Coal mines to get automatic nod for first expansion
The move will help companies avoid the cumbersome process of getting EC approvals — which includes public hearings that may take up to three years — for their first expansion. For subsequent expansions, however, a new EC will be required.
The move comes at a time when coal shortage has started impacting the progress of power projects worth 25,000 MW up for commissioning in the next few years.
The decision will help the country's largest coal producer Coal India (CIL) to quickly enhance production from its existing coal blocks as production from new blocks takes four to five years. Green clearances have held up production from over 240 mines of CIL, preventing it from raising raise production on a fast-track basis.
As per the recent decision of the environment ministry, the environment appraisal committee (EAC) could consider “exempting public hearing for capacity expansion proposals of existing coal mining projects... which are for one-time capacity expansion of up to 25% of the existing mining operation, within the existing mine lease area”.
“Such an exemption will be considered for those expansion projects which have obtained prior EC and have undergone public hearing during the process of obtaining EC,” said the environment ministry in an office memorandum adding there should be no additional mine
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