Today’s ET carries a story on Chandasi – also spelt as Chandausi. It is a mandi — like the agri markets of India — but one dealing in coal. It is a fascinating place. Its architecture is similar to that of a farm mandi even though the commodities the two trade in are so different. It corrects a state failure — inability to supply coal to small businesses — but does so by sourcing illegal coal. Which makes it a benign institution. But it is also malign. The mandi is mired in local mafias, coal syndicates and what have you. And so, while the illegal enterprises supplying coal to the mandi make pots of money, the labour, the buyers, some of the traders, lead marginal existences.
also see these, my photos from the field while reporting on coalgate.
For some time now, India has been putting out her air quality numbers. Visit the website of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) or the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and you will find them. In the odd city, you will see LED displays giving real-time updates on air quality in the city. How accurate are these numbers?
Has the Union health ministry misled Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the AIIMS CVO matter? On August 23, health secretary Lov Verma sent a detailed note to the PMO on why Sanjiv Chaturvedi, an Indian Forest Service officer who had uncovered several scams while posted in Haryana, had been removed from the post of Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi. The note, which followed Modi’s phone conversation with health minister Harsh Vardhan on the matter, adds fuel to the controversy surrounding Chaturvedi’s abrupt removal because it contains apparent contradictions in the ministry’s own position and is silent about a BJP Member of Parliament who had sought his dismissal.
india’s subservient bureaucrats, so eager to ingratiate themselves to power.
yesterday, on the day mahatma gandhi was born, the indian government unveiled its latest mantra. ministers were out sweeping streets, saying that india needs to be cleaned. it is anyone’s guess if this new mission will fizzle out or stick around and make a difference. saying that televised tokenism is not enough, i wrote this little column on tackling the waste problem.
yesterday, shortly after 2 pm, the supreme court deallocated almost all captive coalblocks — sparing just the umpps and two JV-less blocks of sail and ntpc. with that, i guess, ends my reporting on the captive coal block allocations. see these two links. one, this bouncy little primer written yesterday on what coalgate was all about. also see this: a link aggregating all the stories by my friends (and ex-colleagues) avinash singh, john samuel raja, supriya sharma and me on the captive coalblock allocations.
Earlier this month, companies with operating captive coal blocks submitted affidavits in the Supreme Court. Attempting to ensure their blocks, 40 in all, are not deallocated along with those where mining has not started, these affidavits listed investments made, the quantum of coal produced and the production from the End Use Plant (EUP) paired with the block. A closer look at these submissions reveals a set of irregularities.
my previous story on the supreme court hearings into the captive coal block allocation was a bit of a curtain-raiser. it said when hearings resume on monday, the biggest question before the judges will be re: what to do with the blocks where mining has already started.
as things turned out, a set of industry associations and the government proposed a compromise formula to the apex court. among other things, they proposed that the SC levy a penalty of Rs 295 per tonne on coal mined — in the past and from now on. they also recommended that power producers with captive coal blocks be allowed to henceforth sell power only through longterm power purchase agreements (PPA) and not in the merchant market. in the story out today, i argue that this is a flawed idea.