Don't blame environment ministry for coal shortage: Natarajan
New Delhi: The shortage of coal should not be blamed on green clearances as the environment ministry has given licences for coal mining and power projects way beyond the energy targets for 2017, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said Wednesday.
When it was pointed out that the apex court wanted mining to be stopped in buffer zones around tiger reserves, Natarajan said, "We will abide by the Supreme Court order. My job is to make sure that the buffer zone is protected and the environment is protected to the best of my capacity."
She said the environment ministry is being wrongly projected as a hurdle in development.
"I believe that the ministry of environment is wrongly viewed as a stumbling block. We can support with figures and facts that we have given clearances for both coal mining and in terms of other clearance way beyond the energy targets, even the one projected by the 12th Plan (2012-17)," she said.
"So it not the ministry of environment responsible for the shortage of coal if any…I am not sure what the status of coal is but it's certainly not because of green clearances," she said.
Coal India Limited, a public sector coal mining company, has written to the government about acute shortage of coal to meet the power demand in the country.
Natarajan said licences to mine up to 830 million tonnes of coal had been given and if the quantity of coal extracted was less, it was not the environment ministry's fault.
"Similarly, for power generation, according to the 12th Plan, 1 lakh MW power is required and we have given licences already for up to 2 lakh MW of power. So our ministry is not standing in the way of power generation or coal mining," she added.