Centre removes Bander coal mine from auction list but no decision on Chhattisgarh plea yet

Bander removed as it is part of the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Thursday 23 July 2020
The Centre has removed the Bander coal mine from the list of coal blocks to be auctioned. Photo: Agnimirh Basu / CSE

The Union Ministry of Coal has removed the Bander coal mine in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra from the list of mines that are up for the auction under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.

Bander was a part of the Tadoba–Andhari Tiger Reserve, the ministry said in a withdrawal notice issued on July 21, 2020. This was according to the notification declaring the area as an ecologically sensitive zone issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

“Accordingly, the Ministry of Coal has decided to withdraw the Bander Coal Mine form the auction process under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015,” the withdrawal notice stated.

The Chhattisgarh government has been asking the Union government to remove five coal blocks from the Hasdeo area in the state for similar reasons. But there has been no development on this front so far.

Mohammad Akbar, in-charge of the department of forests and environment in the Chhattisgarh government had written a letter to the Centre on June 20.

He had requested the Centre to remove Morga South, Morga II, Madanpur (North), Sayang and Fatehpur East from the list of coal blocks going for auction in the first tranche of auctions under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957.

Akbar had written that the state government had decided to convert a 1,995 kilometre-area near the Hasdeo river as the Lemru Elephant Reserve due to increasing human-elephant conflict there.

Moreover, the five coal blocks mentioned by Akbar, lie in the catchment areas of the Hasdeo and Mand, two important rivers in the region.

The letter had argued that these five coal blocks should be removed from the auction process, citing these reasons.

Pralhad Joshi, Union Minister of Coal and Mines, responded on June 21 that he had received the letter and had inquired about the status of the rivers’ catchment area.

The Chhattisgarh government wrote another letter on July 2, requesting the Centre to consider its request.

On June 18, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the auction process of 41 coal blocks for commercial mining through video conference.

It was part of the series of announcements made by the Government of India, under the AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.

The coal ministry, in association with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, launched the process of auction. A two-stage electronic auction process is being adopted for allocation of the coal mines.

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