Pranab to head panel on coal-environment tussle

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced the constitution of a group of ministers (GoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukerhjee to find a resolution to the issue of 'go' and 'no go' areas in coal producing areas. The constitution of the GoM was notified on Thursday and it is likely to meet within a week. 

The union cabinet had decided on 13 January to refer to a GoM the controversial issue following sharp differences between the environment, coal, and power ministries over the issue of allowing mining of coal in some 'sensitive' areas.

The other members of the GoM are home minister P Chidambaram, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, law minister Veerapan Moily, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma, surface transport minister C P Joshi, environment minister Jairam Ramesh, coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

''The GoM will meet in the next three-four days or within a week to deliberate on issues like 'go' and 'no-go', among others,'' Jaiswal told reporters on the sidelines of an Assocham event in New Delhi. ''The main issues to be discussed at the meeting are in relation to the environment and forest issues with regard to the coal blocks, rehabilitation and resettlement policy, and offtake.''

Rajasthan concerned

Even as the union government announced the formation of the GoM, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday asked it to set aside the coal mines allotted to the state from the 'no-go zone' to ensure continuous supply of coal to power plants.