The Centre is giving a strong push to increase cargo handling through coastal shipping and Inland Waterways (IW) with plans to nearly double the volume through these two modes of transport by 2025.
In 2018-19, a total of 192 million tonnes of cargo was handled in both coastal shipping and IW. The aim is to reach volume of 370 million tonnes by 2025, with 220 million tonnes coming from coastal shipping and 150 million tonnes from inland waterways, said Abhishek Chandra, Deputy Secretary, Sagarmala Development Company Ltd.
The norm of auctioning mining leases is going to remain and is the law of the land said Anil Mukim, Secretary, Ministry of Mines.
Mukim said, that auction regime is the law of the land. It has been almost four years since the amended MMDR Act and introduced the auction provision instead of the original first come first serve provision. Since we have introduced the auction regime, the results have been very encouraging. More than 65 mines have been auctioned, nine mines have been operationalised.
“We expect around 20 to 25 mines to be operationalised within this financial year itself. Even as far as clearances are concerned, such as Environmental and Forest clearance, the processes have been streamlined,” Mukim added.
A Group of Ministers (GoM) is aware of the major concerns of the mining industry regarding extension of mining leases and the request for lifting the mining ban in Goa.
Responding to queries about lifting the ban on mining in Goa, Minister for Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs, Pralhad Joshi said, “The industry has submitted a memorandum and the GoM is seized of the matter. There are legal issues in that and we are consulting the legal experts of the issue.”
The GoM includes Union Ministers for Finance, Environment, Agriculture, Mining, Commerce and Industries, Petroleum and Law. It is led by Home Minister Amit Shah.
Limestone auctions by the Centre have witnessed winning bids as high as ₹735 a tonne, as per latest data available with the Ministry of Mines.
Analysts estimate that the effect of inflated prices in limestone bidding will only reflect in the long term. This is because remaining lease period for the limestone reserves allotted (under the old regime) to cement manufacturers on a royalty basis is very long.
This is also reflected in the fact that, over the last three years, since the amendment to MMDR Act, only 2.7 billion tonnes have been auctioned. This is only 1% of the 230 billion tonne limestone reserves in the country.
Binod Modi, the Research Analyst, Reliance Securities, said that the players could eventually pass on the increase in the cost of limestone through price rise in the future, given the dominance of few players, thereby securing their margins.
NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar said that India has become a more attractive investment destination following the reduction in corporate tax rates but relocation of units from competitors such as China will depend on other factors as well, such as the ability of states to make their environment more business-friendly.
He said the lowering of minimum alternate tax (MAT) will once again make special economic zones attractive for setting up export-oriented units and that there is a need to set up coastal economic zones, which will be much larger than the run-of-the-mill SEZs.
He envisaged that the current measures taken by the government will significantly push up economic growth and GDP of India will grow higher than 7.5% in the second half of FY20.
The commerce ministry has sent the proposed National Logistics Policy, aimed at promoting seamless movement of goods across the country and reducing high transaction cost of traders, to the Cabinet for approval, a senior official said.