Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has granted mining approval to the coal block on the condition that NTPC and Orissa Power Generation Corporation give up their respective coal blocks, Dulanga and Manoharpur, in the vicinity.
While NTPC will mine the Dulanga block for its various power projects, Orissa Power Generation Corporation will use coal from the Manoharpur blocks to fire its 1,320 mw project at Jharsuguda.
NTPC and the Orissa utility have conveyed their reluctance to give up their respective coal blocks, a senior power ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
" The ministry is of the view that all the three power projects should come on stream. We will send an official communication to the environment ministry soon. It is likely that the last date for bid submission for the project will be extended by couple of months," the official.
The Bedabahal project was allocated three coal blocks-Meenakshi, Meenakshi B and dip side of Meenakshi-in IB valley coalfield with a total 886 million tonne reserves in 2006. The environment ministry denied mining permission to Meenakshi coal block with estimated 285 million tonnes of reserves while the other two had been cleared.
Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has already written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking intervention in the issue.
NTPC chairman and managing director Arup Roy Choudhury said the company was re-drawing the boundary of Dulanga block in order to cordon off substantial forestland. "We are hopeful that the ministerial panel constituted to look into issues related to green clearances to coal blocks will take a favorable decision," he said.
The Dulanga block is expected to have 260 million tonnes of coal reserves, while Manoharpur and Dipside Manoharpur blocks have combined coal deposits of about 281 million tonnes.
The environment ministry has rejected mining permissions to 203 coal blocks with estimated capacity of 660 million tonnes. The government has constituted an inter-ministerial panel to look into the issue.
Source - Economic Times