New Delhi Coal India may now be allowed a lower fuel supply commitment of 65% to power companies as against 80% prescribed earlier, but will pay a much higher penalty of up to 40% of the value of t

New Delhi Power, cement and steel companies, which are facing uncertainty due to environmental and other regulatory issues over their captive coal blocks, can now relax. This is because the government will soon come out with a policy on allocation of alternative coal blocks to them. The group of ministers on coal, slated to meet here on Wednesday, is expected to approve the new policy proposed by the coal ministry.

The idea, said a government source, is to remove impediments to use captive mining rights. The proposed policy would help develop projects worth billions of dollars in these sectors.

New Delhi The 12th Five-year Plan may end without any significant fresh gas-based power capacity being added in the country. The power ministry has issued a directive to all state governments and other central and state utilities asking them not to propose any new gas-based power project at least till the end of fiscal 2015.

The advisory comes as gas is in short supply domestically and the situation could worsen in coming months as production at the country’s biggest reserve, Reliance Industries’ D6 block in the Krishna-Godavari basin, is expected to fall further from already low levels.

New Delhi Highlighting its inability to support increasing number of metro projects, the Centre has asked state governments to follow the models of Karnataka and Delhi for financing capital-intensive Metro rail projects by levying cess on residential and commercial developments, and increasing house tax. It has also urged them to set up state-level urban transport funds with such levies to finance the projects.

The Centre says its unable to support the increasing number of metro systems through the Budget and therefore wants the states to develop their own funding sources to part-finance such capital-intensive systems.

New Delhi Punjab, the grain bowl of India, is in danger of losing the coveted tag as depleting groundwater levels force the state to seriously consider reducing the planting of water-intensive paddy crop in the medium-to-long term to avoid a disaster.

After a recent meeting with Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Planning Commission has decided to send a team of experts to the state to review the problem and suggest ways to tackle it, official sources told FE.

New Delhi Notwithstanding the CAG stance favouring the auction route for allocation of natural resources, power companies such as NTPC, Tata Power, Rpower and Jindal Power might get another set of captive coal blocks without having to go through the bidding process.

The new rule on coal block auctions finalised by the coal ministry proposes to carve out a portion of the country’s coal reserves for the power sector that would be offered to companies through state-run corporations. Those companies that have been awarded a power project on the basis of tariff-based competitive bidding would be eligible for this exclusive allocation, official sources said.

New Delhi Keen to stay clear of the minefield of scandals and lawsuits, the Union mines ministry has asked the attorney general (AG) whether mining lease applications can be disposed of under the first-come-first-served (FCFS) policy, until upcoming legislation makes auction mandatory.

The ministry's concern is that granting mineral concessions through FCFS policy might attract strictures from the Supreme Court and run afoul of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India's stated position on the matter.Over 400 pending mining lease/licence execution cases are waiting for the ministry's no-objection certificate, before states can process the lease.

New Delhi The power ministry has written to the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure to mandate a uniform 50% risk weight to bank loans for state-owned Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), a move which could lead to banks doubling their exposure to these companies if it finds favour with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The power ministry has proposed a uniform risk weight of 50% for these two infrastructure financing companies (IFCs). At present, banks assign low risk weight only to top-rated IFCs, while others attract 100% risk weight.

New Delhi The new mining Bill cleared by a group of ministers last week envisaging direct benefit to people from the minerals underneath the land they own, also has a provision for setting up a clutch of ultra mega mining plants (UMMPs) in the country.

As per the proposal, state governments will identify locations for large mines with respect to specific minerals such as iron ore, bauxite, chro

New Delhi In what could ease availability of land for industrial projects, a high-level government panel has recommended that all land held by the Centre should be inventoried with location mapping so that unused land could be easily identified and put up for sale to corporates under a public-private-partnership (PPP) model.