Friday, February 11, 2011

Ramesh, Jaiswal meet; GoM will now take up contentious no-go issue

NEW DELHI: A second round of meeting between the Union environment and coal ministers on Friday yielded some results though the contentious no-go zoning plan remained unresolved. It will now be taken to the meeting of the group of ministers headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Environment minister Jairam Ramesh offered to call a meeting of the senior forest officials from Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra to expedite forest clearances at the state level.

Also, in an attempt to ease the process he offered to amend the compensatory afforestation rules and allow coal miners to plant trees on degraded forest lands instead of going on a wild hunt for difficult to find new government land.

The coal ministry, headed by Sriprakash Jaiswal, submitted a list of 15 projects that are awaiting final environmental clearance out of which it was pointed out four were awaiting clarifications from the coal companies.

The mismanagement at the coal company's end was also highlighted between the two. One project where actual production is far less than the permitted levels, it was noted, has asked for expansion. Three coal mines where illegal extraction has been carried out in excess of clearance have asked for regularisation.

The coal ministry had also demanded that the moratorium put on mining in seven coal blocks due to high levels of industrial pollution be withdrawn. Ramesh has committed to send expert teams to the seven sites to assess improvements if any.

Ramesh also noted that only two of the 55 coal projects awaiting forest clearance were with the Centre, the rest being stuck at the state level for various reasons.

After the meeting though Sriprakash Jaiswal initially told media that the no-go policy had been withdrawn, he soon retracted to align himself with Ramesh in stating that it had not been discussed and would be taken up later at the GoM.

Read more: Ramesh, Jaiswal meet; GoM will now take up contentious no-go issue - The Times of India

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