News this week
Rajya Sabha passes MMDR Bill
In a move that will provide some respite to the Narendra Modi Government, Rajya Sabha has passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015. Earlier, the CPM had moved motion to send the select panel's mining report back to the panel for more changes, which was rejected by RS members. Several members of the house had questioned the bill, as mining is a state subject and the Center's taking up the bill is seen as a move to reduce the autonomy of the states... Read more
SAIL undertakes expansion of 5 steel plants
SAIL (Steel Authority of India Ltd) has undertaken modernisation and expansion at five of its steel plants to augment its crude steel production capacity to 21.4 MTPA, Minister of State for Steel and Mines Vishnu Deo Sai said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha. The five integrated steel plants are at Bhilai, Bokaro, Rourkela, Durgapur and Burnpur and a special steel plant at Salem, Minister added. The investment for the current phase of expansion is expected to be Rs. 61,870 crore... Read more
Govt to revoke ban on Goa mining: Report
The ministry of environment on Tuesday has revoked a three-year-old order that resulted in a ban on mining in Goa, according to a media report. The objective of lifting the ban is to resume iron ore extraction in the coastal state, the report further said. In 2012, then environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan had suspended environmental clearances for 93 mining leases in Goa after receiving a report from ex-Supreme Court justice M.B. Shah.
The M.B. Shah committee report highlighted a rampant illegal extraction of the raw material in Goa. The move brought iron ore mining to a halt in the state. It also resulted in unemployment and loss of income. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar said that it has been decided to lift the suspension on mines in Goa, following all Supreme Court directives. He further said that the Goa government will have to decide the ore extraction limits for individual miners so that total mining does not exceed the cap of 20 million tonnes (mt) set by the Supreme court for all output in Goa, the report said.
RBI asks banks not to sell imported gold to jewellers on outright basis
The Reserve Bank of India has asked the banks not to sell gold imported on consignment basis to jewellers on outright basis. On 18th February, the central bank allowed banks to import gold on consignment basis and also allowed them to provide gold metal loans to jewellers. However, banks were found importing gold on consignment basis and selling that to jewellers against full payment.
Now RBI has said that gold imported on consignment basis, where payment is to be made after realisation of money after sale, can be used only for providing gold metal loans to jewellers. The loan is for a tenure of 180 days.
Select Committee recommends unchanged coal bill to Rajya Sabha
Select Panel on Coal Chairperson Anil Dave has experessed confidence that Coal Bill will get support from opposition parties. According to media reports, the Select Committee on coal has proposed that Coal Bill is to be passed by Rajya Sabha without modifications. The report was prepared after six rounds of discussions by the 19-member panel in the last six days.
Coal bill, along with the land acquisition bill has been a big bone of contention between the government and the opposition parties. Coal bill has seen dissent note from the Congress as well as CPI (M). The report of the Select Committee was to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha... Read more
Govt to reduce holding in public sector banks: Jayant Sinha
To ensure that the capital needs of banks are met, the government has decided to reduce its holding in public sector banks to 52%, Parliament was informed on Tuesday. The government holding in these banks would be reduced in a phased manner. “The government will continue to support those banks with alternative strategies which will still not be able to raise capital,” Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. The government has been using different criteria in various years for infusion of capital in PSBs, he said.
Coal blocks: JSPL says no communication from govt on re-examination
Jindal Steel & Power Ltd has stated that as per media reports auction prices of some coal blocks are under re-examination. JSPL has not received any communication from the government with regard to the re-examination of Gare Palma IV/2 & IV/3 or Tara coal blocks which have been won by its subsidiary Jindal Power Limited (JPL). The recent coal block auctions were conducted through a transparent & fair bidding mechanism, which involved two stages of qualification. More than 10 bidders including Jindal Power Limited participated in the auction for each of these mines.
As per the MSTC website JPL was the winning bidder with regard to the above mentioned coal blocks. JSPL believes that the Government will respect the outcome of these successfully conducted auctions.
Black Diamond! States set to raise Rs. 2.07 trillion from coal block auctions
Of the 34 blocks, auctioned in two phases of the coal auction, letters of allocation for eight have not been signed with the successful bidders, according to a media report. The auction process for the eight blocks was completely quickly. However, the winning bids were much lower than those in the first round of auctions. The government is re-examining bids for eight coal blocks, the report added.
Coal Secretary Anil Swarup, in an interview to a TV news channel, said that existing PPAs (power purchase agreements) will be re-opened and tariff will be adjusted downwards in the case of reverse bidding. The coal secretary said that the government would be allotting 43 mines to public sector entities by this weekend. States are expected to raise Rs. 2.07 trillion from the coal block auctions, Swarup said.
Non-power sectors to get coal linkages for 10 yrs
Non-power sectors are expected to get coal linkages for 10 years if the Ministry for Coal decides to auction coal linkages, according to a media report. “For the power sector, the guiding principle shall be tariff minimisation at the Discom (distribution utility) level,” the minutes of the meeting held by the inter-ministerial committee on March 9 said. The inter-ministerial committee is expected to meet again on Friday, the report added. Coal India has appointed SBI Capital Markets as a consultant for suggesting a methodology for the proposed auction, the report added.
Bhushan Steel creditors in talks to restructure debt
Bhushan Steel Ltd.'s creditors are in talks to restructure about Rs 23,000 crore ($3.7 bn) of long-term loans to the Indian steel producer, according to reports. Report said that the lenders led by State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank are discussing extending the tenor of about Rs20,000 crore of local-currency term loans to around 25 years. The company's plan involves changing the terms of the company’s rupee term loans.
Coal auction: Govt to reject two bids of JSPL
The government is expected to reject two bids from Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) for Gare Palma and Tara coal blocks, according to a media report. Auctions for 34 blocks were completed last week with state governments expected to get Rs 2.13 trillion, including royalty, from these mines over the next 30 years. The government has decided to re-examine bids for some coal blocks auctioned in Schedule 3 on the grounds of bid timing and amount. Among these blocks included two blocks won by JSPL, the report added.
An inter-ministerial committee is ready with its findings on the two blocks won by JSPL. The committee has cited "very low" bids and cartelization reasons in its findings and a decision would be taken at the ministerial level, the report further said.
Ambuja Cements plans to invest Rs. 370 Crores in Gare-Palma Sector-IV/8
Ambuja Cements Ltd has announced that the Company has participated in the e-auction of coal blocks conducted by the Nominated Authority of the Ministry of Coal, Government of India and has successfully secured the block at Gare-Palma Sector-IV/8 in the state of Chhattisgarh at a bid price of Rs. 2291/-per MT. The estimated capex for the development of this coal block would be approx Rs. 370 Crores and the mining operation is expected to commence in the year 2018. Although, the Company keeps securing coal from various sources in any form for its day to day operations.
Coal auction: Govt names 8 winners in second lot
The government would give the clarity on the bids received in the coal e-auction in some more days, according to a media report. Of the 34 blocks, auctioned in two phases, letters of allocation for eight have not been signed with the successful bidders, the report added. The ministry of coal said that these blocks had comparatively low bids and would need a re-look by the Nominated Authority (NA) for the re-allocation, the report further said.
Coal Secretary Anil Swarup had earlier tweeted that "Usha Martin is the highest bidder at (Rs) 1804 (per tonne) for Brinda and Sasai coal block." He had also tweeted "Tirumala Industries (is the) highest bidder for Meral coal block at (Rs)727 (per tonne)."
"Hindalco (is the) highest bidder at (Rs) 2127 (per tonne) for Dumri and Jindal Power at (Rs) 126 (per tonne) for Tara coal block," Swarup had tweeted.
Coal Scam! Former PM Manmohan Singh receives summons
The Trial Court summoned Aditya Birla group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and former prime minister Manmohan Singh for April 8 hearing in coal scam, according to a media report.
Manmohan Singh has been summoned as accused by a special court in a coal scam case, the report added. In January, CBI had examined KM Birla in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocation of Talabira-II coal block to his company Hindalco in 2005.
The CBI's questioning of Birla, named as an accused in the FIR, came after a special court raised questions over the closure report filed by the agency which has not been accepted.
Birla was said to have been examined over his meetings with Manmohan Singh, who was also holding charge of coal portfolio.
Govt to wind-up public sector reconstruction board
The Ministry of Heavy Industry & Public Enterprises is expected to wind-up the Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises, according to a media report. BRPSE was established in December 2004 as an advisory body to advise the Government on the strategies for strengthening and restructuring of public sector enterprises.
The Prime Minister's Office has given in-principle approval to the proposal to close down the BRPSE, the report added. The heavy industry ministry has already floated a Cabinet note on the closure of six companies. These include Hindustan Photo Films, Tungabhadra Steel Products Ltd and Hindustan Cables Ltd, the report further said.