Former finance and power secretary says recommendations of BK Chaturvedi committee lacks vision and analytical approach to enforce constitutional obligations for protecting environment and resources
The union environment minister's refusal to dilute environmental regulations to allow speedy growth of the coal sector has been welcomed by environmentalists who were concerned that any relaxation of the rules could cause untold damage.
"I am pleasantly surprised that the government has refused to relax the environmental norms to boost coal mining," says EAS Sarma, former finance and power secretary. "Most of the coal mining projects that are happening today are scandalous. I am looking forward to an environmentally sound decision."
Jayanthi Natarajan, union minister for environment and forests, is reported to have specifically rejected the dilution of the forest clearance process at a meeting of a group of ministers on 'go-no go areas' for mining, held on Tuesday. Ms Natarajan, it is said, was supported by home minister P Chidambaram in this matter.
The BK Chaturvedi committee is said to have recommended drastic changes in the process, which includes doing away with public hearing for expansion of existing coal projects and seeking concurrence of gram sabhas for mining. These proposals, if accepted, could weaken the Forest Rights Act and the Forest Conservation Act.
The go-no go areas were demarcated under former environment minister Jairam Ramesh. The matter has been reserved for further consideration. Tribal affairs minister Kishore Chandra Deo will be invited to the next meeting of the group of ministers.
The environment minister has said that scrapping the no-go policy was being pushed by the coal ministry to get quick clearances. She is also believed to have criticised Coal India Limited for extracting only 50 million tonnes of coal annually instead of the 64 billion tonnes promised in their IPO. She also opposed the suggestion to alter the Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index (CEPI) to allow coal mining.
A few days back, Mr Sarma had written to the prime minister, pointing out defects in the functioning of the Chaturvedi committee and its recommendations. "The panel has recommended that the ministry of environment and forests should lift the embargo on coal mining in the notified blocks and that the state forest departments should be given 'incentives' to clear mining projects expeditiously. If this is correct, I am afraid that what Chaturvedi has recommended lacks both vision and an analytical approach to the issue of enforcing the state's constitutional obligation under Article 48A, to conserve the country's environment, particularly its dwindling forest resources," he wrote.
Mr Sarma has written to the government repeatedly, asking for a review of the mining policy. He says, "There is no transparency in granting clearance to mining companies in the forest areas. There is no public bidding and violation of environmental laws is rampant. The impact of such projects on the livelihood of the locals is not considered either by the government or the companies."
The Chaturvedi committee is headed by a planning commission member, and comprises representatives from the coal and finance ministries, but has not environmentalists.
Mr Sarma had said that such a panel cannot gauge the socio-economic implications of such projects. He questioned whether the panel had done any analysis on the energy demands of the country for the future, or considered the rights of forest dwellers, and whether it had consulted local self-government institutions or the ministry of tribal affairs on this matter.
Apart from doing away with the embargo, the Chaturvedi committee has recommended the removal of the condition requiring quorum at meetings of the gram sabhas called to seek consent for projects, to allow 25% expansion of existing projects without public hearing, and further delegation of forest approval powers to the state government.
"The recommendations of Chaturvedi Panel will perhaps open the floodgates to a much larger exploitation of the forest-cum-tribal areas of the country by the mining companies. Chaturvedi seems to have cited a legal opinion to justify his recommendation but any legal opinion will obviously depend on the questions posed to the legal counsel. Instead of arriving at contrived findings to step up coal production, Chaturvedi would have done well by looking at the choices that exist before the country to protect and nurture its forest wealth," Mr Sarma wrote in his letter to the prime minister.
Through Omnesys Nest’ members can connect and trade to various exchanges including the USE and NSE-Currency Segment
United Stock Exchange of India today announced that increasing number of its trading members are opting for trading currency markets deploying algorithmic strategies, and becoming active on the automated trading operations platform NEST from Omnesys Technologies. NEST is a well-accepted computer to computer link (CTCL) platform for trading and the flagship product of Omnesys.
USE, headquartered in Mumbai, is India's newest stock exchange for currency derivatives and has 415 registered trading members and 51 clearing members. USE has a growing market share of about 22% in just 10 months and with the average June volume being Rs1,0394 crore. Just recently, USE empanelled State Bank of India as a clearing and settlement bank.
Bangalore based Omnesys Technologies, is a leading provider of multi-asset trading software and systems and an Independent Software Vendor (ISV). Through Omnesys Nest' members can connect and trade to various exchanges including the USE and NSE-Currency Segment.
The service can now be accessed by the Bank’s debit card holders at 5,998 HDFC Bank ATMs
HDFC Bank has launched a service for its customers whereby they can pay their income tax through an ATM.
With this facility, the Bank has given its vast customer base the freedom from waiting in long queues at counters or logging into the Internet to pay their taxes. The service can now be accessed by the Bank's 115 lakh debit card holders at 5,998 HDFC Bank ATMs across the country. All they need to do is to register with the Bank for this service and the ATM payment option will be activated immediately. After the registration, a customer can visit an HDFC Bank ATM and complete his transaction in a few easy steps. An account holder can register at least two PANs against a single debit card.