SC cancels licences of 214 coal blocks

SC in a landmark judgement has cancelled 214 coal blocks issued since 1993 to bring in more transparency in the system. The apex court has granted a 6-month window to companies involved in the businesses to wind up their operations. In addition the companies will be required to pay Rs. 295 per tonne of coal they extract and the also for the one which has been already extracted. The verdict has been based on the irregularities with the set procedure which is to be followed in case of auctions. The court has mentioned that the whole process of allocations has been mired in serious corrupt practices as it suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and glaring legal flaws. The bench headed by CJI RM Lodha stated that, “the Screening Committee has never been consistent, it has not been transparent, there is no proper application of mind, it has acted on no material in many cases, relevant factors have seldom been its guiding factors, there was no transparency and guidelines have seldom guided it.”
The Indian industry has however not taken the decision in the right light and has warned with serious implications for Indian economy which operates on coal. It has expressed concerns about the accentuation of the power crisis and the economic slowdown. The dependence on outside coal will increase. The investments in the sector will be badly affected and the key sectors of power, steel and mining will also bear the brunt.
Despite the drastic responses from the industry the judgement has paved way for the next level of reforms and for inviting more private investments and entry of foreign players. It gives a bright opportunity for government to develop a more competitive market.

Coalition forces start offensive against ISIS

US coalition forces against ISIS have started with the first round of airstrikes against the brutal militant group and its hideouts. The battle as the commanders have put it will only become more hard and prolonged as the militants have started to take shelter in populated civilian areas.
The coalition forces have come prepared for a long battle as the fight will not be easy. The US will be fighting against two enemies-ISIS, which is spreading jihadi movement trying to carve out space on the map for its own country by establishing a Caliphate and also against Khorasan group which is a relatively much smaller group but is known for making plots to attack Europe and US. The coming days will even see more of similar air-strikes to root-out the militant group.
The airstrikes involved Tomahawk Missiles which were launched from sea which were followed by bombers and fighters. The bombing was targeted on the Syrian city of Raqqa which has been under ISIS control since 1 year. The city is considered as the capital of IS and has been used by the group as a control centre which houses weapons, accommodations and training grounds. The city which breathes tough and hardline Islamic rule imposed by the IS, is one of the model cities considered by IS. The airstrikes were meant to paralyze the supply chains of ISIS and cripple their governance for shortage of basic weaponry. US military told media that as the first targets of any air campaign are strategic locations. There were casualties reported on ground but haven’t been specified by the coalition forces. The forces are being seen as a commendable diplomatic achievement of US especially with the overwhelming support of the Arab nations. It is expected the strikes will continue for time to come till a heavy blow is given to IS targets in Syria.
There hasn’t been any confirmed reaction from the ISIS after the attacks which will help the military experts to drive intelligence and chalk out a future plan of action. The US State Department is said to have notified the Syrian regime of the attacks even though it did not seek a formal nod. The Syria has however given its go ahead via its ambassador to the UN in New York.