Coal projects: Environment ministry eases clearance rule

The Union environment ministry has decided to consider group clearances for adjacent mines of Coal India Limited (CIL), the near-monopolist in the sector, rather than considering individual project proposals. There would be only one public hearing, a prime necessity for environment clearance, for the identified cluster, instead of examining one mine at a time.

The request to do it this way had come from the coal ministry, which was keen to raise production and sidestep environmental objections.

“It will be prudent to adopt a cluster approach for mines situated close by, so that the cumulative impact of mining on the environment could be documented and that only one public hearing for this cluster is held,” the ministry said after holding discussions in its Expert Appraisal Committee meeting on the proposal. It has said the cluster classification should be based on multiple factors.

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