NEW DELHI: Concerned over high pollution, the Centre has given green clearance to a subsidiary of Coal India for phase one production expansion of Kusmunda mine in Chhattisgarh to only upto 26 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) instead of 50 MTPA sought earlier.
The Kusmunda open cast mine, which presently produces 18.75 MTPA of coal of power grade, is operated by South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL) — the country’s largest coal producing company and the flagship entity of state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL).
SECL had initially sought green clearance for production expansion upto 50 MTPA in two phases, entailing an investment of Rs 7,612.33 crore.MTPA in two phases, entailing an investment of Rs 7,612.33 crore.
But the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Environment Ministry examined the proposal and gave its approval for expansion only upto 26 MTPA in view of high pollution.
“Based on the recommendations of the EAC, the ministry has given environment clearance (EC) for expansion of Kusmunda open cast coal mine from 18.75 MTPA to 26 MTPA in mining lease area of 1,449.86 hectare under phase one, subject to certain conditions,” a senior Environment Ministry official said.
Further, production expansion of the Kusmunda project, located in Korba district, would depend on effective pollution control measures adopted by the company, the official said.
Among specific conditions, the company has been asked to adopt additional control measures beyond those already committed by it for production level of 26 MTPA so as to reduce the existing high levels of pollution load as shown in its study.
It has asked to take immediate steps for an adequate and effective green belt around the villages affected by the higher PM10 level particulate pollution.
“After six months from the issue of the EC, the company has been asked to report to the ministry along with the data on air quality and control measures for the villages affected by higher PM10 values,” the official said.
The company has also been asked to set up four ambient air quality monitoring stations in the core zone as well as in the buffer zone to monitor pollution.
Besides, the company has been asked not to carry out mining in forest area of 324.84 hectare, including 205.96 hectare for Kusmunda open cast project (OCP) and 118.87 hectare for Laxman OCP till regularisation or Stage-I forest clearance.
Kusmunda mine has been identified as one of the expansion projects under the Emergency Coal Production Plan of CIL. The mine has coal linkage with various thermal power plants and the Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board.
CIL, a major supplier of coal to the power sector, is aiming for 1 billion tonnes of production by 2020.
It has a target to achieve 550 million tonnes output in the current fiscal.