First reversal after last year's protests in the state. As many as eight Special Economic Zones (SEZs) proposals in Goa were scrapped at one stroke by the inter-ministerial Board of Approvals, which met here today. The Board also decided to ask 12 developers in the state why their zones should not be cancelled. This is the first incident of a reversal of a Central policy, following a strong anti-SEZ movement in Goa last year that had threatened to bring down the Digambar Kamat-led Congress government. SEZs are underwritten by a central law passed by Parliament in 2005 that permits special taxation and other fiscal benefits to the developers and the units inside these zones. The Goa government, on December 31, 2007, had recommended that the Centre scrap all the zones in the state following widespread public protests. Anti-SEZ protesters had argued that the zones will put extra pressure on the already fragile infrastructure in the state and lead to a dilution of the Goan identity. Their argument was that "outsiders' would flood Goa in search of SEZ jobs that the locals will not be able to fill. This cancellation is the first time in history that ethnic issues have led to reversal of central industrial policy. Formally approved zones that are facing withdrawal of status include Inox Mercantile Company's 48-hectare Biotech zone in Verna, Panchbhoomi Infrastructure Pvt Ltd's 18.5-hectare infotech zone in North Goa and a 48-hectare Infotech zone of Paradigm Logistics in Verna. "We are following the principle of natural justice and are sending showcause notices to 12 formally approved zones. Proposals that were sent by the state and were yet to be considered by the Board of Approvals will be treated as withdrawn,' said Commerce Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai, who heads the board. Three controversial SEZs in Goa

Surely car owners who get cheap petrol and rich farmers who get free water and power can't be aam? With the general elections due next year, there are obvious pressures on the finance minister to provide goodies for the aam aadmi. There are calls to abandon, or at least postpone by a few years, the fiscal deficit ceilings prescribed by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, so that funds are not a constraint. (If most of us believe that many politicians are corrupt, they reciprocate by believing that the best way to get the vote is by bribing the voter.) Given the concern about the aam aadmi in the bleeding hearts of our political masters, I have often wondered who exactly this aam aadmi is

Investors can't afford to ignore food. As a hedge against a possible US recession, and direct exposure to rising urbanisation and wealth in Asia, it's an asset class that's tailor-made for the present times. As Jim Rogers of New York-based investment firm Rogers Holdings puts it, "If you're in agriculture, you don't know that there is a recession, you don't care.'' That may be as true for investors in agricultural commodities as it is for farmers, provided the former don't rely on the expertise of fund managers to beat the futures markets.

Coal India Ltd (CIL) and IL&FS Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (IL&FS IDC), today entered into a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to float a joint venture company, with 50 per cent equity contribution each by the two organisations, to undertake project development for mine, power and other coal-based projects. The MoA document was signed by NC Jha, director (technical) of CIL, and DK Mittal, managing director of IL&FS IDC, at the CIL headquarters in Kolkata today, in presence of CIL Chairman Partha S Bhattacharyya and other officials of the two organisations.

Western citizens want to use the limited land to produce ethanol rather than food for the poor.

Since 1980, different pieces of legislation have been enacted for environmental conservation. These include the Forest (Conservation) Act (FCA), 1980, the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), 1986 and the Biological Diversity Act (BDA), 2002. These have the potential to strengthen the conservation agenda. But they are at best being used to

India will choke unless it modernises its city transport systems, and you can't blame the Nano for this. Tata's Nano has set the dovecotes aflutter and reactions are flying in all directions. Some people have hailed it, rightly, as the advent of mobility in India's frozen countryside. Others, wrongly, have denounced it as a bad idea, fearing that these tiny beetles will overwhelm our cities and choke their already badly clogged arteries.

Given how environmental degradation and rehabilitation of displaced people have become so important, you would think that governments at the centre and in the states would be serious about dealing with these complex issues, deliberating at length about environment clearances and the rehabilitation packages relating to various projects. Yet, the evidence available suggests that the process is as casual and routine-driven as it can be.

A training project of Cotton & Allied Products Research Foundation of Cotton Association of India has enabled over 800 farmers to raise crop yield by 15 per cent and cut production cost by 20 per cent, Executive Director O P Agarwal told NewsWire18 today. He said the recently concluded 2007-08 farm training and development project at Chopda taluka in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra benefited 802 farmers through frontline demonstrations covering 1,029 acres.

Merchant miners have got almost double the number of iron ore mines than steel makers between 2001 and 2007, which the metal manufacturers think is not in the national interest. Out of 260 iron ore mines, for which the ministry has approved mineral concessions during the period, 172 went to merchant miners, according to information available on the website of the Ministry of Mines. Merchant miners were acquiring these mines mainly for export purposes, without adding value.