Reliance Power's Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project got a boost on Tuesday as the environment ministry granted first stage forest clearance for the Chhatrasal coal block in Madhya Pradesh, one of the three captive coal blocks allotted to the Anil Ambani group's project.
The clearance was pending since 2009. The Stage-I clearance does not imply that the company can start mining immediately, as it is only an in-principle clearance. The final clearance will be given after various conditions, including funds for compensatory aforestation, are met.
Formal approval is issued after a compliance report is received from the state government. This process would take at least six months, according to experts.
The environment ministry had set up an expert committee early this year to look into the issue of forest clearance for certain coal blocks. The committee in its report suggested that the Chhatrasal coal block be cleared, subject to conditions.
The Chhatrasal coal block has reserves of over 160 million tonnes. Two other mines of the project, Moher and Moher-Amroli, have already started production. Together, the three mines have enough coal to fire both Sasan and Chitrangi power projects, each of 4,000 MW.
The first unit of the Sasan project is scheduled to be commissioned in January.