State-run Coal India (CIL) is running 239 mines in its seven coal producing subsidiaries without environment clearances, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said today.
"In all, 239 mines in seven coal producing subsidiaries, which existed prior to 1994... Were working without environmental clearance... Mining activities without prior environmental clearance were in total violation of the instructions of the MoEF," CAG said.
These include 48 open-cast, 170 underground and 21 combined mines.
The Maharatna firm, which is the biggest producer of the dry fossil fuel across the world, has drawn flak from the CAG at a time when Ministry of Forest and Environment (MoEF), and the Coal Ministry have locked horns over delays in environment clearance to projects.
MoEF in 2009 had categorised 203 coal blocks with potential annual production capacity of 660 million tonne, as 'no go' mining zone, which is being contested by Coal Ministry. The matter is pending before a Group of Ministers (GoM), formed to find a solution to address issues hurting production.
In its report, the CAG also pointed out that of the 18 sample open-cast and eight underground mines, ten mines had undertaken capacity expansion without environmental clearances.
The increased output from there was to the tune of 45.70 million tonne during April 2002 to March 2010.
The CAG did not buy the CIL management's contention that the production was increased to meet the energy needs of the country, including supply crisis in power plants, and to make up for the shortfall in production in some collieries.
When contacted, CIL Chairman NC Jha said that the applications for clearances to the projects have already been submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The public sector firm's coal producing subsidiaries are -- Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL), West Bengal, Bharat Coking Coal (BCCL), Jharkhand, Central Coalfields (CCL), Jharkhand, South Eastern Coalfields (SECL), Chhattisgarh, Western Coalfields (WCL), Maharashtra, Northern Coalfields (NCL), Madhya Pradesh and Mahanadi Coalfields (MCL), Orissa.
Besides, it has one more wholly-owned subsidiary - Coal Mines Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL), Jharkhand.
The company which accounts for over 85% of domestic production, recorded an output of 431 million tonne last fiscal.
The performance audit of the CIL and its subsidiaries was conducted by CAG with a view to assess whether the companies were able to fulfil their CSR activities in an efficient manner towards environmental protection, safety requirement, occupational health of workers.
CIL operates 470 mines, including 164 open cast, 275 underground and 31 mixed mines.