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Coal block lease under scanner

india Updated: Aug 02, 2009 18:57 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra
Pradip Kumar Maitra
Hindustan Times
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The coal mining of Adani Power Limited near the famous Tadoba Tiger reserve in Chandrapur district may jeopardize following an assurance from the union minister of state for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh to a delegation that if such proposal comes to the ministry it would assess as per laws and regulations regarding wildlife conservation and environmental protection.

The people of Chandrapur are annoyed with the allotment of a coal block to Adani Power Limited near Lohara, adjacent of Tadoba tiger project, with an estimated reserve of about 170 million tones. The proposed coalmines would cater its power plant near Tiroda in the neighbouring Gondia district. The coal block falls within 15 kms of the ecological sensitive area as defined by the forest ministry. The mining lease near Tadoba covers an area of 1,750 hectare and of them 90 per cent area is under forest cover. This is a zone in which no industrial activity, including mining, can be undertaken.

Bandu Dhotre of Eco-Pro, a local environmentalist group, has already launched a fast unto death against the project from July 20 before the Chandrapur collectorate. Dhotre’s health was deteriorated and he was admitted to the local civil hospital on Saturday evening.

The delegation that met the union minister Ramesh in Delhi on Saturday, appraised the present situation. The delegation comprised of Dr Mangesh Gulwade (Indian Medical Association), Subhash Shinde (Chandrapur Traders Association), and Paromita Goswami (Shramik Elgar). The delegation also met the union Coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal with the demand to review the decision to allocate the coal block at Lohara to Adani Power.

The union minister Ramesh reportedly called Dhotre, who is an indefinite fast, over telephone and sent a fax from Delhi, requesting him to give up his strike. However, Dhotre turned down the request to end his fast. The fax sent by the union minister claims that he too is concerned about the protection of environment and tiger reserve. Dhotre’s fast unto death agitation entered 14th day on Sunday. He asserted that he would continue the agitation until the union coal ministry revokes the coal block allocation to Adani near Tadoba and the state government assures in writing of not allowing mining in the area.

Earlier, Lok Sabha members from all parties from Vidarbha region, led by the former union minister Vilas Muttemwar met the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and urged him to cancel the coal block lease there. All the MPs from the region had suggested an alternative coal block for the company where there was no forest and wildlife.