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Ramesh puts his foot down on Morga-II coal-block

Days after clearing a bunch of coal blocks for power plants in Chhattisgarh`s Hasdeo-Arand region, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh rejected forest clearance to another project, saying it is in "no-go" core area.



New Delhi: Days after clearing a bunch of
coal blocks for power plants in Chhattisgarh`s Hasdeo-Arand
region, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday rejected
forest clearance to another project, saying it is in "no-go"
core area and lacks low-emission super-critical technology.

Before rejecting clearance to the GMDC to mine coal in
Morga-II coal-block, Ramesh had complained to the Prime
Minister`s Office (PMO) that Coal Ministry is not considering
alternative Bhalumuda coal-block for the power plant being put
up by KSK Mahanadhi Power Company Ltd in Jhangir-Champa in
Chattisgarh.
In a letter to the PMO, Ramesh said, "There is
absolutely no way that I will agree to Morga-II" and urged
Principal Secretary to Prime Minister to intervene.

"In the last few days, I have shown considerable
flexibility and the least that the Ministry of Coal can do is
to reciprocate in situations where I can not work out a
compromise," he said in the letter.
In a recent order, Environment Ministry had granted
stage-I approval for opening of three stalled coal-blocks in
the fringe of the Hasdeo-Arand region in Chattisgarh.

Ramesh had later said it was a "difficult" decision to
approve the coal blocks after overruling the Forest Advisory
Committee but had stressed that "border line" case have to be
cleared if power capacity addition target has to be met.

In a statement rejecting clearance to Gujarat Mineral
Development Corporation (GMDC), Ramesh today said, "Morga-II
coal-block is in the core of the biodiversity-rich

Hasdeo-Arand forest area of Chattisgarh", adding that it is
"very clearly in `no-go` area".
Recalling his meeting with directors of KSK Energy
Ventures Limited, Hyderabad, on developing the 1800 MW power
plant in Chhattisgarh, Ramesh said he had "explained to them
that it would be virtually impossible" to give forest
clearance to Morga-II because it is very clearly in the main
Hasdeo-Arand forest region.

"Moreover, the power plant does not use super-critical
technology that leads to 5-8 per cent lower emissions of
carbondioxide," the Minister said and added that the state
government forest officers had expressed their "extreme
reluctance" to open up the coal-block.

Ramesh also asked the Coal Ministry to allot
Bhalumuda coal-block in the Mand-Raigarh region in Chattisgarh
to GMDC. He also pointed out that there is a recommendation
pending before the Coal Ministry supporting the alternative
coal-block that falls in a "go-area".

"In view of the fact that there is a clearly
identified coal-block and in view of the fact that KSK Energy
Ventures itself sees no great difficulty in using this
coal-block as opposed to Morga-II, I am of the view that
forest clearance for Morga-II should not be granted," Ramesh
said.

PTI

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