Maharashtra's coal block in Chhattisgarh hits environmental hurdle

The coal block allotted to the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (MahaGenco) in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh district has hit another roadblock as the proposed public hearing for an environment clearance on June 27 has been postponed.

For the past one year, the company had been waiting to get the green nod for developing the Gare Palma sector–II coal block located in the Mand Raigarh coalfields in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh district. The company was allotted the coal block in 2015.

The first public hearing was scheduled for April 17, 2018, but was postponed. It was rescheduled for June 27, 2019. At a time when villagers in the district are up in arms against the project, the process of conducting a public hearing was legally challenged. “Only a member secretary of state pollution control board is empowered to decide the date and venue of a public hearing, whereas in this case (of Gare Palma-II), the power has been delegated to the regional office of the SPCB,” said social activist Ramesh Agrawal.

On Thursday, Agrawal challenged a Chhattisgarh High Court ruling that the public hearing on June 27 be held in presence of a member secretary of the board. Surprisingly, the District Collector of Raigarh issued an order postponing the public hearing. “The proceeding was postponed following a letter from the Superintendent of Police citing law and order issues,” a district administration spokesperson said.  

The latest development would further delay the process of developing the coal block that is spread across a 2,583.486-hectare area with geological reserves of 1,059.761 million tonne (mt). MahaGenco had initially planned to produce 23.60 million tonne per annum (mtpa) coal from the mine to feed its power plants at Koradi, Chandrapur and Parli. It had appointed the Adani group as the mine developer and operator.

The company is also planning to set up a plant at a location which is close to the block in Maharashtra or Chhattisgarh to save ransportation costs from the rail-head.

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