Big decision amid power crisis / Relaxation in the rules for expansion projects of coal mines, the move of the Ministry of Environment

Vikrant Shekhawat : May 13, 2022, 09:31 AM
In the midst of increasing demand for coal and power crisis in the country, the Union Environment Ministry has relaxed the mandatory rules for mining expansion projects. Environmentalists have criticized the ministry's decision, as the coal ministry is saying that there is no shortage of coal in the country.

The coal crisis continues amid rising demand for electricity. Meanwhile, the Environment Ministry has taken a big decision for the expansion of coal mining projects. According to the amended rules, coal mines can now be expanded up to 40% with Environmental Clearance (EC). Now it can be expanded up to 50% without any environmental impact assessment or public consultation.

In an order issued by the Environment Ministry on 7 May, it has been said that this decision has been taken in view of the concern raised by the Ministry of Coal about short domestic supply of coal in the country. The order said that following the request of the Ministry of Coal, this decision has been taken to increase the domestic coal supply for all sectors. The expansion project will be allowed keeping in view the stock position in the coal block.

The Environment Ministry said that it has given conditional permission to increase the coal production capacity to 50 per cent of the original EC capacity. The condition is that the expansion of the mining project can be done according to the coal reserves available in the mine. This extension will be valid for the next six months from the date of issue of the order.

The Coal Ministry had repeatedly said that the current power crisis was not due to shortage of coal but due to non-payment of dues of Coal India Limited by the states, delay in lifting of coal and weak planning.