Pranab calls Jairam-Jaiswal meet over 'no-go' areas for CIL

Environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh's decision to categorise coal-bearing regions as 'go' and 'no-go' areas for mining is worrying the government, which hopes to rake in Rs12,000-15,000 crore from a 10-per cent stake sale in Coal India Ltd, the state-owned monopoly in the sector.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday called Ramesh and coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal for a meeting to discuss ways to eliminate uncertainties that might affect CIL's initial public offering (IPO), billed as the country's biggest.

In the course of the meeting, Jaiswal told Mukherjee that according to the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute's initial estimates, CIL may suffer a production loss of nearly 400 million tonnes because of the new categorisation.

The environment and forest ministry's classification would reportedly put 48 per cent of coal-bearing areas out of the PSU's bounds. With CIL now in the process of filing a draft red herring prospectus, book runners and lead managers have warned the 'navratna' public sector undertaking's management that such confusion would mar the IPO's prospects.

Mukherjee is said to have asked the environment ministry to be more flexible in deciding 'no-go' zones for coal mining. He said the government and the environment ministry would take the final call on go and no-go areas, based on the results of detailed analysis.

The no-go list, based on the forest cover density and aimed at helping miners avoid wastage of time in seeking clearances, has proven to be a bone of contention for the coal, power and mining ministries. No-go status means no mining can be done in that area.