The Narendra Modi government plans to give, over the next two days, environmental clearances for Rs 80,000 crore worth of projects. This will be the first set of stranded investments that the government, which was sworn in on May 26, will take up for consideration.
The 28 projects include those of SAIL and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam in the public sector, and those of Aditya Birla Group companies Essel Mining and Grasim in the private sector, sources in the environment ministry said.
All these projects had got stuck at various stages of approvals, both at the Centre and with state governments. They are now expected to be cleared without their having to travel to the Cabinet Committee on Investment set up by the previous UPA government to fast-track project clearances.
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Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment Prakash Javadekar on Thursday promised to ensure “fast clearances” to these projects, but in a transparent manner. He said quick decision making would ensure that the government overcomes the policy paralysis of the previous government on environmental issues.
“We will strike the right balance in conserving ecology and according approval to projects,” Javadekar said. On the table of the environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee are SAIL’s 1 million-tonne per annum pellet plant at its Dalli-Rajhara mines in Chhattisgarh, and the expansion of the marquee Bhilai steel plant and of its captive power project. These projects will release an estimated investment of Rs 19,000 crore.
Essel Mining plans to more than double the capacity of its iron ore mine at Koira in Orissa’s Sundargarh district to 4 MT from the current 1.5 MT. A 1.2-MT pellet plant of the company will also be considered by the panel. These two projects entail a likely investment of over Rs 9,000 crore.
The EAC will also consider a limestone mine of Grasim Industries Limited, spread over 251 hectares in Raipur. A slew of proposals from pharma companies, including approval for their feedstock inputs and fuel, too will come before the panel.