Ramesh, Jaiswal shake hands on coal-mining policy | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Ramesh, Jaiswal shake hands on coal-mining policy

Following a direction from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Coal minister Shriprakash Jaiswal and Environment minister Jairam Ramesh today almost reached a compromise on Ramesh's controversial Go-No Go policy for coal mining.

delhi Updated: Feb 09, 2011 01:10 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Following a direction from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Coal minister Shriprakash Jaiswal and Environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday almost reached a compromise on Ramesh's controversial Go-No Go policy for coal mining.

The two ministries are expected to announce a compromise on Thursday and environment clearance to at least five coal mines of Coal India Limited, which fall in go areas.

After a joint exercise with Coal ministry, Ramesh in 2010 had listed about 35 % of forest area in 17 coal mining zones as no go for mining, resulting in protest by Jaiswal. The Coal ministry had also circulated a Cabinet note seeking to reduce No Go areas to just 10 % of the forestland.

In what is being seen as a climbdown, Ramesh has agreed to allow coal mining in no go areas in Eastern Coal Fields and in Mahanadhi area of Orissa, following a direction from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week.

Go No Go controversy

In 2010, Environment ministry categorized 35 % of coal bearing area in forests as no go.

It meant that 17 major projects of Coal India would not get environment clearance.

Coal ministry opposed the proposal and circulated a Cabinet note saying only 10 % of forestland should fall under the No Go areas.

Ramesh refused to budge saying only five percent additional forestland could be provided for mining.

Last week PM Manmohan Singh called Ramesh and Shriprakash Jaiswal and asked them to sort out differences between the GoM meets.

Today's meeting was result of that direction.

The PM had also asked the two ministers to resolve the issues before the first meeting of 12 member Group of Ministers on environment clearance headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee. The environment ministry has also been asked to revisit its go-no go policy for coal mining.

Jaiswal said they have arrived at a consensus on many issues and are hopeful to resolve majority of them before the GoM on coal. “We are meeting again on Thursday to resolve some pending issues,” Ramesh told HT.

Coal India, which accounts for 80 % of India's coal production, in its red herring prospectus for its IPO in 2010 had said it will get environment clearance for coal mining in some of the no go areas by end of current financial year.

Under the compromise, the ministry will give conditional clearances and Coal India will have to take additional steps to minimise impact of mining on local environment and forests.

The meeting between the two ministers, which lasted for over an hour, is seen as a move to meet the commitment to shareholders of Coal India.

According to the Coal Ministry's estimates, the widening demand-supply gap of the fossil fuel is likely to touch 142 million tonnes next fiscal from projected 84 million tonnes in the current fiscal.

"Both the ministries would come out with decisions that would be in the interest of the country, its industrialization and augment its power generation capacity," Jaiswal said.