At a time when the Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) is planning to open several new mines this year to improve its performance, its proposals for environmental clearance for one integrated (opencast-cum-underground) project and expansion of one opencast project have been put on hold by the expert appraisal committee of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) recently.

The coal company has plans to open/expand 13 mines this year as part of its five-year plan to take the production to 85 million tonnes from the present (2017-18) 62 million tonnes. Accordingly, it has moved the MoEF seeking terms of reference as part of environmental clearance for Kakatiya Khani (KTK) Opencast-III and an underground project with 4.23 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) capacity in Jayashankar Bhupalapalli district.

According to officials, the proposal has been put on hold by the expert committee of MoEF by suggesting inclusion of leftover of Kakatiya Longwall Project (KLP) with 3.13 MTPA, which was given environmental clearance in May 2015, in the proposal. The company later proposed conversion of KLP underground coal mining project into Kakatiya Khani Opencast-III Project Phase-I in August 2017 in an area of 1555.31 ha with 3 MTPA capacity in order to sustain coal production from the area to fulfil committed supply to 500 MW Kakatiya Thermal Power Project near Chelpur beyond 2019-20.

However, after the proposal was considered for grant of terms of reference the company proposed to withdraw the proposal and submitted a fresh proposal for an integrated mine in the name of Kakatiya Khani OC-III project with 3.75 MTPA and underground project with 0.48 MTPA in 1336.64 ha area. It is stated that the project would generate permanent employment of 252 (opencast) and 1,113 (underground) and another 960 contractual workers.

After deliberations, the expert panel asked the project proponent (SCCL) to explore chances for inclusion of the left over of KLP into the present proposal. It also suggested the company to approach the Ministry of Coal for clarification/comments on its (MoEF) observations for further consideration of the proposal.

In the case of the proposal seeking amendment in the existing environmental clearance for expansion of Manuguru Opencast–II project in Khammam district from 5 MTPA to 6.25 MTPA in 1526.20 ha area the expert panel deferred the proposal insisting upon revision of the mining plan.

Officials of SCCL stated that the revision includes annexing 368.92 ha of land, out of another 1,679.56 ha of forest land meant for the project, which has been given Stage-I forest clearance in April this year.

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