Govt may prioritise big-ticket projects for environment clearance

Last Updated: Friday, August 6, 2010 - 15:37

New Delhi: The government may prioritise mining projects for granting environment clearances in which significant investments have been made but are stuck in no
mining zones.

"The companies, which have made significant investments in blocks which were declared in no-go areas ... their cases could be given priority. PMO is involved, my ministry, environment ministry and Planning Commission is involved in finding a solution to the issue," Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told a news agency here.

The statement of the minister comes on the day when the Prime Minister`s Office has called a meeting of officials from the ministries of coal, power, environment to look at all
options for getting blocked projects off the ground.

The proposal forwarded by a ministerial panel to the PMO last week is part of government`s efforts to find a solution to the issue of classification of coal mining belt into `go` and `no-go` areas which saw the ministries of coal and environment locking horns.

As per such a classification, about half of the coal bearing forest area of nine coalfields has been declared no-go area, due to which, the coal ministry says, the country could
see a coal shortage of 500 million tonnes in next few years.

As per the proposal, sources said, a solution for coal mining projects of Vedanta group firm Hindustan Zinc, Aditya Birla Group firm Ultra Tech, Prakash Industries, which are
said to have made over 50 percent of the total investments, could be considered.

Hindustan Zinc, MSP Steel among others are learnt to have invested as much as Rs 2,700 crore out of the total investment of about Rs 4,200 crore in Madanpur South block jointly
allocated to them in Hasdeo-Arand coal fields.

"The industry has also been demanding allocation of alternate coal blocks in lieu of the blocks which have been declared in the no-zone area by the Ministry of Environment
and Forests. The government has not taken any decision on it yet," a person in the know of the development said.

However, with the matter now being discussed at the PMO level, Jaiswal said, "A solution is expected before Coal India initial public offer is launched." CIL is slated to launch its 4-day public offer on October 18. The issue is billed to be India`s biggest till date and may raise up to Rs 15,000 crore.

Last month, after PMO`s intervention, a high-level inter-ministerial panel had recommended that mining be allowed in as many as 77 coal blocks that were made no-go affair by the Environment Ministry. Now, as many as 126 blocks are in the `no-go` area against the earlier 203.

PTI



First Published: Friday, August 6, 2010 - 15:37

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