Business Standard

In 50 days, Modi govt gives environment clearance to 5 projects

Somesh Jha New Delhi
The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government has given environment clearance to five projects since it took charge on May 26. A total of 394 projects are still awaiting approvals from the ministry of environment, forests and climate change, latest data showed.

The projects given clearance include Adani Ports' Mundra special economic zone (SEZ) in Gujarat, two coal mining projects - Coal India Limited (CIL)'s Tikak block in Assam and Reliance Power's Chhatrasal block in Madhya Pradesh (MP), GAIL's gas-based power plant in MP and a state highway renovation project in Assam. These projects are worth around Rs 2,570 crore (excluding Adani Ports, as the environment clearance documents do not mention the cost details of that project). Environment minister Prakash Javadekar has said his priority would be to give clearance to public-purpose projects. "We have started on national highways, railways, power transmission lines - these are the linear projects which are public-purpose projects and not private. So, thatmust be given priority," Javadekar had told Business Standard in an interview earlier this month.

The ministry has given nod to projects of two public sector undertakings - CIL and GAIL. However, no industrial projects have yet been cleared. Out of the 394 pending cases, about one-third (144) are industrial projects.

Adani and Reliance Power's Sasan projects became controversial during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) tenure. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had pulled up the UPA government alleging Rs 29,033-crore financial gains to R-Power for coal allotment to Sasan ultra mega power project. The Chhatrasal block was among the three captive coal blocks allotted to Sasan Power. The CAG report had called for a review of allocatio of the Chhatrasal coal block for the Sasan power plant. The project was given a go-ahead by the environment ministry on July 11. The coal block, having reserves of over 160 million tonnes, will fuel Reliance Power's 4,000 MW Sasan and 4,000 MW Chitrangi power projects. The Gujarat high court had in January this year ordered the closure of the 12 out of 21 operational units in the Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone due to lack of environment clearances. After the Supreme Court directed the government to decide on its clearance, the Union environment ministry gave the final nod on July 15.

GAIL had proposed to build a 380-Mw gas-based power plant at Guna in Madhya Pradesh. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 1,029 crore and it took three years to clear the project after approving its terms of reference in June 2011. In Sikkim, an Asian Development Bank-assisted project for "improvement and upgradation" of 19.7-km stretch of a state highway has been given green nod by the ministry on May 29. The total project costs Rs 42.37 crore.

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First Published: Jul 18 2014 | 12:45 AM IST

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