Questioning the non-transparent manner in which the Mahan coal block was allocated, Greenpeace India on Tuesday demanded cancellation of the coal block and sought a thorough enquiry into the role of Essar Power and the Madhya Pradesh government in the whole issue.
The demand by Greenpeace comes close on the heels of CBI questioning the suspicious circumstances in which the Mahan coal block was allocated to Aditya Birla Group’s Hindalco.
Alleging that there was no transparency in the manner in which the coal block was allocated, Greenpeace India said the Power Ministry had informed CBI that it did not recommend Hindalco for the Mahan coal block. Similarly, the allocation to Essar Power was initially rejected by both the Madhya Pradesh government and the Screening Committee but both these decisions were later reversed, with no explanation whatsoever.
``The investigation into the allocation of the Mahan block should be extended to include Essar Power as well. The Madhya Pradesh government had strongly objected to the allocation to both Essar and Hindalco on March 1, 2005, but did a U-turn just three weeks later, recommending Essar, but not Hindalco, to the Ministry of Coal on March 23, 2005,’’ Arundhati Muthu, Greenpeace campaigner said in a statement here.
The Ministry of Power then forwarded this same recommendation to the Screening Committee. The Screening Committee, which had originally denied the allocation to Essar in its meeting on March 1, 2005, changed its mind without any explanation, giving the block to Essar and Hindalco in 2006.
The mining of the Mahan coal block is to be done by Mahan Coal Ltd –a joint venture between Essar Power and Hindalco. The company is facing protests from local villagers, whose rights over the forest have not been recognised, the statement said.
Greenpeace has been campaigning against the development of the Mahan coal block by Essar and Hindalco. ``We demand that the clearances for all coal blocks allocated during the period in question should be put on hold till the completion of the Supreme Court monitored probe,’’ the statement added.