FDI in Coal Mining
The Union Cabinet has approved an ordinance to amend two laws to ease mining rules, enabling foreign direct investment (FDI) in coal mining.
- The ordinance to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 has been approved.
- The “end-use restrictions” had been done away with, allowing “anyone to participate in the auction of coal blocks”. The ordinance would strengthen the auction process of mines whose leases are expiring on March 31, 2020.
- It would boost the ease of doing business and increase growth avenues for coal mining.
- Coal India would be strengthened and the government is aiming to achieve production of 1 billion tonnes of coal by 2023-2024.
- It is also expected that the successful strategic buyer may bring in new management/technology/ investment for the growth of the company and may use innovative methods for the development of the business operations of the company, which may generate more employment opportunities.
Re-grassing is mandatory after mining
The Supreme Court has ordered that mining lease holders should be held responsible for re-grassing mined areas, so that biodiversity gets a second chance in these scarred landscapes.
It has ordered the government to include re-grassing of mined areas as a mandatory condition in every mining lease, environmental clearance and mining plan across the country.
- Environmental issues caused by mining include erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, and contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water by chemicals from mining processes, and the effects persist for years.
- An area which is mined results in complete elimination of grass, which in turn denies fodder to the herbivores. The only solution can be re-grassing of such mined areas.
Northeast Gas Grid
The Union Cabinet has approved a ₹5,559 crore viability gap funding for the proposed northeast gas grid.
About Northeast Gas Grid –
- The 1,656-km North-East Natural Gas Pipeline Grid will connect Guwahati in Assam to major cities in the region such as Itanagar, Dimapur, Kohima, Imphal, Aizwal, Agartala, Shillong, Silchar, Gangtok, and Numaligarh.
- The pipeline will enable the supply of piped cooking gas to households and CNG to automobiles, besides fuel to industry.
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved “a viability gap funding of 60% of the project cost”.
- The pipeline grid is to be implemented by the Indradhanush Gas Grid (a Joint Venture of IOCL, ONGC, GAIL, OIL and NRL).