A Group of Ministers (GoM) has restricted the environment ministry from executing the system of inviolate mining areas,which would have rendered several acres of coal-bearing areas unmineable leading to a shortage of the fuel for power plants.
This is seen as a setback for environment minister Jayanthi Natarajans efforts to secure her ministrys control on implementing stricter green norms.
The GoM headed by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar in its recent meeting has restrained the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) from executing its proposed system of inviolate areas saying the six parameters and scoring patterns identified in the draft report on such areas appeared to be too restrictive and may lead to further curtailment of mining activities.
The inter-ministerial panel observed that the scientific basis of such parameters need to be analysed further before taking a decision.
MoEF agreed in the meeting to undertake wider consultation with all stakeholders on the six parameters for defining the inviolate areas. The GoM said that until finalisation of new norms,the existing framework will continue, according to the minutes of the meeting which took place on February 18.
The proposed inviolate mechanism would deal a blow to the countrys power,steel and cement plants,which are still reeling under the impact of the earlier system of go,no-go zones imposed by Natarajans predecessor Jairam Ramesh,which had rendered about 660 million tonne of coal reserves unmineable.
The necessity of propelling economic growth at 8 per cent has emerged as a pressing concern for the UPA government,which is keen that green hurdles do not impede it in an unwarranted manner.
This was evident when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told a gathering at a CII event last week that the Cabinet Committee on Investment has streamlined the processes of granting green clearances for mega projects and cited that clearances for 12 coal mining projects have been fast-tracked,adding 37 MT to the coal production.
Seen in this context the GoMs directive is another measure to curtail the environment ministry from imposing a restrictive regime.