• On Wednesday (July 17, 2019), the Indian rupee has depreciated by 11 paise to close at 68.82 against the US dollar on due to foreign fund outflows and rising crude oil prices
  • The Indian Railways is unable to meet the demands from the passenger segment, VK Yadav, Chairman Railway Board said, pointing out the capacity constraints of the national transporter. Yadav said that the loss of revenue in the passenger segment is adversely affecting the freight services.
  • The Indian Railways is working on doubling, tripling of lines which will be done in a planned manner, to meet the capacity constraints.
    The eastern and western dedicated freight corridors, expected to be complete by next financial year, will help address the issue.
    Yadav said that the national transporter is cross-subsidising the loss by increasing the freight rates.
  • The Indian Railways is now looking at a ‘quantum jump’ in infrastructure and is trying to capture the loss of opportunity in the last 25 years, Yadav said.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs cleared three railway projects, one in Assam and two in Uttar Pradesh, with total investment of over ₹6,000 crore.
  • These include doubling of the line from New Bongaigaon to Agthori via Rangiya (142.97 km) of North-East Frontier Railway in Assam with an estimated cost of ₹2042.51 crore, according to a press statement. The project will be completed by 2022-23 and will be executed by the Construction Organisation of North-East Frontier Railway.
  • The CCEA also approved construction of a third railway line between Allahabad-Mughalsarai (now Pt. DeenDayal Upadhyaya Jn.) with an estimated cost of ₹2,649.44 crore. The project will be completed by 2023-24 and will be executed by Construction Organization of North Central and will be benefitted in many ways:
    • To enhance capacity, reduce detention and cater for future growth of traffic.
    • To ease traffic congestion at Chheoki, Naini and
    • Improve the punctuality of goods and passenger trains on vital route connecting the National Capital.
  • The third project approved was the construction of a 81.17-km long new railway line between Sahjanwa and Dohrighat, at an estimated cost of ₹1,319.75 crore. This will provide an alternate route avoiding Gorakhpur.
    The project will also generate direct employment during construction for about 19.48 lakh mandays.
  • With miners, which took coal blocks for own use, performing poorly, the government is planning not to auction mines to captive users. Instead, it will allot or auction rights only for commercial use of coal.
    The allocation would be decided based on the production plan and revenue share to the government.
    The Union ministry of coal is also looking at a proposal to privatise and split Bharat Coking Coal (BCCL) that holds lease to the Jharia coalfields.
  • With coal imports rising amid the widening gap between the production and consumption of the fuel, a high-level committee set up by the Niti Aayog is likely to suggest that all future auctions of coal blocks must be for commercial mining.
    The draft report, argues against any more captive coal mines and pitches for amendments in several laws to encourage private participation in mining and remove ‘discrimination’ between the private and the public sector.
  • India may spin off units of Coal India Ltd, into separate listed companies to boost competition and raise government funds.
    The state-run company and the Coal Ministry are studying a proposal by the Finance Ministry’s Department of Investment & Public Asset Management to list four of Coal India’s biggest production units, as well as its exploration arm. The development is in an early stage and it was unclear how long it may take, as per the statement given.