Rejecting the recommendations of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Thursday gave in principle approval to open up Tara, Parsa East and Kante Basan coal-blocks in the Hasdeo-Arand forest region of Chhattisgarh.
But, in the same vein the minister also pointed out that no permission for coal mining can be given in main Hasdeo-Arand forest area as it will several damage the fragile ecosystem of the region.
Admitting that it will mean huge revenue loss to the Chhattisgarh government, the minister sought green bonus by way of additional central assistance or additional allocation of power from the central pool.
In his order Ramesh said he disagrees with the final recommendations" of the FAC, which advised him to reject the proposals made by the Chhattisgarh government to open up the coal-blocks.
The minister, however, said the final approval will be "contingent" on the state government demonstrating "full compliance" with the provisions of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
Citing six reasons for overruling FAC recommendations, he said the coal-blocks are "actually not" in a "no-go area" in the Hasdeo-Arand forest region.
"As long as mining is restricted to the fringe area and as long as the state government does not come up with fresh applications for opening up the main Hasdeo-Arand area, I am of the opinion that permission can be accorded for Tara, Parsa East and Kante Basan," Ramesh said.
He said the FAC recommendations arise from the "substantial changes that have been introduced in the mining plans as originally envisaged". "When the project proponent is prepared to demonstrate some flexibility to accommodate our concerns, I think, we should also reciprocate," Ramesh said.