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Panel removes green hurdle to coal mining

Change in norms

New Delhi, May 30: A ministerial panel, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, today decided to do away with the controversial “go, no go” classification of coal blocks and recommended conditional forest clearances to Reliance Power’s Chhatrasal and Essar-Hindalco’s Mahan coal mines in Madhya Pradesh.

The “go, no go” classification is estimated to have impacted 660 million tonnes of annual coal production.

“The GoM today decided to do away with the go, no go classification and the environment ministry will issue appropriate orders in this regard,” an official, who attended the meeting, said.

In 2009, the MoEF had categorised 203 coal blocks as “go” and “no go” on environment grounds. In “no go” areas, mining was disallowed.

Meanwhile, the expert panel set up by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had suggested clearances for the Chhatrasal and Mahan coal blocks subject to certain conditions.

“The report of the MoEF expert committee has been accepted by the GoM,” the official said.

Anil Ambani group firm Reliance Power was allotted the Chhatrasal mine for its 4,000MW project at Sasan. The Mahan coal block was jointly allocated to Essar and Hindalco for a power project.

Sources said the approvals were subject to conditions, including mandatory spending of 5 per cent of the total project cost in corporate social responsibility activities.

Among other conditions are rehabilitation of displaced people affected by the projects and contingency plan to mitigate disturbance caused to ground water.

Sources said the approval to the Chhatrasal block — which could have a peak production of five million tonnes per year — provided fuel security to the Sasan power project.

 
 
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