Home > In the Media > 2010: An action-packed year for Environment Ministry

2010: An action-packed year for Environment Ministry

Hindu Businessline

New Delhi, Jan. 5

The Environment and Forests Ministry was in news throughout 2010 — be it for Vedanta Resources, Posco and Lavasa — or for the Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Mr Jairam Ramesh’s aggressive green activism.

While the Ministry rejected the green signal to Vedanta for its $1.7 billion project to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills of Orissa noting that the company violated the environment and forests rules, it put the $12 billion project by South Korean steelmaker Posco under scanner.

The Posco project seeks diversion of 1,253.225 hectares of forest land for the establishment of Integrated Steel Plant and Captive Port in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district.

The Ministry was also in news for holding up the Rs 3,000-crore Lavasa project in Maharashtra.

Lavasa has challenged the Ministry’s directive in the Bombay High Court.

Two mega projects which got conditional clearance last year are Navi Mumbai International Airport to handle 60 million passengers annually by 2030 and 10,000 MW Jaitapur nuclear plant in Maharashtra.

The Ministry invited the wrath of some other ministries particularly coal for its objection to mining activities in forest areas.

Mr Ramesh was forced to agree to increase the “go zone” for coal mining in forest areas, following intervention by the Prime Minister’s Office after the Coal Minister, Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal, expressed his unhappiness at the Environment Ministry’s decision to declare 40 coal blocks under nine collieries as “no go area” where no mining will be allowed.

“Go areas” are the designated zones in forest areas where coal mining is allowed in case they meet the environment clearance. Mr Jaiswal had complained to the PMO that dividing coal fields into “go” and “no go” areas would result in a massive 600 million tonne annual shortfall in production.

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