CoalMin to seek cabinet nod for early MoEF clearances

Firing another salvo at the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for not according timely clearances to coal projects, the Coal Ministry has decided to soon seek the union cabinet's nod for a directive to the MoEF to clear all projects without any reference to Go and No Go areas and "as per current stipulations for according environmental clearances."

In a draft note for the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI), the coal ministry pointed out that the concept of Go and No Go as mooted by environment ministry led by Jairam Ramesh was of recent origin and based on the coal blocks approved by his ministry (between 1994-2008) the "project proponents have gone far ahead in the absence of a clearly articulated forest clearance norms." The ministry pointed out that there was no prohibition on diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes, provided prior approval of the Centre is obtained and for which conditions have been laid down for compensatory afforestation taken up for getting MoEF approval on the same lines as the power sector. "All Forestry Clearances (FC) proposals should be considered for approval by the MoEF unless there are insurmountable issues on the grounds of wildlife forest reserves," it said in the note and argued that project proponents could be mandated to regenerate forest areas with higher density plantations.

The ministry argued that merely on the basis of forest cover, the clearances of coal mining should not in a responsible be stopped because there was now documented evidence available that "the coal sector was performing in a responsible manner towards regeneration of forests."

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