India environment ministry clears six coal projects in Orissa
Indian Express reports the Environment Ministry today gave its clearance for mining in six coal blocks in Orissa that are planned to feed coal to three crucial power plants, including one ultra-mega power project (UMPP).
Five of these six coal blocks fell in ‘No-Go’ areas — a reference to those forest areas which are out of bounds for coal mining —because of which environmental clearance was being held up. The permission came after all the three power projects agreed to substantially reduce the forest area that will be damaged by coal mining.
Three of the coal blocks (Meenakshi-A, Meenakshi-B and Meenakshi Dipside) have been allocated to the 4000-MW UMPP, two to 1320-MW power plant to be set up by Orissa Power Generation Corporation (OGPC) and one to NTPC’s proposed 1600-MW power plant.
The Environment Ministry had earlier offered to clear the UMPP provided the other two projects were cancelled. But all the three came up with revised plan which involved lesser damage to forest area and fewer felling of trees. The diversion of forest land has been reduced by almost 40 per cent in the case of the UMPP, 26 per cent in the case of NTPC and 20 per cent in case of OGPC.