Request for diverting forest land in Saranda for Tata rejected

Forest Advisory Committee, which comes under MoEF, cited a lack of information as well as many inconsistencies in the proposal

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Thursday 18 April 2019
Village residents in the Saranda forest. Photo: Shruti Agarwal
Village residents in the Saranda forest. Photo: Shruti Agarwal Village residents in the Saranda forest. Photo: Shruti Agarwal

Citing lack of vital information, the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) has sent back the proposal for diverting 383.37 hectare (ha) of virgin forest land for mining in Nowamundi Iron Ore Mine in West Singbhum District of Jharkhand. The proposal was in favour of Tata Steel Ltd for carrying out iron ore mining in the Chaibasa South division of Saranda forest. The decision was taken by the FAC on the meeting held on March 28.

The area is a part of the Management plan for Sustainable mining (MPSM) in the Saranda forest of Jharkhand. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) had notified the MPSM in 2018 which divides the area of the entire Saranda forest into a “No Mining Zone” and Zone I and II where mining can take place. The No Mining Zone was created considering the ecological impact of mining on the forest.

The FAC is a body under the MoEF&CC that gives clearances to forest land diversion projects for non-forestry purposes.  

Apart from the lack of information, the FAC also found many inconsistencies in the proposal.

“On analysis of the shape files provided by the state government, it is learnt that the area is calculated as 338.4 instead of 383.37 ha. Further analysis reveals that 316.32 ha is under the mining zone and 22.09 ha is falling in the conservation zone area of MPSM,” the minutes of the meeting note.

The total lease area of the project is 1,160.06 ha, out of which 762.43 ha is recorded/notified forest. The remaining 397.63 ha is non-forest land. Of the recorded forest area, according to the minutes, 370.92 ha had already received approval under the provisions of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 on September 4, 2014.

“The state government shall calculate and demarcate the total forest area within the mining lease. A comprehensive detail of area already diverted and the balance area which requires diversion shall be verified. Correct shape file of the area already diverted and requested for diversion shall be provided. In the present proposal, the area sought for diversion is 383.37 ha whereas shape file is provided for 338.42 ha only. This discrepancy shall be explained by the state government,” the FAC told the state government.

“In the absence of requisite information, it is difficult to analyse the proposal. In this back drop, it was decided that the state government shall ensure that the proposal shall be submitted complete in all respect as per the requirements prescribed in Forest (Conservation) rules and subsequent guidelines thereof,” the FAC decided. 

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