India’s Coal Ministry has said it will limit coal mining to degraded forest areas and enforce strict ‘no go’ areas in its thick forests, wildlife sanctuaries and parks, according to The Times of India.

Instead, companies will be encouraged to operate in degraded forest areas, which account for 55% of the forest area, through a speedier environmental approval process.

Degraded forests are those that are not suitable for plantation.

India has coal reserves of 270 billion tonnes with around 75% located in the states of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

The government’s proposal for new power plants to strengthen the country’s power sector requires coal production to be doubled to one billion tonnes by 2012, India’s Business Standard newspaper has reported.