New Delhi, Jul 8: The Environment Ministry today withheld clearance to the Mahan coal block in Madhya Pradesh that is intended to fuel power plants of Essar and Hindalco and referred the matter to a Group of Ministers (GoM).
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has suggested the Sohagpur coalfield in Shahdol district as an alternative coal linkage for the power plants of the two leading corporates.
“I am not entirely clear why such a good quality forest area should be broken up for such a partial requirement,” Ramesh said pointing out that Essar has itself said that the Mahan coal block would meet requirements for two 600 MW units for 14 years only.
He also pointed out that the Mahan coal was located in catchment area of the Rihand Reservoir and that there is a high degree of probability of excessive siltation due to denudation of the slopes and hills when they are mined for coal.
“The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) sub-committee found that the quality of the forest and tree cover is much higher than that is being claimed by Essar/Hindalco and the state government,” he said.
“In this backdrop, I am unable to agree to consider the Mahan coal-block for Stage-I clearance. However, keeping with the proposal I had made myself to the GoM on April 7, to resolve issues related to coal blocks in ‘no-go' areas, the Mahan coal-block is therefore, being submitted to the GoM for its consideration with a recommendation that an alternative coal linkage be provided for the two power plants,” Ramesh said in the order. PTI