• The Indian rupee depreciated by 11 paise to 70.95 against the US dollar in morning trade on Wednesday (October 30, 2019), as investors were cautious ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision.
  • Across Andhra Pradesh, lives of lakhs of construction workers are crumbling due to the severe scarcity of sand, which has turned a rare commodity in the last 50 days.
  • A. Siva Reddy, Chairman, Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association (CREDAI-AP) told that all construction activity across Andhra Pradesh state has come to a halt after the announcement of a new sand policy by the State government.
  • Under this policy, the government took over all aspects of sand mining, including its supply, with the AP Mineral Development Corporation as the nodal agency. However, all the promised sand reaches, as per the policy, are not yet operational.
  • According to a senior executive of a Hyderabad-based listed cement company, construction activity coming to a halt due to the sand scarcity has led to a precipitous dip in cement demand, hitting major cement companies operating in the State.
  • Domestic demand for the mining and construction equipment sector fell 16-17% in the January-August period, due to tight liquidity conditions in the market, delayed payment to contractors and an overall slowdown in the government spending on infrastructure activities, ICRA said.
  • Coal India plans to submit binding bids for acquiring stakes in coking coal assets in Australia and Canada by March 2020. The firm is in the process of appointing merchant bankers for the assets it has identified. The quantum of stake to be bought would be decided after a due diligence.
  • Coal India’s domestic reserves are inadequate to meet India’s demand. “The idea is to import coking coal into India since the country does not have adequate reserves of this category of the fossil fuel which is mainly used in metallurgical industries,” said chairman AK Jha.
  • The plan is to set up coking coal and high-grade thermal coal mining business overseas with a view to acquiring coal resources, producing the fuel and importing it either by opening new mines or through acquisition of equity participation in working mines on production-sharing participation interest basis.
  • An inter-ministerial group is looking at relaxing norms in the sectors where currently 100% FDI is not permitted through automatic route.
  • Foreign investment is allowed through automatic route in most of the sectors, but in certain areas such as defence, telecom, media, pharmaceuticals and insurance, government approval is required.
  • In some sectors like telecom, insurance, banking, and media, there is cap on FDI limit.
  • Under government route, a foreign investor has to take prior approval of respective ministry/department. Through automatic approval route, the investor just needs to inform the RBI after the investment is made.
  • In the wake of tepid response received from the industry towards recent solar auctions, the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) has amended the terms for bidders, allowing developers more time and flexibility to set up projects.