No expansion of CIL’s projects sans public hearing: Panel

The denial by the EAC to allow Coal India Limited (CIL) to expand may upset the coal ministry’s target of extracting one billion tonne of fuel by 2020 from state-run collieries.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published: September 5, 2015 3:08:23 am

An expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Union environment ministry has ruled out state-run Coal India’s demand to allow a one-time capacity expansion of the company’s existing projects without fresh public hearing.

The denial by the EAC to allow Coal India Limited (CIL) to expand may upset the coal ministry’s target of extracting one billion tonne of fuel by 2020 from state-run collieries. CIL had appealed to the environment ministry in June to allow it a one-time capacity expansion to help meet the target.

Coal minister Piyush Goyal had even met his environment ministry counterpart Prakash Javadekar on July 10 and deliberated at length on the issue. A senior CIL official told The Indian Express on Friday that operationaliation of fresh projects has been hampered owing to delay in authentication of land, improper land records with various states, delays in identification of relief and rehabilitation sites by state governments, exorbitant demand from project-affected people beyond the norms and also delay in obtaining green clearances from the states “so the sole option left with us is to enhance output from the on-going projects”.

“Since Coal India’s existing projects already have environmental clearances and do not entail increase in mine leasehold areas and no acquisition of private land. They do not need any change in overall mine layout and final mine closure plan. So we had asked the Expert Appraisal Committee to consider allowing us a one-time capacity expansion without any fresh public hearing,” the official reasoned.

But the Expert Appraisal Committee in its meeting reasoned that enhancement in output will automatically reduce the mine life and adversely impact livelihood of the local communities around the collieries.

It argued that while considering any such proposal, a detailed sample study for socio-economic aspects needs to be carried out to assess the extent of impact. “The enhancement may also impact the air quality, coal handling and transportation. Blanket permission for 50 per cent expansion without public hearing under 7(ii) of EIA Notification, 2015 and without capping for sustainable mining cannot be given,” according to the minutes of the EAC meet.

CIL has already conveyed to ministry its 172 projects require land acquisition, while 73 mines are encountering relief and rehabilitation issues.

A total of 121 projects require development of railway infrastructure for evacuation, 212 mines require environment clearance and 154 projects need forestry clearance.

Operationalisation hampered

* CIL had appealed to the environment ministry in June to allow it a one-time capacity expansion to help meet the target.
* Coal minister Piyush Goyal had even met his environment ministry counterpart Prakash Javadekar on July 10 and deliberated at length on the issue.

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