NEW DELHI: With 70 coal mining proposals awaiting approval from various state governments, the coal ministry has approached the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) seeking general approval and the option of applying directly to it without routing through the states to achieve coal exploration targets.
The matter was taken up at the ministry’s forest advisory committee meeting on July 29 after Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar met Power Minister Piyush Goyal on July 10. The MoEF has thus far given general approval only to linear projects like pipeline and national highways since they are important for the country’s development. The coal ministry officials complained that states were taking unusually long time for processing applications, even after simplification of the format, to obtain approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act-1980 for prospecting of minerals in forest areas.
As on date, 70 proposals, seeking approval under the Act for prospecting coal in forest areas, are pending before various authorities in the state governments concerned, according to the minutes of the forest advisory committee meeting. The forest advisory panel, in turn, has asked the ministry officials to provide geo-referenced maps of areas where prospecting of coal is proposed to be undertaken along with the routes proposed to be utilised to transport drilling rigs.
“The MoEF in consultation with the Forest Survey of India and Wildlife Institute of India may assess the quality of forests and presence of wildlife in such areas. They may also assess the feasibility of undertaking exploration of coal in such areas without construction of new roads,” the panel felt.
It also said that pending a decision on grant of general approval, the environment ministry may convene a meeting of nodal officers of all the states, where proposals seeking coal exploration are pending, and ascertain reasons for the delay so that appropriate action could be taken.
■ The coal ministry says 70 coal mining proposals have been pending with various state govts
■ It wants the ministry of enviroment and forests to let it apply directly for necessary clearances
■ In other words, it doesn’t want to go to the State govts for their approvals anymore
■ The reason for the same being its ambitious targets of coal exploration