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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Adani Power Ltd revives coal mine plan near Tadoba

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Jul 17, 2012, 02.32AM IST NAGPUR: Three years after Adani Power Ltd (APL) proposal for coal mining was rejected in Lohara west and Lohara extension near Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur, the power major is back in action. It is seeking environment clearance to its mining plan with slightly changed boundaries. It would still entail loss of over 1400 hectares of forests which is equivalent to 1300 football fields. Papers in possession of TOI show that on April 7, 2012, APL through Santosh Kumar Singh, general manager (corporate environment group), submitted a revised proposal to the state nodal officer proposing to reduce the area of Lohara coal blocks by removing compartment numbers 389 (379 hectares) and 390 (221 hectares) in Mamla under the FDCM. Both are in buffer zone of TATR. Earlier, Adani was allocated Lohara west and Lohara extension coal blocks in Wardha valley coalfield in November 2007 to meet fuel requirement of Tiroda power project in Gondia district about 160 kms from the site. In November 2009, a high-level panel of ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) backed by then in charge minister Jairam Ramesh had rejected the proposal saying the mining project was within the buffer zone of TATR and the area was part of the tiger corridor. A five-member committee has been set up to examine Adani's revised proposal. The panel is headed by CCF (territoral), Chandrapur, while CCF of TATR, general manager of FDCM (North Chandrapur), deputy conservators of Chandrapur and Brahmapuri are members. The committee has been asked to submit a report whether the revised proposal will affect wildlife, its corridors and TATR. Ramesh also suggested that MoEF and ministry of coal (MoC) must work in tandem to identify 'Go' and 'No-Go' zones. The proponents were asked to meet the deficit in coal requirement by importing coal or from other coal blocks. However, after change of guard in the MoEF, Adani again wants to enter area known for rich wildlife presence. Recently, coal minister Shriprakash Jaiswal had also said that environment clearances had become easier after Ramesh's exit. In an MoC meeting on January 11 & 12, 2012, 195 coal block allottees under 'Go' and 'No Go' zones were advised to pursue forest clearances afresh. Accordingly, APL has begun fresh bid for Lohara blocks. Work on company's 3300MW power project in Tiroda is in full swing. It is being implemented in two phases. The Phase I (1320MW) is planned to be commissioned in 2012 while Phase II (1980mw) is slated to be completed in 2012-2017. "The company has sent an urgent request to the MoC to convince the MoEF to grant environment and forest clearance with redefined boundary of Lohara west and Lohara extension," senior forest officials told TOI. The original proposal needed diversion of 1,750 hectares land of which 1,600 hectares was forest land. In revised plan, 1,550 hectare land is needed of which 1,402 hectares is forest land. However, deleting two compartments will not reduce threat to TATR and dispersing tigers. Vishwas Karanjgaokar, public relations officer (PRO) for corporate affairs, Adani Enterprises Ltd, said the company will submit an entirely new proposal by conducting a fresh survey of flora and fauna in the affected area. However, Bandu Dhotre, chief of Eco-Pro, Chandrapur, who had launched a 14-day hunger strike in 2009 against proposed coal mines in Lohara warned of a renewed struggle. "The Adani mines in Lohara will lead to loss of over 13 lakh trees, apart from losing tiger corridor towards south-east. What is need to re-allot these coal blocks which have already been rejected earlier by the MoEF to firms like ACC and Nippon in 1998 and again to Adani in 2009," Dhotre asked. On Sunday, state chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, appearing in a live TV programme to save the tigers, had said mining will not be allowed near the tiger reserves in the state.