Companies & Sectors
Petroleum regulator acts strongly against erring firms; targets Reliance this time

After directing Indraprastha Gas to cut its tariffs and refund the excess amount charged to its customers, PNGRB has now asked the government to cancel the licence granted to RIL’s gas transportation arm

Oil and gas regulator, Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), has asked the government to cancel licence granted to Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure (RGTIL) to lay four gas pipelines, saying the company has been dragging its feet on implementation of the 2,175-km pipelines, reports PTI.

Two months back the petroleum regulator had taken a strong view against Indraprastha Gas and had directed the city gas distributor to refund to consumers the excess amount charged since 2008.

Relogistics Infrastructure (Relog), a subsidiary of Mukesh Ambani's RGTIL, had in 2007-08 won government authorisation to lay Kakinada-Basudebpur-Howrah pipeline, Kakinada-Chennai line, Chennai-Bangalore-Mangalore pipeline and Chennai-Tuticorin line but physical work on these pipelines haven't yet started.

PNGRB has written to the oil ministry recommending cancellation of the authorisation over delays in implementation of the pipelines, a top official of the oil and gas regulator said.

"The board has taken a view of recommending cancellation of authorisation for the four pipelines. That has been communicated to the government," he said, adding the licences were given by the government prior to PNGRB began functional and so its cancellation can now be done only by the ministry.

Relog has cited uncertainty about availability of gas for not building the lines that as per the original authorisation were to be built in three years from date of all approvals. The three year period expires this month.

The official said Relog has also refused to furnish bank guarantee, which can be confiscated if the company did not complete the pipeline within the given timeframe.

In April this year, PNGRB slashed the network tariff and CNG compression charge Indraprastha Gas (IGL) billed on sale of piped cooking gas to households and CNG to automobiles in the national capital, by over 60% and asked the firm to refund to consumers the excess amount charged since 2008.
The Board in an 9th April order fixed IGL's pipeline network tariff at Rs38.58 per million metric British thermal unit (mmBtu) as against Rs104.05 per mmBtu proposed by the company. It also cut compression charge for CNG to Rs2.75 per kg from Rs6.66 per kg submitted by IGL. PNGRB said the new charges would be applicable from 1 April 2008.

While the Delhi High Court has quashed the order of PNGRB against IGL, the Board is set to move the Supreme Court against the high court's decision.


E-waste rules, more is required: Experts

Delhi-based Toxic Links, a key campaigner for sound management of E-waste said without monitoring and or evaluation mechanisms in place, nothing is going to change in the coming days

Managing electronic waste, (E-waste) such as old computers, CDs, television sets, mobiles, etc, is the one of the many environmental concerns of India, today. The E-waste Management and Handling Rules, notified last year by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), came into force from 1 May 2012. While by ministry's estimation, based on the survey carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), e-waste is expected to increase to about 8.00 lakh metric tonnes (MT) by 2012 from 1.47 lakh MT in 2005. Experts feel that more needs to done on the ground.

Delhi-based Toxic Links, in a release, said, "The absence of a detailed guidelines to support implementation could also be a bottleneck in implementation of these rules and requires immediate finalization and adoption by all state pollution control boards. The material is still freely flowing to the informal sector and their operations are running without hindrance. It is unlikely to change much in coming days as there are no monitoring or evaluation mechanisms currently in place from the regulators side."  Toxics Link has been a key campaigner for the policy and sound management of E-waste.

The E-waste rules, talk about the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) where it mandatory for manufacturers of electronic and electrical equipments to collect of e-waste generated from the end of life of their products by setting up collection centres or take back systems either individually or collectively.

Satish Sinha, associate director, Toxics Link, says, "The brand may just get away by setting up only a symbolic collection system, as the rules do not specify the number of collection points or amount of collection. In a vast country like India where you need to reach out to urban as well as rural population, their "token action" will change nothing on ground. The brands have not announced any financial mechanism or incentives for the consumers to attract them to the new eco-friendly system."

However, Greenpeace feels that EPR is the only solution in managing E-waste. "Unless the producers are held liable, it is very difficult to manage the E-waste problem. One has to also look at the fact that there are toxic chemical used while manufacturing such material. Hence disposing them openly can be hazardous. EPR is the correct solution," explained Abhishek Pratap, senior climate campaigner, Greenpeace India.

According to the rules, collection centres are required to obtain authorization from the state pollution control board (SPCB) concerned within three months from the date of commencement of the rules. Similarly, dismantlers and recyclers are required to obtain authorization and registration from the SPCB concerned. E-waste generated is required to be sent to authorized and registered recyclers for environmentally sound disposal.

Collection of E-waste in India is largely done through scrap dealers. Hence monitoring is a huge task. Mr Pratap says, "There were deliberations on this particular issue. Many felt that the implementation of these rules will affect the employability of the scrap dealers. However, we feel that even they should come within the system. Only 5%-7% of the E-waste is collected in India. Scrap dealers are the best source to collect them."


Steel industry doesn’t follow environment norms, says CSE study

The poor environmental performance of the iron and steel sector is a measure of the failure of the regulatory institutions in the country. Nobody is measuring and monitoring its actual performance, says CSE

While the iron and steel sector is known as the back-bone of the Indian economy, having made a substantial contribution to growth, it also among the worst industries when it comes to complying with environmental norms, reveals an analysis by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a Delhi based NGO, released on Monday.

CSE’s Green Rating Project (GRP) analyzed 21 top steelmakers in the country and found that the sector has not been complying with even the weak environmental norms and getting away easily due of lax regulatory and monitoring capabilities.
Bhushan Steels (Dhenkanal, Orissa), Monnet Ispat and Energy (Raigarh, Chhattisgarh), Jayaswal Neco Industries (Raigarh, Chhattisgarh), Steel Authority of India (SAIL)-Bhilai, Durgapur, Bokaro and Burnpur; Welspun Maxsteel (Raigad Maharashtra) were found to be the worst performers under the GRP.

The GRP analyzed 21 companies from iron and steel sector with over 0.5 million tonnes of annual capacity on more than 150 parameters including technology, process efficiency, pollution, occupational health and safety and compliance, etc. The project spanned over the period of two years.

While the overall sector received a 19% GRP mark, only three companies of the total 21 scored over 35% marks and were termed as ‘average’ under GRP. They were Ispat Industries, (Raigad, Maharashtra), Essar Steel (Hazira, Gujarat) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam (RINL or Vizag Steel from Visakhapatnam).

The CSE also pulled up public sector major SAIL for non-transparency and non-compliance. Only SAIL Rourkela participated, while SAIL Bhilai, Durgapur, Bokaro and Burnpur did not participate. They were rated on the basis of available information and were found to be poor in meeting the norms.

However, according to media reports SAIL has rejected the CSE’s findings.
Sunita Narain, director general, CSE says that, “On the eve of World Environment Day, the steel sector rating is a reminder of the challenges, but also the enormous potential of bringing about change.”

She adds, “The poor environmental performance of this sector is a measure of the failure of the regulatory institutions in the country. Nobody is asking this sector to improve its green bottomline. Nobody is measuring and monitoring its actual performance. We should not be surprised.”  

The GRP rating exercise also found that that the iron and steel sector’s energy consumption of 6.6 GCal/tonne is about 50% higher than the global best practice and their process water consumption, excluding power generation, townships and other downstream operations, is a high 3.5 m3/tonne—over three times the global best practice.

“The large-scale plants were found to be highly wasteful on land. They have close to 1,200 hectares (ha) of land per million tonne of installed capacity; a well-designed plant does not need more than 200 ha. If all the residual land with steel plants were to be properly utilised, the industry can produce more than 300 million tonnes steel, not the 75 million tonnes it is producing today. In fact, the steel industry will not need extra land till 2025,” CSE found.

Chandra Bhushan, CSE’s deputy director general and head of the Green Rating Project, points out, “The iron and steel sector’s score is the lowest compared with the other sectors that the GRP has rated previously. In fact, the steel sector not only has the worst pollution compliance record, it was also found to be highly non-transparent and poor on information disclosure.”

He further said, “The future road map for the sector is clear. It will have to reduce its ecological footprints drastically, invest in health and safety of its workers and treat local communities as stakeholders and beneficiaries.”


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