Supreme Court allows use of petcoke by cement industry

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the cement industry to use petroleum coke, a dirtier alternative to coal which had temporarily been banned as pollution levels shot up in Delhi last month. India is the world’s biggest consumer of petroleum coke, better known as petcoke, a dark solid carbon material that emits 11 per cent more greenhouse gas than coal, according to studies.

The Supreme Court in October banned the use of petcoke in and around New Delhi in a bid to clean the air in one of the world’s most polluted cities. But a blanket ban on the sale and use of petcoke could hit the country’s small and medium scale industries, which employ millions of workers and operate on thin margins, businesses say.


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NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) will finally pronounce its orders today on transportation of the extracted coal as well as reopening of coal mining in the state of Meghalaya after three days of hearing and deliberation on the matter.

“The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has heard all parties on the ban and after three days will provide its set of new orders to be carried out tomorrow (Wednesday)”, informed Saurabh Sharma, the advocate for mining contractors.

“The NGT bench has never stated that the ban was a permanent one. They wanted the coal extraction to be regularized through a mining plan. The delay in the submission of the mining plan is the reason for the ban on coal extraction for now. The Bench has also given a deadline of April 16th to the state to submit a mining plan for review”, he added.

Sharma further stated that the state government has been asked to not blame the NGT for its failure to reopen mining in the state.

Meanwhile, the representatives of the Meghalaya government are expected to leave Delhi on Wednesday with the order of the NGT.

However, Sharma informed that the order for transportation of extracted coal may not be given as the NGT wanted the state to complete the mining plan. “There is a feeling that if transportation is extended further, the state may again delay the creation and submission of a mining plan. So there may be disappointment for the transportation of coal that has already been extracted as the NGT tries to pressure the state government in submitting the mining plan”, he said.

As per reports, an amount of more than Rs 30 crores has been paid already, in advance, by coal miners of the state in hope of orders for the transportation of coal. There is however no clarity on whether the money would be returned to the coal miners if the order for transportation is not passed on Wednesday.

The NGT had on April 17 issued orders to the Meghalaya state government to immediately stop rat-hole and other illegal coal mining, as also transportation of coal extracted through such methods. The ban was issued following a complaint by the All Dimasa Students’ Union of the adjoining Dima Hasao district of Assam, which contended that rat-hole mining in Meghalaya had polluted the Kopili river and turned its water poisonous.

On January 29 this year, it directed the Meghalaya government to submit a complete report adopted for the purpose of promoting scientific and permissible mining of coal which was banned last year.


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Coal India to shut 37 mines this fiscal year

NEW DELHI: Coal India Ltd plans to shut 37 underground mines by the end of this fiscal year, two company officials said, despite unions’ plans to strike for three days this month if the decision is not withdrawn.

The coal workers unions, which say they represent more than 400,000 employees of Coal India and closely-held Singareni Collieries Ltd, last month called for a withdrawal of plans to close coal mines and merge the coal miners’ provident fund with the employees’ provident fund, among other things.

The move will lead to the redeployment of about 11,000 workers, who will be transferred to open-cast mines that need greater labour and produce more coal, one of the officials said, adding that the company is negotiating terms with the unions.

“Quite a number of these mines are incurring huge losses, and their production is minuscule. So, Coal India is looking to close mines that are not profitable,” the official said.

Coal India operates 413 mines, of which 207 are underground, 176 are open cast and 30 are mixed.

One of the unions which is close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party and says it has the support of about half of Coal India’s workers said it is negotiating with the company.

“We will jointly close non-profitable underground mines with Coal India once we get favourable terms and more clarity on how workers are going to be redeployed,” said Basant Kumar Rai, vice president of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS).

BMS was one among the five unions which signed a letter seeking seven demands including the withdrawal of mine closure plans. Another union Hind Mazdoor Sabha said it is sticking to its anti-mine closure stance. The other three unions were not immediately for comment.

Read more at Economic Times

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FACT CHECK: Is President Trump Correct That Coal Mines Are Opening?


As he announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, President Trump said he was putting American jobs ahead of the needs and desires of other countries.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” he said Thursday.

Trump said the agreement was “very unfair” for the U.S., especially the U.S. coal industry. And he alluded to some recent good news for the battered industry: the development of new mines.

The Claim
“The mines are starting to open up, having a big opening in two weeks. Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, so many places. A big opening of a brand-new mine. It’s unheard of. For many, many years that hasn’t happened. They asked me if I’d go. I’m going to try.”

Short Answer
Yes, mines are beginning to open up, including a new one in Pennsylvania. But that doesn’t reverse the overall decline of the coal mining industry from its glory days.

Long Answer
The coal mines that are opening up produce a special kind of coal used in steelmaking and are opening largely because of events unrelated to federal policy, experts say. The market for the kind of coal used in electricity — the biggest use for coal — remains down relative to where it was several years ago.


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India, Once a Coal Goliath, Is Fast Turning Green


MUMBAI, India — Just a few years ago, the world watched nervously as India went on a building spree of coal-fired power plants, more than doubling its capacity and claiming that more were needed. Coal output, officials said, would almost triple, to 1.5 billion tons, by 2020.

India’s plans were cited by American critics of the Paris climate accord as proof of the futility of advanced nations trying to limit their carbon output. But now, even as President Trump pulls the United States out of the pact, India has undergone an astonishing turnaround, driven in great part by a steep fall in the cost of solar power.

Experts now say that India not only has no need of any new coal-fired plants for at least a decade, given that existing plants are running below 60 percent of capacity, but that after that it could rely on renewable sources for all its additional power needs.

Rather than building coal-fired plants, it is now canceling many in the early planning stages. And last month, the government lowered its annual production target for coal to 600 million tons from 660 million.


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Coal Miners Move SC Over May 31 Extension


SHILLONG: With the deadline to transport extracted coal ending on May 31, a local coal body has filed a case in the Supreme Court for extending the last date.
In a statement on Saturday, the State Co-ordination Committee of Coal Owners, Miners and Dealers Forum (SCCCOMDF) said it had, through the counsels on May 25, filed an application before the Supreme Court for extension of transportation of extracted coal for another six months.

Earlier, the Apex Court on September 21, 2016, had allowed transportation of the extracted coal till May 31.

The statement said according to State Government sources around 7-8 lakh metric tonnes of extracted coal are yet to be transported.
The chairman of SCCCOMDF, Sonny L Khyriem, said the coal miners could not complete the process of transportation to meet the deadline owing to certain problems. The case is likely to come up for hearing sometime in July.


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NGT ban violation cases pile up on slow trials


The slow progress in trials is leading to piling up of cases related to NGT mining ban violation in Jaintia Hills, the mineral-rich part of the State.

Illegal extraction and transportation of coal in the region continue unrestricted even after the ban on mining by the National Green Tribunal. Violators are arrested by Meghalaya Police from time to time along the national highway. Cases are also registered but trial is in slow progress.

“We have to register a theft case against those who transport goods without valid documents under Section 188 of the IPC as they have also violated Section 144 of the CrPC,” a police officer said. Violators were also arrested and detained by Assam Police from Beltola when they came to sell coal without proper documents and valid transit challans.

On Saturday morning, five trucks were seized for illegal transportation of coal from Jaintia Hills. According to EJH SP S Thamar, action has been taken against the drivers, the helpers and the owners of four trucks.

They were arrested from Moopala (Sutnga Road). “The police are investigating the case and a case against them has been registered,” the SP said.


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Meghalaya Minister Says Mining Policy on Open Cast Mining Not Feasible


Meghalaya Forest and Environment minister Prestone Tynson on Thursday said that framing of mining policy in the context of open cast mining in the coal mining areas of the state is impossible and the only solution to the problem is to seek an exemption for rat hole mining with necessary environmental safeguards from the Centre.

Tynson said that as per experts open cast mining is not possible in the coal mining areas of Meghalaya due to the peculiar nature of mines, and in this regard, a mining policy cannot solve the current problem. According to Tynsong, the open cast mining is not appropriate since the coal seams (layers) are thin, and hence controlled rat hole mining by adopting safe and secure standards ensuring safety of workers and environment is the need of the hour.

The Minister pointed out that the Coal India Limited made an attempt to carry out open cast mining in Garo Hills in the past, but it had to abandon the plan. Tynsong said that the best option is to secure exemption from Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation Act 1957 and Coal Mines Nationalization Act, 1973 through a presidential notification. The State Assembly had earlier adopted a resolution urging the Centre for invoking para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule through a presidential notification to ensure the relevant provisions of the two central mining acts is exempted for operation in Meghalaya.


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NGT Ban on Meghalaya Coal Mining Leading to Closure of Cachar Paper Mill


NGT Ban on Meghalaya Coal Mining Leading to Closure of Cachar Paper Mill

The ban on coal mining in Meghalaya by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is having its affect in other related industries as it is leading to the closure of the Cachar Paper Mill in Panchgram, Assam. The mill is a unit of the Hindustan Paper Corporation and has been facing financial crisis on account non-operation of the mill due to non-availability of coal.

Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Babul Supriyo said in the Lok Sabha yesterday that because of the coal mining ban imposed by the NGT in Meghalaya the Cachar Paper Mill has been operating erratically, leading to huge financial losses as the entire coal requirement of the mill used to come from Meghalaya. The house was also informed that coal cannot be procured from other sources as there is no broad-gauge linkage inside the mill premises, leading to shutting down of the mill every now and then for the last few years, due to shortage of raw material thereby incurring huge losses.

To overcome these challenges, a number of steps are being taken by the Central government, which has provided grant for meeting the operational costs of the mill. The NGT banned coal mining and its transportation last year after a petition was filed against the unscientific methods being carried out in the state which causes widespread pollution, especially in water bodies. The NGT had ruled that adequate precautions must be put in place to ensure safeguard of the environment before mining can restart.


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Coal scam: Supreme Court panel indicts former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha


The apex court-appointed panel is investigating alleged scuttling of probe into coal block allocation scam cases by Ranjit Sinha.

Former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha has been indicted by a Supreme Court-appointed panel which has held that prima facie there was an attempt to influence investigation into the coal block allocation scam.

The court also pulled up CBI for its sluggish probe in the coal scam that had taken place during the UPA government’s tenure and directed the agency to complete the investigation expeditiously.

The apex court, which is monitoring the probe into Coalgate, was Tuesday told by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the panel headed by former CBI special director M L Sharma has held that Sinha’a meetings with some of the high- profile accused in the scam prima facie indicated that there was an attempt to influence the investigation.


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