PM postpones meeting on green clearances for projects

A meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today to resolve the inter-ministerial differences relating to environment clearances for coal and power projects has been postponed.

No official reasons were given for calling off the meeting. So far no fresh date for the meeting has been decided.

“The meeting which was to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 27 has been postponed,” sources in the Coal Ministry said.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister was expected to review the performance of sectors like coal and power and find a solution to the tussle between the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Coal on granting clearances for infrastructure projects, sources said.

The meeting, which has been put off several times, was also likely to deliberate on a strategy for the terminal year of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan for the key infrastructure sectors.

According to an estimate by the Planning Commission, the demand-supply gap for coal in the ongoing fiscal, which is also the terminal year of current Five-Year Plan, will be 142 million tonne (MT), with domestic availability of only 554 MT against the requirement of 696 MT.

According to the Coal ministry, the ‘no-go’ policy of the Environment Ministry, under which mining in 203 coal blocks is not allowed, has been the major reason for the increasing coal production shortfall.

The ‘no go’ mining issue, according to the ministry, has affected the potential production of 660 MT of coal per annum.

Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal had earlier said Prime Minister Singh was concerned over economic growth being hampered by bottlenecks in coal production.

A Group of Ministers (GoM) on Coal headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is already on the job to find a common ground between the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Power and Steel Ministry.