The Ministry of Environment and Forests has cleared seven to eight more projects of Coal India Limited that have been stranded for about a year, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said in New Delhi.
"Jairam Ramesh (Environment Minister) met me in the morning today and said that his ministry has approved Coal India's seven to eight stranded projects," Jaiswal told PTI in an interview.
As per information, out of the seven to eight projects given the green signal by the Environment Ministry, four are situated in Orissa -- namely the Vasundhara West, Samleswari, HBI and Delhpai projects.
"Ramesh has also assured me to clear some more projects," he said.
The development comes close on the heels of Ramesh softening his stance on "no go" status for coal blocks falling in environmentally sensitive areas during the meeting of a Group of Ministers (GoM) on Coal last week, where he assured that he will be "positive" toward infrastructure projects.
Jaiswal exuded confidence that the Ramesh-led ministry will soon sort out issues hurting coal production, adding, "Even before the GoM, 14-15 of our projects have been approved."
Earlier this month, the Coal Ministry had said that 15 of Coal India Ltd's (CIL) projects that have been waiting for environmental clearance were likely to get the green signal in another two months.
The projects could not get clearance as the area under which they fell were categorised as 'critically polluted' under the Comprehensive Environment Pollution Index (CEPI).
CEPI captures the various health dimensions of the environment and acts as a warning tool to facilitate early intervention.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had last month asked the MoEF to revisit projects that were barred under CEPI. Subsequently, Ramesh said last week that the moratorium will soon be lifted in 25 areas, adding that restrictions in 13 areas have already been lifted.
Meanwhile, a total of 154 projects of the world's top coal miner, with a production potential of about 210 million tonnes (MT), are awaiting various environment and forest clearances and the issue has already been discussed by both the ministries, Jaiswal said.
The coal and environment ministries have been at loggerheads for over a year after mining was disallowed in 203 blocks classified as 'no-go' zones in 2009, stalling projects with a production potential of 660 million tonnes of coal a year.