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the kabuki of environmental governance

in which i write about the environment ministry’s decision to do away with the Rs 200 crore fine on the adani group’s port and sez complex at mundra.

this is a process of forgetting, i say. do read.

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Is a monopoly taking shape in India’s port sector?

The mood in the Odisha port town of Paradip is turning grey.
Ever since the Adani group bought the neighbouring port of Dhamra last May, people and companies dependent on the port are worried Paradip is being weakened to favour Dhamra. “I handle 70% of the cargo at Paradip. I have 1,000 employees,” said a senior official in Orissa Stevedores, a company which assists with the loading and unloading of cargo from ships. “We will have to shut down if anything happens to Paradip.”
The fears are located not merely in the proximity Gautam Adani, the Chairman of the Adani Group of companies, is alleged to have to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A clutch of developments in recent months have contributed to them.

the clause that landed emta its coalblocks…

As litigation amps up after the Supreme Court’s cancellation of all captive coal-block allocations, court documents are throwing light on one of the more puzzling aspects of the coal scam — the 74:26 MDO agreements… These JVs had several striking features. The MDOs held 74% in the JVs — which meant they controlled the mining operations. Two, the price charged by the MDOs was not on cost-plus basis — it was pegged to the prevailing Coal India price. This was odd because the public sector miner has underground and opencast mines, the former being more expensive to operate, and its price is an average of its cost of coal extraction from both kinds of mines. In contrast, the MDO blocks were all surface mines.

What is more, several such JVs were signed well before the blocks were even allotted. Take Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (KPCL). It signed an MDO contract with Kolkata-based Eastern Minerals & Trading Agency (EMTA) on February 19, 2002. However, blocks were allotted to KPCL on November 10, 2003 — over a year and half later. This created a fresh puzzle. Given the competitive frenzy to get coal blocks, why were the state PSUs so sure they would land one that they signed mining contracts even before the blocks were alloted?

Answers to these questions lie in an affidavit KPCL filed in the Supreme Court.

with this story, we finally have answers to some of the most vexing questions re emta, a company we first wrote about in 2012. also, see this story on coal and ppps.

on coal and land

i am uploading this story late. it was published the day i went on leave.

about ten years ago, ntpc was alloted the largest captive coal block of all — pakri barwadih, with 1.6 billion tons of coal. mining is yet to start here. the company blames delays in land acquisition. but the reasons for that go beyond recalcitrant villagers. in the process, a worrying shift in the architecture of coal PPPs is taking shape.

take a look, here.

on land, bjp, congress and the fine art of selective mudslinging

For weeks now, Congress and the BJP have been clubbing each other over land allotments.The attack started with the Congress alleging that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, had given large tracts of land at dirt-cheap rates to infrastructure tycoon Gautam Adani, an industrialist Modi is widely perceived as close to. The BJP rubbished these allegations. Raking up, among other things, Robert Vadra’s land deals. As for Adani, he gave a series of interviews saying the value of the land went up due to the investments he made made.
However, both sides are being economical with the truth. Here is what neither is telling you.

Land is one of the biggest commons that is being handed out for what Harvard’s Michael Walton calls ‘Rent Sharing’. See this story for context. Given that both the Congress and the BJP are blasting each other for dubious land deals, this story takes a look at two states, the Congress-ruled Haryana and the BJP-ruled Gujarat, and finds that both have a lot of explain as land transactions go.

the expert non-appraisal committee

Monday’s order by the Gujarat High Court directing 12 units in the Mundra SEZ of the Adani Group to temporarily stop operations till the SEZ receives an environmental clearance is yet another indictment of the environment and forest ministry. The order, besides hauling up the Adani Group for allotting land to companies even before obtaining an environmental clearance for its SEZ complex at Mundra, highlights the ministry’s poor scrutiny of the project.

the rot in india’s environmental governance continues to astound.

the moef sends a showcause notice…

there is an update on the adani-moef-sunita narain saga. the ministry’s showcause notice is finally up online. all the questions raised in the previous story remain unanswered. see the story here.