Mining to be allowed in 5 coal blocks

Mining to be allowed in 5 coal blocks

The five blocks—all in Odisha’s Ib valley—were earlier in the “no-go” zone, which entailed  a complete halt to mining .

The beneficiary of the minister’s turn-around would be a 4000 MW ultra-mega power plant being developed by the Central government, a 1600 MW unit of National Thermal Power Corporation and a 1320 MW unit of the Orissa Power Generation Corporation. The power plants will come up in Sundergarh and Jharsuguda districts of the state.

Since all the five coal blocks are now in the “go” area, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) in the Union Environment and Forest ministry would  now consider the OPGC proposal, pending with the FAC, Ramesh said .  Other two projects would also be considered when the state submits the proposal, he said.

Ramesh further claimed that the turn-around in the zoning was done after project proponents agreed to bring in major changes in their mining plans leading to the saving of more forest land and felling of lesser number of trees. They will also help regenerate degraded forest land.

This is for the second time within a week when Ramesh reversed his earlier stand to allow coal mining in the forest area. On June 23 he approved three coal mines in the vicinity of pristine Hasdeo-Arand forest in Chhattishgarh after fiercely blocking mining activity in that area for one and half years.

Because of the minister’s  opposition to numerous power and mining projects, he had a run in with many of his Cabinet colleagues and chief ministers on the matter.

With the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) receiving regular complaints, a Group of Minister (GoM) was set up under the chairmanship of Pranab Mukherjee to sort out the problems.

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