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Ecuador drills near an Amazon nature reserve calls it the start of a new era

Ecuador drills for oil near an Amazon nature reserve and the government blamed the international community for this failure

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Members of the media inspect measures taken at the ITT, or block 43, oil block by Petroamazonas to minimize impact on the environment during oil production in Tiputini, Ecuador, Sept. 7, 2016. Source: VOA
  • Ecuador began drilling for oil Wednesday near an Amazon nature reserve known as Yasuni
  • Around half of Ecuador’s income comes from oil, according to the World Bank.
  • Correa’s government blamed the international community for the failure of a plan once seen as a possible model for other developing countries seeking to resist the lure of oil money

Ecuador began drilling for oil Wednesday near an Amazon nature reserve known as Yasuni, a site that President Rafael Correa had previously sought to protect from development and pollution under a pioneering conservation plan.

Correa in 2007 asked wealthy countries to donate $3.6 billion to offset revenue lost by not drilling in the Yasuni National Park. But the initiative was scrapped in 2013 after it brought in less than 4 percent of the amount requested.

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Correa’s government blamed the international community for the failure of a plan once seen as a possible model for other developing countries seeking to resist the lure of oil money. Wednesday’s drilling by the state oil company Petroamazonas began in the ITT (Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini) block at Tiputini, which is just outside Yasuni. Ishpingo and Tambococha are within the Yasuni reserve itself.

Workers walk past machinery at Miranda Port in Tiputini, Ecuador, Sept. 7, 2016.
Workers walk past machinery at Miranda Port in Tiputini, Ecuador, Sept. 7, 2016. Source: VOA

Correra has said previously that drilling would affect less than 1 percent of the reserve.

“It’s the start of a new era for Ecuadorean oil,” said Vice President Jorge Glas after a tour of the site Wednesday.

“In this new era, first comes care for the environment and second responsibility for the communities and the economy, for the Ecuadorean people,” he told reporters, adding that the cost of production was less than $12 per barrel.

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Ecuador is OPEC’s smallest member and has suffered heavily from the fall in oil prices. Around half its income comes from oil, according to the World Bank.

It is also one of the world’s most biodiverse nations, boasting Amazon rainforest, Andean mountains and the Galapagos Islands.

The end of Ecuador’s conservation initiative for the eastern Yasuni, a vast swath of rainforest on the equator, drew outrage from environmentalists when it was first announced.

“This is the worst imaginable place to be drilling for oil. The world can simply not afford to lose a place like Yasuni,” Kevin Koenig, Ecuador program director at Amazon Watch, said in a statement.

About 1.67 billion barrels of oil lie under Yasuni’s soil.

With output from the Tiputini field, Ecuador’s oil production will rise to some 570,000 barrels per day (bpd) from a current level of about 550,000 bpd, government officials say. (VOA)

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DPIIT Sends Questionnaire to Amazon, Flipkart on FDI Norms Adherence: Report

The body also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should constitute a group of ministers (GoM) to look into the distortions in both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar formats of retail

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Flipkart Buys Back Shares Worth $350 mn.
New e-commerce norms to impact e-tailers: Flipkart. IANS

After repeated complaints by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) over alleged violation of FDI norms by e-commerce majors, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has sent a questionnaire to Amazon and Flipkart over their adherence to the norms for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

The questions are concerned with their fund flow, business model and inventory management, people in the know of things said, adding that it also asks the names of their respective top five sellers and price list of vendors on these platforms.

Official sources said that the department would look into their replies and then decide whether more clarification is required or any action needs to be taken.

“It is basically related to the complaints of small retailers, and a series of questions have been sent to them which are relevant to understand the allegations which small retailers make about these online platforms which are under FDI,” a source told IANS.

Questions sent to Amazon and Flipkart by IANS, however, were not immediately replied.

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Traders’ body CAIT has time and again approached the government for its intervention regarding the “deep” discounts offered by these platforms during festival sales. CAIT recently sought an independent audit of the business models of both Amazon and Flipkart on the charges of predatory pricing and deep discounting, among others.

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An Amazon Prime Truck is on the Road in Virginia, transporting thousands of items ordered from online giant Amazon. (D Bekheet/VOA)

The move by DPIIT comes after Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal last week warned of strict action against e-commerce companies if they were found violating India’s e-commerce policy.

In a related development, CAIT on Sunday alleged that not only the e-commerce companies, but even large number of brands in mobile, FMCG, electronics, electrical appliances, footwear, garments, gift articles, watches and other segments as well as several banks are also responsible for distortion of prices of different products on online portals.

“It is apparent that these brand-owning companies are also exploiting the offline market being hand in glove with e-commerce companies having separate price policy for both online and offline markets which is a clear violation of the Competition Act,” CAIT said in a statement.

It also criticised the banks which give cash back and different types of discounts for purchasing goods from e-commerce portals by making payments through their respective credit or debit cards.

The body also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should constitute a group of ministers (GoM) to look into the distortions in both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar formats of retail. (IANS)