Citizens' Issues
SC pulls up PMO officials in Cauvery water dispute case

The apex court expressed surprise that PMO officials have been seeking convenient dates from the Committee members, instead of convenience of the Prime Minister 

 
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed displeasure over the failure of officials from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to hold a meeting of the committee, headed by the Prime Minister, to resolve the Cauvery water-sharing dispute between southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, reports PTI.
 
A bench of justices DK Jain and Madan B Lokur expressed surprise when it was told that the meeting had not been held till now as the PMO officials had been seeking convenient dates from the committee members, which includes the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.
 
The bench observed whether "the Prime Minister is to see his own convenience or that of others." 
 
"Sometimes we are short of words when it involves the highest functionary of the government," the bench remarked and adjourned the matter to Friday, 7th September.
 
The court had earlier asked the government to convene a meeting of the committee to resolve the dispute.
 
The Centre on 30th August had told the apex court that it would soon convene a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) headed by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to consider Tamil Nadu's plea for release of 25.373 thousand million cubic feet (tmfct) of water from Cauvery river to save the state's standing crops.
 
In its affidavit, the Centre had said it had written to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry on the proposed meeting for their consent as the meeting was subject to the availability of the quorum.
 
Once the consents of the states are obtained, the date would be fixed for the same, the Centre had stated. 
 
On 13th August, Tamil Nadu had made a plea to the apex court for a direction to the Centre for convening the CRA meeting immediately to perform its statutory obligations and approve the distress-sharing formula evolved by the Cauvery Monitoring Committee for sharing of flows of the river Cauvery in view of the prevailing "distress" situation in Tamil Nadu.
 
Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa has also written letters to the Prime Minister for the CRA meet.
 
In its application, Tamil Nadu had said during the current irrigation year 2012-2013, though the south west monsoon is not vigorous in the Cauvery catchment of Karnataka, the state of Karnataka has received 21.9 tmcft of inflow in its four major reservoirs up to 20th July.
 
"But it has not shared the water with Tamil Nadu. Instead it started to build the storages in its 4 major reservoirs and letting water in the canals of Krishna Raja Sagar for irrigation with the result that the state of Tamil Nadu has been deprived of its due share of water as per the interim order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal," the application said.
 
It had complained that over the years, Karnataka did not agree to the distress sharing formula evolved by the Central Water Commission/Cauvery Monitoring Committee, with the result that it "resorts to impounding all the flows in its reservoirs depriving the state of Tamil Nadu in getting its legitimate flows, more so during the lean years, thus aggravating the distress situation." 
 
Tamil Nadu had said "during the current irrigation season 2012-13 also, the southwest monsoon has not been active so far in the Catchment area of Cauvery, with the result that there is a distress situation and since there is no agreed formula for sharing the flows in such distress years, the state is put to hardship."
 

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A total of 90 coal blocks face de-allocation threat

The government has already issued de-allocation notices to these 58 blocks -- 33 allotted to government firms and 25 to private entities. Besides these, there are 32 more whose cases would be reviewed by the Inter-Ministerial Group

 
New Delhi: Amid the raging row over coal block allocation in India, as many as 90 mines face the threat of de-allocation as these are under scanner for non-production, reports PTI.
 
Of these, 58 coal blocks are in the immediate focus with an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) set to decide their fate Monday.
 
The government has already issued de-allocation notices to these 58 blocks -- 33 allotted to government firms and 25 to private entities. Besides these, there are 32 more whose cases would be reviewed by the IMG in its subsequent meetings, sources said.
 
These 32 cases had been reviewed by the IMG in its previous meeting, they said.
 
Indian Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal had said Sunday that any number of coal blocks could be cancelled if found that allocation was made in a wrongful manner or failed to start production in the stipulated time frame.
 
"On the basis of the IMG report, the allocations which were made in a wrongful manner or those allottees who have failed to start production of coal in a time-bound manner may face action. Any number of coal blocks can be cancelled," Jaiswal had said.
 
Of the total 195 coal blocks allocated to both public and private firms over a decade, only 30 mines have begun production as per the government records.
 
In its recent report tabled in Parliament, the CAG stated that undue benefits to the tune of Rs1.86 lakh crore were extended to private firms on account of allocation of 57 mines to them without auction.
 
The IMG comprising representatives from different Ministries may recommend cancellation of such blocks, which did not comply to the development norms. 
 
The sources said the firms in their replies furnished to the Ministry have cited various reasons, including land acquisition problems, delays in forestry and environment clearances and law and order problems for delays in developing the blocks.
 
The government in April began the process of issuing notices to companies that failed to develop the 58 coal blocks within the stipulated time.
 
The notices were issued to firms like Reliance Power's Sasan, Tata Power, Hindalco and Grasim Industries, ArcelorMittal, GVK Power, MMTC and others.
 
In July, the government formed the IMG to review progress of coal blocks allocated to companies for captive use.
 
The government had last year cancelled the allocation of 14 coal mines and one lignite mine to companies, including NTPC and DVC for failure to develop the blocks.
 

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