of time. Basic research on whether or not unique biological characteristics of human beings is reliable under all circumstances of life is largely conspicuous by its absence in India and even elsewhere.


Several senior citizens could not register themselves for the Aadhaar due to lack of clear fingerprints. Even, though they had registered, how will the biometric reader identify the person considering ageing may blur fingerprints further? In addition, there are risks like family members taking undue advantage of the situation and may manipulate the digital updating. Who and how these issues would be addressed are to be seen. However, for the time being, advice to pensioners is to go the bank or pension disbursing agency and submit the proof that you are alive without any further delay. Remember, it is November, when pensioners must submit the proof of life to continue receive pension for next one year.




12 months ago

It is better to go to the pension paying offices to sign life certificates as usual because we may talk to our colleagues/know the new facilities & other issues etc and feel inner satisfaction that will not be given by modern machines computers /biometrics which will not recognize our thumb impressions in older ages and yet the cost of bio-metric etc are into consideration of pp-offices
a sbi pensioner
[email protected]

Shahid Khan

2 years ago

So instead of going to your bank you are supposed to find out the Jeeven Praman Centre and travel there with your Aadhar card!! Great convenience I must say

Manoj Vartak

2 years ago

There are two key objections in your article
1- Cost of bio-metric reading device
Firstly, this is an option and not replacement of existing process
Also government has provided Jeevan Pramaan Centers at 40,000 locations,
Those who can not afford the device, can go to these centers.

2- Chances of Fraud due un-reliability of fingerprint capture
So are we saying? that one person registers with Jeevan pramaan and after his death another person with similar fingerprints uses the same Jeevan Pramaan to get pension.
What are the chances of this happening? What are the chances of these two people knowing each other?
Near zero?

Do you have anyone in your family who is a pensioner? I have two
Do you know their pain when they have to go out every few months to declare that they are alive?

The Good thing about this, even if it does not work, is that it shows the Government is concerned about peoples problem and ready to act quickly using the technology

Its very easy to say lets scrap Adhaar because thats what they said in their election campaign, but since we have already spent the money, why not make use of it if possible?

The Government should not be running on emotions, they are taking sensible decisions.


S Hariharan

In Reply to Manoj Vartak 2 years ago

I am also a Pensioner. My wife too. She is 75 with arthritis problem and has to go from Mulund to SBI at Ghatkopar to confirm she is alive! This after the SB a/c rests with Mulund branch. Can;t this requirement be made three yearly or in five years? Also, linking with Aadhaar is not proper as it's constitutionality not valid as not yetconfirmed by the Apex Court and the Parliament is also bypassed.

Babubhai Vaghela

In Reply to Manoj Vartak 2 years ago

I am also a Pensioner. Pensioner is required to go to Bank only once in a year in November and not every few months to confirm h/she is alive.
This frequency can be increased to say three years or five years. However, linking with Aadhaar is not in order as its constitutionality is not confirmed by the Apex Court and the Parliament is also bypassed.


2 years ago

Wait a minute..wasn't aadhar going to be scrapped because of grave irregularities? Now how are they clubbing everything under Aadhar?


Babubhai Vaghela

In Reply to AUROTTAM KUNDU 2 years ago

Criminal Abuse of Power by Govt Functionaries with Tacit Support of Chief Justices of India. National Shame that poor are being coerced and duped to go for Aadhaar while higher judiciary looks sideways.

Babubhai Vaghela

2 years ago

(1) Linking Jeevan Praman with Aadhaar seems contempt of court.
(2) Chances of its misuse by dependents / other for deceased pensioners are high.
(3) This is apparently BJP Govt propaganda with no real financial benefit to majority of pensioners.

Micro finance institutions' funding jumped 172% in September quarter

During the second quarter, total number of loans disbursed by MFIs grew by 35% while average loan amount disbursed per account crossed the Rs15,000 mark


During the September quarter, funding for micro finance institutions (MFIs) grew 172% compared with same quarter last year, while the aggregate gross loan portfolio rose 47% to Rs288.1 billion, says a report.


According to MicroMeter, a comprehensive data compilation published by Micro Finance Institutions Network (MFIN), as on 30th September MFIs provided microcredit to over 27.9 million clients, an increase of 23% over Q2 FY13-14.


Alok Prasad, chief executive of MFIN, said, "My sense is that the current fiscal will not merely push the industry numbers to historic highs but strongly demonstrate what the industry is capable of, particularly in the overall context of financial inclusion agenda of the Indian government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)".


Some of the key highlights of the MicroMeter report include:


  • As of 30 September 2014, MFIs provided microcredit to over 27.9 million clients, an increase of 23% over Q2 FY13-14


  • The aggregate gross loan portfolio (GLP) of MFIs stood at Rs288.1 billion (excluding non-performing portfolio i.e. PAR > 180 days in Andhra Pradesh which is close to Rs29 billion). This represents a year on year growth of 47% over Q2 FY13-14.


  • Disbursements (loan amount) in Q2 FY14-15 increased by 61% compared to Q2 FY13-14

  • Total number of loans disbursed by MFIs grew by 35% in Q2 FY14-15 compared with Q2 FY13-14


  • Funding to MFIs (in Q2 FY14-15) grew by 172% compared with Q2 FY13-14. Funding to group of large MFIs (GLP > Rs5 billion) increased by 187%


  • Portfolio at Risk (PAR) figures (PAR 30, 90, 180) remained under 1% for Q2 FY14-15

  • Average loan amount disbursed per account crossed the Rs15,000 mark during this quarter to reach at Rs15,858


  • MFIs now cover 32 states/union territories


  • MFIs' coverage is now geographically well dispersed with GLP in south at 32%, east at 27%, north at 21% and west at 20%.


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