Former environment minister Jairam Rameshs go,no-go policy to keep some areas out of bounds for mining is back with a different name. The environment ministry under Jayanthi Natarajan plans to demarcate some inviolate areas which will not be considered for green clearances.
The ministry had agreed to the recommendations of the B K Chaturvedi committee that all mining projects should be considered on merit. However,it has told a group of ministers chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that the MoEF will set up a mechanism whereby coal mines falling in inviolate areas would not be considered for green clearances.
A committee headed by the MoEF secretary will help identify the inviolate areas. It has been asked to suggest neutral parameters for mining and allied activities,government officials present at the GoM said.
Sources in the coal ministry said that the ‘go,no-go’ system had made uncertain the fate of nearly 200 coal blocks with reserves of 660 million tonnes. Even if these blocks are granted green clearances now,it might be 2-3 years before they are developed,they said.
The sources said Mukherjee and Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma are keen that coal projects are not subjected again to the same objections as under the go,no-go regime. Both are of the view that all projects in which substantial investments have been made,but are awaiting forest clearance,should be taken up in earnest.