Chhattisgarh: 40 coal blocks in Lemru reserve not to be mined, says Coal ministry | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Chhattisgarh: 40 coal blocks in Lemru reserve not to be mined, says Coal ministry

Oct 20, 2023 07:04 PM IST

A total 31 coal blocks, spread across 1995 square km of the reserve, and nine coal mines, which adjoin the boundaries of the reserve ,have been exempted

Raipur: The Union coal ministry has said that Coal India Limited’s (CIL) 40 coal blocks in and around the Lemru Elephant Corridor (LEC) will not be auctioned on the request of the Chhattisgarh government.

The Union coal ministry has said 40 coal blocks in the Lemru elephant reserve will not be mined. (HT file photo)
The Union coal ministry has said 40 coal blocks in the Lemru elephant reserve will not be mined. (HT file photo)

The ministry said areas beyond the LEC have also been considered for exemption from mining on the request of the state government.

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“Over 40 new coal blocks having about 10% of the reserve of Chhattisgarh have been decided to be kept out of coal mining auction. Nine coal mines falling in dense Hasdeo-Arand coalfields have also been kept out for further rounds of auctions of coal blocks,” a Coal ministry statement said on Thursday.

A total 31 coal blocks, spread across 1995 square km of the reserve, and nine coal mines, which adjoin the boundaries of the reserve ,have been exempted.

The Coal ministry said it always kept in view the recommendations of the Environment, Forest and Climate Change ministry (MoEFCC) and state governments and no coal mine has been auctioned by ignoring suggestions of the MoEFCC.

In May 2023, the Chhattisgarh government wrote a letter to the federal ministry to refrain from auctioning nine coal blocks out of 23 total coal blocks for commercial mining, citing environmental reasons.

The state government had cited objections raised by the Chhattisgarh Forest and Climate change department on environmental grounds as reason.

The nine coal blocks mentioned were Tara ( Surajpur district), Karkoma ( Korba) , Koilar ( Raigarh), Tendumudi ( Raigarh), Jilga Barpali ( Korba), Barpali Kalmi Tikra ( Korba), Batati Kolga North East (Korba) , Batati Kolga East ( Korba) and Fatehpur south ( Raigarh).

A total of 24 villages would be directly affected if these nine blocks were mined, the state government had then said.

Tara is located in the Hasdeo Arand forest area and six other coal blocks are in the catchment area of the Mand river, which flows through the Mand-Raigarh forest area. The Mand and Hasdeo rivers are important tributaries of the Mahanadi river, which starts from north Chhattisgarh and flows into Odisha.

Also Read: Tara block withdrawn from commercial coal mining auction process

The Hasdeo Arand and Mand-Raigarh coalfields are in the northern part of the state where elephants roam and are an important part of their migratory corridor.

The forests here are the catchment areas of the Hasdeo and Mand rivers, which are critical for the flow of the perennial Mahanadi river.

The Union government in March 2023 announced the 7th round of its coal mine auction. The total number of mines to be auctioned was 101, including the one in the Tara block in Chhattisgarh’s Hasdeo-Arand forests, which has a forest cover of 81 %.

“The Ministry is conscious of the fact that promotion of underground coal mining can help in the conservation of the environment. Accordingly, policy has been approved to promote underground coal mining. Use of technology through deployment of continuous miners, high-wall and long-wall have been promoted. MoEFCC has also permitted exemption from compensatory afforestation requirements for underground mines. In operationalisation of mines through the private sector, incentive provisions are being considered to attract interest into underground mining,” the ministry said in the statement.

Commenting on the decision of Union coal ministry, convenor of the Chhattisgarh Bachaao Andolan, Alok Shukla, who led the protests against mining in this area, called it a big victory for the tribal community of the Hasdeo Arand forest who have long asserted their constitutional and legal rights over land in the region.

“After more than a decade of struggle, the Coal ministry has finally agreed to denotify all coal blocks in Lemru elephant reserve in Hasdeo, and its adjoining areas - 40 coal blocks have been saved from causing irreparable ecological devastation and destruction of the “Lungs of Chhattisgarh”,” said Shukla.

“The BJP government has always worked for environment conservation and this is an example. We want to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has deep concern for tribals and the environment ,” said Ajay Chandrakar, chief spokesperson of BJP.

On the other hand, the ruling Congress party claimed that it was the state government, which had continuously written to the union government to ban mining in Hasdeo Arand region.

“Everything is on record. We have increased the area of the Lemru Elephant Reserve and also wrote several letters to the government to denotify the coal mines of the area. The Congress government has always been pro-tribal in the state,” said RP Singh, Congress spokesperson.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    State Correspondent for Chhattisgarh. Reports Maoism, Politics, Mining and important developments from the state. Covered all sorts of extremism in Central India. Reported from Madhya Pradesh for eight years.

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