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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Mining scam: MoEF to set up committee of experts

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 16, 2012
First Published: 12:50 IST(16/9/2012) | Last Updated: 12:54 IST(16/9/2012)

Environment ministry will set up an expert committee to find out the mining companies, including in coal sector, who have failed to start mining despite getting environment clearances and to strengthen the ministry's monitoring process.

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The ministry has given environment clearance to 530 million tonnes to coal but operations to mine only 200 million has started.

Many companies have failed to start mining despite getting the clearance years ago. There is a stipulated time frame within which the operation has to be initiated.

"There will no more clearances for the coal sector unless the existing approvals are utilised," a senior ministry functionary said.

"Mining clearances will also be reviewed".

The committee, ministry officials, said would also look into ways the mining potential for which the clearances have been granted is utilized to its maximum.

"It will also suggest ways to improve environment clearance process to avoid mining scams like the one in Goa," a senior ministry official said.

Justice MB Shah panel had in his report to the government alleged that the environment ministry had issued environment clearances to the projects on basis of wrong information provided by the state government.

Although environment ministry believes that such a conclusion was reached without consulting it, environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan has asked her officials to review all environmental clearances issued to the mining sector in Goa.

"If we receive complaints from other states we will look into it," the minister told HT.

The committee will start its work by reviewing mining clearance given in Goa and the poor monitoring resulting in illegal mining to the scale of Rs. 35,000 crore. It will then examine mining clearances given in other states.

The committee will also study the approval and monitoring processes adopted by the state governments, which enforce the conditions stipulated with the approvals given, officials said.

The committee would be asked make recommendations on improving ministry's monitoring mechanism to check environment violations.

To improve its monitoring mechanism, the ministry has also decided to increase the number of its regional offices from four to six. The ministry will also be seeking more manpower for its regional offices to improve monitoring.

"Civil society and locals will also be key for the new monitoring mechanism," officials said.


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