A high-level panel of the union environment ministry will over the next two days consider clearances for a clutch of projects entailing an investment of about Rs 80,000 crore. The expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the ministry of environment and forests will revisit 28 projects in the steel and mining sectors on Friday and Saturday. These include projects with big-ticket investments by state-run steelmakers SAIL and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam, and mining ventures of Aditya Birla Group company Essel Mining.
A day before the EAC meets, environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday promised “fast and transparent clearances” for projects. Indicating that the NDA government is averse to confrontation with industry on green issues, Javadekar pointed out that the government would strike a balance while conserving ecology and approving projects.
Among the major investments to be considered for environmental clearance by the newly-constituted EAC are SAIL’s 1 million tonnes per annum pellet plant with upstream slime beneficiation facilitates at its Dalli-Rajhara mines in Balod district of Chhattisgarh. Besides, the panel is likely to approve a higher production capacity for the country’s biggest steelmaker from 4 mt to 7 mt per annum along with a bigger capacity for its captive power project to 72 MW at the Bhilai steel plant. These projects have an estimated investment of about R19,000 crore.
Aditya Birla Group firm Essel Mining proposes to increase mining capacity of its iron ore mine at Koira in Odisha’s Sundargarh district to 4 mt from the current 1.5mt. The company’s proposed 1.2-mt pelletisation plant at Nuagaon tehsil of the same district will also be considered by the panel.
Both these projects entail a likely investment of over Rs 9,000 crore. A limestone mine of Grasim Industries in Raipur spread over 251 hectares is to be discussed by the EAC.
Besides, a slew proposals from pharma companies, including approving their feedstock inputs and fuel, are on the list. According to an environment ministry source, investments for 12-14 projects have been committed and the promoters are only awaiting the go-ahead from the environment ministry.