Cabinet note floated to free coal investment

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 11, 2013 21:25 hrs

The Union coal ministry has floated a Cabinet note seeking approval of the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to free investments worth Rs 1,347 crore stuck in coal mines stuck due to lack of environment clearances.

The coal ministry and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) have jointly identified 12 projects ,which were stuck for want of green clearances and where approvals can be given quickly.

“This includes eight projects for expediting grant of Environment Clearance (EC), three projects for stage I Forest Clearance (FC) and a project to be granted stage II FC. Overall, clearances for 40 projects are pending with the MoEF,” a source close to the development said.

The CCI, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has been established to clear approvals stuck in projects costing Rs 1,000 crore or above to boost growth in the infrastructure sector. In its maiden meeting on January 31, the CCI had asked the oil and defense ministries to sort out differences over 39 oil blocks in a month.

Though the 12 projects listed by the coal ministry cost less than Rs 1,000 crore individually, expediting the pending EC and FC approvals would help realising an additional production of seven million tonnes in 2013-14.

The ministry has also sought a review by the CCI of progress in three critical rail link projects where execution has been delayed due to green clearances and land acquisition issues.

In a related development, the domestic power industry, represented by the Association of Power Producers (APP), has raised concerns over the power ministry’s recommendation to the CCI for taking up 17 stranded power projects of state-owned companies for discussion in its next meeting.

In a letter written to the power ministry on February 8, APP Director General Ashok Khurana said that the projects with a gas-based capacity of 24,000 Mw, and requiring Rs 1 lakh crore in investment, were stranded for want of gas. He suggested taking up these projects first for discussion.

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