New Delhi: Softening its stance on mining in heavily-forested areas, the Environment Ministry today gave its nod for clearing six coal blocks, including five in ‘no go´ areas, for three major power plants in Orissa.
“All the six coal-blocks are part of the IB Valley coalfield and only one (Meenakshi-A) is presently in the ‘go´ area, the other five being in ‘no go´ areas...All six blocks will now be considered by FAC (Forest Advisory Committee) as ‘go´ areas,” environment minister Jairam Ramesh said in a statement.
Giving green signal to clear coal-blocks linked to UMPP, NTPC and OPGC power plants, the Minister said the Power Ministry should give “special focus” on ash disposal and water availability.
Three coal-blocks (Meenakshi-A, Meenakshi-B and Meenakshi Dipside) have been allocated to the 3960MW/4000MW Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP).
Coal-blocks (Manoharpur and Manoharpur Dipside) have been allocated to the 1320 MW power plant of Orissa Power Generation Corporation (OPGC). One coal-block (Dulanga) has been allocated to NTPC’s 1600 MW power plant.
Hailing the Environment Ministry’s move, the Power Ministry said it will now pave way for raw material security for the project.
“We are delighted... We will immediately go for further process of the Orissa UMPP,” power secretary P Uma Shankar said.