Ramesh clears mining proposals in Chattisgarh

In what is being seen as the first signs of softening of his stand on the `go no-go' policy on Thursday,  union environment minister Jairam Ramesh has cleared three coal block projects in the dense forests of Hasdeo-Arand region of Chhattisgarh going against the recommendations of his Forest Advisory Committee.

In a speaking order offering his explanation on going against the FAC's advise, Ramesh accorded the forest clearance to Tara, Parsa East and Kante Basan coal blocks.

In his order Ramesh offered six reasons for doing so. He said the project sites were located on the fringe of the thick forest block that he had earlier made his icon for the `go no-go' policy. He said the projects had been removed from their earlier versions and the proponent had accommodated the ministry's concerns which he was reciprocating.

Ramesh added that the wildlife conservation concerns could be addressed with the help of expert organisations such as the Nature Conservation Foundation, Wildlife Trust of India, Indian Institute of Science and the government run Wildlife Institute of India.

He cited the importance of the mining linked supercritical thermal power plant, which would help the country deal with climate change and also placed on record that the chief ministers of Rajasthan (where some of the coal would be used) and Chhattisgarh had been following up the case for mining ardently with him and the prime minister.

Ramesh recorded that he was taking a wider perspective than what the FAC is mandated to do with the 'developmental picture' in mind while taking the decision.