Companies & Sectors
Need to make provisions for extracting coal bed methane in coal block auctions

A reference needs to be made for a quick policy review on coal bed methane -CBM, so that, when the coal blocks are allotted, it is imperative for the allottees to plan work on simultaneous extraction of CBM, when they start the mining operation


In line with the Supreme Court directives, the coal blocks will now be auctioned and the tender documents are expected to be announced on 22nd December. The actual auction process is expected to commence on 11th February and close by 15th March so that this matter can be set to rest. Earnest work on the blocks will start later, once other matters relating to environment and forest clearances are obtained.


In the meantime, the Coal Ministry has proposed a minimum floor price of Rs100 as reserve price for State and Central government enterprises and Rs150 for the rest, when these coal blocks are put up for auction. A Cabinet note, circulated by the Ministry is likely to be taken up on Wednesday, 10 December 2014. Depending upon the grade of coal, which varies from block to block, the final floor price will be determined.


The lowest grade of coal with a rating of 2,200/2,500 Kcal/Kg is available at about Rs550 per tonne and the highest grade at 6,200/7,000 Kcal/kg is priced at Rs5,000 per tonne.


These are based on the Coal India notified price for different types/grades of fuel.


Generally, the power sector uses 5,900 Kcal/kg (gross caloric value) and it is sold around Rs2,590/2,800.


Earlier, 74 blocks were earmarked for auction, but now, 18 more have been added to make a total of 92, as per Coal Secretary, Anil Swarup. The mining plan for these 18 blocks has been approved and they have the potential to produce 100 million tonnes per year. However, environment clearance is not there yet.


The tender document is likely to be released on 22nd December and the auctions are scheduled to start on 11th February and be completed by 15th March 2015. Mines would be allotted on a priority basis to specified end users; out of 92 blocks in the first phase, 57 would be given to power sector. Of these 34 may be earmarked for Central and State power sector undertakings.


While attending a workshop organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce of India (FICCI), Anil Swarup was speaking to the press when he is reported to have made these statements. He conveyed that the Ministry was also working on setting up an electronic platform where, he said, "we will house all the problems and then take it up with the stakeholders". This platform is likely to be operative in the next ten days.


This electronic platform is expected to include all matters relating to land, delays in obtaining forestry and environmental clearances, among others. Expeditious handling and clearances, or even waivers, to these blocks would enable the stakeholders to get on with the job of mining operations with least delay.


It is in this connection, a reference need to be made for a quick policy review on Coal Bed Methane (CBM), so that, when these coal blocks are allotted, it is imperative for the allottees to plan work on SIMULTANEOUS extraction of CBM, when they start the mining operation.


Several countries like the US, Australia have the expertise in this area, and it may be worthwhile for the successful bidder to invite qualified consultants/partners to assist them to tap CBM which will go waste, otherwise!


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)


Portland city of US sues Uber for illegal operation

The city of Portland in Oregon said it is prepared to issue civil and criminal penalties against Uber and its drivers for operating without required permits and inspections 


International taxi-booking service Uber, which has been banned in Delhi after a woman passenger accused one of its drivers of rape, has been sued by the US city of Portland for operating its service illegally.
The city of Portland in Oregon sued Uber, three days after the California-based ride sharing service launched its widely publicised service last Friday.
In its lawsuit, the city of Portland asked the court to declare that the ride provider is subject to city regulations and can’t operate in it until it complies with city rules.
The Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, argued that the city’s main concern is public health and safety.
“Our main concern is public health and safety, because the state invested in the cities the responsibility to do that. Beyond that, though, is the issue of fairness. Taxi cab companies follow rules on public health and safety,” he said.
“So do hotels and restaurants and construction companies and scores of other service providers. Because everyone agrees: good regulations make for a safer community. Uber disagrees, so we’re seeking a court injunction,” Hales said.
After the lawsuit was filed, Transportation Commissioner Steve said the city is prepared to issue civil and criminal penalties against Uber and its drivers for operating without required permits and inspections.
Portland requires permits for drivers and companies that offer taxi or executive sedan service within the city limits.
“If Uber thinks there should be no maximum price on what they charge Portlanders, they should make their case to the Portland City Council. If Uber thinks taxi companies shouldn’t have to serve people with disabilities, they should make their case. If Uber thinks taxis should not have to have proper insurance in case of a crash, they should tell us why we should allow that,” Novick said.
The lawsuit asked the Court to order Uber to stop operating in Portland until it is in compliance with the city’s safety, health and consumer protection rules.
Earlier another city in Oregon – Eugene – had asked Uber to cease its operation.
Uber was banned from operating in Delhi after the passenger accused one of its drivers of rape.
Similarly, Dutch judges banned UberPOP, which allows non-professional drivers to register with Uber via a mobile phone and offer trips in their own cars at half the price of a regular cab.


November car sales up 9.5% to 1.56 lakh units

During November, vehicle sales across categories increased 5.03% to 16.03 lakh units from 15.27 lakh units same month last year


India's domestic passenger car sales during November 2014 increased 9.52%to 1.56 lakh units compared with 1.43 lakh units in the year-ago month.


Motorcycle sales, however declined 3.05% to 8.53 lakh units from 8.80 lakh units in November 2013, says data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).


Total two-wheeler sales in November rose 4.89% to 13.01 lakh units while sales of commercial vehicles rose 9.05% to 47,686 units, SIAM said.


Vehicle sales across categories registered an increase of 5.03% to 16,03,292 units from 15,26,514 units in November 2013, it added.


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