The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest accorded environmental clearance (with some conditions) to the expansion of Bhubaneshwari opencast project in Odisha. This project belongs to Mahanadi Coalfield Ltd, a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd. The clearance is given for the expansion from 20 MTPA (Million Tonnes Per Annum) to 25 MTPA of Mahanadi Coalfields subject to compliance of terms and conditions. The second Expert Appraisal Committee meeting which held on 3-4 October 2014 considered this proposal initially, then the ninth Expert Appraisal Committee meeting which held early in 2014 reconsidered it.
Conditions and Terms
• The maximum production from the above mine at any given time should not exceed the limit as prescribed in the Environment Clearance.
• The production should be within the same mining lease area among others.
• No mining operations will be undertaken in the forest land until clearance has been obtained under the provisions of Forest Conservation Act, 1980.
Union Ministry of Environment and Forests informed that
• one needs to seek and obtain approval under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 for diversion of the entire forest located within the mining lease within a period of two years from the date of issue of guidelines (February 1, 2013), failing which the mining lease will be reduced to the non-forest area plus the forest area.
• In the case of reduction in mine lease area, one will need to get a revised mining plan approved from the competent authority for reduced area and enter into a new mining lease as per reduced lease area.
Requirements and Procedure for seeking Environmental Clearance of Projects
a. Any person who desires to undertake any new project or the expansion or modernisation of any existing industry or project listed in the Schedule I shall submit an application to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests,New Delhi. Schedule I includes projects related to power sector, river valley, transport, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals etc. This application shall be accompanied by a project report which shall,inter alia,include an Environmental Impact Assessment Report/Environment Management Plan prepared in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Central Government in the Ministry of Environment and Forests from time to time.
b. Cases rejected due to submission of insufficient or in adequate data and plans may be reviewed.
2. In case of the following site specific projects:
• pit- head thermal power stations;
• hydro-power,major irrigation projects and/or their combination including flood control;
• ports and harbours;
• prospecting and exploration of major minerals in areas above 500 ha.;
The project authorities will intimate the location of the project site to the Central Government in the MoEF. It will convey a decision regarding suitability of the proposed site within a maximum period of 30 days. The said site clearance shall be granted for a sanctioned capacity and shall be valid for a period of five years for commencing the construction, operation or mining.
• The reports submitted with the application shall be evaluated and assessed by the Impact Assessment Agency, and if required then by a committee of Experts, having a composition as specified in Schedule III.
• The Impact Assessment Agency shall prepare a set of recommendations. Summary of the reports, the recommendation and the conditions, shall be made available subject to the public interest to the concerned parties or environmental groups on request. Comments of the public may be solicited, if so decided by the Imapact Assessment Agency, within thirty days of receipt of proposal, in public hearings arranged for the purpose after giving thirty days notice of such hearings in at least two newspapers. The assessment shall be completed within a period of 90 days from receipt of the requisite documents and data from the project authorities and completion of public hearing, where required, and decision conveyed within 30 days thereafter. The clearance granted shall be valid for a period of 5 years for commencement of the construction or operation. No construction work,preliminary or otherwise,relating to the setting up of the project may not be undertaken till the environmental and/or site clearance is obtained.
4. To enable the Impact Assessment Agency to monitor effectively the implementation of the recommendations and conditions subject to which the environmental clearance has been given,the project authorities concerned shall submit a half-yearly report to the Impact Assessment Agency. Subject to the public interest,the IAA,shall make compliance reports publicly available.
5. If no comments from the Impact Assessment Agency are received within the time limit,the project would be deemed to have been approved as proposed by project authorities.
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