In a major boost to industry, an empowered committee of the environment ministry is learnt to have cleared at least 12 projects, including some big-ticket ones, in the steel and mining sector, entailing an investment of nearly Rs 28,000 crore.
The expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the ministry of environment and forests deliberated at length during the last three days on the fate of 28 projects entailing an investment of R80,000 crore.
The EAC has cleared 12 projects so far. While internal deliberations would go on, the panel has ‘favourably considered’ SAIL’s proposed 1-million-tonne per annum pellet plant along with upstream slime benefaction facilities at its Dalli-Rajhara iron ore mine in Chhattisgarh.
The EAC is learnt to have also vetted modification in the existing environment clearance for the expansion and modernisation of the PSU’s Bhilai steel plant. These projects have an estimated investment of Rs 19,000 crore. However, in both cases, the EAC has asked the company to maintain the ecology and environment as per the laid-down norms. This is the first set of stranded investments that the new NDA government, which was sworn in on May 26, has taken up for consideration.
Among the other projects cleared include some mining projects of Hindustan Copper and mining corporations of various state governments.
Some of the project proponents have been asked to furnish information pertaining to their project areas which include possible wildlife corridors and measurement of ambient air quality impacting the flora from a credible laboratory.
The newly constituted EAC will likely meet next month to re-examine the remaining projects once they have furnished the requisite information. The next round of EAC may also examine coal, power, port, airport and road projects for which the list is being firmed up. However, on certain projects, the EAC was categorical that the proponents needed to factor in the possible discharge of effluents in the rivers adjoining the project sites.