New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called a high-level meeting on May 19 to resolve issues like coal shortages and environment clearances amid inter-ministerial differences causing delay in execution of projects.

"The meeting will be held on Thursday (May 19) to assess the progress made in the first four years of the current Plan and resolve the differences among the ministries," a senior
Coal Ministry official said.

This will include the power capacity addition targets achieved between 2007-08 and 2010-11 and projects stranded due to coal shortages and environment clearance, the official said.

The meeting, to be chaired by Singh, will be attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and Planning
Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The official said that "an assessment will also be made for the actual requirements of Power, Coal and other ministries for the terminal year (2011-12) of the current Plan and next Five-Year Plan in the meeting"

According to an estimate made by the Planning Commission, the demand-supply gap for coal in the ongoing year, which is also the terminal year of current Five-Year Plan, has been assessed at 142 million tonnes (MT) with domestic availability of only 554 MT against the requirement of 696 MT.

However, the Coal Ministry feels that the 'no-go' policy of Environment Ministry, under which mining in 203 coal blocks is not allowed, has been the major reason for increase in coal shortages.

According to the Coal Ministry, the 'no go' mining diktat has affected a potential production of 660 MT of coal per annum.

"Prime Minister has shown serious concern that the country's growth should not be hampered and at the same time issues raised by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) are also resolved," Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal had said last week.
The Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is already on the job to find a common ground between the MoEF on the one hand and coal, power and steel on the other.

The MoEF has stopped giving clearances for no-go areas on the ground that it would destroy forests. However, the ministries of coal, power and steel want relaxation in the green norms, arguing that their strict enforcement would hurt energy generation and economic growth.

Agencies