Mines ministry favours continuing with iron ore exports

New Delhi: Amid inter-ministerial differences on export of iron ore, the ministry of mines today feared that banning overseas sale of the ore would lead to job loss, but said it would abide by the decision of a Group of Ministers (GoM), reports PTI.

"In 2009-10, only 90 million tonnes of iron ore were consumed out of 218 million tonnes produced. Whereas, 128 million tonnes of iron ore were exported. Thus, there is a surplus production of iron ore," B K Handique, minister of mines, said in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.

Most of the exported iron ore is in the form of iron ore fines for which Indian does not have any technology to process it, the minister said.

"So, in that case what we can do. If we do not export the produced fines, which are generated as part of the mining process, it would result in pollution and impede the mining process.

"Therefore, the immediate need is to develop a technology that can process the iron ore fines. Sudden stoppage of production of iron ore, as a result of ban on exports, would also give a rise to loss of employment," Mr Handique said.

A Group of Ministers has been constituted to consider Draft Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2010 and is likely to submit its recommendations soon.

As far as conflicting views of different ministries are concerned, the minister said there are different views expressed by various ministries based on their perception.

"My ministry has, however, kept an open mind and whatever decision is taken, we shall abide by it. But our only concern is that there must be a technology to process iron ore fines in the country so that we could create an environment for employment," he said.

A member had pointed out that the steel and law ministries were in favour of banning the exports iron ore, while the commerce ministry was for continuing with exports and the finance ministry was neutral on the matter.


Allow 100% FDI in multi-brand retail: Carrefour to govt

New Delhi: Promising to create a strong infrastructure and thousands of jobs in India, French retail major Carrefour has called for allowing 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand stores, and said that the move would ease inflationary pressures, reports PTI.

The government has taken a tentative step to open the politically sensitive sector, which employs 34 million people, to global players with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) releasing a discussion paper on the issue.

"Any cap or restriction on FDI in this sector may result in potential loss of opportunities and avenues of inclusive growth of the retail sector," Carrefour has said in its suggestions recently to the industry ministry.

It, however, said if the government wants staggered opening of the sector, the FDI cap should be kept such that a foreign retailer is "entitled to make a minimum of 51% investment with rights to manage the company...".

The firm said each store of 50,000-60,000 sq ft sales area could provide about 200 direct and 250 indirect jobs.

"As per our estimates, if Carrefour starts its retail operations in India, in about 10 years, we would provide direct and indirect employment opportunities to approximately 20,000 people in the stores itself," the firm said.

While global players like USA's Wal-Mart and German-Metro want the government to completely open the sector to foreign investments, Indian business chambers like Ficci and Assocham favour calibrated liberalisation.

India allows foreign investment only in single-brand retail, with FDI cap of 51%.

Carrefour said, "(FDI in multi-brand retail) will help in controlling the inflation rate by offering more competitive and rationalised prices of products to consumers and reduction of wastage across India's farm-to-fork supply chain," it said.

Inflation in India is hovering at about 10%.

The French firm said that improving supply chain and logistics will enable retailers to enhance overall competitiveness, decrease the prices offered to consumers and reduce wastage.

"Carrefour has plans to built appropriate back-end infrastructure to support the retail operations," it said.

The back-end infrastructure includes contract farming, local sourcing, cold chains and other logistic supports.

As per estimates, India loses fruits and vegetables worth thousands of crore rupees annually due to lack of proper cold chains and back-end infrastructure.


Normal transportation to start in Mumbai harbour by 15th Aug

New Delhi: Mumbai harbour, which has been affected by the recent oil spill, would be cleared for transportation by 15th August, reports PTI.

"There is no oil spill off the Mumbai coast. When I contacted the Indian Coast Guard, they told me that Mumbai harbour would be cleared by 15th August and normal transportation restored," environment minister Jairam Ramesh told Lok Sabha in a suo motu statement.

He said 32 ships would be start moving by August 15. The ships were stranded due to the collision between container vessel MSC Chitra and another vessel Khalija-111.

Mr Ramesh said, "The fishermen have already been issued advisory to avoid fishing activity till 15th August as there are still 200 containers floating on the sea water."

Though this matter comes under the purview of shipping ministry, Mr Ramesh said he was making the statement due to environmental concerns.

He said the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board has collected water samples for testing and already lodged a case under the Environment Protection Act 1986.

However, the entire salvage operation would take 45 days, he added.


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