Jan 09, 2013, 09.25 AM IST
Against a backdrop of concerns over environmental degradation, the Coal Ministry announced modified guidelines for mines closure with stricter provisions that provide for reclamation work in a phased manner.
Also, the government has made it mandatory for all mine owners who are yet to obtain the approval of mine closure plan to procure it by January 2014, failing which it had warned to take action against defaulters. It said in case of mines of government companies, their board has been delegated for approval of the mining closure plan while in case of others it is Standing Committee, constituted by the Ministry of Coal.
Under the norms mine owners would be required to undertake protective measures in the closure plans, including reclamation and rehabilitation works. Announcing the modified guidelines it also made it clear that now up to 80 per cent of the total deposited amount including interest accrued in the Escrow account may be released after every five years in line with the periodic examination of the closure plan.
"The amount released should be equal to expenditure incurred on the progressive mine closure in past five years or 80 per cent whichever is less," the guidelines said. It said the balance amount would be released to the mine holder at the end of the final Mine Closure "on compliance of all provisions of closure plan duly signed by the lessee to the effect that said closure of mine complied all statutory rules, regulations, orders made by the Central or State government, statutory organisations, court etc., duly certified by the Coal Controller."
In May last year, the Coal Ministry had made it mandatory for mine owners to open escrow accounts with scheduled banks, with the Coal Controller's Organisation (CCO) as an exclusive beneficiary. An escrow account is a special account for holding specific funds for disbursement under specific conditions.
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