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Mumbai Difficulties in land acquisition, coal block auctions and receiving environmental clearances are the key challenges plaguing India’s power sector, stated Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, in Mumbai on Friday.

Addressing shareholders at the 93rd annual general meeting (AGM) of the Tata Power, he said: “The main fuel for meeting increasing energy needs in the country is coal. There are concerns on coal and land auction which have to be addressed.”

The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) is planning to make public hearings mandatory for all mining licences coming up for renewal or where the mine is going in for expansion. The move is expected to add another layer of control over mining activities at a time when the Prime Minister’s Office is keen to ease regulations and speed up projects.

Public hearing is a mandatory step in the process of environmental clearance for addressing concerns of affected persons which is conducted by the state pollution control board (SPCB). It is supposed to be completed within 45 days from the date of receipt of the request letter from the applicant, but often, the time taken is much more. Normally, the process is adopted while giving a fresh mining lease.

More than 5-year-old quarries banned in some districts

It may take a few months for authorities to open new sand quarries on the Cauvery-Coleroon river basin in the wake of the recent order of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. One of the decisions taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Saturday was that sites for new quarries should be identified and approval from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) secured.

As per the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006, prior environmental clearance is mandatory for projects listed in its schedule.

The document contains the Order of Tribunal dated 9/8/12 (Apeal No.25/2012). The parties involved are Vinod R. Patel & Ors (Applicant / Appellant) and Gujarat State Level Impact Assessment Authority & Ors (Respondent).

Guidelines for issue of clearance for installation of mobile towers (based on new radiation norms w.e.f September 1st, 2012) -Single Window Clearance can be provided to telecom service provider / infrastructure provider after following points are verified by the local body / State Government. This will ensure issuance of faster clearances.

CSE warns against environmental debacle in Indian cities if resource guzzling and wastes in the building construction sector is not minimised.

The National Green Tribunal's decision to suspend the environmental clearance given to Posco vindicates the project's critics.

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Adivasi Majdoor Kisan Ekta Sangthan & Others Vs Ministry of Environment and Forests & Others regarding Environmental Clearance granted to Gare – IV/6 Coal Mining Project (4 MTPA) and a Pithead Coal Washery (4 MTPA) of M/s Jindal Steel & Power Limited located at Raigarh District of Chhattisgarh State, by the Ministry of Environment & Forests.

The Western Ghats is distinct for its inter-woven network of protected, reserved and community conserved forest areas comprising wildlife corridors spanning long distances, cutting across boundaries that segment it into states. The area has for long been, under constant pressure from unplanned and unrestrained "developmental activities" like mining, thermal power plants, industries, commercial tourism and construction projects, notwithstanding the fragility of its ecosystem.

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