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Forest panel stalls clearance for three coal mines owned by PSUs

The coal mining proposals belonged to south eastern coalfields, Madhya Pradesh, eastern coalfields in Godda district, Jharkhand and to central coalfields in Bokaro.

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An expert panel of the environment ministry has stalled forest clearances for three coal mining proposals, all belonging to Coal India subsidiaries, as two of them are partially located in forests out of bound for mining while a river passes through the third mine.

The coal mining proposals belonged to south eastern coalfields, Madhya Pradesh, eastern coalfields in Godda district, Jharkhand and to central coalfields in Bokaro.

According to data from the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEF&CC), nearly 550 hectares of forest land will have to be cleared for the open cast mines and almost 4,62,286 trees need to be cut down. While considering the south eastern coalfields limited open cast mine project in Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh, the expert panel observed that a portion of the mining lease falls in an inviolate area.

As per the environment ministry guidelines, mines located on dense to very dense forests cannot be cleared and such areas are defined as inviolate areas. The panel also asked south eastern coalfields limited to provide a better plan for compensatory afforestation. In the case of the open cast mine proposed by eastern coalfields in Godda district of Jharkhand, the expert panel observed that a massive number of trees needed to be chopped down.

"As per the site inspection report of the regional office, total number of trees to be felled comes to 4,44,286 and as the number of the trees involved is very large, it will adversely affect the general eco-system of the area," the panel noted. In addition, a river passes through the proposed mine and as per environment ministry guidelines, forest area within 250 metres on both sides of a river becomes 'inviolate' or out of bound for mining.

Thus, the mining area of the proposed mine too reduces. The expert panel has thus asked the state government to explore the possibility of underground mining. Meanwhile, in the case of central coalfields project in Bokaro, Jharkhand, the proposed open cast mine is situated near Damodar river.

The ministry's expert panel said that even this project involves chopping down a sizeable; 14,698 trees that will show significant impact on flora and fauna of the area. The panel has thus asked for re submission of the proposal with additional details such density of forest and details of compensatory afforestation.

 

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