Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh could be heading into more political turbulence, this time with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Ramesh has rejected the coal ministry’s demand — backed by the PMO — to increase mining areas by 30 per cent, saying only five per cent is possible. This move is to protect the country’s dense forests.
The environment ministry defines dense forests as ‘no go’ areas for mining. ‘Go’ areas are moderately dense and open forests.
At least 48 per cent of mining areas fall in the ‘no go’ zone.
On May 21, T.K.A. Nair, principal secretary to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, told the environment ministry the present definition of ‘no go’ areas wasn’t agreeable. A meeting was called after the coal ministry objected, saying that up to 35 per cent of coal mining areas would fall under this category.
On Monday, Ramesh told HT that at most, ‘no go’ areas could be reduced by five per cent. “They (coal ministry) want 30 per cent increase in go areas but we cannot increase by more than 5 per cent,” he said.