New Delhi: The meeting called by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to hammer out a consensus on the
grant of environmental clearances for power, coal and steel
projects has been postponed.
"The meeting which was to be chaired by Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh today has been postponed," an official in the
Coal Ministry told agency.
Streamlining the process for granting forestry and
environment clearance to enable new projects to take off
quickly and fixing a maximum time limit of 150 days for such
approvals were expected to be the main items on the agenda for
the high-level meeting, according to sources.
The other issues were likely to come up for discussion in
the meeting convened by the Prime Minister include seeking
cooperation from coal-producing states to address problems
relating to land acquisition, rehabilitation and law and
The Ministry of Environment and Forests is at loggerheads
with the ministries of coal, power and steel over the grant of
statutory environmental and forestry clearances to projects in
areas situated in dense forests, which it has classified as
`no go` zones.
While the Environment Ministry has insisted that green
concerns trump the need for infrastructure projects, its
counterparts have railed against projects of vital importance
to the economy being stonewalled.
A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Finance Minister
Pranab Mukherjee has been grappling with the inter-ministerial
tussle over `go` and `no-go` mining areas, as classified by
the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The GoM met twice, in February and April, to try and
resolve the differences between ministries, but with little
success as the Environment Ministry has refused to modify its
The ministers who were to attend this meeting convened by
the Prime Minister include Mukherjee, Power Minister Sushil
Kumar Shinde, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, Environment
Minister Jairam Ramesh, Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma and
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
The demand-supply gap for coal in the current fiscal has
been estimated at 142 million tonnes by the Planning
According to the Coal Ministry, the `no go` mining policy
has affected the potential production of 660 million tonnes of
coal per annum.