A Group of Ministers (GoM) will examine threadbare the environment ministry’s proposal to categorise certain coalfields as “inviolate areas” when it meets on May 30. It will also seek answers from the ministry on whether it can constitute more forest advisory committees for granting faster green clearances besides relaxing norms under Forests Rights Act for transmission lines.
The GoM headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee,which has already met several times to deliberate on ways to streamline environmental clearances (ECs) in coal-bearing areas,has already recommended abolishing the controversial system of go,no-go proposed by former environment minister Jairam Ramesh. Instead,it has asked environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan to examine and suggest ways for expediting green clearances to stranded coal and power projects worth nearly than Rs 1,00,000 crore.
In the GoM’s March meeting,Natarajan had said that while she was open to considering the recommendation of BK Chaturvedi Committee that each project proposal should be considered on merit,her ministry will evolve a system to keep certain coal mines in no mining zones.
The ministry is learnt to have decided that some forest areas must continue to remain “inviolate” for all kinds of activities. The “inviolate” areas cannot be restricted to national parks,tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries but must also include areas which are endowed with dense forest cover or are rich in biodiversity.
The GoM is keen that coal projects are not subjected to the same objections under the go,no-go regime. It is of the view that all projects in which substantial investments have been made should be taken up in earnest.
The group would also examine the feasibility of relaxing norms under Forest Rights Act for facilitating power transmission lines as recommended by the BK Chaturvedi committee.