A green panel has deferred its decision on granting environment clearance to Coal India arm Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) for setting up of a Rs 334.72 crore coal washery in Odisha and asked it to get forest clearance first, and also sought other inputs. MCL has proposed setting up of a coal washery with 10 million tonnes per annum capacity in Basundhara area of IB-Valley Coalfield in Sundergarh district. The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Union Environment Ministry recently examined the MCL’s proposal and sought more information from the company before giving green signal for the project.
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“The EAC, after detailed deliberations, deferred the proposal for want of inputs. It has asked the company to provide firm schedule of obtaining stage-I forest clearance for 29.41 hectares of forest land,” a senior government official told PTI.
As per the proposal, the company wants to set up the project in an area of 43.90 hectare, which comprises 29.41 hectare forest land and 4.33 hectare government non-forest land and 10.16 hectare tenancy land.
With regard to forest land, the EAC has made a strong observation that since the company has not obtained stage-I forest clearance under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, its diversion for non-forestry purposes cannot be permitted.
Also, the EAC has asked MCL to conduct a detailed study on how it would sustain water availability for the proposed washery project by meeting the water requirement of 2,222 cubic meter per day for coal beneficiation from its abandoned Basundhara (east) coal mine, the official said.
The panel has also sought details of mine closure activities already undertaken in respect of Basundhara (East) Coal mine.
Total cost of the proposed Basundhara coal washery project is estimated to be Rs 334.72 crore. The company has proposed to meet the raw coal requirement for the project from Kulda open cast mine located in Basundhara area.
MCL has informed EAC that beneficiation or washing of coal will lead to improvement in performance of power plant, reduction in particulate emission, reduction in load on railway network and reduction in handling and transportation cost of coal and solid waste.
The official said that the EAC will examine the proposal again after the company submits the details.