Plan panel for 'sensible' definition of 'no-go' mining areas

"If we get a sensible definition of what is 'no-go'... something that is called 'no-go' for now does not have to be 'no-go' for ever," Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said on the sidelines of public private partnership (PPP) conclave.

"The criteria that we use to establish what is 'no-go' should be very carefully defined and should be based on some scientific considerations," Ahluwalia said, adding, "But the main point is that they should be flexible."

He said he had taken up the issue with Ramesh and "he is quite willing to be flexible in what the criteria should be".

Of late, there have been widespread concerns over the Environment Ministry's classification of 'no-go' areas, which have hit projects of companies like Hindustan Zinc, UltraTech and Essar group, said such areas need not be excluded from mining activities for ever.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has divided mineral bearing regions into 'go' and 'no-go' areas. As per the guidelines, the mining is allowed only in the 'go' areas.

Recently, the Coal Ministry had sought the Cabinet approval for its proposal that mining be allowed in 90 per cent of coal blocks labelled as 'no-mining' areas by the environment ministry.

There are 206 coal blocks spread across 4,039 sq km in nine coalfields, with a production potential of 660 million tonnes (MT), which have been designated as 'no go' areas.

Recently, the Coal Ministry sought the Cabinet approval for its proposal that mining be allowed in 90 per cent of coal blocks labelled as 'no-mining' areas by the environment ministry.

The Coal Ministry, in a note to the Cabinet Secretary is believed to have sought expeditious forest clearance for all coal blocks under 'no go' areas except 10 per cent of them.

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