Maharashtra MPs meet PM for international airport at Navi Mumbai

New Delhi : A group of member of parliaments (MPs) from Maharashtra on Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek his intervention in the developing of an airport at Navi Mumbai which has been stalled due to environmental concerns, reports PTI.

"Eight MPs from Mumbai and adjoining areas met the Prime Minister to seek his intervention on the Navi Mumbai airport project. His response was favourable," Congress MP Priya Dutt, who was part of the delegation, told reporters.

The project was earlier cleared by the Union Cabinet but ran into rough weather due to objections over a move to remove mangrove forests in the area.
"The Navi Mumbai airport is needed to decongest traffic at the Mumbai airport," she said.

Navi Mumbai MP Sanjiv Naik (NCP) led the delegation.
Ms Dutt claimed the Prime Minister has promised to get back to them after looking into the details of the issue and the problems afflicting the project.

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Mineral production in May rises 9%

Mumbai: Mineral production in May rose 8.69% compared to the corresponding period last year on account of a steady rise in demand from user industries, the Mines Ministry said on Monday, reports PTI.

"Mineral production in May 2010, was higher by 8.69% as compared to that of the corresponding month of the previous year," the ministry said in a statement here. However, the comparative figures in terms of the quantum of production were not given.

In value terms, mineral production (excluding atomic and minor minerals) in the country during May stood at Rs10,746 crore.

Coal output was the highest in value terms, at Rs3,716 crore followed by Iron ore production at Rs2,620 crore. While petroleum (crude) production stood at Rs1,640 crore, natural gas (utilised) at Rs1,403 crore, lignite at Rs398 crore and limestone at Rs264 crore in May.

"These six minerals together contributed about 93% to the total value of mineral production in May, 2010," it added.

In terms of output, about 405 lakh tonnes of coal was produced in May. Production of lignite stood at 36 lakh tonnes, natural gas (utilised) at 4,483 million cubic metres, petroleum (crude) at 29 lakh tonnes and bauxite at 11.84 lakh tonnes, among others.

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3,725 grape containers stopped at European ports: Anand Sharma

New Delhi: As many as 3,725 containers of Indian grapes exported to European countries were stopped at various ports after authorities there found the fruit to have higher than prescribed limit of pesticide, the Lok Sabha was informed on Monday, reports PTI.

However, following an intervention by Indian officials England and Ireland agreed to accept the consignment of grapes but Germany and Holland stood their ground, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told the Lok Sabha while replying to supplementaries during Question Hour.

Mr Sharma said Indian grapes, shipped between January and April this year, were found to have more than the prescribed 0.05 mg/kg limit of chlormequat, a chemical residue. Chlormequat chloride is commonly called lihocin.

The Indian envoy to the European Commission headquarters in Belgium took up the matter with authorities there arguing that the European Food Safety Authority accepted products having higher than 0.05 mg/kg of chlormequat, he said.

Following the intervention by officials, England and Ireland decided to accept consignments ordered by their importers, he said adding that Germany and Holland stood their ground.

Pratap Sonawane, a BJP member from Dhule, claimed that Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) had failed to inform grape farmers about the change in European norms for export of the fruit.

Mr Sonawane also sought to know whether government would pay compensation to the affected farmers.

States like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are the major exporters of grapes and in order to keep the fruit fresh, chlormequat is used as a preservative.

Lihocin is recommended for grapes in India as it helps protect fruit buds. Though it is meant to be sprayed 45 days after pruning in October, some farmers use it excessively and much later than October leaving high level of residues.

Indian grapes are exported mainly to the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates. In 2008-09, India exported grapes worth Rs408.6 crore, out of which those to the Netherlands amounted to Rs134.4 crore.

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