Forest min mulls in-principle approvals for coal blocks

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 22 2012, 07:44am hrs
The ministry of environment & forests (MoEF) has assured the coal ministry that it would examine whether in-principle environmental and forest clearances can be granted to coal blocks that are to be put up for auction.

Senior officials of the coal ministry today met top officials of the environment ministry in this regard and discussed the issue at length.

...The environment ministry during the meeting assured the coal ministry that it would examine the issue, sources close to the development said.

The coal ministry had earlier expressed hope that its differences with environment and power ministries on the proposed bidding norms for auctioning of captive coal blocks would be resolved soon.

The unresolved issues include whether to provide an in-principle environmental clearance to the blocks on offer, arriving at a benchmark floor price and offering discounted prices to sectors such as power, coal secretary SK Srivastava had said.

The coal secretary had said some ministries are in favour of putting up the blocks for auction with environmental clearances, but it may not be feasible due to procedural reasons.

We are in touch with MoEF on whether there can be a thing like conceptually providing in-principle approval, which I feel may not be possible considering the processes involved. We are still to arrive at a final view, but some ministries have said that blocks have to be given with clearances, he said, adding that this requires a lot of deliberation.

While environmental clearance is given by MoEF, forest clearances are provided by the respective state governments.

Amid alleged irregularities in allocating coal blocks to various firms for their captive consumption, the government had decided to allocate such blocks through auctions only.

Later, it identified 54 such blocks for auction and asked Crisil to provide a report on the methodology to determine the reserve price for the bidding of the blocks.