The environment ministry will set up an expert committee to identify companies, including ones in the coal sector, that have failed to start mining despite getting environment clearances. The move would also help the ministry strengthen its monitoring process.
The ministry has given clearance to extract 530 million tonnes of coal, but mining for only 200 million tonnes is underway. Many companies have failed to start mining despite getting clearances years ago. There is a stipulated time-frame within which the operation has to be initiated.
"No more clearances will be granted to the coal sector unless the existing approvals are utilised," a senior ministry functionary said. "Mining clearances will also be reviewed."Ministry officials said that the committee would also look into ways in which the mining potential is utilised to its maximum.
"It will also suggest ways to improve the environment clearance process to avoid scams such as the one in Goa," a senior ministry official said.
Justice MB Shah Panel, in his report to the government, alleged that the environment ministry had issued environment clearances to the projects on the basis of wrong information provided by the state government.
Although the 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 the matter," she told HT.
The committee will start work by reviewing mining clearance given in Goa and the poor monitoring resulting in illegal mining to the tune of Rs. 35,000 crore. The committee will also study the approval and monitoring processes adopted by state governments.