Six Coal India projects have got stalled

Six Coal India projects have got stalled, with state governments not processing the proposals for forest clearance and not launching prosecution against company officials involved in violation of environmental laws at the project sites.

Coal mining projects require two types of green nods to start operations — forest and environmental clearance. The forest clearance is initiated and sent by the state government to the Centre for evaluation while the environmental clearance is submitted by the project proponent directly to the Centre. But a Supreme Court order has made it mandatory for project developers to secure a forest clearance as a pre-condition to getting the environmental clearance in cases where forest land is involved.

An internal stock taking of the environment ministry has revealed that six coal projects have got stuck as the states are yet to forward the forest clearances.

Two key cases for which Coal India Limited has been seeking speedy clearances cannot be cleared until the state governments take action against officials of the companies involved in violations earlier. Under existing regulations, projects can only get final nod in cases where violations have happened if the state governments first start criminal proceedings against the officers for such violations.

Sources in the ministry said “credible action” against officials who had violated the norms remained pending in the Lajkura Expansion Phase 1 and Belpahar Expansion both falling in Jharsuguda, Odisha. The forest clearance proposal from the states is also awaited for both projects.

The other projects for which forest clearance proposals from the state are pending include the 2.5 million tonne per annum (mtpa) project of expansion of Tetariakhar, Ananta, Hingula and Lakhanpur coal blocks.

Ministry officials said these projects can only get the final nod once the forest clearance proposals are received and assessed at the Centre.

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