25% additional output anticipated from these blocks; Sharad Pawar to head GoM

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has turned down a Coal Ministry proposal to fast-track and extend environmental clearance to Coal India’s 13 projects. Green nod to these projects would have facilitated mining of 25 per cent additional coal.

“MoEF has said it will not fast-track and follow the regular procedure to offer extension of these blocks,” said a Coal Ministry official. The issue was discussed between the Ministries and Prime Minister’s Office. This was one of the options discussed to ramp up Coal India’s output.

The Coal Minister, Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal, said on July 2 that these are brownfield projects and no new clearances are required.

“This is just an extension where mining is currently under way,” Mr Jaiswal had said.

“At present, the approved environmental clearance of these projects in 114.60 million tonnes and they have applied for 125.13 million tonnes against which the targeted production for 2012-13 is 123.60 million tonnes,” said a Coal Ministry official,

The official added that if 25 per cent additional environmental clearance capacity is approved, these projects are planned to produce 145.91 million tonnes in 2016-17. The issue was considered by Group of Ministers (GoM) on September 20, 2011, where MoEF has agreed to consider such projects on case to case and merit basis.

According to Coal Ministry, Section 7 (ii) of the EIA Notification 2006 provides for exemption of public hearing for expansion projects after due diligence for projects which have obtained environmental clearance earlier.

The Government has appointed the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, to head the GoM that considers the environmental and developmental issues relating to coal mining and other development projects.

siddhartha.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 23, 2012)
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