An environment ministry committee has declined the expansion of a major mine run by a Coal India subsidiary in Chhattisgarh citing “serious” violation of environmental laws, including not being able to maintain air quality in its area of operation.
The Kasmunda coal mine expansion proposal of South Eastern Coalfields, a Coal India subsidiary, had sought environment approval for a 10-time expansion of its existing mining capacity from six million tonnes per annum.
The request was, however, opposed by local environment groups and the EIA Resource Centre, saying the mining in the area has resulted in high air and water pollution in Korba district of Chhattisgarh, home to a large number of tribals.
The ministry expert appraisal committee on coal mining, in its last meeting, found value in the contention of the NGOs as the project proponent failed to give satisfactory replies to the allegations.
“After detailed deliberation, the EAC recommended that pending a policy decision in respect of violation of environmental laws, duly endorsed by the court of law and also till the infrastructure proposed is put in place, no expansion beyond the sanctioned capacity will be permitted,” the EAC said.
The proposed expansion of the coal mine in the left wing extremism-affected area would result in relocation of 17 villages and impact 135 schools and 90 public health centres in the area.
The company was seeking expansion for the project despite its earlier mining turning Korba into a critically polluted area as per monitoring by the Chhattisgarh Pollution Control Board.