The highly controversial Mahan Coal Ltd has received the stage 2 forest clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests for the Mahan coal block in Madhya Pradesh, Essar Energy announced on Thursday. This coal block was allotted in 2006.

Mahan Coal Ltd is held 50 per cent by Essar Power (subsidiary of Essar Energy).

Mahan Coal Ltd will have to sign a mining lease agreement with Madhya Pradesh before commencing operations.

However, green activists expressed discontent with this news. They said this was the latest in the line of the Ministry’s new mandate to extend hasty clearances to infrastructure projects without giving due importance to environmental and social concerns.

According to Priya Pillai of Greenpeace, the project would affect thousands of people in at least 54 villages.

“Despite clear evidence of violations of the Forest Rights Act and other mandatory conditions, Mr. Moily has pushed through Stage II clearance for the Mahan coal block,” Pillai said.