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Environment Min told to clear Sarguja coal block

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Power Ministry has asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests to fast-track the process for grant of green clearance to coal mines attached to the 4,000-MW Sarguja ultra-mega power project in Chhattisgarh, failing which the invitation of bids may get further delayed.

"We have written to the Environment Ministry to speed up the process of granting clearance to coal blocks for the Sarguja UMPP," a Power Ministry official said.

Initial bids for the Sarguja project have been postponed several times in the past eighteen months due to delays in the grant of environment and forest clearance for coal blocks attached to the project.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) had classified coal mines into two categories -- "go" and "no-go" areas. As per the classification, mining in "no-go" areas was barred on the grounds that it would have an adverse impact on the environment.

Coal mines allotted to this project fall in the Hasdeo-Arand mining area, which was classified as a no-go zone.

At present, the last date for submission of preliminary bids for the Sarguja UMPP is December 5. However, it is likely that the date might be extended again.

Meanwhile, there has been progress on another power project -- the 4,000-MW Bedabahal UMPP in Orissa -- which was also facing delays in the development of coal blocks due to environment issues. Early this year, MOEF granted clearance for the plant to utilise three captive coal blocks -- Meenakshi, Meenakshi B and the dipside of Meenakshi.

Initial bids for execution of the project were invited in June this year. As many as 20 companies evinced interest in development of the project.

Power Corporation, the nodal agency for the UMPPs in the country, is assessing the 20 bids.

The government has so far allotted four UMPPs, of which Reliance Power has bagged three -- Sasan (Madhya Pradesh), Krishnapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Tilaiya (Jharkhand) -- while the Mundra UMPP in Gujarat is being executed by Tata Power.

These UMPPs are likely to contribute a great deal to the planned capacity addition during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17).

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First Published: Tue, November 15 2011. 14:17 IST