As reported by Business Standard, the Lower Penganga project was mired in controversy after a multi-crore irrigation scam in the state came to the fore

Construction in the inter-state Lower Penganga irrigation project between Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh is yet to begin, as Andhra Pradesh hasn’t received the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF)’s nod yet. Maharashtra had received the environment clearance in May 2007. As reported by Business Standard, the Lower Penganga project was mired in controversy after a multi-crore irrigation scam in Maharashtra came to the fore. MoEF’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) has asked the Andhra government to carry out a baseline environmental monitoring for the pre-monsoon, monsoon and post-monsoon seasons in a year.

'This year, due to drought conditions, the production estimate was lowered to 520 mn litres. Nearly 500,000 litres of water is required per distillery per day'

Distilleries in Maharashtra face a severe cutback in operations and ethanol output due to the state’s severe water shortage. Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, president of the All India Ethanol Manufacturers Association, told Business Standard: “Of the 90 distilleries, a large number are located in drought-hit Sangli, Satara, Ahmad-nagar, Pune and Solapur districts. Maharashtra’s ethanol production during the current fiscal year is estimated at 52 crore litres, compared to 54 crore in 2011-12 and 68 crore in 2010-11.”

In its report on India’s coal sector, Pune-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) Prayas Energy Group has made a strong pitch for the setting up of an independent regulator to improve the performance and accountability of coal companies and provide a level-playing field. An independent regulator, however, needs to be responsible not only for issues such as pricing, quality and contract adherence, but also meeting production targets, safety, mine restoration and compliance to environmental norms.

Reeling under drought conditions in 145 out of a total 353 talukas of Maharashtra, the state government is taking several measures including seeking central assistance and requesting neighbouring state Karnataka to release water, to tackle the crisis.

The state has sought a central assistance of Rs 5,000 crore, including Rs 2,270 crore for relief measures. Last week, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who heads the group of ministers that decides on relief measures for drought-hit states, said he had received report from a Central team that recommended a financial assistance of Rs 778 crore to Maharashtra for water and related programmes.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the government would not agree to all the demands made by opposition parties on the issue

The special investigation team (SIT) to inquire into the multi-crore irrigation scam will not enjoy powers under the Commission of Inquiries Act, the government has made clear. Headed by Madhav Chitale, a former chairman of the Central Water Commission, the probe team will lack the authority to issue summons. It can, however, base its findings on various reports, including the water resources development ministry’s own position paper (White Paper) on the sector.

The Maharashtra government has ordered an inquiry against Torrent Power, a distribution franchisee of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MahaVitaran) in the powerloom town of Bhiwandi.

A committee expected to be led by a MahaVitaran senior is to probe alleged excess recovery from consumers, fast running of power meters, accidents and deaths due to system faults.

Central and state power regulators recently discussed what needs to be done to make competition in retail sale of power a reality for the citizen.

The Union power ministry had recently proposed amending the Electricity Act of 2003 to separate the supply and retail-wire businesses. The Forum of Regulators (FoR), representing the central and state electricity regulatory commissions, met to debate the hurdles in implementation. Pramod Deo, chairman of the central body told Business Standard: “In the United Kingdom, consumers can choose their power supplier. On similar lines, if the wire and supply businesses are separated, such a choice could be given here, too. During the meeting, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) made a presentation on the proposal.

Those affected by land takeover for the proposed Navi Mumbai airport do not expect the Centre’s amended draft of the land acquisition legislation to change things much on their core demands.

The Project Affected Persons (PAPs) stand to lose 450 hectares for the project and, in return, want 35-40 per cent returned as developed land. They say they were not ready to accept the state government’s proposal of 12.5 per cent or up to 15 per cent developed land, plus monetary compensation of Rs 10 lakh a hectare.

This is first of country's 20 nuclear plants and IAEA's 171st globally

International Atomic Energy Association’s (IAEA) 12-member operational safety review team (OSART) would complete on Wednesday its operational safety performance of 3&4 units of Rajasthan Atomic Power Stations (RAPS). This is IAEA’s 171 st OSART review across the globe since the programme´s inception in 1982 and first of any nuclear power plant in India.

Indian industry expects a way forward in liability issue

With Barack Obama re-elected the President of the US, the Indian nuclear industry and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) officials hope the continuity in the administration would boost nuclear cooperation between the two countries. Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) is already in talks with US companies such as GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Westinghouse Electric Co for the supply of nuclear reactors for India’s ongoing nuclear capacity addition programme. The status quo in Washington will boost these talks as well, say industry officials.