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Standing committee on coal wants norms for drilling in forest areas to be relaxed
Business Line, March 12, 2017

Non-availability of forest clearance prevailing in some areas is cited as a ‘generic reason’ by Central Mine Planning and Design Institute for the non-achievement of drilling targets

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Coal has recommended relaxing guidelines for enabling drilling in forest areas by government companies in its 27th report.

The committee notes that non-availability of forest clearance and adverse law and order condition prevailing in some areas is cited as a ‘generic reason’ by Central Mine Planning and Design Institute for the non-achievement of drilling targets.

In this context, the Standing Committee notes that the Ministry of Environment and Forests is considering simplification of procedures for according forest clearance.

Upcoming approvals
The Ministry will soon be according forest clearance for exploration blocks up to 10 per cent lower density at the District Forest Officer level and 10-40 per cent at the Central Government level.

The committee has urged that the Ministry of Coal should impress upon the Environment Ministry to urgently notify the proposed guidelines for enabling drilling in forest areas by government companies.

The Standing Committee has also recommended encouraging Coal Pit Head projects while taking note of the mismatch in the capacity of coal transported by rail and the Environment Ministry’s guidelines that restrict movement of coal with an ash content of more than 34 per cent.

The Standing Committee notes that the development of power projects at Coal Pit Heads should be encouraged to comply with the Environment and Forest Ministry’s diktats on transport of coal beyond 500 km with high ash content.

The Standing Committee notes that there are some thermal power plants with power purchase agreements but without a coal supply assurance through the Letter of Allocation — Fuel Supply Agreement (coal linkage) route.

Cost escalation
These coal-based power plants are forced to source coal through e-auction or imports, thus leading to an escalation in cost of power produced.

The committee has recommended that the government should move ahead and ensure these power plants get coal linkages to lower input costs and keep power tariffs in check.

This news can also be viewed at: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/

 

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