No-go mining areas
Since 2015, of the 49 blocks cleared for coal mining, nine were in ‘No-Go’ areas, or regions that were once classified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change as containing very dense forests and hence closed to coal mining.
In 2020, of the 41 blocks put up for auction, 21 feature in the original No-Go list, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has said.
What are ‘no-go’ areas?
- In 2009, the environment and coal ministries had jointly placed the country’s forested areas under two categories – Go and No-Go – and imposed a ban on mining in the ‘No-Go’ zones on environmental grounds.
- ‘No Go’ areas are those having either more than 10 per cent weighted forest cover (WFC) or more than 30 per cent gross forest cover (GFC). The concept has no legal standing– They are mandated neither under Forest Conservation Rules, 2003 nor under any circular issued by the ministry of environment and forests.
What is the issue?
- As per the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, a ban on mining in areas of thick forest cover has locked away millions of tonnes of coal reserves.
- According to the power ministry, coal shortage is likely to hold up new power projects of over 17,000 mw aggregate capacity. This has triggered debate among the ministries of coal, power and steel on the ‘Go, No-Go’ concept’s merits.
- However, it is also to be noted that currently India is not utilising its existing capacity fully i.e. 67% of the mines auctioned since 2015 are not operational yet.