New Delhi: Struggling to enhance output, the world's largest coal miner Coal India today received a shot in the arm with the government announcing the allocation of Chhindwara mine to it.
The mine is located within the migratory corridor between Pench and Satpuda Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh.
The move follows the environment ministry allowing mining in the block on the condition that it be notified as a Coal India block.
The coal ministry had recently notified the mine with about 22 million tonnes (MT) of reserves and is spread across about 4 km as non-CIL block for allotment to private players for captive use.
"The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has recommended mining in 60-Dhau North block located within the migratory corridor between the Pench and Satpuda Tiger Reserves identified by MoEF, subject to the condition that mining in the block is allowed, only if the said block is notified as Coal India Limited block," the coal ministry said today.
The block has been alloted to Coal India arm Western Coalfields Ltd (WCL) for working through the existing incline of the Nandan-II block, it added.
"Keeping in view of the above, the competent authority has decided to assign the 60-Dhau North block of Knahan area in Chhindwara district in Madhya Pradesh to Coal India," it said in a letter to Coal India.
It asked the world's largest coal miner to take necessary steps to explore and develop the coal block and initiate mining operations through the existing infrastructure.
It also asked the world's largest coal miner to obtain all statutory clearances from the central as well as state ministries, departments and agencies before commencing the mining operations.
Earlier, an MoEF panel which had visited the area had given recommendations that mining could be initiated in the block only if it is notified as a Coal India-block saying WCL is already carrying mining in adjoining Nandan mine and creation of new infrastructure will cause disturbance in the corridor.
The block approval was pending for about two years.
Coal India, which is battling to enhance production, missed the output target of last fiscal by 3 percent, producing 452.5 MT as against the target of 464 MT.
The coal major has signed a memorandum of understanding with the coal ministry to set its production and offtake targets at 482 MT and 490 MT, respectively, for 2013-14.