Government allows shale gas exploration

Policy Matters this week - Government allows shale gas exploration, companies to be ranked for corporate social responsibility and the government relaxes penalties for hydropower companies.
Shale gas exploration in Alaska Source: Wikipedia Shale gas exploration in Alaska Source: Wikipedia

Government allows shale gas exploration

Approving a proposal by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has allowed exploration of shale gas and oil by Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) such as Oil India Limited and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation. A natural gas present in underground rocks, shale gas is considered a cleaner fuel as compared to coal but its exploration can have a huge impact on the environment as a high volume of water, which ends up getting polluted, is needed to extract it.

Companies to be ranked for corporate-social responsibility

After the new Companies' Act that made corporate-social responsibility (CSR) compulsory for all, the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) are now preparing an index to rank companies on the basis of their initiatives and expenditure towards social welfare schemes. Around 8,000 companies will fall under the Act's purview which means an estimated CSR spending of Rs. 12,000-15,000 crore annually. All the companies listed on the BSE will be covered by this index.

Government to relax penalties for hydropower projects

The Ministry of Power plans to relax the penalty that hydropower project developers have to pay on account of a delay in the implementation of projects. The Ministry intends to put forward a cabinet note to this effect. The move will benefit private players like Jaypee and Lanco that deal in merchant power or the electricty sold at market price unlike state-owned power companies that have long term power purchase agreements. Presently, for every six months’ delay in construction, merchant power sales earmarked from a project are reduced by 5%. This will change with the new tariff policy.

Karnataka government to give 90% subsidy for drip irrigation

The state chief minister Siddaramaiah announced a 90% subsidy on drip irrigation after taking into acount the saline condition of soil in north Karnataka. This is due to the excessive use of chemical fertilisers by the farmers in this region, especially in Bijapur and Bagalkot district.

Quarries to fund eco-restoration in Kerala

The Kerala state Expert Appraisal Committee has proposed that fresh licences for quarrying in the state be given environmental clearance only if the quarry owner contributes 1% of the profit to the biodiversity fund of the local panchayat. The amount will be utilised by the panchayat-level Biodiversity Management Committee for ecosystem restoration. The proposal will have to be ratified by the State-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority before it is made applicable. 

This is a weekly roundup of policy matters from September 22-29. Also read last week's news roundup.

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