THE Union Ministry of Coal has decided to withdraw the Bander coal bock located in the close vicinity of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) from the list of coal blocks up for auction. The ministry put out a list of 41 coal blocks for auction on June 18.
“We are withdrawing the Bander coal block from the list of coal blocks to be auctioned after closer scrutiny of the various aspects involved in the matter,” Union Minister for Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi told The Indian Express.
The listing of the coal block was followed by protests from several wildlife activists as the 1,644-hectare block is believed to be in the eco-sensitive zone of TATR and any mining activity is likely to be detrimental to tiger conservation. The activists said it could obstruct a vital wildlife corridor connecting TATR to other tiger areas in Nagpur, Bhandara and Gondia districts. This, the activists had said, would further intensify the man-animal conflict in Chandrapur district.
Recently, Nagpur-based social worker Pramod Junghare moved the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, seeking its intervention in the matter. The High Court had issued notice to the coal ministry and sought a reply within eight weeks.
Earlier, the coal block was listed for auction in 1999 and 2009, but the proposals were shelved after similar opposition.
Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, who had demarcated coal blocks into go and no-go areas in tandem with the coal ministry on the basis of ecological sensitivity, had written to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, seeking the removal of the Bander coal block from the auction list. Maharashtra Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray had also written to Javadekar in this regard.
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