In a major boost to industry, an empowered committee of the Union environment ministry has cleared 12 big-ticket projects in the steel and mining sector entailing an investment of Rs 28,000 crore.
The expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the ministry had met during the last three days to clear a shelf of stranded projects entailing an investment of nearly Rs 80,000 crore. The EAC has cleared 12 of these projects. The committee is expected to meet shortly again to take a call on the remaining projects. Among those cleared on Saturday are SAIL’s proposed 1 million tonne per annum pellet plant along with upstream slime beneficiation facilities at its Dalli-Rajhara iron ore mine in Chhattisgarh.
The EAC has also vetted modification in existing environmental clearance for the expansion and modernisation of steelmaker’s Bhilai plant. Both these projects have an estimated investment of Rs 19,000 crore. The EAC, in both cases, has asked the company to maintain the ecology and environment in accordance with norms.The projects taken up on Saturday are the first set of stranded investments that the new government is looking to expedite.
Other projects cleared include that of state-run Hindustan Copper and mining corporations of various state governments, which had proposed to execute major projects. The committee has sought additional information from some of the project promoters on the presence of wildlife corridors in their project areas and data on ambient air quality and its impact from a certified laboratory.
The EAC will meet again next month to give a decision on the remaining project once the information sought is in place. This round of meetings will examine coal, power, port, airport and road projects. While examining some cases, the EAC has asked the promoters to factor in the discharge of effluents into rivers that abut the project sites.
Among the projects awaiting a decision are limestone mine of Grasim Industries Limited, spread over 251 hectares in Raipur and a slew of proposals from pharma companies, including approval for their feedstock inputs and fuel.
All of these projects had got stuck at various stages of approvals, both at the Centre and with state governments during the previous UPA government.