December 31, 2021 12:50:18 pm
The Rajasthan government has received environmental clearance from Union environment ministry for mining in Chhattisgarh’s Hasdeo Aranya Coal Field, state officials said on Thursday, months after the Wildlife Institute of India raised concerns over the project.
The state has received clearance for Phase 2 of Parsa (East) and Kete Basan (PEKB) in Chhattisgarh, said Subodh Agarwal, additional chief secretary for energy, in a statement on Thursday.
Approval from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) will enable the state to start mining activities in an area of 1,136 hectares in PEKB, he said.
Rajasthan will now need approval of the Chhattisgarh government on both proposals. The Congress-led governments in the two states, however, are at loggerheads over mining clearance in Parsa block, located at Surguja district of Chhattisgarh.
The Indian Express reported in November that despite a biodiversity report from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) warning that forests in Hasdeo Aranya Coal Field (HACF) should be declared a “no-go area”, the Chhattisgarh government was pushing for permission to start Phase-II of mining in the PEKB coal block, in the same area.
“The coal mines along with the associated infrastructure development would result in loss and fragmentation of habitat,” the WII had said.
The PEKB coal block is owned by state-owned Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL), and the official mine developer and operator (MDO) is Adani Enterprises.
According to Rajasthan power minister Bhanwar Singh Bhati, the state currently meets its coal requirement for thermal plants from the first phase of PEKB. However, only one month of coal supplies are left in phase-1 due to depletion of reserves over time, he said, adding that central clearance was granted after the Union environment ministry was pressured.
According to minutes of the meeting of MoEF&CC’s Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) held on December 23, the FAC recommended going ahead with the proposal for Phase-II mining of PEKB after a sub-committee visited the site and submitted a report.
“In view of the above submissions, the Sub-Committee of the FAC is of the opinion that the FAC may consider recommending commencement of mining in the Phase-II area, supposed to start after 15 years of start of mining in the Phase-I area within 1898.328 ha of Forest land in 2012,” the documents said, detailing minutes of the meeting.
A top official of the RRUVNL, who did not wish to be named, said that after getting the central clearance, the Rajasthan government will hope to secure timely approval from Chhattisgarh for mining at PEKB and Parsa Block.
The two governments differ on mining clearance in Parsa block, where tribal people have opposed the move.
After appeals to his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel did not yield results, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in December approached Congress President Sonia Gandhi over the issue. Rajasthan has repeatedly said it will run out of coal to power its thermal plants if it is not granted permission to expand mining in Chhattisgarh.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.