In a bid to expedite operations from the recently allocated coal mines, the Environment Ministry has allowed transfer of environment clearances granted to the previous allottees to new owners without any fresh approval.
As per earlier norms, the environment clearance (EC) for any project was allowed to transfer to another applicant with a written 'no objection' by the transferor, to and by the regulatory authority concerned.
Now, the ministry has made amendments to the September 2006 EIA notification, allowing transfer of EC to new coal block allottees without taking 'no objection' nod from previous owners.
"Where an allocation of coal block is cancelled in any legal proceedings or by the government in accordance with law, the environment clearance granted in respect of such coal block may be transferred, subject to the same validity period as was initially granted, to any legal person to whom such block is subsequently allocated," said the gazette notification dated March 23.
In such cases, the ministry said that there would be no requirement of obtaining "no objection" from either the holder of environment clearance or from the regulatory authority concerned.
It also said that "no reference shall be made to the Expert Appraisal Committee or the State Level Expert Appraisal Committee concerned."
Sources said that the changes have been brought as new coal block allottees feared that old allottees would create problems in transferring EC with no objection nod, thus delaying the commencement of mining operations.
The Centre has recently auctioned 29 blocks in two phases to companies like Monnet, GMR Chhattisgarh, Hindalco, Reliance Cement among others, garnering about Rs 2 lakh crore. The auction follows the Supreme Court cancellation of 204 coal blocks last year.
After the successful two rounds of coal block auctions, the government will commence the third round for 16 mines later this month. Of the 16 mines, 11 would be for the power sector and five for non-power.