The Centre has so far transferred the environment clearance (EC) of 19 coal blocks out of approved 29 mines from the earlier allottees to the new successful bidders including JSW Steel, GMR Chhattisgarh Energy, Jaypee Cement and Ambuja Cements among others.
In a bid to expedite operations from the recently allocated coal mines, the Environment Ministry had amended EC norms after a request made by the Coal Ministry to facilitate transfer of ECs to successful coal bidders.
"We have so far transferred the ECs of 19 coal blocks to new allottees. We have already issued the transferred letters," a senior Environment Ministry official told PTI.
The 19 coal blocks are located in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha. These blocks have a combined coal production capacity of over 22 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), the official added.
Of 19 coal blocks, the Environment Ministry had issued transferred letters for four coal blocks in April, nine blocks in May and six blocks in the current month, according to the data maintained by the Ministry.
So far this month, the Ministry has transferred the ECs of six blocks from earlier allottees to JSW Steel, GMR Chhattisgarh, Jaypee Cement, Aumbuja Cement, Araanya Mines Pvt and Bharat Aluminium Company.
The Ministry transfered the ECs to these companies with some conditions, the official added.
"Any change in scope of work will attract the provision of Environment Protection Act (EPA) 1986 and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006 in conjunction with the subsequent amendments/circular," said the letters sent to these companies.
That apart, "all conditions stipulated in the EC letter shall remain unchanged. The successful bidder shall be liable, if any, for any act of violation of the EPA 1986, EIA notification 2006/ subsequent amendments and circulars which it has inherited during the transfer.
"The successful bidder should be liable for compliance of all court directions, if any," the letters said.
As per earlier norms, the EC for any project was allowed to be transferred to another applicant with a written 'no objection' by the transferor, to and by the regulatory authority concerned.
Now, the ministry has made amendments to the September 2006 EIA notification, allowing transfer of EC to new coal block allottees without taking 'no objection' nod from previous owners.
The EC norms were eased as new coal block allottees feared that old allottees would create problems in transferring EC with no objection nod, thus delaying the commencement of mining operations.
The Centre auctioned 29 blocks in two phases to companies like Monnet, GMR Chhattisgarh, Hindalco, Reliance Cement among others, garnering about Rs 2 lakh crore.
The auction followed the Supreme Court's cancellation of 204 coal blocks last year.