The Orissa government has urged the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to allow it some more time to fulfill conditions regarding diversion of entire forest land in a mining area.
The ministry, had, in July 2012, stipulated that approval under the Forest Conservation Act for diversion of the entire forest land located within the mining lease area, including the land inside the safety zone, was necessary before execution of a mining lease. The ministry allowed existing mining leaseholders time till January 31, 2015, for obtaining forest clearances for the undiverted forests within the lease area.
With all mines of state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) now set to be adversely affected by the end of this month due to the rule, the state’s chief secretary GC Pati, in a letter to MoEFCC secretary Ashok Lavasa last week, requested the ministry allow time to the firm till June 30 for diversion of entire forest land so that its four operational mines can continue to work.
Till July 2012, the environment ministry was approving diversion of only the portion of forest land that was required for mining purposes, leaving the balance land undiverted, while mining leases were being executed with partial diversion of forest land required.
Mining was allowed in the diverted forest land together with non-forest land after payment of the NPV (net present value) for non-diverted balance forest area.
Of the 35 mines allotted to the OMC, only four — two iron ore and two chromite mines — are operational. These four mining leases are operating on the basis of part forest clearances.