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EAC may consider NMDC’s 2 projects in Ch’garh soon

The Expert Appraisal Committee, the top advisory body in the Environment Ministry, is likely to take up next week two stalled projects of state-owned NMDC for grant of preliminary environment clearance.

The projects are the iron ore beneficiation plant of 4 million tonnes capacity at Bacheli and construction of a 150- km long slurry pipeline from Bacheli to NMDC’s upcoming Rs 15,525-crore steel plant in Nagarnar.

The Expert Appraisal Committee (for non-coal mining) will discuss grant of terms of reference to both the projects in its meeting, which is scheduled to be held on March 20-21, official sources said.

Both the projects are in Chhattisgarh, where NMDC's main iron ore mining operations are located. The two projects are vital raw material link to company's steel plant in the state, through which NMDC is venturing into the steel sector.

NMDC has already knocked the door of Prime Minister's Project Monitoring Group, which was set up to fast-track stalled large investment projects, as five of its new and expansion projects, including the 4 million tonnes iron ore beneficiation plant, is stuck for want of clearances.

The Expert Appraisal Committee is the top advisory body in the Environment Ministry for issues related to environment, including grant of environment clearances. All clearances related to environment are granted by the Ministry only after getting recommendations of this body.

Grant of terms of reference (ToR) is considered as the first stage environment clearance in the industry parlance and through this details of the projects are approved. After meeting certain milestones set in the ToR, project developers become eligible for final environment clearance.

Sources said NMDC had moved its application for forest clearance for the 4 million tonnes Bacheli beneficiation plant in October, 2012, as it requires 33 hectares of forest land.

The proposal has not yet been considered by the forest department for registration and allotment of registration number for further process, they said.

The ToR related to environment clearance for the project has also not been granted, due to which work has not yet commenced.

Similarly, ToR has not yet been decided for construction of the 150 km long slurry pipeline between the Bacheli complex and Nagarnar steel plant, leading to delay in construction.

The capacity of the pipeline has been proposed at 15 MT.

Sources said delays in construction of the slurry pipeline and the beneficiation plant will not impact the steel plant initially but cost would rise these two projects get prolonged.

Raw materials can be transported through trucks initially to the 3 MTPA steel plant as the site is not far from NMDC's existing iron ore operations in the state.

Construction of 32-km long water pipeline, which is also part of the steel plant, is among the stalled projects of NMDC. The pipeline corridor requires forest clearance as it falls in forest area involving 27.50 hectares.
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