Chhattisgarh clears mining project for Rajasthan, activists raise questions

Updated on Mar 27, 2022 12:01 PM IST

The Chhattisgarh government has given permission to Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam for diversion of forest land for coal mining in an area of 1136 hectare under Phase-II of Parsa East-Kanta Basan coal block.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot (right) met his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Bhaghel (left) in Raipur on Friday and discussed the long-pending permits affecting the supply of coal for the thermal plants in the state. (PTI)
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot (right) met his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Bhaghel (left) in Raipur on Friday and discussed the long-pending permits affecting the supply of coal for the thermal plants in the state. (PTI)
BySachin Saini and Ritesh Mishra

JAIPUR/RAIPUR: The Chhattisgarh government on Saturday approved the second phase of mining on Parsa East and Kente Basan (PEKB) coal block, a day after Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot met his counterpart Bhupesh Bhaghel in Raipur.

The Centre in December last year gave environment clearance to Rajasthan for mining coal from PEKB but necessary clearances from the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh government were awaited, despite repeated reminders and correspondence, leading to a power crisis in the state.

Gehlot met Bhaghel on Friday to discuss long-pending permits affecting the supply of coal for the thermal plants in the state.

The Centre had allotted 15 MTPA coal blocks at Parsa East-Kanta Basan (PEKB) and 5 MTPA capacity at Parsa in Chhattisgarh for 4340 MW power generation units in Rajasthan in 2015.

Of these, mining in the first phase of PEKB coal block was completed this month and coal would no longer be supplied to Rajasthan from here, which was leading to the power crisis.

On Saturday, the Chhattisgarh government directed Surguja district officials to take necessary action regarding allowing commencement of mining in a coal block allotted to Rajasthan power utility while complying with the rules and regulations mentioned in the forest clearance granted by the Centre in this regard.

“Our efforts for the smooth supply of coal for the thermal units of the state have paid off. The Chhattisgarh government has given permission to Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam for diversion of forest land for coal mining in an area of 1136 hectare under Phase-II of Parsa East-Kanta Basan coal block,” Gehlot tweeted. Now there will be a smooth supply of coal to the thermal units of the state, he said.

Gehlot tweeted on Friday that he went to Raipur and met Bhaghel and requested to issue approval for mining in the coal block allotted to Rajasthan for smooth supply of coal to the state. “After a meeting with Bhaghel, the Forest and Climate Change Department of the Government of Chhattisgarh, taking a decision with immediate effect, has given permission for diversion of forest land for coal mining in the second phase of Parsa East-Kanta Basan coal block,” said Gehlot.

The Chhattisgarh state public relations department in a statement last evening said, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in a letter dated February 2 this year has granted permission for diversion of 1,136 hectares of forest land for the second phase coal mining work in Parsa East and Kente Basan coal block (PEKB) which falls in Surguja district.

The district Collector and Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Surguja forest divisions have been directed by the state government to take necessary action while complying with the conditions mentioned in the approval issued by the Centre, it said.

After ensuring compliance with the conditions by the collector and DFO and examining the action plan, a final decision about starting mining work will be taken after thorough consideration, the release added.

The first phase of mining in 762 hectare land in Parsa East and Kente Basan (PEKB) block allotted in 2007, was started in 2013. Two other blocks- Parsa and Kente Extension blocks were allotted in 2015.

Earlier, Gehlot had written twice to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to intervene and resolve the issue with the Chhattisgarh government. The matter was also taken up in a meeting with Rahul Gandhi on February 27, where Bhaghel was also present.

The required permits were stuck in view of the protest by people from the Tribal community and concerns raised by the Wildlife Institute of India. The government was also resisting, especially because of the upcoming assembly elections, which are just one-and-a-half years away from now.

Meanwhile, social and environmental activists have questioned the Chhattisgarh government’s decision, calling it a mockery of the entire process.

“The forest clearance granted by MOEF and the Chhattisgarh government has been quashed by the national green tribunal (NGT) and the order was challenged by Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd (RVUNL) in the Supreme Court. The SC allowed the mining without staying the NGT direction for further study. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has concluded that PEKB mine should not be expanded beyond the present limit. Moreover, as per forest clearance, the second phase could have opened only in 2027, the permission granted by Chhattisgarh is making a mockery of the entire process,” said Sudiep Shrivastva, an activist and lawyer based in Chhattisgarh.

Get Latest India Newsalong with Latest Newsand Top Headlinesfrom India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, December 06, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals