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India’s economic expansion to boost mining: President Kovind

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New Delhi: India’s GDP and a larger developmental process will gain momentum over the coming decades and in turn bolster the mining and minerals sector, President Ram Nath Kovind said today.

He also asserted that eventually, the local communities must benefit from the discovery, extraction and development of mineral resources.

The reform process set in motion in the mining sector four years ago is bearing rich dividends and will enhance the fiscal health of states, Kovind said at the National Geoscience awards event here.

“India is one of the fastest growing major economies in the world. Our GDP, as well as our larger developmental process, is set to accelerate over the coming decades. The mining and mineral sector is poised to grow as a result of this expansion of the economy. At the same time, it will also be a driver of economic expansion,” he said.

India’s per capita consumption of many resources and commodities is still very low by global standards and there is room to grow, he said, adding that as more cities, houses and infrastructure are built, the use of key resources will rise.

Kovind said India needs high-quality research initiatives for sustainable, ecologically-friendly resource generation and meaningful investment in technological innovation in the mining sector.

“That is why reforms in the mining sector have been pushed by the government over the past four years. These reforms, including amendments to existing laws and establishing a more equitable system of royalties, are starting to show results,” he said.

Stating that a number of mineral blocks are being explored, he said steps taken by the Ministry of Mines have led to ithe dentification of promising mineral blocks in states for auction and this will go a long way in enhancing the financial health of the states and allow them to spread the benefits from mining of resources.

However, he cautioned, “We must be mindful of the human side of mining. Many of our mineral resources are found in regions that have been the home of tribal communities for generations.

“It is important that these communities are part of the prosperity that the mining economy creates. Rehabilitation and resettlement of our tribal brothers and sisters… must be done in a sensitive and satisfactory manner.”

At the same time, he said, the mining process itself must incorporate the best available safety and health mechanisms for mining workers as well as for their families, who often stay in close proximity to mining sites besides minimizing the environmental impact of mining and resource extraction.

“If this requires using technologies that add to extraction costs, then we cannot shy away from that. India must mine more but India must also mine better and in a sustainable manner,” he emphasised.

The President further said that social expectations from the geoscientific community have increased significantly in recent years.

He added that with deep understanding of landform dynamics, it has an important role to play in enhancing agricultural productivity and farmer incomes; in providing a bedrock to the Smart Cities initiative; and in helping citizens fight the challenge of water scarcity, which has emerged as a pressing problem.

He said, “The implications of geosciences are not limited to just prospecting mines. Whether it is to build railway lines or communication corridors; make assessments for river linking projects or investigate natural hazards such as earthquakes and landslides; manage our coasts and deserts in a time of climate change; or add value to agriculture and help develop new urban centres the applications of geosciences are extremely diverse and extremely useful.”

Kovind also stressed the need for assessing the potential of offshore resource base saying exploration by marine geoscientists must be encouraged as India has a long coastline and a sizeable marine zone that holds many treasures and “So far we have scratched the surface.”

He said that in March 2020, less than two years from now, India will host the 36th International Geological Congress, the biggest in the world.

Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said 36 blocks bearing major minerals other than coal, explored by GSI and auctioned recently will fetch additional revenue to the tune of Rs 1.11 lakh crore to states.

He said adequate provisions under the Mines and Minerals (Development) and Regulation Act has been done and District Mineral Funds have been created to address the concerns of villagers impacted by mining in mineral-rich states.

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Rajasthan High Court asks Robert Vadra and his mother to appear before ED on 12th February

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Vadra

The Rajasthan High Court on Monday asked Robert Vadra along with his partners in the Skyline Hospitality Limited, including his mother Maureen Vadra to appear before the Enforcement Directorate on 12th February to record their responses to the allegations of money laundering by the firm.

A bench from the Jodhpur high court gave this direction after ejecting its earlier order that averted the agency from taking any forcible action against Vadra and others.

A bench consisting of Justice P S Bhati, while asking Vadra and others to appear before the ED, however, refused to vacate the stay on their arrest and refused any kind of liberty to the ED to take them into custody.

Justice Bhati further gave a clarification that if the need be, the Enforcement Directorate will have to move the court separately to seek permission for arresting them.

Rajdeep Rastogi, the solicitor general, who is appearing for the ED, stated it to the bench that the agency has already started off an inquiry against the owners and the partners of Skylight Hospitality Limited on a complaint of money laundering against the company.

Rastogi stated, “The company moved the court against this inquiry and obtained an order that no coercive action would be taken against them during the investigation”.

The Enforcement Directorate then challenged the court seeking vacation of this order on the account that neither an FIR was lodged in the matter nor any accused was named in the case.

Rastogi argued in the court, “It is just a fact-finding inquiry which is at an initial stage, so the court should not intervene in the matter at this stage”.

Admitting the arguments of the solicitor general, the court removed the “No Coercive Action” clause from its earlier order.

Based on a mutual consent of the lawyers from both the sides, the bench ordered owner and partners of the firms, including Vadra and his mother to appear before the ED and cooperate with the agency in the inquiry.

 

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Legal perspective being sought for quotas for upper castes in Bihar: Nitish Kumar

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quotas

Nitish Kumar, the Bihar chief minister today on Monday declared his government will implement quotas for the economically-backward among the unreserved category once they get a legal perspective concerning the suitable modalities.

Nitish Kumar stated that a legal perspective was being sought as to whether the new quotas, which have been brought forth by way of a recent constitutional amendment and are in addition to the existing reservations, could be introduced in the state through an executive order or an Act passed in the legislature.

He also stated that we are bound by the top court judgement, which placed a cap of 50 percent on the quotas for the educationally and socially backward, but added that he is in the support of the demand for increasing the limit to make reservations proportionate to the population of the respective caste groups.

He added, “But opposition parties which are voicing the demand have no clue as to how to go about it. In my view, there should be a fresh tally wherein the separate populations of social segments like SCs, STs and OBCs is taken into account. Based on its report, the nation can move towards ensuring proportional representation for various castes”.

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PM Modi to inaugurate Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas convention in Varanasi on Tuesday

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Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday will inaugurate the 15th convention of the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi.

It is for the first time that the three-day long convention is being organized from 21st January to 23rd January in place of 9th January to permit the participants for visiting the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad and attend the parade of Republic Day here.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s office stated that the theme of the convention for this year is ‘role of the Indian diaspora in building new India’.

The chief guest of the convention will be Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth, whereas a member of Parliament of Norway, Himanshu Gulati will be the special guest. Further, member of Parliament of New Zealand, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, will be the guest of honour.

The decision to celebrate the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas was taken by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the first event was celebrated on 9th January 2003 in Varanasi.

As a matter of fact, January 9 was picked to be the day for the celebration of Pravasi Bharatiya since it was this day in the year 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi had returned from South Africa to India.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas is now celebrated once in every two years and gives a platform to the Indian community overseas for engaging with the government and reconnecting with their roots said the statement.

Pravasi Bharatiya Sammaan, is discussed on the selected overseas Indians for their imperative contributions to different spheres both abroad and in India.

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