Reworked policy on mining to be unveiled soon

Amid a fight between Ministries of Environment and Coal on mining, the Union Cabinet or the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure is expected to consider soon a reworked policy on the issue.

Last Updated: Sep 26, 2010, 13:41 PM IST

New Delhi: Amid a fight between Ministries of Environment and Coal on mining, the Union Cabinet or the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure is expected to consider
soon a reworked policy on the issue with an aim of striking a balance between development and ecological concerns.

The reworked policy is expected to lay thrust on relaxing the `No-go area` norms laid down by the Environment Ministry for mining, sources told a news agency.

A Cabinet note in this regard is being prepared and it is expected to be considered by the Cabinet or CCI next month, they said.

"A policy has to be put in place to resolve the inter-ministerial conflict," a source said, adding the Prime Minister`s Office is acting as a coordinator in this effort.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has shown accommodative attitude to the effort to break the deadlock between his ministry and the Coal Ministry, sources said.

In March, the Environment Ministry had marked as `no-go` areas 155 coal blocks in nine coal fields that were intended to cater to 10 major power plants.

This had triggered a conflict between the Ministries of Environment and Coal, with the latter saying it would slow down power generation as the banned coal blocks had potential of producing about 660 million tonnes.

The ministry had contended that mining should be banned only in the cases of "pristine forests or wildlife sanctuaries."

The country has about 40 coal-based power plants, accounting for about 70 percent of 162,366 MW of electricity production.

The current production of coal is about 530 million tonnes and the government is of the view that it needs to be doubled in the next six to seven years as the demand for power
is going to increase manifold.

The protagonists in the government argue that coal reserves are usually located in forest areas and a way has to be found to mine these without affecting the ecology, including trees and wildlife.

This can be done by reclaiming and afforesting the pieces of land where mining is undertaken and completed and the process could be carried out in a phased manner, the
sources said.

PTI