No plan to hike fuel prices as of now: Govt
The Government said it has not taken any call on hiking the fuel prices, including petrol, as has been reported in some section of the press in the past couple of days. "There is no immediate proposal to increase the fuel prices including that of petrol," Union Oil Minister Jaipal Reddy said in New Delhi today. "Floating a Cabinet Note is different from taking action," he added. The Government will need to take difficult decision on fuel prices, but not immediately, Reddy said. Shares of state-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) such as Indian Oil Corp. (IOC), BPCL and HPCL fell after Reddy's statements. It is up to the Union Cabinet to decide on the thorny issue of reducing hefty subsidies on diesel, LPG and kerosene, Reddy told reporters in the capital.
"It is my duty as a minister to bring out the facts in front of the Cabinet Committee of Political affairs…don’t know when the CCPA will take up the issue," Reddy said, adding that there is a need to reduce the under-recoveries of OMCs. The hike in all fuel prices has been deferred by a week, according to a report. There were reports that OMCs were going to hike petrol prices by as much as Rs. 5 on Friday, while that of diesel and kerosene will be increased next week. Indian Oil Corp. (IOC) Chairman R.S. Butola said OMCs were currently losing nearly Rs. 6 per litre on petrol sales. "There is a need to raise petrol prices. We are in consultations with our colleagues at other oil marketing companies and stakeholders," Butola said. The OMCs are losing Rs. 5.5bn a day on under-recoveries as a result of higher crude oil prices in the global markets. This works out to a loss of Rs. 17/litre on diesel sales, Rs. 32.7/litre on kerosene sales, and Rs. 347/cylinder on cooking gas sales every day.
Coal scam: CBI files FIRs against 5 companies for alleged cheating
The Central Bureau of Investigation filed First Information Reports (FIRs) for alleged cheating against five companies who were allotted coal blocks, reports said. According to reports, the companies named in the FIRs were AMR Infrastructure, Vimmy Iron, Navbaharat Steel, JLD Yavatmal and JAS Infra. Post filing of the FIR, the CBI would carry raids across the country and also question the companies and government officials. The CBI is probing whether companies misreported their financial or technical qualifications to be granted valuable coal fields in possible collusion with government officials. Reports said that Congress MP Vijay Darda from Maharashtra had links to two of the five companies booked today - he has 7% stake in Jas Infrastructure along with his son, Devendra.
Darda was also associated to JLD Yavatmal, a company named after his father. On Monday, the Coal Ministry said it would, on the direction of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), take up de-allocation of another 32 coal blocks for which notices have been issued over "unsatisfactory progress". Earlier, show-cause notices were issued to the developers of 58 coal blocks after they failed to develop within the stipulated time frame. Reports said citing Coal ministry sources that the government is under pressure because of the shortage of coal and feels no time can be lost in the development of these blocks to meet the domestic coal demand and supply gap. This development comes against the backdrop of the Opposition parties demanding the cancellation of 142 coal block allocations over the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) reports. The CAG reports have estimated "undue benefits" of over Rs.3.06tn to private parties in coal block allocation without bidding, Delhi Airport development and diversion of coal to a power project. The auditor also says that allocation has caused a loss of Rs. 1.86tn to the national exchequer. PM Manmohan Singh is under attack over the allocation during 2005-2009 when he held the coal portfolio. However, a Coal Ministry official had earlier said the blocks, barring a few, were different from those mentioned in the CAG report.
Companies say regulatory hurdles, clearances delaying coal mining
Monsoon session draws to a close; Only 6 bills passed out of 31
It is the last day of the monsoon session of Parliament and the scene is expected to be no different than it was over the last two weeks. Pandemonium ruled the Houses as Opposition parties, led by the BJP, continued to stall Parliament for with their demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation and the cancellation of coal block allocations over the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) reports. They had stated that they would debate on the issue only once the demands were met. The CAG reports have estimated "undue benefits" of over Rs.3.06tn to private parties in coal block allocation without bidding, Delhi Airport development and diversion of coal to a power project. The auditor also says that allocation has caused a loss of Rs. 1.86tn to the national exchequer. The PM is under attack over the allocation during 2005-2009 when he held the coal portfolio. The tragedy was that only six of the 31 bills listed could be passed due to the sheer state of chaos in Parliament. About 80% of work hours and nearly Rs. 100mn of taxpayer's money has been lost.
Among the crucial bills passed in Parliament were the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill and a bill to create six AIIMS-like premier medical institutes across the country. However, bills that could not see the light of day were the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, which sought to bring money laundering for terror funding under the ambit of the Act and term it an act of terrorism, and the bill providing reservation in promotions for Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe government employees. The bill will provide reservation in promotions up to 22.5% for SCs and STs in government jobs. However, when the bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Samajwadi Party (SP) MP Naresh Aggarwal and Bahujan Samaj Party's (BSP) Avtar Singh came to blows. The two MPs were seen pushing each other and exchanging blows as Minister of State in the PM's Office V Narayanasamy quickly tabled the bill. The SP, seen as the friend who bails out the government in sticky situations, was opposed to the bill. The SP wants all quota benefits to be extended to Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Moreover, DMK chief M Karunanidhi has also voiced the same demand. On the other hand, the BSP is its prime mover of the bill.
Issues raised by CAG not being swept under carpet: PM
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