Rejecting the recommendations of the Forest Advisory Committee, Environment Ministry on Thursday gave its approval to open up Tara, Parsa East and Kante Basan coal blocks in the Hasdeo-Arand forest region of Chhattisgarh.

In an order, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said he “disagrees with the final recommendations” of the FAC, which advised him to reject the proposals made by the Chhattisgarh government to open up the coal blocks, and “decided to give Stage-I approval” for the proposals.

The Minister, however, said final stage-II approval will be “contingent” on the State government demonstrating “full compliance” with the provisions of the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

Citing six reasons to reject FAC recommendations, he said the coal blocks are “actually not” in a “no-go area” in the Hasdeo-Arand forest region.

“As long as mining is restricted to the fringe area and as long as the State government does not come up with fresh applications for opening up the main Hasdeo-Arand area, I am of the opinion that permission can be accorded for Tara, Parsa East and Kante Basan,” Mr. Ramesh said.

“The first reason for my rejection of the FAC recommendation arises from my understanding that these coal blocks are clearly in the fringe and actually not in the biodiversity rich Hasdeo-Arand forest region (a no—go area),” the Minister said.

He said the FAC recommendations arise from the “substantial changes that have been introduced in the mining plans as originally envisaged”.

“When the project proponent is prepared to demonstrate some flexibility to accommodate our concerns, I think, we should also reciprocate,” Mr. Ramesh said.