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Home News Power Sector News GoM to decide on fast-track nod for coal blocks tomorrow

GoM to decide on fast-track nod for coal blocks tomorrow

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PranabA Group of Ministers (GoM) on coal, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, will decide tomorrow the fate of eight coal blocks linked to power plants of major companies including Reliance Power, Adani Power, Aditya Birla Group and Essar Energy, among others. The 12-member panel was set up by the government last year to settle the environmental and regulatory hurdles impeding the growth of the coal sector.

"At tomorrow's meeting, the GoM will take a call on whether to fast-track clearance for these blocks," a senior official familiar with the development told Business Standard. Green clearances for the blocks have been delayed owing to a host of stringent policy measures initiated by the environment ministry, even while investments running in thousands of crores of rupees have already been made in these projects.

Last year, a committee appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recommended taking up these eight power sector projects on a priority basis. "Some investment has been made by these companies in the blocks attached to them," the official said. "But, a majority of them has been made in the end-use projects."

The Adani Group has demanded according forest clearance for Lohra West and Lohra Extension block for setting up a 3,300-Mw power plant at Tiroda in Maharashtra. The Group has already made an investment of Rs 7,000 crore on land acquisition and has placed order for purchase of equipment. The Adani Group has already signed a power purchase agreement with the Maharashtra government. It has also requested redefining the boundary of the block as only a small portion lies in the Tadoba Andheri Tiger Reserve.

The Aditya Birla Group has asked faster forest clearance for Mahan coal block jointly allocated to Hindalco, a flagship Aditya Birla Group company, and Essar Power for setting up an independent power project for Essar and a captive power plant for Hindalco. While, the block fell in no-go area, substantial investments have already been made and the end-use projects are, in fact, ready for commissioning.


Another coal block the GoM would discuss for recommendation of faster clearance is the Chhatrasal block linked to the 4,000-Mw Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) being set up in Madhya Pradesh by the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Power.

The project requires an investment of close to Rs 20,000 crore and is scheduled to start generation by January 2013. Chhatrasal is one of the captive blocks allotted to Reliance Power besides Moher and Moher-Amlohri Extension blocks.

The concept of no-go areas for forest clearance did not exist when the government had invited international bids for Sasan UMPP in 2006.

The ministerial panel was set up in January last year after the environment ministry's no-go policy barred mining in heavily forested areas. According to the coal ministry, 203 coal blocks linked to power projects with a production capacity of 1,30,000 Mw had been stuck in no-go areas. The policy also impacted projects in the steel and cement sectors which had linked captive blocks falling in the no-go list.

Source- Business standard

 

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