Sarguja mine expansion stalled

Environment Ministry panel puts plan on hold over coal mine’s compliance

February 16, 2017 10:30 pm | Updated February 17, 2017 07:55 pm IST - New Delhi

Gautam Adani

Gautam Adani

An expert body of the Environment Ministry has put on hold a proposal by Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd. to expand the Sarguja mine, which is operated by an Adani-group company, for not complying with environmental clearances.

The ‘Parsa East and Kanta Basan’ open cast mine, which consists of a coal washery and being developed at a cost of ₹2,369 crore, involves 1,871 hectares of forest and an elephant corridor.

It is already mired in litigation. Resident tribal groups and activists have complained that the operations of the mine, temporarily cleared by the Supreme Court to operate at a capacity of 10 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), have over the years led to heightened dust pollution from the increased vehicular traffic, unchecked burning of coal and contamination of common water sources due to the discharge of mine-waste.

The Adani-group company operates the mine on behalf of the Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (RRVNL) which has been allotted the block for 30 years, from where coal will be sourced to run thermal power plants in Rajasthan of around 4000 MW capacity.

RRVNL had approached the Expert Appraisal Committee for Thermal and Coal Mining Sector projects, a Union Environment Ministry body, for permission to expand the coal mine’s capacity from the existing 10 mtpa to 15 mtpa. According to estimates, 452 million tonnes can be extracted from the mine and the project will displace 114 families.

“The Committee was not convinced with the compliance status of Environment Clearance conditions,” say the minutes of the environment ministry’s expert panel. “The expansion may cause significant impact on the surrounding environment including socio-economic aspects.”

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