A T E S T N E W S
IMG reviewing coal blocks status, no cancellation now: Govt
The government on Monday ruled out cancellation of any coal block allocation till the inter-ministerial group (IMG), constituted to review the issue, submits its report.
“We have constituted the IMG, which is reviewing 58 coal blocks. It has been asked to submit its report in a time-bound manner and latest by September 15. After that we will decide,” Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told reporters.
He added that “the (number of) coal blocks which have been reviewed and issued show-cause notices so far is 58. Of these 58, 20 are such which have been reviewed by the CAG”.
The IMG, which met on Monday, has so far sent notices to owners of 58 coal blocks, including 25 private companies, for failing to develop the mines allotted for captive use within the given time-frame.
Companies like Reliance Power, Tata Power, Hindalco, Grasim Industries, ArcelorMittal, GVK Power and MMTC figure in the list of 58 that have been issued show-cause notices.
The Coal Minister said he has not received any direction from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to expedite and complete the process by September 6.
“I have not received any such instruction,” he said, while maintaining that no coal block was allocated during his tenure.
The government auditor CAG in its recent report had stated that undue benefits to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore were extended to private firms on account of allocation of 57 mines to them and part of it could have been accrued to the national exchequer.
The CBI is also probing criminality in 12 firms which were given licences under the ‘fast track’ category but did not commence mining.
To a particular question, Jaiswal said he has no personal link with Manoj Jaiswal-led Abhijeet Group, which has presence in areas like power, roads, mining, EPC, ferroalloys, steel and cement.
Three coal blocks, allocated to Abhijeet Group’s subsidiary Abhijeet Infrastructure in May, 2005, have come under CAG’s scanner.
“As far as having Jaiswal surname is concerned, then all Jaiswals of the country are my relatives. If they got coal blocks in UPA-I, then why are you trying to connect it with me? No coal block has been given in the UPA-II... the name you are taking have got the blocks first in NDA government,” the Coal Minister said.
According to government records, only 30 mines have begun production out of the total 195 coal blocks allocated to both public and private firms in over a decade.
The government last year had cancelled allocation of 14 coal mines and one lignite mine to companies, including NTPC and Damodar Valley Corporation, for failure to develop blocks. — PTI
No end to Parliament impasse over CAG report on coal
NEW DELHI: With no end to the government-BJP stand-off over CAG report on coal block allocation, the last week of the Monsoon session of Parliament began on Monday with a repeat of stormy scenes raising the possibility of a washout of the remaining four days.
The month-long session, which already lost the previous two weeks to BJP’s unrelenting demand for resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, again saw uproar created by BJP members, leading to wastage of one more day of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
However, amid the din, three bills, including the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, were passed in the Lok Sabha within minutes without any debate.
The other two legislations were the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Amendment Bill, 2011, and the National Highways Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2011.
In the Rajya Sabha, repeated attempts by the government to ensure passage of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2012, were thwarted by Left parties which insisted that these should not be cleared without a debate.
As the two Houses met for the day, it was the repeat of scenes witnessed over the last eight days with BJP members raising slogans and rushing into the Well to demand the Prime Minister’s resignation.
Slogans like “Koyle ki dalali hai, Congress sarkar kali hai (brokerage of coal has turned Congress government black)” and “Pradhan Mantri Isteefa Do (Prime Minister should quit)” rent the air leading to clashes as Congress members countered.
Some UPA members were also seen waving the ‘List of Business’ at the agitating BJP members indicating their opposition to the disruption of the proceedings.
AIADMK members in the Rajya Sabha too shouted slogans seeking resignation of the Prime Minister and targetting the government. Their party colleagues in the Lok Sabha were seen in the aisle raising some slogans.
P Lingam (CPI) was seen with a placard opposing the forthcoming visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to India. In the Rajya Sabha, DMK and the Left displayed placards saying ‘Stop Training the Sri Lankan Army’
Trouble began in the Lok Sabha soon after Speaker Meira Kumar read out the obituary reference to former member Kanshiram Rana.
Amidst the din, both Houses were adjourned till noon.
When the Rajya Sabha reassembled, similar scenes were witnessed with BJP members again rushing to the well leading to adjournment of the House till 2 PM.
In the Lok Sabha, proceedings could be managed for almost 30 minutes amidst the din with the Speaker pushing the passage of the three legislations. She later adjourned the House for the day after the bills were adopted by voice vote.
But in the Rajya Sabha, plans of the government to seek passage of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill 2012 could not succeed because of Left parties’ resistance to clearing the important legislation without any discussion.
This was despite the fact that Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien asked BJP members to go to their seats pleading that the bill be passed as it was very important.
However, as members remained unrelenting, he adjourned the House till 2 PM. It was a similar story when the House re-assembled prompting Mr. Kurien to adjourn the House for the day. — PTI
Cauvery water dispute: SC pulls up PMO officials
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed displeasure over the PMO officials’ failure to hold a meeting of the committee, headed by the Prime Minister, to resolve the Cauvery water-sharing dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
A bench of justices D.K. 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, September 7.
The court had earlier asked the government to convene a meeting of the committee to resolve the dispute.
The Centre on August 30 had told the apex court that it would soon convene a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to consider Tamil Nadu’s plea for release of 25.373 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 August 13, Tamil Nadu had made a plea to the Supreme 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 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of inflow in its four major reservoirs up to July 20.
“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.” — PTI
NZ by 5 wickets to complete series whitewash
BANGALORE: Young Virat Kohli and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni held their nerves under pressure with fighting knocks as India survived a few jitters before scripting a comfortable five-wicket win over New Zealand to complete a 2-0 whitewash on Monday.
Set a target of 261, the Indians were in a spot of bother at 166 for five at one stage with three wickets falling in quick succession before Kohli and skipper MS Dhoni steered the team home at the Chinnaswamy Stadium with an entire day to spare.
Dhoni smashed a six off spinner Jeetan Patel to finish off the match in style and in the process became the most successful captain by winning 14 Test matches at home, eclipsing Mohammed Azharuddin's record of 13 wins.
As the ball sailed over deep mid-wicket, scenes of wild celebrations erupted at the stadium while the Indian players stood at the dressing room to applaud the heroics of Dhoni (48) and Kohli (51), who put on an unbeaten 96-run partnership to guide the team home.
New Zealand made an emphatic comeback in the final session picking up wickets of Sachin Tendulkar, Cheteshwar Pujara and Suresh Raina in quick succession, which jolted the Indian dressing room for a brief period.
Tendulkar lost his middle stump playing across the line on an uneven pitch and Pujara was snapped up by Daniel Flynn at forward short leg.
Raina, who had pulled out India from a hole in the first innings with his magnificent 55, threw his wicket with a reckless shot as he was castled by Patel.
Dhoni and Kohli, however, took the attack to the New Zealand's territory, treating Patel and Tim Southee mercilessly, hitting boundaries at will.
Dhoni and Kohli particularly targeted Patel to unsettle him as he was getting some turn and bounce on the uneven fourth day's wicket.
A six by Dhoni off Patel infact prompted Taylor to bring in paceman Tim Southee who put brakes on the duo for some time.
Earlier, a steady and unbeaten 64-run stand between Pujara and Tendulkar helped India reach 147 for 2 at tea, needing 114 runs more to win on a rain-hit fourth day.
Pujara was batting at 41 and Tendulkar at 23 when the play stopped and did not resume resulting in an early tea break.
Resuming the play after lunch, New Zealand pacers Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell bowled a disciplined line, mostly attacking the stumps making it difficult for Tendulkar and Pujara to score freely.
New Zealand pacers had a plan cut out for Tendulkar, making him play most often, as he was not in great form. They had Tendulkar in a spot of bother after the Mumbaikar survived two loud appeals for an LBW off Boult and Bracewell.
Pujara broke the shackles by plundering 12 runs in an over, dispatching Boult for a couple of exquisite boundaries, taking India's total past 100.
Tendulkar then turned the screws on against Bracewell thumping him for two consecutive boundaries.
Southee, in his second spell after lunch, made most of the uneven bounce in the pitch by swinging and banging in the ball short to make batsmen play awkwardly.
On 37, Pujara got a life as stand-in wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum missed a straightforward stumping chance off Jeetan Patel when India were 134 for two.
Tendulkar unleashed a couple of delectable shots off Southee, first standing tall punching off the backfoot and driving through offside, much to the delight of the boisterous spectators.
Earlier, the openers gave a rollicking start to India's chase before departing in quick succession as the hosts reached 88 for two at lunch.
Virender Sehwag (38) and Gautam Gambhir (34) put the Kiwi attack to sword to give a perfect start to India with their entertaining stand of 77 in under 12 overs.
As India raced to 77, Taylor brought Patel, who did not disappoint the captain. Patel flummoxed the dangerous Sehwag, who struck seven fours and six, with a flighted ball which disturbed his off stump.
After Sehwag's dismissal, the runs dried up for India and that brought New Zealand back into the game. It played on the patience of Gambhir and prompted him to fish outside the off-stump losing his wicket to Boult.
In the morning, New Zealand were skittled out for 248 runs setting India a target of 261 to win.
The New Zealand second innings folded after pacer Zaheer Khan claimed wicket of Patel, who hammered two boundaries of the 16 runs scored in a bid to get some vital runs on the board for Indian batsmen to chase.
Patel was caught behind by Dhoni for a gutsy 22 runs off 27 balls.
Off-spinner R Ashwin was the star bowler for India as he led the attack by scalping five wickets for 69 runs. He was ably supported by Pragyan Ojha and Umesh Yadav, both claimed two wickets each. — PTI