Approval of 17 Coal Blocks Auction of Triggers Wildlife Concerns
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Approval of 17 Coal Blocks Auction of Triggers Wildlife Concerns

Hindustan Times reported that the Chhattisgarh Cabinet has approved auctioning of 17 out of 18 coal blocks identified by the central

Hindustan Times reported that the Chhattisgarh Cabinet has approved auctioning of 17 out of 18 coal blocks identified by the central government in the state. The 17 blocks, which are expected to generate around 8,000 million tonne of coal, are located in Dharamjaigarh, Sarguja, Surajpur and Koriya forest divisions. An official familiar with the matter said “The nod for the auction was given at a cabinet meeting but Barra coal block, which is in Raigarh district, has been exempted from the auction in view of the presence of a major human settlement in the area.”

It has triggered concerns on the impact of mining activities in wildlife-rich areas that are home to several elephants, sloth bears and leopards. Activists believe the approval was granted despite no increase in demand for coal. Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan NGO convener Mr Alok Shukla said “The state government should have opposed commercial mining as Chhattisgarh is already facing consequences in the form of environmental destruction and displacements.”

A senior official in the environment ministry said “We can intervene only when the project proponent comes to us for forest clearance or wildlife clearance. We can also comment or study the matter if we are asked to by a court if there is a legal case involved. On the overall issue of mining in the state, we cannot intervene.”

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