KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) - Villagers’ opposition has stalled a 10-million tonne a year coal washery project in the eastern Indian province of Odisha, proposed by Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of major Coal India Limited (CIL).
The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), under the Forest and Environment Ministry, has taken cognisance of villagers opposing the washery project on environmental grounds and deferred taking any decision on the project proposal submitted by MCL, a senior government official said.
As per regulations, a nod from the EAC was mandatory for coal projects the official said adding that the public hearing conducted by MCL could not be considered to be complete since there were no attendance of local villagers at the single hearing conducted for the washery project.
The EAC report said that the Forest and Environment Ministry would need to raise the issue of a formal public hearing with MCL, the Odisha government and community level governing bodies, but the official said that no date had yet been set for any kind of fresh appraisal and the project would been approval of locals putting the $51-million investment in uncertainty.
Apart from opposition from villagers at the project site, MCL had also failed to submit any base line data beyond the core zone of the washery project or details on predicted emission levels in the buffer zone of the project, the official added.
The setback to the MCL project has also dealt a blow to the Coal Ministry’s plan to construct 15 new washery project by September 2017, and ramp up total coal washing capacity in the country to 115-million tonnes a year..
Currently there were 17 washeries operational with aggregate installed capacity of 38-million tonnes a year.
The Coal Ministry deadline of October 2017 set for CIL under which all coal above the G10 grade supplied to thermal power plants would have be mandatorily washed, had also become uncertain now.
Coal grades ranged between G1 and G17, with the highest grade rated for calorific value of 7 400 kcal while G10 was categorized as moderate graded with calorific value ranging 2 000 to 2 500 kcal.