The government on Thursday informed the Rajya Sabha that as many as 67 underground fires have been raging in the Jharia coalfields in Jharkhand for several decades, affecting 98,000 families. At the time of nationalisation of coal mines in the 1970s, 70 fires were raging in the area that came under Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL). Of these, 10 were put out but seven new fires started, minister of state for coal Santosh Bagrodia said while replying to supplementaries during question Hour.

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the West Bengal government on an appeal challenging the alleged acquisition of fertile agricultural land for Tata Motors' Nano car project at Singur and for Salem group at Haldia. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran, while issuing notices to the state and the Centre, allowed an application by Tata seeking to be a party in the appeal so that it could place its views before the court.

Tawang/Guwahati: The Centre has asked Arunachal Pradesh governor General (retd) JJ Singh to coordinate all the major border development initiatives to build high-tech infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border. The initiatives include building an airport at Tawang, after one is in place in state capital Itanagar, and constructing a 1,840-km state-of-the-art trans-Arunachal highway touching the borders with China, Bhutan and Myanmar besides spreading a rail network in the state on the lines of one the Chinese have built in Tibet.

Special economic zones came in for criticism in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday with CPI MP D Raja saying it was a kind of "land grab' which had created new and "modern zamindars' and it had debased the life of farmers, tribals and agricultural workers who are being deprived of their land.

Just a day after finance minister Chidambaram warned steel and cement manufacturers of tough measures if they did not desist from cartelization, government has done an extraordinary about-turn and said no evidence of such practices has come to light as yet. The extraordinary sequence played itself out within the space of a couple of days. Intervening during the debate on price rise in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Chidambaram said cement and steel firms were "behaving like a cartel' and added that the government planned to "break this logjam'.

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Giving UPA some relief, the wholesale price index-based inflation rate on Thursday inched down to 7.14% from last week's fouryear peak of 7.41% after the government last week took several fiscal steps to rein in rising food prices.

A corridor from Peeli Kothi to Lothian Bridge to be built at a cost of Rs 75 crore Proposed in 2005 and shelved many times, the decongestion plan around Old Delhi Railway station may finally see the light of the day. Announced in the Budget 2007-08 as a part of the plan, a corridor on Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Marg from Peeli Kothi to Lothian Bridge is expected to come up by December 2009.

The government will soon announce a policy on construction of greenfield airports across the country to meet growing air traffic demand. "A consolidated and updated policy on greenfield airports is under consideration of the government,' civil aviation minister Praful Patel said in Lok Sabha in the question hour session.

An inter-ministerial group constituted to suggest measures for checking steel prices, has recommended a 10% export duty on steel and 15% on iron ore. The report will be submitted to PM Manmohan Singh before the meeting of cabinet committee on prices. It is learnt that the proposal has got the approval of FM P Chidambaram who has been insisting on a revenue-neutral scheme to control steel prices.

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