Millennium Post

Govt mulls single clearance for forest, environment for 288 mining leases

New Delhi: The government has given in-principle approval to provide single clearance for environment and forest to the new lease holders of the 288 mining leases expiring in two years, a top official on Friday said.

"Environment Ministry has agreed that there will be no need to have a separate environment clearance (EC) and forest clearance (FC) to the new lease holders (of the 288 mines) as it is already allowed in the Coal Ministry.

"They (environment ministry) are in process of issuing necessary orders for it," Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma said here. She was speaking during India Mining Summit here.

Asserting that she was totally in favour of a single window system, Sharma said the auction of the expiring leases ought to be done in 2019. The leases of the 288 mines expire on March 31, 2020. The Secretary added hat ministries of mines, steel and environment are working together in this regard.

"I totally endorse the single window system....We can't afford to slip 2019. It has to be put on the auction floor in 2019," Sharma said.

Of the 288 mining leases, 59 are working leases, which give substantial production of key minerals viz iron ore, manganese, chromite ore etc.

The government had in March fixed the deadline at April 1, 2019 for general exploration of these 288 mining leases. The development followed amendment to the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 2017.

The government had said the auction process needs to be initiated well in advance to ensure a seamless transition from the existing to the new lessees so that mineral production is not affected due to expiry of these leases.

Earlier, the Centre had issued a directive which mentioned that all the existing leases have to be brought to an exploration level of G2 (general exploration) or G1 (detailed exploration) in five years' time.

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