Coal exploration: Forest min throws spanner in works
AK Debnath, chairman and managing director, Central Mine & Planning Design Institute (CMPDI), told FE that the Planning Commission has set a target of prospecting 15 lakh metres per annum by the end of the 12th Plan Period ending 2017, against the current annual average of 3 lakh metres. Accelerating such activity would require digging more bore holes — at least 15 for every sq km. But the MoEF is sticking to its benchmark of allowing digging an average 1-1.5 bore holes per sq km, which would make the target impossible.
CMPDI, the Coal India (CIL) subsidiary, made 5 lakh metres of exploration last year by sticking to the MoEF bench mark. “That is the optimum we can achieve by sticking to the MoEF criteria,” an official said.
India has an estimated proven coal reserves of 118 billion tonne, the third-largest in the world, and they are expected to last 100 years. But CMPDI needs to carry out exploration to identify new, mineable reserves, and such reserves have to be identified two Plan Periods ahead.
“MoEF doesn’t allow taking drilling machines into forest areas. So, how do we increase our exploration activities?” Debnath said.
He said CMPDI has been given new 175 blocks to explore, of which 119 blocks belong to CIL and the rest are being offered to private players. But
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