Essar gets permission for controversial forest clearance

The lumberjacks are set to do all right after Essar Energy, the India-focused integrated energy company, gained permission to chop down trees close to its Mahan coal block, but forest dwellers are reportedly far from happy with the decision.

The lumberjacks are set to do all right after Essar Energy, the India-focused integrated energy company, gained permission to chop down trees close to its Mahan coal block, but forest dwellers are reportedly far from happy with the decision.

Essar secured Stage One forest clearance from the Government of India's Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for its Mahan coal block.

The Stage One clearance of Mahan coal block will speed up the supply of fuel to Essar Energy's nearby 1,200 megawatt Mahan phase I power project, which is due to be commissioned in the near future. The block was allocated in 2006 to Mahan Coal Ltd, a joint venture between Essar Energy and Hindalco.

Naresh Nayyar, Chief Executive Officer of Essar Energy, said the Mahan I power plant will deliver "much needed electricity for the people of India."

"This is a major step forward in our strategy of providing full fuel security for all of our power generation assets, thereby eliminating price and delivery risks. We also intend to set the best standards in protecting the rights and livelihoods of nearby villagers, restoring forest cover following mining work and conserving wildlife," Nayyar added.

The Times of India reported on October 15th that environmentalists have been concerned about the expansion of coal mines in the region and the effects it will have on forest dwellers.

According to estimates in a report entitled 'Countering Coal', around 1.1m hectares of forest is under threat in the Central Indian region from just 13 coal fields.

"If the Indian government implements its expansion programme then over 14,000 tribal people will lose their traditional homes and way of life in just one coal block of Mahan alone," the report says, according to the Times of India.

JH

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