Green Tribunal suspends environmental clearance to Posco

The tribunal pointed out that memorandum of understanding between the Orissa government and Posco states that the project is for production of 12 MTPA but the environment impact assessment report has been prepared only for 4 MTPA steel production in the first phase

New Delhi: The environment clearance granted to Posco's mega steel project in Orissa in January 2011 will remain suspended till the environment ministry reviews it afresh, reports PTI quoting the National Green Tribunal.

"The environment clearance granted on 31 January 2011 to the project shall remain suspended till such review and appraisal is done by the ministry," a bench of tribunal comprising justice CV Ramulu and Devendra Kumar Agarwal held.

The tribunal pointed out that memorandum of understanding between the Orissa government and Posco states that the project is for production of 12 million tonnes of steel per annum (MTPA) but the environment impact assessment (EIA) report has been prepared only for 4 MTPA steel production in the first phase.

It said the MoEF should take "policy decisions" that in projects of such magnitude the EIA should be done for the complete project.

"The EIA should assess it for the full capacity right from the beginning," it said.

The tribunal directed the MoEF to review the clearance afresh and attach "specific conditions" which Posco would have to follow in a "defined timeline".

It also directed the MoEF to set up a special committee to "monitor the compliance to the environment clearance" thus granted.

The bench said appointment of Meena Gupta as chairman of the committee to review the environmental clearance showed "departmental bias" as she had only 'supported' the environment clearance granted to Posco earlier during her tenure as the secretary, the MoEF.

"The entire process was vitiated in the eyes of law," the bench said in this regard.

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Govt will clarify stance on P-Notes taxation: FM

Earlier this week, two associations related to FII investments had written to the finance minister contending that "such onerous taxation or even the risk of such taxation could threaten this important source of capital for India's businesses"

New Delhi: The government on Thursday said it will clarify its position on taxation of investments from overseas, amid foreign institutional investors (FIIs) expressing concern on the proposed anti-tax avoidance rules, reports PTI.

"As and when the position will be clarified, you will come to know, don't worry," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in reply to concerns of FIIs' regarding possible taxation of Participatory Notes (P-Notes).

Participatory Notes are instruments that allow FIIs, which are not registered with market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), to invest in Indian equity market.

The proposals in the Finance Bill 2012 related to taxation of indirect transfers of assets and General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) have created concerns among the foreign investors.

On Wednesday, the Asia Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association (ASIFMA) along with Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) had written to the finance minister contending that "such onerous taxation or even the risk of such taxation could threaten this important source of capital for India's businesses".

Noting that FIIs are carefully evaluating these new tax risks, the letter said the proposals are too broadly worded.

FIIs have assets under custody of more than Rs10 lakh crore or 17% of the capitalisation of India's equity markets. Further, these entities also invest in Indian government and corporate debt, as per the letter.

As per the letter, it appears that market participants have already begun to reduce their positions in India.

In his budget for 2012-13, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has proposed GAAR in order to "counter aggressive tax avoidance schemes, while ensuring that it is used only in appropriate cases, by enabling a review by a GAAR panel".

The fear of GAAR had spooked stock markets which tanked 2% on Monday on concerns that all short-term capital gains made by FII and P-Note investments would be taxed.

As per the Finance Bill, GAAR would be applicable from 1 April 2012.

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MRPL’s production goes on stream from Phase III project

The name plate capacity of MRPL refinery goes up to 15 MMTPA

MRPL (Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited) announced the commissioning of the Crude and Vacuum Distillation Unit III on 29 March 2012. Production goes on stream from the Phase III refinery expansion-cum-upgradation project of MRPL.

Thus, the name plate capacity of MRPL refinery goes up to 15 MMTPA from 11.82 MMTPA.

In the early afternoon, MRPL was trading at around Rs62.40 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 2.63% up from the previous close.

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