Environmental Clearances for Mining Projects

Environmental Clearances for Mining Projects

The Minister of State for Steel and Mines, Shri Vishnu Deo Sai has said that there are 13 cases of iron and manganese mining projects which are awaiting environmental clearances as per Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, as on 01/11/2014.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha today, Shri Vishnu Deo Sai said that the concept of Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for development of Steel Plants in the country involves agreement of the iron ore rich State Governments for providing land and infrastructure facilities along with iron ore supply to SPV. Discussions in this regard are underway with the concerned State Governments. Similarly, in order to have speedy development of resources like iron ore & coal in the country, a concept of Special Mining Zone (SMZ) is being deliberated upon to facilitate procedural requirements for exploitation of minerals without unnecessary restrictions.


Research and Development in Steel Sector

. SRTMI is proposed to be formed as a registered society in close co-operation among the steel companies, Ministry of Steel, academia and relevant R&D institutions in the country.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha today, Shri Vishnu Deo Sai said that according to the available information, the funds utilized for R&D by the steel companies in the Public Sector under Ministry of Steel in the last three years and the current year are given below:-
                                                                                                 (Rs. in crore)
Steel Company

The Minister said that there have been notable achievements from the R&D programmes pursued by the aforesaid companies during this period which inter-alia covers the following:-

·                    Raw Materials upgradation,
·                    Improvement in Process/ Technology, Products and Productivity,
·                    Development of  New products & improvement in Quality, and
·                    Improvement in Energy consumption & Environment Management.

He said that measures taken by the Government to increase the R&D in the steel sector:-

·                    Ministry of Steel has been providing financial assistance from Steel Development Fund (SDF) and Plan Fund.
·                    Ministry of Steel had published ‘A Roadmap for Research & Development and Technology for Indian Iron & Steel Industry’ in Sept., 2011 with an aim to sensitize the Indian steel industry to improve its technological face through R&D and technology intervention. The Roadmap recommended that major steel companies must increase their R&D investment to 1% of sales turnover by the terminal year of the 12th Five Year Plan (2016-17) and 2% by 2020.
·                    The Working Group on Steel Industry for Twelfth Five Year Plan had also recommended increasing the R&D investment by the steel companies to 1% of the turnover by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan.
·                    Ministry of Steel has also advised all main/ major steel companies in the country to enhance their R&D investment as per the above recommendations.
·                    Ministry of Steel is now facilitating the creation of a new & innovative mechanism viz. Steel Research & Technology Mission of India, to promote joint collaborative research programmes of national importance, which will inter-alia enhance the R&D investment in the sector.

ETA enabled Visa on Arrival Scheme

Central Government has introduced Tourist Visa on Arrival enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to facilitate foreign travelers visiting India to the nationals of the following 43 countries w.e.f. 27.11.2014:

Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kingdom of Tongo, Laos, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Philippines, Republic of Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Palau, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vietnam, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea.

The proposal was examined by the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with concerned Ministries and security agencies.

Visa on Arrival facility has been provided to Indian passport holders by 58 countries as on date. List of more countries eligible for TVoA would be notified by the Government from time to time.

This information was given by the Union Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge), Dr. Mahesh Sharma in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals register a positive growth over same period of last year

The number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India from May to October 2014 has registered a positive growth over the same period of the preceding year. The details are given below:

FTAs (in lakhs)
Growth over same month of preceding year (in %)

The Union Ministry of Tourism, as part of its on-going activities, releases print, electronic, online and outdoor media campaigns in the international and domestic markets, under the Incredible India brand-line, to promote various tourism destinations and products of the country.   In addition, a series of promotional activities are undertaken in important and potential tourist generating markets overseas through the India tourism Offices abroad with the objective of showcasing India’s tourism potential.

The Ministry of Tourism also provides financial assistance to stakeholders for promotion of tourism in the international and domestic markets under the Marketing Development Assistance Scheme.

The Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA) enabled with the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) Scheme was launched on 27.11.2014 for nationals of 43 countries whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sight- seeing, short duration medical treatment, casual business visit, casual visit to meet friends or relatives etc. for a short stay of 30 days.

The restriction of two-month gap on re-entry of foreign nationals coming to India on Tourist Visa and Tourist Visa on Arrival has been lifted with effect from 4th December, 2012.

The Ministry of Tourism had advised the State Governments/Union Territory Administrations   to set up Tourist Police at prominent tourist spots.

An advisory has been posted on the Ministry of Tourism website www.incredibleindia.org indicating that India remains safe destination for international Tourists including women tourists.

To tackle the problem of hygiene and cleanliness at tourist destinations, the Ministry of Tourism has taken the initiative of launching the Campaign Clean India with a vision to ensure an acceptable level of cleanliness and hygiene practices at tourist destinations.

Selection and Training of Regional Level Tourist Guides including linguist guides is an ongoing process and the Ministry conducts the training programmes, through the Indian Institute of Tourism & Travel Management (IITTM), periodically.

This information was given by the Union Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge), Dr. Mahesh Sharma in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today.
The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2014 passed by the Lok Sabha

The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants) Amendment Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha today. The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants), Act, 1971 was enacted to provide for speedy machinery for the eviction of unauthorised occupants from public premises.

This Act has been amended three times earlier, in the years 1980, 1984 and 1994. The present proposal seeks 4th amendment to the Act. Major objective of the amendment bill is to bring the properties of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and other Metro Rails which may come up in future and also the properties of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) within the ambit of P.P.(E) Act, 1971.

The 4th amendment bill viz. the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2011 was earlier introduced in the Lok Sabha on 23.11.2011. The Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Urban Development by the Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha on 05.01.2012. The Committee in its 20th Report on 14.05.2012 to the Lok Sabha had made some observations/recommendations to the Bill. In the meanwhile, the Hon`ble Supreme Court in its judgement dated 5.7.2013 in Civil Appeal No.4064/2004 in the matter of S.D.Bandi Vs Divisional Traffic Officer, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) & Others had given 20 suggestions to expedite the vacation of unauthorised occupants from the Public Premises. In the meantime, the 15th Lok Sabha was dissolved and thus the Amendment Bill 2011 lapsed.

In view of the observations/recommendations of the Standing Committee on Urban Development and suggestions of the Hon`ble Supreme Court, it has now been proposed to make suitable amendments in Sections 2, 4, 5, 7 and 9 of the PP(E) Act, 1971 through a fresh Amendment Bill, 2014, which has been passed by the Lok Sabha.


Development and Management of Water Resources 

Several reports by international organizations such as World Bank, United Nations International Children`s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Food & Agriculture Organization(FAO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) etc. have mentioned about ground water related issues and challenges in the Country, and suggested a number of measures like an increase in water tariffs in urban settings; reducing crop water requirements as well as non-beneficial evapo-transpiration from fields in agricultural settings; conjunctive use of surface and ground water in specific areas; ground water recharge enhancement to manage over-exploitation of ground water etc. which, inter-alia, include measures to be taken for sustainable development and management of ground water in the Country. 

Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) under the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation has prepared a conceptual document entitled “Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Ground Water in India” during the year 2013, which envisages construction of different types of Artificial Recharge and Rainwater Harvesting structures in the Country in an area of 9,41,541 square km by harnessing surplus monsoon runoff to augment ground water resources. Further, the National Water Policy (2012), which has been forwarded to all State Governments/UTs and concerned Ministries/Departments of Central Government for appropriate action, also highlights the need for augmenting the availability of water through direct use of rainfall. Initiatives for water conservation and water recharge are being undertaken by the respective State Governments which, inter-alia, include conservation of water resources in the reservoirs and traditional water bodies, rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge of ground water. Central Government provides technical and financial assistance to the State Governments through various schemes and programmes to facilitate this. A National Water Mission, has also been set up to inter-alia, promote conservation of water resources. 

Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has been constituted under Section 3(3) of The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 to regulate indiscriminate ground water abstraction in the Country. Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has notified 162 Blocks/Talukas/Areas for regulation of ground water development in the Country, wherein, permission to construct new bore-wells is not granted, except for drinking and domestic purpose. In non-notified areas, CGWA accords “No Objection Certificate (NOC)” for withdrawal of ground water for new and expansion of industrial/infrastructure/mining projects based on guidelines/ criteria fixed for evaluation of such projects. Regulations are being enforced through the concerned Deputy Commissioners/ District Collectors and in cases of reported violations/ shortcomings in implementation of directives of Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), the concerned Deputy Commissioners/ District Collectors have been authorized to take necessary action as per the provisions of Section 15 to 21 of The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Besides, a Model Bill has been circulated to all the States/UTs to enable them to enact ground water legislation for its regulation and development. 

This information was given by Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Prof. Sanwar Lal Jat in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today. 


Prevention of Discharge of Untreated Water into Ganga 

The Ganga Rejuvenation plan include projects and activities for comprehensive pollution abatement measures for different sources of pollution such as rehabilitation and upgradation of Sewage treatment plants, Interception, diversion and treatment, construction of sewerage systems including creation of additional treatment capacity, in situ sewage treatment in open drains, detailed assessment of pollution and water quality monitoring and enforcement of standards in respect of the grossly polluting industries (GPIs) and policy initiatives for ensuring Aviral and Nirmal Ganga. 

The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has set up an Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission namely “Namami Gange” for Ganga Rejuvenation including its tributaries. Incorporating the existing projects under the National Ganga River Basin Authority, the Ganga rejuvenation plan provides for ‘Short-term’ (3 years), ‘Medium-term’ (5 years) and ‘Long-term’ (10 years and more) action plan with the collaboration of different ministries and states. 

An amount of Rs.100 crores has been allocated in the Union Budget for 2014 -15 for Ghat development and beautification of river front at Kedarnath&Haridwar in Uttarakhand; Kanpur, Allahabad &Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Patna in Bihar and Delhi. These are now under project preparation stage in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism. Similarly, states have been requested to prepare special projects for areas of tourist interest including the Char DhamYatra (Uttarakhand) and Gangasagar(West Bengal). 

This information was given by Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Prof. Sanwar Lal Jat in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today. 


Database of Water Resources 


            Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation is implementing a scheme viz. ‘Development of Water Resources Information System (DWRIS)’ with the main objective of collecting the necessary data from various sources, analysis of important data and developing a robust information system on water resources. A Web based Water Resources Information System named as INDIA-WRIS (www.india-wris.nrsc.gov.in), has been launched. The Central Water Commission also brings out a publication “Water and Related Statistics” every two years.
              Further, under the project “National Wetland Inventory & Assessment” sponsored by Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, Space Application Centre, Ahmadabad has carried out a survey in the year 2010 and prepared the National Wetland Inventory Atlas,  mapping a total of 7,57,060 wetlands in the country at 1:50,000 scale. As per the Atlas, total wetland area is estimated to be 15.26 million hectares, nearly 4.63% of the total geographical area of the country.
            In the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17) under the DWRIS plan scheme, Rs. 80.00 crore has been allocated for Web enabled WRIS and setting up of National Water Informatics Center (NWIC). No funds are allocated to the State Governments under this scheme.
            State Governments undertake several measures for protection and revival of water bodies in the States. The State efforts are supplemented by the Central Government under the scheme for Repair, Renovation & Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies. It is proposed to provide Central assistance for restoration of 10,000 water bodies during the 12th plan at a cost of Rs. 6235 crore.
              Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change is implementing a scheme viz. National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) for conservation of lakes and wetlands. This scheme is presently operational on a 70:30 cost sharing between Central Government and respective State Governments (90:10 for North Eastern States).
Further, the National Water Policy, 2012 has made several recommendations for protection and revival of water bodies in the country, such as protection against pollution and encroachment / diversion of water bodies as well as integrated conservation in a scientifically planned manner through community participation, etc.
            The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has issued an advisory to the States on conservation and restoration of water bodies in urban areas. The States have been advised to designate water bodies as a separate land use classification that is legally tenable.  It should be done in parallel with the protected areas as defined under the Environment Protection Act and the Forest Protection Act to prevent their encroachment and destruction.
           This information was given by Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Prof. Sanwar Lal Jat in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.

Ten Crore Aadhaars Linked to Bank Accounts 

A major milestone has been crossed with ten (10) crore Aadhaar numbers having been linked to bank accounts of Aadhaar holders so far a part of Government’s Digital India mission. This would enable these individuals to digitally receive government welfare subsidies and other payments directly into their bank accounts, in a hassle-free manner. 

Establishing a link between an Aadhaar number and a bank account makes it easy for the government to identify genuine beneficiaries and route welfare payments and subsidies directly into their bank accounts. The individual can benefit from this system as it is portable across any bank in the country and he/she can access these subsidies even if the person moves to another part of the country, making the whole process hassle-free. Till date, 333 banks are live on this platform. 

To link Aadhaar number to their bank account, residents need to provide a copy of their Aadhaar letter or their e-Aadhaar to the bank branch in which he/she holds the account. Once the account is seeded, the account will be used by Government departments to transfer subsidies directly into this bank account. 

Residents can check status of the Aadhaar-Bank account linkage by dialling *99*99# on their mobile phone. This facility is provided by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) at a cost of Rs.1.50 per enquiry. 

The Aadhaar identity platform is the largest biometric database in the world and serves users ranging from LPG consumers, MNREGA workers, PDS, remittance and scholarship beneficiaries, etc. – all using their Aadhaar number to avail benefits. 

Till 9th December 2014, about eight crore transactions have been made through the Aadhaar Payment Bridge for various Government welfare programs such as Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, Tribal welfare schemes, Pensions, amounting to Rs.5,151.51crore. 

Issuance of Aadhaars crossed the 72 crore-mark as on Dec 12, 2014. In the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh, over 10 crore Aadhaar numbers have been generated. These four states with a combined population of about 34 crore, were allocated to UIDAI earlier this year for issuance of Aadhaars. 

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has received national and international acclaim for the Aadhaar project. Recently, the Data Security Council of India declared UIDAI as the best agency for “Security in e-Governance”. 

(For any further information or clarifications please contact: ADG (Media), UIDAI at 011-23466831) 
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